Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Touring the Federal Reserve

We had a fascinating tour of the San Francisco Federal Reserve building, courtesy of a graduate business class and their instructor, who invited us along.

Many of the questions were about economic issues that I am unfamiliar with, but now am inspired to learn more about. They have a fascinating display of historic money dating back to the War of Independence and including items like money that represented an amount of gold flakes from the gold rush years. The big picture of 235+ years of US currency was fascinating, watching it evolve from more individual and then state-issued notes to the federal system that we take for granted.

We saw a $100,000 bill! Never in circulation. And $5,000 and $10,000 bills, which were in circulation, though they haven't been printed since the 1930s. We learned that the average dollar's lifecycle is 22 months. We got to see the vaults and literally more money than anyone can imagine - a deep room full of carts, each cart full of bills that if containing $100 bills is worth $46 million. It made the money that we are so pleased to see when we open our wallets seem very worthless, as the context was devoid of the work that those bills represent. Leaving with some of the money that they are charged with shredding reinforced that.

Fascinating day; thank you Dr. Hua.  And Lillian for your company!


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