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Estimating the volume of counterfeit U.S. currency in circulation worldwide: data and extrapolation

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  • Ruth Judson
  • Richard Porter
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    Abstract

    The incidence of currency counterfeiting and the possible total stock of counterfeits in circulation are popular topics of speculation and discussion in the press and are of substantial practical interest to the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Secret Service. This paper assembles data from Federal Reserve and U.S. Secret Service sources and presents a range of estimates for the number of counterfeits in circulation. In addition, the paper presents figures on counterfeit passing activity by denomination, location, and method of production. The paper has two main conclusions: first, the stock of counterfeits in the world as a whole is likely on the order of 1 or fewer per 10,000 genuine notes in both piece and value terms; second, losses to the U.S. public from the most commonly used note, the $20, are relatively small, and are miniscule when counterfeit notes of reasonable quality are considered.

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    File URL: http://www.chicagofed.org/digital_assets/publications/policy_discussion_papers/2010/PDP2010-2.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Policy Discussion Paper Series with number PDP-2010-02.

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    Date of creation: 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhpd:pdp-2010-02

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    Keywords: Counterfeits and counterfeiting;

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

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    1. Edward J. Green & Warren E. Weber, 1996. "Will the new $100 bill decrease counterfeiting?," Working Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis 571, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    2. Edgar L. Feige, 2005. "Overseas Holdings Of U.S.Currency And The Underground Economy," Macroeconomics, EconWPA 0501022, EconWPA.
    3. Yvan Lengwiler, 1997. "A model of money counterfeits," Journal of Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 65(2), pages 123-132, June.
    4. Judson, Ruth A. & Porter, Richard D., 2004. "Currency demand by federal reserve cash office: what do we know?," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 273-285.
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