The Beginning Of The End
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Janet Yellen: What A Horrifying Choice For Fed Chairman She Would Be

Janet YellenAre you ready for Janet Yellen?  Wall Street wants her, the mainstream media wants her and it appears that her confirmation would be a slam dunk.  She would be the first woman ever to chair the Federal Reserve, and her philosophy is that a little bit of inflation is actually good for an economy.  She was reportedly the architect for many of the unprecedented monetary decisions that Ben Bernanke made during his tenure, and that has many on Wall Street and in the media very excited.  Noting that we “already know that Yellen is on board with Bernanke’s easy money policies”, CNN recently even went so far as to publish a rabidly pro-Yellen article with this stunning headline: “Dear Mr. President: Name Yellen now!”  But after watching what a disaster Bernanke has been, do we really want more of the same?  It doesn’t really matter whether she is a woman, a man, a giant lizard or a robot, the question is whether or not she is going to continue to take us down the path to ruin that Bernanke has taken us.  As I have written about so many times, the Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems, and under Bernanke the Fed has created a mammoth financial bubble unlike anything that we have ever seen before.  If Yellen keeps us going down that road, financial disaster is inevitable.

Sadly, Yellen is not a woman that believes in free markets.  She had the following to say back in 1999

“Will capitalist economies operate at full employment in the absence of routine intervention? Certainly not.”

Yellen believes that without the “routine intervention” of the central planners at the Fed, our economy will not produce satisfactory results.

So if you thought that Bernanke was an “interventionist”, you haven’t seen anything yet.  In fact, according to Time Magazine, Yellen was continually urging Bernanke to do even more “to help stimulate the economy”…

But as the most recent financial crisis proved, a good Fed chief needs to be willing to think outside the box to achieve its goals of low, steady inflation and full employment. This is exactly what Bernanke did — using the powers of his office to launch a massive bond-buying program aimed at lowering interest rates further down the yield curve and promising to keep short-term interest rates at near zero for years. Bernanke, however, didn’t launch these programs immediately. Behind the scenes, it was reportedly Yellen who was the most forceful advocate for the Fed doing more to help stimulate the economy.

It is truly frightening to think that Yellen might turn out to be “Bernanke on steroids”.

Let’s hope that she is not the choice.

But the media is endlessly hyping her.  They keep proclaiming that she has a “good track record” when it comes to forecasting future economic conditions.

Oh really?

Back in February 2007, before the housing crash and the last financial crisis, she made the following statement…

“The bottom line for housing is that the concerns we used to hear about the possibility of a devastating collapse—one that might be big enough to cause a recession in the U.S. economy—while not fully allayed have diminished. Moreover, while the future for housing activity remains uncertain, I think there is a reasonable chance that housing is in the process of stabilizing, which would mean that it would put a considerably smaller drag on the economy going forward.”

And during a speech in December 2007 she offered up this gem…

“To sum up the story on the outlook for real GDP growth, my own view is that, under appropriate monetary policy, the economy is still likely to achieve a relatively smooth adjustment path, with real GDP growth gradually returning to its roughly 2½ percent trend over the next year or so, and the unemployment rate rising only very gradually to just above its 4¾ percent sustainable level.”

And in front of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in 2010 she openly admitted that she did not see the last financial crisis coming…

“For my own part,” Ms. Yellen said, “I did not see and did not appreciate what the risks were with securitization, the credit ratings agencies, the shadow banking system, the S.I.V.’s — I didn’t see any of that coming until it happened.”

So if she didn’t see the last crisis coming, will she see the next one coming?

Right now, she insists that everything is going to be just fine in our immediate future.

Do you believe her?

Meanwhile, economic warning flags are popping up all over the place.  As Zero Hedge recently noted, perhaps this is why a lot of high profile candidates don’t want the Fed job.  Perhaps they don’t want to be blamed for the giant economic mess that is about to happen…

With so many candidates dropping out of the race, one has to wonder why the attraction of the ‘most-powerful’ job in the world is fading. Perhaps it is not wanting to stuck between the rock of the ‘broken-market-diminishing-returns’ of moar QE and the hard place of an economy/market that is sputtering and needs moar. As Bloomberg’s Rich Yamarone notes, There’s a little known rule of thumb in the economics world: when the annual growth rate of key U.S. indicators falls below 2 percent, the economy slides into recession in the next 12 months… and more than one of them is flashing red.

But we have far bigger worries on our hands than just another recession.

Over the past several years, Fed intervention has been systematically destroying confidence in the U.S. dollar and has been making U.S. government debt less desirable.  Foreigners are already starting to dump U.S. debt, and it is only a matter of time before the U.S. dollar loses its status as the de facto reserve currency of the world.

By “kicking the can down the road”, the Fed has created tremendous structural problems which are going to come back to bite us big time in the long run.

Recklessly printing money, monetizing debt and driving interest rates down to ridiculously low levels may have had some benefits in the short-term, but in the end this giant Ponzi scheme is going to collapse in spectacular fashion.  The following is how James Howard Kunstler puts it…

The Fed can only pretend to try to get out of this self-created hell-hole. The stock market is a proxy for the economy and a handful of giant banks are proxies for the American public, and all they’ve really got going is a hideous high-frequency churn of trades in conjectural debentures that pretend to represent something hidden in the caboose of a choo-choo train of wished-for value — and hardly anyone in the nation, including those with multiple graduate degrees in abstruse crypto-sciences, can even pretend to understand it all.

When reality crosses the finish line ahead of poor, exhausted Mr. Bernanke, havoc must ensue. All the artificial props fall away and the so-called American economy is revealed for what it is: a surreal landscape of ruin with nothing left but salvage value. Very few people will get a living off of the salvage operations, and there will be fights and skirmishes everywhere by one gang or another for control of the pickings. The utility of money itself may be bygone, along with the legitimacy of anyone or anything claiming institutional authority. This is what comes of all attempts to get something for nothing.

The American people deserve to know the truth.

The Fed is not our “savior”.  The truth is that the Fed is the primary cause of many of our biggest economic problems.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “25 Fast Facts About The Federal Reserve – Please Share With Everyone You Know“.

Unfortunately, Wall Street and the mainstream media love the Fed and they appear to very much love Janet Yellen.

Yellen would be an absolutely horrifying choice for Fed Chairman, but so would any of the other names that have been floated.

America has embraced the foolishness of the financial central planners at the Federal Reserve, and in the end we will all pay a great price for that.

19 Reasons To Be Deeply Concerned About The Global Economy As We Enter The 2nd Half Of 2013

EarthIs the global economic downturn going to accelerate as we roll into the second half of this year?  There is turmoil in the Middle East, we are seeing things happen in the bond markets that we have not seen happen in more than 30 years, and much of Europe has already plunged into a full-blown economic depression.  Sadly, most Americans will never understand what is happening until financial disaster strikes them personally.  As long as they can go to work during the day and eat frozen pizza and watch reality television at night, most of them will consider everything to be just fine.  Unfortunately, the truth is that everything is not fine.  The world is becoming increasingly unstable, we are living in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet and the global financial system is even more vulnerable than it was back in 2008.  Unfortunately, most people seem to only have a 48 hour attention span at best these days.  They don’t have the patience to watch long-term trends develop.  And the coming economic collapse is not going to happen all at once.  Rather, it is like watching a very, very slow-motion train wreck happen.  The coming economic nightmare is going to unfold over a number of years.  Yes, there will be moments of great panic, but mostly it will be a steady decline into economic oblivion.  And there are a lot of indications that the second half of this year is not going to be as good as the first half was.  The following are 19 reasons to be deeply concerned about the global economy as we head into the second half of 2013…

#1 The velocity of money in the United States has plunged to an all-time low.  It is extremely difficult to have an “economic recovery” if banks are not lending money and people are not spending it…

Velocity Of Money

#2 The fall of the Egyptian government threatens to bring even more instability to the Middle East.  In response to the events in Egypt, the price of oil rose to more than 101 dollars a barrel on Wednesday.

