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#27 Jan 07 2013 at 4:20 PM Rating: Decent
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Except there would be no finder's fee. There's nothing to find. It's not like we're talking about a bunch of coins in circulation. They could mint 5 of them, and put them in a box somewhere and say "We've got 5 Trillion in coins in the reserve". The important part isn't the 5 coins but the understanding that there's 5 of them minted in such a way so as to not count against the debt ceiling. Someone finding one is irrelevant. Heck. They don't even actually have to have the coins (although there might be some law requiring it, don't ask me). They could just mint them, put them in a box, and the incinerate/melt it. It's the idea that there's X number of dollars backing our currency that doesn't count against the debt ceiling that matters. The physical coin is just a necessity to get around the current debt ceiling legislation. As others have pointed out, it does not change the number of dollars actually in circulation one dime.


Having said all that, I don't think it'll fly legally. We all know it's just a loophole. The law clearly was intended to place a limit on government debt. Period. Making a coin out of a material not directly specified in the law is pretty iffy. Can I make a coin out of air and just say it's in the box? How is that different than just writing a number on a piece of paper and declaring it currency? It's an amusing speculation, but really really unlikely to be actually attempted.

Edited, Jan 7th 2013 2:21pm by gbaji
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#28 Jan 07 2013 at 4:40 PM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:
Having said all that, I don't think it'll fly legally. We all know it's just a loophole. The law clearly was intended to place a limit on government debt. Period. Making a coin out of a material not directly specified in the law is pretty iffy. Can I make a coin out of air and just say it's in the box? How is that different than just writing a number on a piece of paper and declaring it currency? It's an amusing speculation, but really really unlikely to be actually attempted.

Unlikely to be attempted but the former head of the Mint thinks it'd be legal:
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But for what it's worth, the guy who was in charge of the U.S. Mint when the original law providing for the minting of such a coin was passed told me he thinks Nadler's proposal is perfectly legal.

"My understanding of how this all works suggests that this is a viable alternative," said Philip Diehl, a former chief of staff to the late Texas congressman Lloyd Bentsen, who was head of the U.S. Mint from 1994-2000.

Diehl tried to make the Mint function more like a business, and saw an opportunity in the worldwide market for platinum bullion coins. (The gold bullion coins fashioned by the Mint are not produced at the preferred purity for the worldwide gold trade, Diehl said, making them a tough sell on the international market.)

Diehl planned to conduct extensive market research, focusing in particular on the hot market for platinum in Japan, and wanted legislation that would allow him to react quickly to those results. The Treasury Department, wary of its bureaus making their own friends on the Hill, was "decidedly unenthusiastic" about the legislation, Diehl said, but he worked closely with Republican Rep. Mike Castle, who was chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee at the time, and eventually got the bill through the Republican-controlled House with what Diehl called a "blank check."

"One of the ironies in this story is that a G.O.P. Congress passed the legislation over the objections of a Democratic Treasury, and now, today, Treasury may well be in a position to use the law as leverage to neutralize the G.O.P.'s threat to hold the debt limit hostage," he said.
[...]
Diehl said he thought it could be used "as a backstop," and that it appeared to be on more firm legal ground than the 14th Amendment.

"From everything I know about this, it is possible," he said. "Now, is it likely? I think it's highly unlikely to happen. It just looks so ridiculous for the major economic power in the world to produce a trillion-dollar coin in order to balance its books. But is that any more ridiculous than the country being held hostage over default? I think not."

"This coin thing could be done quickly—over and done with it, and I just don't think there's any legal basis for a challenge for it," he added
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#29 Jan 07 2013 at 6:10 PM Rating: Default
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Jophiel wrote:
gbaji wrote:
Having said all that, I don't think it'll fly legally. We all know it's just a loophole. The law clearly was intended to place a limit on government debt. Period. Making a coin out of a material not directly specified in the law is pretty iffy. Can I make a coin out of air and just say it's in the box? How is that different than just writing a number on a piece of paper and declaring it currency? It's an amusing speculation, but really really unlikely to be actually attempted.

