Visualizing Who Holds U.S. Debt Internationally

Tyler Durden's picture

We recommend viewing the full-size version of today’s infographic by clicking here.

Everyone knows that the U.S. Federal Government has roughly $20 trillion of debt. A question we often get, however, is who exactly owns all these treasuries? And if it’s held abroad by countries like China, what portion do they hold?

Today’s infographic comes from TitleMax, and it looks at who owns U.S. debt internationally, as well as the debt from other countries that is held by the U.S.


Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist



Federal government debt in the United States can be broadly placed in two categories: “Debt held by the public” and “Intragovernmental debt”. The former category includes securities held by individual investors, corporations, local and state governments, the Federal Reserve, and foreign governments.

Meanwhile, intragovernmental debt includes securities held in accounts administered by other federal authorities. This category, for example, would include treasuries owed to the Social Security Trust Fund.

Here’s the tallies of these two categories as of December 2016:


“Debt held by the public” is the most interesting of these, and it can be further broken down:

*Note: Data for Fed is for marketable securities only. All data in this table from September 2016.

About 43% of all debt held by the public is actually owned by foreign governments, corporations, and individuals.


Here’s how that breaks down by country:

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Jus7tme's picture

So funny: The reason Ireland is on the list that are the corporate profits of US corporations that are nominally owned by Irish subsidiaries, but has long since been converted USD-denominated assets, of which 288B are USG securities.



This is it's picture

Only stupid countries hold US debt. Otherwise, they we're held at gun point to own it. 

harrybrown's picture

How the feck does murica owe israel money lolol

Now we know who's in control of the USSA

Took Red Pill's picture

And who holds all of Japan & China's debt? It's just a shell game. In the end you always lose.

philipat's picture

I don't see the ESF on the list anywhere??

SolidAssets's picture

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The Wizard's picture

Exactly, it's a perceptual shell game to get nations hooked onto fiat debt instruments called the dollar. It insures US hegemony. However, eventually enough nations will question why is it being accepted for value. The value is builit on an illusion rather than resources.

The Wizard's picture

Exactly, it's a perceptual shell game to get nations hooked onto fiat debt instruments called the dollar. It insures US hegemony. However, eventually enough nations will question why is it being accepted for value. The value is builit on an illusion rather than resources.

To insure nations continue to accept the petrodollar for value we will place hundreds of military bases around the world.

Eeyores Enigma's picture

Wiz - Thanks for adding that last part before I had to.

MFL5591's picture

Federal Reserve has no money, how do they hold debt?  

Buck Johnson's picture

Oh and also the Cayman Islands as a tax dodge.



LA_Goldbug's picture

I like how this sounds,

“Debt held by the public”

Man, I was parting like a Sheikh.

michelp's picture

How can the US government afford to be so cocky nationally  and internationally given these obligations?

Because we let them!

And what happens when it all comes crashing down?



Déjà view's picture

Lenders Dilemma & Reserve currency...

cheech_wizard's picture

I'm gonna pop a cap in someone's ass...


Sky flyer's picture

Divide debt held by the number of working nuclear warheads the US has to find the reason they keep taking it.

Obadiah's picture






Tiritmenhrta's picture

Cayman Islands owes 1,217.1 $, hmm that's interesting

HRClinton's picture

In that case, imagine how much we owe to our BFF, Israel. 

harrybrown's picture

Nah Israel owes its existance to murica... put a price on that,

oh wait... Israel own America... errrr

gouyou's picture

And that should give you a hint that the visualization is total BS.

They compare treasuries and foreign securities. Foreign securities could include anything (I would guess corporate debt). The Cayman Islands have roughly 650M in total debt, how could they owe 1,217,100M or over 1,850x their debt.

Panic Mode's picture

Christ, UK is in the other extreme. We are fucked.

. . . _ _ _ . . .'s picture

Europe should be happy about Brexit.

China is the problem. If they start calling debt in, or dumping, UK will be the first ones the US calls.

With Brexit, Europe doesn't have to shoulder as much of the load.

Maybe Cayman is a sort of plan B against China pulling the plug.

"As soon as we and China dump the dollar, it will be the end of the US’ military might," Sergey Glazyev said in an interview with TASS."

Multi's picture

Cayman Islands, 100% legit.

gouyou's picture

Treasuries vs. foreign securities: you compare government debt on the US side with an unknown mashup of stuff on the other side. The only reason the Cayman is so big, is that you are putting all the hedge funds in the numbers.

Debugas's picture

the veird one debt holder that stands out is Cayman Islands

Fireman's picture

The IOU petroscrip Saudi Mercan "reserve currency" blood-spattered dollah and the Ponzi scheme it facilitates are at breaking point and all the Trump games and "Fat Kid" in Pyongyang scare mongering is fooling nobody but the most retarded. When the illusion of USSAN "wealth" finally collapses the ensuing tsunami of toxic derivative filth will wash away the Pentacon "backed" Potemkin Village (idiot) "economy" of global terror and war which obliges USSAN vassals to continue using worthless Wall St notes.

