Having debt is never a good thing, but it's been a particularly touchy subject over in Europe.
Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and now Spain have all succumbed to unsustainable debt levels, and that has left many American citizens wondering if we're headed down a similar path.
When the U.S. government chose to raise the debt ceiling last August for the 78th time since 1960, U.S. debt stood at $14.3 trillion. Of that total, nearly $10 trillion is held by individuals and corporations, as well as by state, local, and foreign governments. According to U.S. government statistics through mid-2011, China is the largest public debt holder, with $1.13 trillion -- slightly higher than the $1.11 trillion U.S. citizens and corporations own in U.S. debt.
China ranks behind only the Social Security Trust and the Federal Reserve (which only owns U.S. bonds as part of its two quantitative easing measures) in terms of total U.S. debt holdings. As the U.S. continues to drive further into debt, China stands ready to keep collecting the interest.