The World around Us

Anticipating that few readers follow the mariner’s comments further by pursuing the related links, the mariner has copied in full an article from Fareed Zacharia’s online GPS:

04:30 PM ET Share this on: Facebook, Twitter, Digg,, reddit, MySpace, StumbleUpon

Editor’s Note: The following piece comes from Global Post, which provides excellent coverage of world news – importantmoving and odd.

By Tom Mucha, Global Post

Truth is elusive.  But it’s a good thing we have math.

Our friends at Business Insider know this, and put those two principles to work today in this excellent and highly informative little slideshow, made even more timely by the ongoing talks in Washington, D.C. aimed at staving off a U.S. debt default.

Here’s the big idea:

Many people — politicians and pundits alike — prattle on that China and, to a lesser extent Japan, own most of America’s $14.3 trillion in government debt.

But there’s one little problem with that conventional wisdom: it’s just not true. While the Chinese, Japanese and plenty of other foreigners own substantial amounts, it’s really Americans who hold most of America’s debt.

Here’s a quick and fascinating breakdown by total amount held and percentage of total U.S. debt, according to Business Insider

  • Hong Kong: $121.9 billion (0.9 percent)
  • Caribbean banking centers: $148.3 (1 percent)
  • Taiwan: $153.4 billion (1.1 percent)
  • Brazil: $211.4 billion (1.5 percent)
  • Oil exporting countries: $229.8 billion (1.6 percent)
  • Mutual funds: $300.5 billion (2 percent)
  • Commercial banks: $301.8 billion (2.1 percent)
  • State, local and federal retirement funds: $320.9 billion (2.2 percent)
  • Money market mutual funds: $337.7 billion (2.4 percent)
  • United Kingdom: $346.5 billion (2.4 percent)
  • Private pension funds: $504.7 billion (3.5 percent)
  • State and local governments: $506.1 billion (3.5 percent)
  • Japan: $912.4 billion (6.4 percent)
  • U.S. households: $959.4 billion (6.6 percent)
  • China: $1.16 trillion (8 percent)
  • The U.S. Treasury: $1.63 trillion (11.3 percent)
  • Social Security trust fund: $2.67 trillion (19 percent)

So America owes foreigners about $4.5 trillion in debt. But America owes America $9.8 trillion.

And to bone up on China’s debt – another potentially big global economic headache — check out this interview with brainy-yet-coherent Northwestern University economist Victor Shih, who spoke with GlobalPost’s David Case.

End Excerpt

This list of US indebtedness by nation is hard to find. Further, to have easy access to two of the highest regarded specialists on debt and international economics is comparable to achieving a minor in international studies.

We may as well stay with Fareed; he had an excellent show today (6/5/16).

Two books are recommended as well which are contemporary to the extent that the content is almost newsworthy on the daily news channels. The first book is Zachary Karabell’s The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World.

The second book was mentioned on GPS. (the mariner watched an interview on CSPAN with author Anja Manuel, This Brave New World: India, China and the United States by Anja Manuel, Hardcover. $20.25.) One cannot be prepared for our near future without reading Manuel’s book (received 27 outstanding reviews). For instance, India is about to have more citizens than China; the battle for economic supremacy between China and India depends on who has more toilets – a point raised by Fareed when he quoted her book on GPS. Anja Manuel writes that toilets have become an economic indicator that influences the degree of worker health, improves travel from other countries, and improves quality of life generally – not to mention improvement in water quality and infrastructure.

Between the Tom Mucha post, the interviews with Diamond and Shih, and the CSPAN interview with Manuel, one will likely know enough to be their own expert. At least, maybe, know as much as Donald!

Speaking of candidates for the Presidency, a new player has been picked up by our ever alert news media: Gary Johnson – the Libertarian candidate for President. Johnson is polling at 10% and could be a real spoiler for Donald – and Hillary as well although her odds for surviving Donald and Gary are less troubling.

What makes Gary potent is he sounds intelligent, stable, and defends a very liberal social policy. Perhaps a sign of concern is his classic Libertarian position on the economy, taxes and government. His sense of government obligation is military. That’s it – military. Forget anything that hints of discretionary programs, special assistance (Social Security? No). Global Warming is Earth’s problem. Yet he comes across in TV interviews as a sensible person who does not advocate military action around the world; something that is soothing in contrast to the Obama/Clinton doctrine and whatever Armageddon Donald has planned.

Gary once was the Governor of New Mexico. He didn’t fit well. US voters must remember that the conservative branch of the Republican Party will not vote Libertarian because economically the conservative republicans are too liberal. Let’s hope there are a number of three-way debates. It should be interesting.

Ancient Mariner



1 thought on “The World around Us

  1. Oh, my–if we aren’t drowning in water, we are drowning in debt. What to do? What to do? Perhaps Chicken Little, Amos, and Guru could put their heads together and suggest a survival strategy for those of us who are not in a position to effect global change. Plant a garden? Buy gold? Go off the grid? Raise sheep in the backyard and learn to knit before the ice age cometh? A post with practical advice would be appreciated!

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