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🏦 Making Cents

It’s a good time for those of us who don’t like change. Today we’re talking about the US coin shortage, how it started, and what it means for you.

Abby Hadidian
Abby Hadidian

It’s a good time for those of us who don’t like change. Today we’re talking about the US coin shortage, how it started, and what it means for you.

This may or may not just be an excuse to make a lot of coin puns….

📰 In the Headlines

Breaking down some of this week's biggest stories

🇺🇸  Markets Shrug Off VP Debate as Fears Fade

Translation: The stock market had its best day since July yesterday

It looks like Kamala and Mike pulled through. After last week's interesting display between Donald and Biden, the VP candidates gave a much more reassuring performance and the stock market reflected that. This may mean that the election will have a smaller impact on the market than we thought… or that the Vice President doesn't matter.

🍟  McDonald’s Boosts Dividend as U.S. Sales Turn Positive

Translation: McDonalds made a profit and will be sharing it with stockholders

If you own stock in McDonalds, you’re in for a (small) treat. The fast food chain saw a boost in sales the past few months, and are trying to make their stock more attractive to investors by sharing the wealth.

🐭  Activist investor wants Disney to cancel its dividend and invest in Disney+

Translation: Disney is in for some big, long-term changes

There is a lot to unpack with this one. Activist investors are people who buy a big share of a company, then try to use that power to influence decisions the company executives make. It sounds like the team at Disney is getting requests for more of those 90’s sitcom throwbacks.

The Big Short-age

We’ve experienced some strange shortages during the COVID pandemic; toilet paper, eggs, and in July, I went to 3 different grocery stores just for one bag of flour. But the strangest has to be the US coin shortage.

For the past few months, the US has been facing a coin shortage of historic proportions. So historic, that the Federal Reserve, or the government organization that makes all our money, has created a special task force to fix the problem.

Why is this shortage occurring?

3 reasons you may be finding yourself looking under couch cushions:

  • Manufacturing Shutdowns - When COVID lockdowns first hit in early March, that included the coin factories as well. This was only a temporary setback, and the U.S. Mint has been back to full production capacity since mid-June, but that gap in manufacturing is taking its toll.
  • Penny Pinching - With the rise in unemployment and stores shutting their doors, Americans are just spending less money. That means your coins have been staying put in that jar on your nightstand.
  • Credit is King - As more Americans are shifting their preferences to online shopping and contactless payments, credit cards are dominating the way we pay.  Let's be honest, we all feel so much cooler when swiping that platinum card.
What does this mean?

Imagine what a world with fewer coins would look like; Fountains have less wishes, gum-ball purchases drop, and entire new industries rise up.

Here are the companies that have the most to benefit from Americans going cashless:

  • 🍞 Toast - Before the pandemic, more small businesses were starting to rely on POS technology like Clover, Toast, and Square to handle small transactions. Sure enough, Square’s stock has been on a consistent incline since March.
  • 🛍  Shopify - A lot of small online stores use  payment processing software like Stripe or Shopify to process credit card payments.
  • 🍏 Apple - Contactless payments have finally arrived. As people head back out to shop in-person, phone enabled payments like Apple Pay are the safest way to shop while maintaining their distance.

When it comes to coins, the US government knows what it's doing. But this coin shortage is just increasing the trend away from cash we were seeing before the pandemic. Eventually, unemployment will go down and stores will reopen, but it will take a lot more to get Americans back to using cash.

Word of the Day


(n.) When a company decides to share their profits with the investors who own their stock.

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Abby Hadidian

Newsletter writer for Four Minute Finance | Econ Nerd & Pun Enthusiast