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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the U.S. federal budget in terms of annual debt and accumulated debt
  • Understand how economic growth or decline can influence a budget surplus or budget deficit

Having discussed the revenue (taxes) and expense (spending) side of the budget, we now turn to the annual budget deficit or surplus, which is the difference between the tax revenue collected and spending over a fiscal year, which starts October 1 and ends September 30 of the next year.

[link] shows the pattern of annual federal budget deficits and surpluses, back to 1930, as a share of GDP. When the line is above the horizontal axis, the budget is in surplus; when the line is below the horizontal axis, a budget deficit occurred. Clearly, the biggest deficits as a share of GDP during this time were incurred to finance World War II. Deficits were also large during the 1930s, the 1980s, the early 1990s, and most recently during the recession of 2008–2009.

Pattern of federal budget deficits and surpluses, 1929–2014

The graph shows that federal deficit (as a percentage of GDP) skyrocketed between the late 1930s and mid-1940s. In 2009, it was around –10%. In 2014, the federal deficit was close to –3%.
The federal government has run budget deficits for decades. The budget was briefly in surplus in the late 1990s, before heading into deficit again in the first decade of the 2000s—and especially deep deficits in the recession of 2008–2009. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (FRED). http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/FYFSGDA188S)

Debt/gdp ratio

Another useful way to view the budget deficit is through the prism of accumulated debt rather than annual deficits. The national debt    refers to the total amount that the government has borrowed over time; in contrast, the budget deficit refers to how much has been borrowed in one particular year. [link] shows the ratio of debt/GDP since 1940. Until the 1970s, the debt/GDP ratio revealed a fairly clear pattern of federal borrowing. The government ran up large deficits and raised the debt/GDP ratio in World War II, but from the 1950s to the 1970s the government ran either surpluses or relatively small deficits, and so the debt/GDP ratio drifted down. Large deficits in the 1980s and early 1990s caused the ratio to rise sharply. When budget surpluses arrived from 1998 to 2001, the debt/GDP ratio declined substantially. The budget deficits starting in 2002 then tugged the debt/GDP ratio higher—with a big jump when the recession took hold in 2008–2009.

Federal debt as a percentage of gdp, 1942–2014

The graph shows that federal debt (as a percentage of GDP) was highest in the late 1940s before steadily declining down beneath 30% in the mid-1970s. Another increase took place during the recession in 2009 where it rose to over 60% and has been rising steadily since.
Federal debt is the sum of annual budget deficits and surpluses. Annual deficits do not always mean that the debt/GDP ratio is rising. During the 1960s and 1970s, the government often ran small deficits, but since the debt was growing more slowly than the economy, the debt/GDP ratio was declining over this time. In the 2008–2009 recession, the debt/GDP ratio rose sharply. (Source: Economic Report of the President, Table B-20, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/ERP-2015/content-detail.html)

The next Clear it Up feature discusses how the government handles the national debt.

What is the national debt?

One year’s federal budget deficit causes the federal government to sell Treasury bonds to make up the difference between spending programs and tax revenues. The dollar value of all the outstanding Treasury bonds on which the federal government owes money is equal to the national debt.

Questions & Answers

what is equillibrium
riy Reply
Equilibrium is a state of balance e.g supply equals demand then there is no oversupply or shortage of goods
Scelo
When price increases quantity demnd alway decreases
Sonu Reply
this is because when price increase,consumer can longer effort to pay as they usually do thereby leading to the fall in dd
Muafue
Explain the impact of increase price of substitude goods an equilibirum price and equilibirum quantity
Sonu
Again according to the first law of demand which state that more is demanded at higher price than at lower price.Because of this consumer believe that more can only be demand at low prices than higher prices meaning that a slide change in price will affect demand
Muafue
what are the functions of money?
Liza Reply
medium of exchange
Alhassan
Medium of exchange,store of value,standard for differ payment and unit of account
Muafue
A medium of exchange for goods and services
Allen
what is demand for labour?
Allen
boumols inventory theory?
Vyshnavi Reply
what is inflation?
Jestony Reply
the increase in general price level and the decrease in money value
Inflation can be define as the persistence rise in the general price level of goods and services in the market
Muafue
what are the three reason tgat we study economics
armaan Reply
we may be rational people, know efficient where met profit maximization, know efficient allocation
li
1.How monetary and fiscal policy create stable economy. 2. How to create fairness for all citizens. 3. Determine drivers of human economic behavior.
Mark
To know that you we need understand the demand and supply and others important matters in economics
emz
can you explain. what is the reasons for having international trade
atikah Reply
to aid productivity and efficiency, for economic growth, to help reduce dependence on local product
kunle
can someone please help differentiate between short and long run in microeconomics and macroeconomics
kunle
what is inflation in economic
Christopher Reply
a general increase price level and fall in purchasing value of money
a general increase in price level and fall in purchasing value of money
due to high supply of mony in the market the demand of goods will increase and price will high its call inflation.
Thalay
thanks
Christopher
how to calculate real and calculated unemployment rate for false information
James Reply
I think unemployment can't be calculated but I think due to economics survey that happens every year we come to know about unemployment rate and compares that with precocious year unemployment rate
are foreigners in our country helping our economy or not?
Nwabali Reply
foreign countries invest in India by two ways one for there business promotion(of their product ) through employment which employment generates in India and the 2nd is foreign aid fund means when a country suffers from flood,earthquake etc so other countries help them financial(called foreign aid)
simple answer is yes
Yes, this is through the investment as investors.
jossy
what is revenue commission?
Kelvyn Reply
is the organ which is collect tax from society for public servise
ABIYOT
Where is determination of price is done?
Vidhan Reply
when price equal with marginal cost
ABIYOT
what is demand
Fransis Reply
The willingness and ability to of a buyer to purchase a commodity
Moses
the thing that u r able to buy and which fullfill your want is called Demand
Stanzin
what u want to buy to fulfilling of yours desires is called demand
Thalay
explain manetary policy
Amina Reply
why SA is used in estimating of national income
Unique Reply
first what SA stand for?
Alhassan
SA stand for static adjustment
Unique
machenism of monetary expansion
EFAT
norther one
Unique
explain manetary policy
Amina

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Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
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