Advertisements

How Russia Could Take Revenege Over Cyprus Deal

Comments Off on How Russia Could Take Revenege Over Cyprus Deal

Europe has already had a taste of what Russia can do in 2009, due to the dispute with Ukraine over an unpaid gas bill. That winter the tap was turned off and maybe that was point, to remind Europe not to cross Russia in future. Steve Keen in this CNBC article takes a look at the possible way in which an angry Russia can hit back.

putinGermany might be telling the world not to blame it for Cyprus’ bailout plan, but one analyst told CNBC that Russia could avenge the loss of billions of dollars it has invested and deposited on the island by cutting Germany’s energy supply.

As the Cypriot parliament prepares to vote on a controversial and unprecedented proposal to levy a tax on bank accounts held on the island, the deal has been described as a covert move by Germany and its euro zone partners to tackle what they perceive as Russian money laundering in Cyprus.

Twenty percent of total deposits of the Cypriot banking system are held by Russians and many Russian businesses are registered in Cyprus, making any plan to levy a 15.6 percent tax on deposits over 100,000 a moot point for Russia. The country has also given Cyprus a $3.3 billion loan that Cyprus wishes to extend.

Russia’s leaders have already condemned the European bank levy proposal, with President Vladimir Putin calling it “unfair, unprofessional and dangerous” on Monday. On Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev added to the growing Russian frustration over the move. “Quite strange and controversial decisions [are] being made by some EU member states. I mean Cyprus. Frankly speaking, this looks like the confiscation of other people’s money,” Medvedev said on Monday.

Steve Keen, professor of Economics & Finance at the University of Western Sydney, told CNBC that Russia could retaliate against the perceived proxy attack on its citizens, and their money.

“If you try to target the Russians, and there’s President Putin acting under the image of the ‘strong man’ of Russia, why would he not then decide to shut down gas supplies to Germany until that was righted?

“If you’re going to attack money laundering then attack it directly, don’t make Cypriot peasants and small businessmen collateral in your campaign against Russian oligarchs. Declare the campaign rather than doing it under the carpet like this too,” he added.

“Russia has been willing to play that card before,” Keen said, alluding to when Russia’s largest state-owned gas and oil supplier Gazprom reduced gas supplies to Europe in 2009 during a dispute with an Ukrainian energy company.

With 36 percent of Europe relying on Russia for its gas supply, the threat or act of limiting supplies gives Russia a powerful card to play should it wish to push home a political point against Germany.

“It is an explosive political situation,” Nick Spiro, head of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, told CNBC. “This is a rubicon which should have never been crossed…This bailout agreement has Germany’s political fingerprints all over it,” Spiro told CNBC Europe’s “Squawk Box.”

“If Germany’s aim was that the larger deposit holders, the Russian ones, were going to bear the brunt of this, then obviously it’s backfired,” he added.

Steve Keen told CNBC that the proposal was tantamount to “blowing the brains out of capitalism” and such a proposal would destroy the euro and the idea of a monetary system.

“It’s mind-boggling that German bureaucrats and politicians can think that this is a sensible way to share the pain,” Keen said. “If you destroy the trust that depositors have in their bank accounts, you fundamentally destroy the oil of capitalism.”

“This is an absurd decision which has to be blocked somehow. If the Russians block it or the Cypriots block, somebody has to block it,” he said, ahead of a crucial debate in the Cypriot parliament over whether to ratify the plan.

Approving the plan is central to Cyprus receiving a 10 billion euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) but as yet, the outcome of the vote is uncertain.

The Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades reportedly told German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union’s economics affairs commissioner Olli Rehn on Monday that he would stand by what was agreed at a euro zone finance ministers’ meeting last week but “insisted that EU partners offer some additional help,” a state spokesman, Christos Stylianides, told state radio on Tuesday.

(Read More: Cyprus President Is a ‘Fool:’ Gartman)

Stylianides added that President Anastasiades is also likely to talk to the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday.

Against a backdrop of protests in Cyprus and sharp declines in global equity markets on Monday, the German finance minister attempted to deflect blame from his country, saying the solution had not been a German idea and that he was open to it being changed.

“The levy on deposits below 100,000 euros was not the creation of the German government,” Wolfgang Schuble told reporters in Berlin on Monday. “If one reached another solution we would not have the slightest problem,” he added. On Tuesday, however, Schuble said that Germany pressed for a “bail-in” of Cypriot depositors to protect European taxpayers.

Source: CNBC

Advertisements

Germany On Verge Of Bailing Out Cyprus

Comments Off on Germany On Verge Of Bailing Out Cyprus

This euro crisis just gets better and better. Cyprus is locked out of the bonds markets for over a year now and is being kept alive by a loan from Russia but badly needs a bailout. Thats where the dilemma lies for Germany which will bear the brunt of any bailout. A lot of the depositors in Cypriot banks are Russian black money and with an election later this year, it would be very embarrassing for Merkel to be seen to supporting handing over German taxpayers money to pay back dodgy Russians.

When German officials said they would save the euro zone at all costs, the prospect of bailing out Russian oligarchs was not what they had in mind.

But eight months before a crucial election in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing charges that Europe is doing just that as the tiny island of Cyprus, a haven for Russian cash, threatens to become the next point of contention in the euro crisis.

In recent days, Germany has signaled that it is reluctantly edging toward a bailout for Cyprus, after lifelines have been extended to Greece, Ireland and Portugal to prevent potentially calamitous defaults. While Cyprus makes up just a sliver of the euro zone economy, it is proving to be a first-rate political headache.

“I don’t think that Germany has ever in the history of the euro zone crisis left itself so little wiggle room,” said Nicholas Spiro, the managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London. “But Germany wants the euro to succeed and survive, and they are saying we can’t afford a Cyprus bankruptcy.”

But giving a bailout to Cyprus is trickier than it seems. Cyprus’s politicians would prefer not to take European money, which comes with the harsh austerity conditions that have spread misery in Greece. And they can argue that Cyprus was doing relatively well until Greece’s second bailout, when Greek government bonds — of which Cypriot banks held piles — lost considerable value.

The question of keeping the euro together had seemed to be conveniently fading for Ms. Merkel, who in the fall put her full backing behind the euro zone, quieting fears of a breakup. But Berlin seems to have been caught off guard by the political tempest stirred up by Cyprus, which has been shut out of international bond markets for a year but has been kept afloat by a $3.5 billion loan from the Russian government.

Here, is where it get hilariously funny 😉

With that money running out, Germany and its European partners have been locked in a fierce debate over whether and how to throw Cyprus a lifeline. The problem is, most of the money lost by Cypriot banks was Russian, and the worry is that most of the bailout money could wind up in the hands of Russian oligarchs and gangsters. That fear, backed by a recent report by German intelligence, has stoked a furor even among some of Ms. Merkel’s political partners. “I do not want to vouch for black Russian money,” Volker Kauder, a prominent member of her conservative bloc, said recently.

The Russian presence is thick on Cyprus, a picturesque Mediterranean island and a onetime British colony. The bustling, large city of Limassol has an enclave of restaurants, shops and fur boutiques so packed with Russians that locals call it “Limassolgrad.”

You know when something is true, when you get an official denial.

Officials in Cyprus say there is no proof that the Russian cash in its banks is of dubious origin, and they insist that they cracked down on money laundering before joining the European Union. The officials point to an evaluation by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showing that Cyprus is compliant with more than 40 directives against money laundering.

With a population of slightly over 1 million, Cyprus is looking for about €22 billion for its banks.And  I thought Ireland messed up its banks bigtime.

While any lifeline for Cyprus would be small — about $22 billion compared with about $327 billion for Greece — the quandary has reverberated in Europe’s halls of power, and especially in Berlin, which appears to have been backed into a corner by Ms. Merkel’s commitment to keep the euro zone together no matter what.

