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Economic Commentary

Where Is All the U.S. Currency Hiding?

The total amount of U.S. currency held by the non bank public equals about $375 billion, or nearly $1,400 for every man, woman, and child in the country. Clearly, few individuals ever hold this much cash at any point in time. On the surface, the sheer volume of currency outstanding seems inconsistent with common sense. Even if one considers currency balances held by businesses involved largely in cash transactions like retailers-and by participants in the underground economy-like drug dealers-it is hard to reconcile the difference between households’ holdings and total currency outstanding. So where is this currency hiding?

The views authors express in Economic Commentary are theirs and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland or the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The series editor is Tasia Hane. This paper and its data are subject to revision; please visit for updates.

Suggested Citation

Carlson, John B., and Benjamin Keen. 1996. “Where Is All the U.S. Currency Hiding?” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Commentary 4/15/1996.

This work by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International