Somebody is a selling a fistful of US Treasuries. It could be Russia, or China, Turkey, South Africa, or Indonesia, or all frantically selling bonds at the same time for different reasons.
We don’t yet know. All we know is that the US Federal Reserve’s custody holdings on behalf of foreign central banks plunged by $106bn in the week ending March 12, the biggest one-week drop on record.
Russia’s central bank is undoubtedly liquidating reserves at a breakneck pace to prevent a collapse of the rouble, as foreign companies scramble to get all their spare cash out of Russian accounts before the G7 guillotine comes down on the Putin clan next week. It is certainly trying to remove its assets beyond the jurisdiction of the US authorities – though that will not be easy. The SEC takes no prisoners. In the end, the world is more frightened of US regulators than it is of Putin’s tanks or his polonium. Soft power can trump hard power.