The Beginning Of The End
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The Worst Time Of The Year?

For a lot of Americans, this is the worst time of the year.  If you don’t have any money, it can be really hard to hear others go on and on about how good “Santa Claus” was to them this year.  For many, there is simply not much to be cheerful about as the year ends.  There are millions of people in this country that do not have a “happy family” to spend the holidays with, there are millions of people in this country that do not have any money to spend on gifts, and there are millions of people that are either already sleeping in the streets or that are in imminent danger of losing their homes.  It can be really difficult to feel “holiday cheer” when you are freezing cold and you don’t have any food in your stomach.  The realization that you are not going to enjoy any of the good things that other people get to enjoy this time of the year is enough to push many people over the edge.  Yes, for most of the country this time of the year is filled with food, family and fun but for millions of others this time of the year tends to magnify despair, depression and thoughts of suicide.  If you are blessed as we get ready to enter 2012, please remember those out there that are really hurting.  If someone does not help them, they might not make it to 2013.

In our society today, the “holiday season” is held up as the ultimate time of the year.  Often expectations are so high that they are almost impossible to fulfill.  The truth is that materialism is never going to bring anyone true fulfillment, and once Christmas is over many Americans are left with a very hollow feeling.

But all of the “Christmas hype” on television and in the movies can make it seem like this is a “magical” time of the year for most people.  For those that are in a tremendous amount of emotional pain, the holidays can be excruciating because they can feel as though they are “missing out” on all the fun and happiness that everyone else is experiencing.  That is why for many Americans that are “on the edge”, this can be the absolute worst time of the year.

When people go “over the edge”, the consequences can be devastating.

For example, have you noticed how there always seems to be a rash of murder-suicides at this time of the year?

One murder-suicide that made national headlines happened down in Texas.  It turns out that the killer actually dressed up as Santa Claus.  The following description of this stunning incident comes from an article posted on USA Today….

Police said the man they believe is responsible for a Christmas Day shooting that left him and six members of his extended family dead was dressed as Santa Claus.

Grapevine police spokesman Sgt. Robert Eberling said Monday the shooter “showed up shortly before the incident took place” in the Santa outfit and was a member of the family opening gifts in the apartment.

Could you imagine being killed by a family member dressed as Santa Claus?

But sometimes people do not snap in a family setting.  For some, it is the work environment that sets them off.  Just consider the following example from a recent article in the Washington Post….

A Southern California Edison employee chatted calmly with co-workers in the moments between gunning down four managers during a rampage at an office complex, authorities said as the building reopened Tuesday.

Investigators still were trying to determine what pushed gunman Andre Turner to finish a normal workday by shooting the workers with a semiautomatic handgun before turning it on himself.

We have also seen shocking murder-suicides reported in recent days in Illinois, in California, in Colorado and in Arizona.

Every year we also see reports of Christmas presents being stolen right out from under the tree.  The following comes from an article in the Los Angeles Times….

A Northern California family victimized in a burglary a few days before Christmas is hoping to at least get their dog back.

The Lancers lost all of the presents under the tree along with their dog when their home in Morgan Hill, southeast of San Jose, was broken into last week, authorities said Sunday.

There are a lot of people out there that do not have any hesitation about stealing from others.  Desperate people do desperate things, and right now the number of desperate people in America is growing.

Tonight, there are millions upon millions of Americans that cannot find work and that are incredibly stressed.  The truth is that there are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.  If the number of Americans considered to be “looking for work” was the same today as it was back in 2007, the “official” unemployment rate would be up to 11 percent.

But the Obama administration does not want to report such a depressing number.

8.6 percent just sounds so much more pleasant.

For even more crazy economic numbers that show just how bad the U.S. economy really was in 2011, just check out this article.

But of course our leaders are enjoying a good, long break from all of the “hard work” that they have put in toward fixing the economy.

Nancy Pelosi has jetted off to Hawaii and is spending her holidays in a suite that rents for $10,000 a night.

Barack Obama and his family are in Hawaii as well.  It has been estimated that their Hawaiian vacation will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million dollars.

It is shameful that our “leaders” are enjoying such luxury at a time when so many millions of Americans are barely surviving.

One of the reasons why my site has struck such a nerve is because the pain that millions of Americans are going through right now is very real.

For example, the following is a comment that a reader identified as “Ricci” left on one of my recent articles….

I sleep in my car. I have nowhere else to go. It gets really cold and hurts my bones. I would love love love to go back to work but I was hospitalized 12 times in two years. I wouldn’t be able to keep a job because of my health i’m not dependable. THESE are the people who are homeless. It’s also a LOT of veterans that are homeless. But I sleep in my car. Often on family property and I’m still stalked and harassed by police and I’m sick of it.

In another comment, Ricci shared even more of her story….

Wow….do you really think that? I am a licensed social worker for 10 years. In 2005 I lost a son & daughter 3 hours after they were born. For 3 years I suffered in pain, still working my ass off, but found I was very ill. After chemo, immuno-suppressants, and a myriad of other medications I could not afford, I went bankrupt and lost my house. By this time, I was awarded disability on the first try w/o an attorney. I wasn’t expected to live. But here I am. I can barely move somedays I hurt so much. I don’t have family willing to take me in. I look fine on the outside you know. If I would just have more faith or exercise more or eat the right foods I would be cured. Whatever. I often worked 50 to 60 hours a week to protect kids from real problems (not taken away for poverty as people say……so sick of the myths about social services). Anyway, before that I worked mental health, and worked in the school district. I have busted my ass to care for other people. My husband left, children died, and when my health failed I lost everything and fell through the cracks. It’s people like me who are homeless…I do not drink. I do not use drugs. I can barely get the medications I need even w/ supplemental insurance. I get stalked and harassed by police if I so much as get tired and pull over so I don’t wreck. I was on my dad’s property in my car 3 times in two months I was approached by police…one time there were 4 cops that came to my car……on our family’s private property. My car has totally been profiled. I’m so sick of it. At this point, I would be better off dead.

So what do you say to someone like Ricci?

I have never slept in my car.  I have never lost a son or daughter.  I have never lost a house.  I have never been homeless.

How can I identify with someone who has gone through all of that?

But we do need to tell people like Ricci not to ever give up.   The vast majority of us have been at very low points in our own lives, and the secret is to keep on fighting and to never, ever give up.  No matter how bad things get, they can always be turned around if you will just have faith.

We should remember to pray for people like Ricci and the millions of other Americans that are going through similar trials.  We should also look for ways to help people that are really hurting in our own communities.

Yes, we cannot possibly rescue everyone is hurting.  But what we can do is love the one that is in front of us.

Unfortunately, our economic problems are only going to get worse.  America is in the middle of a long-term decline that is rapidly accelerating.  That means that there are going to be lots more people that are going to lose their jobs and their homes.

So let us do what we can to focus on real world solutions and to focus on preparing for the hard times that are coming.

We waste so much time on unnecessary things.  For example, did you know that there are over 695,000 status updates on Facebook every single minute?

Every 60 seconds.

Amazing.

As bad as 2011 was, it looks like 2012 is going to be significantly worse.  It won’t be the end of the world of course, but huge challenges are ahead.  Now is the time to get our priorities in order and to start focusing on the things that really matter.

A Very Scary Christmas And An Incredibly Frightening New Year

Can you hear that?  It almost sounds like a little bit of peace and quiet.  This year, the holiday season has been fairly uneventful, and for that we should be very grateful.  But it isn’t going to last long.  2012 is going to be a much more difficult year for the U.S. economy and the global financial system than 2011 has been.  So if things are going well for you right now, enjoy this little bubble of peace and tranquility while you can.  Because while things may look calm on the surface right now, the truth is that this is a very scary Christmas for financial professionals and world leaders.  Most of them know how fragile the global financial system is at the moment.  Most of them know that we are living in the greatest bubble of debt, leverage and financial risk that the world has ever seen.  As I wrote about the other day, world leaders would not be throwing huge bailouts around like crazy if everything was going to be just fine.  The truth is that we are rapidly approaching another financial crisis that may end up being even worse than the horrific crash of 2008.

Despite unprecedented efforts by the European Central Bank, the yield on 10 year Italian bonds is nearly up to 7 percent again.

Keep an eye on the yield on 10 year Italian bonds.  That is going to be one of the most important financial numbers in the world in the coming months.

