Page last updated at 23:38 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

US budget deficit hits record $221bn

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The US deficit in 2008 stood at $459bn

The US government recorded a budget deficit of $221bn (£147.6bn) in February - the largest monthly deficit in its history.

The total deficit since the beginning of the fiscal year in October now stands at $651.6bn, the figures from the US treasury show.

That puts it on track to beat last year's record annual budget deficit of $1.4tn.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called the deficit "unsustainable".

However, he maintained that running the deficit was helping the US continue its recovery from the recession in the short-term.

Like the UK, the US is suffering from a fall in tax receipts due to tough economic conditions, while relying on increased spending to drive the recovery.

But analysts called the figures "frightening".

Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it expected the budget deficit to fall this year as the recovery takes hold.

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