Coin of the Realm
January 4, 2013 5:51 PM   Subscribe

An idea to mint a trillion dollar coin is seriously proposed as a desperate legal maneuver against allowing the US government to go into default.

According to one proponent: The premise of the idea is this: Although the Treasury can't just create money out of thin air to pay its bills, there is a technicality in the law that says the Treasury has special discretion to create platinum coins of any denomination, and the thinking is that Tim Geithner could make the coin and walk it over to the Federal Reserve and deposit it in the Treasury's bank account.

Hyperinflation and other concerns are also addressed. The bottom line is: Because this trillion dollar coin isn't being used as "helicopter money" (money dropped directly into the economy) you don't get the inflationary effects you're used to seeing when you hear about governments creating money in large denominations.

A petition seeking 25,000 signatures is described here.
posted by Brian B. (151 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Finally, the Reganites get St. Ronnie's face on a coin!

We can call it the Gipper.
posted by absalom at 5:54 PM on January 4, 2013 [29 favorites]


Sounds like a bailout for the ensemble heist movie industry
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:56 PM on January 4, 2013 [89 favorites]


Doesn't the Bank of Scotland have something similar with million or thousand million pound notes?
posted by infinitewindow at 5:59 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


So they mint the coin. Which of course triggers a cascade of comedic mishaps that climaxes when some hapless aide hands the coin to a squeegee guy.
They must find the wino and retrieve the coin before the bad guys lay their hands on it and wreck the world economy!

Hilarity ensues.
posted by Pudhoho at 6:02 PM on January 4, 2013 [38 favorites]


Seems perfectly reasonable. Seriously.
posted by odinsdream at 6:03 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sounds like Economics itself has just jumped the shark.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:04 PM on January 4, 2013 [30 favorites]


Funny what Winter's lack of sunlight can cause.
posted by tommasz at 6:04 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I dunno about the Bank of Scotland, but the largest-denomination US note ever printed was done so for a similar reason.

If this platinum coin is minted, I'm voting for James T. Kirk to be on it, because what the hell.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:04 PM on January 4, 2013 [47 favorites]


It's no less crazy an idea than the debt ceiling itself.
posted by downing street memo at 6:07 PM on January 4, 2013 [40 favorites]


Where are the Ron Paul goldbugs to tell us that for this to work and be morally rational, this needs to be a platinum coin the size of Texas?
posted by Bwithh at 6:07 PM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I want this coin to exist. I don't need to have it because only Saudi princes would have change.
posted by Mister_A at 6:07 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


You just know that someone is going to need a quarter for a sandwich in the vending machine and then we're going to be in economic collapse.
posted by xingcat at 6:10 PM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Money is fictional anyway. I'm in favor of forging this stupid magical talisman to ward off even greater stupidity.
posted by Foosnark at 6:13 PM on January 4, 2013 [43 favorites]


I'm confused... they create a trillion bucks, give it to the government, and then what? Since they're using it to pay bills or cover bonds, then how is it not being added to the existing supply of dollars and cause inflation? It sounded like by having this specific trillion bucks in the bank that they could just turn around and use the money they've got in the bank currently to pay for these things is how they can legally justify it, but how exactly is that NOT creating money out of thin air?
posted by Blue_Villain at 6:14 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


If this platinum coin is minted, I'm voting for James T. Kirk to be on it, because what the hell.

Saying to his communicator, "Beam us up, Scottie."
posted by Brian B. at 6:14 PM on January 4, 2013


I'd be amazed if Obama showed the sack to mint the coin.
posted by wrapper at 6:15 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now that's a spicy meatball!
posted by sourwookie at 6:16 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


For every economic question Krugman has an answer:

In reality, to pursue the thought further, the coin really would be as much a Federal debt as the T-bills the Fed owns, since eventually Treasury would want to buy it back. So this is all a gimmick — but since the debt ceiling itself is crazy, allowing Congress to tell the president to spend money then tell him that he can’t raise the money he’s supposed to spend, there’s a pretty good case for using whatever gimmicks come to hand.

[...] It’s true that printing money isn’t at all inflationary under current conditions — that is, with the economy depressed and interest rates up against the zero lower bound. But eventually these conditions will end. At that point, to prevent a sharp rise in inflation the Fed will want to pull back much of the monetary base it created in response to the crisis, which means selling off the Federal debt it bought. So even though right now that debt is just a claim by one more or less governmental agency on another governmental agency, it will eventually turn into debt held by the public.

posted by mek at 6:16 PM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I hear they's eatin' l'il babbies in Ireland, too.
posted by boo_radley at 6:17 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seriously, drill a hole in it and tie it to a stick like a gas station bathroom key or something. We don't need Geithner buying a latte or his WSJ with it.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:17 PM on January 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


"The Triganic Pu has its own very special problems. Its exchange rate of eight Ningis to one Pu is simple enough, but since a Ningi is a rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles along each side, no one has ever collected enough to own one Pu. Ningis are not negotiable currency, because the Galactibanks refuse to deal in fiddling small change. From this basic premise it is very simple to prove that the Galactibanks are also the product of a deranged imagination." --- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
posted by SPrintF at 6:19 PM on January 4, 2013 [51 favorites]


they create a trillion bucks, give it to the government, and then what?

They avoid the debt ceiling, which is 16.394 trillion dollars, and can continue as before until we raise taxes to cover spending, cheating those who would want to damage the economy to make their tea party point. It is widely believed that the right wing is considering bankrupting the government to destroy the notion of a "welfare state."
posted by Brian B. at 6:19 PM on January 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


also, I tried to get cortex to help me out of a conversation with a coworker about this earlier today. I wound up having to answer a scrap piece of paper because the coworker wouldn't leave it alone.
posted by boo_radley at 6:19 PM on January 4, 2013


Make it three feet wide and mount handles so Captain America can use it.
posted by arcticseal at 6:21 PM on January 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


Must be rather large to be worth $1 trillion, like Rai stone large.
posted by destro at 6:22 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


They should mint the thing just to make all the goldbugs' heads explode.
posted by mek at 6:24 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just let them default. Just walk away. Kill the hostage. Then allow the sequestration to proceed apace. Shut down every damn military concern in the red states. That, after all, is what they voted for.

