Thursday, January 29, 2009

Which Foreign Countries Own the US Debt?

pie chart of debt
After a dinner conversation, I was interested to know exactly which countries own the US foreign debt. I went the the treasury's website and created the above chart. China is now the largest [foreign] owner of US debt with 682 billion, followed closely by Japan with 577 and the United Kingdom good for 360 billion. Interesting that Japan owns almost as much as China, but we hear so little about Japan.
The total US Debt in November of 2008 was about 10.6 Trillion, so the foreign ownership is 28%. Is this a good thing?


Eric said...

You state that China is the largest owner of US debt with $682 billion. But, by your own figures, the US holds $7.6 trillion in US debt. That makes China the *second* largest owner of US debt holding less than 10% of the largest owner's share and roughly 6% overall.

Mitch Fincher said...

Thanks Eric! I have updated the post making it clear that China is the largest foreign owner.

Charles said...

China's ownership of U.S. federal debt is not a good thing. It has increased by 500% since 2001 and has almost doubled since Feb 6, 2007 when Congressman John Tanner issued a press release with these U.S. Treasury figures, (posted at

The largest foreign owners of U.S. federal debt is Japan ($637 billion), China ($346 billion), United Kingdom ($223 billion), OPEC nations($98 billion) and South Korea ($68 billion).

Should foreign banks suddenly stop buying Treasury securities or start selling them heavily, the U.S. would be exposed to great financial, politial and national security risks.