Hurricane Florence To Intensify “To Near Category 5 Strength” And There Are 12 Nuclear Power Reactors In The Carolinas

The latest forecast is projecting that Hurricane Florence will strengthen “to near category 5 strength” before it makes landfall in the Carolinas, and it is being called “a serious threat to lives and property”.  It is extremely rare for a hurricane of this intensity to come this far north, and one expert is claiming that Florence “has the potential to be the most destructive hurricane we’ve had in modern history for this region.”  At this time, the government is warning of “a life-threatening storm surge” of up to 20 feet or higher, “life-threatening freshwater flooding”, and “damaging hurricane-force winds”.  But there is another factor that not a lot of people are talking about.  There are 12 nuclear power reactors in the Carolinas, including two that are located right along the coast.

According to Google, there are 7 nuclear power reactors in South Carolina…

South Carolina hosts seven operating nuclear power reactors: Catawba Units 1 & 2, Oconee Units 1, 2 & 3, H. B.

And Google says that there are 5 nuclear power reactors in North Carolina…

North Carolina hosts five operating nuclear power reactors: Brunswick Units 1 & 2, McGuire Units 1 & 2, and Shearon Harris Unit 1. These account for nearly 32% of electricity generation in the state.

It is the two reactors at the Brunswick plant that are of the most concern because they sit right along the coast and they are directly in the projected path of the storm.

The following is what Wikipedia has to say about those reactors…

The Brunswick nuclear power plant, named for Brunswick County, North Carolina, covers 1,200 acres (490 ha). The site is adjacent to the town of Southport, North Carolina, and to wetlands and woodlands, and was opened in 1975.

The site contains two General Electric boiling water reactors, which are cooled by water collected from the Cape Fear River and discharged into the Atlantic Ocean.

In a worst case scenario, could we potentially be facing America’s version of Fukushima?

Hurricane Florence greatly intensified on Monday.  This is an excerpt from the very latest NOAA forecast

1. A life-threatening storm surge is likely along portions of the coastlines of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, and a Storm Surge Watch will likely be issued for some of these areas by Tuesday morning. All interests from South Carolina into the mid-Atlantic region should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and follow any advice given by local officials.

2. Life-threatening freshwater flooding is likely from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event, which may extend inland over the Carolinas and Mid Atlantic for hundreds of miles as Florence is expected to slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland.

3. Damaging hurricane-force winds are likely along portions of the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina, and a Hurricane Watch will likely be issued by Tuesday morning. Damaging winds could also spread well inland into portions of the Carolinas and Virginia.

And according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, there is definitely a possibility that Hurricane Florence could still strengthen into a category 5 storm

Experts weren’t ready to rule out the possibility that Florence could even make landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, a feat never achieved by any recorded storm in the region. Dennis Feltgen, a spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center in Miami, says that reaching Category 5 is “certainly a possibility.” If Florence doesn’t undergo a phenomenon known as an eyewall replacement cycle, which would weaken the storm, it has a chance of reaching the 157-mph boundary line and making history, Feltgen says.

As I mentioned earlier, it is very rare for a storm of this magnitude to make landfall this far north

Landfalling Category 4 hurricanes are rare in the mainland U.S., with just 24 such landfalls since 1851—an average of one every seven years. (Category 5 landfalls are rarer still, with just three on record). All but three of these 27 landfalls by Cat4s and Cat5s have occurred south of South Carolina’s latitude; thus, Florence will be in very select company if it manages to make landfall at Category 4 strength in North or South Carolina.

We only have a couple of previous storms to go on in order to evaluate how bad the storm surge might be.  Unfortunately, water can pile up to enormous heights in this particular region because the continental shelf “extends out more than 50 miles from shore”

It’s a good thing that landfalls by such strong hurricanes are rare along the South Carolina and North Carolina coast, since this coastline is extremely vulnerable to high storm surges. Two of these three historical Carolina Category 4 hurricanes generated a storm tide of 18 – 20 feet: Hugo of 1989 and Hazel of 1954. The other storm–Gracie of 1959–did not (it hit at low tide, significantly reducing the coastal flooding). The storm tide is the combination of the storm surge and the normal lunar tide, measured in height above sea level. The National Hurricane Center uses the terminology “height above ground level” when discussing the storm tide, meaning the height the surge plus tide gets above the normal high tide mark.

The high vulnerability of this coastline is because the continental shelf extends out more than 50 miles from shore, creating a large region of shallow water less than 150 feet deep just offshore that forces storm surge waters to pile up to staggering heights.

In a worst case scenario, we could be talking about an unprecedented mountain of water slamming into the Carolina coastline.

In fact, it is being projected that if Hurricane Florence becomes a category 5 storm that we could see a storm surge of up to 33 feet

WU’s storm surge inundation maps for the U.S. coast, computed using NOAA’s SLOSH model, tell a frightening story. Depending on where its center makes landfall, a mid-strength Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds hitting at high tide, in a worst-case scenario, can generate a storm tide in excess of twenty feet above ground level along the entire coast of South Carolina, and along most of the coast of southern North Carolina from the South Carolina border to Morehead City. Many locations could see a higher surge, of up to 27 feet. And a Category 5 storm is much worse: a theoretical peak storm tide of 33 feet is predicted by the SLOSH model for the Intracoastal Waterway north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. These peak surges occur over a 10 – 40 mile stretch of coast where the right eyewall makes landfall.

Let us hope that does not happen, because it is hard to imagine the immense devastation that such a storm surge would cause.

And remember – the two nuclear power reactors right along the coast at the Brunswick facility are directly in the path of this storm.

As news about the intensity of this storm has spread, “panic prepping” has been happening all over the Carolinas.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

With memories of the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria still fresh in the minds of US consumers, residents of South and North Carolina are taking zero chances as Hurricane Florence – now a Category 4 storm – barrels toward the eastern seaboard. According to local media reports, store shelves have been cleared of vital supplies like bottled water and food as anxious southerners brace for the worst-case scenario.

Shelves at Wal-Marts in North Carolina and South Carolina had been cleared out by Sunday evening, forcing the stores to frantically restock shelves as residents loaded up on everything from water to plywood to generators, per WGN9. Flashlights and batteries also flew off the shelves.

Of course if people had been prepared ahead of time, they would not have to be scrambling for rapidly disappearing supplies at the stores.

And it is being projected that more than a million people will evacuate from coastal areas by the time that this storm reaches shore…

Hurricane Florence is plowing toward the East Coast as a Category 4 storm with a 500-mile wing span, forcing dire warnings and mandatory evacuations – including the entire coastline of South Carolina and parts of Virginia and North Carolina.

In South Carolina alone, more than 1 million residents and tourists are expected to flee from coastal areas, Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday, vowing that state officials “are not going to gamble” with people’s lives.

This is an extremely dangerous storm, and I strongly urge those that live in the region to play it safe.

You can always replace property, but we only get one chance at this life, and so please do not be reckless with yours.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

This Story Is A Perfect Example Of The Economic Despair That Most American Families Are Enduring In This “Booming” Economy

The middle class in America is being systematically eviscerated right in front of our eyes.  I don’t normally do this, but today I want to share with you an email that was recently sent to me by a reader.  I asked for permission to share her story with all of you, because I think that it will be encouraging for a lot of people out there to understand that they aren’t alone.  In this supposedly “booming” economy, millions upon millions of American families are barely making it from month to month even though they are working as hard as they possibly can.  But because the mainstream media has been endlessly touting “good economic news” for the last several years, many of those that are struggling end up believing that something must be wrong with them since they aren’t participating in all of the “prosperity”.  But of course the truth is that almost all of the economic rewards have been going to the very top of the economic pyramid.  Meanwhile, the middle class continues to shrink and more families fall into poverty with each passing month.

As you read the email that I am about to share with you, there are several things that I want you to notice.

#1 These people are not lazy.  The husband has a good job for the area in which they live, and the wife is working very hard to bring in some online income as she takes care of the kids.  So neither of them would be considered to be “unemployed”.

#2 They are also very frugal.  They have cut expenses as far as they can, and they are still not able to make ends meet.

#3 They are being crushed by medical bills.  Our healthcare system is a completely and total nightmare, and there are no solutions in sight.  Thanks to the Democrats, soaring health insurance premiums are absolutely crushing middle class families.  And the Republicans have had almost two years to try to fix things, and they have completely failed to get anything done.  Shame on all of them.

#4 Almost everyone that they know is on government assistance, and so far they have resisted the urge to follow suit.  Right now, more than 100 million Americans receive assistance from the government every month, and we are rapidly being transformed into a full-blown socialist nation.

I could say so much more, but let me get right to the email.  This story really touched my heart, and I know that it will touch your heart as well…

I and my husband have been reading your blog for five or six years now. So many of your articles sound just like us, and I just wanted to share our situation and perspective as conservative Christians who were actually taught Biblical handling of money. Hopefully it will help you with your writing!

