The 20 countries with the highest public debt in 2016 in relation to the gross domestic product (GDP)

The statistic shows the twenty countries with the highest public debt in relation to GDP in 2015. In 2015, Japan ranked first among the countries with the highest public debt levels; it had an estimated debt of around 249 percent of GDP.


Japanese public debt

Public debt, also known as national and government debt, is the debt owed by a nation’s central government. However, as a government draws in much of its income from its population, government debt is an indirect debt on taxpayers. The countries with the highest public debt are unsurprising, and although the United States' debt is much vaster; no nation in the world has a higher public debt in relation to GDP than Japan. The nation’s soaring debt is at around a quadrillion yen, roughly 10.5 trillion US dollars, and larger than the German, French and British economies combined. The Japanese government is currently spending around half of its total tax revenue on servicing its massive debt. Despite this, the yield on 10-year Japanese bonds remains at a surprisingly low level at under 1 percent.

The Japanese have limited options available to them. A possibility could be to default on their debt; this would probably result in a renegotiation of the interest rate and the length of the loan of the principal payments. At present, however, Japan has decided to try and inflate its debt away and have begun to implement the greatest QE experiment attempted by any nation. The Bank of Japan plans to print money to the value of around 60 trillion yen and use it to buy government bonds. The Japanese government is counting on investors to buy up its bonds, despite the fact that the nation plans to almost double its monetary base, effectively halving the purchasing power. For the moment, it seems to be working, but a change in attitudes on the part of the buyers and an increase in interest rates could have catastrophic repercussions for Japan.

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 Public debt in relation to the GDP
Japan 249.34%
Lebanon 142.57%
Italy 133.03%
Portugal 127.94%
Eritrea 125.56%
Jamaica 123.09%
Bhutan 122.01%
Cabo Verde 121.67%
United States 107.49%
Belgium 106.76%
Barbados 105.75%
Cyprus 99.25%
Spain 99.04%
Singapore 98.24%
France 98.21%
The Gambia 96.89%
Antigua and Barbuda 95.57%
Ukraine 92.8%
Iraq 92.46%
Belize 92.43%
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