Taken out of context, the numbers are staggering. The US has a total debt pile of almost $17 trillion (£10.6 trillion), which is expected to rise to almost $23tn in the next five years.
But how does that compare with other major economies?
Japan is not far behind, with current debts totalling $11.5tn. By any standards, these are big, big numbers.
And these countries are not alone – almost every major global economy has debts of more than a trillion dollars, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
But context is needed – after all, debt is not necessarily a problem if you have the income to cover it.
That is why the two most common measures used to gauge a nation’s indebtedness are:
total debt, as expressed as a percentage of total economic output (GDP)
budget deficit, the amount by which a government’s expenses exceed its income, expressed as a percentage of GDP
Some governments actually run a surplus – in other words their income exceeds their expenses. Running a surplus is one of the best ways to reduce overall levels of debt.
For the full data and graph visit the BBC
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