Q:

What is the U.S. National Debt Clock?

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Quick Answer

The U.S. National Debt Clock is a running, real-time display that shows both the current gross national debt in the United States, as well as the total debt-per-citizen. Roughly the size of a billboard, the U.S. National Debt Clock is located on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, New York.

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Full Answer

The U.S. National Debt Clock was invented by Seymour Durst, a New York real estate mogul who wanted to make the rising national debt known to American citizens. Although the first clock was installed in 1989, Durst had conceptualized the idea as early as 1980; however, the technology for creating the actual clock did not exist at that time.

After Seymour Durst's death in 1995, his son, Douglas, gained responsibility of the original clock, which was still operational at the time. Douglas Durst explained to younger generations that the clock is a non-partisan display to keep citizens mindful of the ever-growing debt, in an effort to decrease the deficit for future generations. At the time, the debt was under $3 trillion.

When the gross national debt substantially fell from 2000 to 2002, the U.S. National Debt Clock was turned off. The display was draped with a red, white and blue cloth in a show of economic upturn. The original clock, though still operational, was taken down and replaced in 2004.

The debt clock ran out of digit spaces in 2008, when the gross national debt exceeded $10 trillion for the first time, leading to plans for a replacement clock with a longer digit display.

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