The war on cash is a growing collection of laws and banking regulations that discourage or prevent citizens from doing business in physical currency. Last month, we reported on new laws in France that will limit the size of cash transactions. On a smaller scale, the state of Louisiana has recently made it illegal to use cash when transacting secondhand goods. For years now, American banks have been required to file “Suspicious Activity Reports” when cash transactions or withdrawals of more than $5,000 occur.
According to lawmakers, these regulations ostensibly ensure that business transactions are properly reported and taxed. They don’t want any potential tax revenue slipping through the cracks. They tell the public that these laws will help to prevent white collar crime, organized crime, and terrorism.
However, the privacy of financial transactions is simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the war on cash.
Yesterday a British stock trader was arrested on criminal fraud charges for stock market manipulation. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the United States Department of Justice accused Navinder Singh Sarao of single-handedly triggering the “flash crash” of May 2010. During this crash, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged about 600 points in just minutes, representing a loss of almost $1 trillion in market value.
According to Bloomberg Intelligence, China’s gold bullion reserves may have tripled since its last official report in 2009. Bloomberg estimates that the People’s Bank of China could now own as much as 3,510 metric tons of the metal. If true, China now has the second largest store of gold in the world, following the United States with 8,133 tons.
While there has been a lot of speculation in the past few years that the Chinese government has been stockpiling more gold, this is the first mainstream American news source that we have seen seriously look into the possibility. Bloomberg reached its estimate by analyzing China Gold Association data, as well as domestic production and trade figures.
Why this sudden attention to China’s gold hoard?
Many global banks and precious metals analysts are now forecasting that gold has seen its bottom and will be moving higher in the coming years. The timeframe varies from institution to institution, but the consensus seems to be that the price of gold in dollars will rise significantly after 2015. Very few expect it to move dramatically lower this year.
The German Commerzbank published the results of a commodity survey at the beginning of April, showing overwhelming bullishness for precious metals in the long-term. For investment bankers, “long-term” means next year. For investors interested in buying physical gold, that means they should make plans for investing in bullion very soon.
In a report ironically titled “A Better Monetary System for Iceland,” government officials in the small North Atlantic nation are considering a policy that would strip commercial banks of the power to increase the money supply through lending. Instead, they would hand all money creation to the central bank – in essence, completely nationalizing the banking sector. If this proposal were to pass, it could restrict credit available for entrepreneurs and politicize who is able to get loans.
Under fractional reserve central banking, commercial banks create money when they offer a line of credit to consumers. When a bank decides to make a loan, it creates a credit in the borrower’s account. This credit is new money in the economy.
The US markets are closed today, but the March jobs numbers were release this morning — 126,000 non-farm payroll jobs were created last month. The forecast was for 245,000 new jobs, so this is a terrible report that falls nearly 50% short of expectations.
Taking into account all the economic data thus far in 2015, it’s no wonder that the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow metric puts 1st quarter GDP growth at 0%.
None of this comes as a surprise to Peter Schiff, who has been predicting this slow descent into another recession for some time. His podcast from earlier this week reviews the latest awful economic data and predicts the poor jobs numbers that we saw this morning.
A new report from Goldman Sachs warns that mineable reserves of rare commodities like gold may dwindle to extreme scarcity within two decades. This means that easily-mined gold is getting harder and harder to find. With less gold being pulled out of the earth, less gold is being refined and produced for consumers. In fact, 2015 may prove to be the peak year for gold production.
Gold Prices Could Skyrocket as Asian Demand Increases
Bloomberg – Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. published a report predicting that gold demand in Asia will double by 2030. The price of gold could increase to up to $2,400 in the same time frame to keep up with demand. As incomes in India and China rise, consumers will purchase more jewelry and invest in the commodity. Central banks in these and other countries will also continue to buy gold. The report predicted that if global financial instability continues, the price of gold may reach as high as $3,230.
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In a stunningly despotic move, France has launched severe new restrictions on cash transactions. After September 2015, French residents cannot make cash payments of more than 1,000 euros, down from the current limit of 3,000. Foreign visitors’ cash payments will be capped at 10,000 euros rather than 15,000. Not only that, but any bank withdrawal of more than 10,000 euros per month will be reported to French authorities for good measure.
The claim is that these restrictions will help to fight terrorism. French Minister of Finance Michael Sapin pointed out that the terrorists who killed 17 people at Charlie Hebdo and a Parisian food store partially used cash to finance their attack.
For the fourth month in a row, Gallup found that Americans named the government as the biggest problem in the United States. Jobs and the economy tied for the second-most worrisome problems. Together, these three issues are the top concerns for almost 40% of Americans.
Though issues such as terrorism, healthcare, race relations and immigration have emerged among the top problems in recent polls, government, the economy and unemployment have been the dominant problems listed by Americans for more than a year.”