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The Next Stock Market Crash Will Be Blamed On Donald Trump But It Will Be The Federal Reserve’s Fault Instead

A stock market crash is coming, and the Democrats and the mainstream media are going to blame Donald Trump for it even though it won’t be his fault.  The truth is that we were headed for a major financial crisis no matter who won the election.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up a staggering 230 percent since the lows of 2009, and no stock market rally in our history has ever reached the 10 year mark without at least a 20 percent downturn.  At this point stocks are about as overvalued as they have ever been, and every other time we have seen a bubble of this magnitude a historic stock market crash has always followed.  Those that are hoping that this time will somehow be different are simply being delusional.

Since November 7th, the Dow is up by about 3,000 points.  That is an extremely impressive rally, and President Trump has been taking a great deal of credit for it.

But perhaps he should not have been so eager to take credit, because what goes up must come down.  The following is an excerpt from a recent Vanity Fair article

According to Douglas Ramsay, chief investment officer of the Leuthold Group, Trump administration officials will come to regret gloating about the market’s performance. That’s because Trump enters the White House during one of the most richly valued stock markets in U.S. history. The last president to come in at such valuations was George W. Bush, and the dot-com bubble burst soon afterward. Bill Clinton began his second term in a more overvalued stock market in 1997, and exited unscathed. But if his timing were different by just a year, he would have been blamed for the early-aughts market crash.

This stock market bubble was not primarily created by Barack Obama, Donald Trump or any other politician.  Rather, the Federal Reserve was primarily responsible for creating it by pushing interest rates all the way to the floor during the Obama era and by flooding the financial system with hot money during several stages of quantitative easing.

But now the economy is slowing down.  Economic growth on an annual basis was just 0.7 percent during the first quarter, and yet the Federal Reserve is talking about raising interest rates anyway.

The Federal Reserve also raised interest rates in a slowing economy in the late 1930s, and that had the effect of significantly extending the economic problems during that decade.

As I noted in my article entitled “The Federal Reserve Must Go”, there have been 18 recessions or depressions since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, and now we stand on the precipice of another one.

After this next crisis, hopefully Congress will finally understand that it is time to shut the Federal Reserve down for good, and I am going to do all that I can to make that happen.

Ron Paul is someone that I look up to greatly, and he also agrees that the blame for the coming crisis should be placed on the Federal Reserve instead of on Trump…

“There are some dire predictions that say in the next year, or 18 months, we have something arriving worse than 2008 and 2009, the downturn is much worse,” Paul said in a recent interview with liberty-minded anti-globalist radio host Alex Jones. “They’ll say, ah, it’s all Trump’s fault. No. It wasn’t. 08 and 09 wasn’t Obama’s fault. It was the fault of the Federal Reserve, it was the fault of the Keynesian economic model, the spending too much, the deficit. So, unfortunately, there’s nothing he can do — Trump can’t do it.”

Paul, a medical doctor who took a keen interest in economics throughout his celebrated career as a constitutionalist in Congress, said Trump could “help” the situation by pursuing good policies. “But you can’t avoid the correction, the correction is locked in place, because the deficits are there, the malinvestment, everybody agrees interest rates have been too low too long,” he said in the late January interview. “The only thing he can do is allow the recession to come, get it over with, liquidate the debt. Politically, nobody wants that, so you’re going to see runaway inflation before you see this country wake up.”

Over the past decade, the U.S. economy has grown at an average rate of just 1.33 percent, and there is no possible way to put a positive spin on that.

And now the economy appears to be entering a fresh slowdown.  A couple of months ago, banking giant UBS warned about “a sudden slowdown in new credit”

There’s been a sudden slowdown in new credit extended to businesses over the last year, one that strategists at UBS are calling “drastic” and “highly uncommon outside of economic downturns.”

And since that time, lending has tightened up even more.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

According to the latest Fed data [7], the all-important C&I loan growth contraction has not only continued, but over the past two months, another 50% has been chopped off, and what in early March was a 4.0% annual growth [4]is now barely positive, down to just 2.0%, and set to turn negative in just a few weeks. This was the lowest growth rate since May 2011, right around the time the Fed was about to launch QE2.

At the same time, total loan growth has likewise continued to decline, and as of the second week of May was down to 3.8%, the weakest overall loan creation in three years.

This is exactly what we would expect to see if we were entering a new recession.  Neil Howe, one of the authors of The Fourth Turning, recently warned that “winter is coming” and I have to admit that I agree with him.

So when the stock market finally crashes, how bad could it be?

Well, one analyst that spoke to CNBC said that other historic market crashes have averaged “about 42 percent”…

“If you look at the market historically, we have had, on average, a crash about every eight to 10 years, and essentially the average loss is about 42 percent,” said Kendrick Wakeman, CEO of financial technology and investment analytics firm FinMason.

And as I have explained many times in the past, stocks would have to fall about 40 to 50 percent from current levels just for the stock market to get back to “normal” again.  The valuations that we are seeing today are absolutely insane, and there is no possible way that they are sustainable.

When the crash happens, many people will be pointing their fingers at Trump, but it won’t be his fault.

Instead, it will be the Federal Reserve that will be at fault, and hopefully this coming crisis will convince the American people that it is time to end this insidious debt-based central bank for good.

Free Money: Potential Presidential Candidate Mark Zuckerberg Suggests That All Americans Should Get A ‘Universal Basic Income’

Should everyone in America receive a “basic income” directly from the federal government?  Considering the fact that we are already 20 trillion dollars in debt, such a concept may sound quite foolish to many of you, but this is an idea that is really starting to gain traction in leftist circles.  In fact, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested that this was something that we should “explore” during the commencement speech that he just delivered at Harvard.  For quite a while it has been obvious that Zuckerberg is very strongly considering a run for the presidency in 2020, but up until just recently we haven’t had many clues about where he would stand on particular issues.  If he is serious about proposing a universal basic income for all Americans, that would make Zuckerberg very appealing to the far left voters that flocked to the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Yesterday, I discussed the fact that the number of Americans that are receiving money from the government each month has reached an all-time high, but Zuckerberg would take things much farther.  According to Zuckerberg, society would be far better off if everyone got an income from the government

“Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract,” Zuckerberg said during his speech. “We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”

Zuckerberg said that, because he knew he had a safety net if projects like Facebook had failed, he was confident enough to continue on without fear of failing. Others, he said, such as children who need to support households instead of poking away on computers learning how to code, don’t have the foundation Zuckerberg had. Universal basic income would provide that sort of cushion, Zuckerberg argued.

Such a proposal is going to look really good to a lot of people at first glance.

But who is going to pay for this?

Of course the truth is that the money for the people that are not working would come from taxing the people that are working.

I don’t think that Zuckerberg has really thought this through.  Are young people going to have an incentive to work if they can just stay home and watch movies and play video games all day while collecting their “universal basic incomes” from the government?

And why would anyone want to bust their rear ends working for a living when their incomes are just going to be taxed extremely heavily to pay for all the people that aren’t working?

We are already 20 trillion dollars in debt, but politicians on the left just want to keep giving even more free stuff to people.  During his presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders suggested that everyone in America “deserves a minimum standard of living” and that every citizen is “entitled” to universal health care, free college education and basic housing…

So long as you have Republicans in control of the House and the Senate, and so long as you have a Congress dominated by big money, I can guarantee you that the discussion about universal basic income is going to go nowhere in a hurry. But, if we can develop a strong grassroots movement which says that every man, woman and child in this country is entitled to a minimum standard of living — is entitled to health care, is entitled to education, is entitled to housing — then we can succeed. We are living in the richest country in the history of the world, yet we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country and millions of people are struggling to put food on the table. It is my absolute conviction that everyone in this country deserves a minimum standard of living and we’ve got to go forward in the fight to make that happen.

In previous generations, very few people would have ever taken someone like Bernie Sanders seriously.

But in our day and time socialism is really starting to catch on.  In fact, one survey found “that four out of every ten adults say they prefer socialism to capitalism”

The American Culture and Faith Institute recently conducted a survey of adults 18 and older. It shows not only how deeply divided Americans are on some issues but also how their view of the nation stands in many cases in stark contrast to our nation’s founding principles. Most Americans (58 percent) see themselves as politically moderate, while a quarter identify as conservative, and 17 percent as liberal. Those who were both socially and fiscally conservative, the group tracked by the ACFI in greatest detail, were 6 percent of the population.

But those differences don’t reveal the greatest divide and danger to America’s future. “The most alarming result, according to [George] Barna, was that four out of every ten adults say they prefer socialism to capitalism,” the ACFI noted in its commentary on the poll. “That is a large minority,” Barna said, “and it includes a majority of the liberals — who will be pushing for a completely different economic model to dominate our nation. That is the stuff of civil wars. It ought to set off alarm bells among more traditionally-oriented leaders across the nation.’” That 40 percent of Americans now prefer socialism to capitalism could spell major change to the policies advanced by legislators and political leaders and to the interpretations of judges ruling on the application of new and pre-existing laws.

And as I noted yesterday, Millennials are particularly attracted to socialism.  This could have dramatic implications for our society as older generations of Americans slowly die off.

Unfortunately, there is just one huge problem with socialism.

It doesn’t work.

If you want to see the end result of socialism, just move to Venezuela or North Korea for a while.

In socialist nations, there is very little incentive to work hard.  Instead, people tend to become very lazy and expect the government to provide everything that they need.

When people work hard and are productive, the overall wealth of a society goes up.  And when people sit around and wait for someone else to provide for them, the overall wealth of a society goes down.

Would Mark Zuckerberg have worked so hard to develop Facebook if he knew that the government would just come in and take most of the money away so that others could have a “universal basic income”?

Yes, we want to do all that we can to reduce poverty and to build a strong, vibrant middle class.

But socialism is not the answer and it never will be.

Handout Nation: Combined Enrollment In America’s 4 Largest Safety Net Programs Hits A Record High Of 236 Million

Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism “is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”.  As you will see below, the combined enrollment in America’s four largest safety net programs has reached a staggering 236 million.  Of course that doesn’t mean that 236 million people are getting benefits from the government each month because there is overlap between the various programs.  For example, many Americans that are on Medicaid are also on food stamps, and many Americans that are on Medicare are also on Social Security.  But even accounting for that, most experts estimate that the number of Americans that are dependent on the federal government month after month is well over 100 million.  And now that so many people are addicted to government handouts, can we ever return to a culture of independence and self-sufficiency?

On Wednesday, CNN ran an editorial by Bernie Sanders in which he called President Trump’s proposed budget “immoral” because it would cut funding for government aid programs.

But is it moral to steal more than a hundred million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day to pay for these programs?

Of course the answer to that question is quite obvious.

There will always be some Americans that are unable to take care of themselves, and we should want to help them.

But as millions upon millions of Americans continue to jump on to the safety net, eventually we are going to get to the point where it is going to break.

As I mentioned above, the combined enrollment in the four largest safety net programs has reached a new all-time record high…

More than 74 million Americans are on Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).

More than  58 million Americans are on Medicare.

More than 60 million Americans are on Social Security.

Approximately 44 million Americans are on food stamps.  And even though we are supposedly in an “economic recovery”, this number is still dramatically higher than the 26 million Americans that were on food stamps prior to the last financial crisis.

When you add the figures for those four programs together, you get a grand total of 236 million, and that doesn’t even count any of the other federal programs which are helping people.

Once again, there is overlap in enrollment between these various programs, but even accounting for that most experts believe that well over a third of the country is currently receiving benefits from the government each month.

How far down this road do we have to go before people start calling it “socialism”?

As I was writing this, I was reminded of one of Benjamin Franklin’s most famous quotes

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.”

In our country today, many politicians have discovered that one of the best ways to win elections is to promise the voters as much free stuff as possible.  This is one of the primary reasons why Bernie Sanders did so well.  Young people loved his socialist policies, and he received more votes from Millennials in the primaries and caucuses than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton combined.

As older generations of Americans continue to die off, the Millennials will just become even more powerful politically.  And considering the fact that they are far more liberal than other generations, that is a very alarming prospect…

In the minds of 80 percent of baby boomers and 91 percent of elderly Americans, communism was a major problem in years past and remains a significant concern today. But millennials, aged 16 to 20 years, see it differently. Only 55 percent of the younger generation take issue with communism, 45 percent say they would vote for a socialist and 21 percent say they’d vote for a communist.

And millennials made all that clear during the Democratic presidential primary, when many of them cast their vote for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed socialist. In fact, the report credits the New England lawmaker with a “bounce” that led to less than half of millennials — 42 percent — having a favorable view of capitalism.

At this point, the Republic that our founders established is barely recognizable, and if it is going to be saved we need a conservative revolution as soon as possible.

A good place to begin would be to dramatically reduce the size and scope of the federal government, and there are some promising signs in the budget that President Trump has proposed.  He wants to completely eliminate 66 federal programs, and liberals are screaming bloody murder over this.

Of course Trump’s budget is “dead on arrival” in Congress because many among his own party do not support him.  Most Republicans campaign as conservatives but govern like Democrats, and it is high time that we held them accountable for that.  In 2018 we are going get Trump a whole bunch of friends in Congress, and a lot of those establishment Republicans that have been betraying conservatives for years are going to have to find a new line of work.

We simply cannot afford to keep sending the same cast of characters back to Washington time after time.  Just look at the debacle that the effort to repeal Obamacare has become.  According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, getting any sort of bill through the Senate is going to be extremely challenging

Referring to behind-the-scenes work among Senate Republicans on a healthcare bill, McConnell said, “I don’t know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment. But that’s the goal.”

Under a scenario of gathering the votes needed for passage in the 100-seat chamber, Republican Vice President Mike Pence would be called upon to cast any potential tie-breaking Senate vote.

McConnell opened the interview by saying, “There’s not a whole lot of news to be made on healthcare.” He declined to provide any timetable for producing even a draft bill to show to rank-and-file Republican senators and gauge their support.

And yet somehow when Obama was in office the Republicans in the House and the Senate were able to easily pass a bill to repeal Obamacare and get it to Obama’s desk.

Why can’t they get that exact same bill to Trump’s desk?

We definitely need to “drain the swamp” in D.C., and we can start with Congress.

But the alliance between big money and big government is going to be hard to defeat, and so if we want our country back we are going to have to fight harder than we have ever fought before.

The Tens Of Millions Of Forgotten Americans That The U.S. Economy Has Left Behind

The evidence that the middle class in America is dying continues to mount.  As you will see below, nearly half the country would be unable “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”, and about two-thirds of the population lives paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.  Of course the economy has not been doing that well overall in recent years.  Barack Obama was the only president in all of U.S. history not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and U.S. GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017 was an anemic 0.7 percent.  During the Obama era, it is true that wealthy enclaves in New York, northern California and Washington D.C. did thrive, but meanwhile most of the rest of the country has been left behind.

Today, there are approximately 205 million working age Americans, and close to half of them have no financial cushion whatsoever.  In fact, a new survey conducted by the Federal Reserve has found that 44 percent of Americans do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”

Nearly eight years into an economic recovery, nearly half of Americans didn’t have enough cash available to cover a $400 emergency. Specifically, the survey found that, in line with what the Fed had disclosed in previous years, 44% of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense like a car repair or medical bill, or would have to borrow money or sell something to meet it.

Not only that, the same survey discovered that 23 percent of U.S. adults will not be able to pay their bills this month

Just as concerning were other findings from the study: just under one-fourth of adults, or 23%, are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full while 25% reported skipping medical treatments due to cost in the prior year. Additionally, 28% of adults who haven’t retired yet reported to being grossly unprepared, indicating they had no retirement savings or pension whatsoever.

But just because you can pay your bills does not mean that you are doing well.  Tens of millions of Americans barely scrape by from paycheck to paycheck each and every month.

In fact, a survey by CareerBuilder discovered that 75 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time…

Three-quarters of Americans (75 percent) are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. Thirty-eight percent of employees said they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck, 15 percent said they usually do and 23 percent said they always do. While making ends meet is a struggle for many post-recession, those with minimum wage jobs continue to be hit the hardest. Of workers who currently have a minimum wage job or have held one in the past, 66 percent said they couldn’t make ends meet and 50 percent said they had to work more than one job to make it work.

So please don’t be fooled into thinking that the U.S. economy is doing well because the stock market has been hitting new record highs.

The stock market was soaring just before the financial crisis of 2008 too, and we remember how that turned out.

The truth is that the long-term trends that have been eating away at the foundations of the U.S. economy continue to accelerate, and the real economy is in substantially worse shape this year than it was last year.

Just about everywhere you look, businesses are struggling and stores are shutting down.  Yes, there are a few wealthy enclaves where everything seems wonderful for the moment, but for most of the country it seems like the last recession never ended.

In a desperate attempt to stay afloat, a lot of families have been turning to debt to make ends meet.  U.S. household debt has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 trillion dollars, but we are starting to see an alarming rise in auto loan defaults and consumer bankruptcies.  This is precisely what we would expect to see if the U.S. economy was moving into another major recession.

In fact, we are seeing all sorts of signs that point to a major economic slowdown right now.  Just check out the following from Wolf Richter’s latest article

Over the past five decades, each time commercial and industrial loan balances at US banks shrank or stalled as companies cut back or as banks tightened their lending standards in reaction to the economy they found themselves in, a recession was either already in progress or would start soon. There has been no exception since the 1960s. Last time this happened was during the Financial Crisis.

Now it’s happening again – with a 1990/91 recession twist.

Commercial and industrial loans outstanding fell to $2.095 trillion on May 10, according to the Fed’s Board of Governors weekly report on Friday. That’s down 4.5% from the peak on November 16, 2016. It’s below the level of outstanding C&I loans on October 19. And it marks the 30th week in a row of no growth in C&I loans.

Perhaps we will be very fortunate and break this pattern that has held up all the way back to the 1960s.

But I wouldn’t count on it.  Here is what Zero Hedge has to say about this alarming contraction in commercial and industrial loans…

Here’s the bottom line: unless there is a sharp rebound in loan growth in the next 3-6 months – whether due to greater demand or easier supply – this most accurate of leading economic indicators guarantees that a recession is now inevitable.

We are way overdue for a recession, the hard economic numbers are screaming that one is coming, and the financial markets are absolutely primed for a major crash.

As Americans, we tend to have such short memories.  Every time a new financial bubble starts forming, a lot of people out there start behaving as if it can last indefinitely.

But of course no financial bubble is going to last forever.  They all burst eventually, and now the biggest one in U.S. history is about to end in spectacular fashion.

Trump will get a lot of the blame since he is the current occupant of the White House, but the truth is that the conditions for the next crisis have been building up for many years, and the horrors that the U.S. economy is heading for were entirely predictable.

Financial Weapons Of Mass Destruction: The Top 25 U.S. Banks Have 222 Trillion Dollars Of Exposure To Derivatives

The recklessness of the “too big to fail” banks almost doomed them the last time around, but apparently they still haven’t learned from their past mistakes.  Today, the top 25 U.S. banks have 222 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.  In other words, the exposure that these banks have to derivatives contracts is approximately equivalent to the gross domestic product of the United States times twelve.  As long as stock prices continue to rise and the U.S. economy stays fairly stable, these extremely risky financial weapons of mass destruction will probably not take down our entire financial system.  But someday another major crisis will inevitably happen, and when that day arrives the devastation that these financial instruments will cause will be absolutely unprecedented.

During the great financial crisis of 2008, derivatives played a starring role, and U.S. taxpayers were forced to step in and bail out companies such as AIG that were on the verge of collapse because the risks that they took were just too great.

But now it is happening again, and nobody is really talking very much about it.  In a desperate search for higher profits, all of the “too big to fail” banks are gambling like crazy, and at some point a lot of these bets are going to go really bad.  The following numbers regarding exposure to derivatives contracts come directly from the OCC’s most recent quarterly report (see Table 2), and as you can see the level of recklessness that we are currently witnessing is more than just a little bit alarming…

Citigroup

Total Assets: $1,792,077,000,000 (slightly less than 1.8 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $47,092,584,000,000 (more than 47 trillion dollars)

JPMorgan Chase

Total Assets: $2,490,972,000,000 (just under 2.5 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $46,992,293,000,000 (nearly 47 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $860,185,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $41,227,878,000,000 (more than 41 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $2,189,266,000,000 (a little bit more than 2.1 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $33,132,582,000,000 (more than 33 trillion dollars)

Morgan Stanley

Total Assets: $814,949,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $28,569,553,000,000 (more than 28 trillion dollars)

Wells Fargo

Total Assets: $1,930,115,000,000 (more than 1.9 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $7,098,952,000,000 (more than 7 trillion dollars)

Collectively, the top 25 banks have a total of 222 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.

If you are new to all of this, you might be wondering what a “derivative” actually is.

When you buy a stock you are purchasing an ownership interest in a company, and when you buy a bond you are purchasing the debt of a company.  But when you buy a derivative, you are not actually getting anything tangible.  Instead, you are simply making a side bet about whether something will or will not happen in the future.  These side bets can be extraordinarily complex, but at their core they are basically just wagers.  The following is a pretty good definition of derivatives that comes from Investopedia

A derivative is a security with a price that is dependent upon or derived from one or more underlying assets. The derivative itself is a contract between two or more parties based upon the asset or assets. Its value is determined by fluctuations in the underlying asset. The most common underlying assets include stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates and market indexes.

Those that trade derivatives are essentially engaged in a form of legalized gambling, and some of the brightest names in the financial world have been warning about the potentially destructive nature of these financial instruments for a very long time.

In a letter that he wrote to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway in 2003, Warren Buffett actually referred to derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction”…

The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Central banks and governments have so far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts. In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.

Warren Buffett was right on the money when he made that statement, and of course the derivatives bubble is far larger today than it was back then.

In fact, the total notional value of derivatives contracts globally is in excess of 500 trillion dollars.

This is a disaster that is just waiting to happen, and investors such as Buffett are quietly positioning themselves to take advantage of the giant crash that is inevitably coming.

According to financial expert Jim Rickards, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is hoarding 86 billion dollars in cash because he is likely anticipating a major stock market downturn…

Far from a bullish sign, Buffett’s cash hoard could mean he’s preparing for a market crash. When the crash comes, Buffett can walk through the wreckage with his checkbook open and buy great companies for a fraction of their current value.

That’s the real Buffett style, but you won’t hear that from your broker or wealth manager. If Buffett has a huge cash allocation, shouldn’t you?

He knows what’s coming. Now you do too.

Warren Buffett didn’t become one of the wealthiest men in the entire world by being stupid.  He knows that stocks are ridiculously overvalued at this point, and he is poised to make his move after the pendulum swings in the other direction.

And he might not have too long to wait.  In recent weeks I have been writing about many of the signs that the U.S. economy is slowing down substantially, and today we received even more bad news

Despite high levels of economic confidence expressed by business owners and consumers, one key indicator shows that it has not translated into much action yet.

Loan issuance declined in the first quarter from the previous three-month period, the first time that has happened in four years, according to an SNL Financial analysis of bank earnings reports filed for the period. The total of recorded loans and leases fell to $9.297 trillion from $9.305 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2016.

This is precisely what we would expect to see if a new economic downturn was beginning.  Our economy is very highly dependent on the flow of credit, and when that flow begins to diminish that is a very bad sign.

For the moment, financial markets continue to remain completely disconnected from the hard economic data, but as we saw in 2008 the markets can plunge very rapidly once they start catching up with the real economy.

Warren Buffett is clearly getting prepared for the crisis that is ahead.

Are you?

The Federal Reserve Must Go

If you want to permanently fix America’s economy, there really is no other choice.  Even before Ron Paul’s rallying cry of “End The Fed” shook America during the peak of the Tea Party movement, I was a huge advocate of shutting down the Federal Reserve.  Because no matter how hard we try to patch it up otherwise, the truth is that our debt-based financial system has been fundamentally flawed from the very beginning, and the Federal Reserve is the very heart of that system.  The following is a free preview of an upcoming book that I am working on about how to turn this country is a more positive direction…

*****

As the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, there have been times when I have been criticized for focusing too much on our economic problems and not enough on the solutions.  But I believe that in order to be willing to accept the solutions that are necessary, people need to have a full understanding of the true severity of our problems.  It isn’t by accident that we ended up 20 trillion dollars in debt.  In 1913, a bill was rushed through Congress right before Christmas that was based on a plan that had been secretly developed by very powerful Wall Street bankers.  G. Edward Griffin did an amazing job of documenting the development of this plan in his groundbreaking book “The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve”.  At that time, most Americans had no idea what a central bank does or what one would mean for the U.S. economy.  Sadly, even though more than a century has passed since that time, most Americans still do not understand the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve was designed to create debt, and of course the Wall Street bankers were very excited about such a system because it would make them even wealthier.  Since the Fed was created in 1913, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger and the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by about 98 percent.  So the Federal Reserve is doing what it was originally designed to do.  In fact, it has probably worked better than the original designers ever dreamed possible.

There is often a lot of confusion about the Federal Reserve, because a lot of people think that it is simply an agency of the federal government.  But of course that is not true at all.  In fact, as Ron Paul likes to say, the Federal Reserve is about as “federal” as Federal Express is.

The Fed is an independent central bank that has even argued in court that it is not an agency of the federal government.  Yes, the president appoints the leadership of the Fed, but the Fed and other central banks around the world have always fiercely guarded their “independence”.  On the official Fed website, it is admitted that the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are organized “much like private corporations”, and they very much operate like private entities.  They even issue shares of stock to the private banks that own them.

In case you were wondering, the federal government has zero shares.

The American people are constantly being told that Fed decisions must be “above politics” because they are “too important” to be politicized.  So even though everything else in our society is up for political debate, somehow we have become convinced that the Federal Reserve should be off limits.

Today, the Federal Reserve has more power over the performance of the U.S. economy than anyone else does, and that includes the president.  The Fed has become known as “the fourth branch of government”, and a single statement from the chairman of the Fed can send global financial markets soaring or tumbling.

So even though presidents tend to get most of the credit or most of the blame for how the U.S. economy is doing, the truth is that the Fed is actually the one pulling most of the strings.  In conjunction with Congress, presidents can monkey around with regulations and tax rates, but at the end of the day their influence over the economy pales in comparison to what the Fed is able to do.

For those that have never encountered this material before, this can be difficult to grasp at first, so let’s start with something very simple.

Go to your wallet or purse and pull out a dollar bill.

At the very top, you will notice that it says “Federal Reserve Note” in big, bold letters.

If you ask 99 percent of the people in the United States where money comes from, they will not be able to tell you.  Our money is actually created and issued by the Federal Reserve, but that is not what our founders intended.  According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress was expressly given the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.

So why is the Federal Reserve doing it?

Many Americans are still operating under the assumption that the federal government has a “printing press” and that if we ever get into too much debt trouble the government could simply create and spend lots more money into circulation.

But that is not the way that our system currently operates.

Instead, it is the Federal Reserve that creates all new money.  Once that new money is created, the federal government then borrows it and spends it into circulation.

Previously, I have written about how this works…

When the U.S. government decides that it wants to spend another billion dollars that it does not have, it does not print up a billion dollars.

Rather, the U.S. government creates a bunch of U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) and takes them over to the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve creates a billion dollars out of thin air and exchanges them for the U.S. Treasury bonds.

(http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/why-donald-trump-must-shut-down-the-federal-reserve-and-start-issuing-debt-free-money)

This doesn’t seem to make any sense at all.

Why does the U.S. government have to borrow money that the Federal Reserve creates?  Why can’t they just create the money themselves?

This is the big secret that nobody is supposed to know about.

Theoretically, the federal government doesn’t have to borrow a penny.  Instead of borrowing money the Federal Reserve creates, it could just create money directly and spend it into circulation.

But then we wouldn’t be 20 trillion dollars in debt.

Once the Federal Reserve has received U.S. Treasury bonds in exchange for the “Federal Reserve Notes” that the federal government has requested, the Fed auctions off those bonds to the highest bidder.  But as I have noted so many times before, this process always creates more debt than it does money…

The U.S. Treasury bonds that the Federal Reserve receives in exchange for the money it has created out of nothing are auctioned off through the Federal Reserve system.

But wait.

There is a problem.

Because the U.S. government must pay interest on the Treasury bonds, the amount of debt that has been created by this transaction is greater than the amount of money that has been created.

So where will the U.S. government get the money to pay that debt?

Well, the theory is that we can get money to circulate through the economy really, really fast and tax it at a high enough rate that the government will be able to collect enough taxes to pay the debt.

But that never actually happens, does it?

And the creators of the Federal Reserve understood this as well. They understood that the U.S. government would not have enough money to both run the government and service the national debt. They knew that the U.S. government would have to keep borrowing even more money in an attempt to keep up with the game.

(http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/why-donald-trump-must-shut-down-the-federal-reserve-and-start-issuing-debt-free-money)

Beginning in 1913, this process has created an endless debt spiral that has resulted in the U.S. being 20 trillion dollars in debt.  It is the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and it didn’t have to happen.

In fact, if we had been using debt-free money all this time we could theoretically be completely out of debt.

A lot of conservatives out there are still under the illusion that if we could just grow the economy fast enough that we could possibly pay back all of this debt someday, but as I have demonstrated in a previous article, this is mathematically impossible.  (http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/it-is-mathematically-impossible-to-pay-off-all-of-our-debt)

All of this debt threatens to destroy the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.  It is absolutely immoral to pass such a large debt on to future generations, but we are doing it anyway.

Of course the United States is far from alone in this regard.  Today, more than 99.9% of the population of the world lives in a country that has a central bank.

There is literally nothing else that the entire planet agrees upon almost unanimously, and yet somehow virtually the whole globe has chosen to adopt debt-based central banking.

Do you think that this is just a coincidence?

A handful of extremely small nations such as the Federated States of Micronesia still do not have a central bank, but the only large country not to have one is North Korea.

I don’t understand why more people are not talking about this.  If we really want to reform how things are done economically, it should start with central banking.

The truth is that we do not need a central bank.

Let me say that again.

We do not need a central bank.

The greatest period of economic growth in all of U.S. history was when there was no income tax and no central bank. (http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/during-the-best-period-of-economic-growth-in-u-s-history-there-was-no-income-tax-and-no-federal-reserve)

Such a system would be unimaginable to many people today, but it is entirely possible.

Instead of a central bank creating debt-based currency for us, the federal government could create debt-free money directly.

And instead of socialist central planners setting our interest rates for us, we could allow the free market to set our interest rates.

We are supposed to be a free market nation with a free market economy, and so we don’t need Fed bureaucrats to run it for us.

The free market will always do a better job in the long run then bureaucrats will.  As I noted earlier, the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was right before the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, but since that time there have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions: 1918, 1920, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008.

Now we stand poised on the brink of another major downturn, and people still aren’t getting it.

As long as the Federal Reserve exists, there will be “booms” and “busts” like this.

It is time for a change.

During the good times, criticism of the Fed tends to subside.  And without a doubt, the bubble following the end of the last recession lasted much longer than a lot of people initially would have thought, but all Fed-created bubbles eventually end.

We desperately need to get free from this system, and a huge step in that direction would be a rejection of debt-based currency.

If you don’t think that this can happen, you should consider what happened in 1963.  President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 11110 which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue debt-free “United States Notes” which were directly created by the federal government.

Unfortunately, he was assassinated shortly after that executive order was signed.

You can still find debt-free “United States Notes” in circulation today, and they are often for sale on auction sites such as eBay because people like to collect them.

At any time, the White House could do something similar today.

All it takes is the willingness to do so.

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and the debt-based Federal Reserve system has turned all of us into debt slaves.

If we do not want future generations of Americans to be enslaved to debt, we need to shut down the Federal Reserve and start using debt-free currency.  Any essential functions that the Fed is currently performing can ultimately be taken over by the U.S. Treasury, and of course we can make the transition gradual so that we don’t completely panic global financial markets.

The global elite are using central banking and debt-based currencies to dominate the planet.  Today, the total amount of debt in the world has shot past 150 trillion dollars, and it will only continue to grow until humanity wakes up and realizes the insanity of using a debt-based financial system.

Here in the United States, we need people in government that understand these things and that are willing to do something about it.

The Federal Reserve must go, and I will never make any apologies for saying that.

U.S. Auto Sales Plunge Dramatically As The Consumer Debt Bubble Continues To Collapse

One sector of the economy that is acting as if we were already in the middle of a horrible recession is the auto industry.  We just got sales figures for the month of April, and every single major U.S. auto manufacturer missed their sales projections.  And compared to one year ago, sales were way down across the entire industry.  When you add this latest news to all of the other signals that the U.S. economy is slowly down substantially, a very disturbing picture begins to emerge.  Either the U.S. economy is steamrolling toward a major slowdown, or this is one heck of a head fake.

One analyst that has been waiting for auto sales to start declining is Graham Summers.  According to Summers, the boom in auto sales that we witnessed in previous years was largely fueled by subprime lending, and now that subprime auto loan bubble is starting to burst

Auto-loan generation has gone absolutely vertical since 2009, rising an incredible 56% in seven years. Even more incredibly roughly 1/3 of this ~$450 billion in new loans are subprime AKA garbage.

In the simplest of terms, this is Subprime 2.0… the tip of the $199 TRILLION debt iceberg, just as subprime mortgages were for the Housing Bubble.

I’ve been watching this industry for months now, waiting for the signal that it’s ready to explode.

That signal just hit.

The signal that Summers is referring to is a persistent decline in U.S. auto sales.  It would be easy to dismiss one bad month, but U.S. auto sales have been falling for a number of months now, and the sales figures for April were absolutely dismal.  Just check out how much sales declined in April compared to one year ago for the biggest auto manufacturers

General Motors: -5.8 percent

Ford: -7.1 percent

Fiat Chrysler: -7.0 percent

Toyota: -4.4 percent

Honda: -7.0 percent

For auto manufacturers, those are truly frightening numbers, and nobody is really projecting that they will get better any time soon.

At the same time, unsold vehicles continue to pile up on dealer lots at a staggering pace

Meanwhile, inventory days are still trending higher as OEMs continue to push product on to dealer lots even though sale through to end customers has seemingly stalled.

GM, one of the few OEMs to actually disclose dealer inventories in monthly sales releases, reported that April inventories increased to 100 days (935,758 vehicles) from 98 days at the end of March and just 71 days (681,402 vehicles) in April 2016.

So why is this happening?

Of course there are a lot of factors, but one of the main reasons for this crisis is the fact that U.S. consumers are already drowning in debt and are simply tapped out

Now, a new survey from Northwestern Mutual helps to shed some light on why Americans are completely incapable of saving money.

First, roughly 50% of Americans have debt balances, excluding mortgages mind you, of over $25,000, with the average person owing over $37,000, versus a median personal income of just over $30,000.

Therefore, it’s not difficult to believe, as Northwestern Mutual points out, that 45% of Americans spend up to half of their monthly take home pay on debt service alone.…which, again, excludes mortgage debt.

When you are already up to your eyeballs in debt, it is hard just to make payments on that debt.  So for many American families a new car is simply out of the question.

And it isn’t just the U.S. auto industry that is in trouble.  The credit card industry is also starting to show signs of distress

Synchrony Financial – GE’s spin-off that issues credit cards for Walmart and Amazon – disclosed on Friday that, despite assurances to the contrary just three months ago, net charge-off would rise to at least 5% this year. Its shares plunged 16% and are down 27% year-to-date.

Credit-card specialist Capital One disclosed in its Q1 earnings report last week that provisions for credit losses rose to $2 billion, with net charge-offs jumping 28% year-over-year to $1.5 billion.

If you didn’t understand all of that, what is essentially being said is that credit card companies are starting to have to set aside more money for bad credit card debts.

Previously I have reported that consumer bankruptcies and commercial bankruptcies are both rising at the fastest rate that we have seen since the last recession.  This trend is starting to spook lenders, and so many of them are starting to pull back on various forms of lending.  For example, Bloomberg is reporting that lending by regional U.S. banks was down significantly during the first quarter of 2017…

Total loans at the 15 largest U.S. regional banks declined by about $10 billion to $1.73 trillion in the first quarter, compared with the previous three-month period, the first such drop in four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. All but two of those banks missed analysts’ estimates for total loans, as a slump in commercial and industrial lending sapped growth.

This is how a credit crunch begins.  When the flow of credit starts restricting, that slows down economic activity, and in turn that usually results in even more credit defaults.  Of course that just causes lending to get even tighter, and pretty soon you have a spiral that is hard to stop.

Just about everywhere you look, there are early warning signs of a new economic downturn.  And just like we saw prior to the great crash of 2008, those that are wise are getting prepared for what is coming ahead of time.  Unfortunately, most people usually end up getting blindsided by economic downturns because they believe the mainstream media when they insist that everything is going to be just fine.

Thankfully, there are at least a few people that are telling the truth, and one of them is Marc Faber.  Just a few days ago, he told CNBC that the U.S. economy is “terminally ill”…

“Dr. Doom” Marc Faber says the U.S. economy is “terminally ill,” and the current outlook doesn’t seem to be improving.

“The U.S. has run a deficit for [so long],” he said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Futures Now.” “The conditions today are more fragile than they were ever before, and unless somebody comes and introduces minus 5 percent interest rates, I think the economy is really not in such a great shape.”

“I’m actually amazed that people are so optimistic,” the editor and publisher of the “Gloom, Boom & Doom Report” added.

I have to agree with Faber on this point.

We are more primed for a major economic downturn and a horrifying stock market crash than we were back in 2008.

It isn’t going to take much to push us over the edge, and with our world becoming more unstable with each passing month, it appears that our day of reckoning is likely to come sooner rather than later.

11 Reasons Why U.S. Economic Growth Is The Worst That It Has Been In 3 Years

Those that were predicting that the U.S. economy would be flying high by now have been proven wrong.  U.S. GDP grew at the worst rate in three years during the first quarter of 2017, and many are wondering if this is the beginning of a major economic slowdown.  Of course when we are dealing with the official numbers that the federal government puts out, it is important to acknowledge that they are highly manipulated.  There are many that have correctly pointed out to me that if the numbers were not being doctored that they would show that we are still in a recession.  In fact, John Williams of shadowstats.com has shown that if honest numbers were being used that U.S. GDP growth would have been consistently negative going all the way back to 2005.  So I definitely don’t have any argument with those that claim that we are actually in a recession right now.  But even if we take the official numbers that the federal government puts out at face value, they are definitely very ugly

Economic growth slowed in the first quarter to its slowest pace in three years as sluggish consumer spending and business stockpiling offset solid business investment. Many economists write off the weak performance as a byproduct of temporary blips and expect healthy growth in 2017.

The nation’s gross domestic product — the value of all goods and services produced in the USA — increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.7%, the Commerce Department said Friday, below the tepid 2.1% pace clocked both in the fourth quarter and as an average throughout the nearly 8-year-old recovery. Economists expected a 1% increase in output, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Even if you want to assume that it is a legitimate number, 0.7 percent economic growth is essentially stall speed, and this follows a year when the U.S. economy grew at a rate of just 1.6 percent.

So why is this happening?

Of course the “experts” in the mainstream media are blaming all sorts of temporary factors

Economists blamed the weather. It was too warm this time around, rather than too cold, which is the usual explanation for Q1 debacles.

And they blamed the IRS refund checks that had been delayed due to last year’s spectacular identity theft problem. Everyone blamed everything on these delayed refund checks, including the auto industry and the restaurant industry. But by mid-February, a veritable tsunami of checks went out, and by the end of February, the IRS was pretty much caught up. So March should have been awash in consumer spending. But no. So we’ll patiently wait for that miracle to happen in second quarter.

They always want us to think that “boom times” for the U.S. economy are right around the corner, but those “boom times” have never materialized since the end of the last financial crisis.

Instead, we have had year after year of economic malaise and stagnation, and it looks like 2017 is going to continue that trend.  The following are 11 reasons why U.S. economic growth is the worst that it has been in 3 years…

#1 The weak economic growth in the first quarter was the continuation of a long-term trend.  Barack Obama was the only president in history not to have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by at least 3 percent, and this is now the fourth time in the last six quarters when economic growth has been less than 2 percent on an annualized basis.  So essentially this latest number signals that our long-term economic decline is continuing.

#2 Consumer spending drives the U.S. economy more than anything else, and at this point most U.S. consumers are tapped out.  In fact, CBS News has reported that three-fourths of all U.S. consumers have to “scramble to cover their living costs” each month.

#3 The job market appears to be slowing.  The U.S. economy only added about 98,000 jobs in March, and that was approximately half of what most analysts were expecting.

#4 The flow of credit appears to be slowing as well.  In fact, this is the first time since the last recession when there has been no growth for commercial and industrial lending for at least six months.

#5 Last month, U.S. factory output dropped at the fastest pace that we have witnessed in more than two years.

#6 We are in the midst of the worst “retail apocalypse” in U.S. history.  The number of retailers that has filed for bankruptcy has already surpassed the total for the entire year of 2016, and at the current rate we will smash the previous all-time record for store closings in a year by nearly 2,000.

#7 The auto industry is also experiencing a great deal of stress.  This has been the worst year for U.S. automakers since the last recession, and seven out of the eight largest fell short of their sales projections in March.

#8 Used vehicle prices are falling “dramatically”, and Morgan Stanley is now projecting that used vehicle prices “could crash by up to 50%” over the next several years.

#9 Commercial bankruptcies are rising at the fastest pace since the last recession.

#10 Consumer bankruptcies are rising at the fastest pace since the last recession.

#11 The student loan bubble is starting to burst.  It is being reported that 27 percent of all student loans are already in default, and some analysts expect that number to go much higher.

And of course some areas of the country are being harder hit than others.  The following comes from CNBC

Four states have not yet fully recovered from the Great Recession. As of the third quarter of last year, the latest data available, the economies of Louisiana, Wyoming, Connecticut and Alaska were still smaller than when the recession ended in June 2009.

Other states that have recovered have seen their economic recoveries stall out. Those include Minnesota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota and West Virginia.

We should be thankful that we are not experiencing a full-blown economic meltdown just yet, but it is undeniable that our long-term economic decline continues to roll along.

And without a doubt the storm clouds are building on the horizon, and many believe that the next major economic downturn will begin in the not too distant future.

11 Facts That Prove That The U.S. Economy In 2017 Is In Far Worse Shape Than It Was In 2016

There is much debate about where the U.S. economy is ultimately heading, but what everybody should be able to agree on is that economic conditions are significantly worse this year than they were last year.  It is being projected that U.S. economic growth for the first quarter will be close to zero, thousands of retail stores are closing, factory output is falling, and restaurants and automakers have both fallen on very hard times.  As economic activity has slowed down, commercial and consumer bankruptcies are both rising at rates that we have not seen since the last financial crisis.  Everywhere you look there are echoes of 2008, and yet most people still seem to be in denial about what is happening.  The following are 11 facts that prove that the U.S. economy in 2017 is in far worse shape than it was in 2016…

#1 It is being projected that there will be more than 8,000 retail store closings in the United States in 2017, and that will far surpass the former peak of 6,163 store closings that we witnessed in 2008.

#2 The number of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy so far in 2017 has already surpassed the total for the entire year of 2016.

#3 So far in 2017, an astounding 49 million square feet of retail space has closed down in the United States.  At this pace, approximately 147 million square feet will be shut down by the end of the year, and that would absolutely shatter the all-time record of 115 million square feet that was shut down in 2001.

#4 The Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now model is projecting that U.S. economic growth for the first quarter of 2017 will come in at just 0.5 percent.  If that pace continues for the rest of the year, it will be the worst year for U.S. economic growth since the last recession.

#5 Restaurants are experiencing their toughest stretch since the last recession, and in March things continued to get even worse

Foot traffic at chain restaurants in March dropped 3.4% from a year ago. Menu prices couldn’t be increased enough to make up for it, and same-store sales fell 1.1%. The least bad region was the Western US, where sales inched up 1.2% year-over-year and traffic fell only 1.7%, according to TDn2K’s Restaurant Industry Snapshot. The worst was the NY-NJ Region, where sales plunged 4.6% and foot traffic 6.3%.

This comes after a dismal February, when foot traffic had dropped 5% year-over-year, and same-store sales 3.7%.

#6 In March, U.S. factory output declined at the fastest pace in more than two years.

#7 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, not a single person is employed in nearly one out of every five U.S. families.

#8 U.S. government revenues just suffered their biggest drop since the last recession.

#9 Nearly all of the big automakers reported disappointing sales in March, and dealer inventories have now risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.

#10 Used vehicle prices are absolutely crashing, and subprime auto loan losses have shot up to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.

#11 At this point, most U.S. consumers are completely tapped out.  According to CNN, almost six out of every ten Americans do not have enough money saved to even cover a $500 emergency expense.

Just like in 2008, debts are going bad at a very alarming pace.  In fact, things have already gotten so bad that the IMF has issued a major warning about it

In America alone, bad debt held by companies could reach $4 trillion, “or almost a quarter of corporate assets considered,” according to the IMF. That debt “could undermine financial stability” if mishandled, the IMF says.

The percentage of “weak,” “vulnerable” or “challenged” debt held as assets by US firms has almost arrived at the same level it was right before the 2008 crisis.

We are seeing so many parallels to the last financial crisis, and many are hoping that our politicians in Washington can fix things before it is too late.

On Monday, the most critical week of Trump’s young presidency begins.  The administration will continue working on tax reform and a replacement for Obamacare, but of even greater importance is the fact that if a spending agreement is not passed by Friday a government shutdown will begin at the end of the week

Trump has indicated that he wants to tackle the repeal and replacement of Obamacare and introduce his “massive” tax plan in the next week, all while a shutdown of parts of federal government looms Friday.

By attempting three massive political undertakings in one week, investors will have a sense of whether or not Trump will be able to deliver on pro-growth policies that would be beneficial for markets.

If Trump can pull off the trifecta, it could restore faith that policy proposals like tax cuts and infrastructure spending are on the way. If not, look out.

Members of Congress are returning from their extended two week spring vacation, and now they will only have four working days to get something done.

And I don’t believe that they will be able to rush something through in just four days.  The Republicans in Congress, the Democrats in Congress, and the Trump administration all want different things, and ironing out all of those differences is not going to be easy.

For example, the Trump administration is insisting on funding for a border wall, and the Democrats are saying no way.  The following comes from the Washington Post

President Trump and his top aides applied new pressure Sunday on lawmakers to include money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in a must-pass government funding bill, raising the possibility of a federal government shutdown this week.

In a pair of tweets, Trump attacked Democrats for opposing the wall and insisted that Mexico would pay for it “at a later date,” despite his repeated campaign promises not including that qualifier. And top administration officials appeared on Sunday morning news shows to press for wall funding, including White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who said Trump might refuse to sign a spending bill that does not include any.

And of course the border wall is just one of a whole host of controversial issues that are standing in the way of an agreement.  Those that are suggesting that all of these issues will be resolved in less than 100 hours are being completely unrealistic.  And even though the Trump administration is putting on a brave face, the truth is that quiet preparations for a government shutdown have already begun.

The stage is being set for the kind of nightmare crisis that I portrayed in The Beginning Of The End.  The stock market bubble is showing signs of being ready to burst, and an extended government shutdown would be more than enough to push things over the edge.

Let us hope that this government shutdown is only for a limited period of time, because an extended shutdown could potentially be catastrophic.  In the end, either the Trump administration or the Democrats are going to have to give in on issues such as funding for Obamacare, the border wall, Planned Parenthood, defense spending increases, etc.

It will be a test of the wills, and it will be absolutely fascinating to see who buckles under the pressure first.

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