The Economic Collapse In Venezuela Is So Bad That People Are Slaughtering And Eating Zoo Animals

Black Stallion - Public DomainIf you were hungry enough, would you kill and eat zoo animals?  To most of us such a notion sounds absolutely insane, but this is actually happening in Venezuela right now.  This is a country where people are standing in lines for up to 12 hours hoping that there will be food to buy that day, and where rioting and looting have become commonplace.  So even though the U.S. economy is in dreadful shape at this moment, we should be thankful for what we have, because at least we are not experiencing a full-blown economic collapse yet like Venezuela currently is.

Black stallions can be some of the most beautiful horses on the entire planet, but things are so desperate down in Venezuela this summer that everything looks like food to some people at this point.  What happened at the Caricuao Zoo on Sunday is so horrible that I actually debated whether or not to share it with you.  Desperate people do desperate things, and when people get hungry enough they will do things such as this

Venezuela’s worsening food shortages had tragic consequences for a rare show horse last weekend, when a group of intruders broke into the zoo, pulled the black stallion from its cage, then slaughtered it for meat.

Prosecutors say the crime occurred in the small hours of Sunday morning at Caracas’ Caricuao Zoo, when “several people” sneaked into the state-run park under the cover of darkness and busted into the stallion’s pen. The horse, the only one of its kind in the zoo, was then led to a more secluded area and butchered on the spot. Only its head and ribs were left behind in a gruesome pile for zookeepers to find after sunrise.

Unfortunately, this precious animal was not even the first victim at that particular zoo.

A few weeks ago, pigs and sheep were the targets

Sadly, this horse wasn’t the first zoo animal to suffer the effects of Venezuela’s crippling food shortages. Some Vietnamese pigs and sheep were reportedly stolen from the same zoo earlier this month.

Dozens of other zoo animals are slowing starving to death because there is no food available to give to them.  In fact, it is being reported that at least 50 animals have died from lack of food at one zoo alone

At least 50 animals have died in the last six months at the Caricuao zoo in Caracas, Venezuela, due to widespread food shortages that are affecting both man and beast in the socialist nation.

Marlene Sifontes, a union leader for employees of state parks agency Inparques which oversees zoos, told Reuters that the zoo lost Vietnamese pigs, tapirs, rabbits and birds after the animals went weeks without eating. Others animals at the zoo are in danger of severe malnutrition. Lions and tigers, which should be on a carnivorous diet, are being fed mango and pumpkin just to get something in their empty stomachs, while an elephant is being fed tropical fruit instead of its usual diet of hay, the union leader said. According to one report, the big cats are being fed slaughtered thoroughbred racehorses from a nearby race track.

If what you have just read hurts your heart, let us not forget that it is not just the animals that are suffering.  There are millions of precious people down there that are living on the very edge of starvation as you read this article.

Earlier this year, one mayor came forward and admitted to the world that some people are so hungry that they are actually hunting “cats, dogs and pigeons” for food…

Ramón Muchacho, Mayor of Chacao in Caracas, said the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food.

Through Twitter, Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a “painful reality” that people “hunt cats, dogs and pigeons” to ease their hunger. People are also reportedly gathering vegetables from the ground and trash to eat as well.

The crisis in Venezuela is worsening everyday due in part to shortages reaching 70 percent […] six Venezuelan military officials were arrested for stealing goats to ease their hunger, as there was no food at the Fort Manaure military base.

With each passing week, the situation in Venezuela keeps on getting worse.

And even though the United States has made many of the exact same mistakes that Venezuela has made, most of us just assume that what is happening down there could never happen up here.

After all, we have “the greatest economy in the world” and we are “the wealthiest nation on the entire planet”, right?

Well, actually our economic infrastructure has been systematically gutted by free trade deals and we consume far more wealth than we produce.  We have artificially pumped up our standard of living by adding more than 1.1 trillion dollars a year to the national debt since Barack Obama has been in the White House, and one recent poll discovered that 62 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 saved up.

But don’t worry.  Instead of turning out like Venezuela, the mainstream media insists that the best days for America are right around the corner.

In fact, just today I came across a Business Insider article that insisted that soon our biggest economic problem will be that we won’t be able to find enough workers.

And Barbra Streisand is so thrilled that Hillary Clinton is going to be our next president that she launched into a rousing rendition of “Happy Days Are Here Again” as she kicked off her farewell tour in Los Angeles.  The following account comes from the Drudge Report

So long sad times
Go along bad times
We are rid of you at last
Howdy gay times
Cloudy gray times
You are now a thing of the past
Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let’s sing a song of cheer again…

Streisand suddenly interrupted the lyric, realizing a Democrat was currently in the White House!

“By the way, I love Obama.”

Altogether shout it now
There’s no one
Who can doubt it now
So let’s tell the world about it now
Happy days are here again

So what is the truth?

Are we going to end up just like Venezuela, or are happy days here once more?

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that we are not going to have to wait too long to find out…

Greece Has Defaulted – Which Country In Europe Is Next?

Well, it is official.  The restructuring deal between Greece and private investors has been pushed through and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association has ruled that this is a credit event which will trigger credit-default swap contracts.  The ISDA is saying that there are approximately $3.2 billion in credit-default swap contracts on Greek debt outstanding, and most analysts expect that the global financial system will be able to absorb these losses.  But still, 3.2 billion dollars is nothing to scoff at, and some of these financial institutions that wrote a lot of these contracts on Greek debt are going to be hurting.  This deal with private investors may have “rescued” Greece for the moment, but the consequences of this deal are going to be felt for years to come.  For example, now that Greece has gotten a sweet “haircut” from private investors, politicians in Portugal, Italy, Spain and other European nations are going to wonder why they shouldn’t get some “debt forgiveness” too.  Also, private investors are almost certainly going to be less likely to want to loan money to European nations from now on.  If they will be required to take a massive haircuts at some point, then why in the world would they want to lend huge amounts of money to European governments at super low interest rates?  It simply does not make sense.  Now that Greece has defaulted, the whole game is going to change.  This is just the beginning.

The “restructuring deal” was approved by approximately 84 percent of all Greek bondholders, but the key to triggering the payouts on the credit-default swaps was the fact that Greece decided to activate the “collective action clauses” which had been retroactively inserted into these bonds.  These collective action clauses force most of the rest of the bondholders to go along with this restructuring deal.

A recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard explained why so many people were upset about these “collective action clauses”….

The Greek parliament’s retroactive law last month to insert collective action clauses (CACs) into its bonds to coerce creditor hold-outs has added a fresh twist. These CAC’s are likely to be activated over coming days. Use of retroactive laws to change contracts is anathema in credit markets.

If a government can go in and retroactively change the terms of a bond just before it is ready to default, then why should private investors invest in them?

That is a very good question.

But for now the buck has been passed on to those that issued the credit-default swaps.  As mentioned above, the ISDA says that there are approximately $3.2 billion in Greek credit-default swaps that will need to be paid out.

However, that number assumes that a lot of hedges and offsetting swaps cancel each other out.  When you just look at the raw total of swaps outstanding, the number is much, much higher.  The following is from a recent article in The Huffington Post….

If you remove all hedges and offsetting swaps, there’s about $70 billion in default-insurance exposure to Greece out there, which is a little bit bigger pill for the banking system to swallow. Is it possible that some banks won’t be able to pay on their default policies? We’ll find out.

Yes, indeed.  We will find out very soon.

If some counterparties are unable to pay we could soon see some big problems cascade through the financial system.

But even with this new restructuring deal with private investors, Greece is still in really bad shape.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters recently that it “would be a big mistake to think we are out of the woods”.

Even with this new deal, Greek debt is still projected to be only reduced to 120 percent of GDP by the year 2020.  And that number relies on projections that are almost unbelievably optimistic.

In addition, there are still a whole host of very strict conditions that the Greek government must meet in order to continue getting bailout money.

Also, the upcoming Greek elections in just a few weeks could bring this entire process to an end in just a single day.

So the crisis in Greece is a long way from over.

The Greek economy has been in recession for five years in a row and it continues to shrink at a frightening pace.  Greek GDP was 7.5 percent smaller during the 4th quarter of 2011 than it was during the 4th quarter of 2010.

Unemployment in Greece also continues to get worse.

The average unemployment rate in Greece in 2010 was 12.5 percent.  During 2011, the average unemployment rate was 17.3 percent, and in December the unemployment rate in Greece was 21.0 percent.

Young people are getting hit the hardest.  The youth unemployment rate in Greece is up to an all-time record of 51.1 percent.

The suicide rate in Greece is also at an all-time record high.

Unfortunately, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for Greece at this point.  The latest round of austerity measures that are now being implemented will slow the economy down even more.

Sadly, several other countries in Europe are going down the exact same road that Greece has gone.

Investors all over the globe are wondering which one will be the “next Greece”.

Some believe that it will be Portugal.  The following is from a recent article in The Telegraph….

“The rule of law has been treated with contempt,” said Marc Ostwald from Monument Securities. “This will lead to litigation for the next ten years. It has become a massive impediment for long-term investors, and people will now be very wary about Portugal.”

Right now, the combination of all public and private debt in Portugal comes to a grand total of 360 percent of GDP.

In Greece, the combined total of all public and private debt is about 100 percentage points less than that.

So yes, Portugal is heading for a world of hurt.  The following is more about Portugal from the recent Telegraph article mentioned above….

Citigroup expects the economy to contract by 5.7pc this year, warning that bondholders may face a 50pc haircut by the end of the year. Portugal’s €78bn loan package from the EU-IMF Troika is already large enough to crowd out private creditors, reducing them to ever more junior status.

So why should anyone invest in Portuguese debt at this point?

Or Italian debt?

Or Spanish debt?

Or any European debt at all?

The truth is that the European financial system is a house of cards that could come crashing down at any time.

German economist Hans-Werner Sinn is even convinced that the European Central Bank itself could collapse.

There is a Der Spiegel article that everyone out there should read.  It is entitled “Euro-Zone Central Bank System Massively Imbalanced“. It is quite technical, but if this German economist is correct, the implications are staggering.

The following is from the first paragraph of the article….

More than a year ago, German economist Hans-Werner Sinn discovered a gigantic risk on the balance sheets of Germany’s central bank. Were the euro zone to collapse, Bundesbank losses could be half a trillion euros — more than one-and-a-half times the size of the country’s annual budget.

So no, the European debt crisis is not over.

It is just getting warmed up.

Get ready for a wild ride.

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