20 Quotes From European Leaders That Prove That They Know That The Financial System In Europe Is Doomed

The financial crisis in Europe has become so severe that it has put the future of the euro, and indeed the future of the EU itself, in doubt.  If the financial system in Europe collapses, it is going to plunge the entire globe into chaos.  The EU has a larger economy and a larger population than the United States does.  The EU also has more Fortune 500 companies that the United States does.  If the financial system in Europe breaks down, we are all doomed.  An economic collapse in Europe would unleash a financial tsunami that would sweep across the globe.  As I wrote about yesterday, the nightmarish sovereign debt crisis in Europe could potentially bring about the end of the euro.  The future of the monetary union in Europe is being questioned all over the continent.  Without massive bailouts, there are at least 5 or 6 nations in Europe that will likely soon default.  The political will for continued bailouts is rapidly failing in northern Europe, so something needs to be done quickly to avert disaster.  Unfortunately, as anyone that has ever lived in Europe knows, things tend to move very, very slowly in Europe.

If the bailouts end and Europe is not able to come up with another plan before then, mass chaos is going to unleashed.  Most major European banks are massively exposed to European sovereign debt, and most of them are also very, very highly leveraged.  If we see nations such as Greece, Portugal and Italy start to default, we could have quite a few major European banks go down in rapid succession.  That could be the “tipping point” that sets off mass financial panic around the globe.

Of course the governments of Europe would probably step in to bail out many of those banks, but when the U.S. did something similar back in 2008 that didn’t prevent the world from plunging into a horrible worldwide recession.

Right now, the way that the monetary union is structured in Europe simply does not work.  Countries that are deep in debt have no flexibility in dealing with those debts, and citizens of wealthy countries such as Germany are becoming deeply resentful that they must keep shoveling money into the financial black holes of southern Europe.

These bailouts cannot go on indefinitely.  Political and financial authorities all over Europe know this and they also know that Europe is rapidly heading toward a day of reckoning.

The quotes that you are about to read are absolutely shocking.  In Europe they openly admit that the financial system is dying, that the euro is in danger of not surviving and that the EU does not work in its present form.

The following are 20 quotes from European leaders that prove that they know that the financial system in Europe is doomed….

#1 Polish finance minister Jacek Rostowski: “European elites, including German elites, must decide if they want the euro to survive – even at a high price – or not. If not, we should prepare for a controlled dismantling of the currency zone.”

#2 Stephane Deo, Paul Donovan, and Larry Hatheway of Swiss banking giant UBS:Under the current structure and with the current membership, the euro does not work. Either the current structure will have to change, or the current membership will have to change.”

#3 EU President Herman Van Rompuy: “The euro has never had the infrastructure that it requires.”

#4 German President Christian Wulff: “I regard the huge buy-up of bonds of individual states by the ECB as legally and politically questionable. Article 123 of the Treaty on the EU’s workings prohibits the ECB from directly purchasing debt instruments, in order to safeguard the central bank’s independence”

#5 Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackerman: “It is an open secret that numerous European banks would not survive having to revalue sovereign debt held on the banking book at market levels.”

#6 ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet: “We are experiencing very demanding times”

#7 International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde: “Developments this summer have indicated we are in a dangerous new phase”

#8 Prince Hermann Otto zu Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, the Bundestag’s Deputy President: “We must consider whether it would not be better for the currency union and for Greece itself to go for debt restructuring and an exit from the euro”

#9 Alastair Newton, a strategist for Nomura Securities in London: “We believe that we are just about to enter a critical period for the eurozone and that the threat of some sort of break-up between now and year-end is greater than it has been at any time since the start of the crisis”

#10 Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder: “The current crisis makes it relentlessly clear that we cannot have a common currency zone without a common fiscal, economic and social policy”

#11 Bank of England Governor Mervyn King: “Dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough, but at least there were public-sector balance sheets on to which the problems could be moved. Once you move into sovereign debt, there is no answer; there’s no backstop.”

#12 George Soros: “We are on the verge of an economic collapse which starts, let’s say, in Greece. The financial system remains extremely vulnerable.”

#13 German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “The current crisis facing the euro is the biggest test Europe has faced for decades, even since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.”

#14 Stephane Deo, Paul Donovan, and Larry Hatheway of Swiss banking giant UBS: “Member states would be economically better off if they had never joined. European monetary union was generally mis-sold to the population of the Europe.”

#15 Professor Giacomo Vaciago of Milan’s Catholic University: “It’s clear that the euro has virtually failed over the last ten years, even if you are not supposed to say that.”

#16 EU President Herman Van Rompuy: “We’re in a survival crisis. We all have to work together in order to survive with the euro zone, because if we don’t survive with the euro zone we will not survive with the European Union.”

#17 German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “If the euro fails, then Europe fails.”

#18 Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackerman: “All this reminds one of the autumn of 2008”

#19 International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde: “There has been a clear crisis of confidence that has seriously aggravated the situation. Measures need to be taken to ensure that this vicious circle is broken”

#20 German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “The euro is in danger … If we don’t deal with this danger, then the consequences for us in Europe are incalculable.”

Most of the individuals quoted above desperately want to save the euro.  They are not going to go down without a fight.  The overwhelming consensus among the political and financial elite in Europe is that increased European integration in Europe is the answer.

For example, EU President Herman Van Rompuy is very clear about what he believes the final result of this crisis will be….

“This crisis in the euro zone will strengthen European integration. That is my firm belief.”

Many of the elite in Europe are now openly talking about the need for a “United States of Europe”.  Just consider what former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder recently had to say….

“From the European Commission, we should make a government which would be supervised by the European Parliament. And that means the United States of Europe.”

But as mentioned above, things in Europe tend to move very, very slowly.  The debt crisis in Europe is rapidly coming to a breaking point, and it is very doubtful that Europe will be able to move fast enough to head it off.

