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Eunji Kim/MEDILL

One of these pennies is not like the other: The one on the left is still alive, the one on the right is history.

Pinching the penny not likely in U.S. soon

by Eunji Kim
Feb 06, 2013

Hold on to your pennies—for now, at least.

The spotlight is back on the stalled U.S. debate on whether to eliminate pennies to cut costs after Canada distributed its last pennies on Monday.

In the U.S., the debate started 23 years ago, when Congress first took up the issue—but the bill failed to pass.

Similar bills were introduced in 2001 and 2006 but suffered the same fate.

One Chicago coin dealer said the U.S. could follow Canada’s lead today and there would be no negative impact.

David Greenstein, a numismatist at Harlan J. Berk Ltd. in the Loop said the move will not give rise to inflation nor would the rounding policy that would take effect after an elimination, such is happening in Canada, affect sale prices too much, contrary to opponents’ beliefs.

But the debate is ongoing.

In April of last year, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology looked into the impact of government savings if penny production ceases.

That was the last official governmental action.

Other countries, including Canada, progressed better: Australia, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Netherlands and Sweden all have gotten rid of their versions of the penny.

Officials say it cost Canada 1.6 cents to produce one penny. It will save $11 million annually.
U.S. estimates the production of pennies cost $44 million.

According to a poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International last year, 67 percent of Americans favored keeping the penny in circulation.