Saxo Bank CEO: "This Is Full-Blown Socialism And I Still Can't Believe It Happened"

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Lars Seier Christensen, CEO Saxo Bank; originally posted at his blog at,

It is difficult to describe the weekend bailout package to Cyprus in any other way. The confiscation of 6.75 percent of small depositors' money and 9.9 percent of big depositors' funds is without precedence that I can think of in a supposedly civilised and democratic society. But maybe the European Union (EU) is no longer a civilised democracy?

I heard rumours about this when I visited Limassol last week, but dismissed them as completely outlandish. And yet, here we are. The consequences are unpredictable, but we are clearly looking at a significant paradigm shift.

This is a breach of fundamental property rights, dictated to a small country by foreign powers and it must make every bank depositor in Europe shiver. Although the representatives at the bailout press conference tried to present this as a one-off, they were not willing to rule out similar measures elsewhere - not that it would have mattered much as the trust is gone anyway. It is now difficult to expect any kind of limitation to what measures the Troika and EU might take when the crisis really starts to bite.

If you can do this once, you can do it again. if you can confiscate 10 percent of a bank customer's money, you can confiscate 25, 50 or even 100 percent. I now believe we will see worse as the panic increases, with politicians desperately trying to keep the EUR alive.

Depositors in other prospective bailout countries must be running scared - is it safe to keep money in an Italian, Spanish or Greek bank any more? I dont know, must be the answer. Is it prudent to take the risk? You decide. I fear this will lead to massive capital outflows from weak Eurozone countries, just about the last thing they need right now. Even from the EU as a whole, I suspect, as the banking union is in place in most countries already.

Another open question is what will happen to the huge number of brokerages based in Cyprus? There is about 100 or more FX and other brokers currently operating under the relatively light Cypriot regulation. How will this impact the trustworthiness of these many small institutions? What IS the exact impact on the client deposits they might be holding in Cyprus? Will anyone dare to do business with them going forward?

This is a major, MAJOR game changer and the fallout will be with us for a long time to come. I believe it could be the beginning of the end for the Eurozone as this is an unbelievable blow to the already challenged trust that might be left among investors. Talk about a possible own goal.

Market reaction? it must be very good for gold - and for safe-haven countries like Switzerland, Singapore and economically more healthy non-Euro countries in, for example, Scandinavia. I would think the EUR and associated markets will be undermined by increasing lack of confidence when the full implications become clear for investors.

This is full-blown socialism and I still cannot believe this really happened.

Be careful out there...

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patb's picture

better to have a TOBIN Tax.  Tax transactions.

NotApplicable's picture

Civilised democracy??? LOL

XenoFrog's picture

End Game. Not even all the private deposits held by the people can cover the losses that the unaccountable bankers generate.

magpie's picture

Loot everything now as fast as you can...there will be no new credit forthcoming.

flacon's picture

I really hope it's good for gold and not some lousy excuse to ramp up the USD and squash gold yet again. I'm darn sick of this extended "correction". Same goes for silver. 

EscapeKey's picture

if you don't own gold as part of your portfolio by now, you're really rather short of an excuse.

form is temporary, class is permanent.

DJ Happy Ending's picture

This past month has been a great buying opportunity.

James_Cole's picture


CEO Lars Seier Christensen has no idea what socialism is...not surprising as most people, regardless of their title, are totally ignorant.

Junk me all you like but re-distributing wealth from the many to the few is actually a hallmark of corporatism and many others 'isms' but has nothing to do with socialism. 


Death and Gravity's picture

Hes a Randroid. Anything he doesn't like is Socialism, very Ameurrcan of him.

Joe Davola's picture

10% all at once or shave a little off every month by inject another $85 billion, end result looks pretty similar.

jeff montanye's picture

your point is well taken.  the difference is it is just possible to avoid a "depositor tax" to bail out the failures of bankers: don't have deposits.  inflation of a currency is harder but using precious metals can keep the pain to a minimum.

re: buying opportunities, miners of precious metals have rarely if ever been cheaper to the bullion, especially in what still appears to be a bull market in bullion with very supportive fundamentals.

tooktheredpill's picture

but but but... where's Draghi? was he at the meeting? didn't he say he would do aaaaaanything to save the euro? Maybe a journo heard it wrong and Draghi is going to add 10% to deposits? I'm sure he is just printing a few billion for the Russian's right now.

Lost My Shorts's picture

Earth to ZH ... come in ZH ...

