Which Countries Own The Most US Debt?

I think that most people already know that China and Japan are the two foreign governments that own the largest amounts of US debt, as we are constantly bombarded via the media with these facts.

Who are some of the other major foreign holders of US debt? Some of the countries (or groups of countries) with sizable holdings of US Treasury securities may surprise you.

Let's start at the top and work our way down:

1. China - $895.6 billion. China has pared down the size of their holdings slightly since November of 2009 ($929.0 billion), despite the fact that a number of other countries have substantially added to their positions. China has publicly expressed their concerns over the deficit situation in the United States and the current plight of the US dollar.

2. Japan - $877.2 billion. Japan has added substantially to their US Treasury holdings over the past year, and may pass China in the coming months if current trends continue.

3. United Kingdom - $511.8 billion. The United Kingdom has more than tripled their holdings of US Treasuries over the past year (November 2009, $155.5 billion) to become the third largest holder of US Treasury securities.

4. Oil Exporters - $210.4 billion. This includes countries such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Libya and Nigeria.

5. Brazil - $184.4 billion. Brazil is on the rise, and so are their holdings of US Treasury securities.

6. Caribbean Banking Centers - $146.3 billion. This includes countries such as Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

7. Hong Kong - $138.9 billion. Hong Kong, like China, has reduced their holdings slightly over the past year.

8. Canada - $134.7 billion. From $50.7 billion to $134.7 billion over just the past 12 months - Canada has quickly vaulted into the top 10.

9. Taiwan - $131.1 billion.

10. Russia - $122.5 billion. Russia has significantly reduced their holdings from $151.4 billion to $122.5 billion over the past 12 months.

11. Switzerland - $100.6 billion.

12. Luxembourg - $81.0 billion.

13. Thailand - $65.7 billion. Thailand has increased their holdings of US Treasury securities from $29.6 billion to $65.7 billion over the past 12 months.

14. Germany - $60.4 billion. There is nearly a $500 billion gap between the UK and Germany when it comes to US Treasury holdings.

15. Singapore - $59.4 billion.

16. Ireland - $42.6 billion.

17. South Korea - $41.5 billion.

18. India - $40.7 billion. Of the BRIC countries, India owns by far the smallest amount of US Treasury securities.

19. Egypt - $34.2 billion.

20. Mexico - $32.7 billion.

A few other countries that stand out to me are Israel ($20.5 billion) and Australia ($11.1 billion).

Foreign Holders if US Debt

By 2020, the United States is expected to have a total debt load of approximately $20 trillion (this number currently sits at a little over $14 trillion). All of the countries and groups of countries listed above will need to continue to substantially add to their current holdings if the US expects to continue to fund its deficit spending.

Source: Treasury.gov - Major Foreign Holders of Treasury Securities (Nov/2010)

Filed under: General Knowledge

Related Articles