Here's How The Government Would Actually Make A $1 Trillion Coin To Avert A Debt Ceiling Crisis

rosa rios treasurer

Photo: Wikimedia

Lots of people are questioning whether minting a trillion dollar coin could solve the country’s debt ceiling crisis.Specifically, people are intrigued by a law which says that the Treasury has the ability to create coins of any denomination out of platinum, and use that to fund the government.

The debate over the economics and legality of this option is being hotly debated.

But let’s take a step back. How do you literally create a new coin.

We put together images from a Science Channel and History Channel special on how our coins get made.

We hope you find it instructive.

In most cases, Congress would have to authorise any new coin denomination.

The law was not written with debt resolution in mind, but it nevertheless remains on the books. So let's do it!

First, Sec. Geithner sends a memo to Rosa Rios, the Treasurer of the United States.

She would solicit designs for the coin from artists at the U.S. Mint, the agency charged with producing coins.

The mint operates production facilities in Denver, West Point, San Francisco and Philadelphia. The facilities look just like any other manufacturing plant — except these literally print money.

At the facility, the approved design would be recreated on a computer.

The designs would then get re-printed and handed to the engravers, who would make giant molds of them on clay.

The molds would then be put onto these machines, called Janvier reducing lathes.

They work like giant key-making machines, tracing the engraving ...

...onto a much smaller metal surface.

Except it would take about 12 hours.

Here's what it looks like afterward. But when you're dealing with stamping stuff, you have to think about reverse images.

So the component created by the lathe (the master die) would get stamped into another die, which starts out pointed (and gets heated) to take a better copy of the transfer image.

The final step would start with a sheet of the coin's metal alloy, in our case platinum.

The quirk in our case would be deciding the exact dimensions, since there's no statutory precedent for minting the $1TC. It would basically be a fiat choice of Rios'. The heaviest thing the Mint's ever produced was a 33-gram $50 gold coin.

Here's what they look like.

And now, the final punch: a die containing the obverse image in counter-relief...

...hammers the blank into a stationary die containing the reverse image.

The finished product...

...Which in our case might look something like this...

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