Oh and stop paying these damn clowns and their obscene pensions in the process. It didn't go well for Newt when he tried, what makes them think it will be different this time?
posted by Max Power at 6:25 PM on January 4, 2013


Ten goats, two cows, a good ox or a second wife.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:26 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I heard this story on the way home and laughed so hard that it's a good thing I was stopped in traffic or I would've driven off the road.
posted by rtha at 6:30 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm personally in favor of just ignoring the debt ceiling entirely, but if we can't do that, this workaround will done fine. You cannot seriously argue that when Congress appropriates funds to be spent on various governmental functions, and those funds exceed revenues collected under the authority of the same Congress, it isn't also automatically authorizing the government to assume further debt to pay the bill? Did Congress pass the budget assuming that a magical money fairy is going to make up the difference somehow?
posted by zachlipton at 6:30 PM on January 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


The thing about this not being inflationary is only true because the Fed has already been working in an inflationary way, by buying Treasuries directly. It's not supposed to do that. To whatever degree it's buying Treasuries directly, it means we're not borrowing anymore, taking money from willing lenders in exchange for more money later. Rather, we're outright stealing value from the economy, taking just a little value from everyone who holds wealth in dollars. This is what the banana republics did, and this is why 'banana republic' is such a strong pejorative. We have a monstrous economy, and numerous other central banks are trying to hold their own currencies down against the dollar, and the existing staggering debt load is strongly deflationary, so the impulses all more or less balance, and we appear to be in steady state -- while things rot away on every side. See: healthcare costs. See: tuition costs. See: your cable bill. See: the inability of states to run many basic services any longer.

Minting a trillion dollar coin means that the Fed can then sell off the bonds it's holding, in essence sopping up some or all of the trillion. But there's a hard limit there; it can only sell what it has already bought. If that's not a trillion dollars, then the remaining dollars now floating around in the economy are most certainly inflationary.

Until that reserve is used up, we're just changing who printed the money, sort of playing a shell game. (at least, assuming the Fed can find willing buyers.) But once the Fed is out of Treasuries, any further funding with coins is creating money.

If Congress refuses to allow us to borrow money from the market, then the only alternatives are to create new money from nothing, or to default. All of the options are bad. Even if Congress authorizes the borrowing, we are simply living beyond our means, trying to support a standard of living we cannot afford, and we are trading away the quality of life of later generations to get it. Just like with Greece, when the bill comes due, things are going to get very, very bad.

No matter how we try to welch on our debts, and we will, the consequences will be severe.
posted by Malor at 6:33 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


To whatever degree it's buying Treasuries directly, it means we're not borrowing anymore, taking money from willing lenders in exchange for more money later. Rather, we're outright stealing value from the economy, taking just a little value from everyone who holds wealth in dollars.

Actually this is completely wrong, since interest rates are at historic lows and below inflation right now. Bond buyers are actually paying for the privilege of holding US debt. They don't get more money later, they get LESS.

And inflation doesn't "steal value from the economy" it decreases the value of currency, which does not affect the value or use value of labour or capital. It only decreases real value indirectly due to price mismatches in the case of high-inflation scenarios, etcetera. Anyway, that's just a few reasons you're dead wrong, but I doubt hearing it for the thousandth time will help things.
posted by mek at 6:38 PM on January 4, 2013 [35 favorites]


Just let them default. Just walk away. Kill the hostage. Then allow the sequestration to proceed apace. Shut down every damn military concern in the red states. That, after all, is what they voted for.

And being from the most densely military metropolitan area in the country, I wait for the day when the federal government cuts off food stamps, child care and other aid for people living on the edge, so that got-mine-fuck-you liberals like you in the urban cores get a lot less comfortable.

Wait, no I don't. Because I'm not a total bastard.
posted by indubitable at 6:42 PM on January 4, 2013 [17 favorites]


Bond buyers are actually paying for the privilege of holding US debt. They don't get more money later, they get LESS.

Right, they are having value stolen from them. They have to compete with their limited dollar savings, the stuff for which they had to work hard to get, against unlimited supplies of the same stuff for free. Their wealth is being eaten by inflation, while they can get no interest for their stored value.

You yourself cannot make any money on your savings, because the Fed is stealing it, and giving to big banks, mostly. This isn't all from money printing, but more and more of it is.
posted by Malor at 6:43 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can someone just tell me if this will validate my previously-held political beliefs, so I can know whether to support it or not?
posted by dubold at 6:48 PM on January 4, 2013 [25 favorites]


Doesn't the Bank of Scotland have something similar with million or thousand million pound notes?

Not the Bank of Scotland, the Bank of England. Banknotes issued by banks in Scotland and Norther Ireland were required to be backed by those banks holding actual pound sterling notes from the Bank of England.

Obviously, this was hard to do, until the BoE created the One Million Pound and One Hundred Million Pound banknotes, nicknamed the Giant and the Titan. They basically looked like simple IOUs, rather than currency. This was changed in 2009, now "backing assets" have to be held, but not explicitly pounds sterling banknotes from the Bank of England -- instead, they can be held in account at the Bank of England. Should the issuing bank fail, those accounts are ringfenced and used to supply the money needed to exchange the failed bank's issued notes for BoE banknotes.
posted by eriko at 6:50 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Right, they are having value stolen from them. They have to compete with their dollar savings against unlimited supplies of the same stuff for free, so their wealth is being eaten by inflation while they can get no interest for their stored value.

And yet they continue to line up for the privilege. Not only are the markets happy to "not make any money on their savings," they will pay for the privilege of US government-backed bonds at negative real interest rates. Investors are desperate to own US debt. The only reason investors can't keep buying US bonds is because the House Republicans want to play chicken.

