National Debt - Statistics & Facts
Statistics and facts on National Debt
The national debt of the United States is the total amount of money borrowed by the federal government to cover budget deficits. The government typically raises money by issuing securities that are backed by the government’s taxing power. These securities, also known as government or treasury bonds, normally have a fixed interest rate and are considered a low-risk investment.
Public debt can be subcategorized into debt held by government bodies and debt held by the public. The latter, currently 68.5 percent of the total debt, comprises of securities held by non-governmental investors (including the Federal Reserve System). The former, 31.5 percent of the public debt, are securities held in accounts administered by the federal government, such as pension or social security funds.
The U.S. national debt has been rising continuously for the past few decades. In just one decade, the public debt grew from 3.23 trillion dollars (1990) to 5.67 trillion dollars (2000). In the early 2000s the national debt started growing at an even higher rate but it wasn't until 2007 that it really took off: between 2007 and 2011 the public debt grew from 9.01 to 14.79 trillion dollars. This implies that the national debt per capita grew from $12,818 in 1990 to $47,485 in 2011.
As a consequence of its excessive debt, the U.S. government was forced to raise the debt ceiling in July 2011. Doing so and committing to considerable budget cuts had become the only way for the United States to prevent defaulting on its debt. Shortly after the raising of the debt ceiling was announced, Standard & Poor's downgraded the rating of U.S. government bonds for the first time in history, leading to turbulence on financial markets across the globe. It is widely expected that the federal government will face similar problems in the years to come as the debt situation is unlikely to improve significantly in the foreseeable future.
The United States isn’t the only country with a debt crisis. Countries like Japan, Greece and Italy have a significantly higher debt to GDP ratio according to IMF data. The European Monetary Union is currently in danger because some of its member countries are no longer able to handle their ever-growing debt: Greece is on the verge of bankruptcy and the whole Euro zone is looking for ways to protect its common currency and avert a possible financial disaster. Despite all efforts to stabilize the affected countries, it remains to be seen whether the European currency system can recover and it seems likely that the problem of excessive debt will burden financial systems across the globe for years to come.
Photo: istockphoto.com / pagadesign
|Overview on Public Debt in the U.S.||Values||Statistic|
|Public debt of the U.S.||$18.15tr||Details →|
|U.S.' national debt per capita||$55,807||Details →|
|National debt in the U.S. in relation to gross domestic product (GDP)||113.81%||Details →|
|State and Local Government Debt||Values||Statistic|
|Gross public debt of U.S. states||$1,113.21bn||Details →|
|Gross public debt of U.S. local government||$1,715.87bn||Details →|
- Public debt of the United StatesPublic debt of the United States
Public debt of the United States from 1990 to 2015* (in billion U.S. dollars)
- Countries with the highest public debt 2015Countries with the highest public debt 2015
The 20 countries with the highest public debt in 2015 in relation to the gross domestic product (GDP)
- United States - public debt by monthUnited States - public debt by month
Public debt of the United States of America in 2015, by month (in billion U.S. dollars)
- United States - national debt per capita 2014United States - national debt per capita 2014
United States' national debt per capita from 1990 to 2014 (in U.S. dollars)
- U.S government debt holders distribution 2014U.S government debt holders distribution 2014
Holders of the U.S. government debt in 2014