What was the alternative here?

1) Do nothing; let the banks fail; deposit haircut likely greater than what was imposed by the EU/IMF, and the cash would be tied up for months or years meanwhile.

2) Put the entire burden on EU taxpayers.  We love that, right ??

3) Just print Euros.  We love it when Bernanke prints dollars.  Why can't they just print the dam cash !!!

I am surprised they haircut every single Euro, even in small accounts.  It would have been more fair to haircut only balances above some amount, by 20%.  But probably this was negotiated with the Russians, who preferred to put some of the pain on small fish in Cyprus.

NB. remember Bruce Krasting's post of last week that mentioned how Swiss private bankers "tax" black money in double-blind secret accounts by 5% per year, and that is paid happily.  Black money (most of the deposits in Cyprus, be real) expects some expenses.  10% one time is not so far outside the norm.  Especially if they are now allowed to move all the cash to sounder European banks, no questions asked, the Russian mobsters probably think it's a bargain.

PMakoi's picture

Good point, but it's still outright theft from savers to pay for the irresponsibility of banksters and governments.

EscapingProgress's picture

"Monetary fascism" is the most proper label for the current machine. It is certainly not socialism. There are, however, some aspects of socialism within fascism. Don't allow that to fool you though. Mr. Saxo Bank CEO is one of the top beneficiaries of the current paradigm. I don't know why he is complaining. Is he really too blind to see it?

EscapeKey's picture

You make a good point, but you really need to ask who originally were the target recipients of said borrowed wealth.

Cyprus run a budget deficit, and have been for years (briefly ran surpluses around 2007), and that's not counting bailouts, etc:

Public debt
€15.042 billion (84.0% of GDP; Q3 2012 est.)[10]
Budget deficit
€1.132 billion (6.3% of GDP; 2011 est.)[11]


Funny how countries with low debt/GDP ratios and deficits under control rarely get into this sort of trouble.

magpie's picture

They are being punished for buying Greek bonds with Russian money ?

EscapeKey's picture

reading through cyprus' budgets over the past few years, it would appear that public debts have increased faster than the (nominal) deficits. i guess they might have contracted the greek finance minister to "help" them pretty up the sheets, but perhaps they are kosher.

not sure what you mean though. budget deficits = excessive public spending. investors bought the bonds, and should not be immune to defaults, but that's post-fact.

James_Cole's picture

I don't know much about Cyprus economy but based on other 'modern economy' countries the target recipients of gov money are pretty much never the average joe on the street. That's always the claim but not the reality.

Anyone that understands what the Fed is doing can't seriously claim that Bernanke's aims are chiefly to lower unemployment and moderate inflation. 

Public debt in most modern economies is accumulated at the behest of the banks and then any bailouts that come in go to those institutions. Is anyone going to seriously claim that the Greece bailouts are for the common people??

EscapeKey's picture

ok, now you have me lost here. i'll drill into the UK budget, because that's the one I'm most comfortable with (living here and all). i'm sure similar (shallow, admittedly) analysis could be performed on the cypriotic budget (or greek, spanish, ...)

Welfare (£207bn), the NHS (£130bn), and education (£91bn) are THE behemoths of the budget. How you can claim this is not money going to the common man is beyond me.

As for creditors wanting to get paid back, that is as said post-fact. The money has been spent. Now the creditors want to be repaid.

But, yes, they should just fucking default already.

Orly's picture

For instance, JPM carries the US government's EBT program...

Something like that.

James_Cole's picture

Like I had suggested, on the surface these look pretty reasonably focussed on the common man but a lot of time it's misleading. In the US there were (are) many cases of misleading public debt figures that look like avg Joe is ripping off the system v. the actual story of what went down. 

The story of Jefferson County is a good example IMO of repeated bank scams all across the US.

The whole scheme relied on corruption & criminality but the main story coming out in the press was how Jefferson County went crazy money spending on public infrastructure and couldn't pay it back to the banks. Not exactly the case...

The facility, which has been under construction since 1996, was meant to cost about $300m.

But the bill soared to $3.1bn after construction problems and a series of bond and derivatives deals that went sour in the financial meltdown of 2008.

October 2002-December 2003: JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) serves as lead banker on thefinancings at the center of the county’s collapse. Before the transactions, more than 95 percent of the sewer bonds were traditional fixed-cost securities.

By the end of it, 93 percent carried interest rates that fluctuated along with the market, including $2.1 billion of so- called auction-rate securities. The county tried to mitigate the risk of rising expenses with interest-rate swaps, under which it received adjustable payments meant to cover the bonds and paid a fixed rate in return. The county entered into 18 swap trades with a notional value of $5.6 billion, with JPMorgan the dominant provider, according to the SEC.

The bank’s fees on the swaps weren’t disclosed; rather, they were embedded in the interest rates the county paid. JPMorgan overcharged the county on the swaps to cover the cost of more than $8 million in secret payments made to friends of county commissioners who worked for local companies, a step to secure JPMorgan’s lead role, according to the SEC.

April 2007: Porter, White & Co., a financial adviser brought in to analyze the swaps, estimates that the $120 million in swap fees it was charged were as much as $100 million more than warranted.

January-March 2008: As the effects of the housing-market crash sent ripples through the financial system, the credit ratings of two companies that insured Jefferson County’s bonds, Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. and XL Capital Assurance Inc., are cut because of losses suffered on securities tied to home loans.

Without top credit ratings, buyers including money-market funds couldn’t hold the bonds. Concerned investors dumped them en masse. Banks, seeking to shore up their own cash reserves, stop stepping in to buy unwanted auction-rate securities. Many auctions fail, leaving Jefferson County with penalty interest rates. As central banks slash rates, the payments received under the swaps fall instead of increasing, adding to the costs.

JPMorgan and other banks that agreed to buy a portion of the bonds in return for a fee are protected by contracts that required the county to pay off $850 million of the debt in four years, instead of as long as 40 years, as the county had planned. When the bonds were cut to junk, the county faced the risk they could be forced to pay hundreds of millions in fees to escape from the swaps. On Feb. 29, Standard & Poor’s rated the sewer bonds below investment grade. “Once we got cut to junk status, we couldn’t go any lower without just leaving the scene and turning over a corpse to somebody,” then County Commissioner Jim Carns said.

October 2009: The former commissioner in charge of finance, Larry Langford, is convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for giving more than $7 million in sewer-bond business to Blount. Langford is later sentenced to 15 years in jail.

November 2009: JPMorgan agrees to a $722 million settlement with the SEC over allegations that LeCroy and the bank’s former municipal derivatives chief, Douglas MacFaddin, paid more than $8 million in undisclosed payments to Blount and two other local-broker dealers that performed no known role in the deals.

August 2011: After preparing to file for bankruptcy and publicly debating it, county commissioners decide to extend talks through mid-September with a view toward reaching a resolution.

Sept. 16, 2011: Jefferson County’s commission votes 4-1 to accept a tentative deal with creditors.

There's the whole play-by-play.

Here's the fallout for the common people:

The two rates have been combined into a single bill in Jefferson County, which has increased by 329% over the past 15 years, making it among the highest in America, as the county has struggled to service the mountain of debt it took on to pay for a new sewer system.

EscapeKey's picture

There is a lot of fraud in the system, and a lot of it is certainly stemming from tbtf. However, you can't really take one (BAD) case and generalize on that basis. Furthermore, your case is accounted for in state finances, not in the us budget.


the us budget is 2.4 receipts, 3.7 expenditure, of which a substantiall portion go to ss, Medicare, Medicaid and other social spending. Can you find the 1.3tn which would balance the budget?

James_Cole's picture

However, you can't really take one (BAD) case and generalize on that basis. Furthermore, your case is accounted for in state finances, not in the us budget.

It was just an example of a case study, of interest in particular because of how it was reported - a tale of government waste where the innocent bankers were forced to take a haircut.

This type of thing goes on at all levels of government nationally and internationally. 

As far as the UK, I don't know it specifically but the general shape of the government is not too far off from my country of origin, Canada.

In Canada the gov is semi-clever, what they love is 'public-private' partnerships. What they do is they manage to increase overall expenditutres on things like education & healthcare while simultaneously defunding programs. 

How do they manage this feat? They close down programs running within the public system for 'efficiency' purposes and outsource that work to private contractors. The private contractors take the money then splurge on management & administration and less on the programs themselves with nowhere near the level of oversight at the public side of things. So the money going out the door is up, level of direct spending goes down while still being a public expense. And who manages all these loans....?

I'm not pro gov spending, just pointing out that a lot of this is simple graft and when things fall apart the public gets the blame and the bill.

