WASHINGTON (ZeroHedge/Agencies): Metals have long held intrinsic value, and precious metals like gold and silver are universally recognized as valuable commodities. However, there’s an unexpected contender in the value game: zinc. Specifically, the humble US penny, primarily composed of zinc, has become a topic of debate due to its production cost and nominal worth.

Here’s the paradox: while it costs approximately three cents to produce a single penny, its face value is merely one cent. This discrepancy represents a form of reverse seigniorage, where the cost of minting exceeds the coin’s actual value. As a result, calls for abolishing the penny have grown louder.

  • Arguments for Retaining the Penny

Despite its financial inefficiency, some arguments persist in favor of keeping the penny:

  • Supporting the Zinc Mining Industry: The penny’s production sustains the zinc mining sector, providing jobs and economic activity. Advocates argue that eliminating the penny could have unintended consequences for this industry.
  • Cashless Economy Concerns: Critics worry that moving away from physical currency entirely might disadvantage certain segments of the population, particularly those who rely on cash transactions. The penny, even if seemingly insignificant, contributes to maintaining a cash-based system.
  • The Diminishing Value of the Penny

However, the penny’s diminishing value raises broader questions about monetary policies and the effectiveness of maintaining such a low-denomination coin. In an era of digital payments and rising inflation, the penny’s practicality wanes. Denominating prices in fractions of a cent seems increasingly obsolete, especially when considering the average American wage.

  • Historical Context: The Half-Cent Coin

Interestingly, the United States once had a half-cent coin. Introduced in 1793, it circulated until 1857 when it was officially abolished. The reason? Its value had become too insignificant. Even back then, the half-cent coin was considered impractical due to its limited purchasing power.

As discussions continue, the potential abolition of the penny reflects broader concerns about currency devaluation and the future of fiat money. Whether the penny remains a cultural relic or meets its demise, its fate underscores the evolving landscape of American currency.

By Media

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