The Beginning Of The End
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The global economy is heading for a massive amount of trouble in the months ahead.  Right now we are seeing the beginning of a credit crunch that is shaping up to be very reminiscent of what we saw back in 2008.  Investors and big corporations are pulling huge amounts of money out of European banks and nobody wants to lend to those banks right now.  We could potentially see dozens of “Lehman Brothers moments” in Europe in 2012.  Meanwhile, bond yields on sovereign debt are jumping through the roof all over Europe.  That means that European nations that are already drowning in debt are going to find it much more expensive to continue funding that debt.  It would be a huge understatement to say that there is “financial chaos” in Europe right now.  The European financial system is in so much trouble that it is hard to describe.  The instant that they stop receiving bailout money, Greece is going to default.  Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Spain and quite a few other European nations are also on the verge of massive financial problems.  When the financial dominoes start to fall, the U.S. financial system is going to be dramatically affected as well, because U.S. banks have a huge amount of exposure to European debt.  The other day, I noted that investor Jim Rogers is saying that the coming global financial collapse “is going to be worse” than 2008.  Sadly, it looks like he is right on the money.  We are in a lot of trouble my friends, and things are going to get really, really ugly.

The sad thing is that we never have recovered from the last major financial crisis.  Right now, the U.S. economy is far weaker than it was back in 2007.  So what is going to happen if we get hit with another financial tsunami?  The following is what PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian said recently….

“What’s most terrifying, we are having this discussion about the risk of recession at a time when unemployment is already too high, at a time when a quarter of homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, at a time then the fiscal deficit is at 9 percent and at a time when interest rates are at zero.”

Can things really get much worse than they are now?

Unfortunately, yes they can.

Not that things are not really, really bad right now.

In Los Angeles earlier this week, approximately 10,000 people lined up for free turkey dinners.

So how many people will be lining up for free food when the unemployment rate in the U.S. soars into double digits?

Right now there is so much economic pain in America that it is hard to describe.  According to a recent report from one nonprofit group, 45 percent of all people living in the United States “do not have enough money to cover housing, food, healthcare and other basic expenses”.

If this is where we are at now, how much trouble will we be in as a nation if a financial crisis worse than 2008 hits us in 2012?

The primary cause of the coming financial crisis will almost certainly be the financial meltdown that we are seeing unfold in Europe.

The economic downturn that began in 2008 caused the debt levels of quite a few European nations to soar to unprecedented heights.  It has gotten to the point where the debts of many of those nations are no longer sustainable.

So investors are starting to demand much higher returns for the much greater risk associated with investing in the bonds of those countries.

But that makes it much more expensive for those troubled nations to fund their debts, and that means that their financial troubles get even worse.

Over the past 12 months, what we have seen happen to bond yields over in Europe has been nothing short of amazing.

Just check out this chart of what has been happening to the yield on 2 year Italian bonds over the past 12 months.

And keep in mind that these bond yields have been spiking even while the European Central Bank has been buying up unprecedented mountains of bonds in an attempt to keep bond yields low.

There has been a fundamental loss of faith in the financial system, and it is not just happening in Europe.

Just check out this chart.  As that chart shows, credit default swap spreads all over the globe are absolutely skyrocketing and are now higher than we have seen at any point since the great financial crisis that shook the world during 2008 and 2009.

Panic and fear are everywhere – especially in Europe.  In fact, it looks like a run on the banks has already begun in Europe.

The following comes from a recent article in The Economist….

“We are starting to witness signs that corporates are withdrawing deposits from banks in Spain, Italy, France and Belgium,” an analyst at Citi Group wrote in a recent report. “This is a worrying development.”

Nobody wants to lend money to European banks right now.  There is a feeling that they are all vulnerable and could fail at any time, and this lack of confidence actually makes that possibility even more likely.

The following is a short excerpt from a recent CNBC article….

Money-market funds in the United States have quite dramatically slammed shut their lending windows to European banks. According to the Economist, Fitch estimates U.S. money market funds have withdrawn 42 percent of their money from European banks in general.

And for France that number is even higher — 69 percent. European money-market funds are also getting in on the act.

So what can be done?

Well, in a different CNBC article, Mitchell Goldberg was quoted as saying that even “a bazooka” is not going to be good enough to fix this situation….

“It’s too late for a bazooka,” said Mitchell Goldberg, president of ClientFirst Strategy. “Now we need inter-continental ballistic missiles. This is getting worse very quickly.”

This is kind of like watching a horrific car wreck happen in very slow motion.

The financial system of Europe is dying and everybody can see what is happening but nobody can seem to find a way to fix it.

Not that we are solving our own problems here in the United States.

The vaunted “supercommittee” that was supposed to get a handle on our debt problem was a complete and utter failure.

Barack Obama has shown that he has no clue what to do when it comes to the economy, and Ben Bernanke has been preoccupied with roaming around the country trying to get people to feel more “warm and fuzzy” about the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve actually has more power over our economy than anyone else.  But instead of fixing things they only keep making things even worse.

The only people that the Fed seems to be helping are the banksters.

What you are about to read should really, really upset you.  According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Reserve has actually been tipping off their upcoming moves to top financial professionals.  In turn, these financial professionals have been using that information to make a lot of money for themselves and for their clients….

Hours after an Aug. 15 meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in his office, Nancy Lazar made a hasty call to investor clients: The Fed was dusting off an obscure 1960s-era strategy known as Operation Twist.

The news pointed to a boom in long-term bonds.

It was a good call. Over the next five weeks, prices on 10-year Treasury bonds soared, offering double-digit returns in an otherwise dismal year.

By the time the Fed announced its $400 billion Operation Twist on Sept. 21, the window for quick profits had all but slammed shut.

Ms. Lazar is among a group of well-connected investors and analysts with access to top Federal Reserve officials who give them a chance at early clues to the central bank’s next policy moves, according to interviews and hundreds of pages of documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal through open records searches.

You just can’t make stuff like this up.  The corruption at the Federal Reserve is totally out of control.  After nearly 100 years of total failure, it is time to shut down the Federal Reserve.

Not that Barack Obama should get a free pass for the role that he has played in this economic downturn.  He inherited a complete mess from Bush and has made it even worse.

Today, millions of business owners are so frustrated with Washington D.C. that they don’t know what to do.

For example, one business owner down in Georgia has posted signs with the following message on all of his company’s trucks….

“New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.”

The business environment in this country becomes more toxic with each passing year, and the federal government has already strangled millions of small businesses out of existence.

In addition, politicians from both parties continue to stand aside as tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars of our wealth get shipped out of the country.

During 2010, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day were shut down in the United States.  We are committing national economic suicide, and the top politicians in both political parties keep cheering for more.

Well, millions of ordinary Americans can see what is happening and they are preparing for the worst.

The following report comes from an article that was recently posted on the website of the local CBS affiliate in St. Louis….

A chain of three stores that sells survival food and gear reports a jump in sales to people who are getting prepared for the “possible collapse” of society.

“We had to order fifty cases of the meals ready to eat to keep up with the demand in the past three months,” said manager Steve Dorsey at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters Inc. in Webster Groves. “That’s not normal.  Usually we sell 20 to 30 cases in a whole year.”

So are you prepared for the coming collapse?

If you still have a great job and things are still going well for you, then you should definitely be thankful.  Compared to the rest of the world, most of us are incredibly blessed.

But let there be no doubt, the U.S. economy is going to get a lot worse in the years ahead.

Just because you have a job today does not mean that you will have one tomorrow.

Just because you have a nice car and a big home today does not mean that you will have them tomorrow.

We all need to try to become a lot less dependent on “the system”, because “the system” is failing.

A whole lot of trouble is coming.

You better get ready.

17 Quotes About The Coming Global Financial Collapse That Will Make Your Hair Stand Up

Is the world on the verge of another massive global financial collapse?  Yes.  The western world is drowning in an ocean of debt unlike anything the world has ever seen before, and our financial markets are gigantic casinos that are dependent on huge mountains of risk and leverage remaining very stable.  In the end, this house of cards that has been built on a foundation of sand is going to come crashing down in a horrifying manner.  Usually in this column I go on and on about why things will soon get much worse.  But today I am going to take a bit of a break.  Today, I am going to let some of the top financial professionals in the world tell you why things will soon get much worse.  Many of the quotes that you are about to read just might make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  Most people out there have no idea what is about to happen.  Most people out there are working hard and are busy preparing for the holidays and they are hopeful that the economy will turn around soon.  But that is not going to happen.  We are heading for another major global financial collapse, and when it happens the U.S. economy is going to get even worse.

The epicenter for the coming global financial collapse is almost certainly going to be in Europe.  As you will see below, financial professionals all over the world are sounding the alarm about Europe.  It is a disaster that everyone can see coming but that nobody seems to be able to prevent.

Of course the failure of the “supercommittee” in the United States certainly is not helping matters.  There is already talk that we may soon see another downgrade for U.S. debt.  It is hard to even describe how incompetent the U.S. Congress is.

There is a tremendous lack of leadership both in the United States and in Europe right now.  The financial world is more interconnected than ever before, and when the financial dominoes start to fall it is going to take a miracle to keep a complete and total disaster from unfolding.

So when the time comes, who is going to step forward and provide that leadership?

That is a really, really good question.

Right now, panic and fear are spreading like wildfire in the financial world and nobody knows for sure what is going to happen next.

But one thing is for certain.  Pessimism is growing stronger by the day.

The following are 17 quotes about the coming global financial collapse that will make your hair stand up….

#1 Credit Suisse’s Fixed Income Research unit: “We seem to have entered the last days of the euro as we currently know it. That doesn’t make a break-up very likely, but it does mean some extraordinary things will almost certainly need to happen – probably by mid-January – to prevent the progressive closure of all the euro zone sovereign bond markets, potentially accompanied by escalating runs on even the strongest banks.”

#2 Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citigroup: “Time is running out fast.  I think we have maybe a few months — it could be weeks, it could be days — before there is a material risk of a fundamentally unnecessary default by a country like Spain or Italy which would be a financial catastrophe dragging the European banking system and North America with it.”

#3 Jim Reid of Deutsche Bank: “If you don’t think Merkel’s tone will change then our investment advice is to dig a hole in the ground and hide.”

#4 David Rosenberg, a senior economist at Gluskin Sheff in Toronto: “Lenders are finding it difficult to finance their day-to-day operations with short-term funding. This is a lot like 2008 but with more twists.”

#5 Christian Stracke, the head of credit research for Pimco: “This is just a repeat of what we saw in 2008, when everyone wanted to see toxic assets off the banks’ balance sheets”

#6 Paul Krugman of the New York Times: “At this point I’d guess soaring rates on Italian debt leading to a gigantic bank run, both because of solvency fears about Italian banks given a default and because of fear that Italy will end up leaving the euro. This then leads to emergency bank closing, and once that happens, a decision to drop the euro and install the new lira. Next stop, France.”

#7 Paul Hickey of Bespoke Investment Group: “More and more, we are hearing anecdotal comments from individual and professionals that this is the most difficult environment they have ever experienced as the market is like a fish flopping around after being taken out of the water.”

#8 Bob Janjuah of Nomura International: “Germany appears to be adamant that full political and fiscal integration over the next decade (nothing substantive will happen over the short term, in my view) is the only option, and ECB monetisation is no longer possible. I really think it is that clear and simple. And if I am wrong, and the ECB does a U-turn and agrees to unlimited monetisation, I will simply wait for the inevitable knee-jerk rally to fade before reloading my short risk positions. Even if Germany and the ECB somehow agree to unlimited monetisation I believe it will do nothing to fix the insolvency and lack of growth in the eurozone. It will just result in a major destruction of the ECB‟s balance sheet which will force an ECB recap. At that point, I think Germany and its northern partners would walk away. Markets always want short, sharp, simple solutions.”

#9 Dan Akerson, CEO of General Motors: “The ’08 recession, which was a credit bubble that manifested itself through primarily the real estate market, that was a serious stress….This is much more serious.”

#10 Francesco Garzarelli of Goldman Sachs: “Pressures on Euro area sovereign bond markets have progressively intensified and spread like a wildfire.”

#11 Jim Rogers: “In 2002 it was bad, in 2008 it was worse and 2012 or 2013 is going to be worse still – be careful”

#12 Dr. Pippa Malmgren, the President and founder of Principalis Asset Management who once worked in the White House as an adviser to President Bush: “Market forces are increasingly determining what the options are and foreclosing on options policymakers thought they had. One option which is now under discussion involves permitting a country to temporarily leave the Euro, return to its native currency, devalue, commit to returning to the Euro at a better debt to GDP ratio, a better exchange rate and a better growth trajectory and yet not sacrifice its EU membership. I would like to say for the record that this is precisely the thought process that I expected to evolve,but when I proposed this possibility back in 2009, and again in September 2010, I had a 100% response from clients and others that this was “impossible” and many felt it was “ridiculous”. They may be right but this is the current state of the discussion. The Handelsblatt in Germany has reported this conversation, but wrongly assumes that the country that will exit is Germany. I think that Germany will have to exit if the Southern European states do not. Germany’s preference is to stay in the Euro and have the others drop out. The problem has been the Germans could not convince the others to walk away. But, now, market pressures are forcing someone to leave. Germany is pushing for that someone to be Italy. They hope that this would be a one off exception, not to be repeated by any other country. Obviously, though, if Italy leaves the Euro and reverts to Lira then the markets will immediately and forcefully attack Spain, Portugal and even whatever is left  of the already savaged Greeks. These countries will not be able to compete against a devalued Greece or Italy when it come to tourism or even infrastructure. But, the principal target will be France. The three largest French banks have roughly 450 billion Euros of exposure to Italian debt. So, further sovereign defaults are certainly inevitable, but that is true under any scenario. Growth and austerity will not do the trick, as ZeroHedge rightly points out. Ultimately, I will not be at all surprised to see Europe’s banking system shut for days while the losses and payments issues are worked out. People forget that the term “bank holiday” was invented in the 1930’s when the banks were shut for exactly the same reason.”

#13 Daniel Clifton, a policy strategist with Strategas Research Partners on the potential for more downgrades of U.S. debt: “We would expect further downgrades, a first downgrade from Moody’s and Fitch and possibly a second downgrade from S&P.”

#14 Warren Buffett on the problems in the eurozone: “The system as presently designed has revealed a major flaw. And that flaw won’t be corrected just by words. Europe will either have to come closer together or there will have to be some other rearrangement because this system is not working”

#15 David Kostin, equity strategist for Goldman Sachs: “The wide range of possible outcomes on both the super committee process and the unstable political economy in Europe drives our view that investors should assume the worst while hoping for the best.”

#16 Mark Mobius, the head of the emerging markets desk at Templeton Asset Management: “There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner”

#17 Gerald Celente, founder of The Trends Research Institute: “The whole system is going down. Pull your money out your Fidelity account, your Scwhab accout, and your ETFs.”

Are you starting to get the picture?

When so many top financial professionals are freaking out like this, perhaps the rest of us should start paying attention.

They are telling us that “time is running out”.

They are telling us that “there is definitely going to be another financial crisis”.

They are telling us that this “is going to be worse” than 2008.

They are telling us that “the whole system is going down”.

Yes, a devastating financial collapse really is coming.  Just like in 2008, it will seem like the “end of the world” while it is happening, but it won’t be.  It will severely damage our financial system and our economy, but it will not finish us off.

Think of it this way.  When you build a sand castle at the beach, it doesn’t get totally wiped out by the first wave or the second wave that hits it.  Each wave does significant damage, but the destruction of your sand castle is a process.

It is the same thing with the U.S. economy.  We once had the most incredible economic machine that the world has ever seen.  It is constantly being gutted and the financial crisis of 2008 hit us really hard, but we are still doing okay.

After this next financial crisis we will be in even worse shape.  But we will still be breathing.

More “waves” will come after this next financial crisis.  If we continue on the road that we are on, our economy will progressively get worse and worse.

Not everyone will agree with this analysis, and that is okay.  In the end, time will reveal the truth to all of us.

Right now, we all need to get ready for the next wave that is about to hit us.  A lot of people are going to lose their jobs over the next few years.  Hopefully you are prepared for that.

The Coming European Superstate That Germany Plans To Cram Down The Throats Of The Rest Of Europe

A lot of people were puzzled about what German Chancellor Angela Merkel meant when she recently stated that the ultimate solution to the financial crisis in the EU would “mean more Europe, not less Europe”.  Well, now we are finding out.  A leaked internal German government memo entitled “The Future of the EU: Required Integration Policy Improvements for the Creation of a Stability Union” actually proposes the creation of a “European Monetary Fund” which would be given the power to run the economies of troubled European nations.  This “stability union” would be quickly followed by the creation of a full-fledged “political union”.  Essentially, this leaked memo proposes the creation of a “European Superstate” which will be crammed down the throats of the rest of Europe whether they like it or not.  National sovereignty would be a thing of the past and European bureaucrats would run everything.  Of course this will never be accepted by the people of Europe until they feel the bitter pain of the coming financial collapse, but we are starting to see that there is already a clear plan for what the Germans wish to implement in the aftermath of the coming crisis.

A lot of people have just assumed that if there is a massive financial collapse in Europe and the euro crashes that it will mean that end of the euro and potentially the breakup of the EU.  But that is not what the Germans have planned at all.

An article in the Telegraph has posted details about the leaked internal German government memo mentioned above.  It really is startling to see that a full-fledged “political union” in Europe is being discussed at the highest levels of the German government….

The six-page memo, by the German foreign office, argues that Europe’s economic powerhouses should be able to intervene in how beleaguered eurozone countries are run.

The confidential blueprint sets out Germany’s plan to tackle the eurozone debt crisis by creating a “stability union” that will be “immediately followed by moves “on the way towards a political union”.

It will prompt fears that Germany’s euro crisis plans could result in a European super-state with spending and tax plans set in Brussels.

Can you imagine what Europe would look like under such a plan?

National sovereignty would be a thing of the past.

Another article in the Telegraph says that the leaked memo proposes that immediately a “European Monetary Fund” should be set up that would have the power to take over and run the economies of European nations that get into too much debt.  But according to the memo this would just be an intermediate step toward a full “political union”….

The six-page German foreign ministry paper sets out plans for the creation of a European Monetary Fund with a transfer of sovereignty away from member states.

The fund will have the power to take ailing countries into receivership and run their economies. Even more controversially, the document, entitled The future of the EU: required integration policy improvements for the creation of a Stability Union, declares that the treaty changes are a first stage “in which the EU will develop into a political union”. “The debate on the way towards a political union must begin as soon as the course toward stability union is charted,” it concludes.

As the crisis in Europe has gotten worse, the Germans have become more aggressive about throwing their weight around.  At this point, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the most important politician in Europe and she has been taking the lead in responding to this financial crisis.

As I have written about previously, there have been persistent rumors that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been “secretly plotting” to create a “new eurozone” that will fundamentally change the way that Europe is run.

For example, the following is from an article that recently came out  in the Telegraph….

France is drawing up plans to create a breakaway organisation of eurozone countries with its own treaty, parliament and headquarters – a move that could significantly undermine the existing European Union.

That same article also talked about the goals that France and Germany are hoping to achieve through all of this….

France and Germany are understood to want to strengthen the union between eurozone countries with new taxes and legal measures to stop nations borrowing and spending too much in future.

Of course it is important to note that there is no way that the people of Europe are going to go for any of this right now.

But after feeling the pain of a massive financial collapse for a while will they change their minds?

What is clear is that the status quo is not going to last much longer.  Something has got to change.  Unfortunately, Germany and France seem determined to push the rest of Europe in the direction of creating a European Superstate.

If you want to get a really good idea of what is happening in Europe right now, just check out this video of a recent speech by Nigel Farage on the floor of the European Parliament on November 16th, 2011.  Trust me, it is worth the couple of minutes that it takes to watch it.

But before fundamental structural changes take place in Europe, we are going to see an absolutely crippling financial collapse first.  With each passing day, there are more signs that things are rapidly unraveling.  The following are just a few of the noteworthy news items from Europe that have come out over the past week….

*In Italy there were violent clashes between protesters and police after Mario Monti unveiled his new austerity program.  To get an idea of how crazy things are getting over in Italy, just check out this video.

*Just like what happened when austerity was implemented in Greece, it looks like Italy is now headed down the road toward a major recession.  Industrial orders in Italy for the month of September declined by 8.5 percent.  That is really, really bad news.

*The EFSF has already been forced to buy up huge numbers of its own bonds.  That essentially means that the EFSF is already a bad joke.

*Dozens of big banks all over Europe have been downgraded in recent weeks.  Even German banks are getting downgraded now.  The other day, Moody’s downgraded the ratings of 10 major German banks.

An increasing number of people that work in the financial world are starting to get really freaked out about everything that is going on.

The following is what Mark Mobius, head of the emerging markets desk at Templeton Asset Management, had to say recently….

“There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner, because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis.”

Willem Buiter, the chief economist of Citigroup, believes that if something is not done quickly, there will be a financial collapse in Europe in very short order….

“Time is running out fast.  I think we have maybe a few months — it could be weeks, it could be days — before there is a material risk of a fundamentally unnecessary default by a country like Spain or Italy which would be a financial catastrophe dragging the European banking system and North America with it. So they have to act now.”

Ann Barnhardt of Barnhardt Capital Management actually shut down her entire firm because she could no longer guarantee that the money her clients were putting into the futures and options markets would be safe.  Posted below are extended excerpts from the open letter that she recently released to the public.  Normally I would not post such extended excerpts, but in this case I believe that they are warranted.  What Barnhardt has written should be a huge wake up call for all of us.  It is refreshing (and a bit frightening) to get an honest assessment of the corruption in the financial world from someone that has made a good living in that world.  The following is how she began her letter….

It is with regret and unflinching moral certainty that I announce that Barnhardt Capital Management has ceased operations. After six years of operating as an independent introducing brokerage, and eight years of employment as a broker before that, I found myself, this morning, for the first time since I was 20 years old, watching the futures and options markets open not as a participant, but as a mere spectator.

The reason for my decision to pull the plug was excruciatingly simple: I could no longer tell my clients that their monies and positions were safe in the futures and options markets – because they are not. And this goes not just for my clients, but for every futures and options account in the United States. The entire system has been utterly destroyed by the MF Global collapse. Given this sad reality, I could not in good conscience take one more step as a commodity broker, soliciting trades that I knew were unsafe or holding funds that I knew to be in jeopardy.

So how did the MF Global collapse wreck the system?  Barnhardt went on to explain this….

The futures markets are very highly-leveraged and thus require an exceptionally firm base upon which to function. That base was the sacrosanct segregation of customer funds from clearing firm capital, with additional emergency financial backing provided by the exchanges themselves. Up until a few weeks ago, that base existed, and had worked flawlessly. Firms came and went, with some imploding in spectacular fashion. Whenever a firm failure happened, the customer funds were intact and the exchanges would step in to backstop everything and keep customers 100% liquid – even as their clearing firm collapsed and was quickly replaced by another firm within the system.

Everything changed just a few short weeks ago. A firm, led by a crony of the Obama regime, stole all of the non-margined cash held by customers of his firm. Let’s not sugar-coat this or make this crime seem “complex” and “abstract” by drowning ourselves in six-dollar words and uber-technical jargon. Jon Corzine STOLE the customer cash at MF Global. Knowing Jon Corzine, and knowing the abject lawlessness and contempt for humanity of the Marxist Obama regime and its cronies, this is not really a surprise. What was a surprise was the reaction of the exchanges and regulators. Their reaction has been to take a bad situation and make it orders of magnitude worse. Specifically, they froze customers out of their accounts WHILE THE MARKETS CONTINUED TO TRADE, refusing to even allow them to liquidate. This is unfathomable. The risk exposure precedent that has been set is completely intolerable and has destroyed the entire industry paradigm. No informed person can continue to engage these markets, and no moral person can continue to broker or facilitate customer engagement in what is now a massive game of Russian Roulette.

Even more frightening, Barnhardt says that the MF Global collapse is just the “tip of the iceberg” and that more collapses like this are about to happen….

I have learned over the last week that MF Global is almost certainly the mere tip of the iceberg. There is massive industry-wide exposure to European sovereign junk debt. While other firms may not be as heavily leveraged as Corzine had MFG leveraged, and it is now thought that MFG’s leverage may have been in excess of 100:1, they are still suicidally leveraged and will likely stand massive, unmeetable collateral calls in the coming days and weeks as Europe inevitably collapses. I now suspect that the reason the Chicago Mercantile Exchange did not immediately step in to backstop the MFG implosion was because they knew and know that if they backstopped MFG, they would then be expected to backstop all of the other firms in the system when the failures began to cascade – and there simply isn’t that much money in the entire system. In short, the problem is a SYSTEMIC problem, not merely isolated to one firm.

So what does Barnhardt say that we should all do?  She is actually recommending that everyone should completely abandon the futures and options markets….

And so, to the very unpleasant crux of the matter. The futures and options markets are no longer viable. It is my recommendation that ALL customers withdraw from all of the markets as soon as possible so that they have the best chance of protecting themselves and their equity. The system is no longer functioning with integrity and is suicidally risk-laden. The rule of law is non-existent, instead replaced with godless, criminal political cronyism.

Remember, a few weeks ago I warned you all that a massive derivatives crisis is coming.  Anyone that plays around with derivatives at this point is playing with fire.  Barnhardt says that she will never reopen her firm until Barack Obama is removed from office and fundamental reforms to the financial system have been implemented….

Finally, I will not, under any circumstance, consider reforming and re-opening Barnhardt Capital Management, or any other iteration of a brokerage business, until Barack Obama has been removed from office AND the government of the United States has been sufficiently reformed and repopulated so as to engender my total and complete confidence in the government, its adherence to and enforcement of the rule of law, and in its competent and just regulatory oversight of any commodities markets that may reform. So long as the government remains criminal, it would serve no purpose whatsoever to attempt to rebuild the futures industry or my firm, because in a lawless environment, the same thievery and fraud would simply happen again, and the criminals would go unpunished, sheltered by the criminal oligarchy.

We are on the verge of a financial crisis that could potentially be just as bad (or even worse) than the financial crisis of 2008.

Right now, 2012 is shaping up as a very, very bad year.

As I have written about previously, when European leaders proposed that private Greek bondholders should take a “50% haircut”, they massively undermined faith in the European financial system.

Now panic and fear are in the air and it is unlikely that financial markets will be calmed any time soon.

Already, there are early signs of the kind of massive credit crunch that almost brought about “the end of the world” in financial markets back in 2008.

For example, a CNBC article that was posted on Friday reported that the flow of credit in Europe is seriously drying up….

Fear over European banks’ exposure to risky government debt stalked markets and harried bank executives on Friday, as unsecured lending between banks evaporated and the cost of secured loans rose.

And as a recent article posted on Zero Hedge discussed, a similar thing is starting to happen in the United States….

The entire dollar funding market is now at levels not seen since the Lehman collapse and is effectively frozen. Only this time it is much, much worse as never before has the global central bank cadre been assumed and implied to be backstopping the global liquidity cascade. Ex-out the implied backstop by the monetary authorities, and liquidity is now locked up more than ever in the history of capital markets.

So what should we do about this?

We should take action and get prepared for what is coming.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of Americans seem to be “checking out” instead.  According to a recent Gallup poll, alcohol consumption in the United States has hit a 25 year high.  More than one out of every ten Americans over the age of 12 is on prescription antidepressants, and most American families spend endless hours staring at the television in an attempt to escape the pain and the frustration that they constantly feel.

Hopefully by working together we can help more Americans (and more Europeans as well) to wake up, to get off their couches, and to take action in a positive way.

Time is running out and the economic crisis is rapidly getting worse.

We don’t have any time to waste.

Arrivederci Berlusconi

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  In just a matter of days, two of Europe’s most venerable leaders have been toppled.  George Papandreou was the third member of the Papandreou dynasty to be prime minister of Greece.  Silvio Berlusconi had dominated Italian politics for nearly two decades.  But now they are both heading out the door and the international media have been reporting on their resignations with the kind of enthusiasm that is normally reserved for sporting events.  “Down goes Papandreou!  Down goes Berlusconi!”  If you didn’t know better, you would almost be tempted to think that some of the recent news reports were describing a boxing match.  But this is what happens when debt problems spiral out of control.  It is the leaders who take the fall.  So will the resignations of Papandreou and Berlusconi help anything?  Of course not.  Europe is still headed for a financial collapse of epic proportions.

As I wrote about recently, it has been the fumbling of the Greek debt crisis by European leaders which has set the stage for the burgeoning financial crisis in Italy to go to a whole new level.

Once the Greek debt deal was announced, I warned that it would shatter confidence in the sovereign debt of the rest of the PIIGS and it would cause their bond yields to soar.

That is exactly what has happened.

The yield on 10 year Italian bonds (probably the most important financial number in the world at the moment) is now up to 6.7 percent.

Never before in the euro era has the yield on Italian bonds been as high as we have seen this week.

So why is this important?

Well, the reality is that Italy simply cannot afford to service its massive national debt when yields are this high.

We are officially in the danger zone.

Carl Weinberg, the chief economist at High Frequency Economics, recently said the following about what would happen if Italian bond yields go up into the 8 to 10 percent range….

“If it has to pay those yields to finance itself, Italy is dead, and the sovereign crisis just blew up”

So watch that number very carefully over the next few months.

Italy is being called “too big to fail, too big to save”.  There is no way that Europe can afford Italy to crash, but there is also no way that the rest of Europe can put together enough money for a full scale bailout of Italy.

So there is panic in the air.

The Italian government is in a state of near chaos and over the past couple of weeks we have seen Berlusconi’s coalition break down.  Now Berlusconi has agreed to resign, and the future of Italian politics is murky at best.

The following is how a Reuters article described the agreement for Berlusconi step down….

Berlusconi confirmed a statement from President Giorgio Napolitano that he would step down as soon as parliament passed urgent budget reforms demanded by European leaders after Italy was sucked into epicenter of the euro zone debt crisis.

The votes in both houses of parliament are likely this month and they would spell the end of a 17-year dominance of Italy by the flamboyant billionaire media magnate.

Many believe that the departure of Berlusconi is going to pave the way for brutal austerity measures to be imposed on the Italian people.

Suddenly, it very much feels like we are watching a replay of what has happened in Greece over the past couple of years.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent article in the London Evening Standard….

The Italians feel they’ve been humiliated by having to accept that monitors from the IMF will be arriving in the country this week to oversee a rise in pension ages, a sell-off of state assets and new rules to make jobs less secure.

Does that not sound like exactly what happened in Greece back near the beginning of their crisis?

In Greece, brutal austerity measures demanded by the EU and the IMF plunged the country into a depression, tax revenues plummeted, Greek debt exploded to even higher levels, bond yields soared into the stratosphere and the EU and the IMF demanded even more austerity measures be implemented.

Is the same sad story going to play out in Italy?

The Italians are definitely going to agree to some pretty significant budget cuts.  But if bond yields keep rising, they are going to wipe out all of the savings from the budget cuts and then some.

This is why I keep preaching about the horror of the U.S. national debt over and over and over.  If you don’t deal with it when you can, eventually interest rates rise to unbearable levels and a horror show quickly unfolds.

Anyway, right now Italy has a debt to GDP ratio of 118 percent.  If they keep expanding that debt it is going to result in a financial nightmare, but if they try to implement strict austerity measures it is also going to result in a financial nightmare.

They are damned if they do and they are damned if they don’t.

Of course we should not forget about Greece.

The EU has been freaking out for quite a while about what to do about tiny little Greece.

Now that George Papandreou has been kicked to the curb, it looks like Lucas Papademos is going to be the next prime minister of Greece.

Papademos previously served as the governor of the Greek central bank, as a vice president of the European Central Bank and as a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

In other words, he would be the ideal choice of the international banking community.

Not that anyone is going to be able to do much for Greece at this point.  Greece is a financial basket case, and unless someone gives them gigantic piles of money for free that is going to continue to be the case.

A year ago, the yield on 2 year Greek bonds was a bit above 10 percent.  Today, the yield on 2 year Greek bonds is over 100 percent.

If you want to see what a financial meltdown looks like, just check out what is happening in Greece.

The rest of Europe is in panic mode too.  For example, France is desperate to keep their AAA credit rating.  In an article for the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard described the austerity measures that France is implementing in an attempt to head off a debt crisis of their own….

The belt-tightening plan — the second package since August, taking total cuts to €112bn — include a 5pc super-tax on big firms, a rise in VAT on restaurants and construction, and cuts on pensions, schools, health, and welfare. It is the latest squeeze in a relentless campaign of fiscal tightening across the eurozone.

In the end, all of this is too little, too late.

Europe is heading for a date with destiny.  They have spent themselves into oblivion and now they are going to pay the price.

Some members of the financial community fear that a full-blown crisis could erupt at any moment.  For example, according to Business Insider, Colin Tan of Deutsche Bank recently said that he believes that it is possible that “we could be in full crisis mode” by the time the week ends….

Its not inconceivable that we could be in full crisis mode by the end of this week. The situation with Italy feels increasingly like one that has little chance of materially improving until some
extreme pressure is put on someone to act. It may not come to a head this week but the signs are not good that we can avoid an extreme situation emerging soon.

For those of you that are freaking out about now, don’t worry too much.  A full-blown crisis is not going to happen this week.

But time is running out.

And when Europe comes apart, it is going to have a dramatic impact on the United States as well.

According to an article in the Financial Post, the Federal Reserve made the following statement in a report about a survey that it just released….

“About one-half of domestic bank respondents, mostly large banks, indicated that they make loans or extend credit lines to European banks or their affiliates or subsidiaries”

Big U.S. banks have a lot of exposure to European debt and to European banks.  When the financial dominoes start to fall, a lot of those dominoes are going to be in the United States.

One of the biggest dangers to be concerned about are all of the credit default swap contracts that U.S. banks have written on European debt.  Just check out what a recent article posted on the website of MSNBC had to say about that….

U.S. banks have written about $400 billion in CDS contracts on European sovereign debt, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Those payouts would be triggered if Greece or Italy defaults. Because financial institutions are not required to report their CDS holdings, little is known about which banks or investment firms are on the hook, and for how much.

As I have written about previously, there is a very good chance that the world could be facing a massive derivatives crisis at some point in the next five to ten years.

If you hear the news talk about a “problem with derivatives” or a “derivatives crisis” then you will want to pay very close attention.

Over the past 30 years, the global financial system has constructed a gigantic mountain of debt, risk and leverage unlike anything the world has ever seen before.

At some point the whole thing is going to come crashing down.

When it does, it is going to affect the entire globe.

A huge storm is coming.

Get prepared while you can.

 

Be Honest – The European Debt Deal Was Really A Greek Debt Default

Once the euphoria of the initial announcement faded and as people have begun to closely examine the details of the European debt deal, they have started to realize that this “debt deal” is really just a “managed” Greek debt default.  Let’s be honest – this deal is not going to solve anything.  All it does is buy Greece a few months.  Meanwhile, it is going to make the financial collapse of other nations in Europe even more likely.  Anyone that believes that the financial situation in Europe is better now than it was last week simply does not understand what is going on.  Bond yields are going to go through the roof and investors are going to start to panic.  The European Central Bank is going to have an extremely difficult time trying to keep a lid on this thing.  Instead of being a solution, the European debt deal has brought us several steps closer to a complete financial meltdown in Europe.

The big message that Europe is sending to investors is that when individual nations get into debt trouble they will be allowed to default and investors will be forced to take huge haircuts.

As this reality starts to dawn on investors, they are going to start demanding much higher returns on European bonds.

In fact, we are already starting to see this happen.

The yield on two year Spanish bonds increased by more than 6 percent today.

The yield on two year Italian bonds increased by more than 7 percent today.

So what are nations such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland going to do when it costs them much more to borrow money?

The finances of those nations could go from bad to worse very, very quickly.

When that happens, who will be the next to come asking for a haircut?

After all, if Greece was able to get a 50% haircut out of private investors, then why shouldn’t Italy or Spain or Portugal ask for one as well?

According to Reuters, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is already trying to warn other members of the EU not to ask for a haircut….

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday it was important to prevent others from seeking debt reductions after European Union leaders struck a deal with private banks to accept a nominal 50 percent cut on their Greek government debt holdings.

“In Europe it must be prevented that others come seeking a haircut,” she said.

But investors are not stupid.  Greece was allowed to default.  If Italy or Spain or Portugal gets into serious trouble it is likely that they will be allowed to default too.

Investors like to feel safe.  They want to feel as though their investments are secure.  This Greek debt deal is a huge red flag which signals to global financial markets that there is no longer safety in European bonds.

So what is coming next?

Hold on to your seatbelts, because things are about to get interesting.

Around the globe, a lot of analysts are realizing that this European debt deal was not good news at all.  The following is a sampling of comments from prominent voices in the financial community….

*Economist Sony Kapoor: “The fact that a deal has been agreed, any deal, impresses people. Until they start de-constructing it and parts start unravelling.”

*Economist Ken Rogoff: “It feels at its root to me like more of the same, where they’ve figured how to buy a couple of months”

*Neil MacKinnon of VTB Capital: “The best we can say is that the EU have engineered a temporary reprieve”

*Graham Summers of Phoenix Capital Research:

First off, let’s call this for what it is: a default on the part of Greece. Moreover it’s a default that isn’t big enough as a 50% haircut on private debt holders only lowers Greece’s total debt level by 22% or so.

Secondly, even after the haircut, Greece still has Debt to GDP levels north of 130%. And it’s expected to bring these levels to 120% by 2020.

And the IMF is giving Greece another $137 billion in loans.

So… Greece defaults… but gets $137 billion in new money (roughly what the default will wipe out) and is expected to still be insolvent in 2020.

*Max Keiser: “There will be another bailout required within six months – I guarantee it.”

The people that are really getting messed over by this deal are the private investors in Greek debt.  Not only are they being forced to take a brutal 50% haircut, they are also being told that their credit default swaps are not going to pay out since this is a “voluntary” haircut.

This is completely and totally ridiculous as an article posted on Finance Addict pointed out…

We now know that private holders of Greek bonds will be “invited” (seriously–this was the word used in the EU summit statement) to take a write-down of 50%–halving the face value of the estimated $224 billion in bonds that they hold. This will help bring the Greek debt-to-GDP ratio down from 186% in 2013 to 120% by 2020. The big question–apart from how many investors they will get to go along with this, given that they couldn’t reach their target of 90% investor participation when the write-down was only going to be 21%–is whether this will trigger a CDS pay-out.

That this is even up for discussion is mind-boggling. These credit default swaps are meant to be an insurance policy in case Greece doesn’t pay the agreed upon interest and return the full principal within the agreed timeframe. If they don’t pay out when bondholders are taking a 50% hit then what’s the point?

European politicians may believe that they have “solved” something, but the truth is that what they have really done is they have pulled the rug out from under the European financial system.

Faith in European debt is going to rapidly disappear and the euro is likely to fall like a rock in the months ahead.

The financial crisis in Europe is just getting started.  2012 looks like it is going to be an extremely painful year.

Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

Prophets Of Doom: 12 Shocking Quotes From Insiders About The Horrific Economic Crisis That Is Almost Here

We are getting so close to a financial collapse in Europe that you can almost hear the debt bubbles popping.  All across the western world, governments and major banks are rapidly becoming insolvent.  So far, the powers that be are keeping all of the balls in the air by throwing around lots of bailout money.  But now the political will for more bailouts is drying up and the number of troubled entities seems to grow by the day.  Right now the western world is facing a debt crisis that is absolutely unprecedented in world history.  Europe has had a tremendously difficult time just trying to keep Greece afloat, and several much larger European countries are now on the verge of a major financial crisis.  In addition, there is a growing number of very large financial institutions all over the western world that are also rapidly approaching a day of reckoning.  The global financial system is a sea or red ink, and when we get to the point where there are hundreds of ships going under how is it going to be possible to bail all of them out?  The quotes that you are about to read show that quite a few top financial and political insiders know that things cannot hold together much longer and that a horrific economic crisis is coming.  We built the global financial system on a foundation of debt, leverage and risk and now this house of cards that we have created is about to come tumbling down.

A lot of people in politics and in the financial world know what is about to happen.  Once in a while they will even be quite candid about it with the media.

As I have written about previously, Europe is on the verge of a financial collapse.  If things go really badly, things could totally fall apart in a few weeks.  But more likely it will be a few more months until the juggling act ends.

Right now, the banking system in Europe is coming apart at the seams.  Because the global financial system is so interconnected today, when major European banks start to fail it is going to have a cascading effect across the United States and Asia as well.

The financial crisis of 2008 plunged us into the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

The next financial crisis could potentially hit the world even harder.

The following are 12 shocking quotes from insiders that are warning about the horrific economic crisis that is almost here….

#1 George Soros: “Financial markets are driving the world towards another Great Depression with incalculable political consequences. The authorities, particularly in Europe, have lost control of the situation.”

#2 PIMCO CEO Mohammed El-Erian: “These are all signs of an institutional run on French banks. If it persists, the banks would have no choice but to delever their balance sheets in a very drastic and disorderly fashion. Retail depositors would get edgy and be tempted to follow trading and institutional clients through the exit doors. Europe would thus be thrown into a full-blown banking crisis that aggravates the sovereign debt trap, renders certain another economic recession, and significantly worsens the outlook for the global economy.”

#3 Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy, global head of securities services at UniCredit SpA (Italy’s largest bank): “The only remaining question is how many days the hopeless rearguard action of European governments and the European Central Bank can keep up Greece’s spirits.”

#4 Stefan Homburg, the head of Germany’s Institute for Public Finance: “The euro is nearing its ugly end. A collapse of monetary union now appears unavoidable.”

#5 EU Parliament Member Nigel Farage: “I think the worst in the financial system is yet to come, a possible cataclysm and if that happens the gold price could go (higher) to a number that we simply cannot, at this moment, even imagine.”

#6 Carl Weinberg, the chief economist at High Frequency Economics: “At this point, our base case is that Greece will default within weeks.”

#7 Goldman Sachs strategist Alan Brazil: “Solving a debt problem with more debt has not solved the underlying problem. In the US, Treasury debt growth financed the US consumer but has not had enough of an impact on job growth. Can the US continue to depreciate the world’s base currency?”

#8 International Labour Organization director general Juan Somavia recently stated that total unemployment could “increase by some 20m to a total of 40m in G20 countries” by the end of 2012.

#9 Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackerman: “It is an open secret that numerous European banks would not survive having to revalue sovereign debt held on the banking book at market levels.”

#10 Alastair Newton, a strategist for Nomura Securities in London: “We believe that we are just about to enter a critical period for the eurozone and that the threat of some sort of break-up between now and year-end is greater than it has been at any time since the start of the crisis”

#11 Ann Barnhardt, head of Barnhardt Capital Management, Inc.: “It’s over. There is no coming back from this. The only thing that can happen is a total and complete collapse of EVERYTHING we now know, and humanity starts from scratch. And if you think that this collapse is going to play out without one hell of a big hot war, you are sadly, sadly mistaken.”

#12 Lakshman Achuthan of ECRI: “When I call a recession…that means that process is starting to feed on itself, which means that you can yell and scream and you can write a big check, but it’s not going to stop.”

*****

In my opinion, the epicenter of the “next wave” of the financial collapse is going to be in Europe.  But that does not mean that the United States is going to be okay.  The reality is that the United States never recovered from the last recession and there are already a lot of signs that we are getting ready to enter another major recession.  A major financial collapse in Europe would just accelerate our plunge into a new economic crisis.

