The Debt Clock

In the spirit of its Big Mac Index, The Economist rolled out its Global Debt Clock, which features a running global-public-debt tally. It also provides specific data for different countries, such as public debt per capita and debt as percent of G.D.P., ranging from 1999 to predicted numbers for 2011. Here’s hoping they won’t have to follow the U.S. debt clock in adding more zeroes. [%comments]


So, am I reading that right, that the US has 75% of the total value of public debt?


cancel that. i was looking at 1999. Still, 33%. Wow.


Where exactly are they getting the figures and how is 'public debt' defined? I thought the US debt clock had topped 10 trillion, but the site listed this as 6.7 trillion. For my country (Canada) their site lists public debt as as 0.95 trillion when the Canada Economy Online lists federal debt as 0.46 trillion.


Notice the color of the US - dark green (high debt)

Notice the rate of change for the US - 26%. Outrageous!

Notice the share of US debt to the world - incredible!


While I didn't look at every country on the global debt clock, it appears that every nation either has no data, or it has debt, even China.

How is it possible for every nation to be a debtor nation? Who are the creditors? Individuals? NGOs?

karen lyons kalmenson

the us debt is a ticking time bomb


It's somewhat disappointing that the default view is total $ rather than % of GDP.

Leigh Caldwell

Well, the US does have about 25% of the world's GDP. So 33% of debt isn't that bad.

Especially if running up that debt enabled the investment which allowed the GDP growth to happen!


What they are missing is the ability to change the colors to represent different aspects including debt per capita, debt as percentage of GDP, and rate of change (e.g. Russia has 81% rate of change?).
Also, would be good to know where they got their numbers from.


I am confused; There are instances where countries that are supposedly in better shape (light green) have a worse debt as a percentage of GDP (India in '09 at 59.6%) then say the US (48.1%). Off the numbers doled out here...isn't Debt/GDP and the rate of change really the ones that matter?


There seems to be a correlation between high debt and prosperity. Hmmm...


is it Net or Gross? what would be more interesting would be the actual wealth of each nation given the assets involved.


Some posters are correlating the US debt with our GDP growth. The 1990's showed clearly that the economy grows just as fast - and with no underlying debt - when we run balanced budgets as when we are profligate. The policies of President Clinton led to a stronger overall economy, if debt is included, than the bizarre efforts by President Bush to deliberately halt these balanced budget policies with unfunded tax cuts. The influx of $5 trillion in borrowed money destablized the economy by causing irrational decision-making. That is, investors were considering only the cash available to them and discounting the national debt that was undertaken to fund this influx of cash.