The Beginning Of The End
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A Full-Blown Economic Crisis Has Erupted In Russia

Vladimir PutinThe 8th largest economy on the entire planet is in a state of turmoil right now.  The shocking collapse of the price of oil has hit a lot of countries really hard, but very few nations are as dependent on energy production as Russia is.  Sales of oil and natural gas account for approximately two-thirds of all Russian exports and approximately 50 percent of all government revenue. So it should be no surprise that the fact that the price of oil has declined by almost 50 percent since June is absolutely catastrophic for the Russian economy.  And when you throw in international sanctions, wild money printing by the Central Bank of Russia and unprecedented capital flight, you get the ingredients for an almost perfect storm.  But those of us living in the western world should not be too smug about what is happening in Russia, because the nightmare that is unfolding over there is just a preview of the economic chaos that will soon envelop the whole world.

So far this year, the Russian ruble has fallen nearly 50 percent against the U.S. dollar.  That is a monumental shift.  And as the collapse of the ruble has accelerated in recent days, we are seeing scenes in Russia that are reminiscent of the Weimar Republic.  For example, just consider the following excerpt from an article that just appeared in the New York Times

Scenes that Russians hoped had receded into the past reappeared on the streets: Currency exchange signs blinked ever-changing digits, and Russians rushed to appliance stores to buy washing machines or televisions to unload rubles.

“We are seeing an economic crisis,” Natalia V. Akindinova, a professor at the Higher School of Economics, said in a telephone interview. “We are seeing a sharp devaluation of the ruble at a time when the central bank doesn’t have the reserves to influence the market, as it did in the past crises.”

In a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding, the Central Bank of Russia made an astounding move.  Last night it raised its key interest rate from 10.5 percent all the way up to 17 percent.

It was hoped that this desperate move would keep the ruble from plummeting any further.

And it did work for a few minutes, but then the collapse of the ruble resumed.  This is how Zero Hedge described the carnage…

For those wondering if the CBR’s intervention in the Russian FX market with its shocking emergency rate hike to 17% overnight calmed things, the answer is yes… for about two minutes. The USDRUB indeed tumbled nearly 10% to 59 and then promptly blew right back out, the Ruble crashing in panic selling and seemingly without any CBR market interventions, and at last check was freefalling through 72 74, and sending the Russian stock market plummeting by over 15%.

So why is this happening now?

Well, the biggest reason for the freefall of the ruble is the fact that the Central Bank of Russia just printed up about 625 billion rubles and gave it to their friends at Rosneft.

Rosneft is an absolutely massive oil company that is controlled by the Russian government.  For months, Rosneft has been asking for a bailout (sound familiar?) to refinance loans that can no longer be rolled over with western banks because of economic sanctions.

And on Friday they got one.

In an attempt to quietly slip this massive injection of new money past everyone, Rosneft issued 625 billion rubles worth of new bonds just before the weekend and the Central Bank of Russia gobbled most of those new bonds up with freshly created money.  Unfortunately for Rosneft and the Central Bank of Russia, the rest of the world took notice

With the oil giant in a bind, the central bank ruled that it would accept Rosneft bonds held by commercial banks as collateral for loans.

Rosneft issued 625 billion rubles, about $10.9 billion at the exchange rate at the time, in new bonds on Friday. The identities of the buyers were not publicly disclosed, but analysts say that large state banks bought the issue.

When these banks deposit the bonds with the central bank in exchange for loans, Rosneft will have been financed, in effect, with an emission of rubles from the central bank.

So that is what led to the panic selling that we witnessed on Monday.

Meanwhile, money is being pulled out of Russia at an absolutely staggering pace.  As confidence in the ruble and in the Russian financial system disappears, wealthy people are feverishly trying to protect their wealth by moving it somewhere else.  The following is an excerpt from an editorial that Mohamed A. El-Erian recently penned for Business Insider…

Rather than bring in buyers at these substantially cheaper levels, Russian currency weakness is inducing more selling, including by a growing number of worried bank depositors who, instead of holding their savings in ruble, are opting for safer dollars. The larger the extent of this “currency substitution,” the bigger the scope for capital flight out of Russia. This puts even greater pressure on the currency, aggravating the output contraction, imported inflation, and the general sense economic and financial instability.

It has been estimated that total capital outflows for 2015 will reach an astounding $128 billion.

And this could just be the beginning of the economic troubles for Russia.

If the price of oil stays this low or goes even lower, the Russian economy will shrink.  The only question is how much it will contract

The Bank of Russia said Monday that the country could sink into a deep recession next year if oil prices remain at $60 a barrel. GDP could contract by as much as 4.7% in 2015, and then by a further 1.1% in 2016 unless oil prices pick up.

Sadly, it isn’t just oil producing nations such as Russia that are going to be devastated by the coming crisis.

Eventually, the entire globe is going to feel the pain.

Last week was the worst week for global financial markets in three years, and so many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008 are happening once again.  We have been living in a false bubble of relative stability for the past couple of years, but now time is running out.  The next great financial crisis is rapidly approaching, and 2015 promises to be the most “interesting” year that we have seen in ages.

If Everything Is Just Fine, Why Are So Many Really Smart People Forecasting Economic Disaster?

Apocalyptic Disaster - Public DomainThe parallels between the false prosperity of 2007 and the false prosperity of 2014 are rather striking.  If we go back and look at the numbers in the fall of 2007, we find that the Dow set an all-time high in October, margin debt on Wall Street had spiked to record levels, the unemployment rate was below 5 percent and Americans were getting ready to spend a record amount of money that Christmas season.  But then the very next year the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression shook the entire planet and everyone wondered why most people never saw it coming.  Well, now a similar pattern is unfolding right before our eyes.  The Dow and the S&P 500 both hit record highs on Monday, margin debt on Wall Street is hovering near record levels, the unemployment rate has ticked down a little bit and Americans are getting ready to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season.  The truth is that the economy seems pretty stable for the moment, and most people cannot even imagine that an economic collapse is coming.  So why are so many really smart people forecasting economic disaster in the near future?

