The US Is About To Hit $20 Trillion In Debt: Here's How It Affects You

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Shaun Bradley via,

As the vulture pundits in the mainstream media pick apart hollow political scandals, the essential bankruptcy of the federal government looms just ahead. The national debt is creeping toward 20 trillion dollars, and the United State’s largest problem is once again staring the world in the face.

Just before the government was slated to shut down in 2015 (as it did in 2013), Congress was able to pass a delay on the debt ceiling decision until March 15th of this year — Wednesday of this week. Recurring uncertainty caused by events like this has implications that extend far beyond our own borders. The amount of leverage in the current system has already forced foreign holders of U.S. debt to question the real value of America’s full faith and credit.

2016 was a record-setting year for the liquidation of foreign-held U.S. bonds, topping out at nearly $405 billion. The selling was led by China, America’s second-biggest creditor, which currently holds over $1 trillion of U.S. debt, almost 28% of the total held by foreign central banks. They weren’t alone, though, and even the U.S.’ number one lender, Japan, has rolled back their positions to protect themselves as the reality of U.S. insolvency comes into focus. A gradual change has been set in motion, and the global superpower status of the United States may be systematically eroded — not militarily, but economically.

If the government does shut down again, the Treasury Department reportedly has as little as $66 billion in reserves and just enough income from taxes to meet its essential obligations.

Entitlements like social security and Medicare will likely be unaffected, but if lawmakers can’t collaborate to pass some kind of resolution, the power to allocate additional federal spending will largely be turned over to President Trump. The initial hiring freeze on federal employees that was implemented shortly after his inauguration could be just a taste of what’s to come.

The president’s promised tax cuts, Obamacare “reform,” and increased military spending will only intensify the political rift in this country. Democratic leaders have already accused the Trump administration of colluding with Russia, so it’s likely they’ll refuse to compromise on the budget in an effort to further undermine the Republican agenda. The destructive results of a polarized two-party system are exposed whenever crucial decisions like this must be made. When the legislative branch fails in its duties, the odds of a dictatorial executive developing are always amplified. The coming budgetary stalemate also threatens to undermine the recent record highs seen in the stock market.

Although the financial markets have enjoyed massive gains since the election, many investors have been hypnotized into blindly embracing the illusion that ‘this time it’s different.’ Nearly a decade of emergency monetary policy by the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates, along with its injection of trillions of dollars into the economy, has numbed Wall Street to the harsh realities of history.

David Stockman, former budget director for the Reagan administration, spoke to Neil Cavuto on Fox Business about the imminent debt crisis threatening to blindside the U.S. economy:

“What I’m saying is, all the extra growth from dynamic accounting that you could get if you got all these tax cuts through, it will not happen, the math isn’t there, it’s impossible. There is going to be a debt crisis this summer that will cause a financial crash of unbelievable proportions….It’s going to go on for days and weeks if not months, because Congress is already nasty and partisan. I’m seeing reality, the robo-machines are simply trading sound bites and tweets and hourly sentiments, this is meaningless. This is the biggest suckers rally in history and there is going to be a huge surprise very soon.

This plague of short-term thinking and desire for instant gratification has lulled America into an apathetic fog. People no longer act as though they have a stake in the future. They choose willful ignorance even as the most serious problems go unresolved. The $20 trillion balance on the national credit card is the most tangible example of how nearly a century of decadence can transform a society. This country once represented the world’s moral compass and a beacon of economic freedom, but those pillars have been abandoned to indulge in war profiteering and monetary fraud.

Delaying the inevitable has become an American pastime, along with avoiding responsibility for the consequences of our actions. The easy way out everyone appears to be looking for doesn’t exist, and the assumption that some enlightened person out there in a position of power has their best interests at heart is a fantasy.

