By Nick Giambruno
Central planners around the world are waging a War on Cash. In just the last few years:
- Italy made cash transactions over €1,000 illegal;
- Switzerland proposed banning cash payments in excess of 100,000 francs;
- Russia banned cash transactions over $10,000;
- Spain banned cash transactions over €2,500;
- Mexico made cash payments of more than 200,000 pesos illegal;
- Uruguay banned cash transactions over $5,000; and
- France made cash transactions over €1,000 illegal, down from the previous limit of €3,000.
This is why they’re lowering the threshold for mandatory reporting of cash transactions and, in some instances, simply making it illegal to pay cash.
In the U.S., central planners ratchet up the War on Cash every time the government declares a made-up war on something else…a war on crime, a war on drugs, a war on poverty, a war on terror…
They all end with more government intrusion into your financial affairs.
Thanks to these made-up wars, the U.S. government is imposing an increasing number of regulations on cash transactions. Try withdrawing more than $10,000 in cash from your bank. They’ll treat you like a criminal or terrorist.
The Federal Reserve is at the center of the War on Cash. Its weapons are inflation and control over the currency denominations.
Take the $100 note, for example. It’s the largest bill in circulation today. This was not always the case. At one point, the U.S. had $500, $1,000, $5,000, and even $10,000 notes. But the government eliminated these large notes in 1969 under the pretext of fighting the War on Some Drugs.
Since then, the $100 note has been the largest. But it has far less purchasing power than it did in 1969. Decades of rampant money printing have inflated the dollar. Today, a $100 note buys less than a $20 note did in 1969.
Even though the Federal Reserve has devalued the dollar over 80% since 1969, it still refuses to issue notes larger than $100. This makes it inconvenient to use cash for large transactions, which forces people to use electronic payment methods.
This, of course, is what the U.S. government wants.
It’s exactly like Ron Paul said: “The cashless society is the IRS’s dream: total knowledge of, and control over, the finances of every single American.”
Policymakers or Central Planners?On stories related to the War on Cash, you may have noticed that the mainstream media often uses the word “policymakers,” as in “policymakers have decided to keep interest rates at record low levels.”
When the media uses “policymakers,” they are often referring to central bank officials. It’s a curious word choice. As far as I can tell, there is no difference between a policymaker and central planner.
Most people who want to live in a free society agree that central planning is not a good idea. So the media uses a different word to put a more neutral spin on things.
To help you think more clearly, I suggest substituting “central planners” every time you see “policymakers.”
The World’s First Cashless SocietyIn 1661, Sweden became the first country in Europe to issue paper money. Now it’s probably going to be the first in the world to eliminate it.
Sweden has already phased out most cash transactions. According to Credit Suisse, 80% of all purchases in Sweden are electronic and don’t involve cash. And that figure is rising.
If the trend continues – and there is nothing to suggest it won’t – Sweden could soon be the world’s first cashless society.
Sweden’s supply of physical currency has dropped over 50% in the last six years. A couple of major Swedish banks no longer carry cash. Virtually all Swedes pay for candy bars and coffee electronically. Even homeless street vendors use mobile card readers.
Plus, an increasing number of government restrictions are encouraging Swedes to dump cash. The pretexts are familiar…fighting terrorism, money laundering, etc. In effect, these restrictions make it inconvenient to use cash, so people don’t.
So far, Swedes have passively accepted the government and banks’ drive to eliminate cash. The push to destroy their financial privacy doesn’t seem to bother them. This is likely because the average Swede places an unreasonable amount of trust in government and financial institutions.
Their trust is certainly misplaced. On top of the obvious privacy concerns, eliminating cash enables the central planners’ latest gimmick to goose the economy: Negative interest rates.
Making The Negative Interest Rate Scam PossibleSweden, Denmark, and Switzerland all have negative interest rates.
Negative interest rates mean the lender literally pays the borrower for the privilege of lending him money. It’s a bizarre, upside-down concept.
But negative rates are not some European anomaly. The Federal Reserve discussed the possibility of using negative interest rates in the U.S. at its last meeting.
Negative rates could not exist in a free market. They destroy the impetus to save and build capital, which is the basis of prosperity.
When you deposit money in a bank, you are lending money to the bank. However, with negative rates you don’t earn interest. Instead, you pay the bank.
If you don’t like that plan, you can certainly stash your cash under the mattress. As a practical matter, this limits how far governments and central banks can go with negative interest rates. The more it costs to store money at the bank, the less inclined people are to do it.
Of course, central planners don’t want you to withdraw money from the bank. This is a big reason why they want to eliminate cash…so you can’t. As long as your money stays in the bank, it’s vulnerable to the sting of negative interest rates and also helps to prop up the unsound fractional reserve banking system.
If you can’t withdraw your money as cash, you have two choices: You can deal with negative interest rates…or you can spend your money. Ultimately, that’s what our Keynesian central planners want. They are using negative interest rates and the War on Cash to force you to spend and “stimulate” the economy.
If you ask me, these radical and insane measures are a sign of desperation.
The War on Cash and negative interest rates are huge threats to your financial security. Central planners are playing with fire and inviting a currency catastrophe.
Most people have no idea what really happens when a currency collapses, let alone how to prepare…
How will you protect your savings in the event of a currency crisis? This just-released video will show you exactly how. Click here to watch it now.
Nick is Doug Casey’s globetrotting companion and is the Senior Editor of Casey Research’s International Man. He writes about economics, offshore banking, second passports, value investing in crisis markets, geopolitics, and surviving a financial collapse, among other topics. He is a CFA charterholder. In short, Nick’s work helps people make the most of their personal freedom and financial opportunity around the world. To get his free video crash course, click here.