Independent Media Centre Ireland

The EU approach in Ireland vs it's approach in Cyprus

category international | anti-capitalism | feature author Monday April 08, 2013 20:45author by feudal castrato

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The EU bailout in Cyprus seems, on the surface to have taken on board some good ideas such as burning bondholders, capital flight controls, and much more limited small depositors state bank guarantee scheme, but does this stand up to closer inspection or have they just used these good ideas in a rather twisted way to further the same old financial terrorist agendas?

The EU approach to Ireland vs it's approach in Cyprus

When Ireland gave it's bank guarantee, no capital controls were imposed, capital was free to flee (and it did), the bank guarantee was unlimited, even though all at the table and in financial circles in Europe were aware that certain banks were involved deeply in gambling and speculative activities in the Irish and foreign property markets, yet had relatively few depositors. And of course, no Irish senior bondholders were allowed to be burned as a condition for getting continued finance (in order to pay back German banks).
Furthermore, lest we forget 17 billion in hard cash was directly taken from our national pension reserve fund by the EU as a "contribution" to pay off the speculators.

Eventually after a gruelling few years in which the local economy was eviscerated by austerity and lack of lending and investment to small business, our loans were "extended" so what was a 35 billion loan would now end up becoming 65 billion over a longer period, but with lowered annual interest payments. Now that's European solidarity for you! Oh, and as a consequence of those "negotiations", now it's ALL sovereign debt to the ECB and there are no longer any bondholders to burn.

Pretty much everything wrong was done. In my opinion very deliberately, and with the knowing collusion of some of our own elected representatives.

What about Cyprus?

Well, in the case of Cyprus, It looks like, on the surface, the EU have finally taken on board that the real problems in countries in difficulty are capital flight and bondholder gamblers getting away Scott free every time. So in Cyprus, they imposed capital controls, and burned a few senior bondholder gamblers (there weren't many though. According to Colm McCarthy, foreign deposits, rather than long term bonds, made up practically all the liabilities in insolvent Cypriot banks.) and, in a new twist, depositors with greater than 100k in savings had funds directly confiscated by the government. Great. So the rich depositors and bondholder gamblers finally get to take a haircut. Maybe they've learned something from events in Iceland and the complete disaster in Ireland?

A couple of things to note though. Firstly, Cyprus is a very special case where it's economy is totally reliant on it's position as a tax haven and financial centre. Secondly, there weren't actually all that many senior bondholders compared to Ireland. Burning them was not a significant hit to German banks, unlike in Ireland's case. Thirdly, most large depositors flew the coop weeks in advance. Quelle Surpris as our European comrades say. When you are that rich, you get tipped off by corrupt insiders about such matters. So in fact, it's mostly (around 80%) Cypriots that were hit by the "haircut" on deposits, which in some cases is up to 60% on amounts over 100k. It is proposed that they will get shares in the remaining Cyprus Bank in exchange but these are currently worth next to nothing.

After the Ireland debacle, contrasted with the positive example of Iceland, coupled with the statements by the leader of the free world about "stupid cuts" in a recession, even the dogs in the street know the proper formula to allow some recovery to begin in an economy. So in the case of Cyprus, how can the financial geniuses in the EU manage to take many of the right ingredients which would have worked great if allowed in Ireland, and combine them to totally destroy Cyprus? Unless of course it was again a deliberate act of sabotage and self interest.

Clearly, capital controls are a good thing. The first thing economic hitmen do in third world countries is insist on the removal of capital controls for their victims, so capital can easily flee overnight from banks, creating an artificial crisis. Then money is loaned back to the state at high interest, thus profiting the financial terrorists, crippling their economies, and making them subject to "loan conditions" which normally involve cutting social programs and privatising state utilities, planting GM crops etc. Capital flight controls help keep money invested in an economy and prevent financiers and investors holding a country to ransom, under threat of taking away their capital overnight if governments do not do their bidding. This obvious step of imposing capital controls would certainly have helped in Ireland. But these controls are a total disaster for an economy totally dependent on financial trust to attract depositors looking for a safe low tax haven for their money. Great for Ireland, which was haemorrhaging deposits from it's ailing banks (but we weren't given the option). Disaster for Cyprus which relied on the financial trust (but they were forced to apply controls)
[The current conditions for Cypriots include a daily withdrawal limit from the ATM's of 300 Euro. A limit of 1000 cash can be taken abroad on your person. Credit cards used abroad have a maximum limit of 5000 Euro. There is a ban on overseas transfers of money.]

Guaranteeing small depositors was also a good idea. Why should the little guy pay for the activities of bankster gamblers right? The "little guy" is unlikely to have more than 100k in savings. Except of course if he just got his retirement cheque and had been saving a lifetime to retire in the sun. This might send even a "little guy" into the realm of the unguaranteed depositor. However, most people would not shed a tear for someone with >100k of life savings. Yes, It's certainly a thorny problem to solve. How to remain somewhat fair to the ordinary worker when stealing their money to give to the rich. Not surprisingly, they failed. Commentators are saying that only 20% of deposits constituted those of "money launderers" and "tax exiles", Russian or otherwise, and the rest, some 80% , were just ordinary Cypriots, or retirees who banked their life savings there to retire on.

Again, this approach might probably have worked for Ireland, but instead we got a blanket guarantee which bought the fatcats time to move their deposits offshore in droves (and they did). In the case of Cyprus, what was coming down the tracks was telegraphed to the large depositors by insiders and they had left the scene weeks in advance. Cyprus was a popular retirement spot, so ordinary Cypriots and UK retirees who banked all their life savings to fund their retirement in a sunny climate were the actual ones hit hardest. So, might have worked well as a measure to help "share the pain" amongst the wealthy who "partied" in Ireland,( but again, not an option for us ). However for Cyprus, with it's financial trust issue and it's status as a sunny place to retire, this measure was again a disaster (but was implemented)

What about burning the senior bondholders? Y'know, the guys who were actually engaged in dodgy investments and who knew the risks? Well a few were burned in Cyprus. How come it was ok there but "impossible" in Ireland? In fact one of the main reasons for the so called "bailout" in Ireland, was largely to make good their losses, and we and our children will be paying them off for a very long time. Answer: In Ireland's case, these would have meant large losses to German banks so they were "untouchable". However no problem burning innocent Irish taxpayers of course.

One tactic missing that might have worked in Ireland to some extent was the re-issuing of our own currency. However this was even too much for the EU plunderers in the case of Cyprus. Its obvious that in an economy without exports like Cyprus, this would have few positive effects. However, Ireland has a lot of exports so why was this not properly considered as part of our strategy for recovery? It would have made our exports very competitive indeed. Declan Ganley suggested that we print punts as a measure before going into talks with the EU, if nothing else to show that we were prepared to play hardball. I don't agree with too much Mr Ganley says but in this case, I think he may have had a point. The Euro straitjacket may suit the German economy very well but it is killing small peripheral economies who need more control over the reins of their economy. The ability to devalue currency is an important economic tool which being tied to the Euro makes unavailable to our economic planners (that is assuming we even have such people! ;-)

So in the final analysis, why were the EU willing to burn bondholders, impose capital flight controls and a limited bank guarantee in Cyprus? Sounds too good to be true. Well, the cover story was: There were only a few actual senior bondholders involved so the pain would be minimal, and since Cyprus was used by a large contingent of Russian depositors, the EU thought they might get away with stealing their deposits without too much objection from other Euro countries, and it would send a political message to Russia, and it would also discourage money laundering / tax avoidance in the EU. Evidently the cold war mentality still exists at the top level among many eurocrats. (and they are certainly very selective in highlighting money laundering / tax avoidance!! )

But it was really just a cover story. They needed to manufacture one because they couldn't admit to the fact that most of the people they were effectively stealing from were mainly (80%) ordinary hard working Cypriots and people who had worked and saved all their lives for their retirements. And since Cyprus relied totally on their tax laws for their small economy to function, effectively the EU "killed the patient" by imposing these awkward financial controls and destroying any remaining trust in Cyprus bank for future depositors. They have even admitted this. With capital flight controls, and burnt senior bondholders and depositors, Cyprus as a financial haven, is effectively dead. And that was pretty much their whole economy.

And those large Russian deposits have to go somewhere. Where? You guessed it: other European banks. Effectively some well connected banksters managed to remove some of their "tax haven" competition and at the same time boost their own deposits with some large new Russian ones looking for a new home. The fact that Cyprus no longer has an economy as a consequence and it's people are now on welfare support for life is not really important.

So, what on the surface, looked like a great improvement over the Irish approach, in what the EU were willing to do in a financial crisis, on closer inspection looks more like a cynical application of some of the right tactics deliberately in the wrong way for the wrong reasons and a cover story in such a way as to mask the robbery of ordinary citizens deposits, while deliberately shutting down and destroying a whole economy and closing down a favoured tax haven used by Russian money in order to channel that money into more favoured European tax havens.

The result is yet another peripheral Euro economy destroyed by financial terrorists, whilst the central countries have their Banks shored up by new deposits fleeing from Cyprus and by loading sovereign debt on the poor citizens of another small peripheral country who does not have the means to repay it. And of course the "bailout" (conjured / printed fake money) has terms which no doubt include austerity, the dismantling of social supports and unsurprisenly privatisation of utilities and selling off of natural resources for a song. Where have I seen all that before??

There seems to be rather a pattern developing here. And it looks to me to be far too premeditated to be just incompetence.

Anyone from Latin America could tell you what's really going on. Is it so hard for us to believe that what the IMF and World Bank have been systematically doing to other Third World countries for so many years is now happening here, courtesy of our bankster "comrades" in the EU?

Short guide to plundering a country's hard assets in return for fiat currency 101:

Ordinary economy (Ireland):
Loosen capital controls, open up economy, wait, lots of cheap low interest printed / made up money flows in, bubble develops. bubble bursts, capital flight now occurs, money loaned back at interest with "terms". "Terms" involve selling off natural resources, privatisation of state assets and utilities. Hard assets of country pwned.

Financial service based economy (Cyprus):
(general case: country eventually makes large investment error of some kind. Help them do it) Cyprus invests in Greek bonds, gets burned, creates opportunity for EU to jump in and impose capital controls to "stop capital flight", confiscating of deposits in return for help, completely destroys trust in banks, fleeing deposits absorbed, money loaned with "terms", "Terms" involve selling off natural resources, privatisation of state assets and utilities. Hard assets of country pwned.

Confessions of an economic hitman - readable online here:

WSWS links:

Europe threatens Cyprus with bankruptcy in power struggle with Russia

Cyprus to face savage cuts and economic dictatorship

The European Union’s looting of Cyprus

After Cyprus, more austerity in Greece

The object of this article is to open up the crisis in Cyprus as a topic and trigger some alternative discussion on the EU's flawed approach to "saving" peripheral countries in financial difficulty


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