Cash is king, right? There is, after all, some $4,200 in cash circulating for every person in the US, and that’s outside financial establishments. But when is the last time you used cash? Studies show 50% of us carry $20 or fewer in our wallets. How practical will paper currency remain, especially in the age of rising digital currencies?

To find out, I chatted with economist Kenneth Rogoff, a professor at Harvard University. From 2001–2003, he was Chief Economist at the IMF. His 2009 book with Carmen Reinhart This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly examined patterns and similarities in severe financial crises. His fascinating new book, The Curse of Cash (September 2016), argues we should dramatically cut the world supply of cash to cut down illegal activity and help the economy.

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Members have made 10 comments.

  1. Profile photo of EJHill Contributor

    What a horrible idea.

    Non-traceable cash = personal liberty.

    • #1
    • November 1, 2016 at 5:43 pm
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  2. Profile photo of mezzrow Member

    My reaction to this is emetic.

    Consider that the largest denomination bill available currently ($100) is equivalent to only $35.00 when Reagan won in 1980.

    It’s about control.

    • #2
    • November 1, 2016 at 6:14 pm
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  3. Profile photo of EJHill Contributor

    Lady Next Door: Tommy, how would you like to earn $5.00?

    Tommy: Sure Mrs. D!

    Lady Next Door: Well, I need these boxes taken out to the curb. Could you give me your routing number? And fill out this W-9. Oh, wait. Jimmy is going to have to do this. Your brother Billy is almost over his hours on mowing my lawn. You may push my Obamacare limit!

    • #3
    • November 1, 2016 at 6:31 pm
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  4. Profile photo of I Walton Member

    Here we go. This view has been predicted as necessary for the government to get their hands more completely on personal wealth and freedom. A better idea is to reevaluate the things we consider illegal. Most of them can be legalized and better defined in law. Or just forget about them. The rest of us should figure out how to stop the run away criminal enterprises we call government. Any argument?

    • #4
    • November 1, 2016 at 7:14 pm
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  5. Profile photo of J Climacus Member

    Cash must be eliminated before we get to negative interest rates, otherwise everyone will remove their money from banks. That’s what “helping the economy” means: Making it impossible for people to save their wealth rather than spend it. Yes, it’s about control

    • #5
    • November 1, 2016 at 7:17 pm
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  6. Profile photo of Kozak Member

    Yes to control illegal activity.For the sake of the children.

    • #6
    • November 1, 2016 at 7:44 pm
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  7. Profile photo of DialMforMurder Inactive

    James and editors, can you tell me how this is suitable for a website supposedly devoted to centre-right conversation?

    • #7
    • November 2, 2016 at 12:28 am
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  8. Profile photo of Nancy Spalding Thatcher

    When I saw he was from Harvard I was not surprised, but in the IMF he must have had his eyes squeezed tightly closed– what of the 2nd economy? (aka grey market, informal or cash economy) However he deludes himself, it is not all criminal activity or ducking taxes & regs! He should know that much of so-called 3rd world productive activities are 2nd ec, because the official economy is unavailable to the poor, and often to middle class without connections! The 2nd ec is growing larger in the US– those 94 million moved out of the workforce are not all on welfare, by a long shot, but are informal– in legal, decent, productive or service activity which is necessary but not allowed/possible under our administrative state! And, not talking about illegals– rather, ordinary working people driven out of the workforce by O-care restrictions & a bad economy! (30 hours as full time my– well, you know…)

    My daughter & son-in-law don’t have a bank account, and are in food service. They cash their checks & pay their bills in cash, except a few they put on their declining balance debit card (i.e, phone). They are not rich, nor are they criminals! (they support their 2 children beautifully, without frills, with hard work, love, a bit of help from grandparents, and no government assistance) My outrage upon hearing his self-satisfaction was such that I forgot the c-of-c when talking back to the podcast in the car! And, if the go to negative interest rates, we will have to take our pathetic savings out of the banks, and put it in our mattresses, or bury it (tough to do with a brick patio behind my townhouse)

    (deep breath…) which is worse, his ignorance of the way so many people, around the world *and* in the US have to live, or his indifference to them, since they are dodging taxes & regs? I am tired of Ivy League/DC elites who “know” how to run things, but are so woefully ignorant, and condescending to boot!

    Sorry, “TLDR” but I needed to say it to get the hamster wheels to quit spinning…

    • #8
    • November 3, 2016 at 6:38 pm
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  9. Profile photo of Blue Yeti Admin

    DialMforMurder:James and editors, can you tell me how this is suitable for a website supposedly devoted to centre-right conversation?

    The rise of digital currency is not inherently a left or right topic. The guest may be, but the topic isn’t.

    • #9
    • November 4, 2016 at 10:50 am
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  10. Profile photo of DialMforMurder Inactive

    Blue Yeti:

    DialMforMurder:James and editors, can you tell me how this is suitable for a website supposedly devoted to centre-right conversation?

    The rise of digital currency is not inherently a left or right topic. The guest may be, but the topic isn’t.

    This is about preserving the anonymity of transactions, and if you feel that all transactions should be digitally recorded, you are advocating on behalf of the surveillance state. that IS a big-government idea and inherently left-wing.

    • #10
    • November 4, 2016 at 10:02 pm
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