Deposit flight from Greece‘s ailing banking sector has been running north of €500 million per day this week as the threat of capital controls casts a pall over the Greek government’s efforts to reassure the public and head off a terminal bank run.
Sparking a panic has been the most powerful tool at the troika’s disposal to bring PM Alexis Tsipras to the negotiating table and force Syriza to either concede to pension cuts and a VAT hike or risk social and political upheaval in the face of dark ATMs and public protests – we said this first in February and finally even the Greek government realized just what game Europe is playing.
Until now, Greeks had taken the barrage of headlines in stride with a stoic fortitude that would impress Marcus Aurelius but now, it appears as though the ‘institutions’ might have finally broken their spirits.
Earlier today, the ECB agreed to lift the ELA cap by just €1.8 billion, far less than Greek banking officials had requested and probably just barely enough to cover Friday’s withdrawals. And so, as Europe’s “Lehman Weekend” may finally be kicking off, the ATM lines are officially forming as Greeks prepare to be ‘Cyprus’d’ and as the country stares into “template” oblivion.
— Elly Vintiadis (@EllyVintiadis) June 19, 2015
What is perhaps more shocking is that anyone still had money in Greek banks at all…
And in yet another sign that the next week may be the beginning of the end, Cyrpus is preparing for a bank “holiday” in Greece:
“We are preparing to facilitate our customers with operations in Greece with additional liquidity,” a Bank of Cyprus source with knowledge of the situation said on condition of anonymity. “This is something we don’t want to see happening”.
The source said that in recent days the bank saw an increase in deposits inflows, both from Cypriot and Greek depositors, amounting “hundreds of million euros”.
Reuters reported on Thursday that European Central Bank Executive Board member Benoit Coeure told euro area’s finance ministers that he was not sure whether Greek bank will be able to open on Monday.
The Bank of Cyprus source also said that the bank cannot be ruled out that a bank holiday in Greece could also affect the Cypriot banking system via the units of Greek banks operating on the island in the form of deposits outflows.
The source was not in position to name the amount in additional liquidity the bank will need in the case of a bank holiday in Greece nor the number of its customers that would be affected.
“In that case, a bank holiday in Greece could also prompt Cypriot authorities to also impose a bank holiday in Cyprus,” the Bank of Cyprus source said.
Finance minister Harris Georgiades who was talking on state radio CyBC today said that the units of Greek banks operating in Cyprus are not affected by what is happening in the cash-strapped country.
“There are in Cyprus banks of Greek ownership,” he said in reference to ?lpha Bank Cyprus Ltd, Eurobank Cyprus Ltd, National Bank of Greece (Cyprus) Ltd and Piraeus Bank (Cyprus) Ltd.
“I want to clarify that they are Cypriot banks with a Cypriot licence, their own capital and capital adequacy, important liquidity with no exposure to Greece or to the Greek government or banks,” he said. “The fact that the shareholder is a Greek bank is not making any difference. What makes a difference in a positive way is the stability in and the confidence to Cyprus and its financial system which is internationally acknowledged”.
And the swissy is bid.
The only remaining question is whether today’s deposit bleed will be dramatic enough to force Brussels – or Athens for that matter under pressure by the local banks – into implementing capital controls over the weekend.