This always comes up, so let’s do it again.
Inevitably if you try comparing the US debt situation to Japan’s (its low yields, the impact of debt ratings), someone will say: Well, yeah, but all of Japan’s debt is owned by Japan, whereas the US is it all to the Chinese!
Still by far the vast majority of US debt is owned domestically, with about 30% being owed abroad.
Now you may look at the chart, and say: see, but it keeps rising, we’re getting more dependent on outsiders! That’s not the case. All that reflects is the long upward trend of the US trade deficit, and foreigners needing to recycles their USD into some big liquid asset.
Total Holdings of US Treasuries: $148.3 billion
per cent of US Debt that they own: 1%
The Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles and Panama, and British Virgin Islands all function as offshore financial centres. Of course, they invest in Treasury Securities as well.
Source: US Treasury
Total holdings of Treasuries: $229.8 billion
per cent of US Debt that they own: 1.6%
Oil exporters include Ecuador, Venezuela, Indonesia, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Gabon, Libya, and Nigeria.
Source: US Treasury
Total Holdings of US Treasuries: $959.4 billion
per cent of US Debt that they own: 6.6%
The 'Household Sector' does include hedge funds, by the way.
Source: Federal Reserve Flow of Funds Accounts Note: Latest Statistics are as of March 2011
Total Holdings of US Treasuries: $2.67 trillion
per cent of US Debt that they own: 19%
The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Funds invest exclusively in special issue bonds that are only available to the Social Security trust fund. These are not publicly traded securities, but they still constitute a huge amount of debt.
Source: Social Security Administration
But Americans own most of their own country's $14,342,909,569,328.74 of debt.