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Remarks by Chairman Alan Greenspan
On the announcement of new currency design
At the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, D.C.
May 20, 1998

Thank you, very much, Mr. Secretary. I needn't tell you that the Federal Reserve is quite pleased to be part of this event.

As many of you know, the Federal Reserve has the responsibility of putting currency into circulation through the banking system.

We are most gratified with the successful introduction of the new $100 and $50 notes. To date, about two thirds of all $100 bills and about a third of all $50 bills are the new Series 1996 notes.

Banks obtain the currency they need for their customers from their district Federal Reserve Banks, and they dispose of surplus currency by returning it to their Reserve Banks.

In this process the Reserve Banks also determine whether each note is in good enough condition to be recirculated and to verify each note for genuineness.

Approximately two thirds of all notes received by the Reserve Banks in incoming deposits are fit enough to be re-circulated.

The remaining third -- which are worn out or soiled -- are destroyed and replaced by new notes obtained from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

The new $20s -- the third note in the series -- will be ready for circulation this fall.

Because of the number of $20 notes in circulation -- the newer bills will be phased in over a period of time and will replace the older $20 notes as the older notes become soiled or worn out.

Since the average circulation life of a $20 bill is only about two years, we expect that within a few years a high proportion of the $20s in circulation will be of the new series.

The Reserve Banks and their branches around the country provide currency to banks and other depositories in their territories as these institutions need it.

Consequently, not all bank customers will be seeing the new $20 notes immediately.

I want to assure you that old notes will not be recalled or devalued. All existing notes will continue to be legal tender.

The United States has always honored its currency at its full face value, no matter how old.

Our currency is trusted and accepted by people throughout the world. Because of this special status, the protection of our currency from counterfeiting has long been a priority.

... So, rest assured that the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System remain firmly committed to that goal.

And now, Mr. Secretary, I believe we are ready to introduce the redesigned currency.

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1998 Speeches