So why do we keep printing $100 bills? As with any valuable export, we worry that if the C-note ceased to be available to foreign criminals and dictators, another paper currency would take its place. The leading candidate would be the 500 Euro note, which criminals have reportedly nicknamed “the Bin Laden” because its compactness makes it so convenient to hide ill-gotten gains in. Granted, the Euro is having a bumpy ride at the moment. But it will come back, and when it does, it will stand ready to take the dollar’s place wherever and however it can. Indeed, it’s not inconceivable that, should American presses stop spitting out $100 bills, the 500 Euro note might one day replace the Benjamin as the preferred currency of America’s criminal class.
But that doesn’t seem a particularly noble reason to keep printing the damned things. Back in 1969, the U.S. government started worrying about the sketchy doings of people who trafficked in $500 bills. You know what it did? It stopped making them.