As we enter the second half of 2015, financial panic has gripped most of the globe. Stock prices are crashing in China, in Europe and in the United States. Greece is on the verge of a historic default, and now Puerto Rico and Ukraine are both threatening to default on their debts if they do not receive concessions from their creditors. Not since the financial crisis of 2008 has so much financial chaos been unleashed all at once. Could it be possible that the great financial crisis of 2015 has begun? The following are 16 facts about the tremendous financial devastation that is happening all over the world right now…
1. On Monday, the Dow fell by 350 points. That was the biggest one day decline that we have seen in two years.
2. In Europe, stocks got absolutely smashed. Germany’s DAX index dropped 3.6 percent, and France’s CAC 40 was down 3.7 percent.
3. After Greece, Italy is considered to be the most financially troubled nation in the eurozone, and on Monday Italian stocks were down more than 5 percent.
4. Greek stocks were down an astounding 18 percent on Monday.
5. As the week began, we witnessed the largest one day increase in European bond spreads that we have seen in seven years.
6. Chinese stocks have already met the official definition of being in a “bear market” – the Shanghai Composite is already down more than 20 percent from the high earlier this year.
7. Overall, this Chinese stock market crash is the worst that we have witnessed in 19 years.
8. On Monday, Standard & Poor’s slashed Greece’s credit rating once again and publicly stated that it believes that Greece now has a 50 percent chance of leaving the euro.
11. Yields on 10 year Greek government bonds have shot past 15 percent.
12. U.S. investors are far more exposed to Greece than most people realize. The New York Times explains…
But the question of what happens when the markets do open is particularly acute for the hedge fund investors — including luminaries like David Einhorn and John Paulson — who have collectively poured more than 10 billion euros, or $11 billion, into Greek government bonds, bank stocks and a slew of other investments.
Through the weekend, Nicholas L. Papapolitis, a corporate lawyer here, was working round the clock comforting and cajoling his frantic hedge fund clients.
“People are freaking out,” said Mr. Papapolitis, 32, his eyes red and his voice hoarse. “They have made some really big bets on Greece.”
13. The Governor of Puerto Rico has announced that the debts that the small island has accumulated are “not payable“.
14. Overall, the government of Puerto Rico owes approximately 72 billion dollars to the rest of the world. Without debt restructuring, it is inevitable that Puerto Rico will default. In fact, CNN says that it could happen by the end of this summer.
15. Ukraine has just announced that it may “suspend debt payments” if their creditors do not agree to take a 40 percent “haircut”.
16. This week the Bank for International Settlements has just come out with a new report that says that central banks around the world are “defenseless” to stop the next major global financial crisis.
Without a doubt, we are overdue for another major financial crisis. All over the planet, stocks are massively overvalued, and financial markets have become completely disconnected from economic reality. And when the next crash happens, many believe that it will be even worse than what we experienced back in 2008. For example, just consider the words of Jim Rogers…
“In the United States, we have had economic slowdowns every four to seven years since the beginning of the Republic. It’s now been six or seven years since our last stock market problem. We’re overdue for another problem.”
In Rogers’ view, low interest rates caused stock prices to increase significantly. He believes many assets are priced beyond their fundamentals thanks to the ultra-easy monetary policies by the Federal Reserve. Fed supporters argue such measures are good for investors, but Rogers takes a different view.
“The Fed might tell us we don’t have to worry and that a correction or crash will never happen again. That’s balderdash! When this artificial sea of liquidity ends, we’re going to pay a terrible price. When the next economic problem occurs, it will be much worse because the debt is so much higher.”
Of course Rogers is far from alone. A recent article by Paul B. Farrell expressed similar sentiments…
America’s 95 million investors are at huge risk. Remember the $10 trillion losses in the crash and recession of 2007-2009? The $8 trillion lost after the dot-com technology crash and recession of 2000-2003? This is the third big recession of the century. Yes, America will lose trillions again.
Especially with dead-ahead predictions like Mark Cook’s 4,000-point Dow correction. And Jeremy Grantham’s warning of a 50% crash around election time, with negative stock returns through the first term of the next president, beyond 2020. Starting soon.
Why is America so vulnerable when the next recession hits? Simple: The Fed’s cheap-money giveaway is killing America. When the downturn, correction, crash hits, it will compare to the 2008 crash. The Economist warns: “the world will be in a rotten position to do much about it. Rarely have so many large economies been so ill-equipped to manage a recession,” whatever the trigger.
Things have been relatively quiet in the financial world for so long that many have been sucked into a false sense of security.
But the underlying imbalances were always there, and they have been getting worse over time.
As we move toward the second half of 2015, signs of financial turmoil are appearing all over the globe. In Greece, a full blown bank run is happening right now. Approximately 2 billion euros were pulled out of Greek banks in just the past three days, Barclays says that capital controls are “imminent” unless a debt deal is struck, and there are reports that preparations are being made for a “bank holiday” in Greece. Meanwhile, Chinese stocks are absolutely crashing. The Shanghai Composite Index was down more than 13 percent this week alone. That was the largest one week decline since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. In the U.S., stocks aren’t crashing yet, but we just witnessed one of the largest one week outflows of capital from the bond markets that we have ever witnessed. Slowly but surely, we are starting to see the smart money head for the exits. As one Swedish fund manager put it recently, everyone wants “to avoid being caught on the wrong side of markets once the herd realizes stocks are over-valued“.
I don’t think that most people understand how serious things have gotten already. In Greece, so much money has been pulled out of the banks that the European Central Bank admits that Greek banks may not be able to open on Monday…
The European Central Bank told a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Thursday that it was not sure if Greek banks, which have been suffering large daily deposit outflows, would be able to open on Monday, officials with knowledge of the talks said.
Greek savers have withdrawn about 2 billion euros from banks over the past three days, with outflows accelerating rapidly since talks between the government and its creditors collapsed at the weekend, banking sources told Reuters.
All over social media, people are sharing photos of long lines at Greek ATMs as ordinary citizens rush to get their cash out of the troubled banks. Here is one example…
And if there is no debt deal by the end of this month, the Greek debt crisis is going to totally spin out of control and financial chaos will begin to erupt all over Europe. But instead of trying to be reasonable, EU president Donald Tusk “has delivered an ultimatum to Greece”, and it almost appears as if EU officials are more concerned about winning a power struggle than they are about averting financial catastrophe…
EU president Donald Tusk has delivered an ultimatum to Greece, claiming the country must ‘accept an offer or default’ at an emergency summit set for Monday – in a last-ditch effort to stop the debt-stricken nation crashing out of the euro.
‘We are close to the point where the Greek government will have to choose between accepting what I believe is a good offer of continued support or to head towards default,’ Mr Tusk said today.
His comments come as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned that his country’s exit from the eurozone would trigger the collapse of the single currency.
‘The famous Grexit cannot be an option either for the Greeks or the European Union,’ he said in an Austrian newspaper interview.
‘This would be an irreversible step, it would be the beginning of the end of the eurozone.’
While all of this has been going on, the obscene stock market bubble in China has started to implode. Just check out the following numbers from Zero Hedge…
As the carnage began last night in China we noted the extreme levels of volatility the major indices had experienced in recent weeks. By the close, things were ugly with the broad Shanghai Composite down a stunning 13.3% on the week – the most since Lehman in 2008 (with Shenzhen slightly better at down 12.8% and CHINEXT down a record-breaking 14.99%).
Under normal circumstances, numbers like these would be reason for a full-blown financial panic over in Asia. But these are not normal times. Even with these losses, stock prices in China are still massively overinflated. For example, USA Today is reporting that the median stock over in China is “trading at 95 times earnings”…
Margin debt in China has soared to a record $363 billion, according to Bloomberg, and the median stock in mainland China is now trading at 95 times earnings, which even tops the price-to-earnings multiple of 68 back at the 2007 peak.
That is absolutely ridiculous. When a stock is trading at 25 or 30 times earnings it is overpriced. So these numbers that are coming out of China are beyond crazy, and what this means is that Chinese stocks have much, much farther to fall before they get back to any semblance of reality.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. money is flowing out of bonds at a staggering pace. The following quote originally comes from Bank of America…
“High grade credit funds suffered their biggest outflow this year, and double the previous week (and also the biggest since June 2013). High yield outflows also jumped to $1.1bn, the biggest since the start of the year. However, government bond funds suffered the most amid the recent spike in volatility, with outflows surging to the highest weekly number on record ($2.7bn). This brings the total outflow from fixed income funds to almost $6bn over the last week, the highest since the Taper Tantrum and the third highest outflow ever.”
Yesterday during an interview on MSNBC, presidential candidate Donald Trump said he has some big names in mind for the Treasury secretary if he wins the White House. “I’d like guys like Jack Welch. I like guys like Henry Kravis. I’d love to bring my friend Carl Icahn.” He also opined on the economy and the stock market, admitting that the Fed has benefited people like him but that the economy and is in a “big fat economic and financial bubble like you’ve never seen before.“
Ron Paul also believes that this financial bubble is going to end very badly. Just check out what he told CNBC earlier this week…
Despite record highs in the market, former Rep. Ron Paul says the Fed’s easy money policies have left stocks and bonds are on the verge of a massive collapse.
“I am utterly amazed at how the Federal Reserve can play havoc with the market,” Paul said on CNBC’s “Futures Now” referring to Thursday’s surge in stocks. The S&P 500 closed less than 1 percent off its all-time high. “I look at it as being very unstable.”
In Paul’s eyes, “the fallacy of economic planning” has created such a “horrendous bubble” in the bond market that it’s only a matter of time before the bottom falls out. And when it does, it will lead to “stock market chaos.”
Yes, this financial bubble has persisted far longer than many believed possible, but all irrational bubbles eventually burst.
And you know what they say – the bigger they come the harder they fall.
When this gigantic financial bubble finally implodes, it is going to be absolutely horrifying, and the entire planet is going to be shocked by the carnage.
The Chinese do not plan to live in a world dominated by the U.S. dollar for much longer. Chinese leaders have been calling for the U.S. dollar to be replaced as the primary global reserve currency for a long time, but up until now they have never been very specific about what they would put in place of it. Many have assumed that the Chinese simply wanted some new international currency to be created. But what if that is not what the Chinese had in mind? What if they have always wanted their own currency to become the single most dominant currency on the entire planet? What you are about to see is rather startling, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. When it comes to economics and finance, the Chinese have always been playing chess while the western world has been playing checkers. Sadly, we have gotten to the point where checkmate is on the horizon.
On Wednesday, I came across an excellent article by Simon Black. What he had to say in that article just about floored me…
When I arrived to Bangkok the other day, coming down the motorway from the airport I saw a huge billboard—and it floored me.
The billboard was from the Bank of China. It said: “RMB: New Choice; The World Currency”
Given that the Bank of China is more than 70% owned by the government of the People’s Republic of China, I find this very significant.
It means that China is literally advertising its currency overseas, and it’s making sure that everyone landing at one of the world’s busiest airports sees it. They know that the future belongs to them and they’re flaunting it.
This is the photograph of that billboard that he posted with his article…
Everyone knows that China is rising.
And most everyone has assumed that Chinese currency would soon play a larger role in international trade.
But things have moved so rapidly in recent years that now a very large chunk of the financial world actually expects the renminbi to replace the dollar as the primary reserve currency of the planet someday. The following comes from CNBC…
The tightly controlled Chinese yuan will eventually supersede the dollar as the top international reserve currency, according to a new poll of institutional investors.
The survey of 200 institutional investors – 100 headquartered in mainland China and 100 outside of it – published by State Street and the Economist Intelligence Unit on Thursday found 53 percent of investors think the renminbi will surpass the U.S. dollar as the world’s major reserve currency.
Optimism was higher within China, where 62 percent said they saw a redback world on the horizon, compared with 43 percent outside China.
And without a doubt we are starting to see the beginnings of a significant shift.
China’s yuan broke into the top five as a world payment currency in November, overtaking the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar, global transaction services organization SWIFT said on Wednesday.
The U.S. dollar won’t be replaced overnight, but things are changing.
Of course the truth is that the Chinese have been preparing for this for a very long time. The Chinese refuse to tell the rest of the world exactly how much gold they have, but everyone knows that they have been accumulating enormous amounts of it. And even if they don’t explicitly back the renminbi with gold, the massive gold reserves that China is accumulating will still give the rest of the planet a great deal of confidence in Chinese currency.
But don’t just take my word for it. Consider what Alan Greenspan has had to say on the matter…
Alan Greenspan, who served at the helm of the Federal Reserve for nearly two decades, recently penned an op-ed for the Council on Foreign Relations discussing gold and its possible role in China, the world’s second-largest economy. He notes that if China converted only a “relatively modest part of its $4 trillion foreign exchange reserves into gold, the country’s currency could take on unexpected strength in today’s international financial system.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese have also been accumulating a tremendous amount of U.S. debt. At this point, the Chinese own approximately 1.3 trillion dollars worth of our debt, and that gives them a lot of power over our currency and over our financial system.
Someday if the Chinese wanted to undermine confidence in the U.S. dollar and in the U.S. financial system, they have a lot of ammunition at their disposal.
And it isn’t just all of that debt that gives China leverage. In recent years, the Chinese have been buying up real estate, businesses and energy assets all over the United States at a staggering pace. For a small taste of what has been taking place, check out the YouTube video posted below…
For much, much more on this trend, please see the following articles…
On a purchasing power basis, the size of the Chinese economy has already surpassed the size of the U.S. economy.
And there are lots of signs of trouble ahead for the U.S. economy at this point. I like how Brandon Smith put it in one recent article…
We are only two months into 2015, and it has already proven to be the most volatile year for the economic environment since 2008-2009. We have seen oil markets collapsing by about 50 percent in the span of a few months (just as the Federal Reserve announced the end of QE3, indicating fiat money was used to hide falling demand), the Baltic Dry Index losing 30 percent since the beginning of the year, the Swiss currency surprise, the Greeks threatening EU exit (and now Greek citizens threatening violent protests with the new four-month can-kicking deal), and the effects of the nine-month-long West Coast port strike not yet quantified. This is not just a fleeting expression of a negative first quarter; it is a sign of things to come.
In addition, things continue to look quite bleak for Europe. Once upon a time, many expected the euro to overtake the U.S. dollar as the primary global reserve currency, but that didn’t happen. And in recent months the euro has been absolutely crashing. On Wednesday, it hit the lowest point that we have seen against the dollar in more than a decade…
The euro last stood at $1.1072, off 0.90 percent for the day and below a key support level, Sutton said. It fell to as little as $1.1066, which was the lowest level for the euro against the dollar since September 2003, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The euro also declined to one-month lows against the Japanese yen, which was flat against the dollar at 119.72 yen to the dollar.
As the U.S. and Europe continue to struggle, China is going to want a significantly larger role on the global stage.
And as the billboard in Thailand suggests, they are more than willing to step up to the plate.
