Your bank or grocery store might be out of coins, but the Fed says there’s not actually a shortage – people just aren’t using them

change drawer coin shortage
The empty change drawer of the cash register at Symbiote Collectibles in West Reading, PA July 9, 2020.

  • The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the availability of quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies.
  • Unlike supply issues that have affected computer chips and lumber, there’s no actual shortage of coins.
  • Roughly $48.5 billion of coins are in circulation, but much of that is “sitting dormant,” the Fed says.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If you’ve gone to the bank or grocery store recently, you may have noticed an availability problem that originally reared its head at the height of the pandemic last year: there aren’t any coins.

Meanwhile, manufacturers can’t get enough semiconductor chips because there aren’t enough being made. Home prices are at record highs because there aren’t enough houses. Used-car prices are soaring because there’s no such thing as a used car factory.

So when is a shortage not really a shortage?

Last month, the US Federal Reserve acknowledged that businesses and banks in various parts of the country were once again having a hard time getting their hands on enough quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies.

But this time is different.

“Since mid-June of 2020, the U.S. Mint has been operating at full production capacity,” the bank said. Last year the Mint produced 14.8 billion coins, up 24% from the year before.

It’s not a shortage, per se, but that doesn’t explain why you can’t get a roll of quarters to do your laundry.

To find out, the Fed and other partners did what they do best: convened a task force.

The US Coin Task Force discovered that of the roughly $48.5 billion of metal currency in circulation, much is “sitting dormant” in the pockets, jars, and couch cushions of America’s 128 million households.

In other words, there are more than enough coins in existence, they just aren’t flowing smoothly thought the economy. Money, as you may recall, serves three key functions: a unit of account, a store of value, and a medium of exchange.

“The weak circulation affects most everyone, but the hardest hit are small cash-dependent businesses and those who are least well off,” task force member Hannah vL. Walker said in a statement. “For millions of Americans, cash is the only form of payment.”

Right now, the dormant coins are performing the first two roles just fine and failing at the third. The problem for the Mint is that it can’t arbitrarily make more coins available without causing a lot of other problems in the US monetary system.

The tack force recommends an even simpler solution: break open that piggy bank.

“If just a fraction of the coin sitting dormant in households and businesses is redeemed and reused, this problem can be greatly reduced,” the task force said.

By spending, depositing, or converting unneeded coins, the Mint said consumers can help close the circulation loop that has been disrupted over the past year and get a small but important part of the market moving again.

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Ever Given, the massive ship blocking the Suez Canal for 6 days, has been partially freed

ever given refloated video
An image showing the Ever Given’s position as of Monday.

  • After six days being stuck, the Ever Given was refloated on Monday.
  • The massive cargo vessel caused a blockage in the Suez Canal, straining global trade.
  • It’s still not known when the canal will be open the hundreds of ships waiting to enter.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The massive container ship stuck in the Suez Canal was refloated on Monday.

The Ever Given had been stuck diagonally across the canal since Tuesday, clogging a vital artery for the global economy and prompting some ships to turn around and reroute around Africa’s southern tip.

The vessel’s stern was moved 334 feet away from the bank, according to a Monday statement from the Suez Canal Authority.

With the bow freed from the banks of the canal, tugboats then began working on straightening the vessel’s course so it could continue moving up the waterway, The Wall Street Journal reported early on Monday.

The ship’s rudder was freed from the sediment on Friday.

“It is good news,” Osama Rabie, the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, told The Journal. “We are not finished yet, but it has moved.”

A shipping source told Reuters that the ship had restarted its engines. Two sources also told the outlet that the ship was straightened and would be inspected before being moved.

Bloomberg reported that more than 450 vessels were in line to use the canal once it reopened. It is not clear when the channel will be passable for other ships.

Mohab Mamish, the Egyptian president’s advisor for the canal authority, told Bloomberg it would take about a week to clear the backlog once the canal was navigable again.

The impact on supply chains is expected to last several months, however, according to Lloyd’s List.

“For every day the canal remains blocked, the ripple effects on global capacity and equipment continues to increase and the blockage triggers a series of further disruptions and backlogs in global shipping that could take months to unravel, even after the canal is reopened,” the journal quoted the Danish shipping company Maersk as saying.

Reuters reported that crude oil prices fell by $1 a barrel to $63.67 on news of the refloating.

The 1,300-foot-long cargo ship, one of the world’s largest, became wedged in the Suez Canal early Tuesday morning. Egyptian officials initially blamed the weather, including strong winds and a dust storm. But on Saturday, officials said the logjam could be the result of “technical or human errors.”

The blockage prompted some ships to take a costly, dangerous detour thousands of miles around the southern tip of Africa and was said to be costing the global economy $400 million an hour in delayed goods.

The Ever Given is operated by the Taiwan-based shipping company Evergreen Group.

suez canal ever given egypt
The Ever Given, one of the world’s largest container ships, seen Friday after it ran aground in the Suez Canal.

Tugboats and dredgers had been working to free the ship for days with little success.

In a video shared on Twitter, boats could be heard honking after the ship was freed. Another clip appeared to show the ship moving again as the sun was rising.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Massive ship blocking the Suez Canal has been freed

suez canal ever given egypt
Stranded container ship Ever Given, one of the world’s largest container ships, is seen after it ran aground, in Suez Canal, Egypt March 26, 2021

  • After being stuck since Tuesday, the Ever Given has been “partially refloated.”
  • The massive cargo vessel caused a blockage in the Suez Canal, straining global trade.
  • It’s still not known when the canal will be open the hundreds of ships waiting to enter.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A massive container ship stuck in the Suez Canal has been “partially refloated,” Bloomberg News reported, citing shipping services provider Inchcape. Inchcape said in a tweet the boat is now being “secured.”

The Ever Given had been stuck sideways across Egypt’s canal since Tuesday, clogging a vital artery for the global economy and forcing multiple ships to turn around and reroute through Africa.

After freeing the bow from the banks of the canal, tugboats are now working on straitening the vessel’s course so it can continue moving up the waterway, the Wall Street Journal reported. The ship’s rudder was freed from the sediment on Friday.

“It is good news,” Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, told The Journal. “We are not finished yet, but it has moved.”

A shipping source told Reuters that the ship has restarted its engines. Two sources also told the outlet that the ship was straightened and will be inspected before being moved.

It’s unclear how soon the canal would be opened up to the hundreds of ships that are stuck waiting for it to clear.

Reuters reported that following news the ship was refloated, crude oil prices fell by $1 per barrel to $63.67.

The 1,300 foot-long cargo ship, one of the world’s largest, became wedged in the Suez Canal early Tuesday morning. Egyptian officials initially blamed the weather, including strong winds and a dust storm. But on Saturday, officials said the logjam could be the result of “technical or human errors.”

The nearly six-day blockage forced some ships to take a costly, dangerous detour thousands of miles around the southern tip of Africa and was reportedly costing the global economy $400 million an hour in delayed goods. The Ever Given is operated by the Taiwan-based shipping company Evergreen Group.

Tugboats and dredgers had been working to free the ship for days with little success.

In a video shared on Twitter, boats could be heard honking after the ship was freed. Another clip appeared to show the ship moving again as the sun was rising.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider