Cyprus is about to prove what anyone with common sense already knew, that Greece will not be the only country requiring haircuts on sovereign bonds.
Today the Financial Times posted news of a Radical rescue proposal for Cyprus
A radical new option for the financial rescue of Cyprus would force losses on uninsured depositors in Cypriot banks, as well as investors in the country’s sovereign bonds, according to a confidential memorandum prepared ahead of Monday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers.
The proposal for a “bail-in” of investors and depositors, and drastic shrinking of the Cypriot banking sector, is one of three options put forward as alternatives to a full-scale bailout. The ministers are trying to agree a rescue plan by March, to follow the presidential elections in Cyprus later this month.
The new plan has not been endorsed by its authors in the European Commission or by individual eurozone members. The memo warns that “the risks associated with this option are significant”, including a renewed danger of contagion in eurozone financial markets, and premature collapse in the Cypriot banking sector.
It would reduce Cyprus’s outstanding debt to just 77 per cent of economic output, compared with 140 per cent in the current full bailout plan.
Labelled “strictly confidential” and distributed to eurozone officials last week, the memo says the radical version of the plan – including a “haircut” of 50 per cent on sovereign bonds – would shrink the Cypriot financial sector, now nearly eight times larger than the island’s economy, by about one-third by 2015.
But the authors warn such drastic action could restart contagion in eurozone financial markets, and put forward two more cautious alternatives.