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This Is What $20 Trillion In Debt Looks Like

It’s more and less than you think.

Featured Image Via: Shock Manion

Okay, so that’s a lot of cash.

Bank-robbers have probably had fantasies about stumbling upon such a sight.

The video has a tone of doomsday about it. You would imagine that the US have no way out of this black hole of debt.

But it doesn’t work quite like that.

National debt is very different to personal debt which has different remedies. 

Time magazine has previously compared the accumulation of national debt to the purchasing of a house. Everyone gets into debt buying their first property, what matters is whether they have the means to pay it back.

Does the US have the means to pay back $20 trillion?

It’s true that the US has never owed a number that high before. But their income has dramatically increased over time as well. It is far more helpful to look at how the $20 trillion relates to their GDP (essentially a nations income).

The US owes 105.6% of their GDP in debt. So, they could wipe their debt in just over a year. They can’t mind you, because governments do need to spend.

It’s helpful to look at history because after WWII the US owed 119.0% of its GDP.

That’s 14% more than they owe now.

A brief glance at the UK’s financial history shows they owed 238% of their GDP in 1947.

Graph showing UK public debt
image by ukpublicspending.co.uk

By 1992, forty-five years later, that debt had been reduced to 25% of their GDP.

Considering the UK recovered their post-war finances from such a dire situation, it is possible that the US can recover from theirs.

Even if the towers of cash in the video were twice as high.

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