My husband and I just found out about this today (okay yesterday, we just got home and it is 2:00 a.m., but I’m not going to sleep until I get this out to you). A new book released by Benjamin Fulford in Japan on February 1, Nihon ni shikakerareta saigo no baburu (The final bubble unleashed on Japan) alerted us that banks and other institutions in Japan are no longer accepting the dollar currency that is currently in circulation in the US. Apparently, this has been going on since late last year. No date is mentioned, but one traveller to the US reported that he acquired dollars there and was able to exchange them in Canada, but when he returned to Japan, he was unable to exchange them, and he was essentially stuck with worthless paper. The banks are only accepting the newly released dollar currency. The notes released by the FRB from 2008 are not being accepted.
This is not merely a rumor. One of my students who travels a lot confirmed that he was unable to exchange dollar currency as of late December, and this is apparently happening throughout Asia, and also Europe now. If you are carrying the currency being used in the US right now, you cannot use it abroad, except for Canada (and maybe a few other countries–information is lacking). He will be travelling next week to Myanmar, and as a result, he needed to go to the bank and exchange yen for the new dollar currency, which he showed us. It is basically closely similar to the bills now in circulation, but the faces are slightly bigger and new colors have been added so the different denominations are easier to distinguish from each other. The reason for this sudden rejection of the old money, as explained by the banks, is that North Korea has produced so many counterfeit bills that the old ones are considered worthless.
In our recent travel to the US (December 19 to January 13) we never encountered these new bills. I wonder what would have happened if we had presented one (had we acquired them in Japan before departing) at a restaurant in America. We saw only the old style in the US.
There has been no news of this in Japan or, apparently, America. I tried googling it, and the latest I could find on new US dollar bills was http://www.alanbestbuys.com/id239.html which says,
“Update December 19, 2012 So far, there is no word about a release date for the new $100 bill bearing the portrait of Benjamin Franklin with all sorts of new and colorful anti-counterfeiting printing on the bill. But we do know from the Federal Reserve that they will give us six months notice before the actual release date. Hope springs eternal that the new bills will actually be released. Some of the bills were sent to a Federal Reserve branch in New Jersey a few months ago perhaps in preparation for a nationwide release. By the way, some of the bills were reported stolen from a shipment to New Jersey.
“As you know, the release was delayed when officials of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing discovered a massive printing error and government officials said it would take months to sort through what bills could be released and what bills would end up in a shredder. You have to think that since the original release date was supposed to be February of 2011 that the BEP must be getting close to a release date.”
A couple of years ago, there was some fuss about North Korea counterfeiting $100 notes, but it is not only the $100 bills being rejected abroad, but all the old currency. Because we did not try to exchange our leftover dollars when we returned to Japan, we did not learn about this until now. There are probably a lot of other people thinking it would be worthwhile in these times to hang onto spare dollars. There’s been no outcry yet.
I’ll let you consider the ramifications of millions of people who’ve been holding cash in the world’s reserve, internationally accepted reliable currency suddenly learning that they’ve been stiffed. The only recourse it seems is to find someone who is going to the States and work out a deal with them. It also strikes me as a possible attempt to prevent an outflux of currency from the US, and it reminds me of an experience I had in Russia about 15 years ago, when I led a tour there and we could not find any banks that would accept Japanese yen. A month prior they’d been all too glad to, and one or two of the tellers confided that the problem was their bank simply did not have any rubles. Finally one of the scruffy loafers by the door of the final bank took us to his grubby little corner office and scrounged up some rubles for us–black market to the rescue! We also paid our guides in US dollars, which a week subsequent gained by a factor of, I think it was five, versus the ruble.
Update 2/8/13: I have not been able to find out anything else about new US currency abroad. We saw the new bills with our very own eyes because I have a student involved as an individual in international commerce, who is suitably outraged to have been told the paper bills he had were worthless. Another student of mine works for a bank, but has heard nothing. I was able to exchange a $100 US note at Narita Airport (approx. 6% fee) on December 13. I don’t know whether the person described by Benjamin Fulford tried exchanging his dollars at the airport or elsewhere. I’ll keep looking into this.