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Russia Is Going To Pass A Law Formally Dumping The U.S. Dollar

Vladimir Putin 2015 - Public DomainRussian President Vladimir Putin has introduced legislation that would deal a tremendous blow to the U.S. dollar.  If Putin gets his way, and he almost certainly will, the U.S. dollar will be eliminated from trade between nations that belong to the Commonwealth of Independent States.  In addition to Russia, that list of countries includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.  Obviously this would not mean “the death of the dollar”, but it would be a very significant step toward the end of the era of the absolute dominance of the U.S. dollar.  Most people don’t realize this, but more U.S. dollars are actually used outside of the United States than are used inside this country.  If the rest of the planet decides to stop accumulating dollars, using them to trade with one another, and loaning them back to us at ultra-low interest rates, we are going to be in for a world of hurt.  Unfortunately for us, it is only a matter of time until that happens.

When I first read the following excerpt from a recent RT article, I was absolutely stunned…

Russian President Vladimir Putin has drafted a bill that aims to eliminate the US dollar and the euro from trade between CIS countries.

This means the creation of a single financial market between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and other countries of the former Soviet Union.

“This would help expand the use of national currencies in foreign trade payments and financial services and thus create preconditions for greater liquidity of domestic currency markets”, said a statement from Kremlin.

For a long time, tensions have been building between the United States and Russia over Syria, Ukraine, the price of oil and a whole host of other issues.  But I didn’t anticipate that things would get to this level quite yet.  It is expected that Putin’s new bill will become law, and this is only one element of a much larger trend that is now developing.

You see, the truth is that Russia and China have both been dumping dollar-denominated assets for months.  The following comes from a recent piece by Mac Slavo

Last year Russia began unloading massive amounts of their US dollar reserves. In the month of December 2014 alone Putin sold some 20% of the country’s U.S. Treasurys, a move that further increased tensions surrounding what can only be described as economic warfare between East and West.

Then, as if part of a coordinated effort, this summer it was revealed that China had implemented a similar strategy, dumping half a trillion in dollar denominated assets.

But that’s just the beginning of the end for the US dollar. Amid a major meltdown in Chinese stock markets the People’s Republic sold off billions in dollar assets last week in what was reported to be an effort to stabilize their collapsing financial markets.

And now, as Russia’s economy collapses under the weight of American and European sanctions, including what many believe to be widespread downward manipulation of oil prices, Vladimir Putin is sending a clear signal to the central bank of the world’s reserve currency.

China has the second largest economy on the entire planet, and Russia has the tenth largest.  In recent years, these two superpowers have become much tighter.  For example, just consider this headline from Sputnik News that I came across just today: “Crippling US Foreign Policy Draws Russia, China Closer Together“.

And I don’t know if you have noticed, but U.S. relations with China have turned rather sour lately.  Lots of accusations about spying and trade violations have been flying around, and just this week five Chinese warships were spotted off the coast of Alaska.  In the months ahead, expect our relationship with China to continue to unravel.

If China and Russia were to both fundamentally reject the U.S. dollar at some point, much of the rest of the world may choose to follow suit.

So why is that important?

The fact that most of the nations of the world use our dollars to trade with one another creates a tremendous amount of artificial demand for our currency.  In other words, the U.S. dollar is valued much higher than it otherwise would be just because it is the de facto reserve currency of the planet.

As a result, we can import massive amounts of products at super cheap prices.  When we go to Wal-Mart or the dollar store, we can fill up our carts with lots and lots of ridiculously inexpensive stuff.  Our standard of living is way higher than it actually should be.

And because the U.S. dollar is used so widely in global trade, major exporting nations end up with giant piles of our currency which they have been willing to lend back to us at ultra-low interest rates.  This has made it possible to fund our massively bloated federal government and to go 18 trillion dollars in debt.

If the rest of the world stops using our dollars and stops playing our game, we will be in a tremendous amount of trouble.  The cost of imported products would absolutely skyrocket and our standard of living would go way down.

In addition, the federal government (along with state and local governments) would have to pay much more to borrow money which would rapidly create a gigantic debt crisis.

So Russia knows where they could really hurt us.  Most of the “power” that America currently projects around the world is based on having the de facto reserve currency of the planet.  If you take our financial power away, we would be far, far less imposing on the global stage.  Sadly, the truth is that the U.S. military is rapidly shrinking and has largely been defanged by the Obama administration.

A lot of people that will read this article will not understand this, but it is very, very important to keep an eye on this emerging Russian/Chinese alliance.  I believe that it is going to play a critical role in world events during the years ahead.

So do you agree with me or do you disagree?  Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…

The South American Financial Crisis Of 2015

South America - Public DomainMost nations in South America are either already experiencing an economic recession or are right on the verge of one.  In general, South American economies are very heavily dependent on exports, and right now they are being absolutely shredded by the twin blades of a commodity price collapse and a skyrocketing U.S. dollar.  During the boom times in South America, governments and businesses loaded up on tremendous amounts of debt.  Since much of that debt was denominated in U.S. dollars, South American borrowers are now finding that it takes much more of their own local currencies to service and pay back those debts.  At the same time, there is much less demand for commodities being produced by South American nations in the international marketplace.  As a result, South America is heading into a full-blown financial crisis which will cause years of pain for the entire continent.

If you know your financial history, then you know that we have seen this exact same scenario play out before in various parts of the world.  The following comes from a recent CNN article

The dollar’s gains should make history nerds shake in their boots. Its rally in the early 1980s helped trigger Latin America’s debt crisis. Fifteen years later, the greenback surged quickly again, causing Southeast Asian economies, such as Thailand, to collapse after a run on the banks ensued.

In particular, what is going on right now is so similar to what took place back in the early 1980s.  At that time, Latin American governments were swimming in debt, the U.S. dollar was surging and commodity prices were falling.  The conditions were perfect for a debt crisis in Latin America, and that is precisely what happened

When the world economy went into recession in the 1970s and 80s, and oil prices skyrocketed, it created a breaking point for most countries in the region. Developing countries also found themselves in a desperate liquidity crunch. Petroleum exporting countries – flush with cash after the oil price increases of 1973-74 – invested their money with international banks, which ‘recycled’ a major portion of the capital as loans to Latin American governments. The sharp increase in oil prices caused many countries to search out more loans to cover the high prices, and even oil producing countries wanted to use the opportunity to develop further. These oil producers believed that the high prices would remain and would allow them to pay off their additional debt.

As interest rates increased in the United States of America and in Europe in 1979, debt payments also increased, making it harder for borrowing countries to pay back their debts. Deterioration in the exchange rate with the US dollar meant that Latin American governments ended up owing tremendous quantities of their national currencies, as well as losing purchasing power. The contraction of world trade in 1981 caused the prices of primary resources (Latin America’s largest export) to fall.

Sadly, the same mistakes have been repeated once again.  In recent years South American nations have loaded up on vast amounts of debt, and now that commodity prices are tanking and the U.S. dollar is surging, all of that debt is creating tremendous headaches.

For instance, just consider what is happening in Brazil

Brazil’s real plummeted to a 12-year low of 3.34 to the dollar, reflecting the country’s heavy reliance on exports of iron ore and other raw materials to China.

The devaluation tightens the noose on Brazilian companies saddled with $188bn in dollar debt taken out during the glory days of the commodity boom. The oil group Petrobras alone raised $52bn on the US bond markets.

Today, Brazil has the 7th largest economy on the entire planet.

So a major financial crisis in Brazil would be extremely significant.

And that is precisely what is starting to happen.  It is being projected that Brazilian government debt will soon be reduced to junk status, Brazilian stocks have already entered “correction territory“, and economic forecasters say that the Brazilian economy is heading into its worst recession in at least 25 years

Brazil needs to brace itself for some very tough times. Brazilian banks are currently forecasting another economic contraction for the South American country in 2016, marking the first time that Brazil’s economy has shrunk in two consecutive years since the Great Depression.

Last Friday, economist Nelson Teixeira of Switzerland-based financial services holding company Credit Suisse released a revision of his already dour forecast for the Brazilian GDP, moving this year’s numbers from -1.8 percent to -2.4 percent.

The IMF is also projecting that 2015 will be a year of recession for the second largest economy in South America (Argentina) and the third largest economy in South America (Venezuela).

And actually Venezuela is in the deepest trouble of all.  According to a recent Bloomberg article, it appears to be inevitable that there will be a debt default by the Venezuelan government in the very near future…

Harvard University Professor Ricardo Hausmann last year questioned Venezuela’s decision to keep paying bondholders as the country sank deeper into crisis and suggested it stop honoring the debt.

Now, he’s saying Venezuela will have no choice but to default next year.

Hausmann’s comments come as a deepening collapse in oil prices and a shortage of dollars stoke concern Venezuela is fast running out of money to stay current on debt. The country’s bonds plunged last year after Hausmann, who served as Venezuelan planning minister after Hugo Chavez’s failed 1992 coup, raised the specter of default, saying he found “no moral grounds” for the government to pay debt at a time when Venezuelans were facing shortages of everything from basic medicine to toilet paper.

The inflation rate in Venezuela today is an astounding 68.5 percent, and the country is plunging into full-blown economic collapse.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

As we recently warned, the hyperinflationary collapse in Venezuela is reaching its terminal phase. With inflation soaring at least 65%, murder rates the 2nd highest in the world, and chronic food (and toilet paper shortages), the following disturbing clip shows what is rapidly becoming major social unrest in the Maduro’s socialist paradise… and perhaps more importantly, Venezuela shows us what the end game for every fiat money system looks like (and perhaps Janet and her colleagues should remember that).

Here is the video that was mentioned in the excerpt above.  As you watch this, please keep in mind that the United States is on the exact same path that Venezuela has gone down…

Economic chaos is beginning to erupt all over the planet, and the depression that we are entering into will truly be global in scope.

For the moment, many in the United States still believe that what is going on in the rest of the world will not affect us.  But the truth is that we are also right on the verge of a major financial crisis, and it is going to be even worse than what we experienced back in 2008.

So what do you think about what is going on down in South America?

Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

Copper, China And World Trade Are All Screaming That The Next Economic Crisis Is Here

Screaming Smiley - Public DomainIf you are looking for a “canary in a coal mine” type of warning for the entire global economy, you have a whole bunch to pick from right now.  “Dr. Copper” just hit a six year low, Morgan Stanley is warning that this could be the worst oil price crash in 45 years, the Chinese economy is suddenly stalling out, and world trade is falling at the fastest pace that we have seen since the last financial crisis.  In order not to see all of the signs that are pointing toward a global economic slowdown, you would have to be willingly blind.  In recent months, I have been writing article after article detailing how the exact same patterns that happened just before the stock market crash of 2008 are playing out once again.  We are watching a slow-motion train wreck unfold right before our eyes, and things are only going to get worse from here.

Copper is referred to as “Dr. Copper” because it does such an excellent job of indicating where economic conditions are heading next.  We saw this in 2008, when the price of copper started crashing big time in the months leading up to the stock market implosion.

Well, now copper is crashing again.  Just check out this chart.  The price of copper plunged again on Wednesday, and it is now the lowest that it has been since the last financial crisis.  Unfortunately, the forecast for the months ahead is not good.  The following is what Goldman Sachs is saying about copper…

“Though we have been bearish on copper on a 12-mo forward basis for the past two and a half years, we have maintained a more bullish medium to long-term stance on the assumption of Chinese copper demand growth of 4% per annum and a major slowing in supply growth around 2017/2018 … we substantially lower our short, medium, and long-term copper price forecasts, on the back of lower Chinese copper demand growth forecasts (we have been highlighting that the risk has been skewed to the downside for some time), increased conviction in copper supply growth over the next three years, and increased conviction in the outlook for mining cost deflation in dollar terms.”

It is funny that Goldman mentioned China so prominently.  Even though China’s fake GDP figures say that everything is fine over there, other numbers are painting a very dismal picture.

For instance, Chinese electrical consumption in June grew at the slowest pace that we have seen in 30 years, and capital outflows from China have reached a level that is “frightening”

Robin Brooks at Goldman Sachs estimates that capital outflows topped $224bn in the second quarter, a level “beyond anything seen historically”.

The Chinese central bank (PBOC) is being forced to run down the country’s foreign reserves to defend the yuan. This intervention is becoming chronic. The volume is rising. Mr Brooks calculates that the authorities sold $48bn of bonds between March and June.

Charles Dumas at Lombard Street Research says capital outflows – when will we start calling it capital flight? – have reached $800bn over the past year. These are frighteningly large sums of money.

Just last month, the Chinese stock market started to crash, but the crash was interrupted when the Chinese government essentially declared a form of financial martial law.

And I don’t think that “financial martial law” is too strong of a term to use in this case.  Just consider the following excerpt from a recent article in the Telegraph

Half the shares traded in Shanghai and Shenzhen were suspended. New floats were halted. Some 300 corporate bosses were strong-armed into buying back their own shares. Police state tactics were used hunt down short sellers.

We know from a vivid account in Caixin magazine that China’s top brokers were shut in a room and ordered to hand over money for an orchestrated buying blitz. A target of 4,500 was set for the Shanghai Composite by Communist Party officials.

So a stock market crash was halted, but in doing so Chinese officials have essentially destroyed the second largest stock market in the world.  China’s financial markets have lost all legitimacy, and foreigners are going to be extremely hesitant to put any money into Chinese stocks from now on.

Meanwhile, there is no hiding the fact that trade activity in China and in most of the rest of the planet is slowing down.  In fact, world trade volume has now dropped by the most that we have seen since the last global recession.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

As goes the world, so goes America (according to 30 years of historical data), and so when world trade volumes drop over 2% (the biggest drop since 2009) in the last six months to the weakest since June 2014, the “US recession imminent” canary in the coalmine is drawing her last breath

World Trade Volume - Zero Hedge

As Wolf Street’s Wolf Richter adds, this isn’t stagnation or sluggish growth. This is the steepest and longest decline in world trade since the Financial Crisis. Unless a miracle happened in June, and miracles are becoming exceedingly scarce in this sector, world trade will have experienced its first back-to-back quarterly contraction since 2009.

