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WEF panelist suggests COVID response accustomed people to the idea of CBDCs

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Central Bank of Bahrain governor Khalid Humaidan

From LifeSiteNews

By Tim Hinchliffe

When asked how he would convince people that CBDCs would be a trusted medium of exchange, Bahrain’s central bank governor said that COVID made the digital transformation ‘something of a requirement’ that had ‘very little resistance.’

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) will hopefully replace physical cash and become fully digital, a central banker tells the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Speaking at the WEF Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy Development on Sunday, Central Bank of Bahrain governor Khalid Humaidan told the panel “Open Forum: The Digital Currencies’ Opportunity in the Middle East” that one of the goals of CBDC was to replace cash, at least in Bahrain, and to go “one hundred percent digital.”

Humaidan likened physical cash to being an antiquated “analogue” technology and that CBDC was the digital solution that would hopefully replace cash:

“I thank this panel and this opportunity. It forced me to refine my thoughts and opinions where I’m at a place comfortably now that I’m ready to verbalize what I think about CBDC,” said Humaidan.

If we think cash is the analogue and digital currency is the form of digital – CBDC is the digital form of cash – today, clearly we’re in a hybrid situation; we’re using both.

We know in the past when it comes to cash, central bankers were very much in control with all aspects of cash, and now we’re comfortable to the point where the private sector plays a big role in the printing of the cash, in the distribution of the cash, and with the private sector we use interest rates to manage the supply of cash.

The same thing is likely to happen with CBDC. Yes, the central bank will have a role, but at some point in time – the same way we don’t call it ‘central bank cash’ – we’re probably going to stop calling it central bank digital currency.

“It’s going to be a digital form of the cash, and at some point in time hopefully we will be able to be one hundred percent digital,” he added.

When asked how he would convince people that CBDC would be a trusted medium of exchange, Bahrain’s central bank governor said that people were already used to it and that COVID made the digital transformation “necessary” and “something of a requirement” that had “very little resistance.”

“Right now, many of our payments are digital. The truth is, I said that we’re in a hybrid model; there’s less and less use of cash,” said Humaidan.

I think from predominantly digital with a little physical, I think the transition to fully digital is not going to be a stretch.

People are used to it, people have engaged in it and certain circumstances did help. Its adoption rates increased because of COVID.

“This is where contactless started to become something of a necessity, something of safety, something of a requirement, and because of that there is very little resistance; trust is already there,” he added.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde has been going around the world telling people that the digital euro CBDC would not eliminate cash, and that cash would always be an option.

Speaking at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Summit in March 2023, Lagarde said that a digital currency will never be as anonymous as cash, and for that reason, cash will always be around.

“Is it [digital euro] going to be as private as cash? No,” she said.

A digital currency will never be as anonymous and as protecting of privacy in many respects as cash, which is why cash will always be around.

If people want to use cash in some countries or in some transactions, cash should be available.

“A digital currency is an alternative, is another means of payment and will not provide exactly the same level of privacy and anonymity as cash, but will be pretty close in terms of complete neutrality in relation to the data,” she added.

WEF Agenda blog post from September, 2017, lists the “gradual obsolescence of paper currency” as being “characteristic of a well-designed CBDC.”

Last year at the WEF’s 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, aka “Summer Davos,” in Tianjing, China, Cornell University professor Eswar Prasad said that “we are at the cusp of physical currency essentially disappearing,” and that programmable CBDCs could take us to either a better or much darker place.

“If you think about the benefits of digital money, there are huge potential gains,” said Prasad, adding, “It’s not just about digital forms of digital currency; you can have programmability – units of central bank currency with expiry dates.

You could have […] a potentially better – or some people might say a darker world – where the government decides that units of central bank money can be used to purchase some things, but not other things that it deems less desirable like say ammunition, or drugs, or pornography, or something of the sort, and that is very powerful in terms of the use of a CBDC, and I think also extremely dangerous to central banks.

The WEF’s Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy Development took place from April 27-29 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy restricts almost all political rights and civil liberties,” according to D.C.-based NGO Freedom House.

In the kingdom, “No officials at the national level are elected,” and “the regime relies on pervasive surveillance, the criminalization of dissent, appeals to sectarianism and ethnicity, and public spending supported by oil revenues to maintain power.”

Reprinted with permission from The Sociable.

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Carbon tax costs Canadian economy billions

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Franco Terrazzano 

This tax costs Canadians big time at the gas pump, on home heating bills, on the farm and at the dinner table.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the federal government to scrap the carbon tax in light of newly released government data showing the tax will cost the Canadian economy about $25 billion in 2030.

“Once again, we see the government’s own data showing what hardworking Canadians already know: the carbon tax costs Canada big time,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “The carbon tax makes the necessities of life more expensive and it will cost our economy billions of dollars.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must scrap his carbon tax now.”

The government of Canada released modelling showing the cost of the carbon tax on the Canadian economy Thursday.

“The country’s GDP is expected to be about $25 billion lower in 2030 due to carbon pricing than it would be otherwise,”  reports the Globe and Mail.

Canada contributes about 1.5 per cent of global emissions.

Government data shows emissions are going up in Canada. In 2022, the latest year of data, emissions in Canada were 708 megatonnes of CO2, an increase of 9.3 megatonnes from 2021.

The federal carbon tax currently costs 17 cents per litre of gasoline, 21 cents per litre of diesel and 15 cents per cubic metre of natural gas.

The carbon tax adds about $13 to the cost of filling up a minivan, about $20 to the cost of filling up a pickup truck and about $200 to the cost of filling up a big rig truck with diesel.

Farmers are charged the carbon tax for heating their barns and drying grains with natural gas and propane. The carbon tax will cost Canadian farmers $1 billion by 2030, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

“No matter how many times this government tries to put lipstick on the carbon tax pig, the reality is clear,” said Kris Sims, CTF Alberta Director. “This tax costs Canadians big time at the gas pump, on home heating bills, on the farm and at the dinner table. Trudeau should make life more affordable and improve the Canadian economy by scrapping his carbon tax.”

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New York and Vermont Seek to Impose a Retroactive Climate Tax

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From Heartland Daily News

By Joshua Loucks for the Cato Institute.

Energy producers will be subject to retroactive taxes in New York if the state assembly passes Senate Bill S2129A, known as the “Climate Change Superfund Act.” The superfund legislation seeks to impose a retroactive tax on energy companies that have emitted greenhouse gases (GHGs) and operated within the state over the last seventy years.

If passed, the new law will impose $75 billion in repayment fees for “historical polluters,” who lawmakers assert are primarily responsible for climate change damages within the state. The state will “assign liability to and require compensation from companies commensurate with their emissions” over the last “70 years or more.” The bill would establish a standard of strict liability, stating that “companies are required to pay into the fund because the use of their products caused the pollution. No finding of wrongdoing is required.”

New York is not alone in this effort. Superfunds built on retroactive taxes on GHG emissions are becoming increasingly popular. Vermont recently enacted similar legislation, S.259 (Act 122), titled the “Climate Superfund Act,” in which the state also retroactively taxes energy producers for historic emissions. Similar bills have also been introduced in Maryland and Massachusetts.

Climate superfund legislation seems to have one purpose: to raise revenue by taxing a politically unpopular industry. Under the New York law, fossil fuel‐​producing energy companies would be taxed billions of dollars retroactively for engaging in legal and necessary behavior. For example, the seventy‐​year retroactive tax would conceivably apply to any company—going back to 1954—that used fossil fuels to generate electricity or produced fuel for New York drivers.

The typical “economic efficiency” arguments for taxing an externality go out the window with the New York and Vermont approach, for at least two reasons. First, the goal of a blackboard or textbook approach to a carbon tax is to internalize the GHG externality. To apply such a tax accurately, the government would need to calculate the social cost of carbon (SCC).

Unfortunately, estimating the SCC is methodologically complex and open to wide ranges of estimates. As a result, the SCC is theoretically very useful but practically impossible to calculate with any reasonable degree of precision.

Second, the retroactive nature of these climate superfunds undermines the very incentives a textbook tax on externalities  would promote. A carbon tax’s central feature is that it is intended to reduce externalities from current and future activity by changing incentives. However, by imposing retroactive taxes, the New York and Vermont legislation will not impact emitters’ future behavior in a way that mimics a textbook carbon tax or improves economic outcomes.

Arbitrary and retroactive taxes can, however, raise prices for consumers by increasing policy uncertainty, affecting firm profitability, and reducing investment (or causing investors to flee GHG‐​emitting industries in the state altogether). Residents in both New York and Vermont already pay over 30 percent more than the US average in residential electricity prices, and this legislation will not lower these costs to consumers.

Climate superfunds are not a serious attempt to solve environmental challenges but rather a way to raise government revenue while unfairly punishing an entire industry (one whose actions the New York legislation claims “have been unconscionable, closely reflecting the strategy of denial, deflection, and delay used by the tobacco industry”).

Fossil fuel companies enabled GHG emissions, of course, but they also empowered significant growth, mobility, and prosperity. The punitive nature of the policy is laid bare by the fact that neither New York nor Vermont used a generic SCC or an evidentiary proceeding to calculate precise damages.

Finally, establishing a standard in which “no finding of wrongdoing is required” to levy fines against historical actions that were (and still are) legally permitted sets a dangerous precedent for what governments can do, not only to businesses that have produced fossil fuels but also to individuals who have consumed them.

Cato research associate Joshua Loucks contributed to this post.

Originally published by the Cato Institute. Republished with permission under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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