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Debt and Deficit Facts

Right now the Gross Federal Debt is $19,846,049,205,261.81.

At the end of FY 2016 the debt was $19.5 trillion, or 105.6% GDP.
The highest federal debt in US history was 119.0% GDP in 1946 just after World War II.

At the end of FY 2016 the federal deficit was $587 billion, or 3.2% GDP.
The highest federal deficit in US history was 29.0% GDP in 1943 in World War II.

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US Agency Debt History

A Half Century of Agency Debt

Not all the debt of the Government of the United States counts in the official total of the federal debt kept by the Department of the Treasury. This additional debt, typically the bonds of government-sponsored agencies (GSEs) like the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Board, has grown to be a substantial part of government-sponsored debt in the post World War II era.

Chart 4.21: Federal Agency Debt 1945-2020

Agency debt started the immediate post World War II era at a level of debt less than 0.5 percent of GDP and didn’t hit 1 percent of GDP till 1957.

But then agency debt began an exponential rise, with debt hitting 2 percent of GDP in 1965, blowing past 5 percent of GDP in 1973, reaching 10 percent of GDP in 1981.

Agency debt blew past 20 percent of GDP in 1988, exceeded 30 percent of GDP in 1995, and hit 40 percent of GDP in 1999, and agency debt peaked at 52 percent of GDP in 2003 at the end of the 2000-02 recession.

In the 2000s expansion agency debt declined to 46.7 percent of GDP by 2006, but then blew off in the Crash of 2008, peaking at 56.1 percent of GDP in the Great Recession year of 2009.

After the Crash of 2008 agency debt decreased rapidly to 46.6 percent of GDP by 2012 and then began a more gradual decline to 45.5 percent of GDP by 2014.

Agency Debt Compared to US Treasury Debt

Chart 4.22: Agency Debt vs. Treasury Debt

At the end of World War II, the gross public debt issued by the US Treasury hit 114 percent of GDP. The agency debt, at agencies like the Federal National Mortgage Association, was a tiny 0.38 percent of GDP.

By 1980 the Treasury Debt had been brought down to 32 percent of GDP, but the agency debt had increased to nearly 10 percent of GDP.

After 1980 Treasury debt began a sustained increase, during the Reagan defense buildup, reaching nearly 54 percent of GDP in 1990. Agency debt increased rapidly too, reaching nearly 24 percent of GDP in 1990. The increase extended into the 1990s, with Treasury debt peaking at 64 percent of GDP and agency debt exceeding 30 percent of GDP in 1995.

In the late 1990s the Treasury debt declined, down to 54 percent of GDP by 2001. But agency debt kept on climbing, hitting 50 percent of GDP in 2002. By the peak of the 2000s expansion in 2006 Treasury debt had increased to 61 percent of GDP to fight the war in Iraq, while agency debt had declined to 47 percent of GDP.

Then came the Great Recession and the Crash of 2008. By 2014 Treasury debt had increased to 102 percent of GDP. Agency debt, now mainly Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds in receivership, peaked at 56 percent of GDP in 2009, and then declined to 45 percent of GDP by 2014.

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Debt Data Sources

Debt data is from official government sources.

Gross Domestic Product data comes from US Bureau of Economic Analysis and

Detailed table of debt data sources here.

Federal debt data begins in 1792.

State and local debt data begins in 1890.

State and local debt data for individual states begins in 1957.

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Next Data Update

> Federal Budget FY18

> data update schedule.

Data Source

Source: CBO Long-Term Budget Outlook .

> data sources for other years
> data update schedule.

FY18 Budget Blueprint Released

On March 16, 2018 the Trump administration issued a Budget Blueprint outlining proposed changes to "discretionary" spending for Fiscal Year 2018. The following table shows the major changes to Budget Authority in excess of $2 billion per agency.

AgencyFY18 Change
in $ billion
Health and
Human Services
State and Intl Aid-10.9

Because usgovernmentspending spending data is based on Historical Table 3.2, it shows spending by function rather than by agency. Until Table 3.2 is published in the final version of the FY18 budget we cannot exactly predict how the Table 3.2 numbers will change at the subfunction level.

But we have applied the Budget Blueprint budget authority changes into the budgeted FY18 outlays by guessing the application of agency level changes to subfunction changes to give a rough feeling of what the Trump changes look like. You can check out what is going on here or here.

The numbers will change when the final FY18 federal budget numbers come out.

Spend links

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