Sure, 20 trillion is just a number, and the United States has a printing press, so technically, it can just create money to pay its bills. But that kind of short-sightedness is what has brought great civilizations to their knees in the past. Millennials can blame the baby boomers and the baby boomers can claim they didn’t know any better, but regardless, the situation is dire.

Despite the anticipation of reaching these debt levels, in all likelihood, the ceiling will eventually be raised and more reckless spending will follow. The spectacle put on by bureaucrats in Washington may be entertaining, but history will judge those who remain silent and pretend it isn’t their responsibility to intervene.

The time to think about who has been entrusted with your life savings and retirement is now. Most people wander through life never considering the unpleasant truths that might disturb their rose-colored view of the world. By acknowledging the reality of the situation, individuals can finally take the first steps towards securing peace of mind for themselves and their families. The United States federal government is not a benevolent caretaker, but a leech that will use its citizens as a host to keep itself alive.

As mainstream pundits and elected officials inevitably shift blame around like a twisted version of musical chairs, remember that self-reliance is the only solution. Those who become dependent on this crumbling house of cards are doomed to suffer the same fate as those seen waiting in lines for government handouts in places like Venezuela. Celebrate the $20 trillion dollar debt by breaking from the old system and exploring the new economy built on peer-to-peer networks, where individual skills are worth more than empty promises made by the State.

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spicedune's picture
spicedune (not verified) Mar 15, 2017 5:20 PM

Shocking reveal? Hardly, but heres what is

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

$19T, $20T, even $21T, what is few trillion between friend and kleptocrat?

Donald J. Trump's picture

Damnit Boris, somehow this is all your fault.

Troy Ounce's picture



It is fiat, so no ceiling.

YHC-FTSE's picture

Get your head around this. Yes, it IS fiat, so it's based on nothing. Twenty trillion or quadrillion of nothing is exactly nothing. But the numbers are derived from contracts, debt contracts (Bonds) to be precise: The promise of payment (Through actual hard work, blood, sweat and tears of those who pay taxes) by generations of generations yet unborn.

It's a clever little bankster scam. Each time somebody receives and spends a dollar, it legitimizes the dollar as an asset and imbues the value of work over time that person had to exert to gain that dollar and as a consequence measures (prices) any assets open to sale with dollars. A single transaction of a dollar  thereby creates value for those banksters doing nothing but printing/generating numbers each time the treasury issues bonds. The trust in this scam is gobsmackingly amazing.

Once the trust is gone, the emperor's tiny willy will be exposed and people will wonder just how the fuck they were deluded about the wealth and riches of his clothes for so long.

G-R-U-N-T's picture

Indeed, and when confidence is gone, crash and burn! I can only hope that when all this reset's the people have enough sense NOT to chose Totalitarianism as the government of choice, ugh!

Also, the bureaucracy is to big to manage, it's a mess. So many government positions have been infiltrated by Statists, that they'll bankrupt every man, woman and child furthering their perverted parasitic and leech infested ideology. Too many have no work ethic nor do they understand Capitalism. I have come to observe that being an American (which many can't even define due perverted education and propagandized establishment MSM convoluting American tradition thus losing it's meaning ) is less important than party affiliation or ideological preference. God help us!!!

zippedydoodah's picture

I thought that that chart must be logarithmic, but holy shit, it isn't.

Doom. The sooner the better.

TheGardener's picture

Is this the abyss looking back at me or something ? But with Nietzsche long dead I should by now be finally intimidated ?

GadExp's picture



If you told someone in 1997 (when the US debt was $5T) that we would hit $20T in just 20 years, they would laugh at you.  The 20 years prior saw an increase of only $4T to the debt.  

4x faster growth of the debt!

If we increase our debt 4x faster in the next 20 years, we'll be at basically $80T.  ((4x$15T) + $20T) = $80T


but then there's always that monster named "Parabolic" looking over our shoulder.


My honest, sincere bet is that by 2020 we will be looking BACKWARDS at $80T debt.


Gimme an 'H'!

