Black Market Contest Winner Announced!



We finally have a winner for the black market exchange rate contest! The contest, announced on March 16, was motivated by a friendly dispute between me and Steph Haggard as to whether sanctions associated with UNSCR 2270 would actually bite. The task was to predict the North Korean won to US dollar black market exchange rate in Pyongyang using the first Daily NK figure listed two months after the sanctions announcement on the theory that two months would be sufficient time to see if the sanctions were actually affecting the economy.

The winner, who goes by the North Korea: Witness comment section alias “Gerphil,” guessed 8099—the actual number was 8020. The pre-2270 sanctions rate was 8,200, meaning that the black market rate on the North Korean won has actually strengthened slightly since the recent UN sanctions squeeze has been applied. If the sanctions were really sending the North Korean economy into a tail spin we’d expect the opposite result.

I’m tempted to let Professor Haggard take another bite at the apple and re-run the contest off of the US Treasury’s recent announcement that it was designating North Korea as a jurisdiction of “primary money laundering concern” under Section 311 of the Patriot Act—the same provision that was used in the Banco Delta Asia case. Personally, I think that this move has a higher likelihood of affecting the black market rate on the won than the UN sanctions. We’ll see.

Anyway, Gerphil has won a free copy of the forthcoming book “Hard Target: Sanctions, Inducements, and the Case of North Korea.” The book is currently in the copyediting stage but we will send it along when it comes off the presses. Thank you to all the entrants. 

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