Mar 262013
 
 March 26, 2013  Posted by at 8:18 pm Finance
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Over the past week, Europe, or rather the present EU leadership, has done damage to itself it will never be able to repair.

It seems to escape everbody, but that doesn't make it any less true: people from Portugal to Spain to Italy to Greece to Cyprus and Ireland are worse off today than they were when they first adopted the euro. Moreover, their economies are all getting worse as we speak and projected to plunge further. The once highly touted blessings of the common currency are by now lost on most of southern Europe; for them, the euro has been a shortcut to disaster.

Until Cyprus, the EU had always maintained two prime objectives (and spent €5 trillion over 5 years to prove it): keeping all members in the eurozone, and guaranteeing all bank deposits under €100,000. These objectives exist from now on only in words. Brussels has threatened to both grab deposits of small savers and throw Cyprus out of the monetary union. Two watershed moments in one.

The membership of the European Union, the subsequent introduction of the euro and the seemingly endless flow of credit that came with these "privileges" provided the region with a temporary illusion of increasing wealth and new-found prosperity. Today it knows that none of it was real, or earned; it was all borrowed. It's time to pay up but there's no money left. It needs to be borrowed. From the European core and its banking system.

The EU's financial scorched earth strategies have left its Mediterranean members with highly elevated unemployment rates, fast rising taxation levels, huge cuts to pensions, benefits and services and above all insanely high debt levels, personal, corporate and sovereign. And now, as ironic as it is cynical, their savings. The only thing that keeps the nations from going bankrupt is more debt, largely in the form of ECB loans.

What sets Cyprus apart from the other victims of Brussels' expansion hunger is the timing. The country (actually only the Greek-Cypriot 59% of the island of Cyprus) was only allowed entry in the EU in 2004, and it didn't introduce the euro until 2008. At that point, total bank assets were already well over €80 billion, or a very unhealthy 450% of GDP, and kept on rising with a vengeance. Four years later, in early 2012, the EU/ECB/IMF troika forced €4.5 billion in losses on the Cyprus banking system through the haircut on Greek sovereign debt. Now, one year after that, the same troika forces Cyprus to cough up €5.8 billion. No great math skills required: Cyprus was essentially pushed under the bus in order to – temporarily – save Greece.

The EU, with all its 1000s of highly paid employees and its multiheaded leadership structure, time and again fails to do its overseeing job, and then conceals this by turning around and bullying the victims of its failures. Of course they knew what state Cyprus was in when it switched to the euro, and the country should never have been allowed to enter. And of course the EU and ECB leadership knew all along what happened in Cyprus between 2008 and now, or at least should have. It's their job to know. Hence, the leaders should be fired either for not knowing or for knowing and not acting. They just cost taxpayers yet another grab bag full of billions, and they should be held accountable for that.

The problem is they're not accountable to anyone for anything they do, other than in name. Or put it this way: people like Van Rompuy, Barroso and Olli Rehn are not accountable to anyone but themselves, each other and Angela Merkel's entourage. There's a great word in the English language to describe their attitude; the ancient Greek "hubris". Add a side dish of arrogance and incompetence and you have a lethal combination.

By the way, here's how European democracy works: when the whip comes down, everybody will do what Berlin wants. Germany has some 24% of the EU population, and Angela Merkel's ruling party (through a coalition) has maybe a third of all votes. That means perhaps 20 million Germans, or at best 6% of the 332 million people in the Eurozone, decide what goes and what does not.

Hubris makes stupid (or, granted, it could be the other way around). That's why we saw the following over the past week:

1) The announcement of the initial Cyprus plan, the one that included a 6.75% tax for all deposits below €100,000. It doesn't matter that it's no longer in the final plan, the "deposit grab" genie has left the bottle and will never return. It's like breaking an egg; restoring confidence is no longer an option. No European small saver will feel safe again for decades, and many will take much of their deposits out of their banks, which will push banks over the edge, requiring more bailouts, rinse and repeat.

The troika, joined by German finance minister Schäuble, went out of their way to put all the blame for this on the Cyprus government (the ball was in their park), but given the obvious potential consequences (the devastating loss of trust), they should never have allowed either the responsibility or the blame to be there; it was theirs to take. That they didn't, leads to point 2:

2) Brussels and Frankfurt can neither oversee nor control the consequences of their actions. The trust issue is just one of many topics that have made this clear. And as long as the present leadership structure remains in place, what happened in Cyprus will keep on happening, because:

3) They don't care. They don't care that the entire southern part of their union is falling over the edge. They don't care what happens to the people in the streets of Nicosia, or Porto, or Sevilla, their jobs, their savings, their well-being, their children. They're not accountable to those people. They're untouchables as far as democracy goes in all but the most cynical definition.

Imagine you're a cleaning lady or a primary school teacher, or you have a small grocery store or a bakery, in a town somewhere in Spain or Italy or Portugal. At home, you've already been hit with huge tax rises and budget cuts. But there's one thing you can count on to stand between you from things getting real bad: the savings in your bank. And then you see on TV what's happening in Cyprus. Where people had the same deposit guarantee you had, until from one day to the next they didn't. What would you do with what's left in your bank account?

People with bank accounts in Cyprus no longer have access to their money. They'll be stuck in a repeat of Argentina's early milennium capital controls for months. People in Spain and Portugal still have a choice. Maybe not for long, because at the first hint of capital flight to the backyard bank, control over your own money will very rapidly become a thing of the past.

The only reason for Europe's Mediterranean nations to remain in the eurozone and the EU will be bullying from Brussels and Berlin. It's this bullying from the core, from those who preach union above all else, which will be the undoing of the entire project, but after a lot more pain of the same kind that now hit the Cypriots will have spread north (the rot won't stop).

Unless first one country and then inevitably others – soon – decide to leave, say thanks for all the fish, and (re-)build their own nation. That would be by far the best choice for all of southern Europe. Staying in the union has nothing positive to offer anyone anymore, except for those presently in power in Brussels and in the capitals of the rich core nations. The dissolution of the union is inevitable. Unfortunately, given the hubris in the core, so is the bloodshed that will pave the way there.

 


Home Forums The Lesson From Cyprus: Europe Is Politically Bankrupt

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March 26, 2013 at 8:18 pm #8392

Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Over the past week, Europe, or rather the present EU leadership, has done damage to itself it will never be able to repair. It seems to escape everbod
[See the full post at: The Lesson From Cyprus: Europe Is Politically Bankrupt]

March 27, 2013 at 1:52 am #7239

TAE Summary

* It is all going according to plan; There is an invisible war going on with unknown weapons and combatants; The Enemy is B.F.C., Big Fu…. um, Big Finance Capital; Keep banging the drum and try to avoid being trampled
* Don’t blame the Rook when your Pawn gets sacrificed so the Queen and King can live in the Hamptons; Good doesn’t combat evil, evil combats itself
* Faith in complex institutions is disintegrating; Are the buffoons running things or is it malevolence or maybe just evil clowns? Brit taxi driver knows all, tells all
* We are at an unknown place on the collapse continuum; There’s no second guessing economists; System managers don’t grasp common sense; When your only tool is Occam’s razor every problem looks like a haircut
* There is not enough cash to go around; TARP can cover a multitude of sins; Shaved savings will bailout big banks; Debasement is too slow and scary; Threatened savings motivate consumption; 90% won’t be able to buy bread; The other half will be on food stamps
* Money has no motherland; Get hard assets before the dollar goes fladcid; Run to gold and silver, art and farmland; When the stock market crumbles, watch out
* Bank runs are classic Keynsian; Some bank runs are more equal than others; Deflation is a peace time phenomenon; Capitalism has never had a chance except at swap meets where it reached its full flower in the macrame’-pot-hanger bubble of 1978
* Europe is becoming one big dictatorship; Europeans are passive; Cyprus may be a test run; The first country to leave Eurozone will suffer; Greece and Italy vote for antiestablishmentausterityism; European Spring up next
* End Time Cliche’s
- The fuse has been lit
- The cat is out of the bag
- The first domino has fallen
- The game is up
- The sky is falling
- Self destruct has been activated
- Growth is dead
- I believe the day will come …
- Let’s do it
* Word of the Day: Gobsmacked: Brits for bewildered, dazed, astonied

March 27, 2013 at 4:23 am #7241

Ken Barrows

But isn’t Southern Europe just scared s***less that, if they go back to national currencies, they won’t be able to afford any oil? Are they going with the misery they know instead of a perceived unknown that is much worse?

