Here's How A Cashless Society Would Affect Day-To-Day Life
by Tyler Durden
Tue, 08/25/2020 - 22:05
Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,
Have you ever thought about the ramifications of a cashless society? I’m talking about the real, first-person effects, not some ephemeral conspiracy theory or possible biblical prophecy. This is bad news for a lot of reasons, not the least of which are the ways it would affect day-to-day life.
Here’s my definition of a cashless society, so we’re all singing from the same songbook:
Cash would no longer be legal tender, therefore you could not make purchases with it, pay bills with it, or spend it in any way. You would not be able to deposit cash into your bank account so you wouldn’t be able to accept cash for an exchange of goods or services.
Therefore, cash would be nothing more than a worthless piece of paper. (I know, I know. Debt-based currency is a totally different article though.)
We’re heading this way.
Jose recently wrote that Venezuela is rapidly becoming cashless and here in the United States a concerning early sign is that there is a “change shortage” which is causing many stores to give you your change on a store loyalty card or invite you to donate that change to some cause.
GiftsThink of all the times that cash is an appropriate gift. I’ve always given money, like stuffing a child’s birthday card with a $20 bill or giving a new graduate some cash to put toward college expenses. When I got married, we received quite a bit of money from various loved ones. My dad always gave my daughters some spending money of their own each time we visited and they were surprised and delighted every single time.
However, in a cashless society, there are two problems with this.
First of all, the recipient would not be able to use the cash. He or she would not be able to spend or deposit it.
Secondly, if a monetary gift is given, it would have to be done with a check or electronic transfer. This means that the government (and the Tax Man) would know precisely how much money any person is given. That might not be a big deal for the 7-year-old who got $20 from grandpa, but what about the graduate who raked in a couple thousand in gifts from family members to celebrate his or her accomplishments? At what point will the government have their hands out for “their fair share?”
Side GigsA lot of folks are really struggling right now with the COVID shutdowns. Jobs have been lost, hours have been cut, and financial problems abound. One of the ways that these people are making ends meet is with side gigs. Folks are cutting grass, cleaning houses, driving for Uber, delivering food, babysitting – they’re coming up with all sorts of ways to make some extra money. A huge percentage of these people are being paid in cash.
But if suddenly you can no longer spend your cash, you’d need to be paid electronically. How many people who don’t already have a business have a merchant account for taking credit or debit cards? There are options like Paypal and Venmo, which take a percentage fee, but they’re going to have to figure out something.
And then, as above, every single bit of this side gig money is traceable and trackable. This could quickly turn your 20 bucks from lawn mowing into $15 after taxes.
Selling Secondhand GoodsRaise your hand if you’ve ever sold something to pay a bill. Me too! I’ve sold jewelry, furniture, exercise equipment – all sorts of stuff to meet an obligation when in a pinch. Not only that, but I have a yard sale every single year to downsize the things that I found I don’t really use, which often brings in a few hundred dollars.
How will this work in a cashless society? Well, if you are selling just one larger item, you’d probably end up using some kind of payment app like Venmo or Paypal. On the other hand, a yard sale would be nearly impossible to conduct electronically. Who is really going to be able to sit there and do Paypal transactions all day, especially when folks are buying things that cost 25 cents?
And there we are, down another way of making some quick money.
TipsLots of folks who work in food service and the beauty industry, just to name two niches, depend on tips to make a living. Generally, tips are collected from tables or paid out at the end of the shift if they were put on a debit card. But…once there is no cash, these tips will have to end up going on a regular paycheck. One hundred percent of this money will be subject to payroll withholdings.
This will mean that a lot of people see a sharp decrease in their earnings, plus they’ll have to wait for their checks to get the money. It puts a lot of power into the hands of the management and it would not be difficult at all for someone to manipulate the amounts the workers have earned.
ChildrenI’ve written many times about the importance of allowing children to handle their own money. It teaches them responsibility and life skills that will serve them well in the future. (Learn more about talking to your kids about money in this article.) My daughters have had access to money since they were in kindergarten, and possibly before.
Now, how are you going to give a five-year-old access to money if it’s all electronic? Are they going to end up with their own bank accounts and debit cards? That hardly seems realistic. There is also the option of gift cards, but that means the money can only be spent at certain places, taking away the vital learning curve of saving your money to put it toward a Big Goal. Forget lemonade stands, gifts from Grandpa, or putting change in a piggy bank – these will all be things of the past.
The unbanked or underbankedEight million households in the United States are “underbanked” or “unbanked.” This means that they don’t have any kind of bank account due to fees, bad credit, or other obstacles. These people rely on check-cashing businesses that already take a hefty fee to give them the pay they’ve earned. What will they do when this is no longer an option?
Most of the people who are unbanked or underbanked are living under the poverty line already. This would mean that they can no longer pick up side-gigs to make ends meet, they can’t do odd jobs, and getting them any kind of assistance will be more difficult.
Slate reports how the coin shortage is affecting these Americans:
To the average American, this shortage may only cause minor headaches—a harder time paying at a parking meter or exact change required at a coffee shop. But some 8 million American households, or 6 percent of Americans, are “unbanked,” meaning that because of fees and other financial hurdles, they have no checking, savings, or money market account. Many rely instead on services such as money orders, pawn shop loans, or payday loans. According to Venky Shankar, a marketing professor at the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University, Americans who make $25,000 a year or less use cash for around 45 percent of their purchases. So those Americans might struggle to pay for essential services without change on hand. They also might find it more stressful to round up or donate their change, should stores ask for it. “For an unbanked or underbanked person, it could leave them in a horrible situation if they don’t have access to the cards,” saidAngela Lyons, a professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (source)
And this is just a coin shortage. Imagine how difficult it would be if our society became completely cashless.
So, we can see this isn’t an ideal situation for any of us.But even these things are relatively minor in comparison to the potential for abuse against citizens in a cashless society. If every single dime you bring in is tracked and recorded, you will have no financial privacy, and you’ll also be at far more risk. Many of us keep some cash savings around the house for emergencies. Even if there is a bank holiday, we’ll be okay because we have the money sitting around to take care of any incidentals while we are unable to access our banked money.
But what happens when things are cashless? All that money we’ve stashed away over the years would have to go into the coffers and we’d lose a certain amount of control.
It’s all well and good when times are okay, but what happens when there’s a Cyprus-style event and the government decides a bail-in is in order? If you don’t recall, back in 2013, billions of dollars were seized from depositors to protect the small country’s banking system. This was done to make good on an $11.6 billion dollar debt owed to creditors outside the country.
If you think that sounds far-fetched – like something that could “never happen here,” it’s incredibly important to note that we already have language that allows for bail-ins here in the United States. After the bailouts for the economic crisis of 2008, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Act of January 2010, which prohibits government bailouts but allows bail-ins. So, yes, the money in your account could indeed be used to save a floundering bank.
Not only that, but think about the outrageous phenomenon of civil asset forfeiture. If you aren’t familiar with it, that means that an entity can seize your property or money even when you have not been convicted of a crime. Civil asset forfeiture provides billions of dollars to the US Government and local police departments every single year. Imagine how much easier that would be if your wealth was all in one place.
And let me take it just one step further before I take off the tinfoil – think about how many websites, YouTube channels, and social media accounts have been purged and demonetized over the past few years. Is it that much of a stretch of the imagination that this could be taken a step further?
That perhaps unpopular opinions could be fined and money immediately be withdrawn from the accounts of those who dissent with the status quo?
Maybe I’m just another paranoid conspiracy theorist. But are you actually paranoid when “they” are really out to control you?
The Quiet American Reset
ZeroHedge.com Tue, 08/25/2020 - 00:05
Authored by Alastair Crooke via The Strategic Culture Foundation,
The great de-coupling is here. The U.S. now has plan a to purge Chinese tech companies fully from America’s internet, creating what the Trump administration has dubbed the Clean Network. It mirrors the White House’s existing 5G Clean Path initiative to remove all Chinese components from systems ‘everywhere’, and which now extends it to everything tech on the ‘net.
China fears a financial ‘Iron Curtain’ is about to fall – a complete expulsion from the dollar sphere. In fact, soft capital control is already birthing, with Bloomberg reporting that the U.S. is now asking colleges and universities to divest from Chinese holdings in their endowments, “warning schools in a letter this last week, to get ahead of potentially more onerous measures [coming] on those holding the shares”.
Reportedly, the Chinese leadership annual August Beidaihe retreat, agreed (should the recommendations be subsequently endorsed at the Central Committee plenum in October) that China should prepare for war; build food and energy reserves; establish the Eurasian continental economic system, recover its overseas gold and broaden the global RMB settlement system (including its digital Yuan) – and prepare for the complete interruption of relations with the U.S.
Yet, whilst the media focus is all on this ‘tech’ and ‘sphere’ de-coupling, something profound – and quite separate – is already shaping the global monetary order (quite apart from likely Chinese exclusion).
It is set, in the longer term, to be more revolutionary – and contentious – than even ‘de-coupling’. It is getting sparse attention.
However, as it becomes ever more evident that no ‘V’ shaped economic rebound will be arriving soon – as the U.S. ‘house’ catches fire again with Coronavirus over the autumn and winter, presaging a further economic closedown – the chances are that this bombshell will indeed ignite.
First, a little background:
Earlier this month, Zero Hedge published a remarkable interview with two former Fed economists – Simon Potter (who was also the former head of the Fed’s Plunge Protection Team for many years) and Julia Coronado – both of whom have tremendous impact on thinking at the Fed.
They hinted at the Fed’s ‘last ditch’ stimulus and bailout strategy (i.e. should the U.S. economy be further stalled by Coronavirus): It is ‘to wire’ digital money directly into Americans’ smartphone financial apps, bypassing the banking system entirely.
“The two propose creating a monetary tool that they call ‘recession insurance bonds’, which draw on some of the advances in digital payments and ‘wired’ instantly to Americans”:
“As Coronado explains the details, Congress would grant the Federal Reserve an additional tool for providing support — say, a percent of GDP [in a lump sum that would be divided equally and distributed] to households in a recession. Recession insurance bonds would be zero-coupon securities, a contingent asset of households that would basically lie in wait. The trigger could be reaching the zero lower bound on interest rates or, as economist Claudia Sahm has proposed, a 0.5 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate. The Fed would then activate the securities and deposit the funds digitally in households’ apps.
“As Potter then elucidates: “it took Congress too long to get money to people, and it’s too clunky. We need a separate infrastructure. The Fed could buy the bonds quickly without going to the private market. On March 15 they could have said interest rates are now at zero, we’re activating X amount of the bonds, and we’ll be tracking the unemployment rate—if it increases above this level, we’ll buy more. The bonds will be on the asset side of the Fed’s balance sheet; the digital dollars in people’s accounts will be on the liability side.””
Then, just days later, Federal Reserve Governor, Lael Brainard, hinted once again at the coming monetary revolution:
“To enhance understanding of digital currencies, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is collaborating with researchers at MIT, in a multi-year effort to build and test a hypothetical digital currency oriented to central bank uses … It is important to understand how the existing provisions of the Federal Reserve Act with regard to currency issuance apply to a CBDC and whether a CBDC would have legal tender status, depending on the design”.
So what would prompt the Fed to pursue “this significant policy process”? Why – another leg down, resulting from an upsurge in Covid-19, of course. The last bailout was not just “clunky”, it sent stocks and bonds soaring skyward. And has severed asset prices from any connection to metrics of value, from fundamentals, and from analysis (and did do not much either for ordinary Americans). What we now have, therefore, is a market focussed only on narratives, and not on reality. This has implications, too.
The prospect of the Fed ‘printing’ digital dollars, wired to peoples’ cash-pay apps, as a new stimulus mechanism – replete with the overtones of a ‘Davos Reset’ formula for moving toward a digital, global Universal Basic Income model is obvious – as is the political temptation for politicos to pay for all sorts of political ‘projects’ in this way.
Yet this is only a half of the ‘Revolution’ – two other components are already ‘done’.
Two tipping-points have been passed.
So, let’s try putting all this into some sort of order:
Firstly, America has already started down the path towards a nationalised (centrally-managed) economy – rather like China’s. The Treasury and Blackrock Hedge Fund, (who manage the Congressional bails out distribution on behalf of the Treasury), now make the (economic) life-or-death decisions for U.S. businesses – from the very big, down to the very small.
This is a ‘great reset’. And like most temporary measures, it is likely here to stay. What’s not to like from the U.S. President’s point of view? He controls ‘money’ issuance now that the Treasury and Fed effectively are fused together, and can ‘steer’ the U.S. economy in a ‘national-interest’ direction during its tech war with China (and Europe). Free markets? They do not exist in America at this point.
Secondly, this financial war is already underway, and China will likely use its CIPS (financial clearing system) and its Central Bank initiated digital yuan (already in use) to circumvent SWIFT and the USD. Except this will mean others being paid in a non-fungible digital currency that can only be recirculated back to China for its goods. Or, maybe not? Like China’s Shanghai oil futures market, foreign sellers may be given the option to hold their sale proceeds either in Chinese debt instruments, or, to exit their Yuan via the physical gold market.
But, apart from U.S. and China, Russia, Italy, Iran and UK are, amongst others, planning their own CBDCs. Are we moving then – in an era of enhanced financial war – towards multiple, non or quasi, fungible digitalized of means of payment, as the new normal?
Third, the world again is demanding gold in exchange for U.S. dollars. And the Fed’s primary dealers – some of which operate as bullion banks — seem unable to comply. But with the advent of the Coronavirus, the U.S. financial system has been forced to lower real interest rates down into negative territory, causing gold to look more attractive than holding devaluing U.S. Treasuries.
Traditionally, the Fed controls the gold market to prevent gold from effectively competing with, or displacing, the U.S. dollar as the primordial monetary instrument. But someone, or some entity somewhere, is now battling the U.S. central bank for that control. In short, the Fed’s manipulation process presently is failing. And unless the Fed can suppress the price of gold, and regain control, we may see an escalating, downward spiral in the value of the dollar vis à vis gold.
Here – finally – we come to the crux. In outlining the monetary ‘revolution’ taking place in the U.S., there is much in it for the Wall Street ‘Davos’ contingent to like: the move from traditional money into digital; Central Banks issuing digital money (though the ‘Davos’ crowd would prefer that to be done by a global authority); the end of cash; and the system-control and transparency that digitisation would allow. Some of this – such as the political instrumentalisation of smartphone apps – have been given a push by the Coronavirus.
But the U.S. Establishment is deeply split: Yes, there is a powerful, Wall Street, globalist component who support Davos, but others in the Deep State, including some amongst the neo-cons, would rather die-in-a-ditch than see U.S. dollar hegemony lost – amidst the undoubted exigencies of the present economic recession. These tend to be Trump supporters.
So let us put the final pieces into place: U.S. asset markets are presently unhinged from all fundamentals, and ruled by a ‘don’t fight the narrative’, and existential fear of potentially ‘missing out’. In other words, the un-anchored stock market highs – on which Trump’s re-election hopes are pinned – are highly vulnerable. Sentiment can shift in the flash of an eyelid from an adrenalin-fuelled ‘fight’ mode, to ‘flight’. All that is needed is a changed narrative.
And what narrative might that be? Well, the ‘Sage’ of Omaha, Warren Buffet, this week dropped a very unexpected narrative: Not known as a ‘gold bug’, he was shown to have dumped stocks and bought gold, and gold-miners.
So, who next for sparking the October market sell off, as the dollar continues to spiral downwards, and interest rates edge upwards?
Mr Soros may be smiling?
Food Bank Strains Emerge As Economy Falls Off Fiscal Cliff
by Tyler Durden
Tue, 08/11/2020 - 22:25
The latest economic data suggest the US recovery stalled. One look at the Citi US econ surprise index, as of this week, shows the recovery ran out of steam last month. A fiscal cliff is already underway, set to enter the second week on Friday (Aug. 14) as tens of millions of Americans are unemployed and have yet to receive their stimulus checks.
The recovery, so far, is a massive economic sugar rush, entirely a function of the Trump administration on a reckless spending spree. One way the administration can artificially supercharge consumption is through issuing direct transfer payments to the working poor. The extra money has been used by households to pay down credit card bills, put food on the table, and pay housing expenses, while others used the free money to buy automobiles and FANG stocks.
President Trump signed an executive order over the weekend to fund another round of stimulus checks of approximately $400 per week, a reduction from the $600 federal aid seen in the first round from March to the end of July.
Massive federal spending has transformed America into a welfare state under the GOP watch. Tea Party politicians aren't pleased with the Republican establishment's wild spending spree.
With a fiscal cliff coming up on the second week, tens of millions of folks are unable to consume because they are insolvent and jobless, and their amount of consumption is dependent on the government. We've noted before, a quarter of all household income is derived from the government. And with no stimulus checks in the mail, that means Americans are returning to food banks:
Claudia Raymer, who manages a network of food-security groups in Ohio County, West Virginia, told Bloomberg when stimulus checks stopped arriving in late July, there was an immediate impact on households, resulting in rising food bank activity among the working poor.
The fiscal cliff will be more damaging in lower-income communities (than major metros), such as small towns in West Virginia, where folks were being paid handsomely by the federal government to sit at home. The problem is, once the payments end, consumption plunges, and the local communities return to a recessionary environment. With federal aid already running out for the stimulus program, the fiscal cliff has already been realized in West Virginia:
"We've definitely already seen food-security needs increase, just in a week, since the extra unemployment has ended," Raymer said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday the next round of stimulus checks could take a couple of weeks to distribute, which would suggest households might not receive their stimulus checks until the end of August.
Days before the stimulus program ended (late July), a sizeable food bank line appeared in Baltimore, Maryland.
— Alastair Williamson (@StockBoardAsset) July 26, 2020The economic crisis is far from over. Households are entirely screwed as depressionary unemployment levels will continue into the election. Many folks are dependent on direct transfer payments from the government and food banks for survival. Who would've ever thought this would be the case in the "greatest economy ever."