europe-money2-300x207What exactly is going on in Cyprus?

Let’s start with my conclusions – it is all about the Germans, once again, showing extreme financial illiteracy and equally extreme heavy-handedness, as of this morning part of the Wikipedia definition of the German national character.

As part of an EU bailout of Cypriot banks, the Germans, hiding behind the rest of the EU, insisted bank depositors – not bond holders – take a 6.75% to 10% haircut on their deposits as part of an EU rescue package for Cypriot banks. That means Joe the plumber – not the guy from the McCain campaign, his brother – wakes up and his savings are worth 6.75% less, or if he is a really good plumber, 10% less than they were on Friday.

The announcement of this agreement, not yet approved by the Cypriot parliament, did the obvious – it sparked a bank run. Banks and ATMs ran out of cash and the banks are closed today and probably tomorrow. Way to go Angela and your surrogate, whatshisname Schauble, the German representative cramming this and other idiocies down the throats of various countries with warm, fond memories of the German conquest and occupation in World War II.

Oh yes, these memories matter – big time. They are behind a great deal of the resentment of the EU bailout packages in Greece – more casualties per capita than any country during World War II – and a lot other places as well.

Scenarios in Cyprus

Back to your money — what could happen?

  • The Cypriot parliament says “nyet” – an appropriate choice of words since one of the reasons Cypriot banks got in trouble was their acceptance of huge amounts of Russian cash that left – but the bad loans the banks made stayed behind. If they say nyet, theoretically the Cypriot banks collapse, perhaps the Cypriot national central bank and there is a run on banks in other Mediterranean countries.
  • The Cypriot Parliament says yes – in some form – and when the banks open there is some civil unrest and there is a bank run in other Mediterranean countries.
  • The EU backs down and changes the terms. Banks in Mediterranean countries are now seen as very safe and their stocks get a big boost, pushing European markets and probably the U.S. market higher.

Real clear, huh?

My point? The program will probably go through. Gotta keep the Germans happy; they have all the cash everyone needs from selling centrifuges to Iran and building Sadaam’s bunkers (no kidding, they did). Depositors are going to pull funds from their banks in Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain and put that money in banks in other euro-denominated countries. Not a good thing.

Your money? Don’t do anything for a couple of days unless you are looking for a day trade that, if it does not work this week, can still pan out. I would sell puts on the SLV, the ETF for silver, at the $27 strike and on the GLD, the ETF for gold, at $150. Pick your strike date – and remember there will be mini-options on the GLD beginning today; you can sell puts that represent only 10 shares, not 100. My subscribers did this during the last big European dust-up and when the timing is right, we could get up to 4% in a day or two or three – not by buying calls but selling puts. Think about it.



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