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BigRedChief 02-23-2013 10:47 AM

Who owns our debt? China is less than 10%.

China is less than 10%. It use to be a lot higher but we encouraged then to sell their stake to Japan and other pro-western countries. They were happy too. China wants the $ to remain high for their own selfish interests.
Source: U.S. Treasury Department. The Washington Post. Published on October 16, 2012, 8:04 p.m.

Who Owns the U.S. National Debt?

Answer: The U.S. debt is more than $16 trillion. The U.S. has been able to run up such a huge debt because it always has the ability to pay it off by auctioning off more Treasury notes.

However, there is a debt ceiling set by Congress. Whenever the debt approaches this ceiling, legislators raise concerns about the ability of the U.S. to pay back its debt. It's of special concern now that the debt-to-GDP ratio has passed 100%. This means that the U.S. debt is larger than its entire economy produces in a year. Even though it's still unlikely, those who own U.S. debt have become increasingly concerned that perhaps the U.S. will default on its debt.

Most of the news headlines focus on how much the U.S. owes China. And, in fact, China is the largest foreign owner of U.S. debt. However, the biggest single owner is ... you. Why? Because the single largest holder of national debt is the Social Security Trust Fund, aka your retirement money. Here's how it works.
The Debt Is in Two Categories

The U.S. Treasury manages the U.S. debt (among other things) through its Bureau of the Public Debt. The Bureau has broken out the debt into two main categories: Intragovernmental Holdings ($4.9 trillion) and Debt Held by the Public ($11.6 trillion). Intragovernmental Holdings - Just under one-third of the Federal debt is owed to about 230 other Federal agencies. How does this happen? Some agencies, like the Social Security Trust Fund, take in more revenue from taxes than they need right now. Rather than stick this cash under a giant mattress, these agencies buy U.S. Treasuries with it.
Which agencies own the most Treasuries? Social Security, by a long shot. Here's the detailed breakdown:
  • Social Security (Social Security Trust Fund and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund) - $2.72 trillion
  • Office of Personnel Management (Federal Employees Retirement, Life Insurance, Hospital Insurance Trust Funds, including Postal Service Fund) - $1.12 trillion
  • Dept. of Health and Human Services (Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund) - $69 billion
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation - $35 billion
  • Department of Transportation (Airport and Highway Trust Fund) - $20 billion
  • Department of the Treasury (Exchange Stabilization Fund) - $23 billion
  • Department of Labor (Unemployment Trust Fund) - $21 billion
  • Other Programs and Funds - $933 billion. (As of September 2012. Source: Treasury Bulletin, Monthly Treasury Statement, Table FD-3:Government Account Series)
Debt Held by the Public - Foreign governments and investors hold 48% of the nation's public debt. The next largest part (21%) is held by other governmental entities, like the Federal Reserve and state and local governments. Fifteen percent is held by mutual funds, private pension funds, savings bonds or individual Treasury notes. The rest (16%) is held by businesses, like banks, and insurance companies and a mish-mash of trusts, businesses and investors. Here's the breakout:
  • Foreign - $5.311 trillion
  • Federal Reserve - $1.66 trillion
  • State and Local Government, including their pension funds - $709.1 billion
  • Mutual Funds - $864.9 billion
  • Private Pension Funds - $605.2 billion
  • Banks - $305.2 billion
  • Insurance Companies - $259.1 billion
  • U.S. Savings Bonds - $184.7 billion
  • Other (individuals, government-sponsored enterprises, brokers and dealers, bank personal trusts and estates, corporate and non-corporate businesses, and other investors) - $1.14 trillion. (Federal Reserve as of Januray 2, 2013; All others as of June 2012. Source: Treasury Bulletin, Ownership of Federal Securities, Table OFS-2)
This debt is not only Treasury bills, notes, and bonds but also TIPS, Savings Bonds, and State and Local Government Series securities. As you can see, if you add up debt held by Social Security, and all the retirement and pension funds, a large part of the U.S. Treasury debt (30%) is held in trust for people's retirements. If theoretically the U.S. were to default, foreign investors would be angry, but the greatest harm would befall the average U.S. citizen.

BucEyedPea 02-23-2013 11:49 AM

I knew about the Japan point. Then again, this is from govt statistics and we know how the govt manipulates numbers. Also, using how much they hold as a percentage is one of those manipulations to make it seem smaller when our debt is just too high. This is what the right does on military spending when they use it as a precentage of GDP. This is also, why CPI, GDP, employment numbers and when there's a recession, depression or recovery runs counter to people's personal and business experiences.

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