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You Want That in Small Bills?
February 22, 2012

Did you see the news about Italian authorities seizing roughly $6 trillion in fake Treasury bonds in Switzerland?

Even in this day and age of large numbers, such as our $3.8 trillion federal budgets and a $15 trillion national debt, you have to wonder what the forgers of these securities were thinking.

We were not told how good these fake bonds are, only that they were stored in three large trunks at a Swiss trust company.

But does anybody believe that such a sum can be obtained even if the bonds were so good that the famous bankers of Switzerland are fooled?

One iron rule of counterfeiting is that to successfully pass something, you just can’t afford to call attention to yourself.

I think $6 trillion would put anyone in the spotlight even if they wore dark glasses and turned up the collar on their overcoat.

Someone might even place a call to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner about such a sum. It is six times the total of all of the U.S. paper currency in circulation.

Imagine trying to walk out of a bank lobby with that much cash stuffed in your pockets.

Our poor old chairman of the Federal Reserve System, Ben Bernanke, can’t even spend 10 percent of that sum over the course of eight or nine months without being noticed.

They are still talking about his $600 billion of QE2, or the second round of quantitative easing that ended last June.

What chance do the poor counterfeiters have trying to pass 10 times that amount?

We can’t have them making Bernanke look like a piker, now can we?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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