China Flexes Financial Muscle
Posted on Feb 17, 2010
News that China sold $34 billion in U.S. government bonds at the end of last year has raised the fears of analysts, some of whom think that the move—which involved less than 5 percent of the overall amount of bonds held by China—is meant to signal a loss of confidence in U.S. economic policy.
The sale caused China to fall from being the world’s largest overseas holder of U.S. government bonds (Japan moved to the No. 1 spot) and thus represented a development that journalists were eager to write stories about. Like this one. —JCL
China sold $34bn (£21.5bn) worth of US government bonds in December, raising fears that Beijing is using its financial muscle to signal that it has lost confidence in American economic policy.
US treasury figures for the period ending in December 2009 show that, following the sale, China is no longer the largest overseas holder of US treasury bonds. Beijing ended the year sitting on $755.4bn worth of US government debt, compared to Japan’s $768.8bn.
Since the sub-prime crisis that began on Main Street USA grew to engulf the global economy, China’s leaders have repeatedly expressed concerns about US policy. December’s $34bn sell-off made only a tiny dent in Beijing’s total holdings of US assets, which amount to well over $1tn when stakes in American companies, as well as treasury bills, are taken into account.
United States Treasury
An early 19th century note that was a precursor to the U.S. Treasury bonds that China sold in December.