Government debt rose 59% in the second quarter amid efforts to stem the virus

The U.S. Capitol is located in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

Stephanie Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Government and business debt rose in the second quarter as the United States dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, even as personal net worth rose and consumer credit fell at a record low.

A Federal Reserve report released on Monday showed that the total balance sheet of households in the United States rose to nearly $ 119 trillion in the April-June period, up 6.8% from the first quarter.

Gains in net worth were driven almost exclusively by the stock market.

Thanks in large part to the unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, the S&P 500 rose 20% during the quarter. This in turn led to a $ 5.7 trillion increase in net worth, or 75% of the total increase. The real estate contributed $ 500 million.

As financial assets have risen, debt has gone nowhere, at least at the household level.

In fact, consumer credit declined at a record pace after WWII of 6.6% thanks in large part to a drop in credit card balances to $ 953.8 billion from $ 1.02 trillion. Student loan debt was unchanged at $ 1.68 trillion, while auto loans rose to $ 1.2 trillion.

This came as the federal government and companies continued to escalate debt. In all, the total non-financial domestic debt reached $ 59.3 trillion.

Federal government debt has exploded at a pace of 58.9% as Congress passed the CARES Act to support an economy that went into lockdown at the end of the first quarter to combat the spread of Covid-19.

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Nonfinancial trade debt rose 14%, which is actually less than the 18.4% rise in the first quarter but still significantly higher than any pre-epidemic level going back to at least 1980. Government government debt rose 3.5%, its fastest level since 2009.

The data comes from the Federal Reserve’s Quarterly Financial Accounts Survey, formerly known as Money Stream.

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