End Time Bible Prophecy

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End Time Bible Prophecy

Greece left without ferries, trains for a day as unions hold May Day strike

Associated Press

Ferry and train services in Greece have ground to a halt as unions hold a strike for May Day.

And hundreds of people are gathering for planned rallies in central Athens Wednesday.

The country’s main labor unions are protesting soaring unemployment, which is the highest in the 27-country European Union, and the austerity measures the government is enacting in return for crucial bailout loans.

Greece nearly went bankrupt in 2010 and has since depended on money from its euro partners and the International Monetary Fund, granted on condition the government pursues deep spending cuts and wide-ranging economic reforms.

While the austerity has succeeded in reducing high budget deficits, it has been at a huge cost. The country is now in its sixth year of a deep recession.


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Greek bank shares plunge after merger plans called off

Greek cash machine
Greek banks are looking for fresh funds

Shares in Greek banks have fallen up to 30% after plans to merge two of them were called off on fears the new entity would be too big to manage.

National Bank of Greece (NBG) and Eurobank fell by 30% in morning trade, while Alpha and Piraeus lost up to 20%.

On Sunday, a finance ministry source said a planned merger would not now go ahead, although the four would be recapitalised.

There had been fears a merged bank would be too dominant in the market.

Recapitalising the banks is a condition of Greece receiving support from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Greek central bank said: “The Bank of Greece confirms that the recapitalisation process for the four systemic banks [National Bank, Alpha, Eurobank and Piraeus] is proceeding normally and will conclude in April in any case.”

It went on to say that all four banks had either already called or were set to call shareholder meetings to approve capital increases.

National Bank and Eurobank were several months into their merger process.

Greece’s creditors – the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank – had said they were worried a new NBG-Eurobank entity would not only have about 40% of the Greek market, but would be hard to recapitalise.

The Bank of Greece announcement came after new talks between creditors and the Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras.

The creditors’ report will decide whether the country will receive a loan of 2.8bn euros, which had been hoped for since March.

The Greek Finance Minister, Yannis Stournaras, sounded confident the new money would be granted soon: “I believe that we will reach an agreement in the next few days.”

Alpha Bank has called an emergency meeting of shareholders for Thursday, with Piraeus Bank arranging its meeting for Friday.


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IMF Urges Economic Death Blow with Gasoline Carbon Tax

April 3, 2013

Following the criminal plot by the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank to steal billions from depositors in Cyprus, the banksters have hatched a new plan to steal trillions, level the economic playing field and force millions into grinding poverty.

In order to save the earth and pay for social programs supposedly designed to help the victims of our alleged carbon crimes, the IMF says we need to pay an extra $1.40 per gallon in taxes.

“The time has come for subsidy reform and carbon taxation,” declared the IMF’s deputy director, David Lipton, last week. “The IMF will draw attention to the issue and help those who want to go forward.”

The IMF says impoverishing more people through burdensome taxation will reduce traffic jams and accidents by discouraging driving.

Gas in the U.S. is currently between $3.26 and $4.00 per gallon and the proposed IMF tax, if adopted, would inflict further damage on the economy.

“Good grief!” exclaimed Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “Higher gas prices hit those who can least afford it the most as American families are forced to pay a larger percentage of their income on higher energy prices.

“Drivers across the country are already struggling to pay up to $4.00 a gallon for gas, and further price increases at the pump could be devastating to low and middle-class families and disastrous to our economic recovery. Instead of finding way to make gas more expensive, our focus needs to be on finding solutions to keep energy prices affordable.”


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Cyprus secures bailout, avoids bankruptcy

Protesters hold a banner during an anti- bailout rally outside of European Union house in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Sunday, March 24, 2013. After failing for a week to find a solution to a crisis that could force their country into bankruptcy, Cypriot politicians turned to the European Union on Sunday in a last-ditch effort to help the island nation forge a viable plan to secure an international bailout. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)


BRUSSELS (AP) — Cyprus secured a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) package of rescue loans in tense, last-ditch negotiations early Monday, saving the country from a banking system collapse and bankruptcy.

“We’ve put an end to the uncertainty that has affected Cyprus and the euro area over the past week,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the meetings of the 17-nation eurozone’s finance ministers.

In return for the bailout, Cyprus must drastically shrink its outsized banking sector, cut its budget, implement structural reforms and privatize state assets, he said.

