Do you remember what happened when Cyprus decided to defy the EU? In the end, the entire banking system of the nation collapsed and money was confiscated from private bank accounts. Well, the nation of Greece is now approaching a similar endgame. At this point, the Greek government has not received any money from the EU or the IMF since August 2014. As you can imagine, that means that Greek government accounts are just about bone dry. The new Greek government continues to insist that it will never “violate its anti-austerity mandate”, but the screws are tightening. Right now the unemployment rate in Greece is over 25 percent and the banking system is on the verge of collapse. It isn’t going to take much to set off a panic, and when it does happen there are already rumors that the EU plans to confiscate money from private bank accounts just like they did in Cyprus.
Throughout this entire multi-year crisis, things have never been this dire for the Greek government. In fact, Greece came thisclose to defaulting on a loan payment to the IMF back on May 12th. And with essentially no money remaining at all, the Greek government is supposed to make several large payments in the weeks ahead…
Athens barely made its latest payment (May 12) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and it managed to do so only when the government discovered that it could use a reserve account it wasn’t aware of, according to the Greek media.
Kathimerini, a Greek daily newspaper, reports that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wrote to the IMF’s Christine Lagarde warning that Greece would not be able to make that May payment, worth €762 million ($871 million, £554.2 million).
Pension and civil-servant pay packets are due at the end of the month, and based on this news Athens may struggle to pay them. Even if it does manage that, on June 5 the country owes another €305 million to the IMF.
In the two weeks following June 5 there are another three payments, bringing the June total to the IMF to over €1.5 billion.
The Germans and the other financial hawks in the EU are counting on these looming payment deadlines to force Greece into a deal.
Meanwhile, Greek banks also find themselves in very hot water. Many of them are almost totally out of collateral, and without outside intervention some of them could start collapsing within weeks. The following comes from Bloomberg…
Greek banks are running short on the collateral they need to stay alive, a crisis that could help force Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s hand after weeks of brinkmanship with creditors.
As deposits flee the financial system, lenders use collateral parked at the Greek central bank to tap more and more emergency liquidity every week. In a worst-case scenario, that lifeline will be maxed out within three weeks, pushing banks toward insolvency, some economists say.
“The point where collateral is exhausted is likely to be near,” JPMorgan Chase Bank analysts Malcolm Barr and David Mackie wrote in a note to clients May 15. “Pressures on central government cash flow, pressures on the banking system, and the political timetable are all converging on late May-early June.”
If no agreement is reached, by this time next month Greece could be plunging into a Cyprus-style crisis or worse.
And if that does happen, there are already rumblings that a “Cyprus-style solution” will be imposed. Just consider what James Turk recently told King World News…
The troika of the EU, ECB and IMF have not yet pulled the plug on the Greek banks, but the following quote in the Financial Times from this weekend should be a warning to anyone who still has money on deposit in that country: “The idea of a “Cyprus-like” presentation to Greek authorities has gained traction among some eurozone finance ministers, according to one official involved in the talks.”
The ECB is up to its eyeballs swimming in unpayable Greek debt that it holds. The ECB is not going to take a loss on this Greek paper on its books. Because Greece does not have the financial capacity to repay what is now about €112 billion of credit exposure to Greece on the ECB’s books, the ECB has only two alternatives.
It can push the €112 billion of Greek debt it holds to the national central banks of the Eurozone and on to the backs of the taxpayers in those countries, which it politically untenable. Or it can confiscate depositor money in Greek banks, like it did in Cyprus and as the FT has now reported.
Needless to say, such a move would be likely to set off financial panic all over Europe.
Could we actually see such a thing?
Well, let’s recall that back in April we already saw the Greek government forcibly grab “idle” cash from the bank accounts of regional governments and pension funds. The following is from a Bloomberg report about that event…
Running out of other options, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ordered local governments and central government entities to move their cash balances to the central bank for investment in short-term state debt.
The decree to confiscate reserves held in commercial banks and transfer them to the Bank of Greece could raise as much as 2 billion euros ($2.15 billion), according to two people familiar with the decision. The money is needed to pay salaries and pensions at the end of the month, the people said.
“It is a politically and institutionally unacceptable decision,” Giorgos Patoulis, mayor of the city of Marousi and president of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece, said in a statement on Monday.“No government to date has dared to touch the money of municipalities.”
Grabbing cash from the bank accounts of private citizens is just one step farther.
And what happened in Cyprus just a couple of years ago is still fresh in the minds of most Greeks. That is why so many of them have been pulling money out of the banks in recent weeks. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
Greeks remember very well what happened in Cyprus in 2013, when local banks were given a big thumbs-up from Europe to help themselves to their depositors’ accounts. Cyprus and Greece are very closely tied, and many Greeks consider the island a “sister-nation.”
What little trust remained in banks in Greece died that day. People have been nervously looking for signs something similar may happen again in their home country. And they resolved to act at the first sign of danger: banks cannot confiscate money you have under your mattress. Cash can be hidden away.
Let’s certainly hope that what happened in Cyprus does not happen in Greece.
But right now, both sides are counting on the other side to fold.
The Germans believe that at some point the economic and financial pain will become so immense that it will force the new Greek government to give in to their demands.
The Greeks believe that the threat of a full blown European financial crisis will cause the Germans to back down at the last moment.
So what if they are both wrong?
What if both sides are fully prepared to stand their ground and take us over the cliff and into disaster?
For a long time I have been warning that a great financial crisis is coming to Europe.
Do you have a bank account that you don’t actively use or a safe deposit box that you have not checked on for a while? If so, you might want to see if the government has grabbed your money. This sounds absolutely crazy, but it is true. All over the world, governments are shortening the time periods required before they can seize “dormant bank accounts” and “unclaimed property”. For example, as you will read about below, just last year the government of Australia seized a whopping 360 million dollars from dormant bank accounts. And this kind of thing is going on all over America as well. In fact, all 50 states actually pay private contractors to locate bank accounts and unclaimed property that can be seized. In some states, no effort will be made to contact you when your property is confiscated. And in most states, the seized property permanently become the property of the state government after a certain waiting period has elapsed. So please don’t put money or property into a bank somewhere and just let it sit there. If you do, the government may come along and grab it right out from under your nose.
In this day and age, broke governments all over the globe are searching for “creative ways” to raise revenues. In Australia for example, the time period required before the federal government could seize a dormant bank account was reduced from seven to three years, and this resulted in an unprecedented windfall for the Australian government over the past 12 months…
The federal government has seized a record $360 million from household bank accounts that have been dormant for just three years, prompting outrage in some quarters amid complaints that pensioners and retirees have lost deposits.
Figures from the Australian Security and Investments Commission (ASIC) show almost $360 million was collected from 80,000 inactive accounts in the year to May under new rules introduced by Labor. The new rules lowered the threshold at which the government is allowed to snatch funds from accounts that remain idle from seven years to three years.
The rule change has delivered the government a massive bonanza with the money collected in the year to May more than the total collected in the past five decades combined.
