The U.S. Treasury printing presses are a little quieter these days, printing less paper money than ever before. The reason? The rapid increase in the use of credit and debit cards to pay for anything and everything.

Last year the presses printed less $1 bills than at any time in the modern era. The number of $5 bills fell to a 30-year low, and the treasury didn't print any $10 bills at all!

The exception to the trend is $100 bills. They're in increasing demand overseas and production of 100s exceeded singles for the first time in history this past year. It's alarming to me, but the statistics say that two-thirds of $100 bills are in the possession of foreigners.

One soothsayer predicted the end of the wallet as we know it. And he may be right. The exponential increase of 'virtuality' in the world is staggering. With direct deposit, credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal, we may not need the paper. And if you transpose that to other forms of paper disappearing - books, magazines, newspapers, general documents - you can see where it's all headed.   (via NYtimes.com)