Archive for August 30th, 2018

Should Federal Reserve provide accounts to all?

August 30, 2018

JP Koning in his new piece points to a new research which suggests to open a FedAccount, a bank account for the excluded:

What if you and I could bank at the Federal Reserve? This is the premise behind a new paper by Morgan Ricks, John Crawford, and Lev Menand titled “A Public Option for Bank Accounts (or Central Banking for All).” Under the authors’ plan, the Fed would provide the public with FedAccounts, interest-paying no-fee accounts that could use the Fed’s underlying payments platform to effect free transfers to other accounts and enable point-of-sale purchases via a Fed-provided debit card. The Fed would not provide account holders with loans. 

While the authors provide a number of motivations for providing FedAccounts, a key one is financial inclusion. Around 7 percent of American households, or 9 million households, are currently unbanked, which means no individual in the household has bank-account access. Not only would the welfare of each individual who gains financial access improve, according to the authors, but society would enjoy significant positive externalities as those on the other side of the equation, say employers or businesses, could use a more efficient payments option.

The authors present central banking for all as a plan targeted at the United States rather than a universal one, and for good reason. Bank penetration is at 99 percent in the United States’ northern neighbor Canada, illustrating that banking is quite capable of filtering into most of society’s nooks and crannies.

Canada provides a natural foil for the United States because it shares many characteristics including geography, culture, and history. Why would bank penetration rates suddenly rise dramatically just a few meters north of the 49th parallel? If we can answer this question, the United States might simply copy whatever Canada is doing rather than experimenting. 

It is amazing how Canada almost has everything better compared to US in monetary matters. But its achievements are barely discussed…



The historical meaning of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s Armistice Day coin

August 30, 2018

Brilliant article by Matthew Wright of RBNZ. You seldom see researchers in a central bank write history of World War-I.

This year the Reserve Bank is releasing a coloured circulating fifty cent coin to mark Armistice Day, the effective end of the First World War. This follows a similar coin issued in 2015 to mark the Gallipoli campaign. Both coins feature new-technology minting processes, and both were especially commissioned to mark these events as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s contribution to the government First World War centenary celebrations.2

This article outlines the historical meaning of the armistice and gives a particular context for the Armistice Day coin. It also describes the special design of the coin, which is one of only two coloured circulating coins issued in New Zealand.


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