The Greek “Haircut”; Watching How It’s Done

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Pay attention to Greece.  It seems that the EU countries that have loaned billions to Greece, which continues to hemorrhage cash because of its rejection of “austerity” (austerity: not frittering away a THIRD infusion of someone else’s money on an unsustainable socialist paradise), have the temerity to ask for decent terms for payback of loans.  For the Greeks, that is absolutely unconscionable.

Faux outrage aside, what is of interest is that, in order to prevent a collapse of the banking system in Greece, a “bail-in” is being considered, similar to what happened in Cyprus a couple of years ago.  Where is the money going to come from?  Why, it will be confiscated from private citizens’ bank accounts.  Whereas in Cyprus, the accounts which were pinched were those over €100,000 (at the time nearly $130,000), Greece seems to be shooting for a much lower number.

The plans, which call for a “haircut” of at least 30 per cent on deposits above €8,000, sketch out an increasingly likely scenario for at least one bank, the sources said.

Why accounts so small?  Here’s why:

With few deposits over €100,000 left in the banks after six months of capital flight, “it makes sense for the banks to consider imposing a haircut on small depositors as part of a recapitalization. . . It could even be flagged as a one-off tax,” said one analyst.

Hmmm.  A tax.  That word should be worrisome to Americans.  Seeing as not long ago we have had “taxes” foisted upon us that were not intended to be taxes at all.  As if the Ninth Amendment simply doesn’t exist.

How Greece’s problems approximate ours is a bit easier to grasp if you think of Greece having one giant EBT card, instead of tens of millions of smaller ones.  Greece wants nobody to tell them what they can spend the EBT cash on, despite the fact that the money on the card is someone else’s.  Oh, and when the money on the EBT card runs out, Greece feels perfectly justified in asking for more.  In fact, if the creditors want to have anything to say about how Greece spends their money, or the terms of the next installment on the EBT card, why, it is terrorism.

Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s finance minister, on Saturday accused the country’s creditors of trying to “terrorise” Greeks into accepting austerity.

“What they’re doing with Greece has a name: terrorism,” he told Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “Why have they forced us to close the banks? To frighten people.”

That smug sense of entitlement should ring familiar in the ears of middle-class Americans, who hear constantly about paying their “fair share” from the socialist-communist far Left that includes such luminaries as Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, the Occupy nincompoops, and various Hollywood half-wits.  More troubling, though, is that you can bet the Obama Administration (and every leftist candidate for 2016) is watching how Greece plans and executes the out-and-out confiscation of private wealth for the purpose of continuing government largess, while keeping the socialist sheeple placated long enough to get away with it.

The United States is walking a parallel path to Greece, and eventually, the music will stop.  Then, debt will have to be paid, or loans defaulted.  (This, despite record tax revenues for the second year in a row, incidentally.)  When the reckoning comes, we will be subject to the same unfettered, oppressive, and draconian actions that the Greek government will enact (or allow) against its citizens in the current crisis.

We might see sudden limitations or “taxes” or “fees” on large cash transfers or withdrawals, followed by restrictions on ATM or debit cards.  Then, couched in the familiar language of class warfare, the seizure of private wealth from large accounts, the “haircut” we saw in Cyprus and will see in Greece.  When it is clear that such action cannot be prevented by the anger and outrage of the demonized wealthy class, the threshold for expropriation to feed the Great Society Welfare Furnace will be lowered by increments until the redistribution of private wealth by government fiat is completed to the satisfaction of the ardent socialists who so despise capitalism, and insist that prosperity comes from robbing the selected Peter, to pay the collective Paul.  

For those who would say that such actions to expropriate private wealth cannot happen here, because there are laws to prevent those actions, I would offer that much we once viewed as illegal activity by the government in this country is now quite permissible, provided it furthers the far-left agenda.  With a Supreme Court that acts as if the Constitution is a mere list of suggestions, don’t expect such actions as described above to face serious challenge.

So watch Greece, just as we watched Cyprus.  You can be sure this Administration and its potential successors are taking copious notes, for when it is our turn in the barber’s chair for our “haircut”.

The Ban on Short Selling

Many folks will have seen this article or one similar that talks about the ban on “short selling” of financial stocks. That raises the question, what is short selling?

Short selling is a way of betting that a stock will go down. If you own a stock and you think its value will go down, you would probably sell it. That’s a long sell. But even if you don’t own the stock, you can sell it. When you enter a sale as a short sell, you borrow someones stock (you don’t really know who’s, you just borrow outstanding shares) and sell them, with the open ended promise to buy the stock back at a later, unspecified date.

Let’s say I want to short 100 shares of XYZ. For our purpose, the stock is trading at $100. I short the stock at that price. If the stock falls to $80, and I buy back 100 shares, I’ve covered the borrowed stock and made a profit of $20 per share. That’s a quick $2,000 in my pocket and I still don’t own any stock. That’s the classic short sell strategy.

But the problem is, some stocks don’t always fall when you think they will. What if the price of XYZ goes up to $120? Well, I’m $2,000 in the hole. I would have to decide whether to take my losses, or hang on to the position and keep hoping that the stock would fall again. It is kind of like doubling down.

Update: I fixed the math. Hey, what can I say? I’m a moron.