How would you like to be told on Monday that the government has seized 20% of your savings because the bankers have overplayed their hand and put the country in dutch and tough titty if you don’t like it? This is reportedly about to happen to everyone in Cyprus with secured savings totalling over $100,000.
It’s part of a plan by the Cyprus government to raise $5.8 billion that’s been required by European Union lenders before they reciprocate with a 10 billion Euro hand-over that will level things out for a bit.
“A cutoff of central bank financing and the absence of a bailout agreement could cause Cypriot banks to collapse,” says a 3.23 N.Y. Times report by Liz Alderman and James Kanter.
“It could also lead to a disorderly default on the government’s debt with unpredictable repercussions for the euro monetary union, despite the country’s tiny economy.”
It’s possible that a satisfactory deal won’t be struck, of course. One of the Times reporters asked government spokesman Christos Stylianides if Cyprus has a backup plan. Stylianides said if a solution isn’t found “we are doomed.”
The citizens of Cyprus are understandably enraged. Austerity measures are necessary, but you know what would calm things down among those who feel betrayed and ripped off? Look to Stanley Kubrick‘s Paths of Glory and the sacrificial execution of three French soldiers for their failure to take the ant hill. For their failure to play their financial cards in a responsible manner, three major Cypriot bankers should be chosen at random, lined up and shot by a firing squad.
Keep in mind that Colonel Andrea Stavrou, the character played by Anthony Quinn in The Guns of Navarone, was from Crete and only pretended to be “a poor fisherman from Cyprus.”