Thursday, 11 April 2013
Should Cyprus leave the euro?
Cyprus: six reasons for staying within the euro and one question about whether it can
As in many arguments about a political and/or economic situation, in the argument about whether Cyprus should be in or out of the Euro, there is a tendency for the confusing and invalid conflation of a number of issues.
One issue is the cause of the crisis. The communist party, AKEL, which bears much responsibility for Cyprus reaching this state, tends towards arguments deceptively implying that the current condition of Cyprus is due to the Euro Group and the Troika. However, Cyprus has 14% unemployment, while still having experienced only a minor impact from Troika measures.
Herman van Rompuy referred to “years of mismanagement”, which every Cypriot knows is true. The main attribution of responsibility to the euro is that being in the euro area contributed to the attractiveness of Cyprus to foreign (including Russian) depositors. However the economic problems were the result of the world economic crisis combined with three other factors: The first was that, based on the foreign deposits, Cyprus bankers followed an expansionary policy of loans and investments, and (second factor), a profiteering attitude which verged on gambling. When the crisis came, the banks faced severe liquidity problems and the second largest bank of the island became insolvent. Policymakers and the regulating institutions, the Ministry of Finance, or the Central Bank of Cyprus, fell short in their job.
The second issue is the treatment of Cyprus by the Troika and the Euro Group, just two weeks after Nicos Anastasiades became president, after the end of the term of our previous, communist president, Demetris Christophias. The new president had committed himself to immediately negotiating, agreeing and signing a Memorandum of Understanding on the bailout.
The treatment he received from the Troika and the Euro Group has caused shock all over the world. Other Mediterranean and small members of the EU should be warned. After showing patience with anti-EU Christophias for months, they exposed Anastasiades to pressure and deadlines, threatening to suddenly cut off Emergency Liquidity Assistance funds to the banks, assistance which had been provided for over a year to one bank that many local analysts considered insolvent, by-passing ECB policies.
The reasons given both by the Euro Group president and the sole large power active in the EU now, Germany, for the harsh treatment of Cyprus are deceptive or straight-forwardly wrong. They are deceptive because they never mention that, though with many weaknesses, the Cyprus economic model, which is based on services, and not heavy industry, functioned and was not in danger of collapse, until the Euro Group decided the PSI to the Greek public debt, which landed the Cyprus banks with a 4.5 billion euro loss, equivalent to 25% of the country’s GDP. We are not aware of any other country suffering similar losses, since Finland was hit by similar proportionate loss of GDP with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Read the rest here.