Putting A Trillion Dollars Of Platinum In Perspective

Tyler Durden's picture

So you want a trillion dollar platinum coin? Ok: here are some facts:

  • Platinum has traditionally been the most valuable precious metal for one simple reason: it is rare.
  • It is so rare, that all the platinum ever mined could fit into a 25 cubic foot box.
  • The weight of that box comes out to just over 16 tons: this is how much platinum has been mined since the start of time.
  • A coin valued at $1 trillion and made out of platinum would, at today's price of $1557/ounce, weigh in at 642.3 million ounces.
  • 642.3 million ounces is also roughly 18 thousand tons, or about 1100 times more than all the platinum mined.

In other words, putting a coin that is worth $1 trillion in perspective to all the platinum ever mined, would look something like this:

Now, putting the sheer legal idiocy of the proposal aside, and CNBC's John Carney has written a good article about why it is indeed, legal idiocy, the simple reality is that for this retarded idea to work, there has to be some justifiability, or even remote credibility of the "legal tender" backing the value. Sadly as the chart above shows, there can't possibly be such justifiability.

Or can there?

Remember, as we said, the chart above is indicative of reality at today's prices. So if the Treasury plans on literally coming up with ridiculous laws, what is there to prevent it from merely coining a one ounce, or half an ounce, or one gram Platinum coin and assigning it the value of $1 trillion.

Sure it can. There is a problem with that, however: it is called currency devaluation and is also what FDR did with executive order 6102 when he confiscated America's gold - he basically devalued the US Dollar by well over half overnight (which, for all those curious, is the endgame in the current depression also, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it).

In other words, when one strips away with all the rhetoric, all the advocates of this insidiously stupid idea which gets a new life every time there is a debt ceiling crisis, are doing, is arguing for a massive devaluation of the dollar: because for the trillion dollar coin idea to be even remotely plausible, the price of Platinum, and by implication the entire precious metals complex, would have to go up by a factor of some 1,100.

It also means the value of the paper US currency would have to go down by 1,100.

Which, by the way, is precisely what all those who wish for the Fed to continue funding America's unprecedented spending binge, which can never be satisfied by taxes alone, are hoping for.

And of course, they will eventually get it.

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champagnesabre's picture

Geithner would probabaly get it stuck in a Pepsi machine.

alentia's picture

No worries.


100kg platinum coin + Art Work and minting costs (that will sure boom US service sector and reduce unemployment) will will make it $1T easy.

LeisureSmith's picture

Bullish for Catalytic Converter theft.

JohnFrodo's picture

sell the car keep the converter. I will make billons with my new detachable converter, you take it with you when you park.

orangegeek's picture

George Orwell had such insight.



NeedleDickTheBugFucker's picture

I guess I better up the insurance on my wife's engagement ring.

tl3659's picture

A 25 foot cube of platinum would weigh 418.5 tons not 16 tons.


foxenburg's picture

what a load of cock. 25 cu ft is less than a cubic yard. how anyone could be taken in by this bullshit is obviously testimony to "wall street analysis". zuid afrika and russia between them produce well over 100 tons. now, boys and girls, 100 tons x 2240 lbs x 16 oz = over 3,5 million ounces (troy, avoirdupois, whatever). god knows who else mines the stuff. god knows how much is stored. 


"The weight of that box comes out to just over 16 tons: this is how much platinum has been mined since the start of time"

NotApplicable's picture

Maybe Tyler was just giving you something irrelevant to rant about? o_O


Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Global production is roughly ~ 195 tonnes / year, although a lot of this is self-reported. That's compared to 2,560 tonnes of gold.


Or a ratio of 1:13.13, which considering the current spot price, either means gold is over-valued, or platinum is under-valued.



Although, please note: Tyler didn't get his facts wrong, his source did. It states:

  • The annual production of Platinum is about 130 tonnes.  While this seems like a substantial number, it pales in comparison when you realize that nearly 260 tonnes of steel are used in U.S. manufacturing operations daily.
  • All of the Platinum ever mined would barely fill a 25 cubic foot (7.6 cubic meter) box. The block would weigh over 16 tons.


Which is a bit of a paradox.

gwar5's picture

Actually I would like 16 platinum coins, pretty big -- but not too big -- so we can at least stamp $1 Trillliion each, but still carry them on one hand truck.


Then, we then give them all to the FED as 'payment in full,' throw all board members in jail, and shut down the Eccles building. Simultaneously, we move to confiscate all gold in Ft. Knox, NYC, and move it all to West Point via the 101st Airborne, and henceforth, print our own money. 


WarPony's picture

once upon a time, a Sovereign, Freeman of Character declared such and the ensuing ATF standoff was bullish.

Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus's picture

For what little it's worth, I think John Carney is wrong, and you are wrong - although it's incredibly cute that people would summon the argument that

the "...statute seems to represent an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority.." when we live in a world where the President issues signing statement and executive order and goes to war as he pleases, where there's no budget or audit of the fed [read your Article 1] and where, oh, say the Federal Reserve Act wasn't deemed an improper delegation of Congressional authority.

Actually - Article 1 Section 8 doesn't actually give congress the power to issue paper currency, only coin, but the legal tender cases have long established that the government does, in fact, have the power to do so  [I'd disagree/but agree - it's not forbidden, but not enumerated, but if it can establish by statute a quasi-public banking system that loans money into existence, it must have the power to do it itself, no?]



ANYWAY - think of it this way:  apparently, no one is upset by the lawfulness of the Federal Reserve Act.  And it seems abundantly clear the government can issue its own 'us notes' - as fiat - if it wishes.  The tickle is whether the treasury can mint a coin with that face value at all, or only with appropriate Congressional delegation.


It's worth knowing that when the original coinage act came into being, the us mint was part of the congress.  it was moved into the treasury, which is the executive branch, in the 1870s - so "delegation" becomes a problem from there....  but the Federal Reserve is really not part of any branch at all, and for most purposes is private... so how in the hell can people cry 'non-delegation' when the FRA of 1913 was the biggest delegation of power in the history of the galaxy>???


So - let's be clear - the Congress, without repealing the FRA could create an agency that could issue its own fiat.  Only Congress can dictate what is legal tender federally... as to whether Geithner can walk the coin over... look, apparently, since the New Deal, and certainly since Griswold and Roe - the Constitution only means what those in power want it to mean.  The NDAA was passed and prior similar stuff has been upheld.

The Constitution, do to power grabs and liberal notions of jurisprudence, is no longer the law of the land, but a sort fo fuzzy guideline. 


So yes, Virginia, the Treasury could mint it, I think, if and only if properly delegated which, Mr. Carney overlooks.... would be "to render payments to the Federal Reserve System in satisfaction of US government debts thereto.





Punchline - I look at this differently.  At a minimum, all the treasuries the federal reserves hold should be so payable.  It's fighting the private central bank fiat creation of money with us government fiat that extinguishes it.


Get it?


The problem, sure, is Congress would just borrow and spend more, but that aside - I think this is a power grab which Congress should make.  If the fed lends money into existence, backed by nothing, why cant We The People pay it out of existence?


Savvy, or am I just talking crazytalks?


tickhound's picture

I like it.  Hell, give 'em a $50 Tril coin and tell them to keep the change.

NotApplicable's picture

Crazytalk. Like all laws, they're merely words on paper to be interpreted as desired by those in power. That those out of power may interpret them differently is wholly immaterial (well, other than for divide and conquer purposes).

Besides, it's all based on the illegitimate pretext that we are wards of the state anyway (which is a form of enslavement I've yet to consent to). Once you accepted rule by the barrel of a gun, words on paper mean little except to rubes and the criminals who manipulate them.

tickhound's picture

Ah yes... But too principled for a thread of this nature.

jtlien's picture

If platinum traded on its rarety vs gold it would be $10k + and once.

And AngloPlats with 100 million ounces of revserves of the stuff would be the WORLDS MOSTundervalued stock...

Orange Pekoe's picture

It's all backed by willful ignorance.

NotApplicable's picture

Otherwise known as political capital.

Frastric's picture

In order to hasten the demise of this insane financial system, EVERYONE must support the trillion dollar platinum coin!

Stockmonger's picture

Platinum is far too valuable.  The trillion dollar coin should be made of pressed bull shit.

notadouche's picture

Oddly enough the barbarous metal apparently can't have the same affect as platnum.  Why is that again?

sitenine's picture

It's not about the coin, it's about skirting the rule of law, or whatever is left of it anyway. Also, BI Joe has been pushing this idea hard lately, which automatically makes a stupid idea. Come on people! What is money? Seriously, WTF? Does anyone even have the slightest clue what-so-ever anymore??? A means of exchange, right? Yeah, that's what I thought. It's not though! These bankster criminals have turned money into wealth! But only in the MIND! There is NOTHING backing up any of this wealth. NOTHING! Pathetic, that stupid fiat hoarding fucks will only realize this when they try to spend that shit covered paper on wealth that IS NOT THERE! /rant

goose3's picture

I'm having trouble reconciling these two statements, taken from the link above:


  • The annual production of Platinum is about 130 tonnes.  While this seems like a substantial number, it pales in comparison when you realize that nearly 260 tonnes of steel are used in U.S. manufacturing operations daily.
  • All of the Platinum ever mined would barely fill a 25 cubic foot (7.6 cubic meter) box. The block would weigh over 16 tons.

champagnesabre's picture

Why bother wasting $1600 bucks on an ounce of platinum? They could just make a nice paper $1,000,000,000,000 bill for free.

TerminalDebt's picture

You don't need to print anything, they already have some they printed in Zimbabwe a few years ago, you can have them for free.

champagnesabre's picture

@debt..... aaaaah, thanks for reminding me! I have a Zim $100 trillion bill that I got on e-bay for 2 bucks.

I'll fed-Ex it to Timmy G in the morning.

Our troubles will be over Monday everyone... Tim will have an extra $84 trillion left over after he pays the debt.

Screw the Obamaphones.... iPads for everyone!

laboratorymike's picture

Wow! Inflation is eating away the value of Zimbabwe dollars fast, I had to pay $4 for mine a year ago!

goodrich4bk's picture

Because it would take a separate act of Congress to approve such a denomination.  The highest denomination now is $500 or $1,000 (I don't know because I've never seen either one).  In contrast, Congress already passed a law authorizing the Treasury to issue platinum bullion coins in WHATEVER denomination the Treasury Secretary, in his DISCRETION, deems "APPROPRITE".

In other words, the platinum coin idea is a way to avoid Congressional approval to pay the government's debts if Congress refuses to raise the ceiling in March.  Yes, it would likely damage the government's credibiliy, but so will a refusal by Congress to authorize the payment of bills Congress has already incurred.

As I see it, the idea is no less "silly" than refusing to raise the debt ceiling.  If our Republican House doesn't want to spend, all they have to do is stop spending because our Constitution requires that ALL spending bills originate in the House.  Authorizing spending and then later refusing to allow the government either to raise taxes or borrow to pay for that spending is far more irrational that simply issuing more coin fiat.

In short, the coin idea is a message to the House that its ploy will not stop spending.  The only thing that will stop spending is to stop spending.  IMHO, that would be progress.

delivered's picture

This article and comments basically sums it all up. To even have this idea presented and openly discussed (whether being somewhat serious or completely a joke) indicates a complete and total act of disperation in an attempt to solve a problem that can only be solved in one of two ways. The problem is too much debt and not enough underlying assets to support the debt. The solution is either default or hyper-inflate.

Ten years ago it would be unthinkable for the Fed to undertake outright monetization of US Debt (which it does openly in today's markets). And today, somehow a trillion dollar coin is going to be used to help solve the problem? Hard to believe a so called developed, modern, and forward thinking economy such as the US has to revert to the oldest trick in the book to keep their business open. Issuing IOUs that can never be repaid.

And I thought Disneyland (and well Las Vegas also) was the only place of dreams and fantasies. Hard to believe the US has actually reached this point.

ziggy59's picture

So, since when have crazy shit ideas not been utilized by these poor excuses for leaders?

The Navigator's picture

Everyone of these articles is an individual tree, add them all up and you got a forest or macro-view that says it's over, it's all done.

debtor of last resort's picture

The 2014 rumour is: copper. So that people will diversify, put money in other metals (whatever) to prevent physical shortages in silver for example. Watch your back, only silver&gold!

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

 Why wait for 2014?

U.S. regulators have finally approved JPMorgan Chase & Co's controversial plan to launch a copper exchange-traded fund backed by actual stockpiles of the metal, dealing a blow to end users who fear the product will wreak havoc on prices.[17th Dec source]

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission set a new and final deadline of Feb. 22 to rule on the BlackRock fund. It said it needed more time to consider the issues surrounding the iShares Copper Trust, which along with JPMorgan’s fund has ignited fears among copper fabricators about their impact on prices and supplies.[source]

KingTut's picture

WHOA Dude!  Got innumeracy problems going here.

Annual mine production in 2010 was 192 tons.  So we obviously have produced A LOT more than 16 tons.  Your 25 ft cube weighs 9,490 tons, not 16!

So that represents about 50 years of today's production, which seems about right, given that heavy industrial usage is relatively recent.  However, This IDIOTIC coin would still weigh more than all the Platinum ever mined, most of which has been lost anyway.

bombdog's picture

Agree  with you KingTut. The graph is way out and 16 tonnes is obviously wrong but it's still a cool story... one coin with face value of all the platinum ever mined!


Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus's picture

So far as I know, the $1 Trillion is just face value.


so why are you all talking about an amount of platinum worth that?

Look under section K:  http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/5112


I'm not even totally sure treasury could properly do it - I think the better argument is it *could* if Congress authorizes it, specifically, to pay debts to the fed by delivering coins...  complex stuff I'm not very knowledgeable about, freely - admittedly.


But this is a fiat coin, gents.  It's just that it could be made 'out of' platinum, goes the argument.


I think this is fiat versus fiat - read the Carney article.




parenthetically, Carney read his Krugman too quickly - Krugman did not write of it "approvingly" - in fact, his argument was a non-argument of unargued assertions and poor logic:


"In reality, to pursue the thought further, the coin really would be as much a Federal debt as the T-bills the Fed owns, since eventually Treasury would want to buy it back."


But that's totally false.

Fed owns US IOUs.  But it is obligated to take as payment anything which is legal tender.  This coin would be legal tender - the fed would have to take it.


In so doing, the federal reserve dollar value of the treasuries would vanish in a puff of logic.  The Fed would have a fiat coin valued as a trillion dollars that it couldn't do anything with.  It would *extinguish* a big chunk of the debt.


Jeeezus, does no one else see it this way?  Now those evil clown fucks in Congress would turn this potential leash on the fed's printing to a weapon against the american taxpayer, but if we had a Congress not run by the banks and major lobbies - it arguably would be a good way to counteract the increasing monetization of the debt.




KingTut's picture

This whole thing is so stupid it's hard to belive.   Anyway, coins are money because they begin life with the intrinsic value of the metal being pretty close to the face value of the coin.  Thus, they retain their value eventhough the entity that issued it is not trustworthy.  So if the governement goes bankrupt, you can melt the coin down for more-or-less what it's worth.  

However, a 1 oz. coin with a face value of $1T is no different than a Federal Reserve Note with a face value of $1T.   It's value is symbolic not real.  It is a promise of 'payment' in the future.  In some circles tha's known as DEBT.  This thing has the saem intrinsic value as a dollar bill, it's an abstract IOU: "I will honor this in some unspecified way at some indefinite time in the future".  In the meatime just trade it for the goods you need.

This coin is a way to fool people into thniking its not a debt. Of course, it's a debt like all symbolic (fiat) money.

tradewithdave's picture

Krugman equated the Fed to the U. S. Government which was a backhanded approval IMHO.  It's like Fannie was private when it was time to pay bonuses and public when it was time to bail it out.  Same game... different name.  Moral hazard aka Barney Frank.

traderjoe's picture

Yes, it's a silly idea. But no more than any other monetary illusion. And FAR better than our present private debt-money fractional reserve monetary system. I also welcome any action that reveals the idiocy of sovereign debt and FRN's.

I think this article totally missed the point. Almost read like a guest post.

Bluntly Put's picture

How big would this coin have to be just to get the text $1,000,000,000,000 legibly on the face of the coin?

Sounds like a WB7 project/design to me. ^.^



Aurora Ex Machina's picture

$1012, so about the size of a Dime.

BigPerm's picture

How many moon rocks are there currently on Earth?

500 lbs? The Gov't should declare moon rock value at 2,000,000,000 /lb. Problem solved.

If you happen to have moon rocks at home, you will be hit with a 99% withfall profit tax.

Am I the only one thinking clearly?

BigPerm's picture

How many moon rocks are there currently on Earth?

500 lbs? The Gov't should declare moon rock value at 2,000,000,000 /lb. Problem solved.

If you happen to have moon rocks at home, you will be hit with a 99% windfall profit tax.

Am I the only one thinking clearly?

are we there yet's picture

That would blast off NASA, but check the price of Helium 3, that is a real commercial moon business model.

Arnold's picture

Twice as clearly,. evidently.

balz's picture

I am no mathematician, but 25 square foot of platinum must weigh more than 16 tons.

VelvetHog's picture

You can not have 25 square feet of platinum.  If you did it woudn't exist.  It has to have a third dimension if it exists at all it is CUBIC feet of platinum.

ThaBigPerm's picture

Methinks the math regarding the factor by which the dollar would have to be devalued (1/1,100) is in error.  That implies this (these) coin(s) are made with the world's entire supply of platinum.  If we assume a one oz coin with a face value of $1Trillion is issued, the face value overstates the value of the underlying commodity's fair market value (for what that's worth these days) by a factor of around 625,000,000.

Motorhead's picture

When I see 16 tons, I immediately think of Monty Python (and laugh accordingly).

Fun fact:  for those that looked over the German Spiegel article and saw/read the numbers, in German, "eine (1) Billion" equals one trillion.  One billion in German is a "Milliarde".

To head off any sarcasm:  I know, I know, if someone went to the link and read the article, they understand German.