As we predicted over a year ago, in a world in which QE has failed, and in which the ice-cold grip of NIRP has to be global in order to achieve its intended purpose of forcing savers around the world to spend the taxed product of their labor, one thing has to be abolished: cash.
This explains the recent flurry of articles in outlets such as BBG and the FT, and op-eds by such “established” economists as Larry Summers, all advocating the death of cash, a process which would begin by abolishing high denomination bills and continue until all physical cash in circulation is eliminated, something we warned about when the first made it first NIRP hint last September.
The real reason the war on cash is gearing up now is political: Politicians and central bankers fear that holders of currency could undermine their brave new monetary world of negative interest rates. Japan and Europe are already deep into negative territory, and U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said last week the U.S. should be prepared for the possibility. Translation: That’s where the Fed is going in the next recession.
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By all means people should be able to go cashless if they like. But it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the politicians want to bar cash as one more infringement on economic liberty. They may go after the big bills now, but does anyone think they’d stop there? Why wouldn’t they eventually ban all cash transactions much as they banned gold and silver as mediums of exchange?
Beware politicians trying to limit the ways you can conduct private economic business. It never turns out well.
We were even more surprised when we read that in Switzerland, the place which offers the highest denomination banknote in Europe, the 1,000 Swiss Franc note (and the second highest in the world after the Singapore $10,000 note) two politicians, Philip Brunner and Manuel Brandberg, members of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, have proposed a motion that they hope Zug will support for a cantonal initiative seeking changes to the federal currency law.
They argue that the creation of 5,000-franc notes will ensure that the Swiss franc maintains its status as a safe haven currency.
As we reported previously, this proposal is the diametrical opposite of what the ECB hopes to do, and of where the European Union wants to go, where finance ministers have talked about withdrawing 500-euro bills from circulation to deter their use for “financing terrorism, money laundering and other illegal activities”, all made up terms designed to give the impression that politicians are slowly eliminating physical currency in circulation for your own good.
They are not.
This is what the Swiss politicians admit too: Brunner and Brandberg maintain that the tendency in the EU and in OECD member countries is to “weaken individual liberties” and to exercise greater control over citizens.
But it is what they say next that may define the libertarian political platforms around the globe for the next several years – also known as the global NIRP period – because it is 100% spot on:
In this context “cash is comparable to the service firearm kept by Swiss citizen soldiers,” the pair argued in their motion, saying they both “guarantee freedom”.
“In France and Italy already cash payments of only up to 1,000 euros are allowed and the question of the abolition of cash is being seriously discussed and considered in Europe, “ Brunner said on his Facebook page.
The move toward electronic payments allows governments “total surveillance” over individuals, the pair claim.
Of course, the proposal was promptly shot down by the Swiss National Bank: “Walter Meier, a spokesman for the Swiss National Bank, which is responsible for Switzerland’s money, told 20 Minuten newspaper the introduction of banknotes of a higher denomination is “not an issue.”
Keep in mind this is the same central bank which in late 2014 pushed hard against a popular referendum to replenish Swiss sovereign gold by buying gold in the open market, only to generate billions in paper losses months later when it admitted defeat in the currency war with the ECB; a central bank which then lost even more billions when it decided to buy shares of AAPL at their all time high price and is now sitting on substantial paper losses.
As for the Swiss proposal to print higher denomination currencies, we are confident it won’t pass now: if it did, there would be an unprecedented rush from around the globe to park savings in Swiss cash, just like in the good old days.
But the time of big currency denominations is coming one way or another: after all, NIRP is the falling Keynesian system’s penultimate hope. When it fails, there is just one last option, the one we have said is coming ever since 2009, the one which even the “smartest money in the world” agreed today is inevitable: helicopter money.
And as Ben Bernanke made it all so clear in 2002, once the helicopter money comes, hyperinflation is very close behind. And one thing hyperinflation always brings with it, is very highly denominated bank notes. Just ask Zimbabwe.