Back in May, when we first reported the “The Identity Of The Mystery “Belgian” Buyer Of US Treasurys” we made it clear that i) China was using Belgium as an offshore proxy for Treasury buying and – as of this year – selling and ii) that more selling was imminent.
Then, when we last updated this analysis on July 17, 3 weeks before the market was shocked by China’s announcement, we explicitly said that “putting all of this together, it reveals that China has already dumped a record total $107 billion in US Treasurys in 2015 to offset what is now quite clear capital flight from the mainland, and the most aggressive attempt to keep the Renminbi stable.”
All of this was confirmed on August 11, and over the past month when not only China devalued its currency but proceeded to dump a record amount of Foreign Reserves, some $94 billion in the month of August.
There was some question how much of these reserves was US Treasurys, and whether the liquidation via “Belgium” that we first reported in May, had continued. Moments ago, thanks to the latest TIC update, we got the answer. And boy was it a doozy.
First, we look at “Belgian” holdings which, as a reminder are not Belgian at all, but mostly Chinese, as a result of Euroclear allowing China to transact out of the European country anonymously. It is here that the massive build up started in late 2013 is now officially over, and after a another massive sale of $53 billion in US paper via Euroclear, Belgian holdings are back to just $155 billion, the lowest in over two years.
What does this mean for total Chinese holdings? Well, as disclosed mainland Chinese holdings decline by “only” $30 billion, the biggest monthly sale since December 2013.
But as we first pointed out, one has to combine Belgium and China to get the true picture.
Here is how said picture looks, when also superimposing China’s total disclosed foreign reserve on the chart.
The answer: according to TIC, China, between its mainland and Euroclear holdings, sold a record $83 billion in Treasurys in the month of July. It also means that China has liquidated a whopping $184 billion notional in US Treasurys in 2015.
And since the current Belgian liquidation has brought Belgium’s holdings to levels pre the Chinese buying spree, it likely means that China is all out of “Euroclear” holdings, and the residual Chinese holdings are only those held by China as of this moment, which according to TIC amounted to about $1240 billion.
Finally, and here it the punchline: the sale of ~$83 billion took place in July. This is before China announced its devaluation on August 11 and before, as we also first reported, it sold another $100 billion in Treasurys in August.
One can see why suddenly even PBOC official Jiao Jinpu said, earlier today, that the Chinese central bank sees “callenge from FX reserves drop.”
Should this unprecedented pace of reserve liquidation – read Treasury dumping – continue, the Fed will have no choice but to engage QE4 in very short notice just to absorb the now confirmed record selling of US paper by China.