What is the total size of outstanding debt in the US, both consumer and commercial (but non-government)?

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What is the total size of outstanding debt in the US, both consumer and commercial (but non-government)?

In the United States, the current amount of outstanding debt is $18.53 trillion, when factoring consumer-owned and corproate-owned debt alone (i.e. non-government debt). Of this, $10.25 trillion is securitizied, and $8.28 trillion is non-securitized. Of the total debt, consumers make up $12.35 trillion, while corporate debt equates to $5.8 trillion. In order to locate these findings, we researched information from trusted media sites such as CNBC and the New York Times, along with reputable financial research firms, such as S&P Global and SIFMA. Below, you will find a deep dive of our findings.

consumer debt in the u.s.

According to a report published by CNBC, as of 2016, total outstanding consumer debt in the U.S. was valued at $12.35 trillion. In 2017, the New York Times reported the debt to be $12.73 trillion. This includes all forms of consumer debt, including but not limited to mortgages, student loans, credit cards, and auto loans. Student loans make up 10.6% of this debt.

According to the New York Times, the $12.73 trillion in consumer debt is a new peak in consumer debt, as this amount is slightly higher than the original debt peak which was reached "in the third quarter of 2008." This level of debt shows that consumers have repaired their damaged credit since 2008, and therefore consumers and lenders are experiencing a phase of optimism in regard to borrowing and lending money.

However, this level of debt is not necessarily a good thing, according to Heather Boushey, who is the "executive director and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth." According to Boushey, while rising debt does signal optimism, the reality is that "families are using debt as a mechanism to pay for things their incomes don’t support."

Additionally, there is a rising concern that increasing student loan debt could prompt a "new wave of defaults, much like the one that accompanied the mortgage meltdown" in 2008.

corporate debt in the u.s.

According to financial research firm, S&P Global, outstanding corporate debt is worth $5.8 trillion as of 2017. A lot of this debt has been attributed to corporations issuing bonds and debt due the fact that they cannot touch their overseas cash, according to BoA Merrill Lynch.

The new GOP Tax Bill "lowers the federal corporate tax rate to 21% from 35% and allows a one-time repatriation of overseas cash," which will allow corporations to bring their overseas cash back into the United States. This new bill signals that total corporate debt may soon be reduced, as a recent survey of 302 U.S. companies conducted by BoA Merrill Lynch reveals that 65% of companies intend to "use at least some of the repatriated cash to pay down debt."

Goldman Sachs has estimated that there is approximately $920 billion in cash overseas (untaxed) owned by S&P 500 companies, while Citigroup reports that this number is $2.5 trillion for U.S. companies overall.

securitized vs. unsecuritized debt in the u.s.

Outstanding consumer debt in the U.S. is valued at $12.73 trillion, and $5.8 trillion for corporations. Added together, this equates to total outstanding debt of $18.53 trillion.

In 2016, SIFMA reported the amount of outstanding securitized debt in the U.S. to be $10.25 trillion. Given this, we subtracted $10.25 trillion from $18.53 trillion to arrive at a figure of $8.28 trillion in total non-securitized debt.

After exhaustive research, we did not locate any readily available data which showcases a further breakdown of securitized and non-securitized debt individually for consumer debt vs. corporate debt.


In closing, outstanding consumer debt in the U.S. is currently valued at $12.35, while outstanding corporate debt is valued at $5.8 trillion. This equates to $18.53 trillion in total outstanding debt (minus government debt). According to SIFMA, there is currently $10.25 trillion debt which is securitized, leaving $8.28 trillion in non-securitized debt.

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