The Beginning Of The End
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Did We Just Witness The Last Great Black Friday Celebration Of American Materialism?

Black Friday - Photo by PowhuskuAmericans are going to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season, and on Friday we got to see our fellow citizens fight each other like rabid animals over foreign-made flat screen televisions and Barbie dolls.  As disgusting as this behavior is to many of us, there may soon come a time when we will all fondly remember these days.  Most Americans are completely unaware of what is currently happening in the financial world, but right now there are deeply troubling signs that we could be on the verge of another major global financial collapse.  If the next great economic downturn does strike in 2015, that could mean that we may have just witnessed the last great Black Friday celebration of American materialism.  As you read this, stock prices are approximately double the value that they should be, margin debt is hovering near all-time record highs, and the “too big to fail” banks are being far more reckless than they were just prior to the last major stock market implosion.  So many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed back in 2007 and 2008 are repeating right now, and as you will see below, this includes a horrifying crash in the price of oil.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see the slow-motion financial train wreck that is unfolding right before our eyes.

Every year, it has been my tradition to write an article about the mini-riots that erupt in retail stores all around the country on Black Friday.  This year things were a bit calmer because so many stores opened up on Thanksgiving itself, but there was still plenty of chaos.  For example, in the video posted below you can see women viciously fighting one another over discounted lingerie and underwear…

But instead of launching into another diatribe about how we are committing national economic suicide by buying hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign-made goods with money that we do not have, I want to focus on what is coming next.

You see, I believe that in the not too distant future many of us will be wishing for the days when the debt-fueled U.S. economy was healthy enough for people to be wrestling with one another on the floor over good deals in our retail establishments.

The next great financial crash (which many have been anticipating for years) is rapidly approaching.  So many of the same things that happened last time are happening again.  As I noted above, this includes a crash in the price of oil.

In the months prior to the last stock market collapse, the price of oil began plummeting dramatically in the summer of 2008.  This was an “early warning signal” that something was deeply amiss in the financial world…

Oil Price 2007 - 2008

Many people assume that a lower price for oil is good for the economy, but the exact opposite is actually true.  The oil industry has become absolutely critical to the U.S. and Canadian economies.  And in recent years, the “shale oil boom” has been one of the only bright spots for the United States.  If the shale oil industry starts to fail because of lower prices, a lot of the boom areas all over the nation are going to go bust really quickly and a lot of the financial institutions that were backing these projects are going to feel an immense amount of pain.

Unfortunately for us, the “shale oil revolution” simply does not work at 80 dollars a barrel.

And it certainly does not work at 70 dollars a barrel.

As I write this, U.S. crude is sitting at about 66 dollars a barrel due to OPEC’s recent decision to not cut output.

That is the lowest price for U.S. crude since September 2009.

So just like we saw during the summer of 2008, crude oil prices are collapsing once again.  The chart below comes from the Federal Reserve, but it is a few days out of date.  Now that the price of crude is down to about 66 dollars, you have to imagine the price actually going below the bottom of this chart…

Oil Price 2013 - 2014

Needless to say, this price collapse is having a huge impact on the stock prices of oil companies.  The following information about what happened in the markets on Friday comes from Business Insider

Here were some of the biggest losers on Friday:

  • BP (BP), down 5%
  • Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A), down 6%
  • Total (TOT), down 5%
  • Statoil (STO), down 14%
  • Exxon Mobil (XOM), down 5%
  • ConocoPhillips (COP), down 9%
  • Marathon Oil (MRO), down 13%
  • Occidental Petroleum (OXY), down 7%
  • Anadarko Petroleum (APC), down 14%
  • Linn Energy (LINE), down 13%
  • Whiting Petroleum (WLL), down 28%
  • Oasis Petroleum (OAS), down 32%
  • Kodiak Oil & Gas (KOG), down 28%

And this list goes on.

But this could just be the beginning of the oil price declines.

The most powerful oil official in Russia believes that the price of oil could fall below $60 next year…

Russia’s most powerful oil official Igor Sechin said in an interview with an Austrian newspaper that oil prices could fall below $60 by mid-way through next year.

Sechin, chief executive of Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, also said U.S. oil production would fall after 2025 and that an oil market council should be created to monitor prices, the same day the OPEC cartel met in Vienna and left its output targets unchanged.

“We expect that a fall in the price to $60 and below is possible, but only during the first half, or rather by the end of the first half (of next year),” Sechin told the Die Presse newspaper.

And one oil industry analyst just told CNBC that he believes that the price of oil could ultimately plunge as low as $35 a barrel…

“When you look at the second half of 2015, that’s when you see oil beginning to dwarf demand by about a million, a million and a half barrels a day,” he said. “Thirty-five dollars is a possibility if they don’t get an agreement next spring because that’s when the oil really starts to build and you can have a billion barrels of oil with really no place to put it.”

This comes at a time when there are already a whole host of signs that the global economy is slowing down.  Three of the ten largest economies on the planet have already slipped into recession, and the economic nightmare over in Europe just continues to get even worse.  In fact, we just learned that the unemployment rate in Italy has shot above 13 percent for the first time ever recorded.

In addition, it is important to remember that the “real economy” in the United States is in far worse shape than it was just prior to the last financial crash.  Just consider these numbers…

-In the United States today, the number of payday lending locations is greater than the number of McDonald’s and the number of Starbucks.

-One recent survey found that about 22 percent of all Americans have had to turn to a church food panty for assistance.

-This year, almost one out of every five households in the United States celebrated Thanksgiving on food stamps.

-The rate of government dependence in America is at an all-time high and approximately 60 percent of U.S. households get more in transfer payments from the government than they pay in taxes.

-According to a report that was just released by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the U.S. has soared to a new all-time record high of 2.5 million.

If things are this bad now, what are they going to look like after the next great financial crash?

And without a doubt, the next crash is coming.  Hopefully we have at least a couple more months of relative stability, but many experts are now urgently warning that time is quickly running out.

By this time next year, Black Friday may look a whole lot different than it does today.

 

Wall Street Admits That A Cyberattack Could Crash Our Banking System At Any Time

Cyberattack - Public DomainWall Street banks are getting hit by cyber attacks every single minute of every single day.  It is a massive onslaught that is not highly publicized because the bankers do not want to alarm the public.  But as you will see below, one big Wall Street bank is spending 250 million dollars a year just by themselves to combat this growing problem.  The truth is that our financial system is not nearly as stable as most Americans think that it is.  We have become more dependent on technology than ever before, and that comes with a potentially huge downside.  An electromagnetic pulse weapon or an incredibly massive cyberattack could conceivably take down part or all of our banking system at any time.

