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Where’s George? and the Velocity of Money

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Originally posted on April 22, 2010.

 

An intuitive illustration of the velocity of (cash) money can be found on the website, Where’s George? Where’s George lets users enter the serial number of a bill and in this way track the bill as it circulates around the country.  Here’s a picture of one bill’s travels.  At the time of posting, this particular bill had traveled 7,293 Miles in 2 Yrs, 85 Days, 2 Hrs, 19 Mins at an average of 8.9 Miles per day. More information on when and how this bill was spent and received can be found here (including some slightly risque but potentially amusing notes from one bill receiver.) In a loose sense, Where’s George lets us see the velocity of cash by tracking how quickly cash moves from one person to another but the picture is incomplete since we only track the bill when someone enters its serial number.

 

billmap.gif

About the Author
Alex Tabarrok is Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and director of research for The Independent Institute. Tabarrok is co-author with Tyler Cowen of the popular economics blog, Marginal Revolution. His recent research looks at bounty hunters, judicial incentives and elections, crime control, patent reform, methods to increase the supply of human organs for transplant, and the regulation of pharmaceuticals. He is the editor of the books, Entrepreneurial Economics: Bright Ideas from the Dismal Science; The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society; and Changing the Guard: Private Prisons and The Control of Crime. His papers have appeared in the Journal of Law and Economics, Public Choice, Economic Inquiry, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Theoretical Politics, The American Law and Economics Review, Kyklos and many other journals. His popular articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other magazines and newspapers.