Unlike most millennials, we came into marriage with no debt and a decent savings. We have always lived on a strict budget that usually doesn’t include clothing or eating out; most of the time it doesn’t even include saving! We have never used credit cards. I am very frugal, shopping by what’s on sale, buying in bulk, cooking from scratch, and often doing without. We eat beans more than anything else. We own one vehicle, and half the time have to borrow a car from family because ours breaks down and we don’t have the money to fix it.

We work hard. My husband works for the county more than full time, and makes quite a bit more than most jobs in our area (minimum wage is 8.25 here), but a third of his check goes straight to taxes. I worked outside the home before we had children, and now have a blog and an online business that make a few hundred a month on average. We also work hard growing a large garden and keeping a few animals for food.

Unfortunately we just can’t make ends meet. We’ve used up all of our savings and haven’t been able to replace it. Family members are giving us $500-$1000 every month. We’ve both been in the hospital a few times for injury and illness, and each time costs thousands of dollars. We spent our tax return this year on medical bills, and still owe thousands to the local hospital.

We see what is going on in this country, and around the world, and we want to be prepared, but instead of getting ahead we just get more and more behind. We’ve already sold everything that was worth anything.

After taxes, the biggest expense that is killing us is insurance. All the types of insurance that are mandatory or just seem like a necessity now – health insurance, car insurance, insurance for our mobile home and rental property (required by our landlord), life insurance that is necessary with my husband’s job.

Medical bills are next on the list – who can afford to go to a doctor nowadays, even with insurance? We do everything possible to avoid doctor visits, even having our last child at home without a midwife even though I am considered high risk. Sometimes emergencies happen though, and going to the doctor just isn’t avoidable.

Pretty much all of our friends and co-workers are getting government help every month. Honestly we’d be a lot better off if we did to, but we don’t want to. It’s not the government’s job to take care of everybody.

But really, what are we supposed to do? Is there anything we can do to fix the mess our economy is in? Is there anything people like us can do to get out of this situation, or is it just a hopeless downward spiral that’s going to get worse and worse till we are living under a bridge?

I wrote her back and tried to encourage her.  No matter how bad things seem to be in life, there is always a way to turn things around if you just keep on fighting.

And things could turn around for America too, but we would have to be willing to fundamentally change our ways, and at this moment there are no indications that this will happen any time soon.

I get accused of being all about “doom and gloom”, but in my latest book I set forth a detailed prescription for what we need to do to turn things around.  And I ran for Congress on a platform of positive solutions, but that message didn’t resonate enough with the voters.

Inexplicably, most Americans seem to like the status quo even though the system is literally coming apart at the seams all around us.

What we have been doing as a nation does not work, it is not sustainable, and it has become exceedingly clear that a day of reckoning is rapidly approaching.  At this point it is so obvious that even the mainstream media is starting to warn of imminent economic disaster.

For years, many of us have been warning what would happen if we did not change our ways, and we have been trying to offer alternative solutions, but most Americans continue to embrace the current system and believe that it will be able to survive despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

In the end, it is probably going to take a complete and utter collapse of the current system before most people will wake up, and that is something that nobody will enjoy.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The 11th Hour: 8 Examples Of Mainstream Media Sources Warning Us Of Imminent Economic Disaster

Are we on the verge of another great financial crisis, a devastating recession and a horrific implosion of the global debt bubble?  On my website I have been relentlessly warning my readers about the inevitable consequences of our very foolish actions, but now the mainstream media is beginning to sound just like The Economic Collapse Blog.  The coming crisis is so close now that a lot of them are starting to see it, and of course economic disaster is already a reality for much of the rest of the planet.  For years, the mainstream media told us that things would get better, and in a lot of ways we did see some improvement.  But now the tone of the mainstream media has become quite ominous, and that is definitely not a positive sign.  The following are 8 examples of mainstream media sources warning us of imminent economic disaster…

#1 Forbes: “Disaster Is Inevitable When America’s Stock Market Bubble Bursts”

As shown in this report, the U.S. stock market is currently trading at extremely precarious levels and it won’t take much to topple the whole house of cards. Once again, the Federal Reserve, which was responsible for creating the disastrous Dot-com bubble and housing bubble, has inflated yet another extremely dangerous bubble in its attempt to force the economy to grow after the Great Recession. History has proven time and time again that market meddling by central banks leads to massive market distortions and eventual crises. As a society, we have not learned the lessons that we were supposed to learn from 1999 and 2008, therefore we are doomed to repeat them.

The purpose of this report is to warn society of the path that we are on and the risks that we are facing.

#2 CNBC: “Tech stock sell-off could be just beginning if trade war with China worsens”

Congressional scrutiny of social media companies and fears of new regulation pummeled their stocks, but other tech names could also soon be vulnerable to a new round of selling pressure if President Donald Trump goes through with new tariffs on Chinese goods.

#3 Bloomberg: “Emerging-market rout is longest since 2008 as confidence cracks”

For stocks, it’s 222 days. For currencies, 155 days. For local government bonds, 240 days.

This year’s rout in emerging markets has lasted so long that it’s taken even the most ardent bears by surprise. Not one of the seven biggest selloffs since the financial crisis — including the so-called taper tantrum — inflicted such pain for so long on the developing world.

#4 CNN: “Emerging Markets Look Sick. Will They Infect Wall Street?”

Chinese stocks are is in a bear market. Turkey’s currency has collapsed. South Africa has stumbled into a recession. Not even an IMF bailout has stemmed the bleeding in Argentina.

The storm rocking emerging markets has its origins in Washington. Vulnerable currencies plunged as the US Federal Reserve steadily raised interest rates. And President Donald Trump’s trade crackdown added gasoline to the fire.

The trouble could spread, infecting other emerging markets or even Wall Street.

#5 The Motley Fool: “6 signs the next recession might be closer than we realize”

To be perfectly clear, trying to predict when recessions will occur is pure guesswork. Top market analysts have called for pullbacks in the market, unsuccessfully, in pretty much every year since the Great Recession ended. But the economic cycle doesn’t lie: recessions are inevitable. And in my estimation, we’re probably closer to the next recession than you realize.

How can I be so certain? Well, I can’t. Remember, I just noted there’s virtually no certainty when it comes to predicting when recessions will occur. There are, however, six warning signs that suggest a recession could be, in relative terms, around the corner.

#6 Forbes: “U.S. Household Wealth Is Experiencing An Unsustainable Bubble”

Since the dark days of the Great Recession in 2009, America has experienced one of the most powerful household wealth booms in its history. Household wealth has ballooned by approximately $46 trillion or 83% to an all-time high of $100.8 trillion. While most people welcome and applaud a wealth boom like this, my research shows that it is actually another dangerous bubble that is similar to the U.S. housing bubble of the mid-2000s. In this piece, I will explain why America’s wealth boom is artificial and heading for a devastating bust.

#7 Savannah Now: “Global debt soars, along with fears of crisis ahead”

“We were supposed to correct a debt bubble,” said David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, a wealth-management firm. “What we did instead was create more debt.”

#8 CNBC: “The emerging market crisis is back. And this time it’s serious”

But markets are feeling a sense of deja vu. Blame it on a stronger dollar, escalating tensions since President Donald Trump came to power, worries over a full-fledged trade war with China or rising interest rates in the U.S., this time around the crisis seems to have entered a new phase.

The damage is far more widespread. The crisis has engulfed countries across the globe — from economies in South America, to Turkey, South Africa and some of the bigger economies in Asia, such as India and China. A number of these countries are seeing their currency fall to record levels, high inflation and unemployment, and in some cases, escalating tensions with the United States.

I don’t think that we have seen such ominous declarations from the mainstream media since the last global financial crisis in 2008.

And the mainstream media is not alone.  Yesterday, I discussed the fact that tech executives on the west coast are setting up luxury survival bunkers in New Zealand in order to prepare for what is ahead.

They all know what is coming, and they also know that it is approaching very rapidly.

This chapter in American history is not going to end well.  On some level, all of us understand this.  Storm clouds have been building on the horizon for quite some time and the warning signs are all around us.

Our day of reckoning may have been delayed, but it was not canceled.  America has a date with destiny, and it is going to be exceedingly painful.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Bankers And Tech Executives Know The Collapse Of Society Is Coming And Are Feverishly Prepping For It

While most of the general population has been lulled into a false sense of security, bankers and tech executives are spending millions upon millions of dollars to prepare for the collapse of society.  Do they know something that the rest of us do not?  Apparently talk of doomsday scenarios has become very popular at Silicon Valley dinner parties, and as you will see below, having a plan to escape to New Zealand appears to be a very popular “Plan B” among the tech elite.  Of course this is not just a west coast phenomenon.  Many bankers on the east coast have similar concerns and have also been developing contingency plans.  Ladies and gentlemen, they know what is coming and they are feverishly getting prepared for it.  In fact, J.P. Morgan Chase’s head quant just publicly declared that the next financial crisis is going to result in “social unrest not seen in the U.S. in half a century”.  The following comes from CNBC

Sudden, severe stock sell-offs sparked by lightning-fast machines. Unprecedented actions by central banks to shore up asset prices. Social unrest not seen in the U.S. in half a century.

That’s how J.P. Morgan Chase‘s head quant, Marko Kolanovic, envisions the next financial crisis. The forces that have transformed markets in the last decade, namely the rise of computerized trading and passive investing, are setting up conditions for potentially violent moves once the current bull market ends, according to a report from Kolanovic sent to the bank’s clients on Tuesday. His note is part of a 168-page mega-report, written for the 10th anniversary of the 2008 financial crisis, with perspectives from 48 of the bank’s analysts and economists.

If you visit my website on a regular basis, you already know that I have been warning that rising levels of anger and frustration are rapidly eroding the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted on a daily basis.

Back in 1968, the Vietnam war was in full swing, a presidential election was approaching and two of the most prominent leaders in America had just been assassinated.  Chaos erupted in the streets as a result, and Kolanovic is absolutely convinced that we will see a similar eruption soon

Kolanovic closes his report on an ominous note: “The next crisis is also likely to result in social tensions similar to those witnessed 50 years ago in 1968.”

That year saw the peak of both the Vietnam War and anti-war movement and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Today, the internet and social media are helping to polarize groups, and events including the U.S. election and Brexit show tensions that will probably worsen in the next crisis, he said.

When society begins to come apart at the seams, many among the elite do not plan to stick around for the day of reckoning.

A Bloomberg article that was just published entitled “The Super Rich of Silicon Valley Have a Doomsday Escape Plan” has some amazing revelations.  According to the article, over the past two years seven “Silicon Valley entrepreneurs” have purchased survival bunkers from a company in Texas and shipped them to locations in New Zealand…

In recent months, two 150-ton survival bunkers journeyed by land and sea from a Texas warehouse to the shores of New Zealand, where they’re buried 11 feet underground.

Seven Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have purchased bunkers from Rising S Co. and planted them in New Zealand in the past two years, said Gary Lynch, the manufacturer’s general manager. At the first sign of an apocalypse — nuclear war, a killer germ, a French Revolution-style uprising targeting the 1 percent — the Californians plan to hop on a private jet and hunker down, he said.

It would be weird enough if one wealthy individual did this, but the count is now up to seven.

So why have they chosen New Zealand?

Well, it is because New Zealand doesn’t have any enemies, English is spoken there, it is very stable, and it is very far away from everything else.

Plus, the country allows wealthy individuals “to essentially buy residency”

The nation allows emigres to essentially buy residency through investor visas, and rich Americans have poured a fortune into the country, often by acquiring palatial estates.

Billionaire hedge-fund honcho Julian Robertson owns a lodge overlooking Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, the South Island’s luxury resort destination. Fidelity National Financial Inc. Chairman Bill Foley has a homestead in the Wairarapa region, north of Wellington, and Titanic director James Cameron bought a mansion nearby at Lake Pounui.

There has been a significant exodus of wealthy Americans to New Zealand in recent years, and once things start getting really bad there will be a steady stream of private jets taking off from locations in the U.S. and landing in that beautiful nation.

Of course not everyone plans to leave.  Luxury survival bunkers are also being constructed all over the heartland of America, but they aren’t cheap.

For example, it was being reported that a “penthouse” inside the Survival Condo in Kansas was selling for more than four million dollars

Another shelter for the ultra-wealthy is the Survival Condo in Kansas.

It was designed to withstand a nuclear blast or nature’s worst, but is far cry from what you might expect an underground shelter to look like.

There is a cinema, a swimming pool with a water slide, a spa, a lounge, a gym and an indoor shooting range to keep occupants entertained.

But survival comes at a price.

Last year, it was reported that plush 3,600sq ft penthouses within the shelter – a former missile silo – were selling for $4.5m (£3.6m).

Needless to say, anyone outside of the top 1 percent is not going to make it into the Survival Condo.

And in order to keep the rest of us out, it has an armory that is “stocked with guns and ammo”

Additionally, an armory stocked with guns and ammo is in place in case of an attack by non-members, and is also available for owners to practice.

The bunker is able to sustain its owners for up to five years, by raising tilapia in fish tanks and growing hydroponic vegetables under lamps.

The elite can see what so many of the rest of us can also see.

Our future looks very troubling, and it appears to be wise to get prepared for what is coming in advance.

Unfortunately, the rest of us don’t have the money to buy a luxury survival bunker or to fly to New Zealand on a private jet.  Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can buy a pretty good escape plan.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Major Currencies All Over The World Are In “Complete Meltdown” As The $63 Trillion EM Debt Bubble Implodes

The wait for the next global financial crisis is over.  Major currencies all over the planet are in a “death spiral”, many global stock markets are crashing, and economic activity is beginning to decline at a stunning rate in quite a few nations.  Over the past 16 years, the emerging market debt bubble has grown from 9 trillion dollars to 63 trillion dollars.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Now that emerging market debt bubble is imploding, and as a result emerging market currencies all over the globe are in “complete meltdown”.  In fact, at least 20 different currencies have fallen by double-digit percentages against the U.S. dollar so far in 2018, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.

You may be tempted to think that this must be a good thing for the United States since the value of the U.S. dollar has been rising, but it is not.

During the “boom years”, trillions of dollars were borrowed by emerging market economies, and a high percentage of those loans were denominated in U.S. dollars.  Now that their currencies are crashing, it is going to take much more local currency to service those U.S.-denominated debts, and a whole lot of them are going to start going bad.

That means that many financial institutions here in the United States and over in Europe are going to end up holding enormous piles of bad debt, and the losses could potentially be astronomical.

The dominoes are starting to fall, and even the mainstream media is admitting that what we are facing is really bad.  For example, the following comes from a CNBC article entitled “The emerging market crisis is back. And this time it’s serious”

The crisis has engulfed countries across the globe — from economies in South America, to Turkey, South Africa and some of the bigger economies in Asia, such as India and China. A number of these countries are seeing their currency fall to record levels, high inflation and unemployment, and in some cases, escalating tensions with the United States.

When I say that the world has been on the greatest debt binge in human history since the last financial crisis, I am not exaggerating one bit.

The emerging market debt bubble is now three times larger than it was in 2007, and it is seven times larger than it was in 2002.  Here is more from CNBC

Emerging markets are also heavily plagued by debt and a stronger dollar makes it tougher for them to pay this debt. The latest data from the Institute of International Finance shows that debt in emerging markets including China increased from $9 trillion in 2002 to $21 trillion in 2007 and finally to $63 trillion in 2017.

Of course this bubble was going to burst.

Anyone with half a brain should have been able to see that.

Now we have a full-blown crisis on our hands, and nobody seems to have any idea how to solve it.

As Charles Hugh Smith has observed, emerging market currencies all over the globe “are in complete meltdown”…

As the chart below illustrates, a great many currencies around the world are in complete meltdown. This is not normal. Nations that over-borrow, over-spend and print too much of their currency to generate an illusion of solvency eventually experience a currency crisis as investors and traders lose faith in the currency as a store of value, i.e. the faith that it will have the same (or more) purchasing power in a month that it has today.

This is the chart that Charles Hugh Smith referenced in that quote…

I am not sure that I even have the words to describe financial carnage of that magnitude.

Since the financial markets are not crashing here in the United States yet, most Americans do not really seem to be concerned about this crisis at this point.  But that is a mistake.  This meltdown has started with the weaker nations, but ultimately what we are witnessing is an “unraveling” of the entire global financial system

The fact that so many currencies are melting down at the same time is telling us the global financial system is unraveling, and unraveling fast. This is a symptom of a fatal disease. Currencies reflect all sorts of financial information; they’re akin to taking an economy’s pulse: trade balances, debt levels, interest rates, central bank policies, fiscal policies, and so on.

The global financial system is inter-connected, but this is not a viable excuse for the meltdown. The general explanation floating around is that currency weakness is like the flu: one currency gets it, and then it spreads to other weak currencies.

This diagnosis is misleading. What’s actually happening is the unprecedented global bubble of debt and assets of the past decade is popping, and it’s laying waste to the most indebted, over-leveraged and mismanaged nations first, either via stock market declines or meltdowns in currencies.

Earlier today, we learned that the South African economy has officially plunged into a new recession.  This crisis is spreading very quickly, and the United States won’t be immune from what is happening.  This is a point that Charles Hugh Smith made very well as he wrapped up his most recent article

The illusion that the U.S. is immune to the unraveling of debt and asset valuations won’t last. When the defaults start piling up, so will the losses, and when asset bubbles pop, incomes and spending decline. Although few seem to notice, almost half the profits of the S&P 500 corporations are earned overseas.

The belief that U.S. markets are somehow disconnected from global markets and immune to the repricing of risk, debt, assets and currencies is magical thinking.

I am entirely convinced that we have reached a major turning point.

For several years it has seemed like things have been getting “better”, but it was largely an illusion.  Our ridiculously high standard of living was financed by the greatest debt binge in the history of the world, and it was inevitable that a day of reckoning would arrive.

Now that day of reckoning is knocking on the door, and our society is completely and utterly unprepared for what is going to happen next.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Oil Prices Have Been Rising And $4 A Gallon Gasoline Would Put Enormous Stress On The U.S. Economy

Thanks to increasing demand and upcoming U.S. sanctions against Iran, oil prices have been rising and some analysts are forecasting that they will surge even higher in the months ahead.  Unfortunately, that would be very bad news for the U.S. economy at a time when concerns about a major economic downturn have already been percolating.  In recent years, extremely low gasoline prices have been one of the factors that have contributed to a period of relative economic stability in the United States.  Because our country is so spread out, we import such a high percentage of our goods, and we are so dependent on foreign oil, our economy is particularly vulnerable to gasoline price shocks.  Anyone that lived in the U.S. during the early 1970s can attest to that.  If the average price of gasoline rises to $4 a gallon by the end of 2018 that will be really bad news, and if the average price of gasoline were to hit $5 a gallon that would be catastrophic for the economy.

Very early on Tuesday, the price of U.S. oil surged past $70 a barrel in anticipation of the approaching hurricane along the Gulf Coast.  The following comes from Fox Business

U.S. oil prices rose on Tuesday, breaking past $70 per barrel, after two Gulf of Mexico oil platforms were evacuated in preparation for a hurricane.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $70.05 per barrel at 0353 GMT, up 25 cents, or 0.4 percent from their last settlement.

If we stay at about $70 a gallon, that isn’t going to be much of a problem.

But some analysts are now speaking of “an impending supply crunch”, and that is a very troubling sign.  For example, just check out what Stephen Brennock is saying

“Exports from OPEC’s third-biggest producer are falling faster than expected and worse is to come ahead of a looming second wave of U.S. sanctions,” said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates. “Fears of an impending supply crunch are gaining traction.”

So how high could prices ultimately go?

Well, energy expert John Kilduff is now projecting that we could see the price of gasoline at $4 a gallon by winter

Energy expert John Kilduff counts Iran sanctions as the top reason West Texas Intermediate (WTI) could climb as much as 30 percent by winter, and that could spell $4 a gallon unleaded gasoline at the pumps.

“The global market is tight and it’s getting tighter, and the big strangle around the market right now is what’s in the process of happening with Iran and the Iran sanctions,” the Again Capital founding partner said on CNBC’s “Futures Now.”

About two months from now, U.S. sanctions will formally be imposed on Iran, and that is going to significantly restrict the supply of oil available in the marketplace.

So refiners that had relied on Iranian oil are “scrambling” to find new suppliers, and this could ultimately drive oil prices much higher

Iran’s oil exports are plummeting, as refiners scramble to find alternatives ahead of a re imposition of U.S. sanctions in early November. That in turn has helped drain a glut of unsold oil.

“To the extent we’re seeing the Iran barrels lost to the market, you’re looking at a WTI price and Brent in the $85 to $95 range, potentially,” Kilduff said.

Other sources are also predicting that oil prices will rise.

Barclays is warning that “prices could reach $80 and higher in the short term”, and BNP Paribas is now anticipating that Brent crude will average $79 a barrel in 2019.

In addition to the upcoming Iranian sanctions, rising global demand for oil is also a major factor that is pushing up prices.

For example, many Americans don’t even realize that China has surpassed us and has now become the biggest crude oil importer on the entire planet

China became the world’s largest crude oil importer in 2017, surpassing the US and importing 8.4 million barrels per day.

The US only imported 7.9 million barrels per day in 2017, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

So what is the bottom line for U.S. consumers?

The bottom line is that gasoline prices are likely to jump substantially, and that is going to affect prices for almost everything else that you buy.

Excluding tech products, virtually everything else that Americans purchase has to be transported, and so the price of gasoline must be factored into the cost.

So if gasoline prices shoot up quite a bit, that means that almost everything is going to cost more.

And this would be happening at a time when inflation is already on the rise

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, less food and energy, hit 2.4% in July 2018. That’s its highest reading since September 2008.

Of course 2.4 percent doesn’t really sound that scary, and that is how the government likes it.

But if the rate of inflation was still calculated the way it was back in 1990, the current inflation rate would be above 6 percent.

And if the rate of inflation was still calculated the way it was back in 1980, the current inflation rate would be above 10 percent.

Inflation is a hidden tax on all of us, and it is one of the big reasons why the middle class is being eroded so rapidly.

Please do not underestimate the impact of the price of oil.  It shot above $100 a barrel in 2008, and it was one of the factors that precipitated the financial crisis later that year.

Now we are rapidly approaching another crisis point, and there are so many wildcards that could potentially cause major problems.

One of those wildcards that I haven’t even talked about in this article would be a major war in the Middle East.  One of these days it will happen, and the price of oil will instantly soar to well above $100 a barrel.

We live at a time of rising global instability, and we should all learn to start expecting the unexpected.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

 

The American Dream Is Getting Smaller, And The Reason Why Is Painfully Obvious…

Over the past decade, an unprecedented stock market boom has created thousands upon thousands of new millionaires, and yet the middle class in America has continued to shrink.  How is that even possible?  At one time the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the planet, but now the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s.  Our economy has been creating lots of new millionaires, but at the exact same time we have seen homelessness spiral out of control in our major cities.  Today, being part of the middle class is like playing a really bizarre game of musical chairs.  Each month when the music stops playing, those of us still in the middle class desperately hope that we are not among the ones that slip out of the middle class and into poverty.  Well over 100 million Americans receive money or benefits from the federal government each month, and that includes approximately 40 percent of all families with children.  We are losing our ability to take care of ourselves, and that has frightening implications for the future of our society.

One of the primary reasons why our system doesn’t work for everyone is because virtually everything has been financialized.  In other words, from the cradle to the grave the entire system has been designed to get you into debt so that the fruits of your labor can be funneled to the top of the pyramid and make somebody else wealthier.  The following comes from an excellent Marketwatch article entitled “The American Dream is getting smaller”

More worrying, perhaps: 33% of those surveyed said they think that dream is disappearing. Why? They have too much debt. “Americans believe financial security is at the core of the American Dream, but it is alarming that so many think it is beyond their reach,” said Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S.

Almost everyone that will read this article will have debt.  In America today, we are trained to go into debt for just about everything.

If you want a college education, you go into debt.

If you want a vehicle, you go into debt.

If you want a home, you go into debt.

If you want that nice new pair of shoes, you don’t have to wait for it.  Just go into more debt.

As a result, most Americans are currently up to their necks in red ink

Some 64% of those surveyed said they have a mortgage, 56% said they had credit-card debt and 26% said they have student-loan debt. Many surveyed said they don’t feel financially secure. More than a quarter said they wish they had better control of their finances.

You would have thought that we would have learned from the very hard lessons that the crisis of 2008 taught us.

But instead, we have been on the greatest debt binge in American history in recent years.  Here is more from the Marketwatch article

It makes sense that debt is on Americans’ minds. Collectively, Americans have more than $1 trillion in credit-card debt, according to the Federal Reserve. They have another $1.5 trillion in student loans, up from $1.1 trillion in 2013. Motor vehicle loans are now topping $1.1 trillion, up from $878.5 billion in 2013. And they have another nearly $15 trillion in mortgage debt outstanding.

That is one huge pile of debt.

We criticize the federal government for running up 21 trillion dollars in debt, and rightly so, but American consumers have been almost as irresponsible on an individual basis.

As long as you are drowning in debt, you will never become wealthy.  In order to build wealth, you have got to spend less than you earn, but most Americans never learn basic fundamentals such as this in our rapidly failing system of public education.

Many Americans long to become financially independent, but they don’t understand that our system is rigged against them.  The entire game is all about keeping consumers on that debt wheel endlessly chasing that piece of proverbial cheese until it is too late.

Getting out of debt is one of the biggest steps that you can take to give yourself more freedom, and hopefully this article will inspire many to do just that.

To end this article today, I would like to share 14 facts about how the middle class in America is shrinking that I shared in a previous article

#1 78 million Americans are participating in the “gig economy” because full-time jobs just don’t pay enough to make ends meet these days.

#2 In 2011, the average home price was 3.56 times the average yearly salary in the United States.  But by the time 2017 was finished, the average home price was 4.73 times the average yearly salary in the United States.

#3 In 1980, the average American worker’s debt was 1.96 times larger than his or her monthly salary.  Today, that number has ballooned to 5.00.

#4 In the United States today, 66 percent of all jobs pay less than 20 dollars an hour.

#5 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now.  That number is higher than it was at any point during the last recession.

#6 Earnings for low-skill jobs have stayed very flat for the last 40 years.

#7 Americans have been spending more money than they make for 28 months in a row.

#8 In the United States today, the average young adult with student loan debt has a negative net worth.

#9 At this point, the average American household is nearly $140,000 in debt.

#10 Poverty rates in U.S. suburbs “have increased by 50 percent since 1990”.

#11 Almost 51 million U.S. households “can’t afford basics like rent and food”.

#12 The bottom 40 percent of all U.S. households bring home just 11.4 percent of all income.

#13 According to the Federal Reserve, 4 out of 10 Americans do not have enough money to cover an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing the money or selling something they own.

#14 22 percent of all Americans cannot pay all of their bills in a typical month.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.