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WSJ—New Chinese government figures show its national debt load remains low compared with other major economies. But including the debts of local governments and many parts of the state-owned banking sector, as many economists say is proper, shows the constraints facing Beijing in the fight against inflation, its top economic priority.

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In a report issued during the annual session of the National People's Congress, China's legislature, the Ministry of Finance said central government debt at the end of 2010 was $1.03 trillion. That number is equal to about 17% of China's gross domestic product, far below the levels of the U.S., Japan, and major European countries.

China's government debt is mostly held domestically. In contrast, about half of the U.S. federal government's debt is held by China and other foreigners, a source of anxiety among policy makers and the public who fear it makes the U.S. vulnerable to pressure from foreign creditors.

What I'm thinking at this moment: In the short but brilliant book The Violence of Financial Capitalism, the Italian economist Christian Marazzi writes about "becoming-rent of capitalism." The idea, as I have said in another post, is this:

Since the 70s, wages in capitalists societies have been pretty much stagnant. And yet, capitalists profits increased over this time. How did this happen? Instead of increasing wages, capitalist offered private indebtedness—credit cards, home equity loans, and so on. In a larger sense, this meant the financialization of the entire society. In a direct or personal sense, this meant you could only rent your wage increase—not own it outright.
Can we also see the enormous American debt that China holds as a symptom of this "becoming-rent of capitalism." China represents something like the becoming-of rent of superpower status?