But Italy is not the only problem.  The reality is that several European governments are teetering on the verge of default right now.  Meanwhile, confidence in the European financial system has been absolutely shattered and a devastating credit crunch has set in.  Nobody (other than the ECB) wants to loan money to the banks and the banks are massively cutting back on loans to businesses and consumers.  This is causing the money supply to fall.  The ECB is trying to hold things together with chicken wire and duct tape, but it isn’t going to work.

In major financial centers such as the City of London, this is a very scary Christmas and the outlook for the new year looks very frightening.  Because financial activity has dried up so dramatically, a number of firms are already shutting down.  The following comes from a recent Bloomberg article….

London’s stockbrokers are shrinking as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis and competition from international firms squeezes revenue and fees.

“This isn’t just a blip, this is much worse,” said Tim Linacre, who is stepping down as chief executive officer of Panmure (PMR) Gordon & Co., a 135-year-old brokerage. “It’s a desert for activity, which is why you are seeing some firms throw in the towel.”

In the past month, Altium Capital closed its securities unit. Evolution Group Plc (EVG), Merchant Securities Group Plc, Arbuthnot Securities Ltd. and Collins Stewart Hawkpoint Plc have all accepted takeover offers from larger competitors.

“It feels worse than any other time,” said Lorna Tilbian, an executive director at Numis Corp. who began her career in 1984. “All I hear about is people putting up a white flag.”

Many out there are wondering if we are about to face another crisis like the one we saw back in 2008.

Unfortunately, none of the underlying problems that caused that crisis were ever really fixed.

We did not learn from history so now we are in for another round of pain.

In fact, Chris Martenson believes that this next crisis will be even worse than 2008….

There are clear signs of a liquidity crunch in the asset markets right now, and the question I keep hearing is, Is this 2008 all over again?

No, it’s worse. Much worse.

In 2008 there was a lot more faith and optimism upon which to draw. But both have been squandered to significant degrees by feckless regulators and authorities who failed to properly address any of the root causes of the first crisis even as they slathered layer after layer of thin-air money over many of the symptoms.

Anyone who has paid attention knows that those “magic potions” proved to be anything but. Not only are the root causes still with us (too much debt, vast regional financial imbalances, and high energy prices), but they have actually grown worse the entire time.

Frightening stuff.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the coming derivatives crisis that could potentially wipe out the entire global financial system.

When the next great financial crisis strikes, there is going to be a lot of focus on derivatives once again.

Top global financial authorities such as Ben Bernanke continue to insist that derivatives are perfectly safe.

But there are other voices in the financial world that are warning that we are heading for financial armageddon.  For example,just check out what Mark Faber is saying….

“I am convinced the whole derivatives market will cease to exit. Will become zero. And when it happens I don’t know: you can postpone the problems with monetary measures for a long time but you can’t solve them… Greece should have defaulted – it would have sent a message that not all derivatives are equal because it depends on the counterparty.”

That is very strong language.

Faber also believes that the stock market is going to get hit really, really hard during the coming crisis….

“I am ultra bearish. I think most people will be lucky if they still have 50% of their money in 5 years time. You have to have diversification – some real estate in the countryside, some gold and some equities because if you think it through, say Germany 1900 to today, we had WWI, we had hyperinflation, WWII, cash holders and bondholders they lost everything 3 times, but if you owned equities you’d be ok. In equities in general you will not lose it all, it may not be a good investment, unless you put it all in one company and it goes bankrupt.”

Some of the top financial officials in the entire world have also used some very scary language in recent weeks.

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christian Lagarde, recently stated that we could soon see conditions “reminiscent of the 1930s depression” and that no country on earth “will be immune to the crisis”….

“There is no economy in the world, whether low-income countries, emerging markets, middle-income countries or super-advanced economies that will be immune to the crisis that we see not only unfolding but escalating”

But most people are so busy opening up the cheap plastic presents under their Christmas trees (that were mostly made overseas) that they aren’t even paying attention to these warnings.

Look, when the money supply falls significantly it is almost impossible to avoid a recession.  Just look at the historical numbers.

Unfortunately, money supply numbers all over Europe are falling dramatically right now as an article in the Telegraph recently noted….

