Skip

Funny Money
January 13, 2008 11:51 PM   Subscribe

Super funny money turning up on the world stage
Along with pranks going on in the gulf this week, some funny stuff going on with US Currency as well - Perhaps part of the explanation of the seemingly endless run on gold?
posted by specialk420 (52 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm pretty sure it's the CIA printing up money off the books to use in operations.

And no, it has nothing to do with the run on gold. The run on gold is because of inflationary pressures and the US's crushing dual deficits.
posted by empath at 11:53 PM on January 13, 2008


geez sumbody oughtta tells those cats in Tokyo with the big-ass blown-up Benjamins that MICROSCOPES work on paper thingies, too.
posted by panamax at 11:54 PM on January 13, 2008


I'm with empath, btw; that crossed my mind while reading the FPP.

I'm sure we can't imagine the degree of the private-sector incursions the CIA has been involved in [cough, Zapata] in the postwar world.

"I didn't think it was wrong, I thought it was a neat idea."
posted by panamax at 11:59 PM on January 13, 2008


speaking of funny money, my buzz on picking up some of these babies was harshed on by this, the fact that counterfeiters were taking tons of gold and making fake 100,000 yen pieces with it.
posted by panamax at 12:05 AM on January 14, 2008


Here's a theory -- The CIA is using it to find terrorist money flows. Give it to undercover agents, the money goes into some terrorist operation, it turns up in North Korea, Iran, or whatever. Then they chase the connection backwards.
posted by empath at 12:07 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm with empath, btw; that crossed my mind while reading the FPP.

I thought it was a spam post for WoW gold.


...Man, I'm tired.
posted by spiderwire at 12:07 AM on January 14, 2008


yo panamax - i a fella who made alot of dough - ALOT by owning the actual metal... kinda lumpy under the mattress though.
posted by specialk420 at 12:13 AM on January 14, 2008


So this is like a three-for-one post?
posted by From Bklyn at 12:17 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gold is still off its historical high in real dollars, though. Needs to hit $1600 an ounce to outdo the early 80's. Eh?
posted by maxwelton at 12:17 AM on January 14, 2008


I wonder if this is a chimera. That people are looking for these "supernotes" and so when they find $100 bills with tiny printing errors they conclude that they're counterfeit and not that the printing was imperfect.

That said it's perhaps high time to quote William Gibson's observation that hundred dollar bills are the "international currency of bad shit."
posted by Kattullus at 12:20 AM on January 14, 2008


Where kin I git one a them big ol' huge hunnert dollar bills? Cuz I want one.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:25 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I find the supernote story very interesting, but I'm failing to buy the suggestion that all three links are related. Unless you happen to have some RonPaul2008 literature to help clarify things. Do you?
posted by mumkin at 12:34 AM on January 14, 2008


gold isn't increasing in value, that's an illusion. the dollar is decreasing in value due to shortsighted policy, lowering interest rates to appease investors, rampant individual and collective borrowing beyond our means to repay, profligate spending in furtherance of foreign military adventures and domestic misadventures and the corporate greed that inspires "do this deal now for our commission and the devil take the hindmost." the greatest inflation engine is the fact that we're now the world's largest debtor nation, and we're gonna have to repay our debt in dollars, and it only makes sense that we devalue our dollars through unconscious, collective action before we repay them (kudos to our point man ben bernanke for doing this even better than i could). as a metals bull, i also recommend silver, platinum and palladium for their own physical, industrial superlatives.
posted by bruce at 12:48 AM on January 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


"Gold is still off its historical high in real dollars, though. Needs to hit $1600 an ounce to outdo the early 80's. Eh?"

At least $1,600/oz but it all depends upon whose M3 and inflation data you use. I've seen some papers putting the inflation adjusted price of gold at roughly $2,200 and other papers (taking the growth of M3 into account) as high as $4,300 / oz or so.

One things for certain - given that a 50bps interest rate cut is expected this month, and future interest rates cuts also highly probable - we'll probably see more upside to the dollar price of gold in the near term.
posted by Mutant at 1:00 AM on January 14, 2008


...I'm failing to buy the suggestion that all three links are related.

See, here's how it happens, deep in a mountain in N.Korea/Iran/Honduras is the most sophistimacated printing press this side of Warshington D.C. In it, secret Delta force operatives print the super bills and then ship them out by the largest, most highly trained flock of carrier pidgeons ever congregated. The money goes directly to where it is needed. Most often, this turns out to be a small bungalow in Tampa with an outsized pigeon coop in its backyard (there is another in Mumbai and another in a suburb of Kyoto). From there they money is trucked around to pawnshops and trade shows buying up gold. Lots and lots and lotsa gold. Gold!

The gold is then collected in big piles in a secret vault in Switzerland. This gold is then rolled very thing and used as the wrapper of Cadbury chocolates WHICH are then used to pay off the notorious "Phillipino Monkey" cartel. A cartel of propagandists that Rupert Murdoch has, for years, been trying to buy-out. Their resistance to his "bank drafts" and "bearer bonds" and "stock equity" eternally stumping him (thank god for us he hasn't sussed out the gold and chocolate key to their greedy little hearts). This cartel is so widely known and revered that in certain State Department circles it is believed that "to control the Monkey is to control the seas."

Which is the whole point. The axis of evil, God Help Us All, has an "in" with 'The Monkey"! We're all doomed!
posted by From Bklyn at 1:05 AM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


The gold is then collected in big piles in a secret vault in Switzerland. This gold is then rolled very thin and used as the wrapper of Cadbury chocolates WHICH are then used to pay off the notorious "Phillipino Monkey" cartel.

Wow. This must be what it feels like to attend a Ron Paul meetup.
posted by spiderwire at 1:42 AM on January 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


One thing I don't understand -- if they're so good, how do we know they're counterfeit at all?
posted by effugas at 1:43 AM on January 14, 2008


One thing I don't understand -- if they're so good, how do we know they're counterfeit at all?

They smell of pigeon.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:54 AM on January 14, 2008


According to the article, there are at least three differences: a few imperfections in their attempt to update with US modifications, the presence of certain extra lines, and the absence of certain microsocopic ink splatters.
posted by honest knave at 1:56 AM on January 14, 2008


Although the Secret Service declined to comment, so it's probably anyone's guess what the real differences are.
posted by honest knave at 1:56 AM on January 14, 2008


Hmmmm....maybe we should take a second look at Dr. Ron Paul.... http://youtube.com/watch?v=DyAlZn6CZZ8
posted by GreyFoxVT at 3:00 AM on January 14, 2008


Everybody's got something to hide 'cept for me and my Filipino Monkey.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:16 AM on January 14, 2008


I remember reading about the so-called "superdollar" a couple of years ago -- pretty interesting stuff.

It's ridiculous that this article is spread over four pages. Here it is on one page.
posted by churl at 4:50 AM on January 14, 2008


One thing I don't understand -- if they're so good, how do we know they're counterfeit at all?

The bills' serial numbers are either invalid or known to be duplicates.
posted by fatllama at 4:54 AM on January 14, 2008


Gold is still off its historical high in real dollars, though. Needs to hit $1600 an ounce to outdo the early 80's. Eh?

Like arriving at a party at 5 in the morning with an unopened bottle of vodka and a lampshade on your head.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:40 AM on January 14, 2008


I imagine the conversation goes something like this:

"Hey 은자, should we print some won today for a change?"

"Uh, nah."
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:54 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I admit, when I first saw the photo of the blown-up bill in the first link I thought I stumbled onto The Onion...

Seriously, this is a very interesting article, thanks for posting it. I've been fascinated with counterfeit currency ever since 1985, when I became more or less obsessed with the movie To Live and Die in LA.

I seem to remember reading about "supernotes" in the New Yorker magazine some years ago, and I believe that Iran was blamed, claiming that the notes were being printed on American made machinery that was sold or given to the Shah. I'm not finding that article online right now. Here's an article from 2006 about "supernotes".

While it probably wouldn't deter the counterfeiters operating at this level of sophistication, several countries have abandoned "paper" in favor of plastic for banknotes.
Much more durable, cleaner, and harder to counterfeit.
posted by Tube at 5:58 AM on January 14, 2008


So basically Rush Hour 2 was a documentary?
posted by Billegible at 6:03 AM on January 14, 2008



So this is like a three-for-one post?


I've been sitting on the bench for while, thanks for your patience with my ball-hogging.

Plastic banknotes? Sounds alot like a the visa and mastercards I haul around with me everyday and share my private shopping information and habits with as well. Perhaps a bar code on the back of our neck would be a good deterrent to counterfeiting?
posted by specialk420 at 7:34 AM on January 14, 2008


Plastic banknotes? Sounds alot like a the visa and mastercards I haul around with me everyday and share my private shopping information and habits with as well.

Uh, I think "Plastic" banknotes simply means currency printed on polymer sheets, rather then on paper. That makes them more durable, and probably a little harder to counterfeit.
posted by delmoi at 7:49 AM on January 14, 2008


I like the term "illegal parallel print of a genuine" from the Supernotes article.

When does a fake stop being a fake? If a bill is, detail-by-detail, the exact same as a "real" bill, is it actually fake? To me, a piece of paper that I could exchange anywhere for goods/services is real...or real enough that it's real-ness is of no real consequence.
posted by ekstasis23 at 8:14 AM on January 14, 2008


Put me under the "CIA" column. If there's anything I have learned about US government institutions in the past few years, it's that absolutely no one has any idea what anyone else is doing. Wouldn't it be hilarious if they had an entire, secret print shop?

M3 (mentioned above by mutant) so insane at this point that it doesn't really matter, though. $50m, or even $500m, of fake USD floating around is nothing to $15 trillion ...
posted by blacklite at 8:21 AM on January 14, 2008


The only way to distinguish some of the "supernotes," experts say, is to compare photographically blown-up sections with magnifying instruments.

Pardon my ignorance, but how could this be more accurate than, say looking through a microscope?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:28 AM on January 14, 2008


Super funny money? Sounds like hilarious money to me.
posted by JDHarper at 8:30 AM on January 14, 2008


Uh, I think "Plastic" banknotes simply means currency printed on polymer sheets, rather then on paper.

Would it really be harder to reproduce? maybe...? sound like the super counterfeiters were able to get the actual paper the US is using... why wouldnt they be able to get the same plastic polymers?
posted by specialk420 at 8:35 AM on January 14, 2008


The plastic notes use Securency's Guardian® polymer substrate. It allows for some cool tricks. Still, as you say, if the supercounterfeiters can get ahold of the actual special sell-only-to-US-Govt paper, ink, etc. then there's no reason to assume that they couldn't get a healthy supply of polymer substrate as well.
posted by mumkin at 9:12 AM on January 14, 2008


Interesting articles and links. Thanks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:23 AM on January 14, 2008


I guess the CIA can make even more money from the drug smuggling if they buy the drugs with counterfeit bills. All the smart criminals are in the government.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:49 AM on January 14, 2008


I'm pretty sure it's the CIA printing up money off the books to use in operations.

In a fight between the CIA and the Secret Service, I wonder who would win?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:51 AM on January 14, 2008


Since the FED is a 100% private bank, what difference does it make if North Korea prints Dollars instead of the FED printing them?

Helicopter Ben should be glad that the Koreans are helping putting "liquidity" in the market...

**G**
posted by yoyo_nyc at 10:15 AM on January 14, 2008


I don't know that I would call these "Superbills" I mean, I have yet to see them do a single super thing; no flying, no heat vision, hell, not even any super-cold breath.

I'd think that they were anti-superbills, maybe from an alternate dimension or something, but Ben Franklin is lacking the notorious goatee, typically cultivated for that kind of situation.

As near as I can tell, these are ordinary bills, who have been CIA trained to act as sleeper currency. When activated they will undoubtedly attempt to kill someone important, possibly at the behest of some monocled bad guy who cackles too much, and has a penchant for stroking his Persian cat while uttering one liners like "You will never stop me, I hold all the cards! Mwahahaha!"

This entire thing just stinks of evil genius in a skull shaped volcano if you ask me.
posted by quin at 10:35 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Funny money
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:20 AM on January 14, 2008


in meantime gold hit record high at $914
After worrying about the dollar here on mefi years ago I got my act together and hedged big time. Bush, Bernanke, and Greenspan should all be hauled up to capitol hill and do some splainin' in my opinion.
posted by specialk420 at 12:17 PM on January 14, 2008


A very interesting situation. When does a counterfeit stop being a counterfeit? Or perhaps better put, when do we stop caring?

The reason that a shopkeeper might use a counterfeit-detection pen on $50 bills isn't because he probably really cares whether you're passing funny money; it's because he's worried that by accepting the bill, he'll end up out its value if it turns out to be fake and the bank refuses it.

But if you had counterfeits that were only detectable at the very highest levels (like, by some expert in the Secret Service's secret lair), then there's no reason for the man on the street to care. As long as it'll deposit fine, or be usable at the next store down the road, it's a bit academic whether it was originally printed by the U.S. BEP or the Iran's Department of Evil Printing. It's not "fake money" at that point, it is money.

I've always wondered whether the Mint puts a whole bunch of extra security features into bills besides the ones they tell us all about. I can only assume they do; it's too obvious a security method to ignore. In fact, it would make sense if there were two separate sets of security features, one for the public at large, and the second for the government.

This makes sense because the reason why the government is looking for forged bills is entirely different than the average person. As I said earlier, the 'average Joe' only cares whether his bill will be accepted down the line. So there's a set of security features he, and other merchants, and his bank, can verify -- these prevent most types of fakes. However, the government wants to prevent all forgeries, including the ones that are so good they'll pass in public. So they have a second set of security features, which are used to discriminate 'official' and 'unofficial' (forged) bills, even if all the other security features exist and they pass as normal bills.

