U.S. Debt and GDP Ratio

In The United States, Americans’ public debt crisis is always in the future. Normally routine, as recently as eight years or two presidential terms ago Congress unprecedentedly debated raising the government’s ability to borrow, the debt ceiling. There was a debt ceiling debate eight years before that too, in 2003.

The next debt ceiling debate is now.

The debt ceiling is the total amount of national debt the U.S. can owe. Debt-to-GDP is the ratio between national debt and the total value of goods and services produced in one year. The ratio is supposedly useful. Economists claim it is an instrument to gauge solvency indicating whether or not a country is producing enough to make payments on its debts.

In February of this year CNBC reported U.S. National Debt hit $22 trillion. Although CNBC reports in the same article that U.S. debt rose to the ratio 103.6 percent of GDP when Obama left office, Fox news claims U.S. debt surpassed 100 percent of gross domestic product after the government’s debt ceiling was lifted in 2011. Closer analysis reveals GDP has kept pace.

But a country’s ability to repay debts depends on taxes, investor confidence (bond ratings), monetary policy (interest rates), Congress (law), and ROI (gains minus inflation). Several things could happen if it doesn’t payoff creditors, war (foreign held), inflation (reserve bank), and poverty (peoples’ social security). Though GDP grew significantly since 2010 from $14.53 trillion to $21.06 March 31, 2019 resulting in significantly NO CHANGE to the indicator, American public debt is actually misconceived.

If Americans’ debt crisis is in the future then how does a public debt-to-GDP ratio increasing from 104% to 121% affect time?

Americans’ ability to repay costs associated with their election of public goods largely depends on their income after sustenance, net income, at times including food, shelter, clothing, heat, education, and transportation. Americans reside in U.S. states subdivided into municipalities that provide public services like police, fire, and roads. U.S. state and local deficits contribute to American public debt while goods and services Americans produce are included in GDP. U.S. state and local debt was $3.11 trillion in 2019. Thus, Americans debt-to-GDP ratio is 121%.

Eight years since the last Congressional debt ceiling debate of 2011, it’s time again in 2019 to debate how much Americans can repay.