It looks like the smart money these days is found in China. While American investors have been scrambling over each other to buy more Treasury bonds at historically low yields, China has begun quietly unloading some of its own enormous holdings. In June, the Middle Kingdom sold $21.2 billion of paper, reducing its net long to $839.7 billion. This is little more than 10% of the total $8.18 trillion in federal debt that Uncle Sam has outstanding.
Total foreign ownership of US Treasury bonds amounts to $4 trillion, up from $2.4 trillion in three years. Instead, the Chinese have been buying Japanese government bonds, which today carry a paltry 0.9% yield, but have the merit that they are denominated in a rapidly appreciating currency. The Mandarins in Beijing have also been picking up a variety of bonds in Europe which have seen yields pushed to near records, thanks to the debt crisis there.
Officials at the People's Bank of China say that it is all part of a broader diversification effort away from the greenback. PIMCO's Bill Gross has apparently been taking Mandarin lessons on the sly because he has also been paring back his own massive holdings in longer dated Treasuries. To understand why, take a look at the chart below of the spread between the Dow dividend yield and the ten year Treasury yield which has turned positive for the first time since 1955.
Courtesy: Mad Hedge Fund Trader