I’d been wondering why all of the self-serve checkout terminals, in all of the local markets that I frequent, have switched to card-only transactions–now I know.)
It’s long been my assertion that of the four coins in common circulation – penny, nickel, dime, and quarter), not one has a sufficiently high denomination to be conveniently spendable. If you use a $20 bill to buy something that costs $10.18 you might add eighteen cents so you can get ten dollars back, or you might even just add three cents so you won’t get any pennies. (And now apparently, the government wishes we would do just that.) But how often do you buy anything with just coins, anymore? You could buy a latte at Starbucks with quarters, but that’s really stretching it, and it would be difficult even to hold that many quarters in your hand. If you get a ten-dollar bill in change, you will probably spend it fairly soon. If you get a nickel in change, that’s probably going to be sticking around a lot longer. Paper money is circulated, and coins are… er….distributed.
So how is this playing out in other countries? Most other industrialized countries have high denomination coins, e.g. twonies in Canada, two-pound coins in the UK, and so on. Japan and Switzerland have coins with even greater values. Are those countries also experiencing a coin shortage, or is it just happening here?