Monday, November 28, 2005

The Scourge Of The Supernote

A couple months ago I first heard the term "supernote" in an NPR broadcast. I don't have a link to that, but here is a recent story that sums up the issue pretty well: U.S. Allegations Of North Korean Counterfeiting Emerge. The trouble is that foreign counterfeiters are producing virtually perfect $100 bills. Does anyone else find this amusing?
I wonder what really is the problem? Those unscrupulous, wantonly capitalistic asians printing up our money, purely for their own profit, and creating monetary inflation? Surely, this will not stand!
Well actually no printing press, no matter how fast, could possibly create monetary inflation in the US dollar. Presses can only make $100 bills. The US Federal Reserve creates dollars by the tens of billions, just by pushing buttons on their secure keyboards. And they do, every week. These are T-bills of course, that require no printing. But perhaps the problem is not really the extra dollars floating through wallets worldwide, but the principal of the thing? Creating money should be carefully controlled, and only done by most intelligent and visionary experts, such as Alan Greenspan. Money should not be made just because someone wants a little extra cash, like if someone needed to pay for a war..
Or maybe there is a different reason that these supernotes are so scary: the problem is that it threatens American pride that those Koreans can make something higher quality, and at cheaper cost than our own Yankee mint. It is painful to think that America no longer has the world's finest manufacturing industry. Yeah right.
Seriously, this could be one of those growing-pains-of-globalization issues. An economist might say "Sure a few employees at the mint might be hurt, but see how much better off we'll all be with those fine Korean made dollars".
Maybe we should just say "Thanks, for printing up the bucks" and let them counterfeit. Especially while they are still doing it for free!

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