Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Will UK Interest Rate Rises Crash House Prices? - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Full on Crash Alert for Major World Stock Markets... - Clive_Maund
3.Gold And Silver Market Bottoming? Big Rally Imminent? Reality Check Says NO - Michael_Noonan
4.The Coming Silver Price Rally Will Outperform All Previous Ones - Hubert_Moolman
5.The Trigger For The Upcoming Stock Crash - Harry_Dent
6.Imploding Department Store Results - James_Quinn
7.Dr. Copper is Speaking, are you Listening? ... - Rambus_Chartology
8.Pandemonium in the Stock Market, Dow falls 1,000 points in a week - EWI
9.Asia's Whirling Dervish of Devaluations Has Encircled China's Exports - Keith_Hilden
10.China Weakens the Yuan; Rattles Global Stock and Financial Markets - Gary_Dorsch
Last 5 days
The Beginning Of A New Financial / Stock Market Cycle - 1st Sept 15
Three Things Every Master Trader Knows About Trading Options - 1st Sept 15
Chinese Yuan Revolution? - 1st Sept 15
Take Advantage of Record-High Auto Sales… Before This Bubble Bursts - 1st Sept 15
Pondering Hitler's Legacy - 1st Sept 15
Mainstream Media Goes Berserk - 1st Sept 15
Your Decisive Stock Market Plan to Follow Whilst Most Investors Shiver With Fear - 1st Sept 15
Are There Stock and Financial Markets Investing Opportunities For The Remainder Of 2015 - 1st Sept 15
Crude Oil Price Forecast 2015 and 2016 - 1st Sept 15
REPO Window Hidden $Trillion QE Monthly Volume - 31st Aug 15
Silver and Warnings From Exponential Markets - 31st Aug 15
Stock Market Calls Fed’s Bluff - 31st Aug 15
Why Some ETFs Led the Stock Markets Down Last Week - 31st Aug 15
Stock Market Collapse - Take The Opportunity To Bail Before It’s Too Late! - 31st Aug 15
The Most Important Market Chart on The Planet - 31st Aug 15
Stock Market 50% Retracement - 31st Aug 15
Stock Market Crash Red Alert for 2nd Downwave... - 31st Aug 15
Independant Scotland 1 Year on, UK Civil War If the SNP Fanatics Had Succeeded - 30th Aug 15
Gold’s 7 Point Broadening Top - 30th Aug 15
The Day the Stock Market Shook the Earth: Takeaways From the Dow’s 1,000-Point Drop - 30th Aug 15
Gold Price Rally Marked by Short Covering - 30th Aug 15
Aging Stocks Bull Market - 29th Aug 15
Economic Destabilization, Financial Meltdown and the Rigging of the Shanghai Stock Market? - 29th Aug 15
The Stocks You Should Be Buying After the Market Drop - 29th Aug 15
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Market Fluctuations - 28th Aug 15
China's Yuan Devaluation: Why It Was "Expected" - 28th Aug 15
Stocks Go Nuts But the Question Remains – Will the Rally Stick? - 28th Aug 15
Fed’s Stock Market Levitation is Failing - 28th Aug 15
The Eight Energy Systems Driving The Stock Market Rout - 28th Aug 15
Silver Sold, then Squeezed - 28th Aug 15
U.S. Economic Fundamentals 'Look Good' - Bullard of St. Louis Fed - 28th Aug 15
Stock Market Margin Calls Mount - 28th Aug 15
Einstein, Physics, Gold and The Formula To End Economic Decay - 28th Aug 15
The 10 Best Stocks for Options Trading Plays in This Market - 28th Aug 15
Economics of a Stock Market Crash - 28th Aug 15
Currency Wars Detonate; Gold Refuses to Budge - 28th Aug 15
UK Immigration Crisis Hits New Record, Trending Towards Becoming a Catastrophe - 28th Aug 15
The Ultimate Cash-Management Guide - 27th Aug 15
Why a Fed Rate Hike Could Be a Blessing for Gold Prices - 27th Aug 15
Why Devaluing the Yuan Won't Help China's Economy - 27th Aug 15
Stock Market Trend & Trade Signal Of the Decade - 27th Aug 15
Keep Your Eye On the Gold and Silver Bear - 27th Aug 15
Refugees Expose Europe’s Lack Of Decency - 27th Aug 15
How to Profit from China's Currency War - 27th Aug 15
How China's Currency Policies Will Change the World - 27th Aug 15
Chinese Medicine not Impressing Dr Copper - 27th Aug 15
Novel Biotech Novel Technology Platforms with Dramatic Growth Potential - 27th Aug 15
China Stocks Bear Market Crash, Are We Near the Bottom Yet? - 27th Aug 15
Stock Market Crash Black Wednesday Rally Crushes the Bears - 26th Aug 15
VIX Shorts Being Squeezed While SPX Prepares for Another Decline - 26th Aug 15
Why China's Economy is Deteriorating - 26th Aug 15
Citizenship as a Weapon: Travel Controls and What You Can Do About It - 26th Aug 15
Gold and Silver - How To Manipulate a Market - 26th Aug 15
How to Make a Quick 20% When the Stock Market Crashes - 26th Aug 15
Why We Can’t Handle A Stocks Bear Market - State Budgets Will Implode - 26th Aug 15
Stocks Bear Market, Is This 1929 All Over Again? - 26th Aug 15
The One Trading Strategy You Needed for Stock Market Crash - 26th Aug 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Global Stocks Slide

Why the Cyprus Depositors Savings Theft Could Set Banking Back 300 Years

Stock-Markets / Credit Crisis 2013 Mar 19, 2013 - 11:25 AM GMT

By: Money_Morning

Stock-Markets

Martin Hutchinson writes: 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."

But the main flaw isn't about Putin. It has to do with the idea of deposit insurance itself.

Under a separate scheme introduced by the EU after the 2008 financial crash, deposits under 100,000 euros are insured by the Cyprus government.

Of course, the "tax" on deposits is a supposedly clever way to get around this without the Cyprus government itself defaulting. However, all this little trick does is call into question deposit insurance throughout the EU and, indeed, worldwide.

That's why this tiny country, with a population of only 800,000 and $17 billion in GDP, has roiled the world markets-- it attacked the central principle of deposit insurance.

After all, if governments can just seize deposits by means of a "tax" then deposit insurance is worth absolutely zippo.

Meanwhile in Cyprus, there were a number of alternatives to breaking this underlying bond of trust. The banks have some bond debts outstanding, which certainly should have been written down before the deposits were attacked. In fact, the tax is an attempt to avoid this, and should be resisted on that ground alone.

Instead, because the large deposits are so big, you could raise the required 5.8 million euros simply by a 15% tax on large deposits - but that would make Putin REALLY angry (he personally may or may not have money in Cyprus, but lots of his friends do).

They could also write down Cypriot government bonds, but because the banking system is relatively so huge the write-off would have to be a big one. To get 5.8 billion euros it would take more than a 50% write-down.

In the big picture, Cyprus doesn't matter much, unless EU incompetence and the recalcitrance of its own politicians makes it leave the euro altogether, in which case that currency unit yet again faces the prospect of break-up.

Who Can You Trust?
But in this case, the effect on global deposit insurance systems is much more important.

Deposit insurance was first invented in the United States during the Great Depression as a means to reassure savers about the solvency of banks, a third of which had just gone belly-up. It worked beautifully. Americans trusted the federal government (at least, they did back then), so once deposit insurance was in place savers came to have complete trust in the banking system.

Unfortunately, that same trust had a very bad effect on the banking system itself.

From leverage ratios of $4-5 of assets to $1 of capital in the 1920s, banks leveraged themselves ad infinitum, having leverage ratios of $10-12 of debt to $1 of capital in the 1970s, and up to $30 of assets to $1 of capital in 2008.

Even today, after de-leveraging, J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), in many ways the most solid of the big banks, had assets of $2,359 billion at the end of 2012 and tangible equity of only $146 billion -- or a ratio of 16.2 to 1. As recently as 2010, JPM's leverage was 19.3 to 1.

At those levels you can see the dangers that kind of leverage presents.

In fact, I counseled the National Bank of Croatia to this effect, when they were designing their deposit insurance system in 1996-97, advising them to have insurance covering only 90% of deposits. Unfortunately the politicians in the Croatian parliament overruled us, so Croatia now has the same damaging 100% insurance as everywhere else.

So the depositor today ends up with the worst of both worlds. He can't rely on the banks not to go bust, given their current absurd levels of leverage (which are of course encouraged by Ben Bernanke's money printing). On the other hand, now there's a question of whether he can rely on deposit insurance either.

If these worries become really serious, it will be devastating for the world economy. Small savers will take their money out of banks and resort to household safes and a shotgun.

If savers no longer have a solid place in which to put their money, we will have undone the financial revolution of the last 300 years, and returned to a world in which Samuel Pepys didn't trust the local goldsmith, so buried most of his wealth in the back garden. Needless to say, that won't do much for small business - the entire flow of finance will seize up altogether.

The solution is to do away with deposit insurance, forcing banks that want to attract depositors to hold $1 of capital for every $4-5 of assets, at most.

Eliminating Ben Bernanke and going back to a gold standard will probably be necessary too-even though that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

But if politicians continue behaving as badly as those who designed the Cyprus bailout, the gold standard will be the only economically viable alternative.

With this "bailout" all the EU has done is open up a Pandora's Box.

Source :http://moneymorning.com/2013/03/19/why-the-cyprus-bailout-could-set-banking-back-300-years/

Money Morning/The Money Map Report

©2013 Monument Street Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. Any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), of content from this website, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Monument Street Publishing. 105 West Monument Street, Baltimore MD 21201, Email: customerservice@moneymorning.com

Disclaimer: Nothing published by Money Morning should be considered personalized investment advice. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized investent advice. We expressly forbid our writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to our readers. All of our employees and agents must wait 24 hours after on-line publication, or after the mailing of printed-only publication prior to following an initial recommendation. Any investments recommended by Money Morning should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Money Morning Archive

© 2005-2015 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

Biggest Debt Bomb in History