Greece

The Seven Broken Taboos Of The Cyprus Deal

From a European perspective, the list of broken taboos and assumptions continues to grow. The euro’s core founding principles, based on the Maastricht Treaty’s “irrevocable” fixing of currency rates, and of the free movement of capital, have been violated. The euro will never be the same again; its preservation now depends urgently upon economic recovery. Without the delivery of economic growth, unemployment will rise to yet higher post-war record levels, and the widespread and growing disillusionment felt by EU citizens towards their economic regime will threaten to spill over into more explicit questioning of the euro’s suitability.

Cyprus President's Family Transferred Tens Of Millions To London Days Before Deposit Haircuts

A day after former Cypriot President Vassilou was found to be among many elite Cypriot (politicians and businessmen) who had loans written-off by the major (now insolvent) banks; it appears the rot is far fouler than expected. In a somewhat stunning (or purely coincidental) revelation, ENETEnglish reports that Cypriot newspaper Haravgi claims that current President Nicos Anastasiades' family businesses transferred 'dozens of millions' from their Laiki Bank accounts to London just a week before the devastating depositor haircuts were unleashed upon his people. Of course, the denials are loud and Anastasiades has demanded an investigation into the claims; we are sure the government-selected 'independent' committee will be as thorough as the Libor anti-trust investigators. As a reminder, as we noted yesterday, here are Cyprus' gun control laws.

Cyprus Parliament President Says "No Future" Under Troika, Calls For "Iceland" Solution

Just last week Yiannakis Omirou, Cypriot House of Representatives President, was calling for the nation to accept it is "time for responsibility" as they progressed towards a final solution; and yet today, as Cyprus' Famagusta reports, he believes the 'Troika-imposed' responsibility will, "turn Cyprus into a colony of the worst possible type." His 'Icelandic' solution is to "leave the Troika and EMS behind," to ensure "national independence, national sovereignty, moral integrity, and economic independence." He may have a point; judging from the chart below of the Troika's poster-child Greece, relative to Iceland, things are not going so well. As Omirou ominously concludes, "if we remain bound by the Troika and the memorandum Cyprus’ destiny is already foretold and there will be no future."

25 Lessons From The Cyprus 'Deal'

There are many lessons and implications from the Cypriot crisis (we list 25 here). Among the most important is that conditionality is back, energetically, which is very important when considering the circumstances under which other, bigger, countries might access ESM or OMT. We believe, like BNP's James Mortimer-Lee, that the market has been too complacent, seeing OMT and “whatever it takes” as unconditional – that’s wrong. A second lesson is that a harsher line is being taken by the core. This partly reflects more effective firewalls, so that core countries are more willing to “burn” the private sector, where doing so does not represent a serious systemic risk. Cyprus may not be a template, but we have seen enough to glimpse what the new pan eurozone bank resolution system could look like. Risk for certain classes of stakeholders in banks has risen. We are a long way from seeing the eurozone crisis resolved.

Political Fallout Begins: Former Cyprus President Named In Loan Write-Offs Leading To Banking Insolvency

A few days ago, when news hit that Cyprus has begun investigating who the people were who had managed to pull cash out of nation's insolvent banks, both during the capital control "blackout" period and previously, we asked "how much longer will the rule of law remain in Cyprus once full blown class warfare is unleashed, and the 99% are generously handed the list of the 1% who were "informed" enough to pull their money from the flaming sovereign equivalent of Bernie Madoff, while every other uninsured depositor is facing losses of up to 80%, and soon 100%?" We may get the answer much sooner than expected, as the first iteration of this list: one naming the beneficiaries of millions of loans written off by the now insolvent Cyprus banks and therefore indirectly responsible for the "impairment" of the banks' depositors, was released yesterday by Greece's daily Ethnos newspaper. But what virtually assures substantial political fallout is that among the people listed is Cyprus' former president, George Vassiliou.

