Debt Overhang

Understanding The Birth of A Crisis

Abhishek Kothari
8 min readNov 2, 2018

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“With parsimony a little is sufficient; and without it nothing is sufficient; whereas frugality makes a poor man rich” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

The world is on the hunt for the next financial crisis. Perhaps, not wrongfully. It seems like Black Swan events occur so frequently there is nothing outrageous in the world today. Truth has far outpaced fiction in terms of its strangeness. The 2008 subprime mortgage crisis in the United States woke up the world to the possibility of a local epidemic becoming a global contagion capable of effectively shutting down countries in a heartbeat. There are various conjectures about the origin of the next financial crisis. It could be student loans or perhaps something bigger — a sovereign public debt default.

Before the 2008 crisis, the world did not truly understand the interconnected nature of economies. Globalization forged strong economic connections between economies and derivative instruments such as Credit Default Swaps (CDS’s) and Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS’s) helped make those connections riskier. These instruments were originally designed to bring liquidity into the banking system. Today, Lewis Ranieri-the creator of MBS’s laments the role his creation played in wreaking havoc in global financial markets. This article explains sovereign public debt and poses another question: will the high levels of sovereign public debt result in the next financial crisis? Or, should we be looking elsewhere?

Public debt, or national debt, is the total debt borrowed all government bodies of a county. This debt can be borrowed from a country’s citizens or from outsiders by issuing bonds. Private debt is the debt accumulated by individuals and private corporations e.g. student loans, mortgages, credit cards, working capital loans, debentures etc.

Not All Public Debt Is Created Equal

One Friday morning in 2001, I was on a flight to Kenya. My cousin sister was sitting next to me. As some brothers would, I queried her about her plans to go shopping for antiques in Kenya. She smiled and responded ‘I have created a well crafted budget that does not involve spending any…

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Abhishek Kothari

Futurist@The Intersection of Finance, Tech & Humanity. Stories of a Global Language: “Money”. Contributor @ Startup Grind, HackerNoon, HBR