Shortage of coins affects lower-income consumers - Harris

July 30, 2020

An article in the Los Angeles Times on July 30, states that "the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a coin shortage, and it’s hitting small-business owners, big retailers and everyday shoppers — especially those who don’t have credit or debit cards — in ways big and small."

Ford School professor of practice Adrienne Harris comments about the effects of the coins being stuck in people’s houses.

"Lower-income consumers tend to transact more in cash," she says. "It makes things harder for low-income consumers to get the very basic things they need."

The article says that even before the coin shortage, some businesses wary of handling cash during the coronavirus era were asking customers to use only card or contactless payment methods. That renewed debate over the merits and disadvantages of a so-called cashless society. The implications of the current coin shortage are similar to those of a cashless business but exacerbated because the shortage affects so many retailers.

"It’s a difference of degree, but a dramatic one," Harris says.

The full article can be read here.

Adrienne Harris is Professor of Practice at the Ford School and Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence and Senior Research Fellow with the Center on Finance, Law, and Policy. Prior to joining the Ford School, Harris was the chief business development officer and general counsel for insurance technology company States Title, Inc. She served as special assistant for economic policy to President Obama at the White House National Economic Council, focusing on issues including financial reform, financial technology, and housing finance reform. She had also served as a senior advisor to the deputy secretary in the U.S. Department of Treasury. She practiced law with the firm of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. Harris earned her JD from Columbia Law School and her MBA with specializations in economics and Management from New York University.