A new GAO report comes to a familiar conclusion: The U.S. could save money by replacing the $1 bill with $1 coins.
The shift would cost money in the short term, but would save a total of $5.5 billion over 30 years, according to the report.
The savings comes from the fact that lots of coins wind up sitting idle in coin jars and under sofa cushions, according to the report. All those idle coins are, effectively, an interest-free loan to the government.
Canada, Europe and Japan have already gotten rid of their equivalents of dollar bills. And their experience shows that you have to get rid of the bills altogether before people start making widespread use of coins of equivalent value.
The bottom line, according to the report: People prefer bills to coins. That may be why Congress hasn't gotten rid of the dollar bill, despite repeated reports pointing out that getting rid of it would save money.
Planet Money Question of the Day: Should the government get rid of the $1 bill to save money? Or is it more trouble than it's worth? Let us know in the comments.
For more: see this post from NPR's The Two-Way
Thanks to Planet Money listener Scott P. for bringing this report to our attention.