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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 3:01 PM ET

Elaine Kaufman Remembered

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Elaine Kaufman, owner of Elaine's restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side, died last Friday afternoon at age eighty-one.

Elaine Kaufman
Getty Images
Elaine Kaufman

Elaine's death is the subject of a CNBC story because many of Wall Street's elite dine at her restaurant, and because it is a hub of New York City culture, and because she was my friend.

Charlie Gasparino, then a reporter for this network, introduced me to Elaine Kaufman. I met my current editor, John Carney, while standing at the bar. I also met many of my sources, often by pure chance, because finance guys always seem to be hanging around. For instance: One night I watched a famous financier itemize his dinner check—and though he was ranked in the top half of the Forbes 400, he split the bill with his dining companion, accounting for the cost of the appetizers.

On another jam-packed night, I ate dinner six inches away from a wildly bejeweled Ivana Trump. I once shared a table there with the editor-in-chief of the New York Post: He and I watched as John Travolta danced through the aisles in the dining room, with Travolta's beautiful wife beaming up at him from their table. The editor of The Post—who's seen a few things in his time—turned to me and said: "This is really something, isn't it?"

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 2:28 PM ET

Silver: Should You Help Inflate The Next Big Bubble?

Posted By: Ash Bennington
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Let's say you incline toward the Ron Paul position on the Federal Reserve —that it, and other central banks across the world, require the kind of cleansing that can only be achieved through statutory abolition .

But, despite your instinctive distrust of paper currency, you believe it's possible that there may be a gold bubble (Though the article cited is from last month, the spot price of gold right now is at almost exactly its November high. But perhaps that's just a coincidence.)

So what are you to do in you search for greener?

Well, for one thing, you could search for the Next Big Asset Bubble—and get in on the ground floor. Bubbles are only bad—for you, at least—if you don't get out before they pop.

Never mind that most people don't get out before the bubbles burst—which is nearly, by definition, the nature of a price crash.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 1:35 PM ET

Uh Oh: The Government’s Printing Presses Have Broken Down!

Posted By: John Carney

The federal government has had to halt production of new high-tech $100 bills due to a significant flaw in the production process. At the height of the problem, as much as 30 percent of the new bills were flawed.

Sheet of US one hundred dollar bills
Don Farrall | Digital Vision | Getty Images
Sheet of US one hundred dollar bills

The bills, which are the first $100 bills to be signed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, total $110 billion—or more than 10 percent of the supply of US currency.

You can insert your own joke about the Fed, government printing presses and hyper-inflation here. For now the bills are being quarantined in huge vaults in Fort Worth and Washington, DC while the government attempts to sort out the flawed bills from the usable bills.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 1:00 PM ET

Operation Broken Trust: Over 500 Charged in $10.4 Billion Investment Fraud Sweep

Posted By: John Carney

Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Monday that federal authorities have charged more than 500 people as a result of what they are calling “Operation Broken Trust,” a nationwide crackdown on investment fraud.

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The operation has resulted in criminal charges against 343 people, involving more than $8.3 billion in estimated losses from fraud. An additional 189 people have been charged in civil cases involving estimated losses of more than $2.1 billion.

The government claims that more than 120,000 people were harmed by the fraud.

"Operation Broken Trust was organized in August by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, an interagency body set up in November 2009 by President Obama.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 12:10 PM ET

WikiLeaks Reveals Powerful Chinese Government Official Admitted China's GDP Figures Are Unreliable

Posted By: John Carney

A senior government official widely believed to be in line to become China's next prime minister describes Chinese economic figures as "man-made" and "therefore unreliable," according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.

The 55-year-old Li Keqiang, currently the country's executive vice premier with responsibility for macro-economic management, related his skepticism about China's official GDP numbers in a private conversation with the US ambassador back in 2007.

The cable was discovered among the WikiLeaks documents by Malcolm Moore, a reporter for the Telegraph based in Shanghai. \(Hat tip: FT Alphaville.\)

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 11:56 AM ET

Swiss Bank Freezes WikiLeaks Defense Fund Account

Posted By: John Carney

The banking arm of the Swiss Post Office has cut its ties with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, declaring that he gave false information regarding his place of residence when he opened the account.

Julian Assange
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images
Julian Assange

WikiLeaks has promoted the account with PostFinance bank as a way to "donate directly to the Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks Staff Defence Fund.”

Earlier today, it seemed as if PostFinance was merely at an early stage of investigating Assange’s ccount.

"We have to find out if Julian Assange really does live in Geneva. In the process of checking we did not find his name in Geneva," PostFinance spokesman Marc Andrey told the news service AFP , confirming a report in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 11:16 AM ET

Get Ready for a Huge Crackdown on Stock Market Manipulation and Ponzi Schemes

Posted By: John Carney

A sweeping operation against stock market manipulation and Ponzi schemes that involves more than 300 criminal defendants will be announced by the Justice Department today, according to a Bloomberg report citing an anonymous "U.S. law enforcement official."

The operation began in August, according to Bloomberg. In addition to the 300 criminal defendants, there will be 180 civil defendants.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 11:05 AM ET

QE2: Beware the Perils of its Success

Posted By: Vitaliy N. Katsenelson
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There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen. The bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 10:29 AM ET

McGraw: The Korean Free Trade Agreement Is a Test of Our Commitment to Markets

Posted By: Lori Ann LaRocco

On Friday, the Obama administration announced that it had reached a free trade deal with the South Korean government in Seoul. Trade organizations for both the automakers and meat growers chimed in with support for the pact. But Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat, has said he is "deeply disappointed" with the agreement. It's not clear whether Baucus will attempt to block the treaty from being approved in the Senate.

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I decided to speak with Terry McGraw, Chairman and CEO of McGraw-Hill Companies . McGraw is a strong advocate of free trade. He is chairman of the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT), chairman of the U.S.-India Business Council, chairman of the United States Council for International Business, as well as a member of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN).

McGraw was in Korea for the G-20 Business Summit. He also spread the message of the importance of opening the markets while he was in India with President Obama last month. I started the discussion on what impact this agreement will have on the U.S. economy.

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  Monday, 6 Dec 2010 | 10:08 AM ET

Steve Schwarzman Headed to Paris

Posted By: John Carney

The mystery of where in Europe Steve Schwarzman is going has been solved.

Stephen A. Schwarzman
AP
Stephen A. Schwarzman

He's headed to Paris.

Last week, Reuters reporter Megan Davies revealed that the chief executive and co-founder of private-equity powerhouse Blackstone Group was decamping from the United States in favor of residence in Europe.

On Saturday Davies learned that Schwarzman is headed to Paris.

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