It is clear now that the crossing of the Rubicon into the confiscation of depositor funds was not a one-off emergency measure limited to Cyprus. We can only speculate as to what triggered these new rules. Perhaps the public would no longer tolerate the use of taxpayer-funds to effect bailouts of banks? Maybe this is the beginning of an attack on offshore banking havens? Or possibly the regulators are hoping to impose some market discipline on the banks, forcing depositors to review bank balance sheets before opening an account. Regardless of motivation this is a game changer.

So what is the impact of this `template' for investors? By law, when you put your money into a deposit account, your money becomes a liability of the bank. Above an insured amount, you become an `unsecured creditor' with a claim against the assets of a bank if it were to fail; your deposits are now pooled with other assets and divided amongst other creditors. We urge investors to consider any deposits above the insured amounts to be only as safe as the credit-worthiness and capital structure of the bank indicates. Only by understanding where you are in the creditor `pecking order' will you avoid a `Dijssel-Bomb' in the next phase of the on-going financial crisis.

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