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Debt in Selected Countries

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Statistics -> Debt in Selected Countries

Debt in Selected Countries

The table below shows the total debt as a % of GDP, and debt per person in selected countries for 2011.  The information is gathered from sources which are listed below the table.

What is the significance of these numbers?

The government gross debt is used as an indicator of the financial stability of the country.  Once the government gross debt nears 100% of GDP, financial alarm bells start to ring, and purchasers of that country's debt (t-bills, bonds) may demand higher interest rates.  This has happened in 2011 with Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, and Greece.  Another factor affecting the interest rates is the amount of debt held by citizens of the country, vs the amount of debt held outside of the country.  Japan is an example where 95% of the debt is held by its own citizens, which helps stabilize their debt market.  The US debt has now reached 100% of GDP, and their debt was downgraded in August 2011 by Standard & Poor's (S&P) to AA+ from AAA.  AAA is the highest rating.

  Debt as % of GDP   Total Debt
Country Gov't
Gross
Debt
Personal
Gross
Debt
Total
Debt
GDP
2011
$trillions
Population
2011
millions
$trillions per
person
$US
Japan 233% 77% 310% $5.8 126.5 $18.0 $142,672
Ireland 109% 123% 232% 0.2 4.5 0.5 109,706
United States 100% 92% 192% 15.2 313.1 29.2 93,376
Canada 84% 97% 181% 1.7 34.4 3.1 91,409
United Kingdom 81% 101% 182% 2.5 62.4 4.5 72,097
Greece 166% 71% 237% 0.3 11.4 0.7 64,523
France 87% 61% 148% 2.8 63.1 4.1 64,517
Italy 121% 50% 171% 2.2 60.8 3.7 61,351
Germany 83% 60% 143% 3.5 82.2 5.0 61,212
Spain 67% 87% 154% 1.5 46.5 2.3 49,171
Portugal 106% 106% 212% 0.2 10.7 0.5 46,788

Notes:

bulletAll amounts are in US$.
bulletThe government gross debt includes all levels of government.
bulletCorporate debt and bank debt are not included in the debt totals.
bulletThe last column shows the debt per person, not per household.  The total debt for a family of 4 in Canada would be $365,636.
bulletWe confirmed with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, quoted as a source for the IMF information) that the Canada debt includes Federal, Provincial, Territorial and Local governments, and the Canada and Québec Pension Plans, and does not include financial or non-financial public corporations.

 

Information sources:

bulletInternational Monetary Fund (IMF) Global Financial Stability Report (published September 2011) - Debt as % of GDP, except Canada personal gross debt, which was not included in the report.
bulletStatistics Canada Household Sector Indicators - Canada personal gross debt (2nd qtr 2011)
bulletInternational Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook Database, April 2011 - GDP 2011
bulletUnited Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs - Population 2011 from Total Population - Both Sexes, Medium Estimates

Tax Tip:  Reduce your own debt, and pressure your government to reduce its debt.

 

Revised: September 18, 2012

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