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Mo Money Mo Problems: The Printing Mistake that Cost Billions

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The notes being printed

Getting your printed poster back from the shop can sometimes be cause for frustration—if the colors don’t match, if the dimensions don’t fit, and so on. But rarely is that the cause of a billion-dollar problem, as the US government is now in the midst of, reports CNBC.

The US recently unveiled a new, high-tech hundred-dollar bill that sports a 3D security strip among others. Initially scheduled for release in February 2011, the bills have now been quarantined after a billion of them have been found to contain a printing error, CNBC said. The total value of the bills amount to US$110 billion, about 10% of the entire supply of US currency.

The printed bills have a creasing problem on one of its edges that when unfolded, reveals a blank portion of the note, people close to the matter told CNBC. All these new bills have been stored in vaults—only about 30% of them are flawed, but there is no way to sort out the good ones from the rotten.


CNBC estimates that to hand-sort through the deluge will take approximately 20 to 30 years, or a mechanized system could be developed that will reduce that time to about a year.

Since the bills aren’t in circulation, the US hasn’t exactly wasted US$110 billion but the loss is still in the millions. Each note cost 12 cents to produce—about twice as much as the normal bill—which makes the total production cost US$120 million, reports Fast Company.

As one official astutely told CNBC: “Somebody has to pay for this.”

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