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Top Financial Expert Warns Stocks Need To Drop ‘Between 30 And 40 Percent’ As Bankruptcy Looms For Toys R Us

Will there be a major stock market crash before the end of 2017?  To many of us, it seems like we have been waiting for this ridiculous stock market bubble to burst for a very long time.  The experts have been warning us over and over again that stocks cannot keep going up like this indefinitely, and yet this market has seemed absolutely determined to defy the laws of economics.  But most people don’t remember that we went through a similar thing before the financial crisis of 2008 as well.  I recently spoke to an investor that shorted the market three years ahead of that crash.  In the end his long-term analysis was right on the money, but his timing was just a bit off, and the same thing will be true with many of the experts this time around.

On Monday, I was quite stunned to learn what Brad McMillan had just said about the market.  He is considered to be one of the brightest minds in the financial world, and he told CNBC that stocks would need to fall “somewhere between 30 and 40 percent just to get to fair value”…

Brad McMillan — who counsels independent financial advisors representing $114 billion in assets under management — told CNBC on Monday that the stock market is way overvalued.

The market probably would have to drop somewhere between 30 and 40 percent to get to fair value, based on historical standards,” said McMillan, chief investment officer at Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Financial Network.

McMillan’s analysis is very similar to mine.  For a long time I have been warning that valuations would need to decline by at least 40 or 50 percent just to get back to the long-term averages.

And stock valuations always return to the long-term averages eventually.  Only this time the bubble has been artificially inflated so greatly that a return to the long-term averages will be absolutely catastrophic for our system.

Meanwhile, trouble signs for the real economy continue to erupt.  As noted in the headline, it appears that Toys R Us is on the brink of bankruptcy

Toys R Us has hired restructuring lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis to help address looming $400 million in debt due in 2018, CNBC had previously reported, noting that bankruptcy was one potential outcome.

Kirkland declined to comment.

Earlier Monday, Reorg Research, a news service focused on bankruptcy and distressed debt, reported Toys R Us could file for bankruptcy as soon as Monday.

This is yet another sign that 2017 is going to be the worst year for retail store closings in U.S. history.  I don’t know how anyone can look at what is happening to the retail industry (or the auto industry for that matter) and argue that the U.S. economy is in good shape.

But most Americans seem to base their opinions on how the economy is doing by how well the stock market is performing, and thanks to relentless central bank intervention, stock prices have just kept going up and up and up.

In so many ways, what we are watching today is a replay of the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s, and this is something that McMillan also commented on during his discussion with CNBC…

Part of McMillan’s thesis is rooted in his belief that the lofty levels of the so-called FANG stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet — seem reminiscent of the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s.

“I’ve been saying for about the past year, this year looks a lot like 1999 to me,” McMillan said on “Squawk Box.” “If you look at the underlying economics [and] if look at the stock market, the similarities are remarkable.”

I am amazed that so many big names continue to issue extremely ominous warnings about the financial markets, and yet most Americans seem completely unconcerned.

It is almost as if 2008 never happened.  None of our long-term problems were fixed after that crisis, and the current bubble that we are facing is far larger than the bubble that burst back then.

I don’t know why more people can’t see these things.  It has gotten to a point where “even Goldman Sachs is getting worried”

The stock market bubble is now so massive that even Goldman Sachs is getting worried.

Let’s be clear here: Wall Street does best and makes the most money when stocks are roaring higher. So in order for a major Wall Street firm like Goldman to start openly worrying about whether or not the markets are going to crash, there has to be truly MASSIVE trouble brewing.

On that note, Goldman’s Bear Market indicator just hit levels that triggered JUST BEFORE THE LAST TWO MARKET CRASHES.

When things fall apart this time, it is going to be even worse than what we went through in 2008.  In the aftermath, we are going to need people that understand that we need to fundamentally redesign how our system works, and that is something that I hope to help with.  We cannot base our financial system on a pyramid of debt, and we cannot allow Wall Street to operate like a giant casino.  Our entire economy has essentially become a colossal Ponzi scheme, and it is inevitable that it is going to come horribly crashing down at some point.

But for now, the blind continue to lead the blind, and most Americans are not going to wake up until we have gone over the edge.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Dow Falls 274 Points As ‘Eclipse Fever’ Hits The Financial Markets

Have we now entered a time of major financial shaking?  On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 274 points.  The was the largest decline for the Dow since May, and high yield bonds were down dramatically as well.  Many are blaming the terror attack in Barcelona and “instability in the White House” for the downturn, but could “eclipse fever” also be a factor?  The closer that we get to the solar eclipse on August 21st, the weirder people seem to be getting.  You will see what I am talking about below.

But first let’s talk about the financial markets.  I have been warning that stocks are massively overvalued for quite a while now, and it turns out that the Federal Reserve very much agrees with me

“Since the April assessment, vulnerabilities associated with asset valuation pressures had edged up from notable to elevated, as asset prices remained high or climbed further, risk spreads narrowed, and expected and actual volatility remained muted in a range of financial markets.”

Even the Fed is warning that we are in a bubble, and it is just a matter of time until that bubble bursts.

And anyone that is paying attention should be able to see the red flags all around us.  In fact, we have just witnessed the most “Hindenburg Omens” that we have seen since November 2007.  The technical indicators are absolutely screaming that a major downturn is dead ahead, and John P. Hussman is encouraging everyone to be cautious and to “consider watching from a safe location”…

Given obscene valuations, lopsided bullishness, and (importantly) clearly deteriorating internals, consider watching from a safe location.

We shall see what happens, but I tend to very much agree with Hussman.

Meanwhile, the closer that we get to August 21st, the crazier people seem to be getting.  The following comes from USA Today

As citizen scientists collectively nerd-out ahead of Monday’s total solar eclipse, rogue observers of the spooky and weird are generating theories that the celestial event could usher in aliens, boost sightings of “interdimensional” creatures and perhaps even plunge us toward world destruction.

None of those things are going to happen, but there are some very odd things about this eclipse that are definitely worth noting.

In a previous article, I noted that the first major city in the United States that the eclipse will cross is named Salem.  Well, it turns out that the eclipse will actually cross a total of seven cities named Salem, and of course “Salem” is short for “Jerusalem”.

I also find it very interesting how much the number “33” is associated with this eclipse.  The following are just a few examples

This solar eclipse is highly unusual for so many reasons and it occurs just 33 days before what may very well be the Great Sign.  It begins in the 33rd state, ends at the 33rd parallel, and occurs on the 233rd day of the year, which is 33 weeks and 2 days into 2017.  The eclipse will take 1 hour and 33 minutes to cross the country and occurs 133 days (inclusive) before the end of 2017.

And of course this solar eclipse begins a period of 40 days which will end with Yom Kippur on September 30th.  The following is an excerpt from a Charisma News article authored by Ron Allen which I think has some really good insights…

Teshuvah, the 40-day Jewish season of repentance, literally means to return to the presence of God, and is a time of introspection and a reminder of judgment. It begins on the first day of the sixth month known an Elul, and the solar eclipses that occur on Teshuvah add to the meaning of Teshuvah. The Teshuvah eclipses are signs of coming judgment, like the Trumpets eclipses, but they are also signs of unity in the presence of God. Thus, the Teshuvah eclipses are both an invitation to return to God and a warning of judgment.

During the totality of the eclipse, the sky will become dark and the stars will become visible. Right next to the eclipse, only 1.5 degrees away, the brightest star in the judgment constellation Leo (the lion), Regulus (treading under foot) reminds us that Christ, the lion of Judah, will put His enemies under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25). Southeast of the eclipse, the planet Mercury, the morning star laid low symbolic of Satan, will appear under the feet of Leo, adding to the warning of judgment.

So is this solar eclipse actually a warning that America should repent?

Many Christian leaders all over the nation believe that this is the case.  In fact, Billy Graham’s own daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, is one of them

In light of Ezekiel 33:1-6 that commands a watchman to be faithful to warn others of the danger coming against the land, I feel compelled to issue the warning once again. The warning is triggered by the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, nicknamed “America’s Eclipse.” For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will be seen from coast to coast in our nation. People are preparing to mark this significant event with viewing parties at exclusive prime sites. The celebratory nature regarding the eclipse brings to my mind the Babylonian King Belshazzar, who threw a drunken feast the night the Medes and Persians crept under the city gate. While Belshazzar and his friends partied, they were oblivious to the impending danger. Belshazzar wound up dead the next day, and the Babylonian empire was destroyed.

I do not know what will happen before, during or after the eclipse, but I do know that America is in very deep trouble.

If we continue on the path that we are currently on, there is no future for our nation.

Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t listening to the warnings.  Most people simply assume that America is far too powerful to ever fall, and they see absolutely no reason why we need to change our ways.

Hopefully we can get America to wake up, because time is rapidly running out.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Dow Closes At A Record High For The 9th Straight Time But Experts Warn That A Stock Market Crash Could Be Imminent

The bigger they come, the harder they fall.  On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high for the ninth straight session.  It has been a remarkable run, but many experts are pointing out that big trouble is brewing under the surface.  As you will see below, 79 components of the S&P 500 have already dropped more than 20 percent below their 52-week highs, and it is mostly just a handful of high flying tech stocks that are still propping up the market at this point.  Over the past several weeks, I have been documenting so many of the prominent voices that are loudly warning about an imminent stock market crash, and in this article you will hear some more of these warnings.  There is no way that stock prices can keep going up like this, and when the inevitable correction does arrive it is going to be exceedingly painful for millions of investors.

When the market is about to turn in a major way, one of the key things to watch is market breadth, and according to Brad Lamensdorf market breadth has now turned “exceedingly negative”

Market breadth, a measure of how many stocks are rising versus the number that are dropping, has turned “exceedingly negative,” according to Brad Lamensdorf, a portfolio manager at Ranger Alternative Management. Lamensdorf writes the Lamensdorf Market Timing Report newsletter and runs the AdvisorShares Ranger Equity Bear ETF HDGE, -0.70% an exchange-traded fund that “shorts” stocks, or bets that they will fall.

“As the indexes continue to produce a series of higher highs, subsurface conditions are painting an entirely different picture,” Lamensdorf wrote in the latest edition of the newsletter.

When Lamensdorf uses the phrase “exceedingly negative”, he is not exaggerating at all.  As I mentioned above, 79 components of the S&P 500 are already in a bear market

According to an analysis of FactSet data, 79 components of the S&P 500 are trading at least 20% below their 52-week high; a bear market is typically defined as a 20% drop from a peak.

Another key measure that I like to keep my eye on is Robert Shiller’s cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio.  At this point, it is roughly at the same level as it was just before the stock market crash of 1929, and the only time it has been higher was during the peak of the dotcom bubble.

This is why so many investors are making extremely large bets that a major correction is imminent.  History tells us that stocks are likely to only go down from here.  And when stocks do start falling, the price action could become quite violent.  In fact, Barry James is comparing this current market to the Yellowstone supervolcano

Warning: A correction in the market is “inevitable” and there are three key factors that could spark chaos on Wall Street, according to James Advantage Fund president Barry James.

The investor likened the market to Yellowstone National Park’s famous supervolcano, which many believe is close to eruption.

Of course not everyone agrees with James.  Michael Wilson of Morgan Stanley insists that everything is just fine and that “there continues to be a level of skepticism that seems out of whack with what is actually happening”.

In the end, we will see how the coming months play out.

Over the past several years, there have been two primary trends that have been relentlessly driving up stock prices.  One of these trends has been an unprecedented level of stock buybacks.  And so far this year, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of stock buybacks have already been announced

Through May, some $390 billion in buybacks have been announced this year, $13 billion more than at this time in 2016, according to figures compiled by Jeffrey Yale Rubin at Birinyi Associates, a stock market research firm.

June 28 was the biggest single buyback announcement day in history. That was when 26 banks disclosed buybacks worth $92.8 billion, largely a response to having just passed the stress tests administered by the Federal Reserve Board. That figure blew past the previous record of $56.4 billion announced on July 20, 2006.

Secondly, central banks have been pumping trillions upon trillions of dollars into the global financial system, and this has perhaps been the biggest reason for the surge in stock prices.  But now central banks are starting to pull back, and that could mean big trouble very soon.  The following comes from Matt King

With asset prices displaying a high degree of correlation with central bank liquidity additions in recent years, that feedback loop makes the economy, upon which both corporate profitability and bank net interest margins depend, more reliant on central banks holding markets together than almost ever before. That delicate balance may well be sustained for the time being. But with central banks beginning to move, however gingerly, towards an exit, is it really worth chasing the last few bp of spread from here?

Throughout our history we have seen financial bubbles come and go, but we never seen to learn from our mistakes.  Right now, Warren Buffett is sitting on nearly 100 billion dollars in cash in anticipation of being able to buy up financial assets for a song after a crash happens, but meanwhile multitudes of ordinary Americans continue to pour vast quantities of money into stocks even at such absurd valuations.

Despite all of the warnings, many will be caught unprepared when the music stops playing.  Just like all of the other financial manias in our history, this one will come to a bitter end too.  The following comes from the New York Times

In the late 1960s the mania was for the “nifty 50” American companies like Disney and McDonald’s, which had been the “go-go” stocks of that decade. In the late 1970s it was for natural resources, from gold to oil. In the late 1980s it was stocks in Japan, and in the late 1990s it was the dot-com boom. Last decade, investors flocked to mortgage-backed securities and big emerging markets from Brazil to Russia. In every case, many partygoers were still in the market when the crash came.

In life, timing is everything, and those that got out of the market in time are going to end up being very happy that they did so.

But those that stay in too long are going to see their “paper wealth” disappear in a blinding flash, and there won’t be any way to get it back once it is gone.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Remember This Milestone: The Dow Jones Industrial Average Hits 22,000 For The First Time In U.S. History

The Dow hit the 22,000 mark for the first time ever on Wednesday, and investors all over the world greatly celebrated.  And without a doubt this is an exceedingly important moment, because I think that this is a milestone that we will be remembering for a very long time.  So far this year the Dow is up over 11 percent, and it has now tripled in value since hitting a low in March 2009.  It has been quite a ride, and if you would have told me a couple of years ago that the Dow would be hitting 22,000 in August 2017 I probably would have laughed at you.  The central bankers have been able to keep this ridiculous stock market bubble going for longer than most experts dreamed possible, and for that they should be congratulated.  But of course the long-term outlook for our financial markets has not changed one bit.

Every other stock market bubble of this magnitude in our history has ended with a crash, and this current bubble is going to suffer the same fate.

But many in the mainstream media are still encouraging people to jump into the market at this late hour.  For example, the following comes from a USA Today article that was published on Wednesday…

“It’s still not too late to get in,” says Jeff Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab, based in San Francisco. “The gains are firmly rooted in business fundamentals, not false hopes.”

I honestly don’t know how anyone could say such a thing with a straight face.  We have essentially been in a “no growth economy” for the past decade, and signs of a new economic slowdown are all around us.

But even though price/earnings ratios and price/sales ratios are at some of the highest levels in history, some analysts insist that the stock market still has more room to go up

On the flip side, investors with time to ride out any short-term market storm should not rule out getting in the market now. Economies around the globe are improving and are boosting the profitability of corporations in the U.S. and abroad, says Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Financial Partners in Charlotte, N.C.

Zaccarelli won’t even rule out Dow 25,000 by the end of 2018.

Personally, I believe that it is far more likely that we would see Dow 15,000 by the end of 2018, but over the past couple of years the bulls have been right over and over again.

But the only reason why the bulls have been right is because of unprecedented intervention by global central banks.

Today, the Swiss National Bank owns more than a billion dollars worth of stock in each of the following companies: Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Exxon Mobil, Johnson & Johnson and Facebook.

So where does a central bank like the Swiss National Bank get the money to purchase all of these equities?

It’s easy – they just print the money out of thin air.  As Robert Wenzel has noted, they simply “print the francs, exchange them for dollars and make the purchases”.

If I could create as much money as I wanted out of thin air and use it to buy stocks I could relentlessly drive up stock prices too.

Our financial markets have become a giant charade, and central bank intervention is the biggest reason why FAANG stocks have vastly outperformed the rest of the market.  The following comes from David Stockman

Needless to say, the drastic market narrowing of the last 30 months has been accompanied by soaring price/earnings (PE) multiples among the handful of big winners. In the case of the so-called FAANGs + M (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft), the group’s weighted average PE multiple has increased by some 50%.

The degree to which the casino’s speculative mania has been concentrated in the FAANGs + M can also be seen by contrasting them with the other 494 stocks in the S&P 500. The market cap of the index as a whole rose from $17.7 trillion in January 2015 to some $21.2 trillion at present, meaning that the FAANGs + M account for about 40% of the entire gain.

Stated differently, the market cap of the other 494 stocks rose from $16.0 trillion to $18.1 trillion during that 30-month period. That is, 13% versus the 82% gain of the six super-momentum stocks.

If global central banks continue to buy millions of shares with money created out of thin air, they may be able to keep this absurd bubble going for a while longer.

But if the Fed and other central banks start pulling back, we could see a market tantrum of epic proportions.  In fact, almost every single time throughout history when the Federal Reserve has attempted a balance sheet reduction it has resulted in a recession

The Fed has embarked on six such reduction efforts in the past — in 1921-1922, 1928-1930, 1937, 1941, 1948-1950 and 2000.

