Independently-controlled cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin may or may not survive in the long run, but blockchain technology is definitely here to stay. This technology has revolutionized how digital financial transactions are conducted, and it was only a matter of time before the big boys began to adopt it. Previously, I have written about how the Washington Post is hyping something known as ‘Fedcoin’, but Fedcoin does not yet exist. However, a digital currency that uses blockchain technology that is called ‘Utility Settlement Coin’ is actually very real, and it is currently being jointly developed by four of the largest banking giants on the entire planet. The following was recently reported by Wolf Richter…
UBS, BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, Santander, the market operator ICAP, and the startup Clearmatics formed an alliance in 2016 to explore the use of digital currency between financial institutions and central banks, using blockchain.
The ultimate goal of the project is to create a digital currency known as Utility Settlement Coin (USC), which will facilitate payment and settlement for institutional financial markets.
I decided that I had to know more about Utility Settlement Coin, and so I decided to go to the source.
This is what the official Deutsche Bank website says about Utility Settlement Coin…
USC is an asset-backed digital cash instrument implemented on distributed ledger technology for use within global institutional financial markets. USC is a series of cash assets, with a version for each of the major currencies (USD, EUR, GBP, CHF, etc.) and USC is convertible at parity with a bank deposit in the corresponding currency. USC is fully backed by cash assets held at a central bank. Spending a USC will be spending its paired real-world currency.
UBS and Clearmatics launched the concept in September 2015 to validate the potential benefits of USC for capital efficiency, settlement and systemic risk reduction in global financial markets. The project was initially incubated as part of the UBS Crypto 2.0 Pathfinder Program, UBS’s initiative for research and experimentation on blockchain.
This could ultimately turn out to be a complete and total gamechanger. UBS, BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank and Santander are four of the biggest banks in the western world, and the fact that they are working on this project together is a sign that they are very serious about succeeding.
Will the general public still be willing to pay a huge premium for independently-controlled cryptocurrencies once the banksters start coming out with their own versions?
The cryptocurrency revolution is still in the very early stages, and nobody is exactly sure how it will end, but without a doubt the banksters will be a major player in this drama. If you doubt this, just consider what one of the top executives at UBS is saying about Utility Settlement Coin…
“Digital cash is a core component of a future financial market fabric based on blockchain technologies,” said Hyder Jaffrey, Head of Strategic Investment & FinTech Innovation at UBS Investment Bank. “There are several digital cash models being explored across the Street. The Utility Settlement Coin is focused on facilitating a new model for digital central bank cash.“
Digital central bank cash?
I don’t like the sound of that at all.
We definitely do not want the banksters to co-opt this movement. Blockchain technology should be used to free humanity from debt-based central banking, but instead the exact opposite could end up happening.
If someday independently-controlled cryptocurrencies are completely banned or suffocated nearly out of existence by oppressive regulation, the way would be clear for the banksters to force everyone to use their own digital currencies. There are many nations around the world that have already gone nearly cashless, and the potential for tyranny in a cashless system where all digital currency is controlled by the banksters would be absolutely off the charts.
Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.
Even though the nations of the world are very deeply divided on almost everything else, somehow virtually all of them have been convinced that central banking is the way to go. Today, less than 0.1% of the population of the world lives in a country that does not have a central bank. Do you think that there is any possible way that this is a coincidence? And it is also not a coincidence that we are now facing the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world. In Part I of this series, I discussed the fact that total global debt has reached 217 trillion dollars. Once you understand that central banks are designed to create endless debt, and once you understand that 99.9% of the global population lives in a country that has a central bank, then it finally makes sense why we have accumulated so much debt. The elite of the world use debt as a tool of enslavement, and central banking has allowed them to literally enslave the entire planet.
Some of you may not be familiar with how a “central bank” differs from a normal bank. The following definition of a “central bank” comes from Wikipedia…
A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is an institution that manages a state’s currency, money supply, and interest rates. Central banks also usually oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries. In contrast to a commercial bank, a central bank possesses a monopoly on increasing the monetary base in the state, and usually also prints the national currency, which usually serves as the state’s legal tender.
Over the past 100 years or so, we have seen central banks steadily be established all over the planet. At this point, there are just 8 very small nations that still do not have a central bank…
-Federated States of Micronesia
When you add the populations of those 8 nations together, it comes to much less than 0.1% of the global population.
But even though central banking is nearly universal, only a very small fraction of the global population can tell you how money is created.
Do you know where money comes from?
Here in the United States, most people just assume that the federal government creates money. But that is not true at all.
Many are absolutely shocked when they discover that U.S. currency is actually borrowed into existence. The federal government gives U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) to the Federal Reserve in exchange for money that the Federal Reserve creates out of thin air. The Federal Reserve then auctions off those bonds to the highest bidder.
Since the federal government must pay interest on those bonds, the amount of debt that is created in these transactions is actually greater than the amount of money that is created. But we are told that if we can just circulate the money throughout our economy fast enough and tax it at a high enough rate, then we can eventually pay off the debt. Of course that never actually happens, and so the federal government always has to go back and borrow even more money. This is called a debt spiral, and at this point we will never be able to escape it until we do away with this horrible system.
But why does our government (or any government for that matter) have to borrow money that is created by a central bank in the first place?
Why can’t governments just create money themselves?
Oops. That is the big secret that nobody is supposed to talk about.
Theoretically, the U.S. government doesn’t actually have to borrow a single penny. Instead of borrowing money the Federal Reserve creates out of thin air, the federal government could just create money directly and spend it into circulation.
Yes, this could actually happen. Back in 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 11110 which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue debt-free “United States Notes” which were not created by the Federal Reserve. These debt-free notes began to be issued, and you can still find them for sale on eBay today. Unfortunately, President Kennedy was assassinated shortly after this executive order was issued, and the notes were not in production for long.
If we had ultimately fully adopted “United States Notes” and had phased out Federal Reserve notes, we would not be 20 trillion dollars in debt today.
The elite of the world love to get national governments deep into debt, because it enables them to enslave entire populations while making an obscene amount of money in the process.
Back in 1913, an insidious plan was rushed through Congress just before Christmas that was based on a blueprint that had been developed by very powerful Wall Street interests. Author G. Edward Griffin did an extraordinary job of documenting how all of this happened in his book entitled “The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve”. A central bank was established, and it was purposely designed to create a government debt spiral, and that is precisely what happened.
Since 1913, the size of the national debt has gotten more than 6,000 times larger, and the value of our dollar has declined by more than 98 percent. Many conservatives are still under the illusion that we could get out of debt someday if we just grow the economy fast enough, but I have shown in another article that we have gotten to the point where this is mathematically impossible.
And most people are also operating under the false assumption that the Federal Reserve is part of the federal government. But that is not accurate either. The following comes from one of my previous articles…
There is often a lot of confusion about the Federal Reserve, because a lot of people think that it is simply an agency of the federal government. But of course that is not true at all. In fact, as Ron Paul likes to say, the Federal Reserve is about as “federal” as Federal Express is.
The Fed is an independent central bank that has even argued in court that it is not an agency of the federal government. Yes, the president appoints the leadership of the Fed, but the Fed and other central banks around the world have always fiercely guarded their “independence”. On the official Fed website, it is admitted that the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are organized “much like private corporations”, and they very much operate like private entities. They even issue shares of stock to the private banks that own them.
In case you were wondering, the federal government has zero shares.
According to the U.S. Constitution, a private central banking cartel should not be issuing our currency. In Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution, Congress is solely given the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.
So why in the world has this authority been given to a central bank?
The truth is that we do not need a central bank.
From 1872 to 1913, there was no central bank and no income tax, and it turned out to be the greatest period of economic growth in all of U.S. history.
But since the Fed was established, there have been 18 different recessions or depressions: 1918, 1920, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008.
Abolishing the Federal Reserve is one of the core issues of my platform, and I have been writing about these things for the last seven years.
As I discussed yesterday, the elite use debt to enslave all of the rest of us, and central banking allows them to literally dominate the entire planet.
Until we abolish this debt-based system and go to a currency that is debt-free, we are never going to permanently solve our very deep long-term economic and financial problems.
But because they are so immensely wealthy, the elite are able to wield extraordinary influence in our society. They control the mainstream media, our politicians and even global institutions such as the United Nations. Anyone that would dare to question the validity of the current system is marginalized, and for a long time very few politicians around the world were even willing to speak out against central banking.
However, that is starting to change. A new generation of leaders is rising up, and they are absolutely determined to break the stranglehold that the elite have on our society. It won’t be easy, but if we are able to wake enough people up, I believe that we will eventually be able to free ourselves from this insidious system.
Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.
Could you survive on just $2.50 a day? According to Compassion International, approximately half of the population of the entire planet currently lives on $2.50 a day or less. Meanwhile, those hoarding wealth at the very top of the global pyramid are rapidly becoming a lot wealthier. Don’t get me wrong – I am a very big believer in working hard and contributing something of value to society, and those that work the hardest and contribute the most should be able to reap the rewards. In this article I am in no way, shape or form criticizing true capitalism, because if true capitalism were actually being practiced all over the planet we would have far, far less poverty today. Instead, our planet is dominated by a heavily socialized debt-based central banking system that systematically transfers wealth from hard working ordinary citizens to the global elite. Those at the very top of the pyramid know that they are impoverishing everyone else, and they very much intend to keep it that way.
Let’s start with some of the hard numbers. According to Zero Hedge, Credit Suisse had just released their yearly report on global wealth, and it shows that 45.6 percent of all the wealth in the world is controlled by just 0.7 percent of the people…
As Credit Suisse tantalizingly shows year after year, the number of people who control just shy of a majority of global net worth, or 45.6% of the roughly $255 trillion in household wealth, is declining progressively relative to the total population of the world, and in 2016 the number of people who are worth more than $1 million was just 33 million, roughly 0.7% of the world’s population of adults. On the other end of the pyramid, some 3.5 billion adults had a net worth of less than $10,000, accounting for just about $6 trillion in household wealth.
And since this is a yearly report, we can go back and see how things have changed over time. When Zero Hedge did this, it was discovered that the wealth of those at the very top “has nearly doubled” over the past six years, and meanwhile the poor have gotten even poorer…
Incidentally, we tracked down the first Credit Suisse report we found in this series from 2010, where the total wealth of the top “layer” in the pyramid was a modest $69.2 trillion for the world’s millionaires. It has nearly doubled in the 6 years since then. Meanwhile, the world’s poorest have gotten, you got it, poorer, as those adults who were worth less than $10,000 in 2010 had a combined net worth of $8.2 trillion, a number which has since declined to $6.1 trillion in 2016 despite a half a billion increase in the sample size.
If these trends continue at this pace, it won’t be too long before the global elite have virtually all of the wealth and the rest of us have virtually nothing.
Perhaps you are fortunate enough to still have a good job, and you live in a large home and you will sleep in a warm bed tonight.
Well, you should consider yourself to be very blessed, because that is definitely not the case for most of the rest of the world. The following 11 facts about global poverty come from dosomething.com, and I want you to really let these numbers sink in for a moment…
- Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.
- 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
- 805 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. Food banks are especially important in providing food for people that can’t afford it themselves. Run a food drive outside your local grocery store so people in your community have enough to eat. Sign up for Supermarket Stakeout.
- More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people per day.
- In 2011, 165 million children under the age 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) due to chronic malnutrition.
- Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children a year who are too poor to afford proper treatment.
- As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year of age worldwide had not received the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
- 1/4 of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people.
- 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.
- Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty–that’s less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest billionaires.
- The World Food Programme says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
So how did we get here?
Debt is the primary mechanism that takes wealth from ordinary people like you and me and puts it into the hands of the global elite.
In my recent article entitled “Why Donald Trump Must Shut Down The Federal Reserve And Start Issuing Debt-Free Money“, I discussed how the Federal Reserve was designed to entrap the U.S. government in an endless debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape. And that is precisely what has happened, as the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913.
In that very same year, the federal income tax was instituted, and that is a key part of the program for the global elite. You see, the income tax is how wealth is transferred from us to the government. And then a continuously growing national debt is how that wealth is transferred from the government to the elite.
It is a very complicated system, but at the end of the day it is all about taking money from us and getting it into their pockets.
And at this point more than 99.9 percent of the population of the world lives in a country with a central bank, and almost every nation on the planet has some form of income tax.
It is a global system that is designed to create as much debt as possible, and I recently shared with my readers that the total amount of debt in the world has hit a staggering all-time record high of 152 trillion dollars.
Interestingly, the Bible actually foretells of a time when rich men would hoard wealth in the last days. The following are the first five verses of the Book of James in the Modern English Version…
Come now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasures for the last days. 4 Indeed the wages that you kept back by fraud from the laborers who harvested your fields are crying, and the cries of those who harvested have entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. 5 You have lived in pleasure on the earth and have been wayward. You have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter.
So much of the time we focus on the other great sins that we see all around us, but the truth is that one of the greatest sins of all in our world today is the sin of greed.
The borrower is the servant of the lender, and the global elite have used various forms of debt to turn the rest of the planet into their debt slaves.
As debt levels race higher and higher all over the planet, the elite are using the magic of compound interest to grab a bigger and bigger share of the pie.
Given enough time, those at the very top would have virtually everything and the rest of us would have virtually nothing. The middle class is shrinking all over the globe, and the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to grow at an astounding pace.
But the vast majority of people out there have no idea how money, debt, taxes and central banks really work, and so they have no idea that this is purposely being done to them.
So please share this article with as many people as you can. The truth is that we don’t have to have this much global poverty, and if we correctly identify the root causes of this poverty we can start working on some real solutions.
The largest and most important bank in the largest and most important economy in Europe is imploding right in front of our eyes. Deutsche Bank is the 11th biggest bank on the entire planet, and due to the enormous exposure to derivatives that it has, it has been called “the world’s most dangerous bank“. Over the past year, I have repeatedly warned that Deutsche Bank is heading for disaster and is a likely candidate to be “the next Lehman Brothers”. If you would like to review, you can do so here, here and here. On September 16th, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Justice wanted 14 billion dollars from Deutsche Bank to settle a case related to the mis-handling of mortgage-backed securities during the last financial crisis. As a result of that announcement, confidence in the bank has been greatly shaken, the stock price has fallen to record lows, and analysts are warning that Deutsche Bank may be facing a “liquidity event” unlike anything that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers back in 2008.
At one point on Friday, Deutsche Bank stock fell below the 10 euro mark for the first time ever before bouncing back a bit. A completely unverified rumor that was spreading on Twitter that claimed that Deutsche Bank would settle with the Department of Justice for only 5.4 billion dollars was the reason for the bounce.
But the size of the fine is not really the issue now. Shares of Deutsche Bank have fallen by more than half so far in 2016, and this latest episode seems to have been the final straw for the deeply troubled financial institution. Old sources of liquidity are being cut off, and nobody wants to be the idiot that offers Deutsche Bank a new source of liquidity at this point.
As a result, Deutsche Bank is potentially facing a “liquidity event” on a scale that we have not seen since the financial crisis of 2008. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
It is not solvency, or the lack of capital – a vague, synthetic, and usually quite arbitrary concept, determined by regulators – that kills a bank; it is – as Dick Fuld will tell anyone who bothers to listen – the loss of (access to) liquidity: cold, hard, fungible (something Jon Corzine knew all too well when he commingled and was caught) cash, that pushes a bank into its grave, usually quite rapidly: recall that it took Lehman just a few days for its stock to plunge from the high double digits to zero.
It is also liquidity, or rather concerns about it, that sent Deutsche Bank stock crashing to new all time lows earlier today: after all, the investing world already knew for nearly two weeks that its capitalization is insufficient. As we reported earlier this week, it was a report by Citigroup, among many other, that found how badly undercapitalized the German lender is, noting that DB’s “leverage ratio, at 3.4%, looks even worse relative to the 4.5% company target by 2018” and calculated that while he only models €2.9bn in litigation charges over 2H16-2017 – far less than the $14 billion settlement figure proposed by the DOJ – and includes a successful disposal of a 70% stake in Postbank at end-2017 for 0.4x book he still only reaches a CET 1 ratio of 11.6% by end-2018, meaning the bank would have a Tier 1 capital €3bn shortfall to the company target of 12.5%, and a leverage ratio of 3.9%, resulting in an €8bn shortfall to the target of 4.5%.
The more the stock price drops, the faster other financial institutions, investors and regular banking clients are going to want to pull their money out of Deutsche Bank. And every time there is news about people pulling money out of the bank, that is just going to drive the stock price even lower.
In other words, Deutsche Bank may be entering a death spiral that may be impossible to stop without a government bailout, and the German government has already stated that there will be no bailout for Deutsche Bank.
Banking customers have a total of approximately 566 billion euros deposited with the bank, and even if a small fraction of those clients start demanding their money back it is going to cause a major, major crunch.
Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan attempted to calm nerves on Friday by releasing a memo to employees that blamed “speculators” for the decline in the stock price…
Instead of doing what many have correctly suggested he should be doing, namely focusing on ways to raise more capital for the undercapitalized Deutsche Bank in order to stem the slow (at first) liquidity leak, first thing this morning CEO John Cryan issued another morale-boosting note to employees of Deustche Bank who have been watching their stock price crash to another record low, dipping under €10 in early trading for the first time ever. In the memo the embattled CEO worryingly did what Dick Fuld and other chief executives did when they felt the situation slipping out of control, namely blaming evil “rumor-spreading” shorts, saying “our bank has become subject to speculation. Ongoing rumours are causing significant swings in our stock price. … Trust is the foundation of banking. Some forces in the markets are currently trying to damage this trust.”
Just as important, Cryan confirms the Bloomberg report that “a few of our hedge fund clients have reduced some activities with us. That is causing unjustified concerns.” As we explained last night, the concerns are very much justified if they spread to the biggest risk-factor for the German bank: its depositors, which collectively hold over €550 billion in liquidity-providing instruments.
If you would like to ready the full memo, you can do so right here.
One of the reasons why Deutsche Bank is considered to be so systemically “dangerous” is because it has 42 trillion euros worth of exposure to derivatives. That is an amount of money that is 14 times larger than the GDP of the entire nation of Germany.
Some firms that were derivatives clients of the bank have already gotten spooked and have moved their business to other institutions. It was this report from Bloomberg that really helped drive down the stock price of Deutsche Bank earlier this week…
The funds, a small subset of the more than 800 clients in the bank’s hedge fund business, have shifted part of their listed derivatives holdings to other firms this week, according to an internal bank document seen by Bloomberg News. Among them are Izzy Englander’s $34 billion Millennium Partners, Chris Rokos’s $4 billion Rokos Capital Management, and the $14 billion Capula Investment Management, said a person with knowledge of the situation who declined to be identified talking about confidential client matters.
“The issue here is now one of confidence,” said Chris Wheeler, a financial analyst with Atlantic Equities LLP in London.
So what comes next?
Monday is a banking holiday for Germany, so we may not see anything major happen until Tuesday.
An announcement of a major reduction in the Department of Justice fine may buy Deutsche Bank some time, but any reprieve would likely only be temporary.
What appears to be more likely is the scenario that Jeffrey Gundlach is suggesting…
But Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive of DoubleLine Capital, said investors betting that Berlin would not rescue Deutsche could find themselves nursing big losses.
‘The market is going to push down Deutsche Bank until there is some recognition of support. They will get assistance, if need be,’ said Gundlach, who oversees more than $100 billion at Los Angeles-based DoubleLine.
It will be very interesting to see how desperate things become before the German government finally gives in to the pressure.
The complete and total collapse of Deutsche Bank would be an event many times more significant for the global financial system than the collapse of Lehman Brothers was. Global leaders simply cannot afford for such a thing to happen, but without serious intervention it appears that is precisely where we are heading.
Personally, I don’t know exactly what will happen next, but it will be fascinating to watch.
Do you remember when our politicians promised to do something about the “too big to fail” banks? Well, they didn’t, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. On Thursday, it was announced that one of those “too big to fail” banks, Wells Fargo, has been slapped with 185 million dollars in penalties. It turns out that for years their employees had been opening millions of bank and credit card accounts for customers without even telling them. The goal was to meet sales goals, and customers were hit by surprise fees that they never intended to pay. Some employees actually created false email addresses and false PIN numbers to sign customers up for accounts. It was fraud on a scale that is hard to imagine, and now Wells Fargo finds itself embroiled in a major crisis.
There are six banks in America that basically dwarf all of the other banks – JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. If a single one of those banks were to fail, it would be a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions for our financial system. So we need these banks to be healthy and running well. That is why what we just learned about Wells Fargo is so concerning…
Employees of Wells Fargo (WFC) boosted sales figures by covertly opening the accounts and funding them by transferring money from customers’ authorized accounts without permission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Los Angeles city officials said.
An analysis by the San Francisco-headquartered bank found that its employees opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized by consumers, the officials said. Many of the transfers ran up fees or other charges for the customers, even as they helped employees make incentive goals.
Wells Fargo says that 5,300 employees have been fired as a result of this conduct, and they are promising to clean things up.
Hopefully they will keep their word.
It is interesting to note that the largest shareholder in Wells Fargo is Berkshire Hathaway, and Berkshire Hathaway is run by Warren Buffett. There has been a lot of debate about whether or not this penalty on Wells Fargo was severe enough, and it will be very interesting to hear what he has to say about this in the coming days…
Wells Fargo is the most valuable bank in America, worth just north of $250 billion. Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA), the investment firm run legendary investor Warren Buffett, is the company’s biggest shareholder.
“One wonders whether a penalty of $100 million is enough,” said David Vladeck, a Georgetown University law professor and former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “It sounds like a big number, but for a bank the size of Wells Fargo, it isn’t really.”
After the last crisis, we were told that we would never be put in a position again where the health of a single “too big to fail” institution could threaten to bring down our entire financial system.
But our politicians didn’t fix the “too big to fail” problem.
Instead it has gotten much, much worse.
Back in 2007, the five largest banks held 35 percent of all bank assets. Today, that number is up to 44 percent…
Since 1992, the total assets held by the five largest U.S. banks has increased by nearly fifteen times! Back then, the five largest banks held just 10 percent of the banking industry total. Today, JP Morgan alone holds over 12 percent of the industry total, a greater share than the five biggest banks put together in 1992.
Even in the midst of the global financial crisis, the largest U.S. banks managed to increase their hold on total bank industry assets. The assets held by the five largest banks in 2007 – $4.6 trillion – increased by more than 150 percent over the past 8 years. These five banks went from holding 35 percent of industry assets in 2007 to 44 percent today.
Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 smaller institutions have disappeared from our financial system since the beginning of the last crisis.
So the problem of “too big to fail” is now larger than ever.
Considering how reckless these big banks have been, it is inevitable that one or more of them will fail at some point. When that takes place, it will make the collapse of Lehman Brothers look like a Sunday picnic.
And with each passing day, the rumblings of a new financial crisis grow louder. For example, this week we learned that commercial bankruptcy filings in the United States in August were up a whopping 29 percent compared to the same period a year ago…
In August, US commercial bankruptcy filings jumped 29% from a year ago to 3,199, the 10th month in a row of year-over-year increases, the American Bankruptcy Institute, in partnership with Epiq Systems, reported today.
There’s money to be made. While stockholders and some creditors get raked over the coals, lawyers make a killing on fees. And some folks on the inside track, hedge funds, and private equity firms can make a killing picking up assets for cents on the dollar.
Companies are going bankrupt at a rate that we haven’t seen since the last financial crisis, but nobody seems concerned.
Back in 2007 and early 2008, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, President Bush and a whole host of “experts” assured us that everything was going to be just fine and that a recession was not coming.
Today, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Barack Obama and a whole host of “experts” are assuring us that everything is going to be just fine and that a recession is not coming.
I hope that they are right.
I really do.
But there is a reason why so many firms are filing for bankruptcy, and there is a reason why so many Americans are getting behind on their auto loans.
Our giant debt bubble is beginning to burst, and this is going to cause a tremendous amount of financial chaos.
Let us just hope that the “too big to fail” banks can handle the stress this time around.
The biggest and most important bank in the biggest and most important country in Europe continues to implode right in front of our eyes. If you follow my work regularly, you probably already know that I issued a major alarm about Deutsche Bank last September. Subsequently, Deutsche Bank stock hit an all-time low. Then I sounded the alarm about Deutsche Bank again back in May, and once again that was followed by another all-time low for Deutsche Bank. And then I warned about Deutsche Bank again in early June, and you can probably imagine what happened after that. Over the past year, this German banking giant has literally been coming apart at the seams, and in so many ways it is paralleling exactly what happened to Lehman Brothers back in 2008.
Today, we got some more bad news from Deutsche Bank. Compared to the exact same period last year, profits were down 98 percent. A nearly 100 percent drop in net income spooked a lot of investors, and Deutsche Bank shares got hit hard on Wednesday. Of course Deutsche Bank shares are already down by more than half over the past 12 months, and the financial sharks can smell blood in the water.
Just like Lehman Brothers in 2008, Deutsche Bank is essentially in panic mode at this point. They recently announced that they will be closing 188 branches and that 3,000 workers will be losing their jobs. But this could just be the beginning of the layoffs at the bank. According to some reports, the bank could cut up to 35,000 jobs by the year 2020, and CEO John Cryan recently admitted that they “may have to accelerate cost-cutting measures“.
What makes all of this even more alarming is that Deutsche Bank is widely considered to be “the most dangerous bank” on the entire planet. The following comes from a CNN article posted just today entitled “The world’s riskiest bank is in trouble“…
What is going on with Deutsche Bank?
Germany’s biggest lender was dubbed the world’s riskiest bank by the International Monetary Fund last month, just as one of its U.S. businesses failed a Federal Reserve stress test.
Its shares are down 45% this year, and on Wednesday it said second quarter profits were wiped out by a 98% slump in earnings. The stock fell 2.5% in Frankfurt.
The primary reason why Deutsche Bank is “the world’s riskiest bank” is because of the mammoth derivatives portfolio that is possesses. It currently has 42 trillion euros of exposure to derivatives, which is an amount of money about 13 times the size of the entire German economy.
When Deutsche Bank finally goes down for good, it is going to be “the shot heard around the financial world”, and it will be a disaster many times greater than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Just consider what Jeff Gundlach had to say about the bank earlier this year…
“Banks are dying and policymakers don’t know what to do,” Gundlach said. “Watch Deutsche Bank shares go to single digits and people will start to panic… you’ll see someone say, ‘Someone is going to have to do something.'”
