Greece

"All The Conditions For A Total Disaster Are In Place"

The Cyprus bailout package tax on bank deposits is a deeply dangerous policy that creates a new situation, more perilous than ever. It is a radical change that potentially undermines a perfectly reasonable deposit guarantee and the euro itself. Historians will one day explore the dark political motives behind this move. Meanwhile, we can only hope that the bad equilibrium that has just been created will not be chosen by anguished depositors in Spain and Italy. The really worrisome scenario is that the Cypriot bailout becomes euro-systemic – in which case the collapse of the Cypriot economy will be a sideshow. This will happen when and if depositors in troubled countries, say Italy or Spain, take notice of how fellow depositors were treated in Cyprus. All the ingredients of a self-fulfilling crisis are now in place: It will be individually rational to withdraw deposits from local banks to avoid the remote probability of a confiscatory tax. As depositors learn what others do and proceed to withdraw funds, a bank run will occur. The banking system will collapse, requiring a Cyprus-style programme that will tax whatever is left in deposits, thus justifying the withdrawals. This would probably be the end of the euro.

 

Lesson 1: Greece; Lesson 2: Cyprus - Pay Attention

Deposit Insurance at a bank, any bank in Europe, is now meaningless. A bond indenture, any clause, any paragraph, any promise or assurance; now meaningless. The notion of private property, land, cash, house; now meaningless. The European Union will take what they want as they deem it necessary and the IMF will follow along. The question has been asked, during the last few days, why the bond holders of Cyprus were not tagged along with the bank deposits. We can answer the question. Virtually all of the Cyprus sovereign debt is governed under British law and so the EU did not pursue this course. Greece came first. Lesson one and "shame on you." Cyprus comes second and now "shame on me." What will come next? What will you tell your partners or your shareholders when they say, "You should have known." You will have no excuse!

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."

Monetary Metals's picture

The root of the problem is the manufacture of counterfeit credit. Examples of counterfeit credit include Greek government bonds... Depositors are paid the lowest interest rate of all, and in return are promised to be made whole, even if it means every other class in the capital structure is utterly wiped out. In Cyprus, they were not. This reckless and politically-expedient decision has consequences.

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.

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...

Guest Post: Why Europe Is Still In Peril, In Two Charts

A lot of analysts have given the European situation a rest since last year. There were certainly some 'market' signs that the ECB and IMF had slowed (if not stopped) the deterioration by providing liquidity backstops to the addled banking system. But perhaps that was just the calm before the storm. In truth, things were still probably just as perilous as ever up until yesterday when the ECB and IMF decided to start a banking panic by enforcing a haircut of up to 10% on bank depositors. That was literally the stupidest thing that anyone has done since the Euro crisis began, and while it may not lead to utter disaster, there is a significant chance that it will. If bank runs materialise across Europe next week, the unemployment situation is most likely to worsen even further. If that happens, expect more and more unemployed, underemployed and angry Europeans to start voting for increasingly radical political parties. This is suicidal.

Meanwhile, Greeks Are Celebrating...

A short trip across the sea from the debacle occurring in Cyprus and it appears the tension is rising up in Greece once again. It is well known that Golden Dawn 'nazi' party won a surprising and disconcerting number of parliamentary seats at the last election, and the massively unstable size of Greece's youth unemployment continues to spell trouble; but, now Greece's most popular sport - soccer (football) - is infected by the increasingly nationalist fervor. As Fox reports, national soccer player Giorgos Katidis has been banned for life from playing for Greece after giving a Nazi salute while celebrating a goal this weekend. Cited as "a deep insult to all victims of Nazi brutality," the striker took to twitter (@GiwrgosKatidis) to proclaim his innocence of the meaning of the gesture (you decide in the image and clip below) - right arm extended and hand straightened - adding that he detests fascism. The question now is - when does the Cyprus soccer team play next? as it seems the peripheral European nations are starting to wake up to the Union's reality and the haircut is the next catalyst.

JPMorgan Asks "Has Europe Bazookaed Itself In The Foot", Answers "Yes"

"Has Europe bazookaed itself in the foot? Even if we avoid a negative outcome this week, events in Cyprus invite broader questions about the region’s commitment, repeated ad nauseum since June to ‘break the feedback loop between sovereigns and banks’. The IMF warned as recently as Friday that the Euro area lacked an effective deposit guarantee framework (before agreeing to a haircut that adroitly proves its point). The Cypriot package reinforces the fact that existing deposit guarantee schemes are only as strong as the sovereign which backs them; something which is unlikely to go unnoticed in the rest of the region (although we think specific contagion risks are limited near-term). Other EU member states will likely be affected, there are significant numbers of UK depositors in Cypriot banks, some of whom the UK has now promised to protect (with echoes of the Icesave situation), and some potential contagion channels may not be obvious. It is notable that German policy-makers have been insisting on Cyprus’ significant ‘systemic relevance’ over recent days while pushing a package that may test it."

Cyprus Bank Holiday Extended Through Tuesday As Confusion Spreads

For those who read the previous article on the topic of last minute chaos and confusion in Cyprus, and Europe, it will come as no surprise that the previously scheduled Monday bank holiday (aka Green Monday) has been extended into Tuesday. So prepare to not be surprised. "The Cypriot cabinet has declared Tuesday a bank holiday, for fear of capital flight, and this may even be stretched to Wednesday, as depositors are certain to withdraw huge sums from the Cypriot banks after the haircut imposed." So, if the official name of the March 18 holiday was "Green Monday", will the March 19th ad hoc holiday be called "Red Tuesday"? Inquiring minds want to know.

Cyprus Parliament To Delay "Rescue" Vote Due To Lack Of Support, Despite ECB Pressure For Pre-Trade Open Decision

The painfully shortsighted Cyprus bail-out, pardon bail-in (also known as wealth tax to those who are actually doing the in-bailing), plan is going from bad to worse. Because in addition to all the previously discussed macro-implications, all of which are adverse and have the full potential of destabilizing the Eurozone once more and lead to bank runs across not only the periphery but the core as well, especially by offshore (read Russian) depositors, there is now a risk that the entire hurriedly-cobbled together "plan" may be on the verge of failure as it may not get a majority vote in domestic ratification. Today, at 4pm local (2pm GMT) the Cypriot parliament was scheduled to meet to vote through and ratify the tax levy plan, presented as a fait accompli at least by the Eurozone FinMins. A few hours ago, this meeting was delayed until 4 pm local on Monday "after signs lawmakers could block the surprise move.... If [parliament fails to ratify the bail-in], President Nicos Anastasiades has warned, Cyprus's two largest banks will collapse." And so the late hour scramble to procure enough vote to pass the depositor impairment begins as the alternative is simply "or else." 

Germany And IMF's Initial Deposit Haircut Demand: 40% Of Total

As the President of Cyprus proclaims  to his people that "we' should all take responsibility as his historic decision will "lead to the permanent rescue of the economy," it appears that the settled-upon 9.9% haircut is a 'good deal' compared to the stunning 40% of total deposits that Germany's FinMin Schaeuble and the IMF demanded. This action, his statement notes, enables the rescue of 8,000 banking sector jobs and ensuring the liquidity of the banks, "allowing the economy to proceed decisively to a new beginning." Ekathimerini reports," this is the first time in the eurozone that a levy has been imposed not on the interest of bank accounts but on the capital itself," and was the only way to bridge most of the the gap between the EUR17bn Nicosia needed and the EUR10bn the ESM was offering, though tax on interest in Cypriot banks will also rise to 20-25%. It is the 40% haircut requirement that concerns us the most as clearly going forward that means other nations, starting Monday (or Tuesday given national holidays) see deposit outflows surge, as the willingness to take such steps is now painfully clear.

For Everyone Shocked By What Just Happened... And Why This Is Just The Beginning

Today, lots of people woke up in shock and horror to what happened in Cyprus: a forced capital reallocation mandated by political elites under the guise of an "equity investment" in insolvent banks, which is really code for a "coercive, mandatory wealth tax." If less concerned about political correctness, one could say that what just happened was daylight robbery from savers to banks and the status quo. These same people may be even more shocked to learn that today's Cypriot "resolution" is merely the first of many such coercive interventions into personal wealth, first in Europe, and then everywhere else. For the benefit of those people, we wish to point them to our article from September 2011, "The "Muddle Through" Has Failed: BCG Says "There May Be Only Painful Ways Out Of The Crisis", which predicted and explained all of this and much more. What else did the September BCG study conclude? Simply that such mandatory, coercive wealth tax is merely the beginning for a world in which there was some $21 trillion in excess debt as of 2009, a number which has since balooned to over $30 trillion. And with inflation woefully late in appearing and "inflating away" said debt overhang, Europe first is finally moving to Plan B, and is using Cyrprus as its Guniea Pig. For those who missed it the first time, here it is again