October 17, 2009

Full-Year U.S. Deficit Quick Hit: $1.417 Trillion Result Is Slightly Worse Than CBO’s Last Estimate; National Debt Increased Almost $1.9 Trillion

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:29 am

As I suspected yesterday (“There’s also the possibility that the final statement will be issued late this afternoon in hopes of getting light weekend press coverage of the full-year deficit”), the Treasury Department released the government’s final Monthly Treasury Statement for the fiscal year ended September 30 late yesterday afternoon.

The $1.417 trillion deficit is slightly higher than that predicted by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) earlier this month.

CBO’s receipts estimate of $2.106 trillion was about $1.4 billion higher than actual. Its “outlays” estimate of $3.515 trillion was $6.7 billion too low. “Outlays” is in quotes because many disbursements the government makes, most notably those related to the Troubled Assets Relief Program, are treated as “investments,” and their Net Present Value (NPV) is excluded from “outlays,” even though by any sane reckoning the money involved in these “investments” has been “laid out.”

Though this move by Treasury conveniently serves to make what used to be mostly routine reporting on the deficit nearly indecipherable, we do know that when the conversion to NPV accounting took place, the government’s “outlays,” and therefore the reported deficit, went down by over $175 billion. There have been additional TARP “investments” made in General Motors and Chrysler since then. It’s pretty obvious that the reported deficit if computed handling TARP on a cash basis would be much higher than the officially reported $1.417 trillion. Based on the detail in Trea

Because of the march to indecipherability, reporting the changes in the national debt (which one would expect to be the sum of accumulated reported deficits but isn’t, as you’ll see) is going to become a habit around here.

Thus, based on the final Treasury Statement’s release, the following slightly revises what I noted yesterday.

Using the TreasuryDirect tool found here, after the close of business on September 30, 2009, the national debt was $11,903,588,660,952.03.

On September 30, 2008, the national debt was $10,024,724,896,912.49.

The comprehensive (i.e., actual) deficit for the entire government of the United States of America during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2009 was therefore $1,878,863,764,039 — and 54 cents.

The difference between the reported deficit and the comprehensive deficit is “the hidden deficit,” or (this is probably the term I’ll stick with) the “unreported deficit.” The past fiscal year’s unreported deficit was $471 billion ($1.878 trillion minus $1.417 trillion).

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1 Comment

  1. Of that $1.9 trillion increase in national debt, $366,598,000,000 ($366.6 billion) was financed directly by the Fed via the printing of money according to their balance sheet. That’s about 19% of it. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that this is an extremely low estimate. So what does that say about the availability of investment capital?

    http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h41/current/

    Comment by dscott — October 18, 2009 @ 10:33 am

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