The Treasury Department revealed for the first time in four decades how much U.S debt Saudi Arabia owns. Overall, the foreign holdings of U.S Treasury securities rose during the month of March.
In the latest Treasury report, it was revealed that total holdings increased from 0.8 percent to a record of $6.29 trillion. This figure still managed to climb even though the largest Treasury debt holder, China, trimmed its portfolio by 0.6 percent to $1.24 trillion.
For the first time since 1974, when the government began releasing data on foreign ownership of Treasury securities, the report disclosed ownership for specific countries that it had always lumped together such as “oil-exporting nations” and “Caribbean banking centers.” The report showed that Saudi Arabia in March held $116.8 billion in Treasury debt, down 2.5 percent from February.
A spokesperson from the Treasury said that the decision to list Saudi Arabia’s holdings separately was not linked in any way to recent warnings from the government of Saudi Arabia. Last month, Saudi Arabia said that it could begin selling off its U.S investments if Congress passes a law allowing the country to be held responsible in U.S courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The investments held by Saudi Arabia makes the country the 13th-largest foreign holder of Treasury securities. The Cayman Islands, which previously was included in a grouping of Caribbean banking centers is ranked No. 3 with holding $265 billion in March, up 3.9 percent from February. Japan is the second-largest foreign holder of debt as it increased its holdings by 0.4 percent to $1.14 trillion in March.
Treasury spokesperson Whitney Smith said de-grouping certain countries is an effort to make the date more useful, ABC reported.
“We concluded that it was a consistent with transparency and the law to disclose the data in a disaggregated fashion,” Smith said in a statement.
The total foreign holdings of Treasury was $6.29 trillion, a modest 1.9 percent higher than the year before. Of that total, 65 percent is held by foreign governments, primarily central banks. Currently, the national debt now stands at $19.16 trillion. The federal budget deficit is projected to grow over the next decade. To help finance the growing needs of the United States, it will need to sustain strong foreign demand for Treasury debt.
Dolphin is an intern and contributor for Bold. She is currently studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at The King's College in New York City. Some of her favorite things include: hip-hop, international affairs, meeting new people, political philosophy, investment strategies, and of course eating samosas. She is excited to be working at Bold and to see what life has in store for her next!