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Misprinted Euros Return to Presses

August 31, 2000

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ It was back to the printing presses for the embattled euro, when bank officials announced Thursday they had developed a way to correct a printing problem that had nearly rendered millions of newly printed notes worthless.

The 100-euro notes, which were identified with defects just last month, will go through printing presses again to make them compliant with security standards, according to a statement released by the European Central Bank, which controls monetary policy in the 11 European countries using the common currency.

The problem surfaced at a Munich-based printer and reportedly made 325 million 100-euro notes _ roughly $32 billion _ nothing but scrap paper.

The glitch was just the latest blow to the beleaguered euro, which has shaken consumer confidence across Europe by slipping in value to 89 cents against the dollar since being launched at $1.16 in January 1999.

At the time, the ECB said it would not bring the notes into circulation.

But a spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Thursday that a new production process could imprint the bills with a missing feature making them usable again.

He declined to say what the initial printing problem was, but said the solution would mean no delays in shipping the new cash out to local banks. It will also minimize the costs of printing new notes, he said.

When the glitch was first discovered, the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported it could cost $29.9 million to reprint the notes.

The euro is currently used as a non-cash currency by businesses, government agencies and money markets.

But in 2002, euro cash will finally replace national currencies and be used for everything from vending machines to groceries.

In preparation, printers began running off reams of the new currency in mid 1999. By September 2001, the job will be completed with 14 billion notes in the vaults of Europe’s central banks.

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