What is the Size of our National Debt?

The total United States national debt is $19.3 trillion as of fiscal year (FY) 2016.

Total debt is near what the U.S. produces in annual GDP, and a majority of our national debt is public debt — money owed to those who have Treasury obligations. The U.S. also owes a large amount of money to foreign countries (foreign debt), but a majority of U.S. debt is held domestically.

As of June 2012, the three countries who hold the most of our national debt are: 

  • China (approximately 1.1 trillion dollars)
  • Japan (approximately 1 trillion dollars)
  • Oil Exporters (over 250 billion dollars) 

In addition to those who hold US Treasury obligations, the U.S. government is in a deep hole regarding its entitlement responsibilities such as Social Security, Medicare Programs, etc.

One underlying issue is that U.S. debt is the world's safest and most reliable, so it can generally be issued with ease and at attractive interest rates. So long as the rate of return on borrowed money exceeds interest payments, taking on debt is not a huge negative.

What is Foreign Debt?
When Will Social Security Go Bankrupt?