What we may actually see is at least a partial collapse of the euro and a massive financial crisis in Europe first, and then much deeper European integration being sold by authorities in Europe as “the solution” to the crisis.

This would be yet another example of the classic problem/reaction/solution paradigm.

The “problem” would be a horrible financial crisis and economic downturn in Europe.

The “reaction” would be a cry from the European public for someone to “fix” things and return things back to “normal”.

The “solution” would be a “United States of Europe” with much deeper economic and political integration which is something that many among the political and financial elite of Europe have wanted for a long, long time.

Right now, the people of Europe are very much opposed to deeper economic and political integration. For example, 76 percent of Germans says that they have little or no faith in the euro and one recent poll found that German voters are against the introduction of “Eurobonds” by about a 5 to 1 margin.

It looks like it may take a major crisis in order to get the people of Europe to change their minds.

Unfortunately, it looks like that may be exactly what is going to happen.

Is The End Of The Euro In Sight?

The future of the euro is hanging by a thread at the moment.  The massive debt problems of nations such as Greece, Italy and Portugal are dragging down the rest of the Europe, and the political will in northern Europe to continue to bail out these debt-ridden countries is rapidly failing.  Could the end of the euro actually be in sight?  The euro was really a very interesting experiment.  Never before had we seen a situation where monetary union was tried without political and fiscal union along with it on such a large scale.  The euro worked fairly well for a while as long as everyone was paying their debts.  But now Greece has collapsed financially, and several other countries in the eurozone (including Italy) are on the way.  Right now the only thing holding back a complete financial disaster in Europe are the massive bailouts that the wealthier nations such as Germany have been financing.  But now a wave of anti-bailout sentiment is sweeping Germany and the future of any European bailouts is in doubt.  So what does that mean for the euro?  It appears that there are two choices.  Either we will see much deeper fiscal and political integration in Europe (which does not seem likely at this point), or we will see the end of the euro.

That status quo cannot last much longer.  The citizens of wealthy nations such as Germany are becoming very resentful that gigantic piles of their money are being poured into financial black holes such as Greece.  In fact, it is rapidly getting to the point where we could actually see rioting in the streets of German cities over all of this.

All of this instability is creating a tremendous amount of fear in world financial markets.  Nobody is sure if Greece is going to default or not.

Without more bailout money, Greece will most certainly default.  If anyone does not think that one domino cannot set off a massive chain reaction, just remember what happened back in 2008.

Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers set off a chain reaction that was felt in every corner of the globe.  All of a sudden credit markets froze up because nobody was sure who had significant exposure to bad mortgages.

Today, the entire world financial system runs on debt, so when there is a credit crunch it can have absolutely devastating economic consequences.  The financial crisis of 2008 helped plunge the world into the greatest recession that the globe had seen since the 1930s.

In the old days, nations such as Greece that got into too much debt would just fire up the printing presses and cover over their problems with devalued currency.

Well, those nations that are using the euro simply cannot do that.  The government of Greece cannot simply zap a whole bunch of euros into existence in order to solve their problems.

Right now, major European banks are holding massive amounts of debt from various European governments on their balance sheets.  Most of these European banks are also very highly leveraged.  Even a moderate drop in the value of those debt holdings could wipe out a number of these banks.

The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, recently told Der Spiegel the following….

“There has been a clear crisis of confidence that has seriously aggravated the situation. Measures need to be taken to ensure that this vicious circle is broken”

Unfortunately, what Lagarde said was right.  You see, the financial system in Europe is a “confidence game” and a “crisis of confidence” is all that it would take to bring it down because it does not have a solid foundation.

Just like the U.S. financial system, the financial system in Europe is a mountain of debt, leverage and risk.  If the winds start blowing the wrong direction, the entire thing could very easily come tumbling down.

Over the past couple of weeks, the outlook in Europe has become decidedly negative.  For example, one senior IMF economist is now actually projecting that Greece will experience a “hard default” at some point in the coming months….

I expect a hard default definitely before March, maybe this year

If Greece defaults, that would mean that the bailouts have failed.  That would also mean that several other nations in Europe would be in danger of defaulting soon as well.

The consequences of a wave of defaults in Europe would be absolutely staggering.  As mentioned above, major banks in Europe are deeply exposed to sovereign debt.

Regarding this issue, Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Josef Ackermann recently made the following stunning admission….

“It’s stating the obvious that many European banks would not survive having to revalue sovereign debt held on the banking book at market levels.”

Yes, you read that correctly.

There are quite a few major European banks that are in imminent danger of collapse.

Even though there hasn’t been any sovereign defaults yet, we are already starting to see massive financial devastation in Europe.  Just check out some of the financial carnage from Monday….

*The stock market in Germany was down more than 5%.

*The stock markets in France and Italy were down more than 4%.

*Royal Bank of Scotland was down more than 12%.

*Deutsche Bank was down more than 6%.

*Societe Generale was down more than 8%.

*Italy’s UniCredit was down more than 7%.

*Barclays was down more than 6%

*Credit Suisse was down more than 4%.

*The yield on 2 year Greek bonds was up to 50.38%.

*The yield on 1 year Greek bonds was up to 82.14%.  A year ago it was under 10%.

Just like in 2008, banking stocks are leading the decline.  We have another major financial crisis on our hands and there is no solution in sight.

As the financial world becomes increasingly unstable, investors are flocking to gold.  In case you have not noticed, gold is up over $1900 an ounce again.

So what comes next?

Well, on Wednesday Germany’s constitutional court is scheduled to announce its verdict on the legality of the latest bailout package for Greece.  The court is expected to rule that the bailout package is legal, but if they don’t that would be really bad news for the euro.

However, whatever the court rules, the reality is that the turbulent political atmosphere inside Germany is probably a much bigger issue as far as the future of the euro is concerned.

Right now, Germans are overwhelmingly opposed to more bailouts.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political party just suffered a resounding defeat in local elections in Germany, and many within her own coalition are withdrawing support for any more bailouts.

