Talk:Financial position of the United States

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The total cumulative debt of a nation is as important in an encyclopedia as governmental debt.

This page needs to be kept so that those exploring the debt and deficit pages can have an opportunity to see not only the governmental debt but the total debt.

It is possible that the there is a total debt number for the US (and other nations) that officially exists somewhere else -- but due to the development of wikipeida does not exist here yet.

Eyreland (talk) 02:23, 15 March 2009 (UTC)


I don't think this topic is particularly notable, receiving as it does no treatment in the mainstream literature. If notability is not verified by the citation of reliable sources, I will put it up for deletion.

On a more intellectual note, aggregating debt across net debtors and net creditors is an absurdity. The reason that no official institution or reliable source publishes the statistic is because it conveys absolutely nothing about the state of the economy. That said, it could be used to derive macroeconomic leverage. That is not a dollar amount, but a ratio, which might be notable if the literature supported such a thing. However, as an indicator itself, aggregated debt is useless. Bastin 12:49, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Is it really any more inane than the exceedingly popular indulgence of talking about the (long-term) “federal debt” of thousands of different agencies relative to the largely unrelated (and strictly annual) GDP/GNP, rather than similarly annual figures such as the deficit or interest service? Especially absent any knowledge of the trillions of dollars of that “debt” “owed” by the federal government to itself, or (as noted in this article) the trillions of dollars “owed” to private entities who themselves owe money to said “debtor.” Better yet, declaring this republic “bankrupt” on the basis of such baseless comparisons in spite of sitting atop hundreds of trillions of dollars in wealth, all over “debts” barely in the double-digit trillions?

I agree blindly smooshing uncleared debt numbers from different entities together is somewhat silly, but with the inclusion of (long-term) wealth rather than (annual) income, it's an enormous improvement in perspective over the presently mainstream practice of looking at debts in a vacuum. Ideally, figures identifying who actually owes how much to whom would tell us the amount of debt which would theoretically remain after central net settlement, rather than just all debts versus all assets. (talk) 21:17, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Move and rename[edit]

I've been working every now and then at retooling this article; it occurs to me that although "cumulative debt per person" is in some sense meaningful it's only one aspect of the overall debt of the United States (public and private). I have preferred using debt-to-GDP however as this gives a more consistent and meaningful measure of debt over time.

Additionally, speaking of debt exclusively is not a complete picture either since debt is inherently matched to assets, and those don't necessarily track GDP either. Discussions of other financial obligations, such as derivatives and unfunded liabilities, are also germane to give a picture of the overall financial position of our economy. It would also be relevant then to discuss things like the scale of corporate equity markets in the US, real estate, interest payments, and a breakdown of the US's financial relations with the rest of the world (this data is mainly available with extensive detail from the Flow of Funds reports the Fed issues).

So while I think that that overall picture of the US's financial position is a viable, important, encyclopedic topic, I'm not satisfied that "financial position of the United States" is particularly clear, so I'd be open to suggestions. I do think that it is better than "cumulative debt per person" though.

Beyond being encyclopedic, I personally think this topic is important (and I will spend some time working on it) because - even though there is a tremendous amount of hard data out there about this stuff - this data doesn't seem to be widely disseminated, and so there's a lot of misinformation and misleading statements passed around widely and even dangerously. (my favorite being the spooky $215 trillion notional value of derivatives that gets bandied about as the "burden" of derivatives) Equilibrium007 (talk) 20:45, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

I very much agree with the more holistic direction you took the article, but it still relies on the same US document series as where I first encountered such figures, though some (but not all) of the holes have been filled in. I wonder if there is enough reasonably high-quality data available to make more standardized and international articles, cumulatively outstanding equivalents to some of the strictly annual lists in—for instance—Template:GDP_country_lists and Template:Finance_country_lists. (talk) 21:17, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Family net worth[edit]

The US median family income is very different from what most people think. Here is some information for the article:

Pipo. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:04, 22 March 2013 (UTC)