Big-money bank depositors in the European Union have good reason to believe their funds will be targeted when the next group of banks require bailouts, given the remarks made Saturday by Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs and the euro.
In an interview with Yle, Finland's national public-service broadcasting company, Rehn described the European Commission's current draft of a directive on bank safety that would incorporate the issue of investor liability in member states' legislation, according to Reuters.
"Cyprus was a special case," Rehn said, referring to the €10 billion ($13 billion) bailout the Mediterranean island country was provided last month by the so-called troika: the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund. "[B]ut the upcoming directive assumes that investor and depositor liability will be carried out in case of a bank restructuring or a wind-down."
Rehn added: "[T]here is a very clear hierarchy, at first the shareholders, then possibly the unprotected investments and deposits. However, the limit of €100,000 [$130,000] is sacred: Deposits smaller than that are always safe."
In the Cyprus situation, of course, deposits smaller than that were not always safe, as the nation's government initially attempted to raid them as well as deposits larger than that -- even though deposits of less than €100,000 are supposedly protected by state guarantees -- before widespread protests forced it to give up that plan.