#3 Every time the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen over $3.80 in the past three years, a stock market decline has always followed.

#4 As the world becomes increasingly unstable, massive citizen protest movements have been rising all over the globe

The protests have many different origins. In Brazil people rose up against bus fares, in Turkey against a building project. Indonesians have rejected higher fuel prices, Bulgarians the government’s cronyism.

In the euro zone they march against austerity, and the Arab spring has become a perma-protest against pretty much everything. Each angry demonstration is angry in its own way.

#5 The European sovereign debt crisis is flaring up once again.  This time it is Portugal’s turn to take center stage…

From Greece to Cyprus, Slovenia to Spain and Italy, and now most pressingly Portugal, where the finance and foreign ministers resigned in the space of two days, a host of problems is stirring after 10 months of relative calm imposed by the European Central Bank.

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho told the nation in an address late on Tuesday that he did not accept the foreign minister’s resignation and would try to go on governing.

If his government does end up collapsing, as is now more likely, it will raise immediate questions about Lisbon’s ability to meet the terms of the 78-billion-euro bailout it agreed with the EU and International Monetary Fund in 2011.

#6 It is being projected that Italy will need a major EU bailout within six months.

#7 Bond investors are starting to panic.  In fact, even prominent firms such as Pimco are seeing investors pull massive amounts of money out right now…

In June, investors pulled $9.6bn from Bill Gross’s flagship fund at Pimco, the largest single month of outflows at the fund since Morningstar records began in 1993, the investment research firm said.

The outflows came after investors pulled $1.3bn from the fund in May, which marked the first outflows since December 2011.

Overall, a whopping 80 billion dollars was pulled out of bond funds during June.

#8 Central banks are selling off staggering amounts of U.S. Treasury bonds right now.

#9 U.S. mortgage bonds just suffered their largest quarterly decline in nearly 20 years.

#10 We continue to buy far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  The U.S. trade deficit for the month of May was 45.0 billion dollars.

#11 The severe drought that the western half of the United States is suffering never seems to end.  What will it do to food prices if ranchers and farmers out west have to go through another summer like they did last year?

#12 European car sales have fallen to a 20 year low.

#13 Unemployment in the eurozone is at an all-time high.

#14 Could the paper gold Ponzi scheme be on the verge of crumbling?  There are reports that there is now a 100 day delay for gold owners to take physical delivery of their gold from some warehouses owned by the London Metal Exchange…

We’re told that bullion-buyers in London must now wait more than 100 days to take delivery of the bullion for which they have already paid.

The comedic drones at Bloomberg, and officials of the London Metal Exchange itself would have us believe this is due to “warehouse queues.” While precious metals bulls undoubtedly appreciate the imagery implied of a 100-day line-up of armored cars waiting to load their bullion – in the middle of this “bear market” – the implication is fallacious.

In an era of just-in-time inventories; the notion that there can be a 100-day backlog to load bullion into armored cars with the metal already sitting in the warehouse is ludicrous. Clearly what the LME is really reporting here is a greater-than-three-month delay to refine the gold (or silver) being purchased here – and then ship it to their warehouse.

In other words, the “bullion” which traders believe they are purchasing today is in fact merely ore which hasn’t even been dug out of the ground yet.

#15 The number of mortgage applications in the United States is falling at the fastest rate in more than 3 years.

#16 Real disposable income in the United States is falling at the fastest rate in more than 4 years.

#17 The percentage of companies issuing negative earnings guidance for this quarter is at a level that we have never seen before.

#18 Is the dark side of derivatives trading about to be exposed?  EU officials claim that 13 major international banks have been colluding to control the trading of derivatives…

The European Commission says many of the world’s largest investment banks appear to have colluded to block attempts by exchanges to trade and offer more transparent prices for financial products known as credit derivatives.

The commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said Monday it has informed 13 banks — including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley — as well as the industry association for derivatives itself, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, ISDA, of the preliminary conclusions of an investigation that began in March.

#19 There are 441 trillion dollars of interest rate derivatives sitting out there and interest rates have risen rapidly over the past few weeks.  What is going to happen to those derivatives if interest rates keep going higher?

So what do you think?

Are there any items that are missing that you would add to this list?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

Jacob Rothschild, John Paulson And George Soros Are All Betting That Financial Disaster Is Coming

Are you willing to bet against three of the wealthiest men in the entire world?  Jacob Rothschild recently bet approximately 200 million dollars that the euro will go down.  Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson made somewhere around 20 billion dollars betting against the U.S. housing market during the last financial crisis, and now he has made huge bets that the euro will go down and that the price of gold will go up.  And as I wrote about in my last article, George Soros put approximately 130 million more dollars into gold last quarter.  So will the euro plummet like a rock?  Will the price of gold absolutely soar?  Well, if a massive financial disaster does occur both of those two things are likely to happen.  The European economy is becoming more unstable with each passing day, and investors all over the globe are looking for safe places to put their money.  The mainstream media keeps telling us that everything is going to be okay, but the global elite are sending us a much, much different message by their actions.  Certainly Rothschild, Paulson and Soros know about things happening in the financial world that the rest of us don’t.  The fact that they are all behaving in a consistent manner right now should be alarming for all of us.

Let’s start with Jacob Rothschild.  Apparently he believes that the euro is headed for quite a tumble.  The following is from a recent CNBC article….

You know the euro is in deep water when a doyen of the banking industry, Lord Jacob Rothschild takes a £130 million ($200 million) bet against it.

Okay, but the euro has already been falling dramatically.  In mid-2011, the EUR/USD was above the 1.40 mark, and right now it is at about 1.23.

Does it really have that much more that it can fall?

If the eurozone ends up breaking apart it sure does.

If there is a Greek default, or if Germany leaves the euro, or if a new currency comes along to replace the euro those currently betting against it will end up looking like geniuses.

Another big name in the financial world that is betting against the euro right now is John Paulson.  The following is from a recent Der Spiegel article….

One of these warriors is John Paulson. The hedge fund manager once made billions by betting on a collapse of the American real estate market. Not surprisingly, the financial world sat up and took notice when Paulson, who is now widely despised in America as a crisis profiteer, announced in the spring that he would bet on a collapse of the euro.

And as I noted in my last article, Paulson has also been putting billions of dollars into gold.

So just what are Rothschild and Paulson anticipating?

Could we be on the verge of a massive financial collapse in Europe?

According to the Der Spiegel article mentioned above, a lot of investors seem to be preparing for such a possibility right now….

Banks, companies and investors are preparing themselves for a collapse of the euro. Cross-border bank lending is falling, asset managers are shunning Europe and money is flowing into German real estate and bonds. The euro remains stable against the dollar because America has debt problems too. But unlike the euro, the dollar’s structure isn’t in doubt.

The financial world is starting to wake up to the fact that the globe is absolutely drowning in debt and it is not really good to be holding fiat currencies when a debt crisis erupts.

When men like John Paulson and George Soros start pouring huge amounts of money into gold, it is time to start becoming alarmed about the state of the global financial system.

The amount of money that these men are investing in gold is staggering….

There was also news last week in an SEC filing that both George Soros and John Paulson had increased their investment in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest publicly traded physical gold exchange traded fund (ETF).

Mr Soros upped his stake in the ETF to 884,400 shares from 319,550 and Mr Paulson bought 4.53m shares, bringing his stake to 21.3m.

At the current price of about $156 a share, these are new investments of about $88m of Mr Soros’ cash and more than $700m from Mr Paulson’s funds. These are significant positions.

And the central banks of the world are certainly buying gold at an unprecedented rate as well.  According to the World Gold Council, the central banks of the world added 157.5 metric tons of gold last quarter.  That was the biggest move into gold by the central banks of the globe that we have seen in modern financial history.

But that might just be the beginning.

