War on Cash Backfires
Guest Post from Clint Siegner, Money Metals Exchange
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a surprise attack on cash in late 2016. He gave Indians a few days to convert the two largest denomination bills then circulating to bank deposits, after which point any undeposited notes would become worthless. The move was intensely controversial. Transactions completed using cash represented the vast majority of economic activity in the country. [Editor: See note below!]
MD: When looking at individual transactions, cash represents the majority of economic activity in any country. When you’re talking about “real” money, “all” transactions are in cash. And all cash transactions are totally anonymous. This is different than saying “money creation” is anonymous. With “real” money, “all” money creation is transparent. This means anyone can see who is creating the money and under what terms and how they are performing on delivering on those terms. And they can see this is real time.
In order to sell the program Modi employed a familiar strategy. He vilified the users of cash as tax cheats and criminals. He promised the measure would punish black marketeers, boost the Indian economy, and increase tax revenues. The latter may be true – forcing transactions onto the grid is good for nosy bureaucrats trying to impose taxes and controls.
But it now appears Modi’s claims about the amount of criminal activity tied to cash and promises of economic growth were nonsense.
The official argument was that cash is an indispensable tool for black marketeers. The reform would catch many of these “criminals” with piles of cash they would be unwilling to declare and deposit. That argument fell apart last week when the Indian central bank reported that 99% of the outlawed bills were converted to deposits. Turns out very few “criminals” were punished.
MD: So, did they reverse the policy?
Meanwhile the Indian economy is paying the price. Growth has slowed significantly and some estimate as many as 5 million jobs have been destroyed by the demonetization of cash. More and more Indians are angry.
MD: Why would that be? What transactions that were being done in large denominations quit being done altogether?
They didn’t enjoy the upside promised by Modi. Instead, they suffered massive economic disruption and loss of privacy. Perhaps India’s experience will provide an object lesson elsewhere in the world where bankers and the political elite are waging a similar war on cash.
Clint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, the national precious metals company named 2015 “Dealer of the Year” in the United States by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals’ brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.
Thanks to Clint Siegner, Money Metals Exchange
Note: Voltaire understood the process over two centuries ago. He said, “Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value – zero.” (Voltaire, 1694-1778)
MD: And that is correct. It’s only money when the promised delivery is in process. On delivery, the money is returned and destroyed. And during the delivery process, the money itself never has intrinsic value. It doesn’t need it … just like 1965 when we proved that coins didn’t need silver content to be useful to traders. So what?
Unbacked debt based fiat currencies (dollars, euros, pounds and most others) that possess no intrinsic value are devalued by central bankers and governments.
MD: This is nonsense. When you know what money is, you know “all” money is “fiat” … and that is no issue at all. Governments counterfeit money. They don’t create it with a trading promise on which they intend to deliver. And counterfeit money is obviously not real money and is not tolerated at all in a proper MOE process.
And with “real” money there is no such thing as a central bank. There is no need for one. And with “real” money, the value of the money itself never changes. That is guaranteed by the process itself … a process that maintains perpetual perfect balance between supply and demand for the money itself.
With “real” money, the ideal unit of measure is the HUL (Hour of Unskilled Labor). This unit (like the ounce … and unlike the ounce of gold) has never changed over all time. It has always traded for the same size hole in the ground.
They do it because it benefits the political and financial elite and appears beneficial in the short-term. History shows the supposed benefits of devaluation are nonsense, but they keep trying…..
MD: And they couldn’t keep trying with a “proper” MOE process and “real” money. The process would exclude them from the playing field with its natural negative feedback system … i.e. mitigating defaults immediately with interest collections of like amount.
Fiat paper money and political power do not mix well. The people — not the political or financial elite — pay the price.
MD: Counterfeiting and political power are a “natural” mix. And it is correct: counterfeiting results in inflation … and that hurts responsible traders. The problem is not in the “fiat”ness of the money … it’s in the counterfeiting by the governments.
It has happened before and will happen again. Gold and silver are good alternatives to devaluations by governments and central bankers.
MD: Gold and silver are only good for a very short time when counterfeiting finally results in a reset. In the normal operation of a “real” MOE process, gold and silver play no role whatever. They are just clumsy inefficient stand-ins for real money. They can’t compete with real money except at reset time … which never occurs with a “proper” MOE process … because counterfeiting is not tolerated by a proper MOE process. With our current process (and all historical MOE processes), counterfeiting is not only tolerated, it is required. Governments need the inflation to sustain themselves and the money changers, that institute those governments for their protection, need the fictional “time value of money” to demand tribute and run their farming operation (i.e. business cycle).
The Deviant Investor
MD: Gary Christenson and the Deviant Investor need to “get a clue” … but they won’t because they’re in the gold selling business.