Could The "Cyprus Fiasco" Occur In The United States?

Tyler Durden's picture

As has been assiduously explained by members of the European statist oligarchy, the reason for the deposit tax levy, in addition to the broader unsecured debt "bail-in" bailout of Cyprus, was due to the unique funding structure of Cypriot banks, in which the bulk of funding was in the form of deposits (whether Russian or domestic), leaving a tiny €2 billion in the form of junior bonds. Since the bailout would require realigning the balance sheet to a new, sustainable "fresh start" in which assets were remarked to a realistic value, it would mean impairing liabilities all the way down the capital structure. Naturally, politics played a big part in the decision to impair what Germany primarily saw as a Russian money-laundering haven, while local depositors were merely "collateral damage."

Politics aside, the bottom line is that the Rubicon has been crossed, and deposits have now been forcefully confiscated in what Europe promises to be a standalone case. What is certain, is that nobody will wait to find out how long it takes before Europe's class of increasingly more desperate and ill-meaning despots is found to be have lied once more (as it has about everything else since the start of the European crisis). And while the mainstream media will be focused primarily on Europe in the coming days, as BCG and we have warned, the topic of "wealth taxation" is now front and center, and it stars not only Europe, but the US as well.

The question then becomes: what does the funding structure of the US private depository institutions look like, and is there any possibility of Cyprus "wealth tax" recurring on the other side of the Atlantic. To answer this question, we present the summary layout of the consolidated US depository system, which according to the Fed's December 31, 2012 Flow of Funds report had a grand total of $15 trillion in assets, and a matched number of liabilities, of which 72%, or a total of $10.9 trillion was in the form of deposits (checkable, small and large time, and savings).

Visually, this looks as follows:

So, if the US was to go the Cyprus route, and begin impairing balance sheet liabilities to remark assets, there would be precious little space (with just $4.3 trillion in total other funding liabilities), before one would need to start eating into the deposit base, should Congress decide to implement a very "fair and just" financial asset tax in the US next.

Will Congress do this? Obviously, nobody can answer that question now. However, it was "absolutely certain" as recently as 48 hours ago that Cyprus too would see no depositor "bail in" either. Then things changed rapidly. What is known, is that according to the same BCG chart we showed last night, the necessary debt-reduction needed in the US to reach a sustainable debt level, was over $8.2 trillion using debt numbers as of 2009...

... Since then consolidated US debt has risen by over $5 trillion.

Which means that if, indeed, the US proceeds with its own wealth tax, then deposits may well be one "wealth class" that gets impaired. Of course, since in the US other financial assets, namely the stock market, account for a far greater proportion of household net worth, it is quite possible that instead of impairing deposits at US banks, which already subsist solely due to the Fed's $2 trillion in excess reserves, the government may instead choose to generously tax simple 30% of all of your stock holdings, and achieve the same "wealth transfer" result.

Why?

Because it's only fair, as the second coming of the glorious global socialist revolution has made it all too clear.

And remember this: there are no longer any rules, and any assets, any "wealth" saved, stored, and hidden is now fair game in the global forced wealth reallocation "game."