China Owned $1.15 Trillion in US Treasury Securities in January

Pie Graph - China and Japan - IllustrationThe US Treasury Department released their "Major Foreign Holders of Treasury Securities" for January earlier today.

China continues to sit at the top of the list with total US debt holdings of approximately $1.15 trillion. This total is down 0.47% from December and up 31.59% from January of 2010.

Last month, the Treasury Department announced that China's US debt holdings were much higher than previously thought. The reason? China was apparently using UK-based money managers to snap up hundreds of billions of dollars of US debt. These buys were initially credited to the United Kingdom (which is why their US debt holdings mysteriously skyrocketed by over 200% in 2010). The Treasury Department recalculated the results and credited China with the large majority of these buys that were made through UK money managers.

Anyways, back to the list..

Japan slightly increased their holdings of US debt in January to $885.9 billion, adding 0.41% to their existing position. It's important to note that Japan's debt holdings may drop over the coming months as they deal with a massive earthquake that has devastated their country. It's probably logical to assume that Japan will be looking to raise money to help pay for the damage that has been inflicted on their country. At the very least, I would expect Japan's US debt purchases to slow to a trickle over the coming months (their US debt holdings are up 15.32% Year over Year).

Here is the rest of the top 10 foreign holders of US debt, according to the Treasury Department:

Country | Holdings | Month Over Month | Change YoY

1. China, $1.15 Trillion, -0.47%, +31.59%
2. Japan, $885.9 Billion, +0.41%, +15.32%
3. United Kingdom, $278.4 Billion, +2.32%, +19.23%
4. Oil Exporters, $215.5 Billion, +1.7%, +1.7%
5. Brazil, $197.6 Billion, +6.18%, +15.62%
6. All Other, $194.4 Billion, +0.73%, +20%
7. Carib Banking Centers, $166.5 Billion, -0.95%, +15.3%
8. Taiwan, $157.2 Billion, +1.35%, +29.49%
9. Russia, $139.3 Billion, -7.75%, +15.89%
10. Hong Kong, $128.1 Billion, -4.55%, -15.94%

You can view the entire list by clicking on the link below.


Thanks to massive deficit spending, the United States needs for countries such as China and Japan to continue buying up massive piles of US debt. As you can see from the YoY (Year over Year) numbers above, many countries obliged, adding 15-20%+ to their holdings of Treasury securities over the past year.

With the current situation in Japan, it will be interesting to see how this impacts their holdings of US debt over the next year.

One more note - foreign holdings of US debt totaled $4.45 trillion in January of 2011, up from $3.7 trillion in January of 2010.

Source: Largest Foreign Holders of US Debt

Filed under: General Knowledge

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