|Leaky Bank Indeed.....,|
NYTimes | Europe’s decision to force depositors in Cypriot banks to share in the cost of the latest euro zone bailout has sparked outrage in Cyprus and fears that a run on deposits over the weekend might spread to larger countries at risk like Spain and Italy.
Under an emergency deal reached early Saturday in Brussels, a one-time tax of 9.9 percent is to be levied on Cypriot bank deposits of more than 100,000 euros, or $130,000, effective Tuesday. That will hit wealthy depositors — mostly Russians who have put vast sums into Cyprus’s banks in recent years. But smaller deposits will also be taxed, at 6.75 percent, meaning that the banks will be confiscating money directly from retirees and ordinary workers to help pay the tab for the 10 billion euro bailout or $13 billion.
Most of the 10 billion euros will go to bail out Cypriot banks, which took a blow when their substantial holdings of Greek government bonds were written down as part of that country’s second bailout. The island’s banks are also laden with loans made to Greek companies and individuals, which have turned sour as Greece endures its fourth year of economic and financial crisis.
The deposit tax, which is expected to raise 5.8 billion euros, was part of a bailout agreement reached in the early hours of Saturday morning after 10 hours of talks among finance ministers from euro countries and representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
The Cypriot bailout follows those for Greece, Portugal, Ireland and the Spanish banking sector — and is the first where bank depositors will be touched.
Public officials in Spain and Italy did their best over the weekend to portray the situation in Cyprus as unique, and to insist that deposits in those countries remained safe.
The economy of Cyprus represents not even half a percent of the combined output of the 17 countries that use the euro. Yet the impact of this weekend’s unexpected decision in Brussels to impose across-the-board losses on bank depositors could not be more far reaching.
After five years of bailouts financed largely by austerity-weary European taxpayers, wealthy nations like Germany and the Netherlands have decreed that from now on when a bank or country fails, it will be bond investors and perhaps even bank depositors who will be forced to pick up a big share of the bill. Fist tap Dale.