From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]




Dana Perino “Under Strict Instructions…To Not Talk About The Dollar”
BY Nicole Belle  /  March 11th, 2008

Friday’s White House Press Briefing included two economic advisers to
discuss the volatile economic situation here in the US, though they
were careful to not paint to dire a picture. Obviously, with crude oil
trading at record levels and OPEC releasing a statement blaming the
price on the weakness of the American dollar, the media might be
expected to ask a question or two. However, White House Spokesperson
Dana Perino was not having any of it.

Q I’d like to follow up on their refusal to talk about the dollar,
if I could. I mean, we’re in a kind of a bad situation here, when OPEC
says the reason for $105 or $106 a barrel of oil is the falling value
of the dollar — and you won’t address that issue. Where do we go to
find out who is right?

MS. PERINO: Well, as he just said, the Treasury Secretary is where
you go to talk about the dollar. It’s a longstanding policy that
predates this administration, and I’m not going to change it today.
But Treasury can talk about it.

Q I don’t expect you to change it, but I do expect you to be able
to say whether OPEC is completely wrong about this, or whether there
is at least something to their claim that the dollar is responsible
for the high price of oil right now.

MS. PERINO: Wendell, I’m under strict instructions, and have been
from the beginning, to not talk about the dollar, and I’m not going to
get fired to satisfy your question.



Bernanke: The Star of an R-Rate Snuff Film
BY Bill Bonner  /  March 13th, 2008

Bryon King sends us this note:

“While Ms. H. Rodham-Clinton and Mr. B. (No Middle Name) Obama battle
out over who will be the Democratic Party nominee for U.S. president,
there is another Great Smack-down occurring within American politics.

“This other match – a true eye-gouging, ear-biting cage-match by any
standards – may well determine the success or failure of the next U.S.
president, no matter who is elected next November. (Presumptive
Republican nominee John McCain has admitted one of his own
limitations, ‘I don’t know as much about economics as I should.’ He
gets points for honesty, if not candor.) And this other knock-down,
drag-out competition is taking place within the marbled hallways of a
certain institution located prominently on Constitution Avenue in
Washington, DC, just across from the Lincoln Memorial.

“It appears that a certain Mr. Richard Fisher, of Dallas, Texas (and
by occupation, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Branch) is
lobbying for the job of ‘Successor to Ben Bernanke.’ That is, Mr.
Fisher wants to be the next Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

“The current course of U.S. monetary policy is not sustainable. The
Bernanke monetary policy is wrecking the value of the U.S. dollar. The
charts don’t lie. Inflation is rising. The prices for gold and silver
are soaring, as is the price of oil. The dollar is at historic lows
against the euro, as well as numerous other world currencies. U.S.
import costs are exploding. And despite his academic credentials as a
historian of the 1929 crash and Great Depression of the 1930s,
Bernanke is simply in over his head.

“We may be witnessing some macabre and tragic drama scripted by the
gods. And in this play, it may be the unpleasant role of Mr. Bernanke
to lower interest rates to the point where he must take the sword.
Bernanke may or may not understand that he is the star of the R-rated
version of a snuff film. Bernanke’s sad destiny is – paraphrasing the
words of Gen. George Patton here – to grease the treads of someone’s
tank. The best that Bernanke can hope for is a relatively dignified
and hasty departure from the Fed, with perhaps a final limo ride in
which he is not garroted like in the chilling scene that occurs at the
end of The Godfather.

“No matter what, and in the best of possible outcomes, Mr. Bernanke
will not escape the Circus-Circus atmosphere of a summary dismissal
from his current job. His trip to the unemployment lines will be
heralded by calls from Congress for his removal, if not his head.

“This is all another way of saying that over the long term the world’s
bond markets cannot afford – and will not tolerate – the current
sordid state of monetary affairs. Bernanke is costing a lot of people
a lot of money. He is bad for business. And so Bernanke as Fed
Chairman cannot last much longer. He is going to go, sooner or later.
Probably sooner.

“It is the nature of the position of  ‘America’s Central Banker’ that
someone will have to take Bernanke’s place. At 81 years of age, Paul
Volker is probably too old to retake the job he held from 1979 to
1987. And Volker may not be ready for a replay of his previous
efforts, marked by angry mobs burning his figure in effigy. (And
second acts do not play well in Washington D.C. Look what happened to
Donald Rumsfeld during his rerun at the Department of Defence.) So
someone will have to step up to the plate, take the seat as Fed
Chairman and start pulling triggers. Someone will have to call a halt
to the serial interest rate reductions that have occurred on
Bernanke’s watch. Someone, in fact, will have to raise interest rates
and squeeze the monetary poison out of the U.S. economy – and by
extension the connected world markets.

“Someone will have to administer the medicine that both the United
States and the world requires. Someone will have to do the dirty work.
Someone will have to take the hit – ‘for the team,’ as they say down
at the football pitch. Richard Fisher appears to be volunteering for
the job. Good luck, Mr. Banker-Man. You are going to need it. Really.
You are going to need a lot of luck.”

About the Author

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and
president of Agora Publishing, one of the world’s most successful
consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications
and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily
e-mail The Daily Reckoning.


About the New $5 Bill

The new $5 bills, which entered circulation on March 13, 2008, are
safer, smarter and more secure: safer because they’re harder to fake
and easier to check; smarter to stay ahead of savvy counterfeiters;
and more secure to protect the integrity of U.S. currency. Because
security features are difficult for counterfeiters to reproduce well,
they often do not try, hoping that cash handlers and the public will
not check their money.

Security Features

The redesigned $5 bill retains two of the most important security
features that were first introduced in the 1990s and are easy to

Watermark: There are now two watermarks on the redesigned $5 bill. A
large number “5” watermark is located to the right of the portrait,
replacing the previous watermark portrait of President Lincoln found
on older design $5 bills. Its location is highlighted by a blank
window incorporated into the background design. A second watermark — a
column of three smaller “5”s — has been added to the new $5 bill
design and is positioned to the left of the portrait. Hold your bill
up to the light and look for the two new watermarks.

Security thread: The embedded security thread, which is located to the
left of the portrait on older-design $5 bills, has moved to the right
of the portrait on the redesigned $5 bill. The letters “USA” followed
by the number “5” in an alternating pattern are visible along the
thread from both sides of the bill. The embedded security thread glows
blue when held under ultraviolet light. Hold your bill up to the light
and look for the embedded security thread.

Design Features

The new $5 bills remain the same size and use the same, but enhanced,
portraits and historical images. Above all, the world will continue to
recognize the new money as quintessentially American. The new design
updates not only add complexity to the bill to make counterfeiting
more difficult, but also include other features that help the public
to tell denominations apart, particularly those persons with visual

Color: Because color can be duplicated by potential counterfeiters, it
should not be used to verify the authenticity of paper money. Adding
color to the bill’s design, however, does add complexity to the
design. The most noticeable difference in the redesigned $5 bill is
the addition of light purple in the center of the bill, which blends
into gray near the edges. Small yellow “05”s are printed to the left
of the portrait on the front of the bill and to the right of the
Lincoln Memorial vignette on the back.

Symbols of Freedom: A new American symbol of freedom has been added to
the background of the redesigned $5 bill—The Great Seal of the United
States, featuring an eagle and shield, is printed in purple to the
right of the portrait of President Lincoln. An arc of purple stars
surrounds the portrait and The Great Seal. The symbols of freedom
differ for each denomination.

Portrait and Vignette: The oval borders around President Lincoln’s
portrait on the front and the Lincoln Memorial vignette on the back
have been removed. The portrait has been moved up and the shoulders
have been extended into the border. Engraving details have been added
to the vignette, framing the Lincoln Memorial against a sky full of

Other Features

Low-Vision Feature: The large, easy-to-read number “5” in the lower
right corner on the back of the bill, which helps those with visual
impairments distinguish the denomination, is now enlarged in the new
$5 bill design and printed in high-contrast purple ink.

Microprinting: Because they are so small, microprinted words are hard
to replicate. The redesigned $5 bill features microprinting on the
front of the bill in three areas: the words “FIVE DOLLARS” can be
found repeated inside the left and right borders of the bill; the
words “E PLURIBUS UNUM” appear at the top of the shield within the
Great Seal; and the word “USA” is repeated in between the columns of
the shield. On the back of the bill the words “USA FIVE” appear along
one edge of the large purple “5” low-vision feature.

Federal Reserve Indicators: A universal seal to the left of the
portrait represents the entire Federal Reserve System. A letter and
number beneath the left serial number identifies the issuing Federal
Reserve Bank.

Serial Numbers: The unique combination of eleven numbers and letters
appears twice on the face of the bill. On the new $5 bill, the left
serial number has shifted slightly to the right, compared with
previous designs.

A Smooth Transition

The goal of the public education and awareness program is the seamless
introduction of the redesigned $5 bills in the United States and
around the world. The U.S. government is working closely with the
business community, national organizations and foreign central banks
to ensure a smooth transition for the redesigned bills.

