United States National Debt Clock

The endless National debt (Live Debt Clock):

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Take another look at the US debt counter above. That sure is one hefty figure. America may be the land of plenty, but unfortunately, that motto extends to our national debt as well. Polls and figures published in major news sources reveal current statistics, as well as where America falls on the global scale. Let’s take a look!

Public Debt


For every person living in the u.s.

If every U.S. citizen had to shoulder an equal share of the national debt, each person would owe $53,004.


For every household in the U.S.

In order to pay off the national debt, each household would have to contribute $138,229.

President Comparison

Total Debt Accrued During Term

$280.2 B


$1.76 T


$1.49 T

G.H.W. Bush

$1.54 T


$4.9 T

G.W. Bush

$3.4 T


Days in Office
9.32 %
Annual Growth Rate
  • Start Date Jan. 20, 1977
  • Start Debt $653,907,000,000
  • End Date Jan. 20, 1981
  • End Debt $934,073,000,000

Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States. He was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2002 after leaving office. Under his administration, the Department of Energy and the Department of Education came into being.

Days in Office
14.8 %
Annual Growth Rate
  • Start Date Jan. 20, 1981
  • Start Debt $934,073,000,000
  • End Date Jan. 20, 1989
  • End Debt $2,697,957,000,000

Ronald Reagan was the 40th president of the United States. Before he got into politics, he was a well-known radio, film, and TV actor. He is known for his sweeping economic reforms including reduced tax rates, controlling money supply to reduce inflation, and deregulating the economy.

Days in Office
11.62 %
Annual Growth Rate
  • Start Date Jan. 20, 1989
  • Start Debt $2,697,957,000,000
  • End Date Jan. 20, 1993
  • End Debt $4,188,092,107,184

The 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush focused on foreign policy. Military operations were conducted during a time of global upheaval including Panama and the Persian Gulf.

Days in Office
3.99 %
Annual Growth Rate
  • Start Date Jan. 20, 1993
  • Start Debt $4,188,092,107,184
  • End Date Jan. 20, 2001
  • End Debt $5,727,776,738,305

Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the U.S., overhauled the education system in Arkansas when he served as Governor. As president, he presided over the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in U.S. history. He successfully passed welfare reform and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. He is rated highly in public opinion polls of U.S. presidents.

Days in Office
8.03 %
Annual Growth Rate
  • Start Date Jan. 20, 2001
  • Start Debt $5,727,776,738,305
  • End Date Jan. 20, 2009
  • End Debt $10,626,877,048,913

Following in his father’s footsteps, George W. Bush came into office in 2001 as the 43rd president of the United States. His term was marked by the terrorist events of September 11th and the ensuing War on Terror. In 2007, the U.S. entered the longest recession since the Great Depression. The Bush administration sought to control the crisis through economic programs meant to diminish financial losses.

Days in Office
15.21 %
Annual Growth Rate
  • Start Date Jan. 20, 2009
  • Start Debt $10,626,877,048,913
  • End Date Jan. 04, 2011
  • End Debt $16,737,294,304,715

Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States and the first African American president. Early in his first term, he signed into law an economic stimulus program meant to revive the economy from the worst recession since the Great Depression. This includes the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as the Job Creation Act.

What is the National Debt in the U.S. vs. Other Countries?

Total Public Debt



It is argued that entitlement programs, overspending, and the stimulus programs of the 2009 financial crisis are the real causes of the U.S. debt crisis. When the recession hit in 2008, it hit hard. In an attempt to buoy the nation, leaders have tried to pump funds into programs meant to alleviate financial burdens on individuals. This only sinks the country as a whole deeper into a deficit.



Greece’s debt seems to have been caused by a combination of factors. These include structural weaknesses of the country’s economy as well as the incomplete economic, tax and banking unification of the European Monetary Union. Then, there were fears from investors that Greece could not pay back its debts which led to a “confidence crisis”. This was illustrated by a widening of bond yield spreads and the cost of risk insurance on credit default swaps compared to the other countries in Europe.



China is at a tipping point when it comes to their national debt. Though it’s quite low compared to the country’s total GDP, there are still issues of confidence and potential bust. Problems are beginning to appear with loans to local government infrastructure projects, which constitute the bulk of the recent credit surge.



