In a surprising turn of events, the United States experienced a record-breaking surge in the printing of $50 bills last year. With a staggering total of 756,096,000 bills printed, it marked the highest number of $50 bills produced in a single year in over four decades. This article delves into the reasons behind this unprecedented increase and dispels the notion that it was driven by inflation.
Traditionally, the $50 bill has been considered an uncommon and somewhat unpopular denomination. In 2019, only 3.5% of all US bills printed were in the form of $50s. However, in 2022, this percentage skyrocketed to 8.5%, according to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). This shift in distribution raises intriguing questions about the factors influencing the demand for this particular denomination.
The Pandemic Effect
Contrary to popular belief, the surge in $50 bill production is not directly linked to inflation. Instead, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role. As people began hoarding cash during the uncertain times, the Federal Reserve discovered that larger bills were easier to store and preserve. Consequently, the Federal Reserve placed a substantial order for $50 bills to meet the rising demand.
In July 2021, the Federal Reserve acknowledged that its print order for 2022 would be heavily influenced by the ongoing pandemic. The report highlighted the unprecedented demand for currency experienced by the Federal Reserve during these uncertain times. Subsequent reports from the San Francisco Fed confirmed that Americans were keeping more cash in their possession, leading to an increased need for larger denominations.
The Printing Process
To comprehend the surge in $50 bill production, it is crucial to understand the process of printing money in the United States. The Federal Reserve, responsible for estimating the demand for currency and the rate of decay of bills in circulation, collaborates with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to fulfill the required orders. The US Mint, on the other hand, concentrates on producing coins.
The Unlucky Superstition
While the $50 bill may not be everyone’s favorite denomination, superstitions surrounding it have persisted over the years. Some believe that the bill brings bad luck due to President Ulysses S. Grant’s face gracing it. President Grant faced financial challenges during his lifetime, leading to the notion that the bills are jinxed. Despite occasional attempts to replace Grant’s face on the bill, the superstition remains. Additionally, stories of professional gamblers and casinos avoiding $50 bills due to their alleged jinx add to the mystique surrounding this denomination.