What Happens When Demand for US Debt Dries Up?

Over a year ago, I wrote about China threatening to stop buying US Treasuries.

According to an article in the New York Times, it now looks like China is losing it’s appetite for US debt :

In the last five years, China has spent as much as one-seventh of its entire economic output buying foreign debt, mostly American. In September, it surpassed Japan as the largest overseas holder of Treasuries.

But now Beijing is seeking to pay for its own $600 billion stimulus – just as tax revenue is falling sharply as the Chinese economy slows. Regulators have ordered banks to lend more money to small and medium-size enterprises, many of which are struggling with lower exports, and to local governments to build new roads and other projects.

All the key drivers of China’s Treasury purchases are disappearing – there’s a waning appetite for dollars and a waning appetite for Treasuries, and that complicates the outlook for interest rates, said Ben Simpfendorfer, an economist in the Hong Kong office of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

By itself, this is a concern for our government. Recently, it sold billions of 3 year treasuries at a 1.2% yield! But when the demand for treasuries eventually dries up, yield should start jumping higher. But to make matters worse, the government will start a slew of public works projects and bailouts, for which we will have to borrow even more money. At some point the demand will simply fall short of the supply.

Here’s an interesting note by James Quinn on investmentrarities.com:

As the politicians scurry to “save” capitalism through the use of communist measures, more Americans are becoming disheartened. The definition of communism according to Webster’s is:

A system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed.

George Bush, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke have decided to seize money from the vast majority of Americans who lived within their means, utilized debt sparingly, and worked hard to get ahead, and give it to the most appalling failures in our society. They have shoveled billions to banks that operated their businesses like gambling parlors. They have shoveled hundreds of millions to people who bought houses with no money down, interest only mortgages and fraudulent loan applications. They are now rewarding automakers who made the wrong vehicles, pay 30,000 workers per year to not work, and have only been able to “sell” cars by giving them away with 0% financing to any schmuck who could sign on the dotted line. These acts fit the definition of communism. We are now more communist than China.

So what are the repercussions of our monetary policy? According to Chuck Butler of Everbank.com (which I highly recommend):

US government will have to ratchet the yield on these bonds up so high to attract investors… OR… Allow a general debasing of the dollar to allow those purchases of Treasuries to be made at a discounted clearing price.”

A lot of people will disagree, but during these economic times, we’ll see inflation and not deflation. And gold will continue to be a store of value and a hedge against inflation. Even though its quite popular to bash gold and call it a lousy investment, the fact remains that gold has been one of the best performing assets during the past decade. I’ve been buying gold coins since 2005 and while the price of gold is up around 50% since then, the premiums on gold and silver coins has increased more than twice that. (Premium is what you pay over the spot price of gold). This shows an increasing demand for gold coins.

Gold and silver coins will be the next bubble! The bubble has barely started and should take 2-3 years to play out.

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