This graph shows U.S. dollars in circulation per capita—in other words, how much physical cash is held outside the Federal Reserve for each person living in the U.S. As of the November 2018 observation, that amount is $6,575. We checked, and no one on the FRED Blog team is holding that much cash right now. We assume not many of our readers would hold that much cash. So, who is holding it? Part of it may be lost. Much of it is held by domestic businesses and governments. And then there are all those dollars held abroad. In some countries, the dollar is valued over the local currency for its stability and low inflation rate. In fact, the following countries have adopted the U.S. dollar as legal tender and abolished their own currency: British Virgin Islands, Caribbean Netherlands, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Panama, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Many more countries use the U.S. dollar alongside their own currency, either formally or informally. In addition, in those countries where the banking system is underdeveloped or not trusted, savings can be held mostly in U.S. cash in freezers and mattresses. (Note that foreign currency reserves held by central banks are rarely cash: They’re mostly held in Treasury bonds or accounts at the Fed.)
How this graph was created: Search for “currency in circulation” and click on the monthly series. From the “Edit Graph” panel, add a monthly population series, and apply formula a/b*1000.
Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.