How much debt does the federal government have?

chart us economy debt gdp

While many focus on the fact that America now has over $19 trillion in debt, the better way to look at that number is to ask how much debt does the U.S. have as a percent of the entire economy (i.e. GDP). It's akin to looking at how much debt a person has compared to their annual income so you can get a sense of how easily they can pay the debt off.

The U.S. went from a 35% debt-to-GDP ratio in 2006 to a 75% ratio now, largely because the government spent extra money during the Great Recession to try to revive the economy. America is nowhere near countries like Greece or Japan that have ratios around 200%, but government debt is on the rise in the U.S.

First published September 6, 2016: 10:28 AM ET

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