Benjamin Franklin Portraits Popular: U.S. Treasury Prints More $100 Bills Than Dollar Bills

Benjamin Franklin Portraits Popular: U.S. Treasury Prints More $100 Bills Than Dollar Bills

Last year the U.S. Treasury printed more $100 Bills than Dollars for the first time in history. There are now more than seven billion portraits of Benjamin Franklin in circulation. Talk about being popular! Evidently, $100 Bills are hoarded like gold in unstable areas because the Federal Reserve estimates that two-thirds are held by foreigners.

To meet the foreign demand, the Federal Reserve has licensed banks to operate currency distribution warehouses in London, Frankfurt, Singapore and other financial centers around the world. In March, the value of all American notes in circulation topped $1 Trillion for the first time, largely in part to the boom in $100 Notes.

And that is very profitable for the United States.

U.S. Currency is printed by the Treasury and then issued by the Federal Reserve. The Reserve pays the Treasury for the cost of production – about 10 cents a note – then exchanges the notes at face value for securities that pay interest. Thus, the more money it issues, the more interest is earned. As a result, the Federal Reserve returns what is called a seigniorage payment the U.S. Treasury. Last year that payment exceeded $20 Billion Dollars.

So, when it comes to Old Ben, business couldn’t be better. However, overall, the production of  paper money is in decline. Particularly $1 and $5 Notes. Production of $5 Notes dropped to the lowest level in three decades, while the Dollar fell to a modern era low last year. Of course, their are two schools of thought on why, but one suggests that people are more inclined to “swipe their credit or debit cards” for routine purchases. Even taxi fares have seen a trend towards paying with plastic. And we mustn’t forget that there has been an increase in online shopping too.

But we mustn’t forget that the economy hasn’t exactly been all that hot either. In spite of what financial pundits would like everyone to believe, retailers are suffering as same store sales continue to decline. People have been forced to cut back for a variety of reasons and that trend does not appear to be letting up. Fuel costs, while declining slightly, are still higher than a year ago and people have opted to use their vacation time as “staycations.” I don’t know what the final numbers will be this year, but my guess is that the pundits will be revising their earlier forecasts of an economic recovery after they pull out the usual buying surges associated with certain holidays and/or back to school necessities. The bottom line is what it is – the U.S. Economy is still on a life support respirator.

As much as I want to believe the expert forecasts I suspect many people are resorting to charging it because it is a way to delay paying for essentials. I am sure we will see another spike in bankruptcies in the near future. Whether you believe in the official, or the unofficial, unemployment rate – either way it is still way too high! Those lucky enough to get hired are most likely earning less than they did and have some catching up to do on those “past dues.” Yes sir, cash is definitely on the decline alright, but I don’t think it is as simple to pin down as to what the real reason or motivation is. Be it cash, credit, debit or Android, sure, we pay for things in a variety of ways. But my guess is that cash will never grow old and will used well beyond our lifetimes. Let’s face it, it feels pretty darn good to slide some real money across a counter. After all, it means you have some.

But I sure am glad that Good Old Ben is so popular –

someone has to pay the bills.


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  • The foreigners holding them was mentioned when the Fed went from the plain green ones to the color ones. However, by saying that the old ones are still valid, I don't see how that deterred the counterfeiting that was supposed to be prevented by the new ones. Maybe the foreigners exchanged bills.

    I'm surprised not $20s, since that's all ATMs give.

    With regard to bankruptcy, there must be enough of that to support Peter Francis Geraci's ads, as well as on Telemundo for "Toreros de la Ley, soy Abogadro Peter Frances Geraci," as well as several other Hispanic Bancarrota attorneys. As happened recently and in about 1977, they amended the bankruptcy laws just before those laws were needed by the masses.

    With regard to reviving the economy, I have the feeling that, incentives or no, that won't happen until the overbuilt and overfinanced housing markets work themselves out.

  • In reply to jack:

    Funny how that new bankruptcy law just zoomed through - as if in grand anticipation of the meltdown?

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    Well, as I said, it wasn't the first time. However, the first one was more liberal to the debtor in that Chapter 13 (wage earner plans) were supposed to result in installment payments that fully paid the debt, while it was changed in the late 1970s to installment payments the debtor could afford.

    However, the credit card companies had been gunning for the most recent amendment for the past few years, since basically only credit card debt is unsecured. According to some other bankruptcy attorney's infomercial on 62.1, bankruptcy works if wiping out credit card debt leaves you enough money to pay home and car loans, and thus you can keep that property, but he doesn't mention that, otherwise, it only delays, but does not prevent foreclosure or repossession.

  • In reply to jack:

    I understand that the credit card industry must protect themselves and that it is unsecured credit, but they also rake in plenty to offset those who skip out. That burden is spread across every account by the way the parcel interest rates and fees. In many cases unreasonable, may I add. They also have trend data on the spending habits of every client - and have been known to slickly up credit lines to keep sucking people in until they pretty much can't afford to pay it back. I don't know, are they themselves stoking the fire?

    I'll tell you what has bothered me; not all people who file for bankruptcy are deadbeats. Many fall victim to identity theft and have no choice to declare. Companies, credit score agencies and even Social Security will not intervene in a sufficient manner; i.e. issuance of a new SSN in the event of identity theft for instance. Of course you also have a bastard economy, people tend to credit up thanks to those convenient credit line increases, hoping to play catch up when things get better. Seems to me the credit card companies share the blame with their greed too Jack. Sometimes they are downright predatory, yet they will immediately put you in collection? I don't know - maybe a few liberal policies that take the "whole picture of abuse from both sides" isn't such a bad thing.

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