How do you fix a superpower with exploding levels of debt, that has a rapidly aging population, that consumes far more wealth than it produces, and that has scores of zombie banks that could collapse at any moment. You might think that I am talking about the United States, but I am actually talking about Europe. You see, the truth is that the European Union has a larger population than the United States does, it has a larger economy than the United States does, and it has a much larger banking system than the United States does. Most of the time I write about the horrible economic problems that the U.S. is facing, but without a doubt economic conditions in Europe are even worse at the moment. In fact, there are many (including the Washington Post) that are calling what is happening in Europe a full-blown “depression”. Sadly, this is probably only just the beginning. In the months to come things in Europe are likely to get much worse.
First of all, let’s take a look at unemployment. If the U.S. was using honest numbers, the official unemployment rate would probably be somewhere close to 10 percent. But in many nations in Europe, the official unemployment rate is already above the ten percent mark…
The official unemployment rate for the eurozone as a whole is currently 11.5 percent. The lack of good jobs is causing the middle class to shrink all over Europe, and more people than ever are becoming dependent on government assistance. European nations are well known for their generous welfare programs, but all of this spending is causing debt to GDP ratios to absolutely explode…
At the same time, the value of the euro has been steadily declining over the last six months. This is significantly reducing the purchasing power that European families have…
Many believe that the euro will ultimately go much lower than this. Nations such as Greece and Spain are already experiencing deflation, and the inflation rates in Germany and France are both currently below one percent. If the European Central Bank starts injecting lots of fresh euros into the system to combat this perceived problem, that will lift the level of inflation but it will also further erode the value of the euro.
In the long run, it would not be a surprise to see the U.S. dollar at parity with the euro.
When it happens, remember where you heard it.
The Europeans are scared to death of a deflationary depression, but that is precisely where the long-term economic trends are taking them right now. The following is from a recent Forbes article…
Market consensus believes that the eurozone is edging toward that moment when the scourge of deflation actually becomes a crippling reality. Eurozone data is constantly reminding investors that the region’s economy is barely limping along, as companies slash selling prices in a vain attempt to improve sales in the face of a weakening economy and evaporating new orders. Corporate deflationary reactions like this only hurt a company’s bottom line by squeezing profit margins even further. The obvious knock-on effect will limit resources for hiring and investing, which in turn only dampens any chances of an economic rebound, again putting the region into a bigger hole.
In a desperate attempt to avoid widespread deflation in Europe, the ECB will inevitably take action at some point.
It may not happen immediately, but when it does it will be yet another salvo in the emerging global currency war.
Speaking of currencies, it is being reported that Russia is actually considering legislation that will ban the circulation of the U.S. dollar in that nation. The following is from an article that was posted on Infowars…
Russia may ban the circulation of the United States dollar.
The State Duma has already been submitted a relevant bill banning and terminating the circulation of USD in Russia, APA’s Moscow correspondent reports.
If the bill is approved, Russian citizens will have to close their dollar accounts in Russian banks within a year and exchange their dollars in cash to Russian ruble or other countries’ currencies.
Otherwise their accounts will be frozen and cash dollars levied by police, customs, tax, border, and migration services confiscated.
That is not good news for the U.S. dollar at all.
Expect wild shifts in the foreign exchange markets in the months and years to come. Turbulent times are ahead for the dollar, the euro and the yen.
Getting back to Europe, let us hope that things stabilize over there – at least for a while.
But that might not happen. In fact, things could take a turn for the worse at any moment.
Most people don’t realize this, but European banks are even shakier than U.S. banks, and that is saying a lot.
For example, the largest bank in the strongest economy in Europe is Deutsche Bank. At this point, Deutsche Bank has approximately 75 trillion dollars worth of exposure to derivatives. That amount of money is about 20 times the size of German GDP, and it is more exposure than any U.S. bank has.
And Deutsche Bank is far from alone. All over Europe there are zombie banks that are essentially insolvent. Many of them are being propped up by their governments. Those governments know that if those banks failed that it would make their economic problems even worse.
Just like in the United States, most economic activity in Europe is fueled by debt. So those banks are needed to provide mortgages, loans and credit cards to average citizens and businesses. Unfortunately, bad debt levels and business failures continue to shoot up all over Europe.
The system is breaking down, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.
So keep an eye on Europe. In particular, keep an eye on Italy. I have a feeling that big economic news is about to start coming out of Italy, and it won’t be good.
In 2014, we have been experiencing “the calm before the storm”.
But 2015 is right around the corner, and it promises to be extremely “interesting”.
Wall Street banks are getting hit by cyber attacks every single minute of every single day. It is a massive onslaught that is not highly publicized because the bankers do not want to alarm the public. But as you will see below, one big Wall Street bank is spending 250 million dollars a year just by themselves to combat this growing problem. The truth is that our financial system is not nearly as stable as most Americans think that it is. We have become more dependent on technology than ever before, and that comes with a potentially huge downside. An electromagnetic pulse weapon or an incredibly massive cyberattack could conceivably take down part or all of our banking system at any time.
This week, the mainstream news is reporting on an attack on our major banks that was so massive that the FBI and the Secret Service have decided to get involved. The following is how Forbes described what is going on…
The FBI and the Secret Service are investigating a huge wave of cyber attacks on Wall Street banks, reportedly including JP Morgan Chase, that took place in recent weeks.
The attacks may have involved the theft of multiple gigabytes of sensitive data, according to reports. Joshua Campbell, supervisory special agent at the FBI, tells Forbes: “We are working with the United States Secret Service to determine the scope of recently reported cyber attacks against several American financial institutions.”
When most people think of “cyber attacks”, they think of a handful of hackers working out of lonely apartments or the basements of their parents. But that is not primarily what we are dealing with anymore. Today, big banks are dealing with cyberattackers that are extremely organized and that are incredibly sophisticated.
The threat grows with each passing day, and that is why JPMorgan Chase says that “not every battle will be won” even though it is spending 250 million dollars a year in a relentless fight against cyberattacks…
JPMorgan Chase this year will spend $250 million and dedicate 1,000 people to protecting itself from cybercrime — and it still might not be completely successful, CEO Jamie Dimon warned in April.
“Cyberattacks are growing every day in strength and velocity across the globe. It is going to be continual and likely never-ending battle to stay ahead of it — and, unfortunately, not every battle will be won,” Dimon said in his annual letter to shareholders.
Other big Wall Street banks have a similar perspective. Just consider the following two quotes from a recent USA Today article…
Bank of America: “Although to date we have not experienced any material losses relating to cyber attacks or other information security breaches, there can be no assurance that we will not suffer such losses in the future.”
Citigroup: “Citi has been subject to intentional cyber incidents from external sources, including (i) denial of service attacks, which attempted to interrupt service to clients and customers; (ii) data breaches, which aimed to obtain unauthorized access to customer account data; and (iii) malicious software attacks on client systems, which attempted to allow unauthorized entrance to Citi’s systems under the guise of a client and the extraction of client data. For example, in 2013 Citi and other U.S. financial institutions experienced distributed denial of service attacks which were intended to disrupt consumer online banking services. …
“… because the methods used to cause cyber attacks change frequently or, in some cases, are not recognized until launched, Citi may be unable to implement effective preventive measures or proactively address these methods.”
I don’t know about you, but those quotes do not exactly fill me with confidence.
Another potential threat that banking executives lose sleep over is the threat of electromagnetic pulse weapons. The technology of these weapons has advanced so much that they can fit inside a briefcase now. Just consider the following excerpt from an article that was posted on an engineering website entitled “Electromagnetic Warfare Is Here“…
The problem is growing because the technology available to attackers has improved even as the technology being attacked has become more vulnerable. Our infrastructure increasingly depends on closely integrated, high-speed electronic systems operating at low internal voltages. That means they can be laid low by short, sharp pulses high in voltage but low in energy—output that can now be generated by a machine the size of a suitcase, batteries included.
Electromagnetic (EM) attacks are not only possible—they are happening. One may be under way as you read this. Even so, you would probably never hear of it: These stories are typically hushed up, for the sake of security or the victims’ reputation.
That same article described how an attack might possibly happen…
An attack might be staged as follows. A larger electromagnetic weapon could be hidden in a small van with side panels made of fiberglass, which is transparent to EM radiation. If the van is parked about 5 to 10 meters away from the target, the EM fields propagating to the wall of the building can be very high. If, as is usually the case, the walls are mere masonry, without metal shielding, the fields will attenuate only slightly. You can tell just how well shielded a building is by a simple test: If your cellphone works well when you’re inside, then you are probably wide open to attack.
And with electromagnetic pulse weapons, terrorists or cyberattackers can try again and again until they finally get it right…
And, unlike other means of attack, EM weapons can be used without much risk. A terrorist gang can be caught at the gates, and a hacker may raise alarms while attempting to slip through the firewalls, but an EM attacker can try and try again, and no one will notice until computer systems begin to fail (and even then the victims may still not know why).
Never before have our financial institutions faced potential threats on this scale.
According to the Telegraph, our banks are under assault from cyberattacks “every minute of every day”, and these attacks are continually growing in size and scope…
Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.
Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent “hacktivism”, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.
In the end, it is probably only a matter of time until we experience a technological 9/11.
When that day arrives, will your money be safe?
Why have we turned our backs on the principles that this nation was founded upon? Many of those that founded this nation bled and died so that we could experience “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. And yet we have tossed their ideals aside as if they were so much rubbish. Our founders had experienced the tyranny of big government (the monarchy) and the tyranny of the big banks and feudal lords, and they wanted something very different for the citizens of the new republic that they were forming. They wanted a country where private property was respected and hard work was rewarded. They wanted a country where the individual was empowered, and where everyone could own land and start businesses. They wanted a country where there were severe restrictions on all large collections of power (government, banks and corporations all included). They wanted a country where freedom and liberty were maximized and where ordinary people had the power to pursue their dreams and build better lives for their families. And you know what? While no system is ever perfect, the experiment that our founders originally set up worked beyond their wildest dreams. But now we are killing it. Why in the world would we want to do that?
Most people are under the illusion that the United States has a “capitalist economy” today, but that simply is not accurate. At best, we have a “mixed economy” that is becoming a little bit more socialist with each passing day. We pay dozens of different types of taxes each year, and some Americans actually end up giving more of their earnings to the government than they keep themselves. But that is still not enough, and so our state governments have accumulated astounding amounts of debt, and our federal government has amassed the largest single debt that the world has ever seen. If future generations of Americans get the chance, they will curse us for the chains of debt that we have placed upon their shoulders.
So what do our government officials do with all of this money?
Well, today approximately 70 percent of all federal government activity involves taking money from some Americans and giving it to other Americans.
Despite this unprecedented wealth-redistribution program, poverty is absolutely exploding in this country and 49 million Americans are dealing with food insecurity.
Meanwhile, the bankers have been getting fabulously wealthy from all of this debt. The Federal Reserve system was designed to trap the U.S. government in an endless spiral of debt from which it could never possibly escape, and that mission has been accomplished. In fact, the U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created a little more than 100 years ago.
Most people like to think of big banks as “capitalist” institutions, but that is not really accurate. In the end, giant corporate banks like we have in the United States are actually collectivist institutions. They tend to greatly concentrate wealth and power, and socialists find those kinds of banks very useful.
In fact, Vladimir Lenin once said that “without big banks, socialism would be impossible.”
While there may be a bit of animosity between big government and big banks once in a while, the truth is that they are usually very closely tied to one another. We saw this close relationship very clearly during the financial crisis of 2008, and it is no secret that there is a revolving door between the boardrooms of Wall Street and the halls of power in Washington. The elite dominate both spheres, and it is not for the benefit of the rest of us.
In America today, government just keeps getting bigger and the banks just keep getting bigger. Meanwhile, the percentage of self-employed Americans is at an all-time low and the middle class is steadily dying.
What we are doing right now is clearly not working.
So why don’t we go back and do the things that we were doing when we were extremely successful as a nation?
In case you don’t know what those things were, here are some clues…
#1 “A wise and frugal government… shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
#2 “A people… who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.” – George Washington
#3 “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own.” – James Madison, Essay on Property, 1792
#4 “Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good.” – John Adams
#5 “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816
#6 “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.” — John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787
#7 “I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements.” – Thomas Jefferson
#8 “Beware the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry.” – Thomas Paine
#9 “If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.” – Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, November 29, 1802
#10 “All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise not from defects in the Constitution or Confederation, not from a want of honor or virtue so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.” – John Adams, at the Constitutional Convention (1787)
#11 “The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” – Thomas Jefferson
#12 “Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.” – John Adams, 1765
#13 “If ever again our nation stumbles upon unfunded paper, it shall surely be like death to our body politic. This country will crash.” – George Washington
#14 “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.” – Thomas Jefferson
#15 “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” — Benjamin Franklin
Bankers committing suicide by jumping from the rooftops of their own banks is something that we think of when we think of the Great Depression. Well, it just happened in London, England. A vice president at JPMorgan’s European headquarters in London plunged to his death after jumping from the top of the 33rd floor. He fell more than 500 feet, and it is being reported by an eyewitness that “there was quite a lot of blood“. This comes on the heels of news that a former Deutsche Bank executive was found hanged in his home in London on Sunday. So why is this happening? Yes, the markets have gone down a little bit recently but they certainly have not crashed yet. Could there be more to these deaths than meets the eye? You never know. And as I will discuss below, there have been a lot of other really strange things happening around the world lately as well.
But before we get to any of that, let’s take a closer look at some of these banker deaths. The JPMorgan executive that jumped to his death on Tuesday was named Gabriel Magee. He was 39 years old, and his suicide has the city of London in shock…
A bank executive who died after jumping 500ft from the top of JP Morgan’s European headquarters in London this morning has been named as Gabriel Magee.
The American senior manager, 39, fell from the 33-story skyscraper and was found on the ninth floor roof, which surrounds the Canary Wharf skyscraper.
He was a vice president in the corporate and investment bank technology department having joined in 2004, moving to Britain from the United States in 2007.
What would cause a man in his prime working years who is making huge amounts of money to do something like that?
The death on Sunday of former Deutsche Bank executive Bill Broeksmit is also a mystery. According to the Daily Mail, police consider his death to be “non-suspicious”, which means that they believe that it was a suicide and not a murder…
A former Deutsche Bank executive has been found dead at a house in London, it emerged today.
The body of William ‘Bill’ Broeksmit, 58, was discovered at his home in South Kensington on Sunday shortly after midday by police, who had been called to reports of a man found hanging at a house.
Mr Broeksmit – who retired last February – was a former senior manager with close ties to co-chief executive Anshu Jain. Metropolitan Police officers said his death was declared as non-suspicious.
On top of that, Business Insider is reporting that a communications director at another bank in London was found dead last week…
Last week, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG died last week. The cause of death has not been made public.
Perhaps it is just a coincidence that these deaths have all come so close to one another. After all, people die all the time.
And London is rather dreary this time of the year. It is easy for people to get depressed if they are not accustomed to endless gloomy weather.
If the stock market was already crashing, it would be easy to blame the suicides on that. The world certainly remembers what happened during the crash of 1929…
Historically, bankers have been stereotyped as the most likely to commit suicide. This has a lot to do with the famous 1929 stock market crash, which resulted in 1,616 banks failing and more than 20,000 businesses going bankrupt. The number of bankers committing suicide directly after the crash is thought to have been only around 20, with another 100 people connected to the financial industry dying at their own hand within the year.
