When the previous Bush administration released its fiscal 2006 budget proposal, it included a separate document listing specific spending cuts and other reforms. The idea was too little and too late, and it’s likely that the Bush administration included it as part of a feeble attempt to answer critics of the Republican spending binge.
The supplement became an annual inclusion and the Obama administration has carried on the tradition. This year, however, the administration skipped the separate document and instead tucked a list of suggested “cuts, consolidations, and savings” in the back of the main budget document.
The placement is different, but the relatively paltry offerings are the same.
The big picture is that the administration found $25 billion in savings. Overall spending under the president’s proposed budget would increase $93 billion over last year, so the savings would be gross rather than net. And, obviously, $25 billion isn’t much in a $3.8 trillion budget.
Here’s a chart that puts the “savings” in perspective (you might not even be able to see the red “savings” line):
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
The next domino: Australia doubles tax on retirement savings
by SIMON BLACK on APRIL 8, 2013
Though Australia’s national balance sheet is comparatively quite strong, the government has been running at a net deficit for years… and they’re under intense pressure to balance the budget.
The good news is that Australia now has a goodly number of investor-friendly immigration programs designed to bring productive foreigners into the country, similar to the trend we’re seeing across Europe.
On the flip side, though, the Australian government has just announced new rules which penalize citizens who have responsibly set aside savings for their own retirement.
Any income over A$100,000 drawn from a superannuation fund (the equivalent of an IRA in the United States) will now be taxed at 15%. Previously, all such income was tax-free.
The really offensive part about this is that the government is going to tax people’s savings ‘on both ends,’ meaning that people are taxed on money they move INTO the retirement fund, and now they can be taxed again when they pull money out.
The Cyprus debacle drew a line in the sand– fleecing people with assets, or income, in excess of 100,000 dollars, euros, etc. is now acceptable. This is the definition of ‘rich’ in the sole discretion of governments.
And make no mistake– if it can happen in Australia, which still has reasonable debt levels despite years of deficit spending, it can happen in bankrupt, insolvent nations like the US.
As you may know, US tax code allows for several different types of retirement accounts… and there has been a lot of talk lately about a ‘Roth conversion’.
This is to say that a US taxpayer can convert his/her traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. And the implications are enormous.
A traditional IRA is not taxed on the way in, but it’s taxed on the way out. So if you contribute $3,000 annually to your IRA, you won’t pay income tax on that $3,000. But the accumulated retirement savings is taxed in the future when you withdraw the funds at retirement.
Conversely, contributions to a Roth IRA are taxed each year with the rest of your income. But the accumulated savings are NOT taxed when you withdraw the funds at retirement.
A few years ago, Congress inked a deal to allow US taxpayers to CONVERT their traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. In doing so, Americans were allowed to pay tax on the accumulated gains in their traditional IRA up through that point, then switch to a Roth.
Congress was essentially saying, “We promise that we will only tax you now in exchange for not taxing you later.”
It certainly begs the question: How much do you trust your government?
Can we really expect the country that has racked up more debt than any other in the history of the world to keep its word? Can we really expect that 5 or 10 years from now, they won’t make another grab for cash?
If the Australian government can unilaterally change the rules and start double-taxing retirement accounts, so can the US. And the trillions of dollars in retirement savings in the Land of the Free is far too irresistible for them to ignore.
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Mon Apr 08, 2013 6:55 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
The budget recently passed by Senate Democrats approves spending of $3.7 trillion over the next year alone, and this is not a new trend. Economist Burton Abrams notes that since 2000, the U.S. federal government has overspent in excess of $10 trillion. Deficits of $16 trillion confirm that government has a hard time saving. That is bad enough but the government also makes it increasingly harder for Americans to save.
In 1980 saving as a percentage of after-tax household income, was 10 percent. As Valentina Pasquali and Tina Aridas of Global Finance note, now it’s a paltry 4 percent and far below the rates for Switzerland at 12 percent; Germany 10.6 percent; and Australia at 9.1 percent With savings down, Americans, particularly baby boomers, are looking to Social Security and Medicare to handle their retirement needs. But they might be in for a surprise.
In his book The Third Lie: Why Government Programs Don’t Work – and a Blueprint for Change, Richard Gelles, dean of social policy at the University of Pennsylvania, confesses he did not know that there was no Social Security “account” for him. That is true, and there isn’t one for anybody else either. As Abrams explains, in a Ponzi-like scheme, the government had already transferred the proceeds from the Social Security tax to others. But that’s not the end of it.
Social Security and Medicare are in trouble and government may resort to means testing recipients. If that happens, Abrams warns, those who did save for their own retirement will find their benefits reduced. This amounts to a punishment for having saved one’s own money, and has consequences for the economy. The main domestic source of funds for capital investment, business expansion and such, explain Pasquali and Aridas, is household savings.
But as Abrams observes, the United States government has essentially destroyed household saving and substituted tax claims on future workers. That can only be described as incredibly bad government, but nobody on the federal scene is crafting new policies that promote public and private saving. Meanwhile, in addition to $3.7 trillion in spending over the next year, the recently approved budget approves $1 trillion in tax increases over the next decade. Remember, taxes are due April 15.
View full post on MyGovCost | Government Cost Calculator
What would you do if you woke up one day and discovered that the banksters had “legally” stolen about 80 percent of your life savings? Most people seem to assume that most of the depositors that are getting ripped off in Cyprus are “Russian oligarchs” or “wealthy European tycoons”, but the truth is that they are only just part of the story. As you will see below, there are small businesses and aging retirees that have been absolutely devastated by the wealth confiscation that has taken place in Cyprus. Many businesses can no longer meet their payrolls or pay their bills because their funds have been frozen, and many retirees have seen retirement plans that they have been working toward for decades absolutely destroyed in a matter of days. Sometimes it can be hard to identify with events that are happening on the other side of the globe, but I want you to try to put yourself into their shoes for a few minutes. How would you feel if something like this happened to you?
For example, just consider the case of one 65-year-old retiree that has had his life savings totally wiped out by the “wealth tax” in Cyprus. His very sad story was recently featured by the Sydney Morning Herald…
”Very bad, very, very bad,” says 65-year-old John Demetriou, rubbing tears from his lined face with thick fingers. ”I lost all my money.”
John now lives in the picturesque fishing village of Liopetri on Cyprus’ south coast. But for 35 years he lived at Bondi Junction and worked days, nights and weekends in Sydney markets selling jewellery and imitation jewellery.
He had left Cyprus in the early 1970s at the height of its war with Turkey, taking his wife and young children to safety in Australia. He built a life from nothing and, gradually, a substantial nest egg. He retired to Cyprus in 2007 with about $1 million, his life savings.
He planned to spend it on his grandchildren – some of whom live in Cyprus – putting them through university and setting them up. There would be medical bills; he has a heart condition. The interest was paying for a comfortable retirement, and trips back to Australia. He also toyed with the idea of buying a boat.
He wanted to leave any big purchases a few years, to be sure this was where he would spend his retirement. There was no hurry. But now it is all gone.
”If I made the decision to stay, I was going to build a house,” John says. ”Unfortunately I didn’t make the decision yet.
”I went to sleep Friday as a rich man. I woke up a poor man.”
You can read the rest of the article right here.
How would you feel if you suddenly lost almost everything that you have been working for your entire life?
And many small and mid-size businesses have been ruined by the bank account confiscation that has taken place in Cyprus.
The following is a bank account statement that was originally posted on a Bitcoin forum that has gone absolutely viral all over the Internet. One medium size IT business has lost a staggering amount of money because of the “bail-in” that is happening in Cyprus…
The following is what the poster of this screenshot had to say about what this is going to do to his business…
Over 700k of expropriated money will be used to repay country’s debt. Probably we will get back about 20% of this amount in 6-7 years.
I’m not Russian oligarch, but just European medium size IT business. Thousands of other companies around Cyprus have the same situation.
The business is definitely ruined, all Cypriot workers to be fired.
We are moving to small Caribbean country where authorities have more respect to people’s assets. Also we are thinking about using Bitcoin to pay wages and for payments between our partners.
Special thanks to:
- Jeroen Dijsselbloem
- Angela Merkel
- Manuel Barroso
- the rest of officials of “European Comission”
With each passing day, things just continue to get worse for those with deposits of over 100,000 euros in Cyprus. A few hours ago, a Reuters story entitled “Big depositors in Cyprus to lose far more than feared” declared that the initial estimates of the losses by big depositors in Cyprus were much too low.
And of course the truth is that those that have had their deposits frozen will be very fortunate to ever see any of that money ever again.
But just a few weeks ago, the Central Bank of Cyprus was swearing that nothing like this could ever possibly happen. Just check out the following memo from the Central Bank of Cyprus dated “11 February 2013″ that was recently posted on Zero Hedge…
Sadly, the truth is that the politicians will lie to you all the way up until the very day that they confiscate your money.
You can believe our “leaders” when they swear that nothing like this will ever happen in the United States, in Canada or in other European nations if you want.
But I don’t believe them.
In fact, as an outstanding article by Ellen Brown recently detailed, the concept of a “bail-in” for “systemically important financial institutions” has been in the works for a long time…
Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlier here); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds.
If you do not believe that what just happened in Cyprus could happen in the United States, you need to read the rest of her article. The following is an extended excerpt from that article…
Although few depositors realize it, legally the bank owns the depositor’s funds as soon as they are put in the bank. Our money becomes the bank’s, and we become unsecured creditors holding IOUs or promises to pay. (See here and here.) But until now the bank has been obligated to pay the money back on demand in the form of cash. Under the FDIC-BOE plan, our IOUs will be converted into “bank equity.” The bank will get the money and we will get stock in the bank. With any luck we may be able to sell the stock to someone else, but when and at what price? Most people keep a deposit account so they can have ready cash to pay the bills.
The 15-page FDIC-BOE document is called “Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions.” It begins by explaining that the 2008 banking crisis has made it clear that some other way besides taxpayer bailouts is needed to maintain “financial stability.” Evidently anticipating that the next financial collapse will be on a grander scale than either the taxpayers or Congress is willing to underwrite, the authors state:
An efficient path for returning the sound operations of the G-SIFI to the private sector would be provided by exchanging or converting a sufficient amount of the unsecured debt from the original creditors of the failed company [meaning the depositors] into equity [or stock]. In the U.S., the new equity would become capital in one or more newly formed operating entities. In the U.K., the same approach could be used, or the equity could be used to recapitalize the failing financial company itself—thus, the highest layer of surviving bailed-in creditors would become the owners of the resolved firm. In either country, the new equity holders would take on the corresponding risk of being shareholders in a financial institution.
No exception is indicated for “insured deposits” in the U.S., meaning those under $250,000, the deposits we thought were protected by FDIC insurance. This can hardly be an oversight, since it is the FDIC that is issuing the directive. The FDIC is an insurance company funded by premiums paid by private banks. The directive is called a “resolution process,” defined elsewhere as a plan that “would be triggered in the event of the failure of an insurer . . . .” The only mention of “insured deposits” is in connection with existing UK legislation, which the FDIC-BOE directive goes on to say is inadequate, implying that it needs to be modified or overridden.
You can find the rest of her excellent article right here. I would encourage everyone to especially pay attention to what she has to say about derivatives.
Sadly, what is happening in Cyprus right now is just the continuation of a trend. In recent years, governments all over the world have turned to the confiscation of private wealth in order to solve their financial problems. The following examples are from a recent article posted on Deviant Investor…
October 2008 – Argentina’s leftist government, facing a gigantic revenue shortfall, proposes to nationalize all private pensions so as to meet national debt payments and avoid its second default in the decade.
November 2010 – Headline – Hungary Gives Its Citizens an Ultimatum: Move Your Private Pension Fund Assets to the State or Permanently Lose Your Pension – This is an effective nationalization of all pensions.
November 2010 – Ireland elects to appropriate ten billion euros from its National Pension Reserve Fund to help fund an eighty-five billion euro rescue package for its besieged banks. Ireland also moves to consider a regulatory move that compels some private Irish pension funds to hold more Irish government debt, thereby providing the state with a captive investor base but hugely raising the risk for savers.
December 2010 – France agrees to transfer twenty billion euros worth of assets belonging to its Fonds de Reserve pour les Retraites (FRR), the funded portion of its retirement system, to help pay off recurring social benefits costs. No pensioners are consulted.
April 2012 – Argentina announces that its Economy Ministry has taken an emergency loan from the national pension fund in the amount of $4.3 billion. No pensioners were consulted.
June 2012 – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unilaterally appropriates $45 billion from US federal pension funds to help tide over US deficits for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.
January 2013 – Treasury Secretary Geithner again announces that the government has begun borrowing from the federal employees pension fund to keep operating without passing the approaching “fiscal cliff” debt limit. The move effectively creates $156 billion in borrowing authority from federal pension funds.
March 2013 – Open Bank Resolution finance minister, Bill English, is proposing a Cyprus style solution for potential New Zealand bank failures. The reserve bank is in the final stages of establishing a rescue scheme which will put all bank depositors on the hook for bailing out their banks. Depositors will overnight have their savings shaved by the amount needed to keep distressed banks afloat.
Can you see the pattern?
As I wrote about the other day, no bank account, no pension fund, no retirement account and no stock portfolio will be able to be considered 100% safe ever again.
And once the global derivatives casino melts down, there are going to be a lot of major banks that are going to need to be “bailed in”.
When that day arrives, they are going to try to come after your money.
So don’t leave your entire life savings sitting in a single bank – especially not one of the banks that has a tremendous amount of exposure to derivatives.
Hopefully we can get more people to wake up and realize what is happening. We are moving into a time of great financial instability, and what worked in the past is not going to work in the future.
Be smart and get prepared while you still can.
Time is running out.
View full post on The Economic Collapse
Now savings could be raided across Eurozone: Finance chief warns more EU taxpayers could be targeted as Cyprus rescue set to become first of many
Jeroen Dijsselbloem spooked global markets with his comments
He said that owners and investors must be held responsible for failings
EU finance chiefs in last-minute agreement after 10 hours of negotiations
IMF chief: ‘It will form a lasting, durable and fully financed solution’
Savers with more than £85,000 will lose up to 40 per cent of their money
Uninsured funds to be frozen and used to pay off debts in bank restructure
Cyprus will not to need to vote on deal because bank law already in place
But Germany may have to hold vote before agreement can take effect
More than 60,000 British expats live on the island, so many face losses
By JAMES CHAPMAN
PUBLISHED: 18:26 GMT, 25 March 2013 | UPDATED: 22:41 GMT, 25 March 2013
Savers in the eurozone could see their bank accounts raided in the struggle to shore up the single currency, a senior EU official warned last night.
The Cyprus rescue package – under which bank customers will have a chunk of their cash seized to bail out troubled lenders – could become a template for dealing with other creaking banking systems, Jeroen Dijsselbloem suggested.
The remarks from the head of the eurozone’s finance ministers contradicted days of assurances that the Cyprus bank deposit raid was a ‘one off’.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:31 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Michael F. Cannon
One of ObamaCare’s selling points was that it would supposedly reduce costs through such innovations as “accountable care organizations” or ACOs. I have explained how ACOs are an innovation with many benefits, how markets developed ACOs decades before the government’s central planners caught on, and have predicted that ObamaCare’s centrally planned ACO program would fail to deliver on the promised savings. The reason is simple, and explained by industry expert Robert Laszewski:
Here’s a flash for the policy wonks pushing ACOs. They only work if the provider gets paid less for the same patient population. Why would they be dumb enough to voluntarily accept that outcome?
