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What would the trillion dollar coin look like?

The California state quarter issued in 2005, and designed by Garrett Burke.

Garrett Burke showing off his Quarterama business card at Marketplace studios. Click for bigger image.

Image of Quarterama: Ideas and Designs of America's State Quarters
Author: Garrett Burke
Publisher: Sunbelt Publications (2011)
Binding: Hardcover, pages

There’s been a lot of talk this month about the idea of a trillion dollar coin.  The idea is that the Treasury Department would make a $1 trillion dollar coin and deposit it at the Federal Reserve.  This would give the U.S enough money to pay off the mountain of debt the country is in.  But -- putting aside the fact that it's not really going to happen -- what would a new trillion dollar coin even look like? Who would be on it?

Coin designer Garrett Burke, who designed the 2005 John-Muir Yosemite California State Quarter gave his thoughts on how the coin would look.

“There’s no one person of the American government that I could say could represent it.  There is only one person I could say that could represent it, and that person is Charles Ponzi,” said Burke. “Or you could drill a hole in it, and that could be the hole that all the money is falling.”

Does the design of the coin even matter?

If a trillion dollar coin were to be minted, would it even matter how it looked as long it fixed America’s debt problem?  Burke said that design always matters and that coins are an important part of our national identity.

“Right inside the word coin is the word icon. A coin is a symbol. If you pick out any pocket change you have some representation of our daily life as citizens of the united states. The design of the coin, what it says, the mottos they really matter,” said Burke.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Garrett Burke showing off his Quarterama business card at Marketplace studios. Click for bigger image.

Image of Quarterama: Ideas and Designs of America's State Quarters
Author: Garrett Burke
Publisher: Sunbelt Publications (2011)
Binding: Hardcover, pages
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There is a much simpler way to do the same thing. The next time the Fed does a round of Q.E. they could buy back bonds out of the Social Security Trust Fund. Because the amount paid out to SS recipients each month is fixed, it has no immediate impact on inflation. It would be many years before the impact would be noticeable and it would buy time, just like this coin is supposed to do.

Trillion Dollar Coin. As crazy as it sounds, I am actually not against this, and here is why.

FUNCTIONALLY. It fixes the debt ceiling problem. And since it is the ceiling that is the problem and not the debt, this is a good thing. This would take the debt ceiling off the table. Both the House and the Senate could and would have to focus on passing a budget and not have to wrangle some sort of shitty deal that included the debt ceiling issue.

INSULATION. We would not have to issue out bonds and the such to foreign countries. Probably not accurate but I needed three points.

LEGACY. Barack Obama is the first president of “color.” But he didn’t build that, he was born that. Obamacare and gun bans will stick in the minds of this generation and fade quickly in the next one or two. Then, 100 years from now, history books will say of Barack Obama this, First president of color, or whatever term they are using at that time and thats about all. Maybe on sentence about OBL killing, but most likely not, that will be under the 9/11 page or the UBL article itself and will say nothing of who the president was when he was killed. It might say something about he was in office during the second “recession/depression” and that will be it. The presidents after Obama that will have to deal with the 3rd, 4th and 5th depressions and the Great Collapse and Great Reset and the Oil Wars and The Water Wars. They will all have more sentences than Obama. Now, think if he does this thing with the coin, and puts his face on it and makes it kinda like his campaign circle slogan thing and put the words Hope and Change on it. Talk about a legacy. Cesar, he ain’t just remembered for the salad. I get tingles down my leg just thinking about. Not only will that make the history books, but a photo of the coin will for sure be in there too. The debt ceiling will never again be an issue. Owing bazillions to other countries will be a thing of the past. I don’t see a down side. Make it so, and repeat as needed.

If you want to stop owing bazillions to other countries, you have to stop borrowing bazillions from other countries. But the only point of raising the debt ceiling is to allow *increased* borrowing. So your desires are in conflict.

And the debt *is* the problem. Even if the nation's credit card limit were raised to $2 gazillion, there would still be some actual limit to the amount other people would be willing to lend us, and every year we borrow another trillion dollars brings us closer to that limit. And if we get there, interest rates will skyrocket, with very bad effects. Right now, the president of Argentina can't take the country's presidential plane out of the country for fear that it will be repossessed. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-07/argentine-president-rents-880-0...

The Caesar salad guy *is* just remembered for that, pretty much. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_Cardini

A smirking Dick Cheney on one side. (perhaps, with a cardiologist in the background.)

The quote..."Deficits Don't Matter." on the other.

Dick Cheney! Of course!
Why didn't I think of that?

I like suggestion of George Bush, too! With a bag of money (labeled $13Billion / month) on the reverse.

The Titanic would be a great image to use on the Trillion Dollar coin - like the US economy - unsinkable!!

This discussion is ridiculous. Who cares what the coin would look like! The important point should be that we should fire anyone who thinks this is a good idea.

I really cant imagine how $1 trillion dollar coin look like. But I believe this is going to be costly. Coins are made of precious and luxurious metal and that would not make sense of any practicality at all. What we really need now is something that can lift up our economic status from financial turmoil. Can our government see what is really happening in the outside world? Everybody is facing a dilemma. They should figure out that we need "some cash" not any "chaotic coin" in the pocket. Indeed, it is truly important to be ready with extra cash, but most people cannot pay for to save cash when living payday to payday.

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There is truly only one man who has earned the honor of being on this trillion dollar defect-dodging coin - George W. Bush.

The practical problem with the coin idea is that $1 trillion is a *lot* of platinum. It's unlikely the US government has that much. At more than $50k/kg, it would make a cube more than 10 yards on a side.

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