Sunday, March 17, 2013

War on Savers: Cyprus’ $13 Billion Bailout to be Funded by Taxing Depositors

In Cyprus, abetted by the IMF, increasingly desperate politicians will now tax depositors in order to bailout banksters.  This is financial repression at its finest.

From Bloomberg,
Euro-area finance ministers agreed to an unprecedented tax on Cypriot bank deposits as officials unveiled a 10 billion-euro ($13 billion) rescue plan for the country, the fifth since Europe’s debt crisis broke out in 2009.

Cyprus will impose a levy of 6.75 percent on deposits of less than 100,000 euros -- the ceiling for European Union account insurance -- and 9.9 percent above that. The measures will raise 5.8 billion euros, in addition to the emergency loans, Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who leads the group of euro-area ministers, told reporters early today after 10 hours of talks in Brussels. The International Monetary Fund may contribute to the package and junior bondholders may also be tapped in a so-called bail-in, the ministers' statement said.

Officials have struggled to find an agreement that would rescue Cyprus, which accounts for just half of a percent of the euro region’s economy, without unsettling investors in larger countries and sparking a new round of market contagion. Finance Minister Michael Sarris said the plan was the “least onerous” of the options Cyprus faced to stay afloat.
The Cyprus government is supposed to vote on this today. However, such plan has already incited incidences of panic.

From Reuters,
The decision prompted a run on cashpoints, most of which were depleted by mid afternoon, and co-operative credit societies closed to prevent angry savers withdrawing deposits.

Almost half Cyprus's bank depositors are believed to be non-resident Russians, but most queuing on Saturday at automatic teller machines appeared to be Cypriots.
This is monumental. Governments today have become more brazen. They are not content with imposing implicit taxation channeled through inflation, but now take on the recourse of outright confiscation of private property. With inflation, lost purchasing power means lesser quantity of goods or services to acquire. With taxation, people simply lose money and the attendant services derived from it.

True, Cyprus maybe small, but this serves a trial balloon on what governments will resort to, as today’s crisis deepens or remains unresolved.

Yet politicians forget that when you tax something you get less of it. Incipient signs of consternation may translate to potential bank runs, not limited to Cyprus but to crisis stricken Euro nations. Depositors from the PIIGs could express fear of the same policies that could be implemented on them.

And since the deal was forged while the financial markets has been closed for the weekend, I expect some volatility in the marketplace at the week's opening.

Moreover, ravaging depositors will increase political risks that may escalate into social unrest. This also amplifies the sundering or progression the demise of the EU project.

Of course when people become distrustful of the institutions that are supposed to underwrite the safety of their savings, gold and precious metals will function as the main beneficiaries. 

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