I was absolutely stunned to learn that the Baltic Dry Shipping Index had plummeted to a new all-time record low of 504 at one point on Thursday. I have written a number of articles lately about the dramatic slowdown in global trade, but I didn’t realize that things had gotten quite this bad already. Not even during the darkest moments of the last financial crisis did the Baltic Dry Shipping Index drop this low. Something doesn’t seem to be adding up, because the mainstream media keeps telling us that the global economy is doing just fine. In fact, the Federal Reserve is so confident in our “economic recovery” that they are getting ready to raise interest rates. Of course the truth is that there is no “economic recovery” on the horizon. In fact, as I wrote about yesterday, there are signs all around us that are indicating that we are heading directly into another major economic crisis. This staggering decline of the Baltic Dry Shipping Index is just another confirmation of what is directly ahead of us.
Overall, the Baltic Dry Index is down more than 60 percent over the past 12 months. Global demand for shipping is absolutely collapsing, and yet very few “experts” seem alarmed by this. If you are not familiar with the Baltic Dry Shipping Index, the following is a pretty good definition from Investopedia…
A shipping and trade index created by the London-based Baltic Exchange that measures changes in the cost to transport raw materials such as metals, grains and fossil fuels by sea. The Baltic Exchange directly contacts shipping brokers to assess price levels for a given route, product to transport and time to delivery (speed).
The Baltic Dry Index is a composite of three sub-indexes that measure different sizes of dry bulk carriers (merchant ships) – Capesize, Supramax and Panamax. Multiple geographic routes are evaluated for each index to give depth to the index’s composite measurement.
It is also known as the “Dry Bulk Index”.
Much of the decline of the Baltic Dry Shipping Index is being blamed on China. The following comes from a Bloomberg report that was posted on Thursday…
The cost of shipping commodities fell to a record, amid signs that Chinese demand growth for iron ore and coal is slowing, hurting the industry’s biggest source of cargoes.
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping rates for everything from coal to ore to grains, fell to 504 points on Thursday, the lowest data from the London-based Baltic Exchange going back to 1985. Among the causes of shipowners’ pain is slowing economic growth in China, which is translating into weakening demand for imported iron ore that’s used to make the steel.
So many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed back in 2008 are playing out once again in front of our very eyes. Below, I have shared a chart that was posted by Zero Hedge, and it shows how the Baltic Dry Shipping Index absolutely collapsed in 2008 as we headed into a major financial crisis. Well, now the Index is collapsing again, and it is already lower than it was at any point back in 2008…
The evidence continues to mount that we are steamrolling toward a deflationary economic slowdown that is worldwide in scope.
Just look at the price of U.S. oil. It just keeps on falling, and as I write this article it is sitting at $40.40.
The price of oil collapsed just before the financial crisis of 2008, and the same pattern is happening again.
And look at what is happening to commodities. The Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB Commodity Index has plummeted to the lowest level that we have seen since the last recession. It is now down more than 30 percent over the past 12 months, and it continues to fall.
So don’t be fooled by the temporary “stock market recovery” that we have witnessed. The underlying economic fundamentals continue to decline. We are entering a global deflationary recession, and the stock market will get the memo at some point just like we saw in 2008.
At this moment, global financial markets are teetering on the brink, and all it is going to take is some kind of major trigger event to send them tumbling over the edge.
And such an event may be coming sooner than you may think.
It wouldn’t take much to push the financial world into full-blown panic mode. A major regional war in the Middle East, a terror attack that kills thousands, or an earthquake or volcanic eruption that affects a large U.S. city are all potential examples of “black swan events” which could fit the bill.
The global financial system has never been more primed for another 2008-style crisis. Thanks to the fragility of the system, it could literally happen any day now.
So keep your eyes open – within weeks our world could be completely and totally different.
If you have been watching for the next major global economic downturn, you can now stop waiting, because it has officially arrived. Never before in history has global trade collapsed this dramatically outside of a major worldwide recession. And this makes perfect sense – when global economic activity is increasing there is more demand for goods and services around the world, and when global economic activity is decreasing there is less demand for goods and services around the world. So far this year, global trade is down about 8.4 percent, and over the past 30 days the Baltic Dry Index has been absolutely plummeting. A month ago it was sitting at a reading of 809, but now it has fallen all the way to 628. However, it is when you look at the trade numbers for specific countries that the numbers become particularly startling.
Just within the last few days, new trade numbers have come out of China. China accounts for approximately one-fifth of all global factory exports, and for many years Chinese export growth has helped fuel the overall global economy.
But now Chinese exports are falling. In October, Chinese exports were down 6.9 percent compared to a year ago. That follows a decline of 3.7 percent in September.
The numbers for Chinese imports are even worse. Chinese imports in October were down 18.8 percent compared to a year ago after falling 20.4 percent in September. China’s growing middle class was supposed to help lead a global economic recovery, but that simply is not happening.
The following chart from Zero Hedge shows just how dramatic these latest numbers are compared to what we are accustomed to witnessing. As you can see, the only time Chinese trade numbers have been this bad for this long was during the major global recession of 2008 and 2009…
Other numbers confirm the magnitude of the economic slowdown in China. I have mentioned the ongoing plunge of the China Containerized Freight Index previously, but now it has just hit a brand new record low…
The weakness in China’s economy and its exports to the rest of the world are showing up in the weekly China Containerized Freight Index (CCFI): On Friday, it dropped to the worst level ever.
The index, operated by the Shanghai Shipping Exchange, tracks how much it costs, based on contractual and spot-market rates, to ship containers from China to 14 major destinations around the world. Unlike a lot of official data from China, the index is an unvarnished reflection of a relentless reality.
It has been cascading lower since February and has since dropped 31%. At 742 currently, it’s down 26% from its inception in 1998 when it was set at 1,000.
–Demand for Chinese steel is down 8.9 percent compared to a year ago.
–China’s rail freight volume is down 10.1 percent compared to last year.
–In October, South Korean exports were down 15.8 percent from a year ago.
–According to the Dutch government index, a year ago global trade in primary commodities was sitting at a reading of 150 but now it has fallen all the way down to 114. What this means is that less commodities are being traded around the world, and that is a very clear sign that global economic activity is really slowing down.
Additionally, German export orders were down about 18 percent in September, and U.S. exports are down about 10 percent for the year so far.
Clearly something very big is happening, and it is affecting the entire planet. The CEO of the largest shipping company in the world believes that the explanation for what is taking place is fairly simple…
In fact, according to Maersk CEO, Nils Smedegaard Andersen, the reason why companies that are reliant on global trade, such as his, are flailing is simple: global growth is substantially worse than the official numbers and forecasts. To wit: “The world’s economy is growing at a slower pace than the International Monetary Fund and other large forecasters are predicting.”
Quoted by Bloomberg, Andersen says that “we believe that global growth is slowing down,” he said in a phone interview. “Trade is currently significantly weaker than it normally would be under the growth forecasts we see.“
Global financial markets can run, but they can’t hide from these horrifying trade numbers forever.
One of the big things that is contributing to this new global economic slowdown is the unwinding of the U.S. dollar carry trade. A recent piece from Phoenix Capital Research explained the U.S. dollar carry trade pretty well…
When the Fed cut interest rates to zero in 2008, it flooded the system with US Dollars. The US Dollar is the reserve currency of the world. NO matter what country you’re in (with few exceptions) you can borrow in US Dollars.
And if you can borrow in US Dollars at 0.25%… and put that money into anything yielding more… you could make a killing.
A hedge fund in Hong Kong could borrow $100 million, pay just $250,000 in interest and plow that money into Brazilian Reals which yielded 11%… locking in a $9.75 million return.
This was the strictly financial side of things. On the economics side, Governments both sovereign and local borrowed in US Dollars around the globe to fund various infrastructure and municipal projects.
