national debt

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The debt of a country's government. This may be owed to residents or foreign lenders. In some countries net national debt is smaller than the apparent total, as some government securities are held by other public bodies such as civil service pension funds. In other cases the true national debt is higher than the apparent figures, due to government guarantees of the debts of other bodies such as local governments and state-owned industries. If national debt is held by foreigners, the whole of the interest and redemption payments are claims on national resources. Where the debt is held domestically, the real burden of debt is only the deadweight losses due to the taxes needed to service it.

Subjects: Economics.

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