The 7th largest economy on the entire planet is completely imploding. I have written previously about the economic depression that is plaguing Brazil, but since my last article it has gotten much, much worse. During 2015, Brazil’s economy shrank by 3.8 percent, but for the most recent quarter the decline was 5.89 percent on a year over year basis. Unemployment is rising rapidly, the inflation rate is up over 10 percent, and Brazilian currency has lost 24 percent of its value compared to the U.S. dollar over the past 12 months.
At this point, Brazil is already experiencing its longest economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and things are getting worse for ordinary Brazilians every single day. The following comes from CNN…
But with Brazil plunging into its worst recession in over two decades — hopes for a brighter future are fading. The Brazilian economy shrank 3.8% in 2015, according to government data published Thursday. That’s the biggest annual drop since 1990 and the country is in its longest recession since the 1930s.
“I have never seen anything like this,” said Alves, 24, as he stood on his balcony overlooking Rocinha, a massive lower middle class neighborhood or favela in Rio de Janeiro where he grew up. “My parents would tell me about hard times, but today it is really tough. Prices are going up every day.”
So how did this happen?
Well, there are a couple of factors that are really hurting South American economies.
Number one, during the “boom years” governments and businesses in South America absolutely gorged on debt. Unfortunately, many of those loans were denominated in U.S. dollars, and now that the U.S. dollar has appreciated greatly against local South American currencies it is taking far more of those local currencies to service and pay back those debts.
Number two, collapsing prices for oil and other commodities have been absolutely brutal for South American economies. They rely very heavily on exporting commodities to the rest of the world, and so at the same time their debt problems are exploding they are getting a lot less money for the oil and industrial commodities that they are trying to sell to North America, Asia and Europe.
I want you to pay close attention to the following chart and analysis from Zero Hedge. As you can see, the economic problems in Brazil appear to be greatly accelerating…
“The Brazilian economic downturn took a real turn for the worse in February,” according to Markit’s Composite PMI, which collapsed to record lows at 39.0. Despite a slightly less bad than expected GDP print this morning (still down a record 5.89% YoY), hope was quickly extinguished as PMIs showed economic activity continuing to contract at a record pace, job losses accelerating, and manufacturing’s collapse accelerating. As Market sums up, “With the global economy also showing signs of slowing, which will impact on external demand, it looks as if the downturn is set to continue to run its course in the coming months.”
GDP was a disaster (but better than expected)
And of course Brazil is not the only South American economy that is a basket case right now. In fact, things in Venezuela are far worse. In 2015, the Venezuelan economy shrunk by 10 percent, and the official rate of inflation was a staggering 181 percent.
Could you imagine living in an economy with a 181 percent inflation rate?
As prices have escalated out of control, citizens have attempted to hoard basic supplies in advance, and this has resulted in food shortages that are absolutely frightening…
Cardboard signs on the door warning of “No bread” have become increasingly common at Venezuelan bakeries.
Venezuela gets 96 percent of its foreign currency from oil exports, and as crude prices have plunged, so have the country’s imports — among them wheat.
The leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro has tightly controlled access to hard currency, and this has affected imports ranging from medicine to toilet paper. Now it is seriously affecting imports of wheat, which Venezuela does not grow.
Add to this the soaring inflation rate — 181 percent in 2015, the world’s highest — and you see why customers are mainly interested in buying basic food items such as bread.
Here in the United States, there are still people who doubt that an economic crisis is happening.
But in Venezuela and Brazil there is no debate.
Unfortunately, what is happening in Venezuela and Brazil is also slowly starting to happen to most of the rest of the planet as well. It is just that they are a little farther down the road. Economic and financial bubbles are bursting all over the world, and I like how author Vikram Mansharamani described this phenomenon during a recent interview with CNBC…
Deflationary tides are lapping the shores of countries across the world and financial bubbles are set to burst everywhere, Vikram Mansharamani, a lecturer at Yale University, told CNBC on Thursday.
“I think it all started with the China investment bubble that has burst and that brought with it commodities and that pushed deflation around the world and those ripples are landing on the shore of countries literally everywhere,” the high-profile author and academic said at the Global Financial Markets Forum in Abu Dhabi.
And of course the evidence of what Mansharamani was talking about is all around us.
Things continue to line up in textbook fashion for a major financial crisis by the end of 2015. This week, Wall Street has been buzzing about the first “death cross” that we have seen for the Dow since 2011. When the 50-day moving average moves below the 200-day moving average, that is a very important psychological moment for the market. And just like during the run up to the stock market crash of 2008, we are starting to witness lots of wild swings up and down. The Dow was up more than 200 points on Monday, the Dow was down more than 200 points on Tuesday, and it took a nearly 700 point roundtrip on Wednesday. This is exactly the type of behavior that we would expect to see during the weeks or months leading up to a crash. As any good sailor will tell you, when the waters start getting very choppy that is not a good sign. Of course what China is doing is certainly not helping matters. On Wednesday, the Chinese devalued the yuan for a second day in a row, and many believe that a new “currency war” has now begun.
So what does all of this mean?
Does this mean that the time of financial “shaking” has now arrived?
Let’s start with what is happening to the Dow. When the 50-day moving average crosses over the 200-day moving average, it is a very powerful signal. For example, as Business Insider has pointed out, if you would have got into stocks when the 50-day moving average moved above the 200-day moving average in December 2011, you would have experienced a gain of 43 percent by now…
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has been on an unrelenting upward trajectory since its October 2011 low.
The signal that convinced many traders that the market was now moving with a bullish bias was when the 50-day moving average of the index price rose above the 200-day moving average a couple of months later at the end of December.
Since then the market rallied 6,200 points to a high of 18,333 before pulling back to last night’s close of 17,404. That’s a gain of around 43% even though the market is 5% off its high.
But now a cross is happening in the other direction. That is why it is called a “death cross”. It is quite understandable why a lot of investors are freaking out about the fact that the 50-day moving average has moved below the 200-day moving average for the first time in four years. Every major stock market in history has been preceded by a death cross.
Of course no indicator is perfect. Sometimes these death crosses come just before market crashes, and other times nothing much seems to happen. The following comes from MarketWatch…
The 50-day moving average (or “MA”) crossed below a rising 200-day MA on July 7, 2010, when the Dow closed at 10,018.28. The Dow’s closing low for 2010 was actually hit two sessions earlier, at 9,686.48.
But the Dow fell another 5.9% over six weeks after the Aug. 24, 2011 death cross, and tumbled as much as 50% over 14 months after the one appearing on Jan. 3, 2008.
And keep in mind that when the January 2008 death cross appeared, the Dow had lost just 7.8% from its Oct. 9, 2007 peak. That means the bull market was still firmly in place, as the rule of thumb is a bear market is defined by a decline of at least 20% from a significant peak. In addition, the 200-day moving average didn’t turn lower until two weeks after the death cross appeared.
But this is not the only indicator pointing to trouble ahead. Even while we have many stocks hitting 52-week highs, we also have an extraordinary number hitting 52-week lows. This is called a “split market”, and this is a very ominous sign. In fact, according to Peter Boockvar 62 percent of all stocks on the New York Stock Exchange are already trading below their 200-day moving average…
Peter Boockvar, market strategist at Lindsey Group, said he believes the market is in a correction that began a few weeks ago, starting with commodities names getting hit. The small-cap Russell 2000 was also a leader of the declines. “The key is it’s infecting other areas of the market. You have every headwind and every reason to continue this correction,” he said.
“Going into today, 62 percent of the NYSE stocks were trading below the 200-day moving average,” said Boockvar. “More and more companies are dropping out of the bull market.”
At this point, we have already had more than 50 “split days” this year. King World News has just released an article which has pointed out this has only happened four times before, and a major stock market crash has followed each occurrence…
The only other times in history we’ve seen more than 50 split days during the past year were March 1968, August 1972, October 2000 and July 2006.
After all four of those, stocks lost more than a third of their value at some point during the next two years.
Are you starting to see?
A stock market crash is coming.
Another thing that has investors concerned is the fact that we have seen a large divergence between high yield credit and stocks. As Bloomberg has pointed out, when this happens a significant stock market decline follows more than 70 percent of the time…
While not without precedent, instances when anxiety in bonds didn’t seep into equities are rare. More than 70 percent of the time since 1996, as spreads widened as much as they have since April, the S&P 500 has fallen, with the average decline exceeding 10 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
“This is something that sooner or later is going to impact the stock market,” said Russ Koesterich, global chief investment strategist at New York-based BlackRock Inc., which oversees $4.7 trillion. “Credit market conditions have not been benign and easy as where they were last summer.”
On top of everything else, it looks like a global currency war could be erupting.
According to USA Today, this desperate move by China to devalue the yuan may indicate that the Chinese economy is in far worse shape than most had thought…
One, China’s move suggests that its economy is in worst shape than believed. “It highlights the fragility of the global economy,” says Donald Luskin, chief investment officer at TrendMacro. Second, a weaker yuan means a stronger dollar, and a stronger dollar means U.S. products sold in China are more expensive, which means fewer sales of Apple iPhones, hotel rooms offered by Wynn Resorts and computer chips made by Micron Technology.
Lastly, there is a fear that other nations will respond to China by devaluing their own currencies to stay competitive.
“When people start talking about ‘currency wars,’ it’s never a good thing,” says Michael Farr, president of money-management firm Farr, Miller & Washington. “China’s move to devalue its currency could be the first shot across the bow towards a wider currency war.”
As I discussed yesterday, it seems like the phrase “currency war” has been thrown around a lot lately.
But what would that look like, and what would that mean for the global economy?
Well, former IMF economist Stephen Jen is suggesting that we could soon see major currencies all over the planet being devalued by up to 50 percent…
[The] devaluation of the yuan risks a new round of competitive easing that may send currencies from Brazil’s real to Indonesia’s rupiah tumbling by an average 30 percent to 50 percent in the next nine months, according to investor and former International Monetary Fund economist Stephen Jen.
Volatility measures were already signaling rising distress in emerging markets even before China’s shock move. An index of anticipated price swings climbed above a rich-world gauge at the end of July, reversing the trend seen for most of the past six months.
The surging U.S. dollar combined with crashing prices for commodity exports has already created a state of crisis in South America. If emerging markets such as Brazil are forced to devalue their currencies to stay competitive with nations such as China, that is going to just exacerbate the problems.
For a long time, things in the financial world were pretty quiet.
Did you see what just happened? The devaluation of the yuan by China triggered the largest one day drop for that currency in the modern era. This caused other global currencies to crash relative to the U.S. dollar, the price of oil hit a six year low, and stock markets all over the world were rattled. The Dow fell 212 points on Tuesday, and Apple stock plummeted another 5 percent. As we hurtle toward the absolutely critical months of September and October, the unraveling of the global financial system is beginning to accelerate. At this point, it is not going to take very much to push us into a full-blown worldwide financial crisis. The following are 12 signs that indicate that a global financial crash has become even more likely after the events of the past few days…
#1 The devaluation of the yuan on Tuesday took virtually the entire planet by surprise (and not in a good way). The following comes from Reuters…
China’s 2 percent devaluation of the yuan on Tuesday pushed the U.S. dollar higher and hit Wall Street and other global equity markets as it raised fears of a new round of currency wars and fed worries about slowing Chinese economic growth.
#2 One of the big reasons why China devalued the yuan was to try to boost exports. China’s exports declined 8.3 percent in July, and global trade overall is falling at a pace that we haven’t seen since the last recession.
#3 Now that the Chinese have devalued their currency, other nations that rely on exports are indicating that they might do the same thing. If you scan the big financial news sites, it seems like the term “currency war” is now being bandied about quite a bit.
#4 This is the very first time that the 50 day moving average for the Dow has moved below the 200 day moving average in the last four years. This is known as a “death cross”, and it is a very troubling sign. We are just about at the point where all of the most common technical signals that investors typically use to make investment decisions will be screaming “sell”.
#5 The price of oil just closed at a brand new six year low. When the price of oil started to decline back in late 2014, a whole lot of people were proclaiming that this would be a good thing for the U.S. economy. Now we can see just how wrong they were.
At this point, the price of oil has already fallen to a level that is going to be absolutely nightmarish for the global economy if it stays here. Just consider what Jeff Gundlach had to say about this in December…
And back in December 2014, “Bond King” Jeff Gundlach had a serious warning for the world if oil prices got to $40 a barrel.
“I hope it does not go to $40,” Gundlach said in a presentation, “because then something is very, very wrong with the world, not just the economy. The geopolitical consequences could be — to put it bluntly — terrifying.”
#6 This week we learned that OPEC has been pumping more oil than we thought, and it is being projected that this could cause the price of oil to plunge into the 30s…
Increased pumping by OPEC as Chinese demand appears to be slackening could drive oil to the lowest prices since the peak of the financial crisis.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures skidded through the year’s lows and looked set to break into the $30s-per-barrel range after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries admitted to more pumping and China devalued its currency, sending ripples through global markets.
#7 In a recent article, I explained that the collapse in commodity prices that we are witnessing right now is eerily similar to what we witnessed just before the stock market crash of 2008. On Tuesday, things got even worse for commodities as the price of copper closed at a brand new six year low.
#9 Just before the financial crisis of 2008, a surging U.S. dollar put an extraordinary amount of stress on emerging markets. Now that is happening again. Emerging market stocks just hit a brand new four year low on Tuesday thanks to the stunt that China just pulled.
#10 Things are not so great in the United States either. The ratio of wholesale inventories to sales in the United States just hit the highest level since the last recession. What that means is that there is a whole lot of stuff sitting in warehouses out there that is waiting to be sold in an economy that is rapidly slowing down.
#11 Speaking of slowing down, the growth of consumer spending in the United States has just plummeted to multi-year lows.
#12 Deep inside, most of us can feel what is coming. According to Gallup, the number of Americans that believe that the economy is getting worse is almost 50 percent higher than the number of Americans that believe that the economy is getting better.
Things are lining up perfectly for a global financial crisis and a major recession beginning in the fall and winter of 2015.
But just because things look like they will happen a certain way does not necessarily mean that they will. All it takes is a single “event” of some sort to change everything.
So what do you believe will happen in the months ahead?
Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…
Can you feel the panic in the air? CNN Money’s Fear & Greed Index measures the amount of fear in the financial world on a scale from 0 to 100. The closer it is to zero, the higher the level of fear. Last Monday, the index was sitting at a reading of 36. As I write this article, it has fallen to 7. The financial turmoil which began last week is threatening to turn into an avalanche. On Sunday night, we witnessed the second largest one day stock market collapse in China ever, and this pushed stocks all over the planet into the red. Meanwhile, the twin blades of an emerging market currency crisis and a commodity price crash are chewing up economies that are dependent on the export of natural resources all over the globe. For a long time, I have been warning about what would happen in the second half of 2015, and now it is here. The following is a summary of the financial carnage that we have seen over the past 24 hours…
-On Sunday night, the Shanghai Composite Index plunged 8.5 percent. It was the largest one day stock market crash in China since 2007, and it was the second largest in history. The Chinese government is promising to directly intervene in order to prevent Chinese stocks from going down even more.
-Over 1,500 stocks in China fell by their 10 percent daily maximum. This list includes giants such as China Unicom, Bank of Communications and PetroChina.
-Ever since peaking in June, the Shanghai Composite Index has dropped by a total of 28 percent.
-Even Chinese stocks that are listed on U.S. stock exchanges are being absolutely hammered. The following comes from USA Today…
The 144 China-based stocks with primary listings on major U.S. exchanges have erased nearly $40 billion in paper wealth since the Shanghai Composite index peaked on June 12. It’s an enormous destruction of wealth that in effects wipes out the market value of a company the size of cruise ship operator Carnival.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally closed 2.1 percent lower, while the Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC closed respectively 2.4 percent and 2.5 percent lower.
The U.K.’s benchmark FTSE outperformed its euro zone peers, but still closed unofficially down 1.0 percent.
-Overall, European stocks have been falling steadily since the beginning of last week. To get an idea of how much damage has been done already, just check out this chart.
-As I mentioned above, an emerging market currency crisis is causing havoc for economies all over the planet. The following comes from an article that was published by the Telegraph…
The currencies of Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey have all crashed to multi-year lows as investors flee emerging markets and commodity prices crumble.
The drastic moves came as fears of imminent monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve combined with shockingly weak figures from China, which stoked fears that the country may be sliding into a deeper downturn and sent tremors through East Asia, Latin America and Africa.
-The government of Puerto Rico has announced that it does not have enough cash to make a scheduled debt payment of 169 million dollars on August 1st. The Obama administration says that there are no plans in the works to bail out Puerto Rico.
-On Monday, the Dow was down another 127 points. It was the fifth day in a row that the Dow and the S&P 500 have both declined.
-Overall, the Dow is now down more than 650 points since July 20th.
-480 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange have hit new 52-week lows. Many analysts consider this to be a very, very ominous sign.
-On Monday, the price of U.S. oil hit a 52-week low of $46.92.
-So far, the price of U.S. oil has fallen about 20 percent this month.
-Back in June 2014, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude was above 107 dollars. Since then, the price of U.S. oil has fallen an astounding 56 percent.
-Thanks in large part to the collapse in energy prices, junk bonds are cratering. This is something that happened just before the financial crisis of 2008, and now it is happening again. The following comes from Wolf Street…
Among the bonds: Cliffs Natural Resources down 27.6%, SandBridge down 30%, Murray Energy down 21.2%, and Linn Energy down 22.3%, according to Bloomberg.
For example, Linn Energy 6.25% notes due in 2019 were trading at 78 cents on the dollar at the beginning of July and at 58 on Friday, according to LCD. There was bloodshed beyond energy, such as AK Steel’s 7.625% notes due in 2021. They were trading at 62 cents on the dollar, down 22% from the beginning of July.
“The performance is a disappointment to investors who purchased about $40 billion of junk-rated bonds from energy companies this year, thinking that the worst of the slump was over,” Bloomberg noted.
This is exactly what we would expect to see during the early stages of a financial crisis.
Of course global financial markets may bounce back somewhat tomorrow. If you will remember, some of the largest one day gains in stock market history happened right in the middle of the stock market collapse of 2008. So don’t get fooled by what happens on any one particular day.
With so much fear in the air, literally anything could happen in the weeks and months ahead of us. One month ago, I issued a red alert for the last six months of this year. I warned that a major financial crisis was imminent and that people needed to start protecting themselves immediately.
As I write this article on Monday evening, financial markets are already opening up over in Asia. Japanese stocks are already down 251 points even though the market has only been open for about an hour over there.
We have entered a time when what is happening to global stock markets will once again be headline news. We are right on the precipice of another great financial crisis, only this one is going to ultimately end up being much worse than the last one.
The Chinese do not plan to live in a world dominated by the U.S. dollar for much longer. Chinese leaders have been calling for the U.S. dollar to be replaced as the primary global reserve currency for a long time, but up until now they have never been very specific about what they would put in place of it. Many have assumed that the Chinese simply wanted some new international currency to be created. But what if that is not what the Chinese had in mind? What if they have always wanted their own currency to become the single most dominant currency on the entire planet? What you are about to see is rather startling, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. When it comes to economics and finance, the Chinese have always been playing chess while the western world has been playing checkers. Sadly, we have gotten to the point where checkmate is on the horizon.
On Wednesday, I came across an excellent article by Simon Black. What he had to say in that article just about floored me…
When I arrived to Bangkok the other day, coming down the motorway from the airport I saw a huge billboard—and it floored me.
The billboard was from the Bank of China. It said: “RMB: New Choice; The World Currency”
Given that the Bank of China is more than 70% owned by the government of the People’s Republic of China, I find this very significant.
It means that China is literally advertising its currency overseas, and it’s making sure that everyone landing at one of the world’s busiest airports sees it. They know that the future belongs to them and they’re flaunting it.
This is the photograph of that billboard that he posted with his article…
Everyone knows that China is rising.
And most everyone has assumed that Chinese currency would soon play a larger role in international trade.
But things have moved so rapidly in recent years that now a very large chunk of the financial world actually expects the renminbi to replace the dollar as the primary reserve currency of the planet someday. The following comes from CNBC…
The tightly controlled Chinese yuan will eventually supersede the dollar as the top international reserve currency, according to a new poll of institutional investors.
The survey of 200 institutional investors – 100 headquartered in mainland China and 100 outside of it – published by State Street and the Economist Intelligence Unit on Thursday found 53 percent of investors think the renminbi will surpass the U.S. dollar as the world’s major reserve currency.
Optimism was higher within China, where 62 percent said they saw a redback world on the horizon, compared with 43 percent outside China.
And without a doubt we are starting to see the beginnings of a significant shift.
China’s yuan broke into the top five as a world payment currency in November, overtaking the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar, global transaction services organization SWIFT said on Wednesday.
The U.S. dollar won’t be replaced overnight, but things are changing.
Of course the truth is that the Chinese have been preparing for this for a very long time. The Chinese refuse to tell the rest of the world exactly how much gold they have, but everyone knows that they have been accumulating enormous amounts of it. And even if they don’t explicitly back the renminbi with gold, the massive gold reserves that China is accumulating will still give the rest of the planet a great deal of confidence in Chinese currency.
But don’t just take my word for it. Consider what Alan Greenspan has had to say on the matter…
Alan Greenspan, who served at the helm of the Federal Reserve for nearly two decades, recently penned an op-ed for the Council on Foreign Relations discussing gold and its possible role in China, the world’s second-largest economy. He notes that if China converted only a “relatively modest part of its $4 trillion foreign exchange reserves into gold, the country’s currency could take on unexpected strength in today’s international financial system.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese have also been accumulating a tremendous amount of U.S. debt. At this point, the Chinese own approximately 1.3 trillion dollars worth of our debt, and that gives them a lot of power over our currency and over our financial system.
Someday if the Chinese wanted to undermine confidence in the U.S. dollar and in the U.S. financial system, they have a lot of ammunition at their disposal.
And it isn’t just all of that debt that gives China leverage. In recent years, the Chinese have been buying up real estate, businesses and energy assets all over the United States at a staggering pace. For a small taste of what has been taking place, check out the YouTube video posted below…
For much, much more on this trend, please see the following articles…
On a purchasing power basis, the size of the Chinese economy has already surpassed the size of the U.S. economy.
And there are lots of signs of trouble ahead for the U.S. economy at this point. I like how Brandon Smith put it in one recent article…
We are only two months into 2015, and it has already proven to be the most volatile year for the economic environment since 2008-2009. We have seen oil markets collapsing by about 50 percent in the span of a few months (just as the Federal Reserve announced the end of QE3, indicating fiat money was used to hide falling demand), the Baltic Dry Index losing 30 percent since the beginning of the year, the Swiss currency surprise, the Greeks threatening EU exit (and now Greek citizens threatening violent protests with the new four-month can-kicking deal), and the effects of the nine-month-long West Coast port strike not yet quantified. This is not just a fleeting expression of a negative first quarter; it is a sign of things to come.
In addition, things continue to look quite bleak for Europe. Once upon a time, many expected the euro to overtake the U.S. dollar as the primary global reserve currency, but that didn’t happen. And in recent months the euro has been absolutely crashing. On Wednesday, it hit the lowest point that we have seen against the dollar in more than a decade…
The euro last stood at $1.1072, off 0.90 percent for the day and below a key support level, Sutton said. It fell to as little as $1.1066, which was the lowest level for the euro against the dollar since September 2003, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The euro also declined to one-month lows against the Japanese yen, which was flat against the dollar at 119.72 yen to the dollar.
As the U.S. and Europe continue to struggle, China is going to want a significantly larger role on the global stage.
And as the billboard in Thailand suggests, they are more than willing to step up to the plate.
So will the road to the future be paved with Chinese currency? Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
This is the month when the future of the eurozone will be decided. This week, Greek leaders will meet with European officials to discuss what comes next for Greece. The new prime minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, has already stated that he will not accept an extension of the current bailout. Officials from other eurozone countries have already said that they expect Greece to fully honor the terms of the current agreement. So basically we are watching a giant game of financial “chicken” play out over in Europe, and a showdown is looming. Adding to the drama is the fact that the Greek government is rapidly running out of money. According to the Wall Street Journal, Greece is “on course to run out of money within weeks if it doesn’t gain access to additional funds, effectively daring Germany and its other European creditors to let it fail and stumble out of the euro.” We have witnessed other moments of crisis for Greece before, but things are very different this time because the new Greek government is being run by radical leftists that based their entire campaign on ending the austerity that has been imposed on Greece by the rest of Europe. If they buckle under the demands of the European financial lords, their credibility will be gone and Syriza will essentially be finished in Greek politics. But if they don’t compromise, Greece could be forced to leave the eurozone and we could potentially be facing the equivalent of “financial armageddon” in Europe. If nobody flinches, the eurozone will fall to pieces, the euro will collapse and trillions upon trillions of dollars in derivatives will be in jeopardy.
According to the Bank for International Settlements, 26.45 trillion dollars in currency derivatives are directly tied to the value of the euro.
Let that number sink in for a moment.
To give you some perspective, keep in mind that the U.S. government spends a total of less than 4 trillion dollars a year.
So 26 trillion dollars is an amount of money that is almost unimaginable. And of course those are just the derivatives that are directly tied to the euro. Overall, the total global derivatives bubble is more than 700 trillion dollars in size.
Over the past couple of decades, the global financial system has been transformed into the biggest casino in the history of the planet. And when things are stable, the computer algorithms used by the big banks work quite well and they make enormous amounts of money. But when unexpected things happen and markets go haywire, the financial institutions that gamble on derivatives can lose massive quantities of money very rapidly. We saw this in 2008, and we could be on the verge of seeing this happen again.
If no agreement can be reached and Greece does leave the eurozone, the euro is going to fall off a cliff.
When that happens, someone out there is going to lose an extraordinary amount of money.
And just like in 2008, when the big financial institutions start to fail that will plunge the entire planet into another major financial crisis.
So at the moment, it is absolutely imperative that Greece and the rest of the eurozone find some common ground.
Greece’s new leftist prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, said on Sunday he would not accept an extension to Greece’s current bailout, setting up a clash with EU leaders – who want him to do just that – at a summit on Thursday.
Tsipras also pledged his government would heal the “wounds” of austerity, sticking to campaign pledges of giving free food and electricity to those who had suffered, and reinstating civil servants who had been fired as part of bailout austerity conditions.
Prior to the summit on Thursday, eurozone finance ministers are going to get together on Wednesday to discuss what they should do. If these two meetings don’t go well this week, we could be looking at big trouble right around the corner. In fact, Greece is being warned that they only have until February 16th to apply for an extension of the current bailout…
Euro zone finance ministers will discuss how to proceed with financial support for Athens at a special session next Wednesday ahead of the first summit of EU leaders with the new Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, the following day.
However, the chairman of the finance ministers said the following meeting of the Eurogroup on Feb. 16 would be Greece’s last chance to apply for a bailout extension because some euro zone countries would need to consult their parliaments.
“Time will become very short if they (Greece) don’t ask for an extension (by then),” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
The current bailout for Greece expires on Feb 28. Without it the country will not get financing or debt relief from its lenders and has little hope of financing itself in the markets.
And as I mentioned above, the Greek government is quickly running out of money.
Most analysts believe that because of the enormous stakes that one side or the other will give in at some point.
But what if that does not happen?
Personally, I believe that the eurozone is doomed in the configuration that we see it today, and that it is just a matter of time before it breaks up.
And I am far from alone. For example, just check out what former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan is saying…
Mr Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, said: “I believe [Greece] will eventually leave. I don’t think it helps them or the rest of the eurozone – it is just a matter of time before everyone recognizes that parting is the best strategy.
“The problem is that there there is no way that I can conceive of the euro of continuing, unless and until all of the members of eurozone become politically integrated – actually even just fiscally integrated won’t do it.”
The Greeks are using all of this to their advantage. They know that if they leave it could break apart the entire monetary union. So this gives them a tremendous amount of leverage. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has even gone so far as to compare the eurozone to a house of cards…
“The euro is fragile, it’s like building a castle of cards, if you take out the Greek card the others will collapse.” Varoufakis said according to an Italian transcript of the interview released by RAI ahead of broadcast.
The euro zone faces a risk of fragmentation and “de-construction” unless it faces up to the fact that Greece, and not only Greece, is unable to pay back its debt under the current terms, Varoufakis said.
“I would warn anyone who is considering strategically amputating Greece from Europe because this is very dangerous,” he said. “Who will be next after us? Portugal? What will happen when Italy discovers it is impossible to remain inside the straitjacket of austerity?”
After all this time and after so many bailouts, we have finally reached a day of reckoning.
There is a very real possibility that Greece could leave the eurozone in just a matter of months, and the elite know this.
The U.K. government is stepping up contingency planning to prepare for a possible Greek exit from the eurozone and the market instability such a move would create, U.K. Treasury chief George Osborne said on Sunday.
A spokeswoman for the Treasury declined comment on the details of the contingency planning.
The U.K. government has said the standoff between Greece’s new anti-austerity government and the eurozone is increasing the risks to the global and U.K. economy.
“That’s why I’m going tomorrow to the G-20 [Group of 20] to encourage our partners to resolve this crisis. It’s why we’re stepping up the contingency planning here at home,” Mr. Osborne told the BBC in an interview. “We have got to make sure we don’t, at this critical time when Britain is also facing a critical choice, add to the instability abroad with instability at home.”
And if Greece does leave, it will cause panic throughout global financial markets as everyone wonders who is next.
Italy, Spain and Portugal are all in a similar position. Every one of them could rapidly become “the next Greece”.
But of even greater concern is what a “Grexit” would do to the euro. If the euro falls below parity with the U.S. dollar, the derivatives losses are going to be absolutely mind blowing. And coupled with the collapse of the price of oil, we could be looking at some extreme financial instability in the not too distant future.
When big banks collapse, they don’t do it overnight. But we often learn about it in a single moment.
Just remember Lehman Brothers. Their problems developed over an extended period of time, but we only learned the full extent of their difficulties on one very disturbing day in 2008, and that day changed the world.
As you read this, big financial troubles are brewing in the background. At some point, they are going to come to the surface. When they do, the entire planet is going to be shocked.
