Kenneth Rogoff would sharply disagree with Peale, a character in the 1915 novel ‘It Pays to Advertise’, who said that the most beautiful word in the English language is “cash.”
For Rogoff, a distinguished monetary economist (and chess grandmaster) who teaches at Harvard, cash, especially in large denominations, ought to be eliminated.
Rogoff has two main arguments for his proposal; but, before examining them, let us look at exactly what he wishes to do.
In his suggested plan, which “can be adapted and tweaked in many directions,” “All paper currency is gradually phased out, beginning with all notes of $50 and above (or foreign equivalent), then next the $20 bill, leaving only $1, $5, and (perhaps) $10 bills. … The government provides all individuals the option of access to free basic-function debit card/smartphone accounts, either through banks or through a government option. … Regulatory and legal framework aims to discourage other means of making large-scale payments that can be completely hidden from the government. … Government helps facilitate … real-time clearing for most transactions.”
One word reverberates throughout this proposal: “government.”