Is “discretionary income” rapidly becoming a thing of the past for most American families? Right now, there are a lot of signs that we are on the verge of a nightmarish consumer spending drought. Incomes are down, taxes are up, many large retail chains are deeply struggling because of the lack of customers, and at this point nearly a quarter of all Americans have more credit card debt than money in the bank. Considering the fact that consumer spending is such a large percentage of the U.S. economy, that is very bad news. How will we ever have a sustained economic recovery if consumers don’t have much money to spend? Well, the truth is that we aren’t ever going to have a sustained economic recovery. In fact, this debt-fueled bubble of false hope that we are experiencing right now is as good as things are going to get. Things are going to go downhill from here, and if you think that consumer spending is bad now, just wait until you see what happens over the next several years.
Even though the Dow is surging toward a record high right now, everyone knows that things are not good for the middle class. A recent quote from CPA Howard Dvorkin kind of summarizes our current state of affairs very nicely…
“The fact of the matter is that America is broke — whether it’s mortgages, student loans or credit cards, we are broke. The old rule of thumb is that people should have six months’ of savings,” Dvorkin says.”If you talk to people, most don’t have two pennies.”
These days most Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck, and thanks to rising prices and rising taxes, those paychecks are getting squeezed tighter and tighter. Many families have had to cut back on unnecessary expenses, and some families no longer have any discretionary income at all.
The following are 16 signs that the middle class is rapidly running out of money…
#1 According to one brand new survey, 24 percent of all Americans have more credit card debt than money in the bank.
#2 J.C. Penney was once an unstoppable retail powerhouse, but now J.C. Penney has just posted its lowest annual retail sales in more than 20 years…
J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) slid the most in more than three decades after the department-store chain lost $4.3 billion in sales in the first year of Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson’s turnaround plan.
The shares fell 18 percent to $17.40 at 11:28 a.m. in New York after earlier declining 22 percent, the biggest intraday drop since at least 1980, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. J.C. Penney yesterday said its net loss in the quarter ended Feb. 2 widened to $552 million from $87 million a year earlier. The Plano, Texas-based retailer’s annual revenue slid 25 percent to $13 billion, the lowest since at least 1987.
How much worse can things get? At this point the decline has become so steep for J.C. Penney that Jim Cramer of CNBC is declaring that they are in “a true tailspin“.
Looking to buy a new car, truck or crossover? You may find it more difficult to stretch the household budget than you expected, according to a new study that finds median-income families in only one major U.S. city actually can afford the typical new vehicle.
The typical new vehicle is now more expensive than ever, averaging $30,500 in 2012, according to TrueCar.com data, and heading up again as makers curb the incentives that helped make their products more affordable during the recession when they were desperate for sales. According to the 2013 Car Affordability Study by Interest.com, only in Washington could the typical household swing the payments, the median income there running $86,680 a year.
#4 The founder of Subway Restaurants, Fred Deluca, says that the recent tax increases are having a noticeable impact on his business…
“The payroll tax is affecting sales. It’s causing sales declines,” he said, estimating a decline of about 2 percentage points off sales at his restaurants. “There are a lot of pressures on consumers,” Deluca said, adding “I think this is on the permanent side, but I think business will adjust to it.”
Darden Restaurants, which owns the casual dining chains Oliver Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster, said blended same-store sales at its three eateries would be 4.5 percent lower during its fiscal third quarter.
Clarence Otis, Darden’s chairman and chief executive, said that “while results midway through the third quarter were encouraging, there were difficult macro-economic headwinds during the last month of the quarter.”
“Two of the most prominent were increased payroll taxes and rising gasoline prices, which together put meaningful pressure on the discretionary purchasing power of our guests,” he added.
#6 The CFO of Family Dollar recently admitted to CNBC that this is a “challenging time” because of reduced consumer spending…
At Family Dollar where the average customer makes less than $40,000 a year, the combination of a two-percent hike in the payroll tax, rising gas prices and delayed tax refunds has created a “challenging time and an uncertain time for the consumer right now,” said Mary Winston, the company’s chief financial officer.
“In our case, anything that takes money out of our customer’s wallet gives them less money to spend in our stores,” she told CNBC. “So I think all of those things create nervousness for the consumer, and I think there are sometimes political dynamics going on that they might not even fully understand the details, but they know it’s not good.”
Evelin Cruz, a department manager at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pico Rivera, California, said Simon’s comments from the officers’ meeting were “dead on.”
“There are gaps where merchandise is missing,” Cruz said in a telephone interview. “We are not talking about a couple of empty shelves. This is throughout the store in every store. Some places look like they’re going out of business.”
This all comes on the heels of an internal Wal-Mart memo that was leaked to the press earlier this month that described February sales as a “total disaster”.
#8 Electronics retailer Best Buy continues to struggle mightily. Best Buy just announced that it will be eliminating 400 jobs at its headquarters in Richfield, Minnesota.
#9 It is being projected that many of the largest retail chains in America, including Best Buy, will close down hundreds of stores during 2013. The following is a list of projected store closings for 2013 that I included in a previous article…
Forecast store closings: 200 to 250
Sears Holding Corp.
Forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125
Forecast store closings: 300 to 350
Forecast store closings: 125 to 150
Barnes & Noble
Forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments
Forecast store closings: 500 to 600
Forecast store closings: 150 to 175
Forecast store closings: 450 to 550
#10 Another sign that consumer spending is slowing down is the fact that less stuff is being moved around in our economy. As I have mentioned previously, freight shipment volumes have hit their lowest level in two years, and freight expenditures have gone negative for the first time since the last recession.
#11 Many young adults have no discretionary income to spend because they are absolutely drowning in student loan debt. According to the New York Federal Reserve, student loan debt nearly tripled between 2004 and 2012.
#12 The student loan delinquency rate in the United States is now at an all-time high. It is only a matter of time before the student loan debt bubble bursts.
#13 Due to a lack of jobs and high levels of debt, poverty among young adults in America is absolutely exploding. Today, U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
#14 According to one recent survey, 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.
#15 Median household income in the United States has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by more than $4000 during that time span.
#16 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is currently taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.
Are you starting to get the picture?
Retailers are desperate for sales, but you can’t squeeze blood out of a rock.
But if you listen to the mainstream media, they would have you believe that happy days are here again.
Right now, everyone seems to be quite giddy about the fact that the Dow is marching toward an all-time high. And I actually do believe that the Dow will blow right past it. In fact, it is even possible that we could see the Dow hit 15,000 before everything starts falling apart.
But at some point, the financial markets will catch up with economic reality. It is just a matter of time.
In the meanwhile, those that are wise are taking advantage of these times of plenty to prepare for the great economic drought that is coming.
Don’t be caught living paycheck to paycheck and totally unprepared when the next wave of the economic collapse strikes. Anyone that believes that this debt-fueled bubble of false hope can last indefinitely is just being delusional.
An immensely powerful international organization that most people have never even heard of secretly controls the money supply of the entire globe. It is called the Bank for International Settlements, and it is the central bank of central banks. It is located in Basel, Switzerland, but it also has branches in Hong Kong and Mexico City. It is essentially an unelected, unaccountable central bank of the world that has complete immunity from taxation and from national laws. Even Wikipedia admits that “it is not accountable to any single national government.” The Bank for International Settlements was used to launder money for the Nazis during World War II, but these days the main purpose of the BIS is to guide and direct the centrally-planned global financial system. Today, 58 global central banks belong to the BIS, and it has far more power over how the U.S. economy (or any other economy for that matter) will perform over the course of the next year than any politician does. Every two months, the central bankers of the world gather in Basel for another “Global Economy Meeting”. During those meetings, decisions are made which affect every man, woman and child on the planet, and yet none of us have any say in what goes on. The Bank for International Settlements is an organization that was founded by the global elite and it operates for the benefit of the global elite, and it is intended to be one of the key cornerstones of the emerging one world economic system. It is imperative that we get people educated about what this organization is and where it plans to take the global economy.
Sadly, only a very small percentage of people actually know what the Bank for International Settlements is, and even fewer people are aware of the Global Economy Meetings that take place in Basel on a bi-monthly basis.
Every two months, more than a dozen bankers meet here on Sunday evenings to talk and dine on the 18th floor of a cylindrical building looking out on the Rhine.
The dinner discussions on money and economics are more than academic. At the table are the chiefs of the world’s biggest central banks, representing countries that annually produce more than $51 trillion of gross domestic product, three-quarters of the world’s economic output.
The article goes on to describe the room that these Global Economy Meetings are held in. It sounds like something out of a novel…
The Bank of England’s Mr. King leads the dinner discussions in a room decorated by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, which designed the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the Beijing Olympics. The men have designated seats at a round table in a dining area scented by white orchids and framed by white walls, a black ceiling and panoramic views.
The central bankers that gather for these meetings are not there just to socialize. No staff members are allowed into these meetings, and they are conducted in an atmosphere of absolute secrecy…
Serious matters follow appetizers, wine and small talk, according to people familiar with the dinners. Mr. King typically asks his colleagues to talk about the outlook in their respective countries. Others ask follow-up questions. The gatherings yield no transcripts or minutes. No staff is allowed.
So the fate of the world economy is determined by unelected central bankers in secret meetings that nobody ever hears about?
That certainly does not sound very “democratic”.
But this is the direction that “global governance” is taking us. The elite believe that the “big decisions” are far too important to be left “to the people”, and so most of the “international institutions” that have been established by the elite operate independently of the democratic process.
Sadly, the truth is that all of this has been planned for a very long time.
[T]he powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.
Back then, the Bank for International Settlements was only just starting to play a major role in global affairs. But over the years the BIS began to become increasingly important. The following is an excerpt from an article by Ellen Brown…
For many years the BIS kept a very low profile, operating behind the scenes in an abandoned hotel. It was here that decisions were reached to devalue or defend currencies, fix the price of gold, regulate offshore banking, and raise or lower short-term interest rates. In 1977, however, the BIS gave up its anonymity in exchange for more efficient headquarters. The new building has been described as “an eighteen story-high circular skyscraper that rises above the medieval city like some misplaced nuclear reactor.” It quickly became known as the “Tower of Basel.” Today the BIS has governmental immunity, pays no taxes, and has its own private police force. It is, as Mayer Rothschild envisioned, above the law.
Yes, it most definitely does bear a striking resemblance to the Tower of Babel as you can see from the photo in this article. Once again the global elite are trying to unite humanity under a single system, and that is most definitely not a good thing.
But many of these elitists are entirely convinced that “global governance” is what humanity desperately needs. They even publicly tell us what they plan to do, but most people are not listening.
For example, the following is an excerpt from a speech that former president of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet delivered to the Council On Foreign Relations in New York…
In the area of central bank cooperation, the main forum is the Global Economy Meeting (GEM), which gathers at the BIS headquarters in Basel. Over the past few years, this forum has included 31 governors as permanent members plus a number of other governors attending on a rotating basis. The GEM, in which all systemic emerging economies’ Central Bank governors are fully participating, has become the prime group for global governance among central banks.
The speech was entitled “Global Governance Today”, and you can find the full transcript right here. But most people have never even heard that such a thing as a “Global Economy Meeting” even exists because the mainstream media rarely discusses these sorts of things. They are too busy focusing on the latest celebrity scandal or the latest cat fights between the Republicans and the Democrats.
The mission of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is to serve central banks in their pursuit of monetary and financial stability, to foster international cooperation in those areas and to act as a bank for central banks.
In broad outline, the BIS pursues its mission by:
promoting discussion and facilitating collaboration among central banks;
supporting dialogue with other authorities that are responsible for promoting financial stability;
conducting research on policy issues confronting central banks and financial supervisory authorities;
acting as a prime counterparty for central banks in their financial transactions; and
serving as an agent or trustee in connection with international financial operations.
The head office is in Basel, Switzerland and there are two representative offices: in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and in Mexico City.
But when you start looking into the details, things get much more interesting.
So exactly how does the BIS achieve “monetary and financial stability”? An article posted on investorsinsight.com described how this is accomplished…
It accomplishes this through control of currencies. It currently holds 7% of the world’s available foreign exchange funds, whose unit of account was switched in March of 2003 from the Swiss gold franc to Special Drawing Rights (SDR), an artificial fiat “money” with a value based on a basket of currencies (44% U.S. dollar, 34% euro, 11% Japanese yen, 11% pound sterling).
The bank also controls a huge amount of gold, which it both stores and lends out, giving it great leverage over the metal’s price and the marketplace power that brings, since gold is still the only universal currency. BIS gold reserves were listed on its 2005 annual report (the most recent) as 712 tons. How that breaks down into member banks’ deposits and the BIS personal stash is unknown.
By controlling foreign exchange currency, plus gold, the BIS can go a long way toward determining the economic conditions in any given country. Remember that the next time Ben Bernanke or European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet announces an interest rate hike. You can bet it didn’t happen without the concurrence of the BIS Board.
In recent years, it has become increasingly obvious who really has power over our economy.
When Barack Obama speaks, the markets usually move very little.
When Ben Bernanke speaks, the markets often respond with wild gyrations.
In all, 13 other central banks in the world have followed the Fed’s lead and set interest rates at or near zero in an effort to keep the liquidity spigots open and prop up their ailing economies. Those 14 economies represent a staggering $65 trillion in combined equity and bond market capitalizations, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Later on in that same article, the author discussed the enormous amounts of money that global central banks were creating out of thin air…
“When you add up all the central banks in the world, it’s going to be over $9 trillion,” said Marc Doss, regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. “That’s like creating the second-largest economy in the world out of thin air.”
Indeed, central banking has become an economy unto itself, a multi-trillion-dollar empire that massages and manipulates markets, which respond to the slightest news out of the respective entities’ policy making committees.
So who controls the money?
The central banks of the world do.
And who controls those central banks?
The Bank for International Settlements does.
If we don’t like what the Bank for International Settlements is doing, can we do anything about it?
Maybe we’d feel better about the BIS if it were more transparent, but most everything about it, including its bi-monthly member and board meetings, is shrouded in secrecy. And perhaps more worrisome is that the BIS is free from oversight. By rights granted under its agreement with the Swiss Federal Council, all of the bank’s archives, documents and “any data media” are “inviolable at all times and in all places.” Furthermore, officers and employees of BIS “enjoy immunity from criminal and administrative jurisdiction, save to the extent that such immunity is formally waived . . . even after such persons have ceased to be Officials of the Bank.” Finally, no claims against BIS or its deposits may be enforced “without the prior agreement of the Bank.”
In other words they can do whatever they want, without consequences. How’s that for a leak-proof legal umbrella?
If the BIS wants to “intervene” in the financial markets, they simply just do it.
If the BIS wants to bail out big banks or even entire nations, they simply just do it.
The BIS reminds me of this old joke…
Q: Where does an 800 pound gorilla sit?
A: Anywhere it wants to.
So what is next for the Bank for International Settlements?
Well, many have speculated that eventually the goal is to have just a single global currency which will be administered by a single global central bank. The BIS is already using Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), which are considered to be a precursor to the coming global currency. The BIS played a big role in the adoption of the euro, and more currency integration is almost certainly on the way in future years…
But in the end, how you feel about the BIS may come down to how you feel about a one-world currency. The bank was a major player promoting the adoption of the euro as Europe’s common currency. There are rumors that its next project is persuading the U.S., Canada and Mexico to switch to a similar regional money, perhaps to be called the “amero,” and it’s logical to assume the bank’s ultimate goal is a single world currency. That would simplify transactions and really solidify the bank’s control of the planetary economy.
But if the United States ever did give up the U.S. dollar, it would be a massive blow to our national sovereignty.
When someone else controls your money, it doesn’t really matter that much who makes the laws.
Unfortunately, the global elite seem absolutely obsessed with the idea of a global currency, a one world economic system and a global government.
None of those things will happen this year, but that is where we are moving. With each new crisis that arises, the solutions that we will be given will always involve more centralization and more globalization.
So what do you think about all of this?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below…
Does a shadowy group of obscenely wealthy elitists control the world? Do men and women with enormous amounts of money really run the world from behind the scenes? The answer might surprise you. Most of us tend to think of money as a convenient way to conduct transactions, but the truth is that it also represents power and control. And today we live in a neo-fuedalist system in which the super rich pull all the strings. When I am talking about the ultra-wealthy, I am not just talking about people that have a few million dollars. As you will see later in this article, the ultra-wealthy have enough money sitting in offshore banks to buy all of the goods and services produced in the United States during the course of an entire year and still be able to pay off the entire U.S. national debt. That is an amount of money so large that it is almost incomprehensible. Under this ne0-feudalist system, all the rest of us are debt slaves, including our own governments. Just look around – everyone is drowning in debt, and all of that debt is making the ultra-wealthy even wealthier. But the ultra-wealthy don’t just sit on all of that wealth. They use some of it to dominate the affairs of the nations. The ultra-wealthy own virtually every major bank and every major corporation on the planet. They use a vast network of secret societies, think tanks and charitable organizations to advance their agendas and to keep their members in line. They control how we view the world through their ownership of the media and their dominance over our education system. They fund the campaigns of most of our politicians and they exert a tremendous amount of influence over international organizations such as the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. When you step back and take a look at the big picture, there is little doubt about who runs the world. It is just that most people don’t want to admit the truth.
The ultra-wealthy don’t run down and put their money in the local bank like you and I do. Instead, they tend to stash their assets in places where they won’t be taxed such as the Cayman Islands. According to a report that was released last summer, the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.
U.S. GDP for 2011 was about 15 trillion dollars, and the U.S. national debt is sitting at about 16 trillion dollars, so you could add them both together and you still wouldn’t hit 32 trillion dollars.
And of course that does not even count the money that is stashed in other locations that the study did not account for, and it does not count all of the wealth that the global elite have in hard assets such as real estate, precious metals, art, yachts, etc.
The global elite have really hoarded an incredible amount of wealth in these troubled times. The following is from an article on the Huffington Post website…
Rich individuals and their families have as much as $32 trillion of hidden financial assets in offshore tax havens, representing up to $280 billion in lost income tax revenues, according to research published on Sunday.
The study estimating the extent of global private financial wealth held in offshore accounts – excluding non-financial assets such as real estate, gold, yachts and racehorses – puts the sum at between $21 and $32 trillion.
The research was carried out for pressure group Tax Justice Network, which campaigns against tax havens, by James Henry, former chief economist at consultants McKinsey & Co.
He used data from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations and central banks.
But as I mentioned previously, the global elite just don’t have a lot of money. They also basically own just about every major bank and every major corporation on the entire planet.
According to an outstanding NewScientist article, a study of more than 40,000 transnational corporations conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich discovered that a very small core group of huge banks and giant predator corporations dominate the entire global economic system…
The researchers found that this core group consists of just 147 very tightly knit companies…
When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.
The following are the top 25 banks and corporations at the heart of this “super-entity”. You will recognize many of the names on the list…
1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc
3. FMR Corporation
5. State Street Corporation
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
7. Legal & General Group plc
8. Vanguard Group Inc
9. UBS AG
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
11. Wellington Management Co LLP
12. Deutsche Bank AG
13. Franklin Resources Inc
14. Credit Suisse Group
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
20. Legg Mason Inc
21. Morgan Stanley
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
23. Northern Trust Corporation
24. Société Générale
25. Bank of America Corporation
The ultra-wealthy elite often hide behind layers and layers of ownership, but the truth is that thanks to interlocking corporate relationships, the elite basically control almost every Fortune 500 corporation.
The amount of power and control that this gives them is hard to describe.
Unfortunately, this same group of people have been running things for a very long time. For example, New York City Mayor John F. Hylan said the following during a speech all the way back in 1922…
The real menace of our Republic is the invisible government, which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy legs over our cities, states and nation. To depart from mere generalizations, let me say that at the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as the international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes.
They practically control both parties, write political platforms, make catspaws of party leaders, use the leading men of private organizations, and resort to every device to place in nomination for high public office only such candidates as will be amenable to the dictates of corrupt big business.
These international bankers and Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests control the majority of the newspapers and magazines in this country. They use the columns of these papers to club into submission or drive out of office public officials who refuse to do the bidding of the powerful corrupt cliques which compose the invisible government. It operates under cover of a self-created screen [and] seizes our executive officers, legislative bodies, schools, courts, newspapers and every agency created for the public protection.
These international bankers created the central banks of the world (including the Federal Reserve), and they use those central banks to get the governments of the world ensnared in endless cycles of debt from which there is no escape. Government debt is a way to “legitimately” take money from all of us, transfer it to the government, and then transfer it into the pockets of the ultra-wealthy.
Today, Barack Obama and almost all members of Congress absolutely refuse to criticize the Fed, but in the past there have been some brave members of Congress that have been willing to take a stand. For example, the following quote is from a speech that Congressman Louis T. McFadden delivered to the U.S. House of Representatives on June 10, 1932…
Mr. Chairman, we have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks. The Federal Reserve Board, a Government board, has cheated the Government of the United States and the people of the United States out of enough money to pay the national debt. The depredations and iniquities of the Federal Reserve Board has cost this country enough money to pay the national debt several times over. This evil institution has impoverished and ruined the people of the United States, has bankrupted itself, and has practically bankrupted our Government. It has done this through the defects of the law under which it operates, through the maladministration of that law by the Federal Reserve Board, and through the corrupt practices of the moneyed vultures who control it.
Sadly, most Americans still believe that the Federal Reserve is a “federal agency”, but that is simply not correct. The following comes from factcheck.org…
The stockholders in the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks are the privately owned banks that fall under the Federal Reserve System. These include all national banks (chartered by the federal government) and those state-chartered banks that wish to join and meet certain requirements. About 38 percent of the nation’s more than 8,000 banks are members of the system, and thus own the Fed banks.
According to researchers that have looked into the ownership of the big Wall Street banks that dominate the Fed, the same names keep coming up over and over: the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, the Warburgs, the Lazards, the Schiffs and the royal families of Europe.
But ultra-wealthy international bankers have not just done this kind of thing in the United States. Their goal was to create a global financial system that they would dominate and control. Just check out what Georgetown University history professor Carroll Quigley once wrote…
[T]he powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.
Sadly, most Americans have never even heard of the Bank for International Settlements, but it is at the very heart of the global financial system. The following is from Wikipedia…
As an organization of central banks, the BIS seeks to make monetary policy more predictable and transparent among its 58 member central banks. While monetary policy is determined by each sovereign nation, it is subject to central and private banking scrutiny and potentially to speculation that affects foreign exchange rates and especially the fate of export economies. Failures to keep monetary policy in line with reality and make monetary reforms in time, preferably as a simultaneous policy among all 58 member banks and also involving the International Monetary Fund, have historically led to losses in the billions as banks try to maintain a policy using open market methods that have proven to be based on unrealistic assumptions.
The ultra-wealthy have also played a major role in establishing other important international institutions such as the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. In fact, the land for the United Nations headquarters in New York City was purchased and donated by John D. Rockefeller.
The international bankers are “internationalists” and they are very proud of that fact.
The elite also dominate the education system in the United States. Over the years, the Rockefeller Foundation and other elitist organizations have poured massive amounts of money into Ivy League schools. Today, Ivy League schools are considered to be the standard against which all other colleges and universities in America are measured, and the last four U.S. presidents were educated at Ivy League schools.
The elite also exert a tremendous amount of influence through various secret societies (Skull and Bones, the Freemasons, etc.), through some very powerful think tanks and social clubs (the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the Bohemian Grove, Chatham House, etc.), and through a vast network of charities and non-governmental organizations (the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, etc.).
But for a moment, I want to focus on the power the elite have over the media. In a previous article, I detailed how just six monolithic corporate giants control most of what we watch, hear and read every single day. These giant corporations own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many of our favorite websites.
Considering the fact that the average American watches 153 hours of television a month, the influence of these six giant corporations should not be underestimated. The following are just some of the media companies that these corporate giants own…
Home Box Office (HBO)
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
CW Network (partial ownership)
New Line Cinema
Time Warner Cable
ABC Television Network
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Buena Vista Theatrical Productions
Buena Vista Records
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Buena Vista Games
Paramount Home Entertainment
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Country Music Television (CMT)
Nick at Nite
The Movie Channel
Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox Television Stations
The New York Post
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Business Network
Fox Kids Europe
Fox News Channel
Fox Sports Net
Fox Television Network
My Network TV
News Limited News
Phoenix InfoNews Channel
Phoenix Movies Channel
STAR TV India
STAR TV Taiwan
Times Higher Education Supplement Magazine
Times Literary Supplement Magazine
Times of London
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox International
20th Century Fox Studios
20th Century Fox Television
The Wall Street Journal
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Interactive Media
The National Geographic Channel
National Rugby League
Sky Radio Denmark
Sky Radio Germany
Sky Radio Netherlands
CBS Television Network
CBS Radio Inc. (130 stations)
CBS Consumer Products
CW Network (50% ownership)
Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books, Scribner)
Westwood One Radio Network
NBC Television Network
Syfy (Sci Fi Channel)
NBC Universal Television Distribution
NBC Universal Television Studio
Paxson Communications (partial ownership)
Universal Parks & Resorts
Universal Studio Home Video
And of course the elite own most of our politicians as well. The following is a quote from journalist Lewis Lapham…
“The shaping of the will of Congress and the choosing of the American president has become a privilege reserved to the country’s equestrian classes, a.k.a. the 20% of the population that holds 93% of the wealth, the happy few who run the corporations and the banks, own and operate the news and entertainment media, compose the laws and govern the universities, control the philanthropic foundations, the policy institutes, the casinos, and the sports arenas.”
Have you ever wondered why things never seem to change in Washington D.C. no matter who we vote for?
Well, it is because both parties are owned by the establishment.
It would be nice to think that the American people are in control of who runs things in the U.S., but that is not how it works in the real world.
Our politicians are not stupid – they are going to be very good to the people that can give them the giant piles of money that they need for their campaigns. And the people that can do that are the ultra-wealthy and the giant corporations that the ultra-wealthy control.
Are you starting to get the picture?
There is a reason why the ultra-wealthy are referred to as “the establishment”. They have set up a system that greatly benefits them and that allows them to pull the strings.
“For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure — one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”
There is so much more that could be said about all of this. In fact, an entire library of books could be written about the power and the influence of the ultra-wealthy international bankers that run the world.
But hopefully this is enough to at least get some conversations started.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
Why does it seem like wherever there is human suffering, some giant bank is making money off of it? According to a new report from the World Development Movement, Goldman Sachs made about 400 million dollars betting on food prices last year. Overall, 2012 was quite a banner year for Goldman Sachs. As I reported in a previous article, revenues for Goldman increased by about 30 percent in 2012 and the price of Goldman stock has risen by more than 40 percent over the past 12 months. It is estimated that the average banker at Goldman brought in a pay and bonus package of approximately $396,500 for 2012. So without a doubt, Goldman Sachs is swimming in money right now. But what is the price for all of this “success”? Many claim that the rampant speculation on food prices by the big banks has dramatically increased the global price of food and has caused the suffering of hundreds of millions of poor families around the planet to become much worse. At this point, global food prices are more than twice as high as they were back in 2003. Approximately 2 billion people on the planet spend at least half of their incomes on food, and close to a billion people regularly do not have enough food to eat. Is it moral for Goldman Sachs and other big banks such as Barclays and Morgan Stanley to make hundreds of millions of dollars betting on the price of food if that is going to drive up global food prices and make it harder for poor families all over the world to feed themselves?
This is another reason why the derivatives bubble is so bad for the world economy. Goldman Sachs and other big banks are treating the global food supply as if it was some kind of a casino game. This kind of reckless activity was greatly condemned by the World Development Movement report…
“Goldman Sachs is the global leader in a trade that is driving food prices up while nearly a billion people are hungry. The bank lobbied for the financial deregulation that made it possible to pour billions into the commodity derivative markets, created the necessary financial instruments, and is now raking in the profits. Speculation is fuelling volatility and food price spikes, hurting people who struggle to afford food across the world.”
So shouldn’t there be a law against this kind of a thing?
Well, in the United States there actually is, but the law has been blocked by the big Wall Street banks and their very highly paid lawyers. The following is another excerpt from the report…
“The US has passed legislation to limit speculation, but the controls have not been implemented due to a legal challenge from Wall Street spearheaded by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, of which Goldman Sachs is a leading member. Similar legislation is on the table at the EU, but the UK government has so far opposed effective controls. Goldman Sachs has lobbied against controls in both the US and the EU.”
Posted below is a chart that shows what this kind of activity has done to commodity prices over the past couple of decades. You will notice that commodity prices were fairly stable in the 1990s, but since the year 2000 they have been extremely volatile…
The money tells the story. Since the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, there has been a 50–fold increase in dollars invested in commodity index funds. To put the phenomenon in real terms: In 2003, the commodities futures market still totaled a sleepy $13 billion. But when the global financial crisis sent investors running scared in early 2008, and as dollars, pounds, and euros evaded investor confidence, commodities — including food — seemed like the last, best place for hedge, pension, and sovereign wealth funds to park their cash. “You had people who had no clue what commodities were all about suddenly buying commodities,” an analyst from the United States Department of Agriculture told me. In the first 55 days of 2008, speculators poured $55 billion into commodity markets, and by July, $318 billion was roiling the markets. Food inflation has remained steady since.
The money flowed, and the bankers were ready with a sparkling new casino of food derivatives. Spearheaded by oil and gas prices (the dominant commodities of the index funds) the new investment products ignited the markets of all the other indexed commodities, which led to a problem familiar to those versed in the history of tulips, dot–coms, and cheap real estate: a food bubble. Hard red spring wheat, which usually trades in the $4 to $6 dollar range per 60-pound bushel, broke all previous records as the futures contract climbed into the teens and kept on going until it topped $25. And so, from 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of food rose 80 percent –and has kept rising.
Are you angry yet?
You should be.
Poor families all over the planet are suffering so that Wall Street bankers can make bigger profits.
Sadly, the global food supply is getting tighter with each passing day, and things are looking rather ominous for the years ahead.
According to the United Nations, global food reserves have reached their lowest level in nearly 40 years. Global food reserves have not been this low since 1974, but the population of the world has greatly increased since then. If 2013 is another year of drought and bad harvests, things could spiral out of control rather quickly…
World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.
Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN.
“We’ve not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The world has barely been able to feed itself for some time now. In fact, we have consumed more food than we have produced for 6 of the last 11 years…
Evan Fraser, author of Empires of Food and a geography lecturer at Guelph University in Ontario, Canada, says: “For six of the last 11 years the world has consumed more food than it has grown. We do not have any buffer and are running down reserves. Our stocks are very low and if we have a dry winter and a poor rice harvest we could see a major food crisis across the board.”
“Even if things do not boil over this year, by next summer we’ll have used up this buffer and consumers in the poorer parts of the world will once again be exposed to the effects of anything that hurts production.”
We desperately need a good growing season next summer, and all eyes are on the United States. The U.S. exports more food than anyone else does, and last summer the United States experienced the worst drought that it had seen in about 50 years. That drought left deep scars all over the country. The following is from a recent Rolling Stone article…
In 2012, more than 9 million acres went up in flames in this country. Only dredging and some eleventh-hour rain kept the mighty Mississippi River from being shut down to navigation due to low water levels; continuing drought conditions make “long-term stabilization” of river levels unlikely in the near future. Several of the Great Lakes are soon expected to hit their lowest levels in history. In Nebraska last summer, a 100-mile stretch of the Platte River simply dried up. Drought led the USDA to declare federal disaster areas in 2,245 counties in 39 states last year, and the federal government will likely have to pay tens of billions for crop insurance and lost crops. As ranchers became increasingly desperate to feed their livestock, “hay rustling” and other agricultural crimes rose.
Ranchers were hit particularly hard. Because they couldn’t feed their herds, many ranchers slaughtered a tremendous number of animals. As a result, the U.S. cattle herd is now sitting at a 60 year low.
What do you think that is going to do to meat prices over the next few years?
Meanwhile, the drought continues. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, this is one of the worst winter droughts the U.S. has ever seen. At this point, more than 60 percent of the entire nation is currently experiencing drought.
If things don’t turn around dramatically, 2013 could be an absolutely nightmarish year for crops in the United States. If 2013 does turn out to be another bad year, food prices would soar both in the U.S. and on the global level. The following is from a recent CNBC article…
The severe drought that swept through much of the U.S. last year is continuing into 2013, threatening to cripple economic growth while forcing consumers to pay higher food prices.
“The drought will have a significant impact on prices, especially beef, pork and chicken,” said Ernie Gross, an economic professor at Creighton University and who studies farming issues.
So let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.
It looks like higher food prices are on the way, and millions of poor families all over the planet will be hard-pressed to feed their families.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs will be laughing all the way to the bank.
Sometimes it can be easy to forget that behind all of the horrible economic numbers that we hear about are millions of real people that have had their lives absolutely devastated by this economy. Elderly couples are being brutally evicted from their homes, young families are living in their cars, terminally ill people are dying because they cannot afford medication that they need and millions of parents can’t sleep at night as they wrestle with anxiety over not being able to provide for their children. Often those that lose their jobs or their homes discover that people start looking at them very differently and that there is very little compassion out there these days. As you will read about below, one major U.S. bank is even kicking an elderly woman with stage 4 breast cancer out of her home because she cannot make her full mortgage payment each month. When the next major global financial catastrophe happens, we are going to see a whole lot more economic despair. Will society respond to that crisis by becoming warmer and more compassionate, or will the world around us become even more cold and even more cruel? As bad as things are right now, it truly is frightening to think about what the world is going to look like after the next major economic downturn.
Many of the stories that you are about to read are truly heartbreaking. Unfortunately, they represent thousands upon thousands of other stories that never make it into the news….
Foreclosing On An Elderly Woman With Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Wells Fargo is threatening to evict an elderly woman with stage 4 breast cancer named Cindi Davis from her family home in North Carolina….
“They want us to make a house payment of almost $900 a month,” Cindi told the station of their lender, Wells Fargo bank. “We can afford maybe half that. I pay $1,100 a month in prescription medications.”
The couple says they have tried to work with Wells Fargo, even sending notes from Cindi’s doctors explaining her condition, but haven’t been able to come to a workable solution.
“They’re just going to put us out and it’s like, we are willing to pay what we can pay, but it’s not enough,” Cindi said.
Her cancer is in her lungs, lymph nodes and on her liver and she’s gone through a double mastectomy and multiple chemotherapy treatments, but Cindi has handled her disease like a fighter.
Cindi and her husband say that if they are evicted they may have to move in to their pickup truck.
Can you imagine living your last days in a truck as you try desperately to battle stage 4 breast cancer?
There is a severe shortage of medicine in Greece right now, and many doctors are essentially volunteers at this point because so few people can actually afford to pay their bills. The following description of the chaos in the Greek healthcare system comes from a recent Natural News article….
The economic situation in Greece is only continuing to worsen, as reports indicate that hospitals and care centers throughout the nation are running completely out of medicines, and many healthcare workers are now voluntarily providing care services without pay.
Strapped with spiraling debt, the Greek healthcare, which is government-run, has had to receive gobs of international financial aid just to keep operating with some semblance of normalcy. There has also been plenty of IOUs issued, and desperate patients quietly forking over cash “gifts” to doctors to receive treatments. All in all, the healthcare situation is in utter chaos, save for those that have sacrificed their own time, often free of charge, just to help those in need.
But it is not just the healthcare system that is deeply troubled.
Economic conditions have gotten so bad in Greece that some parents are actually abandoning their children in the streets according to the Daily Mail….
Children are being abandoned on Greece’s streets by their poverty-stricken families who cannot afford to look after them any more.
Youngsters are being dumped by their parents who are struggling to make ends meet in what is fast becoming the most tragic human consequence of the Euro crisis.
Could you ever do that to your children?
Sadly, it looks like things are going to get even worse in Greece. It is being projected that the unemployment rate in Greece will reach 30 percent by the end of the year.
Economic Shutdown In Portugal
Greece is not the only European nation that is going through an economic nightmare right now. The truth is that much of southern Europe is virtually shutting down right now.
Excluding the city’s still-bustling tourist areas, it’s very quiet around the city.
Street-level retail shops and restaurants are either devoid of customers or have been vacated. On many blocks I’ve seen more “for lease” signs than operating businesses.
Officially, the unemployment rate is 15.2% in Portugal, and the economy will contract 3% this year… yet the clear lack of economic activity suggests the real figures are much greater.
Without doubt, reality has set in. Locals have capitulated ‘hope’ that the good times will magically re-appear and have adjusted their habits accordingly.
American Families Living In Their Cars
In some areas of the United States you would never even know that an economic crisis is happening, but in other areas things are clearly falling apart very rapidly. There is a very serious shortage of decent jobs in most parts of the country, and we are seeing clear signs of societal breakdown in many of our major cities.
During the last recession, millions of Americans lost their jobs. Because a lot of them did not have much money saved up, many of those unemployed Americans also quickly lost their homes.
In the end, some of them ended up living in their vehicles.
And living in a car can be absolute hell. The following is from an ABC News report….
Three children — one suffering second-degree burns — were taken into protective custody Monday after they were discovered living with their parents in a “filthy” car in a Walmart parking lot.
Police were called to the parking lot Monday morning in Mount Dora, Fla., where they found the family of five living in a 1987 Cadillac Coupe de Ville full of clothes and garbage. Police told the Orlando Sentinel that days-old chicken bones were strewn about the car, along with a spoiled carton of milk and a bottle of tequila.
Other families try to make the best of it that they can. The following is one touching example from a recent 60 Minutes report….
This is the home of the Metzger family. Arielle, 15. Her brother Austin, 13. Their mother died when they were very young. Their dad, Tom, is a carpenter. And, he’s been looking for work ever since Florida’s construction industry collapsed. When foreclosure took their house, he bought the truck on Craigslist with his last thousand dollars. Tom’s a little camera shy – thought we ought to talk to the kids – and it didn’t take long to see why.
Pelley: How long have you been living in this truck?
Arielle Metzger: About five months.
Pelley: What’s that like?
Arielle Metzger: It’s an adventure.
Austin Metzger: That’s how we see it.
Pelley: When kids at school ask you where you live, what do you tell ’em?
Austin Metzger: When they see the truck they ask me if I live in it, and when I hesitate they kinda realize. And they say they won’t tell anybody.
Arielle Metzger: Yeah it’s not really that much an embarrassment. I mean, it’s only life. You do what you need to do, right?
Could you imagine being 13 years old or 15 years old and living in a truck?
Unfortunately, during the next major economic downturn a whole lot more families are going to end up living like this.
For most Americans, this will just mean higher prices at the grocery store.
But for corn farmers, a lack of rain can be absolutely devastating. The following are some recent comments from farmers about this crippling drought on agweb.com….
I am a small farmer, but my crops in Wayne County, Ill., are the worst I have had sine 1952-53. Corn will be lucky to make 10 bu. and beans are going downhill. It’s been over 100 degrees for 11 straight days. Bad crop.
Dryland corn is done! Some people in denial need to walk in field. Later corn tasseled and pollinating with no silks! No rain in seven days or low humidity 90 degrees and warmer by weekend. Yield range for corn on our farms…0 to 0 bpa. Soybeans…if it rains which is a big if may have some hope, not holding my breath!!
This is my 50th year of grain farming, so I think that I can say that I’ve seen it all. This is worse than 1988-Much worse for corn. Beans could still be fair if it starts to rain soon. Sat.-Sun. rains totaled only 1/4 inch.
This is worse than 1983 and 1988. Corn yield will be 30 to 40% of last year’s yield. The jury is still out on the beans. $10 corn is likely, because there will be so little of it relative to demand. Very sad…
You can see some incredible pictures of the drought in the middle part of the country right here.
When the economy falls to pieces, the politicians and the big banks get all the air time, but it is average hard working people that feel the most pain.
As the economy gets a lot worse (and it will) there is going to be a huge need for more love and compassion. The government is not going to be able “to save” everyone, and even now way too many people are falling through the cracks in the “safety net”.
Instead of looking down on the homeless and the unemployed, don’t be afraid to give them a helping hand up.
You never know, you might be the one in need of some assistance someday.
We always knew that the financial markets were rigged, but this is getting ridiculous. It is now being alleged that 20 major banks have been systematically fixing global interest rates for years. Barclays has already been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for manipulating Libor (the London Inter Bank Offered Rate). But Barclays says that a whole bunch of other banks were doing this too. This is shaping up to be the biggest financial scandal in history, and criminal investigations have been launched on both sides of the Atlantic. What those investigations are likely to uncover could shake the financial markets to their very core. In the end, this scandal could absolutely devastate confidence in the global financial system and it could potentially bring down a number of major global banks. We have never seen anything quite like this before.
What Is Libor?
As mentioned before, Libor is the London Inter Bank Offered Rate. A recent Washington Post article contained a pretty good explanation of what that means….
In the simplest terms, LIBOR is the average interest rate which banks in London are charging each other for borrowing. It’s calculated by Thomson Reuters — the parent company of the Reuters news agency — for the British Banking Association (BBA), a trade association of banks and financial services companies.
Why Does Libor Matter?
If you have a mortgage, a car loan or a credit card, then there is a very good chance that Libor has affected your personal finances. Libor has been a factor in the pricing of hundreds of trillions of dollars of loans, securities and assets. The following is from a recent article by Maureen Farrell….
These traders influenced the pricing of the London Interbank Offered Rate or Libor, a benchmark that dictates the pricing of up to $800 trillion of securities (yes trillion)
That is a number that is hard to even imagine.
Most American consumers do not even know what Libor is, but it actually plays a key role in the U.S. economy as the Washington Post recently explained….
In the United States, the two biggest indices for adjustable rate mortgages and other consumer debt are the prime rate (that is, the rate banks charge favored or “prime” consumers) and LIBOR, with the latter particularly popular for subprime loans. A study from Mark Schweitzer and Guhan Venkatu at the Cleveland Fed looked at survey data in Ohio and found that by 2008, almost 60 percent of prime adjustable rate mortgages, and nearly 100 percent of subprime ones, were indexed to LIBOR
Employees at Barclays (and apparently at about 20 other major banks) were brazenly manipulating interest rates. A recent Yahoo Finance article described how this worked…
To help the bank’s trading positions between 2005 and 2009, and most notably during the global financial crisis of 2007-09, the bank made false submissions to the Libor-setting committee, which agrees rates daily in London.
At the request of its own traders of interest-rate derivatives, Barclays made false submissions relating to Libor and Euribor (the eurozone benchmark rate). By doing this, Barclays personnel aimed to help their trading colleagues to profit by manipulating Libor.
Rigging the world’s leading benchmark for interest rates is pretty serious stuff. Indeed, in the words of the FSA, “Barclays’ behaviour threatened the integrity of the rates, with the risk of serious harm to other market participants”.
Many in the financial world have been absolutely horrified by the details of this scandal that have been emerging.
One recent CNN article declared that “the stench” coming from London is now “overwhelming”….
The Libor scandal has confirmed what many of us have known for some time: There is something smelly in the London financial world and the stench is now overwhelming.
But It is only when I read the Financial Services Authority report — all 44 pages of it — that is became clear just how widespread, how blatant was the fixing of the benchmark interest rate Libor and Euribor by Barclays. Brazen is the only word for it.
The emails and phone calls reveal that on dozens of occasions those who stood to gain by the decisions asked for favors (and got them) from those who helped set the interest rates.
You can read many examples of the kinds of emails that were exchanged between traders in New York and traders at Barclays in London right here.
What Does This Scandal Mean For The Future?
This scandal is making the global financial system look really, really bad. Confidence in global financial markets has already been declining, and these new revelations are not going to help at all. The following is how an article in the Huffington Post put it….
The ballooning interest rate manipulation scandal at Barclays, coupled with stock market instability, is likely to fuel fresh doubts about the integrity of the stock market, insiders said.
“Every time people begin to gain a little confidence, something else comes up,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “If it’s not Europe, it’s [troubled] IPOs, or JPMorgan or Barclays. Something new blows up and people say, ‘I knew it was rigged.’”
In addition, we are undoubtedly going to see a huge wave of lawsuits come out of this scandal. Those lawsuits alone will gum up the financial system for a decade or more.
So needless to say, this is a very big deal.
Sadly, the revelations that have come out about Barclays in recent days are probably just the very tip of the iceberg. Before this is all over, we are probably going to find out that most of the major global banks were involved.
At a time when the global financial system is already on the verge of a major implosion, this is not welcome news.
This financial scandal is just another reason to be deeply concerned about the second half of 2012. The house of cards is starting to look really shaky, and nobody knows exactly when it will fall, but anyone with half a brain can see that things are progressively getting worse.
A “perfect storm” is rapidly developing, and when it strikes it is going to be very, very painful.
Warren Buffett once said that derivatives are “financial weapons of mass destruction”, and that statement is more true today than it ever has been before. Recently, JP Morgan made national headlines when it announced that it was going to take a 2 billion dollar loss from derivatives trades gone bad. Well, it turns out that JP Morgan did not tell us the whole truth. As you will see later in this article, most analysts are estimating that the losses will eventually be far larger than 2 billion dollars. But no matter how bad things get for JP Morgan, it will not be allowed to fail. JP Morgan is the largest bank in the United States, so it is essentially the “granddaddy” of the too big to fail banks. If JP Morgan gets to the point where it is about to collapse, the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve will rush in to save it. Because of this “security blanket”, banks such as JP Morgan feel free to take outrageous risks. Today, JP Morgan has more exposure to derivatives than anyone else in the world. If they win, they win big. If they lose, U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook. Not only that, but thanks to Dodd-Frank, U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for bailing out the major derivatives clearinghouses if there is ever a major derivatives crisis. So when the derivatives market crashes (and it will) you and I will be left holding a gigantic bill.
Derivatives almost caused the complete collapse of insurance giant AIG back in 2008. But instead of learning our lessons, the derivatives bubble has gotten even larger since that time.
A Bloomberg article that was published last year contained a great quote from Mark Mobius about derivatives….
Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management’s emerging markets group, said another financial crisis is inevitable because the causes of the previous one haven’t been resolved.
“There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis,” Mobius said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo today in response to a question about price swings. “Are the derivatives regulated? No. Are you still getting growth in derivatives? Yes.”
Never in the history of the world have we ever seen anything like this derivatives bubble.
But instead of getting it under control, we just allowed it to get bigger and bigger and bigger.
Now JP Morgan is in quite a bit of trouble. A recent Daily Finance article summarized how JP Morgan got into this mess….
Bruno Iksil, a trader working in the bank’s London office, placed a massive bet in the derivatives market. Derivatives “derive” their value from the value of an underlying asset, like stocks, bonds, currencies, or a market index. The specific type of derivative used in Iksil’s bet was a credit default swap index, known as “CDX.NA.IG.9.”
CDX.NA.IG.9 tracks a basket of corporate bonds. Iksil’s positions on the index were so big (one report put it at $100 billion) that they were moving the market and interfering with other traders’ positions. These annoyed traders — hedge-fund managers — dubbed Iksil “the London Whale” for his outsize bets.
So if the real number isn’t 2 billion dollars, how much will JP Morgan eventually lose?
The Independent is reporting that the losses could eventually reach 7 billion dollars.
One author featured on Zero Hedge suggested that the losses could ultimately reach 20 billion dollars….
Simple: because it knew with 100% certainty that if things turn out very, very badly, that the taxpayer, via the Fed, would come to its rescue. Luckily, things turned out only 80% bad. Although it is not over yet: if credit spreads soar, assuming at $200 million DV01, and a 100 bps move, JPM could suffer a $20 billion loss when all is said and done. But hey: at least “net” is not “gross” and we know, just know, that the SEC will get involved and make sure something like this never happens again.
The truth is that nobody really knows. Everybody agrees that the losses will likely far exceed 2 billion dollars, but the real extent of the crisis will not be known until the trades play out.
According to the Huffington Post, JP Morgan recently sold 25 billion dollars of profitable securities to raise some cash. The profit on the sale of those securities will be somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion dollars.
A billion dollars will help, but it will not be nearly enough.
Many are interpreting this move as a sign of panic by JP Morgan.
Meanwhile, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon continues to do quite well. In fact, his 23 million dollar pay package was recently approved by shareholders at an annual meeting.
Wouldn’t you like to do your job badly and still make 23 million dollars?
Right now, JP Morgan is essentially in a “staring contest” with those on the other side of the derivatives trades that went bad. This “staring contest” was described in a recent CNN article….
It’s clear from public data filed with The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation that JPMorgan Chase hasn’t sold any of its positions yet.The DTCC tracks trading activity and sizes of positions on the IG9 and other indexes, and there haven’t been any big moves since last week.
“Whatever the size was, it’s clearly not something that you can call one or two dealers and sell,” said Garth Friesen, a co-chief investment officer at AVM, a derivatives hedge fund that’s not involved in these trades.
As soon as it becomes clear that JPMorgan Chase is unwinding its position, it will be obvious to players on every major trading desk. Hedge funds will immediately start piling into that index and buying protection, driving up the bank’s losses.
Until then, it won’t cost the hedge funds much to sit and wait.
JP Morgan is desperately hoping that the markets move in their favor.
If the markets move against JP Morgan in a big way it could potentially be absolutely catastrophic for the biggest bank in America.
An excerpt from an email that Steve Quayle recently received from an anonymous international banking source contained some chilling analysis of the situation….
The derivative market that JPM plays in is the CDX.NA.IG.9, when factions within their London office (London Whale) made overly leveraged swaps, hedge funds smelled blood and so did a few banks. You see any moves that JPM does here on out exposes their weakness further. Which they can not afford any more exposure thus they are not buying back any more shares which is the equivalent of cutting an artery in a pool full of sharks. The strategy they are taking right now is to sit through the storm and ride it out as they can do nothing else for any action will make them even more vulnerable. They can not absorb hits in both JPM SLV and CDX.NA.IG.9. Inactivity is not something they want to do it is something they have to do. There is no other choice for them.
So what will happen if JP Morgan loses too much money?
Well, it will beg the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve for money and the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve will comply.
There is no way that they are going to let the largest bank in America fail.
In addition, as I mentioned earlier, Dodd-Frank has put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for future bailouts of derivatives clearinghouses. This was detailed in a recent Wall Street Journal article….
Little noticed is that on Tuesday Team Obama took its first formal steps toward putting taxpayers behind Wall Street derivatives trading — not behind banks that might make mistakes in derivatives markets, but behind the trading itself. Yes, the same crew that rails against the dangers of derivatives is quietly positioning these financial instruments directly above the taxpayer safety net.
One of the things that Dodd-Frank does is that it gives the Federal Reserve the power to provide “discount and borrowing privileges” to derivatives clearinghouses in the event of a major derivatives crisis.
This is what our politicians love to do.
They love to have the U.S. taxpayer guarantee everything.
Our politicians look at us as one giant insurance policy.
Apparently they believe that if anything in the financial world goes wrong that U.S. taxpayers should be the ones to clean up the mess.
But will we really have enough money to bail everyone out when the derivatives market crashes?
The bank runs that we are watching right now in Greece are shocking, but they are only just the beginning. Since May 6th, nearly one billion dollars has been withdrawn from Greek banks. For a small nation like Greece, that is an absolutely catastrophic number. At this point, the entire Greek banking system is in danger of collapsing. If you had money in a Greek bank, why wouldn’t you pull it out? If Greece leaves the euro, all euros in Greek banks will likely be converted to drachmas, and the value of those drachmas will almost certainly decline dramatically. In fact, it has been estimated that Greek citizens could see the value of their bank accounts decline by up to 50 percent if Greece leaves the euro. So if you had money in a Greek bank, it would only make sense to withdraw it and move it to another country as quickly as possible. And as the eurozone begins to unravel, this is a scenario that we are going to see play out in country after country. As member nations leave the eurozone, you would be a fool to have your euros in Italian banks or Spanish banks when you could have them in German banks instead. So the bank runs that are happening in Greece right now are only a preview of things to come. Before this crisis is over we are going to see bank runs happening all over Europe.
If Greece leaves the euro, the consequences are likely to be quite messy. Those that are promoting the idea that a “Grexit” can be done in an orderly fashion are not being particularly honest. The following is from a recent article in the Independent….
“Whoever tells you a Greek exit would be no big deal is an idiot, lying or disingenuous,” said Sony Kapoor of the European think-tank Re-Define. Economists fear that a disorderly exit would prompt a huge run by investors on Spanish and Italian debt, forcing those countries to seek support from an EU bailout fund, which, with a capacity of just €500bn, is widely regarded as too small to cope with those pressures.
A Greek exit from the euro would not only result in a run on Spanish and Italian bonds, but it would also likely result in a run on Spanish and Italian banks.
If Greece is allowed to leave the euro, that will be a signal that other countries will eventually be allowed to leave as well. Nobody in their right mind would want their euros stuck in Spanish or Italian banks if those countries end up converting back to national currencies.
Fear is a powerful motivator. If Greece converts their euros back to drachmas, that will be a clear signal that all euros are not created equally. The race to move money into German banks will accelerate dramatically.
And a Greek exit from the euro is looking more likely with each passing day. Even the IMF is now admitting that it is a very real possibility….
Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, warned she was “technically prepared for anything” and said the utmost effort must be made to ensure any Greek exit was orderly. The effect was likely to be “quite messy” with risks to growth, trade and financial markets. “It is something that would be extremely expensive and would pose great risks but it is part of options that we must technically consider,” she said.
Meanwhile, banks in other troubled European nations are already on shaky ground. The Spanish banking system is an absolute disaster zone at this point and on Monday night Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of 26 Italian banks.
The situation in Italy is especially worth keeping a close eye on. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard recently noted, things are not looking good for Italy at all….
Italy’s former premier Romano Prodi said the EU risks instant contagion to Spain, Italy, and France if Greece leaves. “The whole house of cards will come down”, he said
Angelo Drusiani from Banca Albertini said the only way to avert catstrophe is to convert the European Central Bank into a lender of last resort. Otherwise Italy faces “massive devaluation, three to five years of hyperinflation, and unbearable unemployment.”
So what can be done about any of this?
Well, there is actually a lot that could be done if politicians in Europe were willing to think outside of the established global financial paradigm.
The truth is that Greece could solve their current financial problems in four easy steps. They would have to be willing to stick it to the rest of Europe and to risk being blackballed by the international community, but it could be done.
The following is my prescription for Greece….
1) Default on all debts.
2) Leave the euro.
3) Issue drachmas that are debt-free and that do not come from a central bank. Instead, have the Greek government create them and spend them directly into circulation.
4) Enjoy a return to prosperity.
In such a scenario, the Greek national debt would no longer be a problem, the Greek government would never have to borrow any more money and austerity would no longer be needed.
Yes, inflation would be an issue with the new currency, but a bit of inflation would be a walk in the park compared to the horrible economic depression that Greece is experiencing right now.
And once the Greek economy was growing again, it would certainly be possible for them to make the transition to “hard money” if they wanted to.
It is imperative that we all understand that just because the global financial system works a certain way today does not mean that it must always work that way.
If you have a few minutes, I want you to watch an incredible speech by a 12-year-old Canadian girl named Victoria Grant. In this 6 minute speech, she details how the bankers are defrauding the people of Canada and how the Canadian government does not actually need to borrow a single penny from the bankers….
If a 12-year-old girl can figure this out, then why can’t the rest of us?
Right now, America is going down the same path as Greece, Spain and Italy have gone. Eventually we will hit a wall and our financial system will fall apart.
We need the American people to understand that the Federal Reserve system is a perpetual debt machine. The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Fed was first created. It is at the very core of our national financial problems.
When will people wake up and realize that central banking is the problem and not the solution?
When will people wake up and realize that national governments do not have to go into debt to anyone if they do not want to?
In our world today, there is far more debt than there is money.
It is a system that will inevitably crash.
But there are other alternatives.
Unfortunately, politicians all over the globe continue to want to be married to our current debt-based financial system.
As a result, we will suffer the consequences of that system.
Ronald Reagan once famously declared that inflation is a tax, but sadly most Americans did not really grasp what he was talking about. If the American people truly understood what inflation was doing to them, they would be screaming bloody murder about monetary policy. Inflation is an especially insidious tax because it is not just a tax on your income for one year. It is a continual tax on every single dollar that you own. As your money sits in the bank, it is constantly losing value. Over time, the effects of inflation can be absolutely devastating. For example, if you put 100 dollars in the bank in 1970, those same dollars today would only have about 17 percent of the purchasing power that they did back then. In essence, you were hit by an 83 percent “inflation tax” and all you did was leave your money in the bank. So who is responsible for this? Well, the Federal Reserve controls monetary policy in the United States, and the inflationary monetary policy that the Fed has gotten all of us accustomed to is taxing the living daylights out of us. This is madness, and it needs to stop.
In previous articles I have discussed how the Federal Reserve creates money. If you have not read those articles yet, you can find a few of them here, here and here.
The Federal Reserve system is designed to have the U.S. money supply expand indefinitely.
And that is exactly what has happened since 1913.
But when the money supply expands, there are very serious consequences.
Every time more money comes into existence, the dollars that you and I are already holding become less valuable because now there are more dollars chasing the same amount of goods and services.
Right now, the U.S. government says that the annual rate of inflation is somewhere around 2 percent. Those of you that have to buy food and gas on a regular basis realize how much of a joke that is.
But let’s use the doctored government numbers for a moment. Using the doctored numbers, what inflation has done to all of us is still absolutely horrific. Just check out the chart below. This is what the Federal Reserve was designed to do. It was designed to constantly expand the money supply and create inflation that never ends….
Most of us have been living in an inflationary environment for so long that we have come to accept it as normal.
Most Americans believe that prices are supposed to just keep going up as time goes by.
Unfortunately, we have now entered an era when prices are going up much faster than wages are. Family budgets are being squeezed tighter and tighter as the inflation tax keeps taking a bigger and bigger toll on all of our paychecks.
I remember the days when I could go into the grocery store and get a large bag of brand name potato chips for 99 cents.
I remember the days when I could get all the groceries that I needed for an entire week for 20 bucks.
Unfortunately, those days are long gone.
Have you been to the grocery store lately?
When I go to the grocery store these days I almost get the feeling that someone is going to ask me to fill out a credit application.
When I get to the checkout counter I almost get the feeling that the cashier is going to ask me if I want to pay with an arm or a leg.
But food is not the only thing going up. Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row. There are millions of American families that are keeping the heat really, really low this winter in an attempt to make ends meet.
Health care is another thing that has become ridiculously expensive. During the Obama administration, worker health insurance costs have risen by 23 percent.
Has your paycheck increased by 23 percent?
Of course we all know what is happening with the price of gasoline. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is now up to $3.72. It has increased by more than 90 percent since Barack Obama became president.
This is why so many economists get so upset when the Federal Reserve starts printing money like there is no tomorrow. Inflation is a tax that is very cruel to average American families. It destroys their wealth and it destroys the purchasing power of their paychecks.
Unfortunately, this is always what happens when a society adopts fiat currency. Our dollars are just pieces of paper backed by absolutely nothing. When more pieces of paper are printed up, the value of the pieces of paper already in existence goes down.
This is one of the reasons why so many people out there are talking about “real money” like gold and silver. Unlike fiat currency, precious metals tend to hold value over a very long period of time.
For example, it will take you about three times as much U.S. currency to buy a gallon of gasoline in 2012 as it did back in 1990.
But an ounce of silver will actually buy you more gasoline today than it did back then.
Back in 1990, an ounce of silver would buy you about 4 gallons of gasoline. Today it will buy you more than 8 gallons of gasoline.
Talk about holding value.
We see the same kind of thing happening with gold.
When Barack Obama first took office, an ounce of gold was selling for about $850. Today an ounce of gold costs more than $1700 an ounce.
It is not that gold is becoming so much more valuable. It is just that the U.S. dollar is losing value on a continual basis.
So why don’t the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve quit flooding our economy with more paper money?
That is a very good question.
Sadly, our leaders seem to have a never ending addiction to more paper money and the American people are not demanding change.
On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that the Federal Reserve may have to implement even more stimulus measures in order to help the economy.
Of course such talk is utter insanity considering what Bernanke and his cohorts have already done to the monetary base over the past few years….
Thankfully, the vast majority of that money is still trapped in the financial system. If all of that money was floating around on the street inflation would be far worse.
Those of you that think that the surging stock market is a sign of “economic recovery” should realize that the market has been pumped up by huge amounts of funny money from the Federal Reserve. Just because the number of dollars circulating has increased does not mean that things are getting better.
There is much more to all of this of course, but what is important for the man and the woman on the street is the fact that when the Federal Reserve expands the money supply it is a tax on all of us and it makes all of us poorer.
So what do you think about the inflation tax and the reckless monetary policy of the Federal Reserve?
Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below….