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Serious Financial Trouble Is Erupting In Germany And Japan

Stock Market Collapse - Public DomainThere are some who believe that the next great financial crash will not begin in the United States.  Instead, they are convinced that a financial crisis that begins in Europe or in Japan (or both) will end up spreading across the globe and take down the U.S. too.  Time will tell if they are ultimately correct, but even now there are signs that financial trouble is already starting to erupt in both Germany and Japan.  German stocks have declined 10 percent since July, and that puts them in “correction” territory.  In Japan, the economy is a total mess right now.  According to figures that were just released, Japanese GDP contracted at a 7.1 percent annualized rate during the second quarter and private consumption contracted at a 19 percent annualized rate.  Could a financial collapse in either of those nations be the catalyst that sets off financial dominoes all over the planet?

This week, the worst German industrial production figure since 2009 rattled global financial markets.  Germany is supposed to be the economic “rock” of Europe, but at this point that “rock” is starting to show cracks.

And certainly the civil war in Ukraine and the growing Ebola crisis are not helping things either.  German investors are becoming increasingly jittery, and as I mentioned above the German stock market has already declined 10 percent since July

German stocks, weighed down by the economic fallout spawned by the Ukraine-Russia crisis and the eurzone’s weak economy, are now down more than 10% from their July peak and officially in correction territory.

The DAX, Germany’s benchmark stock index, has succumbed to recent data points that show the German economy has ground to a halt, hurt in large part by the economic sanctions levied at its major trading partner, Russia, by the U.S. and European Union as a way to get Moscow to butt out of Ukraine’s affairs. The economic slowdown in the rest of the debt-hobbled eurozone has also hurt the German economy, considered the economic locomotive of Europe.

In trading today, the DAX fell as low as 8960.43, which put it down 10.7% from its July 3 closing high of 10,029.43 and off nearly 11% from its June 20 intraday peak of 10,050.98.

And when you look at some of the biggest corporate names in Germany, things look even more dramatic.

Just check out some of these numbers

The hardest hit sectors have been retailers, industrials and leisure stocks with sports clothing giant Adidas down 37.7pc for the year, airline Lufthansa down 27pc, car group Volkswagen sliding 23.6pc and Deutchse Bank falling 20.2pc so far this year.

Meanwhile, things in Japan appear to be going from bad to worse.

The government of Japan is more than a quadrillion yen in debt, and it has been furiously printing money and debasing the yen in a desperate attempt to get the Japanese economy going again.

Unfortunately for them, it is simply not working.  The revised economic numbers for the second quarter were absolutely disastrous.  The following comes from a Japanese news source

On an annualized basis, the GDP contraction was 7.1 percent, compared with 6.8 percent in the preliminary estimate. That makes it the worst performance since early 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis.

The blow from the first stage of the sales tax hike in April extended into this quarter, with retail sales and household spending falling in July. The administration signaled last week that it is prepared to boost stimulus to help weather a second stage of the levy scheduled for October 2015.

Corporate capital investment dropped 5.1 percent from the previous quarter, more than double the initial estimate of 2.5 percent.

Private consumption was meanwhile revised to a 5.1 percent drop from the initial reading of 5 percent, meaning it sank 19 percent on an annualized basis from the previous quarter, rather than the initial estimate of 18.7 percent, Monday’s report said.

For the moment, things are looking pretty good in the United States.

But as I have written about so many times, our financial markets are perfectly primed for a fall.

Other experts see things the same way.  Just consider what John Hussman wrote recently…

As I did in 2000 and 2007, I feel obligated to state an expectation that only seems like a bizarre assertion because the financial memory is just as short as the popular understanding of valuation is superficial: I view the stock market as likely to lose more than half of its value from its recent high to its ultimate low in this market cycle.

At present, however, market conditions couple valuations that are more than double pre-bubble norms (on historically reliable measures) with clear deterioration in market internals and our measures of trend uniformity. None of these factors provide support for the market here. In my view, speculators are dancing without a floor.

And it isn’t just stocks that could potentially be on the verge of a massive decline.  The bond market is also experiencing an unprecedented bubble right now.  And when that bubble bursts, the carnage will be unbelievable.  This has become so obvious that even CNBC is talking about it…

Picture this: The bond market gets spooked by a sudden interest rate scare, sending a throng of buyers streaming toward the exits, only to find a dearth of buyers on the other side.

As a result, liquidity evaporates, yields soar, and the U.S. finds itself smack in the middle of another debt crisis no one saw coming.

It’s a scenario that TABB Group fixed income head Anthony J. Perrotta believes is not all that far-fetched, considering the market had what could be considered a sneak preview in May 2013. That was the “taper tantrum,” which saw yields spike and stocks sell off after then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made remarks that the market construed as indicating rates would rise sooner than expected.

If the strength of our financial markets reflected overall strength in the U.S. economy there would not be nearly as much cause for concern.

But at this point our financial markets have become completely and totally divorced from economic reality.

The truth is that our economic fundamentals continue to decay.  In fact, the IMF says that China now has the largest economy on the planet on a purchasing power basis.  The era of American economic dominance is ending.  It is just that the financial markets have not gotten the memo yet.

Hopefully we still have at least a few more months before stock markets all over the world start crashing.  But remember, we are entering the seventh year of the seven year cycle of economic crashes that so many people are talking about these days.  And we are definitely primed for a global financial collapse.

Sadly, most people did not see the crash of 2008 coming, and most people will not see the next one coming either.

18 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Accelerating As We Enter The Last Half Of 2014

Accelerating - Public DomainA lot of people that I talk to these days want to know “when things are going to start happening”.  Well, there are certainly some perilous times on the horizon, but all you have to do is open up your eyes and look to see the global economic crisis unfolding.  As you will see below, even central bankers are issuing frightening warnings about “dangerous new asset bubbles” and even the World Bank is declaring that “now is the time to prepare” for the next crisis.  Most Americans tend to only care about what is happening in the United States, but the truth is that serious economic trouble is erupting in South America, all across Europe and in Asian powerhouses such as China and Japan.  And the endless conflicts in the Middle East could erupt into a major regional war at just about any time.  We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable, and people need to understand that the period of relative stability that we are enjoying right now is extremely vulnerable and will not last long.  The following are 18 signs that the global economic crisis is accelerating as we enter the last half of 2014…

#1 The Bank for International Settlements has issued a new report which warns that “dangerous new asset bubbles” are forming which could potentially lead to another major financial crisis.  Do the central bankers know something that we don’t, or are they just trying to place the blame on someone else for the giant mess that they have created?

#2 Argentina has missed a $539 million debt payment and is on the verge of its second major debt default in 13 years.

#3 Bulgaria is desperately trying to calm down a massive run on the banks that threatens of spiral out of control.

#4 Last month, household loans in the eurozone declined at the fastest rate ever recorded.  Why are European banks holding on to their money so tightly right now?

#5 The number of unemployed jobseekers in France has just soared to another brand new record high.

#6 Economies all over Europe are either showing no growth or are shrinking.  Just check out what a recent Forbes article had to say about the matter…

Italy’s economy shrank by 0.1% in the first three months of 2014, matching the average of the three previous quarters. After expanding 0.6% in Q2 2013, France recorded zero growth. Portugal shrank 0.7%, following positive numbers in the preceding nine months. While figures weren’t available for Greece and Ireland in Q1, neither country is showing progress. Greek GDP dropped 2.5% in the final three months of last year, and Ireland limped ahead at 0.2%.

#7 A few days ago it was reported that consumer prices in Japan are rising at the fastest pace in 32 years.

#8 Household expenditures in Japan are down 8 percent compared to one year ago.

#9 U.S. companies are drowning in massive amounts of debt, but the corporate debt bubble in China is so bad that the amount of corporate debt in China has actually now surpassed the amount of corporate debt in the United States.

#10 One Chinese auditor is warning that up to 80 billion dollars worth of loans in China are backed by falsified gold transactions.  What will that do to the price of gold and the stability of Chinese financial markets as that mess unwinds?

#11 The unemployment rate in Greece is currently sitting at 26.7 percent and the youth unemployment rate is 56.8 percent.

#12 67.5 percent of the people that are unemployed in Greece have been unemployed for over a year.

#13 The unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole is 11.8 percent – just a little bit shy of the all-time record of 12.0 percent.

#14 The European Central Bank is so desperate to get money moving through the system that it has actually introduced negative interest rates.

#15 The IMF is projecting that there is a 25 percent chance that the eurozone will slip into deflation by the end of next year.

#16 The World Bank is warning that “now is the time to prepare” for the next crisis.

#17 The economic conflict between the United States and Russia continues to deepen.  This has caused Russia to make a series of moves away from the U.S. dollar and toward other major currencies.  This will have serious ramifications for the global financial system as time rolls along.

#18 Of course the U.S. economy is struggling right now as well.  It shrank at a 2.9 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2014, which was much worse than anyone had anticipated.

But if U.S. economic numbers look a bit better for the second quarter, that doesn’t mean that we are out of the woods.

As I have stressed so many times, the long-term trends and the long-term balance sheet numbers are far, far more important than the short-term economic numbers.

For example, if you went to the mall today and spent a thousand dollars on candy and video games, your short-term “economic activity” would spike dramatically.  But your long-term financial health would take a significant turn for the worse.

Well, when we are talking about the health of the U.S. economy or the entire global financial system we need to keep the same kinds of considerations in mind.

As for the United States, whether the level of our debt-fueled short-term economic activity goes up a little bit or down a little bit is not what is truly important.

Rather, the fact that we are nearly 60 trillion dollars in debt as a society is what really matters.

The same thing applies for the globe as a whole.  Right now, the citizens of the planet are more than 223 trillion dollars in debt, and “too big to fail” banks around the world have at least 700 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.

So it doesn’t really matter too much whether the short-term economic numbers go up a little bit or down a little bit right now.  The whole system is an inherently flawed Ponzi scheme that will inevitably collapse under its own weight.

Let us hope that this period of relative stability lasts for a while longer.  It is a good thing to have time to prepare.  But you would have to be absolutely insane to think that the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world is never going to burst.

 

14 Signs That The World Economy Is Getting Weaker

The United States is not the only one with massive economic problems right now.  The truth is that just about wherever you look around the globe things are getting even worse.  China is experiencing a substantial economic slowdown, and Japan has resorted to yet another round of money printing in an effort to keep the Japanese economy moving.  Unemployment in Europe continues to get even worse, and the riots this week in Spain and in Greece have been absolutely frightening at times.  In the United States there are a whole host of signs that another recession is approaching, and the number of American CEOs that say that they plan to eliminate jobs in the coming months is rapidly rising.  The world economy is more interconnected today than ever before, and that means that we are all in this together.  Just remember what happened back in 2008 and 2009.  The economic pain that started on Wall Street was felt in every corner of the planet.  So anyone that believes that the United States (or any other major nation for that matter) is going to escape the next wave of the economic crisis is simply not being realistic.  Why do you think central banks all over the world are in “panic mode” right now?  They are firing all of their ammunition and printing money like there is no tomorrow in an attempt to keep the system together.  Unfortunately, it is not going to work.

If the powers that be had an “easy button” that would quickly fix everything, they would have pressed it by now.  But despite all of their efforts things continue to unravel.  If you want to get an idea of where we are headed,  just look at what is already happening in Europe.   Unemployment has risen above 24 percent in Greece and above 25 percent in Spain.

Those two nations are on the “bleeding edge” of the next wave of economic problems.  Unemployment is rising almost everywhere else in Europe as well, and things are eventually going to get really bad in Asia and in North America too.

So hold on to your seat belts – it is going to be a bumpy ride.

The following are 14 signs from around the globe that the world economy is getting weaker….

#1 Things in China do not look good right now.  The Shanghai Composite index fell to its lowest point in over 3 years earlier this week.  Will the S&P 500 soon follow suit?

