Saturday, September 12, 2015

Poor Journalism

See the following story written by Matt Egan at CNN Money:


1. "It's no secret that China is the largest holder of U.S. debt." There is no secret because it is not even true.  ALL foreign holders of US government debt make up less than 50% of publicly held national debt.  China is the largest "foreign" holder but holds less than 10%.  Interestingly, as recently as 2008, Japan was the largest foreign holder of US debt and was for many years.  In addition, since 2008, Japan has owned almost as much China yet I never see an article written about Japan's US debt holdings.
It is misleading and inaccurate to refer to China as the largest holder when US individuals, pension funds, mutual funds, banks, and insurance companies hold significantly more.
2. "China is dumping US debt" - According to US Treasury data, China's holding increased from Jan 2015 through June 2015 (last date for published data).  Where is the evidence, source?  Wonderfully inaccurate, misleading, and unsubstantiated headline.
3. "But China's foreign-exchange reserves plunged by a record $94 billion in August, according to the country's central bank, leaving it with a war chest of $3.6 trillion. Analysts say it's very safe to believe a big chunk of that decline occurred due to a reduction in U.S. Treasury holdings." - Since the most recently published data show China increasing their holdings of US debt, it would certainly be proper journalism to provide some reference or source for the data. Who are the "analysts"?
4.  Even if #3 is true, a "big chunk" of $94 billion is just 2% of their "war chest" and if they are actually "dumping" US debt as stated by your unknown analyst, at most $94 billion would result in about 7.5% of their US debt holdings, but probably less than that depending on what the mathematical equivalent of "big chunk" is.

This article should never have been published.  The editors at CNN Money need to do some better quality control.

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