As I write this, shares of Deutsche Bank are sitting at just $13.63, and many experts are having a very difficult time finding any reason for optimism. In fact, Edward Misrahi has stated that the bank is his number one short trade, and Jim Collins says that “it is just impossible” to recommend buying shares of Deutsche Bank even at this depressed level…
As an equity analyst, it is just impossible to recommend shares of a bank that is not growing revenue. So really, Deutsche is an untouchable, and the stock market is trying — to the tune of a 58% decline in DB’s market value in 12 months — to recalibrate Deutsche’s market capitalization to the true value of its assets net of liabilities. That’s a painful journey.
I don’t mean to just pick on Deutsche Bank. Certainly there are a lot of other major banks around the globe that are also teetering on the brink right now. Just take a look at Italy. Basically their entire banking system is in the process of melting down.
But the utter collapse of Italy’s banking system won’t have the same kind of worldwide impact that the collapse of Deutsche Bank will.
Unlike some of his predecessors, CEO John Cryan is being honest about some of the struggles that Deutsche Bank is going through right now, and he admits that they may need to be “more ambitious in our restructuring”. The following comes from Business Insider…
Cryan said in a statement (emphasis ours):
“We have continued to de-risk our balance sheet, to invest in our processes and to modernize our infrastructure. However, if the current weak economic environment persists, we will need to be yet more ambitious in the timing and intensity of our restructuring.”
He said something similar in a note to employees (emphasis again ours):
“Here I would like to speak plainly. If this weak economic environment persists, we will need to be still more ambitious in our restructuring. We will do everything in our power to accelerate the measures we have already planned.”
Yes, I know that the stock market in the United States has been setting all sorts of all-time record highs lately.
But that doesn’t change what is going on in the rest of the world one bit.
The financial crisis that has been gripping Europe, Asia, South America and most of the rest of the planet since the second half of last year is accelerating.
And it is inevitable that the U.S. is going to be experiencing some very real pain in the not too distant future as well.
So even though things may seem a bit quiet this summer in the financial world, the truth is that there is a whole lot going on under the surface.
Deutsche Bank is one glaringly obvious example of this, but there are many others all over the globe. And not too long from now, the dominoes will begin to fall very rapidly.
The big credit card companies don’t make much money off of those that pay their bills on time, and so they often specifically target less educated and less sophisticated consumers that don’t really understand the dangers of credit card debt. The goal is to find people that will carry credit card balances from month to month, because that is where the real money can be made. The average U.S. household that carries balances from month to month has approximately $15,310 in credit card debt right now. At an average interest rate of about 15 percent, the profits pile up very quickly for the big credit card companies. After all these years, so many of us still have not learned the truth about credit cards, and so credit card debt is absolutely crippling tens of millions of American families.
In 2015, the total amount of credit card debt in this country increased by a staggering 71 billion dollars. In a previous article, I explained to my readers that American consumers accumulated more new credit card debt during the fourth quarter of 2015 than they did during the entire years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined.
Many analysts are forecasting that the total amount of credit card debt will surpass a trillion dollars by the end of 2016. This is why there is such a crying need for financial education in this nation. Millions upon millions of us are being taken for a ride, and as I mentioned above, the big credit card companies often target those of us that are the least sophisticated about financial matters. The following comes from Bloomberg…
Credit-card companies need people to spend more than they can afford, but not so much that they default on their payments. So they could benefit from targeting individuals who are more likely to have cognitive failings. This is the dark side of behavioral finance.
Some new research by economists Antoinette Schoar of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Hong Ru of Nanyang Technological University claims to find exactly such a result. The authors use data from a private company that tracks credit-card offers. They find that less educated consumers — who are likely to be less financially sophisticated — are more frequently given offers that include back-loaded costs. Those are plans that start with low rates, but increase later, with extra-high over-limit and late-payment fees. In other words, those are likely to be the borrowers who make bad financial decisions — racking up debt and eventually paying much more in interest. Meanwhile, more educated households tend not to be offered these plans.
Do you understand what that is saying?
The large credit card companies want to find those of us that are the most vulnerable, because that is where their biggest profits can be made.
And of course most of us have gotten into trouble with credit card debt at some point. They don’t teach us how to manage our finances in high school or in college, and so most of us are very financially naive when we first get out into the real world. Card offers are being showered on our young people, and cash-strapped young adults can find it very easy to “buy now and pay later”…
Psychologically, it can be easier for people to pay using a credit card because no paper money is involved, Danford said. A Dun & Bradstreet study found that people spend an average of 12 to 18 percent more when using a credit card instead of cash.
“I think that’s one of the traps. It’s almost too easy to use a credit card,” Danford said. “You don’t have to think of the consequences.”
According to 2015 data from Experian, the average American had 2.24 credit cards, up from 2.18 in 2014.
Of all credit card users, what percentage do you think carries a balance from month to month?
Well, according to Time Magazine only 35 percent of those that use credit cards completely pay them off every single month. That means that 65 percent of those that use credit cards do carry a balance…
Only 35% of credit card users don’t carry a balance–they pay off their bill every month, like you’re supposed to. They use credit cards for convenience, and perhaps to generate bonus points and rewards, not because they need to borrow. If you’re a member of this group, you’re known as a “convenience user.” (Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for not being on the hook for high interest rates, but don’t gloat.) The other, more typical credit card users are known as “revolvers” because they don’t pay off their bills in full so the debt revolves. To them, credit limit increases are essentially invitations to spend more. It’s unsettling: “for revolvers, a 10% increase in credit is followed by a 1.3 percent increase in debt within one quarter and a 9.99% increase in debt over the long term,” the study found.
Unfortunately for the big credit card companies and the overall U.S. economy, it appears that U.S. consumers are starting to get tapped out.