#2 The Bank of Japan has resorted to yet another round of money printing in a desperate attempt to try to bolster the faltering Japanese economy….

In Asia, the Bank of Japan has long been manufacturing money out of thin air. It has just announced an eighth round of money printing to prop up the ailing Japanese economy. The Bank of Japan is to purchase 10 trillion yen of bonds to add further liquidity into the financial system. Now it has 80 trillion yen of bonds in its portfolio, equivalent to 20 per cent of Japan’s gross domestic product.

#3 In Spain, violent demonstrations over the state of the Spanish economy just outside the national Parliament building in Madrid on Tuesday evening made headlines all over the globe.  You can view video of police brutally beating young Spanish protesters during those demonstrations right here.

#4 As unemployment hovers around the 25 percent mark, foraging through garbage bins for food has become so rampant in Spain that one city has actually started putting locks on supermarket garbage bins “as a public health precaution“.

#5 Despite all of the money printing that the ECB has been doing, the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds has risen back up to about 6 percent again.

#6 The economic protests in Greece are getting completely and totally out of control.  Just check out this description of the “Day of Rage” that took place in Greece earlier this week….

Police fired stun grenades and tear gas at protesters yesterday as tens of thousands poured into the streets of Athens as part of a nationwide strike to challenge a new round of austerity measures that are expected to cut wages, pensions and healthcare once again.

Dozens of youths, some masking their faces with helmets and T-shirts, hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at police who fired back in an effort to scatter the angry crowds around the parliament building. More than 50,000 people are believed to have participated in the mass walk-out in Athens alone.

#7 The unemployment rate in France has risen for 16 months in a row and is now the highest that it has been in over a decade.

#8 As I wrote about recently, the number of unemployed workers in Italy has increased by more than 37 percent over the past year.

#9 New orders for durable goods in the United States fell by a whopping 13.2 percent in August.  That was the largest decline that we have seen since the middle of the last recession (January 2009).

#10 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. GDP only grew at a 1.3 percent annual rate during the second quarter of 2012 as opposed to the 1.7 percent annual rate previously reported.

#11 The U.S. Postal Service is about to experience its second financial default in just the past two months….

The U.S. Postal Service will default this week on a $5.6 billion congressionally mandated obligation to pre-fund retiree health benefits, marking the second time in two months the cash-strapped agency has done this.

#12 It looks like General Motors is on a path that will lead to bankruptcy (again).

#13 According to a recent survey conducted by State Street Global Advisors, 71 percent of “investors in a survey of 300 around the world, including the largest pension funds, asset managers and private banks, fear an imminent Lehman-like event.”

#14 According to a recent survey of American CEOs by Business Roundtable, the number of CEOs that plan to eliminate jobs has risen significantly from earlier this year….

The CEOs’ decline in confidence comes alongside a worsening employment outlook. Thirty-four percent of the 138 CEOs surveyed said in this quarter’s survey that they expected their companies to cut jobs in the next six months, compared to just 20 percent in the second quarter. Likewise, only 29 percent say they expect employment to grow in the next half year, down from 36 percent last quarter.

But the mainstream media in the United States would like us to believe that everything is getting better.

The mainstream media would like us to believe that QE3 is going to stimulate lots of new hiring all over America, and they are greatly celebrating the fact that the S&P 500 hit a five year high on Thursday.

Well, those on Wall Street should celebrate this monetary “sugar high” while they still can.  Of course QE3 was going to cause stock prices to rise in the short-term, but the reality of the matter is that QE3 is not going to do a thing to stop the financial markets from crashing when the time comes for them to crash.

Economies tend to flourish in a stable, predictable environment.  When you start recklessly printing money, it may help your economic numbers in the short-term, but it disrupts the stability of the system.

And once you have created a tremendous amount of instability, it is really, really hard to convince people that you can create stability once again.

When it comes to economics, confidence is one of the most important ingredients.  If people lose confidence in the system, it almost does not matter what else you do.

As I wrote about the other day, quantitative easing worked for the Weimar Republic for a little while, but in the end it resulted in total disaster.

It will also end in total disaster for us.

All over the globe financial authorities are playing all sorts of games in an attempt to keep the system functioning smoothly.  But these games are going to steadily undermine confidence in the system, and that is going to prove to be absolutely deadly.

Take advantage of this period of relative stability while you still can, because when it is gone it is not coming back.

Oh Crud! 19 Reasons Why It Is Time To Start Freaking Out About The Global Economy

Yes, it is officially time to start freaking out about the global economy.  The European financial system is falling apart and it is going to go down hard.  If Europe was going to be saved it would have happened by now.  The big money insiders have already pulled their funds from vulnerable positions and they are ready to ride the coming chaos out.   Over the next few months the slow motion train wreck currently unfolding in Europe will continue to play out and things will likely really start really heating up in the fall once summer vacations are over.  Most Americans greatly underestimate how much Europe can affect the global economy.  Europe actually has a larger population than the United States does.  Europe also has a significantly larger economy and a much larger banking system.  The world is more interconnected today than ever before, and a collapse of the financial system in Europe will cause a massive global recession.  Once the global economy slides into another major recession, it is going to take years to recover.  The pain is going to be immense.  Yes, that is going to include the United States.  Sadly, we never recovered from the last recession, and it is frightening to think about how much farther this next recession is going to knock us down.

The big problem is that there is simply way, way, way too much debt in the United States and Europe.  It has been a lot of fun spending all of this borrowed money, but now we get to pay the price.

The following are 19 reasons why it is time to start freaking out about the global economy….

#1 The yield on 10 year Italian bonds has now risen to more than 6 percent.

#2 The yield on 10 year Spanish bonds has now risen to more than 7 percent.  This is considered to be an unsustainable level.

#3 Citigroup Chief Economist Willem Buiter says that both Italy and Spain are going to need major bailouts.

#4 The Spanish banking crisis continues to get worse.  The following is from a CNN article that was posted on Monday….

But the depth of the nation’s crisis has raised doubts about whether €100 billion will be enough to recapitalize the banks. For example, the Bank of Spain, the nation’s central bank, released data Monday showing that “doubtful” loans — those that are more than 3 months overdue — rose to €152.7 billion in April, equal to 8.7% of all the loans held by the nation’s banks.

#5 Unemployment in Spain is sitting at a record high of over 24 percent with no hope in sight.

#6 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has hit a brand new all-time record high.

#7 The socialists won an outright majority in the recent parliamentary elections in France.  That means that France and Germany are now headed in completely different directions.  The close cooperation that we have seen between France and Germany in recent years is now over.

#8 New French President Francois Hollande has promised to implement a top tax rate of 75 percent on those making over 1 million euros a year.

#9 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared that Germany will not budge at all on the terms of the Greek bailout.

#10 Analysts at Citigroup Global Markets are projecting that the odds of Greece leaving the euro over the next 12 to 18 months are still between 50 and 75 percent.

#11 Money is being transferred from banks in southern Europe to banks in northern Europe at an astounding pace….

Financial advisers and private bankers whose clients have accounts too large to be covered by a Europe-wide guarantee on deposits up to 100,000 euros ($125,000), are reporting a “bank run by wire transfer” that has picked up during May.

Much of this money has headed north to banks in London, Frankfurt and Geneva, financial advisers say.

“It’s been an ongoing process but it certainly picked up pace a couple of weeks ago We believe there is a continuous 2-3 year bank run by wire transfer,” said Lorne Baring, managing director at B Capital, a Geneva-based pan European wealth management firm.

#12 As I wrote about recently, about 500 million euros a day has been pulled out of Greek banks so far this month.

#13 The Bank for International Settlements is warning that global lending is contracting at the fastest rate that we have seen since the end of the last financial crisis.

#14 Lloyd’s of London has publicly admitted that it is making preparations for a collapse of the eurozone.

#15 Government debt levels all over the industrialized world have exploded in recent years.  The following is from a recent article by Stephen Lendman….

Five years ago, OECD countries sovereign debt/GDP ratios were 70%. Today it’s 106% and rising.

Anything over 100% is considered to be an extremely dangerous level.

#16 The economic problems in Europe are already taking a toll on the U.S. economy.  At this point U.S. exports to Europe are way down.

#17 One recent poll found that 75 percent of Americans are either “very or somewhat worried” that the U.S. economy is heading for another recession.

#18 Under Barack Obama, the United States has been indulging in a debt binge unlike anything ever seen in U.S. history.  The following is from a recent Forbes article….

After just one year of the Obama spending binge, federal spending had already rocketed to 25.2% of GDP, the highest in American history except for World War II.  That compares to 20.8% in 2008, and an average of 19.6% during Bush’s two terms.  The average during President Clinton’s two terms was 19.8%, and during the 60-plus years from World War II until 2008 — 19.7%.  Obama’s own fiscal 2013 budget released in February projects the average during the entire 4 years of the Obama Administration to come in at 24.4% in just a few months.  That budget shows federal spending increasing from $2.983 trillion in 2008 to an all time record $3.796 trillion in 2012, an increase of 27.3%.

Moreover, before Obama there had never been a deficit anywhere near $1 trillion.  The highest previously was $458 billion, or less than half a trillion, in 2008. The federal deficit for the last budget adopted by a Republican controlled Congress was $161 billion for fiscal year 2007.  But the budget deficits for Obama’s four years were reported in Obama’s own 2013 budget as $1.413 trillion for 2009, $1.293 trillion for 2010, $1.3 trillion for 2011, and $1.327 trillion for 2012, four years in a row of deficits of $1.3 trillion or more, the highest in world history.

#19 Barack Obama almost seems more focused on his golf game than on the problems the global economy is having.  He just finished up playing his 100th round of golf since he became president.

If you are looking for some kind of a global financial miracle you can stop watching.

If European leaders had a master plan to save Europe they would have shown it by now.

If Barack Obama had a master plan to fix things he would have implemented it by now.

If the Federal Reserve had a master plan to fix things we would have seen it by now.

The entire house of cards is starting to come down and things are going to get really messy.

A lot of people both in the United States and in Europe are going to lose their jobs and their homes over the next few years.

It is likely that the next recession will be even more painful than the last one was.

Now is not the time to panic.  If you acknowledge what is coming and prepare accordingly then you will likely be in good shape.

But if you stick your head in the sand and pretend that everything is going to be okay then the next few years will likely be incredibly painful for you.

Forget The Election Results – Greece Is Still Doomed And So Is The Rest Of Europe

The election results from Greece are in and the pro-bailout forces have won, but just barely.  It is being projected that the pro-bailout New Democracy party will have about 130 seats in the 300 seat parliament, and Pasok (another pro-bailout party) will have about 33 seats.  Those two parties have alternated ruling Greece for decades, and it looks like they are going to form a coalition government which will keep Greece in the euro.  On Monday we are likely to see financial markets across the globe in celebration mode.  But the truth is that nothing has really changed.  Greece is still in a depression.  The Greek economy has contracted by close to 25 percent over the past four years, and now they are going to stay on the exact same path that they were before.  Austerity is going to continue to grind away at what remains of the Greek economy and money is going to continue to fly out of the country at a very rapid pace. Greece is still drowning in debt and completely dependent on outside aid to avoid bankruptcy.  Meanwhile, things in Spain and Italy are rapidly getting worse.  So where in that equation is room for optimism?

Right now the ingredients for a “perfect storm” are developing in Europe.  Government spending is being slashed all across the continent, ECB monetary policy is very tight, new regulations and deteriorating economic conditions are causing major banks to cut back on lending and there is panic in the air.

Unless something dramatic changes, things are going to continue to get worse.

Yes, the Greek election results mean that Greece will stay in the euro – at least for now.

But is that really a reason for Greeks to celebrate?

Right now, the unemployment rate in Greece is about 22 percent.  Businesses continue to shut down at a staggering rate and suicides are spiking.

So far this month, about 500 million euros a day has been pulled out of Greek banks.  The entire Greek banking system is on the verge of collapse.

Meanwhile, the Greek government is still running up more debt.  It is being projected that the Greek budget deficit will be about 7 percent of GDP this year.

The Greeks went to the polls and they voted for more of the same.

Are they crazy?

Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Unfortunately, it looks like things are going to continue to get worse in Greece for quite some time.

And the rest of Europe is heading into a very bleak economic future as well.

At the moment, unemployment in the eurozone is at a record high.

Most analysts expect it to go even higher.

To say that Spain has an unemployment problem would be a massive understatement.  The unemployment rate in Spain is even higher than the unemployment rate in Greece is.  In fact, unemployment in Spain is the highest that it has ever been since the introduction of the euro.

The Spanish banking system is a complete and total disaster at this point.  The Spanish government has already asked for a 100 billion euro bailout for its banks.

But that might not be nearly enough.

Spain is facing a housing collapse similar to what the United States went through back in 2008 and 2009.  Right now, home prices in Spain are absolutely collapsing….

Fresh data yesterday shows how desperate the crisis is becoming in Spain. The property crash is accelerating. House prices fell at a 12.6pc rate in the first quarter of this year, compared to 11.2pc the quarter before, and 7.4pc in the quarter before that. Prices have fallen 26pc from their peak.

“Fundamentals point to a further 25pc decline,” said Standard & Poor’s in a report on Thursday. It may take another four years to clear a glut of one million homes left from the building boom.

Meanwhile, money is being pulled out of banks in Spain at a very alarming rate.  As panic spreads we are seeing slow motion bank runs all over Europe.  Over the past few months massive amounts of money have been moved from troubled nations to “safe havens” such as Switzerland and Germany.

Investors are getting very nervous and yields on Italian and Spanish debt are spiking again.

Last week yields on Spanish debt hit their highest levels since the introduction of the euro.  Without massive ECB intervention the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds will almost certainly blow well past the 7 percent danger mark.

The credit rating agencies are indicating that there is danger ahead.  Moody’s recently downgraded Spanish debt to just one notch above junk status.  Spain is heading down the exact same road that Greece has gone.

The situation in Europe is very grim.

Greece is going to need bailouts for as far as the eye can see.

Spain is almost certainly going to need a huge bailout.

Italy is almost certainly going to need a huge bailout.

Ireland and Portugal look like they are going to need more money.

France is increasingly looking vulnerable, and Francois Hollande appears to have no real solutions up his sleeve.

As I have said so many times before, watch Europe.

Every few weeks there are headlines that declare that “Europe has been saved” but things just keep getting worse.

The governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, said the following a few weeks ago….

“Our biggest trading partner is tearing itself apart with no obvious solution.”

And that is the truth.  There is no obvious solution to the problems in Europe.  The politicians could kick the can down the road for a while longer, but in the end there will be no avoiding the pain that is coming.

The equation for what is happening in Europe that I have shared before still applies….

Brutal austerity + toxic levels of government debt + rising bond yields + a lack of confidence in the financial system + banks that are massively overleveraged + a massive credit crunch = A financial implosion of historic proportions

We are watching a slow-motion financial train wreck that is absolutely unprecedented happen right in front of our eyes and our politicians are powerless to stop it.

It is going to be a long, hot summer for the European financial system.

On election day in Greece, the mood was incredibly somber.  Instead of celebrating, most Greeks seemed resigned to a very hard future.  As an article in the Telegraph described, the entire nation seems to be grinding to a halt….

This is the election that is supposed to decide whether Greece stays in the euro. Yet as it, and Europe, face what could be their Katrina moment, the dominant sense here is not of panic, or fear, or even hope – but of a country in suspended animation, grinding to a halt.

The Athens Heart shopping centre, in the southern suburbs, is polished, full of big brands, and almost totally empty of customers. “We’ve had five sales all day,” says Steryiani Vlachakou, the assistant in the Champion sportswear store. “It’s been getting a lot, lot worse.”

Sadly, it is not only Greece that is doomed.

The truth is that all of Europe is doomed, and when Europe falls the entire globe is going to feel it.

So get ready for the hard times that are coming.  The pain is going to be immense and most people are not even going to see it coming.

18 Signs That The Banking Crisis In Europe Has Just Gone From Bad To Worse

With each passing day, the banking crisis in Europe escalates.  European banks are having their credit ratings downgraded in waves, bond yields are soaring and billions of euros are being pulled out of banks all across the eurozone.  The situation in Europe is rapidly going from bad to worse.  It is almost like watching air being let out of a balloon.  The key to any financial system is confidence, and right now confidence in banks in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal is declining at an alarming rate.  When things hit the fan in Europe, it is going to be much safer to have your money in Swiss banks or German banks than in Greek banks, Spanish banks or Italian banks.  Millions of people in Europe are starting to realize that a “euro” is not necessarily always going to be a “euro” and they are starting to panic.  The Greek banking system is already on the verge of total collapse, and at this rate it is only a matter of time before we see some major Spanish and Italian banks start to fail.  In fact it has already been announced that the fourth largest bank in Spain, Bankia, will be getting bailed out by the Spanish government.  It is only a matter of time before we hear more announcements like this.  Right now, events are moving so quickly in Europe that it is hard to keep up with them all.  But this is what usually happens in the financial world.  When things go well, it tends to happen over an extended period of time.  When things fall apart, it tends to happen very rapidly.

And at the moment, things across the pond are moving at a pace that is absolutely breathtaking.

The following are 18 signs that the banking crisis in Europe has just gone from bad to worse….

#1 Moody’s has announced that it has downgraded the credit ratings of 16 Spanish banks.  Included was Banco Santander, the largest bank in the eurozone.

#2 Shares of the fourth largest bank in Spain, Bankia, dropped 14 percent on Thursday.

#3 Overall, shares of Bankia have declined by 61 percent since last July.

#4 Shares of the largest bank in Italy, Unicredit, dropped by about 6 percent on Thursday.

#5 According to CNBC, a Spanish bond auction on Thursday went very poorly….

The Spanish Treasury had to pay around 5 percent to attract buyers of three- and four-year bonds. The longer-dated paper sold with a yield of 5.106 percent, way above the 3.374 percent the last time it was auctioned.

#6 The yield on 10 year Spanish bonds is back above 6 percent.

#7 In recent days, about eight times more money than usual has been pulled out of Greek banks.

#8 Fitch has slashed the long-term credit rating for Greece from B- to CCC.

#9 The European Central Bank has cut off direct lending to at least 4 Greek banks.

#10 According to a recent German documentary, financial records at the Ministry of Finance in Athens are being stored in garbage bags and shopping carts.

#11 The euro hit a 4 month low against the U.S. dollar on Thursday.

#12 It has been announced that the Spanish economy and the Italian economy are officially in recession.

#13 The Spanish government is becoming increasingly concerned about the bad loans that are mounting at major Spanish banks.  The following is from a recent Bloomberg article….

The government has asked lenders to increase provisions for bad debt by 54 billion euros ($70 billion) to 166 billion euros. That’s enough to cover losses of about 50 percent on loans to property developers and construction firms, according to the Bank of Spain. There wouldn’t be anything left for defaults on more than 1.4 trillion euros of home loans and corporate debt.

Taking those into account, banks would need to increase provisions by as much as five times what the government says, or 270 billion euros, according to estimates by the Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based research group. Plugging that hole would increase Spain’s public debt by almost 50 percent or force it to seek a bailout, following in the footsteps of Ireland, Greece and Portugal.

#14 Civil unrest is rising to dangerous levels in Italy.  The Italian government has assigned bodyguards to 550 individuals and has increased security at about 14,000 locations in response to recent violence related to the economic crisis.

#15 Governments all over Europe are rapidly making preparations for a Greek exit from the euro.  The following is from a recent article in the Guardian….

The British government is making urgent preparations to cope with the fallout of a possible Greek exit from the single currency, after the governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, warned that Europe was “tearing itself apart”.

#16 According to CNBC, the banking crisis in Europe is beginning to affect global trade….

The euro zone debt crisis is affecting trade as companies shy away from dealing with firms and banks in countries deemed at risk of contagion, a senior banker said on Thursday.

#17 Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of 26 Italian banks on Monday.

#18 Moody’s has announced that it is reviewing the credit ratings of 114 more European financial institutions.

Newspapers all over the globe are speaking breathlessly of a potential Greek exit from the euro, but it is very unlikely to happen before the next Greek election on June 17th.

The rest of Europe is going to continue to financially support Greece until a new government takes power.

If the new government is willing to accept the previous bailout agreements, then financial support for Greece will continue.

If the new government is not willing to accept the previous bailout agreements, then financial support for Greece will stop.

If that happens, the bank runs in Europe will likely become a lot worse.

But for now, Greece almost certainly has at least one more month in the euro.

Beyond that, there is no telling what is going to happen.

Greece is the first domino.  If Greece falls, you can count on others to eventually start tumbling as well.

The second half of 2012 is going to be fascinating to watch.

Hopefully things will not be as bad as many of us now fear they may be.

The Countdown To The Break Up Of The Euro Has Officially Begun

The results of the elections in France and Greece have made it abundantly clear that there is a tremendous backlash against the austerity approach that Germany has been pushing.  All over Europe, prominent politicians and incumbent political parties are being voted out.  In fact, Nicolas Sarkozy has become the 11th leader of a European nation to be defeated in an election since 2008.  We have seen governments fall in the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Greece.  Whenever they get a chance, the citizens of Europe are using the ballot box to send a message that they do not like what is going on.  It turns out that austerity is extremely unpopular.  But if newly elected politicians all over Europe begin rejecting austerity, this puts Germany in a very difficult position.  Should Germany be expected to indefinitely bail out all of the members of the eurozone that choose to live way beyond their means?  If Germany pulled out of the euro tomorrow, the euro would absolutely collapse, bond yields for the rest of the eurozone would skyrocket to unprecedented heights, and without German bailout money troubled nations such as Greece would be headed directly for default.  The rest of the eurozone is absolutely and completely dependent on Germany at this point.  But as we have seen, much of the rest of the eurozone is sick and tired of taking orders from Germany and is rejecting austerity.  A lot of politicians in Europe apparently believe that they should be able to run up gigantic amounts of debt indefinitely and that the Germans should be expected to always be there to bail them out whenever they need it.  Will the Germans be willing to tolerate such a situation, or will they simply pick up their ball and go home at some point?

Over the past several years, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have made a formidable team.  They worked together to push the eurozone on to the path of austerity, but now Sarkozy is out.

Francois Hollande, the new French president, has declared that the financial world is his “greatest enemy“.

He may regret making that statement.

One of the primary reasons why Hollande was elected was because he clearly rejected the austerity approach favored by the Germans.  Shortly after winning the election in France, he made the following statement….

“Europe is watching us, austerity can no longer be the only option”

Hollande says that he wants to “renegotiate” the fiscal pact that European leaders agreed to under the leadership of Merkel and Sarkozy.

But Merkel says that is not going to happen.  The following Merkel quotes are from a recent CNBC article….

“We in Germany are of the opinion, and so am I personally, that the fiscal pact is not negotiable. It has been negotiated and has been signed by 25 countries,” Merkel told a news conference.

“We are in the middle of a debate to which France, of course, under its new president will bring its own emphasis. But we are talking about two sides of the same coin — progress is only achievable via solid finances plus growth,” she added.

So instead of being on the same page, Germany and France are now headed in opposite directions.

But if the French do not get their debt under control, they could be facing a huge crisis of their own very quickly.  The following is from a recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard….

“They absolutely must cut public spending and control the debt,” said Marc Touati from Global Equities in Paris. “It will soon be clear that we are in deep recession. If they don’t act fast, interest rates will shoot up and we will have a catastrophe by September,” he said.

