Comparing Changes In Quarterly US Debt And Deficits

Tyler Durden's picture

Now that America is on record spending autopilot and nobody cares or knows just what the 2010 deficit pattern of the government will look like, and, more importantly, the debt issuance, we have compiled historical quarterly data comparing the change in US deficit and debt data. As the chart below demonstrates, over the past 10 quarters, on average the US had added $400 billion in debt each quarter, while increasing its deficit by about $275 billion, with debt issuance surpassing any given period's deficit by almost 50%. To be sure, the data in the debt change is skewed by the outliers of Q3 and Q4, which were not so much an increase in term debt, but a massive issuance in short-term debt holdings, as the entire world scrambled to place their money into ultra-secure 30 Day and other Bill securities. As a result of these two debt outlier points, the US is now stuck with rolling over half a trillion in short-term debt on a monthly basis. Either way, it is obvious that it will likely be impossible for the US to trim it quarterly debt issuance materially below $400 billion per quarter, and will likely see this number increasing as tax receipts continue declining. Additionally as quarterly deficits are unable to drop below $300 billion (note the Q2 '10 data excludes June deficit data), once interest rates start climbing, look for these numbers to surge once ever greater portions of the US deficit go to simply pay the interest on the federal debt. Bottom line, with the US expected to generate a deficit of about $1.5 trillion in the next fiscal year, the napkin estimate says that the US will likely incur between $2 and $2.5 trillion in debt over the next year. And now you know even better why the administration is now spending money with no blueprint whatsoever.

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Shameful's picture

At least the ritual of increasing the debt limit should be entertaining.  I really got to wonder when the rest of the world is going to lose it's nerve and be the first to panic.  He who panics first panics best.

rmsnickers's picture

No need to even leave a comment on this one; your user name says it all.  Shameful indeed.

Nolsgrad's picture


I swear I almost thought the debt limit decreased in 2001 for a second.

Red Neck Repugnicant's picture

We need to have this link to the treasury removed from the internet.  

According to that chart, it appears the debt doubled from ~$6 trillion to ~$12 trillion during the Bush years.

I was indoctrinated to believe that a Republican president would bring fiscal responsibility to this country. Shouldn't the balance sheet of any government be reduced during times of prosperity and increased during times of economic slowdown, like we have now?  

If American citizens see this chart, they're going to think that a Republican president is equally incompetent as a Democratic president.  And since this explosion of our debt happened during "prosperous" years, it makes the Bush administration look even worse.

Get this chart off the internet!

Ragnar D's picture

Your constant partisan trolling for The Party is getting old.

We get it, infinite government is our only salvation from the mean ol' Republicans.

Now take your cheerleading elsewhere.

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

It's nice to see such balance in a poster here on ZH..seems all evil lies in just a few of the elites..the ones with R near the names ..those D guys are really really good.

This poster serves to educate those that come to ZH on the effects of being completely convinced in the R vs D kabuki dance.

Sudden Debt's picture

He who panics first and shoots down all the rest, gets the liveboat and the rations all for himself

Rainman's picture

It's pretty clear. There is no plan. There is no backup plan. And there is no  backup plan to back up the first lack of a backup plan.  

Ragnar D's picture

I'll see you that clip, and raise you this one:


That said, I'd gladly put up with him if we could make him Dictator of Debt and Deficit Reduction for a week.  I bet he could cut 2 trillion/year.

Sudden Debt's picture

Did you see Charly Wilson's War?

That piece where they ask about the strategy on the Afgan war:

Charlie Wilson: You mean to tell me that the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is to have the Afghans keep walking into machine gun fire 'til the Russians run out of bullets?
Gust Avrakotos: That's Harold Holt's strategy, it's not U.S. strategy.
Charlie Wilson: What is U.S. strategy?
Gust Avrakotos: Most strictly speaking, we don't have one. But we're working on it.
Charlie Wilson: Who's 'we'?
Gust Avrakotos: Me and three other guys.

Sancho Ponzi's picture

The US Government is acting like a patient with terminal cancer and a 100k AMEX line of credit. Who needs to balance a checkbook when you'll be dead in 6-12 months? 

bugs_'s picture

Wait till they deem the ceiling ceilinged

Rogerwilco's picture

They will probably wait for the lame duck session after the elections and pass one of those autopilot laws that ratchets the limit up automatically whenever borrowing gets within 10% of the cap. Since there is nothing sadder or more useless than a politician with no money to spend, the new Congress will probably leave it in place -- party on!

