China’s nuclear option in trade war: Selling U.S. Treasuries

“It’s a self-destructive nuclear option,” said Robert Tipp, chief investment strategist and head of global bonds for PGIM Fixed Income. “Maybe it helps them as a bargaining chip, but it’s endangering the value of something they’re deeply involved in.”

In fact, the move actually could help the U.S.

For one, a Chinese reduction of Treasurys could weaken the dollar and make U.S. multinationals more competitive. For another, Treasury yields would rise and thus cause prices to fall, lowering the value of China’s portfolio.

And there’s the question of where China would put its money — all that cash would have to go somewhere, and U.S. bonds are among the highest-yielding in the world when weighed against their relatively low risk.