Exchequer

First PIMCO, Then OPEC, Then . . . ?

This remind you of anything?

March 14 (Bloomberg) — Oil exporting countries are cutting holdings of U.S. government debt as energy prices rise, helping depress the dollar, the worst performing major currency of the past six months.

Treasuries owned by oil producers and institutions such as U.K. banks that are proxies for Middle East nations fell 9 percent in the second half of 2010 to $654.6 billion, the first decline in the final six months of a year since the Treasury Department began compiling the data in 2006. The sales may continue, if history is any guide, because Barclays Plc says Middle East petroleum exporting nations have traditionally placed only 25 percent of their savings in dollar-based assets.

PIMCO, OPEC: not buying what we’re selling.

And does anybody think that the No. 3 U.S. government debt buyer, Japan, is going to be in the market for a while?

Here’s a little piece of knowledge:

“I moved my clients out of any mutual funds that held Treasuries 12 to 18 months ago, including the Pimco Total Return Fund,” said Steven Tibbitts, owner of Tibbitts Financial Consulting, a $50 million advisory firm.

In place of Treasuries, he has moved clients into floating-rate-bank-loan funds and international bonds, including emerging-markets debt.

“It’s not a matter of whether rates rise, because they will, and when they do, it will be negative for longer-term bonds, especially longer-term government bonds,” Mr. Tibbitts said.

Question: Who thinks the U.S. government will still have a AAA rating in five years? Answer in the comments and tell me why/why not.

—  Kevin D. Williamson is a deputy managing editor of National Review and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, just published by Regnery. You can buy an autographed copy through National Review Online here.

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