Yesterday we outlined that Central Banks’ War on Cash is about to go into Hyperdrive.
Today we’re discussing just the policies Central Banks are already working to implement to eviscerate savings.
Globally, over 50% of Government bonds currently yield 1% or less. These are bonds that are negative in real terms meaning they are trailing well below the rate of inflation.
Even more astounding is the fact that over $7 trillion in debt currently have negative yields in nominal terms, meaning the bond literally has a negative yield when it trades.
This means that when an investor buys these bonds, he or she pays the Government for the right to own. There is NO rate of return; by buying these bonds you are literally incinerating your capital. Large bond funds that are required to own certain types of bonds have no choice but to lose money.
However, this is just the start.
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Back in 1999, the Fed published a paper suggesting the implementation of a “carry tax” or taxing actual physical cash using an expiration date if depositors aren’t willing to spend the money.
The paper, written 16 years ago, suggested that if the Fed were to find that zero interest rates didn’t induce economic growth, it could try one of three things:
1) Buy assets (QE)
2) Money transfers (literally HAND OUT money through various vehicles)
3) A carry tax (meaning tax the value of actual physical cash that is taken out of the system)
We’ve already seen six years of ZIRP and $3 trillion in QE. Next up are outright money transfers and a carry tax on physical cash.
What is a “carry tax”?
The idea here is that since it costs relatively little to store physical cash (the cost of buying a safe), the Fed should be permitted to “tax” physical cash to force cash holders to spend it (put it back into the banking system) or invest it.
The way this would work is that the cash would have some kind of magnetic strip that would record the date that it was withdrawn. Whenever the bill was finally deposited in a bank again, the receiving bank would use this data to deduct a certain percentage of the bill’s value as a “tax” for holding it.
For instance, if the rate was 5% per month and you took out a $100 bill for two months and then deposited it, the receiving bank would only register the bill as being worth $90.25 ($100* 0.95=$95 or the first month, and then $95 *0.95= $90.25 for the second month).
It sounds like absolute insanity, but I can assure you that Central Banks take these sorts of proposals very seriously. QE sounded completely insane back in 1999 and we’ve already seen three rounds of it amounting to over $3 trillion.
No one would have believed the Fed could get away with printing $3 trillion for QE in 1999, but it has happened already. And given that it has failed to boost consumer spending/ economic growth, I wouldn’t at all surprised to see the Fed float one of the other ideas in the coming months.
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