Financial innovation seems to have had little impact on the oldest medium of transaction, namely cash. The ratio of currency in circulation to GDP has increased in most countries, independently of the continuing spread of cashless transactions. Currency is part of the monetary base. Its increase thus leads to an automatic increase in central banks’ balance sheets. This becomes relevant when the size of a central bank’s balance sheet becomes a policy instrument. Taking account of the increase in cash holdings can lead to a different view of the monetary policy stance over longer periods of time. Holding the size of the overall balance sheet constant is equivalent to a gradual exit when currency holdings continue to increase.
This policy contribution was prepared for the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament (ECON) as an input for the Monetary Dialogue of 29 May 2017 between Committee and the President of the European Central Bank (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/econ/monetary-dialogue.html). Copyright remains with the European Parliament at all times.
Daniel Gros is Director of CEPS.