Levels of government borrowing have picked up since the financial crisis and continue to rise as economic powers like Japan and Europe remain mired in very slow growth and many emerging and poorer economies struggle with the plunge in income from commodities like oil and metals.

The higher borrowing makes it harder for governments to spend any more to support growth, as the Fund has urged.

On average for advanced economies, the IMF said in its new Fiscal Monitor report, "public debt now exceeds the level observed during the Great Depression and is approaching the level immediately after World War II."

For advanced economies, debt has risen to over 107 percent of gross domestic product, with Japan at almost 250 percent.

Emerging market economies are better off at just under 50 percent of GDP, but their needs are rising and many face greater challenges, including sharply higher fiscal deficits, than the advanced economies.

The IMF lowered its global growth forecast for 2016 yesterday to 3.2 per cent and warned of the risk that growth could stall worldwide if action was not taken.

Slow growth means that the financing needs of many countries are rising just as the availability of funds is tightening. The US central bank in particular has begun to raise interest rates, hiking the costs of borrowing for most countries.
As a result, more countries are approaching the World Bank and IMF for support.

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