From the New York Times bestselling author of This Time Is Different, "a fascinating and important book" (Ben Bernanke) about phasing out most paper money to fight crime and tax evasion—and to battle financial crises by tapping the power of negative interest rates
The world is drowning in cash—and it's making us poorer and less safe. In The Curse of Cash, Kenneth Rogoff, one of the world’s leading economists, 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 U.S. dollars alone, or $4,200 for every American, mostly in $100 bills. And the United States is hardly exceptional. 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. This constraint has paralyzed monetary policy in virtually every advanced economy, and is likely to be a recurring problem in the future.
The Curse of Cash offers a plan for phasing out most paper money—while leaving small-denomination bills and coins in circulation indefinitely—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.
While phasing out the bulk of paper money will hardly solve the world’s problems, it would be a significant step toward addressing a surprising number of very big ones. Provocative, engaging, and backed by compelling original arguments and evidence, The Curse of Cash is certain to spark widespread debate.
Kenneth S. Rogoff, the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (Princeton). He appears frequently in the national media and writes a monthly newspaper column that is syndicated in more than fifty countries. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"In a brilliant and lucid new book, The Curse of Cash, the Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff gives a fascinating and thorough account of the argument against cash."--John Lanchester, New York Times Magazine
"An excellent book on the history and the origins of cash, which also goes into much depth on the issue of cash constraining monetary policy."--Jon Hartley, Forbes.com
"The great accomplishment of his book is that his arguments are convincing. . . . It's clear and coherent, and even if you disagree with him in the end, chances are you'll think a little bit differently about something of which most of us give no thought whatsoever."--Bethany McLean, Washington Post
"[A] fascinating economic manifesto. . . . [The Curse of Cash] is an absorbing exploration of the uses, and misuses, of currency, and its intractability in controlling modern economies."--Publishers Weekly
"Economist Rogoff, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, offers a detailed case for eliminating paper money. . . . For both the elimination of paper money and the employment of negative interest rates to combat deflationary recessions, Rogoff painstakingly presents both the advantages and the drawbacks. . . . Provocative."--Library Journal
"In a witty new book, The Curse of Cash, economist Kenneth Rogoff argues the human race would be better off without paper money. He's onto something."--Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe
"[The Curse of Cash] makes the case for encouraging the U.S. government to drastically scale back on $100 bills in circulation. The book . . . offers a thought-provoking theory for phasing out paper money, not eliminating it."--Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Kenneth S. Rogoff: