While most central banks around the world have tightened monetary policy in an attempt to bring price inflation under control, Japan has done the exact opposite. But in a surprise move, the Bank of Japan widened its target range for 10-year Japanese bond yields, effectively raising the interest rate.
The move strengthened the yen, put more pressure on a weakening dollar, and rattled the global bond market.
Last week, Keynesian extraordinaire Paul Krugman called for more fiscal stimulus in the form of a “government investment program.” Mike Maharrey poked fun of him in his Fun on Friday column. But while it might be amusing to crack jokes at the expense of Keynsians and their obsession with both fiscal and monetary stimulus, the policies they promote are actually quite pernicious.
In fact, the do the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to.
Over the past 12 months, the US federal government has added $1.5 trillion to the national debt.
As of Jan 30, the debt stood just under the $22 trillion mark at $21.97 trillion, according to the latest Treasury Department data. As WolfStreet put it, we’re seeing these rapidly increasing levels of debt during “good times when the economy is hopping. At the next recession, this is going to get cute.”
But even as the US added to its debt load, foreign holders of US Treasurys are gradually selling them off. So, who’s buying up all of this debt? And is it sustainable?
China and Japan dumped more US Treasuries in October, even as the federal government continued to run up its debt.
Chinese holdings of US Treasuries dropped for the fifth straight month, sinking to the lowest level since May 2017, according to data recently released by the Treasury Department. The total amount of US debt held by China fell from $1.15 trillion to 1.14 trillion. Over the past year, the Chinese have shed $50 billion in US debt.
The Japanese and Chinese aren’t buying US Treasuries. In fact, both countries reduced their holdings in April.
According to the US Treasury Department, the Japanese disposed of $12.3 billion in US debt. Meanwhile, Chinese Treasury holdings fell by $5.8 billion.
This could be a troubling development for the US government as it scrambles to fund its massive deficits and ever-growing debt.
During a podcast last week, Peter Schiff asked a key question: Who is going to buy all of this US debt?
The US Treasury Department plans to auction off around $1.4 trillion in Treasuries this year. And it won’t end there. The department expects that pace of borrowing to continue over the next several years.
That’s a lot of bonds. Who will buy them? Because the biggest purchasers of US debt aren’t in a buying mood.