The Corner

Euro Zone: The Return of Politics (Again)

Try as hard as the technocrats might, politics — real politics — has a habit of creeping back into the long euro-zone crisis.

Reuters reports:

Cyprus’s parliament has postponed until Monday an emergency session to vote on a levy on bank deposits after signs that lawmakers might block the surprise move agreed in Brussels to help fund a bailout and avert national bankruptcy.

In a radical departure from previous aid packages, euro zone finance ministers want Cyprus savers to forfeit up to 9.9 percent of their deposits in return for a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout to the island, which has been financially crippled by its exposure to neighboring Greece.

The decision, announced on Saturday morning, stunned Cypriots and caused a run on cashpoints, most of which were depleted within hours. Electronic transfers were stopped.

The move to take a percentage of deposits, which could raise almost 6 billion euros, must be ratified by parliament, where no party has a majority. If it fails to do so, President Nicos Anastasiades has warned, Cyprus’s two largest banks will collapse.

One bank, the Cyprus Popular Bank, could have its emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) funding from the European Central Bank cut by March 21.

Given the alternatives, the best guess is that a deal will be cobbled together, but even so . . .

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