Gimme a 'Y'!

Gimme a 'P'!

Gimme an 'E'!

Gimme an 'R'!

Gimme an 'I'!

Gimme an 'N'!

Gimme an 'F'!

Gimme an 'L'!

Gimme an 'A'!

Gimme a 'T'!

Gimme an 'I'!

Gimme an 'O'!

Gimme an 'N'!



CHX13's picture

But 20T is only the official debt. Factor in the unfunded liabilities and the total debt is already way past 100T. The patient is already dead, there is no way out of this but to altimately reset / default / have new currencies, possibly gold backed. It is certain to happen, ony question is when and how. But when it happens (likely at an moment completely unexpected by the masses), what assets would you want to own??? 

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

6 days and 21 hours on ZH. Can't you at least wait until you are out of diapers before spamming the hell out of everyone?

Tyler, could you please remove this one?

Amaroosta's picture

What's this trillion stuff? Quadrillion is where the moneys at.

TheGardener's picture

"Tyler, could you please remove this one?"

It always amazes me how fully tolerant those former hippies are and most likely boomers for demographic records to boot.

Of course those their own favorite site spamming folks are a nuisance, but who are you latetly ? When I first registered because I was just curious of the voting action after reading this site from virtually day one, I was caught by surprise of how much downvotes ORI collected back then just for linking and pushing his mediocre site of his own.Ever since I`m fully onboard with all that voting and the flow it implies.

I remember your piece about why all the old timers had gone just before I was readied to reply. , back in the day I would have had some pretty basic explanations of why the highly individual thinkers eschew company and rather go back to solitude after this once in a life meeting of souls and kins in that remote mountain cave.

Did you stay for long down here with us common folks when you came down from your Zarathustrian mountains ?

No, you just tried to talk everyone to death albeit with at least some solid substance.

But since you rather prefered listening to yourself while talking/writing endlessly about yourself you got your own site for due measure and

neither me, nor I guess the Tylers and readers where to unhappy about your timely departure.

Welcome back to fight club scolding newbees for pushing their own which would be very worthy of tradition if not coming from you on a high horse having been guilty of just the same with a much deeper infringement against the level of trust you enjoyed among ZH folks.



Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"Welcome back to fight club........"

I never left. Where have you been?

1980XLS's picture


Pop the corks


Buy wine and champagne stocks.


SilverRoofer's picture

Printing the cash inflating the money Calling up China yo we straight out of 20's

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Now exactly how do you spell exponential?

Lumberjack's picture

NOT-MY-PROBLEM. According to the assholes that created it..

Chupacabra-322's picture

It doesn't effect me cause I don't owe Jack Shit.

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Boris is run into Jack last week in bar, he is pretty angry you are owe him!

Lumberjack's picture

YUP. And my chainsaw is pretty pissed too... not to mention the wood chipper.

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Boris is refer to Jack Daniel, but maybe Chupacabra is own by many more people?

zippedydoodah's picture

Fuck off Tyler.

Oh sorry. I forgot that Boris is ZH's favourite poster. The fools here are very very easily fooled.

AllBentOutOfShape's picture

I actually agree with you.  Never bought it.

SuperRay's picture

Boris Alatovkrap? hmmm, i seem to recall your name coming up at a regional meeting of the Fed the other day.  Oh wait, that was Boris Alotovshit. never mind.

Croesus's picture

You too? I knew I wasn't the only one who wasn't wearing a bankster noose!

Debt-free's the way to be!

buzzsaw99's picture

i pay my bills. it's what makes me better than the gubbermint.

Princess Aura: But my father has never kept a vow in his life!

Dale Arden: I can't help that, Aura. Keeping our word is one of the things that make us... better than you.

