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WILL JUMBO EURO NOTES THREATEN THE GREENBACK?
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8, 1998
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy,
Committee on Banking and Financial Services,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:30 a.m., in room 2128, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Michael N. Castle, [chairman of the subcommittee], presiding.
Present: Chairman Castle; Representative Lucas.
Chairman CASTLE. The hearing will come to order. Let me just announce in advance, the schedule is such that I expect attendance will be very de minimis today, to say the least. We have a vote at 10:00, starting at 10:00, will probably end at 10:15. And we have a picture to be taken of the entire House of Representatives. It might take 48 hours to get done, in my judgment. I am not sure when we will come back.
I want to do as much of this hearing as I can get to, maybe complete it between now and when I have to leave for the vote, between 10:00 and 10:10. Maybe we can rush through this.
There are certain key things that I would like to learn. The European Monetary Union shortly will usher a new currency into existence that will be the new medium of exchange within the world's largest group of affluent consumers. It will be the currency of the world's leading export bloc. It will circulate in a region that produces twice as many cars as the United States but has slightly less public sector debt. It aspires to replace the U.S. dollar as the currency in which petroleum is priced and ultimately it aspires to challenge the dollar as the preferred world reserve currency. While the plans are well advanced, success is not completely foreordained, nor will it be achieved without difficulty. Before euro land is finally integrated, thousands of years of national history, crossborder blood feuds and regional warfare must be resolved and put aside.
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This morning we will examine a single element of the euro strategy, the intention to issue a high value note equal to more than $500, and the implications this might have for the circulation of dollars outside the United States and more broadly American currency management in the face of this challenge.
Regarding the United States $500 and $1,000 bills already in existence, current estimates of outstanding $500 bills in circulation are about 286,000 notes, or $143,889,500 worth. For $1,000 bills, there are 167,101 notes, or obviously $167,101,000. It is well known that these high value notes were mostly issued to Brett Maverick in the 1880's for his high stakes poker games. They also had a function in exchanges between banks and in large cash transactions through the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's. Since the 1960's, Federal Reserve Banks routinely remove these notes from circulation and destroy them so they have acquired a scarcity value as a collectible that adds a premium to their face value.
The bulk of the United States currency that is held outside the United States is composed of $100 notes. There are about $298 billion worth of them outstanding and in circulation as of June 30, 1998; and about two-thirds of these are held abroad. Those are statistics, by the way, which are not largely known by the public, either the $298 billion or the fact that two-thirds are held abroad. The grand total of U.S. currency held abroad appears to be $250 billion. I will look to our witnesses to refine these estimates, but this should equate to a rough interest savings to the Treasury of almost $10 billion per year. At least this figure and in addition some percentage of the $28 billion or so annual earnings booked by the Treasury from currency and coinage may be placed in jeopardy by the European action.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Notwithstanding the import of these numbers and the questions raised today, due to the lateness of this session, this hearing must be fairly brief, as I already explained. I would, however, expect that the subcommittee will return to this topic in the next Congress.
Our panel, at least as our panel should be formed here in a moment, encompasses the two leading experts inside Government on the subject of United States currency and its use and misuse here and abroad. I have invited them here to open a discussion regarding the pros and cons of once again distributing Federal Reserve notes with a higher value than the $100 notes that currently top out our currency.
Let me turn to Mr. Lucas and see if he has any opening statement.
Mr. LUCAS. Just simply to say, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your conducting this hearing. It is a fascinating topic and certainly we are entering into a new world, and these are the kind of questions that need to be asked. As long as people around the world will want to depend on someone's currency, that they can place their trust and their value in and stuff under their mattress, the question will be whose currency and what fashion and form.
Thank you for giving this opportunity to explore this.
Chairman CASTLE. Thank you, Mr. Lucas. I too think it is an interesting subject and I am concerned about the press attendance here. It is as if something else might be going on that is distracting the press today. It is important and it is also fascinating, but it is important in terms of some of the costs, and we do have two gentlemen for whom I have a great deal of respect who will be testifying and it will be interesting to see if we can develop some good information in a short period of time.
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With that, Mr. Allison, the floor is yours.
STATEMENT OF HON. THEODORE E. ALLISON, ASSISTANT TO THE BOARD, SYSTEM AFFAIRS, BOARD OF GOVERNORS, FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM
Mr. ALLISON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Lucas. In the interest of time, I will skip through a lot of this testimony. I have got a seven-page or so statement and I trust that the whole statement can be put in the record.
Chairman CASTLE. It will be.
Mr. ALLISON. Thank you.
As you indicated, eleven member countries of the European Union plan to adopt a single currency, the euro, in eight coin denominations and seven note denominations. The two highest note denominations will be =200 euros and =500 euros. At today's exchange rates that would work out to be about $240 and $600 respectively. So those notes are quite a bit higher than our highest denomination currently circulating, which is $100.
Those will be introduced on January 1, 2002. The whole exchange has to take place within six months, so by July 1, 2002, the individual currencies of those eleven nations no longer will be legal tender.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To digress a minute. That in itself could, in the short run, I think, increase the demand for dollars, because a lot of the holding is long-term holding. People want to put it under the mattress and leave it there. And if acquiring deutsche marks in the meantime or any of these other currencies outside the country for long-term holding means it will have to come out of the mattress and get exchanged for euros, people may not be quite sure how that process is going to work. So that could induce people to use dollars instead in the meantime. But the focus here is going to be on the longer run.
You know that U.S. currency is widely used outside the United States. As you indicated, perhaps as much as two-thirds of the value of U.S. currency is held abroad.
Chairman CASTLE. Mr. Allison, I am going to do something we never do. I am going to interrupt you as we go along and ask you a question since it is a friendly little group here.
Are you saying that in the period from now until the euros start to be issued, that you think there will be perhaps even a greater demand on dollars because of the uncertainty of the future of the various currencies of those countries at all levels?
Mr. ALLISON. Not so much. I am not implying there will be any doubt about the value of the deutsche mark, let's say. But deutsche marks are used rather considerably in Eastern Europe and to some extent in the former Soviet Union, in the republics of the former Soviet Union. Probably something like a ratio of 90-to-10 with dollars. Ninety percent dollars, 10 percent DM, and then in Hungary, Czech Republic and the like, that is probably 50/50.
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LUCAS. If I may, Mr. Chairman. The comment you made about the July 1, 2002, repeat that line again about what becomes of European currencies that are now circulating.
Mr. ALLISON. The eleven European countries' currencies, deutsche marks, French francs, and the like will cease to be legal tender. They will be able to be exchanged at a central bank, let's say, but cease to be legal tender on July 1, 2002. It is a very short window, but they have adopted that on purpose, deliberately, in order to hasten the conversion and reduce the confusion.
Mr. LUCAS. If I am some citizen living in the back woods part of, say, Europe in the area where I have been using one of those currencies as my reserve under my mattress and I don't live, say, in Germany, then there is a psychological pressure that is going to be on me in that 6-month period to get it converted frantically.
Mr. ALLISON. Yes.
Mr. LUCAS. That is why you say more dollars will be used. They have adopted a defensive posture in advance of that.
Mr. ALLISON. Most people know the United States has never recalled or forced the conversion of its bank notes and so that could hastenthat could instill people at the margin toward some greater use of dollars in the meantime. That was the idea.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman CASTLE. Mr. Gensler, thank you for being here. We had to start on time because we have pictures and things going on.
Mr. GENSLER. I fully understand and I apologize.
Chairman CASTLE. Don't worry about it. All we have done is made brief opening statements. Mr. Allison has started to testify. It is sort of unusual, but we interrupted him for a couple of questions in the beginning of his testimony. So we will go back to Mr. Allison.
Mr. ALLISON. You asked in general what would be the impact of introducing euros on the demand for dollars outside the United States. And we think there will be some natural substitution of euros for dollars that will make sense. Dollars are used, for example, a little bit by people within those eleven countries traveling from one country to another. They frequently don't leave home with their home currency, but rather with dollars. And they will be able to leave home with euros and spend their euros at the destination in the future.
That sort of thing makes sense. That is good. We certainly wouldn't stand in the way of that. It is quite possible over the longer term that within the kind of areas surrounding euro land there might be a broader, wider availability of euro notes and with people traveling from Hungary and from the Czech Republic and so on into euro land, frequently it might make sense that some of those people would find it preferable to hold euros. We shouldn't really object to that either, I think.
But the more important question you raise, and I think it is a good one, is the impact of the high denomination notes. We believe that any substitution of dollars into euros or indeed any other currency is likely to take place only rather slowly. The dollar has a very strong position in the world as the preferred currency for household saving and for transacting a range of business activities. It is accepted very widely in the world. It is very widely available. The U.S. has never recalled any of its outstanding notes, so holders know that these notes are always going to be acceptable. We have a strong history of political stability, the most enviable in the world and the dollar has held its value reasonably well over a long period. So the worldwide demand for the dollar as a consequence is based on this unusually favorable combination of wide acceptability, political and financial continuity and esteem. The euro may in time earn a similar kind of status. It seems likely, though, that any major substitution of euros for dollars as a trusted store of value would take place fairly gradually.
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But let's do look at the question of the high denomination notes as well as another issue I would like to introduce today. The second issue is the possible perception that the dollar notes are less secure against counterfeiting, so I will just touch on that briefly also because I do think that might be more important even than the role of the high denomination notes.
I have included a table on page 5. It shows a tremendous concentration of value in our outstanding notes in $100 bills. Indeed, two-thirds of the value of outstanding U.S. notes is in $100 bills. That heavy concentration suggests that there may well be some unmet demand for a more efficient and more convenient higher denomination. It does seem plausible to us that if the $100 were to remain our largest denomination, there could be for some transactions a preference for the =200 or =500 euro note, simply because that would greatly reduce the cost and the time involved in making the transaction.
A good example is real estate transactions. In many of the republics of the former Soviet Union today, notwithstanding what the local laws and regulations may be, most real estate transactions take place in U.S. $100 dollar bills. It takes a long time to count out a thousand $100 bills. For example, if the property involved is $100,000. It would take only one-fifth or one-sixth as much time if that were done in =500 euro notes. There may be therefore, some switching. We don't believe that will be substantial, at least not in the short run.
There are public policies against reissuing the $500 note, mainly because many of those efficiency gains, such as lower shipment and storage costs, would accrue not only to legitimate users of bank notes, but also to money launderers, tax evaders and a variety of other law breakers who use currency in their criminal activity. While it is not at all clear that the volume of illegal drugs sold or the amount of tax evasion would necessarily increase just as a consequence of the availability of a larger dollar denomination bill, it no doubt is the case that if wrongdoers were provided with an easier mechanism to launder their funds and hide their profits, enforcement authorities could have a harder time detecting certain illicit transactions occurring in cash. Consequently, we believe that the law enforcement community should be consulted in any final decision about reissuing $500 notes.
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A final consideration, for people who have chosen to commit a very large proportion of their lifetime savings to cash, and to U.S. cash in particular, and who might consider using an alternative for that purpose, is the likely perception that they have about the ability of those notes to withstand counterfeiting. It is not necessarily that they would fear that the notes that they have in their possession might be counterfeit. It is more a concern that the next person, when they plan to spend those notes, might not find them as acceptable as some alternative.
That is not the subject of your hearing today, and I don't plan to spend any more time on it except to note that the Interagency Committee on Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence, which Mr. Gensler and I are members of, and which he will soon chair, is seriously studying further design improvements, especially for the $100 and $50 note. And to note also that if the $500 note were issued again, it would have to be seen as highly secure in order to be accepted. Thank you.
Chairman CASTLE. Thank you, Mr. Allison. We appreciate your testimony.
We will now turn to Mr. Gensler for his testimony. We have a copy of your written testimony. Of course, it is submitted without objection and we would be interested in any comments you may have.
STATEMENT OF HON. GARY GENSLER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR FINANCIAL MARKETS, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
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Mr. GENSLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the subcommittee. Again, I apologize, with the rain, being late. Let me just summarize, and Mr. Allison touched on many of the points about the history of our currency and about its usage. With the European Union deciding to issue the =500 euro note, we have been doing some thinking about currency uses, and I think rather than repeating what Ted has said, I will just leave my record as submitted.
What I would like to turn to, though, are some thoughts about what this means to us.
First, the U.S. currency already has competition from high denomination notes. Germany, Canada, and Italy amongst the G7 all have high denominations notes. For instance, Germany has a DM1000 note at this point in time. Canada, of course, has a $1,000 Canadian bill at this time. And while the euro might lead to a different type of competition, I just wanted to note that a number of countries within Europe and in Canada, of course, already have high denomination notes.
Within that framework, our currency usage overseas has grown dramatically. Over the past ten years, demand has grown at about 5 percent a year for $100 bills. To the extent that now about 75 percent of our $100 bills, we believe are held overseas and, as Mr. Allison said, about two-thirds of our overall currency are held overseas. If, however, higher denomination euro notes were used instead of the dollar, it would increase the Treasury's need to raise money publicly and that is something that is on one side of this discussion. On the other hand, there are a number of law enforcement considerations that we think are important for any considerations for possibly issuing higher denomination notes than we already have. Money laundering involves the placement, layering, and reintegration of illicit proceeds derived from criminal activity into the financial system. And with Congress' support, Treasury has used investigative and regulatory tools to fight the placement of proceeds of crime into the financial system. When criminals are deterred from placing illicit proceeds directly into the U.S. financial system, they often seek to hide it and transport it for placement outside of the U.S. and then launder it back in. And the weight of currency is a practical deterrence. Just a few figures: $1 million of cocaine, I am told, can weigh 44 pounds, and $100 bills, a million dollars, is about 22 pounds, so already there is a little bit of value of weight differential with regard to cocaine for hundred dollar bills. If criminals had access to $500 bills, $1 million could weigh about four pounds, which is less than a bag of sugar or bag of flour and could even be stored in small carry bags. So high denomination notes would make it easier for criminals to transport and hide cash, make the money laundering process cheaper and more likely to evade detection, and as a result, the net cost of committing many crimes could decline as with the Government's ability to punish and deter such crimes. In addition, as Mr. Allison mentioned, it may lead to a larger underground economy to avoid taxes.
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Let me just conclude by saying that at this time we have no plans to reissue $500 notes. However, if there was a proposal to do so, there would be time to evaluate carefully the proposal. The euro =500 is due to come out in 2002 and we talked with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing who lead us to believe it would take about a year to 18 months if the desire was to move forward with such a plan to issue $500 notes.
Chairman CASTLE. Thank you, Mr. Gensler.
Mr. Lucas, I probably have some questions, which I will run through them fairly quickly. This is a little bit ludicrous, but taking what you say to the nth degree, maybe we should attach little weights to all the money we have now for the criminals or we could eliminate all paper currency whatsoever; we could all use the new dollar coin we are going to have in a year or two and see how the criminals like hauling that around for their drugs.
But I think you do make a good point. I mean, I do believe that is one of the downsides. I mean, I treat American currency as the currency of the world as well as of America. And I personally don't think it is going to change dramatically with the introduction of the euro. But I have read enoughand I am not an expertbut I have read enough about the euro to realize that one of their hopes is to take some of that market back and for people to have their own interest replacement circumstances and ways of making money from currency as does the United States now.
I was struck a great deal, Mr. Allison, by your chart on the $100 bills. I had never seen it charted before. In fact, when I read your testimony last night I didn't pay much attention to that chart until you pointed it out here today. It is on page 5, as you referenced it, which shows how much of our currency is in $100 bills. I was struck by it simply because I never see a $100 bill. It just amazes me every time I hear about the usage of $100 bills outside of the country or hear the testimony, I believe it was Mr. Gensler's, $100,000 transaction in $100 bills. That to meyou just don't see that in the United States. It is just stunning, and when you look at the value in thousands of money outside the United States in $100 bills, it is striking and because we do earn money from that, or we don't have to pay interest on money we don't have to borrow, it is, I think, very important that we try to protect that franchise and to be thinking in advance, and the euro clearly introduces another element.
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I was actually not aware of the other countries either, Canada, you said Canada, Germany. Did you say Italy? There was another country.
Mr. GENSLER. Canada, Germany, Italy, and in fact Austria, The Netherlands. There are a number of other small
Chairman CASTLE. That have high issuance of paper money, but apparently because of the security of American dollars, that has not been as much of an issue as I guess it will be with the euro. I think we all tend to agree with that.
But on the other side of this, and I don't have it right in front of me, but our staff prepared some estimates. If you take a look at cost of living changes, and so forth, that indeed it states here that, in real terms of value, a current dollar is equal to a quarter in 1965 as one example. There are a lot of ways you can measure this. You're familiar with it as much as I am. But obviously going back 20 or 30 years, you know, a $100 bill is equal to about a $500 bill. And clearly it seems to me the euro people are going to market their higher currency. I mean, they are doing this intentionally for that. And so for all those reasons, Iand again because of this huge demand for $100 bills, I raise the question; are we preparing at the Fed and Treasury, and wherever else we should in Government, for at least the possibility of this? I know it is not on the drawing boards right now, but are we preparing for at least the possibility of this? Is it being studied carefully? Are we sort of guessing at this? I mean, it would seemyou give another three years of inflation. It would seem to me by then you can almost make a very compelling argument that even for use within the United States it might be wise to start to think about $500 bills here.
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So I raise that issue with you. I mean, is it some place on the radar screen if not on the planning boards?
Mr. GENSLER. Well, Mr. Chairman, I think that your holding the hearing is timely and the question is timely. It is on the radar screen and as Mr. Allison said, the committee we serve on, the Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence Steering Committee, we talk about subjects just as this. But as we said in our testimony, we think that there is time to study this, just because of the introduction as we said about three-and-a-half years off and even after that, the judgment is that it will take some time for the euro to take hold in Europe. And second in that there are high denomination notes out already. Germany, for instance, has about $50 billion of their currency stock, or about 40 percent of their currency stock, used outside of Germany today. So there is some of that, as you say, competition from others already today.
Mr. ALLISON. I would just echo that. It is discussed from time to time. I wouldn't say it is a front burner item, but it is on the top of the stove. And it will continue to get some attention.
Chairman CASTLE. I guess we have got to move it from the top of the stove, from back burner to front burner. I am not pushing it in particular, but in my limited experience in chairing this subcommittee it seems to me what I have learned is that we always sort of wait until something is inevitable before we do it. For example, we are going to eliminate the penny when it costs more to make a penny than it is worth, the one cent that it is worth. It is getting close right now as you both know. The truth of the matter is we have probably needed a better circulation of dollar coins for some time, and for various reasons there was resistance, and now that the economic needs of telephones and parking meters and transit fares and so forth, are there, there is a push for that. We always seem to do things after the fact, if you will.
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I mean, to me this is a highly competitive situation. I would not want to think, ''Well, let's wait and see. Let's wait until 2002 or 2003 and then we will look around and see.'' I would like to think that we are anticipating where we are going with this in advance. I don't know how you do that. I mean, obviously you need some sort of a modeling structure to figure out what might really happen here, and it is a ''guesstimate.'' Nothing could be precise. But I just want to makeone of the reasons we have this hearing is to heighten the awareness of this amongst ourselves in Congress as well as you all. Maybe it is wise to introduce some legislation in this area, if nothing else for discussion purposes, you know, just to sort of push the envelope a little bit, if you will.
You are welcome to comment on that issue or not as you wish. But that isyou know, it is very clear what I am trying to do and I just want to make sure we are all paying attention to this. And I think you are.
Mr. GENSLER. I appreciate that and I think we are. I think as we state in our testimony, there are important law enforcement considerations also. As the Chairman said, and I think it is probably true for most of us in this room, that we don't tend to see $100 bills even in our own usage. So the American people tend to use the $20 and the $5 and the $1 predominantly. And so it is, as you say, a phenomenon offshore primarily and then these very important law enforcement considerations that we will weigh and balance as we go forward.
Chairman CASTLE. I would hope and I will turn to Frank in a moment, but I would hope on theI assume when you guys come in and do a little dog and pony show for us as Members of this subcommittee about the new $100, $50, $20, there are at least one or two secrets you don't tell us, hopefully there are, as to security reasons as to how to identify counterfeiting. I would hope if we do go to the $500, the $1,000, that that part could almost be eliminated. Those bills are so important that that part could almost be eliminated with the various devicesI don't want to call them ''tricks,'' but devices and modern techniques which might be out there to prevent that kind of thing.
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Mr. ALLISON. I think we both agree with that. It would have to be a very high security note.
Chairman CASTLE. It would have to be even higher security than anything else, I guess, we have had before.
Let me turn to Frank, see what questions he may have.
Mr. LUCAS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Just for the record, gentlemen, in reading your testimony, both of you I think state, if I understand it correctly, that under present Federal law, the Secretary of the Treasury has the authority to print these if he chooses to and the Fed could issue them if they chose to. That is under existing law.
Mr. ALLISON. Yes.
Mr. GENSLER. That is correct.
Mr. LUCAS. We talk about the comments, I should sayand very serious commentsabout the nature of the law enforcement side of these angles. Does the Treasury or the Fed have estimates region-by-region around the world where the present amount of U.S. currency offshore exists, what percentages in South America or Europe or those kind of places? We have those kind of estimate numbers''guesstimate'' might be a better phrase for numbers?
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Mr. ALLISON. We have only very rough ideas. We are scheduled under the antiterrorism law of a couple of years ago to present a report to the Congress on that and related subjects by the fall of next year. So within a year, we will have sharpened those estimates. But in general, the main areas are the former Soviet bloc taken as a whole, Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. And then with a few remaining places in the world that aren't in one of those areas figuring in also.
Mr. LUCAS. From a legal perspective, places like the countries of what once was the Soviet Union, the Middle East, those kind of areas, those generally are legitimate, what we would define the citizens' legitimate holdings of currency, people who value our currency as a way to protect their life savings. My example earlier, underneath the mattress so to speak.
I guess, Mr. Chairman, my observation is that you have opened a very good line of topic here and yes, we need to look forward to the future and I would hope that in a few months that you will still be sitting in that chair and I will be sitting in this chair and I think we need to expand on this hearing and investigate a variety of these topics and perhaps advocate some policy change, sir, as time goes by.
Chairman CASTLE. Thank you very much, Mr. Lucas. Of course, in three weeks we may not be sitting anyplace in Congress. I have to worry about these things.
By the way, we do really appreciate, I am sure they do too, your interest in the subcommittee has been tremendous through the time I have chaired it and I really appreciate that more than anybody in Congress in my judgment.
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Let me just ask a final question or two. As you can hear, we are getting ready for this vote, and once we go there, we are not going to reconvene this hearing.
One thing in Congress I learned was, we came up with the idea of the new $1 coin, and we came up with the idea of the circulating quarters. Particularly the circulating quarters, I think, was more evident, because some people thought, ''Well, why are we playing with currency?'', whatever it may be. I said, ''Well, you know, there is something called 'seniorage' and these are collector's items, and people are going to take them out of circulation and it costs us maybe four cents to make them. We get 25 cents. You know, we use that money. We don't have to pay interest on it. That may be about $6 or $10 billion we don't have to borrow over a ten-year period and that probably saves us interest payments of a billion dollars.''
You never saw leadership move so fast in your life to get something on the agenda and to get it through. I found that is true of all these kinds of concepts. They aren't sure if they really want to change things, or they are politically a little dubious, as we tend to be. As Members of Congress, we don't want to upset our constituency until we can hear we can balance the budget or make money or whatever. This is sort of the reverse of this, because I am concerned about losing the paper money effect of seniorage, or the lost noninterest payments if you will. And that is one of the reasons, you know, I wanted to convene this hearing. But I also raise it with respect to electronic currency and other things. There are other ways in which I think we all anticipate that we are going to start to lose the use of money and therefore some of those cost benefits to the United States and I am very focused on that. You both commented on it. But that is one reason that I hope we get our planning in position far enough in advance that we don't have to go through a loss first and say, ''Gentlemen, oh, what should we do?'', and then in 2010 we start to go ahead and issue these bills to try to catch back up to the euro.
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Mr. ALLISON. I happen to agree fully with the way you have put the concern about seniorage. We shouldn't be in the business of issuing bank notes, especially outside the United States, for the purpose of earning seniorage. It ought to be for the purpose of meeting the convenience and needs of the people who want to use them. Now, it may be that those two are consistent with each other. It may be that by better meeting the convenience and needs of those people, we can also at the same time improve, or at least protect, the seniorage income. And I think there is no question that in the case of the $500 bill that there is that argument in favor of reissuing a $500 bill. There is at the same time a pretty good argument on the other side, on the law enforcement side. And indeed the discussion always tends to polarize along these lines on the issue of high denominations. But in general, I can only agree that we need to pay attention to the possibility of unnecessarily losing revenue.
Chairman CASTLE. OK. Are there any other comments that either of you wishes to make that you didn't get a chance to make in your statements or in answer to any of the questions that might be helpful or shed any light on the issue at hand?
Mr. ALLISON. I don't believe so.
Mr. GENSLER. I want to thank the Chairman again.
Chairman CASTLE. Let me thank you. The Ranking Member is in important meetings this morning and was unable to be here. She sends her apologies for that of course. And this is obviously just to put this on our radar screen, just to initiate the discussions so we can start to lift the awareness here. I am not at this point preparing legislation or thinking of that, although that is not an impossibility. I think we do need to study and I agree with all you are saying. I think there are pros and cons to all of this, although I must say some of the cons are sort of reduced by the fact if there is going to be a euro which is a viable currency out there and those who are in criminal activity can use that anyhow, you know, why shouldn't we do it as well, or better than they can, and perhaps even be able to aim at some of the criminal conduct and do a more effective job of regulating that and still compete in this circumstance. These are the things we have to look at.
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In any event, we appreciate your being here. There may be other questions various Members, because of the various activities, were not able to be here, including the Ranking Member, may want to submit in writing. We may do that. We thank you.
With that, we stand adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 10:10 a.m., the hearing was adjourned.]