The Atlanta Fed's macroblog provides commentary and analysis on economic topics including monetary policy, macroeconomic developments, inflation, labor economics, and financial issues.
- BLS Handbook of Methods
- Bureau of Economic Analysis
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Congressional Budget Office
- Economic Data - FRED® II, St. Louis Fed
- Office of Management and Budget
- Statistics: Releases and Historical Data, Board of Governors
- U.S. Census Bureau Economic Programs
- White House Economic Statistics Briefing Room
November 02, 2006
What Is A (Hundred) Dollar Bill Worth?
In my experience, one of the hardest economic ideas for people to wrap their minds around is the notion that money in the modern world is intrinsically useless -- it has value only insofar as another will accept it in exchange for something that you really want. A case in point, from today's Wall Street Journal (page A1 of the print edition):
Americans are accustomed to the idea that the dollar -- the world's No. 1 reserve currency -- is good anywhere. After all, it's a point of principle that the U.S. never invalidates its notes. The government may add watermarks, insert security threads or enlarge Ben Franklin's face on the $100 dollar bill, but old bills are still legal tender.
Overseas, however, that guarantee carries less weight. In many countries, from Russia to Singapore, the dollar's value depends not just on global economic forces that move international currency markets, but also on the age, condition and denomination of the bills themselves. Some money changers and banks worry that big U.S. notes are counterfeit. Some can't be bothered to deal with small bills. Some don't want to take the risk that they won't be able to pass old or damaged bills onto the next person. And some just don't like the looks of them.
The imam who runs an unmarked money exchange out of his religious-supplies store in Foumban, Cameroon, won't accept anything but $100 bills. Tens and twenties "are too small -- they're not worth my time," he says. The Moscow souvenir store called "Souvenir" won't accept 1996 series Rubin $20 bills as payment for vodka or nesting dolls. The Rubins are too old, the clerk says. The Stella Matutina Lodge in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, accepts 2001 series C-notes -- the ones with Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill's signature -- but says they're only worth $90. The hotel accepts the 2003 Snow bills at face value.
"Money is valuable only if people accept it," says Stanford University economist John Taylor, who helped Iraq figure out how to replace the dinar notes that bore Saddam Hussein's portrait with more politically neutral currency. Federal Reserve notes are, in effect, little more than scraps of paper if businesses refuse to take them.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to blogs that reference What Is A (Hundred) Dollar Bill Worth?:
- Pay As You Go: Yes or No?
- Was May's Drop in Labor Force Participation All Bad News?
- Wage Growth for Job Stayers and Switchers Added to the Atlanta Fed's Wage Growth Tracker
- Experts Debate Policy Options for China's Transition
- It’s Not Just Millennials Who Aren't Buying Homes
- After the Conference, Another Look at Liquidity
- Moving On Up
- Putting the Wage Growth Tracker to Work
- Can Two Wrongs Make a Right?
- Are People in Middle-Wage Jobs Getting Bigger Raises?
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- Business Cycles
- Business Inflation Expectations
- Capital and Investment
- Capital Markets
- Data Releases
- Economic conditions
- Economic Growth and Development
- Exchange Rates and the Dollar
- Fed Funds Futures
- Federal Debt and Deficits
- Federal Reserve and Monetary Policy
- Financial System
- Fiscal Policy
- Health Care
- Inflation Expectations
- Interest Rates
- Labor Markets
- Latin America/South America
- Monetary Policy
- Money Markets
- Real Estate
- Saving, Capital, and Investment
- Small Business
- Social Security
- This, That, and the Other
- Trade Deficit
- Wage Growth