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Why The Puerto Rico Debt Crisis Is Such A Huge Threat To The U.S. Financial System

Puerto Rico Map On A Globe - Photo by TUBSThe debt crisis in Puerto Rico could potentially cost financial institutions in the United States tens of billions of dollars in losses.  This week, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla publicly announced that Puerto Rico’s  73 billion dollar debt is “not payable,” and a special adviser that was recently appointed to help straighten out the island’s finances said that it is “insolvent” and will totally run out of cash very shortly.  At this point, Puerto Rico’s debt is approximately 15 times larger than the per capita median debt of the 50 U.S. states.  Yes, the Greek debt crisis is larger, as Greece currently owes about $350 billion to the rest of the planet.  But only about $14 billion of that total is owed to U.S. financial institutions.  But with Puerto Rico, things are very different.  Just about the entire 73 billion dollar debt is owed to U.S. financial institutions, and this could potentially cause massive problems for some extremely leveraged Wall Street firms.

There is a reason why Puerto Rico is called “America’s Greece”.  In Puerto Rico today, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty, the unemployment rate is over 12 percent, and the economy of the small island nation has continually been in recession since 2006.

Yet all this time Puerto Rico has continued to pile up even more debt.  Finally, it has gotten to the point where all of this debt is simply unpayable

Steven Rhodes, the retired U.S. bankruptcy judge who oversaw Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and has now been retained by Puerto Rico to help solve its problems, gave a blunt assessment on Monday.

Puerto Rico “urgently needs our help,” Rhodes said. “It can no longer pay its debts, it will soon run out of cash to operate, its residents and businesses will suffer,” he added.

This is why I hammer on the danger of U.S. government debt so often.  As we see with the examples of Greece and Puerto Rico, eventually a day of reckoning always arrives.  And when the day of reckoning arrives, power shifts into the hands of those that you owe the money too.

It would be hard to understate just how severe the debt crisis in Puerto Rico has become.  Former IMF economist Anne Krueger has gone so far as to say that it is “really dire”

The situation is dire, and I mean really dire,” said former IMF economist Anne Krueger, co-author of the report commissioned by the U.S. territory, which recommended debt restructuring, tax hikes and spending cuts. “The needed measures may face political resistance but failure to address the issues would affect even more the people of Puerto Rico.”

So who is going to get left holding the bag?

As I mentioned at the top of this article, major U.S. financial institutions are very heavily exposed.  Income from Puerto Rican bonds is exempt from state and federal taxation, and so that made them very attractive to many U.S. investors.  According to USA Today, there are 180 mutual funds that have “at least 5% of their portfolios in Puerto Rican bonds”…

The inability of the U.S. territory to repay its debt, combined with the financial crisis in Greece, would have far-reaching implications for financial markets and unsuspecting American investors. Morningstar, an investment research firm based in Chicago, estimated in 2013 that 180 mutual funds in the United States and elsewhere have at least 5% of their portfolios in Puerto Rican bonds.

It is important to keep in mind that many of these financial institutions are very highly leveraged.  So just a “couple of percentage points” could mean the different between life and death for some of these firms.

And unlike what is happening with Greece, the private financial institutions that hold Puerto Rican bonds are not likely to be very eager to “negotiate”.  In fact, the largest holder of Puerto Rican debt has already stated that it is very much against any kind of restructuring

U.S. fund manager OppenheimerFunds, the largest holder of Puerto Rico debt among U.S. municipal bond funds, warned the island it stands ready to defend the terms of bonds it holds, a day after the governor said he wanted to restructure debt and postpone bond payments.

What Oppenheimer is essentially saying is that it does not plan to give Puerto Rico any slack at all.  Here is more from the article that I just quoted above

OppenheimerFunds, with about $4.5 billion exposure to Puerto Rico according to Morningstar, said it believed the island could repay bondholders while providing essential services to citizens and growing the economy. It said it stood ready “to defend the previously agreed to terms in each and every bond indenture.”

“We are disheartened that Governor Padilla, in a public forum, has called for negotiations with other creditors, representing and including the millions of individual Americans that hold Puerto Rico municipal bonds,” a spokesman for Oppenheimer said in a statement.

But Puerto Rico simply does not have the money to meet all of their debt obligations.

So somebody is not going to get paid at some point.

When that happens, those that insure Puerto Rican bonds are also going to take tremendous losses.  The following comes from a recent piece by Stephen Flood

Now, bondholders are at risk as are the funds which hold Puerto Rican bonds and, more importantly, those who insure them in the derivatives market.

Dave Kranzler, from Investment Research Dynamics has warned that there are signs that the Puerto Rico situation may not remain a local crisis for much longer.

He points out that share prices of MBIA, the bond insurers, have been plummeting. MBIA are valued at $3.9 billion whereas their exposure to Puerto Rican debt is around $4.5 billion. Kranzler reckons their exposure could even be multiples of that figure. A default could wipe them out.

He also points out that the firm’s largest shareholders are Warburg Pincus, the firm to which Timothy Geithner went after his stint as Treasury Secretary, when he helped paper over the chasms opening up in the financial system.

Did you notice the word “derivatives” in that quote?

Hmmm – who has been writing endless articles warning about the danger of derivatives for years?

Who has been warning that “this gigantic time bomb is going to go off and absolutely cripple the entire global financial system“?

When Puerto Rico defaults, bond insurers are going to be expected to step up and make huge debt service payments to investors.

But this just might bankrupt some of these big bond insurers.  In fact, we have already started to see the stock prices of some of these bond insurers begin to plummet.  The following comes from the Wall Street Journal

Bond insurers MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc. are down again Tuesday as concerns over Puerto Rico’s ability to repay its debt multiply.

Investors fear that both firms face the potential for steep losses on their promises to backstop billions of Puerto Rico’s $72 billion of debt.

MBIA’s stock closed down 23% Monday, and fell more than 10% before rebounding Tuesday. By late afternoon, the stock was down 6%. Ambac’s stock fell 12% Monday and was off 14% Tuesday.

Of course Puerto Rico is just the tip of the iceberg of the coming debt crisis in the western hemisphere, just like Greece is just the tip of the iceberg of the coming debt crisis in Europe.

So stay tuned, because the second half of 2015 has now begun, and the remainder of this calendar year promises to be extremely “interesting”.

The Economic Collapse Blog Has Issued A RED ALERT For The Last Six Months Of 2015

Red Alert ButtonI have never done anything like this before.  Ever since I started The Economic Collapse Blog in late 2009, I have never issued any kind of “red alert” for any specific period of time.  As an attorney, I was trained to be level-headed and to only come to conclusions that were warranted by the evidence.  So this is not something that I am doing lightly.  Based on information that I have received, things that I have been told, and thousands of hours of research that have gone into the publication of more than 1,300 articles about our ongoing economic collapse, I have come to the conclusion that a major financial collapse is imminent.  Therefore, I am issuing a RED ALERT for the last six months of 2015.

To clarify, when I say “imminent” I do not mean that it will happen within the next 48 hours.  And I am not saying that our problems will be “over” once we get to the end of 2015.  In fact, I believe that the truth is that our problems will only be just beginning as we enter 2016.

What I am attempting to communicate is that we are right at the door of a major turning point.  About this time of the year back in 2008, my wife and I went to visit her parents.  As we sat in their living room, I explained to them that we were on the verge of a major financial crisis, and of course the events that happened a few months later showed that I was right on the money.

This time around, I wish that I could visit the living rooms of all of my readers and explain to them why we are on the verge of another major financial crisis.  Unfortunately, that is not possible, but hopefully this article will suffice.  Please share it with your friends, your family and anyone else that you want to warn about what is coming.

Let’s start with a little discussion about the U.S. economy.  Most of the time, when I use the term “economic collapse” what most people are actually thinking of is a “financial collapse”.  And we will talk about the imminent “financial collapse” later on in this article.  But just because stocks have recently been hitting all-time record highs does not mean that the overall economy has been doing well.  This is a theme that I have hammered on over and over again.  It is my contention that we are in the midst of a long-term economic collapse that has been happening for many years, that is happening as you read this article, and that will greatly accelerate over the coming months.

Let me give you just one quick example.  When an economy is healthy, money tends to circulate fairly rapidly.  I buy something from you, then you take that money and buy something from someone else, etc.  In a stable and growing economy, people generally feel good about things and they are not afraid to spend.  But during hard times, the exact opposite happens.  That is why the velocity of money almost always slows down during a recession.  As you can see from the chart below, the velocity of money has indeed gone down during every recession since 1960.  Once a recession is over, the velocity of money is supposed to go back up.  But a funny thing happened after the last recession ended.  The velocity of money continued to go down, and it has now hit an all-time record low…

Velocity Of Money M2

This is the kind of chart that you would expect from a very sick economy.  And without a doubt, our economy is sick.  Even the official government numbers paint a picture of an economy that is deeply troubled.  Corporate profits have declined for two quarters in a row, U.S. exports plunged by 7.6 percent during the first quarter of 2015, U.S. GDP contracted by 0.7 percent during the first quarter, and factory orders have declined year over year for six months in a row.

If the stock market was connected to reality, it would be going down.  But instead, it has just kept going up.  As I discussed yesterday, this is a classic case of an irrational financial bubble.  If I was writing an economic textbook and I wanted to include an example of what a run up to a major financial crash looks like, it would be hard to come up with anything more ideal than what we have watched unfold over the last six months.  Just about every pattern that has popped up prior to previous stock markets crashes is happening again, and this is something that I have written about so much that many of my readers are sick of it.

And without a doubt, our financial markets are primed for a crash.

Only two times before has the S&P 500 been up by more than 200 percent over a six year time frame.

The first was in 1929, and the stock market subsequently crashed.

The second was in 2000, right before the dotcom bubble burst.

And by just about any measure that you can possibly imagine, stocks are massively overvalued right now.

For instance, just check out the chart posted below.  It comes from Doug Short, and it shows that the ratio of corporate equity prices to GDP has only been higher one time since 1950.  That was in 2000 just before the dotcom bubble burst…

The Buffett Indicator from Doug Short

Let’s take a look at another chart.  This one comes from Phoenix Capital Research, and it shows that the CAPE ratio (cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio) has rarely been higher.  In fact, the only times that it has been higher we have seen stock market crashes immediately afterwards…

CAPE - Phoenix Capital Research

Yale economics professor Robert Shiller is also deeply concerned about the CAPE ratio

I think that compared with history, US stocks are overvalued. One way to assess this is by looking at the CAPE (cyclically adjusted P/E) ratio that I created with John Campbell, now at Harvard, 25 years ago. The ratio is defined as the real stock price (using the S&P Composite Stock Price Index deflated by the CPI) divided by the ten-year average of real earnings per share. We have found this ratio to be a good predictor of subsequent stock market returns, especially over the long run. The CAPE ratio has recently been around 27, which is quite high by US historical standards. The only other times it has been that high or higher were in 1929, 2000, and 2007—all moments before market crashes.

But the CAPE ratio is not the only metric I watch. In my book Irrational Exuberance (3rd Ed., Princeton 2015) I discuss several metrics that help judge what’s going on in the market. These include my stock market confidence indices. One of the indicators in that series is based on a single question that I have asked individual and institutional investors over the years along the lines of, “Do you think the stock market is overvalued, undervalued, or about right?” Lately, what I call “valuation confidence” captured by this question has been on a downward trend, and for individual investors recently reached its lowest point since the stock market peak in 2000.

Other valuation indicators produce similar results.  This next chart is another one from Doug Short, and it shows the average of four of his favorite valuation indicators.  As you can see, there is only one other time when stocks have been more overvalued than they are today according to the average of his four favorite indicators, and that was just before the stock market crashed when the dotcom bubble burst…

Four Valuation Indicators - Doug Short

Another one of the things that indicates that a financial bubble is happening is the level of margin debt.  Whenever margin debt has gone over 2.25% of GDP a stock market crash has always followed, and today it is far above that level.  As you can see from the chart below, there have been three major peaks in margin debt in modern U.S. history.  One was just before the dotcom bubble burst, one was just before the financial crisis of 2008, and the third is happening right now…

Margin Debt - Doug Short

Something else that we would expect to see prior to a major financial crisis is a decoupling of high yield debt and stocks.  This is something that happened just prior to the stock market crash of 2008, and it is happening again right now.  The following chart comes from Zero Hedge, and it demonstrates this brilliantly…

S&P 500 HY Credit

Are you starting to get the picture?

And as I discussed yesterday, the smart money is beginning to pull their money out of stocks while they still can.  According to USA Today, mutual fund investors have pulled more money out of stocks than they have put into stocks for 16 weeks in a row

In a sign of stock market nervousness on Main Street, mutual fund investors have yanked more money out of U.S. stock funds than they put in for 16 straight weeks.

The last time domestic stock funds had positive net cash inflows was in the week ending Feb. 25, according to data from the Investment Company Institute, a mutual fund trade group.

In the week ended June 17, the most recent data available, mutual funds that invest in U.S. stocks suffered net outflows of $3.45 billion, according to the ICI.

Since late February, U.S. stock funds have suffered estimated outflows of nearly $55 billion. Those net withdrawals come despite the fact the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 hit a fresh record high of 2130.82 on May 21 and the Dow Jones industrial average notched a fresh record on May 19.

But it isn’t just stocks that are going to crash during the next financial crisis.  Bonds are going to crash as well, but what I am concerned about most of all are derivatives.

Derivatives are going to play a starring role in the next major financial crisis.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  In fact, if you want to listen for just one word on the news that will let you know that things have started to really unravel, just listen for the word “derivatives”.  This form of legalized gambling is going to crush “too big to fail” banks all over the planet during the next major financial downturn.  The “too big to fail” banks in the U.S. alone have 278 trillion dollars of total exposure to derivatives, but they only have 9.8 trillion dollars in total assets.  To say that they are being “reckless” is a massive understatement.

For much more on the coming derivatives crisis, please see my previous article entitled “Warren Buffett: Derivatives Are Still Weapons Of Mass Destruction And ‘Are Likely To Cause Big Trouble’“.

Of course I am not the only one that is sounding the alarm about what is coming.  Just consider what some very prominent individuals have been saying recently…

Ron Paul has just released a new video in which he warned all of us to “prepare for a bear market in bonds“.

Carl Icahn says that financial markets are “extremely overheated—especially high-yield bonds“.

Max Keiser recently told Alex Jones that a great financial collapse is coming.

Martin Armstrong says that his Economic Confidence Model predicts that the “Big Bang” is coming in “2015.75“.

Jeff Berwick of the Dollar Vigilante says that “we’re getting very, very close to the next crisis collapse” and he has specifically pointed to the month of September.

James Howard Kunstler has predicted that stocks are going to “crater in Q3 as faith in paper and pixels erodes“.

Lindsey Williams recently sent out an email alert in which he warned that his elite friend has told him that “they have a World Wide Financial Collapse scheduled between September and the end of December 2015“.

Gerald Celente has warned about “the Great Panic of 2015“.

Bill Fleckenstein has said that 2015 could be the year of the “big accident“.

Ray Gano has stated that we will see a financial collapse “probably starting in the third quarter of 2015″.

Legendary investor Jim Rogers recently said that he believes that “we will see some kind of major, major problems in the world financial markets” within the next year or two.

Alex Jones recently released a video in which he explained that he recently received “two different calls” from “extremely prominent wealthy people” warning him about what is coming by the end of this year and asking him why he isn’t leaving the United States “before October”.

Bible prophecy expert Joel C. Rosenberg has posted an ominous message on his personal blog in which he warned that “something is coming” and that “we must be ready”…

I feel a tremendous sense of urgency about this column.

The United States is hurtling towards severe trouble, and the events of the past few months — and what may be coming over the next few months — grieves me a great deal.

Something is coming. I don’t know what. But we all must be ready in every possible way.

When I read what Rosenberg wrote, it struck me that it was precisely how I have been feeling too.

In my entire life, I have never had such an ominous feeling about any period of time as I have about the last six months of 2015.  Like Rosenberg, I feel a “tremendous sense of urgency”, and I feel a great need to warn as many people as I can.

And it isn’t just a financial collapse that I am concerned about.  In a previous article, I detailed seven key events that we are going to witness before the end of this September…

Late June/Early July – It is expected that this is when the U.S. Supreme Court will reveal their gay marriage decision.  Most believe that the court will rule that gay marriage is a constitutional right in all 50 states.  There are some that believe that this will be a major turning point for our nation.

July 15th to September 15th – A “realistic military training exercise” known as “Jade Helm” will be conducted by the U.S. Army.  More than 1,000 members of the U.S. military will take part in this exercise.  The list of states slated to be involved in these drills includes Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California, Mississippi and Florida.

July 28th – On May 28th, Reuters reported that countries in the European Union were being given a two month deadline to enact “bail-in” legislation.  Any nation that does not have “bail-in” legislation in place by that time will face legal action from the European Commission.  So why is the European Union in such a rush to get this done?  Are the top dogs in the EU anticipating that another great financial crisis is about to erupt?

September 13th – This is Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar – the last day of the Shemitah year.  Many are concerned about this date because we have seen giant stock market crashes on the last day of the previous two Shemitah cycles.

On September 17th, 2001 (which was Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar), we witnessed the greatest one day stock market crash in U.S. history up until that time.  The Dow plummeted 684 points, and it was a record that held for exactly seven years until the end of the next Shemitah cycle.

On September 29th, 2008 (which was also Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar), the Dow fell by an astounding 777 points, which still today remains the greatest one day stock market crash of all time.

Now we are approaching the end of another Shemitah year.  So will the stock market crash on September 13th, 2015?  Well, no, because that day is a Sunday.  So I guarantee that the stock market will not crash on that particular day.  But as Jonathan Cahn has pointed out in his book on the Shemitah, sometimes stock market crashes happen just before the end of the Shemitah year and sometimes they happen within just a few weeks after the end of the Shemitah.  So we are not just looking at one particular date.

September 15th – The 70th session of the UN General Assembly begins on this date.  It is being reported that France plans to introduce a resolution which would give formal UN Security Council recognition to a Palestinian state.  Up until now, the United States has always been the one blocking such a resolution, but Barack Obama is indicating that things may be much different this time around.

September 25th to September 27th – The United Nations is going to launch a brand new sustainable development agenda for the entire planet.  Some have called this “Agenda 21 on steroids”.  But this new agenda is not just about the environment.  It also includes provisions regarding economics, agriculture, education and gender equality.  On September 25th, the Pope will travel to New York to give a major speech kicking off the UN conference where this new agenda will be unveiled.

September 28th – This is the date for the last of the four blood moons that fall on Biblical festival dates during 2014 and 2015.  This blood moon falls on the very first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, it will be a “supermoon”, and it will actually be visible in the city of Jerusalem.  There are many that dismiss the blood moon phenomenon, but we have seen similar patterns before.  For example, a similar pattern of eclipses happened just before and just after the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Romans in 70 AD.

In addition to everything above, quite a number of economic cycle theories that were developed by secular economists all point to big trouble for America between the years of 2015 and 2020.  For more on this, please see my previous article entitled “If Economic Cycle Theorists Are Correct, 2015 To 2020 Will Be Pure Hell For The United States“.

Earlier today, I publicly announced that I was issuing a RED ALERT for the last six months of 2015 on the Alex Jones radio show.  You can watch video of that interview right here.  In this article (which is about three times as long as one of my normal articles) I have only shared a small fraction of the information that has led me to issue this red alert.  But if you want to know more, and you are not afraid to really go down the rabbit hole, I would encourage you to check out a full two hour presentation that I did down in Dallas, Texas on the nightmarish years that are coming.

The period of relative stability that we have been enjoying is ending.  What comes next is going to lead us into the worst period of time in modern American history.  I wish that I was wrong about this.

But the goal is not to scare you.  My wife and I live our lives with absolutely no fear, and that is my desire for all of my readers.  There is hope in understanding what is happening and there is hope in getting prepared.  Personally, my wife and I believe that the greatest chapters of our lives are ahead of us, and I hope that you have a similar outlook.

We need a generation of people that are willing to rise up and do great things even in the midst of all the chaos and darkness that is coming.  It is when times are the darkest that the greatest heroes are needed.

So what will you choose to do when the next crisis comes?

Will you cower in fear, or will you rise up to meet the challenge?

Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…

Does The IMF Actually Want To Cause A Greek Debt Default?

Question Marks - Public DomainWhen it comes to geopolitics, there are often wheels working within wheels that are working within wheels.  Once in a while we get a peek behind the scenes, but for the most part the machinations of the global elite remain shrouded in mystery most of the time.  And sometimes the global elite appear to be doing things that, on the surface, do not seem to make much sense at all.  What is going on in Europe is a perfect example of this.  If everyone was negotiating honestly, I believe that a Greek debt deal would have been reached by now.  As this endless crisis has stretched on month after month, it has become increasingly apparent that more is going on here than meets the eye.  In particular, the IMF has been standing in the way of a deal time after time.  So what do IMF officials want?  Are they looking for the “unconditional surrender” of this new Greek government in order to send a message to other governments that would potentially defy them?  Or could it be possible that the IMF actually wants a Greek debt default for some other insidious reason?

When the latest Greek proposal was embraced with enthusiasm by EU officials, many hoped that this meant that the crisis would soon be resolved.  But it turns out that there is still one very important player that is not happy, and that is the IMF.  The following comes from the Wall Street Journal

But the IMF is still unhappy with key aspects of Greece’s new economic proposals and German officials were irritated by the speed with which the commission welcomed them, warning that much work needs to be done.

Greece’s plan calls for reducing the deficits in its pension system and government budget by relying heavily on raising taxes and social-security contributions, whereas the IMF wanted bigger spending cuts.

The Washington-based IMF has said Greece’s economy is already too heavily taxed and that too many additional tax increases would hurt economic growth, making it harder to pay down Greece’s debt.

It is still short of everything that should be expected,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Monday, suggesting Greece will have to modify its proposals significantly to win the IMF’s backing.

So what would make the IMF “happy”?

Would anything short of total capitulation by the Greek government suffice?

Meanwhile, members of Syriza are expressing a high level of frustration with the compromises that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has already agreed to.  At this point, there is even doubt whether the current Greek proposal could get through the Greek parliament.  The following comes from Bloomberg

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is facing the first signs of dissent within his own party over his latest plan to end a five-month standoff with creditors.

Some of Syriza’s more radical and populist lawmakers expressed opposition Tuesday to the proposal as the deal’s backers called on members to see the bigger picture.

Personally, I cannot support such an agreement that is contrary to our election promises,” Dimitris Kodelas, a Syriza lawmaker associated with former Maoists, said in an interview. “I do not care about the consequences of my decision.

Despite all of the optimism that we have seen this week, the odds of a Greek debt deal getting pushed through are looking slimmer by the day.

And even if a deal somehow miraculously happens, all it would really mean is that the can has been kicked down the road for a few more months

Assuming Tsipras can force the deal through the Greek parliament, and that key creditors such as the IMF and Germany accept it too, it will do little more than buy time for negotiations on yet another rescue.

