The below infographic gives an interesting visual of the amount of debt held by Americans, including the U.S. federal government’s debt. Though the numbers used in this graphic are the official government numbers – the real national debt is many times more than this.
Nevertheless it is interesting that under the payoff rates section the pay off time for the federal debt is “unknown” since the debt is growing faster than it is being paid off. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that it will never be paid off – there will be a Great Default, in which the people who were stupid enough to loan money to the U.S. federal government will be left holding the bag.
And if they are paid back at all it will be in seriously depreciated dollars, as the Federal Reserve’s money creation seems to have no bounds. Of course a hard default would be better (and more honest) than default by inflation since it would be far less likely that anyone would lend money to the U.S. government for quite a long time.