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Retail Deposit Sweep Programs: Issues for Measurement, Modeling and Analysis

Since January 1994, many banks in the United States have initiated retail-deposit sweep programs which reduce statutory reserve requirements by re-labeling transaction deposits as money market deposit accounts. As a result, approximately half of aggregate transaction deposits are now excluded from M1. This re-labeling is invisible to customers and, hence, cannot affect their demand for transaction balances. Nevertheless, a recent article in this Journal explored the effect of this invisible re-labeling on M1 demand. This note emphasizes that those results are spurious, and offers additional examples of measurement distortions due to retail deposit sweep activity.

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