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By Norman Colton

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7 Even though the birth of standardized coinage is something we now recognize as a transformative technology, it took almost eight decades to radiate outside a few neighboring Greek states. The real explosion in coinage came after another technological breakthrough, as the Lydians learned to separate electrum into pure gold and silver. This allowed King Croesus to stamp out pure coins in either metal. ” As Lydian coins spread in trade, they were imitated elsewhere, most importantly by Athens, which had the good fortune of access to silver in mines in Attica to the south.

The Federal Reserve knows the quantity of all bills in each generation of issuance, say, before and after the embedded security stripe. If the Federal Reserve districts find that a very large share of bills returning to their offices are of the 44 • Chapter 3 latest generation, then the inference is that a lot of the earlier bills must have emigrated (the calculation is a bit more involved, but that is the gist of it). It is termed the biometric method after the work of Danish biologist Carl Pederson, who invented the idea in the late nineteenth century of tagging a small number of fish or birds and seeing what percentage of subsequently captured fish or birds was tagged.

That is more than $800 per person in what is still a low middle-income country. THE MASSIVE QUANTITIES OF CASH CIRCULATING Indeed, the most remarkable fact about paper currency is just how much of it is floating around worldwide, on a scale it is hard to get one’s head around. Even more stunning is that the vast bulk of the world currency supply is in large-denomination notes that ordinary citizens seldom see or use, including the United States’ $100 bill, Japan’s 10,000-yen note (about $93 at present), the Eurozone’s 500-euro note (about $570), Switzerland’s 1,000-franc note (about $1,035), and a host of cousins from other countries.

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