Cash-Banning Harvard Professor Slams “Ignorant” Negative-Rate-Naysayers
Not satisified with demands for banning cash in America, Harvard economics professor Ken Rogoff has lashed out at critics of negative interest rates, calling them “ignorant” in their analysis of the unprecedented measures.
As a reminder of Rogoff’s recent proclamations, according to the esteemed ivory tower academic, paper currency lies at the heart of some of today’s most intractable public-finance and monetary problems. As Rogoff explains in The Wall Street Journal, getting rid of most of it – that is, moving to a society where cash is used less frequently and mainly for small transactions – could be a big help.
Rogoff’s begins by stating factoids as facts…
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. There are substitutes for cash—cryptocurrencies, uncut diamonds, gold coins, prepaid cards—but for many kinds of criminal transactions, cash is still king. It delivers absolute anonymity, portability, liquidity and near-universal acceptance. It is no accident that whenever there is a big-time drug bust, the authorities typically find wads of cash.
Cash is also deeply implicated in tax evasion, which costs the federal government some $500 billion a year in revenue. According to the Internal Revenue Service, a lot of the action is concentrated in small cash-intensive businesses, where it is difficult to verify sales and the self-reporting of income. By contrast, businesses that take payments mostly by check, bank card or electronic transfer know that it is much easier for tax authorities to catch them dissembling. Though the data are much thinner for state and local governments, they too surely lose big-time from tax evasion, perhaps as much as $200 billion a year.
Cash also lies at the core of the illegal immigration problem in the U.S. If American employers couldn’t so easily pay illegal workers off the books in cash, the lure of jobs would abate, and the flow of illegal immigrants would shrink drastically. Needless to say, phasing out most cash would be a far more humane and sensible way of discouraging illegal immigration than constructing a giant wall.
So to clarify – Cash (and Donald Trump) are at the center of all of America’s and the world’s ills and therefore – as a PhD who knows best – we must destroy it (for your own good).
And now, as Bloomberg reports, anyone who questions this, or the imposition of negative interest rates (or a tax on cash) by central banks is “ignorant.”
It’s impossible to analyze the effects of the “early experiment” with negative rates because central banks were left to themselves amid a global fiscal retrenchment, Rogoff, a professor at Harvard University, said Wednesday in an interview after speaking at the Skagen Funds annual conference in Oslo.
“I find a lot of what is written by representatives of the financial sector, they’re very hostile to negative rates, to be kind of ignorant,” he said ahead of a tour of Scandinavia, where sub-zero rates first saw the light of day. “They’re talking about their short-term profits, and their short-term interest, but it’s a long-run policy if you do the homework, if you lay the groundwork, it would certainly work very well.”
Those questioning the efficacy of the policy got more rhetorical ammunition this week when a report showed inflation in Denmark, where rates have been negative for almost half a decade, was the lowest in 63 years in 2016.
According to Rogoff, it’s impossible to draw any conclusions because the efforts to restore growth and inflation have been one-sided.
But done “correctly” it can restore “complete control over inflation expectations,” he said.
Of course, if you do not agree with this ‘elite’ Davos-Man, then you probably don’t deserve to vote either.