Friday, February 17, 2012

What This Country Needs Is a Good, Five-Cent Nickel

We tend to think of the cost of money in terms of the interest rates charged by banks, credit card companies, and loan sharks (often, the same) for its use. But there really is an actual cost of money, as I was reminded the other day when I read this article: Obama Wants Cheaper Pennies and Nickels.

According to the article, in 2011 it cost 2.4 cents to mint a single penny ...

and 11.2 cents to mint a nickel ...

figures which include both the cost of the metal used and the cost of production. This got me to wondering about the cost of printing "paper" money, and a quick internet search yielded figures ranging between six and ten cents to print a dollar bill ...

mostly based on the costs of cotton (yes, your wallet is filled with recycled underwear) and ink. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), during the year 2011 about 5.8 billion banknotes of all denominations were printed at an average cost of about 9.1 cents.

You can find all sorts of fascinating facts about the money you don't have enough of at this website run by the BEP. Follow the links at the left of the page for even more neat stuff, including a store from which you can buy uncut sheets of bills in various denominations. Think of it: you can buy a small, inexpensive gift for your Very Best Beloved, then wrap it in a sheet of fifty dollar bills!

But let's get back to the cost of the penny and the nickel. If it costs 2.4 cents to mint a penny (of which the US Mint produced about 4.3 billion last year) and 11.2 cents to mint a nickel (of which some 913 million were pressed last year), that means that your government actually lost money by making money.

I can't believe that the Republicans haven't used this as a campaign cudgel with which to beat President Obama, but I'm sure they'll get there soon enough.

And all this is fascinating, but because I need those pennies and nickels and bills of various denominations, I need to go to work to earn them.

Have a good day. My birthday is in November, and you can wrap my gift in one of those sheets of $50 bills if you like.

See you tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday.

Bilbo

5 comments:

allenwoodhaven said...

Perhaps we should go back to wooden nickles....

But then what we tell people not to accept?

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Its hard to get rid of pennies, especially if they accumulate over time. If you attempt to take them all to buy a cup of coffee, you look like Scrooge McDuck!

Amanda said...

American coins always confuse me. Why do they have names instead of 10c or 1c etc?

Big Sky Heidi said...

Pennies are absurd. The government should stop minting them.

Mike said...

WWII steel pennies will probably make a comeback.