Should Federal Reserve provide accounts to all?

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…

 

 

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2 Responses to “Should Federal Reserve provide accounts to all?”

  1. EugenR Says:

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

    Canadian dollar is not a reserve currency, so it can focus its monetary policy in domestic issues, while US dollars are is currency held by foreign governments, mainly China and Japan. The same as the Scandinavians in Europe, they have healthier economy than the rest of Europe in average. Who pays the price? Those who act out of responsibility to others.

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