Chart-financial

A reader writes:

Your series of charts on debt appears to be conflating consumer credit and private sector debt.  Private sector debt includes businesses as well as households.  Although much attention is paid to household and government debt, these are both smaller than the debt of the private financial sector, according to the Federal Reserve.  What is even more worrisome is the rate of growth in financial sector debt:  In 1958, financial sector debt was 6% of GDP.  Last year, it was 115% of GDP.  Compare this to total government debt, which is actually little changed as a percentage of GDP since 1958.  If you want to get a handle on what's going on with the financial crisis, an examination of the explosion of debt in our financial institutions would be a good place to start.

Larger image here.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.