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We Can’t Even Print Money Right

December 7, 2010

In these days of “quantitative easing” and stimulus spending (NOT printing money, insists Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke), the U.S. dollar’s much-diminished world stature is best exemplified by this: We can’t even print them right.

CNBC got the story based on a little-noticed Oct. 1 press release. HT CJR

These old hundreds are still "legal tender for all debts public and private."

Bottom line: The new Benjamins—which are supposed to have new and more sophisticated security strips to thwart counterfeiters—keep folding over during the printing process, so the resulting bills have a blank line on them. Some 30 percent of the bills were coming out bollixed, so the presses were shut down and the cash stashed in a special vault, to await sorting the good hundreds from the bad. And this, it seems, is the problem, CNBC’s Eamon Javers reports:

Because officials don’t know how many of the 1.1 billion bills include the flaw, they have to hold them in the massive vaults until they are able to develop a mechanized system that can sort out the usable bills from the defects.

Sorting such a huge quantity of bills by hand, the officials estimate, could take between 20 and 30 years. Using a mechanized system, they think they could sort the massive pile of bills, each of which features the familiar image of Benjamin Franklin on the face, in about one year.

It is certainly mere coincidence that these defective (not to say worthless) hundreds are to be the first affixed with Timothy Geithner’s signature.

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