For example, just consider what the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center is saying.  This is an organization with a tremendous economic forecasting record that goes all the way back to the Great Depression.  In fact, it predicted ahead of time the financial trouble and the recession that would happen in 2008.  Well, now this company is forecasting that there is a 65 percent chance that there will be a global recession by the end of next year…

In 1929, a businessman and economist by the name of Jerome Levy didn’t like what he saw in his analysis of corporate profits. He sold his stocks before the October crash.

Almost eight decades later, the consultancy company that bears his name declared “the next recession will be caused by the deflating housing bubble.” By February 2007, it predicted problems in the subprime-mortgage market would spread “to virtually all financial markets.” In October 2007, it saw imminent recession — the slump began two months later.

The Jerome Levy Forecasting Center, based in Mount Kisco, New York, and run by Jerome’s grandson David, is again more worried than its peers. Its half-dozen analysts attach a 65 percent probability of a worldwide recession forcing a contraction in the U.S. by the end of next year.

Could they be wrong?

It’s certainly possible.

But I wouldn’t bet against them.

John Hussman is another expert that is warning of financial disaster on the horizon.  He believes that we are experiencing a massive stock market bubble right now and that stocks are approximately double the value that they should be

If you look at corporate profits and especially corporate profit margins, they’re one of the most cyclical and mean-reverting series in economics. Right now, we have corporate profits that are close to about 11% of GDP, but if you look at that series you will find that corporate profits as a share of GDP have always dropped back to about 5.5% or below in every single economic cycle including recent decades, including not only the financial crisis but 2002 and every other economic cycle we have been in.

Right now stocks as a multiple of last year’s expected earnings may look only modestly over valued or modestly richly valued. Really if you look at the measures of valuation that are most correlated to the returns that stocks deliver over time say over seven years or over the next 10 years the S&P 500 in our estimation is about double the level of valuation that would give investors a normal rate of return.

Could you imagine the chaos that would ensue if stocks really did drop by 50 percent?

Well, Hussman says that this is precisely what must happen in order for stock prices to return to historical norms…

Right now, like I say, we are looking at stocks that have been pressed to long-term expected returns that are really dismal. But more important than that, in every market cycle that we’ve seen with the mild exception of 2002, we’ve seen stocks price revert back to normal rates of return. In order to get to that point from here, we would have to have equities drop by about half.

If that does happen, it will make the crisis of 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

Meanwhile, other very prominent thinkers are also warning that an economic nightmare is rapidly approaching.

Economic cycle theorist Martin Armstrong foresees major economic problems in 2015 which will ultimately lead to “civil unrest”  in 2016

It looks more and more like a serious political uprising will erupt by 2016 once the economy turns down. That is the magic ingredient. Turn the economy down and you get civil unrest and revolution.

And of course there are a whole lot of other economic cycle theorists that are forecasting that we are about to experience a massive economic downturn as well.  For much more on this, please see this article and this article.

What is truly frightening is that we have never even come close to recovering from the last economic crisis.  One poll that was taken just prior to the recent election found that only 28 percent of Americans said that their families were doing better financially.  In addition, here are some more survey numbers about how Americans are feeling about the economy

According to voter exit polls conducted by CNN, 78% said they are worried about the economy, with 69% saying that, in their view, economic conditions are not good. 65% responded that the country is on the wrong track vs. only 31% who believed that it is headed in the right direction.

Even though we are repeating so many of the same patterns that we experienced back in 2007, we are doing so with a fundamentally weaker economy.  The last crisis did a tremendous amount of permanent damage to us.  For an extensive look at this, please see my previous article entitled “12 Charts That Show The Permanent Damage That Has Been Done To The U.S. Economy“.

And there are lots of signs that much of the planet is already entering another major economic slowdown.  In a recent article, Brandon Smith summarized some of these.  He says that we are currently witnessing “the last gasp of the global economy“…

Global exports, and thus consumer demand, are plunging. Germany, the only pillar left to prop up the failing European Union, has experienced a severe decline in exports not seen since 2009.

China, the largest exporter and importer in the world, and Chinese companies, have been caught in a number of instances using fraudulent invoices to artificially inflate their own export numbers, in some cases reporting 50% more exported goods than had actually existed.

China’s manufacturing has also declined for the past five months, exposing the nature of its inflated export stats and indicating a global slowdown.

The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of global shipping rates for raw goods, and thus a measure of demand for shipping, continues to drag along near historic lows.

The U.S. consumer (the only economic asset the U.S. has besides the dollar’s world reserve status), has seen declines in spending as well as wages.

In the meantime, long term jobless Americans continue to fall off welfare rolls by the millions, making unemployment numbers look good, but the overall future picture look terrible as participation rates dissolve into the ether of government statistics.

How is such poverty being hidden? Foodstamps. Plain and simple. Nearly 50 million Americans now subsist on food stamp programs today, and this number shows no signs of dropping. In states like Illinois, two people sign up for food assistance for every citizen that happens to find a job.

From time to time, I get accused of “spreading fear” and of being obsessed with “doom and gloom”.

But that is not the case at all.

I actually want our economy to stay stable for as long as possible.  Many Americans don’t realize this, but even the poorest of us live in luxury compared to much of the rest of the world.  It would be wonderful if we could all live out our lives in peace and quiet and safety.

Unfortunately, it is simply not going to happen.

And it does not take an expert to see what is coming.

Anyone with half a brain should be able to see the economic disaster that is approaching.

There is hope in understanding what is happening and there is hope in getting prepared.  Millions of Americans that are willingly blind to our problems are going to have their lives absolutely destroyed when they get blindsided by the coming crisis.  So please use this brief period of relative stability to get prepared and to warn others.

Once this false bubble of hope runs out, all of our lives are going to dramatically change.

Exactly Like 7 Years Ago? 2014 Is Turning Out To Be Eerily Similar To 2007

Bubble - Photo by Jeff KubinaThe similarities between 2007 and 2014 continue to pile up.  As you are about to see, U.S. home sales fell dramatically throughout 2007 even as the mainstream media, our politicians and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke promised us that everything was going to be just fine and that we definitely were not going to experience a recession.  Of course we remember precisely what followed.  It was the worst economic crisis since the days of the Great Depression.  And you know what they say – if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.  Just like seven years ago, the stock market has soared to all-time high after all-time high.  Just like seven years ago, the authorities are telling us that there is nothing to worry about.  Unfortunately, just like seven years ago, a housing bubble is imploding and another great economic crisis is rapidly approaching.

Posted below is a chart of existing home sales in the United States during 2007.  As you can see, existing home sales declined precipitously throughout the year…

Existing Home Sales 2007

Now look at this chart which shows what has happened to existing home sales in the United States in recent months.  If you compare the two charts, you will see that the numbers are eerily similar…

Existing Home Sales Today

New home sales are also following a similar pattern.  In fact, we just learned that new home sales have collapsed to an 8 month low

Sales of new single-family homes dropped sharply last month as severe winter weather and higher mortgage rates continued to slow the housing recovery.

New home sales fell 14.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 385,000, down from February’s revised pace of 449,000, the Census Bureau said.

Once again, this is so similar to what we witnessed back in 2007.  The following is a chart that shows how new home sales declined dramatically throughout that year…

New Home Sales 2007

And this chart shows what has happened to new homes sales during the past several months.  Sadly, we have never even gotten close to returning to the level that we were at back in 2007.  But even the modest “recovery” that we have experienced is now quickly unraveling…

New Home Sales Today

If history does repeat, then what we are witnessing right now is a very troubling sign for the months to come.  As you can see from this chart, new home sales usually start going down before a recession begins.

And don’t expect these housing numbers to rebound any time soon.  The demand for mortgages has dropped through the floor.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent article by Michael Lombardi

One of the key indicators I follow in respect to the state of the housing market is mortgage originations. This data gives me an idea about demand for homes, as rising demand for mortgages means more people are buying homes. And as demand increases, prices should be increasing.

But the opposite is happening…

In the first quarter of 2014, mortgage originations at Citigroup Inc. (NYSE/C) declined 71% from the same period a year ago. The bank issued $5.2 billion in mortgages in the first quarter of 2014, compared to $8.3 billion in the previous quarter and $18.0 billion in the first quarter of 2013. (Source: Citigroup Inc. web site, last accessed April 14, 2014.)

Total mortgage origination volume at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE/JPM) declined by 68% in the first quarter of 2014 from the same period a year ago. At JPMorgan, in the first quarter of 2014, $17.0 billion worth of mortgages were issued, compared to $52.7 billion in the same period a year ago. (Source: JPMorgan Chase & Co. web site, last accessed April 14, 2014.)

It is almost as if we are watching a replay of 2007 all over again, and yet nobody is talking about this.

Everyone wants to believe that this time will be different.

The human capacity for self-delusion is absolutely amazing.

There are a lot of other similarities between 2007 and today as well.

Just the other day, I noted that retail stores are closing in the United States at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Back in 2007, we saw margin debt on Wall Street spike dramatically and help fuel a remarkable run in the stock market.  Just check out the chart in this article.  But that spike in margin debt also made the eventual stock market collapse much worse than it had to be.

And just like 2007, consumer credit is totally out of control.  As I noted in one recent article, during the fourth quarter of 2013 we witnessed the biggest increase in consumer debt in the U.S. that we have seen since 2007.  Total consumer credit in the U.S. has risen by 22 percent over the past three years, and 56 percent of all Americans have “subprime credit” at this point.

Are you starting to get the picture?  It is only 7 years later, and the same things that happened just prior to the last great financial crisis are happening again.  Only this time we are in much worse shape to handle an economic meltdown.  The following is a brief excerpt from my recent article entitled “We Are In FAR Worse Shape Than We Were Just Prior To The Last Great Financial Crisis“…

None of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.  In fact, they have all gotten worse.  The total amount of debt in the world has grown by more than 40 percent since 2007, the too big to fail banks have gotten 37 percent larger, and the colossal derivatives bubble has spiraled so far out of control that the only thing left to do is to watch the spectacular crash landing that is inevitably coming.

You can read the rest of that article right here.

For a long time, I have been convinced that this two year time period is going to represent a major “turning point” for America.

Right now, 2014 is turning out to be eerily similar to 2007.

Will 2015 turn out to be a repeat of 2008?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire

Lighting A Match - Photo by Sebastian RitterIf you have been waiting for the “global economic crisis” to begin, just open up your eyes and look around.  I know that most Americans tend to ignore what happens in the rest of the world because they consider it to be “irrelevant” to their daily lives, but the truth is that the massive economic problems that are currently sweeping across Europe, Asia and South America are going to be affecting all of us here in the U.S. very soon.  Sadly, most of the big news organizations in this country seem to be more concerned about the fate of Justin Bieber’s wax statue in Times Square than about the horrible financial nightmare that is gripping emerging markets all over the planet.  After a brief period of relative calm, we are beginning to see signs of global financial instability that are unlike anything that we have witnessed since the financial crisis of 2008.  As you will see below, the problems are not just isolated to a few countries.  This is truly a global phenomenon.

Over the past few years, the Federal Reserve and other global central banks have inflated an unprecedented financial bubble with their reckless money printing.  Much of this “hot money” poured into emerging markets all over the world.  But now that the Federal Reserve has begun “tapering” quantitative easing, investors are taking this as a sign that the party is ending.  Money is being pulled out of emerging markets all over the globe at a staggering pace and this is creating a tremendous amount of financial instability.  In addition, the economic problems that have been steadily growing over the past few years in established economies throughout Europe and Asia just continue to escalate.  The following are 20 signs that the global economic crisis is starting to catch fire…

#1 The unemployment rate in Greece has hit a brand new record high of 28 percent.

#2 The youth unemployment rate in Greece has hit a brand new record high of 64.1 percent.

