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On the Efficiency of Cash Settlement

WP 95-11

Posted: 2 Jul 1998  

Charles M. Kahn

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Feseral Reserve Bank of Saint Louis; Bank of Canada

William Roberds

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Date Written: November 1995

Abstract

This paper investigates the question of why banks almost always settle payments in cash as opposed to debt. Our model suggests that adverse selection with respect to the quality of bank assets may be the primary motivation underlying this practice. Banks with higher-quality assets prefer not to exchange debt with other banks if their debt is indistinguishable from that of banks with lower-quality assets. Banks with higher-quality assets prefer to sell off assets to informed outside agents in return for cash, which can then be used in settlement. Willingness to settle in cash serves as a signal of the quality of a bank's assets; hence, in equilibrium all banks settle in cash. If information flows are disrupted so that no outsiders are informed, then the signaling value of cash settlement is lost. The last result is consistent with the use of debt-based settlement schemes during the National Banking Era (1864-1914).

JEL Classification: G21, N20, N21

Suggested Citation

Kahn, Charles M. and Roberds, William, On the Efficiency of Cash Settlement (November 1995). WP 95-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=7325

Charles M. Kahn

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign ( email )

Department of Finance
340 Wohlers Hall
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

HOME PAGE: http://kahnfrance.com/cmk/

Feseral Reserve Bank of Saint Louis

411 Locust St
Saint Louis, MO 63011
United States

Bank of Canada

234 Wellington Street
Ontario, Ottawa K1A 0G9
Canada

William Roberds (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta ( email )

1000 Peachtree Street N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30309-4470
United States
404-498-8970 (Phone)
404-498-8956 (Fax)

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