Are we right on the verge of one of the greatest financial collapses in American history? I have been repeatedly warning that our ridiculously over-inflated stock market bubble could burst at any time, but former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan believes that the bond bubble actually presents an even greater danger. When you look at the long-term charts, you will see that an epic bond bubble has been growing since the early 1980s, and when it finally collapses the financial carnage is going to be unlike anything we have ever seen before.
Since the last financial crisis, global central banks have purchased trillions of dollars worth of bonds, and this has pushed interest rates to absurdly low levels. But of course this state of affairs cannot go on indefinitely, and Greenspan is extremely concerned about what will happen when interest rates start going in the other direction…
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan issued a bold warning Friday that the bond market is on the cusp of a collapse that also will threaten stock prices.
In a CNBC interview, the longtime central bank chief said the prolonged period of low interest rates is about to end and, with it, a bull market in fixed income that has lasted more than three decades.
“The current level of interest rates is abnormally low and there’s only one direction in which they can go, and when they start they will be rather rapid,” Greenspan said on “Squawk Box.”
And of course Greenspan is far from alone. In recent months there have been a whole host of prominent voices warning about the devastation that will take place when the bond market begins to shift. For example, the following comes from Nasdaq.com…
Advisors and investors beware, the long-swelling bubble in the bond market looks set to pop. Major bond investors are as worried as they have ever been, mostly because of the reduction in easing that is finally coming to markets. Central banks are letting off the gas pedal for the first time in almost a decade, which could have a devastating effect on the bond market. According to the head of fixed income at JP Morgan Asset Management, who oversees almost half a trillion in AUM, “The next 18 months are going to be incredibly challenging. I am not an equity investor, but I can just imagine how equity investors felt in 1999, during the dotcom bubble”. He continued, “Right now, central banks are printing money at a rate of around $1.5tn per year. That is a lot of money going into bonds. By this time next year, we think this will turn negative”.
So how will we know when a crisis is imminent?
Some analysts are telling us to watch the 30-year yield. When it finally moves above its “mega moving average” and stays there, that will be a major red flag…
It’s still too soon to tell, but this could be the beginning of a realignment with both rates getting in sync again. This will not be confirmed, however, until the 30-year yield rises and stays above its mega moving average, currently at 3.18%.
As you know, this moving average is super important.
It’s identified and confirmed the mega downtrend in long-term interest rates ever since the 1980s. In other words, it doesn’t change often. So, if this trend were to change and turn up, it would be a huge deal.
Today, the 30-year yield moved up to 2.83 percent, and so we aren’t too far away.
There are so many prominent voices that are warning of imminent financial disaster, but there are others that believe that we have absolutely nothing to be concerned about. In fact, Jim Paulsen just told CNBC that he believes that this current bull market “could continue to forever”…
The stock market “has an awful good gig going,” with the economic recovery reaching all corners of the globe and U.S. inflation and interest rates still at historic lows, Leuthold Chief Investment Strategist Jim Paulsen told CNBC on Friday.
“We’ve got a fully employed economy, rising real wages. We restarted the corporate earnings cycle. We’ve got strong confidence among business and consumers,” he said on “Squawk Box.”
“The kick is we can do all of this without aggravating inflation and interest rates,” he said. “If that’s going to continue, I think the bull market could continue to forever.”
I think that Paulsen will end up deeply regretting those words.
No bull market lasts forever, and analysts at Goldman Sachs are warning that there is a 99 percent chance that stock market returns will be sub-optimal over the next decade.
But most people believe what they want to believe no matter what the facts may say, and Paulsen apparently wants to believe that things will never be bad for the financial markets ever again.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, the powers that be decided to patch the old system up. Instead of addressing the root causes of the crisis, they chose to paper over our problems instead, and now we are in the terminal phase of the biggest financial bubble in history.
This time around, it is absolutely imperative that we do things differently. The Federal Reserve is the primary reason why our economy is on an endless roller coaster ride. We have had 18 distinct recessions or depressions since 1913, and now another one is about to begin. By endlessly manipulating the system, they have caused these cycles of booms and busts, and it is time to get off of this roller coaster once and for all.
Like Ron Paul, I believe that we need to shut down the Federal Reserve and get our banks under control. I also believe that we should abolish the federal income tax and go to a much fairer system. From 1872 to 1913, there was no central bank and no federal income tax, and it was the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history. If we rebuild our financial system on sound principles, we could actually have a shot at a prosperous future. If not, the long-term future for our economy looks exceedingly bleak.
If you believe in what I am trying to do, I would like to ask for your help. I am running for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and since there is no incumbent running for this seat the race is completely wide open. Every time I share my message, more voters are coming over to my side, and if I am able to get my message out to every voter in this district I will win.
And I would like to encourage like-minded people to run for positions all over the country on the federal, state and local levels. Individually, there is a limit to what we can do, but if we work together we can build a movement which could turn this nation completely upside down.
Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.
Chaos and violence threaten to spiral out of control in America’s third largest city, and nobody seems to have any idea how to solve the problem. After decades of control by the radical left, many parts of the “Windy City” have become rotting, decaying, gang-infested hellholes. Just like Detroit, the city of Chicago is rapidly becoming a joke to the rest of the world, but a horribly corrupt political culture likely stands in the way of any type of major reform any time soon. And just like much of the rest of the nation, a spirit of violence and civil unrest is rising in Chicago. So far this year, the number of shootings in Chicago is up 50 percent compared to the same time period last year, and that was before we even got to Memorial Day weekend. As of Sunday morning, at least 40 people had already been shot, and authorities were bracing for even more violence as the holiday weekend stretched on…
A string of nearly two dozen shootings on the West Side has pushed the number of people shot during the Memorial Day weekend to at least 40, with two more days to go.
As of early Sunday morning, the toll stood at four dead and 36 wounded across the city, including a 15-year-girl shot to death as she rode in a Jeep on Lake Shore Drive near Fullerton Avenue, police said.
The cries to fix what is wrong with Chicago are becoming increasingly desperate, but at this point the city is drowning in debt and is pretty much flat broke.
So the options for doing anything about this growing crisis are quite limited.
But that isn’t stopping prominent city leaders from speaking out. According to the New York Times, Rev. Corey Brooks believes that “we could be looking at a blood bath” this summer if nothing changes…
“If something doesn’t change, if we don’t get jobs for these kids, if we don’t change the economic situation, I’m worried that we could be looking at a blood bath,” said the Rev. Corey Brooks, a pastor on the city’s South Side, a mostly African-American area where some of the shootings have been concentrated. “If something doesn’t happen, I fear that we’re potentially looking at one of the worst summers we’ve ever had.”
As of Friday morning, homicides in Chicago were up 52 percent in 2016, compared with the same period a year ago, and shootings had increased by 50 percent, though the pace of violence had slowed in recent weeks, the police said.
I believe that Rev. Brooks is correct, but he isn’t identifying the core of the problem.
Thanks in large part to unchecked illegal immigration, gang membership has been surging in Chicago. Back in 2012, the Chicago Crime Commission estimated that there were 150,000 gang members living in the city, but of course by now that number is likely far higher.
No city in the United States has a higher population of gang members than Chicago does, and hundreds of factions are constantly battling for turf. The police in Chicago insist that they have the situation under control, but everyone can see that they do not.
And how could they? There are only 13,318 law enforcement officers of all types in the city of Chicago. They are outnumbered by the gangs by much more than a 10 to 1 margin. There is no way in the world that they are ever going to be able to stop the gang violence. All they can do is hope to contain it.
Sadly, they are fighting a losing battle, because with each passing month thousands more gang members cross our southern border illegally and head directly for our major cities where they are warmly received by their gang brothers.
Perhaps this helps to explain why 3,000 millionaires left the city of Chicago last year.
Do you want to know somewhere else that has been controlled by the radical left for decades and that is now seeing chaos and violence spin out of control?
In Venezuela, we get to see what it looks like when an entire country starts to shut down. The following comes from the New York Times…
The courts? Closed most days. The bureau to start a business? Same thing. The public defender’s office? That’s been converted into a food bank for government employees.
Step by step, Venezuela has been shutting down.
This country has long been accustomed to painful shortages, even of basic foods. But Venezuela keeps drifting further into uncharted territory.
At this point, more than 80 percent of all basic consumer products are in short supply, and some people have become so desperate that they are actually hunting cats and dogs for food. My wife and I had a lot more to say about the rapidly deteriorating situation down in Venezuela during a recent episode of our new television show. It is so important to watch what is going on down there right now, because eventually the same things will be happening here in America too.
When society breaks down, people become very desperate, and crime spirals out of control. The mafia and the gangs are having a field day at the moment, and the police are so overwhelmed that they can’t do much to stop them.
And if you need medical treatment down in Venezuela right now, you might as well forget it…
The Luis Razetti Hospital in the portal city of Barcelona looks like a war zone.
Patients can be seen balancing themselves on half-broken beds with days-old blood on their bodies.
They’re the lucky ones; most are curled up on the floor, blood streaming, limbs blackening.
Children lie among dirty cardboard boxes in the hallways without food, water or medication.
Without electricity or functioning machines, medics have had to create their own solutions. Two men who had surgery on their legs have their limbs elevated by makeshift slings made out of water bottles.
Most Americans would scoff at the suggestion that we could ever see scenes like that in the United States, but just a few years ago most Venezuelans would have probably said the exact same thing.
For so long, watchmen all over America have been endlessly warning people to get prepared.
But at some point, time runs out.
In fact, down in Venezuela time has already run out. Store shelves all over the country are empty, there are chronic shortages of basic supplies, some people are hunting dogs and cats for food, and there has been an almost total breakdown of public services.
I wish that I could say that these kinds of conditions are only going to be limited to Venezuela. But I cannot say that. Great suffering is going to eventually spread all over the world, and that is going to include our own nation.
I hope that you are using this short period of relative stability wisely, because it will be gone way too soon.
Warren Buffett believes “that bonds are very overvalued“, and a recent survey of fund managers found that 80 percent of them are convinced that bonds have become “badly overvalued“. The most famous bond expert on the planet, Bill Gross, recently confessed that he has a sense that the 35 year bull market in bonds is “ending” and he admitted that he is feeling “great unrest”. Nobel Prize–winning economist Robert Shiller has added a new chapter to his bestselling book in which he argues that bond prices are “irrationally high”. The global bond bubble has ballooned to more than 76 trillion dollars, and interest rates have never been lower in modern history. In fact, 25 percent of all government bonds in Europe actually have a negative rate of return at this point. There is literally nowhere for the bond market to go except for the other direction, and when this bull market turns into a bear it will create chaos and financial devastation all over the planet.
In a recent piece entitled “A Sense Of Ending“, bond guru Bill Gross admitted that the 35 year bull market in bonds that has made him and those that have invested with him so wealthy is now coming to an end…
Stanley Druckenmiller, George Soros, Ray Dalio, Jeremy Grantham, among others warn investors that our 35 year investment supercycle may be exhausted. They don’t necessarily counsel heading for the hills, or liquidating assets for cash, but they do speak to low future returns and the increasingly fat tail possibilities of a “bang” at some future date. To them, (and myself) the current bull market is not 35 years old, but twice that in human terms. Surely they and other gurus are looking through their research papers to help predict future financial “obits”, although uncertain of the announcement date. Savor this Bull market moment, they seem to be saying in unison. It will not come again for any of us; unrest lies ahead and low asset returns. Perhaps great unrest, if there is a bubble popping.
And the way that he ended his piece sounds rather ominous…
I wish to still be active in say 2020 to see how this ends. As it is, in 2015, I merely have a sense of an ending, a secular bull market ending with a whimper, not a bang. But if so, like death, only the timing is in doubt. Because of this sense, however, I have unrest, increasingly a great unrest. You should as well.
Bill Gross is someone that knows what he is talking about. I would consider his words very carefully.
Another renowned financial expert, Yale professor Robert Shiller, warned us about the stock bubble in 2000 and about the real estate bubble in 2005. Now, he is warning about the danger posed by this bond bubble…
In the first edition of his landmark book “Irrational Exuberance,” published in 2000, the Yale professor of economics and 2013 Nobel Laureate presciently warned that stocks looked especially expensive. In the second edition, published in 2005 shortly before the real estate bubble crashed, he added a chapter about real estate valuations. And in the new edition, due out later this month, Shiller adds a fresh chapter called “The Bond Market in Historical Perspective,” in which he worries that bond prices might be irrationally high.
For years, ultra-low interest rates have enabled governments around the world to go on a debt binge unlike anything the world has ever seen. Showing very little restraint since the last financial crisis, they have piled up debts that are exceedingly dangerous. If interest rates were to return to historical norms, it would instantly create the greatest government debt crisis in history.
A recent letter from IceCap Asset Management summarized where we basically stand today…
1) governments are unable to eliminate deficits
2) global government debt is increasing exponentially
3) 0% interest rates are allowing governments to borrow more to pay off old loans and fund deficits
4) Global growth is declining despite money printing and bailouts And, we’ve saved the latest and greatest fact for last: as stunning as 0% interest rates sound, the mathematically-challenged-fantasyland called Europe has just one upped everyone by introducing NEGATIVE INTEREST RATES.
As of writing, over 25% of all bonds issued by European governments has a guaranteed negative return for investors.
Germany can borrow money for 5 years at an interest rate of NEGATIVE 0.10%. Yes, instead of Germany paying you interest when you lend them money, you have to pay them interest.
These same negative interest rate conditions exist across many of the Eurozone countries, as well as Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland.
Negative interest rates are by nature irrational.
Why in the world would you pay someone to borrow money from you?
It doesn’t make any sense at all, and this irrational state of affairs will not last for too much longer.
At some point, investors are going to come to the realization that the 35 year bull market for bonds is finished, and then there will be a massive rush for the exits. This rush for the exits will be unlike anything the bond market has ever seen before. Robert Wenzel of the Economic Policy Journal says that this coming rush for the exits will set off a “death spiral”…
Anyone who holds the view that the Fed will not soon raise interest rates,and soon, fails to understand the nature of the developing crisis. It will be led by a collapse of the bond market.
Market forces, somewhat misleadingly called bond-vigilantes, will lead the charge.
I am not as bearish in the short-term on the stock market. The equity markets will be volatile because of the climb in rates and look scary at times but the death spiral will be in the bond market.
As this death spiral accelerates, we are going to see global interest rates rise dramatically. And considering the fact that more than 400 trillion dollars in derivatives are directly tied to interest rates, that is a very scary thing.
And in case you are wondering, the stock market will be deeply affected by all of this as well. I believe that we are going to witness a stock market crash even greater than what we experienced in 2008, and other experts are projecting similar things. For example, just consider what Marc Faber recently told CNBC…
“For the last two years, I’ve been thinking that U.S. stocks are due for a correction,” Faber said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” “But I always say a bubble is a bubble, and if there’s no correction, the market will go up, and one day it will go down, big time.”
“The market is in a position where it’s not just going to be a 10 percent correction. Maybe it first goes up a bit further, but when it comes, it will be 30 percent or 40 percent minimum!” Faber asserted.
Where we are right now is at the end of the party. There are some that want to keep on dancing to the music for as long as possible, but most can see that things are winding down and people are starting to head for the exits.
The irrational global financial bubble that investors have been enjoying for the past few years has stretched on far longer than it should have. But that is the way irrational bubbles work – they just keep going even when everyone can see that they have become absolutely absurd. However, eventually something always comes along and bursts them, and once that happens markets can crash very, very rapidly.
Europe is on the verge of a horrifying financial meltdown, and there are only a few short weeks left to avert total disaster. On Monday, talks that were supposed to bring about yet another temporary “resolution” to the Greek debt crisis completely fell apart. The new Greek government has entirely rejected the idea of a six month extension of the current bailout. The Greeks want a new deal which would enable them to implement the promises that have been made to the voters. But that is not going to fly with the Germans, among others. They expect the Greeks to fulfill the obligations that were agreed to previously. The two sides are not even in the same ballpark at this point, and things are starting to get very personal. It is no secret that the new Greek government does not like the Germans, and the Germans are not particularly fond of the Greeks at this point. But unless they can find a way to work out a deal, things could get quite messy very rapidly. The Greek government has about three weeks of cash left, and any changes to the current bailout arrangement would have to be approved by parliaments all over Europe by March 1st. And the stakes are incredibly high. If there is no deal, we could see a Greek debt default, Greece could be forced to leave the eurozone and go back to the drachma, the euro could collapse to all time lows, all the banks all over Europe that are exposed to Greek government debt could be faced with absolutely massive losses, and the 26 trillion dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to the value of the euro could start to unravel. In essence, if things go badly this could be enough to push us into a global financial crisis.
On Monday, eurozone officials tried to get the Greeks to extend the current bailout package for six months with the current austerity provisions in place. Greek government officials responded by saying that “those who bring this back are wasting their time” and that those negotiating on behalf of the eurozone are being “unreasonable”…
A Greek government official said that a draft text presented to eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday spoke of Greece extending its current bailout package and as such was “unreasonable” and would not be accepted.
Without specifying who put forward the text to the meeting chaired by Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the official said: “Some people’s insistence on the Greek government implementing the bailout is unreasonable and cannot be accepted.”
Most observers have speculated that the new Greek government would give in to the demands of the rest of the eurozone when push came to shove.
But these new Greek politicians are a different breed. They are not establishment lackeys. Rather, they are very principled radicals, and they are not about to be pushed around. I certainly do not agree with their politics, but I admire the fact that they are willing to stand up for what they believe. That is a very rare thing these days.
On Monday, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis shared the following in the New York Times…
I am often asked: What if the only way you can secure funding is to cross your red lines and accept measures that you consider to be part of the problem, rather than of its solution? Faithful to the principle that I have no right to bluff, my answer is: The lines that we have presented as red will not be crossed.
Does that sound like a man that is going to back down to you?
Meanwhile, the other side continues to dig in as well.
Just consider the words of the German finance minister…
Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, accused the Greek government of “behaving irresponsibly” by threatening to tear up agreements made with the eurozone in return for access to the loans which are all that stand between Greece and financial collapse.
“It seems like we have no results so far. I’m quite skeptical. The Greek government has not moved, apparently,” he said.
“As long as the Greek government doesn’t want a program, I don’t have to think about options.”
Global financial markets are still acting as if they fully expect a deal to get done eventually.
I am not so sure.
And without a doubt, time is running short. As I mentioned above, something has got to be finalized by March 1st. The following comes from the Wall Street Journal…
Any changes to the content or expiration date of Greece’s existing €240 billion ($273 billion) bailout have to be decided by Friday, to give national parliaments in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands enough time to approve them before the end of the month. Without such a deal, Greece will be on its own on March 1, cut loose from the rescue loans from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund that have sustained it for almost five years.
So what happens if there is no deal and Greece is forced to leave the eurozone?
Below, I have shared an excerpt from an article that details what Capital Economics believes would happen in the event of a “Grexit”…
- The drachma would be back. The euro would be effectively abandoned, and Greece would return to the drachma, its previous currency (it might take a new name). The drachma would likely tumble in value against the euro as soon as it was issued, and how much the government could print quickly would be a big issue.
- It would have to be fast, with capital controls. There would be people trying to pull their money out of Greece’s banks en masse. The Greek government would have to make that illegal pretty quickly. The European Central Bank drew up Grexit plans in 2012, and might be dusting them off now.
