Are The Government And The Big Banks Quietly Preparing For An Imminent Financial Collapse?

Something really strange appears to be happening.  All over the globe, governments and big banks are acting as if they are anticipating an imminent financial collapse.  Unfortunately, we are not privy to the quiet conversations that are taking place in corporate boardrooms and in the halls of power in places such as Washington D.C. and London, so all we can do is try to make sense of all the clues that are all around us.  Of course it is completely possible to misinterpret these clues, but sticking our heads in the sand is not going to do any good either.  Last week, it was revealed that the U.S. government has been secretly directing five of the biggest banks in America “to develop plans for staving off collapse” for the last two years.  By itself, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  But when you add that piece to the dozens of other clues of imminent financial collapse, a very troubling picture begins to emerge.  Over the past 12 months, hundreds of banking executives have been resigning, corporate insiders have been selling off enormous amounts of stock, and I have been personally told that a significant number of Wall Street bankers have been shopping for “prepper properties” in rural communities this summer.  Meanwhile, there have been reports that the U.S. government has been stockpiling food and ammunition, and Barack Obama has been signing a whole bunch of executive orders that would potentially be implemented in the event of a major meltdown of society.  So what does all of this mean?  It could mean something or it could mean nothing.  What we do know is that a financial collapse is coming at some point.  Over the past 40 years, the total amount of all debt in the United States has grown from about 2 trillion dollars to nearly 55 trillion dollars.  That is a recipe for financial armageddon, and it is inevitable that this gigantic bubble of debt is going to burst at some point.

In normal times, the U.S. government does not tell major banks to “develop plans for staving off collapse”.

But according to a recent Reuters article, that is apparently exactly what has been happening….

U.S. regulators directed five of the country’s biggest banks, including Bank of America Corp and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, to develop plans for staving off collapse if they faced serious problems, emphasizing that the banks could not count on government help.

The two-year-old program, which has been largely secret until now, is in addition to the “living wills” the banks crafted to help regulators dismantle them if they actually do fail. It shows how hard regulators are working to ensure that banks have plans for worst-case scenarios and can act rationally in times of distress.

Does it seem odd to anyone else that only five really big banks got such a warning?

And why keep it secret from the American public?

Does the federal government actually expect such a collapse to happen?

If federal officials do expect a financial collapse to occur, they would not be the only ones.  An increasing number of very respected economists are speaking about the coming financial collapse as if there is a certain inevitability about it.

For example, check out the following quote from a recent Money Morning article….

Richard Duncan, formerly of the World Bank and chief economist at Blackhorse Asset Mgmt., says America’s $16 trillion federal debt has escalated into a “death spiral,” as he told CNBC.

And it could result in a depression so severe that he doesn’t “think our civilization could survive it.”

A former World Bank executive is warning that our civilization might not survive what is coming?

That is pretty chilling.

Economist Nouriel Roubini says that he believes that the coming crisis will be even worse than 2008….

“Worse because like 2008 you will have an economic and financial crisis but unlike 2008, you are running out of policy bullets. In 2008, you could cut rates; do QE1, QE2; you could do fiscal stimulus; you could backstop/ringfence/guarantee banks and everybody else. Today, more QEs are becoming less and less effective because the problems are of solvency not liquidity. Fiscal deficits are already so large and you cannot bail out the banks because 1) there is a political opposition to it; and 2) governments are near-insolvent – they cannot bailout themselves let alone their banks. The problem is that we are running out of policy rabbits to pull out of the hat!”

Across the pond, many European officials are echoing similar sentiments.

What Nigel Farage told King World News the other day is very ominous….

Today MEP (Member European Parliament) Nigel Farage spoke with King World News about what he described as the possibility of, “a really dramatic banking collapse.”  Farage also warned that central planners want to enslave and imprison people inside of a ‘New Order,’ and he described the situation as “horrifying.”

The situation in Europe continues to get worse and worse.  The authorities in Europe have come out with “solution” after “solution”, and yet unemployment continues to skyrocket and economic conditions in the EU have deteriorated very steadily over the past 12 months.

If all of that was not bad enough, there are an increasing number of indications that Germany is actually considering leaving the euro.

Needless to say, that would be a complete and total disaster for the rest of the eurozone.

Of course there are any number of ways that the financial crisis in Europe could potentially play out.

But all of the realistic scenarios would be very bad for the global economy.

Meanwhile, our resources are dwindling, war in the Middle East could erupt at any moment and our planet is becoming increasingly unstable.  The following is from a recent article by Paul B. Farrell on Marketwatch.com….

Fasten your seat belts, soon we’ll all be shocked out of denial. Some unpredictable black swan. A global wake-up call will trigger the Pentagon’s prediction in Fortune a decade ago at the launch of the Iraq War: “By 2020 … an ancient pattern of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies is emerging … warfare defining human life.”

It is almost as if a “perfect storm” is brewing.

Of course the historic drought that is ravaging food production in the United States this summer is not helping matters either.  Another summer or two like this one and we could be looking at a return of Dust Bowl conditions.

Anyone that is watching what is going on in the world and is not concerned at all about what is happening is simply being delusional.

Recently, a “team of scientists, economists, and geopolitical analysts” examined the current state of the global economic system and the conclusions they reached were absolutely staggering….

One member of this team, Chris Martenson, a pathologist and former VP of a Fortune 300 company, explains their findings:

“We found an identical pattern in our debt, total credit market, and money supply that guarantees they’re going to fail. This pattern is nearly the same as in any pyramid scheme, one that escalates exponentially fast before it collapses. Governments around the globe are chiefly responsible.

“And what’s really disturbing about these findings is that the pattern isn’t limited to our economy. We found the same catastrophic pattern in our energy, food, and water systems as well.”

According to Martenson: “These systems could all implode at the same time. Food, water, energy, money. Everything.”

Hmmmm – it sounds like they have been reading The Economic Collapse Blog.

The truth is that a massive worldwide financial collapse is coming.

It is inevitable, and it is going to be extremely painful.

So what do you think about all of this?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

Too Big To Fail?: 10 Banks Own 77 Percent Of All U.S. Banking Assets

Back during the financial crisis of 2008, the American people were told that the largest banks in the United States were “too big to fail” and that was why it was necessary for the federal government to step in and bail them out.  The idea was that if several of our biggest banks collapsed at the same time the financial system would not be strong enough to keep things going and economic activity all across America would simply come to a standstill.  Congress was told that if the “too big to fail” banks did not receive bailouts that there would be chaos in the streets and this country would plunge into another Great Depression.  Since that time, however, essentially no efforts have been made to decentralize the U.S. banking system.  Instead, the “too big to fail” banks just keep getting larger and larger and larger.  Back in 2002, the top 10 banks controlled 55 percent of all U.S. banking assets.  Today, the top 10 banks control 77 percent of all U.S. banking assets.  Unfortunately, these giant banks are also colossal mountains of risk, debt and leverage.  They are incredibly unstable and they could start coming apart again at any time.  None of the major problems that caused the crash of 2008 have been fixed.  In fact, the U.S. banking system is more centralized and more vulnerable today than it ever has been before.

It really is difficult for ordinary Americans to get a handle on just how large these financial institutions are.  For example, the “big six” U.S. banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo) now possess assets equivalent to approximately 60 percent of America’s gross national product.

These huge banks are giant financial vacuum cleaners.  Over the past couple of decades we have witnessed a financial consolidation in this country that is absolutely unprecedented.

This trend accelerated during the recent financial crisis.  While the big boys were receiving massive bailouts, the hundreds of small banks that were failing were either allowed to collapse or they were told that they should find a big bank that was willing to buy them.

As a group, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo held approximately 22 percent of all banking deposits in FDIC-insured institutions back in 2000.

By the middle of 2009 that figure was up to 39 percent.

That is not just a trend – that is a landslide.

Sadly, smaller banks continue to fail in large numbers and the big banks just keep growing and getting more power.

Today, there are more than 1,000 U.S. banks that are on the “unofficial list” of problem banking institutions.

In the absence of fundamental changes, the consolidation of the banking industry is going to continue.

Meanwhile, the “too big to fail” banks are flush with cash and they are getting serious about expanding.  The Federal Reserve has been extremely good to the big boys and they are eager to grow.

For example, Citigroup is becoming extremely aggressive about expanding….

Citigroup has been hiring dozens of investment bankers, dialing up advertising and drawing up plans to add several hundred branches worldwide, including more than 200 in major cities across the United States.

Hopefully the big banks will start lending again.  The whole idea behind the bailouts and all of the “quantitative easing” that the Federal Reserve did was to get money into the hands of the big banks so that they would lend it out to ordinary Americans and get the economy rolling again.

Well, a funny thing happened.  The big banks just sat on a lot of that money.

In particular, what they did was they deposited much of it at the Fed and drew interest on it.

Since 2008, excess reserves parked at the Fed have grown by nearly 1.7 trillion dollars.  Just check out the chart posted below….

The American people were promised that TARP and all of the other bailouts would enable the big banks to lend out lots of money which would help get the economy going for ordinary Americans again.

Well, it turns out that in 2009 (the first full year after Congress passed the bailout legislation) U.S. banks posted their sharpest decline in lending since 1942.

Lending has never fully recovered since the crash of 2008.  The big financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase have been able to get all the cash that they need, but they have not passed that generosity along to ordinary Americans.

In fact, the biggest U.S. banks have actually reduced small business lending by about 50 percent since the crash of 2008.

That doesn’t sound like what we were promised.

These “too big to fail” banks have been able to borrow gigantic amounts of money from the Fed for next to nothing and yet they still refuse to let credit flow to local communities.  Instead, the big banks have found other purposes for all of the super cheap money that they have been getting from the Fed as Ellen Brown recently explained….

It can be very profitable indeed for the big Wall Street banks, but the purpose of the near-zero interest rates was supposed to be to get banks to lend again. Instead, they are, indeed, paying “outrageous bonuses to their top executives;” using the money to engage in the same sort of unregulated speculation that nearly brought down the economy in 2008; buying up smaller banks; or investing this virtually interest-free money in risk-free government bonds, on which taxpayers are paying 2.5 percent interest (more for longer-term securities).

What makes things even worse is that these big banks often pay next to nothing in taxes.

For example, between 2008 and 2010, Wells Fargo made a total profit of 49.37 billion dollars.

Over that same time period, their tax bill was negative 681 million dollars.

Do you understand what that means?  Over that 3 year time period, Wells Fargo actually got 681 million dollars back from the U.S. government.

Isn’t that just peachy?

Meanwhile, the big financial giants have not learned their lessons and they continue to do business pretty much as they did it prior to 2008.

The big banks continue to roll up massive amounts of risk, debt and leverage.

Today, Wall Street has become one giant financial casino.  More money is made on Wall Street by making side bets (commonly referred to as “derivatives“) than on the investments themselves.

If the bets pay off for the big financial institutions, mind blowing profits can be made.  But if the bets go against the big financial institutions (as we saw in 2008), firms can collapse almost overnight.

In fact, it was derivatives that almost brought down AIG.  The biggest insurance company in the world almost folded in 2008 because of a whole bunch of really bad bets.

The danger from derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”.  It has been estimated that the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market is somewhere in the neighborhood of a quadrillion dollars.

The largest banks have tens of trillions of dollars of exposure to derivatives.  When the next great financial collapse happens, derivatives will almost certainly be at the center of it once again.  These side bets do not create anything real for the economy – they just make and lose huge amounts of money.  We never know when the next great derivatives crisis will strike.  Derivatives are essentially like a “sword of Damocles” that perpetually hangs over the U.S. financial system.

When I start talking about derivatives I get a lot of people in the financial community mad at me.  On Wall Street today you can bet on just about anything you can imagine.  Almost everyone in the financial world has gotten so used to making wild bets that they couldn’t even imagine a world without them.  If anyone even tried to put significant limits on futures, options and swaps it would cause Wall Street to throw a hissy fit.

But someday the dominoes are going to start to fall and the house of cards is going to come crashing down.  It is an open secret that our financial system is fundamentally unsound.  Even a lot of people working on Wall Street will admit that.  It is just that people are so busy making such big piles of money that nobody wants the party to stop.

It is only a matter of time until some of these big banks get into a huge amount of trouble again.  When that happens, we might really find out whether they are “too big to fail” or whether we could get along just fine without them.

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