by John Tamny
Real Clear Markets
In a recent opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff declared that there’s “little debate among law-enforcement agencies that paper currency, especially large notes such as the $100 bill, facilitates crime.” Rogoff would like to discontinue the $100 in order to – try not to laugh – reduce crime.
Can the eminent economist really be so naïve as to presume that the disappearance of a piece of paper would prove effective at making the U.S. (and the world) more honest and safe? Apparently he does, while lightly acknowledging what economists refer to as the “substitution effect.” If $100 Federal Reserve notes prove scarce, then similar euro and Pound bills will do the job, as will 10,000 yen notes. If $100 bills simplify big criminal transactions, wouldn’t little gold coins simplify crime even more?