Has Europe finally been saved this time? Has this latest “breakthrough” solved the European debt crisis? Of course not, and you should know better by now. European leaders have held 18 summits since the beginning of the debt crisis. After most of the preceding summits, global financial markets responded with joy because European leaders had reached “a deal” which would supposedly solve the crisis. But a few weeks after each summit it would become clear that nothing had been solved and that the financial crisis had actually gotten even worse than before. How many times do they expect us to fall for the same sorry routine? Nothing in Europe has been solved. You can’t solve a debt problem with more debt. European leaders are just kicking the can down the road. More debt will relieve some of the short-term pressure, but in a few weeks it will be apparent that the underlying problems in Europe continue to grow. Unfortunately, there is not an unlimited amount of EU bailout money, so once all of these “financial bullets” have been fired European leaders are going to find that kicking the can down the road will not be so easy anymore. The truth is that the financial crisis in Europe has not been cancelled – it has just been put off for a few weeks or a few months.
Do you solve the problems of a credit card addict by giving that person another credit card? Of course not. You may delay the short-term financial problems of the credit card addict by giving that person another credit card, but in the process you make the long-term problems even worse.
Well, that is essentially what is happening in Europe. European governments and the European financial system have become ridiculously dependent on debt. By giving European debt junkies another “hit” or two it may relieve a bit of short-term suffering but it doesn’t solve anything.
Just think about it.
Did the first bailout package solve the problems in Greece?
Did the second bailout package solve the problems in Greece?
Today, the Greek financial system is a complete and total mess, and Greek politicians are saying that a third bailout package may be necessary.
Many are claiming that Italy and Spain have been “saved” by this new deal, but that is a joke.
Yes, the ability to inject bailout funds directly into troubled banks is going to keep some of them going for a little while. But the deal also calls for a new governing body to be established that will supervise those banks. Will that governing body be established in time to even provide the short-term help that is needed?
Yes, spending bailout funds to buy up Spanish debt and Italian debt will artificially suppress bond yields for a time.
We have seen this before.
But what happened?
After the bond buying program was over, bond yields started spiking again.
So do the Europeans plan to suppress bond yields forever?
Of course not. There is not enough bailout money to do that.
Brutal austerity + toxic levels of government debt + rising bond yields + a lack of confidence in the financial system + banks that are massively overleveraged + a massive credit crunch = A financial implosion of historic proportions
Have any of those elements been removed?
Bond yields will be suppressed for a period of time, but that will not last forever, and all of the other underlying issues are still there.
Meanwhile, the rest of Europe continues to follow the Greek economy into economic depression.
The Spanish economy shrunk again in the second quarter of 2012, and austerity in that nation has barely even begun.
As a recent CNBC article detailed, the big spending cuts are still coming….
The conservatives, who inherited from the outgoing Socialists one of the euro zone’s highest public deficits, at 8.9 percent of GDP in 2011, have said they will shrink the shortfall to 5.3 percent this year and 3 percent in 2013.
Austerity has absolutely shredded the Greek economy, and we are starting to see that same pattern be repeated all over Europe.
When you spend far more money than you bring in for decades, eventually you have to go through a very painful adjustment. What is going on in Greece should be a lesson for all of us. Debt allows you to live above your means, but the consequences of going into way too much debt can be absolutely horrific.
More debt can delay the consequences of a debt problem but it cannot solve a debt problem. The following is what Jim Rogers told CNBC on Friday….
“Just because now you have a way to get them (the banks) to borrow even more money, this is not solving the problem, this is making the problem worse,” Rogers said on Friday.
“People need to stop spending money they don’t have. The solution to too much debt is not more debt. All this little agreement does is give them (banks) a chance to have even more debt for a while longer,” he added.
But if you just went by the headlines in most of the newspapers around the world you would think that European leaders had discovered the cure for cancer or something.
Sadly, the truth is that they are simply choosing to fire off a few of the “financial bullets” that they still have left as a recent Washington Post article described….
The European bailout funds don’t have unlimited resources. If they throw $125 billion at Spain’s banks and another couple hundred billion toward Italy, pretty soon they’ll be running low. The only entity with unlimited euros is the European Central Bank. And right now, there’s no talk of using the ECB to provide bailouts. Which means that this latest move might have just forestalled the crisis, rather than ending it permanently.
So what comes next?
Bruce Krasting believes that the “half-life of this bailout will be measured in weeks”. The following is his summary of what he sees coming next in Europe….
If I’m right, after a few weeks things turn south again in the capital markets. Then what?
- More LTRO. No – there is no more collateral. All of the swill loans have already been hocked.
- Cut ECB % rate. Doesn’t matter. It won’t change conditions in Italian or Spanish funding markets one bit.
- A spending plan of <1% of GDP. That won’t put a dent in the recession that is building.
- Brussels buys more sovereign bonds to avoid a catastrophe of Italian 10-year exceeding 7% (capitulation). Sorry. There are “wise men” in Germany who will simply not allow this to happen in the scale that is required.
- The ECB goes Defcon 1 and launches a E2T QE program. No – same answer as above.
- Merkel does a 180 and embraces Euro bonds. No chance in hell.
-The US or China are going to start buying EU bonds? Lunacy – not happening.
-The IMF will come to the rescue? No way – the IMF does not have the resources to solve anyone’s problems.
In other words, kicking the can down the road is going to get quite a bit harder after the current “sugar high” wears off.
Europe is still headed for the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression (at least) and European leaders seem powerless to stop it.
Of course the United States is also facing a crisis of too much debt and a great day of reckoning is on the way for this country as well.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke claims that the Federal Reserve averted a second Great Depression by bailing out the big Wall Street banks during the last financial crisis, and he says that if a similar financial crisis comes along that the correct “policy response” will be to do the exact same thing again. This was the theme of the lecture that Bernanke delivered to students at George Washington University on Tuesday. In previous lectures Bernanke has defended the existence of the Fed and detailed the history of Fed activities, but on Tuesday he addressed things that have happened since he has been at the helm of the Fed. And according to Bernanke, he has been doing a great job. Bernanke told the students that the “threat of a second Great Depression was very real” and that the Federal Reserve did exactly what needed to be done to fix the financial system. Unfortunately, the truth is that all Bernanke did was kick the can a bit farther down the road. You can’t fix a debt problem with more debt, and the debt bubble we are living in today is far larger than it was in 2008. Will Bernanke still be trying to portray himself as a hero when this house of cards finally falls apart?
During his lecture to the students on Tuesday, Bernanke stated the following….
“I think the view is increasingly gaining acceptance that without the forceful policy response that stabilized the financial system in 2008 and early 2009, we could have had a much worse outcome in the economy.”
So what did that “forceful policy response” entail?
Well, on slide 24 of his presentation to the students Bernanke tells us….
• On October 10, 2008, G‐7 countries agreed to work together to stabilize the global financial system. They agreed to – prevent the failure of systemically important financial institutions – ensure financial institutions’ access to funding and capital – restore depositor confidence – work to normalize credit markets
Please note that not all financial institutions got bailed out.
In fact, hundreds of small and mid-size U.S. banks failed during the financial crisis.
It was only the “systemically important financial institutions” that got bailed out.
So who decided which financial institutions were important enough to be bailed out?
The Federal Reserve made those decisions. There were no Congressional votes and no input from the public. The Federal Reserve determined who the winners and the losers would be in secret and without any public debate.
So once the Federal Reserve bailed out the “too big to fail” banks, what was the outcome?
On page 25 of his presentation to the students Bernanke claimed that the bailouts successfully prevented the global financial system from collapsing….
• The international policy response averted the collapse of the global financial system.
But it wasn’t just big Wall Street banks that got bailed out. Bernanke says that AIG was also bailed out because the insurance company was deemed to be too “interconnected with many other parts of the global financial system” to be allowed to fail….
Because AIG was interconnected with many other parts of the global financial system, its failure would have had a massive effect on other financial firms and markets.
Once again, we see that it is the Federal Reserve who picks the winners and the losers.
AIG got bailed out and was then able to pay 100 cents on the dollar of what it owed to Goldman Sachs.