All key measures of the money supply in the eurozone contracted in October with drastic falls across parts of southern Europe, raising the risk of severe recession over coming months.

Confidence in the banking system in Europe has never been this low in the post-World War II era.  Sadly, most people simply do not understand how bad things have gotten for major European banks.  One Australian news source recently put it this way….

“If anyone thinks things are getting better, they simply don’t understand how severe the problems are,” a London executive at a global bank said. “A major bank could fail within weeks.”

Others said many continental banks, including French, Italian and Spanish lenders, were close to running out of the acceptable forms of collateral, such as US Treasury bonds, that could be used to finance short-term loans.

Some have been forced to lend out their gold reserves to maintain access to US dollar funding.

The outlook is very ominous.

Financial professionals all over the globe are telling us what is coming if we are willing to listen.

The following comes from a report recently produced by Credit Suisse’s Fixed Income Research unit….

“We seem to have entered the last days of the euro as we currently know it. That doesn’t make a break-up very likely, but it does mean some extraordinary things will almost certainly need to happen – probably by mid-January – to prevent the progressive closure of all the euro zone sovereign bond markets, potentially accompanied by escalating runs on even the strongest banks.”

The first six months of 2012 are going to be a very key time.  National governments and big European banks are scheduled to roll over huge mountains of debt.  But if they can’t find any takers that could bring the global financial system to a moment of great crisis very quickly.

The following is how former hedge fund manager Bruce Krasting recently described the problem that Italy is facing….

At this point there is zero possibility that Italy can refinance any portion of its $300b of 2012 maturing debt. If there is anyone at the table who still thinks that Italy can pull off a miracle, they are wrong. I’m certain that the finance guys at the ECB and Italian CB understand this. I repeat, there is a zero chance for a market solution for Italy.

But even if we don’t see a formal default by a major European nation such a Italy, that doesn’t mean that major European banks are going to make it through the crippling recession that has now begun in Europe.

Charles Wyplosz, a professor of international economics at Geneva’s Graduate Institute, is absolutely convinced that we are going to see some major European banks collapse….

“Banks will collapse, including possibly a number of French banks that are very exposed to Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain.”

Authorities in Europe are saying the “right things” publicly, but privately they are preparing for the worst.

As the Telegraph recently reported, the British government is now making plans based on the assumption that a collapse of the euro is only “just a matter of time”….

A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time.

Yes, we are heading for a huge financial collapse and massive economic trouble.

So enjoy the good times while we still have them.

They are not going to last too much longer.

22 Reasons Why We Could See An Economic Collapse In Europe In 2012

Will 2012 be the year that we see an economic collapse in Europe?  Before you dismiss the title of this article as “alarmist”, read the facts listed in the rest of this article first.  Over the past several months, there has been an astonishing loss of confidence in the European financial system.  Right now, virtually nobody wants to loan money to financially troubled nations in the EU and virtually nobody wants to lend money to major European banks.  Remember, one of the primary reasons for the financial crisis of 2008 was a major credit crunch that happened here in the United States.  This burgeoning credit crunch in Europe is just one element of a “perfect storm” that is rapidly coming together as we get ready to go into 2012.  The signs of trouble are everywhere.  All over Europe, governments are implementing austerity measures and dramatically cutting back on spending.  European banks are substantially cutting back on lending as they seek to meet new capital requirements that are being imposed upon them.  Meanwhile, bond yields are going through the roof all over Europe as investors lose confidence and demand much higher returns for investing in European debt.  It has become clear that without a miracle happening, quite a few European nations and a significant number of European banks are not going to be able to get the funding that they need from the market in 2012.  The only thing that is going to avert a complete and total financial meltdown in Europe is dramatic action, but right now European leaders are so busy squabbling with each other that a bold plan seems out of the question.

The following are 22 reasons why we could see an economic collapse in Europe in 2012….

#1 Germany could rescue the rest of Europe, but that would take an unprecedented financial commitment, and the German people do not have the stomach for that.  It has been estimated that it would cost Germany 7 percent of GDP over several years in order to sufficiently bail out the other financially troubled EU nations.  Such an amount would far surpass the incredibly oppressive reparations that Germany was forced to pay out in the aftermath of World War I.

A host of recent surveys has shown that the German people are steadfastly against bailing out the rest of Europe.  For example, according to one recent poll 57 percent of the German people are against the creation of eurobonds.

At this point, German politicians are firmly opposed to any measure that would place an inordinate burden on German taxpayers, so unless this changes that means that Europe is not going to be saved from within.

#2 The United States could rescue Europe, but the Obama administration knows that it would be really tough to sell that to the American people during an election season.  The following is what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today about the potential for a bailout of Europe by the United States….

“This is something they need to solve and they have the capacity to solve, both financial capacity and political will”

Carney also said that the Obama administration does not plan to commit any “additional resources” to rescuing Europe….

“We do not in any way believe that additional resources are required from the United States and from American taxpayers.”

#3 Right now, banks all over Europe are in deleveraging mode as they attempt to meet new capital-adequacy requirements by next June.

According to renowned financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, European banks need to reduce the amount of lending on their books by about 7 trillion dollars in order to get down to safe levels….

Europe’s banks face a $7 trillion lending contraction to bring their balance sheets in line with the US and Japan, threatening to trap the region in a credit crunch and chronic depression for a decade.

So what does that mean?

It means that European banks are going to be getting really, really stingy with loans.

That means that it is going to become really hard to buy a home or expand a business in Europe, and that means that the economy of Europe is going to slow down substantially.

#4 European banks are overloaded with “toxic assets” that they are desperate to get rid of.  Just like we saw with U.S. banks back in 2008, major European banks are busy trying to unload mountains of worthless assets that have a book value of trillions of euros, but virtually nobody wants to buy them.

#5 Government austerity programs are now being implemented all over Europe.  But government austerity programs can have very negative economic effects.  For example, we have already seen what government austerity has done to Greece. 100,000 businesses have closed and a third of the population is now living in poverty.

But now governments all over Europe have decided that austerity is the way to go.  The following comes from a recent article in the Economist….

France’s budget plans are close to being agreed on; further cuts are likely but will be delayed until after the elections in spring. Italy has yet to vote through a much-revised package of cuts. Spain’s incoming government has promised further spending cuts, especially in regional outlays, in order to meet deficit targets agreed with Brussels.

#6 The amount of debt owed by some of these European nations is so large that it is difficult to comprehend.  For example, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain owe the rest of the world about 3 trillion euros combined.

So what will massive government austerity do to troubled nations such as Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy?  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is very concerned about what even more joblessness will mean for many of those countries….

Even today, the jobless rate for youth is near 10pc in Japan. It is already 46pc in Spain, 43pc in Greece, 32pc in Ireland, and 27pc in Italy. We will discover over time what yet more debt deleveraging will do to these societies.

#7 Europe was able to bail out Greece and Ireland, but there is no way that Italy will be able to be rescued if they require a full-blown bailout.

Unfortunately, Italy is in the midst of a massive financial meltdown as you read this.  The yield on two year Italian bonds is now about double what it was for most of the summer.  There is no way that is sustainable.

It would be hard to overstate how much of a crisis Italy represents.  The following is how former hedge fund manager Bruce Krasting recently described the current situation….

At this point there is zero possibility that Italy can refinance any portion of its $300b of 2012 maturing debt. If there is anyone at the table who still thinks that Italy can pull off a miracle, they are wrong. I’m certain that the finance guys at the ECB and Italian CB understand this. I repeat, there is a zero chance for a market solution for Italy.

Krasting believes that either Italy gets a gigantic mountain of cash from somewhere or they will default within six months and that will mean the start of a global depression….

I think the Italian story is make or break. Either this gets fixed or Italy defaults in less than six months. The default option is not really an option that policy makers would consider. If Italy can’t make it, then there will be a very big crashing sound. It would end up taking out most of the global lenders, a fair number of countries would follow into Italy’s vortex. In my opinion a default by Italy is certain to bring a global depression; one that would take many years to crawl out of.

#8 An Italian default may be closer than most people think.  As the Telegraph recently reported, just to refinance existing debt, the Italian government must sell more than 30 billion euros worth of new bonds by the end of January….

