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Foreign holdings of U.S. Treasuries and U.S. Treasury yields

  • Daniel O. Beltran
  • Maxwell Kretchmer
  • Jaime R. Marquez
  • Charles P. Thomas

Foreign official holdings of U.S. Treasuries increased from $400 billion in January 1994 to about $3 trillion in June 2010. Most of this growth is accounted for by a handful of emerging market economies that have been running large current account surpluses. These countries are channeling their savings through the official sector, which is then acquiring foreign exchange reserves. Any shift in policy to reduce their current account surpluses or dampen the rate of reserves accumulation would likely slow the pace of foreign official purchases of U.S. Treasuries. Would such a slowing of foreign official purchases of Treasury notes and bonds affect long-term Treasury yields? Most likely yes, and the effects appear to be large. By our estimates, if foreign official inflows into U.S. Treasuries were to decrease in a given month by $100 billion, 5-year Treasury rates would rise by about 40-60 basis points in the short run. But once we allow foreign private investors to react to the yield change induced by the shock to foreign official inflows, the long-run effect is about 20 basis points.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 1041.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1041
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  1. Joseph E. Gagnon & Matthew Raskin & Julie Remache & Brian P. Sack, 2010. "Large-scale asset purchases by the Federal Reserve: did they work?," Staff Reports 441, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Elias Papaioannou & Richard Portes & Gregorios Siourounis, 2006. "Optimal Currency Shares in International Reserves: The Impact of the Euro and the Prospects for the Dollar," NBER Working Papers 12333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John C. Williams, 2011. "Unconventional monetary policy: lessons from the past three years," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue oct3.
  4. Kilian, Lutz, 2006. "Not All Oil Price Shocks Are Alike: Disentangling Demand and Supply Shocks in the Crude Oil Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 5994, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Granger, C. W. J. & Newbold, P., 1974. "Spurious regressions in econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 111-120, July.
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