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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An early pandemic problem that plagued businesses is back: not enough change to go around.

Why it matters: The pandemic broke America's coin flow. It has repercussions for millions that rely on it for daily transactions.

Driving the news: The Federal Reserve last week began limiting how many quarters and dimes a bank can order. That impacts the number of coins that banks can offer customers (like stores).

  • Of note: The limits are modest compared with those set at the height of the bottleneck last summer, which were eased earlier this year.

What's going on: Banks are ramping up coin orders. But how much the Fed has to offer is "below normal levels." Coin deposits have been falling for months.

  • Why do banks want more coins? The latest stimulus checks and the economic reopening could jolt customer needs. Plus, there's a regular uptick in demand this time of year, per a Fed spokesperson.

Flashback: When people locked down en masse, change stopped flowing as more opted for digital payments. That habit may be sticking.

  • Normally, for every 10 coins the Fed pushes out to banks, as many as eight end up back there — and the cycle continues.
  • But only half that number were coming back during the pandemic, says Hannah Walker, who heads up political affairs at the Food Industry Association.

Where it stands: "What we don't know is have spending habits changed such that maybe there are coin orders in excess of what they need to be?" says Chris Hill, CFO of Bankers’ Bank of the West.

  • Walker and Hill are part of the U.S. Coin Task Force — a group spurred by the pandemic. (Yes, they are meeting again.)

What to watch: Pushes to get spare change moving.

  • It's happening in Wisconsin: North Shore Bank on Monday started offering free coin-to-cash exchanges, so it can "put those coins back into circulation," says Craig Witz, vice president of branch banking.

Go deeper

Updated 22 mins ago - Science

NTSB probes crash that killed 10 in Alabama as storms lash Southeast

A car drives in the rain in Galveston, Texas. Photo: Zeng Jingning/China News Service via Getty Images

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Sunday that it's investigating a fiery multi-vehicle weekend crash in Alabama that killed 10 people, including nine children, as storms swept the Southeast.

The big picture: Saturday's crash on Interstate 65, south of Montgomery, occurred amid a tropical depression that left 13 people dead in Alabama as it triggered flash floods and spawned tornadoes that razed "dozens of homes," per AP.

Laurel Hubbard to become 1st openly trans athlete to compete at Olympics

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, when she became the first openly transgender athlete to represent NZ. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has announced that Laurel Hubbard has been selected for the women's weightlifting team for the Tokyo Games — making her the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the event.

The big picture: Hubbard, 43, is part of a five-member Kiwi weightlifting team and will compete in the women's super heavyweight category. Meanwhile, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe will become the first openly trans athlete to travel to the Olympics with Team USA, when she arrives in Tokyo as a reserve rider.

American Airlines cuts hundreds of flights amid demand surge

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

American Airlines announced Sunday that it's cutting some 950 flights from its schedule, including 296 this weekend, to reduce potential pressure on its operations, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

Driving the news: The U.S. vaccine rollout has led to a massive increase in travel bookings. The airline noted in an emailed statement that it's facing an "incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand."