Protecting the Greenback; July 1995; Scientific American Magazine; by Schafrik, Church; 7 Page(s)
Surprisingly, paper currency remains a cornerstone of modern commerce. The predicted "cashless society," in which all transactions are made with checks, credit cards, debit cards and electronic transfers, has not yet materialized. More than $380 billion in U.S. currency is estimated to be circulating worldwide, and demand for the bills increases annually at a rate of about 5 percent. In the 1995 fiscal year alone, the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing is scheduled to deliver more than nine billion new notes, with a total value exceeding $130 billion. Almost a fifth of the 50 billion banknotes circulated in the world are U.S. currency.
Internationally, the greenback holds a unique position, serving as a de facto world currency, accepted universally and even held as an investment where local economies are uncertain. Because of this special status, changes to U.S. currency are not made lightly. In fact, the basic design of U.S. currency has not changed significantly since 1928.