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US budget deficit hits record high for November on interest costs

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US budget deficit hits record high for November on interest costs
Reuters
Reuters
December 12, 2023

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. federal budget deficit jumped 26% in November from a year earlier to $314 billion, a record for the month and the highest since March, the Treasury Department said on Tuesday, driven by sharply higher interest costs and other outlays.

Economists polled by Reuters had estimated the deficit for the second month of the fiscal year would come in at $301.05 billion.

Federal revenues in November rose $23 billion to $275 billion, a 9% increase from a year earlier.

Outlays jumped $88 billion to $589 billion, 18% higher than a year earlier. Interest payments on U.S. government debt accounted for $25 billion of the increase.

Debt service costs have surged since March 2022 when the Federal Reserve began raising borrowing costs sharply to rein in inflation, driving up the benchmark overnight interest rate by 5.25 percentage points.

The outlay for interest on the debt in November, at $80 billion, surpassed the $66 billion outlay for national defense, which was up $8 billion from a year earlier. The outlay for the government-run Medicare health insurance program also rose by $8 billion, to $93 billion, while the outlay for the government-run Medicaid program for the poor and disabled climbed $2 billion to $50 billion.

The biggest outlay was the $122 billion for monthly Social Security payments.

The weighted average interest rate on the $26 trillion of outstanding Treasury securities rose to 3.10% last month from 2.22% in November of last year.

The Treasury's year-to-date deficit for fiscal 2024 grew by 13% to $381 billion, versus $336 billion in the comparable period a year earlier.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Paul Simao)

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