Last week, Italian authorities detained two Japanese men attempting to cross the border into Switzerland carrying a suitcase stuffed with $134 billion in US bonds. The men are either massive counterfeiters or—even scarier—the fourth-largest creditors of the US Treasury, with enough cash to buy three or four countries. If the bonds are real, writes Bloomberg columnist William Pesek, "the US risks losing control over its monetary supply on a massive scale."
The suitcase has received little press, as if in these crazy times it's expected that "a couple of travelers have more US debt than Brazil." Yet in the absence of any official US statement, conspiracy theorists are pouncing; one financial blogger thinks the Treasury has been selling Japan bonds under the table for years. Whatever the truth is, America needs to sell trillions of bonds in the coming years, and this is "the last thing Geithner and Bernanke need right now."