I found an interesting document at the BEA website that is a good top level overview of these reports. You can access the .pdf file here.
These BEA ITA reports cover the US balance of trade in the Current Account, as well as foreign purchases of US financial assets (such as Treasury Securities) in the Financial Account.
Fear mongers tell us often that (cue 'The Prospector') "We're borrowin' from the Chinese!", where we in the MMT paradigm would say rather that the Chinese are simply purchasing USD financial assets with the USD balances they accrue due to their outsized trade surplus with the US.
Who is right? Perhaps we should go to a neutral party to rule on this disagreement? Would the US BEA, the official government agency that maintains the records of these transactions qualify as an objective, unbiased authority on this topic? I would say so.
Then here is an excerpt from the BEA document I linked to above:
The ITAs apply a double-entry system of accounting in recording transactions: for any entry there must be counterpart entry. Exports of goods and services, income receipts, unilateral transfers to the United States, capital account receipts, decreases in U.S. assets abroad, and increases in foreign-owned liabilities in the United States are shown as credits (with a positive sign). Imports of goods and services, income payments, unilateral transfers from the United States, capital account payments, increases in U.S. assets abroad, and decreases in foreign owned liabilities in the United States are shown as debits (with a negative sign). For each credit entry there must be an equal and offsetting debit entry, and vice versa. For example, if a foreign resident purchased a U.S. good with a check drawn against its U.S. bank account, the offset to the credit entry for U.S. goods exports would be a debit entry for foreign-owned bank-reported liabilities, reflecting the reduction in foreign-owned assets in the United States
So there you have it, right from the US Government official source of all the data that is the subject of all the "controversy". Let me repeat: "For each credit entry there MUST be an equal and offsetting debit entry (I hope you saw the word "must" and know what it means).
So here is the "T-account" breakdown according to the BEA; Chinese trade surplus: DEBIT, corresponding increase in Chinese owned US liabilities: CREDIT. That's all folks. There is no "borrowing" or "lending" involved here.
These are not my opinions, or Mike's opinions, or Tom's or John's or Kevin's opinions; or any of the MMT thought leader's opinions. This is a statement of fact promulgated by the US BEA.
Someone needs to tell former tax collector extraordinaire Rep. Michele "Hu's Your Daddy?" Bachmann that the official US government agency in charge of maintaining the accounting for international transactions, (btw an agency that she approves the operating budget for via Congressional appropriation) disagrees with her moron description of international accounting transactions.