U.S. government debt will nearly equal the size of the entire economy for first time since World War II, CBO finds

The amount of debt held by the U.S. government will roughly equal the size of the entire American economy, as the nation’s fiscal imbalance surges in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Wednesday.

By the end of 2020, the amount of debt owed by the U.S. will amount to 98 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, the highest level since the end of World War II, the CBO said. Total government debt will surpass the U.S. economy’s size next year, CBO said.

Fueling this rise is a big jump in the government’s annual budget deficit, which is projected to widen to $3.3 trillion by the end of this fiscal year, more than tripling since 2019. The deficit was already on track to be very elevated because of recent tax cuts and spending increases, but the government’s response to the pandemic changed things markedly.