From stagflation to debt crises


Jongrim Ha, M. Ayhan Kose, Franziska Ohnsorge 12 July 2022

The worldwide financial system is within the midst of a steep progress slowdown accompanied by multi-decade excessive inflation. World inflation forecasts for 2022-23 have been sharply upgraded, whereas international progress forecasts have been downgraded over the previous 12 months (Determine 1). This mixture of excessive inflation and weak progress has raised considerations a couple of probably extended interval of stagflation that resembles the Seventies (DeLong 2022, Verwey et al. 2022). Some argue that central banks have to sharply improve coverage rates of interest to get forward of inflation (Buiter and Sibert 2022, Domash and Summers 2022). 

This historic precedent additionally raises worries in regards to the threat of debt crises in rising market and growing economies (EMDEs), harking back to the early Eighties when huge will increase in coverage rates of interest have been wanted to tame inflation.

Determine 1 World progress and inflation forecasts


Sources: Consensus Economics; World Financial institution.
Be aware: Development forecasts for combination teams are weighted by GDP in US {dollars} based mostly on 86 nations, and inflation forecasts are based mostly on median based mostly on 83 nations. The final remark is June 2022.

One other traumatic tightening cycle on the horizon?

By some measures, right this moment’s inflation is akin to that within the early Eighties (Bolhuis et al. 2022). Wanting forward, international inflation is predicted to peak this 12 months and decline to about 3% in mid-2023 as international progress slows, financial coverage tightens, fiscal help is withdrawn, commodity costs stage off, and provide bottlenecks ease. This is able to nonetheless be about one proportion level above its common in 2019. For now, consensus forecasts recommend that inflation expectations stay well-anchored over the medium time period, even when a pickup in inflation is predicted within the brief time period. 

Nonetheless, there’s a threat that inflation expectations will ultimately de-anchor, as they did within the Seventies, because of persistently above-target inflation and repeated inflationary shocks. Considerations about persistently above-target inflation have already prompted central banks in most superior economies and lots of EMDEs to tighten financial coverage. Monetary markets now anticipate a 200–400 foundation level improve in financial coverage charges by the US Federal Reserve, the ECB, and the Financial institution of England over the course of 2022-23 to be wanted to return inflation into goal ranges in these nations. Such a tightening cycle could be average by historic requirements (Determine 2). 

Determine 2 Rates of interest and inflation throughout US tightening cycles

Sources: Federal Reserve Financial Knowledge; Havers Analytics; World Financial institution.
Be aware: Blue bars present the extent of cumulative US coverage fee will increase throughout earlier Federal Reserve tightening cycles: 1979-81, 1983-84, 1986-89, 1994-95, 1999-2000, 2004-06, 2015-19. Worth for 2023 is an estimate based mostly on market expectations for the extent of the Fed Funds fee in mid-2023. Pink bars present core CPI inflation charges, the most recent information for 2022-23. 

If inflation expectations come adrift, the rate of interest will increase required to deliver inflation again to focus on might be a lot better than these presently anticipated by monetary markets. For comparability, within the Seventies, it took a doubling of worldwide rates of interest to 14% over six years (1975-1981). In 1979-1981 alone, US coverage charges rose by 9 proportion factors to 19%. These synchronous coverage fee hikes around the globe did deliver the Nice Inflation to an finish. Nonetheless, additionally they triggered a world recession in 1982 and sparked a collection of debt crises in EMDEs within the Eighties (Ha et al. 2022a, 2022b).  

Giant debt accumulation: Then and now 

Within the Seventies and early Eighties, as now, excessive debt, elevated inflation, and weak fiscal positions made EMDEs susceptible to tightening monetary situations. The stagflation of the Seventies coincided with the primary international wave of debt accumulation prior to now half-century (Determine 3, Kose et al. 2020). Low international actual rates of interest and the speedy growth of syndicated mortgage markets inspired a surge in EMDE debt, particularly in Latin America and lots of low-income nations, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Determine 3 Debt and rates of interest


Sources: Federal Reserve Financial Knowledge; Haver Analytics; Worldwide Financial Fund; Kose et al. (2020); World Financial institution.
Notes: A. GDP-weighted averages based mostly on a pattern of as much as 153 EMDEs. 4 waves of broad-based debt buildup in EMDEs since 1970 embrace the next: 1970-89; 1990-2001; 2002-09; 2010 onwards; B. Determine exhibits the typical annual change in whole debt. Fee of change is calculated as the entire improve in debt-to-GDP ratios over the period of a wave, divided by the variety of years in a wave; C. Exterior debt (per cent of GDP) relies on a GDP-weighted common of as much as 137 EMDEs. The international forex share of presidency debt is a mean of as much as 36 EMDEs; D. Determine exhibits nominal and actual (CPI-adjusted) short-term rates of interest (Treasury invoice charges or cash market charges, with the maturity of three months or much less). World rates of interest are weighted by GDP in US {dollars}. The pattern consists of 113 nations, though the pattern dimension varies by 12 months.

