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First Quarter 2023, 
Vol. 105, No. 1
Posted 2023-01-20

The Future of Money and Its Implications for Society, Central Banks, and the International Monetary System

by Eswar Prasad


This new wave of financial innovations has broad implications for society, banking, and central banking: Digital platforms can ease entry for financial services providers, increase transactional efficiency, and widen access to and participation in the financial system. They could also decrease the use of cash and alter the U.S. dollar's role as today's vehicle currency.

Eswar S. Prasad is the Nandlal P. Tolani Senior Professor of Trade Policy in the Dyson School at Cornell University, a senior fellow and New Century Chair in International Economics at the Brookings Institution, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. This lecture draws on his latest book, The Future of Money: How the Digital Revolution is Transforming Currencies and Finance.

Economists are storytellers at heart. So I have for you today a story of remarkable technological innovation, some unfulfilled promises, and unintended consequences. The story, of course, revolves around money, which makes it especially appropriate that I'm giving this lecture here today. I am very privileged to be following in the footsteps of many distinguished people who have delivered the Homer Jones Memorial Lecture, which, after all, is to honor somebody who had a great deal to do with the development of monetary economics and thinking about how money affects us.

The story I have for you today is going to revolve around how money is going to be reshaped: in the way we think about it, the way we relate to it, and the way it helps us organize our economic activities. And it's going to go through a lot of terrain. We'll start by thinking a little bit about basic financial innovations, then delve into the world of cryptocurrencies (including Bitcoin and much more), and then talk about the possibility that we might have digital versions of the paper currency we are all used to. But then we'll think about what all of this means for financial markets and institutions, for central banks such as the Fed, and, indeed, for the international monetary system. But it's not just going to be about finance and economics. It's ultimately going to have some implications for thinking about how we organize society and our day-to-day interactions. 

Read the full article.