Japan is Back on Top as Holder of U.S. Debt

Move over, Beijing. Japan now owns more U.S. government debt than any other country, ending China’s six-year run as the top foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries.
Data from the Treasury Department released Wednesday show that Japan owned $1.2244 trillion worth of U.S. government securities at the end of February, compared to $1.2237 trillion for China.

Both countries unloaded U.S. debt during the month of January, but China sold more, making Japan the top U.S. creditor for the first time since the financial crisis.

The Treasury data should be taken with a grain of salt: Transactions carried out by other nations on behalf of China and Japan aren’t included, making the final tally more of an educated guess.

But the Japan-China switch is backed by larger trends, and changes in the way Beijing manages its foreign reserves. Treasury data show that over the past year, China’s U.S. debt holdings dropped by $49.2 billion, while Japan’s increased by $13.6 billion.

China had been buying Treasuries as a way to keep its currency, the yuan, pegged to the U.S. dollar.

That helped lower the value of the yuan and made China’s exports more competitive in foreign markets.
But in recent years, partly due to U.S. pressure and partly as an effort to curb its own inflation, China has allowed the yuan to rise in value.

via CNN

Alfonso Esparza

Alfonso Esparza

Senior Currency Analyst at Market Pulse
Alfonso Esparza specializes in macro forex strategies for North American and major currency pairs. Upon joining OANDA in 2007, Alfonso Esparza established the MarketPulseFX blog and he has since written extensively about central banks and global economic and political trends. Alfonso has also worked as a professional currency trader focused on North America and emerging markets. He holds a finance degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) and an MBA with a specialization on financial engineering and marketing from the University of Toronto.
Alfonso Esparza