The Aftermath Begins

Spiegel Online International is describing it, albeit with some misconceptions.

Not even savings accounts are safe, as was recently seen in Cyprus. Such deposits are actually guaranteed to up to €100,000, but the euro rescuers cared little about this as they desperately searched for funds.  Cypriot small savers may have escaped this time around, but the realization remains, even beyond Cyprus, that a state teetering on the edge of bankruptcy will resort to all available means to raise money—and a guarantee is only worth something as long as the entity that stands behind it remains solvent.

Nothing is safe from being seized by the state, no savings account, but also no house or apartment.  …  Governments have even banned the possession of gold during currency crises, forcing citizens to exchange the precious metal for the national currency.

That’s the nub of the aftermath.  No one’s private property is safe from an overweening government.

Those paragraphs, though, carries SOI‘s first misconception: the original demand to expropriate private savings came from the Euro Group, not Cyprus.  Cyprus’ Parliament rejected it at the start.  However, Cyprus’ government, including its Parliament, is complicit in the present theft—it could have rejected that attempt, too.

Then there’s this:

Greece and Cyprus have millionaires and billionaires of whom many profited from the artificial boom fueled by low interest rates after the introduction of the euro—a boom that subsequently went bust.  Why shouldn’t they help finance efforts to deal with the aftermath?  Is it fairer to place the burden on the euro bailout fund, and thus distribute it among the taxpayers of other countries?

Why shouldn’t they?  The question is a demonstration of the lack of understanding.  Why should folks who played by the rules placed before them, and with no other responsibility for the companies, have to pay for the failures of the companies, at least as part of the first resort?  Why should not the companies’ investors and creditors be the only ones to suffer the consequences of the failure of their investments and loans—or at least be wiped out entirely  before depositors—those not responsible at all—suffer any loss?

Is it fairer to place the burden on the euro bailout fund?  To ask this is to demonstrate, again, a lack of understanding.  The euro bailout fund should not exist at all.  The taxpayers of other countries should not even be under consideration of paying for the failure of one country.

Finally, this:

A levy on assets would immediately reduce the debts of crisis-stricken countries, whereas bailout packages pool risks and shift them to the future.

Those risks can become dangerously explosive.  The more countries that have to be bailed out, the fewer countries remain that have to bear the burden—as long as they are able to.  This could even prove to be too much for Germany at some point.

The second answers the first, but only partially.  A levy on assets does not cure the reason the crisis-level debts exist in the first place, but it does destroy property rights.  Neither does any bailout address the underlying causes.  Levy or bailout, they merely perpetuate the situation—as we’re seeing in the euro zone and in the US.

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