What If The US Government Paid Off Its Entire Debt?

The idea might seem laughable now, but 11 years ago, when the US was running a budget surplus, the government did a secret study to find out what would happen if it paid off its entire debt.

The study's conclusion? Paying off the entire US debt could actually harm the global economy!

If the U.S. paid off its debt there would be no more U.S. Treasury bonds in the world. "It was a huge issue ... for not just the U.S. economy, but the global economy," says Diane Lim Rogers, an economist in the Clinton administration.

The U.S. borrows money by selling bonds. So the end of debt would mean the end of Treasury bonds.

But the U.S. has been issuing bonds for so long, and the bonds are seen as so safe, that much of the world has come to depend on them. The U.S. Treasury bond is a pillar of the global economy.

Banks buy hundreds of billions of dollars' worth, because they're a safe place to park money. Mortgage rates are tied to the interest rate on U.S. treasury bonds. The Federal Reserve — our central bank — buys and sells Treasury bonds all the time, in an effort to keep the economy on track.

If Treasury bonds disappeared, would the world unravel?

NPR's All Things Considered has the story: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/10/20/141510617/what-if-we-paid-off-the-debt-the-secret-government-report

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments


No, Clinton can't be given much credit for the boom back then.

He should be getting some of the blame for the mortgage catastrophe, though. Just google ''Bush warned Congress 17 times''...
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
What happened eleven years ago, the LAST time we had a budget surplus?? Hmm mm mm, I just don't know...

I just CAN'T imagine...

Could it be.... Bill Clinton was president???

Not that he'll ever get credit for it.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Since we need to outright kill the current economy and replace it with a sane one, it would be great if we saved ourselves, watched the world burn, and then swooped in to buy it up on the cheap. We'd get our imperialist agenda done and over with and not only do it for less than these asinine wars and fascist corporatocracies, we'd actually turn a profit!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Here is what they could have done.
Pay off the debt
Cut middle clas taxes in half creating debt
Invest social security money in treasury bonds
get rid of the federal reserve so banks would have to pay you interest on using your money.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"What If The US Government Paid Off Its Entire Debt?"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More