Friday, January 13, 2017

Washington Behind India's Brutal Ban on Cash



washingtonsblog |  The business interests of the U.S. companies that dominate the global IT business and payment systems are an important reason for the zeal of the U.S. government in its push to reduce cash use worldwide, but it is not the only one and might not be the most important one. Another motive is surveillance power that goes with increased use of digital payment. U.S. intelligence organizations and IT companies together can survey all international payments done through banks and can monitor most of the general stream of digital data.  Financial data tends to be the most important and valuable.

Even more importantly, the status of the dollar as the world’s currency of reference and the dominance of U.S. companies in international finance provide the US government with tremendous power over all participants in the formal non-cash financial system. It can make everybody conform to American law rather than to their local or international rules. German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has recently run a chilling story describing how that works (German). Employees of a German factoring firm doing completely legal business with Iran were put on a US terror list, which meant that they were shut off most of the financial system and even some logistics companies would not transport their furniture any more. A major German bank was forced to fire several employees upon U.S. request, who had not done anything improper or unlawful.

There are many more such examples. Every internationally active bank can be blackmailed by the U.S. government into following their orders, since revoking their license to do business in the U.S. or in dollar basically amounts to shutting them down. Just think about Deutsche Bank, which had to negotiate with the US Treasury for months whether they would have to pay a fine of 14 billion dollars and most likely go broke, or get away with seven billion and survive. If you have the power to bankrupt the largest banks even of large countries, you have power over their governments, too. This power through dominance over the financial system and the associated data is already there. The less cash there is in use, the more extensive and secure it is, as the use of cash is a major avenue for evading this power.