Most Americans are not going to be too concerned about this because it is happening on the other side of the planet.
But did you know that this is happening all over the U.S. as well?
For instance, the waiting period in the state of California used to be fifteen years.
Now it is just three years.
And when California grabs your money they don’t just sit around waiting for you to come and claim it. Instead, it gets dumped directly into the general fund and spent.
The State acquires unclaimed property through California’s Unclaimed Property Law, which requires “holders” such as corporations, business associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies to annually report and deliver property to the Controller’s Office after there has been no customer contact for three years. Often the owner forgets that the account exists, or moves and does not leave a forwarding address or the forwarding order expires. In some cases, the owner dies and the heirs have no knowledge of the property.
And it is not just bank accounts and safe deposit boxes that are covered by California law. The reality is that a vast array of different kinds of “unclaimed property” are covered…
The most common types of Unclaimed Property are:
Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents
Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
Uncashed cashier’s checks or money orders
Certificates of deposit
Matured or terminated insurance policies
Mineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds, and escrow accounts.
And when a state government grabs your property, the consequences can be absolutely devastating. The following is an excerpt from an ABC news report from a few years ago…
San Francisco resident Carla Ruff’s safe-deposit box was drilled, seized, and turned over to the state of California, marked “owner unknown.”
“I was appalled,” Ruff said. “I felt violated.”
Unknown? Carla’s name was right on documents in the box at the Noe Valley Bank of America location. So was her address — a house about six blocks from the bank. Carla had a checking account at the bank, too — still does — and receives regular statements. Plus, she has receipts showing she’s the kind of person who paid her box rental fee. And yet, she says nobody ever notified her.
“They are zealously uncovering accounts that are not unclaimed,” Ruff said.
To make matters worse, Ruff discovered the loss when she went to her box to retrieve important paperwork she needed because her husband was dying. Those papers had been shredded.
And that’s not all. Her great-grandmother’s precious natural pearls and other jewelry had been auctioned off. They were sold for just $1,800, even though they were appraised for $82,500.
And some states are even more aggressive than the state of California in going after bank accounts.
In a recent article, Simon Black noted that the state of Georgia can go after “dormant bank accounts” after just one year of inactivity…
In fact, each of the 50 states has its own regulations pertaining to the seizure of dormant accounts. And the grand prize goes to… the great state of Georgia!
Georgia’s Disposition of Unclaimed Properties Act sets the threshold as low as one year.
In other words, if you have a checking account in Georgia that you haven’t touched in twelve months, the state government is going to grab it.
So much for setting aside money for a rainy day and having the discipline to never touch it.
As economic conditions get even worse, the temptation for governments all over the planet to grab private bank accounts is going to become even greater.
The numbers that you are about to see are likely to shock you. They prove that the global financial Ponzi scheme is far more extensive than most people would ever dare to imagine. As you will see below, the total amount of debt in the world is now more than three times greater than global GDP. In other words, you could take every single good and service produced on the entire planet this year, next year and the year after that and it still would not be enough to pay off all the debt. But even that number pales in comparison to the exposure that big global banks have to derivatives contracts. It is hard to put into words how reckless they have been. At the low end of the estimates, the total exposure that global banks have to derivatives contracts is 710 trillion dollars. That is an amount of money that is almost unimaginable. And the reality of the matter is that there is really not all that much actual “money” in circulation today. In fact, as you will read about below, there is only a little bit more than a trillion dollars of U.S. currency that you can actually hold in your hands in existence. If we all went out and tried to close our bank accounts and investment portfolios all at once, that would create a major league crisis. The truth is that our financial system is little more than a giant pyramid scheme that is based on debt and paper promises. It is literally a miracle that it has survived for so long without collapsing already.
When Americans think about the financial crisis that we are facing, the largest number that they usually can think of is the size of the U.S. national debt. And at over 17 trillion dollars, it truly is massive. But it is actually the 2nd-smallest number on the list below. The following are 12 numbers about the global financial Ponzi scheme that should be burned into your brain…
–$1,280,000,000,000 – Most people are really surprised when they hear this number. Right now, there is only 1.28 trillion dollars worth of U.S. currency floating around out there.
–$17,555,165,805,212.27 – This is the size of the U.S. national debt. It has grown by more than 10 trillion dollars over the past ten years.
–$32,000,000,000,000 – This is the total amount of money that the global elite have stashed in offshore banks (that we know about).
–$48,611,684,000,000 – This is the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts.
–$59,398,590,000,000 – This is the total amount of debt (government, corporate, consumer, etc.) in the U.S. financial system. 40 years ago, this number was just a little bit above 2 trillion dollars.
–$70,088,625,000,000 – This is the total exposure that JPMorgan Chase has to derivatives contracts.
–$75,000,000,000,000 – This is approximately the total exposure that German banking giant Deutsche Bank has to derivatives contracts.
–$100,000,000,000,000 – This is the total amount of government debt in the entire world. This amount has grown by $30 trillion just since mid-2007.
–$223,300,000,000,000 – This is the approximate size of the total amount of debt in the entire world.
–$236,637,271,000,000 – According to the U.S. government, this is the total exposure that the top 25 banks in the United States have to derivatives contracts. But those banks only have total assets of about 9.4 trillion dollars combined. In other words, the exposure of our largest banks to derivatives outweighs their total assets by a ratio of about 25 to 1.
–$710,000,000,000,000 to $1,500,000,000,000,000 – The estimates of the total notional value of all global derivatives contracts generally fall within this range. At the high end of the range, the ratio of derivatives exposure to global GDP is about 21 to 1.
Most people tend to assume that the “authorities” have fixed whatever caused the financial world to almost end back in 2008, but that is not the case at all.
In fact, the total amount of government debt around the globe has grown by about 40 percent since then, and the “too big to fail banks” have collectively gotten 37 percent larger since then.
Our “authorities” didn’t fix anything. All they did was reinflate the bubble and kick the can down the road for a little while.
I don’t know how anyone can take an honest look at the numbers and not come to the conclusion that this is completely and totally unsustainable.
How much debt can the global financial system take before it utterly collapses?
How recklessly can the big banks behave before the house of cards that they have constructed implodes underneath them?
For the moment, everything seems fine. Stock markets around the world have been setting record highs and credit is flowing like wine.
But at some point a day of reckoning is coming, and when it arrives it is going to be the most painful financial crisis the world has ever seen.
If you plan on getting ready before it strikes, now is the time to do so.
The politicians of the western world are coming after your bank accounts. In fact, Cyprus-style “bail-ins” are actually proposed in the new Canadian government budget. When I first heard about this I was quite skeptical, so I went and looked it up for myself. And guess what? It is right there in black and white on pages 144 and 145 of “Economic Action Plan 2013″ which the Harper government has already submitted to the House of Commons. This new budget actually proposes “to implement a ‘bail-in’ regime for systemically important banks” in Canada. “Economic Action Plan 2013″ was submitted on March 21st, which means that this “bail-in regime” was likely being planned long before the crisis in Cyprus ever erupted. So exactly what in the world is going on here? In addition, as you will see below, it is being reported that the European Parliament will soon be voting on a law which would require that large banks be “bailed in” when they fail. In other words, that new law would make Cyprus-style bank account confiscation the law of the land for the entire EU. I can’t even begin to describe how serious all of this is. From now on, when major banks fail they are going to bail them out by grabbing the money that is in your bank accounts. This is going to absolutely shatter faith in the banking system and it is actually going to make it far more likely that we will see major bank failures all over the western world.
What you are about to see absolutely amazed me when I first saw it. The Canadian government is actually proposing that what just happened in Cyprus should be used as a blueprint for future bank failures up in Canada.
The following comes from pages 144 and 145 of “Economic Action Plan 2013″ which you can find right here. Apparently the goal is to find a way to rescue “systemically important banks” without the use of taxpayer funds…
Canada’s large banks are a source of strength for the Canadian economy. Our large banks have become increasingly successful in international markets, creating jobs at home.
The Government also recognizes the need to manage the risks associated with systemically important banks — those banks whose distress or failure could cause a disruption to the financial system and, in turn, negative impacts on the economy. This requires strong prudential oversight and a robust set of options for resolving these institutions without the use of taxpayer funds, in the unlikely event that one becomes non-viable.
So if taxpayer funds will not be used to bail out the banks, how will it be done? Well, the Canadian government is actually proposing that a “bail-in” regime be implemented…
The Government proposes to implement a “bail-in” regime for systemically important banks. This regime will be designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event that a systemically important bank depletes its capital, the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability through the very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital. This will reduce risks for taxpayers. The Government will consult stakeholders on how best to implement a bail-in regime in Canada. Implementation timelines will allow for a smooth transition for affected institutions, investors and other market participants.
So if the banks take extreme risks with their money and lose, “certain bank liabilities” (i.e. deposits) will rapidly be converted into “regulatory capital” and the banks will be saved.
In other words, the banks will just be allowed to grab money directly out of your bank accounts to recapitalize themselves.
That may sound completely and utterly insane to us, but this is how things will now be done all over the western world.
Sometimes a “bail-in” can be done by just converting unsecured debt into equity, but as we just saw in Cyprus, often when there is a major bank failure a lot more money is required to “fix the banks” than can possibly be raised by converting unsecured debt into equity. That is when it becomes very tempting to dip into uninsured back accounts.
In fact, some European politicians are openly admitting as much. According to RT, the European Parliament will soon be voting on a new law which will make Cyprus-style bank account confiscation a permanent part of the solution when major banks fail throughout the EU…
A senior lawmaker told Reuters the Cyprus model may not be an isolated case, and is perhaps a future template in dealing with troubled European banks.
The new template is now likely to turn into a full-scale EU law, letting taxpayers off the hook in case a bail-out is needed, but imposing major losses on bigger savers on a permanent basis.
“You need to be able to do the bail-in as well with deposits,” said Gunnar Hokmark, member of European Parliament, who is leading negotiations with EU countries to finalize a law for winding up problem banks, Reuters reported.
“Deposits below 100,000 euros are protected … deposits above 100,000 euros are not protected and shall be treated as part of the capital that can be bailed in,” Hokmark told Reuters, adding that he was confident a majority of his peers in the parliament backed the idea.
The European Commission has written the draft of the law, which now awaits approval from eurozone member states and the parliament on whether and when it can be implemented. It’s been reported, the law is planned to take effect in the beginning of 2015.
And for those in Cyprus with deposits of over 100,000 euros, the news just keeps getting worse and worse.
When the crisis first erupted, they were told that 10 percent of all deposits over 100,000 euros would be confiscated.
Then a few days later they were told that it would be 40 percent.
Now, according to the Washington Post, those with deposits over 100,000 euros at the second largest bank in Cyprus may lose as much as 80 percent of those deposits…
A deal was finally reached in Brussels with other euro countries and the International Monetary Fund early Monday. The country’s second-largest bank, Laiki, is to be split up, with its healthy assets being absorbed into the Bank of Cyprus. Savers with more 100,000 euros ($129,000) in either Bank of Cyprus and Laiki will face big losses. At Laiki, those could reach as much as 80 percent of amounts above the 100,000 insured limit; those at Bank of Cyprus are expected to be much lower.
Sadly, the truth is that those people will be lucky to ever see any of that money ever again.
How would you feel if someone came along and wiped out your life savings so that banks that took incredibly reckless risks could be bailed out?
Needless to say, a lot of people in Cyprus are very, very angry right now. The following reactions from outraged depositors in Cyprus are from Sky News…
“They have stolen our money,” Milton Loucas told Sky News.
“I have been working for 60 years. I am 80 years old. I cannot work again for my living – they have cut the lot.
“Our money, our social insurance – they have cut them. How are we going to live?”
Another Cypriot, Stelios, came out of the bank empty handed.
“I tried to get my February wages and they gave me a piece of paper only,” he said.
“I have two children in the army and they asked for money – I don’t have money to give them.
“The Government didn’t pay anybody. My old parents didn’t get their pension.”
A lot of people have just had their entire lives turned upside down.
But there were some people that were told ahead of the crisis and were able to get their money out in time.
According to the BBC, foreigners pulled a whopping 18 percent of their money out of Cyprus banks during the month of February alone…
Information from the Central Bank of Cyprus released on Thursday showed that foreign depositors had already withdrawn 18% of their cash from the nation’s banks during February, before the current crisis hit home.
So how did they know to pull their money out and who told them?
In addition, branches of the two largest banks in Cyprus were kept open in Moscow and London even after all of the banks in Cyprus itself were shut down. So wealthy Russians and wealthy Brits have been able to take all of their money out of those banks while the people of Cyprus have been unable to. It is hard to even find the words to describe how unfair that is. The following is from a recent article by Mark J. Grant…
So let us then turn back to Cyprus and see why the Russians are not quite so upset as they were at the beginning of the crisis. The answer to this question is Uniastrum bank which is headquartered in Moscow. Eighty percent (80%) is owned by the Bank of Cyprus. After the crisis began and right up until the capital controls were implemented the bank was open for business with no restrictions upon withdrawals. So the crisis began, was all over the Press and the Russian depositors walked into the local bank and withdrew their money from Uniastrum, the Bank of Cyprus, or had it wired in from the other local Cyprus banks and it was then withdrawn. Problem solved!
At the same time Laiki bank and the Bank of Cyprus had operating branches in London. There were no restrictions there either so people could walk into those banks and withdraw their money as well. No restrictions at all right up until the time of the Capital Controls. In the meantime, in Cyprus, people and institutions could not get at their money so the Russians and many British took out their money, closed their accounts while the people in Cyprus were left high and dry.
The wealthy always seem to come out ahead somehow, don’t they?
Meanwhile, those in Cyprus with deposits under 100,000 euros are now dealing with some very stringent capital controls. In other words, there are some very tight restrictions on what they can do with their money. For example, the maximum daily cash withdrawal has been set at 300 euros. The following are some of the other restrictions that are in force right now…
As well as the daily withdrawal limit, Cypriots may not cash cheques.
Payments and/or transfers outside Cyprus via debit and or credit cards are allowed up to 5,000 euros per person per month.
Transactions of 5,000-200,000 euros will be reviewed by a specially established committee, with applications for those over 200,000 euros needing individual approval.
Travellers leaving the country will only be allowed to take 1,000 euros with them.
When the next great wave of the economic collapse strikes, capital controls and bank account confiscation will suddenly become “normal” all over the world.
One thing that you can do is make sure that you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket. The following is what Jim Rogers recently told CNBC…
“I, for one, am making sure I don’t have too much money in any one specific bank account anywhere in the world, because now there is a precedent,” he said. “The IMF has said ‘sure, loot the bank accounts’ the EU has said ‘loot the bank accounts’ so you can be sure that other countries when problems come, are going to say, ‘well, it’s condoned by the EU, it’s condoned by the IMF, so let’s do it too.'”
The more places that you have your money, the more difficult it will be for “the powers that be” to loot it.
The global elite are fundamentally changing the game. From now on, no bank account on earth will ever be able to be considered “100% safe” again. This is going to create an atmosphere of fear and panic, and no financial system can operate normally when you destroy the confidence that people have in it.
Confidence is a funny thing – it can take decades to build, but it can be destroyed in a single moment.
None of us will ever be able to have confidence in our bank accounts again, and I fear that the next wave of the economic collapse may be closer than I had first anticipated.
Don’t be surprised when the global elite confiscate money from your bank account one day. They are already very clearly telling you that they are going to do it. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is the president of the Eurogroup – an organization of eurozone finance ministers that was instrumental in putting together the Cyprus “deal” – and he has said publicly that what has just happened in Cyprus will serve as a blueprint for future bank bailouts. What that means is that when the chips are down, they are going to come after YOUR money. So why should anyone put a large amount of money in the bank at this point? Perhaps you can make one or two percent on your money if you shop around for a really good deal, but there is also a chance that 40 percent (or more) of your money will be confiscated if the bank fails. And considering the fact that there are vast numbers of banks all over the United States and Europe that are teetering on the verge of insolvency, why would anyone want to take such a risk? What the global elite have done is that they have messed around with the fundamental trust that people have in the banking system. In order for any financial system to work, people must have faith in the safety and security of that financial system. People put their money in the bank because they think that it will be safe there. If you take away that feeling of safety, you jeopardize the entire system.
So exactly how did the big banks in Cyprus get into so much trouble? Well, they have been doing exactly what hundreds of other large banks all over the U.S. and Europe have been doing. They have been gambling with our money. In particular, the big banks in Cyprus made huge bets on Greek sovereign debt which ended up failing.
But what happened in Cyprus is just the tip of the iceberg. All over the planet major financial institutions are being incredibly reckless with client money. They are leveraged to the hilt and they have transformed the global financial system into a gigantic casino.
If they win on their bets, they become fabulously wealthy.
If they lose on their bets, they know that the politicians won’t let the banks fail. They know that they will get bailed out one way or another.
And who pays?
Either our tax dollars are used to fund a government-sponsored bailout, or as we have just witnessed in Cyprus, money is directly confiscated from our bank accounts.
And then the game begins again.
People need to understand that the precedent that has just been set in Cyprus is a game changer.
The next time that a major bank fails in Greece or Italy or Spain (or in the United States for that matter), the precedent that has been set in Cyprus will be looked to as a “template” for how to handle the situation.
Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem has even publicly admitted that what just happened in Cyprus will serve as a model for future bank bailouts. Just check out what he said a few days ago…
“If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be ‘Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?’. If the bank can’t do it, then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we’ll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders”
“It will force all financial institutions, as well as investors, to think about the risks they are taking on because they will now have to realise that it may also hurt them. The risks might come towards them.”
Well, as depositors in Cyprus just found out, there is a risk that you could lose 40 percent (and that is the best case scenario) of your money if you put it in the bank.
Why would anyone want to take that risk – especially in a nation that is already experiencing very serious financial troubles such as Greece, Italy or Spain?
As if that was not enough, Dijsselbloem later went in front of the Dutch parliament and publicly defended a wealth tax like the one that was just imposed in Cyprus.
Dijsselbloem is being widely criticized, and rightfully so. But at least he is being more honest that many other politicians. His predecessor as the head of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, once said that “you have to lie” to the people in order to keep the financial markets calm…
Mr. Dijsselbloem’s style contrasts with that of his predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s prime minister, who spoke in a low mumble at news conferences and was expert at sidestepping questions. Mr. Juncker once even advocated lying as a way to prevent financial markets from panicking—as they did Monday after Mr. Dijsselbloem’s comments.
“When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” Mr. Juncker said in April 2011. “If you have pre-indicated possible decisions, you are feeding speculation in the financial markets.”
But Dijsselbloem is certainly not the only one among the global elite that is admitting what is coming next. Just check out what Joerg Kraemer, the chief economist at Commerzbank, recently told Handelsblatt about what he believes should be done in Italy…
“A tax rate of 15 percent on financial assets would probably be enough to push the Italian government debt to below the critical level of 100 percent of gross domestic product”
And as I wrote about the other day, the Finance Minister of New Zealand is proposing that bank account holders in his nation should be required to “take a haircut” if any banks in his nation fail.
They are telling us what they plan to do.
They are telling us that they plan to raid all of our bank accounts when the global financial system fails.
And calling it a “haircut” does not change the fact of what it really is. The truth is that when they confiscate money from our bank accounts it is outright theft. Just check out what the Daily Mail had to say about the situation in Cyprus…
People who rob old ladies in the street, or hold up security vans, are branded as thieves. Yet when Germany presides over a heist of billions of pounds from private savers’ Cyprus bank accounts, to ‘save the euro’ for the hundredth time, this is claimed as high statesmanship.
It is nothing of the sort. The deal to secure a €10 billion German bailout of the bankrupt Mediterranean island is one of the nastiest and most immoral political acts of modern times.
It has struck fear into the hearts of hundreds of millions of European citizens, because it establishes a dire precedent.
And when you cause paralysis in the banking system, a once thriving economy can freeze up almost overnight. The following is an excerpt from a report from someone that is actually living over in Cyprus…
As it stands now, nowhere in Cyprus accepts credit or debit cards anymore for fear of not being paid, it is CASH ONLY. Businesses have stopped functioning because they cannot pay employees OR pay for the stock they receive because the banks are closed. If the banks remain closed, the economy will be destroyed and STOP COMPLETELY. Looting, robberies and theft are already on the rise. If the banks open now, there will be a massive run on the bank, and the banks will FAIL loosing all of its deposits, also causing an economic crash. TONIGHT there are demonstrations at most street corners and especially at the parliament building (just 2 miles from me).
Many are thinking that the ECB and EU are allowing Cyprus to fail as a test ground for new financial standards.
Just wanted all you guys to know the real story of whats going on here. Prayers are appreciated (although this is very interesting to watch) many of my local friends have lots of money in the banks.
Would similar things happen in the United States if there was a major banking crisis someday?
“The central government’s interest bill surged 15 percent last year to 26 billion euros, while tax receipts slumped 21 percent. The cost of servicing debt represented 30 percent of the taxes collected at the end of December, up from 20 percent a year earlier.”
-The euro took quite a tumble on Thursday and the euro will likely continue to decline steadily in the weeks and months to come.
For a very long time I have been warning that the next major wave of the economic collapse is going to originate in Europe.
Hopefully people are starting to see what I am talking about.
As this point, the major banks in Europe are leveraged about 26 to 1, and that is close to the kind of leverage that Lehman Brothers had when it finally collapsed. As a whole, European banks are drowning in debt, they are taking risks that are almost incomprehensible and now faith in those banks has been greatly undermined by what has happened in Cyprus.
Anyone that cannot see a crisis coming in Europe simply does not understand the financial world. A moment of reckoning is rapidly approaching for Europe. The following is from a recent article by Graham Summers…
At the end of the day, the reason Europe hasn’t been fixed is because CAPITAL SIMPLY ISN’T THERE. Europe and its alleged backstops are out of money. This includes Germany, the ECB and the mega-bailout funds such as the ESM.
Germany has already committed to bailouts that equal 5% of its GDP. The single largest transfer payment ever made by one country to another was the Marshall Plan in which the US transferred an amount equal to 5% of its GDP. Germany WILL NOT exceed this. So don’t count on more money from Germany.
The ECB is chock full of garbage debts which have been pledged as collateral for loans. If anyone of significance defaults in Europe, the ECB is insolvent. Sure it can print more money, but once the BIG collateral call hits, money printing is useless because the amount of money the ECB would have to print would implode the system.
And then of course there are the mega bailout funds such as the ESM. The only problem here is that Spain and Italy make up 30% of the ESM’s supposed “funding.” That’s right, nearly one third of the mega-bailout fund’s capital will come from countries that are bankrupt themselves.
What could go wrong?
Right now, close to half of all money that is on deposit at banks in Europe is uninsured. As people move that uninsured money out of the banks, the amount of money that will be required to “fix the banks” will go up even higher.
It would be wise to try to avoid the big banks at this point – especially those with very large exposure to derivatives. Any financial institution that uses customer money to make reckless bets is not to be trusted.
If you can find a small local bank or credit union to do business with you will probably be better off.
And don’t think that this kind of thing can never happen in the United States.
One of the key players that was pushing the idea of a “wealth tax” in Cyprus was the IMF. And everyone knows that the IMF is heavily dominated by the United States. In fact, the headquarters of the IMF is located right in the heart of Washington D.C. not too far from the White House. When I worked in D.C. I would walk by the IMF headquarters quite a bit.
So if the United States thought that confiscating money from bank accounts was a great idea in Cyprus, why wouldn’t they implement such a thing here under similar circumstances?
The global elite are telling us what they plan to do, and the game has dramatically changed.
Move your money while you still can.
Unfortunately, it is already too late for the people of Cyprus.
Why is the global economy in so much trouble? How can so many people be so absolutely certain that the world financial system is going to crash? Well, the truth is that when you take a look at the cold, hard numbers it is not difficult to see why the global financial pyramid scheme is destined to fail. In the United States today, there is approximately 56 trillion dollars of total debt in our financial system, but there is only about 9 trillion dollars in our bank accounts. So you could take every single penny out of the banks, multiply it by six, and you still would not have enough money to pay off all of our debts. Overall, there is about 190 trillion dollars of total debt on the planet. But global GDP is only about 70 trillion dollars. And the total notional value of all derivatives around the globe is somewhere between 600 trillion and 1500 trillion dollars. So we have a gigantic problem on our hands. The global financial system is a very shaky house of cards that has been constructed on a foundation of debt, leverage and incredibly risky derivatives. We are living in the greatest financial bubble in world history, and it isn’t going to take much to topple the entire thing. And when it falls, it is going to be the largest financial disaster in the history of the planet.
The global financial system is more interconnected today than ever before, and a crisis at one major bank or in one area of the world can spread at lightning speed. As I wrote about yesterday, the entire European banking system is leveraged 26 to 1 at this point. A decline in asset values of just 4 percent would totally wipe out the equity of many of those banks, and once a financial panic begins we could potentially see major financial institutions start to go down like dominoes.
We got a small taste of what that is like back in 2008, and it is inevitable that it will happen again.
Anyone that would tell you that the current global financial system is sustainable does not know what they are talking about. Just look at the numbers that I have posted below.
The following is the global financial pyramid scheme by the numbers…
–$9,283,000,000,000 – The total amount of all bank deposits in the United States. The FDIC has just 25 billion dollars in the deposit insurance fund that is supposed to “guarantee” those deposits. In other words, the ratio of total bank deposits to insurance fund money is more than 371 to 1.
–$10,012,800,000,000 – The total amount of mortgage debt in the United States. As you can see, you could take every penny out of every bank account in America and it still would not cover it.
–$10,409,500,000,000 – The M2 money supply in the United States. This is probably the most commonly used measure of the total amount of money in the U.S. economy.
–$15,094,000,000,000 – U.S. GDP. It is a measure of all economic activity in the United States for a single year.
–$16,749,269,587,407.53 – The size of the U.S. national debt. It has grown by more than 10 trillion dollars over the past ten years.
–$32,000,000,000,000 – The total amount of money that the global elite have stashed in offshore banks (that we know about).
–$190,000,000,000,000 – The approximate size of the total amount of debt in the entire world. It has nearly doubled in size over the past decade.
–$212,525,587,000,000 – According to the U.S. government, this is the notional value of the derivatives that are being held by the top 25 banks in the United States. But those banks only have total assets of about 8.9 trillion dollars combined. In other words, the exposure of our largest banks to derivatives outweighs their total assets by a ratio of about 24 to 1.
–$600,000,000,000,000 to $1,500,000,000,000,000 – The estimates of the total notional value of all global derivatives generally fall within this range. At the high end of the range, the ratio of derivatives to global GDP is more than 21 to 1.
Are you starting to get the picture?
Every single day, the total amount of debt will continue to grow faster than the total amount of money until the day that this bubble bursts.
What we witnessed back in 2008 was just a little “hiccup” in the system. It caused the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but global financial authorities were able to get things stabilized.
Next time it won’t be so easy.
The next wave of the economic collapse is quickly approaching. A full-blown economic depression has already started in southern Europe. Unemployment is at record highs and economic activity is contracting rapidly.
The major offshore banking centers in Cyprus are on the verge of collapsing. It was just announced that they will now be closed until Tuesday, but nobody really knows for sure when they will be allowed to reopen. And there is already talk that when they do reopen that there will be strict limits on how much money people can take out.
And now the IMF is warning that the three biggest banks in Slovenia are failing and that a billion euros will be needed to bail them out.
The dominoes are starting to tumble, and the United States won’t be immune. In fact, the greatest financial problems that the United States has ever seen are on the horizon.
But you can just have faith that Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress know exactly what they are doing and will be able to save us from the coming financial collapse if you want.
The mainstream media will provide you with all of the positive economic news that you could possibly want. They are giddy about the fact that the Dow keeps hitting all-time highs and they would have us all believe that we are in the midst of a robust economic recovery. You can listen to them if you want to.
But when you are tempted to believe that everything is going to be “okay” somehow, just go back and look at the numbers there were posted above one more time.
There is no way that the global financial pyramid scheme is going to be able to hold up for too much longer. At some point it is going to totally collapse. When that happens, will you be ready?
Cyprus is a beta test. The banksters are trying to commit bank robbery in broad daylight, and they are eager to see if the rest of the world will let them get away with it. Cyprus was probably chosen because it is very small (therefore nobody will care too much about it) and because there is a lot of foreign (i.e. Russian) money parked there. The IMF and the EU could have easily bailed out Cyprus without any trouble whatsoever, but they purposely decided not to do that. Instead, they decided that this would be a great time to test the idea of a “wealth tax”. The government of Cyprus was given two options by the IMF and the EU – either they could confiscate money from private bank accounts or they could leave the eurozone. Apparently this was presented as a “take it or leave it” proposition, and many are using the world “blackmail” to describe what has happened. Sadly, this decision is going to set a very ominous precedent for the future and it is going to have ripple effects far beyond Cyprus. After the banksters steal money from bank accounts in Cyprus they will start doing it everywhere. If this “bank robbery” goes well, it will only be a matter of time before depositors in nations such as Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are asked to take “haircuts” as well. And what will happen one day when the U.S. financial system collapses? Will U.S. bank accounts also be hit with a “one time” wealth tax? That is very frightening to think about.
Cyprus is a very small nation, so it is not the amount of money involved that is such a big deal. Rather, the reason why this is all so troubling is that this “wealth tax” is shattering confidence in the European banking system. Never before have the banksters come directly after bank accounts.
If everything goes according to plan, every bank account in Cyprus will be hit with a “one time fee” this week. Accounts with less than 100,000 euros will be hit with a 6.75% tax, and accounts with more than 100,000 euros will be hit with a 9.9% tax.
How would you feel if something like this happened where you live?
How would you feel if the banksters suddenly demanded that you hand over 10 percent of all the money that you had in the bank?
And why would anyone want to still put money into the bank in nations such as Greece, Italy, Spain or Portugal after all of this?
The bank runs that we witnessed in Cyprus over the weekend may just be a preview of what is coming. When this “wealth tax” was announced, it triggered a run on the ATMs and many of them ran out of cash very rapidly. A bank holiday was declared for Monday, and all electronic transfers of money were banned.
Needless to say, the people of Cyprus were not too pleased about all of this. In fact, one very angry man actually parked his bulldozer outside of one bank branch and threatened to physically bulldoze his way inside.
But this robbery by the banksters has not been completed yet. First, the Cypriot Parliament must approve the new law authorizing this wealth confiscation on Monday. If it is approved, then the actually wealth confiscation will take place on Tuesday morning.
According to Reuters, the new president of Cyprus is warning that if the bank account tax is not approved the two largest banks in Cyprus will collapse and there will be complete and total financial chaos in his country…
President Nicos Anastasiades, elected three weeks ago with a pledge to negotiate a swift bailout, said refusal to agree to terms would have led to the collapse of the two largest banks.
“On Tuesday … We would either choose the catastrophic scenario of disorderly bankruptcy or the scenario of a painful but controlled management of the crisis,” Anastasiades said in written statement.
In several statements since his election, he had previously categorically ruled out a deposit haircut.
The fact that the new president had previously ruled out any kind of a wealth tax has a lot of people very, very upset. They feel like they were flat out lied to…
“I’m furious,” said Chris Drake, a former Middle East correspondent for the BBC who lives in Cyprus. “There were plenty of opportunities to take our money out; we didn’t because we were promised it was a red line which would not be crossed.”
But apparently the wealth confiscation could actually have been far worse. According to one report, the IMF and the EU were originally demanding a 40% wealth tax on bank account holders in Cyprus…
As the President of Cyprus proclaims to his people that “we’ should all take responsibility as his historic decision will “lead to the permanent rescue of the economy,” it appears that the settled-upon 9.9% haircut is a ‘good deal’ compared to the stunning 40% of total deposits that Germany’s FinMin Schaeuble and the IMF demanded.
Could you imagine?
How would you feel if you woke up someday and 40% of all your money had been taken out of your bank accounts?
At this point, there is still some doubt about whether this plan will actually be adopted or not.
Right now the new president of Cyprus does not have the votes that he needs, but you can be sure that there is some high level arm twisting going on.
Originally the vote was supposed to happen on Sunday, but it was delayed until Monday to allow for some extra “persuading” to be done.
And of course the people of Cyprus are overwhelmingly against this wealth tax. In fact, one poll found that 71 percent of the entire population of Cyprus wants this plan to be voted down.
The funny thing is that Cyprus is not even in that bad of shape.
The unemployment rate is around 12 percent, but in other European nations such as Greece and Spain the unemployment rate is more than double that.
Cyprus has a debt to GDP ratio of about 87 percent, but the United States has a debt to GDP ratio of well over 100 percent.
So if they will go directly after bank accounts in Cyprus, what will stop them from going after bank accounts in larger nations when the time comes?
In the final analysis, this is a game changer. No longer will any bank account in the western world be considered to be 100 percent safe.
Trust is a funny thing. It takes a long time to build, but it can be destroyed in a single moment.
Trust in European banks has now been severely damaged, and that damage is not going to be undone any time soon.
A recent blog post by the CEO of Saxo Bank, Lars Christensen, did a great job of explaining how incredibly damaging this move by the IMF and the EU truly is…
This is a breach of fundamental property rights, dictated to a small country by foreign powers and it must make every bank depositor in Europe shiver. Although the representatives at the bailout press conference tried to present this as a one-off, they were not willing to rule out similar measures elsewhere – not that it would have mattered much as the trust is gone anyway. It is now difficult to expect any kind of limitation to what measures the Troika and EU might take when the crisis really starts to bite.
if you can do this once, you can do it again. if you can confiscate 10 percent of a bank customer’s money, you can confiscate 25, 50 or even 100 percent. I now believe we will see worse as the panic increases, with politicians desperately trying to keep the EUR alive.
Depositors in other prospective bailout countries must be running scared – is it safe to keep money in an Italian, Spanish or Greek bank any more? I dont know, must be the answer. Is it prudent to take the risk? You decide. I fear this will lead to massive capital outflows from weak Eurozone countries, just about the last thing they need right now.
This is the biggest moment that we have witnessed since the beginning of the European financial crisis.
Financial authorities in Europe could try to calm nerves by at least pretending that this will never happen again in any other country, but so far they are refusing to do that…
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the group of euro-area ministers, on Saturday declined to rule out taxes on depositors in countries beyond Cyprus, although he said such a measure was not currently being considered.
Such a measure is “not currently being considered” for other members of the eurozone?
Yeah, that sure is going to make people feel a lot more confident in what is coming next.
I have insisted over and over that the next wave of the economic collapse would originate in Europe, and we may have just witnessed the decision that will cause the dominoes to start to fall.
The banksters have sent a very clear message. When the chips are down, they are going to come after YOUR money.
So what do you think about the bank robbery that is taking place in Cyprus? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
The bank runs that we are watching right now in Greece are shocking, but they are only just the beginning. Since May 6th, nearly one billion dollars has been withdrawn from Greek banks. For a small nation like Greece, that is an absolutely catastrophic number. At this point, the entire Greek banking system is in danger of collapsing. If you had money in a Greek bank, why wouldn’t you pull it out? If Greece leaves the euro, all euros in Greek banks will likely be converted to drachmas, and the value of those drachmas will almost certainly decline dramatically. In fact, it has been estimated that Greek citizens could see the value of their bank accounts decline by up to 50 percent if Greece leaves the euro. So if you had money in a Greek bank, it would only make sense to withdraw it and move it to another country as quickly as possible. And as the eurozone begins to unravel, this is a scenario that we are going to see play out in country after country. As member nations leave the eurozone, you would be a fool to have your euros in Italian banks or Spanish banks when you could have them in German banks instead. So the bank runs that are happening in Greece right now are only a preview of things to come. Before this crisis is over we are going to see bank runs happening all over Europe.
If Greece leaves the euro, the consequences are likely to be quite messy. Those that are promoting the idea that a “Grexit” can be done in an orderly fashion are not being particularly honest. The following is from a recent article in the Independent….
“Whoever tells you a Greek exit would be no big deal is an idiot, lying or disingenuous,” said Sony Kapoor of the European think-tank Re-Define. Economists fear that a disorderly exit would prompt a huge run by investors on Spanish and Italian debt, forcing those countries to seek support from an EU bailout fund, which, with a capacity of just €500bn, is widely regarded as too small to cope with those pressures.
A Greek exit from the euro would not only result in a run on Spanish and Italian bonds, but it would also likely result in a run on Spanish and Italian banks.
If Greece is allowed to leave the euro, that will be a signal that other countries will eventually be allowed to leave as well. Nobody in their right mind would want their euros stuck in Spanish or Italian banks if those countries end up converting back to national currencies.
Fear is a powerful motivator. If Greece converts their euros back to drachmas, that will be a clear signal that all euros are not created equally. The race to move money into German banks will accelerate dramatically.
And a Greek exit from the euro is looking more likely with each passing day. Even the IMF is now admitting that it is a very real possibility….
Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, warned she was “technically prepared for anything” and said the utmost effort must be made to ensure any Greek exit was orderly. The effect was likely to be “quite messy” with risks to growth, trade and financial markets. “It is something that would be extremely expensive and would pose great risks but it is part of options that we must technically consider,” she said.
Meanwhile, banks in other troubled European nations are already on shaky ground. The Spanish banking system is an absolute disaster zone at this point and on Monday night Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of 26 Italian banks.
The situation in Italy is especially worth keeping a close eye on. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard recently noted, things are not looking good for Italy at all….
Italy’s former premier Romano Prodi said the EU risks instant contagion to Spain, Italy, and France if Greece leaves. “The whole house of cards will come down”, he said
Angelo Drusiani from Banca Albertini said the only way to avert catstrophe is to convert the European Central Bank into a lender of last resort. Otherwise Italy faces “massive devaluation, three to five years of hyperinflation, and unbearable unemployment.”
So what can be done about any of this?
Well, there is actually a lot that could be done if politicians in Europe were willing to think outside of the established global financial paradigm.
The truth is that Greece could solve their current financial problems in four easy steps. They would have to be willing to stick it to the rest of Europe and to risk being blackballed by the international community, but it could be done.
The following is my prescription for Greece….
1) Default on all debts.
2) Leave the euro.
3) Issue drachmas that are debt-free and that do not come from a central bank. Instead, have the Greek government create them and spend them directly into circulation.
4) Enjoy a return to prosperity.
In such a scenario, the Greek national debt would no longer be a problem, the Greek government would never have to borrow any more money and austerity would no longer be needed.
Yes, inflation would be an issue with the new currency, but a bit of inflation would be a walk in the park compared to the horrible economic depression that Greece is experiencing right now.
And once the Greek economy was growing again, it would certainly be possible for them to make the transition to “hard money” if they wanted to.
It is imperative that we all understand that just because the global financial system works a certain way today does not mean that it must always work that way.
If you have a few minutes, I want you to watch an incredible speech by a 12-year-old Canadian girl named Victoria Grant. In this 6 minute speech, she details how the bankers are defrauding the people of Canada and how the Canadian government does not actually need to borrow a single penny from the bankers….
If a 12-year-old girl can figure this out, then why can’t the rest of us?
Right now, America is going down the same path as Greece, Spain and Italy have gone. Eventually we will hit a wall and our financial system will fall apart.
We need the American people to understand that the Federal Reserve system is a perpetual debt machine. The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Fed was first created. It is at the very core of our national financial problems.
When will people wake up and realize that central banking is the problem and not the solution?
When will people wake up and realize that national governments do not have to go into debt to anyone if they do not want to?
In our world today, there is far more debt than there is money.
It is a system that will inevitably crash.
But there are other alternatives.
Unfortunately, politicians all over the globe continue to want to be married to our current debt-based financial system.
As a result, we will suffer the consequences of that system.
In recent days, the fact that Mitt Romney has millions of dollars parked down in the Cayman Islands has made headlines all over the world. But when it comes to offshore banking, what Mitt Romney is doing is small potatoes. The truth is that the global elite are hiding an almost unbelievable amount of money in offshore banks. According to shocking research done by the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banks. And that figure does not even count any money being held in Switzerland. That is a staggering amount of money. Keep in mind that U.S. GDP in 2010 was only 14.58 trillion dollars. So why do the global elite go to such trouble to hide their money in offshore banks? Well, there are two main reasons. One is privacy and the other is low taxation. Privacy is a big issue for those that are involved in illegal enterprises such as drug running, but the biggest reason why people move money into offshore banks is in order to avoid taxes. Some set up bank accounts in foreign nations because they want to legally minimize their taxes and others set up bank accounts in foreign nations because they want to illegally avoid taxes. You would be absolutely amazed at what some large corporations and wealthy individuals do to get out of paying taxes. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the rest of us don’t have the resources or the knowledge to play these games, so we get taxed into oblivion.
So why do they call it “offshore banking”?
Well, the term originally developed because the banks on the Channel Islands were “offshore” from the United Kingdom. Most “offshore banks” are still located on islands today. The Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Isle of Man are examples of this. Other “offshore banking centers” such as Monaco are actually not “offshore” at all, but the term applies to them anyway.
Traditionally, these offshore banking centers have been very attractive to both criminals and to the global elite because they would not tell anyone (including governments) about the money that anyone had parked there.
These days some governments (particularly the U.S. government) are trying to change this, but we certainly will not see the end of offshore banking any time soon.
The amount of money that goes through these offshore banks is absolutely astounding.
It has been estimated that 80 percent of all international banking transactions take place through these offshore banks. $1.4 trillion is being held in offshore banks in the Cayman Islands alone.
One article in the Guardian estimated that a third of all the wealth on the entire globe is being held in offshore banks, and others believe that as much as half of all the capital in the world flows through offshore banks at some point.
Obviously, all of this tax avoidance means that governments around the world are missing out on a whole lot of money.
It has been estimated that the U.S. government is missing out on $100 billion a year because of these offshore banks. Others would put that figure significantly higher.
Avoiding taxes is a game that the global elite have mastered. They are playing a whole different ballgame than you and I are. They don’t just sit there like idiots and get blasted with taxes. Instead, they hire the best experts and they employ every trick in the book to hold on to as much money as they possibly can.
These days, taking advantage of offshore tax havens is not that complicated to do. The following is from a recent Politico article….
A plausible scenario plays out like this: I hire an accountant. Doing her job, my accountant tells me that if I sign a few legal documents and route my money through a small Caribbean island, I could keep more of my paycheck and pay a lower tax rate. I may have earned my money in the United States, but legally I can claim that it was, in fact, earned in a tax haven.
If it is legal, perhaps more of us should look into this.
After all, if playing these kinds of games is good enough for Mitt Romney, then why isn’t it good enough for all the rest of us?
During a campaign stop recently, Romney said the following….
“I can tell you we follow the tax laws”
I certainly believe him when he says that. But it is what he said next that is troubling….
“And if there’s an opportunity to save taxes, we like anybody else in this country will follow that opportunity.”
I certainly believe him when he says that too.
ABC News recently revealed that Bain Capital has established an astounding 138 different offshore funds in the Cayman Islands.
Something has got to work pretty well to want to do it 138 times.
But Bain Capital was also very busy over in other offshore banking centers as well.
One of the largest shell companies that Bain set up down in the Caribbean was called Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. It did not have an office in Bermuda and it had no staff in Bermuda. But it helped clients of Bain Capital avoid a whole lot of taxes.
In Bermuda, Romney served as president and sole shareholder for four years of Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. It funneled money into Bain Capital’s Sankaty family of hedge funds, which invest in bonds and other debt issued by corporations, as well as bank loans.
Like thousands of similar financial entities, Sankaty maintains no office or staff in Bermuda. Its only presence consists of a nameplate at a lawyer’s office in downtown Hamilton, capital of the British island territory.
“It’s just a mail drop, essentially,” said Marc B. Wolpow, who worked with Romney for nine years at Bain Capital and who set up Sankaty Ltd. in October 1997 without ever visiting Bermuda. “There’s no one doing any work down there other than lawyers.”
The amount of money being funneled through Sankaty today is absolutely stunning….
Today, Bain Capital manages $60 billion in assets, according to a spokesman. The total includes $23 billion in Sankaty debt and credit funds. Half a dozen Sankaty affiliates now are active in Bermuda, corporate registry records show.
The Sankaty debt hedge funds are organized as partnerships in Delaware that produce taxable business income by investing in fixed-income bonds and other debt instruments. Under tax law, even tax-exempt U.S. institutions may face a 35% tax if they invest directly in such hedge funds. By investing instead through a Bermuda corporation, the taxes are legally blocked, experts say.
Of course all of this is perfectly legal.
So nobody gets into trouble for any of this.
By keeping money offshore, even those managing these kinds of funds can avoid being taxed.
“The idea behind some of the Cayman Island strategies was that the income that the fund managers receive for managing the money would be kept offshore in the Cayman Island — and the chief benefit is that you can defer when you recognize that income until a later date and you can reinvest the money from the Cayman islands and none of those reinvested funds get taxed until you bring them back either”
So was Romney doing this?
We may never know unless he shows us his tax returns.
What we do know is that Romney has millions of dollars of his own personal wealth invested in offshore tax havens.
In addition to paying the lower tax rate on his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans.
But Romney does not just have money invested down in the Cayman Islands. Apparently his money is invested in a whole host of offshore tax havens.
Bain funds in which Romney is invested are scattered from Delaware to the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, Ireland and Hong Kong, according to a Reuters analysis of securities filings.
So is there anything wrong with this?
Well, it depends on how you define “wrong”.
What Romney is doing is perfectly legal.
But it also stinks. Washington lawyer Jack Blum recently told ABC News the following about Romney’s finances….
“His personal finances are a poster child of what’s wrong with the American tax system”
So now we may have a few hints as to why Romney may not want to release his old tax returns.
But as noted above, what Romney is doing is just small potatoes compared to what the ultra-wealthy do.
The U.S. Congress has been trying to clamp down on offshore banking, but the ultra-wealthy are always two or three steps ahead of them.
The ultra-wealthy will go to just about any extreme in order to avoid paying taxes.
In fact, the Washington Post has reported that an increasing number of wealthy individuals are actually deciding to renounce their citizenship rather than face the wrath of the IRS.
The ultra-wealthy aren’t really concerned that much with national citizenship anyway. If they want to influence an election, they can have far more influence by donating a few million bucks to a “Super PAC” than they can by casting the few votes that they have.
In a previous article, I described how the ultra-wealthy use offshore banks as a “shadow banking system” that plays by rules that most people don’t even know exist….
It is a shadow banking system that most Americans don’t know anything about. Most Americans don’t have the resources to be able to set up shell companies in half a dozen different countries so that they can “filter” their profits. Most Americans don’t know a thing about complicated tax avoidance plans that tax lawyers use such as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich”. Most Americans would have no idea how to eventually have most of the money that they make end up in Bermuda so that it can avoid taxes.
Most among the global elite simply do not care that U.S. debt is climbing into the stratosphere. All they care about is keeping as much of their own money in their pockets as they possibly can.
Of course there are always exceptions to this rule. Warren Buffett recently wrote a check to the U.S. Treasury for a little more than $49,000 to help pay off the national debt.
But considering the fact that the U.S. national debt is increasing by more than 100 million dollars an hour, that didn’t exactly do much to help.
Our system is deeply broken and the global elite are getting away with bloody murder. Over the decades, they have carefully crafted the rules so that as much wealth as possible is funneled into their pockets, and they have carefully crafted the rules so that as much wealth as possible stays in their pockets.
Of course if we got rid of the personal income tax and the corporate income tax entirely and replaced them with a completely new system we could get rid of all of this game playing once and for all.
But what do you think the odds are of that happening?