By Jeff Thomas
Recently, France decided to crack down on those people who make cash payments and withdrawals and who hold small bank accounts. The reason given was, not surprisingly, to “fight terrorism,” the handy catchall justification for any new restriction governments wish to impose on their citizens. French Finance Minister Michel Sapin stated at the time, “[T]errorism feeds on fraud, money laundering, and petty trafficking.”
And so, in future, people in France will not be allowed to make cash payments exceeding €1,000 (down from €3,000). Additionally, cash deposits and withdrawals totaling more than €10,000 per month will be reported to Tracfin—an anti-fraud and money laundering agency.
Currency exchange will also be further restricted. Anyone changing over €1,000 to another currency (down from €8,000) will be required to show an identity card.
Do you need to make a deposit on a car? That might be suspect. Did you just deposit a dividend you received? It might be a payment from a terrorist organisation. Planning a holiday and need some cash? You might need to be investigated for terrorism.
And France is not alone. In the US, federal law requires banks to file a “suspicious activity report” (SAR) on their customers whenever a customer requests a suspicious transaction. (In 2013, 1.6 million SAR’s were submitted.)
As to what may be deemed “suspicious,” it may be any transaction of $5,000 or more, but it may also mean a series of transactions that, together, exceed $5,000.
The reader may be saying to himself, “But that’s just normal, everyday banking business—that means anybody, any time, could be reported.” If so, he would be correct. Essentially, any banking activity the reader conducts could be regarded as suspect.
In Italy, in 2011, Prime Minister Mario Monti began working to end the right of landlords, tradesmen, and small businesses to perform large transactions in cash, which critics say help them evade taxation. In December of that year, his government reduced the maximum allowed cash payment from €2,500 euros to €1,000.
Spain has outlawed cash transactions over €2,500. The justification? “To crack down on the black market and tax evaders.”
In Sweden, the country where the first banknote was created in 1661, the use of cash is being steadily eliminated. Increasingly, expenses are paid and purchases made by cellphone text message, and many banks have stopped handling cash altogether.
Denmark’s central bank, Nationalbanken, has another justification for ending its use of banknotes—producing paper money and coinage is not cost effective.
Israel also seeks to end the use of cash. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff has announced a three-phase plan to “all but do away with cash transactions in Israel.”
Individuals and businesses would initially continue to be allowed to make small cash transactions, but eventually, all transactions would be converted to electronic forms of payment. The justification being used in Israel is that “cash is bad,” because it encourages an underground economy and enables tax evasion.
Across the Atlantic, banks and governments are on a similar campaign. A 2012 law in Mexico bans large cash transactions, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
In August 2014, Uruguay passed the Financial Inclusion Law, which limits cash transactions to US$5,000. In future, all transactions over that amount will be required to be performed electronically. The crying need for such a law? The stated reason was to improve the country’s credit ratings.
The Elimination of Paper Currency
In recent years, in commenting on the inevitability of currency collapse in those countries that are indebted beyond the possibility of repayment, I’ve made the prediction that governments and banks would jointly resort to the elimination of paper currency and replace it with an electronic one.
Some readers have understandably regarded the prediction as “alarmist.” After all, the idea is so farfetched—paper currency may be conceptually flawed, but it’s been around for a long time.
But banks and governments seek total control of money, and this can only be achieved if they possess a monopoly on the flow of money.
If a worldwide system can be implemented in which currency transactions can only take place electronically through banking institutions, the banks will then have total power over the ability of a people to function economically.
But why would any government allow the banks such dictatorial monetary control? The answer is that governments would then realise a long-held, but heretofore impossible dream: to have access to a record of every monetary transaction that takes place for every single individual.
Governments have been both more proactive and bolder than I had anticipated and are simply imposing the restrictions worldwide under the justifications previously stated. As yet, there hasn’t been any backlash, and it may be that people worldwide may simply swallow the pill, not understanding what it means to their economic liberty.
If the public are not treating the new system as serious business, governments most assuredly are. Bankers on both sides of the Atlantic have forcibly become unpaid government spies. If they don’t comply, they can be fined and/or lose their banking charter. Directors can be imprisoned.
The US Justice Department already wants to take this overreach even further. Banks are now being asked to call the authorities whenever something “suspicious” occurs, presumably so that immediate action may be taken.
What we are witnessing is the creation of totalitarian control of your finances. The implication that you may have some sort of terrorist involvement is a smokescreen.
As the above information attests, if for any reason you object to any of these measures, you have already been forewarned—you may be suspected of money laundering, tax evasion, or even terrorism. If you use cash for any reason—to pay your rent, to buy a used car, or (soon) to pay for your lunch—you may trigger an investigation. (The onus of proof that you are not guilty good will be on you.)
The take-away from this discussion? Totalitarian control of currency is an inevitability, and it will take place sooner rather than later. The only question is whether the reader can retain some control of his wealth. Fortunately, wealth may still be held in land and precious metals, but these are only safe if they’re held outside a country that seeks totalitarian rule over its people.
The ability to retain wealth still exists and, as always, internationalisation remains a key element to its continuation.
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Our all-star panel of experts, with Doug Casey and Peter Schiff, provide low-cost options for international diversification that anyone can implement - including how to safely set up foreign storage for your gold and silver bullion and how to move your savings abroad without triggering invasive reporting requirements. This is a must watch video for any investor and it's completely free. Click here to watch Internationalizing Your Assets right now.
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