U.S. deficit tops half a trillion {dollars} within the first quarter of fiscal yr

The US Treasury building in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023.

Nathan Howard | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The U.S. government ran up another half a trillion dollars in red ink in the first quarter of its fiscal year, the Treasury Department reported Thursday.

For the October through December 2023 period, the budget deficit totaled just shy of $510 billion, following a shortfall of $129.4 billion in just December alone. The jump in the deficit pushed total government debt past $34 trillion for the first time.

Compared to last year, which saw a final deficit of $1.7 trillion, 2024 is running even hotter.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2023, for example, the difference between spending and receipts totaled $421.4 billion. On an unadjusted basis that’s an increase of $89 billion between fiscal 2024 and last year; adjusted for calendar factors, the Treasury Department said the change between the two years is actually $97 billion. December’s shortfall was higher by more than $34 billion compared to the previous year.

If the current pace continues, 2024 would end with a deficit of just over $2 trillion.

The deficit has continued to pile up despite the Biden administration’s assurances that the Inflation Reduction Act, in addition to reducing prices, would shave “hundreds of billions” off the deficit.

While the rate of inflation has come down, Labor Department data Thursday showed the consumer price index increased another 0.3% in December, pushing the 12-month rate up to 3.4%, higher than the Wall Street consensus and above the Federal Reserve’s 2% goal.

With interest rates elevated as the Fed fights inflation, financing costs for the government in 2023 totaled nearly $660 billion. Debt as a percentage of gross domestic product rose to 120% in the third quarter of 2023.

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