This is going to make it very difficult to save the euro.  At this point, Germans have very little faith in the currency.

Just check out what Bob Chapman of the International Forecaster recently wrote about the current atmosphere in Germany….

76% of Germans say they have little or no faith in the euro, up from 71% two months ago. This is what we have been stating for ten years. Long-term 69% to 71% have never wanted the euro. The poll is not at all surprising. The Germany people are saying we have put up with the euro and euro zone for long enough – we want out now.

Germans are also very much against even deeper European economic integration.  For example, recent polling found that German voters are against the introduction of “Eurobonds” by about a 5 to 1 margin.

But Germans are not the only ones that are tired of the euro.  The countries of southern Europe have come to view the euro as a “straightjacket” that keeps them from having the financial flexibility that they need to deal with their debts.

Many people living in southern Europe consider the euro to be a financial instrument that allows nations such as Germany to have way too much power over them.  Just check out what Professor Giacomo Vaciago of Milan’s Catholic University recently had to say….

“It’s clear that the euro has virtually failed over the last ten years, even if you are not supposed to say that. We pretended to be Germans, but it was an illusion”

But if the bailouts fall apart and the euro collapses, we are going to see nations such as Greece fall into total financial collapse.

Just how desperate have things become in Greece?  Just consider the following excerpt from a recent article by Puru Saxena….

In Greece, government debt now represents almost 160% of GDP and the average yield on Greek debt is around 15%. Thus, if Greece’s debt is rolled over without restructuring, its interest costs alone will amount to approximately 24% of GDP. In other words, if debt pardoning does not occur, nearly a quarter of Greece’s economic output will be gobbled up by interest repayments!

Without help, there is no way that Greece is going to be able to avoid a default.

Sadly, Greece is far from the only major financial problem in Europe.  Portugal, Ireland and Italy also have debt to GDP ratios that are well above 100%.

As mentioned earlier, this is a massive problem for the financial system of Europe, because nearly all of the major European banks are leveraged to the hilt and they are massively exposed to government debt.

If you don’t think that this is a problem, just remember what happened back in 2008.

Back then, Lehman Brothers was leveraged 31 to 1.  When things turned bad, Lehman was wiped out very rapidly.

Today, major German banks are leveraged 32 to 1, and those banks are currently holding a massive amount of European sovereign debt.

Overall, the entire global banking system has a total of 2 trillion dollars of exposure to Greek, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian debt.

If European countries start defaulting, the dominoes are going to start falling and things will get really messy really quickly.

There are two things that could keep defaults from happening.

Number one, Germany and the other wealthy nations in the eurozone could just suck it up and decide to pour endless bailouts into nations such as Greece and Italy.

Number two, the nations of the eurozone could opt for much deeper economic and political integration.  That would mean a massive loss of sovereignty, but it would save the euro, at least for a little while.

Right now, the political will for either of those two choices is simply not there.  That does not mean that the political elite of Europe will not try to ram through some sort of a plan, but the reality is that Germans are already so upset about what has been going on that they are about ready to riot in the streets.

Yes, the end of the euro is a real possibility.

If the euro does collapse, it would likely cause a financial panic that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

So what do all of you think about the future of the euro?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below….

 

25 Signs That The Financial World Is About To Hit The Big Red Panic Button

Most of the worst financial panics in history have happened in the fall.  Just recall what happened in 1929, 1987 and 2008.  Well, September 2011 is about to begin and there are all kinds of signs that the financial world is about to hit the big red panic button.  Wave after wave of bad economic news has come out of the United States recently, and Europe is embroiled in an absolutely unprecedented debt crisis.  At this point there is a very real possibility that the euro may not even survive.  So what is causing all of this?  Well, over the last couple of decades a gigantic debt bubble has fueled a tremendous amount of “fake prosperity” in the western world.  But for a debt bubble to keep going, the total amount of debt has to keep expanding at an ever increasing pace.  Unfortunately for the global economy, sources of credit are starting to dry up.  That is why you hear terms like “credit crisis” and “credit crunch” thrown around so much these days.  Without enough credit to feed the monster, the debt bubble is going to burst.  At this point, virtually the entire global economy runs on credit, so when this debt bubble bursts things could get really, really messy.

Nations and financial institutions would never get into debt trouble if they could always borrow as much money as they wanted at extremely low interest rates.  But what has happened is that lending sources are balking at continuing to lend cheap money to nations and financial institutions that are already up to their eyeballs in debt.

For example, the yield on 2 year Greek bonds is now over 40 percent.  Investors don’t trust the Greek government and they are demanding a huge return in order to lend them more money.

Throughout the financial world right now there is a lot of fear.  Lending conditions have gotten very tight.  Financial institutions are not eager to lend money to each other or to anyone else.  This “credit crunch” is going to slow down the economy.  Just remember what happened back in 2008.  When easy credit stops flowing, the dominoes can start falling very quickly.

Sadly, this is a cycle that can feed into itself.  When credit is tight, the economy slows down and more businesses fail.  That causes financial institutions to want to tighten up things even more in order to avoid the “bad credit risks”.  Less economic activity means less tax revenue for governments.  Less tax revenue means larger budget deficits and increased borrowing by governments.    But when government debt gets really high that can cause huge economic problems like we are witnessing in Greece right now.  The cycle of tighter credit and a slowing economy can go on and on and on.

I spend a lot of time talking about problems with the U.S. economy, but the truth is that the rest of the world is dealing with massive problems as well right now.  As bad as things are in the U.S., the reality is that Europe looks like it may be “ground zero” for the next great financial crisis.

At this point the EU essentially has three choices.  It can choose much deeper economic integration (which would mean a huge loss of sovereignty), it can choose to keep the status quo going for as long as possible by providing the PIIGS with gigantic bailouts, or it can choose to end of the euro and return to individual national currencies.

Any of those choices would be very messy.  At this point there is not much political will for much deeper economic integration, so the last two alternatives appear increasingly likely.

In any event, global financial markets are paralyzed by fear right now.  Nobody knows what is going to happen next, but many now fear that whatever does come next will not be good.

The following are 25 signs that the financial world is about to hit the big red panic button….

#1 According to a new study just released by Merrill Lynch, the U.S. economy has an 80% chance of going into another recession.

#2 Will Bank of America be the next Lehman Brothers?  Shares of Bank of America have fallen more than 40% over the past couple of months.  Even though Warren Buffet recently stepped in with 5 billion dollars, the reality is that the problems for Bank of America are far from over.  In fact, one analyst is projecting that Bank of America is going to need to raise 40 or 50 billion dollars in new capital.

#3 European bank stocks have gotten absolutely hammered in recent weeks.

#4 So far, major international banks have announced layoffs of more than 60,000 workers, and more layoff announcements are expected this fall.  A recent article in the New York Times detailed some of the carnage….

A new wave of layoffs is emblematic of this shift as nearly every major bank undertakes a cost-cutting initiative, some with names like Project Compass. UBS has announced 3,500 layoffs, 5 percent of its staff, and Citigroup is quietly cutting dozens of traders. Bank of America could cut as many as 10,000 jobs, or 3.5 percent of its work force. ABN Amro, Barclays, Bank of New York Mellon, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Lloyds, State Street and Wells Fargo have in recent months all announced plans to cut jobs — tens of thousands all told.

#5 Credit markets are really drying up.  Do you remember what happened in 2008 when that happened?  Many are now warning that we are getting very close to a repeat of that.

#6 The Conference Board has announced that the U.S. Consumer Confidence Index fell from 59.2 in July to 44.5 in August.  That is the lowest reading that we have seen since the last recession ended.

#7 The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index has fallen by almost 20 points over the last three months.  This index is now the lowest it has been in 30 years.

#8 The Philadelphia Fed’s latest survey of regional manufacturing activity was absolutely nightmarish….

The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, decreased from a slightly positive reading of 3.2 in July to -30.7 in August. The index is now at its lowest level since March 2009

#9 According to Bloomberg, since World War II almost every time that the year over year change in real GDP has fallen below 2% the U.S. economy has fallen into a recession….

Since 1948, every time the four-quarter change has fallen below 2 percent, the economy has entered a recession. It’s hard to argue against an indicator with such a long history of accuracy.

#10 Economic sentiment is falling in Europe as well.  The following is from a recent Reuters article….

A monthly European Commission survey showed economic sentiment in the 17 countries using the euro, a good indication of future economic activity, fell to 98.3 in August from a revised 103 in July with optimism declining in all sectors.

#11 The yield on 2 year Greek bonds is now an astronomical 42.47%.

#12 As I wrote about recently, the European Central Bank has stepped into the marketplace and is buying up huge amounts of sovereign debt from troubled nations such as Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy.  As a result, the ECB is also massively overleveraged at this point.

#13 Most of the major banks in Europe are also leveraged to the hilt and have tremendous exposure to European sovereign debt.

#14 Political wrangling in Europe is threatening to unravel the Greek bailout package.  In a recent article, Satyajit Das described what has been going on behind the scenes in the EU….

The sticking point is a demand for collateral for the second bailout package. Finland demanded and got Euro 500 million in cash as security against their Euro 1,400 million share of the second bailout package. Hearing of the ill-advised side deal between Greece and Finland, Austria, the Netherlands and Slovakia also are now demanding collateral, arguing that their banks were less exposed to Greece than their counterparts in Germany and France entitling them to special treatment. At least, one German parliamentarian has also asked the logical question, why Germany is not receiving similar collateral.

#15 German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to hold the Greek bailout deal together, but a wave of anti-bailout “hysteria” is sweeping Germany, and now according to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard it looks like Merkel may not have enough votes to approve the latest bailout package….

German media reported that the latest tally of votes in the Bundestag shows that 23 members from Mrs Merkel’s own coalition plan to vote against the package, including twelve of the 44 members of Bavaria’s Social Christians (CSU). This may force the Chancellor to rely on opposition votes, risking a government collapse.

#16 Polish finance minister Jacek Rostowski is warning that the status quo in Europe will lead to “collapse“.  According to Rostowski, if the EU does not choose the path of much deeper economic integration the eurozone simply is not going to survive much longer….

“The choice is: much deeper macroeconomic integration in the eurozone or its collapse. There is no third way.”

#17 German voters are against the introduction of “Eurobonds” by about a 5 to 1 margin, so deeper economic integration in Europe does not look real promising at this point.

#18 If something goes wrong with the Greek bailout, Greece is financially doomed.  Just consider the following excerpt from a recent article by Puru Saxena….

In Greece, government debt now represents almost 160% of GDP and the average yield on Greek debt is around 15%. Thus, if Greece’s debt is rolled over without restructuring, its interest costs alone will amount to approximately 24% of GDP. In other words, if debt pardoning does not occur, nearly a quarter of Greece’s economic output will be gobbled up by interest repayments!

#19 The global banking system has a total of 2 trillion dollars of exposure to Greek, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian debt.  Considering how much the global banking system is leveraged, this amount of exposure could end up wiping out a lot of major financial institutions.

#20 The head of the IMF, Christine Largarde, recently warned that European banks are in need of “urgent recapitalization“.

#21 Once the European crisis unravels, things could move very rapidly downhill.  In a recent article, John Mauldin put it this way….

It is only a matter of time until Europe has a true crisis, which will happen faster – BANG! – than any of us can now imagine. Think Lehman on steroids. The U.S. gave Europe our subprime woes. Europe gets to repay the favor with an even more severe banking crisis that, given that the U.S. is at best at stall speed, will tip us into a long and serious recession. Stay tuned.

