January 11, 2013

If I had a trillion dollar platinum coin ...

... I’d just lose it in the couch cushions.

27 comments:

Harry Baldwin said...

The trillion dollar platinum coin sounds like a plot device in one of those great old Uncle Scrooge comics by Carl Barks. Scrooge exchanges all the money in his giant money bin for a single trillion-dollar coin, but then Huey, Dewey, and Louie spend it at an ice cream truck driven by one of the Beagle Boys.

Anyway, Zimbabwe had trillion-dollar bills, why shouldn't we have a coin? I recommend it feature Paul Krugman's visage, to inspire confidence among all the readers of the New York Times.

Anonymous said...

This sort of discussion reminds me a lot of the vaunted social security "lock box" that did nothing to address the underlying problem of the social security pyramid scheme.

Jack Bolling said...

I'd steal it from the US government and hand it over to communist Cuba. De gustibus.

x said...

If I had a trillion dollar platnium coin I wouldn't be able to lift it, let alone lose it. It'd be pretty huge given platnium is valued at $1629.00 an ounce.

Corn said...

I believe the trillion dollar coin idea was proposed once before in the 1980s by a Congressman on a currency or banking committee.

Cinco Jotas said...

I bet it'd be hard to find a vending machine that would accept it.

Anonymous said...

I'd buy a pack of gum and ask for $999,999,999,999 in change so I could feed the meter.

Geoff Matthews said...

In all seriousness, why even bother with a coin? When you get to this point, you're just pretending that it has value, so why even bother with what the coin is made of?

Handle said...

People, please. This clever loophole is no more ridiculous than repeatedly raising a debt ceiling that doesn't ever cap anything and just regularly creates nonsensical fake fiscal crises that never accomplish anything except repetitive blowharding.

Here's the irony: Congress could pass a law at any time to stop the coin (by limiting platinum coinage, just like it does gold and silver) if they really wanted us to hit the ceiling and shut down about 1/3 of the government. There's no coherent position between stopping the coin and eliminating the ceiling.

Auntie Analogue said...


If the U.S. mints a trillion-dollar platinum coin Michelle can toss it on her next vacation when she visits the Trevi fountain. But then two more would have to be minted - one each for Sasha and Malia. Wouldn't want them to feel that their wishes would have been ignored or dismissed.

Reg Cæsar said...

Will it have a copper center?

Anonymous said...

Remember, it will be in the last place you look for it.

Franke said...

I have to go with Jon Stewart on this one- why not just mint a quadrillion dollar one and spend away? If its all just made up nonsense anyway...

This is why we need to go back on the gold standard. Crap like this just lets the government pick the pockets of the citizens through stealth- we ultimately pick up the tab through increased inflation. But on the positive side, they're picking the pockets of the rest of the world who own vast quantities of USD also.

TontoBubbaGoldstein said...

I like to picture a long line of 18 wheelers loaded with pallets of $100 bills bringing me my tax refund and EITC.
Like when Saddam "withdrew" the money from the Bank of Bahgdad....only much, much moreso.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't anyone in the GOP political leadership stand up and say the following?

"If you attempt a stunt like this - an end run around the Constitution and the Separation of Powers - then we will IMMEDIATELY, within the hour, impeach you and send your impeachment to the Senate for trial."

That's the sort of action which words like "political" and "leadership" are supposed to describe.

And if I were Li'l Johnnie Boner, then I'd add the following: "Furthermore, if the Senate fails to convict and to remove you from office, then we will return home to our districts and begin the process of seceding from the Union."

Porter said...

This one coin to rule them all is hardly a concept divorced from our current situation. With the continuous rancor over debt and taxes I’m mildly surprised the Left even leaves the issue on the table. For there doesn’t have to be debt or taxes at all…directly.

There’s approximately $16 trillion in debt and $3.5 in annual federal spending. That’s $51 trillion that must be covered in a next 10 year static model. The Bernanke could simply expand QE to approximately $400 billion/month and eliminate all federal taxes. At the end of the 10 year CBO projection period, there would be no debt, no taxes, no cuts, and a booming mortuary business. There are no losers.

Jimbo said...

He's modest, so I will take the liberty of pointing out that the TDC idea was originated by iSteve;s own Beowulf, who when he's not hateposting here spends a lot of time hanging out with other nerds (like, um, me) at various monetary policy forums. Maybe he'd be so kind as to explain his reasoning firsthand to the HBD crowd...

Severn said...

Congress could pass a law at any time to stop the coin (by limiting platinum coinage, just like it does gold and silver)


Or Congress could pass a law allowing it to decree: "See this wooden nickel? It is hereby worth one hundred trillion dollars. Because we say so!"

That would be, if anything, less idiotic than the platinum coin idea.

Anonymous said...

It'll get you 3 full hours in a Chicago parking meter.

rob said...

All Congress has to do to keep US debt from going over the ceiling is collect more money or spend less money by passing a budget that does that.

Once the legislature gets one or more spending bills to the President that'll pay down starting this year, not 2052 or something silly they project, then the President would have to do stuff.

Until then the Executive has no legal options except spending money like Congress says. He gotta do it cuz he isn't Grand Gazoom Dictator who can do whatevah he want: Only Congress can cause or the prevent the Platinum Syndrome.

I hope Obama puts Grover Norquist on the coins.

pat said...

The Indiana Representative Taylor I. Record introduces a bill to make pi equal to three.

Hank Johnson of Georgia thinks the weight of more people will sink Guam.

Paul Krugman endorses the idea of a trillion dollar coin.

Albertosaurus

bluto said...

I think it'd either make one hell of a caper movie, or one hell of a caper.

Nexin said...

"... Bernanke could simply expand QE to approximately $400 billion/month and eliminate all federal taxes. At the end of the 10 year CBO projection period, there would be no debt, no taxes, no cuts, and a booming mortuary business. There are no losers."


Much like all of those wealthy Zimbabweans with their $50 trillion dollar bills that they can buy 500mL goat milk with if anyone happens to be foolish enough to accept the bills, when 3 hrs later they could get a $100 trillion dollar bill for the same amount of milk.

Seriously though, what could go wrong with devaluing everything everyone worked for or saved up, while simultaneously absolving all debtors of their debts?

Svigor said...

He's modest, so I will take the liberty of pointing out that the TDC idea was originated by iSteve;s own Beowulf, who when he's not hateposting here spends a lot of time hanging out with other nerds (like, um, me) at various monetary policy forums. Maybe he'd be so kind as to explain his reasoning firsthand to the HBD crowd...

Beowulf, don't bother. None of us will understand it. The handful that would already do. Economics might as well be physics once you get past the really obvious stuff. Though I do admit I finally read up on exactly how selling a stock short works last year, and was amazed at how simple a mechanism it is (you just borrow stock instead of cash), so maybe I should just crack an economics text.

Eric said...

In all seriousness, why even bother with a coin? When you get to this point, you're just pretending that it has value, so why even bother with what the coin is made of?

Because Congress gave the mint the power to create platinum "bullion" coins. The idea was it was supposed to be like the American Eagle gold coin or whatever. The mint makes money selling coins made from precious metals at a huge markup.

The law spells out just what a "bullion" coin is for gold and silver, i.e. that its value must derive substantially from the metal and not seigniorage. Otherwise the mint would be creating money when everyone knows only banks should be able to create money. Ahem.

But although Congress left in the word "bullion" for platinum, it didn't define the word as was done for gold and silver. So some Democrats figure they can redefine "bullion" however they want as long as the coin is made out of platinum.

The whole thing has nothing to do with monetary policy anyway; it's just a loophole they think they've found for the president to ignore debt ceiling requirements. The mint produces a trillion dollar coin and we can keep borrowing because the debt ceiling has been effectively raised by an accounting gimmick.

Of course, if you're going to allow the president to go around redefining words like that there's no point in having written laws, is there? We may as well just let him do whatever he wants.

Anonymous said...

The fact that they are even talking about it indicates shadiness of the highest kind.

This isn't going to end well.. is it?

Mr. Anon said...

"Eric said...

The mint makes money selling coins made from precious metals at a huge markup."

It's not a huge markup - no more than 5% for Gold Eagles and 10% for Silver Eagles. I don't think they make much money off of it. It may be substantial in terms of the budget of the Mint, but it's negligible in the context of the federal budget.