According to a recent Marketwatch article, there are persistent rumors that China has plans to buy thousands of metric tons of gold….

Within the gold market, there is unconfirmed speculation that China plans to buy up to at least 5,000 to 6,000 metric tons of gold and that it will start to buy during this year, according to Kevin Kerr, president of Kerr Trading International.

If China buys this much gold, that would exceed annual, global production of gold, he said. “We do not have enough gold for China to buy that much, and it will take China time to purchase this amount of gold.”

So what comes next?

Nobody is quite sure.

Another major financial crisis could erupt in Europe at any moment.

A major war in the Middle East could start literally at any time.

Renowned investor Jim Rogers believes that things are really going to get “bad after the next election“.

Others believe that the action could start even sooner than that.

The truth is that even though we have not seen a “Lehman Brothers moment” yet, things in Europe just continue to get progressively worse.  The following is from a recent article by Mark E. Grant….

Whether you turn your attention to Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal or even Ireland; it is getting worse. Nowhere on the Continent are things improving and even in France and Germany the financial strains are beginning to show. It is not a question of Euro-bear or Euro-bull; it is just the numbers as they come rolling out month after month.

There is a growing realization in Europe that the euro simply does not work.  Italy is absolutely drowning in debt, the Spanish economy has basically descended into a depression, and Greece has been experiencing depression-like conditions for years at this point.

The euro is doomed.  The only question is who is going to blink first.

Nobody wants to be the first to leave the euro.  There are rumblings that it could actually be Finland that leaves the euro first, and that would please Germany just fine because they don’t want to look like the bad guys in all of this.

But that doesn’t mean that Germany won’t eventually pull the trigger if nobody else does.  The German public is sick and tired of bailing out the weak sisters of southern Europe, and at this point it looks like it would take perpetual bailouts just to keep the euro together.

And recently there have been lots of little signs that Germany is starting to move slowly toward the exit doors.

In fact, I found it quite interesting that a giant euro sculpture was recently removed from the Frankfurt International Airport….

A massive € sculpture (identical to the one in front of the European Central Bank) was dismantled and removed from the Frankfurt International Airport in Germany Thursday.

The official explanation is ‘the plastic parts are getting weak after 11 years and the terminal needed the space‘.

Does € sculpture’s removal from the Frankfurt Airport indicate Germany is preparing for a surprise return to the Deutsche Mark?

Sure that might just be a coincidence, but it also could be a harbinger of things to come.

Sadly, most average people living in North America and Europe have absolutely no idea what is coming.  Most of them just want to be able to get up in the morning and go to work and pay the bills and take care of their families.

Unfortunately, millions upon millions of those hard working individuals are in for a very rude awakening.

A lot of people are about to have their current lifestyles totally turned upside down.

But it doesn’t have to be all bad.

In fact, I found it very interesting to read about how some young people are responding to the depression in Greece….

In the spring of 2010, just as the Greek government was embarking on some of its harshest austerity measures, 29-year-old Apostolos Sianos packed in his well-paid job as a website designer, gave up his Athens apartment and walked away from modern civilisation.

In the foothills of Mount Telaithrion on the Greek island of Evia, Mr Sianos and three other like-minded Athenians set up an eco-community.

The idea was to live in an entirely sustainable way, free from the ties of money and cut off from the national electricity grid.

The group sleeps communally in yurts they have built themselves, they grow their own food and exchange the surplus in the nearest village for any necessities they cannot produce.

I think there is a lesson to be learned there.

When the system fails, it is going to be important to be able to live independently of the system.

Governments and big banks all over the world have been rapidly preparing for the coming financial collapse.

Perhaps the rest of us should be too.

If you can believe it, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.

If another major economic crisis comes along, many of those people are going to be totally wiped out.

And there are already signs that the U.S. economy is basically on life support at this point.

Just look at the velocity of money.

In an economy that is growing and healthy, money tends to circulate very, very quickly.

But when an economy is sick, money tends to circulate very slowly.

And that is exactly what is happening right now.  In fact, the velocity of money is currently at the lowest level in modern U.S. history….

