The Federal Debt/Income Ratio
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Think of Country X as a simplified version of the U.S. and Country Y as a simplified version of a European country with a higher debt/GDP ratio but a much smaller state and local sector. My point here is that debt/GDP, which shows country Y in much worse shape than country X, may not be the right way to compare the two countries. Instead, if you think in terms of debt/income ratio at the Federal level, they are in the same position.
My point is that the fiscal adjustments in the U.S. needed to get the Federal debt down relative to GDP might be much larger relative to the current Federal budget than is the case in Europe. I hope that point is not lost in the various ways in which the example diverges from reality.