The outspoken German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, recently cast doubt on whether Cyprus should even be considered for a bailout, given its small size and the stark reality that it is not nearly as vital to the euro’s existence as the larger economies of Spain or Italy. His blunt assessment reportedly drew an admonishment from Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, which has spent hundreds of billions of euros on a program intended to discourage financial market speculators from attacking euro zone countries.

Already Cyprus is implementing austerity measures and they are having predictable consequences.

With Russia refusing to provide any further financing unless the so-called troika of creditors — the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission — provides most of the bailout, the Cypriot government has few options. It signed a memorandum of understanding in November with the troika, setting off a wave of austerity measures that are already starting to hit the enfeebled Cypriot economy.

The salaries of public sector workers have since been slashed by up to 15 percent, state pensions are to be cut by up to 10 percent and the value-added tax is set to rise. “The island has been hard hit, and there is an atmosphere of fear,” Mr. Faustmann said. “People are not sure if they will keep their jobs, and if they do, how long they will have them.”

Mr. Faustmann estimated that it would take at least a half-decade for the Cypriot economy to recover — assuming that the conditions required by Germany and the troika do not send Russian money fleeing from the banks. “If that happens,” he said, “then Cyprus is dead.”

Source: NY Times

Draghi Silences German Finance Minister Over Cyprus “let them default” Comments

Comments Off on Draghi Silences German Finance Minister Over Cyprus “let them default” Comments

There is one word within the EUSSR that’s never to be uttered and thats DEFAULT. No matter what, bank debt must be honoured, God forbid they loose one cent and that is at the heart of the matter in Germany. Just before the German parlimentary elections, nobody wants to be seen bailing out Cyprus or more importantly shady Russia money via the back door since the majority of Cyprus’s debt is owned to Russia.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has publicly stated that he doesn’t think a Cyprus default would have much harm on the euro. Draghi’s response was of the line, “you are a lawyer so STFU”.

A debate has been raging in Germany about Cyprus. Not that the German parliament, which has a say in this, wouldn’t rubberstamp an eventual bailout, as it rubberstamped others before, but right now they’re not in the mood. Cyprus is too much of a mess. Bailing out uninsured depositors of Cypriot banks would set a costly precedent for other countries. And bailing out Russian “black money,” which makes up a large portion of the deposits, would be, well, distasteful in Germany, a few months before the federal elections.

For the tiny country whose economy is barely a rounding error in the Eurozone, it would be an enormous bailout. At €17.5 billion, it would amount to about 100% of GDP: €10 billion for the banks, €6 billion for holders of existing debt, and €1.5 billion to cover budget deficits through 2016. The new debt, a €2.5 billion loan that Russia extended in 2011, and other debt would amount to 150% of GDP, according to Moody’s. Unsustainable. So haircuts would be necessary. But whose hair would be cut?

As always, there is never an alternative to a bailout. “It’s essential that everybody realizes that a disorderly default of Cyprus could lead to an exit of Cyprus from the Eurozone,” said Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs. “It would be extremely stupid to take any risk of that nature.”

A risk German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble would be willing to take. He’d been saying publicly that it wasn’t certain yet that a default would put the Eurozone at risk—”one of the requirements that any bailout money can flow at all,” he said. Cyprus simply wasn’t “systemically important.” In fact, there were alternatives.

Heretic words. He needed to be shut up, apparently. And that happened at the meeting of Eurozone finance ministers a week ago, details of which sources just leaked to the Spiegel.

The meeting was marked by the transfer of the Eurogroup presidency from Jean-Claude Juncker to the new guy, Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem. Cyprus was also on the agenda, but not much was accomplished, other than an agreement to delay the bailout decision until after the Cypriot general elections in February. The government has resisted certain bailout conditions, such as the privatization of state-owned enterprises and the elimination of cost-of-living adjustments for salaries. Now, everyone wanted to deal with the new government.

The put down.

But what didn’t make it into the press release was that ECB President Mario Draghi, bailout-fund tsar Klaus Regling, and Olli Rehn, all three unelected officials, had formed a triumvirate to gang up on Schäuble.

