The War On Cash – COVID Edition Part I

Claudio Grass

The corona crisis has already taken a very high toll and caused deep damage in our societies and our economies, the extent of which is yet to become apparent. We have seen its impact on productivity, on unemployment, on social cohesion and on political division. However, there is another very worrying trend that has been accelerated under the veil of fear and confusion that the pandemic has spread. The war on cash, that was already underway for almost a decade, has been drastically intensified over the last few months. Over the last years, and as the war on cash escalated, we’ve gotten used to hear certain arguments or “reasons” on why we should all abandon paper money and move en masse to an exclusively digital economy. These talking points have been repeated over and over, in most western economies and by countless institutional figures. “Cash is used by terrorists, money launderers and criminals” is arguably the most oft-repeated one, as it’s been widely employed in most debates about the digital transition. Just a couple of years ago, it was also used by Mario Draghi, to support the decision to scrap the 500 euro note. We didn’t get any specific information or data about how many terrorists were actually using this high-denomination note, but we do know a lot of law-abiding citizens were using it to save, as did small business owners for their operational liquidity needs.

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