#3 The percentage of bad loans in Italy is at an all-time record high.

#4 Italian industrial output declined again in December, and the Italian government is on the verge of collapse.

#5 The number of jobseekers in France has risen for 30 of the last 32 months, and at this point it has climbed to a new all-time record high.

#6 The total number of business failures in France in 2013 was even higher than in any year during the last financial crisis.

#7 It is being projected that housing prices in Spain will fall another 10 to 15 percent as their economic depression deepens.

#8 The economic and political turmoil in Turkey is spinning out of control.  The government has resorted to blasting protesters with pepper spray and water cannons in a desperate attempt to restore order.

#9 It is being estimated that the inflation rate in Argentina is now over 40 percent, and the peso is absolutely collapsing.

#10 Gangs of armed bandits are roaming the streets in Venezuela as the economic chaos in that troubled nation continues to escalate.

#11 China appears to be very serious about deleveraging.  The deflationary effects of this are going to be felt all over the planet. The following is an excerpt from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s recent article entitled “World asleep as China tightens deflationary vice“…

China’s Xi Jinping has cast the die. After weighing up the unappetising choice before him for a year, he has picked the lesser of two poisons.

The balance of evidence is that most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong aims to prick China’s $24 trillion credit bubble early in his 10-year term, rather than putting off the day of reckoning for yet another cycle.

This may be well-advised for China, but the rest of the world seems remarkably nonchalant over the implications.

#12 There was a significant debt default by a coal company in China last Friday

A high-yield investment product backed by a loan to a debt-ridden coal company failed to repay investors when it matured last Friday, state media reported on Wednesday, in the latest sign of financial stress in China’s shadow bank sector.

#13 Japan’s Nikkei stock index has already fallen by 14 percent so far in 2014.  That is a massive decline in just a month and a half.

#14 Ukraine continues to fall apart financially

The worsening political and economic circumstances in Ukraine has prompted the Fitch Ratings agency to downgrade Ukrainian debt from B to a pre–default level CCC. This is lower than Greece, and Fitch warns of future financial instability.

#15 The unemployment rate in Australia has risen to the highest level in more than 10 years.

#16 The central bank of India is in a panic over the way that Federal Reserve tapering is effecting their financial system.

#17 The effects of Federal Reserve tapering are also being felt in Thailand

In the wake of the US Federal Reserve tapering, emerging economies with deteriorating macroeconomic figures or visible political instability are being punished by skittish markets. Thailand is drifting towards both these tendencies.

#18 One of Ghana’s most prominent economists says that the economy of Ghana will crash by June if something dramatic is not done.

#19 Yet another banker has mysteriously died during the prime years of his life.  That makes five “suspicious banker deaths” in just the past two weeks alone.

#20 The behavior of the U.S. stock market continues to parallel the behavior of the U.S. stock market in 1929.

Yes, things don’t look good right now, but it is important to keep in mind that this is just the beginning.

This is just the leading edge of the next great financial storm.

The next two years (2014 and 2015) are going to represent a major “turning point” for the global economy.  By the end of 2015, things are going to look far different than they do today.

None of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.  Global debt levels have grown by 30 percent since the last financial crisis, and the too big to fail banks in the United States are 37 percent larger than they were back then and their behavior has become even more reckless than before.

As a result, we are going to get to go through another “2008-style crisis”, but I believe that this next wave is going to be even worse than the previous one.

So hold on tight and get ready.  We are going to be in for quite a bumpy ride.

Lighting A Match - Photo by Sebastian Ritter

No Janet Yellen, The Economy Is NOT “Getting Better”

Janet YellenOn Tuesday, new Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen went before Congress and confidently declared that “the economic recovery gained greater traction in the second half of last year” and that “substantial progress has been made in restoring the economy to health”.  This resulted in glowing headlines throughout the mainstream media such as this one from USA Today: “Yellen: Economy is improving at moderate pace“.  Sadly, tens of millions of Americans are going to believe what the mainstream media is telling them.  But it isn’t the truth.  As you will see below, there are all sorts of signs that the economy is taking a turn for the worse.  And when the next great economic crisis does strike, most Americans will be completely and totally unprepared because they trusted our “leaders” when they told us that everything would be just fine.

It is amazing how deceived people can be.  Just consider the case of 56-year-old Brian Perry.  He is a former law clerk that has applied for nearly 1,500 jobs since 2008 without any success.  But he says that he is “optimistic” that he will get another job soon because he believes that the economy is recovering

By his own count, Brian Perry has applied for nearly 1,500 jobs since being let go as a law clerk in 2008. The 56-year old Perry lives in Rhode Island, where the 9.1 percent unemployment rate is 2.5 percentage points above the national average.

Perry remains optimistic that a job is forthcoming. He thinks a more robust economy would create better opportunities for the long-term unemployed like him.

Let us certainly hope that Perry does find a new job soon.  But if he does, it won’t be because we are experiencing an “economic recovery”.  Just consider the following facts…

-In January, we were told that the U.S. economy “created” 113,000 new jobs.  But that figure was arrived at only after adding a massive seasonal adjustment.  In reality, the U.S. economy actually lost 2.87 million jobs in January.  During the past decade, the only time the U.S. economy has lost more jobs in January was during 2009.  At that time, the U.S. economy was suffering through the peak of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

-Prominent retailers are closing hundreds of stores all over the United States.  Things have gotten so bad that some are calling this a “retail apocalypse“…

  • JC Penney, which lost $586 million in three months in 2013, is planning to close 33 stores in 19 states and lay off 2,000 people. JC Penney’s stock has lost 84 percent of its value since February 2012.
  • Sears has decided to shut down its flagship store in Downtown Chicago, and it has closed 300 stores in the United States since 2010. Stock analyst Brian Sozzi noted that Sear’s inventory levels have fallen by 23.7 percent since 2006. He also noted that Sears had $4.4 billion in cash and equivalents in 2005 but $609 million in cash and equivalents in 2012. Sozzi, who calls himself a guerrilla analyst, has a blog full of disturbing pictures of empty Sears stores.
  • Macy’s, one of the few retail success stories, is planning to close five stores and eliminate 2,500 jobs.
  • Radio Shack is preparing to close 500 stores, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • Best Buy recently closed 50 stores and eliminated 950 jobs at stores in Canada.
  • Target announced plans to eliminate 475 jobs and not fill 700 empty positions to reduce costs.
  • Aeropostale is planning to close 175 stores.
  • Blockbuster has closed down all of its stores.