Not so fast. Those that are publicly declaring that an economic recovery has arrived are ignoring a whole host of numbers that indicate that the U.S. economy is in absolutely horrendous shape. The truth is that the health of an economy should not be measured by how well the stock market is doing. Rather, the truth health of an economy should be evaluated by looking at numbers for things like jobs, housing, poverty and debt. Some of the latest economic statistics indicate that unemployment is getting a little bit worse, that the housing market continues to deteriorate, that poverty in America continues to soar and that our debt problem is worse than ever. If we were truly experiencing the kind of economic recovery that the United States has experienced after every other post-World War II recession we would see a sharp improvement across the board in most of our economic statistics. But that simply is not happening. Sadly, this is about as much of an “economic recovery” as we are going to get because soon the economy will be getting much worse. So enjoy this period of relative stability while you can.
The Obama administration would have us believe that unemployment in the United States has declined, but the truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed has stayed very, very flat for more than two years and now there are some measures of unemployment that are actually getting worse.
For example, according to Gallup the unemployment rate in the United States has risen from 8.5% in December to 8.6% in January to 9.1% in February. The Obama administration would have us believe that it is actually going the other direction.
Initial unemployment claims are rising again. For the week ending March 3rd, they increased by 8,000 over the previous week to 362,000. This is not the kind of good news that people were hoping for.
What the U.S. economy could really use are millions of good jobs. But those are being shipped out of the country at a staggering pace.
Right now there are millions of Americans in their prime working years that are sitting at home wondering what to do with their lives. The average duration of unemployment in the United States continues to hover near a record high, and if we were truly experiencing an economic recovery it should have been falling by now.
But a lot of Americans have bought into the propaganda about an economic recovery and they are out running up huge amounts of debt once again. In January, consumer credit increased by much more than expected. The following is from a recent Reuters report….
Nonrevolving credit, which includes auto loans as well as student loans made by the government, rose $20.723 billion during the month. That was the biggest increase in dollar terms since November 2001, when credit was surging in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.
Don’t fall into the trap of debt slavery. During the last recession millions of Americans lost their homes and most of what they owned because they got overextended.
Don’t do it.
The U.S. housing market continues to deeply struggle as well. If we were really in an economic recovery housing would be bouncing back. But that is not happening. Just consider the following facts….
*The number of new homes sold in the United States continues to hover near a record low.
*U.S. home prices in the 4th quarter of 2011 were four percent lower than they were during the 4th quarter of 2010.
*According to CoreLogic, 22.8 percent of all homes with a mortgage in the United States were in negative equity as of the end of the 4th quarter of 2011. That was an increase from 22.1 percent in the third quarter.
Why are things still getting worse for the U.S housing market?
For example, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased to 46.5 million – a brand new all-time record.
If we really were in an economic recovery, wouldn’t that number be going down?
We should be thankful that the U.S. economy is not declining as rapidly as it was during 2008 and 2009. But what we are experiencing right now is not an economic recovery. It is simply just a bubble of false hope.
The big problem is that our nation is covered in an ocean of constantly expanding debt.
U.S. consumers are drowning in debt, U.S. businesses have pushed debt levels to the red line, and the U.S. financial system is massively overleveraged.
Of course government debt is our biggest debt problem of all.
All over the nation, state and local governments are on the verge of financial ruin.
If we were in the middle of an economic recovery, so many states would not be in crisis mode. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times declared that “California could run out of cash in March“. As the economy continues to crumble we are going to hear a lot more of this kind of thing.
A lot of local governments around the nation are on the verge of total financial collapse. Stockton, California has announced that they will be defaulting on some debt payments, and Suffolk County in New York recently declared a fiscal emergency after discovering that it would rack up more than 500 million dollars of debt between 2011 and 2013.
Keep your eyes open for more news items like this in the months ahead.
Of course the biggest problem of all is the U.S. national debt and it continues to rapidly get worse.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. government had a budget deficit of 229 billion dollars in the month of February. That is the worst one month budget deficit in the history of the United States.
The Congressional Budget Office also says that the U.S. government is now borrowing 42 cents of every single dollar that it spends.
The U.S. national debt has gotten more than 59 times larger since 1950.
But Barack Obama and most members of the U.S. Congress don’t really care about what they are doing to our future.
What they care about is winning the next election so that they can continue living their fabulous lives.
Barack Obama is supposed to be taking care of the American people, but instead he has been very busy taking care of the people who helped him get elected. Politics in America is all about money. Just check out the following very short excerpt from a recent article in the Washington Post….
More than half of Obama’s 47 biggest fundraisers, those who collected at least $500,000 for his campaign, have been given administration jobs. Nine more have been appointed to presidential boards and committees.
At least 24 Obama bundlers were given posts as foreign ambassadors, including in Finland, Australia, Portugal and Luxembourg. Among them is Don Beyer, a former Virginia lieutenant governor who serves as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Washington D.C. is deeply corrupt and if you are waiting for our politicians to fix our problems you are going to be deeply disappointed.
The federal government is not going to save you.
Our politicians are not going to save you.
You better figure out how you are going to take care of yourself and your family in the years ahead because this is about as good as things are going to get.
This “economic recovery” is about to end and more pain is about to begin.
Who ever imagined that Ben Bernanke would become a poster child for the student loan debt problem in America? Recently Bernanke told Congress that his son will graduate from medical school with about $400,000 of student loan debt. For most Americans, such a staggering amount of debt would almost certainly guarantee a lifetime of debt slavery. Unfortunately, Bernanke’s son is not alone. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, approximately 167,000 Americans have more than $200,000 of student loan debt. The cost of a college education has increased much more rapidly than the rate of inflation over the past several decades, and most students enter the “real world” today with a debt burden that will stay with them for most of their working lives. In an economy where there are so few good jobs for college graduates, it can be incredibly difficult to get married, buy a house or afford to have children when you are drowning in student loan debt. It would be hard to overstate the financial pain that student loans are causing many young adults in America today. The student loan debt problem is a national crisis and it is not going away any time soon.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that the total amount of student loan debt in America now exceeds the total of all credit card debt in the country. It also exceeds the total of all auto loans.
The New York Fed says that there is a total of $870 billion owed on student loans in the United States right now. Other sources claim that the total amount of student loan debt in the United States will soon exceed one trillion dollars.
Either way, we are talking about an extraordinary amount of money.
Sadly, approximately two-thirds of all U.S. college students graduate with student loan debt these days. The average amount of student loan debt at graduation is approximately $25,000.
That might not be so bad if the economy was full of good paying jobs for college graduates, but that simply is not the case.
As college tuition continues to soar, the student loan debt problem continues to get even worse. U.S. college students are borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago after adjusting for inflation.
That is not a good trend.
The truth is that it has simply gotten way too expensive to go to college.
Back in 1952, a full year of tuition at Harvard was only $600.
“I pay almost $1,000 a month just in student loan repayment. I will have to do so for the next 30 years. How will I ever afford to buy a house, have children or save for the future?”
After working so hard all the way through school, is that any kind of a “future” to look forward to?
The system is failing our young people.
Many young college graduates have found themselves unable to make their payments or have simply decided to quit making payments.
Officially, the student loan default rate has nearly doubled since 2005. But a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that things may be even worse than that. According to the New York Fed, approximately one out of every four student loan balances are past-due at this point.
But it isn’t just young people getting into trouble with student loan debt.
These days, financial institutions are increasingly targeting parents. Federal student loans often do not cover all of the expenses of college in this day and age, and so increasingly loans are being made to parents to make up the difference. Student loans made to directly to parents have increased by 75 percent since the 2005-2006 academic year.
Unfortunately, what students and parents are getting in return for all of this money is not that great.
I spent eight years of my life studying at U.S. colleges and universities. The institutions that I attended were supposed to be better than most. But most of the classes that I took were a total joke. A 6-year-old child could have passed most of them.
Almost everyone agrees that the quality of college education in America is in a serious state of decline. The goal is to get these kids through the system and to keep collecting the big tuition checks.
When I was in school, I could hardly believe how little was being required of me. But being as lazy as I was, I certainly did not complain.
If only more parents realized what was really going on.
The following are some facts about the quality of college education in the United States from a USA Today article….
-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”
-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”
-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”
-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”
-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”
Are you starting to get the picture?
If you are in college right now, enjoy the good times while they last, because when you graduate you will find that there are very few good jobs available for the hordes of new college graduates that are pouring into the labor market.
For a new college graduate, things can be rather depressing. Just consider the following statistics….
*About a third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don’t even require college degrees.
*In the United States today, there are more than 100,000 janitors that have college degrees.
Goldman Sachs is doing it again. Goldman is telling the public that everything is going to be just fine, but meanwhile they are advising their top clients to bet on a huge financial collapse. On August 16th, a 54 page report authored by Goldman strategist Alan Brazil was distributed to institutional clients. The general public was not intended to see this report. Fortunately, some folks over at the Wall Street Journal got their hands on a copy and they have filled us in on some of the details. It turns out that Goldman Sachs secretly believes that an economic collapse is coming, and they have some very interesting ideas about how to make money in the turbulent financial environment that we will soon be entering. In the report, Brazil says that the U.S. debt problem cannot be solved with more debt, that the European sovereign debt crisis is going to get even worse and that there are large numbers of financial institutions in Europe that are on the verge of collapse. If this is what people at the highest levels of the financial world are talking about, perhaps we should all start paying attention.
There is a tremendous amount of fear in the global financial community right now. As I wrote about the other day, the financial world is about to hit the panic button. Things could start falling apart at any time. Most of these big banks will not admit how bad things are publicly, but privately there is a whole lot of freaking out going on.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Brazil believes that “as much as $1 trillion in capital may be needed to shore up European banks; that small businesses in the U.S., a past driver of job production, are still languishing; and that China’s growth may not be sustainable.”
Perhaps most startling of all is what the report has to say about the debt problems of the United States and Europe.
“Solving a debt problem with more debt has not solved the underlying problem. In the US, Treasury debt growth financed the US consumer but has not had enough of an impact on job growth. Can the US continue to depreciate the world’s base currency?”
Remember, this statement was not written by some guy on the Internet. A top Goldman Sachs analyst put it into a report for institutional investors.
The report also goes into great detail about the financial crisis in Europe. Brazil writes about how the euro is headed for trouble and about how dozens of financial institutions in Europe could potentially be in danger of collapse.
But in any environment Goldman Sachs thinks that it can make money. The following is how Business Insider summarized the advice that Brazil gave in the report regarding how to make money off of the impending collapse in Europe….
Buy a six-month put option on the Euro versus the Swiss Franc, thus betting the Euro will drop against the Franc (the Franc being the currency that an official Goldman report recently referred to as the most overvalued in the world)
Buy a five-year credit default swap on an index of European corporate debt—the iTraxx 9. This is a bet that some of these companies will default, and your insurance policy, the CDS, will pay off
This is so typical of Goldman Sachs. They will say one thing publicly and then turn around and do the total opposite privately.
For example, prior to the financial crisis of 2008, Goldman Sachs was putting together mortgage-backed securities that they knew were garbage and marketing them to investors as AAA-rated investments. On top of that, Goldman then often privately bet against those exact same securities.
So will Goldman Sachs ever get into serious trouble for any of this?
No, of course not.
Yeah, they will get a slap on the wrist from time to time, but the reality is that the top levels of the federal government are absolutely littered with ex-employees of Goldman Sachs. Goldman is one of the “too big to fail” banks and they are going to continue to do pretty much whatever they feel like doing.
Goldman Sachs was the second biggest donor to Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008, so don’t expect Obama to do anything about any of this.
We have a financial system that is deeply, deeply corrupt and all of that corruption is a big reason why things are falling apart.
Sadly, the 54 page report mentioned above is right – we really are facing a global debt meltdown and we really are heading for an economic collapse.
You aren’t going to hear the truth from the mainstream media or from our politicians because “keeping people calm” is much more of a priority to them than telling the truth is.
The debt crisis in the United States is unsustainable and the debt crisis in Europe is unsustainable. Right now we are in the calm before the storm, and nobody knows exactly when the storm is going to strike.
But let there be no doubt – it is coming.
The amazing prosperity that we have enjoyed for the last several decades has largely been a debt-fueled illusion. It was a great party while it lasted, but now it is coming to an end and the aftermath of the coming crash is going to be absolutely horrific.
Keep watch and get prepared. We don’t know exactly when the collapse is going to happen, but it is definitely on the way and now even Goldman Sachs is admitting that.
Right now, interest rates are near historic lows. The U.S. government is able to borrow gigantic mountains of money for next to nothing. U.S. consumers are still able to get home loans, car loans and student loans at ridiculously low interest rates. When this low interest rate environment changes (and it will), it is going to absolutely devastate the U.S. economy. Without low interest rates, the U.S. financial system dies. When it comes to borrowing money, it is the rate of interest that causes the pain. If you could borrow as much money as you wanted at a zero rate of interest for the rest of your life you would never, ever have a debt problem. But when there is a cost to borrowing money that changes things. The higher the rate of interest goes, the more painful debt becomes.
The only reason that U.S. government finances have not fallen apart completely already is because the federal government is still able to borrow huge amounts of money very cheaply. If interest rates on U.S. government debt even return just to “average” levels, it is going to be absolutely catastrophic.
So what happens if rates go above “average”?
The reality is that if there is a major crisis that causes interest rates on U.S. Treasuries to go well beyond “normal” levels it is going to cause a complete and total collapse.
In 2010, the U.S. government paid out just $413 billion in interest even though the national debt soared to 14 trillion dollars by the end of the year.
That means that the U.S. government paid somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 percent interest for the year.
Considering how rapidly the U.S. dollar has been declining and how much money printing the Federal Reserve has been doing, a rate of interest that low is absolutely ridiculous.
The shorter the term, the more ridiculous the rates of interest on U.S. Treasuries are.
For example, the rate of interest on 3 month U.S. Treasuries right now is just barely above zero.
The Federal Reserve has been playing all kinds of games in an attempt to keep interest rates on U.S. government debt low, and so far they have been pretty successful at it.
But they aren’t going to be able to do it forever.
Up until now, other nations and investors around the world have continued to participate in the system even though they know that the Federal Reserve is cheating.
However, there are signs that a lot of investors are finally getting fed up and are ready to walk away from U.S. government debt.
China has been dumping short-term U.S. government debt. Russia has been dumping U.S. government debt. Pimco has been dumping U.S. government debt.
Others are taking things even farther.
In fact, there are some investors that plan on cashing in on the loss of confidence in U.S. Treasuries. Renowned investor Jim Rogers says that he is now going to be shorting 30 year U.S. government bonds.
“I cannot imagine or conceive lending money to the United States government for 30-years at 3, 4, 5 or 6 percent —you pick a number — in U.S. dollars”
And he is right. Who in the world would be stupid enough to loan the U.S. government money at a 4 or 5 percent rate of interest for the next 30 years?
Actually, most U.S. government debt is financed in the short-term these days. In fact, the U.S. government issues a higher percentage of short-term debt than any other industrialized nation.
This trend really got started during the Clinton administration. Back then they figured out that the U.S. could reduce its borrowing costs substantially by relying much more heavily on short-term debt. The Bush and Obama administrations have continued this trend.
So these days the U.S. government constantly has huge amounts of debt that are maturing and that need to be rolled over.
This is great as long as interest rates stay very, very low.
But when interest rates rise the whole game will change.
In a recent article, Pat Buchanan explained that the Obama administration is being completely unrealistic when it assumes that interest rates on U.S. government debt will stay incredibly low over the next decade….
“The average rate of interest the Fed has had to pay to borrow for the last two decades has been 5.7 percent. However, President Obama is projecting the cost of money at only 2.5 percent.
A return to the normal Fed rate would, by 2020, add $4.9 trillion to the cumulative deficit”
Most Americans really cannot grasp how incredibly low interest rates are right now.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.
The following chart shows how interest rates on 10 year U.S. Treasury bonds have declined over the last several decades.
As confidence in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. government debt declines, interest rates will go up.
In fact, there are troubling signs that we are starting to see a move in that direction right now. Last week, the yield on 5 year U.S. Treasuries experienced the biggest one week percentage jump ever recorded.
The big danger is that the political wrangling in Washington D.C. will start to cause a panic. The managing director of Standard & Poor’s recently told Reuters that if the U.S. government starts defaulting on debt at the beginning of August, the credit rating on U.S. Treasury bonds that are supposed to mature on August 4th will go from AAA all the way down to D….
Chambers, who is also the chairman of S&P’s sovereign ratings committee, told Reuters on Tuesday that U.S. Treasury bills maturing on August 4 would be rated ‘D’ if the government fails to honor them. Unaffected Treasuries would be downgraded as well, but not as sharply, he said.
“If the U.S. government misses a payment, it goes to D,” Chambers said. “That would happen right after August 4, when the bills mature, because they don’t have a grace period.”
When a credit rating gets slashed, interest rates on that debt can go up dramatically.
You are delusional if you believe that something like that can never happen here.
Right now the U.S. national debt is completely and totally out of control. If the U.S. government had to start paying interest rates of 10, 15 or 20 percent to borrow money it would be a total nightmare.
This year the U.S. government will have income of about 2.2 trillion dollars.
If in future years the U.S. government is spending a trillion or a trillion and a half dollars just on interest on the national debt, then how in the world is it going to be possible to even run the government, much less balance the budget?
But rising interest rates would not just devastate the federal government.
It would become much more expensive for state and local governments to borrow money.
Student loans would become much more expensive.
Car loans would become much more expensive.
Home loans would become out of reach for everyone except the very wealthy.
As we saw during the housing crash of a few years ago, rising interest rates can absolutely wipe homeowners out.
On a standard home loan, if you change the rate of interest from 5 percent to 10 percent you increase the mortgage payment by approximately 50 percent.
If you change the rate of interest from 5 percent to 15 percent, you roughly double the mortgage payment.
As the 30 year fixed rate mortgage chart below shows, interest rates are near historic lows right now….
So what would a significant spike in interest rates do to it?
When all of these low interest rates go away the entire financial system is going to change dramatically.
A significant spike in interest rates would wipe out U.S. government finances, it would push state and local governments all over the country to the brink of bankruptcy, it would bring economic activity to a standstill and it would destroy any hopes for a housing recovery.
This country, and in particular the federal government, is enslaved to debt but right now we are not feeling the full pain of that debt because interest rates are so low.
If you want to know when things are really going to start coming apart, just keep an eye on interest rates. When they really start spiking you can start sounding the alarm.
The truth is that the state of the economy is going to continue to get worse. Our debt is growing every single day and our country is getting poorer every single day. When interest rates start surging it is going to start knocking over a lot of dominoes.
I hope you are getting prepared for when that happens.
Every year when July 4th rolls around, Americans from coast to coast celebrate July 4th with cookouts, outdoor concerts and fireworks. We love celebrating Independence Day and yet we are deeply enslaved to debt. We like to think of ourselves as “free” and yet we have rolled up the biggest pile of debt the world has ever seen. The people that we have borrowed all of this money from expect to be paid. Sadly, instead of addressing the problem, we have been loading more debt on to the backs of future generations with each passing year. What we are doing to our kids and our grandkids is so immoral that is almost defies description. At the heart of this debt-based system stands the Federal Reserve. It is a perpetual debt machine that was designed to trap the U.S. government in a spiral of debt permanently. Today, the U.S. national debt is 4700 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913. This year alone, we will add more to the national debt than we did from the presidency of George Washington to the beginning of the presidency of Ronald Reagan. So yes, enjoy the hotdogs and the fireworks, but also remember that we will never be free as long as this constantly expanding debt problem is hanging over our heads.
If you know anyone that does not take our national debt problem seriously, please share with them the video posted below. It is entitled “Economic Armageddon and You” and it is definitely worth the 5 minutes that it takes to watch it. Someone out there did a really great job of explaining our debt problem in a way that almost anyone can understand….
So is there any solution to this problem?
Not under the current system.
The debt-based Federal Reserve system is designed to expand U.S. government debt indefinitely. But of course all debt bubbles burst eventually and we are rapidly reaching that point.
It is being projected that the U.S. national debt will hit 344% of GDP by the year 2050 if we continue on our current course. The truth is that it would never get even close to that high because the whole system would completely collapse long before then.
We need to transition to an entirely new system that has nothing to do with the Federal Reserve or Federal Reserve notes. We need an entirely new system where the money is not based on debt.
But even though more Americans than ever are awake to the flaws in our monetary system, the truth is that neither major political party is remotely ready to even consider an end to the current financial system.
Many Republicans believe that if we can just cut government spending enough we can solve the problem. Many Democrats believe that if we can just “raise enough revenue” we can solve the problem.
Neither of those solutions will work.
Many conservatives are so frustrated with the whole thing that they just want Congress to refuse to raise the debt ceiling. I have taken a lot of heat over the past couple of days for suggesting that this is a bad idea.
If we refuse to raise the debt ceiling, our borrowing costs will absolutely explode. Even if the U.S. government adopted a “balanced budget” by some miracle, the reality is that the federal government would still need to “roll over” very large amounts of debt every single year. If interest rates on U.S. debt rise substantially it will be beyond catastrophic.
In 2010, the U.S. government paid $413 billion in interest on the national debt.
If interest rates were to start rising as a result of a debt default, interest on the national debt would likely double or even triple.
Look, if we want to come anywhere close to balancing the budget under our current system, it will be a whole lot easier to do if we are spending 400 billion dollars on interest on the national debt rather than 1.2 trillion dollars.
Today, the U.S. government only takes in about 2.2 trillion dollars in taxes. How in the world are we going to have a chance if we have to pay out a trillion dollars just in interest on the national debt?
The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries rose from 2.86% to 3.18% just this past week. Let us hope that this is not the beginning of a bad trend.
A refusal to raise the debt ceiling would also likely set off another recession (or worse). The following is what a new article on CNBC says would happen if the U.S. does not raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd….
A U.S. default would not only be historic, it would also almost certainly lead to a new financial crisis. Interest rates would likely spike, equity markets would plunge along with the value of the dollar, and the country could fall back into a recession.
We have to raise the debt ceiling.
So does this mean that I am advocating “kicking the can down the road”?
If you are a conservative, you can still get the same result that you want without destroying the credit rating of the United States.
All the Republicans in Congress have to do is to pledge that they will never pass anything but a balanced budget for 2012 or for any year beyond that. Without the permission of the House of Representatives, Barack Obama and the Democrats cannot continue their deficit spending. The sad truth is that the Republicans have been enabling and actively participating in this debt binge all along.
A balanced budget would definitely hurt the economy, but at least it would not wreck our credit rating and cause our borrowing costs to multiply.
But is that what the Republicans are shooting for?
It is being reported that the Republicans and the Democrats have tentatively agreed to between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years.
So that comes to $200 billion in spending cuts a year at most.
Considering the fact that we are running budget deficits of about a trillion and a half dollars a year, that is not nearly enough.
So don’t accuse me of wanting to kick the can down the road. I want to actually do something substantial about the national debt. I just don’t think it is a good idea to trash our credit rating in the process.
It is the Republicans and the Democrats in Congress that are kicking the can down the road.
Trillion dollar deficits are not acceptable. Our nation is on the road to financial ruin.
But it is not just the federal government that is in massive financial trouble.
The reality is that we have “government debt problems” from coast to coast.
Did you hear that the government of Minnesota shut down the other day?
As the financial health of almost every single state government continues to decline, this type of thing is going to become more common.
In the state of Illinois things are so bad that some income tax refunds have not been paid since 2009. The following is a brief excerpt from an article on the Economic Policy Journal blog….
I repeat, this is no time to own state or municipal bonds. The desperation level at various states and municipalities is getting more and more intense.
With the start of a new budget year just two days away, thousands of Illinois businesses are still waiting for state income tax refunds dating back to 2009.
In a recent article entitled “Is The Economy Improving?“, I went into greater detail about the horrific financial crisis that Illinois is facing….
Did you know that things have gotten so bad in Illinois at this point that the Illinois state government is letting bills go unpaid for long periods of time on a regular basis?
Right now they have billions in unpaid bills and they are facing a financial future that is so bleak that it is almost indescribable.
In one recent article, author Stephen Lendman described the horrific financial crisis that Illinois is facing right now….
With spending exceeding revenues, and obligations not postponed, unpaid bills are growing “at a frightening rate. For instance, IGPA’s Fiscal Futures Model indicates (they) could reach $40 billion by July 1, 2013, with an associated delay in paying those bills of more than five years.”
Besides its $13 billion deficit and $6 billion in unpaid bills, its pension fund is about $130 billion in the red – a red flag that state workers may lose out altogether, wiping out their promised retirement savings.
But it isn’t just the state government that is having problems. According to Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, the average household in Chicago would owe a whopping $63,525 if all local government debt was divided up equally among all of the households.
How can we claim that our country is free when we are enslaved to such horrible debt burdens?
The borrower is always a servant of the lender. As a nation, we are becoming a little bit less independent every single day.
So enjoy celebrating Independence Day while you still can.
If we continue on the path that we are currently on, nobody is going to be celebrating much of anything in the future.