- April 20, 2016 -
Could negative interest rates be on the horizon? As we discussed in a recent article on this site, a documented “war on cash” has already been initiated in several countries worldwide. In Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the euro zone, central banks are using negative interest rates policy (NIRP) as a primary weapon in trying to force feed stagnant economies into growth. Here in America, Janet Yellen recently said that if circumstances warrant, negative interest rates are “on the table.” Another Federal Reserve governor was quoted last fall as stating “negative interest rates are inevitable in the U.S.” The same thought process is in play at the Bank of England.
Some highly respected central bankers and influential financiers have suggested that negative interest rates should also usher in the abolishment of cash, a topic we recently elaborated on at this site. These supposed intellectuals theorize that by imposing negative interest rates on consumers, depositors will spend their money as opposed to paying a bank to store their cash. These same bankers publicly state that the masses won’t object to negative interest rates because currency in a bank is easier to spend than cash in our electronic world. The truth is more likely that central bankers and federal governments simply want to abolish cash and go to an all-electronic form of currency. Imposing zero or negative interest rates is major step in attaining that end result.
I believe that depositors will not view money in the bank as a convenience because they can spend it more easily. Much of the world is cash-poor already and they won’t give up their cash for a perceived convenience. The public will ultimately find alternatives to avoid paying a fee, in this case negative interest, to a bank that is likely already robbing them with ATM fees, minimum balance fees, etc., etc…
Think about it from your own personal perspective. What would you do if all the banks announced that, at the start of the business day tomorrow, all your deposits are now subject to various fees and charges equating to negative interest rates? From now on you will essentially pay the bank to warehouse your money, much like some individuals pay the local self-storage facility to warehouse boxes of their junk.
Are you really willing to pay your bank to store your money? I doubt it. Since this is an arrangement never envisioned or experienced in the history of America, bank customers will likely yank their cash out of the bank, assuming the cash is actually there. They will store it at home or move it into assets that will hopefully maintain its value such as collectibles, gift cards, cashier’s checks and of course precious metals.
This is not a hypothetical essay on eliminating cash. Negative interest rates and cash elimination are under serious discussion by central bankers and influential politicians worldwide. There are several European consumer banks already committed to imposing negative interest rates on depositors this year.
If there ever was a message that makes a clear-cut argument for buying gold and silver, this is it. In a world where your bank deposits effectively lose money annually, the 0% interest that gold earns annually suddenly doesn’t look so bad. If negative interest rates are the next stage of the global financial crisis, gold and silver may become one of the only forms of money to protect you.
By Douglas Trinder, Precious Metals Analyst, Jack Hunt Gold & Silver
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