More U.S. currency circulates in the world than any other currency.
About $770 billion circulates worldwide. With this large volume of
U.S. currency in circulation, the public education and awareness
program has proven vital when introducing past newly designed
currency. Similar efforts are being conducted for the new $5 bill to
inform stakeholders and the general public about the new changes and
how to utilize the security features to authenticate paper money.

Continue using the old $5 design: You won’t have to exchange your old
$5 bills for the new ones. Your old money will always be good. In
fact, every U.S. banknote issued since 1861 is still redeemable today
at full face value and will continue to be legal currency. In
addition, there will be no recall or devaluation of any U.S. bills as
the United States has never devalued its currency and will not do so



Green : Currently the most popular decorating color, green
symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve
vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People waiting to appear on
TV sit in “green rooms” to relax. Hospitals often use green because it
relaxes patients. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize
fertility. Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth.
However, seamstresses often refuse to use green thread on the eve of a
fashion show for fear it will bring bad luck.

Purple : The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and
sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic. However, because it
is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial.

Green makes one feel cool, fresh and elegant. It also represents
nature, and therefore, promotes balance, harmony, peace, hope and
stability. (bedroom, sunroom)

Purple can comfort and relieve strain. (any room)

Home in the thatched shelter of green palm fronds and having some
protection from the lush green background vegetation, there was
generally peace and relaxation.

Purple haze, purple rage reflects mixed emotions of intense anger,
with fear and deep mental confusion. But Royals may use purple or deep
blue to represent their unquestionable social status.. ‘it depends.’


The New Colors of U.S. Money

For as long as all of us can remember, the US dollar has been
synonymous with the color green. But as of 2004 the US government has
been redesigning our paper money and adding splashes color. The new $5
bill was just introduced and might be considered the most colorful
piece of US currency ever produced.

While the redesigned $10, $20 & $50 all have colorful designs the new
$5 blends from purple to gray with shining yellow stars… not to
mention the giant purple 5 on the back.

The New $5 Bill

Color: The most noticeable difference in the redesigned $5 bill is the
addition of light purple in the center of the bill, which blends into
gray near the edges. Small yellow “05″s are printed to the left of the
portrait on the front of the bill and to the right of the Lincoln
Memorial vignette on the back.

About the Redesigned Currency

The new $5 bill design was unveiled to the public in late September
2007 and will enter circulation in early 2008. It will be followed by
a new $100 bill. Redesigned $10, $20 and $50 bills are already in
circulation. The reason for the redesign?

This redesigned currency is safer, smarter and more secure:
Safer because it is harder to fake and easier to check;
Smarter to stay ahead of savvy counterfeiters; and
More secure to protect the integrity of United States currency.

The Redesigned $10 Bill

Color: The most noticeable difference in the newly designed $10 bill
is the addition of subtle background colors of orange, yellow and red.
The words “We the People” from the United States Constitution have
been printed in red in the background to the right of the portrait.
Also, small yellow “10″s have been printed in the background to the
left of the portrait on the face of the bill and to the right of the
vignette on the back of the bill.

The Redesigned $20 Bill

Color: The most noticeable difference in the redesigned $20 bill is
the addition of subtle background colors of green, peach and blue to
both sides of the bill. This marked the first time in modern American
history that U.S. cash included colors other than black and green. The
words “TWENTY USA” are printed in blue in the background to the right
of the portrait and small yellow numeral “20″s are printed in the
background on the back of the bill.

The Redesigned $50 Bill

Color: The most noticeable difference in the redesigned $50 bill is
the addition of subtle background colors of blue and red to both sides
of the bill. Also, small yellow “50″s have been printed in the
background on the back of the bill.

Why Is US Currency Green?

The first general circulation of paper money by the federal government
occurred in 1861. Pressed to finance the Civil War, Congress
authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue non-interest-bearing Demand
Notes. These notes acquired the nickname “greenback” because of their

When the small currency notes in use today were first introduced in
1929, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) continued using green
ink. There were three reasons for this decision. First, pigment of
that color was readily available in large quantity. Second, the color
was high in its resistance to chemical and physical changes. Finally,
the public psychologically identified the color green with the strong
and stable credit of the Government. There is no definite reason green
was chosen originally for our currency notes.



Gold Hits Record $1,000 an Ounce  /  March 13, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — Bargain-hunting at the local jewelry store just got

Gold, which has soared to record levels in the past year, hit a new
milestone Thursday, rising to $1,000 an ounce for the first time in
futures trading _ a boon for investors, but a deterrent to consumers
shopping for jewelry.

Michelle Findlay, a manager at a toll operator company in New York,
said she has stopped buying pure gold pieces. Her latest buy was a
silver bracelet plated in 18-karat gold.

“I noticed lately the price has been going up,” she said, while
browsing at Gold Panel jewelry store on 34th Street in New York. “I’ll
wait, definitely, for the prices to go down” before buying another
gold item, she said.

The price of gold has jumped nearly 20 percent since the start of the
year after rising nearly 32 percent in 2007. The huge advance is
mainly the result of a weaker dollar and record-high crude oil prices.
The dollar fell below 100 yen Thursday for the first time in 12 years
and hit another new low against the euro, while oil traded above $110
a barrel Thursday.

Lower interest rates _ and the prospect of more cuts _ bringing the
dollar’s value down makes dollar-based commodities like gold cheaper
for foreign buyers. The weak currency has also made gold more
attractive because the metal is a hedge against inflation.

“Interest rates are low and that doesn’t help our dollar,” said Scott
Meyers, senior trading analyst with Pioneer Futures, a division of MF

After topping $1,001 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for
April delivery fell back to settle at $993.80 an ounce on Thursday.
Analysts say gold could still go higher, especially if the Federal
Reserve cuts interest rates again next week as expected.

When gold becomes more expensive on futures markets, it doesn’t
immediately translate into higher prices for jewelry. But in the long
term, the price tags on gold rings, bracelets and necklaces do go up.
Exactly when the increases from this latest jump will show up on price
tags depends at least in part on a retailer’s size.

Big retailers like Tiffany & Co. and those that sell jewelry to large
department stores order products up to a year in advance and keep more
in stock. Those stores likely didn’t pay as much for the jewelry when
they ordered it, so they wouldn’t need to raise prices as quickly to
offset costs.

Instead, since some of those larger stores are already buying
merchandise for the 2008 Christmas holiday season, consumers may see
higher prices toward the end of the year.

Tiffany spokesman Mark L. Aaron said that while there is not a direct
correlation between the rising price of gold and the cost of its gold
jewelry _ the labor that goes into a piece is an important factor _
Tiffany does adjust prices based on the cost of precious metals. If
gold keeps rising, a price increase this year would be a “fair
assumption,” he said.

Independent jewelry stores, meanwhile, order products closer to when
they appear on the shelves. Patrick J. Murphy, owner of Murphy Jewelry
in Pottsville, Pa., said he doesn’t raise the price of gold jewelry he
has in stock but he must when he reorders pieces.

For example, an 18-inch gold chain in stock has a retail price of
$189.95, but if he reordered the chain at the same length, weight and
style, it would be priced at $346.

“That’s been our challenge,” he said.

When the makers of branded jewelry and accessories raise their prices,
he has to pass the increase on to customers. He cited a recent price
increase by Rolex as one example.

Patti Warshauer, owner of Main Street Goldworks in Half Moon Bay,
Calif., said consumers are buying less, but it’s not the price of gold
that’s getting to them _ it is all the other financial pressures
they’re contending with.

“Discretionary income is much more affected by the price of other
things, gas and things like that,” she said. “They’re still buying
gold if they need it, if it’s what they like.”

Browsing jewelry stores in New York’s diamond district, Kathleen
Pierri, from Smithtown, N.Y., said the rising price of gold might make
her buy less, but “if you really like it, you’ll buy it,” she said.

“Jewelry is a feel-good item, you’re going to buy it if you need it,”
Pierri said.

Helen Antalg, a jewelry appraiser from Australia, said she was on
watch for a good deal during a vacation in New York. “I’m looking to
see if there’s anything that catches my eye and at a good price,” she

“I’m tending to go to the pawnbrokers as opposed to the retail side of
things” in order to get better deals, she said, but added that she
hasn’t changed her jewelry-buying habits due to rising prices.

With prices rising, selling those not-so-beloved Valentine’s Day
presents or family heirlooms might sound like a good way to make a few
extra bucks. Dave Adelman, who owns two pawn shops in Atlanta, said
he’s seen an increase in the number of people coming in to sell their
gold. But he said he can’t be sure whether that can be pegged to gold
prices rising or other economic factors.

“When they come in, we don’t know whether they’re doing it based on
the gold price or because of need,” he said.

Whether consumers are buying gold or selling it, Murphy, a jeweler for
30 years, said he’s amazed the price has jumped so high. He remembers
when gold was just $35 an ounce.

“I didn’t think we would ever be talking about $1,000 an ounce,” he
said. “It’s crazy.”