Now Is The Time – Fear Rises As Financial Markets All Over The Planet Start To Crash

Fear - Public DomainCan you feel the panic in the air?  CNN Money’s Fear & Greed Index measures the amount of fear in the financial world on a scale from 0 to 100.  The closer it is to zero, the higher the level of fear.  Last Monday, the index was sitting at a reading of 36.  As I write this article, it has fallen to 7.  The financial turmoil which began last week is threatening to turn into an avalanche. On Sunday night, we witnessed the second largest one day stock market collapse in China ever, and this pushed stocks all over the planet into the red.  Meanwhile, the twin blades of an emerging market currency crisis and a commodity price crash are chewing up economies that are dependent on the export of natural resources all over the globe.  For a long time, I have been warning about what would happen in the second half of 2015, and now it is here.  The following is a summary of the financial carnage that we have seen over the past 24 hours…

-On Sunday night, the Shanghai Composite Index plunged 8.5 percent.  It was the largest one day stock market crash in China since 2007, and it was the second largest in history.  The Chinese government is promising to directly intervene in order to prevent Chinese stocks from going down even more.

-Over 1,500 stocks in China fell by their 10 percent daily maximum.  This list includes giants such as China Unicom, Bank of Communications and PetroChina.

-Ever since peaking in June, the Shanghai Composite Index has dropped by a total of 28 percent.

-Even Chinese stocks that are listed on U.S. stock exchanges are being absolutely hammered.  The following comes from USA Today

The 144 China-based stocks with primary listings on major U.S. exchanges have erased nearly $40 billion in paper wealth since the Shanghai Composite index peaked on June 12. It’s an enormous destruction of wealth that in effects wipes out the market value of a company the size of cruise ship operator Carnival.

-The Chinese stock market crash pushed European stocks significantly lower on Monday…

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally closed 2.1 percent lower, while the Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC closed respectively 2.4 percent and 2.5 percent lower.

The U.K.’s benchmark FTSE outperformed its euro zone peers, but still closed unofficially down 1.0 percent.

-Overall, European stocks have been falling steadily since the beginning of last week.  To get an idea of how much damage has been done already, just check out this chart.

-As I mentioned above, an emerging market currency crisis is causing havoc for economies all over the planet.  The following comes from an article that was published by the Telegraph

The currencies of Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey have all crashed to multi-year lows as investors flee emerging markets and commodity prices crumble.

The drastic moves came as fears of imminent monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve combined with shockingly weak figures from China, which stoked fears that the country may be sliding into a deeper downturn and sent tremors through East Asia, Latin America and Africa.

-The government of Puerto Rico has announced that it does not have enough cash to make a scheduled debt payment of 169 million dollars on August 1st.  The Obama administration says that there are no plans in the works to bail out Puerto Rico.

-On Monday, the Dow was down another 127 points.  It was the fifth day in a row that the Dow and the S&P 500 have both declined.

-Overall, the Dow is now down more than 650 points since July 20th.

-480 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange have hit new 52-week lows.  Many analysts consider this to be a very, very ominous sign.

-I have repeatedly written about the danger of the commodity collapse that we are currently witnessing, and the Bloomberg Commodity Index fell another 1.22 percent on Monday to a fresh low of 92.1493.

-On Monday, the price of U.S. oil hit a 52-week low of $46.92.

-So far, the price of U.S. oil has fallen about 20 percent this month.

-Back in June 2014, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude was above 107 dollars.  Since then, the price of U.S. oil has fallen an astounding 56 percent.

-Thanks in large part to the collapse in energy prices, junk bonds are cratering.  This is something that happened just before the financial crisis of 2008, and now it is happening again.  The following comes from Wolf Street

Among the bonds: Cliffs Natural Resources down 27.6%, SandBridge down 30%, Murray Energy down 21.2%, and Linn Energy down 22.3%, according to Bloomberg.

For example, Linn Energy 6.25% notes due in 2019 were trading at 78 cents on the dollar at the beginning of July and at 58 on Friday, according to LCD. There was bloodshed beyond energy, such as AK Steel’s 7.625% notes due in 2021. They were trading at 62 cents on the dollar, down 22% from the beginning of July.

“The performance is a disappointment to investors who purchased about $40 billion of junk-rated bonds from energy companies this year, thinking that the worst of the slump was over,” Bloomberg noted.

This is exactly what we would expect to see during the early stages of a financial crisis.

Of course global financial markets may bounce back somewhat tomorrow.  If you will remember, some of the largest one day gains in stock market history happened right in the middle of the stock market collapse of 2008.  So don’t get fooled by what happens on any one particular day.

With so much fear in the air, literally anything could happen in the weeks and months ahead of us.  One month ago, I issued a red alert for the last six months of this year.  I warned that a major financial crisis was imminent and that people needed to start protecting themselves immediately.

As I write this article on Monday evening, financial markets are already opening up over in Asia.  Japanese stocks are already down 251 points even though the market has only been open for about an hour over there.

We have entered a time when what is happening to global stock markets will once again be headline news.  We are right on the precipice of another great financial crisis, only this one is going to ultimately end up being much worse than the last one.

Now is the time.

Please get prepared while you still can.