Simply put, the US Government was practically giving money away and the world took notice, borrowing Dollars at a record pace. Today, the global carry trade (meaning money borrowed in US Dollars and invested in other assets) stands at over $9 TRILLION (larger than the economy of France and Brazil combined).
But now the U.S. dollar carry trade is starting to unwind because the U.S. dollar has been doing very well lately. As the U.S. dollar has surged against other global currencies in 2015, this has put a tremendous amount of stress on emerging markets around the world. All of a sudden oil, other commodities and stock markets in nations such as Brazil began to crash. Meanwhile, those that had taken out loans denominated in U.S. dollars were finding that it was taking far more of their own local currencies to service and repay those loans. This financial crunch in emerging markets is going to take years to fully play out, and it is going to take a tremendous toll on global markets.
When the global economy is doing well, the amount of stuff that is imported and exported around the world goes up, and when the global economy is in recession, the amount of stuff that is imported and exported around the world goes down. It is just basic economics. Governments around the world have become very adept at manipulating other measures of economic activity such as GDP, but the trade numbers are more difficult to fudge. Today, China accounts for more global trade than anyone else on the entire planet, and we have just learned that Chinese exports and Chinese imports are both collapsing right now. But this is just part of a larger trend. As I discussed the other day, British banking giant HSBC has reported that total global trade is down 8.4 percent so far in 2015, and global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars is down 3.4 percent. The only other times global trade has plummeted this much has been during other global recessions, and it appears that this new downturn is only just beginning.
For many years, China has been leading the revolution in global trade. But now we are witnessing something that is almost unprecedented. Chinese exports are falling, and Chinese imports are absolutely imploding…
Growth of exports from China has been dropping relentlessly, for years. Now this “growth” has actually turned negative. In September, exports were down 3.7% from a year earlier, the “inevitable fallout from China’s unsustainable and poorly executed credit splurge,” as Thomson Reuters’ Alpha Now puts it. Most of these exports are manufactured goods that are shipped by container to the rest of the world.
And imports into China – a mix of bulk and containerized freight – have been plunging: down 20.4% in September from a year earlier, after at a 13.8% drop in August.
This week it was announced that Chinese GDP growth had fallen to the lowest level since the last recession, and that makes sense. Global economic activity is really slowing down, and this is deeply affecting China.
So what about the United States?
Well, based on the amount of stuff that is being shipped around in our country it appears that our economy is really slowing down too. The following comes from Wolf Richter, and I shared some of it in a previous article, but I think that it bears repeating…
September is in the early phase of the make-or-break holiday shipping season. Shipments usually increase from August to September. They did this year too. The number of shipments in September inched up 1.7% from August, according to the Cass Freight Index.
But the index was down 1.5% from an already lousy September last year, when shipments had fallen from the prior month, instead of rising. And so, in terms of the number of shipments, it was the worst September since 2010.
It has been crummy all year: With the exception of January and February, the shipping volume has been lower year-over-year every month!
The index is broad. It tracks data from shippers, no matter what carrier they choose, whether truck, rail, or air, and includes carriers like FedEx and UPS.
What major retailers such as Wal-Mart are reporting also confirms that we are in a major economic slowdown. Wal-Mart recently announced that its earnings would fall by as much as 12 percent during the next fiscal year, and that caused Wal-Mart stock to drop by the most in 27 years.
And of course this is going to have a huge ripple effect. There are thousands of other companies that do business with Wal-Mart, and Reuters is reporting that they are starting to get squeezed…
Suppliers of everything from groceries to sports equipment are already being squeezed for price cuts and cost sharing by Wal-Mart Stores. Now they are bracing for the pressure to ratchet up even more after a shock earnings warning from the retailer last week.
The discount store behemoth has always had a reputation for demanding lower prices from vendors but Reuters has learned from interviews with suppliers and consultants, as well as reviewing some contracts, that even by its standards Wal-Mart has been turning up the heat on them this year.
“The ground is shaking here,” said Cameron Smith, head of Cameron Smith & Associates, a major recruiting firm for suppliers located close to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. “Suppliers are going to have to help Wal-Mart get back on track.”
Similar things are going on at some of the other biggest companies in America as well.
For instance, things have gotten so bad for McDonald’s that one franchise owner recently stated that the restaurant chain is “facing its final days”…
“McDonald’s announced in April that it would be closing 700 ‘underperforming’ locations, but because of the company’s sheer size — it has 14,300 locations in the United States alone — this was not necessarily a reduction in the size of the company, especially because it continues to open locations around the world. It still has more than double the locations of Burger King, its closest competitor.”
However, for the franchisees, the picture looks much worse than simply 700 stores closing down.
“We are in the throes of a deep depression, and nothing is changing,” a franchise owner wrote in response to a financial survey by Nomura Group. “Probably 30% of operators are insolvent.” One owner went as far as to speculate that McDonald’s is literally “facing its final days.”
Why would things be so bad at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s if the economy was “recovering”?
Come on now – let’s use some common sense here.
All of the numbers are screaming at us that we have entered a major economic downturn and that it is accelerating.
CNBC is reporting that the number of job openings in the U.S. is falling and that the number of layoffs is rising…
Job openings fell 5.3 percent in August, while a 2.6 percent rise in layoffs and discharges offset a 0.3 percent gain in hires. Finally, the amount of quits — or what Convergex calls its “take this job and shove it” indicator because it shows the percentage of workers who left positions voluntarily — fell to 56.6 percent from 57.1 percent, indicating less confidence in mobility.
And as I discussed the other day, Challenger Gray is reporting that we are seeing layoffs at major firms at a level that we have not witnessed since 2009.
We already have 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now. As this emerging worldwide recession deepens, a lot more Americans are going to lose their jobs. That is going to cause the poverty and suffering in this country to spike even more, if you can imagine that.
Just consider what authorities discovered on the streets of Philadelphia just this week…
Support is flooding in for a homeless Philadelphia family whose two-year-old son was found wandering alone in a park in the middle of the night.
Angelique Roland, 27, and Michael Jones, 24, were sleeping with their children behind cardboard boxes underneath the Fairmount Park Welcome Center in Love Park when the toddler slipped away.
The boy was found just before midnight and handed over to a nearby Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority police officer, who took him to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
He was wearing a green, long sleeve shirt, black running pants and had a diaper on, but did not have shoes or socks.
Could you imagine sleeping on the streets and not even being able to provide your two-year-old child with shoes and socks?
These numbers that I write about every day are not a game. They affect all of us on a very personal level.
Just like in 2008 and 2009, millions of Americans that are living a very comfortable middle class lifestyle today will soon lose their jobs and will end up out in the streets.
In fact, there will be people that will read this article that this will happen to.
So no, none of us should be excited that the global economy is collapsing. There is already so much pain all around us, and what is to come is beyond what most of us would even dare to imagine.
The biggest bank in the western world has just come out and declared that the global economy is “already in a recession”. According to British banking giant HSBC, global trade is down 8.4 percent so far this year, and global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars is down 3.4 percent. So those that are waiting for the next worldwide economic recession to begin can stop waiting. It is officially here. As you will see below, money is fleeing emerging markets at a blistering pace, major global banks are stuck with huge loans that will never be repaid, and it looks like a very significant worldwide credit crunch has begun. Just a few days ago, I explained that the IMF, the UN, the BIS And Citibank were all warning that a major economic crisis could be imminent. They aren’t just making this stuff up out of thin air, but most Americans still seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. The level of blind faith in the system that most people are demonstrating right now is absolutely astounding.
