The “War on Cash” in 10 Spine-Chilling Quotes

By Don Quijones, who lives Spain & Mexico and is an editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street

The war on cash is escalating. As Mises’ Jo Salerno reports, the latest combatant to join the fray is JP Morgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S., which recently enacted a policy restricting the use of cash in selected markets; bans cash payments for credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans; and disallows the storage of “any cash or coins” in safe deposit boxes. In other words, the war has moved on from one of words to actions.

Here are ten quotes that should chill the spine of any individual who cherishes his or her freedom and anonymity:

1. Kenneth Rogoff (from the intro to his paper The Costs and Benefits to Phasing Out Paper Currency):

Despite advances in transactions technologies, paper currency still constitutes a notable percentage of the money supply in most countries… Yet, it has important drawbacks. First, it can help facilitate activity in the underground (tax-evading) and illegal economy. Second, its existence creates the artifact of the zero bound on the nominal interest rate.

In other words, cash (not money) is the source of all evil and must be destroyed because governments can’t trace its every movement, and it represents a limiting factor on central banks’ ability to continue their insane negative-interest-rate experiment.

2. Citigroup’s Chief Economist Willem Buiter responds to the monetary economist Charles Goodhart’s description of abolishing currency as “shockingly illiberal.”

(T)his cost has to be seen against the cost that the anonymity of currency presents to society. Even though hard evidence is hard to come by, it is very likely that the underground economy and the criminal community are among the heaviest users of currency.

This, I believe, is the hidden intent behind all the excited talk about banning cash: to do away with the personal anonymity it offers.

3. France’s finance minister Michel Sapin adds a dose of scare-mongering, which can do wonders.  In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders, he put much of the blame for the attacks on the assailants’ ability to buy dangerous things with cash. Shortly thereafter he announced a raft of capital controls that included a €1,000 cap on cash payments, down from €3,000. Such radical counter measures were necessary, he said, to “fight against the use of cash and anonymity in the French economy.”

4. Guillermo de la Dehesa, a Spanish economist, former senior civil servant and current international advisor to Banco Santander and… (cue drum roll) Goldman Sachs, already demonized cash (as opposed to digitalized bank credit) as a source of all crime and evil back in 2007, when he wrote the following in an El Pais article titled “The Great Advantage of a Cashless World”:

Without cash, we would live in a much safer, less violent world with enhanced social cohesion, since the major incentive fuelling all illegal activity [i.e. cash]… would disappear.”

Dehesa also lamented that political authorities in all countries were incapable of taking this “transcendental step” to build a “safer and fairer world, in which there will be a reduced need for public and private policing and fewer wars, terrorist attacks, and burglaries, and drugs could only be bought legally.” So he ludicrously elevated cash (rather than money) as a major cause of war and a laundry list of other evils. They’d be stamped out by electronic payments where every single movement will be tracked and recorded for posterity.

5. Economist and former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, among the growing ranks of policymakers, business leaders, academics, and bankers picking up the torch of Dehesa’s dystopian dream, is barely able to conceal his glee as he tells CBS news:

There will be a time – I don’t know when, I can’t give you a date – when physical money is just going to cease to exist.

6. David Wolman, author of the Death of Money, told CBS just why cash is so impractical (not to mention unhygienic, or as he puts it “pretty gross”):

Everyone thinks cash is so simple and so easy and so fast and so secure. It’s NONE of those things. It’s really expensive to move it, store it, secure it, inspect it, shred it, redesign it, re-supply it, and round and round we go!

7. Founder of mobile payments provider Square, Jack Dorsey seems to understand that to kill cash for good the authorities must go beyond just vilifying it; they must romanticize the alternatives. Here’s his take on mobile money:

I think there is a general desire in American culture right now to find something that is more crafted, more personal.

As anyone who’s ever received money as a gift will tell you, there’s nothing more impersonal (and, of course, more untraceable and anonymous) than cash. Mobile payments will fix that shortcoming.

8. Chris Skinner, author of The Future of Banking and Digital Bank, drives home the point that digital money doesn’t just offer a more personal touch; it also offers a far more secure payment system, especially with the advent of biometric authentication systems.

Imagine that your payment mechanism is built into a watch that your bank gave you. The watch includes an RFID or NFC capability, biometric recognition and is supported by existing infrastructures at the merchant front-end and money transmissions process back-end. The retail consumer can therefore go into any store, wave their watch at the contactless terminal, press their finger to the pay point and they have purchased the goods. No card or cash involved.

That is the vision of the future of retail payments and we are almost there today. We already have contactless payment terminals, fingerprint recognition payments, micro and mobile payments. The only logical step is to introduce non-card based (i.e. biometric-based) payment systems.

As the saying goes: you can create a new password many times (for example, if your accounts get hacked), but you can create your biometrics only once. If they’re compromised, they remain compromised. So a payment system based on them would be really cool.

9. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in its 2015 annual letter, adds a new twist. The technologies are all in place; it’s just a question of getting us to use them so we can all benefit from a crimeless, privacy-free world. What better place to conduct a massive social experiment than sub-Saharan Africa, where NGOs and GOs (Government Organizations) are working hand-in-hand with banks and telecom companies to replace cash with mobile money alternatives? So the annual letter explains:

(B)ecause there is strong demand for banking among the poor, and because the poor can in fact be a profitable customer base, entrepreneurs in developing countries are doing exciting work – some of which will “trickle up” to developed countries over time.

What the Foundation doesn’t mention is that it is heavily invested in many of Africa’s mobile-money initiatives and in 2010 teamed up with the World Bank to “improve financial data collection” among Africa’s poor. One also wonders whether Microsoft might one day benefit from the Foundation’s front-line role in mobile money.

10. Buiter’s employer Citi, a big player in the African arena, recently launched a partnership with USAID aimed at accelerating mobile money adoption in developing countries. Here’s a nugget from their joint press release:

[E]xpanding the adoption of mobile financial solutions is a critical economic development strategy with the potential to drive growth and increase financial access and security for the developing world’s poor population. The effort seeks to strengthen alternatives to a cash-based system that is inefficient, costly, and prone to corruption.

As a result of technological advances and generational priorities, cash’s days may well be numbered. But there is a whole world of difference between a natural death and euthanasia. It is now clear that an extremely powerful, albeit loose, alliance of governments, banks, central banks, start-ups, large corporations, and NGOs are determined to pull the plug on cash — not for our benefit, but for theirs.

As I warned in We Are Sleepwalking Towards a Cashless Society, we (or at least the vast majority of people in the vast majority of countries) are willing to entrust government and financial institutions – organizations that have already betrayed just about every possible notion of trust – with complete control over our every single daily transaction. And all for the sake of a few minor gains in convenience. The price we pay will be what remains of our individual freedom and privacy.

Wolf here: Governments and corporations have one thing in common: they want to know everything. Data is power. And money. Technologies for collecting, mining, and using data are now so cheap that totally impoverished Somaliland has turned into the model of just this sort of cashless society. It sure is convenient. But…. My report from nearly two years ago:  Perfecting The Surveillance Society – One Payment At A Time

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147 comments

  1. Mario Medjeral

    The result of this restrictions will move customers to banks in Singapore and Hong Kong where opening an account for non-residents is a 10 minutes affair.
    Talking Asia: You can move cash of any amount in Asia through a complex network of Indian and Arab money changers without a single paper trail, which makes the Americam/European cash restrictions look absolutely silly and pointless.

    1. NotSoSure

      I am not an American, but I’ve heard from the grapevine in Singapore that non resident Americans without a proper working visa, etc will be denied a bank account due to regulation, etc.

    2. Nicholas Shaxson

      There is, for sure, something creepy and sinister about the prospect of a world where every little transaction you make is discoverable. But there’s also a big problem with financial secrecy, which enables people – and at the end of the day it tends to be the world’s wealthiest people – to cheat on their taxes and otherwise free-ride off the backs of others usually less fortunate than themselves. Mario’s point serves to illustrate this (though he fails to understand that setting reasonable standards isn’t pointless; the problem is just that you won’t catch everything you want.)

