Demand for Bank Notes in Dollars & Euros Spikes Despite Fears of Covid-19 Contaminated Cash

A curious phenomenon.

By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET:

In the United States, as coronavirus concerns grew and state after state went into lockdown, and as consumption plunged and unemployment exploded at a previously unimaginable rate, the amount of physical dollars in circulation spiked to $1.89 trillion, as of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet on April 16, having jumped 9.1% compared to a year earlier.

During the darkest days of the Financial Crisis, the demand for U.S. dollar banknotes spiked at year-over-year rates of over 8% for ten straight months and peaked at rate of 11%. But that was nothing compared to what happened during the Y2K craze, when fears that computer systems would malfunction when dates rolled over in the new millennium triggered a mad rush for US dollar banknotes. In December 1999 the total value of dollar bills in circulation spiked by 16.9% from a year earlier, the highest rate since the war-years of the 1940s:

The total value of euro banknotes in circulation in March, as countries across the Eurozone went into Covid-19 triggered lockdowns, increased by €36 billion from February, to €1.31 trillion, according to the ECB. It was the fastest monthly increase since October 2008. And it was up 8.1% from a year earlier. This all happened as consumption in the region slumped to unprecedented levels.

Bank notes denominated in US dollars and euros, the two biggest global reserve currencies, are stashed away in large quantities in other countries with unstable currencies, and they’re used to trade certain types or merchandise on the global black market. The euro is also used as currency in some areas that are not part of the Eurozone. And the dollar is used actively in countries that are either fully or partially dollarized. The Fed has estimated that around 70% of 100 dollar bills, which account for nearly 80% of the total value of U.S. currency, are held abroad.

But what triggered this spike wasn’t sudden demand overseas. The banking system must be able to provide sufficient currency even during spikes in demand at local ATMs and bank branches, and a sudden spike like this is a sign that local people are hoarding cash during times of uncertainty — with empty shelves at supermarkets having spooked people.

What makes the current dash for dollar and euro banknotes particularly interesting is that it is happening at the same time that the use of cash around the world is being heavily demonized for increasing the risk of Covid-19 infection. In early March, in response to a question about whether banknotes could spread the coronavirus, a WHO spokesperson said: “Yes it’s possible and it’s a good question. We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses … when possible it’s a good idea to use contactless payments.”

Around the world, media outlets and long-standing enemies of cash such as credit card companies and fintech start-ups seized on the WHO’s comments and magnified them, sparking fears over the safety of cash.

The WHO has since walked back its comments, arguing that it was not advocating for people to abandon the use of cash but rather that they should wash their hands after handling it, especially before handling or eating food. Central banks have also come out in force to try to dampen public fears about using cash.

But the damage may have already been done. In a report published last week, the Bank for International Settlements noted that “irrespective of whether concerns are justified or not, perceptions that cash could spread pathogens may change payment behaviour by users and firms.” Even in a traditionally cash-loving country like Spain, many retailers are urging people to use other payment methods.

In the UK, where the use of cashless payment cards was already rampant long before the virus crisis began, cash withdrawals at ATMs have fallen sharply in recent weeks (chart via BIS):

Central banks in the U.S., China, South Korea, Hungary, Kuwait and other countries have even begun “quarantining” or sterilizing banknotes, to ensure that cash leaving central bank currency centers does not carry pathogens. All of this is happening despite the fact that many digital payment methods that are being touted as safer, healthier alternatives to cash are just as likely, if not more so, to spread infection.

As the BIS notes, debit and credit card transactions generally require a signature or a PIN entry at a merchant-owned device for larger transactions. Given that the virus survives best on non-porous materials such as plastic or stainless steel, debit or credit card terminals or PIN pads could prove to be even worse vectors of the virus. To reduce that risk, authorities, banks and card networks in countries such as Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK have set higher transaction limits for contactless payments.

The more that consumers get accustomed to the ease, convenience, and relative safety of contactless payment methods, the less likely they are to return to physical cash in the future. At least that’s what credit card companies, banks, tech giants and fintech startups are hoping. The BIS report concludes that the Covid-19 outbreak could lead to “both higher precautionary holdings” (i.e. hoarding) of cash by consumers and “a structural increase in the use of mobile, card and online payments.” By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET.

Miserable, crowded living conditions of Europe’s foreign farm workers put them at much greater risk. And they’re staying away. Read… Farm-Labor Crisis under COVID-19 Sends Countries Scrambling

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  102 comments for “Demand for Bank Notes in Dollars & Euros Spikes Despite Fears of Covid-19 Contaminated Cash

  1. Just Some Random Guy
    Apr 19, 2020 at 11:08 am

    I personally can’t remember the last time I took money out of an ATM. Several months at least. I think it’s funny that people are freaking out about touching a credit card. The MSM fear mongering has hit a new level.

