Sunday, 17 March 2013

Cyprus tax heist could trigger a run on Euro banks

The news in the last 24 hours that to meet the conditions of the German controlled bail out for their bust banks the Cyprus government intends to impose a 9.9% imediately payable levy/tax on deposits with Cypriot banks over 100,000€ and 6.8% tax on all deposits below that level. This is estimated to raise 6.8bn euro of the 10bn euro bail out Cypriot banks require. This opens Pandora's box big time! There are vague statements of using as yet unrealised gas revenues to help this recapitalisation but nobody really believes that.

There are already TV pictures of  queues at Cyprus bank ATMs trying to get their money out. Remember Northern Rock! Reuters reports,

"Making bank depositors bear some of the costs of a bailout had been taboo in Europe, but euro zone officials said it was the only way to salvage Cyprus's financial sector, which is around eight times the size of the economy.

European officials said it would not set a precedent."
And the band played believe it if you like. It means exactly that. Its a huge precedent  which is why commentators have been decribing it as crossing the Rubicon. I expect to see queues at banks in other Club Med countries tomoorow as depositors try to get their money out. The rich Greeks got their money out to Switzerland over two years ago as they saw this coming.

The Cyprus banks lost a huge amount on their holdings of Greek sovereign debt and the only alternative to a bail out was the thing that would kill the Euro, a bank default, a bit like showing a crucifix to Dracula.

Cyprus is a small country with around 0.3% of Eurozone GDP but this panic spreads very rapidly and once it gets to Spain etc it would be terminal for the Euro.

One thing not widely known is that you can tell where a Euro note was issued from its serial number. I know a number of Europeans who check this very carefully and will only accept German printed notes. In. extremis, the Bundesbank will  honour their own notes. I would not like to be holding Club Med paper or notes now.

1 comment:

The Journalist said...

No doubt we'll all be hearing a lot about bail outs in Europe over the next few years, but one can only wonder how long these economic pumps up's will last with the ships still sinking, I realise Germany are the richest country in Europe, I was on my web cam last week, they hold literaly "Trillions" in reserve, but of course we all know in the real world of money markets and business, Trillions, can become Billions, and thus, Billions, Millions,I think everbody realsies there must be a permanent solution, many germans are becomming increasing concerned, quite rightly to!