What You Need to Know About the U.S. Debt

Susan Kelly Updated on Sep 13, 2022

The complete total of what the federal government owes is known as the "national debt." There are a few different names for this type of debt: sovereign debt, or government debt. Debt held by the public and debt held within the government contribute to the total national debt in the United States.

What the government owes to Treasury investors is the national debt. There are a wide variety of foreign investors, including individuals and governments outside the United States.

Why You Should Care About Our Country's Debt

U.S. domestic politics has been deeply divided over the issue of the nation's debt. Understandably, more people are paying attention to this now, with all the talk of fiscal stimulus for the U.S. economy in recent years.

The public's understanding of the debt situation is often left in the dark because of its obtuse reporting. The fact that many individuals are unaware of how the size of the national debt affects their life adds fuel to the fire of this debate.

The Causes of The National Debt

We have a debt problem because of government expenditures. There will be a deficit in the budget because of this, but it is essential to economic growth. What we have here is an example of fiscal policy that expands the economy.

The government employs fiscal policy tools to manipulate the economy, such as monetary expansion and expenditure increases or tax decreases. It is boosting short-term economic growth because of increased spending by individuals and businesses.

The National Debt Consists Of

As of August 2022, the national wealth was above $30.8 trillion. The U.S. Department of the Treasury maintains a national debt clock and website where the current daily total can be found.

The total amount of public debt includes both external and internal government borrowing. The general public holds about $24.2 trillion, or 80%, of total debt. Bonds, notes, and bills issued by the Treasury Department are owned by private investors, the Fed, and other governments worldwide.

In What Ways Does The National Debt Hinder Growth?

When the national debt reaches the debt ceiling, default becomes a real possibility. If Congress doesn't act to raise or suspend the debt ceiling, the debt-to-GDP ratio will rise to unsustainable heights.

Contrast The Federal Deficit With The National Debt

It's vital to distinguish between the federal government's annual budget deficit and the country's national debt before discussing the effects on average citizens. A budget imbalance results when the federal government spends more money than it receives in revenue (via sources like taxes).

Personal Impact Of The National Debt

If the national debt isn't too high, the government can afford to keep spending, which will help the economy expand and provide more money for programs like the ones you need. However, your lifestyle may be compromised whenever debt levels rise above a certain threshold.

The economy could suffer if interest rates are allowed to grow. Lower returns on your investments may result from a reaction of the stock market to a lack of investor confidence. Additionally, a recession is not out of the question.

Is There Any Way We Can Lower The National Debt?

The debt could be lowered through increased taxation and decreased government spending. These are both methods of contractionary fiscal policy that could hurt economic growth.

There are risks associated with reducing expenditures. The share of GDP (the value of all final goods and services generated in a country) spent by the government in 2021 was 30%. 9 A decrease in GDP and a slowing in economic growth are possible outcomes of government spending cuts a higher deficit results from lower revenues.

Analysis Of The Country's Debt

Because debt is crucial to economic growth, it's vital to track it correctly to show its actual influence over time. Regrettably, comparing the national debt to GDP is not the most accurate measure. Here are three arguments against using this method to evaluate debt.

Rising Gross Domestic Product and The Federal Debt

Theoretically, GDP equals the total market value of a nation's final goods and services output in a given year. According to this interpretation, GDP can be estimated by adding up all the money that changes hands in the economy.


The size of the national debt ranks high on the list of critical policy concerns. Debt can help a country develop and grow over the long run when used correctly. Debt levels should be compared per capita, and interest payments should be weighed against another government spending when assessing.