"The veils are falling. Gradually. So-called allies of the empire are wary since long. Afraid of ‘sanctions’ or worse, of a possible take-over by the merciless killing machine, they have nodded and played along. But, as they see the implosion of the beast, they increasingly dare jumping ship.

Europe – be aware! The center of the next war might again be Europe. A dying beast knows no mercy. It rather destroys the universe and itself than leaving survivors behind. – Unless it’s poisonous and killing tentacles can be paralyzed – terminally, by economic isolation; by abandoning the dollar; by making this worthless currency irrelevant and obsolete. For good.

Europe – it’s not too late! Your economic future is in your autonomy; in an alliance of you, Europe, a coalition of sovereign nations, with the east – an alliance with the promising new Silk Road. Mr. Xi Jinping’s offer to Madame Merkel this past spring is still open. Neoliberal thinking is short-term thinking. Instant profit for instant debt."   Peter Koenig

Manipuflation's picture

What?  Your currency is someone else debt?  Oh OK.

Centerist's picture

You really like to ignore the fact that Europe participates as heavily as they can in our operations.  We don't just stomp around because it's fun.  We have objectives that we share with Europe.

And if you'll notice the debt diagram, the most economically powerful states owe the U.S. the most.  Their unfunded Socialism is no more tenable in the long term than ours, so they won't be developing any utopias soon.

illuminatus's picture

Dream on Fireman, when you say Europe, what is it exactly that you mean? The sovereign nation states are gone, captured by the same parasite that uses the big western trading houses and banking conglomerates and the US military. Merkel is very obviously a tool.

Manipuflation's picture


What are you even arguing about?

CHX13's picture

That's a lot of bag holders all over and looks like a Nixonian "temporarily" global fad to me.

JPMorgan's picture

Lots of ticking debt bombs out there, struggling day-to-day to keep the global ponzi up and running.


WTFUD's picture

When J.Pierpont Morgan died in 1913 ( in Rome by the way, haha or ahha ) he left an Estate of 'only' $80 million, causing J.D Rockefeller (died 1937) who was worth over $1 billion, at that time, to shake his head and say, 'And to think that he wasn't even a rich man'.

What was the question again?

JPMorgan's picture

To live a long, healthy and happy life is to truly die rich.


CHX13's picture

Hey, that's the line I tell my little girls all the time:


You're rich if your happy and healthy.

If you've got lots of money (preferrably of the shiny or yellow kind) you're wealthy.



logicalman's picture

Money doesn't buy you happiness, but at least you can be miserable in comfort.

Diplodicus Rex's picture

The UK is in the hole by $1.2T gross or $1T net to the US. How the fuck is that even possible? Has anyone looked at the size of the UK on that map? How can a country of only 70m be $1T in the hole?

Fuck the bankers.

harrybrown's picture

Has anyone looked at the size of the UK on that map

Fair point, im from UK, yeah we print the shit out of thin air too,
my equally BIG question is... how the fuck does ISRAEL control so much considering its size!

Back to the UK, the city of london is "1 square mile", thats where all the money/debt is

illuminatus's picture

Debt is the currency of slaves. Gives us an idea where we stand.

logicalman's picture

Dig around a bit regarding 'The Square Mile'.

You may find out some interesting stuff.

All is not what it seems.

WTFUD's picture

China's done well to get rid of 2/3rd's of US Debt in just a few years, if i'm reading this correctly.

harrybrown's picture

take a look at Russia's debt, its enough to buy a few bags of candy.... they must be laughing like fuck,
when this all goes south & they have the means to back anything they say....

Déjà view's picture

Yes & No...

Add H.K. $191B

How much has China bought through Cayman & others?

China is in a Lenders Dilemma...

ds's picture

43% of all debts are owned by foreign govts, corporations and individuals. This mean that USA is already a global habitat belonging to eveyone. Good news is that plenty of vested interests to keep the hegemonies functiioning to enusre no debt write-offs. An easy task in the G Zero world where you will not get co-ordinated effort to screw a global habitat where all have stakes. Bad news is for the economic immigrants asiniely going in the wrong direction. (this excludes the talents to their respective meccas within US). Bad news is also that the unwanted talents for the new technological gears, including the natives, will have to move down in standard of living to the global mean of the 80% of the global populace. (This is more or less Darwinism). The many dreams of the tribes within Habitat America will be like the noises of minory shareholders. BTW there is even no consensus in the noises with the divided tribes. 

No worries for any nation pulling its debt singularly, they will just become price takers to the Hegemony. The hegemony can absorb the largest singular withdrawal without collapse. 

Nations are becoming bags and baggaes of culture, religion,races, etc.


JamesBond's picture

variable interest rates on national debt are not a good idea