Italy’s new government will have to sell more than EURO 30 billion of new bonds by the end of January to refinance its debts. Analysts say there is no guarantee that investors will buy all of those bonds, which could force Italy to default.

The Italian government yesterday said that in talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Prime Minister Mario Monti had agreed that an Italian collapse “would inevitably be the end of the euro.”

#9 European nations other than just the “PIIGS” are getting into an increasing amount of trouble.  For example, S&P recently slashed the credit rating of Belgium to AA.

#10 Credit downgrades are coming fast and furious all over Europe now.  At this point it seems like we see a new downgrade almost every single week.  Some nations have been downgraded several times.  For instance, Fitch has downgraded the credit rating of Portugal again.  At this point it is being projected that Portuguese GDP will shrink by about 3 percent in 2012.

#11 The financial collapse of Hungary didn’t make many headlines in the United States, but it should have.  Moody’s has cut the credit rating of Hungarian debt to junk status, and Hungary has now submitted a formal request to the EU and the IMF for a bailout.

#12 Even faith in German debt seems to be wavering. Last week, Germany had “one of its worst bond auctions ever“.

#13 German banks are also starting to show signs of weakness.  The other day, Moody’s downgraded the ratings of 10 major German banks.

#14 As the Telegraph recently reported, the British government is now making plans based on the assumption that a collapse of the euro is only “just a matter of time”….

As the Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warned that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible.

Diplomats are preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis.

The Treasury confirmed earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way.

A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time.

#15 The EFSF was supposed to help bring some stability to the situation, but the truth is that the EFSF is already a bad joke.  It has been reported that the EFSF has already been forced to buy up huge numbers of its own bonds.

#16 Unfortunately, it looks like a run on the banks has already begun in Europe.  The following comes from a recent article in The Economist….

“We are starting to witness signs that corporates are withdrawing deposits from banks in Spain, Italy, France and Belgium,” an analyst at Citi Group wrote in a recent report. “This is a worrying development.”

#17 Confidence in European banks has been absolutely shattered and virtually nobody wants to lend them money right now.

The following is a short excerpt from a recent CNBC article….

Money-market funds in the United States have quite dramatically slammed shut their lending windows to European banks. According to the Economist, Fitch estimates U.S. money market funds have withdrawn 42 percent of their money from European banks in general.

And for France that number is even higher — 69 percent. European money-market funds are also getting in on the act.

#18 There are dozens of major European banks that are in danger of failing.  The reality is that most major European banks are leveraged to the hilt and are massively exposed to sovereign debt.  Before it fell in 2008, Lehman Brothers was leveraged 31 to 1.  Today, major German banks are leveraged 32 to 1, and those banks are currently holding a massive amount of European sovereign debt.

#19 According to the New York Times, the economy of the EU is already projected to shrink slightly next year, and this doesn’t even take into account what is going to happen in the event of a total financial collapse.

#20 There are already signs that the European economy is seriously slowing down.  Industrial orders in the eurozone declined by 6.4 percent during September.  That was the largest decline that we have seen since the midst of the financial crisis in 2008.

#21 Panic and fear are everywhere in Europe right now.  The European Commission’s index of consumer confidence has declined for five months in a row.

#22 European leaders are really busy fighting with each other and a true consensus on how to solve the current problems seems way off at the moment.  The following is how the Express recently described rising tensions between German and British leaders….

The German Chancellor rejected outright Mr Cameron’s opposition to a new EU-wide financial tax that would have a devastating impact on the City of London.

And she refused to be persuaded by his call for the European Central Bank to support the euro. Money markets took a dip after their failure to agree.

Are you starting to get the picture?

The European financial system is in a massive amount of trouble, and when it melts down the entire globe is going to be shaken.

But it isn’t just me that is saying this.  As I mentioned in a previous article, there are huge numbers of respected economists all over the globe that are now saying that Europe is on the verge of collapse.

For example, just check out what Credit Suisse is saying about the situation in Europe….

“We seem to have entered the last days of the euro as we currently know it. That doesn’t make a break-up very likely, but it does mean some extraordinary things will almost certainly need to happen – probably by mid-January – to prevent the progressive closure of all the euro zone sovereign bond markets, potentially accompanied by escalating runs on even the strongest banks.”

