Banks in Cyprus re-opened today for the first time in nearly two weeks, but the only "bank run" that has developed is the crush of reporters hoping to document the (non-existent) chaos. For many citizens, the opening of the banks means the first time since March 16 that they've had access to their money or any financial transaction too complicated for an ATM. Yet, despite that long closure, lines were calm and (reasonably) short and any fears of a bank panic quickly subsided.
For journalists covering the bailout news from Cyprus, however, it quickly became a cliché that the crowds of photographers trying taking pictures of the lines far outnumbered the people actually waiting in line.
I know it's early, but so far this 'bank run' has something of the Monty Python about it... twitter.com/JoeWSJ/status/…— Joe Parkinson (@JoeWSJ) March 28, 2013
Part of the reason for calm is the strict capitol controls that were put in place earlier this week to prevent customers from emptying their accounts out of panic. Customers have been given daily withdrawal limit of €300 (about $385). For the next week, Depositors are not allowed to cash checks. If you leave Cyprus, you can't take more than 1,000 euros with you. Most onerous of all, any transaction of more than 5,000 euros, must be approved by central bank committee that was just created today. That's an obnoxious set of caveats, but it does appear to have had its intended effect.
Another reason for the lack of riots in the streets is that old adage, that no one goes to banks anymore, because they're too crowded. People were expecting long lines, so they stayed home ... which means there's no lines. As one Cypriot told AFP, "There's going to be queues so I'm not going to spend so many hours there to get 300 euros."