Until this week, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had an unusual signature, a series of eight connected loops that looked more like a doodle than something that should grace U.S. currency. If one had to guess the name, word or, more accurately, sound represented by his old autograph, it would simply be "Oooooooo." But the Treasury has now unveiled Lew's new signature, which will be on the $5 bill this fall and other currency as it is issued over the years. As a condition of his nomination, Lew had promised President Barack Obama that he would sign his name better. At least one letter, and perhaps two, is now legible, although one might be hard-pressed to name three. To his credit, the new signature does have three separately identifiable features: a first name, a middle initial (Lew's is J for Joseph) and a last name. Now that he has selected a signature, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing staff will produce new plates for $5 bills. The new bills will be printed by the bureau, then stored in the vaults of the Federal Reserve, which will decide when to circulate them. That is expected to happen in the fall — just about the time when Lew and the Treasury will be grappling with a new battle over the budget and the nation's debt — and might miss the quaint interest of economic and financial geeks in his signature.
Zachary A. Goldfarb
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