Many European leaders are promoting much deeper integration and a “European superstate” as the answer to these problems, but it would take years to implement changes that drastic, and Europe does not have that kind of time.

If Europe experiences a massive economic collapse and a prolonged depression, it may seem like “the end of the world” to some people, but things will eventually stabilize.

A lot of people out there seem to think that the global economy is going to go from its present state to “Mad Max” in a matter of weeks.  Well, that is just not going to happen.  The coming troubles in Europe will just be another “wave” in the ongoing economic collapse of the western world.  There will be other “waves” after that.

Of course this current sovereign debt crisis could be entirely averted if the countries of the western world would just shut down their central banks and start issuing debt-free money.

The truth is that there is no reason why any sovereign nation on earth ever has to go a penny into debt to anyone.  If a nation is truly sovereign, then the government has the right to issue all of the debt-free money that it wants.  Yes, inflation would always be a potential danger in such a system (just as it is under central banking), but debt-free money would mean that government debt problems would be a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, most of the countries of the world operate under a system where more government debt is created when more currency is created.  The inevitable result of such a system is what we are witnessing now.  At this point, nearly the entire western world is drowning in debt.

There are alternatives to our current system.  But nobody in the mainstream media ever talks about them.

So instead of focusing on truly creative ways to deal with our current problems, we are all going to experience the bitter pain of the coming economic collapse instead.

Things did not have to turn out this way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soon even more Americans will be joining them.

Corrupted!: 5 Shocking Examples Of Government Corruption That Will Blow Your Mind

At times it really is breathtaking how corrupted the U.S. government has become.  Government corruption has become so endemic in our society that most people have just kind of accepted it as “normal”.  But shouldn’t we all get hopping mad when we learn that the Federal Reserve sent billions of dollars in bailout money to addresses in the Cayman Islands?  Shouldn’t we all be furious when one of the leading candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, declares that he is “not going to spend my time focusing on the Federal Reserve”?  Shouldn’t we all be alarmed when Nancy Pelosi gives a speech in which she says that “elections shouldn’t matter”?  Shouldn’t we all demand that someone be held accountable when we find out that a CBO analysis shows that the “$38.5 billion” in spending cuts will only reduce the budget deficit for this year by $352 million dollars?  On top of everything else, shouldn’t we all be absolutely horrified when the TSA gropes little 6 year old girls and virtually none of our politicians demand change?

$38.5 Billion In Budget Cuts Is Really Just $352 Million In Deficit Reduction?

Yesterday I wrote about how a close examination of the “budget cut deal” reveals that the 38.5 billion dollars in budget cuts are largely illusory.

However, even I was not ready for what the Congressional Budget Office had to say about this deal.  What I read in the Washington Post today absolutely floored me.  According to the Washington Post,  the Congressional Budget Office is saying that the budget deal will only cut the budget deficit for this year by less than one percent of what was being claimed by Republican and Democrat leaders….

The Congressional Budget Office estimate shows that compared with current spending rates the spending bill due for a House vote Thursday would pare just $352 million from the deficit through Sept. 30. About $8 billion in cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid are offset by nearly equal increases in defense spending.

What a joke.

The reality is that U.S. government is increasing by over 2 million dollars every single minute.  So the entire “savings” from this “budget deal” will account for approximately 3 hours of government spending.

Look, the U.S. government ran a budget deficit of $188 billion dollars for the month of March alone.  We are in debt up to our eyeballs and it is getting worse at a mind blowing pace.

When are people going to wake up and realize that neither political party is the least bit serious about dealing with our debt problem any time soon?

The Federal Reserve Sent Billions In Bailout Aid To Millionaires and Billionaires In The Cayman Islands

Most Americans don’t even understand what the Federal Reserve is, and yet they get to throw trillions of dollars around while being more or less completely unaccountable the entire time.

In a new article for Rolling Stone (which is a must read), Matt Taibbi exposes some of the folks that the Federal Reserve has been sending money to….

The Fed sent billions in bailout aid to banks in places like Mexico, Bahrain and Bavaria, billions more to a spate of Japanese car companies, more than $2 trillion in loans each to Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, and billions more to a string of lesser millionaires and billionaires with Cayman Islands addresses. “Our jaws are literally dropping as we’re reading this,” says Warren Gunnels, an aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “Every one of these transactions is outrageous.”

