For the moment, our top public health officials are quite adamant that there absolutely will not be a major Ebola outbreak in the United States. But what if they are wrong? Or what would happen if terrorists released a form of weaponized Ebola or weaponized smallpox in one of our major cities? What would such an event do to our economy? I think that we can get some clues by looking at the economic collapses that are taking place in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone right now. When an extremely deadly virus like Ebola starts spreading like wildfire, the fear that it creates can be even worse for a society than the disease. All of a sudden people don’t want to go to work, people don’t want to go to school and people definitely don’t want to go shopping. There are very few things that can shut down the economy of a nation faster. Considering the fact that our big banks are being more reckless than ever, we better hope that we don’t see a “black swan event” such as a major Ebola outbreak come along and upset the apple cart. Because if that does happen, our Ponzi scheme of an economy could implode really quick.
Right now there is just one confirmed case of Ebola in Texas. If they isolated him before he infected anyone else, we might be okay for the moment. But already we are being told that there may be “a possible second Ebola patient” in Dallas…
Health officials are closely monitoring a possible second Ebola patient who had close contact with the first person to be diagnosed in the U.S., the director of Dallas County’s health department said Wednesday.
All who have been in close contact with the man officially diagnosed are being monitored as a precaution, Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said in a morning interview with WFAA-TV, Dallas-Fort Worth.
“Let me be real frank to the Dallas County residents: The fact that we have one confirmed case, there may be another case that is a close associate with this particular patient,” he said. “So this is real. There should be a concern, but it’s contained to the specific family members and close friends at this moment.”
We have learned the name of the man that is confirmed to have Ebola. His name is Thomas Eric Duncan and when he went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital last Friday, he told them that he was feeling quite ill and that he was from Liberia. You would have thought that should have set off major alarm bells. But instead, he got sent back home…
The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. initially went to a Dallas emergency room last week but was sent home, despite telling a nurse that he had been in disease-ravaged West Africa, the hospital acknowledged Wednesday.
The decision by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to release him could have put many others at risk of exposure to the disease before he went back to the ER two days later, after his condition worsened.
Thomas Eric Duncan explained to a nurse Friday that he was visiting the U.S. from Liberia, but that information was not widely shared, said Dr. Mark Lester, who works for the hospital’s parent company.
So a fully contagious Duncan had the opportunity to spread the virus around for another 48 hours before he was finally admitted to the hospital for treatment.
And it wasn’t just adults that he potentially exposed to the disease. It is being reported that he had “close contact” with five students that attend four different Dallas schools. Local media is reporting that the names of those schools are Tasby Middle School, Hotchkiss Elementary School, Dan D. Rogers Elementary and Conrad High School.
Predictably, many parents are already pulling their kids out of school in the Dallas area.
It shall be very interesting to see how many kids actually show up for school tomorrow morning.
But this is what happens to a society when the fear of Ebola takes hold. People almost immediately start shutting down their activities and staying home.
Over in West Africa, months of Ebola fear is starting to take a major toll on the economy. For example, the president of Guinea says that his economy is on the verge of complete collapse…
Guinea has been more successful in containing the Ebola epidemic than its immediate neighbors in West Africa, but the loss of revenue caused by the crisis has left the country in dire financial straits, President Alpha Condé said after concluding a round of meetings at the United Nations General Assembly.
Mr. Condé said Guinea would need about $100 million until December to cover its budget gap, which will grow if Ebola is not tackled by the end of the year.
“The slowing down of our economies due to Ebola requires that most of our countries get some budgetary support … it’s going to be crucial that we get that support so our economies don’t completely collapse,” he said.
And things are even worse in Liberia. The Washington Post says that Liberia is descending “into economic hell”…
Liberia, the West African nation hardest it by Ebola, has begun a frightening descent into economic hell.
That’s the import of three recent reports from international organizations that seem to bear out the worst-case scenarios of months ago: that people would abandon the fields and factories, that food and fuel would become scarce and unaffordable, and that the government’s already meager capacity to help, along with the nation’s prospects for a better future, would be severely compromised.
If thousands of people start getting Ebola in major cities all over America, the same thing will happen here too.
A major Ebola pandemic in America would mean an almost total economic shutdown and basic essentials would start disappearing from the marketplace almost immediately. Just check out what is happening in Liberia even as you read this…
The basic necessities of survival in Liberia — food, transportation, work, money, help from the government — are rapidly being depleted, according to recent reports by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Even though economic demand would drop through the floor for most things, prices for food and other essential supplies tend to skyrocket during a major emergency. The IMF says that the inflation rate will hit approximately 13 percent in Liberia by the end of the year even though economic activity has declined dramatically. It is going to become extremely challenging for most families over there to feed themselves.
And as economic activity withers, tax revenues also dry up. Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are all facing massive revenue shortfalls, and they are asking for international assistance.
But if the same thing happened in the United States, do you think the rest of the world would send us lots of money to help us pay our bills?
I don’t think so.
Needless to say, an Ebola outbreak is not good for financial markets either. News of the confirmed case of Ebola in Texas helped push down the Dow more than 238 points on Wednesday, and airline stocks in particular declined sharply.
If there are no more confirmed cases of Ebola in Texas, things will probably get back to normal for U.S. markets.
But if Ebola does start spreading and cases start popping up all over the country, that could be just the thing to burst our massive stock market bubble.
Let us hope that this is just a false alarm.
Let us hope that our public health authorities have everything under control.
Nobody should want to see thousands (or potentially millions) of fellow Americans get sick and die.
Unfortunately, scientists tell us that it is only a matter of time before another major pandemic of some sort ravages this nation.
When that happens, will our fragile economy be able to handle the shock?
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
The global derivatives bubble is now 20 percent bigger than it was just before the last great financial crisis struck in 2008. It is a financial bubble far larger than anything the world has ever seen, and when it finally bursts it is going to be a complete and utter nightmare for the financial system of the planet. According to the Bank for International Settlements, the total notional value of derivatives contracts around the world has ballooned to an astounding 710 trillion dollars ($710,000,000,000,000). Other estimates put the grand total well over a quadrillion dollars. If that sounds like a lot of money, that is because it is. For example, U.S. GDP is projected to be in the neighborhood of around 17 trillion dollars for 2014. So 710 trillion dollars is an amount of money that is almost incomprehensible. Instead of actually doing something about the insanely reckless behavior of the big banks, our leaders have allowed the derivatives bubble and these banks to get larger than ever. In fact, as I have written about previously, the big Wall Street banks are collectively 37 percent larger than they were just prior to the last recession. “Too big to fail” is a far more massive problem than it was the last time around, and at some point this derivatives bubble is going to burst and start taking those banks down. When that day arrives, we are going to be facing a crisis that is going to make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.
If you do not know what a derivative is, Mayra Rodríguez Valladares, a managing principal at MRV Associates, provided a pretty good definition in her recent article for the New York Times…
A derivative, put simply, is a contract between two parties whose value is determined by changes in the value of an underlying asset. Those assets could be bonds, equities, commodities or currencies. The majority of contracts are traded over the counter, where details about pricing, risk measurement and collateral, if any, are not available to the public.
In other words, a derivative does not have any intrinsic value. It is essentially a side bet. Most commonly, derivative contracts have to do with the movement of interest rates. But there are many, many other kinds of derivatives as well. People are betting on just about anything and everything that you can imagine, and Wall Street has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the planet.
After the last financial crisis, our politicians promised us that they would do something to get derivatives trading under control. But instead, the size of the derivatives bubble has reached a new record high. In the New York Times article I mentioned above, Goldman Sachs and Citibank were singled out as two players that have experienced tremendous growth in this area in recent years…
Goldman Sachs has been increasing its derivatives volumes since the crisis, and it had a portfolio of about $48 trillion at the end of 2013. Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that as part of its growth strategy, Goldman plans to sell more derivatives to clients. Citibank, too, has been increasing its derivatives portfolio, despite the numerous capital and regulatory challenges, In fact, its portfolio has risen by over 65 percent since the crisis — the most of any of the four banks — to $62 trillion.
According to official government numbers, the top 25 banks in the United States now have a grand total of more than 236 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives. But there are four banks that dwarf everyone else. The following are the latest numbers for those four banks…
Total Assets: $1,945,467,000,000 (nearly 2 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $70,088,625,000,000 (more than 70 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,346,747,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $62,247,698,000,000 (more than 62 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $1,433,716,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $38,850,900,000,000 (more than 38 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $105,616,000,000 (just a shade over 105 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $48,611,684,000,000 (more than 48 trillion dollars)
If the stock market keeps going up, interest rates stay fairly stable and the global economy does not experience a major downturn, this bubble will probably not burst for a while.
But if there is a major shock to the system, we could easily experience a major derivatives crisis very rapidly and several of those banks could fail simultaneously.
There are many out there that would welcome the collapse of the big banks, but that would also be very bad news for the rest of us.
You see, the truth is that the U.S. economy is like a very sick patient with an extremely advanced case of cancer. You can try to kill the cancer (the banks), but in the process you will inevitably kill the patient as well.
Right now, the five largest banks account for 42 percent of all loans in the entire country, and the six largest banks control 67 percent of all banking assets.
If they go down, we go down too.
That is why the fact that they have been so reckless is so infuriating.
Just look at the numbers for Goldman Sachs again. At this point, the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 460 times greater than their total assets.
And this kind of thing is not just happening in the United States. German banking giant Deutsche Bank has more than 75 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives. That is even more than any single U.S. bank has.
This derivatives bubble is a “sword of Damocles” that is hanging over the global economy by a thread day after day, month after month, year after year.
At some point that thread is going to break, the bubble is going to burst, and then all hell is going to break loose.
You see, the truth is that virtually none of the underlying problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.
Instead, our problems have just gotten even bigger and the financial bubbles have gotten even larger.
Never before in the history of the United States have we been faced with the threat of such a great financial catastrophe.
Sadly, most Americans are totally oblivious to all of this. They just have faith that our leaders know what they are doing, and they have been lulled into complacency by the bubble of false stability that we have been enjoying for the last couple of years.
Unfortunately for them, this bubble of false stability is not going to last much longer.
A financial crisis far greater than what we experienced in 2008 is coming, and it is going to shock the world.
During 2013, America continued to steadily march down a self-destructive path toward oblivion. As a society, our debt levels are completely and totally out of control. Our financial system has been transformed into the largest casino on the entire planet and our big banks are behaving even more recklessly than they did just before the last financial crisis. We continue to see thousands of businesses and millions of jobs get shipped out of the United States, and the middle class is being absolutely eviscerated. Due to the lack of decent jobs, poverty is absolutely exploding. Government dependence is at an all-time high and crime is rising. Evidence of social and moral decay is seemingly everywhere, and our government appears to be going insane. If we are going to have any hope of solving these problems, the American people need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and finally admit how bad things have actually become. If we all just blindly have faith that “everything is going to be okay”, the consequences of decades of incredibly foolish decisions are going to absolutely blindside us and we will be absolutely devastated by the great crisis that is rapidly approaching. The United States is in a massive amount of trouble, and it is time that we all started facing the truth. The following are 83 numbers from 2013 that are almost too crazy to believe…
#1 Most people that hear this statistic do not believe that it is actually true, but right now an all-time record 102 million working age Americans do not have a job. That number has risen by about 27 million since the year 2000.
#2 Because of the lack of jobs, poverty is spreading like wildfire in the United States. According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.
#3 As society breaks down, the government feels a greater need than ever before to watch, monitor and track the population. For example, every single day the NSA intercepts and permanently stores close to 2 billion emails and phone calls in addition to a whole host of other data.
#4 The Bank for International Settlements says that total public and private debt levels around the globe are now 30 percent higher than they were back during the financial crisis of 2008.
#5 According to a recent World Bank report, private domestic debt in China has grown from 9 trillion dollars in 2008 to 23 trillion dollars today.
#6 In 1985, there were more than 18,000 banks in the United States. Today, there are only 6,891 left.
#7 The six largest banks in the United States (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) have collectively gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years.
#8 The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets. The six largest banks now account for 67 percent of those assets and all of the other banks account for only 33 percent of those assets.
#9 JPMorgan Chase is roughly the size of the entire British economy.
#10 The five largest banks now account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States.
#11 Right now, four of the “too big to fail” banks each have total exposure to derivatives that is well in excess of 40 trillion dollars.
#12 The total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 381 times greater than their total assets.
#13 According to the Bank for International Settlements, the global financial system has a total of 441 trillion dollars worth of exposure to interest rate derivatives.
#14 Through the end of November, approximately 365,000 Americans had signed up for Obamacare but approximately 4 million Americans had already lost their current health insurance policies because of Obamacare.
#15 It is being projected that up to 100 million more Americans could have their health insurance policies canceled by the time Obamacare is fully rolled out.
#16 At this point, 82.4 million Americans live in a home where at least one person is enrolled in the Medicaid program.
#17 It is has been estimated that Obamacare will add 21 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#18 It is being projected that health insurance premiums for healthy 30-year-old men will rise by an average of 260 percent under Obamacare.
#19 One couple down in Texas received a letter from their health insurance company that informed them that they were being hit with a 539 percent rate increase because of Obamacare.
#20 Back in 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. Today, only 54.9 percent of all Americans are covered by employment-based health insurance.
#21 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.
#22 Incredibly, 74 percent of all the wealth in the United States is owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of all Americans.
#23 According to Consumer Reports, the number of children in the United States taking antipsychotic drugs has nearly tripled over the past 15 years.
#24 The marriage rate in the United States has fallen to an all-time low. Right now it is sitting at a yearly rate of just 6.8 marriages per 1000 people.
#25 According to a shocking new study, the average American that turned 65 this year will receive $327,500 more in federal benefits than they paid in taxes over the course of their lifetimes.
#26 In just one week in December, a combined total of more than 2000 new cold temperature and snowfall records were set in the United States.
#27 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.
#28 The rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.
#29 Only 47 percent of all adults in America have a full-time job at this point.
#30 The unemployment rate in the eurozone recently hit a new all-time high of 12.2 percent.
#31 If you assume that the labor force participation rate in the U.S. is at the long-term average, the unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.5 percent instead of 7 percent.
#32 In November 2000, 64.3 percent of all working age Americans had a job. When Barack Obama first entered the White House, 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job. Today, only 58.6 percent of all working age Americans have a job.
#33 There are 1,148,000 fewer Americans working today than there was in November 2006. Meanwhile, our population has grown by more than 16 million people during that time frame.
#34 Only 19 percent of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.
#35 Just 14 percent of all Americans believe that the stock market will rise next year.
#36 According to CNBC, Pinterest is currently valued at more than 3 billion dollars even though it has never earned a profit.
#37 Twitter is a seven-year-old company that has never made a profit. It actually lost 64.6 million dollars last quarter. But according to the financial markets it is currently worth about 22 billion dollars.
#38 Right now, Facebook is trading at a valuation that is equivalent to approximately 100 years of earnings, and it is currently supposedly worth about 115 billion dollars.
#39 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.
#40 Student loans are up by an astounding 61 percent over the past three years.
#41 At this moment, there are 6 million Americans in the 16 to 24-year-old age group that are neither in school or working.
#42 The “inactivity rate” for men in their prime working years (25 to 54) has just hit a brand new all-time record high.
#43 It is hard to believe, but in America today one out of every ten jobs is now filled by a temp agency.
#44 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.
#45 According to the Social Security Administration, 40 percent of all U.S. workers make less than $20,000 a year.
#46 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.
#47 After accounting for inflation, 40 percent of all U.S. workers are making less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.
#48 When Barack Obama took office, the average duration of unemployment in this country was 19.8 weeks. Today, it is 37.2 weeks.
#49 Investors pulled an astounding 72 billion dollars out of bond mutual funds in 2013. It was the worst year for bond funds ever.
#50 Small business is rapidly dying in America. At this point, only about 7 percent of all non-farm workers in the United States are self-employed. That is an all-time record low.
#51 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.
#52 Once January 1st hits, it will officially be illegal to manufacture or import traditional incandescent light bulbs in the United States. It is being projected that millions of Americans will attempt to stock up on the old light bulbs before they are totally gone from store shelves.
#53 The Japanese government has estimated that approximately 300 tons of highly radioactive water is being released into the Pacific Ocean from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear facility every single day.
#54 Back in 1967, the U.S. military had more than 31,000 strategic nuclear warheads. That number is already being cut down to 1,550, and now Barack Obama wants to reduce it to only about 1,000.
#55 As you read this, 60 percent of all children in Detroit are living in poverty and there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.
#56 Wal-Mart recently opened up two new stores in Washington D.C., and more than 23,000 people applied for just 600 positions. That means that only about 2.6 percent of the applicants were ultimately hired. In comparison, Harvard offers admission to 6.1 percent of their applicants.
#57 At this point, almost half of all public school students in America come from low income homes.
#58 Tragically, there are 1.2 million students that attend public schools in the United States that are homeless. That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.
#59 According to a Gallup poll that was recently released, 20.0 percent of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year. That is just under the all-time record of 20.4 percent that was set back in November 2008.
#60 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.
#61 Right now, one out of every five households in the United States is on food stamps.
#62 The U.S. economy loses approximately 9,000 jobs for every 1 billion dollars of goods that are imported from overseas.
#63 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.
#64 According to one survey, approximately 75 percent of all American women do not have any interest in dating unemployed men.
#65 China exports 4 billion pounds of food to the United States every year.
#66 Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.
#67 The number of Americans on Social Security Disability now exceeds the entire population of Greece, and the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of Spain.
#68 It is being projected that the number of Americans on Social Security will rise from 57 million today to more than 100 million in 25 years.
#69 Back in 1970, the total amount of debt in the United States (government debt + business debt + consumer debt, etc.) was less than 2 trillion dollars. Today it is over 56 trillion dollars.
#70 Back on September 30th, 2012 our national debt was sitting at a total of 16.1 trillion dollars. Today, it is up to 17.2 trillion dollars.
#71 The U.S. government “rolled over” more than 7.5 trillion dollars of existing debt in fiscal 2013.
#72 If the U.S. national debt was reduced to a stack of one dollar bills it would circle the earth at the equator 45 times.
#73 When Barack Obama was first elected, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent. Today, it is up to 101 percent.
#74 The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration. In other words, under Barack Obama the U.S. government will accumulate more debt than it did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.
#75 The federal government is borrowing (stealing) roughly 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.
#76 At this point, the U.S. already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain.
#77 Japan now has a debt to GDP ratio of more than 211 percent.
#78 As of December 5th, 83 volcanic eruptions had been recorded around the planet so far this year. That is a new all-time record high.
#79 53 percent of all Americans do not have a 3 day supply of nonperishable food and water in their homes.
#80 Violent crime in the United States was up 15 percent last year.
#81 According to a very surprising survey that was recently conducted, 68 percent of all Americans believe that the country is currently on the wrong track.
#82 Back in 1972, 46 percent of all Americans believed that “most people can be trusted”. Today, only 32 percent of all Americans believe that “most people can be trusted”.
#83 According to a recent Pew Research survey, only 19 percent of all Americans trust the government. Back in 1958, 73 percent of all Americans trusted the government.
So do you have any numbers from 2013 that you would add to this list? If so, please feel free to share them by posting a comment below…
What would you do if you logged in to your bank account one day and it showed that you had a zero balance and that your bank had absolutely no record that you ever had any money in your account at all? What would you do if hackers shut down all online banking and all ATM machines for an extended period of time? What would you do if you requested a credit report and discovered that there were suddenly 50 different versions of “you” all using the same Social Security number? Don’t think that these things can’t happen. According to Symantec, there was a 42 percent increase in cyberattacks against U.S. businesses last year. And according to a recent report in the Telegraph, big banks are being hit with cyberattacks “every minute of every day”. These attacks are becoming more powerful and more sophisticated with each passing year. Most of the time the general public never hears much about the cyberattacks that are actually successful because authorities are determined to maintain confidence in the banking system. But if people actually knew the truth about what was going on, they would not have much confidence at all.
At this point, the attacks have become so frequent that there is literally no break between them. According to the Telegraph, major financial institutions are continually under assault, and the total number of attacks is constantly increasing…
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.
The amount of money that some of these hackers are stealing is absolutely staggering. For example, during “Operation High Roller” thieves got away with somewhere between 78 million and 2.5 billion dollars…
Dissected last year, Operation High Roller marked one of the biggest online thefts to have been made public. According to details of the investigation, somewhere between $78m (£48m) and $2.5bn was last year stolen from thousands of bank accounts across Europe, the US and Latin America.
Among the customers targeted were rich individuals and high-value commercial accounts, with sophisticated software identifying the victims’ main bank accounts and transferring money to prepaid debit cards which could be cashed anonymously. Once the money had been taken, the hackers were able to hide their thefts by changing the victims’ bank balances so they appeared unaltered.
Do you find it unsettling that the authorities don’t even know how much money was actually stolen?
And earlier this year, another gang of cyberthieves was able to steal 45 million dollars from ATM machines…
A global posse of cyberthieves, armed with laptops in place of guns, hacked into financial institutions and stole $45 million from automated teller machines in a first-of-its-kind heist made for the 21st century, authorities in New York said Thursday.
Over a seven-month period ending last month, the authorities said, hackers broke into computer networks of financial companies in the United States and India and eliminated the withdrawal limits on prepaid debit cards.
Then, people involved in the heist withdrew tens of millions of dollars from ATMs in Manhattan and more than 20 other places around the world. In one case, surveillance cameras picked up a member of the “cashing crew” going from machine to machine, his cash-stuffed bag growing bigger with each hit.
But thefts involving tens of millions of dollars are just the beginning.
In the future, gangs of hackers, terror organizations or even foreign governments could use cyberattacks to bring the entire system down.
John McAfee (formerly of McAfee Associates) recently warned that we are now entering an era of apocalyptic cyberattacks. He said that in the “next world war … the aggressors will be people sitting at home in armchairs while their software turns … all of our guns, our bombs … against us.”
The truth is that it is not just our financial system that is vulnerable. Literally anything that is connected to the Internet could be attacked.
And that is a lot of stuff.
But for now, the big financial institutions remain the most prominent target. Just this week, we learned that a successful cyberattack on JPMorgan Chase resulted in the theft of the personal information of close to half a million corporate and government clients…
Personal information of nearly half a million corporate and government clients who hold prepaid cash cards issued by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) may have been compromised in a cyberattack that took place on the bank’s network in July, the bank warned on Wednesday.
Corporations use JPMorgan’s cash card, known as UCard, to pay salaries, while government agencies use it for issuing tax refunds and unemployment benefits. JPMorgan said it discovered in September that web servers supporting its site, www.ucard.chase.com, had been hacked, potentially involving unauthorized access to the personal information of 465,000 cardholders, according to a Reuters report.
The issue was soon fixed and the incident has been brought to the attention of law enforcement authorities, JPMorgan said, adding that the bank has been trying to identify how many accounts were compromised in the attack.
Of course this was not the first major “technical glitch” that JPMorgan Chase has encountered this year. In fact, earlier this year thousands upon thousands of their customers logged into their bank accounts only to discover that their balances had all been reset to zero. That problem was fixed shortly thereafter, but I guarantee you that all of the customers that witnessed that “glitch” will remember it for a very long time.
And certainly JPMorgan Chase is far from alone in dealing with these kinds of issues. In fact, major U.S. bank websites were offline for a combined total of 249 hours during just one six week period earlier this year.
When it comes to the Internet, nobody is ever entirely safe. Every major website and every major company are being targeted. According to USA Today, a cyberattack that began on October 21st has resulted in the theft of the login information for about 2 million Internet accounts…
Almost 2 million accounts on Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and other social media and Internet sites have been breached, according to a Chicago-based cybersecurity firm.
The hackers stole 1.58 million website login credentials and 320,000 e-mail account credentials, among other items, the firm Trustwave reported. Included in the breaches were thefts of 318,121 passwords from Facebook, 59,549 from Yahoo, 54,437 from Google, 21,708 from Twitter and 8,490 from LinkedIn. The list also includes 7,978 from ADP, the payroll service provider. According to a Trustwave blog, “Payroll services accounts could actually have direct financial repercussions.”
So be cautious on the Internet. The bad guys are out there, and they are becoming more sophisticated with each passing day.
And if you think that “the government will protect us”, you are just being naive.
In fact, government agencies cannot even protect themselves from these guys. For example, identity thieves have been making fools of the IRS for years…
The Internal Revenue Service sent 655 tax refunds to a single address in Kaunas, Lithuania — failing to recognize that the refunds were likely part of an identity theft scheme. Another 343 tax refunds went to a single address in Shanghai, China.
Thousands more potentially fraudulent refunds — totaling millions of dollars — went to places in Bulgaria, Ireland and Canada in 2011.
In all, a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today found 1.5 million potentially fraudulent tax returns that went undetected by the IRS, costing taxpayers $3.6 billion.
So if you are waiting for the incompetent U.S. government to fix this problem, you are going to be waiting for a very, very long while.
As a society, we are constantly becoming even more dependent on the Internet.
Meanwhile, the attacks on the Internet are continually becoming even more sophisticated.
At some point those attacks are going to cause some major league problems.
It is just a matter of time.
Did you know that the big banks have a way to legally steal your house from you even if you don’t owe a single penny on your mortgage? Big banks and hedge funds are buying billions of dollars worth of tax liens from local governments all over the nation, and they are ruthlessly foreclosing on homeowners when they can’t pay the absolutely ridiculous penalties and legal fees that are tacked on to the original tax bill. As you will see below, one 76-year-old man lost his $197,000 home that he fully owned over a $134 tax bill. A 95-year-old woman lost her $300,000 home over a $44.79 tax bill. This is a very, very dirty way to make money, and the predatory financial institutions that are involved in this business definitely do not want to talk about it.
Of course much of the blame should also be shouldered by the local governments that are coldly selling these tax liens to these ruthless predators. If local governments want to collect their tax bills, they should do it themselves. They should not be auctioning off their tax liens to cold-hearted financial institutions that are very eager to commit a legal version of highway robbery.
A few days ago, the Washington Post reported on the tragic story of a 76-year-old former Marine named Bennie Coleman. Coleman had originally purchased his home with cash, but that didn’t stop tax lien predators from stealing his home over an unpaid $134 property tax bill…
On the day Bennie Coleman lost his house, the day armed U.S. marshals came to his door and ordered him off the property, he slumped in a folding chair across the street and watched the vestiges of his 76 years hauled to the curb.
Movers carted out his easy chair, his clothes, his television. Next came the things that were closest to his heart: his Marine Corps medals and photographs of his dead wife, Martha. The duplex in Northeast Washington that Coleman bought with cash two decades earlier was emptied and shuttered. By sundown, he had nowhere to go.
All because he didn’t pay a $134 property tax bill.
So why couldn’t he pay such a small bill?
Well, as the Post explained, these big banks and hedge funds keep tacking on interest, penalties and legal fees until the tax bills are many times the size that they originally were. When the distressed homeowners can’t come up with thousands of dollars to pay off the debts, the big banks and the hedge funds move in for the kill…
For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on top of the tax debt until the money was repaid.
But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post investigation found.
In particular, hedge funds have discovered that this is a great way to make huge piles of money. The following is a short excerpt from a CNN article that was published back in May…
With buyers identified only by numbers or unrelated names, the fragmented, unregulated industry is opaque. Even the market’s size is debated — $15 billion a year, according to Howard Liggett, the chief executive of Distressed Real Estate Consulting Services, or $5 billion a year, according to the National Tax Lien Association, a trade group. While returns are a closely kept secret, investors typically make between 2.5% and 10% a year, or in the low teens for larger buys.
“The hedge funds are chasing yield in this business” says Albert Friedman, a principal at Alterna Capital, an alternative investment firm in Boca Raton that buys tax liens.
Insiders estimate hedge funds now control 40% of the tax-lien market, from under 5% five years ago, with regional banks, obscure partnerships sporting names like God’s ATM LLC, and mom-and-pop investors making up the rest.
And a number of “too big to fail” banks are involved in this business as well.
In a previous article, I described exactly how this works…
1) The big Wall Street banks set up or invest in shell companies that will disguise who they really are.
2) These shell companies run around and buy up all of the tax liens that they can get their hands on.
3) Predatory levels of interest (in some states as high as 18 percent), fees and penalties rapidly pile up on these unpaid tax liens. The affected homeowners quickly end up owing much, much more than what the original tax bills were for.
4) If the collecting firm has to hire a lawyer, then that gets charged to the homeowner as well. The bloated legal fees for some of these lawyers can end up being the biggest expense of all.
5) If the tax liens do not get paid, the collecting firms move in to foreclose as quickly as legally possible.
According to the Huffington Post, Wall Street banks such as Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have been gobbling up several hundred thousand tax liens from local governments. It appears that “distressed housing markets” are being particularly targeted.
Many of these tax liens are sold in online auctions, so it is unclear if many local government officials even realize who the big money behind many of these shell companies is.
These big financial institutions may consider this to be “good business”, but the truth is that they are absolutely shattering lives in the process. This is particularly true when it comes to older people that do not fully understand what is happening to them. Just consider the following examples from a recent Washington Post article…
A 48-year-old math teacher paid his taxes in 2007, but the tax office took his $1,400 payment and applied it to the wrong house, crediting an entirely different taxpayer.
A 58-year-old bank employee almost lost her house in 2010 because the tax office mistakenly sent bills and notices to a wooded lot across from a strip shopping center in Virginia — 12 times.
A 69-year-old hat designer was given the wrong payoff amount and ended up in court to save her property, owned by her family since 1943.
Those homeowners found out about the mistakes in time to fight. Ninety-five-year-old Daisy Dolsey, living in a nursing home and struggling with Alzheimer’s, wasn’t so lucky: She lost her $300,000 house over a $44.79 tax debt even after she paid her taxes.
Doesn’t that just sicken you?
And then the big banks and the hedge funds have the gall to wonder why people dislike them so much.
In this day and age, large financial institutions have become more cold-hearted than ever before.
Always make sure that your property taxes are fully paid, and always keep a paper record of all financial transactions involving your home.
If you do slip up and make a mistake at some point, there is a very good chance that a ruthless financial institution will try to swoop in and steal your home right out from under your nose.
Will rapidly rising interest rates rip through the U.S. financial system like a giant lawnmower blade? Yes, the U.S. economy survived much higher interest rates in the past, but at that time there were not hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of interest rate derivatives hanging over our financial system like a Sword of Damocles. This is something that I have been talking about for quite some time, and now a Mexican billionaire has come forward with a similar warning. Hugo Salinas Price was the founder of the Elektra retail chain down in Mexico, and he is extremely concerned that rising interest rates could burst the derivatives bubble and cause “massive bankruptcies around the globe”. Of course there are a whole lot of people out there that would be quite glad to see the “too big to fail” banks go bankrupt, but the truth is that if they go down our entire economy will go down with them. Our situation is similar to a patient with a very advanced stage of cancer. You can try to kill the cancer with drugs, but you will almost certainly kill the patient at the same time. Well, that is essentially what our relationship with the big banks is like. Our entire economic system is based on credit, and just like we saw back in 2008, if the big banks start failing credit freezes up and suddenly nobody can get any money for anything. When the next great credit crunch comes, every important number in our economy will rapidly start getting much worse.
The big banks are going to play a starring role in the next financial crash just like they did in the last one. Only this next crash may be quite a bit worse. Just check out what billionaire Hugo Salinas Price told King World News recently…
I think we are going to see a series of bankruptcies. I think the rise in interest rates is the fatal sign which is going to ignite a derivatives crisis. This is going to bring down the derivatives system (and the financial system).
There are (over) one quadrillion dollars of derivatives and most of them are related to interest rates. The spiking of interest rates in the United States may set that off. What is going to happen in the world is eventually we are going to come to a moment where there is going to be massive bankruptcies around the globe.
What is going to be left after the dust settles is gold, and some people are going to have it and some people are not. Then the problem is going to be to hold on to what you’ve got because it’s not going to be a very pleasant world.
Right now, there are about 441 trillion dollars of interest rate derivatives sitting out there. If interest rates stay about where they are right now and they don’t go much higher, we will be fine. But if they start going much higher, all bets will be off and we could see financial carnage on a scale that we have never seen before.
And at the moment the big banks have got to behave themselves because the government is investigating allegations that they have been cheating pension funds and other investors out of millions of dollars by manipulating the trading of interest rate derivatives. The following is from an article that the Telegraph posted on Friday…
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is probing 15 banks over allegations that they instructed brokers to carry out trades that would move ISDAfix, the leading benchmark rate for interest rate swaps.
Pension funds and companies who invest in interest rate derivatives often deal with banks to insure against big movements in the ISDAfix rate or to speculate on changes to interest rate swaps
ISDAfix is published each morning after banks submit bids for swaps via Icap, the inter-dealer broker, in a number of currencies. The CFTC has been investigating suggestions that the banks deliberately moved the rate in order to profit on these deals.
Given the hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of interest rate derivatives trades that occur annually, even the slightest manipulation can have a substantial effect. The CFTC, which started to investigate ISDAfix after last summer’s Libor scandal has now been handed emails and phone call recordings that show the rate was deliberately moved, according to Bloomberg.
Essentially they got their hands caught in the cookie jar and so they have got to play it straight (at least for now).
Meanwhile, it looks like the Fed may not be able to keep long-term interest rates down for much longer.
The Federal Reserve has been using quantitative easing to try to keep long-term interest rates low, but now some officials over at the Fed are becoming extremely alarmed about how bloated the Fed balance sheet has become. For example, the following was recently written by the head of the Dallas Fed, Richard Fisher…
This later program is referred to as quantitative easing, or QE, by the public and as large-scale asset purchases, or LSAPs, internally at the Fed. As a result of LSAPs conducted over three stages of QE, the Fed’s System Open Market Account now holds $2 trillion of Treasury securities and $1.3 trillion of agency and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Since last fall, when we initiated the third stage of QE, we have regularly been purchasing $45 billion a month of Treasuries and $40 billion a month in MBS, meanwhile reinvesting the proceeds from the paydowns of our mortgage-based investments. The result is that our balance sheet has ballooned to more than $3.5 trillion. That’s $3.5 trillion, or $11,300 for every man, woman and child residing in the United States.
Fisher has compared the current Fed balance sheet to a “Gordian Knot”, and he hopes that the Fed will be able to unwind this knot without creating “market havoc”…
The point is: We own a significant slice of these critical markets. This is, indeed, something of a Gordian Knot.
Those of you familiar with the Gordian legend know there were two versions to it: One holds that Alexander the Great simply dispatched with the problem by slicing the intractable knot in half with his sword; the other posits that Alexander pulled the knot out of its pole pin, exposed the two ends of the cord and proceeded to untie it. According to the myth, the oracles then divined that he would go on to conquer the world.
There is no Alexander to simply slice the complex knot that we have created with our rounds of QE. Instead, when the right time comes, we must carefully remove the program’s pole pin and gingerly unwind it so as not to prompt market havoc. For starters though, we need to stop building upon the knot. For this reason, I have advocated that we socialize the idea of the inevitability of our dialing back and eventually ending our LSAPs. In June, I argued for the Chairman to signal this possibility at his last press conference and at last week’s meeting suggested that we should gird our loins to make our first move this fall. We shall see if that recommendation obtains with the majority of the Committee.
But of course it should be obvious to everyone that the Fed is not going to be able to reduce the size of its balance sheet without causing huge distress in the financial markets. A few weeks ago, just the suggestion that the Fed may eventually begin to slow down the pace of quantitative easing caused the markets to throw an epic temper tantrum.
Unfortunately, the Fed may not be able to keep control of long-term interest rates even if they continue quantitative easing indefinitely. Over the past several weeks long-term interest rates have been rising steadily, and the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries crept a bit higher on Monday.
At this point, many on Wall Street are convinced that the bull market for bonds is over and that rates will eventually go much, much higher than they are right now no matter what the Fed does. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNBC article…
The Federal Reserve will lose control of interest rates as the “great rotation” out of bonds into equities takes off in full force, according to one market watcher, who sees U.S. 10-year Treasury yields hitting 5-6 percent in the next 18-24 months.
“It is our opinion that interest rates have begun their assent, that the Fed will eventually lose control of interest rates. The yield curve will first steepen and then will shift, moving rates significantly higher,” said Mike Crofton, President and CEO, Philadelphia Trust Company told CNBC on Wednesday.
If the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries does hit 6 percent, we are going to have a major disaster on our hands.
Hugo Salinas Price is exactly right – the derivatives bubble is the number one threat that our financial system is facing, and it could potentially bring down a whole bunch of our big banks.
But for the moment, Wall Street is still in a euphoric mood. The Dow is near a record high and many investors are hoping that this rally will last for the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t count on that happening. The truth is that the stock market has become completely divorced from economic reality.
Since March 2009, the size of the U.S. economy has grown by approximately $1.3 trillion, but stock market wealth has grown by an astounding $12 trillion.
And the stock market has just kept on rising even though GDP growth forecasts have been steadily falling.
It doesn’t make any sense.
But Obama, Bernanke and the wizards on Wall Street assure us that there is no end to the party in sight.
Believe them at your own peril.
The people at the controls are completely and totally clueless and we are rapidly careening toward disaster.
Perhaps we should do what one little town in Minnesota did and put a 4-year-old kid in charge.
That kid certainly could not be much worse than our current leadership, don’t you think?
Are the big banks really as powerful as some people say that they are? Do they really control the global economy? If y0u asked most people, they would tell you that governments control the global economy. But the campaigns of our politicians are funded by the ultra-wealthy, the big banks and the large corporations that they control. Others would tell you that the Federal Reserve and the rest of the central banks around the world control the global economy. But the truth is that the Federal Reserve was established by the bankers and for the benefit of the bankers. As you will see below, at the very core of the global economy there exists a “super-entity” of financial institutions that control an almost unimaginable amount of wealth and power. These financial institutions and the ultra-wealthy individuals behind them are really the ones that are pulling all the strings. In this world money equals power, and the borrower is the servant of the lender. When you follow the pyramid all the way to the top, it begins to become very clear who really is in control.
In business schools all over America today, instead of dreaming of starting new businesses and contributing something positive to society, most business students are dreaming of going to Wall Street and getting rich. But Wall Street doesn’t actually create or build anything of value for society. Instead, the bankers make most of their profits by essentially pushing money and paper around. In a recent article, Chris Martenson commented on this…
Today, some of the most celebrated individuals and institutions are ensconced within the financial industry; in banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms. Which is odd because none of these firms or individuals actually make anything, which society might point to as additive to our living standards. Instead, these financial magicians harvest value from the rest of society that has to work hard to produce real things of real value.
While the work they do is quite sophisticated and takes a lot of skill, very few of these firms direct capital to new efforts, new products, and new innovations. Instead they either trade in the secondary markets for equities, bonds, derivatives, and the like, which perform the ‘service’ of moving paper from one location to another while generating ‘profits.’ Or, in the case of banks, they create money out of thin air and lend it out – at interest of course.
But just because they aren’t adding much value to society does not mean that these big banks are not extremely powerful. In fact, anyone that underestimates that power of these monolithic financial institutions is being quite foolish.
A team of researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich studied the relationships between 37 million companies and investors worldwide, and what they found was absolutely stunning.
What they discovered is that there is a “super-entity” of just 147 very tightly knit companies that controls 40 percent of the entire network…
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.
So exactly who are the companies that are at the core of this “super-entity”?