    • Chris P
      Apr 19, 2020 at 5:20 pm

      Soon you will be able to get a chip implanted in your hand so you won’t have to touch a pin pad. You can use your credits whenever and wherever you want. It will be nice and easy but you will have to swear allegiance to someone. Sounds easy…

      • MaryR
        Apr 19, 2020 at 10:04 pm

        Gee..the swearing allegiance part is problematical…one doesn’t swear allegiance to use cash , ATM, or credit cards.

        Given the Bible’s prediction and warning in the book of Revelation of the requirement to take the “mark of the beast” to buy or sell during the end times, just before the second coming of Christ at the peril of your eternal soul, I don’t see Christians as willing to agree to any such system.

        • Chris P
          Apr 20, 2020 at 6:07 am

          You are so right in all of your observations about what the bible says. If we look at what the bible says about fear there is no display in the American church regarding not to fear. So if we take it to the next level and say you don’t eat if you don’t take the mark… I think there will be a lot of churches in America lining up for the free mark.

      • paul easton
        Apr 19, 2020 at 11:51 pm

        If you try to misbehave your hand will rise against you, as in Doctor Strangelove.

      • Frederick
        Apr 20, 2020 at 1:56 am

        Aaron Russo talked about this 15 years ago in reference to his friendship with one of the Rockefeller clan

    • Shiloh1
      Apr 19, 2020 at 6:39 pm

      Those touchscreens at the grocery stores and fast food joints likely have more fecal material on them than a port-o-let door handle after a big city marathon.

      • polecat
        Apr 19, 2020 at 7:49 pm

        Well then quit licking the damn thing ! Ok ?

        All in jest, couldn’t help myself … ‘;]

        You’re right! Gaia only knows what flora & fauna thrive on those touchscreen petri dishes. Wear your gloves you’all.

        ‘Hands of Blue, One by Two’

        • Dave
          Apr 19, 2020 at 9:10 pm

          Saw a lady in the grocery store wearing gloves as she was checking out. She could not separate the edges of one plastic bag and I saw her lick the gloved finger for better purchase to open the grocery bag……. yep gloves will save you!

    • Steve
      Apr 20, 2020 at 11:01 am

      the USPS here won’t accept cash, credit or debit card payment only. I don’t bother to ask clerks about legal tender laws or copy on the bills about legal tender. If the post office is banning cash???

      • Apr 20, 2020 at 12:33 pm

        The USPS post office I go to accepts cash just fine. Never had a problem with it. A little while ago, I paid for sending my passport renewal application including old passport via certified mail to the passport office. It was a little over $4. I paid cash, no problem.

  2. andy
    Apr 19, 2020 at 11:08 am

    I took out enough cash for 1 month, just in case.
    Don’t want to be that techy who can’t unlock his Tesla because battery on his iPhone is dead. And can’t pay for the charger because, again, iPhone is dead.
    Will triple-A charge your phone too?

    • Apr 19, 2020 at 11:16 am

      You can wash that filthy lucre. For tips on laundering money see the Federal Reserve website.

      • andy
        Apr 19, 2020 at 11:25 am

        I asked for brand new unused $50s pack. The nice young lady said no one ever asks.
        You can get unused $2 dollar bills bundle if you ask nicely.
        Are $500 bills still available?

        • DawnsEarlyLight
          Apr 19, 2020 at 11:34 am

          Went to the bank and received two banded $20 bundles($2000). The bills looked brand new, and quite striking in their violet bands.

        • Brant Lee
          Apr 19, 2020 at 12:11 pm

          No, $500 and $1000 bills (and above) once somewhat widely stashed are only now found among coin and banknote collectors with hefty premiums.
          See Robert DeNiro in ‘Midnight Run’ when he asks the cab driver: “Buddy, can you bust a thousand?”
          Now even more reason to return to silver and copper coin money as these two metals are known for their antibacterial qualities. Silver dollars saved people during the 1918 Flu epidemic (not really).

        • DawnsEarlyLight
          Apr 19, 2020 at 4:10 pm

          Wow, 100 crisp 20 dollar bills in sequential serial number order!

        • polecat
          Apr 19, 2020 at 7:55 pm

          Jeeze .. just put them in a ziplock. No touchie for 2 months. After the allotted time, good to spend !

          Or one could toss them in the clothes dryer, setting on High for 10 min. Wrinkle free !

      • sierra7
        Apr 19, 2020 at 2:43 pm

        Ambrose Bierce:
        “For tips on laundering money see….”
        I thought BCCI and other global banks did the better job of “laundering money….”
        Oh wait…….

      • Tony
        Apr 19, 2020 at 5:02 pm

        “the use of cash around the world is being heavily demonized for increasing the risk of Covid-19 infection.” Yes, it’s possible, to get Covid from bills, but so what? So can you get it from paper grocery bags, handrails, and worst of all, the magnetic pen or touch screen used to sign credit card transactions.

        Solution? MICROWAVE YOUR CASH.

        Place a pile of bills in a microwave and put on full power for twenty seconds or so. On opening the door you will smell a steamy odor of warmed ink. the bills will be hot! Do that two or three times and virus potential is solved, bonus, bacteria on them will be dead as well.

        Just another excuse for centralized power structures to impose a complete lockdown of the economy, and surveillance state by banning untraceable cash that has no cost for the user or the recipient like credit cards or electronic payments.

        • Tom Stone
          Apr 19, 2020 at 7:34 pm

          Canadian money is plastic, microwaving it doesn’t work well.

        • polecat
          Apr 19, 2020 at 7:59 pm

          What? Are you saying it turned inside out and exploded??

          “Hold Please….

        • CRV
          Apr 20, 2020 at 1:22 am

          In euro bills there is a band of reflective material (for copy protection) that does make your microwave produce sparks.

      • MaryR
        Apr 19, 2020 at 10:14 pm

        Ha HA! Spray one side with Lysol….leave it to dry for 20 minutes, flip over and repeat.

        No one seemed to care that US cash bills were supposedly contaminated with cocaine during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

        Plus isn’t this just Propaganda to sell the suddenly “cashless” system wanted by governments everywhere?

  3. Joe Saba
    Apr 19, 2020 at 11:13 am

    went to city dump this week
    had to use cc machine – then woman handed receipt out plexiglass slot
    of course she was wearing gloves

    • p coyle
      Apr 20, 2020 at 11:43 pm

      anyone handling receipts nowadays should have already been wearing gloves. well, if you do it professionally. or if you are extremely “health conscious.” the paper contains bisphenol A (BPA), which potentially do some nasty stuff to you especially when absorbed though the skin as it stays in your system much longer.

  4. raxadian
    Apr 19, 2020 at 11:21 am

    People are afraid of banks being closed and debit and credir cards not working.

    If you let the cash ventilated for a whole day it greatly reduces the risk of contagion, as long as you don’t touch it of course. And coins can be washed, just don’t use something too strong or they might change colors or something.

    • andy
      Apr 19, 2020 at 11:28 am

      You can wash dollar bills as much as you want, they make them out of old jeans (partially), plus few secrets.

    • Apr 19, 2020 at 12:15 pm

      You’re right about the fear of banks and atms not working. The local US Bank atm I used to use is offline.

      I always keep a couple hundred bucks on hand just in case, and I used to use cash getting lunch or dinner during the work week. Now I’ve been using cash a lot less because my purchases are either online or at a grocery store, using cards.

      In my case, I’m holding a bit more cash than normal while spending primarily with cards because of charges in shopping patterns. I bet many others are doing the same.

    • JGerty
      Apr 19, 2020 at 10:29 pm

      You can touch the cash. Just be sure to wash or sanitize your hands immediately afterwards. Do this before you get your keys or drive the car and whatever you do don’t touch your face

    • Frederick
      Apr 20, 2020 at 1:59 am

      They are also worried about bank failures and a little thing called “ bail in” legislation which didn’t work out so well for a lot of depositors in Cypriot banks last time around

  5. DawnsEarlyLight
    Apr 19, 2020 at 11:28 am

    At Sam’s Club, a majority of people were using the self verses full line checkout. Evidently more are conscious enough to use the CC verses cash. Unfortunately, did not notice anyone cleaning the hand scanners after each use.

  6. Apr 19, 2020 at 11:38 am

    There is more to the firming dollar than the sudden demand for its immediate use as cash.
    Great financial bubbles completed in 1720, 1772, 1825, 1873, 1929 and possibly this year.
    One of the features of each lengthy post-bubble contraction has been the senior currency firming up.
    The phrase I have used is that it becomes “Chronically firm against most commodities and most currencies for most of the time.”
    The reason being that in the bubble most of the debt is underwritten in the financial center. Formerly London, now New York.
    And the debt is due and payable now in dollars into NYC.
    And when the financial mania ends, debt service becomes the biggest short position in history.

    • Beardawg
      Apr 19, 2020 at 12:03 pm

      Meaning debtors will routinely default? How do you short that as a concept? It would have to be a specific company or fund.

    • Apr 19, 2020 at 2:07 pm

      Armstrong says this as well.. We are already seeing this in the mortgage servicing market. These dollars are then more expensive for foreign issuers of dollar debt, and this reflects in higher bond yields which we are seeing in nations other than US. US largest export is energy, a rising dollar will put downward pressure on crude and feed back through the corporate investment sector. Rising rates also put pressure on derivative markets, while I see no option other than the Fed raising rates.

      • sunny129
        Apr 19, 2020 at 5:37 pm

        Increasing demand for ‘US $ overseas’ besides the Euro-dollar pool, will NEGATE the any effects of strong $ and the rate from rising b/c TINA to the least dirty shirt in the world.

        In all past global crises of any kind including financial ones, demand for US $ ( bills and bonds) out ranks any counter negative effects. The US $ as a global currency in 61%, Euro 23% and Yen in 12% of global transactions!

        Death of US $ and the prediction in the rise in the rates in USA is is premature and most unlikely in the near future as the things (economics, social, politics) including other currencies are worse outside! Euro’s future is under cloud!

      • Yossarian
        Apr 20, 2020 at 6:04 am

        Yeah, armstrong says the real goal isto stop cash hoarding how else can the banks get away with negative rates on savings accounts.

  7. Joe
    Apr 19, 2020 at 11:47 am

    I have a couple trillions in Zimbabwe money with the band’s around the stacks…
    In a couple of wood cases gold plated. Gorgeous stuff.
    At least they will have some value.

  8. Soupcon
    Apr 19, 2020 at 11:53 am

    I am sure all gov’ts would love it if cash disappeared and people were forced to use credit and debit cards. At the present the black market probably comprises about 20% of GDP and pays no taxes on income. Forcing the use of debit and credit cards the gov’t would be able to estimate real income and tax accordingly. Banks of course make out like bandits. Yes barter would survive but you cannot exist on barter alone, or at least very few can. The exceptions of course are the 1% who just have laws made to exclude them from paying taxes.

    • Jeff T
      Apr 19, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      I can guess at what will happen over the short term for gold and silver physical metals, but when cash is gone and everything is electronic, they will have a spectacular premium as a counter balance to a world with just electronic money. Kind of a Yin and Yang thing.

    • WES
      Apr 19, 2020 at 10:10 pm

      Soupcon:

      No, if cash is eliminated, then something else will take its place.

      The black market will not disappear!

      Governments are stupid if they think they will luck onto a windfall by abolishing cash!

  9. Joe
    Apr 19, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Over the decades due to monetary inflation, quality and safety was being eroded to what we have today. And the crooks take over. In Canada, plastic money that hurts should you try to wipe your butt with.

    • WT Frogg
      Apr 19, 2020 at 2:27 pm

      Joe: I was trying to figure out why the run on butt wipe here in the Great White North then it dawned on me : we did away with the $1 & $2 bills a number of years ago in favor of the loonie and toonie coins.

      Have you ever tried using a coin instead of a bill for cleanup ??😢😢

      Additionally, those new polyester bills we have today are like using wax paper. 😉😉

  10. Mr Wake Up
    Apr 19, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Small business in NYC started combating the CC fees last year. When CC companies raised their processing fees to 4% the merchants begun to offer 4% discount for using cash.

    Whereas the hipster hood merchants started banning cash altogether.

    Last month Chase bank required anything over $5000 by special order, 1 week turn around directly from NY Fed.

    • Yossarian
      Apr 20, 2020 at 6:14 am

      Nyc update. In tribeca, all the banks are closed. The only access to cash is via atms. Many stores have gone cashless. I tried to buy a coffee from a hipster joint. As i waved my card from six feet away, the masked barista informed me that they only accept phone app payments. I turned around and left. I actually feel sorry for the stupid b*stards.

  11. Tony
    Apr 19, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    People are weird. The world will never understand human behavior. The one thing I do understand is when people are scared, they make irrational decisions.

  12. Apr 19, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    I am doing this: soak your bills and coins in a 5% solution of water and hydrogen peroxide for 5 minutes. Then dry your banknotes with a soft cloth and expose them to the sun for 5 minutes. Load your money in the wallet. Ready to go shopping? .. Take a ziploc bag with you and ask the cashier to deposit your change there. come home and disinfect the ziploc money. Defend your freedom, stay away from digital bank money because in the end your money will turn it into dust.

    • Finster
      Apr 19, 2020 at 4:11 pm

      Raising them to 200F in an oven for a few minutes should do the trick.

      • MC01
        Apr 19, 2020 at 5:09 pm

        Better yet: put all your banknotes and coins (including gold and silver: you never know) in a paper bag and leave them behind your local Burger World.
        I will take care of your cash for free.

      • Tony
        Apr 19, 2020 at 5:12 pm

        See my microwave post above.

  13. Implioit
    Apr 19, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    Deflationary- hoarding cash, but the fed makes sure that it will eventually be inflationary by keeping the 1s and 0s rolling off the virtual press.

  14. Michael Engel
    Apr 19, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    1) USD is ready to takeoff like a missile on the launch pad > 104.
    2) The black market portion of the US economy is enormous.
    3) Green ATM dollars + black dollars under the mattress to cover expenses. After the shutdown demand for cash is high.
    4) You cannot buy bread with gold or silver coins.
    5) US swap dollars to Japan. Japan swap to China and the global demand for US dollars is high, it circulate around and around visiting many nods.
    6) In 2008 the Fed was behind the curve. In 2020 the Fed preempted.
    7) In 1939 an armada of x6 carriers and x350 attacked. US was behind the curve after a prolong depression, until 1942.
    8) We cannot declare a kinetic war, there is no need for such move, but we declared a war on the virus.
    9) Fundamentals are coming. They diverge with the frenzy that led
    to Feb 2020 peak.
    10) The JP Fed preempt stock market mean reversion.

    • nick kelly
      Apr 19, 2020 at 6:48 pm

      At least this guy knows about the Pearl attack even if 2 years wrong on date. When Mr. T stopped off there on way to meet newest throb Kim (since broken up) and was dragged by minders to Arizona Monument, he asks: So what is this about?

    • Frengineer
      Apr 19, 2020 at 6:57 pm

      Technically the IJN didn’t strike until 1941…

  15. J dog
    Apr 19, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    I have gone the other direction, I used to use cash for almost everything and always carried at least $1k on me. Now I use CC for everything to limit possible contact.

  16. David Hall
    Apr 19, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    A toll bridge I seldom use accepted cash. My barbershop accepted cash only. They are shutdown. A gas station vacuum accepted quarters. ALDI required a quarter to get a shopping cart. When I traveled abroad I changed money. Not going there these days. If a hurricane knocks out the local power grid for a few weeks, I might need cash.

  17. Iamafan
    Apr 19, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Cash is for just in case. Told the wife and kids to go to the bank and withdraw some for the safe. But it ain’t just cash. Son took the liberty to make sure the firearms are loaded as well all have State carry permits.

    But day to day operations still CC card. I took some cash and doubled, tripled my tip for take out. I was looking for my hairdresser but the shop was closed. You gotta do anything to help people. I gave a cash tip to my favorite fish monger. People are very scared now and a little cash helps.

    • NARmageddon
      Apr 19, 2020 at 1:34 pm

      >>I was looking for my hairdresser but the shop was closed.

      Now you’re just trolling , right :-) :-). Michael Engel is a barber/stylist in the Bronx, see a few threads back. Maybe drive down from Westchester and meet up for an illegal (?) appointment, since Engel says his shop is closed?

      • NewGuy
        Apr 19, 2020 at 1:58 pm

        And if you pay in cash, he might give you a price break. But don’t forget to tip.

      • Iamafan
        Apr 19, 2020 at 2:00 pm

        Nah, not that crazy. I oiled up the Oster classic and got a military cut from my wife. It works. But I’m still concerned for my hairdresser. She’s a korean from Whitestone, Queens. Across the bridge from the Bronx.

      • NARmageddon
        Apr 19, 2020 at 2:47 pm

        LOL, but Michael Engel is the Yogi Berra of hairstyling. Philosophical musings and maybe some free stock tips. Michael?

      • otishertz
        Apr 19, 2020 at 5:10 pm

        Ahh, leave him alone. He’s doing his own thing like Tom Jones. He’s alright.

  18. Nicko2
    Apr 19, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Cash is king in times of crisis.

    • Tim
      Apr 19, 2020 at 2:13 pm

      Yup.

      Especially for anyone who may have heard that debt collection agencies may freeze and seize any government support allowance that may land in their checking account.

    • cesqy
      Apr 19, 2020 at 2:23 pm

      And cash is king when interest rates are negative at your credit union.

      • Frederick
        Apr 20, 2020 at 2:07 am

        Gold is king in times of low and/ or negative rates obviously if you look at how gold has done year to date
        How can you people say cash is king when all fiats have lost tremendous buying power when measured in gold It boggles the mind to figure out why so many people hate gold so much Oh right , the FED has conditioned you all very well

  19. NARmageddon
    Apr 19, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Back on topic: A lot of the USD (and Euro?) currency held around the world is held specifically to circumvent US banking/trade sanctions, which we all know are quite unfair and not applied objectively, but rather ideologically.

    No different during Coronavirus epidemic. In fact, desperate oppressed countries may need physical currency even more to get life-critical medical supplies.

  20. Tim
    Apr 19, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    Simple, predictable, psychology.

    Money in the hand is reassuring.

    If people have no income, the overdraft is all but maxed out, the credit card(s) are all but maxed out, they will extract what they have left before interest payments make it even smaller.

    Then they will count it out on the kitchen table to see how long it can be made to last.

    • Jeff T
      Apr 19, 2020 at 8:01 pm

      With money in my right hand I prefer 100 $1 to one $100. Just in case I need it as TP.

  21. tom
    Apr 19, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    I know its risky on my part, but I will cowboy up, and take all your virus ridden dollars. I will not charge a disposal fee. All I ask is do a thorough search of your home, vehicle, backyard, chicken coop..etc.. make sure you send it all.
    All you have to do is pay for shipping. Just imagine the cost of a Hazmat team going through your home & coop. If its in the 5 or 6 figure plus range, I will cover shipping cost.

    • Tim
      Apr 19, 2020 at 2:23 pm

      A government’s answer to that is to bring forward the issuance of new notes rendering the existing one’s only valid if redeposited at a bank within a given timeframe, say 3 months, then they declare the ones left no longer valid tender. Every transaction then is both easy to monitor and managed by a third party, banks, credit card companies, etc.

      Precedent is there already. It is generally used to counter forgeries, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be used to drive a population to using only digital means of transaction.

      These bodies then become essential for every transaction, which of course they are in the most part already.

      Talking only theoretically. In practice I cannot see how that could be accomplish in short order for all of physical currency in even small economies.

      • Tim
        Apr 19, 2020 at 2:28 pm

        To clarify.

        A government could reissue currency in new notes and then invalidate pr-existing forms. Then, possibly, not allow individuals to withdraw said new notes in physiucal form from their accounts.

        Therefore effectively moving a population to the use of digital transactions only.

        • nick kelly
          Apr 19, 2020 at 6:58 pm

          It is common for tier 2 and 3 …to the X currencies to change notes often with little warning to surprise markets black and grey. This usually makes old stuff worthless.
          Suitcases full have been left at African airports.

          Some years ago the US did a rare update of the $100 bill to fight counterfeiting.
          This news at first set off panic in places from Zimbabwe to Moscow.
          Then the soothing word arrived: the old ones are still good.

      • Tim
        Apr 19, 2020 at 2:32 pm

        My apolgies, very badly explained. I hope you get the drift though.

      • Realist
        Apr 19, 2020 at 2:51 pm

        Didn’t they do just this very thing in India recently ?

        • VintageVNvet
          Apr 19, 2020 at 4:10 pm

          Yes, and also in USA a while back Realist.
          My understanding at the time was that the move was intended to take away most of the cash savings of various cartels, drug, guns, and so forth that held all their money in USA $100s.
          Would not be surprised to see it happen again at anytime, with the current level of clowning instead of leadership on all sides.
          What IS surprising is that folks here on WolfStreet do not seem to remember when they replaced all our bills,,, doesn’t seem like it was that long ago??

        • motorcycle guy
          Apr 19, 2020 at 5:19 pm

          And the Philippines a few years ago.

        • Brant Lee
          Apr 19, 2020 at 5:58 pm

          Yes, it was a disaster in India for those who stashed money away under the mattress. A certain amount could be withdrawn in new currency but most had to be deposited into a bank account.
          In the U.S. any currency note that the federal government has ever issued is still legal tender all the way back to the early 1800s (Civil War Confederate currency was not Union issued). No U.S. official currency or coin has ever been demonetized from legal status, however paper money does not have a long circulation span because of wear and tear. Thus, new designs replace the old quickly.

      • Candyman
        Apr 19, 2020 at 6:48 pm

        One form of this was ending the silver certificates in 1968. You can use it for face value only today, you can not redeem for silver any longer. So, don’t give the gov’t any ideas, they are very good at screwing us on their own.

    • Apr 19, 2020 at 4:02 pm

      LOL

  22. cesqy
    Apr 19, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    Bitcoin is just like gold till the lights go out.

    • Beardawg
      Apr 19, 2020 at 3:55 pm

      Yes, but like Bitcoin or gold, gubment (currently) cannot trace notes (cash), so if you trade in it mostly or exclusively, like small restaurants have done for decades….no tax liability (or at least reduced). With digital, Unka Sam takes from U to feed the bail-outees. Definitely hard to do all cash (or Bitcoin) these days though.

      • cesqy
        Apr 19, 2020 at 4:25 pm

        Cash has a unique serial number. Who knows what is scanned by an atm or at a register with the video camera on. Not likely, but possible with surveillance capitalism and the technology available. My face mask gives me comfort when I’m paying cash at Walmart.

  23. Paulo
    Apr 19, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    Having 1K in the hidden envelope is an add on to earthquake supplies, a water supply, a few months of food, 5 years of firewood, spare fuels of all types, stores of fasteners etc, and the usual guns and fishing gear. It is what intelligent rural folks do, if they have the means. I simply cannot imagine not having a supply of twenty dollar bills around.

    I just came back from town to say goodbye to son who is now going to stay in Alberta for a few years as opposed to commuting back to the coast every two weeks. We did a long social distanced walk on some trails, talked, and made plans to visit after vaccine. (My wife has a compromised immune system so I am the careful shopper and town runner). Anyway, after vaccine we will then be able to hug. (Sad morning for this Dad). On the way home stopped at a drug store for some envelopes, used a cc machine while noticing the idiot in front of me had not been wearing gloves, nor was the clerk…and she did not wipe down the keypad. How this is safer than cash in a pandemic, I have no idea? I had gloves on and wiped down everything before I got into my truck.

    I often buy stuff privately as well as from companies. I usually pay ahead by email cash transfer to the vendor’s linked account. It is pretty quick and painless, actually. Everyone prefers the cash over the cc premium. It doesn’t have to be physical bills.

    • otishertz
      Apr 19, 2020 at 5:22 pm

      Don’t see how it is so hard to get cash. Call ahead if you want 5k in 50’s. It’s not hard. Give them a day at your bank.

      Use cash, starve the banks. Everyone takes it and the crisp new 50s are probably more sanitary than my toilet paper.

      In any case much more sanitary than any keypad.

      No cash, no freedom.

      • otishertz
        Apr 19, 2020 at 5:23 pm

        5k in 50’s takes up less space than an 8 oz block of cheese.

        • otishertz
          Apr 19, 2020 at 5:27 pm

          More like 10k in 50s to approximate the mass of an 8 oz block of cheese.

          T. Pot farmer forced to operate in cash .

        • otishertz
          Apr 19, 2020 at 5:40 pm

          About a gram a bill

  24. Realist
    Apr 19, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    Maybe people are beginning to get the unconscious feeling that a longer bank holiday might be declared and cc:s temporarily going offline …

    • p coyle
      Apr 21, 2020 at 12:15 am

      after promising all that free money, there’s no way the government would let the banks close. people would finally get pissed at the banks! maybe once all the oligarchs, and their prized toadies have evacuated, but not a moment before the very last possible cent of “profit” can be extracted.

  25. DR DOOM
    Apr 19, 2020 at 3:00 pm

    I watched a relative blow up about how nasty dollar bills are. He picked his nose during the tirade , sprayed the celery sticks and ranch dressing with his vocal chord ejections and dug out a piece of chicken gristle from a wing with his finger after the tirade. The fact is he is mortgaged to the hilt with a second and lives off of credit cards. The lowest risk factor of C19 contact for him is cash since he has none. He and others like him are which are in the majority are Idiots. For the record he ain’t part of the Scot side of my family.

    • Counterpointer
      Apr 19, 2020 at 6:06 pm

      Social distancing fail!

      True fact: copper wire was invented by two Scots fighting over a penny.

      Well, it’s true in my family anyway.

      C

      • JGerty
        Apr 20, 2020 at 9:44 am

        This was because the two of them were pulling on the penny so hard? :>)

  26. Iamafan
    Apr 19, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    No haircut after a month can drive one nuts. Just open up and let us take the risk. It’s livelihoods up in smoke. Why did we allow this shutdown to happen? Personal observation. I spent one week in ICU and another week at CCU. On the third week they wheeled me to physical therapy and immediately offered me a haircut. If you survive, one of the first things you want is a haircut. I asked for a beer and got a ginger ale.

  27. Ed
    Apr 19, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    People remember that in previous financially-troubled times, some people, some places were denied access to their money.

    That explains the cash hoarding well enough for me.

