New 2016 cents are finding their way into circulation.
That is a smidgen of good news not just for collectors but also for Americans who depend in part or entirely on the health of the financial markets.
I had an email yesterday from Kurt Bellman in Pennsylvania.
He is the first to report the finding of four 2016-dated coins in circulation.
I expect other reports will follow.
He said he got the the new cents Jan. 19 at the Wawa convenience store in Reading, Pa.
“This is the earliest I’ve ever seen current year coins in circulation except for the 2000 Wal-mart Sacagawea effort,” he wrote.
He added, “The irony is that I was at the Wawa to pick up a quick bite before a Daniel Boone Coin Club meeting in Reading.”
The earlier in the year coins appear in general circulation, the healthier the economy is.
Coins only enter circulation when merchants need them. They need them when they are doing business.
They order coins from the banking system via armored car companies.
The coins sent to the merchants might be old coins or new coins.
When consumers are feeling pinched, they tend to get their coins right back into circulation as they make every penny count and the banking system will use these instead of ordering new ones.
This happened in 2009 to a degree not experienced since the 1930s Depression.
Mintages of new coins plunged.
Some collectors still have never seen some or all of the 2009 dates in their change.
In good times, consumers are more cavalier with their coins.
They are taken home. They are put away. They sit.
The consequences are when the banking system needs coins and consumers are slower to return them, new coins are ordered. New dates appear.
This is a habit of an economy on the upswing.
An economy on the upswing probably means that the January swoon in financial markets will not be as bad as it was in the Great Recession.
Of course, I would like to write that the markets have already dropped too far, but that would be interpreting the meaning of the arrival of new cents in change beyond reason.
New cents appearing now don’t mean a recession can’t hit us in the future. They simply mean conditions on the ground don’t indicate a recession right now.
Go out there and look at the change you receive and let me know what 2016-dated coins you are finding.
A quick appearance of 2016 nickels, dimes and quarters would reinforce the good news.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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