Cooking the Books: Cashless is Not Moneyless

‘WE DON’T NEED CASH. LET’S ABOLISH IT OUTRIGHT’ was the perhaps surprising headline of an article in the Times (24 March) by Ed Conway, the economics editor of Sky News. His argument was that the continuing use of cash is negating the policy of governments and central banks of trying to control the economy by varying interest rates.

The theory behind this policy is that if interest rates go up people will be encouraged to save, and ‘if a recession strikes, down go interest rates, and, in theory, everyone goes out and spends.’ Leaving aside the fact that this mistakenly assumes that an economic recovery can be consumer-led whereas it has to be profit-led, interest rates are now so low that this theory, even on its own assumptions, is not working.