Intertwined Fates: bin Laden and the €500 Note

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 5/07/2011 12:00:00 AM
OK, so the absurdist image to the left was Photoshopped by someone with too much free time, but I have more sartorial commentary on bin Laden that is more factual. While we all know that the dollar is currently on another downward spiral necessitating another comical "strong dollar" statement from the hapless US treasury secretary (comical Tim-E?), let's again take stock of where it stands among household names whose familiarity is not necessarily down to wholesome activities. Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen reportedly refuses to be paid in ratty US dollars. Meanwhile, gangsta rap artist Jay-Z sports a briefcase full of €500 notes in a music video--a far cry from when those engaged in this trade used to wear big gold "$" chains. These kinds of notes have also become favoured among the global gangster class (the real sort unlike Jay-Z & Co.) for whom money laundering is a regular activity alike walking the dog.

Although the existence of €500 notes is common knowledge, it's rather few of us who've actually seen it in person. Hence, they've become known as "bin Ladens" in British slang:
The 500 euro note, one of the largest denomination notes in the world, is being pulled from distribution in the United Kingdom. They are known in some countries as "bin Ladens" - the bank note everyone knows exists, but few people other than criminals will ever see. The decision comes after police linked 90 per cent of these notes in circulation to crime, tax evasion and terrorism. The UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), which has been studying currency trading, has concluded the 500 euro note is at the heart of money laundering because it is so easy to move.
It has come to pass in recent news reports that the eponymous Usama bin Laden (deceased) was found wearing a €500 note stitched into his robe along with two important phone numbers. This observation has occasioned some fanciful conjectures. F'rinstance, Slate has a novelty feature guessing how far bin Laden could have gone with this sum:
[U]sama Bin Laden had two telephone numbers and 500 euros in cash sewn into his clothes, CIA Director Leon Panetta told lawmakers this week. That's about $740, or around 60,000 Pakistani rupees. Presumably, if Bin Laden had evaded the SEALs, his disciples would have covered his travel, food, and lodging costs. But, hypothetically, what's the farthest you can get from Abbottabad on 500 euros?
You can read the rest at the link. However, I believe that we have some important political-economic commentary here that exceeds its sartorial value. Get this: even if bin Laden's brain had wasted away to the point that key phone numbers had to be sewed into his garments, he still knew that "strong dollar" policy was unreal from a hideaway with no fixed-line telephone or Internet. Aside from a $740 or so equivalent note being far handier than a $100 one, the hawkish bias of the ECB compared to its Federal Reserve free money counterparts is obvious even to what accounts suggest was an already doddering bin Laden.

And so it would have been written as an epitaph had American helicopter dropping operatives not dumped his body: 'Here lies Usama bin Laden. He died with a "bin Laden" stitched into his active wear.' If a senile rabble-rouser could figure out that holding dollars was a fool's game, well, I pity those who still do. Something else that's receiving an extrajudicial execution at the hands of America is, well, the US dollar.