But the market isn’t crashing just yet. We definitely appear to be at a “turning point“, but things are still at least somewhat stable.
So why are bankers killing themselves?
That is a good question.
As I mentioned above, there have also been quite a few other strange things that have happened lately that seem to be “out of place”.
For example, Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report posted the following cryptic message on Twitter the other day…
“Have an exit plan…”
What in the world does he mean by that?
Maybe that is just a case of Drudge being Drudge.
Then again, maybe not.
And on Tuesday we learned that a prominent Russian Bank has banned all cash withdrawals until next week…
Bloomberg reports that ‘My Bank’ – one of Russia’s top 200 lenders by assets – has introduced a complete ban on cash withdrawals until next week. While the Ruble has been losing ground rapidly recently, we suspect few have been expecting bank runs in Russia.
Yes, we have heard some reports of people having difficulty getting money out of their banks around the world lately, but this news out of Russia really surprised me.
Yet another story that seemed rather odd was a report in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that stated that Germany’s central bank is advocating “a one-time wealth tax” for European nations that need a bailout…
Germany’s central bank Monday proposed a one-time wealth tax as an option for euro-zone countries facing bankruptcy, reviving a idea that has circled for years in Europe but has so far gained little traction.
Why would they be suggesting such a thing if “economic recovery” was just around the corner?
According to that same article, the IMF has recommended a similar thing…
The International Monetary Fund in October also floated the idea of a one-time “capital levy,” amid a sharp deterioration of public finances in many countries. A 10% tax would bring the debt levels of a sample of 15 euro-zone member countries back to pre-crisis levels of 2007, the IMF said.
So what does all of this mean?
I am not exactly sure, but I have got a bad feeling about this – especially considering the financial chaos that we are witnessing in emerging markets all over the globe right now.
So what do you think? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
If you still have money in European banks, you need to get it out. This is particularly true if you have money in southern European banks. As I write this, the final details of the Cyprus bailout are being worked out, but one thing has become abundantly clear: at least some depositors are going to lose a substantial amount of money. Personally, I never dreamed that they would go after private bank accounts in Europe, but now that this precedent has been set it should be apparent to everyone that no bank account will ever be considered 100% safe ever again. Without trust, a banking system simply cannot function, and right now there are prominent voices on both sides of the Atlantic that are loudly warning that trust in the European banking system has been shattered and that people need to get their money out of those banks as rapidly as they can. Even if you don’t end up losing a significant chunk of your money, you could still end up dealing with very serious capital controls that greatly restrict what you are able to do with your money. Just look at what is already happening in Cyprus. Cash withdrawals through ATMs have now been limited to 100 euros per day, and when the banks finally do reopen there will be strict limits on financial transactions in order to prevent a full-blown bank run. And of course anyone with half a brain will be trying to get as much of their money as they can out of those banks once they do reopen. So the truth is that the problems for Cyprus banks are just beginning. The size of the “bailout” that will be needed to keep those banks afloat will just keep getting larger and larger the more money that is withdrawn. Cyprus is heading for a complete and total banking meltdown, and because the economy of the island is so dependent on banking that means that the economy of the entire nation is going to collapse. Sadly, similar scenarios will soon start playing out all over Europe.
So if you hear that a “deal” has been reached to “bail out” Cyprus, please keep in mind that the economy of Cyprus is going to collapse no matter what happens. It is just a matter of apportioning the pain at this point.
According to the New York Times, it looks like much of the pain is going to be placed on the backs of those with deposits of over 100,000 euros…
The revised terms under discussion would assess a one-time tax of 20 percent on deposits above 100,000 euros at the Bank of Cyprus, which has the largest number of savings accounts on the island. Because the Bank of Cyprus suffered huge losses on bets that it took on Greek bonds, the government appears to be taking depositors’ money to help plug the hole.
A separate tax of 4 percent would be assessed on uninsured deposits at all other banks, including the 26 foreign banks that operate in Cyprus.
Does that sound bad to you?
Well, if a deal is not reached, there is a possibility that those with uninsured deposits could lose everything. According to Ekathimerini, EU officials are telling Cyprus to choose between a “bad scenario” and a “very bad scenario”…
The main question surrounds the future of the island’s largest lender, Bank of Cyprus. If unsecured deposits (above 100,000 euros) at all Cypriot banks are taxed then large savings at Bank of Cyprus are likely to be taxed between 20 and 25 percent. If the levy is not imposed on deposits at other lenders, the haircut for Bank of Cyprus customers will be much larger.
The option of a full bail in of Bank of Cyprus depositors is still on the table. As with the Popular Bank of Cyprus (Laiki), which is to go through a resolution process, the full bail in option could lead to deposits above 100,000 euros being lost. The only compensation for unsecured depositors will be shares in the “good” bank that will be created by a possible merger between the “healthy” Laiki and Bank of Cyprus entities.
When asked by Kathimerini how the Cypriot economy will survive if all company and personal deposits above 100,000 euros disappear from the country’s two biggest lenders, the EU official said: “Unfortunately, Cyprus’s choices are between a bad scenario and a very bad scenario.”
So what percentage of the deposits in Cyprus are uninsured deposits?
Well, nobody knows for sure, but according to JPMorgan close to half of the total amount of money on deposit in EU banks as a whole is uninsured.
Do you think that some of those people will start moving their money to safer locations after watching how things are going down in Cyprus?
They would be crazy if they didn’t.
And if you think that “deposit insurance” will keep you safe, you are just being delusional.
According to CNBC, very strict capital controls are coming to Cyprus. These rules will apply even to accounts that contain less than 100,000 euros…
Financial controls are coming. Depositors with less than 100,000 euros may not lose their money outright, but they won’t like the restrictions–no matter how much they have in the bank. Limits on withdrawals, limits on check cashing, and perhaps even outright conversion of checking accounts into fixed term deposits are coming (translation: you don’t have a checking account, you have a bond from the bank).
A lot of people are going to lose a lot of money in Cyprus banks, and a significant percentage of them are going to be Russian.
And as I wrote about the other day, you don’t want to have the Russians mad at you.
According to the Guardian, Moscow is already considering various ways that it might “punish” the EU…
However, with Russian investors having an estimated €30bn (£26bn) deposited in banks on the island, the growing optimism about a deal was accompanied by fears of retaliation from Moscow. Alexander Nekrassov, a former Kremlin adviser, said: “If it is the case that there will be a 25% levy on deposits greater than €100,000 then some Russians will suffer very badly.
“Then, of course, Moscow will be looking for ways to punish the EU. There are a number of large German companies operating in Russia. You could possibly look at freezing assets or taxing assets. The Kremlin is adopting a wait and see policy.”
Could this be the start of a bit of “economic warfare” between east and west?
One thing is for sure – the Russians simply do not allow people to walk all over them.
Meanwhile, things in Cyprus are getting more desperate with each passing day. Because they cannot get money out of the banks, many retail stores find themselves running low on cash. In a few more days many of them may not be able to function at all…
Retailers, facing cash-on-delivery demands from suppliers, warned stocks were running low. “At the moment, supplies will last another two or three days,” said Adamos Hadijadamou, head of Cyprus’s Association of Supermarkets. “We’ll have a problem if this is not resolved by next week.”
But do you know who was able to get their money out in time?
According to the Daily Mail, the President of Cyprus actually warned “close friends” about what was going to happen and told them to get their money out Cyprus…
Cypriot president Nikos Anastasiades ‘warned’ close friends of the financial crisis about to engulf his country so they could move their money abroad, it was claimed on Friday.
Overall, approximately 4.5 billion euros was moved out of Cyprus during the week just before the crisis struck.
Wouldn’t you like to get advance warning like that?
Well, at this point it does not take a genius to figure out what to do about any money that you may have in European banks. The following is from a recent Forbes article by economist Laurence Kotlikoff…
Whatever happens, no one is going to trust or use Cypriot banks. This will shut down the country’s financial highway and flip Cyprus’ economy to a truly awful equilibrium in a replay of our own country’s Great Depression, which was kicked off by the failure of one-in-three U.S. banks.
Cyprus is a small country. Still, the failure of its banks could trigger massive bank runs in Greece. After all, if the European Central Bank is abandoning Cypriot depositors, they may abandon Greek depositors next. A run on Greek banks could then spread to Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Italy and from there to Belgium and France and, you get the picture, to other countries around the globe, including, drum roll, the U.S. Every bank in each of these countries has made promises they can’t keep were push come to shove, i.e., if all depositors demand their money back immediately.
We’ve seen this movie before. And not just in real life. Every Christmas our tellys show It’s a Wonderful Life in which banker Jimmy Stewart barely saves his small town from economic ruin arising from a banking panic.
Others are being even more blunt with their warnings. For example, Nigel Farage, a member of the European Parliament, is warning everyone to get their money out of southern European banks while they still can…
The appalling events in Cyprus over the course of the past week have surpassed even my direst of predictions.
Even I didn’t think that they would stoop to stealing money from people’s bank accounts. I find that astonishing.
There are 750,000 British people who own properties, or who live, many of them in retirement down in Spain.
Our message to expats now that the EU has crossed this line, must be: Get your money out of there while you’ve still got a chance.
And Martin Sibileau is proclaiming that if you still have an unsecured deposit in a eurozone bank that you should have your head examined…
What are depositors of Euros faced with today? Anything but a clean bet! They don’t know what the expected loss on their capital will be, because it will be decided over a weekend by politicians who don’t even represent them. They don’t really know where their deposits went to and they also ignore what jurisdiction they really belong to. Finally, depositors are paid mere basis points for their trust in the system vs. the 20% p.a. Argentina offered in 2001 (thanks to the zero-interest rate policies of the 21st century). In light of all this, I can only conclude that anyone still having an unsecured deposit in a Euro zone bank should get his/her head examined!
So where should you put your money?
I don’t know that there is anywhere that is 100% safe at this point. But many are pointing to hard assets such as gold and silver. The following is what trends forecaster Gerald Celente had to say during one recent interview…
“People always say to me, ‘Mr. Celente you are always talking about gold. What are you going to do with gold when everything collapses and there is no money?’ Well, let’s say you are a Cypriot and all of the ATM machines are out of money and the banks are closed? Do you think those pieces of silver are going to buy you what you need? Do you think that ounce of gold is going to get you what you want?
That’s the real money. There is no other money. When it all comes down, gold and silver are the only things you have to buy what you need, get what you want, or even get out if you need to.”
I used to tell people that putting their money in U.S. banks was safer than putting it other places because U.S. bank deposits are covered by deposit insurance up to a certain amount.
But now we see that deposit insurance means absolutely nothing. If they decide to “tax” (i.e. steal) your money from your bank accounts they will just go ahead and do it.
So what should we all do?
Personally, I think that not having all of your eggs in one basket is a wise approach. If you have your wealth a bunch of different places and in several different forms, I think that will help.
But as the global financial system falls apart, there will be no such thing as 100% safety. So if you are looking for that you can stop trying.
Our world is becoming a very unstable place, and things are going to get a lot worse. We are all going to have to adjust to this new paradigm and do the best that we can.
Is the financial system of Europe on the verge of a meltdown? I have always maintained that the next wave of the economic crisis would begin in Europe, and right now the situation in Europe is unraveling at a frightening pace. On Monday, European stocks had their worst day in over six months, and over the past four days we have seen the EUR/USD decline by the most that it has in nearly seven months. Meanwhile, scandals are erupting all over the continent. A political scandal in Spain, a derivatives scandal in Italy and banking scandals all over the eurozone are seriously shaking confidence in the system. If things move much farther in a negative direction, we could be facing a full-blown financial crisis in Europe very rapidly. So watch the financial markets in Europe very carefully. Yes, most Americans tend to ignore Europe because they are convinced that the U.S. is “the center of the universe”, but the truth is that Europe actually has a bigger population than we do, they have a bigger economy then we do, and they have a much larger banking system than we do. The global financial system is more integrated today than it ever has been before, and if there is a major stock market crash in Europe it is going to deeply affect the United States and the rest of the globe as well. So pay close attention to what is going on in Europe, because events over there could spark a chain reaction that would have very serious implications for every man, woman and child on the planet.
As I noted above, European markets started off the week very badly and things have certainly not improved since then. The following is how Zero Hedge summarized what happened on Thursday…
EuroStoxx (Europe’s Dow) closed today -1% for 2013. France, Germany, and Spain are all lower on the year now. Italy, following ENI’s CEO fraud, collapsed almost 3% from the US day-session open, leaving it up less than 1% for the year. Just as we argued, credit markets have been warning that all is not well and today’s afternoon free-fall begins the catch-down.
In addition, the euro has been dropping like a rock all of a sudden. Just check out this chart which shows what happened to the euro on Thursday. It is very rare to see the euro move that dramatically.
So what is causing all of this?
Well, we already know that the economic fundamentals in Europe are absolutely horrible. Unemployment in the eurozone is at a record high, and the unemployment rates in both Greece and Spain are over 26 percent. Those are depression-level numbers.
But up until now there had still been a tremendous amount of confidence in the European financial system. But now that confidence is being shaken by a whole host of scandals.
In recent days, a number of major banking scandals have begun to emerge all over Europe. Just check out this article which summarizes many of them.
One of the worst banking scandals is in Italy. A horrible derivatives scandal has pushed the third largest bank in Italy to the verge of collapse…
Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI), Italy’s third biggest lender, said on Wednesday losses linked to three problematic derivative trades totaled 730 million euros ($988.3 million) as it sought to draw a line under a scandal over risky financial transactions.
There is that word “derivative” that I keep telling people to watch for. Of course this is not the big “derivatives panic” that I have been talking about, but it is an example of how these toxic financial instruments can bring down even the biggest banks. Monte dei Paschi is the oldest bank in the world, and now the only way it is able to survive is with government bailouts.
Another big scandal that is shaking up Europe right now is happening over in Spain. It is being alleged that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and other members of his party have been receiving illegal cash payments. The following summary of the scandal comes from a recent Bloomberg article…
On Jan. 31, the Spanish newspaper El Pais published copies of what it said were ledgers from secret accounts held by Luis Barcenas, the former treasurer of the ruling People’s Party, which revealed the existence of a party slush fund. The newspaper said 7.5 million euros in corporate donations were channeled into the fund and allegedly doled out from 1997 to 2009 to senior party members, including Rajoy.
That doesn’t sound good at all.
So what is the truth?
Could Rajoy actually be innocent?
Well, at this point most of the population of Spain does not believe that is the case. Just check out the following poll numbers from the Bloomberg article quoted above…
According to the Metroscopia poll, 76 percent of Spaniards don’t believe the People’s Party’s denials of the slush-fund allegations. Even more damning, 58 percent of the party’s supporters think it’s lying. All of the Spanish businessmen with whom I discussed the latest scandal expect it to get worse before it gets better. Their assumption that there are more skeletons in the government’s closet indicates what little trust they have in their leaders.
Meanwhile, the underlying economic fundamentals in Europe just continue to get worse. One of the biggest concerns right now is France. Just check out this excerpt from a recent report by Phoenix Capital Research…
The house of cards that is Europe is close to collapsing as those widely held responsible for solving the Crisis (Prime Ministers, Treasurers and ECB head Mario Draghi) have all been recently implicated in corruption scandals.
Those EU leaders who have yet to be implicated in scandals are not faring much better than their more corrupt counterparts. In France, socialist Prime Minister Francois Hollande, has proven yet again that socialism doesn’t work by chasing after the wealthy and trying to grow France’s public sector… when the public sector already accounts for 56% of French employment.
France was already suffering from a lack of competitiveness. Now that wealthy businesspeople are fleeing the country (meaning investment will dry up), the economy has begun to positively implode.
As the report goes on to mention, over the past few months the economic numbers coming out of France have been absolutely frightful…
Auto sales for 2012 fell 13% from those of 2011. Sales of existing homes outside of Paris fell 20% year over year for the third quarter of 2012. New home sales fell 25%. Even the high-end real estate markets are collapsing with sales for apartments in Paris that cost over €2 million collapsing an incredible 42% in 2012.
Today, the jobless rate in France is at a 15-year high, and industrial production is headed into the toilet. The wealthy are fleeing France in droves because of the recent tax increases, and the nation is absolutely drowning in debt. Even the French jobs minister recently admitted that France is essentially “bankrupt” at this point…
France’s government was plunged into an embarrassing row yesterday after a minister said the country was ‘totally bankrupt’.
Employment secretary Michel Sapin said cuts were needed to put the damaged economy back on track.
‘There is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state,’ he said.
So what does all of this mean?
It means that the crisis in Europe is just beginning. Things are going to be getting a lot worse.
Perhaps that is one reason why corporate insiders are dumping so much stock right now as I noted in my article yesterday entitled “Do Wall Street Insiders Expect Something Really BIG To Happen Very Soon?” There are a whole host of signs that both the United States and Europe are heading for recession, and a lot of financial experts are warning that stocks are way overdue for a “correction”.
For example, Blackstone’s Byron Wien told CNBC the other day that he expects the S&P 500 to drop by 200 points during the first half of 2013.
Seabreeze Partners portfolio manager Doug Kass recently told CNBC that what is happening right now in the financial markets very much reminds him of the stock market crash of 1987…
“I’m getting the ‘summer of 1987 feeling’ in the U.S. equity market,” Kass told CNBC, “which means we’re headed for a sharp fall.”
Toward the end of 2012 and at the very beginning of 2013 we saw markets both in the U.S. and in Europe move up steadily even though the underlying economic fundamentals did not justify such a move.
In many ways, that move up reminded me of the “head fakes” that we have seen prior to many of the largest “market corrections” of the past. Often financial markets are at their most “euphoric” just before a crash hits.
So get ready.
Even if you don’t have a penny in the financial markets, now is the time to prepare for what is ahead.
We all need to learn from what Europe is going through right now. In Greece, formerly middle class citizens are now trampling one another for food. We all need to prepare financially, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically so that we can weather the economic storm that is coming.
Most Americans are accustomed to living paycheck to paycheck and being constantly up to their eyeballs in debt, but that is incredibly foolish. Even in the animal kingdom, animals work hard during the warm months to prepare for the winter months. Even so, we should all be working very hard to prepare during prosperous times so that we will have something stored up for the lean years that are coming.
Unfortunately, if events in Europe are any indication, we may be rapidly running out of time.
What would you do if all the lights went out and they never came back on? That is a question that the new NBC series “Revolution” asks, but most people have no idea that a similar thing could happen in real life at any moment. A single gigantic electromagnetic pulse over the central United States could potentially fry most of the electronics from coast to coast if it was powerful enough. This could occur in a couple of different ways. If a powerful nuclear weapon was exploded at a high enough altitude, it could produce an electromagnetic pulse powerful enough to knock out electronics all over the country. Alternatively, a massive solar storm could potentially cause a similar phenomenon to happen just about anywhere on the planet without much warning. Of course not all EMP events are created equal. An electromagnetic pulse can range from a minor inconvenience to a civilization-killing event. It just depends on how powerful it is. But in the worst case scenario, we could be facing a situation where our electrical grids have been fried, there is no heat for our homes, our computers don’t work, the Internet does not work, our cell phones do not work, there are no more banking records, nobody can use credit cards anymore, hospitals are unable to function, nobody can pump gas, and supermarkets cannot operate because there is no power and no refrigeration. Basically, we would witness the complete and total collapse of the economy. According to a government commission that looked into these things, approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population would die from starvation, disease and societal chaos within one year of a massive EMP attack. It would be a disaster unlike anything we have ever seen before in U.S. history.
Most Americans are totally clueless about what an EMP attack could do to this nation, but the threat is very real. There was even a congressional commission that studied the potential effects of an EMP attack on the United States for eight years…
The US Congress in 2000 established the Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. In 2004, the committee produced a 70-page executive summary on the EMP threat, and it issued a final report on the matter in 2008. According to the report, “several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication.”
Dr. William Graham was the chairman of that commission, and he says that an EMP attack could knock the United States back into the 1800s in just a single moment…
An EMP attack “could not only take down power grids, which are fragile anyway in this country, and telecommunications networks, and financial networks, and traffic controls and many other things, but in addition, there is a very close interrelationship among those national infrastructure capabilities,” Graham says.