The Global Liquidity Squeeze Has Begun

Squeeze Globe - Public DomainGet ready for another major worldwide credit crunch.  Today, the entire global financial system resembles a colossal spiral of debt.  Just about all economic activity involves the flow of credit in some way, and so the only way to have “economic growth” is to introduce even more debt into the system.  When the system started to fail back in 2008, global authorities responded by pumping this debt spiral back up and getting it to spin even faster than ever.  If you can believe it, the total amount of global debt has risen by $35 trillion since the last crisis.  Unfortunately, any system based on debt is going to break down eventually, and there are signs that it is starting to happen once again.  For example, just a few days ago the IMF warned regulators to prepare for a global “liquidity shock“.  And on Friday, Chinese authorities announced a ban on certain types of financing for margin trades on over-the-counter stocks, and we learned that preparations are being made behind the scenes in Europe for a Greek debt default and a Greek exit from the eurozone.  On top of everything else, we just witnessed the biggest spike in credit application rejections ever recorded in the United States.  All of these are signs that credit conditions are tightening, and once a “liquidity squeeze” begins, it can create a lot of fear.

Over the past six months, the Chinese stock market has exploded upward even as the overall Chinese economy has started to slow down.  Investors have been using something called “umbrella trusts” to finance a lot of these stock purchases, and these umbrella trusts have given them the ability to have much more leverage than normal brokerage financing would allow.  This works great as long as stocks go up.  Once they start going down, the losses can be absolutely staggering.

That is why Chinese authorities are stepping in before this bubble gets even worse.  Here is more about what has been going on in China from Bloomberg

China’s trusts boosted their investments in equities by 28 percent to 552 billion yuan ($89.1 billion) in the fourth quarter. The higher leverage allowed by the products exposes individuals to larger losses in the event of stock-market drops, which can be exaggerated as investors scramble to repay debt during a selloff.

In umbrella trusts, private investors take up the junior tranche, while cash from trusts and banks’ wealth-management products form the senior tranches. The latter receive fixed returns while the former take the rest, so private investors are effectively borrowing from trusts and banks.

Margin debt on the Shanghai Stock Exchange climbed to a record 1.16 trillion yuan on Thursday. In a margin trade, investors use their own money for just a portion of their stock purchase, borrowing the rest. The loans are backed by the investors’ equity holdings, meaning that they may be compelled to sell when prices fall to repay their debt.

Overall, China has seen more debt growth than any other major industrialized nation since the last recession.  This debt growth has been so dramatic that it has gotten the attention of authorities all over the planet

Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s finance minister says that “debt levels in the global economy continue to give cause for concern.”

Singling out China in particular, Schaeuble noted that “debt has nearly quadrupled since 2007″, adding that it’s “growth appears to be built on debt, driven by a real estate boom and shadow banks.”

According to McKinsey’s research, total outstanding debt in China increased from $US7.4 trillion in 2007 to $US28.2 trillion in 2014. That figure, expressed as a percentage of GDP, equates to 282% of total output, higher than the likes of other G20 nations such as the US, Canada, Germany, South Korea and Australia.

This credit boom in China has been one of the primary engines for “global growth” in recent years, but now conditions are changing.  Eventually, the impact of what is going on in China right now is going to be felt all over the planet.

Over in Europe, the Greek debt crisis is finally coming to a breaking point.  For years, authorities have continued to kick the can down the road and have continued to lend Greece even more money.

But now it appears that patience with Greece has run out.

For instance, the head of the IMF says that no delay will be allowed on the repayment of IMF loans that are due next month…

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde roiled currency and bond markets on Thursday as reports came out of her opening press conference saying that she had denied any payment delay to Greece on IMF loans falling due next month.

Unless Greece concludes its negotiations for a further round of bailout money from the European Union, however, it is not likely to have the money to repay the IMF.

And we are getting reports that things are happening behind the scenes in Europe to prepare for the inevitable moment when Greece will finally leave the euro and go back to their own currency.

For example, consider what Art Cashin told CNBC on Friday

First, “there were reports in the media [saying] that the ECB and/or banking authorities suggested to banks to get rid of any sovereign Greek debt they had, which suggests that maybe the next step will be Greece exiting,” Cashin told CNBC.

Also, one of Greece’s largest newspapers is reporting that neighboring countries are forcing subsidiaries of Greek banks that operate inside their borders to reduce their risk to a Greek debt default to zero

According to a report from Kathimerini, one of Greece’s largest newspapers, central banks in Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have all forced the subsidiaries of Greek banks operating in those countries to bring their exposure to Greek risk — including bonds, treasury bills, deposits to Greek banks, and loans — down to zero.

Once Greece leaves the euro, that is going to create a tremendous credit crunch in Europe as fear begins to spread like wildfire.  Everyone will be wondering which nation will be “the next Greece”, and investors will want to pull their money out of perceived danger zones before they get hammered.

In the past, other European nations have been willing to bend over backwards to accommodate Greece and avoid this kind of mess, but those days appear to be finished.  In fact, the finance minister of France openly admits that the French “are not sympathetic to Greece”

Greece isn’t winning much sympathy from its debt-wracked European counterparts as the country draws closer to default for failing to make bailout repayments.

“We are not sympathetic to Greece,” French Finance Minister Michael Sapin said in an interview at the International Monetary Fund-World Bank spring meetings here.

“We are demanding because Greece must comply with the European (rules) that apply to all countries,” Sapin said.

Yes, it is possible that another short-term deal could be reached which could kick the can down the road for a few more months.

But either way, things in Europe are going to continue to get worse.

Meanwhile, very disappointing earnings reports in the U.S. are starting to really rattle investors.

For example, we just learned that GE lost 13.6 billion dollars in the first quarter…

One week following the announcement that it would dismantle most of its GE Capital financing operations to instead focus on its industrial roots, General Electric reported a first quarter loss of $13.6 billion.

The results were impacted by charges relating to the conglomerate’s strategic shift. A year ago GE reported a first quarter profit of $3 billion.

That is a lot of money.

How in the world does a company lose 13.6 billion dollars in a single quarter during an “economic recovery”?

