Sunday, July 08, 2018

How much cash is out there and where is it?

See Cash Flow or Cash Stash? How Money Moves Around: A record amount of dollars are circulating, but much of it may be hoarded, particularly outside the U.S. by Jo Craven McGinty of The WSJ. Excerpts:
"A record level of U.S. cash is circulating, but Americans aren’t spending the bulk of it.
So, where’s the money?

Up to two-thirds—or as much as $1.07 trillion—is held abroad. About $80 billion is held domestically by depository institutions. And the rest—as little as $453 billion—is in the hands of domestic businesses and individuals.

The exact distribution is unknown because once cash is transferred out of the Federal Reserve’s vaults, it’s virtually impossible to track.

Estimates about the holdings are deduced from orders placed by depository institutions, subsequent reports to the Fed’s Board of Governors and what can be discerned based on denominations in circulation.

Although the Treasury prints more than twice as many $1s, $5s, $10s and $20s combined as it does $100s, the vast majority of the value of circulating currency is represented by Benjamins.

Last year, according to figures published by the Fed, $1.6 trillion was in circulation, including $1.3 trillion in $100 bills, or 80% of the total."

"the bulk of U.S. cash sent abroad is in the form of $100 bills.

“We know this because we see what denominations are sent to international depository institutions,"

"The circulating currency held abroad could range from one-half to two-thirds of the total, the Fed estimates, or a range of $800 billion to $1.07 trillion."

"In 2016, cash accounted for 31% of the number of payments made by Americans—more than any other single payment instrument—but only 7.9% of the value,"

"Debit and credit cards together accounted for 45% of the number of payments and 26% of the value. Electronic transfers accounted for 14% of the number of payments and 43% of the value.

The remainder, around 10% of the payments representing 23% of the value, was made with other instruments including checks, money orders and prepaid cards."

"participants used cash for payments of less than $25. Credit and debit cards were used more frequently for payments between $25 and $100, and checks and electronic payments were generally used for transactions of $100 or more.

There is also evidence that Americans, like people abroad, hoard cash."

"Only half the survey participants were willing to reveal how much cash they had stashed"
Related post: Let’s Not Start a War on Cash by James A. Dorn of The Cato Institute

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