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How Big Is the U.S. Debt?

How far in debt is the U.S. government? Let’s put the numbers in perspective. This is the economy of Germany. The entire
economic output of this country is about $3 trillion a year. This is the amount of money that the government
has borrowed from the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, about $4 trillion. Here’s China’s economy. Here’s Japan’s economy. Here’s the amount of money the federal government
has borrowed from private citizens and from other countries, about $9 trillion. Here’s our economy. Here is unfunded Social
Security obligations. This is an amount of money that the federal government has promised
to current and future retirees for which it does not have money, and that includes future
expected tax revenues. Here is the European Union. Here’s unfunded Medicare obligations. These
are promises of medical care the federal government has made to current and future retirees which
it cannot cover. Here is the total debt in unfunded obligations.
This is the total amount of money the federal government either has borrowed or has promised
to pay other people. At $65 trillion it outstrips the economic output of the entire planet.


  1. Nick
    Nick April 24, 2013


  2. Jotto999
    Jotto999 April 24, 2013

    No, the video is not "stupid". What would be stupid would be a content-lacking criticism.

  3. Gavin Daily
    Gavin Daily April 25, 2013

    Americans are too stupid to see Obama is ruining their country. They deserve this.

  4. optionqb
    optionqb April 28, 2013

    I don't think the point of the video is that we "are in debt". I'd rather conjecture that the point is the magnitude of that debt relative to our ability to actually finance it.

  5. Jotto999
    Jotto999 May 1, 2013

    You presume I have lots of time to browse your channel. Please give a concise reason why this video is stupid.

  6. strangegloves
    strangegloves May 2, 2013

    Also, any thoughts on the government recently paying down debt for the first time since the financial crisis? Playing devil's advocate here, it seems things might take a turn for the better if this is a sign of things to come…

  7. frankos rooni
    frankos rooni May 5, 2013

    Why is he lying –the facts are there to be seen.?
    If you think the US can just print it's way out of debt then it is you who needs help

  8. Bloodskull Warcraft
    Bloodskull Warcraft May 7, 2013

    It's more like Socialism. In Communism there is no government.

  9. AE
    AE May 8, 2013

    so you've never heard of the communist party of the soviet union?

  10. Bloodskull Warcraft
    Bloodskull Warcraft May 8, 2013

    I've heard about it. Why do you ask?

  11. Cashstock Moneybags
    Cashstock Moneybags May 9, 2013

    Once a government is in place, the society is not communist, but socialist. The communist party is an oxymoron. Partisan efforts involve politics, and communism loses its defining characteristics once leadership takes control of resources. Communism is impossible to practice on a large scale. That's why it was called the "The Union of Soviet *Socialist* Republics." Communism is defined as communal wealth sharing, where as socialism can be defined as government-planned distribution of wealth.

  12. Cashstock Moneybags
    Cashstock Moneybags May 9, 2013

    The money supply an the national debt are unrelated. The money supply is printed by bankers as personal debt (mortgages, car loans, credit cards, etc.) as well as corporate and other private debts. Government debt is money spent by Congress in excess of the taxes collected. While about a third of this money is being printed and added to the money supply, government debt is a small fraction. Government debt is currently 20 trillion out of 630 trillion in the whole US credit market.

  13. gwynedd1
    gwynedd1 May 9, 2013

    Really? What do you think banks loan? Ever notice that our money is a "note". Do you know what a note is in economics? I will agree with you bank credit using the national debt as its monetary base is most of the effective money supply. However unrelated is just busted.

  14. Cashstock Moneybags
    Cashstock Moneybags May 9, 2013

    Public debt and private debt are entirely separate. Government is public debt. Both amounts combined are the money supply. Private debt is not a part of the National (public) debt.

  15. gwynedd1
    gwynedd1 May 10, 2013

    Sigh…If we were on a gold standard and the bank lent gold, do you think the loan would have something to do with gold?

  16. gwynedd1
    gwynedd1 May 10, 2013

    Would anyone tell them we are on a debt standard? You know what it means to try and pay back a national debt that does, meant to or not, circulate as the fundamental unit of exchange? Paying off the national debt is like putting gold back into the ground under a gold standard. After 1971 the national debt became an international fiction, having long been on nationally. A note of any kind either Treasuries or Federal Reserve notes are only convertible in more notes. Sovereign debt is money.

  17. gwynedd1
    gwynedd1 May 10, 2013

    Sure it can only mean more private debt or depression.

  18. Cashstock Moneybags
    Cashstock Moneybags May 10, 2013

    Yes. The difference would be the ceiling on how much the bank would be capable of loaning. Under a fiat currency, there's literally no limit to how much money a bank can loan out, because it's all printed out of thin air under permission of the Federal Reserve and declared valuable. Under a true gold standard, only the amount of money that physically exists can be represented by notes. Gold is only one of dozens of commodities that can be represented by notes for the purpose of trade.

  19. gwynedd1
    gwynedd1 May 11, 2013

    I would agree with you except to the point where you would say "the physical limit" since even gold can be leveraged if its recycled back into the banking system. A cartel could certainly expand credit gold enormously as did the reserve banks with low gold lease rates causing gold carry trade. Its certainly is not at the level of fiat currency but then the threat is the reverse. Gold is vulnerable to monopoly and thus may become a financial investment to the demise of the real economy.

  20. gwynedd1
    gwynedd1 May 11, 2013

    Its even worse than that. Sovereign debt acts much more like money than debt. People need to realize just how different debt really is. We depend on government debt for liquidity. We certainly don't trust each others debt.

  21. Cashstock Moneybags
    Cashstock Moneybags May 11, 2013

    No, the government is not within a trillion dollars per year of scratching the debt. Every man, woman and child in the country would have to pay in $3,000 extra in taxes per year to break even. A trillion dollars is a whole lot of money. All the billionaires in the US wouldn't be able to sell everything they own and come up with a trillion dollars, and that's how much more we need to come up with each year than we actually do. We haven't paid down debt since 1966.

  22. Cashstock Moneybags
    Cashstock Moneybags May 11, 2013

    Gold can only be leveraged under a fractional reserve banking system, which isn't permitted by a true gold standard. Credit can only be offered on a 1:1 ratio. This is also called full reserve banking. Economists don't like it because it strangles the credit market down and forces savings and high interest rates, while making deficit spending actually cost physical assets. If the government overspends, they have to sell gold to make up the difference, or default. So it scares politicians, too.

  23. gwynedd1
    gwynedd1 May 11, 2013

    How will one ever have a true gold standard without government anyway? A "gold standard" is a legal creation. On top of that fractional reserves came out of a free market. Full reserve must be enforced so why would that scare them? It suggests sovereign power anyway. Both gold standards and full reserves is nothing but government power and intervention. That will not scare politicians.

  24. Cashstock Moneybags
    Cashstock Moneybags May 11, 2013

    In order to buy votes, politicians must have an infinite source of free money, that a gold standard doesn't allow. No free fiat currency equals no new programs to use to appeal to voters. Interest rates in a free market are determined by savings vs outstanding loans. When the bank needs to collect more money to supply a loan, they will raise interest rates. This offers a better reward to savers which encourages saving, and discourages borrowing until the interest rate goes back down.

  25. gwynedd1
    gwynedd1 May 11, 2013

    I disagree. Every time government goes into debt they print money. The standard doesn't matter. The sovereign matters. I wish it were not true, but it is. Sovereign debt is spent just like money and the debt is never paid off.

  26. Cashstock Moneybags
    Cashstock Moneybags May 13, 2013

    You're mistaken. Under a gold standard, if the government does not have enough tax revenue to pay its bills, it must sell gold in the treasury to pay for those bills, as well as trade deficits to other nations. Not wanting to do so was why Nixon ended the gold standard in the first place. When we sold products to other countries, we made them pay gold for them. When we started importing, we refused to offer them in return what we took for decades. It was the biggest default in history.

  27. gwynedd1
    gwynedd1 May 13, 2013

    Right and notice how few people even noticed the biggest default in history. Money is a sovereign power, not a market force. That is what I am trying to tell you.

  28. Rscott013
    Rscott013 June 6, 2013

    What do you think?

  29. Rawrzors TheCapitalistGamer
    Rawrzors TheCapitalistGamer June 8, 2013


  30. GuhCh
    GuhCh June 13, 2013

    Not quite. Theft is without the consent of the victim. Borrowing is with the consent of the victim. (I used victim in both cases there deliberately, I'm not an idiot)

  31. GuhCh
    GuhCh June 13, 2013

    The gold analogy is a terrible one. I could go and mine some gold and then instantly have money. If you can point me to a mine shaft full of 100 dollar bills, that would be much appreciated.

  32. RemizZ
    RemizZ June 13, 2013

    Welcome to capitalism and globalization. Take a seat, the collapse will be coming shortly and will be epic.

  33. GuhCh
    GuhCh June 13, 2013

    Coming from someone with little to no knowledge of economics (in other words, don't hate if I'm entirely wrong, I realise that I could easily be so), I was under the impression that to a government cash doesn't mean shit. The economy of a single country is not a self-contained system, and the government of the USA can't pay Japan, for instance, in dollar bills. It makes sense, in that case, that governments use arbitrary figures, hence market scores. Damn I hate being stuck with 500 characters.

  34. gwynedd1
    gwynedd1 June 13, 2013

    Its pretty easy to see who is being a tool and you are not trying to be. Even good theory arrives to a point of belief. It is true that the US is not a self contained system but it is large enough to be able to borrow without it every really having to pay it all back. This is especially true when all the sovereigns play the same game. A reserve currency is sort of a contradiction. The country must run trade deficits to provide enough supply but it must also have value.

  35. gwynedd1
    gwynedd1 June 13, 2013

    A fiscal deficit acts like a gold mine. All our money is based upon government obligations good for paying taxes and deficits create them just like a gold mine adds to gold. Sovereign debt is one of the most counterintuitive things in economics as one can find.

  36. devlin9871
    devlin9871 June 14, 2013

    Are you a fucking moron?

  37. Angel Lane
    Angel Lane July 8, 2013

    I guess the simple fix would be to just raise the retirement age to 90. Tax every breath we take. Kill the sick and poor, sale some nukes to North Korea and Taliban and fly the Islamic flag over the white house and put the Koran in every hotel drawer in exchange for some cheaper oil.

  38. 1320feet
    1320feet July 13, 2013

    can we quantify a dollar?

    since its used as a MEASURING device, it must be quantifiable. If a dollar is really ZERO, all measurements are USELESS.

    PONZI dollar

  39. chris532008
    chris532008 July 18, 2013

    a lot of that problem is that blacks are theft crazy, lack of morals, at least if they were segregated again it would contain it and then police my see if some manner might be created to stop it, at the present it appears it is ingrained and government has been using it as a means of obtaing additional revenue raising their effective tax rate close to 100% causing further improverishment

  40. Claire AwesomeSauce
    Claire AwesomeSauce July 19, 2013

    Talk about fear-mongering… This argument projects 75 years into the future and totals the projected expenses during that period. The total US GDP output, assuming it neither shrinks or grows, over the same period of time would be 1.2 quadrillion. Revenue, assuming the same levels as the projected FY2013, would be 404.5 trillion. GDP levels, assuming the same 2.1% growth rate experienced in 2012, will be 527,996 trillion.

  41. bob newman
    bob newman July 19, 2013

    This video takes advantage of the ignorance of people, but I'm glad at least someone else knows better.

  42. Sam
    Sam August 6, 2013

    I dont think the numbers in this video are correct, especially because the Global GDP is around $72 trilion

  43. keith snook
    keith snook August 15, 2013

    To Sam, the video is correct. It was made a few years ago. An updated one would show as of July 2013 that US debt is 16.7 Trillion. Total debt and unfunded obligations is now over 70 trillion. Top 23 nations GDP is 59.1 Trillion. Got tired of adding more.

  44. Trueconservative16
    Trueconservative16 August 19, 2013

    no it's much bigger, don't forget student loans, public employee pension etc, fannie may and freddie mack. Harry Markpolos said it's like 100 trillions

  45. Tomek Samcik
    Tomek Samcik August 26, 2013

    It doesn't even matter whether there are some signs of recovery in Europe or not, this is of no importance, because it's US bonds bubble burst that will blast world economy.

  46. Imperial Wizard
    Imperial Wizard August 27, 2013

    Hey, at least we're not as bad off as Japan.

