The U.S. Mint succinctly stated in its press release about the shortage of circulating coins is that there are enough coins in the economy. There is no shortage.
What is happening is that, like everything else during the COVID-19 crisis, the supply chain broke. Coins stopped circulating because people were not going out and spending the coins or currency. Since cash sales dropped, there was no need for stores to stock up on coins. They had the supply to conduct business.
Since the stores did not need the coins, the banks stopped ordering coins for its inventories. Larger stores that rely on logistics carriers were not ordering coins or sending coins into the supply chain. Finally, the logistics carriers saw their inventories rise and become stagnant, giving them no reason to buy more coins from the Federal Reserve.
Now that areas are opening and the demand for change has increased, the supply chain has to restart. According to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, the cash rooms operated by each Federal Reserve District has a sufficient supply of coins. But the coins have to be circulated through the system.
The government is doing its job. The U.S. Mint is striking a sufficient volume of coins for circulation, and the Federal Reserve has the supply to support commerce. It is the private sector that manages the supply chain that has failed.
The logistics companies, the coin processors that move the money between the Federal Reserve, the banks, and the retailers, have caused the backup. Since many banks have limited access to their drive-thru operations, there is an opportunity for the supply chain to adjust. They cannot adjust fast enough.
If you want to help fix the supply chain, spend your coins. Use exact change when possible. When it is not possible, use a credit or debit card.
If you are the type that keeps coins in jars, now is the time to do your search and send the rest back into circulation. Some banks are offering bonus payments for bringing in coins. Others that were charging fees if you did not roll the coins are waiving those fees. If you regularly buy from Amazon, consider using a Coinstar machine to turn your coins into an Amazon credit. Coinstar does not charge a fee when you trade your coins for Amazon credit.
Relax! It is not a conspiracy to get coins out of circulation. The government is not replacing U.S. dollars with Bitcoin. The government is not participating in creating a global currency, especially when you see how that has worked with mixed results in Europe. And this is not how the government is going to take your money away from you. That is what the tax code does.
Take your coin jar, search for collectible circulating coins, and spend the rest. Get the coins back into circulation.
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