Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Putin’s World: Why Russia’s Showdown with the West Will Worsen - John_Mauldin
2. Stocks Bull Market Grinds Bears into Dust, Is Santa Rally Sustainable? - Nadeem_Walayat
3. Gold and Silver 2015 Trend Forecasts, Prices to Go BOOM - Austin_Galt
4.Gold Price Golden Bottom? - Toby_Connor
5.Gold Price and Miners Soar on Huge Volume - P_Radomski_CFA
6.Stock Market and the Jaws of Life or Death? - Rambus_Chartology
7.Gold Price 2015 - EWI
8.Manipulated Stock Market Short Squeezes to Another All Time High - The China Syndrome - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Gold, Silver, Crude and S&P Ending Wedge Patterns - DeviantInvestor
10.Is the Gold And Silver Golden Rule Broken? - Michael_Noonan
Last 5 days
Stock Market At Minor Top - 22nd Dec 14
UK Christmas Sales 2014 High Street Start Dates List - 22nd Dec 14
Ruble Takedown Exposes Cracks in Putin’s Defense - 20th Dec 14
Oil Drilling Our Way Into Oblivion - 20th Dec 14
Stocks Bull Market Resumes - 20th Dec 14
Gold And Silver Nothing Is Ever As It Seems And No Respite For PMs - 20th Dec 14
What Are Technical Indicators Saying About the Stock Market? - 20th Dec 14
Here’s How You Can Still Make 27% With Apple Even if You Buy Now - 20th Dec 14
Gold Stocks to Shine in 2015 - 19th Dec 14
Why Alibaba Stock Shares Are a Screaming Buy - 19th Dec 14
China, Dollar, Japan, Europe Burning Questions for 2015 - 19th Dec 14
U.S. Economy is in a Sweet Spot! - 19th Dec 14
US Dollar and the Gold Fairy Tale - 19th Dec 14
Show Me The Money (Flow)! Tracking Money-Flow Through Value Shifts In Stock Markets - 19th Dec 14
The Commodities Market Is Not Dying, It’s Just Hibernating - 19th Dec 14
The Price Of Gold And The Art Of War - 18th Dec 14
Euro Succumbs to ECB QE Expectations and FOMC - 18th Dec 14
John Williams: A Downhill Run for the U.S. Dollar in 2015 - 18th Dec 14
Outrage at Taliban Islamic Fundamentalists Massacre of 132 Pakistani School Children in the Name of God - 18th Dec 14
How Inflation Changes Retirement Benefit Choices - 17th Dec 14
The Real Reason It's Tough to Beat the Stock Market - 17th Dec 14
Russian Currency Crisis and Debt Defaults Could Create Contagion in West - 17th Dec 14
How to Profit From Russia's Stock Market Crash - 17th Dec 14
Russia Crisis - If You Put Your Money in the Bank Will You Get it Back? - 17th Dec 14
Crude Oil Price Crash, U.S. Employment and Economic Growth - 17th Dec 14
Opposing Forces At Play In Gold and Silver Precious Metals Complex - 17th Dec 14
Wall Street Will Always Find An Excuse For Not Raising U.S. Interest Rates - 17th Dec 14

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Dramatic Stock Market Selloff

Cyprus Bank Run, Who's Next?

Stock-Markets / Credit Crisis 2013 Mar 16, 2013 - 11:48 AM GMT

By: Raul_I_Meijer

Stock-Markets

Overnight last night, the Eurogroup (Eurozone executive committee) negotiated a deal for a bailout of the banking system in Cyprus. As part of the deal, a one-time, one-off levy on depositors was agreed: deposits below €100,000 are subject to a 6.75% levy, while those over €100,000 are subject to a 9.99% "fine".

While none of the timing is surprising - late Friday, early Saturday is always the ideal time to push such measures down people's throats -, neither did it come as a surprise that a bank run ensued as soon as those few Cypriot banks that do business on Saturday mornings, opened their doors.


This had been foreseen, of course. And so capital controls had been set up beforehand. In this case, limited deposit withdrawals and a full suspension of internet banking. The justification for all this can be found in the large amounts of Russian - allegedly black market - deposits in Cyprus. But while that may be presented as justification, it's by no means not where the potential fall-out will halt.

