Shadow Economy Fuels Doubling of $100 Bills in Circulation

Use of smaller denominations has actually declined


The U.S. government printed 3 billion $100 bills in the 12 months ended Oct. 31, according to a Tuesday note from  Nicholas Colas, ConvergEx Group chief market strategist.

That's 100% more than the average production of $100 bills over the past 5 years, and 50% more C-notes than $1 bills printed in the same period, according to Colas.

Hard cash holds a special place in global finance as the preferred mechanism for drug, illegal arms and tax evasion transactions, Colas notes and $100 bills are the preferred denomination. While the use of smaller denomination bills has fallen in recent years with increased use of credit and debit cards, demand for $100 bills appears to be growing.