For much more discussion on this, please check out this article.

This is exactly what happened back in the 1930s.  The velocity of money absolutely plummeted.  When people are scared, credit is tight and times are hard, money does not exchange hands as rapidly.

But this is just the beginning.

What we are experiencing right now is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming.

Jacob Rothschild, John Paulson and George Soros are preparing themselves for the tremendous chaos that is coming.

Are you getting prepared?

Epic Failure: The Supercommittee Was A Super Joke

Does anyone need any additional evidence that our political system is completely broken?  The bipartisan congressional supercommittee that was given two months to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts over the next decade has failed to reach an agreement.  It is an epic failure and a national embarrassment.  The truth is that they never even came close to an agreement.  In fact, as you will read below, the two sides on the panel have been barely even talking to each other.  In the end, the supercommittee was a super joke.  Meanwhile, the U.S. national debt has passed the 15 trillion dollar mark and we are facing trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.  We are heading directly for a national financial disaster, and our “leaders” seem powerless to do anything about it.

According to the supercommittee’s rules, any plan would have had to have been submitted to the Congressional Budget Office by Monday in order to give the CBO 48 hours to analyze how much the plan would reduce budget deficits over the coming decade.

When the supercommittee was announced, it made headlines all over the world, but now it is ending with a whimper.

The supercommittee was never a good idea in the first place, but you would have thought that they could have come up with something over the course of two months.

But instead all they are giving us are a whole bunch of excuses and a whole lot of hot air.

What a joke.

Is it really that difficult to come up with $1.2 trillion in cuts over a decade?

It isn’t as if they would even be cutting very deeply.  $1.2 trillion in cuts would not even cut the budget by $150 billion a year.  We would still be talking about trillion dollar deficits way into the future.

But instead of agreeing to some token cuts, they have chosen to do nothing and to blame each other.

So now $1.2 trillion in “automatic budget cuts” will go into effect starting in 2013.  But even that $1.2 trillion figure contains a lot of “fuzzy math”.  For example, it includes $169 billion in “projected savings” from “reduced interest costs” on the national debt.

I would love to see how they came up with that figure.

In any event, the truth is that none of these numbers really matter at all.

Why?

None of the budget cuts go into effect until after the 2012 election.  That means that this Congress can vote to repeal the automatic cuts well before then.

Some in Congress are already pushing for this.  For example, U.S. Senator John McCain said the following recently….

“It’s something we passed. We can reverse it.”

Or, even more likely, once the new president and the new Congress are elected in 2012 they will almost certainly choose to abandon this agreement.

When it comes to politics, the only thing that matters is what happens before the next election.

All of this talk of future cuts is just an illusion.  When the next president and the next Congress come to power, they will want to do their own thing.

So after all of the huffing and puffing over the last couple of years, what has actually been accomplished as far as reducing our horrific budget deficits?

Not much at all.

We racked up a $1.3 trillion budget deficit during the fiscal year that just ended, and this fiscal year we will be somewhere in the same neighborhood.

We have been living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and at some point all of this is going to end very, very badly.

The total amount of debt in this country (government, business and consumer) has been rising much, much faster than our national income has.  If you don’t believe this, just check out this chart.

In particular, government debt is totally out of control.  When Barack Obama first took office, the national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars.

It is now over 15 trillion dollars.

We are in debt up to our eyeballs and we desperately need our leaders to do something about it.

But according to a recent Politico article, the members of the supercommittee haven’t even been talking to each other….

The supercommittee last met Nov. 1 – three weeks ago! It was a public hearing featuring a history lesson, “Overview of Previous Debt Proposals,” with Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles, Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin. The last PRIVATE meeting was Oct. 26. You might as well stop reading right there: The 12 members (6 House, 6 Senate; 6 R, 6 D) were never going to strike a bargain, grand or otherwise, if they weren’t talking to each other. Yes, we get that real deal-making occurs in small groups. But there never WAS a functioning supercommittee: There was Republican posturing and Democratic posturing, with some side conversations across the aisle.

