US public debt hit a record high of $23.2 trillion in December

America's national debt is almost three times higher than China’s, new US Treasury data shows

FILE- This Sept. 6, 2017, file photo shows a tip jar with one dollar and five dollar bills and a penny in New York. The past week’s stomach-churning stock market losses and violent bouts of volatility was ignited by a sudden and contagious fear of surging inflation and higher interest rates. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Public debt in the US hit a record high of $23.2 trillion (Dh85.2tn) in December, up 6 per cent, compared to the same period in 2018. It was driven by higher spending on social security and Medicare, among other things, a report from London financial website found.

Public debt is the amount a country owes to lenders including individuals, banks, businesses, and even other governments, usually via the issue of sovereign bonds. Social security, Medicare and Medicaid account for 47 per cent of all federal spending in the US budget.

"Based on the current growth rates, it is projected that the debt might reach $28.7tn by 2029. Notably, this figure does not entail the amount the government owed to itself. Currently, the latest debt figures mean that every US citizen owes approximately $70,139 while the US debt per taxpayer is $187,388," said in an article, citing data compiled from the US Treasury and other sources.

The data also showed US national debt is almost three times higher than China’s, which has $8.3tn. Globally, Japan has the second-highest national debt at $11.3tn after the US, while the United Kingdom occupies the fourth slot at $3.3tn.

The International Monetary Fund said global debt stood at $188tn by the end of 2018, a $3tn increase on 2017.

High public debt in the US could impact economic stability globally, with ramifications for the strength of the currency in trade, economic growth and unemployment, the article said. also said US mortgage debt, which has been growing steadily in recent years, hit a record high of $15.8tn in the third quarter of 2019 – the highest since the global financial crisis in 2008.

“The mortgage is among the largest component of household debt across the United States. However, mortgage rates have been low since the last quarter of 2018. The Federal Reserve Bank resorted to lowering the rates in the wake of trade uncertainty which affected the global economic growth,” it said.