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Living in the Shadow of a Volcano: The US National Debt in Perspective

schiffgold.com / BY SCHIFFGOLD /  

Every once in a while, a mainstream news outlet publishes a piece about the national debt. Here and there, politicians trot out the surging debt as a talking point to make some political hay. Now and then, an economist will wave the red flag. But by-and-large, the national debt just kind of looms over us.

We’ve gotten used to the shadow it casts, and we generally don’t give it much thought. It’s kind of like people living at the foot of a volcano. They know it’s there. It might cause some low-level anxiety. But they really don’t pay much attention to it – until it erupts.

So, just how bad is the national debt? We all know it’s pretty bad. But would you believe it’s actually worse than you probably think?

The headline number is operating debt. It currently stands at $20.5 trillion. It spiked $608 billion in just eight short weeks after Pres. Trump signed a bill raising the debt ceiling limit for the next three months in September. And Trump wants to do away with the debt ceiling altogether.

The national debt is currently over 105% of total GDP. That’s the highest level in history except for a two-year spike at the end of World War II.

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