Simple question: if inflation is around the corner, why are investors still buying US bonds at negative real interest rates?
posted by mek at 6:50 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think instead of an actual minted coin it should be a stick doodle of Obama riding a unicorn.
posted by elizardbits at 6:53 PM on January 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


a trillion dollar coin

I hope they mint it and then a hobo gets ahold of it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:54 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can we mint 20 or 30 of them and get a space elevator, fund the mission to Mars, cure cancer, take care of the poor, fix education and get us off of petroleum?

If we're going to go bankrupt, let's do it with some style.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:55 PM on January 4, 2013 [21 favorites]


A Trillion dollar coin?

The world is swiftly turning into an episode of Metalocalypse.
posted by sendai sleep master at 6:56 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]




Given the cries about the constitution everywhere else - Obama is a secret Muslim from Kenya; The Founding Fathers that I be allowed to have a water cooled machine gun; etc. - why doesn't someone just ask for the people who keep trying to put us into default to point out the part of the constitution that allows congress to budget money and then prohibit the executive branch from spending it, or refusing to pay for something they have authorized? It's a lot easier than cutting coin dies.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:59 PM on January 4, 2013


I vote that we put Carl Sagan's face on it.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:00 PM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wouldn't the Trillion Dollar Coin have Harry Truman's face on it?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:07 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean really, you clowns want jobs, rebuild the goddamned infrastructure that's crumbling nation wide. Our bloated military is best defined as "welfare for the rich."
posted by Max Power at 7:08 PM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wolfram alpha to the rescue: a trillion dollars worth of platinum would occupy 945 cubic meters, or not quite a 10x10x10m cube. Or, as Wolfram Alpha helpfully points out, about 38% of an Olympic sized swimming pool.
posted by Pyry at 7:08 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Pyry, the face value doesn't have any relation to the value of the metal.
posted by odinsdream at 7:14 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Buddy, I've got a real job. But what happens when all my neighbors suddenly don't? Sure, through good fortune, I can afford to find a job in another part of the country, but there are an awful lot of people here who can't say the same.
posted by indubitable at 7:15 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does that much platinum exist?
posted by double block and bleed at 7:15 PM on January 4, 2013


IDK maybe we should invade a couple of countries and see what they have.
posted by elizardbits at 7:17 PM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thank you, Max Power (ha!) for making the obligatory Simpsons episode reference I am highly disappointed no one has made yet.

It's like I don't even know you anymore, Metafilter. There was an entire Simpsons episode plot about this exact idea! Featuring Mr. Burns! C'mon!
posted by emjaybee at 7:17 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


They could make it out of the same kind of brass that Obama would need to do this.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:17 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Plus, we could remake one of my youthful favorite films, Who's Minding The Mint? with earth-shattering consequences!
posted by sonascope at 7:18 PM on January 4, 2013


The thing is, you just mint the coin and never use it, just threaten to use it in case the House Republicans decide they want to ruin the US economy and likely the worlds by forcing a default over the debt ceiling.

Mutually assured destruction: House Republicans vs. The World.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:18 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why don't we just call the Amazing Diamond Planet a coin and then we have $26.9 x10^30 to borrow and spend against forever!
posted by Mister_A at 7:20 PM on January 4, 2013


Psst, emjaybee, click 'Harry Truman' in my link above.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:20 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the coin should have Richard Nixon's face on it. 8)
posted by MikeWarot at 7:21 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


That much platinum exists. It may or may not have been mined yet...

Meanwhile, this is how the Canadians do it. Has the Queen's head on it, bitches.
posted by Devonian at 7:24 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pyry, the face value doesn't have any relation to the value of the metal.

Yes, obviously, but someone said it would have to be the "size of Texas", so its interesting to find that it would actually fit into a neat 10m cube.

Does that much platinum exist?

Probably not; this link says that global production is expected to grow to 310,000 kg/year, which means that it would take over 600 years to mine that much platinum.
posted by Pyry at 7:24 PM on January 4, 2013


It should definitely be comically huge such that it cannot be mistaken for another lesser coin. And then we should make a comically huge soda machine and let Big Beverage battle it out to see who will make the comically huge soda that will then be purchased with the comically huge coin and drunk in one go by whichever Republican the public votes to see explode live on television from a combination of carbonation overdose and sugar rush.
posted by elizardbits at 7:25 PM on January 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


In conclusion I should be put in charge of the Department of Federal Awesomeness.
posted by elizardbits at 7:26 PM on January 4, 2013 [35 favorites]


elizardbits: "It should definitely be comically huge such that it cannot be mistaken for another lesser coin. "

"Welcome to the first bank of metafilter. Can I help you deposit your... hubcap?"
posted by boo_radley at 7:30 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the Congress doesn't want the US to borrow money, perhaps it shouldn't originate budgets that require borrowing. (Article I, Sec. 7, US Constitution)
posted by no relation at 7:38 PM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is obviously RC Cola's deepest darkest secret recovery plan.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:39 PM on January 4, 2013


From Wikipedia:
Rai, or stone money, are large, circular stone disks carved out of limestone formed from aragonite and calcite crystals, Rai stones were mined in Palau and transported for use to the island of Yap, Micronesia.

The physical location of the stone may not matter—though the ownership of a particular stone changes, the stone itself is rarely moved due to its weight and risk of damage. The names of previous owners are passed down to the new one. In one instance, a rai being transported by canoe was accidentally dropped and sank to the sea floor. Although it was never seen again, everyone agreed that the rai must still be there, so it continued to be transacted as genuine currency. What is important is that ownership of the rai is clear to everyone, not that the rai is physically transferred or even physically accessible to either party in the transfer.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:39 PM on January 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


It should definitely be comically huge such that it cannot be mistaken for another lesser coin.
If it's hubcap size, you gotta have spinners. Perhaps instead oblong, so it can be mounted on a championship belt? Oooh yeah!

The whole idea of using the law in a backdoor way to rekajigger the economy is kind of funny. But the whole situation has spun off into a land of goofiness unto itself.

Barack Obama: Tim, what is the worst caucus in this country?
Timothy Geithner: Well that would be hard to say, sir. They're each outstanding in their own way.
Obama: Cut the horseshit, son. I've got their disciplinary files right here. Who dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool? Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the State Dinner? Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the Congressional toilets explode.
Tim: You're talking about the GOP, sir.
Obama: Of course I'm talking about GOP, you twerp. This year is going to be different. This year we are going to grab the elephant by the balls and kick those punks off campus.
Tim: What do you intend to do sir? They're already on probation.
Obama: They are?
Tim: Yes, sir.
Obama: Oh. Then as of this moment, they're on double secret probation!
Tim: Double secret probation, sir?
Obama: There is a little known codicil in the U.S. Constitution which gives the U.S. Treasury permission to mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins. Find me a way to revoke their charter. You live next door. Put Emanuel on it. He's a sneaky little shit, just like you, right? *Tim nods* The time has come for someone to put their foot down. And that foot is me.

cut to Ben "Bluto" Bernanke swinging across Pennsylvania Avenue, scooping up Michelle Malkin. A large cake that says "Eat Me (Deficit)" shrugs off it's facade to reveal the GOP Deathmobile bearing the bronze head of John Maynard Keynes.

John "Flounder: Boehner: "Oh, boy this is gonna be great!" dumps marbles onto the Wall Street trading floor. Countrywide Financial Chaos ensues.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:42 PM on January 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


That much platinum exists. It may or may not have been mined yet...

Meanwhile, this is how the Canadians do it. Has the Queen's head on it, bitches.
posted by Devonian at 7:24 PM on January 4 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


The Echo Bay Loonie

The Sudbury Big Nickel

Are oversize coins a Canadian.... thing?
maybe something to do with the emboldened identity of a young nation as it comes of age?
posted by Bwithh at 7:44 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Treasury should just put out a little tray on their front desk that says "take a trillion, leave a trillion" and see what happens.
posted by uosuaq at 7:46 PM on January 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


From Devonian's C$1m Canadian coin link:

Why did the Royal Canadian Mint make the world's purest and largest gold bullion coin? Because we can.

This attitude feels worryingly AmeriCANadian to me.
Intervention time?
posted by Bwithh at 7:50 PM on January 4, 2013


The whole negotiation is ridiculous. Tomorrow, Obama, Reid, and Pelosi should get together and submit a "Protecting Our Retirement Assets Act of 2013" to both the house and senate which would raise the debt ceiling (no waiting for the March 1 deadline). When it fails to pass either chamber on the first go, Obama suspends social security payments and in lieu of them sends letters saying, "Your social security check is not available because Congress will not authorize the funds to be obtained at this time. A record is being maintained, and all amounts due to you will be paid, with interest, after the passage of the Protecting Our Retirement Assets Act of 2013. Please contact your congressmen and senators to inquire into the status of this act, and urge them to pass it."

It will take about 15 seconds after the government misses a social security payment for every single elected representative to fall in line.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 7:50 PM on January 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


Odd coincidence: this afternoon, before I learned of this story, I was doing my own work to change America's coinage for the better:

Replace Washington on the quarter dollar with Spenser and Hawk.

I need your signatures, people! We can't make this happen unless YOU get involved!
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:51 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Y'know, I first misread this as "plutonium." But on consideration, that would probably solve a lot of other problems that might crop up.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:57 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sure, why not? But I say: make it a die. Each side has the face of a particular GOP gasbag on it. The value of each side is different, starting with 1Boehner = 1Trillion up to 1Cantor = 100Trillion. Once a year, the President gets to roll it and that's it's value on deposit that year.
posted by marylynn at 8:10 PM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Make it out of cheese. Coin transfers hands, problem one solved, the President eats the coin, problem two solved.
posted by chambers at 8:14 PM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


For god's sake don 't let them make the same mistake they made with the Susan B. Anthony dollar or someone will lose the damn thing in a parking meter.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:18 PM on January 4, 2013


This is very clearly not what the law on issuing commemorative platinum coins was intended to allow. This might be legal, but it will not be perceived as legitimate. It's weird, and weird spooks the horses. How would you react if President Romney did this?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:19 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


This might be legal, but it will not be perceived as legitimate.

I feel the same way about Congress's ability to limit debt repayment after passing laws requiring the borrowing in question
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:28 PM on January 4, 2013 [19 favorites]




I say Obama mints the coin and then makes all his decisions by flipping it. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:30 PM on January 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


It would obviously be better to mint 1,000 billion dollar coins, because hey, someone might need to make change.

Besides, then you could put them all into a big sack with a big dollar sign on it.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:30 PM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


that's "change" we can believe in
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:31 PM on January 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


IDK maybe we should invade a couple of countries and see what they have.

It's working for me in Civilization V.
posted by msalt at 8:36 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Make it three feet wide and mount handles so Captain America can use it.

I say it must be made from the core of a brown dwarf star. ;)
posted by usagizero at 8:42 PM on January 4, 2013


Is this seriously what it's come down to? Has the Republicans' obstructionism gone so far that people are seriously considering this as a solution?
posted by JHarris at 8:43 PM on January 4, 2013


Y'know, I first misread this as "plutonium." But on consideration, that would probably solve a lot of other problems that might crop up.

Reminds me of the SF short story Self-Limiting by Robert L. Forward.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:44 PM on January 4, 2013


I'm all for the minting of the coin. Here's my design:

Obverse: Relief image of Presidential seal inside circle of 50 stars, surrounded by text UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / ONE TRILLION DOLLARS.
Reverse: inscriptions LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST; relief image of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln drowning Grover Norquist in a bathtub.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:49 PM on January 4, 2013 [20 favorites]


I understand that the GOP (probably) wouldn't go for this, but since the debt ceiling will come in 2 months, as well as sequestration, couldn't they just wrap them all into one bill? The GOP would get what they want (spending cuts), the Dems would get what they want (debt ceiling), and both parties would avoid what they don't want (sequester).

Of course the GOP might want to turn it into 2 bills so they can get more spending cuts out of it. By the way, does anyone know what the conditions are to avoid the sequester? Does the deficit have to be reduced by X number of dollars or something?
posted by o310362 at 8:49 PM on January 4, 2013


Finally, the Reganites get St. Ronnie's face on a coin!

