What Was the Biggest Deficit Ever Posted in the History of the United States?

The United States is currently in the midst of posting an eye-popping number of trillion dollar plus deficits.

The question that many people have is - what is the largest deficit that has ever been posted in the history of the nation?

To figure out the answer to this question, we need to look at the inflation adjusted deficit numbers. For instance, the United States posted a $20.5 billion deficit in 1942, but this translates into over $266 billion in today's dollars.

Here are the five largest deficits in the history of the nation (in 2011 dollars):

2011 - $1.65 trillion (estimate)
2009 - $1.42 trillion
2010 - $1.29 trillion
1943 - $669.4 billion
1944 - $574.1 billion

Here are the next five highest inflation adjusted deficits in the history of the nation:

1945 - $561.2 billion
2004 - $462.6 billion
2008 - $455.0 billion
1983 - $442.6 billion
1992 - $438.5 billion

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As you can see, the top three deficits have all taken place since the start of the "Great Recession" in December of 2007.

The fourth, fifth and sixth largest deficits in the history of the nation all took place after the United States entered World War II. After the end of WWII in 1945, the nation took only 2 years to swing back to a surplus.