MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) – Imagine having $3 billion in cash sitting in front of you, teasing you – that you couldn’t use. That’s what happened to the Federal Reserve this year because the country’s money factory messed up.
One of America’s most familiar exports is the $100 bill.
“We estimate that as many as two-thirds of all $100 notes circulate outside the United States,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
“It’s certainly one of the most valuable bills to counterfeit,” Ben Mazzotta said, a currency expert from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.
The Mint was supposed to print a new design back in 2011. However, they keep botching the bill. The first batch ended up with a blank spot, and the second round was lifted by thieves on their way to the Federal Reserve.
Now, the problem is excess ink.
“Ironically it appears to be not those advanced features. It’s the way the paper they are using for this generation of printing is responding to the weight of the printing press,” Mazzotta said.
The error could cost taxpayers about $4 million because the current bill costs 7.8 cents to produce, compared to 12.6 for the new one.
A blue ribbon is woven into the middle of the bill with alternating 100’s and Liberty Bells that move when the paper is tilted.
A copper inkwell contains a Liberty Bell inside it that turns green when moved.
“Certainly it’s much harder to counterfeit the new bill than the old… every year that passes makes counterfeiting their old $100 bills that much easier,” Mazzotta said.
The government says crisp new bills should be ready to change hands by Oct. 8. Then the arms race against counterfeiters begins again.
A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing says less than 1 percent of the $100 bills they shipped were affected.
The bureau plans to send the bulk of that batch back to the Federal Reserve, and the Fed does have a sufficient supply to release on Oct. 8.