China shunning US debt is ‘not relevant’ and will not happen, economist says

  • China holds $1.2 trillion worth of U.S. debt — more than any other country in the world
  • If China stops or even significantly reduces the level of purchases, many warn that the U.S. economy could be affected

Global investors should not be concerned by a report that China is looking to curb its purchases of U.S. bonds, one economist told CNBC.

"First I don't think it's relevant, second I don't think it's going to happen," Daniel Lacalle, chief economist and investment officer at Tressis Gestion, told CNBC Thursday morning.

China holds $1.2 trillion worth of U.S. debt — more than any other country in the world. It overtook Japan in August of last year, which had an eight-month stint as its largest holder. If China stops or even significantly reduces the level of purchases, many warn that the U.S. economy could be affected. But, Lacalle believes there would still be plenty of demand for U.S. debt.

A Chinese newspaper featuring a photo of US President-elect Donald Trump that reads 'President Trump shakes America', is partially covered by a 100 Yuan note on a news stand in Beijing on November 10, 2016.
Greg Baker | AFP | Getty Images
A Chinese newspaper featuring a photo of US President-elect Donald Trump that reads 'President Trump shakes America', is partially covered by a 100 Yuan note on a news stand in Beijing on November 10, 2016.

"There's plenty of buyers," he said, "I don't see the risk and I think that the reaction (to the report) is a little bit overheated, probably more to the fact that rates are going to continue to increase and that inflation is picking up rather than this rumor that happens and comes up from time to time."

The Chinese authorities have since denied report, saying that the story could have quoted a mistaken source. Either way, Lacalle said he is not worried and sees a healthy demand for Treasurys which would be "much more so as the Bank of Japan and the ECB (European Central Bank) continue with their monetary stimulus."