According to an NPR story this week, the Federal Reserve is sitting on a billion dollars worth of the $1 Sacagawean and Presidential coins, and the program to replace dollar bills with the metal coins has largely been deemed a failure. The government spends millions annually to mint new coins in order to introduce all the US presidents, resulting in millions languishing in vaults a la “Scrooge McDuck” said Planet Money’s David Kestenbaum. Despite the fact that they are legal tender and the government’s many efforts to promote their use, Americans still distrust the dollar coin.
Why the reason for the distrust? Americans claim they are difficult to spend, not recognized by many merchants, or just weigh down pockets too much. Perhaps we should ask our foreign neighbors how they have integrated them into daily life. America is one of the few countries in the developed world to use a $1 banknote and the only one of the top five traded currencies (including the Euro, British Pound, Japanese Yen, and Australian dollars) to use a bill in such a small denomination. Canada replaced the dollar bill with the “loonie” coin in 1987 and the British pound note has been out of circulation since 1983. Is taking away the $1 bill the only way to get Americans to use the coin? We reported earlier this year on a possible way to earn frequent flyer miles by purchasing dollar coins, a legal (but not encouraged by the US Mint) practice that may actually contribute to this back log of currency. Maybe go out and spend the coins instead and hope the trend catches on.
Photo courtesy Flickr user cometstarmoon. Hat tip to Honza Kerver for the NPR story link.
The meal was delicious, and the atmosphere was divine, but then it comes time for the bill. As long as you know numbers in the native tongue, dealing with the bill should be no problemo. Perhaps you know your basic, uno, dos, tres… but try learn more numbers in the native tongue.
Parts of Italy are especially notorious for using some fast-talking to try and overcharge for even your basic bowl of penne. Make sure you have no problem asking for correct change or asserting that your meal was trece (13) euros — not treinta (30).
Pro tip: When you arrive in-country, look carefully at the money from that place. Learn what the different colors or sizes of the bills indicate. Later, when you’re feeling rushed — perhaps you’ve been drinking? — you want to feel comfortable with the cash and not throw down the equivalent of $100 when all you ordered was two beers.
Visitors to London may find that if they aren’t careful, they could wind up with some strange fingers in their pockets or purses. And while that’s nothing new, this time it might not be a bad thing. A group of former pick-pockets is working the streets of London this month, but instead of stealing money, they are giving it away to their unsuspecting “victims”.
The “put-pocketing” plan is being funded by a local broadband provider called TalkTalk and carried out by 20 former-pickpockets who want to make up for the wrongdoings of their pasts. Between July 1 and the end of the month, at least £100,000 will be given away, mostly in £5 and £20 increments, as a marketing promotion for the company. The covert deposits are taking place in busy areas like Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus and on the Tube. According to the Communications Director of TalkTalk, the areas where the money will be given out were strategically chosen “as we want to give the money to people who actually need it.”
While it would be nice to find an extra £20 note in my pocket at the end of the day, I think I’d stay vigilant. I’m sure there are still a number of unreformed pick-pockets out there who, if they get their hands into your bag, will not be kindly leaving you some cash. And now they have the perfect alibi if they get caught: “Of course I wasn’t stealing your wallet. I was giving you money!”
In case you’ve been time traveling and are confused, utility companies in Adelaide, Australia do not accept drawings of spiders as payment for utility bills. Read the article here.
I’m disappointed, of course, that artwork is still not accepted as currency. Just imagine the kind of economy we could build:
If someone rich was owed money by someone poor, the poor person could just draw a picture, and the rich person could hang it on their wall. Or, if a poor person wanted food, they could just draw a picture of the food they wanted and then leave the drawing on the shelf at the grocery store, confidently striding out the door with the item. But then, of course, rich people would want to pay for things with artwork, too, so eventually someone would have to judge how much each work of art is worth. Thusly, this new economy, which for just a moment teetered on the edge of communism, would become a dictatorship – unless, of course, there were some kind of international online community where everyone in the world could vote and value each piece of new art democratically. A new world economy would be born. What? It’s better than the one we have right now. . .
I think maybe David Thorne traveled to the future.