The final tranche of cash from the existing bailout should be enough to meet repayments due to the IMF and European Central Bank through the end of August. But the Greek government will then have to find more than two billion euros for both institutions in September and October.

If this week concludes with agreement between Greece and its creditors, it won’t be long before the next chapter in this drama,” said Angus Campbell, senior analyst at FxPro.

And no matter what happens by the end of this month, it is a virtual certainty that the economic depression in Greece will just continue to deepen.

At this point, normal economic activity in the nation has pretty much ground to a halt.  Just consider the following excerpt from a recent Zero Hedge article

“Business-to-business payments have almost been paused,” one Athens businessman says. “They are just rolling over postdated cheques.”

For Greek banks, mortgage loans left unserviced by strategic defaulters have become a particular headache, especially since the Syriza-led government says it is committed to protecting low-income homeowners from foreclosures on their properties

“There’s a real issue of moral hazard . . . Around 70 percent of restructured mortgage loans aren’t being serviced because people think foreclosures will only be applied to big villa owners,” one banker said.

For a long time, I have been warning that the next major economic crisis would begin in Europe before spreading across the entire globe.

Greece has a relatively small economy, but Italy, Spain and France are going down the exact same road that Greece has gone.

And what IMF officials are doing right now is that they are setting a precedent for future debt negotiations that they know are almost certainly coming with other countries in the future.

Sadly, most of my readers (being Americans) don’t really grasp the importance of what is going on over in Europe.  We are watching a horrific train wreck unfold in slow-motion, and what is going to happen over the next few weeks is going to have massive implications for the entire planet.

Lindsey Williams, Martin Armstrong And Alex Jones All Warn About What Is Coming In The Fall Of 2015

Warnings - Public DomainNot since the financial crash of 2008 have so many prominent people issued such urgent warnings about a specific time period.  Almost daily now, really big names are coming out with chilling predictions about what they believe is going to happen during the second half of 2015.  But it isn’t just that these people have a “bad feeling” about things.  The truth is that we are witnessing a confluence of circumstances and events in the second half of this year that is unprecedented.  This is something that I covered in a previous article that went mega-viral all over the Internet entitled “7 Key Events That Are Going To Happen By The End Of September“.  Personally, I have never been more concerned about any period of time than I am about the second half of 2015.  And as you will see below, I am definitely not alone.

Just a few days ago, I received an email that contained a chilling message from Lindsey Williams.  You can view the same message that came to my email right here.  According to Lindsey Williams, the elite insider that he is in contact with told him that there will be a global financial collapse between September and December of this year…

WARNING!

From Lindsey Williams: I just received an email from my Elite friend.

My Elite friend indicated that they have a World Wide Financial Collapse scheduled between September and the end of December 2015

You may have just THREE (3) months to prepare!

I have a ton of respect for Lindsey Williams, and I would listen to what he has to say very carefully.  Back in 2008, an elite insider told him that the price of oil would drop from $140 a barrel to $40 a barrel, and it happened.  This time around, Williams has been telling us throughout 2013 and 2014 that a global financial collapse was not going to happen during those years, and he was right about that.

But now he is sounding the alarm that one is going to come by the end of this calendar year.

Martin Armstrong is someone else that has been sounding the alarm about the second half of this year.

In fact, Armstrong says that he has “warned that the Big Bang was coming 2015.75″ since 1985.

In the past, I have written entire articles about economic cycle theories and what they indicate is coming in our future.

Armstrong has developed one of his own, and he calls it the Economic Confidence Model.  According to the ECM, the “sovereign debt Big Bang” is scheduled to happen by the end of 2015.  And it turns out that the time period that Armstrong has been pointing to lines up with a whole bunch of other significant events as well

There are many aspects that are lining up with the turn in the ECM (Economic Confidence Model) from the Blood Moon and the Jewish Year for forgiving the debts, to France imposing restrictions on cash in September, and even in Germany the laws that protected about half a million people so-called dachas there in East Germany expire. To date, a law protecting the tenant against dismissal by the municipality will also expire October 3, 2015. Everywhere we look, there are changes coming to a head, right down to the U.S. Federal budget with 2015.75.

In case you are tempted to dismiss this as nonsense, Armstrong has pointed out that his ECM has been accurate “to the day” in the past

Of course the 1987 crash bottomed to the day with the ECM confirming that was the low. The same took place in 1994 where the U.S. share market bottomed right to the day, once again confirming this was an important low.

So will the ECM be right again this time?

Only time will tell, but it should be noted that the global bond market is already starting to crash.  If Armstrong ultimately turns out to be correct, we could be on the verge of a major turning point

This next turning point should be the peak in the concentration of capital and confidence in government. From there on out, 2015.75 should mark the change in trend where people will start to disbelieve government on a grand scale. The debt markets that peak precisely with the target are going to get the worst of it.

Other financial experts are issuing similar warnings, even if they aren’t being quite as specific.

For example, just consider what Jim Rogers had to say recently…

I suspect in the next year or two we will see some kind of major, major problems in the world financial markets.

I would suspect when we have this correction, it’s going to cause central banks to panic. There’s going to come a time when there is not much the central banks can do when they have lost all credibility. When governments have lost all credibility. They will print and spend and borrow, but there comes a time when people are just going to say We don’t want to play this game anymore. And at that point, the world has serious, serious problems because there’s nothing to rescue us.

Perhaps the most sobering warning of all that I have come across in recent days is from Alex Jones.

In the video posted below, he explains that he recently received “two different calls” from “extremely prominent wealthy people” warning him about what is coming by the end of this year and asking him why he isn’t leaving the United States “before October”.

In other words, these individuals believe that something really big is going to happen by the end of September.  This dovetails perfectly with what I have already been warning about.

In this video, Alex also explains that large numbers of insiders are now quietly leaving the country.  I have never seen him quite like this.  I think that so many of us are just in shock that the things that we have been warning about for so long are now actually happening.  Watch this video for yourself and see what you think…

In the financial markets, we are also seeing signals that many people believe that big trouble is right around the corner.  For instance, according to Dana Lyons we haven’t seen bets that the VIX will rise at this level since just before the financial crash of 2008…

As most observers are aware, the VIX tends to rise as the stock market declines. Thus a rising VIX is associated with bad markets. The interesting thing about present conditions in VIX options is that the Put/Call Ratio (using a 21-day average) is at the lowest level since the summer of 2008. That means that there are more bets on a rising VIX versus bets on a falling VIX than we have seen in 7 years. And again, a rising VIX is associated with bad markets.

In other words, investors are betting a tremendous amount of money that we are going to see a rise in volatility in the financial markets in the months ahead.  And as I have explained so many times before, during times of high volatility markets tend to go down very rapidly.  So these bets will pay off very handsomely if there is a financial crash this fall.

Meanwhile, the manager of one of the largest bond funds in the UK is warning that a “systemic event” could soon hit global financial markets and that it is wise to have some “physical cash” at home just in case there is some sort of major emergency.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

The manager of one of Britain’s biggest bond funds has urged investors to keep cash under the mattress.

Ian Spreadbury, who invests more than £4bn of investors’ money across a handful of bond funds for Fidelity, including the flagship Moneybuilder Income fund, is concerned that a “systemic event” could rock markets, possibly similar in magnitude to the financial crisis of 2008, which began in Britain with a run on Northern Rock.

“Systemic risk is in the system and as an investor you have to be aware of that,” he told Telegraph Money.

The best strategy to deal with this, he said, was for investors to spread their money widely into different assets, including gold and silver, as well as cash in savings accounts. But he went further, suggesting it was wise to hold some “physical cash”, an unusual suggestion from a mainstream fund manager.

This sounds like what I have been saying for years.  I am a big believer in not having all of your financial eggs in one basket, and I do believe that it is wise to have at least some emergency cash at home.

But to hear it from a member of Britain’s financial elite is definitely unusual to say the least.

Sadly, just like last time, most people are not listening to the warnings.  Back in the summer of 2008, my wife and I went up to visit her parents.  I sat on their sofa and told them that a great financial collapse was about to unfold and that it would shake the entire world.  Of course just a few months later that is exactly what happened.

Now we are on the verge of an even greater financial collapse, and still I find that there are a lot of people out there that are doubters.  Most of these doubters have an immense amount of faith in the system, and they are confident that this debt-fueled bubble of false prosperity that we are currently enjoying can somehow last indefinitely.

I truly wish that the hopeless optimists were right.

I truly wish that I could live out my days in peace and quiet in a world that was safe and stable.

Unfortunately for all of us, things are about to change in a major way.  When it starts happening, don’t forget that there have been people that have been warning you that this would happen all along.

Hospitals Are Blatantly Ripping Us Off

Scam - Public DomainMost Americans are deathly afraid to go to the hospital these days – and it is because of the immense pain that it will cause to their wallets.  If you want to get on a path that will lead you to bankruptcy, just start going to the hospital a lot.  In America today, hospitals and doctors are blatantly ripping us off and they aren’t making any apologies for it.  As you will read about below, some hospitals mark up treatments by 1,000 percent.  In other instances, basic medical supplies are being billed out at hundreds of times what they cost providers.  For example, it has been reported that some hospitals are charging up to 30 dollars for a single aspirin pill.  It would be difficult to argue that the extreme greed that we see in the medical system is even matched by the crooks on Wall Street.  These medical predators get their hands on us when we are at our most vulnerable.  They know that in our lowest moments we are willing to pay just about anything to get better or to make the pain go away.  And so they very quietly have us sign a bunch of forms without ever telling us how much everything is going to cost.  Eventually when the bills come in the mail, it is too late to do anything about it.

How would you feel if someone sold you something for ten times the amount that it was worth?

Would you feel ripped off?

Well, that is what hospitals all over the country are doing every single day.  Just check out what one brand new study has discovered

Some hospitals are marking up treatments by as much as 1,000 percent, a new study finds, and the average U.S. hospital charges uninsured patients three times what Medicare allows.

Twenty of the hospitals in the top 50 when it comes to marking up charges are in Florida, the researchers write in the journal Health Affairs. And three-quarters of them are operated by two Tennessee-based for-profit hospital systems: Community Health Systems and Hospital Corporation of America.

“We just want to raise public awareness of the problem,” said Ge Bai of Washington & Lee University in Virginia, an accounting professor who wrote the study along with Gerard Anderson of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Does reading that make you angry?

It should.

They are greedily taking advantage of all of us.

Other studies have come up with similar results.  Here is one example

According to National Nurses United, U.S. hospital charges continue to soar with a handful of them, such as Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus, N.J., going as far as charging more than ten times the total cost — or almost $1,200 per $100 of the cost of care. Meanwhile, the hundred priciest hospitals in the nation were found to have this cost ratio begin at 765 percent, which is more than twice the national average of 331 percent.

Much of the time, we are being overcharged for tests, services and procedures that we don’t even need.

It has been estimated that the amount of truly wasteful spending in the U.S. medical system comes to a grand total of about $600 billion to $700 billion annually.  That means that wasteful medical spending in the U.S. each year is greater than the GDP of the entire country of Sweden.

And of course almost everyone has a story about an absolutely ridiculous medical bill that they have received.  In fact, if you have one that you would like to share, please feel free to share it at the end of this article.  The following are just a few examples that were shared in an editorial in a local newspaper

Have you heard about the little girl who required three stitches over her right eye? The emergency room sent her parents a bill for $1,500 — $500 per stitch (NY Times, Dec. 3). My neighbor recently spent six hours in the emergency room with bleeding from the mouth. He was on a blood thinner, needed several blood tests, and his heart was monitored. His hospital bill came to $22,000. A California man diagnosed with lung cancer chose to fight his cancer aggressively. Eleven months later his widow received a bill exceeding $900,000.

One of the most disturbing trends that we are witnessing all over the nation is something called “drive by doctoring”.  That is where an extra doctor that isn’t even necessary “pops in” to visit patients that are not his or “assists” with a surgery in order to stick the patient with a big, fat extra bill.  The following is from a New York Times article about this disgusting practice…

Before his three-hour neck surgery for herniated disks in December, Peter Drier, 37, signed a pile of consent forms. A bank technology manager who had researched his insurance coverage, Mr. Drier was prepared when the bills started arriving: $56,000 from Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, $4,300 from the anesthesiologist and even $133,000 from his orthopedist, who he knew would accept a fraction of that fee.

He was blindsided, though, by a bill of about $117,000 from an “assistant surgeon,” a Queens-based neurosurgeon whom Mr. Drier did not recall meeting.

How would you like to receive a bill for $117,000 from a doctor that you had never met and that you did not know would be at your surgery?

This is how broken our medical system has become.

And of course this type of abuse is not just happening in New York.  It is literally happening all over the nation

In operating rooms and on hospital wards across the country, physicians and other health providers typically help one another in patient care. But in an increasingly common practice that some medical experts call drive-by doctoring, assistants, consultants and other hospital employees are charging patients or their insurers hefty fees. They may be called in when the need for them is questionable. And patients usually do not realize they have been involved or are charging until the bill arrives.

If you or a close family member has been to the hospital recently, you probably know how astronomical some of these bills can be.

And if you have a chronic, life threatening disease, you can very rapidly end up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

If you doubt this, just check out the following excerpt from an article that appeared in Time Magazine.  One cancer patient out in California ran up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he finally died…

By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.

The sad truth is that the U.S. health care system has become all about the money.

A select few are becoming exceedingly wealthy while millions go broke.  One very disturbing study discovered that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.  And collection agencies seek to collect unpaid medical bills from approximately 30 million Americans every single year.

Once upon a time, going into the medical profession was a sacrifice and you did it because you wanted to help people.

Today, it is considered to be a path to riches.

If the U.S. health care system was a separate country, it would actually be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.  Even though our system is deeply broken, nobody wants to rock the boat because trillions of dollars are at stake.  If it was up to me, I would tear the entire thing down and rebuild it from scratch.

So what about you?  How would you fix our broken health care system?  Please feel free to share your ideas by posting a comment below…

Guess How Many Nations In The World Do Not Have A Central Bank?

OctopusCentral banking has truly taken over the entire planet.  At this point, the only major nation on the globe that does not have a central bank is North Korea.  Yes, there are some small island countries such as the Federated States of Micronesia that do not have a central bank, but even if you count them, more than 99.9% of the population of the world still lives in a country that has a central bank.  So how has this happened?  How have we gotten the entire planet to agree that central banking is the best system?  Did the people of the world willingly choose this?  Of course not.  To my knowledge, there has never been a single vote where the people of a nation have willingly chosen to establish a central bank.  Instead, what has happened is that central banks have been imposed on all of us.  All over the world, people have been told that monetary issues are “too important” to be subject to politics, and that the only solution is to have a group of unelected, unaccountable bankers control those things for us.

So precisely what does a central bank do?

You would be surprised at how few people can actually answer that question accurately.  The following is how Wikipedia describes what a central bank does…

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. Examples include the European Central Bank (ECB), the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve of the United States and the People’s Bank of China.

In the United States, we are told that we have a free market system.  But in a true free market system, market forces would determine what interest rates are.  We wouldn’t need anyone to “set interest rates” for us.

And why have we given a private banking cartel (the Federal Reserve) the authority to create and manage our money supply?  The U.S. Constitution specifically delegates that authority to Congress.

It is not as if we actually need the Federal Reserve.  In fact, the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history happened during the decades before the Federal Reserve was created.

