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Obsolete in 11 years?

I saw a news item yesterday that reported the European Commission was examining the possibility of abolishing the 1 euro cent and 2 euro cent coins.

It is a perfect echo of the American dilemma over what to do with the two lowest denominations in our circulating coinage.

Half of the coin supply in the euro zone is comprised of these two little coins. I have had the opportunity to spend them and receive them in change while I have been in Berlin the last six years.

As in the United States, there are far more opportunities to receive them in change than to spend and they accumulate.

What will be decided in Europe I cannot say.

But in a way, the European situation is a tribute to the stability of the United States monetary system and the general logic of it.

The euro has only had physical form since 2002. That’s when these two denominations were introduced along with other coins up to 2 euros in value. The system was the product of numerous meetings that occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Wouldn’t you think the architects of the euro could have created a system that would not need a revision of this type just 11 years later?

I would.

I have mentioned from time to time that the U.S. cent composition situation, which swung to a net cost to the government in 2006, should not take so long to resolve.

I still believe that.

But at least the copper-coated zinc composition had put in 24 years of service before the current cost situation arose (and 31 years to date).

The adoption of copper-coated zinc for the cent in 1982 obviously was a wise choice. We as taxpayers got our money’s worth.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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