Can the U.S. Pay Off its Debt? As budget deficits are one of the factors that contribute to the national debt, the U.S. can take measures to pay off its debt through budget surpluses. The last time that the U.S. held a budget surplus was in 2001.
On January 8, 1835, president Andrew Jackson paid off the entire national debt, the only time in U.S. history that has been accomplished.
According to a report published by Moody's Analytics, the US GDP would decline, approximately 6 million jobs would be lost and the unemployment rate would increase dramatically. And, just as significantly, the country's track record, at least as far as paying its debts is concerned, would be irrevocably stained.
For those of you who like to shop…you'd have to spend $5 million a day for the next 546 years. And if you laid a trillion one-dollar bills end-to-end, they would wrap around the equator over 380 times and you'd still have 17 laps to go.
China has steadily accumulated U.S. Treasury securities over the last few decades. As of October 2021, the Asian nation owns $1.065 trillion, or about 3.68%, of the $28.9 trillion U.S. national debt, which is more than any other foreign country except Japan.
There are countries such as Jersey and Guernsey which have no national debt, so the pay no interest. All this started with the Napoleonic wars when the government borrowed money to fund the war.
The public holds over $22 trillion of the national debt. 3 Foreign governments hold a large portion of the public debt, while the rest is owned by U.S. banks and investors, the Federal Reserve, state and local governments, mutual funds, pensions funds, insurance companies, and holders of savings bonds.
Japan, with its population of 127,185,332, has the highest national debt in the world at 234.18% of its GDP, followed by Greece at 181.78%. Japan's national debt currently sits at ¥1,028 trillion ($9.087 trillion USD).
What is the debt limit? The debt limit is a ceiling imposed by Congress on the amount of debt that the U.S. Federal government can have outstanding. This limit has been set at $28.4 trillion since August 1st, 2021.
Tax Cuts. Large tax cuts passed by Congress during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Donald Trump have played a large part in the subsequent deterioration of government finances and the resulting growth in the national debt.
In fact, the last time the U.S. was able to completely pay off the national debt was about 186 years ago — back in 1835. Since the early 2000s, the national debt has consistently increased.
Unlike after World War I, the US never really tried to pay down much of the debt it incurred during World War II. Still the debt shrank in significance as the US economy grew. It would take the debt-to-GDP ratio until 1962 just to get back to where the US was before the war.
National Security Issues
The higher the national debt becomes, the more the U.S. is seen as a global credit risk. This could impact the U.S.'s ability to borrow money in times of increased global pressure and put us at risk for not being able to meet our obligations to our allies—especially in wartime.
While public debt remains a concern for countries that borrow US dollars, it is less of an issue for the US itself. The dollar is the world's reserve currency and more debt doesn't decrease outside investors' demand for it. Economists sometimes believe that increasing the federal debt weakens the dollar during crises.
According to the Bank of Russia's estimate, external debt of the Russian Federation as of June 30, 2022 totaled $472.8 billion, having decreased by $9.2 billion, or by 1.9%, since the last year-end.
At the end of July 2021, 53% of federal debt was owned by investors from the United States, including the Federal Reserve. The various trust funds operated by the United States government, like the Social Security and Medicare trust fund accounts, held another 22% of federal debt.
Foreign holders of United States treasury debt
Of the total 7.42 trillion held by foreign countries, Japan and Mainland China held the greatest portions. China held 980.8 billion U.S. dollars in U.S. securities. Japan held 1.21 trillion U.S. dollars worth.
Of the $35 billion that the world's 74 lowest-income nations will owe in debt service payments this year, about 37% — or $13.1 billion — is owed to Chinese entities, according to the World Bank.
How much money does the U.S. owe to China? China owns roughly $1.08 trillion worth of U.S. debt.
As of 2022, the Japanese public debt is estimated to be approximately US$12.20 trillion US Dollars (1.4 quadrillion yen), or 266% of GDP, and is the highest of any developed nation. 45% of this debt is held by the Bank of Japan.
What is the current U.S. National Debt amount? The current U.S. debt is $23.3 trillions as of February 2020.
And yet, over half of Americans surveyed (53%) say that debt reduction is a top priority—while nearly a quarter (23%) say they have no debt. And that percentage may rise.