Thailand says purchase of N. Korean gold preceded sanctions


From Reuters
Thursday, December 28, 2006

North Korea sold 1.3 tonnes of gold to Thailand a few months before the United Nations slapped international sanctions on Pyongyang in October, according to Thai customs data.

Thailand paid the reclusive communist state a total of 1.03 billion baht ($28 million) for 500 kg of gold in April and 800 kg in May, the Customs Department said on its web site,

How U.S. trade deficit fuels bubbles, rewards rich, and screws poor


Of Public Debt and Private Wealth

By Steven Pearlstein
Washington Post
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

With Democrats about to take charge on Capitol Hill, we're going to be hearing a lot about the widening income gap between rich and poor.

There are a variety of measures for inequality and lots of factors that drive the data, ranging from winner-take-all labor market competition and the weakness of unions to the pace of immigration and the tendency of high-income people to marry each other.

Value of euros in circulation exceeds value of dollars


By Ralph Atkins
Financial Times, London
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The US dollar bill's standing as the world's favourite form of cash is being usurped by the 5-year-old euro.

The value of euro notes in circulation is this month likely to exceed the value of circulating dollar notes, according to calculations by the Financial Times. Converted at Wednesday's exchange rates, the euro took the lead in October.

China to use foreign exchange to develop energy and mineral resources


By Elaine Kurtenbach
Associated Press
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

China will take advantage of its massive foreign exchange reserves to expand its stock of strategic resources such as oil and minerals, state media reported Wednesday, citing a top economic official.

Vice Prime Minister Zeng Peiyan told leaders of the national legislature that the government plans to step up exploration for key resources such as oil, gas, and coal. It also intends to use the opportunity afforded by the country's more than $1 trillion in foreign reserves to improve strategic resource bases, the state-run newspaper China Business News and other reports said.

UAE trading dollars for euros


By Min Zeng and Annie Pinkert
Bloomberg News Service
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The dollar dropped the most in more than a week against the euro after the head of the United Arab Emirates central bank said it will convert some of its reserves of U.S. assets into the European currency.

The U.A.E. is among oil exporters including Iran, Venezuela and Indonesia that are looking to shift their currency reserves into euros or price the commodity in the 12-nation currency. The dollar pared some of its losses after government data showed sales of new homes rose more than economists forecast last month.

Gold market manipulation: Nothing new under the sun


What has been is what will be,
and what has been done
is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.

-- Ecclesiastes 1:9

* * *

9:25p ET Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:

Nothing new, that is, as Harry Truman said, except the history you don't know. And when it comes to manipulating the gold market, there is plenty of such history -- like the history recounted by H.W. Brands in his new and wonderful little book "The Money Men," which is subtitled "Capitalism, Democracy, and the Hundred-Years' War Over the American Dollar."

The Great Gold Conspiracy -- an excerpt from 'The Money Men'


-- An excerpt --

The Great Gold Conspiracy
from "The Money Men"
by H.W. Brands
(W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 2006)

... The Erie [Railroad] War was simply practice for a more ambitious assault by [Jay] Gould and [Jim] Fisk. The target this time was no mere corporation but the money supply of the United States. America’s money still bore the marks of the suspension of specie payments in 1861 and the issue of greenbacks the following year. Since then the country had operated a dual system: greenbacks for domestic commerce, gold for the payment of customs duties and for international transactions. (Silver had effectively disappeared from circulation during the California gold rush, which made gold relatively cheaper than silver and caused people to hoard the latter.)

Washington Post notices Barrick's sharp practice in Chile


In Chile, Precious Lands Often Go for a Pittance

By Monte Reel
Washington Post
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

SANTIAGO, Chile -- The mountainous terrain of northern Chile is studded with precious metals, a natural cache that for years has had investors angling for land rights.

So when the world's largest gold mining company targeted about 20,000 acres owned by Rodolfo Villar, a mineral speculator, he signed a contract. Only later, he said, did he realize how much the company had agreed to pay him:

North Korea selling gold; may have up to 2,000 tonnes


North Korea Sells Gold to Earn Currency

From Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Since the United States imposed financial sanctions against North Korea in September last year, Pyongyang started selling bullion on the international market as an alternative way to acquire foreign currencies, it was learned Monday.

Last September the U.S. government froze North Korea-related accounts at Macao-based Banco Delta Asia. Since then, Pyongyang reentered the London Bullion Market and has exported bullion worth about 28 million dollars, or 3.3 billion yen, to Thailand, sources said.

It's only money, and maybe it's not even that


Katrina Fraud Likely to Balloon Past $2 Billion

By Hope Yen
Associated Press
Monday, December 25, 2006

The tally for Hurricane Katrina waste could top $2 billion next year because half of the lucrative government contracts valued at $500,000 or greater for cleanup work are being awarded without little competition.

Federal investigators have already determined the Bush administration squandered $1 billion on fraudulent disaster aid to individuals after the 2005 storm. Now they are shifting their attention to the multimillion dollar contracts to politically connected firms that critics have long said are a prime area for abuse.