Moscow mystery: Where did all its Treasuries go?


By Brian Chappatta
Bloomberg News
Thursday, July 19, 2018

U.S. bond traders are fixated on Russia this week for a much different reason than most Americans.

Just a day after President Donald Trump's much-maligned meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a monthly report from the Treasury Department showed that Russia is no longer considered a "major foreign holder” of U.S. government securities. That's because in the two months through May 31, the nation's Treasuries hoard plummeted to just $14.9 billion from $96.1 billion. The threshold to be considered a major holder is $30 billion. There are 33 of them.

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Such an aggressive reduction is not normal. To put the $81.2 billion decline into context, the most Japan has ever cut back in a two-month stretch is $47.8 billion. China, the largest foreign owner of Treasuries, has scaled back to a similar extent on occasion, but it was a mere fraction of its total. For Russia, once a top-10 holder, this looks like a full-scale liquidation. Since the start of 2017, no country's holdings have fallen more, either on an absolute or percentage basis.

... For the remainder of the commentary

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