world negative networth of about -$38 trillion

So i was trying to look up the networth of the entire world’s economies (Geshe Michael mentioned it in one of his lectures) and i found an article that said that the actual networth of the world’s economies is -38 trillion USD.

According to a recent report in the Financial Post on the precarious pressure-cooker that is the current bond market, total world debt in the form of bonds is equivalent to about $82 trillion dollars USD. The number nearly tripled since 2001 (when it was only $33 trillion U.S.).

Compare total debt with total assets: the total value of world equity markets amount to only $44 trillion dollars in USD equivalent.

The world thus has a negative networth of about -$38 trillion measured in USD.

Interesting. 🙂

So the debate then is, i guess, is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Maybe it’s a bad thing. Really, if every creditor called in all their debts, that means the world would have to declare bankruptcy. Essentially, everything everywhere would collapse.

So that’s bad.

But i remember a conversation i had with a friend about the skyscrapers in NYC. He was saying, without the ability to take on debt to finance those buildings, none of them could have been built.


So is the world’s debt a good thing or a bad thing?

I guess you’d have to say it’s neither. Or maybe both. Which for us is a proof of the emptiness of the whole situation and the fact that everything in our world is coming from us, and how we treat other people.

If i’m kind to others, and generous, the fact that the world’s creditors allow people to borrow money is mostly a good thing–the world at large is able to finance large-scale projects that otherwise could never be done.

But if i’m not kind to others, and act stingy, then at some point some of these creditors might decide to call in their loans. At which point, as they cannot be paid, this whole credit/debt business environment comes crashing down, and we’re back to trading cotton for corn or fish for clay pots.

Feel like loaning me $20?

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5 Responses to world negative networth of about -$38 trillion

  1. Judith says:

    Where can i sent the 20 bucks? No interest necessary. In fact, no repayment necessary. We’d be happy to support you or one of your projects or have you pass it on.

    Thanks for this post. The knee-jerk reaction, it seems, is to think that a world-wide negative net worth is bad. Scary actually. So thanks for putting this into an emptiness perspective and to bring the “good and bad” outlook to this circumstance. From a business perspective, though, it’s just interesting to have this statistic. It gives me a sense of where we are karmically as a group of nation-states.

    Not kidding about sending the 20 bucks.

    • ericbrinkman says:

      dear Judith,

      thanks for the great comments. i really appreciate them. 🙂

      if you really want to send $20 somewhere, please consider sponsoring the 3-year retreat for peace. It’s really great effort by some really dedicated, well-trained people to really try and make a difference in the world.

      i feel bad that i haven’t been able to help more, so maybe you can help me be more helpful. 🙂


  2. Peter Axtell says:

    Interesting stuff Eric. Dave Ramsey, host and founder of the wildly popular radio and TV show Total Money Makeover (5 million radio listeners) says as his tag line “debt is dumb”. He is for having no debt except the home and paying off the home as the ultimate (relative world) goal. He built his own huge business without borrowing a dime after he crashed and burned earlier in his life. So I was wondering…Is it possible to start a business or build a New York skyscraper without borrowing money? I’m constantly asking myself these days one question over and over. What am I gardening? I’m trying not to make decisions and just plant good seeds. This takes lots of practice.
    Again, is borrowing money to start a business or build a skyscraper good gardening?
    Peter Axtell

  3. Andrea Lemon says:

    Sure, I’ll loan you $20. How should I send it to you?

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