I'm not sure I really buy the CIA theory completely. They have (real) money to burn; why screw around with the DIY method? Using it to back-trace terrorists seems interesting, but you'd think they'd have squashed the investigation by now if that was the plan. Plus, if you're going to do that, why not use some more easily tracable/scannable form of identification on the special bills? (Say, using ink that has a very rare radionucleotide, or something else unambiguous?)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:18 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hear publisher’s clearinghouse is passing huge phoney checks.

“Wouldn't it be hilarious if they had an entire, secret print shop?”

Actually, it is a good way to track the illegal drug trade. Counterfeit currency, if it’s good enough, is actually accepted (at higher ‘cost’ if knowingly accepted) in many illegal transactions.
So phoney money makes up a good deal of the black market economy. And in some ways your street cred is better if you’re using it. So, plenty of useful ways to use in-house made bills to track that economy. Nothing mysterious about it. It’s not for a particular investigation, it’s a bellweather.
Like monitoring the atmosphere, helps you to predict storms. If cold air starts piling up somewhere and there’s a warm front nearby, not so hard to predict the coming storm. Same deal with the phoney bills. They start pilling up somewhere and depending on the relations (drugs, weapons, components, etc. etc.) you can gauge what’s coming and more easily direct investigative resources.

“In a fight between the CIA and the Secret Service, I wonder who would win?”

The NSA.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:16 PM on January 14, 2008


I'm not sure what you're talking about. There is No Such Agency.

Besides, everyone in 'the know', knows that the OSS would win...

What? You thought they were decommissioned years ago? Ha, that's just what they wanted you to think...

posted by quin at 3:55 PM on January 14, 2008


Still, as you say, if the supercounterfeiters can get ahold of the actual special sell-only-to-US-Govt paper, ink, etc. then there's no reason to assume that they couldn't get a healthy supply of polymer substrate as well.

I think it's easier to believe the US presses are compromised.

They have (real) money to burn; why screw around with the DIY method?

Every dollar they don't spend of government funding, is (real) money they get to put in their pockets. The fakies go to the cartels and criminal organizations on the CIA payroll.

And I suspect it makes it easier for the USA to run up a huge debt and then walk away from it by declaring the old dollar null and void, print new bills.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:46 PM on January 14, 2008


So they have a second set of security features, which are used to discriminate 'official' and 'unofficial' (forged) bills, even if all the other security features exist and they pass as normal bills.

I've thought DNA marking of some sort would make good sense. Or isotopes. Both have been possible for eons.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:50 PM on January 14, 2008


I think empath has put us in the right ballpark (thanks!)-- it's definitely tracer money being injected abroad by the US Government-- but a much bigger league game is being played there than anything to do with terrorism, I'm guessing.

An enormous amount of US cash is circulating around and being held by central banks and citizens in other countries as reserve currency and as the medium of exchange for many intercountry transactions, of which the international trade in oil is only a part. But the Dollar has fallen so far, so fast that any country or individual who has been doing this is taking a tremendous bath, and has been replacing those dollars with a mix of other currencies emphasizing Euros as fast as they can.

But what are they doing with those Dollars they don't need any more and which are consuming themselves to ash as they hold them in their hands? In the normal course of events they would sell them on the open market, and the small entities are doing just that and driving the Dollar down as we are seeing, but the big government players realize the Dollar would collapse before they unloaded even a fraction of their holdings, and possibly trigger a world-wide recession, if they tried it.

They don't have that many good options, really-- they can't buy anything abroad with it, no one wants it; if they try to ship it over here to buy things openly (we have to accept it, after all) the Bush administration would put a stop to it, for a bunch of different reasons, and might actually do something really drastic.

But they could smuggle it into the US, and buy things they thought would hold value with it, no one but their agents being the wiser (if them) until weird jumps in the money supply became evident to the Fed or hyperinflation in the kind of things they might like to buy became apparent.

So I think the US is injecting these variously marked bills into different economies around the world to trace who is smuggling cash into this country and in what amounts. These must be those interesting times the Chinese have been warning us about.
posted by jamjam at 8:22 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gold in the time of economic cholera
posted by hortense at 12:35 AM on January 15, 2008




Also, what churl said. I was going to make a post about this because I was a little fazed as to why this was in the news again after a year, and in such a different way. Good thing I searched first, but yeah, the wikipedia article is a good starting point for tons of interesting stuff. For example: the bizarre Sean Garland angle. And this article from NK Daily.

Also:

Main FPP link: It had come from a North Korean businessman, the changer said, getting angry looks from his confederates. He stank of alcohol, but his story was plausible.

McClatchy DC: Although banks around the world are still seizing supernotes, the Bush administration is no longer publicly accusing North Korea of producing them and has dropped the subject from talks on halting North Korea's nuclear weapons program, according to State Department officials.

Oh really?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:41 AM on January 15, 2008


« Older It's Talented Tuesday!   |   "the destinies of ... the... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post