What On Htrae Is Going On?

In the early 1960s, a new planet was discovered in the outer reaches of the universe, and it turned out to be a strange place, populated by some weird and wonderful characters. Originally the planet was a normal spheroid, but due to a peculiar set of events the planet is now cube-shaped.

The planet was given the name Htrae.

Htrae is better known as Bizarro World.

There are differing opinions as to how the planet was created, but it is generally acknowledged that it was fused together from stray meteors in order to create a home for the Bizarros — a race of people created by Bizarro #1 through the use of a duplicator ray.

The Bizarros are imperfect duplicates of humans, mostly (with the odd Kryptonian feature thrown in for good measure), and many of them, including the original Bizarro himself (Bizarro #1), are actually pretty close copies of Bizarro's arch-nemesis, Superman.

Everything about Bizarro World is backwards, and the planet functions under the Bizarro Code, which states:

"Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!"

All Bizarros have chalky-white skin, but other than that they resemble the human they were duplicated from. They even share that person's memories and feelings; however, they lack the clarity of mind to be able to act as the original would, and they cannot function as citizens of human society.

In "The Bizarro Jerry," the 137th episode of the long-running "show about nothing", Seinfeld, our Superman-obsessed comedian is confronted by "Kevin", his opposite in every respect, a product of Bizarro World, the place where everything is diametrically opposed to the natural order of things as we are familiar with it. The episode has become familiar to millions; however, nothing in either Superman comics or Seinfeld is quite as Bizarro as the financial landscape in which we find ourselves today.

Well, almost nothing.

In one edition of Tales of the Bizarro World, the planet's mayor appoints Bizarro #1 to investigate a crime "... because you are stupider than the entire Bizarro police force put together". This is both intended and received as a great compliment.

Ironically enough, in the very same edition there is a panel of the cartoon that shows a Bizarro bond salesman doing a roaring trade in Bizarro bonds:

In case you can't quite read the text, the exchange between the salesman and his extremely eager crowd of buyers goes as follows:

The bond salesman holds a bunch of bonds in his hands and implores the eager crowd to buy them, promising listeners that these particular bonds are guaranteed to lose money for anybody who purchases them.

Naturally, this being Bizarro World, the response from the crowd is somewhat contrary to that which would be expected on Earth:


As farcical as Bizarro World is meant to be and as much as everything that happens in it is supposed to be the absolute antithesis of what would happen in the ordinary world in which we are all supposed to function, the very scene depicted in the panel is being acted out right now here in the "real world".

There are plenty of bonds for sale across the asset class that more or less guarantee losses to anyone foolish enough to buy them and hold them to maturity.

Let's take our friends in Napaj, for example.

Napaj has a debt-to-GDP ratio that dwarfs the rest of the world's, and this is absolutely no secret to anybody. The country has been mired in deflation for 20 years — which is also no secret to anybody — and this past week I watched Kyle Bass once again lay out the flawless logic of his case as to why Napaj's debt is about to suddenly matter to everyone and why the country is about to hit the wall in a big way.

Of course, Kyle's premise is based upon logic and perfectly reasoned mathematical arguments that do NOT play well in Bizarro World; but let's indulge his reasoning and see if, in a real-world context, the Bank of Japan is, in actual fact, no better than the Bizarro bond salesman in the comic book.

As Kyle points out, debt aside, Napaj's trade balance is a disaster — and undergoing anything but a cyclical decline, as the first chart on the next page clearly demonstrates. With the launch of Abenomics, the path Napaj is heading down leads to a place where the numbers don't add up: Bizarro World.

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