-McDonald’s is reporting that sales at established U.S. locations were down 3.3 percent in January.

-In January, real disposable income in the U.S. experienced the largest year over year decline that we have seen since 1974.

-As I wrote about the other day, the number of “planned job cuts” in January was 12 percent higher than 12 months earlier, and it was actually 47 percent higher than in December.

-Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

-What is happening to the U.S. stock market right now very closely resembles what happened to the U.S. stock market just before the horrific stock market crash of 1929.  Just check out the chart in this article.

For dozens more statistics that show that the U.S. economy is not improving, please see this article and this article.

Meanwhile, things continue to unravel all around the rest of the globe as well.

In previous articles, I have detailed how the reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve has inflated massive financial bubbles in emerging markets all over the planet.  Now that the Fed is “tapering”, those bubbles are starting to burst and we are witnessing a tremendous amount of economic chaos.  Here are three more examples…

#1 Ghana:

Ghanaian Economist Dr. Theo Richardson says Ghana’s economy will crash by June this year if the Bank of Ghana continues with its kneejerk measures to rescue the cedi.

“The government is facing liquidity problems and if we don’t get the appropriate remedies to address the issues at hand the situation may worsen and by June the economy may crash,” Dr. Richardson said.

#2 Kazakhstan:

With only $24.5 billion left in FX reserves after valiantly defending major capital outflows since the Fed’s Taper announcement, the Kazakhstan central bank has devalued the currency (Tenge) by 19% – its largest adjustment since 2009. At 185 KZT to the USD, this is the weakest the currency has ever been as the central bank cites weakness in the Russian Ruble and “speculation” against its currency as drivers of the outflows (which will be “exhausted” by this devaluation according to the bank). The new level will improve the country’s competitiveness (they are potassium heavy) but one wonders whether, unless Yellen folds whether it will help the outflows at all.

#3 India:

In the wake of a global stock market sell-off driven by worries over slower growth in emerging markets, the head of India’s central bank, Raghuram Rajan, criticized the U.S. Federal Reserve as it pressed on with plans to dial back its monthly bond purchases: “International monetary co-operation has broken down,” said Rajan, who added that “the U.S. should worry about the effects of its polices on the rest of the world.”

We have reached a “turning point” for the global financial system.  Things are beginning to fall apart both in the United States and all around the world.

But at least the dogs at the White House are eating well.  Just consider the following photo that was recently tweeted by Michelle Obama

Dogs In The White House

Those That Are Not Preparing For The Coming Economic Depression Are Going To Bitterly Regret It

RegretThe next great economic crisis is rapidly approaching, and most people are going to be totally blindsided by it.  Even though the warning signs are glaringly obvious, most Americans continue to believe that our “leaders” know what they are doing and that everything will be just fine.  But what will happen when the next great financial crash happens and trillions of dollars of “paper wealth” disappear into thin air?  What will happen when the coming credit crunch causes economic activity to dramatically slow down and millions upon millions of people lose their jobs?  This shouldn’t sound far-fetched to you.  Remember, this is exactly the kind of thing that we saw back in 2008, and the next great financial crisis is likely going to be significantly worse.  Our economy is in far worse shape than it was back in 2008, and government dependence is now at an all-time high even though most Americans are still enjoying debt-fueled false prosperity.  We are living in the largest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and when it bursts we are going to experience a crippling “adjustment” to our standard of loving.  Some people understand this and are busy preparing for what is ahead.  It has been estimated that there are approximately 3 million “preppers” in the United States, and that number is growing all the time.  Unfortunately, most Americans are not preparing for the coming economic depression and they are going to bitterly regret it.

So what does preparing for the coming economic depression look like?

Well, it doesn’t have to be complicated.  Most of the things that you should do are just common sense.

But there are some people that take things to extremes.  For example, a new National Geographic series is featuring a family that is actually constructing a “Doomsday Castle“.  The former U.S. Army officer that is building this unusual home is trying to prepare for virtually every type of disaster that he can imagine

Meet Brent Sr., the leader of the six-person family. Brent is a former Army Infantry Training Officer who is heading up the project to build an “EMP (electromagnetic pulse)-proof medieval castle in the woods of the Carolinas.”

According to National Geographic, Brent is teaching five of his 10 children survival skills.

The unfinished, fortified castle that Brent Sr. is building — an idea he got during the Y2K prep craze — will be able to sustain an EMP-event that could wipe out a power grid, but will also survive natural disasters like hurricanes.

He even plans to train his family members to use crossbows and a catapult to defend against potential home invaders.

Not many people out there are going to take “prepping” to such extremes.

But even if you don’t plan to build a “Doomsday Castle”, that doesn’t mean that you should be doing nothing.

Sadly, most Americans are quite ill-prepared for a major economic downturn at this point.  In fact, most Americans seem to be doing almost nothing to prepare.

Just consider the following statistics.  Most of these numbers come from one of my previous articles

-According to a survey that was recently released, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

-46 percent of all Americans have less than $800 in savings.

-27 percent of all Americans do not have even a single penny saved up.

-Less than one out of every four Americans has enough money stored away to cover six months of expenses.

-Each year, 12 million Americans take out high interest payday loans.

-In 1989, the debt to income ratio of the average American family was about 58 percent.  Today it is up to 154 percent.

-It is estimated that less than 10 percent of the U.S. population owns any gold or silver for investment purposes.

-44 percent of all Americans do not have first-aid kits in their homes.

-48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies stored up.