    It doesn’t explain the toilet paper hoarding, which I still find weird. :)

    • VintageVNvet
      Apr 19, 2020 at 4:22 pm

      Blame it on the power of the internet without a wolfer moderator Ed.
      Friend explained that an obscure area of AU actually did have a shortage due to a transportation problem,( without regard to virus,) and made a big joke about it on the net, and that, somehow went ”viral” and infected the thinking of lots of folks who know their TP is imported from far off shore.
      These kinds of events, idiocy or jokes going bananas around the world appear to me to be the greatest challenge of our current situation, way beyond the challenges of virus or corruption because:
      1. With the idiocy prevalent, nothing is secure/certain/reliable except face to face and immediate visual presence.
      2. Without the idiocy, We the Peons have some chance, slim as it might be, to actually proceed sooner/quicker to a more just and equitable global situation, more in line with the intentions of all good people everywhere, and without the likely deaths and destruction that are the inevitable results of accidental or intentional misunderstandings.

  28. Yancey Ward
    Apr 19, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    Why would this be a curious reaction- it was completely predictable.

  29. otishertz
    Apr 19, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    Was last year’s annual corona cold virus really so novel that we can’t use cash anymore? Could graphing various morbidity rates for the last ten years show justification for the present level of alarm?

    A viris will live a lot longer on an ATM keypad or any hard or impervious surface like a touchscreen than on a crisp new porous bill. Viruses prefer plastic over paper.

    Granted, a virus can live on permeable substrate, but much less longer, the manner in which most cash is transacted vs digital methods reveals that there are larger hygiene factors with keypads.

    Makes me wonder if contactless payments are not the whole point in the first place?

    Contactless payments are either overt biometric control or a proxy for that.

  30. Michael Gorback
    Apr 19, 2020 at 7:07 pm

    Some clarification is in order. CV will survive on your phone or credit card much longer than your cash. If you pay with plastic chances are you’ll have to enter a pin on a keyboard or tap a touchscreen to complete the transaction. If you put your card in a card reader it’s exposed to whatever came off the previous cards. The self checkout terminals often require the use of touchscreens.

    The persistence of the virus depends on the surface. About 24 hrs on cardboard, 2-3 days on plastic and metal EXCEPT copper. Copper kills bacteria, fungi, and viruses within hours of contact.

    One thing you might consider is brass, which is a copper-zinc alloy. I’ve had brass doorknobs in my office for years. You can also use bronze, which is copper and tin.

    There are no solid data about transmission via money. Most likely just letting it sit in dry air for a day will kill the virus. USD are fabric (cotton and linen). This substrate is like cardboard – dry and porous – so letting it sit for a while should work. I believe the Fed quarantines cash coming in from other countries for at least a week (like domestic cash is sterile?).

    If you’re really paranoid, you can put the bills in the oven at 250 for 10 minutes or even iron them.

    Remember, the virus has to enter through eyes, nose, or mouth. Whether you pay with plastic or cash, it doesn’t matter. Just don’t touch your face without washing your hands after contact and make sure you disinfect the surfaces.

  31. CRV
    Apr 20, 2020 at 1:27 am

    Next excerpt from an article about research into bacteria on banknotes is not about virusses! But it gives some insights.

    “Medical microbiologist Andreas Voss received the Ig Nobel Prize last week [ed: 2013] for his research into bacteria on banknotes. NEMO Kennislink spoke to him a day after the presentation. “I mainly want to make people aware that you get micro-organisms from all over the environment.”
    How long does the E.coli bacteria survive on a banknote?
    Flickr.com, AJ Cann via CC BY-NC 2.0

    Andreas Voss, medical microbiologist at Radboudumc and Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital Nijmegen, conducted research in 2013 into bacteria on banknotes in different currencies. He sterilized the notes and then infected them with E.coli, MRSA and Enterococci. After three, six and twenty-four hours, he checked which of these bacteria were still on the notes. No microorganisms were found on the Croatian kuna after three hours, the Indian rupee was clean after six hours and MRSA was still present on the Romanian slate a day later.

    In a follow-up experiment, Voss tested whether bacteria can also be transferred from person to person via banknotes. He had three people rub infected banknotes for half a minute and then looked for E. coli, S. aureus or Enterococci on their hands. In the case of the Romanian lei and the US dollar, the bacteria from the banknote passed to the test subjects’ hands. This did not happen with the euro. Probably the materials used in the banknote determine whether the bacteria can survive and whether they are transferred.

  32. RedRaider
    Apr 20, 2020 at 10:50 am

    One thing that confuses me about cashless society. Wouldn’t a robust black market barter economy develope? Even in a cashless society you can buy hard goods can’t you?

    Hmm, develope incorrect, develop correct. Did Covid-19 cause that :-)

  33. breamrod
    Apr 21, 2020 at 4:37 am

    the U.S. has never cancelled their currency. A 5.00 bill from the 1800’s is still legal tender( of course you’d be a fool to spend it). I think cashless shows up in Europe where they have a tradition of cancelling their currency.

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