Well, almost all of them are banks or financial institutions. The following is a list of the 50 “most connected” companies from the study, and the notes in parentheses are from Chris Martenson…
1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc (Investment Management)
3. FMR Corporation (Financial Services)
4. AXA (Investments & Life Insurance)
5. State Street Corporation (Investment Management)
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co (Bank)
7. Legal & General Group plc (Investments & Life Insurance)
8. Vanguard Group Inc (Investment Management)
9. UBS AG (Bank)
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc (Bank)
11. Wellington Management Co LLP (Investment Management)
12. Deutsche Bank AG (Bank)
13. Franklin Resources Inc (Investment Management)
14. Credit Suisse Group (Bank)
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp (Bank)
17. Natixis (Investment Management)
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc (Bank)
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc (Investment Management)
20. Legg Mason Inc (Investment Management)
21. Morgan Stanley (Bank)
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (Bank)
23. Northern Trust Corporation (Investment Management)
24. Société Générale (Bank)
25. Bank of America Corporation (Bank)
26. Lloyds TSB Group plc (Bank)
27. Invesco plc (Investment mgmt) 28. Allianz SE 29. TIAA (Investments & Insurance)
30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company (Investments & Insurance)
31. Aviva plc (Insurance)
32. Schroders plc (Investment Management)
33. Dodge & Cox (Investment Management)
34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc* (Bank)
35. Sun Life Financial Inc (Investments & Insurance)
36. Standard Life plc (Investments & Insurance)
38. Nomura Holdings Inc (Investments and Financial Services)
39. The Depository Trust Company (Securities Depository)
40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
41. ING Groep NV (Bank, Investments & Insurance)
42. Brandes Investment Partners LP (Financial Services)
43. Unicredito Italiano SPA (Bank)
44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan (Owns a lot of banks’ shares in Japan)
45. Vereniging Aegon (Investments & Insurance)
46. BNP Paribas (Bank)
47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc (Owns stakes in 27 money management firms)
48. Resona Holdings Inc (Banking Group in Japan)
49. Capital Group International Inc (Investments and Financial Services)
50. China Petrochemical Group Company
Are you starting to get the idea?
The global economy truly is completely dominated by banks and other financial institutions.
In the United States, the big banks are not just content to own other companies anymore. Now, some of our largest banks are actually starting to directly get into businesses such as “electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining”. The following is an excerpt from a letter that several members of the U.S. Congress recently sent to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke…
We write in regards to the expansion of large banks into what had traditionally been non-financial commercial spheres. Specifically, we are concerned about how large banks have recently expanded their businesses into such fields as electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining.
Here are a few examples. Morgan Stanley imported 4 million barrels of oil and petroleum products into the United States in June, 2012. Goldman Sachs stores aluminum in vast warehouses in Detroit as well as serving as a commodities derivatives dealer. This “bank” is also expanding into the ownership and operation of airports, toll roads, and ports. JP Morgan markets electricity in California.
In other words, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley are no longer just banks – they have effectively become oil companies, port and airport operators, commodities dealers, and electric utilities as well. This is causing unforeseen problems for the industrial sector of the economy. For example, Coca Cola has filed a complaint with the London Metal Exchange that Goldman Sachs was hoarding aluminum. JP Morgan is currently being probed by regulators for manipulating power prices in California, where the “bank” was marketing electricity from power plants it controlled. We don’t know what other price manipulation could be occurring due to potential informational advantages accruing to derivatives dealers who also market and sell commodities. The long shadow of Enron could loom in these activities.
You can read the rest of their letter right here.
This week, Goldman Sachs has been facing allegations that it has cost American consumers billions of dollars by manipulating the price of aluminum. The following is from an article that was posted on CNBC…
Hundreds of millions of times a day, thirsty Americans open a can of soda, beer or juice. And every time they do it, they pay a fraction of a penny more because of a shrewd maneuver by Goldman Sachs and other financial players that ultimately costs consumers billions of dollars.
The story of how this works begins in 27 industrial warehouses in the Detroit area where Goldman stores customers’ aluminum. Each day, a fleet of trucks shuffles 1,500-pound bars of the metal among the warehouses. Two or three times a day, sometimes more, the drivers make the same circuits. They load in one warehouse. They unload in another. And then they do it again.
This industrial dance has been choreographed by Goldman to exploit pricing regulations set up by an overseas commodities exchange, an investigation by The New York Times has found. The back–and-forth lengthens the storage time. And that adds many millions a year to the coffers of Goldman, which owns the warehouses and charges rent to store the metal. It also increases prices paid by manufacturers and consumers across the country.
If that sounds shady to you, that is because it is shady.
But as the big banks continue to gain even more power in our society, this kind of thing will become even more common.
So what can we do about it?
Do you think that the media will tell us the truth about all of this? I wouldn’t count on it. At this point, there are just six giant media corporations that control more than 90 percent of the news and entertainment that you see on your television. And those six giant media corporations are very hesitant to do anything that will damage their corporate owners or their corporate advertisers.
Do you think that our politicians will do anything about all of this? I wouldn’t count on it. In national elections, the candidate that raises more money wins more than 80 percent of the time. Our politicians know where their bread is buttered, and as history has shown most of them are very good to the guys with the big checkbooks.
As I said at the top of this article, money is power, and 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.
The global economy belongs to them. We are just living in it.
But hopefully if enough people start waking up, someday we will see some significant changes.
One of my favorite musical artists of all-time, Michael W. Smith, once wrote a song that contained the following lyrics…
Tell me, how long will we grovel at the feet of wealth and power?
Tell me, how long will we bow down to that golden calf, now?
(How long will be too long)
Will the people of the world ever get sick and tired of the overwhelming power of the big banks and start demanding changes?
That is a very good question. Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…