Other big firms are reporting disappointing earnings numbers too

In earnings news, American Express Co. late Thursday said its results were hurt by the strong U.S. dollar, which reduced revenue booked in other countries. Chief Executive Kenneth Chenault reiterated the company’s forecast that 2015 earnings will be flat to modestly down year over year. Shares fell 4.6%.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. said its first-quarter loss widened as revenue slumped. The company said it was exiting its dense server systems business, effective immediately. Revenue and the loss excluding items missed expectations, pushing shares down 13%.

And just like we saw just before the financial crisis of 2008, Americans are increasingly having difficulty meeting their financial obligations.

For instance, the delinquency rate on student loans has reached a very frightening level

More borrowers are failing to make payments on their student loans five years after leaving college, painting a grim picture for borrowers, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Student debt continues to increase, especially for people who took out loans years ago. Those who left school in the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, had particular difficulty with repayment, with many defaulting, becoming seriously delinquent or not being able to reduce their balances, the New York Fed said today.

Only 37 percent of borrowers are current on their loans and are actively paying them down, and 17 percent are in default or in delinquency.

At this point, the American consumer is pretty well tapped out.  If you can believe it, 56 percent of all Americans have subprime credit today, and as I mentioned above, we just witnessed the biggest spike in credit application rejections ever recorded.

We have reached a point of debt saturation, and the credit crunch that is going to follow is going to be extremely painful.

Of course the biggest provider of global liquidity in recent years has been the Federal Reserve.  But with the Fed pulling back on QE, this is creating some tremendous challenges all over the globe.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the Telegraph

The big worry is what will happen to Russia, Brazil and developing economies in Asia that borrowed most heavily in dollars when the Fed was still flooding the world with cheap liquidity. Emerging markets account to roughly half of the $9 trillion of offshore dollar debt outside US jurisdiction.

The IMF warned that a big chunk of the debt owed by companies is in the non-tradeable sector. These firms lack “natural revenue hedges” that can shield them against a double blow from rising borrowing costs and a further surge in the dollar.

So what is the bottom line to all of this?

The bottom line is that we are starting to see the early phases of a liquidity squeeze.

The flow of credit is going to begin to get tighter, and that means that global economic activity is going to slow down.

This happened during the last financial crisis, and during this next financial crisis the credit crunch is going to be even worse.

This is why it is so important to have an emergency fund.  During this type of crisis, you may have to be the source of your own liquidity.  At a time when it seems like nobody has any cash, those that do have some will be way ahead of the game.

If You Listen Carefully, The Bankers Are Actually Telling Us What Is Going To Happen Next

World From Space - Public DomainAre we on the verge of a major worldwide economic downturn?  Well, if recent warnings from prominent bankers all over the world are to be believed, that may be precisely what we are facing in the months ahead.  As you will read about below, the big banks are warning that the price of oil could soon drop as low as 20 dollars a barrel, that a Greek exit from the eurozone could push the EUR/USD down to 0.90, and that the global economy could shrink by more than 2 trillion dollars in 2015.  Most of the time, very few people ever actually read the things that the big banks write for their clients.  But in recent months, a lot of these bankers are issuing such ominous warnings that you would think that they have started to write for The Economic Collapse Blog.  Of course we have seen this happen before.  Just before the financial crisis of 2008, a lot of people at the big banks started to get spooked, and now we are beginning to see an atmosphere of fear spread on Wall Street once again.  Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next, but an increasing number of experts are starting to agree that it won’t be good.

Let’s start with oil.  Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen a nice rally for the price of oil.  It has bounced back into the low 50s, which is still a catastrophically low level, but it has many hoping for a rebound to a range that will be healthy for the global economy.

Unfortunately, many of the experts at the big banks are now anticipating that the exact opposite will happen instead.  For example, Citibank says that we could see the price of oil go as low as 20 dollars this year…

The recent rally in crude prices looks more like a head-fake than a sustainable turning point — The drop in US rig count, continuing cuts in upstream capex, the reading of technical charts, and investor short position-covering sustained the end-January 8.1% jump in Brent and 5.8% jump in WTI into the first week of February.

Short-term market factors are more bearish, pointing to more price pressure for the next couple of months and beyond — Not only is the market oversupplied, but the consequent inventory build looks likely to continue toward storage tank tops. As on-land storage fills and covers the carry of the monthly spreads at ~$0.75/bbl, the forward curve has to steepen to accommodate a monthly carry closer to $1.20, putting downward pressure on prompt prices. As floating storage reaches its limits, there should be downward price pressure to shut in production.

The oil market should bottom sometime between the end of Q1 and beginning of Q2 at a significantly lower price level in the $40 range — after which markets should start to balance, first with an end to inventory builds and later on with a period of sustained inventory draws. It’s impossible to call a bottom point, which could, as a result of oversupply and the economics of storage, fall well below $40 a barrel for WTI, perhaps as low as the $20 range for a while.

Even though rigs are shutting down at a pace that we have not seen since the last recession, overall global supply still significantly exceeds overall global demand.  Barclays analyst Michael Cohen recently told CNBC that at this point the total amount of excess supply is still in the neighborhood of a million barrels per day…

“What we saw in the last couple weeks is rig count falling pretty precipitously by about 80 or 90 rigs per week, but we think there are more important things to be focused on and that rig count doesn’t tell the whole story.”

He expects to see some weakness going into the shoulder season for demand. In addition, there is an excess supply of about a million barrels of oil a day, he said.

