Funny-Looking Fifties

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The New Greenback

WASHINGTON, D.C.: TIME's Elaine Shannon reports that a newly redesigned $50 bill probably won’t cause the same international queasiness that greeted the phony-looking new $100 bill last year. Because U.S. currency often serves as the fail-safe exchange in countries with collapsing or corrupt banking systems (an estimated two-thirds of all U.S. cash circulates abroad), many international dollar-holders back then feared that their old $100 bills would be made worthless. In Russia, exchange centers were overwhelmed by worried people looking to change their bills for something smaller. This time around, the response has been muted. "The $100 bill has a certain cachet that $50's don't seem to have," Shannon says. "In the Third World, for example, not many people use $50 bills, but $100 bills are frequently used."