As we pointed out in an article last week, the US federal government has added $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the last 12 months. As a result, the US Treasury Department is flooding the market with bonds. Meanwhile, the biggest buyers of US debt – China, Japan and the Federal Reserve – are shrinking their Treasury holdings. For the past several months, we’ve been saying this is a big problem for the US government that most people are overlooking. And we aren’t the only ones sounding warning bells.
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.
Last week, we got data on the producer price index. It came in at o.6%, a much hotter number than expected. It was the biggest jump in the PPI in six years. Year-over-year, producer prices are up 2.8%.
Analysts expected the monthly increase to come in at half that – 0.3%. While the Fed typically looks at consumer prices to gauge inflation, producer prices are also significant. After all, the cost of production is ultimately passed on to the consumer.
As soon as that PPI number came out, the price of gold dropped about $10. As Peter Schiff pointed out in a recent podcast, this is because the markets still don’t get it. They are playing checkers instead of chess.
The US national debt increased by $1.27 trillion in fiscal 2018. If you expected the pace of borrowing to slow in fiscal 2019, you’ll be disappointed. In just the first 11 business days of the new fiscal year, the US government added another $138 billion of debt to the total. That brings the total national debt to a staggering $21.654 trillion — or as Wolf Street put it “debt out the wazoo.”
Meanwhile, the two biggest buyers of US Treasuries are in a selling mood.
Death-spiral — The downward, corkscrew-motion of a disabled aircraft which is unrecoverably headed for a crash.
The US federal government may well be in a death spiral – or perhaps we should call it a debt-spiral.
Yields have been on the rise this week in the midst of a bond market sell-off.
Two-year borrowing costs hit their highest level in a decade Wednesday. The yield on the 2-year Treasury climbed to 2.816%. Meanwhile, the 10-year Treasury yield hit a four-month high of 3.07%.
What’s going on here?
The economy is booming – or so we’re told. But the federal government is borrowing money like we’re in the midst of a deep recession.
Long-term US debt sales have risen to a level not seen since the height of the Great Recession. Meanwhile, the Treasury Department announced the creation of a new benchmark short-term 2-month Treasury bill.
All of this is in an effort to cover a rapidly upward-spiraling national debt even as some of the big players in the bond market sit on the sidelines.
It looks like we’re heading toward a full-blown trade war.
As the war continues to escalate. Pres. Trump has levied more tariffs on Chinese imports in retaliation for China’s retaliation after the US announced its first round of tariffs. A lot of people seem to think this is bullish for the dollar. In fact, the greenback has surged in recent weeks. But in his latest podcast, Peter Schiff said this is a bunch of nonsense.
The Russians are dumping US Treasuries and buying gold.
As we reported earlier this week, the three largest holders of US Treasuries are not in a buying mood. In fact, they’re selling. The Japanese disposed of $12.3 billion in US debt. Meanwhile, Chinese Treasury holdings fell by $5.8 billion. The Federal Reserve has shed about $70 billion in US bonds since launching its tightening program last fall. So far, individual and institutional investors have picked up the slack.
Lost in the latest data about Treasury holdings was the fact that Russia dumped nearly half of its US debt in April. But even as it divests itself from US bonds, Russia’s total reserves have grown as the country adds to its gold holdings.
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.