According To The “Buffett Indicator”, The Stock Market Is More Primed For A Crash Than It Has Ever Been Before

Warren Buffett’s favorite indicator is telling us that stocks are more overvalued right now than they have ever been before in American history.  That doesn’t mean that a stock market crash is imminent.  In fact, this indicator has been in the “danger zone” for quite some time.  But what it does tell us is that stock valuations are more bloated than we have ever seen and that a stock market crash would make perfect sense.  So precisely what is the “Buffett Indicator”?  Well, it is actually very simple to calculate.  You just take the total market value of all stocks and divide it by the gross domestic product.  When that ratio is more than 100 percent, stocks are generally considered to be overvalued, and when that ratio is under 100 percent stocks are generally considered to be undervalued.  The following comes from MSN

That being said, the Buffett Indicator, while it’s not a flawless indicator, does tend to peak during hot stock markets and bottom during weak markets. And as a general rule, if the indicator falls below 80%-90% or so, it has historically signaled that stocks are cheap. On the other hand, levels significantly higher than 100% can indicate stocks are expensive.

For context, the Buffett indicator peaked at about 145% right before the dot-com bubble burst and reached nearly 110% before the financial crisis.

So where are we today?

Right now we are at almost 149 percent, which is the highest level ever recorded

Where does the Buffett Indicator stand now? It may surprise you to learn that, at nearly 149%, the total market cap to GDP ratio has never been higher. It’s even higher than the 145% peak we saw during the dot-com bubble.

In recent days we have seen a “tech bloodbath”, but that was nothing compared to what is eventually coming.  Ultimately, the stock market would need to fall by at least one-third in order for prices to be properly balanced again.

And it appears that Warren Buffett is taking his own advice.  His company is currently sitting on more than 100 billion dollars in cash

Having said that, it does seem like Buffett himself is paying attention and agrees that the market is generally expensive. After all, the lack of attractive investment opportunities has resulted in Berkshire Hathaway accumulating nearly $110 billion of cash and equivalents on its balance sheet. Plus, Buffett has specifically cited valuation when discussing the absence of major acquisitions lately.

Warren Buffett didn’t become one of the wealthiest men in America by being stupid.  He knows that valuations are absurd right now, and he is waiting to strike until valuations are not so absurd.

And he knows that another recession is inevitably coming.  I wrote about some of the trouble signs yesterday, and more trouble signs seem to pop up on a daily basis now.

Earlier today, CNN published an article entitled “Two recession warning signs are here”

Home sales have declined in four of the past five months as housing prices have grown — but paychecks have remained stagnant. Many people can’t afford to buy homes, and those who can are taking on a lot of debt to get into them.

I feel really bad for those that purchased a home in recent months, because those poor people are getting in right at the top of the bubble.  The housing bubble is about to burst in a major way, and there will be a tremendous amount of pain afterwards.

And we received more bad news about the housing market on Wednesday.  According to Redfin, housing demand plunged 9.6 percent in June…

The long list of housing headwinds is finally taking its toll on potential buyers. Housing demand fell 9.6 percent in June, compared with June 2017, according to a monthly index from Redfin. That is the largest decline since April 2016.

CNN’s second “warning sign” is the fact that the yield curve is about to invert

The Federal Reserve, which is finishing up its two-day meeting Wednesday, is expected to raise its target rate two more times this year. Higher rates have boosted short-term US Treasury bond rates. But the longer-term bond rates haven’t risen along with the shorter-term rates, because investors are growing wary about the economy over the long haul.

With two more interest rate hikes planned, the Fed could boost short-term rates higher than long-term ones, inverting the so-called yield curve. An inverted yield curve has preceded every recession in modern history.

If you don’t understand the yield curve or you just want a deeper examination of this issue, please see my previous article entitled “Beware – The Last 7 Times The Yield Curve Inverted The U.S. Economy Was Hit By A Recession”.

In recent weeks, there has been renewed interest in my economics website as people begin to wake up and understand that a major economic crisis is looming.  Of course the truth is that we are way, way overdue for a stock market crash and another recession.  The only thing that is surprising is that it took us so long to get here.

Sadly, most people are still very much asleep.  Average Americans spend most of their waking hours staring at either a television or a computer screen, and the big media companies control almost all of the media that we are so voraciously consuming.  Instead of thinking for themselves, most people simply regurgitate what they have been fed by the media giants, and we are never going to turn things around if we continue to allow “the matrix” to tell us what to think.

The Buffett Indicator is very simple, but it is also very accurate.  If you want to do well in the stock market, you want to buy low and sell high, and right now we are in absurdly high territory.  Stock valuations always return to their long-term averages eventually, and many believe that the coming stock market crash is going to arrive sooner rather than later.

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

They Are Calling It “The Tech Bloodbath” – 10 Facts About This Tech Stock Crash That Will Take Your Breath Away

Thanks to crashing tech stocks, Americans have lost hundreds of billions of dollars in paper wealth over the past three trading days.  As you will see below, we have just witnessed “the biggest market cap loss in history”, and many analysts believe that this is only just the beginning.  At this point, even the mainstream media is fearing the worst.  CNN is boldly proclaiming that “the tech bloodbath is here”, and there is a flood of mainstream articles giving advice to investors about how to ride out this crisis.  But the amount of money that has already been lost is absolutely huge, and it isn’t going to take much to turn this panic into a full-blown stampede.  In a lot of ways, what we are watching is very reminiscent of 2001.  When the original tech bubble burst, the crash was so rapid and so dramatic that many ordinary investors were not able to react in time.  As I have explained so many times before, markets tend to go down a whole lot faster than they go up, and the events of the last three trading days have been completely breathtaking.

A lot of people are responding as if this tech stock crash is a complete surprise, but the truth is that it shouldn’t be a surprise at all.

The only surprise is that the bubble lasted for as long as it did.

Even after the declines of the past three days, some of these tech companies still have some of the most absurd valuations that we have ever seen.  There has been warning after warning that something like this could happen, but the optimists on Wall Street wanted to believe that the party would never come to an end.

Well, now the party is ending, and people are starting to understand the gravity of what we are facing.  The following are 10 facts about this “tech bloodbath” that are almost too crazy to believe…

#1 The 10 leading U.S. tech companies lost an astounding 82.7 billion dollars in stock value on Monday.

#2 Overall, FANG stocks have lost 220 billion dollars in stock value over the last 3 trading days.  According to Zero Hedge, that represents “the biggest market cap loss in history”.

#3 Last Thursday, Facebook had the worst day for a single company in the history of the stock market.

#4 The amount of money that Facebook investors have lost is greater than the entire market value of some of the biggest corporations in America

The gargantuan one-day loss in the social media company’s market value eclipses the total value of warehouse club Costco, drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb, investment powerhouse Goldman Sachs, defense contractor Lockheed Martin and credit-card company American Express, according to Bloomberg data.

The wealth destroyed also is more than the total value of farm equipment maker Caterpillar, home-improvement retailer Lowe’s, coffee seller Starbucks and drugstore chain CVS.

#5 One prominent ETF manager is saying that he doesn’t “see us being heavily invested in Facebook ever again”.

#6 FANG stocks are collectively down more than 10 percent from the record high last month.

#7 The 5 most valuable companies in the United States are all in the tech sector and they are all located on a stretch between Silicon Valley and Seattle.

#8 Thanks to all of the panic, investors are being forced to pay more for Nasdaq downside protection than they ever have before.

#9 Morgan Stanley’s chief U.S. equity strategist is warning that “the selling has just begun and this correction will be biggest since the one we experienced in February.”

#10 One major investor has told CNBC that he believes that the major tech stocks could ultimately lose 30 or 40 percent of their value

Ahead of Apple earnings scheduled for Tuesday evening, Larry McDonald, editor of the Bear Traps Report, warns to stay away from what has been one of the hottest areas of the market this year.

“These are stocks you want to run away from,” McDonald told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Friday. “I see potentially 30 percent to 40 percent downside on the FAANGs.”

Tech stocks led the way up during the first Internet bubble, and they also led the way down.

Will the same thing happen again this time around?

If some people think that the broader market will be immune as tech stocks continue to crash, they are just deceiving themselves.  To a very large extent, it has been the tech industry that has been responsible for holding the market up in these troubled times.  Right now the housing industry is slowing down substantially, we are in the midst of the worst “retail apocalypse” in American history, and big agriculture is being absolutely devastated by foreign tariffs.

There aren’t too many other bright spots for the U.S. economy at the moment, and so if the tech sector implodes we are going to see a lot of others go down with it.

Look, there is a reason why Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook insiders dumped billions of dollars worth of Facebook stock in the months leading up to this crash.  They all knew that trouble was brewing, and they wanted to get out while the getting out was good.

As I have told my readers so many times before, you only make money in the stock market if you get out at the right time, and those Facebook insiders picked the right time.

Earlier this month, Ron Paul warned that the stock market could be cut “in half” when the “biggest bubble in the history of mankind” finally bursts, and a lot of people laughed at him.

Are they still laughing now?

Hopefully the market will settle down tomorrow, and without a doubt we will see a bounce at some point.  But it is certainly starting to feel like 2001 and 2008 all over again, but this time the bubble is far bigger than ever before.

How will this story ultimately end?

I think that we all know the answer, and it isn’t going to be pretty…

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

Tech Investors Start To Panic As Facebook’s Stock Price Plunges More Than 20 Percent

Is this the beginning of the fall of Facebook?  After announcing disappointing numbers for the second quarter on Wednesday, Facebook’s stock price plunged more than 20 percent in after-hours trading.  If that decline holds on Thursday, it will be the biggest stock price drop in Facebook’s entire history.  But the truth is that we will probably see the stock price bounce back a bit, because Wednesday’s crash was almost certainly an overreaction.  Unlike many other tech companies, Facebook is still making lots of money, and the number of users globally is still growing.  However, there are definitely some huge red flags.  In the U.S. and Canada the number of users is stagnant, and in Europe the number of users is actually declining.  Facebook’s user base is aging as many young people abandon the platform for trendier alternatives, and there is a growing backlash among conservatives against the tremendous censorship that we have seen in recent months.  People are hungry for an alternative, and if something more appealing comes along Facebook could ultimately suffer the same fate as MySpace very rapidly.

Stock prices tend to fall a lot faster than they go up, but what happened to Facebook on Wednesday was truly breathtaking

Facebook lost about $130 billion in market value in just two hours, its steepest stock decline ever, after warning of slowing sales growth.

The stock, which plunged as much as 24% in after-hours trading Wednesday, had a cascading effect on competitors Snap and Twitter, which dropped, too. Traders are bracing for a decline in tech stocks when the markets open Thursday.

130 billion dollars in just two hours?

In 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been selling Facebook stock like crazy, and that is probably a good thing because his remaining holdings declined by 16.8 billion dollars during the crash.  If the stock price does not bounce back, Zuckerberg will slip all the way from third place to sixth place on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

He won’t exactly be hurting, but this shows us how fast things can start to move once investors begin to panic.

So exactly why did Facebook’s stock crash on Wednesday?  Well, it turns out that revenue growth and user growth were lower than expected

The problem: weaker-than-expected revenue growth, Facebook’s first such miss since 2015. It recorded sales of $13.23 billion for the three months ended in June, short of the $13.3 billion Wall Street anticipated.

Also alarming to investors: Facebook’s growth is slowing with users in some of its most lucrative markets. Facebook reported its slowest growth rate ever, with 2.23 billion people logging in at least once a month in June, below the 2.25 billion analysts expected.

In addition to the factors that I mentioned above, Europe’s new privacy law and the Cambridge Analytica scandal are really taking a toll

The second-quarter results were the first sign that a new European privacy law and a succession of privacy scandals involving Cambridge Analytica and other app developers have bit into Facebook’s business. The company further warned that the toll would not be offset by revenue growth from emerging markets and Facebook’s Instagram app, which has been more immune from privacy concerns.

Ultimately, the adjustment to Europe’s new privacy law and the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal are just temporary.

Facebook should be much more concerned about the fact that conservatives are getting completely fed up with the rampant censorship on the platform.  During a media event on Wednesday, Facebook executives openly admitted that they are limiting distribution of certain viewpoints…

The kerfuffle started when Fidji Simo, Facebook’s vice president of video, was asked about Infowars stories on their platform while touting new Facebook Watch entertainment shows.

“To be totally transparent, I find Infowars to be absolutely atrocious,” Simo replied. “That being said, we have the hard job of balancing freedom of expression and safety. So the way we navigate that is we think there’s a pretty big difference between what is allowed on Facebook and what gets distribution. So what we’re trying to do is make it so that if you are saying something that’s untrue on Facebook — you’re allowed to say it as long as you’re an authentic person and you adhere to our community standards — but we’re trying to make it so it doesn’t get that much distribution .… We don’t always get it right, as you can imagine, it’s very complicated, but that’s sort of our principle for dealing with information.”

We are in the midst of the greatest purge of anti-establishment voices in Internet history, and Facebook is leading the charge.  More accounts are being “shadowbanned” or terminated completely on a daily basis, and conservatives just keep getting angrier and angrier at Facebook.

For now, most conservatives continue to use Facebook.  Like a lot of other people, I use it simply because it seems like everyone else is using it.

But eventually a more appealing alternative is going to come along.

Before Facebook, MySpace seemed like it was so dominant that nobody could ever compete with it.  But of course Facebook ultimately crushed MySpace, and now MySpace is barely surviving.

In addition to a potentially enormous conservative backlash, Facebook should be deeply alarmed that young people are abandoning the platform in massive numbers

Teenagers have abandoned Facebook in favour of other social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.

Just 51% of US individuals aged 13 to 17 say they use Facebook – a dramatic plunge from the 71% who said they used the social network in Pew’s previous study in 2015, when it was the dominant online platform.

We may very well look back someday and identify 2018 as the turning point for Facebook.

For now it is considered to be worth more than 600 billion dollars, but that market price won’t last forever.

One of these days a new and better competitor will arise, and Facebook will be consigned to the trash heap of history.

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

Beware – The Last 7 Times The Yield Curve Inverted The U.S. Economy Was Hit By A Recession

Seven times since the 1960s we have seen the yield curve invert, and in each of those seven instances an economic recession in the United States has followed.  Will this time be any different?  Today, the yield curve is the flattest that it has been in 11 years, and many analysts believe that we will see an inversion before the end of 2018.  If an inversion does take place, experts will be all over the mainstream media warning about “an imminent recession”.  Unfortunately, most Americans don’t understand these things, and when they hear terms like “yield curve” they tend to quickly tune out.  So in this article we are doing to define what a yield curve is, why it is so important, and why another U.S. recession may be rapidly approaching.

Let’s start with a really basic definition of a yield curve.  This one comes from Investopedia

A yield curve is a line that plots the interest rates, at a set point in time, of bonds having equal credit quality but differing maturity dates. The most frequently reported yield curve compares the three-month, two-year, five-year and 30-year U.S. Treasury debt. This yield curve is used as a benchmark for other debt in the market, such as mortgage rates or bank lending rates, and it is also used to predict changes in economic output and growth.

But most of the time, the experts that are talking about “the yield curve” are talking about the difference between interest rates on two-year and ten-year U.S. Treasury bonds.  The following comes from CNBC

Start with a government issued two-year Treasury bond and a 10-year Treasury bond. They both pay interest. Typically, the 10-year pays a higher interest rate than the two-year to compensate buyers for the time difference. The difference between the interest rates in these two bonds is called the “spread”. If the spread is greater than zero, it means the two-year interest rate is lower than the 10-year, and that is normally the case.

A normal spread for these two bonds will take the appearance of a rising chart — an upward sloping yield curve. But when the spread goes negative, the yield curve “inverts” giving the appearance of a negative yield curve.

An “inverted yield curve” strikes fear among investors because it makes lending unprofitable.

As a USA Today article recently explained, our banks borrow at short-term rates and lend that money out at long-term rates…

Banks borrow at short-term rates, lend long term and profit from the difference. So the gap between long and short rates predicts future loan profitability. The bigger the gap, the more eager banks are to lend. The yield curve is a great predictive proxy for future lending.

Lending matters because loans allow for economically expansive activities. Sally deposits $10,000 at Community Banks-R-Us, which can keep $1,000 in reserve and lend out $9,000 to Jim’s Widgets. Jim uses that to grow his business. Hence lending can fuel growth. So, steeper yield curves spur economic activity. Flatter curves render less.

Our economy is fueled by debt, and an inverted yield curve tends to greatly discourage lending.  When banks cut back on lending, that has the effect of “choking off” the economy, and that usually leads to an economic contraction…

In this interest-rate environment, banks would lose money by making loans. Not necessarily on all loans, but it does make some loans unfeasible and some less profitable, forcing banks to cut back on making loans; thereby choking off the access to credit markets that businesses need to grow. When it becomes harder for businesses to borrow, many businesses cancel or delay projects and hiring. Weaker businesses go out of business because they lose access to credit, which in turn causes layoffs. When this happens, it takes about a year, on average, for the U.S. economy to slip into a recession.

The yield curve inverted prior to the recession of 2008, and lending started to get a lot tighter.  The resulting recession was a surprise to many Americans, but it should not have been.  It was simply the logical conclusion of basic economic forces at work.

In fact, an inverted yield curve has preceded every single recession since the 1960s, but Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell doesn’t seem concerned that it is about to happen again…

Asked whether “a dramatic change in the shape of the yield curve in any way influence the trajectory you guys are on with respect to normalizing interest rates and the balance sheet,” Powell stated “no,” adding that “what really matters is what the neutral rate of interest is.

That’s the interest rate level that neither stimulates growth or slows it down — something that changes over time and which Fed officials try hard to gauge.

Interestingly, yield curves are about to “invert” in Japan, Germany and China too.

But it should be noted that there are some experts that insist that we are focusing on the wrong things.  One of those experts is Ken Fisher

Almost everyone everywhere misses that the total global yield curve matters much more than America’s. And it’s doing just fine, thank you. Today’s global financial system is super interconnected. Behemoth banks can borrow in low-rate countries such as Germany, transfer funds here, hedge for currency risk and lend to Jim’s Widgets in mere seconds.

The global yield curve combines every developed country’s curve, weighted by the size of each economy. You get Britain’s 0.88 percent 10-year/three-month spread, Canada’s 0.69 percent gap, Germany’s 0.92 percent, France’s 1.23 percent, Japan’s 0.18 percent and the rest. Mash them all together based on GDP weighting, and that gets you a 0.9 percent global spread that’s bouncing along, going nowhere fast. Current U.S. yield curve fears miss this.

In the end, Fisher may be right.

Without a doubt, the global financial system is more interconnected today than ever before, and we may find a way to muddle through even if the yield curve inverts in the United States.

But I wouldn’t count on it.  An inverted yield curve has accurately predicted a recession every single time since the 1960s, and it is not likely to be wrong this time around either.

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

Ron Paul Warns That When The “Biggest Bubble In The History Of Mankind” Bursts It Could “Cut The Stock Market In Half”

When this bubble finally bursts, will we witness the biggest stock market crash in U.S. history?  “The bigger they come, the harder they fall” is a well used phrase, but I think that it is very appropriate in this case.  From a low of 6,443.27 on March 6th, 2009, we have seen the Dow nearly quadruple in value since the last financial crisis.  It has been a remarkable run, and it has lasted far longer than virtually any of the experts anticipated.  But what goes up must come down eventually.  This stock market bubble was almost entirely fueled by easy money from the Federal Reserve, and now that easy money has been cut off.  The insiders can see the handwriting on the wall and they are getting out of the market at a pace that we haven’t seen since 2008.  Could it be possible that the day of reckoning is finally at our door?

Of course we have been hearing warnings like this for a very long time.  In fact, I have been warning about a market crash for a very long time.  Just the other day, one of my readers insisted that if something was going to take place that “it would have happened by now”.  In the Internet age, we have been trained to have very short attention spans, but financial bubbles don’t care about the length of our attention spans.  They all inevitably come to a bitter end, but they don’t reach that end until they are good and ready.

And without a doubt we are on borrowed time, but meanwhile so many of us that are continually warning about what we are facing are getting a lot of heat for it.

For instance, when Ron Paul told CNBC that the stock market is “the biggest bubble in the history of mankind”, he was strongly criticized for it, but he was 100 percent correct…

This market is in the “biggest bubble in the history of mankind,” and when it bursts, it could cut the stock market in half, he told CNBC’s “Futures Now” Thursday.

If the Dow only plummets to about 12,000 or so during the coming downturn we will be exceedingly fortunate, because the truth is that stock prices need to fall by at least that much just to get us into the neighborhood where stock prices will start to make sense once again.

Today, sales to stock price ratios are hovering near all-time highs.

The same thing is true for earnings to stock price ratios and GDP to stock price ratios.

The only other times these ratios have been so elevated were just before major stock market crashes.

In the end, these ratios always, always, always return to their long-term averages eventually.

It may take many years, but it always happens.

So what factors led Ron Paul to make such an ominous prognostication?  The following comes from CNBC

“The Congress spending and the Federal Reserve manipulation of monetary policy and interest rates — debt is too big, the current account is in bad shape, foreign debt is bad and it’s not going to change,” he said.

Paul isn’t alone in his critique. A number of politicians have voiced concern over ballooning deficits, including current House Speaker Paul Ryan, who raised a warning on the nation’s debt in 2012.

Of course it isn’t just the U.S. that is drowning in debt.

According to the Institute of International Finance, total global debt just hit a brand new record high of 247 trillion dollars

Every quarter the Institute of International Finance publishes a new number of the total amount of global debt outstanding, and every quarter the result is the same: a new record high

Today was no exception: according to the IIF’s latest Global Debt Monitor, the amount of debt held in the world rose by the biggest amount in two years during the first quarter of 2018, when it grew by $8 trillion to hit a new all time high of $247 trillion, up from $238 trillion as of Dec. 31, 2017 and up by $30 trillion from the end of 2016.

Global debt has been rising much, much faster than global GDP, and at this point there is three times as much debt in the world as there is money.

There is no possible way that all of that debt can ever be paid off.  The only way that the party can continue is for debt to continue growing faster than global GDP, and everyone knows that is simply not sustainable in the long-term.

So an absolutely monumental “adjustment” is coming.  You can call it a “crash”, a “collapse” or anything else that you would like, but just as certainly as you are reading this article it is coming.

It is just a matter of time.

But for now, the talking heads on television continue to insist that everything is just fine and that the stock market still has more room to go up

There’s still room for stock markets to rise and worries of an impending recession are premature, according to Berenberg Capital Markets’ chief economist.

“Even if profits peaked in (the first quarter of) 2018, which remains uncertain, history suggests the stock market has room to appreciate,” Mickey Levy, Berenberg’s chief Americas and Asia economist, said in a client note this week. He pointed to data demonstrating how in every economic expansion since the mid-1970s, the S&P 500 index went on to appreciate for a “significant period” after corporate profits peaked.

I wish that CNBC would have me on just one time so that I could refute some of these guys.

Since 1913, the Federal Reserve has gone through 18 rate hiking cycles.  In 18 out of 18 cases, those rate hiking cycles have ended in either a recession or a market crash.

Do you really think that the 19th time will be different?

10 years ago, virtually everyone thought that the “boom times” would last forever too.  But they didn’t.  Instead, we plunged into the greatest economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression, but at this point 2008 seems like ancient history to most people.

Yet again we have fooled ourselves into thinking that the good times will just continue to keep on rolling, and once again our society will be in for a very rude awakening when the inevitable crash finally arrives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once these escalations begin, where will they end?

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

Would they really go that far?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Are Witnessing Unusual Stock Market Behavior That Is Unlike Anything That We Have Seen Since 2008

We have not seen Wall Street this jumpy since just before the great financial crisis of 2008.  As I have explained so many times before, when the waters are calm and there is low volatility, markets tend to go up.  And when the waters are choppy and volatility starts to spike, markets tend to go down.  That is why the behavior that we have been witnessing from investors during the first two quarters of 2018 is so alarming.  A high level of market turnover is often a sign of big trouble ahead, and according to Bloomberg our financial markets “are churning at the fastest rate since 2008″…

From junk bonds to emerging-market stocks, market turnover is through the roof, reaching multi-year highs. Within the S&P 500 Index, investors traded more than $2.9 trillion worth of shares in each of the past two quarters, a feat last achieved in early 2008.

