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
Debt as % of GDP
All amounts are in US$.
The government gross debt includes all levels of government.
Corporate debt and bank debt are not included in the debt totals.
The last column shows the debt per person, not per
household. The total debt for a family of 4 in Canada would be
We 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.
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