Turns out, health care providers are not that dumb. They have threatened to bolt ObamaCare’s ACO program in the past, and are doing so again [$] if Medicare tries to cut their pay:
One of CMS’ highest profile health care delivery reform initiatives is on rocky ground as most of the Pioneer ACOs are threatening to drop out of the demonstration if CMS makes them start meeting quality measures instead of merely requiring that they report the measures, according to a letter [$] obtained by Inside Health Policy…The Pioneer ACOs were supposed to be the few shining examples of organizations that could handle outcomes-based pay…
CMS often touts the high level of participation in ACOs, and it would seem that CMS has too much at stake to ignore the Pioneers’ requests and let the demo implode, a health care consultant says. However, it’s difficult to believe that this is the first time that the ACOs have brought these concerns to CMS – some innovation center officials come from the very organizations in the Pioneer demo – all of which indicates that negotiations have not gone well with the agency, the sources say. CMS could make changes to the quality metrics without announcing them in the Federal Register because the Pioneer ACOs are a demonstration, but the cat is out of the bag now, the sources note.
The Pioneer ACOs account for a little more than 30 of the some 250 ACOs in Medicare, and the Pioneers are supposed to be the most advanced, integrated systems of them all.
And thus ObamaCare’s false promise of cost savings comes into sharper focus. File this one under “markets are smart, government is stupid.”
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Andrew J. Coulson
Researchers Patrick Wolf and Michael McShane write in the National Review Online today that the DC Opportunity Scholarships Program saves money. They estimate that the ultimate net savings from the private school choice program’s initial 5 year trial period will amount to $113 million ($183 million in savings set against a cost of $70 million). That’s good news, but I, like Alan Rickman’s character in Galaxy Quest, am somewhat ambivalent about this savings figure.
The trouble is that the real savings are substantially greater, because the above estimate doesn’t seem to take into account not having to pay for these students to attend DC public schools (which would have been necessary, without the private school scholarship program). And as readers of this blog may remember, DC spends a whole lotta money on its public schools. Just shy of $30,000 per student, per year in fact. Assuming that the average program enrollment during the trial period was 1,500 students, it saved taxpayers an additional… $225 million. Added to the Wolf/McShane figure, the total savings is $338 million—for just a tiny program.
By Grapthar’s Hammer, that IS a savings!
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Retirement Savings Accounts Draw U.S. Consumer Bureau Attention
Here it comes. Please consider the risk of turning over your retirement account to US management in Treasury Instruments only.
How much of a push do you need to "Defend Yourself."
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is weighing whether it should take on a role in helping Americans manage the $19.4 trillion they have put into retirement savings, a move that would be the agency’s first foray into consumer investments.
“That’s one of the things we’ve been exploring and are interested in in terms of whether and what authority we have,” bureau director Richard Cordray said in an interview. He didn’t provide additional details.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray said, “You know if you lose your home because the rest of your block is foreclosed on, your credit history is affected.” Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
The bureau’s core concern is that many Americans, notably those from the retiring Baby Boom generation, may fall prey to financial scams, according to three people briefed on the CFPB’s deliberations who asked not to be named because the matter is still under discussion.
The retirement savings business in the U.S. is dominated by a group of companies that handle record-keeping and management of investments in tax-advantaged vehicles like 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts. The group includes Fidelity Investments, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Charles Schwab Corp. (SCHW) and T. Rowe Price Group Inc. (TROW) Americans held $19.4 trillion in retirement assets as of Sept. 30, 2012, according to the Investment Company Institute, an industry association; about $3.5 trillion of that was in 401(k) plans.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Labor are the main regulators of U.S. retirement savings vehicles and funds. However, the consumer bureau — established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act — sees itself as a potential catalyst for promoting a coherent policy across the government, the people said.
With large numbers of Americans heading toward retirement in the coming decade, the CFPB has referred internally to this concept as “the rollover moment,” the people said.
Mark Calabria, director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute, a research group that promotes free markets, said that while Dodd-Frank didn’t specifically give the consumer bureau jurisdiction over investments, it could step in if the other agencies don’t.
“I could imagine the CFPB growing into a role on investment savings if it seems like the SEC is asleep at the wheel,” Calabria said in an interview.
The bureau could claim jurisdiction through its Office for Older Americans, which was established by Dodd-Frank with a mandate to improve financial literacy. It is run by Hubert H. Humphrey III, the former attorney general of Minnesota.
The retirement savings industry generally has little to do with the CFPB because the SEC is the main investment regulator, said Ianthe Zabel, an ICI spokeswoman. She declined further comment on the CFPB plans.
The agency officially began work in July 2011 and has focused much of its attention so far on consumer credit products, including credit cards and mortgages. In coming months, the agency is expected to turn their focus to short-term credit products including prepaid debit cards, bank overdraft fees and payday lending.
Longer-term, in addition to focusing on retirement savings, the bureau is studying mobile payments and the plight of Americans whose credit was damaged during the financial crisis, a group officials refer to as “the new subprime.”
“It may be because of things they did and it may just be because they suffered,” Cordray said in the interview. “You know if you lose your home because the rest of your block is foreclosed on, your credit history is affected.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Carter Dougherty in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maura Reynolds at email@example.com
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:09 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
If the U.S.A. is contemplaiting this move and seizing retirement savings accounts I wonder how long it will be before this happens in Canada and anyone of several other nations that have similar schemes.D.D.
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:11 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — In Europe’s most economically stricken countries, people are taking their money out of their banks as a way to protect their savings from the growing financial storm.
Worried that their savings could be devalued, or that banks are on the verge of collapse and that governments cannot make good on deposit insurance, people in Greece, Spain and beyond are withdrawing euros by the billions — behavior that is magnifying their countries’ financial stresses.
The money is being hoarded at home or deposited in banks in more stable economies.
It’s a steady bank "jog" at the moment, not a full-bore run. But it threatens to undermine the finances of those countries’ already-stressed lenders. And if it does turn into a full bank run after Greece’s crucial election on Sunday, it could hasten financial disaster in Europe and help spread turmoil around the world.
Since the Greek debt crisis broke in late 2009, deposits have fallen by 30 percent cent, as savers have slowly pulled some €72 billion ($90.24 billion) from local lenders, with total household and corporate deposits standing at €165.9 billion ($207.94 billion) in April, according to the latest data from the Bank of Greece.
Spanish deposits have fallen about six percent over the past year. They dipped suddenly in April by about €3.1 billion, or 1.8 percent, to €1.624 trillion as problems with the country’s troubled banks stated to grow to alarming proportions.
This is despite the fact that deposits are guaranteed by the government up to €100,000 across the eurozone.
Spain’s financial turmoil quickly worsened in late May, when the country’s second-largest lender announced it needed capital of €19 billion to stay afloat. Bankia denied reports of a rush by its customers to withdraw, but the bailout scared Spaniards who assumed their money was safe.
Bankia client Rosa Monsivais panicked and decided she had to move her savings from Bankia to one she thought would be safer. She chose a foreign bank with Spanish operations, the Dutch owned ING bank.
It took longer than she thought, leading to anxious days until she knew her money was in her new account.
"It scared me a little. I took all my money out and put it in ING," said Monsivais, a 41-year-old graphic artist who would not say how much money she moved. "But it took a full week to do this kind of transaction. I was reading the newspaper each day and it worried me."
The money across Europe is headed different places.
Some has simply been withdrawn and spent out of urgent need as people lose their jobs due to recessions. Some is winding up in bank accounts or invested in countries that are more stable such as Germany. The rest is being invested in property or bonds being issued by other eurozone countries.
In the U.K., the eurozone crisis was seen as one factor pushing up central London house prices, according to Knight Frank, a real estate agency dealing in high-end property.
"While it looks very much that the surge in Greek buyers has fallen off sharply since the beginning of the year — those who had the funds to buy have done so — we are now seeing a noticeable uptick in interest from France, Italy, Spain and even German-based purchasers looking at the prime London market," the company said in its Prime Central London Index report.
Meanwhile, some money appears to be simply hoarded at home, despite the risk of theft. Last month, police in Athens arrested a gang that specialized in breaking into basement storage spaces under apartment blocks, netting a rich haul in stashed cash and valuables.
