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Which Countries Are Going in the Right Direction?

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With so much polarization on key issues, it’s tough to get a pulse on where the world is heading.

But if you ditch the complexity and nuance surrounding current events, we can get a good gauge by asking a simple and direct question to people: are things going in the right direction?

Today’s data comes from the What Worries the World Report by Ipsos Public Affairs. It sums up responses from 18,110 people in 25 different countries on whether things are going in the “right direction” or “wrong direction” in their particular country.

The Right or Wrong Direction?

First of all, here is the official question posed by Ipsos – and the results sorted by country:

Generally speaking, would you say things in this country are heading in the right direction, or are they off on the wrong track?

Country going in right or wrong direction?

On a global basis, 37% of people think their countries are heading in the “right direction”, though that varies for each individual country.

Respondents from China and Saudi Arabia are the most enthusiastic, with 90% and 80% of people respectively answering that things are on the right track. That said, it would be interesting to look at Ipsos’ methodology here to see how they are ensuring valid responses from people under the rule of more autocratic regimes.

The United States and Canada were in the middle of the pack. Only 35% Americans see things as being on the right track, while 54% of Canadians feel the same way.

Generally speaking, Europeans, Mexicans, Brazilians, and South Koreans are the most pessimistic about future prospects.

Hot Button Issues

What issues have got people feeling this way?

Respondents were asked to select their top three worries from a set of 17 options:

Biggest worries by issue

The two biggest global worries are both economic in nature: “Unemployment” and “Poverty & Social Inequality” were selected by 38% and 34% of people respectively.

Issues such as “Terrorism”, “Rise of Extremism” or “Immigration Control” are surprisingly in the middle of the pack, though it is worth keeping in mind that the above data is at a global level. These issues would likely rank higher in Western countries than in places like China, Russia, or India.

Trending Up or Down

With only 37% of global respondents seeing their country being “on track”, does that rank higher or lower than in previous surveys?

Right track over time

Interestingly, it is basically par for the course.

Since 2010, the results have basically trended sideways, with the percentage of people for “on track” never cracking 40% on a global level.

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U.S. Debt Interest Payments Reach $1 Trillion

U.S. debt interest payments have surged past the $1 trillion dollar mark, amid high interest rates and an ever-expanding debt burden.

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This line chart shows U.S. debt interest payments over modern history.

U.S. Debt Interest Payments Reach $1 Trillion

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

The cost of paying for America’s national debt crossed the $1 trillion dollar mark in 2023, driven by high interest rates and a record $34 trillion mountain of debt.

Over the last decade, U.S. debt interest payments have more than doubled amid vast government spending during the pandemic crisis. As debt payments continue to soar, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that debt servicing costs surpassed defense spending for the first time ever this year.

This graphic shows the sharp rise in U.S. debt payments, based on data from the Federal Reserve.

A $1 Trillion Interest Bill, and Growing

Below, we show how U.S. debt interest payments have risen at a faster pace than at another time in modern history:

DateInterest PaymentsU.S. National Debt
2023$1.0T$34.0T
2022$830B$31.4T
2021$612B$29.6T
2020$518B$27.7T
2019$564B$23.2T
2018$571B$22.0T
2017$493B$20.5T
2016$460B$20.0T
2015$435B$18.9T
2014$442B$18.1T
2013$425B$17.2T
2012$417B$16.4T
2011$433B$15.2T
2010$400B$14.0T
2009$354B$12.3T
2008$380B$10.7T
2007$414B$9.2T
2006$387B$8.7T
2005$355B$8.2T
2004$318B$7.6T
2003$294B$7.0T
2002$298B$6.4T
2001$318B$5.9T
2000$353B$5.7T
1999$353B$5.8T
1998$360B$5.6T
1997$368B$5.5T
1996$362B$5.3T
1995$357B$5.0T
1994$334B$4.8T
1993$311B$4.5T
1992$306B$4.2T
1991$308B$3.8T
1990$298B$3.4T
1989$275B$3.0T
1988$254B$2.7T
1987$240B$2.4T
1986$225B$2.2T
1985$219B$1.9T
1984$205B$1.7T
1983$176B$1.4T
1982$157B$1.2T
1981$142B$1.0T
1980$113B$930.2B
1979$96B$845.1B
1978$84B$789.2B
1977$69B$718.9B
1976$61B$653.5B
1975$55B$576.6B
1974$50B$492.7B
1973$45B$469.1B
1972$39B$448.5B
1971$36B$424.1B
1970$35B$389.2B
1969$30B$368.2B
1968$25B$358.0B
1967$23B$344.7B
1966$21B$329.3B

Interest payments represent seasonally adjusted annual rate at the end of Q4.

At current rates, the U.S. national debt is growing by a remarkable $1 trillion about every 100 days, equal to roughly $3.6 trillion per year.

As the national debt has ballooned, debt payments even exceeded Medicaid outlays in 2023—one of the government’s largest expenditures. On average, the U.S. spent more than $2 billion per day on interest costs last year. Going further, the U.S. government is projected to spend a historic $12.4 trillion on interest payments over the next decade, averaging about $37,100 per American.

Exacerbating matters is that the U.S. is running a steep deficit, which stood at $1.1 trillion for the first six months of fiscal 2024. This has accelerated due to the 43% increase in debt servicing costs along with a $31 billion dollar increase in defense spending from a year earlier. Additionally, a $30 billion increase in funding for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in light of the regional banking crisis last year was a major contributor to the deficit increase.

Overall, the CBO forecasts that roughly 75% of the federal deficit’s increase will be due to interest costs by 2034.

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