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All The Money The Government Is Printing This Year, In One Graphic

by Miki Meek
Oct 16, 2012

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Miki Meek

Usually when we talk about the Fed printing money, we're speaking metaphorically. Most money the Fed "prints" these days isn't actually currency; it's just an electronic representation showing that somebody has a certain amount of money in their account.

But the government does still print actual, physical bills. This doesn't really have anything to do with monetary policy or the deficit or anything like that. We're just weirdly fascinated by it.

For the most part, the government just prints new bills to replace old, weathered bills that are taken out of circulation. On top of that, the government has been printing lots more $100 dollar bills in the past few years, because people overseas have taken to holding onto them.

The Fed has submitted its order for the fiscal year 2013, which started at the beginning of this month and runs through September of next year. In all, the order came to 7.8 billion notes, valued at $472.9 billion. Here's the complete order, broken down by denomination.

BONUS GRAPHIC: How long does a bill last? Depends on the denomination. All bills are printed on the same durable paper, which a company in Massachusetts has been making for the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing since 1879.

But small bills, which change hands frequently, have a much shorter life than $100s, which people tend to hoard.

See photos of how dollar bills were made a century ago.

Correction: The "money to be printed" graphic in an earlier version of this post was mislabeled.

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