The total amount of public debt, a portion of the total national debt, now exceeds public money deposited in U.S. banks: $11.6 trillion vs. $10.6 trillion, according to Market Rates Insight.
Historically, the amount of consumers deposits held by banks was greater than the amount of public debt (data available from 1997). In December 2010, both bank deposits and public debt stood at about $9.4 trillion each.
Since then, the amount of public debt has increased 23%, compared to 13% growth among bank deposits.
The total federal debt, also known as gross debt, currently stands at $16.4 trillion. This is the amount of the federal government’s outstanding debt issued by the Treasury Department and other federal government agencies.
The gross debt consists of two components: Debt held by the public, which includes debt held by all investors outside of the federal government, and debt held by government accounts, primarily to federal trust funds such as Social Security and Medicare.
Whenever a government account must spend more than it takes in from the public, the Treasury must provide cash to redeem debt held by the government accounts such as the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.
“If there is another good reason for the upcoming debate on the national debt,” says Market Rates Insight Executive Vice President Dan Geller, Ph.D., “it is the fact that all the public’s bank savings is not enough to cover the public portion of the national debt.”