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
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
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: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor