Paper Money

Delay in naming U.S. treasurer holds up release of note series

The BEP continues to produce Series 2017A Federal Reserve notes, which bear the signatures of Trump administration officials.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Finally, people outside the collector community are noticing that, nearly a year after the Biden administration took office, U.S. paper currency is still being printed with signatures of officials from the previous administration.

Alan Rappeport wrote in the New York Times on Dec. 22 that signatures of Steven Mnuchin and Jovita Carranza, the previous Treasury secretary and treasurer, will remain on the notes (Series 2017A) for a while longer.

He attributes the delay to Washington’s bureaucracy, pointing out that currency needs two signatures and the president has not appointed a treasurer to join Secretary Yellen. The change usually takes place within an administration’s first year.

Secretary Yellen’s signature, which will be the first one of a female Treasury secretary, is ready to go. She provided her official signature to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in March, when the Treasury said it would be revealed within weeks.

The delay in making this appointment is not due to the slow and politically hazardous Senate confirmation process, since such confirmation is not required for the treasurer, whose main job is overseeing the BEP and Mint.

A White House spokesperson told the Times said that treasurer candidates are being actively considered, but the focus is on filling Senate-confirmed positions that are important for national security and combating the pandemic.

The Times also writes, “Since the Treasury secretary has the ultimate say over currency design, in theory Ms. Yellen could do away with the tradition and incorporate her signature right away.”

The Times article says that the signature of the treasurer is just a tradition.

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