Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cyprus bailout dilemna

European policymakers believe that in the next round of bank bailouts the depositors will have to pay their part, as was the case in Cyprus. The main question is who pays for what? In Cyprus, accounts up to €100,000 ($129,000) are adjudged to be safe, but accounts above that limit may lose as much as 40-60%.

There is a question of social equity here: why should a depositor with €5M in a Cyprus bank lose, while a depositor with less than €100,000 sits pat?

There is also a technical problem. Say you are a homeowner in Cyprus and you sold your house for US$1M the day before they announced the confiscatory measures. The buyer paid you $1M and you deposited it in the bank. Now, you will now lose 40-60% of your money, but you haven't done anything wrong. You just sold your house. Or what if I own no land, but have stored all of my wealth in bank deposits? The technical and political details involved in making bail outs fair—spreading out the pain—are very difficult. It may not be feasible to sanction depositors.