Financial coverage tightening in superior economies sharply elevated the price of borrowing, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the place variable-rate debt accounted for greater than half of whole debt in 1982. Curiosity funds on exterior debt by LAC nations rose sharply, from a mean of 1.6% of GDP in 1975-79 to five% of GDP by 1982. A steep progress slowdown weakened debt servicing capability additional. Over the Eighties, greater than three dozen debt crises erupted, principally in LAC and sub-Saharan Africa (Determine 4).

Determine 4 Monetary crises and vulnerabilities in EMDEs


Sources: Kose et al. (2020); Haver Analytics; Worldwide Financial Fund; Laeven and Valencia (2020); World Financial institution.
Notes: A. Whole variety of banking, forex, and sovereign debt crises in EMDEs over respective durations; B. Medians based mostly on a pattern of as much as 155 EMDEs.

Ought to steep coverage fee hikes now once more be required to deliver inflation in superior economies underneath management, EMDEs would as soon as once more face extreme challenges. Whole EMDE debt is at a document excessive of 207% of GDP. EMDE authorities debt, at 64% of GDP, is at its highest stage in three many years, and about one-half of it’s denominated in international forex, and greater than two-fifths are held by non-residents within the median EMDE (Kose et al. 2022). A pointy improve in borrowing value – or the sharp forex depreciation that always accompanies coverage tightening in superior economies – may as soon as once more set off sovereign debt misery as these economies have even bigger vulnerabilities now than earlier than the pandemic. About 60% of the poorest nations are already in, or at excessive threat of, debt misery.  


If inflation stays above goal for a chronic interval, there’s a threat that inflation expectations come adrift. A lot bigger coverage fee hikes in superior economies would then be required to realize the identical inflation goal. Coupled with excessive debt and sizeable fiscal and present account deficits of many EMDEs, there’s a hazard that monetary stress will emerge in these economies amid a steep international progress slowdown. These dangers are notably acute amongst these EMDEs with massive present account deficits and a heavy reliance on international capital inflows, in addition to these with excessive ranges of short-term or international currency-denominated authorities or personal debt. These economies have to get able to climate the storm related to the tightening cycle. This begins with a cautious calibration, credible formulation, and clear communication of their insurance policies. 


Bolhuis, M A, J N L Cramer and L H Summers (2022), “Previous and Current Inflation Are Extra Comparable Than You Suppose,”, June 22.  

Buiter, W and A Sibert (2022), “Central Banks Are Nonetheless Far Behind the Inflation Curve,” Mission Syndicate, June 9. 

DeLong, J B (2022), “Why the US Federal Reserve’s Choices Are Restricted,” Mission Syndicate, June 14. 

Domash, A and L H Summers (2022), “Overheating Circumstances Point out Excessive Likelihood of a US Recession,”, April 22.  

Ha, J, M A Kose and F Ohnsorge (2022a), “World Stagflation”, CEPR Dialogue Paper 17381.

Ha, J, M A Kose and F Ohnsorge (2022b), “At present’s inflation and the Nice Inflation of the Seventies: Similarities and variations”,, April 30.  

Kose, M A, F Ohnsorge and N Sugawara (2022), “A Mountain of Debt: Navigating the Legacy of the Pandemic,” World Financial institution Coverage Analysis Working Paper No. 9800.

Kose, M A, P Nagle, F Ohnsorge and N Sugawara (2020), World Waves of Debt, Washington, DC: World Financial institution. 

Kose, M A, N Sugawara and M Terrones (2020), “World Recessions”, World Financial institution Coverage Analysis Working Paper 9172. 

Laeven, L and F Valencia (2020), “Systemic Banking Crises Database II”, IMF Financial Evaluation 68(2): 307-361.

Verwey, M, L Bardone and Okay Orsini (2022), “Russian Invasion Assessments EU Financial Resilience,”, Could 20.



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