ECB Gives Cyprus March 25 Liquidity Ultimatum
As reported yesterday, Cyprus banks are now expected to reopen next Tuesday. We would boldly go ahead and take the under following overnight news that the ECB has once more escalated its political interventions (remember the lies about "apolitical, independent" Central Banks - good times...), and following a Reuters report yesterday that the ECB is prepared to let Cyprus go, the FT now has doubled down on the propaganda, reporting (in an article with no less than five authors) that the ECB has issued an ultimatum to Cyprus to agree to a bailout by Monday (which is a holiday), or the free liquidity ends.
"The European Central Bank raised the stakes in the Cyprus crisis on Thursday, telling Nicosia it had until Monday to agree a bailout with the EU and International Monetary Fund or it would cut off emergency liquidity provision to the country’s banks. The hardline stance from the ECB sets a clear deadline for Cyprus to agree to a plan after its parliament rejected a bailout negotiated at the weekend that would have taxed the deposits of account holders in the country’s banks." Which means yet another weekend of ad hoc choices and spontaneous decisions awaits, only this time with a key non-Euro actor involved in the face of Russia, whose interest just in case there is any confusion, is to see Cyprus crushed, so it can swoop in later and "acquire" the assets on the cheap, or preferably free, while the local population welcome the second coming of the glorious Red Army with open arms, delighted to be free of European slavery. Well played Putin.
The ultimatum came as EU leaders maintained pressure on Nicosia to come up with a new plan on its own and Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev told a visiting European Commission delegation that a solution had to include Russian participation.
“It is now up to the Cypriot authorities to come up with proposals,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chair of the committee of 17 eurozone finance ministers who negotiated the bailout, told the European Parliament on Thursday morning.
In a short statement the ECB said its 23-person governing council had agreed to maintain emergency liquidity provision to Cyprus’s banks until Monday. “Thereafter, Emergency Liquidity Assistance could only be considered if an EU-IMF programme is in place that would ensure the solvency of the concerned banks,” it said.
The country’s two biggest banks, Bank of Cyprus and Laiki, are believed to be reliant on Emergency Liquidity Assistance provided by the Central Bank of Cyprus. The ECB’s governing council can terminate ELA if it believes the banks receiving it are no longer solvent.
The move, however, raises the prospect of the ECB having to make good on its ultimatum on Monday, which could leave the banks unable to honour their obligations. Some analysts have speculated that the collapse of the banks could trigger a series of events that lead to Cyprus leaving the euro, with unpredictable consequences for the rest of the eurozone.
Will the ECB really be so stupid as to force the Cypriot bluff? Does Draghi really want to put the OMT into operation, which would inevitably happen once Cyprus is kicked out of the Eurozone, and a pan-European deposit run, which has so far been spared due to lack of tangible evidence that there is an actual "credibility" event in Cyprus due to what may be a permanent bank closure, becomes inevitable?
Most importantly, will the ECB truly shoot itself in the foot once again, and destroy all the so-called confidence it has rebuilt in the past four years on the back of endless promises, threats and urgings?
Tune in this time Monday to find out.