The trillion-dollar coin is an idea to save the United States from bankruptcy. Supporters of the idea say the U.S. government should mint a trillion-dollar platinum coin to sidestep the debt ceiling and somehow avoid defaulting on the debt.
In January 2013, the Treasury Department put the idea down. It said it was illegal. In February, American Mint issued a platinum-plated collector's coin that shows what the trillion-dollar coin could look like.
The government may not issue unlimited amounts of paper currency but can do so for platinum coins. The Treasury could mint a trillion-dollar coin and hand it to the Federal Reserve which would give the government the cash.
How many: A trillion is 1,000,000,000,000. One troy ounce (1 oz tr) equals 31,1035 g. The government would need 32 billion (32,150,722,587.5) 1 oz platinum coins.
How high: The American Platinum Eagle is the official platinum bullion coin of the United States. It is 2.39 mm thick. A stack made up of these coins would be 76,840 km tall.
How heavy: The trillion-dollar coin would weigh 19,152.40 tons. It would take 100 years at the current annual mining rate (192 t) to get the platinum out of the ground.
How large: The density of platinum is 21.45 g·cm-3. A cube of platinum would have 9.63 m edge length. If it was a coin, it had a height of three meters and a diameter of 90.16 m.
Motif ideas: President Barack Obama and the Californian Vulture. The cube on its tip in front of the Federal Reserve. Earth, the stack of coins, the International Space Station (ISS).
The most prominent support of the idea is Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate in economics. He declared his support for the platinum coin in his New York Times blog and thereby triggered the discussion.
Opponents are accusing the coin supporters of abusing the law. The fear of an inflation is also circulating. But that is largely without any reason, or so economist Krugman claims.
On 12 Jan 2013, the Treasury Department declared: "Neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should be used to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose of avoiding an increase in the debt limit."