16 May 2017

Implications of the expanding use of cash for monetary policy

Daniel Gros

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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 document was requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.