The debt ceiling is a legislative mechanism to limit the amount of national debt that can be issued by the Treasury. In effect, it will restrain the Treasury from paying for expenditures after the limit has been reached, even if the expenditures have already been approved (in the budget) and have been appropriated. If this situation were to occur, it is unclear whether Treasury would be able to prioritize payments on debt to avoid a default on its debt obligations, but it would have to default on some of its non-debt obligations.
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Because a large variety of people own the notes, bills, and bonds in the "public" portion of the debt, Treasury also publishes information that groups the types of holders by general categories to portray who owns United States debt. In this data set, some of the public portion is moved and combined with the total government portion, because this amount is owned by the Federal Reserve as part of United States monetary policy. (See "Federal Reserve System.)
As is apparent from the chart, a little less than half of the total national debt is owed to the "Federal Reserve and intragovernmental holdings". The foreign and international holders of the debt are also put together from the notes, bills, and bonds sections. To the right is a chart for the data as of June 2008:
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As of September 2014, foreigners owned $6.06 trillion of U.S. debt, or approximately 47% of the debt held by the public of $12.8 trillion and 34% of the total debt of $17.8 trillion. The largest holders were China, Japan, Belgium, the Caribbean banking centers, and oil exporters.
The share held by foreign governments has grown over time, rising from 13% of the public debt in 1988 to 25% in 2007.
As of September 2014 the largest single holder of U.S. government debt was China, with 21% of all foreign-held U.S. Treasury securities (10% of total U.S. public debt). China's holdings of government debt, as a percentage of all foreign-held government debt are up significantly since 2000 (when China held just 6 percent of all foreign-held U.S. Treasury securities).
This exposure to potential financial or political risk should foreign banks stop buying Treasury securities or start selling them heavily was addressed in a June 2008 report issued by the "Bank of International Settlements, which stated, "Foreign investors in U.S. dollar assets have seen big losses measured in dollars, and still bigger ones measured in their own currency. While unlikely, indeed highly improbable for public sector investors, a sudden rush for the exits cannot be ruled out completely."
On May 20, 2007, Kuwait discontinued pegging its currency exclusively to the dollar, preferring to use the dollar in a basket of currencies.["citation needed] Syria made a similar announcement on June 4, 2007. In September 2009 China, India and Russia said they were interested in buying "International Monetary Fund gold to diversify their dollar-denominated securities. However, in July 2010 China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange "ruled out the option of dumping its vast holdings of US Treasury securities" and said gold "cannot become a main channel for investing our foreign exchange reserves" because the market for gold is too small and prices are too volatile.["citation needed]
According to "Paul Krugman, "It's true that foreigners now hold large claims on the United States, including a fair amount of government debt. But every dollar's worth of foreign claims on America is matched by 89 cents' worth of U.S. claims on foreigners. And because foreigners tend to put their U.S. investments into safe, low-yield assets, America actually earns more from its assets abroad than it pays to foreign investors. If your image is of a nation that's already deep in hock to the Chinese, you've been misinformed. Nor are we heading rapidly in that direction."
CBO short-term outlook
The "Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported in its February 2014 Budget and Economic Outlook (which covers the 2014–2024 period) that deficits were projected to return to approximately the historical average relative to the size of the economy (GDP) by 2014. The CBO estimated that under current law, the deficit would total $514 billion in fiscal year 2014 or 3.0% GDP. Deficits would then slowly begin rising again through 2024 due primarily to the pressures of an aging population and rising healthcare costs per person. The debt to GDP ratio would remain stable for much of the decade then begin rising again toward the end of the 10-year forecast window, from 74% in 2014 to 79% in 2024.
CBO long-term outlook
The CBO reports its Long-Term Budget Outlook annually, providing at least two scenarios for spending, revenue, deficits, and debt. The 2014 Outlook mainly covers the 25-year period through 2039. The "extended baseline scenario" assumes that the laws currently on the books will be implemented, for the most part. The CBO reported in July 2014 that under this scenario:
If current laws remained generally unchanged in the future, federal debt held by the public would decline slightly relative to GDP over the next few years. After that, however, growing budget deficits would push debt back to and above its current high level. Twenty-five years from now, in 2039, federal debt held by the public would exceed 100 percent of GDP. Moreover, debt would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy, a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely. By 2039, the deficit would equal 6.5 percent of GDP, larger than in any year between 1947 and 2008, and federal debt held by the public would reach 106 percent of GDP, more than in any year except 1946—even without factoring in the economic effects of growing debt.
The "extended alternative fiscal scenario" assumes the continuation of present trends, which result in a more unfavorable debt position and adverse economic consequences relative to the baseline scenario. The CBO reported in July 2014 that under this scenario:
[C]ertain policies that are now in place but are scheduled to change under current law are assumed to continue, and some provisions of current law that might be difficult to sustain for a long period are assumed to be modified. Under that scenario, deficits excluding interest payments would be about $2 trillion larger over the first decade than those under the baseline; subsequently, such deficits would be larger than those under the extended baseline by rapidly increasing amounts, doubling as a percentage of GDP in less than 10 years. CBO projects that real GNP in 2039 would be about 5 percent lower under the extended alternative fiscal scenario than under the extended baseline with economic feedback, and that interest rates would be about three-quarters of a percentage point higher. Reflecting the budgetary effects of those economic developments, federal debt would rise to 183 percent of GDP in 2039.
Over the long-term, the CBO projects that interest expense and mandatory spending categories (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) will continue to grow relative to GDP, while discretionary categories (e.g., Defense and other Cabinet Departments) continue to fall relative to GDP. Debt is projected to continue rising relative to GDP under the above two scenarios, although the CBO did also offer other scenarios that involved austerity measures that would bring the debt to GDP ratio down.
The CBO estimated under the baseline scenario that the U.S. debt held by the public would increase approximately $8.5 trillion between the end of 2014 and 2024. Under a $2 trillion deficit reduction scenario during that first decade, federal debt held by the public in 2039 would stand at 75 percent of GDP, only slightly above the value of 72 percent at the end of 2013. Under a $4 trillion deficit reduction scenario for that decade, federal debt held by the public would fall to 42 percent of GDP in 2039. By comparison, such debt was 35 percent of GDP in 2007 and has averaged 39 percent of GDP during the past 40 years.
The CBO reported in September 2011: "The nation cannot continue to sustain the spending programs and policies of the past with the tax revenues it has been accustomed to paying. Citizens will either have to pay more for their government, accept less in government services and benefits, or both."
Risks and debates
CBO risk factors
The CBO reported several types of risk factors related to rising debt levels in a July 2010 publication:
- A growing portion of savings would go towards purchases of government debt, rather than investments in productive capital goods such as factories and computers, leading to lower output and incomes than would otherwise occur;
- If higher marginal tax rates were used to pay rising interest costs, savings would be reduced and work would be discouraged;
- Rising interest costs would force reductions in government programs;
- Restrictions to the ability of policymakers to use fiscal policy to respond to economic challenges; and
- An increased risk of a sudden fiscal crisis, in which investors demand higher interest rates.
Concerns over Chinese holdings of U.S. debt
Many American and other "economic analysts have expressed concerns on account of the People's Republic of China's "extensive" holdings of United States government "debt, as part of their reserves.
The "National Defense Authorization Act of the "fiscal year 2012 included a provision requiring the "Secretary of Defense to conduct a "national security risk assessment of U.S. federal debt held by China." The Department issued its report in July 2012, stating that "attempting to use U.S. Treasury securities as a coercive tool would have limited effect and likely would do more harm to China than to the United States. As the threat is not credible and the effect would be limited even if carried out, it does not offer China deterrence options, whether in the diplomatic, military, or economic realms, and this would remain true both in peacetime and in scenarios of crisis or war."
The "112th United States Congress introduced legislation whose aim was the assessment of the implications of China's ownership of U.S. debt. The 2013 Report claimed that "[a] potentially serious short-term problem would emerge if China decided to suddenly reduce their liquid U.S. financial assets significantly" [emphasis in the original text], noting, also, that "Federal Reserve System Chairman "Ben Bernanke had, in 2007, stated that "because foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities represent only a small part of total U.S. credit market debt outstanding, U.S. credit markets should be able to absorb without great difficulty any shift of foreign allocations."
A significant number of economists and analysts dismiss any and all concerns over foreign holdings of United States government debt denominated in "U.S. dollars, including China's holdings.
According to the "Government Accountability Office (GAO), the United States is on a "fiscally unsustainable" path because of projected future increases in "Medicare and "Social Security spending.
Risks to economic growth
Debt levels may affect economic growth rates. In 2010, economists "Kenneth Rogoff and "Carmen Reinhart reported that among the 20 developed countries studied, average annual GDP growth was 3–4% when debt was relatively moderate or low (i.e. under 60% of GDP), but it dips to just 1.6% when debt was high (i.e., above 90% of GDP). In April 2013, the conclusions of Rogoff and Reinhart's study came into question when a coding error in their original paper was discovered by Herndon, Ash and Pollin of the "University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Herndon, Ash and Pollin found that after correcting for errors and unorthodox methods used, there was no evidence that debt above a specific threshold reduces growth. Reinhart and Rogoff maintain that after correcting for errors, a negative relationship between high debt and growth remains. However, other economists, including "Paul Krugman, have argued that it is low growth which causes national debt to increase, rather than the other way around.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman "Ben Bernanke stated in April 2010 that "Neither experience nor economic theory clearly indicates the threshold at which government debt begins to endanger prosperity and economic stability. But given the significant costs and risks associated with a rapidly rising federal debt, our nation should soon put in place a credible plan for reducing deficits to sustainable levels over time."
Interest and debt service costs
Despite rising debt levels, interest costs have remained at approximately 2008 levels (around $450 billion in total) due to lower than long-term interest rates paid on government debt in recent years. However, interest rates may return to higher historical levels.
The cost of servicing the U.S. national debt can be measured in various ways. The CBO analyzes net interest as a percentage of GDP, with a higher percentage indicating a higher interest payment burden. During 2015, this was 1.3% GDP, close to the record low 1.2% of the 1966–1968 era. The average from 1966 to 2015 was 2.0% of GDP. However, the CBO estimated in 2016 that the interest amounts and % GDP will increase significantly over the following decade as both interest rates and debt levels rise: "Interest payments on that debt represent a large and rapidly growing expense of the federal government. CBO's baseline shows net interest payments more than tripling under current law, climbing from $231 billion in 2014, or 1.3 percent of GDP, to $799 billion in 2024, or 3.0 percent of GDP—the highest ratio since 1996."
Definition of public debt
Economists also debate the definition of public debt. Krugman argued in May 2010 that the debt held by the public is the right measure to use, while Reinhart has testified to the President's Fiscal Reform Commission that gross debt is the appropriate measure. The "Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) cited research by several economists supporting the use of the lower debt held by the public figure as a more accurate measure of the debt burden, disagreeing with these Commission members.
There is debate regarding the economic nature of the intragovernmental debt, which was approximately $4.6 trillion in February 2011. For example, the CBPP argues: that "large increases in [debt held by the public] can also push up interest rates and increase the amount of future interest payments the federal government must make to lenders outside of the United States, which reduces Americans' income. By contrast, intragovernmental debt (the other component of the gross debt) has no such effects because it is simply money the federal government owes (and pays interest on) to itself."
However, if the U.S. government continues to run "on budget" deficits as projected by the CBO and OMB for the foreseeable future, it will have to issue marketable Treasury bills and bonds (i.e., debt held by the public) to pay for the projected shortfall in the Social Security program. This will result in "debt held by the public" replacing "intragovernmental debt".
One debate about the national debt relates to intergenerational equity. For example, if one generation is receiving the benefit of government programs or employment enabled by deficit spending and debt accumulation, to what extent does the resulting higher debt impose risks and costs on future generations? There are several factors to consider:
- For every dollar of debt held by the public, there is a government obligation (generally marketable Treasury securities) counted as an asset by investors. Future generations benefit to the extent these assets are passed on to them.
- As of 2010, approximately 72% of the financial assets were held by the wealthiest 5% of the population. This presents a wealth and income distribution question, as only a fraction of the people in future generations will receive principal or interest from investments related to the debt incurred today.
- To the extent the U.S. debt is owed to foreign investors (approximately half the "debt held by the public" during 2012), principal and interest are not directly received by U.S. heirs.
- Higher debt levels imply higher interest payments, which create costs for future taxpayers (e.g., higher taxes, lower government benefits, higher inflation, or increased risk of fiscal crisis).
- To the extent the borrowed funds are invested today to improve the long-term productivity of the economy and its workers, such as via useful infrastructure projects or education, future generations may benefit.
- For every dollar of intragovernmental debt, there is an obligation to specific program recipients, generally non-marketable securities such as those held in the Social Security Trust Fund. Adjustments that reduce future deficits in these programs may also apply costs to future generations, via higher taxes or lower program spending.["citation needed]
- "borrowing is nothing but consuming future earnings today, leaving less disposable income to spend in the future as interest payments eat the borrower alive."
Krugman wrote in March 2013 that by neglecting public investment and failing to create jobs, we are doing far more harm to future generations than merely passing along debt: "Fiscal policy is, indeed, a moral issue, and we should be ashamed of what we're doing to the next generation's economic prospects. But our sin involves investing too little, not borrowing too much." Young workers face high unemployment and studies have shown their income may lag throughout their careers as a result. Teacher jobs have been cut, which could affect the quality of education and competitiveness of younger Americans.
The US has never fully defaulted.
In April 1979, however, the United States may have technically defaulted on $122 million in "Treasury bills, which was less than 1% of U.S. debt. The "Treasury Department characterized it as a delay rather than as a default, but it did have consequences for short-term interest rates, which jumped 0.6%. Others view it as a temporary, partial default.
National debt for selected years
|Fiscal year||Total debt
as % of GDP
|Public debt||Public debt
as % of GDP
|1927|| 18.51/-||19.2%||18.51||19.2%||est. 96.5|
|2016 (Oct. '15 –
Jul. '16 only)
On June 25, 2014, the BEA announced: "[On July 30, 2014, i]n addition to the regular revision of estimates for the most recent 3 years and for the first quarter of 2014, GDP and select components will be revised back to the first quarter of 1999.
Fiscal years 1940–2009 GDP figures were derived from February 2011 Office of Management and Budget figures which contained revisions of prior year figures due to significant changes from prior GDP measurements. Fiscal years 1950–2010 GDP measurements were derived from December 2010 Bureau of Economic Analysis figures which also tend to be subject to revision, especially more recent years. Afterwards the OMB figures were revised back to 2004 and the BEA figures (in a revision dated July 31, 2013) were revised back to 1947.
Regarding estimates recorded in the GDP column (the last column) marked with a "~" symbol, absolute differences from advance (one month after) BEA reports of GDP percent change to current findings (as of November 2013) found in revisions are stated to be 1.3% ± 2.0% or a 95% probability of being within the range of 0.0–3.3%, assuming the differences to occur according to standard deviations from the average absolute difference of 1.3%. E.g. with an advance report of a $400 billion increase of a $10 trillion GDP, for example, one could be 95% confident that the range in which the exact GDP dollar amount lies would be 0.0 to 3.3% different than 4.0% (400 ÷ 10,000) or within the range of $0 to $330 billion different than the hypothetical $400 billion (a range of $70-730 billion). Two months after, with a revised value, the range of potential difference from the stated estimate shrinks, and three months after with another revised value the range shrinks again.
Fiscal years 1940–1970 begin July 1 of the previous year (for example, Fiscal Year 1940 begins July 1, 1939 and ends June 30, 1940); fiscal years 1980–2010 begin October 1 of the previous year. Intragovernmental debts before the Social Security Act are presumed to equal zero.
1909–1930 calendar year GDP estimates are from MeasuringWorth.com Fiscal Year estimates are derived from simple linear interpolation.
(a1) Audited figure was "about $5,659 billion."
(a2) Audited figure was "about $5,792 billion."
(a3) Audited figure was "about $6,213 billion."
(a) Audited figure was said to be "about" the stated figure.
(a4) Audited figure was "about $7,918 billion."
(a5) Audited figure was "about $8,493 billion."
(a6) Audited figure was "about $8,993 billion."
(a7) Audited figure was "about $10,011 billion."
(a8) Audited figure was "about $11,898 billion."
(a9) Audited figure was "about $13,551 billion."
(a10) GAO affirmed Bureau of the Public debt figure as $14,781 billion.
(a11) GAO affirmed Bureau of the Public debt figure as $16,059 billion.
(a12) GAO affirmed Bureau of the Fiscal Service's figure as $16,732 billion.
(a13) GAO affirmed Bureau of the Fiscal Service's figure as $17,810 billion.
(a14) GAO affirmed Bureau of the Fiscal Service's figure as $18,138 billion.
Foreign holders of US Treasury securities
The following is a list of the top foreign holders (over $100 billion) of US Treasury securities as listed by the US Treasury (revised by January 2017 survey):
|Leading foreign holders of US Treasury securities as of January 2017|
|Country||Billions of dollars (est.)||Ratio of owned US debt
to 2015 GDP (est.)
|Percent change since
|"Cayman Islands||257.2||n/a||+ 3%|
|"United Kingdom||214.0||8%||+ 2%|
|"Hong Kong||189.4||60%||− 6%|
|"Saudi Arabia||112.3||18%||− 9%|
|Grand total||5,956.1||n/a||− 4%|
- U.S. "official gold reserves as of 31 July 2014[update] total 261.5 million "troy ounces with a book value of approximately $11.04 billion.
- "Foreign exchange reserves $140 billion as of September 2014[update].
- The national debt equates to $59,143 per person U.S. population, or $159,759 per member of the U.S. working taxpayers, as of March 2016.
- In 2008, $242 billion was spent on "interest payments servicing the debt, out of a total tax revenue of $2.5 trillion, or 9.6%. Including non-cash interest accrued primarily for Social Security, interest was $454 billion or 18% of tax revenue.
- Total U.S. "household debt, including "mortgage loan and "consumer debt, was $11.4 trillion in 2005. By comparison, total U.S. household assets, including real estate, equipment, and financial instruments such as "mutual funds, was $62.5 trillion in 2005.
- Total U.S Consumer Credit Card "revolving credit was $931.0 billion in April 2009.
- The U.S. "balance of trade deficit in goods and services was $725.8 billion in 2005.
- According to the U.S. Department of Treasury Preliminary 2014 Annual Report on U.S. Holdings of Foreign Securities, the United States valued its foreign treasury securities portfolio at $2.7 trillion. The largest debtors are Canada, the United Kingdom, Cayman Islands, and Australia, whom account for $1.2 trillion of sovereign debt owed to residents of the U.S.
- The entire public debt in 1998 was attributable to the cost of research, development, and deployment of "U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons-related programs during the "Cold War.
A 1998 "Brookings Institution study published by the Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Committee (formed in 1993 by the "W. Alton Jones Foundation), calculated that total expenditures for U.S. nuclear weapons from 1940 to 1998 was $5.5 trillion in 1996 Dollars. The total public debt at the end of fiscal year 1998 was $5,478,189,000,000 in 1998 Dollars or $5.3 trillion in 1996 Dollars.
International debt comparisons
||This section needs to be updated. (January 2015)|
|South America and Mexico 2||41%||37%||35%|
Sources: "Eurostat, "International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook (emerging market economies); "Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Economic Outlook (advanced economies)
1China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand
2Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico
Recent additions to the public debt of the United States
|Fiscal year (begins
Oct. 1 of year prior
to stated year)
% of GDP
as % of GDP
(Debt to GDP
|2016 (Oct. '15 –
Jul. '16 only)
On July 29, 2016 the BEA released a revision to 2013–2016 GDP figures. The figures for this table were corrected the next week with changes to figures in those fiscal years.
On July 30, 2015 the BEA released a revision to 2012–2015 GDP figures. The figures for this table were corrected on that day with changes to FY 2013 and 2014, but not 2015 as FY 2015 is updated within a week with the release of debt totals for July 31, 2015.
On June 25, 2014 the BEA announced a 15-year revision of GDP figures would take place on July 31, 2014. The figures for this table were corrected after that date with changes to FY 2000, 2003, 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The more precise FY 1999–2014 debt figures are derived from Treasury audit results. The variations in the 1990s and FY 2015 figures are due to double-sourced or relatively preliminary GDP figures respectively. A comprehensive revision GDP revision dated July 31, 2013 was described on the Bureau of Economic Analysis website. In November 2013 the total debt and yearly debt as a percentage of GDP columns of this table were changed to reflect those revised GDP figures.
Historical debt ceiling levels
|Table of historical debt ceiling levels|
(billions of dollars)
|Change in Debt Ceiling
(billions of dollars)
|June 25, 1940||49|
|February 19, 1941||65||+16|
|March 28, 1942||125||+60|
|April 11, 1943||210||+85|
|June 9, 1944||260||+50|
|April 3, 1945||300||+40|
|June 26, 1946||275||−25|
|August 28, 1954||281||+6|
|July 9, 1956||275||−6|
|February 26, 1958||280||+5|
|September 2, 1958||288||+8|
|June 30, 1959||295||+7|
|June 30, 1960||293||−2|
|June 30, 1961||298||+5|
|July 1, 1962||308||+10|
|March 31, 1963||305||−3|
|June 25, 1963||300||−5|
|June 30, 1963||307||+7|
|August 31, 1963||309||+2|
|November 26, 1963||315||+6|
|June 29, 1964||324||+9|
|June 24, 1965||328||+4|
|June 24, 1966||330||+2|
|March 2, 1967||336||+6|
|June 30, 1967||358||+22|
|June 1, 1968||365||+7|
|April 7, 1969||377||+12|
|June 30, 1970||395||+18|
|March 17, 1971||430||+35|
|March 15, 1972||450||+20|
|October 27, 1972||465||+15|
|June 30, 1974||495||+30|
|February 19, 1975||577||+82|
|November 14, 1975||595||+18|
|March 15, 1976||627||+32|
|June 30, 1976||636||+9|
|September 30, 1976||682||+46|
|April 1, 1977||700||+18|
|October 4, 1977||752||+52|
|August 3, 1978||798||+46|
|April 2, 1979||830||+32|
|September 29, 1979||879||+49|
|June 28, 1980||925||+46|
|December 19, 1980||935||+10|
|February 7, 1981||985||+50|
|September 30, 1981||1,079||+94|
|June 28, 1982||1,143||+64|
|September 30, 1982||1,290||+147|
|May 26, 1983||1,389||+99||Pub.L. 98–34|
|November 21, 1983||1,490||+101||Pub.L. 98–161|
|May 25, 1984||1,520||+30|
|June 6, 1984||1,573||+53||Pub.L. 98–342|
|October 13, 1984||1,823||+250||Pub.L. 98–475|
|November 14, 1985||1,904||+81|
|December 12, 1985||2,079||+175||Pub.L. 99–177|
|August 21, 1986||2,111||+32||Pub.L. 99–384|
|October 21, 1986||2,300||+189|
|May 15, 1987||2,320||+20|
|August 10, 1987||2,352||+32|
|September 29, 1987||2,800||+448||Pub.L. 100–119|
|August 7, 1989||2,870||+70|
|November 8, 1989||3,123||+253||Pub.L. 101–140|
|August 9, 1990||3,195||+72|
|October 28, 1990||3,230||+35|
|November 5, 1990||4,145||+915||Pub.L. 101–508|
|April 6, 1993||4,370||+225|
|August 10, 1993||4,900||+530||Pub.L. 103–66|
|March 29, 1996||5,500||+600||Pub.L. 104–121|
|August 5, 1997||5,950||+450||Pub.L. 105–33|
|June 11, 2002||6,400||+450||Pub.L. 107–199|
|May 27, 2003||7,384||+984||Pub.L. 108–24|
|November 16, 2004||8,184||+800||Pub.L. 108–415|
|March 20, 2006||8,965||+781||Pub.L. 109–182|
|September 29, 2007||9,815||+850||Pub.L. 110–91|
|June 5, 2008||10,615||+800||Pub.L. 110–289|
|October 3, 2008||11,315||+700||Pub.L. 110–343|
|February 17, 2009||12,104||+789||Pub.L. 111–5|
|December 24, 2009||12,394||+290||Pub.L. 111–123|
|February 12, 2010||14,294||+1,900||Pub.L. 111–139|
|January 30, 2012||16,394||+2,100|
|May 19, 2013||16,700||+306|
- "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
- "List of countries by public debt
- "Sovereign default
- "Troubled Asset Relief Program
- "Federal debt basics – How large is the federal debt?". "Government Accountability Office. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
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- About 0.8% of debt ($79 billion) is not covered by the ceiling, per The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases, page 4. (NOTE: This includes pre-1917 debt), fpc.state.gov; accessed August 24, 2016.
