Breaking with previous EU practice that depositors’ savings are sacrosanct, Cyprus and international lenders agreed at the weekend that savers would take a hit in return for the offer of 10 billion euros in aid.
Cypriot ministers are now scrambling to revise a plan to seize money from bank deposits before a parliamentary vote on Tuesday that will either secure the island’s financial rescue or threaten its default.
Whatever the final result, analysts say the genie is out of the bottle and the mere consideration of making savers pay for bailouts sets a dangerous precedent for the euro zone.
Toby Nangle, head of multi-asset allocation at Threadneedle Investments says the terms of the Cypriot bailout have introduced a levy on deposits as part of the euro zone crisis response toolkit:
The iniquity of exempting large and sophisticated government bond holders and senior bank bondholders from the bail-in, and instead designing it as a tax on depositors in such a way that deposit guarantees would not be triggered will lead to further erosion of trust between governments and their people. This is likely to contribute to the rise of anti-European politics across the European south. And the only thing that can defeat the European project is electoral anti-Europeanism.