[Editor's Note: The following post is by TDV editor-in-chief, Jeff Berwick.]
The emergency bank holiday in Cyprus has been extended through Tuesday and Wednesday in what as far as the team at Dollar Vigilante has researched, will be the longest emergency bank holiday in Europe or North America since the Second World War.
Marking the first time during the five-year-old global credit crunch, depositors may be forced to pay upfront for their nation's bailout. European finance ministers are reaching into Cypriot savings accounts to backstop a 13 billion euro bailout for Cyprus. The decision was made public early Saturday morning, shortly after which Cyprus banks closed to slow down withdrawals.
And then, news hit Monday that the bank holiday has been extended till Thursday.
I had prepared comments on the Cyprus bailout-by-bank-account-robbery on Saturday evening and Sunday, but something told me that Monday would bring potentially even bigger news (what's so surprising about governments and banks stealing from their serfs, anyway?), either market-wise or politically. Well that news came in the form of a nearly week-long bank holiday. To be fair, the papers have not exactly made it clear which Thursday we can expect the banks to re-open.
The banks always announce bad news on a Friday to paralyze the people. Then more bad news follows Monday, after a nation's oligarchs have been able to position themselves to benefit most from the crisis. It happened when US debt got downgraded a couple years ago.
Savers in Cyprus face a 9.9 percent tax on accounts greater than 100,000 euros. Those with less will be charged at a 6.75 percent rate. Big depositors are facing a potential 15.26% levy. The one-time “tax” (theft) is expected to raise 5.8 billion euros for the near-bankrupt country in stolen proceeds. As if 5.8 billion euros is anything for the bankers and their central bank printing presses as infantry. If anything, this move was made to show savers in the rest of the Western World their fate.
The first major banking holiday of the “Great Recession” has cutoff the Cyprus peasantry from their funds (but you can bet oligarchs are taking out their desposits as I type).
Accounts are locked. Money can't be withdrawn or transferred to safer locations. Under the central banking system, the money you put in the bank isn't really yours. As The End Of The Monetary System As We Know It (TEOTMSAWKI) continues, governments aren't even trying to maintain that illusion anymore. Why try? After all, their propaganda isn't working anymore thanks to the Internet. So, might as well step up the heist. This is a game of chicken, and the EU and big banks have stepped on the gas.
Germany, EU officials along with Anglo-American banks engineered this weekend’s wealth reallocation via Cyprus banks. These technocrats have had close allies in Washington and London since World War II. They knew that problems were going to crop up eventually in Cyprus, so why did they decide on what Forbes calls “the single most inexplicably irresponsible decision in banking supervision in the advanced world since the 1930s?” Well, no matter how "inexplicably irresponsible" this decision has been, something tells me things are going exactly as planned in Cyprus right now. The White House has already given its support for the theft:
"We're obviously monitoring the situation right now," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at a briefing. "We believe it's very important for Europe to take steps necessary, as they have been, to both grow and deal with sovereign debt issues."
The White House wouldn't comment on the "levy" when pushed.
Cypriot finance ministry officials began discussions with lenders on Sunday ostensibly to lessen the theft from smaller savers, with sources close to the “consultations” telling Reuters that Cyprus bureaucrats were hoping to cut the lower theft threshold to 3.0 percent from 6.7 percent for deposits under 100,000 euros. The upper threshold on larger deposits would increase, however, to 12.5% from 9.9%.
But make no mistake about it; the Cypriot parliament has been called in order to ratify the robbery of depositors, just like what happened during the TARP bailout in the US. Remember when Hank Paulson threated martial law if banks didn't get nearly one trillion dollars of initial liquidity injection? This is the same sort of situation.
The Euro partners and the IMF have set the new tone. Troubled economies like Italy and Greece and Spain will begin to see an uptick in withdrawals. But it might already be too late for them. European authorities were prepared for the reaction of Cypriots. Over the weekend electronic money transfers had fallen under strict controls, and the levy amounts in Cypriot's bank accounts were inaccessible to the depositors.
Despite having to pay for the bailout, one can expect that this robbery won’t be too much different from other IMF-World Bank led robberies of the so-called “Third World”: In other words, this will in some ways be your standard “economic medicine” or “structural readjustment” with taxes going up and a firesale/devaluation of national assets.
Nation-states of Planet Earth must realize they are far from sovereign. Economically, at least, the EU is a prime example of what the future holds for much of the world. Savers are no longer safe in the supra-state of the EU. These actions by European central planners in Cyprus will lead citizens in the PIIGS to withdraw funds out of the bank, and possibly en masse. I know that is exactly what I would be doing if I banked anywhere in Europe – or, in fact, any Western nation. It is for this reason that we’ve always stated that you should never hold a large amount of your money in a Western bank account in fiat currency (and recommend instead having an offshore account in an unindebted tax haven).
The Russian-educated, three-weeks-in-office Communist President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, said the new tax was “an alternative to disorderly bankruptcy.” He told the nation through a televised address that it was painful but "will eventually stabilize the economy and lead it to recovery."
An ECB official said authorities in Cyprus had already prepared for the levy “to ensure that the levy can be collected.” In other words, mass withdrawals were anticipated and prevented. Savers suffering from the robbery would be “compensated” with shares in bankrupt commercial banks.
So, get screwed or get screwed. Communism or Communism. Socialism or Socialism. Supra-statism or Supra-statism. Wealth confiscation or wealth confiscation. We hear that parliament might not make the theft legal after today's negotiations. Well, in that case, Cyprus will default and the banks will close.
For any Cypriot Dollar Vigilante, hopefully you have taken our advice here at TDV and kept cash for a few months at home, as well as gold, silver and bitcoin, in case banks should close for extended periods (or forever).
Just as the Arab Spring all started with one person in a market lighting himself on fire, this one action could cause a run on banks throughout the PIIGS that could eventually collapse the whole EU banking system. Depending on how bad it gets it could even lead to the collapse of the euro and, if panic really sets in, could lead to The End Of The Monetary System As We Know it (TEOTMSAWKI). Southern Europe is done with the European banking system. Their confidence shattered, the illusion vanishes.
This is happening right now, in real time, right before our very eyes. There is no longer any time to waste being in denial, as this will happen all over the Western World. It will. It’s not a question of if, but when.
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