Last month, a “secret meeting” that involved more than 100 executives from some of the biggest financial institutions in the United States was held in New York City. During this “secret meeting“, a company known as “Chain” unveiled a technology that transforms U.S. dollars into “pure digital assets”. Reportedly, there were representatives from Nasdaq, Citigroup, Visa, Fidelity, Fiserv and Pfizer in the room, and Chain also claims to be partnering with Capital One, State Street, and First Data. This “revolutionary” technology is intended to completely change the way that we use money, and it would represent a major step toward a cashless society. But if this new digital cash system is going to be so good for society, why was it unveiled during a secret meeting for Wall Street bankers? Is there something more going on here than we are being told?
None of us probably would have ever heard about this secret meeting if it was not for a report in Bloomberg. The following comes from their article entitled “Inside the Secret Meeting Where Wall Street Tested Digital Cash“…
On a recent Monday in April, more than 100 executives from some of the world’s largest financial institutions gathered for a private meeting at the Times Square office of Nasdaq Inc. They weren’t there to just talk about blockchain, the new technology some predict will transform finance, but to build and experiment with the software.
By the end of the day, they had seen something revolutionary: U.S. dollars transformed into pure digital assets, able to be used to execute and settle a trade instantly. That’s the promise of a blockchain, where the cumbersome and error-prone system that takes days to move money across town or around the world is replaced with almost instant certainty.
So it is not just Michael Snyder from The Economic Collapse Blog that is referring to this gathering as a “secret meeting”. This is actually how it was described by Bloomberg. And I think that there is a very good reason why this meeting was held in secret, because many in the general public would definitely be alarmed by this giant step toward a cashless society. Here is more on this new system from Bloomberg…
While cash in a bank account moves electronically all the time today, there’s a distinction between that system and what it means to say money is digital. Electronic payments are really just messages that cash needs to move from one account to another, and this reconciliation is what adds time to the payments process. For customers, moving money between accounts can take days as banks wait for confirmations. Digital dollars, however, are pre-loaded into a system like a blockchain. From there, they can be swapped immediately for an asset.
“Instead of a record or message being moved, it’s the actual asset,” Ludwin said. “The payment and the settlement become the same thing.”
Why this is so alarming is because we are seeing other major moves toward a cashless system all over the planet. In Sweden, 95 percent of all retail transactions are already cashless, and ATM machines are being removed by the hundreds. In Denmark, government officials actually have a stated goal of “eradicating cash” by the year 2030. And in Norway, the biggest bank in the country has publicly called for the complete elimination of all cash.
Other nations in Europe have already banned cash transactions over a certain amount. Here are just a couple of examples…
As I have written about previously, cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain, and France and Italy have both banned all cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.
Little by little, cash is being eradicated, and what we have seen so far is just the beginning. 417 billion cashless transactions were conducted in 2014, and the final number for 2015 is projected to be much higher.
The global push toward a cashless society is only going to intensify, because banks and governments both tend to really like the idea of such a system.
Banks really like the concept of a cashless society because it would force everyone to be their customers. There would be no more hiding cash in a mattress at home or trying to pay all of your bills with paper money. Under a cashless system, we would all be dependent on the banks, and they would make lots of money whenever we swiped our cards or our “chips” were scanned.
Governments see a lot of advantages in a cashless society as well. They tell us that they would be able to crack down on drug dealers, tax evaders, terrorists and money launderers, but the truth is that it would enable them to watch, track, monitor and control virtually all of our financial transactions. Our lives would become open books to the government, and financial privacy would be a thing of the past.
In addition, the potential for tyranny would be absolutely off the charts.
Just imagine a world where the government could serve as the gatekeeper for who is allowed to use the cashless system and who is not. They could require that we all submit to some sort of government-issued form of identification before being permitted to operate within the system, or it is even conceivable that a loyalty oath would be required.
Of course if you did not submit to their demands, you could not buy, sell, open a bank account or get a job without access to the cashless system.
Hopefully people can understand where this is going. Paper money is a very important component of our freedom, and if it is taken away from us that will open the door for all sorts of abuse.
Even now, cash is slowly being “criminalized” in America. For example, if cash is used to pay for a hotel room that is considered by federal authorities to be “suspicious activity” that should be reported to the government. Of course it isn’t against the law to pay your hotel bill in cash just yet, but according to the government it is something that “terrorists” do so it needs to be closely watched.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see where all of this is going. And for those of us that understand what time it is, this is a clear indication that it is getting late in the game.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
If you want to figure out what is going to happen next in the financial markets, carefully watch what the insiders are doing. Those that are “connected” have access to far better sources of information than the rest of us have, and if they hear that something big is coming up they will often make very significant moves with their money in anticipation of what is about to happen. Right now, Wall Street insiders and central banks all around the globe are making some very unusual moves. In fact, they appear to be rapidly preparing for something really big. So exactly what are they up to? In a previous article entitled “Are The Government And The Big Banks Quietly Preparing For An Imminent Financial Collapse?“, I speculated that they may be preparing for a financial meltdown of some sort. As I noted in that article, more than 600 banking executives have resigned from their positions over the past 12 months, and I have been personally told that a substantial number of Wall Street bankers have been shopping for “prepper properties” this summer. But now even more evidence has emerged that quiet preparations are being made for an imminent financial collapse. That doesn’t guarantee that something will happen or won’t happen. Like any good detective, we are gathering clues and trying to figure out what the evidence is telling us.
Why Is George Soros Selling So Much Stock And Buying So Much Gold?
I am certainly not a fan of George Soros. He has funneled millions upon millions of dollars into organizations that are trying to take America in the exact wrong direction.
However, I do recognize that he is extremely well connected in the financial world. Soros is almost always ahead of the curve on financial matters, and if something big is going to go down George Soros is probably going to know about it ahead of time.
That is why it is very alarming that he has dumped all of his banking stocks and that he is massively hoarding gold. The following is from shtfplan.com….
In a harbinger of what may be coming our way in the Fall of 2012, billionaire financier George Soros has sold all of his equity positions in major financial stocks according to a 13-F report filed with the SEC for the quarter ending June 30, 2012.
Soros, who manages funds through various accounts in the US and the Cayman Islands, has reportedly unloaded over one million shares of stock in financial companies and banks that include Citigroup (420,000 shares), JP Morgan (701,400 shares) and Goldman Sachs (120,000 shares). The total value of the stock sales amounts to nearly $50 million.
What’s equally as interesting as his sale of major financials is where Soros has shifted his money. At the same time he was selling bank stocks, he was acquiring some 884,000 shares (approx. $130 million) of Gold via the SPDR Gold Trust.
Why would you dump over a million shares of stock in major banks and purchase more than 100 million dollars worth of gold?
Well, it would make perfect sense if you believed that a collapse of the financial system was about to happen.
Earlier this year, George Soros told the following to Newsweek….
“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”
It looks like he is putting his money where his mouth is.
Perhaps even more disturbing is what he believes is coming after the financial collapse….
As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. “Yes, yes, yes,” he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”
That doesn’t sound good.
George Soros has told us what he believes is going to happen, and now he is making moves with his money that indicate that he is convinced that it is actually about to start happening.
But he is not the only one that has been busy accumulating gold.
Billionaire John Paulson (the one that made 20 billion dollars on the subprime mortgage meltdown) has been buying gold like crazy and his company now “has 44 percent of its $24 billion fund exposed to bullion.”
So why are Soros and Paulson buying up so much gold?
Central Banks Are Also Hoarding Gold
According to the World Gold Council, the amount of gold bought by the central banks of the world absolutely soared during the second quarter of 2012. The 157.5 metric tons of gold bought by the central banks of the world last quarter was an increase of 62.9 percent from the first quarter of 2012 and a 137.9 percent increase from the second quarter of 2011.
Prior to 2009, the central banks of the world had been net sellers of gold for about two decades. But now that has totally changed, and last quarter central banks stocked up on gold in quantities that we have not seen before….
At 157.5 metric tons, gold buying among central banks came in at its highest quarterly level since the sector became a net buyer of the precious metal in the second quarter of 2009, data in the organization’s quarterly Gold Demand Trends report show.
So why have the central banks of the world become such gold bugs?
Is there something they aren’t telling us?
Rampant Insider Selling
Wall Street insiders have been dumping a whole lot of stock this year.
In my previous article, I linked to a CNN article from back in April….
First quarter earnings have been decent, if not spectacular. And many corporate executives are issuing cautiously optimistic guidance for the rest of the year.
But while insiders’ lips are saying one thing, their wallets are saying another. The level of insider selling among S&P 500 (SPX) companies is the highest in nearly 10 years. That is not good.
A lot of insiders appear to be getting out at the top of the market while the getting is still good.
Other insiders appear to be bailing out before the bottom falls out from beneath them.
Just check out what has been happening to Facebook stock. It hit another new record low on Thursday as insiders dumped stock. The following is from a CNN article….
Facebook’s life as a public company has been a nightmare from day one, and the pain continued on Thursday as some company insiders got their first chance to dump shares.
Facebook stock hit a new intra-day low of $19.69 Thursday morning, and ended the day 6.3% lower at $19.87.
Sadly, Facebook has now lost close to half of its value since the IPO.
Will Facebook end up being the poster child for the irrational stock market bubble that we have seen over the past couple of years?
Overall, retail investors have been very busy pulling money out of stocks in recent weeks.
The following are the net inflows to equity funds over the past five weeks (in millions of dollars) according to ICI….
According to the figures above, more than 10 billion dollars has been pulled out of equity funds over the past two weeks alone.
So does this mean anything?
But it is very interesting and it bears watching.
Why Does The U.S. Government Need So Much Ammunition?
In my previous article, I also noted that the U.S. government appears to be very rapidly making preparations for something really big.
This week, it was revealed that the Social Security Administration plans to buy 174,000 hollow point bullets which will be delivered to 41 different locations all over America.
Now why in the world does the Social Security Administration need 174,000 bullets?
And why do they need hollow point bullets? Those bullets are designed to cause as much damage to internal organs as possible.
But of course this is only the latest in a series of very large purchases of ammunition by U.S. government agencies. The following is from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson….
Back in March, Homeland Security purchased 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets that are designed to expand upon entry and cause maximum organ damage, prompting questions as to why the DHS needed such a large amount of powerful bullets merely for training purposes.
This was followed by another DHS solicitation asking for a further 750 million rounds of assorted bullets, including 357 mag rounds that are able to penetrate walls.
Now why in the world would the government need over a billion rounds of ammunition?
If it was the U.S. military I could understand this. You can burn through a whole lot of ammunition fighting wars.
But this makes no sense – unless they believe that big trouble is coming.
Personally, I wouldn’t blame them for getting prepared. Our economy continues to fall apart and there are signs of social decay everywhere around us.
The American people are more frustrated and more angry than at any other time in modern history. This upcoming election is only going to cause Americans to become even more angry and even more divided.
All it would take is just the right “spark” to cause this country to erupt.
It could be the upcoming election.
It could be the collapse of the financial system.
Or it might be something else.
But the conditions are definitely there for it to happen.
Unfortunately, the American public is never told to prepare because authorities never want “to panic” the general population.
We are always the last to know, and that stinks.
So don’t wait for someone to come on the television and announce that a crisis is happening.
If you wait that long, it will be too late.
Instead, open up your eyes and think for yourself.
We all need to work hard to get prepared for the coming crisis while we still can.
As you can see, Wall Street insiders, the U.S. government and the central banks of the world are busy getting prepared.
Don’t put your head in the sand.
The warning signs are there and time is running out.
Something really strange appears to be happening. All over the globe, governments and big banks are acting as if they are anticipating an imminent financial collapse. Unfortunately, we are not privy to the quiet conversations that are taking place in corporate boardrooms and in the halls of power in places such as Washington D.C. and London, so all we can do is try to make sense of all the clues that are all around us. Of course it is completely possible to misinterpret these clues, but sticking our heads in the sand is not going to do any good either. Last week, it was revealed that the U.S. government has been secretly directing five of the biggest banks in America “to develop plans for staving off collapse” for the last two years. By itself, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But when you add that piece to the dozens of other clues of imminent financial collapse, a very troubling picture begins to emerge. Over the past 12 months, hundreds of banking executives have been resigning, corporate insiders have been selling off enormous amounts of stock, and I have been personally told that a significant number of Wall Street bankers have been shopping for “prepper properties” in rural communities this summer. Meanwhile, there have been reports that the U.S. government has been stockpiling food and ammunition, and Barack Obama has been signing a whole bunch of executive orders that would potentially be implemented in the event of a major meltdown of society. So what does all of this mean? It could mean something or it could mean nothing. What we do know is that a financial collapse is coming at some point. Over the past 40 years, the total amount of all debt in the United States has grown from about 2 trillion dollars to nearly 55 trillion dollars. That is a recipe for financial armageddon, and it is inevitable that this gigantic bubble of debt is going to burst at some point.
In normal times, the U.S. government does not tell major banks to “develop plans for staving off collapse”.
But according to a recent Reuters article, that is apparently exactly what has been happening….
U.S. regulators directed five of the country’s biggest banks, including Bank of America Corp and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, to develop plans for staving off collapse if they faced serious problems, emphasizing that the banks could not count on government help.
The two-year-old program, which has been largely secret until now, is in addition to the “living wills” the banks crafted to help regulators dismantle them if they actually do fail. It shows how hard regulators are working to ensure that banks have plans for worst-case scenarios and can act rationally in times of distress.
Does it seem odd to anyone else that only five really big banks got such a warning?
And why keep it secret from the American public?
Does the federal government actually expect such a collapse to happen?
If federal officials do expect a financial collapse to occur, they would not be the only ones. An increasing number of very respected economists are speaking about the coming financial collapse as if there is a certain inevitability about it.
For example, check out the following quote from a recent Money Morning article….
Richard Duncan, formerly of the World Bank and chief economist at Blackhorse Asset Mgmt., says America’s $16 trillion federal debt has escalated into a “death spiral,” as he told CNBC.
And it could result in a depression so severe that he doesn’t “think our civilization could survive it.”
A former World Bank executive is warning that our civilization might not survive what is coming?
That is pretty chilling.
Economist Nouriel Roubini says that he believes that the coming crisis will be even worse than 2008….
“Worse because like 2008 you will have an economic and financial crisis but unlike 2008, you are running out of policy bullets. In 2008, you could cut rates; do QE1, QE2; you could do fiscal stimulus; you could backstop/ringfence/guarantee banks and everybody else. Today, more QEs are becoming less and less effective because the problems are of solvency not liquidity. Fiscal deficits are already so large and you cannot bail out the banks because 1) there is a political opposition to it; and 2) governments are near-insolvent – they cannot bailout themselves let alone their banks. The problem is that we are running out of policy rabbits to pull out of the hat!”
Across the pond, many European officials are echoing similar sentiments.
What Nigel Farage told King World News the other day is very ominous….
Today MEP (Member European Parliament) Nigel Farage spoke with King World News about what he described as the possibility of, “a really dramatic banking collapse.” Farage also warned that central planners want to enslave and imprison people inside of a ‘New Order,’ and he described the situation as “horrifying.”
The situation in Europe continues to get worse and worse. The authorities in Europe have come out with “solution” after “solution”, and yet unemployment continues to skyrocket and economic conditions in the EU have deteriorated very steadily over the past 12 months.
If all of that was not bad enough, there are an increasing number of indications that Germany is actually considering leaving the euro.
Needless to say, that would be a complete and total disaster for the rest of the eurozone.
Of course there are any number of ways that the financial crisis in Europe could potentially play out.
But all of the realistic scenarios would be very bad for the global economy.
Meanwhile, our resources are dwindling, war in the Middle East could erupt at any moment and our planet is becoming increasingly unstable. The following is from a recent article by Paul B. Farrell on Marketwatch.com….
Fasten your seat belts, soon we’ll all be shocked out of denial. Some unpredictable black swan. A global wake-up call will trigger the Pentagon’s prediction in Fortune a decade ago at the launch of the Iraq War: “By 2020 … an ancient pattern of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies is emerging … warfare defining human life.”
It is almost as if a “perfect storm” is brewing.
Of course the historic drought that is ravaging food production in the United States this summer is not helping matters either. Another summer or two like this one and we could be looking at a return of Dust Bowl conditions.
Anyone that is watching what is going on in the world and is not concerned at all about what is happening is simply being delusional.
Recently, a “team of scientists, economists, and geopolitical analysts” examined the current state of the global economic system and the conclusions they reached were absolutely staggering….
One member of this team, Chris Martenson, a pathologist and former VP of a Fortune 300 company, explains their findings:
“We found an identical pattern in our debt, total credit market, and money supply that guarantees they’re going to fail. This pattern is nearly the same as in any pyramid scheme, one that escalates exponentially fast before it collapses. Governments around the globe are chiefly responsible.
“And what’s really disturbing about these findings is that the pattern isn’t limited to our economy. We found the same catastrophic pattern in our energy, food, and water systems as well.”
According to Martenson: “These systems could all implode at the same time. Food, water, energy, money. Everything.”
Hmmmm – it sounds like they have been reading The Economic Collapse Blog.
The truth is that a massive worldwide financial collapse is coming.
It is inevitable, and it is going to be extremely painful.
So what do you think about all of this? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….
Who is the biggest loser in the ongoing decline of the U.S. economy? Is it the wealthy? No, the stock market has been soaring lately and their incomes are actually going up. Is it the poor? Well, the poor are definitely hurting very badly, but when you don’t have much to begin with you don’t have much to lose. Unfortunately, it is the middle class that has lost the most during this economic downturn. According to Bloomberg, 95 percent of the jobs lost during the recession were middle class jobs. That is an absolutely astounding figure. Yes, some executives lost their jobs during the last recession as did some minimum-wage workers. But overwhelmingly the jobs that were lost were middle income jobs. Sadly, the limited number of jobs that have been added since the end of the last recession have mostly been low income jobs. A higher percentage of Americans are working low income jobs than ever before, and the cost of living continues to rise at a very brisk pace. This is causing an erosion of the middle class unlike anything we have ever seen in American history.
When I was growing up I was taught that the fact that we had the largest middle class in the history of the world was evidence that our economic system was working incredibly well.
So what does the fact that the middle class is shrinking at a very rapid pace at this point say about how well our economy is working?
Middle Class Incomes Are Going Down
During the last recession, millions of Americans lost their jobs and the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs has not bounced back in the years since the recession ended.
But most middle class Americans still have jobs. The big problem for many middle class families is the fact that their incomes are not going up. In fact, after you account for inflation, middle class incomes are actually way down during the Obama years as a recent Bloomberg article explained….
As a candidate in 2008, Obama blamed the reversals largely on the policies of Bush and other Republicans. He cited census figures showing that median income for working-age households — those headed by someone younger than 65 — had dropped more than $2,000 after inflation during the first seven years of Bush’s time in office.
Yet real median household income in March was down $4,300 since Obama took office in January 2009 and down $2,900 since the June 2009 start of the economic recovery, according to an analysis of census data by Sentier Research, an economic- consulting firm in Annapolis, Maryland.
