In 1980, total debt—private, corporate, state, and federal—was 1.75 times the GDP. Today, it is around 3.8 times. Think of it this way: in 1980, we had $175,000 of debt for every $100,000 of GDP. Today $100,000 of GDP equates to $380,000 of debt.
The U.S. has become dependent on consumer spending for economic growth. Debt has fueled much of that spending. In 1980, the total government, corporate, and personal debt was around $5 trillion. Today, it is around $80 trillion or roughly 7% growth a year.
The federal government ran a $3.1 trillion deficit in the fiscal year 2020, more than triple the fiscal year 2019. This year’s debt was 15.2% of the GDP, the most significant deficit as a share of the economy since 1945.