The debt crisis in Puerto Rico could potentially cost financial institutions in the United States tens of billions of dollars in losses. This week, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla publicly announced that Puerto Rico’s 73 billion dollar debt is “not payable,” and a special adviser that was recently appointed to help straighten out the island’s finances said that it is “insolvent” and will totally run out of cash very shortly. At this point, Puerto Rico’s debt is approximately 15 times larger than the per capita median debt of the 50 U.S. states. Yes, the Greek debt crisis is larger, as Greece currently owes about $350 billion to the rest of the planet. But only about $14 billion of that total is owed to U.S. financial institutions. But with Puerto Rico, things are very different. Just about the entire 73 billion dollar debt is owed to U.S. financial institutions, and this could potentially cause massive problems for some extremely leveraged Wall Street firms.
There is a reason why Puerto Rico is called “America’s Greece”. In Puerto Rico today, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty, the unemployment rate is over 12 percent, and the economy of the small island nation has continually been in recession since 2006.
Yet all this time Puerto Rico has continued to pile up even more debt. Finally, it has gotten to the point where all of this debt is simply unpayable
Steven Rhodes, the retired U.S. bankruptcy judge who oversaw Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and has now been retained by Puerto Rico to help solve its problems, gave a blunt assessment on Monday.
Puerto Rico “urgently needs our help,” Rhodes said. “It can no longer pay its debts, it will soon run out of cash to operate, its residents and businesses will suffer,” he added.
This is why I hammer on the danger of U.S. government debt so often. As we see with the examples of Greece and Puerto Rico, eventually a day of reckoning always arrives. And when the day of reckoning arrives, power shifts into the hands of those that you owe the money too.
It would be hard to understate just how severe the debt crisis in Puerto Rico has become. Former IMF economist Anne Krueger has gone so far as to say that it is “really dire”…
“The situation is dire, and I mean really dire,” said former IMF economist Anne Krueger, co-author of the report commissioned by the U.S. territory, which recommended debt restructuring, tax hikes and spending cuts. “The needed measures may face political resistance but failure to address the issues would affect even more the people of Puerto Rico.”
So who is going to get left holding the bag?
As I mentioned at the top of this article, major U.S. financial institutions are very heavily exposed. Income from Puerto Rican bonds is exempt from state and federal taxation, and so that made them very attractive to many U.S. investors. According to USA Today, there are 180 mutual funds that have “at least 5% of their portfolios in Puerto Rican bonds”…
The inability of the U.S. territory to repay its debt, combined with the financial crisis in Greece, would have far-reaching implications for financial markets and unsuspecting American investors. Morningstar, an investment research firm based in Chicago, estimated in 2013 that 180 mutual funds in the United States and elsewhere have at least 5% of their portfolios in Puerto Rican bonds.
It is important to keep in mind that many of these financial institutions are very highly leveraged. So just a “couple of percentage points” could mean the different between life and death for some of these firms.
And unlike what is happening with Greece, the private financial institutions that hold Puerto Rican bonds are not likely to be very eager to “negotiate”. In fact, the largest holder of Puerto Rican debt has already stated that it is very much against any kind of restructuring…
U.S. fund manager OppenheimerFunds, the largest holder of Puerto Rico debt among U.S. municipal bond funds, warned the island it stands ready to defend the terms of bonds it holds, a day after the governor said he wanted to restructure debt and postpone bond payments.
What Oppenheimer is essentially saying is that it does not plan to give Puerto Rico any slack at all. Here is more from the article that I just quoted above…
OppenheimerFunds, with about $4.5 billion exposure to Puerto Rico according to Morningstar, said it believed the island could repay bondholders while providing essential services to citizens and growing the economy. It said it stood ready “to defend the previously agreed to terms in each and every bond indenture.”
“We are disheartened that Governor Padilla, in a public forum, has called for negotiations with other creditors, representing and including the millions of individual Americans that hold Puerto Rico municipal bonds,” a spokesman for Oppenheimer said in a statement.
But Puerto Rico simply does not have the money to meet all of their debt obligations.
So somebody is not going to get paid at some point.
When that happens, those that insure Puerto Rican bonds are also going to take tremendous losses. The following comes from a recent piece by Stephen Flood…
Now, bondholders are at risk as are the funds which hold Puerto Rican bonds and, more importantly, those who insure them in the derivatives market.
Dave Kranzler, from Investment Research Dynamics has warned that there are signs that the Puerto Rico situation may not remain a local crisis for much longer.
He points out that share prices of MBIA, the bond insurers, have been plummeting. MBIA are valued at $3.9 billion whereas their exposure to Puerto Rican debt is around $4.5 billion. Kranzler reckons their exposure could even be multiples of that figure. A default could wipe them out.
He also points out that the firm’s largest shareholders are Warburg Pincus, the firm to which Timothy Geithner went after his stint as Treasury Secretary, when he helped paper over the chasms opening up in the financial system.
Did you notice the word “derivatives” in that quote?
Hmmm – who has been writing endless articles warning about the danger of derivatives for years?
Who has been warning that “this gigantic time bomb is going to go off and absolutely cripple the entire global financial system“?
When Puerto Rico defaults, bond insurers are going to be expected to step up and make huge debt service payments to investors.
But this just might bankrupt some of these big bond insurers. In fact, we have already started to see the stock prices of some of these bond insurers begin to plummet. The following comes from the Wall Street Journal…
Bond insurers MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc. are down again Tuesday as concerns over Puerto Rico’s ability to repay its debt multiply.
Investors fear that both firms face the potential for steep losses on their promises to backstop billions of Puerto Rico’s $72 billion of debt.
MBIA’s stock closed down 23% Monday, and fell more than 10% before rebounding Tuesday. By late afternoon, the stock was down 6%. Ambac’s stock fell 12% Monday and was off 14% Tuesday.
Of course Puerto Rico is just the tip of the iceberg of the coming debt crisis in the western hemisphere, just like Greece is just the tip of the iceberg of the coming debt crisis in Europe.
So stay tuned, because the second half of 2015 has now begun, and the remainder of this calendar year promises to be extremely “interesting”.
Europe is on the verge of a horrifying financial meltdown, and there are only a few short weeks left to avert total disaster. On Monday, talks that were supposed to bring about yet another temporary “resolution” to the Greek debt crisis completely fell apart. The new Greek government has entirely rejected the idea of a six month extension of the current bailout. The Greeks want a new deal which would enable them to implement the promises that have been made to the voters. But that is not going to fly with the Germans, among others. They expect the Greeks to fulfill the obligations that were agreed to previously. The two sides are not even in the same ballpark at this point, and things are starting to get very personal. It is no secret that the new Greek government does not like the Germans, and the Germans are not particularly fond of the Greeks at this point. But unless they can find a way to work out a deal, things could get quite messy very rapidly. The Greek government has about three weeks of cash left, and any changes to the current bailout arrangement would have to be approved by parliaments all over Europe by March 1st. And the stakes are incredibly high. If there is no deal, we could see a Greek debt default, Greece could be forced to leave the eurozone and go back to the drachma, the euro could collapse to all time lows, all the banks all over Europe that are exposed to Greek government debt could be faced with absolutely massive losses, and the 26 trillion dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to the value of the euro could start to unravel. In essence, if things go badly this could be enough to push us into a global financial crisis.
On Monday, eurozone officials tried to get the Greeks to extend the current bailout package for six months with the current austerity provisions in place. Greek government officials responded by saying that “those who bring this back are wasting their time” and that those negotiating on behalf of the eurozone are being “unreasonable”…
A Greek government official said that a draft text presented to eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday spoke of Greece extending its current bailout package and as such was “unreasonable” and would not be accepted.
Without specifying who put forward the text to the meeting chaired by Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the official said: “Some people’s insistence on the Greek government implementing the bailout is unreasonable and cannot be accepted.”
Most observers have speculated that the new Greek government would give in to the demands of the rest of the eurozone when push came to shove.
But these new Greek politicians are a different breed. They are not establishment lackeys. Rather, they are very principled radicals, and they are not about to be pushed around. I certainly do not agree with their politics, but I admire the fact that they are willing to stand up for what they believe. That is a very rare thing these days.
On Monday, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis shared the following in the New York Times…
I am often asked: What if the only way you can secure funding is to cross your red lines and accept measures that you consider to be part of the problem, rather than of its solution? Faithful to the principle that I have no right to bluff, my answer is: The lines that we have presented as red will not be crossed.
Does that sound like a man that is going to back down to you?
Meanwhile, the other side continues to dig in as well.
Just consider the words of the German finance minister…
Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, accused the Greek government of “behaving irresponsibly” by threatening to tear up agreements made with the eurozone in return for access to the loans which are all that stand between Greece and financial collapse.
“It seems like we have no results so far. I’m quite skeptical. The Greek government has not moved, apparently,” he said.
“As long as the Greek government doesn’t want a program, I don’t have to think about options.”
Global financial markets are still acting as if they fully expect a deal to get done eventually.
I am not so sure.
And without a doubt, time is running short. As I mentioned above, something has got to be finalized by March 1st. The following comes from the Wall Street Journal…
Any changes to the content or expiration date of Greece’s existing €240 billion ($273 billion) bailout have to be decided by Friday, to give national parliaments in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands enough time to approve them before the end of the month. Without such a deal, Greece will be on its own on March 1, cut loose from the rescue loans from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund that have sustained it for almost five years.
So what happens if there is no deal and Greece is forced to leave the eurozone?
Below, I have shared an excerpt from an article that details what Capital Economics believes would happen in the event of a “Grexit”…
- The drachma would be back. The euro would be effectively abandoned, and Greece would return to the drachma, its previous currency (it might take a new name). The drachma would likely tumble in value against the euro as soon as it was issued, and how much the government could print quickly would be a big issue.
- It would have to be fast, with capital controls. There would be people trying to pull their money out of Greece’s banks en masse. The Greek government would have to make that illegal pretty quickly. The European Central Bank drew up Grexit plans in 2012, and might be dusting them off now.
- European life support for Greek banks would be withdrawn. Greek banks can currently access emergency liquidity assistance from the ECB, which would be removed if Greece left the euro.
- Likely unrest and disorder. Barclays expects that this sudden economic collapse would “aggravate social unrest”, and notes that historically similar moves have caused a 45-85% devaluation of the currency. Capital Economics suggests that the drop could be more mild, closer to 20%, and Oxford Economics says 30%.
- Greece would resume economic policymaking. Greece’s central bank would probably start doing its own QE programme, and the government would likely return to running deficits, no longer restrained by bailout rules (though investors would probably want large returns, given the risk of another default).
- Inflation would spike immediately, but both Capital Economics and Oxford Economics say that should be temporary. It might look a bit like Russia this year — with the new currency in freefall until it finds its level against the euro, prices inside Greece would rise at dramatic speed. The inflation might be temporary, however, because with unemployment above 20%, Greece has plenty of spare labour slack to produce more.
That certainly does not sound good.
And once Greece leaves, everyone would be wondering who is next, because there are quite a few other deeply financially troubled nations in the eurozone.
David Stockman believes that Spain is a prime candidate…
In spite of the “recovery” in Spain, close to 24% are still unemployed. That statistic explains Pessimism in the Streets.
The crisis is here to stay according to significant majority of Spaniards. The general perception is that the current situation in which the country is negative and far from getting better, can only stay stagnant or even worse.
A Metroscopia poll published in El País makes it clear that the Spanish are unhappy with the current state of the country. Five out of six (83%) see the economic situation as “bad”, while more than half of the remaining perceive “regular”.
Right now, Europe is already teetering on the brink of an economic depression.
If this Greek debt crisis is not resolved, it could set in motion a chain of events which could start collapsing financial institutions all over Europe.
Yes, we have been here before and a deal has always emerged in the end.
But this time is different. This time very idealistic radicals are running things in Greece, and the “old guard” in Europe has no intention of giving in to them.
So let’s watch and see how this game of “chicken” plays out.
I have a feeling that it is not going to end well.
Over the past decade, there has been only one other time when the value of the U.S. dollar has increased by so much in such a short period of time. That was in mid-2008 – just before the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression. A surging U.S. dollar also greatly contributed to the Latin American debt crisis of the early 1980s and the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Today, the globe is more interconnected than ever. Most global trade is conducted in U.S. dollars, and much of the borrowing done by emerging markets all over the planet is denominated in U.S. dollars. When the U.S. dollar goes up dramatically, this can put a tremendous amount of financial stress on economies all around the world. It also has the potential to greatly threaten the stability of the 65 trillion dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to the value of the U.S. dollar. The global financial system is more vulnerable to currency movements than ever before, and history tells us that when the U.S. dollar soars the global economy tends to experience a contraction. So the fact that the U.S. dollar has been skyrocketing lately is a very, very bad sign.
Most of the people that write about the coming economic collapse love to talk about the coming collapse of the U.S. dollar as well.
But in the initial deflationary stage of the coming financial crisis, we are likely to see the U.S. dollar actually strengthen considerably.
As I have discussed so many times before, we are going to experience deflation first, and after that deflationary phase the desperate responses by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government to that deflation will cause the inflationary panic that so many have written about.
Yes, someday the U.S. dollar will essentially be toilet paper. But that is not in our immediate future. What is in our immediate future is a “flight to safety” that will push the surging U.S. dollar even higher.
This is what we witnessed in 2008, and this is happening once again right now.
Just look at the chart that I have posted below. You can see the the U.S. dollar moved upward dramatically relative to other currencies starting in mid-2008. And toward the end of the chart you can see that the U.S. dollar is now experiencing a similar spike…
At the moment, almost every major currency in the world is falling relative to the U.S. dollar.
For example, this next chart shows what the euro is doing relative to the dollar. As you can see, the euro is in the midst of a stunning decline…
Instead of focusing on the U.S. dollar, those that are looking for a harbinger of the coming financial crisis should be watching the euro. As I discussed yesterday, analysts are telling us that if Greece leaves the eurozone the EUR/USD could fall all the way down to 0.90. If that happens, the chart above will soon resemble a waterfall.
And of course it isn’t just the euro that is plummeting. The yen has been crashing as well. The following chart was recently posted on the Crux…
Unfortunately, most Americans have absolutely no idea how important all of this is. In recent years, growing economies all over the world have borrowed gigantic piles of very cheap U.S. dollars. But now they are faced with the prospect of repaying those debts and making interest payments using much more expensive U.S. dollars.
Investors are starting to get nervous. At one time, investors couldn’t wait to pour money into emerging markets, but now this process is beginning to reverse. If this turns into a panic, we are going to have one giant financial mess on our hands.
The truth is that the value of the U.S. dollar is of great importance to every nation on the face of the Earth. The following comes from U.S. News & World Report…
In the early ’80s, a bullish U.S. dollar contributed to the Latin American debt crisis, and also impacted the Asian Tiger crisis in the late ’90s. Emerging markets typically have higher growth, but carry much higher risk to investors. When the economies are doing well, foreign investors will lend money to emerging market countries by purchasing their bonds.
They also deposit money in foreign banks, which facilitates higher lending. The reason for this is simple: Bond payments and interest rates in emerging markets are much higher than in the U.S. Why deposit cash in the U.S. and earn 0.25 percent, when you could earn 6 percent in Indonesia? With the dollar strengthening, the interest payments on any bond denominated in U.S. dollars becomes more expensive.
Additionally, the deposit in the Indonesian bank may still be earning 6 percent, but that is on Indonesian rupiahs. After converting the rupiahs to U.S. dollars, the extra interest doesn’t offset the loss from the exchange. As investors get nervous, the higher interest on emerging market debt and deposits becomes less alluring, and they flee to safety. It may start slowly, but history tells us it can quickly spiral out of control.
Over the past few months, I have been repeatedly stressing that so many of the signs that we witnessed just prior to previous financial crashes are happening again.
Now you can add the skyrocketing U.S. dollar to that list.
If you have not seen my previous articles where I have discussed these things, here are some places to get started…
“Guess What Happened The Last Time The Price Of Oil Crashed Like This?…”
“Not Just Oil: Guess What Happened The Last Time Commodity Prices Crashed Like This?…”
“10 Key Events That Preceded The Last Financial Crisis That Are Happening Again RIGHT NOW”
The warnings signs are really starting to pile up.
When we look back at past financial crashes, there are recognizable patterns that can be identified.
Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that a large number of those patterns are unfolding once again right before our eyes.
Unfortunately, most people in this world end up believing exactly what they want to believe.
No matter how much evidence you show them, they will not accept the truth until it is too late.
Never before has the world faced such a serious debt crisis. Yes, in the past there have certainly been nations that have gotten into trouble with debt, but we have never had a situation where virtually all of the major powers around the globe were all drowning in debt at the same time. And what makes this crisis even more unprecedented is that everyone on the planet is using fiat currency that is backed up by nothing. It is all just a bunch of paper and data points that people have faith in. Right now, confidence in this system is being shaken as debt levels skyrocket to extremely dangerous levels. Many are openly wondering how much longer this can possibly go on.
Just consider what is going on over in Europe right now. Even the countries that have supposedly “tried austerity” continue to rack up debt at a mind blowing pace. New numbers that have just been released show that government debt to GDP ratios for some of the most financially troubled nations in Europe are absolutely soaring…
- Euroarea: 92.2%, up from 88.2% a year ago
- Greece: 160.5%, up from 136.5% a year ago
- Italy: 130.3%; up from 123.8% a year ago
- Portugal: 127.2%, up from 112.3% a year ago
- Ireland: 125.1%, up from 106.8% a year ago
- Spain: 88.2%, up from 73.0% a year ago
- Netherlands: 72.0%, up from 66.7% a year ago
Meanwhile, the debt to GDP ratio in Japan is now well past the 200% mark and continues to march upward with no apparent end in sight. The following is from a recent MSN article…
In Japan, the good news is that the nation’s budget for the fiscal year, which started on April 1, will see the government raise a higher percentage of spending from tax revenue than at any other time in the past four years. The bad news is that the government will still cover 46.3% of its spending from borrowing. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that Japan’s budget deficit for 2013 amounted to 10.3% of gross domestic product.
In China, the big problem is the absolutely stunning growth of private domestic debt. According to a recent World Bank report, the total amount of credit in China has risen from 9 trillion dollars in 2008 to 23 trillion dollars today.
That increase is roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. commercial banking system.
According to financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, the ratio of private domestic debt to GDP in China is now wildly out of control…
The 160pc debt ratio for China is based on a conservative measure of credit. Fitch says it is 200pc if you count all offshore vehicles, trusts, letters of credit etc.
This morning China Securities Journal – an arm of the regulators – said it may really be 221pc.
Well, what about the United States?
As I noted the other day, our ratio of federal government debt to GDP has shot up like a rocket since 2008…
At this point, the U.S. already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain. It is a giant mess, and yet our politicians continue to recklessly spend more money.
And of course state and local governments all over the nation are drowning in debt too. The bankruptcy of Detroit is forcing people to come to grips with how bad things really are. Sadly, as Meredith Whitney explained the other day, there are going to be a lot more municipal bankruptcies coming down the pipeline…
As jarring as the reality may be to accept, Detroit’s decision last week to declare bankruptcy should not be regarded as a one-off in the US municipal market – which is what the bond-peddlers are now telling their clients. The aftershocks of the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history will be staggering, and Detroit will set important precedents.
Municipal bankruptcies have historically been rare for a number of reasons – including the states’ determination to preserve their credit ratings, their access to cheap funding and the stigma of bankruptcy. But, these days, things are very different in the world of municipal finance.
At the root of the problem is the incentive system that elected officials used to face. For decades, across the US, local leaders ran up tabs for future taxpayers; they promised pensions and other benefits for public employees that have strong legal protection. That has been a great source of patronage for elected officials: they can promise all sorts of future perks to loyal supporters (state and local workers) with very little accountability on the delivery of those promises.
And of course the overall debt level in the United States continues to grow much, much faster than our overall economy is growing.
The greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet is still expanding.
How long will it be before it bursts?
That is a very good question. For now, our “leaders” appear to just be trying to keep the party going for as long as possible. They know that if they suddenly change course hard times will hit almost immediately. For example, just check out what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress last week…
With the economy still facing risks, especially from government spending cuts, Bernanke told a congressional panel on Wednesday the Fed is still planning to trim its quantitative easing stimulus, if growth continues at a steady pace.
But expectations that the Fed was poised to start tightening monetary policy, which have sent interest rates jumping and sparked turmoil in global markets, were unwarranted, he stressed.
“I don’t think the Fed can get interest rates up very much, because the economy is weak, inflation rates are low,” Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee.
“If we were to tighten policy, the economy would tank.”
Nobody wants the economy to “tank”, but the truth is that the more debt that we run up, the larger our long-term economic problems become.
And a growing percentage of Americans realize that something has seriously gone wrong. According to a recent Pew Research survey, 44% of all Americans believe that an economic recovery is still “a long way off“.
Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is that we are already living in the “economic recovery”.
This is about as good as it is going to get.
The truth is that the real storm has not even hit yet. When the debt bubble finally bursts, we are going to see economic chaos in this country unlike anything that we have ever experienced before.
I hope that you are getting ready.
Why are so many politicians around the world declaring that the debt crisis is “over” when debt to GDP ratios all over the planet continue to skyrocket? The global economy has never seen anything like the sovereign debt bubble that we are experiencing today. The United States, Japan, and nearly every major nation in Europe are absolutely drowning in debt. We have heard a lot about “austerity” over in Europe in recent years, but debt to GDP ratios continue to rise in Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal. In general, most economists consider a debt to GDP ratio of 100% to be a “danger level”, and most of the economies of the western world have either already surpassed that level or are rapidly approaching it. Of course the biggest debt offender of all in many ways is the United States. The U.S. debt to GDP ratio has risen from 66.6 percent to 103 percent since 2007, and the U.S. government accumulated more new debt during Barack Obama’s first term than it did under the first 42 U.S. presidents combined. This insane sovereign debt bubble will continue to expand until a day of reckoning arrives and the system implodes. Nobody knows exactly when that moment will be reached, but without a doubt it is coming.
But if you listen to the mainstream media in the United States, you would be tempted to think that this giant bubble of debt is not much of a concern at all. For example, in a recent article in the Washington Post entitled “The case for deficit optimism“, Ezra Klein wrote the following…
“Here’s a secret: For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.”
How many times have we heard that before?
About a decade ago, government officials were projecting that we would be swimming in gigantic government surpluses by now.
Instead, we are running trillion dollar deficits.
But right now there is a lot of optimism about the economy. The stock market recently hit a 5 year high and the business community is loving all of the false prosperity that all of this debt is buying us.
Even Warren Buffett does not really seem concerned about the exploding U.S. government debt. He recently made the following statement…
“It is not a good thing to have it going up in relation to GDP. That should be stabilized. But the debt itself is not a problem.”
A debt of 16 trillion dollars “is not a problem”?
Perhaps we should all run our finances that way.
Why don’t we all go out and open up 20 different credit cards, run them all up to the max, and then tell the credit card companies that we can’t pay them back but that it “is not a problem”.
Of course real life does not work that way.
The truth is that government debt is becoming a monstrous problem all over the globe. Just check out how debt to GDP ratios all over the planet have grown over the past five years…
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 66.6 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 103 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 43.4 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 85.0 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 63.7 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 86 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 67.6 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 80.5 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 39.6 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 69.3 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 24.8 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 106.4 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 63.9 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 108.1 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 106.6 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 120.7 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 106.1 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 170.6 percent
The Eurozone As A Whole
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 68.4 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 87.3 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2007: 172.1 percent
Debt to GDP ratio in 2012: 211.7 percent
So how does all of this end?
Well, it is going to be messy, but it is very difficult to say exactly when the system will collapse under the weight of too much debt. Some nations, such as Japan, are able to handle very high debt loads because they have a very high level of domestic saving. Up to this point, an astounding 95 percent of all Japanese government bonds have been purchased domestically. But other nations collapse under the weight of government debt even before they reach a debt to GDP ratio of 100%. The following is an excerpt from a recent Congressional Research Service report…
It is hard to predict at what point bond holders would deem it to be unsustainable. A few other advanced economies have debt-to-GDP ratios higher than that of the United States. Some of those countries in Europe have recently seen their financing costs rise to the point that they are unable to finance their deficits solely through private markets. But Japan has the highest debt-to-GDP ratio of any advanced economy, and it has continued to be able to finance its debt at extremely low costs.
When a government runs up massive amounts of debt, it is playing with fire. You can pile up mountains of government debt for a while, but eventually it catches up with you.
Over the past 10 years, the U.S. national debt has grown by an average of 9.3 percent per year, but the overall U.S. economy has only grown by an average of just 1.8 percent per year. That is unsustainable by definition.
There is going to be a tremendous price to pay for the debt binge that the U.S. government has indulged in over the past decade. During Barack Obama’s first term, the amount of new debt accumulated by the federal government breaks down to about $50,521 for every single household in the United States. That is utter insanity.
If you can believe it, we have accumulated more new government debt under Obama than we did from the inauguration of George Washington to the end of the Clinton administration.
And most Americans realize that something is seriously wrong. One recent poll found that only 34 percent of all Americans believe that the country is heading in the right direction, and 60 percent of all Americans believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction.
If we keep piling up so much debt, at some point a moment of great crisis will arrive. When that moment arrives, we could see havoc throughout the entire global financial system. For instance, most people don’t really understand the key role that U.S. Treasuries play in the derivatives market. The following is from a recent article posted on Zero Hedge…
This time around, things will be far worse if nothing is solved. If the US loses another AAA rating, then the financial markets could face systemic risk. The reason for this is that US Treasuries are one of the senior most forms of collateral used by the banks to backstop the $600+ trillion derivatives market.
As any trader who trades on margin can tell you, when the value of your collateral is called into question, those on the other side of the trade come looking for you to put up more capital on your trades. This can result in assets being sold en masse (similar to what happened after Lehman failed) and things can get very ugly very fast.
For much more on the danger that derivatives pose to our financial system, please see this article: “The Coming Derivatives Panic That Will Destroy Global Financial Markets“.
Once again, nobody knows exactly when the sovereign debt bubble will burst, but if we continue down the path that we are currently on, it will inevitably happen at some point.
And according to Professor Carmen Reinhart, when this bubble does burst things could unravel very rapidly…
“These processes are not linear,” warns Prof. Reinhart. “You can increase debt for a while and nothing happens. Then you hit the wall, and—bang!—what seem to be minor shocks that the markets would shrug off in other circumstances suddenly become big.”
At some point the global financial system will hit the wall that Professor Reinhart has warned about.
Are you ready?
What if there was a financial system that would eliminate the need for the federal government to go into debt, that would eliminate the need for the Federal Reserve, that would end the practice of fractional reserve banking and that would dethrone the big banks? Would you be in favor of such a system? A surprising new IMF research paper entitled “The Chicago Plan Revisited” by Jaromir Benes and Michael Kumhof is making waves in economic circles all over the globe. The paper suggests that the world would be much better off if we adopted a system where the banks did not create our money. So instead of a system where more money is only created when more debt is created, we would have a system of debt-free money that is created directly by national governments. There have been others that have suggested such a system before, but to have an IMF research paper actually recommend that such a system be adopted is a very big deal. At the moment, the world is experiencing the biggest debt crisis in human history, and this proposal is being described as a “radical solution” that could potentially remedy some of our largest financial problems. Unfortunately, apologists for the current system are already viciously attacking this new IMF paper, and of course the big banks would throw a major fit if such a system was ever to be seriously contemplated. That is why it is imperative that we educate people about how money really works. Our current system is in the process of collapsing and we desperately need to transition to a new one.
One of the fundamental problems with our current financial system is that it is based on debt. Just take a look at the United States. The way our system works today, the vast majority of all money is “created” either when we borrow money or the government borrows money. Therefore, the creation of more money creates more debt. Under such a system, it should not be surprising that the total amount of debt in the United States is more than 30 times larger than it was just 40 years ago.
We don’t have to do things this way. There is a better alternative. National governments can directly issue debt-free currency into circulation. The following is a brief excerpt from the IMF report…
At the height of the Great Depression a number of leading U.S. economists advanced a proposal for monetary reform that became known as the Chicago Plan. It envisaged the separation of the monetary and credit functions of the banking system, by requiring 100% reserve backing for deposits. Irving Fisher (1936) claimed the following advantages for this plan: (1) Much better control of a major source of business cycle fluctuations, sudden increases and contractions of bank credit and of the supply of bank-created money. (2) Complete elimination of bank runs. (3) Dramatic reduction of the (net) public debt. (4) Dramatic reduction of private debt, as money creation no longer requires simultaneous debt creation. We study these claims by embedding a comprehensive and carefully calibrated model of the banking system in a DSGE model of the U.S. economy. We find support for all four of Fisher’s claims.
Why should banks be allowed to create money?
That is a very good question.
Why should sovereign governments ever have to borrow money from anyone?
That is another very good question.
Our current system is designed to enrich the bankers and get everyone else into debt.
And is that not exactly what has happened?
Taking the creation of money away from the bankers would have some tremendous advantages. A recent article by renowned financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard described some of these benefits…
One could slash private debt by 100pc of GDP, boost growth, stabilize prices, and dethrone bankers all at the same time. It could be done cleanly and painlessly, by legislative command, far more quickly than anybody imagined.
The conjuring trick is to replace our system of private bank-created money — roughly 97pc of the money supply — with state-created money. We return to the historical norm, before Charles II placed control of the money supply in private hands with the English Free Coinage Act of 1666.
Specifically, it means an assault on “fractional reserve banking”. If lenders are forced to put up 100pc reserve backing for deposits, they lose the exorbitant privilege of creating money out of thin air.
The nation regains sovereign control over the money supply. There are no more banks runs, and fewer boom-bust credit cycles.
So why don’t we go to such a system immediately?
Well, the transition to such a system would undoubtedly be a major shock to the global financial system, and most people try to avoid significant short-term pain even if there are tremendous long-term benefits.
More importantly, however, is that the bankers have a tremendous amount of power in our society today, and they would move heaven and earth to keep a debt-free monetary system from ever being implemented.
You see, the influence of the bankers is not just limited to the big banks. Our largest financial institutions (and the people who own them) also have large ownership stakes in the vast majority of the big Fortune 500 corporations. In essence, the big banks are at the very pinnacle of “the establishment” in the United States and in almost every other major country in the western world.
And the vast majority of all political campaigns are funded by “the establishment”. It takes an enormous amount of money to win campaigns these days, and most politicians are extremely hesitant to bite the hands of those that feed them.
So don’t expect any changes to happen overnight.
One proposal that has actually been put forward in Congress is to cancel all of the government debt that the Federal Reserve is currently holding. Right now, the Fed is holding more than 1.6 trillion dollars of U.S. government debt…
That would seem to make a lot of sense. That would immediately wipe more than 1.6 trillion dollars from the U.S. national debt without any real harm being done.
But “the establishment” would be horrified if such a thing happened, so I wouldn’t anticipate it happening any time soon.
Hopefully we can get the American people (along with people all over the globe) educated about these things so that we can start to get millions of people pushing for change.
A debt-free monetary system is superior to a debt-based monetary system in so many ways.
For example, if the U.S. government directly spent debt-free money into circulation, it could conceivably never need to borrow a single dollar ever again. If the government wanted to spend more money than it brought in, it would simply print it up and spend it.
Of course the big danger with that would be inflation. That is why it would be imperative for there to be a hard cap on what the government could spend. For example, you could set the cap on spending by the federal government at 20 percent of GDP. That way we would never end up looking like the Weimar Republic.
And the current federal debt could be paid down a little at a time using newly created debt-free dollars. This would have to be done slowly to keep inflation under control, but it could be done.
That way we would not hand a 16 trillion dollar debt to our children and our grandchildren. We created this mess so we should clean it up.
Theoretically you could also do away with the federal income tax if you wanted to. Personally, I would like to see the federal government be funded to a large degree by tariffs on foreign goods. That would also have the side benefit of bringing millions of jobs back into the United States.
Our system of income tax collection is just so incredibly inefficient. It costs us mind boggling amounts of time and money. Just consider the following stats from one of my previous articles…
1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long. If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.
2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements. Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.
3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long. Today, they are 189 pages long.
4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade. It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.
5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.
6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly. For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household. All 46 of them came up with a different result.
7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household. All five of them came up with a different result.
8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.
For long stretches of our history the United States did not have any income tax, and during those times we thrived. It is entirely conceivable that we could return to such a system.
At this point, the wealthy have become absolute masters at hiding their wealth from taxation. According to the IMF, a total of 18 trillion dollars is currently being hidden in offshore banks. What we are doing right now produces very inequitable results and it is not working.
In many ways, inflation would be a much fairer “tax” than the income tax because inflation taxes each dollar equally. Nobody would be able to cheat the system.
But if people really love the IRS and the federal income tax, we could keep them under a debt-free money system. I just happen to think that the IRS and the federal income tax are both really bad ideas that have never served the interests of the American people.
In any event, hopefully you can see that there is a much broader range of solutions to our problems than the two major political parties have been presenting to us.
We do not have to allow the banks to create our money.
The federal government does not have to go into more debt.
We don’t actually need the Federal Reserve.
There are alternatives to the federal income tax and the IRS.
Yes, it is very true that no system would be perfect. But clearly the path that we are on is only going to lead to disaster. U.S. government finances are a complete and total nightmare, and this mountain of debt that we have accumulated is going to absolutely destroy us if we allow it to.
So somebody out there should be proposing a fundamental change in direction for our financial system.
Unfortunately, our politicians are just proposing more of the same, and we all know where that is going to lead.
It turns out that the poster child for the European debt crisis is not actually poor at all. In fact, the truth is that the nation of Greece is sitting on absolutely massive untapped reserves of gold, oil and natural gas. If the Greeks were to fully exploit the natural resources that are literally right under their feet, they would no longer have any debt problems. Fortunately, this recent economic crisis has spurred them to action and it is now being projected that Greece will be the number one gold producer in Europe by 2016. In addition, Greece is now opening up exploration of their massive oil and natural gas deposits. Reportedly, Greece is sitting on hundreds of millions of barrels of oil and gigantic natural gas deposits that are worth trillions of dollars. It is truly sad that Greece should be one of the wealthiest nations in all of Europe but instead the country is going through the worst economic depression that it has experienced in modern history. It is kind of like a homeless man that sleeps on the streets every night without realizing that a relative has left him an inheritance worth millions of dollars. Greece is not poor at all, and hopefully the people of Greece can learn the truth about all of this wealth and chart a course out of this current mess.
I have written extensively about the nightmarish economic conditions that Greece is experiencing right now. Just check out this article, this article and this article. Since the depression began in Greece, the Greek economy has contracted by more than 20 percent. In April 2010, the unemployment rate in Greece was only 11.8 percent. Since then it has skyrocketed to 25.1 percent.
The government debt to GDP ratio in Greece is projected to hit 198 percent this year, and there are persistent rumors that Greece will be forced to leave the euro.
But all of this is completely and totally unnecessary. Greece is not actually poor at all. In fact, after you account for untapped natural resources, Greece is actually one of the wealthiest nations in all of Europe.
According to Bloomberg, there is a massive amount of gold in Greece. This recent economic crisis has accelerated the approval of mining activity, and it is now being projected that Greece will soon be the number one gold producing country in all of Europe…
Gold mining is gathering momentum after Greece began what it called a “fast-track” approvals program. The Canadian and Australian companies said their projects will add about 425,000 ounces by 2016, worth $757 million at the Oct. 5 spot price, to the 16,000 ounces the country produced in 2011.
“There’s clearly evidence that Greece has woken up to the potential of their mining industry,” said Jeremy Wrathall, chairman of Perth-based Glory Resources. “Politicians increasingly realize that a pro-mining stance is appropriate due to job creation potential.”
Greece, which is also fast-tracking state property sales, is set to overtake Finland as the continent’s largest gold producer within four years, as regulators in Athens sign off on mines kept on hold for more than a decade by red tape and environmental rules.
But Greece doesn’t just have gold. Greece is also swimming in oil and natural gas. It turns out that Greece is sitting on the western edge of an absolutely mammoth sub-Mediterranean oil and gas field, and there are also huge deposits of oil and natural gas in the western parts of the country.
A Reuters article back in July discussed how foreign firms are now rushing to exploit these tremendous resources…
Greece has received eight bids by companies to search for oil and natural gas in three blocks in the western part of the country, the energy ministry said on Monday, as debt-laden Athens seeks to save money on energy imports.
Greece, which produces almost no oil or natural gas, aims to develop potential hydrocarbon reserves as part of an effort to overhaul its economy and lessen dependence on energy imports.
So exactly how much oil and natural gas does Greece have?
The numbers that are being reported so far are staggering. The following comes from a Greek news source…
Until now the offers for hydrocarbon exploration have concerned three blocks: The first is in the Gulf of Patra, the second off the coast of Katakolo — both in Western Greece — and the third at Ioannina, northwestern Greece.
Early estimates suggest that the Gulf of Patra may have 200 million barrels of crude oil, and that there are another 80 million at Ioannina and nearly 3 million off the coast of Katokolo.
Furthermore, according to the United States Geological Survey, in the sea between Crete, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, there are about 15 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and oil just waiting to be extracted.
The truth is that Greece has enough oil and natural gas to be able to pay off all of their debts. The value of the natural gas that they are sitting on alone has been estimated to be worth trillions of dollars. The following is from an article earlier this year by F. William Engdahl…
In December 2010, as it seemed the Greek crisis might still be resolved without the by-now huge bailouts or privatizations, Greece’s Energy Ministry formed a special group of experts to research the prospects for oil and gas in Greek waters. Greece’s Energean Oil & Gas began increased investment into drilling in the offshore waters after a successful smaller oil discovery in 2009. Major geological surveys were made. Preliminary estimates now are that total offshore oil in Greek waters exceeds 22 billion barrels in the Ionian Sea off western Greece and some 4 billion barrels in the northern Aegean Sea. 
The southern Aegean Sea and Cretan Sea are yet to be explored, so the numbers could be significantly higher. An earlier Greek National Council for Energy Policy report stated that “Greece is one of the least explored countries in Europe regarding hydrocarbon (oil and gas-w.e.) potentials.”  According to one Greek analyst, Aristotle Vassilakis, “surveys already done that have measured the amount of natural gas estimate it to reach some nine trillion dollars.”  Even if only a fraction of that is available, it would transform the finances of Greece and the entire region.
Tulane University oil expert David Hynes told an audience in Athens recently that Greece could potentially solve its entire public debt crisis through development of its new-found gas and oil. He conservatively estimates that exploitation of the reserves already discovered could bring the country more than €302 billion over 25 years.
So unlike several other nations in Europe, things actually look quite promising for Greece in the years ahead if they manage their resources correctly and don’t let foreigners come in and steal all of their wealth.
And perhaps this is why there is such hesitation to boot Greece out of the EU. It seems probable that many of the top politicians in Europe know about all of this gold, oil and natural gas that Greece is sitting on.
Hopefully the people of Greece will learn about this massive amount of wealth that is just under their feet. If they can figure out a way to get this wealth to start to flow into the hands of the people of Greece, a lot of their problems could be solved rather quickly and they could start to experience a massive economic turnaround.
The global debt crisis has reached a dangerous new phase. Unfortunately, most Americans are not taking notice of it yet because most of the action is taking place overseas, and because U.S. financial markets are riding high. But just because the global economic crisis is unfolding at the pace of a “slow-motion train wreck” right now does not mean that it isn’t incredibly dangerous. As I have written about previously, the economic collapse is not going to be a single event. Yes, there will be days when the Dow drops by more than 500 points. Yes, there will be days when the reporters on CNBC appear to be hyperventilating. But mostly there will be days of quiet despair as the global economic system slides even further toward oblivion. And right now things are clearly getting worse. Things in Greece are much worse than they were six months ago. Things in Spain are much worse than they were six months ago. The same thing could be said for Italy, France, Japan, Argentina and a whole bunch of other nations. The entire global economy is slowing down, and we are entering a time period that is going to be incredibly painful for everyone. At the moment, the U.S. is still experiencing a “sugar high” from unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, but when that “sugar high” wears off the hangover will be excruciating. Reckless borrowing, spending and money printing has bought us a brief period of “economic stability”, but our foolish financial decisions will also make our eventual collapse far worse than it might have been. So don’t think for a second that the U.S. will somehow escape the coming global economic crisis. The truth is that before this is all over we will be seen as one of the primary causes of the crisis.
The following are 21 signs that the global economic crisis is about to go to a whole new level….
#1 Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer says that the global economy is “awfully close” to recession.
#2 It was announced last week that the unemployment rate in Greece has reached an all-time high of 25.1 percent. Unemployment among those 24 years old or younger is now more than 54 percent. Back in April 2010, the unemployment rate in Greece was only sitting at 11.8 percent.
#3 The IMF is warning that Greek debt may have to be “restructured” yet again.
#4 Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg says that it is “probable” that Greece will leave the euro, and that it might happen within the next six months.
#5 An angry crowd of approximately 40,000 angry Greeks recently descended on Athens to protest a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel…
From high-school students to pensioners, tens of thousands of Greek demonstrators swarmed into Athens yesterday to show the visiting German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, their indignation at their country’s continued austerity measures.
Flouting the government’s ban on protests, an estimated 40,000 people – many carrying posters depicting Ms Merkel as a Nazi – descended on Syntagma Square near the parliament building. Masked youths pelted riot police with rocks as the officers responded with tear gas.
The authorities had deployed 7,000 police, water cannon and a helicopter. Snipers were placed on rooftops to ensure the German leader’s safety.
#6 The debt crisis is Argentina is becoming increasingly troublesome.
#7 The government debt to GDP ratio in Italy is expected to hit 126 percent this year. In Greece, it is expected to hit 198 percent. In Japan, it is expected to hit a whopping 237 percent.
#8 Standard & Poor’s has slashed the credit rating on Spanish government debt to BBB-, which is just one level above junk status.
#9 Back in the year 2000, the ratio of total debt to GDP in Spain was 192 percent. By 2011, it had reached 363 percent.
#10 Record amounts of money are being pulled out of Spanish banks, and many large Spanish banks are rapidly heading toward insolvency.
#11 Manufacturing activity in Spain has contracted for 17 months in a row.
#12 It is being projected that home prices in Spain will fall by another 15 percent by the end of 2013.
#13 The unemployment rate in France is now above 10 percent, and it has risen for 16 months in a row.
#14 There are signs that Switzerland may be preparing for “major civil unrest” throughout Europe.
#15 The former top economist at the European Central Bank says that the ECB has fallen into a state of “panic” as it desperately tries to solve the European debt crisis.
#16 According to a recent IMF report, European banks may need to sell off 4.5 trillion dollars in assets over the next 14 months in order to meet strict new capital requirements.
#17 In August, U.S. exports dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since last February.
#18 Economics Professor Barry Eichengreen is very concerned about what is coming next for stocks in the United States…
“I’m worried that stock markets in the United States in particular have gotten ahead of economic growth”
#19 During the week ending October 3rd, investors pulled more than 10 billion dollars out of U.S. mutual funds. Overall, a total of more than 100 billion dollars has been pulled out of U.S. mutual funds so far this year.
#20 As I wrote about the other day, the IMF is warning that there is an “alarmingly high” risk of a deeper global economic slowdown.
#21 When shipping companies start laying off workers, that is one of the best signs that economic activity is slowing down. That is why it was so troubling when it was announced that FedEx is planning to get rid of “several thousand” workers over the coming months. According to AFP, “its business is being hit by the global economic slowdown”.
For even more signs that the global economy is rapidly crumbling, please see my previous article entitled “The Largest Economy In The World Is Imploding Right In Front Of Our Eyes“.
So is anyone doing well right now?
Yes, it turns out that QE3 is padding the profits of the big banks in the United States and making the wealthy even wealthier just like I warned that it would.
According to the Washington Post, QE3 is helping the big banks much more than it is helping consumers. Is this what the Fed intended all along?…
JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, said Friday they won’t make home loans much cheaper for consumers, even as they reported booming profits from that business.
Those bottom lines have been padded by federal initiatives to stimulate the economy. The Federal Reserve is spending $40 billion a month to reduce mortgage rates to encourage Americans to buy homes. Instead, its policies may be generating more benefits for banks than borrowers.
So exactly how much has QE3 helped out the big banks? Just check out these numbers…
Revenue from mortgages was up 57 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year at JPMorgan and more than 50 percent up at Wells Fargo.
But should we expect anything else from the Federal Reserve?
The American people are trusting the Fed to protect our economy, and yet they cannot even protect their own shipments of money. In fact, the Fed recently lost a large shipment of new $100 bills.
Or perhaps could letting people steal money from their own trucks be another way that the Fed is trying to “stimulate the economy”?
Stranger things have happened.
In any event, the truth is that the U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system are unsustainable from any angle that you want to look at things.
We are drowning in government debt, we are drowning in consumer debt, Wall Street has been transformed into a high risk casino where our largest financial institutions are putting it all on the line on a daily basis, we are consuming far more than we are producing, there are more than 100 million Americans on welfare and we are stealing more than 100 million dollars an hour from future generations to pay for it all.
Anyone that believes that we are in “good shape” does not know the first thing about economics.
Sadly, the U.S. is not alone. Nations all over the globe are experiencing similar problems.
The global economic crisis is just beginning and it is going to get much, much worse.
I hope that you ready.
Summer vacation is over and things are about to get very interesting in Europe. Most Americans don’t realize this, but much of Europe shuts down for the entire month of August. I wish we had something similar in the United States. But now millions of Europeans are returning from their extended family vacations and the fun is about to begin. During August economic conditions continued to degenerate in Europe, but I figured that it wouldn’t be until after August that the European debt crisis would take center stage once again. And as I wrote about last week, if there is going to be a financial panic, it typically happens in the fall. The stock market has seen quite a nice rally over the summer, and many investors are nervous that we could see a significant “correction” very soon. The month of September has been the absolute worst month for stock performance over the past 50 years, and it has also been the absolute worst month for stock performance over the past 100 years as well. Of course that does not guarantee that anything is going to happen this year. But things in Europe continue to get worse. Unemployment rates are spiking, manufacturing activity is slowing down, housing prices are crashing and major financial institutions are failing. What is happening in Europe right now appears to be an even worse version of what happened to the United States back in 2008.
