$134.5 Billion in Smuggled US Treasury Bills equals 12.4 sandwiches in North Korea
Two Japanese people were caught by Italian police trying to smuggle $134.5 billion in US Treasury bills into Switzerland in a false bottom compartment in a suitcase. Apparently this is illegal. But while it certainly does seem suspicious, perhaps we shouldn't jumping to conclusions and assume that an intentional misdeed was performed here. After all, this could just be a cutural misunderstanding. You see, people in Japan have a habit of leaving large amounts of cash lying around. I know that when I was in Japan I'd often have $15,000 in yen piled up on my dresser. Perhaps some Japanese person just happened to keep $134.5 billion in US T-bills in their suitcase, equal to one fifth of the total amount of US debt held by Japan, and then forgot all about it when they decided to fly to Switzerland for the annual cuckoo clock festival?
On the other other hand, when I think if counterfeiting and Japan, I think North Korea. I know North Korean submariners would often turn up on Himi beach and offer to trade US dollars, Euros, bearer bonds, treasury bills, the Mona Lisa and so on in return for a sandwich. If you couldn't get a stack of greasy crayola greenbacks at least an inch high in return for a sandwich you'd been ripped off. Now $134.5 billion in US treasury bills, some of them with a face value of $500 million, is a kind of stupid thing to counterfiet, as people are unlikely to simply take your word that they are fair dinkum and not check the serial numbers, for the days when the local corner store would accept a $500 million T-bill at face value are long gone. But nothing has stopped our friends north of the 38th parallel from counterfieting strange things in the past, and when the boss says counterfeit $134.5 billion in treasury bills you counterfeit $134.5 billion in treasury bills without mentioning that they are impossible to pass off because a bullet in the head tomorrow is better than a bullet in the head today. (Not that too many forgers get shot, usually it's more a case that the forgers pretend to forge and the secret police pretend to shoot them.) And anyway, maybe they were hoping they could find someone very trusting with a spare $500 million who didn't feel the need to verify them. And who knows, maybe the two Japanese people caught with the bonds handed over a huge stack of sandwiches for them.
But the Japanese smugglers where fools from trying to get the bonds into Switzerland. They should have gone straight to where the real money is with North Korean forgeries. Selling them on ebay.