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Historic Chart of U.S. Debt to GDP Ratio

April 21, 2011

I thought it would be useful if I posted a graph of the historic debt to gdp ratio for the United States. It amuses and distresses me that people are starting to worry about the U.S. government debt burden only now, when its been a growing problem for the last 30 years. Of course, you should never look at absolute numbers when you talk about the debt or deficit. That would be like saying you shouldn’t loan $500k to someone solely because it’s such a large amount of money, without taking into account that the person may have an annual salary of a billion dollars. In any event, I’ve discussed in previous posts why debt to gdp is the true measure of a countries debt burden. So here is the chart:

I’ve included presidents Ronald Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2 to give readers a bit of context regarding the dates.

I’ve done numerous posts in the past on the U.S. Budget and its debt… here are links to few:

The Difference Between Debt and Deficit

Holders of U.S. Government Debt

Republicans admit whole time they were praising Reagan they were thinking of Eisenhower

How Bush administration policies caused the U.S. FY2015 Budget Deficit

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 5, 2011 10:55 pm

    Am I misreading this, or are you including the 2008-2010 spike under “Bush Jr.”, instead of placing it under Obama?

    • August 7, 2011 9:03 am

      You may be misreading the chart. Excel doesn’t label the y-axis particularly cleanly, but between the last two red lines… that is the Bush Jr. presidency.

      Also note, this analysis is based on the balance sheet at the time of presidency. Therefore it does not adequately represent the impact on national debt due to shifts in long term fiscal policy, as policies such as starting two wars or cutting taxes have fiscal impacts which extend into future presidencies.

    • June 6, 2012 12:02 pm

      bush passed the 2008 and 2009 budgets

    • September 6, 2012 11:54 pm

      inertia is a formidable force…

  2. December 21, 2012 7:16 pm

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