DP14910 Coronavirus panic fuels a surge in cash demand

Author(s): Jonathan Ashworth, Charles A E Goodhart
Publication Date: June 2020
Keyword(s): Coronavirus, Currency usage, Hoarding in panics, Payment technologies
JEL(s): E40, E41, E49, E63, N10
Programme Areas: Monetary Economics and Fluctuations
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14910

Over the past decade the media have regularly reported on the imminent death of cash amid rapid innovation in payment technologies. However, cash in circulation has actually been growing strongly in many counties. Perhaps unsurprisingly given Coronavirus-related health concerns, there have been renewed calls to abandon cash and some observers have argued the virus will accelerate its demise. Data thus far suggest, however, that currency in circulation has actually surged in a number of countries. While the economic shutdowns and increased use of online retailing are currently diminishing cash's traditional function as a medium of exchange, it seems that this is being more than offset by panic driven hoarding of banknotes.