China and US Treasuries

As I write this in Q2 2018, non-agency US federal debt is estimated at $21,120,516,214,632.52, or about $64,727 per person in the US. What fraction of that $21.1 trillion debt do you suppose is held by the Chinese? Go ahead, guess, I’ll wait. No idea? Does this from a recent Reuters piece that ran in the NY Times help? (Hint: not really.) China held around [redacted] trillion of Treasuries as of the end of January, making it the largest of America’s foreign creditors and the No. 2 overall owner of U.S. government bonds after the Federal Reserve. Any move by China to chop its Treasury portfolio could inflict significant harm on U.S. finances and global investors, driving bond yields higher and making it more costly to finance the federal government. Ready to guess now? Answer below. China holds about $1.17 trillion in US debt – about five percent of the total, just a bit ahead of Japan. Is that enough to create a run on US Treasuries? I’m a bit dubious,…

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