Where Does Money Come From? The Giant Federal Reserve Scam That Most Americans Do Not Understand

How is money created?  If you ask average people on the street this question, most of them have absolutely no idea.  This is rather odd, because we all use money constantly.  You would think that it would only be natural for all of us to know where it comes from.  So where does money come from?  A lot of people assume that the federal government creates our money, but that is not the case.  If the federal government could just print and spend more money whenever it wanted to, our national debt would be zero.  But instead, our national debt is now nearly 16 trillion dollars.  So why does our government (or any sovereign government for that matter) have to borrow money from anybody?  That is a very good question.  The truth is that in theory the U.S. government does not have to borrow a single penny from anyone.  But under the Federal Reserve system, the U.S. government has purposely allowed itself to be subjugated to a financial system in which it will be constantly borrowing larger and larger amounts of money.  In fact, this is how it works in the vast majority of the countries on the planet at this point.  As you will see, this kind of system is not sustainable and the structural problems caused by such a system are at the very heart of our debt problems today.

So where does money come from?  In the United States, it comes from the Federal Reserve.

When the U.S. government decides that it wants to spend another billion dollars that it does not have, it does not print up a billion dollars.

Rather, the U.S. government creates a bunch of U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) and takes them over to the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve creates a billion dollars out of thin air and exchanges them for the U.S. Treasury bonds.

So why does the U.S. government go to all this trouble?  Why doesn’t the U.S. government create the money itself?

Those are very good questions.

One of the primary reasons why our system is structured this way is so that wealthy people can get even wealthier by lending money to the U.S. government and other national governments.

For example, last year the U.S. government spent more than 454 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt.

Over the centuries, the ultra-wealthy have found lending to national governments to be a very, very profitable enterprise.

The U.S. Treasury bonds that the Federal Reserve receives in exchange for the money it has created out of nothing are auctioned off through the Federal Reserve system.

But wait.

There is a problem.

Because the U.S. government must pay interest on the Treasury bonds, the amount of debt that has been created by this transaction is greater than the amount of money that has been created.

So where will the U.S. government get the money to pay that debt?

Well, the theory is that we can get money to circulate through the economy really, really fast and tax it at a high enough rate that the government will be able to collect enough taxes to pay the debt.

But that never actually happens, does it?

And the creators of the Federal Reserve understood this as well.  They understood that the U.S. government would not have enough money to both run the government and service the national debt.  They knew that the U.S. government would have to keep borrowing even more money in an attempt to keep up with the game.

That is why I call the Federal Reserve a perpetual debt machine.  The Federal Reserve was created to trap the U.S. government in an endlessly expanding debt spiral from which there is no escape.

And the Federal Reserve is doing a great job at what it was designed to do.  Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

Another way that money comes into existence in our economy is through the process of fractional reserve banking.

I originally pulled the following simplified explanation of fractional reserve banking off of the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, but it has been pulled down since then.  But I still think it is helpful in understanding the basics of how fractional reserve banking works….

If the reserve requirement is 10%, for example, a bank that receives a $100 deposit may lend out $90 of that deposit. If the borrower then writes a check to someone who deposits the $90, the bank receiving that deposit can lend out $81. As the process continues, the banking system can expand the initial deposit of $100 into a maximum of $1,000 of money ($100+$90+81+$72.90+…=$1,000).”

When you put your money into the bank, it does not say there.  The bank only keeps a relatively small amount of money sitting around to satisfy the withdrawal demands of account holders.  If all of us went down to the banks right now and demanded our money, that would create a major problem.

If I put 100 dollars into the bank and the bank lends out 90 of those dollars to you, now it looks like there are 190 dollars floating around.  I have “100 dollars” in my bank account and you have “90 dollars” that you just borrowed.

The new debt that you have taken on (90 dollars) has “created” more money.  But of course you are going to end up paying back more than 90 dollars to the bank, so more debt has been created than the amount of money that has been created.

And that is one of the big problems with our financial system.  It is designed so that the amount of debt and the amount of money are supposed to be perpetually expanding, and the amount of debt created is always greater than the amount of money that is created.

So is it any wonder that our society is swamped with nearly 55 trillion dollars of total debt at this point?

A debt-based financial system is unsustainable by nature because it will always create debt bubbles that will inevitably burst.

Are you starting to see why so many Americans are saying that we need to abolish the Federal Reserve system?

Our founding fathers never intended for our financial system to work this way.

According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress is supposed to have the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.

So why has this authority been given to a private institution that is dominated by the big Wall Street banks and that has actually argued in court that it is “not an agency” of the federal government?

Thomas Jefferson once said that if he could add just one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be a ban on all government borrowing….

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

But instead, we have become enslaved to a system where government borrowing actually creates our money.

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and we have allowed our government to enslave us to the tune of nearly 16 trillion dollars.

There are alternatives to this system.  Things do not have to work this way.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians consider the Federal Reserve to be good for America and steadfastly refuse to do anything to change the status quo.

So if you are waiting for “solutions” to these problems on the national level you are going to be waiting for a very long time.

The debt problems that the United States and Europe are experiencing did not come into existence by accident.  They are the result of fundamental structural problems with the financial system.

A debt-based financial system is always going to fail in the long run.  Unfortunately, most Americans still do not understand this and so we will all get to suffer the consequences.

If A Global Recession Is Not Looming, Then Why Are Bailouts Flying Around As If The End Of The World Is Coming?

I have learned that watching what people do is much more important than listening to what they say.  Back in 2008, financial authorities in the United States insisted that everything was gone to be okay.  But we all know now that was a lie.  Well, right now financial authorities in the U.S. and Europe are once again trying to assure us that everything is under control and that we are not headed for a global recession.  Unfortunately, their actions are telling a very different story.  All over the world, bailouts are flying around as if the end of the world is coming.  Governments and central banks are stepping in with gigantic mountains of money to prop up bond yields, major banks and even stock markets.  What we have seen over the past few months has been absolutely unprecedented.  So why are such desperate measures being taken if everything is going to be just fine?  Unfortunately, debt problems are never solved with more debt, so these bailouts really aren’t solving anything.  We are still headed for a massive amount of financial pain.  It would just be nice if the authorities would quit lying to us and would actually admit how bad things really are.

Today it was announced that the European Central Bank has agreed to make $638 billion in 3 year loans to 523 different banks.  Never before (not even during the last financial crisis) has the ECB loaned so much cheap money to European banks at one time.

This move by the ECB made headlines all over the globe.  CNBC is calling them “ultra-long and ultra-cheap loans“.

European authorities are hoping that European banks will use this money to make loans to businesses and to buy up the debt of troubled European governments.

But as we have seen in the United States, bailout money does not always get spent the way that the authorities intend for it to be spent.

The truth is that the banks could end up just sitting on the money.  That is what happened with a lot of bailout money in the United States during the last financial crisis.

European authorities hope, however, that European banks will take this super cheap money and lend it to European governments at much higher interest rates.

Unfortunately, global financial markets were not terribly impressed with this move by the ECB.  European bond yields actually rose and the euro just kept on falling.

Every few days another major “solution” to the European debt crisis is put out there, but so far nothing has worked.

For example, the European Central Bank has already spent over 274 billion dollars directly buying up European government bonds, and yet bond yields continue to hover in very dangerous territory.

But without ECB intervention, we probably would have already seen a major financial collapse in Europe.

The financial system of Europe is a total mess right now, and everyone is becoming incredibly dependent on the ECB.  The following comes from a recent Reuters article….

One of the key factors certain to have boosted demand is that banks are now more reliant than ever on central bank funds. The ECB said on Monday, in its semi-annual Financial Stability Review, that this dependency could be difficult to cure.

French banks have almost quadrupled their intake of ECB money since June to 150 billion euros, while banks in Italy and Spain are each taking more than 100 billion euros.

At this point, the ECB has the weight of the entire world on its shoulders.  One false move and we could see a huge wave of bank failures and we could be plunged into a major global recession.

But even with all of this unprecedented assistance, we have already seen some big time European banks fail.

Back in Obtober, Dexia was the first major European bank to be bailed out, and the cost of that bailout is going to exceed 100 billion dollars.

The funny thing is that Dexia actually passed the banking stress test that was conducted earlier this year with flying colors.

So what does that say about all of the other major European banks that did not do so well on the stress test?

In addition, it was recently announced that Germany’s second largest bank is going to need a bailout.

The following comes from a Sky News report….

Germany’s second largest bank, Commerzbank, is reportedly in discussions with the German government about a bailout after regulators said it needed to raise more money to cope with a potential default on its loans to governments.

“Intense talks” have been going on for several days, according to sources who spoke to the news agency Reuters.

Even with unprecedented intervention by the ECB, the truth is that the European banking system is rapidly failing.

In Greece, a full-blown run on the banks is happening.  According to a recent Der Spiegel article, funds are being pulled out of Greek banks at a pace that is astounding….

He means that the outflow of funds from Greek bank accounts has been accelerating rapidly. At the start of 2010, savings and time deposits held by private households in Greece totalled €237.7 billion — by the end of 2011, they had fallen by €49 billion. Since then, the decline has been gaining momentum. Savings fell by a further €5.4 billion in September and by an estimated €8.5 billion in October — the biggest monthly outflow of funds since the start of the debt crisis in late 2009.

In all, approximately 20 percent of all deposits in Greek banks have been withdrawn since the start of 2011.

Other European nations are implementing draconian measures in an attempt to protect their banks.  For example, in Italy all cash transactions over 1000 euros have been permanently banned.  People will either have to use checks, debit cards or credit cards for large transactions.  This will “encourage” people to keep more money in the banks, and this will also make it much easier for the Italian government to track transactions and to collect taxes.

But it is not just in the EU where we find unusual steps being taken.

In the UK, the Bank of England is acting like the end of the world is about to happen.  The following comes from a recent article on the This Is Money website….

The deputy governor of the Bank of England today warned the situation surrounding the single currency was ‘worrying’ and that the Bank was making preparations to support British banks, should the eurozone collapse.

A temporary loan facility has been introduced as a precaution, for use in the event of contagion from the eurozone crisis endangering UK institutions, Charlie Bean said in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s World at One.

An article posted on Business Insider a while back says that Switzerland is also preparing for “a euro collapse”….

The Swiss government is preparing for a collapse of the euro, according to Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.

She told parliament that a work group was studying the imposition of capital controls and negative interest rates to protect Switzerland from the capital flight that a euro collapse would engender

Frightening stuff.

On the other side of the world, the government of China is also taking action.  In fact, China is actually injecting money into the stock market in order to prop up stock prices.

The following comes from an article in the China Post….

In a movement considered “long overdue” by some analysts, the injection of government money into the tanking stock market to prop up stock prices has been given the green light, government officials announced yesterday.

Vice Premier Chen, the topmost government official charged with the country’s financial stability, however, insisted the fundamentals of the economy and the stock market are sound, expressing his hope for continued optimism among the people.

Of course the Federal Reserve is not going to stand on the sideline while all of this is going on.  In a recent article, I described how the Federal Reserve is helping to bail out European banks….

The Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, the Bank of Canada, the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank have announced a coordinated plan to provide liquidity support to the global financial system.  According to the plan, the Federal Reserve is going to substantially reduce the interest rate that it charges the European Central Bank to borrow dollars.  In turn, that will enable the ECB to lend dollars to European banks at a much cheaper rate.  The hope is that this will alleviate the credit crunch which has gripped the European financial system by the throat.  So where is the Federal Reserve going to get all of these dollars that it will be loaning out at very low interest rates?  You guessed it – the Fed is just going to create them out of thin air.  Our currency is being debased so that Europe can be helped out.

If the global financial system was in good shape, all of these bailouts would not be happening.

These desperate measures are a clear sign that something is up.

The financial authorities of the world are doing their best to keep the system together, but in the end they are not going to be able to prevent the collapse that is coming.

The world is heading for incredibly hard economic times.

So is the end of the world coming?

No.

But to many in the financial world it may feel like it.  The coming global recession is not going to be fun.

We have now reached a point where it has become “normal” for governments and central banks to throw money at one financial crisis after another.

At one time, bailouts were so unusual that they provoked a great deal of outrage.

Today, bailouts have become standard operating procedure.

The bailouts will continue to get larger and larger, and authorities all over the globe will do their very best to keep the house of cards from coming crashing down.

Unfortunately, they will not be successful.

The Worst In The World – The U.S. Balance Of Trade Is Mind-Blowingly Bad

Did you know that we buy about a half a trillion dollars more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us?  The U.S. balance of trade is not only mind-blowingly bad – it is the worst in the world.  It is being projected that the U.S. trade deficit for 2011 will be 558.2 billion dollars.  That would be an increase of more than 11 percent from last year.  As I have written about previously, the United States is the worst in the world at a lot of things, but as far as the economic well-being of our nation is concerned, our balance of trade is particularly important.  Every single month, far more money goes out of this country than comes into it.  Tax revenues are significantly reduced as all of this money gets sucked out of our communities.  The federal government, state governments and local governments borrow gigantic piles of money to try to make up the difference, but all of this borrowing just makes our debt problems a whole lot worse.  In the end, no amount of government debt is going to be able to cover over the fact that our national economic pie is shrinking.  We are continually consuming far more wealth than we produce, and that is a recipe for economic disaster.

The “current account balance” is one key indicator of how a country is doing economically.  The following is how the CIA World Factbook defines “current account balance”….

This entry records a country’s net trade in goods and services, plus net earnings from rents, interest, profits, and dividends, and net transfer payments (such as pension funds and worker remittances) to and from the rest of the world during the period specified.

If someone were to ask you what countries in the world have strong, thriving economies right now, what countries would you think of?

Would countries like China, Germany, Russia and Saudi Arabia come to mind?

Well, all of those nations have huge positive current account balances.  In fact, China has the best current account balance in the world at +$305 billion.

So who is on the other end of the scale?

The following information comes directly from a CIA World Factbook chart….

190 Turkey $ -48,420,000,000

191 Canada $ -48,500,000,000

192 India $ -51,780,000,000

193 France $ -54,400,000,000

194 United Kingdom $ -56,190,000,000

195 Spain $ -63,650,000,000

196 Italy $ -67,940,000,000

197 United States $ -470,200,000,000

The United States is rated dead last at number 197.

Just take a close look at those numbers for a minute.

The U.S. had a current account balance of negative 470 billion dollars in 2010.  That figure was almost 7 times worse than the next worst country (Italy).

Not only does the United States have the worst current account balance in the entire world, the truth is that no other country is even in the same ballpark as us.

We are bleeding wealth so fast that it is hard to even describe it.

But perhaps a real life example can help put this all into perspective.

One 22-year-old Saudi Arabian student has a collection of sports cars that is worth more than 12 million dollars.  Reportedly, his collection includes at least three Lamborghinis, five Ferraris and five Porsches.

And guess who paid for it?

You did.

Every month, billions of dollars go out of the United States to help pay for the insane lifestyles of the ultra-wealthy oil barons of the Middle East.

Meanwhile, dozens of major U.S. cities are degenerating into hellholes.

Once upon a time, Detroit was one of the greatest industrial cities that the world has ever seen.  It was the envy of the entire globe.

But now Detroit is an utter nightmare….

*An analysis of census figures found that 48.5% of all men living in Detroit from age 20 to age 64 did not have a job in 2008.

*If you can believe it, the median price of a home in Detroit is now just $6000.

*Only 25 percent of students in Detroit graduate from high school.

So what happened to Detroit?

Well, just as has been happening in so many other U.S. cities, industry has been leaving at an astounding pace.

As I have written about previously, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day were shut down in the United States during 2010.

Overall, the U.S. has lost a total of more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

This country is bleeding middle class jobs profusely, and neither major political party seems to care.

American family budgets are being stretched tighter and tighter these days.  There are not nearly enough good jobs to go around and yet the cost of everything just seems to keep going up.

Many families are going into massive amounts of debt in an attempt to make ends meet.  According to a recent CNN article, credit card use in the United States is experiencing a major upswing once again….

Purchases made with credit cards rose 8.2% in the first quarter of 2011, 9% in the second quarter and 10.6% in the third quarter, according to First Data.

Of course American consumers were out in force on Black Friday once again this year.  They gleefully filled up their carts with cheap plastic crap made overseas, and many racked up huge credit card balances in the process.

But most of us never stop to think about those that make all of these cheap plastic products for us.

Thanks to the globalization of the economy, big corporations and corrupt governments can make stuff in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages and then ship their products into the United States for free.

It is important for all of us to learn what actually happens to these people that are working so hard for slave labor wages.  The following comes from a recent article in the Guardian….

At the Hung Hing factory the researcher found that the 8,000 workers put in up to 100 hours of overtime a month, far in excess of the legal maximum. Workers say they have to sign a document agreeing to work additional overtime on top of the legal maximum. The basic wage was £132 a month (up to £250 with maximum overtime payments) but wages were paid up to three weeks late.

Workers complained of inadequate training with the factory machines and last year one worker died when he fell into a machine. They said there were frequent injuries and concerns over the chemicals used. There were also complaints about the standard of the dormitories, where water for washing and flushing toilets is turned off at 10pm.

How in the world are American workers supposed to “compete” for jobs at those wage levels?

As I have written about previously, Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University is warning that 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if nothing is done to stop this.

But instead, our “representatives” in Congress just keep pushing more “free trade” agreements as the answer to our problems.  Congress has passed new free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, and the Obama administration has made “the NAFTA of the Pacific” a very high priority.

Well, if “free trade” is supposed to create so many jobs, then why was last decade the worst decade for the creation of jobs since the Great Depression?

If you can believe it, zero jobs were created between 1999 and 2009.  The following comes from an article in Washington Monthly….

“If any single number captures the state of the American economy over the last decade, it is zero. That was the net gain in jobs between 1999 and 2009—nada, nil, zip. By painful contrast, from the 1940s through the 1990s, recessions came and went, but no decade ended without at least a 20 percent increase in the number of jobs.”

But our leaders don’t care about us.  In fact, even the members of Obama’s “jobs panel” have been shipping jobs out of the United States at a very rapid pace.

The U.S. has run a negative balance of trade with the rest of the globe every single year since 1976.  During that time, the U.S. has run up a total trade deficit of more than 7.5 trillion dollars with the rest of the planet.

That 7.5 trillion dollars could have gone to support U.S. workers and U.S. businesses.

But it didn’t.  Instead, it went out of the country and it made foreigners wealthier as our own cities slowly rotted.

Now we are actually passing laws that encourage wealthy foreigners to come in and buy up pieces of the United States.

For example, there is actually a bill in Congress that would automatically give residence visas to any foreigners that are willing to spend at least half a million dollars to buy houses inside the United States.

The idea behind the bill is that this will get the housing market moving again.

There aren’t enough Americans with good jobs to buy houses, so we have now decided to beg foreigners to buy them.

How bizarre is that?

Until our horrendous balance of trade is fixed, the employment situation in this country is going to continue to get worse.

Any politician that tries to sell you on a “jobs plan” that does not address our balance of trade is either totally incompetent or is straight out lying to you.

The economic infrastructure of America is crumbling a little bit more every single day.  If something dramatic is not done, we will continue to bleed businesses, bleed jobs and bleed wealth.

Please share this information with as many people as you can.  The American people need to understand what is happening to the economy.  We need to work to wake up as many people as we can before it is too late.

Arrivederci Berlusconi

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  In just a matter of days, two of Europe’s most venerable leaders have been toppled.  George Papandreou was the third member of the Papandreou dynasty to be prime minister of Greece.  Silvio Berlusconi had dominated Italian politics for nearly two decades.  But now they are both heading out the door and the international media have been reporting on their resignations with the kind of enthusiasm that is normally reserved for sporting events.  “Down goes Papandreou!  Down goes Berlusconi!”  If you didn’t know better, you would almost be tempted to think that some of the recent news reports were describing a boxing match.  But this is what happens when debt problems spiral out of control.  It is the leaders who take the fall.  So will the resignations of Papandreou and Berlusconi help anything?  Of course not.  Europe is still headed for a financial collapse of epic proportions.

As I wrote about recently, it has been the fumbling of the Greek debt crisis by European leaders which has set the stage for the burgeoning financial crisis in Italy to go to a whole new level.

Once the Greek debt deal was announced, I warned that it would shatter confidence in the sovereign debt of the rest of the PIIGS and it would cause their bond yields to soar.

That is exactly what has happened.

The yield on 10 year Italian bonds (probably the most important financial number in the world at the moment) is now up to 6.7 percent.

Never before in the euro era has the yield on Italian bonds been as high as we have seen this week.

So why is this important?

Well, the reality is that Italy simply cannot afford to service its massive national debt when yields are this high.

We are officially in the danger zone.

Carl Weinberg, the chief economist at High Frequency Economics, recently said the following about what would happen if Italian bond yields go up into the 8 to 10 percent range….

“If it has to pay those yields to finance itself, Italy is dead, and the sovereign crisis just blew up”

So watch that number very carefully over the next few months.

Italy is being called “too big to fail, too big to save”.  There is no way that Europe can afford Italy to crash, but there is also no way that the rest of Europe can put together enough money for a full scale bailout of Italy.

So there is panic in the air.

The Italian government is in a state of near chaos and over the past couple of weeks we have seen Berlusconi’s coalition break down.  Now Berlusconi has agreed to resign, and the future of Italian politics is murky at best.

The following is how a Reuters article described the agreement for Berlusconi step down….

Berlusconi confirmed a statement from President Giorgio Napolitano that he would step down as soon as parliament passed urgent budget reforms demanded by European leaders after Italy was sucked into epicenter of the euro zone debt crisis.

The votes in both houses of parliament are likely this month and they would spell the end of a 17-year dominance of Italy by the flamboyant billionaire media magnate.

Many believe that the departure of Berlusconi is going to pave the way for brutal austerity measures to be imposed on the Italian people.

Suddenly, it very much feels like we are watching a replay of what has happened in Greece over the past couple of years.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent article in the London Evening Standard….

The Italians feel they’ve been humiliated by having to accept that monitors from the IMF will be arriving in the country this week to oversee a rise in pension ages, a sell-off of state assets and new rules to make jobs less secure.

Does that not sound like exactly what happened in Greece back near the beginning of their crisis?

In Greece, brutal austerity measures demanded by the EU and the IMF plunged the country into a depression, tax revenues plummeted, Greek debt exploded to even higher levels, bond yields soared into the stratosphere and the EU and the IMF demanded even more austerity measures be implemented.

Is the same sad story going to play out in Italy?

The Italians are definitely going to agree to some pretty significant budget cuts.  But if bond yields keep rising, they are going to wipe out all of the savings from the budget cuts and then some.

This is why I keep preaching about the horror of the U.S. national debt over and over and over.  If you don’t deal with it when you can, eventually interest rates rise to unbearable levels and a horror show quickly unfolds.

Anyway, right now Italy has a debt to GDP ratio of 118 percent.  If they keep expanding that debt it is going to result in a financial nightmare, but if they try to implement strict austerity measures it is also going to result in a financial nightmare.

They are damned if they do and they are damned if they don’t.

Of course we should not forget about Greece.

The EU has been freaking out for quite a while about what to do about tiny little Greece.

Now that George Papandreou has been kicked to the curb, it looks like Lucas Papademos is going to be the next prime minister of Greece.

Papademos previously served as the governor of the Greek central bank, as a vice president of the European Central Bank and as a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

In other words, he would be the ideal choice of the international banking community.

Not that anyone is going to be able to do much for Greece at this point.  Greece is a financial basket case, and unless someone gives them gigantic piles of money for free that is going to continue to be the case.

A year ago, the yield on 2 year Greek bonds was a bit above 10 percent.  Today, the yield on 2 year Greek bonds is over 100 percent.

If you want to see what a financial meltdown looks like, just check out what is happening in Greece.

The rest of Europe is in panic mode too.  For example, France is desperate to keep their AAA credit rating.  In an article for the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard described the austerity measures that France is implementing in an attempt to head off a debt crisis of their own….

The belt-tightening plan — the second package since August, taking total cuts to €112bn — include a 5pc super-tax on big firms, a rise in VAT on restaurants and construction, and cuts on pensions, schools, health, and welfare. It is the latest squeeze in a relentless campaign of fiscal tightening across the eurozone.

In the end, all of this is too little, too late.

Europe is heading for a date with destiny.  They have spent themselves into oblivion and now they are going to pay the price.

Some members of the financial community fear that a full-blown crisis could erupt at any moment.  For example, according to Business Insider, Colin Tan of Deutsche Bank recently said that he believes that it is possible that “we could be in full crisis mode” by the time the week ends….

Its not inconceivable that we could be in full crisis mode by the end of this week. The situation with Italy feels increasingly like one that has little chance of materially improving until some
extreme pressure is put on someone to act. It may not come to a head this week but the signs are not good that we can avoid an extreme situation emerging soon.

For those of you that are freaking out about now, don’t worry too much.  A full-blown crisis is not going to happen this week.

But time is running out.

And when Europe comes apart, it is going to have a dramatic impact on the United States as well.

According to an article in the Financial Post, the Federal Reserve made the following statement in a report about a survey that it just released….

“About one-half of domestic bank respondents, mostly large banks, indicated that they make loans or extend credit lines to European banks or their affiliates or subsidiaries”

Big U.S. banks have a lot of exposure to European debt and to European banks.  When the financial dominoes start to fall, a lot of those dominoes are going to be in the United States.

One of the biggest dangers to be concerned about are all of the credit default swap contracts that U.S. banks have written on European debt.  Just check out what a recent article posted on the website of MSNBC had to say about that….

U.S. banks have written about $400 billion in CDS contracts on European sovereign debt, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Those payouts would be triggered if Greece or Italy defaults. Because financial institutions are not required to report their CDS holdings, little is known about which banks or investment firms are on the hook, and for how much.

As I have written about previously, there is a very good chance that the world could be facing a massive derivatives crisis at some point in the next five to ten years.

If you hear the news talk about a “problem with derivatives” or a “derivatives crisis” then you will want to pay very close attention.

Over the past 30 years, the global financial system has constructed a gigantic mountain of debt, risk and leverage unlike anything the world has ever seen before.

At some point the whole thing is going to come crashing down.

When it does, it is going to affect the entire globe.

A huge storm is coming.

Get prepared while you can.

 

Is The End Of The Euro In Sight?

The future of the euro is hanging by a thread at the moment.  The massive debt problems of nations such as Greece, Italy and Portugal are dragging down the rest of the Europe, and the political will in northern Europe to continue to bail out these debt-ridden countries is rapidly failing.  Could the end of the euro actually be in sight?  The euro was really a very interesting experiment.  Never before had we seen a situation where monetary union was tried without political and fiscal union along with it on such a large scale.  The euro worked fairly well for a while as long as everyone was paying their debts.  But now Greece has collapsed financially, and several other countries in the eurozone (including Italy) are on the way.  Right now the only thing holding back a complete financial disaster in Europe are the massive bailouts that the wealthier nations such as Germany have been financing.  But now a wave of anti-bailout sentiment is sweeping Germany and the future of any European bailouts is in doubt.  So what does that mean for the euro?  It appears that there are two choices.  Either we will see much deeper fiscal and political integration in Europe (which does not seem likely at this point), or we will see the end of the euro.

That status quo cannot last much longer.  The citizens of wealthy nations such as Germany are becoming very resentful that gigantic piles of their money are being poured into financial black holes such as Greece.  In fact, it is rapidly getting to the point where we could actually see rioting in the streets of German cities over all of this.

All of this instability is creating a tremendous amount of fear in world financial markets.  Nobody is sure if Greece is going to default or not.

Without more bailout money, Greece will most certainly default.  If anyone does not think that one domino cannot set off a massive chain reaction, just remember what happened back in 2008.

Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers set off a chain reaction that was felt in every corner of the globe.  All of a sudden credit markets froze up because nobody was sure who had significant exposure to bad mortgages.

Today, the entire world financial system runs on debt, so when there is a credit crunch it can have absolutely devastating economic consequences.  The financial crisis of 2008 helped plunge the world into the greatest recession that the globe had seen since the 1930s.

In the old days, nations such as Greece that got into too much debt would just fire up the printing presses and cover over their problems with devalued currency.

Well, those nations that are using the euro simply cannot do that.  The government of Greece cannot simply zap a whole bunch of euros into existence in order to solve their problems.

Right now, major European banks are holding massive amounts of debt from various European governments on their balance sheets.  Most of these European banks are also very highly leveraged.  Even a moderate drop in the value of those debt holdings could wipe out a number of these banks.

The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, recently told Der Spiegel the following….

“There has been a clear crisis of confidence that has seriously aggravated the situation. Measures need to be taken to ensure that this vicious circle is broken”

Unfortunately, what Lagarde said was right.  You see, the financial system in Europe is a “confidence game” and a “crisis of confidence” is all that it would take to bring it down because it does not have a solid foundation.

Just like the U.S. financial system, the financial system in Europe is a mountain of debt, leverage and risk.  If the winds start blowing the wrong direction, the entire thing could very easily come tumbling down.

Over the past couple of weeks, the outlook in Europe has become decidedly negative.  For example, one senior IMF economist is now actually projecting that Greece will experience a “hard default” at some point in the coming months….

I expect a hard default definitely before March, maybe this year

If Greece defaults, that would mean that the bailouts have failed.  That would also mean that several other nations in Europe would be in danger of defaulting soon as well.

The consequences of a wave of defaults in Europe would be absolutely staggering.  As mentioned above, major banks in Europe are deeply exposed to sovereign debt.

Regarding this issue, Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Josef Ackermann recently made the following stunning admission….

“It’s stating the obvious that many European banks would not survive having to revalue sovereign debt held on the banking book at market levels.”

Yes, you read that correctly.

There are quite a few major European banks that are in imminent danger of collapse.

Even though there hasn’t been any sovereign defaults yet, we are already starting to see massive financial devastation in Europe.  Just check out some of the financial carnage from Monday….

*The stock market in Germany was down more than 5%.

*The stock markets in France and Italy were down more than 4%.

*Royal Bank of Scotland was down more than 12%.

*Deutsche Bank was down more than 6%.

*Societe Generale was down more than 8%.

*Italy’s UniCredit was down more than 7%.

*Barclays was down more than 6%

*Credit Suisse was down more than 4%.

*The yield on 2 year Greek bonds was up to 50.38%.

*The yield on 1 year Greek bonds was up to 82.14%.  A year ago it was under 10%.

Just like in 2008, banking stocks are leading the decline.  We have another major financial crisis on our hands and there is no solution in sight.

As the financial world becomes increasingly unstable, investors are flocking to gold.  In case you have not noticed, gold is up over $1900 an ounce again.

So what comes next?

Well, on Wednesday Germany’s constitutional court is scheduled to announce its verdict on the legality of the latest bailout package for Greece.  The court is expected to rule that the bailout package is legal, but if they don’t that would be really bad news for the euro.

However, whatever the court rules, the reality is that the turbulent political atmosphere inside Germany is probably a much bigger issue as far as the future of the euro is concerned.

Right now, Germans are overwhelmingly opposed to more bailouts.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political party just suffered a resounding defeat in local elections in Germany, and many within her own coalition are withdrawing support for any more bailouts.

This is going to make it very difficult to save the euro.  At this point, Germans have very little faith in the currency.

Just check out what Bob Chapman of the International Forecaster recently wrote about the current atmosphere in Germany….

76% of Germans say they have little or no faith in the euro, up from 71% two months ago. This is what we have been stating for ten years. Long-term 69% to 71% have never wanted the euro. The poll is not at all surprising. The Germany people are saying we have put up with the euro and euro zone for long enough – we want out now.

Germans are also very much against even deeper European economic integration.  For example, recent polling found that German voters are against the introduction of “Eurobonds” by about a 5 to 1 margin.

But Germans are not the only ones that are tired of the euro.  The countries of southern Europe have come to view the euro as a “straightjacket” that keeps them from having the financial flexibility that they need to deal with their debts.

Many people living in southern Europe consider the euro to be a financial instrument that allows nations such as Germany to have way too much power over them.  Just check out what Professor Giacomo Vaciago of Milan’s Catholic University recently had to say….

“It’s clear that the euro has virtually failed over the last ten years, even if you are not supposed to say that. We pretended to be Germans, but it was an illusion”

But if the bailouts fall apart and the euro collapses, we are going to see nations such as Greece fall into total financial collapse.

Just how desperate have things become in Greece?  Just consider the following excerpt from a recent article by Puru Saxena….

In Greece, government debt now represents almost 160% of GDP and the average yield on Greek debt is around 15%. Thus, if Greece’s debt is rolled over without restructuring, its interest costs alone will amount to approximately 24% of GDP. In other words, if debt pardoning does not occur, nearly a quarter of Greece’s economic output will be gobbled up by interest repayments!

Without help, there is no way that Greece is going to be able to avoid a default.

Sadly, Greece is far from the only major financial problem in Europe.  Portugal, Ireland and Italy also have debt to GDP ratios that are well above 100%.

As mentioned earlier, this is a massive problem for the financial system of Europe, because nearly all of the major European banks are leveraged to the hilt and they are massively exposed to government debt.

If you don’t think that this is a problem, just remember what happened back in 2008.

Back then, Lehman Brothers was leveraged 31 to 1.  When things turned bad, Lehman was wiped out very rapidly.

Today, major German banks are leveraged 32 to 1, and those banks are currently holding a massive amount of European sovereign debt.

Overall, the entire global banking system has a total of 2 trillion dollars of exposure to Greek, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian debt.

If European countries start defaulting, the dominoes are going to start falling and things will get really messy really quickly.

There are two things that could keep defaults from happening.

Number one, Germany and the other wealthy nations in the eurozone could just suck it up and decide to pour endless bailouts into nations such as Greece and Italy.

Number two, the nations of the eurozone could opt for much deeper economic and political integration.  That would mean a massive loss of sovereignty, but it would save the euro, at least for a little while.

Right now, the political will for either of those two choices is simply not there.  That does not mean that the political elite of Europe will not try to ram through some sort of a plan, but the reality is that Germans are already so upset about what has been going on that they are about ready to riot in the streets.

Yes, the end of the euro is a real possibility.

If the euro does collapse, it would likely cause a financial panic that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

So what do all of you think about the future of the euro?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below….

 

20 Signs That The World Could Be Headed For An Economic Apocalypse In 2012

If you thought that 2011 was a bad year for the world economy, just wait until you see what happens in 2012.  The U.S. and Europe are both dealing with unprecedented debt problems, the financial markets are flailing about wildly, austerity programs are being implemented all over the globe, prices on basics such as food are soaring and a lot of consumers are flat out scared right now.  Many analysts now fear that a “perfect storm” could be brewing and that we could actually be headed for an economic apocalypse in 2012.  Hopefully that will not happen.  Hopefully our leaders can keep the global economy from completely falling apart.  But right now, things don’t look good.  After a period of relative stability, things are starting to become unglued once again.  The next major financial panic could literally happen at any time.  Sadly, if we do see an economic apocalypse in 2012, it won’t be the wealthy that suffer the most.  It will be the poor, the unemployed, the homeless and the hungry that feel the most pain.

The following are 20 signs that we could be headed for an economic apocalypse in 2012….

#1 Back in 2008 we saw major rioting around the world due to soaring food prices, and now global food prices are on the rise again.  Global food prices in July were 33 percent higher than they were one year ago.  Price increases for staples such as maize (up 84 percent), sugar (up 62 percent) and wheat (up 55 percent) are absolutely devastating poverty-stricken communities all over the planet.  For example, one expert is warning that 800,000 children living in the Horn of Africa could die during this current famine.

#2 The producer price index in the U.S. has increased at an annual rate of at least 7.0% for the last three months in a row.  We are starting to see huge price increases all over the place.  For example, Starbucks recently jacked up the price of a bag of coffee by 17 percent.  If inflation keeps accelerating like this we could be facing some very serious problems by the time 2012 rolls around.

#3 The U.S. “Misery Index” (unemployment plus inflation) recently hit a 28 year high and many believe that it is going to go much, much higher.

#4 Jared Bernstein, the former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden, says that the unemployment rate in this country will not go below 8% before the 2012 election.  In fact, Bernstein says that “the most optimistic forecast would be for about eight-and-a-half percent.”

#5 Working class jobs in the United States continue to disappear at an alarming rate.  Back in 1967, 97 percent of men with a high school degree between the ages of 30 and 50 had jobs.  Today, that figure is 76 percent.

#6 There are all kinds of indications that U.S. economic growth is about to slow down even further.  For example, pre-orders for Christmas toys from China are way down this year.

#7 One recent survey found that 9 out of 10 U.S. workers do not expect their wages to keep up with the rising cost of basics such as food and gasoline over the next year.

#8 U.S. consumer confidence is now at its lowest level in 30 years.

#9 Today, an all-time record 45.8 million Americans are on food stamps.  It is almost inconceivable that the largest economy on earth could have so many people dependent on the government for food.

#10 As the economy crumbles, we are also witnessing the fabric of society beginning to come apart.  The recent flash mob crimes that we are starting to see all over America are just one example of this.

#11 Some desperate Americans are already stealing anything that they can get their hands on.  For example, according to the American Kennel Club, dog thefts are up 32 percent this year.

#12 Small businesses all over the United States are having a really difficult time getting loans right now.  Perhaps if the Federal Reserve was not paying banks not to make loans things would be different.

#13 The U.S. national debt is like a giant boulder that our economy must constantly carry around on its back, and it is growing by billions of dollars every single day.  Right now the debt of the federal government is $14,592,242,215,641.90.  It has gone up by nearly 4 trillion dollars since Barack Obama took office.  S&P has already stripped the U.S. of its AAA credit rating, and more downgrades are certain to come if the U.S. does not get its act together.

#14 Tensions between the United States and China are rising again.  A new opinion piece on chinadaily.com is calling for the Chinese government to use its holdings of U.S. debt as a “financial weapon” against the United States if the U.S. follows through with a plan to sell more arms to Taiwan.  The U.S. and China are the two biggest economies in the world, so any trouble between them would mean economic trouble for the rest of the globe as well.

#15 Most state and local governments in the U.S. are deep in debt and flat broke.  Many of them are slashing jobs at a feverish pace.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state and local governments have eliminated more than half a million jobs since August 2008.  UBS Investment Research is projecting that state and local governments in the U.S. will cut 450,000 more jobs by the end of 2012.  How those jobs will be replaced is anyone’s guess.

#16 The U.S. dollar continues to get weaker and weaker.  This is renewing calls for a new global currency to be created to replace the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency of the world.

#17 The European sovereign debt crisis continues to get worse.  Countries like Portugal, Italy and Greece are on the verge of an economic apocalypse.  All of the financial problems in Europe are even beginning to affect the core European nations.  For example, German industrial production declined by 1.1% in June.  There are all kinds of signs that the economy of Europe is slowing down and is heading for a recession.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are proposing that a new “economic government” for Europe be set up to oversee this debt crisis, but nothing that the Europeans have tried so far has done much to solve things.

#18 The Federal Reserve is so desperate to bring some sort of stability to financial markets that it has stated that it will likely keep interest rates near zero all the way until mid-2013.  The Federal Reserve is operating in “panic mode” almost constantly now and they are almost out of ammunition.  So what is going to happen when the real trouble starts?

#19 Central banks around the world certainly seem to be preparing for something.  According to the World Gold Council, central banks around the globe purchased more gold during the first half of 2011 than they did all of last year.

#20 Often perception very much influences reality. One recent survey found that 48 percent of Americans believe that it is likely that another great Depression will begin within the next 12 months.  If people expect that a depression is coming and they quit spending money that actually increases the chance that an economic downturn will occur.

There is already a tremendous amount of economic pain on the streets of America, but unfortunately it looks like things may get even worse in 2012.

The once great economic machine that was handed down to us by our forefathers is falling to pieces all around us and we are in debt up to our eyeballs.  The consequences of our bad economic decisions are hurting some of the most vulnerable members of our society the most.

As the following video shows, large numbers of formerly middle class Americans are now living in their cars or sleeping in the streets….

It is a crying shame what is happening out there on the streets of America today.

Please say a prayer for all of those that are sleeping in cars or tents or under bridges tonight.

Soon even more Americans will be joining them.

Political Theater: It Turns Out That The Republicans And The Democrats Were Both Lying To Us And That The Real Budget Cut Number Is Far Less Than $38.5 Billion

Guess what?  The Democrats and the Republicans are both lying to us again.  So what else is new?  The truth is that the great “budget crisis” which supposedly took us to the verge of a government shutdown was just a whole bunch of political theater.  Even the Associated Press is declaring that our politicians used “accounting sleight of hand” to reach the $38.5 billion budget cut figure.  Not that $38.5 billion was an impressive number to begin with.  $38.5 billion would just be one percent of the federal budget.  But once you strip away the accounting charades, the real budget cut number is somewhere around 14 billion dollars.  It turns out that the “budget cuts” include money left unspent from previous years, earmarks that were going nowhere, unused census money and programs that Obama was already planning to cut.  The more you examine the “budget deal”, the more it becomes obvious that the Republicans and the Democrats had no intention of doing anything serious about our debt problems.  The U.S. government is still going to run a record-setting budget deficit in 2011 and both the Democrats and the Republicans are to blame.

So should we be surprised that our politicians have been lying to us again?

Of course not.

But if something is not done about our soaring debt it is absolutely going to crash our financial system.

According to the IMF, the U.S. government will have to borrow an amount of money equivalent to 29 percent of GDP this year alone in order to finance its budget deficit and its maturing debt.

That is what you call a crisis.

But neither political party seems the least bit serious about the national debt.

The Republicans are proposing even more tax cuts without saying how they are going to pay for them, and they even tucked an increase in military spending into the “budget cut” deal.

The Democrats don’t seem to want to cut much of anything.  In fact, most Democrats seem to believe that government debt is not much of a crisis at all.

Our politicians love to talk about “cutting the budget”, but nothing ever gets done.  Both parties have been promising us “fiscal responsibility” for decades but both parties have never delivered.

Sadly, the American people have not held our politicians responsible for this.

This latest episode just reveals how much of a joke Washington D.C. has become.  In the 8 days leading up to the “historic” $38.5 billion budget deal, the U.S. national debt increased by $54.1 billion dollars.

Our politicians are standing by and doing nothing while the financial future of this nation is being destroyed right in front of our eyes.  It is now being projected that by the year 2021, interest payments on the national debt will amount to $1.1 trillion dollars a year.

Fortunately, some bloggers out there are starting to wake up to just how pathetic this latest “budget deal” really was.

For instance, Tim Fernholz of the National Journal recently posted the following….

For example, the final cuts in the deal are advertised as $38.5 billion less than was appropriated in 2010, but after removing rescissions, cuts to reserve funds, and reductions in mandatory spending programs, discretionary spending will be reduced only by $14.7 billion.

In fact, some conservative bloggers are becoming absolutely furious with the duplicity of the Republican party.  In a recent article on Business Insider, John Ellis really let John Boehner have it….

It turns out that the budget agreement that all parties were hailing this past weekend as a “great achievement” is in fact a joke.  Any Republican who was elected with even a sliver of Tea Party support is now duty-bound to vote against it on Friday.  Every 2012 Republican presidential hopeful is now duty-bound to demand that it be voted down.

But Boehner is already saying that it is time to “move on” and that he is really going to “get tough” during the next battle.  Boehner is claiming that the “war” over the debt ceiling is going to be about “trillions” instead of “billions”.

The American people are certainly in the mood for something to be done about our debt crisis.  According to a new NBC/WSJ poll, the vast majority of Republicans and the vast majority of independents do not want the debt ceiling raised.  Even Democrats are roughly split on the issue.

John Boehner is promising that the Republicans will not agree to raise the debt ceiling without “serious steps in the right direction”.

So what pathetically low number will cause John Boehner to cave in this time?

Obama is already taking a strong stand on the debt ceiling.  He is demanding that the Republicans send him a “clean bill” and is warning that they must not “play politics” with U.S. government finances.

On Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney stated that “the consequences of not raising the debt ceiling would be Armageddon-like in terms of the economy.”

You know what?  To a certain degree Carney is right.  If the U.S. government hits the debt ceiling the financial markets will likely go haywire.  That would cause the big boys up on Wall Street to start putting tremendous pressure on Boehner.  There is no way that Boehner would watch chaos unfold on Wall Street and not end up flinching.

Not that Boehner was ever serious about cutting the federal deficit.  He was not serious about it during the Bush years and he is not serious about it now.

This is all just a whole lot of political theater.

Meanwhile, most Americans are not even paying attention to all of the financial fraud being committed by the “fourth branch of government”.

Of course the Federal Reserve is not actually part of the federal government at all.   But they do get to spend trillions and lend trillions without ever having to get the approval of Congress, the president or the American people.

For example, most Americans don’t realize this, but the Federal Reserve has been handing out hundreds of millions of dollars in nearly risk-free loans to their friends and even to the wives of their friends.

Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve is above the law and is not accountable to anyone.  In fact, we can’t even get our politicians to authorize a comprehensive audit of their books.

The truth is that our system is soaked in so much fraud that there is no way that it will ever recover.

We have turned our backs on the principles of our founding fathers and so now we pay the price.

The U.S. national debt is now over 14 times larger than it was 30 years ago and it is currently rising by well over 4 billion dollars every single day.  This debt will destroy our financial system.  We are stealing the future from our children and our grandchildren.

It is so sad to see what is happening to America.

So what do all of you think about what is going on in Washington D.C.?  Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

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