Various sources have claimed that China’s total debt has increased from 125% of GDP in 2008 to 198-230% of GDP in 2013. They erroneously say that US total debt is 72%. US federal government debt was at that level but US total debt is up around 250-400%.
This is not a “China is great” article. It is mainly to correct fear mongering and lies by some China bears. The US and China are financially and economically very strong. They both have deep capabilities to overcome huge problems. Of course it would be better to manage each more intelligently and avoid needlessly testing when their systems would actually break.
Global Finance magazine provides a rundown of the total debt of all the major countries. A country’s “total debt” includes government debt as well as the debt of financial institutions, non-financial businesses and households. For the 10 largest mature economies (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, South Korea, UK and US), total debt stood at nearly 350% of GDP in 2011. If one considers the economies of the PIIGS countries (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Greece,) those worst hit by the debt crisis in Europe, total debt was almost 400% of GDP.
Including asset backed securities (ABS) US total debt would equal 350%-360%. Asset-backed securities are removed from McKinsey data since underlying mortgages and other loans are already included, so it would reflect a duplication within the data, according to McKinsey. Other data sources, including the FT, The Economist and Morgan Stanley, do include ABS in total debt figures.