Interest Rates Are Falling Without Strong Foreign Demand For Treasuries

According to this story by Floyd Norris in today’s New York Times…

…domestic investors purchased more Treasuries than did overseas ones — including foreign governments — in 2009 and again in the first half of this year. Those purchases came as government borrowing rose to pay for bailouts and recession-related spending.

The figures exclude Treasury securities owned by the Federal Reserve or other United States government agencies. As a result, Fed purchases and sales are not counted.

By contrast, during the six years from 2002 — the first year that the United States ran a significant deficit after the years of surpluses — through 2007, three-quarters of the $1.7 trillion in new borrowing came from abroad, with $1 trillion of that coming from foreign governments.

In the two and a half years since the end of 2007, the Treasury has raised twice that amount in new money, $3.5 trillion. More than half of that came from American companies and individuals, double the proportion they contributed in the earlier period.

Deficit hawks and austerians should be worried that this change could become common knowledge. Foreign buying of U.S. debt is one of the things that seems to concern voters the most about deficits and federal borrowing. What will happen if they find out that the amount of federal debt owned by foreign investors is falling?

About Stan Collender 126 Articles

Affiliation: Qorvis Communications

Stan Collender is a former New Yorker who, after getting a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, moved to Washington to get it out of his system. That was more than 30 years ago.

During most of his career, Collender has worked on the federal budget and congressional budget process, including stints on the staff of the House and Senate Budget Committees; founding the Federal Budget Report, a newsletter that was published for almost two decades; and for the past 11 years writing a weekly column for and now

He is currently a managing director for Qorvis Communications, where he spends most of his time working with and for financial services clients.

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