Government and Private E-Money-Like Systems: Federal Reserve Notes and National Bank Notes
The period from 1914 to 1935 in the United States is unique in that it was the only time that both privately-issued bank notes (national bank notes) and central bank-issued bank notes (Federal Reserve notes) were simultaneously in circulation. This paper describes some lessons relevant to e-money from the U.S. experience during this period. It argues that Federal Reserve notes were not issued to be a superior currency to national bank notes. Rather, they were issued to enable the Federal Reserve System to act as a lender of last resort in times of financial stress. It also argues that the reason to eventually eliminate national bank notes was that they were potentially a source of bank reserves. As such, they could have threatened the Federal Reserve System’s control of the reserves of the banking system and thereby the Fed’s control of monetary policy.