Cyprus

What’s going on today in Cyprus and the EU as a whole is informative for Americans.

In a nutshell, as part of a bank bailout, the EU and IMF are demanding that the citizens of Cyprus “buy-in” to the bailout through a “one-time” tax on their bank accounts of up to 10% of total deposits.  The problem is, the Cypriot government is not the target of the bailout, their equivalent of a Federal Reserve is the target of the bailout.  So the EU and IMF, supranational bureaucracies, demanded and the President of Cyprus acquiesced to allowing an across-the-board theft of a portion of every bank account in Cyprus’ banks to bailout the banks themselves.

What makes this informative is how it plays out…. Cyprus’ legislature still has the ability to squash this deal, but if they don’t I would venture to guess that any future bailouts will use this formula.  What’s more scary for the financial sector as an whole is that I’m not alone in thinking this and citizen-confidence in the banking system is dropping like a stone.  Most people are looking at this and imagining their governments selling them out like this.

If I were an Italian, Greek, Irish, or Portuguese citizen, I would withdraw every red cent from the banks, close my accounts, and tell the system that they will need to find a way to do it without me.  They cannot tax what they cannot hold…. which explains the ongoing bank run of money OUT of Europe.

The problem is, where to put the money?  Every bank in the world is controlled, regulator, or under the authority of some government body, which may just choose to ‘tax’ those accounts to pad it’s operating funds or perhaps negate the deficit for a short period of time?

So what’ll it be – stuffing it in the mattress or hiding it in a coffee can in the backyard?  Both are probably as safe as leaving it under the bank’s control – able to be “taxed” at the whims of government in the middle of the night.

Edited to clarify: This is the first time in recorded financial history that the DEPOSITORS of a bank and not just the BONDHOLDERS (investors) have been forced to do this.  This is a major deal and echoes of MF GLOBAL and the way the DEPOSITORS had their funds seized and paid out to creditors in absolute violation of the law.  So in essence, there is NO LAW that will protect your deposited money any longer.  That FDIC insurance? Null.  Brokerage insurance? Null. 

The rule of law has been turned on it’s head.

If I lived in Cyprus, I wouldn’t bother with the banks. I’d be loading magazines.  The government and banks just declared open war.

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