Econ Myth Busting: Sorry John Carney, The U.S. Is Not A Default Virgin

I’m a big fan of American Public Media’s Marketplace radio show, but Friday’s show featured CNBC’s John Carney and Fortune’s Leigh Gallagher discussing the U.S. debt situation.

Both John and Leigh stated the oft-repeated myth that the U.S. has *never* defaulted.

If only that were true.

Below is a summary from Carmen Reinhart’s and Ken Rogoff’s research in their superb book This Time is Different.


As you can see from their research not only has the U.S. defaulted, but the U.S. has defaulted or ‘restructured’ (a partial-default) at least once every century since the founding of the republic. Details on each episode can be found in the book and atCarmen’s website.

As Reinhart and Rogoff put it, the U.S. is definitely not a “default virgin.”