Getting rid of big currency notes could help fight crime
Few Europeans use the 500-euro note, and most Americans rarely encounter the $100 bill. Yet hundreds of millions of these notes are in circulation around the world, where they are often used by drug cartels, corrupt politicians, terrorists and tax cheats to evade law enforcement. That’s why officials in Europe and elsewhere are proposing to end the printing of high-denomination bills.
Getting rid of big bills will make it harder for criminals to do business and make it easier for law enforcement to detect illicit activity. Consider this: a stack of 500-euro notes worth $1 million weighs just five pounds and can be carried in a small bag, whereas a pile of $20 bills worth the same amount would weigh 110 pounds and would be much more difficult to move around, according to a recent paper from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
The president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, recently said the bank is considering getting rid of the 500-euro note ($557), though the central bank plans to keep the 200-euro and 100-euro bills. Most Europeans never use the 500-euro note, and some retail stores in the eurozone do not even accept that bill.