It was just a matter of time before Western governments used the trumped up “War on Terror” as an excuse to drastically ratchet up the very real war on the use of cash and personal privacy that they are waging against their own citizens Taking advantage of public anxiety in the wake of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket,France has taken the first step. It seems the terrorists involved partially financed these attacks by cash, as well as by consumer loans and the sale of counterfeit goods. What a shockeroo! The terrorists used CASH to purchase some of the stuff they needed–no doubt these murderers were also shod and clothed and used cell phones, cars, and public sidewalks during the planning and execution of their mayhem. Why not restrict their use? A naked , barefoot terrorist without communications is surely less effective than a fully clothed and equipped one. Despite the arrant absurdity of blaming cash and financial privacy for these crimes, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin brazenly stated that it was necessary to “fight against the use of cash and anonymity in the French economy.” He then announced extremeand despotic measures to further restrict the use of cash by French residents and to spy on and pry into their financial affairs.
These measures, which will be implemented in September 2015, include prohibiting French residents from making cash payments of more than 1,000 euros, down from the current limit of 3,000 euros. Given the parlous state of the stagnating French economy the limit for foreign tourists on currency payments will remain higher, at 10,000 euros down from the current limit of 15,000 euros. The threshold below which a French resident is free to convert euros into other currencies without having to show an identity card will be slashed from the current level of 8,000 euros to 1,000 euros. In addition any cash deposit or withdrawal of more than 10,000 euros during a single month will be reported to the French anti-fraud and money laundering agency Tracfin. French authorities will also have to be notified of any freight transfers within the EU exceeding 10,000 euros, including checks, pre-paid cards, or gold.
Joseph Salerno [send him mail] is academic vice president of the Mises Institute, chairman of the graduate program in economics at Pace University, and editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.