Can you believe that?

Could it really be true that they have not met since November 1st?

Is Congress really that much of a joke?

According to Real Clear Politics, the approval rating for Congress is sitting at about 12 percent right now.

After this, it may get even lower.

Instead of working on a solution to our problems, the members of the supercommittee have been busy going on television and telling us who to blame.

The following is a short exceprt from a recent article in the Washington Post….

Republicans on the supercommittee held a conference call Saturday morning, and aides said members from both parties continued to talk by phone. But neither side was predicting a last-minute breakthrough. Instead, seven panel members booked appearances on the Sunday talk shows, as both sides readied their best arguments for why the other is at fault.

Our politicians are obsessed with finding someone else to blame and with getting ready for the next election.

Meanwhile, the ship is going down and people are starting to panic.

And this is not going to look good to the rest of the world at all.  There is a very real risk that one of the other major credit rating agencies will decide to downgrade U.S. debt.

The second downgrade of debt is often more important than the first.  When the first downgrade happened, U.S. debt still had a AAA rating from the other two major credit rating agencies.

But after another downgrade, the average credit rating of U.S. debt will be less than AAA.  That will mean that U.S. debt will no longer be a cash proxy.  A lot of transactions that take place right now in the financial world would not be able to happen if that takes place.

So what do our leaders need to do?

Well, the truth is that we should recognize that they are in a really, really tough position.  Decades of nightmarish decisions have left us out of good options under our current financial system.

The reality is that members of Congress are damned if they do and they are damned if they don’t.

This is what I mean – if we don’t deal with our national debt now, everyone agrees that a massive day of reckoning is coming down the road.  Greece is an example of what happens when debt catches up with a nation.

However, if we did cut the federal budget very deeply right now, it would almost certainly bring on a huge economic contraction.

Right now, insane federal spending is one of the only things keeping this economy afloat.  If you were to suddenly pull half a trillion dollars (or more) of federal spending out of the economy, it would have a devastating impact.

A lot of people out there correctly argue for a huge reduction in federal spending, but they greatly underestimate the amount of pain that it would cause.

Let there be no doubt, all of this federal debt has enabled us to enjoy a “false prosperity” for several decades, and when we dramatically cut back on spending a lot of that “false prosperity” is going to disappear.

Our “real economy” is rapidly being gutted and America is becoming poorer as a nation every single day.  One way that we have been making up the difference is by going into almost unbelievable amounts of government debt.  When the government debt bubble pops, the pain is going to be enormous.

If you do not believe this right now, you will believe it soon enough.

Not that we should keep going into huge amounts of debt.

Every dollar that we “borrow” is actually being stolen from our children and our grandchildren.

In fact, that is what Thomas Jefferson believed.  According to Jefferson, when the federal government borrows money in one generation which must be paid back by future generations it is equivalent to stealing….

And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

We have got to stop stealing from future generations.  If they get the chance, they will curse us for what we have done to them.

Anyone out there that supports our current system of running endless budget deficits is supporting a horrific crime against our children and our grandchildren.

But once again, we all need to clearly understand that when the borrowed money stops flowing out of Washington D.C., our economy is going to get much worse.

Are you prepared for the unemployment rate to double?

Are you prepared for foreclosures to soar to unprecedented heights?

Are you prepared for economic pain unlike anything you have ever seen before?

According to the New York Times, there are 100 million Americans that are either living in poverty or that are considered to be among the “near poor” right now.

So how bad will things get if we plunge into a depression?

Anyone that believes that we can drastically cut the federal budget and improve the economy at the same time under our current system is not being rational.

Just look at what is happening to Greece.  They implemented substantial budget cuts (although not nearly big enough to bring them to a balanced budget) and they have plunged into a nightmarish economic depression.

Right now, we are in a position where we are going to experience a horrific amount of pain whatever we do.  If we keep piling up debt at this rate we will experience a nightmare, but if we pop the debt bubble and try to live within our means we will also experience a nightmare.

