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Estimates of scale and cost efficiency for Federal Reserve currency operations

Author

Listed:
  • James Bohn
  • Diana Hancock
  • Paul Bauer

Abstract

Meeting the currency demands of depository institutions, businesses, and consumers costs the Federal Reserve more than half a billion dollars each year, yet, very little research has been devoted to understanding what factors affect such costs. The authors estimate a cost function in order to obtain estimates of scale and cost efficiency for this service. They find that as in other paper-based technologies, such as checks, scale economies are achieved at a relatively low level of output, implying that currency services are not a natural monopoly. They also provide estimates of facility-specific marginal costs and returns to scale measures that could be used to improve resource allocations. Lastly, they find that the average processing facility operates at more 80 percent of the efficiency of the “best practice†facility, comparable to cost efficiency estimates that have been reported elsewhere for private-sector financial institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • James Bohn & Diana Hancock & Paul Bauer, 2001. "Estimates of scale and cost efficiency for Federal Reserve currency operations," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q IV, pages 2-26.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcer:y:2001:i:qiv:p:2-26
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    File URL: http://www.clevelandfed.org/research/Review/2001/scale.pdf
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    File URL: https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/scribd/?toc_id=214656&filepath=/docs/publications/frbclevreview/rev_frbclev_2001q4.pdf&start_page=3#scribd-open
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Avery, Robert B. & Berger, Allen N., 1991. "Loan commitments and bank risk exposure," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 173-192, February.
    2. Berkovitch, Elazar & Greenbaum, Stuart I., 1991. "The Loan Commitment as an Optimal Financing Contract," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(01), pages 83-95, March.
    3. Boot, Arnoud W. A., 2000. "Relationship Banking: What Do We Know?," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 7-25, January.
    4. Billett, Matthew T & Flannery, Mark J & Garfinkel, Jon A, 1995. " The Effect of Lender Identity on a Borrowing Firm's Equity Return," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(2), pages 699-718, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert DeYoung & William Hunter & Gregory Udell, 2004. "The Past, Present, and Probable Future for Community Banks," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 25(2), pages 85-133, April.
    2. Jorge E. Galán Camacho & Miguel Sarmiento Paipilla, 2007. "Staff, Functions, and Staff Costs at Central Banks: an International Comparison with a Labor- Demand Model," Money Affairs, Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinoamericanos, vol. 0(2), pages 131-179, July-Dece.
    3. Jorge E. Galán and & Miguel Sarmiento, 2008. "Banknote Printing at Modern central Banking: Trends, Costs and Efficiency," Money Affairs, Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinoamericanos, vol. 0(2), pages 217-262, July-Dece.
    4. Takala, Kari & Virén, Matti, 2008. "Efficiency and costs of payments : some new evidence from Finland," Research Discussion Papers 11/2008, Bank of Finland.
    5. Milind Dawande & Mili Mehrotra & Vijay Mookerjee & Chelliah Sriskandarajah, 2010. "An Analysis of Coordination Mechanisms for the U.S. Cash Supply Chain," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(3), pages 553-570, March.
    6. Loretta J. Mester, 2003. "Applying efficiency measurement techniques to central banks," Working Papers 03-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

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