China Currently Owns Nearly $1.17 Trillion in US Debt

The Treasury Department recently released the May 2012 Major Foreign Holders of Treasury Securities report.

Foreign ownership of US debt totaled $5.264 trillion in May, up from $5.209 trillion in April. Of the $5.264 trillion total, $3.451 trillion was held in T-Bonds & Notes.

Of the ten largest foreign holders of US debt in May, seven added to their positions. The United Kingdom added the most as a percentage of their existing holdings, as they increased their US debt position by 18.63%.

Let's take a look at the top ten foreign holders of US debt as of May and how their positions changed from the previous month:

China, $1.1696 trillion, +0.45%
Japan, $1.1052 trillion, +1.41%
Oil Exporters, $260.9 billion, +1.48%
Brazil, $243.4 billion, -1.02%
All Other, $229.9 billion, +2.27%
Carib Bnkng Ctrs, $229.8 billion, -3.2%
Taiwan, +187.6 billion, +0.16%
United Kingdom, $161.1 billion, +18.63%
Russia, $154.1 billion, -0.84%
Switzerland, $150.5 billion, +0.27%

Here are the YoY (Year Over Year) changes for the top ten:

China, +0.35%
Japan, +21.3%
Oil Exporters, +11.93%
Brazil, +17.53%
All Other, +27.58%
Carib Bnkng Ctrs, +56.22%
Taiwan, +22.29%
United Kingdom, -53.57%
Russia, +39.21%
Switzerland, +39.35%

Total foreign ownership of US debt increased by roughly $700 billion over the past year.

China has slowed their purchases over the past 12 months, while other countries (especially Japan) have continued to snap up US debt.

As you can probably notice, there is a massive gap between China, Japan and everybody else. China and Japan currently account for over 40% of all foreign US debt ownership.

It is extraordinarily important for the US that countries such as Japan, China, Brazil and others continue to accumulate US debt, as the country is not expected to post a surplus anytime soon.

Source: Largest Foreign Holders of US Debt