The cash-strapped Mediterranean island nation has been shut out of international markets for almost two years. It needs the bailout to recapitalize its ailing lenders and keep the government afloat. The European Central Bank had threatened to cut crucial emergency assistance to the country’s banks by Tuesday without an agreement.

Without a deal by Monday night, the tiny Mediterranean island nation of about 1 million would have faced the prospect of bankruptcy, which could have forced it to become the first country to abandon the euro currency. That precedent would have roiled markets and spurred turmoil across the entire eurozone of 300 million people, analysts said, even though Cyprus only makes up less than 0.2 percent of the eurozone’s 10 trillion euro economy.

The finance ministers accepted the plan reached in 10 hours of negotiations in Brussels between Cypriot officials and the so-called troika of creditors: the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

“We believe that this will form a lasting, durable and fully financed solution,” said IMF chief Christine Lagarde.

Under the plan, Cyprus’ second-largest bank, Laiki, will be restructured and holders of bank deposits of more than 100,000 euros will have to take losses, Dijsselbloem said, adding that it was not yet clear how severe the losses would be.

“This will have to be worked out in the coming weeks,” he added, noting that it is expected to yield 4.2 billion euros overall. Analysts have estimated investors might lose up to 40 percent of their money.

Savers’ deposits with all Cypriot banks of up to 100,000 euros will be guaranteed by the state in accordance with the EU’s deposit insurance guarantee, Dijsselbloem said. Laiki will be dissolved immediately into a bad bank containing its uninsured deposits and toxic assets, with the guaranteed deposits being transferred to the nation’s biggest lender, Bank of Cyprus.

Large deposits with Bank of Cyprus above the insured level will be frozen until it becomes clear whether or to what extent they will also be forced to take losses, the Eurogroup of finance ministers said in a statement.

Dijsselbloem defended the creditors’ approach to make deposit holders take heavy losses, saying the measures “will be concentrated where the problems are, in the large banks.”

The international creditors, led by the IMF, were seeking a fundamental restructuring of the outsized financial system, which is worth up to eight times the country’s gross domestic product of about 18 billion euros. They said the country’s business model of attracting foreign investors, among them many Russians, with low taxes and lax financial regulation has backfired and must be upended.

For Cyprus, the drastic shrinking of its financial sector, the loss of confidence with the recent turmoil and the upcoming austerity measures means that the country is facing tough times.

“The near future will be very difficult for the country and its people,” acknowledged the EU Commission’s top economic official Olli Rehn. “But (the measures) will be necessary for the Cypriot people to rebuild their economy on a new basis.”

To secure a rescue loan package, Nicosia had to find ways to raise several billion euros so it could qualify for the 10 billion euro bailout package. The bulk of that money is now being raised by forcing losses on large deposit holders, with the remainder coming from tax increases and privatizations. The creditors had insisted that Cyprus couldn’t receive more loans because that would make its debt burden unsustainably high.

A plan agreed to in marathon negotiations earlier this month called for a one-time levy on all bank depositors in Cypriot banks. But the proposal ignited fierce anger among Cypriots because it also targeted small savers. It failed to win a single vote in the Cypriot Parliament.

In an illustration of the depth of the fear of a banking collapse, Cyprus’ central bank on Sunday imposed a daily withdrawal limit of 100 euros ($130) from ATMs of the country’s two largest banks to prevent a bank run by depositors worried about their savings.

Cypriot banks have been closed this past week while officials worked on a rescue plan, and they are not due to reopen until Tuesday. Cash has been available through ATMs, but long lines formed and many machines have quickly run out of cash.

The Cypriot government also voted a set of laws over the past week to introduce capital controls, to avoid a huge depositor flight once its banks will reopen.

After the eurozone’s finance ministers’ approval, several national parliaments in eurozone countries such as Germany then must also approve the bailout deal, which might take another few weeks. EU officials said they expect the whole program to be approved by mid-April.


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Tensions are rising as bank workers protest outside the parliament in Nicosia, Cyprus

ECB ratchets up pressure as party leaders met to agree a package that would satisfy its eurozone partners and the IMF

Tensions are rising as bank workers protest outside the parliament in Nicosia, Cyprus

Tensions are rising as bank workers protest outside the parliament in Nicosia, Cyprus. Photograph: Andreas Manolis/REUTERS

The Guardian, Thursday 21 March 2013

Cypriot politicians were racing to agree details of a “plan B” to rescue their economy on Thursday night, after the European Central Bank threatened to withdraw support for the country’s banking sector if a bailout was not agreed by Monday.

The country’s second-largest bank, Laiki, is to be restructured as part of the plan. It will avert bankrupcy and protect savers with up to €100,000, according to the country’s central bank governor, Panicos Demetriades.

The move came hours after the ECB ratcheted up the pressure on Nicosia as party leaders met to agree a package that would satisfy its eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund. Tensions were rising on the streets, with crowds of bank workers demonstrating near the parliament building in Nicosia following reports that its second largest lender, Laiki, would be shut down and split into a good and bad bank.

On Thursday afternoon the president, Nicos Anastasiades, said parliament would receive a bill by the end of the night, outlining the creation of a state investment fund to meet the ECB’s ultimatum to raise billions of euros or face the loss of the bailout money and the collapse of its banking sector.

Another bill will pave the way for the imposition of capital controls – restrictions on taking money out of the country’s banks – according to reports from Nicosia.

The ECB confirmed it would not provide emergency liquidity assistance to the island’s banking sector beyond 25 March, unless a bailout had been agreed. Without its support, Cyprus‘s two largest banks, Bank of Cyprus and Laiki, could collapse.

There were lengthy queues at many Laiki cash machines on Thursday as banks and the domestic stock market remained closed.

The eurogroup of finance ministers were scheduled to hold a conference call from 6pm GMT on Thursday to discuss the situation in Cyprus.

Cypriot political leaders were involved in emergency talks on Thursday morning to find a way to raise the €6bn (£5.1bn) demanded by the IMF and EU in return for a €10bn bailout.

Averof Neophytou, the deputy leader of the ruling Disy party, confirmed the leaders had agreed to create the solidarity fund. Details of the scheme were not released, but it was believed the fund could use Cyprus’s energy resources as collateral, or include state assets, pension funds or the property of the Church of Cyprus. A vote on the package could come as early as Thursday night.

Parliamentary speaker Yiannakis Omirou, who leads the small Edek socialist party, said the issue of taxing bank deposits had not been discussed during the meeting, suggesting a savings levy could be off the agenda.

Two days ago, the parliament rejected the plan for a 6.75% tax on savers with more than €20,000 in the bank, rising to 9.9% for those with more than €100,000.

The ECB said a continuation of its emergency liquidity assistance “could only be considered if an EU/IMF programme is in place that would ensure the solvency of the concerned banks”.

Speaking after the ECB issued its ultimatum, Cyprus’s central bank governor said he was confident the country would reach a deal in time. “We will have a programme of support for Cyprus by Monday,” said Demetriades.

The Cypriot finance minister, Michael Sarris, has been in Moscow since Tuesday in an attempt to secure a rescue package, but hopes for a Kremlin-brokered deal appeared to be fading, as negotiations between Sarris and his Russian counterpart looked set to enter a third day with no results.

For the first time, Nicosia showed a public willingness to offer access to financial assets and gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean as part of any agreement. “Understandably, if there is to be help, it has to be connected with a number of economic activities,” said Sarris ahead of discussions with Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov.

Russian officials have sought to downplay talk of large amounts of corrupt cash flowing through Cyprus, but the Mediterranean island is thought to play a key role in Russian money laundering operations.

The Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medevdev, has intensified his criticism of the idea of a compulsory levy on deposits in Cyprus, where Russian citizens are estimated to hold up to $19bn, and said the plan “looked like theft”.

Medvedev interrupted a conference in Moscow to read the news from his iPad that the Cypriot parliament had decided to drop the compulsory tax proposal — and the announcement was met with applause and shouts of “hurrah!” from delegates.

Despite alarm over possible expropriation, the Cypriot appeal to Moscow has given Russia an unprecedented opportunity to exert influence in an internal European Union matter. “It’s an opportunity for the Russians to make a major play,” said one western banker in Moscow.

But the parameters of any deal remain unclear. State-owned gas giant Gazprom is unlikely to be interested in operating Cypriot gas fields in the context of an over-supplied European market, according to Ildar Davletshin, an oil and gas analyst at Renaissance Capital in Moscow.

Russia’s three biggest state-owned banks — Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank — have all denied they are interested in buying financial assets in Cyprus.

Cyprus has recently discovered significant offshore gas deposits, and major energy companies have shown an interest in tapping those resources.

With the Monday deadline imposed by the ECB, time is running out for Cyprus to conclude an agreement with the Kremlin, according to Dmitry Polevoy, ING Bank’s chief economist in Russia. “All these deals [involving energy or banking assets] require intensive due diligence processes … and usually require much more time than Cyprus has,” he said.

“But Russia is a country of surprises and nobody knows what is really at stake and whose money is at risk,” he added.

Medvedev also sought to find more unorthodox benefits for Russia in Cyprus’s crisis. The Kremlin should develop islands, including the Kurils and Sakhalin, off the country’s far east Pacific coast as alternative offshore banking destinations, Medvedev said.

Russian sovereignty of the Kuril Islands is disputed by Japan, while Sakhalin is the site of a former Tsarist penal colony.

The implementation of such a plan would have “ruinous consequences for Russia’s financial system,” former finance minister Aleksei Kudrin wrote on Twitter.


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A Mad Dash to Cyprus Banks and ATMs!

Residents rush to pull money from Cyprus banks as EU takes aim at Russian deposits

Cypriot banks and ATMs faced a run until they were ordered closed while the Parliament figures out how to satisfy demands of euro zone leaders. (AP)
Cypriots rushed to pull their money out of banks and ATMs before the tiny Mediterranean nation’s government could finalize a plan to seize depositors’ funds to satisfy austerity demands from euro zone leaders, sparking a run that prompted banks to be closed until at least Thursday.The island nation’s leaders were huddling to come up with a way to soften the blow on average depositors, with one proposal targeting accounts with deposits above $130,000. The plan elicited an angry response from Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose nation’s oligarchs may have as much as $19 billion secretly deposited in Cyprus banks.

“The European Union essentially opened a Pandora’s box.”

– Mikhail Prokhorov, Russian billionaire

“Putin said that this decision, in case of its adoption, will be unfair, unprofessional and dangerous,” Russian news agencies quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

The Brussels-based euro zone agreed on Saturday to give Cyprus a $13 billion bailout, but demanded levies that would take between 6.75 and 9.9 percent of bank deposits.

Analysts believe the measure is designed to ensure that the bailout doesn’t go toward propping up Russia‘s billionaires – including Putin himself.

“It is clear that (Cyprus) is under tremendous pressure from the European Union,” Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov told Interfax.

The $19 billion figure comes from Moody’s, and would account for as much as half of all Cypriot deposits. Cyprus’ bank deposits dwarf by 8-to-1 the gross domestic product of the nation of 1 million, indicating a dangerously oversized banking system stuffed with foreign cash. And Cypriot banks are invested heavily in Greek government bonds, which were restructured last year at the EU’s demand, incurring big losses on bondholders.

News of the coming bank accounts seizure sent shockwaves rippling through Europe and beyond. Not only did it spook wealthy foreigners who have long parked money in the island nation’s banks, it was seen as possibly setting the stage for similar grabs in bigger nations within the troubled euro zone.

“If I were a saver, certainly in Spain or maybe Italy, I think I’d be looking askance at these measures and think this could yet happen to me,” Peter Dixon, global financial economist at Commerzbank, told Reuters.

The Cypriot Parliament put off a vote on the measure until Tuesday in order to blunt the pain for small savers. But without the EU bailout, Cyprus would be headed for default, according to experts. If depositors – especially the foreigners who have made Cyprus the Cayman Islands of Eastern Europe, pull their money from banks, action by the European Central Bank may be all that can stop regional contagion. The Cypriot central bank announced all banks will remain closed until Thursday while talks on the savings seizure continue.

Russian mining tycoon and owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets Mikhail Prokhorov said euro zone leaders “had set a real financial mine under the idea of a single Europe.”

“And this is not because it touches Russian business, which can afford to lose $2 [billion] or $3 billion,” Prokhorov told the Kommersant business daily. “The European Union essentially opened a Pandora’s box.”

Some analysts say the move could send billions in Russian deposits to safer havens, such as Luxembourg, leaving Cyprus no way to pay down its bailout.

“The unhappiest of the Russians will simply look for other places to put their money,” Paragone Advisory Group analyst Alexander Zakharov told the Global Post.


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