The project organizes historical information to develop inferences with respect to the composition of debt accumulation in the United States (US). Archival data regarding debts issued to local, state and national governments in addition to private actors, such as firms and households, will be collected to construct an understanding of transitive debt accumulation, in the context of institutional change. The research is designed to be completed in four phases. Each phase is guided by one of the following research questions. 1) How has the composition of total system debt in the US changed over the past one hundred years? 2) Are there recognizable changes in institutions associated with these trends? 3) Does the distribution of total debt within an economic system, or what it is spent on, have measurable effects? And; 4) What kind of risks are invited by rapid private sector non-financial credit growth?
Preliminary observations reveal rapidly increasing consumer debt in contrast to a more gradually increasing public debt. Initial secondary research finds limited literature on the total composition of private and public debt in an economic system, or whether there are measurable effects regarding observable constellations. A historical survey investigating the changing nature of debt could provide insight into upcoming challenges. It could also reveal the effects of institutional change on the use of public debt at federal, state and local levels, as well as how these uses have affected the overall system with respect to investment, consumption and other key economic indicators.