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THE ISSUES

Originally Published: 4/16/2013

MAJOR HOLDERS OF TREASURY SECURITIES
(In Millions of Dollars)

 
FFY
2008
FFY
2009
FFY
2010
FFY
2011
FFY
2012
SUMMARY of DEBT
Total Public Debt 1
5,814,240
7,544,537
3,558,790
10,157,000
11,280,00
Public Issue Held by
Federal Reserve Board 2
484,486
894,655
909,910
522,731
1,639,000
Public Debt Securities
5,329,754
6,649,882
8,108,090
 
9,634,269
9,641,000
 
HOLDERS OF DEBT 3
United States
2,302,954
3,090,782
3,558,790
4,963,469
4,106,400
FOREIGN 4
Mainland China
652,900
938,300
1,175,300
1,134,100
1,169,900
Japan
582,000
742,900
873,600
979,000
1,139,900
Caribbean Banking Centers 6
219,300
114,000
146,300
175,200
273,500
OPEC
187,600
209,000
207,800
226,200
262,200
Brazil
134,500
164,900
183,000
209,100
254,100
Taiwan
39,100
115,600
154,500
150,100
197,200
Switzerland
61,200
85,200
107,700
131,700
187,800
Russia
80,900
145,900
176,300
92,100
171,100
Luxembourg
81,400
79,500
78,500
72,300
144,700
Hong Kong
65,200
137,800
135,200
110,700
138,500
Belgium
12,800
16,900
33,400
36,100
136,400
United Kingdom 5
357,200
105,700
209,200
411,200
133,200
Singapore
32,600
36,300
66,400
63,700
97,500
Ireland
29,000
42,600
48,900
37,900
97,400
Norway
50,500
7,300
18,000
19,900
75,500
Germany
42,900
47,900
58,200
60,900
64,000
India
12,200
35,800
40,000
35,500
56,600
Mexico
33,100
26,500
34,800
26,800
59,200
France 7
-
29,100
23,500
48,000
58,700
Thailand
34,800
28,000
52,600
55,900
58,600
Canada
18,600
44,800
66,200
86,100
58,300
Turkey
27,600
30,300
27,800
39,700
51,600
Korea
32,100
43,300
39,400
37,800
42,200
Philippines 7
-
11,400
18,500
25,500
36,900
Chile
14,900
12,400
13,400
28,100
30,900
Poland
11,400
21,900
28,800
26,100
30,400
Netherlands
13,000
20,500
22,000
22,500
30,700
Columbia 7
-
18,300
16,700
21,700
29,900
Sweden
11,500
15,300
16,100
21,500
29,000
Spain
-
-
-
9,300
25,300
Australia 7
-
12,800
15,700
14,700
26,700
Israel 7
-
14,500
17,900
14,700
28,900
Italy
14,000
21,600
23,700
24,200
28,000
Malaysia 7
-
11,700
11,600
14,400
19,500
Denmark
-
-
-
-
14,900
Peru
-
-
-
-
13,400
South Africa
-
-
-
-
12,800
All others
174,500
158,000
201,500
208,100
246,200
Total Foreign Holders
3,026,800
3,559,100
4,373,000
4,670,800
5,534,600
 
 
 
 
 
 
PUBLIC DEBT SECURITIES
5,329,754
6,649,882
8,108,090
9,634,269
9,641,000
 


NOTE TO THE READER:
I have endeavored to get the most accurate numbers, but I found that this is an almost an impossible task. Numerous telephone calls to the U.S. Treasury Department and its Bureau of Public Debt and International Capital System resulted in various answers to questions. Why certain numbers on one table do not match to the same titled numbers on another table could not be explained. What is included or excluded in some numbers could not be explained. What should be included to get an accurate "Public Debt" amount was basically unknown. I have pieced together what I could, based on the information that was given to me, and highly footnoted everything. I encourage everyone who has a couple of weeks with nothing to do and a high tolerance for frustration to try to get the numbers themselves. ALSO: The entire system was changed in 2001 so attempting to get comparable numbers prior to that date proved far too frustrating. I'm sure we could go back and get something that had been reported prior to 2001, and I'm sure it would provide some interesting information, but it could not be placed in a table like this as it would probably result in comparing apples to oranges.

Also, the most recent year will be in the order of the most securities owned.


1 Source: U.S. Treasury report entitled "Federal Debt," Table FD-1. Reported numbers are for the end of each federal fiscal year, which is September 30. This does not include agency debt, which is incurred by U.S. agencies, such as the Farm Credit System, Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), and Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLB). These debts are not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States as are public securities. However, it could be argued that the United States government would not let these debts go unpaid and would honor the debt should the agency go into default.

2 Source: U.S. Treasury report entitled "Ownership of Federal Securities," Table OFS-1. These are public securities that the Federal Reserve Banks are holding and are, therefore, not being held by the public. Therefore, I have removed this amount from the calculation.

In addition, amounts called "Nonmarketable" were not removed from the equation. While these securities were not sold on the open market, they were sold through other arrangements and are held primarily by foreign governments.

3 The foreign holdings are from a U.S. Treasury Report entitled "Major Foreign Holders of Treasury Securities." These reports are done monthly. I was told that by taking the amounts reported for September of each year, I would have the end of the fiscal year numbers.

In addition, I was told that it was reasonable to take the total Public Debt Securities, subtract the amount of foreign holdings, and assume that what was left is the amount of securities held by United States investors. I could find nothing to confirm these numbers.

Also, these numbers include nonmarketable securities.

4 According to the Department of the Treasury, "the country attribution . . . is far from perfect, as the country-level information collected. . . can be distorted due to either chains of intermediaries involved in the custody or management of these securities or to lack of ownership information on bearer securities. The first problem arises when the foreign owner of a U.S. security entrusts the management or safekeeping of a security to an institution that is neither in the United States nor in the foreign owner's country of residence. For example, a resident of Germany may buy a U.S. security and place it in the custody of a Swiss bank. Normally the Swiss bank will then employ a U.S.-resident custodian bank to act as its foreign subcustodian for the security to facilitate settlement and custody operations.

When portfolio surveys are conducted, information is collected only from U.S.-resident entities. Thus, the U.S.-resident bank, acting as the subcustodian of the Swiss bank, will report this security on the survey. Because the U.S. bank will typically know only that it is holding the security on behalf of a Swiss bank, it will report the security as Swiss-held. Among the ten countries with the largest holdings of U.S. securities on the most recent survey, five of them -- Belgium, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom -- are financial centers in which substantial amounts of securities owned by residents of other countries are held by custody. Perhaps the greatest distortion in country attribution is reflected in the level of holdings attributed to Luxembourg, a country with an estimated gross domestic product of $27 billion in 2004 that is credited with holdings of $392 billion. The second country attribution is caused by the existence of bearer, or unregistered, securities. The owners of such securities do not have to make themselves known, and typically little or no information is available about them. Long-term bearer securities cannot be issued in the United States, but U.S. firms can and do issue such securities abroad." See Foreign Holdings 2004.

5 Includes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

6 Includes the Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles, and Panama.

7 These countries were not listed individually in 2008. Any holders were included in “other.”



 

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