National Coin Shortage? One Group Has A Solution.
In light of the National Coin Shortage of 2020, merchants and consumers are getting creative in order to keep the economy pumping. There are other groups that are getting creative in order to find a solution to the problem.
Is This The First Time The U.S. Has Had a Coin Shortage?
First, it is important to note that this IS NOT the first time the United States has encountered a coin shortage. In the post World War II era, coin shortages had been occasionally known but were brief in duration. Typically they the shortages would affect one of the five denominations (cent, nickel,dime, quarter, and half dollar) that was being minted at the time. In 1959 the Federal Mint failed to create enough coins for banks that needed them. At this point, the Fed imposed rationing at its district and branch banks. Since many of the coins that are distributed to banks from the Federal Reserve are distributed from "flowback" coins - or coins that are returned to it by regional banks that have an overage . Just like anything in short supply and high demand, rationing severely limited the coins flowing back to the Federal Reserve Banks. Since only about 1/5th of the coins that are distributed by the Fed are new, and the Mint had failed to provide enough new coins for several years, you can imagine the result. Just like what is happening now, and will worsen during the holiday spending season, merchants and consumers had difficulty making change, thus disrupting business operations and sales. Banks and their business customers began hoarding coins in fear of further shortages. I will let you guess what happened then...yep, it got worse. Further damage to coin supply was a result of people hoarding silver coins which were soon discontinued. For various reasons, that we won't get into, that shortage lasted into 1965 when using silver for coinage was no longer feasible and the Treasury began creating clad coins.
Today's coin shortage, it could be argued, is a result the Covid19 Scare...I won't call it a pandemic, because I do not believe it really is one. Businesses have been forced, by government overreach, to close. People have been unconstitutionally "locked down" into their houses, and money is not flowing like it was before the scare. Business closure along with the U.S. Mint's decreased staffing in response the the Covid19 Scare, is the core reason we are experiencing a shortage. Additionally as businesses are opening back up, and demand has increased, supply is low and demand is high - simple economics.
What Is The Solution To The Coin Shortage?
According to a CBS article, Americans throw out $62 million dollars in change each year. The TSA apparently finds close to 3/4 of a million dollars in lost coins each year, that if not claimed, belongs to them. In addition to this, people are notorious for losing coins. They are dropped, pennies are discarded like trash by some.
One easy answer to the coin shortage is for everyone to go to their night stand, vase, piggy bank, or wherever else you store your loose change and simply take it in to the bank and exchange it for cash.
One group, however, has a more creative solution. Metal detectorists world wide know just how much loose change is lost each year. People lose a tremendous amount of money each year in their yards, on the beach, in parks, along sidewalks, parking lots...literally everywhere. Personally, I have bags of pennies and rolls of quarters, dimes, and nickels I have recovered from the earth. Many from the beach which are pretty roached from the salt water. I have recovered coins from modern day pennies to an 1800's Morgan Silver Dollar and anything in between. Any given day I can cruise down to the local park and collect enough coins metal detecting to buy myself lunch...at McDonalds. This is called the sport of Coinshooting - metal detecting for the sole purpose of finding coins. And, let me tell you, there are a lot of them out there. I have owned a few properties since I began detecting about 10 years ago. I have dug up a great many coins from my own back yards.
One popular forum called Treasurenet.com discusses this in a group. User mlayer says,
"Well right now I have been lucky enough to find just over a $100 every year for the last 5 years. I just need to get out more and then I would find more of it. But I really love finding the gold and silver jewerly that is lost.....Matt"
Clearly Matt is an avid detectorist. This may not be the case for most, but I would assume a good average in clad coin alone would be about $20 per person (this doesn't include silver and gold finds). This is an estimate assuming that some of our customers aren't avid detectorists, but I can tell you a great many of them are. Just to do a small internal study, our client list was 16,000 deep as of June. If each one finds only $20 per year, that means our customers alone find somewhere around $320,000 each year in lost coins! Imagine, how much is dug up each year by metal detectorists across the country each year!
A person could spend a fortune, should they choose, purchasing a metal detector. The good news is, to find coins, you can use just about any metal detector. For example for only $169 you can buy a Garrett Ace 200, which is plenty of metal detector to find coins.
Now, if everyone would do their part, purchase a metal detector and start searching their yards, common areas, along sidewalks, local parks, etc., perhaps we could bring this nationwide coin shortage to a swift end. ;)
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- Josh Turpin