Since 1800, U.S. debt held by the public has exceeded 60 percent of GDP (a maximum debt criterion used by the European Monetary Union) only during World War II
June 16, 2012
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SOURCE: Data from the Congressional Budget Office, The 2012 Long-Term Budget Outlook, June 2012. Compiled by PGPF.
NOTE: Data through 1939 are based on debt at end of the calendar year; data for 1940 and later are based on debt at end of the fiscal year. Debt held by the public refers to all federal debt held by individuals, corporations, state or local governments, and foreign entities.

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Peter G. Peterson Foundation Chart Pack:

The PGPF chart pack illustrates that budget-making involves many competing priorities, limited resources, and complex issues. In this set of charts, we aim to frame the financial condition and fiscal outlook of the U.S. government within a broad economic, political, and demographic context.
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