Long Term Treasury Securities – Foreign Demand Rises

As deflation continues to run its course, debt destruction goes on, and people seek save haven investments Foreign demand for long-term US securities rises:

Foreign demand for long-term U.S. financial assets rebounded in June even though China and Russia trimmed their holdings.

The Treasury Department said Monday that foreigners purchased $90.7 billion more in long-term U.S. securities than they sold in June. That’s a significant rebound from May when they sold $19.4 billion more than they purchased.

“There is little evidence in recent (Treasury) reports to suggest that foreign investors are growing weary of buying U.S. securities,” Jay Bryson, a global economist at Wells Fargo Securities, wrote in a note to clients. The increased appetite for Treasury securities was partly because their yields rose in early June, he added.

The Treasury is auctioning record amounts of debt to cover what it estimates will be a $1.85 trillion budget deficit this year. If overseas buyers don’t continue purchasing U.S. debt, some economists worry that would mean falling demand at Treasury debt auctions and rising interest rates.

China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities, trimmed its holdings, to $776.4 billion in June from $801.5 billion in May. Russia also reduced its holdings 3.7 percent to $119.9 billion in June.

China’s holdings are a direct result of the huge trade deficits the U.S. runs with the emerging Asian power. The Chinese take the dollars Americans pay for Chinese products and invest them in Treasury securities.

American manufacturers argue that gives China unfair trade advantages by keeping the dollar overvalued against the Chinese currency, which makes U.S. goods more expensive for Chinese consumers and Chinese products cheaper here.

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have argued that China should allow its currency to rise faster in value against the dollar, but the yuan has stopped appreciating against the dollar in recent months.

Japan, the second largest holder of U.S. Treasury securities, increased its holdings 5.1 percent to $711.8 billion in June. And the United Kingdom, the third largest holder of Treasuries, increased its holdings nearly 31 percent to $214 billion.

Foreign governments purchased $22.5 billion of Treasury bonds and notes, the department said, after selling $21.8 billion in May. Overseas governments sold $5.9 billion in bonds issued by mortgage giants Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other government agencies.

Private foreign investors purchased $78 billion in Treasury bonds and notes in June, the department said, up from sales of $800 million in May.

Today yields on ten year notes are currently at 3.49 percent. I am still as bullish as I have been before on Treasury Notes and Bonds:

Back in November 08 I called for significantly lower Treasury Yields between 2% amd 2.5%. They then fell from 3.09% to just below 2.5% in January 09. I then expected for technical reasons that they will move higher to the upper end of the range which would be around 3.3%. They actually overshot and went as high as 3.99%. I then said that Treasurys are a good call again. Yields have since then fallen to around 3.30%:

10-year-treasury-2009-july-10

Click on image to enlarge.

I think Treasurys will continue to act well. There maybe some upward pushes here and there so long as inflation expectations pop up once in a while, but the mid-term trend remains unchanged: It is likely that yields are headed for new lows.

Just recently someone commented as a response to my post on consumer prices:

Bullish long term treasuries?

If so, I think your arguments should directly go to the trash.

Even though private lending is not increasing, it is currently being replaced by government debt or money. Yes stocks are risky, but the dollar is even riskier.

Maybe I am wrong and there is a flaw in my thinking. If so, then nobody has successfully pointed it out yet. Statements like the above reflect the commonly spread notions of the public who does not like to bother with details and easily falls for simple platitudes. This just reaffirms my beliefs. But we shall let reality be the final arbiter. I believe that Treasury yields are headed lower for the remainder of this year.

As far as my thoughts on the Yuan:

In 2005 the Chinese government ended the peg against the US dollar and switched over to a currency basket. From 2005 though June 2008, the value of one Dollar dropped from RMB 8.28 in 2005 to about RMB 6.83 by June 2008.

Since then, it seems, the fall of the dollar has stopped and the Yuan/Dollar exchange rate remained suspiciously stable. This has gone on through right now. The chart below illustrates this:

The stabilization of the Dollar against the Yuan has almost coincided the reversal of the Dollar’s fall against other major currencies. It thus appears as if, since mid 2008, the Yuan/Dollar peg has been reinstated and continues to be in place as these lines are written. What is also noteworthy is that the US current account deficit has been declining sharply since then.

A first look at the above chart leads one to believe that Chinese and US authorities aimed at putting an end to the fall of the Dollar, and thus intervened accordingly. However, another possibility which I would like to propose is that the Dollar had fundamentally and truly begun to stabilize at the level of RMB 6.83 at that point and was actually in for a major revaluation upwards. Thus the current intervention by Chinese authorities could actually be aiming at a stabilization of its own currency at a higher level than the market would mandate.




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