Quite unbelievably, it is now more than 27 years since Nigel Lawson, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the £1 note was to be withdrawn to be replaced by the £1 coin. With little more than a passing sigh, the British people let the old green note which had been in existence for more than 150 years, slip off stage with barely a whimper.
Not so the US dollar. The greenback has always been a favourite of the Americans and repeated attempts by the US Treasury to introduce a dollar coin have failed. The most recent of these, the fourth I believe, has resulted in approximately 1 billion of these coins lying unused in a warehouse. The Americans simply won’t use them.
It is somewhat curious why something so innocuous should cause so much offence. In fact, the cost savings of using the coin, with its considerable longer life, than the note, are quite considerable. Yet, Americans simply won’t carry them in their pockets.
One explanation put forward for this is that Americans have traditionally treated all coins as only useful for tipping purposes. Within their infamous tipping culture, “change’s” sole purpose was as a tip. Turning the dollar note into a coin was immediately a challenge to that culture.
Additionally, Americans simply didn’t want them jangling in their pockets and apparently; men in Texas won’t carry purses!
Perhaps as we veer slowly towards a cashless society, the whole issue will ultimately become irrelevant.
There then remains the question, what should they do with all of these unusable coins? One wag suggested that they sell them off at a discount or melt them down to be made into souvenir statues of liberty.
Alternatively, they could consider using them to reduce their eye-watering debt problem although even a billion dollars will probably hardly make a dent.
As a Chartered Accountant and partner in Westbury, Howard Graham has been helping small businesses for the last 30 years. During that time, he has also set up numerous successful businesses including an award winning internet business and a restaurant as well as having an interest in a property company, a farm and a design company. He also is a regular speaker on small business issues as well as writing for the BBC, Microsoft and Imbibe magazine.