cash-privacy

A generation ago, cash was truly king. Today, however, cash appears to be heading down the same road of surveillance and monitoring that credit cards have long since been on. That’s because some banks are making new policies about monitoring the withdrawals of cash from their ATMs, meaning that any person who wants to do nothing more than access their own money may soon be under suspicion.

The Privacy of Cash, Upended by Chase Bank

J.P. Morgan Chase is leading the way in eroding the privacy of cash. The mega-bank announced a new policy that they would limit ATM withdrawals of non-customers to just $1,000 per day. 1 For the majority of people, this is far from a big deal. Maybe the stray drug dealer may need more green, while the average Joe may not even have $1,000 in his bank account. Yet the devil, as always, is in the details.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Chase will not just shut down bigger withdrawals, but flag cash transfers in the hopes of rooting out “shady” activity. Just what activity is qualified as shady is in the hands of Chase and the government—and since Chase was awarded $25 billion by the TARP bailout, these two entities are increasingly one and the same. It’s bad enough that ATM scam threats make it possible to lose your private information and your money, but now even the responsible ATMs are setting up law-abiding citizens for failure.

Electronic Transfers Also Under Big Brother’s Watch

Nor is hard currency the only pitfall, for the oversight of physical and electronic cash alike are both heralding the end of monetary privacy. The government is increasingly watching the exchange of bitcoins and the movement of money using PayPal, meaning that electronic capitalism is even more tightly controlled than traditional capitalism. At a time when there are eyes watching every exchange, how can investors maintain safety and security against the arbitrary decision on what constitutes a “shady” deal?

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Precious Metals Still a Private Safe Haven

Gold represents not only a safe haven against cash in times of economic uncertainty, but also in times when privacy is going out the window. The government cannot keep records on precious metals ownership, meaning that any precious metals in your possession is yours to keep or yours to sell without the approval of either banks or the Department of the Treasury, though, when you sell bullion you must report liquidations to the IRS. Investors looking into gold have had a lot of things to be happy about lately, furthermore: the price of gold is up by nearly $200 per ounce since December 2015, a fantastic comeback at a time when few investors have much confidence in the dollar.

Additional Sources:

1 – http://www.wsj.com/articles/j-p-morgan-chase-sets-1-000-daily-atm-limit-for-some-big-spenders-1459789762