Suitcase With $134 Billion Puts Dollar on Edge
It’s a plot better suited for a John Le Carre novel.
Two Japanese men are detained in Italy after allegedly attempting to take $134 billion worth of U.S. bonds over the border into Switzerland. Details are maddeningly sketchy, so naturally the global rumor mill is kicking into high gear.
Are these would-be smugglers agents of Kim Jong Il stashing North Korea’s cash in a Swiss vault? Bagmen for Nigerian Internet scammers? Was the money meant for terrorists looking to buy nuclear warheads? Is Japan dumping its dollars secretly? Are the bonds real or counterfeit?
The implications of the securities being legitimate would be bigger than investors may realize. At a minimum, it would suggest that the U.S. risks losing control over its monetary supply on a massive scale.
The trillions of dollars of debt the U.S. will issue in the next couple of years needs buyers. Attracting them will require making sure that existing ones aren’t losing faith in the U.S.’s ability to control the dollar.
The dollar is, for better or worse, the core of our world economy and it’s best to keep it stable. News that’s more fitting for international spy novels than the financial pages won’t help that effort. It is incumbent upon the U.S. Treasury to get to the bottom of this tale and keep markets informed.
Think about it: These two guys were carrying the gross domestic product of New Zealand or enough for three Beijing Olympics. If economies were for sale, the men could buy Slovakia and Croatia and have plenty left over for Mongolia or Cambodia. Yes, they could have built vacation homes amidst Genghis Khan’s Gobi Desert or the famed Temples of Angkor. Bernard Madoff who?
These men carrying bonds concealed in the bottom of their luggage also would be the fourth-largest U.S. creditors. It makes you wonder if some of the time Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner spends keeping the Chinese and Japanese invested in dollars should be devoted to well-financed men crossing the Italian-Swiss border.
On his blog, the Market Ticker, Karl Denninger wonders if the Treasury “has been surreptitiously issuing bonds to, say, Japan, as a means of financing deficits that someone didn’t want reported over the last, oh, say 10 or 20 years.” Adds Denninger: “Let’s hope we get those answers, and this isn’t one of those ‘funny things’ that just disappears into the night.”
This is still a story with far more questions than answers. It’s odd, though, that it’s not garnering more media attention. Interest is likely to grow. The last thing Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke need right now is tens of billions more of U.S. bonds -- or even high-quality fake ones -- suddenly popping up around the globe.
more of the story
Why is the apprehension of two Japanese men with $134.5 billion of U.S. Treasury bonds hidden in their suitcases not on the Nightly News? This is a huge story and could indicate a massive coverup by the U.S. and Japanese governments. Why isn't the Secretary of the Treasury being interviewed? Why is ABC handing over their network to the Obama propaganda machine when possibly the biggest financial fraud story in history is right under their noses. Only Karl Deninger is on top of this story. Read the almost unbelievable facts below and judge whether the whole truth will be allowed to be told. I'm sure 60 Minutes and their 90 year old correspondents are all over it, unless they have an hour planned for Michelle Obama's fashion sense and progress on the vegetable garden.
Milan (AsiaNews) – Italy’s financial police (Guardia italiana di Finanza) has seized US bonds worth US 134.5 billion from two Japanese nationals at Chiasso (40 km from Milan) on the border between Italy and Switzerland. They include 249 US Federal Reserve bonds worth US$ 500 million each, plus ten Kennedy bonds and other US government securities worth a billion dollar each.
Those sound like Bearer Bonds - at least the Kennedy ones do.
We no longer issue those (nor does pretty much anyone else) for obvious reasons - they're essentially money and can be had in VERY large size, making them great vehicles for various illegal enterprises.
But folks: This is $134.5 billion dollars worth.
If they're real, what government (the only entity that would have such a cache) is trying to unload them?
If they're fake, this is arguably the biggest counterfeiting operation ever, by a factor of many times. I've seen news about various counterfeiting operations over the years that have made me chuckle, but this one, if that's what it is, is absolutely jaw-dropping.
The cute part of this is that if the certificates are real Italy just got a hell of a bonanza - their money laundering laws provide for a statutory 40% penalty for failure to declare instruments and cash in excess of $10,000 Euros, which means they'd garner a close-to-$40 billion dollar windfall.
That ought to help their budget problems!
Notice, by the way, that the US Media has totally ignored this story - even though the securities in question are allegedly US instruments.
Gee, I wonder why? Might the authorities know they're real and be just a wee bit nervous that disclosure of a sovereign attempting to covertly dump nearly $140 billion in debt could cause a wee bit of panic, given that we're running nearly $200 billion a month in deficits?
Inquiring minds want to know what's really going on here.
more on the biggest financial crime in history
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE
From a commenter on Quinn's blog:
To add to the mystery, consider that Geithner, in April 2009 stated the following:
"Treasury still has about $134.5 billion (92 billion pounds) available out of an originally approved $700 billion for bolstering banks' capital and said he wouldn't need to ask Congress for more."
$134.5 billion is the exact amount of the bonds that were seized.