Mar 07

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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.

About the author

Anand Khemlani

I am a founding member of Fulcrum Inquiry, an accounting and economic consulting firm that performs damage analysis for commercial litigation, forensic accountings, financial investigations, and business valuations. I am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and am a licensed Real Estate Broker. I regularly serve as an expert witness involving results of my forensic accounting assignments and damage analyses. My resume is available on Fulcrum's website

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