The absolutely stunning decision by the Swiss National Bank to decouple from the euro has triggered billions of dollars worth of losses all over the globe. Citigroup and Deutsche Bank both say that their losses were somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 million dollars, a major hedge fund that had 830 million dollars in assets at the end of December has been forced to shut down, and several major global currency trading firms have announced that they are now insolvent. And these are just the losses that we know about so far. It will be many months before the full scope of the financial devastation caused by the Swiss National Bank is fully revealed. But of course the same thing could be said about the crash in the price of oil that we have witnessed in recent weeks. These two “black swan events” have set financial dominoes in motion all over the globe. At this point we can only guess how bad the financial devastation will ultimately be.
But everyone agrees that it will be bad. For example, one financial expert at Boston University says that he believes the losses caused by the Swiss National Bank decision will be in the billions of dollars…
“The losses will be in the billions — they are still being tallied,” said Mark T. Williams, an executive-in-residence at Boston University specializing in risk management. “They will range from large banks, brokers, hedge funds, mutual funds to currency speculators. There will be ripple effects throughout the financial system.”
Citigroup, the world’s biggest currencies dealer, lost more than $150 million at its trading desks, a person with knowledge of the matter said last week. Deutsche Bank lost $150 million and Barclays less than $100 million, people familiar with the events said, after the Swiss National Bank scrapped a three-year-old policy of capping its currency against the euro and the franc soared as much as 41 percent that day versus the euro. Spokesmen for the three banks declined to comment.
And actually, if the total losses from this crisis are only limited to the “billions” I think that we will be extremely fortunate.
As I mentioned above, a hedge fund that had 830 million dollars in assets at the end of December just completely imploded. Everest Capital’s Global Fund had heavily bet against the Swiss franc, and as a result it now has lost “virtually all its money”…
Marko Dimitrijevic, the hedge fund manager who survived at least five emerging market debt crises, is closing his largest hedge fund after losing virtually all its money this week when the Swiss National Bank unexpectedly let the franc trade freely against the euro, according to a person familiar with the firm.
Everest Capital’s Global Fund had about $830 million in assets as of the end of December, according to a client report. The Miami-based firm, which specializes in emerging markets, still manages seven funds with about $2.2 billion in assets. The global fund, the firm’s oldest, was betting the Swiss franc would decline, said the person, who asked not to be named because the information is private.
This is how fast things can move in the financial marketplace when things start getting crazy.
It can seem like you are on top of the world one day, but just a short while later you can be filing for bankruptcy.
Consider what just happened to FXCM. It is one of the largest retail currency trading firms on the entire planet, and the decision by the Swiss National Bank instantly created a 200 million dollar hole in the company that desperately needed to be filled…
The magnitude of the crisis for U.S. currency traders became clear Friday when New York-based FXCM, a publicly traded U.S. currency broker, and the largest so far to announce it was in financial trouble after suffering a 90-percent drop in the firm’s stock price, reported the firm would need a $200-$300 million bailout to prevent capital requirements from being breached. Highly leveraged currency traders, including retail customers, were unable to come up with sufficient capital to cover the losses suffered in their currency trading accounts when the Swiss franc surged.
Currency traders worldwide allowed to leverage their accounts 100:1, meaning the customer can bet $100 in the currency exchange markets for every $1.00 the customer has on deposit in its account, can result in huge gains from unexpected currency price fluctuations or massive and devastating losses, should the customer bet wrong.
Fortunately for FXCM, another company called Leucadia came riding to the rescue with a 300 million dollar loan.
But other currency trading firms were not so lucky.
For example, Alpari has already announced that it is going into insolvency…
Retail broker Alpari UK filed for insolvency on Friday.
The move “caused by the SNB’s unexpected policy reversal of capping the Swiss franc against the euro has resulted in exceptional volatility and extreme lack of liquidity,” Alpari, the shirt sponsor of English Premier League soccer club West Ham, said in a statement.
“This has resulted in the majority of clients sustaining losses which exceeded their account equity. Where a client cannot cover this loss, it is passed on to us. This has forced Alpari (UK) Limited to confirm that it has entered into insolvency.”
And Alpari is far from alone. Quite a few other smaller currency trading firms all over the world are in the exact same boat.
Unfortunately, this could potentially just be the beginning of the currency chaos.
All eyes are on the European Central Bank right now. If a major round of quantitative easing is announced, that could unleash yet another wave of crippling losses for financial institutions. The following is from a recent CNBC article…
One of Europe’s most influential economists has warned that the quantitative easing measures seen being unveiled by the European Central Bank (ECB) this week could create deep market volatility, akin to what was seen after the Swiss National Bank abandoned its currency peg.
“There was so much capital flight in anticipation of the QE to Switzerland, that the Swiss central bank was unable to stem the tide, and there will be more effects of that sort,” the President of Germany’s Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Hans-Werner Sinn, told CNBC on Monday.
As I have written about previously, we are moving into a time of greatly increased financial volatility. And when we start to see tremendous ups and downs in the financial world, that is a sign that a great crash is coming. We witnessed this prior to the financial crisis of 2008, and now we are watching it happen again.
And this is not just happening in the United States. Just check out what happened in China on Monday…
Chinese shares plunged about 8% Monday after the country’s securities regulator imposed margin trading curbs on several major brokerages, a sign that authorities are trying to rein in the market’s big gains. It was China’s largest drop in six years.
Sadly, most Americans have absolutely no idea what is coming.
They just trust that Barack Obama, Congress and the “experts” at the Federal Reserve have it all figured out.
So when the next great financial crisis does arrive, most people are going to be absolutely blindsided by it, even though anyone that is willing to look at the facts honestly should be able to see it steamrolling directly toward us.
Over the past couple of years, we have been blessed to experience a period of relative stability.
But that period of relative stability is now ending.
I hope that you are getting ready for what comes next.
Central banks lie. That is what they do. Not too long ago, the Swiss National Bank promised that it would defend the euro/Swiss franc currency peg with the “utmost determination”. But on Thursday, the central bank shocked the financial world by abruptly abandoning it. More than three years ago, the Swiss National Bank announced that it would not allow the Swiss franc to fall below 1.20 to the euro, and it has spent a mountain of money defending that peg. But now that it looks like the EU is going to launch a very robust quantitative easing program, the Swiss National Bank has thrown in the towel. It was simply going to cost way too much to continue to defend the currency floor. So now there is panic all over Europe. On Thursday, the Swiss franc rose a staggering 30 percent against the euro, and the Swiss stock market plunged by 10 percent. And all over the world, investors, hedge funds and central banks either lost or made gigantic piles of money as currency rates shifted at an unprecedented rate. It is going to take months to really measure the damage that has been done. Meanwhile, the euro is in greater danger than ever. The euro has been declining for months, and now the number one buyer of euros (the Swiss National Bank) has been removed from the equation. As things in Europe continue to get even worse, expect the euro to go to all-time record lows. In addition, it is important to remember that the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s began when Thailand abandoned its currency peg. With this move by Switzerland set off a European financial crisis?
Of course this is hardly the first time that we have seen central banks lie. In the United States, the Federal Reserve does it all the time. The funny thing is that most people still seem to trust what central banks have to say. But at some point they are going to start to lose all credibility.
Financial markets like predictability. And gigantic amounts of money had been invested based on the repeated promises of the Swiss National Bank to use “unlimited amounts” of money to defend the currency floor. Needless to say, there are a lot of people in the financial world that feel totally betrayed by the Swiss National Bank today. The following comes from an analysis of the situation by Bruce Krasting…
Thomas Jordan, the head of the SNB has repeated said that the Franc peg would last forever, and that he would be willing to intervene in “Unlimited Amounts” in support of the peg. Jordan has folded on his promise like a cheap suit in the rain. When push came to shove, Jordan failed to deliver.
The Swiss economy will rapidly fall into recession as a result of the SNB move. The Swiss stock market has been blasted, the currency is now nearly 20% higher than it was a day before. Someone will have to fall on the sword, the arrows are pointing at Jordan.
The dust has not settled on this development as of this morning. I will stick my neck out and say that the failure to hold the minimum rate will result in a one time loss for the SNB of close to $100B. That’s a huge amount of money. It comes to 20% of the Swiss GDP!
Most experts are calling this an extremely bad move by the Swiss National Bank.
But in the end, they may have had little choice.
The euro is falling apart, and the Swiss did not want to be married to it any longer. Unfortunately, when any marriage ends the pain can be enormous. The following comes from CNBC…
How do you know you’re looking at a bad marriage?
Well if one or both of the spouses can’t wait to get out as soon as the smallest crack in the door opens, you have a pretty good clue.
Something like that just happened in Europe as we learned the real reason why so many traders were still invested in the euro: They had nowhere else to go.
As the Swiss National Bank unlocked the doors on its cap on trading euros for Swiss francs, the rush to exit the euro was faster than one of those French bullet trains.
But this move has not been bad for everyone. In fact, for many of those that live in Switzerland but work in neighboring countries what happened on Thursday was very fortuitous…
“I heard the news this morning. I’m so happy!” Vanessa, who refused to give her last name, told AFP outside of one of many mobbed exchange offices in Geneva.
She has reason to be extatic: she is one of some 280,000 people working in Switzerland but living and paying bills in eurozone countries France, Germany or Italy.
These so-called “frontaliers”, or border-crossers, are the biggest winners in Thursday’s Swiss franc surge, seeing their incomes jump 30 percent in the blink of an eye.
In normal times, things like this very rarely happen.
This move by the Swiss National Bank is just the beginning. Expect more desperate moves on the global economic chessboard in the days ahead. But in the end, none of those moves is going to prevent what is coming.
And one of these days, another extremely important currency peg is going to end. Right now, the Chinese have tied their currency very tightly to the U.S. dollar. This has helped to artificially inflate the value of the dollar. Unfortunately, as Robert Wenzel has noted, someday the Chinese could suddenly pull the rug out from under our currency, and that would be really bad news for us…
In other words, the SNB is no People’s Bank of China type patsy, where the PBOC has taken on massive amounts of dollar reserves to prop up the dollar.
Will the PBOC learn anything from SNB? If so, this will not be good for the US dollar.
So keep a close eye on what happens in Europe next.
It is going to be a preview of what is eventually coming to America.