"What the average Greek has in mind is to secure the euros they currently hold," said Theodore Krintas, managing director at Attica Wealth Management. "That has been going on for a long time, and will continue as long as the uncertainty increases concerning Greece’s position in the near future in the eurozone and the European Union."
Sunday’s vote could determine whether Greece stays in the euro or leaves in chaos. Since 2010, Greece has been dependent on two bailouts totaling €240 billion in loans to pay its bills. In return, the government had to promise to make deep spending cuts to lower its deficit. That has helped put the country in a deep recession. Leading political figures have called for renegotiating or rejecting the bailout deal, which could lead to a payment cutoff from mistrustful eurozone governments and the IMF.
A bailout cutoff could lead to a complete collapse of government finances and a euro exit meaning the country would have to print its own money to pay bills or recapitalize banks.
A large-scale bank run in Greece could further wreck government finances and push the country closer to leaving the euro. T
So far it’s been a trickle rather than a flood in Greece, underlining its slow-motion nature. Many have kept their deposits because they don’t believe Greece will leave the euro.
Wealthy Germans also are concerned that inflation will surge if Europe’s central bank has to step in and spend huge amounts of money propping up the single currency. So they are putting more money into their own country’s high-end real-estate in hope it will keep its value.
Well-heeled Spaniards have been moving money to Switzerland and the U.S. for months amid mounting worries about Spain and the safety of the eurozone, said Bruce Goslin, managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for K2 Intelligence consulting group.
"As we are circulating and talking to people, some things are becoming clear. Everyone says ‘There is nothing going on in Spain, the economy is contracting so fast we’re going to have to go out of Spain.’" said Goslin.
Spain’s banking problems come from the collapse of a real estate boom. Banks that made reckless loans are not being paid back and are seeing the value of the properties they invested in tumbling. This is making the country’s banking system increasingly financially insecure — heightening savers’ fears that their money is not safe.
Fernando Encinar, head of research at real estate website Idealista.com, said some wealthy people who didn’t have money to buy during the boom are now taking advantage of prices that have fallen 26 percent in four years.
Many Spaniards can’t move money abroad because times are so tough, said Vincent Forest at the Economist Intelligence Unit. With unemployment now at nearly 25 percent, Spaniards with jobs and savings are increasingly helping out less fortunate relatives.
"Most Spaniards have huge savings, but they have someone in the family who needs money and isn’t earning anything," Forest said.
Many Italians — some of Europe’s most devoted savers — are also moving money. They are worried their government will be the next victim of the crisis through its heavy debt load, even though Italy’s banks, government finances and economy are in better shape than Spain’s.
Some 60,000 to 70,000 small investors have bought property abroad, mostly in Germany but also on the Spanish islands, in the last three months, for a total investment of €400 million on an annual basis, said Paolo Righi, president of the Italian Federation of Real Estate Professionals.
Ruth Stirati, who runs a business helping Italians buy property in Berlin, said she gets about 10 emails a day asking about properties.
"Over the last two or three weeks, there has been a new panic," she said. "They have a thousand fears: That the banks won’t have money, that the euro will fail. It is without substance, their doubts. But they worry there will be one strong euro in Germany, and one that is weak.’
Wealthy Germans aren’t worried about seeing their money disappear due to collapsing banks, but they are concerned that their savings will be eaten away through inflation. As a result, they are putting money into real estate — at home.
Even though inflation currently is moderate at 2.2 percent in May, there is concern about the risk of rising prices in Germany’s media. There is speculation that inflation could jump if the European Central Bank has to take drastic measures to keep the eurozone from breaking up — such as printing large amounts of money to buy government bonds and cover bankrupt governments’ financing needs.
The current EU treaty bars that. But that hasn’t stopped German newspaper headlines warning about possible inflation to come.
According to the Europace real estate financing platform, German home prices rose 5.46 percent in the first quarter over a year ago.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Jun 16, 2012 12:48 pm
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