So will the road to the future be paved with Chinese currency? Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
Did you know that we buy nearly five times as much stuff from the Chinese as they buy from us? According to government numbers that were just released, we imported 44.9 billion dollars worth of stuff from China in September but we only exported 9.3 billion dollars worth of stuff to them. And this is not happening because our economy is so much larger than China’s. In fact, the IMF says that China now has the largest economy on the entire planet on a purchasing power basis. No, the truth is that this is happening because our economy is broken. Every month, we consume far more wealth than we produce. Because the outflow of money is far greater than the inflow, we have to go to major exporting nations and beg them to lend our dollars back to us so that we can pay our bills. Meanwhile, the quality of the jobs in this country continues to go down and our formerly great manufacturing cities are rotting and decaying. We are committing national economic suicide, and most Americans don’t seem to care.
Barack Obama is constantly hyping a “manufacturing resurgence” in America, but the numbers don’t lie. In September, our manufactured goods trade deficit with the rest of the world soared to a new all-time record high of 69.16 billion dollars. For the year, we are nearly 12 percent ahead of last year’s record pace.
When we buy far more things than we sell, we get poorer as a nation.
How do you think that we ever got into a position of owing China more than a trillion dollars?
We just kept buying far more from them than they bought from us, and their money just kept piling up. Now it has gotten to the point where our politicians literally beg them to lend our money back to us. They are the head and we are the tail.
And we did this to ourselves.
Once upon a time, the United States was the greatest manufacturing powerhouse that the world had ever seen. But now China manufactures more stuff than us and China also accounts for more total global trade (imports plus exports) than us.
This should never have happened. Several decades ago, the Chinese economy was a complete joke. But decades of incredibly foolish decisions by our politicians have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities, millions of good paying jobs and the destruction of vast stretches of our economic infrastructure.
During the same time frame, gleaming new manufacturing facilities have gone up all over China.
China is literally wiping the floor with us on the global economic stage and most Americans don’t even understand what is happening. Here is more on the trade deficit numbers that were just released from the RealityChek Blog…
>The China goods deficit of $35.56 billion blew past the old mark of $30.86 billion, set in July, by 15.23 percent. The new deficit also represented a 17.77 percent increase over the August level of $30.20 billion.
>U.S. goods exports to the still strongly growing Chinese economy fell on month in September from $9.63 billion to $9.33 billion (3.12 percent). U.S. merchandise imports from China jumped by 12.70 percent over August levels, from $39.83 billion to $44.89 billion – itself an all-time high.
>The U.S. goods deficit with China this year is now so far running 5.62 percent ahead of 2014’s record pace.
>The longstanding U.S. manufacturing trade shortfall shot up from $59.10 billion in August to $69.16 billion in September. This 17.02 percent jump resulted in a beat of the old record of $67.33 billion, also set in July, by 2.72 percent.
And it isn’t just cheap plastic trinkets that China is selling to us.
In fact, their number one export to us is computer equipment.
Meanwhile, one of our main exports to them is “scrap and trash”.
Sadly, there are a couple of factors that will probably make our trade deficit with the rest of the world even worse in the months ahead.
Number one, the currency war that I wrote about earlier this week will probably push the U.S. dollar even higher against the yen and the euro.
You might think that a rising dollar sounds good, but the truth is that it will make our exports less competitive in the global marketplace.
Nations such as Japan devalue their currencies so that they can sell more stuff to us. But that hurts our own domestic industries. And when our own domestic industries suffer, that means less jobs for American workers.
Secondly, the collapse in the price of oil could have very serious implications for the shale oil industry.
In recent years, the shale oil revolution has caused local economic booms in states such as Texas and North Dakota. But shale oil tends to be quite expensive to extract. As I write this, the price of U.S. oil has fallen to about 77 dollars a barrel. If it stays at that level or keeps going down, shale oil production in the United States will slow down dramatically.
In other words, a lot of these shale oil “boom towns” could go “bust” very rapidly.
If that happens, the amount of oil that we import will rise substantially and that will add to our overall trade deficit.
But of course the biggest factor fueling our trade deficit is that the vast majority of Americans simply do not care that we are committing national economic suicide.
When we buy products made in America, we support American businesses and American workers.
When we buy products made overseas, we hurt American businesses, we kill American jobs and we make ourselves poorer as a nation.
Of course there is nothing wrong with buying a foreign-made product once in a while. But this holiday season, most people will fill their shopping carts to the brim with foreign-made goods without even thinking twice about it.
The next time that you go into a huge retail establishment such as Wal-Mart, start picking up products and look to see where they were made.
I think that you will be shocked at how few of them are actually made inside the United States.
When are Americans going to get sick and tired of making China wealthier at our expense?
We are willing participants in the destruction of the U.S. economy, and yet only a small minority of people seem to care.
What is it going to take for people to finally wake up?
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”…
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.
As the Obama administration continues to alienate almost everyone else around the entire planet, an increasing number of prominent international voices are starting to question why the U.S. dollar should be so overwhelmingly dominant in global trade. In previous articles, I have discussed Russia’s “de-dollarization strategy” and the fact that Gazprom is now asking their large customers to start paying in currencies other than the dollar. But this is not just a story about Russia any longer. As you will read about below, China and South Korea have just signed a major agreement to facilitate trade with one another using their own national currencies, and even prominent French officials are now talking about the need to use the dollar less and the euro more. John Williams of shadowstats.com recently said that things have never “been more negative” for the U.S. dollar, and he was right on the mark. The power of the almighty dollar has allowed all of us living in the United States to enjoy an extremely high standard of living for decades, but as that power now fades it is going to have profound implications for the U.S. economy. In future years the value of the dollar will go down substantially, all of the imported goods filling our stores will become much more expensive, and it is going to cost the federal government a lot more to borrow money. Unfortunately, with the stock market hitting all-time record highs and with the mainstream media endlessly touting an “economic recovery”, most Americans are not paying any attention to these things.
French oil giant Total is one of the largest energy companies in the entire world. On Saturday, Total’s CEO made an absolutely stunning statement. According to Reuters, he told reporters that there “is no reason to pay for oil in dollars”…
“Doing without the (U.S.) dollar, that wouldn’t be realistic, but it would be good if the euro was used more,” he told reporters.
“There is no reason to pay for oil in dollars,” he said. He said the fact that oil prices are quoted in dollars per barrel did not mean that payments actually had to be made in that currency.
If Gazprom’s CEO had made such a statement, it would not have really surprised anyone. But this came from a high profile French CEO. A decade ago, it would have been unthinkable for him to say such a thing. Wars have been started over less. Virtually all oil and natural gas around the planet has been bought and sold for U.S. dollars since the 1970s, and this is an arrangement that the U.S. government has traditionally guarded very zealously. But now that Russia has broken the petrodollar monopoly, the fear of questioning the almighty dollar appears to be dissipating.
And at this point even French government officials are not afraid to publicly discuss moving away from the U.S. dollar. Just check out what French finance minister Michel Sapin said to the press this weekend…
French finance minister Michel Sapin says “now is the right time to bolster the use of the euro” adding, more ominously for the dollar, “we sell ourselves aircraft in dollars. Is that really necessary? I don’t think so.” Careful to avoid upsetting his ‘allies’ across the pond, Sapin followed up with the slam-dunk diplomacy, “This is not a fight against dollar imperialism,” except, of course – that’s exactly what it is… just as it was over 40 years ago when the French challenged Nixon.
The remarks come a week after Paris-based bank BNP Paribas (BNP) SA was slapped with a $8.97 billion fine by U.S. authorities for transactions carried out in dollars in countries facing American sanctions. The fine spurred debate in France about the right of the U.S. in extending its regulatory reach beyond its borders.
This is yet another example of how the Obama administration is alienating friends all over the globe.
In fact, there doesn’t seem to be anyone that the Obama administration is afraid of crossing. Just a couple of days ago, the German press exploded in outrage when Germany arrested a U.S. spy. Why we feel the need to spy on our friends is something that I will never figure out.
And of course our relations with Russia are probably the worst that they have been since the end of the Cold War at this point. And as the Russians now rapidly move away from the U.S. dollar, they seem intent on bringing the rest of “the BRICS” with them. The following is a short excerpt from a recent Voice of Russia article entitled “BRICS morphing into anti-dollar alliance“…
However, in her discussion with Vladimir Putin, the head of the Russian central bank unveiled an elegant technical solution for this problem and left a clear hint regarding the members of the anti-dollar alliance that is being created by the efforts of Moscow and Beijing:
“We’ve done a lot of work on the ruble-yuan swap deal in order to facilitate trade financing. I have a meeting next week in Beijing,” she said casually and then dropped the bomb: “We are discussing with China and our BRICS parters the establishment of a system of multilateral swaps that will allow to transfer resources to one or another country, if needed. A part of the currency reserves can be directed to [the new system].” (source of the quote: Prime news agency)
It seems that the Kremlin chose the all-in-one approach for establishing its anti-dollar alliance. Currency swaps between the BRICS central banks will facilitate trade financing while completely bypassing the dollar. At the same time, the new system will also act as a de facto replacement of the IMF, because it will allow the members of the alliance to direct resources to finance the weaker countries. As an important bonus, derived from this “quasi-IMF” system, the BRICS will use a part (most likely the “dollar part”) of their currency reserves to support it, thus drastically reducing the amount of dollar-based instruments bought by some of the biggest foreign creditors of the US.
Of course the key economic player in the BRICS alliance is China.
So will China actually go along with a “de-dollarization” strategy?
Well, the truth is that China has been making moves to become more independent of the dollar for a long time, and it has just been announced that China and South Korea have signed an agreement which will mean more direct trade between the two nations using their own national currencies…
China’s central bank has authorized the Bank of Communications, the country’s fifth largest lender, to undertake yuan clearing business in the South Korean capital, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) said in a statement.
The announcement came as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a state visit to South Korea on Friday. China is seeking to make the yuan – also known as the renminbi – used more internationally in keeping with the country’s status as the world’s second biggest economy behind the United States.
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t care about any of this at all.
They don’t understand that more U.S. dollars are actually used outside the United States than are used inside the United States. Because most of the rest of the world uses U.S. dollars to trade with one another, this has created a tremendous amount of artificial demand for our currency. In other words, the value of the U.S. dollar is much higher than it otherwise would be, and this has enabled us to import trillions of dollars of products at ridiculously low prices. The standard of living that we enjoy today is highly dependent on this arrangement continuing.
And our ability to fund the federal government and our state and local governments is heavily dependent on the rest of the planet loaning our dollars back to us for next to nothing. If we actually had to pay realistic market rates to borrow money, the finances of the federal government would have already collapsed long ago.
So it is absolutely imperative for our own economic well-being that this “de-dollarization” trend not accelerate any further. The rest of the world could actually severely hurt us by deciding to stop using the almighty dollar, and the more that the Obama administration antagonizes both our friends and our foes around the globe the more likely that is to happen.
We live in very perilous times, and the almighty dollar is more vulnerable now than it has been in decades.
If it starts collapsing, it will take down the entire U.S. financial system with it.
Let us hope that we still have a bit more time before that happens, because once the U.S. dollar collapses it will be exceedingly painful for all of us.
A lot of people that I talk to these days want to know “when things are going to start happening”. Well, there are certainly some perilous times on the horizon, but all you have to do is open up your eyes and look to see the global economic crisis unfolding. As you will see below, even central bankers are issuing frightening warnings about “dangerous new asset bubbles” and even the World Bank is declaring that “now is the time to prepare” for the next crisis. Most Americans tend to only care about what is happening in the United States, but the truth is that serious economic trouble is erupting in South America, all across Europe and in Asian powerhouses such as China and Japan. And the endless conflicts in the Middle East could erupt into a major regional war at just about any time. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable, and people need to understand that the period of relative stability that we are enjoying right now is extremely vulnerable and will not last long. The following are 18 signs that the global economic crisis is accelerating as we enter the last half of 2014…
#1 The Bank for International Settlements has issued a new report which warns that “dangerous new asset bubbles” are forming which could potentially lead to another major financial crisis. Do the central bankers know something that we don’t, or are they just trying to place the blame on someone else for the giant mess that they have created?
#6 Economies all over Europe are either showing no growth or are shrinking. Just check out what a recent Forbes article had to say about the matter…
Italy’s economy shrank by 0.1% in the first three months of 2014, matching the average of the three previous quarters. After expanding 0.6% in Q2 2013, France recorded zero growth. Portugal shrank 0.7%, following positive numbers in the preceding nine months. While figures weren’t available for Greece and Ireland in Q1, neither country is showing progress. Greek GDP dropped 2.5% in the final three months of last year, and Ireland limped ahead at 0.2%.
#7 A few days ago it was reported that consumer prices in Japan are rising at the fastest pace in 32 years.
#8 Household expenditures in Japan are down 8 percent compared to one year ago.
#9 U.S. companies are drowning in massive amounts of debt, but the corporate debt bubble in China is so bad that the amount of corporate debt in China has actually now surpassed the amount of corporate debt in the United States.
#10 One Chinese auditor is warning that up to 80 billion dollars worth of loans in China are backed by falsified gold transactions. What will that do to the price of gold and the stability of Chinese financial markets as that mess unwinds?
#11 The unemployment rate in Greece is currently sitting at 26.7 percent and the youth unemployment rate is 56.8 percent.
#1267.5 percent of the people that are unemployed in Greece have been unemployed for over a year.
#13 The unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole is 11.8 percent – just a little bit shy of the all-time record of 12.0 percent.
#14 The European Central Bank is so desperate to get money moving through the system that it has actually introduced negative interest rates.
#15 The IMF is projecting that there is a 25 percent chance that the eurozone will slip into deflation by the end of next year.
#17 The economic conflict between the United States and Russia continues to deepen. This has caused Russia to make a series of moves away from the U.S. dollar and toward other major currencies. This will have serious ramifications for the global financial system as time rolls along.
#18 Of course the U.S. economy is struggling right now as well. It shrank at a 2.9 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2014, which was much worse than anyone had anticipated.
But if U.S. economic numbers look a bit better for the second quarter, that doesn’t mean that we are out of the woods.
As I have stressed so many times, the long-term trends and the long-term balance sheet numbers are far, far more important than the short-term economic numbers.
For example, if you went to the mall today and spent a thousand dollars on candy and video games, your short-term “economic activity” would spike dramatically. But your long-term financial health would take a significant turn for the worse.
Well, when we are talking about the health of the U.S. economy or the entire global financial system we need to keep the same kinds of considerations in mind.
As for the United States, whether the level of our debt-fueled short-term economic activity goes up a little bit or down a little bit is not what is truly important.
So it doesn’t really matter too much whether the short-term economic numbers go up a little bit or down a little bit right now. The whole system is an inherently flawed Ponzi scheme that will inevitably collapse under its own weight.
Let us hope that this period of relative stability lasts for a while longer. It is a good thing to have time to prepare. But you would have to be absolutely insane to think that the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world is never going to burst.
Russia and China have just signed what is being called “the gas deal of the century”, and the two countries are discussing moving away from the U.S. dollar and using their own currencies to trade with one another. This has huge implications for the future of the U.S. economy, but the mainstream media in the United States is being strangely quiet about all of this. For example, I searched CNN’s website to see if I could find something about this gas deal between Russia and China and I did not find anything. But I did find links to “top stories” entitled “Celebs who went faux red” and “Adorable kid tugs on Obama’s ear“. Is it any wonder why the mainstream media is dying? If a particular story does not fit their agenda, they will simply ignore it. But the truth is that this new agreement between Russia and China is huge. It could end up fundamentally changing the global financial system, and not in a way that would be beneficial for the United States.