      One easyish win in this fraught terrain, it seems, might be to crack down on the use of big bills, such as the thousand Swiss Franc note. I lived in Switzerland for five years and never came across one of these creatures. Big bills like this are almost exclusively the preserve of criminals. This article by James Henry outlines some of the issues. http://www.taxjustice.net/2014/06/18/big-bills-central-banks-nurture-money-launderers-kleptocrats/

      1. diptherio

        Of course, the wealthy tax evaders will continue to do their evasion, cash or no cash. The elites will be able to game any system that is created–that’s what they do. To think that a cashless society will eliminate elite criminality is hilarious, living as we do in the age of HSBC and like institutions.

        1. James Levy

          Yes, the rich, at least the Euro-American corporate rich, are not running around paying for things with bundles of cash so they don’t have to pay the VAT or sales tax. Most of their money is in securities and real estate anyway. They avoid tax but getting a seat at the table when tax laws are written and shuffling it electronically (not via cash) from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in a form of tax arbitrage. The age of the Columbian drug zillionaire with 55 gallon drums full of US $100 stashed around their compounds is over.

          Oh, I’d expect as a concomitant they’ll try to confiscate gold and silver coins and bullion as well–this is one place where gold and silver coins would have a chance to function as a store of wealth the way Gold Bugs claim they could, so I’m sure governments will stop that as the “wrong kind of people” have been putting money in gold and silver coins–exactly the kind of people who value their privacy and independence and therefore must be deprived both.

        2. Pepsi

          This is the key. Rich people will always have an hsbc.

          It’s harder to extract rents from people who deal with cash only. All digital money means gatekeeping is seamless and quiet.

          I’m the asshole who buys expensive things in cash and makes the manager give me a discount for not using a credit card. There’s no reason that I should subsidize people who prefer to pay huge sums to credit card companies.

            1. farang

              Why would anyone be using a bank if there is no cash?

              How is the CIA going to collect “black funds” from their opiate sales without anonymous cash?

              What are they going to tell people the first time the “credit depository” gets hacked and their credits are gone?

              “Gold bugs”…bwahahaha. So, are people buying oil futures “oil bugs?” Apple stock “i-bugs?”

              Levy, some people are clueless: why do you think the US Constitution specifically stated only GOLD is money? Because they did not want the King’s worthless chits/debits/”electronic cash.”

              And neither will we.

          1. jrs

            it’s probably mostly subsidizing those who use credit cards for free by paying off their balances on time though (they are indeed economic “free riders”). Those paying interest are probably already paying for their use and then some.

            1. OIFVet

              they are indeed economic “free riders”

              Not necessarily. The fact that none of the companies from whom I purchase supplies offers any incentive to pay early and pay by check on their net 30 terms tells me that they have already factored in swipe fees in the price I have to pay. So where is my incentive to give them a free income by paying cash, and forgoing the 2% cash back from my credit cards (2.2% really when I use it to pay for travel)? That’s a rather large margin to give up for the greater good of a large corporation. So no, in situation like this I am anything but a free rider. I am forced to do business in a way that benefits the credit card processor by my multinational supplier. Given the size of my annual business expenses I would have to be crazy not to use credit in the absence of an incentive to pay cash. It’s a dog eat dog world and I rather like the ability to subsidize my personal travel and hobbies this way.

              When it comes to cash transactions, I reserve those for my locally owned businesses and the small farmer from whom I get weekly food baskets during growing season. Wait staff and hotel staff as well. May be a cheap rationalization but it is what it is.

        3. hunkerdown

          It will do its part to that end, if only by eliminating the rule of law and restoring the rule of men. In which case vigilantism has the advantage of being the popular rule of men, rather than being the rule of popular men.

      2. JerryDenim

        “But there’s also a big problem with financial secrecy, which enables people – and at the end of the day it tends to be the world’s wealthiest people – to cheat on their taxes and otherwise free-ride off the backs of others usually less fortunate than themselves.”

        Yes the wealthiest are the world’s biggest cheats in almost every department, not just taxes, but cash is hardly the MO of the “world’s wealthiest”. In the same way the wealthy commit bank robbery with control fraud not firearms so it is with taxes. Getting paid cash “under the table” is the domain of unskilled day laborers not the obscenely rich. The “world’s wealthiest” cheat on their taxes with $500 an hour attorneys and special loopholes written into the tax code just for them due to their lobbing dollars not some two-bit cash swindle. A cash-less world will only make it that much easier for the corporate oligarchy, predator-state to take advantage of the weak and credit-stigmatized who for now can seek shelter in the less-scrutinized and regulated cash economy.

  2. Paul P

    I first heard of the cashless and checkless society 50 years ago when I had a summer job working for Manufacturer Hanover’s MasterCard Division. My job was to check whether the store had followed the correct procedure on fraudulent charges. This was the time when running the charge card though a machine that made carbon copies was the norm. If the store followed procedure, Manufacturers Hanover had to eat the bill.
    If the store didn’t follow procedure, the store had to eat the bill. Credit cards were widely distributed to anyone in anticipation of the profits to be made. I guess they are still widely distributed, now that I think of it.

  3. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    We are sleepwalking toward total catastrophe on many levels, but I’m not sure how Chase or anyone else can refuse to accept cash. Isn’t that illegal?

      1. Lambert Strether

        I should do some excerpts from the book “The Sleepwalkers,” which is an excellent diplomatic history of the ignition process for World War I. In fact, not all the players were sleepwalking; some wanted war, and the warmongers weren’t all German.

        I think the same is true in this case.

        1. Mark P.

          You familiar with Jean de Bloch? He made his money financing railroads in 19th century Europe, then three decades before WWI did an analysis of what war between modern industrial powers would be like and predicted everything about WWI except air warfare. He printed up books and went to his friends among rpoyalt and government throughout Europe and Russia warning them. To no avail —-

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Gotlib_Bloch

          ‘Jan Gotlib (Bogumił) Bloch (1836 – December 25, 1902/1901), was a Polish banker and railway financier who devoted his private life to the study of modern industrial warfare ….

          ‘…published his six-volume master work, Budushchaya Voina, popularized in English translation as Is War Now Impossible?, in Paris in 1898.

          His mainly detailed analysis of modern warfare, its tactical, strategic and political implications, was widely read in Europe. Bloch argued that:

          ‘New arms technology (e.g. smokeless gunpowder, improved rifle design, Maxims) had rendered maneuvers over open ground, such as bayonet and cavalry charges, obsolete. Bloch concluded that a war between the Great Powers would be a war of entrenchment and that rapid attacks and decisive victories were likewise a thing of the past. He calculated that entrenched men would enjoy a fourfold advantage over infantry advancing across open ground.

          ‘Industrial societies would have to settle the resultant stalemate by committing armies numbering in the millions, as opposed to the tens of thousands of preceding wars. An enormous battlefront would develop. A war of this type could not be resolved quickly.

          ‘The war would become a duel of industrial might, a matter of total economic attrition. Severe economic and social dislocations would result in the imminent risk of famine, disease, the “break-up of the whole social organization” and revolutions from below.’

    1. Uahsenaa

      Actually, businesses can choose whatever form of payment they like, which is why some can refuse cash altogether (like the cafes run by the University here) or put weird and often onerous requirements on the use of credit/debit cards.
      See here.

      1. James Levy

        Legal tender in the US states “good for all debts public and private” right on the bill, so if you wanted to go through the trouble of taking your café to court over their refusal to take cash for your double espresso I’d bet you’d win, but at the cost of say $10,000 bucks so you can use a $5 bill (or a 2 pound coin in the UK).

        1. MaroonBulldog

          Actually, a debt is an obligation to pay money in the future, and in the case of a purchase and sale, it’s a contractual obigation that we’re talking about. Immediate sales transactions at the kiosk or carts don’t create contracts and don’t give rise to debts. The cart or kiosk vendor is free to refuse cash and insist on barter–and they will when hyperinflation is occurring in their country. It’s only sales on credit that create debts that oblige creditors to accept legal tender.

          1. Propertius

            Actually, a debt is an obligation to pay money in the future,

            So wouldn’t that include credit card, mortgage, and auto loan payments (for which Chase is now refusing cash)?

            1. Nathanael

              I checked the original Cleveland article. Chase is still taking cash payments for loans, but only if they come from the debtor, not a third party. This is probably legal.

        2. ewmayer

          James, you repeat a common fallacy. Here Wikipedia:

          There is, however, no federal statute that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in cents or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.

    2. Nathanael

      No, it’s not legal.

      It’s legal for pay-in-advance purchases, but it is NOT legal when it comes to credit card payments, for example — they’re absolutely required to accept cash for those.

      “this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private”

      “United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues”.

      The key word here is “debts”. If they refuse cash for payment of a *debt*, then they have just forgiven the debt. You’ll want a good lawyer to make this stick, of course.

      Purchases where you pay in advance are different; they can demand payment in any weird form they like, including wampum or whatever.

    3. farang

      Yes, it is illegal. I’d highly recommend using cash to pay off credit card balances at these institutions refusing to accept it.

      Document it, and then refuse to pay the nullified debt.

      “Legal tender for all debts.”

      Who in their right mind would store “credits” with the same Fraudmuffins that have driven this nation into a financial oblivion of debt? Not when I can use Yuan. Not when I can use Rubles. Not when I can use Baht.

      Not when gold and silver still exist in this universe.

      The Chinese have no plan to turn the record amount of real money they are buying, gold, into something they will collect dust on: they will have the Reserve Currency, and Americans will be under the control of the Fraudmuffins.

  4. Cassiodorus

    I am reminded of that episode of the crime TV series “The Blacklist” in which an FBI agent, at gunpoint, arranges an untraceable “cash transfer” for the benefit of a criminal (played, of course, by the impeccable James Spader). In short, what was performed was seamless electronic robbery. Maybe that’s the future of capital accumulation.

  5. sd

    Fascinating – the idea comes from those who have no idea of the actual value of a dollar bill and who clearly do not physically handle or touch cash. If you eliminate cash, something else will take its place, whether it’s food, cigarettes, beer, labor, whatever.

    Plastic cards work so well during disasters…

    1. Cassiodorus

      Do dollar bills have “actual value”? If so, then how so?

      Is money really anything more than a social device for the financial guardians to determine who gets what? Oh, sure, there are “principles” — you’re supposed to “earn” money and it’s supposed to be your “property” and all that. Add said principles to what George Carlin called the “American Okeydoke”:

      https://youtu.be/r7LvUDCcNss

      Remember, in light of this, that it doesn’t change anything to know that we’re all suckers. And hold on to that thought.

      1. MaroonBulldog

        If I take dollar bills to the IRS office, it will still accept them in payment of my federal income taxes. The FTB will still accept them in payment of my state income taxes. The country tax collectors office will still accept them in payment of my property taxes. The municipal court will accept them in payment of traffic fines, should I incur any. As long as dollar bills can buy me out of trouble with those authorities, they have some value to me. They protect my person and other property from seizure.

        1. Cassiodorus

          That’s the key to the value of the dollar — “some value to me.” Money has value by virtue of a social convention.

        2. farang

          If you are US citizen, ALL legal debts are subject to accepting US Reserve Notes to fulfill your obligations.

          ALL OF THEM, without exception.

  6. gardener1

    I will never comply in my lifetime, I live by cash.

    Every week we get a cash budget from our income and everything we consume comes from and is paid for, by cash. All consumables. We’ve been doing this for more than a decade. It’s amazing how much more dear your money is when you lay it out neatly into your pockets, and when it’s gone from the pocket – you have no more money. It’s been spent and you cannot buy one more thing. Not anything, you don’t have the money to pay for it. It becomes a real one-to-one relationship. And you find out very quickly how much stuff you can live without when there is no money left in your pocket to pay for it.

    I also do a certain amount of shopping here in the US at shops and stores run by immigrants. They love cash. Often when they discover you’re paying cash – if you haven’t already tried to bargain them down – when you do hand over cash in payment for goods there is a sudden price discount, and no receipt. I rarely get a receipt in return when I purchase whatever at immigrant stores with cash. We all know what kind of game is being played. Why the hell should government be involved in this exchange of goods between us, taking off a skim? They never offer a receipt and I never ask for one. The deal was made between the vendor and the buyer. And no, in this circumstance I never attempt to return a defective or unsatisfactory product, everybody knows the rules: you paid for it, it’s yours to keep.

    So that’s another great thing too. You pay for something with cash knowing there is no complaint/receipt/return policy you are much more careful in your purchases. Once you had over your money, the product is yours. Period.

    Americans tend to throw their earnings around willy-nilly on a plastic card that is loaded with digits until they have no idea what earnings are or what spending means. It’s all just imaginary plastic and numbers that don’t matter in a world of numbers.

    But that’s the real game isn’t it? To make the people so far detached from their real income and earnings and their real spending by laundering it all through a veil third party merchandising, nobody knows how much ‘money’ they have and lose all sense of value.

    The banks promote this kind of behavior very successfully. Oh, it’s ‘old fashioned’ to pay with cash, it’s dangerous and inconvenient. Use plastic and electronic digits so that you have no idea where your money goes or even what it is! A bankers dream. Much easier to steal you blind this way.

    1. MaroonBulldog

      Sir, your philosophy and your behavior will be considered seditious in the brave new world that’s coming, and therefore, they must be suppressed. The totalitarian personalities and bankers who form the government cannot tolerate a world in which some average persons remain free to manage their own financial obligations and the savings and consumption decisions. By all means, all average persons must be relieved of the burdens of such decisions, so they will be free to amuse themselves in approved ways.

      In the future, everyone will have an account at some approved oligopoly bank and a card to go with it. The account will have a debit card subaccount and a credit card subaccount; no exchanges will be legally permissible except exchanges transacted by use of such a card. The banks will monitor all account activities for the government, and automatic deductions for payments will required to the maximum feasible extent. And there will be a simple procedure to deal with unruly persons who advocate disapproved beliefs or try to act on them: the government will direct the bank to settle that person’s account. The bank will then offset the debits and credits, net debit balances will be escheated to the state; net credit balances will be written off as bad debts; and the unruly person will be left to beg for sustenance, or die of famine.

      At least, that’s the plan. And those who fear the imaged futures projected by dystopian writers wil learn that totalitarian reality is much, much worse.

      1. Nathanael

        Any attempt to suppress cash will simply make cash more popular. If they actually make cash too hard to use, then gold will make a roaring comeback.

  7. Marko

    The global financial crisis resulted in economies that require negative interest rates to generate even modest levels of economic activity. If rates are to go even further into negative territory , it requires the elimination of zero-interest cash as a store of value.

    All-electronic transactions have long been a goal of those who want to track our every move , and now they have an economic crisis they can use to justify a movement to the new regime. The “Shock Doctrine” strikes again.

    1. MuckyMuck

      Humanity will invent a million other “stores of value” if they try to eliminate cash to add to the already existing stores like gold, silver, art, and now a proliferation of virtual currencies that are cryptographically guaranteed not to create over a certain amount, making the store of value even more secure than metals in certain respects. Heck, in the ghetto they use Tide laundry detergent as a store of value. Tide.

      The idiots promoting cashless society as a solution to crime are pedaling bullshit. All it means is fake transactional entities will proliferate. Crime will out. And I’m talking the petty, non-society destroying kind. The other kind, the one that’s our real problem, is already done on computer keyboards anyway.

      No, the anti-crime angle is a cover for imposition of “negative interest rates” to “bail-in” the banks in the coming crash.

  8. Disturbed Voter

    Is the reason, why the public isn’t disturbed by all this elite scheming … is because they still have the vain hope of joining the elite … or at least being employed by them? If the public is coopted … then they will supply the rope that the elite will hang them with. In the end Leninism is just another form of Capitalism. Certainly Maoism has proven to be.

    1. MaroonBulldog

      Totalitarianism is not a theory; it’s a practice. Labels like the ones you mention are just buzz words and brand names that stand for the theories ideologues expound to make the sale of the practice easier.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        Regardless of what it is labeled … tyranny today and yesterday … and perhaps into the future … should make Ford Prefect modify his overly edited entry in the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy … from “Earth … mostly harmless” to “Earth … mostly harmful”. I certainly am coming to the point of not wanting to be a tourist on this planet anymore. Where are the Vogons when you need them? Where is my towel? ;-)

  9. John

    I’m watching for the “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private” to disappear from the U.S. Dollar. I understand that coins have already lost that status.

    1. Nathanael

      Nope, coins are still legal tender (though there are some really wacky rules about coins… they’re only legal tender up to a certain amount; this has been true since the 19th century).

  10. Kevin Smith

    Last week my wife told me that our bank [CIBC, in Canada] had started to charge us ~0.25% for depositing cash from our business.

    1. Nathanael

      Well, that’s probably about what it would cost to hire a vault / security guards. But if they raise the cost to more than that, you know what to do. (Hire a vault, security guards, start a company to store cash securely for businesses.)

  11. bkrasting

    There is one (very big) gorilla in this room, and it is not going to let paper money go out of fashion any time soon.

    The gorilla is the Federal Reserve. The Fed has $1.4T of seigniorage (paper money) outstanding. This is the free money that the Fed has to support its balance sheet. Do away with cash money and you do away with the Fed’s existence.

    The boys and girls at the Eccles building ain’t going to go for that…..

    1. Ben Johannson

      In what sense is paper “free” as opposed to reserves? What do you mean when arguing physical currency supports the Fed’s balance sheet?

      1. skippy

        Once a monetarist… always a monetarist…

        Skippy…. personally I’m waiting for the bastardized physics employed to store relative time and space in a transportable object…. over dynamic time and space….

      2. bkrasting

        Ben J – printed money is ‘free’ to Fd in that the Fed dos not have to interest on this money as it does with reserves.

        Say a bank needs $5M for its ATMs. It calls up the Fed and makes an order. When the cash (paper money) is delivered the bank makes a wire transfer to the Fed for $5m (plus a fee).

        So the Fed gets the cash, it records this on its Balance Sheet as a liability. The Fed holds onto the $5m – forever!

        The total amount of paper money and coins is currently $1.3T. So the Fed is sitting on this money and can use it as it wishes, including buying Treasury securities. Again, there is not interest cost attached to this.

        You can see how the seingiorage shows up in the Feds’ Balance Sheet report: What you want is on page 5 – Liabilities:

        http://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/files/quarterly_balance_sheet_developments_report_201503.pdf

        1. MaroonBulldog

          Cash is free money to the Fed so long as the Fed-manipulated interest rates are greater than zero, because cash is a debt that the Fed doesn’t pay interest on.

          When Fed manipulated interest rates fall below zero, then the Fed incurs an opportunity cost when it issues this kind of debt, that neither incurs nor gathers interest, in comparison to other debt it could issue, and charge its debtors for holding their money.

        2. Ben Johannson

          The Fed purchases older securities feom the primary dealers on a daily basis. I’m not sure I understand how physical currency would provide any advantage in this regard. Reserves are of course always a liability of the central bank but in the context of its regular operations this presents no particular difficulty for the monetary authority. Are you arguing the central bank is reserve constrained?

          1. bkrasting

            Ben – Reserve constrained? No I’m not arguing that (what ever it means).

            This was a discussion about paper money, not reserves. Paper money is a liability on the Fed’s balance sheet. By issuing paper money the Fed creates a source of liquidity that does not have an interest cost. $1.3 T of no cost money for the Fed is a powerful incentive for the Fed to fight back on the idea of eliminating paper money.

            1. Ben Johannson

              Yes, currency is a liability. I’m trying to understand why the Federal Reserve should care that it carries no interest unless it is concerned such payments constitute an inflation risk. The only reason reserves have an associated interest rate is because the Fed chooses to set a maintenance rate. If the Fed has an aversion to servicing such liabilities why not drop the maintenance rate altogether?

            2. MRW

              bkrasting,

              Paper money is a liability on the Fed’s balance sheet.

              Yaas…but, these ” liabilities are collateralized by the assets of the [12 district] Federal Reserve Banks.”

              From the Federal Reserve’s Currency and Coin Services

              Each year, the Federal Reserve Board determines the number of new Federal Reserve notes that are needed and submits a print order to the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). The order reflects the Federal Reserve System’s estimate of the amount of currency that the public will demand in the upcoming year and unfit currency that is destroyed. The Federal Reserve pays the BEP the cost of printing new currency and arranges and pays the cost of transporting the currency from the BEP facilities in Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas, to Reserve Bank cash offices. [of which there are 30]

              The Federal Reserve Board pays the US Bureau of Printing and Engraving $0.09 for each new colored bill, and $0.07 for the plain green ones.

              The Federal Reserve’s Currency and Coin Services site states, “Recent estimates show that between one-half and two-thirds of the value of U.S. currency in circulation is held abroad. Some residents of foreign countries hold dollars as a store of value, while others use it as a medium of exchange.” Don’t forget that many countries peg their currency to the US dollar.

              There is no seigniorage for paper money, only coins.

              Anyway, back to the banks. When your local bank orders currency from the district Federal Reserve, it has to pay for them and an official at each district bank (something like ‘Federal Reserve Agent, I forget) makes sure it does. Your local bank can’t just say send me a million in greenbacks. Those paper dollars get substituted for customer deposits. In that way they are liabilities of the bank.

  12. Irrational

    Not sure what it is like in the US, but in Europe many companies (airlines etc) charge for processing credit card payments even when there is no alternative. So much easier to slap a fee on electronic payments, so guess who is driving the bad-mouthing of cash!

    1. diptherio

      DING, DING, DING!!!! That was my immediate thought. Make all payments electronic and then some company will be able to justify taking a cut of every single transaction, just like with CC payments now. It will be another tax but slightly disguised as a fee for “convenience.”

      And how, pray tell, will you be able to give a homeless person a dollar or your grandkid a five-spot if there is no more cash? Screw all these control-freaks…

      1. fresno dan

        You know, many of the people who advocate against cash would fancy themselves “liberal”
        Despite the CIA revolutions in Iran and Chile, the Gulf of Tonkin, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (not), etcetera, they still have an irrational belief that the government wants to make the world better (wasn’t that how keeping the bonuses for the AIG scalawags was sold???) – instead of the much more in accord with reality proposition that the government exists to maintain the status quo, especially the idea that its just the natural order that the rich get richer…
        One gets the impression these guys buy the motto of police departments “to protect and to serve” – and they believe it!
        You know, it is against the law in a number of jurisdictions now to feed the homeless. If they can strangle you for selling “loosies” I would imagine they can monitor how much your spending on food.
        Authority: “Having a party there – cause I sure hope your not thinking about defying local ordinances prohibiting the feeding of vagrants in public parks….it carries a stiff fine”

        1. MaroonBulldog

          Totalitarians fancy and project themselves as “liberal”. By which they mean to suggest generous and benevolent, not liberty-loving. In truth, they’re neither.

    2. Faye Carr

      As a lower income consumer, I’m more concerned with the fees (sometimes hidden) that attach to my plastic purchases. It’s expected with credit card purchases. But when it unexpectedly hits my Debit card (with required direct deposit) I can see the lint in my pocket being skimmed. A $20 cash back after purchase hit my debit account with a $3.00 fee recently- at a Dollar Store.

      Worry over identity issues pales in comparison to this seemingly small potatoes fee attachment. That costs almost nothing to rake up and in.

