Larry Summers explains why the $100 bill needs to be retired

100 dollar bill retired

The $100 bill should be put to rest according to former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

Researchers at Harvard business school recently argued in a study that eliminating large denomination bills would have little downside for legitimate commerce, but would make it much harder for illegal enterprises to break the law.

The report says the $100 bill, 500 euro note, UK’s 50 pound note, and the 1,000 Swiss franc note, should be brought to end of life.

“In certain circles the 500 euro note is known as the ‘Bin Laden’ [which] confirms the arguments against it,” Summers writes in column in the Washington Post on Tuesday. “Illicit activities are facilitated when a million dollars weighs 2.2 pounds as with the 500 euro note rather than more than 50 pounds as would be the case if the $20 bill was the high denomination note.”

Summers admits that pulling all bills from circulation probably won’t happen, but he argues that “a moratorium on printing new high denomination notes would make the world a better place.”

The $100 bill is the second most used bill in US circulation, behind only the $1 billion. Despite it’s larger size, it is 25% more common than the $20 bill, according to the Federal Reserve.

The number of $100 bills has increased by 350% in the past 20 years.

Nearly 80% of the $1.4 trillion of US currency in circulation is in $100 bills and much of that money is held outside the United States.

Summers says the greatest objections to dropping the large denomination bills come from European countries.

“Because the Germans were committed to having a high denomination note, the issue was never seriously debated in international forums,” he said, recalling when the European currency was being designed in the last 1990s.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said this week that the central bank is considering dropping the note.

Written by Lane Hanson

Lane Hanson is BusinessPundit's Economy Editor. He reports on major changes in the US and Global Economies.