November 28, 2018 / 10:02 PM / 13 days ago

Global nonfinancial corporate debt hit record high in 2nd qtr -IIF

NEW YORK, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Debt among nonfinancial corporations across the globe rose to a record high of $75 trillion in the second quarter, driven mostly by China and the United States, the Institute of International Finance said in a report.

“China’s corporate sector has some of the highest debt levels in the world,” the report, dated Tuesday, stated, though it said businesses based in the world’s second-largest economy also have significant “cash holdings (that) provide an important cushion against risk.”

Canada, India and Mexico rank first in nonfinancial corporate debt relative to cash holdings, the report said, while a “significant proportion” of Brazilian, Canadian, American and Chinese corporations still struggle to pay interests on their debt.

IIF wrote in the report that one-third of small firms in France, the United States and China have an interest coverage ratio under levels generally accepted as optimal, meaning a sharp hike in interest rates could hurt their ability to stay current in their debt payments.

Bankers, executives and investors have warned the U.S. central bank that record leveraged lending to companies from lightly regulated corners of Wall Street could make any economic downturn harder to manage.

The total liabilities of nonfinancial corporations across the globe amount to about 92 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, the IIF report said.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis

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