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Monday, November 23, 2009

Cashing Checks...

I was cashing a check this weekend and realized the amount of time it was taking the teller to count and recount the cash was primarily the reason for the long lines at the bank. How can you blame them, they are dealing in cash and if they lose count or miss one number it could end their career.

The gal behind the teller booth counted out all the twenties and then stacked them up and recounted them again. She even used the automated bill counter to check the numbers one last time. On average the teller would take about 20 seconds or so to count about $1,000 in cash. This would then be doubled when she counted it again (though the second time took a fraction of the time, usually another 7-10 seconds at best).

I started to think about the big checks the government uses to operate the day to day. What if you had to cash one of these checks? For example, the photo below is an actual check that was sent to Morgan Stanley when the banks were failing to help them from going under. This is a check for nine-billion dollars.

According to Andrew Ross Sorkin's website - 'Morgan Stanley received a $9 billion investment from Mitsubishi UFJ in the fall of 2008 that kept the firm from collapsing. The payment was supposed to be wired electronically, but because it needed to be made on an emergency basis on a holiday, Mitsubishi cut a physical check, perhaps the largest ever written.'

If Morgan Stanley decided to cash this big ass check, the teller would still be counting. How much time would it take? Assuming the teller worked every day the bank was open, and would work on average an 8-hour day (with only one break and a lunch), the counting would go another 4 years.

To count and check $10K would on average take about 4-5 minutes, with checking and re-checking. Now check out the teller that is cashing the $9,000,000,000.00 check... This would be:
  • Start with: $9,000,000,000.00 total check
  • Spend 4-5 minutes per $10,000.00 in cash
  • Estimate about 75,000 hours to count the $9,000,000,000 cash
Then you have a teller working about 22 days per month (with weekends and holidays), working on average 8-hours per day, they are going to be able to count about $20MM per month, which means the full 9,000,000,000.00 would take about 38 years.

The teller counting and cashing this check would be finished with cashing the check by November 20th, 2046, though the teller would probably be around 65 or older, assuming he/she was about 30 years old at the time the guy cashing the check showed up.

Now imagine how long it would take to cash the check on the two stimulus checks, which I think is somewhere around 40,000 years to cash out.

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