March 27, 2013 at 6:12 am #7242

Doubled

The big “surprise” will be when the banks finally open and most
most of the “major” deposits are gone!!! Bribery and threats
make money move very fast!!

March 27, 2013 at 8:06 am #7243

Golden Oxen

Just amazing to me how the banks in Spain and Italy are still open. This entire Europe situation is beyond my grasp. Watching now as if it is suspense, horror movie with the usual unfathomable surprise ending.

How can anyone leave a deposit sitting in these countries over the long Easter weekend??

March 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm #7245

TheTrivium4TW

>>The EU, with all its 1000s of highly paid employees and its multiheaded leadership structure, time and again fails to do its overseeing job< <

Oh, I think they are doing a splendid job and you are comparing their actions to the false narrative version of their jobs.

Any nation state that employes Debt Money Tyranny, de fact, an agent of the said Debt Money Tyrants.

Debt Money Tyranny
http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/4768883/debtmoneytyranny-6-1-pdf-60k?tr=77

To think that these Debt Money Tyrant enabling governments are anything other than puppets of their tyrant masters is to embrace unreality amidst the pretty obvious reality.

Napoleon, another tyrant, got it down…

“When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”
~Napoleon Bonaparte

Yes, it *is* that simple.

And yes, conspiracies exist and Adam Smith even wrote how cherished they are in Wealth of Nations (just because they didn’t teach this in school doesn’t mean it isn’t real!)

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”
~ Adam Smith

Of course the rich and powerful are actively conspiring to rig the system against the common person – that’s a summation of human history since the dawn of humankind.

They aren’t dumb or stupid, they treat us like we are dumb or stupid.

March 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm #7246

Anonymous

It was clear from the start that the EMU/Euro could not work, and would get into serious trouble once a real crisis started. The introduction of the EMU was also completely undemocratic. Apart from that, one now has to face the simple truth that bailouts and solidarity between Eurozone states and their very different peoples are finite. The North is increasingly getting fed up with having to bail out other countries and the South is getting tired of austerity. So, apart from a technical/financial problem with bailouts, in the end there simply is not enough money to bail everybody out, there is also a large social problem. In Greece the fascist party is on the rise, here in Holland, where I live, the infamous Geert Wilders and his extreme right wing party have recently become the largest party in the polls! This is largely due to the failure of the political mainstream to solve the problems in Europe. The EMU could not possibly work, as many have predicted. Now that this is plainly visible for everyone, it is high time to plan an orderly dissolution of the European Monetary Union. Better late than never.

March 27, 2013 at 6:29 pm #7248

davefairtex

It is a bit alarming to see how well Mr Wilders is doing, and while Holland is actually faring relatively well. If and when things take a turn for the worse, I suspect he would only gain support.

When mainstream politicans are seen clearly to be bought off by the moneyed interests its the fringe that the people end up turning towards. Sometimes the fringe can be good, and other times, not so much.

March 27, 2013 at 10:04 pm #7250

p01

People in Spain and Portugal still have a choice

No, they don’t!
They HAD a choice in 2008, but since then absolutely everybody had been on a rampage of totaling whatever money they still had, and maxing all the credit they still could.
I don’t blame them, because it’s a bitch to resist and not just say “screw this, I’m maxing the $shit out of everything I can get my hands on“, because _insert_whatever_reason_here_.
On the other hand, I don’t shed a tear for the ones over their head in debt, either, because their actions have directly affected me via the inflation they have created by taking on debt upon debt without measure, when it became clear it cannot be paid back (most have already figured out it cannot be paid back).

March 28, 2013 at 1:14 am #7252

Nassim

In another age, Napoleon was – for excellent reasons – considered to be the Antichrist (like Hitler). He was an amazing individual with heaps of bravado and good luck to start with. He also had an excellent understanding of the superiority of canon over infantry and cavalry.

However, he did not have a clue as to how to create wealth – only how to rob others or to borrow it. In many ways, he was the personification of the modern American/Australian/Brit/Canadian etc.

