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Foreigners sold $77.35 billion in U.S. Treasury debt in December, the most recent month for which data is available. That's the largest outflow since the U.S. government started recording Treasury debt transactions in January 1978, data shows.

Expand chart
Reproduced from Deutsche Bank; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: U.S. demand for Treasuries has remained incredibly strong since late last year and in fact has increased as yields have fallen, meaning investors are being paid less to hold the debt.

Background: Since 2000, foreign buyers had been the main growing source of Treasury sales. That trend has reversed and American buyers, including banks, pension funds and households, have more than picked up the slack.

What to watch: That's unusual and the fact that yields remain near these particularly low levels (2.69% on the 10-year at press time) likely suggests investors are continuing to position for a downturn, despite the stock market's reversal.

  • Deutsche Bank Chief International Economist Torsten Slok notes that foreigners sold a total of $91 billion of U.S. stocks and bonds in December, with around 85% of that being U.S. government debt.

Despite this significant upward pressure on Treasury yields during the stock market rout (because selling leads to lower prices, meaning yields should rise), benchmark 10-year yields fell from 3.20% in November to 2.60% in December.

  • "This reveals how strong the domestic bid is from pension funds and banks for U.S. Treasuries at the moment," Slok said.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.