Though commerce has recently taken a turn towards electronic formats with Internet purchases, debit cards and e-mail money transfers, leaders in banknote manufacturing say their industry is experiencing unprecedented growth.
This week, Jason Margolis, host of The World on Public Radio International (PRI), caught up with some of these manufacturers who echo the sentiment, saying “there’s still a need for cold, hard cash.”
At a mill in Dalton, MA, Crane & Co. produces about 18 million pounds of paper per year for the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Doug Crane, owner of the family-owned business that has been producing banknotes since the US revolution, says it’s a good time to be in the currency business.
“The demand sort of ebbs and flows, and certainly there’s been a stronger demand on currency and on certain denominations in particular since the economic uncertainty has really spread across the world,” he tells PRI.
Chad Wasilenkoff, CEO of the Vancouver-based specialty paper manufacturer Fortress Paper, agrees with Crane’s assessment. Fortress Paper produces banknotes for many countries, but one of their most notable clients in the country of Switzerland for whom they produce the Swiss Franc. Wasilenkoff says the instability of world markets is driving business.
“People are reluctant to keep as much money in the banks, and they’re pulling it out and going back to the old form of sticking it under the mattress,” he says. “With the global crisis going on, these printing presses are running fast and furious around the world, so it’s very robust times there.”
And it’s not just banknote producers that say cash is as popular as ever. In the PRI piece, Michael Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University, tells Margolis says in times of crisis people turn to cold, hard cash for security.
“I think people in these times like to simply have more cash on hand. I think that just fulfils a basic primal need we have when there is heightened financial fear,” he says.
The economic situation in Europe could also prove to pay off for banknote producers. If the eurozone collapses, countries could once again revert to their old currencies and re-create their reserves.
“Demand for bank notes would definitely go up,” Wasilenkoff says.