Germany Warns That Banks in Cyprus May Never Reopen20/03/2013 22:58
ATMs in Cyprus were drained over the weekend, electronic transfers were halted, and riots ensued following a decision by European Union chiefs to raid private savings accounts to help pay for the country's $13 billion bailout. It was believed that there were plans to stretch a bank holiday to at least one week, while the exact measures were decided upon. However, yesterday the Cypriot parliament rejected the scheme outright, leading many to speculate that this would be the start of something even worse.
Sure enough, much like the U.S. Federal Reserve threatened martial law and blood in the streets if Congress didn't accept sweeping bailouts in 2008, now Germany is saying that Cypriot banks might never reopen after parliament's decision:
Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble said major Cypriot banks were "insolvent if there are no emergency funds,” according to a BBC report, meaning savers might lose all their money if no deal was reached. (Source)
There is extreme worry that if the banks do reopen, capital flight is all but assured. Meanwhile, similar confiscation schemes are being proposed for Italy and New Zealand (more on that below), spurring questions about which other nations are in line for a "haircut" . . . perhaps better called "the chopping block."
Whether or not Cyprus gets its bailout in one form or another -- perhaps from the Russians -- this is a precedent-setting crisis that is shaping up to be a potential "Lehman Brothers Moment" with ramifications that could extend even beyond the troubled nations of Europe.
Previous updates and videos can be found below...
Reuters reported earlier that,
The euro zone agreed on Saturday to hand Cyprus a bailout worth 10 billion euros ($13 billion), but demanded depositors in its banks forfeit some money to stave off bankruptcy despite the risk of a wider run on savings.
In a radical departure from previous aid packages - and one that gave rise to incredulity and anger across the country - euro zone finance ministers forced Cyprus' savers to pay up to 10 percent of their deposits to raise almost 6 billion euros.
Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades agreed to the deal, which completely reversed his previous assurances that it would not happen. It sets a very dangerous precedent for future bailouts. As if brutal austerity wasn't enough, the EU is now demanding a bailout tax making citizens and expat depositors alike personally liable for government and private bank debts. Reuters also notes that according to a draft of the legislation, criminal penalties of up to 3 years in jail and 50,000 euros could be imposed upon anyone who doesn't comply.
The New York Times reports:
Most of the 10 billion euros will go to bail out Cypriot banks, which took a blow when their substantial holdings of Greek government bonds were written down as part of that country’s second bailout.
Britain has 60,000 depositors in Cypriot banks, including thousands of military and government personnel stationed on the island. George Osborne highlighted that Cypriot banks in England would not be subjected to the tax (originally proposed at 6.75% for accounts under 100,000 Euros; 9.9% for those over 100,000), but expat depositors apparently will -- government and military excluded:
George Osborne vowed today that those serving in Britain's military or government in Cyprus will be protected after European finance chiefs ordered an unprecedented raid on personal bank accounts.
Up to 60,000 British savers are to lose thousands of pounds each as expats in Cyprus have their savings decimated in part of a painful bid to bail out the bankrupt island.
The Chancellor said the financial situation in Cyprus was ‘an example of what happens if you don't show the world that you can pay your way’, adding: ‘We are not part of the bailout.’ (Source)
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