According to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_external_debt , the US has a external debt/GDP is 99.95% of GDP. Ireland's figure is 961%!
Rank ↓ Country - Entity ↓ External Debt (million US$) ↓ Date of information ↓ External Debt Per Capita (US$) ↓ Date of population* ↓ External debt (% of GDP) ↓ World $54,610,000 2008 $9,100 2008 est. 69.68% 1 United States $13,703,567 6/30/2008 $42,343 31-March-08 99.95% 2 United Kingdom $10,450,000 6/30/2007 $174,167 July 2008 374.96% 6 Ireland $1,841,000 6/30/2007 $448,032 30- Jun-08 960.86%
Also, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt , the Total Debt of the USA is $12.3T. United States Total Debt (Split) End of fiscal year Intragovernmental Holdings Debt Held by the Public 2009* est 5.900 trillion 6.400 trillion
The entire GDP of the USA is about $15T. This implies that the total debt/GDP of the USA is 82%. Of this total debt, we can see that 48% is in Intragovernmental Holdings and 52% is Debt Held By the Public (i.e. 0.52 = 6.4/12.3).
Further down from this same article, it states that "As is apparent from the chart, a little more than half of the total national debt is owed to the "Federal Reserve and intragovernmental holdings". The foreign and international holders of the debt are also put together from the notes, bills, and bonds sections."
Q1: FROM THE FIRST ARTICLE AT THE TOP, IT STATES THAT THE US' EXTERNAL DEBT IS 99.95% OF GDP. DOES THIS CONTRADICT FROM THE SECOND ARTICLE WHICH STATES THAT ONLY $6.4T OF THE DEBT IS EXTERNAL?
Q2: HOW CAN IRELAND HAVE A DEBT OF ~1000% OF GDP? THIS IMPLIES TO ME THAT THE COUNTRY WILL GO BANKRUPT VERY SOON! WHAT KIND OF EFFECTS IS THIS HAVING THERE? One person mentioned to me that this figure takes into account bank deposits, which are bonds, if you think about it. Well, foreigners also deposit money into Swiss and American bank accounts. So why isn't our external debt ~1000%?
Q3: As a side, the terms "Debt Held by the Public" is very confusing with "Total Public Debt Outstanding". Finally, I think that "Debt Held by the Public" is how much we owe FOREIGN COUNTRIES to finance our wars, roads, etc. However, "Intragovernmental Holdings" is how much we owe TO OURSELVES to finance Social Security and Medicare/ Medicaid, among other things.