Projections vary for the growth of our national debt, but none show an easy way out of our current path of over-spending and accumulation of debt.
How Big is Our Debt?
As of 2009, Americans owe $11,901,000,000,000 in government debt. Assigning some meaning to a dollar amount that has more digits than a telephone number can be tricky. Here are some descriptions that may help.
- Our national debt, in hundred dollar bills, would carpet Washington DC seven times, and you would still have enough left over to carpet Tiananmen Square 33 times.
- Americans owe an amount equal in value to about twice all the gold in the world, even at today's record high prices.
- Each American taxpayer owes about $117,000.
- If you spent $10 million every day in payment of the national debt for the next 2000 years, you still would not pay off the debt.
- If you stacked $11.9 trillion in $100 bills on their side at the equator, the stack would circle the earth 30 times.
- A child born today starts out life owing about $38,000 - about the price of two years of college, on average.
- How did our parents generation leave us? A child born in 1950 was on the hook for about $1700 at birth.
Who Holds Our Debt?
About $7,612,000,000,000 of the U.S. debt is held by the public. A little less than half of America's debt is in foreign hands. China is the largest single holder of U.S. debt, with some $800 billion. Today, every American household owes about $7600 to the Chinese.