Josh Herbstman: A Visual History Of The US National Debt

Josh Herbstman: A Visual History Of The US National Debt
By Chandres (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Josh Herbstman: A Visual History Of The US National Debt

The US national debt stands at some $18.5 trillion, increasing by over $1.5 billion per day. America owes more money than any other nation in the world and has more debt than any other nation in history. The Treasury securities that comprise the national debt are foundational to both national and global finance. The world functions on US treasuries. Yet, for most Americans, the national debt is an ethereal number. It’s a rhetorical football used by politicians. It’s a big number on a billboard in New York City. It’s a national credit card that many doubt will ever be paid down, let alone paid off.

But America’s debt has a long, storied history. From the Revolutionary War to the beginning of the Reagan administration, this presentation will be a visual journey of the debt that has shaped the world’s most powerful economy.

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About the Speaker

Josh Herbstman is a portfolio manager specializing in municipal bonds. He holds an MA in history from Georgia State University. He also manages The Joe I. Herbstman Memorial Collection of American Finance ™, dedicated to preserving and teaching the visual history of the U.S. national debt. The collection can be viewed at

About the Museum

The Museum of American Finance is the nation’s only independent museum dedicated to preserving, exhibiting and teaching about American finance and financial history. Housed in an historic bank building on Wall Street, the Museum’s magnificent grand mezzanine banking hall provides an ideal setting for permanent exhibits on the financial markets, money, banking, entrepreneurship and Alexander Hamilton.

The Museum is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) Smithsonian affiliate creating non-ideological presentations and programs for purposes of education and general public awareness. Financial education is at the core of the Museum’s mission, seeking to promote lifelong learning and inquiry.

As a chronicler of American financial achievement and development, the Museum seeks to play a special role as a guardian of America’s collective financial memory, as well as a presenter and interpreter of current financial issues, thereby connecting the past with the present while serving as a guide for the future.

Josh Herbstman Pt 1: A Visual History of the US National Debt

Joshua Herbstman Pt 2: Early Years of the National Debt

Joshua Herbstman Pt 3: The Civil War and Beyond

Joshua Herbstman Pt 4: Liberty and Victory Loans

Josh Herbstman Pt 5: Rare 20th Century Bonds

Josh Herbstman Pt 6: The Backbone of Our Nation’s Finances

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