Metals Notes

The War on Cash: Implications for Gold & Silver

Government bureaucrats, central bankers, and Wall Street executives all have reasons for ridding the masses of their cash. It should be no surprise to anyone that they are working together to achieve that goal. But why? The self interest of bureaucrats is one factor, they don’t like privacy. They dream of the day when they can access all your financial information with just a few keystrokes. The knowledge will help them more aggressively tax and regulate.

Central bankers have a different motivation. Their policy of preference is NIRP….Negative Interest Rate Policy. Bankers in Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Japan have already launched NIRP. Their counterparts elsewhere, including the U.S., are planning for it. The plan is to create an environment where customers must either spend their savings or pay their bank interest to hold deposits. For this to work the government must coerce the masses into turning their cash into electronic money. Otherwise everyone will just withdraw their cash over time and literally hide it under their mattresses. When you have to pay a bank say, 1% to access your money, holding physical cash gives you a better return (0% vs. –1%). Those of you convinced that the Fed is set on higher long term interest rates should note the following: History shows that economic downturns/recessions lead to lower interest rates. With current rates near historic lows it’s not difficult to imagine a negative interest rate scenario. Already, U.S. banks are making it more difficult to withdraw cash. Most banks only keep nominal amounts of cash on hand and then make you jump thru hoops if you attempt to withdraw any quantity of consequence.

Do we take it for granted that we can keep physical cash? Photo Chance Agrella

Bankers are drooling over the profit potential for all transactions to be done electronically. They stand to rake in processing fees every time you use a card or cell phone for purchases as opposed to using cash. In a cashless society bankers will gain a larger customer base, as the public will no longer have the option of holding currency outside the banking system.

The public needs to remember the true reasons that the powers that be want to eliminate cash from circulation. You can be assured that politicians and bankers won’t be truthful as to their reasons for eliminating cash. Wall Street wants you to focus on the convenience of electronic payments. Bureaucrats are preoccupied with stigmatizing cash as a tool for drug dealers, tax cheats and terrorists.

If the public ultimately loses the ‘War on Cash’ here are some likely ramifications for precious metals investors. Negative interest rates should drive significant demand for gold and silver. NIRP is a testament to the fact that central bankers will try literally anything to produce inflation. Such a controversial policy should set off alarm bells for anyone who isn’t concerned about inflation, or who may be betting on deflation. If central bankers want inflation, they have the power to create it. As always, inflation fears will drive demand for physical bullion.

While politicians and bureaucrats can theoretically win the ‘War on Cash’ because they have complete control over the issuance of paper money, they cannot win a war on bullion. Physical bullion is private and ‘under the radar’, a nightmare for regulators.

If politicians attempt to tax and regulate precious metals they are likely doomed to fail. Gold confiscation had only marginal success in 1933 when the U.S. population consisted of approximately 85 million obedient patriots. A similar confiscation attempt today in our country of 325 million diverse individuals would likely be a logistical nightmare at best and chaos at worse.

Politicians and their allies in the banking industry aren’t likely to eliminate the masses desire, or ability, to transact privately using barter instruments such as gold and silver bullion. The drive to eliminate cash will inevitably push the public into cash alternatives, most notably precious metals.