Birth Pangs Of The Coming Great Depression

Birth PangsThe signs of the times are everywhere – all you have to do is open up your eyes and look at them.  When a pregnant woman first goes into labor, the birth pangs are usually fairly moderate and are not that close together.  But as the time for delivery approaches, they become much more frequent and much more intense.  Economically, what we are experiencing right now are birth pangs of the coming Great Depression.  As we get closer to the crisis that is looming on the horizon, they will become even more powerful.  This week, we learned that the Baltic Dry Index has fallen to the lowest level that we have seen in 29 years.  The Baltic Dry Index also crashed during the financial collapse of 2008, but right now it is already lower than it was at any point during the last financial crisis.  In addition, “Dr. Copper” and other industrial commodities continue to plunge.  This almost always happens before we enter an economic downturn.  Meanwhile, as I mentioned the other day, orders for durable goods are declining.  This is also a traditional indicator that a recession is approaching.  The warning signs are there – we just have to be open to what they are telling us.

And of course there are so many more parallels between past economic downturns and what is happening right now.

For example, volatility has returned to the markets in a big way.  On Tuesday the Dow was down about 300 points, on Wednesday it was down another couple hundred points, and then on Thursday it was up a couple hundred points.

This is precisely how markets behave just before they crash.  When markets are calm, they tend to go up.  When markets get really choppy and start behaving erratically, that tells us that a big move down is usually coming.

At the same time, almost every major global currency is imploding.  For much more on this, see the amazing charts in this article.

In particular, I am greatly concerned about the collapse of the euro.  The Swiss would not have decoupled their currency from the euro if it was healthy.  And political events in Greece are certainly not going to help things either.  Economic conditions across Europe just continue to get worse, and the future of the eurozone itself is very much in doubt at this point.  And if the eurozone does break up, a European economic depression is almost virtually assured – at least in the short term.

And I haven’t even mentioned the oil crash yet.

There is only one other time in all of history when the price of oil collapsed by more than 60 dollars, and that was just prior to the horrific financial crisis of 2008.

Since the last financial crisis, the oil industry has been a huge source for job growth in this country.  The following is an excerpt from a recent CNN article

The oil sector has added over a half million jobs — many of them high paying — since the recession ended in June 2009. That’s 13% of all US job growth over that period.

Now energy companies and related sectors are laying off thousands. Expect that trend to continue, bears say.

But losing good jobs is just the tip of the iceberg of this oil crisis.

At this point, the price of oil has already dropped to a catastrophically low level.  The longer it stays at this level, the more damage that it is going to do.  If the price of oil stays at this level for all of 2015, we are going to have a complete and total financial nightmare on our hands

For the first time in 18 years, oil exporters are pulling liquidity out of world markets rather than putting money in. The world is now fast approaching a world reserve currency shift. If we see 8 to 12 months at these oil prices; U.S. shale industry will be wiped out. The effect on junk bonds will cascade to the rest of the stock market and U.S. economy.

…and this time there will be nothing left to catch the falling knife before it hits the American economy right in the heart. Not the FED nor the U.S. government can stop what’s coming. Liquidity will freeze up, our credit will be downgraded, the stock market will start to collapse, and then we can expect the FED to come in and hyper-inflate the dollar. This will cause the world to finish abandoning the world reserve currency in the last rungs of trade. This will be the end of the petrodollar.

Something that I have not discussed so far this year is the looming crisis in emerging market debt.

As economic problems spread around the world, a number of “emerging markets” are in danger of having their debt downgraded.  And many investment funds have rules that prohibit them from holding any debt that is not “investment grade”.  Therefore, we could potentially see some of these giant funds dumping massive amounts of emerging market debt if downgrades happen.

This is a really big deal.  As a Business Insider article recently detailed, we could be talking about hundreds of billions of dollars…

Russia this week became the first of the major economies to lose its investment grade status from Standard & Poor’s, falling out off the top ratings category for credits deemed to have a low risk of default for the first time in a decade.

If Moody’s and Fitch follow, conservative investors barred from owning junk securities must sell their holdings. JPMorgan estimates this means they may ditch $6 billion in Russian government rouble and dollar debt.

Russia may have company. Almost $260 billion worth of sovereign and corporate bonds – nearly a tenth of outstanding emerging market (EM) debt – is in danger of being relegated to junk, according to David Spegel, head of emerging debt at BNP Paribas, who calls such credits “falling angels”.

And no article of this nature would be complete without mentioning derivatives.

I could not possibly overemphasize the danger that the 700 trillion dollar derivatives bubble poses to the global financial system.

As we enter the coming Great Depression, derivatives are going to play a starring role.  Wall Street has been pumped full of funny money by global central banks, and our financial markets have been transformed into the greatest casino in the history of the world.  When this house of cards comes crashing down, and it will, it is going to be a financial disaster unlike anything that the planet has ever seen.

And yes, global central banks are very much responsible for setting the stage for what we are about to experience.

I really like the way that David Stockman put it the other day…

The global financial system is literally booby-trapped with accidents waiting to happen owing to six consecutive years of massive money printing by nearly every central bank in the world.

Over that span, the collective balance sheet of the major central banks has soared by nearly $11 trillion, meaning that honest price discovery has been virtually destroyed. This massive “bid” for existing financial assets based on credit confected from thin air drove long-term bond yields to rock bottom levels not seen in 600 years since the Black Plague; and pinned money market costs at zero—-for 73 months running.

What is the consequence of this drastic financial repression along the entire yield curve? The answer is bond prices which keep rising regardless of credit risk, inflation or taxes; and rampant carry trade speculation that can’t get out of its own way because  central banks have made the financial gamblers’ cost of goods—the “funding” cost of their trades—-essentially zero.

Of course I am not the only one warning that a new Great Depression is coming.  For instance, just consider what British hedge fund manager Crispin Odey is saying…

British hedge fund manager Crispin Odey thinks we’ve entered an economic downturn that is “likely to be remembered in a hundred years,” and central banks won’t be able to stop it.

In his Odey Asset Management investor letter dated Dec. 31, Odey writes that the shorting opportunity “looks as great as it was in 07/09.”

“My point is that we used all our monetary firepower to avoid the first downturn in 2007-09,” he writes, “so we are really at a dangerous point to try to counter the effects of a slowing China, falling commodities and EM incomes, and the ultimate First World Effects. This is the heart of the message. If economic activity far from picks up, but falters, then there will be a painful round of debt default.”

Even though most average citizens are completely oblivious to what is happening, many among the elite are heeding the warning signs and are feverishly getting prepared.  As Robert Johnson told a stunned audience at the World Economic Forum the other day, they are “buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand“.  They can see the horrifying storm forming on the horizon and they are preparing to get out while the getting is good.

It can be very frustrating to write about economics, because things in the financial world can take an extended period of time to play out.  Sadly, most people these days have extremely short attention spans.  We live in a world of iPhones, iPads, YouTube videos, Facebook updates and 48 hour news cycles.  People no longer are accustomed to thinking in long-term time frames, and if something does not happen right away we tend to get bored with it.

But the economic world is not like a game of “Angry Birds”.  Rather, it is very much like a game of chess.

And unfortunately for us, checkmate is right around the corner.

 

Why Are So Many People Choosing To Leave The United States Permanently?

The United States Of America At NightHave things gotten so bad that it is time to leave the United States for good?  That is a question that a lot of Americans are dealing with these days, and an increasing number of them are choosing to leave the country of their birth permanently.  Some are doing it for tax reasons, some are doing it because they believe the future is brighter elsewhere, and others are doing it because they are very distressed about the direction that America is heading and they don’t see any hope for a turnaround any time soon.  Personally, I have several friends and contacts that regard themselves as “preppers” that have decided that the United States is too far gone to recover.  They have moved their families out of the country and they never plan to return.  As this nation continues to head down the very troubled road that it is currently on, this trend is probably only going to accelerate even more.

In fact, some Americans are even going so far as to renounce their citizenship when they leave.  This represents only a small percentage of those that are leaving the country, but as Bloomberg recently reported, the number of Americans that renounced their citizenship in the second quarter of 2013 was six times larger than the number that renounced their citizenship in the second quarter of last year…

Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship surged sixfold in the second quarter from a year earlier as the government prepares to introduce tougher asset-disclosure rules.

Expatriates giving up their nationality at U.S. embassies climbed to 1,131 in the three months through June from 189 in the year-earlier period, according to Federal Register figures published today.

Renouncing the country of your birth is not an easy thing to do.  From the moment that we come into this world, those of us born in this country are trained to think of ourselves as “Americans”.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Simon Black of the Sovereign Man blog

It doesn’t matter where you’re from– the United States, Sweden, New Zealand, or Venezuela… many people all over the world are inculcated from birth with a sense that their country is ‘better’ than all the others.

We grow up with the songs, the flag waving, and the parades until the concept of motherland becomes deeply rooted in our emotional cores.

Not to mention, when so many of our friends and neighbors unquestionably fall in line, it’s a powerful social reinforcement that only strengthens the bond.

We come to view our nationalities rather ironically as a big piece of our core individuality. I am an American. I am a Canadian. I am an Austrian. Instead of– I am a human being.

It has taken decades… centuries even… to reach this point. So the fact that more and more people are making the gut-wrenching decision to ditch their US passports is truly a powerful trend.

Traditionally, the American people have been some of the most patriotic people on the face of the planet.

So why are we now seeing such an increase in the number of people choosing to leave the United States permanently?

Well, the truth is that there are a whole host of reasons why people are losing faith in this country and are deciding to leave…

-The U.S. economy has been steadily declining for many years and that decline now seems to be accelerating.

-We are being taxed into oblivion.

-The quality of the jobs in our economy is rapidly declining.

-The middle class is continually shrinking.

-Poverty is exploding.

-Escalating social decay in our major cities.

-Our culture is rapidly going down the toilet.

-Our health care system has become a complete mess and a giant money making scam.  Obamacare is only going to make things even worse.

-Our politicians are tremendously corrupt, but the same clowns just keep getting sent back to D.C. over and over again.

-Our nation seems to be on a relentless march toward collectivism.

-America is rapidly turning into a “Big Brother” police state that is run by control freaks that seem obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and controlling virtually everything that we do.

Of course the list above could go on indefinitely, but hopefully I have made my point.  A whole lot of people out there are absolutely horrified as they watch what is happening to America, and leaving the country for good is increasingly being viewed as a potential option by many.

But as tempting as “going Galt” may seem, please come up with a good plan first.

As one family recently discovered, hopping into a small boat and sailing off into the Pacific Ocean in search of a better life is probably not going to work out too well…

A northern Arizona family that was lost at sea for weeks in an ill-fated attempt to leave the U.S. over what they consider government interference in religion will fly back home Sunday.

Hannah Gastonguay, 26, said Saturday that she and her husband “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us” when they took their two small children and her father-in-law and set sail from San Diego for the tiny island nation of Kiribati in May.

But just weeks into their journey, the Gastonguays hit a series of storms that damaged their small boat, leaving them adrift for weeks, unable to make progress. They were eventually picked up by a Venezuelan fishing vessel, transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken to Chile where they are resting in a hotel in the port city of San Antonio.

Yes, life in America is definitely going to be extremely challenging in the years ahead, but the grass is not always greener on the other side of the planet either.

There are a whole host of things to consider before you make a permanent move to another country.  The following is an extended excerpt from one of my previous articles

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The following are 10 questions to ask yourself before you decide to move to another country…

Do You Speak The Language?  If Not, How Will You Function?

If you do not speak the language of the country that you are moving to, that can create a huge problem.  Just going to the store and buying some food will become a challenge.  Every interaction that you have with anyone in that society will be strained, and your ability to integrate into the culture around you will be greatly limited.

How Will You Make A Living?

Unless you are independently wealthy, you will need to make money.  In a foreign nation, it may be very difficult for you to find a job – especially one that pays as much as you are accustomed to making in the United States.

Will You Be Okay Without Your Family And Friends?

Being thousands of miles away from all of your family and friends can be extremely difficult.  Will you be okay without them?  And it can be difficult to survive in a foreign culture without any kind of a support system.  Sometimes the people that most successfully move out of the country are those that do it as part of a larger group.

Have You Factored In Weather Patterns And Geological Instability?

As the globe becomes increasingly unstable, weather patterns and natural disasters are going to become a bigger factor in deciding where to live.  For example, right now India is suffering through the worst drought that it has experienced in nearly 50 years.  It would be very difficult to thrive in the middle of such an environment.

Many of those that are encouraging people to “escape from America” are pointing to Chile as an ideal place to relocate to.  But there are thousands of significant earthquakes in Chile each year, and the entire nation lies directly along the “Ring of Fire” which is becoming increasingly unstable.  That is something to keep in mind.

What Will You Do For Medical Care?

If you or someone in your family had a serious medical problem in the United States, you would know what to do.  Yes, our health care system is incredibly messed up, but at least you would know that you could get the care that you needed if an emergency arose.  Would the same be true in a foreign nation?

Are You Moving Into A High Crime Area?

Yes, crime is definitely on the rise in the United States.  But in other areas where many preppers are moving to, crime is even worse.  Mexico and certain areas of Central America are two examples of this.  And in many foreign nations, the police are far more corrupt than they generally are in the United States.

In addition, many other nations have far stricter gun laws than the United States does, so your ability to defend your family may be greatly restricted.

So will your family truly be safe in the nation that you plan to take them to?

Are You Prepared For “Culture Shock”?

Moving to another country can be like moving to a different planet.  After all, they don’t call it “culture shock” for nothing.

If you do move to another country, you may quickly find that thousands of little things that you once took for granted in the U.S. are now very different.

And there is a very good chance that many of the “amenities” that you are accustomed to in the U.S. will not be available in a foreign nation and that your standard of living will go down.

So if you are thinking of moving somewhere else, you may want to visit first just to get an idea of what life would be like if you made the move.

What Freedoms and Liberties Will You Lose By Moving?

Yes, our liberties and our freedoms are being rapidly eroded in the United States.  But in many other nations around the world things are much worse.  You may find that there is no such thing as “freedom of speech” or “freedom of religion” in the country that you have decided to move to.

Is There A Possibility That The Country You Plan To Escape To Could Be Involved In A War At Some Point?

We are moving into a time of great geopolitical instability.  If you move right into the middle of a future war zone, you might really regret it.  If you do plan to move, try to find a country that is likely to avoid war for the foreseeable future.

When The Global Economy Collapses, Will You And Your Family Be Okay For Food?

What good will it be to leave the United States if you and your family run out of food?

Today, we are on the verge of a major global food crisis.  Global food reserves are at their lowest level in nearly 40 years, and shifting global weather patterns are certainly not helping things.

And the global elite are rapidly getting more control over the global food supply.  Today, between 75 and 90 percent of all international trade in grain is controlled by just four gigantic multinational food corporations.

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Leaving the United States permanently and setting up a new life in another country can be done, but it isn’t for the faint of heart.  It takes planning, preparation and lots of hard work.

However, there are lots of people that have done it successfully, including quite a number of people that I know personally.

In the end, you have got to make the decision that is right for you and your family.  Don’t let anyone else tell you what to do.

For many, staying in the United States and preparing for the tough years that are coming is the best choice.  For others, getting out of the United States and heading for greener pastures is the right choice.

What about you?

What is your choice?

Please feel free to share your perspective by posting a comment below…

Expatriates

 

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