Retail sales fell 2.9 percent in April, and then they dropped by 3.9 percent in May. As a result of these declining sales, corporate profits are suffering, and it is being projected that the final numbers for the second quarter of 2016 will show that corporate profits in the U.S. have now fallen for five quarters in a row.
That is not an “economic recovery”. Rather, that is what normally happens at the beginning of a major recession.
And don’t expect this to turn around any time soon, because Americans just don’t have the kind of discretionary income that they once did. The following comes from a New York Post article entitled “A staggering percentage of Americans are too poor to shop“…
Retailers have blamed the weather, slow job growth and millennials for their poor results this past year, but a new study claims that more than 20 percent of Americans are simply too poor to shop.
These 26 million Americans are juggling two to three jobs, earning just around $27,000 a year and supporting two to four children — and exist largely under the radar, according to America’s Research Group, which has been tracking consumer shopping trends since 1979.
So much of what is happening right now is very reminiscent of 2008. There was an explosion of credit card debt just before that crash as well.
We should have learned some very hard lessons the last time around, but we didn’t, and so now the pain for American families will be even greater this time.
If you are in credit card debt at this moment, it would be wise to try to eliminate it as soon as you can, because you definitely don’t want to be drowning in debt when times get really, really hard.
Last month, a “secret meeting” that involved more than 100 executives from some of the biggest financial institutions in the United States was held in New York City. During this “secret meeting“, a company known as “Chain” unveiled a technology that transforms U.S. dollars into “pure digital assets”. Reportedly, there were representatives from Nasdaq, Citigroup, Visa, Fidelity, Fiserv and Pfizer in the room, and Chain also claims to be partnering with Capital One, State Street, and First Data. This “revolutionary” technology is intended to completely change the way that we use money, and it would represent a major step toward a cashless society. But if this new digital cash system is going to be so good for society, why was it unveiled during a secret meeting for Wall Street bankers? Is there something more going on here than we are being told?
None of us probably would have ever heard about this secret meeting if it was not for a report in Bloomberg. The following comes from their article entitled “Inside the Secret Meeting Where Wall Street Tested Digital Cash“…
On a recent Monday in April, more than 100 executives from some of the world’s largest financial institutions gathered for a private meeting at the Times Square office of Nasdaq Inc. They weren’t there to just talk about blockchain, the new technology some predict will transform finance, but to build and experiment with the software.
By the end of the day, they had seen something revolutionary: U.S. dollars transformed into pure digital assets, able to be used to execute and settle a trade instantly. That’s the promise of a blockchain, where the cumbersome and error-prone system that takes days to move money across town or around the world is replaced with almost instant certainty.
So it is not just Michael Snyder from The Economic Collapse Blog that is referring to this gathering as a “secret meeting”. This is actually how it was described by Bloomberg. And I think that there is a very good reason why this meeting was held in secret, because many in the general public would definitely be alarmed by this giant step toward a cashless society. Here is more on this new system from Bloomberg…
While cash in a bank account moves electronically all the time today, there’s a distinction between that system and what it means to say money is digital. Electronic payments are really just messages that cash needs to move from one account to another, and this reconciliation is what adds time to the payments process. For customers, moving money between accounts can take days as banks wait for confirmations. Digital dollars, however, are pre-loaded into a system like a blockchain. From there, they can be swapped immediately for an asset.
“Instead of a record or message being moved, it’s the actual asset,” Ludwin said. “The payment and the settlement become the same thing.”
Why this is so alarming is because we are seeing other major moves toward a cashless system all over the planet. In Sweden, 95 percent of all retail transactions are already cashless, and ATM machines are being removed by the hundreds. In Denmark, government officials actually have a stated goal of “eradicating cash” by the year 2030. And in Norway, the biggest bank in the country has publicly called for the complete elimination of all cash.
Other nations in Europe have already banned cash transactions over a certain amount. Here are just a couple of examples…
As I have written about previously, cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain, and France and Italy have both banned all cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.
Little by little, cash is being eradicated, and what we have seen so far is just the beginning. 417 billion cashless transactions were conducted in 2014, and the final number for 2015 is projected to be much higher.
The global push toward a cashless society is only going to intensify, because banks and governments both tend to really like the idea of such a system.
Banks really like the concept of a cashless society because it would force everyone to be their customers. There would be no more hiding cash in a mattress at home or trying to pay all of your bills with paper money. Under a cashless system, we would all be dependent on the banks, and they would make lots of money whenever we swiped our cards or our “chips” were scanned.
Governments see a lot of advantages in a cashless society as well. They tell us that they would be able to crack down on drug dealers, tax evaders, terrorists and money launderers, but the truth is that it would enable them to watch, track, monitor and control virtually all of our financial transactions. Our lives would become open books to the government, and financial privacy would be a thing of the past.
In addition, the potential for tyranny would be absolutely off the charts.
Just imagine a world where the government could serve as the gatekeeper for who is allowed to use the cashless system and who is not. They could require that we all submit to some sort of government-issued form of identification before being permitted to operate within the system, or it is even conceivable that a loyalty oath would be required.
Of course if you did not submit to their demands, you could not buy, sell, open a bank account or get a job without access to the cashless system.
Hopefully people can understand where this is going. Paper money is a very important component of our freedom, and if it is taken away from us that will open the door for all sorts of abuse.
Even now, cash is slowly being “criminalized” in America. For example, if cash is used to pay for a hotel room that is considered by federal authorities to be “suspicious activity” that should be reported to the government. Of course it isn’t against the law to pay your hotel bill in cash just yet, but according to the government it is something that “terrorists” do so it needs to be closely watched.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see where all of this is going. And for those of us that understand what time it is, this is a clear indication that it is getting late in the game.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
Should central banks create money out of thin air and give it directly to governments and average citizens? If you can believe it, this is now under serious consideration. Since 2008, global central banks have cut interest rates 637 times, they have injected 12.3 trillion dollars into the global financial system through various quantitative easing programs, and we have seen an explosion of government debt unlike anything we have ever witnessed before. But despite these unprecedented measures, the global economy is still deeply struggling. This is particularly true in Japan, in South America, and in Europe. In fact, there are 16 countries in Europe that are experiencing deflation right now. In a desperate attempt to spur economic activity, central banks in Europe and in Japan are playing around with negative interest rates, and so far they seem to only have had a limited effect.
So as they rapidly run out of ammunition, global central bankers are now openly discussing something that might sound kind of crazy. According to the Telegraph, central banks are becoming increasingly open to employing a tactic known as “helicopter money”…
Faced with political intransigence, central bankers are openly talking about the previously unthinkable: “helicopter money”.
A catch-all term, helicopter drops describe the process by which central banks can create money to transfer to the public or private sector to stimulate economic activity and spending.
Long considered one of the last policymaking taboos, debate around the merits of helicopter money has gained traction in recent weeks.
Do you understand what is being said there?
The idea is basically this – central banks would create money out of thin air and would just give it to national governments or ordinary citizens.
So who would decide who gets the money?
Well, they would.
If you are anything like me, this sounds very much like Pandora’s Box being opened.
But this just shows how much of a panic there is among central bankers right now. They know that we are plunging into a new global economic crisis, and they are desperate to find something that will stop it. And if that means printing giant gobs of money and dropping it from helicopters over the countryside, well then that is precisely what they are going to do.
In fact, the chief economist at the European Central Bank is quite adamant about the fact that the ECB can print money out of thin air and “distribute it to people” when the situation calls for it…
ECB chief Mario Draghi has refused to rule out the prospect, saying only that the bank had not yet “discussed” such matters due to their legal and accounting complexity. This week, his chief economist Peter Praet went further in hinting that helicopter drops were part of the ECB’s toolbox.
“All central banks can do it“, said Praet. “You can issue currency and you distribute it to people. The question is, if and when is it opportune to make recourse to that sort of instrument“.
Apparently memories of the Weimar Republic must have faded over in Europe, because this sounds very much like what they tried to do. I don’t know why anyone would ever want to risk going down that road again.
Here in the United States, the Federal Reserve is not openly talking about “helicopter money” just yet, but that is only because the stock market is doing okay for the moment.
Most Americans don’t realize this, but the primary reason why stocks are doing better in the U.S. than in the rest of the world is because of stock buybacks. According to Wolf Richter, corporations spent more than half a trillion dollars buying back their own stocks over the past 12 months…
During the November-January period, 378 of the S&P 500 companies bought back their own shares, according to FactSet. Total buybacks in the quarter rose 5.2% from a year ago, to $136.6 billion. Over the trailing 12 months (TTM), buybacks totaled $568.9 billion.
When corporations buy back their own stocks, that means that they are slowly liquidating themselves. Instead of pouring money into new good ideas, they are just returning money to investors. This is not how a healthy economy should work.
But corporate executives love stock buybacks, because it increases the value of their stock options. And big investors love them too, because they love to see the value of their stock holdings rise.
So we will continue to see big corporations cannibalize themselves, but there are a couple of reasons why this is starting to slow down.
Number one, corporate profits are starting to fall steadily as the economy slows down, so there will be less income to plow into these stock buybacks.
Number two, many corporations have used debt to fund buybacks, but now it is getting tougher for corporations to get new funding as corporate defaults rise.
As stock buybacks slow, this is going to put downward pressure on the market, and we will eventually catch up with the rest of the planet. At this point, many experts are still calling for stocks to fall by another 40, 50 or 60 percent from current levels. For example, the following comes from John Hussman…
From a long-term investment standpoint, the stock market remains obscenely overvalued, with the most historically-reliable measures we identify presently consistent with zero 10-12 year S&P 500 nominal total returns, and negative expected real returns on both horizons.
From a cyclical standpoint, I continue to expect that the completion of the current market cycle will likely take the S&P 500 down by about 40-55% from present levels; an outcome that would not be an outlier or worst-case scenario, but instead a rather run-of-the-mill cycle completion from present valuations. If you are a historically-informed investor who is optimistic enough to reject the idea that the financial markets are forever doomed to extreme valuations and dismal long-term returns, you should be rooting for this cycle to be completed. If you are a passive investor, you should at least align your current exposure with your investment horizon and your tolerance for cyclical risk, which we expect to be similar to what we anticipated in 2000-2002 and 2007-2009.
When the S&P 500 does fall that much eventually, the Federal Reserve will respond with emergency measures.
So yes, we may see “helicopter money” employed in Japan and in Europe first, but we will see it here someday too.
I know that a lot of people out there are feeling pretty good about things for the moment because U.S. stocks have rebounded quite a bit lately. But remember, the fundamental economic numbers just continue to get even worse. Just today we learned that existing home sales in the United States had fallen by the most in six years. That is definitely not a sign that things are “getting better”, and I keep trying to warn people that tumultuous times are dead ahead.
And if global central bankers did not agree with me, they would not be talking about the need for “helicopter money” and other emergency measures.