The Magazine

Coin of the Realm

Jan 14, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 17 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

It’s come to this: Serious people in Washington are discussing a hypothetical solution to the next debt ceiling crisis—minting trillion-dollar coins. There are legal restrictions on how much paper money the government can circulate, as well as gold, silver, and copper coins. But the law is unclear on platinum, a loophole Obama allegedly could exploit. According to analyst Chris Krueger at Guggenheim Securities’ Washington Research Group, who first floated this idea, “The theory goes that the U.S. Mint would create a handful of trillion-dollar (or more) platinum coins. The president would then order the coins deposited at the Fed, [which] would then put the coin[s] in the Treasury .  .  . and a default is removed from the equation. The effects on the currency market and inflation are unclear, to say the least.” 

The Scrapbook is betting that currency markets would not warm to the idea. But then again, is it that much more ridiculous than racking up $100 trillion in unfunded entitlement liabilities, or watching a single president increase an already astronomical $10 trillion national debt by 60 percent in his first term? There’s even precedent for the trillion-dollar coin—at the height of the Depression, $100,000 bills were minted, though never put into general circulation, specifically for the purpose of depositing them in the Fed. Fittingly, they bore the likeness of one of progressivism’s founding fathers, Woodrow Wilson. 

In that spirit, The Scrapbook has its own modest proposal. Why stop at minting a handful of trillion-dollar coins? Put Obama’s visage on them and fill the Treasury building with these coins. Then the American people could watch their elected representatives dive in and swim around in the newly minted currency like Scrooge McDuck, the perfect end to our current monetary and fiscal debacle.

Recent Blog Posts