We can call it the Gipper.


...the "Loonie" already having been taken by our neighbors to the north.
posted by threeants at 8:52 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


How would you react if President Romney did this?

However my husband and/or priest instructed me to, as per the law of the land.
posted by elizardbits at 8:52 PM on January 4, 2013 [47 favorites]


A one billion dollar coin would be a better idea, as a serious threat for starters. One billion dollar coins could be bought by wealthy collectors as ego monuments with no interest attached. They would be protected by serial numbers declaring the owner in a registry, to discourage theft. We would never need to buy them back. Also, allowing citizens to visualize a trillion dollars as one thousand coins would educate half the population who misjudges a trillion for a hundred billion, which helped create the mess we're in now.
posted by Brian B. at 8:57 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


My coin design suggestion:

The shape of Kenya with a star and crescent on one side and whatever the Latin for "fuck the tea party" on the other side.

But, for better or worse, Obama doesn't hold grudges like me.

(It's definitely for better.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:07 PM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


MCMikeNamara wrote:
"...whatever the Latin for "fuck the tea party" on the other side"

futuis tea partis
posted by 1367 at 9:18 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


They should make it out of anti-platinum; $1 trillion might get you upwards of a couple of milligrams, so it'll be a very tiny and very dangerous coin. Plus, it'll be a total pain in the ass to steal.
posted by Pyry at 9:22 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


They should make it out of anti-platinum

UNOBTANIUM.
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:24 PM on January 4, 2013 [7 favorites]




My vote is for Ayn Rand's image on the coin, just to drive home the wackiness of this becoming a viable idea.

Plus it would give us hours of fun to watch the Randites respond to the idea..
posted by 1367 at 9:34 PM on January 4, 2013


Just like with Greece

Except the part where the Germans force us to abide by the the one monetary policy to rule them all. So, in other words, not at all like Greece.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:58 PM on January 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


I kind of wish that I hadn't gone to the link about the Canadian million dollar gold coin, because if I win the lottery, I might just end up buying one. Just to order a pizza and ask the deliverer if they have change.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:06 PM on January 4, 2013


one more dead town's last parade: " Except the part where the Germans force us to abide by the the one monetary policy to rule them all. So, in other words, not at all like Greece."

Seriously. It's like the inflationistas aren't even trying anymore.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:07 PM on January 4, 2013


This would be the best Two-Face heist ever.
posted by klangklangston at 10:09 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


This might be legal, but it will not be perceived as legitimate. It's weird, and weird spooks the horses.

Spook the horses? TPM:

A government shutdown, like the ones Republicans precipitated in 1995, occurs when Congress fails or refuses to appropriate funds for government operations. Because the executive branch lacks the power to raise and spend money on its own, government functions cease until the political pressure builds on Congress to pass appropriations and then those operations resume.

Not raising the debt limit, by contrast, leaves the government far short of the money it needs to execute the spending Congress has told it to undertake. That would be unprecedented, and put the executive branch in legally uncharted territory: unable legally to borrow the money needed to pay all of its bills, but still required by law to pay them. It would impact services in a chaotic and unpredictable fashion, while removing tens of billions of dollars a month from the economy — many times the contractionary effect of the fiscal cliff’s sequestration provisions.

It’s likely that the government would eventually fail to service all of its debt, damaging U.S. credit and touching off a major financial catastrophe.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:24 PM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: "How would you react if President Romney did this?"

Heh. You said "President Romney."

The answer, of course, is that if we did have a President Romney right now, the GOP wouldn't be threatening to hold the country and the global economy hostage. Congress raised the debt ceiling seven times under George W. Bush to pay for wars, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and tax cuts for the wealthy. The idea that they'd refuse to do it for Romney is ludicrous.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:56 PM on January 4, 2013 [21 favorites]


Geez, Devonian's million dollar Canadian gold coin from 2007 is worth $5,326,612 at today's gold price close. Is that what's got all the Ron Paulites googling?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:58 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The $1,000,000 coin was the face value. Like most limited minted coins from the Royal Canadian Mint, the retail price is much more than the face value. That coin sold for something like $3M, and one sold at auction a couple of years ago at $4M. It's a curiosity more than anything; if you're going to invest in gold, few people are actually going to buy a chunk of metal that size, or even 3000-odd one-ounce chunks.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:11 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


...yoink!
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:30 PM on January 4, 2013


First rule in government spending - why build one, when you can have two at twice the price?
posted by phaedon at 12:05 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which face to put on the coin? Easy: trollface.
posted by Skeptic at 1:07 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


GOP might try something. But I don't think so. There is simply no way their Wall Street masters are gonna put up with that--there's zero chance of getting a better deal for 4 long years.

Reminds me of meeting some heavy mortgage securities traders in DC one night--think it was a week after the first debate. Not sure what they were doing down here. We talked for 45 minutes. Their grasp of business was strong. Their grasp of economics was not. And they were soooo convinced Romney was going to win.

Fuckers.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:26 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who saw that the size would be about 10m square and got really excited because THAT IS THE SIZE OF L BOB RIFE'S GIANT THING IN THE METAVERSE but then I realized that was kilometers, not meters, and then got sad? I also think of Artemis Fowl every time the Ron Paul goldbug people come up. It's possible I just live in an alternate dimension where only fictional people matter.
posted by NoraReed at 1:28 AM on January 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I hoping for something like the Giant Penny in the Batcave
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:30 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I haven't read the blue in several months and can I just say, what a post to come back to.... These comments are f-ing hilarious. How'd y'all get so clever?
posted by désoeuvrée at 3:00 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Ron Paul cries himself to sleep in his bed made of gold because...platinum!!!
posted by Thorzdad at 5:40 AM on January 5, 2013


Why not make it 11 Trillion, just to give it that extra push over the cliff?
posted by Lanark at 5:43 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why not make it 11 Trillion, just to give it that extra push over the cliff?

That's kind of what's going through my mind. If a real fiscal crisis can be mitigated by a single freakin' coin, why couldn't they mint a zillion-dollar Chicken McNugget? Why bother with the actual minting at all-- couldn't Geithner just call a press conference, wink, and say "Yeah, we minted up the trillion-dollar coin, and I took it over yesterday on lunch break, seriously"?
posted by Rykey at 6:12 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's kind of what's going through my mind. If a real fiscal crisis can be mitigated by a single freakin' coin, why couldn't they mint a zillion-dollar Chicken McNugget? Why bother with the actual minting at all-- couldn't Geithner just call a press conference, wink, and say "Yeah, we minted up the trillion-dollar coin, and I took it over yesterday on lunch break, seriously"?

It isn't a real fiscal crisis, it's an entirely artificial debt ceiling crisis. Real interest rates on Treasuries are still negative; the US is so far away from a fiscal crisis that they can actually run a profit on selling them.
posted by jaduncan at 6:27 AM on January 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


This sort of concept -- but for a million dollar bill in Canada -- was recently satirized on the CBC Radio program "This Is That" (starts at 8:30).
posted by anothermug at 7:20 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, I was thinking around the problem of how to create a coin that is actually worth $1 Trillion.

We can't actually do that with platinum it seems, we don't actually have enough, also we'd have to buy platinum off someone.

The solution, it seems to me, is Art.

Looking at the most expensive paintings gives us the maximum value of a painting as $200 million (The Card Players by Paul Cézanne.

Therefore what we need is a coin containing roughly 5000 works of art of at least this value.

Assuming that the artist is what gives a painting its value, everyone has an equal value of being that artist, and every piece of artwork produced has equal probability of becoming that value we can do some probability calculations.

Someone with the artistic value production talent of Cézanne is produced with probability 1.065x10^-11, he produced 1300 paintings, so each one had a probability 1/1300 of being worth that much.

That means each painting ever produced has a probability of roughly 8 x 10 ^ -15 of being valuable.

I'm British, I don't see why I should solve Americas problems and I guess the rest of the world agrees, so I'll assume only US citizens will participate. The US has 309 million citizens roughly. So, each citizen needs to produce 3 x 10 ^ 7 pieces of art work each to produce one piece of artwork worth $200 million dollars. To produce the required 1 trillion dollars we simply multiply this by 5000.

So each citizen must be instructed to immediately produce 150 billion works of art. We'll assume each piece of artwork takes about an hour to produce (this may seem unreasonable, but your country is at stake!) this should only take you guys about 20 million years. It will actually be much faster as the list of valuable paintings shows many paintings worth only slightly less than $200 million.

Once this is done carefully fold the artwork produced and encase in platinum. At some future point
the coin will achieve a genuine value of $1 trillion.

There are some resource issues to be dealt with. I will assume you guys will use US letter paper (whatever that is), and you'll need 9.27 quadrillion sheets of paper. One tree produces 80, 500 sheets of paper. So you'll need about 100 billion trees. There are about 43,560 trees per acre if you cram them up, so you'll need about 2 million acres of space. This is two times the area of Rhode island, or an area 0.4 times the size of Wales, if you're British.

I'm sure if you ask the UK government nicely we can give you half of Wales to plant trees on.

This leaves the problem of paint, I couldn't find coverage statistics, but we'll assume you guys will use ink. Ink covers 200, 000 square inches per pound of ink. You need to cover 8.5 x 11, which is about 100 square inches per sheet, and you need 9.27 quadrillion sheets. This gives us about 866 quadrillion square inches, or 4 trillion pounds of ink.

HP ink cartridges hold 69ml. If we assume art is art whatever its colour, then you can do it all in nice affordable HP black ink. Ink weighs about as much as water so you need 1.81 * 10^12 litres (4 times the volume of water in Sydney harbour, 6 times the volume of oil transported by oil tankers in a year). Thus you need 2 * 10 ^ 13 ink cartridges. At $36.45 dollars per cartridge you'll need to invest only around $1 quadrillion dollars to get this ink. You might get a volume discount (that's an Amazon price, so you can also opt for supersaver shipping).

There are probably other practical problems, but I think if you guys work together you could work this out and Art your way out of financial crisis.
posted by ElliotH at 9:01 AM on January 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


Why not make it 11 Trillion, just to give it that extra push over the cliff?

Lanark wins the internets.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:29 AM on January 5, 2013


The reason this technicality exists is interesting to think about. Since the invention of coins, it has been the government's job to certify the amount and quality of precious metals in each one. When paper money was invented, it was backed by metals -- but it was deemed too easy for the government to lie about how much it had, so the job of printing paper money was given to the banks. This persisted, and today the government controls the supply of coins while the Federal Reserve controls the supply of paper money (and the vastly larger supply of money which has no physical representation at all).

This distinction no longer makes any sense, since neither coins nor paper money have any connection to precious metals. The only reason platinum is connected to this story is that Congress specifically authorized the president to mint platinum coins of any denomination, while the other denominations are all listed specifically. There's nothing stopping the president from minting four trillion quarters, either.

Obviously the trillion dollar coin idea is a bargaining chip, like the threat to default itself. This is just how negotiations work.
posted by miyabo at 10:08 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Turn it up to 11!
posted by msalt at 10:09 AM on January 5, 2013


why are investors still buying US bonds at negative real interest rates?

Are "trading computers" now "investors"?

why doesn't someone just ask for the people who keep trying to put us into default to point out the part of the constitution that allows congress to budget money and then prohibit the executive branch from spending it, or refusing to pay for something they have authorized

The internet is a rather big place. There are corners of it where exactly that question is asked. Things like "lets have an audit of the Fed" are met here on The Blue with 'hurf durf' and so it eventually gets filtered out of The Blue.

Posts about that topic will be back on The Blue once 'The Government' is in "Republican hands". So will issues like the various kinetic actions across the planet return to FPP posts on The Blue.

for every single elected representative to fall in line.

They *ARE* in line. But the line they are in is not one to "help Americans" unless by Americans you mean the ever alive Corporate Americans. You, dear reader, are too small to matter and stop it.

A petition seeking 25,000 signatures is described here.

Ohhh a petition. Say, how have they been working out thus far for things other than beer recipes?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:11 AM on January 5, 2013


Maybe the banks should install yellow lights instead.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:19 AM on January 5, 2013


miyabo: "Obviously the trillion dollar coin idea is a bargaining chip, like the threat to default itself. This is just how negotiations work."

This might be how negotiations work now, but it's not how they have ever worked before Barack Obama was elected. A vote against the debt ceiling increase has always been understood to be a symbolic action that a few of the more liberal or conservative members of the opposition party would do to show displeasure with the majority's spending priorities, not a "bargaining chip" equivalent to the mafia don coming into your deli and telling you that it's nice, and that it would be a shame if something were to happen to it. Nobody ever toyed with the idea of actually exploting the debt ceiling vote to gain political leverage until the last Congress.

It would be a travesty for the people of this country to buy into this meme that this is just how Washington works, and that we always have to be on the brink of catastrophe to get a fair deal. These crisis negotiations always end in favor of the party that's willing to risk catastrophe to score a political victory, so it's infuriating that so many people seem to think that there's a moral equivalence between the possibility of exploiting the coin seigniorage loophole to even the playing field (which Obama has already said he won't do, as it turns out) and the original hostage taking.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:40 AM on January 5, 2013 [15 favorites]


We can't actually do that with platinum it seems, we don't actually have enough, also we'd have to buy platinum off someone.

It doesn't need to represent a metallic value. Also, it can't be heisted to any benefit, since it couldn't hide in general circulation or be melted down, and would simply exist as evidence of a theft. It can't even be forged.
posted by Brian B. at 11:27 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder what I would do if I were locked in a room with a trillion dollar chocolate coin.
posted by ~ at 11:48 AM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


To continue the Spinal Tap theme they could make it from black platinum and engrave it with an image of a cucumber, or maybe two so they spell out the 11.
posted by Lanark at 11:55 AM on January 5, 2013


gives us the maximum value of a painting as $200 million (The Card Players by Paul Cézanne.

Ooh! I have one just like that, except with dogs.

It’s likely that the government would eventually fail to service all of its debt, damaging U.S. credit and touching off a major financial catastrophe.

We're already sort of there. At least with the DoD. Cutting pay and pensions before big ticket contracts aside (like most public servants, we've screwed veterans time and again, not like we won't again. Meanwhile defense contractor profits are perfectly healthy...not that Obama hasn't been doing a good job trying to amend that) - the problem with congress delaying is that uncertainty costs stupid amounts of money.

This is true in most areas of government but most particularly in defense. For example, there are penalties for canceling contracts - even when nothing has been built.
So those laws are intact while this stupid "let's see who flinches first" delay game is being played to see who can endure the most pain.

Always kicked around a theory that any given country's nuclear weapons would threatened to be used (or actually used) on their own population before accepting a loss of privilege.

Economically, this is the rough equivalent.

The delays alone have cost us $19 billion.

It's possible that because of the necessity to change the law in a reasonable manner (for which there is no political will) and the necessity to not have people dying from missing their Medicaid, starving from lack of pension payments, robbing banks because they're not getting unemployment checks, there would be some sort of radical move like the McConnell Provision except, more.
Conceivably you could have an administration argue "emergency" powers during wartime mean a legal obligation to pay for the war, blah blah blah.
We'd essentially have an Emperor with the pretense of a Republic.

The irony is this kind of struggle itself - the struggle to avoid a crash, the struggle to avoid tyrannical control of a minority using certain rules in a clever way to bend the economy their way - itself leads to despotism.

I dunno, maybe a big coin is wacky enough to work. Seriously. At the very least it illuminates the absurdity.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:01 PM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Excerpt from: "Are Financial Markets Sustainable?" by Use Haiss and Atul Shah, Department of Accounting, Finance and Management, University of Essex, January 1999.
----------------------------------

... the modern world has actually converted debt into wealth. Positive wealth, in the form of physical assets such as land, houses, cars, etc. is ultimately perishable, but negative wealth (i.e. debt) need not be so. In fact, it is much more convenient to own 'debt' than physical assets:
"... the ruling passion of individuals in a modern economy is to convert wealth into debt in order to derive a permanent future income from it -- to convert wealth that perishes into debt that endures, debt that does not rot, costs nothing to maintain and brings in perennial interest" (p. 423). They explain further: (p. 424) "Although debt can follow the law of compound interest, the real energy revenue from future sunshine, the real future income against which debt is a lien, cannot grow at compound interest for long. When converted into debt, however, wealth discards its corruptible body to take an incorruptible one. In so doing, debt appears to offer a means of dodging nature, of evading the second law of thermodynamics, the law of randomisation, rust and rot. But the idea that all people can live off the interest of their mutual indebtedness is just another perpetual motion scheme -- a vulgar delusion on a grand scale."
-----
Daly H, and J. Cobb, 1994, "For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environmentf and a Sustainable Future" -- Beacon Press, Boston.
posted by hank at 12:50 PM on January 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


It is widely believed that the right wing is considering bankrupting the government to destroy the notion of a "welfare state."

This is hardly a secret. It is the stated purpose of Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge, which has been signed by the great majority of all Republicans, and it was the impetus behind the Newt Gingrich-led federal shutdown in 1995-1996.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:12 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


They should just get one of these and add a few extra zeros with a metal punch. What could go wrong?
posted by cosmic.osmo at 3:36 PM on January 5, 2013


Are "trading computers" now "investors"?

No more or less than the broker on the floor given discretion by the investor.

This should be understood as me effectively saying "yes they are".
posted by jaduncan at 3:40 PM on January 5, 2013


I think it should be minted in puzzle pieces, a la Seven Deadly Wonders, and whoever finds all the pieces gets to rule the country world galaxy.

Also? I don't think anyone on this planet has any idea what is going on economically anymore.
posted by yoga at 3:57 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, it can't be heisted to any benefit, since it couldn't hide in general circulation or be melted down, and would simply exist as evidence of a theft. It can't even be forged.

Sell it? Whoever acquires it would keep it, so that the collector's value would increase. In 50 years it will be worth two trillion dollars.
posted by FJT at 8:43 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a Las Vegas immigration attorney so this area is outside of my expertise but as an American it affects us all. What is the perspective of leading financial experts and constitutional law experts as to whether the issuance of a 1 trillion dollar coin would indeed work? The President not just has this debt ceiling on his plate but he also has immigration reform and several other dicey issues.
posted by goodinlaw at 10:05 AM on January 6, 2013


Rebranding the "trillion-dollar coin"
The problem with having the US Mint produce a single, one-trillion-dollar platinum coin so Timothy Geithner can deposit it at the Federal Reserve is that it seems plain ridiculous. Yes, much of the commentariat believes that the debt ceiling itself is ridiculous, but two colliding ridiculousses don't make a serious. We are all accustomed to sighing in a world-weary way over what a banana republic the US has become. But, individually and in our roles as institutional investors and foreign sovereigns, we don't actually act as if the United States is a rinky-dink bad joke with nukes. As a polity, we'd probably prefer that the US-as-banana-republic meme remain more a status marker for intellectuals than a driver of financial market behavior. Probably.

The economics of "coin seigniorage" are not, in fact, rinky-dink. Having a trillion dollar coin at the Fed and a trillion dollars in reserves for the government to spend is substantively indistinguishable from having a trillion dollars in US Treasury bills at the Fed and the same level of deposits with the Federal Reserve. The benefit of the plan (depending on your politics) is that it circumvents an institutional quirk, the debt ceiling. The cost of the plan is that it would inflame US politics, and there is a slim chance that it would make Paul Krugman's "confidence fairies" suddenly become real. But note that both of these costs are matters of perception. Perception depends not only on what you do, but also on how you do it.

The Treasury won't and shouldn't mint a single, one-trillion-dollar platinum coin and deposit it with the Federal Reserve. That's fun to talk about but dumb to do. It just sounds too crazy. But the Treasury might still plan for coin seigniorage...
posted by kliuless at 12:46 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Platinum Coin Would Be Legal
posted by tonycpsu at 3:16 PM on January 7, 2013


You know how when you use the self-serve auto-checkout at a supermarket and you get five dollars worth of stuff and slide in a twenty and it fucks around for ages and then spits out your change in like twenty and fifty cent pieces? Man.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 3:30 PM on January 8, 2013


Gawker receives an explanation of likely would-be events from a former mint director and author of the platinum option.
posted by Brian B. at 8:46 PM on January 8, 2013




You just know a bunch of hack scriptwriters are working on multiple movies in which an intrepid band of scofflaws steals the coin.
posted by JHarris at 9:51 AM on January 9, 2013


There is a way around this problem that preserves the Fed's independence. That would be for the Treasury to issue the coin to the public, instead of the Fed, thereby leaving the Fed's balance sheet, and its control of monetary policy, alone. Of course, no one would want a $1 trillion coin. But Gary Gorton, an economist at Yale University, suggests there might be demand for a bunch of $50 million coins. He notes the financial system still craves safe, liquid assets. Corporations in particular are desperate for a safe place to park cash now that unlimited federal deposit insurance has expired. Including fees, many bank accounts now sport negative yields, as at times do Treasury bills. Money-market mutual funds may float their asset values. Platinum coins would represent a risk-free, liquid way to store cash with no risk of negative yields.

Of course, if the CFO lost one down a sewer grate, it would be a disaster. So instead, the Fed could simply keep the coins in a vault with their owners' names affixed. When one owner wants to settle payments with another, the Fed could simply switch labels. In the meantime, Treasury gets the equivalent of an interest-free loan from the public and a reprieve from the debt ceiling. Not quite a free lunch, but close enough.

posted by Brian B. at 8:07 PM on January 9, 2013


You just know a bunch of hack scriptwriters are working on multiple movies in which an intrepid band of scofflaws steals the coin.

One man's hacky premise is another's possible idea for Metafilter Novel Writing Month if I can't think of anything better.

Speaking of stupidity:

Fox: Trillion Dollar Coin Would Equal Weight Of 89 Blue Whales

The graphics people are totally fucking with the rest of them, right? Right? No seriously, I can't think of a mainsteam organization I have less respect for intellectually and yet still I can't believe that this is real.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:42 PM on January 10, 2013






Paul Krugman: Coins Against Crazies
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:52 AM on January 11, 2013


Platinomics
In the many years I’ve spent scrutinizing monetary policy, I had never devoted more than a thought to coins. In the scheme of all things monetary, they seemed, well, pocket change.

Needless to say, the prospect of the Treasury issuing a $1 trillion platinum coin to circumvent the debt ceiling changes that. I won’t repeat the details; you can get up to speed by reading Matthew O’Brien of The Atlantic here and my colleague here. If nothing else, unpicking the consequences is a fun exercise. I’ve concluded the economics are more complicated and more benign than appreciated, but the political consequences are graver.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:39 AM on January 12, 2013


Are oversize coins a Canadian.... thing?
Bwith, we use our giant coins to buy our giant pyrogys of course.

Who knows what Richmond BC's giant head of Lenin means, but I don't think it works with the Trillion dollar coin.

posted by chapps at 10:47 AM on January 12, 2013


Treasury: We won’t mint a platinum coin to sidestep the debt ceiling

Krugman: So What Will You Do, Mr. President?
If I’d spent the past five years living in a monastery or something, I would take the Treasury Department’s declaration that the coin option is out as a sign that there’s some other plan ready to go. Maybe 14th Amendment, maybe moral obligation coupons or some other form of scrip, something.

...

So is there a plan, or will it just be another case of tough talk followed by a tail-between-the-legs retreat?

As I said, if we didn’t have some history here I might be confident that the administration knows what it’s doing. But we do have that history, and you have to fear the worst.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:22 PM on January 12, 2013


WH shares strategy with Krugman: "The White House insists that it is absolutely, positively not going to cave or indeed even negotiate over the debt ceiling — that it rejected the coin option as a gesture of strength, as a way to put the onus for avoiding default entirely on the GOP."

We're doomed.
posted by mek at 5:53 PM on January 13, 2013




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