Who’s Most Indebted? Banks, Not Consumers

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At the end of 2008, according to the Federal Reserve Board, total debt in the financial sector came to $17.2 trillion, or 121 percent of the size of the gross domestic product of the United States. That was $1 trillion more than a year earlier, when the total came to 115 percent of G.D.P.

Half a century earlier, the financial sector debt was $21 billion, which came to just 6 percent of G.D.P.

Household debt, by contrast, stood at $13.8 trillion at the end of both 2007 and 2008, allowing the debt as a proportion of G.D.P. to fall to 97 percent from 98 percent.

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