Foreigners don’t need to liquidate everything or even a majority of their holdings: all they need to do is engage in a sharp, acute selloff which sends yields sharply higher which – as events in early February showed – would also likely led to a stock market crash.
In response to Trump’s shocking announcement of a global trade war (which may have been “born out of anger at other simmering issues and the result of a broken internal process”), the age-old question has once again returned front and center: will foreigners retaliate by selling US securities?
First a quick recap: there was $6.3 trillion in US Treasuries held by foreign nations as of Dec. 2017, of which over $4 trillion was held by official accounts: central banks, reserve managers, sovereign wealth funds, and others.
Also recall that much if not all of these official foreign Treasury holdings built up over the years as US trading partners converted dollars from persistent American trade surpluses into US debt.
Which is why, as Reuters’ Richard Leong writes, should China, Japan and other nations, which have recycled their trade dollars through their Treasuries holdings, suddenly decide to whittle them…
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