On Monday, the price of U.S. oil dropped below 38 dollars a barrel for the first time in six years. The last time the price of oil was this low, the global financial system was melting down and the U.S. economy was experiencing the worst recession that it had seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. As I write this article, the price of U.S. oil is sitting at $37.65. For months, I have been warning that the crash in the price of oil would be extremely deflationary and would have severe consequences for the global economy. Nations such as Japan, Canada, Brazil and Russia have already plunged into recession, and more than half of all major global stock market indexes are down at least 10 percent year to date. The first major global financial crisis since 2009 has begun, and things are only going to get worse as we head into 2016.
The global head of oil research at Societe Generale, Mike Wittner, says that his “head is spinning” after the stunning drop in the price of oil on Monday. Just like during the last financial crisis, we have broken the psychologically important 40 dollar barrier, and there are concerns that we could go much lower from here…
One analyst told CNBC that he believes that we could soon see the price of U.S. oil go all the way down to 32 dollars a barrel…
“We’re in a tug-of-war between a heavily shorted market and a glut of oil in the U.S. and globally, as Saudi Arabia continues to produce oil at elevated levels to maintain market share,” said Chris Jarvis at Caprock Risk Management, an energy markets consultancy in Frederick, Maryland.
“Couple this with a strengthening dollar as the market anticipates a U.S. rate hike this month, oil is heading lower with a near term target of $32 for WTI.”
Analysts at Goldman Sachs are even more pessimistic than that. According to Business Insider, they are saying that we could eventually see the price of oil go below 20 dollars a barrel…
At OPEC’s meeting on Friday, member countries decided to set its production level at 31.5 million barrels per day, and did not agree on what the new limit should be.
After OPEC’s meeting, commodity strategists at Goldman put out a note saying that oil prices could plunge another 50% in the coming months, as the oil market tries to rebalance the supply and demand situation.
That may sound really good to you, especially if you fill up your gas tank frequently. But the truth is that plunging oil prices are exceedingly bad for the U.S. economy as a whole. In recent years, the energy industry has been the primary engine for the creation of good jobs in this country, and now those firms are having to lay off people at a frightening pace. Not only that, CNBC’s Jim Cramer is warning that many of these firms may actually start going under if the price of oil doesn’t start going back up soon…
“This is not ‘longer and lower;’ this is ‘longer and much lower.’ There’s companies that are not going to be able to fund with futures; there’re companies that are not going to be able to get credit,” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street.”
Cramer made his remarks after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided not to lower production on Friday.
“This was a devastating blow for the U.S. oil industry,” Cramer said.
On Monday, we witnessed another benchmark that we have not seen since the last financial crisis.
I watch a high yield bond ETF known as JNK very closely. On Monday, JNK broke below 35 for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008. Just like 40 dollar oil, this is a key psychological barrier.
So why is this important?
As I discussed last week, junk bonds crashed before stocks did in 2008, and now it is happening again. If form holds true, we should expect U.S. stocks to start tumbling significantly very shortly.
Meanwhile, another notable expert has come forward with a troubling forecast for the global economy in 2016. Just like Citigroup, Raoul Pal believes that there is a very significant chance that we will see a recession next year…
Former global macro fund manager Raoul Pal says there’s now a 65% chance of a global recession.
In July, Pal predicted that the Institute of Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing index would break the key level of 50 late in 2015.
On December 1, the ISM broke the 50 level for the first time since the 2008 recession, reaching 48.6.
“I use the ISM as a guide to the global business cycle, not just the US cycle,” Pal told Business Insider.
What amazes me is that so many people out there cannot see what is happening even though the next great crisis has already started. The evidence is all around us, and yet so many choose to be willingly blind.
Instead of fixing our problems after the last crisis, we just papered them over with lots of money printing and lots more debt. And of course all of this manipulation just made our long-term problems even worse. I really like how Peter Schiff put it recently…
What’s happening is pretty much what we would anticipate. I don’t see from the data any real economic recovery, certainly not in the United States.
We’re spending more money, but it’s not because we’re generating more wealth. We’re generating more debt. We’re using that borrowed money to consume and so temporarily it feels that we’re wealthier because we get to spend all that money… but we have to come to terms with paying the bill.
The bills are going to come due. Right now interest rates are being kept at zero which makes it possible to service the debt even though it’s impossible to repay it… at least we can service it. But once interest rates go up then we can’t even service it let alone repay it.
And then the party is going to come to an end.
Indeed – the party is coming to an end, and a new financial crisis is playing out in textbook fashion right in front of our eyes.
Hopefully you are already prepared for what is coming next, because it is going to be extremely painful for the U.S. economy.
One of the most important banks in the western world says that the 7th largest economy on the entire planet has entered a full-blown economic depression. Brazil’s economy has now contracted for three quarters in a row, and many analysts believe that things are going to get far worse before they have a chance to get any better. Earlier this year, I warned about “the South American financial crisis of 2015“, and now it is in full swing. The surging U.S. dollar is absolutely crushing emerging markets such as Brazil, and if the Fed raises interest rates this month that is going to make the pain even worse. The global financial system is more interconnected than ever before, and the decisions made by the Federal Reserve truly do have global consequences. So much of the “hot money” that was created by the Fed poured into emerging markets such as Brazil during the good times, but now the process is starting to reverse itself. At this point, it is hard to see how much of South America is going to avoid a complete and total economic disaster.
It is one thing for Michael Snyder from the Economic Collapse Blog to say that the Brazilian economy has entered a “depression”, but it is another thing entirely when Goldman Sachs comes out and publicly says it. The following comes from a Bloomberg article that was just posted entitled “Goldman Warns of Brazil Depression After GDP Plunges Again“…
Latin America’s largest economy shrank more than analysts forecast, as rising unemployment and higher inflation sapped domestic demand, pulling the nation deeper into what Goldman Sachs now calls “an outright depression.”
Gross domestic product in Brazil contracted 1.7 percent in the three months ended in September, after a revised 2.1 percent drop the previous quarter, the national statistics institute said in Rio de Janeiro. That’s worse than all but three estimates from 44 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, whose median forecast was for a 1.2 percent decline. It also marks the first three-quarter contraction since the institute’s series began in 1996, and a seasonally adjusted annual drop of 6.7 percent.
And when you look deeper into the numbers they become even more disturbing.
Unemployment is rising, consumer spending is way down, and investment spending is absolutely collapsing. Here is some of the data that Goldman Sachs just released that comes via Zero Hedge…
Private consumption has now declined for three consecutive quarters (at an average quarterly rate of -8.5% qoq sa, annualized), and investment spending for nine consecutive quarters (at an average rate of -10.0% qoq sa, annualized). Overall, gross fixed investment declined by a cumulative 21% from 2Q2013. The declining capital stock of the economy (declining capital-labor ratio) hurts productivity growth and limits even further potential GDP. The sharp contraction of real activity during 3Q was broad-based: both on the supply and final demand side. Final domestic demand weakened sharply during 3Q2015 (-1.7% qoq sa and -6.0% yoy) with private consumption down 1.5% qoq sa (-4.5% yoy) and gross fixed investment down 4.0% qoq sa (-15.0% yoy). Finally, on the supply side, we highlight that the large labor intensive services sector retrenched again at the margin (-1.0% qoq sa; -2.9% yoy).
The term “economic depression” is not something that should be used lightly, because it conjures up images of the Great Depression of the 1930s. And the Brazilian economy is very important to the global economic system. As I mentioned above, there are only six countries in the entire world that have a larger economy, and Brazil accounts for more than 242 billion dollars worth of exports every year.
So if Brazil is feeling pain, it is going to affect all of us.
Up to this point, everyone had been calling what has been going on in Brazil a “recession”, but now Goldman Sachs is the first major bank to label it “an outright economic depression”…
“What started as a recession driven by the adjustment needs of an economy that accumulated large macro imbalances is now mutating into an outright economic depression given the deep contraction of domestic demand,” Alberto Ramos, chief Latin America economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., wrote in a report Tuesday.
Of course Brazil is far from alone. The third largest economy on the globe, Japan, has also now slipped into recession territory. So has Russia. And just today we learned that Canadian GDP is plunging…
Who could have seen that coming? It appears, for America’s northern brethren, low oil prices are unequivocally terrible. Against expectations of a flat 0.0% unchanged September, Canadian GDP plunged 0.5% – its largest MoM drop since March 2009 and the biggest miss since Dec 2008.
It is just a matter of time before this global economic downturn catches up with us here in the U.S. too.
In fact, there is evidence that this is already happening.
According to brand new numbers that just came out, manufacturing activity in the U.S. is contracting at the fastest pace that we have seen since the last recession…
Manufacturing in the U.S. unexpectedly contracted in November at the fastest pace since the last recession as elevated inventories led to cutbacks in orders and production.
The Institute for Supply Management’s index dropped to 48.6, the lowest level since June 2009, from 50.1 in October, a report from the Tempe, Arizona-based group showed Tuesday. The November figure was weaker than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey. Readings less than 50 indicate contraction.
Another indicator that I am watching is the velocity of money.
When an economy is healthy, money tends to flow fairly freely. I buy something from you, and then you buy something from someone else, etc.
But when economic conditions start to get tough, people start to hold on to their money. That means that money doesn’t change hands as quickly and the velocity of money goes down. As you can see below, the velocity of money has declined during every single recession since 1960…
When a recession ends, the velocity of money normally starts going back up.
But a funny thing happened when the last recession ended. The velocity of money ticked up slightly, but then it started going down steadily. In fact, it has kept on declining ever since and it has now hit a brand new all-time record low.
This is not normal. Yes, Wall Street is temporarily flying high for the moment, but the underlying economic fundamentals are all screaming that something is horribly wrong.
A global crisis has begun, and the U.S. will not be immune from it. I truly believe that we are heading toward the worst economic downturn that any of us have ever experienced.
But there are many out there that insist that nothing is the matter and that happy times are ahead.
So who is right and who is wrong?
We will just have to wait and see…
The worst stock market crashes in U.S. history have come during the month of October. There is just something about this time of the year that seems to be conducive to financial panic. For example, on October 28th, 1929 the biggest stock market crash in U.S. history up until that time helped usher in the Great Depression of the 1930s. And the largest percentage crash in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average by a very wide margin happened on October 19th, 1987. Overall, 9 of the 16 largest single day percentage crashes that we have ever seen happened during the month of October. Of course that does not mean that something will happen this October, but after what we just witnessed in September we should all be on alert.
Clearly, there is a tremendous amount of momentum toward the downside right now. As you can see from the chart below, all of the gains for the Dow since the end of the 2013 calendar year have already been wiped out…
And as I wrote about just the other day, last quarter we witnessed the loss of 11 trillion dollars in “paper wealth” on stock markets all over the planet. The following comes from Justin Spittler…
The S&P 500 fell 8%… and so did the Dow and the NASDAQ. It was the worst quarter for U.S. stocks since 2011.
Stocks around the world dropped too. The MSCI All-Country World Index, which tracks 85% of global stocks, also had its worst quarter since 2011. The STOXX Europe 600 Index, which tracks 600 of Europe’s largest companies, fell 10%. It was the worst quarter for European stocks since 2011 as well.
China’s Shanghai Composite fell 28% last quarter, its largest quarterly decline in seven years. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 19%. It was the worst quarterly decline for emerging market stocks in four years.
In total, last quarter’s selloff erased nearly $11 trillion in value from stocks around the world.
Sadly, the mainstream media is assuring everyone that things are going to be just fine, and a lot of people on the Internet seem to have the attitude that “nothing is happening“. Just like in 1929, a brief period of stabilization after the initial fall has lulled many into a false sense of security. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
Just as in 1929, the market was performing fantastic and the continuous wealth increase seemed to be unstoppable. A short 10% correction was seen as ‘healthy’ and soon a new uptrend was starting (the green line). This is exactly the same scenario we saw in the past few weeks. Market commenters said the 10% drop in the Dow Jones was a ‘healthy correction’ and we’re on our way to the next uptrend and Christmas rally.
Most people seem to assume that since I run a website called “The Economic Collapse Blog” that I must be rooting for a stock market collapse and an economic implosion, but that is not true at all. The longer that the financial markets can hold together, the longer all of our lives can stay quiet, peaceful and “normal”. Once the chaos begins, all of our lives will change dramatically. No matter how much any of us have prepared, what is coming is going to deeply affect all of us at least to a certain degree.
It would be far better for me, my extended family and my friends if I am wrong about an imminent financial collapse. Most of the people that I personally know are not even close to ready for what is coming. And during the coming credit crunch it is inevitable that people that I personally know will lose jobs and suffer business setbacks.
Sadly, the truth is that life in America is never going to be any better than it is right now. At some point, this stock market bubble will fully implode. At some point, our debt-fueled prosperity will disappear. At some point, the extraordinary recklessness of the big banks will catch up with them in a major way.
As we witnessed in 2008, our financial system is not designed to handle a severe bear market. We should have learned some very hard lessons from the last time around, but we didn’t. Instead, our financial system is even more vulnerable to a crisis today than it was back then. A huge turn down by the financial markets will rip many of our top financial companies to shreds. So a bear market would be extremely bad news, but unfortunately many prominent analysts seem to believe that this is precisely what we are now facing…
Jim Cramer, the ex-hedge fund manager and host of CNBC’s show “Mad Money,” has been vocal recently on air, saying repeatedly that he doesn’t like the market now, and last week said “we have a first-class bear market going.” Similarly, Gary Kaltbaum, president of Kaltbaum Capital Management, has been sending out notes to clients and this newspaper for weeks, saying the poor price action of the stock market and many hard-hit sectors, such as energy and the recently clobbered biotech sector, has all the earmarks of a bear market. Over the weekend, Kaltbaum said: “We remain in a worldwide bear market for stocks.”
On the way up, all of the extreme risk-taking didn’t seem to matter much because everyone was making a lot of money.
But on the way down, all of the extreme risk-taking is just going to accelerate the collapse.
Personally, I do not know exactly what will happen over the next few weeks, but without a doubt I have a very bad feeling about the rest of this year.
What about you?
What do you think will happen?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…
The federal government uses very carefully manipulated numbers to cover up the crushing economic depression that is going on in this nation. For the month of September, the federal government told us that 142,000 jobs were added to the economy. If that was actually true, that would barely be enough to keep up with population growth. Sadly, the truth is that the real numbers were actually far worse than that. The unadjusted numbers show that the U.S. economy actually lost 248,000 jobs in September and the government added more than a million Americans to the “not in the labor force” category. When I first saw that number I truly believed that it was inaccurate. But you can find the raw figures right here. According to the Obama administration, there are currently 7.9 million Americans that are “officially unemployed” and another 94.7 million working age Americans that are “not in the labor force”. That gives us a grand total of 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
That is not an economic recovery – that is an economic depression of an almost unbelievable magnitude.
This is something that my friend Mac Slavo pointed out the other day. I encourage you to read his analysis right here. If we measured unemployment the way that we did decades ago, we would all be talking about how similar Obama’s economy is to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
But instead we let the feds get away with feeding us this completely fraudulent “5.1 percent” unemployment number and most of us believe the mainstream media when they tell us that everything is just fine.
Well no, everything is not just fine. At this point, the labor force participation rate is the lowest that it has been since 1977. And the labor force participation rate for men is at the lowest level ever recorded. The only way that the federal government has been able to get the official unemployment rate to go down so much is by pretending that hundreds of thousands of Americans that have been unemployed for a very long time “leave the labor force” each month.
The chart posted below shows how our labor force participation rate has deteriorated since the year 2000. And in particular, the decline since Obama first entered the White House has been very striking. Does this look like a “healthy economy” to you?…
To me, the civilian employment-population ratio is a far more accurate measurement of the employment picture in America than the official unemployment rate is. Just prior to the last recession, approximately 63 percent of all working age Americans had a job. During that recession, that figure slipped below 59 percent and it stayed there for several years. Just recently it slipped back above 59 percent, but as you can see we are now falling once again…
The reason this number is falling is because lots of Americans have been losing jobs lately.
In fact, we are seeing layoffs at major firms at a level that we have not witnessed since 2009…
The jobs report today has been described as “ugly,” though it certainly didn’t, or shouldn’t have, come out of the blue: Layoffs in the energy, Big Tech, retail, and other sectors have recently mucked up our rosy scenario.
“The third quarter ended with a surge in job cuts,” is how Challenger Gray, which tracks these things, started out its report yesterday. In September, large US-based companies had announced 58,877 layoffs. In the third quarter, they announced 205,759 layoffs, the worst quarter since the 240,233 in the third quarter of 2009!
Year-to-date, we’re at nearly half a million job cut announcements (493,431 to be precise), up 36% from the same period last year.
Some of the companies that have recently announced layoffs include Wal-Mart, RadioShack, Delta, Sprint, ConAgra, Caterpillar, Bank of America, Halliburton, Qualcomm, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.
If you need to find a job or you plan to switch jobs in the near future, time is of the essence. Jobs are going to become much, much harder to find in the months ahead, and so every single day of job searching is absolutely critical at this point.
Right now, there are more than 100 million Americans that get some sort of assistance from the federal government every month. Government dependence is at a level that we have never seen before in U.S. history, and it is going to get a lot worse.
If we get to a point where the government is either unwilling or unable to take care of all of these people, we are going to have a massive societal problem on our hands. More than a third of the people living in our nation cannot independently take care of themselves, and more Americans are falling out of the middle class every single day. When the welfare state starts breaking down, the chaos that will ensue will be far worse than most people would dare to imagine.
So what do you think?
Are job losses and layoffs starting to happen in your area?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…
As Greece plunges even deeper into economic chaos, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says that his government is prepared to respond to the demands of the EU and the IMF with “the great no” and that his party will accept responsibility for whatever consequences follow. Despite years of intervention from the rest of Europe, Greece is a bigger economic mess today than ever. Greek GDP has shrunk by 26 percent since 2008, the national debt to GDP ratio in Greece is up to a staggering 175 percent, and the unemployment rate is up above 25 percent. Greek stocks are crashing and Greek bond yields are shooting into the stratosphere. Meanwhile, the banking system is essentially on life support at this point. 400 million euros were pulled out of Greek banks on Monday alone. No matter what happens in the coming days, many believe that it is now only a matter of time before capital controls like we saw in Cyprus are imposed.
Over the past several months, there have been endless high level meetings over in Europe regarding this Greek crisis, but none of them have fixed anything. And even Jeroen Dijsselbloem admits that the odds of anything being accomplished during the meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Thursday is “very small”…
Some officials believe Thursday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers will be perhaps the last chance to stop Greece sliding into default and towards leaving the euro.
However the president of the so-called Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said the chance of an accord was “very small”.
And it is certainly not just Dijsselbloem that feels this way. At this point pretty much everyone is resigned to the fact that there is not going to be a deal any time soon. The following comes from Reuters…
“People are getting anxious on both sides. Athens expects Brussels to move. And Brussels expects Athens to move. And it’s stuck,” said a senior EU diplomat, who declined to be named.
“It’s very dangerous, and we may have an accident.”
EU officials insist that it is Greece that needs to back down, but the Greeks have no intention of backing down. Just consider the words of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He says that he is not afraid to deliver “the great no” to the rest of Europe…
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he’s ready to assume responsibility for the consequences of rejecting an unfair deal with creditors.
In a sign that he’s being taken at his word, officials from the Netherlands, Portugal and Germany said they were bracing for a breakdown in talks that could roil the currency bloc.
With a viable solution “the Greek government recently elected by the Greek people will bear the cost of carrying through,” Tsipras told reporters in Athens on Wednesday. Without one, “we will assume the responsibility to say ‘the great no’ to a continuation of the catastrophic policies.”
To me, that sounds like a man that is not going to back down. And to call it “the great no” is not an exaggeration at all. I think that he realizes that this “great no” will unleash financial chaos all over Europe.
For Greece, the consequences would likely be catastrophic. At least that is what the Bank of Greece thinks…
Failure to reach an agreement would, on the contrary, mark the beginning of a painful course that would lead initially to a Greek default and ultimately to the country’s exit from the euro area and – most likely – from the European Union. A manageable debt crisis, as the one that we are currently addressing with the help of our partners, would snowball into an uncontrollable crisis, with great risks for the banking system and financial stability. An exit from the euro would only compound the already adverse environment, as the ensuing acute exchange rate crisis would send inflation soaring.
All this would imply deep recession, a dramatic decline in income levels, an exponential rise in unemployment and a collapse of all that the Greek economy has achieved over the years of its EU, and especially its euro area, membership. From its position as a core member of Europe, Greece would see itself relegated to the rank of a poor country in the European South.
And no matter how confident the Germans appear to be right now, the truth is that a Greek debt default would be a complete and total nightmare for the rest of Europe as well. The euro would drop like a rock, stocks would crash all over Europe and bond yields would go crazy. And that is just for starters.
So we desperately need to see a deal. But with each passing day that seems less and less likely.
In fact, a Greek parliament committee on public debt just released a new report containing their preliminary findings. This report is not legally binding, but it does show the mood of the Greek parliament, and what this report says is absolutely stunning. It concluded that the Greek government is under absolutely no obligation to repay its debts. Just check out the following excerpt from the report…
All the evidence we present in this report shows that Greece not only does not have the ability to pay this debt, but also should not pay this debt first and foremost because the debt emerging from the Troika’s arrangements is a direct infringement on the fundamental human rights of the residents of Greece. Hence, we came to the conclusion that Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate, and odious.
In other words, what this report is saying is that the Greek government should never pay back any of this debt. That certainly is not going to sit well with the officials from the EU and the IMF.
And what happens if other financially troubled nations in the eurozone decide that their debts are “illegal” and “odious” as well?
Globally, there are more than 76 trillion dollars worth of bonds floating around out there, and the yields on those bonds are based on the assumption that they will always be paid off. If nations such as Greece start defaulting, that will throw the entire global financial system into a state of tremendous chaos.
Of course the Greek financial system is already in a state of tremendous chaos. At this point, many believe that it is just a matter of time before capital controls are imposed. This is something that I have warned about in the past. The following description of what capital controls in Greece may look like comes from Bloomberg…
No one knows the specifics for Greece, but here’s what happened in Cyprus: ATM withdrawals were capped at 300 euros a person per day. Transfers of more than 5,000 euros abroad were subject to approval by a special committee. Companies needed documents for each payment order, with approvals for over 200,000 euros determined by available liquidity. Parents couldn’t send children that were studying abroad more than 5,000 euros a quarter. Cypriots traveling abroad could carry no more than 1,000 euros with them. Termination of fixed-term deposits was prohibited, while payments with credit and debit cards were capped at 5,000 euros. Checks couldn’t be cashed.
Since most Greeks do not want to have their money trapped in the banks, they have been pulling out cash and hiding it at home at a record breaking pace. This is precisely what we would expect to see when a nation is on the verge of total financial collapse…
“Everybody’s doing it,” said Joanna Christofosaki, in front of a Eurobank cash dispenser in the leafy Athens neighbourhood of Kolonaki. “Our friends have all done it. Nobody wants their money to be worthless tomorrow. Nobody wants to be unable to get at it.”
A researcher in the archaeology department at the Academy of Athens, Christofosaki said she knew plenty of people who had “€10,000 somewhere at home” and plenty of others who chose to keep their stash at the office. Was she among them? “If I was, I certainly wouldn’t tell you.”
As I wrote about yesterday, I believe that this is the beginning of the next great European financial crisis.
Eventually, it will spread all over the planet.
Unfortunately, even though global debt levels have never been higher and the signs of the coming financial implosion are all around us, most people have been lulled into a false sense of security.
Most people just assume that everything is going to turn out okay somehow.
The second half of this year is going to be much different from the first half, but most people will not be convinced until everything starts completely falling apart.
By then, it may be far too late to do anything about it.
Over the past decade, there has been only one other time when the value of the U.S. dollar has increased by so much in such a short period of time. That was in mid-2008 – just before the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression. A surging U.S. dollar also greatly contributed to the Latin American debt crisis of the early 1980s and the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Today, the globe is more interconnected than ever. Most global trade is conducted in U.S. dollars, and much of the borrowing done by emerging markets all over the planet is denominated in U.S. dollars. When the U.S. dollar goes up dramatically, this can put a tremendous amount of financial stress on economies all around the world. It also has the potential to greatly threaten the stability of the 65 trillion dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to the value of the U.S. dollar. The global financial system is more vulnerable to currency movements than ever before, and history tells us that when the U.S. dollar soars the global economy tends to experience a contraction. So the fact that the U.S. dollar has been skyrocketing lately is a very, very bad sign.
Most of the people that write about the coming economic collapse love to talk about the coming collapse of the U.S. dollar as well.
But in the initial deflationary stage of the coming financial crisis, we are likely to see the U.S. dollar actually strengthen considerably.
As I have discussed so many times before, we are going to experience deflation first, and after that deflationary phase the desperate responses by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government to that deflation will cause the inflationary panic that so many have written about.
Yes, someday the U.S. dollar will essentially be toilet paper. But that is not in our immediate future. What is in our immediate future is a “flight to safety” that will push the surging U.S. dollar even higher.
This is what we witnessed in 2008, and this is happening once again right now.
Just look at the chart that I have posted below. You can see the the U.S. dollar moved upward dramatically relative to other currencies starting in mid-2008. And toward the end of the chart you can see that the U.S. dollar is now experiencing a similar spike…
At the moment, almost every major currency in the world is falling relative to the U.S. dollar.
For example, this next chart shows what the euro is doing relative to the dollar. As you can see, the euro is in the midst of a stunning decline…
Instead of focusing on the U.S. dollar, those that are looking for a harbinger of the coming financial crisis should be watching the euro. As I discussed yesterday, analysts are telling us that if Greece leaves the eurozone the EUR/USD could fall all the way down to 0.90. If that happens, the chart above will soon resemble a waterfall.
And of course it isn’t just the euro that is plummeting. The yen has been crashing as well. The following chart was recently posted on the Crux…
Unfortunately, most Americans have absolutely no idea how important all of this is. In recent years, growing economies all over the world have borrowed gigantic piles of very cheap U.S. dollars. But now they are faced with the prospect of repaying those debts and making interest payments using much more expensive U.S. dollars.
Investors are starting to get nervous. At one time, investors couldn’t wait to pour money into emerging markets, but now this process is beginning to reverse. If this turns into a panic, we are going to have one giant financial mess on our hands.
The truth is that the value of the U.S. dollar is of great importance to every nation on the face of the Earth. The following comes from U.S. News & World Report…
In the early ’80s, a bullish U.S. dollar contributed to the Latin American debt crisis, and also impacted the Asian Tiger crisis in the late ’90s. Emerging markets typically have higher growth, but carry much higher risk to investors. When the economies are doing well, foreign investors will lend money to emerging market countries by purchasing their bonds.
They also deposit money in foreign banks, which facilitates higher lending. The reason for this is simple: Bond payments and interest rates in emerging markets are much higher than in the U.S. Why deposit cash in the U.S. and earn 0.25 percent, when you could earn 6 percent in Indonesia? With the dollar strengthening, the interest payments on any bond denominated in U.S. dollars becomes more expensive.
Additionally, the deposit in the Indonesian bank may still be earning 6 percent, but that is on Indonesian rupiahs. After converting the rupiahs to U.S. dollars, the extra interest doesn’t offset the loss from the exchange. As investors get nervous, the higher interest on emerging market debt and deposits becomes less alluring, and they flee to safety. It may start slowly, but history tells us it can quickly spiral out of control.
Over the past few months, I have been repeatedly stressing that so many of the signs that we witnessed just prior to previous financial crashes are happening again.
Now you can add the skyrocketing U.S. dollar to that list.
If you have not seen my previous articles where I have discussed these things, here are some places to get started…
“Guess What Happened The Last Time The Price Of Oil Crashed Like This?…”
“Not Just Oil: Guess What Happened The Last Time Commodity Prices Crashed Like This?…”
“10 Key Events That Preceded The Last Financial Crisis That Are Happening Again RIGHT NOW”
The warnings signs are really starting to pile up.
When we look back at past financial crashes, there are recognizable patterns that can be identified.
Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that a large number of those patterns are unfolding once again right before our eyes.
Unfortunately, most people in this world end up believing exactly what they want to believe.
No matter how much evidence you show them, they will not accept the truth until it is too late.
The signs of the times are everywhere – all you have to do is open up your eyes and look at them. When a pregnant woman first goes into labor, the birth pangs are usually fairly moderate and are not that close together. But as the time for delivery approaches, they become much more frequent and much more intense. Economically, what we are experiencing right now are birth pangs of the coming Great Depression. As we get closer to the crisis that is looming on the horizon, they will become even more powerful. This week, we learned that the Baltic Dry Index has fallen to the lowest level that we have seen in 29 years. The Baltic Dry Index also crashed during the financial collapse of 2008, but right now it is already lower than it was at any point during the last financial crisis. In addition, “Dr. Copper” and other industrial commodities continue to plunge. This almost always happens before we enter an economic downturn. Meanwhile, as I mentioned the other day, orders for durable goods are declining. This is also a traditional indicator that a recession is approaching. The warning signs are there – we just have to be open to what they are telling us.
And of course there are so many more parallels between past economic downturns and what is happening right now.
For example, volatility has returned to the markets in a big way. On Tuesday the Dow was down about 300 points, on Wednesday it was down another couple hundred points, and then on Thursday it was up a couple hundred points.
This is precisely how markets behave just before they crash. When markets are calm, they tend to go up. When markets get really choppy and start behaving erratically, that tells us that a big move down is usually coming.
At the same time, almost every major global currency is imploding. For much more on this, see the amazing charts in this article.
In particular, I am greatly concerned about the collapse of the euro. The Swiss would not have decoupled their currency from the euro if it was healthy. And political events in Greece are certainly not going to help things either. Economic conditions across Europe just continue to get worse, and the future of the eurozone itself is very much in doubt at this point. And if the eurozone does break up, a European economic depression is almost virtually assured – at least in the short term.
And I haven’t even mentioned the oil crash yet.
There is only one other time in all of history when the price of oil collapsed by more than 60 dollars, and that was just prior to the horrific financial crisis of 2008.
Since the last financial crisis, the oil industry has been a huge source for job growth in this country. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNN article…
The oil sector has added over a half million jobs — many of them high paying — since the recession ended in June 2009. That’s 13% of all US job growth over that period.
Now energy companies and related sectors are laying off thousands. Expect that trend to continue, bears say.
But losing good jobs is just the tip of the iceberg of this oil crisis.
At this point, the price of oil has already dropped to a catastrophically low level. The longer it stays at this level, the more damage that it is going to do. If the price of oil stays at this level for all of 2015, we are going to have a complete and total financial nightmare on our hands…
For the first time in 18 years, oil exporters are pulling liquidity out of world markets rather than putting money in. The world is now fast approaching a world reserve currency shift. If we see 8 to 12 months at these oil prices; U.S. shale industry will be wiped out. The effect on junk bonds will cascade to the rest of the stock market and U.S. economy.
