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How China Could Break the Debt-Ceiling Impasse, And Why It Won’t.

by Anjali Cordeiro
Publication: Wall Street Journal

July 25, 2011


As the largest foreign holder of US Treasurys, China has a heft in bond markets that no other creditor can claim. The Asian giant is so powerful, in fact, that it could — if it chose — help the White House end the debt-ceiling impasse.

Any threats from Chinese officials that the country plans to slash its Treasury holdings in response to a US downgrade would likely prompt a market selloff. And yet that could have a desirable, longer-term impact if the plunge was sharp enough to help the White House make its case to holdouts in Congress who are blocking a deal.

So far, Treasury prices have been barely dented by the political vacillation in Washington. But a bigger drop in prices might change lawmakers’ minds and hasten an agreement, as it would expose the costs of dithering. In turn this would likely boost Treasurys again and China’s holdings would return to square one. All would be well in the world again.

But would China ever play such Machiavellian game? Not likely, say China experts.

“They would be very reluctant because of their own posture about keeping their own policies domestic,” says Jeffrey Bergstrand, a University of Notre Dame finance professor.

To read the entire article visit: How China Could Break the Debt-Ceiling Impasse, And Why It Won’t.