Govt Misprints Ton Of New $100s

A printing error on the fancy new $100 bills means that nearly a billion are in storage until the government figures out how many to destroy. The paper got creased during printing, leaving a portion of Franklin’s face uninked. It’s a $110 billion boo-boo!

The bills feature an array of hi-tech anti-counterfeit measures, many of which change when you tilt the bill, like:

  • A 3D security strip with 100s that change to bells
  • An inkwell with a copper bell inside that to green
  • In the lower right-hand corner a copper 100 that changes to green

All that protection comes at a cost, though, about 12 cents a bill. Meaning that the gov just spent $120 million to make a bunch of money it can’t use. Hey, wasn’t it supposed to be called quantitative “easing?” Instead it’s making me queasy.

The Fed Has a $110 Billion Problem with New Benjamins [CNBC]


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  1. qwickone says:

    They don’t check for quality WHILE it’s printing? Like every several hundred or or even thousand or so?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Even if they do, it’s not like they can just throw them out. There is a lengthy process to destroying US currency. What makes it hard is the fact that 6 bills out of a sheet may be bad, so you have to eliminate those bills, and not the others.

      • iggy21 says:

        I think qwickone’s point was that they should have caught this before the excessive erroneous printing.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          From what I gather, this wasn’t all at once. This was over time.

          • edman007 says:

            Doesn’t matter, any large printing operation has QA, watch the TV shows where they show people printing money, there are a few people who look at the line as it is going by and a few people who pull random samples and look at them under a magnifying glass. Any issue that effects most of the bills is going to get caught very quickly. especially a major issue like no ink on the face.

            As for destroying it, well they obviously have errors all the time, they have some on site method to dispose of errors, whatever the right way is to destroy money they do it, and they do it often.

      • Chief CL says:


        Yes, actually they can just “throw them out”

        have you been asleep for the past couple years? the fed pretty much prints up whatever money they need. They print new money all the time… It is not an issue for them to print up more.

        Hell the 120 million it cost to print up that money? They will just print up 120 million in bills to cover that.

        *and they can’t figure out why the dollar is plummeting….

        • jk87 says:

          Well they can’t just throw them out, they have to account for how much currency they intend to destroy, and then replace them with “star notes” to make up the deficit of notes.

    • Jdavis says:

      Imagine how many bills are printed problem free (if this was a common problem this wouldn’t be news). Of course if you want your tax dollars to go to some union protected employee watching bills print, then be my guest.

    • Jesse says:

      That’s what I was wondering. I took a tour of the Washington DC BEP facility in 2004 and if I remember correctly, they run the sheets through an optical scanner to verify printing quality. Like with any process you can only get quality so close to 100% and there will be errors, but not of this magnitude I would think.

    • andrewe says:

      I run a printing press for a security printing company. You can bet that the quality of the print is checked often by both human eyes and other means. This type of printing error happens all the time. It’s just usually caught very quickly and the poor quality product is destroyed.

      I can only assume that this printing problem was very slight and happened erratically making it difficult to spot and diagnose. Unfortunately there is very little room for error in the security printing industry.

    • lordargent says:

      Those machines print FAST, by the time an error is noticed, it might have been on hundreds of bills.

  2. shepd says:

    And if the US government doesn’t improve the bills (like Canada used to) the country’s GDP can be affected by counterfeiters (which happened in Canada) and then the currency so distrusted that nobody will take any large bills (is is EXTREMELY difficult to spend a bill larger than $20 in Canada, even though the major counterfeiting operation that caused the distrust was busted over a decade ago). And then you spend the money after the fact trying to fix the problem. Canada will be introducing plastic bills soon, in a bid to (hopefully) rid our country of the horrible counterfeiting image it once had.

    So, if you ask me, this is money the US spent well to avoid what could eventually turn out to be a horrible problem.

    • squirrel says:

      If you have a bill bigger than a $20 here in Los Angeles, you could actually starve to death looking for a quick place to eat that will take your money.

      OTOH, I always get offended whenever a retailer takes out a pen and swipes the bills I give them. I need to get one of those just to use when they hand me my change – and see how they like it.

      • Maurs says:

        Why do you get offended? It’s nothing personal. It has nothing to do with your trustworthiness. Even if the store could trust every single customer they had come in there, they’d still need to check for counterfeits – because you don’t; who knows where you got that bill? Even banks have given out bad money before.

