The True Story of America’s Debt

Here’s the big idea:

Most people believe that China, and to a lesser extent Japan, own most of America’s $14.3 trillion in government debt.

But it’s just not entirely true. While the Chinese, Japanese, and plenty of other foreigners own substantial amounts, it’s really Americans who hold most of America’s debt.

Here’s a quick and shocking breakdown by total amount held and percentage of total U.S. debt, according to Business Insider:

Social Security trust fund: $2.67 trillion (19 percent)
The U.S. Treasury: $1.63 trillion (11.3 percent)
China: $1.16 trillion (8 percent)
U.S. households: $959.4 billion (6.6 percent)
Japan: $912.4 billion (6.4 percent)
State and local governments: $506.1 billion (3.5 percent)
Private pension funds: $504.7 billion (3.5 percent)
United Kingdom: $346.5 billion (2.4 percent)
Money market mutual funds: $337.7 billion (2.4 percent)
State, local and federal retirement funds: $320.9 billion (2.2 percent)
Commercial banks: $301.8 billion (2.1 percent)
Mutual funds: $300.5 billion (2 percent)
Oil exporting countries: $229.8 billion (1.6 percent)
Brazil: $211.4 billion (1.5 percent)
Taiwan: $153.4 billion (1.1 percent)
Caribbean banking centers: $148.3 (1 percent)
Hong Kong: $121.9 billion (0.9 percent)

So America owes foreigners about $4.5 trillion in debt. But America owes America $9.8 trillion.

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