Without German help, France is not going to be able to handle its own financial problems – much less bail out the rest of Europe.

Germany is holding all of the cards, but much of the rest of the eurozone does not seem afraid to defy Germany at this point.

In Greece, anti-bailout parties scored huge gains in the recent election.

None of the political parties in Greece were able to reach 20 percent of the vote, and there is a tremendous amount of doubt about what comes next.

New Democracy (the “conservatives”) won about 19 percent of the vote, but they have already announced that they have failed to form a new government.

So now it will be up to the second place finishers, the Syriza party (the radical left coalition), to try to form a new government.

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Syriza party, is very anti-austerity.  He made the following statement the other night….

“The people of Europe can no longer be reconciled with the bailouts of barbarism.”

But at this point, it seems very doubtful that Syriza will be able to form a new government either.

PASOK, the socialists that have been pushing through all of the recent austerity measures, only ended up with about 13 percent of the vote.  In the 2009 election, PASOK got 44 percent of the vote.  Obviously their support of the austerity measures cost them dearly.

So what happens if none of the parties are able to form a new government?

It means that new elections will be held.

Meanwhile, Greece must somehow approve more than 11 billion euros in additional budget cuts by the end of June in order to receive the next round of bailout money.

Greece is currently in its 6th year of economic contraction, and there is very little appetite for more austerity in Greece at this point.

Citibank analysts are saying that there is now a 50 to 75 percent chance that Greece is going to be forced to leave the euro….

Overall, the outcome of the Greek election shows that it will be very difficult to form a viable coalition and to implement the measures required in the MoU. Particularly, the identification of the 7% GDP of budget savings for 2013 and 2014 by the end of June looks very unlikely to us. As a consequence, in a first step, the Troika is likely to delay the disbursement of the next tranche of the programme. Note that for 2Q 2012, disbursements of €31.3bn from the bailout programme are scheduled. If Greece does not make progress, in a second step, the Troika is likely to stop the programme. If that happens, the Greek sovereign and its banking sector would run out of funding. As a consequence, we expect that Greece would be forced to leave the euro area. With the outcome of the election, to us the probability of a Greek exit is now larger than our previous estimate of 50%, and rises to between 50-75%. However, even after the elections in Greece, France and Germany, we regard the probability of a broad-based break up of the monetary union as very low. We continue to expect that in reaction to Greece leaving the euro area, more far-reaching measures from governments and the ECB would be put in place.

But if Greece rejects austerity that does not mean that it has to leave the eurozone.

There is no provision that allows for the other nations to kick them out.

Greece could say no to austerity and dare Germany and the rest of the eurozone to keep the bailout money from them.

If Greece defaulted, it would severely damage the euro and bond yields all over the eurozone would likely skyrocket – especially for troubled countries like Spain and Italy.

If Greece wanted to play hardball, they could simply choose to play a game of “chicken” with Germany and see what happens.

Would Germany and the rest of the eurozone be willing to risk a financial disaster just to teach Greece a lesson?

But Greece is not the only one that is in trouble.

As I wrote about recently, the Spanish economy is rapidly heading into an economic depression.

Now it has come out that the Spanish government is going to bail out a major Spanish bank.  The following is from a recent Bloomberg article….

Rodrigo Rato stepped down as head of the Bankia group as a government bailout loomed after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy retreated from a pledge to avoid using public money to save lenders.

Rato, a former International Monetary Fund managing director, proposed Jose Ignacio Goirigolzarri, ex-president and chief operating officer of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA), as Bankia executive chairman, he said in a statement today in Madrid. The government plans to inject funds into the lender by buying contingent-capital securities, said an Economy Ministry official who declined to be named as the plan isn’t public.

But this is just the beginning.

Major banks all over Europe are going to need to be bailed out, and countries such as Portugal, Italy and Spain are going to need huge amounts of financial assistance.

So does Germany want to keep rescuing the rest of the eurozone over and over again during the coming years?  The cost of doing this would likely be astronomical.  The following is from a recent New York Times article….

Bernard Connolly, a persistent critic of Europe, estimates it would cost Germany, as the main surplus-generating country in the euro area, about 7 percent of its annual gross domestic product over several years to transfer sufficient funds to bail out Europe’s debt-burdened countries, including France.

That amount, he has argued, would far surpass the huge reparations bill foisted upon Germany by the victorious powers after World War I, the final payment of which Germany made in 2010.

At some point, Germany may decide that enough is enough.

In fact, there have been persistent rumors that Germany has been very quietly preparing to leave the euro.

A while back, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party approved a resolution that would allow a nation to leave the euro without leaving the European Union.

Many believed that this resolution was aimed at countries like Greece or Portugal, but the truth is that the resolution may have been setting the stage for an eventual German exit from the euro.

The following is an excerpt from that resolution….

“Should a member [of the euro zone] be unable or unwilling to permanently obey the rules connected to the common currency he will be able to voluntarily–according to the rules of the Lisbon Treaty for leaving the European Union–leave the euro zone without leaving the European Union. He would receive the same status as those member states that do not have the euro.”

Most analysts will tell you that they think that it is inconceivable that Germany could leave the euro.

But stranger things have happened.

And Germany has made some very curious moves recently.

For example, Germany recently reinstated its Special Financial Market Stabilization Funds.  Those funds could be utilized to bail out German banks in the event of a break up of the euro.  The following is from a recent article by Graham Summers….

In short, Germany has given the SoFFIN:

  1. €400 billion to be used as guarantees for German banks.
  2. €80 billion to be used for the recapitalization of German banks
  3. Legislation that would permit German banks to dump their euro-zone government bonds if needed.

That is correct. Any German bank, if it so chooses, will have the option to dump its EU sovereign bonds into the SoFFIN during a Crisis.

In simple terms, Germany has put a €480 billion firewall around its banks. It can literally pull out of the Euro any time it wants to.

So has Germany been quietly preparing a plan “B” just in case the rest of the eurozone rejected the path of austerity?

Most people have assumed that it will be a nation such as Greece or Portugal that will leave the euro first, but in the end it just might be Germany.

And the “smart money” is definitely betting on something big happening.

Right now some of the largest hedge funds in the world are betting against the eurozone as a recent Daily Finance article described….

Some of the world’s most prominent hedge fund managers are betting against the eurozone — and not just the peripheral countries everyone knows are in trouble. They’re taking positions against the core countries, economies that — until now — everyone has assumed were rock-solid.

Yes, the countdown to the break up of the euro has officially begun.

A great financial crisis is going to erupt in Europe, and it is going to shake the world to the core.

If you were frightened by what happened back in 2008, then you are going to be absolutely horrified by what is coming next.

22 Signs That The Collapsing Spanish Economy Is Heading Into A Great Depression

What happens when debt-fueled false prosperity disappears?  Just look at Spain.  The 4th largest economy in the eurozone was riding high during the boom years, but now the Spanish economy is collapsing with no end in sight.  When a debt bubble gets interrupted, the consequences can be rather chaotic.  Just like we saw in Greece, austerity is causing the economy to slow down in Spain.  But when the economy slows down, tax revenues fall and that makes it even more difficult to meet budget targets.  So even more austerity measures are needed to keep debt under control and the cycle just keeps going.  Unfortunately, even with all of the recently implemented austerity measures the Spanish government is still not even close to a balanced budget.  Meanwhile, the housing market in Spain is crashing and unemployment is already above 24 percent.  The Spanish banking system is a giant, unregulated mess that is on the verge of a massive implosion, and the Spanish stock market has been declining rapidly.  The Spanish government is going to need a massive bailout and so will the entire Spanish banking system.  But that is going to be a huge problem, because the Spanish economy is almost 5 times as large as the Greek economy.  When the Spanish financial system collapses, the entire globe is going to feel the pain and there will be no easy solution.

So just how bad are things in Spain at this point?

The following are 22 signs that the collapsing Spanish economy is heading into a great depression….

#1 The unemployment rate in Spain has reached 24.4 percent – a new all-time record high.  Back in April 2007, the unemployment rate in Spain was only 7.9 percent.

#2 The unemployment rate in Spain is now higher than the U.S. unemployment rate was during any point during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

#3 According to CNBC, some analysts are projecting that the unemployment rate in Spain is going to go above 30 percent.

#4 The unemployment rate for those under the age of 25 in Spain is now a whopping 52 percent.

#5 There are more than 47 million people living in Spain today.  Only about 17 million of them have jobs.

#6 Retail sales in Spain have declined for 21 months in a row.

#7 The Bank of Spain has officially confirmed that Spain has already entered another recession.

#8 Last week, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services slashed Spain’s credit rating from A to BBB+.

#9 The yield on 10-year Spanish bonds is up around 6 percent again.  That is considered to be very dangerous territory.

#10 Two of Spain’s biggest banks have announced that they are going to stop increasing their holdings of Spanish government debt.

#11 Of all the loans held by Spanish banks, 8.15 percent are considered to be “bad loans”.

#12 The total value of all bad loans in Spain is equivalent to approximately 13 percent of Spanish GDP.

#13 Of all real estate assets held by Spanish banks, more than 50 percent of them are considered to be “troubled” by the Spanish government.

#14 That total amount of money loaned out by Spanish banks is equivalent to approximately 170 percent of Spanish GDP.

#15 Home prices in Spain fell by 11.2 percent last year, and the number of property repossessions in Spain rose by a staggering 32 percent during 2011.

#16 Spanish housing prices are now down 25 percent from the peak of the housing market and Citibank’s Willem Buiter expects the eventual decline to be somewhere around 60 percent.

#17 It is being projected the the economy of Spain will shrink by 1.7 percent this year, although there are some analysts that feel that projection is way too optimistic.

#18 The Spanish government has announced a ban on all cash transactions larger than 2,500 euros.

#19 One key Spanish stock index has already fallen by more than 19 percent so far this year.

#20 The Spanish government recently admitted that its 2011 budget deficit was much larger than originally projected and that it probably will not meet its budget targets for 2012 either.

#21 Spain’s debt to GDP ratio is projected to rise by more than 11 percent during 2012.

#22 Worldwide exposure to Spanish debt is estimated to be well over a trillion euros.

Spain is going down the exact same road that Greece went down.

Greece is already suffering through a great depression and now Spain is joining them.  The following is from a recent BBC article….

“In Spain today, a cycle similar to Greece is starting to develop,” said HSBC chief economist Stephen King.

“The recession is so deep that when you take one step forward on austerity, it takes you two steps back.”

In Spain right now there is a lot of fear and panic about the economy.  In many areas, it seems like absolutely nobody is hiring right now.  The following is from a recent USA Today article….

“The situation is very bad. There’s no work,” said Enrique Sebastian, a 48-year-old unemployed surgery room assistant as he left one of Madrid’s unemployment offices. “The only future I see is one with wages of €400 ($530) a month for eight-hour days. And that’s if you can find it.”

But Spain is just at the beginning of a downward spiral.  Just wait until they have been through a few years of economic depression.  Once that happens, millions of people begin to lose all hope.  A recent Reuters article discussed the epidemic of suicides that is happening in Greece right now….

On Monday, a 38-year-old geology lecturer hanged himself from a lamp post in Athens and on the same day a 35-year-old priest jumped to his death off his balcony in northern Greece. On Wednesday, a 23-year-old student shot himself in the head.

In a country that has had one of the lowest suicide rates in the world, a surge in the number of suicides in the wake of an economic crisis has shocked and gripped the Mediterranean nation – and its media – before a May 6 election.

And you know what?

The nightmares that we are seeing unfold in Spain and Greece right now are just a preview of what is coming to most of the rest of the world.

The next wave of the economic crisis will soon envelop the United States, Japan and the rest of Europe.

When it strikes, the pain will be immense.

But it won’t be the end – it will only be just the beginning.

The global financial system is starting to crumble.

You better get ready.

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