Worldwide debt more than triple economic output as central bank shift looms

LONDON (Reuters) – Worldwide debt has risen to a record $226 trillion – more than three times global annual economic output – and firms in more countries are struggling to service loans, a study shows, just as key central banks prepare to end super-cheap credit policies.

World markets are expected to get confirmation over the next week that normalizing global interest rates from the extraordinarily low levels introduced to offset the fallout of the 2009 credit crash is no longer just a U.S. phenomena.

The European Central Bank will lay out cuts to its 2-1/2 year-old stimulus program on Thursday, the Bank of England looks set to raise British interest rates for the first time in a decade, while the Fed is moving towards its third hike of the year.