The U.S. government and the Russian government have both been forced into positions where neither one of them can afford to back down. If Barack Obama backs down, he will be greatly criticized for being "weak" and for having been beaten by Vladimir Putin once again. If Putin backs down, he will be greatly criticized for being "weak" and for abandoning the Russians that live in Crimea. In essence, Obama and Putin find themselves trapped in a macho game of "chicken" and critics on both sides stand ready to pounce on the one who backs down. But this is not just an innocent game of "chicken" from a fifties movie. This is the real deal, and if nobody backs down the entire world will pay the price. (Read More....)
Is the U.S. economy steamrolling toward another recession? Will 2014 turn out to be a major "turning point" when we look back on it? Before we get to the evidence, it is important to note that there are many economists that believe that the United States never actually got out of the last recession. For example, data compiled by John Williams of shadowstats.com show that the U.S. economy has continually been in recession since 2005. So if anyone out there would like to argue that America is experiencing a recession right now, I certainly would not have a problem with that. In fact, that would fit with the daily reality of tens of millions of Americans that are deeply suffering in this harsh economic environment. But no matter whether we are in a "recession" at the moment or not, there are an increasing number of indications that we are rapidly plunging into another major economic slowdown. The following are the top 12 signs that the U.S. economy is heading toward another recession... (Read More....)
The Obama administration and the hotheads in Congress are threatening to hit Russia with "economic sanctions" for moving troops into Crimea. Yes, those sanctions would sting a little bit, but what our politicians should be made aware of is the fact that Russian officials are promising "to respond" if economic sanctions are imposed on them. As you will read about below, one top Kremlin adviser is even suggesting that Russia could abandon the U.S. dollar and start dumping U.S. debt. In addition, he is also suggesting that if sanctions are imposed that Russian companies would not repay the debts that they owe U.S. banks. Needless to say, Russia could do far more economic damage to the United States than the United States could do to Russia. The U.S. financial system relies on the fact that the rest of the planet is going to use our currency to trade with one another and lend gigantic piles of it back to us at super low interest rates. If the rest of the world starts changing their behavior, we are going to be in a massive amount of trouble. Those that believe that the United States is "economically independent" are being quite delusional. (Read More....)
So much for "isolating" Russia. The Chinese government is publicly siding with Russia on the crisis in Ukraine, and that is very bad news for the United States. Not only does it mean that the U.S. is essentially powerless to do anything about the situation in Ukraine, it also means that Russia and China are starting to understand how much economic leverage that they really have. Yes, the Obama administration can threaten to slap "sanctions" on Russia or threaten to kick Russia "out of the G8", but those actions would not actually hurt too much. On the other hand, Russia and China hold approximately 25 percent of all foreign-owned U.S. debt, and if they started massively dumping U.S. debt it could rapidly create a nightmare scenario. In addition, it is important to remember that Russia is the largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest exporter of oil in the world. And China now imports more oil than anyone else on the planet does, including the United States. If Russia and China got together and decided to kill the petrodollar, they could do it almost overnight. So when it comes to Ukraine, it is definitely not the United States that has the leverage. (Read More....)
Russia will never, ever give up Crimea without a fight. Anyone that thinks otherwise is just being delusional. The Russian Black Sea fleet's main base at Sevastopol is far too strategically important. In addition, ethnic Russians make up approximately 60 percent of the population of Crimea, and most of the population is rabidly pro-Russian. In fact, many prominent Crimean politicians are already calling for reunification with Russia. So if you have been thinking that Russia is just going to fold up shop and go home now that pro-European protesters have violently seized power in Kiev, you can quit holding your breath. The truth is that Russia is more than willing to fight a war over Crimea. And considering the fact that vitally important pipelines that pump natural gas from Russia to the rest of Europe go right through Ukraine, it is not likely that Russia will just willingly hand the rest of Ukraine over to the U.S. and the EU either. If the U.S. and the EU push too hard in Ukraine, a major regional war may erupt which could ultimately lead to something much larger.
According to a stunning new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly a third of all food produced in the United States gets wasted. We are probably the most wasteful society in the history of the planet, and we are also one of the most gluttonous. More than 35 percent of all Americans are considered to be officially "obese" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, this era of gluttony and taking food for granted will soon be coming to an end. Thanks to crippling drought in key growing areas and other extremely bizarre weather patterns, a massive food crisis is beginning to emerge all over the planet. If you don't think that this is going to affect you, then you simply are not paying attention. Approximately half of all produce grown in the United States comes from the state of California, and right now California is suffering through the worst stretch of drought on record. Food prices are going to start soaring, and that is going to affect the household budget of every family in America. (Read More....)
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that has no intrinsic value. The only thing giving bitcoin value is the faith that people have in it, and now that faith has been shattered. This week, the most prominent bitcoin exchange in the entire world, Mt. Gox, totally collapsed. At one time, Mt. Gox boasted more than a million accounts and it accounted for approximately 25 percent of all global bitcoin trading. But now the website has been taken down, there are rumors of catastrophic losses, and many investors are concerned that they will lose all of their money. In fact, according to one report, investors could be facing total losses of up to 367 million dollars. The collapse of Mt. Gox is also affecting other bitcoin exchanges. As I write this, the market value of bitcoin had fallen to about $470, but just three months ago it was trading close to $1,200. Needless to say, a lot of bitcoin investors are going to be licking their wounds tonight. (Read More....)