Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Monday, February 11, 2008

Should We Make Cents? on 60 Minutes

On Sunday, Morley Safer of 60 Minutes took a look at the question "Should We Make Cents?"

I think the story was skewed towards the opinion that cents are unnecessary, but it still makes for some interesting watching and discussion whatever your opinion of the penny.

The story included interviews with Edmund Moy US Mint Director, Stephen Dubner Freakonomics Co-Author, Mark Weller of Americans for Common Cents (also a lobbyist for a zinc company), and Jeff Gore M.I.T. Scientist.

Some points from the story:
  • Each penny costs almost 2 cents to produce and each nickel costs almost 10 cents to produce. Overall this works out to 8 billion pennies worth $80 million produced at a cost of $134 million; and 1.3 billion nickels worth $65 million produced at a cost of $124 million.
  • The cost of making paper money is only 6 cents each.
  • According to studies for countries who have removed their lowest value coin, there is always at least a one time inflationary hit.
  • According to Americans for Common Cents, rounding up to the nickel will cost Americans $600 million per year.
  • According to Jeff Gore's calculations, pennies cost Americans $10 billion per year in lost productivity.
  • Next year will be the 200th Anniversary of Lincoln's birth and the 100th Anniversary of the Lincoln Cent.

Some quotes from the story:

"Inflation has rendered the penny valueless. If you can't buy anything with the penny... then that individual unit just doesn't serve much good."
"It's like having a fifth and a half finger."
-Stephen Dubner

"If you don't have the penny and you round transactions to the nickel, that's a loser for charity groups, that's a loser for the American public."
-Mark Weller

"We're each wasting over two hours every year just because of pennies."
-Jeff Gore

"As a public official, I have no private opinions. But I do know that a lot of people are attached to the penny. And as long as they continue being in demand, the Mint has an obligation to continue making them."
-Edmund Moy

Links to the complete videos:

Main Story- Should We Make Cents?
US Mint Tour with Morley Safer

Some related destinations on the web that might be of interest:

Americans for Common Cents - Pro Penny Group

Freakonomics Blog - Stephen J Dubner

Coinflation - track the melt value of US coins.



At February 12, 2008 at 7:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad to think that the
fundamental unit of US currency
may become a victim of our
obsession to count money
at all costs.

Let's leave the venerable cent


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