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Lessons For US Citizens From The Deposit Confiscation In Cyprus

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog,

It was almost exactly one year ago to the day that an entire nation was frozen out of its savings… overnight.

Cypriots went to bed on Friday thinking everything was fine. By the next morning, they had no way to pay bills or buy food.

It’s certainly a chilling reminder of how quickly things can change. And why.

The entire crisis sprang from a mountain of debt. The government had accumulated too much debt. The banking system had accumulated too much debt.

And banks had lost a lot of their customers’ money making risky, stupid bets on things like Greek government bonds.

By March 2013, Cypriot banks were almost entirely devoid of cash.

Sure, customers could log on to a website and check their bank balances.

But there’s a huge difference between a number displayed on a screen, and a well-capitalized bank that actually holds abundant cash.

The government was too insolvent to bail anyone out. And as a member of the eurozone, Cyprus didn’t have the ability to print its own money.

So they did the only thing they could think of– confiscate customer deposits.

And they imposed capital controls on top of that to make sure that people couldn’t withdraw their remaining funds out of the banks as soon as the freeze was lifted.

It was a truly despicable act. But again, even though it all unfolded overnight, the warning signs were building for at least a year. Especially the debt.

When countries, central banks, and commercial banks accumulate too much debt, and specifically too much debt relative to assets, you can be certain there is trouble ahead in the system.

Think about it like your own personal finances. If you have a million dollars in debt, that seems like a lot. But if you own a home worth $5 million, you are still in good shape financially.

If, on the other hand, you have a million dollar mortgage for a home that’s worth $250,000, you’re in deep trouble.

The US government’s official, ‘on the books’ debt now exceeds $17.5 trillion. This is an enormous figure.

If the Uncle Sam just happened to have $20 trillion or so laying around, however, this debt load wouldn’t be a big deal. But that’s not the case.

By the US government’s own admission, their own financial statements show net equity (assets minus liabilities) of MINUS $16.9 trillion.

That’s including ALL the assets: Every tank. Every bullet. Every body scanner. Every highway.

Then you have to look at the Central Bank, which is itself teetering on insolvency.

The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has exploded since 2008, and right now the Fed’s net equity (assets minus liabilities) is about $56 billion.

That’s a razor-thin 1.34% of its $4 trillion in assets (it was 4.5% before the crisis).

Here’s the thing: in its own annual report, the Fed just admitted that it had accumulated ‘unrealized losses’ totaling $53 billion. This is almost the Fed’s ENTIRE EQUITY.

So in the Land of the Free, you now have an insolvent government and insolvent central bank underpinning a commercial banking system that is incentivized to make risky, stupid bets with their customers’ money.

To be fair, I’m not suggesting that bank accounts in the US are going to be frozen tomorrow morning.

But a rational person should recognize that the warning signs are very similar to what they were in Cyprus last year.

And if there is one thing we can learn from the Cyprus bail-in, it’s that it behooves any rational person to have a plan B, even if you think the future holds nothing but sunshine and smiley faces.

Having a plan B can mean a lot of different things depending on your situation– moving some funds abroad, securing a second source of income, having an escape hatch overseas, owning physical gold, holding extra cash, etc.

You’re not going to be worse off for having a plan B based on the possibility that there -could- be some problems down the road.

But if those consequences are ever realized,and Plan B becomes Plan A, it might just turn out to be the smartest move you’ve ever made.

If you think this makes sense then I encourage you to sign up for our free Notes From the Field if you haven’t already done so, and you can also share this article with your friends below so they’re not without a plan B if things do take a turn for the worse.

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Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:50 | 4560496 agstacks
agstacks's picture

Isn't Cyprus like really far away?  Could never hapen here. 

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:53 | 4560513 magpie
Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:59 | 4560539 Billy Sol Estes
Billy Sol Estes's picture

Oh Yeah - Edward Angly

(Things are great)

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:02 | 4560551 666
666's picture

I don't need a Plan B when I already have a Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:55 | 4560780 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

My suggested Plan B would be to include almost all of what is included above (inc. 666's Plan B) as well as all the suggested items in all of the posts below.

No one knows what is going to happen.

Anything held overseas should be held by people you really trust.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 18:41 | 4560925 imaginalis
imaginalis's picture

At least our deposits will be less here in California where there is a 33% Denmark like rate of capital gains tax. They could call it a "pre-confiscation".

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:08 | 4560574 Ham-bone
Ham-bone's picture

if Plan A = go long

then Plan B = margin up to btfd?? or levarage everything to btfath???


Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:09 | 4560583 manofthenorth
manofthenorth's picture

Only one plan...........


Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:26 | 4560654 Stoploss
Stoploss's picture

Plan B ullets..




Plan B roke.. What happens when you put your paper in an overseas bank?

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 18:09 | 4560831 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

I'd say the correct answer is:  Plan A + B_part1 (BTFD).  It's what the Rottenchildren do.

The advantage they have over you is... Timing.  They seem to bat close to 1,000 on when to buy and when to sell.  It's as though they have... Psychic Foreknowledge.

p.s. Once you got Timing right, using Leverage gets real easy.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:02 | 4560553 y3maxx
y3maxx's picture

Comrade Obama recently introduced "Myra"...eventually all American deposits will be re invested in Myra's...The USSA will never, ever confiscate deposits like in Cyprus...American depositor's money is safe.
sarc off

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:10 | 4560588 Ham-bone
Ham-bone's picture

word up - American's would never be forced to pay into a ponzi retirement scheme against their will...again!?!

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:31 | 4560675 SilverIsKing
SilverIsKing's picture

I doubt it will be done as a straight bail-in.  They will sell it an emergency measure to strengthen YOUR country's finances so in exchange for your money, you will get a bond that matures in the year 3598.  Each bond will have a present day value of $0.01 and will be valued at $1,000,000 at maturity so you'll know it's a good deal.  Similar to an EE savings bond, the bond itself will be denominated in it's value at maturity, or $1,000,000, so you'll know it's a great deal and it'll be the patriotic thing to do.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 18:22 | 4560865 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

To Simon Black (or his Rep),

do Crimean banks take Yankee FRNs?  Can you open an account w/o being there?  Is this covered in your Subscription?

Or should we just go to http://www.hsbc.ru/1/2/rus/en/home

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:04 | 4560559 seek
Mon, 03/17/2014 - 18:02 | 4560813 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

A large portion of your CA$H really is safer under the mattress, in the frozen spaghetti sauce or in the HVAC ducts...

It's not like you're losing much when they pay you 0.1% to borrow your money you are an unsecured creditor...

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 18:42 | 4560930 August
August's picture

>>>A large portion of your CA$H really is safer under the mattress, in the frozen spaghetti sauce or in the HVAC ducts...

It's really startling to discover how many nooks and crannies exist within modern kitchen appliances, once you judiciously apply a screwdriver.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:08 | 4560572 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

Cyprus is fine- it is where Ukraine domiciles its (conveniently off-shored) Oil & Gas Promotion authority which sets up SPVs co-owned with the Oligarch-Friends-of-Yanukovych to JV with Chevron in projects where no Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted and Chevron is incented to sell Ukranian production at the lowest cost to its own marketing arm in order to further enrich Chevron and Friends-of-Yanukovych (assuming a rebate or concession structure is used) and fuck over the Ukrainian debt serfs, and if the central government tries to raise taxes on the scammers, the entire obligation to invest in Ukraine goes up in smoke (just like deposits of little people who kept money in Cypriot banks)... 

I'd be more concerned about the neo-nazi ukeys and their their soon to be toxic drinking and irrigation water which will put a long term damper on their plans for either a 4th Reich or revival of of the Ukrainian bread basket export road to riches... 

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:13 | 4560598 commander gruze?
commander gruze?'s picture

Last time it happened cryptos went through the roof.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 22:49 | 4561699 The_Prisoner
The_Prisoner's picture

Cryptos going through the roof? As in like putting Hillary on an ejector seat?

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:52 | 4560505 dojufitz
dojufitz's picture

I never spend a $5 note.....

i know it is not much but you would be suprised by how many you can save....

oh and don't put them in the bank.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:54 | 4560516 sleigher
sleigher's picture

Knew a guy who did that with $10's.  Had a trunk full of 10 dollar bills.  Said that was his saving plan.  I guess it works...

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:55 | 4560524 Obama_4_Dictator
Obama_4_Dictator's picture

Sounds like people who only care about themselves....come on we need to spend

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:35 | 4560695 Al Huxley
Al Huxley's picture

You are a true patriot.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:59 | 4560530 Rainman
Rainman's picture

Tip money for the FEMA camp guards will go a long way too.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:16 | 4560607 Ariadne
Ariadne's picture

You think they trust FEMA guards with live ammo?

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 20:48 | 4561377 Bytor325
Bytor325's picture

And the post office now needs hollow points

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 18:10 | 4560841 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Works even better with $100 Notes.

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 04:16 | 4562124 Oracle of Kypseli
Oracle of Kypseli's picture

I don't want to give the bastards any ideas, but what if they ban the $100 note under the excuse of laundering?

Using 50's and 20's despite the increased volume may be a better plan.

Using EU500 notes is best. Each one is around 700 USD

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:01 | 4560545 McMolotov
McMolotov's picture

Only greedy, America-hating terrrrists hoard money.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:28 | 4560663 IridiumRebel
IridiumRebel's picture

You can hoard, just hoard in an American bank.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 18:12 | 4560846 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

The "Bank of Certa, Posteurpedic and Sealy" is American.  No fees.

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 01:11 | 4561972 Lin S
Lin S's picture

If you like your hoard, you can keep your hoard.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:53 | 4560514 Theta_Burn
Theta_Burn's picture

Totally amazed that Cyprus wasn't burned to the ground by Sunday...


Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:54 | 4560517 camaro68ss
camaro68ss's picture

Cypus, the banksters Graceland

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:54 | 4560518 A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

TPTB have a contingency plan in place for your plan B as well.....

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:57 | 4560533 nightshiftsucks
nightshiftsucks's picture

No problem,they'll just print more.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:01 | 4560541 Soul Glow
Soul Glow's picture

Inside the document "Taxing Times" issued from the IMF in October of '13 it states,

"The sharp deterioration of the public finances in many countries has revived interest in a “capital levy”— a one-off tax on private wealth—as an exceptional measure to restore debt sustainability.1 The appeal is that such a tax, if it is implemented before avoidance is possible and there is a belief that it will never be repeated, does not distort behavior (and may be seen by some as fair). There have been illustrious supporters, including Pigou, Ricardo, Schumpeter, and—until he changed his mind—Keynes. The conditions for success are strong, but also need to be weighed against the risks of the alternatives, which include repudiating public debt or inflating it away (these, in turn, are a particular form of wealth tax—on bondholders—that also falls on nonresidents). "

Now we see, on page 49 of this document, that the implementation used in Cyprus will be used on the whole world.

Taxing Times:


Mon, 03/17/2014 - 20:41 | 4561358 UselessEater
UselessEater's picture

From Bail-Ins to Bail-Outs (Goldcore Report)

In October 2011, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) published a seminal report on the bail-in regime
titled “Key Attributes of Effective Resolution Regimes for Financial Institutions”.....The scope of this planned bail-in regime for participating countries is not just limited to large domestic
banks. In addition to these “systemically significant or critical” financial institutions, the scope also
applies to two further categories of institutions, a) Global SIFIs, in other words, cross-border banks
which happen to be incorporated domestically in a country that is implementing the bail-in regime, and
b) ”Financial Market Infrastructures (FMIs)”, such as clearing houses.
The inclusion of Financial Market Infrastructures in potential bail-ins is in itself a major departure.
The FSB defines these market infrastructures to include multilateral securities and derivatives clearing
and settlement systems, and a whole host of exchange and transaction systems, such as payment
systems, central securities depositories, and trade depositories. This would mean that an unsecured
creditor claim to, for example, a clearing house institution, or to a stock exchange, could in theory be
affected if such an institution needed to be bailed-in.
As Paul Tucker phrased it at the IADI conference:
“resolution isn’t just about banks, and so we are planning to elaborate on how the Key Attributes should
be applied to, for example, central counterparties, insurers, and the client assets held by prime brokers,
custodians and others.”
The inclusion of Financial Market Infrastructures means that large parts of the global financial system is
susceptible to bail-in and could potentially be bailed-in.




Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:00 | 4560544 debtor of last ...
debtor of last resort's picture

Deposit confiscation happens all the time through inflation. Cyprus was just frontrunning.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:02 | 4560554 dojufitz
dojufitz's picture

When i save my $5 notes....my goal is to collect 50 of them....Once that is done I change them at the bank and turn them into 5 $50 notes.....everytime i get back from the bank I start again......pretty soon you have enough for any problems....

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:53 | 4560628 Bioscale
Bioscale's picture

I save some bucks every week. When I get a new paycheck I go out and buy some gold. Pretty soon I have enough for many problems.

You know I don't trust government paper, having seen so much of my parents' savings disappeared through inflation in the last 30 years, oh no.

I just don't get people who have most all of their savings on bank accounts, it's like letting thiefs managing you wallet. How can that be?

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:05 | 4560557 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

What is this Cyprus concept of paying for stuff out of "savings"?

REAL Mericans pay for things with credit cards.  

No wonder Cyprus doesn't run the world.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:04 | 4560561 Al Huxley
Al Huxley's picture

As far as I can tell, the lesson most US citizens have drawn from Cyprus is 'I'm so glad I don't live in Cyprus, and that MY money is safe'.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:13 | 4560597 IridiumRebel
IridiumRebel's picture

I asked about you the other day. I hadn't seen you in a while. Hope all is well. Miss your posts.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:36 | 4560709 Al Huxley
Al Huxley's picture

Thanks, I'm fine, just been busy lately.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 18:39 | 4560921 IridiumRebel
IridiumRebel's picture


Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:35 | 4560696 QQQBall
QQQBall's picture

AH - Yeah and BTW, where the fuck is Cypress anyway? Isn't it a continent?

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:38 | 4560717 SimplePrinciple
SimplePrinciple's picture

No, stupid, Cyprus was part of the Ukraine until Russia invaded.  Miley was smart to get out.

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:06 | 4560568 Magnum
Magnum's picture

In USA not many people HAVE money in the bank.  Confiscating money may not work the same as Simon Black says.  He and his caviar wishes and champagne dreams have spent too many a day in Chile to know what's happening on the ground here.  No dinero.

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