Feds Quarantine $110B in Potentially Defective $100 Bills

New security features caused wide-scale printing problem

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 6, 2010 11:38 AM CST

(Newser) – The new $100 bills were designed to thwart counterfeiters—but instead, the complex process required to create the high-tech bills has thwarted printers, resulting in $110 billion in currently unusable bills. The new hundreds, planned for roll-out in February, include a 3D security strip and color-shifting bell image—and producing them is so tricky that as many as 30% of those printed so far creased down the face during the process, resulting in a blank area, sources tell CNBC.

The government shut down production and quarantined the 1.1 billion printed so far—which amounts to more than 10% of all US currency on the planet. Officials must now create a mechanized system to determine which bills include the flaw—doing so by hand would take between 20 and 30 years, versus about one year by machine. Until the usable bills can be released, the current design will be produced again in order to avoid a shortage. The new bills cost twice as much to produce as a normal bill, a source says, meaning the government spent about $120 million on the defective batch.

In this Aug. 10, 2010 photo, United States Treasury Department Bureau of Engraving and Printing manager Kevin Brown displays a new $100 bill at the World's Fair of Money in Boston.
In this Aug. 10, 2010 photo, United States Treasury Department Bureau of Engraving and Printing manager Kevin Brown displays a new $100 bill at the World's Fair of Money in Boston.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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