Here are the number of pieces in circulation over the past couple years:
Thanks to the miracles of Excel, I was able to use that table to calculate a minimum number of how many pieces have been minted in the past two years, past year, and past month. (Note that this is net of any coins intentionally taken out of service, but that number is probably very small.)
Hannah then asks, again on Twitter, where they all went. My guess, as I mentioned a couple years ago, is that they get sold for scrap metal, most likely before ever leaving the mint.
(Getting the convo started was Tim Worstall, who wrote a nice enough column in Forbes about “reverse seigniorage” but who bizarrely “predicted” that Venezuela would soon face a coin shortage, a prediction that apparently has long since come to pass. Ah, good old Forbes.)
But it occurs to me that the best scam of all would be for someone to buy the coins at face value and then sell them back — to the mint! That way the people at the mint could keep releasing coins into circulation without using the country’s valuable electricity supplies, or cutting into people’s valuable lunch hours. Wouldn’t that be great? Easy money in every sense of the word. Who would notice?