China’s Holdings of U.S. Debt Down 11.5%

By Terence P. Jeffrey | October 23, 2018 | 12:21pm EDT
Chinese President Xi Jinping (Screen Capture)

( - Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury securities are 11.5 percent below their peak level which was attained in November 2013, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury.

U.S. government debt held by entities in the People’s Republic of China peaked at $1,316,700,000,000 in November 2013, according to the Treasury. As of August 2018, according to the latest date released by the Treasury this month, China held $1,165,100,000,000 in U.S. Treasury.

That is a drop of $151,600,000,000 from the November 2013 peak.

Despite that decline, China remains the top foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities.

According to the latest Treasury data released this month, entities in Japan are the second largest holders of U.S. government debt—with $1,029,900,000,000 in Treasury securities as of August. Brazil ranks a distant third with $317,800,000,000. Ireland is fourth with $315,800,000,000.

Saudi Arabia is now the tenth largest holder of U.S. Treasury securities. In June, it eclipsed Taiwan, which had previously been the tenth largest holder of U.S. Treasury securities. Saudi Arabia has been increasing its holdings of U.S. debt this year, while Taiwan has been decreasing its holdings. In January, Saudi Arabia held $143,600,000,000 in U.S. debt, according to the Treasury. By August, it had increased that by $25,900,000,000--or 18 percent--to $169,500,000,000.

By contrast, in January, Taiwan owned $175,400,000,000 in U.S. debt. By August it had reduced that by $12,200,000,000--or about 7 percent--to $163,200,000,000.

While China remains the top foreign owner of U.S. government debt—despite its declining holdings—the Federal Reserve still owns far more. As of the end of November, according to the Federal Reserve, it owned $2,324,589,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities.

China’s $1,165,100,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities was only 50.1 percent of the Fed’s holdings.

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