What is the difference between the national debt and the national deficit?

I’m thinking the national debt is tied into the global economy, the value of the dollar, imports and exports. The deficit is the amount the government spends vs. the amount it collects in tax. Am I right?

National debt is the sum of all the national deficits every year I do believe!

*As well as the interest on it.

sibyl is correct. What you’re thinking about is the trade deficit, also called the merchandise deficit, which in turn is part of the balance of payments.

From the Treasury Dept (I think) FAQ:

IOW, the deficit is the difference in revenues and expenditures in a specific year, whereas the debt is the net of all past deficits and surpluses.

Try Here.

I thought the deficit referred to current expenses versus receipts, and that the debt referred to the government’s borrowing, i.e., the sale of bonds, T bills, and the like.

Fun fact: The “official” National Debt of the US crossed 7 trillion dollars this past weekend. (What a way to honor our great presidents.) That’s a 1 trillion dollar deficit increase in about a year and a half. (And growing at an even faster rate.) For a comparison of scale, the GDP last year is est. around 11 trillion dollars. For my little family, our share is around $100,000. And that’s not even counting various other debts the feds hide away for various excuses.

This is true. However, if you don’t have enough cash to cover your expenses, you have to borrow it from somewhere. So the government borrows it by issuing (not selling, exactly) bonds, etc. When you “buy” a bond you are lending the government money and at maturity you get it back with interest.

That’s why the national debt can be so insidious. I don’t know the figure but the amount of money needed just to pay the interest (“service the debt”) is enormous. My 1978 economics prof made the argument that it doesn’t matter because the government is just paying interest to its own citizens and therefore putting money back into the domestic economy (controversial claim–it is a redistribution of wealth since not everyone can afford to invest in bonds). But now there are so many foreign investors that’s no longer true.

Trivia: Only once in U.S. history was there no national debt, for a few years during the 1830s, when the federal government was conducting massive western land sales.