Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Signs of Inflation

Indications of faster inflation are starting to pop up in some interesting places.

Pocket change is one example. No, I'm not talking rare gold and silver coins, but the every day circulated coinage that we  take for granted and sometimes view as a weighty nuisance.

According to data from the web site, the melt value of modern day (post WWII) nickels is now 6-cents.That's a 20% premium over face value. The government, however, prohibits the melting of U.S. coins to protect against profiteers who would end up causing shortages of coins. Looked at another way, our smart federal government is beginning to lose money on minting nickels. Nickels are composed of both copper and nickel, both of which have skyrocketed in price.

Dimes and quarters, for the time being, still have melt values well below face values.

The ever present Lincoln cent is becoming costlier by the day due to a rise in the price of zinc. Our 1-cent piece is composed mostly of zinc, with just a dollop of copper to give it the "penny" look of copper. According to, the Lincoln penny now has a melt value of 7-tenths of a cent. Should zinc continue to rise, the melt value would soon overtake face value, as it did 3 years ago. Prior to 1983, cents were made up of 95% copper and now sport a melt value of over 2-cents.

This brings new meaning to "don't take any wooden nickels".

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