Bloomberg is not prone to hyperbole, and so when they say that “market turnover is through the roof”, I hope that you will take that statement seriously.

We truly are facing a scenario that Wall Street has never seen before.  The Wilshire 5000 stock index to nominal GDP ratio has been hovering near all-time highs, and what that tells us is that stock prices are more overvalued today than they have been at any other point in modern American history.  Meanwhile, all sorts of red flags continue to indicate that big trouble is on the horizon, but most investors are ignoring those red flags.

But if you look closely, it is becoming clear that the most savvy investors are getting out while the getting is good.  In a previous article, I explained that the “smart money” is getting out of stocks at a pace that we have not seen since just before the last financial crisis.  Fortunately for them, the “dumb money” has been willing to buy what they are selling at these massively inflated prices.

We see a similar spike in the “churn rate” when we look at emerging markets.  In fact, Bloomberg says that we have not seen this much volatility in emerging market stocks since the international financial crisis of 1998…

It’s a similar story for developing-nation assets at the mercy of a strengthening U.S. dollar and trade tensions. Volume on the MSCI Emerging Market index reached $1.9 trillion in the three months through June, the most since 1998 when a wave of currency devaluations and defaults ripped through emerging economies from Thailand to Russia.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, global stocks lost approximately 10 trillion dollars in value during the first six months of 2018.

Just think about that.

10 trillion dollars is almost half of the U.S. national debt.

If global stocks continue to fall at a similar pace during the second half, it is only a matter of time before U.S. stocks get absolutely slammed.

One of the emerging markets that is showing significant signs of trouble is India.  According to Bloomberg, India’s banks are now dealing with 210 billion dollars of bad debts…

India’s nearly $1.7 trillion formal banking sector is coping with $210 billion of soured or problem loans, and some regional banks have been ensnared in fraud scandals.

If U.S. banks had 210 billion dollars of bad debts that would be a big problem.

In India, a number like that is a complete and utter financial catastrophe that is not going to be easy to clean up.

According to CNBC, most of the bad loans are owned by India’s state-controlled banks…

India’s public-sector financial institutions control about 70 percent of all banking assets in the country, but they have the highest exposure to soured loans amounting to as much as $150 billion. In fact, the 21 state-owned banks had stressed loans of about 8.26 trillion rupees ($120 billion) as of Dec. 31, Reuters reported. Private sector lenders, meanwhile, reportedly had a bad loan pile of just about 1.1 trillion rupees.

Things have already gotten so bad in India that some people are starting to panic.

In fact, it is being reported that ATMs in some areas of the nation have been “running dry”…

On top of that, ATMs in some parts of the country have been reported to be running dry in recent days. There’s an unusually high demand for cash, according to the Finance Ministry. The rupee shortage is being blamed on everything from farm spending to looming elections and hoarding by some families.

This is yet another example that shows that it always pays to not put all of your eggs in one basket.  In the event of a major emergency, you will want access to cash, and you cannot necessarily count on your bank to always be there for you.

As we move forward into the second half of 2018, red flags continue to appear on an almost daily basis.  The Federal Reserve is steadily raising interest rates, civil unrest is erupting in the streets of America, and the Trump administration is starting trade wars with virtually everyone else on the planet.

In the end, these trade wars are going to prove to be very painful for U.S. businesses.  Earlier today, CNBC posted a piece about the impact that tariffs are likely to have on our pork producers…

U.S. pork producers are about to be bitten by a second batch of hefty retaliatory tariffs from China and Mexico — and that has some large producers predicting they could lose big money and be forced to invest overseas.

Executives say the pork industry has been expanding in recent years, in part on the expectation of export opportunities that would continue to support growth. However, the threat of a trade war is adding uncertainty and driving fear. One in 4 hogs raised in the U.S. is sold overseas, and the Chinese are the world’s top consumers of pork.

As I write this article, I can hear fireworks going off in the background.  The 4th of July is always a time for celebration, and without a doubt many Americans are extremely optimistic right now.

But as I have just explained, major storm clouds are gathering, and it isn’t going to take much to push the U.S. economy into another major crisis.

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