…and this time there will be nothing left to catch the falling knife before it hits the American economy right in the heart. Not the FED nor the U.S. government can stop what’s coming. Liquidity will freeze up, our credit will be downgraded, the stock market will start to collapse, and then we can expect the FED to come in and hyper-inflate the dollar. This will cause the world to finish abandoning the world reserve currency in the last rungs of trade. This will be the end of the petrodollar.
Something that I have not discussed so far this year is the looming crisis in emerging market debt.
As economic problems spread around the world, a number of “emerging markets” are in danger of having their debt downgraded. And many investment funds have rules that prohibit them from holding any debt that is not “investment grade”. Therefore, we could potentially see some of these giant funds dumping massive amounts of emerging market debt if downgrades happen.
This is a really big deal. As a Business Insider article recently detailed, we could be talking about hundreds of billions of dollars…
Russia this week became the first of the major economies to lose its investment grade status from Standard & Poor’s, falling out off the top ratings category for credits deemed to have a low risk of default for the first time in a decade.
If Moody’s and Fitch follow, conservative investors barred from owning junk securities must sell their holdings. JPMorgan estimates this means they may ditch $6 billion in Russian government rouble and dollar debt.
Russia may have company. Almost $260 billion worth of sovereign and corporate bonds – nearly a tenth of outstanding emerging market (EM) debt – is in danger of being relegated to junk, according to David Spegel, head of emerging debt at BNP Paribas, who calls such credits “falling angels”.
And no article of this nature would be complete without mentioning derivatives.
I could not possibly overemphasize the danger that the 700 trillion dollar derivatives bubble poses to the global financial system.
As we enter the coming Great Depression, derivatives are going to play a starring role. Wall Street has been pumped full of funny money by global central banks, and our financial markets have been transformed into the greatest casino in the history of the world. When this house of cards comes crashing down, and it will, it is going to be a financial disaster unlike anything that the planet has ever seen.
And yes, global central banks are very much responsible for setting the stage for what we are about to experience.
I really like the way that David Stockman put it the other day…
The global financial system is literally booby-trapped with accidents waiting to happen owing to six consecutive years of massive money printing by nearly every central bank in the world.
Over that span, the collective balance sheet of the major central banks has soared by nearly $11 trillion, meaning that honest price discovery has been virtually destroyed. This massive “bid” for existing financial assets based on credit confected from thin air drove long-term bond yields to rock bottom levels not seen in 600 years since the Black Plague; and pinned money market costs at zero—-for 73 months running.
What is the consequence of this drastic financial repression along the entire yield curve? The answer is bond prices which keep rising regardless of credit risk, inflation or taxes; and rampant carry trade speculation that can’t get out of its own way because central banks have made the financial gamblers’ cost of goods—the “funding” cost of their trades—-essentially zero.
Of course I am not the only one warning that a new Great Depression is coming. For instance, just consider what British hedge fund manager Crispin Odey is saying…
British hedge fund manager Crispin Odey thinks we’ve entered an economic downturn that is “likely to be remembered in a hundred years,” and central banks won’t be able to stop it.
In his Odey Asset Management investor letter dated Dec. 31, Odey writes that the shorting opportunity “looks as great as it was in 07/09.”
“My point is that we used all our monetary firepower to avoid the first downturn in 2007-09,” he writes, “so we are really at a dangerous point to try to counter the effects of a slowing China, falling commodities and EM incomes, and the ultimate First World Effects. This is the heart of the message. If economic activity far from picks up, but falters, then there will be a painful round of debt default.”
Even though most average citizens are completely oblivious to what is happening, many among the elite are heeding the warning signs and are feverishly getting prepared. As Robert Johnson told a stunned audience at the World Economic Forum the other day, they are “buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand“. They can see the horrifying storm forming on the horizon and they are preparing to get out while the getting is good.
It can be very frustrating to write about economics, because things in the financial world can take an extended period of time to play out. Sadly, most people these days have extremely short attention spans. We live in a world of iPhones, iPads, YouTube videos, Facebook updates and 48 hour news cycles. People no longer are accustomed to thinking in long-term time frames, and if something does not happen right away we tend to get bored with it.
But the economic world is not like a game of “Angry Birds”. Rather, it is very much like a game of chess.
And unfortunately for us, checkmate is right around the corner.