Countries With the Largest Debt to GDP Ratios

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calculated according to Public Debt. source
Quiz by kalbahamut
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Last updated: April 2, 2014
First submittedMarch 26, 2013
Times taken1,156
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Debt/GDP
Region
Answer
218.9%
Asia
Japan
202.7%
Africa
Zimbabwe
161.3%
Europe
Greece
144.0%
Caribbean
Saint Kitts and Nevis
130.0%
Caribbean
Antigua and Barbuda
127.9%
Asia
Lebanon
127.3%
Caribbean
Jamaica
126.1%
Europe
Italy
119.7%
Europe
Portugal
118.9%
Europe
Iceland
118.0%
Africa
Eritrea
118.0%
Europe
Ireland
110.0%
Caribbean
Grenada
106.5%
Asia
Singapore
101.1%
Europe
Belgium
Debt/GDP
Region
Answer
90.8%
North America
Belize
89.3%
Africa
Sudan
89.1%
Europe
France
88.7%
Europe
United Kingdom
85.0%
Africa
Egypt
84.1%
North America
Canada
83.2%
Europe
Spain
83.1%
Caribbean
Barbados
83.1%
Africa
Cape Verde
81.3%
Europe
Hungary
80.9%
?
Cyprus
80.5%
Europe
Germany
79.0%
Asia
Sri Lanka
78.0%
Caribbean
Dominica
77.0%
Europe
Malta
+1
Level 48
Apr 2, 2014
I'm curious to know what exactly these statistics mean. I understand GDP of course, but what exactly is being counted as debt? Does it include debt of individual citizens (the entire public) or is it only related to government debt? In either case, it's surprising to not see the US on the list since everyone makes a big deal about the US national debt. I know Japan has its financial woes with price deflation, so is that what's influencing their huge debt/GDP ratio? What about Singapore, which I always thought had a strong economy — or does high debt/GDP ratio not necessarily correlate with economic difficulty?
+1
Level 79
Apr 2, 2014
Public Debt for the purposes of this quiz means debt held by the federal government. It does not include the debt of individual citizens, and if it did then I think the US probably would be on the list as Americans tend to carry a lot of debt.

Of course economists rarely agree on anything and there is debate as to how much national debt is healthy for an economy, but most concur that carrying some debt is actually a good thing for various reasons, but that once that debt starts to exceed about 100% of GDP (this part is debated) it can cause problems.
Yes, the US talks a lot about its debt crisis, but the US also has an enormous and robust economy and a gargantuan GDP. Compared to many nations on this list the American economy is very healthy. While there is certainly some cause for concern about rising deficits in the USA, mostly this is exaggerated by those who wish to use fear of debt as an excuse to dismantle parts of the government they don't like.
+1
Level 79
Apr 2, 2014
As to Japan's currency concerns, this is part of it. Inflation can actually be a good thing for countries with large national debts as it helps mitigate the cost of paying interest, but the Yen has been very strong lately which is bad for the debt and also means Japanese exports are less attractive overseas; big problem because overseas exports are a huge part of the Japanese economy. However the main reason Japan's public debt is so high is because the government there believes in very aggressive public spending programs. Economists are split on whether or not this will ultimately be good or bad for Japan and also on whether or not the Japanese economy has performed well or badly over the last two decades.
+1
Level 79
Apr 2, 2014
There are different ways to measure and I'm not sure I understand the difference but I was using the CIA data here.

Using the IMF data the USA ranks higher on the list, 11th or 12th worldwide.
+1
Level 79
Apr 2, 2014
"This entry records the cumulative total of all government borrowings less repayments that are denominated in a country's home currency. Public debt should not be confused with external debt, which reflects the foreign currency liabilities of both the private and public sector and must be financed out of foreign exchange earnings."

The above is from the CIA World Fact Book page. Maybe the IMF data also includes external debt in foreign currencies, or does not factor in repayments. I'm not sure.
+1
Level 36
Apr 30, 2014
Cyprus is Eurasia middle eastern
+2
Level 79
May 1, 2014
According to you, maybe, but ask someone else and you'll get a different answer. Continental classification is highly subjective.
+1
Level 63
Nov 14, 2014
Kalbahamut - I thoroughly enjoy your quizzes and commentary throughout this site. Thank you!
+1
Level 79
Nov 14, 2014
Nice to have fans.