US shutdown delays report on foreign debt holdings

Updated: 2013-10-17 09:15

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA)

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The US Congress moved closer to passing a deal to prevent the country from defaulting on its debt and to end the shutdown that has furloughed federal workers and cut federal services, including the issuance of a monthly report on the amount of foreign holdings of US Treasury securities.

The report, containing data of foreign debt activity from two months prior, tracks the debt that countries buy from the US. On Wednesday, a note on the Treasury International Capital website said: “Until the shutdown is resolved, the Treasury International Capital (TIC) data release planned for October 16, 2013 will be delayed."

In the last report from September on July holdings, China remained the biggest foreign buyer of US debt, with $1.277 trillion in Treasury holdings. This was a $1.5 billion increase from its June holdings.

Japan continued to be the second biggest US debt buyer in the same month, with $1.135 trillion, which is a $52 billion increase from their holdings in June, according to the same report.

Last month's report showed that overall foreign holdings of Treasuries rose by $31.1 billion, which analysts said was due to a general easing of the market anxiety over the Federal Reserve's plan to wind down its monetary stimulus.

The Chinese central bank reported on Sunday that it held $3.66 trillion of foreign currency reserves by the end of September, up $160 billion from June.

The deadlock in congress also has taken a toll on bilateral ties with China. Tourists from China have been unable to visit federal landmarks in Washington, such as museums and monuments, and military policymakers from China canceled their scheduled visit this week with the US Army War College because the government did not have enough money to host them.

Chinese scientists were denied entrance at a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conference in California, but after realizing that a mistake had been made, officials were unable to reverse the denial because employees at the NASA headquarters in Washington who could have changed it were on furlough.

China's deputy finance minister, Zhu Guangyao, urged the US to come to an agreement to avoid default, and criticized the “attitude of the Tea Party" in a briefing with reporters in Beijing on Monday.

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