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        You’re right, they don’t check every.single.bill that is a large denomination; just yours because you look skeevy.

    • kennedar says:

      Since when do people have a hard time spending bills larger than $20 in Canada?? I have worked retail here and we always took $50’s and $100’s. I have never heard nor experienced any issues using higher bills. I dont know where you are from, but here in Calgary I use $50’s and $100’s all the time!

  3. Gruppa says:

    If there was only a method of having a person check random bills for mistakes such as these as they’re coming out of the printing machinery.

    A billions worth is a lot of paper. I’m surprised they didn’t catch this earlier.

  4. Tim says:

    Of course, a few Bureau of Engraving and Printing employees will undoubtedly steal the bills and sell them on eBay. Error coins and bills catch a TON on eBay.

  5. Hi_Hello says:

    hahahahah dang, what a waste. I hate to be the guy who screwed this up.

  6. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Any idea what an uncut sheet of those bad boys would go for on the open market?

  7. FrugalFreak says:

    I am against coin only Dollars, but using them in thiis case would have saved since they could have been melted and reused.

  8. c!tizen says:

    lets just make everything free!

    Think about it:

    No robbery
    No muggings
    No car jacking
    No overdraft fees
    No debt
    No monthly expenses
    No college tuition
    No hospital bills


  9. Amy Alkon says:

    From the CNBC story at the link: “Somebody has to pay for this.”

    Helloooo, taxpayers!

    In publishing, there’s quality control — people checking what comes off the press. Why was that not in effect here? Was the person in charge off in a corner drinking a Bud and gloating about his government pension, also taxpayer funded? We’ll all be working until we’re 95 to pay for government workers to retire in style much earlier.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      And there is quality control here as well. This is also an issue of it appearing perfectly fine to the computer scanners and the person viewing while printing. However, when done and cut, the micro crease becomes visible when pulled from the ends, like when someone does a snap test on a bill. So you sequester those bills, and you now have to go through them BY HAND to determine which ones are affected.

      You also can’t just throw money out like you can whatever you print. You need to go through a very intensive process to destroy US currency correctly.

      • andrewe says:

        This is very true. Creases can be very hard to spot and the printed image may still look fine on top of the crease. In some cases the paper supplier may be on the hook for the cost of the reprint and disposal.

  10. techstar25 says:

    My head is spinning just trying to comprehend that it only costs a dime to create a $100 bill. Somewhere in some third world country a farmer just traded a sack of beans for a goat. And his economy is much more stable for it.
    God bless the USA and our imaginary money system.

    • MW says:

      … I’m really hoping that’s sarcasm. You do realize that production cost =/= value when it comes to money, right? I don’t remember the specifics off the top of my head, but the value of money is backed by physical value that can be weighed and measured; the bill is only an easier way of distributing and representing that value. It wouldn’t make much sense for it to cost five time as much to make a $100 bill than a $20 bill.

      • Bativac says:

        I don’t think that’s how it works. The US dollar is no longer on the gold standard. As far as I know, a $100 bill is worth $100 because the Federal Government says it is.

        • jabberwockgee says:

          Exactly. $100 is not worth a definite amount. In general, it is degrading slowly. Stupid inflation…

          • backbroken says:

            You should pray to Greenspan that we get a healthy dose of inflation otherwise we will never get out of the debt we are in.

            Inflation is a good thing.

            Rampant inflation…now THAT’S a bad thing.

    • Rena says:

      Yes, that’s how money works. We assign values to specially-designed pieces of paper and metal. The paper itself is only worth that much because of the design printed on it; it’s really just symbolic of $100 worth of work.

      The guy who traded the beans for the goat, well good for him. Unfortunately he’ll find some goods he can’t buy no matter how many beans he offers because the seller has no use for beans. He also has to lug around that sack whenever he wants to buy something. And what if you want beans, but don’t have a goat? We solved this problem by all agreeing that these specially-marked papers are equal in value to one goat, or one sack of beans, etc.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Huh? Should we have jammed a Blu-Ray player into each bill or something?

  11. misterfweem says:

    Moist von Lipvig will find a solution to this.

  12. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    The issue is that some bills look fine but when tugged at the ends reveal a small vertical crease with no printing. If the new vertical security line is not compromised then why not call this a “security feature” and ship them out?

    • Rena says:

      Then they’d have to deliberately introduce this defect into all further prints. This may not be as easy as it seems.

