The Monday Moneybeat


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER, HOST: The national debt has reached a dubious new milestone. For the first time ever, the total accumulated federal debt has topped $22 trillion. To give you a sense of the size, it’s more than what the U.S. economy produces in a year.

So it’s the biggest in real dollars, but also relative to Gross Domestic Product, it’s the biggest national debt since World War II. Back in 1946, the debt-to-GDP ratio was almost 120 percent.

It came down to the low 30-percent range in the 1970s and 80s, but it’s been on a steady climb ever since. It spiked up during President Obama’s term, reaching as high as 104 percent.

But under President Trump, federal debt has continued to outrun overall economic growth. Today the debt stands at 107 percent of GDP.

REICHARD: The Congressional Budget Office projects this year’s federal budget deficit to approach $900 billion for Fiscal Year 2019.

So far, tax revenues have increased slightly. The 2017 tax-rate cuts, combined with stronger economic growth, produced a very slight total revenue increase of two-tenths of a percent.

But federal spending has soared almost 10 percent year over year.

EICHER: Two economic reports released last week had some mixed news: The Federal Reserve reported U.S. industrial production is up 3.8 percent year over year. But that same January number marked a decline versus December of six-tenths of a percent. It’s a sign that 2019 economic growth may not be as robust as 2018.

Also, the Commerce Department is busy crunching numbers it couldn’t get to during the government shutdown. Government economists reported retail sales for December: year over year, sales were up 2.3 percent with a total 5 percent rise for all of 2018. But the worry there is that the December sales figure represented a decline of 1.2 percent versus November.

Private sector economists cast doubt on the Commerce Department figures. The National Retail Federation said the government shutdown and the resulting delay in collecting the data may have made the results less accurate.

REICHARD: Two days of trade talks wrapped up Friday in Beijing. China’s government said its representatives will meet in Washington this week for more negotiations aimed at ending the trade war.

A March 2nd deadline hangs over both sides. After that, absent a deal, the United States is set to impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods. That would escalate a trade dispute that has already raised costs that companies have passed on to consumers.

But President Trump held out the possibility he’d extend that deadline if it seemed the two sides are close to a deal.

EICHER: That news drove a rally on Wall Street, with all the major stock indexes posting gains for the week, each with double-digit percentage gains on the year so far.

And that’s this week’s Monday Moneybeat.


(AP Photo/Richard Drew) Specialists Mario Picone, left, and Glenn Carrell work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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