June 21, 2024

Russia Joins China In Rejecting U.S. Debt, Buys Gold Instead

China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, has been concerned about the safety of its U.S. treasury debt holdings for years.

In March 2009, Chinese Premier Wen Jinbao warned Washington that “We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S.  Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.”

Premier Jinbao’s  was right to worry about the safety of China’s U.S. debt holdings.   Since March 2009, the U.S. debt has increased by more than $3 trillion and Congress is now being pressured by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury to increase the national debt limit by another $2 trillion.  The parabolic increase in U.S. debt, along with recent downgrade warnings on U.S. debt from the credit rating agencies, must be keeping the Chinese up at night.

On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russia also decided that holding U.S. debt has become too risky.  In comments to Dow Jones, Arkady Dvorkovich, chief economic adviser to Russian President Medvedev, said “The share of our portfolio in U.S. instruments has gone down and probably will go down further.”  According to the Wall Street Journal, Russia has already reduced its holdings of U.S. debt from $176 billion last fall to $125 billion in April of this year.

Besides diversifying into other currencies such as the Canadian and Australian dollar, Russia has also been substantially increasing its purchases of gold.  Recent reports from the World Gold Council and IMF show that Russia recently bought 50 tons of gold bringing its total gold holdings to almost 670 tons.

If Russian economic advisor Dvorkovich looks at the above chart of U.S. debt, he may well decide to run to the exits and dump all of Russia’s U.S. debt holdings.

The United States has truly entered the Bizarro stage of national finance.  As the exponential increase in U.S. debt moves the Nation ever closer to a debt crisis, Fed Chairman Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Geithner are predicting dire consequences if Congress does not increase the U.S. debt limit.  Should it really be a surprise that two of the world’s biggest holders of U.S. debt are heading for the exits?