Sunday, February 21, 2016

Banning cash and they guns they intend to hold against our collective heads

While the "developed world" is only now starting its aggressive push to slowly at first, then very fast ban the use of physical cash as the key gating factor to the global adoption of NIRP (by first eliminating high-denomination bills because they "aid terrorism and spread criminality") one country has long been doing everything in its power to ween its population away from tax-evasive cash as a medium of payment, and into digital transactions: Greece.
The problem, however, is that it has failed.
According to Kathimerini, "Greek businesses are not ready for the expansion of plastic money through the compulsory use of credit and debit cards for everyday transactions."
Unlike in the rest of the world where "the stick" approach will likely to be used, in Greece the government has been more gentle by adopting a "carrot" strategy (for now) when it comes to migrating from cash to digital. The government has told taxpayers that they will have to spend up to a certain amount of their incomes via bank and card transactions in order to qualify for an annual tax-free exemption.
This appears to not be a sufficient incentive however, as a large proportion of stores still don’t have the card terminals, or PoS (Points of Sale), required for card payments, while plastic is accepted by very few doctors, plumbers, electricians, lawyers and others who tend to account for the lion’s share of tax evasion recorded in the country.
Almost as if the local population realizes that what the government is trying to do is to limit at first, then ultimately ban all cash transactions in the twice recently defaulted nation as well. It also realizes that an annual tax-free exemption means still paying taxes; taxes which could be avoided if one only transacted with cash.
For the government this is bad news, as the lack of tracking of every transaction means that the local population will pay far less taxes: a recent study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) showed that increasing the use of cards for everyday transactions could increase state revenues by anything between 700 million and 1.6 billion euros per year, and that the market’s poor preparation means that the tax burden has been passed on to lawful taxpayers. As a reminder, in Greece, the term "lawful taxpayers" is not quite the same as in most other countries.
What is more surprising is that according to data seen by Kathimerini, PoS terminals in Greece amount to just 220,000, and that despite the fact these were effectively forced on enterprises with the imposition of the capital controls, an estimated half of all businesses do not have card terminals.
Almost as if the Greeks would rather maintain capital controls than be forced into a digital currency by their Brussles overlords.
According to Finance Ministry calculations , the number of terminals the market requires for a satisfactory geographical coverage in the basic categories of small enterprises and of the self-employed to 450,000-500,000, which appears impossible for 2016.
As for consumers, the increase in the number of debit cards after the government imposed the capital controls has brought their total to 1.7 million across Greece.
And yet, despite the aggressive push to force everyone out of physical cash and into digital money, the experiment has so far failed. How long until the IMF, Troika, or Quadriga or whatever it is called these days, uses Greece as the Guniea Pig for the next monetary experiment, and "advises" the Syriza government that if it wants the bailout money to flow, it will have to do away with all physical cash within its borders. A successful implementation, first in Greece, would then mean that the global decashification process can continue in other western nations.

ECB Headquarter
Capital Control by gun, taxation, imprisonment
The European Central Bank has shed some more light on its operations in 2015, the year wherein it decided to forget about the free market economy as the bank has become one of the main market participants now.
The Central Bank’s net income from the asset purchase program increased from 2M EUR to 161M EUR, and the asset purchase program was responsible for the 9.4%  increase in the net profit of the bank. Indeed, the ECB has made a very handsome profit of almost 1.1 billion Euro, which was distributed amongst the national central banks in the Eurosystem.
ECB Balance sheet size
Removing any outs from a beast controlled digital system, take your cash.
Source: ECB
What’s more important is the fact the size of the balance sheet of the ECB is increasing again. At a very fast pace! The total value of the balance sheet of the Eurosystem was 2.8T EUR as of at the end of 2015 (which is approximately $3.1 trillion). That’s a substantial increase compared to just 2.4 trillion last year, and there are no signs of seeing the expansion of the balance sheet slowing down as not only will the ECB continue its asset purchases, it’s even considering to expand its monetary easing program by stimulating the markets even more.
At the same time, the war on cash has started, and several officials and market participants have claimed the bank notes of 500 EUR (and even 200 EUR) should be banned, whilst for instance in the USA, Larry Summers wants to get rid of the $100 dollar bill. It’s understandable the governments are getting nervous about the force of people drawing down cash and hoarding their cash (and other assets) outside of the traditional banking system. Perhaps the next chart explains everything in just one powerful image.
ECB Balance sheet Notes
Too many withdrawals by people who can read the writing on the wall
The total amount of bank notes has increased by 57% since the end of the global financial crisis, and this really is an indication the European citizens still don’t trust financial institutions with their assets. It’s truly remarkable to see such a sharp (and steady!) increase of the total amount of bank notes in circulation and it’s totally understandable why this makes the monetary powers ‘nervous’.
Portugal ECB
Source: Santander presentation
On top of that, the situation in for instance Portugal seems to be deteriorating once again. The country has been trying to convince the European Commission and the ECB it knows what it’s doing and that it has a plan to get the country back on the right track, but apparently that’s not what the ECB-team saw in Lisbon. The mainstream media seems to have fully ignored this report, but we feel this could be an important problem as it seems to be just a matter of time before Portugal will need a new bail-out.
While the authorities have committed to comply with European budgetary rules, the effort to reduce the underlying structural budget deficit needs to be significantly increased. […]The adjustment in the underlying structural deficit in 2016 reflects an insufficient consolidation effort. […]Banks continue to consolidate their balance sheets, albeit at a slower pace than previously observed, and have seen minor improvements in profitability. […]high levels of non-performing exposures continue to weigh negatively on profitability and capital.
This doesn’t really make us feel comfortable at all, and as the European economy still isn’t improving, Portugal might have to beg the institutions for more cash.