The comments of yabob and consolid8 are particularly on track.
There are two key points to money laundering. O
ne issue, discussed above, is that it often involves developing a plausible explanation for where, exactly, money came from. Some years ago the Wall St. Journal published a piece on how rock concerts were developing a reputation as a place where extra profits would just sort of “turn up”.
The other issue is that laundering often involves the physical exchange of cash. When cash is taken for gun running or drug dealing, etc., there is often a concern that law enforcement agents may have recorded the serial numbers on bills, or otherwise have identified it. This marked money could later be usefd as evidence–either against the parties who accepted it, or to people further on in the operation wiith whom agents did not have contact.
One method which has been employed for making physical exchanges has been swapping money with people who win foreign lotteries; they can exchange their winnings, which may be in the currency of a hyper-inflationary economy, for more stable American funds. The Americans who make this exchange can, in turn, swap out the foreign currency for other American funds promptly.
“Soft money” is a term used in the discussion of campaign funds.
Campaign reform laws typically set limits on how much money contributors can give to a candidate, there being a fear that a relatively small clique could buy an election for a candidate who would otherwise have relatively little appeal to the electorate in a country where many people get most of their information about people running for office from bumper stickers and 30 second commericals. (George W. Bush is said to have gotten abot 90% of his campaign funds in the 2000 election from just 700 individuals).
Legislators then gut the effectiveness of the campaign reform laws they pass by setting different standards for so-called “issue advertisements”. These are ads which promote a particular position on which a candidate can be distinguished, and just happen to air during a campaign; it will be noted that pro-choice and pro-life ads are much more common just before a major election.
Al Franken does an amusing spoof on this phenomenon in his book Why Not Me? There ads start running in Iowa just before the caucus denouncing ATM fees as a national menace, and just happen to speak pejoratively of every Democratic candidate in the race except him. “Soft money” is money spent on promoting a stand on an issue as a way of promoting a candidate known for his or her position on that issue.
The Dow Jones indexes are measures of the average prices shares of common stock are selling for among a small group of corporations. These corporations are thought to be representative of the overall behavior of the New York Stock Exchange, and to reflect how major events such as government policy announcements, changes in interest rates, or natural disastors generally affect the behavior of stock investors.
It is useful to have such samples of the market monitored as the market as a whole is too varied, too large and too diverse for an average to give a consistently reliable good reading of economic conditions in general. A fluke success by a paticular company, a fad, a bogus rumor, or a development in some relatively limited, obscure industry (zinc suddenly becomes cheaper, for instance, or the government decides to regulate the tanning industry), could provide a distracting and misleading effect on the average for a day.
Statisticians do something similar when they report results for 95% or 99% of a population; they are weeding out freaks and chance anomalies which cause distortions in the average. For instance, a report on the height of 99% of the people who live in a small town gives a better indication of how tall people are than a report on 100% of the people, as there may be a few dwarfs or giants who would distort the mean, giving the impression that people generally are good deal taller or shorter than they actually are.