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.

The Trade War Is Already Having A Huge Impact On The U.S. Economy

The trade war has barely just begun, and yet significant ripple effects are already being felt all across the U.S. economy.  Once thriving businesses are on the verge of failure, workers are being laid off, and some sectors of the economy are witnessing enormous price hikes.  Right now the mainstream media is absolutely fixated on the drama surrounding the recently concluded Trump-Putin summit meeting, but the consequences of this trade war will ultimately be far more important for the lives of most ordinary Americans.  As more tariffs continue to be implemented, this will perhaps be the biggest disruption to the global economic system that we have seen in decades.  Perhaps you have not been affected personally yet, but for many Americans this trade war has changed everything.  For example, just consider the plight of soybean farmer Tim Bardole

The U.S. is China’s second-biggest source of soybeans at 34% of the imports, after Brazil, which ships 53%. The staple is used to make cooking oil and seasoning, and soybean meal is found in pig feed.

Now the tariffs have taken the bottom out of U.S. soybean prices, delivering a gut punch to farmers like Tim Bardole. He was already $100,000 in the red last year due to a yearslong slump in cereal prices, and the current predicament has driven him into a corner.

“I’m not sure if I can get a loan from the bank to finance our next year’s crop,” said Bardole.

If this trade war had not happened, perhaps Bardole would have been able to eventually get out of debt.  But now he is facing financial ruin and the potential loss of his entire farm.

Switching gears, U.S. consumers will soon discover that common electronics such as phones and computers cost a lot more.  The following comes from CBS News

Buyers in the U.S. will soon see price hikes on computers, phones, thermostats and “everyday items,” according to the Information Technology Industry Council, a group that represents tech companies.

Hundreds of Chinese components that the Trump administration penalized are used to make everything from LEDs to sensors to printer and scanner components. When manufacturers pay more for their parts, the costs are typically passed on to consumers, the ITI said.

Are you ready to pay 50 dollars for your next phone to support this trade war?

Maybe.

50 dollars is ultimately not that big of a deal.

But what about paying $9,000 more for your next house?

Tariffs on lumber coming from the evil Canadians are adding about $9,000 to the cost of a new house, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Washing machine prices have jumped some 15% this year, the fastest increase ever recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Are you starting to understand why starting trade wars with all of our major trading partners simultaneously was a really bad idea?

We are about to see major price hikes in just about every sector of the economy.  According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the average American could pay over $5,000 more for their next vehicle

Consumers may see an average price increase of $5,800 if a 25 percent import tariff that Mr. Trump has threatened goes into effect, according to estimates cited by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), a lobbying group for carmakers.

That’s a “$45 billion tax on consumers,” the group said, citing an analysis of Commerce Department data.

U.S. consumers are already stretched to the max, and they will not be able to easily absorb these price increases.

Meanwhile, farm incomes all across the interior of the country are going to be absolutely devastated by this trade war.  Just check out these numbers

The American Farm Bureau says it expects farm incomes to drop to a 12-year low this year, largely because of the trade war.

An agricultural economist at Purdue University, Christopher Hurt, added that 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans would have made a farmer a $42,000 profit on June 1. Now, it could net him a $126,000 loss.

And as I mentioned above, many businesses all over the United States that rely heavily on exports are already struggling so mightily that they have to lay off workers.  The following comes from USA Today

In Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Mid-Continent Nail, the nation’s largest nail maker, laid off 60 workers last month. Sales plunged 70 percent after Trump placed a 25 percent tariff on steel from Mexico and Canada. When the company boosted its prices, customers defected. Now, Mid-Continent is strongly considering a second round of 200 layoffs, company spokeswoman Elizabeth Heaton says, and all 500 employees could be axed by Labor Day.

Yes, we desperately needed to do something about China and other trade partners that were taking advantage of us.  But there is a right way to handle things and a wrong way to handle things, and starting a trade war with everyone at the same time is a really, really bad idea.

I think that a recent piece by Thomas Grennes, a professor of economics at North Carolina State University, made this point quite well

The Trump administration has said that tariffs are a negotiating technique that need not be implemented. Now that tariffs are in place, they say other countries will soon back down. However, trading partners have not backed down, and, in fact, retaliatory tariffs against U.S. exports are already in place. Foreign officials have expressed confusion about exactly what concessions the US government wants. Currently, no formal negotiations are taking place. Higher future tariffs are being announced regularly. There are no signs of an end to this tariff war. When will both sides recognize that interfering with voluntary trade is harmful to both parties? Trade wars are lose-lose propositions.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that most Americans have any idea how exceedingly painful this trade war could potentially become.

The longer it lasts, the worse things will get, and ultimately it could tip the U.S. economy into the worst recession that any of us have ever experienced.

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.

An Absolutely Epic Escalation Of The Trade War Has Us On The Precipice Of A Cataclysmic Global Economic Crisis

If Americans really understood how much their standard of living was about to change, the streets of our major cities would be packed with protesters by tomorrow morning.  For the past several decades, China and other low cost exporters have been flooding our shores with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of cheap goods.  This is the only reason why you can go to Wal-Mart and buy a shirt for three bucks.  But since we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us, we ultimately have to go back to those other nations and beg them to lend our money back to us so that we can pay our bills.  This sick, twisted co-dependent relationship has enabled Americans to live a debt-fueled standard of living that is far beyond what we deserve, and now our rapidly escalating trade war with China is going to bring the party to a crashing halt.  On Tuesday, the Trump administration released a list of $200,000,000,000 worth of Chinese exports that will be hit with 10 percent tariffs.  Those tariffs are in addition to the 25 percent tariffs that had previously been announced on 50 billion dollars worth of Chinese exports.  These new tariffs are scheduled to go into effect on August 30th, and the Chinese have already pledged to retaliate.

In essence, our trade war with China has now “gone nuclear”, and this is going to have extremely serious implications for the U.S. economy.  The following is a short excerpt from the statement that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released about these new tariffs…

On Friday, in response to unfair Chinese practices, the United States began imposing tariffs of 25 percent on approximately $34 billion worth of Chinese imports. These tariffs will eventually cover up to $50 billion in Chinese imports as legal processes conclude. The products targeted by the tariffs are those that benefit from China’s industrial policy and forced technology transfer practices.

China has since retaliated against the United States by imposing tariffs on $34 billion in U.S. exports to China, and threatening tariffs on another $16 billion. It did this without any international legal basis or justification.

As a result of China’s retaliation and failure to change its practices, the President has ordered USTR to begin the process of imposing tariffs of 10 percent on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports. This is an appropriate response under the authority of Section 301 to obtain the elimination of China’s harmful industrial policies.

Without a doubt, something needed to be done about China’s unfair trade practices.  The Chinese manipulate currency rates, they impose very high tariffs on U.S. goods, and they have been stealing our intellectual property for decades.

But it is very unlikely that anyone is going to “win” this trade war, and in the short-term all it is going to mean is a whole lot of economic and financial pain.

According to Politico, the new tariff list that was just released hits a very broad range of products…

The new tariff list broadens the types of goods caught up in the trade war by targeting items like seafood, minerals, chemicals, and personal care items, such as shampoo and soap. It also includes a number of consumer products such as handbags, luggage, gloves and paper.

Do you buy any of those things?

Well, expect to pay significantly more in the not too distant future.

When compiling this new list, the Trump administration specifically “took into account what could cause disruptions to China’s economy”.  The following comes from CNBC

Some of the products on the list facing tariffs are from Made in China 2025 sectors, the official said. Made in China 2025 is a strategic plan to make China a leader in key global industries, including technology.

When compiling the list of goods, the U.S. Trade Representative took into account what could cause disruptions to China’s economy.

So what do you think that the Chinese are going to do in response?

Yes, they are going to look at measures that will “cause disruptions to America’s economy”.

The Chinese are a very proud people, and they aren’t stupid.  They know where our pain points are, and they will not be afraid to go for the jugular.

China cannot match this round of U.S. tariffs dollar for dollar, because China only imports approximately 130 billion dollars worth of U.S. goods a year.

But China could decide to cut off some or all agricultural imports from the United States, and that would be absolutely devastating to many farming states.  In fact, many farming states are already feeling substantial pain from the tariffs that China has already imposed…

“Agricultural states, I think, are being hit the hardest,” said Rodney Ludema, a Georgetown University professor and former senior international economist in the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama. The tariffs spare states “that are heavily service-dependent, like New York.”

In terms of value, some 38 percent of products on the tariff list are agricultural, including soybeans, sorghum, tobacco and meat, said Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. That’s bad news for farm-belt states, primarily in the Midwest.

In addition, China could decide to “go nuclear” by cutting off U.S. investment in China, by restricting our access to rare earth elements, or by dumping our debt.

The only reason why we have even been able to get to 21 trillion dollars in debt is because nations such as China have been buying our debt at ultra-low interest rates that are way below the real rate of inflation.

If China quit buying our debt and started dumping their current holdings, interest rates would start skyrocketing and we would be in a world of hurt almost immediately.

We don’t have the kind of leverage that some people seem to think that we have.  And there are many prominent experts that are warning that we are heading for catastrophic consequences.  For example, just consider what David Stockman recently told CNBC…

The United States is heading to a “massive trade war” because President Donald Trump “doesn’t know what he’s doing,” said former Reagan budget director David Stockman.

“We have an absurd policy — dangerous, stupid. The worst that I’ve seen since my whole career started in 1970 under [President Richard] Nixon, and he did some crazy things,” Stockman said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”

The financial markets have reacted very strongly to these latest developments.  As soon as the new tariffs were announced, Asian stocks began to drop and Dow futures plummeted about 300 points from the closing highs.

Unfortunately, most ordinary Americans simply do not grasp the importance of what is happening, because we have never seen anything like this in modern American history.  The two largest economies on the entire planet are now in a state of economic conflict, and there is no way that this is going to end well.

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.

Experts Warn Of Chaos For The U.S. Economy As China Declares That “The Biggest Trade War In Economic History” Has Begun

Nothing is going to be the same after this.  On Friday, the United States hit China with 34 billion dollars in tariffs, and China immediately responded with similar tariffs.  If it stopped there, this trade war between the United States and China would not be catastrophic for the global economy.  But it isn’t going to stop there.  Donald Trump is already talking about hitting China with an additional 500 billion dollars in tariffs, which would essentially cover pretty much everything that China exports to the U.S. in a typical year.  The Chinese have accused Trump of starting “the biggest trade war in economic history”, and they are pledging to fight for as long as it takes.  As I discussed yesterday, the only way that one side is going to “win” this trade war is if the other side completely backs down, and that simply is not going to happen.  So there is going to be economic pain, and that pain is likely to intensify for as long as this trade war persists.  U.S. businesses that will be affected by foreign tariffs are already cutting back production and laying off workers, and CNN is reporting that 1,300 products have suddenly become more expensive for U.S. consumers.  There will be nowhere that anyone can hide from this trade war, and it will ultimately affect every single man, woman and child in the entire country.

Most Americans are not paying any attention to these ongoing developments, but the Chinese sure are.

Earlier today, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce called the U.S. tariffs “typical trade bullying”, and it warned that this trade war could trigger “global market turmoil”

“This act is typical trade bullying,” the spokesperson said, before adding: “It seriously jeopardizes the global industrial chain … Hinders the pace of global economic recovery, triggers global market turmoil and will affect more innocent multinational companies, general companies and consumers.”

China’s primary English language newspaper was even more direct with their criticism

The government-run English language China Daily newspaper said: “The Trump administration is behaving like a gang of hoodlums with its shakedown of other countries, particularly China.”

Here in the United States, the start of a major trade war with China really doesn’t seem like that big of a deal if you listen to the mainstream media.  Most people just seem to think that things will continue to go well for our country no matter how many stupid decisions we make.  It is almost as if a lot of Americans no longer understand that extremely reckless acts can have exceedingly severe consequences.

One man that understands what is happening is the founder of the largest hedge fund on the entire planet.  On Friday, Ray Dalio posted the following ominous message on Twitter

“Today is the first day of the war with China.”

Please note that he did not say “the trade war with China”.

The truth is that trade wars can often lead to shooting wars, and we need to hope that cooler heads will prevail.

But for now, it looks like things will continue to escalate

But Trump has said his administration will respond to retaliation from Beijing with much bigger waves of tariffs, raising the prospect of worsening tit-for-tat reprisals. On Thursday, he suggested the possibility of tariffs on almost $500 billion more of Chinese goods.

He described the potential escalation to reporters aboard Air Force One: “Thirty-four, and then you have another 16 in two weeks and then, as you know, we have 200 billion in abeyance and then after the 200 billion we have 300 billion in abeyance. OK?” Trump said. “So we have 50 plus 200 plus almost 300.”

If we hit China with 500 billion dollars in tariffs, there is no telling what the Chinese might do.

As I discussed the other day, the Chinese could start dumping our debt or cut off our access to rare earth elements.

Either move would be absolutely catastrophic for the United States.

We don’t know how this trade war will ultimately end, but as Reuters has pointed out, “it’s going to get ugly”…

The U.S.-China trade war will be fought in the trenches, and it’s going to get ugly. The first round of tariffs hits on Friday, and U.S. President Donald Trump says they might come to cover more than $500 billion of goods. Exporters will feel the pain first, but uncertainty will also dampen investment, impede research and twist reform. It marks a moment of mourning for those who hoped the world’s two largest economies could work things out.

And guess what?

Russia just joined the trade war against the United States as well.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

Whether this is a coordinated response is unclear – and certainly on a much smaller scale – but Bloomberg reports that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree this morning imposing higher tariffs on U.S. products in retaliation for U.S. duties on metals imports, according to Economy Ministry statement.

Reuters reports that Russia’s additional duties will apply to imports of fiber optics, equipment for road construction, oil and gas industry, metal processing and mining, according to an economy ministry statement.

These tariffs are going to have very real consequences for U.S. businesses and U.S. workers.

Even though this trade war just started, some firms are already being hit very hard.  Here is one example from USA Today

Trans-Matic, of Holland, Michigan, shapes metal, mostly into auto parts, as well as components for door locks. It has paid higher steel costs for several months as U.S. steelmakers raised prices in anticipation of higher American tariffs on metal imports, company Chief Financial Officer Steve Patterson says.

Trans-Matic has passed along the price hikes to its auto-supplier customers, but some have scaled back orders, reducing Trans-Matic’s revenue in that key sector by 5 to 10 percent, Patterson says. As a result, the company is giving its 300 U.S. employees about five hours a week in overtime instead of their usual 10.

For other firms, layoffs have already become a reality.  Just ask the largest nail maker in the United States

In Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Mid-Continent Nail, the nation’s largest nail maker, laid off 60 workers last month. Sales plunged 70 percent after Trump placed a 25 percent tariff on steel from Mexico and Canada. When the company boosted its prices, customers defected. Now, Mid-Continent is strongly considering a second round of 200 layoffs, company spokeswoman Elizabeth Heaton says, and all 500 employees could be axed by Labor Day.

The longer this trade war lasts, the worse things are going to get.

Fighting a trade war just with China would have been bad enough.  But instead, we have decided that we are going to take on pretty much the entire world simultaneously, and I don’t know if I have the words to describe how painful that is going to be for all of us.

Many Americans seem to believe that the U.S. economy is an unsinkable ship, and at this moment we are heading directly for an absolutely enormous iceberg.

Let us hope that someone is able to pull a rabbit out of a hat, because right now things are looking quite bleak.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The U.S. Trade War With China Officially Goes To The Next Level As Financial Markets Around The World Continue To Implode

Up until now, the U.S. trade war with China has simply been a bunch of threats and counter-threats, but now things are about to get very real.  On Friday, the first round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods becomes official, and these tariffs are going to fundamentally alter the economic relationship between the two largest economies on the entire planet.  Over the past several decades, U.S. consumers have loved gobbling up super-cheap goods from China, and the Chinese have used many of the dollars that they have been accumulating to fund our exploding national debt.  This symbiotic relationship has been bad for the United States in a lot of ways, and something had to be done, but in the short-term this trade war is going to be enormously painful.  Sadly, most Americans are completely oblivious to what is happening.  The following comes from Bloomberg

President Donald Trump is preparing to slap tariffs on Chinese goods early Friday, the first shot in a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

Tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods are scheduled to take effect at 12:01 a.m. in Washington, the U.S. Trade Representative confirmed in an email Thursday. The milestone marks a new and damaging phase in a conflict that has roiled markets and cast a shadow over the global growth outlook.

Another way should have been found to deal with our trade imbalances with China, because a trade war is not going to work.

Instead of giving in, the Chinese are promising to respond with measures of “equal scale, equal intensity”, and President Trump is already pledging to hit the Chinese with another 500 billion dollars in tariffs if the Chinese hit back in this manner…

Aboard Air Force One on his way to a rally in Montana, Trump told reporters he would also consider imposing additional tariffs on $500 billion in Chinese goods, should Beijing retaliate.

Once these escalations begin, where will they end?

The Chinese can really, really hurt us by dumping our debt and by cutting off our access to rare earth elements.

Would they really go that far?

And what would Trump do in response if the Chinese pull the trigger and decide to “go nuclear”?

It would be hard to overstate the pain that these tariffs will cause for U.S. businesses.  In fact, Bloomberg is reporting that some sectors are already being hit really hard in anticipation of what is going to happen…

The tariffs are already having an effect. As an example, Chinese companies are reselling U.S. soybeans, and Chinese companies are expected to cancel most of the remaining soybeans they have committed to buy from the U.S. in the year ending Aug. 31, once the extra tariffs take effect.

Of course the U.S. is not just fighting a trade war with China.  The United States has decided to wage trade wars with almost all of the major economic powers around the world simultaneously, and economic experts in France are warning that this could plunge the globe into a new economic crisis that “would likely be as devastating for the world economy as the 2008-2009 recession”

A full-scale trade war would likely be as devastating for the world economy as the 2008-2009 recession, warned France’s Council of Economic Advisors, a body which gives input to the country’s prime minister.

The United States and China could see a permanent loss of three percent of economic output and the European Union (EU) four percent in the case of a full-blown trade war, it estimated on Tuesday.

The wheels are in motion, and it is going to take a miracle to reverse course now.

In fact, it is being reported that “global trade is already collapsing”

While the US prepares to unleash its latest salvo in the trade war against China at midnight tonight, business surveys suggest that global trade is already collapsing

JPMorgan’s Global Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data suggest that trade growth has already slowed dramatically this year, as tensions over tariffs have escalated.

To get an idea of what they are talking about, just check out this chart.

And this comes at a time when financial markets around the planet are already imploding.  According to Egon von Greyerz, stock markets in China, Brazil and Turkey are already hovering around bear market territory…

But change starts in the periphery where very few are looking. Look at China where the Shanghai composite is down 23% since January. And look at Brazil where the Bovespa is off 17% so far this year and Turkey which has lost 20%.

What is important to understand is that most major markets are now looking extremely vulnerable, be it Japan, Germany or the US. Fundamentally most markets are overvalued with the help of central bank liquidity. Also, technically we are not far from crashes in most markets. Whilst there is always a possibility of a last hurrah, it looks like all markets have topped, including the US, and that later in 2018 we will see major falls. Once the bear markets start, they are likely to turn into secular trends that last many years and result in falls of 75% to 95%. Difficult to believe for most investors today, but nobody in 1929 believed that the Dow would fall 90% in the ensuing years and take 25 years to recover.

If our trade wars continue to escalate, and if the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates, and if civil unrest continues to grow in major cities all across America, it is only a matter of time before U.S. markets implode as well.

During a recent interview, Michael Pento was asked when things might really start falling apart, and he pointed to the month of October

“Well, I have put a check on the calendar for October because of the fact the rate of quantitative tightening goes to $50 billion per year, because the trade war will reach a crescendo, then because I believe, unfortunately because I am conservative, the Republicans lose the House of Representatives, because the Chinese credit boom will be in full reverse by October.

It is a confluence of events coming in October… we’ve already entered into the beginnings of a bear market around the world. The top 22 banks in the world are in a bear market. There are many, many examples of banks around the world that are in a bear market. You have a bear market in Chinese shares. 20% of the S&P 500 is in a bear market. This is an incipient bear market that is already beginning. I believe it manifests clearly to even the people on CNBC by October.

In the end, the exact timing does not matter that much, because if we continue down the road that we are on right now it is only a matter of time before disaster strikes.

We simply cannot continue to enjoy a massively inflated debt-fueled standard of living if we decide to provoke all of the other nations that are funding our debt by starting trade wars with them.

What we are doing does not make any sense at all, and there will most certainly be severe consequences in the not too distant future.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

12 Signs The Economic Slowdown The Experts Have Been Warning About Is Now Here

Since the election there has been this perception among the American public that the economy is improving, but that has not been the case at all.  U.S. GDP growth for the first quarter was just revised up to 1.2 percent, but that is even lower than the average growth of just 1.33 percent that we saw over the previous ten years.  But when you look even deeper into the numbers a much more alarming picture emerges.  Commercial and industrial loan growth is declining, auto loan defaults are rising, bankruptcies are absolutely surging and we are on pace to break the all-time record for most store closings in a single year in the United States by more than 20 percent.  All of these are points that I have covered before, but today I have 12 new facts to share with you.  The following are 12 signs that the economic slowdown that the experts have been warning about is now here…

#1 According to Challenger, the number of job cuts in May was 71 percent higher than it was in May 2016.

#2 We just witnessed the third worst drop in U.S. construction spending in the last six years.

#3 U.S. manufacturing PMI fell to an 8 month low in May.

#4 Financial stocks have lost all of their gains for the year, and some analysts are saying that this is “a terrible sign”.

#5 One new survey has found that 39 percent of all millionaires “plan to avoid investing in the coming month”.  That is the highest that figure has been since December 2013.

#6 Jobless claims just shot up to a five week high of 248,000.

#7 General Motors just reported another sales decline in May, and it is being reported that the company may be preparing for “more job cuts at its American factories”.

#8 After an initial bump after Donald Trump’s surprise election victory, U.S. consumer confidence is starting to fall.

#9 Since Memorial Day, Radio Shack has officially shut down more than 1,000 stores.

#10 Payless has just increased the number of stores that it plans to close to about 800.

#11 According to the Los Angeles Times, it is being projected that 25 percent of all shopping malls in the United States may close within the next five years.

#12 Over the past 12 months, the number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County has risen by a  staggering 23 percent.

And in case those numbers have not persuaded you that the U.S. economy is heading for rough times, I would encourage you to go check out my previous article entitled “11 Facts That Prove That The U.S. Economy In 2017 Is In Far Worse Shape Than It Was In 2016” for even more eye-popping statistics.

During a bubble, it can feel like the good times are just going to keep rolling forever.

But that never actually happens in reality.

The truth is that we are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble of all time, and the evidence is starting to mount that this debt bubble has just about run its course.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

A recurring theme on this website has been to periodically highlight the tremendous build up in US corporate debt, most recently in April when we showed that “Corporate Debt To EBITDA Hits All Time High.” The relentless debt build up is something which even the IMF recently noted, when in April it released a special report on financial stability, according to which 20% of US corporations were at risk of default should rates rise. It is also the topic of the latest piece by SocGen’s strategist Andrew Lapthorne who uses even more colorful adjectives to describe what has happened since the financial crisis, noting that “the debt build-up during this cycle has been incredible, particularly when compared to the stagnant progression of EBITDA.”

Lapthorne calculates that S&P1500 ex financial net debt has risen by almost $2 trillion in five years, a 150% increase, but this mild in comparison to the tripling of the debt pile in the Russell 2000 in six years. He also notes, as shown he previously, that as a result of this debt surge, interest payments cost the smallest 50% of stocks in the US fully 30% of their EBIT compared with just 10% of profits for the largest 10% and states that “clearly the sensitivity to higher interest rates is then going to be with this smallest 50%, while the dominance and financial strength of the largest 10% disguises this problem in the aggregate index measures.”

The same report noted that net debt growth in the U.S. is quickly headed toward negative territory, and the last time that happened was during the last recession.

We see similar things when we look at the 2nd largest economy on the entire planet.  According to Jim Rickards, China “has multiple bubbles, and they’re all getting ready to burst”…

China is in the greatest financial bubble in history. Yet, calling China a bubble does not do justice to the situation. This story has been touched on periodically over the last year.

China has multiple bubbles, and they’re all getting ready to burst. If you make the right moves now, you could be well positioned even as Chinese credit and currency crash and burn.

The first and most obvious bubble is credit. The combined Chinese government and corporate debt-to-equity ratio is over 300-to-1 after hidden liabilities, such as provincial guarantees and shadow banking system liabilities, are taken into account.

We just got the worst Chinese manufacturing number in about a year, and it looks like economic conditions over there are really starting to slow down as well.

Just like 2008, the coming crisis is going to be truly global in scope.

It is funny how our perspective colors our reality.  Just like in 2007, many are mocking those that are warning that a crisis is coming, but just like in 2009, after the crisis strikes many will be complaining that nobody warned them in advance about what was ahead.

And at this moment it may seem like we have all the time in the world to get prepared for the approaching storm, but once it is here people will be talking about how it seemed to hit us so quickly.

My hope is that many Americans will finally be fed up with our fundamentally flawed financial system once they realize that we are facing another horrendous economic crisis, and that in the aftermath they will finally be ready for the dramatic solutions that are necessary in order to permanently fix things.

I Feel Sick, Because The U.S. Is On The Verge Of Making An Extremely Costly Mistake

All day long I have just felt sick.  Right at this moment, we are closer to war with North Korea than we have been at any point since the Korean War ended in 1953.  If Donald Trump decides to launch a military strike against North Korea’s nuclear facilities, the consequences could be absolutely catastrophic.  The North Koreans have already promised to launch nukes at South Korea and at U.S. military bases in the region in return, and they also have vast stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons that they could use as well.  To get an idea of the chaos that just a handful of North Korean agents armed with biological weapons could unleash inside the United States, just see this article.  A military strike on North Korea could be the spark that sets off a global war in which millions of people die, and so we need to do all that we can to prevent this from happening.  My hope is that if people make enough noise that Trump will back down and decide not to attack.

Earlier today, I was sent the following piece of intel.  I was told that I could share it with all of my readers as long as I kept the name of the individual that sent it to me out of it.  According to this source, it certainly looks as though an attack is being prepared…

An O-5 silver maple leaf Air Force puke says the bomb buses in Guam are maximum loaded, fully fueled and reserves are topped off.  ‎ Reserves are only topped off just before the buses go airborne.

Kunsan has everything pointed north and ALL gates are closed…no traffic in or out.

7 air wings have been moved into the area and an augmented Carl Vinson CVN-70 (not alone) (per CMC x 2  and an O-5) has also moved into the area.

An O-5 barker and an O-6 Marine says all Easter leave has been cancelled with ALL‎ loaded up, geared up and warming up in several theaters.

Castle is locked and loaded.

Seoul is moving essential government and military personnel, as is true for U.S. Command Components and Personnel located at Yongsan‎, further south to Daegu.

AND…Red Cloud is ready to go on the war path with nobody sleeping in the wigwams, all the arrows have been taken from the box.

For those that don’t know, “Kunsan” refers to a U.S. Air Force base that is located at Gunsan Airport on the west coast of the Korean peninsula.

But just because these preparations are being made does not mean that a strike will actually happen.  In fact, there are some signs that indicate that we will not see a U.S. attack over the next several days.

For one thing, Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to be in South Korea on Sunday and Monday.  So it would seem that it would be quite unlikely that anything would happen during that time.

In addition, Fox News is reporting that the Trump administration has come to the conclusion that military force should not be used against North Korea…

But a U.S. military official, who requested anonymity to discuss planning, said the U.S. doesn’t intend to use military force against North Korea in response to either a nuclear test or a missile launch. The official said plans could change in the unlikely event a North Korean missile targets South Korea, Japan or U.S. territory.

But of course things seem to shift hour to hour with the Trump administration.  On Thursday, NBC News was reporting that the U.S. military was poised “to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea” if it looked like the North Koreans were about to conduct a nuclear weapons test…

The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

North Korea has warned that a “big event” is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend.

So I don’t know what is going to happen.  But without a doubt we are very close to war with North Korea at this moment, and I am going to join with millions of others to do whatever we can to prevent that from happening.

A war with North Korea would be far different from the wars that the U.S. military has been fighting in the Middle East.  An ideology known as “Juche” is essentially the national religion of North Korea.  In Juche, the people are put at the center of everything, and “the leader” is considered to be at the center of the people.  In other words, “the leader” is almost put at the level of a deity.

It is a very sick and twisted philosophy, but here in the western world we need to understand that when we openly talk about killing Kim Jong-Un on television and on the Internet, we are essentially threatening to kill their “god”.

And the reason that is a problem is because Kim Jong-Un is surrounded by throngs of brainwashed supporters that will carry out any order that he gives them.

Here in the western world, we consider it to be highly immoral to use chemical and biological weapons against innocent civilian populations, but the North Koreans do not share those moral values.

The North Koreans consider the United States to be the great force for evil in the world, and if they feel like their way of life is being threatened by the U.S. they will not hesitate to use those sorts of weapons.

And of course they are constantly threatening to use nuclear weapons against us.  Just today I saw a report that talked about how the North Koreans are threatening to unleash “nuclear thunderbolts”, and in another report the North Koreans were quoted as saying they would “ruthlessly ravage” the United States if they are attacked…

North Korea upped its warmongering with Donald Trump today in a series of menacing boasts threatening to ‘ravage’ US troops amid fears the two countries are heading for war.

The secretive state vowed to ‘pulverize’ US bases and South Korean capital Seoul if it was threatened by the US military, which is carrying out drills on the Korean peninsula. A US aircraft carrier group is steaming towards the region.

It claimed it would ‘ruthlessly ravage’ the US if Washington attacked.

North Korea is one of the most wicked nations on the entire planet, and I would certainly greatly rejoice if their government were to fall.

But I don’t see any way that a military strike on North Korea would be successful.

If the North Koreans were able to fire even a single nuclear or chemical warhead at a major city such as Seoul or Tokyo it would be the worst foreign policy disaster in the history of the United States.  The North Koreans would certainly be blamed, but the Trump administration would also be blamed for conducting such a reckless attack in the first place.  Our relationships with our allies in the region would be permanently destroyed, and this would benefit China greatly.

Without using nukes in an overwhelming first strike (which would be unthinkable), I don’t believe that there is any possible way that we could take out all of North Korea’s nukes before they had a chance to at least fire some of them off.

And if North Korea did nuke Seoul or Tokyo or any U.S. military bases in the region, we would almost be forced to respond with nukes of our own, and that would have to be followed up by a massive ground invasion to topple the regime.

So if Donald Trump is reading this, for the good of humanity I would like to strongly urge him not to conduct a military strike on North Korea at this time.  The risk is just way too great, and if things go wrong we could easily be looking at a scenario in which millions of people end up dead.