The Soprano State

By

That's a nickname for North Korea by a US State Department spkesman. The Australian publishes an overview of North Korea's ganster—like ways of earning hard currency: drug smuggling, counterfeiting, pirating CDs, and no doubt other rackets yet to be identified.

Having diplomatic immunity overseas and the power of a sovereign state at home, North Korea has some strategic advantages over an international criminal syndicate. The estimates of hard currency receipts to Kim Jong—il strike me as quite low: less than a billion dollars a year. On the other hand, opportunities to physically handle goods are constrained when your entire international trade is as small as North Korea's.

NK has been known for decades for the abuses of its diplomats in using diplomatic pouches. But in the past decade, the scale has increased. The article reports that the regime has spent $10 million on the same model press used by the US Treasury. No doubt, production of the special paper is also underway. However, a recfent bank bust in Macau may have shut down a big part of NK's ability to move the fake currency.

Well worth a read.

Thomas Lifson   3 10 06

That's a nickname for North Korea by a US State Department spkesman. The Australian publishes an overview of North Korea's ganster—like ways of earning hard currency: drug smuggling, counterfeiting, pirating CDs, and no doubt other rackets yet to be identified.

Having diplomatic immunity overseas and the power of a sovereign state at home, North Korea has some strategic advantages over an international criminal syndicate. The estimates of hard currency receipts to Kim Jong—il strike me as quite low: less than a billion dollars a year. On the other hand, opportunities to physically handle goods are constrained when your entire international trade is as small as North Korea's.

NK has been known for decades for the abuses of its diplomats in using diplomatic pouches. But in the past decade, the scale has increased. The article reports that the regime has spent $10 million on the same model press used by the US Treasury. No doubt, production of the special paper is also underway. However, a recfent bank bust in Macau may have shut down a big part of NK's ability to move the fake currency.

Well worth a read.

Thomas Lifson   3 10 06