Pick of the Week: Planet Money – Cage Match: Coin Vs. Bill
Planet Money looks at the debate between keeping the U.S. dollar bill or replacing it with a dollar coin and tries to figure out which makes the most sense. They start out looking at some of the annoyances associated with both types of currency; the frustration of trying to get a dollar bill into a vending machine and the sinking sense many Americans get when they receive dollar coins in change from vending machines. Then, they compare the costs of making dollar coins versus bills (coins cost more to make but last longer, dollar bills are much cheaper to make but don’t last as long). They go on to look at more considerations, such as seigniorage and the coin jar effect (they explain these concepts well), that help decide the winner. I enjoyed their analysis and learned a new word (seigniorage), but there’s a part of me that would like to bypass the debate and analysis and just flip a coin to determine the outcome.
Update: (May 20, 2012)
U.S. currency was a popular topic for podcasts this week. Planet Money’s “Where Dollar Bills Come From” podcast looked at the mill that makes the paper used to make U.S. currency. 99% Invisible’s “The Colour of Money” podcast examined U.S. and Australian paper currency from a design perspective. Both podcasts are worth a listen if you enjoyed Planet Money’s “Cage Match: Coin Vs. Bill.”