  13. Darrone says:

    How is this news? The government has been making 100 dollars bills disappear for years, its called taxes.

  14. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    Insert obligatory “How can we trust the gubmint with healthcare when they can’t even print money correctly?” statement here.

  15. diasdiem says:

    They should hold a few back from destruction and then later sell them to collectors for many times the face value.

    • squirrel says:

      Actually, that is a fantastic idea. A 10,000 bill “limited edition” for a few $K a pop won’t pay for the whole fiasco, but will put a sizeable dent in it.

      Frame it nicely with a big bold “FAIL!” under it.

  16. cgalleria93 says:

    The Federal Reserve isn’t part of the government. Its a privately held corporation. Learn the truth behind the federal reserve. :)

    • cgalleria93 says:

      sorry guys, didnt mean to post so many times.. my browser wasnt working right.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Doctor, heal thyself. While the Federal Reserve isn’t a part of gov’t like, say, the State Department is, calling it a private corporation is a gross distortion of its true status. It’s a private entity, created by the government, controlled by government appointees (majority of the FOMC is appointed by the Pres and confirmed by Congress), which hands back any and all profits to the Treasury every year.

      • silvernale says:

        Never, when your teeth fall out do you put them under your pillow that night. 5 out of the 12 board members of the FED are bankers (from the biggest banks in the world) which means the banks only need to control two members to get a majority. Sure the Pres votes them in but they paid for his campaign he can’t just vote in joe smo. The Fed also gets to keep 6% of their profits. This year they made money than they ever have.

  17. cgalleria93 says:

    The Federal Reserve isn’t part of the government. Its a privately held corporation. Learn the truth behind the federal reserve. :)

    • George4478 says:

      So this cost the government and taxpayers nothing? The private company will eat the cost for misproducing its product and be forced to redo the whole order at no additional charge?

      Uh huh.

    • Tim says:

      Private is a downright lie, and corporation is a bit of a stretch. It is definitely owned and controlled completely by the government, and it derives its power from Congress. Its board is appointed by the president.

  18. bschaa00 says:

    no more paper money, make everything digital. i rarely use cash.

  19. purecajn says:

    It was my understanding that a private company prints the money then the gov. purchases said notes from them w/ interest. If true then why is this misprint effecting anything? Just refuse the tainted 1st batch and tell them there liable for the 2nd batch.

    • Rena says:

      Something about having a private company print the money seems so wrong… guess it simplifies payment though.

      Imagine competition… New improved Scroogeâ„¢ brand currency!

  20. grossmont says:

    Now, can they make all denominations of bills have the same type of security features?

    They’ve changed the bills so much in recent years that receiving the “old” and “new” versions of bills in your change is not uncommon. It would be nice if all of the money circulating had the same features, so you knew what to look for when trying to spot a counterfeit.

  21. cyandron says:

    Wow, my dad prints small, local newspapers and he checks for quality throughout, you’d think they’d do atleast as much for a job of this size and importance. Typical govt. douche-ery!

  22. scoosdad says:

    Sell them individually on QVC some night (can you see Joan Rivers hawking these “unique, collectible, and spendable” $100 bills?) for $59.95 each “plus separate postage and handling of $19.95”, and turn this problem into a money-maker for the government! Problem solved, if you can just ignore the fact that we just released $110 billion dollars into the economy and only received about 80% of that in return. Hey, just like a bailout!

    Really, I wonder what the issue would be if a bill had a slight imperfection like that in them. Would vending machines refuse to accept them (a $100 bill into a vending machine)? As long as the other security features remained intact, I would think a little missing ink here and there woudn’t be a problem. The article doesn’t really reveal any further info about the consequences of the imperfection.

    The worry up my way is that the problem was caused by the paper they’re printed on, which is manufactured in a little out of the way paper mill not too far from here (Crane & Company). These problem bills were apparently printed in two different government plants across the country so the focus has been on the paper, not the process, being to blame. Though I wonder that if these are produced in big sheets just like the rest of our paper money, why someone in printing didn’t catch the problem before they were cut up into individual bills that would have to be scanned individually to sort out the good ones from the bad ones (RTFA for more on that problem).

  23. jim says:

    they should release them all. collectors/joe public will remove them from circulation and the government will effectively get 110 billion in free money.

  24. Tim says:

    The first tag in the story is wrong. The U.S. Mint doesn’t make cash, it only makes coins. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing makes cash.