Not only the types of debt arising and accumulating in the American economy, but also the main groups of debtors are well known. These are the federal government, states and municipal authorities, the financial and non-financial sectors of the economy, the household sector (the debts of individuals). And here an interesting question arises: who should all these debtors owe?
Public debt: "market" and "non-market" components
Despite the fact that the economic and financial statistics of the United States is considered one of the most comprehensive and detailed, it does not reveal many secrets concerning the holders of American debt ... It is necessary to focus primarily on expert assessments. Only one group of debt - the debt of the US federal government (government debt) has the necessary statistics of debt holders. The sources of information are the quarterly statistical review of the US Federal Reserve System, called the Flow of Funds Accounts, and the Treasury Bulletin monthly statistical compilation of the Treasury Bulletin.
The US national debt, first of all, is divided into two categories:
1. Debts held by buyers of US Treasury debt securities in the financial market. Primarily, these are treasury bonds (treasury securities) and treasury bills (treasury bills). These are the so-called market debts.
2. Debts held by various extra-budgetary social funds and budget organizations (US Government Accounts). The government takes as if from itself. He simply shifts from one pod, which is called "funds", to another pod, which is called "federal budget." Or it increases unliquidated obligations to budget organizations. These debts are characterized by a special way of registration and accounting, they, unlike treasury securities do not circulate on the market. These are debts generated by borrowings within the public sector, the so-called nonmarketable debts.
Note that the largest non-market lender of the US Treasury is the The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund. In fact, it can be considered as a division of the treasury with an independent balance. A package of securities on the fund's balance sheet is about 2,5 trillion. Doll.
Treasury debt, growing rapidly in recent years - both in absolute and relative terms. Here are their volumes (trillion dollars; at the end of the year): 2008 g. - 6,14; 2009 g. - 7,59; 2010 g. - 9,17; 2011 g. - 10,24; 2012 g. - 11,39. In the middle of 2013, they amounted to 11,71 trillion. That is, for the period from 2008 to the present, the debt issued by treasury securities almost doubled. In 2008, in total government debt, debt issued by treasury securities accounted for 65,2%. And in the middle of 2013, the share of treasury securities in government debt rose to 75%. Sometimes in the media and even the economic literature there is confusion in numbers due to the fact that in some publications, public debt refers to both categories of obligations of the US federal government, and in others only obligations that are issued in the form of treasury papers.
The main categories of holders of US Treasury securities
Now we turn to the structure of public debt, issued in the form of treasury securities, by major types of holders of debt. Such holders are divided into foreign (non-resident) and American (resident). The United States, in turn, is divided into holders of the financial sector of the economy and holders of the non-financial sector. In the financial sector, the United States Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve Banks) and all other organizations stand out separately.
Share of foreign holders of treasury securities (%, at the end of the year): 2008 g. - 52,9; 2009 g. - 48,4; 2010 g. - 48,6; 2011 g. - 48,8; 2012 g. - 48,9; 2013 (middle of the year) - 47,9.
The share of the US financial sector among holders of treasury securities (%, at the end of the year): 2008 g. - 36,0; 2009 g. - 33,9; 2010 g. - 32,6; 2011 g. - 38,7; 2012 g. - 37,3; 2013 (middle of the year) - 38,2.
Share of other holders (non-financial sector) of the USA (%, at the end of the year): 2008 g. - 11,1; 2009 g. - 17,7; 2010 g. - 18,8; 2011 g. - 12,5; 2012 g. - 13,8; 2013 (middle of the year) - 13,9.
Share of the Fed among holders of treasury securities (%, at the end of the year): 2008 g. - 7,8; 2009 g. - 10,3; 2010 g. - 11,1; 2011 g. - 16,2; 2012 g. - 14,7; 2013 (middle of the year) - 16,6.
The share of US financial institutions with the exception of the Fed (%, at the end of the year): 2008 g. - 28,2; 2009 g. - 23,6; 2010 g. - 21,5; 2011 - 22,5; 2012 g. - 22,6; 2013 (middle of the year) - 21,6. Other financial organizations include various investment funds (primarily mutual funds), non-state pension and social funds, deposit-lending organizations (banks), insurance companies, etc.
Domestic US Treasury Holders
In popular literature and journalism, a somewhat simplified scheme of US government borrowing is usually given. It is said that the US Federal Reserve System is supposedly the main holder of Treasury securities. Allegedly, twelve Federal Reserve Banks (of which the largest is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York) are buying all issues of these papers in the bud. We see that at the beginning of the financial crisis, this share was very modest. At the end of 2008, the Fed had on its balance sheet Treasury bonds worth 484,5 billion, or about 8 percent of the total volume of such securities. In the middle of 20013, the Fed had already $ 2.159,5 billion, or 16,6%. For reference, we note that stories There were times in the US when the Fed's share in the ownership of Treasury securities was above the current level. For example, in the middle of 1970's. the Fed's share reached 23% (in absolute terms - 75 billion dollars). If current trends continue, experts say, by the end of 2014, the share of the Fed in the ownership of treasury securities may increase to 20%.
To a large extent, the growth of the share of the Fed contributed to the program of so-called quantitative easing. However, it should be borne in mind that these programs are aimed primarily not at buying treasury securities, which belong to the category of high-quality financial instruments, but at acquiring junk bonds on the US financial market.
In other words, the role of the Fed in providing government borrowing is reduced not only and not so much to direct purchases of treasury securities, but to creating conditions for such purchases by other segments of the American economy. The Fed provides for the replacement of garbage papers with treasury bonds in the balance sheets of banks and other financial and non-financial organizations. The Fed is conducting a dual-purpose rescue operation: first, banks and other private organizations that are still unable to recover from the financial crisis are being saved; secondly, the government is saved. We do not know whether this rescue operation occurs spontaneously or is strictly regulated by the Federal Reserve. But I think that, most likely, there is a strictly controlled process. First of all, the redemption of "junk" securities is made in exchange for the bank's obligation to purchase treasury securities for the money received. By the way, other active Fed operations may also have a “related” character. For example, the Federal Reserve Bank provides a loan to a private American bank in exchange for the latter’s obligation to acquire a certain amount of treasury securities. Without this kind of explanation, it is difficult to believe that banks, investment funds, insurance companies and other financial and non-financial organizations in the United States voluntarily acquired securities — albeit reliable, but with a symbolic interest rate. Moreover, given the dollar depreciation, this rate is actually negative. The point is that all financial and non-financial companies except taxes must also pay tribute to the government in the form of "voluntary-compulsory" purchase of treasury bonds. Experts recognize that the Fed directly or indirectly provides for the acquisition of 35-40% of all US Treasury securities, and within the US (without foreign buyers) - 70-80%.
Total at the end of the first quarter of 2013 of the year, according to official data of the US Treasury, in the hands of all categories of American holders were market and non-market debts of the US government in the amount of 11.047,4 billion dollars. billion dollars. Among these holders (billion dollars): FED - 6.362,6; deposit and credit organizations (banks) - 1.972,0; private pension funds - 341,4; state and local government pension funds - 457,7; mutual funds - 229,0; insurance companies - 946,4; state and municipal governments - 263,3; other holders are 474,5. The latter group is very variegated; it includes companies and organizations in the non-financial sector of the economy (corporations, small and medium businesses), individuals, other types of funds (including personal trust funds of banks), brokers and dealers, other types of investors.
Let us pay attention to the modest role of banks among American holders of market debt: they account for only slightly more than 5% of all treasury securities within the United States. And in the middle of 2008, when the flywheel of the financial crisis sprang up in America, there were less treasury bills on American banks' balance sheets and even less - about 100 billion dollars. Today this amount has increased more than 3 times. Some experts consider such an increase a “kickback” of banks for the huge sums (a total of about 2 trillion dollars) that were spent by the government on saving the US banking system during the financial crisis.
Foreign Holders of US Debt
In recent years, the share of non-US holders of US treasury securities has fluctuated around the 50% mark. The vast majority of US Treasury debts to non-residents are securities that are on the balance sheets of central banks and finance ministries of other countries. These are the so-called official holders of the market debt of the US government. The share of official holders among all foreign holders of US treasury debt in 2008 was 74,6%, and in the middle of 2013, 71,6%. It can be concluded that foreign private investors are not particularly willing to invest in US Treasury securities, because These papers have extremely low yields.
The main countries are holders of US treasury securities (billion dollars at the end of July of the relevant year)
3. Caribbean Banking Centers
4.Oil exporting countries
9.The Great Britain
The column “Caribbean Banking Centers” includes the following jurisdictions: Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dutch Antilles, Panama, and British Virgin Islands.
From the table below:
1. The main holders of US Treasury securities outside the United States are China and Japan. With the total amount of treasury securities held by foreign holders at the end of July 2013 in 5.590,1 billion dollars, these two countries accounted for 2.412,7 billion dollars, or 43,2%. The year before, this figure was 42,4%.
2. If for 2011-2013. China’s total investment in US Treasuries has not changed much, and Japan’s investment in these securities has increased almost 1,3 times over this period.
3. Over the period 2011-2013. dramatically increased their investment in US Treasury securities most of the countries listed in the table. Especially sharply increased stocks of American papers such countries as Norway, Ireland, Mexico, Switzerland, Ireland, India, Belgium. Thus, Norway increased the stock of paper by 2,8 times, Ireland - by 2,2 times, Mexico - by 2,0 times, Belgium - by 1,9 times, Switzerland - by 1,5 times.
4. Only two countries from the list above for the period 2011-2013. reduced their investments in US Treasury securities — Germany and Russia (by 11,8 and 13,2%, respectively). If in the middle of 2011, Russia was in 6-th place among foreign holders of US Treasury securities, in the middle of 2012-th - in 8-th place, and in the middle of 2013, in 11-th place. In other words, Russia is consistently reducing lending to the US government.
