The world is drowning in cash-and it's making us poorer and less safe. In The Curse of Cash, Kenneth S. Rogoff makes a persuasive and fascinating case for an idea that until recently would have seemed outlandish: getting rid of most paper money. Even as people in advanced ecomies are using less paper money, there is more cash in circulation-a record $1.4 trillion in U.S. dollars alone. So what is all that cash being used for? The answer is simple: a large part is feeding tax evasion, corruption, terrorism, the drug trade, human trafficking, and the rest of a massive global underground ecomy. As Rogoff shows, paper money can also cripple monetary policy. In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, central banks have been unable to stimulate growth and inflation by cutting interest rates significantly below zero for fear that it would drive investors to abandon treasury bills and stockpile cash. The Curse of Cash offers a plan for phasing out paper money and addresses the issues the transition will pose, ranging from fears about privacy and price stability to the need to provide subsidized debit cards for the poor.
Kenneth S. Rogoff, the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is coauthor of the New York Times bestseller This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Barry Abrams has narrated and produced audiobooks for a variety of publishers. Since 2012, he has also hosted and produced ESPN's In the Gate podcast. Based in Danbury, Connecticut, Barry engineers and calls live webcasts of his son's ice hockey games.