11/23/2010

Data on China's Foreign Currency Reserve Holdings and how that has changed with increases in the US Money Supply


Click on the chart to enlarge.

The Chinese data are available here for 2008, 2009, and 2010. The M1 data are available here.
A 2008 China Securities Journal article reported that over time "The current dollar reserve assets ratio of the total reserve assets has long been stable at 65%..." On October 14, 2010, The Economist noted: "China holds by far the world’s biggest stockpile of foreign-exchange reserves, worth $2.6 trillion at the end of the third quarter. About 65% of these holdings are in dollars, according to the China Securities Journal, an official newspaper."

UPDATE (11/25): During the period from January 2006 to January 2008, PBoC went from $549 billion in US Dollar Foreign Reserves to $1.03 trillion, an 88 percent increase. The level of PBoC Treasury and Agencies as a percent of Chinese GDP growth appears to have experienced a much smaller percentage change increase in those holdings. Assuming that ALL the PBoC US Dollar Foreign Reserves were invested in Treasury and Agencies in January 2006, the second graph here implies that most of the increase in Dollar reserves isn't invested in Treasury and Agencies.


US Treasury Bond holdings by country are available here. Click on the figure to make it larger. Historical data are available here. I don't have the information on "Agencies" held by the PBoC, but I would guess that they are probably positively correlated with the US Treasury Bonds.


A related discussion with slightly different numbers is here. In August, China's holdings of US Treasuries was less than half of the $1.74 trillion in US Dollar Foreign Reserves held in August.

The cash-rich Chinese government reduced its US Treasury bond holdings to 843.7 billion dollars in June, the lowest level since at least the same month last year, the Treasury said in a report on international capital flows.
The June data was lower than the 867.7 billion dollars in Treasury bonds held by the Chinese in May and 900.2 billion dollars in April. . . .


It is very interesting how the gap between BPoC's US $ Reserves and the BPoC's US Treasury holdings have increased substantially over time. If this difference in holdings is made up by the BPoC holding US dollars, it could help explain some of the drop in velocity that offset the increases in the money supply.

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