THE BLOG

Cyprus - The Thin End of the Wedge?

19/03/2013 19:11 GMT | Updated 19/05/2013 10:12 BST

The reaction of the Cypriot people to their planned bank bailout has been exemplary so far.

Democratic, non violent protest which lawmakers in Cyprus and across Europe have had no choice but to listen to.

And thank goodness they are - at last - listening to the voters.

It cannot be right that those who do the right thing and save are penalised.

It is spendthrift governments who have set the wrong message everywhere - not hard working savers.

But the other problem with the planned IMF/EU Cyprus deal is that it has sent hugely mixed messages to markets.

Just when markets thought they were able to predict policymakers actions - the planned Cyprus deal introduces yet another bailout variant.

If the same thing was tried in Italy, which has so far avoided a bailout, though as one of Europe's biggest economies, a similar levy on bank deposits would cause significant civil unrest and economic upheaval.

Portugal received a €78billion bailout on the condition that they cut their deficit to 3% of GDP by 2013, though they have since received an extension to 2015. But no mention to savers here.

Spain was the first to receive a bailout directly to their banking sector, using €39.5billion to pay off debts held by its four nationalised banks, which allowed them to keep the debt off their sovereign balance sheet, though many suspect this has only delayed that inevitability. Again - nothing attacking savers directly.

Ireland received €85billion, with €35billion allocated to support their banking system, €10billion for immediate recapitalisation and a further €25billion to be provided on a contingency basis. Their bailout rests on the requirement that they downsize their banking sector in line with the size of their economy, as well as achieving spending cuts of €15billion.

See a pattern emerging. No - neither do I.

As I write, an MoD plane carrying one million Euros is being airlifted to Cyprus for UK military personnel. It must be a new and very literal definition of 'helicopter money'.

And that's the problem. As long as policymakers continue to opt for radically different solutions in every case - then fear and loathing will never be far away from markets and now, once again, from savers.