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Mr. Monopoly would be a better Fed chairman

The initial Monopoly money supply when the game was first sold in 1935 was about $37 billion, almost exactly the same as the M2 money supply of $39 billion.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index (CPI) has risen 16% under President Biden. The CPI rose 3.2% in the year ending in July, an acceleration from the 3% reading in June. 

Such rapid devaluation of the currency has some people referring to the dollar as "Monopoly money," but it turns out that’s unfair to the eponymous board game.

In fact, if the nation had begun using Monopoly money in 1935, when the game first went on sale, inflation over the last 88 years would have been substantially lower because the supply of Monopoly money has grown much less than that of Federal Reserve notes.

That is an amazing fact considering that the only board games with higher lifetime sales are chess and checkers, and they had head starts of hundreds and thousands of years, respectively.


Approximately 1.8 million Monopoly games were sold in the first year of its release, beginning in 1935, with each game containing $20,580. The initial money supply of Monopoly money was about $37 billion.

Amazingly, that is almost exactly the same as the M2 money supply in 1935 of $39 billion, as calculated by Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz.

Since Monopoly’s introduction, about 300 million games have been sold, including its many variants. Today’s Monopoly money supply of $6,174 billion is 16,586% higher than it was in 1935. If that seems like an astronomical increase, consider what M2 has done over that same time.

Data from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System show the money supply rose to $21,577 billion in 2022, which is 55,226% higher than it was in 1935. The supply of Federal Reserve notes has grown more than three times faster than the supply of Monopoly money.

This actually overstates the amount of Monopoly money in existence because many games have been thrown away over the last 88 years, but even this inflated figure still proves that Monopoly money’s growth has been more in line with growth in the real economy than M2 has.


Real gross domestic product (GDP), measured in 2012 dollars, was $986.905 billion in 1935. In 2022, it was $20,014.128, an increase of 1,928%. Over that same time, Monopoly money grew about nine times faster than real GDP, while M2 grew about 29 times faster.

And this is not the result of some bygone era; the Federal Reserve’s mismanagement of the money supply continues to this day. For example, in 2020, Monopoly saw a huge increase in sales because of lockdowns, selling 9.15 million games, increasing the supply of Monopoly money by $188 billion. Conversely, M2 increased by $2,818 billion, almost 15 times the increase in Monopoly money.

Put more whimsically, the mustachioed character in the middle of the Monopoly board, named "Rich Uncle Pennybags," has done a better job managing his currency than the collective chairs of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors for nearly nine decades. The reason why lies in the political constraints faced by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and his predecessors.


There is tremendous pressure for the Federal Reserve to finance massive budget deficits like we have seen for the last three years. When they do so, the government’s spending, borrowing and creating too much money causes inflation. 

People often use the term "Monopoly money" as a pejorative. It turns out the resulting devaluation of the Federal Reserve note has been worse than if the nation had used Monopoly money instead. That’s quite an indictment of Bidenomics.

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