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Episode 539: What's A Penny Worth?

Planet Money's Jacob Goldstein and Robert Smith bought a washer for two cents in a hardware store in Manhattan.
Planet Money's Jacob Goldstein and Robert Smith bought a washer for two cents in a hardware store in Manhattan.

This show originally ran in 2014.

A penny is a strange thing. It ismoney, but it's just about worthless. It's near impossible to buy something with just one penny. (Trust us. We tried.) And yet, the penny doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

Today on the show: Three stories about the one-cent piece. First, we comb Manhattan to find something (anything!) we can purchase for one cent. Next, we talk to a guy who's betting on the government to kill the penny. And finally, we hear how one-cent transactions might just transform the internet.

Music: "Chelsea Boys" and "We Got It All Right Here."

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Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.
Robert Smith is a host for NPR's Planet Money where he tells stories about how the global economy is affecting our lives.
Jacob Goldstein is an NPR correspondent and co-host of the Planet Money podcast. He is the author of the book Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing.
Zoe Chace explains the mysteries of the global economy for NPR's Planet Money. As a reporter for the team, Chace knows how to find compelling stories in unlikely places, including a lollipop factory in Ohio struggling to stay open, a pasta plant in Italy where everyone calls in sick, and a recording studio in New York mixing Rihanna's next hit.