Russia and China had been negotiating this natural gas deal for ten years, and now it is finally done. Russia is the largest exporter of natural gas on the entire planet, and China is poised to become the world’s largest economy in just a few years. This new $400 billion agreement means that these two superpowers could potentially enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship for the next 30 years…
Russia reached a $400 billion deal to supply natural gas to China through a new pipeline over 30 years, a milestone in relations between the world’s largest energy producer and the biggest consumer.
President Vladimir Putin is turning to China to bolster Russia’s economy as relations sour with the U.S. and European Union because of the crisis in Ukraine. Today’s accord, signed after more than a decade of talks, will allow state-run gas producer OAO Gazprom (GAZP) to invest $55 billion developing giant gas fields in eastern Siberia and building the pipeline, Putin said.
It’s an “epochal event,” Putin said in Shanghai after the contract was signed. Both countries are satisfied with the price, he said.
Of course countries sell oil and natural gas to each other all the time. But what makes this deal such a potential problem for the U.S. is the fact that Russia and China are working on cutting the U.S. dollar out of the entire equation. Just check out the following excerpt from a recent article in a Russian news source…
Russia and China are planning to increase the volume of direct payments in mutual trade in their national currencies, according to a joint statement on a new stage of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation signed during high-level talks in Shanghai on Tuesday.
“The sides intend to take new steps to increase the level and expansion of spheres of Russian-Chinese practical cooperation, in particular to establish close cooperation in the financial sphere, including an increase in direct payments in the Russian and Chinese national currencies in trade, investments and loan services,” the statement said.
In my recent article entitled “De-Dollarization: Russia Is On The Verge Of Dealing A Massive Blow To The Petrodollar“, I warned about what could happen if the petrodollar monopoly ends. In the United States, our current standard of living is extremely dependent on the rest of the world continuing to use our currency to trade with one another. If Russia starts selling natural gas to China without the U.S. dollar being involved, that would be a monumental blow to the petrodollar. And if other nations started following the lead of Russia and China, that could result in an avalanche from which the petrodollar may never recover.
And it isn’t just the national governments of Russia and China that are discussing moving away from the U.S. dollar. For example, the second largest bank in Russia just signed a deal with the Bank of China “to pay each other in domestic currencies”…
VTB, Russia’s second biggest lender, has signed a deal with Bank of China, which includes an agreement to pay each other in domestic currencies.
“Under the agreement, the banks plan to develop their partnership in a number of areas, including cooperation on ruble and renminbi settlements, investment banking, inter-bank lending, trade finance and capital-markets transactions,” says the official VTB statement.
The deal underlines VTB Group’s growing interest in Asian markets and will help grow trade between Russia and China that are already close trading partners, said VTB Bank Management Board Vasily Titov.
You can almost feel the power of the U.S. dollar fading.
Well, now China’s intentions have become even more clear.
The Chinese do not plan to allow the United States to indefinitely dominate the globe financially. In the long run, the Chinese plan to be the ones calling the shots, and that means that the power of the U.S. dollar must decline.
These days, instead of piling up mountains of U.S. currency, China has started accumulating hard assets instead. In the past, I have written about how China is rapidly stockpiling gold, and it turns out that the Chinese have also been very busy stockpiling oil as well…
China is stockpiling oil for its strategic petroleum reserve at a record pace, intervening on a scale large enough to send a powerful pulse through the world crude market.
The move comes as tensions mount in the South China Sea and the West prepares possible oil sanctions against Russia over the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Analysts believe China is quietly building up buffers against a possible spike in oil prices or disruptions in supply.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its latest monthly report that China imported 6.81m barrels per day (bpd) in April, an all-time high.
Once upon a time, China was extremely dependent on the United States economically. The same was true with most of the rest of the world.
But now economic power has shifted so dramatically that nations such as Russia and China are realizing that they don’t really need to be dependent on the United States any longer.
And with each passing year, the relationship between Russia and China is becoming stronger. As Pepe Escobar recently observed, this emerging alliance is causing quite a bit of consternation in Washington…
And no wonder Washington is anxious. That alliance is already a done deal in a variety of ways: through the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Asian counterweight to NATO; inside the G20; and via the 120-member-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Trade and commerce are just part of the future bargain. Synergies in the development of new military technologies beckon as well. After Russia’s Star Wars-style, ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense anti-missile system comes online in 2018, Beijing is sure to want a version of it. Meanwhile, Russia is about to sell dozens of state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters to the Chinese as Beijing and Moscow move to seal an aviation-industrial partnership.
China on Tuesday warned the United States was jeopardizing military ties by charging five Chinese officers with cyberspying and tried to turn the tables on Washington by calling it “the biggest attacker of China’s cyberspace.”
China announced it was suspending cooperation with the United States in a joint cybersecurity task force over Monday’s charges that officers stole trade secrets from major American companies. The Foreign Ministry demanded Washington withdraw the indictment.
The testy exchange marked an escalation in tensions over U.S. complaints that China’s military uses its cyber warfare skills to steal foreign trade secrets to help the country’s vast state-owned industrial sector.
The divide between the East and the West is growing.
But the Obama administration has not figured out that we need the East more than they need us.
Right now, the number one U.S. export is U.S. dollars. Our massively inflated standard of living is very heavily dependent on the rest of the world using our currency to trade with one another and lending it to us at super low interest rates.
If the rest of the world quits playing our game, our debt-based financial system will quickly fall apart.
Unfortunately, nobody in the Obama administration seems to have much understanding of global economics, and they will probably continue to antagonize Russia and China.
In the end, the consequences for antagonizing them could end up being far greater than any of us ever imagined.
Is Detroit destined to become a Chinese city? Chinese homebuyers and Chinese businesses are starting to flood into the Motor City, and the governor of Michigan is greatly encouraging this. In fact, he has formally asked the Obama administration for 50,000 special federal immigration visas to encourage even more immigration from China and elsewhere. So will Detroit be the first major city in the United States to be dominated by China? It could happen. Once upon a time, Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city in the history of the world and it had the highest per capita income in the entire country. But now it is a rotting, decaying, bankrupt hellhole that is in desperate need of a savior, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appears to be fully convinced that China can be that savior.
To Snyder, encouraging foreigners to invest money and buy up properties won’t cost the state government much, but it could potentially have great benefits…
Under a plan to be unveiled Thursday, Gov. Rick Snyder will request 50,000 special federal immigration visas over the next five years to attract foreign professionals who are willing to work and live in the city.
Mr. Snyder, in an interview Wednesday, said that “this is one way for the federal government to step up to provide significant value without cost that could have a huge impact on the city’s future.”
“Let’s send a message to the entire world: Detroit, Michigan, is open to the world.“
In other words, Snyder wants China to save Detroit since nobody in this country is going to.
Snyder has also taken a couple of additional steps to encourage immigration and foreign investment, including opening up something called “an Office for New Americans”…
Opening an Office for New Americans to attract and help immigrants better adjust to life in Michigan, and designating the state as an Employer Based or EB-5 center to expedite visas and permits for immigrants who want to open business in the state with investments of at least $500,000 and 10 employees.
In essence, Snyder has done just about everything except roll out the welcome mat for the Chinese.
But this is nothing new for Governor Snyder. In fact, he has been making overtures to China for years…
Snyder, who was a businessman before starting his political career, believes that automobiles can no longer change the fate of Detroit. He said that he has learned from the history of the United States that what has made the nation great is immigrants.
In the early 1990s, Snyder went to China to develop the automobile market. After he was elected as the governor of Michigan, he made at least one trip to China every year, with the aim of recruiting talent.
He hopes that well-educated Chinese people can revitalize the Motor City in the new era. And as he desired, after Detroit announced its bankruptcy in 2013, the Chinese began to take the dying city by storm.
Rich Chinese men see Detroit as a rare opportunity for investment outside their home country.
In 2013, without any field investigation, Dongdu International Group of Shanghai — whose assets total 5 billion yuan (US$800 million) — spent US$13.6 million to buy the David Stott building and the Detroit Free Press building at auctions in September.
And when we talk about the Chinese domination of Detroit, this is not something that is just future tense. This is something that is already happening right now. For example, the following is an excerpt from a CNBC article that discussed how Chinese companies are already aggressively “putting down roots in Detroit”…
Dozens of companies from China are putting down roots in Detroit, part of the country’s steady push into the American auto industry.
Chinese-owned companies are investing in American businesses and new vehicle technology, selling everything from seat belts to shock absorbers in retail stores, and hiring experienced engineers and designers in an effort to soak up the talent and expertise of domestic automakers and their suppliers.
The transformation that has taken place in that region of the country is absolutely remarkable.
And now we are relying on China to come in and salvage the ruins of our gutted economic infrastructure.
Not only that, but the Chinese are also eagerly buying up homes at extremely depressed prices all over Detroit.
According to CNN, Detroit is already number four on the list of the top 10 destinations for Chinese homebuyers. In many cases, Chinese buyers are scooping up properties without even looking at them first. Just check out what one Detroit real estate broker told Quartz last July…
“I have people calling and saying, ‘I’m serious—I wanna buy 100, 200 properties,’” she tells Quartz, noting that one of her colleagues recently sold 30 properties to a Chinese buyer. “They say ‘We don’t need to see them. Just pick the good ones.’”
And they aren’t just interested in Detroit. As I have written about previously, one Chinese company known as “Sino-Michigan Properties LLC” actually had plans to buy 200 acres of land near the little town of Milan, Michigan and turn it into a “China City” with artificial lakes, a Chinese cultural center and hundreds of housing units for Chinese citizens. For much more on how Chinese buyers are gobbling up real estate all over the nation, please see my previous article entitled “The Chinese Are Acquiring Large Chunks Of Land In Communities All Over America“.
All of this is just another indication of how rapidly the global economic landscape is changing.
Since the late 19th Century, the United States has been the most dominant economic power in the world.