War on Cash Turns to $20, $50, and $100 Bills


By Clint Siegner

Harvard professor and economist Ken Rogoff is once again leading the chorus of high-level academics and officials who declare cash is only for criminals. He made his case in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial called the “Sinister Side of Cash.” The solution, he declares, is to simply get rid of anything but the smallest bank notes.

In his vision, drug dealers, human traffickers, and tax cheats are everywhere, but they are reliant on cash. Our benevolent central planners can largely incapacitate them by ridding society of anything larger than a $10 bill.

Kingpins won’t know what to do when a single-engine Cessna full of cocaine requires a Boeing 747 full of $1s, $5s, and $10s to make payment.

Rogoff seems to blame cash, not bad people, for facilitating criminal activity. He writes:

There is little debate among law-enforcement agencies that paper currency, especially large notes such as the U.S. $100 bill, facilitates crime: racketeering, extortion, money laundering, drug and human trafficking, the corruption of public officials, not to mention terrorism.

People worried about meth dealers swapping dangerous drugs for “dirty” cash might get mad enough, and afraid enough, to put up with what Rogoff calls a “less cash” society. While elimination of most cash might make it harder for black marketeers who operate in the small dark corners of society, it will be a bonanza for the undesirables along Wall Street and in Washington DC who are planning to shake down literally everyone.

Getting rid of large bills is a terrific way for them to herd people down a blind alley and pick their pockets. Bankers will grab handfuls of fees and deposits they wouldn’t otherwise get because people can no longer hold or transact with cash. Fed officials can impose negative interest rates, robbing even more of the value from everyone’s savings. And bureaucrats in government can swipe everyone’s ability to transact privately using off-the-grid cash.

At least Rogoff is willing to admit the REAL REASON cash is a problem for central bankers who want to impose negative rates. You just have to read much further down, past the pictures of shady characters and contraband:

Unfortunately, the existence of cash gums up the works. If you are a saver, you will simply withdraw your funds, turning them into cash, rather than watch them shrink too rapidly. Enormous sums might be withdrawn to avoid these losses, which could make it difficult for banks to make loans – thus defeating the whole purpose of the policy.

Like all Keynesians, Rogoff doesn’t care much for savers. How dare they withdraw cash to avoid negative yields and other losses!

He wants savers to be treated more like livestock – ready to be milked, shorn, and butchered by smarter policy makers such as himself.

One thing is for sure – many people, criminals, and honest people alike aren’t going to let themselves be herded to financial slaughter.

Officials certainly have control over the supply of cash circulating in society. But they do not control the alternatives, the first and foremost being gold and silver rounds, coins, and bars.

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It won’t take long for drug lords to figure out that while an airliner full of small bills is impractical, a briefcase full of small gold bars can work just fine. Nor will all savers stand for paying their bank to hold deposits when they can convert those savings to precious metal instead. It is easy to predict these sorts of unintended consequences – the very reasons why central planners such as Rogoff inevitably fail.

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.

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75 Comments on "War on Cash Turns to $20, $50, and $100 Bills"

  1. Use precious metals.

  2. Gee?!?…How is the CIA gonna sell all that Afghani heroin & cocaine & then gather up all their $$$ world wide ???….because they are of course, the world’s biggest drug dealers…This professor is either delivering edicts for the 0.01% ‘bankster gangsta’ pyramid cap…or… he’s gonna get lead poisoning real soon (lol)
    …I wonder if this edict is USA specific?…further eviscerating the middle class to join the 1/3 of America that’s already disenfranchised …poor…& on food stamps?

  3. Take away the larger denominations of cash and people will just as easily use silver and gold coins.

    • Think HUGE black markets and Metals

    • An equivalent situation might be when national currencies have become useless except within certain fixed government systems – I’m thinking the USSR. Black markets developed, certainly bartering and promissory notes. I wonder what they used, if anything, besides Rubles? Did Russians seek out other fiat currencies that were more trusted or were more precious metals used?

      I don’t have the answer, it’s just an interesting line of inquiry.

