Top 10 Countries the U.S. Owes Money To

Lots More Information


How Does the U.S. Senate Expel a Senator?

How Does the U.S. Senate Expel a Senator?

The Constitution gives the U.S. Senate the power to expel one of its members. HowStuffWorks looks at the process and its history.

Author's Note: Top 10 Countries the U.S. Owes Money To

Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but the National Debt Clock is never going to reverse course. It is a hard fact to swallow, but the United States — like all industrialized nations — has always borrowed to pay its bills. From my research to update this article, it looks like most economists agree that the most important figure to watch is the debt-to-GDP ratio. The $16.43 trillion figure is incomprehensibly large, but that will continue to get larger. The more important question is, can the U.S. keep its economy growing faster than its debts? The Congressional Budget Office warns that current tax and spending policies will grow the national debt to 77 percent or higher over the next decade. The CBO warns that sustained high levels of debt will have "serious negative consequences," including the possibility of defaulting on interest payments. It's an unrealistic goal to stop borrowing. Instead, the focus should be on investing that borrowed cash in the right programs and people to ensure long-term economic growth. – D.R.

Related Articles


  • Associated Press. "Japan Increases Its Holdings of U.S. Debt in January." March 15, 2011. (July 14, 2011)
  • Bloomberg. "China-Taiwan Tensions Could Loom Over U.S. 'Pivot' to Asia." Feb 26, 2012. (March 31, 2013)
  • Boyle, Catherine. "Why Brazil's Once-Booming Economy is Losing Its
  • Shine." CNBC. January 16, 2013. (March 31, 2013)
  • Burgos, Jonathan. "Most Hong Kong Stocks Decline on U.S. Debt Concern". Bloomberg News, Jul 2011.
  • Capaccio, Tony. "China's U.S. Holdings Aren't a Threat, Pentagon Says." Bloomberg. September 10, 2012. (March 31, 2013)
  • CBS News. "China now owns $1.16 trillion of U.S. debt." Feb. 28, 2011. (July 14, 2011)
  • Chechel, Alena, Rose, Scott and Jordan, Jack. "Putin Calls US 'Parasite' as Russia Gobbles Its Debt". Bloomberg News, August 2011.
  • CIA World Factbook. "China" (March 31, 2013)
  • CIA World Factbook. "Country Comparison: Debt (External)" (March 31, 2013)
  • CIA World Factbook. "Country Comparison: GDP" (March 31, 2013)
  • CIA World Factbook. "Hong Kong" (March 31, 2013)
  • CIA World Factbook. "Luxembourg" (March 31, 2013)
  • CIA World Factbook. "Taiwan" (March 31, 2013)
  • Congressional Budget Office. "Federal Debt and Interest Costs." December 2010. (July 14, 2011)
  • Cox, Jeff. "Is the Dollar Dying? Why US Currency is in Danger." CNBC. Feb 14, 2013. (March 31, 2013)
  • Davidson, Adam. "What to Make of U.S.'s Debt to China. NPR. March 4, 2011. (July 14, 2011)
  • Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Presence Switzerland. "A mainstay of the Swiss economy" (March 31, 2013)
  • Financial Management Service, U.S. Department of the Treasury. "Ownership of Federal Securities." March 2013. (March 31, 2013)
  • Garcia-Herrero. "Hong Kong as an international banking center: present and future." Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy. Aug. 11, 2011. (March 31, 2013)
  • Grunwald, Aaron. "Luxembourg liquidates U.S. debt." Delano. Sept. 22, 2011. (Jan. 19, 2012)
  • Hyslop, Leah. "Belgium Lifts Secrecy on Foreign Bank Accounts." The Telegraph. June 21, 2011. (March 31, 2013)
  • Iosebashvili, Ira. "Oil-Rich Russia Calm Ahead of U.S. Debt Deadline". Wall Street Journal's "Emerging Europe" Blog, July 2011.
  • OECD Better Life Index. "Switzerland." (March 31, 2013)
  • Pomfret, John. "China Invests Heavily in Brazil, Elsewhere in Pursuit of Political Heft." The Washington Post. July 26, 2010. (March 31, 2013)
  • Rohrer, Finlo. "What's a little debt between friends?" BBC Magazine. May 10, 2006. (July 14, 2011)
  • Sauter, Michael B. "Japan tops list of countries deepest in debt." Feb 15, 2012. (March 31, 2013)
  • Shapiro, Don. "Taiwan Economy: Near-term Uptick, Longer-term Challenges." Brookings Institute. March 2013. (March 31, 2013)
  • Stephey, M.J. "The Times Square Debt Clock." Time magazine. Oct. 14, 2008. (July 14, 2011),8599,1850269,00.html
  • TreasuryDirect. "The Debt to the Penny and Who Owns It." (March 31, 2013)
  • TreasuryDirect. "Frequently Asked Questions About the Public Debt." Updated May 16, 2011. (July 14, 2011)
  • U.S. Department of Justice. "Swiss Bank Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Conspiracy To Evade Taxes." January 3, 2013. (March 31, 2013)
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury. "TIC – Frequently Asked Questions." (March 31, 2013)
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office. "Federal Debt: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions. An Update." (July 14, 2011)

More to Explore