Dump the dollar: Russia has now gotten rid of over 96% of its US debt holdings

18 May, 2020

Moscow has continued to sell off US Treasury securities, cutting its stockpile by US$8.73 billion in March, according to the latest data from the US Department of the Treasury.

Russia’s holdings of US state debt amounted to $3.8 billion in March, compared with $12.5 billion a month earlier. Three years ago, the amount stood at $105 billion. Moscow has liquidated over 96 percent of its holdings in that period. The country’s long-term US Treasury securities decreased by $928 million, while short-term securities plunged by $7.8 billion to just $473 million.

Japan remains the biggest holder of US state debt since June 2019. Tokyo held US Treasury bills worth $1.27 trillion in March, having increased its investment by $3.4 billion from a month earlier.

The second top foreign holder of US Treasury notes, China, has continued to make modest cuts to US debt holdings, slashing its portfolio by $10.7 billion to $1 trillion.

Russia used to be one of the major holders of US Treasuries, but since May 2017, it has been steadily cutting this investment, in line with its de-dollarization policy and in response to sanctions imposed by Washington.

As a matter of state policy, Moscow has also been diversifying its reserves, increasing bullion purchases to record levels, and earning the title of the world’s most committed purchaser of gold. The country’s total gold holdings amounted to 73.9 million troy ounces (2,298 tons) as of March, and are worth around $120 billion, according to the latest data from the Central Bank of Russia.

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