If you want to read something that will really freak you out, you should check out what Dr. Philippa Malmgren is saying.  Dr. Philippa Malmgren is the President and founder of Principalis Asset Management.  She is also a former member of the Bush economic team. You can find her bio right here.

Malmgren is claiming that Germany is seriously considering bringing back the Deutschmark.  In fact, she claims that Germany is very busy printing new currency up.  In a list of things that we could see happen over the next few months, she included the following….

“The Germans announce they are re-introducing the Deutschmark. They have already ordered the new currency and asked that the printers hurry up.”

This is quite a claim for someone to be making.  You would think that someone that used to work in the White House would not make such a claim unless it was based on something solid.

If Germany did decide to leave the euro, you would see an implosion of the euro that would be truly historic.

But as I have written about previously, it should not surprise anyone that the end of the euro is being talked about because the euro simply does not work.

The only way that the euro would have had a chance of working is if all of the governments using the euro would have kept debt levels very low.

Unfortunately, the financial systems of the western world are designed to push governments into high levels of debt.

The truth is that the euro was doomed from the very beginning.

Now we are approaching a day of reckoning.  We have been living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, but the bubble is ending.  There are several ways that the powers that be could handle this, but all of them will lead to greater financial instability.

In the end, we will see that the debt-fueled prosperity that the western world has been enjoying for decades was just an illusion.

Debt is a very cruel master.  It will almost always bring more pain and suffering than you anticipated.

It is easy to get into debt, but it can be very difficult to get out of debt.

There is no way that the western world can unwind this debt spiral easily.

The only way that another massive economic crisis can be put off for even a little while would be for the powers that be to “kick the can down the road” a little farther by creating even more debt.

But in the end, you can never solve a debt problem with more debt.

The next several years are going to be an incredibly clear illustration of why debt is bad.

When the dominoes start to fall, we are going to witness a financial avalanche which is going to destroy the finances of millions of people.

You might want to try to get out of the way while you still can.

20 Signs Of Imminent Financial Collapse In Europe

Are we on the verge of a massive financial collapse in Europe?  Rumors of an imminent default by Greece are flying around all over the place and Greek government officials are openly admitting that they are running out of money.  Without more bailout funds it is absolutely certain that Greece will soon default on their debts.  But German officials are threatening to hold up more bailout payments until the Greeks “do what they agreed to do”.  The attitude in Germany is that the Greeks must now pay the price for going into so much debt.  Officials in the Greek government are becoming frustrated because the more austerity measures they implement, the more their economy shrinks.  As the economy shrinks, so do tax payments and the budget deficit gets even larger.  Meanwhile, hordes of very angry Greek citizens are violently protesting in the streets.  If Germany allows Greece to default, that is going to start financial dominoes tumbling around the globe and it is going to be a signal to the financial markets that there is a very real possibility that Portugal, Italy and Spain will be allowed to default as well.  Needless to say, all hell would break loose at that point.

So why is Greece so important?

Well, there are two reasons why Greece is so important.

Number one, major banks all over Europe are heavily invested in Greek debt.  Since many of those banks are also very highly leveraged, if they are forced to take huge losses on Greek debt it could wipe many of them out.

Secondly, if Greece defaults, it tells the markets that Portugal, Italy and Spain would likely not be rescued either.  It would suddenly become much, much more expensive for those countries to borrow money, which would make their already huge debt problems far worse.

If Italy or Spain were to go down, it would wipe out major banks all over the globe.

Recently, Paul Krugman of the New York Times summarized the scale of the problem the world financial system is now facing….

Financial turmoil in Europe is no longer a problem of small, peripheral economies like Greece. What’s under way right now is a full-scale market run on the much larger economies of Spain and Italy. At this point countries in crisis account for about a third of the euro area’s G.D.P., so the common European currency itself is under existential threat.

Most Americans don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the financial condition of Europe.

But they should.

Right now, the U.S. economy is really struggling to stay out of another recession.  If Europe has a financial meltdown, there is no way that the United States is going to be able to avoid another huge economic downturn.

If you think that things are bad now, just wait.  After the next major financial crisis what we are going through right now is going to look like a Sunday picnic.

The following are 20 signs of imminent financial collapse in Europe….

#1 The yield on 2 year Greek bonds is now over 60 percent.  The yield on 1 year Greek bonds is now over 110 percent.  Basically, world financial markets now fully expect that Greece will default.

#2 European bank stocks are getting absolutely killed once again today.  We have seen this happen time after time in the last few weeks.  What we are now witnessing is a clear trend.  Just like back in 2008, major banking stocks are leading the way down the financial toilet.

#3 The German government is now making preparations to bail out major German banks when Greece defaults.  Reportedly, the German government is telling banks and financial institutions to be prepared for a 50 percent “haircut” on Greek debt obligations.

#4 With thousands upon thousands of angry citizens protesting in the streets, the Greek government seems hesitant to fully implement the austerity measures that are being required of them.  But if Greece does not do what they are being told to do, Germany may withhold further aid.  German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says that Greece is now “on a knife’s edge“.

#5 Germany is increasingly taking a hard line with Greece, and the Greeks are feeling very pushed around by the Germans at this point.  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard made this point very eloquently in a recent article for the Telegraph….

Germany’s EU commissioner Günther Oettinger said Europe should send blue helmets to take control of Greek tax collection and liquidate state assets. They had better be well armed. The headlines in the Greek press have been “Unconditional Capitulation”, and “Terrorization of Greeks”, and even “Fourth Reich”.

#6 Everyone knows that Greece simply cannot last much longer without continued bailouts.  John Mauldin explained why this is so in a recent article….

It is elementary school arithmetic. The Greek debt-to-GDP is currently at 140%. It will be close to 180% by year’s end (assuming someone gives them the money). The deficit is north of 15%. They simply cannot afford to make the interest payments. True market (not Eurozone-subsidized) interest rates on Greek short-term debt are close to 100%, as I read the press. Their long-term debt simply cannot be refinanced without Eurozone bailouts.

#7 The austerity measures that have already been implemented are causing the Greek economy to shrink rapidly.  Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos has announced that the Greek government is now projecting that the economy will shrink by 5.3% in 2011.

#8 Greek Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis says that Greece only has enough cash to continue operating until next month.

#9 Major banks in the U.S., in Japan and in Europe have a tremendous amount of exposure to Greek debt.  If they are forced to take major losses on Greek debt, quite a few major banks that are very highly leveraged could suddenly be in danger of being wiped out.

#10 If Greece goes down, Portugal could very well be next.  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph explains it this way….

Yet to push Greece over the edge risks instant contagion to Portugal, which has higher levels of total debt, and an equally bad current account deficit near 9pc of GDP, and is just as unable to comply with Germany’s austerity dictates in the long run. From there the chain-reaction into EMU’s soft-core would be fast and furious.

#11 The yield on 2 year Portuguese bonds is now over 15 percent.  A year ago the yield on those bonds was about 4 percent.

#12 Portugal, Ireland and Italy now also have debt to GDP ratios that are well above 100%.

#13 Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain owe the rest of the world about 3 trillion euros combined.

#14 Major banks in the “healthy” areas of Europe could soon see their credit ratings downgraded.  For example, there are persistent rumors that Moody’s is about to downgrade the credit ratings of several major French banks.

#15 Most major European banks are leveraged to the hilt and are massively exposed to sovereign debt.  Before it fell in 2008, Lehman Brothers was leveraged 31 to 1.  Today, major German banks are leveraged 32 to 1, and those banks are currently holding a massive amount of European sovereign debt.

#16 The ECB is not going to be able to buy up debt from troubled eurozone members indefinitely.  The European Central Bank is already holding somewhere in the neighborhood of 444 billion euros of debt from the governments of Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and Spain.  On Friday, Jurgen Stark of Germany resigned from the European Central Bank in protest over these reckless bond purchases.

#17 According to London-based think tank Open Europe, the European Central Bank is now massively overleveraged….

“Should the ECB see its assets fall by just 4.23pc in value . . . its entire capital base would be wiped out.”

#18 The recent decision issued by the German Constitutional Court seems to have ruled out the establishment of any “permanent” bailout mechanism for the eurozone.  Just consider the following language from the decision….

“No permanent treaty mechanisms shall be established that leads to liability for the decisions of other states, especially if they entail incalculable consequences”

#19 Economist Nouriel Roubini is warning that without “massive stimulus” by the governments of the western world we are going to see a major financial collapse and we will find ourselves plunging into a depression….

“In the short term, we need to do massive stimulus; otherwise, there’s going to be another Great Depression”

#20 German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler is warning that “an orderly default” for Greece is not “off the table“….

”To stabilize the euro, we must not take anything off the table in the short run. That includes, as a worst-case scenario, an orderly default for Greece if the necessary instruments for it are available.”

Right now, Greece is caught in a death spiral.  The more austerity measures they implement, the more their economy slows down.  The more their economy slows down, the more their tax revenues go down.  The more their tax revenues go down, the worse their debt problems become.

Greece could end up leaving the euro, but that would make their economic problems far, far worse and it would be very damaging to the rest of the eurozone as well.

Quite a few politicians in Europe are touting a “United States of Europe” as the ultimate solution to these problems, but right now the citizens of the eurozone are overwhelming against deeper economic integration.

Plus, giving the EU even more power would mean an even greater loss of national sovereignty for the people of Europe.

That would not be a good thing.

So what we are stuck with right now is the status quo.  But the current state of affairs cannot last much longer.  Germany is getting sick and tired of giving out bailouts and nations such as Greece are getting sick and tired of the austerity measures that are being forced upon them.

At some point, something is going to snap.  When that happens, world financial markets are going to respond with a mixture of panic and fear.  Credit markets will freeze up because nobody will be able to tell who is stable and who is about to collapse.  Dominoes will start to fall and quite a few major financial institutions will be wiped out.  Governments around the world will have to figure out who they want to bail out and who they don’t want to bail out.

It will be a giant mess.

For decades, the governments of the western world have been warned that they were getting into way too much debt.

For decades, the major banks and the big financial institutions were warned that they were becoming way too leveraged and were taking far too many risks.

Well, nobody listened.

So now we get to watch a global financial nightmare play out in slow motion.

Grab some popcorn and get ready.  It is going to be quite a show.

Even Goldman Sachs Secretly Believes That An Economic Collapse Is Coming

Goldman Sachs is doing it again.  Goldman is telling the public that everything is going to be just fine, but meanwhile they are advising their top clients to bet on a huge financial collapse.  On August 16th, a 54 page report authored by Goldman strategist Alan Brazil was distributed to institutional clients.  The general public was not intended to see this report.  Fortunately, some folks over at the Wall Street Journal got their hands on a copy and they have filled us in on some of the details.  It turns out that Goldman Sachs secretly believes that an economic collapse is coming, and they have some very interesting ideas about how to make money in the turbulent financial environment that we will soon be entering.  In the report, Brazil says that the U.S. debt problem cannot be solved with more debt, that the European sovereign debt crisis is going to get even worse and that there are large numbers of financial institutions in Europe that are on the verge of collapse.  If this is what people at the highest levels of the financial world are talking about, perhaps we should all start paying attention.

There is a tremendous amount of fear in the global financial community right now.  As I wrote about the other day, the financial world is about to hit the panic button.  Things could start falling apart at any time.  Most of these big banks will not admit how bad things are publicly, but privately there is a whole lot of freaking out going on.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Brazil believes that “as much as $1 trillion in capital may be needed to shore up European banks; that small businesses in the U.S., a past driver of job production, are still languishing; and that China’s growth may not be sustainable.”

Perhaps most startling of all is what the report has to say about the debt problems of the United States and Europe.

For example, this following excerpt from the report sounds like it could have come straight from The Economic Collapse Blog….

“Solving a debt problem with more debt has not solved the underlying problem. In the US, Treasury debt growth financed the US consumer but has not had enough of an impact on job growth. Can the US continue to depreciate the world’s base currency?”

Remember, this statement was not written by some guy on the Internet.  A top Goldman Sachs analyst put it into a report for institutional investors.

The report also goes into great detail about the financial crisis in Europe.  Brazil writes about how the euro is headed for trouble and about how dozens of financial institutions in Europe could potentially be in danger of collapse.

But in any environment Goldman Sachs thinks that it can make money.  The following is how Business Insider summarized the advice that Brazil gave in the report regarding how to make money off of the impending collapse in Europe….

  • Buy a six-month put option on the Euro versus the Swiss Franc, thus betting the Euro will drop against the Franc (the Franc being the currency that an official Goldman report recently referred to as the most overvalued in the world)
  • Buy a five-year credit default swap on an index of European corporate debt—the iTraxx 9. This is a bet that some of these companies will default, and your insurance policy, the CDS, will pay off

This is so typical of Goldman Sachs.  They will say one thing publicly and then turn around and do the total opposite privately.

For example, prior to the financial crisis of 2008, Goldman Sachs was putting together mortgage-backed securities that they knew were garbage and marketing them to investors as AAA-rated investments.  On top of that, Goldman then often privately bet against those exact same securities.

The CEO of Goldman Sachs has even acknowledged that the investment bank engaged in “improper” behavior during 2006 and 2007.

For much more on the history of all this, please see this article: “How Goldman Sachs Made Tens Of Billions Of Dollars From The Economic Collapse Of America In Four Easy Steps“.

So will Goldman Sachs ever get into serious trouble for any of this?

No, of course not.

Yeah, they will get a slap on the wrist from time to time, but the reality is that the top levels of the federal government are absolutely littered with ex-employees of Goldman Sachs.  Goldman is one of the “too big to fail” banks and they are going to continue to do pretty much whatever they feel like doing.

Sadly, the power of the “too big to fail” banks just continues to grow.  At this point, the “big six” U.S. banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo) now possess assets equivalent to approximately 60 percent of America’s gross national product.

Goldman Sachs was the second biggest donor to Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008, so don’t expect Obama to do anything about any of this.

We have a financial system that is deeply, deeply corrupt and all of that corruption is a big reason why things are falling apart.

Sadly, the 54 page report mentioned above is right – we really are facing a global debt meltdown and we really are heading for an economic collapse.

You aren’t going to hear the truth from the mainstream media or from our politicians because “keeping people calm” is much more of a priority to them than telling the truth is.

The debt crisis in the United States is unsustainable and the debt crisis in Europe is unsustainable.  Right now we are in the calm before the storm, and nobody knows exactly when the storm is going to strike.

But let there be no doubt – it is coming.

The amazing prosperity that we have enjoyed for the last several decades has largely been a debt-fueled illusion.  It was a great party while it lasted, but now it is coming to an end and the aftermath of the coming crash is going to be absolutely horrific.

Keep watch and get prepared.  We don’t know exactly when the collapse is going to happen, but it is definitely on the way and now even Goldman Sachs is admitting that.

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