#22 The U.S. housing market is still a complete and total mess.  According to a recently released report, U.S. home prices fell 5.9% in the second quarter compared to a year earlier.  That was the biggest decline that we have seen since 2009.  But even with lower prices very few people are buying.  According to the National Association of Realtors, sales of previously owned homes dropped 3.5 percent during July.  That was the third decline in the last four months.  Sales of previously owned homes are even lagging behind last year’s pathetic pace.

#23 According to John Lohman, the decline in U.S. economic data over the past three months has been absolutely unprecedented.

#24 Morgan Stanley now says that the U.S. and Europe are “hovering dangerously close to a recession” and that there is a good chance we could enter one at some point in the next 6 to 12 months.

#25 Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota says that he is so alarmed about the state of the economy that he may drop his opposition to more monetary easing.  Could more quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve soon be on the way?

Things have not looked this bad for global financial markets since 2008.  Unless someone rides in on a white horse with trillions of dollars (or euros) of easy credit, it looks like we are headed for a massive credit crunch.

What we witnessed back in 2008 was absolutely horrifying.  Very few people want to see a repeat of that.  But as things in the U.S. and Europe continue to unravel, it appears increasingly likely that the next wave of the financial crisis could hit us sooner rather than later.

None of the fundamental problems that caused the crisis of 2008 have been fixed.  The world financial system is still one gigantic mountain of debt, leverage and risk.

Authorities around the globe will certainly do all they can to keep things stable, but in the end it is inevitable that the house of cards is going to come crashing down.

Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

Bad News

The bad news about the economy just keeps rolling in.  If this is an economic recovery, what in the world is the next “recession” going to look like?  Today there was another huge truckload of bad economic news.  The stock market had another 400 point “correction”, applications for unemployment benefits are up again, inflation is higher than expected, home sales have dropped again and Europe is coming apart at the seams.  The financial markets have been in such a state of chaos recently that days like today don’t even seem “unusual” anymore.  But we should all be alarmed at what is happening.  We haven’t seen anything quite like this since the darkest days of 2008 and 2009.  If more bad news keeps pouring in, we may soon have a very real panic on our hands.

I would have thought that my article yesterday, “20 Signs That The World Could Be Headed For An Economic Apocalypse In 2012“, would have contained enough bad economic news to last for a while.  But today there was another huge bumper crop of depressing numbers.

Are you ready for the carnage?

*The Dow fell 419 points today.  That was a 3.7% drop.  The S&P 500 shot down 4.5% and the Nasdaq plummeted by a whopping 5.2%.

*European bank stocks got absolutely hammered.

*The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits jumped back above 400,000 last week.

*The recent inflation numbers have really taken analysts by surprise.  The consumer price index rose at a 6.0% annual rate during the month of July. As I mentioned yesterday, the producer price index in the U.S. has increased at an annual rate of at least 7.0% for the last three months in a row.

So now we have high unemployment and high inflation.  Oh goody!  All of this stagflation is almost enough to make one nostalgic for the 1970s.

*The housing market is getting even worse.  According to the National Association of Realtors, sales of previously owned homes dropped 3.5 percent during July.  That was the third decline in the last four months.  Sales of previously owned homes are even lagging behind last year’s pathetic pace. Mortgage rates are now the lowest they have been since the 1950s, but there are very few interested buyers in the marketplace.

*The Philadelphia Fed’s latest survey of regional manufacturing activity was absolutely nightmarish….

The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, decreased from a slightly positive reading of 3.2 in July to -30.7 in August. The index is now at its lowest level since March 2009

*Morgan Stanley now says that the U.S. and Europe are “hovering dangerously close to a recession” and that there is a good chance we could enter one at some point in the next 6 to 12 months.

All of this bad news is sending the price of gold through the roof.  The price of gold soared to a brand new all-time high of $1,829.70 an ounce on Thursday morning.  So far, the price of gold is up almost 30 percent in 2011.

Meanwhile, millions of average American families are deeply suffering and are desperately hoping that things won’t get even worse.  Everywhere you turn, there is a tremendous amount of stress in the air.

According to the New York Times, 25 million Americans “could not find full-time jobs last month”.

As the economy crumbles, good paying full-time jobs are becoming increasingly scarce.  People are hurting and they are looking for leadership.

Well, Barack Obama is running around the country promising that he will unveil some “solutions” very shortly.

So what are those solutions going to include?  Well, the plans are still in the development stage, but the Obama administration is reportedly considering the following….

-The creation of a new government agency that will be dedicated to job creation.  This will entail more government spending and more government paper pushers, but it will probably not do much to create good paying full-time jobs.

-Pushing even more free trade agreements through Congress.  That way even more of our good jobs can be shipped to countries on the other side of the globe where paying slave wages to workers is still legal.

-A “reverse boot camp” that will train military veterans for civilian jobs.  That sounds like a good idea, but we already have millions and millions of highly trained Americans that can’t get jobs.

-An extension of the payroll tax cut for at least another year.  That will put more money into the pockets of U.S. workers, but it will also mean less revenue for the federal government.  The existing payroll tax cut has not exactly resulted in a “jobs boom”, but removing that tax cut is certainly not going to help the economy either.

-An extension of long-term unemployment benefits.  Yes, that will help the unemployed survive and will give them some money to spend into the economy, but it will not create many jobs for them.  Plus it will put the government into even more debt.

-The creation of an infrastructure bank.  Like most of the proposals above, this will entail even more government spending.  I know that a “shovel-ready” joke is called for about now, but I can’t think of one at the moment.

The ironic thing is that Barack Obama is riding around on his multistate “jobs tour” in a $1.2 million bus that was made in Canada.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Things have gotten so bad out there that even Wal-Mart is suffering now.  Sales at Wal-Mart stores that have been open for at least a year have fallen for nine quarters in a row.

Not that anyone should have much sympathy for Wal-Mart, but it is a sign of just how bad things are getting out there.