Of those episodes, five ended in recession, according to research from Michael Darda, chief economist and market strategist at MKM Partners. The balance sheet trend mirrors what has happened much of the time when the Fed has tried to raise rates over a prolonged period of time, with 10 of the last 13 tightening cycles ending in recession.

“Moreover, outside of the 1920s and 1930s, there is no precedent for double-digit annual declines in the balance sheet/base that will likely begin to occur late next year,” Darda said in a note.

President Trump is going to get a lot of credit if the stock market keeps going up and he is going to get a lot of blame if it starts going down.

But the truth is that he actually has very little to do with what is really going on.

This stock market bubble was created by the central banks, and they also have the power to kill it if they desire to do so.

And once this bubble bursts, we may be looking at a crisis that makes 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

Goldman Sachs and others are already warning that this stock market rally is on borrowed time.  Let’s hope that it can continue at least for a little while longer, but in the end there is no possible way that this story is going to end well.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Goldman Sachs Says That There Is A 99 Percent Chance That Stock Prices Will Not Keep Going Up Like This

Analysts at Goldman Sachs are saying that it is next to impossible for stock prices to keep going up like they have been recently.  Ever since Donald Trump’s surprise election victory in November, stocks have been on a tremendous run, but this surge has not been matched by a turnaround in the real economy.  We have essentially had a “no growth” economy for most of the past decade, and ominous signs pointing to big trouble ahead are all around us.  The only reason why stocks have been able to perform so well is due to unprecedented intervention by global central banks, but they are not going to be able to keep inflating this bubble forever.  At some point this absolutely enormous bubble will burst and investors will lose trillions of dollars.

The only other times we have seen stock valuations at these levels were just before the stock market crash of 1929 and just before the dotcom bubble burst in 2000.  For those that think that they can jump into the markets now and make a lot of money from rapidly rising stock prices, I think that it would be wise to consider what analysts at Goldman Sachs are telling us.  The following is from a CNBC article that was published on Monday…

Investors may be in for disappointing market returns in the decade to come with valuations at levels this high, if history is any indication.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs pointed out that annualized returns on the S&P 500 10 years out were in the single digits or negative 99 percent of the time when starting with valuations at current levels.

Do you really want to try to fight those odds?

Unfortunately, it appears that is precisely what a lot of investors are planning to do.  In fact, Schwab says that they are opening new accounts “at levels we have not seen since the Internet boom of the late 1990s”

New accounts are at levels we have not seen since the Internet boom of the late 1990s, up 34% over the first half of last year. But maybe more important for the long-term growth of the organization is not so much new accounts, but new-to-firm households, and our new-to-firm retail households were up 50% over that same period from 2016.

And a different survey found that Millennial investors in particular are eager to pour money into the stock market

Furthermore, according to a June survey from Legg Mason, nearly 80% of millennial investors plan to take on more risk this year, with 66% of them expressing an interest in equities. About 45% plan to take on “much more risk” in their portfolios.

One of the fundamental tenets of investing is to buy low and sell high.  Those that are getting in at the peak of the market are going to get absolutely slaughtered.  Trillions of dollars of paper wealth will be completely wiped out by the coming crash, and I wish that I could get more people to understand what is about to happen.

I recently wrote about how some really big investors are betting millions upon millions of dollars that a major stock market crash is going to happen in the very near future.  The financial markets are far more primed for a crash than they were in 2008, and there are certainly a lot of potential “black swan events” that could push us over the edge.  In his most recent article, Simon Black listed some of the things that he is currently watching…

– North Korea is threatening to nuke the US
– Donald Trump is firing his entire cabinet
– The Federal Reserve has dropped interest rates to record lows and drowned the world in trillions of dollars of cash
– Debt levels are at record highs
– Entire banking systems, especially in Europe, are in need of massive bailouts
– The US government will run out of money in less than 90-days and hit the debt ceiling once again

You only make money in the stock market if you get out in time.  And since just before the crisis of 2008 I have never seen so many prominent names in the financial community warn about a coming stock market crash as I have over the last 90 days.  For example, legendary investor Jim Rogers is warning that there will almost certainly be a crash “this year or the next”, and that it will be “the worst in your lifetime and my lifetime”

The best-selling author expects the next financial crisis to be the “worst” he has ever seen.

“We’ve had economic problems in the U.S. or in North America every four to eight years since the beginning of the Republic so to say that we’re going to have a problem is not unusual,” he told Kitco News from the Freedom Fest conference in Las Vegas.

“I would expect it to start this year or the next…and it’s going to be the worst in your lifetime and my lifetime.”

What goes up must come down, and markets tend to go down a whole lot faster than they go up.

And in the environment that we are in today, caution is a very good thing.  I really like how billionaire Howard Marks put this the other day…

I think it’s better to turn cautious too soon (and thus perhaps underperform for a while) rather than too late, after the downslide has begun, making it hard to trim risk, achieve exits and cut losses.

Perhaps this will be the first giant financial bubble in our history to end smoothly, but I wouldn’t count on it.

In the end, I expect this one to end just like all of the others.  And I anticipate that the coming crisis will ultimately be worse than anything we have ever faced before because this current bubble has been artificially inflated for so long.

Hopefully stock prices will go up again tomorrow, but it would be exceedingly foolish to ignore all of the warnings.  Goldman Sachs says that there is a 99 percent chance that stocks cannot continue surging like this, and in this case I believe that Goldman Sachs is entirely correct.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Central Banks Now Own Stocks And Bonds Worth Trillions – And They Could Crash The Markets By Selling Them

Have you ever wondered why stocks just seem to keep going up no matter what happens?  For years, financial markets have been behaving in ways that seem to defy any rational explanation, but once you understand the role that central banks have been playing everything begins to make sense.  In the aftermath of the great financial crisis of 2008, global central banks began to buy stocks, bonds and other financial assets in very large quantities and they haven’t stopped since.  In fact, as you will see below, global central banks are on pace to buy 3.6 trillion dollars worth of stocks and bonds this year alone.  At this point, the Swiss National Bank owns more publicly-traded shares of Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg does, and the Bank of Japan is now a top-five owner in 81 different large Japanese firms.  These global central banks are shamelessly pumping up global stock markets, but because they now have such vast holdings they could also cause a devastating global stock market crash simply by starting to sell off their portfolios.

