Creditor Name: Russia
Amount of U.S. Debt Owned (January 2013): $162.9 billion
Percent of U.S. Public Debt (January 2013): 1.4 percent
In 2011, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin denounced the United States as a "parasite" on the global economy [source: Chechel]. At the time, the U.S. Congress was embroiled in a debt-ceiling debate that many believed would result in a default on the government's loans from foreign countries. With hundreds of billions in U.S. Treasury securities, Russia had a lot to lose from a massive American default. But even the debt-ceiling debacle didn't scare Russia away from the relative security of American debt. Since the day Putin called America a "parasite," Russia has increased its holdings in American debt by tens of billions of dollars.
Where does Russia get all of its buying power? The answer is oil. Russia is the world's largest oil producer, and has used the commodities markets -- and investment in U.S. Treasury bonds -- to build impressive cash reserves in foreign securities [source: Iosebashvili]. Some world economists believe that Russia could be facing its own serious debt crisis by 2030, unless the country decreases spending. Bullish-minded ministers within the Russian government still urge growth, including huge infrastructure projects like the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup.