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U.S. Debt Holders
Major Foreign Holders of Treasury Securities
China’s holdings of U.S. bonds, notes and bills increased to $1.19 trillion, according to the latest data released Friday by the Treasury Department.
So I thought we’d take a look at the overall top holders, though it’s confusing, as I’ll attempt to explain below.
Oct. 2017 vs. Oct. 2016 (billions of dollars)
China 1189.2 vs. 1115.7
Japan 1093.9 vs. 1131.9
Ireland 312.4 vs. 273.9
Brazil 270.0 vs. 254.7
Cayman Islands 269.9 vs. 262.2
Switzerland 254.0 vs. 235.6
U.K. 225.9 vs. 207.3
Luxembourg 217.9 vs. 217.8
Hong Kong 192.3 vs. 186.3
Taiwan 181.7 vs. 188.6
Saudi Arabia 145.2 vs. 96.7
India 141.4 vs. 123.0
Singapore 130.4 vs. 99.2
Belgium 116.0 vs. 116.9
Russia 105.0 vs. 74.6
Korea 100.1 vs. 86.7
When it comes to Europe’s holdings the confusion is over where the securities are held, which may not represent the actual country of origin. Some foreign owners entrust the safekeeping of their securities to institutions that are neither in the U.S. nor in the owner’s country of residence. For example, a German investor may buy a U.S. security and place it in the custody of a Swiss bank. In the surveys of foreign holdings of U.S. securities, such a holding is recorded against Switzerland rather than Germany. This “custodial bias” contributes to the large recorded foreign holdings of U.S. securities in major financial centers, such as Belgium, the Caribbean banking centers, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Because cross-border securities transactions take place disproportionately in major international financial centers such as the United Kingdom and the Caribbean, large net transactions in those areas do not necessarily reflect acquisitions or sales by investors in those areas.
Wall Street History will return with the final 2017 numbers by Jan. 2.