Mint To Press Fewer Coins As Economy Slows
by Jeff Brady
Federal Reserve was busy last year pumping $700
billion into the U.S. economy expanding the
country's money supply by nearly 10 percent. But
that doesn't mean there are a lot more dollar
bills circulating. In fact production statistics
at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing have
remained stable. And coin production has dropped
The U.S. Mint will make 3 billion coins in 2009
a 70 percent decline from the 10 billion
produced in 2008. It will be the smallest run in
50 years, and the retail economy is to blame.
"The Mint's mission is primarily to make coins
to fulfill the demands of commerce," says Ed Moy,
director of the Mint. "The demands of commerce
haven't been doing too well the past six
Moy says there's something else going on, too
it appears more people are cashing in the coins
they've saved at those counting machines near
the grocery checkout counter.
"So in addition to low economic activity,
there's an increased number of coins coming back
into the banking system, which means that the
banks need less coins from the Mint," says Moy.
Collectors are excited about the production
slowdown, since scarcity boosts a coin's value
a 50-cent roll of Lincoln Bicentennial pennies
is selling on eBay for up to $10.
Coin production is just about evenly split
between mints in Philadelphia and Denver. Moy
says no workers will be laid off. Instead
they'll catch up on routine maintenance that has
been delayed and undergo extra training. Laying
off such specialized workers wouldn't make
sense, he says, because they'll be needed again
when the economy improves.
That decision won't cost taxpayers a dime, as
the U.S. Mint funds its own operations through
sales of collectible and bullion coins. Last
year it made a $750 million profit for the U.S.
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