How Broke Is the United States?

Debt as percent of GDP

The data is pretty damning. Government figures show that while U.S. gross domestic product currently sits at nearly $15 trillion, national debt has nearly tripled since 2001 and currently sits at $16.8 trillion. Massive ongoing asset purchases by the Federal Reserve have left the central bank holding 16 percent of total outstanding Treasuries.

China is the biggest foreign holder of American debt at 11 percent. Japan takes the number-two spot with 10 percent. All said, according to Capital Economics Chief U.S. Economist Paul Ashworth, net external liabilities for the U.S. are about 30 percent of GDP. This is a lot of money to owe foreign governments, but still a relatively small amount in the grand scheme.

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“At first glance it does appear that America is caught in some sort of debt super cycle,” wrote Ashworth in a research note seen by Bloomberg

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