And the truth is that many firms simply cannot afford to shut down their rigs.  Many are leveraged to the hilt and are really struggling just to service their debt payments.  They have to keep pumping so that they can have revenue to meet their financial obligations.  The following comes directly from the Bank for International Settlements

“Against this background of high debt, a fall in the price of oil weakens the balance sheets of producers and tightens credit conditions, potentially exacerbating the price drop as a result of sales of oil assets, for example, more production is sold forward,” BIS said.

“Second, in flow terms, a lower price of oil reduces cash flows and increases the risk of liquidity shortfalls in which firms are unable to meet interest payments. Debt service requirements may induce continued physical production of oil to maintain cash flows, delaying the reduction in supply in the market.”

In the end, a lot of these energy companies are going to go belly up if the price of oil does not rise significantly this year.  And any financial institutions that are exposed to the debt of these companies or to energy derivatives will likely be in a great deal of distress as well.

Meanwhile, the overall global economy continues to slow down.

On Monday, we learned that the Baltic Dry Index has dropped to the lowest level ever.  Not even during the darkest depths of the last recession did it drop this low.

And there are some at the big banks that are warning that this might just be the beginning.  For instance, David Kostin of Goldman Sachs is projecting that sales growth for S&P 500 companies will be zero percent for all of 2015…

“Consensus now forecasts 0% S&P 500 sales growth in 2015 following a 5% cut in revenue forecasts since October. Low oil prices along with FX headwinds and pension charges have weighed on 4Q EPS results and expectations for 2015.”

Others are even more pessimistic than that.  According to Bank of America, the global economy will actually shrink by 2.3 trillion dollars in 2015.

One thing that could greatly accelerate our economic problems is the crisis in Greece.  If there is no compromise and a new Greek debt deal is not reached, there is a very real possibility that Greece could leave the eurozone.

If Greece does leave the eurozone, the continued existence of the monetary union will be thrown into doubt and the euro will utterly collapse.

Of course I am not the only one saying these things.  Analysts at Morgan Stanley are even projecting that the EUR/USD could plummet to 0.90 if there is a “Grexit”…

The Greek Prime Minister has reaffirmed his government’s rejection of the country’s international bailout programme two days before an emergency meeting with the euro area’s finance ministers on Wednesday. His declaration suggested increasing minimum wages, restoring the income tax-free threshold and halting infrastructure privatisations. Should Greece stay firm on its current anti-bailout course and with the ECB not accepting Greek T-bills as collateral, the position of ex-Fed Chairman Greenspan will gain increasing credibility. He forecast the eurozone to break as private investors will withdraw from providing short-term funding to Greece. Greece leaving the currency union would convert the union into a club of fixed exchange rates, a type of ERM III, leading to further fragmentation. Greek Fin Min Varoufakis said the euro will collapse if Greece exits, calling Italian debt unsustainable. Markets may gain the impression that Greece may not opt for a compromise, instead opting for an all or nothing approach when negotiating on Wednesday. It seems the risk premium of Greece leaving EMU is rising. Our scenario analysis suggests a Greek exit taking EURUSD down to 0.90.

If that happens, we could see a massive implosion of the 26 trillion dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to the value of the euro.

We are moving into a time of great peril for global financial markets, and there are a whole host of signs that we are slowly heading into another major global economic crisis.

So don’t be fooled by all of the happy talk in the mainstream media.  They did not see the last crisis coming either.

 

It Is About To Get Ugly: Oil Is Crashing And So Is Greece

Hindenburg Disaster - Public DomainThe price of oil collapsed by more than 8 percent on Wednesday, and a decision by the European Central Bank has Greece at the precipice of a complete and total financial meltdown.  What a difference 24 hours can make.  On Tuesday, things really seemed like they were actually starting to get better.  The price of oil had rallied by more than 20 percent since last Thursday, things in Europe seemed like they were settling down, and there appeared to be a good deal of optimism about how global financial markets would perform this month.  But now fear is back in a big way.  Of course nobody should get too caught up in how the markets behave on any single day.  The key is to take a longer term point of view.  And the fact that the markets have been on such a roller coaster ride over the past few months is a really, really bad sign.  When things are calm, markets tend to steadily go up.  But when the waters start really getting choppy, that is usually a sign that a big move down in on the horizon.  So the huge ups and the huge downs that we have witnessed in recent days are likely an indicator that rough seas are ahead.

A stunning decision that the European Central Bank has just made has set the stage for a major showdown in Europe.  The ECB has decided that it will no longer accept Greek government bonds as collateral from Greek banks.  This gives the European Union a tremendous amount of leverage in negotiations with the new Greek government.  But in the short-term, this could mean some significant pain for the Greek financial system.  The following is how a CNBC article described what just happened…

“The European Central Bank is telling the Greek banking system that it will no longer accept Greek bonds as collateral for any repurchase agreement the Greek banks want to conduct,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said in a note.

“This is because the ECB only accepts investment grade paper and up until today gave Greece a waiver to this clause. That waiver has now been taken away and Greek banks now have to go to the Greek Central Bank and tap their Emergency Liquidity Assistance facility for funding,” he said.

And it certainly didn’t take long for global financial markets to respond to this news

The Greek stock market closed hours ago, but the exchange-traded fund that tracks Greek stocks, GREK, crashed during the final minutes of trading in the US markets.

The euro is also getting walloped, falling 1.3% against the US dollar.

The EUR/USD, which had recovered to almost 1.15, fell to nearly 1.13 on news of the action taken by the ECB.

But this is just the beginning.

In coming months, I fully expect the euro to head toward parity with the U.S. dollar.

And if the new Greek government will not submit to the demands of the EU, and Greece ultimately ends up leaving the common currency, it could potentially mean the end of the eurozone in the configuration that we see it today.

