26 March 2013: Markets negative to Cyprus bail-out


Digesting the details of the Cyprus bailout markets reacted negative to the scheme agreed in Brussels Monday morning. After initially rallying stock markets fell back yesterday evening and Asian shares eased as investors worried about the potential risk from the Cyprus bailout scheme. Euro/USD which rallied on the news and reached 1.3050, fell steeply back and trades at 1.2869 putting the single currency under new downward pressure. “Safe haven” currencies as USD and Japanese yen have strengthened. Gold is falling back after initially rallying to 1614.

Markets were positive to the news that a crisis was averted. But as the details of the bailout scheme became clear, markets were starkly reminded of the risk involved in the Euro zone. When little Cyprus with a million people and a GDP constituting 0,2% of the GDP in Western Europe, creates such waves in the financial markets what when a crisis occur in Spain or Italy? The EU handling of the crisis leaves serious questions and strengthens the impression that the Euro zone is living on borrowed time and a breakup of the common currency edges closer.

The Euro based on a lack of common taxation and financial policies has over the last years experienced 5 crisis situations ending up with bailouts in Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Spain and now Cyprus. While tax payers were doomed to pay the bill for the first four crisis, Cyprus is instituting a new unheard principle. Bank depositors are this time asked to pay for the mess created primarily by Bank of Cyprus and Popular Bank of Cyprus’s speculations with depositors’ money over the last years in crisis ridden Greece.

The new package exempts depositors with accounts below Euro 100 000. Depositors with a balance above EURO 100 000 will have their accounts frozen and the door kept open for future confiscations in the magnitude of 40%. EU officials stated yesterday that this step, confiscating private depositors’ funds, might constitute the rule for the future. Strict currency controls are introduced and the banks are going to open firstly on Thursday being closed for two weeks. Bank clients are permitted to subtract Euro 100 from their accounts using ATM machines.

EU and especially Germany have in their propaganda for justifying what they with a misled concept have called “levy”, made Russian depositors in Cyprus the scapegoat. Most observers with some knowledge are aware that the big chunk of the Russian cash in Cypriot banks has its root in the chaotic privatization following the fall of communism and the Soviet Union in 1991. The bank system broke down, and Russians used Cyprus as one of many new domiciles for cash stashed in their luggage. Nobody asked, too, many questions. The west supported the wild-west privatization as the true token of freedom and democracy. Cypriot auditors, law offices, real estate agents and bankers did not ask naughty questions and greatly thrived on the Russian business.

OECD in the late 1990-ies put Russia on the black list for suspected money laundering countries. After thorough investigations Cyprus was removed from this list in 2002. Removal from the black list was one of the preconditions for EU membership in 2004 and the entry into the Euro in 2006. The 10% corporate tax which now is going to be increased to 12,5%, was introduced as a result of negotiations and EU-agreement to facilitate a country that had to accept the common agriculture policies and prohibition of production of traditional products. The so called “troika” has for a long time demanded free access to banks and other institutions. Suddenly over the night Russian money and some “oligarchs” have been turned into a money laundering mafia.

President Nicos Anastasiades who has his fair share of rich Russians on his law office clients list, defended the bailout terms in a televised speech to the nation yesterday last night as the majority of Cypriots ask for independence and threaten to leave the Euro. Whether his arguments will dampen the anger of fury in a small country realizing being dictated from Berlin and Brussels, are open questions. The last two weeks have opened independent Cypriots’ eyes for what it means to be member of a rich man’s club in Northern Europe. Cypriots are as Greeks, Russians and Serbians orthodox. Religion plays an important role as strategic and security considerations did when Turkey invaded the island in 1974.

In this situation it may be dangerous to concentrate only on small figures and behave as elephants in a Chinese porcelain shop. 

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