The United States is 173 Years Removed From Being Debt-Free
The U.S. national debt clock ticked over the $12 trillion dollar mark yesterday for the very first time.
As of last night, the United States officially owes $12,031,299,186,290.07. This works out to $39,599 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
Given the current crushing debt load (which is only going to get much worse, by the way) of the United States, it's hard to imagine that there was a time when the US was actually debt-free.
The last year that the United States had a 0% Debt to GDP ratio? 1836.
From 1792 to 1834, the United States was slowly able to pare down its debt, and in 1835 and 1836, had zero public debt to speak of.
"The Panic of 1837" (and the depression that followed) sent us back into the red, and we have been there ever since.
It was late 1981 when the public debt load of the United States passed the $1 trillion dollar mark for the very first time. The country was being decimated by the effects of high inflation and weak economic growth, and newly elected President Ronald Reagan was trying to figure out how to resurrect the economy. People weren't happy at the time (with Reagan or the economy in general), and the $1 trillion dollar debt figure certainly wasn't helping matters.
In 1986, the public debt load of the United States had doubled, hitting the $2 trillion dollar mark (in 1986 dollars). Six years later, the debt had doubled again, and was sitting at around $4 trillion dollars by 1992.
It took fourteen years for the national debt load of the United States to double again, thanks in part to an economic surge (or bubble, however you want to call it) that actually brought us surpluses in the late '90s / early '00s. However, by 2006, the debt load of the United States was sitting at $8 trillion dollars, having doubled from 1992.
Between 2006 and late 2009, the United States has added an additional $4 trillion dollars in debt, thanks in large part to paying for two expensive wars and trying to re-inflate their economy after a near-collapse.
So, 173 years after the United States had officially declared itself debt-free, we are now $12 trillion dollars in debt. (and that doesn't include unfunded liabilities, but that's another story altogether).
Things are going to continue to get worse over the coming decade, as the United States is expected to have a debt load somewhere around the neighborhood of $20 trillion dollars by 2020.
A number of different factors and events have contributed to this staggering debt load. Multiple world wars. Multiple depressions. A number of recessions. The list goes on and on.
One thing is for sure - the United States owes an unbelievable amount of money, and it's only getting worse with each passing day.
Sources: United States Debt Clock
When Was The Last Time That The United States Was Debt-Free?
Filed under: The Economic Meltdown