Meanwhile, the oil crash has taken a dangerous new turn.

Over the past week, we have seen the price of oil go from $43.58 to $54.24 to less than 48 dollars before rebounding just a bit at the end of the day on Wednesday.

This kind of erratic behavior is the exact opposite of what a healthy market would look like.

What we really need is a slow, steady climb which would take the price of oil back to at least the $80 level.  In the current range in which it has been fluctuating, the price of oil is going to be absolutely catastrophic for the global economy, and the longer it stays in this current range the more damage that it is going to do.

But of course the problems that we are facing are not just limited to the oil price crash and the crisis in Greece.  The truth is that there are birth pangs of the next great financial collapse all over the place.  We just have to be honest with ourselves and realize what all of these signs are telling us.

And it isn’t just in the western world where people are sounding the alarm.  All over the world, highly educated professionals are warning that a great storm is on the horizon.  The other day, I had an economist in Germany write to me with his concerns.  And in China, the head of the Dagong Rating Agency is declaring that we are going to have to face “a new world financial crisis in the next few years”

The world economy may slip into a new global financial crisis in the next few years, China’s Dagong Rating Agency Head Guan Jianzhong said in an interview with TASS news agency on Wednesday.

“I believe we’ll have to face a new world financial crisis in the next few years. It is difficult to give the exact time but all the signs are present, such as the growing volume of debts and the unsteady development of the economies of the US, the EU, China and some other developing countries,” he said, adding the situation is even worse than ahead of 2008.

For a long time, I have been pointing at the year 2015.  But this year is not going to be the end of anything.  Rather, it is just going to be the beginning of the end.

During the past few years, we have experienced a temporary bubble of false stability fueled by reckless money printing and an unprecedented accumulation of debt.  But instead of fixing anything, those measures have just made the eventual crash even worse.

Now a day of reckoning is fast approaching.

Life as we know it is about to change dramatically, and most people are completely and totally unprepared for it.

There Is Hope In Understanding That A Great Economic Collapse Is Coming

Hope Despair - Public DomainIf you were about to take a final exam, would you have more hope or more fear if you didn’t understand any of the questions and you had not prepared for the test at all?  I think that virtually all of us have had dreams where we show up for an exam that we have not studied for.  Those dreams can be pretty terrifying.  And of course if you were ever in such a situation in real life, you probably did very, very poorly on that test.  The reason I have brought up this hypothetical is to make a point.  My point is that there is hope in understanding what is ahead of us, and there is hope in getting prepared.  Since I started The Economic Collapse Blog back in 2009, there have always been a few people that have accused me of spreading fear.  That frustrates me, because what I am actually doing is the exact opposite of that.  When a hurricane is approaching, is it “spreading fear” to tell people to board up their windows?  Of course not.  In fact, you just might save someone’s life.  Or if you were walking down the street one day and you saw someone that wasn’t looking and was about to step out into the road in front of a bus, what would the rational thing to do be?  Anyone that has any sense of compassion would yell out and warn that other person to stay back.  Yes, that other individual may be startled for a moment, but in the end you will be thanked warmly for saving that person from major injury or worse.  Well, as a nation we are about to be slammed by the hardest times that any of us have ever experienced.  If we care about those around us, we should be sounding the alarm.

Since 2009, I have published 1,211 articles on the coming economic collapse on my website.  Some people assume that I must be filled with worry, bitterness and fear because I am constantly dealing with such deeply disturbing issues.

But that is not the case at all.

There is nothing that I lose sleep over, and I don’t spend my time worrying about anything.  Yes, my analysis of the global financial system has completely convinced me that an absolutely horrific economic collapse is in our future.  But understanding what is happening helps me to calmly make plans for the years ahead, and working hard to prepare for what is coming gives me hope that my family and I will be able to weather the storm.

I do not believe in living my life in a state of fear, and I do not want anything that I write to ever cause fear in my readers.  The ancient Hebrew greeting “Shalom” is roughly translated as “peace” or “completeness”, and that is what we are constantly pursuing in my household.  My wife and I know that incredibly challenging times are coming, but we also know who we are, what our purpose is, and where we are headed.  We also believe that the greatest chapters of our lives are ahead even in the midst of all the chaos that is coming.

When times are the darkest, that is when light is needed the most.  Just think about it.  When you look back over history, what heroes do you admire the most?  If you truly think about it, almost all of those heroes arose during times of great adversity and conflict.

The years ahead can be a time of great adventure for you, or they can seem like hell on Earth.  It all depends on how you respond to your circumstances.

Do you want to know who is going to respond to the years ahead with fear, panic and depression?

The millions of people that have absolutely no idea what is coming and have made absolutely no preparations are going to be absolutely blindsided by the coming economic collapse.  Just like the 1930s, we are going to see people jumping out of windows and jumping in front of trains.  Others will sink into a state of despair so deep that nobody will ever be able to shake them out of it.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Over the past five years I have spent thousands of hours studying the coming economic collapse.  In my articles you can find tens of thousands of facts and statistics that prove that the U.S. economy is hurtling toward oblivion.

It is not always the most pleasant thing to write about, but it is the truth.  And that is what matters.  If you believe that I am wrong, prove it to me.  I work very hard to put out the most accurate information that I possibly can.  So if you can prove that I am wrong, I will change my mind.

But of course that is not going to happen.  As I have stated previously, anyone with half a brain should be able to see that we are living in the greatest debt bubble in human history.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that the “too big to fail” banks are being extraordinarily reckless (derivatives, etc.).  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that our formerly great manufacturing cities are being transformed into crime-infested hellholes.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that the middle class is dying.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that the exact same patterns that led up to the great financial crisis of 2008 are happening again.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that we simply cannot consume far more wealth than we produce as a nation indefinitely.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that the incredibly foolish decisions that our politicians have been making for decades have placed us on a road to utter disaster.

So it doesn’t take anyone special to do what I am doing.  I am just a “watchman on the wall” sounding the alarm the best that I can.  And there are lots of others that are doing the same thing.  We are deeply concerned about where this nation is heading, and we have been pleading with our leaders to do something about it for a long time but they have not listened to us.

Since our leaders just continue doing “business as usual”, there is not going to be a solution to our problems on the national level.

So that is why I am encouraging people to get prepared for the hard times that are coming on a family level and a community level.

Unfortunately, it seems like some people always have an excuse for not getting prepared.  In fact, a few have even gone so far as to accuse me of being “anti-faith” for suggesting that people actually get off their couches and do something to help their families deal with the nightmare on the horizon.  They seem to have the attitude that we should all just sit back and wait for God to do everything for us.

So I am not quite sure why those people get up in the morning and go to work, since they should just “trust God” to deposit paychecks into their banks.  And I am not quite sure why they ever fill up the tanks of their vehicles with gasoline, because they should be able to “trust God” to put more gas there when they need it.

I covered all of this in much more detail in my previous article entitled “Is It ‘Anti-Faith’ To Prepare For The Coming Economic Collapse?

For now, let me just state that what those people are suggesting is the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches.  Trusting God is not about sitting back and doing nothing.  In the Scriptures, we are told that faith is about stepping out and taking action on what God has revealed to us.  That includes working hard, being wise and providing for our families.  For example, just check out Proverbs 6:6-11…

Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise. Which, having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her bread in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.

How long will you sleep, O sluggard? When will you arise out of your sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep— so will your poverty come upon you like a stalker, and your need as an armed man.

In the end, each one of us needs to make the decisions that we feel are best for our own families.

So that is why it is so incredibly important not to let someone else do your thinking for you.

In America today, the average person watches 153 hours of television a month.  In addition to that, we also spend countless hours watching movies, playing video games, listening to music, reading books and surfing the Internet.

What most Americans don’t realize is that there are just six giant corporations that control almost all of that content, and that makes them immensely powerful.

These giant media corporations are constantly manipulating our attitudes, opinions and beliefs.  And at this point most Americans seem quite content to remain “plugged into the matrix” and to allow corrupt corporate executives somewhere to do their thinking for them.

I urge you to break free from that system.

Do your own research and do your own thinking.

Don’t take what I say or what anyone else says as truth without critically examining it yourself.  This can be difficult at first, because in this nation our young people are no longer trained to think critically.  Instead, we are trained to just blindly accept whatever information the system feeds us.

George Orwell once said that “during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act“.

That perfectly describes the era that we are currently living in.

The truth does not bring fear and despair.

Rather, the truth brings hope and it sets people free.

Share the truth with as many people as you can, because we live in a world that desperately needs it.

“I Fear For What’s Coming” – 68 Percent Of Americans Believe The Country Is On The Wrong Track

Family - Photo by Eric WardAre you deeply concerned about the future of America?  Is something in your gut telling you that our system is fundamentally broken and that the mainstream media is not telling you the truth about what is happening?  If so, you are definitely not alone.  Right now, there are millions upon millions of Americans that are absolutely horrified as they watch this nation deteriorate.  In fact, according to an analysis of recent polling data conducted by Real Clear Politics, approximately 68 percent of all Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track and only 23.5 percent of all Americans believe that the country is on the right track.  And of course our problems did not appear just recently.  In fact, many of them are the result of decades of very foolish decisions and they are not going to be fixed easily.  Unfortunately, there is very little consensus among Americans about how to fix any of our problems.  There is more anger, frustration, hatred and division in the United States today than there has been in decades, and there is very little hope that the great storms that are looming on the horizon will be averted.  Those that are wise are preparing for what is coming.  Those that are not are going to be absolutely blindsided by what is rapidly approaching.

Once upon a time, America was the wealthiest nation on the entire globe by a huge margin and it had the largest and most thriving middle class the world had ever seen.  But now America is drowning in the biggest ocean of red ink in the history of the planet and the middle class is being systematically destroyed.

If you read my articles on a regular basis, you already know all of this.  But now there are certain factors that are going to cause the problems of the middle class to greatly accelerate.

For instance, just consider what Obamacare is going to do to millions of American families.

The Foundry recently posted a story that detailed the extreme hardship that Obamacare is going to impose on one middle class family in Sonora, California.  This particular family is very healthy and does not have a history of health problems.  Up until now, they have had a health insurance policy with Anthem Blue Cross Insurance that they have been very happy with.

Back in 2011, this family was paying $389 a month for health insurance.

In 2012, due to changes in California law that figure went up to $499 a month.

Now, this family has just received a letter informing them that their current plan is being canceled and that if they want a new plan it is going to cost them $1,252 a month.

Needless to say, that news did not go over very well with that family.

Just think about it.

Can you come up with an extra $753 a month for health insurance?

Most American families certainly cannot.

Well, Kate Joy and her husband sat down and started trying to figure out how they could squeeze the new health insurance policy into their budget.  It turned out that they would have to cut out a lot of things.  The following is a list of the proposed cuts that they have come up with so far

  • Stop paying the extra payment on my mortgage: $100/month
  • Stop eating out: $150/month
  • Don’t go to the movies: $36/month
  • Switch to getting a haircut every other month: $15/month
  • Stop getting manicures: $40/month
  • Stop monthly charitable donations to Wounded Warrior and Habitat for Humanity: $70/month
  • Stop saving for an annual anniversary getaway: $60/month
  • No Christmas gifts to extended family: $40/month
  • Quit buying beef at the grocery store: $100/month
  • Teeth cleaning only once per year: $30/month
  • Cancel all magazine/newspaper subscriptions: at least $30/month
  • Cut DISH service to cheaper plan: $50/month
  • Cancel land line phone service: $70/month

If they make all of those cuts, it will save the family $791 a month.

Understandably, that family is having a very hard time feeling optimistic about the future right now.  In fact, at the end of the article Kate Joy is quoted as saying the following…

“I fear for what’s coming.”

And of course her family is not the only one that is being absolutely hammered by Obamacare.

In a previous article, I discussed the results of one study which showed that health insurance premiums for men are going to go up by an average of 99 percent under Obamacare and health insurance premiums for women are going to go up by an average of 62 percent under Obamacare.

 

And a different study found that health insurance premiums for healthy 30-year-old men are going to go up by an average of 260 percent under Obamacare.

All of this is going to suck a tremendous amount of “discretionary income” out of the economy.

In addition, millions upon millions of Americans are going to make the choice to go without health insurance altogether.  And considering the level of care that we get in many of these hospitals that is understandable.  For example, the body of 57-year-old Lynne Spalding was recently discovered in a stairwell at San Francisco General Hospital 17 days after she had disappeared from her hospital room.

Those that provide our “health care” don’t care about us as much as they did in the old days.  Instead, the health care industry just wants to get as much money out of us as rapidly as they can and then move on to the next victim.

And of course health care is not the only thing that middle class families have to be concerned about these days.  Our national employment crisis is getting even worse, incomes are shrinking, and Obama is pushing Congress to approve a secret treaty that will ship millions more of our jobs out of the country.

And there are certainly a lot of troubling economic signs as we head toward 2014.  Just consider the following examples…

-Pending home sales in the United States have fallen for five months in a row.

-Machinery giant Caterpillar is reporting negative retail sales growth in every region on the globe.  Historically, the sales growth of Caterpillar has been one of the most important indications of where the economy is headed next.

-Major banks are warning the Federal Reserve that they may have to start charging depositors a fee.  In other words, you may soon have to pay for the “privilege” of putting your money in the bank.

Of course this is just the beginning.  Things are going to get much, much worse in the years ahead as our economy continues to deteriorate.

And as things continue to fall apart, people are going to become a lot more desperate.  To get an idea of what is coming to America, just look at what is happening in Greece.  Some poor people in Greece have become so desperate that they are literally infecting themselves with HIV just so that they can get monthly government payments…

Suicides rose by 17% between 2007 and 2009 and to 25% in 2010, according to unofficial 2010 data (398). The Minister of Health reported a further 40% rise in the first half of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010. Suicide attempts have also increased, particularly among people reporting economic distress (610). Homicide and theft rates have doubled. HIV rates and heroin use have risen significantly, with about half of new HIV infections being self-inflicted to enable people to receive benefits of €700 per month and faster admission on to drug-substitution programmes. Prostitution has also risen, probably as a response to economic hardship. Health care access has declined as hospital budgets have been cut by about 40% (398) and it is estimated that 26 000 public health workers (9100 doctors) will lose their jobs (611). Further cuts are expected as a result of recent negotiations with the IMF and European Central Bank.

If you doubt this, you can find the original report with these findings right here.

A lot of people accuse me of being a “doom and gloomer” for writing articles like this.

A lot of people accuse me of trying to spread worry and fear.

But I do not see it that way at all.

I was recently asked what the number one issue is that has me so worried that it keeps me up at night.

Do you know what my answer was?

“Nothing.”

Nothing that I write about keeps me up at night.

I am not worried about what is coming and I do not believe in giving in to fear.

Rather, I believe that there is hope in understanding what is happening, and I believe that there is hope in getting prepared.

Do you want to know who is going to be totally giving in to worry, fear and despair in the years ahead?

The people that are not getting prepared right now.

Do you want to know who is going to be jumping off the top of tall buildings in the years ahead?

The people that are laughing at articles like this one.

For most adults in America, they primarily define their lives by their jobs, their material possessions and by all of the toys that they have accumulated.  When those things get taken away, we are going to see a national hissy fit that is absolutely unprecedented.

The Republicans are not going to save us from the storm that is coming and neither are the Democrats.

It is coming.

That is why I am urging people to get prepared on an individual basis, a family basis and a community basis.

If you prepare yourself and your family now, you will have a much better chance of surviving the coming storm.  And you will be in much better position to help those that will need your assistance.

If you think back throughout history, most of those that we consider to be the greatest “heroes” emerged during times of great crisis.

Well, another time of great crisis is coming, and this will be a tremendous opportunity for a new generation of heroes to arise.

So do not cower in fear because of what is coming.  Rather, use this time to get prepared for the greatest challenges and the greatest opportunities that you have ever known.

When things are the darkest, that is when the light is needed the most.

Choose to be a light.  America will soon need you greatly.

Mass Carnage: Stocks, Bonds, Gold, Silver, Europe And Japan All Get Pummeled

Car AccidentCan you smell that?  It is the smell of panic in the air.  As I have noted before, when financial markets catch up to economic reality they tend to do so very rapidly.  Normally we don’t see virtually all asset classes get slammed at the same time, but the bucket of cold water that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke threw on global financial markets on Wednesday has set off an epic temper tantrum.  On Thursday, U.S. stocks, European stocks, Asian stocks, gold, silver and government bonds all over the planet all got absolutely shredded.  This is not normal market activity.  Unfortunately, there is nothing “normal” about our financial markets anymore.  Over the past several years they have been grossly twisted and distorted by the Federal Reserve and by the other major central banks around the globe.  Did the central bankers really believe that there wouldn’t be a great price to pay for messing with the markets?  The behavior that we have been watching this week is the kind of behavior that one would expect at the beginning of a financial panic.  Dick Bove, the vice president of equity research at Rafferty Capital Markets, told CNBC that what we are witnessing right now “is not normal. It is not normal for all markets to move in the same direction at the same point in time due to the same development.”  The overriding emotion in the financial world right now is fear.  And fear can cause investors to do some crazy things.  So will global financial markets continue to drop, or will things stabilize for now?  That is a very good question.  But even if there is a respite for a while, it will only be temporary.  More carnage is coming at some point.

What we have witnessed this week very much has the feeling of a turning point.  The euphoria that drove the Dow well over the 15,000 mark is now gone, and investors all over the planet are going into crisis mode.  The following is a summary of the damage that was done on Thursday…

-U.S. stocks had their worst day of the year by a good margin.  The Dow fell 354 points, and that was the biggest one day drop that we have seen since November 2011.  Overall, the Dow has lost more than 550 points over the past two days.

-Thursday was the eighth trading day in a row that we have seen a triple digit move in the Dow either up or down.  That is the longest such streak since October 2011.

-The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries went as high as 2.47% before settling back to 2.42%.  That was a level that we have not seen since August 2011, and the 10 year yield is now a full point above the all-time low of 1.4% that we saw back in July 2012.

– The yield on 30 year U.S. Treasuries hit 3.53 percent on Thursday.  That was the first time it had been that high since September 2011.

-The CBOE Volatility Index jumped 28 percent on Thursday.  It hit 20.49, and this was the first time in 2013 that it has risen above 20.  When volatility rises, that means that the markets are getting stressed.

-European stocks got slammed too.  The Bloomberg Europe 500 index fell more than 3 percent on Thursday.  It was the worst day for European stocks in 20 months.

-In London, the FTSE fell about 3 percent.  In Germany, the DAX fell 3.3 percent.  In France, the CAC-40 fell 3.7 percent.

-Things continue to get even worse in Japan.  The Nikkei has fallen close to 17 percent over the past month.

-Brazilian stocks have fallen by about 15 percent over the past month.

-On Thursday the price of gold got absolutely hammered.  Gold was down nearly $100 an ounce.  As I am writing this, it is trading at $1273.60.

-Silver got slammed even more than gold did.  It fell more than 8 percent.  At the moment it is trading at $19.57.  That is ridiculously low.  I have a feeling that anyone that gets into silver now is going to be extremely happy in the long-term if they are able to handle the wild fluctuations in the short-term.

-Manufacturing activity in China is contracting at a rate that we haven’t seen since the middle of the last recession.

-For the week ending June 15th, initial claims for unemployment benefits in the United States rose by about 18,000 from the previous week to 354,000.  This is a number that investors are going to be watching closely in the months ahead.

Needless to say, Thursday was the type of day that investors don’t see too often.  The following is what one stock trader told CNBC

“It’s freaking, crazy now,” said one stock trader during the 3 p.m. ET hour as the Dow sunk more than 350 points. “Even defensive sectors are getting smoked. The super broad-based sell off between commodities, bonds, equities – I wouldn’t say it’s panic, but we’ve seen aggressive selling on the lows.”

Unfortunately, this may just be the beginning.

In fact, Mark J. Grant has suggested that we may see even more panic in the short-term…

Yesterday was the first day of the reversal. There will be more days to come.

What you are seeing, in the first instance, is leverage coming off the table. With short term interest rates right off of Kelvin’s absolute Zero there was been massive leverage utilized in both the bond and equity markets. While it cannot be quantified I can tell you, dealing with so many institutional investors, that the amount of leverage on the books is giant and is now going to get covered. It will not be pretty and it will be a rush through the exit doors as the fire alarm has been pulled by the Fed and the alarms are ringing. There is also an additional problem here.

The Street is not what it was. There is not enough liquidity in the major Wall Street banks, any longer, to deal with the amount of securities that will be thrown at them and I expect the down cycle to get exacerbated by this very real issue. Bernanke is no longer at the gate and the Barbarians are going to be out in force.

If we see global interest rates start to shift in a major way, that is going to be huge.

Why?

Well, it is because there are literally hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of interest rate derivatives contracts sitting out there…

The interest rate derivatives market is the largest derivatives market in the world. The Bank for International Settlements estimates that the notional amount outstanding in June 2009 were US$437 trillion for OTC interest rate contracts, and US$342 trillion for OTC interest rate swaps. According to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, 80% of the world’s top 500 companies as of April 2003 used interest rate derivatives to control their cashflows. This compares with 75% for foreign exchange options, 25% for commodity options and 10% for stock options.

If interest rates begin to swing wildly, that could burst the derivatives bubble that I keep talking about.

And when that house of cards starts falling, we are going to see panic that is going to absolutely dwarf anything that we have seen this week.

So keep watching interest rates, and keep listening for any mention of a problem with “derivatives” in the mainstream media.

When the next great financial crash comes, global credit markets are going to freeze up just like they did in 2008.  That will cause economic activity to grind to a standstill and a period of deflation will be upon us.  Yes, the way that the Federal Reserve and the federal government respond to such a crisis will ultimately cause tremendous inflation, but as I have written about before, deflation will come first.

It would be wise to build up your emergency fund while you still can.  When the next great financial crisis fully erupts a lot of people are going to lose their jobs and for a while it will seem like hardly anyone has any extra money.  If you have stashed some cash away, you will be in better shape than most people.

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