10 Charts of 2012: History of U.S. Debt

Source:  Quartz.com

Source: Quartz.com

This chart, from Quartz.com, shows the historical debt-to-GDP ratio for the United States going back to 1790.  What’s interesting to note about the graph is how the historical trends in this ration changed during the Reagan years.  Prior to that point, we saw a fairly traditional pattern:  debt rose during wars and during economic downturns.  What made the Reagan years different was the fact that debt continued to increase even during the best of times in the 1980s.


2 Responses to “10 Charts of 2012: History of U.S. Debt”

  1. Two notes on this. First, look at who controlled Congress during the Reagan years. Revenues doubled, while spending tripled. Also note who was controlling Congress when the debt was reduced during Clinton.

    And second, put 2012 on the graph, and we’re back at 100%. Not exactly world war time is it?

    • Ronald Reagan never produced a budget proposal that was anywhere near balanced. In fact, many years, the Democratic Congress passed budgets with smaller deficits than what Reagan proposed.

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