  47. blakcod8
    blakcod8 September 2, 2013

    by now it must be over 100 trillion

  48. Joseph Kemper
    Joseph Kemper September 14, 2013

    Based on the numbers on the US Debt clock website I did some math and found out that if you took enough dollar bills to equal the US debt then you would have enough dollar bills to make 4 stacks to the moon with a 5th 3/4 of the way there.
    And consumer debt is not far behind.

  49. Sonicisbadazz
    Sonicisbadazz September 15, 2013

    Yes, the person you're talking to is not making a decent argument. So I will in his/her place.

    The video was correct in saying that we owed $9 trillion to private citizens and $4 trillion to Social Security. However, the other things listed as "debt" here are misleading. This guy concludes that the US is $65 trillion in debt, yet at this point, our debt–according to almost any mathematical source–is actually $17 trillion as of this year. So why does Antony Davies conclude otherwise? (TBC)

  50. Sonicisbadazz
    Sonicisbadazz September 15, 2013

    …Because he's choosing to account for future perceived debt based on the current tax code. This is not in and of itself a bad thing because we DO need to keep an eye on what we'll owe in the future and whether we'll be able to cover it. However, the problem with calling it "debt" is that when you include FUTURE debt, there is no limit on how far INTO the future you can go. Davies concludes $65 trillion, but I've seen political groups say it's actually $100 trillion. The ONLY way one…TBC

  51. Sonicisbadazz
    Sonicisbadazz September 16, 2013

    …can reach this conclusion is to go farther into the future than Antony Davies has. So in essence, I could say the US government is $4 quadrillion dollars in debt by calculating all the way to the year 2314. (This is not an exact figure; I'm using hyperbole for that example.)
    The point here is that our country is bound to change in the future, and the tax code along with it, and we won't know how much we owe until we get there. Ergo, the video's conclusion is presumptuous and disingenuous.

  52. Spookyhoobster
    Spookyhoobster September 20, 2013

    Let's say this video was accounting for all the debt in YOUR lifetime. He's adding the things into "debt" that are actually more like "future expenses". Adding the lifetime costs of groceries, school, etc. into one lump sum is going to make a scary number in any situation. We might not be doing good, but this video is just trying to take a cheap shot into making people scared.

  53. Steve C
    Steve C October 10, 2013

    Where do you get your numbers for unfunded liabilities? I'm just curious, would like to know how I can effectively make this argument to others.

  54. mister heath
    mister heath October 11, 2013

    If you hit show more, the prof has a pdf which sources his charts from the treasury and cia.

  55. John Weston
    John Weston October 13, 2013

    Jesus!! The US government needs to stop spending so MUCH money. I demand we close all imports from China, and start using resources here in America. We don't need to depend on other countries for Clothes, Cars, electronics etc. We made stuff here years ago, and we can do it again!

  56. Ramza Beoulve
    Ramza Beoulve October 16, 2013

    The government is pretty much stealing social security and medicare money isn't it? I mean the money gets put into a trust fund, which then buys bonds, which the government will eventually not be able to pay back.


  57. Nicole Hernandez
    Nicole Hernandez November 26, 2013

    The next time you hear someone say 'raise the debt ceiling' (meaning increase how much debt we can take on) — remember this video. Of course, if these numbers scare you, remember that it is a video from 2011 and that our debt is much higher now.

  58. Wayne Vernon
    Wayne Vernon November 29, 2013

    There is little doubt that Federal debt is a serious problem.  It is not a question of if a default will occur, but rather when it will occur.  However, the situation isn't quite as dire as this video attempts to illustrate.  The total amount of debt and unfunded liabilities isn't an accurate illustration of debt service.  It is more important to look at the interest on government securities, the projection of us GDP growth, and the amount of revenue that goes to debt service.

    For example, i earn $100k per year.  I carry a mortgage debt of $300k.  Technically this means that my debt/"gdp" ratio would be around 300%, which would be an atrocious number for a nation to have.  But i'm not in default, because the service on that debt is a reasonable portion of my annual income.

    The aggregate of the national debt means very little to me, what is important to watch is the percentage of tax revenue dedicated to debt service.  If this number is stable, then there is little to worry about!  Unfortunately, debt service is increasingly consuming a larger share of national income, which is an unsustainable trend.

    In any case, the video is right to highlight the dangers of national debt, but its methodology isn't a very accurate depiction. =/

  59. Wayne Vernon
    Wayne Vernon November 29, 2013

    @Ramza Beoulve Your statement is an accurate description of intergovernmental debt.  However, it is a VERY positive thing that funds in the Social Security trust are being invested rather than sitting idle.  If passive, dollars deposited into the trust would depreciate with inflation and the trust would be constantly losing value.  If you are going to save for your retirement, i would hope you too would invest in bonds or asset-backed securities, rather than stuffing your mattress with dollars. 😉

    Since a US government security is considered one of the safest assets in the world, it makes sense that the trust would purchase them at very low risk.  I'd have to double-check, but i'm fairly sure that it is written into Law, that social security funds must be invested in government securities. =)

  60. Robert McCeney
    Robert McCeney December 2, 2013

    Bravo! I have subscribed.

  61. SKSer45
    SKSer45 December 21, 2013

    Pssshhh on 65 Trillion. No big deal (sarcasm).

  62. FreedomPrepper
    FreedomPrepper January 4, 2014

    shit just got real after watching this…

  63. Neo
    Neo January 20, 2014

    so what now?

  64. Randimal762
    Randimal762 January 20, 2014

    This is why it pisses me off so much to have hundreds of dollars coming out of each of my paychecks to pay for SS and medicare that I probably won't even benefit from by the time I retire.  WTF!

  65. joshschmunk
    joshschmunk January 22, 2014

    What OSU is doing in the Debt Reduction Campaign: Up to Us Campaign 2014: Oklahoma State University

  66. David Salley
    David Salley April 27, 2014

    Very informative. This is exactly why we need to get rid of a lot of welfare. 

  67. Nathan Baugh
    Nathan Baugh April 28, 2014

    This is a horrible representation of the scale of US debt as the unfunded liability figures are projected over decades while the gdp figures are calculated on a per year basis.

    The creators of this video are misleading people for political purposes, and that is not cool.

  68. TheShakeyhands
    TheShakeyhands May 6, 2014

    And nothing will be done about it.

  69. Joel Bierman
    Joel Bierman May 8, 2014

    This ad is quite deceptively presented.

  70. Jaime Fontes.
    Jaime Fontes. May 13, 2014

    Debt isn't always a bad thing. People like the guy in this video just make it sound like it is. Debt is only bad when you don't have the ability to pay it. The U.S.'s economy is still strong, getting stronger, and it can service it's debts. This video makes it seem like the U.S. owes all that money right this second and like a default is imminent when that couldn't be further from the truth. 

  71. spasjt
    spasjt May 14, 2014

    Excellent factual video.  Unfortunately many people will believe in 'global warming' aka 'global climate change' before they believe in facts such as these.

    It's ironic that most of this debt was accumulated by lying to the American people about how their government would take care of them when they are most vulnerable and therefore the most exploit: when they are sick and when they are broke.

    Not only that, but the government is operating under the same principles that led to the first stock market bubble: the Great Depression.  This and the addition of medicare and medicaid fraud coupled with bailing out businesses tying up their success/failures to the governments future is setting up America for a far worse economic collapse than the 30s were.

  72. Zeppelans
    Zeppelans May 15, 2014

    2 days later: sorry, we could not show this video. i was blocked by the the USA government

  73. se7ensnakes
    se7ensnakes May 20, 2014

    Why is the government issuing securities?  In the old days when people used gold coins the government needed to borrow money because it could not manufacture gold.  If the government needed gold it had to borrow it.  Legal tender laws allowed the government to create paper money. The problem is that if the government is allowed to create money ex niholo (out of thin air), why does it need to issue securities?  The reason is simple:  it is a scam.  The banks lobby for securities and the government issues them.  Then the bank create counterfeit electronic money and buy the securities.  Then we have to pay interest on these securities that the banks got for free. 

  74. Brad Collins
    Brad Collins July 28, 2014

    sounds like a conspiracy theory

  75. Xalgucennia
    Xalgucennia September 13, 2014

    Well correct me if I'm wrong, but it is the economic output of the entire planet FOR ONE YEAR vs 60+ years (post war) of debt accumulated by an economy that is about a half to a third of the world's economy yes?

    Think that chart is a little misleading

  76. JetStream195
    JetStream195 September 15, 2014

    I just realized this video is 4 years old. China's economy is far bigger than that now.

  77. ThatGuyWhoCouldn'tComeUpWithAnOriginalUsernameSoHeMadeAnOverlyLongOneInAnAttemptToBe"Ironic"
    ThatGuyWhoCouldn'tComeUpWithAnOriginalUsernameSoHeMadeAnOverlyLongOneInAnAttemptToBe"Ironic" January 17, 2015


  78. Rush Limbaugh's Basement
    Rush Limbaugh's Basement January 28, 2015

    This is why progressive policies are a failure.

    Libtard politicians use promises of free stuff to allure voters, and they get their free stuff for a time, but their children wake up in a country that is bankrupt.

    Nothing is free, and socialism doesn't work.

    It's time we get back to what America was meant to be.

    Pay your own way, don't force someone else to pay your way.

  79. Chris Banana
    Chris Banana April 24, 2015

    Thank you so much for putting CC on all ya'lls videos!!!

  80. David Brown
    David Brown July 10, 2015

    Numbers are correct.. facts are correct… but lacks perspective.

  81. Runn
    Runn July 11, 2015

    Ahh, well crap.  This is sad.  This is why Ill stick to bitcoins, thank you.  Cause when they go for your bank accounts to pay off US debts, they wont be able to go for mine.

  82. Prophet Ascending
    Prophet Ascending July 20, 2015

    When you see it presented in such a simple way you begin to realise just how irresponsible the political classes have been.

  83. Silly Goose
    Silly Goose August 6, 2015

    Yeah, that be a problem

  84. Blaze It Ken
    Blaze It Ken October 4, 2015

    Where is private sector debt? Household debt? Student loans?

  85. Blaze It Ken
    Blaze It Ken October 4, 2015

    And what if the state runs a surplus. As you stated, the income of the state are taxes. If taxes exceed what the state spends on the people, then money is flowing out of the private sector and into the government sector. This will result in a shrinking private sector. Now, how does an impaired private sector grow? Debt…

  86. FF
    FF October 12, 2015

    The documentary "the four horsemen" brings some thoughts on this topic.

  87. nikto2000
    nikto2000 February 12, 2016

    The US unfunded liabilities exceed the entire GDP of the earth….this would explain the drive to dominate the entire earth.

  88. garybsg
    garybsg April 1, 2016


  89. Matt -
    Matt - April 19, 2016

    +garybsg +ehh90 +Learn Liberty   I strongly agree that our debt is out of control.  However, I have a question about the numbers.  At the end when you are comparing our future unfunded liabilities against the world GDP, are you not comparing all future years of unfunded liabilities against the GDP for a single year?

  90. Matthew Mendell
    Matthew Mendell September 28, 2016

    I don't think this chart is convincing, because you mix together current and future debt obligations. The ~$19 trillion in debt today should be scary enough and easier to understand.

  91. Ed Kennen
    Ed Kennen March 7, 2017

    it's a good thing we're not expected to pay that all back in one year.

  92. NOBEL DJ
    NOBEL DJ December 27, 2017

    its 2017, the debt is passed 20 trillion and unfunded libilites are 80-200 trillion dollars and we spend way too much, yet politicans want free universal income, free education and free healthcare

  93. Thomas Welsh
    Thomas Welsh July 5, 2018

    How much of the "unfunded obligations" are programs shut down by unfunding to balance the budget?

  94. c hopkins
    c hopkins July 14, 2018

    To get our country out of debt we could make it an option to offer everyone government bonds when pay day arrived. The money would come out of the checks of the citizen. Once the bond is mature then the citizen can collect. If only 10 million citizens put up only 10 dollars per week then we would start looking pretty.

  95. aa7r aa7r
    aa7r aa7r December 26, 2018

    keep printing

  96. Green98
    Green98 May 21, 2019

    The American empire is about to dissolve

  97. Tom Bot
    Tom Bot August 15, 2019

    Yanks have fucked it then


    Big enough to we will never pay

  99. Harley Toms
    Harley Toms August 30, 2019

    And yet some people think that the United States will have enough funding for a war with russia or china. So sad.


  100. Earej
    Earej September 3, 2019

    65 Trillion. Cute. Well, that was in 2011.

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