That Cyprus wasn’t “systemically important” was something he kept hearing everywhere from lawyers, Draghi told Schäuble at the meeting. But it wasn’t a question that can be answered by lawyers, he said. It was a topic for economists.

A resounding put-down: Schäuble, a lawyer by training—not an economist—wasn’t competent to speak on the issue and should therefore shut up!

The smoke and mirror argument the triumvirate used was that a Cypriot default would affect Greece, which is true, but for German taxpayers it would be extremely distasteful for the majority of this bailout to go to shady Russian depositors.

The two largest Cypriot banks had an extensive network of branches in Greece, the triumvirate argued. If deposits at these branches weren’t considered safe, Greek depositors would be plunged again into uncertainty, which could then infect Greek banks and cause a serious relapse in Greece.  

If Cyprus went bust, they contended, it would annihilate the flow of positive news that has been responsible recently for calming down the Eurozone.

For weeks, all signs have pointed towards an improvement, they argued. Risk premiums for Spanish and Italian government debt have dropped significantly, and balances between central banks, which had risen to dangerous levels, have been edging down. If the money spigot were turned off, this recovery could reverse, they argued. Contagion would spread and could jeopardize Ireland’s and Portugal’s return to the financial markets.

Further, Cyprus was carrying its portion of the bailout funds and therefore had a right to its own bailout—a legal argument even a mere lawyer should be able to grasp.

And so, letting tiny Cyprus default could tear up the rest of the Eurozone, they argued—saying essentially that bailouts were a delicate con game, and that Schäuble, by digging in his heels, was blowing it up.

Eurocrats bitch slap the German Finance Minister and tell the Germans to hand over the cash. If this show of force from the bankers doesn’t demonstrate who holds the balance of power in eurozone then I don’t know what will.

It made for another bitter Eurozone irony: the democratically elected finance minister of a country whose taxpayers have to pay more than any other for the bailouts got shut down by unelected Eurocrats who, in a continued power grab, postulated that Cypriot banks, their bondholders, their depositors, even their uninsured depositors, even Russian “black money” depositors had a “right” to the German money (and anyone else’s). And if Schäuble refused, it would blow up the entire Eurozone. Schäuble’s response hasn’t bubbled to the surface yet. And bailout queen Chancellor Merkel, who is trying to avoid tumult ahead of her elections, has a new headache. Read…  Russian “Black Money” Threatens To Boot Cyprus Out Of The Eurozone.

Source: Testosterone Pit

2013: Let The Currency Wars Truely Begin

Comments Off on 2013: Let The Currency Wars Truely Begin

Up until now the G20 countries were shafting each other quietly through various means of currency devaluation. Many new terms for printing money were added to the lexicon. Lately the rhetoric has begun to get more aggressive. ZeroHedge writes of the Russia’s Central Bank Chief’s warning that “the world is on the brink of a fresh currency war”. Along with gold repatriation stories, 2013 is shaping up to be a tough year ahead for Central Bankers.

It will not come as a surprise to anyone who has spent more than a few cursory minutes reading ZeroHedge over the past few years (back in 2009, then 2010, and most recently here, and here) but the rolling ‘beggar thy neighbor’ currency strategies of world central banks are gathering pace. To wit, Bloomberg reports that energy-bound Russia’s central bank chief appears to have broken ranks warning that “the world is on the brink of a fresh ‘currency war’.” With Japan openly (and actively) verbally intervening to depress the JPY and now Juncker’s “dangerously high” comments on the EUR yesterday, it appears 2013 will be the year when the G-20 finance ministers (who agreed to ‘refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies’ in 2009) tear up their promises and get active. Rhetoric is on the rise with the Bank of Korea threatening “an active response”, Russia now suggesting reciprocal devaluations will occur (and hurt the global economy) as RBA Governor noted that there is “a degree of disquiet in the global policy-making community.” Critically BoE Governor Mervyn King has suggested what only conspiracists have offered before: “we’ll see the growth of actively managed exchange rates,” and sure enough where FX rates go so stocks will nominally follow (see JPY vs TOPIX and CHF vs SMI recently).

Via Bloomberg:

The world is on the brink of a fresh “currency war,” Russia warned, as European policy makers joined Japan in bemoaning the economic cost of rising exchange rates.

Japan is weakening the yen and other countries may follow,”

 …

 The push for weaker currencies is being driven by a need to find new sources of economic growth as monetary and fiscal policies run out of room. The risk is as each country tries to boost exports, it hurts the competitiveness of other economies and provokes retaliation.

 Yesterday “will go down as the first day European policy makers fired a shot in the 2013 currency war,” said Chris Turner, head of foreign-exchange strategy at ING Groep NV in London.

 …

 The skirmish may lead to a clash of G-20 finance ministers and central banks when they meet next month in Moscow, three months after reiterating their 2009 pledge to “refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies.”

 While emerging markets have repeatedly complained about strong currencies as a result of easy monetary policies in the west, the engagement of richer nations is adding a new dimension to what Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega first dubbed a currency war in 2010.

Source: ZeroHedge

Cyprus Bailout MoneyTo Benefit Russia

Comments Off on Cyprus Bailout MoneyTo Benefit Russia

Cyprus is on the verge of a bailout from the EU but according to Testosteronepit it is Russian “black” money that will benefit. Either way, Cyprus needs €17 billion for its bankrupt banks following in the path of other Eurozone countries whereby the banks destroyed the nation and governments under orders, signed its citizens up to repaying the banks debts.

German Bailout Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is trying to avoid any tumult ahead of the elections later this year, has a new headache. Cyprus, the fifth of 17 Eurozone countries to ask for a bailout, might default and exit the Eurozone under her watch. Using taxpayer money or the ECB’s freshly printed trillions to bail out the corrupt Greek elite or stockholders, bondholders, and counterparties of decomposing banks, or even privileged speculators, is one thing, but bailing out Russian “black money” is, politically at least, quite another.

Cyprus is in horrid shape. Particularly its banks. Their €152 billion in “assets” are 8.5 times the country’s GDP of €17.8 billion. “Assets” in quotation marks because some have dissipated and because €23 billion in loans, or 27% of the banks’ entire credit portfolio, are nonperforming. That’s 127% of GDP! And then there are the Russian-owned “black-money” accounts.

A “secret” report by the German version of the CIA, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) was leaked last November, revealing that any bailout of Cyprus would benefit rich Russians and their €26 billion in “black money” that they deposited in the now collapsing banks. The report accuses Cyprus of creating ideal conditions for large-scale money laundering, including handing out Cypriot passports to Russian oligarchs, giving them the option to settle in the EU. Much of this laundered money then reverses direction, turning minuscule Cyprus into Russia’s largest foreign investor [read…  The Bailout of Russian “Black Money” in Cyprus].

Now Cyprus needs a bailout of over €17 billion but Merkel faces an enormous task back home in convincing a sceptical public in bailing out Russian interests.

Now Cyprus needs €17.5 billion—just about 100% of its GDP—of which €12 billion would go directly to the murky and putrid banks. The package should be wrapped up and signed on February 10 at the meeting of the European finance ministers.

“I cannot imagine that the German taxpayer will save Cypriot banks whose business model is to abet tax fraud,” grumbled Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the opposition SPD that has been a supporter of euro bailouts; and Merkel, hobbled by opposition within her own coalition, had relied on them to get prior bailouts passed. “If Mrs. Merkel wants to have the approval of the SPD, she must have very good reasons,” he said. “But I don’t see any….”

The Greens are resisting the Cyprus bailout for the same reasons. And 20 members of Merkel’s own coalition are categorically opposed to it. For the first time, Merkel has no majority to get a bailout package passed. The opposition smells an election advantage.

