Why Janet Yellen’s Signature Is Not on U.S. Currency

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Until a caller treasurer is selected, currency volition proceed to carnivore the autograph of erstwhile Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, posing with a expanse  of caller   $1 bills bearing his signature successful  2017. Mr. Mnuchin is nary  longer secretary, but the bills inactive  see  his name.
Credit... Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Alan Rappeport

Dec. 22, 2021, 5:16 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — At a present infamous 2017 ceremonial wrong the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury caput astatine the time, and his wife, Louise Linton, posed for the cameras with an uncut expanse of $1 bills, the archetypal to carnivore his signature.

The images went viral, prompting comparisons of Mr. Mnuchin, a erstwhile Goldman Sachs banker, to a Bond villain.

More than 4 years later, America has a caller Treasury secretary, Janet L. Yellen. But the U.S. currency continues to carnivore Mr. Mnuchin’s signature.

The crushed has to bash with the vagaries of Washington bureaucracy and the information that, contempt having a Treasury caput successful spot since January, President Biden has yet to name a United States treasurer. The 2 signatures indispensable beryllium added to caller bid of currency successful tandem, meaning that the process of adding Ms. Yellen’s signature to the greenback is frozen for the foreseeable future.

Ms. Yellen sat for her currency signing successful March, gathering with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing director, Leonard Olijar, and providing her authoritative signature for printing connected the caller 2021 bid of insubstantial currency. At the time, the Treasury Department said successful a connection that it would “reveal her signature successful the coming weeks.” Nine months later, Ms. Yellen’s signature is obscurity to beryllium seen connected America’s slope notes, depriving the archetypal pistillate to beryllium Treasury caput of 1 of the job’s prized perks.

“It is simply a small odd,” said Franklin Noll, the president of the Treasury Historical Association.

Previous Treasury secretaries person had their signatures added to money, a process which takes respective months, wrong their archetypal twelvemonth connected the job.

The hold owes to the dilatory gait of White House nominations crossed the national government, including astatine the Treasury Department. By tradition, the treasurer indispensable besides motion the wealth on with the secretary, and some signatures are engraved connected plates, printed and submitted to the Federal Reserve, which determines what currency volition beryllium added to circulation.

Since the Treasury caput has the eventual accidental implicit currency design, successful mentation Ms. Yellen could bash distant with the contented and incorporated her signature close away.

The treasurer post, which oversees the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint, does not necessitate Senate confirmation. But adjacent if Mr. Biden appointed idiosyncratic earlier year-end, it could instrumentality until mid-2022 earlier the caller bid of notes was successful circulation.

The White House appears to beryllium successful nary rush. A spokesperson said that portion Mr. Biden is actively considering treasurer candidates, the administration’s precedence has been connected filling Senate-confirmed positions that are important for protecting nationalist information and combating the pandemic.

The Treasury Department declined to remark and referred an enquiry to the White House.

The past of who gets to motion the wealth dates to 1861, erstwhile President Abraham Lincoln signed a measure allowing the Treasury caput to delegate the treasurer of the United States to motion Treasury notes and bonds. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 1914 was the archetypal twelvemonth that the Treasury caput and the treasurer started signing the currency together.

In caller years, the signature of the caput has captured the nation’s attention, arsenic changes to America’s currency are comparatively rare.

Former Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner acknowledged successful 2012 that handwriting was not his beardown suit and that helium polished his penmanship erstwhile President Barack Obama offered him the job.

“I didn’t effort for elegance,” Mr. Geithner said. “I tried for clarity.”

Clarity was an Achilles’ bottommost for Jacob J. Lew, Mr. Geithner’s successor whose loopy autograph was laughed astatine for being illegible. Mr. Obama joked successful 2013 that Mr. Lew, who had been his main of staff, astir did not get the occupation retired of interest that his scrawl would debase America’s currency.

Early versions of Mr. Mnuchin’s signature connected idiosyncratic documents were not casual to read. But ultimately, erstwhile President Donald J. Trump’s Treasury caput broke with contented and wrote his sanction successful people alternatively than cursive.

The signatures are intimately watched by collectors and students of fiscal history.

Mr. Noll said that during events oregon lectures astatine the Treasury Department with erstwhile secretaries, attendees would often bring wealth to beryllium “countersigned” adjacent to their sanction connected the note.

“It was benignant of chill to get the existent signature,” Mr. Noll said.

Ms. Yellen’s signature connected the wealth is not the lone alteration to America’s currency that has been delayed. Soon aft Mr. Biden took bureau this year, White House officials said the medication would accelerate efforts to person Harriet Tubman’s portrait grace the beforehand of the $20 bill, a process that stalled nether Mr. Mnuchin.

However, astatine a legislature proceeding successful September, Ms. Yellen indicated that doing truthful would instrumentality immoderate time, saying that redesigning the enactment is simply a lengthy process fixed the request to make robust anti-counterfeiting features.

Rosie Rios, who served arsenic Treasurer nether Mr. Geithner and Mr. Lew during the Obama administration, said that it was a privilege to person her signature connected astir $2 trillion worthy of currency that is successful circulation. Having helped to pb the effort to get images of women added to U.S. currency, she said, she volition find it meaningful to person Ms. Yellen’s sanction connected the money.

“I’m precise excited to spot Secretary Yellen’s signature connected there,” she said.

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