State of the Middle Class

U.S. Economy

The charts here show that in addition to the tremendous trade deficits, the U.S. faces increasing budget deficits and foreign wealth deficits.

Net international investment position (NIIP) for the United States measures how many foreign assets are owned by the U.S. and its citizens less how many U.S. assets are owned by foreigners. A negative number indicates that the world owns more assets in the U.S. than the U.S. owns in the rest of the world. Our NIIP is roughly -$50,000 per U.S. citizen (yes, that’s a “minus”). That ranks the U.S. with some of the most financially distressed countries in Europe after the Financial Crisis.

In a sense, that makes the U.S. a net debtor to the rest of the world.

Add to this the significant National Debt, and it paints a picture of the U.S. as a debtor nation that depends on others to produce many critical goods that we import. Meanwhile, we sell our valuable assets to those nations to fund our purchase of those goods.

NIIP by Country (Billions of USD)

Nation20052010201520202023 Q4
Japan1,531.83,150.42,715.23,422.13,437.7
Germany356.5720.51,138.82,680.03,204.6
China356.81,478.31,698.92,286.82,908.2
Canada-154.6-303.0323.2744.71,265.1
South Korea-143.9-132.7204.5487.2779.8
Greece-177.9-298.8-261.3-352.8-342.0
United States-1,857.9-2,511.1-7,590.5-14,707.4-19,767.9

Major Foreign Holders of US Treasury Securities (April 2024)

CountryAmount
Japan$1,150.3
China$770.7
UK$710.2
Luxembourg$384.4
Canada$338.2
Cayman Islands$319.4
Belgium$312.4
Ireland$307.6
France$276.5
Switzerland$272.0
Taiwan$257,3
Foreign holdings include government and private holdings.

Ratio of National Debt to GDP by Nation

Nation1950197619982023
China------21.3%22.7%
Germany------59.5%64.8%
United States92.2%35.2%61.3%124.3%
- As of 2022, foreign powers hold a total of $7.32 trillion, or 24%, of the U.S. federal debt.
- The Federal Reserve and the government own about $10 trillion of the U.S. federal debt
- China and Japan alone hold over $2 trillion in treasury securities 

Ratio of Deficit to GDP for the United States over Time

YearFederal Surplus / Deficit as % of GDP
19600.06%
1970-0.26%
1980-2.58%
1990-3.71%
20002.31%
2010-8.60%
2020-14.87%
2023-6.30%
The United States has not run a federal spending surplus since 2001.

Per Capita Net Foreign Wealth (NIIP) by Country

Country20052010201520202023 Q4
Japan$11,971$24,590$21,400$29,173$27,637
Germany$4,365$10,760$18,729$34,478$38,287
China$263$1,081$1,187$1,493$2,059
Canada-$4,352-$8,823$8,893$23,151$32,238
South Korea-$2,905-$2,623$3,920$10,621$15,114
Greece-$16,378-$26,978-$24,029-$32,649-$32,942
United States-$6,294-$8,115-$23,261-$42,185-$59,005
- Note: NIIP equals the amount of assets held by one country versus another. 
- Per each U.S. citizen, the world owns $59,005 more in U.S. assets than the U.S. owns in the rest of the world's assets.

Inflation Rate by Selected Countries

Year USA China Japan South Korea Taiwan 
May 20233.3%0.3%2.8%2.7%2.2%
Apr 20243.4%0.3%2.5%2.9%1.9%
Mar 20243.5%0.1%2.7%3.1%2.1%
Ratio of Debt to GDP by nation
Net International Investment Positions