Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cash Is A Store of Value If Interest Rates Are Negative

Here is what happens when you take a quote out of context... Rick Santelli (CNBC), Zero Hedge and no doubt many others by now have honed in a line from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen. Zero Hedge has shortened the quote for their headline which reads: Santelli Stunned As Janet Yellen Admits "Cash Is Not A Store Of Value", this would suggest Yellen had been critical of holding cash for that purpose (as a store of value), however watching the clip reveals a very different message.

Yellen does say "cash is not a very convenient store of value", but she says so immediately following a comment that she's surprised there hasn't been a larger pickup in demand for cash (in the Eurozone areas where interest rates are negative).

What Yellen is actually implying in her response is that holding (physical) cash IS a good store of value when interest rates are negative, the reference to it being an inconvenience is presumably about having to deal with it physically. Like precious metals, holding assets physically comes with a different set of risks to owning them digitally in an account.

In fact I recently commented on the blog of JP Koning about holding cash as a store of value, pointing out there may be an opportunity for new services in the secure storage of cash (not unlike an allocated bullion account):

Physical cash acts as a store of value (or potentially even rises in value if the area is experiencing deflation) when interest rates are negative because the nominal amount you own doesn't change, where as if you hold a deposit in a bank account you may be charged a negative rate.

Of course over the long term, assuming a successful return to inflation and positive rates, cash is not a good store of value, but there are periods such as now, in countries where interest rates are negative, that holding cash as a store of value makes sense.

The deceptive way in which Zero Hedge and others have framed this quote by Yellen is why you need to be careful about the narrative and agendas that others drive as I have pointed out several times in the past.

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