The Corner

Who Owns Our Debt?

We talk a lot about debt these days, so I thought it would be useful to make a chart breaking down U.S. debt held by the public, which amounts to $9.6 trillion in 2011. In 2000, foreign investors held roughly half as much debt as domestic investors; by the end of 2010, foreign investors were the largest category of debt holders, today holding nearly half of our public held debt. Contrary to what many people believe, the Chinese own roughly 25 percent of that — $1.1 trillion, or roughly 11 percent of our publicly held debt.

Then, of course, there’s the intragovernmental debt — $4.6 trillion that the federal government owes to other accounts such as the Social Security and Medicare trust funds . . .

Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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