So is there much hope for the future?  Well, considering the fact that only 32 percent of 15-year-olds in the United States are proficient in math, things don’t look good.

Our education system is a joke, tens of thousands of factories have already closed, more are closing every day, millions of jobs have been shipped overseas and most of our politicians are either incompetent or corrupt (or both).

So you would think that with all of our problems, authorities would be focused on the big issues.

But no, time after time they just keep picking on average Americans.

For example, a woman that lives in the Salem, Oregon area that is fighting terminal bone cancer tried to raise some money for her medical bills by holding a few garage sales on the weekends.

Well, the authorities in Salem got wind of this and now they are shutting her down.

This is absolutely unbelievable.  A video news report about this incident is posted below….

Massive fraud and corruption at the big banks caused a worldwide financial crisis in 2008 and yet not a single Wall Street executive has gone to prison because of it.

Yet a cancer-stricken lady tries to hold a few yard sales to pay her bills and authorities come down on her like a ton of bricks.

Does that seem fair to you?

Our world is getting crazier every day.  The bad news is going to keep pouring in.  Global financial markets are being held together with chicken wire and duct tape.  At some point the pyramid of corruption and con games is going to come crashing down.

If you still have faith in the system, you are not very wise.  We are heading for an economic collapse that will be absolutely unprecedented, and you need to be getting prepared.

20 Signs That The World Could Be Headed For An Economic Apocalypse In 2012

If you thought that 2011 was a bad year for the world economy, just wait until you see what happens in 2012.  The U.S. and Europe are both dealing with unprecedented debt problems, the financial markets are flailing about wildly, austerity programs are being implemented all over the globe, prices on basics such as food are soaring and a lot of consumers are flat out scared right now.  Many analysts now fear that a “perfect storm” could be brewing and that we could actually be headed for an economic apocalypse in 2012.  Hopefully that will not happen.  Hopefully our leaders can keep the global economy from completely falling apart.  But right now, things don’t look good.  After a period of relative stability, things are starting to become unglued once again.  The next major financial panic could literally happen at any time.  Sadly, if we do see an economic apocalypse in 2012, it won’t be the wealthy that suffer the most.  It will be the poor, the unemployed, the homeless and the hungry that feel the most pain.

The following are 20 signs that we could be headed for an economic apocalypse in 2012….

#1 Back in 2008 we saw major rioting around the world due to soaring food prices, and now global food prices are on the rise again.  Global food prices in July were 33 percent higher than they were one year ago.  Price increases for staples such as maize (up 84 percent), sugar (up 62 percent) and wheat (up 55 percent) are absolutely devastating poverty-stricken communities all over the planet.  For example, one expert is warning that 800,000 children living in the Horn of Africa could die during this current famine.

#2 The producer price index in the U.S. has increased at an annual rate of at least 7.0% for the last three months in a row.  We are starting to see huge price increases all over the place.  For example, Starbucks recently jacked up the price of a bag of coffee by 17 percent.  If inflation keeps accelerating like this we could be facing some very serious problems by the time 2012 rolls around.

#3 The U.S. “Misery Index” (unemployment plus inflation) recently hit a 28 year high and many believe that it is going to go much, much higher.

#4 Jared Bernstein, the former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden, says that the unemployment rate in this country will not go below 8% before the 2012 election.  In fact, Bernstein says that “the most optimistic forecast would be for about eight-and-a-half percent.”

#5 Working class jobs in the United States continue to disappear at an alarming rate.  Back in 1967, 97 percent of men with a high school degree between the ages of 30 and 50 had jobs.  Today, that figure is 76 percent.

#6 There are all kinds of indications that U.S. economic growth is about to slow down even further.  For example, pre-orders for Christmas toys from China are way down this year.

#7 One recent survey found that 9 out of 10 U.S. workers do not expect their wages to keep up with the rising cost of basics such as food and gasoline over the next year.

#8 U.S. consumer confidence is now at its lowest level in 30 years.

#9 Today, an all-time record 45.8 million Americans are on food stamps.  It is almost inconceivable that the largest economy on earth could have so many people dependent on the government for food.

#10 As the economy crumbles, we are also witnessing the fabric of society beginning to come apart.  The recent flash mob crimes that we are starting to see all over America are just one example of this.

#11 Some desperate Americans are already stealing anything that they can get their hands on.  For example, according to the American Kennel Club, dog thefts are up 32 percent this year.

#12 Small businesses all over the United States are having a really difficult time getting loans right now.  Perhaps if the Federal Reserve was not paying banks not to make loans things would be different.

#13 The U.S. national debt is like a giant boulder that our economy must constantly carry around on its back, and it is growing by billions of dollars every single day.  Right now the debt of the federal government is $14,592,242,215,641.90.  It has gone up by nearly 4 trillion dollars since Barack Obama took office.  S&P has already stripped the U.S. of its AAA credit rating, and more downgrades are certain to come if the U.S. does not get its act together.

#14 Tensions between the United States and China are rising again.  A new opinion piece on chinadaily.com is calling for the Chinese government to use its holdings of U.S. debt as a “financial weapon” against the United States if the U.S. follows through with a plan to sell more arms to Taiwan.  The U.S. and China are the two biggest economies in the world, so any trouble between them would mean economic trouble for the rest of the globe as well.

#15 Most state and local governments in the U.S. are deep in debt and flat broke.  Many of them are slashing jobs at a feverish pace.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state and local governments have eliminated more than half a million jobs since August 2008.  UBS Investment Research is projecting that state and local governments in the U.S. will cut 450,000 more jobs by the end of 2012.  How those jobs will be replaced is anyone’s guess.

#16 The U.S. dollar continues to get weaker and weaker.  This is renewing calls for a new global currency to be created to replace the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency of the world.

