The Federal Reserve has released the newest iteration of the $100 bill, and it’s a remake that may have the added bonus of sticking it to North Korea.
The revamped note features a “3-D security ribbon” running vertically along the left side of Ben Franklin’s face, with liberty bells that turn into 100s.
As you move the bill side to side, the numbers move with you. The new $100 bill also has a liberty bell in an inkwell that shifts in color as you tilt it.
These changes add to other longstanding security features, like microscopic text woven into Franklin’s colonial collar and bordering the golden feather.
So how does North Korea fit in? Counterfeiting, of course.
“The new design incorporates security features that make it easier to authenticate, but harder to replicate,” Federal Reserve Board Gov. Jerome H. Powell said.
“As the new note transitions into daily transactions, the user-friendly security features will allow the public to much more easily verify its authenticity.”
Counterfeiters, whose work has gotten easier as desktop publishing software and printers have gotten more powerful, have had a leg up for years.
North Korea, all but quarantined from the global economy and isolated by sanctions and other measures, counterfeits goods as a means of revenue generation.
This helps to build a “palace economy” to ensure the loyalty of North Korea’s elites, as it basically has no other decent means for generating revenue.
North Korean forging prowess is so advanced that American law enforcement officials have dubbed the fake, “nearly perfect” $100 bills “supernotes.”
According to a 2009 Congressional Research Service report, at least $45 million in supernotes of North Korean origin have been detected in circulation.
Pyongyang may earn between $15-25 million a year from counterfeiting.
North Korean diplomats get the bills into circulation, lugging suitcases packed with bad money to their embassies and spending them in small, innocuous amounts.
Somewhere, the world’s smallest violin is playing a sad song for Kim Jong Un.