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Tags debt , debt ceiling

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Old 4th January 2013, 02:41 PM   #1
ravdin
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Trillion Dollar Coin

I've been seeing a good bit of buzz lately about the idea of the US Treasury minting a $1 trillion platinum coin as a means of circumventing the debt ceiling debates. The White House even has a petition about it:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet...-coin/8hvJbLl6

As best as I understand the mechanism, the Treasury would deposit this coin with the Fed and then it would go into effect as an immediate means of debt reduction. The proponents say: our debt is manageable (as long as interest rates don't go up) and this would avert dangerous fiscal cliff showdowns in Congress. The opposing view is: this is currency debasement and will lead us down the path of Zimbabwe style hyperinflation.

Thoughts on this? I have a difficult time seeing the proposal as anything other than a shell game, but it's not like the debt ceiling is serving any useful purpose for keeping our fiscal house in order.
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Old 4th January 2013, 03:10 PM   #2
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Ya, this is 'Platinum Coin Seigniorage', and is basically money creation, without issuing corresponding debt; this does not need to be inflationary at all, and my thread here, has a very large discussion about this (surrounding money creation):
http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=250647

The discussion there is pretty dense most of the way through though, and fast moving, so it's a lot to read; my initial post gives a decent starting overview of the arguments though, with the rest mostly debating over those initial arguments.
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Old 4th January 2013, 03:11 PM   #3
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It's a legal maneuver. Shell game isn't a bad description either. Since there was tangible harm from the last debt ceiling showdown with credit rating agencies not liking the brinksmanship, I can't say have a real problem with it other than a basic squick reaction to the need for a legal maneuver or shell game.
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Old 4th January 2013, 04:15 PM   #4
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I'm going to start checking the couches of Congress.
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Old 4th January 2013, 04:17 PM   #5
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http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-0...um-perspective

Putting A Trillion Dollars Of Platinum In Perspective
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Old 4th January 2013, 04:21 PM   #6
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I saw the idea first when someone said Obama should do that, and then when congress complains, suggest they pass a law that bans the use of this strategy, as long as they also repeal the debt ceiling.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-0...oin-cliff.html
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Last edited by ehcks; 4th January 2013 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 4th January 2013, 04:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ehcks View Post
I saw the idea first when someone said Obama should do that, and then when congress complains, suggest they pass a law that bans the use of this strategy, as long as they also repeal the debt ceiling.
Well, the CBO has apparently changed their number from $4T to $4.6T...
Quote:
we would show additional deficits between 2013 and 2022 of roughly $4.6 trillion.
http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43835
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Old 4th January 2013, 04:37 PM   #8
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Surely this coin will significantly increase money supply, and without commensurate economic growth this will have to increase inflation. At least that what I learnt when I studied economics (many years ago, I should add).
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Old 4th January 2013, 05:31 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ravdin View Post
I've been seeing a good bit of buzz lately about the idea of the US Treasury minting a $1 trillion platinum coin as a means of circumventing the debt ceiling debates. The White House even has a petition about it:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet...-coin/8hvJbLl6

Well, yes, but it isn't the White House's petition, it's a petition that someone called "Graham K" has put up on their petition site:
Quote:
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Direct the United States Mint to make a single platinum trillion dollar coin!
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Old 4th January 2013, 05:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by LTC8K6 View Post
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-0...um-perspective

Putting A Trillion Dollars Of Platinum In Perspective
What a shockingly vapid article. Seems to be based on a premise that the metal in coins needs to be equivalent to the face value thereof. The US could mint a coin out of a gram of plastic and declare it to be worth a trillion and be constitutionally justified in doing so, should it so choose.
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Old 4th January 2013, 05:47 PM   #11
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The full faith and credit demands that money be coined in the face of GOP intransigency.

So do what is right or be run around. It's not optional.
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Old 4th January 2013, 07:05 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ravdin View Post
As best as I understand the mechanism, the Treasury would deposit this coin with the Fed and then it would go into effect as an immediate means of debt reduction.
That's just an instant $1T of QE. What does the coin have to do with it?
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Old 4th January 2013, 07:23 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
That's just an instant $1T of QE. What does the coin have to do with it?
There is a limit on how large a denomination the treasury can print on paper notes, but there is no limit on coins. So they could mint a couple of billion dollar coins...or a trillion dollar coin, and still be within the law. Just deposit them in the treasury fund...and boom...were out of debt...at least on paper....it really doesn't work that way.
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Old 4th January 2013, 08:06 PM   #14
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Another alternative is to produce a billion coins and sell them to collectors for $1,000 each. Have the face value say $100 so that they are not actually used. That would get rid of almost a trillion dollar debt. It also has the advantage of taking a load of surplus money out of circulation, which might be otherwise spent and create inflation.

Or raid the art gallerias. Sell a few very valuable works of art to the International market. That would raise a huge amount of funds.
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Old 4th January 2013, 08:13 PM   #15
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Maybe I'm just too much of a chucklehead! lol (maybe?) but the first thought that came in my head was this coin showing up on that Pawn Stars show in 20 years and the guy goin "Yeah, it's rare....I'll give ya like twenty bucks for it"
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Old 4th January 2013, 08:17 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Another alternative is to produce a billion coins and sell them to collectors for $1,000 each. Have the face value say $100 so that they are not actually used.
But what about the billions of coin collectors who would miss out?

Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Or raid the art gallerias. Sell a few very valuable works of art to the International market. That would raise a huge amount of funds.
Just be sure to only raid the international gallerias.
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Old 4th January 2013, 08:51 PM   #17
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I wonder what the penalty would be for trying to pass of a fake trillion dollar coin?
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Old 4th January 2013, 08:54 PM   #18
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7-11 won't take them....I tried.
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Old 4th January 2013, 09:09 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Macgyver1968 View Post
7-11 won't take them....I tried.
I had an employee try to pass of a five dollar bill with an extra 0 taped to it. He blamed it on me and was immediately released. I got a call from the treasury department but I said it wasn't mine. I guess it wasn't a felony because he was only trying to steal 45 dollars since the 5 dollar bill was real.
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Old 4th January 2013, 10:43 PM   #20
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Is it just me, or does zerohedge.com appear suspiciously similar to a currency kook site?
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Old 4th January 2013, 10:53 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by John Albert View Post
Is it just me, or does zerohedge.com appear suspiciously similar to a currency kook site?
Well, the $1T coin is an idea straight out of kooksville...
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Old 4th January 2013, 11:11 PM   #22
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Here is CNN's take on the story.

They don't give any details while saying that since the money from the coin would never go into circulation it would not cause any inflation.
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Old 5th January 2013, 12:19 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Another alternative is to produce a billion coins and sell them to collectors for $1,000 each. Have the face value say $100 so that they are not actually used. That would get rid of almost a trillion dollar debt. It also has the advantage of taking a load of surplus money out of circulation, which might be otherwise spent and create inflation.
In order to sell them all, you'd have to convince every adult in the USA to buy four coins each. Something of a hard sell, especially since you're charging ten times their face value.
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Old 5th January 2013, 12:30 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Molinaro View Post
Here is CNN's take on the story.
Ahh! It's a legal dodge. The president can issue a platinum coin in any denomination whatsoever without needing congressional approval.

In effect, he would be forcing the fed to do a $1T QE (and giving himself a $1T window before he hits the debt ceiling again).

Originally Posted by Molinaro View Post
They don't give any details while saying that since the money from the coin would never go into circulation it would not cause any inflation.
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Old 5th January 2013, 12:34 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Brian-M View Post
In order to sell them all, you'd have to convince every adult in the USA to buy four coins each. Something of a hard sell, especially since you're charging ten times their face value.
Send out gov't checks that can only be used to purchase the coins...

Just forgive the debt...

Give every working citizen $100K in grant money that has to be spent in 2013...50% of the grant money spent is sent to the gov't to help with the debt...
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Last edited by LTC8K6; 5th January 2013 at 12:38 AM.
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Old 5th January 2013, 12:37 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Ahh! It's a legal dodge. The president can issue a platinum coin in any denomination whatsoever without needing congressional approval.

In effect, he would be forcing the fed to do a $1T QE (and giving himself a $1T window before he hits the debt ceiling again).

Well, don't vote for him when he runs for re-election.
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Old 5th January 2013, 01:01 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by LTC8K6 View Post
Send out gov't checks that can only be used to purchase the coins...
Let's skip a step, and have the government send itself a quarter of a billion checks for $4,000.
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Last edited by Brian-M; 5th January 2013 at 01:03 AM. Reason: Changed million to billion.
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Old 5th January 2013, 01:17 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by BenBurch View Post
Well, don't vote for him when he runs for re-election.
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Old 5th January 2013, 06:42 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by ravdin View Post
I've been seeing a good bit of buzz lately about the idea of the US Treasury minting a $1 trillion platinum coin as a means of circumventing the debt ceiling debates. The White House even has a petition about it:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet...-coin/8hvJbLl6

As best as I understand the mechanism, the Treasury would deposit this coin with the Fed and then it would go into effect as an immediate means of debt reduction. The proponents say: our debt is manageable (as long as interest rates don't go up) and this would avert dangerous fiscal cliff showdowns in Congress. The opposing view is: this is currency debasement and will lead us down the path of Zimbabwe style hyperinflation.

Thoughts on this? I have a difficult time seeing the proposal as anything other than a shell game, but it's not like the debt ceiling is serving any useful purpose for keeping our fiscal house in order.
I remember this idea came up the last time that there was a face-off over the debt ceiling.

I think the argument against it is that it would be breaking a taboo: The Fed is supposed to control monetary policy, not the president or congress, but this would essentially mean the Obama administration taking direct control over money expansion. That itself does not necessarily make it wrong, but it might be reason to be cautious. The idea of having an independent Fed is to make monetary policy decisions not based on short term political considerations but instead in terms of achieving the Fed's twin mandates of price stability and full employment. It's very tempting for the government to abuse this power. Doing it might spook the bond market.

And if they didn't do it last time, maybe there was a good reason.
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Old 5th January 2013, 06:54 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Brian-M View Post
In order to sell them all, you'd have to convince every adult in the USA to buy four coins each. Something of a hard sell, especially since you're charging ten times their face value.
The numbers are a bit silly. The reason I used those ones are to make the sales equal to a trillion dollars. You could reduce the number made and sold to a realistic number and that would solve a % of the debt problem. The strange thing is that coin collectors (at least in Australia) will pay way more for coins than the face value. These coins are high quality (proof or uncirculated and are made for the coin collectors. See this link for the details https://eshop.ramint.gov.au/Coin-Sets/8.aspx.
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Old 5th January 2013, 07:07 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by LTC8K6 View Post
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-0...um-perspective

Putting A Trillion Dollars Of Platinum In Perspective
If the numbers in that story are true, I wonder why platinum is so cheap compared to gold?

Supposedly there are only 16 tons of platinum in the world, but there are 165,000 tons of gold. And yet the price per ounce is almost the same.

According to this, 133 tons of platinum are mined every year, so there must be more than 16 tons of it.

ETA: He also fails to understand a basic concept: A trillion dollar platinum coin does not imply that there is a trillion dollars worth of platinum to back it up because we are not on a platinum standard. Just as a hundred-dollar bill does not imply that the paper it is printed on is worth $100 or that it can be redeemed for $100 in gold or any other precious metal. This is still fiat money, even if it is a coin made of precious metal.

ETA2: Even the link he gives as a source contradicts itself on this point:
Quote:
The annual production of Platinum is about 130 tonnes. While this seems like a substantial number, it pales in comparison when you realize that nearly 260 tonnes of steel are used in U.S. manufacturing operations daily.
All of the Platinum ever mined would barely fill a 25 cubic foot (7.6 cubic meter) box. The block would weigh over 16 tons.
If 130 tonnes (a 'tonne' is more than a 'ton' btw) are mined every year, then clearly there are much more than 16 tons "ever mined".
Furthermore, 25 cubic feet does not equal 7.6 cubic meters. There are over 35 cubic feet in one cubic meter. It probably should be a cube of 25 feet per side, or 15,625 cubic feet.
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Old 5th January 2013, 10:37 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by BenBurch View Post
The full faith and credit demands that money be coined in the face of GOP intransigency.

So do what is right or be run around. It's not optional.
In what way is ballooning our already outrageous debt and sticking future generations with the tab doing what is right?
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Old 5th January 2013, 11:45 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by IMST View Post
What a shockingly vapid article.
It's Zerohedge. What did you expect?
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Old 5th January 2013, 12:10 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by ravdin View Post
In what way is ballooning our already outrageous debt and sticking future generations with the tab doing what is right?
Actually, this is merely inflationary. By removing the issue with the debt ceiling, the opportunity then exists to make sure you never need to do it again.
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Old 5th January 2013, 12:12 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Public opprobrium does not matter much to a lame duck was the point I was shooting for. And obviously missing.
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Old 5th January 2013, 01:44 PM   #36
ravdin
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Originally Posted by BenBurch View Post
Actually, this is merely inflationary. By removing the issue with the debt ceiling, the opportunity then exists to make sure you never need to do it again.
What does "merely inflationary" mean? It's inflationary to add a trillion dollars into circulation by fiat, but the whole point is to make it possible to accumulate more debt without hitting the debt ceiling. This doesn't stop the debt from growing or remove the crushing obligations we're passing on to future generations for own selfish benefit, however.
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Old 5th January 2013, 03:05 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
The strange thing is that coin collectors (at least in Australia) will pay way more for coins than the face value. These coins are high quality (proof or uncirculated and are made for the coin collectors. See this link for the details https://eshop.ramint.gov.au/Coin-Sets/8.aspx.

I've seen similar sets on display for sale at the post office: http://shop.auspost.com.au/collectab...rid|6650028506

Not sure how many people who visit the post office actually buy them. Can't be that many. But I suppose that even one person in a thousand actually bought them, it'd make it worthwhile stocking them.
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Old 5th January 2013, 04:00 PM   #38
IMST
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Originally Posted by timhau View Post
It's Zerohedge. What did you expect?
Nothing, actually. Never heard of 'em.
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Old 5th January 2013, 04:11 PM   #39
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Oky doky, I'm not much of a grand economist , so answer me this:

IF they made this trillion dollar coin, deposited it, then 6 months later it was "stolen" and melted down what would that do to the economy?

Would it be the same as if one trillion cash dollars were suddenly burned?

How would that work?
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Old 5th January 2013, 04:25 PM   #40
BenBurch
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
Oky doky, I'm not much of a grand economist , so answer me this:

IF they made this trillion dollar coin, deposited it, then 6 months later it was "stolen" and melted down what would that do to the economy?

Would it be the same as if one trillion cash dollars were suddenly burned?

How would that work?
Planning to steal it?
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