      What isn’t really too surprising is how normal and acceptable it’s become. Cash has lost it’s cache’

      1. OIFVet

        Debit cards are a bad way to pay, far worse than credit cards. For one, you as a consumer have fewer protections if your debit card info is stolen. Second, it can cost your friendly local small business a lot more to accept your debit card payment than it would a credit card payment. When faced with two bad alternatives, go with your credit card.

    3. OIFVet

      Europe is funny that way: the banks and corporations have fewer restrictions on fleecing the masses than they have in the US. In some places said fleecing is even mandated by the government, as in Bulgaria. Say you want to renew your drivers’ license, the government entity does not accept payment for the renewal fee. The fee must be paid to the bank the government has contracted with for the purpose. So you walk over to the desk the bank has set up in the facility, and you have to pay the bank a fee to accept your payment, regardless whether you pay with cash or plastic. Very infuriating, to say the least.

  13. PQS

    Wealthy people love cash. So do casinos. Neither will be talked out of it any time soon.
    We shouldn’t, either.

  14. Watt4Bob

    The following is an excerpt from an FDL diary, that I wrote almost a year ago.

    It’s called All About Money

    The people who are in charge of everything believe that it’s right, proper, indeed ‘natural’ that they be in charge of everything because they believe that no one could do as good a job of being in charge of everything because they think they are smarter than everybody else.

    The reason that the 1% of people believe they are smarter than everybody else is rooted largely in what they believe is their self-evident, superior understanding of money; that is to say, the understanding that money is not money.

    The trouble is, the difference between the 1%’s understanding of money, and the common man’s understanding of money is not evidence of the 1%’s superior intellect, so much as of their lack of a moral compass and their ability to rationalize the depraved indifference they show to their fellow man.

    A friend once quipped that;

    “We should all get down on our knees every morning and thank whoever it was who invented money.”

    By that he meant cash, because it allowed for orderly economic interaction at the level of the street.
    It is truly horrifying to think our ‘betters’ would deprive us the use of cash in order to make sure they never have to miss a chance to steal ‘they’re’ rightful share in our every transaction.

    1. Watt4Bob

      By way of clarification I should add this quote from Gertrude Stein;

      Everybody now just has to make up their mind. Is money money or
      isn’t money money. Everybody who earns it and spends it every day
      in order to live knows that money is money, anybody who votes it
      to be gathered in as taxes knows money is not money. That is what
      makes everybody go crazy.

      I believe she was commenting on the obvious, to her, reasons behind the economic chaos the gripped the world leading up to the Great Depression. That is the 1%’s self-serving manipulations, and gambling vis-à-vis the ‘Markets’.
      In those days, perhaps more obviously ‘gaming’ than now because since then we’ve been treated to re-education to convince us that the ‘Market’ is sacrosanct.
      Imagine convincing a preacher that dice are really God-given tools, and you can glimpse the true nature of Wall St.’s real accomplishment.
      The whole point being, of course, that our ‘problem’ is perennial, the pirates will always and forever look for more and better ways to rob us.
      At this point in time they’ve more or less perfected their ‘game’.

      1. DJG

        I wouldn’t be so sure about Gertrude Stein. She was a rightwing Republican and even cooperated with the Vichy government. I suspect that she meant that those who collected taxes had no respect for those who earned money, a typical rightwing talking point.

        1. Watt4Bob

          I understand and accept your point.

          I will admit that I’ve always been so taken with her word-craft that I hadn’t explored deeply enough the controversy surrounding her behavior under Vichy/Nazi occupation.
          That said, I think this quote was written closer to WWI, and highlights the reality I was writing about, that money is viewed as an abstraction by the financial elites who push the meme that “Money doesn’t matter, it’s just a way of keeping score.”

          Money certainly does matter, that is to anyone who needs it for everyday purposes, and never as a score-keeper.

          1. fresno dan

            I certainly see your point.
            And I think what people like me who agree with you would say, is isn’t it strange how in the world of high finance land, the people who lost trillions of dollars through financial chicanery (or maybe sheer stupidity – why not both???) are not even investigated, but the average person who really never understood a non amortizing balloon payment mortgage lose all the fees, all the payments, and are homeless….default for the poor, but not the rich.
            How many rich bankers became poor????
            http://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/aug/06/financial-crisis-25-people-heart-meltdown

            It seems to me the only “improvement” in finance since the great depression is that our modern monetary system has perfected that no rich person will suffer a loss…

          2. MaroonBulldog

            In the world of fiat, It isn’t money as such that matters so much as the balance of one’s accounts. Money only has value in an exchange transaction, and so it really isn’t a store of value. When you need money to buy something, you’re better off having something or some claim you can sell to get the money you need, than having money itself.

  15. Garrett Pace

    Big banks have proved so willing to launder money for criminal organizations that I don’t think going cashless will harm any ambitious criminal enterprise.

  16. DJG

    We live in this era:” I think there is a general desire in American culture right now to find something that is more crafted, more personal.”

    People talk this way? Cash isn’t crafted? Not lumbersexual enough? This guy is deeply lightweight.

    1. OIFVet

      In some parts of the intertubez there lurk lost souls who take great pleasure in displaying all the different credit cards they have been issued, the associated credit limits, and their credit scores. They willingly have reduced their humanity to a collection of logos and numbers, and are proud to display their loyalty to their financial masters. Don’t get me wrong, for some people the right credit cards can provide an additional, hidden, and untaxed income in the four or five digits annually in the form of cash back. It is another way to reward those with the resources to spend a lot and pay in full every month. I know I enjoy that benefit by charging all of my business expenses and getting a lot of free personal travel in return. But it comes out of the pockets of merchants and many of those yahoos I mentioned earlier. In return for getting fleeced they get the illusion of having a credit product taylored for them and their 750 FICO, never mind the rube two posts down who got the same CC with his middling 710. The psychology can be fascinating to observe.

      1. trinity river

        LOL I know someone who thinks the free travel miles she earns from her credit card is a result of her being frugal. The message is that everyone could do the same thing if they were smart enough.

  17. flora

    “Without cash, we would live in a much safer, less violent world with enhanced social cohesion, since the major incentive fuelling all illegal activity [i.e. cash]… would disappear. ”

    As if the banks themselves haven’t been responsible for the biggest financial crimes.

    1. EoinW

      The banks also fund our governments and their Endless War policy. We drop bombs on people everyday and pay for them with debt.

      Of course it’s not considered violence when the 1% is doing the killing.

      1. flora

        We also drop pallet loads of cash in Afghanistan and elsewhere to pay tribal leaders. Dropping pallets of credit cards would be useless. Russian grandmothers buy $100.00 bills to preserve their savings. The physical dollar is accepted almost everywhere and is part and parcel of its world reserve currency status. Eliminating dollar paper currency will erode the dollar’s reserve currency status.

    2. MaroonBulldog

      Without cash, there would be fewer bank robberies of the man-with-gun-in-his-coat-pocket-hands-note-to-teller kind, so one certain kind of violent crime likely would diminish in cashless economy.

  18. ep3

    Two things that I don’t see mentioned here that should be:

    1. When ppl hold cash, they hold power. How many times have you gone to a small business and they say 2 things: a. no credit card transactions under “a certain amount”; b. ‘the bill is $200, but I would take $180 in cash’. You are excluding the financial world from being a middle man to every transaction and extracting a fee every time a transaction occurs.
    2. With all this cash under people’s mattresses, that is cash that is not circulating in the financial markets. It’s a way to force all that money into the financial system to be taxed, fee’d, etc. until your money is worthless.

    I would also like to add something about my personal identity. That information is entrusted to 3 private companies, that are known to have messed up. If their records get messed up, as the article says, you are screwed. How do you file grievances? What rules/laws govern how they treat my information? To whom do they answer to? If something is so important as my date of birth, SS #, fingerprints, etc., then why doesn’t the government take care of that and protect it?

