Ever Wonder Who Owns the U.S.?

There has been a lot of attention focused on the United States’ national debt and related budget deficits.  In order to fund these deficits, the U.S. must borrow this money from its citizens as well as foreign investors.  Currently, the national debt is approximately $14 trillion dollars.  Most of this debt, about $9.6 trillion, is held by private banks in the U.S..  According to the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board, as of the end of 2010, about $4.4 trillion of the debt was held by foreign governments.

The following is the breakdown of the top 10 foreign debt holders of U.S. debt:

Country/Area Amount 

(in Billions)

% of Total
Foreign Debt
% of Total
U.S. Debt
Mainland China $891.6 20.3% 6.4%
Japan $883.6 20.1% 6.3%
United Kingdom $541.3 12.3% 3.9%
Oil Exporters $218.0 5.0% 1.6%
Brazil $180.8 4.1% 1.3%
Caribbean Banking Centers $155.6 3.5% 1.1%
Hong Kong 138.2 3.1% 1.0%
Canada 134.6 3.1% 1.0%
Taiwan 131.9 3.0% 0.9%
Russia 106.2 2.4% 0.8%


The above countries/areas purchase U.S. treasury securities, much like investors buy bonds issued by various corporations.   As the U.S. budget deficits continue, one must ask how much credit U.S. citizen’s and foreign investors are willing to provide.

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