The world is drowning in cash - and it's making us poorer and less safe. In The Curse of Cash, Kenneth S. Rogoff makes a persuasive and fascinating case for an idea that until recently would have seemed outlandish: getting rid of most paper money.
Even as people in advanced economies are using less paper money, there is more cash in circulation - a record $1.4 trillion in US dollars alone. So what is all that cash being used for? The answer is simple: a large part is feeding tax evasion, corruption, terrorism, the drug trade, human trafficking, and the rest of a massive global underground economy.
As Rogoff shows, paper money can also cripple monetary policy. In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, central banks have been unable to stimulate growth and inflation by cutting interest rates significantly below zero for fear that it would drive investors to abandon treasury bills and stockpile cash.
The Curse of Cash offers a plan for phasing out paper money and addresses the issues the transition will pose, ranging from fears about privacy and price stability to the need to provide subsidized debit cards for the poor.
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- Chris White