Why countries print money outside their borders: A look at the commercial currency print market
Around 11% of all bank notes made around the world are made by commercial, non-government companies, mostly based in North America and Europe. The largest two companies in the sector, shrouded in secrecy, each print currency for 140 and 100 central banks, respectively. Because making paper money is complex and expensive, many smaller governments prefer to outsource the task. This outsourcing comes with its own tradeoffs and risks, however. Last week in Liberia, for example, the government announced that it had lost $104 million that had gone missing upon arrival in the country’s main port. In another example, Libya experienced a banknote shortage when currency was withheld in the latter period of Gaddafi’s rule. And in spite of the increase of digital payment methods, the currency printing industry continues to grow, with Africa and Asia the fastest growing regions. So in spite of the double-sided corruption fears, nationalist angst, and more, the commercial currency printing market shows no signs of dying anytime soon.