17 Jul 2012 by Gottfried Leibbrandt

What Happened to all the $100 bills?

In Chapter 2 we looked at the optimal set of coins and notes in your wallet. We also found that the most frequent payment size is close to $2. You would therefore expect to see more low denomination notes in circulation. Expectations, however, often differ from reality. 75% of US currency by value is in $100 notes and a third of Euro currency is in €500 notes. The average consumer holds about 50-100 in cash in their wallet. And yet there is some $3,000 in circulation for every American and €2,450 for every euro zone inhabitant. Even if we account for cash held by businesses (about half of what consumers are holding) there is a huge gap, with most of the missing currency in the higher denominations. In chapter 3 we look at where all this cash is. The answers may surprise you.

Download chapter 3, What Happened to all the $100 bills?, here.


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