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Infographic: Who Owns the National Debt

Putting our national debt into perspective.

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You hear all sorts of fearmongering about the national debt nowadays — how China keeps gobbling it all up, and how that surely means we’ll all be scrubbing bathroom floors in Beijing by next Thursday.

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Mint.com does a nice job of putting things in perspective with an infographic that plots out which foreign interests own the American debt, pegged at $12.8 trillion as of March. Yes, China has a sizable chunk of it. But so does Japan. And from the look of things, both countries’ stakes have risen at about the same pace over the past year.

The infographic also includes a 3-D pie chart on domestic holdings. All told, the U.S. owns an $8.89 trillion stake in… itself. (This is something we’ve never entirely understood. Why does America owe itself money — with interest?) That big pie slice there is the Federal Reserve and “U.S. Intragovernmental Holdings.” Not pictured: the size of the barrel Ben Bernanke is wearing.

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None of this is news for people who religiously track the national debt. For the rest of us, it’s a concise picture of who’ll be making the creditor calls.

[Via Column Five Media, Inc.]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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