"Betray Your Bank Before Your Bank Betrays You"

Suddenly it should be dawning on a lot of Europeans that deposit-guarantee limits matter. In Slovenia, the maximum is 100,000 euros per depositor, the same as in Cyprus. (Deposit- insurance programs vary among the 17 countries that use the euro.) For a few days last week, it looked as if customers at Laiki and Bank of Cyprus would lose even some of their insured deposits, which would have been a sacrilege. That plan was scrapped, but could resurface elsewhere for all we know should some genius at the German Finance Ministry insist upon it. The one constant among bailouts of euro-area countries is that there is no rhyme or reason, much less fairness, in the way many details get worked out... So far, there have been no signs of a mass exodus in countries such as Italy or Spain. But deposit migrations can happen slowly, with lots of time passing before they appear in official statistics. Or maybe little will change and most bank customers will go on believing “it can’t happen here,” until one day it does.

On Behaving Badly

When governments begin doing things that are extreme and outside of the normal patterns of behavior then it is not a stretch to say that they are in trouble. They are responding this way because they are in a critical and perhaps life threatening situation. They do not tell the truth about sovereign finances and cover up everything at the ECB but they must be looking at the real numbers and experiencing some sort of epileptic fit. I would say that you can now speculate in Europe. I would say that you can bet in a manner no different than a casino. Actually no; I would say it is worse. You can put your money down and then the dealer can say, "New Rules, Game Change; all the money on the table is required for the House and it is now mine." If you had suspicions before; they have been confirmed. Anything, everything can and might be done and then justified by the unwillingness of the nations in Europe to pay for any more of a troubled country's difficulties. Whatever boundaries that existed have been breached. There is no Law, no fences and no limits. First Greece and now Cyprus and Pandora has raised the lid on her Box.

Guest Post: Why Mr. Dijsselbloem Is Right And Cyprus Is A Template For The Eurozone

Far from being a unique situation, the fragile exposure of unsecured depositors across the Euro zone is the norm; and their fragility was further increased in the last twelve months thanks to policies created by the same authorities who now refuse to honor their promise of a banking union, and instead impose capital controls, which have effectively destroyed any credibility on the safety of capital in the Euro zone. However, even if one accepts my view, the unintended outcome begs the following question: Why was there cheap money available for subordinated debt holders to cash out, but there is none now to protect the savings of depositors?

When Will Deposit Haircuts Take Place In Other European Countries?

When all is said and done, what happened in Cyprus over the past two weeks, is nothing but the culmination of re-marking the "assets" in the country's financial system (which as noted previously, were a preponderance of worthless Greek bonds and countless other non-performing loans), long priced at assorted "myth" levels, to a long overdue reality. As a result of delaying resolving the mismatch between non-performing assets and liabilities for years, the resolution was one which saw some €16 billion of the total asset base impaired, which in turn necessitated the impairment of billions of deposits: the primary liability funding the Cypriot financial system. Furthermore, as a result of the "Freudian Slip" by the Eurogroup's new head earlier this week, we know that Cyprus will be the template for all future bank resolutions, which seek to avoid a government vote and proceed to restructuring the banking sector a la carte, by liquidating bad banks and impairing liabilities to the point where the balance sheet is once again viable (however briefly). The bottom line is that at its core, it is all simply a bad debt problem, and the more the bad debt, the greater the ultimate liability impairments become, including deposits. Which means that the real question in Europe is: how much impairment capacity is there in the various European nations before deposits have to be haircut? Thanks to Credit Suisse we now know the answer.

Is The Collapse Of Cyprus Due To This Man?