How in the world does it benefit the American people to send billions of dollars to some ultra-wealthy people down in the Cayman Islands?

In light of what we have already found out, it is absolutely amazing that Congress is still refusing to authorize a complete audit of the Federal Reserve.

The corruption of the Fed is crying out to be investigated.

Unfortunately, many of our top politicians are openly declaring that they have no intention of going after the Federal Reserve.

Mitt Romney Declares That He Will Not Be Going After Ben Bernanke Or The Federal Reserve

In case anyone needs one more sign that Mitt Romney is just another shill for the establishment, just check out the two statements by Romney below.

According to Politico, Romney recently told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow that he is not concerned about the Federal Reserve at all….

“I think Ben Bernanke is a student of monetary policy; he’s doing as good a job as he thinks he can do,” Romney said when Kudlow asked what kind of job Bernanke is doing. “I’m not going to spend my time going after Ben Bernanke. I’m not going to spend my time focusing on the Federal Reserve.”

That’s just great.  The Republican candidate with perhaps the greatest amount of “establishment support” says that he thinks that Bernanke is doing a good job and he does not plan to spend any time focusing on the Federal Reserve.

So if Romney gets in the Federal Reserve will continue to be able to dish out trillions to their friends without any interference.

Nancy Pelosi Declares That “Elections Shouldn’t Matter”

How are we supposed to respond when the top Democrat in the House of Representatives declares that “elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do”?

During a recent speech, Pelosi implored establishment Republicans to “take back your party” so that elections won’t “matter” as much….

To my Republican friends: take back your party. So that it doesn’t matter so much who wins the election, because we have shared values about the education of our children, the growth of our economy, how we defend our country, our security and civil liberties, how we respect our seniors. Because there are so many things at risk right now — perhaps in another question I’ll go into them, if you want. But the fact is that elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do… But when it comes to a place where there doesn’t seem to be shared values then that can be problematic for the country, as I think you can see right now.

Apparently what Pelosi wants is for America to go back to a time when all of us just went along with the false left/right paradigm and when we were all content to sleep while the establishment agenda rolled right along.

Well guess what Nancy?  Some of us are starting to wake up.

6 Year Old Girl Molested By The TSA

How far have we fallen as a nation when a 6 year old girl has to have her private areas touched in public by the TSA before she is allowed to get on an airplane?

America is becoming a very strange place.

The following is video that was posted on YouTube of the recent incident involving a 6 year old girl….

So is this what we have become as a nation?

Will we subject ourselves to anything as long as the authorities insist that it will keep us a little bit safer?

Pretty soon America is going to be unrecognizable.

I have previously written about how in one town in Missouri, girls scouts have actually been banned from selling girl scout cookies in their own front yards.

How crazy is that?

In Cleveland, authorities haves announced plans to have “trash supervisors” go snooping through trash cans to ensure that people are actually recycling according to city guidelines.

The control freaks we keep voting into office seem to have an obsession with running ever detail of our lives.

In many areas of the nation we aren’t even allowed to do acts of kindness anymore.

For example, in Houston, Texas a couple named Bobby and Amanda Herring that had been feeding homeless people for over a year has been banned by the city from doing so.

So what is next?

Are they going to ban kids from taking lunches to school?

It is already happening….

At one public school in the Chicago area, children have been banned from bringing their lunches from home.  Instead, it is mandatory that they eat the food that the cafeteria serves.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve gets to create trillions of dollars out of thin air and they get to send it to whoever they want.

What a country we have, eh?

Our system has become corrupted beyond all recognition.  Government corruption is out of control and it is getting worse with each passing day.

So when are the American people going to get sick of all this nonsense?

When are….

Wait.

American Idol is on tonight.

Perhaps all of this can just wait for another time.

After all, who wants to miss what J-Lo and Steven Tyler are going to say tonight?

Those two are really a couple of characters!

Our leaders know what they are doing, right?

We can trust our politicians to act in our best interest, right?

So instead of writing about all of this “doom and gloom”, perhaps I should just lighten up and focus on fun things like American Idol a little bit more.

What do all of you think?

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