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THE ISSUES

Originally Published: 4/9/2014

MAJOR HOLDERS OF TREASURY SECURITIES
(In Millions of Dollars)

 
FFY
2012
FFY
2013
FFY
2014
FFY
2015
FFY
2016
SUMMARY of DEBT
Total Public Debt 1
11,280,000
12,001,000
12,779,000
13,117,000
14,168.00
Public Issue Held by
Federal Reserve Board 2
1,639,000
2,315,000
2,767,288
2,802,101
2,830,115
Public Debt Securities
9,641,000
9,686,000
10,011,712
10,314,899
11,337,885
   
 
HOLDERS OF DEBT 3
United States
4,106,400
4,033,100
3,941,412
4,208,699
5,182,785
FOREIGN 4
Mainland China
1,169,900
1,293,800
1,266,300
1,258,000
1,157,000
Japan
1,139,900
1,178,100
1,221,800
1,177,100
1,136,400
Ireland
97,400
111,300
110,600
222,500
270,900
Cayman Islands 8
-
-
-
-
262,100
Brazil
254,100
249,200
262,300
251,600
258,100
Switzerland
187,800
177,200
186,200
227,600
240,700
Luxembourg
144,700
141,100
156,100
191,000
227,200
United Kingdom 5
133,200
158,300
167,800
215,100
217,500
Hong Kong
138,500
126,500
159,000
198,600
189,800
Taiwan
197,200
185,900
173,400
178,100
189,300
Belgium
136,400
172,500
353,900
135,800
142,700
India
59,600
56,800
80,000
113,500
122,700
Caribbean Banking Centers 6
273,500
300,900
318,800
322,700
-
Germany
64,000
61,900
75,000
83,400
102,900
Singapore
97,500
80,300
108,500
122,900
101,300
Saudi Arabia 9
-
-
-
-
89,400
Korea
42,200
55,600
54,500
69,400
88,500
Canada
58,300
62,400
65,400
69,200
85,000
Russia
171,100
140,500
117,700
89,100
76,500
France
58,700
54,500
72,300
51,700
71,100
Bermuda 8
-
-
-
-
64,300
United Arab Emirates 9
-
-
-
-
63,800
Turkey
51,600
54,300
74,700
68,900
61,500
Norway
75,500
72,200
81,800
69,800
56,800
Netherlands
30,700
32,200
35,600
39,800
52,200
Thailand
58,600
38,900
33,500
31,900
49,900
Mexico
59,200
63,800
76,500
78,700
47,700
Italy
28,000
28,800
29,500
33,900
42,000
Spain
25,300
21,500
21,700
34,500
39,500
Philippines
36,900
38,100
35,200
41,900
39,000
Sweden
29,000
32,600
36,000
40,200
38.300
Australia
26,700
34,200
35,400
31,300
34,500
Poland
30,400
30,800
28,500
28,400
33,500
Columbia
29,900
33,400
33,800
36,800
-
Australia
26,700
34,200
35,400
31,300
-
Chile
30,900
26,700
26,400
27,800
-
Kazakhstan7
-
-
35,000
25,400
-
Denmark
14,900
11,600
16,200
18,400
-
Israel
28,900
21,900
26,500
17,400
-
Vietnam7
-
-
13,700
12,600
-
Peru
13,400
14,500
11,200
11,300
-
South Africa
12,800
13,800
-
-
-
Malaysia
19,500
12,400
-
-
-
OPEC 9
262,200
245,700
279,400
291,300
-
All others
246,200
218,700
190,100
188,600
503,000
Total Foreign Holders
5,561,300
5,687,100
6,105,700
6,137,500
6,155,100
PUBLIC DEBT SECURITIES
9,641,000
9,686,000
10,011,712
10,314,899
11,337,885


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.”

8 Cayman Islands and Bermuda were previously included under Caribbean Banking Centers.

9 OPEC has been broken out into individual countries.

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