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Money money money must be funny in the rich man's world
May 13, 2010 3:16 AM   Subscribe

Who would have thought it? The UK has withdrawn the 500 Euro note after an investigation by SOCA discovered that 90% of the notes in circulation were linked to crime. Nicknames the ‘Bin Laden’ (you know its out there somewhere) the purple note worth $630 is a favourite of the criminally minded due to its ultra-portability and acceptance throughout mainland Europe. Drug investigations in Latin America time and time again turn up large amounts of currency in this form. According to Columbian financial regulators 234K Euros was legally imported and declared into the country but trails of 600M Euros being exported were discovered. Whilst money laundering and fraud relating to the Euro is nothing new the decision to put into circulation such a high note must now be being questioned at the highest levels.
posted by numberstation (95 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
The way things are going at the moment, €500 soon won't be worth enough to bother laundering. Problem solved! Thanks, Greece. I knew there was some reason for keeping you around.
posted by him at 3:27 AM on May 13, 2010


Wasn't this the same reason bills larger than $100 were removed from circulation in the US?
posted by maxwelton at 3:34 AM on May 13, 2010


the decision to put into circulation such a high note must now be being questioned at the highest levels.

Hardly. As you point out, its underground use is nothing new: it was a particular favourite in Spain's real estate boom. Still, when it was decided to put it into circulation, it replaced already existing notes of similar value like the German 1000 DM note.
posted by Skeptic at 3:41 AM on May 13, 2010


This is kind of a relief, as it takes off a considerable amount of pressure to begin my awesome and glamorous life of crime.

I actually can't believe it's taken them this long to figure this out. During the changeover from peseta to euro, this particular usage of the 500 notes was one of the main topics of euro discussion in Ibiza, not just amongst the more louche population, but among everyone whose lives have been impacted one way or another by the drug/illegal construction/non-EU member state citizenship trade (which is technically pretty much everyone on the island.)
posted by elizardbits at 3:49 AM on May 13, 2010


Smaller denominations will just push the underground trade in illegal wheelbarrows.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:55 AM on May 13, 2010 [15 favorites]


Withdrawing a banknote that's not actually legal tender in the country is a pretty neat trick.
posted by acb at 4:03 AM on May 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


Here's a collection of some of the coolest money from around the world.
posted by netbros at 4:08 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


ColOmbian!

Damn Amurricans.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:11 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, acb. Technically the UK can't withdraw it, because it never issued it (and under the new government is not likely to for many moons, either). UK has simply stopped accepting it for exchange.
posted by aqsakal at 4:12 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why haven't criminals hopped on the gold wagon? A pound of gold is currently worth about $18k, and a liter (10cm3) of gold is currently worth $766k
posted by delmoi at 4:17 AM on May 13, 2010


Somewhere near the other end of the scale must be Uzbekistan. Their highest-denomination note is one thousand Sum - that's equal to about 50 Euro cents. So when you exchange, say, $100 (only ironed-flat notes, no earmarked corners, no pencil scribbling, no creases, please) you'll be handed bricks of strapped Sum which won't fit in your wallet. Probably a pretty efficient anti-laundering move.
posted by aqsakal at 4:17 AM on May 13, 2010


So I guess they will just switch to the 10,000 Singapore dollar note (US$7,250), which is currently the world's highest value note that I know of.
posted by banishedimmortal at 4:21 AM on May 13, 2010


maxwelton: "Wasn't this the same reason bills larger than $100 were removed from circulation in the US?"

At one point the US issued $100,000 bills with Woodrow Wilson on the face.
posted by octothorpe at 4:22 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


$630?? Are you sure? My currency converter says it's worth $703.
posted by wilful at 4:22 AM on May 13, 2010


Withdrawing a banknote that's not actually legal tender in the country is a pretty neat trick.

Actually it's that currency exchangers are no longer offering the 500 euro note in exchange for, say, pounds.

What is the legitimate use for a bill that large anyway? I can't really think of one that doesn't involve laundering money. That's why the US no longer has denominations larger than $100, which it once had up until around the 1930s, isn't it?
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:24 AM on May 13, 2010


And many retail places in the US will not even accept denominations larger than $20, making $100 bills impractical. In fact, if I see someone carrying $100 bills, I generally assume they're an asshole that expects me to be impressed with how much money they have, because they're really impractical to use.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:26 AM on May 13, 2010


delmoi: "Why haven't criminals hopped on the gold wagon? A pound of gold is currently worth about $18k, and a liter (10cm3) of gold is currently worth $766k"

It's difficult to spend anonymously & there probably isn't enough gold out there anyway to sustain the market.
posted by pharm at 4:29 AM on May 13, 2010


Just trying to break a fifty quid note is bad enough... and don't get me started on trying to use Scottish money back down in England.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:33 AM on May 13, 2010


Damn. Now I'm going to need a bigger washing machine.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:35 AM on May 13, 2010


don't get me started on trying to use Scottish money back down in England

I'd like to hear about it, since I have no idea how that works - I just figured that the bills were only superficially different and you could use either in either place, since they're both worth the same thing. Why would an English business not want to accept Scottish money? When they take it to the bank, it'd be no different, right? Or is it a pain in the ass for them for some reason?
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:51 AM on May 13, 2010


After all, the Stonecutters just control them both, right?
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:58 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is the legitimate use for a bill that large anyway? I can't really think of one that doesn't involve laundering money.

Buying and selling a high value item between particulars. A second-hand car, for instance. Much of Continental Europe hardly uses any cheques, and the risk of them bouncing in such circumstances would be too high, anyway.

But yes, there's a goodly proportion of those Bin Ladens that is used in various under-the-counter transactions. The most common, in most countries, is in real estate, to top up a transaction without declaring the full value to the authorities. Or to pay builders for undeclared work. (So I've heard, anyway...)

I can however imagine that in Britain, since the €500 note isn't legal tender anyway, it isn't used for such "venial" sins of tax evasion, but almost uniquely by hardcore criminals.
posted by Skeptic at 5:00 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've seen a Canadian thousand only once in my life. It was in a bar and was shown to me by a fellow who was rumored to have connections to a certain Sicilian criminal organization.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:01 AM on May 13, 2010


delmoi: "Why haven't criminals hopped on the gold wagon? A pound of gold is currently worth about $18k, and a liter (10cm3) of gold is currently worth $766k"

Errr... 1 liter is 1000cm³. It's 10cm x 10cm x 10cm.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 5:04 AM on May 13, 2010


DecemberBoy English and Scottish banknotes are more than superficially different, and to make things more complicated, there's more than one sort of Scottish banknote, since, in a throwback to the days of early capitalism, several Scottish banks have the right to issue them, and each one uses a different design.
Therefore, although they are perfectly legal tender throughout the UK, the first impulse of most English people when confronted to such "funny money" is to reject it. That makes it difficult even for informed shopkeepers to accept them, because it will be difficult to them to pass them on.
posted by Skeptic at 5:10 AM on May 13, 2010


South Korea just got the 50,000 won note going (about 40 USD). The highest until then was 10,000 won, about eight USD.

For an advanced economy, it's a trip to see blocks of cash exchanged for higher end cameras and computers.

Although ATM's here will also dispense certified bank notes in the amount of your choosing, which is convenient.
posted by bardic at 5:20 AM on May 13, 2010


Now that they've withdrawn it, we can all expect a complete stop to crime.
posted by Xere at 5:20 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


And many retail places in the US will not even accept denominations larger than $20, making $100 bills impractical. In fact, if I see someone carrying $100 bills, I generally assume they're an asshole that expects me to be impressed with how much money they have, because they're really impractical to use.

They're very practical if you're a gambler.
posted by 256 at 5:23 AM on May 13, 2010


What is the legitimate use for a bill that large anyway? I can't really think of one that doesn't involve laundering money.

Same use as any other currency note. Some people prefer using cash.

And many retail places in the US will not even accept denominations larger than $20, making $100 bills impractical. In fact, if I see someone carrying $100 bills, I generally assume they're an asshole that expects me to be impressed with how much money they have, because they're really impractical to use.

I've never encountered a problem with retailers unwilling to accept a $100 bill. Maybe there's been a handful of times where someone couldn't make change, but none that really stick out in my memory.
posted by BigSky at 5:23 AM on May 13, 2010


As long as we are blaming things on the Greeks, we could adopt the Spartan solution -- make money so heavy and unwieldy that even carrying small amounts was a big paint (they used iron bars, if I recall). So make the largest notes 10 Euros, and make them weigh, say 2 pounds each! That'll stop the money laundering!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:25 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why haven't criminals hopped on the gold wagon?
  1. Heavy
  2. Difficult to counterfeit
  3. Requires an assayer every time money changes hands
  4. Hard to make change
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:31 AM on May 13, 2010


Therefore, although they [Scottish notes] are perfectly legal tender throughout the UK, the first impulse of most English people when confronted to such "funny money" is to reject it.

Actually, shopkeepers in England are (perhaps bizarrely) completely within their rights not to accept Scottish notes - they're perfectly valid, but aren't legal tender (the difference being, broadly speaking, that you can accept a note that is valid, but you must accept one that is legal tender). All banks and many big shops will be fine with them, but if a shop is small enough that it would have difficulty splitting a £50 note - and incidentally, I personally see these notes very rarely, and have owned one maybe twice ever - then it's also likely to refuse Scottish money, just because of the extra hassle.
posted by ZsigE at 5:36 AM on May 13, 2010


NO AUTHOR FOUND NO BACKLINK FOUND "Why haven't criminals hopped on the gold wagon? A pound of gold is currently worth about $18k, and a liter (10cm3) of gold is currently worth $766k"

Because 18K in gold weighs a pound and 18K in Euros masses a few grams.

"What is the legitimate use for a bill that large anyway? I can't really think of one that doesn't involve laundering money. That's why the US no longer has denominations larger than $100, which it once had up until around the 1930s, isn't it?"

High value cash transactions. Ten thousand dollars in 20s is a ridiculously large stack of paper and hard to count too.
posted by Mitheral at 5:37 AM on May 13, 2010


So I take it SOCA hasn't heard about the CHF1000 bill?
posted by dearsina at 5:41 AM on May 13, 2010


The anecdotes I've heard about someone actually using US $1000 bills have all involved car purchases, usually by someone's relative back in the 1950s.
posted by gimonca at 5:48 AM on May 13, 2010


Why haven't criminals hopped on the gold wagon?

Because bills are actually worth more. A lot more, especially by weight.

1 L of gold being 19.3 kg, worth, 766k.

1 L of $100 bills is about $890k and weights a bit less than 1kg

1L of €500 bills (~760) is about $4,955k (even at 1.3€/$) and weighs about the same as the US bills.

US dollars are about the same as gold volume-wise, but much easier to carry.
Euro notes are vastly superior to gold on both counts.

As a mule for a drug cartel, I know what I'd prefer to carry.

Of course, if they wanted high value, they'd just carry colour printer ink.
posted by bonehead at 5:54 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


And many retail places in the US will not even accept denominations larger than $20, making $100 bills impractical.

I wish one of those places was the cafeteria at work, where the guy in front of me paid for a coffee with a $100 bill.

In fact, if I see someone carrying $100 bills, I generally assume they're an asshole that expects me to be impressed with how much money they have, because they're really impractical to use.

That's what I assumed!
posted by kirkaracha at 5:55 AM on May 13, 2010


I've never encountered a problem with retailers unwilling to accept a $100 bill. Maybe there's been a handful of times where someone couldn't make change, but none that really stick out in my memory.

Small businesses on Sundays often have problems breaking large bills, because they may not keep a ton of change on hand and had no chance to go to the bank.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:56 AM on May 13, 2010


I'm....sorry, I really don't get it. This seems like flawed reasoning to me. Are they suggesting that this will deter money laundering somehow?

I get it that it's probably silly to issue 500 euro notes, because they're not very useful. But why would decommissioning the 500 euro note have any impact on crime?

"I'm sorry boss, we wanted to sell all that cocaine, but those 100 euro notes were just too heavy. I've got a bad back, you know!"

or

"Well, I wish I could use illegal immigrants for dirt-cheap labor, but it just seems like such a hassle to use those annoying 200 euro notes to pay them under the table. I guess I'll just pay triple for legal labor."
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:00 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've never encountered a problem with retailers unwilling to accept a $100 bill.

Most gas stations, fast food joints, etc. and anywhere else where transactions are small and robbery more likely will, in my experience anyway, have a sign posted that they explicitly won't accept denominations over $20. Other places will take them, but the clerk has to ask someone if they can break it, or they can't make change, or whatever else, and it takes longer. I don't really use them myself, so mostly this is observed from being held up in a line by some jerk buying a pack of cigarettes with a $100 or what have you. Plus, the vast majority of things you buy cost far less than $100 anyway, unless you're a coke fiend or something.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:01 AM on May 13, 2010


Trying to get rid of a Northern Irish fiver in England is even harder than trying to pass Scottish notes, given that some of them are made of plastic. I've given up even trying to use them in England. If I go home for a visit and still have NI bills when I come back to England now I just put them straight into the bank to save the arguments. Sadly, after years of screaming at shop assistants and barmen about "legal tender", I was told that in fact it's entirely up to the shop/bar whether they want to accept your money, whether it's legal tender or not.

Which of course reminds me of a joke:

Irish guy goes into the bar and yells "Quick! Give me a large whiskey!" The barman does so and the Irishman downs it. "Another one! Quick!" A second whiskey is delivered. And a third until the Irishman sighs and shakes his head. "You shouldn't have given me that with what I've got."

"Why," says the barman, "What have you got?"

"50p"

Which reminds me of another joke (it's better, I promise... OK, sort of):

An Irishman goes into a bar and orders three pints of Guinness. He takes them to a corner table and takes a sip from the first, then from the second, then from the third, on and on until they're all finished. He goes back to the bar and asks for three more. The barman say "I'll pour them for you one at a time if you like, save them getting warm..." The Irishman smiles. "It's an old tradition I have with my brothers," he says. "Whenever one of us in a pub without the other two, we always order three pints so we can feel as if we're together." The barman smiles and pulls him three more pints.

This behaviour goes on for weeks and the Irishman becomes a local. Everyone knows the story of his brothers and the pints. Then one day he comes in and orders TWO pints. The barman says nothing but finally can't resist it any more and goes over the Irishman's table. "Is everything OK? Has something happened to one of your brothers?"

"They're both fine. It's me. I've given up drinking."
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 6:02 AM on May 13, 2010 [13 favorites]


Re Scottish the money the excuse I've often heard when I've come back from visiting there and tried to use them locally is that because the designs are so different and because the shopkeepers, till staff, bar staff etc are so unused to seeing them it would be much easier to pass on forged ones - hence the getting treated like some criminal ('I'll just check it with the supervisor') and why I'd now just go to the bank and change them.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:04 AM on May 13, 2010


What is the legitimate use for a bill that large anyway? I can't really think of one that doesn't involve laundering money.

Yeah, you have nothing to hide if you are not breaking any laws, citizen.

Some people (like me) just prefer the old school "my business is my business" approach to economics.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:04 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


What is the legitimate use for a bill that large anyway?

Gambling is another place you want bigger than $100 / 100 Euro bills.
posted by smackfu at 6:22 AM on May 13, 2010


I've never encountered a problem with retailers unwilling to accept a $100 bill.

I can't say as I've every actually tried to use a $100 bill but I've seen "Cashier will not accept bills larger than $20" signs in many convenience stores and gas stations.

Actually, I probably only use cash about two or three times a month these days. I usually carry $30 or so on me just in case but seldom need to use it.
posted by octothorpe at 6:32 AM on May 13, 2010


I'm not so sure a $100 bill is all that difficult to break. A lot of people paying in cash use ATMs and since ATMs mostly give $20s, it shouldn't be a bigger deal than breaking a $10 or similar. It's not as if you have to keep a hundred ones on hand.
posted by electroboy at 6:33 AM on May 13, 2010


I've seen a Canadian thousand only once in my life. It was in a bar and was shown to me by a fellow who was rumored to have connections to a certain Sicilian criminal organization.

The only time I have seen them in person myself was back in the hotel where I used to work when someone checked in for an extended period. The bill was $8700 or something so he peeled off nine thousands. I looked at them dubiously and asked if he would prefer to pay by credit card.

At the other end of the scale, a friend of mine was living in Zimbabwe at the end of their economic freefall and has an amazing trove of anecdotes about going out to dinner and having to leave a pyramid of cash on the table to pay, or going for groceries and fitting a trillion dollars worth of food into the trunk of the car.

I myself once ran low of money at the end of a stay in Indonesia and had to change a hundred-dollar traveller's cheque into Indonesian rupiah, which are worth hilariously little. I got handed a brick of rupiah and could not spend them fast enough in my remaining 36 hours or whatever to be rid of them, and no exchange office would take them, so I went home with most of them still in my bag.

On my return home, I brought a oresent for a friend, which (with the assistance of some Scotch tape) I wrapped in cash. She goggled at it and asked how much cash I had used for it; I eyeballed it and said, "about three dollars."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:39 AM on May 13, 2010


Kind of the opposite of bardic's situation in Korea with the won, the yen comes (in bill form) in 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 notes, or roughly $9, $45, and $90 (give or take the economy) notes, and wonderfully useful 100 yen (~$1) and 500 (~$5) coins instead of bills. It's entirely a cash society, so there's absolutely no problem buying a pack of gum with, essentially, a $100 bill. This causes some difficulty when I go back to the States. I forgot to change money, and tried to do it at my bank, and was charged a "large bill" handling fee. Stunned, I tried to explain that 10,000 yen isn't really a large bill, but they weren't amused.

As for the stack of bills, yeah, the down payment on our house was cash, too. It was a depressingly thick stack of those bills... torn from their rightful home in my once happy bank account.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:40 AM on May 13, 2010


or, on preview, as richochet biscuit mentions, Rupiah are fun. Change a little over $100 and bam, you're a millionaire. You can spread all ten 100,000 Rupiah notes on your hotel bed and roll around like you're Demi Moore, and just maybe Robert Redford will stop by later. That, or say that you have One MEEEEEElyun Rupiah and laugh your Dr. Evil laugh. Either option is a good time.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:43 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of happy days in Lao where 1 USD equates to 8,500 KIP. Buying anything in local currency involved serious wads of paper.
posted by numberstation at 6:55 AM on May 13, 2010


or, on preview, as richochet biscuit mentions, Rupiah are fun. Change a little over $100 and bam, you're a millionaire. You can spread all ten 100,000 Rupiah notes on your hotel bed and roll around like you're Demi Moore, and just maybe Robert Redford will stop by later. That, or say that you have One MEEEEEElyun Rupiah and laugh your Dr. Evil laugh. Either option is a good time.

It's kind of a shame that Turkey knocked six 0s off of their currency a couple years ago, because when the lowest bill denomination is 500,000 lira (which was about 50 cents), it's really easy to be a millionaire.
posted by Copronymus at 7:07 AM on May 13, 2010


I really wish they'd bring back the $500 and $1000 bills here in the states. I have a great childhood memory of seeing a guy in a pool hall make a bet by throwing 5 $1000 bills on the table.
I was 11 or 12, so around 1979 - when that was still enough to buy a decent car.

(And, no, I hadn't started gambling at that age - the pool hall was where the arcade games were.)
posted by bashos_frog at 7:12 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Relatedly: Abu Dhabi hotel installs gold vending machine
posted by chavenet at 7:18 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


wilful: "$630?? Are you sure? My currency converter says it's worth $703."

Current rate is €1 = $1.2561. Hasn't been above 1.4 (which would lead to your $703) since late January. You need a new converter.
posted by Perplexity at 7:20 AM on May 13, 2010


In fact, if I see someone carrying $100 bills, I generally assume they're an asshole that expects me to be impressed with how much money they have, because they're really impractical to use.


Some of us who work in cash businesses sometimes get 100s and yes it is annoying.
posted by The Whelk at 7:34 AM on May 13, 2010


Cash machines hereabouts have begun issuing $50, which is a nuisance because I have to go from the ATM to the bank to convert them into tens and twenties, or else hang on to it until I visit a megagrocery, because few other places here accept them.

To be fair to the small businesses, even if they weren't worried about being stuck with counterfeit bills, they're still going to decline fifties because it wouldn't take many customers buying $2 items with fifties to clear out their reserve of small bills and change.
posted by ardgedee at 7:47 AM on May 13, 2010


Guatemala has really neat polymer (plastic) 1 quetzal bills. Worth about 12 cents US.
posted by smackfu at 8:01 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


if I see someone carrying $100 bills, I generally assume they're an asshole

I've met a fair number of people who carry large bills not because they're assholes, but because (I suspect) they don't have bank accounts: they cash their paychecks at check-cashing services, and get large bills in return.

The all-cash system in Japan can be pretty startling. I recall vividly standing in line at an ATM on a Friday afternoon behind a woman who was withdrawing the entire weekly payroll for her office. I held four jobs during my time in Japan, two of which were paid in cash (totally aboveboard, I might add). There's even a special class of mail called 書留現金 kakidome genkin, "cash sent by registered letter." Personal checks are practically unheard of there. Credit cards are pretty common, but not as much so as in the USA, I think.
posted by adamrice at 8:02 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


In fact, if I see someone carrying $100 bills, I generally assume they're an asshole that expects me to be impressed with how much money they have, because they're really impractical to use.

I just assume they're coming from Vegas / Atlantic City, where the ATMs dump out $100 bills.

posted by inigo2 at 8:05 AM on May 13, 2010


PontifexPrimus: "24delmoi: "Why haven't criminals hopped on the gold wagon? A pound of gold is currently worth about $18k, and a liter (10cm3) of gold is currently worth $766k"

Errr... 1 liter is 1000cm³. It's 10cm x 10cm x 10cm.
"

10 x 10 x 10 = 1000 = 103

Therefore, a litre is a cubic decimetre, or 10cm3.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:05 AM on May 13, 2010


To be fair to the small businesses, even if they weren't worried about being stuck with counterfeit bills, they're still going to decline fifties because it wouldn't take many customers buying $2 items with fifties to clear out their reserve of small bills and change.

You're confused. The small bills and change are the same as if you'd paid with a 20. In fact, if we're talking about a coffee or whatever you save a 10 because you just have to give back two 20s.
posted by otio at 8:13 AM on May 13, 2010


a litre is a cubic decimetre, or 10cm3.

No. A litre is 10 cm cubed, not 10 cubic centimetres, which is how one would interpret your last statement.

(10 cm)3 = 10x10x10 = 1000 cm3, one thousand cubic centimetres.

10 cm3 is ten cubic centimetres.
posted by bonehead at 8:27 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh it's on now...

*watching*
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 8:31 AM on May 13, 2010


I get it that it's probably silly to issue 500 euro notes, because they're not very useful. But why would decommissioning the 500 euro note have any impact on crime?

I think the logic is that it makes it more difficult. If we're moving a million euros worth of coke, my payment to the dealer is going to take up at least 5x the space this time around. Things get more unwieldy, maybe to the point of getting me to use electronic transfers of some sort, which are usually easier to trace if you put in the legwork. Additionally, if I'm using more bills, it's more likely that some of them can be marked and tracked.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:32 AM on May 13, 2010


Jay-Z must be pissed.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:32 AM on May 13, 2010


What I like about the €500 note is how physically big it must be. Unlike American money, Euro notes grow in size as they grow in denomination. The €10 is a bit bigger then the €5, and the €20 is bigger then the both.

I closed out a bank account in Ireland a couple years ago, and the teller gave me a couple €100 notes. I remember being amazed at how big they were. I think I had to fold them twice, just to fit them in my puny American wallet. I can't imagine how big the €200 note is, let alone the €500. In an emergency, you can probably use it as a parachute.
posted by Hoenikker at 8:33 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I paid the closing costs on my house in France with €500 notes. Walking around with a pile of these makes you feel like a target. The only comment I got was the notaire's asking me "Are you in the habit of carrying so much cash around?" I said "equally with my habit of attending house closings". They are fair-sized notes, quite a bit larger than American ones, but not ridiculous. There was never a problem using them and it was a hell of a lot more convenient than carrying the equivalent in smaller bills.
posted by jet_silver at 8:51 AM on May 13, 2010


(103 cm3)3
posted by blue_beetle at 9:03 AM on May 13, 2010


I prefer all my centimeters to be cm4 anyway.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:04 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


if I see someone carrying $100 bills, I generally assume they're an asshole

I generally assume their roommates paid them rent in cash, or their grandparents gave them a hundred in a birthday card, or their boss gave them an under the table bonus from work, or any one of a zillion other things that might explain why they would have a hundred dollar bill. I figure they're pulling it out to pay for stuff in order to hopefully get some reasonable sort of change in return-not to impress me, because who the heck is impressed by hundred dollar bills in a world of credit cards with thousand dollar (or more) limits?

TL;DR: I wait for people to behave like assholes before I assume it of them.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:08 AM on May 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


There's no need to be hyper about this.
posted by bonehead at 9:09 AM on May 13, 2010


There's no need to be hyper about this.

Some people just have a hyperinflated sense of themselves, I guess.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 9:18 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


something something .002 cents
posted by Kwine at 9:24 AM on May 13, 2010


I like human centimeters cubed and sauteed.
posted by Babblesort at 9:34 AM on May 13, 2010


bonehead: "10 cm^3 is ten cubic centimetres."

Ack, you're right, sorry.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:46 AM on May 13, 2010


My experience with US$100 notes is that they're generally used by old people. When I was in high school I worked in a neighborhood grocery store, and there were a number of older folks that went to the bank each week and withdrew cash, and then came over to the grocery store to buy their week's worth of food, breaking a $100 in the process. (In some cases I think the $100 was their budget for the week.) We used to keep a lot of $20s around as a result.

If for a second you take ATMs out of the equation -- either because you don't trust them or just don't know how to use them or whatever -- and you don't want to use a credit/debit card, having $20 as the largest denomination is a real drag.

I wouldn't necessarily expect to be able to break a C-note at a small gas station or convenience store, but I wouldn't think twice -- if I had one -- about using one at any traditional retail store. The only time I've actually had 100s was as a result of closing out a bank account while changing banks. The bank I was leaving was going to charge me a fee to cut a counter check, so out of annoyance I took the remaining balance in cash and used it for expenses until it was gone. I think I broke one at Home Depot and another at Borders and neither time was it any big deal at all. It would be obnoxious if someone used one to buy a candy bar or to pay off their library fine (unless they're really bad at getting their books back on time) or something else small, but if the purchase amount is more than $50 and it's a place that does a lot of cash business, I don't see the objection.

I guess the EUR500 note is a bit big even for pensioners, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:06 AM on May 13, 2010


I was always under the impression that Scottish banknotes aren't technically legal tender even in Scotland because they are Promisary Notes.

I've got a Clydesdale Bank £20 in front of me (oooh I'm flush!) and it says:

Clydesdale Bank PLC promise to pay the bearer on demand Twenty Pounds Sterling at their office here.
By order of the Board of Directors


Which basically means that we will give you money for this, but this isn't money.

Some info here...
posted by littleredspiders at 10:38 AM on May 13, 2010


I've seen a Canadian thousand only once in my life.

In '88 I changed banks as I was going to university and the on-campus bank wasn't my then-current bank. I have just over $3,000 saved from hauling newspapers daily for 5 or 6 years. The two bank branches were maybe 100m apart but an inter-bank transfer back then would have cost like $50 and even getting a cashier's cheque cost money so I said just give me the money in cash.

They handed me 3 $1,000 CDN bills and a couple of hundreds and the change. WTF? Why the hell did my podunk small town brank branch have this many $1,000 notes just sitting around?

Anyway, I stuck them in my wallet, walked 100m across the parking lot and deposited them in my new bank account. And for a brief moment I had 3 $1,000 bills burning a hole in my pocket. They were surprisingly well-worn in.
posted by GuyZero at 11:02 AM on May 13, 2010


i wonder if this is just the american oil companies criminals trying to keep crime tied to the dollar and not the euro.

but practically, assuming the same monetary amount of currency in circulation, isn't there a cost factor in producing and maintaining more items of currency for the same amount? its not like crime is going to go cut-rate because of this.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:10 AM on May 13, 2010


I was always under the impression that Scottish banknotes aren't technically legal tender even in Scotland because they are Promisary Notes.

No banknotes (English, Scottish, or otherwise) are legal tender in Scotland. Only coins. Of course, "legal tender" doesn't mean what a lot of people think it does. It has to deal with the satisfaction of incurred debts, not a requirement for a shop to take a particular kind of currency in exchange for goods. And the shops are free to take whatever they want, even if it is not legal tender.
posted by grouse at 11:27 AM on May 13, 2010


A loud, brash, tourist walks into a bar in Dublin.

"I hear the Irish are pretty good drinkers" he says.

"That'd be about right" says the barman.

"I'll give $100 dollars and pay for the drinks of any guy who can drink ten pints of Guinness in five minutes!" declares the tourist. "But if you lose, you have to pay for all the pints!"

A few murmurs go round the bar. One chap gets up to leave. No one takes the tourist up on his offer.

A while later, that same chap returns, and taps the tourist on the shoulder.

"'scuse me" he asks, "is that offer of yours still open?"

Hearing a reply in the affirmative, he proceeds to quickly neck all ten pints of Guinness the tourist had lined up on the bar, to growing cheers and adulation from the crowd.

Handing over the $100, the tourist asks the man why he left once the offer had originally been made.

"Well, I had to make sure I could do it first."
posted by djgh at 12:17 PM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, Michael McIntyre on Scottish money (from about 1:03 in).

I wish I knew how to link to a specific point in a YouTube video...
posted by djgh at 12:21 PM on May 13, 2010


Link to a specific point in a youtube video
posted by elizardbits at 12:33 PM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interesting how the US take on this is not to expect to break a large-denomination note at a gas station. Here in Europe (or in Italy, at least), if I'm stuck with a large denomination note like a €100 and need to give my son €10, I'll change it at the gas station, where there's always a very high cash flow and they're happy to have less paper. Probably due to the relatively low level of use of plastic here. But then, of course, we're always hearing on the news about gas station hold-ups...
posted by aqsakal at 1:00 PM on May 13, 2010


Errr... 1 liter is 1000cm³. It's 10cm x 10cm x 10cm.

10cm x 10cm x 10cm. = 10cm3

And (10cm)3 = 1000(cm3). Depends on parenthesization, and anyway what I meant was clear from context (Which is why I said "one liter")
posted by delmoi at 1:24 PM on May 13, 2010


Initially I was astonished at the disdain you all have for cold hard cash. Then I remembered you are all Mac fans, so money just can't be that important to you...
posted by Chuckles at 1:29 PM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Once I was in East Hampton New York during the summer and withdrew $100 from the ATM and out popped a single $100 bill. Breaking that at 10pm at night when all I wanted was a slice of pizza was a pain. Had a similar experience (I think it was a 500 Euro but might have been 200 Euro) in Copenhagen withdrawing a bunch of cash at night at the ATM.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:36 PM on May 13, 2010


bottlebrushtree, considering that Denmark hasn't joined the euro yet, I can understand the difficulties of getting a 200 or 500 euro bill accepted in Copenhagen at night. Must have been bloody difficult finding an ATM that gave out euros, rather than Danish kronas, though...
posted by Skeptic at 1:49 PM on May 13, 2010


I forgot to change money, and tried to do it at my bank, and was charged a "large bill" handling fee

Coversely, while living in Japan I received a personal cheque from people back home for my birthday--the teller at my bank looked at me like I was crazy. I think about half of it wound up going to various processing fees.

But it was not at all unusual in Japan for people to walk around with a fat stack including those 10,000 yen notes. In fact a lot of people carry what I'd assume must be a couple thousand dollars or more regularly, rolled up in a big wad in their pockets like it ain't no thang. I don't even think it's meant to show off.
posted by Kirk Grim at 1:59 PM on May 13, 2010


Kirk, you're right. The cash thing in Japan has nothing to do with showing off. It's just that there aren't a lot of alternatives other than credit cards. The thing is, a lot of older people don't use them, and there are a hell of a lot of old people here.

The mental disconnect I have, by the way, between 10,000 yen, and $100 is pretty staggering. If I spend 10,000 yen, well, I've spent 10,000 yen. Being asked to pony up $100 is a shock to the system, and I regret spending it.

And as for using hundreds in the States, hell, I feel like an asshole for using them. Of course, having someone stare at you suspiciously while they reach for the special anti-forgery pen, then hold the bill up to the light (thus alerting everyone behind you in line that, hey, this asshole carries hundreds) is no picnic either. The thing is, I live in Japan. It's where I make and spend most of my money, so I don't keep much back home. I'm past the point where I used to send money home every month to pay off student loans, and I haven't written a check in probably 5 years (in other words, I've kind of forgotten how). It's a hell of a lot easier to use get my money exchanged and just use the cash, rather than take it to the bank, deposit it, and write a bunch of checks. And just for fun, if I don't have to declare the cash I bring in, I don't really have to worry about taxes.

On the other hand, the (very) small inheritance I recieved last year is still in the States as I try to figure out how to get it to Japan without it getting taxed twice, once in America, and once when it arrives here. If only I was a part of some criminal underground...
posted by Ghidorah at 2:36 PM on May 13, 2010


I've paid for items with thousand dollar bills a few times, though each time I specifically requested the bills at the bank and now they won't even give them to you. $500 bills were commonly given (or at least offered) anytime you requested more than a few thousand from the bank and were routine in B2B transactions in one industry I was involved in. One of my big regrets is not getting a picture of the 10s of 1000s of dollars in cash laid out on the table of the house I was buying.
posted by Mitheral at 3:14 PM on May 13, 2010


I wish I knew how to link to a specific point in a YouTube video...

Add #t=XmYs to the end, like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kO9ZNQRm-s#t=1m03s
posted by wildcrdj at 5:37 PM on May 13, 2010


The (American) removal of bills larger that $100 isn't so much to stop crime, it's just to make it a little harder to hide. And to make it less convenient to conduct large transactions in cash, and more convenient to just get a check and coincidentally have the transaction be on the books for income tax purposes.

(And the $100,000 note was never actually issued, it was just used for interbank transfers before electronic accounts.)
posted by gjc at 7:14 PM on May 13, 2010


The (American) removal of bills larger that $100 isn't so much to stop crime, it's just to make it a little harder to hide.

And to entrench banks and credit card companies just that little bit more in every financial transaction that is ever made.
posted by Chuckles at 9:51 PM on May 13, 2010


Perplexity, this converter here is giving me $701.

Oh, you mean US dollars? Well why did you and the original poster assume that?
posted by wilful at 11:34 PM on May 13, 2010


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