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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A trillion-dollar platinum coin could be minted "within hours of the Treasury Secretary's decision to do so," Philip Diehl, former director of the United States Mint, tells Axios.

Why it matters: Congressional solutions to the debt-ceiling problem could take weeks to implement, especially if the reconciliation process is used — and time is running out. In case of emergency, a trillion-dollar coin could be deployed to bridge any gap between the money running out and the debt ceiling being raised.

How it works: The U.S. Mint, which Diehl ran from 1994 to 2000, already produces a one-ounce Platinum Eagle and has no shortage of platinum blanks already in stock.

  • Producing a trillion-dollar Eagle would require only the denomination to be changed. "This could be quickly executed on the existing plaster mold of the Platinum Eagle," says Diehl. Then an automated process would transfer the new design to a plastic resin mold.

Even if Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, has no intention of minting such a coin, there is no reason for her not to quietly instruct the Mint director to take those steps a day or two in advance.

  • At that point, a coin could be struck in minutes at the West Point mint. Even if it then needed to be physically deposited at the New York Fed, that's only a short helicopter ride away.

"Voila, we'd have bought ourselves the equivalent of a trillion-dollar increase in the debt limit, without any impact on inflation," says Diehl.

Go deeper

Oct 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

No one likes the debt deal

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks though the Capitol on Thursday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The leaders of the Senate were happy Thursday with their deal to avoid a debt default. They were about the only ones.

Why it matters: The Band-Aid does nothing to solve the debt ceiling problem long term for Americans. Democrats fear it only kicks the can down the road to a very busy December. Republicans, meanwhile, are mad their party blinked.

Fintech's record year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Massive venture rounds into fintech companies have ballooned this year, pushing up total dollars invested — in just the first three quarters of 2021 — to nearly double the amount in all of 2020, per new PitchBook data.

Why it matters: The maturing of fintech startups means a growing number of companies are able to raise huge later-stage funding rounds as investors look to lock-in their bets.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Democrats' clean power outlook is very muddy

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Here are two big questions as a key Democratic proposal to slash emissions from power generation flounders: how much its demise would sap climate protections, and what might replace it.

Catch up fast: New financial carrots and sticks for utilities to deploy zero-carbon power — the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) — look unlikely to stay in Democrats' big social spending and climate bill.