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What Is Going To Happen If Interest Rates Continue To Rise Rapidly?

Question MarkIf you want to track how close we are to the next financial collapse, there is one number that you need to be watching above all others.  The number that I am talking about is the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries, because it affects thousands of other interest rates in our financial system.  When the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries goes up, that is bad for the U.S. economy because it pushes long-term interest rates up.  When interest rates rise, it constricts the flow of credit, and a healthy flow of credit is absolutely essential to the debt-based system that we live in.  Just imagine someone squeezing a tube that has water flowing through it.  The higher interest rates go, the more economic activity will be squeezed.  If interest rates continue to rise rapidly, it will be more expensive for the U.S. government to borrow money, it will be more expensive for state and local governments to borrow money, the housing market may crash again, consumer debt will become more expensive, junk bond investors will be in for a world of hurt, the stock market will experience a tremendous amount of pain and there is a good chance that we could see the 441 trillion dollar interest rate derivatives bubble implode.  And that is just for starters.

So yes, we all need to be carefully watching the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries.  On Friday, it opened at 2.76% and hit a high of 2.86% before closing at 2.83%.  The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is up nearly 120 basis points since the beginning of May, and almost everyone on Wall Street seems convinced that it is going to go much higher.

We are truly moving into unprecedented territory, because we have been in a bull market for U.S. Treasuries for the last 30 years.  Many investors don’t even know that it is possible to lose money on U.S. Treasuries.  They have been described as “risk-free” investments, but that is far from the truth.

In fact, we could see bond investors of all types end up losing trillions of dollars before it is all said and done.

And those in the stock market will lose lots of money too.  Low interest rates are good for economic activity which is good for the stock market.  The chart posted below shows that stock prices have generally risen as the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has steadily declined over the past 30 years…


When interest rates rise, that is bad for economic activity and bad for stocks.  That is why so many stock analysts are alarmed that interest rates are going up so rapidly right now.

And as I wrote about the other day, we have just witnessed the largest cluster of Hindenburg Omens that we have seen since before the last financial crisis.  The stock market already seems ripe for a huge “adjustment”, and rising interest rates could give it a huge extra push in a negative direction.

By the time it is all said and done, stock market investors could end up losing trillions of dollars in the next stock market crash.

In addition, rising interest rates could easily precipitate another housing crash.  As the Wall Street Journal discussed on Friday, as the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries goes up it will also cause mortgage rates to rise…

Higher yields will push up long-term borrowing cost for U.S. consumers and businesses. Mortgage rates will rise, and investors are keeping a close eye on whether this may derail the recovery of the housing market, which has shown signs of turning a corner this year.

In one of my previous articles, I included an example that shows just how powerful rising mortgage rates can be…

A year ago, the 30 year rate was sitting at 3.66 percent.  The monthly payment on a 30 year, $300,000 mortgage at that rate would be $1374.07.

If the 30 year rate rises to 8 percent, the monthly payment on a 30 year, $300,000 mortgage at that rate would be $2201.29.

Does 8 percent sound crazy to you?

It shouldn’t.  8 percent was considered to be normal back in the year 2000.

If you own a $300,000 house today, do you think it will be easier to sell it or harder to sell it if mortgage rates skyrocket?

Yes, of course it will be much harder.  In fact, there is a good chance that you will have to reduce your selling price significantly so that prospective buyers can afford the payments.

Let us hope that the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries levels off for a while.  If it says at this current level, the damage will probably not be too bad.

But if it crosses the 3 percent mark and keeps soaring, things could get messy pretty quickly.  In fact, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch investor survey, the 3.5 percent mark is when the collapse of the bond market is likely to become “disorderly”…

Our latest Credit Investor Survey, conducted July 8-11, showed that 3.5% on the 10-year is most commonly thought of as the trigger of a disorderly rotation – i.e. higher interest rates leading to outflows and wider credit spreads – among high grade investors.

Put differently, 3.0% on the 10-year will not lead to overall wider credit spreads if there is enough buying interest from institutional investors (though note that the 10s/30s spread curve would flatten further, as mutual fund/ETF holdings are concentrated in the belly of the curve, whereas institutional demand is disproportional in the long end of the curve). However, if the probability of a further move higher in interest rates to 3.5% is high – which will be the perception if interest rate volatility is high – certain institutional investors will choose to remain on the sidelines.

Thus there may not be enough institutional buying interest to mitigate retail fund outflows and contain overall high grade spread levels.

So what is causing this?

Well, there are a number of factors of course, but one very disturbing sign is that foreigners are selling off U.S. Treasuries at a pace that we have not seen since 2007…

One of the biggest fears in the financial markets is that foreign investors will stop buying U.S. Treasury securities, causing borrowing rates to surge.

Not that this is the beginning of a frightening trend, but new data from the Treasury Department shows that foreigners were net sellers in June. In fact, this is the largest net sale of U.S. securities since August 2007.

Do you remember all of the warnings that we have received over the years about what would take place when foreign countries started dumping U.S. debt?

Well, it looks like it may be starting to happen.

Unfortunately, there is no way that the party that the U.S. government has been throwing can continue without foreigners buying our debt.  We have added more than 11 trillion dollars to the national debt since the year 2000, and according to Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff we are facing unfunded liabilities in future years that are in excess of 200 trillion dollars.

Even with foreigners continuing to loan us gigantic mountains of super cheap money, it would still take a doubling of our taxes to put us on a fiscally sustainable course…

Writing in the September issue of Finance and Development, a journal of the International Monetary Fund, Prof. Kotlikoff says the IMF itself has quietly confirmed that the U.S. is in terrible fiscal trouble – far worse than the Washington-based lender of last resort has previously acknowledged. “The U.S. fiscal gap is huge,” the IMF asserted in a June report. “Closing the fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 per cent of U.S. GDP.”

This sum is equal to all current U.S. federal taxes combined. The consequences of the IMF’s fiscal fix, a doubling of federal taxes in perpetuity, would be appalling – and possibly worse than appalling.

Prof. Kotlikoff says: “The IMF is saying that, to close this fiscal gap [by taxation] would require an immediate and permanent doubling of our personal income taxes, our corporate taxes and all other federal taxes.

“America’s fiscal gap is enormous – so massive that closing it appears impossible without immediate and radical reforms to its health care, tax and Social Security systems – as well as military and other discretionary spending cuts.”

Can you afford to pay twice as much in taxes to the federal government?

Very few Americans could.

But that is how serious the financial problems of the federal government are.

And all of the above assumes that interest payments on U.S. government debt will remain at current levels.  If the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rises to just 6 percent, the U.S. government will be paying out a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

Also, all of the above assumes that we will have a healthy financial system that does not need to be bailed out again.

But if rapidly rising interest rates cause the 441 trillion dollar interest rate derivatives bubble to implode, the bailout that the “too big to fail” banks will need will likely be far, far larger than last time.

In fact, once that bubble bursts there probably will not be enough money in the entire world to fix it.

If the picture that I have painted above sounds bleak, that is because it is bleak.

Sometimes I get frustrated with myself because I don’t feel I am communicating the tremendous danger that we are facing accurately enough.

We are heading for the worst financial crisis in modern human history, and the debt-fueled prosperity that we are enjoying today is going to go away and it is never going to come back.

You can dismiss that as “doom and gloom” and stick your head in the sand if you want, but that isn’t going to help anything.  Instead of ignoring reality you should be working hard to prepare your family for what is coming and warning others that they should be getting prepared too.

When a hurricane is approaching landfall, you don’t take your family out for a picnic at the beach.  That would be foolish.  Unfortunately, way too many Americans are acting as if nothing like the financial crisis of 2008 could ever possibly happen again.

If you deceive yourself into thinking that all of this is going to have a happy ending somehow, you are going to get blindsided by the coming storm.

But if you make preparations now, you might just be okay.

There is hope in understanding what is happening and there is hope in getting prepared.

So watch the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries.  The higher it goes, the later in the game we are.

Celebrating Independence Yet Enslaved To Debt

Every year when July 4th rolls around, Americans from coast to coast celebrate July 4th with cookouts, outdoor concerts and fireworks.  We love celebrating Independence Day and yet we are deeply enslaved to debt.  We like to think of ourselves as “free” and yet we have rolled up the biggest pile of debt the world has ever seen.  The people that we have borrowed all of this money from expect to be paid.  Sadly, instead of addressing the problem, we have been loading more debt on to the backs of future generations with each passing year.  What we are doing to our kids and our grandkids is so immoral that is almost defies description.  At the heart of this debt-based system stands the Federal Reserve.  It is a perpetual debt machine that was designed to trap the U.S. government in a spiral of debt permanently.  Today, the U.S. national debt is 4700 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.  This year alone, we will add more to the national debt than we did from the presidency of George Washington to the beginning of the presidency of Ronald Reagan.  So yes, enjoy the hotdogs and the fireworks, but also remember that we will never be free as long as this constantly expanding debt problem is hanging over our heads.

If you know anyone that does not take our national debt problem seriously, please share with them the video posted below.  It is entitled “Economic Armageddon and You” and it is definitely worth the 5 minutes that it takes to watch it.  Someone out there did a really great job of explaining our debt problem in a way that almost anyone can understand….

So is there any solution to this problem?

Not under the current system.

The debt-based Federal Reserve system is designed to expand U.S. government debt indefinitely.  But of course all debt bubbles burst eventually and we are rapidly reaching that point.

It is being projected that the U.S. national debt will hit 344% of GDP by the year 2050 if we continue on our current course.  The truth is that it would never get even close to that high because the whole system would completely collapse long before then.

So what should we do?

We need to abandon our current debt-based financial system.  The way that our current system normally works, whenever more money is created more debt is also created.  Such a system is inevitably doomed to fail.

We need to transition to an entirely new system that has nothing to do with the Federal Reserve or Federal Reserve notes.  We need an entirely new system where the money is not based on debt.

But even though more Americans than ever are awake to the flaws in our monetary system, the truth is that neither major political party is remotely ready to even consider an end to the current financial system.

Many Republicans believe that if we can just cut government spending enough we can solve the problem.  Many Democrats believe that if we can just “raise enough revenue” we can solve the problem.

Neither of those solutions will work.

Many conservatives are so frustrated with the whole thing that they just want Congress to refuse to raise the debt ceiling.  I have taken a lot of heat over the past couple of days for suggesting that this is a bad idea.

If we refuse to raise the debt ceiling, our borrowing costs will absolutely explode.  Even if the U.S. government adopted a “balanced budget” by some miracle, the reality is that the federal government would still need to “roll over” very large amounts of debt every single year.  If interest rates on U.S. debt rise substantially it will be beyond catastrophic.

In 2010, the U.S. government paid $413 billion in interest on the national debt.

If interest rates were to start rising as a result of a debt default, interest on the national debt would likely double or even triple.

Look, if we want to come anywhere close to balancing the budget under our current system, it will be a whole lot easier to do if we are spending 400 billion dollars on interest on the national debt rather than 1.2 trillion dollars.

Today, the U.S. government only takes in about 2.2 trillion dollars in taxes.  How in the world are we going to have a chance if we have to pay out a trillion dollars just in interest on the national debt?

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries rose from 2.86% to 3.18% just this past week.  Let us hope that this is not the beginning of a bad trend.

A refusal to raise the debt ceiling would also likely set off another recession (or worse).  The following is what a new article on CNBC says would happen if the U.S. does not raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd….

A U.S. default would not only be historic, it would also almost certainly lead to a new financial crisis. Interest rates would likely spike, equity markets would plunge along with the value of the dollar, and the country could fall back into a recession.

We have to raise the debt ceiling.

So does this mean that I am advocating “kicking the can down the road”?


If you are a conservative, you can still get the same result that you want without destroying the credit rating of the United States.

All the Republicans in Congress have to do is to pledge that they will never pass anything but a balanced budget for 2012 or for any year beyond that.  Without the permission of the House of Representatives, Barack Obama and the Democrats cannot continue their deficit spending.  The sad truth is that the Republicans have been enabling and actively participating in this debt binge all along.

A balanced budget would definitely hurt the economy, but at least it would not wreck our credit rating and cause our borrowing costs to multiply.

But is that what the Republicans are shooting for?


It is being reported that the Republicans and the Democrats have tentatively agreed to between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years.

So that comes to $200 billion in spending cuts a year at most.

Considering the fact that we are running budget deficits of about a trillion and a half dollars a year, that is not nearly enough.

So don’t accuse me of wanting to kick the can down the road.  I want to actually do something substantial about the national debt.  I just don’t think it is a good idea to trash our credit rating in the process.

It is the Republicans and the Democrats in Congress that are kicking the can down the road.

Trillion dollar deficits are not acceptable.  Our nation is on the road to financial ruin.

But it is not just the federal government that is in massive financial trouble.

The reality is that we have “government debt problems” from coast to coast.

Did you hear that the government of Minnesota shut down the other day?

As the financial health of almost every single state government continues to decline, this type of thing is going to become more common.

In the state of Illinois things are so bad that some income tax refunds have not been paid since 2009.  The following is a brief excerpt from an article on the Economic Policy Journal blog….

I repeat, this is no time to own state or municipal bonds. The desperation level at various states and municipalities is getting more and more intense.

With the start of a new budget year just two days away, thousands of Illinois businesses are still waiting for state income tax refunds dating back to 2009.

In a recent article entitled “Is The Economy Improving?“, I went into greater detail about the horrific financial crisis that Illinois is facing….


Did you know that things have gotten so bad in Illinois at this point that the Illinois state government is letting bills go unpaid for long periods of time on a regular basis?

It’s true.

Right now they have billions in unpaid bills and they are facing a financial future that is so bleak that it is almost indescribable.

In one recent article, author Stephen Lendman described the horrific financial crisis that Illinois is facing right now….

With spending exceeding revenues, and obligations not postponed, unpaid bills are growing “at a frightening rate. For instance, IGPA’s Fiscal Futures Model indicates (they) could reach $40 billion by July 1, 2013, with an associated delay in paying those bills of more than five years.”

Besides its $13 billion deficit and $6 billion in unpaid bills, its pension fund is about $130 billion in the red – a red flag that state workers may lose out altogether, wiping out their promised retirement savings.

But it isn’t just the state government that is having problems.  According to Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, the average household in Chicago would owe a whopping $63,525 if all local government debt was divided up equally among all of the households.


How can we claim that our country is free when we are enslaved to such horrible debt burdens?

The borrower is always a servant of the lender.  As a nation, we are becoming a little bit less independent every single day.

So enjoy celebrating Independence Day while you still can.

If we continue on the path that we are currently on, nobody is going to be celebrating much of anything in the future.

Finca Bayano

Panama Relocation Tours



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