For the economists in the crowd…
What countries have the largest debt in the world? Here is a list of the top ten countries with the most national debts, according to its GDP, and those with the least.
- Japan (¥1,028 trillion ($9.087 trillion US))
- Greece (€332.6 billion ($379 billion US))
- Portugal (€232 billion ($264 billion US))
- Italy (€2.17 trillion ($2.48 trillion US))
- Bhutan ($2.33 billion (US))
- Cyprus (€18.95 billion ($21.64 billion US))
- Belgium (€399.5 billion ($456.18 billion US))
- United States of America ($19.23 trillion (US))
- Spain (€1.09 trillion ($1.24 US))
- Singapore ($350 billion ($254 billion US))
Japan, with its population of 127 million people, has the highest national debt in the world by a huge amount, at 234.18% of its GDP. Japan’s equity and real estate bubbles burst starting in the fall of 1989. Equity values plunged 60% from late 1989 to August 1992, while land values dropped throughout the 1990s, falling an incredible 70% by 2001. By 2008 the government had already had to bail out banks and insurance companies, and had provided them with low-interest credit. Banking institutions were soon consolidated and nationalized, with other fiscal stimulus initiatives used to help reboot the struggling economy. Unfortunately, these actions caused Japan’s debt level to skyrocket.
With a population of 329 million people, the US national debt is currently 109.45% of its GDP.
Canada’s national debt is currently at 83.81% of its GDP. It’s national debt currently sits at about $1.2 trillion CAD ($925 billion US). Canada experienced a gradual decrease in debt after the 1990s all the way until 2010 when the debt began increasing again.
Germany’s debt ratio is currently at 59.81% of its GDP, with it’s total debt approximately 2.291 trillion € ($2.527 trillion US). Germany is Europe’s largest economy.
China’s national debt is currently 54.44% of its GDP, a significant increase from 2014 when the national debt was at 41.54% of China’s GDP. It’s current national debt is over ¥38 trillion (over $5 trillion US). An International Monetary Fund report from 2015 stated that China’s debt is relatively low, and many economists have dismissed worries over the size of the debt both in its overall size and relative to China’s GDP. China currently has the world’s largest economy and the largest population of 1.4 billion people.
Russia’s debt ratio is one of the lowest in the world at 19.48% of its GDP, the ninth least indebted country in the world. It’s debt is currently at a total of over 14 billion руб ($216 billion US), with most of Russia’s external debt private.
Other countries whose debt is lower than 20% of its GDP include the United Arab Emirates, Solomon Islands, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Botswana. Countries with debt below 10% of its GDP are Estonia (6.12%), Afghanistan (6.32%), and Brunei (2.46%).
IMF data from the April 2018 “IMF World Economic Outlook” database.