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What a popular topic

Any time I write about cents, the level of interest seems to rise. I don’t believe I am particularly clever, but it is a topic that resonates in America at the moment.

I asked last week if the American people were quietly abolishing the cent by not using it and pointed to plunging mintage figures to illustrate the point.

Comments were posted. I appreciate comments. This time it truly is different for the cent.

In the past, the mintage totals would rise to peaks the coincided with economic high points and then fall. What makes this cycle different is that in prior cycles each high point was basically higher than the prior one. This time the high point was hardly more than half the prior one.

Something is going on. It is worth paying attention to. Sometimes people really do change their habits.

It happened before with the half dollar. The half dollar turned from a useful everyday coin into a commemorative to be saved and reverenced in 1964 when the Kennedy half was introduced.

Rising silver prices and changing alloys did not help, but Americans got out of the habit of using the coin. Now it languishes almost in the same land of the undead as the Sacagawea dollar that I wrote about yesterday.

Are Americans changing their coin using habits again to the exclusion of the cent? Could be.

As one person e-mailed me, all denominations below the quarter should be abolished and even the Internal Revenue Service rounds everything to the nearest dollar.

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3 Responses to What a popular topic

  1. Mark says:

    When the origional Jeopardy was on in the 1960’s the question values ranged between $10 – $50 in the first round and $20 – $100 in Double Jeopardy. When the show was revived in the 1980’s the values were ten times that. They have been all doubled again. The top value in the first round is $1,000 and $2,000 in Double Jeopardy. The dollar has lost 98% of its purchasing power in the past 100 years and this decline will continue. At the rate we are going, that piece of chewing gum that used to cost 1 cent will eventualy cost a dollar. When that happens there will be no need for any change less than a dollar.

  2. Scott in DC says:

    At some point, the dollar will be re-valuated like many other currencies. How many currency redesigns had currencies reprinted without zeros so that it does not look like it costs "millions" to purchase items. Some countries do it by changing currencies, like the European Union. Others, change their coinage style, like the British decimalization. It may be the US’s turn.

    As I said in the past, it is difficult to make a comparison to other "trends" and today’s market. The economic slowdown began over a year ago, picked up over the summer, and has hit hard over the last few months as some banks are on the brink of failure and gas prices rise.

    Today’s business news greeted us saying that Master Card showed a higher than expected profit as more consumers used their credit cards this past year. This is an indication that Americans are taking on more debt rather than paying cash. This reduces the demand for hard currency to pay for goods and services. The lower the demand for coins, the lower the mintage figures.

    It is not difficult to see that in these harder economic times that credit is being used to extend the buying capabilities of consumers. As with other economic downturns, the use of currency will increase when the economy picks up again.

  3. Cerulean says:

    I wrote about this subject too, in April 2007:

    Did you notice that dimes are not following the same trend as pennies?

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