Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Well, here's a fuzzy

A few days back, I was looking at Non-Federal debt relative to Federal debt, and Jim thought I was using the wrong Federal debt number.

Yes, I'm still dwelling on it :)

The difference between the two Federal debt numbers is that one includes, and the other excludes, the debt held internally by the government. The bigger number, which includes internally-held debt, is the $14.3 trillion that everybody talks about. The smaller number, under $10 trillion, excludes the internally-held debt.

So, what's the difference? The graph below shows the bigger number as a multiple of the smaller:

Until 1974, and again since the 1980s, internally held debt was increasing relative to externally ("publicly") held debt. Most significant is the increase during the 1990s.

The 1990s. In the early years there was a sustained increase in both base money and M1 money. In the latter years there was a burst of growth.

I'm wondering how this graph fits into that picture.

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