Paper Money

Guess where $2 Federal Reserve notes are circulating

The $2 Federal Reserve note may not circulate widely in the United States, but it is now entering circulation in Ecuador.

Coin World file image.

A little-used denomination of Federal Reserve note is entering circulation more broadly, just not in the United States. Instead, the notes will be used by residents of Ecuador.

The 1999 economic crisis in Ecuador led to the sucre losing 67 percent of its value in one year. Then, in January 2000, the currency lost an additional 17 percent of its value in one week, leading President Jamil Mahuad to announce on Jan. 9, 2000, that the U.S. dollar would become Ecuador’s currency. Even though the crisis resulted in Mahuad being overthrown in a short-lived leftist military coup on Jan. 21 and replaced by his vice president, Gustavo Noboa, the dollarization of the economy was allowed to proceed. On March 9, 2000, Noboa signed a law that, effective on March 13, replaced the sucre with the United States dollar at an exchange rate of 25,000 sucres to $1. Both currencies circulated at first, but the dollar was used in all but very small transactions. By the end of 2000, sucre notes were no longer legal tender.


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Nineteen years after the changeover, one glaring gap in the introduction of United States currency has been corrected. El Universo, one of Ecuador’s largest daily newspapers, reported on April 26 that for the first time, a delivery of $2 Federal Reserve notes would arrive and would be available for distribution in major cities at the windows of the central bank. None of the denomination were included in previous deliveries of Federal Reserve notes, and in some circles, their absence created an obsession and mythology about them. 

El Universo mentioned that some Ecuadorians consider them omens of good luck. It also says that “on social networks” they sell to collectors for from $4 to $15 each.

According to Bureau of Engraving and Printing reports, no Series 2013 $2 notes were printed from July 2016 until November 2018. In that month, 12,800,000 were printed for the Atlanta bank and 38,400,000 for the San Francisco bank. None have been printed since. 

A picture in the April 30 issue of El Universo showed an Atlanta note printed in July 2016 being exhibited at the note’s introduction. In the future, El Universo added, if the demand for the $2 bill increases, the Ecuadorian Central Bank will consider additional imports. 

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