Everybody with a basic understanding of economics knows that nations can't just print unlimited amounts of money and hope to survive the inevitable inflation.
But that doesn't stop some from promoting the idea.
A blast from the past making the rounds these days is a harebrained scheme to have the U.S. Mint start churning out $1 trillion coins, which would be used to pay off the national debt. It would, in theory, end battles like the one in Congress now over the debt ceiling. Just mint another coin and abracadabra!
The concept of a $1 trillion coin was first floated by Populist Party presidential candidate Bo Gritz. It was a horrible idea then and is no better now. It would undermine our entire financial system. And almost everyone in Washington knows it.
Still, it could be done. Legally.
You see, a law passed in 1996 and amended in 2000 designed to let the Mint generate revenue by producing special coins for collectors has a unforeseen loophole: The coins can be of any denomination as long as they are made of platinum. And the Secretary of the Treasury can authorize production without approval from Congress.
Fortunately, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has already said no way that's going to happen. But what if, by some chance, we get someone in the post with more suspect judgment?
It likely would never happen. Just to be sure, though, Congress should close that loophole.