    1. MaroonBulldog

      Because the government isn’t here to protect you? Because governments derive their powers from the submission, not the consent, of the governed?

    2. washunate

      the bill is $200, but I would take $180 in cash

      I often make it a point to ask if there are cash discounts. They are extremely rare. Except of course at places that don’t accept credit cards. Which are also extremely rare.

      Businesses, generally speaking, love credit cards, especially larger ones. They are fast and reliable. Cash takes time. It gets stolen. It has to be deposited. Checks are written fraudulently. Etc. Not a single major retailer has stopped accepting credit cards. Why? Because they’re great for business.

      I think what you are describing is tax evasion, not frustration with credit cards. Which of course is perfectly reasonable, just a different issue. That’s why Amazon is a huge retailer. It gained its scale from enabling customers to circumvent state and local sales taxes in the US.

  19. lambert strether

    Rogoff is still writing after that academic fraud case? All you need to know, really.

    1. Benedict@Large

      Oh, come on. They are still treating Rogoff’s work as if it hadn’t been rebutted. He’s one of them; the Sacred. IOKIYS.

  20. Blue Meme

    I agree that this seems to be where we are headed.

    From the perspective of the government, the incentive is obviously the completion of the reach of the police state into all of our dealings. From the perspective of the financial services sector, the motivation is equally obvious: the privatization of money itself. I’m not sure which part is more more frightening.

  21. The Heretic

    My suspicion is that a cashless society would not reduce the number of arms dealers, nor the flow of armaments, to any group favoured by a corporation, institution, nation, or rich or powerful private individual. These groups buy large quantities of weapons through middlemen; moving barrels of cash would be very inconvenient and insecure method of payment. The only thing this might do is construct the very small time (but visible) street crooks, ordinary individuals or very small militias who buy guns in the street.

    In other words, making the world safer for future (1%) generations.

  22. EoinW

    Taking a close look at western society, one has to admit that the majority of people will go along with a cashless society, even welcome its perceived convenience. Where I work we changed from payment by cheque(which could be cashed at the store) to direct deposit. Out of close to 100 employees, only two of us fought the change. The other fellow unfortunately died of a heart attack a few years ago(why don’t neocons ever die of heart attacks at the age of 48?). The simple fact is that a neo-feudal world is being created and most people are perfectly fine with it. How can the 1% get away with anything if the 99% are not willing to let them?

    1. jrs

      Yes I prefer real paychecks, I think it’s just more rewarding. But if you do direct deposit you can sometimes get it a day sooner or something, or if your on vacation. But in that case you are really cutting the budget too close especially if a day or two is a big deal. That’s way beyond even living paycheck to paycheck at that point.

    2. Nathanael

      Nope. As soon as “negative interest rates” are attempted, people will demand cash. Very very very quickly.

      You’ll be amazed how quickly this happens.

      Feudal societies didn’t have bank accounts. (The Romans did — these disappeared as feudalism arrived.)

  23. Doug Terpstra

    A cashless society under biometric surveillance of a global TPP govt does have a creepy end-of-days association with the book of Revelation.


    And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a MARK in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

    And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the MARK, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

    1. hunkerdown

      At the sci-fi con I was at this weekend, the theme was human augmentation. While the 3-D printers along the balcony whined, whirred and stuttered out parts for mechanical hands for kids in Asia who lost their own to land mines, some guy across the hall was implanting RFID chips into the hands of any who wanted one.

      The “number of his name” — one wonders about the antecedent here, the Beast, or the man? That said, I wonder whether Revelations of St. John on the Cross may have been a political treatise underneath all that metaphor. (Much like the astrologers and mages of the Renaissance and before.)

  24. Georg

    Just read this while riding the bus into the U.S. from Canada and about to cross the border.

    A half hour later, at the border, the DHS goons — who project an air of fascist swagger I’ve not seen at any of the dozen plus int’l borders I’ve crossed — popped this native-born U.S. citizen a question I’d never gotten before:

    Did I receive more than $1000 cash while I was in Canada?

    Now, I know that amounts of currency / negotiable instruments over $10K are a problem, but I never thought that any amount under that had to be declared / explained at the border.

    Cash being cash, it seems to me I could have answered that if I in fact had more than $1000 on me that it was money I’d brought over from the U.S. and was bringing back, and, barring receipts showing otherwise, it would’ve ended there.

    My rule of thumb at the border is … try not to lie, but also to take a stand and refuse to answer questions about which they have no authority — someone carrying cash less than $10K falls under that category, I believe. But realize that any such refusal will likely lead to escalation — search of luggage, electronics, seizure of latter.

    But anyway, a heads up: $1000 at the border is a new threshold of official U.S. suspicion.

    (There should be a webpage where people can anonymously report what initial, outta-the-blue questions get asked of travelers at the U.S. border.)

    1. fresno dan

      why not 100$?
      now, is a nickel bag literally a nickel’s worth? Or is it 5$ worth? Because if this is to prevent drug dealing – well, you see where this leads….

    2. cnchal

      . . .but I never thought that any amount under that had to be declared / explained at the border.

      Over 10K, you must declare, and not just cash, monetary “instruments” too.

      … try not to lie, but also to take a stand and refuse to answer questions about which they have no authority

      I dare you to try that. US customs officers have total authority at the border. That my seem extreme, but that is just the way it is, and never lie. Those outta the blue questions are asked for a reason, and often the reason isn’t what you think it is. Did you get lucky? If so, they wanna know.

        1. cnchal

          Total authority? YES. Coming and going!

          What does remaining quiet and not answering have to do with authority?

          There is no restriction on the questions one can be asked that I know of. If the officer tells you to open the trunk, remaining quiet and not answering is beside the point and extremely counterproductive.

      1. washunate

        That’s the thing.

        The USFG does not have carte blanche to do as it pleases. But it does claim to have carte blanche.

        So if you are in a position to assert your rights, absolutely, do so. Indeed, millions upon millions of tiny choices not to comply with the authoritarianism is the only thing that will change the authoritarianism. Just be aware that the government claims that you have no rights. Awareness is key to navigating tricky situations.

        1. Bill

          here’s a handy summary of your rights at the border:

          ACLU-AZ Border Rights

          highlights:

          Agents at ports of entry may question people about their citizenship and what they are bringing into the country.

          Even though you always have the right to remain silent, if you don’t answer questions to establish your citizenship, officials may deny you entry to the U.S. or detain you for search and/or questioning.

          Agents may search any person, the inside of any vehicle, and all passenger belongings. Agents do not need a warrant, any suspicion of wrongdoing, or consent to do any of these things.

          Agents may search any person, the inside of any vehicle, and all passenger belongings. Agents do not need a warrant, any suspicion of wrongdoing, or consent to do any of these things.

          CBP’s own policy requires that searches be “conducted in a manner that is safe, secure, humane, dignified and professional.”

          Agents at ports of entry:

          • Cannot use excessive force.
          • Cannot conduct more intrusive searches such as strip searches or repeated detentions unless they have “reasonable suspicion” of an immigration violation or crime.
          • Should not damage personal property during an inspection.

    3. L Wheatley-Irving

      Georg, I wonder if you will see this… It’s the fact that you are on a bus, and not driving your own car, that makes the border creeps suspicious. The bus is for poor people. I used to take the bus from Chicago to Toronto, and on the return trip, there were always people who weren’t allowed into the US, for whatever reason. This doesn’t happen to people in cars.

  25. John Yard

    If I pay for groceries via cash the market transaction is between myself and the grocery store – there is no intermediary. Cashless transactions involve the insertion of an intermediary . This intermediary can skim both ends – a certain percent from both buyer or seller. If cash transactions were difficult, the bargaining power of the intermediary goes up. Of course , the skim is paid in the end by the buyer as the seller adjusts his prices to make the skim. The effect is a private value added tax VAT , going to a financial provider.

    1. Jus7tme

      >>The effect is a private value added tax VAT , going to a financial provider.

      Exactly what I have been saying for years, about the credit card duo-poly.

    2. fresno dan

      There’s the skim, and there’s the information.
      If you take the advocates at their word, – well, stopping drug transactions, than it would seem logical (FOR THE CHILDREN!!!!!!!!) to make sure the bearer is not underage and buying booze for a teen party.
      Or is too young to be buying condoms…..

      I can actually remember being a child and going to the corner grocery store to buy cigarettes for my mom…..
      My parents didn’t drink, but I wonder if children could buy booze back in those days….

  26. reslez

    And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.

    Outlaw cash and the fundies will revolt–it just will not fly in many parts of the US. Too many fear the mark of the beast. I’m not joking, I have specific relatives in mind. If you thought anti-vaxxers were nuts just wait. The difference is the anti-vaxxers exercise their religion and only kill their own kids, or kids of other commoners. There, religious freedoms can be tolerated; the rich don’t care about our kids. But you are not permitted to mess with the financial system in this country. Prepare for another raft of tragedies courtesy the ATF.

  27. Jus7tme

    Cash is a mechanism for holding money outside of a bank (depository institution).

    A well-known right-winger phrase about guns and criminals comes to mind. “If guns are outlawed, only criminals will posess guns”. One could reuse the basic principle more progresssively as follows:

    If cash money is outlawed, only criminals (banks) will be able to possess money.

    Corollary: All criminal activity will then be centered around banks.

    In other words, banks will continue their criminal activity, and indeed get a monopoly on criminal activity.

    1. fresno dan

      another phrase come to mind:
      “Defining deviancy down” (the very definition of forgery has been gutted to protect finance)
      Or more accurately, when a bank does it, its not against the law….

  28. Benedict@Large

    Important to understand that this desire to make society cashless is driven by the need in monetarism to have negative interest rates. Monetarism of course is complete garbage, but a lot of rich academic jerks have staked their professional reputations on it, and it’s more important to preserve the reputations of these jerks than it is to maintain a functioning economy.

  29. words

    anyone, here, or anywhere (most especially those who love dancing (you whirling dervishes, you!) as an amazing human, and other mammal, release – whether it’s in the shower, or subtly in that grocery store lane when an amazingly good song plays), in need of renewing their spirit of fighting against fucked up shit done by the forever elite/corporatized “us” government ..find yourself some James Brown recordings, especially his earlier days, take a deep breath, and prepare for your pugilist self, against stunningly, outrageously fucked up shit.

    oopsie, let’s ban cash, so billions on the face of this planet, earth, who are, and always have been, without any On Line Access have no ability to buy anything when they actually desperately need it.

    And, there is, never has been to my knowledge, any verifiable figure, either, on just how many even in Silicon Valley its self have no online access whatsoever; (let alone not having THOSE $600 plus SMART PHONES NECESSARY TO BE “CASHLESS” (that is not even to mention those stunning INTEREST CHARGES on that capacity).

    Say it loud, I’m a human being, NOT A BOT, and I’m proud of it.

    1. MaroonBulldog

      You do understand the plan, I see. The purpose of banning cash is to ensure that only those who benefit the creditor class may live.

  30. words

    (the 4 compact disc set (for those millions who now have no access to turntables and ‘vinyl’; Steve jobs, is said to have far preferred that analogue turntable, even while he decimated it), James Brown Star Time is a great collection if you can find it somehwere.)

  31. susan the other

    I remember at least 10 years ago there was talk about how to include all the underground commerce, i.e. cash commerce, outside the system because it represented a very large amount of money that was evading government control. The bit about Bill Gates pushing for a cashless Africa is interesting because the example used back then was Africa. And to refer it as “trickle-up” is amusing. Trickle down feeds the 1% and so does trickle up! I’m not so sure digital money will make transactions fail-safe because in 2008 the banks refused to honor each other’s credit, so digital money will not eliminate monetary crises. And also interesting is that Janet Yellen, last week, took the podium to tell investors that cash was not a good store of value any more. Implying that our money is no longer a good store of value. So now all money is good for is as a medium of exchange. So why not go digital? As long as they regulate bank fees to zirp.

    1. flora

      funny, in’it ? now that so many are sitting on cash because trust is low in the current honesty of Wall St, the SEC, the FED, the financial system in general – now Yellen and others are saying ‘cash is bad.’ riiiight. Eliminate cash, much easier than cleaning up the financial mess they’ve created. Cash is still king.

    2. hunkerdown

      Dmitry and the Archdruid have been saying for a while that it’s probably a better idea to store up your wealth in useful tools than in the system, and officialdom catches up. Well, then.

  32. casino implosion

    I assume that abolishing cash would just drive criminals and dope dealers to quickly adopt some sort of crytographic, bitcoin type of thing. The apprentice in my gang at work buys all kinds of steroids and illegal uppers on the so called “dark web” with bitcoins and from what he says, the kids are pretty comfortable with that.

  33. words

    this is all so stunningly deadly. … to my mind, the largest thing that can be done now is that those of us who see the stunning deadliness of it, use cash upon every opportunity possible (as those billions ‘off line’ have had no valid choice in (sans stunning, life threatening: INTEREST CHARGES), whatsoever, but to do), unless we don’t have the cash for something we absolutely need.

  34. Rosario

    We have done an okay job of dealing with currency that “shall be” but what of currency that “shall be unseen”? I really do not appreciate where we are pulling currency in tow with Neoliberal ideology. A vulgar (more appropriately half-assed) quantification of everything, including human beings. I’m imagining a dystopian novel where everyone is implanted with a chip valuing them in the designated currency. Their balance is displayed for all to see, and a negative balance makes you subject to public ridicule and abuse or possibly imprisonment (enslavement). I recently heard a physicist on public radio talk about how Star Trek influenced them to enter their career. I only wish economists would be saying the same. Then maybe we would be going in a different direction economically.

  35. MaroonBulldog

    Do your grandchildren a favor: teach them to study accounting, computer science, and finance, especially financial engineering, so they will have a chance to make themselves useful and employable by the totalitarian minds who plan to rule the world in the future.

    If Robert Reich is in favor an idea, that’s enough for me to know what it’s about.

  36. words

    yup, Rosario, my thoughts too:

    A vulgar (more appropriately half-assed) quantification of everything, including human beings. I’m imagining a dystopian novel where everyone is implanted with a chip valuing them in the designated currency.

    that chip, to my suspicions, will be forced, if we don’t fight back.

    Ugly: that whole 8 years of horrid, bot seeming, Shrub Bush seemed designed to shut people up as fundies (even when that’s the last thing they were) when implanted chips were ever brought up.

    Yet, can anyone “staying on top of technology” not acknowledge that is now even existent as to swallowable pills, ever on the guard to wipe out ‘disease’ that may not even be disease at all?

  37. elena

    What if everyone went into their banks and cut up their credit cards all at once. Could we live without them??

    1. washunate

      Sure we could. But why would we do that en masse?

      Credit cards are valuable for most consumers and businesses that use them. They enjoy features that render them superior in a number of use cases to alternative payment methods such as cash, checks, money orders, wire transfers, ACH authorizations, and vendor financing.

  38. chicagogal

    1. How would the bank know if you have/had cash or coins in your security deposit box unless they search them or film you putting in/taking out the money?

    2. Switching to a digital monetary system gives the banks and governments and easier way to seize your money when they tank the economies.

  39. words

    dearest chicagogal:

    1. How would the bank know if you have/had cash or coins in your security deposit box unless they search them or film you putting in/taking out the money?

    That brings to mind the Empire of California Raiding from Bank of America (I do believe they were BofA boxes (not to let Chase, et al …off of that ‘hook,’ WHATSOEVER), could be wrong (but I doubt it) security deposit boxes under the auspices of apparently stunningly LOOPHOLED CALIFORNIA STATE: Abandoned Property LAWZ, despite those box owners being fully paid up on their security deposit boxes.

