Paper Money

Could Trump’s Treasury secretary stop note redesign?

Planned changes to existing Federal Reserve notes remain on track, but could that change during the Trump administration?

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Shortly after the Nov. 8 presidential election, some unsubstantiated speculation made the rounds questioning whether the upcoming Trump administration would renege on the plans for redesigning U.S. paper money.

“The Challenge of Selecting a New Secretary,” by Bouree Lamm in The Atlantic of Nov. 18, addressed the priorities facing the incoming Treasury secretary. That the currency topic was finally addressed in the final two paragraphs of an otherwise lengthy and wide-ranging analysis is as good an indication as any regarding where that issue sits on a very full plate of them. Among the issues addressed are managing finances, collecting taxes, paying the public debt, supervising national banks, and creating new economic policies related to the deficit and global trade.

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Lamm turned to Susan Ades Stone, the executive director of Women on 20s, for her viewpoint. She acknowledged that “The new treasury secretary has complete discretion over design, though it is really up to the Federal Reserve Board to approve the production-ready bills and decide when to issue them into circulation.” 

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She also mentioned that all three bills up for revision, the $5, $10, and $20 notes, are already in various stages of development and still projected to be unveiled in 2020. She said that the further along a bill is in the production process, the harder it becomes for the secretary to stop the process. Ades Stone did not mention the added expense any revisions at this point would incur. Since the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has already announced that testing with the visually-impaired will commence in 2017, it is possible the that process is already too far along to interrupt for what would be nothing more than another political statement.

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