UPDATE: This was written immediately following the Fed's Jackson Hole meeting in late Aug 2016. It is a walk through of our escalating alarm at what we discovered was on the agenda. So forgive the color in the first part that betrays our naivete.
But this is we feel one of, if not the first real public attempt to persuade the US to go cashless. Reasons like " It would make it easier to go NIRP" were pitched to the Fed. Meanwhile Rogoff, who was probably interviewing for a job, was preaching that money was used for crime. Point is, it all started snowballing then. And we wrote on observations that things were popping up on cash removal globally.
Since our last piece on how VISA was the beneficiary of India's move to eliminate cash, and how that was a field test for the West, we stopped writing about it. Essentially giving up and resigning ourselves to the end of economic freedom for most people at the hands of multiculturalism's self appointed clerical class doing what's best for us.
Then we read Zerohedge's post of Yves Smith article for nakedcapitalism.com about Visa bribing merchants to dissuade customers from using cash. So we dug up this piece as it is shockingly obvious what they were planning from the beginning
Visa's Study on How to Go Cashless in India:
"Abolish Cash"- KC Fed paper - Aug 28th, 2016
Jackson Hole as Backdrop to "War on Cash"
Friday at the Fed Symposium a document was handed out in conjunction with a discussion. Note the discussion's title:
11:55 a.m. - Negative Nominal Interest Rates: author Marvin Goodfriend (Carnegie Mellon), discussant Marianne Nessen, head of monetary policy at Sweden’s Riksbanki
However, the discussion's accompanying handout had a different title: The Case for Unencumbering Interest Rate Policy at the Zero Bound- Marvin Goodfriend.
We initially dismissed this last Thursday as a sales pitch of the Fed's ability to handle NIRP if it came to that. "Risky but in the right hands it can work" was our predicted synopsis
Then we read it Friday. Our takeaway was that this document was not just a discussion on NIRP risk and how to assess if/when to use it. This was also an answer key on how to make it happen. And among those recommendations was to "Abolish Paper Currency".
Here are other articles we've posted on the topic. Note the India/ VISA story
- Visa Benificiary as India Now Bans Cash Swap
- India Eliminates 80% of its Cash- Gold Next?
- Governments Are Winning the War on Cash - Rickards
- U.S.War on Cash Declared- from Aug 28th
- Why You Should Pay Attention to the US War on Cash
So to Yves Smith we say the only thing stopping cash from being completely removed is the little phrase on the bills themselves. That phrase is there to protect the country. To refuse US currency in the US is to say you do not recognize the US government. And to use credit cards only, themselves derivative ( or promise to pay US currency at a later date) , is patently absurd. Those that rationalize this as more convenient are again sacrificing freedom for convenience. We think he'd agree.
Remember when using a credit card was sold to us as easier and quicker than cash? Is that still true? We do not think so. Chip tech and "approval" time is 10x longer than using cash now. That assumes the cashier can still count sadly. Now, on a plane you cannot use cash for legitimate reasons we're sure. But convenince is not one that should be on the list.
So here is the nexus for us if not the start of the movement's growing balls and beginning its push.
Paper Excerpt: How to Kill Cash
Full Paper HERE
This is a logical extension for using ATMs as profit centers. And just one of many ways you will be sold on the cure for your problems.
Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death
Remember when ATM's were introduced? We were petrified to use our Manny-Hanny cards at first. But they were a cost reducer for banks and the idea was TBTF for them. Tellers could be sacked then and the public embraced it for convenience reasons eventually. Like long lines from no tellers being open ( see EZ Pass today). Then it became a source of revenue as bank ATM's charge you money if the machine is not theirs. Bank sells on a cure for a disease they create. Imagine being a fired teller having to use an ATM the rest of your life. Dehumanizing we'd imagine.
You will eventually be charged for convenience on any innovation that reduces a company's operating cost through implementation of said innovation. It is the curse of incumbency. Once behavior becomes a habit, it is hard to break. Electronic incumbency is at the top of that list. Electronic Incumbency in business would be a function of lost executive function and addictive behavior in Psychology.
Here are some bullet points to consider on the topic:
- Abolishing cash makes it easier to manage the markets especially in a NIRP environment
- The rationale of transacting with ease via electronic swipes of a card is the pretense
- The reality is once cash is abolished there will be no way to transact business except with a debit/credit card
- And we will all be locked into the system, our choices made for us.
- Net effect, reduces bank risk via no clearing time, ease of transactions for user, forces all trade to be intermediated by a bank
- Banks get the ultimate exchange type franchise.
- Probably right afterwards they become pure utilities for the Government again.
- our childhood friends wouldn't be able to launder counterfeit $10's at hot dog stands- wait, ignore that one.. You get the point though. You would be a walking EZ Pass
Banning Cash Solves Global Economic Problems- Harvard economics professor
On Saturday, an Echo of Friday's attack on currency was published by the Wall street Journal. If people like Prof. Kenneth Rogoff have their way In their cashless utopia, you'd have no choice - all purchases and transactions would be recorded, stored, hacked, and sold. It is laughable to say removing the $100 bill would be helpful. Removing the $1000 bill was valid, but that is a factor of 10X Ben Franklin's note. So it is 1/10 as effective practically. Professor Rogoff is also former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund and about to publish a book called we kid you not " The Curse of Cash".
More from the paper. There are too many to go into at this time. We strongly recommend a full reading of it.
An implication that NIRP was not unlike going off the Gold standard and therefore justified.
Perhaps that is a good parallel but we don't see it. Both actions take us further from hard money and deeper into the realm of subjective valuation. So we see NIRP not as a parallel comparison at all, more of an extension of the first action (No gold standard) by the second action (NIRP). From The Article:
If the Gold standard was a deflationary encumbrance at one extreme, then what can negative interest rates be but its polar opposite? How does putting more control into a subjective authority's hands increase its credibility to "sustain a stable purchase power of money"? We don't see it.
Cash worth Less than e-Cash? YES WE CAN
Here's one Jim Rickards alerted us to in a twitter comment he made:
Imagine different $ values for cash & bank deposits not "defended" by Fed. (The) Fed considers it (already)
We think he is referring to this section from the article which implies that paper money can be made to trade at less than its digital counterpart.
So unless we are misreading this, if used, the Fed would be debasing your faith in a FIAT paper currency even while it tries to establish an even more esoteric form of FIAT, digital money. But what would give credibility to a digital currency that is based only on (unseen) electrons? Janet Yellen's opinion and the occasional fat finger?
Those of us familiar with swaps know that the real thing almost always trades at a premium to the tracking product. Here the tracking product would become the physical, and the physical an unsupported tracking stock. This is about tails wagging dogs.
Let's be clear. Gold is the ultimate FIAT money. It has value because we believe it has value. But it is suited to have value because it is unused in industry and as a monetary unit its supply growth is very predictable. What could change that? Two polar opposite examples would be: If Gold were alchemically synthesized (loses value) or if it were used industrially and irrecoverably (gains value). These would undermine Gold's credibility as a stable currency. Our issue here is demoting a tangible object (currency) that represents an intangible store of value (FIAT), to an intangible currency (101101101010's) representing the same.
-follow Vince on twitter @ Vince Lanci
Given the above concept; How easy would it be for the Fed to declare in an emergency: "All Comex Gold contracts are now settled in cash. Delivery has been suspended by force majeure'. There would be no need to make ownership illegal if it ever came to that. The government has far better tools at its disposal these days to confiscate Gold if it ever needs.