“So, for example, we need telecommunications to re-establish the power network, and we need the power network to keep telecommunications going for more than a few hours. And we need the financial network to continue to operate to maintain the economy, we need the transportation system, roads, street lights, control systems, to operate just to get people to the failed power, telecommunication and other systems,” he adds.
Life after an EMP attack “would probably be something that you might imagine life to be like around the late 1800s but with several times the population we had in those days, and without the ability of the country to support and sustain all those people,” Graham says. “They wouldn’t have power. Food supplies would be greatly taken out by the lack of transportation, telecommunication, power for refrigeration and so on.”
Unfortunately, very few of us are equipped to survive in such an environment. We have become incredibly dependent on technology, and most Americans would have no idea how to do something as simple as growing their own food. Most people would be in a very serious amount of trouble in a very short period of time.
An article by Mac Slavo detailed some of the things that we could expect in the aftermath of a massive electromagnetic pulse…
The first 24 – 48 hours after such an occurrence will lead to confusion among the general population as traditional news acquisition sources like television, radio and cell phone networks will be non-functional.
Within a matter of days, once people realize the power might not be coming back on and grocery store shelves start emptying, the entire system will begin to delve into chaos.
Within 30 days a mass die off will have begun as food supplies dwindle, looters and gangs turn to violent extremes, medicine can’t be restocked and water pump stations fail.
Are you prepared for such an event?
If not, why not?
And actually, high altitude nuclear explosions and solar storms are not the only things that could produce sizable EMP bursts.
For example, the U.S. military has developed “a directed electromagnetic pulse gun” that can take out all electronics within a limited area. This kind of weapon can be fired from a plane, a cruise missile or even a drone. The following is from a recent WND article…
A pre-programmed cruise missile not too different from a drone has been proven to be capable of blasting out an EMP-type microwave that was able to destroy personal computers and electrical systems inside a building over which it was flying.
The U.S. Air Force and its contractor Boeing have created the High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, or CHAMP, which was just tested over a Utah desert.
Other nations such as Russia and China are busy developing similar weapons. The ability to instantly take out the electronics of the enemy would be a very powerful advantage.
Even North Korea has been working on this kind of technology. According to Newsmax, it is believed that they may have tested a “Super-EMP” weapon back in 2009…
North Korea’s last round of tests, conducted in May 2009, appear to have included a “super-EMP” weapon, capable of emitting enough gamma rays to disable the electric power grid across most of the lower 48 states
As this technology becomes more widespread, it will soon be accessible to just about everyone. You don’t actually need a nuclear weapon to set off a massive electromagnetic pulse. A non-nuclear pulse generator can do the same thing. If you set one off next to a power station you could potentially take out the electrical grid for an entire region.
Terrorist groups and lone wolf crazies could even use portable radio frequency weapons to do a tremendous amount of electromagnetic damage over a more limited area. The following is from a recent article by F. Michael Maloof…
Such an individual with a penchant for electronics can pull together components from a Radio Shack or electronic store – even order the components off of selected Internet websites – and fashion a radio frequency, or RF, weapon.
As microprocessors become smaller but more sophisticated, they are even more susceptible to an RF pulse. The high power microwave from an RF weapon produces a short, very high power pulse, said to be billions of watts in a nanosecond, or billionths of a second.
This so-called burst of electromagnetic waves in the gigahertz microwave frequency band can melt electrical circuitry and damage integrated circuits, causing them to fail.
Constructing a radio frequency weapon is not that difficult. In fact, you can find instructions for how to build them on the Internet.
People need to realize that we live in a world where technology is absolutely exploding and we are dealing with threats that previous generations never even dreamed of. As the world becomes increasingly unstable, it is inevitable that these kinds of weapons will be used.
It is only a matter of time.
What will life look like after an EMP weapon is used?
That is something to think about.
And we also need to keep watching the sun. It could produce a massive electromagnetic pulse at literally any moment. As I have written about previously, scientists tell us that it is only a matter of time before we are hit with a technology-crippling solar super storm.
Most people don’t even realize that the massive solar storm of 1859 fried telegraph machines all over Europe and North America. If such a storm hit us today, the damage would potentially be in the trillions of dollars. The following is from a recent New York Times article…
A powerful solar (or “geomagnetic”) storm has the potential to simultaneously damage multiple transformers in the electricity grid and perhaps even bring down large sections of it, affecting upwards of a hundred million people in the United States for many months, if not years.
These huge transformers are expensive and difficult to replace, and not many are stockpiled in the United States for an emergency. In the worst case, the impact would be devastating: An outage could cost a few trillion dollars, with full recovery taking years. Not only would parts of the grid be compromised, but telephone networks, undersea cables, satellites and railroads also would be affected.
A 2008 National Academy of Sciences study warned that “because of the interconnectedness of critical infrastructures in modern society,” the “collateral effects of a longer-term outage” would likely include “disruption of the transportation, communication, banking and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure; and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of lack of refrigeration.”
By the way, 2013 is the peak of the current solar cycle. So we are moving into a time period when conditions will be very favorable for solar storms.
Let us hope that we are never hit with a massive electromagnetic pulse that is strong enough to take out all of our electronics.
But if it did happen, and all the lights went out for good, what would you do?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below…