Over the years I have often been asked about the “plunge protection team”, but the truth is that global central banks are the real “plunge protection team”.  If stocks start surging higher on any particular day for seemingly no reason, it is probably the work of a central bank.  Because they can inject billions of dollars into the markets whenever they want, that essentially allows them to “play god” and move the markets in any direction that they please.

But of course what they have done is essentially destroy the marketplace.  A “free market” for stocks basically no longer exists because of all this central bank manipulation.  I really like how Bruce Wilds made this point

One indication of just how messed up and flawed the global markets have become is reflected in the way central banks across the world are now buying stocks. This has become a part of their response to correcting the forces of past excesses. Their incursion into this bastion of the free markets signals we have entered the era where true price discovery no longer exists. The central banks are often viewed as price-insensitive buyers, so this incestuous influx of money is in some ways the ultimate distortion.

According to Business Insider, global central banks are on pace to purchase an astounding 3.6 trillion dollars in stocks and bonds in 2017.

Overall, the five largest global central banks now collectively have 14.6 trillion dollars in assets on their balance sheets.

You can call this a lot of things, but it certainly isn’t free market capitalism.

The Swiss National Bank is one of the biggest offenders.  During just the first three months of this year, it bought 17 billion dollars worth of U.S. stocks, and that brought the overall total that the Swiss National Bank is currently holding to more than $80 billion.

Have you ever wondered why shares of Apple just seem to keep going up and up and up?

Well, the Swiss National Bank bought almost 4 million shares of Apple during the months of January, February and March.

And as I mentioned above, the Swiss National Bank now owns more publicly-traded shares in Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg”

Switzerland’s central bank now owns more publicly-traded shares in Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg, part of a mushrooming stock portfolio that is likely to grow yet further.

The tech giant’s founder and CEO has other ways to control his company: Zuckerberg holds most of his stake in a different class of stock. Nevertheless this example illustrates how the Swiss National Bank has become a multi-billion-dollar equity investor due to its campaign to hold down the Swiss franc.

It is now the world’s eighth-biggest public investor, data from the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum show.

But as shameless as the Swiss National Bank has been, the Bank of Japan is even worse.

Today, the Nikkei is essentially a giant sham.  The Bank of Japan regularly goes in and just starts buying up everything in sight, and according to Bloomberg they are on pace to become the largest shareholder in dozens of the most prominent Japanese corporations by the end of 2017…

Already a top-five owner of 81 companies in Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average, the BOJ is on course to become the No. 1 shareholder in 55 of those firms by the end of next year, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg from the central bank’s exchange-traded fund holdings.

If global central banks have the power to pump up these markets, they also have the power to crash them.

Why would they want to do such a thing?

I can answer that question with just two words…

Donald Trump.

If the Comey angle doesn’t work, the elite could try to destroy Trump by engineering an absolutely devastating stock market crash.  Close to half the U.S. population dislikes Trump anyway, and so it would be fairly easy to get them to believe that Trump’s policies have caused a new financial crisis.  Of course that would be complete nonsense, but in our society today the truth often doesn’t really matter.

And without a doubt, evidence continues to mount that the real economy is starting to slow down substantially.  For example, we just learned that bankruptcies surged once again in May.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

So here we go again. Total US business bankruptcies in May rose 4.7% year-over-year to 3,572 filings, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. That’s up 40% from May 2015 and up 10% from May 2014.

And there’s another concern: Bankruptcy filings are highly seasonal. They peak in tax season – March or April – and then fall off. The decline in April after the peak in March was within that seasonal pattern. Over the past years, filings dropped in May. But not this year.

Without unprecedented intervention by global central banks, financial markets would have crashed long ago.

And if they keep increasing their purchases of stocks and bonds, the central banks may be able to prop things up for a while longer.

Who knows?  Perhaps with enough financial engineering they would be able to keep this bubble going for years.  Of course things would start to get really awkward once they eventually owned virtually everything, but I have a feeling that things will never get that far.

I have a feeling that global central banks will eventually find an excuse to start “unwinding their balance sheets”, and I have a feeling that it will be at a time that is highly inconvenient for President Trump.

Will The Wealthy Race To Dump Stocks And Other Financial Assets Before The Fiscal Cliff Kicks In?

The election results made it abundantly clear that taxes are going to be going up, and right now a lot of wealthy people all over America are trying to figure out how to best position themselves for the hit that is coming.  There are a whole host of tax cuts that are set to expire on December 31st, and many analysts are now speculating that we could see a race to dump stocks and other financial assets before 2013 in order to get better tax treatment on those sales.  Of course it is still possible that Congress may reach a bargain which would avoid these tax increases, but with each passing day that appears to be increasingly unlikely – especially regarding the tax increases on the wealthy.  Whatever you may believe about this politically, the truth is that we should all be able to agree that these looming tax increases provide an incentive for wealthy people to sell off financial assets now rather than later.  After all, there are very few people out there that would actually prefer to pay higher taxes on purpose.  If the race to dump financial assets becomes a landslide, could this push stocks down significantly late in the year?  Already there are all sorts of technical signs that indicate that stocks are ready for a “correction” at the very least.  For example, the S&P 500 has already closed below its 200 day moving average for several days in a row.  Could the “sell off” that has already begun become a race for the exits?

A lot of Americans have heard about the looming “fiscal cliff”, but most don’t really understand the specifics.

For investors, there are several key changes which will happen unless Congress does something by January 1st.

First of all, the tax rate on capital gains will go from 15 percent to 20 percent.  For those with high incomes, the rate will be even higher than that thanks to a tax increase that our politicians managed to sneak into Obamacare.  So, some wealthy individuals will see their capitals gains taxed at nearly 24 percent in 2013 unless something is done.

For dividends, the outlook is even more frightening.  The tax rate on dividends will increase from 15 percent right now to over 43 percent for the highest income earners.

We have already seen these tax increases play into business decisions that have been made in recent months.  For example, it is being reported that George Lucas potentially saved hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes by selling Star Wars to Disney this year rather than next year.

Anyone out there that wants to take advantage of the current tax rates on capital gains and dividend income better do so now, because these tax rates look like they are going to go away and they probably will not be back for a very, very long time.

According to CNBC, this makes the next couple of months an ideal time to dump stocks and other financial assets…

For many of the wealthy, 2012 is becoming a good year to sell.

They’re worried about the “fiscal cliff,” which is when tax cuts expire and spending cuts are set to go into effect at the end of the year.

Fearing an increase in capital gains and dividend taxes, many of the rich are unloading stocks, businesses and homes before the end of the year.

And the truth is that stocks simply did not have much higher that they could possibly go anyway.  Anyone that is trying to “get out while the getting is good” should take heed of what Marc Faber recently told CNBC

“The market is going down because corporate profits will begin to disappoint, the global economy will hardly grow next year or even contract, and that is the reason why stocks, from the highs of September of 1,470 on the S&P, will drop at least 20 percent, in my view.”

In fact, Faber is absolutely convinced that a full-blown stock market crash is coming no matter what happens with the fiscal cliff…

“I think the whole global financial system will have to be reset and it won’t be reset by central bankers but by imploding markets — either the currency [markets, debt market or stock markets,” he said. “It will happen — it will happen one day and then we’ll be lucky if we still have 50 percent of the asset values that we have today.”

Politics and economics have always been deeply intertwined.  The results of the most recent election are going to have some very deep consequences.  Already we have seen a large number of businesses either announce layoffs or that hours for their workers will be cut back.  You can find a bunch of tweets from small business owners talking about how they won’t be hiring anyone or that they will be forced to reduce hours right here.  You can find a bunch of tweets from average citizens all over the country talking about how their hours are already being cut back right here.

With each passing day, our country is getting poorer, it is getting even deeper in debt and our economy is becoming even more unstable.  We are on a path that will only lead to total economic disaster, but the American people just voted for more of the same.

So now we will get to see how this all plays out.

Is there anyone out there that is still optimistic about what is coming next for the U.S. economy?

QE4? The Big Wall Street Banks Are Already Complaining That QE3 Is Not Enough

QE3 has barely even started and some folks on Wall Street are already clamoring for QE4.  In fact, as you will read below, one equity strategist at Morgan Stanley says that he would not be “surprised” if the Federal Reserve announced another new round of money printing by the end of the year.  But this is what tends to happen when a financial system starts becoming addicted to easy money.  There is always a deep hunger for another “hit” of “currency meth”.  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was probably hoping that QE3 would satisfy the wolves on Wall Street for a while.  His promise to recklessly print 40 billion dollars a month and use it to buy mortgage-backed securities is being called “QEInfinity” by detractors.  During QE3, nearly half a trillion dollars a year will be added to the financial system until the Fed decides that it is time to stop.  This is so crazy that even former Federal Reserve officials are speaking out against it.  For example, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker says that QE3 is the “most extreme easing of monetary policy” that he could ever remember.  But the big Wall Street banks are never going to be satisfied.  If QE4 is announced, they will start calling for QE5.  As I noted in a previous article, quantitative easing tends to pump up the prices of financial assets such as stocks and commodities, and that is very good for Wall Street bankers.  So of course they want more quantitative easing.  They always want bigger profits and bigger bonus checks at the end of the year.

But at this point the Federal Reserve has already “jumped the shark”.  If you don’t know what “jumping the shark” means, you can find a definition on Wikipedia right here.  Whatever shreds of credibility the Fed had left are being washed away by a flood of newly printed money.

Those running the Fed have essentially used up all of their bullets and the next great financial crisis has not even fully erupted yet.

So what is the Fed going to do if the stock market crashes and the credit market freezes up like we saw back in 2008?

How much more extreme can the Fed go?

One can just picture “Helicopter Ben” strapping on a pair of water skis and making the following promise….

“We are going to print so much money that we’ll make Zimbabwe and the Weimar Republic look like wimps!”

Sadly, the truth is that money printing is not a “quick fix” and it never has been.  Just look at Japan.  The Bank of Japan is on round 8 of their quantitative easing strategy, and yet things in Japan continue to get even worse.

But that is not going to stop the folks on Wall Street from calling for even more quantitative easing.

For example, the top U.S. equity strategist for Morgan Stanley, Adam Parker, made headlines all over the world this week by writing the following….

“QE3 will likely be insufficient to significantly boost equity markets and we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Fed dramatically augment this program (i.e., QE4) before year-end, particularly if economic and corporate news continue to deteriorate as they have over the past few weeks.”

Did you get what he is saying there?

He says that QE3 is not going to be enough to boost equity markets (the stock market) so more money printing will be necessary.

But wasn’t QE3 supposed to be about creating jobs and helping the middle class?

I can almost hear many of you laughing out loud already.

As I have written about before, QE3 is unlikely to change the employment picture in any significant way, but what it will do is create more inflation which will squeeze the poor, the middle class and the elderly.

The truth is that quantitative easing has always been about bailing out the banks, and the hope is that this will trickle down to the folks on Main Street as well, but that never seems to happen.

Wall Street is not calling for even more quantitative easing because it would be good for you and I.  Rather, Wall Street is calling for even more quantitative easing because it would be good for them.

A CNBC article entitled “Fed May Need to Boost QE ‘Dramatically’ This Year: Pros” discussed Wall Street’s desire for even more money printing….

The Federal Reserve’s latest easing move has been nicknamed everything from “QE3” to “QE Infinity” to “QEternal,” but some on Wall Street question whether the unprecedented move will be QEnough.

And of course everyone pretty much understands that QE3 is definitely not going to fix our economic problems.  Even most of those on Wall Street will admit as much.  In the CNBC article mentioned above, a couple of economists named Paul Ashworth and Paul Dales at Capital Economics were quoted as saying the following….

“The Fed can commit to deliver whatever economic outcome it likes, but the problem is that  the crisis in the euro-zone and/or a stand-off in negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff in the U.S. may well reveal it to be like the proverbial Emperor with no clothes”

An emperor with no clothes?

I think the analogy fits.

The Federal Reserve is going to keep printing and printing and printing and things are not going to get any better.

At this point, economists at Goldman Sachs are already projecting that QE3 will likely stretch into 2015….

The Federal Reserve’s QE3 bond buying program announced earlier this month could last until the middle of 2015 and eventually reach $2 trillion, according to an estimate from economists at Goldman Sachs.

The Goldman economists also wrote in a report that they believe the Fed will not raise the federal funds rate until 2016. This rate, which is used as a benchmark for a wide variety of consumer and business loans, has been near 0% since December 2008. The Fed said in its last statement that it expected rates would remain low until mid-2015.

So why is Wall Street whining and complaining so loudly right now?

Well, even with all of the bailouts and even with all of the help from the first two rounds of quantitative easing, things are still tough for them.

For example, Bank of America recently announced that they will be laying off 16,000 workers.

In addition, there are rumors that 100 highly paid partners at Goldman Sachs are going to be getting the axe.  It is said that Goldman will save 2 billion dollars with such a move.

We haven’t even reached the next great financial crisis and the pink slips are already flying on Wall Street.  Meredith Whitney says that she has never seen anything quite like this….

“The industry is as bad as I’ve seen it. So it’s certainly not a great time to be on Wall Street.”

But of course Wall Street is not going to get much sympathy from the rest of America.  The truth is that things have been far rougher for most of the rest of us than things have been for them.

When the last crisis hit, they got trillions of dollars in bailout money and we got nothing.

So most people are not really in a mood to shed any tears for Wall Street.

But of course the Federal Reserve is definitely hoping to help their friends on Wall Street out by printing lots of money.

You never know, by the time this is all over we may see QE4, QE5, QE Reloaded, QE With A Vengeance and QE The Return Of The Bernanke.

Meanwhile, Europe is gearing up to print money like crazy too.

A couple months ago, European Central Bank President  Mario Draghi made the following pledge….

“Within our mandate, the European Central Bank is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro, and believe me, it will be enough.”

And of course the Bank of Japan has joined the money printing party too.  The following is from a recent article by David Kotok….

The recently announced additional program by the BOJ includes a fifty-percent allocation to the purchase of ten-year Japanese government bonds. The other fifty percent will buy shorter-term government securities. Thus, the BOJ is applying half of its additional QE stimulus to extracting long duration from the government bond market, denominated in Japanese yen.

All of the central banks seem to be getting on the QE bandwagon.

But will this fix anything?

Unfortunately it will not, at least according to Paul Volcker….

“Another round of QE is understandable – but it will fail to fix the problem. There is so much liquidity in the market that adding more is not going to change the economy.”

Sadly, most Americans have a ton of faith in the people running our system, but the truth is that they really do not know what they are doing.  Just check out what Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said the other day….

“The truth, however, is that nobody on the committee, nor on our staffs at the Board of Governors and the 12 Banks, really knows what is holding back the economy. Nobody really knows what will work to get the economy back on course. And nobody – in fact, no central bank anywhere on the planet – has the experience of successfully navigating a return home from the place in which we now find ourselves. No central bank – not, at least, the Federal Reserve – has ever been on this cruise before.”

Can you imagine the head coach of a football team coming in at halftime and telling his players the following….

“Nobody on the coaching stuff really has any idea what will work.”

That sure would not inspire a lot of confidence, would it?

Perhaps the Fed should be open to some input from the rest of us.

Actually, back on September 14th the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco posted a poll on Facebook that asked the following question….

What effect do you think QE3 will have on the U.S. economy?

The following are the 5 answers that got the most votes….

-“Long term, disastrous”

-“Negative”

-“Thanks for $5 gas”

-“I can’t believe you think this will work!”

-“Fire Bernanke”

So what do you think about the quantitative easing that the Federal Reserve is doing?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

How QE3 Will Make The Wealthy Even Wealthier While Causing Living Standards To Fall For The Rest Of Us

The mainstream media is hailing QE3 as a great victory for the U.S. economy.  On nearly every news broadcast, the “talking heads” are declaring that Ben Bernanke’s decision to pump 40 billion dollars a month into our financial system is definitely going to help solve our economic problems.  The money for QE3 is being created out of thin air and this round of quantitative easing is going to be “open-ended” which means that the Federal Reserve is going to keep doing it for as long as they feel like it.  But is this really good for the average American on the street?  No way.  Despite two previous rounds of quantitative easing, median household income has still fallen for four years in a row, the employment rate has not bounced back since the end of the last recession, and new home sales have remained near record lows.  So what have the previous rounds of quantitative easing accomplished?  Well, they have driven up the prices of financial assets.  Those that own stocks have done very well the past couple of years.  So who owns stocks?  The wealthy do.  In fact, 82 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans.  Those that have invested in commodities have also done very nicely in recent years.  We have seen gold, silver, oil and agricultural commodities all do very well.  But that also means that average Americans are paying more for basic necessities such as food and gasoline.  So the first two rounds of quantitative easing made the wealthy even wealthier while causing living standards to fall for all the rest of us.  Is there any reason to believe that QE3 will be any different?

Of course not.

This time the Federal Reserve is focused on buying mortgage-backed securities.  Yes, the same financial garbage that helped cause the last crisis.  The Fed plans to gobble up tens of billions of dollars of that trash every month from now on.

But will the Fed pay true market value for those mortgage-backed securities?  If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

So this is going to be a huge windfall for some people, and that does not include us.

Not a single penny of this 40 billion dollars a month will go directly into our hands.  The theory is that it will “filter down” to us eventually.

But that hasn’t happened with previous rounds of quantitative easing.

So where does the money go?

A recent CNBC article discussed a very interesting report from the Bank of England about the effects of quantitative easing….

It said that the Bank of England’s policies of quantitative easing – similar to the Fed’s – had benefited mainly the wealthy.

Specifically, it said that its QE program had boosted the value of stocks and bonds by 26 percent, or about $970 billion. It said that about 40 percent of those gains went to the richest 5 percent of British households.

Many said the BOE’s easing added to social anger and unrest. Dhaval Joshi, of BCA Research wrote that  “QE cash ends up overwhelmingly in profits, thereby exacerbating already extreme income inequality and the consequent social tensions that arise from it.”

Wow.

Who benefits from quantitative easing?

According to the Bank of England, it is “mainly the wealthy” who benefit.

As I noted the other day, Donald Trump said essentially the same thing when he told  CNBC the following….

“People like me will benefit from this.”

As I already discussed above, a lot of quantitative easing money gets into the financial markets where it pumps up the prices of financial assets.

But not all of it goes there.

We were told that the whole idea behind quantitative easing was that it was supposed to get banks lending again, but this has not happened.  Instead, banks are sitting on unprecedented amounts of money.  Just look at how the first two rounds of quantitative easing have caused excess reserves being held by banks to explode from close to zero to over 1.5 trillion dollars….

Of course one of the biggest problems is that the Federal Reserve is still paying banks not to lend money.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The Federal Reserve is paying banks to park money with them.  So instead of risking their money by lending it out to us, the banks can just park it at the Fed and make risk-free profits for as long as they want.

Must be nice.

If the Federal Reserve really wanted banks to start lending again, all the Fed has to do is to stop paying banks not to lend money.

But of course if more than 1.5 trillion dollars suddenly started flooding into our economy (especially after you consider the multiplier effect) we would be dealing with nightmarish inflation unlike anything we have ever seen before.

So if you want to know why inflation was not even worse after QE1 and QE2 it is because more than a trillion and a half dollars is being parked with the Fed.

So did QE1 and QE2 do any good for average Americans?

Let’s go to the charts.

This first chart shows that the percentage of working age Americans with a job has stayed extremely flat since the end of the last recession.

Does it look like QE1 and QE2 made a difference to you?  I don’t see any difference….

Okay, but what about new home sales?

Did QE1 and QE2 help them?

Nope….

But the mainstream media is still buying the baloney the Fed is pushing.

The mainstream media is promising us that home sales will soon rise and that lots of new jobs are on the way.

Sadly, the truth is that things have steadily gotten worse for average Americans over the past 4 years despite all of the money printing the Fed has been doing.  If you doubt this, just read this article.

But this is all that Ben Bernanke seems to have left.  When printing money doesn’t work, his answer is to print even more money.

QE3 is likely to cause agricultural commodities and the price of oil to rise even further.

So unless you can convince your employer to give you a corresponding raise, this is going to mean that your paychecks are not going to go as far as they did before.

And so that means a lower standard of living.

In a recent article, Bruce Krasting issued an ominous warning….

Higher inflation expectations in the US will filter around the globe. Post the extraordinary steps Ben took yesterday, people will be stocking up on “stuff”. Things like rice, flour, cooking oil, soy, wheat and sugar. If you can eat it, buy it now. It will be more expensive in a month. While your at it, fill up the gas tank, the price is going up next week and every week for the next few months.

In addition, the policy of the Federal Reserve of keeping interest rates as low as possible is absolutely crippling the finances of many retirees.  Even the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, William F. Ford, recognizes this….

One of the overlooked consequences of the Federal Reserve’s recent rounds of monetary stimulus is the adverse impact those policies have had on the interest income of savers. The prolonged and abnormally low interest-rate structure put in place by the Fed has made life particularly difficult for retirees and others who depend on conservative interest-sensitive investments. But the negative effects do not stop there. They spillover into the overall performance of the economy.

Just about everything that the Federal Reserve does these days is bad for ordinary Americans.

But the Fed is not going to stop.  The Fed is addicted to money printing now, and as a recent article by Peter Schiff explained, the Fed is just going to “up the dosage” until it gets what it wants….

The Fed will try to conjure a recovery on the backs of currency debasement. It will not stop or alter from this course. If the economy fails to respond to the drugs, Bernanke will simply up the dosage. In fact, he is so convinced we will remain dependent on quantitative easing that he explicitly said he won’t turn off the spigots even if things noticeably improve.

This is complete and total incompetence by Ben Bernanke and his cohorts over at the Fed.

Economist Marc Faber believes that Ben Bernanke should resign, and I agree with him….

“If I had messed up as badly as Bernanke I would for sure resign. The mandate of the Fed to boost asset prices and thereby create wealth is ludicrous — it doesn’t work that way. It’s a temporary boost followed by a crash.”

And yes, a crash is coming.

Bernanke can try to put it off for a while, but every action he takes is just making the eventual crash even worse.

And some in the financial community clearly recognize this.  For example, credit rating agency Egan-Jones downgraded the credit rating of the United States to AA- on Friday.

The primary reason they gave for the downgrade was QE3.

Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve are destroying the U.S. dollar and destroying our financial system for a short-term economic sugar high.

It is utter insanity.

That is why we desperately need to get the American people educated about the Federal Reserve system.  It is at the very heart of our economic problems and yet neither major political party is willing to blame the Fed for the problems that it is causing.

A bunch of unelected bankers that are not accountable to the American people are running our economy into the ground and the American people do not even realize what is happening.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  Hopefully we can get the American people to understand that more money printing is definitely not the solution to our problems.

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