United States Debt Passes $23 Trillion

Author: Corey McDowell - Economics Editor

Published: 4 Nov 2019

Last Updated: 1 Feb 2023


The United States Treasury announced very quietly recently that US gross national debt is now over $23 trillion.

Last week we commented on British national debt, and rather fittingly the United States Treasury has released data for the 2019 fiscal year. They announced very quietly in late October that US gross national debt is now over $23 trillion, jumping over $1.3 trillion alone over the last year. If that debt was divided equally between every American citizen, everyone would owe over $70,000 each.

The US budget deficit ballooned by 26% to $984 billion, which is the highest in seven years. All this is despite President Donald Trump’s promise to eliminate the US national debt within eight years; three years into this commitment and the debt is steadily increasing. Rather ironically, President Trump was one of Barack Obama’s fiercest critics of his fiscal policy: 

Commentators still seem to be optimistic of the strength of the American economy, but these figures read for bleak reading - this would put US government debt to GDP at over 106%. There are serious questions as to whether this supposed strength of the US economy is being financed by cheap credit due to rock-bottom interest rates.

At these enormous debt levels, one can be forgiven for believing that these figures are essentially unpayable. Gross interest on Treasury debt securities is over $570 billion. Net annual interest payments on this debt is close to $376 billion, which is not far off the annual federal government contribution to Medicaid. It seems likely that the only way that these debts can ever be reduced is by inducing inflation to erode the value of fiat currency and subsequently the debt. 

The last time the US was increasing its debt and deficit levels like this, the highest ever dollar price of gold was recorded shortly after. This was at the hight of the quantitative easing programme during the Obama Administration, with the gold price peaking at $1896.50 per troy ounce in September 2011. In reference to the article we wrote last week, when governments commit to piling on more debt, take some time to consider if this is the opportune time to invest in gold. 

The US Treasury figures can be found here.

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