This week, the mainstream news is reporting on an attack on our major banks that was so massive that the FBI and the Secret Service have decided to get involved.  The following is how Forbes described what is going on…

The FBI and the Secret Service are investigating a huge wave of cyber attacks on Wall Street banks, reportedly including JP Morgan Chase, that took place in recent weeks.

The attacks may have involved the theft of multiple gigabytes of sensitive data, according to reports. Joshua Campbell, supervisory special agent at the FBI, tells Forbes: “We are working with the United States Secret Service to determine the scope of recently reported cyber attacks against several American financial institutions.”

When most people think of “cyber attacks”, they think of a handful of hackers working out of lonely apartments or the basements of their parents.  But that is not primarily what we are dealing with anymore.  Today, big banks are dealing with cyberattackers that are extremely organized and that are incredibly sophisticated.

The threat grows with each passing day, and that is why JPMorgan Chase says that “not every battle will be won” even though it is spending 250 million dollars a year in a relentless fight against cyberattacks…

JPMorgan Chase this year will spend $250 million and dedicate 1,000 people to protecting itself from cybercrime — and it still might not be completely successful, CEO Jamie Dimon warned in April.

Cyberattacks are growing every day in strength and velocity across the globe. It is going to be continual and likely never-ending battle to stay ahead of it — and, unfortunately, not every battle will be won,” Dimon said in his annual letter to shareholders.

Other big Wall Street banks have a similar perspective.  Just consider the following two quotes from a recent USA Today article

Bank of America: “Although to date we have not experienced any material losses relating to cyber attacks or other information security breaches, there can be no assurance that we will not suffer such losses in the future.”

Citigroup: “Citi has been subject to intentional cyber incidents from external sources, including (i) denial of service attacks, which attempted to interrupt service to clients and customers; (ii) data breaches, which aimed to obtain unauthorized access to customer account data; and (iii) malicious software attacks on client systems, which attempted to allow unauthorized entrance to Citi’s systems under the guise of a client and the extraction of client data. For example, in 2013 Citi and other U.S. financial institutions experienced distributed denial of service attacks which were intended to disrupt consumer online banking services. …

“… because the methods used to cause cyber attacks change frequently or, in some cases, are not recognized until launched, Citi may be unable to implement effective preventive measures or proactively address these methods.”

I don’t know about you, but those quotes do not exactly fill me with confidence.

Another potential threat that banking executives lose sleep over is the threat of electromagnetic pulse weapons.  The technology of these weapons has advanced so much that they can fit inside a briefcase now.  Just consider the following excerpt from an article that was posted on an engineering website entitled “Electromagnetic Warfare Is Here“…

The problem is growing because the technology available to attackers has improved even as the technology being attacked has become more vulnerable. Our infrastructure increasingly depends on closely integrated, high-speed electronic systems operating at low internal voltages. That means they can be laid low by short, sharp pulses high in voltage but low in energy—output that can now be generated by a machine the size of a suitcase, batteries included.

Electromagnetic (EM) attacks are not only possible—they are happening. One may be under way as you read this. Even so, you would probably never hear of it: These stories are typically hushed up, for the sake of security or the victims’ reputation.

That same article described how an attack might possibly happen…

An attack might be staged as follows. A larger electromagnetic weapon could be hidden in a small van with side panels made of fiberglass, which is transparent to EM radiation. If the van is parked about 5 to 10 meters away from the target, the EM fields propagating to the wall of the building can be very high. If, as is usually the case, the walls are mere masonry, without metal shielding, the fields will attenuate only slightly. You can tell just how well shielded a building is by a simple test: If your cellphone works well when you’re inside, then you are probably wide open to attack.

And with electromagnetic pulse weapons, terrorists or cyberattackers can try again and again until they finally get it right

And, unlike other means of attack, EM weapons can be used without much risk. A terrorist gang can be caught at the gates, and a hacker may raise alarms while attempting to slip through the firewalls, but an EM attacker can try and try again, and no one will notice until computer systems begin to fail (and even then the victims may still not know why).

Never before have our financial institutions faced potential threats on this scale.

According to the Telegraph, our banks are under assault from cyberattacks “every minute of every day”, and these attacks are continually growing in size and scope…

Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.

Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent “hacktivism”, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.

In the end, it is probably only a matter of time until we experience a technological 9/11.

When that day arrives, will your money be safe?

Is The Takedown Of Gold A Sign That The Entire Global Financial System Is About To Crash?

The Collapse Of GoldSomebody out there is sure getting prepared for something really big.  We have just witnessed a takedown of gold and silver unlike anything that we have witnessed in decades.  On Monday, the price of gold had fallen by more than 10 percent at one point.  It shocked investors all over the globe, and overall what we have just seen was the largest two day decline in the price of gold in 30 years.  The price of silver dropped even more rapidly on Monday.  It was down more than 14 percent at one point.  There was an atmosphere of “panic selling” as investors and financial institutions raced to liquidate their holdings of silver and gold.  But was this exactly what someone out there wanted?  As I wrote about the other day, big banks and news outlets all over the world have been boldly proclaiming for weeks that gold is entering a “bear market” and that now is the time for all of us to sell our gold.  In particular, Goldman Sachs reportedly told their clients earlier this month that they “recommend initiating a short COMEX gold position“.  Was that just a “good guess” on their part, or was something else going on?  Were they actually trying to help create a “selling frenzy” that would drive the price of gold much lower?

What we witnessed on Monday was absolutely jaw-dropping.  Just check out this chart of the price of gold over the past 10 years.  The takedown of gold on Monday sticks out like a sore thumb…

The Price Of Gold

And that chart does not even show the full extent of the collapse.  As I write this, the price of gold is sitting at $1355.20.

But this is just the beginning for gold and silver.  As I have warned repeatedly, the price of gold and the price of silver will experience wild swings in the years ahead.

For example, the following is what I wrote about gold and silver on August 7th, 2012

I like precious metals myself, but if you are going to invest you need to get educated so that you know what you are doing.  If you go in blindly you are likely to get burned at some point.

In addition, you need to be prepared for wild fluctuations in price over the coming years.  There will be times when gold and silver absolutely soar and there will be times when they drop like a rock.

So if you are going to play the game you need to be able to handle the ride.

Monday was an example of what I meant when I said that “you need to be able to handle the ride”.  There are going to be a lot more days like Monday (both up and down) for gold and silver in the years ahead.

The foolish people are those that are scared out of their wits and that are selling off all of their gold and silver right now.

Sadly, there was reportedly a tremendous amount of panic selling of gold and silver during this collapse.  The following is what Dennis Gartman told CNBC on Monday

“There are a lot of people throwing up their hands. Throwing positions overboard. Panic is everywhere,” Gartman said in a “Squawk Box” interview on Monday. “I’ve never seen anything like this. I mean it.”

It just shows that there are a lot of stupid people out there.  The following is an excerpt from another CNBC report about the panic selling that was happening on Monday…

“I think the last $20 has been margin selling. The market is falling like a knife. People are saying, ‘Get me out now,’ ” Phoenix Futures President Kevin Grady said. “You’re also seeing people selling energy profits to pay for metals losses. You’re seeing a tremendous amount of gold liquidation today.”

According to Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Ronald Reagan, all of this panic selling is the result of an orchestrated takedown of gold and silver…

This is an orchestration (the smash in gold). It’s been going on now from the beginning of April. Brokerage houses told their individual clients the word was out that hedge funds and institutional investors were going to be dumping gold and that they should get out in advance.

Then, a couple of days ago, Goldman Sachs announced there would be further departures from gold. So what they are trying to do is scare the individual investor out of bullion. Clearly there is something desperate going on…

So who is behind all of this orchestration?  Well, according to Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, it is actually the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve began its April Fool’s assault on gold by sending the word to brokerage houses, which quickly went out to clients, that hedge funds and other large investors were going to unload their gold positions and that clients should get out of the precious metal market prior to these sales. As this inside information was the government’s own strategy, individuals cannot be prosecuted for acting on it. By this operation, the Federal Reserve, a totally corrupt entity, was able to combine individual flight with institutional flight. Bullion prices took a big hit, and bullishness departed from the gold and silver markets. The flow of dollars into bullion, which threatened to become a torrent, was stopped.

In fact, Dr. Roberts says that former Goldman Sachs trader Andrew Maguire is reporting that the Fed orchestrated the dumping of 500 tons of naked gold shorts into the market on Friday…

According to Andrew Maguire, on Friday, April 12, the Fed’s agents hit the market with 500 tons of naked shorts. Normally, a short is when an investor thinks the price of a stock or commodity is going to fall. He wants to sell the item in advance of the fall, pocket the money, and then buy the item back after it falls in price, thus making money on the short sale. If he doesn’t have the item, he borrows it from someone who does, putting up cash collateral equal to the current market price. Then he sells the item, waits for it to fall in price, buys it back at the lower price and returns it to the owner who returns his collateral. If enough shorts are sold, the result can be to drive down the market price.

If any of the allegations above are even remotely true, then a whole lot of people need to be criminally investigated.

Meanwhile, many are considering this takedown of gold to be an ominous sign that another major financial crisis may be heading our way.

Just remember what happened back in 2008.  As Zero Hedge noted on Monday, the price of gold suddenly plunged 21 percent in July 2008.  That was just a couple of months before the U.S. stock market crashed in the fall…

The rapidity of gold’s drop is impressive, concerning, and disorderly. We have seen two other such instances of disorderly ‘hurried’ selling in the last five years. In July 2008, gold quickly dropped 21% – seemingly pre-empting the Lehman debacle and the collapse of the western banking system.

Is this collapse in the price of gold a harbinger of another major stock market crash?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, many average Americans are wondering if they should dump their gold and silver while they still can.

As I mentioned above, gold and silver are going to experience wild fluctuations over the next few years.  When the next stock market crash comes, gold and silver are probably going to go even lower than they are today for a short time.  But in the long run gold and silver are going to soar to unprecedented heights.

Investing in gold and silver is not for the faint of heart.  If you cannot handle the ride, you should sit on the sidelines.  We are entering a period of tremendous financial instability, and holding gold and silver is going to be like riding a roller coaster.  The ups and downs are going to shake a lot of people up, but the rewards are going to be great for those that stick with it the entire time.

Why Is The World Economy Doomed? The Global Financial Pyramid Scheme By The Numbers

Why Is The World Economy Doomed? The Global Financial Pyramid Scheme By The NumbersWhy is the global economy in so much trouble?  How can so many people be so absolutely certain that the world financial system is going to crash?  Well, the truth is that when you take a look at the cold, hard numbers it is not difficult to see why the global financial pyramid scheme is destined to fail.  In the United States today, there is approximately 56 trillion dollars of total debt in our financial system, but there is only about 9 trillion dollars in our bank accounts.  So you could take every single penny out of the banks, multiply it by six, and you still would not have enough money to pay off all of our debts.  Overall, there is about 190 trillion dollars of total debt on the planet.  But global GDP is only about 70 trillion dollars.  And the total notional value of all derivatives around the globe is somewhere between 600 trillion and 1500 trillion dollars.  So we have a gigantic problem on our hands.  The global financial system is a very shaky house of cards that has been constructed on a foundation of debt, leverage and incredibly risky derivatives.  We are living in the greatest financial bubble in world history, and it isn’t going to take much to topple the entire thing.  And when it falls, it is going to be the largest financial disaster in the history of the planet.

The global financial system is more interconnected today than ever before, and a crisis at one major bank or in one area of the world can spread at lightning speed.  As I wrote about yesterday, the entire European banking system is leveraged 26 to 1 at this point.  A decline in asset values of just 4 percent would totally wipe out the equity of many of those banks, and once a financial panic begins we could potentially see major financial institutions start to go down like dominoes.

We got a small taste of what that is like back in 2008, and it is inevitable that it will happen again.

Anyone that would tell you that the current global financial system is sustainable does not know what they are talking about.  Just look at the numbers that I have posted below.

The following is the global financial pyramid scheme by the numbers…

-$9,283,000,000,000 – The total amount of all bank deposits in the United States.  The FDIC has just 25 billion dollars in the deposit insurance fund that is supposed to “guarantee” those deposits.  In other words, the ratio of total bank deposits to insurance fund money is more than 371 to 1.

-$10,012,800,000,000 – The total amount of mortgage debt in the United States.  As you can see, you could take every penny out of every bank account in America and it still would not cover it.

-$10,409,500,000,000 – The M2 money supply in the United States.  This is probably the most commonly used measure of the total amount of money in the U.S. economy.

-$15,094,000,000,000 – U.S. GDP.  It is a measure of all economic activity in the United States for a single year.

-$16,749,269,587,407.53 – The size of the U.S. national debt.  It has grown by more than 10 trillion dollars over the past ten years.

-$32,000,000,000,000 – The total amount of money that the global elite have stashed in offshore banks (that we know about).

-$50,230,844,000,000 – The total amount of government debt in the world.

-$56,280,790,000,000 – The total amount of debt (government, corporate, consumer, etc.) in the U.S. financial system.

-$61,000,000,000,000 – The combined total assets of the 50 largest banks in the world.

-$70,000,000,000,000 – The approximate size of total world GDP.

-$190,000,000,000,000 – The approximate size of the total amount of debt in the entire world.  It has nearly doubled in size over the past decade.

-$212,525,587,000,000 – According to the U.S. government, this is the notional value of the derivatives that are being held by the top 25 banks in the United States.  But those banks only have total assets of about 8.9 trillion dollars combined.  In other words, the exposure of our largest banks to derivatives outweighs their total assets by a ratio of about 24 to 1.

-$600,000,000,000,000 to $1,500,000,000,000,000 – The estimates of the total notional value of all global derivatives generally fall within this range.  At the high end of the range, the ratio of derivatives to global GDP is more than 21 to 1.

Are you starting to get the picture?

Every single day, the total amount of debt will continue to grow faster than the total amount of money until the day that this bubble bursts.

What we witnessed back in 2008 was just a little “hiccup” in the system.  It caused the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but global financial authorities were able to get things stabilized.

Next time it won’t be so easy.

The next wave of the economic collapse is quickly approaching.  A full-blown economic depression has already started in southern Europe.  Unemployment is at record highs and economic activity is contracting rapidly.

The major offshore banking centers in Cyprus are on the verge of collapsing.  It was just announced that they will now be closed until Tuesday, but nobody really knows for sure when they will be allowed to reopen.  And there is already talk that when they do reopen that there will be strict limits on how much money people can take out.

And now the IMF is warning that the three biggest banks in Slovenia are failing and that a billion euros will be needed to bail them out.

The dominoes are starting to tumble, and the United States won’t be immune.  In fact, the greatest financial problems that the United States has ever seen are on the horizon.

But you can just have faith that Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress know exactly what they are doing and will be able to save us from the coming financial collapse if you want.

The mainstream media will provide you with all of the positive economic news that you could possibly want.  They are giddy about the fact that the Dow keeps hitting all-time highs and they would have us all believe that we are in the midst of a robust economic recovery.  You can listen to them if you want to.

But when you are tempted to believe that everything is going to be “okay” somehow, just go back and look at the numbers there were posted above one more time.

There is no way that the global financial pyramid scheme is going to be able to hold up for too much longer.  At some point it is going to totally collapse.  When that happens, will you be ready?

The New World Order Is Coming

Denial Is Not Just A River In Egypt: 10 Hilarious Examples Of How Clueless Our Leaders Are About The Economy

Barack Obama And Ben BernankeThey didn’t see it coming last time either.  Back in 2007, President Bush, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and just about every prominent voice in the financial world were all predicting that we would experience tremendous economic prosperity well into the future.  In fact, as late as January 2008 Bernanke boldly declared that “the Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”  At the time, only the “doom and gloomers” were warning that everything was about to fall apart.  And of course we all know what happened.  But just a few short years later, history seems to be repeating itself.  Barack Obama, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and almost every prominent voice in the financial world are all promising that the U.S. “economic recovery” is going to continue even though Europe is coming apart like a 20 dollar suit.  But the economic fundamentals tell a different story.  Our national debt is more than $6,000,000,000,000 larger than it was back in 2008, the number of Americans on food stamps just hit another brand new all-time record, and the bankers up on Wall Street are selling gigantic mountains of the exact same kind of toxic derivatives that caused so much trouble the last time around.  But all of our “leaders” swear that everything is going to be okay.  You can believe them if you want, but denial is not just a river in Egypt, and another crash is inevitably coming.

Sadly, many Americans are not even going to see the crash coming because they still have faith in the “experts”.  They haven’t figured out that the “experts” really do not know what they are doing.

The blind are leading the blind, and in the end the results are going to be absolutely tragic.

The following are 10 hilarious examples of how clueless our leaders are about the economy…

#1 When I first came across the following chart the other day, it made me chuckle.  It is a chart that supposedly tells us the “probability” of a recession, and it was taken from the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.  According to the chart, right now there is a 0.16% chance of a recession…

Smoothed U.S. Recession Probabilities

#2 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has also been proclaiming his belief that the U.S. economy will continue to grow.  The following is an excerpt from his recent remarks to Congress

The pause in real GDP growth last quarter does not appear to reflect a stalling-out of the recovery. Rather, economic activity was temporarily restrained by weather-related disruptions and by transitory declines in a few volatile categories of spending, even as demand by U.S. households and businesses continued to expand. Available information suggests that economic growth has picked up again this year.

And Bernanke also insists that the labor market is “improving”…

Consistent with the moderate pace of economic growth, conditions in the labor market have been improving gradually.

Of course the labor market is not actually improving.  I showed this using the Fed’s own numbers the other day.

And you can put stock in Bernanke’s forecasting ability if you like, but considering his track record of failure in the past, that might not be too wise.  Just check out what he was saying before the last financial crisis: “30 Ben Bernanke Quotes That Are So Stupid That You Won’t Know Whether To Laugh Or Cry“.

#3 Although Bernanke has such a nightmarish track record of failure, Warren Buffett still has faith in him.  In fact, Buffett loves all of the money printing that Bernanke has been doing…

The U.S. economy might be “dead in the water” without the stimulus provided by the Federal Reserve under Chairman Ben Bernanke, according to Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

“I think very cheap money makes things happen, it makes asset values higher. When asset values are higher, people do have a greater propensity to spend,” Buffett told CNBC.

“I think Bernanke has sort of carried the load himself during this period.”

If Buffett thinks the wild money printing that the Fed has been doing is so wonderful, then he probably would have absolutely loved living in the Weimar Republic.

#4 Barack Obama continues to insist that we do not have a debt crisis, but that we will not be able to balance the budget any time in the foreseeable future either.

Even though the national debt has grown by more than 6 trillion dollars under his leadership and our debt to GDP ratio is now well over 100%, Obama does not believe that it is a significant problem

“We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt”

And Obama certainly does not plan to even come close to balancing the budget during his second term.  In fact, he openly admits that we won’t see a balanced budget at any point within the next decade

“We’re not gonna balance the budget in 10 years”

Sadly, the truth is that the U.S. will never have a balanced budget ever again under our current system, but most of our politicians are not willing to go that far and admit that sad fact to the American people just yet.

#5 But of course it would certainly help if the U.S. government would stop wasting so much money.  For example, did you know that the federal government is helping dead people get free cell phones?  The following is from a recent article in the New York Post

Dead people don’t need cell phones.

That’s the message Rep. Tim Griffin of Arkansas wants to send Congress, after he says a controversial government-backed program that helps provide phones to low-income Americans ended up sending mobiles to the dead relatives of his constituents. Griffin has introduced a bill that targets the phone hand-out program, which has ballooned into a fiscal headache for the government.

And of course a lot of living people are abusing the free cell phone program as well.  Rep. Griffin says that he has heard of some people getting as many as 10 free cell phones from the government…

“I’ve also gotten calls from people who say their employees were bragging about having 10 phones.”

#6 Meanwhile, the most prominent economic journalist in the United States, Paul Krugman of the New York Times, continues to insist that it is a good thing for the government to be running up so much debt…

First of all… that trillion-dollar deficit is overwhelmingly the result of a depressed economy. And when the economy’s depressed it’s good to run a deficit. You don’t want the government to try and balance its budget right now.

Krugman is also operating under the delusion that the federal government “can’t run out of cash”, that it can just print money whenever it wants and that printing giant piles of money would not hurt anything.

The United States is a country that has its own currency–can’t run out of cash because we print the money. If you even try to think what would happen–suppose that investors get down on the United States. Even so, that would weaken the dollar, not send interest rates soaring, and that would be good. That would help our exports

It is frightening that the top economic journalist in America has such little understanding of how our system actually works.  I would encourage Krugman to read a couple of my previous articles so that he won’t be so ignorant in the future…

-“Where Does Money Come From? The Giant Federal Reserve Scam That Most Americans Do Not Understand

-“10 Things That Every American Should Know About The Federal Reserve

#7 Many Americans have wondered why the federal government never seems to go after the big Wall Street banks.  Well, now we know why.  The other day, the Attorney General of the United States admitted that the federal government is very hesitant to prosecute anyone from the big banks because of what it might do to the global economy…

“I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy”

So I guess we now live in a world where there is a different set of rules for the big banks, eh?

Most of us already knew that this was the case, but it is quite chilling to hear the Attorney General of the United States publicly admit this.

#8 Many of the big Wall Street banks are absolutely giddy that the Dow keeps setting new all-time highs, and many of them are projecting wonderful things ahead for the U.S. economy.  For example, here is one forecast from Morgan Stanley’s Vincent Reinhart

“In the Morgan Stanley forecast for the US, the trajectory of economic activity marks an inflection point midway through 2013. The severe financial crisis of 2008-09 necessitated significant downward adjustments by the private sector to the levels of aggregate demand and efficient supply. As the event recedes further into history, however, the drag on growth from these ongoing level adjustments plays out.

In our forecast, the expansion of real GDP steps up to around 2-3/4 percent in the second half of this year and beyond.”

#9 Vice-President Joe Biden is pushing economic optimism to ridiculous levels.  Apparently he believes that most Americans are “no longer worried” that a major economic crisis is coming…

But all kidding aside, I think the American people have moved — Democrats, Republicans, independents.  They know that the possibilities for this country are immense.  They’re no longer traumatized by what was a traumatizing event, the great collapse in 2008.  They’re no longer worried, I think, about our economy being overwhelmed either by Europe writ large, the EU, or China somehow swallowing up every bit of innovation that exists in the world.  They’re no longer, I think, worried about our economy being overwhelmed beyond our shores.

And I don’t think they’re any more — there’s no — there’s very little doubt in any circles out there about America’s ability to be in position to lead the world in the 21st century, not only in terms of our foreign policy, our incredible defense establishment, but economically.

#10 Right now, many in the financial world are projecting that this will be a year to remember for the stock market.  During a recent interview with Fox Business, Wharton School of Business Finance Professor Jeremy Siegel declared that the Dow will cross the 16,000 mark by the end of this year…

“I think by the end of this year, we’ll be in the 16,000 to 17,000 range.”

Of course it is true that other analysts have a much different view of things.  Many of them are absolutely amazed that the U.S. economy has become so disconnected from economic reality.  For example, just check out what Steve Russell and Hamish Baillie, fund managers at the Ruffer Investment Company, recently had to say…

“If this was explained to a recently arrived Martian he would no doubt be puzzled – US unemployment has almost doubled since 2007, GDP [gross domestic product] growth is a third lower and debt as a percentage of GDP is within a whisker of doubling. The market is forward looking but this is extreme”

So who is right and who is wrong?

Time will tell.

Fortunately, it appears that the American people are getting fed up with the constant stream of lies that they have been told.

According to a new Pew Research survey, just 26 percent of all Americans trust the government to do the right thing.

So what about you?

Do you trust what the government and the “experts” are telling you?

Do you trust them to do the right thing?

Feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

LOLCat - Photo by Koruko

Do Wall Street Insiders Expect Something Really BIG To Happen Very Soon?

Do Wall Street Insiders Expect Something Really BIG To Happen Very Soon? - Photo by nosha on flickrWhy are corporate insiders dumping huge numbers of shares in their own companies right now?  Why are some very large investors suddenly making gigantic bets that the stock market will crash at some point in the next 60 days?  Do Wall Street insiders expect something really BIG to happen very soon?  Do they know something that we do not know? What you are about to read below is startling.  Every time that the market has fallen in recent years, insiders have been able to get out ahead of time.  David Coleman of the Vickers Weekly Insider report recently noted that Wall Street insiders have shown “a remarkable ability of late to identify both market peaks and troughs”.  That is why it is so alarming that corporate insiders are selling nine times as many shares as they are buying right now.  In addition, some extraordinarily large bets have just been made that will only pay off if the financial markets in the U.S. crash by the end of April.  So what does all of this mean?  Well, it could mean absolutely nothing or it could mean that there are people out there that actually have insider knowledge that a market crash is coming.  Evaluate the evidence below and decide for yourself…

For some reason, corporate insiders have chosen this moment to unload huge amounts of stock.  According to a CNN article, corporate insiders are now selling nine times more of their own shares than they are buying…

Corporate insiders have one word for investors: sell.

Insiders were nine times more likely to sell shares of their companies than buy new ones last week, according to the Vickers Weekly Insider report by Argus Research.

What makes this so alarming is that corporate insiders have been exceedingly good at “timing the market” in recent years.  The following comes from a recent CNBC article entitled “Sucker Alert? Insider Selling Surges After Dow 14,000“…

“In almost perfect coordination with an equity market that was rushing toward new all-time highs, insider sentiment has weakened sharply — falling to its lowest level since late March 2012,” wrote David Coleman of the Vickers Weekly Insider report, one of the longest researchers of executive buying and selling on Wall Street. “Insiders are waving the cautionary flag in an increasingly aggressive manner.”

There have been more than nine insider sales for every one buy over the past week among NYSE stocks, according to Vickers. The last time executives sold their company’s stock this aggressively was in early 2012, just before the S&P 500 went on to correct by 10 percent to its low for the year.

“Insiders know more than the vast majority of market participants,” said Enis Taner, global macro editor for RiskReversal.com. “And they’re usually right over a long period of time.”

There are other indications that the stock market may be headed for a significant tumble in the months ahead.  For example, as a Zero Hedge article recently pointed out, the last time that the financial markets in the U.S. were as “euphoric” as they are now was right before the financial crisis of 2008.

And as I mentioned above, some people out there have recently made some absolutely jaw-dropping bets against stocks which will only pay off if there is a financial crash at some point in the next few months.

According to Business Insider, the recent purchase of 100,000 put options by a mystery investor has a lot of people on Wall Street talking…

According to Barron’s columnist Steven Sears, someone made a big bet against the financials ETF yesterday (ticker symbol XLF), and it has everybody buzzing.

The trader bought 100,000 put options on the ETF (a put option increases in value when the price of the underlying asset, in this case, the ETF, goes down).

To put that number in perspective, Sears writes, “Few investors ever trade more than 500 contracts, so a 100,000 order tends to stop traffic and prompt all sorts of speculation about what’s motivating the trade.” According to Sears, the trade “has sparked conversations across the market.”

Reportedly, those put options expire in April.

And as Art Cashin of UBS has noted, there was also another extremely large bet that was placed recently that is banking on a financial crash within the next two months…

A Very Big Bet In A Somewhat Unlikely Instrument – My friend, Jim Brown, the ever-alert consummate professional over at Option Investor pointed us to a rather unusual trade. Here’s what he wrote in last night’s edition of his valuable newsletter:

In past years I have reported on trades that were so large it appeared someone had inside knowledge of a pending event. Sometimes those were massive put positions on the S&P. A new trade just appeared that suggests there will be a market event in the near future. Last week somebody put on a call spread on the VIX using the April 20 and 25 puts. They bought 150,000 contracts for a net of $75 per contract. That is an $11,250,000 bet that the VIX will move over 20 over the next 60 days. You would have to be VERY confident in your outlook to risk $11 million on a directional position with the VIX at five year lows and the markets trying to break out to new highs.

So does all of this guarantee that the stock market is going to move a certain way?

Of course not.

But when you step back and look at the bigger picture, it does appear that Wall Street insiders are preparing for something.

Meanwhile, the government continues to assure us that happy days are here again for the U.S. economy and that we don’t have anything to worry about.

The Congressional Budget Office has just released a report that contains their outlook for the next decade.  The report is entitled “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023″, and if you want a good laugh you should read it.

Here are some of the things that the CBO believes will happen…

-The CBO believes that government revenues will more than double by 2023.

-The CBO believes that government revenue as a percentage of GDP will rise from 15.8 percent today to 19.1 percent in 2023.

-The CBO believes that the unemployment rate will continually fall over the next decade.

-The CBO believes that the federal budget deficit will fall to just 2.4% of GDP in fiscal year 2015.

-The CBO believes that the federal budget deficit will only be $430 billion in 2015.

-The CBO believes that we will not have a single recession over the next decade.

-The CBO believes that inflation will stay at about 2 percent for the next decade.

-The CBO believes that U.S. GDP will grow by a total of 67 percent by 2023.

Wow, all of that sounds great until you go back and take a look at how CBO projections have fared in the past.

In fact, Bruce Krasting has gone back and looked at the numbers from the Congressional Budget Office’s Budget and Economic Outlook 2003.  I think that you will find the differences between the CBO projections and what really happened to be very humorous…

Estimated 10-year budget surplus = $5.6T.

Reality = $6.6T deficit. A 200+% miss.

 

Estimate for 2012 Debt Held by Public = $1.2T (5% of GDP).

Reality = Debt Held by Public = $11.6T. A 1000% miss.

 

Estimated fiscal 2012 GDP = $17.4T.

Reality = $15.8T. A $1.6T (10%) miss.

So should we trust what the CBO is telling us now?

Of course not.

Instead, perhaps we should listen to some of the men that successfully warned us about the last financial crisis…

-“Dr. Doom” Marc Faber recently stated that he “loves the high odds of a ‘big-time’ market crash“.

-Economist Nouriel Roubini says that we should “prepare for a perfect storm“.

-Pimco’s Bill Gross says that we are heading for a “credit supernova“.

-Nomura’s Bob Janjuah believes that the financial markets 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”.

The truth is that no matter how much money printing the Federal Reserve does, it is only a matter of time before the financial markets catch up with economic reality.

The U.S. economy has been in decline for a very long time, and things just continue to get even worse.  Here are just a few numbers…

-The percentage of the civilian labor force that is employed has fallen every single year since 2006.

-According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, truly accurate numbers would show that U.S. GDP growth has actually been continuously negative all the way back to 2005.

-U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

-One recent survey found that nearly half of all Americans are living on the edge of financial ruin.

-According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 146 million Americans that are considered to be either “poor” or “low income” at this point.

For many more statistics that demonstrate that the U.S. economy has continued to decline in recent years, please see this article: “37 Statistics Which Show How Four Years Of Obama Have Wrecked The U.S. Economy“.

So where is all of this headed?

Well, after the next major financial crisis in America things are going to get very tough.

We can get a hint for how things are going to be by taking a look at what is going on over in Europe right now.

Can you imagine people trampling each other for food?  That is what is happening in Greece.  Just check out this excerpt from a Reuters article

Hundreds of people jostled for free vegetables handed out by farmers in a symbolic protest earlier on Wednesday, trampling one man and prompting an outcry over the growing desperation created by economic crisis.

Images of people struggling to seize bags of tomatoes and leeks thrown from a truck dominated television, triggering a bout of soul-searching over the new depths of poverty in the debt-laden country.

The suffering that the Greeks are experiencing right now will come to this country soon enough.

So enjoy this false bubble of debt-fueled prosperity while you can.  It is going to end way too soon, and after that there will be a whole lot of pain.

Wall Street - Photo by Andrés Nieto Porras

The Coming Derivatives Panic That Will Destroy Global Financial Markets

When financial markets in the United States crash, so does the U.S. economy.  Just remember what happened back in 2008.  The financial markets crashed, the credit markets froze up, and suddenly the economy went into cardiac arrest.  Well, there are very few things that could cause the financial markets to crash harder or farther than a derivatives panic.  Sadly, most Americans don’t even understand what derivatives are.  Unlike stocks and bonds, a derivative is not an investment in anything real.  Rather, a derivative is a legal bet on the future value or performance of something else.  Just like you can go to Las Vegas and bet on who will win the football games this weekend, bankers on Wall Street make trillions of dollars of bets about how interest rates will perform in the future and about what credit instruments are likely to default.  Wall Street has been transformed into a gigantic casino where people are betting on just about anything that you can imagine.  This works fine as long as there are not any wild swings in the economy and risk is managed with strict discipline, but as we have seen, there have been times when derivatives have caused massive problems in recent years.  For example, do you know why the largest insurance company in the world, AIG, crashed back in 2008 and required a government bailout?  It was because of derivatives.  Bad derivatives trades also caused the failure of MF Global, and the 6 billion dollar loss that JPMorgan Chase recently suffered because of derivatives made headlines all over the globe.  But all of those incidents were just warm up acts for the coming derivatives panic that will destroy global financial markets.  The largest casino in the history of the world is going to go “bust” and the economic fallout from the financial crash that will happen as a result will be absolutely horrific.

