(James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)
The bad news for holders of U.S. debt, in case you missed it, is that China has sold so many Treasuries that it is no longer America’s leading lender.
The worse news is that there is a new creditor-in-chief, and it is Japan, an aging country with its own government debt bubble to contend with.
China sold about $34 billion of Treasuries in December, taking its holdings to $755 billion, while Japan increased its purchases and now is in the top spot of the Treasury Department’s scroll of merit, with $768 billion. China’s holdings peaked in April, since when the trend has been gently downward.
From a demographic point of view, though, the United States making a long term borrowing plan based on access to Japanese funding is a bit like my daughter making a retirement plan that has me continuing to work when she stops at its centre.
Japan is a wonderful country with many strengths, but one salient feature of Japan is that it is aging, or should that be aging, deeply in debt and dependent upon very low rates to continue to make those debts manageable.