The small country of Cyprus is giving the world a grave reality check today by reminding everyone that government money is simply the people’s money redistributed as the European Union prepares to seize private bank account savings in order to bailout years of bad economic decisions.

The surprise decision by euro zone leaders to part-fund a bailout of Cyprus by taxing bank deposits sent shockwaves through financial markets on Monday, with shares and the bonds of struggling euro zone governments tumbling.

The bloc struck a deal on Saturday to hand Cyprus rescue loans worth 10 billion euros ($13 billion), but defied warnings – including from the European Central Bank – and imposed a levy that would see those with cash in the island’s banks lose between 6.75 and 9.9 percent of their money.

The initial response of investors was unambiguous. Shares lurched lower, the euro fell to a new three-month low, while safe-haven assets such as gold and German government bonds jumped.