Part 20. How notes and coins circulate
Although any bank could theoretically issue notes and coins, generally it is the central bank that is responsible for this. In the UK this is normally the responsibility of the Bank of England, although there are also Bank of Scotland notes circulating. Notes and coins are liabilities of the bank that issues them, and assets to those that hold them. They usually have little or no intrinsic value compared to their face value - the amount the note or coin represents. Coins made from precious metals, such as silver and gold, clearly do have intrinsic value, but these are usually not in general circulation. They also tend to have greater intrinsic value than their face value (UK silver 50 pence coins are an example), in which case they aren't really a liability, although the issuer would probably happily oblige. Some old UK copper coins also have greater intrinsic value than face value.
To see how notes and coins circulate, we will carry out various cash and digital transactions. Let's continue with the banks from Part 19 and assume that 1st Bank needs £5,000 of notes and coins for cash withdrawals from deposit account holders. 1st Bank will swap digital reserves for the notes and coins. This can effectively be thought of as a withdrawal of notes and coins from Central Bank by 1st Bank. A record of withdrawals and deposits will be recorded in two new accounts both called Notes and Coins, one at 1st Bank and one at Central Bank. The first double entry of the withdrawal of notes and coins transaction is shown in Figure 20.1.
The notes and coins will be physically delivered to 1st Bank and held in a cashier's draw or a bank vault. The second part of the transaction, the double entry to reduce digital reserves, is shown in Figure 20.2.
After the delivery and the account entries, the balance sheets of all banks is shown in Figure 20.3. 2nd Bank remains unchanged, but is shown for convenience since we will be using it later.
The amounts of deposits, reserves and debt in circulation is unchanged by this transaction. The only difference is that bank reserves now consist of £65,000 of digital reserves and £5,000 of physical cash reserves — the latter in the form of notes and coins.
Now suppose that a cash withdrawal of £1000 is made by the account holder of Deposit Account #2. This is recorded as a double entry between Deposit Account #2 and Notes and Coins as shown in Figure 20.4. But this also involves handing over the physical cash to the account holder. It's an exchange of digital money for physical money.
The debit and credit double entry reduces both the deposit account balance and the notes and coins balance. This should be expected since assets are used to pay for liabilities, and by handing over the physical cash, the bank has reduced its cash holding assets as well as its deposit liabilities. The balance sheet of 1st Bank is shown in Figure 20.5 (Central Bank and 2nd Bank remain unchanged).
Now we have £84,000 of deposits at 1st Bank and £1,000 of notes and coins held by the account holder of Deposit Account #2, probably in a wallet or a safe place. Central Bank still has a liability of £5,000 for the notes and coins issued, since this hasn't changed.
To see how cash circulates, suppose that the account holder of Deposit Account #2 purchases a second-hand bicycle from the account holder of Deposit Account #4 for £500 in cash, and suppose that the account holder of Deposit Account #4 deposits the £500 in their account. For this transaction we will also need a Notes and Coins account at 2nd Bank. The deposit transaction is shown in Figure 20.6.
In the case of the cash deposit, the debit and credit double entry increases both the deposit account balance and the notes and coins balance. The balance sheet of 2nd Bank is shown in Figure 20.7 (Central Bank and 1st Bank remain unchanged).
So, when a deposit of cash is made to a bank, it increases the bank's assets as well as its liabilities in just the same way an electronic deposit transfer does. No second double entry needs to take place since it is not an inter-bank transfer, and £500 of assets, in the form of notes and coins, is handed over by the depositor. 2nd Bank now has £500 of physical cash at the bank which it also has recorded as an asset in its notes and coins account.
Suppose 2nd Bank does not wish to hold all £500 in notes or coins but wishes to hold £250. Then it can return £250 back to the central bank in exchange for digital reserves as shown in Figure 20.8.
And the reserves double entry is shown in Figure 20.9.
The balance sheets of all banks is shown in Figure 20.10.
Returning £250 back to Central Bank has reduced the central bank's liability by £250, meaning there must now be £4750 of notes and coins still in circulation. This is the case since there remains £4000 at 1st Bank, £250 at 2nd Bank and £500 in the physical wallet, or elsewhere, of the account holder of Deposit Account #2.back to Part 19