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Canada Bids Its Penny Goodbye; Should The U.S.?

Canada is changing its change.

The USA's northern neighbor on Monday stopped distributing pennies. Going forward, stores "up there" will be rounding prices to the nearest nickel (sometimes up!). It's all part of a plan, as Planet Money has reported, to save the government $11 million a year. No more spending 1.6 cents or so to make a coin worth just a ... penny.

In The Wall Street Journal last month, Medallic Art Company historian D. Wayne Johnson made the case for eliminating the U.S. penny as well as the nickel and quarter to save on minting costs. NPR's Scott Simon doubts any of that will happen anytime soon because politics makes it truly tough to phase out coinage that comes with presidents' profiles. And BloombergBusinessweek has pointed out that "plenty of Americans like pennies and their Honest Abe heritage. Those enthusiasts, along with industry lobbies, have rallied to support the coins when there has been movement to kill them."

So it probably won't happen. But should the U.S. penny join its Canadian cousin in the home for retired coins?

Note: That's just a question, not a scientific survey of public opinion.

For more news about Canadian currencies, see our earlier post: "Whoa Canada! New Currency Has 'Wrong' Maple Leaf?"

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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