He left France’s middle-classes entirely bankrupt – they lost all their savings and capital. Later, to try to encourage people to save again and to use their savings in industry and commerce, the French created the Caisse des dépôts et consignations

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caisse_des_d%C3%A9p%C3%B4ts_et_consignations

This organisation has a very special legal status in France – to try to protect it from predatory politicians. I spent some time with them a long while ago working on their software. They were very proud of having made it very difficult for the Germans to remove France’s capital during WW2. Their accounts and shareholdings are a labyrinth of complexity. The listing of their holdings was a computer printout around around 15cm high. Of course, I doubt if the recent crop of French politicians have not managed to “fix” it in some way. They had much more time than the Germans to do so and they could appeal to the “national interest”

March 29, 2013 at 8:18 am #7268

Variable81

While Europe is clearly the focal point right now, I was hoping TAE could back off of it for a moment to look at what’s going on in the rest of the Western world… say, for example, where Nicole Foss lives:

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.ca/2013/03/canada-discusses-forced-depositor-bail.html

Cheers,
-GBV

March 29, 2013 at 9:49 am #7269

jal

What is happening has been planned.

Its a troika experiment.

Now we get to see what happens when the central banks do the right thing and don’t start up the printing press.

The objective is to get a default and gather the data from the resulting chaos.

All doomers should pay attention.

Coming To a Town Near You

Keep watching. Keep gathering your own data.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-03-25/word-out-place-sends-europe-tumbling

A Word Out Of Place Sends Europe Tumbling

“Cyprus a Template For EU”

(Banks would love to be able to operate on leveraged cash flow and not have to share it with anyone, (depositors).)

March 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm #7280

ChartistFriendPgh

It Was A Very Bad Friday – Take A Tour Of Namie, A Radioactive Zombie Fukushima Ghost Town http://chartistfriendfrompittsburgh.blogspot.com/2013/03/it-was-very-bad-friday-take-tour-of.html

April 1, 2013 at 2:58 am #7302

Gravity

Not every currency is sick; every currency that is sick is dissolveable.

April 1, 2013 at 5:04 pm #7308

Jack

I came across this today and I would like to know if this can really happen in Canada
Thanks

http://www.myfamilysurvivalplan.com/cyprus-style-bank-account-confiscation-is-in-the-new-2013-canadian-government-budget/#more-5777

http://jptjv.com/backyard/recommends/
This is where the link came from

April 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm #7310

Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Jack,

What I’ve seen so far is “confiscation plans” from New Zealand, UK and Canada. Disconcerting, for sure, but no need to go all out – just yet -. I see no reason to doubt that all rich enough nations have similar plans on the shelf. Cyprus is just one more reason to not trust the solidity of a bankrupt banking system; and they all are bankrupt, wherever you live.

April 1, 2013 at 7:37 pm #7313

Jack

Hi Ilargi!
Thanks for you reply.
From my observation things are normal for some people and to some there is a crisis.
I am in Canada.
Real Estate is selling specially new condos.

April 2, 2013 at 4:37 am #7316

ted

I don’t understand how some can project that things won’t happen in wealthy nations until…all the other countries fall…for example I heard in an interview that Stonleigh had with Howard Kunstler in which she said that the US dollar had about 10 years to go before losing its value…Seems like when faith is lost it will rip through all countries like wild fire all of our economies are inter-connected. It reminds me of when the media was telling us that China was going to de couple from the rest of the world and not be affected by the recession in the U.S..does the U.S really have 10 years? But then again I am amazed we made it to 2013 thanks Ted

April 15, 2013 at 1:42 am #7407

Jack

http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/54142

This is fear mongering on the part of the reporter and she ought to be ashamed

This is one of the comments and the others all agree with the reporter.

What do you folks think.

April 15, 2013 at 8:32 pm #7416

SteveB

Ted, Stoneleigh’s perspective is that wealth will go to safe havens first, and she considers the US dollar one that will be seen as such, at least initially, and at least relative to other currencies. That’s what would account for the ‘grace period’ for the US.

April 16, 2013 at 1:44 am #7417

Jack

Hi Steve!
Thanks for your reply.
I am not following the gold news closely but I noticed the head line from Max Keiser and he says IMF is selling and China is buying.
US owes a lot of money to China and also China is holding a lot of US dollars.
With the price of gold falling it seems like the US is sending a message to China that one way or the other you are going to loose with your investment.

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