The Outstanding Government Debt

October 10, 1938

Report Outline
The Present Size of the Government Debt
Growth and Composition of the Public Debt
Gross and Net Government Debt
The Credit of the Federal Government
Special Focus

The Present Size of the Government Debt

On September 30, the official figure for the outstanding public debt of the United States government was $38,392,725,250. The federal deficit for the first quarter of the current fiscal year was over $700,000,000, and is expected to grow to about $4,000,000,000 by June 30, 1939, at which time it is estimated that the debt will exceed $40,000,000,000.

No complete figure for the combined debts of the states and local units is available later than 1932, but several government departments have cooperated to prepare an estimate as of June 30, 1937, based on samples covering 90 per cent of the debt-contracting agencies. According to this estimate, the outstanding amount of government securities other than those of the federal government was $19,594,600,000. Since the corresponding amount was $19,576,400,000 in 1932, it is fair to assume in the absence of evidence to the contrary that there has been no great change during the last fifteen months. The total amount of federal, state and local securities outstanding is therefore in the neighborhood of $58,000,000,000.

This figure does not, however, give an accurate picture of government debt. In addition, there are several billion dollars of securities issued by agencies of government, such as the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Federal Land Banks. For some of these debts, government is legally responsible, and for most of them there is a moral responsibility. At the present time, the debts are apparently more than matched by the assets of these agencies, but final liquidation may prove otherwise.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Federal Budget and National Debt
Sep. 01, 2017  National Debt
Jul. 12, 2013  Government Spending
May 15, 2012  State Capitalism
Mar. 18, 2011  National Debt
Nov. 14, 2008  The National Debt
Dec. 09, 2005  Budget Deficit
Apr. 13, 2001  Budget Surplus
Feb. 01, 1991  Recession's Regional Impact
Jan. 20, 1984  Federal Budget Deficit
Sep. 09, 1977  Federal Reorganization and Budget Reform
Nov. 24, 1972  Limits on Federal Spending
Jan. 08, 1969  Federal Budget Making
Dec. 06, 1967  National Debt Management
Aug. 01, 1962  Fiscal and Budget Policy
Nov. 27, 1957  National Debt Limit
Mar. 20, 1957  Spending Controls
Dec. 24, 1953  Public Debt Limit
Feb. 13, 1952  Tax and Debt Limitation
Nov. 30, 1949  Government Spending
Jan. 06, 1948  Legislative Budget-Making
May 23, 1944  The National Debt
Feb. 01, 1943  The Executive Budget and Appropriations by Congress
Dec. 27, 1939  Revision of the Federal Budget System
Oct. 10, 1938  The Outstanding Government Debt
Nov. 20, 1937  Budget Balancing vs. Pump Priming
May 02, 1936  The Deficit and the Public Debt
Oct. 19, 1934  The Federal Budget and the Public Debt
Feb. 10, 1933  Extraordinary Budgeting of Federal Finances
Dec. 01, 1932  Reduction of Federal Expenditures
Dec. 01, 1930  The National Budget System
Oct. 02, 1930  Federal Revenues and Expenditures
Nov. 02, 1927  The Public Debt and Foreign Loans
Nov. 15, 1926  Rising Cost of Government in the United States
Feb. 05, 1925  Four Years Under the Budget System
Deficit, Federal Debt, and Balanced Budget