Brett Arends at the Wall Street Journal had an op-ed on Friday called “Why Cash Is King Again” that makes one nice small point but misses a larger one.
His premise is this: “Following the data breaches of credit- and debit-card information at major retailers, some shoppers say they are putting aside their cards and going back to spending cash—like in olden times.”
That trend more or less corroborates the popularity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which function in theory much like the paper and metal cash Arends posits is making something of a comeback.
The Bitcoin Analogue
Then, there is this statement: “I'm a cheerleader for old-fashioned paper currency. Not only is it secure and anonymous—it may also help some people control their spending and save more.”
The word choice of “secure and anonymous” is intentional — Arends is baiting the Bitcoin argument.
The Myopic Perspective
Here’s the thing: Arends can pull greenbacks from his mattress all day long for spending around New York or Washington. That’s all well and good for him.
But what about the rest of the world? What about Russia, whose citizens are bearing financial sanctions as a result of their government’s behavior? When the fiat monopolists start playing such games, the real “secure and anonymous” currency is the cryptographic one.
Maybe crises in the US haven’t prompted enough people to turn to digital money as a safe harbor for wealth, and perhaps that day may never come. But for the other 96% of the world, Arends’ arguments resonate a little stronger once they are applied to cryptocurrencies.