Why We Must Stop Printing $100 Bills

Big notes are for criminals: Larry Summers
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2016 12:40 PM CST
Why We Must Stop Printing $100 Bills
Stock image.   (Shutterstock)

How often do you use $100 bills? Never? That's probably because you're not a criminal. As Lawrence H. Summers explains at the Washington Post, there's a school of thought that high-denomination currency aids crime and even terrorism. In a new paper out of Harvard, senior fellow Peter Sands argues that "illicit activities are facilitated when a million dollars weighs 2.2 pounds"—as it does when 500 euro notes are used—"rather than more than 50 pounds as would be the case if the $20 bill was the high denomination note." Indeed, the 500 euro note is called the "bin Laden" by some. The same concern applies for the $100 bill, writes Summers, a former treasure secretary who currently teaches at Harvard.

Thanks to advances in technology, there is no longer a need for high denomination notes. Summers thinks removing all existing such notes is too big a step, but we should certainly stop printing new ones. "A global agreement to stop issuing notes worth more than say $50 or $100 ... would be as significant as anything else the G7 or G20 has done in years," he says. We all want to fight corruption, and taking this step would "show that the global financial groupings can stand up against 'big money' and for the interests of ordinary citizens." Click for his full column. (Read more crime stories.)

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