New high tech $100 bill – FAIL

100-bill-frontIn its ongoing effort to thwart counterfeiting of US currency, the federal government is about to issue a new, high tech version of the 100 dollar bill. At a cost of about 12 cents per note (about what it will be worth in a few years if we keep our current pace of money production), it is twice as expensive to produce than other currency. All of this is necessary since the $100 bill is the most popular for counterfeiters – like the governments of North Korea and China (more here).

So far, so good but wait, I smell a FAIL coming. Of course, here it is:

A significant production problem with new high-tech $100 bills has caused government printers to shut down production of the new notes and to quarantine more than one billion of the bills in huge vaults in Fort Worth, Texas and Washington, DC, CNBC has learned.

An official familiar with the situation told CNBC that 1.1 billion of the new bills have been printed, but they are unusable because of a creasing problem in which paper folds over during production, revealing a blank unlinked portion of the bill face.A second person familiar with the situation said that at the height of the problem, as many as 30 percent of the bills rolling off the printing press included the flaw, leading to the production shut down.

The total face value of the unusable bills, $110 billion, represents more than ten percent of the entire supply of US currency on the planet, which a government source said is $930 billion in banknotes. For now, the unusable bills are stored in the vaults in “cash packs” of four bundles of 4,000 each, with each pack containing 16,000 bills.

Officials don’t know exactly what caused the problem. “There is something drastically wrong here,” a person familiar with the situation said. “The frustration level is off the charts.”

According to a person familiar with the matter, the bills are the most costly ever produced, with a per-note cost of about 12 cents—twice the cost of a conventional bill. That means the government spent about $120 million to produce bills it can’t use. On top of that, it is not yet clear how much more it will cost to sort the existing horde of hundred dollar bills.

Poof – and $120M is wasted. Ooops! Looks like the folks over at Quality Control were asleep at the switch here. I know those printing machines are fast but does it take 1.1 BILLION to realize you’ve got a problem? Oh well, they’ll probably still get their step raises and bonuses anyway. And the ChiComs and North Koreans will have at least another year to print more $100 bills.

So now the circular firing squad of blame starts.

Officials have mixed views on what caused the problem, and who is responsible for it. “This is not about assigning blame,” said one. But another person familiar with the matter said finger-pointing has already begun. “The Fed’s very unhappy, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is taking a beating unnecessarily,” the person said. “Somebody has to pay for this.”

Hey, this is government. Trust me, absolutely no one but the taxpayer will pay for this. That’s how the system “works.” On a karmic side note, this was to be the first bill with Tax Cheat Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s signature on it.

I know that shit happens and people make mistakes and all but why does this have to be the norm for our government? Why is government destined to FAIL at virtually everything?



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