Before the German finance minister can vote in the Euro Group of finance ministers for disbursement of bailout funds, he must seek parliamentary approval. The German Constitutional Court said so, inconveniently. But without his yes-vote, which weighs 29%, the qualified majority of 73.9% cannot be reached. The bailout disbursement crashes. That’s what Cyprus is contemplating.

Fearing defeat, sources within the government now made it known that they wouldn’t even present a bailout package unless Cyprus agreed to “radical reforms,” including massive privatizations of the bloated state sector—precisely what communist President Dimitris Christofias has ruled out.

The Russian “black money” is so unpalatable that even the bailout-happy President of the EU Parliament, Martin Schulz, got cold feet. Before a bailout package could be put together, he said, “it must be disclosed where the money in Cyprus is coming from.”

Markus Ferber, head of Merkel’s coalition partner CSU, demanded a guarantee that “we help the citizens of Cyprus and not the Russian oligarchs.” In addition, he wants Cyprus to reform its naturalization law. If Cyprus wants to get bailed out, he mused, it must make sure “that not everyone who has a lot of money can get a Cypriot passport.

Source: Testosteronepit

Russia Introduces Gold And Silver Coins As Legal Tender

Comments Off on Russia Introduces Gold And Silver Coins As Legal Tender

A smart move by Russia to issue gold and silver coins as legal tender. Its another blow to the confidence of fiat currency. The Central Bank of Russia said:

The coins are legal tender cash payment in the Russian Federation and must be accepted at face value in all kinds of payments without any restrictions

 

It seems 2012 is not yet done with its surprises. The Central Bank of Russia has issued three values of bullion (300,000 31.1g silver pieces with a 3RUB face value, 300,000 7.78g gold pieces with 50RUB face, & 100,000 15.55g gold pieces with a 100RUB face value) that can be used as legal tender beginning, well,  TWO DAYS AGO! If you don’t yet understand the ramifications of such a move, don’t worry, it’s not too late. But you want to begin reading now – starting with the history of metals as money. The clock is ticking and no one knows when the the current economic model’s Duracell will die. Hell, we don’t even know if it’s a AAA, AA, 9V, C size, or D size battery. Every year there seems to be the establishment of new institutions with the capital to lend more. In my book these sizes don’t matter. I think we’re already on the Duracell Rechargeable model. But we all know they don’t last for ever either.

The link from the Central Bank of Russia is at : http://www.cbr.ru/pw.aspx?file=/press/if/121217_164427monet1.htm

Sourc: sandeproject.wordpress.com

Russia Sits On Trillions Of Carats Of Diamonds

Comments Off on Russia Sits On Trillions Of Carats Of Diamonds

Sounds extraordinary but apparently Russia has been siting on a source of diamonds since the 1970s that is claimed to be trillions of carats.

Russia is about to start tapping into a huge source of diamonds that could supply the world market for the next 3,000 years. Scientists estimate there are ‘trillions of carats’ lying beneath a 35million-year-old asteroid crater in Siberia – more than ten times the global stockpile.

The Kremlin has known about the reserves under the 62-mile-wide impact zone since the 1970s. But it has kept it a secret until now because it was already reaping big profits in what back then was a heavily controlled market.

The official news agency, ITAR-Tass, said the diamonds at the site, known as Popigai Astroblem, are ‘twice as hard’ as the usual gemstones, making them ideal for industrial and scientific uses.  According to The Christian Science Monitor, the institute’s director, Nikolai Pokhilenko, told the agency that the new source would cause a radical shake-up in the precious stones market.

‘The resources of super-hard diamonds contained in rocks of the Popigai crypto-explosion structure are by a factor of ten bigger than the world’s all known reserves,’ he said.  ‘We are speaking about trillions of carats. By comparison, present-day known reserves in Yakutia (a Russian mine) are estimated at one billion carats.’

The stones at Popigai are known as ‘impact diamonds’ which result when an object like a meteor strikes an existing diamond deposit. They are also unique, which will make them even more sought-after in high-precision scientific and industrial markets.

Source: Daily Mail

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: