I’ve been vaguely following the stories of the EU’s latest problem child. It feels like a repeat of the Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain saga. Like watching a repeat of a bad soapie, only I think less easy to turn off. After marathon negotiations and an ever-increasing anxiety amongst the poor Cypriots (and funnily enough, a surprising amount of British expats) a bailout deal was eventually secured. The EU, still riding on the nebulous dream of unity, offered a package earlier this month which called for a one-time levy on all bank depositors in Cyprus. It might have been around the 6% mark, don’t take my word for it though. This, naturally, ignited fierce anger amongst the Cypriots. My first thought was “surely they can’t expect million Euro payouts and not have any T’s and C’s attached? Cyprus must take responsibility and play their part and not leave it to France and Germany to keep backing their failing system.”
Cue: climb off high horse.
This levy is perhaps not so bad for big businesses but what about the small savers? What about students like me or pensioners like my grandparents? I keep thinking of ‘Cyprus’, a faceless, nameless sploge in the Mediterranean but what about the individual people? Is it their fault that those appointed to manage the country’s financials have lost the plot? Is it right for a national crisis to become an individual responsibility?
It turns out that these draconian measures failed to win the vote in Cypriot parliament. The Russians who claimed they had political, economical and cultural ties to the country also made an offer. Most believe it’s just a sneaky way to get their hands on the gas tap but that bid also failed. Cyprus has been forced to turn back to its European partners and I’m not entirely sure what the outcome was but either way, it means that more than a quarter of the countries in the EU zone are effectively lying in the emergency ward. I wonder who’s next? If I was Italian I’d be moving my money … Pericoloso Italie!
It got me thinking about South Africa. Thanks to Trevor M’s brilliance and careful strategies we may have some of the most secure banks in the world, but with our president and his not-so-modest mansions all over the country and the cost of deploying South African troops to CAR (for what?) you never know when we might reach the tipping point. When might we start being taxed for government’s mismanagement? When will the ANC start reaching into our savings accounts? And who will be our lifeline?
That was your financial and economical low down for the day. Say thank-you and be glad you’re not a Cypriot.