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Demand and Supply of Currencies of Small Denominations: A Theoretical Framework


  • Bhattacharya, Kaushik


The paper presents theoretical framework of demand and supply of currencies of small denominations. In our framework both demand and supply equations emerge out of an optimization framework. Demand functions for small denominations are obtained from a linear expenditure system. Our main contention is that economic agents would like to hold a fixed number of small changes, independent of their respective total cash holdings. However, in our model the fixed quantity is influenced by the probability that in a currency transaction, the counterparty would be able to provide the small change if needed. The supply function is derived from an optimization problem where the central bank balances its operational cost with the probability that an individual would be able to carry out “small” transactions independently, without the help of counterparty. In this demand-supply framework, the probability that a randomly chosen individual in an economy would hold certain currency combinations is interpreted as “price”. We attempt to show that in a dynamic environment, such interaction could be understood by specifying a cob-web type model where expectations are formed based on previous period’s experience. As an operational rule, it is proposed that the central bank should increase the supply of small denominations at a rate marginally above the growth rate of economically active population and stop minting as soon as some of the small denominations start return in the currency chest. We also suggest how demand for “small change” could be estimated from the “lifetime” of the “smallest” denomination.

Suggested Citation

  • Bhattacharya, Kaushik, 2009. "Demand and Supply of Currencies of Small Denominations: A Theoretical Framework," MPRA Paper 27334, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:27334

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kaushik Bhattacharya & Himanshu Joshi, 2001. "Modelling currency in circulation in India," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(9), pages 585-592.
    2. Sumner, Scott, 1993. "Privatizing the Mint," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 25(1), pages 13-29, February.
    3. Kaushik Bhattacharya & Himanshu Joshi, 2002. "An Almon Approximation of the Day of the Month Effect in Currency in Circulation," Indian Economic Review, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, vol. 37(2), pages 163-174, July.
    4. Manjong Lee & Neil Wallace & Tao Zhu, 2005. "Modeling Denomination Structures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(3), pages 949-960, May.
    5. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1995. "Relative-Price Changes as Aggregate Supply Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 161-193.
    6. Wallace, Neil, 2003. "Modeling small change: a review article," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1391-1401, September.
    7. Telser, L. G., 1995. "Optimal denominations for coins and currency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 425-427, October.
    8. Cramer, J. S., 1983. "Currency by denomination," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 12(3-4), pages 299-303.
    9. Wallace, Neil, 2003. "Modeling Small Change: A Review Article," Working Papers 9-03-3, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Economics.
    10. Kohli, Ulrich, 1988. "A note on banknote characteristics and the demand for currency by denomination," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 389-399, September.
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    More about this item


    Small Change; Denomination; Currency Management; Poisson Distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates


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