When ponzi schemes such as Bernard Madoff’s are galore on Wall Street and when at least as much crisp cash is required out of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) as is the size of the US economy (about $15 trillion or 12 zeros after the number fifteen, an unimaginably large number) to achieve anemic recovery by “legally” bailing out Wall Street’s “financial innovation” (another ponzi scheme with the Federal Reserve’s blessing) in the name of Main Street, it may not be out of the realm of possibility for all Americans to want to get rich quick.
If every tax paying American gave every other tax paying American a penny can there be 145 million millionaires, each worth $1.45 million? This question of mine is an economics problem to teach the basics of economics, finance and investment to undergraduates, graduate students and practitioners alike of the productive capacity of fiat money at a time when the US Mint wants to dispense with the Lincoln penny because of inflation (and, I would add, because it is increasingly costing more money to manage, print and mint the nation’s finances, contrary to the definition of money).
That the penny minting, but not the penny, must be dispensed with is beyond doubt because a penny can be credited or debited in every financial transaction electronically. According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, at least 50 per cent of all consumer transactions take place using electronic means. This volume can be more in the near future, closing in on 100 per cent, similar to check processing, if the United States shifts out of paper and metal currencies to electronic money completely.
Electronic credits and debits in small amounts has been the source of consumer bank fraud because consumers do not realize small funds missing from or added to their accounts. Check book balancing to the penny is fast becoming a thing of the past in an age of electronic balance sheets of accounts.
When it is so convenient and trustworthy to give or take a penny, why cannot all Americans give each other a penny and get rich? The answer is simple: if they did so at the same time, every American needs $1.45 million to make every other American rich. However, if they did so at different times it is not out of the realm of possibility for all Americans to be worth at least $1.45 million merely out of mutual charity at some point in their lives.
This money can be worth much more if it is not charitable and those penny pinching donations, otherwise lost on sidewalks, couches and streets, could produce considerably more and sustainable prosperity for all when invested in a gainful manner that bears real meaning for real people.
Unfortunately, this a reality that is lost on Wall Street which has become used to more zeros than fewer next to the digits 1 though 9, from millions to billions to trillions, a practice which could soon render the dollar as (un)worthy as a penny.
No economist or financier would then pick up a dollar from the street just as they do not pick up a penny now.