-53 percent of all Americans do not have a 3 day supply of nonperishable food and water in their homes.

-One survey asked Americans how long they thought they would survive if the electrical grid went down for an extended period of time.  Incredibly, 21 percent said that they would survive for less than a week, an additional 28 percent said that they would survive for less than two weeks, and nearly 75 percent said that they would be dead before the two month mark.

Those numbers are absolutely appalling.

When the system fails, most people are going to be completely blindsided by it and millions upon millions of people are going to absolutely freak out.

Don’t let that happen to you.

So what are some basic things that you can do to get prepared for the great economic storm that is coming?

The following are a few of the things that Nicole Foss suggests…

1) Hold no debt (for most people this means renting)

2) Hold cash and cash equivalents (short term treasuries) under your own control

3) Don’t trust the banking system, deposit insurance or no deposit insurance

4) Sell equities, real estate, most bonds, commodities, collectibles (or short if you can afford to gamble)

5) Gain some control over the necessities of your own existence if you can afford it

6) Be prepared to work with others as that will give you far greater scope for resilience and security

7) If you have done all that and still have spare resources, consider precious metals as an insurance policy

8) Be worth more to your employer than he is paying you

9) Look after your health!

I think all of those are great pieces of advice.

In addition, below I have posted some of the things that I personally recommend.  The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles entitled “25 Things That You Should Do To Get Prepared For The Coming Economic Collapse“…

#1 An Emergency Fund

Do you remember what happened when the financial system almost collapsed back in 2008?  Millions of Americans suddenly lost their jobs, and because many of them were living paycheck to paycheck, many of them also got behind on their mortgages and lost their homes.  You don’t want to lose everything that you have worked for during this next major economic downturn.  It is imperative that you have an emergency fund.  It should be enough to cover all of your expenses for at least six months, but I would encourage you to have an emergency fund that is even larger than that.

#2 Don’t Put All Of Your Eggs Into One Basket

If the wealth confiscation in Cyprus has taught us anything, it is that we should not put all of our eggs in one basket.  If all of your money is in one single bank account, it would be easy to wipe out.  But if you have your money scattered around a number of different places it will give you a little bit more security.

#3 Keep Some Cash At Home

This goes along with the previous point.  While it is not wise to keep all of your money at home, you do want to keep some cash on hand.  If there is an extended bank holiday or if a giant burst from the sun causes the ATM machines to go down, you want to be able to have enough cash to buy the things that your family needs.  Just ask the people of Cyprus how crippling a bank holiday can be.  One way to keep your cash secure at home is by storing it in a concealed safe.

#4 Get Out Of Debt

A lot of people seem to assume that an economic collapse would wipe out all debts, but that will probably not be the case.  In fact, if you are in a tremendous amount of debt you will be very vulnerable if the economy collapses and you are not able to find a job.  Just ask the people who were overextended and lost their jobs during the last recession.  So please get out of debt.  Many debt collectors are becoming increasingly ruthless.  In many areas of the country they are now routinely putting debtors into prison.  You do not want to be a slave to debt when the next wave of the economic collapse strikes.

#5 Gold And Silver

In the long-term, the U.S. dollar is going to lose a tremendous amount of value and inflation is going to absolutely skyrocket.  That is one reason why so many people are investing very heavily in gold, silver and other precious metals.  All over the globe, the central banks of the world are recklessly printing money.  Everyone knows that this is going to end very badly.  In fact, there is already a push in more than a dozen U.S. states to allow gold and silver coins to be used as legal tender.  Someday you will be glad that you invested in gold and silver now while their prices were still low.

#6 Reduce Your Expenses

A lot of people claim that they can’t put any money toward prepping, but the truth is that we all have room to reduce our expenses.  We all spend money on things that we do not really need.  Those that are “lean and mean” will tend to do much better during the times that are coming.

#7 Start A Side Business

If you do not have much money, a great way to increase your income is by starting a side business.  And it does not take a lot of money – there are many side businesses that you can start for next to nothing.  And starting a side business will allow you to become less dependent on your job.  In this economic environment, a job could disappear at literally any time.

#8 Move Away From The Big Cities If Possible

For many people, this is simply not possible.  Many Americans are still completely and totally dependent on their jobs.  But if you are able, now is a good time to move away from the big cities.  When the next major economic downturn strikes, there will be rioting and a dramatic rise in crime in the major cities.  If you are able to move to a more rural area you will probably be in much better shape.

#9 Store Food

Global food reserves have reached their lowest level in nearly 40 years.  As the economy gets even worse and global weather patterns become even more unstable, the price of food will go much higher and global food supplies will become much tighter.  In the long run, you will be glad for the money that you put into long-term food storage now.

#10 Learn To Grow Your Own Food

This is a skill that most Americans possessed in the past, but that most Americans today have forgotten.  Growing your own food is a way to become more independent of the system, and it is a way to get prepared for what is ahead.

#11 Nobody Can Survive Without Water

Without water, you would not even make it a few days in an emergency situation.  It is imperative that you have a plan to provide clean drinking water for your family when disaster strikes.

#12 Have A Plan For When The Grid Goes Down

What would you do if the grid went down and you suddenly did not have power for an extended period of time?  Anyone that has spent more than a few hours without power knows how frustrating this can be.  You need to have a plan for how you are going to provide power to your home that is independent of the power company.

#13 Have Blankets And Warm Clothing On Hand

This is more for emergency situations or for a complete meltdown of society.  During any major crisis, blankets and warm clothing are in great demand.  They also could potentially make great barter items.

#14 Store Personal Hygiene Supplies

A lot of preppers store up huge amounts of food, but they forget all about personal hygiene supplies.  During a long crisis, these are items that you would greatly miss if you do not have them stored up.  These types of supplies would also be great for barter.

#15 Store Medicine And Medical Supplies

You will also want to store up medical supplies and any medicine that you may need.  In an emergency situation, you definitely would not want to be without bandages and a first-aid kit.  Over the course of a long crisis, you do not want to run out of any medicines that are critical for your health.

