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."
The problem is that while for Cyprus tomorrow is a national bank holiday (yes, ironic), the EUR opens for trading in a few hours, with the global equity futures markets, and Japan cash to follow shortly thereafter. And with absolutely no clarity on what the "pre-determined" outcome from the Cyprus bailout will be heading into Monday open, where one of the outcomes is the possible collapse of the country's entire banking system, which would certainly have contagious effects on all of the mainland, Europe is starting to freak out.
Bloomberg clarifies the precarious math situation which nobody in technocrat Europe apparently considered when they assumed that they have acquired some 10% of Cypriot sovereignty:
With his Disy party holding 20 seats in the 56-seat legislature, he needs at least nine more votes to secure approval and avoid the financial collapse of the region’s third- smallest economy. If he doesn’t get backing for the plan, the banks may stay shut starting March 19, state-run Cyprus Broadcasting Corp. said. Tomorrow is a bank holiday in Cyprus.
“If tomorrow Cyprus’s Parliament rejects the bill, Cyprus opens the road to chaos,” said Afxentis Afxentiou, who was governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus from 1982 until 2002, said on CYBC. If the bill is rejected, “Cyprus will turn into Libya. Even with the pain, we need to follow a normal course, with hope we’ll see better days.”
For now, said European pressure is only coming form the ECB, although expect chaos to break out and a full on media onslaught seeking to sooth and calm the markets to result if there is no movement, and no sign of a majority emerging before the first trades hit the EUR pairs. As ANA reports,
More from Bloomberg:
Anastasiades rejected pressure from an ECB representative to bring a vote on depositor losses to Parliament today, Greek state-run Athens News Agency reported, without saying how it got the information. An unnamed ECB representative pressured Anastasiades to open banks on March 19, the news agency said.
Anastasiades met with leaders of the nation’s political parties yesterday. While he may get support from the third- biggest party, Diko, which backed Anastasiades in the election, Diko’s eight seats won’t assure him a majority.
Yet even without a complete market collapse, the damage to Cyprus', and by implication Europe's banking system is done, as the question of who will keep their deposits in European banks after this stunning episode (especially for the Russian billionaire oligarchs who are booking flights into Zurich, Geneva and Basel to shut their accounts immediately) will remain unanswered until we get the March European deposit outflow data, some time in May.
George Perdikes, a lawmaker from the Green Party who sits on Parliament’s finance committee, said ways were being examined to soften the blow to depositors. These include giving them bonds linked to profits from the country’s gas reserves, he said in comments broadcast on CYBC after a meeting of the committee’s members with Anastasiades.
“This is a lose-lose situation,” he said. “Whatever happens there will be a massive outflow from Cypriot banks, with or without a haircut.”
Ironically, it was Cyprus' tiny position in the grand scheme of European things that allowed Europe to expose how it truly feels about all members- as it turns out everyone in Europe is equal, except for those deemed to be less important than others. So how high does the bar go: Athens next? Or Madrid? Or Rome?
Perhaps there is a very good reason why, contrary to the sell-side scrambling to assuage fears of a pan-European bank run, the new Dutch president of the Eurogroup Dijsselbloem declined to rule out further depositors haircuts in other Eurozone countries such as Greece, Spain or Italy.
And while readers contemplate that, we hope for the sake of Europe, that ATMs in the latter three countries are well-stocked, because all it will take is one photo of a cash dispensing machine in the periphery to be "temporarily out of service" to be the spark that reignites the European relapse into full outright contagion and panic.