Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is the Treasury About To Take Pennies and Nickels Out of Circulation?

I always liked that Johnny Cash song "One Piece At a Time" by Johhny Cash. of course it's a song about a career thief who assembles a primo Cadillac from parts he stole while working at the factory over many years, but the idea always stuck with me: assembling something valuable slowly, surely. An article I read at Dirty tricks squad today about the value of a nickel really intrigued me. According to the website Coinflation, which tracks the bullion value of coins, the American nickel was worth 5.35 cents today. Not the coin itself, but the metal in the coin, which is composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel. In short, you could walk into Chase bank, give them a twenty dollar bill and walk out with something like twenty-two dollars worth of bullion. Which means exactly nothing unless the Treasury lifts the melt ban on pennies and nickels the way they did with silver coins in 1964, but it also means if you give them a twenty dollar bill they give you twenty dollars in return.

And while pennies and nickels will likely never attain the value silver coins did, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has indicated pennies and nickels might start to be withdrawn from circulation as early as January 2013. 

It cost much more to mint the penny and the nickel than they are worth. I'm not convinced they will be removed from circulation anytime soon, but an announcement would cause a hoarding of these coins. That would lead possibly to a lowering of prices because everyone would have them, but as more and more was melted down the price would start to rise again, and if you could sit on a nice stash of pennies and nickels and ride it out while everyone else cashed there's in, you'd probably see a nice windfall eventually.

And you can get them one piece at a time. 

February 21, 2013 update: Nickel prices soared a couple of weeks ago, and appeared to be headed towards ten dollar a pound, which would have been a 25% increase, before collapsing this week and losing more that the original gains. But that huge move is likely to happen again, so keep collecting.

Also, President Obama said he would retire the penny if possible. The run hasn't begun yet, so let others laugh as you stockpile the very thing they'll be overpaying to accumulate shortly. 
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  2. When do you think the Treasury will lift the melt ban, and wouldn't that depress the bullion value as everyone will immediately hoard whatever coins are still in circulation?

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