The conference will be staged as a court trial in which cash will be accused with three charges: First, cash is an essential part of many kinds of criminal activities; second, it is an inefficient and outdated means of payment; and third, it prevents central banks from implementing optimal monetary policy in times when price stability would require negative interest rates. To spur a lively discussion we intend to develop the conference in a defense and prosecution part, where witness’ are called to elaborate on the charges. Additional presentations will provide a neutral overview of the current situation of the use of cash in the Eurosystem and of ideas to develop a digital cash by central banks.

The conference deliberations will deal with the following themes:
- Cash: inefficient, outdated and a facilitator of crime?
- Cash: still used vastly, not at the heart of current low inflation rates and keeper of civil rights?
- Central Bank Digital Money and e-Krona: the future?

Jonathan Ashworth, 08 February 2019

On 17 October 2018, Canada legalised recreational cannabis use, with an immediate effect on how Canadian people use cash. Jonathan Ashworth explains to Tim Phillips how legalisation crimps the black economy.

Charles Goodhart, Jonathan Ashworth, 22 January 2019

Canada is the first major developed nation to have legalised recreational cannabis use. This column argues that movements in cash in circulation around the time of legalisation seem to provide early evidence that Prime Minister Trudeau’s policy has already been successful in crimping the black economy. If around one-quarter of the cannabis market remains illegal, as recently estimated by Statistics Canada, over time legalisation could reduce the size of the total underground economy by around 4% or 5%.

Clemens Jobst, Helmut Stix, 29 November 2017

Many societies in the developed world have been shifting away from cash towards electronic alternatives. Despite this, there has been a remarkable increase in currency holdings over the past decade. This column looks at the evolution of cash holdings over time to shed light on this apparent contradiction. While circulating currency over GDP has been declining since WWII, there have been sizable increases in recent decades which are only partially explained by low interest rates.

Philippe Bacchetta, Kenza Benhima, Céline Poilly, 19 February 2015

The corporate cash ratio – the share of liquid assets in total assets – comoves with employment in the US. This column argues that disentangling liquidity shocks and credit shocks is key to understanding this comovement, and that liquidity shocks appear to be crucial. These shocks make production less attractive or more difficult to finance, while they also generate a need for internal liquidity to pay wages, which can be satisfied by holding more cash.

Dirk Niepelt, 21 January 2015

Recent experience with the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates, and the use of high-denomination notes by criminals and tax evaders, have led to revived proposals to phase out cash. This column argues that abolishing cash may be neither necessary nor sufficient to overcome the zero lower bound problem, and would severely undermine privacy. Allowing the public to hold reserves at central banks could reduce the need for deposit insurance, although the transition to the new regime and the effects on credit supply must be carefully considered.


CEPR Policy Research