Money matters seem to be the call of the day this week. First, it was Goldman Sachs
in trouble, then an article (Don’t Cry for Wall Street
) by Paul Krugman calling for downsizing of the Finance sector (read my review on Wall Street
) and now, the new US$100 bill. The latest case seems to be more realistic than the others and one that hopefully will evoke less resistance and complaints from the public at large.
When it comes to money, everyone loves the feel of new notes, don’t they? I remember my excitement in getting new notes out of the ATM each time I go to withdraw cash, no matter which country I’m in. In fact, it’s even more crucial to get new notes from ATMs in China. You don’t know how old or dirty money can be until you’re in China. By that I mean (imagine!) the number of people who handles and uses money each day. The velocity is so great that money gets old and dirty very quickly.
Let me write more about my experiences with cash. I do not like handling cash. In fact, I wish there would come a day when it’s all electronic money. I’m sure the day would come, it’s just a matter of time. Having said that, cash gives a sense of value more than a check, electronic money or even credit. There is a sense of difference between $100 and $100,000. For those of us who are used to getting checks in high denomination from clients, money just don’t feel like money anymore. It is merely a figure. I don’t know if you feel so but I’m sure those who work in the banks are likely to feel so. A sense of numbness and disassociation.
Cash, in essence, is cash. You cannot ignore the difference between a $10 bill and those of $10,000 (no matter how hard you try). Speaking of which, what is the largest denomination for a US$ bill? Anyone knows? I believe it’s US$100. Don’t think I’ve ever come across anything bigger.
In China, it’s also a mere $100 (to be precise, 100 yuan) note (that’s something less than an equivalent of US$15)! Imagine if you need to pay someone RMB 10,000! That would be 100 pieces of notes! That’s only about a month rent for some of us! It’s a huge inconvenience to handle cash in China. Worse still, there is no checks in its banking system! News for most of us, don’t you think? Just across its borders is Hong Kong which has all of that and more. Hong Kong’s largest banknote is HK$1000 (about US$128). Further south in Singapore, it’s S$10,000 (about US$7300) which was issued in 1973! I guess if you’d want to rob a bank, the most convenient one would be in Singapore! ;-)
So, US has finally decided to have a new note, a new image! The 2009 redesigned series which was unveiled a few days ago (Apr. 21, 2010) shall be issued to the public on February 10, 2011. I can imagine the excitement of the public and most will probably go and grab a piece of it so that he/she could personally feel it in his/her hands! Many years ago, Singapore did the same thing by issuing its S$50 notes in polymer (plastic paper). In no time, it’s out of circulation! Everyone hoards it and kept them in their collections! Imagine that!
I wonder if the same would be had of the US$100 2009 series! I certainly hope not! Although if one thinks about it, what would that do to the circulation of money? Would the government simply print more? Food for thoughts, isn’t it?
In terms of designs and colors, some have deemed it a little too futuristic. What do you think?
Personally, anything other than just one green color is good for me. I’m all for variety. It’s extremely difficult to differentiate the US$ at night! Generally, many countries in Asia and Europe have different colors for different denomination of banknotes. I wonder why US persists in keeping them all the same color and size? Simply for the sake of a term greenback? Is greenback really that green these days?
Whatever the color or design of the greenback, although it’s still a major currency, one can’t deny that it’s fast losing its luster. As with the British Pounds, the greenback is declining in value and losing favor with investors alike. Perhaps the American government is hoping to revive its currency with a new design and color, thereby giving it a new life?
It’s certainly about time, don’t you think?
China $100 (100 yuan)
Hong Kong $100
Singapore $50 Polymer Banknote
(A Lunch Featured Review)