U.S. Coins: Benefits and Considerations for Replacing the $1 Note with a $1 Coin

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "GAO reported in February 2012 that replacing $1 notes with $1 coins could potentially provide $4.4 billion in net benefits to the federal government over 30 years. The overall net benefit was due solely to increased seigniorage and not to reduced production costs. Seigniorage is the difference between the cost of producing coins or notes and their face value; it reduces government borrowing and interest costs, resulting in a financial benefit to the government. GAO’s estimate takes into account processing and production changes that occurred in 2011, including ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. November 29, 2012.

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "GAO reported in February 2012 that replacing $1 notes with $1 coins could potentially provide $4.4 billion in net benefits to the federal government over 30 years. The overall net benefit was due solely to increased seigniorage and not to reduced production costs. Seigniorage is the difference between the cost of producing coins or notes and their face value; it reduces government borrowing and interest costs, resulting in a financial benefit to the government. GAO’s estimate takes into account processing and production changes that occurred in 2011, including the Federal Reserve’s use of new equipment to determine the quality and authenticity of notes, which has increased the expected life of the note thereby reducing the costs of circulating a note over 30 years. (The $1 note is expected to last 4.7 years and the $1 coin 30 years.) Like all estimates, there are uncertainties surrounding GAO’s estimate, especially since the costs of the replacement occur in the first several years and can be estimated with more certainty than the benefits, which are less certain because they occur further in the future. Moreover, changes to the inputs and assumptions GAO used in the estimate could significantly increase or decrease the results. For example, if the public relies more heavily on electronic payments in the future, the demand for cash could be lower than GAO estimated and, as a result, the net benefit would be lower."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • November 29, 2012

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. U.S. Coins: Benefits and Considerations for Replacing the $1 Note with a $1 Coin, text, November 29, 2012; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc298132/: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.