There have been many stories written about the huge public debt of the U.S. Newbie investors in Singapore are sometimes ill-advised by the so-called “more experienced” investors to completely avoid investing in the U.S. for this reason, much to the detriment of the portfolio’s diversification.
To be sure, the public debt of the U.S. is huge in absolute dollars, but we need to take into account the economic capability of the country when evaluating the public debt. For example a $10k-debt is much more inflicting to a person earning $30k a year compared to another person earning $300k a year.
To this end, let’s look at the percentage of a country’s public debt to its gross domestic product. The figure below, which I obtained from Wikipedia, illustrates this.
The numbers for the top 58 countries are given below.
The U.S. is ranked 35 on the public debt / gross GDP scale, at 64.7%. Interestingly, Singapore is ranked the 11th most public-debt-versus-gross-GDP nation at 102.9%. And its neighbor Malaysia, has less than half of Singapore’s debt ratio, at 46.2%.
All numbers are estimates for 2005.
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