[From a comment I left on Tuscany Circle blog]
Kind of simple actually. The creditors have more to lose than gain in the collapse. The creditors, mainly China, have a huge stake in American debt. Like any other bankruptcy, the creditors lose too. So the creditors must get out without causing a stampede that wipes their position out. There are several ways really. One they can reduce what they loan and extract tighter concessions on the loan. The Chinese have reduced the term of their treasuries purchase from 30 year notes to seven year notes and interest is up. Second, they can increase their imports and pay for them with US Dollars reducing their cash holdings. Note that this does not have to be with us, it can be any other country, and can be at a discount off par value - that is they can pay generous prices to keep up the illusion. This spending can be petroleum, land, food, or virtually anything. It could be the Panama Canal. Oh wait, they've done that.
Or they could surreptitiously dump the money so as not to start a panic that would render their dollar holdings worthless just like yours will be when the government goes default. Several weeks ago, $134B in bearer bonds were caught being smuggled through Italy by two "Japanese" men. The story died a quiet death. The news didn't find it an interesting story. The US Government declined comment. It meant nothing. Someone is exiting holding our money in favor of G. Gordon Liddy and Gold. They just don't want anyone else to know about it. Only one problem with all this. It is a game of musical chairs. Someone (many?) will be left standing when the music stops. But you don't want it to collapse until you are clear of the carnage.