Pinning the blame for the collapse of the Cypriot banking system (and the country itself) on the shoulders of one man may seem harsh but Laiki Bank's chief risk officer Dimitris Spanodimos represents the tip of the spear of mass delusion that encompasses most (if not all) of Europe. Cypriot banks had been swamped with deposits courtesy of their cozy relationship with Russia and this left them with, in Spanodimos' words, "comfortable liquidity and capital position to deepen selectively some highly profitable and highly promising client relationships." In short, they had so much excess that they had to invest it somewhere and given the regulators light tough (which gave the banks a clean bill of health through 2011), they bought Greek government debt and extending huge amounts of mortgage loans (in Greece and Cyprus). So, as the WSJ reports, while everyone else was purging, Spanadimos had swallowed the red pill and decided his banks' gorging on extremely risky investments was tolerable - until of course the EU pulled the plug with the haircuts from the Greek bailout. These losses, and the need for new capital, is why Cyprus needed a bailout - so who is to blame...

Europe's Collapse Of Confidence In One Chart

Those who were transfixed by whether Cypriots would rumble and unleash their anger at the €300/day dispensing ATMs formerly known as bank branches this morning, may have missed what probably was the most important monthly chart coming out of Europe - that showing aggregate money (M3) growth and, far more importantly, loan creation. Those who did pay attention will know that in February M3 grew quite obediently in a Eurozone flush with cash, this time by a respectable €15 billion, or 3.1% y/y, after €37 billion in January (of which, however a whopping €47 billion was M1 so the balance actually declined). Of course, this was the easy part: creating money via various central bank conduits has never been the issue: the concern has always been getting that money into private consumer hands through loan creation. And it is here that things just keep on getting worse by the day. Because in a continent in which there is no confidence whatsoever: no confidence in the banks, no confidence in the financial system, no confidence in end demand, no confidence in any reported data, no confidence that one's deposits won't be confiscated tomorrow, and last but not least no confidence that a sovereign nation won't just hand over its sovereignty to the Troika tomorrow, nobody is willing to take on additional loans and obligations. This can be seen in the dramatic divergence between European money creation (blue line), and the bank lending to the private sector (brown), which is at or near an all time record year over year low. So much for restoring confidence in Europe.

Cyprus - The Answer Is Uniastrum

It's funny how things are done in Europe. Nothing is as it seems. Then everything is orchestrated to try to get you to believe what they want you to believe. The Cyprus fiasco is one good example. The Dutch FinMin broke ranks and spoke the truth; there is now a template in Europe for financial bail-outs which include losses for bond holders and depositors. The ECB had almost all of its members deny that there was any template. Then Spain denied, Portugal was on the tape so many times yesterday denying that you thought it was the newest Cadillac commercial and then virtually every other country in Europe had somebody in the Press with their own denials. "One-off" was the word of the day and the giant European propaganda machine worked well into the night. The problem is the way these things work. The reporters, from any news agency, are handed out stuff from the government. They have to publish it. There is no choice. But why are the Russians not quite so upset as they were at the beginning of the crisis. The answer to this question is Uniastrum bank...

Another Overnight Levitation Ramp

The BTFD mantra is alive and well in a market, where futures overnight briefly dipped to a low of -0.5% only to be set to open at record high, following the biggest one day drubbing in China in months, where the Shanghai Composite closed -2.82% after new rules were issued by the Chinese banking regulator to limit the expansion and improve the transparency of so-called “wealth management products”. The products, which are marketed as higher yielding alternatives to bank deposits, are often used to fund risky projects including property developments, short-term corporate lines of credit or for speculative purchases of commodities and have been identified as contributing to the rise of shadow-banking in China’s financial system. As Deutsche reports, Fitch estimates the total amount of outstanding wealth-management products was around 13 trillion yuan at the end of last year—equal to about 15% of total banking-system deposits. Japanese equities were also weaker overnight (Nikkei –1.3%) and the yen is 0.3% firmer against the dollar after BoJ Governor Kuroda told parliament that he has no intention of buying foreign bonds because doing so could be seen as currency intervention. Finally, South Korea informally entered the currency wars after it slashed its GDP forecast from 3% to mid-2%, announcing it would use "interest rates" to boost growth, which naturally means use of monetary means and directly challenging the BOJ.