On individual foreign holders of US Treasury securities
Much has already been said about China as the main foreign creditor of the American government. China's vast reserves in the form of US treasury securities are both weak and strong sides of China. Strong because these papers are the trump card of Beijing in negotiations with Washington on various issues - trade, financial, political, military. The threat to derail the dollar and the fiscal system of the United States by drastically reducing US Treasury stocks is a convincing argument in Beijing’s negotiations with its American partner. The weakness of China’s position is that if the collapse of the dollar and the collapse of the budget and financial system occur due to other reasons beyond Beijing’s control, then China will suffer huge losses. A huge portfolio of US Treasury bonds gives China the opportunity to pursue tactical victories, but threatens it with a strategic defeat.
As for Japan, it is much more obedient to follow the instructions of Washington, urging the Japanese to increase stocks of treasury securities.
Offshore Caribbean offshore zones — the Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, the Dutch Antilles, Panama, and the British Virgin Islands — are the third largest investor in US Treasury securities. They have increased the portfolio of such papers in almost three years almost 1,5 times. Washington, after joining the White House, Barack Obama announced the start of a “crusade” against offshore companies, because of which, according to experts, the US budget doesn’t draw up to $ 100 billion each year. However, the “tax havens” of the Caribbean have the US Treasury support is almost three times greater. Apparently, the purchase of bonds in the amount of almost $ 300 billion can be considered as a “buy-out” for keeping the “tax haven” near America.
Positions of a group of countries-exporters of oil as holders of US treasury securities during the period 2011-2013. remained without any changes.
Large holders of US Treasury securities are many countries in Western Europe. Switzerland, Belgium, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Ireland, Norway, Germany collectively owned 2013 billion dollars for the end of July 898,4. If we add France, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Spain to the table, we get 1.058,8 billion dollars. The large scale of investment by European countries in the bonds of the US Treasury against the background of the acute debt crisis in the European Union looks rather strange. Many of these European countries themselves are mired in debt, with most of the external debt to non-residents. At the beginning of 2012, the external debts of individual European countries were equal (trillion dollars; the relative level in percent to GDP of a particular country is shown in brackets):
Great Britain - 9,84 (416); France - 5,63 (188); Germany - 5,62 (159); Netherlands - 3,73 (470); Italy - 2,68 (101); Spain - 2,57 (165); Ireland - 2,36 (1308); Luxembourg - 2,15 (4605); Belgium - 1,40 (267); Switzerland - 1,35 (271).
Switzerland, Belgium, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Ireland — each of these countries has packages of US Treasury securities worth over $ 100 billion, and each of them has external debt many times over GDP. (Against such a background, the level of external debt of Greece, which has become the talk of the town, is very low - 167% of GDP). And this is not a charity in favor of America. This is one of the main indicators of Europe’s dependence on the United States. Moreover, a number of European countries are not simply tributaries of America, they also act as collectors of tribute to the United States from other countries. For example, tiny Luxembourg purchased almost US $ 150 billion in US Treasury securities, with GDP less than 47 billion. Luxembourg is a typical “tribute collector”. It borrows money from other countries on a colossal scale; Luxembourg’s external debt exceeds its GDP by a factor of 46! For a long time, the main investor in US Treasury securities in Western Europe was the United Kingdom, but over the past two years Switzerland and Belgium have outstripped it.
Among the major holders of US Treasury securities are the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). At the end of July, 2013 in their reserves contained such securities for a total amount of 1.738,2 billion dollars. These are 31% of all US treasury securities that were owned by non-residents at that time. China was the largest holder; it accounted for almost США of all US treasury securities in the countries of the BRICS group. All BRICS countries, with the exception of Russia, in 2011-2013. increased stocks of US Treasury securities.
There were times when Russia in its international reserves had a rather modest package of US Treasury securities. At the end of 2007, their amount did not exceed 32,7 billion. However, by the end of 2008, their volume increased to 116 billion, ie 3,5 times. Further, until the middle of 2012, US Treasury stocks in reserves of the Russian Federation grew slowly, slightly exceeding the level of 150 billion dollars, and over the last year began to decline (decrease to 131,6 billion dollars, or 24,6 billion dollars. ). An example to follow! The decline in stocks of treasury securities over the past year has also been recorded in Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, and in the group of countries-exporters of oil, but in all these cases the size of reductions is significantly less than in the Russian Federation ...
In October, the US 2013, experiencing an acute budget crisis, once again demonstrated that they can only live in conditions of constant borrowing abroad and increasing their public debt to other countries. The huge public debt of the United States represents a threat to the stability of the world economy. Unfortunately, Beijing, Tokyo, London actually became hostages of this model of lending to the US government. In the first half of October, the leaders of China, Japan, India and several other countries appealed to the President and the US Congress to make an early decision to raise the government borrowing ceiling — that is, they actually asked Washington to continue paying tribute to America in the form of buying Treasury securities.