Why the Cyprus Depositors Savings Theft Could Set Banking Back 300 Years
Mar 19, 2013
Even by the standards of the EU bureaucracy, raiding the private deposits of Cyprus’ banks is spectacularly foolish.
For a measly $5.8 billion euros, the EU has now put the entire Eurozone on edge-not to mention the entire global economy.
It revolves around something as simple as trust. And as a former banker, I can tell you that there’s no substitute for the belief that your deposits are safe and sound.
It’s a thin line and once it’s been crossed it’s nearly impossible to repair.
Now savers in Spain, Italy and elsewhere in the Eurozone are left to wonder about the safety of their own accounts.
Here’s why savers everywhere should be concerned…
The Problem With the Cyprus “Bailout”
Like Ireland and Iceland, Cyprus has a banking sector that’s not only shaky but is far bigger than its overall economy, with deposits of around $90 billion, or five times its GDP.
Unlike most banking systems, more than half of those deposits are in large chunks of over 100,000 euros ($128,000), the limit of Cyprus’ deposit insurance. Indeed, about $20 billion of Cyprus’ deposits are held by the Russian mafia.
Since Cyprus’ president Nicos Anastasiades didn’t want to shut down the island’s attraction as a money haven and playground for the Russian jet-set, he agreed to a deposit tax of 6.7% on deposits up to 100,000 euros and 9.9% on deposits above 100,000 euros, to satisfy the EU’s demand of 5.8 billion euros ($7.2 billion) part of the bank bailout.
But like most schemes designed by politicians and EU bureaucrats, this one has huge flaws, including the fact it angered Russian president Vladimir Putin. Even at this level, with much of the money coming from Cyprus’ modestly well-off citizens, Putin described it as “unfair, unprofessional and dangerous.”