U.S. Treasury figures released Tuesday reveal that in August China bought $4.3 billion in American government debt, boosting its total holdings to $1.15 trillion. Japan, meanwhile, bought $5.3 billion in August to boost its holdings to $1.12 trillion.
From January of this year through August, China’s overall holdings of Treasuries edged up a mere 0.1 percent while in the same eight months Japan’s overall holdings of Treasuries jumped 6 percent.
At that rate of increase, Japan could become the nation’s top lender as soon as January 2013, Bloomberg News said. If that happens it will reverse a situation that developed in September 2008 when China became the top U.S. creditor.
“Simply, we’re not just borrowing from the Chinese, we’re borrowing from the Japanese as well,” Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG, told the Financial Times. “It’s important to remember that Japan lends the U.S. every bit as much money as does China.”
Japan is not the only nation that has been buying U.S. debt. Last month foreign buyers bought a net $78.5 billion of long-term U.S. securities, raising the total amount of foreign holdings of U.S. debt to a record $5.43 trillion.
Analysts said the sharply higher purchases in August reflect the perceived safety of the U.S. bond market amid the euro zone’s ongoing sovereign debt crisis and concerns about weakening growth in China’s economy, DailyFX said.
“This (monthly) report underscores the healthy demand for U.S. Treasury assets globally as the European uncertainty continues to weigh on investors’ sentiment,” Millan Mulraine, senior U.S. strategist for TD Securities in New York, told Bloomberg News.