- European life support for Greek banks would be withdrawn. Greek banks can currently access emergency liquidity assistance from the ECB, which would be removed if Greece left the euro.
- Likely unrest and disorder. Barclays expects that this sudden economic collapse would “aggravate social unrest”, and notes that historically similar moves have caused a 45-85% devaluation of the currency. Capital Economics suggests that the drop could be more mild, closer to 20%, and Oxford Economics says 30%.
- Greece would resume economic policymaking. Greece’s central bank would probably start doing its own QE programme, and the government would likely return to running deficits, no longer restrained by bailout rules (though investors would probably want large returns, given the risk of another default).
- Inflation would spike immediately, but both Capital Economics and Oxford Economics say that should be temporary. It might look a bit like Russia this year — with the new currency in freefall until it finds its level against the euro, prices inside Greece would rise at dramatic speed. The inflation might be temporary, however, because with unemployment above 20%, Greece has plenty of spare labour slack to produce more.
That certainly does not sound good.
And once Greece leaves, everyone would be wondering who is next, because there are quite a few other deeply financially troubled nations in the eurozone.
David Stockman believes that Spain is a prime candidate…
In spite of the “recovery” in Spain, close to 24% are still unemployed. That statistic explains Pessimism in the Streets.
The crisis is here to stay according to significant majority of Spaniards. The general perception is that the current situation in which the country is negative and far from getting better, can only stay stagnant or even worse.
A Metroscopia poll published in El País makes it clear that the Spanish are unhappy with the current state of the country. Five out of six (83%) see the economic situation as “bad”, while more than half of the remaining perceive “regular”.
Right now, Europe is already teetering on the brink of an economic depression.
If this Greek debt crisis is not resolved, it could set in motion a chain of events which could start collapsing financial institutions all over Europe.
Yes, we have been here before and a deal has always emerged in the end.
But this time is different. This time very idealistic radicals are running things in Greece, and the “old guard” in Europe has no intention of giving in to them.
So let’s watch and see how this game of “chicken” plays out.
I have a feeling that it is not going to end well.
Rioting, looting, burning down stores and shooting police officers – is this about to become the “new normal” in America? What we just witnessed happen in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri is a prime example of how quickly the streets of America can descend into chaos. There is so much anger and frustration in this country, especially among our young people, that all it takes is a “trigger event” to spark a wildfire. In this case, it was the shooting of an unarmed black teen by a police officer. According to the police, 18-year-old Michael Brown got into a physical altercation with an officer and was subsequently shot. Word spread quickly throughout the community, and protests were rapidly organized. But the protests didn’t stay peaceful. People started chanting “kill the police” and throwing rocks and bottles. Store windows were smashed, the looting began, and people went absolutely crazy. And it wasn’t just a few people that were doing the looting. Huge mobs of people looted stores all over Ferguson. At one point an ATM was even dragged out of a QuikTrip gas station and a while after that the store was set on fire. But this is what happens when things descend into chaos. The owners of those stores didn’t have anything to do with the shooting of Michael Brown, but the violence got directed at them anyway. And someday when we see similar scenes erupt in major cities all over the nation, it won’t matter what your political beliefs are. You just better not be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ferguson is a little town just outside of St. Louis with a population of about 21,000 people. You wouldn’t think that it would be possible to see such massive rioting in such a small community. But that is precisely what happened. On Monday, millions of Americans were absolutely mesmerized by the images coming out of Ferguson. The following is how one news source described what happened…
Brian Schellman, with the St. Louis County Police Department, said close to 300 police officers from at least 15 different departments were called to Ferguson when angry mobs began smashing windows, setting fires and looting businesses in the area.
Schellman said a St. Louis County officer injured his knee while at a Foot Locker store during the rioting. He said another officer was injured when he had a brick thrown at him.
Throughout the evening, numerous cop cars sustained damage and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said someone in a yellow pickup truck fired shots at officers while circling a WalMart parking lot. Chief Jackson said he got into a cop car to give chase to the truck but the truck got away.
Police said shots were also fired at a police helicopter in the area.
But words do not really accurately convey the level of craziness that was unleashed. I would encourage you to watch some of the videos on YouTube of the rioting and looting that were going on in Ferguson. The video posted below is just one example…
Sadly, this violence might continue for a while.
Just check out what one very angry 30-year-old man told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch…
DeAndre Smith, 30, of Ferguson was happy to justify the looting when a reporter asked him about it Monday morning.
“This is exactly what is supposed to be happening when an injustice is happening in your community,” he said, adding: “You have kids getting killed for nothing.”
Smith, who moved to St. Louis from New York in December, said there could be more to come.
“I don’t think it’s over honestly,” he said. “I just think they got a taste of what fighting back means.”
Of course this is not the first time that we have seen this kind of thing happen. Earlier this year, all it took was a snow storm for people in Atlanta to start behaving like crazed lunatics. And late last year we saw rioting and looting all over the nation when a technical glitch caused the EBT system to go down for a short while.
Even though the economy has somewhat stabilized (at least for the moment), levels of anger and frustration have continued to grow in this country. We have been taught to hate one another and to blame one another for our problems, and so now the U.S. is more divided than at any other point in recent memory. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “America The Divided: Everyone Knows We Have Problems But There Is Very Little Agreement On Solutions“.
We live at a time when things are so tense that even a small spark can light an absolutely huge fire. America has become a tinderbox. Next time it might not be a racially-charged shooting. Next time it might be an Ebola outbreak that sparks looting and panic. Or it might be some sort of financial collapse. We just don’t know.
But what we do know is that there are lots and lots of people that are willing to riot and loot and commit unspeakable crimes given the right circumstances.
Decades of social decay have gotten us to the point where the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted every single day is wearing dangerously thin.
The truth is that it is not going to take much to push this nation over the edge.
If this kind of rioting can take place in a community with just over 20,000 people, what would a full-blown riot look like in a city with millions of people?
That is a very sobering thing to think about.
Once upon a time in America, you could leave your doors unlocked at night and you could let your kids play in the streets without ever having to worry.
But now we are a sick, decaying nation that has millions of people ready to riot and loot at the drop of a hat.
Is there any hope for us?
In general, over the last several decades the world has experienced an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity. The opening up of relations with China and the “end of the Cold War” resulted in an extended period of cooperation between east and west that was truly unique in the annals of history. But now things are shifting. The civil war in Ukraine and the crash of MH17 have created an enormous amount of tension between the United States and Russia, and many analysts believe that relations between the two superpowers are now even worse than they were during the end of the Cold War era. In addition, the indictment of five PLA officers for cyber espionage and sharp disagreements over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea (among other issues) have caused U.S. relations with China to dip to their lowest point since at least 1989. So could the emerging division between the east and the west ultimately plunge us into a period of global chaos? And what would that mean for the world economy?
For as long as most Americans can remember, the U.S. dollar and the U.S. financial system have been overwhelmingly dominant. But now the powers of the east appear to be determined to break this monopoly. Four of the BRICS nations (China, Russia, India and Brazil) are on the list of the top ten biggest economies on the planet, and they are starting to make moves to become much less dependent on the U.S.-centered financial system of the western world. For example, just last week the BRICS nations established two new institutions which are intended to be alternatives to the World Bank and the IMF…
So in their summit, from July 14 to 16, the five BRICS announced two major initiatives aimed squarely at increasing their power in global finance. They announced the launch of the New Development Bank, headquartered in Shanghai, that will offer financing for development projects in the emerging world. The bank will act as an alternative to the Washington, D.C.—based World Bank. The BRICS also formed what they’re calling a Contingent Reserve Arrangement, a series of currency agreements which can be utilized to help them smooth over financial imbalances with the rest of the world. That’s something the IMF does now.
Clearly, the idea is to create institutions and processes to supplement — and perhaps eventually supplant — the functions of those managed by U.S. and Europe. And they would be resources that they could control on their own, without the annoying conditions that the World Bank and the IMF always slap on their loans and assistance.
This comes at a time when both China and Russia are seeking to emphasize their own currencies and move away from using the U.S. dollar so much.
Even in the western media, it is being admitted that China’s yuan is “a growing force in global finance“, and according to CNBC the use of Chinese currency in international trade is growing very rapidly…
Of the German companies profiled, 23 percent are using the renminbi to settle trades, up from 9 percent last year, while usage in Hong Kong rose to 58 percent from 50 percent and to 17 percent from 9 percent in the U.S.
Usage of the renminbi among French companies – a new addition to this year’s list – was high at 26 percent.
And of course Russia has been actively pursuing a “de-dollarization strategy” for months now. Each new round of economic sanctions pushes Russia even further in the direction of independence from the U.S. dollar, and Gazprom has been working hard to get large customers to switch from paying for natural gas in dollars to paying for natural gas in euros and other currencies. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “Russia Is Doing It – Russia Is Actually Abandoning The Dollar“.
At this point, it seems clear that Russia plans to permanently decouple from the U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system. Just today we learned that Vladimir Putin plans to make Russia less dependent on U.S. companies such as IBM and Microsoft, and any future rounds of sanctions are likely to cause even more damage to U.S. firms that do business in Russia.
But potentially much more troubling for the U.S. economy is the startling deterioration in the relationship between the Obama administration and China. Some analysts are even describing this as “a tipping point”…
One day, the United States indicts five PLA officers for cybercrimes; the next, the United States claims victory in WTO disputes over car tariffs and rare earth minerals. All this is happening while the United States promises enduring support for Asian allies, and it has moved openly to challenge the legitimacy of Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, China is busy creating facts on the ground and water. Last month, a $1 billion Chinese oil rig set up operations in territorial waters claimed by Vietnam. In the East China Sea, Chinese SU-27 fighter jets have come within 100 feet of Japanese surveillance aircraft.
This was all capped at the recent Shangri-La Asian Security dialogue in Singapore (Asia’s annual defense-ministers meeting): Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel bluntly described China’s behavior as “destabilizing, unilateral actions.” The PLA deputy chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, accused the United States of “hegemonism.”
The mood has soured, more than the usual ups and downs of big-power relationships. The question now is not whether a “new type of relationship” is in the offing, but rather, whether U.S.-Chinese relations have reached a tipping point.
Most Americans could not care less about what China is doing in the South China Sea, but to the Chinese this is a very, very big deal. In fact, China just sent a surveillance vessel to Hawaii as a bit of payback for what they regard as U.S. “provocations” in the region.
In the old days, China would have probably never have done such a thing. But China is gaining confidence as the gap between the U.S. military and the Chinese military rapidly closes…
Away from the Chinese military’s expanding capabilities in cyberspace and electronic warfare, Beijing is growing the size and reach of its naval fleet, advancing its air force and testing a host of new missiles, the Pentagon said Thursday.
An annual report to Congress on China’s evolving military capability concluded that the modernization was being driven in part by growing territorial disputes in the East and South China seas, as well as by Beijing’s desire to expand its presence and influence abroad.
In fact, the Chinese military has grown so powerful that we are now seeing headlines such as this one in The Week: “China thinks it can defeat America in battle”.
And the Russian military has made tremendous strides as well. Putin has been working hard to modernize the Russian nuclear arsenal, the Russians now have a “fifth generation” fighter jet that is supposedly far superior to the F-22 Raptor, and they have nuclear submarines that are so incredibly quiet that the U.S. Navy refers to them as “black holes“.
If Russia and China stay united, they are more than capable of providing a counterbalance to U.S. power around the globe.
But even if military conflict is not in our immediate future, the breakdown in relations between east and west could still have a dramatic impact on the global economy.
Over the years, the U.S. and China have developed a highly symbiotic relationship that fuels a tremendous amount of economic activity all over the planet. Each year, we buy hundreds of billions of dollars of products from the Chinese. Just imagine what our stores would look like if we took everything that was “made in China” out of them. And after we send them giant piles of our money, we beg the Chinese to lend it back to us at ultra-low interest rates. This arrangement has allowed China to become extremely wealthy and it has allowed Americans to enjoy a massively inflated standard of living fueled by ever increasing amounts of debt.
So what happens if this relationship starts breaking down?
Without a doubt, it could potentially lead to global chaos.
So keep a close eye on this emerging division between the east and the west. It could end up being far more important than most Americans would ever dare to imagine.
What is Barack Obama preparing for? What does Barack Obama actually expect to happen in November? Does he believe that the upcoming election could actually spark rampant civil unrest inside the United States? The conditions are certainly ripe for civil unrest in this country. A multitude of recent polls and surveys have shown that Americans are angrier and more frustrated than ever. Sadly, we are taking a lot of that anger and frustration out on each other. America is more divided today than at any other time since the Civil War era. The left absolutely hates Mitt Romney the Republicans, and the right absolutely hates Barack Obama and the Democrats. If you doubt this, just surf political blogs for a few hours and read the comments that people leave. This country is a boiling cauldron of hatred and anger and all it is going to take is just the right “spark” to cause all of this hatred and anger to absolutely explode. This upcoming election season is likely to be one of the most heated and divisive election seasons in U.S. history, and if there is not a clear winner on election night there is the potential that chaos could be unleashed that would be far, far worse than anything we saw during the Bush/Gore debacle of 2000.
Right now, the polls tell us that this is likely to be a very, very tight election. If you doubt this, just check out the daily Gallup tracking poll.
As I write this, Obama and Romney are tied at 46 percent.
In 2008, a wave of positive emotion helped Obama secure a solid victory on election night where there was no doubt about the outcome.
But this time there is not going to be the same wave of positive emotion behind Obama, and that means that the election is likely to be much, much closer.
One thing that set off alarm bells for me is when various news stories starting discussing the “legion of lawyers” that Barack Obama was recruiting for this election. The following is from a recent article in the Huffington Post….
President Barack Obama’s campaign has recruited a legion of lawyers to be on standby for this year’s election as legal disputes surrounding the voting process escalate. Thousands of attorneys and support staffers have agreed to aid in the effort, providing a mass of legal support that appears to be unrivaled by Republicans or precedent.
Did you catch that?
Obama’s “unprecedented” legion of lawyers is definitely getting prepared for something.
In a tightly contested race, would Obama use every legal angle that he possibly could to take the election away from Mitt Romney?
Would Mitt Romney potentially do the same to Obama?
How would the rest of America respond to another huge legal struggle over the presidency?
Let us hope that we never find out the answers to any of those questions.
But fighting in court is not the only avenue that Barack Obama could potentially use to keep his spot in the White House.
There is also the possibility that Barack Obama could use his executive powers to influence the outcome of the election.
This year, Obama has issued a whole series of very strange executive orders.
Many have been wondering what the true purpose of these executive orders really is.
For example, EO 13603 enables Barack Obama to take total control over all food, all energy, all health resources and all transportation resources with the stroke of a pen.
The following is from an article about this executive order by Jim Garrison in the Huffington Post….
President Obama’s National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order of March 16 does to the country as a whole what the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act did to the Constitution in particular — completely eviscerates any due process or judicial oversight for any action by the Government deemed in the interest of “national security.” Like the NDAA, the new Executive Order puts the government completely above the law, which, in a democracy, is never supposed to happen.
Later in that same article, he detailed some of the extraordinary powers that the executive branch would be given if Barack Obama decided that “national security” required it….
• The Secretary of Defense has power over all water resources;
• The Secretary of Commerce has power over all material services and facilities, including construction materials;
• The Secretary of Transportation has power over all forms of civilian transportation;
• The Secretary of Agriculture has power over food resources and facilities, livestock plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment;
• The Secretary of Health and Human Services has power over all health resources;
• The Secretary of Energy has power over all forms of energy.
According to this executive order, a “national emergency” is not even required to activate these powers. If Barack Obama decides that there is a threat to “national security” (or to his job security) he could activate these powers at any time.
Another executive order, EO 13618, would potentially give Obama power over all communication resources in the United States.
So does that mean that Obama could potentially pull the plug on the Internet during a crisis?
That is a very good question.
Overall, Obama has issued 130 executive orders during his time as president. The amount of power that he now claims to possess is absolutely mind blowing.
So will he ever actually attempt to use the powers that he has granted himself under these executive orders?
Let’s hope not.
In addition, it appears that the Department of Homeland Security is gearing up for something.
An article posted on RT the other day entitled “DHS gears up for civil unrest prior to presidential elections” detailed some of the purchases that the Department of Homeland Security is looking to make….
The DHS submitted a rushed solicitation to the Federal Business Opportunities site on Wednesday, which is a portal for Federal government procurement requisitions over $25,000. The request gave the potential suppliers only one day to submit their proposals and a 15-day delivery requirement to Alexandria, Virginia.
As the brief explains, “the objective of this effort is to procure riot gear to prepare for the 2012 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the 2013 Presidential Inauguration and other future similar activities.”
The total amount ordered is about 150 sets of riot helmets, thigh and groin protectors, hard-shell shin guards and other riot gear.
Specifically, DHS is looking to obtain:
– “147 riot helmets” with “adjustable tactical face shield with liquid seal”
– “147 sets of upper body and shoulder protection”
– “152 sets of thigh and groin protection”
– “147 hard-shell shin guards” with “substantial protection from flying debris, non-ballistic weapons, and blows to the leg” and “optimized protective design for severe riot control or tactical situations.”
– “156 forearm protectors”
– “147 pairs of tactical gloves”
The riot gear will be worn by Federal Protective Service agents who are tasked with protecting property, grounds and buildings owned by the federal government.
You can find the DHS solicitation right here.
Also, as I have written about previously, earlier this month FEMA posted a solicitation for a large number of pre-packaged meals. According to the solicitation, the maximum number of meals that would be provided to FEMA under the contract would be 17.5 million meals. The following is from the FEMA solicitation document….
As referred to in paragraph (b) of FAR Clause 52.216-22, “Indefinite Quantity” of this contract, the guaranteed contract minimum is 21,000 packaged meals to include the base and option periods. The contract ceiling amount shall not exceed 17,500,000 packaged meals.
So do those solicitations mean anything special or are they just part of normal government operations?
That is a good question.
But what we do know is that U.S. military personnel are going to be deployed at the Democratic and Republican national conventions in support of U.S. Secret Service personnel. The following is from a recent Stars and Stripes article….
“During the Democratic/Republican National Conventions, Department of Defense personnel will support the U.S. Secret Service,” a Northern Command spokesman said in an email.
“For operational security reasons we do not discuss the numbers of military personnel and resources that are involved,” U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. William G. Lewis said. “Additionally, we do not share our operational plans.”
Could the same forces be deployed to quell civil unrest sparked by a controversial election result in November?
Let us hope that this upcoming election season is not as bitter and divisive as many are projecting and let us hope that there is a clear winner in November.
The conditions are definitely right for America to be absolutely torn apart if the “perfect controversy” comes rolling along.
At this moment, Americans are incredibly frustrated. Our economy has been in the dumps for quite a few years, and now it look like another recession is starting. The patience of the American people is running out.
Over much of the western United States things are so hot and dry right now that just a single spark is often enough to set off a forest fire that can burn for weeks. Well, the same thing can be said for the political climate in the United States right now.
The American people are so hot and so angry that it would not take much to set off a raging political fire.
Let us hope that cooler heads prevail, because a single spark could set this country ablaze.