Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Total Value of the $1 Federal Reserve Note: Factoring in Physicality and the Consumer

Noll, Franklin (2008): The Total Value of the $1 Federal Reserve Note: Factoring in Physicality and the Consumer.

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Abstract

Consumers are using cash less often. This is especially the case in high-value transactions. However, the $1 Federal Reserve Note continues to hold its ground in the realm of micropayments, transactions having a value of less than $5. Economists argue that the staying power of the $1 bill is largely the result of there being no economically efficient electronic method of executing micropayments.

This paper argues that the reason for the continued existence of the $1 Federal Reserve Note lies elsewhere—in the physical nature of the note. Economists see the note as merely a marker or token for purchasing power, which is continually declining. Based on this view, they logically predict the imminent death of the note. This view is simplistic as it does not consider the $1 Federal Reserve Note as a thing in itself, as an object bearing a value all its own. As physical objects, notes carry economic, social, collectible, and symbolic values unrelated to what the note can buy.

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