A late-night agreement between European finance ministers and the government of Cyprus will keep Cyprus in the eurozone and bail out the struggling island nation—by levying an enormous one-time tax on the biggest deposits in one of its banks. Under the deal, the Cyprus Popular Bank, or Laiki, will be divided into a "good" bank and a "bad" bank; the Goofus will be slowly wound down and closed while the Gallant will be folded into the country's largest bank, Bank of Cyprus. Deposits of over 100,000 euros in both banks will be subject to a haircut of as much as 30 percent—but unlike last week's controversial proposed plan, this deal will not tax smaller depositors. The Cyprus bailout deal has been difficult to reach for a variety of reasons, chief among them the country's desire to preserve its banking sector, the engine of its economy, and the eurozone's desire to punish the Russian oligarchs widely believed to be the largest depositors in Cyprus' banks. ("In my view, the stealing of what has already been stolen continues," Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said in response to the latest deal.) This bailout agreement should allow Cyprus to (sort of) remain in the eurozone (against the wishes of the majority of its citizens; "luckily," no one in Cyprus is voting on the package) and eventually recover its banking income without directly taking money from the little guy—but years of enforced austerity will hurt him just as badly. No one's happy. At least they're less unhappy than they were last week? [Telegraph | QZ | Reuters]
Eurozone finance ministers are demanding a one-time levy on bank deposits of all sizes—even on insured accounts—as part of a bailout package for Cyprus, which is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Cypriots sprinted to banks and ATMs this weekend, waiting in long lines to withdraw cash after hearing about the plan on Saturday; if approved by Cyprus' parliament, it would mark the first time ordinary European depositors would be asked to take a haircut for a bailout plan. The levy would take 6.7 percent for deposits of less than 100,000 Euros and 9.9 percent for those above, and while more progressive plans have been floated, as it stands right now "[t]his is a conscious choice to make poorer people pay to help richer ones," The Financial Times writes. Why lean on the little guy? In all likelihood to preserve the island nation's status as an offshore haven for, in particular, Russian businessmen. Still, the tax is far from being assured: it's unclear whether President Nicos Anastasiades has the necessary majority to approve the plan, and the vote has been delayed until tomorrow. [Financial Times | NYT | Reuters | image via Getty/AFP]
Europe will apparently not fall apart after German chancellor Angela Merkel shepherded a deal early Thursday morning to write down Greek's debt. It's complicated, but basically she got a bunch of banks to take a 50% haircut on what Greece owes them. Click on the image on the right to see how one of the negotiators diagrammed it in the middle of the night.
Here's a pretty remarkable interview with independent stock and forex trader Alessio Rastani on the BBC this morning, in which he's either being perfectly candid about how traders are viewing the Eurozone crisis, or he's just trolling. Anyway, he's a sociopath.