This post on HubPages deals with the national debt and who owns it:
Here it is from PBS NewsHour. (Just in case you’re wondering, The Christian Science Monitor and a lot of well-known economists agree.)
Who Owns Our National Debt?
Included in the 16 Trillion dollars of the U.S. national debt are pension funds owed to people who one day hope/plan to retire. Investors in insurance companies, banks, and holders of mutual funds are also included. They bought into the fund and now they are owed money, which is included in the U.S. national debt.
People who have invested in or purchased Treasury Notes or municipal bonds own part of our national debt. You know the bonds that cities (maybe yours) make available for sale to people like you when they want to build a new school or add another fire station in a newly developed subdivision?
According to PBSNewsHour: “State and local governments, for example, including their pension funds, hold about $700 billion; mutual funds, nearly $900 billion; private pension funds, $600 billion; banks, $300 billion or so; insurance companies, $260 billion.
Add in personal holders of U.S. savings bonds — another $185 billion — and individuals, government-sponsored enterprises, brokers and dealers, bank personal trusts and estates, corporate and non-corporate businesses, and other investors in Treasurys, and you’ve got an additional $1.4 trillion or so. Hit the calculator: $4.3 trillion more in money Americans essentially owe — to Americans.
Grand subtotal thus far: $11 trillion — two-thirds of the total.”
The U.S. Treasury breaks down foreign debt: