It looks like the first day of banking in Cyprus after a post-bailout shut-down went swimmingly:
The president of Cyprus said on Friday the risk of bankruptcy had been contained and the country had no intention of leaving the euro, in a speech laden with criticism of Europe’s currency union for “experimenting” with the island’s fate.
Conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades spoke a day after banks reopened following an almost two-week shutdown to avert a run on deposits by worried Cypriots and wealthy foreign depositors as the country raced to clinch a rescue package from the European Union.
“Everyone will have to make sacrifices as our financial situation, in the violent way in which it has developed, will oblige all of us to share the burden” to reform the economy, [Anastasiades] added.
I should think the financially astute would take little comfort in the calm yesterday, as tight restrictions are being imposed on both individuals and businesses for the next 30 days:
The capital controls include limiting daily cash withdrawals to €300 ($383) per person and limiting payments abroad to €5,000 ($6,400). No checks can be cashed, although they can be deposited.
Anyone leaving the country, whether Cypriot or a visitor, can only take up to €1,000 ($1,290) with them in cash.
And while Anastasiades praised the “maturity and responsibility” shown by Cypriots under such tight fiscal controls, most are troubled by the realities of the bailout deal. A few of yesterday’s bank customers shared their thoughts:
“You’ve no idea how much I’ve been waiting for this,” said 64-year-old pensioner Froso Kokikou, waiting in line at a branch of Cyprus Popular Bank, also known as Laiki.
“I feel a sense of fear and disappointment having to queue up like this; it feels like a Third World country, but what can you do?” Kokikou said. “This is what they imposed on us and we have to live with it.”
Kostas Nikolaou, a 60-year-old pensioner, said the uncertainty of the past two weeks had been “like a slow death”.
He added: “How can they tell you that you can’t access your own money in the bank? It’s our money, we are entitled to it.”
I suspect that the political leaders of Cyprus are hoping that their citizens will have forgotten about the plans to tax deposits and implement levies in a month. Or, perhaps they are counting on another major distraction so people forget about not being able to access their money.
It will be interesting to see what happens in Cyprus at the end of April.
I suspect it’s going to remind people of a quip by Madame de Pompadour, French courtesan and mistress to King Louis XV: “After us, the deluge.”DONATE
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