Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spiegel and Cyprus

Spiegel's Rickens comments on the Cyprus bail out. I think making the depositors pay was a dangerous decision, since it makes a bank run much more likely and the citizens less likely to bring any money to the banks in the first place. Here is what he has to say (my translation):

Es geht um Gerechtigkeit, aber auch um Pragmatismus: Zypern muss die Bankkunden des Landes teilenteignen, um die Schulden des Landes zu lindern. Ein richtiger Schritt.
It is about justice*, but also about pragmatism: Cyprus has to impose a hair cut on bank clients to reduce the debt of the country. A right step.

* Gerechtigkeit is a funny word since it means both justice and fairness at the same time.

It is in fact neither fair nor justifiable or even legal to first promise every one that deposits up to 100.000 € are safe and then take up to 6,750 € away. It is also not a pragmatic step since it is contrary to what every party involved said before: That the deposits are safe. So he is definitely not talking about "gerechtigkeit" for the Cypriots. He thinks it is fair for us Germans.

Sie liefert zunächst nicht mehr als einen symbolischen Beitrag für die Lösung der Zypern-Krise, aber vor allem liefert sie das richtige Signal 
It is for now a symbolic part in the solution of the Cyprus crisis, but more importantly it is the right signal.
Which fucking signal? That it is not safe to keep money at the bank for the EU will come and take it because Merkel has to win an election?

Then comes mostly irrelevant stuff. Phantasising about phases of the crisis and some Greece, Spain, and Italy for some reason(it is a waste of time to even translate it).
But he does get, that a bank run will happen in Cyprus, he just totally fails to understand what that means. So he is OK with it. But Cyprus is not "safe". The banks will loose most of their deposits. So just how big is the banking sector of that island? In 2009 it was 8 times larger than the GDP. Also the biggest chunk (5.5 times GDP) of that is in the domestic branches of the banks. With a bank run causing the destruction of the whole sector we can be pretty sure that the "bail out" just won't cut it. With a GDP of 17.9 billion Euros and a banking sector which might just be in ruins at the end of next week, the total of 13 Billion € seems rather low.

Here is what this bail out was: a sudden unlawful decision imposed from outside to take money from depositors - so much money that one can safely keep his money at home for at least two years and be still better off than those who deposit it at the banks. So now we have a interesting situation. For the whole population it would be best to keep all the money at the banks, but for the indiviual it might be better if he is the first to get it out. But there is a wild card. The Russians might all cut their losses and leave. So possibly not even all Cypriots keeping their money at the banks will make any difference and the banks still fail. There isn't even a dilemma here. This will probably be the first bank run which actually makes sense for every one without exception due to the high amount of money deposited by foreigners. Should an actual bank run happen the GDP will shrink in depression dimensions but there is more.

Confidence in the banks was be damaged not only in Cyprus but also in Greece possibly even in Spain and Portugal. Ones money is not safe at a bank. This is why the whole decision was terrible for all of the Eurozone.

The Spiegel article is nothing more than key phrases losely connected by the believe that Merkel is doing everything right. This is typical for German newspapers. German Quality Journalism!

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