The Bitcoin, and a Calvin Coolidge Coin That Merits Concern

May brings an update on the development by the federal government of new coins in its $1 presidential series, begun a few years ago with George Washington. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which oversees coin design, just announced it has chosen among a series of finalists' images portraits of Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt. The selected portrait of the thirtieth president, Coolidge, looks handsome but not happy. This Coolidge emanates concern.

The Coolidge concern, one can imagine, actually relates to the value of the Coolidge coin you will hold in your hand. Coolidge, who served between 1923 and 1929, presided over prosperity. In his era wages rose. Men purchased their first automobile. Households got their first indoor plumbing. The Coolidge era featured strong improvement in output, a top tax rate of 25%, and federal surpluses. Stock prices and the price of real estate in Florida rose in Coolidge's day, but other prices did not. To Coolidge's mind, all of that could be traced to the reliability of the value of a currency. Coolidge liked a coin to be worth what the number on its face said it was, because he knew that if money was stable, people would trade.

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