Book of the week: A world without cash

Book review: The War Against CashA decidedly sceptical view of a cashless society.


Published by Harriman House £12.99

Buy at Amazon

Governments and experts keep telling us that the future is cashless. But would doing away with physical money really make our lives easier? Or is it intended to help firms and governments stick us with transaction fees, monitor our spending habits and even raid our savings in the event of another recession?

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

In The War Against Cash, Clark, a British journalist who writes for The Spectator and the Daily Mail, takes a decidedly sceptical view as he examines the arguments in favour of a world without bank notes and demolishes them one by one.

For example, it's been widely reported that Sweden has seen a fall in the number of bank robberies and muggings after making it harder to use bank notes. That much is true yet there has been an even bigger explosion in electronic crime. Mobile payments are supposedly transforming financial services in the developing word, but these inspirational tales ignore the fact that such services are expensive, and are not available to the large number of illiterate people in these countries.

Policymakers fret about the amount of tax revenue lost through cash-in-hand payments, despite the fact that this is a fraction of the money lost through electronic money laundering and corporate tax evasion. The result is a highly effective counterpoint to the ceaseless calls for yet more draconian measures to restrict the use of cash in everyday transactions.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri