Global debt increased to $226 trillion last year, the largest one-year increase since World War II, and will be jeopardized if global interest rates rise faster than expected and growth slows, according to the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday.

According to IMF officials in a blog post, the COVID-19 pandemic caused debt to reach 256% of global GDP in 2020, an increase of 28 percentage points. Government borrowing accounted for slightly more than half of the $28 trillion increase, but non-financial corporate and household debt also reached new highs.

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Low interest rates enabled advanced economies and China to account for 90% of the debt increase. According to the IMF, debt rose less in other developing countries, which were hampered by often higher borrowing costs and limited access to funding.

Higher interest rates, according to IMF Fiscal Affairs Director Vitor Gaspar and other officials, will lessen the impact of increased fiscal spending and exacerbate debt sustainability concerns.

"The risks will be magnified if global interest rates rise faster than expected and growth falters," the officials wrote. "A significant tightening of financial conditions would heighten the pressure on the most highly indebted governments, households, and firms. If the public and private sectors are forced to deleverage simultaneously, growth prospects will suffer."