  40. words

    and, quite unforunately, those BofA security box holders:

    That brings to mind the Empire of California Raiding from Bank of America (I do believe they were BofA boxes (not to let Chase, et al …off of that ‘hook,’ WHATSOEVER), could be wrong (but I doubt it) security deposit boxes under the auspices of apparently stunningly LOOPHOLED CALIFORNIA STATE: Abandoned Property LAWZ, despite those box owners being fully paid up on their security deposit boxes.

    weren’t NAZIS with stolen bloodied goods, as in that Hollowood Movie which Jodie & Denzel starred in, they were apparently everyone else, but them.

  41. words

    Dear Elena, regarding:

    elena April 27, 2015 at 4:43 pm What if everyone went into their banks and cut up their credit cards all at once. Could we live without them??

    yeah horridly, millions of us now can’t, but one thing many of us can still do, as far as vital needs, is to refuse to pay other than cash, or by check (and demand that receipt of payment on something tangible such as recyclable paper), versus automated on line bot payments (where, if your computer crashes, you have no proof whatsoever of payment, or balance due) , which many times are stunningly overinflated, incorrect, and increasingly (can we note Uber billings here?), blatantly blood (i.e.: Life itself) suckingly predatory.

    1. flora

      “… automated on line bot payments…
      In my mid-size midwestern town it was discovered that one local utility was adding a late fee, a dollar or two, to every single automatic bill pay payment. A young housewife who carefully went over her bills discovered this and then proved that her bank account was setup to pay 1 week before the due date. When questioned, the utility company said the late fees were a mistake, a computer glitch, no idea how it happened, so sorry.

  42. washunate

    The cashless society is a very interesting fakeout because it cannot be done. I don’t mean logistically; that’s easy. The bulk of economic activity has been non-cash for decades. All the US has to do is say old versions of FRNs are no longer valid currency and bam, no more cash usage.

    But the US government can’t actually do that. The systemic fraud depends upon those mountains of cash remaining valuable, and FRNs are only valuable to the extent that their face value is recognized by the government.

    It’s also an interesting thought exercise on a deeper level about the very definition of money. Cash as we use it colloquially means transaction money denominated in the national currency, or perhaps more loosely, transaction money denominated in any national currency (the “medium of exchange”). But there’s a whole other kind of money – savings money. If the government were to ‘ban cash’, then people would simply use non currency-denominated savings money instead as their medium of exchange, from gold, silver, and copper coins to bus passes, cigarettes, liquor, and any other common items that are relatively easy to transport, store, and identify. For the more expensive items, there are of course the less common objects, too, such as antiques, art, jewelry, furniture, and so forth.

    “Fiat currency” is merely one small subset of “money”. Sure, you can ban fiat currency, but so what? That’s simply removing government from the relatively few number of transactions where the parties don’t want government involvement anyway(!).

  43. Lune

    Count me among the skeptics re: the crime link. The biggest beneficiaries of organized crime and black market cash economies are the money launderers in NY, London, and Miami who can charge a hefty fee for converting that cash back to legitimate electronic funds. They make far more money than the drug dealers themselves (compare Miami to Bogota, Colombia, and ask yourself which city made more money off the cocaine trade of the 80s/90s?).

    I really think this is in preparation for NIRP more than anything else. Rogoff is right: as long as cash is an alternative, you cannot force a negative interest rate policy. Of course cash already is NIRP when managed in large amounts (there are carrying costs to renting large safe deposit boxes). But the only way for central banks to set a negative interest rate below the carrying costs of cash is to ban cash.

    The crime stuff is just a justification. Or do people really believe multi-billion dollar organized crime rings who are expert in skirting around far tougher laws (e.g. drug laws) won’t figure out a way to do business in a cashless regime?

  44. words

    Elena,

    I am very, very sorry as to any totally understandable misconceptions , as regarding:

    Dear Elena, regarding:

    elena April 27, 2015 at 4:43 pm What if everyone went into their banks and cut up their credit cards all at once. Could we live without them??

    yeah horridly, millions of us now can’t, but one thing many of us can still do, as far as vital needs, is to refuse to pay other than cash, or by check (and demand that receipt of payment on something tangible such as recyclable paper), versus automated on line bot payments (where, if your computer crashes, you have no proof whatsoever of payment, or balance due) , which many times are stunningly overinflated, incorrect, and increasingly (can we note Uber billings here?), blatantly blood (i.e.: Life itself) suckingly predatory.

    I’m very, very sorry, Because, I should have CLEARLY ‘clarified,’ when noting:

    … one thing many of us can still do, as far as vital needs, is to refuse to pay other than cash, or by check (and demand that receipt of payment on something tangible such as recyclable paper), versus automated on line bot payments …

    that I meant how to deal with PAYING THAT ‘CREDIT card’ BILL. I did not mean: do not use that credit card if you have no other choice.

  45. words

    impossible to pick any favorite songs by James Brown, but, I suspect (on an entirely subjective level, I will certainly admit), one might perhaps get the gist with: Please, Please, Please; I know it’s True; ….Night Train; ….Cold Sweat; I can’t stand myself (When you touch me) ; even…. Get It Together; … and, certainly, …. Funky Drummer […. Shades! … good “gawd” it’s a raid! … cut out the lights! .. and call the LAW! ….. standin’ over there, the devil’s son in law. …. … it’s in my shirt, …… you’re about to work me to death]

  46. frosty zoom

    james brown performed “say it loud – i’m black and i’m proud” at nixon’s inauguration.

  47. H. Alexander Ivey

    There are two big points about cash in society. The first one is well fought out in the comments – anonimous transactions. But the second is not so clearly stated, that is, with cash, one is not tied to a bank or a credit system, so one is not charged money to do their day-to-day life. This “charge for being tied to a bank” actual is quite significant to the individual, and eventually significant to society. Just read “Hand To Mouth: Living In Bootstrap America” by Linda Tirado, for the burdens of being outside the middle class banking system.

  48. words

    frosty, re:

    james brown performed “say it loud – i’m black and i’m proud” at nixon’s inauguration.

    true, that he did, but then again, Dixiecrats (Democrats} were heavily reponsible for bus burnings in the South during his childhood, do you have any more nuanced commentary to add?

  49. words

    Actually, frosty, I should have said lynchings, shootings and lord knows what, as the bus burnings weren’t in his childhood. Not much more than a dimes worth of difference between Clinton, whom you maybe voted for twice (I’m very ashamed to say, I did), and Nixon. So your point is?

    1. frosty zoom

      i have only ever voted for el don quixote et al.

      nixon was a far better president than clinton. well, at least for americans.

  50. MaroonBulldog

    Cash is expensive to count, store, transport, and safeguard, all those things are true of it: maybe digital information as money will crowd cash out of digitally wired economies. It’s probably inevitable that digital information money will crowd cash out of some economy in the not so distant future. And if and when it does, surveillance state totalitarians somewhere will abuse the new monetary system that results in ways my comments above describe, and more. If not in this surveillance state here, then in that one, over there, somewhere. Any system that can be abused will be. And abusers can discover ways to abuse information systems much faster than countermeasures can be anticipated.

    1. Nathanael

      Which is why the preferred countermeasure will be… cash. Or possibly gold.

      Ivory tower fools like Rogoff don’t understand why cash is popular. They’re doing the sort of things which will make it MORE popular, not less.

  51. farang

    You want to know where this is really going? The corporation I am now temporarily employed by, using Direct Deposit of my expenses and salary, “offered” to make it a “Debit Card” account…..with FEES for usage.

    Anyone foolish enough to trust the Fraudmuffins not to use FEES to GRAB YOUR LABOR’S FRUIT deserves exactly what they will get.

    What this signals is their desperation. What this signals is a frantic attempt to stem the coming hyperinflation of money and deflation of asset values.

    Have a nice day!

    1. MRW

      farang,

      What this signals is a frantic attempt to stem the coming hyperinflation of money and deflation of asset values.

      No it doesn’t. Read about hyperinflation here.

      What this signals is simple greed, a company trying to make money off its temp employees.

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