So is this the “hope and change” that Obama was talking about?
But let’s not just blame Obama and Bush. The truth is that the trend toward lower paying jobs has been going on for a very long time.
Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.
So where will it end?
Will 50 percent or 60 percent of all Americans soon be working low income jobs?
At this point, approximately one out of every four jobs in America pays $10 an hour or less.
Could your family survive on $10 an hour?
The Rising Cost Of Living
As middle class incomes go down, the cost of almost everything that middle class families buy continues to go up.
The Federal Reserve claims that it has kept inflation “low” for decades, but that is a giant lie.
When you take a look at the long-term picture, it is amazing how much prices have changed.
Back in 1950, the average price of a new car was $1,510.
Today, the average price of a new car is $30,748.
In 1967, yearly tuition at Yale was $1,950.
Today it is $38,300.
And inflation continues to take a great toll on the paychecks of middle class families.
For example, electricity bills in the U.S. have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.
Also, the price of gas has risen by more than 100 percent since Barack Obama entered the White House and the average U.S. household spent a staggering $4,155 on gasoline during 2011.
The Destruction Of Middle Class Wealth
What is the number one financial asset for most middle class families?
Most middle class families don’t have a lot of stocks, bonds or other financial assets.
Instead, normally the family home is the number one financial asset for most middle class families, and in recent years the value of that asset has been absolutely decimated.
When you take inflation into account, housing prices have fallen all the way back to 1998 levels. The following is from a recent Smart Money article….
The latest S&P / Case-Shiller numbers, reported last week, show that prices in 20 major markets declined 3.5% over the year through February. They’re now back to 2002 levels. If we subtract for inflation, they’re back to 1998 levels.
Overall, home prices in the U.S. have declined for six months in a row and are now down a total of 35 percent from the peak of the housing bubble.
Unfortunately, things don’t look like they are going to turn around any time soon. Yale economics professor Robert Shiller recently said the following about U.S. home prices….
“I worry that we might not see a really major turnaround in our lifetimes”
But falling home prices are not the only problem we are witnessing. We are also seeing millions of middle class families lose their homes.
According to the U.S. Census, homeownership in America is now at the lowest level it has been in 15 years.
According to Gallup, the current level of homeownership in the United States is the lowest that Gallup has ever measured.
Owning your own home is an indication that you are part of the middle class, and so the fact that the number of Americans that own a home is falling rapidly is not a good sign for the health of the middle class at all.
The Future Is Not Bright
Those that are graduating from college right now are supposed to be the future of the middle class in America.
But for most of those college graduates, the future is not so bright. Last year, a staggering 53 percent of all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.
Millions of young college graduates have been forced to take jobs that do not even require a college degree. Just check out the following stats from a recent CNBC article….
In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000).
Aren’t those numbers crazy?
The truth is that a college education is no longer a ticket to the middle class.
What Happens To Americans That Fall Out Of The Middle Class?
As the middle class shrinks, the ranks of the “low income” and “the poor” are absolutely swelling.
Today, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.
That is almost half the country.
Each year, millions more fall out of the middle class. In 2010, 2.6 million more Americans fell into poverty. That was the biggest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.
As the middle class shrinks, the number of Americans dependent on the government for survival rises. Right now, government dependence is at an all-time high and things are only going to get worse from here.
In November 2008 (when Barack Obama won the election), 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps. Today, more than 46 million Americans are on food stamps.
Will we eventually see 50 million or 60 million Americans on food stamps?
The U.S. economy desperately needs more middle class jobs.
Unfortunately, the Republicans failed to generate them under George W. Bush and the Democrats failed to generate them under Barack Obama.
Instead, both parties continue to promote the politics of division and they both continue to push for more of the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.
Nothing is being done to solve our problems and so the middle class in America is going to be even smaller by this time next year.
If you still have a spot in the middle class, hold on to it as tightly as you can. It is not as secure as you might think.