Why We’re Headed Toward a “Cashless Society”
The Dow is back under 18,000 points after yesterday’s 178-point – or 1% – drop.
Gold continues to wander around, apparently lost. More on that below…
Our long-term stock market indicator, developed for us by our chief researcher and former ValueLine stock market analyst Stephen Jones, is flashing a warning.
As we explained in the May 7 issue of Diary, it looks at the price of stocks relative to the economy that supports them.
And right now, it tells us to expect an average annual loss of 9.6%, after you account for inflation, over the next 10 years.
Don’t Count on Your ATM Cards
Will this indicator be proven correct?
We will wait to find out…
Yesterday, came a report that the prime minister of Poland, Ewa Kopacz, has urged Poles traveling to Greece to take “a larger amount of cash” with them.
Because the situation could be “very dynamic,” she says.
“Please do not count only on your ATM cards and on ATMs, but take a larger amount of cash with you.”
It’s not the dynamic situation that would worry us. It’s the dynamite that lies beneath the whole world’s money system.
It is a system that is fundamentally flawed. It depends on the intelligence and integrity of its custodians. Not that we think Madame Yellen is dumb. Nor do we doubt her honesty.
But she is, after all, only human.
And centrally planning an $18 trillion economy – by manipulating asset prices and interest rates – is a super-human undertaking.
The odds that something will go wrong?
Controls on Cash
A reader asks a good question:
I have a question about the recommendation to hold cash.
If countries are putting controls on real cash and banking, in what form should a person hold cash? U.S. dollars or some other currency. If we truly go to a “cashless society” what good would having a hoard of cash do?
We would like to have a better answer, but we only have the one we have.
Money is always a convention. It is an understanding. People recognize money as a stand-in for wealth.
Since the beginning of civilization, people have experimented with different kinds of money. They ended up – almost always and almost everywhere – with gold and silver.
Because they were handy. And because they were hard to produce. They were cash that governments could not easily control. No super-humans were needed to manage them.
Governments – the people who are able to boss other people around – always want to control money. They put their faces on it. They mint it. They clip coins. And they print pieces of paper and call it money.
But they could never completely control cash. People hoarded gold. They hid it. They ran away with it. They used it to make trades between themselves… regardless of what the feds said. And when the feds’ money went kaput – which it always did – they turned back to gold, because they knew they could trust it.
And now, the feds are making a new attempt to bring money totally under their control.
For example, under the pretext of cutting funding for terrorists, the French government already has a law in the pipeline banning cash transactions of over €1,000 ($1,120).
There’s nothing stopping governments from banning cash transactions altogether… and ending the usage of paper money.
Economists pretend it is a matter of convenience to the consumer (no more waiting for the clerk to make change for the fellow in front of you).
…or they try to sell it as a useful macro tool for central planners (they will be able to stimulate demand by imposing negative interest rates)…
…or they say a cashless world will be safer – you won’t be held up at gunpoint, and terrorists will find it harder to get financing.
But the real reason is control. If governments can eliminate cash, they can easily track, tax, and confiscate your money.
When You Need a Stash of Cash
And if the feds can control your money, they will be able to control you.
Do you voice an opinion they don’t want to hear? Do you belong to a group they want to get rid of? Do you want to know what happened to your tax money?
Watch out… With a keystroke, you could be “disappeared.”
“Sometimes, when the government tells you to do something, it’s best to do the opposite,” says a French neighbor.
In 1944, her father was the adjutant mayor of a small town in southwestern France. The Allies had landed in Normandy and the Germans were pulling their forces back to the Rhine.
Our friend tells the story:
Someone had blown up a German truck as it went through town. People were doing that. Taking pot shots at the Germans. The SS didn’t like it. They would gather up the mayor and a few other people. If they didn’t turn over the guilty person, they would kill the mayor. Or sometimes the whole town.
My father got a message that told him he was supposed to go to the town square. Instead, he went into the woods. It’s a good thing he did. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.
When do you need a stash of cash? When the feds try to outlaw it.
Hold some dollars. And some gold.
We realize that our answer to the reader’s question is insufficient. After all, what good will cash be after it is declared illegal?
We’re not sure. Maybe we’ve spent too much time in Argentina, where people have more supple and more subtle attitudes to monetary regulations.
Trading pesos for dollars, on the black market, is illegal. Do it and they take you for a scofflaw. Don’t do it and they take you for a fool.
More to come on this in future updates. Stay tuned…
Commodities Are in a Sideways Market
Commodity prices are going nowhere…
The Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB Index tracks prices of 19 of the most commonly traded commodities in the world.
These include aluminum, cocoa, coffee, copper, gold, oil, soybeans, sugar, and wheat.
And since the start of the year, it’s been stuck in sideways trend.
The CRB Index is in neither an uptrend nor a downtrend. Neither the bulls nor the bears are in command.
But these periods of sideways drift don’t last forever. Eventually, a new trend will be established – either up or down.
In the meantime, it’s going to be a frustrating time for commodities investors.
And gold – which tends to move alongside commodities – could continue, as Bill puts it, to “wander around, apparently lost.”
Going back to 1994, when the CRB Index was launched, gold and commodities have tended to move in the same direction.
The two have what Wall Street-types call a “positive correlation” of 0.62.
A correlation of 1 means the two move in perfect lockstep. A correlation of 0 means the two move randomly in relation to one another.
P.S. It may sound strange… but there’s a way to profit from commodities whichever way prices head next.
You almost never see average investors making trades like this, because they don’t know how. But traders at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Deutsche Bank do it all the time.
According to oil expert Dr. Kent Moors, you could walk away with $96,365 on this single trade. And that’s just one projection. Dr. Moors says this trade could easily go as high as $114,000.