Nightly News   |  March 24, 2013

Financial chaos continues in Cyprus

The banks in Cyprus have been closed for nine days now, meaning more long lines at ATMs and a run on the country’s supermarkets. NBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera reports.

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>>> imagine for a moment that the u.s. government closed all the banks for more than a week, tried to impose a huge tax on large deposits and restricted how much cash you could withdraw from an atm. that's exactly what's going on today in cyprus . a member of the eurozone as it tries to raise enough money to qualify for a big bail-out from european lenders. cnbc's michelle caruso-cabrera has the latest tonight from cyprus .

>> reporter: lester, all the banks on cyprus closed for nine days now. only the atms are working and just today they announced withdrawals would be limited to only 00 euros. but many of the machines don't have any money anyway. long lines all week at the atms of cyprus ' weakest bank. customers desperate to get as much cash as possible in case the bark collapses. at supermarkets, families stocking up. fearing shelves will soon be empty with all the banks closed, businesses can't pay for supplies and restock. buying so much, olga brought her two teenage sons to help.

>> well, we are concerned that there will be shortages of food. so it is definitely we want to make sure. i have a family, i have to feed my family.

>> reporter: tonight the president of cyprus in brussels headquarters of the european union begging for a bail-out for his country and its banks. no matter what, the country's once massive banking sector will shrink.

>> no pension, no money, nothing. nothing. nothing.

>> reporter: she and thousands of others at risk of losing their jobs.

>> this negotiation has been especially difficult because the europeans are tired of bailouts. cyprus is the fifth country to ask for money. but if they don't get a deal their economy collapses. businesses can't pay suppliers or employees if the banks stay closed. when it happened in argentina in 2001 , the people there were reduced to bartering for food.