Apple holds more U.S. debt than most countries

Could Apple’s $60 billion in U.S. Treasury notes—more than any other company—have something to do with the Treasury Secretary’s visit to Cupertino Friday?

Cash is tight. Interest rates are surging. Bank reserves are dangerously low and Apple is set to withdraw $250 billion for repatriation.

Something tells me that Steve Mnuchin’s Cupertino stopover on his way to the G20 Summit in Argentina was more than just a courtesy call.

The rest, for now, is speculation.

Below: Major foreign holders of Treasury securities, plus Apple. Not seeing the bar chart? Click here.

My take: I have theories, but I don’t have the facts.

See also: Tim Cook’s DC charm offensive may be working


  1. Fred Stein said:
    Luca said Apple seeks to be cash neutral. With $60B in various maturities, it seems Apple would pay them off as they mature, since prevailing interest rates are going up. Apple could pay them with repatriate cash or current cash flow and still raise dividends by over 10% and continue buybacks at 5% p.a. and still have cash form acquisitions, increased R&D, and other big bold initiatives.

    Speculation about Munchin’s motives (or Cook’s motive to invite him)? Warning of the risk of provoking retaliations to tariffs. Robert Ross clarifies here,

    March 18, 2018
  2. Ken Cheng said:
    Apple’s $60+B, are probably hidden in the Ireland figure.

    “Country Attribution. Users should be aware that the country attribution of foreign holdings of U.S. securities, including U.S. Treasury securities, is imperfect for two main reasons. The first reason is that some foreign owners entrust the safekeeping of their securities to institutions that are neither in the United States nor in the owner’s country of residence. For example, a German investor may buy a U.S. security and place it in the custody of a Swiss bank. In the periodic surveys of holdings of long-term securities, such a holding typically is recorded vis-a-vis Switzerland rather than Germany. This custodial bias contributes to the large recorded holdings in major financial centers including Belgium, the Caribbean banking centers, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.”

    I suppose Apple has the capability to buy more Treasury securities, instead of $157B worth of Corporates, and I guess it’s possible that if a trade war occurs, the foreign buying of US Treasuries would slow, but then, perhaps the Fed won’t raise rates 4 times this year.

    If Mnuchin gives Apple the right to directly purchase Treasuries instead of having to go thru a Broker-Dealer, then I suppose your suspicions were right!

    March 18, 2018

Leave a Reply