Russian President Vladimir Putin has introduced legislation that would deal a tremendous blow to the U.S. dollar. If Putin gets his way, and he almost certainly will, the U.S. dollar will be eliminated from trade between nations that belong to the Commonwealth of Independent States. In addition to Russia, that list of countries includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Obviously this would not mean “the death of the dollar”, but it would be a very significant step toward the end of the era of the absolute dominance of the U.S. dollar. Most people don’t realize this, but more U.S. dollars are actually used outside of the United States than are used inside this country. If the rest of the planet decides to stop accumulating dollars, using them to trade with one another, and loaning them back to us at ultra-low interest rates, we are going to be in for a world of hurt. Unfortunately for us, it is only a matter of time until that happens.
When I first read the following excerpt from a recent RT article, I was absolutely stunned…
Russian President Vladimir Putin has drafted a bill that aims to eliminate the US dollar and the euro from trade between CIS countries.
This means the creation of a single financial market between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and other countries of the former Soviet Union.
“This would help expand the use of national currencies in foreign trade payments and financial services and thus create preconditions for greater liquidity of domestic currency markets”, said a statement from Kremlin.
For a long time, tensions have been building between the United States and Russia over Syria, Ukraine, the price of oil and a whole host of other issues. But I didn’t anticipate that things would get to this level quite yet. It is expected that Putin’s new bill will become law, and this is only one element of a much larger trend that is now developing.
You see, the truth is that Russia and China have both been dumping dollar-denominated assets for months. The following comes from a recent piece by Mac Slavo…
Last year Russia began unloading massive amounts of their US dollar reserves. In the month of December 2014 alone Putin sold some 20% of the country’s U.S. Treasurys, a move that further increased tensions surrounding what can only be described as economic warfare between East and West.
Then, as if part of a coordinated effort, this summer it was revealed that China had implemented a similar strategy, dumping half a trillion in dollar denominated assets.
But that’s just the beginning of the end for the US dollar. Amid a major meltdown in Chinese stock markets the People’s Republic sold off billions in dollar assets last week in what was reported to be an effort to stabilize their collapsing financial markets.
And now, as Russia’s economy collapses under the weight of American and European sanctions, including what many believe to be widespread downward manipulation of oil prices, Vladimir Putin is sending a clear signal to the central bank of the world’s reserve currency.
China has the second largest economy on the entire planet, and Russia has the tenth largest. In recent years, these two superpowers have become much tighter. For example, just consider this headline from Sputnik News that I came across just today: “Crippling US Foreign Policy Draws Russia, China Closer Together“.
And I don’t know if you have noticed, but U.S. relations with China have turned rather sour lately. Lots of accusations about spying and trade violations have been flying around, and just this week five Chinese warships were spotted off the coast of Alaska. In the months ahead, expect our relationship with China to continue to unravel.
If China and Russia were to both fundamentally reject the U.S. dollar at some point, much of the rest of the world may choose to follow suit.
So why is that important?
The fact that most of the nations of the world use our dollars to trade with one another creates a tremendous amount of artificial demand for our currency. In other words, the U.S. dollar is valued much higher than it otherwise would be just because it is the de facto reserve currency of the planet.
As a result, we can import massive amounts of products at super cheap prices. When we go to Wal-Mart or the dollar store, we can fill up our carts with lots and lots of ridiculously inexpensive stuff. Our standard of living is way higher than it actually should be.
And because the U.S. dollar is used so widely in global trade, major exporting nations end up with giant piles of our currency which they have been willing to lend back to us at ultra-low interest rates. This has made it possible to fund our massively bloated federal government and to go 18 trillion dollars in debt.
If the rest of the world stops using our dollars and stops playing our game, we will be in a tremendous amount of trouble. The cost of imported products would absolutely skyrocket and our standard of living would go way down.
In addition, the federal government (along with state and local governments) would have to pay much more to borrow money which would rapidly create a gigantic debt crisis.
So Russia knows where they could really hurt us. Most of the “power” that America currently projects around the world is based on having the de facto reserve currency of the planet. If you take our financial power away, we would be far, far less imposing on the global stage. Sadly, the truth is that the U.S. military is rapidly shrinking and has largely been defanged by the Obama administration.
A lot of people that will read this article will not understand this, but it is very, very important to keep an eye on this emerging Russian/Chinese alliance. I believe that it is going to play a critical role in world events during the years ahead.
So do you agree with me or do you disagree? Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…
In order for our current level of debt-fueled prosperity to continue, the rest of the world must continue to use our dollars to trade with one another and must continue to buy our debt at ridiculously low interest rates. Of course the number one foreign nation that we depend on to participate in our system is China. China accounts for more global trade than anyone else on the planet (including the United States), and most of that trade is conducted in U.S. dollars. This keeps demand for our dollars very high, and it ensures that we can import massive quantities of goods from overseas at very low cost. As a major exporting nation, China ends up with gigantic piles of our dollars. They lend many of those dollars back to us at ridiculously low interest rates. At this point, China owns more of our national debt than any other country does. But if China was to decide to quit playing our game and started moving away from U.S. dollars and U.S. debt, our economic prosperity could disappear very rapidly. Demand for the U.S. dollar would fall and prices would go up. And interest rates on our debt and everything else in our financial system would go up to crippling levels. So it is absolutely critical to our financial future that China continues to play our game.
Unfortunately, there are signs that China has now decided to start looking for a smooth exit from the game. In November, I wrote about how the central bank of China has announced that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves”. That means that the pile of U.S. dollars that China is sitting on is not going to get any higher.
In addition, China has signed a whole host of international currency agreements with other nations during the past couple of years which are going to result in less U.S. dollars being used in international trade. You can read about many of these agreements in this article.
This week, we learned that China started to dump U.S. debt during the month of December. Many have imagined that China would try to dump a flood of our debt on to the market all of a sudden once they decided to exit, but that simply does not make sense. Instead, it makes sense for China to dump a bit of debt at a time so that the market will not panic and so that they can get close to full value for the paper that they are holding.
As Bloomberg reported the other day, China dumped nearly 50 billion dollars of U.S. debt during the month of December…
China, the largest foreign U.S. creditor, reduced holdings of U.S. Treasury debt in December by the most in two years as the Federal Reserve announced plans to slow asset purchases.
The nation pared its position in U.S. government bonds by $47.8 billion, or 3.6 percent, to $1.27 trillion, the largest decline since December 2011, according to U.S. Treasury Department data released yesterday.
This is how I would do it if I was China. I would try to dump 30, 40 or 50 billion dollars a month. I would try to make a smooth exit and try to get as much for my U.S. debt paper as I could.
So if China is not going to stockpile U.S. dollars or U.S. debt any longer, what is it going to stockpile?
It is going to stockpile gold of course. In fact, China has been voraciously stockpiling gold for quite some time, and their hunger for gold appears to be growing.
According to Bloomberg, more than 80 percent of the gold that was exported from Switzerland last month went to Asia…
Switzerland sent more than 80 percent of its gold and silver bullion and coin exports to Asia last month, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration said today in an e-mailed report. It imported most from the U.K.
Hong Kong was the top destination at 44 percent on a value basis, with India at 14 percent, the Bern-based customs agency said in its first breakdown of the gold trade data since 1980. Singapore accounted for 8.6 percent of exports, the United Arab Emirates 7.9 percent and China 6.3 percent.
When China imports gold, most of it goes through Hong Kong. We know that imports of gold from Hong Kong into China are at an all-time record high, but we don’t know exactly how much gold China has accumulated at this point because they quit reporting that to the rest of the world a number of years ago.
When it comes to global finance, China is playing chess and the United States is playing checkers. China knows that gold is a universal currency that will hold value over the long-term. As the paper currencies of the world race toward collapse, China could end up holding most of the real money and that would be a huge game changer when they finally reveal that fact…
The announcement of China’s new gold hoard will send shockwaves through the financial markets, and make China and the Chinese yuan (their national currency) even bigger players at the international table.
International banking expert James Rickards compared it to a game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker:
“You want a big pile of chips. The U.S. has a big pile of chips, Europe has a big pile of chips. The U.S. has 8,000 tonnes [metric tons] of gold, 17 members of the euro system have 10,000 tonnes. China at 1,000 tonnes is not a player, but at 5,000 tonnes, they are a player.”
There are some really good points made in the quote above, but I do take exception with a couple of things. First of all, I believe that China now has far more than 5,000 tons of gold. Secondly, I seriously doubt that the U.S. still actually has 8,000 tons of gold or that Europe still actually has 10,000 tons of gold.
As China (and eventually the rest of the world) moves away from a U.S.-based financial system, the consequences are going to be dramatic.
For instance, right now the average rate of interest that the U.S. government pays on debt is just 2.477 percent. That is ridiculously low and it is way below the real rate of inflation. It is simply not rational for anyone to lend the U.S. government money so cheaply, and at some point we are going to see a dramatic shift.
When that day arrives, interest rates are going to rise dramatically. And if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rises to just 6 percent (and it has been much higher than that in the past), we will be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.
Even more frightening is what a rapidly changing interest rate environment would mean for our banking system. There are four large U.S. banks that each have exposure to derivatives in excess of 40 trillion dollars. You can find the identity of those banks right here. Interest rate derivatives make up the biggest chunk of those derivatives contracts. As John Embry told King World News just the other day, when that bubble bursts the carnage is going to be unprecedented…
“Stockman brought up a brilliant point, the fact that we have hundreds of trillions of dollars of interest rate swaps, which are polluting the world’s banking system. If we see growing volatility in interest rates, and I think that’s inevitable with what’s going on, that would cause spasms in the financial system. And if something goes wrong in the derivatives market, Heaven help us because the leverage that is imparted to the banking system through these derivatives is unholy.”
Unfortunately, very few of the “experts” will ever see this crash coming.
Very few of them saw it coming in 2000.
Very few of them saw it coming in 2008.
And very few of them will see it coming this time.
I really like what Paul B. Farrell had to say about this…
Early warnings of a crash are dismissed over and over (“just a temporary correction”). They gradually numb us about the inevitable. Time after time we forget history’s lessons. Until finally a big surprise catches us totally off-guard. Financial historian Niall Ferguson put it this way: Before the crash, our world seems almost stationary, deceptively so, balanced, at a set point. So that when the crash finally hits — as inevitably it will — everyone seems surprised. And our brains keep telling us it’s not time for a crash.
Till then, life just goes along quietly, hypnotizing us, making us vulnerable, till a shocker like Lehman Brothers upsets the balance. Then, says Ferguson, the crash is “accelerating suddenly, like a sports car … like a thief in the night.” It hits. Shocks us wide awake.
Don’t let the upcoming crash take you by surprise.
The warning signs are very clear.
Get ready while you still can.
Is the petrodollar dead? Well, not yet, but the nails are being hammered into the coffin even as you read this. For decades, most of the nations of the world have used the U.S. dollar to buy oil and to trade with each other. In essence, the U.S. dollar has been acting as a true global currency. Virtually every country on the face of the earth has needed big piles of U.S. dollars for international trade. This has ensured a huge demand for U.S. dollars and U.S. government debt. This demand for dollars has kept prices and interest rates low, and it has given the U.S. government an incredible amount of power and leverage around the globe. Right now, U.S. dollars make up more than 60 percent of all foreign currency reserves in the world. But times are changing. Over the past couple of years there has been a whole bunch of international agreements that have made the U.S. dollar less important in international trade. The mainstream media in the United States has been strangely quiet about all of these agreements, but the truth is that they are setting the stage for a fundamental shift in the way that trade is conducted around the globe. When the petrodollar dies, it is going to have an absolutely devastating impact on the U.S. economy. Sadly, most Americans are totally clueless regarding what is about to happen to the dollar.
One of the reasons the Federal Reserve has been able to get away with flooding the financial system with U.S. dollars is because the rest of the world has been soaking a lot of those dollars up. The rest of the world has needed giant piles of dollars to trade with, but what is going to happen when they don’t need dollars anymore?
Could we see a tsunami of inflation as demand for the dollar plummets like a rock?
The power of the U.S. dollar has been one of the few things holding up our economy. Once that leg gets kicked out from under us we are going to be in a whole lot of trouble.
The following are 11 international agreements that are nails in the coffin of the petrodollar….
#1 China And Russia
China and Russia have decided to start using their own currencies when trading with each other. The following is from a China Daily article about this important agreement….
China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday.
Chinese experts said the move reflected closer relations between Beijing and Moscow and is not aimed at challenging the dollar, but to protect their domestic economies.
“About trade settlement, we have decided to use our own currencies,” Putin said at a joint news conference with Wen in St. Petersburg.
The two countries were accustomed to using other currencies, especially the dollar, for bilateral trade. Since the financial crisis, however, high-ranking officials on both sides began to explore other possibilities.
#2 China And Brazil
Did you know that Brazil conducts more trade with China than with anyone else?
The largest economy in South America has just agreed to a huge currency swap deal with the largest economy in Asia. The following is from a recent BBC article….
China and Brazil have agreed a currency swap deal in a bid to safeguard against any global financial crisis and strengthen their trade ties.
It will allow their respective central banks to exchange local currencies worth up to 60bn reais or 190bn yuan ($30bn; £19bn).
The amount can be used to shore up reserves in times of crisis or put towards boosting bilateral trade.
#3 China And Australia
Did you know that Australia conducts more trade with China than with anyone else?
Australia also recently agreed to a huge currency swap deal with China. The following is from a recent Financial Express article….
The central banks of China and Australia signed a A$30 billion ($31.2 billion) currency-swap agreement to ensure the availability of capital between the trading partners, the Reserve Bank of Australia said.
“The main purposes of the swap agreement are to support trade and investment between Australia and China, particularly in local-currency terms, and to strengthen bilateral financial cooperation,” the RBA said in a statement on its website. “The agreement reflects the increasing opportunities available to settle trade between the two countries in Chinese renminbi and to make RMB-denominated investments.”
China has been expanding currency-swap accords as it promotes the international use of the yuan, and the accord with Australia follows similar deals with nations including South Korea, Turkey and Kazakhstan. China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and accounts for about a quarter of the nation’s merchandise sales abroad.
#4 China And Japan
The second and third largest economies on the entire planet have decided that they should start moving toward using their own currencies when trading with each other. This agreement was incredibly important but it was almost totally ignored by the U.S. media.
According to Bloomberg, it is anticipated that this agreement will strengthen ties between these two Asian giants….
Japan and China will promote direct trading of the yen and yuan without using dollars and will encourage the development of a market for companies involved in the exchanges, the Japanese government said.
Japan will also apply to buy Chinese bonds next year, allowing the investment of renminbi that leaves China during the transactions, the Japanese government said in a statement after a meeting between Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing yesterday. Encouraging direct yen- yuan settlement should reduce currency risks and trading costs, the Japanese and Chinese governments said.
China is Japan’s biggest trading partner with 26.5 trillion yen ($340 billion) in two-way transactions last year, from 9.2 trillion yen a decade earlier.
#5 India And Japan
It is not just China making these kinds of currency agreements. According to Reuters, India and Japan have also agreed to a very large currency swap deal….
India and Japan have agreed to a $15 billion currency swap line, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Wednesday, in a positive move for the troubled Indian rupee, Asia’s worst-performing currency this year.
#6 “Junk For Oil”: How India And China Are Buying Oil From Iran
Iran is still selling lots of oil. They just aren’t exchanging that oil for U.S. dollars as much these days.
So how is Iran selling their oil without using dollars?
A Bloomberg article recently detailed what countries such as China and India are exchanging for Iranian oil….
Iran and its leading oil buyers, China and India, are finding ways to skirt U.S. and European Union financial sanctions on the Islamic republic by agreeing to trade oil for local currencies and goods including wheat, soybean meal and consumer products.
India, the second-biggest importer of Iran’s oil, has set up a rupee account at a state-owned bank to settle as much as much as 45 percent of its bill, according to Indian officials. China, Iran’s largest oil customer, already settles some of its oil debts through barter, Mahmoud Bahmani, Iran’s central bank governor, said Feb. 28. Iran also has sought to trade oil for wheat from Pakistan and Russia, according to media reports from the two countries.
#7 Iran And Russia
According to Bloomberg, Iran and Russia have decided to discard the U.S. dollar and use their own currencies when trading with each other….
Iran and Russia replaced the U.S. dollar with their national currencies in bilateral trade, Iran’s state-run Fars news agency reported, citing Seyed Reza Sajjadi, the Iranian ambassador in Moscow.
The proposal to switch to the ruble and the rial was raised by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Astana, Kazakhstan, of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the ambassador said.
#8 China And Chile
China and Chile recently signed a new agreement that will dramatically expand trade between the two nations and that is also likely to lead to significant currency swaps between the two countries….
The following is from a recent report that described this new agreement between China and Chile….
Wen called on the two nations to expand trade in goods, promote trade in services and mutual investment, and double bilateral trade in three years.
The Chinese leader also said the two countries should enhance cooperation in mining, expand farm product trade, and promote cooperation in farm product production and processing and agricultural technology.
China would like to be actively engaged in Chile’s infrastructure construction and work with Chile to promote the development of transportation networks in Latin America, said Wen.
Meanwhile, Wen suggested that the two sides launch currency swaps and expand settlement in China’s renminbi.
#9 China And The United Arab Emirates
According to CNN, China and the United Arab Emirates recently agreed to a very large currency swap deal….
In January, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the United Arab Emirates and signed a $5.5 billion currency swap deal to boost trade and investments between the two countries.
#10 China And Africa
Did you know that China is now Africa’s biggest trading partner?
For many years the U.S. dollar was dominant in Africa, but now that is changing. A report from Africa’s largest bank, Standard Bank, says the following….
“We expect at least $100 billion (about R768 billion) in Sino-African trade – more than the total bilateral trade between China and Africa in 2010 – to be settled in the renminbi by 2015.”
#11 Brazil, Russia, India, China And South Africa
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) continue to become a larger factor in the global economy.
A recent agreement between those nations sets the stage for them to increasingly use their own national currencies when trading with each other rather than the U.S. dollar. The following is from a news source in India….
The five major emerging economies of BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are set to inject greater economic momentum into their grouping by signing two pacts for promoting intra-BRICS trade at the fourth summit of their leaders here Thursday.
The two agreements that will enable credit facility in local currency for businesses of BRICS countries will be signed in the presence of the leaders of the five countries, Sudhir Vyas, secretary (economic relations) in the external affairs ministry, told reporters here.
The pacts are expected to scale up intra-BRICS trade which has been growing at the rate of 28 percent over the last few years, but at $230 billion, remains much below the potential of the five economic powerhouses.
So what does all of this mean?
It means that the days of the U.S. dollar being the de facto reserve currency of the world are numbered.
So why is this important?
In a previous article, I quoted an outstanding article by Marin Katusa that detailed many of the important benefits that the petrodollar system has had for the U.S. economy….
The “petrodollar” system was a brilliant political and economic move. It forced the world’s oil money to flow through the US Federal Reserve, creating ever-growing international demand for both US dollars and US debt, while essentially letting the US pretty much own the world’s oil for free, since oil’s value is denominated in a currency that America controls and prints. The petrodollar system spread beyond oil: the majority of international trade is done in US dollars. That means that from Russia to China, Brazil to South Korea, every country aims to maximize the US-dollar surplus garnered from its export trade to buy oil.
The US has reaped many rewards. As oil usage increased in the 1980s, demand for the US dollar rose with it, lifting the US economy to new heights. But even without economic success at home the US dollar would have soared, because the petrodollar system created consistent international demand for US dollars, which in turn gained in value. A strong US dollar allowed Americans to buy imported goods at a massive discount – the petrodollar system essentially creating a subsidy for US consumers at the expense of the rest of the world. Here, finally, the US hit on a downside: The availability of cheap imports hit the US manufacturing industry hard, and the disappearance of manufacturing jobs remains one of the biggest challenges in resurrecting the US economy today.
So what happens when the petrodollar dies?
The following are some of the things we are likely to see….
-Oil will cost a lot more.
-Everything will cost a lot more.
-There will be a lot less foreign demand for U.S. government debt.
-Interest rates on U.S. government debt will rise.
-Interest rates on just about everything in the U.S. economy will rise.
And that is just for starters.
As I wrote about earlier today, the Federal Reserve is not going to save us. Ben Bernanke is not somehow going to pull a rabbit out of a hat that will magically make everything okay. Fundamental changes to the global financial system are happening right now that are impossible for Bernanke to stop.
We should have never gone into so much debt. Up until now we have gotten away with it, but when demand for U.S. dollars and U.S. debt dries up we are going to experience a massive amount of pain.
Keep your eyes and ears open for more news stories like the ones referenced above. The end of the petrodollar is going to be a very significant landmark on the road toward the total collapse of the U.S. economy.
So what do you think the fate of the U.S. dollar is going to be in the years ahead?
Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….
Does it cost you hundreds of dollars just to get to work each month? If it does, you are certainly not alone. There are millions of other Americans in the exact same boat. In recent years, the price of gas in the United States has gotten so outrageous that it has played a major factor in where millions of American families have decided to live and in what kind of vehicles they have decided to purchase. Many Americans that have very long commutes to work end up spending thousands of dollars on gas a year. So when the price of gas starts going up to record levels, people like that really start to feel it. But the price of gas doesn’t just affect those that drive a lot. The truth is that the price of gas impacts each and every one of us. Almost everything that we buy has to be transported, and when the price of gasoline goes up the cost of shipping goods also rises. The U.S. economy has been structured around cheap oil. It was assumed that we would always be able to transport massive quantities of goods over vast distances very inexpensively. Once that paradigm totally breaks down, we are going to be in a huge amount of trouble. For the moment, the big concern is the stress that higher gas prices are going to put on the budgets of ordinary American families. Unfortunately, almost everyone agrees that in the short-term the price of gas is going to go even higher.
When you are on a really tight budget and you are already spending several hundred dollars on gas each month, you certainly do not want to hear that gas prices are going to increase even more.
A lot of Americans are moving or are getting different vehicles just because of these outrageous gas prices. The following comes from a recent Mercury News article….
Katherine Zak, of South San Jose, is searching for an apartment near her new job at Facebook in Palo Alto, partly to cut down the cost of driving. Jeff Benson, of Raymond in the Sierra foothills, typically drives 60,000 to 70,000 miles a year and has traded in his 19 mpg Ford Taurus for a Fusion that gets 33 mpg. And David Thomas says his commute from San Jose to San Francisco is getting so expensive that he and his fiancee are hunting for a house near a BART station in the San Mateo-San Bruno area to shorten his commute and lower his $400-a-month gas bill.
The price of gas is going even higher even though energy consumption is sharply declining in the United States. Just check out the charts in this article by Charles Hugh Smith. Americans are using less gasoline and less energy and yet the price of gas continues to go up.
That is not a good sign.
Certainly any decrease that we are seeing in the U.S. is being more than offset by rising demand in places such as China and India. As emerging economies all over the globe continue to develop this is going to continue to put pressure on gas prices.
So just how bad are gas prices in the U.S. right now?
Just consider the following facts….
-The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is now $3.53.
-The average price of a gallon of gasoline is already higher than $3.70 in Connecticut, Washington D.C. and New York.
-In California, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $3.96 and there are quite a few cities where it is now above 4 dollars.
-In mid-January 2009, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States was just $1.85.
-The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen 25 cents since the beginning of 2012.
-Never before in U.S. history has the price of gasoline been this high so early in the year.
-The Oil Price Information Service is projecting that the price of gas could reach an average of $4.25 a gallon by the end of April.
-The price of oil just keeps going up. The price for West Texas Intermediate is about 19 percent higher than it was one year ago.
-The price of gasoline is also reaching record highs in many areas of Europe as well. For example, the price of diesel fuel in the UK recently set a brand new record.
-In 2011, U.S. households spent a whopping 8.4% of their incomes on gasoline. That percentage has approximately doubled over the past ten years.
But the price of gas is not the only thing making driving much more expensive these days.
All over the country, our politicians have been putting up toll booths. Most of the time these toll booths are going up on roads that have already been paid for.
After paying an outrageous amount for gas and after paying the outrageous tolls on many of these toll roads, many Americans wonder if it is even worth it to get up in the morning and go to work.
Unfortunately, a couple of new bills in Congress right now would reportedly allow even more highways to be made into toll roads.
It is almost as if they want to force us all to stop driving our cars.
America used to be the land of the open road, but that era is rapidly coming to an end.
Another thing that could put upward pressure on the price of gas is the situation in the Middle East.
Iran has already stopped selling oil to companies in the UK and France, and there is the potential that war could erupt in the Middle East at any time.
If war does erupt, or if commercial traffic through the Strait of Hormuz was interrupted for even a brief time, that would send the global price of oil through the roof.
Approximately 20 percent of all oil sold in the world passes through the Strait of Hormuz. If the flow of oil was halted, that would change the global economy almost overnight.
So is there any good news?
Well, there is one thing that would likely bring down the price of gas substantially.
A global recession.
Remember what happened back in 2008.
Just like we are seeing right now, the price of gas really spiked early in that year.
Eventually, the price of oil hit an all-time record of $147 a barrel in mid-2008.
But then the financial crisis struck and the price of oil fell like a rock as you can see from the chart below….
So could that happen again?
There are a ton of other parallels between 2008 and 2012.
In both years, we saw global shipping start to slow down dramatically.
In both years, the U.S. was getting ready to hold a presidential election.
In both years, many economists were warning that a great financial crisis was about to strike.
Back in 2008, the epicenter of the financial crisis was on Wall Street.
This time, the epicenter of the financial crisis will probably be in Europe.
Keep your eye on Europe. A disorderly default by Greece (and potentially even an exit from the eurozone) is looking increasingly likely.
But the problems in Europe are not going to end with Greece. The entire eurozone is going to be greatly shaken by the time this thing is over.
So yes, if we see another major global recession that will be great news for the price of gas, but it will be really bad news for the millions of people that lose their jobs and their homes.
Unfortunately, we live at a time when the world is becoming extremely unstable. The great era of peace and prosperity that we have been enjoying is coming to an end. The global financial system is going to experience a tremendous amount of chaos in the years ahead and that is something we will all need to prepare for.
For now, the price of gas is a major concern for millions upon millions of American families.
Someday, however, we will wish desperately that we could go back to these days.
Everywhere you turn these days, someone is proclaiming that the economy is improving. Barack Obama is endlessly touting the “improvement” in the economy, the mainstream media is constantly talking about “the economic recovery” and an increasing number of Americans seem to be buying into this line of thinking. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 37 percent of Americans believe that the economy will improve over the next year, while only 17 percent of Americans believe that it will get worse. But is the economy actually improving? Not really. At the moment things are relatively stable. Some economic statistics are improving slightly and some continue to get even worse. However, it is very important to keep in mind that one of the biggest reasons why things have stabilized is because the federal government is pumping more than a trillion dollars a year into the economy that it does not have. The Obama administration is engaging in a debt binge unlike anything America has ever seen before, and yet many economic indicators are still in decline. So what is going to happen when the federal government stops injecting gigantic waves of borrowed money into the economy? That is a frightening thing to think about. The best efforts of our “leaders” in Washington D.C. are not accomplishing a whole lot. The Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates as low as they can go and the federal government is spending unprecedented amounts of money. But even with the federal government and the Federal Reserve pushing the accelerator all the way to the floor, the economy is still not improving much at all. Millions upon millions of Americans out there are anticipating some sort of a “great economic recovery”, and they are going to be bitterly disappointed.
But right now there are some “bright spots” in the economy, and you are bound to run into family and friends that will repeat to you the nonsense that they are hearing on the television about how the economy is recovering.
When they try to convince you that the economy is getting better, ask them these questions….
If the economy is getting better, then why did new home sales in the United States hit a brand new all-time record low during 2011?
If the economy is getting better, then why are there 6 million less jobs in America today than there were before the recession started?
If the economy is getting better, then why is the average duration of unemployment in this country close to an all-time record high?
If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of homeless female veterans more than doubled?
If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of Americans on food stamps increased by 3 million since this time last year and by more than 14 million since Barack Obama entered the White House?
If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of children living in poverty in America risen for four years in a row?
If the economy is getting better, then why is the percentage of Americans living in “extreme poverty” at an all-time high?
If the economy is getting better, then why is the Federal Housing Administration on the verge of a financial collapse?
If the economy is getting better, then why do only 23 percent of American companies plan to hire more employees in 2012?
If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of self-employed Americans fallen by more than 2 million since 2006?
If the economy is getting better, then why did an all-time record low percentage of U.S. teens have a job last summer?
If the economy is getting better, then why does median household income keep declining? Overall, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% since December 2007 once you account for inflation.
If the economy is getting better, then why has the number of Americans living below the poverty line increased by 10 million since 2006?
If the economy is getting better, then why is the average age of a vehicle in America now sitting at an all-time high?
If the economy is getting better, then why are 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida currently sitting vacant?
If the economy is getting better, then why are 19 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 living with their parents?
If the economy is getting better, then why does the number of “long-term unemployed workers” stay so high? When Barack Obama first took office, the number of “long-term unemployed workers” in the United States was approximately 2.6 million. Today, that number is sitting at 5.6 million.
But there is some good news.
When Barack Obama first took office, an ounce of gold was going for about $850. Today, the price of an ounce of gold is over $1700.
The era of great prosperity that America has enjoyed for so long is coming to an end.
In fact, our long-term economic decline is about to accelerate.
So enjoy this “bubble of hope” while you can, because it won’t last long.
As I have written about previously, many are warning that Europe is on the verge of a nightmarish financial crisis that could potentially plunge us into a global recession even worse than 2008.
So let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.
Just because the economy is about to go through hard times does not mean that you have to go through hard times personally.
Right now, you can decide to make an investment or start a business that will thrive in a tough economic environment.
Victory often goes to the most prepared. So don’t just sit there while the storm clouds gather. Instead, this should be a time when you are gathering resources and developing a gameplan for the coming economic chaos.
Those that choose to have blind faith in “the system” are going to be tremendously disappointed in the years ahead. Just because you have a job right now does not mean that it is always going to be there. Just because your stock portfolio is doing well right now does not mean that will always be the case.
Hopefully we all learned some important lessons from 2008. The global financial situation can turn on a dime. When markets fall apart, they tend to do so very rapidly.
Ultimately, the debate about whether the economy is improving or not is going to be ended very emphatically. When the next wave of the financial crisis hits, there will be no doubt about what direction things are going.
Don’t let the next wave catch you by surprise.
Now is the time to prepare.
For a moment, imagine that there is a privately-owned organization in the United States that can create U.S. dollars out of thin air whenever it wants and can loan that money to whoever it wants to. Imagine that this organization is able to act with the full power of the U.S. government behind it, but that nobody in the organization is ever elected by the American people, and that for all practical purposes the organization is not accountable to the president or to Congress. Imagine that the organization is able to make trillions of dollars of secret loans to banks, to foreign governments and even to their close friends without ever having to face a comprehensive audit. Does that sound preposterous? Well, such an organization actually exists. It is called the Federal Reserve, and today we found out that once again the Fed is going to be taking huge piles of your money and loaning it to commercial banks in Europe. The Congress cannot overrule this decision. Neither can Barack Obama. Because it has so much power, many refer to the Federal Reserve as “the fourth branch of government”, but unlike the other three branches of government, there are basically no significant “checks and balances” on the Federal Reserve. If you don’t like the fact that the Federal Reserve is racing in to help big foreign banks survive the European debt crisis that is just too bad. The Federal Reserve pretty much gets to do whatever it wants to do, and the folks over at the Fed simply do not care whether you like that or not.
So what in the world just happened today? The following is how an article on CNBC explained it….
Just ahead of the Wall Street open Thursday, the European Central Bank, along with the U.S. Federal Reserve, Bank of England, Bank of Japan and Swiss National Bank announced they would offer three-month dollar loans to Europe’s commercial banks, easing dollar funding constraints.
It must be nice to do whatever you want without having to get the approval of anyone else.
What do you think Barack Obama would give for such power right about now?
The Federal Reserve and other major central banks around the world decided that lending big European banks gigantic piles of dollars would be a good idea, so they are just doing it.
No debate, no votes and no democracy – they just tell us how things are going to be and that is that.
It is a bit ironic that all of this happened on the third anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. It is almost as if the central bankers of the world are trying to send some sort of a message.
So how much money is going to be loaned out?
Well, according to an article in The Daily Mail, big European banks are going to be able to borrow an “unlimited” amount of money….
The deal announced yesterday means banks will be able to borrow ‘any amount’ of money in three separate auctions in October, November and December. Banks will have to put up collateral, or security, to tap the emergency funds.
Wow – I wish someone would offer to lend me an “unlimited” amount of money.
But of course this really is not going to solve anything in the long run. You can’t solve a raging debt problem with more debt.
Yes, it will help the big European banks with their short-term liquidity problems, but it will do nothing to fix the long-term structural problems that are tearing Europe to pieces.
Win Thin, a senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman, said essentially the same thing to CNBC today….
“They’re taking care of the symptoms, but the underlying illness is still out there. On the margin, it’s positive. Until Greece defaults and we clear this whole thing up, they’re still treading water”
So, no, the financial problems of Europe have not been solved.
Just think of this latest move as a temporary band-aid.
So why get upset about it?
Well, what all of this shows is just how arrogant the Federal Reserve is.
The Federal Reserve gets to throw around trillions of dollars without any accountability to the American people.
As I have written about previously, the Federal Reserve made $16.1 trillion in secret loans to their friends during the last financial crisis.
This was revealed in a GAO report, and members of Congress such as Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders tried to get people to pay attention to this. The following is a statement about this report that was taken from the official website of Senator Sanders….
“As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world”
So how much of that money went overseas? Well, it turns out that approximately $3.08 trillion of that money was loaned to big banks and major financial institutions in Europe and Asia.
Barack Obama can’t lend trillions of dollars to foreign banks.
So why does the Federal Reserve get to do it?
Sadly, most Americans know very little about the Federal Reserve. In the United States today, most Americans graduate from high school without ever learning much of anything about the Fed.
But if you really want to understand what is going on with our economy, it is absolutely critical that you understand the Federal Reserve.
The following are some more reasons why you should be upset about what the Federal Reserve has been doing….
*The Federal Reserve is a perpetual debt machine. Today, the U.S. national debt is 4700 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.
*The Federal Reserve has recently been actually paying banks not to make loans. Right now banks can park money at the Federal Reserve and make risk-free income without having to make loans to the American people.
*Current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has a track record of failure that is legendary, and yet George W. Bush and Barack Obama both backed him 100%.
*The Federal Reserve system is designed to create inflation. The truth is that the United States has only had a persistent, ongoing problem with inflation since the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.
*Since 2008, what the Federal Reserve has been doing to our money supply has been absolutely insane. Eventually this is going to have very serious consequences for us.
*The U.S. government has handed over the task of “centrally planning” our economy to the Federal Reserve. The Fed decides what the target rate of inflation should be, what the target rate of unemployment should be, what interest rates are going to be and what the size of the money supply is going to be. This is quite similar to the “central planning” that goes on in communist nations, but very few people in our government seem upset by this.
*The Federal Reserve picks “winners” and “losers” in the financial system. For example, when the last financial crisis hit, the Fed bent over backwards to help out the big Wall Street banks, but hordes of small banks were left out in the cold.
*As mentioned above, the Federal Reserve has become way, way too powerful. The Fed is able to do a lot of things that the three branches of government are simply not able to do. Fortunately, there are a few of our leaders that are alarmed by this. For example, Ron Paul once told MSNBC that he believes that the Federal Reserve is now more powerful than Congress…..
“The regulations should be on the Federal Reserve. We should have transparency of the Federal Reserve. They can create trillions of dollars to bail out their friends, and we don’t even have any transparency of this. They’re more powerful than the Congress.”
As long as we continue to use a debt-based currency that is controlled by a privately-owned central bank, we are going to continue to have permanent inflation and government debt that expands at an exponential pace.
The “central planning” done by the Federal Reserve has created bubble after bubble after bubble. Our dollars is on the verge of dying and our financial system is about to collapse.
The Federal Reserve system simply does not work.
Hopefully we can start sending more politicians to Washington D.C. that will be willing to stand up to the Federal Reserve.
But for now, the Federal Reserve is going to keep running around doing whatever it wants to do whether we like it or not.
A day is coming when the rest of the world will decide that it no longer has faith in U.S. dollars or in U.S. debt. When that day arrives, the game will be over. Traditionally, two of the biggest things that the U.S. economy has had going for it were the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasuries. The U.S. dollar has been the default reserve currency of the world for decades. All over the globe it was seen as a strong, stable currency that was desirable for international trade. U.S. government debt has long been considered the “safest debt” in the entire world. Whenever there was a major crisis, investors would flock to U.S. Treasuries because they were considered a rock. Sadly, all of this is now changing. Today the rest of the world is losing faith in the U.S. financial system. In fact, even the United Nations is now warning of the collapse of the dollar. But if the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasuries collapse, that will be an absolute nightmare for the U.S. economy. If the rest of the world does not want our dollars someday, then what are we going to give them in exchange for all of the oil and all of the cheap imported goods they send us? If the rest of the world does not want our debt someday, then how in the world are we going to be able to continue to consume far, far more wealth than we produce?
The rest of the world is watching the U.S. government run up record-setting budget deficits and they are watching the Federal Reserve print money like there is no tomorrow and they realize that the U.S. financial system is slowly imploding.
As mentioned above, now even the United Nations is warning that the U.S. dollar could collapse. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent news report put out by Reuters….
The United Nations warned on Wednesday of a possible crisis of confidence in, and even a “collapse” of, the U.S. dollar if its value against other currencies continued to decline.
In a mid-year review of the world economy, the UN economic division said such a development, stemming from the falling value of foreign dollar holdings, would imperil the global financial system.
But it is not just the United Nations that is concerned about the U.S. dollar.
On April 18th, Standard & Poor’s altered its outlook on U.S. government debt from “stable” to “negative” and warned that the U.S. could soon lose its prized AAA rating.
At one time, it would have been unthinkable for Standard & Poor’s to do such a thing.
But today it is amazing that it has taken them so long to make such a move. U.S. government finances are falling apart.
When the credit rating of U.S. government debt starts declining, interest rates will go up. Just ask the government of Greece how painful that can be. Today, Greece is paying over 16 percent on 10 year bonds.
The following is what John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics recently had to say about why Standard & Poor’s issued such a warning about U.S. government debt….
S&P is noting the U.S. government’s long-range fiscal problems. Generally, you’ll find that the accounting for unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and other programs on a net-present-value (NPV) basis indicates total federal debt and obligations of about $75 trillion. That’s 15 times the gross domestic product (GDP). The debt and obligations are increasing at a pace of about $5 trillion a year, which is neither sustainable nor containable. If the U.S. was a corporation on a parallel basis, it would be headed into bankruptcy rather quickly.
Look, the rest of the world is not stupid. They know that the U.S. government is hurtling towards financial disaster. The appetite among foreigners for U.S. government debt is decreasing rapidly.
In fact, according to Zero Hedge, foreigners are dumping U.S. debt at a very rapid pace right now.
In addition, the cost to insure U.S. debt has risen sharply in recent days.
Right now, the Federal Reserve has been buying up most new U.S. government debt with dollars that it has created out of thin air. This is a giant Ponzi scheme, and it is a major contributing factor to the decline of faith in the U.S. dollar.
The dollar has fallen by 17 percent compared to other major national currencies since 2009. What makes that fact even sadder is that all major currencies have been rapidly losing value compared to hard assets over that time period. The dollar is just sliding faster than almost all of the other global currencies that are constantly losing value as well.
Anyone with half a brain could have seen that this would be the end result of reckless government borrowing, but unfortunately our politicians have been ignoring this problem for decades.
Now a day or reckoning is fast approaching and it is going to be very painful.
The U.S. government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world. Just consider a few shocking facts about this unprecedented debt….
*If the U.S. national debt (more than 14 trillion dollars) was reduced to a stack of 5 dollar bills, it would reach three quarters of the way to the moon.
*The U.S. government borrows about 168 million dollars every single hour.
*If Bill Gates gave every penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.
*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.
In a previous article on The American Dream, I detailed some more absolutely horrifying statistics about U.S. government debt….
#1 If you divide the national debt up equally among all U.S. households, each one owes a staggering $125,475.18.
#2 The federal government has borrowed 29,660 more dollars per household since Barack Obama signed the economic stimulus law two years ago.
#3 During Barack Obama’s first two years in office, the U.S. government added more to the U.S. national debt than the first 100 U.S. Congresses combined.
#4 In the new budget that the Obama administration has proposed, the U.S. government would spend 3.7 trillion dollars in 2012 and by 2021 the U.S. government would be spending a whopping 5.6 trillion dollars per year.
#5 The U.S. government currently has to borrow approximately 41 cents of every single dollar that it spends.
#6 The total compensation that the federal government workforce earned last year came to a grand total of approximately 447 billion dollars.
#7 The U.S. national debt is currently rising by well over 4 billion dollars every single day.
#8 The U.S. government is borrowing over 2 million more dollars every single minute.
#9 The U.S. national debt is over 14 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.
#10 Unfunded liabilities for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare are estimated to be well over $100 trillion, and nobody in the U.S. government seems to have any idea how we are actually even going to come close to meeting all of those obligations.
#11 If you were alive when Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now. But this year alone the U.S. government is going to go about 1.6 trillion dollars more into debt.
#12 If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.
So have our politicians learned anything from the mistakes of the past?
The U.S. government continues to spend money on some of the most ridiculous things imaginable. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services has just announced a brand new $500 million program that will, among other things, seek to solve the problem of 5-year-old children that “can’t sit still” in a kindergarten classroom.
Isn’t it good to see the government investing our hard-earned tax dollars so wisely?
Of course if our kids weren’t being constantly fed foods packed with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and aspartame we wouldn’t have to spend 500 million dollars to deal with this problem.
When it comes to government waste, nobody seems to do it any better than the U.S. government.
Our politicians continue to assume that the rest of the world will always want our dollars and our debt, but that is simply not the case.
Over the past couple of years, global leader after global leader has publicly talked about the need for a new world reserve currency.
In fact, globalist institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank have been very busy discussing what the world is going to use as a global reserve currency after the death of the dollar.
The rest of the world is not sitting around waiting to see if the U.S. financial system is going to recover. They are already making plans for the demise of the dollar. They are increasingly using other currencies to trade with. They are becoming more hesitant to buy more of our debt. They are realizing that the days of U.S. dominance are coming to an end.
So what is that going to mean for us?
It is going to be a complete and total disaster.
Right now, we live far, far beyond our means. We borrow gigantic piles of money to make up the difference between what we produce and what we consume. We are absolutely dependent on the fact that the rest of the world will take our dollars in exchange for the things that we need.
The current situation is not sustainable.
It will come to an end.
When it does, our standard of living is going to feel like it has changed overnight.