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20 nations with the highest debt

Last updated on: November 17, 2011 09:36 IST

20 nations with the highest debt

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1. United States

The US government's debt load topped the $15 trillion mark on Thursday (November 17), as leaders continued to debate over how to cut spending.

According to figures released by the US Treasury, the burden of federal borrowing on American taxpayers touched $15,033,607,255,920.32 on Wednesday, up $55.8 billion from Tuesday.

Economists said this was a very unhealthy state of US finances. The debt, they said, is approximately equal to 99 per cent of the size of the country's economy.

US debt has steadily climbed since August, when Congress agreed to raise the country's official debt ceiling from the then-$14.3 trillion to $15.194 trillion.

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Image: A man holds a sign asking for assistance outside a Shoe Pavilion store that is going out of business in San Francisco.
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters.
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2. United Kingdom

Debt
: $8.981 trillion
Per capita debt: $144,338
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 400

Britain's economy has also plunged into deep crisis. The budget deficit has risen to more than 156 billion pounds.

The manufacturing output fell by 0.4 per cent in June from the previous month as there is a drastic fall in domestic demand. The country GDP is expected to fall further.

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Image: Demonstrators rest after a protest over pension reforms in London.
Photographs: Olivia Harris/Reuters.
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3. Germany

Debt: $4.713 trillion
Per capita debt: $57,755
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 142

Germany which bounced back from the 2008 recession has largely remained immune to the crisis.

However, the US downgrade and mounting debt on other Euro zone nations could hit its coffers as well.

Germany already bears the burden of the 120 billion euros of the euro bailout fund's 440 billion euros. Germany's budget deficit is 2.3 per cent of gross domestic product.

IMAGE: The words read: "Ending poverty is my priority".

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Image: Activists from Oxfam dressed as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former President George W Bush.
Photographs: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters.
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20 nations with the highest debt

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4. France

Debt: $4.698 trillion
Per capita debt: $74,619
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 182

A crisis is imminent in France as its budget deficit is 6 per cent of gross domestic product.

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Image: A homeless man lies in front of the Louvre Hotel in Paris.
Photographs: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters.
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5. The Netherlands

Debt: $3.733
Per capita debt: 225,814
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 471

The global financial crisis has hit The Netherlands badly. The Dutch economy entered recession in the fourth quarter of 2008.

In 2009, however, the GDP growth slipped by 3.9 per cent.  The economy recovered slowly in 2010. In the third quarter the economy grew by 1.8 per cent.

The nationalisation of banks has dented the state's finances.

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Photographs: Jerry Lampen/Reuters.
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6. Japan

Debt: $2.441 trillion
Per capita debt: $19,148
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 45

The devastating earthquake and tsunami has pushed the Japanese economy into a grave crisis.

Japan's high rate of growth has also been hit with massive bank loan defaults.

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Image: A homeless man sleeps at a park in Tokyo.
Photographs: Toru Hanai/Reuters.
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7. Ireland

Debt: $2.253 trillion
Per capita debt: $503,914
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 103

Ireland faced a recession in September 2008, followed by a rise unemployment. Ireland was the first state in the Eurozone to enter recession.

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Image: Homeless people beg for money on O'Connell bridge in central Dublin.
Photographs: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters.
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8. Norway

Debt: $2.232 trillion
Per capita debt: $454,768
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 538

Norway escaped largely unhurt from the economic crisis. Unlike other debt-ridden nations, Norway is not a member of the Eurozone. It has its own currency, the Norwegian krone.

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Image: A general view shows the Norway pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo site.
Photographs: Aly Song/Reuters.
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9. Italy

Debt: $2.223 trillion
Per capita debt: $36,841
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 108

Italy's economy has seen one of the lowest growth rates in the world. A very high public debt highlights the fact the country cannot repay back its debt. The country lacks the resources to accelerate growth.

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10. Spain

Debt: $2.166 trillion
Per capita debt: $47,069
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 154

In Spain, long term loans, realty sector crash and bankruptcy of major companies, rise in unemployment at 13.9 per cent in February 2009 escalated the crisis.

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Image: Euro notes are spread out at a bank branch in Madrid.
Photographs: Andrea Comas/Reuters.
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11. Luxembourg

Debt: $1.892 trillion
Per capita debt: $3,759,174
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 3,443

Luxembourg has experienced a severe recession after the global financial crisis.

Luxembourg, being a financial nerve centre was badly affected b the recession. The pace of growth slowed down and unemployment increased.

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Image: Luxembourg.

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12. Belgium

Debt: 1.241 trillion
Per capita debt: $113,603
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 266

Belgium is in deep crisis after market traders pushed the cost of insuring the country's debt to record highs.

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Image: Anti-poverty organisations from Europe protest against the gap of 75 bn euros in aid by EU states.
Photographs: Sebastien Pirlet/Reuters.
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13. Switzerland

Debt: $1.200 trillion
Per capita debt: $154,063
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 229

Many of the European nations living beyond their means by borrowing huge funds are struggling to streamline the economy. Swiss banks that suffered from the financial crisis were bailed out.

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Image: A woman demonstrates in front of Swiss bank UBS headquarters in Zurich.
Photographs: Christian Hartmann/Reuters.
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14. Australia

Debt: $1.169 trillion
Per capita debt: $52,596
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 95

The Australian economy's slow performance resulted in a sharp fall in the Australian dollar.
Australia's real GDP growth will be 2 per cent this calendar year and 3.5 per cent next year.

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Image: A woman walks past a closing store in east Sydney.
Photographs: Daniel Munoz/Reuters.
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15. Canada

Debt: $1.009 trillion
Per capita debt: $29,625
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 64

Though battered by the 2008 global financial crisis, the Canadian economy has emerged as one of the strongest advanced economies in the world.

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Image: A man holds a sign reading American Jobless Wanted in Toronto.
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16. Sweden

Debt: $853.30 billion
Per capita debt: $91,487
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 187

Sweden went through a bad spell between 1990 and 1993. Its GDP went down by 5 per cent and unemployment rose to record highs. The real estate boom also crashed adding to its economic woes.

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Image: Stockholm Stock Exchange Building.

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17. Austria

Debt: $755 billion
Per capita debt: $90,128
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 200

Austria's economic growth received a jolt with the global financial crisis in 2007-2008.

Falling domestic employment, fall in spending by households and enterprises pushes the economy into crisis.

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Image: Several one euro coins are pictured in flames in this illustration photo taken in Vienna.
Photographs: Lisi Niesner/Reuters.
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18. Denmark

Debt: $559.50 billion
Per capita debt: $101,084
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 180

Denmark's economic woes started in 2007 with the crash of the housing sector. Housing prices dropped in 2008-09.

The global financial crisis further hit its prospects. In 2010, Denmark saw a slight recovery.

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Image: Denmark Stock Exchange.

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19. Greece

Debt: $532.90
Per capita debt: $47,636
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 174

Greece is going through its worst years. Uncontrolled spending and cheap lending has seen its debt levels zoom to scary heights.

Also, the failure to implement financial reforms has resulted in losses of $413.6 billion, much larger than the country's economy.

Greece and Ireland have the highest poverty rate in the 15-member EU, while Sweden has the lowest at 9 per cent.

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Image: A beggar stretches out a hand as she sits on a central Athens street.
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20. Portugal

Debt: $497.80
Per capita debt: $46,795
Debt as in percentage of GDP: 217

Portugal's economy has posted an average annual growth of less than 1 percent over the past 10 years.

The country faces a huge foreign debt owning to reckless spending without generating any returns. Portugal is set to introduce austerity measures including tax hikes and pay cuts.


Image: A man begs for money beside people using automated teller machines in downtown Lisbon.
Photographs: Jose Manuel Ribeiro/Reuters.
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