After all, what's to say that what can be done to depositors in Cyprus' banks, cannot just as easily be repeated for Greek, Italian, Spanish ones? If the EU wasn't yet scared enough of Beppe Grillo and his still surging popularity, now would be a good time to start being afraid. While everyone's focus is on the Russian mob, nobody (just read the press reports today) talks about the law-abiding Cypriots who see their hard earned savings wealth forcibly taken from them. Nobody but the likes of Grillo, that is. Who said earlier this week that (northern) Europe would drop Italy like a stone once German, French and Dutch banks have shed their risky Italian assets.

Besides, if you think the Russian deposit holders are fatally wounded right now, think again. They've seen this coming for at least 6 months, they've had all the time they need to move assets around, and, if anything, will simply use this decision to launder a lot of capital, and happily pay a 10% fee for the honor.

Cyprus is small, and the hope is that hardly anyone will notice what happens there, or be interested. But throughout the Eurozone over the past five years, deposit guarantees have risen, in a so far pretty successful attempt to prevent bank runs. Overnight, that model has now been thrown out with the bathwater. And all of Europe should be wary of what happened. A precedent has been set, and what's good for the goose fits the gander.

Not that German, French, Dutch depositors will lose sleep right this moment, but then that's precisely the idea. The EU core nations have so far been able to convince their citizens that they are rich and their economies recovering, and everything's under control. Moreover, the story that Russian criminals get a 10% haircut goes down well among the respectable citizenry. What happens if and when Italy or Spain need a bailout like Cyprus is not even considered. But maybe that's not so smart.

The Cyprus bailout was ostensibly executed to "save the Eurozone”. And it was presented as a one-off. But so was Greece and its forced haircuts for investors. You can only have so many one-offs and remain credible. European economies are all still deteriorating, though admittedly there are a few choice German numbers that are not all bad. But there can be no doubt that pressure on the EU/Eurogroup to step in again in some country will arise some time soon. Will that country's depositors leave their money in the bank when that threat becomes real, or will they take it out? What would you do now the Cyprus example is in place?

It's true that Cyprus banks are bloated with assets at 800% of GDP. That's about the same as Ireland, and everyone agrees that "something must be done". Iceland once stood at 1000%, but it's an order of magnitude smaller even than Cyprus, and not a Eurozone member, just like Malta, which presently stands at 1000%.

The picture may change for other Europeans, however, when they realize that overall EU bank assets in 2012 were 366% of GDP, at €47.3 trillion ($61.5 trillion). And if those numbers look too abstract, here's a comparison: in 2011, US bank assets were at 74% of GDP (€8.6 trillion), and Japan's 178% (€7.1 trillion). How about that for perspective?

Among individual member nations, bank assets vs GDP differ. France and The Netherlands clock well over 400%, Germany, Spain and Portugal over 300%, while Italy is well below 300%. That almost makes the latter look like a cautious nation, until you look at issues like government debt.

Overall, these numbers draw an excellent picture of why it's so hard to agree on a banking union. Actually, it's merely a part of the picture, but it still speaks loud enough. That banking union will, guaranteed, even if it is at some point established, never include the UK. There, bank assets are quite a stretch over 500% of GDP, and there are estimates that put that number much higher still. There is no doubt that Britain has a hugely bloated financial sector, i.e. The City, and it has no other policies in place than to protect it, let it grow even further and increase its economic dependency on the financial sector.

With total EU bank assets at €47.3 trillion, private sector deposits at €10.2 trillion (equal to total UK bank assets) and total deposits at €17 trillion, there's a substantial gap (or several), comprised to a considerable extent of risk-carrying assets. This risk, when combined with overall plunging economic prospects, leaves Europe with a poisonous financial mix. And as much as those involved can try to smooth-talk it all over, you can bet your donkey that for the law-abiding hard working citizens of the next rescue case, the world will be cast in the gloomy light of what happened to Cyprus on Saturday, March 16 2013.

And they don't even yet have to know that Europe's shadow banking system adds another €17 trillion to the risk picture. They have been sufficiently warned: Brussels has laid out its true intentions on the table. Like a big red flag. In Europe, the much touted government deposit insurance itself has now become a risky asset.

By Raul Ilargi Meijer
Website: http://theautomaticearth.com (provides unique analysis of economics, finance, politics and social dynamics in the context of Complexity Theory)

© 2013 Copyright Raul I Meijer - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

Raul Ilargi Meijer Archive

© 2005-2014 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Free Report - Financial Markets 2014