Radical rescue proposed for Cyprus

This post was written by Philip Lane

including losses for uninsured depositors.  FT report here.

9 Responses to “Radical rescue proposed for Cyprus”

  1. OMF Says:

    Are they serious? After all this time? Either someone has spiked their schnapps, or the Germans are actively trying to break up the eurozone.

  2. PR Guy Says:

    ‘Proposed’

    Such a great word. If only all proposals turned into action eh? I haven’t met a German yet who’s keen on bailing out the Russian mafia money laundering squat that is Cyprus today. And it certainly wouldn’t sound to good in an election year if a German politico said it must happen….

  3. anonym Says:

    Sounds like the oldest trick in the book: when asked to present the boss with two options, present one strikingly unattractive option and the course you want him to choose as the other.

  4. DOCM Says:

    This link which I posted on another thread is informative especially in that it illustrates that playing hardball on the part of the ECB is not confined to Ireland.

    http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/soziales/ezb-direktor-asmussen-macht-bei-hilfen-fuer-zypern-druck-a-882510.html

    The background as per the English language edition of Der Spiegel

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/merkel-opponent-steinbrueck-sets-conditions-for-cyprus-aid-support-a-881351.html

    The FT rather obliquely admist that the document under discussion has no official standing.

    It may be noted that Asmussen sets the end of March as the deadline for agreement which suggests that the fireworks tomorrow will be of a preliminary character and the gauntlet laid down to Russia to assist will allow some time for the issue of burning depositors Russian nationality to play out.

  5. Paul Ferguson Says:

    When 97% of euros exist as ‘deposits’ or liabilities of the banks, it’s a worry if the latest idea is to write these liabilities, and hence money, off out of existence.

    An alternative approach could be to declare all bank deposits as legal tender. After all the taxman will accept a cheque or bank transfer even though cash is the only official form of legal tender.

    To get to the point; If bank deposits were legal tender they would not be an agreement from the bank to pay you money - They would be the actual money. And so there would be no need to record bank deposits as liabilities of the banking sector.

    If a bank went bankrupt under such a system all current account balances would move to another bank.

    As a bonus, with all bank deposits as legal tender banks could no longer destroy money through loan repayments and so we’d stop reducing the money supply further. Banks would automatically have to deal with existing money only too and so new money would not require the creation of a corresponding debt to the banks also.

  6. Frank Galton Says:

    Interesting that Ireland’s 12.5% corpo tax rate seems to be benchmarks.

    Hopefully the oligarchs don’t read the FT and will just leave their deposits sitting there to be haircut.

  7. DOCM Says:

    This link to a Die Zeit interview with the technocrat Cypriot minister for finance gives a more nuanced picture of the situation than that evidently prevalent in Germany.

    http://www.zeit.de/2013/06/Zypern-Finanzminister-Vassos-Shiarly

    It may be noted that the minister fudges the definition of government debt in relation to the involvement of Cyprus in the most recent Greek bailout.

  8. Joseph Ryan Says:

    Burning Cypriot depositors. Extraordinary. Almost more extraordinary is singling out ‘Russian’ depositors for their very first ‘Euro’ shave.
    The old bear may not react too well when he sees the Europeans making off with his honey.
    One could foresee a shaky’ time for EZ investment in Russia.
    Those unnamed Russian depositors may well come out on top, in a tit-for-tat asset grab.

    When is a euro not a euro? When it belongs to a Russian, who has deposited it in a non-systemic county.

  9. Mickey Hickey Says:

    NYT article

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/business/global/euros-strength-on-agenda-for-finance-ministers.html?hpw&_r=0

    E.U. Ministers at Odds Over Strength of the Euro
    By JAMES KANTER
    Published: February 11, 2013

    BRUSSELS — Concern over the euro moved to the forefront Monday as finance ministers of the countries using the currency held their monthly meeting. But this time, with the European Union’s recession continuing, the topic was the strength of the euro rather than its many weaknesses.
    Enlarge This Image
    Yves Logghe/Associated Press

    Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup, with Christine Lagarde, managing director of the I.M.F. in Brussels on Monday.

    As confidence has grown that the Union will be able to manage its sovereign debt crisis, the euro has made significant gains against the dollar and other foreign currencies. That is making Europe’s exports more expensive, a factor that could hamper growth.

    On Monday, France, which traditionally favors market intervention, renewed its calls for remedial steps that could include establishing a target level for the euro’s value.

    Exchange rates need “to reflect the economic fundamentals of our economies of the euro zone,” said Pierre Moscovici, the French finance minister. “Exchange rates should not become subjected to moods or speculation.”

    Mr. Moscovici made the case to other members of the so-called Eurogroup of finance ministers, asking for coordinated action to keep a lid on the value of the euro currency. Before the meeting, Mr. Moscovici said he wanted the Europeans to present a common plan later this week during a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of 20 nations to be held in Moscow.

    In a news conference after Monday’s meeting, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup, who oversees the agenda for the monthly meetings, said the euro exhange rate had been discussed. But like some German officials, he appeared to give the matter short shrift, saying that the forum for further discussion should be the G-20 meeting in Moscow.

    “That’s where exchange rates, if anywhere, should be addressed,” Mr. Dijsselbloem said.

    Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, warned last week that the strength of the euro could weigh on the ability of Europe to pull out of its economic doldrums. Those comments were enough to send the euro down sharply against the dollar — to $1.36 from $1.34 — and the yen.

    The euro was trading at $1.339 on Monday after falling to the low $1.20s last year.

    The renewed French push for greater scope to control the levers of the European economy immediately met stiff resistance from a senior German official, who decried the initiative as a poor substitute for policy overhauls.

    Jens Weidmann, the president of the German central bank, the Bundesbank, suggested Monday that countries like France were simply diverting attention from the need to make their economies more competitive.

    “Only governments can solve these problems, the central banks cannot,” he added. “In this respect, the discussion about a supposed overvaluation of the euro’s exchange rate simply deviates from the real challenges.”

    Mr. Weidmann also warned that an exchange rate policy aimed at weakening the euro would “in the end result in higher inflation.”

    A number of ministers agreed Monday that intervention would be wrongheaded.

    “This is mainly decided by the market,” Maria Fekter, the Austrian finance minister, said in response to a question on the strong euro as she arrived at the meeting. “I find an artificial weakening unnecessary.”

    The strong euro means some European exports, like cars and wine, become more expensive abroad, putting European producers at a disadvantage against foreign competitors. But there are also positive effects. Imports, particularly oil, become less expensive for Europeans, which helps stimulate the economy.

    The push for intervention by the French is unlikely to make much real headway. Instead, it may be an illustration of the way that economic policies in the euro area are a result of a back-and-forth between states like France and Germany.

    “The French have always believed the single currency should be put to the service of exports,” said Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst with the Eurasia Group, a political risk research and consulting firm. “But it’s not a debate they can win, so they are most likely using this to win concessions on other baby projects, from the pace of its own fiscal consolidation, to a fiscal capacity to a short-term mutualized debt instrument.”

    Page 2

    E.U. Ministers at Odds Over Strength of the Euro
    Published: February 11, 2013

    (Page 2 of 2)

    Mr. Rahman was referring to the desire in France, despite its poor economic indicators, to maintain control over the speed with which it must tighten its belt under E.U. rules, and to create pools of shared European funds and bonds backed by the most prosperous countries of the euro area.

    The finance ministers on Monday also discussed how to handle a bailout for Cyprus. Among the potentially explosive issues is whether to force depositors in Cyprus, including wealthy Russians, to take losses on their holdings to help reduce the burden of recapitalizing and restructuring Cypriot banks.

    But Vassos Shiarly, the Cypriot finance minister, bluntly rejected that possibility on Monday. “I would say that the bail-in of depositors is a grossly exaggerated possibility,” he said. “We will not accept it under any circumstances.”

    No agreement with the Cypriot government in Nicosia is expected until after the departure of President Demetris Christofias, a Communist, who will not be running in elections scheduled for this month. International creditors want to wait to negotiate a rescue program with the winner, who is likely to be Nicos Anastasiades of the Democratic Rally, a center-right party.

    On Cyprus, Mr. Dijsselbloem called for a rapid analysis by an independent consultant of whether the island was properly implementing rules against money laundering. Politicians in countries including Germany have made clearing up such suspicions a pre-condition for a bailout.

    Asked about the possible penalization of Cypriot depositors, Mr. Dijsselbloem said “all elements” would be under discussion as part of a bailout package for the island that should be ready sometime in March. Referring to the use of the European bailout instrument, the European Stability Mechanism, Mr. Dijsselbloem suggested that he wanted private-sector involvement in any future direct recapitalization of banks to avoid “additional strain” on national budgets of contributing nations.

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