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Here's a metaphor for the ages

First, the quote of the day:

"There is something drastically wrong here," a person familiar with the situation said. "The frustration level is off the charts."

Frustration about what? What on earth could have gone drastically wrong? 10% nominal (20% real) DISemployment, as far as the eye can see? Banksters getting away with the world's largest swindle, and then paying themselves fat bonuses with our money? Banksters stealing our homes with fraudulent foreclosures? No.

You'll never guess.

Never. Follow me beneath the fold...

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.

After they were printed, officials discovered that some of the new bills have a vertical crease that, when the sides of the bill are pulled, unfolds and reveals a blank space on the face of the bill. At first glance, the bills appear completely printed, but they are not.

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.

So, our rentier state, "the government," can't even print currency (not money, that's on the Fed's ginormous spreadsheet, but currency, the paper that peasants use to buy food, 'n' stuff. And banksters use to buy other things).* As Atrios remarks: Oops.

Anybody here ever bought printing or done production management? If so, you understand the colossal scale of this clusterfuck immediately and completely.** Twelve cents a pop for high-tech paper you can't even wipe yourself with.

I mean, who did the quality assurance? Was there anybody checking the press runs? Did anybody, like, hold one of these bills up to the light? How does a "crease" in a hundred dollar bill get missed? And how did the bad bills get shrinkwrapped and loaded onto the pallets without anybody checking that?

And who wrote the spec? Reading between the lines, maybe the job just wasn't do-able. Is Treasury a client from hell, the kind who won't take no for an answer, and then blames the printer for something that couldn't be done?

And, sweet Jeebus, it really looks like we don't make anything in this country any more. We can't even print our own currency! WTF? Maybe we should outsource that to the Chinese, too?

The bottom line is that the country is run by and for the financial class, the rent-seekers, the banksters. They are in charge. They are the ruling class. They were in charge of this process: Treasury chose the printer, commissioned the job, and the Fed was to distribute the product. And what do we get?

The greatest printing disaster in the history of the world, brought to you by the same power- and money-addled greedheads who brought you the world's biggest banks, the worst economy since the 1930s, and the most corrupt political economy since the Emperor Caligula turned his palace into a brothel and made his horse consul.

Can there be any doubt that our ruling class has lost the mandate of heaven? That they no longer deserve to rule?

Oh, I forgot the beauty part: This was to be the first run with Tim Geither's signature.

BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

NOTE * Like hookers and blow. And... $100 dollar bills... Hmm.... How will the drug lords launder their money? That's going to cause big problems for our Afghan policy, no? Oh, the humanity!

NOTE ** Of course, you're probably out of a job. Just think: If Timmy had hired you, this would never have happened!

NOTE I can think of two ways this Versailles will spin this: For the tediously literal minded: (1) "See? We can no longer print money!" (which confuses money and currency). For the more strategically minded: (2) "We need to abolish cash and legally mandate plastic." Just you watch.

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Submitted by jawbone on

Because officials don’t know how many of the 1.1 billion bills include the flaw, they have to hold them in the massive vaults until they are able to develop a mechanized system that can sort out the usable bills from the defects.

Sorting such a huge quantity of bills by hand, the officials estimate, could take between 20 and 30 years. Using a mechanized system, they think they could sort the massive pile of bills, each of which features the familiar image of Benjamin Franklin on the face, in about one year.

The defective bills – which could number into the tens of millions, potentially representing billions of dollars in face value – will have to be burned, they say. American taxpayers have already spent an enormous amount of money to print the bills.

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.

The comment, of course, covers a multitude of current issues and government actions. But, still: Didn't they run tests??

Submitted by Hugh on

it would still be a very expensive fuckup, but given the housing bubble, going to war over WMD that didn't exist, the inability to guard against 9/11 despite a Presidential security briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US", the endless war in Afghanistan, the meltdown, the failure to investigate or prosecute Bush and Wall Street criminality, the "throw trillions at banksters" bailouts, the implosion of the Democratic party, the brazen sellout on healthcare, the new bubbles in stocks and commodities, leaving the real economy to twist slowly in the wind, and, of course, the massive and multiple frauds of foreclosuregate, this is not only expectable but, as you say, a metaphor for our kleptocratic elites. They have become so incompetent they can't even print correctly the money they intend to steal.

jjmtacoma's picture
Submitted by jjmtacoma on

"They can't even print correctly the money they intended to steal" Indeed!

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

Can't we just cut the white pieces out & tape it together?

I volunteer if they will let me have every tenth bill.

lizpolaris's picture
Submitted by lizpolaris on

get into the entire run? I did work for a printing company that did foodstamp coupon books for the government, among other things. The requirements were endlessly, exhaustively detailed. The test samples took forever to get scrutinized.

But ok, let's say all that happened. Then I could see if you have one batch with paper that results in this vertical crease. But the likelyhood that that defect is going to exist on every run? So all or most the paper was bad and wasn't checked? This seems not likely. If the paper was the problem, there would most likely be one batch of bad paper - not too hard to find. It's a pretty safe assumption that they would know which batch of paper created which bills (they're all numbered). Another way to get a vertical crease on all those batches would be for the equipment used to cause the defect - which makes more sense that you'd see the defect nearly all the time. This would make it very likely to be seen during testing.

Net - it seems really unlikely that the described defect is in the whole batch or spread randomly throughout the run. Could the problem instead be related to some of the new security measures and they don't want to really describe it? Seems more likely. Am I just overly paranoid now? I don't believe anything I hear anymore. At any rate, until they figure out the cause of the problem, they aren't going to be able to estimate how bad it is or if it's limited to part of the run.

Submitted by lambert on

You're asking exactly the kind of question that ought to be asked. The latest:

More than 1 billion unusable bills have been printed. Some of the bills creased during production, creating a blank space on the paper, one official told CNBC. Because correctly printed bills are mixed in with the flawed ones, even the ones printed to the correct design specs can't be used until they 're sorted. It would take an estimated 20 to 30 years to weed out the defective bills by hand, but a mechanized system is expected to get the job done in about a year.

I don't understand how this can be either, but apparently, it is!

I like the idea -- let's just go ahead and call it foily -- that it's really the security features that are the issue. Naturally, the Fed has made given us a list of such features -- BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA! -- and embedded RFID chips aren't on the list, but why not something else?

UPDATE If you believe a government web site with press releases on it -- money.gov, I really, really like that URL -- this story has been around since October 1:

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing manufactures Federal Reserve notes and has identified a problem with sporadic creasing of the paper during printing of the new $100 note, which was not apparent during extensive pre-production testing. As a consequence, the Federal Reserve will not have sufficient inventories to begin distributing the new $100 notes as planned.

So, Jeebus, did I get deked? If blog fodder like this was been out for two months and I missed it...

Submitted by Hugh on

What is so odd and inexplicable about all this is that any errors should have been caught at multiple points in the process, and they should have been caught in testing or early in the runs. So the screwups are both massive and serial.

Submitted by windy on

Mad Fold-In Bill?

gizzardboy's picture
Submitted by gizzardboy on

I think one of the most valuable American stamps is one with the airplane upside down. Treasury could auction off a limited number of these to collectors and make up a little of the loss.

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