#17 The European sovereign debt crisis continues to get worse.  Countries like Portugal, Italy and Greece are on the verge of an economic apocalypse.  All of the financial problems in Europe are even beginning to affect the core European nations.  For example, German industrial production declined by 1.1% in June.  There are all kinds of signs that the economy of Europe is slowing down and is heading for a recession.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are proposing that a new “economic government” for Europe be set up to oversee this debt crisis, but nothing that the Europeans have tried so far has done much to solve things.

#18 The Federal Reserve is so desperate to bring some sort of stability to financial markets that it has stated that it will likely keep interest rates near zero all the way until mid-2013.  The Federal Reserve is operating in “panic mode” almost constantly now and they are almost out of ammunition.  So what is going to happen when the real trouble starts?

#19 Central banks around the world certainly seem to be preparing for something.  According to the World Gold Council, central banks around the globe purchased more gold during the first half of 2011 than they did all of last year.

#20 Often perception very much influences reality. One recent survey found that 48 percent of Americans believe that it is likely that another great Depression will begin within the next 12 months.  If people expect that a depression is coming and they quit spending money that actually increases the chance that an economic downturn will occur.

There is already a tremendous amount of economic pain on the streets of America, but unfortunately it looks like things may get even worse in 2012.

The once great economic machine that was handed down to us by our forefathers is falling to pieces all around us and we are in debt up to our eyeballs.  The consequences of our bad economic decisions are hurting some of the most vulnerable members of our society the most.

As the following video shows, large numbers of formerly middle class Americans are now living in their cars or sleeping in the streets….

It is a crying shame what is happening out there on the streets of America today.

Please say a prayer for all of those that are sleeping in cars or tents or under bridges tonight.

Soon even more Americans will be joining them.

The Stock Market Crash Of 2011?

How far does the stock market have to go down before we officially call it a crash?  The Dow is now down more than 2,000 points in just the last 14 trading days.  So can we now call this “The Stock Market Crash of 2011”?  Today the Dow was down 519 points.  Yesterday, an announcement by the Federal Reserve indicating that the Fed would keep interest rates near zero until mid-2013 helped the Dow surge more than 400 points, but all of those gains were wiped out today.  It turns out that the Federal Reserve was only able to stabilize the financial markets for a single day.  Fears about the European sovereign debt crisis and the crumbling U.S. economy continue to dominate the marketplace.  With each passing day, things are looking more and more like 2008 all over again.  So what is going to happen if “The Stock Market Crash of 2011” pushes the U.S. economy into “The Recession of 2012”?

Just like in 2008, bank stocks are being hit the hardest.  That was true once again today.  Bank of America was down more than 10 percent, Citigroup was down more than 10 percent, Morgan Stanley was down more than 9 percent and JPMorgan Chase was down more than 5 percent.

Bank of America stock is down almost 50 percent so far this year.  Overall, the S&P financial sector is down more than 23 percent in 2011 so far.

How soon will it be before we start hearing of the need for more bailouts?  After all, the “too big to fail” banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008.

All of this panic is causing the price of gold to reach unprecedented heights.  Today, gold was over $1800 at one point.  If the current panic continues for an extended period of time, there is no telling how high the price of gold may go.

In the United States, much of the focus has been on the fact that the U.S. government has lost its AAA credit rating, but the truth is that the European sovereign debt crisis is probably the biggest cause of the instability in world financial markets right now.

The European Central Bank has decided to start purchasing Italian and Spanish debt, and there have been rumors that French debt could be hit with a downgrade.  Europe is a total financial basket case right now and unless dramatic action is taken things are going to get progressively worse.

Of course the U.S. is also certainly contributing greatly to this crisis.  The federal government is on track to have a budget deficit that is over a trillion dollars for the third year in a row.  The U.S national debt is a horrific nightmare, but our politicians keep putting off budget cuts.

The debt ceiling deal that was just reached basically does next to nothing to cut the budget before the next election.  Unless the “Super Congress” does something dramatic, the only “budget cuts” we will see before the 2012 election will be 25 billion dollars in “savings” from spending increases that will be cancelled.

The modest spending cuts scheduled to go into effect beginning in 2013 will probably never materialize.  Whenever the time comes to actually significantly cut the budget, our politicians always want to put it off for another time.

But in the end, debt is always going to have its day.  Our politicians can try to kick the can down the road all they want, but eventually a day of reckoning is going to come.

In fact, if the U.S. and Europe had not piled up so much debt, we would not be facing all of the problems we are dealing with now.

Things could have been so much different.

But here we are.

The truth is that this debt crisis is just beginning.  There is no magic potion that is going to make all of this debt suddenly disappear.

Most Americans have no idea how much financial pain is coming.  We have been living way beyond our means for decades, and now we are going to start paying for it.

Now that long-term U.S. government debt has been downgraded, huge numbers of other securities are also going to be affected.  In fact, according to a recent Bloomberg article, S&P has already been very busy slashing the ratings on hordes of municipal bonds….

Standard & Poor’s lowered the AAA ratings of thousands of municipal bonds tied to the federal government, including housing securities and debt backed by leases, following its Aug. 5 downgrade of the U.S.

That is the thing about financial markets – once the dominoes start to fall, the ripple effects can be felt for a long, long time.

So if this stock market crash gets even worse, will the Federal Reserve respond with even stronger measures?

They have already basically promised to keep interest rates near zero for the next two years.  So what else can the Fed do?

Well, many now believe that there is a very good chance that we could see another round of quantitative easing.

Not that more quantitative easing is going to help much of anything.  Rather than helping the economy, the last round of quantitative easing just pushed commodity prices through the roof.  But the Fed is unlikely to just sit there and do nothing while financial markets struggle.

But it is not just the financial markets that are having a difficult time right now.  Bad news is coming in from all over the economy.  The possibility that we could soon slip into another major recession is growing by the day.

Unfortunately, our economy is so weak already that a new recession would probably hurt even more than the last recession did.

Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, says that if we have another recession it “won’t feel like a new recession. It would likely feel like a depression.

But the American people are in no mood for more economic pain.  Every recent poll shows that Americans are already fed up.

For example, a brand new Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 73 percent of the American people believe that the country is “on the wrong track”.

So let’s certainly hope that the current stock market crash does not set off another major global recession.  We certainly do not need things to get significantly worse than they are right now.

But whether it hits now or later, the truth is that a whole lot of economic pain is on the way.  The U.S. and Europe have been making really, really bad decisions for decades, and we are not going to be able to escape the consequences of those decisions.

The global financial system is one huge mountain of leverage, risk and debt.  A collapse is inevitable.

When you build a house of cards on a foundation of sand, you should not be surprised when it comes crashing down.

The next wave of the economic collapse is coming, and those that are wise will get prepared.

 

 

The Federal Reserve Saves The Stock Market?

The Federal Reserve has saved the stock market!  Well, at least for a day.  That was one heck of a “dead cat bounce” that we saw on Tuesday.  Normally, after the kind of dramatic decline that we saw on Monday there is some sort of a rebound, but on Tuesday the market did not begin to soar until the Federal Reserve pledged to leave interest rates near zero until mid-2013.  Once the Fed made their announcement, the market went haywire.  At one point the Dow was down more than 200 points, but by the end of the day it was up 430 points.  It was a desperate move for the Federal Reserve to pledge not to raise interest rates for the next two years, and it has stabilized financial markets for the moment.  But what is the Fed going to do to save the stock market when it starts crashing next week or next month?  The underlying financial fundamentals continue to get worse and worse.  Europe is a mess, Japan is a mess and the United States is a mess.  The Federal Reserve can try to keep all of the balls in the air for as long as possible, but at some point the juggling act is going to end and the house of cards is going to come crashing down.

This move may calm nerves for a day or two, but there is still a tremendous amount of fear out there at the moment.  Many investors are pouring money into “safe havens” right now.  Huge amounts of cash are being poured into U.S. Treasuries and the price of gold is absolutely soaring.  The price of gold is up about $220 in just the last 30 days alone.

So how high could the price of gold go in the coming months?  Well, analysts at JP Morgan are forecasting that the price of gold could hit $2,500 by the end of this year.

Yes, that is how wild things are becoming.  The Federal Reserve is painting itself into a corner.  Never before has the Fed pledged to leave interest rates near zero for the next two years.  The following is an excerpt from the statement that the Fed released earlier today….

To promote the ongoing economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate, the Committee decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent.  The Committee currently anticipates that economic conditions–including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run–are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through mid-2013.  The Committee also will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings.  The Committee will regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate.

Needless to say, the rest of the world is not pleased by this nonsense from the Fed.  Yes, the Fed has stabilized financial markets for the moment, but a lot of ill will is being created with the rest of the globe.  The following is what Bruce Krasting had to say about how the rest of the world is going to react to this latest Fed move….

Brazil, Argentina, Korea, Indonesia are going to scream bloody murder over perpetual ZIRP. Russia is likely to get downright ugly with their rhetoric. I wouldn’t be surprised if they took this opportunity to vote with their feet and just abandon the dollar as a reserve holding. China will also make noise. They will make more calls for a new international currency to replace the dollar. The Central bankers in Japan and Switzerland are puking in the trashcan over this. Bernanke is exporting US deflation to them. Shame on the Fed for pursuing Beggar my neighbor policies. They deserve all the global criticism they are about to get.

The Federal Reserve is using up all of the ammunition it has available and the game has barely even begun.

Things are going to get a lot worse.  The U.S national debt continues to pile up at lightning speed.  The debt ceiling deal essentially does nothing to fix our debt problems.  Thousands of businesses and millions of jobs continue to leave the United States.  As a nation, we are constantly becoming poorer and we are constantly getting into more debt.

Meanwhile, Europe is on the verge of a financial meltdown and Japan has a “zombie economy” at this point.

Many fear that we could be on the verge of another major global recession.  The following is how a recent Der Spiegel article described the current global financial situation….

Many economists have been pointing out that last week’s panic resembled the fear that swept financial markets after the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008.

Then as now, banks stopped lending each money. Then as now, banks’ cash deposits at the central bank doubled within days. The European Central Bank reacted by assuring banks of unlimited liquidity in the coming months. It was an emergency measure that led to short-term relief but sparked anxious questions among bankers and stock market players. How long can the central bank keep up its market-soothing liquidity operations before it finally loses its credibility, the most important asset of a central bank? Is the financial crisis about to escalate?

In the old days, the U.S. and Europe could just borrow gigantic stacks of cash in order to solve any problems.  But now things are dramatically changing.

China’s official news agency recently stated that the U.S. needs to understand that things are different now….

“The U.S. government has to come to terms with the painful fact that the good old days when it could just borrow its way out of messes of its own making are finally gone”

Not that the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve are going to suddenly give up their old habits.  The U.S. government is addicted to debt and the Fed is addicted to printing money.  When push comes to shove, they are going to resort to their favorite tricks.

But at some point the rest of the world is not going to play along anymore.  When that moment arrives, it is going to be very interesting to see what happens.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy continues to slowly unravel, and people in this country are getting very angry.  Millions of Americans families are barely scraping by right now.  Most Americans just want someone to “fix” things, but unfortunately there are no easy “fixes” to our financial problems.

As our economic problems grow even worse, frustration inside the United States is going to continue to escalate.  A brand new Rasmussen survey found that only 17 percent of Americans now believe that the U.S. government has the consent of the governed.

That was a brand new all-time low.

Faith in the major institutions of our society is already dangerously low and the economy is not even that bad yet.

As horrible as things are now, the truth is that this is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming.

In the months and years ahead, America is going to be greatly tested.  As the recent London riots have shown, things can spiral out of control very quickly.

When the economy completely collapses will America be able to handle it?

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