The big news from today

by on January 25, 2013 at 11:24 am in Current Affairs, Law | Permalink

Via Felix Salmon, it appears Cyprus is going to default.  However small a country it may be, does anyone at this point want to be on record setting any number of precedents, one way or the other?

Felix asks:

So even if Europe has made its first big decision — to force Cyprus to default — it still faces many more. Should it amend the ESM treaty to make any restructuring easier? Should it impose a haircut on Cyprus’s uninsured depositors? And how can it structure the process to minimize the chances of a messy bank run, default, and possibly even exit from the euro? It’s easy to dismiss Cyprus as too small to worry about. But it’s still an important sovereign state. And if the EU missteps on Cyprus, that would bode very ill for any similar problems in bigger eurozone countries in the future.

“Creative ambiguity” is getting harder to manage all the time.  What would a depositor haircut here imply for Greek and Spanish banks?

prior_approval January 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm

‘Cyprus is tiny, and could never afford the €17 billion needed to bail out the banks and the government — especially since that would bring the country’s debt load up to more than 140% of GDP.’

We are talking about 17 billion euros here? 17 billion?

Of apparently written off Greek debt? So the people that bought Cypriot debt based on Greek debt are going to take a haircut? Or not, because they were clever to ensure that the terms were to their favor, unlike the Greek situation?

How about everybody else holding on to that Cypriot debt? Just peachy keen, are they? Or maybe 17 billion just isn’t that large amount anymore, even when held by a government.

And that European officals are mealy mouthed weasels – (yeah, that doesn’t really work – weasels are anything but mealy mouthed) is that news now?

‘It’s easy to dismiss Cyprus as too small to worry about. But it’s still an important sovereign state.’

Well, for dodgy banking in the MENA + former Soviet Bloc, and a convenient way for certain people to keep their money out of coffers it probably should be flowing into – oil money and arms dealing coming immediately to mind, along with more than a soupcon of drug and kickback/bribery money in the mix.

Somehow, I think this will be much bigger news in the U.S. than in the EU/eurozone – Cyprus is just a chip in the Greek/Turkish game, after all – and Turkey still holds onto its part, amounting to about a third of the island. Which, I’m reasonably certain, holds no Greek government debt in its portfolio.

prior_approval January 25, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Or Turkey’s part is 25% – the difference in size and population is roughly 33%.

tmc January 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Just think of it as 1.5% of what Obama overspent last year. Makes it sound a lot better. To about 52% of the people anyway.

prior_approval January 26, 2013 at 12:40 am

Yep – the money we waste on the military is extraordinary by global standards, but we prefer stories about eurogeddon over the reality of being prepared to create armageddon.

Ray Lopez January 25, 2013 at 12:28 pm

The original WSJ article (see the links in Salmon’s article) does NOT mention default, just a bailout: ” A flap over a potential bailout for Cyprus is heightening anxieties that the tiny island’s economy could become the next flash point in the euro zone’s debt crisis. ” TC are you shouting fire in a crowded theatre?

prior_approval January 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm

EUROGEDDON IS HERE!! EUROGEDDON IS HERE!!

Previously, he just proclaimed it would come, but in the last week, it has arrived – at least on this blog.

People actually living in the eurozone don’t have the amzaing perception he does, however.

R January 25, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Well I’m actually posting in Greece and am surprised we have not yet defaulted. What is holding up Eurogeddon I ask? Today is day 7 of a transit strike btw…

David Wright January 25, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Greece did default. Unfortunately (in my view) it was a fudged default, softened by moving Greek debt into the hands of cooperative creditors who would finance their own payments, re-arranging payment terms while maintaining face values, etc.

Here’s hoping that the EU will see Cyprus as small enough to be used as a test case for a hard default, as in “Announcement: we will simply not re-pay this debt. End of announcement.”

(In other often conveniently misremembered history, the US auto manufacters did in fact go bankrupt. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_bankruptcy). The US government intervention just ensured that its political clients got better terms out of the bankruptcy than they would have otherwise.)

Anon. January 25, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Greece has defaulted not just once but twice.

dead serious January 25, 2013 at 6:17 pm

It’s news when there is *not* a transit strike in Greece.

Hazel Meade January 25, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Maybe this is what Eurogeddon looks like.

Did you think fire and brimstone would rain from the heavens?

tmc January 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm

The article also said “The rescue will also require a major restructuring of the country’s banking system that may lead some banks to be wound down or merged, Mr. Rehn said.”

Sometimes there is fire.

Rahul January 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm

How much was the CDS selling for?

Brian Donohue January 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Wrong! The big news of the day is that Russ Roberts knocked one out of the park:

http://cafehayek.com/2013/01/measuring-growth.html

Ray Lopez January 25, 2013 at 2:09 pm

That was a powerful rebuttal to the Great Stagnation thesis by R. Roberts. “And sure, indoor plumbing is lovely. I’m a big fan. But it doesn’t explain growth.” = nor does it explain why Japan is a worse place to live for anybody except the Japanese despite the fact they have the most sophisticated toilets in the world (called “bidets”).

Eric Rasmusen January 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm

“The big news from today?”

I thought it was “Small earthquake in Canada. Nobody hurt.”

More seriously: the DC Circuit has just struck down Obama’s 3 NLRB appointments, 3-0 decision.

Bill January 25, 2013 at 3:54 pm

The question to ask is: is there a bank that will go under as a result, and, if so is that bank significant to the European banking network such that the effect of its collapse will cause other European banks to go under.

Likely not.

Doug M January 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm

The Eurozone has to learn to not fear default. Perhaps some amount of restructuring is in order to make defaults less messy.

If the government of Cyprus goes, to Cypriot banks necessarily fold?

How much banking is controlled by local banks? Don’t international banks provide most of the banking services?

Very Serious Sam January 25, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Being a German taxpayer, I don’t want to bail out the russian billionaires via support for Cyprus tax evasion banks.

But look how they were being bailed out with my and my children and grandchildren (…ad infinitum) taxes.

Hazel Meade January 25, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Maybe the Germans should demand reparations.

Abelard Lindsey January 25, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Sovereign default was not un-common prior to WWII. That the return on government bonds being defined as the risk-free rate of return is the criminal fraud that has been taught in business school since the 1960’s. Anyone with a passing knowledge of science would immediately recognize this as a blatant case of selection bias.

Steve January 25, 2013 at 9:49 pm

At FRIDAY NIGHT VIDEOS there’s something for everyone…

http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com/2013/01/friday-night-videos.html

Guest January 25, 2013 at 10:39 pm

This is great news for anyone who hates Russian oligarchs and loves freedom. Cyprus is the destination for scumbag Russians to launder their money and then re-insert it back into the EU system. Now all we need is for London to go down and money laundering by Russian criminals will slow to a trickle.

Dim January 27, 2013 at 7:01 am

Dear American people who treat financial problems of small countries the same way you treat NFL news,

…please get your facts straight.

Rehn never said Cyprus was going to default. WSJ put a twist to the story implying that the required reduction in debt that Rehn talked about equals debt restructuring. Of course if you had a clue about facts you would know he was talking about privatisation’s in particular.

Then Salmon with his low IQ reported a debt restructuring as a fact…and MR seems to continue the trend.

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