Holders of US Debt

Total Public Debt Outstanding at June 30, 2018 was $21.2 Trillion.

Total Public Debt Outstanding is divided into two sub categories: 1) Intragovernmental Debt, and 2) Debt Held by the Public. It should be noted the government, media and may 501’s use Debt Held by the Public, an amount lower than Total Public Debt Outstanding, when quoting certain economic ratios. This results in making the debt amount and ratios appear lower and thus better than reality.

Intragovernmental Debt – $5.7 Trillion or 27% of Total Public Debt Outstanding at June 30, 2018. This debt is incurred when the government General Account borrows from Trusts and other earmarked Funds to pay for current, day-to-day, government operations. The Trust Funds include Social Security, Medicare, Federal Employees and Military pensions and benefits, and other funds.

Using Social Security and Medicare as examples, after this money is deducted from taxpayers’ paychecks it is deposited into “Trust Funds.” The General Account then borrows the excess cash in exchange for a government debt security. The Trust Funds now hold US Government Debt. The Trust Fund cash is transferred to the General Account and is used to pay current, day-today, government expenses. There is no securitization of assets or earmarked revenues to pay it back. It is only backed by the “full faith and credit of the United States” – also known as US, the taxpayers.

Debt Held by the Public – $15.5 Trillion or 73% of Total Public Debt Outstanding at June 30, 2018. This debt is incurred when the government General Account borrows from a variety of Domestic and Foreign sources, including the Federal Reserve, to pay for current, day-to-day, government operations.

US– this category includes money borrowed from both US based accounts, individuals and corporations and others representing retirement and non-retirement funds. It also includes money received from the Federal Reserve (the US central bank) when it authorizes the printing of money to magically expands the money supply. This new cash is given to the government for operations in exchange for Debt securities.

Foreign– this category includes money borrowed from individuals, corporations, and governments of many countries. Foreigners are attracted to US Debt due to the US’s high credit rating, relatively stable currency and history of repaying its Debt. Despite scares that China holds large amounts of US debt they will sell (8% using Held by the Public or  6% using Total Debt), due to cross holdings and China’s interest in keeping US currency high for balance of trade reasons, it is unlikely they will sell all of their holdings.

The following tables shows either the exact amount or an estimate of the debt by specific holders. Estimates are used since different government sources report at different times.


Holders of US Debt
Approximate (in $Billions)
June 30, 2018

Summary: % $
Held by the Public (US and Foreign) 73.0% 15,467
Intragovernmental 27.0% 5,729
Total Public Debt Outstanding 100.0% 21,196
US Retirement, Health, Inv. and Others 70.7% 14,983
Foreign (Gov's and Others) 29.3% 6,213
Total Public Debt Outstanding 100.0% 21,196
Holder Category US or Foreign Total
Social Security Intragov US 2,833
Individual GSE's, B/D's, Corps, Others Public US 2,406
Federal Reserve Public US 2,376
Pensions - Federal Employees Intragov US 1,905
Mutual Funds Public US 1,830
State and Local Gov's Public US 695
Depository Institutions Public US 674
Pensions - Private Funds Public US 600
Pensions - State and Local Gov's Public US 289
Insurance Companies Public US 226
Medicare Intragov US 370
US Savings Bonds Public US 158
Trust Funds - All Others Intragov US 246
Gov Programs - All Others Intragov US 374
Sub-total US 14,983
China Public Foreign 1,179
Japan Public Foreign 1,032
Ireland Public Foreign 301
Brazil Public Foreign 300
United Kingdom Public Foreign 274
Switzerland Public Foreign 236
Luxembourg Public Foreign 221
Hong Kong Public Foreign 197
Cayman Islands Public Foreign 191
Saudi Arabia Public Foreign 164
Tawian Public Foreign 163
Belgium Public Foreign 155
India Public Foreign 147
Singapore Public Foreign 122
Korea Public Foreign 106
Canada Public Foreign 102
France Public Foreign 93
Germany Public Foreign 71
Bermuda Public Foreign 60
United Arab Emiratis Public Foreign 60
Thailand Public Foreign 59
Norway Public Foreign 50
Sweden Public Foreign 46
Netherlands Public Foreign 45
Kuwait Public Foreign 43
Mexico Public Foreign 41
Italy Public Foreign 41
Poland Public Foreign 41
Australia Public Foreign 40
Spain Public Foreign 32
Israel Public Foreign 28
Iraq Public Foreign 27
All Others 546
Sub-total Foreign 6,213
Total Public Debt Outstanding 6/30/18 21,196