The numbers say that the global economy has not been in this bad shape since the devastating recession that shook the world in 2008 and 2009. According to HSBC, “we are already in a dollar recession”…
Global trade is also declining at an alarming pace. According to the latest data available in June the year on year change is -8.4%. To find periods of equivalent declines we only really find recessionary periods. This is an interesting point. On one metric we are already in a recession. As can be seen in Chart 3 on the following page, global GDP expressed in US dollars is already negative to the tune of USD 1,37trn or -3.4%. That is, we are already in a dollar recession.
Here is the chart that Zero Hedge posted along with the quote above. As you can see, the only time global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars has fallen faster in recent years was during the horrible recession of seven years ago…
But there are still a whole lot of incredibly clueless people running around out there claiming that “nothing is happening” even though more signs of trouble are erupting all around us every single day.
Now act three is beginning, but in countries much less able to devise measures to stop financial contagion and whose banks are more precarious. For global finance next flooded the so-called emerging market economies (EMEs), countries such as Turkey, Brazil, Malaysia, China, all riding high on sky-high commodity prices as the China boom, itself fuelled by wild lending, seemed never-ending. China manufactured more cement from 2010-13 than the US had produced over the entire 20th century. It could not last and so it is proving.
China’s banks are, in effect, bust: few of the vast loans they have made can ever be repaid, so they cannot now lend at the rate needed to sustain China’s once super-high but illusory growth rates. China’s real growth is now below that of the Mao years: the economic crisis will spawn a crisis of legitimacy for the deeply corrupt communist party. Commodity prices have crashed.
Money is flooding out of the EMEs, leaving overborrowed companies, indebted households and stricken banks, but EMEs do not have institutions such as the Federal Reserve or European Central Bank to knock up rescue packages. Yet these nations now account for more than half of global GDP. Small wonder the IMF is worried.
It is one thing for The Economic Collapse Blog to warn that “the world economic order is collapsing”, but this is one of the biggest newspapers in the UK.
Emerging markets aren’t just suffering through another market rout—it’s a third wave of the global financial crisis, Goldman Sachs said.
“Increased uncertainty about the fallout from weaker emerging market economies, lower commodity prices and potentially higher U.S. interest rates are raising fresh concerns about the sustainability of asset price rises, marking a new wave in the Global Financial Crisis,” Goldman said in a note dated last week.
The emerging market wave, coinciding with the collapse in commodity prices, follows the U.S. stage, which marked the fallout from the housing crash, and the European stage, when the U.S. crisis spread to the continent’s sovereign debt, the bank said.
You know that it is late in the game when Goldman Sachs starts sounding exactly like The Economic Collapse Blog. I have been warning about a “series of waves” for years.
When will people wake up?
What is it going to take?
The crisis is happening right now.
Of course many Americans will refuse to acknowledge what is going on until the Dow Jones Industrial Average collapses by several thousand more points. And that is coming. But let us all hope that day is delayed for as long as possible, because all of our lives will become much crazier once that happens.
And the truth is that many Americans do understand that bad times are on the horizon. Just check out the following numbers that were recently reported by CNBC…
The CNBC All-America Economic Survey finds views on the current state of the economy about stable, with 23 percent saying it is good or excellent and 42 percent judging it as fair. About a third say the economy is poor, up 3 points from the June survey.
But the percentage of Americans who believe the economy will get worse rose 6 points to 32 percent, the highest level since the government shutdown in 2013. And just 22 percent believe the economy will get better, 2 points lower than June and the lowest level since 2008, when the nation was gripped by recession.
If you want to believe that everything is going to be just fine somehow, then go ahead and believe that.
All I can do is present the facts. For months I have been warning about this financial crisis, and now it is playing out as a slow-motion train wreck right in front of our eyes.
We are moving into a period of time during which events are going to start to move much more rapidly, and life as we know it is about to change in a major way for all of us.
Hopefully you have already been preparing for what is about to come.
Russian 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.
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…
Most 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…
If 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…
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.
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…
Barack 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.
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?
Did 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 bankruptcompanynews.com.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.