Unlikely to be attempted but the former head of the Mint thinks it'd be legal:


Yes. Via a loophole that everyone knows is a loophole and everyone knows violates the intent of the law itself. Hence, my statement about it not being able to fly legally. My understanding is that you'd still have to get congress to authorize the minting of the coins, so it's not really about what the law says, but what congress will allow that matters. That such a thing would not directly violate other previously passed legislation limiting what congress can do in terms of spending and debt doesn't mean that it changes anything substantially. Congress could just raise the debt ceiling instead, so it's hardly the useful loophole that some are making it out to be.
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#30 Jan 07 2013 at 6:12 PM Rating: Excellent
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gbaji wrote:
Yes. Via a loophole that everyone knows is a loophole and everyone knows violates the intent of the law itself. Hence, my statement about it not being able to fly legally.

If it's a "loophole" it is in fact legal, a point you make pains to state any time talk of tax loopholes comes up.

You need Congressional permission to mint gold and silver coinage, not platinum. The whole point of the legislation Diehl was discussing was that it gave the Mint the "blank check" to mint platinum coins directly. Which is why this little "what if" always involves platinum coins -- it's not just for added panache.
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31 U.S.C. 5112(k) as originally enacted by Public Law 104-208 in 1996:

The Secretary may mint and issue bullion and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.

In 2000, the word "bullion" was replaced with "platinum bullion coins."

You're welcome to your knee-jerk opinion and all and I won't try and change it but I'm personally more interested in the opinion of the former head of the Mint who was instrumental in passing the law in the first place.

Edited, Jan 7th 2013 6:23pm by Jophiel
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#31 Jan 07 2013 at 7:15 PM Rating: Excellent
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Hold on here... has no one considered what coin collectors would be willing to pay for one of only 16 USA trillion dollar coins ever minted in the history of the world?

If the coins were "put into circulation" in mint condition collector's boxes, they might actually be SOLD. Two laws would need to be passed to safety the USA against them being used against it. Firstly, no one, by law, would be obliged to supply change for a $1 trillion coin. Secondly, only individual people, not corporations or nations, would be allowed to own a $1 trillion coin.

This could be the ultimate status symbol for the wealthy in the world, even if they didn't dare display one in their house.
If banks were allowed to hold them, they could even be banked in an emergency, and that trillion dollars enter back into general circulation, because "real money" had been used to purchase it in the first place.

Edited, Jan 7th 2013 8:19pm by Aripyanfar
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#32 Jan 07 2013 at 7:19 PM Rating: Excellent
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Aripyanfar wrote:
Hold on here... has no one considered what coin collectors would be willing to pay for one of only 16 USA trillion dollar coins ever minted in the history of the world?

If the coins were "put into circulation" in mint condition collector's boxes, they might actually be SOLD.

Unless they were sold for over a trillion dollars each, it would be more productive for their intended benefit to be deposited directly into the treasury. Just pretend that they sold for the princely sum of 100 million bucks a piece (ridiculous, but let's pretend). So now instead of having $16 trillion to hedge against the debt, you have... $1.6 billion. Yay?

The other issue is that the whole exercise is intended to be an end-run around a recalcitrant Congress who doesn't want to pay their own bills. Asking them to pass legislation regarding these coins would sort of defeat the purpose.
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#33 Jan 07 2013 at 7:21 PM Rating: Excellent
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Oh, I intended them to be sold for their face value. If selling trillion dollar coins in mint condition is too unlikely, I don't see why the scheme couldn't work nearly as well with billion dollar coins.

I mean, think of all the multibillionaires out there. Especially all the multibillionaires with the bulk of their money stashed in "invisible" money Havens. Make the coin artwork sublimely beautiful enough, and you should be able to sell at face value coins WELL over a billion each. As I said: Status symbol. When you get over a certain level of wealth, it's very hard not to just drop some money into status symbols, since you aren't going to notice any difference to your budget.

