Powell: COVID-19 Affecting Availability of Coins for Banks

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the regular flow of coinage through the economy and the availability of coins for banks, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said today. With many stores and other commercial venues closed for much of the spring, “the flow of coins through the economy has stopped,” Powell told the House Financial Services Committee.

“We’re well aware of this; we’re working with the Mint and the reserve banks,” Powell added. “As the economy reopens, we’re beginning to see coins move around again.” Powell made the comments in response to a question from Rep. John Rose (R-Tenn.), who noted that several banks in his district had reported shortages of coin shipments from their regional Fed banks. “If your bank hasn’t already done so, they should certainly be in touch with their reserve bank to report the situation,” Powell told Rose.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, a Fed spokesman said that coin deposits from banks to the Fed were down by about 50% year-on-year since the pandemic took hold in March, a situation exacerbated by shortfalls in coin production at U.S. Mint facilities.