The chart shows who holds the $US16.8 trillion of U.S. federal debt that is currently outstanding.
In other words, the chart shows who the U.S. government owes all that money to:
- We owe most of the money to ourselves.
- We owe a big chunk of the money — about $US6 trillion — to the Federal government. So if there ever were a default (hopefully there won’t be) the government would also be stiffing itself.
- We owe about $US5 trillion to other countries, including China.
- The total debt to China is only $US1.3 trillion. So we’re not in hock to China as much as some people think we are.
- Yes, it’s a boatload of debt. But the experience of Japan, the U.S. after World War 2, and other countries, suggests that it’s a manageable amount, as long as we eventually get our long-term entitlement spending under control.