Foreign Ownership of US Debt Was Just Over $1 Trillion 10 Years Ago
The US Treasury reported earlier this week that foreign ownership of US debt increased to $5.156 trillion in April, setting yet another record in the process.
According to the US Treasury, approximately 32.8% of the $15.73 trillion that the United States currently owes (including money that it owes to itself in the form of intergovernmental holdings) is held by foreign owners.
Excluding intergovernmental holdings, foreign ownership of the remaining debt (public debt) currently sits at around 47%.
Here are the top 10 foreign holders of US debt as of April 2012:
China, $1.145 trillion
Japan, $1.066 trillion
Oil Exporters, $252.4 billion
Carib Bnkng Ctrs, $247.0 billion
Brazil, $246.7 billion
All Other, $209.8 billion
Taiwan, $188.3 billion
United Kingdom, $154.2 billion
Switzerland, $151.1 billion
Russia, $146.8 billion
Now - how do these numbers compare to April of 2002? Let's take a look.
According to the Treasury Department, foreign ownership of US debt was sitting at $1.042 trillion as of April 2002. It's interesting to note that just a decade later, two countries (China and Japan) own more than $1.042 trillion of US debt.
On April 30th, 2002, the US government owed roughly $5.984 trillion. Of this total, $3.4 trillion was "public debt", while the rest was in the form of intergovernmental holdings (approximately $2.58 trillion or so).
So, as of April 2002, foreign ownership of the total US debt was 17.4%, and foreign ownership of the country's "public debt" was 30.6%.
These are obviously substantially lower from the 32.8% and 47% numbers that were posted in April of 2012. The country has relied heavily on foreign buyers to fund its deficit spending over the past 5 years or so.
Let's take a look at the top 10 foreign holders of US debt as of April 2002:
Japan - $314.6 billion
China - $82.4 billion
United Kingdom - $64.7 billion
Germany - $45.9 billion
Oil Exporters - $44.6 billion
Hong Kong - $43.5 billion
South Korea - $34.7 billion
Taiwan - $31.9 billion
Carib Banking Centers - $23.7 billion
Mexico - $22.3 billion
Source: Treasury.gov - Historical Foreign Ownership of US Debt
Source: TreasuryDirect.gov - The Daily History of the Debt Results
Filed under: General Knowledge
2 COMMENTS - What Say You?
Comment by Thom on July 02, 2012 @ 5:04 am
And what do foreign countries owe the US, outside of normal trade? Guess it to be small?....are all war debts paid? When we provide aid, is it gratis?
Comment by Concerned American on October 08, 2012 @ 1:51 am
This is troubling, it seems like our sovereignty is at risk
I know that we Americans are the largest holders of US debt but it's disturbing that the percentage of foreigners owning our debt has risen over the years.
Better start learning a foreign language, preferably Mandarin Chinese. It will definitely look good on your resume
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