Dick Johnson wrote the following after reading an article about the smuggling of coins from India. -EditorMetalworkers in Bangladesh are smuggling low value coins out of India to melt them for their metal content, to be made into razor blades, fountain pen points and other small metal objects.
This is creating a coin shortage in northeastern India. Merchants there are printing cardboard tokens same size as the coins to overcome the shortage. Sound familiar? This emergency solution has been used universally for hundreds of years.
It will continue in countries throughout the world until governments realize they must eliminate low denomination coins and turn to rounding off to a denomination in which the metal in that denomination coin is not vulnerable to melting.
American Congressmen and U.S. Treasury officials should note this trend as well. This is a lesson in economics they have not learned yet as our cent and five-cent piece face this same vulnerability.
They are calling it the new barter. Across tea gardens in states bordering Bangladesh, workers are encouraged by the owners to accept brown-coloured cardboard tokens instead of the metallic coins issued by state-owned mints across the country. The cardboard tokens are exactly the same size as the coins they represent, with similar values marked on them. Workers use them to buy snacks and tea from the company canteen as they would use coins — and get back change in the form of sweets and cigarettes. That makes these drab tokens legal tender.
To read the article in an Indian newspaper: Ringing In The Change (http://www.tehelka.com/story_main40.asp?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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