Unless you are Warren Buffet.

Edited, Jan 7th 2013 8:27pm by Aripyanfar
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#34 Jan 07 2013 at 7:24 PM Rating: Excellent
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According to Forbes' list of the richest people in the world, the top twenty global billionaires have a combined net worth of $634 billion.

We're gonna need more billionaires.
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#35 Jan 07 2013 at 7:30 PM Rating: Good
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Ok, so you might only be able to wipe off $500 billion that way ^-^. I think that, like when Australia introduced the GST, a lot of unexpected money would come out of the woodwork to purchase such things. I think some Asians in particular would find the coins appealing.

The Oz GST taxes 10% of every non food item purchased. Strangely, it makes up 30% of total tax revenue collected by the government each year.

Edited, Jan 7th 2013 8:37pm by Aripyanfar
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#36 Jan 07 2013 at 7:37 PM Rating: Default
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Jophiel wrote:
gbaji wrote:
Yes. Via a loophole that everyone knows is a loophole and everyone knows violates the intent of the law itself. Hence, my statement about it not being able to fly legally.

If it's a "loophole" it is in fact legal, a point you make pains to state any time talk of tax loopholes comes up.


I didn't say it was illegal. I said that it's no more feasible than simply increasing the debt ceiling in the first place.

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You need Congressional permission to mint gold and silver coinage, not platinum.


It's not the minting of the coins that is the issue, but the issuance of the coins in a given denomination as "real US currency". The mint can make platinum coins and sell them on the platinum coin market all it wants. They do this with collectible coins all the time btw. But I've seen nothing to suggest that said coins count as "US currency" without congressional action. And for said coins to be able to be used as described, they must count as US currency.

Otherwise, you're just taking X dollars worth of platinum, spending money making them into coins, and then selling them as collectibles (with real precious metal value) on the market. Which doesn't accomplish what folks are proposing.

Quote:
The whole point of the legislation Diehl was discussing was that it gave the Mint the "blank check" to mint platinum coins directly. Which is why this little "what if" always involves platinum coins -- it's not just for added panache.


It has as much legal weight as Ron Paul insisting that paper money isn't real because it's not minted coin (in silver or gold). Do you see how what can be minted as coin isn't the same as what can be used as legal currency (much less how much legal currency there can be)? We're basically talking about a funny semantic loophole in the legislation which technically could allow for such a thing, but in practical terms it doesn't really matter because the steps required to actually do so would be as difficult as what you're trying to avoid.


Remember, we're talking about allowing congress to incur more debt than they are allowed to by law. I'm not sure that the loophole regarding minting of coins really applies in this case. I suppose if we already had minted platinum US currency in existing denominations (which we don't), the loophole would allow those coins to be used in this manner. But the "loophole" hasn't been closed precisely because we don't currently have any US currency issued in platinum coins. We only require the debt ceiling laws to apply to forms of coin and paper that are currently used as US currency. Since we don't issue US currency in platinum, it's not a problem.

Edited, Jan 7th 2013 5:48pm by gbaji
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#37 Jan 07 2013 at 7:48 PM Rating: Default
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Aripyanfar wrote:
Ok, so you might only be able to wipe off $500 billion that way ^-^. I think that, like when Australia introduced the GST, a lot of unexpected money would come out of the woodwork to purchase such things. I think some Asians in particular would find the coins appealing.


It wont wipe out anything though. I think this is a point a lot of people are getting confused about. In order for that $500B in coins to be worth $500B, one of two things has to be true:

1. The innate market value of the coins themselves is $500B. Meaning you'd need to spend $500B in precious metals/minting/whatever to make it worth that much collectively to investors.

2. The coins are issued as actual legal currency with a stamped value. So you could spend $1M making coins, with a combined printed value of $500B, thus making them always worth at least $500B collectively.


Under condition 1, the government would have to spend some function of money near that which is collected. If it doesn't, no one will value the coins that much in the first place. So you might make some profit off selling collectible coins, but not that much.

Under condition 2, the government would have to incur an amount of debt issuing the coins equal to the total printed value of the coins ($500B in this case). The government borrows the money from the Fed to do this, so it's really no different than issuing T-bills (which it already does and is likely a much better deal for the investors than the coins would be).


Neither condition wipes out anything, debt or otherwise. And that's also not the goal here. The goal is to try to borrow more money than the debt ceiling allows. I don't think that they can really do this without going through just as many legislative hoops as it would require to just raise the debt ceiling in the first place. We're not really talking about a hard legal issue in the first place. It's just an arbitrarily system designed more or less to make congress and our government look bad when it borrows too much money. In theory, it's no harder to increase the debt ceiling from a legislative point of view than it was to spend the money requiring us to raise the debt ceiling in the first place. It's just something to remind folks that we're going more in debt is all.
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#38 Jan 07 2013 at 7:53 PM Rating: Excellent
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Lance Armstrong on the obverse, with the reverse depicting a Bald Eagle crapping on a Friedman treatise on Monetarism - the obvious choice.

Your legislature will need to take measures to prevent it appearing on an IGN site, where it would be listed as having the equivalent value of 300 years GDP of Jiangxi province.

Nexa



As an excuse to execute Lance Armstrong, it has merit.
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#39 Jan 07 2013 at 8:46 PM Rating: Excellent
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I'd think portability would be a major issue theft wise. Sure, no one is going to knock over fort Knox for the gold, how would you carry it off? but a single platinum coin worth a trillion dollars to the bearer? U.S. soil or no, i can think of more than a few outfits that would try it for that amount of return.
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#40 Jan 07 2013 at 9:07 PM Rating: Decent
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Dread Lörd Kaolian wrote:
I'd think portability would be a major issue theft wise. Sure, no one is going to knock over fort Knox for the gold, how would you carry it off? but a single platinum coin worth a trillion dollars to the bearer? U.S. soil or no, i can think of more than a few outfits that would try it for that amount of return.


Who would you sell it to though?
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#41 Jan 07 2013 at 10:12 PM Rating: Excellent
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China. They need something to store in their nuke tunnels.
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#42 Jan 08 2013 at 12:28 AM Rating: Excellent
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gbaji wrote:
It's not the minting of the coins that is the issue, but the issuance of the coins in a given denomination as "real US currency". The mint can make platinum coins and sell them on the platinum coin market all it wants. They do this with collectible coins all the time btw. But I've seen nothing to suggest that said coins count as "US currency" without congressional action.

They count as U.S. currency when the US government mints them at a set denomination. Maybe you're confused about what the US Mint does. Even those collector sets and commemorative coin sets are legal currency (just worth more as collector's items than their face value). You won't find a coin produced by the Mint that isn't legal tender for its face value.

The sole difference with the platinum coins is that, rather than personally proscribing what denominations and designs the Mint will use as it does for gold and silver coins, Congress previously legislated that the Mint could produce platinum coins "...in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary [of the Treasury], in the Secretary’s discretion..." wishes to produce. The law was intended to give the Mint the flexibility to corner the platinum coin market without having to go to Congress every time, not to produce coins for circulation but there's no language preventing it either. Of course, these coins wouldn't be "for circulation" anyway.

Quote:
Quote:
The whole point of the legislation Diehl was discussing was that it gave the Mint the "blank check" to mint platinum coins directly. Which is why this little "what if" always involves platinum coins -- it's not just for added panache.
It has as much legal weight as Ron Paul insisting that paper money isn't real because it's not minted coin (in silver or gold).

Ron Paul runs the Treasury now or something? Oh, wait, you just grabbed a random guy who had no actual connection to the physical production of money in the US and said he was the same as the guy who was actually responsible for producing US coinage and that their knowledge of their respective spheres was identical. Got it.

I'm not saying it's a good idea and I don't see it ever happening but your reasons why it couldn't happen are pretty deeply based in you just not knowing what you're talking about.



Edited, Jan 8th 2013 12:30am by Jophiel
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#43 Jan 08 2013 at 8:17 AM Rating: Excellent
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a single platinum coin worth a trillion dollars to the bearer?

"Worth" how? This isn't a Nicholas Cage movie. Treasury isn't going to say "oh golly, you got our coin fair and square, here's your $1,000,000,000,000. " They're going to shoot you in the face and laugh about it. They have guys with guns, you know. A lot of them.
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#44 Jan 08 2013 at 8:27 AM Rating: Excellent
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I'd see that movie. Especially if it ended with a good face-shooting.
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#45 Jan 08 2013 at 8:52 AM Rating: Excellent
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"Worth" how? This isn't a Nicholas Cage movie. Treasury isn't going to say "oh golly, you got our coin fair and square, here's your $1,000,000,000,000. " They're going to shoot you in the face and laugh about it. They have guys with guns, you know. A lot of them.


Sure, if some individual tried to redeam it. but a large enough government that may or may not particularily like the U.S. but has enough guns of their own to back something up that wants to redeam it? might be a bigger problem.
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#46 Jan 08 2013 at 9:25 AM Rating: Excellent
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Dread Lörd Kaolian wrote:
Sure, if some individual tried to redeam it. but a large enough government that may or may not particularily like the U.S. but has enough guns of their own to back something up that wants to redeam it? might be a bigger problem.

Why? It's obviously stolen so the government has no interest in tendering stolen property. Like I said, it's like the Depression era gold coins that were never intended for release. You try and sell one today and the government just seizes it and tips their hat. Perhaps we couldn't physically seize the platinum coin from China or N. Korea or whoever but we're certainly not going to accept it as tender either.

Even some pretend Hollywood scenario where the evil dictator has strapped Michelle Obama to a nuclear warhead aimed at Washington DC, it would be a stupid move since the government paying out a trillion bucks cash would immediately collapse the economy and make those trillion dollars worthless. If you just wanted to fuck up the country, you may as well skip the heist and just threaten to launch the missiles unless the government gives you $1 Trillion. The coin won't lend any extra credibility to your threats.
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#47 Jan 08 2013 at 10:10 AM Rating: Excellent
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Sure, if some individual tried to redeam it. but a large enough government that may or may not particularily like the U.S. but has enough guns of their own to back something up that wants to redeam it? might be a bigger problem.


Oh, you mean if a nation state capable of invading the US and forcing the government to redeem a platinum coin decided it would only invade under the condition that it had a tiny platinum coin as a pretense?

Yes, that would be a big problem.
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I said it a little nicer Smiley: laugh
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#49 Jan 08 2013 at 10:18 AM Rating: Good
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Smasharoo wrote:

Sure, if some individual tried to redeam it. but a large enough government that may or may not particularily like the U.S. but has enough guns of their own to back something up that wants to redeam it? might be a bigger problem.


Oh, you mean if a nation state capable of invading the US and forcing the government to redeem a platinum coin decided it would only invade under the condition that it had a tiny platinum coin as a pretense?

Yes, that would be a big problem.

I'm not so sure the profit margin would be there. A trillion dollars doesn't go as far as it used too.
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#50 Jan 08 2013 at 11:01 AM Rating: Excellent
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Jophiel wrote:
According to Forbes' list of the richest people in the world, the top twenty global billionaires have a combined net worth of $634 billion.

We're gonna need more billionaires.


And that's never going to happen if you keep insisting on raising their taxes. Smiley: disappointed
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#51 Jan 08 2013 at 11:46 AM Rating: Excellent
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someproteinguy wrote:
Jophiel wrote:
According to Forbes' list of the richest people in the world, the top twenty global billionaires have a combined net worth of $634 billion.

We're gonna need more billionaires.


And that's never going to happen if you keep insisting on raising their taxes. Smiley: disappointed


I'd be more sympathetic if we could get them to pay taxes to begin with. We need to shut down more offshore banks offering tax evasion.
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