Saturday, July 12, 2003

Our love affair with Cash 3/3/2003

How much cash do you have about your person right now? When I asked Gerry shed told me the answer was less than twenty dollars. For most of us, it certainly wouldn't be $1,000. Yet according to the official figures around $32 billion in notes is out there in people's possession at the moment - that's about $1,600 for each Australian man, woman and child. That’s more than the typical American, the typical Canadian, the typical Brit, and about three times as much as the typical New Zealander.

RBA comparative figures from 1996 show Australians holding cash of $US870 each, yanks $US610, and NZers $280!

We are eclipsed by some European countries and Japan. The Japanese held at the time $US3,588 under their beds and in other places.

Which is understandable. Japan has deflation. The Japanese don't trust the banks, and for historical reasons neither do many Europeans. But how can we explain Australains love affair with cash?

Christopher Bajada, of the UTS attempts to and comes up with the conclusion that much of it is used to store the proceeds of crime.

The RBA figures suggest this may well be the case. Almost half of the cash we hold about our person is in the form of $100 notes.

Officially we each hold about as many $100 notes per person as we do $20 notes (six to seven).

You and I know this is not true, leading to the thought that perhaps most of Australia's 130 million $100 notes are stored away in suitcases somewhere unopened.

Reserve Bank figures on the life of the notes lend support to this notion. $100 notes last an estimated 70 years. $20 notes last twelve years.