Benn Steil


A graphical take on geoeconomic issues, with links to the news and expert commentary.

U.S. External Debt

by Wednesday, February 25, 2009

This chart compares the Treasury and Agency holdings of China and Japan. As the chart shows, the amount of debt that the U.S. owes to China has increased sharply this decade and the amount owed to Japan remains high. Will the United States’ continuing need for financing leave it in a weaker position relative to the major holders and purchasers of U.S. debt? Read more »

Access to Credit

by Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Congressional hearings have focused on the question of whether credit is being extended and by whom. Our chart shows why this question matters. The black and red lines show the tight correlation between home price appreciation and mortgage credit growth. The shaded areas show, through the 3rd quarter, that the government is extending while banks and the securities market are contracting home mortgage credit. Read more »

Fiscal Stimulus

by Tuesday, February 10, 2009

America, the world’s largest deficit country, is considering a fiscal stimulus of about $800 billion. China, the largest surplus country, has announced a stimulus of $586 billion, although the effect will likely be closer to $158 billion. We calculate that deficit countries are proposing stimulus packages worth 1.7% of world GDP, while surplus countries are offering packages of 0.7% of world GDP. This pattern risks exacerbating global imbalances. Read more »