LONDON - To assess the state of international affairs, a good rule of thumb is to follow the flow of money or weapons. Defence budgets handily track both. A tally released by SIPRI, a think-tank based in Stockholm, suggests that governments are worried: 102 of the 173 countries included in the study increased their defence budgets last year.

Globally, spending in real terms was up by 6.8% from 2022, the largest year-on-year increase since 2009.

Some of the biggest increases came from America’s nato allies in Europe after a long period of low spending.

Excluding America, NATO members increased spending by $68 billion, or 19%, between 2022 and 2023. Adding Finland and Sweden to the alliance has boosted NATO’s annual spending by a further $16 billion.