There is a reason why Warren Buffett once referred to derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction”.  Nobody really knows the total value of all the derivatives that are floating around out there, but estimates place the notional value of the global derivatives market anywhere from 600 trillion dollars all the way up to 1.5 quadrillion dollars.

Keep in mind that global GDP is somewhere around 70 trillion dollars for an entire year.  So we are talking about an amount of money that is absolutely mind blowing.

So who is buying and selling all of these derivatives?

Well, would it surprise you to learn that it is mostly the biggest banks?

According to the federal government, four very large U.S. banks “represent 93% of the total banking industry notional amounts and 81% of industry net current credit exposure.”

These four banks have an overwhelming share of the derivatives market in the United States.  You might not be very fond of “the too big to fail banks“, but keep in mind that if a derivatives crisis were to cause them to crash and burn it would almost certainly cause the entire U.S. economy to crash and burn.  Just remember what we saw back in 2008.  What is coming is going to be even worse.

It would have been really nice if we had not allowed these banks to get so large and if we had not allowed them to make trillions of dollars of reckless bets.  But we stood aside and let it happen.  Now these banks are so important to our economic system that their destruction would also destroy the U.S. economy.  It is kind of like when cancer becomes so advanced that killing the cancer would also kill the patient.  That is essentially the situation that we are facing with these banks.

It would be hard to overstate the recklessness of these banks.  The numbers that you are about to see are absolutely jaw-dropping.  According to the Comptroller of the Currency, four of the largest U.S. banks are walking a tightrope of risk, leverage and debt when it comes to derivatives.  Just check out how exposed they are…

JPMorgan Chase

Total Assets: $1,812,837,000,000 (just over 1.8 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $69,238,349,000,000 (more than 69 trillion dollars)

Citibank

Total Assets: $1,347,841,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $52,150,970,000,000 (more than 52 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $1,445,093,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $44,405,372,000,000 (more than 44 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $114,693,000,000 (a bit more than 114 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $41,580,395,000,000 (more than 41 trillion dollars)

That means that the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 362 times greater than their total assets.

To get a better idea of the massive amounts of money that we are talking about, just check out this excellent infographic.

How in the world could we let this happen?

And what is our financial system going to look like when this pyramid of risk comes falling down?

Our politicians put in a few new rules for derivatives, but as usual they only made things even worse.

According to Nasdaq.com, beginning next year new regulations will require derivatives traders to put up trillions of dollars to satisfy new margin requirements.

Swaps that will be allowed to remain outside clearinghouses when new rules take effect in 2013 will require traders to post $1.7 trillion to $10.2 trillion in margin, according to a report by an industry group.

The analysis from the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, using data sent in anonymously by banks, says the trillions of dollars in cash or securities will be needed in the form of so-called “initial margin.” Margin is the collateral that traders need to put up to back their positions, and initial margin is money backing trades on day one, as opposed to variation margin posted over the life of a trade as it fluctuates in value.

So where in the world will all of this money come from?

Total U.S. GDP was just a shade over 15 trillion dollars last year.

Could these rules cause a sudden mass exodus that would destabilize the marketplace?

Let’s hope not.

But things are definitely changing.  According to Reuters, some of the big banks are actually urging their clients to avoid new U.S. rules by funneling trades through the overseas divisions of their banks…

Wall Street banks are looking to help offshore clients sidestep new U.S. rules designed to safeguard the world’s $640 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market, taking advantage of an exemption that risks undermining U.S. regulators’ efforts.

U.S. banks such as Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) have been explaining to their foreign customers that they can for now avoid the new rules, due to take effect next month, by routing trades via the banks’ overseas units, according to industry sources and presentation materials obtained by Reuters.

Unfortunately, no matter how banks respond to the new rules, it isn’t going to prevent the coming derivatives panic.  At some point the music is going to stop and some big financial players are going to be completely and totally exposed.

When that happens, it might not be just the big banks that lose money.  Just take a look at what happened with MF Global.

MF Global has confessed that it “diverted money” from customer accounts that were supposed to be segregated.  A lot of customers may never get back any of the money that they invested with those crooks.  The following comes from a Huffington Post article about the MF Global debacle, and it might just be a preview of what other investors will go through in the future when a derivatives crash destroys the firms that they had their money parked with…

Last week when customers asked for excess cash from their accounts, MF Global stalled. According to a commodity fund manager I spoke with, MF Global’s first stall tactic was to claim it lost wire transfer instructions. Then instead of sending an overnight check, it sent the money snail mail, including checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The checks bounced. After the checks bounced, the amounts were still debited from customer accounts and no one at MF Global could or would reverse the check entries. The manager has had to intervene to get MF Global to correct this.

How would you respond if your investment account suddenly went to “zero” because the firm you were investing with “diverted” customer funds for company use and now you have no way of recovering your money?

Keep an eye on the large Wall Street banks.  In a previous article, I quoted a New York Times article entitled “A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives” which described how these banks dominate the trading of derivatives…

On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.

The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.

According to the article, the following large banks are represented at these meetings: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup.

When the casino finally goes “bust”, you will know who to blame.

Without a doubt, a derivatives panic is coming.

It will cause the financial markets to crash.

Several of the “too big to fail” banks will likely crash and burn and require bailouts.

As a result of all this, credit markets will become paralyzed by fear and freeze up.

Once again, we will see the U.S. economy go into cardiac arrest, only this time it will not be so easy to fix.

Do you agree with this analysis, or do you find it overly pessimistic?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

UNSUSTAINABLE

When it comes to explaining the problems with our economy, one of the hardest things to do is to get people to understand that we are living in an economic fantasy world that is completely and totally unsustainable.  As a nation we consume far more than we produce, we spend far more than we bring in, our debt is growing much faster than our GDP is, our entitlement programs are growing at an exponential rate, our retirement system is a Ponzi scheme and the Federal Reserve is printing money as if there is no tomorrow in a desperate attempt to paper over all of our problems.  But we have all grown so accustomed to the debt-fueled prosperity that we have been enjoying for so many decades that it actually feels “real” to most of us.  Unfortunately, history has shown us that it is simply not possible to grow your debt faster than your economy indefinitely.  At some point your consumption will drop back to a level more equal to your production.    Sometimes that adjustment can be gradual, but other times it can be extremely painful.  In our case, we have been living way above our means for so long that it would take a major economic miracle just to keep our adjustment to an “exceedingly painful” level.  We are living in the largest debt-fueled prosperity bubble in the history of the world, and our unsustainable economy is going to crash and burn at some point.  Hopefully it will be later rather than sooner, but a crash is most definitely coming.

The following are some of the reasons why the bubble economy that we are living in right now is unsustainable….

The Trade Deficit

Most Americans do not really understand what a “trade deficit” is, but it is at the very core of our economic problems.

Basically, we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  We send them huge piles of our money, and they send us oil that we burn in our cars and cheap plastic products that we end up throwing away.  We keep doing this month after month after month, and this is systematically making us poorer as a nation.

In 2012, it is being projected that our trade deficit will fall somewhere between 500 billion and 600 billion dollars.

At this point, the United States has a trade imbalance that is more than 7 times larger than any other nation on earth has.

Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.

Instead of going out of the country, those 8 trillion dollars could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers.  In turn, taxes would have been paid on those 8 trillion dollars and our debt problems would not be nearly as dramatic today.

But we didn’t do that.

We chose to allow tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth to leave the country.

Stupid move, eh?

But both political parties have been endlessly pushing the “free trade” agenda.  They have both promised that it would bring us tremendous prosperity.

Well, just take a look at our formerly great manufacturing cities today.  Do they look prosperous to you?

It turns out that Ross Perot was right when he warned about the “giant sucking sound” that would happen if NAFTA was implemented.

When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.  By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.

That didn’t work out so well, did it?

What about opening up trade with China?

Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year.

In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 295.4 billion dollars.  That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.

Our trade with China is tremendously unbalanced.  Today, U.S. consumers spend approximately 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that Chinese consumers spend on goods and services from the United States.

This is a huge reason why shiny new factories are going up all over China, and our blue collar cities are turning into rotting war zones filled with unemployed people.

If you can believe it, the United States has actually lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

Until we fix the trade deficit we are going to continue bleeding factories, jobs and national wealth at an astounding pace.

The National Debt

It is being projected that U.S. GDP will grow at a rate of about 2.2 percent this year.

The problem is that our federal budget deficit will be somewhere around 7 percent of GDP this year.

With each passing day we are losing ground.  No other nation on earth has been able to run up debt like this indefinitely, and neither will we.

Does this chart look like a healthy situation to you?….

Sadly, all of this government debt is just about the only thing holding up our economy at this point.  Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by about 5.5 trillion dollars.  Of course the Obama administration has spent a lot of that money on incredibly stupid stuff, but it still gets into the pockets of average Americans that in turn spend it on food, gas, mortgage payments, etc.

If we could go back in time and suck that 5.5 trillion dollars of extra spending out of the economy we would be in a horrible economic depression right now.

But that does not mean that borrowing and spending all of that money was the right thing to do.  We have stolen it from our children and our grandchildren and we are going to stick them with the bill.

That is highly immoral and it is a national disgrace.

Yet we continue to do it because we can’t help ourselves.  We are ruining the future of this nation in order to make the present more pleasant for ourselves.

As I noted yesterday, the U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.

We are completely addicted to debt and we can’t stop.  We know that we are destroying the future of the United States but we have absolutely no self-discipline.

By the end of Barack Obama’s first term, the U.S. government will have accumulated more debt during those four years than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.

But most Americans seem fine with that.

Most Americans don’t even really know why this is happening, and most don’t really seem too concerned about finding out.  They just want the good times to continue to roll.

Sadly, the truth is that our financial system is designed to create government debt.  It is one of the primary purposes of the Federal Reserve system.

At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

So I guess you could say that the Federal Reserve is doing a good job of what it was designed to do.

And until we change the system things are going to continue to get worse until the entire system collapses.

Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that we are basically facing financial armageddon if something is not done.  Kotlikoff speaks of a “fiscal gap” which he defines as “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”.  His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the United States is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.

Where in the world are we going to get an extra 222 trillion dollars?

Entitlements

Every society needs a safety net, but we are rapidly getting to the point where there are going to be more Americans on the safety net than there are Americans supporting it.

Back in 1983, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government.

Today, that number is up to an all-time record of 49 percent.

Many people don’t believe me when I tell them that more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government right now, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.

But it is actually true.

Overall, there are nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” that the federal government is currently running.

But of course the biggest financial burdens are Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.  All three are on course to become completely and totally unsustainable.

For example, the number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

Ouch.

Well, what about Medicare?

Sadly, Medicare is even more frightening.

As I wrote recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

How in the world can we afford that?

At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

Are you ready to contribute your share?

Social Security is in really bad shape as well.

At the moment, approximately 56 million Americans are collecting Social Security benefits.

By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.

Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

Where are we going to get that money?

Total Debt

Of course the national debt is not out only debt problem.  All over the country there are state and local governments that are on the verge of insolvency.  Corporations and financial institutions are leveraged like crazy.  And of course consumers have absolutely gorged on debt over the past several decades.

As a result, we are drowning in debt from sea to shining sea.

The good news is that our GDP is more than 12 times larger than it was 40 years ago.

The bad news is that the total amount of debt in our country is more than 30 times larger than it was 40 years ago….

Obviously this is something that cannot go on forever.

We simply cannot keep accumulating debt much faster than our economy is growing.

Nobody knows exactly when the “adjustment” is coming, but it most definitely will arrive at some point.

Money Printing

The Federal Reserve has attempted to monetize many of our economic problems by printing gigantic mountains of money in recent years.

The Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems, but most Americans don’t realize this.  It was the Federal Reserve that created the conditions for the housing bubble, and it was the Federal Reserve that badly mismanaged the response when that bubble burst.  The Federal Reserve decides how much money will be printed and what our interest rates will be.  The Federal Reserve lends out trillions of dollars to the banks that they like, and other banks they let die.  The Federal Reserve picks winners and losers in our economy, and most of the time that means good things for the big Wall Street banks and bad things for the rest of us.

In a desperate attempt to keep our unsustainable financial system from collapsing, the Federal Reserve has decided to start printing unprecedented amounts of money.  Just look at what this has done to the monetary base….

And QE3 really hasn’t even started to kick in yet.

So how bad will that chart look after QE3 has been adding another 40 billion dollars a month to the financial system for a while?

You know, the Weimar Republic was absolutely convinced that they were doing the right thing by printing lots of money too.

But in the end that didn’t work out very well for them at all….

So should we really be celebrating the fact that the Federal Reserve is going down the same path that the Weimar Republic did?

Demonocracy has released a great new graphic that does a wonderful job of illustrating just how huge the amounts of money involved in QE3 are going to be.  If you have not seen it yet, you can view the graphic right here.

The rest of the world is watching the games that we are playing with our currency.  Right now we think that we are getting away with it, but what we are doing is not sustainable.  At some point the rest of the world will totally lose confidence in the U.S. dollar, and when that happens the U.S. dollar could easily lose its status as the primary reserve currency of the world.

If that were to happen the coming shift in our standard of living would happen much more rapidly.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need to wake people up and get them to understand how incredibly vulnerable our financial system really is.  We are on a path that is unsustainable any way that you want to look at it, and if something dramatic is not done our economy is going to experience an unprecedented collapse.

So what happens if nothing is done and everything crashes all around us?

Well, I hope that you are prepared because it isn’t going to be pretty.

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