- Congressional Budget Office-The 2014 Long-Term Budget Outlook in 26 Slides
- "News Release: Gross Domestic Product". Bea.gov. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
- GAO-Financial Audit-Bureau of the Fiscal Service's Fiscal Years 2014 and 2013 Schedules of Federal Debt, treasurydirect.gov, November 2014.
- "Debt to the Penny (Daily History Search Application)".
- BEA-Gross Domestic Product
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- "THE 2012 ANNUAL REPORT OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE FEDERAL OLD-AGE AND SURVIVORS INSURANCE AND FEDERAL DISABILITY INSURANCE TRUST FUNDS" (PDF). Ssa.gov. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
- "Social Security Trust Fund 2010 Report Summary". Ssa.gov. Retrieved May 18, 2011.
- "Federal debt basics – What is the difference between the two types of federal debt?". "Government Accountability Office. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
- "Measuring the Deficit: Cash vs. Accrual". "Government Accountability Office. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
- Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac to Be Kept Off Budget, White House Says (September 12, 2008), Bloomberg.com.
- The case for keeping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac off the government's books has gotten even weaker, professional.wsj.com (subscription required)
- Barr, Colin (September 7, 2008). "Paulson readies the 'bazooka'", CNN.com; retrieved January 17, 2011.
- Timiraos, Nick (March 3, 2014). "Investor Fires Salvo Against Fannie, Freddie-Viewed March 2014". WSJ. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
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- Peter G. Peterson Foundation (April 2010). "Citizen's guide 2010: Figure 10 Page 16". Peter G. Peterson Foundation website; retrieved February 5, 2011.
- CBO – The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022 – See Historical Budget Data Supplement, Cbo.gov, January 2012.
- "The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency".
- OECD. "OECD Statistics". Stats.oecd.org. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
- Multiple references:
- Debt to the Penny (Daily History Search Application)
- US national debt surpasses $16 trillion – Boston Business Journal
- United States Department of the Treasury, Bureau of the Public Debt (December 2010). "The debt to the penny and who holds it". TreasuryDirect. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
- "CBO Budget and Economic Outlook 2009-2019". CBO. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- Table 1.1 – Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits (-): 1789–2017, Whitehouse.gov; accessed August 24, 2016.
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- Stephen I. Schwartz; Bruce G. Blair, The Brookings Institution; Thomas S. Blanton and William Burr, the National Security Archive; Steven M. Kosiak, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments; Arjun Makhijani, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research; Robert S. Norris, Natural Resources Defense Council; Kevin O'Neill, Institute for Science and International Security; John E. Pike, Federation of American Scientists; William J. Weida, Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (1998). Atomic audit: the costs and consequences of U.S. nuclear weapons since 1940. Brookings Institution Press. pp. 3, 12, 105, 107, 461, 546, 551. "ISBN "978-0-8157-7774-8.
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|""||Wikimedia Commons has media related to United States government debt.|
- The Joe I. Herbstman Memorial Collection of American Finance: Dedicated to Preserving the Visual History of the Nation's Debt
- Documentary about the debt, "Ten Trillion and Counting", by "PBS Frontline
- "Bureau of the Public Debt". publicdebt.ustreas.gov.
- The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It public and intragovernmental
- Federal Debt: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions- Provides a broad range of information about federal debt including its relationship to the budget, ownership of the debt, debt management, and key policy considerations
- Foreign Holdings of Federal Debt "Congressional Research Service
- The United States Public Debt, 1861 to 1975 Encyclopedia Article
- GAO Citizen's Guide – 2008
- National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
- Historical Tables, Office of Management and Budget
- Historical documents on public debt, "FRASER
- New York Times-Charting the American Debt Crisis-July 2011
- U.S. Treasury Resource Center – Treasury International Capital (TIC) System
- National Debt of USA in Realtime