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Falling $1 Bill Demand May Limit Coin Savings: Chart of the Day

Dollar bills may fade from U.S. circulation even if lawmakers ignore a government agency’s opinion that switching to coins would save money.

As the CHART OF THE DAY shows, the number of new bills printed in the latest fiscal year fell 31 percent from a year earlier, according to data compiled by the Treasury Department. The drop to 2.02 billion in the year ended Sept. 30 reflected a trend since fiscal 2000, when the total peaked at 5.19 billion.

“The popularity of ‘everyday’ paper money” has declined as more people use credit cards, debit cards and Internet-based services to pay bills, Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx Group, wrote two days in a report. He defined everyday money as $1 through $50 bills.

New bills are printed mainly to replace worn-out currency, the New York-based strategist wrote. “This happens more quickly when a bill is circulated and used more often” and vice versa, his report said.

There were more $100 bills printed last fiscal year than any other denomination, according to the government’s data. New $100 bills exceeded new dollar bills for the second time in the past three years, as the chart shows. The dollar bill was the most printed annually from 1980 through 2009.

Using $1 coins in place of bills would save $4.4 billion over 30 years because the money would last longer, according to the Government Accountability Office. The estimate, originally made in February, was cited in the GAO’s testimony last week before a House subcommittee.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Wilson in New York at dwilson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Nagi at chrisnagi@bloomberg.net

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