AIER: FedCoin Revisited

A US physical coin, not a digital currency

This article at the American Institute for Economic Research talks about a new push for government-controlled, central bank digital currency to more easily track the income and tax liabilities of end users – FedCoin Revisited.

The Federal Reserve is thinking about issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC). The International Business Times reports that the Fed “would be open to collaborating with private business on the creation of a digital currency but emphasized that they were not yet making any commitments.” Talk of a so-called FedCoin appeared to have quelled. But it is now back in full force.

To some, the idea of a FedCoin seems obvious. They see no reason for the Fed to forego adopting 21st century monetary technology. And, certainly, there are a number of benefits, such as lower transaction costs of electronic transfers and helping to execute instant payments (such as in the FedNow project). However, a CBDC also carries risks that must be weighed against the benefits.

One’s view on FedCoin is often related to his or her view on cash. If she thinks cash is good, she is likely to oppose FedCoin. If he thinks cash is bad, he is likely to see FedCoin as an improvement on the status quo. Indeed, some see the introduction of FedCoin as an important step in the direction of a completely cashless economy.

Advocates of moving towards a cashless economy argue that making all payments electronic would help to fight tax evasion and crime. If the move were required, however, it would harm those preferring to use cash for legal transactions as well.

Many people place a high value on anonymity. For some, it’s personal. They don’t want others to know what they are doing. For some, it’s political. They worry about the degradation of institutions, as private information might be used for political ends. The threat of obtaining and revealing private information might silence opposition and undermine the democratic process.

A cashless economy might also lead to policy changes. In order to foster spending during a recession or an economic downturn, the Fed might tax money demand with negative interest rates. If holding cash is an option, then depositors can withdraw their deposits and avoid the negative interest rate. But, if cash is not an option, then consumers are stuck paying interest on their FedCoin holdings. Since they cannot avoid the negative interest rate, consumers would rather spend their money than see their bank balances go down.

In addition to the issues related to one’s view on cash, FedCoin might also undermine financial intermediation. By offering FedCoin, the central bank might crowd out commercial banks.

A checking account at Bank of America is guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation up to the max of $250,000. An account at the Fed is a liability of the government. If both offer the same payment services, why would one opt for the riskier commercial bank account?

Many will see little cause for concern with depositors having access to safer accounts. But that’s because they don’t think much about banking. Banks attract deposits with payment services and interest payments. They then funnel those funds to productive investment ventures. Financial intermediation makes us more productive, thereby raising the standard of living. As the World Bank reports, private credit to GDP high-income countries is “more than 4 times the average ratio in low-income countries.”

If would-be depositors hold FedCoin instead, the corresponding funds will have to be intermediated by the Fed. At best, the Fed would just auction off funds to private financial institutions. But recent events suggest the Fed might be inclined to allocate credit.

My concerns with FedCoin, and other CBDCs, are admittedly speculative. We don’t know whether the Fed would take steps to eliminate cash or impose negative rates on FedCoin balances. We don’t know how it would go about intermediating funds. But such speculations should make one thing clear: there are risks. At the least, we should develop strong institutional checks before permitting the Fed to plow ahead.

Fr. John Peck: What “No Cash” Actually Means

Dave Ramsey writes about the push for a cashless society and a move to a government-controlled digital currency (as opposed to free/uncontrolled digital currency like Monero, Bitcoin, Ethereum, or many others) and what that means to you in What “No Cash” Actually Means

A cashless society means no cash. Zero. It doesn’t mean mostly cashless and you can still use a ‘wee bit of cash here & there’. Cashless means fully digital, fully traceable, fully controlled. I think those who support a cashless society aren’t fully aware of what they are asking for. A cashless society means:

* If you are struggling with your mortgage on a particular month, you can’t do an odd job to get you through.

* Your child can’t go & help the local farmer to earn a bit of summer cash.

* No more cash slipped into the hands of a child as a good luck charm or from their grandparent when going on holidays.

* No more money in birthday cards.

* No more piggy banks for your child to collect pocket money & to learn about the value of earning.

* No more cash for a rainy day fund or for that something special you have been putting $20 a week away for.

* No more little jobs on the side because your wages barely cover the bills or put food on the table.

* No more charity collections.

* No more selling bits & pieces from your home that you no longer want/need for a bit of cash in return.

* No more cash gifts from relatives or loved ones.

What a cashless society does guarantee:

* Banks have full control of every single penny you own.

* Every transaction you make is recorded.

* All your movements & actions are traceable.

* Access to your money can be blocked at the click of a button when/if banks need ‘clarification’ from you which will take about 3 weeks, a thousand questions answered & five thousand passwords.

* You will have no choice but to declare & be taxed on every dollar in your possession.

* The government WILL decide what you can & cannot purchase.

* If your transactions are deemed in any way questionable, by those who create the questions, your money will be frozen, ‘for your own good’.

Forget about cash being dirty. Stop being so easily led. Cash has been around for a very, very, very long time & it gives you control over how you trade with the world. It gives you independence. I heard a story where a man supposedly contracted Covid because of a $20 bill he had handled. There is the same chance of Covid being on a card as being on cash. If you cannot see how utterly ridiculous this assumption is then there is little hope.

If you are a customer, pay with cash. If you are a shop owner, remove those ridiculous signs that ask people to pay by card. Cash is a legal tender, it is our right to pay with cash. Banks are making it increasingly difficult to lodge cash & that has nothing to do with a virus, nor has this ‘dirty money’ trend.

Please open your eyes. Please stop believing everything you are being told. Almost every single topic in today’s world is tainted with corruption & hidden agendas. Please stop telling me & others like me that we are what’s wrong with the world when you hail the most corrupt members of society as your heroes. Politics & greed is what is wrong with the world; not those who are trying to alert you to the reality in which you are blindly floating along whilst being immobilised by irrational fear. Fear created to keep you doing & believing in exactly what you are complacently doing.

Pay with cash & please say no to a cashless society while you still have the choice.