With Russia "Demanding Cyprus Out Of The Eurozone" Here Is A List Of Possible Russian Punitive ReprisalsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/24/2013 11:06 -0500
As has been made abundantly clear on these pages since the breakout of the latest Cyprus crisis, the Russian policy vis-a-vis its now former Mediterranean offshore deposit haven-cum-soon to be naval base, has been a simple one: let the country implode on the heels of the Eurozone's latest humiliating policy faux pas, so that Putin can swoop in, pick up assets (including those of a gaseous nature, much to Turkey's chagrin) for free, while being welcome like the victorious Russian red army saving Cyprus from its slavedriving European overlords (a strategy whose culmination Merkel has very generously assisted with). Curiously there had been some confusion about Russia's "noble" motives in Cyprus (seemingly forgetting that in Realpolitik, as in love and war, all is fair). We hope all such confusion can now be put to rest following the clarification by Jorgo Hatzimarkakis, the German Euro deputy of Greek origin, who told Skai television on Sunday morning that Russia did not want Cyprus to stay in the eurozone.
A few moments ago, no bailout proposal in hand, no parliamentary discussion having taken place, and certainly no votes having been cast, the Eurogroup sat down with Cyprus' president Anastasiades, in order to preserve the "democratic" theatrical facade of European decisionmaking. Here, to keep up appearances that Cyprus' opinion is even remotely relevant, Europea's unelected leaders will do what they does best - make a closed door decision affecting the lives of millions of people, which ultimately have one purpose: to preserve the crumbling edifice of the Eurozone project (so carefully preserved in the past few months with superglue, scotch tape and empty promises) and of course the jobs and livelihoods of a few unelected EUrocrats. A preview of this elaborate song and dance ritual is below from Kathimerini. It will be next followed by an even more elaborate song and dance from the Eurozone finance ministers, which will then finally go back to Cyprus, where a decision will likely have to be reached ahead of the Asian FX market open, or all that late Friday "Cyprus is saved" enthusiasm will evaporate in a GETCO millisecond.
As we recently discussed, many euroskeptics are pushing Cypriot lawmakers to default, devalue, and decouple from the Euro - understanding that the short-term pain of such a move will lead to much more sustainable gains afterwards. But BofAML raises the question of what damage (and required response) would occur in the remainder of the European Union should Cyprus leave (or be pushed ). Unlike some EU leaders suggestions, BofAML suggests the contagion and growth impacts could last a decade; but it is the policy reaction of the ECB that is most crucial to understand and how it may rapidly lead to a German decision on debt mutualization (or not) that should be most concerning.
Up until just a week or so ago, the euro, the market seems to be telling us, has been saved, and peripheral Europe is widely seen as being out of the woods. Thanks to the ECB - who are willing to pump as much liquidity into the markets as it needs - it seems rising debt levels, greater political fragmentation, and a worsening economy somehow don't really matter and it is impolitic to sound pessimistic. But is peripheral Europe really suffering primarily from a liquidity crisis? It would help me feel a lot better if I could find even one case in history of a sovereign solvency crisis in which the authorities didn’t assure us for years that we were facing not a solvency crisis, but merely a short-term problem with liquidity. A sovereign solvency crisis always begins with many years of assurances from policymakers in both the creditor and the debtor nations that the problem can be resolved with time, confidence, and a just few more debt rollovers. The key point is that bankers are not stupid. They just could not formally acknowledge reality until they had built up sufficient capital through many years of high earnings – thanks in no small part to the help provided by the Fed in the form of distorted yield curves and free money – to recognize the losses without becoming insolvent.
Given Cyprus' contentious relationship with the Eurozone... Perhaps it will consider going the full monti and taking a page out of the full Iceland playbook
Former Cyprus Central Bank Head And Senior Fed Economist: "The European Project Is Crashing To Earth"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/23/2013 10:21 -0500
Back in August 2011, one of the most prescient European (ex) central bankers, Cyprus' very own Athanasios Orphanides was optimistic, but with a caveat: "I am optimistic that with the right actions and effort by all we will pull through this," Orphanides told reporters after a meeting with Finance Minister Kikis Kazamias. They were Orphanides' first public comments since warning authorities in a July 18, 2011 letter that Cyprus ran the risk of requiring an EU bailout unless urgent action was taken to shore up its finances." Two years later, following endless dithering and pretense that just because the ECB has stabilized the markets, all is well, and "action was being taken" when none was, Cyprus is beyond the bailout stage - it is now quite literally on the verge of total collapse. This is also why Orphanides, who recently quit as Central Banker of Cyprus following a clash with the new communist government (and was replaced by a guy named Panicos), no longer is optimistic. "The European project is crashing to earth,” Athanasios Orphanides told the Financial Times in an interview. "This is a fundamental change in the dynamics of Europe towards disintegration and I don’t see how this can be reversed.”
Cyprus Deposit Levy Vote Delayed, Will Go "Down To The Wire" As Up To 70% Deposit Tax Contemplated For SomeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/23/2013 07:58 -0500
While GETCO's algos were poised to set off a buying tsunami yesterday the millisecond a flashing red headline hit Bloomberg with even the hint or suggestion that Cyprus is fixed, we said to sit back and relax because Cyprus "will get no resolution today, or tomorrow, and may at best be resolved on Sunday night following yet another coordinated global bailout, (although our money is on a last, last minute resolution some time on Monday when Cyprus is closed but the European markets are widely open)." As it turns out, we were right, following reports by major newswires that the vote on the deposit levy will only take place (if at all) on Sunday night, after the Eurozone finance ministers' meeting on Sunday. The reason for the delay? Deciding how to best bring the news to Russian, and other wealthy depositors, that not only will they not have access to their funds for a long, long time, the ultimate haircut on what they thought was safe, easily accessible cash as recently as a week ago, may be a stunning 70%!
Markets are remarkably schizophrenic about where risk is flowing... and where it isn’t. For example, ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, the CBOE VIX Index is up from 12.3 a month ago to a close of 14.0 yesterday. And other risk assets such as Emerging Markets, U.S. Small Caps, Energy names, and developed economy international stocks all show higher 'VIXs' over the same 30 day period. But... and it’s a big 'But'... just as many sectors/asset classes in our tracking universe show declines in their 'VIXs'. The most pronounced are domestic Consumer Discretionary, Utilities, and Tech names as well as precious metals and High Yield Corporate bonds, where Implied Vols are 6-17% lower this month and in most cases are at/near 52 week lows. If you are looking for spots where volatility might make a comeback, these are good places to start. This market reminds us of an old joke: Question: What do you call a person who is both ignorant and apathetic? Answer: I don’t know and I don’t care.
While it is unknown if the Cypriot parliament will agree to, and enact into law, the Troika-demanded deposit haircuts, after the shocking vote of mutiny against Merkel earlier this week that saw not one politician vote for the Europe suggested deposit tax levy (and even the ruling party abstained), a vote which will once more take place tomorrow, moments ago Cyprus became the first Eurozone country to officially implement governmental capital controls into legislation. At this point it had no choice: whatever happens with the deposit haircut, or with everything else, it is now inevitable that the local Cypriots will do all they can to pull as much money from domestic banking system as possible following the complete loss of faith and trust in banks, which is why the government had no choice but to intervene with its own "controls." Sadly, this marks a milestone in the development of the Eurozone - it's all downhill, and accelerating, from here.
It seems that the Cypriot government is going full circle on its plans to save its nation and its people. As UK Think Tank Open Europe notes, "it now seems we have come all the way back round to the deposit levy as a solution in Cyprus. Overnight, the EU/IMF/ECB Troika rejected the plans for a Cypriot solidarity fund, particularly one based on pension assets and gas reserve revenues (which German Chancellor Angela Merkel specifically spoke out against)." The new - Plan 'D' - (Plan A - Haircuts; Plan B - Beg Russia for Bailout; Plan C - Solidarity Fund) appears to be moar haircuts and double-dip on the large depositors (seemingly what Brussels wants anyway). Plan 'D' - a restructuring and bigger deposit levy (a 12.2% tax on deposits above €500,000 or a 9.46% deposit on deposits above €100,000 would yield the necessary €3.5bn) - "may amount to trying to burn the larger depositors twice," as the plan to shift bad assets to a bad bank (along with the large uninsured depositors) and wound down (meaning 20-40% losses) and still face the initial large-deposit-tax - leaving the Russians large depositors with 50%-plus losses. As the FT notes, "that may make sense in the medium term, but in itself does not create new money"
One of the most interesting issues of what has happened in Cyprus is where was the problem three weeks ago? There was not a mention, not a hint of anything that was wrong. All of the banks in Cyprus had passed each and every European bank stress test. The numbers reported out by the ECB and the Bank for International Settlements indicated nothing and everything reported by any official organization in the European Union pointed to a stable and sound fiscal and monetary policy and conditions. The IMF, who monitors these things as well, did not have Cyprus or her banks on any kind of watch list. In just two weeks' time we have gone from not a mention of Cyprus to a crisis in Cyprus because none of the official numbers were accurate. Without doubt, without question, if this can happen in Cyprus then it could happen in any other country in the Eurozone because the uncounted liabilities are systemic to the whole of Europe.
It was May in 2010 that Greece suffered its first bailout by its Eurozone peers. At that moment it effectively went bankrupt, however it took nearly three years for reality to set in. Yet it wasn't until months later that Greece's smaller (as we are constantly reminded) neighbor was first downgraded from its legacy "pristine" status, by the jokes that are the "Big 3" credit rating agencies. That downgrade unleashed an "waterfall of reality", shown exquisitely on the chart below culminating with yesterday's S&P cut of the island nation to CCC from CCC+, which is only comparable to the boom to bust ratings of CDS issued in early 2007 only to see full loss a few months later. How long until one or more agencies push the country to the dreaded "D" line?
The wave of social unrest that rumbled across Europe between 2008 and 2011 has become less intense. This has come as a cause for relief in financial markets, as it has helped to underpin the marginalization of ‘tail risk’ already addressed by the ECB and the Greek debt restructuring. And yet the latest crisis over the Cyprus bail-out/bail-in not only shoots an arrow into the heart of the principles of an acceptable banking union arrangement, if it could ever be agreed, but also signifies the deep malaise in the complex and fragile trust relationships between European citizens and their governments and institutions. Some people argue that protest, nationalist and separatist movements are just ‘noise’, that the business of ‘fixing Europe’ is proceeding regardless, and that citizens are resigned to the pain of keeping the Euro system together. UBS' George Magnus is not convinced, even if public anger is less acute now than in the past, it is far from dormant, and its expression is mostly unpredictable. So is the current lull in social unrest a signal that the social fabric of Europe is more robust than we thought, or (as we suggested 14 months ago) is the calm deceptive?
It may be that a larger correction is in order given that some important global powers are struggling. Money printing by itself isn’t cure-all for what ails us.
Friday not much is happening beyond Cyprus tensions—how fun!
Let’s see what happens.
Official Haircuts for Depositors.