Theories behind debt in Japan include: the decrease in asset value, insolvent companies, insolvent banks, and fear. There was a large price bubble in both equities and real estate in Japan that peaked in 1989. Banks lent to companies and individuals that invested in real estate. When real estate values dropped, many loans went unpaid. Ultimately this created a fear around the fallback around unpaid loans. Japanese buy gold or international property rather than put money in a national bank.



High interest rates, excessive spending on public programs, and a mortgage crisis similar to that in the United States have all been charged with causing the current debt in Canada. There are a variety of factors that go into the climbing deficit. Canada is in the same position as the rest of the world. They can’t raise interest rates or they’ll lose opportunities to other countries with low rates, but they need higher rates to fuel growth in their own country. It’s a catch-22.



The 1 trillion pound debt in the UK is the legacy of nearly a decade of the state living beyond its means and the pain caused by the financial crisis. Overspending in prior years led to the deflation of funds, as well. Public finances were not in order and the country wasn’t equipped to deal with the recession when it struck.

What Do The Experts Have To Say About National Debt?

Trying to lower the debt-to-GDP ratio without thinking about broader economic growth can be a disaster, as seen in the United Kingdom where austerity has not sutured the annual deficits as promised. In that case, what is needed is actually more economic growth to ultimately tame the debt. And this is the haunting part of this possibility—if the United States cannot restore a stronger level of growth, a day of reckoning with our bondholders might be inevitable.

Josh Boak
National Correspondent For The Fiscal Times

As the U.S. economy is improving – barely – consumers are gradually gaining confidence. And as they are, they’re also incurring additional debt. We’re all hearing about the economic recovery, but it is a very slow recovery, just a bit more than economic stagnation. Unemployment has declined only one percentage point in 18 months, and earnings are sluggish. This makes it worrisome to see revolving credit levels moving upward.

Kevin Gallegos
National consumer finance expert, vice president of Freedom Financial Network

Despite all the doom and gloom you hear about the decline of America’s creditworthiness, it’s still a very rich country in both productive capacity and industrial and natural resources. And the financial crisis and demographic shifts that have caused our budget problems are either temporary effects or problems that could be solved by a mature discussion about priorities.

Christopher Matthews
Writer and Reporter for TIME Magazine

The debt is the sum of the yearly deficits. The federal government keeps running a deficit because of its massive, destructive, and wasteful spending on warfare, and because the top US marginal tax rates are too low. When that radical Dwight Eisenhower was president, the top marginal tax rate was over 90%.

The US should just print money to pay off the debt. That might harm the 1%, who own most of the debt, but they have plenty of reserve. Unfortunately, they also own the government, so instead we'll just get more propaganda about ‘sharing the pain.’ Translated out of today's Newspeak, sharing means more tax cuts for the 1%, more service and benefit cuts for the 99%.

Sanjoy Mahajan
Associate Director and Lecturer at MIT
Writer for Freakonomics

The continued rise of the national debt has, and will continue, to keep the country’s economic recovery sluggish in the years to come. At the end of the day, there are only a two ways to responsibly lower the U.S. debt – cut back on spending or raise taxes. Either option will elicit an outcry from the public, but the temporary sacrifice is necessary for the economy to regain its footing.

Jennifer Calonia
Editor and Contributing Writer for
GoBankingRates.com, an online personal
finance resource

For all our obsessing about it, the national debt is a singularly bad way of measuring the nation’s financial condition. It includes only a small portion of the nation’s total liabilities. And it’s focused on the past. An honest assessment of the country’s projected revenue and expenses over the next generation would show a reality different from the apocalyptic visions conjured by both Democrats and Republicans during the debt-ceiling debate. It would be much worse.

Peter Coy
Economics Editor for Bloomberg Businessweek

The level of the debt in the U.S. makes the inflationary outlook probable. The only other way to pay off the debt would be to raise taxes substantially, which would kill the economy. ‘Inflating the debt away’ is also much easier to do from the political point of view.

Przemyslaw Radomski, CFA

What is the U.S. National Debt?

The National Debt clock displays the United States gross national debt in real-time. It is also a digital billboard located at One Bryant Park in New York City.

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