Bankrupt America: Bankruptcy Soars As The Country Grapples With An Unprecedented Debt Problem

America, you officially have a debt problem, and I am not just talking about the national debt.  Consumer bankruptcies are surging, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, state and local government debt loads have never been higher, and the federal government has been adding more than a trillion dollars a year to the federal debt ever since Barack Obama entered the White House.  We have been on the greatest debt binge in human history, and it has enabled us to enjoy our ridiculously high standard of living for far longer than we deserved.  Many of us have been sounding the alarm about our debt problem for a very long time, but now even the mainstream news is freaking out about it.  I have a feeling that they just want something else to hammer President Trump over the head with, but they are actually speaking the truth when they say that we are facing an unprecedented debt crisis.

For example, the New York Times just published a piece that discussed the fact that the bankruptcy rate among retirees is about three times higher than it was in 1991…

For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy.

The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

Overall, Baby Boomers are doing a whole lot better financially than the generations coming after them, and so this is very troubling news.

And here is another very troubling fact from that same article

Not only are more older people seeking relief through bankruptcy, but they also represent a widening slice of all filers: 12.2 percent of filers are now 65 or older, up from 2.1 percent in 1991.

The jump is so pronounced, the study says, that the aging of the baby boom generation cannot explain it.

Of course it isn’t just Baby Boomers that are drowning in debt.

Collectively, U.S. households are 13.15 trillion dollars in debt, which is the highest level in American history.

All over the nation, companies are also going bankrupt at a staggering pace.  This week we learned that the biggest mattress retailer in the entire country “Is considering a potential bankruptcy filing”

Mattress Firm Inc, the largest U.S. mattress retailer, is considering a potential bankruptcy filing as it seeks ways to get out of costly store leases and shut some of its 3,000 locations that are losing money, people familiar with the matter said.

Mattress Firm’s deliberations offer the latest example of a U.S. brick-and-mortar retailer struggling financially amid competition from e-commerce firms such as Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).

We have seen retailer after retailer go down, and it is being projected that this will be the worst year for retail store closings ever.

But it isn’t just retailers that are hurting.  Yesterday, I came across an article about a television manufacturer in South Carolina that just had to lay off “94 percent of their workforce”

A TV manufacturer based in South Carolina have blamed Trump’s trade tariffs for laying off 94 percent of their workforce.

Element Electronics now has just eight employees in their company after letting 126 members of staff go.

They said the tariffs imposed on goods from China mean they can no longer buy essential components for their TVs.

During this next economic downturn, I believe that we are going to see the biggest wave of corporate bankruptcies that this country has ever seen.

State and local governments don’t go bankrupt, but they are drowning in debt as well.  State and local government debt has ballooned to the highest levels on record in recent years, and one of the big reasons for this is because we are facing a coming pension crisis that threatens to absolutely overwhelm us

Many cities and states can no longer afford the unsustainable retirement promises made to millions of public workers over many years. By one estimate they are short $5 trillion, an amount that is roughly equal to the output of the world’s third-largest economy.

Certain pension funds face the prospect of insolvency unless governments increase taxes, divert funds or persuade workers to relinquish money they are owed. It is increasingly likely that retirees, as well as new workers, will be forced to take deeper benefit cuts.

Meanwhile, the federal government continues to engage in incredibly reckless financial behavior.  When Barack Obama was elected, we were 10 trillion dollars in debt, and now we are 21 trillion dollars in debt.

What that means is that we have been adding more than a trillion dollars to the national debt per year since 2008, and we continue to steal more than 100 million dollars every single hour of every single day from future generations of Americans.

And even though the Republicans have been in control in Washington, very few of our leaders seem to want to alter the trajectory that we are on.  But if something is not done, absolute disaster is a certainty.  At this point, it is being projected that our debt will reach 30 trillion dollars by 2028 if we stay on this current path.  It would be difficult to overstate the grave danger that we are facing, but nothing is being done to turn things around.  Here are some more projections from the Congressional Budget Office

In 2022, the Highway Trust Fund will run out of full funding. In 2026, the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund follows. In 2032, the Social Security trust fund surpluses run dry, and all beneficiaries regardless of age or income level will face a 21 percent across-the-board benefit cut. Before 2030, we could have trillion-dollar annual interest payments. Interest rates have been low until now, but that is changing. As rates go up, we have to pay more on new debt and on all accumulated debt.

The amount we pay in interest on the debt is set to triple over the next ten years. But if interest rates rise just 1 point higher than expected, the government will owe an extra $1.9 trillion over 10 years.

On top of everything else, everyone else around the world has been on a massive debt binge as well.

Total global debt is well above 200 trillion dollars, and it has nearly quadrupled over the past 17 years.

Are you starting to understand why they call this a “debt bubble”?

Unfortunately, all debt bubbles must burst eventually, and the one that we are in right now is definitely on borrowed time.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Why Are Investors Pulling Money Out Of Global Stock Funds At The Fastest Pace Since The Last Financial Crisis?

We haven’t seen anything like this since the financial crisis of 2008.  Investors are taking money out of global stock funds at a pace that we haven’t seen in 10 years, and many believe that this is a harbinger of tough times ahead.  Global stocks lost about 10 trillion dollars in value during the first half of 2018, and an even worse performance during the second half of the year will almost certainly push the global financial system into panic mode.  U.S. stocks have been relatively stable, and so most Americans are not too alarmed about what is happening just yet.  But if you look back throughout history, emerging market chaos is often an early warning signal that a major global crisis is on the horizon, and that is precisely what is happening right now.  Financial markets in emerging markets all over the planet are in the process of melting down, and the losses are becoming quite dramatic.

As stock prices around the planet start to plummet, investors are pulling money out of global stock funds very, very rapidly.  The following comes from CNBC

Investor money is hemorrhaging out of global stock funds at a pace not seen since just after the financial crisis exploded.

Global equity funds have seen outflows of $12.4 billion in June, a level not seen since October 2008, according to market research firm TrimTabs. Lehman Brothers collapsed in September of that year, triggering the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and helping fuel a bear market that would see major indexes lose more than 60 percent of their value.

Does this automatically mean that another major financial crisis is on the way in the United States?

No, but it is definitely not a good sign.

As CNBC also noted, investors have been taking tremendous amounts of money out of one emerging market ETF in particular…

The iShares emerging market ETF has seen $5.4 billion in outflows in June, the most of any fund, according to ETF.com.

“U.S. dollar strength and persistent underperformance seem to be driving fund investors away from non-U.S. equities,” TrimTabs said in a note.

The list of emerging market economies that are in crisis mode is beginning to get really long.  Argentina, Venezuela, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa are some of the more prominent examples.

If the chaos in emerging markets continues to intensify, the rush for the exits is going to become a stampede.  Not too long ago, I discussed the fact that the “smart money” was getting out of stocks at a pace that we haven’t seen since just before the last financial crisis, and it isn’t going to take too much to set off a full-blown financial avalanche.

In the general population, most people still seem to think that the financial system is in good shape.  But in many ways, the first half of 2018 was the worst half of a year for the global financial system since the financial crisis of 2008.  The following summary of the carnage that we have witnessed over the last 6 months comes from Zero Hedge

  • Bitcoin Worst Start To A Year Ever
  • German Banks At Lowest Since 1988
  • Onshore Yuan Worst Quarter Since 1994
  • Argentine Peso Worst Start To A Year Since 2002
  • US Financial Conditions Tightened The Most To Start A Year Since 2002
  • Global Systemically Important Banks Worst Start To A Year Since 2008
  • Global Stocks Worst Start To A Year Since 2010
  • China Stocks Worst Start To A Year Since 2010
  • German Stocks Worst Start (In USD Terms) Since 2010
  • Global Economic Data Disappointments Worst Since 2012
  • Emerging Markets, Gold, Silver Worst Start To A Year Since 2013
  • High Yield Bonds Worst Start To A Year Since 2013
  • Offshore Yuan Worst Month Since Aug 2015
  • Global Bonds Worst Start To A Year Since 2015
  • Treasury Yield Curve Down Record 16 Of Last 18 Quarters

And as I mentioned above, global stocks lost about 10 trillion dollars in value over the last 6 months.

When the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates, it puts a lot of financial stress on emerging markets.  It becomes much more expensive to take out dollar-denominated loans, and it also becomes much more expensive to pay back existing dollar-denominated debts.

But the Fed has not listened to appeals from the rest of the world, and has decided to accelerate the pace of rate hikes instead.

Meanwhile, the trade wars that the United States has started with other nations continue to escalate.  Here are the latest developments

U.S. farmers and food producers are in the cross-hairs of a global trade conflict that shows no signs of abating anytime soon — and things are about to escalate in a big way on Sunday.

New tariffs will be imposed by Canada on beef, and more retaliation will come this week when China and Mexico take aim at pork. China’s also planning a 25 percent tariff on soybeans on July 6 in addition to hikes on pork duties, and Mexico’s 20 percent levy on “the other white meat” is set to begin July 5.

Meanwhile, the European Union’s initial duties worth $3.2 billion took effect June 22. Most of the duties amount to 25 percent, and include a variety of U.S. products, including motorcycles, boats, whiskey and peanut butter.

If nobody gives in, economic activity will start to slow down substantially.  This is what CNN says that we should expect…

Here’s how the dominoes could fall: First, businesses would be hit with higher costs triggered by tariffs. Then, companies won’t be able to figure out how to get the materials they need. Eventually, confidence among executives and households would drop. Businesses would respond by drastically scaling back spending.

A perfect storm is starting to emerge, and investors are getting spooked.

If financial problems continue to get worse in emerging markets, and if the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates, and if these trade wars continue to grow, it is only a matter of time before we have a major market catastrophe in the United States.

The storm clouds on the horizon have just kept getting darker and darker, and many analysts all over the nation agree that this is the gloomiest that things have looked since 2008.

Hopefully a way can be found to turn things around, but I wouldn’t count on it…

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Why Is The Mainstream Media Suddenly Buzzing About “Another Global Financial Crisis”?

All of a sudden, the mainstream media is starting to sound a lot like The Economic Collapse Blog.  Throughout the Obama years, the mainstream media in the United States always seemed extremely hesitant to suggest that difficult economic times may be ahead, but now talk of “another global financial crisis” seems to be all over the place.  Is this because they truly believe that one is coming, or is it just another angle that they can use to attack Donald Trump?  In any event, it is undeniable that evidence is mounting that big trouble could be right around the corner.  European financial markets are already in meltdown mode, a major international trade war has just erupted, the worst “retail apocalypse” in modern U.S. history is accelerating, and our debt problems continue to grow with each passing day.  Normally the mainstream news is much more subdued than I am about all of this stuff, and so I was very surprised to see reporter James Pethokoukis come out with an article entitled “Here comes another global financial crisis”

Investors are increasingly worried that an escalating political crisis in Italy could lead to a populist, euroskeptic government taking power. As a result, there’s rising uncertainty about whether the country might eventually abandon the euro currency zone or default on its giant debt pile. To make things worse, the Trump administration continues to toy with the idea of a trade war with Europe and China. That would be the last thing the global economy would need if the Italian situation deteriorates further. Debt crises and trade wars are a toxic combination.