But most Americans aren’t too concerned about what is happening in Europe.
In fact, most Americans don’t believe that a European financial collapse would be much of a problem for us.
Well, just remember what happened back in 2008. When the U.S. financial system started coming apart at the seams it sparked a devastating worldwide recession which was felt in every corner of the globe.
If the European financial system implodes, the consequences could be even worse.
Europe has a larger population than the United States does.
Europe has a larger economy than the United States does.
Europe has a much, much larger banking system than the United States does.
If Europe experiences a financial collapse, the entire globe will feel the pain.
And considering how weak the U.S. economy already is, it would not take much to push us over the edge.
What is going on in Europe right now is a very, very big deal and people need to pay attention.
The following are 18 indications that Europe has become an economic black hole which is going to suck the life out of the global economy….
#1 The unemployment rate in France is up to 10 percent, and the French media is buzzing about the fact that the number of unemployed French workers has now hit the 3 million mark.
#2 The French government has just announced the nationalization of its second largest mortgage lender. Additional bailouts are likely on the way.
#3 French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen has announced that it will be cutting more than 10,000 jobs. But of course major layoff announcements like this are coming out of Europe almost every day now.
#4 Home prices in France are falling rapidly and the recent election of a socialist president has created a bit of a panic in the French housing market….
British people with homes in France were today warned that the property market is in ‘free fall’.
A combination of factors including the election of a tax-and-spend Socialist government means that prices are tumbling.
It means an end to the boom years, when thousands of Britons poured money into rental or retirement investments across the Channel.
#5 A slow-motion bank run is happening in Spain. The amount of money being pulled out of the Spanish banking system is absolutely unprecedented. The following is from a recent Zero Hedge article….
The central bank of Spain just released the net capital outflow numbers and they are disastrous. During the month of June alone $70.90 billion left the Spanish banks and in July it was worse at $92.88 billion which is 4.7% of total bank deposits in Spain. For the first seven months of the year the outflow adds up to $368.80 billion or 17.7% of the total bank deposits of Spain and the trajectory of the outflow is increasing dramatically. Reality is reality and Spain is experiencing a full-fledged run on its banks whether anyone in Europe wants to admit it or not.
If this pace keeps up, more than 600 billion dollars will be pulled out of Spanish banks by the end of the year.
Keep in mind that the GDP of Spain for all of 2011 was just 1.49 trillion dollars.
So by the end of this year we could see the equivalent of more than 40 percent of Spanish GDP pulled out of Spanish banks and sent out of the country.
In case you were wondering, yes, that is a nightmare scenario.
#6 The unemployment rate in Spain is over 25 percent. The youth unemployment rate in Spain is well over 50 percent. Spain is a tinderbox that could be set ablaze at any moment.
#7 The yield on 10 year Spanish bonds is up to 6.85 percent. This is an unsustainable level, and if rates don’t come down on Spanish debt soon it is inevitable that Spain will end up just like Greece.
#8 On Monday it was announced that Spanish banking giant Bankia will be getting an emergency “cash injection” of between 4 and 5 billion euros. Apparently “cash injection” sounds better to the politicians than “a bailout” does.
#9 The housing crash in Spain just continues to get worse. It is being reported that some homes in Spain are being sold at a 70% discount from where they were at the peak of the market back in 2006. At this point there are approximately 2 million unsold homes in Spain.
#10 There are persistent rumors that the government of Spain will soon be forced to officially ask for a bailout from the rest of Europe. But who is going to bail them out? Most of the other governments of the eurozone are on the verge of bankruptcy themselves.
#11 Manufacturing activity in Europe has contracted for 13 months in a row. The following is from a recent Reuters report….
The downturn that began in the smaller periphery members of the 17-nation bloc is now sweeping through Germany and France and the situation remained dire in the region’s third and fourth biggest economies of Italy and Spain.
“Larger nations like France and Germany remain in reverse gear… the (manufacturing) sector is on course to act as a drag on gross domestic product in the third quarter,” said Rob Dobson, senior economist at data collator Markit.
Markit’s final Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector fell from an earlier flash reading of 45.3 to 45.1, above July’s three-year low of 44.0, but notching its 13th month below the 50 mark separating growth from contraction.
#12 Chinese exports to the EU declined by 16.2 percent in July. U.S. exports to Europe have been steadily falling as well.
#13 Slovenia and Cyprus are two other eurozone members that are in desperate need of bailout money. The dominoes just keep falling and nobody seems to be able to come up with a plan to “fix” Europe.
#14 Even the “strong” economies in Europe are being dragged down now. For example, unemployment in Germany has risen for five months in a row.
#15 According to one recent poll, only about one-fourth of all Germans want Greece to remain a part of the eurozone. The odds of a breakup of the euro seem to rise with each passing day.
#16 It is now estimated that bad loans make up approximately 20 percent of all domestic loans in the Greek banking system at this point.
#17 The suicide rate in Greece is more than 30 percent higher than it was last year. People are becoming very desperate in Greece and there is no end in sight to the economic depression that they are going through.
#18 Large U.S. companies have been rapidly getting prepared for a Greek exit from the eurozone. The following is from a recent New York Times article….
Even as Greece desperately tries to avoid defaulting on its debt, American companies are preparing for what was once unthinkable: that Greece could soon be forced to leave the euro zone.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has looked into filling trucks with cash and sending them over the Greek border so clients can continue to pay local employees and suppliers in the event money is unavailable. Ford has configured its computer systems so they will be able to immediately handle a new Greek currency.
Every time European leaders get together they declare that they have “a plan” that will solve the problems that Europe is experiencing, but as we have seen things in Europe just continue to get worse with no end in sight.
A key date is coming up in the middle of this month. On September 12th, Germany’s Constitutional Court will determine the fate of the recent fiscal pact and the ESM. According to UniCredit global chief economist Erik Nielsen, if the court rules against the fiscal pact and the ESM the fallout will be catastrophic….
“If they were to surprise us by striking down Germany’s participation, I would think it’d be an utter bloodbath in markets”
But that is not the only thing that could set off a full-blown panic in the financial markets.
The truth is that Europe is teetering on the edge.
One wrong move and it is going to be 1929 all over again.
As I have maintained all along, the next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching, and this time the epicenter for the crisis is going to be in Europe.
But that does not mean that things are going to be easier for the United States than last time. We have never even come close to recovering from the last recession. Most Americans families are just barely getting by. In fact, 77 percent of them are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.
Right now there are millions of Americans that have lost their jobs and their homes in recent years and that feel forsaken by society.
After this next wave hits us there will be tens of millions of Americans feeling the pain of economic desperation.
The last wave of the economic collapse hurt us.
This next wave is going to absolutely devastate us.
Watch what is happening in Europe very carefully. What Greece, Spain, Italy and France are experiencing right now is going to hit us soon enough.