Putting America's Record-Breaking $20 Trillion Debt In Global Context

The U.S. federal government just passed a record $20 trillion in publicly held debt. That’s bigger than the entire economy of every country in the European Union, combined.

As HowMuch.net notes, the debt will only grow higher unless President Trump and the U.S. Congress can agree to unprecedented spending cuts combined with tax increases. 

Don’t count on that happening anytime soon. Most people think that an eye-popping $20+ trillion debt is insurmountable, and in fact, it is the largest in the world by far.

But when you look at another fiscal measure - the ratio of debt-to-GDP - the U.S. is not in the worst situation...

Source: HowMuch.net

HowMuch.net's visualization allows you to quickly see how the U.S. government’s debt compares to other countries around the world. The size of the country correlates to the size of the debt. The U.S. and Japan stand out because they have the highest debts in the world ($20.17T and $11.59T, respectively). Other countries, like Germany and Brazil, appear much smaller because their debts are comparatively tiny ($2.45T and $1.45T, respectively). We then color-coded each country according to its debt-to-GDP ratio. Green countries have a healthy margin, but dark red and fuchsia countries have debts that are even bigger than their entire economies.

Top 10 countries with the Worst Debt-to-GDP Ratios 

  1. Japan (245% at $11.59T)
  2. Greece (173% at $338B)
  3. Italy (138% at $138B
  4. Portugal (133% at $274B)
  5. Belgium (111% at $111B)
  6. Spain (106% at $106B)
  7. Canada (106% at $106B)
  8. Ireland (105% at $105B)
  9. France (98% at $98B)
  10. Brazil (82% at $82B)

The debt-to-GDP ratio is a critical metric for evaluating a country’s fiscal health. It makes a lot of sense for the American government to have a higher debt than a much smaller country, like Germany. Think about it like this: Bill Gates is worth $86 billion, so he can afford a much higher credit card bill than me or you.

That’s why it’s important to consider the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of each country, a number which represents the sum of all transactions occurring in the economy.

Once you understand the public debt as a percentage of GDP, you get a level playing field for countries on different economic scales. When you think about it like this, the U.S. isn’t even among the ten worst sovereign debts in the world.


realmoney2015 Five Star Sat, 09/23/2017 - 22:24 Permalink

All the countries on the list have a Rothschild central bank. But I guess that's pretty much the entire world now. Only a few more countries on the naughty list. The new puppet in Chief is working on Iran, North Korea and Syria as we speak. If we want peace and prosperity, we have to end the Fed. If we want to end the Fed we have to take it upon ourselves to raise awareness and spread the message of sound money: gold and silver. That's why we created Scent Savers. We sell candles with silver coin prizes: www.scentsaverscsndles.comWe also run educational campaigns on our Facebook and Twitter pages: https://m.facebook.com/scentsaverscandleshttps://mobile.twitter.com/Sav… the Fed!

In reply to by Five Star

Twee Surgeon Five Star Sat, 09/23/2017 - 22:56 Permalink

Here it is in terms of Rational thinking....When any Entity is given the power to create Money out of thin air from Nothing without true consent of the People who do the actual Producing of Goods and Services then you are abiding in a system of Chaos. When said Entity has Interests at heart that are not the Benefit of the people, you have Wars. There is no Debt. They can write or write off any check at any time for reasons known only to them.Applying Logic to Random half wit fuckery is not a winning game. Come out of Mystery Babylon !

In reply to by Five Star

Itinerant Bobbyrib Sun, 09/24/2017 - 12:57 Permalink

It's worse ...

  1. Every other source pegs the US Fed debt at 106% of GDP, meaning the US is number 5 on the list and should be fuchsia colored.
  2. Most European countries [Eurostat] calculate public debt as the consolidated public balance sheet, including local and provincial levels of government, as well as publically owned companies. In the US, that would mean adding Tr$3.2 state/local debt to the total, as well as contingent liabilities such as Fannie, Freddie, and Ginnie: All in all you're up to Tr$30.
  3. You don't pay back your loans from your turn-over or revenue, but from your income!!! Federal tax receipts have averaged around 17% of GDP for a long time. In Europe, many countries get more than 40% of GDP as revenue. The federal government can't just up the taxes to a similar level, because in Europe those taxes pay for health care and public services which the federal government does not fund. A more realistic ratio is not debt:GDP but debt:income. On this metric, the USA scores about 600% (on just the Tr$20 part of the public debt). This compares to around 200% for most of the other countries on the chart. The American public debt position is worse than Greece on this metric.

So thanks for the presentation, but you're just helping to pull the wool over people's eyes. 

In reply to by Bobbyrib

philipat Déjà view Sun, 09/24/2017 - 07:46 Permalink

Yes, I was just about to point out the same thing. How can they not include the US in the top 10 when US GDP is only $18T?Also, in the case of the US, that does NOT include State and Municiple debt and unfunded liabilities. If the purpose of this article is, and I suspect it is, to make the case that "everything is actually awesome" then I call BS on the entire article.

In reply to by Déjà view

BigJim philipat Sun, 09/24/2017 - 08:51 Permalink

 "The size of the country correlates to the size of the debt. The U.S. and Japan stand out because they have the highest debts in the world ($20.17T and $11.59T, respectively)."Erm, if that's the case, why is Japan the size of the US in this chart, when it has around half the debt? And why is Canada so tiny - it should be ~80% the size of the US.

In reply to by philipat

Putrid_Scum Stackers Sat, 09/23/2017 - 22:49 Permalink

You guys are obsessing about nothing. The 20 Trillion in debt doesn't exist, it's been moved to the balance sheet of the Bank of International Settlements.

No one cares about the debt, the debt is not an issue. Soon, your personal debts won't even matter to you.

The thing that matters now is The Reset and how the event unfolds.



In reply to by Stackers

Putrid_Scum monk27 Sun, 09/24/2017 - 00:22 Permalink

The series is written for The Capitalists, and they'll pay any price.

Those guys wanted me to set the price of The Reset to $200, but I prefer that normal guys can afford it.

Edit: You only need to read volume 1 and 3 for your continuing survival. Volume 1 because it will help your mind understand what you're witnessing: so you won't suffer depression or a nervous breakdown. The political economy post Reset will be extreme.


In reply to by monk27

Caloot Putrid_Scum Sat, 09/23/2017 - 22:57 Permalink

This article is complete bs.  Just debt held by treasury is not the whole us debt picture by a  long shot.  Factor in state debt, Muni debt, and unfunded liabilities and you get hugely different story.  Having that debt held in near zero rates also completely distorts it.   Imagine what that treasury debt burden would look like even at 3% and you pay all tax receipts to financing it. B... S...

In reply to by Putrid_Scum

JoJo Kracko realmoney2015 Sun, 09/24/2017 - 01:41 Permalink

You guys (tyler durden) wrote this yourself?   Did you not read your earlier article about Debt to GDP? Your map colors are wrong.   Japan has a 2.5x Debt to GDP ratio.The US is 105%Canada is 94% Just trying to paint your country in a better light?  Or should I say orange instead of pink? Of course, these numbers are all pretty much made up and different depending on the source.   The OECD for example, who should be the most accurate, has the US at 126% and Canada at 116%.   So is the US actually 6th worst in the whole world, worse than Spain and France, or out of the top ten as your article implies? https://data.oecd.org/gga/general-government-debt.htm

In reply to by realmoney2015

Kayman JoJo Kracko Sun, 09/24/2017 - 12:43 Permalink

Your first mistake is to think that the OECD is anything more than a political numbers churner."Canada is 94%" ?  What a pathetic joke.   Add in in other government debt, provincial, and off balance sheet debt held in "special purpose" government corporations and Canada is +250%.The problem with most Canadians is they still eat the pablum.

In reply to by JoJo Kracko

hibou-Owl Five Star Sun, 09/24/2017 - 01:54 Permalink

The other comsideration is the term of the debt and the cost of rolling it.
Previous articles suggests US has shortening debt term, and a massive pension blowout.
Countries like Australia and New Zealand which have promoted self funded retirement schemes are going to be way ahead. UK have only just started this scheme and is relatively young. Countries like France, and alot of others have massive government funded pensions, which are never going to be honoured. So not all countries can be compared on a debt/gdp or interest liability per capita, but the US is in big trouble and I haven't started on the healthcare liabilities which US tops the list.

In reply to by Five Star

Kayman Secret Weapon Sun, 09/24/2017 - 12:48 Permalink

Secret WeaponEvery Government dollar spent into GDP has been taken from someone else, or it is a future debt, ie, taxation of those that did not get to vote to have their money from the future spent on current consumption and waste by others. GDP should not include "Government" because government does not produce, it only sucks.

In reply to by Secret Weapon

Internet-is-Beast Sat, 09/23/2017 - 22:45 Permalink

It would be interesting to see a chart indicating countries' susceptability to implosion at different interest rates. A chart could be designed to show the amount of interest rate increase needed to implode each country's economy, assuming there is a moritorium on kicking the can down the road by assuming more debt.