Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Eurocrash: Germans on the make

Cyprus 018-lev.jpg

The Cypriot parliament was supposed to vote on the bailout package yesterday. But it didn't. They maybe will vote today, unless they don't. Meanwhile, the banks are staying closed until Thursday.

The "colleagues" have allowed the Cypriot government a little more flexibility on how they structure their bank raid, exempting sums under €20,000. But, looking at the faces of these women (above), any Cypriot politicians venturing on the streets might measure their lifespans in nanoseconds. 

Says Marchel Alexandrovich, at the brokers Jefferies, though: "what should really worry European policymakers is not the €5.8 billion in money which is being extracted in Cyprus, but the €2,754 billion of deposits in the Spanish banking system". Of that, €182 billion comes from deposits outside the euro area. And that can very easily find different homes to go to. 

Not least, there is the Russian money and Putin is a seriously unhappy bunny on behalf of his friendly neighbourhood oligarchs. , His view of the levy is that it is "unfair, unprofessional and dangerous". A promised bilateral loan of €2.5 billion may now not materialise. 

Surprisingly, even the Turks are unhappy. Although they don't recognise the Greek Cypriot government, and have almost zero commercial links with the Greek side, the EU is Turkey's biggest trading partner and the turmoil has affected the value of the Turkish lira, cutting 0.9 percent from its value. 

The euro, predictably, hasn't done too well either, losing a full one percent of its value against the dollar – a three-month low. 

But there is one great beneficiary from all this – the German economy. Die Welt reports that the rush of investors to buy German government bonds had brought Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble an interest rate saving of at least €15 billion. 

This is because the federal government has to refinance annually about one-fifth of its €1.3 trillion debt mountain each year by issuing new securities. Servicing the interest costs around €30 billion. But for the crisis, though, this sum would be even higher. 

And, according to calculations by the Kiel Institute for World Economics (IfW), this so-called "safe-haven" effect will get stronger as the eurocrisis persists. By 2023, the federal government will have saved about €80 billion, from reduced interest, compared with pre-2009 levels when the crisis started.

Rather than getting so angry, therefore, Cypriot grannies should be comforted by the thought that Angela Merkel is saving a lot more than they are having to find. Somehow, though, one gets the impression that they are not as enthusiastic as they might be. 

Some people are so hard to please.