Every time we turn around, it seems, there’s another major assault in the War on Cash.
India is the most notable recent example– the embarrassing debacle a few weeks ago in which the government, overnight, “demonetized” its two largest denominations of cash, leaving an entire nation in chaos.
But there have been so many smaller examples.
In the US city of New Orleans, the local government decided earlier this month to stop accepting cash payments from drivers at the Office of Motor Vehicles.
As I wrote to you recently, several branches of Citibank in Australia have stopped dealing in cash altogether.
And former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers published an article last week stating that “nothing in the Indian experience gives us pause in recommending that no more large notes be created in the United States, Europe, and around the world.”
In other words, despite the India chaos, Summers thinks we should still curtail the $100 bill.
The conclave of the high priests of monetary policy almost invariably sings the same chorus: only criminals and terrorists use high denominations of cash.
Ken Rogoff, Harvard professor and former official at the International Monetary Fund and Federal Reserve, recently published a book blatantly entitled The Curse of Cash.
Ben Bernanke’s called it a “fascinating and important book”.