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The global debt crisis - Is the world on the brink of collapse? | DW Documentary

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Experts are sounding the alarm: the world is caught in a debt trap. The global mountain of debt has increased to more than 300 trillion US dollars. To cancel it out, the Earth’s population would have to work for nothing for three years. Is this a cause for concern?

Will private individuals, companies and even entire nations at some point collapse under the weight of this debt mountain? The film looks for the stories behind the debts to discover what can be done to address the problem. In Argentina, for example: Over the past 200 years, the country has faced bankruptcy eight times.

In the United States, people are punished for their poverty. Annita Husband was detained for months in a debtors’ prison in the state of Mississippi. Her fate is just one extreme example from a society in which more and more people in debt find themselves in a hopeless situation and lose their freedom.

But debts per se aren’t a bad thing, insists economist Christoph Trebesch. Particularly when the borrowed capital is used for sensible investments, debts make sense. But there are plenty of negative stories. One standout example of the credit-fueled hubris is the project "The World”, artificial islands off the coast of Dubai that, seen from the air, resemble a map of the world. Luxury properties built on the islands were designed as resorts for the super-rich. But the project ground to a halt in the financial crisis of 2008. Since then, the wind and the sea have blurred the outlines of some of the islands.

The film explores the question: what are the consequences of debts - for both debtors and creditors? And what sort of solutions might be on hand to deal with the gigantic volume of debt taken on by nations, companies and private households?

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