US Debt to GDP Ratios

Federal Debt to GDP

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Interpretation

In order to allow comparisons over time, a nation's debt is often expressed as a ratio to its gross domestic product (GDP). The total public debt (used in the chart above) is a form of government federal debt. It includes "debt held by the public" as well as "intragovernmental holdings". Other popular classifications of debt (see charts below) are "corporate debt" and "household debt". Historically, the ratio has increased during wars and recessions.
Ray Dalio, identified a long-term debt cycle, which takes approximately 75-100 years to complete. He also analyzed the the total US debt (including government, corporate and household debt) going back to 1920 (see PDF, page 11).

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Corporate Debt to GDP

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Interpretation

Non-financial corporate debt excludes debt from companies in the financial sector. It generally includes bank loans and corporate bonds that were issued to raise money.

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Household Debt to GDP

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Interpretation

Household debt includes different types of debt, such as home mortgages, home equity loans, auto leasing loans, student loans, and credit card debt. The ratio rose gradually until 2008. US households made significant progress in deleveraging (reducing debt) during and after the financial crisis.
The actual burden of all this debt can be illustrated by debt service payments as a percentage of Disposable Income. Ray Dalio even published a chart of this ratio going back to 1920 (see PDF, page 12).

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