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Chicago Fed Letter, No. 353, 2016
How Much Debt Does the U.S. Government Owe?
The U.S. government is often referred to as the world’s biggest debtor. But how much debt does it owe? A visit to the website of the U.S. Department of the Treasury yields a bewildering array of different measures of U.S. federal government debt. Although the gross debt of the U.S. federal government is approaching $18 trillion, the debt that is subject to the debt limit is a few billion dollars smaller, while debt in the hands of the public is less than $13 trillion.


Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604-1413, USA. Tel. (312) 322-5322

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