Tag Archives: Europe

The New European Bank Bail-in System Goes Into Effect January 1st, 2016

shutterstock_119571949

If you have a bank account anywhere in Europe, you need to read this article.  On January 1st, 2016, a new bail-in system will go into effect for all European banks.  This new system is based on the Cyprus bank bail-ins that we witnessed a few years ago.  If you will remember, money was grabbed from anyone that had more than 100,000 euros in their bank accounts in order to bail out the banks.  Now the exact same principles that were used in Cyprus are going to apply to all of Europe.  And with the entire global financial system teetering on the brink of chaos, that is not good news for those that have large amounts of money stashed in shaky European banks.

Below, I have shared part of an announcement about this new bail-in system that comes directly from the official website of the European Parliament.  I want you to notice that they explicitly say that “unsecured depositors would be affected last”.  What they really mean is that any time a bank in Europe fails, they are going to come after private bank accounts once the shareholders and bond holders have been wiped out.  So if you have more than 100,000 euros in a European bank right now, you are potentially on the hook when that bank goes under…

The directive establishes a bail-in system which will ensure that taxpayers will be last in the line to the pay the bills of a struggling bank. In a bail-in, creditors, according to a pre-defined hierarchy, forfeit some or all of their holdings to keep the bank alive. The bail-in system will apply from 1 January 2016.

The bail-in tool set out in the directive would require shareholders and bond holders to take the first big hits. Unsecured depositors (over €100,000) would be affected last, in many cases even after the bank-financed resolution fund and the national deposit guarantee fund in the country where it is located have stepped in to help stabilize the bank. Smaller depositors would in any case be explicitly excluded from any bail-in.

And as we have seen in the past, these rules can change overnight in the midst of a major crisis.

So they may be promising that those with under 100,000 euros will be safe right now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be true.

It is also important to note that there has been a really big hurry to get all of this in place by January 1.  In fact, at the end of October the European Commission actually sued six nations that had not yet passed legislation adopting the new bail-in rules…

The European Commission is taking legal action against member states including the Netherlands and Luxembourg, after they failed to implement rules protecting European taxpayers from funding billions in bank rescues.

Six countries will be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for their continued failure to transpose the EU’s “bail-in” laws into national legislation, the European Commission said on Thursday.

So why was the European Commission in such a rush?

Is there some particular reason why January 1 is so important?

This is something that I will be watching.

Meanwhile, there have been major changes in the U.S. as well.  The Federal Reserve recently adopted a new rule that limits what it can do to bail out the “too big to fail” banks.  The following comes from CNN

The Federal Reserve is cutting its lifeline to big banks in financial trouble.

The Fed officially adopted a new rule Monday that limits its ability to lend emergency money to banks.

In theory, the new rule should quash the notion that Wall Street banks are “too big to fail.”

If this new rule had been in effect during the last financial crisis, the Federal Reserve would not have been able to bail out AIG or Bear Stearns.  As a result, the final outcome of the last crisis may have been far different.  Here is more from CNN

Under the new rule, banks that are going bankrupt — or appear to be going bankrupt — can no longer receive emergency funds from the Fed under any circumstances.

If the rule had been in place during the financial crisis, it would have prevented the Fed from lending to insurance giant AIG (AIG) and Bear Stearns, Fed chair Janet Yellen points out.

So if the Federal Reserve does not bail out these big financial institutions during the next crisis, what is going to happen?

Will we see European-style “bail-ins” when large banks start failing?

And exactly what would such a “bail-in” look like?

Earlier this year, I discussed the concept of a “bail-in”…

Essentially, what happens is that wealth is transferred from the “stakeholders” in the bank to the bank itself in order to keep it solvent.  That means that creditors and shareholders could potentially lose everything if a major bank in Europe fails.  And if their “contributions” are not enough to save the bank, those holding private bank accounts will have to take “haircuts” just like we saw in Cyprus.  In fact, the travesty that we witnessed in Cyprus is being used as a “template” for much of the new legislation that is being enacted all over Europe.

Many Americans assume that when they put money in the bank that they have a right to go back and get “their money” whenever they want.  But if we all went to the bank at the same time, there wouldn’t be nearly enough money for all of us.  The reason for this is that the banks only keep a small fraction of our money on hand to satisfy the demands of those that conduct withdrawals on a day to day basis.  The banks take the rest of the money that we have deposited and use it however they think is best.

If you have money at a bank that goes under, that bank will still be obligated to pay you back, but it may not be able to do so.  This is where the FDIC comes in.  The FDIC supposedly guarantees the safety of deposits in member banks, but at any given time it only has a very, very small amount of money on hand.

If some major crisis comes along that causes banks all over the United States to start falling like dominoes, the FDIC will be in panic mode.  During such a scenario, the FDIC would be forced to ask Congress for a massive amount of money, and since we already run a giant deficit every year the government would have to borrow whatever funds would be required.

Personally, I find it very interesting that we have seen major rule changes in Europe and at the Federal Reserve just as we are entering a new global financial crisis.

Do they know something that the rest of us do not?

Be very careful with your money, because I am convinced that “bank bail-ins” will soon be making front page headlines all over the world.

by Michael Snyder in The Economic Collapse

Advertisements

High Stakes in Dracula’s Transylvania

House hunters are turning to Romania’s central region of Transylvania, popularized by the tale of Count Dracula. Restrictions were lifted this year on local purchases of local real estate by European Union nationals. Bran Castle, above, in Bran, Brasov county, is marketed as the home of Count Dracula, but in reality it was a residence of Romanian Queen Marie in the early 20th century.Romania draws foreign buyers looking for historic mansions and modern villas in resort areas

Count Dracula, the central character of Irish author Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel, eagerly left for England in search of new blood, in a story that popularized the Romanian region of Transylvania. Today, house hunters are invited to make the reverse journey now that Romania is a member of the European Union and that restrictions were lifted this year on purchases of local real estate by the bloc’s nationals.

Britain’s Prince Charles, for one, unwinds every year in Zalanpatak. The mud road leading to the remote village stretches for miles, with the clanging of cow bells accompanying tourists making the trek.

Elsewhere in the world, the heir to the British throne occupies great castles and sprawling mansions. In rural Romania, he resides in a small old cottage. His involvement, since 2006, in the restoration of a few local farmhouses has given the hamlet global popularity and added a sense of excitement about Transylvania living.

A living room in Bran Castle, a Transylvania property marketed as Count Dracula’s castle. The home is for sale, initially listed for $78 million.A living room in Bran Castle, a Transylvania property marketed as Count Dracula’s castle. The home is for sale, initially listed for $78 million.

Transylvania, with a population of more than seven million in the central part of Romania, has a number of high-end homes on the market. And, yes, one is a castle. Bran Castle in Brasov county is marketed as the home of Count Dracula. In reality it was a residence of Romanian Queen Marie in the early 20th century. In 2007, the home was available for $78 million. The sellers are no longer listing a price, said Mark A. Meyer, of Herzfeld and Rubin, the New York attorneys representing the queen’s descendants, but will entertain offers.

Foreign buyers had been focused on Bucharest, where there was speculative buying of apartments after the country joined the EU in 2007. But Transylvania has been luring house hunters away from the capital city.

A guesthouse on the property in Zalanpatak, Transylvania, that is owned by Britain’s Prince Charles. His presence has boosted interest in Romanian real estate.A guesthouse on the property in Zalanpatak, Transylvania, that is owned by Britain’s Prince Charles. His presence has boosted interest in Romanian real estate.

Transylvania means “the land beyond the forest” and the region is famous for its scenic mountain routes. Brasov, an elegant mountain resort and the closest Transylvanian city to the capital, has many big villas built in the 19th century by wealthy merchants. A 10-room townhouse from that period in the historic city center is listed for $2.7 million. For $500,000, a 2,200-square-foot apartment offers rooftop views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

A seven-bedroom mansion in the nearby village of Halchiu, close to popular skiing resorts, is on the market for $2.4 million. The modern villa features two huge living rooms, a swimming pool, a tennis court and spectacular views of the Carpathian Mountains.

The village, founded by Saxons in the 12th century, has rows of historic houses across the street. Four such buildings were demolished to make way for the mansion, completed in 2010.

A $2.4 million mansion is for sale in Halchiu village.A $2.4 million mansion is for sale in Halchiu village.

“Rather than invest a million or more to buy an existing house, the wealthy prefer to build on their own because construction materials and work is cheaper,” said Raluca Plavita, senior consultant at real-estate firm DTZ Echinox in Bucharest.

Non-EU nationals can’t purchase land outright—although they may use locally registered companies to circumvent the restriction—but they can buy buildings freely, said Razvan Popa, real-estate partner at law firm Kinstellar. High-end properties are out of reach for many Romanians, who make an average of $500 in monthly take-home pay.

The country saw a rapid inflation of real-estate prices before 2008, on prospects of Romania’s entry to the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as well as aggressive lending by banks. Values then fell by half during the global financial crisis.

The economy is stronger now, with the International Monetary Fund estimating 2.4% growth this year. But the country is still among Europe’s poorest. Its isolation during the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu gave it a bad image.

The interior of the seven-bedroom Halchiu mansion, which was built on the site of four traditional Saxon homes.The interior of the seven-bedroom Halchiu mansion, which was built on the site of four traditional Saxon homes.

“Interest in Romania isn’t comparable with Prague or Budapest where some may be looking to buy a small apartment with a view of Charles Bridge or the Danube,” said Mr. Popa, the real-estate lawyer.

The international publicity around Prince Charles’s properties offers a counterbalance to some of the negative press Romania has received in Western Europe, which is worried about well-educated Romanians moving to other countries to provide inexpensive labor.

The Zalanpatak property is looked after by Tibor Kalnoky, a descendant of a Hungarian aristocratic family. The 47-year-old studied in Germany to be a veterinarian and, after reclaiming family assets in Romania, has managed the prince’s property and has hosted him during his visits.

These occasional visits are enough to attract scores of tourists throughout the year to the formerly obscure village in a Transylvanian valley. The fact that few street signs lead there, that the property offers no Internet or TV and that cellphone signals are absent for miles, seems only to add to the mystery of the place.