Pennies: Why They Won't Go Away

Oh, the poor, pathetic penny....The New Yorker has devoted an entire article to questioning its existence and explaining why it persists despite growing evidence that it's useless, dirty, annoying and maybe just plain stupid.

As I watched new pennies spewing from the Mint's stamping machines, I couldn't help wondering about the fate of all the pennies that had gone before them. The average life span of American pocket change is thirty years. During the past thirty years, the U.S. Mint has produced something like a half trillion coins, most of them cents, yet the Mint estimates that only about three hundred billion coins are currently in circulation. This estimate is probably high, since it includes coins that haven't budged from their coffee cans in years. Even so, the missing change is worth billions. Where is it? Except in rare cases, old coins, unlike old banknotes, aren't withdrawn from circulation by the Federal Reserve. People simply mislay them, eventually, in one way or another, and in most cases they disappear as permanently as if they had been dropped into the sea. Pocket change leaks from the economy the way air leaks from a balloon, and most of what leaks is pennies.

Join the Citizens for Retiring the Penny movement!


Check out some fun facts about the penny.


Bring back penny loafers, which are so ugly they could almost be cool again.


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