[/Flash Gordon]

buzzsaw99's picture

In the sweet old country where I come from
Nobody ever works
Yeah nothing gets done
We hang fire, we hang fire
You know marrying money is a full time job
I don't need the aggravation
I'm a lazy slob
I hang fire, I hang fire
Hang fire, put it on the wire
We've got nothing to eat
We got nowhere to work
Nothing to drink
We just lost our shirts
I'm on the dole
We ain't for hire
Say what the hell
Say what the hell, hang fire
Hang fire, hang fire, put it on the wire
Doo doo doo...

ajkreider's picture

The debt won't pass $20 billion until the debt ceiling is raised, and then it will go to $20.6 billion in about  week.

Chippewa Partners's picture

Obama puts half of that on in 8 years and nobody seems to give a shit.  What is that all about?   

Just Another Vietnam Vet's picture

Do we Need A New Debt Ceiling..........?

Say about 24 Trillion....should be good for at least a few years.

Or do the DIMS want to argue and blame someone about it every year ?

Time to buy the PMs ??

HRClinton's picture

"Deficits don't matter", per Dick Cheney.

They don't matter much for a long time, when you can create the currency that everyone else in the world accepts, or has to.

It's a magical money trick that no one else can duplicate. Not even China.

Just Ctrl-P, Janet.

Solio's picture

Debt Ceiling?

You mean: Debt Sealing!


Our childrens' future for very many years.

dchang0's picture

Only if they stay in the USA. Italian and Spanish youths have been fleeing their country for over a decade now to find jobs elsewhere. They brought it upon themselves to disincentivize future generations from staying, and so have we.

SadhakaPadma's picture

GMO food cause damage of brain for milions of US citizens.

PoasterToaster's picture
PoasterToaster (not verified) SadhakaPadma Mar 15, 2017 5:50 PM

Luckily in India they don't have that problem.  They just don't have any food to begin with.

Ben A Drill's picture

My credit score says very good, not excellent. I looked and found that things that dinged my credit score was lack of information. No car loan, no rent, no mortgage, no student loan debt, lack of credit card history.

I said to myself FICO scores mean nothing after all I have been living at the same address for 14 years, have the same job for over 21 years, have zero debt. Never claimed or filled for BK, don't owe taxes, child support, alimony, absolutely nothing.

Also have money in the bank. Roth IRA, 401K, getting ready to collect Teamsters Penison.

If I only have very good credit than I don't know what excellent credit is.

Donald J. Trump's picture

It's what's on the books.  My sister has no income, a $300k mortgage, credit card debt, car loan, and a FICO in the 800 range.  Go figure.  A high FICO must mean you're a sucker for debt.

Ben A Drill's picture

Does she collect EBT? If she does it wouldn't surprise me.

dchang0's picture

It kinda does. The FICO score is from the banks' perspective. They have no interest in how well you run your personal finances, only how you can enrich them.

Ben A Drill's picture

I have my own bank. I'm king of my castle. My bank is closed to all loans from people close and far. If someone wants to bum a smoke it costs $1.00,

invest3's picture

Hope you're not in the Central States pension plan. Those recipients just took 60% haircuts on their monthly payouts.

Let it Go's picture

It seems ages since the topic of our national budget has been front and center, and while budget issues are fast approaching serious discussions may again be pushed aside by various distractions. The increase in national debt from 3 trillion dollars in 1990 to 5.75 trillion dollars in 2000 garnered far more attention than the roughly 10 trillion dollar leap that occurred during the 8 years Obama was in office.

Not suffering from our failure to deal with what this massive problem has only reinforced the idea that far too much has been made as to the ramifications of our out of control budget. The budgets and spending plans to fund the government are very important in shaping the country's future and should not be taken lightly. More on this subject in the article below.

Grandad Grumps's picture

Another alternative is for the US government to create its own bank, create its own money and lend it to itself. I am guessing that Gary Cohn would know how to do that. Golden Slacks seemingly did it all the time.

SuperRay's picture

they already do that.  It's called the federal reserve. It's just not the US government. it's the Rothschild tribe