The battle for the $100 bill is spilling into the public sphere: A conversation that has taken place behind closed doors is becoming a major point of monetary contention.
Earlier this week, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers wrote a call to "kill the $100 bill" in The Washington Post's Wonkblog. Claiming that large-denomination bills provide a "boon to corruption and crime," Summers goes so far as to suggest "a global agreement to stop issuing notes worth more than say $50 or $100."
Summers based his analysis on a recent paper from Harvard's Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government entitled "Making it Harder for the Bad Guys: The Case for Eliminating High Denomination Notes." Authored by Peter Sands, a senior fellow at the center, the paper says that changes to currency issuance can disrupt the "business model" of tax evaders, criminals, terrorists and those engaged in bribery.
In essence, Sands argues that "bad guys" will have a harder time moving money if it takes up more physical space because it's available only in smaller denominations. Others argue, however, that eliminating the $100 bill — or the 500 euro note, as is currently being considered — would simply induce criminals to find another mechanism for storing and transporting wealth.