As you probably noted in the chart above, a decline in world trade is almost always associated with a recession.

That was certainly the case back in 2008 and 2009.

Another similarity between the last crisis and what is happening now is a crash in the price of oil.

According to Business Insider, we have just officially entered a brand new bear market for oil…

Oil is officially in a bear market.

On Thursday, West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures fell more than 1% to settle near $48.55 per barrel in New York.

A bear market is roughly defined as a 20% drop from highs. Crude has now fallen by about 20% in the last six weeks.

So what does all of this mean?

All of these signs are indicating that another great economic crisis is here, and that a global financial implosion is just around the corner.

At this point, even many of the “bulls” are sounding the alarm.  For example, just consider what Henry Blodget of Business Insider is saying…

As regular readers know, for the past ~21 months I have been worrying out loud about US stock prices. Specifically, I have suggested that a decline of 30% to 50% would not be a surprise.

I haven’t predicted a crash. But I have said clearly that I think stocks will deliver returns that are way below average for the next seven to 10 years. And I certainly won’t be surprised to see stocks crash. So don’t say no one warned you!

For those that don’t know, Henry Blodget is definitely not a bear.  In fact, he is one of Wall Street’s biggest cheerleaders.

So for Blodget to suggest that we could see the stock market drop by half is a really big deal.

The closer that we get to this next crisis, the clearer that everything is becoming.

Where are things going to go from here?  Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

Ultra-Secrecy Surrounds Barack Obama’s New Global Economic Treaty

Obama SelfieBarack Obama is secretly negotiating a global economic treaty which would destroy thousands of American businesses and millions of good paying American jobs.  In other words, it would be the final nail in the coffin for America’s economic infrastructure.  Obama knows that if the American people actually knew what was in this treaty that they would be screaming mad, so the negotiations are being done in secret.  The only people that are allowed to look at the treaty are members of Congress, and even they are being banned from saying anything to the public.  American workers are about to be brutally stabbed in the back, and thanks to all of this secrecy and paranoia they won’t even see it coming.

The name of this new treaty is “the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and it is being touted as perhaps the most important trade agreement in history.  But very few people in this country are talking about it, because none of us are allowed to see it.  An article that was just released by Politico detailed the extreme secrecy that is surrounding this trade agreement…

If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.

If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving.

And no matter what, you can’t discuss the details of what you’ve read.

This treaty is going to affect the lives of every man, woman and child living in this nation, and yet it is deemed so “important” that none of us can know what is in it?

Are you sure that we still live in a Republic?

This treaty will cover 40 percent of the global economy, and U.S. officials hope that the EU, China and India will become members eventually as well

Right now, there are 12 countries that are part of the negotiations: the United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.  These nations have a combined population of 792 million people and account for an astounding 40 percent of the global economy.  And it is hoped that the EU, China and India will eventually join as well.  This is potentially the most dangerous economic treaty of our lifetimes, and yet there is very little political debate about it in this country.

If the EU, China and India did eventually join the treaty, that would essentially make it a trade agreement for the entire planet.

This is a really big deal, and it should be openly debated by the American people.  But instead, Barack Obama has chosen to shroud the entire process with as much secrecy as possible.  Not only that, he also wants Congress to give him fast track negotiating authority.  If Congress does that, they would essentially be saying that they blindly trust Obama to negotiate a good treaty for us.  At the end of the process, Congress would be able to vote the treaty up or down, but would not be able to amend it.

That sounds insane, right?  Well, if you can believe it, Republicans in the Senate are quite eager to give Barack Obama this authority.

And this is not just an economic treaty.  The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles

It is basically a gigantic end run around Congress.  Thanks to leaks, we have learned that so many of the things that Obama has deeply wanted for years are in this treaty.  If adopted, this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, healthcare, copyright and patent protection, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more.  This treaty includes many of the rules that alarmed Internet activists so much when SOPA was being debated, it would essentially ban all “Buy American” laws, it would give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and it would force even more domestic manufacturing offshore.

We can’t consume our way to prosperity, and we can’t borrow and spend our way to prosperity.  In order to be prosperous as a nation, we have got to create at least as much wealth as we consume.  But instead, we are doing just the opposite.  We are consuming wealth like mad even while our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted.  We have lost thousands of businesses and millions of jobs already, and this new treaty will make things much worse.

And of course eventually even the ultra-cheap labor on the other side of the planet will be replaced.  This is something that is already happening in China.  Just today there was a news story about a new manufacturing facility in China that will use only robots

Construction work has begun on the first factory in China’s manufacturing hub of Dongguan to use only robots for production, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 1,000 robots would be introduced at the factory initially, run by Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology Co, with the aim of reducing the current workforce of 1,800 by 90 percent to only about 200, Chen Xingqi, the chairman of the company’s board, was quoted as saying in the report.

