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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/23/20

What happens when people no longer want our money?: Papering the world with Benjamins

By Allen Baker  Posted by Dave Lindorff (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   11 comments
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New $100 Dollar Bill New Money Redesigned One Hundred Dollar Note US Currency New Money Redesigned $100 Note Security Features of US Currency Redesigned $100 Note One Hundred Dollar Bills Printed circulating Federal Reserve ...
(Image by YouTube, Channel: SBARTSTV News Entertainment Tech)
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By Allen Baker

Benjamin Franklin was a prolific inventor and a brilliant thinker. But even he would be amazed at the vast profits that arise simply from printing his portrait on the U.S. hundred-dollar bill.

Here's how it works: Each year, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing rolls out roughly a billion crisp new hundreds bearing Franklin's image. (Think of a goose laying golden eggs.) It then sells those bills to banks. The U.S. pockets, well, $100 billion - minus 14.2 cents apiece to make the bills.

It's an economic miracle!

Then comes a second economic miracle. Somewhere close to $80 billion worth of these freshly minted Benjamins (street slang for hundreds) immediately gets spirited across the U.S. border.

That $80 billion number makes paper cash one of the top five U.S. exports, something badly needed in an economy that gets hollowed out more each day. By comparison, exports of commercial aircraft and aircraft engines (think Boeing) hit $99 billion in 2018 and the profits on those planes are a lot lower than on the Benjamins.

Overall, a total of $1.75 trillion in Federal Reserve notes were in circulation as of Jan. 8, according to the Federal Reserve. Somewhere around, and probably above, $1.4 trillion of that is in hundreds. (There were $1.34 trillion worth of hundred dollar bills at the end of 2018, the most recent number I could find.)

Federal Reserve chart of cash in circulation
Federal Reserve chart of cash in circulation
(Image by US Federal Reserve Bank)
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The vast bulk of those hundreds are overseas. Nobody knows for sure just how much, but 80 percent seems like a good guess.

What we do know is this: in nearly every clandestine transaction around the world, and in many legitimate ones, Benjamins are changing hands.

U.S. Benjamins are accepted everywhere. They are small and portable. A million dollars in Benjamins only weighs about ten pounds. The U.S. makes sure those bills have sophisticated anti-counterfeiting measures, thus assuring the drug dealers and legitimate small businesses still transacting in cash that they are getting the real thing.

Two economists, Richard D. Porter and Ruth A. Judson, explained the allure very succinctly way back in the October 1996 Federal Reserve Bulletin:

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)
 

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7 people are discussing this page, with 11 comments


Chuck Nafziger

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How dare you cast aspersions on the Cult of the Benjamins?! Both the mighty and the poor will shun and sanction you.

Submitted on Friday, Jan 24, 2020 at 6:20:30 PM

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Fred W

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"What will happen...?"

Can you say "bitcoin"?

Submitted on Friday, Jan 24, 2020 at 8:08:21 PM

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Chuck Nafziger

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I do not think it prudent to look to tech for answers to a problem in which they are involved. Our reliance on tech is now a leash. Cut the electricity and our society (or revolution) is toast. Bitcoin would make it leg irons and a neck chain.


We need money based on something real, not electrons in some scamster's computer.

Submitted on Saturday, Jan 25, 2020 at 12:01:14 AM

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Fred W

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Well, time will tell. And, perhaps unfortunately, except for the Benjamins, we seem to already be in a cashless society, where hardly anyone carries more than a few dollars in cash, and it is in fact almost impossible to buy many important things and services (I don't know this as a fact, but try buying an airline ticket or renting a car with cash) with anything but a credit card.

If we wait a few years, we may be back to bartering shells for salt and meat. And, by the way, bitcoin's proponents think that bank and government restrictions represent leg irons and that bitcoin offers freedom from all that.

Submitted on Saturday, Jan 25, 2020 at 1:53:04 AM

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shad williams

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No.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020 at 10:57:50 AM

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Josh Mitteldorf

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Yes, this is the great sleeper issue. People have been talking about the fact that there's nothing backing the dollar since 1982, when the US went rapidly from being the world's biggest creditor nation to the world's biggest debtor nation. So we have forestalled financial Armageddon for 38 years now, and people are pretty complacent. But look at the increasingly extreme measures that our military is taking to make sure other countries are not exploring other currencies:

  • Sanctioning and provoking Iran, which sells its oil for Yuan.
  • Destabilizing the government of Venezuela with dirty tricks, because they sell their oil for Euros
  • Bombing Libya because Libya proposed a pan-African currency backed by gold
  • Jailing Meng Wan-Zhou, president of Huawei, for the crime of selling electronics to Iran, when the US has decreed that no one is allowed to sell anything to Iran. (Huawei is the Apple of China.)
  • Overthrowing many other governments and installing regimes friendly to the dollar
The US has inertia on its side, and we have bombs and CIA dirty tricks. But the world is a big place, and it's in nobody's interest except the banks of Wall St to maintain the dollar as the world's primary reserve currency.

Tick...tick...tick...

Submitted on Friday, Jan 24, 2020 at 8:13:45 PM

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shad williams

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Reply to Josh Mitteldorf:   New Content

Remember where's the beef Wendy's commercial of the '80s?

Today we should ask, "Where is the gold?"

And if there is not enough remaining to cover hard assets bought by the lying, thieving, murderous elites with their fiat currency, we confiscate and redistribute the proceeds of all of their theft to the 90%.

Bastids.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020 at 11:21:19 AM

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Michael Dewey

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Like your hat Dave and this thought provoking article about what many say is collapse built into the system.


Just recently read some articles about known people calling for a new economic model, who know more than I do. But personally am big on bottom up empowerment with screws loosened at top instead of screwing us over.

Submitted on Friday, Jan 24, 2020 at 10:25:20 PM

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Mike Kostich

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This analysis doesn't even mention the much larger mushroom cloud that will erupt in the financially "engineered" Derivatives Universe, when fecal matter and whirling fan finally collide.

Sorry I can't find a link to it at the moment but there's a really good DW, Deutsche Welle hour long video on YouTube that gives a very good (possibly understated) graphical representation of both those impending catastrophes. An elderly couple are shown, trying to decide how to invest some carefully accumulated savings. When bank savings accounts charge more than they pay out and investment opportunities scare the beejezus out of them, they finally decide on dumping their "money" into repairs and improvements for their one real asset, their house.

Submitted on Saturday, Jan 25, 2020 at 5:49:12 AM

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Carol Jackson

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There's always the barter system. Then again, goods are being manufactured on an unprecedented scale, and manufacturers will accept dollars for them (which is the real reason dollars have value.) Also, oil, "the miracle molecule," is mostly controlled by U.S. dollars, and if you think there are not a hundred thousand things made from oil besides fuel then you are surely living in a remote cave somewhere. It's true that the dollar is being misused and abused on a grand scale but for now there's nothing around that can replace it.

Submitted on Saturday, Jan 25, 2020 at 5:36:37 PM

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Michael Dewey

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Reply to Carol Jackson:   New Content

It is time now to switch from oil to hemp which can produce anything oil can.

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 26, 2020 at 2:30:51 AM

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