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Goldman's Cyprus Post-Post-Mortem: "A Depositor “Bail-In” – And/Or – A Wealth Tax"

Can't get enough of Cyprus? Then here is yet another post-post-mortem from Goldman's Jernej Omahen, once more trying to put some very silvery lining on this particular mushroom cloud, and providing some useful facts in the process. "As part of its rescue package, Cyprus introduced a one-off tax on deposits. This “tax” can be viewed as both (1) a depositor bail-in, and/or (2) a wealth tax. Cyprus aims to capture €5.8 bn of tax revenue in this way, which compares to the total bailout package of €10 bn. In absolute terms, the amounts are low; regardless, the market focus on potential read-across will be high, in our view. The tax on depositors is setting a precedent, which is likely to have an impact beyond the immediate term, in our view. Resilience of, in particular, retail deposits was an important element of stability during crisis peaks (e.g., Spain). Post the Cyprus precedent, however, it is reasonable to expect that the deposit volatility in stressed sovereigns could rise, for two reasons: firstly, perceived risk of deposit bail-in will have increased; secondly (independent of failing bank issues), perceiving savings as a potential tax-base – for wealth taxes – is new."



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Frontrunning: March 18

  • Cypriot Bank Levy Is ‘Ominous’ for Bondholders, Barclays Says (BBG)
  • Euro, Stocks Drops; Gold, German Bonds Rally on Cyprus (BBG)
  • Total chaos:Cyprus tries to rework divisive bank tax (Reuters)
  • More total chaos: Cyprus Prepares New Deposit-Tax Proposal (WSJ)
  • Euro Slides Most in 14 Months on Cyprus Turmoil; Yen Strengthens (BBG)
  • Osborne to admit fresh blow to debt target (FT)
  • Even the Finns are giving up: Finnish Government May Relinquish Deficit Target to Boost Growth (BBG)
  • Moody’s Sees Defaults as PBOC Warns on Local Risks (BBG)
  • Australia Faces ‘Massive Hit’ to Government Revenue, Swan Says (BBG)
  • Inside a Warier Fed, Watch the New Guy (Hilsenrath)
  • Obama to Tap Perez for Labor Secretary (WSJ) - and with that the "minorities" quota is full
  • Finally, this should be good: BuzzFeed to Launch Business Section (WSJ)


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"Depositor Repression" May Spread To Swizterland, EURCHF Spikes

Moments ago we got news that the same kind of "depositor repression" aka wealth tax just implemented in Cyprus over the weekend, may spread to other stability and deposit havens. Such as Switzerland. Just before 7 am Eastern, the SNB's Moder, who is an alternative board member, said on the wires that the SNB will not exclude negative interest rates, which followed earlier comments from the IMF that the SNB should have negative rates if there is a renewed surge in the Swissie, and a plunge in the EURCHF, as has happened as the Euro has tumbled. Sure enough, the EURCHF soared on news that even Europe's last remaining deposit bastion is about to be impaired, because all negative rates are is an ongoing deposit confiscation, instead of a one-time "levy" as per Cyprus.



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News Russia May Reconsider Cyprus Bailout Role, Bailout Vote Delay Crushes Overnight Ramp Attempt

As expected, it is all about Cyprus this morning, and overnight, and just as naturally it wouldn't be a centrally-planned market without the generic BTFD overnight ramp attempt, which we got from the EURUSD, as the pair rose from sub 1.29 to 1.2973, which also pushed the US futures up to nearly fill half the overnight gap lower. Citi explained this, observing the "EUR/USD squeezed higher on reports Cyprus bailout terms may be eased, CitiFX Wire says", but it did add that "selling was likely to materialize; flow has 60% bias in favor of downside, Seeing heavy net selling, mainly from leveraged funds." Naturally, the market does what it does best - clutches at straws, although not even this centrally-planned market could ignore news that today's Cyprus parliament vote has been cancelled, that banks will likely remain closed tomorrow, and that a vote may not happen until Friday, which likely means the bank holiday is about to stretch to one week, and possibly much longer as Cyprus is terrified to open its banks to the fury of scrambling "bank-runners." Things started to get interesting following another RIA report citing finance minister Siluanov, that Russia may reconsider its role in the Cyprus rescue following the bank tax. Siluanov added that bank tax breaks the plan for joint steps on Cyprus and that the decision was made without Russia.



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RANsquawk EU Market Re-Cap - 18th March 2013



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The Rape Of Cyprus By The European Union & The IMF

Let's get some things straight and look what has happened directly in the face. There was no tax on the bank accounts in Cyprus. There still is no tax; the Cyprus Parliament has not passed it and will not vote on it until tomorrow so whatever action takes place it is retroactive. Next, this was not enacted by Cyprus. The people from Nicosia did not go to the Summit and ask to have the bank accounts in their country minimized to help pay the bills. Far from it; the nations of Europe, Germany, France, the Netherlands and the rest, demanded that this take place, a "fait accompli," the President of Cyprus said and Europe annexes Cyprus. Let's be quite clear; the European Union has confiscated the private property of the citizens in Cyprus without debate, legislation or Parliamentary agreement. Pay attention please. The European Union and the European Central Bank and the IMF have just advocated the confiscation of private property for their own indulgence.



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Wall Street: $474 Million, Detroit: 0

The more time passes, the more skeletons emerge from the closet.  So what’s the punishment for an industry that has literally destroyed countless communities across the American landscape?  Trillions in taxpayer bailouts and even more control over our government.  They say “it would’ve been much worse without the bailouts.”  Tell that to Detroit...



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Sell-Side Strategists Summarize Cypriot Tsunami

The usually optimistic bunch of salubrious sell-side strategists are mixed in their perspective of the latest debacle to roll ashore from Europe. Most, if not quite all, expect short-term 'nervousness' and a few hardy Pollyannas remain though looking at the other end of the rainbow - once again because, drum roll please, "central banks will respond." Adding to our summary yesterday, Bloomberg adds another 13 sell-side opinions (and Moody's), it the diversity of response is perhaps best glimpsed with one who "does not expect savers to be fearful of a confiscation of their savings and spark a run on banks" for some whimsical reason and another states unequivocally, "No sensible foreign depositor would continue to keep money in a banking system that just took nearly 10% of his deposit without any notice."



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Where 'Channel-Stuffed' German Cars Go To Die

With the collapse of Europe's auto market, and the channel-stuffing that is rife in every car manufacturer in the world, it is no surprise that at the end of their brief lease periods, European cars (Audi in this case) are being led to this 'graveyard' in Germany (70 miles north of Munich). This car park of chaos is full of nearly-new cars meant for destruction so as never to enter the car market as a cheap alternative and to maintain a high-priced spare parts market. It seems the Keynesian profligacy or digging a hole to fill it in has progressed in the 21st century to building a car and crushing that car as the engine of growth for our economies.



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Cyprus: The World’s Biggest "Poker Game"

While this kind of 'wealth tax' has been predicted, as we noted yesterday, this stunning move in Cyprus is likely only the beginning of this process (which seems only stoppable by social unrest now). To get a sense of both what just happened and what its implications are, RBS has put together an excellent summary of everything you need to know about what the Europeans did, why they did it, what the short- and medium-term market reaction is likely to be, and the big picture of this "toxic policy error." As RBS summarizes, "the deal to effectively haircut Cypriot deposits is an unprecedented move in the Euro crisis and highlights the limits of solidarity and the raw economics that somebody has to pay. It is also the most dangerous gambit that EMU leaders have made to date." And so we await Europe's open and what to expect as the rest of the PIIGSy Banks get plundered.



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Russia Sending Permanent Warship Fleet To Mediterranean: Is A Russian Naval Base In Cyprus Coming Next?

That Russia has previously threatened, and followed through with, sending ships to the Mediterranean is nothing new. In the past, every such episode was related to the protection of what Putin considered vital geopolitical interests in the region: whether defending the Syrian port of Tartus, various crude and natural gas pipelines in the region threatened by NATO expansion in Turkey, or offsetting heightened US presence around Gaza and Israel (and of course Iran). Which is why with the legacy conflicts in the region dormant, and the only news of any relevance being the European intervention in Cyprus against Russian oligarch interests, it is surprising we learn today that the Russian Navy will dispatch a permanent fleet of five or six combat ships to the Mediterranean Sea, with frigates and cruisers making up the core of the fleet... How soon until we read that Russia is willing to invest even more unguaranteed loans into the Cypriot financial system.... in exchange for one little tiny naval and/or military base?



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Stolpered Out

Four months after we made our call to short the living daylights out of Cable following the announcement that Goldman's Mark Carney is coming and is getting ready to crucify the BOE's balance sheet, we were confused: +1400 pips in our favor, it appeared the profit bonanza could never end and yet we didn't want to get too greedy. And then came none other than the most invaluable analyst on Wall Street, Goldman's Tom Stolper, who made our decision easy. Last Monday, the man who bats between 0.000 and 0.050 boldly went where he had been so many times before, and said to go long EURGBP on "monetary policy and current account differentials" with a stop loss of 85.70. Naturally, we read between the lines. Sure enough, as of this posting, EURGBP is now 85.38, well below the designated stop loss, and over 200 pips in favor of those who, as usual, faded perhaps the worst FX "strategist" of all time. Which, incidentally, is why Stolper may well be the most valuable of his breed on Wall Street: rarely has there been man whose calls have made so much money for so many.



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S&P Futures Plunge To 1-Week Lows; Gold Jumps To 3-Week Highs

Given FX markets are double-dipping now, it is little surprise that S&P 500 futures open down 16 points from the 1553.5 close on Friday - a one-week low. This is the biggest close-to-open gap down since May 2012. Treasury Futures just opened implying a 1.94% 10Y (-5bps) and 3.16% 30Y (-5bps). And despite the USD strength, spot gold just opened also up from $1591.95 to $1607. The arb against JPY carry is holding stocks for now... only another 8 hours until Europe opens... Over 38,000 contracts have traded in S&P 500 futures in the first 5 minutes ($2.9bn notional) - 30 times the average for a Sunday night... The initial dump was caught by a VWAP reverter but that is fading now... Japan's NKY looks set to open down around 500 points or so given JPY's strength.



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Angela "It's What's Right" Merkel Parody Paraded In Greece

Following Angela Merkel's address to her people this evening, explaining, "anyone having their money in Cypriot banks must contribute in the Cypriot bailout. That way those responsible will contribute in it, not only the taxpayers of other countries, and that's what is right," we thought it ironic that the people of Greece envisioned her in a slightly different light today during a parade in Patras. 'Union'? No tension here at all...



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Europe Scrambling With Last Minute Revision To Cyprus Deposit Confiscation Plan

If initially Europe came out as utterly deranged in its Cyprus deposit-confiscation scheme, at least it was consistent. Now, it appears that Europe is desperate to appear not only completely incompetent but also unable to even make a simple decision and stick with it, following news from both the WSJ and the FT that the original confiscation thresholds of 6.75% and 9.9% for deposits below and over €100,000 is about to be revised.



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