Presentation by Phillip Swagel, CBO’s Director, to the Forecasters Club of New York.
CBO estimates that the federal budget deficit in 2020 will be $1.0 trillion, or 4.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). It would increase to 5.4 percent of GDP in 2030 if current law did not change. In CBO’s projections, federal debt held by the public reaches $17.9 trillion at the end of 2020. That amount equals 81 percent of GDP—more than twice its average over the past 50 years. By 2030, debt is projected to reach $31.4 trillion, or 98 percent of GDP, a larger percentage than at any time since just after World War II. It would continue to grow after 2030, reaching 180 percent of GDP by 2050.
Inflation-adjusted GDP is projected to grow by 2.2 percent this year, largely because of continued strength in consumer spending and a rebound in business fixed investment. Output is projected to be higher than the economy’s maximum sustainable output in 2020 to a greater degree than it has been in recent years, leading to higher inflation and interest rates after a period in which both were low, on average. CBO projects that continued strength in the demand for labor will keep the unemployment rate low and drive employment and wages higher. Then over the coming decade, the economy is projected to expand at an average annual rate of 1.7 percent, roughly the same rate as its potential rate of growth.