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Who holds federal debt?


Yes. You’re seeing it right: FRED now features pie charts! This chart shows who holds federal debt, which excludes federal debt held within the federal government itself but includes debt held by local and state governments and public entities. Close to half is held by foreign investors, about a fifth by the Federal Reserve, and the rest by domestic investors. Unfortunately, the Treasury doesn’t specifically provide the amount of debt held by private domestic investors alone, so that has to be calculated, as shown here.

How this graph was created: Choose the series “Federal Debt Held by Federal Reserve Banks” and “Federal Debt Held by Foreign & International Investors.” Now, to create the series that shows only private domestic holders of federal debt, select “Federal Debt Held by Private Investors” and then use “Add data series, modify existing series” to include “Federal Debt Held by Foreign & International Investors.” Apply the data transformation a-b and then select graph type “pie,” which will default to the last observation.

Also: To see how the debt holdings have evolved, click on “customize” below the graph and change the graph settings to graph type “line,” “area” or “bar,” and then expand the date range. Set stacking to “percent” to see how the relative shares have evolved.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann

View on FRED, series used in this post: FDHBFIN, FDHBFRBN, FDHBPIN


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