#16 Stock Up On Vitamins

A lot of preppers do not think about this either, but it is very important.  These days, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get adequate nutrition from the foods that we eat.  That is why it is very important to have an adequate store of vitamins and other supplements.

#17 Make A List Of Other Supplies That You Will Need

During any crisis, there will be a lot of other things that you will need in addition to food and water.  The following are just a few basic things that it would be wise to have on hand…

– an axe

– a can opener

– flashlights

– battery-powered radio

– extra batteries

– lighters or matches

– fire extinguisher

– sewing kit

– tools

This list could be much, much longer, but hopefully this will get you started.

#18 Don’t Forget The Special Needs Of Your Babies And Your Pets

Young children and pets have special needs.  As you store supplies, don’t forget about the things that they will need as well.

#19 Entertainment

This may sound trivial, but the truth is that our entertainment-addicted society would become very bored and very frustrated if the grid suddenly went down for an extended period of time.  Card games and other basic forms of entertainment can make enduring a crisis much easier.

#20 Self-Defense

In the years ahead, being able to defend your home and your family is going to become increasingly important.  When the economy crashes, people are going to start to become very desperate.  And desperate people do desperate things.

#21 Get Your Ammunition While You Still Can

Your firearms will not do you much good if you do not have ammunition for them.  Already there are widespread reports of huge ammunition shortages.  The following is from a recent CNS News article

“The run on ammunition has manufacturers scrambling to accommodate demand and reassure customers, as many new and seasoned gun owners stock up over fears of new firearms regulations at both the state and federal levels.”

Don’t just assume that you will always be able to purchase large amounts of ammunition whenever you want.  Get it now while you still can.

#22 If You Have To Go…

Have a plan for what you and your family will do if you are forced to leave your home.  If you do have to go, the following are some items that you will want to have on hand…

– a map of the area

– a compass

– backpacks for every member of the family

– sleeping bags

– warm clothing

– comfortable shoes or hiking boots

#23 Community

One of the most important assets in any crisis situation is community.  If you have friends or neighbors that you can depend upon, that is invaluable.  The time spent building those bonds now will pay off greatly during a major crisis.

#24 Have A Back-Up Plan And Be Flexible

Mike Tyson once said the following…

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

No plan ever unfolds perfectly.  When your plan is disrupted, what will you do?

It will be imperative for all of us to have a back-up plan and to be flexible during the years ahead.

#25 Keep Your Prepping To Yourself

Do not go around and tell everyone in the area where you live about your prepping.  If you do, then you may find yourself overwhelmed with “visitors” when everything falls apart.

And please do not go on television and brag about your prepping to a national audience.

Prepping is something that you want to keep to yourself, unless you want hordes of desperate people banging on your door in the future.

*****

For much more on prepping, I would encourage you to check out the dozens of excellent websites out there that teach people advanced prepping techniques for free.

So what do you think about all of this?

Are you getting prepared for the coming economic depression?

Please feel free to share your perspective on prepping by posting a comment below…

36 Hard Questions About The U.S. Economy That The Mainstream Media Should Be Asking

Thinking QuestionsIf the economy is improving, then why aren’t things getting better for most average Americans?  They tell us that the unemployment rate is going down, but the percentage of Americans that are actually working is exactly the same it was three years ago.  They tell us that American families are in better financial shape now, but real disposable income is falling rapidly.  They tell us that inflation is low, but every time we go shopping at the grocery store the prices just seem to keep going up.  They tell us that the economic crisis is over, and yet poverty and government dependence continue to explode to unprecedented heights.  There seems to be a disconnect between what the government and the media are telling us and what is actually true.  With each passing day the debt of the federal government grows larger, the financial world become even more unstable and more American families fall out of the middle class.  The same long-term economic trends that have been eating away at our economy like cancer for decades continue to ruthlessly attack the foundations of our economic system.  We are rapidly speeding toward an economic cataclysm, and yet the government and most of the media make it sound like happy days are here again.  The American people deserve better than this.  The American people deserve the truth.  The following are 36 hard questions about the U.S. economy that the mainstream media should be asking…

#1 If the percentage of working age Americans that have a job is exactly the same as it was three years ago, then why is the government telling us that the “unemployment rate” has gone down significantly during that time?

#2 Why are some U.S. companies allowed to exploit disabled workers by paying them as little as 22 cents an hour?

#3 Why are some private prisons allowed to pay their prisoners just a dollar a day to do jobs that other Americans could be doing?

#4 Why is real disposable income in the United States falling at the fastest rate that we have seen since 2008?

#5 Why do 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year?

#6 Why are wages as a percentage of GDP at an all-time low?

#7 Why are 76 percent of all Americans living paycheck to paycheck?

#8 Why are so many large corporations issuing negative earnings guidance for this quarter?  Does this indicate that the economy is about to experience a significant downturn?

#9 Why is job growth at small businesses at about half the level it was at when the year started?

#10 Why are central banks selling off record amounts of U.S. debt right now?

#11 Why did U.S. mortgage bonds just suffer their biggest quarterly decline in nearly 20 years?

#12 Why did we just witness the largest weekly increase in mortgage rates in 26 years?

#13 Why has the number of mortgage applications fallen by 29 percent over the last eight weeks?

#14 Why has the number of mortgage applications fallen to the lowest level in 19 months?

#15 If the U.S. economy is recovering, why is the mortgage delinquency rate in the United States still nearly 10 percent?

#16 Why did the student loan delinquency rate in the United States just hit a brand new all-time high?

#17 Why is the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of municipal bonds being postponed?

#18 What are the central banks of the world going to do when the 441 trillion dollar interest rate derivatives bubble starts to burst?

#19 Why is Barack Obama secretly negotiating a new international free trade agreement that will impose very strict Internet copyright rules on all of us, ban all “Buy American” laws, give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and force even more domestic manufacturing offshore?

#20 Why don’t our politicians seem to care that the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975?

#21 Why doesn’t the mainstream media talk about how rapidly the U.S. economy is declining relative to the rest of the planet?  According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.

#22 Why is the percentage of self-employed Americans at a record low?

#23 What are we going to do if dust bowl conditions continue to return to the western half of the United States?  If the drought continues to get even worse, what will that do to our agriculture?

#24 Why is the IRS spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on kazoos, stove top hats, bathtub toy boats and plush animals?

#25 Why did the NIH spend $253,800 “to study ways to educate Boston’s male prostitutes on safe-sex practices”?

#26 Why do some of the largest charities in America spend less than 5 percent of the money that they bring in on actual charitable work?

#27 Now that EU finance ministers have approved a plan that will allow Cyprus-style wealth confiscation as part of all future bank bailouts in Europe, is it only a matter of time before we see something similar in the United States?

#28 Why does approximately one out of every three children in the United States live in a home without a father?

#29 Why are more than a million public school students in the United States homeless?

#30 Why are so many cities all over the United States passing laws that make it illegal to feed the homeless?

#31 Why is government dependence in the U.S. at an all-time high if the economy is getting better?  Back in 1960, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 10 percent.  In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent.  Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.

#32 Why does the number of Americans on food stamps exceed the entire population of the nation of Spain?

#33 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 32 million to 47 million while Barack Obama has been occupying the White House.  So why is Obama paying recruiters to go out and get even more Americans to join the program?

#34 Today, there are 56 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.  In 2035, there will be 91 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.  Where in the world will we get the money for that?

#35 Why has the value of the U.S. dollar fallen by over 95 percent since the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913?

#36 Why has the size of the U.S. national debt gotten more than 5000 times larger since the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913?

Not Prepared: 17 Signs That Most Americans Will Be Wiped Out By The Coming Economic Collapse

Tornado Damage - Photo by JOE M500The vast majority of Americans are going to be absolutely blindsided by what is coming.  They don’t understand how our financial system works, they don’t understand how vulnerable it is, and most of them blindly trust that our leaders know exactly what they are doing and that they will be able to fix our problems.  As a result, most Americans are simply not prepared for the massive storm that is heading our way.  Most American families are living paycheck to paycheck, most of them are not storing up emergency food and supplies, and only a very small percentage of them are buying gold and silver for investment purposes.   They seem to have forgotten what happened back in 2008.  When the financial markets crashed, millions of Americans lost their jobs.  Because most of them were living on the financial edge, millions of them also lost their homes.  Unfortunately, most Americans seem convinced that it will not happen again.  Right now we seem to be living in a “hope bubble” and people have become very complacent.  For a while there, being a “prepper” was very trendy, but now concern about a coming economic crisis seems to have subsided.  What a tragic mistake.  As I pointed out yesterday, our entire financial system is a giant Ponzi scheme, and there are already signs that our financial markets are about to implode once again.  Those that have not made any preparations for what is coming are going to regret it bitterly.  The following are 17 signs that most Americans will be wiped out by the coming economic collapse…

#1 According to a survey that was just released, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  But most Americans are acting as if their jobs will always be there.  But the truth is that mass layoffs can occur at any time.  In fact, it just happened at one of the largest law firms in New York City.

#2 27 percent of all Americans do not have even a single penny saved up.

#3 46 percent of all Americans have $800 or less saved up.

#4 Less than one out of every four Americans has enough money stored away to cover six months of expenses.

#5 Wages continue to fall even as the cost of living continues to go up.  Today, the average income for the bottom 90 percent of all income earners in America is just $31,244.  An increasing percentage of American families are just trying to find a way to survive from month to month.

#6 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

#7 Small business is becoming an endangered species in America.  In fact, only about 7 percent of all non-farm workers in the United States are self-employed at this point.  That means that the vast majority of Americans are depending on someone else to provide them with an income.  But what is going to happen as those jobs disappear?

#8 In 1989, the debt to income ratio of the average American family was about 58 percent.  Today it is up to 154 percent.

#9 Today, a higher percentage of Americans are dependent on the government than ever before.  In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that gets direct monetary benefits from the federal government.  So what is going to happen when the government handout gravy train comes to an end?

#10 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

#11 It is estimated that less than 10 percent of the U.S. population owns any gold or silver for investment purposes.

#12 It has been estimated that there are approximately 3 million “preppers” in the United States.  But that means that almost everyone else is not prepping.

#13 44 percent of all Americans do not have first-aid kits in their homes.

#14 48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies stored up.

#15 53 percent of all Americans do not have a 3 day supply of nonperishable food and water in their homes.

#16 One survey asked Americans how long they thought they would survive if the electrical grid went down for an extended period of time.  Incredibly, 21 percent said that they would survive for less than a week, an additional 28 percent said that they would survive for less than two weeks, and nearly 75 percent said that they would be dead before the two month mark.

#17 According to a survey conducted by the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation, 55 percent of Americans believe that the government will come to their rescue when disaster strikes.

Just because you are living a comfortable middle class lifestyle today does not mean that it will always be that way.

If you doubt this, take a look at what is going on in Greece.  Many formerly middle class parents in Greece have become so impoverished that they are actually dumping their children at orphanages so that they won’t starve…

Scores of children have been put in orphanages and care homes for economic reasons; one charity said 80 of the 100 children in its residential centres were there because their families can no longer provide for them.

Ten percent of Greek children are said to be at risk of hunger. Teachers talk of cancelling PE lessons because children are underfed and of seeing pupils pick through bins for food.

If the U.S. economy crashes and you lose your job, how will you and your family survive?

Will you and your family end up homeless and totally dependent on the government for your survival?

Get prepared while there is still time.  If you do not know how to get prepared, my article entitled “25 Things That You Should Do To Get Prepared For The Coming Economic Collapse” has some basic tips, and there are dozens of excellent websites out there that teach people advanced prepping techniques for free.

So there is no excuse.  You can trust that Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama have everything under control, but as for me and my family we are going to prepare for the giant economic storm that is coming.

I hope that you will be getting prepared too.

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