Tuesday 26 March 2013

The Bank Robbers of Cyprus

In November 1983 at the Brinks MAT warehouse at Heathrow Airport, a gang of robbers stole £26 million in cash, gold and diamonds. It was described as the greatest bank robbery in history. However on Monday the Government of Cyprus overtook that by a long way! They agreed to steal over 5 billion euroes from the savings accounts of ordinary Cypriot people who have been naughty enough to save a certain amount of their personal income together. You may think "steal" is too emotive a word; the news is calling it a "levy"; it's hardly the same thing... is it? Yes. The only difference is that the money is inside the accounts and not in their wallets. If it were the latter you'd call the police; but this act of grand theft is being done in the open, with unbelievable arrogance, by these people's own government. It's amazing how terrified governments are of disturbing one hair on any banker's head; they're virtually tip-toeing around them with their elbows pressed to their sides and their shoulders hunched, not daring to ask them to toss a penny their way. There is now a controlled run on the banks, foreign investors from Russia and Italy, on which the island depends, are pulling out; wages will fall and retail prices will shoot through the roof. This is going to ruin the economy of Cyprus for decades to come.

It's worth comparing Cyprus with Iceland, two island nations at opposite corners of Europe, separated a vast distance by economic policy as well as geography. Iceland was where the crisis first kicked off in 2008, and Iceland's prime minister, Joanna Sigurthardottir and the women she recruited to her cabinet have let the bankers fry, they've refused to be "rescued" by the IMF and have even jailed some of the bank shareholders for fraud. (I'm a very harsh critic of feminism, but I can't help noticing the fact that the only decent politicians in Europe right now are female!) Iceland is now making a swift and productive economic recovery. Surely there is a lesson to be learned here, Cyprus.


The New Normal said...

although Iceland are now publicaly talking about joining the Euro.

You can resist and struggle but they always get their man (or woman as the case maybe) in the end.....

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

We'll see, NN. Give them a chance. You never know.