Just as the Bank of China announces it is interested in reducing its foreign assets — or, in other words, in stopping taking on American debt — it seems Japan may be doing something along the same lines. Reports Japan Today:
Two Japanese nationals were detained by Italian financial police last week after trying to enter Switzerland with $134 billion worth of undeclared U.S. bonds, mostly Treasury bonds, an Italian daily said Wednesday. The Japanese consulate general in Milan confirmed that the detention had taken place and said it was trying to confirm with Italian authorities whether the two were indeed Japanese nationals and their identities.
According to the report in il Giornale, two unidentified Japanese in their 50s concealed the bonds, including 249 U.S. Treasury bonds each worth $500 million, in a suitcase with a false bottom that was searched by the Italian authorities June 3 when they were in Chiasso, at the border with Switzerland, about 50 kilometers north of Milan. The daily did not say on what charges they have been detained, but the two may have been detained on suspicion of attempting to take a large amount of securities out of Italy without declaring it because the paper said they had not declared the bonds.
1. The Japanese are trying to secretly divest themselves of about 25% of their US debt. (They own about $600B in US debt.)
2. The Japanese are acting as Chinese or North Korean agents in trying to help them divest themselves of US debt in secret.
3. There is an enormous sum of counterfeit US debt out there and these guys are trying to sell some of it.
None of these cases bodes well for the US debt market.