The Cypriot capital of Nicosia resembled the set of a Hollywood heist film this morning. Hours before banks re-opened in Cyprus, the city was swarming with helicopters and heavily armed police, as container trucks full of euros were ferried to branch offices that had been closed for 10 days.
The banks re-opened at noon Cyprus time (10 am GMT, 6 am ET) under strict capital controls designed to prevent an exodus of cash that would undo the work of eurozone policymakers and the IMF, who signed a bailout deal with Cyprus on Sunday evening. Customers will be limited to 300 euros a day in cash withdrawals, and cash checking will be banned. The Cyprus central bank will review all commercial transactions over 5,000 euros and individual transactions of 200,000 euros or more; people leaving Cyprus can take no more than 3,000 euros with them.
The scenes outside banks was mostly quiet, with reporters outnumbering customersin many cases. Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones reporter Matina Stevis tweeted: “Hack to old lady: ‘are you tying to get money out?’ Old lady to hack: ‘it’s none of your business.’”