And remember, this comes just days after George Soros ominously declared that “we may be heading into another major financial crisis.”

So what has changed?

Certainly, what is happening in Italy is starting to get everyone’s attention.  Here is more from James Pethokoukis

Italy is the eurozone’s third-largest economy, 10 times the size of Greece’s. It also has the world’s third-largest sovereign debt market, some $2.7 trillion. Only Greece has a higher public debt-to-GDP ratio in the eurozone. My AEI colleague Desmond Lachman, a former International Monetary Fund official and Wall Street emerging market strategist, argues that Italy’s troubles have the potential to roil the global economy much like the 2008 Lehman bankruptcy. (The 10th anniversary of “Free Market Day” is coming!) America wouldn’t be spared.

And it isn’t just Italy.  Financial institutions all over Europe are deeply troubled, and that includes the largest bank in Germany.

On Thursday, Deutsche Bank’s stock price crashed to an all-time low.  This caused such a stir that the bank was actually forced to issue a statement about it.

I have been writing about the troubles at Deutsche Bank for a very long time.  When they finally go down for good, it is going to create a “Lehman Brothers moment” for the entire planet.  This week, there were two key revelations that led to the dramatic stock price decline.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

This came after leaked double-whammy revelations the morning: One reported by the Financial Times, that the FDIC had put Deutsche Bank’s US operations on its infamous “Problem Bank List”; and the other one, reported by the Wall Street Journal, that the Fed, as main bank regulator, had walloped the bank last year with a “troubled condition” designation, one of the lowest rankings on its five-level scoring system.

Meanwhile, the other major factor that has investors starting to panic is the beginning of an international trade war.

It takes a great deal to get the Canadians upset, but they have already retaliated against the tariffs that the Trump administration just imposed on them…

Canada will retaliate against new U.S. tariffs by imposing its own trade barriers on U.S. steel, aluminum and other products, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Thursday.

Freeland said Canada plans to slap dollar-for-dollar tariffs on the U.S. The Nafta partner’s proposed import taxes would also cover whiskey, orange juice and other food products alongside the steel and aluminum tariffs.

And it is expected that we will see retaliation from the Chinese, the Europeans and Mexico shortly.  All of this is causing a great deal of consternation on Capitol Hill, and it could mean big trouble for Republicans in November.

At the same time all of this is going on, this week we learned that 13 of Bank of America’s 19 “bear market indicators” have now been triggered.  The following summary comes from Zero Hedge

Specifically, the following indicators have now been triggered, with the latest 2 bolded:

  • Bear markets have always been preceded by the Fed hiking rates by at least 75bp from the cycle trough
  • Minimum returns in the last 12m of a bull market have been 11%
  • Minimum returns in the last 24m of a bull market have been 30%
  • 9m price return (top decile) vs. S&P 500 equalweight index
  • Consensus projected long-term growth (top decile) vs. S&P 500 equalweight index
  • We have yet to see a bear market when the 100 level had not been breached in the prior 24m
  • Similarly, we have yet to see a bear market when the 20 level had not been breached in the prior 6m
  • Companies beating on both EPS & Sales outperformed the S&P 500 by less than 1ppt within the last three quarters
  • While not always a major change, aggregate growth expectations tend to rise within the last 18m of bull markets
  • Trailing PE + CPI y/y% >20 in the prior 12m
  • Based on 1- and 3-month estimate revision trends; see footnote for more detail
  • Trailing PE + CPI (y/y%) >20 within the last 12m
  • In the preceding 12m of all but one (1961) bull market peak, the market has pulled back by 5%+ at least once

And here are the 6 indicators that have yet to ring the proverbial bell.

  • Each of the last three bear markets has started when a net positive % of banks were tightening C&I lending standards
  • Companies with S&P Quality ratings of B or lower outperform stocks rated B+ or higher
  • Forward 12m earnings yield (top decile) vs. S&P 500 equalweight index
  • A contrarian measure of sell side equity optimism; sell signal trigged in the prior 6m
  • A contrarian measure of buy side optimism
  • Does not always lead or catch every peak and all but one inversion (1970) has coincided with a bear market within 24m

Like so many others, I’ve got a bad feeling about all of this.

And so does best-selling author James Rickards.  He seems quite convinced that we are heading for the largest market collapse that anyone has ever seen

Each crisis is bigger than the one before. In complex dynamic systems such as capital markets, risk is an exponential function of system scale. Increasing market scale correlates with exponentially larger market collapses.

This means that the larger size of the system implies a future global liquidity crisis and market panic far larger than the Panic of 2008.

Today, systemic risk is more dangerous than ever. Too-big-to-fail banks are bigger than ever, have a larger percentage of the total assets of the banking system and have much larger derivatives books.

It has been 10 years since 2008, and conditions are definitely ripe for another great financial crisis.

Stay frosty my friends, because it looks like events are going to accelerate greatly in the months ahead.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

European Implosion Sends Panic Through Global Markets As George Soros Warns ‘We May Be Heading For Another Major Financial Crisis’

I told you to keep your eyes on Europe.  On Tuesday, widespread panic shot through European financial markets and this deeply affected U.S. markets as well.  The Dow Jones industrial average fell 391 points, and at this point the Dow and the S&P 500 have been down for three trading sessions in a row.  But the big news is what is happening over in Europe.  Tuesday’s crash represented the largest one day move for 2 year Italian bonds ever, and Italian bank stocks are now down a whopping 24 percent from their April highs.  Overall, European banks have fallen a total of 11 percent over the last four days, and it isn’t just banks in troubled countries such as Italy and Spain that are hurting.  The biggest bank in Europe, Deutsche Bank, just keeps on tumbling and is now just barely above all-time lows.  A few days ago when I wrote that the next global economic crisis “could be just around the corner”, there were some people that criticized me for making such a statement.  Well, as you will see below, now this fact has become so obvious that even George Soros is saying it.

Those that are ignoring what is going on in Italy are making a tragic mistake.  Italy is the third largest economy in the eurozone, and even the Wall Street Journal is admitting that its bond market is “in meltdown”…

Risk aversion is back. Italy is the focal point, with its bond market in meltdown, its politics in crisis after President Sergio Mattarella blocked the formation of an antiestablishment government, and its credit rating under threat.

That is all now making bigger waves: Europe’s deepening troubles and disappointing global growth signals are sparking a sudden rally in haven bonds like U.S. Treasurys.

The next financial crisis has already arrived in Europe, and the primary reason for this crisis has to do with the giant mess that Italy’s government has become.  The following summary of the current situation comes from CNBC

Italy has been without a government since an inconclusive vote in early March, with anti-establishment political groups abandoning their efforts to form a coalition over the weekend amid a dispute with the country’s head of state.

President Sergio Mattarella, who was installed by a previous pro-EU government, refused to accept the nomination of euroskeptic candidate Paolo Savona for economy minister on Sunday.

Instead, he set the country on a path to another snap vote by appointing former International Monetary Fund (IMF) official Carlo Cottarelli as interim prime minister.

Of course the Italian parliament will never accept Cottarelli, and it looks like we are heading for snap elections in either July or August.

What is at stake in these elections is of the utmost importance to all of Europe.  As Politico recently discussed, if the Italian people continue to move toward anti-establishment parties we could actually see Italy leave the euro or even leave the EU altogether…

Italy, the third-largest EU power once Britain leaves, may sooner or later be run by two parties who agree on little other than their apparent eagerness to break stuff. It could be Italy’s debt — a default in the trillions of euros. It could be the euro, if they follow through on past promises to hold a referendum on membership in the single currency. And what’s ultimately broken could be the EU as we know it, if any such referendum goes against Brussels, as most that have been held have done.

The EU survived Brexit, but there is a lot of doubt as to whether it could also survive a defection by Italy.

During a speech on Tuesday, George Soros soberly assessed the current state of affairs in Europe.  According to Bloomberg, at one point he stated that “we may be heading for another major financial crisis.”

It is unusual for Soros to have such a gloomy tone.  He really seemed to quite pessimistic about Europe’s future, and he even went as far to say that “everything that could go wrong has gone wrong”

The stark warning from the billionaire money manager comes as Italian bond yields have jumped to multi-year highs and major emerging economies including Turkey and Argentina are struggling to contain the fallout from runaway inflation. Soros, who has been the object of ire by the government of his native Hungary, saved his gloomiest outlook for the EU.

“Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong,” he said, citing the refugee crisis and austerity policies that catapulted populists into power, as well as “territorial disintegration” exemplified by Brexit. “It is no longer a figure of speech to say that Europe is in existential danger; it is the harsh reality,” he said.

I must admit that I agree with his assessment of the situation in Europe.  The EU most definitely is in “existential danger”, and I believe that we are in the beginning stages of the worst financial crisis in modern European history.

So what should be expect to see in the weeks ahead?

Well, here are three things to keep an eye on…

#1 The chaos is likely to continue for Italian financial markets.

#2 The euro is likely to continue to fall relative to the U.S. dollar.

#3 Trouble signs are likely to continue to erupt at European banking giants such as Deutsche Bank.

I have been warning about Italy, the euro and Deutsche Bank for a very long time, but because things didn’t fall apart right away a lot of people thought that the problems had been solved.

But just because something doesn’t happen in the short-term doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to happen.  The long-term trends that are destroying Europe’s financial system took a long time to mature, and we could all see what was happening, but now we have finally reached a major crisis point.

Of course the European elite could try to “extend and pretend” by pulling a few more tricks out of their sleeves, but at some point even they will lose control.  There is only so much that can be done, and those holding the reigns of power in Europe are almost out of ammunition.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

12 Indications That The Next Major Global Economic Crisis Could Be Just Around The Corner

There have not been so many trouble signs for the global economy in a very long time.  Analysts are sounding the alarm about junk bond defaults, the smart money is getting out of stocks at an astounding rate, mortgage rates are absolutely skyrocketing, and Europe is already facing a full blown financial meltdown.  Of course expectations that another global economic crisis will happen among the general population are probably at an all-time low right now, but the reality of the matter is that we are probably closer to a new one erupting than at any point since the last one in 2008.  Since the last financial crisis our long-term debt problems have just continued to grow, and there are many that believe that the next crisis will actually be far worse than what we experienced ten years ago.

So how bad are things at this moment?

The following are 12 indications that the next major global economic crisis could be just around the corner…

#1 The “smart money” is getting out of stocks at a rate that we haven’t seen since just before the financial crisis of 2008.

#2 Moody’s is warning that a “particularly large wave” of junk bond defaults is coming.  And as I have written about so many times before, junk bonds are often an early warning indicator for a major financial crisis.

#3 According to the FDIC, a closely watched category known as “assets of problem banks” more than tripled during the first quarter of 2018.  What that means is that some really big banks are now officially in “problem” territory.

#4 U.S. Treasury bonds are having the worst start to a year since the Great Depression.

#5 Mortgage interest rates just hit a 7 year high, and they have been rising at the fastest pace in nearly 50 years.  This is going to be absolutely crippling for the real estate and housing industries.

#6 Retail industry debt defaults have hit a record high in 2018.

#7 We are on pace for the worst year for retail store closings ever.

#8 The two largest economies on the entire globe are on the verge of starting an international trade war.

#9 The 9th largest economy in the world, Italy, is in the midst of yet another financial meltdown.  In fact, this one appears to be the worst yet, and there are fears that it could spread to other areas of the eurozone.

#10 Italian banking stocks crashed really hard this week.

#11 Italian two year bond yields are the highest that they have been since the crisis of 2014.

#12 German banking giant Deutsche Bank just announced that it will be cutting another 7,000 jobs as it “seeks to turn the page on years of losses”.  Those of you that have followed my work for a long time know that I have written extensively about Deutsche Bank, and it really is amazing that it has survived for this long.  If Deutsche Bank fails in 2018, it will essentially be a “Lehman Brothers moment” for the entire planet.

The mainstream media in the United States almost entirely ignores Europe, but I believe that what is going on over there is the key right now.

Italy is a financial basket case, and Europe isn’t going to be able to handle a complete and total Italian financial collapse.  If you will remember, Europe could barely handle what happened in Greece, and the Italian economy is many times the size of Greece.

The can has been kicked down the road several times before on the Italian crisis, but now we are getting to the point where it simply won’t be able to be kicked down the road any further.

And once things start unraveling over in Europe, we will be deeply affected in the United States as well.  The global financial system is more interconnected than ever before, and at this point we are even more vulnerable than we were just prior to the crisis of 2008.

When this thing breaks loose, it won’t matter who is in the White House, who is in Congress or who is running the Federal Reserve.

When this bubble bursts there is nothing that anyone will be able to do to stop it.

Global central banks have been able to buy a few extra years of time by engaging in unprecedented levels of intervention, but now they are almost out of ammunition and events are beginning to escalate at a very frightening pace.

We shall see if they can pull another rabbit out of a hat in 2018, but I wouldn’t count on it…

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist.  He is the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Stock Market Falls Another 724 Points! What In The World Is Happening On Wall Street?

We just witnessed the 5th largest single day stock market crash in U.S. history.  On Thursday the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 724 points, and many believe that this is just the beginning of another huge wave down for stock prices.  After this latest dramatic decline, the Dow is now down 3.1 percent so far in 2018, and overall it is down 9.99 percent from the all-time high in January.  A 10 percent decline is officially considered to be “correction” territory, and that means that we are just about there.

So why are stock prices falling so much?  Well, USA Today is blaming the potential for a trade war with China, the latest Facebook scandal and “the impact of rising interest rates on the economy”…

U.S. stocks sold off sharply Thursday, with the Dow tumbling more than 700 points amid growing fears of a trade fight between the U.S. and its trading partners after President Trump said he will impose billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese imports.

The heavy selling on Wall Street was exacerbated by continued weakness in shares of Facebook as well as concerns about the impact of rising interest rates on the economy.

Of course the possibility of a trade war between the two largest economies on the planet is certainly the greatest concern that the markets are grappling with at the moment.  According to Ian Winer, any sign of retaliation by China “will really spook people”…

“A global trade war, whether it’s real or perceived, is what’s weighing on the market,” said Ian Winer, head of equities at Wedbush Securities. “There’s this huge uncertainty now. If China decides to get tough on agriculture or anything else, that will really spook people.”

Trump announced tariffs on about $50 billion worth of Chinese imports on Thursday afternoon. It’s not clear which products will be hit, but the action is aimed at curbing China’s troubling theft of US intellectual property.

And we can be quite sure that China will retaliate.

In fact, before the end of the day on Thursday the Chinese embassy boldly declared that China will “fight to the end”

The Chinese embassy released a statement late Thursday saying China “would fight to the end..with all necessary measures.”

What people need to understand is that China has been taking advantage of us for decades.

For example, many U.S. vehicles cost three times as much in China because of all the tariffs that China slaps on them.  But we have been allowing China to flood our shores with giant mountains of super cheap goods with no tariffs at all.

This is why we have been buying far more from China than they have been buying from us.  It has been an unfair playing field.  As a result of our massive trade deficit with China, they have been systematically getting wealthier and we have been getting poorer.

Since China joined the WTO in 2001, we have lost more than 70,000 manufacturing facilities and millions of good paying jobs.  We have to beg China to lend us back a lot of the money that we send to them, and as a result the Chinese now own more than a trillion dollars of our national debt.

So we simply cannot afford to continue to allow China to take advantage of us, but if we start standing up to them it is inevitable that they will strike back. Here are just a few of the things that they could do

1. Impose higher tariffs on all US exports to China

2. Restrict market access for US firms in China

3. Provide preferential treatment to US competitors

4. Restrict US travels by Chinese nationals

5. Sell US treasuries and buy other government bonds

But what is the alternative?

Should we just continue to allow China to walk all over us?

Hopefully we can negotiate with China without causing a horrible trade war, because without a doubt trade wars are not good for the global economy

Trade wars are bad for the global economy, as they cause prices that consumers and businesses pay for goods and services to rise. A rise in inflationary pressures could prompt the U.S. central bank to speed up its pace of interest rate hikes, which could slow economic growth. Trade skirmishes can also hurt U.S. exports and corporate earnings.

And in the short-term, any news about a potential trade war will continue to rattle the financial markets.  At this point more than half of the companies on the S&P 500 are already in “correction territory”, and dozens of companies are already down at least 20 percent from their one year highs…

The U.S. stock market is under pressure once again, with more than half the S&P 500 falling into correction territory.

More than 275 components in the broad index were down at least 10 percent from their 52-week highs as of 11:04 a.m. ET. Of those companies, 84 were in bear-market territory, or down at least 20 percent from their one-year high.

