A printing problem with the new high-tech $100 bills has forced government printers to shut down production - and to quarantine more than one billion of the notes.
The flawed notes represent more than ten per cent of the U.S. currency on the entire planet.
They are being stored in giant vaults at Fort Worth in Texas and in Washington, DC, as the Federal Reserve desperately tries to resolve the problem.
Meanwhile printers have begun reprinting the old $100 notes - without the high-tech security features and still bearing the signature of George W Bush's treasury secretary, Hank Paulson - in order to prevent a cash flow crisis.
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, authorities are scrambling to do everything they can to keep U.S. cash flowing.
'There is something drastically wrong here,' one source told CNBC. 'The frustration level is off the charts.'
The new high-tech bills were initially scheduled for release in February of 2011. They were due to be the first in circulation that bore the signature of President Obama's treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner.