Banks Increasingly Refuse Cash Withdrawals – Switzerland Joins the Fun

The war on cash is proliferating globally. It appears that the private members of the world’s banking cartels are increasingly joining the fun, even if it means trampling on the rights of their customers.

Yesterday we came across an article at Zerohedge, in which Dr. Salerno of the Mises Institute notes that JP Morgan Chase has apparently joined the “war on cash”, by “restricting the use of cash in selected markets, restricting borrowers from making cash payments on credit cards, mortgages, equity lines and auto loans, as well as prohibiting storage of cash in safe deposit boxes”.

This reminded us immediately that we have just come across another small article in the local European press (courtesy of Dan Popescu), in which a Swiss pension fund manager discusses his plight with the SNB’s bizarre negative interest rate policy. In Switzerland this policy has long ago led to negative deposit rates at the commercial banks as well. The difference to other jurisdictions is however that negative interest rates have become so pronounced, that it is by now worth it to simply withdraw one’s cash and put it into an insured vault.

Having realized this, said pension fund manager, after calculating that he would save at least 25,000 CHF per year on every CHF 10 m. deposit by putting the cash into a vault, told his bank that he was about to make a rather big withdrawal very soon. After all, as a pension fund manager he has a fiduciary duty to his clients, and if he can save money based on a technicality, he has to do it.

 

snb2

Swiss National Bank headquarters

Photo credit: Daniel Rohr

 

A Legally Murky Situation – but Collectivism Wins Out

What happened next is truly stunning. Surely everybody is aware that Switzerland regularly makes it to the top three on the list of countries with the highest degree of economic freedom. At the same time, it has a central bank whose board members are wedded to Keynesian nostrums similar to those of other central banks. This is no wonder, as nowadays, economists are trained in an academic environment that is dripping with the most vicious statism imaginable. As a result, withdrawing one’s cash is evidently regarded as “interference with the SNB’s monetary policy goals”. Thus SRF reports:

 

“Since the national bank has introduced negative interest rates, pension funds in the country are in trouble. Banks are passing the negative rates on to them. This results in the saved pension money shrinking, instead of producing a return. A number of pension funds are therefore thinking about keeping their money in an external vault instead of leaving it in bank accounts.

One fund manager showed that for every CHF 10 m. in pension money, his fund would save CHF 25,000 – in spite of the costs involved in vault rent, cash transportation and other expenses.

However, as our research team has found out, there is one bank that refuses to pay out money in such large amounts. The editorial team has gotten hold of a letter from a large Swiss bank in which it tells its customer, a pension fund:

“We are sorry, that within the time period specified, no solution corresponding to your expectations could be found.

Bank expert Hans Geiger says that this “is most definitely not legal”. The pension fund has a sight account, and has the contractual right to dispose of its money on demand.

 

(emphasis added)

Indeed, although we all know that fractionally reserved banks literally don’t have the money their customers hold in demand deposits, the contract states clearly that customers may withdraw their funds at any time on demand. The maturity of sight deposits is precisely zero.

So how come the unnamed “large bank” (they should have named it, just to see what happens…) is so bold as to break the law by refusing to pay out funds in a demand deposit? Note here that it is indeed breaking the law, as there is nothing in Swiss legislation that states that banks are allowed to refuse or delay servicing withdrawals from demand deposits upon request.

The answer is that it has probably received a “directive” from the Swiss National Bank. Note here that these directives are not legally binding. SFR further:

 

“The president of the pension funds association ASIP, Hanspeter Konrad, has been irritated for weeks that pension funds are suffering from negative interest rates. He says: “We simply cannot understand that the banks are butting in here”. Konrad suspects that the National Bank is exerting its influence.

Indeed, the SNB confirms that it doesn’t like to see the hoarding of cash to circumvent its negative interest rate policy. “The National Bank has therefore recommended to the banks to approach withdrawal demands in a restrictive manner.”

Hans Giger, professor eremitus at the University of Zurich, says to this that the question how far the SNB can go is legally complicated. While the SNB is not allowed to influence the contract between a bank and a pension fund, it can however “issue directives to the banks in the collective interest of the Swiss economy”. What banks do with the SNB’s directives is however up to them.

 

(emphasis added)

In other words, large depositors in Swiss banks have now become victims of collectivism. Collectivism is of course precisely what informs all central planning endeavors. Obviously, property rights count for nothing if the central planners can revoke them at the drop of a hat.

 

Conclusion

It is undoubtedly a huge red flag when in one of the countries considered to be a member of the “highest economic freedom in the world” club, commercial banks are suddenly refusing their customers access to their cash. This money doesn’t belong to the banks, and it doesn’t belong to the central bank either.

If this can happen in prosperous Switzerland, based on some nebulous notion of the “collective good”, which its unelected central planners can arbitrarily determine and base decisions upon, it can probably happen anywhere. Consider yourself warned. As the modern day fiat money system inevitably cruises toward its final denouement, individual rights will come increasingly under attack as the world’s ruling elites and centrally directed banking cartels begin to batten down the hatches.

Better continue stacking, and keep a pile of this within grabbing distance – after all, it can be purchased at a generous discount these days:

 

gold-bars

 

 
 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 
 

 
 

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24 Responses to “The “War on Cash” Migrates to Switzerland”

  • killben:

    Is it possible for the pension funds to go to court on this against the banks?

  • therooster:

    The 21st century gold standard is a real-time standard where the WEIGHT of gold is the unit of account (not a fiat currency) and fiat currency complements this weight based standard by acting as the real-time measures (pricing) that determine the appropriate debt-free weight for settlement when making a purchase for an economic widget.

    In this manner, debt-free store of value (bullion) is combined with scalable debt-free liquidity that is contingent on the trade value of gold (gold price). This was made possible because of a floating gold price. The events of the closing of the gold window and the end of Bretton Woods in 1971 are what actually set gold free. The problem with BW was not the gold, it was simply the pegged value on gold, as was the case for gold standards beforehand. People missed this issue because they were too used to looking at the fiat currency (dollar) as the unit of account. Sleight of hand. In hindsight, it was all about gold. Look back and consider the weight as being the unit of account. Help is on the way. bitGold.com (currently in beta testing)

  • jimmyjames:

    Any modern government deciding to switch to a gold standard is as impossible as the whole EU bureaucracy saying “Gee, guess this EU experiment didn’t work out

    *******

    I don’t think it’s impossible at all for some country to adopt some sort of gold standard today and in fact it has been tried in recent history or at least a plan was hatched to do just such a thing which got the governments of those countries whacked ..
    Hussein in Iraq and Gaddafi in Libya as well as Mubarak in Egypt plus 50 other mena nations who were favorable towards the gold for oil swap and trading together with a gold backed Dinar ..
    I suppose they could be written off as just 3rd world countries with tin pot dictators in charge but that is exactly what they wanted to do ..

    Also there is an advanced nation with a central bank that has taken some big steps recently that plainly advocates a currency with some gold backing as a reserve and gold was actually used to stabilize their crashing currency where USD/EUR and other foreign reserve currencies were sold off and used to purchase the gold ..

    *********

    “The only thing that Russia did not do is sell its gold reserves to defend the Ruble. In fact, the Bank of Russia actually added 600,000 ounces to its holdings, upping its total reserves to 13% of foreign exchange reserves. The fact that the Bank of Russia added to its gold hoard in December in itself is not unique. But the fact that it added to its gold hoard at the expense of defending the Ruble while it was in total free fall, certainly is.

    In order to increase its gold reserves, Russia had to sell some of its foreign currency in order to obtain it – forex it could have used to further defend the Ruble, but chose not to. What this says is that increasing its gold reserves was for some reason more important to Russia, under the administration of Nabiullina at least, than defending the Ruble itself.

    The real question is why. If Nabiullina is loathe to sell the Bank of Russia’s gold reserves even in a full-fledged currency crisis, when would she think it is a good idea to do so?

    Nobody knows for sure, but the real answer might be never. In that case, what Russia is doing, for all intents and purposes, is to back the Ruble with gold. While buying gold does not provide any short term boost to the Ruble on international exchange, it would provide stability in the long term to the Russian currency, especially if made directly convertible at a fixed rate”

    http://marketexclusive.com/russia-increases-gold-holdings-to-13-of-foreign-reserves/159/

    • VB:

      The reason why Iraq, Iran, Libya, etc. tried to include gold as payment in international trade (which is still far from switching to a gold standard internally) is not because they were third-world tinpot dictatorships but because they didn’t have a choice, due to the US-imposed sanctions. It was a last resort for them.

      If the USA manages to exclude Russia from the SWIFT payment system (which they have already tried to do), Russia might be forced to seek other forms of payment, including currency swaps and payment with gold. But adopting a gold standard internally? Voluntarily, as opposed as because there is no other choice? Forget about it.

      If you still want to believe in the propaganda spewed by the gold promoters to sell more gold to their customers, it’s your choice, of course, and you are free to do so. I am just warning you that this is a position based on ignorance and lack of understanding of how modern governments and central banks work and you will lose money if you base your investment decisions on this.

      Not saying that gold doesn’t have its place in a balanced portfolio. I own considerable amount of it myself. Just do not believe the nonsense that some countries will adopt a gold standard any day now and don’t base your investment decisions on such groundless propaganda. And, to return to the original subject, do not believe that owning gold will save you when the governments starting hunting for their citizens’ money with some real zeal.

      • jimmyjames:

        The reason why Iraq, Iran, Libya, etc. tried to include gold as payment in international trade (which is still far from switching to a gold standard internally) is not because they were third-world tinpot dictatorships but because they didn’t have a choice, due to the US-imposed sanctions. It was a last resort for them.

        ********

        That’s not true ..Iran and Libya both had steady increases in oil exports from 1980 until 2011 .. which was when the gold for oil announcement was made and shortly after that came the government overthrow .. so sanctions were not the reason .. the reason was because they wanted to eliminate the USD settlement for oil .. Iraq had been occupied since 2003 ..

        Scowl down to overview data and click on (Petroleum) thousands of barrels/day

        http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=ly

        http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=IR

        *********

        If the USA manages to exclude Russia from the SWIFT payment system (which they have already tried to do), Russia might be forced to seek other forms of payment, including currency swaps and payment with gold. But adopting a gold standard internally? Voluntarily, as opposed as because there is no other choice? Forget about it.

        ********

        If you go back and read what i posted prior to this you will see i used the word “forced” and i did say “it is forced by “circumstances” not voluntary in the case of Russia and i think it’s clear by now that Russia will do what it damn well pleases which they have done by shifting away from the west and adjusting their trade relations with the east and i did not say a gold standard .. i said a currency with some gold backing .. the only thing i said about a gold standard of “some sort” was that it would not be impossible as you claimed .. we haven’t had a true gold standard since WW1 but we had a quasi gold standard only 45 years ago ..

        ***********

        If you still want to believe in the propaganda spewed by the gold promoters to sell more gold to their customers, it’s your choice, of course, and you are free to do so. I am just warning you that this is a position based on ignorance and lack of understanding of how modern governments and central banks work and you will lose money if you base your investment decisions on this.

        **********

        I’m not sure why you felt it necessary to bring that topic into the picture but i can assure you i don’t take investment advice from any gold promoters and i haven’t made any bullion purchases since 2004 .. so your words are nothing more than assumptions on your part .. just like your government gold confiscation assumption ..

        • VB:

          As I said, feel free to believe to whatever nonsense you want to. As a libertarian myself, I am not trying to force you to change your beliefs; I am just warning you. Feel free to ignore my warning.

          Gold MIGHT find some way in a basket of currencies (e.g., it could be included, along with other commodities, like oil, in the SDRs), but a domestic gold standard for a country is simply unrealistic at this point of time. I’ve been hearing this kind of crap from the gold promoters for decades already (remember the gold dinar that the Arab countries were going to introduce any day now?), which is why I tend to react like this when I see anyone who seems to believe in it.

          I didn’t say anything about gold confiscation, BTW. That is extremely unlikely to happen, simply because there is not much profit in it for the governments (few people own gold). I was just saying that owning gold isn’t going to save you when governments really start hunting for your money. They won’t confiscate your gold – instead, they will put limits on how much gold you can sell and will slap a large tax on any profits made by selling it.

          Gold has a large chance of preserving buying power until the catastrophe is over and the society has recovered – provided that you survive it, which is unlikely. But use gold as money during the crisis and when the governments are practically outlawing cash? Forget about it.

          But, as I said, feel free to believe whatever you want.

    • therooster:

      Jimmy James … No national gold standard is necessary for any national currency. It would mean having a FIXED peg and we know that this doesn’t work in the face of bullion being a limited and finite element. The problem is not gold, as some bank driven marketing might have the innocent believe. The problem would be in the FIXED peg, just as it was when Bretton woods was around and the USD was pegged to gold at $35.00/ounce.

      The process oriented solution to using gold as economic liquidity (currency) was/is to :
      A) allow its weight to be valuated (priced) by the market (Thank-you 1971)
      b) Monetize the gold with weight as the unit of account where the weight value floats and liquidity is fully scalable (Liquidity is the product of (weight x trade value/unit weight) —> weight x USD/oz

      This combination allows for debt-free store of value (bullion) to be married to fully & instantly scalable liquidity on a global basis because of bullion’s seamlessness.

      You cannot pour new wine into old wineskins. The information age is like a new wineskin. :-)

      BitGold.com would be such a model. The stage is set for the remonetization of gold …. in real-time

      • jimmyjames:

        No national gold standard is necessary for any national currency. It would mean having a FIXED peg and we know that this doesn’t work in the face of bullion being a limited and finite element

        *********

        I’m not sure what you mean by a “national” gold standard and i don’t believe i said anything about such a thing …

        As far as a fixed peg goes .. i think it would work perfect and did work perfect simply because of gold being limited .. what didn’t work was governments overprinting/overspending for example (USA) ie: 1971 .. if international laws had not been broken and the gold redeemed at $35/oz on demand by foreign lenders as written into agreement in1944 (Breton Woods) of coarse even that was manipulated before the default at the London gold pool in 1961 ..

        Had the US not defaulted on the agreement in 1971 .. they would have lost all their gold and been bankrupt which is exactly what is supposed to happen when you print/spend far beyond your gold reserves ..
        The peg was working just fine and the Nixon default proved it .. that’s what the gold standard was designed to do ..

        • VB:

          You just explained why a government can’t tolerate a gold standard. It puts limits on their spending and power. That’s why a gold standard can’t “work” (i.e., be allowed to stand) for long.

  • misnomer:

    just wanted to let you know that I wanted to share this article on linkedin and tried thrice but failed. Ultimately i shared it from zerohedge on linkedin.

  • VB:

    Sadly, Pater, your advice at the end is no good at all. How long until there are limits on buying or selling gold? Ukraine (admittedly, a fringe case) has already imposed a $125 limit on gold products. What are you going to do with all the gold you have “within grabbing distance”? You can’t buy food with it without converting it into local fiat first – and there might be severe limits on that. You can’t move it to another country (with more liberal laws), because it will be detected and probably confiscated at the airport.

    And how long until ownership of gold itself is outlawed? The average Joe won’t even blink, because only terrorists, money launderers, some crazies and “the rich” have gold, so it doesn’t concern him, right?

    BTW, in my current country of residence (Bulgaria), it has been illegal to store cash in safe deposit boxes since forever. To the best of my knowledge, however, nobody bothers abiding by this law. But the law IS there. It will take just an emergency to enforce it and require the presence of a government agent when a safe deposit box is accessed, in order to verify that the law isn’t being broken.

    • jimmyjames:

      Good points VB but what would happen if western central banks/governments were forced into weighting their currencies with gold from say the future actions of china/Russia/India/BRICS and the New Development Bank (NDB) incorperating gold to back those currencies ..

      I would think the gold depleted west would have no choice but to bring gold into the open in order to top up gold reserves (bidding in the open market?) to save their rapidly devalued paper currencies “if” such an event were to happen .. rather than driving gold underground ie: through black markets/barter etc. by making it illegal ..
      (pure speculation on my part)

      • VB:

        Do not delude yourself. No contemporary government (including those of Russia, India, etc.) is EVER going to switch to any kind of gold standard voluntarily. Anybody who claims that they will simply does not understand how modern governments and central banks work or is trying to sell you gold.

        I am not saying that an eventual return of some form of gold standard is not a possibility. I am saying that it will NEVER be done voluntarily and ALL other options (including world war) will be exhausted first. We will crash and burn first and, most likely, most of us won’t live to see it happen.

        • jimmyjames:

          Well you sound as if you for sure know the future already .. i wouldn’t be so sure if i were you and don’t forget .. we are already at war and crippling the enemy’s currency/economy is of top priority and it is not voluntary .. it is forced by circumstances ..

          • VB:

            I don’t know all the future, of course, but some things are so obvious that it is possible to say with high confidence that they aren’t going to happen. Any modern government deciding to switch to a gold standard is as impossible as the whole EU bureaucracy saying “Gee, guess this EU experiment didn’t work out, folks. Sorry about that. We are all collectively resigning our jobs in shame, have fun with some other form of government”. The EU is still quite possible (even likely) to fall apart eventually, but it won’t be a voluntary decision and ALL other options (including fascist dictatorship and war) will be tried first.

            A gold standard imposes discipline and limits on governments. Those in power don’t like limits being imposed on them and do everything in their power to subvert them. That’s why all gold standards in history have failed eventually.

            • therooster:

              All gold standards have failed because of FIXED values that were placed on bullion’s trade value by the powers-of-that-time. Bretton woods would be the latest example. The problem was not the bullion. The problem was the FIXED peg because it stifled liquidity. Gold’s weight is limited and finite. It’s trade value is not, however

              The solution, in order to revitalize bullion as a form of liquidity, was/is to make bullion weight (actual or digitized & fully backed) the unit of account and allow the price to rise/float. That makes the liquidity of monetary gold completely scalable on the amount of weight available and/or the trade value of the weight (USD/oz) . To raise liquidity, you can raise either …. all debt-free

              • VB:

                The “problem”, from the point of view of the governments, is not the limited liquidity – it is the limit on spending. If you have a gold standard, any attempt to spend more than the gold you have will lead to a loss of your gold reserves and collapse of your currency. No amount of “digitalization”, “backing” or any other hocus-pocus is going to “fix” that.

                Governments don’t tolerate limits to their power. Pegging your currency to anything else (gold, euro, bitcoin) essentially relinquishes control of your monetary policy to some external entity (natural laws, the ECB, math). It puts a restraint on you, as a government. Governments don’t tolerate this for long and fight it tooth and nail.

        • therooster:

          We have a gold standard at this very moment. It’s a market currency and trading of any market currency (or widget) for another widget is perfectly LAWFUL, in spite of the absence of “legal tender” status .

          Legal tender status is a crutch and necessary evil for debt based currency that has no standing in the organic laws of the market. Could fiat currency stand any test of time without this legal decree ?

          Governments and central banks create debt for circulation and we tend to think of fiat currency as being a currency without much (or any) thought to how else debt currency may be a benefit.

          Real-time (floating priced) bullion can give thanks to floating fiat currency development and the events & closing of Bretton Woods (1971) which actually set gold free. Gold can only be properly monetized when the weight can float in trade value on the basis that liquidity is not only tied to available weight, but also to trade value (price).

          The elite create the debt. The free market creates the assets , including gold.

          The part that is very present in the consciousness of good men and women is that the movement of debt-free liquidity (bullion based currency), now that the weight’s value is free to float, allows for debt based liquidity to be purged from circulation. The CB’s of the world set the stage for this.

          The end result is a yin-yang hybrid of debt and assets that can support an ongoing economy where debt is completely manageable and liquidity is completely scalable. It becomes symbiotic.

          Time to place assets in circulation by way of the market, bottom-up. This implementation of assets in circulation cannot be carried out at the apex of classical power, however. The debt-system is crucial to the yin-yang too and an aggressive and transparent shift toward assets could likely cause a crash in the debt markets…. including fiat currencies … the measurement tools for debt-free bullion.

          We must be as wise as serpents, yet as gentle as doves.

    • zerobs:

      You can bet that if a government is implementing capital controls (and therefore changing the official medium of exchange is inevitable), it is only doing so because it has no choice. Their first attempts will be to less-sound money, but if their credibility is completely shot they will have no choice but to transact in whatever medium of exchange is preferred in the black market if they want any credibility.

      • VB:

        I have lived through several currency collapses (3 or 4). Not once did the corresponding government even think of using a gold standard. Every single time the failed currency was replaced by another debt-based currency. Devaluation, capital controls, pegging to a foreign currency – yes. Gold standard – no.

        Maybe when the global financial system collapses completely, it will be different. But I wouldn’t bet my financial future on it.

        • therooster:

          VB … the hindsight is accurate but you did not account for the subtle difference this time around. The trade value of gold is now free to float in fiat currency terms … all fiat currency, including the USD. The liquidity of bullion’s “reach” is no longer the challenge it once was. There is no restraint on gold’s liquidity anymore because it is not solely reliant on the amount of finished gold we create from the ground. We can increase the trade value by way of the market.

          Gold’s monetary liquidity and coverage is directly proportional to the product of available weight and the trade value of each unit of weight, both. Increasing gold’s liquidity can be a function or raising either element , weight and/or price (USD/oz) . We can also include velocity and with the Internet’s presence, that a huge boost too.

          You cannot pour new wine into old wineskins.

          Reverse engineer the business model of real-time gold payment processing (BitGold) and you will likely see the events of Bretton Woods as being somewhat different from past perceptions. Every step will make far more sense …. even Vietnam and the closing of the gold window in 71. .

          The dollar and gold are now marching down the aisle together in a relationship that has now become symbiotic …. not polarized. Where’s your paradigm at the moment ?

          As I told this audience, direct gold transfers, P2P, would be allowed in the USA for BitGold account holders sometime in 2016. That day has now arrived as you can see from the March 31 press release from this wonderful publicly traded payment system.

          http://s2.q4cdn.com/535901203/files/PR-BitGold-US-payments-and-transfer-announcement.pdf

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      The Lighthouse Problem Measured in gold, the price of the dollar hardly budged this week. It fell less than one tenth of a milligram, from 23.29 to 23.20mg. However, in silver terms, it’s a different story. The dollar became more valuable, rising from 1.58 to 1.61 grams.   Who put that bobbing lighthouse there? Image credit: John Lund / Corbis   Most people would say that gold went up $6 and silver went down 43 cents. We wonder, if they were on a sinking boat,...

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THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

 
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