Unfortunately, a little over 100 years ago our leaders decided that it would be best to turn over our financial future to a newly created private banking cartel that was designed by very powerful Wall Street interests.  Since that time, the value of our currency has diminished by more than 96 percent and our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

But despite all of the problems, the vast majority of Democrats and the vast majority of Republicans are not even willing to consider slightly curtailing the immense power of the Federal Reserve.  And the idea of getting rid of the Fed altogether is tantamount to blasphemy to most of our politicians.

Of course the same thing is true all over the planet.  Central banks are truly “the untouchables” of the modern world.  Even though everybody can see what they are doing, there has not been a single successful political movement anywhere on the globe (that I know about) to shut a central bank down.

Instead, in recent years we have just seen the reach of central banking just continue to expand.

For example, just look at what has happened to some of the countries that were not considered to be “integrated” into the “global community”…

-In 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan.  In 2003, Da Afghanistan Bank (who picked that name?) was established by presidential decree.  You can find the official website of the bank right here.  Now Afghanistan has a modern central bank just like the rest of us.

-In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq.  In early 2004, the Central Bank of Iraq was established to manage the Iraqi currency and integrate Iraq into the global financial system.  The following comes from the official website of the Central Bank of Iraq

Following the deposition of Saddam Hussein in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi Governing Council and the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance began printing more Saddam dinar notes as a stopgap measure to maintain the money supply until new currency could be introduced.

The Banking Law was issued September 19, 2003. The law brings Iraq’s legal framework for banking in line with international standards, and seeks to promote confidence in the banking system by establishing a safe, sound, competitive and accessible banking system.

Between October 15, 2003 and January 15, 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority issued new Iraqi dinar coins and notes, with the notes printed using modern anti-forgery techniques, to “create a single unified currency that is used throughout all of Iraq and will also make money more convenient to use in people’s everyday lives. Old banknotes were exchanged for new at a one-to-one rate, except for the Swiss dinars, which were exchanged at a rate of 150 new dinars for one Swiss dinar.

The Central Bank of Iraq (Arabic: البنك المركزي العراقي) was established as Iraq’s independent central bank by the Central Bank of Iraq Law of March 6, 2004

-In 2011, the United States bombed the living daylights out of Libya.  Before Muammar Gaddafi was even overthrown, the U.S. helped the rebels establish a new Central Bank of Libya and form a new national oil company.

Central banks are specifically designed to trap nations in debt spirals from which they can never possibly escape.  Today, the debt to GDP ratio for the entire planet is up to an all-time high record of 286 percent.  Humanity is being enslaved by a perpetual debt machine, but most people are not even aware that it is happening.

It is time for an awakening.  We need to educate as many people as possible about why we need to get rid of the central banks.  For those living in the United States, my previous article entitled “On The 100th Anniversary Of The Federal Reserve Here Are 100 Reasons To Shut It Down Forever” is a good place to start.  In other countries, we need people to write similar articles about their own central banks in their own languages.

The global elite dominate us because we allow them to dominate us.  Their debt-based system greatly enriches them while it enslaves the remainder of the planet.  We need to expose their evil system and the dark agenda behind it while we still have time.

American Pharoah: What A Perfect Description For The Guy In The White House

Obama Pharoah - YouTube ScreenshotA horse named “American Pharoah” just won the Triple Crown.  Is this some sort of a sign for America?  The office of the presidency was greatly strengthened under previous administrations, but now Barack Obama has grabbed an unprecedented amount of power for himself.  In this article, I am going to focus on immigration, but Obama’s power grab is certainly not limited to this area.  And as I have written about previously, if there is some sort of major “national emergency” over the next year or so, the legal framework has already been created for Obama to use his “emergency powers” to take total control of virtually everything.  So is comparing Obama to the pharoahs of ancient Egypt unfair?  I don’t think so at all.  He is certainly acting as if he would like the powers of a dictator, his policies in the Middle East would make the pharoahs proud, and without a doubt Obama loves the adoration and worship of his fans.  In my opinion, he is the closest thing to a pharoah that the United States has ever seen.

Just consider Obama’s approach to immigration.  The laws of our land require him to protect our borders, but he has left them wide open and has openly encouraged illegal immigration because that is what he decided was best.  He also attempted to use his “executive powers” to grant amnesty to millions upon millions of immigrants that were in this country illegally.  Fortunately, that action has been blocked in the courts (at least for now), but Obama says that he is going to keep trying to do everything he can to “bring them out of the shadows”.

Personally, I am someone that believes that the United States will always need a certain level of legal immigration.  But the key word there is “legal”.  It is absolutely imperative that we require everyone to come in by the front door, so that we can weed out those that would be damaging to our society.  But instead of adopting a system that makes sense, we have left the back door wide open while making it extremely challenging to come in through the front door.  As a result, we have seen an endless flow of gang members, drug dealers, serial criminals, welfare parasites and political radicals enter this country illegally.  We have made it really easy for the “bad guys” to come in, but extraordinarily difficult for the “good guys” to move here.  What we are doing does not make any sense at all.

And thanks to our foolishness and the refusal of recent presidential administrations to enforce the law, all of this immigration has fundamentally altered the employment picture in this nation.  According to the latest numbers, nearly all of the job gains that the U.S. economy has experienced since 2007 have gone to foreign born workers

Assuming, the Household and Establishment surveys were congruent, this would mean that there was just 1K native-born workers added in May of the total 280K jobs added.

Alternatively, assuming the series, which is not seasonally adjusted, was indicative of seasonally adjusted data, then the 272K increase in total Household Survey civilian employment in May would imply a decline of 7K native-born workers offset by the increase of 279K “foreign borns.”

But while all of these comparisons are apples to oranges, using the BLS’ own Native-Born series, also presented on an unadjusted basis, we find the following stunner: since the start of the Second Great Depression, the US has added 2.3 million “foreign-born” workers, offset by just 727K “native-born”.

Foreign Born vs. Native Born

This means that the “recovery” has almost entirely benefited foreign-born workers, to the tune of 3 to 1 relative to native-born Americans!

It is getting to the point where we have a national epidemic on our hands.  According to one recent study, nearly one out of every 10 workers in the entire state of California is here illegally.  Imagine how much easier it would be to get a job in that state if the illegal workers were not part of the equation.

And of course it isn’t just employment that we need to be concerned about.  Thanks to unchecked illegal immigration, there are now 1.4 million gang members living in our cities, and these gang members often commit crimes that are absolutely horrific.  For example, the following is from an article about a crime that was recently committed by members of MS-13

Three teenage reputed members of the MS-13 street gang were ordered held without bail Friday on charges they forced a 16-year-old into a wooded area of a Long Island golf course, where two of them took turns raping her while the third stood as a lookout.

This is one of the most brutal, heinous crimes that I have seen in a long, long time,’ Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said at a news conference following the suspects’ arraignments.

‘This poor young woman is so lucky that, quite frankly, that she is alive. These are vicious young men, vicious young men and what they did to her was absolutely terrible.’

If Barack Obama had protected our borders like he should have, those members of MS-13 would have never gotten into this country and they never would have raped that girl.

But instead of admitting that what he has done has been wrong, Pharoah Obama is doubling down on his current approach.  He insists that leaving the border wide open is “the right thing to do”, and he pledges to “bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows”.  The following comes from the Examiner

After executive amnesty was blocked in the courts and in the House the last two days, President Obama used his weekly radio address to ridicule House Republicans for blocking a vote on immigration reform, while promising that he would keep up the fight for undocumented immigrants.

“I’m going to keep doing everything I can to make our immigration system more just and more fair,” Obama said. “Last fall, I took action to provide more resources for border security; focus enforcement on the real threats to our security; modernize the legal immigration system for workers, employers and students; and bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can get right with the law.”

“Some folks are still fighting against these actions,” Obama said, without directly naming the legal hurdles his executive actions face. “I’m going to keep fighting for them. Because the law is on our side. It’s the right thing to do. And it will make America stronger.”

And if Obama has his way, this is only just the beginning.

I have previously written about the devastating impact that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will have on our economy, but did you know that this secret new treaty that Obama is negotiating will also allow for the free flow of people within the Asia-Pacific region?  The following comes from WND

The European Union was founded on “four freedoms”: the free flow of people, goods, money and services among members. We learned at a recent White House press conference the Trans-Pacific Partnership will ensure “people, goods and money will flow freely within the Asia Pacific region.”

So what does that mean?

Will immigrants be able to move around the nations that are involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership as freely as they do in the European Union today?  Mexico is one of the countries that will be a part of this new treaty.  Does that mean that people will now “flow freely” between our two nations?

We have seen it time and time again – once Obama is blocked one way, he just comes back and tries to advance his agenda another way.  When he promised to “fundamentally transform” this country, I don’t think that most people had any idea of what we would really be in for.

At this point, many regard Barack Obama as a “lame duck” president that is on his way out.

I don’t see it like that at all.  In fact, I believe that the most tumultuous time of Obama’s presidency is still to come.

Do you agree?  Tell us what you think the remainder of Obama’s time in the White House will look like by leaving a comment below…

The Central Banks Are Losing Control Of The Financial Markets

Dollars And Euros - Public DomainEvery great con game eventually comes to an end.  For years, global central banks have been manipulating the financial marketplace with their monetary voodoo.  Somehow, they have convinced investors around the world to invest tens of trillions of dollars into bonds that provide a return that is way under the real rate of inflation.  For quite a long time I have been insisting that this is highly irrational.  Why would any rational investor want to put money into investments that will make them poorer on a purchasing power basis in the long run?  And when any central bank initiates a policy of “quantitative easing”, any rational investor should immediately start demanding a higher rate of return on the bonds of that nation.  Creating money out of thin air and pumping into the financial system devalues all existing money and creates inflation.  Therefore, rational investors should respond by driving interest rates up.  Instead, central banks told everyone that interest rates would be forced down, and that is precisely what happened.  But now things have shifted.  Investors are starting to behave more rationally and the central banks are starting to lose control of the financial markets, and that is a very bad sign for the rest of 2015.

And of course it isn’t just bond yields that are out of control.  No matter how hard they try, financial authorities in Europe can’t seem to fix the problems in Greece, and the problems in Italy, Spain, Portugal and France just continue to escalate as well.  This week, Greece became the very first nation to miss a payment to the IMF since the 1980s.  We’ll discuss that some more in a moment.

Over in Asia, stocks are fluctuating very wildly.  The Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 5.4 percent on Thursday before regaining all of those losses and actually closing with a gain of 0.8 percent.  When we see this kind of extreme volatility, it is a very bad sign.  It is during times of extreme volatility that markets crash.

Remember, stocks generally tend to go up during calm markets, and they generally tend to go down during choppy markets.  So most investors do not want to see lots of volatility.  Unfortunately, that is precisely what we are witnessing all over the world right now.  The following comes from the Wall Street Journal

Volatility over the last days has been breathtaking, especially in bond markets,” said Wouter Sturkenboom, senior investment strategist at Russell Investments. He said that it rippled through equity and currency markets, which overreacted.

The yield on the benchmark German 10-year bond touched 0.99%, its highest level since September, before erasing the day’s rise and falling back to 0.84%. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield, which hit a fresh 2015 high of 2.42% earlier Thursday, recently fell back to 2.33%. Yields rise as prices fall.

Sometimes when bond yields go up, it is because investors are taking money out of bonds and putting it into stocks because they are feeling really good about where the stock market is heading.  This is not one of those times.  As Peter Tchir has noted, the huge moves in the bond market that we are now seeing are the result of “sheer panic in the market”

In a morning note before the open, Brean Capital’s Peter Tchir wrote: “It is time to reduce US equity holdings for the near term and look for a 3% to 5% move lower. The Treasury weakness is NOT a ‘risk on’ trade it is a ‘risk off’ trade, where low yields are viewed as a risk asset and not a safe haven.” And Tom di Galoma, head of fixed-income rates and credit at ED&F Man Capital Markets, told Bloomberg, “This is sheer panic in the market from the standpoint of what’s been happening in Europe … Most of Wall Street is guarded here as far as taking on new positions.”

But this wasn’t supposed to happen.

After watching the Federal Reserve be able to successfully use quantitative easing to drive down interest rates, the European Central Bank decided to try the same thing.  Unfortunately for them, investors are starting to behave more rationally.  The central banks are starting to lose control of the financial markets, and bond yields are soaring.  I think that Peter Boockvar summarized where we are currently at very well when he stated the following…

I’ve said this before but I’m sorry, I need to say it again. What we are witnessing in global markets is the inherent contradiction writ large that is modern day monetary policy where dangerously ZIRP, NIRP and QE are considered conventional policies. The contradiction is simply this: the desire for higher inflation if fulfilled will result in higher interest rates that central banks are trying so hard and desperately to suppress.

Outside of the short end of the curve, markets will always win for better or worse and that is clearly evident now. The ECB is getting their first taste of the market talking back and in quite the violent way. In the US, the bond market is watching the Fed drag its feet (its never-ending) with wanting to raise interest rates and finally said enough is enough. The US Treasury market is tightening for them. Since mid April, the 5 yr note yield is higher by 40 bps, the 10 yr is up by 55 bps and the 30 yr yield is up by 65 bps.

And if global investors continue to move in a rational direction, this is just the beginning.  Bond yields all over the planet should be much, much higher than they are right now.  What that means is that bond prices potentially have a tremendous amount of room to go down.

One thing that could accelerate the global bond crash is the crisis in Greece. Negotiations between the Greeks and their creditors have been dragging on for four months, and no agreement has been reached.  Now, Greece has missed the loan payment that was due to the IMF on June 5th, and it is asking the IMF to bundle all of the payments that are due this month into one giant payment at the end of June

Greece has asked to bundle its four debt payments to the International Monetary Fund that fall due in June so that it can pay them in one batch at the end of the month, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Thursday.

The request is expected to be approved by the IMF, the newspaper said. That would mean Greece does not have to pay the first tranche of 300 million euros that falls due on Friday.

Greece faces a total bill of 1.5 billion euros owed to the IMF over four installments this month.

Of course that payment will not be made either if a deal does not happen by then.  And with each passing day, a deal seems less and less likely.  At this point, the package of “economic reforms” that the creditors are demanding from Greece is completely unacceptable to Syriza.  The following comes from an article in the Guardian

Fresh from talks in Brussels, Tsipras faced outrage on Thursday from highly skeptical members of his own Syriza party. A five-page ultimatum from creditors, presented by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, was variously described as shocking, provocative, disgraceful and dishonourable.

It will never pass,” said Greece’s deputy social security minister, Dimitris Stratoulis. “If they don’t back down, the country won’t be lost … there are alternatives that would cost less than our signing a disgraceful and dishonourable agreement.”

Ultimately, I don’t believe that we are going to see an agreement.

Why?

Well, I tend to agree with this bit of analysis from Andrew Lilico

The Eurozone does not want to make any compromise with the current Greek government because (a) they don’t believe they need to because Greek threats to leave the euro are empty both because internal polling suggests Greeks don’t want to leave and because if they did leave that doesn’t really constitute any threat to the euro; (b) because they (particularly perhaps Angela Merkel) believe that under enough pressure the Greek government might collapse and be replaced by a more cooperative government, as has happened repeatedly before in the Eurozone crisis including in Italy and Greece itself; and (c) because any deal with Greece that is seen to involve or be presentable as any victory for the Greek government would threaten the political positions of governments in several Eurozone states including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Finland and perhaps even the Netherlands and Germany.

Furthermore, it’s not clear to me that the Eurozone creditors at this stage would have much interest in any deal based upon promises, regardless of how much the Greek had verbally surrendered.  Things have gone too far now for mere words to work.  They would need to see the Greeks deliver actions — tangible economic reforms and tangible, credible primary surplus targets and a sustainable change in the long-term political mood within Greece that meant other Eurozone states might eventually get their money back.  That is almost certainly not doable at all with the current Greek government.  The only deal possible would be with some replacement Greek government that had come in precisely on the basis that it did want to do a deal and did want to pay the creditors back.

On the Syriza side, I see no more appetite for a deal.  They believe that austerity has been ruinous for the lives of Greeks and that decades more austerity would mean decades more Greek economic misery.  From their point of view, default or even exit from the euro, even if economically painful in the short term, would be better than continuing with austerity now.

You can read the rest of his excellent article right here.

Without a deal, the value of the euro is going to absolutely plummet and bond yields over in Europe will go through the roof.  I am fully convinced that this is the beginning of the end for the eurozone as it is currently constituted, and that we stand on the verge of a great European financial crisis.

And of course the financial crisis that is coming won’t just be in Europe.  The global financial system is more interconnected than ever, and there are tens of trillions of dollars in derivatives that are tied to foreign exchange rates and 505 trillion dollars in derivatives that are tied to interest rates.  When this giant house of cards collapses, the central banks won’t be able to stop it.

In the end, could we eventually see the entire central banking system itself totally collapse?

That is what Phoenix Capital Research believes is about to happen…

Last year (2014) will likely go down in history as the “beginning of the end” for the current global Central Banking system.

What will follow will be a gradual unfolding of the next crisis and very likely the collapse of the Central Banking system as we know it.

However, this process will not be fast by any means.

Central Banks and the political elite will fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo, even if this means breaking the law (freezing bank accounts or funds to stop withdrawals) or closing down the markets (the Dow was closed for four and a half months during World War 1).

There will be Crashes and sharp drops in asset prices (20%-30%) here and there. However, history has shown us that when a financial system goes down, the overall process takes take several years, if not longer.

We stand at the precipice of the greatest economic transition that any of us have ever seen.

Even though things may seem very “normal” to most people right now, the truth is that the global financial system is fundamentally flawed, and cracks in the system are starting to appear all over the place.

When this system does collapse, it will take most people entirely by surprise.

But it shouldn’t.

All con games eventually fall apart in the end, and we are about to learn that lesson the hard way.

Baltimore Has Descended Into A State Of Lawlessness – And More Cities Will Soon Follow

Baltimore Riot Police - Public DomainDid you really think that Baltimore would return to normal after everything that has happened?  On Thursday, a mother and her 7-year-old son were both shot in the head in a double murder that has shocked the entire nation.  Police believe that the son may have been shot in order to prevent him from identifying the individual that shot his mother.  So is this what America is turning into?  A place where 7-year-old kids are executed in cold blood?  That mother and son were the 37th and 38th murder victims in the city of Baltimore so far this month.  That makes this the deadliest month in Baltimore in 15 years, but because of all the controversy surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, police in Baltimore are afraid to do their jobs at this point.  In some areas of the city, young men boldly smoke weed in public and wave guns around at innocent bystanders without any worry that police will intervene.  Baltimore has descended into a state of lawlessness, and this is just the beginning.  As I discussed just the other day, the same kind of lawlessness will soon sweep all across this country.

Have you ever been afraid to step outside of your own home?  That is what day to day life is like for many residents of Baltimore right now.  In fact, one woman is even barricading her door and setting up metal slabs behind her windows to deflect gunfire.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent news report about what is going on in the city

I’m afraid to go outside,” said Antoinette Perrine, whose brother was shot down three weeks ago on a basketball court near her home in the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore. Ever since, she has barricaded her door and added metal slabs inside her windows to deflect gunfire.

It’s so bad, people are afraid to let their kids outside,” Perrine said. “People wake up with shots through their windows. Police used to sit on every corner, on the top of the block. These days? They’re nowhere.”

I think that this is an indication of what we can expect from the police when chaos erupts in cities all over America.  In some places there will be troops in the streets to maintain order, but in other areas it will be like the wild west.

Right now, police officers in Baltimore are running scared.  They know that they are targets, and they know that one mistake can land them in prison or on the front page of newspapers all over the nation.  According to Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, there have been times when officers have gone into an area only to be immediately surrounded by “30 to 50 people”

Our officers tell me that when officers pull up, they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any time,” Batts said.

Batts provided more details at a City Council meeting Wednesday night, saying officers now fear getting arrested for making mistakes.

“What is happening, there is a lot of levels of confusion in the police organization. There are people who have pain, there are people who are hurt, there are people who are frustrated, there are people who are angry,” Batts said. “There are people, and they’ve said this to me, `If I get out of my car and make a stop for a reasonable suspicion that leads to probable cause but I make a mistake on it, will I be arrested?’ They pull up to a scene and another officer has done something that they don’t know, it may be illegal, will they be arrested for it? Those are things they are asking.”

The criminals have the upper hand in Baltimore now, and they know it.

Just consider the words of the head of the police union.  He says that the police in the city “are under siege”

“The criminals are taking advantage of the situation in Baltimore since the unrest,” said Gene Ryan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3. “Criminals feel empowered now. There is no respect. Police are under siege in every quarter. They are more afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly than they are of getting shot on duty.”

Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis made even stronger remarks during a recent appearance on Fox News.  He told Sean Hannity that police in Baltimore have been “eviscerated”, “disemboweled”, and have had their “guts removed”…

Wicomico County, MD Sheriff Mike Lewis (R) declared that police officers are “fearful” of doing their jobs on Wednesday’s “Hannity” on the Fox News Channel.

“Sean, the Baltimore City Police Department, the officers particularly on the street, have been eviscerated, they’ve been disemboweled, their guts removed to have the courage to go out there and do this job. They’re very fearful that if they go out there and be proactive, which we all should be doing in law enforcement today, we can’t afford to be reactive, especially in urban areas. Those officers are no longer being proactive, and as you see, the violence has surged. … And I hope this is a shot fired across the bow of mayors and urban leaders across this country. Once you disembowel your law enforcement officers, then you cannot no longer expect them to go out there and protect you, or protect your communities. This is very troubling the worst I’ve ever seen in 31 years of law enforcement.”

Can you imagine what must be going through the heads of Baltimore police officers at this point?

One wrong move and you could start a riot.

One wrong move and you could go to prison.

One wrong move and you could be on the front page of every newspaper in the country and be labeled the biggest villain in America.

In early April, I publicly stated that civil unrest was coming to Baltimore, and what we are seeing happen there is eventually going to start happening all over the nation.  Police are going to start pulling back from the most violent areas and will allow chaos to reign in the streets.

It is only human nature.  Police officers are going to be extremely hesitant to risk their lives in communities where they are deeply hated and where they risk ruining their entire lives with a single wrong move.

It is going to take a lot of courage to be a cop in America’s inner cities in the years ahead.  Last year, the number of officers “feloniously killed” in the line of duty increased by 89 percent, and things are only going to get worse.

America is changing, and not for the better.  As economic conditions deteriorate, many of our major cities are going to turn into war zones.  If you are expecting the government to step in and fix things when that happens, you will be deeply disappointed.

This nation is filled with anger and hate, and it is getting worse with each passing day.

I truly wish that things had not turned out this way, but they did.  I truly wish that we could just all learn to love one another and live in peace, but it isn’t happening.

The hatred and frustration that are boiling just under the surface in this country are about to explode, and when that happens we will all pay a very great price.

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