The obvious solution is cut the government out of the picture and hand things over to private enterprise entirely. However, an obvious problem in this is you've handed power from a semi-accountable institution to institutions which are completely unaccountable.

Solution being that with 'competition' & 'price discovery' rational markets will sort out the difference and have accountability to clients / customers. This is great in theory, but not in practice. 

Ideally IMO you need a democratic system where choices are made collectively to disband any concentration of power & expenditures are made locally on a small scale.

Can you find the 1.3tn which would balance the budget?

Impossible to understand the US Federal budget. The system doesn't make any sense - when the economy is that big the federal government can't be responsible for so much. Who could possibly make good decisions on a budget that big and complex?

The system needs to be rethought. 

EscapeKey's picture

Oh I'm aware of public-private-partnerships, but was really looking for hard numbers. Because the absurd growth in welfare payments around the world essentially largely come at a time of substantial growth in retirees (and the unemployed) - but that's obviously not saying that we don't have a bunch of parasites leeching from the common pool. But, as said, I'd like to see some actual numbers. I point blank refuse to believe that the US deficit could all be solved through elimination of what is commonly referred to as government waste.

As for the system needing to be rethought, I'm all with you there. However, my action would be to allow banks to fail. Capitalism isn't just about profit, it's about loss just as well (aka "creative destruction"), but as long as we have corporations at the top which are thought of being "too big to fail", that's as long as capitalism essentially is suppressed.

edit: I don't know who downvoted you but it wasn't me. I appreciate an actual discussion rather than mudslinging, even if I happen to disagree with you! :)

James_Cole's picture



I'll try to give you some examples from Canada... 

First is Alberta, Alberta is famous for it's oil and consistently Conservative political climate. For the past several years Alberta has had very low taxes and lots of cash coming in thanks to their Oil. Now all of a sudden they face a major budget deficit? How can this be?? Keep in mind, this is a very Conservative gov & province.

A bunch of terrible predictions on oil revenues and majorly overpriced 'infrastructure' projects (a recurring theme) have now come to a head. Who gets the blame & bill? Joe Alberta.

As far as these infrastructure projects go, they always end up under some category of benefit to Joe Canada, but what they really are are a gift to connected companies and banks.

^ Jefferson county re-dux. 

 BC Hydro ratepayers will be forking over the estimated $7.9 billion to build the Site C hydroelectric dam on the Peace River - up from the initial $2 billion estimate, said B.C. Hydro spokesperson David Conway during a presentation to Prince George city council Monday.

Canada federally had been somewhat tightening the belt for years as far expenditures go (after a disastrous Conservative Gov in the 80s really messed things up) and managed to get some of the deficit under control.

Then the financial crisis hit… All of sudden a major deficit occurs, where is the money going? If you suspected the banks ding ding ding!

So the gov buys up a lot of toxic crap (labelled as good stuff) from the banks balance sheets and deficits skyrocket. Here's the budget, note the word 'stimulus'


  • An additional $50 billion for the Insured Mortgage Purchase Program, increasing its size to $125 billion. (>>you have found the bank bailout, only they didn't call it that<<)
  • $13 billion to increase the lending of Crown corporations, of which $5 billion will be delivered through the new Business Credit Availability Program.
  • $12 billion for a Canadian Secured Credit Facility to support financing of vehicles and equipment.

The budget is teetering and so some 'efficiencies' must be made because the word is out that public expenditures are simply unsustainable and Canadians are a bunch of pampered greedy takers.  



MeelionDollerBogus's picture

I don't think we have any 'conservatives' in Canada. I've never voted 'Conservative' because they're fake fucking phonies.

Every last one of them from every last party will spend like drunken sailors. None of them care about math or historical precedent, warnings, trends, about anything.

GoinFawr's picture

"Every last one of them..."spending like drunken sailors.


Every last one of them except for Tom Douglas' CCF you mean, right?

That particular democratically elected governing body is the only one in North America, not just Canada, to run 17 COUNT EM seventeen surplus budgets...all while introducing universal access to decent health care for simply everyone in the entire province, along with a great many other fresh new public services for a population comprised of a diverse ethnicity. In fact...look it's a long story, but you may want to look into it a bit at some point in your busy life: it might be important.

Well, so much for the 'lefty spendy' 'righty whitey fiscally tighty' bs distinctions, eh? As a result of this knowledge no one will ever make that thoroughly refuted misapprehension again, right? LOL

IE The CCF and their politcs were not the German National Socialists as so very very many zealots (etc.) here would unceasingly labour day and night, night and day to have us all erroneously believe.

James Cole is right: this is not socialism.

I'd wager the author just wants you to incorrectly label it that. Perhaps so that if you talk about it you'll sound like an idiot and nobody with access to a dictionary will take you seriously.

@Ch1 you great hairy ape; stick to beating your chest for bitcoin please.

James_Cole's picture

Worth noting, the first universal single payer system. He did many great things but was also head of a socialist party which means it's impolite to discuss him in public. 

I find it intersting how the term socialism has been twisted so successfully, all day today I was reading article after article about the Cyprus fiasco where the comments were filled with people frothing at the mouth over this 'socialist' move by banks to steal depositors money and how 'socialism' was destroying the world.... 

When stealing depositor funds to bailout highly concentrated banking interests is considered 'socialism' by the masses you know the PR is working great!

Acet's picture

Here's some more UK figures for comparisson:

Bank bailout: £1.4 Trillion

Figures from the New Economic Foundation place the continued bank support from things like the TBTF subsidy at about £120 billion per-year. I'm pretty sure this doesn't include things like reduction of non-performing loans due to ultra low interest rates.

So yeah, also in the UK the previous poster has a point.

EscapeKey's picture

With all due respect, but the NEF are as biased as they come. That's not saying the TBTF didn't receive government largesse (they certainly did), but the numbers you quote essentially are as trustworthy as any number mentioned by Max Keiser.

£1.4tn refers to the amount of insured ("by the British taxpayer") assets, they are not a tally of subsidy to the banks. So, yes, in the event they all turn out to be absolutely worthless, then the final amount will be £1.4tn. But that's not where we are at today.

flacon's picture

Well at least he's blaming Socialism and not Capitalism for a change. 

James_Cole's picture

Socialism is production oriented, it doesn't apply to this scenario at all.

Element's picture

It's Ok, this is just a symptom of Eurozone green-shoots.

CH1's picture

Socialism is production oriented, it doesn't apply to this scenario at all.

Right, socialists never steal. Sure.....

James_Cole's picture

Socialism is production oriented, it doesn't apply to this scenario at all.

Google is your friend.

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

for james cole et al, seems all this state finance crime is in socialist countries, USSA encluded, most here on ZH see thru your BS. ps Bush the traitor under GOP majority added a big socialist programs in education, and drugs for the elderly called medicare D. for all you D vs R folks the evidence is clear there is one party in power in USSA. there has been no capitalism in the west in decades.

jwoop66's picture

is it a corporation or a govt taking the peoples money?     Even if you say corporations (banks, not cat food or guitar string corporations) coerce or force the govt to do so, Corporations are not representatives of the people.  Govts are supposed to be.  Corporations may try and screw us, but it is govt that is supposed to work for us.  I hold govt more accountable.

CH1's picture

it is govt that is supposed to work for us.

And that's how to suckered you.

Governments are aggressive parasites. ALWAYS.

greatscott's picture

It should be more like if PM's aren't 100% of your investments, you need to see a doctor!

ImReady's picture

I hope you are wrong(for now). Draining the accounts and going for gold!

Totentänzerlied's picture

No private credit, at least not for you and me and other non-institutional entities. But that's been basically the case for some time. Don't worry, the Fed's got it covered.

kaiserhoff's picture

Yep.  Stupid is as stupid does.  At least the lines are being clearly drawn.

Mark123's picture

But Bernanke studied the great depression (also caused by his banking cartel) he can fix things.  Apparently the dopes bank in the 1930"s did not have printing presses.

DosZap's picture

With 12.9 T in deposits in the banking system, and the FDIC having only 7 Billion in reserves to back up defaults,makes you confident huh?.

put_peter's picture

"No longer"... i'd say democrazy would suit better.

imaginalis's picture

A depositor tax in one country should be mirrored by a similar tax in Cayman Islands

Freddie's picture

We have seen how "civil" Europeans can be with each other in 2 world wars and many before that.  We have seen how "civil" The United States "Civil" War was with 1.1 million dead. 

Why did these wars happen?  European bankster families looking for a good return on their money and how to STEAL the wealth of working people.  These wars are additional "taxes" on the suffering populace from the bankster family elites pushed by their politician puppets.

The same thing happens in Asia and S America to the hapless citizenry.

Seer's picture

Refreshingly good call.

Orly's picture

Freddie has actually been quite coherent lately.