As most of you already know, my race for Congress is extremely close and voting day is on May 15th.  If you would like to send someone to Washington that understands the long-term economic and financial challenges that we are facing, I would very much encourage you to get involved.  If you would like to make a financial contribution, there are several ways that you can do that…

Donate By Credit Card Online: https://secure.anedot.com/michaelsnyderforcongress/donate

Donate By Paypal: https://donorbox.org/michael-snyder-for-congress

Donate By Check: Make your check out to “Michael Snyder For Congress” and send it to the following address…

Michael Snyder For Congress
PO Box 1136
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805

We have already seen more financial shaking in 2018 than we have during any year since the great financial crisis of 2008.

Hopefully things will settle down in the days ahead, but I wouldn’t count on it.  Our long-term economic and financial problems are really starting to catch up with us, and Donald Trump is trying to navigate our ship through some very rough waters.

As always, let us hope for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District.  If you would like to help him win on May 15th, you can donate online, by Paypal or by sending a check made out to “Michael Snyder for Congress” to P.O. Box 1136 – Bonners Ferry, ID 83805.  To learn more, please visit MichaelSnyderForCongress.com.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average Falls Another 420 Points As Investors Panic About A Potential Trade War

Many had been hoping that the financial shaking on Wall Street that we witnessed in February would subside in March, but so far that is definitely not the case.  On Thursday, the Dow fell another 420 points as investors fretted about the potential for a trade war.  Over the past month, we have seen many days when stock prices have been way down and other days when stock prices have been way up.  This is precisely the sort of wild volatility that we would expect to see if a major financial crisis was brewing, and the truth is that our financial system is far more vulnerable today than it was back in 2008.

Many Americans have assumed that the U.S. economy must be in great shape since the stock market has just kept going up for the past several years.  But the reality of the matter is that stock prices are no longer connected to economic reality whatsoever.  The U.S. economy has not grown by 3 percent or more in 12 years, but stock prices have been shooting into the stratosphere thanks to relentless central bank intervention.

But what goes up must eventually come down, and on Thursday we witnessed another stunning decline

The Dow Jones industrial average closed 420.22 points lower at 24,608.98 after rising more than 150 points earlier in the day. The 30-stock index fell as much as 586 points.

The S&P 500 declined 1.4 percent to end at 2,677.67 — erasing its year-to-date gains — with industrials as the worst-performing sector. It also briefly broke below its 100-day moving average, a key technical level. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.3 percent to 7,180.56 and dipped below its 50-day moving average.

So why did this happen?

Well, the mainstream media is placing the blame for Thursday’s decline on Trump’s new tariffs

President Trump said Thursday he will impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that could increase American jobs in those sectors but also raise prices.

The actions could hurt a number of industries including automakers and suppliers, boat and plane manufacturers and even beer companies.

There’s also concern the move could trigger a “trade war” in which countries would retaliate by imposing tariffs, or other measures, in response.

Yes, there will be some adjustments in the short-term, but Trump is quite correct to impose these sorts of tariffs on nations that are taking advantage of us.

For decades we have allowed China and other major exporting countries to greatly take advantage of us, and as a result we have lost more than 70,000 manufacturing facilities and millions of good paying jobs.

Of course China and other countries that have been taking advantage of us may try to strike back after being hit by these new tariffs, and many fear that this could result in a trade war.  The following comes from CNBC

“One of the largest fears we have is we’ve got tariffs. We could have trade wars, and it could blow up NAFTA negotiations, and nobody wins a trade war,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR.

We are always going to need to trade with the rest of the world, but we need trade agreements that are fair.

In the end, we simply cannot sacrifice American companies and American middle class jobs just to make the rest of the world happy with us.  I fully support President Trump’s America First agenda, and when I go to Washington I am going to work very hard to help President Trump bring jobs back to this country.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District.  If you would like to help him win on May 15th, you can donate online, by Paypal or by sending a check made out to “Michael Snyder for Congress” to P.O. Box 1136 – Bonners Ferry, ID 83805.  To learn more, please visit MichaelSnyderForCongress.com.

The Dow Falls 1,032 Points! Has The Financial Crisis Of 2018 Officially Arrived?

We haven’t seen this kind of a bloodbath on Wall Street since the great financial crisis of 2008.  Prior to this week, the largest single day decline for the Dow Jones industrial average that we had ever seen was 777 points.  That record was absolutely shattered on Monday when the Dow fell 1,175 points, and on Thursday the Dow dropped another 1,032 points.  This was the third decline greater than 500 points within the last five trading days, and the Dow is poised to post its worst week since the dark days of October 2008.  So is this just a “correction”, or has the financial crisis of 2018 officially arrived?

At this point, many of the experts are pointing to the bond market as the primary reason why stock prices are crashing.  The following comes from CNBC

There’s a not-so-quiet rebellion going on in the bond market, and it threatens to take 10-year yields above 3 percent much faster than expected just a few weeks ago.

As a result, the bumpy ride for stocks could continue for a while.

And without a doubt, analysts such as Jeff Gundlach clearly warned that there would be big trouble for stocks as bond yields rose…

Gundlach had correctly predicted that if the 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield went above 2.63 percent, U.S. stock investors would be spooked.

“Clearly, the market gets shaky when the 10-year hits 2.85 percent,” Gundlach said. “Just look at this week, and today. Makes one consider what could be coming if 10s push over 3 and 30s (30-year Treasury bond) over 3.22 percent.”

The 10-year yield is currently trading around 2.83 percent. Gundlach said it is “hard to love bonds at even a 3 percent” yield. “Rising interest rates are a problem and the U.S. is in debt and there is massive bond supply,” Gundlach said.

Moving forward, it will be important to keep a close eye on bond yields.  Every time they start going back up, we are likely to see stock prices go down

“We’re in a vicious cycle here. If the yields go up, you have to sell stocks. If you sell stocks, and they crash, yields come back down,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR.

The bond market’s struggle to price in higher interest rates has been kneecapped each time the stock market reacts and sells off. Strategists expect the two markets to ultimately find an equilibrium but not without more sharp swings.

This is one of the reasons why the budget deal going through Congress right now is such a bad idea.  Hundreds of billions of dollars of additional spending on top of what we are already doing is going to push up bond yields, and that is just going to make the pressure on Wall Street even worse.

Of course the folks over at the Federal Reserve could intervene, but they don’t seem inclined to do that at this point.  Late last year the Fed finally removed artificial life support from the financial system, and at first everything seemed to be going well.  But now a new crisis is brewing, and we shall see if the Fed still remains determined to keep raising rates.  The following comes from Peter Schiff

The Fed were dragging their feet in raising rates while Obama was president.  They talked about raising rates but at the end of the day, they barely moved them up. The pace of hikes has increased since Trump was elected, but part of the reason for that…I mean, the media is not talking down the economy; if anything they’re overhyping the economy.  Everybody’s talking about how strong the economy is, how everything is great. Everybody is taking credit for this great economy. The Fed wants to take credit for it, Trump wants to take credit for it, so if everybody wants to talk about how great the economy is, the Fed doesn’t have any excuse if it doesn’t raise rates…in order to keep up the pretense that the economy is as strong as everybody thinks, the Fed is in this box where it has to raise rates.

But they [the Fed] can’t tell the truth that it’s really a bubble, and if we raise rates, we’re gonna prick it, so they’re kinda in this bind.  And they are still telegraphing that they’re gonna raise rates three or four times this year.  And that is the problem.

It has been my contention for a very long time that the greatest financial bubble in human history would not be able to continue without artificial support from the Fed and other global central banks.

Once the Fed finally ended their artificial support for the markets late last year, I anticipated that there would be trouble, but stock prices continued to rise through the holiday season.

But now reality is setting in, and investors are rushing like mad for the exits.  I really like how Brandon Smith described the current state of affairs in his recent article…

After I predicted the election of Donald Trump, I also predicted that central banks would begin pulling the plug on life support for equities markets. This did in fact take place with the Fed’s continued program of interest rate increases and the reduction of their balance sheet, which effectively strangles the flow of cheap credit to banking and corporate institutions that fueled stock buybacks for years. Without this constant and ever expansionary easy fiat, there is nothing left to act as a crutch for stocks except perhaps blind faith. And blind faith in the economy always ends up being smacked down by the ugly realities of mathematics.

Without artificial support, gravity will try to pull stock valuations back to their long-term averages.  That would mean a decline for the Dow of at least 10,000 more points, but major financial institutions are so highly leveraged and Wall Street has become such a giant casino that our system literally cannot handle that sort of a decline.

The only way that the game can continue is for the Fed and other global central banks to intervene and prop up the absurd financial bubble that they originally created.

Absent that, this crisis is likely to go from bad to worse, and we may soon find ourselves facing a financial panic unlike anything that we have ever seen before.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump 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.

Just A Coincidence?: The Dow Goes From Being 567 Points Down To 567 Points Up At The Closing Bell

Seriously?  We were expecting that Tuesday would be an unusual day on Wall Street, and that was definitely the case.  At the low point, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 567 points, but at the closing bell it was up 567 points.  That is a swing of more than 1000 points, but what is more surprising is the exact symmetry of those numbers.  Is this just some sort of bizarre coincidence?

At the opening bell, stock prices collapsed and many were concerned that we were heading for another really bad day for investors.  According to CNBC, the Dow was down 567 points at the lowest point…

The Dow Jones industrial average opened with a big whoosh lower, then rallied all the way back. As of 3:41 p.m. ET, the Dow is 600 points higher and trading at a new session high. At its session low it was down by 567 points.

But then momentum shifted and the Dow soared.  By the end of the Day, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 567 points.  The following comes from CNN

The Dow plunged 567 points at the open on Tuesday and briefly sank into correction territory — a drop of 10% from its record high. But those losses quickly vanished, and the index ended the day up 567.

It was the Dow’s biggest point gain since August 2015 and the fourth-largest in history. The percentage gain of 2.3% is the biggest since January 2016.

It is not unusual to see market swings of this magnitude during times of high volatility.  Even during times of panic, at some point the sellers get exhausted and investors looking for buying opportunities come surging in.  On Tuesday, this shift in momentum came almost immediately after the opening

“I thought we were going to see the bottom within five minutes of when we opened. I think that’s basically what we’re seeing,” said Ed Keon, portfolio manager at QMA, the quantitative and dynamic asset allocation business of PGIM. “At these levels, stocks represent pretty good value and we’re adding to equity exposure.” Keon said it’s too early to call a bottom but he expects that the worse is over.

But just because the Dow was up more than 500 points today does not mean that the crisis is over.

It is important to remember that there are wild swings both ways during any market crisis.  For example, 9 of the 20 best days in stock market history were right in the middle of the financial crisis of 2008.  So if a new financial crisis is indeed brewing, we would certainly expect to see days when the Dow rises dramatically.

Markets tend to do well when things are calm, and they tend to go down when things get choppy.  So the fact that there was such volatility on Wall Street today is not a good sign.

Hopefully things will settle down, because the markets will not be able to handle too much more shaking.  There is so much leverage on Wall Street today, and as Carl Icahn recently told CNBC, one of these days all of this leverage is “going to blow up the market”…

Billionaire Carl Icahn told CNBC on Tuesday there are too many exotic, leveraged products for investors to trade, and one day these securities are going to blow up the market.

The market is a “casino on steroids” with all these exchange-traded funds and exchange-traded notes, he said.

