National Debt Hits $34 Trillion, Raising Economic Fears

The US government’s debt has surpassed $34 trillion, marking a historic high just ahead of Congress’ deadlines to agree on new federal funding plans. The Treasury Department’s data reveals that the “total public debt outstanding” reached $34.001 trillion on December 29, reflecting the cumulative borrowing by the US federal government throughout its history. This milestone comes within three months of the national debt exceeding $33 trillion, fueled by a widening budget deficit. The escalating debt, a contentious issue between Republicans and Democrats, has triggered government shutdown threats and strained negotiations over federal budgets. Critics, including Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, express concerns about the economic and national security implications of the soaring debt. The Biden administration attributes the rise to Republican-backed policies benefiting big corporations and vows to address the deficit through measures like raising taxes on the wealthy and reducing spending on special interests. The looming deadlines for permanent department budgets in January and February, coupled with the growing debt burden, underscore the urgency of addressing fiscal challenges.

Source: CNN


How the Pandemic Ignited a New Era of Entrepreneurship

The Wall Street Journal reports a significant shift in the startup landscape, with small business formation nationwide outpacing Silicon Valley’s dominance as the primary hub for new ventures. Census Bureau data analysis reveals a remarkable surge in new business creation, with approximately 1.6 million businesses formed by November 2023, a 38% increase from the pandemic-hit 2020. Economist John Haltiwanger identifies a two-phase trajectory, starting in mid-2020 when remote work inspired many to explore entrepreneurship. Despite a brief dip, new business formation accelerated in 2021, approaching levels reminiscent of the 1990s. Contributing factors include evolving work routines, industry disruptions, and a heightened focus on work-life balance. Interestingly, the startup boom extends beyond traditional tech hubs, with significant growth in Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana, reflecting a broader trend of entrepreneurs favoring less expensive cities due to high living costs in coastal metropolitan areas. The persistence of the trend suggests a lasting economic shift catalyzed by the pandemic.

Source: Inc


U.S. Treasury Launches Beneficial Ownership Registry

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has initiated the acceptance of beneficial ownership information reports, as mandated by the bipartisan Corporate Transparency Act enacted in 2021 to combat illicit finance. The registry, aimed at enhancing economic and national security, requires companies operating in the United States to disclose details about the individuals who ultimately own or control them. Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen emphasized the registry’s significance in addressing issues such as money laundering, drug trafficking, terrorism, and corruption. Filing, which is secure and free, involves reporting companies submitting initial reports based on specific deadlines: existing companies by January 1, 2025, and newly created or registered companies within 90 days of their creation or registration in 2024. Beneficial ownership information reporting, not an annual requirement, entails providing details about each beneficial owner, including name, date of birth, address, and identification documents.

Source: US Treasury