The National Debt

“….At every stage in the growth of that debt the nation has set up the same cry of anguish and despair. The nation owed about 50 millions; and that debt was considered, not merely by…  fox hunting squires ..but by profound thinkers, as an incumbrance which would permanently cripple the body politic. Nevertheless, the nation became richer and richer.

Then came another war and the debt rose to 80 millions. Pamphleteers, historians and orators pronounced that now, at all events the case was desperate. Under the next administration, the debt rapidly swelled to 140 millions…Men of theory and men of business almost unanimously pronounced that the fatal day had now really arrived. It was possible to prove by figures that the road to national ruin was through the national debt. It was idle to talk about the road, however, we had reached the goal; all was over, all the revenues of the island were mortgaged…

 The funded debt grew to 800 millions, in truth a fabulous debt. And yet one had only to open his eyes to see the improvement all around him….The..bankrupt society while meeting these obligations, grew richer and richer …They saw that the debt grew and they forgot that other things grew as well.

 Englishman Thomas Babington Macauley  in 1885 as chronicled by Sydney Homer in History of Interest Rates -Rutgers Univ Press

One more thing, the interest rates on that “fabulous” debt? Between 2.5 and 3.5%

4 thoughts on “The National Debt

  1. James

    If I follow the logic then somehow the US is going to have to have a ten trillion dollar private borrowing binge to replace the gov deficit. The US economy and its debt seems to be following a geometric progression where bigger booms are always assumed. That’s not going to happen this time

    Reply
  2. Dan

    Yeah but isn’t the real question what the “return” on that debt is; i.e. was it used to further economic development? Not sure that is the case now.

    Reply

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