When the stock market starts to behave like a roller coaster, that is a sign that a major move to the downside is right around the corner. As I have stated repeatedly, when the market is very calm it tends to go up. But when the waters start getting really choppy, that is a clear indication that stocks are about to plummet. In early 2015, volatility has returned to Wall Street in a big way. At one point on Tuesday, the Dow was up more than 300 points. But then the bottom dropped out. From the peak on Tuesday, the Dow plunged nearly 700 points in less than 30 hours before recovering more than 100 points at the end of the day. The Dow has now experienced the longest losing streak that we have seen in 3 months, but that is not that big of a deal. Of much greater concern is the huge price swings that we have been seeing. Remember, the three largest single day stock market increases in history were right in the middle of the financial crisis of 2008. So if stocks go up 400 points tomorrow that is NOT a good sign. What we really need is a string of days when stocks move less than 100 points in either direction. If stocks keep making dramatic moves up and dramatic moves down, history tells us that it is only a matter of time before they collapse. Any student of stock market history knows that what we are witnessing right now is exactly how markets behave right before they crash.
Examine the chart below very carefully. It is a chart of the CBOE Volatility Index from 2006 to 2008. As you can see, volatility was very low as stocks soared during 2006. Then things started to get a bit choppy in 2007, and investors should have recognized this as a warning sign. Finally, you can see that the VIX absolutely skyrocketed during the financial crisis of 2008…
Looking back, it seems so obvious.
So why aren’t more people alarmed this time around?
As CNN is reporting, the VIX is up almost 20 percent so far in 2015…
Volatility has returned with a vengeance this January. The Dow has been moving up or down by at least 100 points nearly every day this year.
CNNMoney’s Fear & Greed Index is showing signs of Extreme Fear again. And a volatility gauge known as the VIX, which is one of the components in our index, is up nearly 20% so far this year.
Meanwhile, there are lots of other signs of trouble on the horizon as well.
For example, the price of copper got absolutely hammered on Wednesday. As I write this, it has fallen more than 5 percent and it has not been this low in more than five years.
In financial circles, it is referred to as “Dr. Copper” because it is such a valuable indicator regarding where the global economy is heading next.
For example, in 2008 the price of copper was close to $4.00 before plummeting to below $1.50 by the end of that year as the global financial system fell apart.
One growing global worry is the steep decline in copper, which is used in many products and is often viewed as good gauge on how China is doing. The price of copper hit its lowest price since 2009 on Wednesday at $2.46. Copper is down nearly 7% this week alone.
Meanwhile, the recession (some call it a depression) in Europe continues to get even worse, and the euro continues to plunge.
On Wednesday, the euro declined to the lowest level that we have seen in nine years, and Goldman Sachs is now saying that the euro and the U.S. dollar could be at parity by the end of next year.
That is amazing considering the fact that it took $1.60 to get one euro back in July 2008.
Personally, I am fully convinced that Goldman Sachs is right on this one. I believe that the euro is going to all-time lows that we have never seen before, and this is going to create massive problems for the eurozone.
With all of these signs of trouble out there, the smart money is rapidly pulling their money out of stocks and putting it into government bonds. This usually happens when a crisis is looming. It is called a “flight to safety”, and it pushes government bond yields down.
On Wednesday, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries fell beneath the important 1.8 percent barrier. We will probably see it go even lower in the months ahead.
As the rest of the world economy crumbles, the remainder of the globe is looking to America to be the rock in the storm. For example, the following quote that I found today comes from a British news source…
‘The global economy is running on a single engine… the American one,’ the World Bank’s chief economist, Kaushik Basu, said. ‘This does not make for a rosy outlook for the world.’
Well, they may not want to rely on us too much, because there are plenty of signs that our economy is slowing down too. For example, we learned today that December retail sales were down 0.9% from a year ago, and this is being called “an unmitigated disaster“. Americans were supposed to be taking the money that they were saving on gasoline and spending it, but that apparently is not happening.
And that is precisely what is happening. In fact, many analysts are now pinpointing the end of QE as the exact moment when our current troubles began. For instance, check out this excerpt from a CNBC article that was published on Wednesday…
“Stuff happens when QE ends,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group. “It’s no coincidence that the market started going into a higher volatility mode, it’s no coincidence that the decline in commodity prices accelerated, it’s no coincidence that the yield curve started flattening when QE ended.”
Indeed, the increase in volatility and its effect on prices across the capital market spectrum was closely tied to the Fed ending the third round of QE in October.
We are moving into a time of great danger for Wall Street and for the global economy as a whole.
If we continue to see a tremendous amount of volatility, history tells us that it is only a matter of time before the markets implode.
Is the financial collapse of Italy going to be the final blow that breaks the back of Europe financially? Most people don’t realize this, but Italy is actually the third largest debtor in the entire world after the United States and Japan. Italy currently has a debt to GDP ratio of more than 120 percent, and Italy has a bigger national debt than anyone else in Europe does. That is why it is such a big deal that Italian voters have just overwhelmingly rejected austerity. The political parties led by anti-austerity candidates Silvio Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo did far better than anticipated. When you combine their totals, they got more than 50 percent of the vote. Italian voters have seen what austerity has done to Greece and Spain and they want no part of it. Unfortunately for Italian voters, it has been the promise of austerity that has kept the Italian financial system stable in recent months. Now that Italian voters have clearly rejected austerity, investors are fearing that austerity programs all over Europe may start falling apart. This is creating quite a bit of panic in European financial markets right now. On Tuesday, Italian stocks had their worst day in 10 months, Italian bond yields rose by the most that we have seen in 19 months, and the stocks of the two largest banks in Italy both fell by more than 8 percent. Italy is already experiencing its fourth recession since 2001, and unemployment has been steadily rising. If Italy is now “ungovernable”, as many are saying, then what does that mean for the future of Italy? Will Italy be the spark that sets off financial armageddon in Europe?
All of Europe was totally shocked by the election results in Italy. As you can see from the following excerpt from a Bloomberg article, the vote was very divided and the anti-austerity parties did much better than had been projected…
The results showed pre-election favorite Pier Luigi Bersani won the lower house with 29.5 percent, less than a half a percentage point ahead of Silvio Berlusconi, the ex-premier fighting a tax-fraud conviction. Beppe Grillo, a former comedian, got 25.6 percent, while Monti scored 10.6 percent. Bersani and his allies got 31.6 percent of votes in the Senate, compared with 30.7 percent for Berlusconi and 23.79 percent for Grillo, according to final figures from the Interior Ministry.
So what do those election results mean for Italy and for the rest of Europe?
Right now, there is a lot of panic about those results. There is fear that what just happened in Italy could result in a rejection of austerity all over Europe…
“I think the election results (or lack thereof) are a negative for the euro, which will likely keep the currency pressured for some time,” Omer Esiner, chief market analyst for Commonwealth Foreign Exchange, told me. But it’s not just the political uncertainty in Italy, he adds. “The shocking gains made by anti-establishment parties in Italy signal a broad-based frustration with austerity among voters and a decisive rejection of the policies pushed by Germany in nations across the euro zone’s periphery. That theme revives unresolved debt crisis issues and could threaten the continuity of reforms across other countries in the euro zone.”
And the financial markets have clearly interpreted the election results in Europe as a very bad sign. Zero Hedge summarized some of the bad news out of Europe that we saw on Tuesday…
Swiss 2Y rates turned negative once again for the first time in a month; EURUSD relatively flatlined around 1.3050 (250 pips lower than pre-Italy); Europe’s VIX exploded to almost 26% (from under 19% yesterday); and 3-month EUR-USD basis swaps plunged to their most liquidity-demanding level since 12/28. Spain and Italy (and Portugal) were the most hurt in bonds today as 2Y Italian spreads broke back above 200bps (surging over 50bps casting doubt on OMT support) and 3Y Spain yields broke above 3% once again. The Italian equity market suffered its equal biggest drop in 6 months falling back to 10 week lows (and down 14% from its end-Jan highs). Italian bond yields (and spreads) smashed higher – the biggest jump in 19 months as BTP futures volume exploded in the last two days.
Not that things in Europe were going well before all this.
In Spain, a major real estate company, Reyal Urbis, collapsed last week, leaving already battered banks on the hook for millions of euros in losses. Meanwhile, the government faces a corruption scandal and a steady stream of anti-austerity demonstrations. Thousands of people took to the streets again on Saturday, protesting deep cuts to health and other services, as well as hefty bank bailouts.
Life is no better in a large swath of the broader EU. In Britain, Moody’s cited the continuing economic weakness and the resulting risks to the government’s tight fiscal policy for its rating cut. In Bulgaria, where the government fell last week and the economy is in a shambles, rightists who joined mass demonstrations across the country burned a European Union flag and waved anti-EU banners. Other austerity-minded governments in the EU face similar murky political futures.
At this point, Europe is a complete and total economic mess and things are rapidly getting worse.
And that is really bad news because Europe is already in the midst of a recession. In fact, according to the BBC, the recession in the eurozone got even deeper during the fourth quarter of 2012…
The eurozone recession deepened in the final three months of 2012, official figures show.
The economy of the 17 nations in the euro shrank by 0.6% in the fourth quarter, which was worse than forecast.
It is the sharpest contraction since the beginning of 2009 and marks the first time the region failed to grow in any quarter during a calendar year.
But this is just the beginning.
The truth is that government debt is not even the greatest danger that Europe is facing. In reality, a collapse of the European banking system is of much greater concern.
Why is that?
Well, how would you feel if you woke up someday and every penny that you had in the bank was gone?
In the U.S. we don’t have to worry about that so much because all deposits are insured by the FDIC, but in many European countries things work much differently.
For example, just check out what Graham Summers recently had to say about the banking system in Spain…
It’s a little known fact about the Spanish crisis is that when the Spanish Government merges troubled banks, it typically swaps out depositors’ savings for shares in the new bank.
So… when the newly formed bank goes bust, “poof” your savings are GONE. Not gone as in some Spanish version of the FDIC will eventually get you your money, but gone as in gone forever (see the above article for proof).
This is why Bankia’s collapse is so significant: in one move, former depositors at seven banks just lost virtually everything.
And this in a nutshell is Europe’s financial system today: a totally insolvent sewer of garbage debt, run by corrupt career politicians who have no clue how to fix it or their economies… and which results in a big fat ZERO for those who are nuts enough to invest in it.
Be warned. There are many many more Bankias coming to light in the coming months. So if you have not already taken steps to prepare for systemic failure, you NEED to do so NOW. We’re literally at most a few months, and very likely just a few weeks from Europe’s banks imploding, potentially taking down the financial system with them. Think I’m joking? The Fed is pumping hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars into EU banks right now trying to stop this from happening.
Like Graham Summers, I am extremely concerned about the European banking system. Europe actually has a much larger banking system than the U.S. does, and if the European banking system implodes that is going to send huge shockwaves to the farthest corners of the globe.
But if you want to believe that the “experts” in Europe and in the United States have “everything under control”, then you might as well stop reading now.
After all, they are very highly educated and they know what they are doing, right?
But if you want to listen to some common sense, you might want to check out this very ominous warning from Karl Denninger…
I hope you’re ready.
Congress has wasted the time it was given by the Europeans getting things “temporarily” under control. But they didn’t actually get anything under control, as the Italian elections just showed.
Now, with the budget over there at risk of being abandoned, and fiscal restraint being abandoned (note: exactly what the US has been doing) the markets are recognizing exactly the risk that never in fact went away over the last couple of years.
It was hidden by lies, just as it has been hidden by lies here.
Bernanke’s machinations and other games “gave” the Congress four years to do the right thing. They didn’t, because that same “gift” also destroyed all market signals of urgency.
As such you have people like Krugman and others claiming that it’s all ok and that we can spend with wild abandon, taking our fiscal medicine never.
They were wrong. Congress was wrong. The Republicans were wrong, the Democrats were wrong, and the Administration was wrong.
Congress is out of time; as I noted the deficit spending must stop now, irrespective of the fact that it will cause significant economic damage.
For the past couple of years, authorities in the U.S. and in Europe have been trying to delay the coming crisis by kicking the can down the road.
By doing so, they have been making the eventual collapse even worse.
Why are some of the biggest names in the corporate world unloading stock like there is no tomorrow, and why are some of the most prominent investors on Wall Street loudly warning about the possibility of a market crash? Should we be alarmed that the big dogs on Wall Street are starting to get very nervous? In a previous article, I got very excited about a report that indicated that corporate insiders were selling nine times more of their own shares than they were buying. Well, according to a brand new Bloomberg article, insider sales of stock have outnumbered insider purchases of stock by a ratio of twelve to one over the past three months. That is highly unusual. And right now some of the most respected investors in the financial world are ringing the alarm bells. Dennis Gartman says that it is time to “rush to the sidelines”, Seth Klarman is warning about “the un-abating risks of collapse”, and Doug Kass is proclaiming that “we’re headed for a sharp fall”. So does all of this mean that a market crash is definitely on the way? No, but when you combine all of this with the weak economic data constantly coming out of the U.S. and Europe, it certainly does not paint a pretty picture.
According to Bloomberg, it has been two years since we have seen insider sales of stock at this level. And when insider sales of stock are this high, that usually means that the market is about to decline…
Corporate executives are taking advantage of near-record U.S. stock prices by selling shares in their companies at the fastest pace in two years.
There were about 12 stock-sale announcements over the past three months for every purchase by insiders at Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) companies, the highest ratio since January 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Pavilion Global Markets. Whenever the ratio exceeded 11 in the past, the benchmark index declined 5.9 percent on average in the next six months, according to Pavilion, a Montreal-based trading firm.
But it isn’t just the number of stock sales that is alarming. Some of these insider transactions are absolutely huge. Just check out these numbers…
Among the biggest transactions last week were a $65.2 million sale by Google Inc.’s 39-year-old Chief Executive Officer Larry Page, a $40.1 million disposal by News Corp.’s 81- year-old Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and a $34.2 million sale from American Express Co. chief Kenneth Chenault, who is 61. Nolan Archibald, the 69-year-old chairman of Stanley Black & Decker Inc. who plans to leave his post next month, unloaded $29.7 million in shares last week and Amphenol Corp. Chairman Martin Hans Loeffler, 68, sold $27.5 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, 57, announced plans to sell as many as 3.2 million shares in the operator of the world’s most-popular search engine. The planned share sales, worth about $2.5 billion, represent about 42 percent of Schmidt’s holdings.
So why are all of these very prominent executives cashing out all of a sudden?
That is a very good question.
Meanwhile, some of the most respected names on Wall Street are warning that it is time to get out of the market.
For example, investor Dennis Gartman recently wrote that the game is “changing” and that it is time to “rush to the sidelines”…
“When tectonic plates in the earth’s crust shift earthquakes happen and when the tectonic plants shift beneath our feet in the capital markets margin calls take place. The tectonic plates have shifted and attention… very careful and very substantive attention… must be paid.
“Simply put, the game has changed and where we were playing a ‘game’ fueled by the monetary authorities and fueled by the urge on the part of participants to see and believe in rising ‘animal spirits’ as Lord Keynes referred to them we played bullishly of equities and of the EUR and of ‘risk assets’. Now, with the game changing, our tools have to change and so too our perspective.
“Where we were buyers of equities previously we must disdain them henceforth. Where we were sellers of Yen and US dollars we must buy them now. Where we had been long of gold in Yen terms, we must shift that and turn bullish of gold in EUR terms. Where we might have been ‘technically’ bullish of the EUR we must now be technically and fundamentally bearish of it. The game board has been flipped over; the game has changed… change with it or perish. We cannot be more blunt than that.”
“Investing today may well be harder than it has been at any time in our three decades of existence,” writes Seth Klarman in his year-end letter. The Fed’s “relentless interventions and manipulations” have left few purchase targets for Baupost, he laments. “(The) underpinnings of our economy and financial system are so precarious that the un-abating risks of collapse dwarf all other factors.”
Other big hitters on Wall Street are ringing the alarm bells as well. For example, Seabreeze Partners portfolio manager Doug Kass recently told CNBC that what he is seeing right now reminds him of the period just before the crash of 1987…
“I’m getting the ‘summer of 1987 feeling’ in the U.S. equity market,” Kass told CNBC, “which means we’re headed for a sharp fall.”
Another “perma-bear”, Nomura’s Bob Janjuah, is convinced that the stock market will experience one more huge spike before collapsing by up to 50%…
I continue to believe that the S&P500 can trade up towards the 1575/1550 area, where we have, so far, a grand double top. I would not be surprised to see the S&P trade marginally through the 2007 all-time nominal high (the real high was of course seen over a decade ago – so much for equities as a long-term vehicle for wealth creation!). A weekly close at a new all-time high would I think lead to the final parabolic spike up which creates the kind of positioning extreme and leverage extreme needed to create the conditions for a 25% to 50% collapse in equities over the rest of 2013 and 2014, driven by real economy reality hitting home, and by policymaker failure/loss of faith in “their system”.
So are they right?
We will see.
At the same time that many of the big dogs are pulling their money out of the market, many smaller investors are rushing to put their money back in to the market. The mainstream media continues to assure them that everything is wonderful and that this rally can last forever.
But it is important to keep in mind that the last time that Wall Street was this “euphoric” was right before the market crash in 2008.
If they crash, the financial markets in the U.S. will probably crash too.
And the financial markets in Europe definitely have had a rough week. Just check out what happened on Thursday. The following is from a report by CNBC’s Bob Pisani…
Italy, Germany, France, Spain, U.K., Greece, and Portugal all on track to log worst day since Feb. 4. European PMI numbers were disappointing, with all major countries except Germany reporting numbers below 50, indicating contraction.
What does this mean? It means Europe remains mired in recession: “The euro zone is on course to contract for a fourth consecutive quarter,” Markit, who provides the PMI data, said. A new insight is that France is now joining the weakness shown in periphery countries.
You’re giving me agita: Italy was the worst market, down 2.5 percent. The CEO of banking company, Intesa Sanpaolo, said Italy’s recession has been so bad it could cause a fifth of Italian companies to fail, noting that topline for those bottom fifth have been shrinking 35 to 45 percent. Italian elections are this weekend.
It wasn’t any better in Asia. The Shanghai Index had its worst day in over a year, closing down nearly three percent.
And the economic numbers coming out of the U.S. also continue to be quite depressing.
On Thursday, the Department of Labor announced that there were 362,000 initial claims for unemployment benefits during the week ending February 16th. That was a sharp rise from a week earlier.
But I am not really concerned about that number yet.
When it rises above 400,000 and it stays there, then it will be time to officially become alarmed.
So what is the bottom line?
There are trouble signs on the horizon for the financial markets. Nobody should panic right now, but things certainly do not look very promising for the remainder of the year.
Over the past couple of weeks, George Soros, the IMF and the World Bank have all issued incredibly chilling warnings about the possibility of an impending economic collapse. Considering the power and the influence that Soros, the IMF and the World Bank all have over the global financial system, this is very alarming. So are they purposely trying to scare the living daylights out of us? Soros is even warning of riots in the streets of America. Unfortunately, way too often top global leaders say something in public because they want to “push” events in a certain direction. Do George Soros and officials at the IMF and World Bank hope to prevent a worldwide financial collapse by making these statements, or are other agendas at work? We may never know. But one thing is for sure – many of the top financial officials in the world are using language that is downright “apocalyptic”, and that is not a good sign for the rest of 2012.
Right now, George Soros is saying things that he has never said before. Just check out what George Soros recently told Newsweek….
“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”
Later on in that same article, Soros is quoted as saying that we could soon see the U.S. government using “strong-arm tactics” to crack down on rioting in the streets of major U.S. cities….
As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. “Yes, yes, yes,” he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”
It almost sounds like George Soros is anticipating the same kind of a breakdown of society that many survivalists and preppers are getting ready for.
So how bad are things going to get?
Well, George Soros is publicly warning that the coming financial crisis could end up being even worse than 2008. Just check out the following quotes from him that appeared in a recent Businessweek article….
Billionaire investor George Soros said Europe’s sovereign-debt woes are “more serious” than the financial crisis of 2008 and that the world faces the prospect of a “vicious circle” of deflation.
“We have a more dangerous situation now than in 2008,” Soros, 81, said in response to a question at an event in the southern Indian city of Bangalore today. “The crisis in Europe is more serious than the crash of 2008.”
But George Soros is not the only one issuing these kinds of warnings.
Once again, the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, has made a speech in which she openly warned that we are heading for a repeat of the “1930s”.
She told an audience in Berlin on Monday that the globe is facing “a 1930s moment, in which inaction, insularity and rigid ideology combine to cause a collapse in global demand”.
During the speech she called for a trillion more dollars to support financially troubled governments, and she made the following statement….
“It is not about saving any one country or region. It is about saving the world from a downward economic spiral.”
As I wrote about the other day, the World Bank has also been using apocalyptic language about the global financial situation. In a shocking new report, the World Bank revised GDP growth estimates for 2012 downward very sharply, it warned that Europe could be facing financial collapse at any time, and it instructed the rest of the world to “prepare for the worst.”
The lead author of the report, Andrew Burns, said that the “importance of contingency planning cannot be stressed enough” and that if there is a major financial crisis in Europe the entire globe will be deeply affected….
“An escalation of the crisis would spare no-one. Developed- and developing-country growth rates could fall by as much or more than in 2008/09.”
So should we be alarmed that George Soros, the IMF and the World Bank are all proclaiming that a financial nightmare could be just around the corner?
Of course we should be.
Whether their motives are pure or not, they are telling the truth about the global financial situation in this case. As I have written about so frequently, there are a whole host of signs that indicate that we could be on the verge of a major global recession.
A lot of folks in the investment world are warning that hard times are about to hit us as well. For example, the following is what legendary investor Joseph Granville recently told Bloomberg Television….
Joseph Granville, whose “sell everything” call in 1981 sparked a decline in U.S. stocks, said the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) will drop toward 8,000 this year because of waning momentum and volume.
“Volume precedes prices,” Granville, 88, a technical analyst who has been publishing the Granville Market Letter from Kansas City, Missouri for about 50 years, said in an interview on “Street Smart” on Bloomberg Television. “You are seeing much lower volume. That tells you that prices are going to go much lower, much lower than most people think possible and very few people have projected.”
But unfortunately, a lot of people are just going to leave their holdings sitting out there like a dead duck, and they are going to be absolutely devastated by the coming financial tsunami.
Those that believe that the United States can somehow escape the coming financial storm don’t really know what they are talking about.
In fact, there was very troubling news for the U.S. dollar just the other day. It was announced that India will start paying for its oil from Iran in a currency other than U.S. dollars.
But this is just another sign that the rest of the world is starting to reject the U.S. dollar. For decades, the U.S. dollar has been the reserve currency of the world and this has given us a tremendous advantage. Unfortunately for us, that is now changing.
U.S. newspapers are not talking about what is going on, but mainstream newspapers in Europe are. Right now, some of the biggest countries in the world are working on plans to quit using U.S. dollars for the buying and selling of oil.
In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.
Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars.
The plans, confirmed to The Independent by both Gulf Arab and Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong, may help to explain the sudden rise in gold prices, but it also augurs an extraordinary transition from dollar markets within nine years.
This is a very big deal, and if this gets pulled off it is going to have devastating consequences for the U.S. dollar and for the U.S. economy.
But of course when it comes to troubles for the U.S. financial system, there are a whole host of issues that could be talked about.
An environment for a “perfect storm” is developing, and most Americans have absolutely no idea what is about to happen.
Fortunately, there are some researchers out there that are working hard to sound the alarm bells. For example, the following quote comes from a recent interview with Gerald Celente….
I believe that we have to watch out for something along the lines of an economic martial law. The European system is in collapse. The financial system in the United States is just as tenuous, if not more, and I believe they will not admit there will be a financial crash but rather they will use a geo-political issue to get the people in a state of fear and hysteria whereby they’ll then call a bank holiday or devaluation of the currency, or a hyperinflation of the currency, and blame it on somebody else.
It would be wise to listen to what experts such as Gerald Celente are saying.
Just because things have “always” been a certain way does not mean that they will continue to be that way.
Just because certain things have “always” worked in the past does not mean that they will continue to work in the future.
Our world is experiencing fundamental changes. It is changing at a faster pace than we have ever seen before. The way that we all live our lives five or ten years from now will be vastly different from how we live our lives today.
This will be a very challenging time to be alive, but it is also going to be a very exciting time to be alive.
So what do all of you think is going to happen in 2012?
Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below….
How should people prepare for the difficult years that are coming? I get asked about that a lot. Once people really examine the facts, it is not too hard to convince them that an economic collapse is coming. But once they accept that reality, most of them want to know what they can do to prepare themselves and their families for the hard times that are ahead. Well, the truth is that it does not have to be complicated. Many of the things discussed throughout this article are things that most of us should be doing anyway. Now is not the time to be splurging on luxuries or expensive vacations. Now is not the time to be going into large amounts of debt. Instead, we all need to get back to the basics and we all need to do what we can to become more independent of the system. Just remember what happened back in 2008. Millions of Americans lost their jobs and millions of Americans lost their homes. Now experts all over the globe are warning that another great financial crisis that could be just as bad as 2008 (or even worse) is coming. Those that don’t take the time to prepare this time are not going to have any excuse.
But there is also a lot of sensationalism out there. There are some people out there that claim that the economy is going to collapse all at once and that we are going to go from where we are now to some type of a post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” society almost overnight.
Well, that is just not going to happen. We are not going to wake up next week in a world where we are all fighting each other with sharp pointed sticks.
Just like anything else, an economic collapse takes time. I like to describe what is happening using an analogy from the beach. When you build a mighty sand castle, it is not totally destroyed by the first wave that comes along, right?
Well, it is the same thing with the U.S. economy. It was the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen, and it is most definitely in decline. But there are stages to that decline.
The “wave” that came along in 2008 did a huge amount of damage. Our economy has not recovered from that.
Now another wave is coming. But that will not be the end. There will be other waves after that.
Eventually, this thing is coming all the way down. Someday America will be such a horror show that it will be hard to believe that it is the same place that many of us grew up in.
But in the short-term, we are going to be facing a major league recession and millions of Americans will lose their jobs. It won’t be the end of the world, but for some people it may feel like it.
So when you are talking about “how to prepare”, the truth is that it depends on what kind of time frame you are talking about.
In the long-term, a lot of the things that even the hardcore survivalists are doing will not be nearly enough.
In the short-term, there are things that all of us can do to weather the coming storm….
Get Out Of Debt
The global financial system is headed for a massive crisis. Just like in 2008, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs and a lot of people are going to lose their homes.
In such an environment, it makes sense to travel as “lightly” as possible.
That means getting rid of debt.
Some forms of debt are worse than others. Mortgage debt is not that bad. We all need somewhere to live, and not all of us can run out and immediately pay off our mortgages.
But there are other forms of debt that are absolutely toxic. A good example of this is credit card debt. There are very few things that are as good at bleeding your finances as credit card debt is. For example, according to the credit card repayment calculator, if you have a $6000 balance on a credit card with a 20 percent interest rate and only pay the minimum payment each time, it will take you 54 years to pay off that credit card.
During those 54 years you will pay $26,168 in interest rate charges on that credit card balance in addition to the $6000 in principal that you are required to pay back. That is before any fees or penalties are even calculated.
But a lot of Americans still have not learned to stay away from credit card debt. In fact, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.
The truth is that in future years there is a good chance that you may be facing a situation where you are not making as much income, so you want to try to start reducing your expenses right now. Getting out of debt will help you to do this.
A shockingly high number of American families are operating without any kind of financial cushion whatsoever….
-According to a Harris Interactive survey taken in 2010, 77 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
-According to one recent survey, one out of every three Americans would not be able to make a mortgage or rent payment next month if they suddenly lost their current job.
This is one reason why so many Americans have lost their homes and why so many Americans have fallen below the poverty level in recent years. They simply had no cushion.
Last year, 2.6 million more Americans dropped into poverty. That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.
Don’t let this happen to you. At a minimum, everyone out there should have a cushion that will cover at least 6 months worth of expenses. Preferably, you should have a cushion that will last you at least a year.
Yes, I know that is a tall order. But you would be amazed at how much money the average American family wastes in a typical month. Almost all of us have areas where we can cut back.
Trust me, in the middle of a major recession you will be really glad that you are sitting on a pile of savings.
Get Independent Of The System
What would you do if you lost your job tomorrow?
Would you have any other income?
How long would it be before you lost your home?
Those are very important questions.
The truth is that the system is failing and so we all need to work hard to become more independent of the system.
So what does that mean?
Well, instead of relying on someone else to employ you indefinitely, you can start up a business in your spare time. Yes, it will cut into your television time, but if someday you lose your job you will be extremely happy that you still have some income coming in.
Another way of becoming more independent is to start a garden.
Yes, you can run down the street and buy giant piles of cheap food right now, but that will not be the case forever.
Store Food And Focus On The Essentials
I might get into a little trouble for saying this, but the truth is that there is not going to be a major famine in America in 2012.
However, that does not mean that you should not be storing food and other essentials.
In the old days, our grandparents always saved up food. It was just a natural thing for them to do. This was especially the case if they lived through the Great Depression.
When hard times come, you will be glad that you have food stored up. Plus, food is never going to be cheaper than it is today. Having food stored up is a great hedge against the rising food prices that we will see in the future.
No, we are not going to see hyperinflation by the end of the year like many of the sensationalists are warning. But someday you will be really glad that you stored up food for yourself and your family.
We live in a world that is becoming more unstable with each passing month. You never know when the next natural disaster, pandemic, war or national emergency will strike.
It only makes sense to store food and other basic essentials that you will need in the future.
#14) Extra Gasoline (But Be Very Careful How You Store It)
#15) A Sewing Kit
#16) Self-Defense Equipment
#17) A Compass
#18) A Hiking Backpack
#19) A Community
#20) A Backup Plan
In the comments to that article, the readers suggested the following additional items….
A K-Bar Fighting Knife
A Camp Stove
An LED Headlamp
Maps Of Your Area
Rifle For Hunting
Gold And Silver Coins For Bartering
Once again, a lot of these things are not going to be needed right away. The economy is going to go through a lot more ups and downs before it totally dies.
In the short-term, keep an eye on the European debt crisis, the Japanese debt crisis and the U.S. debt crisis. There are a lot of similarities between what happened back in 2008 and what is happening now.
And what happened following the crisis of 2008?
Unemployment shot through the roof.
So be prepared for that.
Make a plan for how you and your family will survive if you end up unemployed.
Also, when it comes to “how to prepare”, there is one aspect that is often overlooked.
It won’t matter how good your physical and financial preparations are if you are cowardly and paralyzed by fear.
The times that are coming are going to test all of our hearts.
Some people are going to make it and some people aren’t.
Some people will become so consumed with fear that they will give up completely.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Prepare your heart, soul, mind and body right now for what is coming. For those that are cowardly the years ahead will be a total nightmare, but for those that overcome the fear the years ahead have the potential to be a great adventure.
Do not ever give up. That is one of the secrets to life. Almost everyone comes to a moment in life when things look absolutely hopeless. But those that have come through those moments know that there is always a way to turn things around. When times get tough, the tough get a backbone. Yes, a horrific economic collapse is coming and the world is going to become incredibly unstable. But the purpose of waking people up and getting them to realize what is about to happen is not so that they can shiver in fear. When a military unit gets intel that indicates that the enemy arrayed against them is far more powerful than previously thought, do they give up all hope and run away like little girls? Of course not. Instead, they use that intel to prepare for the coming battle. Only cowards give up. When you totally give up, you lose everything and the enemy wins. Our life does not consist of what we own anyway. If every single thing that you own was taken away from you, would your life be over? No! When we leave this world, we will not be remembered for what we owned. Rather, we will be remembered for how we lived.
The cowardly never finish the race and they never win any prizes. Being a coward may seem like a way to escape short-term pain, but in the end it is never worth it.
Those of us living in the United States have had it good for so long that most of us don’t even know what it is like to go through hard times.
But just because a great era of prosperity is coming to an end does not mean that our lives will be over. There are plenty of people on the other side of the globe that only have one set of clothes and that don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and yet many of those same people are incredibly happy and full of life.
Just because a time of great darkness is coming to this world does not mean that you have to give in to fear. All of us feel fear from time to time. Courage does not mean that you don’t feel any fear. It means that you can take action in spite of the fear.
When times are the darkest, that is when the light is needed the most. As the world falls apart, there will be a much greater need for heroes than ever before.
So decide to be a hero instead of a coward.
Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that everything is going to be okay does not do anyone any good. Denying clear and obvious evidence of what is about to happen is just another form of cowardice.
As I wrote about yesterday, 2012 is going to be a very difficult year and Europe is on the verge of a massive financial collapse. The stunning long-term decline of the U.S. economy is likely to accelerate and the middle class is going to continue to be ripped to shreds.
All over the globe, prominent voices in the financial world are declaring that a nightmare is about to begin. For example, renowned investor Jim Rogers recently said the following….
“Eventually one of two things has to happen. We have to get together now and ring-fence the problem and figure out how we are going to survive and start over. Or, in a year or two or three, the market is going to say, no more money, we won’t put up any more money. And then the whole system collapses, then you have gigantic chaos, social unrest, governments failing, civil war – huge mess”
So should we all throw our hands up in the air and give up?
Now is the time to get a backbone and to prepare for what is ahead.
Just think of the great heroes throughout history. What made those people into great heroes?
They became great heroes because they triumphed in the midst of great adversity.
So do you want to be a winner or do you want to be a loser?
If you give up, you are automatically a loser.
If you keep on fighting for what is right, you are automatically a winner even if it costs you your life eventually.
So don’t be stupid.
Is your life really hard right now?
Well, there are huge numbers of people sleeping on the streets of America tonight. Most of them probably have it a lot rougher than you do.
A lot of people that have lost their homes have battled back and have totally rebuilt their lives. They were able to do that because they never gave up.
For example, one woman in the Washington D.C. area that lost everything and ended up on the streets fought back and reclaimed her life. She did what she could with what she had, and her tireless efforts paid off. She even became a Twitter celebrity….
For AnnMarie Walsh, attaining social media celebrity from the streets and shelters of the Northwest suburbs meant using the Internet at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library or searching for places to charge a hand-me-down phone that demanded cash for minutes.
Walsh’s savvy landed her a spot in a documentary called “Twittamentary” and a trip across the country to speak at a glitzy Los Angeles theater for the “140 Characters Conference.”
But perhaps the 41-year-old’s biggest coup was finding a place to live after more than five years of homelessness, thanks to a social worker who connected with her through Twitter.
A reader of my site has a story that is similar in a lot of ways. He identifies himself as “JD”, and he left the following comment on one of my articles quite some time ago….
I was laid off from my construction job almost 2 yrs ago was on unenjoyment for over a yr they cut me off last september so i lost my apartment. Since then ive been couch surfing and hotel hopping. Now i occaisonally sleep in my car. I was lucky enough to have a friend with a lawn care business so i can at least put ever increasing gas in my car\house. I hate to say it but i think we will see hoovervilles in the major cities soon. When the welfare & food stamps & all the other govt. programs end the anarchy begins.
But guess what?
He did not give up.
He kept hanging in there.
Today, he is no longer homeless, he has a new job, and things are looking much, much brighter for him.
I love it here in Montana. We have problems but not everyone could live here especially when its -70 windchill and blowing snow. Its a hard country but its worth it to be away from the insanity of the cities. Millions will be freezing and starving to death before this decade is out, mark my words. The fight for freedom is on! LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD!!!!
That is the attitude of a hero.
If you have not seen it yet, please take a few minutes and watch the short video posted below. It is entitled “100 Years In 10 Minutes”, and it is a great reminder of many of the heroes that have gone before us….
Yes, there are going to be many challenging times ahead.
But don’t be stupid and give up.
Instead, decide right now that you are going to be a light in the darkness.
Is the world on the verge of another massive global financial collapse? Yes. The western world is drowning in an ocean of debt unlike anything the world has ever seen before, and our financial markets are gigantic casinos that are dependent on huge mountains of risk and leverage remaining very stable. In the end, this house of cards that has been built on a foundation of sand is going to come crashing down in a horrifying manner. Usually in this column I go on and on about why things will soon get much worse. But today I am going to take a bit of a break. Today, I am going to let some of the top financial professionals in the world tell you why things will soon get much worse. Many of the quotes that you are about to read just might make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Most people out there have no idea what is about to happen. Most people out there are working hard and are busy preparing for the holidays and they are hopeful that the economy will turn around soon. But that is not going to happen. We are heading for another major global financial collapse, and when it happens the U.S. economy is going to get even worse.
The epicenter for the coming global financial collapse is almost certainly going to be in Europe. As you will see below, financial professionals all over the world are sounding the alarm about Europe. It is a disaster that everyone can see coming but that nobody seems to be able to prevent.
Of course the failure of the “supercommittee” in the United States certainly is not helping matters. There is already talk that we may soon see another downgrade for U.S. debt. It is hard to even describe how incompetent the U.S. Congress is.
There is a tremendous lack of leadership both in the United States and in Europe right now. The financial world is more interconnected than ever before, and when the financial dominoes start to fall it is going to take a miracle to keep a complete and total disaster from unfolding.
So when the time comes, who is going to step forward and provide that leadership?
That is a really, really good question.
Right now, panic and fear are spreading like wildfire in the financial world and nobody knows for sure what is going to happen next.
But one thing is for certain. Pessimism is growing stronger by the day.
The following are 17 quotes about the coming global financial collapse that will make your hair stand up….
#1Credit Suisse’s Fixed Income Research unit: “We seem to have entered the last days of the euro as we currently know it. That doesn’t make a break-up very likely, but it does mean some extraordinary things will almost certainly need to happen – probably by mid-January – to prevent the progressive closure of all the euro zone sovereign bond markets, potentially accompanied by escalating runs on even the strongest banks.”
#2Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citigroup: “Time is running out fast. I think we have maybe a few months — it could be weeks, it could be days — before there is a material risk of a fundamentally unnecessary default by a country like Spain or Italy which would be a financial catastrophe dragging the European banking system and North America with it.”
#3Jim Reid of Deutsche Bank: “If you don’t think Merkel’s tone will change then our investment advice is to dig a hole in the ground and hide.”
#4David Rosenberg, a senior economist at Gluskin Sheff in Toronto: “Lenders are finding it difficult to finance their day-to-day operations with short-term funding. This is a lot like 2008 but with more twists.”
#5Christian Stracke, the head of credit research for Pimco: “This is just a repeat of what we saw in 2008, when everyone wanted to see toxic assets off the banks’ balance sheets”
#6Paul Krugman of the New York Times: “At this point I’d guess soaring rates on Italian debt leading to a gigantic bank run, both because of solvency fears about Italian banks given a default and because of fear that Italy will end up leaving the euro. This then leads to emergency bank closing, and once that happens, a decision to drop the euro and install the new lira. Next stop, France.”
#7Paul Hickey of Bespoke Investment Group: “More and more, we are hearing anecdotal comments from individual and professionals that this is the most difficult environment they have ever experienced as the market is like a fish flopping around after being taken out of the water.”
#8Bob Janjuah of Nomura International: “Germany appears to be adamant that full political and fiscal integration over the next decade (nothing substantive will happen over the short term, in my view) is the only option, and ECB monetisation is no longer possible. I really think it is that clear and simple. And if I am wrong, and the ECB does a U-turn and agrees to unlimited monetisation, I will simply wait for the inevitable knee-jerk rally to fade before reloading my short risk positions. Even if Germany and the ECB somehow agree to unlimited monetisation I believe it will do nothing to fix the insolvency and lack of growth in the eurozone. It will just result in a major destruction of the ECB‟s balance sheet which will force an ECB recap. At that point, I think Germany and its northern partners would walk away. Markets always want short, sharp, simple solutions.”
#9Dan Akerson, CEO of General Motors: “The ’08 recession, which was a credit bubble that manifested itself through primarily the real estate market, that was a serious stress….This is much more serious.”
#10Francesco Garzarelli of Goldman Sachs: “Pressures on Euro area sovereign bond markets have progressively intensified and spread like a wildfire.”
#11Jim Rogers: “In 2002 it was bad, in 2008 it was worse and 2012 or 2013 is going to be worse still – be careful”
#12Dr. Pippa Malmgren, the President and founder of Principalis Asset Management who once worked in the White House as an adviser to President Bush: “Market forces are increasingly determining what the options are and foreclosing on options policymakers thought they had. One option which is now under discussion involves permitting a country to temporarily leave the Euro, return to its native currency, devalue, commit to returning to the Euro at a better debt to GDP ratio, a better exchange rate and a better growth trajectory and yet not sacrifice its EU membership. I would like to say for the record that this is precisely the thought process that I expected to evolve,but when I proposed this possibility back in 2009, and again in September 2010, I had a 100% response from clients and others that this was “impossible” and many felt it was “ridiculous”. They may be right but this is the current state of the discussion. The Handelsblatt in Germany has reported this conversation, but wrongly assumes that the country that will exit is Germany. I think that Germany will have to exit if the Southern European states do not. Germany’s preference is to stay in the Euro and have the others drop out. The problem has been the Germans could not convince the others to walk away. But, now, market pressures are forcing someone to leave. Germany is pushing for that someone to be Italy. They hope that this would be a one off exception, not to be repeated by any other country. Obviously, though, if Italy leaves the Euro and reverts to Lira then the markets will immediately and forcefully attack Spain, Portugal and even whatever is left of the already savaged Greeks. These countries will not be able to compete against a devalued Greece or Italy when it come to tourism or even infrastructure. But, the principal target will be France. The three largest French banks have roughly 450 billion Euros of exposure to Italian debt. So, further sovereign defaults are certainly inevitable, but that is true under any scenario. Growth and austerity will not do the trick, as ZeroHedge rightly points out. Ultimately, I will not be at all surprised to see Europe’s banking system shut for days while the losses and payments issues are worked out. People forget that the term “bank holiday” was invented in the 1930’s when the banks were shut for exactly the same reason.”
#13Daniel Clifton, a policy strategist with Strategas Research Partners on the potential for more downgrades of U.S. debt: “We would expect further downgrades, a first downgrade from Moody’s and Fitch and possibly a second downgrade from S&P.”
#14Warren Buffett on the problems in the eurozone: “The system as presently designed has revealed a major flaw. And that flaw won’t be corrected just by words. Europe will either have to come closer together or there will have to be some other rearrangement because this system is not working”
#15David Kostin, equity strategist for Goldman Sachs: “The wide range of possible outcomes on both the super committee process and the unstable political economy in Europe drives our view that investors should assume the worst while hoping for the best.”
#16Mark Mobius, the head of the emerging markets desk at Templeton Asset Management: “There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner”
#17Gerald Celente, founder of The Trends Research Institute: “The whole system is going down. Pull your money out your Fidelity account, your Scwhab accout, and your ETFs.”
Are you starting to get the picture?
When so many top financial professionals are freaking out like this, perhaps the rest of us should start paying attention.
They are telling us that “time is running out”.
They are telling us that “there is definitely going to be another financial crisis”.
They are telling us that this “is going to be worse” than 2008.
They are telling us that “the whole system is going down”.
Yes, a devastating financial collapse really is coming. Just like in 2008, it will seem like the “end of the world” while it is happening, but it won’t be. It will severely damage our financial system and our economy, but it will not finish us off.
Think of it this way. When you build a sand castle at the beach, it doesn’t get totally wiped out by the first wave or the second wave that hits it. Each wave does significant damage, but the destruction of your sand castle is a process.
It is the same thing with the U.S. economy. We once had the most incredible economic machine that the world has ever seen. It is constantly being gutted and the financial crisis of 2008 hit us really hard, but we are still doing okay.
After this next financial crisis we will be in even worse shape. But we will still be breathing.
More “waves” will come after this next financial crisis. If we continue on the road that we are on, our economy will progressively get worse and worse.
Not everyone will agree with this analysis, and that is okay. In the end, time will reveal the truth to all of us.
Right now, we all need to get ready for the next wave that is about to hit us. A lot of people are going to lose their jobs over the next few years. Hopefully you are prepared for that.
Have you heard the good news? Financial armageddon has been averted. The economic collapse in Europe has been cancelled. Everything is going to be okay. Well, actually none of those statements is true, but news of the “debt deal” in Europe has set off a frenzy of irrational exuberance throughout the financial world anyway. Newspapers all over the globe are declaring that the financial crisis in Europe is over. Stock markets all over the world are soaring. The Dow was up nearly 3 percent today, and this recent surge is helping the S&P 500 to have its best month since 1974. Global financial markets are experiencing an explosion of optimism right now. Yes, European leaders have been able to kick the can down the road for a few months and a total Greek default is not going to happen right now. However, as you will see below, the core elements of this “debt deal” actually make a financial disaster in Europe even more likely in the future.
The two most important parts of the plan are a 50% “haircut” on Greek debt held by private investors and highly leveraging the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to give it much more “firepower”.
Both of these elements are likely to cause significant problems down the road. But most investors do not seem to have figured this out yet. In fact, most investors seem to be buying into the hype that Europe’s problems have been solved.
There is a tremendous lack of critical thinking in the financial community today. Just because politicians in Europe say that the crisis has been solved does not mean that the crisis has been solved. But all over the world there are bold declarations that a great “breakthrough” has been achieved. An article posted on USA Today is an example of this irrational exuberance….
Investors — at least for now — don’t have to worry about a financial collapse like the one in 2008, after Wall Street investment bank Lehman Bros. filed for bankruptcy, sparking a global financial crisis.
“Financial Armageddon seems to have been taken off the table,” says Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.
Wow, doesn’t that sound great?
But now let’s look at the facts.
You can’t solve a debt problem with even more debt. But that is what this debt deal is trying to do.
The politicians in Europe did not want to raise more money for the EFSF the “hard way”. Voters in Germany (and other European nations) are overwhelmingly against contributing even more cash to a fund that many see as a financial black hole.
So what do you do when more money is needed but nobody wants to contribute?
You borrow it.
Essentially, this debt deal calls for the EFSF to become four or five times larger by “leveraging” the existing funds in the EFSF.
But isn’t that risky?
Of course it is.
There are some leaders in Europe that recognize this. For example, an article in The Telegraph notes the reservations that the president of the Bundesbank has about this plan….
Jens Weidmann, the president of the Bundesbank and a member of the European Central Bank, sounded the alarm over the plan to “leverage” the fund by a factor of four to five times without putting any new money into the pot.
He warned that the scheme could be hit by market turbulence with taxpayers left holding the bill for risky investments in Italian and Spanish bonds.
So who is going to fund all of this new debt?
Well, it turns out that the Europeans are counting on the same folks that the U.S. government is constantly borrowing money from.
So is borrowing money from the Chinese to fund bailouts for Greece and other weak sisters in Europe sound policy?
Of course not.
And the sad thing is that this expanded EFSF is still not going to be enough to solve the financial problems in Europe.
According to an article in The Telegraph, a recent survey of economists found that most of them do not believe that this new plan is going to raise enough money….
The plan to increase the European Financial and Stability Facility to €1 trillion on paper was attacked by economists as not enough to “stave off” worsening debt problems in Italy and Spain.
In a survey of economists, 26 of 48 thought the firepower was not enough.
But the worst part of this new plan is the 50 percent “haircut” that private investors are being forced to take.
This is essentially a partial default by the Greek government. A lot of folks are going to get hit really hard by losses from this. Instead of making financial institutions in Europe stronger, these losses are going to make a lot of them even weaker.
Normally, in the event of a default, credit default swap contracts would be triggered. But apparently because this was considered to be a “voluntary” haircut, that is not going to happen in this instance.
A Bloomberg article explained this in greater detail. The following is a brief excerpt….
The EU agreement with investors for a voluntary 50 percent writedown on their Greek bond holdings means $3.7 billion of debt-insurance contracts won’t be triggered, according to the International Swaps & Derivatives Association’s rules.
That means that investors and financial institutions all over the world are just going to have to eat these losses.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is already acknowledging that a number of Greek banks will have to be nationalized because of the severity of this “haircut”. A recent CNBC article detailed this….
The haircut is expected to impose big losses on the country’s banks and state-run pension funds, which are up their necks in toxic Greek government bonds of about 100 billion euros.
The government will replenish pension funds’ capital, but banks may face temporary nationalisation, Papandreou said.
“It is very likely that a large part of the banks’ shares will pass into state ownership,” Papandreou said. He pledged, however, that these stakes will be sold back to private investors after the banks’ restructuring.
So where will the Greek government get the funds to “replenish” the capital of those banks?
That is a very good question.
But we haven’t even discussed the worst part of this “debt deal” yet.
If you don’t remember any other part of this article, please remember this.
The debt deal in Europe sends a very frightening message to the market.
The truth is that Europe could have totally bailed out Greece without any sort of a “haircut” taking place.
But they didn’t.
So now investors all over the globe have got to be thinking that if they are holding Portuguese bonds, Italian bonds or Spanish bonds there is a really good chance that they will be forced to take a massive “haircut” at some point as well.
At this time last year, the yield on two year Italian bonds was about 2.5 percent. Now it is about 4.5 percent. As investors begin to price in the probability of having to take a future “haircut” on Italian debt, those bond yields are going to go much, much higher.
That means that it is going to become much more expensive for the Italian government to borrow money and that also means that it is going to become much more difficult for the Italians to get their financial house in order.
In essence, the haircut on Greek debt is a signal to investors that they should require a much higher rate of return on the debt of all of the PIIGS. This is going to make the financial collapse of all of the PIIGS much more likely.
Remember, about this time last year the yield on two year Greek bonds was about 10 percent. Today, it is over 70 percent.
As I wrote about in a previous article, the western world is in debt up to its eyeballs right now and trying to kick the can down the road is not going to solve anything.
Our leaders may succeed in delaying the pain for a while, but it most definitely is coming.
Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Italy all have debt to GDP ratios that are well over 100% right now. Spain is in a huge amount of trouble as well.
When you add up all the debt, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain owe the rest of the world about 3 trillion euros combined.
If Italy or Spain goes down, the rest of Europe is going to be helpless to stop it. There simply is not going to be enough money to bail either one of them out.
That is why this “debt deal” is so alarming. All investors in Italian or Spanish debt will now have to factor in the probability that they will be required to accept a 50 percent haircut at some point in the future.
If the markets behave rationally (and if the ECB does not manipulate them too much), it appears inevitable that bond yields over in Europe are going to rise substantially, and that will put tremendous additional financial strain on governments all over Europe.
Basically, we have got a huge mess on our hands, and this debt deal just made it a lot worse.
Yes, a financial collapse has been averted in Greece for the moment, but the truth is that there is no real reason to be celebrating this deal.
A massive financial storm is coming to Europe, and this “debt deal” has made that all the more certain.
Once again, politicians in Europe have tried to kick the can down the road, but in the end their efforts are only going to lead to complete and total financial disaster.