In 2013, the banks of Cyprus confiscated the deposits of many of their clients. There was no warning, and there was little in the way of explanation, except to say that it was "necessary," as the banks had been mismanaged to the point that, unless the deposits were confiscated, the banks would fail.
Governments and banks the world over nodded in agreement. This was clearly the right thing to do.
But, hang on a moment. The depositors had entrusted the banks with the safeguarding of their wealth. This was a case of theft. The bankers had, in effect, robbed the banks.
At that time, I wrote on the subject, stating that, by endorsing the theft as "necessary," the banks and governments of the world had given the act their seal of approval.
Well, of course they would. They're all in the confiscation business, jointly and severally. Their approval is much the same as a sheep and two wolves voting on what will be had for dinner. With the depositor in the role of the sheep, the outcome of the vote is pre-ordained.
And yet, partly because the "respectable" banks and governments publicly agreed with the theft and partly because Cyprus is just a tiny, inconsequential island, the people of the larger world accepted the concept that, when a bank gets itself in trouble, it should have the authority to rob its depositors in order to create a bail-in.
The precedent has been set. And, for this reason, we can, in future, expect banks and governments to further pillage those who are foolish enough to store their wealth in banks.
As I've mentioned in previous essays, the EU now has a bail-in law that allows any bank within the EU to confiscate deposits if it unilaterally decides that it's in an "emergency" situation. This law was passed in 2014. Canada had already passed its bail-in law in 2013, and the US pre-empted the trend by passing its bail-in law in 2010—three years prior to the Cyprus theft. Cyprus was therefore the trial balloon to see if the banks and governments could pull off such a theft without causing rebellion. They were imminently successful and therefore opened the door for further confiscation.
But what form will that take? As I suggested at the time, we should expect that the most obvious next step would be the confiscation of the contents of safety deposit boxes located in banks, and, indeed, there have been EU countries that have made inroads into this area.
And, in the US in April 2015, Chase Bank advised clients who rent safe deposit boxes that the storage of "cash or coins other than those found to have a collectible value" was no longer acceptable.