March - in the United States, at least - is traditionally known for the great sporting event of the year, the annual NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, otherwise known as March Madness, because of the wild nature of the proceedings, the drama, last-second, game-winning shots (Buzzer Beaters) and the twists and turns taken en route to crowing a national champion.
Over the weekend, unbeknownst to college basketball fans and most regular American citizens, a new manner of March madness was created by the European Central Bank, the IMF and the nation of Cyprus. The reason nobody in America knew about what has been occurring on and around the tiny Mediterranean island is the usual: the US press is terminally asleep at the media wheel.
Re-capping the key events in this twisted tableau, the entire mess began years ago, as banks (the usual culprits) in Cyprus found themselves woefully underfunded and the government virtually bankrupt. Leave it at that, as yet another European nation finds itself with an unbearable debt burden and no reasonable way out.
The EU and the ECB have been grappling with the Cyprus situation for at least the last two years, doing little to nothing about it, their energies directed more at larger peripheral nations like Greece (a complete disaster), Spain (gaining fast on Greece), Ireland (terminally indebted), Portugal and Italy. These PIIGS, as they are lovingly called, have social and financial issues that needed more immediate attention and have been given directives, bailouts, loans and assorted "fixes" from the EU and the IMF, facilitating debt repurchases, funding ongoing governmental operations and generally kicking the proverbial can further down the road to the eventual collapse of the Euro.
Finally getting around to Cyprus this weekend, the EU and IMF decided that they would bail out the nation's banks to the tune of 10 billion Euros, a pittance comparatively, though the number fell short of what is really needed, which is more in the range of 16 to 17 billion Euros. even with that amount, tiny Cyprus would still have a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 180%. Shameful.
The kicker was that the proposed six-to-seven billion euros was to be funded from bank deposits.
STOP. Read that again. Yes, the EU and IMF told the Cypriot parliament to vote on a measure that would impair (tax) bank deposits at anywhere from six to 9.99%, the lower figure reserved for bank deposits below 100,000 Euros, the higher one applied to holdings over that figure. These are deposits of PEOPLE, companies, married couples, retirees which the leaders and brian-trust of the ECB thought reasonable to raid, to tax, to steal.
Never mind that bank deposits in all of Europe are guaranteed by the ECB up to 100,000 Euros, the six percent "tax" would be taken directly from bank accounts should parliament approve the proposal.
This, in the parlance of sports and March Madness, is what's known as a game changer. According to this banker proposal, your money, which you saved and deposited in a bank you thought was safe - and insured - could just simply be taxed away by authorities of some supra-national organization upon approval of your own parliament. Forget the rule of law, Forget property rights. Forget everything you ever thought about civilization, money, government and society. If there's a chance that your bank or your nation may not be able to make payments on debt, YOU PAY.
Curiously, this whole affair began on Friday night, after all the banks were closed for the weekend, and preceding a bank holiday in Cyprus on Monday. Since that time, all manner of posing, posturing, name-calling, demonstrations and other assorted madness has taken place, by EU finance ministers, various heads of state, the Cypriot parliament, the people of Cyprus and others, including just about every talking head on the financial news networks.
Currently, the parliament - having delayed the vote twice already - has announced to the one million residents of Cyprus that banks would be closed until Thursday. The joke of the day on that note was "which Thursday?"
So, bottom line is that the situation is still fluid, there's plenty of time for EU idiots and IMF monsters to make more absurd statements and demands, but, until something gets resolved, banks are closed, ATMs are out of cash and Cyprus will gradually devolve into something... not sure exactly what.
For more information on what may be the story of the year, the best single source is, as usual, ZeroHedge.com, which has been running numerous articles since the story broke. For more information, try this Bing News link, the Washington Post story, another by CBS News and one from the Christian Science Monitor.
No other story mattered at all today, and it's likely that no other story will matter for the remainder of the week, because, if governments or pseudo-authorities like the ECB and IMF can force their will upon a sovereign government to the extent that it violates its own laws by confiscating, stealing, expropriating the funds of its own citizens, we have truly entered a new world order, one that is owned by bankers and their appointed lackeys in high government positions.
For the record, nearly all markets were down, globally, Asian markets taking the news most seriously and the worst affected, followed by European markets and then, the US, which downplayed the event after utures had tanked prior to the opening bell and actually found a way to briefly trade in positive territory (Dow and S&P) during the afternoon.
On the Dow, support was breached early in the session and again at the close. If you're looking for a bottomless pit, the Dow is now it, though Europe and all of its exchanges will race it to the bottom unless something changes radically over the coming few days. If people cannot trust the banks to hold their money, it's the beginning of the end for the decrepit, lawless global banking cartel we've all come to know and loathe.
Dow 14,452.06, -62.05 (0.43%)
NASDAQ 3,237.59, -11.48 (0.35%)
S&P 500 1,552.10, -8.60 (0.55%)
NYSE Composite 9,045.44, -71.24 (0.78%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,547,766,750
NYSE Volume 3,522,718,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2352-4125
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 271-34
WTI crude oil: