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Call for Bank Run and Go to Jail

This arrived in my in box from Olav Dirkmaat :

I’m from the Netherlands and the most outrageous press release was made by two Dutch ministers (of Finance and Safety & Justice) which I think belong on the Mises.org blog.

2010 is coming to its end, but it seems that the Netherlands were just in time to compete for the prize of epic fail of the year. Dutch ministers De Jager (Finance) and Opstelten (Safety & Justice) are proposing new legislation that criminalizes a public call for a run on a bank. Offenders could face a prison sentence of up to four years and an additional monetary penalty of up to 19,000 EUR.

According to the ministers, “banks are sensitive to such calls and deserve protection through criminal law”. With the criminalization of a call for bank runs, these government officials want to “protect the stability of the banking system”. They refer to the fact that “banks can only function when depositors and creditors have complete trust in the bank. Whenever this trust goes away, a bank can go bankrupt”. Well, doh. But where do they think trust comes from? A guardian angel from heaven?

But the worst is yet to come. They state in a press release that: “public-made remarks that could potentially result in a collapse of a bank, are extremely condemnable and should be criminalized”. With such a broad definition of “a call for a run on the bank”, it seems just a matter of time before the Mises blog and my own blog (www.globaliteit.nl) face criminal charges on publishing opinions that “could possibly lead to a bank collapse”.

Do you consider this to be unlikely or a joke? A judge in the Netherlands already demanded The Pirate Bay (a torrent website) to make their website inaccessible for Dutch Internet users, due to “severe intellectual property infringements”.

Let’s start a small competition. What is the next step of governments to increase moral hazard in the banking industry? Winner gets a fresh bundle of Dutch tulips.


Contact Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Editorial Director of the American Institute for Economic Research. He is author of It's a Jetsons World: Private Miracles and Public Crimes and Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo. Send him mail.

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