The company did not give a figure for the investment in the factory, but said its production capacity could reach a value of 2 billion yuan (US$322 million) annually.

All of this is very bad news for American workers.  Whether it is ultra-cheap labor on the other side of the globe or new technology, big corporations are constantly looking for ways to produce things less expensively.

But in order to have a middle class, we have got to have middle class jobs.  The middle class in the United States is steadily disappearing, and neither political party seems very concerned about this at all.

Even without this new trade treaty, our trade deficit with the rest of the planet continues to grow even larger.  We just learned that the monthly U.S. trade deficit for March rose to $51.4 billion.  That was the largest monthly trade deficit since October 2008.  If you will remember, in October 2008 we were experiencing the worst financial crisis since the days of the Great Depression.

And if you take oil out of the number, our trade deficit for the month of March would be the worst ever recorded.

Thank you Barack Obama.  Your trade policies are really “working”.

Because the trade deficit was much worse than expected, that is going to push the GDP number for the first quarter into negative territory

Greg Daco of Oxford Economics says he expects the wider than expected trade deficit to prompt the government to revise its estimate of 0.2% growth in U.S. gross domestic product for the first quarter to a 0.5% contraction.

That means that if we have another contraction in the second quarter, we will officially be in a recession.

In fact, we could be in a recession right now (according to the official government definition) and not even know it yet.

One of the biggest reasons why the U.S. economy has been struggling so much in recent years is due to our trade policies.  If we had balanced trade with other nations, our cumulative economic growth since mid-2009 would have been nearly 20 percent higher

Since rising trade balances subtract from economic growth, the increase in this real non-oil goods deficit has now cut cumulative U.S. economic growth after inflation by a stunning 19.49 percent since the recovery technically began in mid-2009.

Are you starting to see why I get so fired up about trade?

But instead of encouraging big corporations to do what is right for the American people, our system greatly rewards companies like Apple that proudly send jobs offshore.  The following is an excerpt from an outstanding article by Andrew Zatlin

Nine years, a trillion dollars in sales, and almost no taxes paid. That’s just the starting point for wondering about Apple’s actual contribution to the US economy.

Apple’s success drags down the US GDP.  The behemoth that is Apple sold almost 200M phones last year, none of which were made in the US or used components made here. Instead of exporting $100B in iPhones, the US imported $50B. That $150B swing matters in terms of balance of trade, GDP and jobs. If you wanted to improve the US economy, there’s no better place to start than with Apple and smartphones.

Apple undermines the US manufacturing base. Assembly matters and manufacturing matters more. There was a time when Apple could have assembled phones and tablets in the US, but that would mean spending an extra $5 per phone since that’s approximately the extra labor cost to build that $700 phone here instead of in Vietnam or China. Assembly may not be a competitive, value-add step but it does employ a lot of people.

Unfortunately, it would also cut Apple’s profits by $1B, shrinking the company’s annual net income from $45B to $44B. Apple wouldn’t notice a drop in profits of $1B because it’s not putting its cash to use: Apple has $200B in cash conveniently parked outside of the US, not doing anything. On the other hand, assembling in the US would employ tens of thousands of people.

You can read the rest of that great article right here.

Our trade policies matter.  Decades of incredibly foolish decisions have ripped our economic infrastructure to shreds, and we are slowly but steadily committing national economic suicide.

Now, Barack Obama is absolutely determined to deliver the finishing blow, and it is all being done in secret.

When are you going to wake up and start getting angry America?

Huge Trouble Is Percolating Just Under The Surface Of The Global Economy

World On Fire - Public DomainDid you know that the number of publicly traded companies declaring bankruptcy has reached a five year high?  And did you know that Chinese exports are absolutely collapsing and that Chinese economic growth in 2014 was the weakest in over 20 years?  Even though things may seem to be okay on the surface for the global economy at the moment, that does not mean that big trouble is not percolating just under the surface.  On Wednesday, investors cheered as stocks soared to new highs, but almost all of the economic news coming in from around the planet has been bad.  The credit rating on Greek debt has been slashed again, global economic trade is really slowing down, and many of the exact same financial patterns that we saw just before the crash of 2008 are repeating once again.  All of this reminds me of the months leading up to the implosion of Lehman Brothers.  Most people were feeling really good about things, but huge trouble was brewing just underneath the surface.  Finally, one day we learned that Lehman Brothers had “suddenly” collapsed, and then all hell broke loose.

If the economy is actually “getting better” like we are being told by the establishment media, then why are so many big companies declaring bankruptcy?  According to CNBC, the number of publicly traded companies declaring bankruptcy has hit a five year high…

The number of bankruptcies among publicly traded U.S. companies has climbed to the highest first-quarter level for five years, according to a Reuters analysis of data from research firm

Plunging prices of crude oil and other commodities is one of the major reasons for the increased filings, and bankruptcy experts said a more aggressive stance by lenders may also be hurting some companies.

It is interesting to note that the price of oil is being named as one of the primary reasons why this is happening.

In an article entitled “Anyone That Believes That Collapsing Oil Prices Are Good For The Economy Is Crazy“, I warned about this.  If the price of oil does not bounce back in a huge way, we are going to see a lot more companies go bankrupt, a lot more people are going to lose their jobs, and a lot more corporate debt is going to go bad.

And of course this oil crash has not just hurt the United States.  All over the world, economic activity is being curtailed because of what has happened to the price of oil…

In the heady days of the commodity boom, oil-rich nations accumulated billions of dollars in reserves they invested in U.S. debt and other securities. They also occasionally bought trophy assets, such as Manhattan skyscrapers, luxury homes in London or Paris Saint-Germain Football Club.

Now that oil prices have dropped by half to $50 a barrel, Saudi Arabia and other commodity-rich nations are fast drawing down those “petrodollar” reserves. Some nations, such as Angola, are burning through their savings at a record pace, removing a source of liquidity from global markets.

If oil and other commodity prices remain depressed, the trend will cut demand for everything from European government debt to U.S. real estate as producing nations seek to fill holes in their domestic budgets.

But it isn’t just oil.  We appear to be moving into a time when things are slowing down all over the place.

In a recent article, Zero Hedge summarized some of the bad economic news that has come in just this week…

Mortgage Apps tumble, Empire Fed slumps, and now Industrial Production plunges… Against expectations of a 0.3% drop MoM, US Factory Output was twice as bad at -0.6% – the worst since August 2012 (and lamost worst since June 2009). This is the 4th miss in a row.

If we are indeed heading into another economic downturn, that is really bad news, because at the moment we are in far worse shape than we were just prior to the last recession.

To help illustrate this, I want to share with you a couple of charts.

This first chart comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and it shows that after you adjust for inflation, median income for the middle class is the lowest that it has been in decades

Median Income St. Louis Fed

This next chart shows that median net worth for the middle class is also the lowest that it has been in decades after you adjust for inflation…

Median Net Worth St. Louis Fed

The middle class is being systematically destroyed.  For much more on this, please see this recent article that I published.  And now we are on the verge of another major economic slowdown.  That is not what the middle class needs at all.

We are also getting some very disturbing economic news out of China.

In 2014, economic growth in China was the weakest in more than 20 years, and Chinese export numbers are absolutely collapsing

China’s monthly trade data shows exports fell in March from a year ago by 14.6% in yuan terms, compared to expectations for a rise of more than 8%.

Imports meanwhile fell 12.3% in yuan terms compared to forecasts for a fall of more than 11%.

This is a clear sign that global economic activity is slowing down in a big way.

In addition, Chinese home prices are now falling at a faster pace then U.S. home prices fell during the subprime mortgage meltdown

It appeared as though things went from bad to worse nearly overnight; China’s National Bureau of Statistics said that contrary to hopes that there would be a modest rebound, the average new home price in China fell at the fastest pace on record in February, from the previous year.

Reuters reported that average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities fell 5.7 percent, year to year, in February – marking the sixth consecutive drop after January’s decline of 5.1 percent.

Things continue to get worse in Europe as well.

This week we learned that the credit rating for Greek government debt has been slashed once again

Standard & Poor’s has just cut Greece’s credit rating to “CCC+” from “B-” with a negative outlook.

S&P said it expected Greece’s debt to be “unsustainable.” It cited the potential for dissolving liquidity in the government, banks and economy.

And according to the Financial Times, we could actually be on the verge of witnessing a Greek debt default…

Greece is preparing to take the dramatic step of declaring a debt default unless it can reach a deal with its international creditors by the end of April, according to people briefed on the radical leftist government’s thinking.

The government, which is rapidly running out of funds to pay public sector salaries and state pensions, has decided to withhold €2.5bn of payments due to the International Monetary Fund in May and June if no agreement is struck, they said.

So I hope that those that are euphoric about the performance of their stock portfolios are taking their profits while they still can.

Huge trouble is percolating just under the surface of the global economy, and it won’t be too long before the financial markets start feeling the pain.

Obama’s Secret Treaty Would Be The Most Important Step Toward A One World Economic System

Barack Obama behind Resolute Desk in the Oval Office - Public DomainBarack Obama is secretly negotiating the largest international trade agreement in history, and the mainstream media in the United States is almost completely ignoring it.  If this treaty is adopted, it will be the most important step toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen.  The name of this treaty is “the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and the text of the treaty is so closely guarded that not even members of Congress know what is in it.  Right now, there are 12 countries that are part of the negotiations: the United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.  These nations have a combined population of 792 million people and account for an astounding 40 percent of the global economy.  And it is hoped that the EU, China and India will eventually join as well.  This is potentially the most dangerous economic treaty of our lifetimes, and yet there is very little political debate about it in this country.

Even though Congress is not being allowed to see what is in the treaty, Barack Obama wants Congress to give him fast track negotiating authority.  What that means is that Congress would essentially trust Obama to negotiate a good treaty for us.  Congress could vote the treaty up or down, but would not be able to amend or filibuster it.

Of course now the Republicans control both houses of Congress.  If they are foolish enough to blindly give Barack Obama so much power, they should all immediately resign.

And it is critical that people understand that this is not just an economic treaty.  It is basically a gigantic end run around Congress.  Thanks to leaks, we have learned that so many of the things that Obama has deeply wanted for years are in this treaty.  If adopted, this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, healthcare, copyright and patent protection, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more.  This treaty includes many of the rules that alarmed Internet activists so much when SOPA was being debated, it would essentially ban all “Buy American” laws, it would give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and it would force even more domestic manufacturing offshore.

In other words, it is the treaty from hell.

In addition to imposing Obama’s vision for the world on 40 percent of the global population, it is also being described as a “Christmas wish-list for major corporations”.  Of the 29 chapters in the treaty, only five of them actually deal with economic issues.  The rest of the treaty deals with a whole host of other issues of great importance to the global elite.

The following list of issues addressed by this treaty is from a Malaysian news source

• domestic court decisions and international legal standards (e.g., overriding domestic laws on both trade and nontrade matters, foreign investors’ right to sue governments in international tribunals that would overrule the national sovereignty)

• environmental regulations (e.g., nuclear energy, pollution, sustainability)

• financial deregulation (e.g., more power and privileges to the bankers and financiers)

• food safety (e.g., lowering food self-sufficiency, prohibition of mandatory labeling of genetically modified products, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease)

• Government procurement (e.g., no more buy locally produced/grown)

• Internet freedom (e.g., monitoring and policing user activity)

• labour (e.g., welfare regulation, workplace safety, relocating domestic jobs abroad)

• patent protection, copyrights (e.g., decrease access to affordable medicine)

• public access to essential services may be restricted due to investment rules (e.g., water, electricity, and gas)

Why can’t we get this type of reporting in the United States?

And if this treaty is ultimately approved by Congress, we will essentially be stuck with it forever.

This treaty is written in such a way that the United States will be permanently bound by all of the provisions and will never be able to alter them unless all of the other countries agree.

Are you starting to understand why this treaty is so dangerous?

This treaty is the key to Obama’s “legacy”.  He wants to impose his will upon 40 percent of the global population in a way that will never be able to be overturned.

Of course Obama is touting this treaty as the path to economic recovery.  He promises that it will greatly increase global trade, decrease tariffs and create more jobs for American workers.

But instead, it would be a major step toward destroying what is left of the U.S. economy.

Over the past several decades, every time a major trade agreement has been signed we have seen even more good jobs leave the United States.

And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this is happening.  If corporations can move jobs to the other side of the planet to nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, they will make larger profits.

Just think about it.  If you were running a corporation and you had the choice of paying workers ten dollars an hour or one dollar an hour, which would you choose?

Plus there are so many other costs, taxes and paperwork hassles when you deal with American workers.  For example, big corporations will not have to provide Obamacare for their foreign workers.  That alone will represent a huge savings.

Any basic course in economics will teach you that labor flows from markets where labor costs are high to markets where labor costs are lower.  And at this point it costs less to make almost everything overseas.  As a result, we have already lost millions upon millions of good jobs, and countless small and mid-size U.S. companies have been forced to shut down because they cannot compete with foreign manufacturers.

Later this month, consumers will flock to retail stores for “Black Friday” deals.  But if you look carefully at those products, you will find that almost all of them are made overseas.  We buy far, far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and that is a recipe for national economic suicide.

We consume far more wealth that we produce, and anyone with half a brain can see that is not sustainable in the long run.  The only way that we have been able to maintain our high standard of living is by going into insane amounts of debt.  We are currently living in the largest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and at some point the party is going to end.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need to inform people about what Obama is trying to do.

If Obama is successful in ramming this secret treaty through, it is going to do incalculable damage to what is left of the once great U.S. economy.

National Economic Suicide: The U.S. Trade Deficit With China Just Hit A New Record High

Economics - Public DomainDid you know that we buy nearly five times as much stuff from the Chinese as they buy from us?  According to government numbers that were just released, we imported 44.9 billion dollars worth of stuff from China in September but we only exported 9.3 billion dollars worth of stuff to them.  And this is not happening because our economy is so much larger than China’s.  In fact, the IMF says that China now has the largest economy on the entire planet on a purchasing power basis.  No, the truth is that this is happening because our economy is broken.  Every month, we consume far more wealth than we produce.  Because the outflow of money is far greater than the inflow, we have to go to major exporting nations and beg them to lend our dollars back to us so that we can pay our bills.  Meanwhile, the quality of the jobs in this country continues to go down and our formerly great manufacturing cities are rotting and decaying.  We are committing national economic suicide, and most Americans don’t seem to care.

Barack Obama is constantly hyping a “manufacturing resurgence” in America, but the numbers don’t lie.  In September, our manufactured goods trade deficit with the rest of the world soared to a new all-time record high of 69.16 billion dollars.  For the year, we are nearly 12 percent ahead of last year’s record pace.

When we buy far more things than we sell, we get poorer as a nation.

How do you think that we ever got into a position of owing China more than a trillion dollars?

We just kept buying far more from them than they bought from us, and their money just kept piling up.  Now it has gotten to the point where our politicians literally beg them to lend our money back to us.  They are the head and we are the tail.

And we did this to ourselves.

Once upon a time, the United States was the greatest manufacturing powerhouse that the world had ever seen.  But now China manufactures more stuff than us and China also accounts for more total global trade (imports plus exports) than us.

This should never have happened.  Several decades ago, the Chinese economy was a complete joke.  But decades of incredibly foolish decisions by our politicians have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities, millions of good paying jobs and the destruction of vast stretches of our economic infrastructure.

During the same time frame, gleaming new manufacturing facilities have gone up all over China.

China is literally wiping the floor with us on the global economic stage and most Americans don’t even understand what is happening.  Here is more on the trade deficit numbers that were just released from the RealityChek Blog

>The China goods deficit of $35.56 billion blew past the old mark of $30.86 billion, set in July, by 15.23 percent. The new deficit also represented a 17.77 percent increase over the August level of $30.20 billion.

>U.S. goods exports to the still strongly growing Chinese economy fell on month in September from $9.63 billion to $9.33 billion (3.12 percent). U.S. merchandise imports from China jumped by 12.70 percent over August levels, from $39.83 billion to $44.89 billion – itself an all-time high.

>The U.S. goods deficit with China this year is now so far running 5.62 percent ahead of 2014’s record pace.

>The longstanding U.S. manufacturing trade shortfall shot up from $59.10 billion in August to $69.16 billion in September. This 17.02 percent jump resulted in a beat of the old record of $67.33 billion, also set in July, by 2.72 percent.

And it isn’t just cheap plastic trinkets that China is selling to us.

In fact, their number one export to us is computer equipment.

Meanwhile, one of our main exports to them is “scrap and trash”.

For much more on how China is absolutely dominating us, please see my previous article entitled “Not Just The Largest Economy – Here Are 26 Other Ways China Has Surpassed America“.

Sadly, there are a couple of factors that will probably make our trade deficit with the rest of the world even worse in the months ahead.

Number one, the currency war that I wrote about earlier this week will probably push the U.S. dollar even higher against the yen and the euro.

You might think that a rising dollar sounds good, but the truth is that it will make our exports less competitive in the global marketplace.

Nations such as Japan devalue their currencies so that they can sell more stuff to us.  But that hurts our own domestic industries.  And when our own domestic industries suffer, that means less jobs for American workers.

Secondly, the collapse in the price of oil could have very serious implications for the shale oil industry.

In recent years, the shale oil revolution has caused local economic booms in states such as Texas and North Dakota.  But shale oil tends to be quite expensive to extract.  As I write this, the price of U.S. oil has fallen to about 77 dollars a barrel.  If it stays at that level or keeps going down, shale oil production in the United States will slow down dramatically.

In other words, a lot of these shale oil “boom towns” could go “bust” very rapidly.

If that happens, the amount of oil that we import will rise substantially and that will add to our overall trade deficit.

But of course the biggest factor fueling our trade deficit is that the vast majority of Americans simply do not care that we are committing national economic suicide.

When we buy products made in America, we support American businesses and American workers.

When we buy products made overseas, we hurt American businesses, we kill American jobs and we make ourselves poorer as a nation.

Of course there is nothing wrong with buying a foreign-made product once in a while.  But this holiday season, most people will fill their shopping carts to the brim with foreign-made goods without even thinking twice about it.

The next time that you go into a huge retail establishment such as Wal-Mart, start picking up products and look to see where they were made.

I think that you will be shocked at how few of them are actually made inside the United States.

When are Americans going to get sick and tired of making China wealthier at our expense?

We are willing participants in the destruction of the U.S. economy, and yet only a small minority of people seem to care.

What is it going to take for people to finally wake up?

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