Shameful's picture

I must disagree.  Now the lame duck congress will pass all manner of nightmarish and ruinous legislation I do not expect a major debt ceiling to be among them.  I would expect them to leave that poison pill for the next congress.  After the branches of the Looter party do love to squabble and move power from one branch and to the other.

Charley's picture

It is just paper, and of no consequence whatsoever. I keep several rolls in my bathroom, if the Messiah ever runs out.

TexasAggie's picture

Remember the old adage, its never finished until the paperwork is completed.

scratch_and_sniff's picture

Relax, everything has a happy ending.

exportbank's picture

So why is it that the  US Treasury has to go to a private bank (The FED) and pay them interest when the Treasury just wants to print money - couldn't they just buy their own printing press? Is there something in the Constitution that grants a private party (FED) a franchise to print?

umop episdn's picture

That is a 97 year old question here in the Untied Snakes. I think the Constitution gives the Congress the right to control the issuance of money, yet there have been three central banks in the 234 yrs of this semi-sorta republic. I think they're going for four.

I wish there was a FAQ!

MarketTruth's picture

Yes the treasury can release their own 'debt' and thereby not having the affliction of paying any interest on debt. Of course JFK tried having silver guaranteed treasury money and look at how well he did. The Fed immediately removed such dollars from circulation at breakneck speed.


"On June 4, 1963, a virtually unknown Presidential decree, Executive Order 11110, was signed with the authority to basically strip the Federal Reserve Bank of its power to loan money to the United States Federal Government at interest. With the stroke of a pen, President Kennedy declared that the privately owned Federal Reserve Bank would soon be out of business."

More at:


Reese Bobby's picture

Would it be too much to ask for a "wow-factor" missle shield?  That could lead to a LOT of debt forgiveness, no? And it would only cost $1 trillion, tops..

Sisyphus's picture

C'mon Tyler, you make no mention of the most important news item of the day - Lindsay Lohan is going to jail. Front page news on CNN. All this talk about debt, deficit, budget, printer cartridge, etc. etc. pales in comparison to Ms. Lohan's predicament and her contribution to our society. My souls mourns for her. We all should observe a minute of silence in her honour.


AUD's picture

And this article explains why gold is off its highs.

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

And now it should be obvious to EVERYONE why Kkkrugman and all Keynsians want to kill the doelarr; so they can pay back the world with absolutely worthless FIAT.

"Money money money money....MONEY!!!"

"Do thangs, do thangs, do thangs BAD thangs with it!"

O'Jays for Treasurie Sec!!!

"For the love of monie, people will steal from their motha!"

Misean's picture

$500B roll every month huh?  Well at least when the gov't decides to default it won't take long for it to hit.

Amish Hacker's picture

I read those last two sentences again and again, and I still can't quite wrap my mind around those numbers. Simply stunning.

DoctoRx's picture

Who would want to start a business doing business in USD?

I know an entrepreneurial US-based start-up, the goal of the owner being to be incorporated overseas from the get-go so that all financial rewards are non-US-denominated and not subject to US taxation.

hardball22's picture

Could the trap door be international imbalances balancing themselves.  Consider, for a moment, that China starts chipping away at its surplus and it directly imports our deficit.  That's eating the UST supply via demand redux.

Now, there's still the interest coverage that needs to be serviced by the USTreasury, but I trust that we'll finagle a way to "honor" all obligations via inflation and the priniting press.  Has this Europe crisis threaded the needle by providing the US the [safe-haven] demand to push out the UST portfolio duration to reduce short-term roll requirements (at least deferring a substantial roll beyond the 2012 ARM disaster)?

I'm being quite serious, somebody please contend, because bizzarro-world has me thinking like Tiny Tim Bernanke. 

Double down's picture

Dibs!! (feeling rather dirty)

hooligan2009's picture

Leaving aside the payments by tax payers to those out of work now, let me run some numbers here.

If there are 20 million people who are not spending (out of work or subsidising others) and let's say we gave them an extra 280 bucks a week, this would cost c. $300bn a year.

A deficit of 1.5 trillion per annum, means that 100 million people could be given this money for the same cost as the funny money schemes of the Fed and the Government.

This would not only give them some dignity and a healthier standard of living, it would also put this money directly into the economy rather than into funny money book keeping.

If the amount "spent" on the bail out in the last two years is 6 trillion, then this means a chance to inject c. 4 times 280 a week per household over the last two years has been exchanged by policy makers from households to the banking/housing sector.

I call this theft...(check my numbers please!)

kaiserhoff's picture

There live not three good men unhanged in England, and one of them is fat and grows old.

                                           Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford


Perhaps this is not the end of days.  Maybe it just feels that way.

hooligan2009's picture

unless im living in Brooke House in 1604!

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