Banks braced as King Eric's day of reckoning arrives

The world's banks will collapse tomorrow when millions of people withdraw their money simultaneously to "destroy" the system. Or maybe not.

It all began two months ago with a muddled interview on a French regional newspaper website by Eric Cantona, the footballer turned film actor. Cantona, 44, suggested that it was time for a "bloodless" revolt against capitalism. "If 20 million people withdraw their money, the system collapses, no need for weapons, blood, or anything," he said. Was this a joke? Had Eric, the sardine philosopher, become a cod revolutionary?

More than 34,000 people around the world, mainly in France, Italy and Britain, have taken Cantona's big idea seriously. They have pledged their support to internet sites which have called for a co-ordinated "bank run" tomorrow. Another 27,000 are said to be "considering" joining in.

Politicians and bankers, who initially ignored the growing "buzz" surrounding the Cantona bank raid, have been making increasingly jittery remarks in recent days. They say there is no danger that the banking system will collapse, even if the super-wealthy Cantona withdraws all his own millions (which he insists that he will). They fear, nonetheless, that mass demands for cash could gum up the system in some countries and cause, at least local, liquidity problems.

"This is grotesque and irresponsible," said François Baroin, the French budget minister. Baudoin Prot, the head of the biggest French bank, BNP Paribas, said the Cantona appeal was "ill-judged and counter-productive" and could leave cash-hoarding protesters vulnerable to muggings and burglaries.

Hard-left politicians in France initially welcomed the idea of the 7 December banque attaque. They cooled their support after the idea also won the backing of politicians on the extreme nationalist right. It is doubtful whether Cantona – who has made millions from his football and acting careers and a string of TV ads for razors, sportswear and tea – expected to start a revolution. The former Manchester United striker's interview with Presse Océan on 7 October, which has become a big hit on YouTube, starts incoherently but then becomes portentous.

"If you want to talk about revolution, there is no point in taking up arms and killing people," he says. "There is something very simple we can do. The system is based on the power of the banks. If 20 million people withdraw their money, the system collapses. No need for weapons, or blood or anything."

His idea was taken up a month ago by a scriptwriter called Geraldine Feuillién, who created a website called Bankrun2010. The idea of mass cash withdrawals on 7 December has since spread all over the world. Asked if he would be taking part, Cantona told the French newspaper Libération last week: "In view of the strange solidarity which is developing ... yes I will be there on 7 December".

Ms Feuillié* insists that the international banking system is so weak that even a small bank-run – much smaller than the 20 million people envisaged by Cantona – could have devastating consequences. "The system is already clinically dead," she said. "Even a partial success could bring the banks down because Europe especially is short of liquidity."

Not so, insist the French banks. Most banks around the world have limits on how much cash you can withdraw without giving several day's notice, they point out. There has been no surge of advance requests.

Is Eric Cantona about to enter economic as well as footballing history? Or will he score an own goal? Answer when the banks open tomorrow.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor