Tag Archives: Cyprus Protests

Cyprus – The Waterloo of Eurocratic management or the ultimate catalyst for Euro zone growth?

3/18/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

While the management of the ongoing banking crises on this side of the Atlantic has been dishonest, the management on the other side of the pond, or in today’s case, sea, has been an unmitigated disaster.  Or so it would seem.

We are talking about Cyprus.  For those who have yet to hear about Cyprus, it is an island nation located in the far eastern Mediterranean Sea, just below Turkey.  It is currently inhabited by a fiery mix of Greeks and Turks, who have lived in an uneasy peace with each other for some 40 years after the events that took place during the summer of 1974.

Like many island nations, Cyprus has been able to find common ground with those who have been unable to find common ground on the mainland.  It has found that it can leverage its sovereignty and willingness to bend the rules to offer banking services without the nagging regulations which increasingly plague banks and their clients in the Western nations on the mainland.

Now that the government of Cyprus is bankrupt and in need of a bailout, showing that even a tax and banking paradise can be poisoned by a bad currency, they have gone hat in hand to Belgium, a strange country in the north with absolutely nothing in common with Cyprus, save the currency in question.

The Eurocratic apparatus in Belgium, either on its own or at the behest of the global banking giants in Cyprus, has decided that the terms of the bailout, or “bail in”, which is the Euro friendly way to say “Corralito,” {Editor’s Note:  Corralito is the Argentinean term for when the Government decides to unilaterally make use of the funds in its country’s banks to fund the government because there is literally no one willing to lend them currency on any terms}, would be the direct confiscation of funds from depositors bank accounts in the form of a tax, in this case between 3 and 9.9% (because 10% just looks bad in print) to ultimately pay back the countries who have been generous enough to provide the funds, which, despite the technicalities involved, for most Europeans means Germany.

Predictably, the people of Cyprus, who caught wind of the confirmation of the rumors on Friday and awoke Monday to find that their government had declared what is, at this writing, an indefinite banking holiday (meaning banks and ATMs are closed) to prevent anyone who did not want to participate in the bail in from withdrawing their funds from the country’s banks, are channeling their anger at the German Embassy, quite naturally:

Henry Blodget has written a decent analysis on the details of the Cyprus bail in over at the Daily Ticker.  Blodget does a good job of analyzing the events up until the point where He presumes:

“…the moment depositors think that there is risk to their savings, they rush to banks to yank their money out.

That’s called a run on the bank.

And since no bank anywhere has enough cash on hand to pay off all its depositors at once, runs on the bank cause banks to go bust.

That’s what happened to hundreds of banks in the Great Depression.

And it’s what happened to Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and other huge banks during the financial crisis (though, with Bear and Lehman, the folks who yanked their money out weren’t mom and pop depositors but other big financial institutions). It’s what threatened to bring the entire U.S. financial system to its knees. And it’s why the U.S. and European governments have been frantically bailing out banks ever since.

But now, thanks to the eurozone’s bizarre decision in Cyprus, the illusion that depositors don’t need to yank their money out of threatened banks because they’ll be protected has been shattered.”

What Blodget presumes is that a bank run is bad for the bank.  Here at The Mint, we postulate that this tax on depositors is taken precisely for the benefit of the Cypriot banks.  Further, it has been taken not only for the benefit of the banks in Cypriot, but to serve as the catalyst for the Euro zone to return to growth, or the activities which pass as economic growth circa 2013.

How can this be?  To understand this will take a basic understanding of the banking revenue model.

Ever since 2008, the Federal Reserve and the ECB have been underwriting the banking sector by providing cheap cash to banks and, indirectly, the governments and people’s of their respective countries.  This is where Blodget’s parallel of today’s bank runs and those that occurred during the Great Depression falls apart.  For all of the mistakes that Ben Bernanke has made, the unconditional guarantee of liquidity in the banking system is the one that he will never relinquish, despite appeals to reason, for he mysteriously sees it as his life’s calling.

However, in an effort to stem the fall in asset prices, which is largely a product of the insane “jack the rate 25 basis points every month or so” policy that the Greenspan and Bernanke Fed followed from June 2004 until June 2006, the policy that caused markets to seize up like a car engine losing oil as they accelerated to record speeds, the Feds and the ECB have largely ignited an increase not in economic growth, but in bank deposits.

Bank deposits, far from being a boon to the receiving bank, are a huge problem when market conditions force them to reinvest (read lend out) those funds for rates that are unconscionably low (3.75% to consumers for 30 years, in a fiat currency system, are you out of your mind?).  Making matters worse, the consumers have been slow to take the bait, resulting in a big time squeeze on the traditional banking revenue model.

Enter Cyprus, an island that holds a disproportionate amount of bank deposits.  As a thinking Eurocrat, of which we suspect there are few, save Nile Farage, who is hunting for a way to both ensure that the banking revenue model continues to function, the government of Cyprus retains legitimacy, and that economic activity in the Euro zone will increase, the pile of Euros in Cypriot banks looks like a great target not to loot, as most analysis of the situation will paint this move as, but to force billions of Euros out of the digital vaults of the banking system to wash from the shores of Cyprus outwards into the other Euro zone countries in search of real goods, not simply another cash warehouse.

One sees the Eurocratic genius in the move at the moment one (again, that is you and I, fellow taxpayer) understands that the mere threat of a unilateral tax on deposits as a condition for a Euro zone bailout is causing lines to form at ATMs from Andalu to Cataluña, across the border into Torino and down to the lonely parts of Sicily.

Cyprus Flag
Will the Cyprus Misadventure by the catalyst for elusive economic growth in the Euro zone?

Within a matter of days, billions of Euros which were locked up in the accounts of villainous savers and otherwise useless to the European economy will be running around the Spanish and Italian streets in a desperate attempt to purchase anything real in which to hold said savings.

With what appears to have been a typically boneheaded Eurocratic move, the Eurocrats may have managed to do what Ben Bernanke and all of the helicopters in the world could not have done to the club Med economies:  Shower them with foolishly spent cash while at the same time bailing out both the banks and the governments as a grotesque side effect.

To be sure, it is a short term fix and will leave the Euro zone further down the scorched earth economy path in a matter of years.  Even so, you have to give the Eurocrats some credit for pulling out all the stops, even if they did stumble upon their ultimate stimulus, which relies upon their own stupidity to function, completely by accident.

Meanwhile in Cyprus, the latest is that the government wants to “think over” the terms of the bailout.  The formal vote has been postponed until Friday, and we presume that the banking holiday will remain in effect until after the vote is taken and any taxes are skimmed.

It is a hard assignment, and we do not envy them nor blame them for thinking it over.  The decision before Cyprus’ government officials is simple.  Should they accept the bailout, they face being blamed by their countrymen for sacrificing their parched island on the Eurocratic altar as well as spending the rest of their lives dodging the hit men of any oligarch’s who did not have sufficient forewarning of the move.

Should they reject the bailout, their government may even find a few contributions from said oligarchs to keep operating, and the only cost will be a few less German tourists on their shores, which, given the alternative, seems a small price to pay.

In the end, if our hunch is correct, the mere threat of corallito should be enough to stimulate the Euro zone.

Were we in their shoes, and we are glad we are not, we would reject the bailout.  Either way, it is a strong argument for exiting the formal banking system or becoming a large net creditor.  It is much easier for “crats” of any stripe to confiscate assets with a few keystrokes than for them to lift a finger to grab something in the real world.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for March 18, 2013 (PM)

Copper Price per Lb: $3.43
Oil Price per Barrel:  $93.79
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.20
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.96%
FED Target Rate:  0.15%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,606 THE GOLD RUSH IS STILL ON!
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.7%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  14,452
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,466,100,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,499,300,000,000