Originally published February 4 2014
Bank runs imminent? HSBC restricts large cash withdrawals
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) A decision by a British banking giant to limit large cash withdrawals has some analysts worried that the financial institution, for some reason, is beginning to fear a run on money by the general public.
As reported by the BBC, a number of HSBC customers have recently been prevented from withdrawing larger sums because - and this is the disturbing part - "they could not provide evidence of why they wanted it."
Apparently, the reason "Because it's mine" isn't good enough. More from BBC:
Listeners have told Radio 4's Money Box they were stopped from withdrawing amounts ranging from 5,000 [pounds] to 10,000 [pounds].
HSBC admitted it has not informed customers of the change in policy, which was implemented in November.
The bank says it has now changed its guidance to staff.
Last fall, you might remember, several things were occurring, financially, in Europe. As noted by The New York Times:
-- In October, Ignazio Angeloni, head of the European Central Bank's financial stability division, was assigned the gargantuan task of "examining the books" of the EU's 130 or so largest banks. The paper called it an act of "financial triage aimed at determining which banks are sound and which are not." The undertaking, which was going to be difficult at best, was made even harder because, "[o]ver the last few years, the world's financial institutions have become black boxes, so opaquely complex that they are little understood by regulators or their own executives."
-- Greece's financial situation worsened, with the possibility of a potential bailout increasing dramatically. In order to qualify for any EU-financed bailout, Greece's government was forced to implement austerity measures that were unpopular with citizens. In neighboring Cyprus, as we reported at Natural News, the government helped itself to citizens' bank accounts, as a way to relieve its financial stress [http://www.naturalnews.com].
-- In November, the European Central Bank, "in an unexpectedly swift reaction to economic warning signals, cut its benchmark interest rate to record low of 0.25 percent, from 0.5 percent." The move was seen as an emergency measure taken to head off what a number of economists believed could be a sustained period of stagnation, as is being experienced by Japan, the world's third-largest economy.
-- Earlier this month, Europe's economic recovery was called "tentative," and the EU Central Bank announced that it was ready to take, in the Times' words, "decisive action" in order to keep said recovery afloat. But unemployment across the continent remains high, and high taxes in many of the largest economies, like France, are making further recovery efforts more difficult.
Brits upset; bank reverses course
Which brings us back to Great Britain, and HSBC's "no large cash withdrawal" rule. It's no more.
In an announcement following a host of negative customer feedback, the bank said:
We ask our customers about the purpose of large cash withdrawals when they are unusual and out of keeping with the normal running of their account. Since last November, in some instances we may have also asked these customers to show us evidence of what the cash is required for.
The reason being we have an obligation to protect our customers, and to minimize the opportunity for financial crime. However, following feedback, we are immediately updating guidance to our customer facing staff to reiterate that it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals, and on its own, failure to show evidence is not a reason to refuse a withdrawal. We are writing to apologize to any customer who has been given incorrect information and inconvenienced.
Then, why the rule to begin with? Perhaps the EU's nervousness regarding its tenuous economic position provides enough clues.
Clearly the European Union is continuing to have economic problems. Limiting large cash withdrawals usually only has one purpose - to avoid draining banks of cash reserves. And the only time that citizens en masse withdraw their cash is when they believe that economic conditions are getting so bad, or are about to get so bad, that they are in danger of seeing their money vanish. Or be confiscated.
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