In order for our current level of debt-fueled prosperity to continue, the rest of the world must continue to use our dollars to trade with one another and must continue to buy our debt at ridiculously low interest rates. Of course the number one foreign nation that we depend on to participate in our system is China. China accounts for more global trade than anyone else on the planet (including the United States), and most of that trade is conducted in U.S. dollars. This keeps demand for our dollars very high, and it ensures that we can import massive quantities of goods from overseas at very low cost. As a major exporting nation, China ends up with gigantic piles of our dollars. They lend many of those dollars back to us at ridiculously low interest rates. At this point, China owns more of our national debt than any other country does. But if China was to decide to quit playing our game and started moving away from U.S. dollars and U.S. debt, our economic prosperity could disappear very rapidly. Demand for the U.S. dollar would fall and prices would go up. And interest rates on our debt and everything else in our financial system would go up to crippling levels. So it is absolutely critical to our financial future that China continues to play our game.
Unfortunately, there are signs that China has now decided to start looking for a smooth exit from the game. In November, I wrote about how the central bank of China has announced that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves”. That means that the pile of U.S. dollars that China is sitting on is not going to get any higher.
In addition, China has signed a whole host of international currency agreements with other nations during the past couple of years which are going to result in less U.S. dollars being used in international trade. You can read about many of these agreements in this article.
This week, we learned that China started to dump U.S. debt during the month of December. Many have imagined that China would try to dump a flood of our debt on to the market all of a sudden once they decided to exit, but that simply does not make sense. Instead, it makes sense for China to dump a bit of debt at a time so that the market will not panic and so that they can get close to full value for the paper that they are holding.
As Bloomberg reported the other day, China dumped nearly 50 billion dollars of U.S. debt during the month of December…
China, the largest foreign U.S. creditor, reduced holdings of U.S. Treasury debt in December by the most in two years as the Federal Reserve announced plans to slow asset purchases.
The nation pared its position in U.S. government bonds by $47.8 billion, or 3.6 percent, to $1.27 trillion, the largest decline since December 2011, according to U.S. Treasury Department data released yesterday.
This is how I would do it if I was China. I would try to dump 30, 40 or 50 billion dollars a month. I would try to make a smooth exit and try to get as much for my U.S. debt paper as I could.
So if China is not going to stockpile U.S. dollars or U.S. debt any longer, what is it going to stockpile?
It is going to stockpile gold of course. In fact, China has been voraciously stockpiling gold for quite some time, and their hunger for gold appears to be growing.
According to Bloomberg, more than 80 percent of the gold that was exported from Switzerland last month went to Asia…
Switzerland sent more than 80 percent of its gold and silver bullion and coin exports to Asia last month, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration said today in an e-mailed report. It imported most from the U.K.
Hong Kong was the top destination at 44 percent on a value basis, with India at 14 percent, the Bern-based customs agency said in its first breakdown of the gold trade data since 1980. Singapore accounted for 8.6 percent of exports, the United Arab Emirates 7.9 percent and China 6.3 percent.
When China imports gold, most of it goes through Hong Kong. We know that imports of gold from Hong Kong into China are at an all-time record high, but we don’t know exactly how much gold China has accumulated at this point because they quit reporting that to the rest of the world a number of years ago.
When it comes to global finance, China is playing chess and the United States is playing checkers. China knows that gold is a universal currency that will hold value over the long-term. As the paper currencies of the world race toward collapse, China could end up holding most of the real money and that would be a huge game changer when they finally reveal that fact…
The announcement of China’s new gold hoard will send shockwaves through the financial markets, and make China and the Chinese yuan (their national currency) even bigger players at the international table.
International banking expert James Rickards compared it to a game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker:
“You want a big pile of chips. The U.S. has a big pile of chips, Europe has a big pile of chips. The U.S. has 8,000 tonnes [metric tons] of gold, 17 members of the euro system have 10,000 tonnes. China at 1,000 tonnes is not a player, but at 5,000 tonnes, they are a player.”
There are some really good points made in the quote above, but I do take exception with a couple of things. First of all, I believe that China now has far more than 5,000 tons of gold. Secondly, I seriously doubt that the U.S. still actually has 8,000 tons of gold or that Europe still actually has 10,000 tons of gold.
As China (and eventually the rest of the world) moves away from a U.S.-based financial system, the consequences are going to be dramatic.
For instance, right now the average rate of interest that the U.S. government pays on debt is just 2.477 percent. That is ridiculously low and it is way below the real rate of inflation. It is simply not rational for anyone to lend the U.S. government money so cheaply, and at some point we are going to see a dramatic shift.
When that day arrives, interest rates are going to rise dramatically. And if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rises to just 6 percent (and it has been much higher than that in the past), we will be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.
Even more frightening is what a rapidly changing interest rate environment would mean for our banking system. There are four large U.S. banks that each have exposure to derivatives in excess of 40 trillion dollars. You can find the identity of those banks right here. Interest rate derivatives make up the biggest chunk of those derivatives contracts. As John Embry told King World News just the other day, when that bubble bursts the carnage is going to be unprecedented…
“Stockman brought up a brilliant point, the fact that we have hundreds of trillions of dollars of interest rate swaps, which are polluting the world’s banking system. If we see growing volatility in interest rates, and I think that’s inevitable with what’s going on, that would cause spasms in the financial system. And if something goes wrong in the derivatives market, Heaven help us because the leverage that is imparted to the banking system through these derivatives is unholy.”
Unfortunately, very few of the “experts” will ever see this crash coming.
Very few of them saw it coming in 2000.
Very few of them saw it coming in 2008.
And very few of them will see it coming this time.
I really like what Paul B. Farrell had to say about this…
Early warnings of a crash are dismissed over and over (“just a temporary correction”). They gradually numb us about the inevitable. Time after time we forget history’s lessons. Until finally a big surprise catches us totally off-guard. Financial historian Niall Ferguson put it this way: Before the crash, our world seems almost stationary, deceptively so, balanced, at a set point. So that when the crash finally hits — as inevitably it will — everyone seems surprised. And our brains keep telling us it’s not time for a crash.
Till then, life just goes along quietly, hypnotizing us, making us vulnerable, till a shocker like Lehman Brothers upsets the balance. Then, says Ferguson, the crash is “accelerating suddenly, like a sports car … like a thief in the night.” It hits. Shocks us wide awake.
Don’t let the upcoming crash take you by surprise.
The warning signs are very clear.
Get ready while you still can.
The next great economic crisis is rapidly approaching, and most people are going to be totally blindsided by it. Even though the warning signs are glaringly obvious, most Americans continue to believe that our “leaders” know what they are doing and that everything will be just fine. But what will happen when the next great financial crash happens and trillions of dollars of “paper wealth” disappear into thin air? What will happen when the coming credit crunch causes economic activity to dramatically slow down and millions upon millions of people lose their jobs? This shouldn’t sound far-fetched to you. Remember, this is exactly the kind of thing that we saw back in 2008, and the next great financial crisis is likely going to be significantly worse. Our economy is in far worse shape than it was back in 2008, and government dependence is now at an all-time high even though most Americans are still enjoying debt-fueled false prosperity. We are living in the largest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and when it bursts we are going to experience a crippling “adjustment” to our standard of loving. Some people understand this and are busy preparing for what is ahead. It has been estimated that there are approximately 3 million “preppers” in the United States, and that number is growing all the time. Unfortunately, most Americans are not preparing for the coming economic depression and they are going to bitterly regret it.
So what does preparing for the coming economic depression look like?
Well, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Most of the things that you should do are just common sense.
But there are some people that take things to extremes. For example, a new National Geographic series is featuring a family that is actually constructing a “Doomsday Castle“. The former U.S. Army officer that is building this unusual home is trying to prepare for virtually every type of disaster that he can imagine…
Meet Brent Sr., the leader of the six-person family. Brent is a former Army Infantry Training Officer who is heading up the project to build an “EMP (electromagnetic pulse)-proof medieval castle in the woods of the Carolinas.”
According to National Geographic, Brent is teaching five of his 10 children survival skills.
The unfinished, fortified castle that Brent Sr. is building — an idea he got during the Y2K prep craze — will be able to sustain an EMP-event that could wipe out a power grid, but will also survive natural disasters like hurricanes.
He even plans to train his family members to use crossbows and a catapult to defend against potential home invaders.
Not many people out there are going to take “prepping” to such extremes.
But even if you don’t plan to build a “Doomsday Castle”, that doesn’t mean that you should be doing nothing.
Sadly, most Americans are quite ill-prepared for a major economic downturn at this point. In fact, most Americans seem to be doing almost nothing to prepare.
Just consider the following statistics. Most of these numbers come from one of my previous articles…
-According to a survey that was recently released, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
-46 percent of all Americans have less than $800 in savings.
-27 percent of all Americans do not have even a single penny saved up.
-Less than one out of every four Americans has enough money stored away to cover six months of expenses.
-Each year, 12 million Americans take out high interest payday loans.
-In 1989, the debt to income ratio of the average American family was about 58 percent. Today it is up to 154 percent.
-It is estimated that less than 10 percent of the U.S. population owns any gold or silver for investment purposes.
-44 percent of all Americans do not have first-aid kits in their homes.
-48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies stored up.
-53 percent of all Americans do not have a 3 day supply of nonperishable food and water in their homes.
-One survey asked Americans how long they thought they would survive if the electrical grid went down for an extended period of time. Incredibly, 21 percent said that they would survive for less than a week, an additional 28 percent said that they would survive for less than two weeks, and nearly 75 percent said that they would be dead before the two month mark.
Those numbers are absolutely appalling.
When the system fails, most people are going to be completely blindsided by it and millions upon millions of people are going to absolutely freak out.
Don’t let that happen to you.
So what are some basic things that you can do to get prepared for the great economic storm that is coming?
The following are a few of the things that Nicole Foss suggests…
1) Hold no debt (for most people this means renting)
2) Hold cash and cash equivalents (short term treasuries) under your own control
3) Don’t trust the banking system, deposit insurance or no deposit insurance
4) Sell equities, real estate, most bonds, commodities, collectibles (or short if you can afford to gamble)
5) Gain some control over the necessities of your own existence if you can afford it
6) Be prepared to work with others as that will give you far greater scope for resilience and security
7) If you have done all that and still have spare resources, consider precious metals as an insurance policy
8) Be worth more to your employer than he is paying you
9) Look after your health!
I think all of those are great pieces of advice.
In addition, below I have posted some of the things that I personally recommend. The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles entitled “25 Things That You Should Do To Get Prepared For The Coming Economic Collapse“…
#1 An Emergency Fund
Do you remember what happened when the financial system almost collapsed back in 2008? Millions of Americans suddenly lost their jobs, and because many of them were living paycheck to paycheck, many of them also got behind on their mortgages and lost their homes. You don’t want to lose everything that you have worked for during this next major economic downturn. It is imperative that you have an emergency fund. It should be enough to cover all of your expenses for at least six months, but I would encourage you to have an emergency fund that is even larger than that.
#2 Don’t Put All Of Your Eggs Into One Basket
If the wealth confiscation in Cyprus has taught us anything, it is that we should not put all of our eggs in one basket. If all of your money is in one single bank account, it would be easy to wipe out. But if you have your money scattered around a number of different places it will give you a little bit more security.
#3 Keep Some Cash At Home
This goes along with the previous point. While it is not wise to keep all of your money at home, you do want to keep some cash on hand. If there is an extended bank holiday or if a giant burst from the sun causes the ATM machines to go down, you want to be able to have enough cash to buy the things that your family needs. Just ask the people of Cyprus how crippling a bank holiday can be. One way to keep your cash secure at home is by storing it in a concealed safe.
#4 Get Out Of Debt
A lot of people seem to assume that an economic collapse would wipe out all debts, but that will probably not be the case. In fact, if you are in a tremendous amount of debt you will be very vulnerable if the economy collapses and you are not able to find a job. Just ask the people who were overextended and lost their jobs during the last recession. So please get out of debt. Many debt collectors are becoming increasingly ruthless. In many areas of the country they are now routinely putting debtors into prison. You do not want to be a slave to debt when the next wave of the economic collapse strikes.
#5 Gold And Silver
In the long-term, the U.S. dollar is going to lose a tremendous amount of value and inflation is going to absolutely skyrocket. That is one reason why so many people are investing very heavily in gold, silver and other precious metals. All over the globe, the central banks of the world are recklessly printing money. Everyone knows that this is going to end very badly. In fact, there is already a push in more than a dozen U.S. states to allow gold and silver coins to be used as legal tender. Someday you will be glad that you invested in gold and silver now while their prices were still low.
#6 Reduce Your Expenses
A lot of people claim that they can’t put any money toward prepping, but the truth is that we all have room to reduce our expenses. We all spend money on things that we do not really need. Those that are “lean and mean” will tend to do much better during the times that are coming.
#7 Start A Side Business
If you do not have much money, a great way to increase your income is by starting a side business. And it does not take a lot of money – there are many side businesses that you can start for next to nothing. And starting a side business will allow you to become less dependent on your job. In this economic environment, a job could disappear at literally any time.
#8 Move Away From The Big Cities If Possible
For many people, this is simply not possible. Many Americans are still completely and totally dependent on their jobs. But if you are able, now is a good time to move away from the big cities. When the next major economic downturn strikes, there will be rioting and a dramatic rise in crime in the major cities. If you are able to move to a more rural area you will probably be in much better shape.
#9 Store Food
Global food reserves have reached their lowest level in nearly 40 years. As the economy gets even worse and global weather patterns become even more unstable, the price of food will go much higher and global food supplies will become much tighter. In the long run, you will be glad for the money that you put into long-term food storage now.
#10 Learn To Grow Your Own Food
This is a skill that most Americans possessed in the past, but that most Americans today have forgotten. Growing your own food is a way to become more independent of the system, and it is a way to get prepared for what is ahead.
#11 Nobody Can Survive Without Water
Without water, you would not even make it a few days in an emergency situation. It is imperative that you have a plan to provide clean drinking water for your family when disaster strikes.
#12 Have A Plan For When The Grid Goes Down
What would you do if the grid went down and you suddenly did not have power for an extended period of time? Anyone that has spent more than a few hours without power knows how frustrating this can be. You need to have a plan for how you are going to provide power to your home that is independent of the power company.
#13 Have Blankets And Warm Clothing On Hand
This is more for emergency situations or for a complete meltdown of society. During any major crisis, blankets and warm clothing are in great demand. They also could potentially make great barter items.
#14 Store Personal Hygiene Supplies
A lot of preppers store up huge amounts of food, but they forget all about personal hygiene supplies. During a long crisis, these are items that you would greatly miss if you do not have them stored up. These types of supplies would also be great for barter.
#15 Store Medicine And Medical Supplies
You will also want to store up medical supplies and any medicine that you may need. In an emergency situation, you definitely would not want to be without bandages and a first-aid kit. Over the course of a long crisis, you do not want to run out of any medicines that are critical for your health.
#16 Stock Up On Vitamins
A lot of preppers do not think about this either, but it is very important. These days, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get adequate nutrition from the foods that we eat. That is why it is very important to have an adequate store of vitamins and other supplements.
#17 Make A List Of Other Supplies That You Will Need
During any crisis, there will be a lot of other things that you will need in addition to food and water. The following are just a few basic things that it would be wise to have on hand…
– an axe
– a can opener
– battery-powered radio
– extra batteries
– lighters or matches
– fire extinguisher
– sewing kit
This list could be much, much longer, but hopefully this will get you started.
#18 Don’t Forget The Special Needs Of Your Babies And Your Pets
Young children and pets have special needs. As you store supplies, don’t forget about the things that they will need as well.
This may sound trivial, but the truth is that our entertainment-addicted society would become very bored and very frustrated if the grid suddenly went down for an extended period of time. Card games and other basic forms of entertainment can make enduring a crisis much easier.
In the years ahead, being able to defend your home and your family is going to become increasingly important. When the economy crashes, people are going to start to become very desperate. And desperate people do desperate things.
#21 Get Your Ammunition While You Still Can
Your firearms will not do you much good if you do not have ammunition for them. Already there are widespread reports of huge ammunition shortages. The following is from a recent CNS News article…
“The run on ammunition has manufacturers scrambling to accommodate demand and reassure customers, as many new and seasoned gun owners stock up over fears of new firearms regulations at both the state and federal levels.”
Don’t just assume that you will always be able to purchase large amounts of ammunition whenever you want. Get it now while you still can.
#22 If You Have To Go…
Have a plan for what you and your family will do if you are forced to leave your home. If you do have to go, the following are some items that you will want to have on hand…
– a map of the area
– a compass
– backpacks for every member of the family
– sleeping bags
– warm clothing
– comfortable shoes or hiking boots
One of the most important assets in any crisis situation is community. If you have friends or neighbors that you can depend upon, that is invaluable. The time spent building those bonds now will pay off greatly during a major crisis.
#24 Have A Back-Up Plan And Be Flexible
Mike Tyson once said the following…
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
No plan ever unfolds perfectly. When your plan is disrupted, what will you do?
It will be imperative for all of us to have a back-up plan and to be flexible during the years ahead.
#25 Keep Your Prepping To Yourself
Do not go around and tell everyone in the area where you live about your prepping. If you do, then you may find yourself overwhelmed with “visitors” when everything falls apart.
And please do not go on television and brag about your prepping to a national audience.
Prepping is something that you want to keep to yourself, unless you want hordes of desperate people banging on your door in the future.
For much more on prepping, I would encourage you to check out the dozens of excellent websites out there that teach people advanced prepping techniques for free.
So what do you think about all of this?
Are you getting prepared for the coming economic depression?
Please feel free to share your perspective on prepping by posting a comment below…
Are you ready for a wild 2013? It should be a very interesting year. When the calendar flips over each January, lots of people make lots of lists. They make lists of “resolutions”, but most people never follow through on them. They make lists of “predictions”, but most of those predictions always seem to end up failing. Well, I have decided to put out my own list of predictions for 2013. I openly admit that I won’t get all of these predictions right, and that is okay. Hopefully I will at least be more accurate than most of the other armchair prognosticators out there. It is important to look ahead and try to get a handle on what is coming, because I believe that the rest of this decade is going to be extraordinarily chaotic for the U.S. economy. The false bubble of debt-fueled prosperity that we are enjoying right now is not going to last much longer. When it comes to an end, the “adjustment” is going to be extremely painful. Those that understand what is happening and have prepared for it will have the best chance of surviving what is about to hit us. I honestly don’t know what everybody else is going to do. Many of the people that don’t see the coming collapse approaching will be totally blindsided by it and will totally give in to despair when they realize what has happened. But there is no excuse for not seeing what is coming – the signs are everywhere.
So with that being said, the following are 50 bold predictions for 2013…
#1 There will be a major fight between the Republicans and the Democrats over raising the debt ceiling. This will be one of the stories that dominates news headlines in the months of February and March.
#2 Most of the new “revenue” that will be raised by tax increases in 2013 will come out of the pockets of the middle class.
#3 No matter what “fiscal deals” the Democrats and the Republicans make in 2013, the federal budget deficit will still end up being greater than a trillion dollars for the fifth consecutive year.
#4 The credit rating of the U.S. government will be downgraded again in 2013.
#5 The Federal Reserve, along with major central banks all over the globe, will continue to wildly print money.
#6 There will be more criticism of the Federal Reserve in 2013 than at any other time since it was created back in 1913.
#7 The term “currency war” will be used by the media more in 2013 than it was in 2012.
#8 The movement away from the U.S. dollar as the primary reserve currency of the world will pick up momentum. This will especially be true in Asia.
#9 The economic depressions in Greece and Spain will get even worse and unemployment in the eurozone will go even higher in 2013.
#10 A financial crisis in Europe will cause officials to grasp for “radical solutions” that will surprise many analysts.
#11 The unemployment rate in the United States will be higher by the end of 2013 than it is now.
#12 The percentage of working age Americans with a job will fall below 58 percent by the end of the year.
#13 At least one “too big to fail” bank will fail in the United States by the end of 2013.
#14 By the end of the year, more people than ever will understand what “derivatives” are, and that will be because they have caused major problems in the financial world.
#15 We will see the beginnings of another major housing crisis before the end of 2013 and foreclosure activity will start rising once again.
#16 We will see another new wave of “tent cities” start to go up in communities around the nation before the end of the year.
#17 There will be another major drought in the United States this upcoming summer and there will be widespread crop failures once again.
#18 The massive dust storms that we have seen roll through cities like Phoenix in recent years will become even larger and even more intense.
#19 Traffic along the Mississippi River will be significantly interrupted at some point during 2013. This will be a very negative thing for the economy.
#20 Food prices will soar in 2013. This will especially be true for meat products.
#21 In some of the poorer areas of the globe, major food riots will break out. Governments will have trouble containing the civil unrest.
#22 There will be more genetically-modified foods in our supermarkets than ever before, and more Americans than ever will reject them and will seek out alternatives.
#23 The average price of a gallon of gasoline in 2012 was about $3.60. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in 2013 will be lower than that. Yes, you read that correctly.
#24 The number of vehicle miles driven in the United States will continue to decline in 2013.
#25 The Dow will end 2013 significantly lower than it is right now.
#26 When the final statistics for 2013 are compiled, U.S. share of global GDP will be less than 20 percent for the first time in modern history. Back in the year 2001, our share of global GDP was 31.8 percent.
#27 The U.S. Postal Service will continue to experience massive financial difficulties and will lay off personnel.
#28 As violence in our public schools becomes increasingly worse, more Americans families than ever will decide to home school their children.
#29 The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress will make an all-out attempt to pass gun control measures in 2013. When their efforts on the legislative front are stalled somewhat by Republicans in the House, Obama will use his executive powers to further his gun control agenda.
#30 One of the cities with the strongest gun laws in the nation, Chicago, had 532 murders in 2012 and it is now considered to be one of the most dangerous cities on the planet. By the end of 2013, the murder total in Chicago will be above 600.
#31 There will be an increasing amount of tension between state governments and the federal government. The issue of “states rights” will move front and center at various points in 2013.
#32 CNN will continue to sink to horrifying new lows. Piers Morgan will end up leaving the network before the end of the year.
#33 The number of Americans on food stamps will surpass 50 million for the first time ever at some point during 2013.
#34 The U.S. trade deficit with China in 2013 will be well over 300 billion dollars.
#35 The phrase “made in China” will increasingly be viewed as a reason not to buy a product as Americans become more educated about the millions of good jobs that we have lost to China over the past decade.
#36 We will see increasing cooperation between the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico and border restrictions will be loosened.
#37 There will continue to be a mass exodus of families and businesses out of the state of California. The favorite destination will continue to be Texas, but Texas residents will become increasingly resentful of all of these new transplants.
#38 There will be some truly jaw-dropping examples of violence by parents against their own children in 2013. Many of these stories will make headlines all over the nation.
#39 The percentage of Americans that are obese will continue to rise and will set another new all-time record in 2013.
#40 There will be more war in the Middle East in 2013. But it will only set the stage for even more war in the Middle East in 2014 and 2015.
#41 U.S. troops will be deployed in more countries than ever before in 2013.
#42 Volcanic eruptions and major earthquakes along the Ring of Fire will make headlines all over the globe in 2013.
#43 Giant sinkholes will continue to appear all over the United States and all over the globe, and scientists will continue to struggle to find an explanation for why it is happening.
#44 The peak of the solar cycle in 2013 will cause significant problems for satellite communications.
#45 The U.S. government will put more resources into the surveillance of the American people than ever before, but most Americans won’t mind all of this surveillance because they have become convinced that it is important to give up some of our liberties for more “security”.
#46 Our infrastructure (roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, sewers, electrical grids, etc.) will be in worse shape by the end of 2013 than it is now.
#47 The percentage of “two parent households” in the United States will continue to decline.
#48 “Political correctness” will reach ridiculous new heights during 2013, and more Americans than ever will start to rebel against it.
#49 There will be more anger at the wealthy in 2013 than at any other time in modern history.
#50 There will be some shocking political scandals in Washington D.C. in 2013. We will see some high profile resignations by the end of the year.
Once again, please keep in mind that I do not expect to be 100% correct about all of these things. I am just trying to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together just like everyone else is.
But I do hope to have a better track record than most of the other people putting out lists of predictions at the beginning of this year. So save this list and let’s revisit it at the end of the year.
Do you have any bold predictions of your own for 2013? Please feel free to share them by posting a comment below…
Barack Obama and John Boehner both seem absolutely determined to drive U.S. government finances off a cliff. The mainstream media would have you believe that there are vast ideological differences between the two of them and that they are bitter enemies, but that is simply not the case. Both of them say that tax increases are “necessary”, but they disagree over the details. Both are seeking about a trillion dollars of spending cuts and about a trillion dollars of new “revenue”, but they don’t see eye to eye on how to get there. But overall, they are both definitely playing in the same ballpark. And those numbers certainly do sound impressive until you realize that they are talking about a time span of ten years. Personally, I would love to see federal spending cut by a trillion dollars this year. But that will never happen. A trillion dollars over the course of a decade breaks down to about 100 billion dollars per year. That still sounds like a lot of money until you put it up next to the trillion dollar deficits that we have been running for four years in a row. Even if somehow those spending cuts turned out to be real (which they aren’t), they would still only put a very small dent in our yearly budget deficits. Obama and Boehner both want to continue to have a gigantic federal government that showers people with government money, and both of them want to continue to pass much of the burden for paying for this gigantic government on to future generations. And both of them want to continue to steal more than 100 million dollars an hour from our children and our grandchildren in order to maintain the false bubble of debt-fueled prosperity that we are enjoying right now. This is incredibly foolish and they are leading us down a path that will lead to national ruin.
Sadly, even the pathetically small “budget cut” and “new revenue” figures that they are floating around turn out to be quite hollow when you inspect them more closely.
For example, the “new revenue” figures that both Obama and Boehner are talking about rely on extremely unrealistic assumptions about U.S. economic growth. In order to meet their revenue projections, the U.S. economy would need to grow significantly faster than it is right now and we would need to get through the entire decade without having a single recession.
What do you think the chance of that happening is?
But that is the way that things work in Washington D.C. – our politicians function in a world where it is assumed that everything will work out just perfectly in the future.
For example, if the figures put out at the beginning of the Bush administration were to be believed, we should be absolutely swimming in government surpluses by now.
That didn’t work out too well, did it?
The “spending cuts” are even more illusory.
Obama is projecting that we will save 130 billion dollars by manipulating the way that inflation is calculated for annual increases in Social Security benefits.
But our politicians are already pretending that there is hardly any inflation when any rational person can see that prices are soaring.
So can they really manipulate the numbers to make them look even smaller?
By doing so, they would be cheating elderly Americans out of 130 billion dollars. But I guess this is more convenient for our politicians than going after real government waste.
Obama also plans to save $290 billion by having lower interest payments on U.S. government debt.
Try not to laugh.
The average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was 2.534 percent at the end of November. That is ridiculously low. The only place it is going to go in future years is up.
Back in the year 2000, the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was 6.638 percent. If the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rose back to that level, we would be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.
So Obama’s projection that we are going to save 290 billion dollars over the next ten years by forcing interest rates on U.S. government debt even lower is insanely optimistic. Only a delusional person would make such an assumption.
And most of the savings from the “projected spending cuts” that Obama and Boehner are proposing would not happen until later in the decade.
After all, they don’t want to “hurt the economy” right now.
In fact, Obama is actually proposing that we should increase spending by $80 billion this year so that we can encourage economic activity.
So don’t let anyone fool you with any nonsense about how Obama and Boehner are working on a plan that would get U.S. government finances in order.
No matter how their “negotiations” turn out, we will continue to run trillion dollars deficits year after year with no end in sight.
If Americans want a monstrous federal government that passes out government checks like candy, then they should pay for it. Personally, I think that taxes are already way, way too high and that the government already brings in more than enough money.
If Americans don’t want to pay much higher taxes, then they should tell the government to quit spending money that we don’t have.
But all of this trying to have it both ways has got to stop. We are destroying the future for our children and our grandchildren. We have already run up 16 trillion dollars in debt and we can’t even seem to slow down our reckless debt binge. If they get the chance, someday future generations will curse us for what we did to them.
The funny thing is that John Boehner was supposed to be a “conservative” that was going to do something about all of this debt. But since John Boehner has been Speaker of the House, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation that has increased the size of our national debt by approximately $18,944 per household.
Meanwhile, our economy continues to unravel, good jobs are becoming even more scarce, and poverty continues to explode.
For example, did you know that there are now more than one million homeless students in America? Sadly, it’s true…
The number of homeless students in America topped one million for the first time last year as a result of the economic recession, a number that has risen 57 percent since 2007.
The US Department of Education found that of these 1,065,794 children, many lived in abandoned homes, cheap hotels, stations, church basements and hospitals. Some spent their time sleeping over at the houses of various friends whenever they could. Others fell victim to drugs and sexual abuse, in some cases trading sexual acts for food, clothing and shelter or selling illegal drugs.
Even in the midst of our debt-fueled prosperity, the number of Americans that are dependent on the government just continues to rise.
According to one recent survey, 55 percent of all Americans have received money from a safety net program run by the federal government at some point in their lives.
So how bad will things get when we eventually quit borrowing so much money and we start living within our means?
Nobody is looking forward to that day. Certainly not our politicians. They don’t want to be blamed for all of the painful adjustments that will happen once the party ends.
So they just keep borrowing and spending. But at some point the music will stop and the house of cards will come crashing down.
It won’t happen this week or this month, but it will happen soon enough.
I hope that you are ready.
When it comes to explaining the problems with our economy, one of the hardest things to do is to get people to understand that we are living in an economic fantasy world that is completely and totally unsustainable. As a nation we consume far more than we produce, we spend far more than we bring in, our debt is growing much faster than our GDP is, our entitlement programs are growing at an exponential rate, our retirement system is a Ponzi scheme and the Federal Reserve is printing money as if there is no tomorrow in a desperate attempt to paper over all of our problems. But we have all grown so accustomed to the debt-fueled prosperity that we have been enjoying for so many decades that it actually feels “real” to most of us. Unfortunately, history has shown us that it is simply not possible to grow your debt faster than your economy indefinitely. At some point your consumption will drop back to a level more equal to your production. Sometimes that adjustment can be gradual, but other times it can be extremely painful. In our case, we have been living way above our means for so long that it would take a major economic miracle just to keep our adjustment to an “exceedingly painful” level. We are living in the largest debt-fueled prosperity bubble in the history of the world, and our unsustainable economy is going to crash and burn at some point. Hopefully it will be later rather than sooner, but a crash is most definitely coming.
The following are some of the reasons why the bubble economy that we are living in right now is unsustainable….
The Trade Deficit
Most Americans do not really understand what a “trade deficit” is, but it is at the very core of our economic problems.
Basically, we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us. We send them huge piles of our money, and they send us oil that we burn in our cars and cheap plastic products that we end up throwing away. We keep doing this month after month after month, and this is systematically making us poorer as a nation.
In 2012, it is being projected that our trade deficit will fall somewhere between 500 billion and 600 billion dollars.
At this point, the United States has a trade imbalance that is more than 7 times larger than any other nation on earth has.
Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.
Instead of going out of the country, those 8 trillion dollars could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers. In turn, taxes would have been paid on those 8 trillion dollars and our debt problems would not be nearly as dramatic today.
But we didn’t do that.
We chose to allow tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth to leave the country.
Stupid move, eh?
But both political parties have been endlessly pushing the “free trade” agenda. They have both promised that it would bring us tremendous prosperity.
Well, just take a look at our formerly great manufacturing cities today. Do they look prosperous to you?
It turns out that Ross Perot was right when he warned about the “giant sucking sound” that would happen if NAFTA was implemented.
When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars. By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.
That didn’t work out so well, did it?
What about opening up trade with China?
Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year.
In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 295.4 billion dollars. That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.
Our trade with China is tremendously unbalanced. Today, U.S. consumers spend approximately 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that Chinese consumers spend on goods and services from the United States.
This is a huge reason why shiny new factories are going up all over China, and our blue collar cities are turning into rotting war zones filled with unemployed people.
If you can believe it, the United States has actually lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
Until we fix the trade deficit we are going to continue bleeding factories, jobs and national wealth at an astounding pace.
The National Debt
It is being projected that U.S. GDP will grow at a rate of about 2.2 percent this year.
The problem is that our federal budget deficit will be somewhere around 7 percent of GDP this year.
With each passing day we are losing ground. No other nation on earth has been able to run up debt like this indefinitely, and neither will we.
Does this chart look like a healthy situation to you?….
Sadly, all of this government debt is just about the only thing holding up our economy at this point. Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by about 5.5 trillion dollars. Of course the Obama administration has spent a lot of that money on incredibly stupid stuff, but it still gets into the pockets of average Americans that in turn spend it on food, gas, mortgage payments, etc.
If we could go back in time and suck that 5.5 trillion dollars of extra spending out of the economy we would be in a horrible economic depression right now.
But that does not mean that borrowing and spending all of that money was the right thing to do. We have stolen it from our children and our grandchildren and we are going to stick them with the bill.
That is highly immoral and it is a national disgrace.
Yet we continue to do it because we can’t help ourselves. We are ruining the future of this nation in order to make the present more pleasant for ourselves.
As I noted yesterday, the U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.
We are completely addicted to debt and we can’t stop. We know that we are destroying the future of the United States but we have absolutely no self-discipline.
By the end of Barack Obama’s first term, the U.S. government will have accumulated more debt during those four years than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.
But most Americans seem fine with that.
Most Americans don’t even really know why this is happening, and most don’t really seem too concerned about finding out. They just want the good times to continue to roll.
Sadly, the truth is that our financial system is designed to create government debt. It is one of the primary purposes of the Federal Reserve system.
At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.
So I guess you could say that the Federal Reserve is doing a good job of what it was designed to do.
And until we change the system things are going to continue to get worse until the entire system collapses.
Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that we are basically facing financial armageddon if something is not done. Kotlikoff speaks of a “fiscal gap” which he defines as “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”. His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the United States is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.
Where in the world are we going to get an extra 222 trillion dollars?
Every society needs a safety net, but we are rapidly getting to the point where there are going to be more Americans on the safety net than there are Americans supporting it.
Back in 1983, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government.
Today, that number is up to an all-time record of 49 percent.
Many people don’t believe me when I tell them that more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government right now, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.
But it is actually true.
Overall, there are nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” that the federal government is currently running.
But of course the biggest financial burdens are Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. All three are on course to become completely and totally unsustainable.
For example, the number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
Well, what about Medicare?
Sadly, Medicare is even more frightening.
As I wrote recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.
How in the world can we afford that?
At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years. That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.
Are you ready to contribute your share?
Social Security is in really bad shape as well.
At the moment, approximately 56 million Americans are collecting Social Security benefits.
By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.
Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.
Where are we going to get that money?
Of course the national debt is not out only debt problem. All over the country there are state and local governments that are on the verge of insolvency. Corporations and financial institutions are leveraged like crazy. And of course consumers have absolutely gorged on debt over the past several decades.
As a result, we are drowning in debt from sea to shining sea.
The good news is that our GDP is more than 12 times larger than it was 40 years ago.
The bad news is that the total amount of debt in our country is more than 30 times larger than it was 40 years ago….
Obviously this is something that cannot go on forever.
We simply cannot keep accumulating debt much faster than our economy is growing.
Nobody knows exactly when the “adjustment” is coming, but it most definitely will arrive at some point.
The Federal Reserve has attempted to monetize many of our economic problems by printing gigantic mountains of money in recent years.
The Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems, but most Americans don’t realize this. It was the Federal Reserve that created the conditions for the housing bubble, and it was the Federal Reserve that badly mismanaged the response when that bubble burst. The Federal Reserve decides how much money will be printed and what our interest rates will be. The Federal Reserve lends out trillions of dollars to the banks that they like, and other banks they let die. The Federal Reserve picks winners and losers in our economy, and most of the time that means good things for the big Wall Street banks and bad things for the rest of us.
In a desperate attempt to keep our unsustainable financial system from collapsing, the Federal Reserve has decided to start printing unprecedented amounts of money. Just look at what this has done to the monetary base….
And QE3 really hasn’t even started to kick in yet.
So how bad will that chart look after QE3 has been adding another 40 billion dollars a month to the financial system for a while?
You know, the Weimar Republic was absolutely convinced that they were doing the right thing by printing lots of money too.
But in the end that didn’t work out very well for them at all….
So should we really be celebrating the fact that the Federal Reserve is going down the same path that the Weimar Republic did?
Demonocracy has released a great new graphic that does a wonderful job of illustrating just how huge the amounts of money involved in QE3 are going to be. If you have not seen it yet, you can view the graphic right here.
The rest of the world is watching the games that we are playing with our currency. Right now we think that we are getting away with it, but what we are doing is not sustainable. At some point the rest of the world will totally lose confidence in the U.S. dollar, and when that happens the U.S. dollar could easily lose its status as the primary reserve currency of the world.
If that were to happen the coming shift in our standard of living would happen much more rapidly.
Please share this article with as many people as you can. We need to wake people up and get them to understand how incredibly vulnerable our financial system really is. We are on a path that is unsustainable any way that you want to look at it, and if something dramatic is not done our economy is going to experience an unprecedented collapse.
So what happens if nothing is done and everything crashes all around us?
Well, I hope that you are prepared because it isn’t going to be pretty.
Barack Obama has destroyed the future of America in order to improve his chances of winning the next election. Under Obama, 5.3 trillion dollars has been ruthlessly stolen from our children and our grandchildren. That money has been used to pump up the debt-fueled false prosperity that we have been experiencing. When the U.S. government borrows money that it does not have from someone else (such as China) and spends that money into the economy it is going to make our economic numbers look better. Even if the government spends that money on incredibly stupid things, it still gets into the hands of average Americans who in turn spend that money on food, gas, clothes, etc. If we were to go back and take that extra 5.3 trillion dollars out of the U.S. economy, I guarantee you that we would be in a rip-roaring depression right now. We would look a lot like Greece at this point. For several years Greece has been raising taxes and cutting government spending in an attempt to balance the budget and these austerity measures have resulted in an unemployment rate of over 23 percent and an economy that has contracted by close to 25 percent. Most Americans don’t want to go through pain like that so they are okay with continuing to financially rape our children and our grandchildren. Just imagine how you would feel if your parents died tomorrow and you found out that they had left you with a million dollar debt that you were legally obligated to pay off. How would you feel, knowing that you had just been sold into debt slavery for the rest of your life? Well, that is how our children and our grandchildren are going to feel. We are destroying the greatest economic machine the world has ever seen, we are accumulating the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and the coming economic collapse that we have caused is going to wipe out the promising future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have. If they get the chance, future generations of Americans will curse us bitterly and will spit on our graves. What we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is the kind of stuff that horror movies are made of. You should be ashamed of yourself America.
The federal budget deficit for 2012 will be larger than the entire U.S. national debt was 30 years ago. In 1982 Ronald Reagan was in the White House and the U.S. national debt was considered to be a tremendous national crisis. But somehow we have allowed our national debt to grow from about a trillion dollars back then to approximately $16,000,000,000,000 today.
By the end of Obama’s first term, the U.S. national debt will have grown more than it did from the time that George Washington became president to the time that George W. Bush became president.
That is hard to believe.
Obama is going to outdo all the presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton in just one term.
At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.
This has allowed us to enjoy a standard of living far beyond what we deserved to. We have stolen from the future to make the present more pleasant.
But hardly anybody wants the party to end. Especially not our Congress critters – they are living like kings and queens at our expense. Our “representatives” in Washington D.C. love to give speeches about being “financially responsible”, but most of them never take any serious action about the debt because the way things are working now has been incredibly good to them.
And the truth is that both political parties have been responsible. In 2010, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives with a clear mandate to get government spending under control. Not a single penny of government money can be spent without their permission. But since they took control, the U.S. national debt has increased by another 1.8 trillion dollars.
At this point, this current Congress (controlled by both Republicans and Democrats) has added more to the national debt than the first 97 Congresses combined.
We expect this kind of nonsense from the Democrats, but the Republicans are supposed to know better.
Of course our entire financial system is designed to permanently entrap our federal government in an endless spiral of debt, but neither political party ever talks about that.
Sadly, the U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.
But we never hear about the link between the Federal Reserve and our national debt from either political party or on the mainstream news.
So most Americans do not even realize that our system is designed to create government debt.
It is absolutely disgusting.
We say that we care about our kids, and yet we are passing down a $16,000,000,000,000 debt to them.
Talk about child abuse.
Most people have a really hard time grasping how much money 16 trillion dollars actually is.
If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.
And it would take you more than half a million years to spend 16 trillion dollars.
This is a debt that is impossible to pay back. Just look at how it has exploded over the past 40 years….
In a previous article I discussed the distressing rate at which our debt is growing….
It took more than 200 years for the U.S. national debt to reach 1 trillion dollars. In 1986, the U.S. national debt reached 2 trillion dollars. In 1992, the U.S. national debt reached 4 trillion dollars. In 2005, the U.S. national debt doubled again and reached 8 trillion dollars. Now the U.S. national debt is about to cross the 16 trillion dollar mark. How long can this kind of exponential growth go on?
If we can’t even slow down the growth of our debt, how do we ever expect to repay a single penny?
The sad truth is that we aren’t ever going to start paying down our debt. We have gotten to the point where if we take our foot off the debt accelerator we plunge directly into a depression and the entire system collapses. It is like a really sick version of the movie “Speed”.
Where is Keanu Reeves when you need him?
Since Barack Obama entered the White House, he has approved a whole host of measures that have been good for the economy in the short-term. TARP, the stimulus packages, the auto industry bailout and the payroll tax cut are just a few examples.
Barack Obama has wanted to do everything he possibly can to stimulate the economy in the short-term so that he can win again in 2012.
But what about the future?
Barack Obama could not care less about the future. He is just like so many of our other politicians. He is blinded by selfish ambition.
Since Barack Obama became president, the U.S. national debt has increased by an average of more than $64,000 per taxpayer.
Are you willing to write a check for your share?
Oh, let’s just pass this horrific debt on to our children, right?
The path that we are on as a nation cannot go on too much longer. The truth is that we are headed for financial oblivion.
A recently revised IMF policy paper entitled “An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” projects that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.
Of course we will never get to the point. Our financial system will collapse long before then.
Sadly, the United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.
So why are we not like Greece or Spain yet?
Well, it is because we are still able to borrow huge piles of money very, very cheaply.
But at some point that will come to an end, and when it does the consequences are going to be nightmarish.
Historically, the interest rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has averaged 6.68 percent. If the average rate of interest on U.S. debt rose to that level today, we would be paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.
And when you consider our future unfunded liabilities things get even more frightening.
According to Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff, the “fiscal gap” is “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”. His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the United States is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars.
And this gap is rising at a breathtaking pace.
The following is an excerpt from a recent article co-authored by Kotlikoff….
In 2007, the first year the CBO produced the Alternative Fiscal Scenario, the gap, by our reckoning, stood at $175 trillion. By 2009, when the CBO began reporting the AFS annually, the gap was $184 trillion. In 2010, it was $202 trillion, followed by $211 trillion in 2011 and $222 trillion in 2012.
But if we interrupt this debt cycle we immediately go into a depression.
We are a debt addict that will die without more debt.
Meanwhile, our national ability to produce wealth is going down the toilet.
All over the country businesses are shutting down, factories are being closed and millions of jobs are being sent overseas.
As I wrote about the other day, American families are steadily getting poorer. The middle class is shrinking and the tax base is shriveling up.
Many Americans end up flat broke at the end of their lives these days. In fact, one study found that nearly half of all retirees end up with $10,000 or less when they die.
So where is all of the money for servicing this gigantic national debt going to come from?
Even if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.
So what is the solution?
If we keep spending money like this we are doomed, but if we stop spending money like this we are doomed.
And debt is not just a problem that the federal government is facing.
Posted below is a chart that shows the growth of all forms of debt in the United States over the past several decades. 40 years ago, there was less than 2 trillion dollars of total debt owed in the United States. Now there is nearly 55 trillion dollars of debt owed. This generation has destroyed the future and has set the stage for an unprecedented economic collapse. Shame on you America….