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« WPR's The New Rules: China’s State Capitalism Faces ‘Teddy Roosevelt Moment’ | Main | Wikistrat post @ CNN/GPS: Nine roads to November »
10:22AM

Charts of the day: US debt and petroleum

From Business Insider (via Zakaria's GPS site) comes the following listing of who holds US public debt.

  • Hong Kong: $121.9 billion (0.9 percent)
  • Caribbean banking centers: $148.3 (1 percent)
  • Taiwan: $153.4 billion (1.1 percent)
  • Brazil: $211.4 billion (1.5 percent)
  • Oil exporting countries: $229.8 billion (1.6 percent)
  • Mutual funds: $300.5 billion (2 percent)
  • Commercial banks: $301.8 billion (2.1 percent)
  • State, local and federal retirement funds: $320.9 billion (2.2 percent)
  • Money market mutual funds: $337.7 billion (2.4 percent)
  • United Kingdom: $346.5 billion (2.4 percent)
  • Private pension funds: $504.7 billion (3.5 percent)
  • State and local governments: $506.1 billion (3.5 percent)
  • Japan: $912.4 billion (6.4 percent)
  • U.S. households: $959.4 billion (6.6 percent)
  • China: $1.16 trillion (8 percent)
  • The U.S. Treasury: $1.63 trillion (11.3 percent)
  • Social Security trust fund: $2.67 trillion (19 percent)

The Global Post's Tom Mucha writes the post as revelation: See! China doesn't own the U.S.

Okay, so China doesn't own the US anymore than we get all our energy from Saudi Arabia, but China is the single biggest foreign holder - more than 3 times the long-time historical champ UK and more than recent historical champ Japan.

And yes, we do get a picture sort of like our oil situation, where our biggest supplier remains ourself (here, in various forms, accounting for roughly 2/3rds) and other big suppliers remains long-time friends.

But what's also been clear when we've floated large amounts recently is that China is the one great foreign buyer out there who can soak up our surges, so it does play a bit of a Saudi Arabia-like role in things, and that's not to be dismissed.

Then also via Zakaria' site comes the following US Energy Information Agency chart:

The clear long-term trend here, per the North American energy export boom in the works (Wikistrat's next community simulation to begin shortly), is the declining role of petroleum imports, dropping from the high in 2005 (60%) to under half today (49%) and down to just over a third (36%) by 2035.

Things you note:

 

  • Flatness of demand curve!
  • Significant rise in production - part of the fracking revolution!

 

The combo yields America's resumption of its role as a net exporter of petroleum products for the first time in over six decades!

Compare that picture to China's and ask yourself if you'd switch energy challenges with them.

Of course not.

But back to the first point: China is the big saver in the system of the last two-three decades. That means it's not only our great release-valve source of money for things like our national debt. It plays that role increasingly around the globe - to wit, the recent Wikistrat sim on "China as the de facto World Bank for Africa."

My point in the pairing: excitement over our improved energy picture, yes, but realism on the future of money - especially given this fear-threat reaction embodied in Obama's strategic "pivot" to China.

Reader Comments (3)

This is unrelated, but have you noticed that India appears to be on the same page as China on Iran? I.e. the Indians are extremely reluctant to part with Iranian supplies and they are ready to do the same sort of deals as the Chinese.

January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaduka

Meh...the China-debt thing isn't very interesting. What scares me the most is that we owe the money to ourselves (err...government) in the name of Social Security. So, with approx $14T in debt, SS holds roughly $2.8T in bonds that will probably never get completely paid back. This is a huge, scary hole in SS funding. And I'm not going to even pretend to understand how the Treasury owns debt.

January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Tabar

India & Iran - hmmmm... Wonder how Pakistan feels about that, sandwiched between 2 long-standing enemies.

January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Emery

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