Outside of the Capitol South station this morning, the Dollar Coin Alliance was handing out bags of money. Haw haw, isn’t that what happens every day on Capitol Hill? except this was shredded currency, meant to illustrate how much is spent on creating, circulating, and finally destroying paper currency. The takeaway is that coins, which last like ten times longer than bills, are a wiser investment and a better way to go in creating a currency infrastructure.
Of course the longer term game that is afoot is not paper vs. coin currency, but currency vs. electronic transactions. Could we expect that, when a dollar coin is implemented, that consumers might be more inclined to rely on their debit & credit cards for small transactions? Perhaps. But if so, then why not push things forward, and do away with the $5, $10, and $20 bills as well?
Replacing these bills with coins would be a great opportunity for the U.S. Mint to show off its expertise in coin design and production, create a durable currency infrastructure, and support the move to currencyless transactions throughout the market. I for one am looking forward to the return of the Double Eagle, and a pocketful of change that actually has some value.