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

  • Ruth Judson
  • Richard Porter
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    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 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 only counterfeit notes of reasonable quality are considered.

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    File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2003/200352/200352pap.pdf
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    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2003-52.

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    Date of creation: 2003
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2003-52
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    1. Edward J. Green & Warren Weber, 1996. "Will the New $100 Bill Decrease Counterfeiting?," Macroeconomics 9609003, EconWPA, revised 11 Sep 1996.
    2. Edgar L. Feige, 2005. "Overseas Holdings Of U.S.Currency And The Underground Economy," Macroeconomics 0501022, EconWPA.
    3. Yvan Lengwiler, 1997. "A model of money counterfeits," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 65(2), pages 123-132, June.
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