These funds, especially the leveraged ones, are the “fault lines” that will eventually lead to an earthquake on Wall Street, he said. “These are just the beginnings of a rumbling.”

Wednesday will be a key day.  If the markets are nice and calm, that will be a really good sign.

But if we see tremendous movement in one direction or the other, that could indicate that more shaking is on the way.

In any event, the absurdly inflated stock prices of today are simply not sustainable.  Stock valuations always return to their long-term averages eventually, and that will be true in this case as well.

What goes up must come down, and we have certainly witnessed this with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies lately.  As far as stocks are concerned, the best that we can hope for in the long-term is a soft landing, but history tells us that is usually not how giant financial bubbles come to an end.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump 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.

-1,175 Points! We Just Witnessed The Largest One Day Stock Market Crash Ever

The mainstream media seems so surprised that the stock market is crashing, but the truth is that it isn’t a surprise at all.  In fact, this crash is way, way overdue.  If the Dow Jones industrial average fell another 10,000 points, stock prices would still be overvalued.  I have been warning and warning and warning that this would happen, because stock valuations always return to their long-term averages eventually.  On Monday, the Dow was down a staggering 1,175 points, which was the largest single day decline that we have ever seen by a very wide margin.  In fact, it shattered the old record by nearly 400 points.

Shortly after 3 PM, all hell broke loose on Wall Street.  The Dow dropped by more than 800 points in just 10 minutes.  At one point on Monday, the Dow was down nearly 1,600 points, but a brief rally cut those losses roughly in half.  However, the rally did not last long and stock prices collapsed hard as the market closed.  At this moment, the Dow is already down more than 2,200 points from the peak of the market, and we are not too far from officially entering “correction” territory.

Once stocks start falling, it can trigger a massive rush for the exits, and that is what happened on Monday.  In particular, investors started to panic once the Dow broke through the 50-day moving average

“As soon as we broke the 50-day moving average … we saw volatility spike,” said Jeff Kilburg, CEO of KKM Financial. “It’s just been downhill from there.”

Other waves of selling were triggered once the 25,000 and 24,000 barriers on the Dow were breached.  In order to protect against losing too much money, many investors have stop losses set at psychologically-important levels.  The following comes from MarketWatch

Amplifying the slump was computer-programmed trade set to dump shares at certain levels. According to traders, the Dow DJIA, -4.60% was set to trigger trades once it fell below 25,000 and 24,000, for example, and 2,700 for the S&P 500.

Markets almost always go down faster than they go up, and once panic begins to spread on Wall Street it doesn’t take much to create a massive stampede.

In the end, this next financial crisis will be far worse than it should have been.  The Federal Reserve and other global central banks have endlessly manipulated the financial markets, and they created the biggest financial bubble in human history.

When an irrational financial bubble is growing, it can seem like things are wonderful.  But all such bubbles eventually burst, and the bursting of the bubble often does far more damage than the good that was accomplished by the manipulation of the markets.

So was there anything specific that caused the panic on Wall Street on Monday?

Yes, interest rates are rising, but as Bloomberg has noted, there wasn’t really anything noteworthy in the news that triggered the selling…

While Friday’s market rout came amid U.S. wage data on Friday that pointed to quickening inflation, which would lead to higher rates and, in turn, rising borrowing costs for companies, the selling Monday came amid few major data points.

“I think sentiment was a little too optimistic,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network. “What was driving the market up in January? It wasn’t the fundamentals, as good as they were, it was excessive confidence.”

Ultimately, time simply runs out on all irrational financial bubbles.  It is interesting to note that the Tulip price index began to crash on this exact date in 1637, and we may look back and point to February 5th as the key moment when the “financial crisis of 2018” started.

Once again, let us hope for some type of a bounce tomorrow.  Often stock prices do rebound quite a bit after an enormous decline, and many are hoping that stock prices will soar on Tuesday.

But so far the news after the market closed in New York has all been bad.  For example, CNBC is reporting that XIV has fallen more than 80 percent after hours…

An exchange-traded security which is supposed to be a bet on calm markets was collapsing after hours.

The VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term exchange-traded note (XIV) is down more than 80 percent in extended trading Monday. The security, issued by Credit Suisse, is supposed to give the opposite return of the Cboe Volatility index (VIX), the market’s widely followed turbulence gauge.

And as I write this article, it looks like markets all over Asia are going to be way down at the opening.

If stock prices keep collapsing, it could actually cause a major financial crisis.  So many financial institutions are deeply leveraged today, and many of them simply would not be able to handle a stock market decline of 30, 40 or 50 percent.

In particular, if things start to really unravel it will be important to pay special attention for any mention of “derivatives” in the financial news.  Once those dominoes start falling, we will see financial pain on a scale unlike anything that we have ever seen before in U.S. history.

Also, let us not forget that trouble signs continue to emerge for the “real economy”.  Just today, we learned that another major retail chain has filed for bankruptcy

Bon-Ton Stores, the corporate parent of several department store chains, tumbled into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as the company seeks a fresh lease on life.

Bon-Ton, whose brands include Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman and Younkers, had been on a fast track toward bankruptcy court after it recently announced plans to close 47 of its 260 stores.

I cannot stress enough that what happened on Monday is not a surprise.  The only surprise is that it took this long to happen.

Stock valuations need to fall another 40 or 50 percent just to get back to their long-term averages, and whether that happens very rapidly or takes an extended period of time, the truth is that stock valuations will return to those long-term averages.

Unfortunately for us, the central banks have created a bubble of such enormity that it could potentially collapse the entire global financial system when it finally fully bursts.

Let us hope for calmer markets on Tuesday, but let us also be mindful that at some point we are going to pay an exceedingly great price for years and years of horribly foolish decisions.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump 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.