Fox's Eric Bolling asserted that China has "no debt" and that, if China wanted, it could demand higher interest rates on U.S. debt, which would "bankrupt" America. In fact, even the Chinese government says it has a national debt, and contrary to Bolling's suggestion that the market for U.S. debt hinges on Chinese demand, recent Treasury sales have been robust, with interest rates near historic lows, while China's Treasury holdings have remained steady.
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Bolling: China's "Debt-To-GDP Is Zero"
Bolling: "China Has No Debt. Their Debt-To-GDP Is Zero." From the January 4 edition of Fox News' The Five:
BOB BECKEL (co-host): Look, when I say that debt doesn't matter, I'll repeat this again. I want somebody not with all this crying thing about my kids and my grandkids. You tell me today, this day, exactly what it is about this debt that did you damage economically.
BOLLING: Can I?
BECKEL: Today, in your pocket.
BOLLING: Well, nothing happens today, just like last night's Iowa vote won't affect your pocket or your president eight months from now. What it does do, though, is it puts us so -- think about this for one second. China has no debt. Their debt-to-GDP is zero because they run a surplus. We're indebted to China, we're indebted to sovereign countries in the Middle East. [Fox News, The Five, 1/4/12]
Reality: China Says Its Debt-To-GDP Ratio Is 17 Percent; Other Estimates Are Higher
Harvard Researcher: Chinese Government Lists Ratio At 17 Percent, But Independent Studies Put It "Between 75 and 150 Percent." From a December 14 Christian Science Monitor op-ed by Michael Beckley, "a research fellow in the International Security Program at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs":
Another misleading statistic is China's debt-to-GDP ratio, which the Chinese government lists at 17 percent. America's debt-to-GDP ratio, by contrast, will remain above 60 percent through 2020.
But most Chinese state spending is not reported in official figures because it is funneled through investment entities connected to local governments. Studies that account for this spending place China's debt-to-GDP ratio between 75 and 150 percent. [CSMonitor.com, 12/14/11]
International Monetary Fund Lists China's 2010 Debt-To-GDP Ratio At 33.8 Percent. [IMF.org, accessed 1/4/12]
Bolling Says U.S. Would "Go Belly Up" If China Demanded Higher Interest Rates
Bolling: If China Demanded Higher Interest Rates On U.S. Debt, "We Would Go Belly Up." From Fox News' The Five:
BOLLING: If China ever said, "Bob, Obama, guess what? We don't want to get 3 percent for our money anymore, we want to get 6 percent," or, God forbid, 10 percent, we would go belly-up, bankrupt, broke. And we would have to say, "China, please, please don't do this. We'll do anything for you."
BECKEL: The best-selling financial instrument in the world today is the U.S. Treasury bond.
BOLLING: Because of them. Because they haven't done that. They could pull the trigger overnight. [Fox News, The Five, 1/4/12]
But Demand For Treasuries Is High ...
Treasury: On November 9, Investors Submitted $63 Billion In Bids For $24 Billion In 10-Year Notes. [US Treasury, Bureau of Public Debt, 11/9/11]
Treasury: On December 20, Investors Submitted $100 Billion In Bids For $35 Billion In 5-Year Notes. [U.S. Treasury, Bureau of Public Debt, 12/20/11]
Treasury: On December 28, Investors Submitted $200 Billion In Bids For $30 Billion In 28-Day Bills. [U.S. Treasury, Bureau of Public Debt, 12/28/11]
... And Interest Rates Are Near Historic Lows ...
St. Louis Fed: Interest Rates For 10-Year Treasuries Are At Levels Not Seen 1950s. From the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:
[Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed 1/5/12]
... Even Though China Hasn't Increased Its Holdings Of Treasuries
Treasury: In October 2010, China Held $1.164 Trillion Of Treasury Securities, And In October 2011, It Held $1.134 Trillion. [Treasury Department, accessed 1/4/12]
Most U.S. Debt Is Owed To Americans, Not Foreigners
Treasury: About 69 Percent Of Debt Is Held Domestically, While About 31 Percent Is Held Abroad. According to figures from the Treasury, total U.S. public debt was $14.994 trillion in October 2011, of which $4.656 trillion was foreign holdings:
China Holds About 7.5 Percent Of U.S. Debt. According to figures from the Treasury, China held $1.134 trillion of U.S. debt in October 2011. [Major Foreign Holders Of Treasury Securities, Treasury.gov, accessed 1/5/12]