Yellow Vests Initiate French Bank Run (#GotBitcoin?)
Reports are emerging that the anti-Emmanuel Macron protesters in France, known in English as the Yellow Vests, are planning to stage a bank run this weekend. Yellow Vests Initiate French Bank Run (#GotBitcoin?)
Although the changes of such an initiative bringing the government to its knees, as the demonstrators hope, are slim, what may very well be the first ever voluntary bank run in history could still be bullish for the price of Bitcoin.
Could Bitcoin Step in to Save the Wealth of those Impacted by the Yellow Vest Bank Run?
The gilets jaunes, to give the resistance group its correct title, is a group of French demonstrators opposed to President Macron. The movement of largely rural workers originally opposed to proposed tax increase on the price of fuel. The group’s name – the yellow vest in English – is a reference to the high-visibility jackets required by law to be carried in all vehicles in many parts of Europe. These also serve as a uniform for the movement. In recent weeks, the Yellow Vests have managed to obstruct transport all over France causing the nation to grind to halt frequently.
The protests have been ongoing since November last year. The latest escalation of the protest against Macron is a proposed bank run on January 12 at the start of the working day. According to local news outlet Capital, the idea was first proposed on social media by Yellow Vest sympathiser Tahz San. He posted:
“For Act 9, we will scare the state legally and without violence. (…) We all know that the powers of the country are not in the hands of the government but in those of the banks. If the banks weaken, the state weakens immediately. (…) Saturday we will all vote by withdrawing our money to impose the RIC (Referendum citizen initiative) urgently. The operation is scheduled for Saturday, January 12 at 8 am It will be reproduced the following month in case of failure.”
Following the spread of the idea around social media, one of the most prominent media figures of the group reportedly picked it up. Maxime “Fly Rider” Nicolle began promoting the initiative to thousands more followers yesterday.
It is interesting to see a “Tax Collectors’ Referendum”, as the event is being now being billed, being used attempted as a check on the power of government. One Twitter user has used stated this could serve as an ideal opportunity for Bitcoin to prove itself as a stateless store-of-value in the aftermath of a bank run leading to a widespread banking crisis in France.
Reports are saying that Yellow Vest Protestors in France which is 70% of the population is planning to withdraw all of their money from banks to destabilize the gov.
— Suprateek Bose (@SupraBo_) January 8, 2019
Unfortunately, it seems that the figures in the above Tweet are grossly overstated. There is nothing to indicate that 70% of the population identifies with the Yellow Vest movement. The report in Capital estimates that 126,000 people marched in support of the Yellow Vest movement last month. According to the publications calculations, even if all these people participated, it is unlikely that they would have the financial clout to put the banks at risk.
The head of macroeconomic research at Saxo Bank, Judge Christopher Dembik, stated of the movement’s latest economic offensive:
“Triggering a bank run requires huge queues at the counters, very honestly I think the strike force of yellow vests is too weak to destabilise the sector even at the margin.”
A Failed Bank Run Could Still Be Bullish For Bitcoin
Although experts seem to be in agreement that the likelihood of a French banking collapse this weekend is very low, it would be foolish to discount the fear that such an action instils in those not even aligned with the Yellow Vests. If enough of the moderate French population perceive enough risk posed by the bank run, they could preempt the proposed action and empty their accounts before Saturday morning, dramatically increasing the chances of the Yellow Vest initiative being successful.
However, even if a bank-toppling bank run does not force the French to buy Bitcoin en masse from their local tobacco shop, the threat of such an action could serve similar ends.
Banks have easy and effective ways to limit the impact of surges in demand for money from them. The simplest one is to impose withdrawal limits on accounts. If the fear of Saturday’s action causes a bank to impose a knee-jerk withdrawal limit to stop themselves being forced to reveal their empty coffers, those impacted may start to see the worth of an asset class that is entirely permissionless, trustless, and most importantly for the French Yellow Shirts, nothing to do with their national government. The imposition of such freedom-restricting policies in a Western economy serve to show even greater numbers of people the utility of Bitcoin.
French Government Says Strikes Won’t Force Pension Climbdown
Nationwide strike cripples transportation networks for second day; prime minister promises transition period.
The French government vowed to forge ahead with its plan to overhaul the country’s pensions system as France faced the second day of a massive strike that has paralyzed its cities and shut its schools.
Trains, subways and buses were still severely curtailed on Friday, and hundreds of domestic and regional flights were canceled. There were no demonstrations on Friday, but unions have warned the strike could last days and become one of the biggest in France in over two decades.
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said Friday that the government was determined to extend the number of years needed to collect a full pension and create a universal plan that would do away with the so-called special regimes enjoyed by French civil servants, including rail workers.
“We are going to have to work a bit longer. I don’t say it with a light heart but that is what is happening in other similar countries,” Mr. Philippe told reporters on Friday.
The strike represents a crucial test for President Emmanuel Macron, who has pledged to modernize France’s economy, despite simmering public anger against his reform agenda.
Mr. Philippe attempted to strike a conciliatory note by promising a transition period for workers nearing retirement age.
“It would not be reasonable, acceptable, to just change the rules halfway through the game,” Mr. Philippe said, without providing further details.
He also said that the government would ensure that teachers’ pensions don’t decline under the new system. The government plans to release details of the proposed pension changes on Wednesday.
Mr. Macron’s plans remain uncertain. He has said he wants people to work longer before collecting their pensions—now set at 43 years for a full pension—rather than raise the legal age of retirement of 62 years old. That retirement age remains lower than in most other OECD group of rich nations.
Mr. Macron also wants to consolidate France’s 42 different public-sector retirement plans—and their special benefits—into one universal system that he says would be more fair. Civil servants, in particular, fear they may lose advantages they have over private-sector employees.
So far, trade unions have showed little sign of relenting. Authorities expect traffic to remain severely disrupted throughout the weekend and on Monday. Some trade unions are also calling for nationwide protests on Tuesday.
“We won’t let go,” Catherine Perret, the leader of the far-left CGT trade union, said Friday.
About 806,000 protesters—including lawyers, teachers, students and air-traffic controllers—hit the streets across the country on Thursday, according to the French interior ministry.
Demonstrations were mainly peaceful, despite some clashes with police in Paris, where local authorities counted some 65,000 protesters. Some protesters threw stones at police, who responded by firing tear gas.
“We are just fighting to have a decent pension,” said Katia Benmohand, 26, who works in a public day-care center in the Paris region and joined protests on Thursday.