On Friday, alongside China’s announcement that it had bought over 600 tons of gold in “one month”, the PBOC released another very important data point: its total foreign exchange reserves, which declined by $17.3 billion to $3,694 billion.
We then put China’s change in FX reserves alongside the total Treasury holdings of China and its “anonymous” offshore Treasury dealer Euroclear (aka “Belgium”) as released by TIC, and found that the dramatic relationship which we first discovered back in May, has persisted – namely virtually the entire delta in Chinese FX reserves come via China’s US Treasury holdings. As in they are being aggressively sold, to the tune of $107 billion in Treasury sales so far in 2015.
We explained all of his on Friday in “China Dumps Record $143 Billion In US Treasurys In Three Months Via Belgium“, and frankly we have been surprised that this extremely important topic has not gotten broader attention.
Then, to our relief, first JPM noticed. This is what Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, author of Flows and Liquidity had to say on the topic of China’s dramatic reserve liquidation
Looking at China more specifically, it appears that, after adjusting for currency changes, Chinese FX reserves were depleted for a fourth straight quarter by around $50bn in Q2. The cumulative reserve depletion between Q3 2014 and Q2 2015 is $160bn after adjusting for currency changes. At the same time, a current account surplus in Q2 combined with a drawdown in reserves suggests that capital outflows from China continued for the fifth straight quarter. Assuming a current account surplus in Q2 of around $92bn, i.e. $16bn higher than in Q1 due to higher merchandise trade surplus, we estimate that around $142bn of capital left China in Q2, similar to the previous quarter.
JPM conclusion is actually quite stunning: