Cash is King?

Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff wrote about “The Sinister Side of Cash” and what it would be like to do without large denomination bills including the $100, $50 and $20 bills as well as their foreign equivalents. Illicit activities such as trafficking or tax evasion would be more challenging while the preservation of smaller bills would still allow for some degree of anonymity in transactions. Additionally, monetary policy could be more effectively implemented in passing through negative interests across the economy, including depositors, thereby eliminating the zero lower bound.

While Dr. Rogoff lightly references alternative substitutes for storing and transferring values such as diamonds and gold, the rise of cryptocurrencies specifically warrants greater attention unless further regulation is effectuated to limit their expansion. As a regular follower of news surrounding P2P payments and cryptocurrencies, I am confident that private digital currencies will be in vogue by 2030, if not earlier, as the political landscape becomes more fraught across the globe and as monetary policy is led to explore new tools in its pursuit of inflation targets and maximum employment with unknown second-order consequences.

In listening to a recent series on oil by NPR’s Planet Money, I am reminded of the power of human ingenuity in the pursuit of progress and/or self interest — we could live in a world without oil just as we could live in a world without dollar bills, despite some immediate challenges. But until such a world exists, cash is still king.

Thinking Time

There was a recent profile of President Obama by the New York Times on his evenings at the White House, generally spent in solitude and mixed with both work and relaxation. Although not necessarily applicable throughout his presidency, President Obama has been able to carve out pockets of “thinking time” despite holding a job and serving a people who offer limitless distraction. Some of the world’s most productive individuals and organizations attribute this “thinking time” to their success.

I try to do that in my mornings. Getting up early is not always easy nor invited, but having the time to hear and organize my own thoughts for the days, weeks and months ahead is calming and productive. It’s a worthwhile investment of a resource for which is equally limited and distributed. I highly recommend it.

Next Job

I’ll still be at Bank of America, but I’ll be starting my next role in Corporate Treasury Finance. Here’s to new opportunities.

CFA

Taking the CFA a week from today. Wish me luck!

Sophie


She’s nine weeks old and she already knows “Sit.”

Isn’t she adorable?

Digital Gold

I just finished reading Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper. It’s a great primer on the story behind Bitcoin. 

Next on the list is a new draft textbook soon to be published by Princeton University. However, if you’re interested in learning about Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology in a lecture format, check out their course on Coursera.