USA: Government debt

(measure: percent; source: The World Bank)

USA: Government debt as percent of GDP

: For that indicator, The World Bank provides data for the USA from 1988 to 2015. The average value for the USA during that period was 59.52 percent with a minumum of 33.16 percent in 2000 and a maximum of 97.84 percent in 2015. See the global rankings for that indicator or use the country comparator to compare trends over time.
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The government debt in the USA and other countries is calculated as the total amount owed by the national government to domestic and international lenders. It is reported as percent of GDP so that we can evaluate its magnitude relative to the size of the economy.

Government debt of about 60 percent or less of GDP is not considered a problem. The government can make payments without strain and even has some room to borrow more. If debt levels reach 80-90 percent that may have negative effects on the economy. Debt above 120 percent of GDP is quite detrimental.

Definition: Debt is the entire stock of direct government fixed-term contractual obligations to others outstanding on a particular date. It includes domestic and foreign liabilities such as currency and money deposits, securities other than shares, and loans. It is the gross amount of government liabilities reduced by the amount of equity and financial derivatives held by the government. Because debt is a stock rather than a flow, it is measured as of a given date, usually the last day of the fiscal year.