  4. He’s a professor at Harvard. It’s not like he’s the Federal Reserve chairman or the chief of the G7, G20, World Bank or Bank of America. Whether everything becomes cashless or not, it will still require that all people verify their identity before any financial transactions can take place. Most likely the end of cash altogether will be necessary for the fulfillment of Revelation 13:16-18

  5. By far, the largest heist in the world ever taken was by the fake one world digital currency. The largest cash heist done to date was Obama when he paid Iran in unmarked currencies…1.7 billion in hard cash to the Iranians. Outside of that, bankers and investors, MF Global and John Corzine who robbed investors more than the much famed Bernie Maddoff who stole a bleak 50 billion. Of course there are others like Goldman Sachs and Enron and then of course GW with his remark that they have to abandon the free market to save the free market and stole a trillion…two trillion with Obama. All digital money that has left the public high and dry with nothing tangible to speak of. If you don’t have possession of it, you simply don’t have it.

    • Given that the Iranian funds were held in an interest bearing escrow account, which today would be worth more than 11 billion, Obama got a great deal for us! Only paying 1.7 billion leaves the profits in the hands of the US govt.

  6. Academic globalist pawns. Genius level idiots. Fools with degrees and wound-up panties. Did I miss anything. Those sumbitches will say anything they’re told. For as smart as they think they are, they believe they’ll have a piece of the new paradigm but just don’t get how expendable they are. When the masses are dead, they’ll be useless, just like they are now.

    • Irony is these academics usually get their just deserts prior to the unfortunate masses. Usually black bagged in the middle of the night: turning a blind eye are their fellow beta academics and their neoghbors (who are glad the ninnies are gone).

  7. On display is the hubris of academics meeting the inexorable growth of government. We all have those relatives who get paid in paper checks and immediately convert to cash: not out out of any legitimate distrust of banking or even for “illegal” activities, but rather banking to them is over-complicated. The progressive’s war on the poor is relentless.

    • Yep, cards, credit and electronic money encourages overspending.

      • Similar to the way casinos use chips to divorce people from their attachment and value sense of money. Risking bills we are familiar, is harder than pushing out plastic chips in a “game”.

        • So very true!
          Cheap plastic chips are subconsciously perceived as merely “game pieces”, not hard earned money, or even “hard earned fiat currency”. LOL.

          • I do appreciate bitcoin and the advent of digital money as a medium of exchange. But the tangibility of assets, for some, is an essential component of managing their personal finances. We all have family members who either choose, or by necessity, need to work with a tangible physical currency. Like Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it’s just better they operate on a cash basis.

            Even fiat currency represented in a bank account can become an obstacle for people of a certain mental make-up. If there were a free market in money, I don’t believe a digital currency would satisfy all consumers. Precious metal monies or privately insured/well capitalized currencies would likely be well established and made as useful as possible to people. Given how other competitive products have advanced so much in a limited free market space, I’m not sure my imagination can guess all the many benefits a free market currency might produce. And unlike fiat currency, which is made to the benefit of government, a free market currency would be made to serve the customers and so there would be little chance that the kind of customer abuse discussed in the article would ever come to pass. If anything, a free market currency would be competing to become more useful, portable, stable, accessible, and trustworthy.

            You have academics and government conspiring to make one of their monopoly products less useful. So typical.

          • Yes.
            I like the fact that Bitcoin is (probably) a well-meaning attempt to get around fiat currency. Unfortunately Bitcoin is simply not good enough.

            I can’t help face-palming every time I come across Bitcoin fanboys carrying on about how they have just “mined a fortune in Bitcoins”. Real miners use pickaxes, not keyboards. They mine something physically tangible that one can hold in one’s hands, that is valued in and of itself.

            What do Bitcoin “miners” mine? Nothing but electronic ones and zeros. Cyber IOUs. If one holds Bitcoins, one holds nothing more than promissory notes. Electronic casino chips. Casino chips, like FRNs, have zero value in and of themselves. They are merely claim checks on real money.

            Bitcoins are a free market medium of exchange, true. But they are free market currency. Not free market money. It is good that they are free market. But it is not good that they are nevertheless currency.

            The only way to make Bitcoins even come close to free market money, rather than free market currency, would be to make each Bitcoin redeemable for a designated weight in gold, silver, platinum, whatever. Unfortunately that would make Bitcoin vulnerable to robbery by government SWAT teams.

            There simply is no substitute for precious metals, or some other physical commodity that is inherently desirable and or useful. Money is always something physical that has high value. If what one is holding is merely paper, or digital ones and zeros, that is not money. That is currency.

          • My thoughts exactly. And what happens with bitcoin if the grid/internet/computer systems go down?

          • Right.
            I like the fact that Bitcoin seems to be a sincere effort to empower individuals by providing them with an alternative to fiat currency.

            The problem is that state violence makes it pretty much impossible to back Bitcoin with precious metals. Backing Bitcoin with precious metals gives it a bricks and mortar presence no longer in cyberspace, one that SWAT teams can swoop in on and rob.

            This relegates Bitcoin to the status of a currency. A voluntary currency it’s true. but a currency nevertheless, with all of currency’s disadvantages. It’s a problem.

            In the long term, the only solution is the red pill and the end of the Myth of Authority.

          • Coralyn Herenschrict | September 24, 2016 at 6:42 am |

            Disagree. Bitcoin is no less valid a form of money than gold. And a uniquely superior money compared to gold in certain use cases just as gold is superior in others. Bitcoin does not need backing by something else to be valuable any more than gold needs backing by something else to be valuable. A money’s value comes from the quality of the exchange mediation service it provides on account of its fundamental properties.

          • “A money’s value comes from the quality of the exchange mediation service it provides on account of its fundamental properties.”


            Now that part is 100% correct. The fundamental properties of FRNs and Bitcoins is that they are in and of themselves, completely worthless. Unless you count the value of an FRN as a piece of notepaper. Bitcoins are even less substantial, being “virtual”.

            Which is exactly why both FRNs and Bitcoins will one day be worthless.

          • Coralyn Herenschrict | September 24, 2016 at 8:50 am |

            Bitcoin is as inherently worthless as gold is inherently worthless. Gold has no magical property imbuing it with value compared to lead. It’s simply that gold’s physical properties, including its scarcity, make it more suitable for use as money than lead. That’s the only reason gold is valued as money and lead is not.

            In a context of digital commerce conducted at distance, Bitcoin’s mathematical properties, including its scarcity, make it more suitable for use as money than gold.

            One has to understand where the value from money comes from. Not politician fiat. Not divine blessing. Not length of historical track record. From utility. Pure utility. Nothing more.

            Money provides a very valuable service mediating exchange. In a free market for money, the consensus choice among traders of what will be used as money will inevitably gravitate toward whatever provides traders medium of exchange service at highest quality with lowest cost.

          • I agree.
            We need more people educated about the blockchain, distributed networks, cryptography, and such, so that the facts you just stated can be understood by more people. Notice how I don’t mention BTC, that is because it is irrelevant what “coin” is used to achieve these properties you describe. Just so happens that the install value, or network value, of BTC is significant due to it’s being the first and most participated in network. (all that was not for you but other readers CH)

          • Coralyn Herenschrict | September 26, 2016 at 3:06 pm |

            Yes, you understand. Bitcoin is irrelevant. I use it as a more relatable moniker for whatever cryptocurrency the free market settles upon. In fact, think Bitcoin will soon be face serious challenge from a competitor offering an advantage valued even more than Bitcoin’s well-established network.

          • Well dish then.

          • There is great stuff on Mises.org that fleshes out these arguments. A good point is made about the irreverence of a need for a money to have a commodity value to satisfy the regression theorem, as the price structure is already in place to value the new money not arising from pure barter.


          • The trust in the transaction by way of the blockchain and consensus decision making is the true value of BTC. We don’t need any underwriters, physical metals, or anything else to understand that the BTC is legitimate and not counterfeit or fraudulent.

          • Tears of loss mixed with angel feathers are known to return vanished bitcoins back into existence. I suggest those heavily invested in bitcoin collect angel feathers now – the tears will be plentiful.

            LIke Bevin, I respect what Bitcoin has tried to do, but its not adequate. If we’ve learned anything: good intentions are not the answer.

          • Coralyn Herenschrict | September 24, 2016 at 6:53 am |

            Yes, Bitcoin is a terrible money try to use absent computers and networks. Just as gold is a terrible money to try to use with them. Fundamentally different forms of exchange happening over fundamentally different mediums call for fundamentally different forms of money suited to those mediums.

          • Bitcoins are currency, NOT money.
            FRNs are currency, NOT money.
            The terms are not interchangeable.

          • Coralyn Herenschrict | September 24, 2016 at 8:40 am |

            Merriam-Webster defines currency as: “the money that a country uses / a specific kind of money / something that is used as money.”

            I dissent from M-W’s definition. I find it a newspeak obliteration of the difference between money and currency as I distinguish the two.

            I define currency as a promissory note convertible on demand into money. The “current” in “currency” refers to the “on demand” aspect of the note. Historically FRNs were currency because they were a promise to pay a dollar (a weight) in gold (money) on demand. Bitcoin cannot be currency by this definition. Bitcoin is not an on-demand promissory note to pay something else.

            As to whether Bitcoin is money, well, what is and isn’t money is subjective. It depends upon one’s own choice and the choices of other traders one wants to trade with. For example, if we sailed to the Pacific island of Yap a hundred years ago our gold would be useless shiny rocks in the eyes of local traders. We’d need to instead use big stone wheels to trade with them, because that’s what they used as money.

            For me, Bitcoin is money because I choose it for my medium of exchange service across like-minded traders. Others may decline to use Bitcoin as money. That’s their choice of course. They may prefer to ship gold around in UPS boxes or place their trust in some centralized 3rd party to hold gold on their behalf and settle accounts. They may be OK with excluding themselves from all trade opportunities employing Bitcoin.

            I merely argue that’s highly disadvantageous. It’s quite a costly choice. The lowest cost producers are going to use the most cost-efficient form of money in their operations. Physical gold sucks for settling payments across globally-far-flung, dynamically forming and dissolving teams maximizing employment of specialization of labor. In this use case, Bitcoin offers dramatically lower transactions costs. Bitcoin enables entire structures of production not practical using gold.

            Parties refusing to use Bitcoin as money present an easy arbitrage opportunity for those not so encumbered. A money-changing entrepreneur could open a profitable shop just reselling goods obtained from lowest-cost producers using Bitcoin for marked up prices in gold. Gold-only users would have no alternative but to pay these inflated gold prices since they exclude themselves from buying direct with Bitcoin.

          • The first priority must always be to wind up with something that retains its value in and of itself. That is only possible with a physical commodity that has value apart from being a medium of exchange.

            If something has value only as a medium of exchange, that is not good enough. When the SHTF, it becomes worthless.

            Don’t say you weren’t warned.


          • Coralyn Herenschrict | September 26, 2016 at 7:05 am |

            The first priority must always be to wind up with something that retains its value in and of itself.

            Yes, but that thing to end up with is goods and services with value to human life – food, shelter, clothing, medicine, guns, etc. Not gold. Gold provides no value to human life. Alone on a desert island, a huge pile of gold bars won’t do squat.

            Thus gold’s “inherent value” is all but zero (estimates are industrial and scientific value of gold is a few dollars an ounce). Essentially all gold’s value comes from the value other traders attribute it on behalf of the quality of service it provides them as medium of exchange. Thus, gold has no value it “retains” other than what people choose to attribute it at any given moment on account of the superior service as money it delivers to them.

            That is only possible with a physical commodity that has value apart from being a medium of exchange. If something has value only as a medium of exchange, that is not good enough.

            Other historical commodity moneys like salt and beaver pelts have even more inherent value than gold. Salt nourishes and beaver pelts warm. This does not make salt and beaver pelts better, more coveted money than gold. They deliver far worse money service not only on account of their worse physical properties, but for another crucial reason. Their use as money attempts to simultaneously ride two conflicting supply/demand curves, one for consumption and the other for money. Accordingly each curve gets distorted by the other and one ends up subsidizing the other resulting in malinvestment, malproduction, and malconsumption.

            Gold avoids these problems exactly because gold has negligible physical world utility apart from the money service it provides. That’s why historically it outcompeted other commodity monies to become the most widely preferred choice. In money, a lack of inherent value is an desirable feature.

            When the SHTF, [Bitcoin] becomes worthless.

            True, if SHTF people will lack electricity and computers, so will certainly choose gold’s money service over Bitcoin’s. In that context of local production and face-to-face trade, in that particular environment, you are 100% correct that owning and using gold is the only way to go.

            But an insurance policy against a SHTF scenario is only one consideration when choosing how much of what kind of money to hold. We don’t wear combat helmets and bulletproof vests every day not because they aren’t essential in case of getting shot at but because of the drag on enjoyment and productivity of life they incur. If S does not HTF during our lifetimes, and electricity, computers, and networks remain functional, then relative to Bitcoin the use of physical gold for distance transactions presents a large, continuously compounding percentage drag on human productivity. Productivity of goods and services useful to human life is the source of wealth that gives all money, gold included, its value in the first place.

            The superior productivity gold enabled when used as money in a historically non-networked environment is exactly what has given gold its high value over history through today. But to insist gold will remain the maximally valued money in a future economy increasingly relying on digital commerce despite no longer providing maximum utility is to expect an effect will continue after the cause has been removed.

            Bitcoin remains in a beta-test, infancy stage, and will be there for some time yet. I’m an enthusiastic owner of and advocate of physical gold. I wouldn’t dream of knocking gold or advocacy of holding it and using it for the tremendous advantages it offers over FRNs. But I think it only benefits free market money advocates’ sacred mission to dispel emotion-fueled faith in authoritarian monies to dispassionately discuss the root principles behind what money is and why. Faith-based belief in gold is as bad as faith-based belief in Bitcoin is as bad as faith-based belief in FRNs.

          • Sure gold is more handy than BTC if the word comes to an end, but then again I’m thinking that small arms ammo and food make gold a paperweight in these times also.

          • Coralyn Herenschrict | September 26, 2016 at 3:19 pm |

            I think you’re thinking of barter which would probably prevail for a period of days or weeks at most until a consensus re-formed around what the new money would be.

            Small arms ammo and food are exactly the sort of commodity money that make for very dysfunctional money. If they came to be used as money regardless, I predict it wouldn’t be long at all before people dropped them for something better, promptly moving right back to gold which has won that contest repeatedly over history for very good reasons.

          • Personally I would never tie my wealth up in bitcoin. It’s way too nebulous for me.
            As Ron Paul said, “If I can’t put it in my pocket, I have some reservations about that.”

          • You do understand that without computers and such that a dollar is simply a piece of paper without any link to anything as all that is also computerized? Don’t you?

  8. As soon as all “money” is in the form of electrons stored on memory devices, the oligarchs will have us all where they want us. By the B#LLS.

  9. What will the vile drug dealers do when the Cessna won’t hold their money?

    Here’s a thought, Einstein Rogoff: They will just make TWO trips. They will convert to diamonds or platinum. They will use bitcoin. They will put the money in the stock market with some of the too big to prosecute corruptocrats, or invest in the Clinton Foundation, which is even more corrupt than they are, for some pay to play scam.

    Incredible the stupidity of the fascist left. Next question!

  10. Harvard is a hotbed of regressive policies for Progressive agenda

  11. I wonder how many of these “experts” are dual citizens? We, as human Goim, are in for a very, very rough ride.

  12. This will only as usual screw the little guy. The banks are drooling to get all that cash from the regular Joe so they can bilk his bank account.

  13. Russian philosopher Fyodor Dostoevsky in the 1800s said, “Money is coined liberty.”
    “Cash” is your PRIVATE PROPERTY. It is the physical representation of your time at work or your intellectual output.
    To ban cash is to steal your PRIVATE PROPERTY.
    Plus it is THE “Mark of the BEAST” since every tiny transaction will be recorded and a FEE skimmed off by the BANKERS, which is why the BANKERS push it.

    • “‘Cash’ is your PRIVATE PROPERTY.”

      sorry, nope. it’s not your money. it doesn’t even belong to the united states government. it belongs to “the fed”, a front for a consortium of private banks. it’s THEIR private property, not yours.

      • His point, if I may ZB, is that cash represents the fruit of an individuals labor, the stored value. Not the paper, but the value.

  14. L. A. McDonough | September 20, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Reply

    This idiot professor needs to get a life and quit trying to meddle in personal affairs of how people should buy and sell. He appears to be a pro Marxist control freak. Bro Steve, gotcha, these idiots will end up expendable. I use all sizes of bills with no issue anywhere in a city large enough for many retailers. It’s cash only when eating out, or in stores with past breaches.

  15. Alleged Comment | September 20, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Reply

    Do not fall for it.

    They want to do this so the REAL criminals can take control.

    Cash is FREEDOM! They know this.

  16. I saw it coming and already took precautions.

  17. South Korea’s largest bill is 20,000 KRW (South Korean Won), about $20. I don’t know how that effects their workings.

  18. The Government is the one that is using American dollars – illegally –

  19. another idiot !!!!!

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