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Reliability analysis of the Federal Reserve automated payments systems
This paper proposes an analytic framework for the reliability assessment of the automated payments systems used by the Federal Reserve Banks. The failure/recovery behavior of the system currently in operation is modeled as a continuous-time Markov process with varying levels of detail, and the availability is calculated for a wide range of component failure frequencies. Furthermore, alternative system configurations are proposed and analyzed.
AUTHORS: Burnetas, Apostolos; Reynolds, Gregory; Thomson, James B.
The evolution of cash transactions: some implications for monetary policy
This paper considers the implications of a decreasing demand for cash transactions under several monetary policy regimes. A policy of nominal-interest-rate targeting implies that a secular decline in the volume of cash transactions unambiguously leads to accelerating inflation. A policy of maintaining a fixed composition of government liabilities leads to accelerating (decelerating) inflation if agents have sufficiently high (low) levels of risk aversion. A policy of inflation targeting produces falling nominal and real interest rates, while a policy of fixing the rate of money growth can easily lead to indeterminacy and endogenous oscillation in interest rates.
AUTHORS: Schreft, Stacey L.; Smith, Bruce D.
The effect of pricing on demand and revenue in Federal Reserve ACH payment processing
Because the automated clearinghouse (ACH) has been found to have lower social costs than paper checks, the Federal Reserve has been promoting more widespread use of ACH by lowering ACH processing fees. In this paper we have obtained the first numerical estimates of ACH demand elasticities, a measure of the responsiveness of ACH demand to price changes. In order to determine how robust the estimates are, various methods were employed to estimate the demand elasticities. ; Our results show that the volume of ACH items processed by the Federal Reserve does respond to changes in per-item fees. We find that demand for ACH credit is elastic, while demand for ACH debit is inelastic. The difference most likely arises from high customer resistance to automatic payment deduction and from low market penetration of that service among companies. Demand for origination was found to be somewhat more elastic than demand for receipt. We then examined how volume growth initiated by a price cut affected unit costs. Given the relatively large scale economies found for ACH, volume growth leads to lower unit costs. However, to outweigh revenue lost as a result of a price decline, ACH volume would have to increase by an amount greater than our estimates indicate is likely. Consequently, a decline in per-item ACH fees would likely lead to lower net revenues.
AUTHORS: Stavins, Joanna; Bauer, Paul W.
Consistency conditions for regulatory analysis of financial institutions: a comparison of frontier efficiency methods
We propose a set of consistency conditions that frontier efficiency measures should meet to be most useful for regulatory analysis or other purposes. The efficiency estimates should be consistent in their efficiency levels, rankings, and identification of best and worst firms, consistent over time and with competitive conditions in the market, and consistent with standard nonfrontier measures of performance. We provide evidence on these conditions by evaluating and comparing efficiency estimates on U.S. bank efficiency from variants of all four of the major approaches -- DEA, SFA, TFA, and DFA -- and find mixed results.
AUTHORS: Bauer, Paul W.; Berger, Allen N.; Ferrier, Gary D.; Humphrey, David B.
The founders' intentions: sources of the payments services franchise of the Federal Reserve banks
The reserve banks check collection service was designed in 1913 to serve as "glue," attaching the new central bank to the commercial and financial markets through member banks. Successful creation and operation of the Federal Reserve System was thought to be more likely if the reserve banks could do more for member banks than lend occasionally and administer the reserve requirement tax. Initial drafts of the Federal Reserve Act would have allowed member banks to use required reserve deposits only for making interbank transfers. But correspondent banking relationships already provided interbank payment service, as well as check collection and other services, while offering a modest interest rate on interbank deposits. Nationwide check collection service was added to the bill in the latter days of the legislative process to show potential member banks that deposits maintained at the new regional reserve banks could play an integral part in the banking business.
AUTHORS: E.J. Stevens
Scale economies, cost efficiencies, and technological change in Federal Reserve payments.
This paper uses a stochastic cost frontier to examine the scale economies, cost efficiencies, and technological change of three payments instruments--check, automated clearinghouse (ACH) transfers, and Fedwire processing--provided by the Federal Reserve over the period 1990-94. We find evidence of substantial scale economies and cost inefficiencies in the ACH and Fedwire services. Check processing also exhibits substantial cost inefficiency, but constant returns to scale. Technological progress is found to be sizeable for ACH and Fedwire; check processing is found to have experienced technological "regress," probably because of a decrease in processing volume over the sample period.
AUTHORS: Bauer, Paul W.; Ferrier, Gary D.
Money in the twenty-first century.
What implications do 21st century monetary innovations bring for holdings of central bank money and standards of value? Emerging technologies such as cybercash, e-cash, and smart cards can be expected to reduce demand for central bank money, but the theoretical framework for monetary policy has not changed. The authors stress three points in this paper: 1) money innovations tend to reduce the demand for central bank money, but it remains to be seen whether the predictability of that demand, and thus the reliability of monetary policy, will decline in the coming century; 2) in principle, monetary authorities can continue to determine the price level as long as final settlement of tax and other obligations takes place using central bank liabilities; and 3) the viability of competing currencies and standards of value is gaining steam as a lively field of research.
AUTHORS: Jordan, Jerry L.; Stevens, Edward J.