While the United States is going through a deep economic and labor crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the country is also suffering from a shortage of coins. What is the reason?
In the midst of the crisis, with millions of people unemployed following a wave of layoffs due to a halt in economic activity, the shortage of coins is a symbol of the lack of money that many American families suffer.
The situation has reached the point that several retail associations in the country have formally urged in a letter to the Federal Reserve and the Department of the Treasury to take "quick" measures to respect and facilitate the flow of coins.
Specifically, they stressed that cash represents more than a third of the funds personally exchanged by US consumers, and has a particular impact on people with lower incomes.
In the United States, almost 25% of the population is unbanked or underbanked, that is, they have to resort to unconventional financial services, so they have little access to plastic money.
The problem has not stopped growing and has already been discussed in Congress.
"What has happened is that, with the partial shutdown of the economy, the currency flow seems to have almost stopped," explained Jerome Powell, chairman of the Fed, in an appearance in July before the House Financial Services Committee.
Although in recent weeks it has resumed normal activity, the US Mint had limited the number of employees in the spring at its various facilities to avoid the spread of the coronavirus,
But the main cause seems to be the closure of businesses and the economic stagnation that it has caused. Many currencies that are usually exchanged did not move anymore, which substantially altered the circulation.
Powell indicated that it is a "temporary" situation derived mainly from "distribution" problems and said that the central bank is working with the banks of the Fed's districts to ensure that "the supply goes where it has to go."
Also, the Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, made an unusual call to citizens: "If you have extra coins at home, please use them to make purchases, deposit them in the bank or try to exchange them."
"Help the currencies move," he added in a message on his Twitter account.