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Trends in the efficiency of Federal Reserve check processing operations

  • David C. Wheelock
  • Paul Wilson

The Monetary Control Act of 1980 requires the Federal Reserve to charge customers for financial services, with the intent of improving the efficiency with which Fed offices deliver those services. Prior studies found little improvement in the efficiency of Fed check processing operations after pricing was implemented in 1982. This article examines the efficiency of Fed check operations using a longer sample period (1980:Q1–2003:Q3) than previous studies and new methods for estimating efficiency. The authors find that the median office became somewhat less efficient when pricing was introduced, but that efficiency improved through the 1990s. Although they find that Fed offices became somewhat less efficient on average after 1999, this might reflect adjustments associated with declining check volumes and implementation of a common operating platform across System offices.

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File URL: http://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/review/04/09/Wheelock.pdf
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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2004)
Issue (Month): Sep ()
Pages: 7-20

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2004:i:sep:p:7-20:n:v.86no.5
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  1. Cazals, Catherine & Florens, Jean-Pierre & Simar, Leopold, 2002. "Nonparametric frontier estimation: a robust approach," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 1-25, January.
  2. Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1997. "Efficiency of financial institutions: international survey and directions for future research," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-11, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Bauer, Paul W. & Hancock, Diana, 1993. "The efficiency of the Federal Reserve in providing check processing services," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 287-311, April.
  4. Paul W. Bauer & Gary D. Ferrier, 1996. "Scale economies, cost efficiencies, and technological change in Federal Reserve payments processing," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), pages 1004-1044.
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