Really Small Change

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary It happens every now and then. While filling my car up with gas, the gas pump will hit instead of the exact amount it will show one penny over. Normally, the person at the cash register will have a tray of pennies on hand to deal with this discrepancy. Or I have to come up with the penny myself (or a nickel or dime if nothing else). Yes, it is an inconvenience, but well these things happen. Like Canada, there has been talk about abolishing the U.S. penny, and all monetary transactions calculated to the next lowest monetary unit will be done (for example, if you have $10.01 in gas, then it will calculated to be $10.00 even. Anything above, say three cents, and then it will be probably $10.05). Personally, I seriously doubt that the United States will get rid of the penny. Even though the penny actually costs three cents to make, and phasing out the penny would save this country mega-backs, I do not see it happening anytime soon.

But while we may think of the U.S. penny as that low, almost useless coin in our purse or wallet, there are currencies with coins with even lower value than the U.S. penny. One example is Tanzania. The lowest coin in that country, the Tanzanian five cent piece, is almost entirely worthless. It would take 325 Tanzanian five cent coins to equal one U.S. penny. As you might have guessed, they sit in Tanzanian bank vaults doing absolutely nothing. Can you imagine, 325 coins just to equal one U.S. penny?! But believe it or not there are countries with small coin denominations that are even worse than the Tanzanian five cent coin. Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) smallest denomination is the one pya. It would take 855 pyas to equal one U.S. penny. But the worst most single lowest denomination coin is Uzbekistan’s one tiyin. It would take 1,999 tiyins to equal one U.S. penny! Needless to say, the value of the one tiyin is not even worth the aluminium it is struck on. Of course, there are countries where their lowest denomination coins are worth more than the U.S. penny. Two examples are Norway and Sweden. The Norwegian one krone is worth 18.2 U.S. pennies, and the Swedish one krona is worth 15.8 U.S. pennies (cannot figure out what to do with the decimal points in making change for a certain amount of exchange for U.S. pennies). Now that kind of small change I would not mind having! But, when I think of how many currencies are worth far less than the U.S. dollar these days, I do not seem to mind the U.S. penny too much anymore.

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