Two Questions on Stocks and Cyprus
CNBC "On-Air Stocks" Editor
Two questions about Monday's action:
1) Why was there no market freak-out, no bank runs?
A lot has been made that the Cypriot situation is "unique" and cannot be applied to rest of the euro area. Yes—and no.
The overwhelming response from traders has been: No freak-out because everyone believes the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank is backstopping everything. Most believe that if push comes to shove, the ECB will print as much money as it needs ... even if it means using that money to pay depositors. Even if it means putting funds back into banks to replace the lost deposits.
(Read More: Cyprus Gives the Fed More Reasons to Buy Bonds)
The problem with Cyprus, of course, is that Cyprus can't print money by itself. All it can do is tax, so it did what they had to do.
2) What does this mean for future euro banking crises?
My own take is that this is a precursor, a shot across the bow, to how additional restructuring of bank and sovereign debt might occur in Europe. It will include depositors, or at least a certain class of depositors.
Let's start with a simple legal statement: A bank depositor is an unsecured creditor.
I think there will be additional bail-ins of unsecured bank creditors in other countries, including depositors.
Yes, it was a blunder to include insured depositors (with deposits below 100,000 euros, or about $130,000). It's unlikely other countries will follow suit, and there's a chance even Cyprus will remove the tax on insured depositors.
But for those above the insured limits of 100,000 euros, it is quite possible that other European countries will begin to insist that they too bear the burden of bank restructuring.
(Read More: Cyprus Bank Levy Unlikely to Pass Parliament)
That's what this is about, ultimately: The restructuring of debt. Europe is still in the early phases of restructuring a lot of debt, both sovereign and bank debt. The pain, I think, is going to be spread out a little wider than some anticipated.
Right now, there is no common authority that exists for bank and sovereign debt restructurings. One is certainly needed. Europe needs to recapitalize its banks.
—By CNBC's Bob Pisani