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Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.
July 24, 2006 6:59 AM   Subscribe

“I always say that if North Korea only produced conventional goods for export to the degree of quality and precision that they produce counterfeit United States currency, they would be a powerhouse like South Korea, not an industrial basket case.”
posted by Blazecock Pileon (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fascinating stuff. I especially like this reversal of the norm:
...the “defects” of the supernote are arguably improvements. He recalled looking at the back of a $100 supernote under a magnifying glass and noticing that the hands on the clock tower of Independence Hall were sharper on the counterfeit than on the genuine.

From all accounts, superb quality is a feature of much North Korean contraband: methamphetamine of extraordinarily high purity; counterfeit Viagra rumored to exceed the bona fide product in its potency; supernotes.
Also, here's a registration-free weblog-friendly link. There should be something about this in the FAQ, even though it now plugs Reddit.
posted by jack_mo at 7:12 AM on July 24, 2006


With no risk of interferance, there's really no reason that any group of people couldn't produce perfict counterfits. They only real way to tell would be to have 'secret' marking methods which are unknown except for the secret service, which is probably what happened here.
posted by delmoi at 7:25 AM on July 24, 2006


The United States government gets to produce, at very little cost, as much currency as it wants, and can then extract real goods and services in exchange for this worthless paper. A $100 bill costs exactly as much to make as a $1, yet they can extract 100 times as much value from the economy.

It's a great racket. Of course they don't want NK horning in on it.
posted by Malor at 7:26 AM on July 24, 2006


Another method would be signed random data in a way that can't be replicated.
posted by delmoi at 7:27 AM on July 24, 2006


The United States government gets to produce, at very little cost, as much currency as it wants, and can then extract real goods and services in exchange for this worthless paper. A $100 bill costs exactly as much to make as a $1, yet they can extract 100 times as much value from the economy.

That's not true. The treasury decides how much money to print, and as far as I know none of the elected or appointed members of the government can change that. So legally it can't print as much as it wants, although it could change the law.

Secondly if the government printed as much as it wants, it would cause inflation.

Finally $1 bills lack many security features found in larger denominations, so they are probably cheaper to print.
posted by delmoi at 7:29 AM on July 24, 2006


The United States government gets to produce, at very little cost, as much currency as it wants, and can then extract real goods and services in exchange for this worthless paper.

And other countries can't?
posted by oaf at 7:42 AM on July 24, 2006


The United States government gets to produce, at very little cost, as much currency as it wants, and can then extract real goods and services in exchange for this worthless paper. A $100 bill costs exactly as much to make as a $1, yet they can extract 100 times as much value from the economy.

It's a great racket. Of course they don't want NK horning in on it.
posted by Malor at 9:26 AM CST on July 24


Right. And what happens when the world market is flooded with US green? It loses value. ECON 101 stuff here.
posted by ninjew at 7:48 AM on July 24, 2006


Secondly if the government printed as much as it wants, it would cause inflation.
posted by delmoi at 7:29 AM PST


VS the non inflation going on now eh?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:52 AM on July 24, 2006


One link nytimes.com FPP with no obligatory bugmenot workaround and oh, fuck it.
posted by damnthesehumanhands at 7:55 AM on July 24, 2006


And what happens when the world market is flooded with US green? It loses value.

That's happening as we speak. We keep importing like there's no tomorrow, going further into debt, and at the same time (some would argue) purposefully deflating our currency to make exports stronger and to make our debts less valuable. But that's a discussion for another thread.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:55 AM on July 24, 2006


Maybe they can use some of those fake dollars to buy some trains so they can stop stealing China's.
posted by PenDevil at 8:05 AM on July 24, 2006


Thanks for the article Pileon, I've heard of North Korea as being a center of counterfeiting efforts, and the article really shows how deft they are at doing it.

Some more information on Supernotes.
More information about currency designs (note no $100 bill information).
posted by phyrewerx at 9:08 AM on July 24, 2006


Thank goodness they're not counterfeiting oil.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:11 AM on July 24, 2006


New printers that cost 100's of millions of dollars? I'd like to know more.. for educational purposes.
posted by stbalbach at 10:29 AM on July 24, 2006


Thanks, Blazecock Pileon. I'm in the process of reading Under The Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader. (amazon)
posted by shoepal at 10:32 AM on July 24, 2006


stbalbach writes "New printers that cost 100's of millions of dollars? I'd like to know more"

I wonder if the manufacturer takes US dollars?
posted by Mitheral at 10:46 AM on July 24, 2006


This is a huge, huge part of national defense. Still...it’s kinda goofy.

I saw things... They have tsetse flies down there the size of eagles.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:23 PM on July 24, 2006


When I click the link, I got an add for HP laser printers. At first I thought that had something do with the link, about how good the printers were at making fake bills. Imagine how disappointed I was when it flashed over the the main article.
posted by Hactar at 4:46 PM on July 24, 2006


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