There is a way out of this, but our politicians are not talking about it.  As I have written about previously, if the federal government abolishes the Federal Reserve and starts issuing debt-free money, we could eliminate our federal budget deficits, cut taxes and improve the economy all at the same time.

But nobody is even talking about debt-free money.

Instead, all of our politicians are talking about “fixing” the current system.

Well, let me tell you, it is impossible to solve our problems under the current system.  If we insist on maintaining our current debt-based financial system, it will only end in a massive amount of pain.

The American people need to get educated about our financial system.  They need to learn that the Federal Reserve and the debt-based currency that they issue are at the very heart of our economic problems.

Back in 1913, prior to the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, the national debt was only about $2.9 billion.

Today, our national debt is over 5000 times larger.

Debt-based central banking is a perpetual debt machine.  It is at the heart of our financial problems and it is also at the heart of the financial problems that Europe is experiencing.

Unfortunately, the American people don’t understand this, and there are virtually no politicians out there that are even talking about this.

Very dark days are ahead for America.

You had better get prepared.

Europe Tries To Kick The Can Down The Road But It Will Only Lead To Financial Disaster

Have you heard the good news?  Financial armageddon has been averted.  The economic collapse in Europe has been cancelled.  Everything is going to be okay.  Well, actually none of those statements is true, but news of the “debt deal” in Europe has set off a frenzy of irrational exuberance throughout the financial world anyway.  Newspapers all over the globe are declaring that the financial crisis in Europe is over.  Stock markets all over the world are soaring.  The Dow was up nearly 3 percent today, and this recent surge is helping the S&P 500 to have its best month since 1974.  Global financial markets are experiencing an explosion of optimism right now.  Yes, European leaders have been able to kick the can down the road for a few months and a total Greek default is not going to happen right now.  However, as you will see below, the core elements of this “debt deal” actually make a financial disaster in Europe even more likely in the future.

The two most important parts of the plan are a 50% “haircut” on Greek debt held by private investors and highly leveraging the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to give it much more “firepower”.

Both of these elements are likely to cause significant problems down the road.  But most investors do not seem to have figured this out yet.  In fact, most investors seem to be buying into the hype that Europe’s problems have been solved.

There is a tremendous lack of critical thinking in the financial community today.  Just because politicians in Europe say that the crisis has been solved does not mean that the crisis has been solved.  But all over the world there are bold declarations that a great “breakthrough” has been achieved.  An article posted on USA Today is an example of this irrational exuberance….

Investors — at least for now — don’t have to worry about a financial collapse like the one in 2008, after Wall Street investment bank Lehman Bros. filed for bankruptcy, sparking a global financial crisis.

“Financial Armageddon seems to have been taken off the table,” says Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

Wow, doesn’t that sound great?

But now let’s look at the facts.

You can’t solve a debt problem with even more debt.  But that is what this debt deal is trying to do.

The politicians in Europe did not want to raise more money for the EFSF the “hard way”.  Voters in Germany (and other European nations) are overwhelmingly against contributing even more cash to a fund that many see as a financial black hole.

So what do you do when more money is needed but nobody wants to contribute?

You borrow it.

Essentially, this debt deal calls for the EFSF to become four or five times larger by “leveraging” the existing funds in the EFSF.

But isn’t that risky?

Of course it is.

There are some leaders in Europe that recognize this.  For example, an article in The Telegraph notes the reservations that the president of the Bundesbank has about this plan….

Jens Weidmann, the president of the Bundesbank and a member of the European Central Bank, sounded the alarm over the plan to “leverage” the fund by a factor of four to five times without putting any new money into the pot.

He warned that the scheme could be hit by market turbulence with taxpayers left holding the bill for risky investments in Italian and Spanish bonds.

So who is going to fund all of this new debt?

Well, it turns out that the Europeans are counting on the same folks that the U.S. government is constantly borrowing money from.

The Chinese.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has already spoken directly with Chinese President Hu Jintao about funding this new bailout effort.

So is borrowing money from the Chinese to fund bailouts for Greece and other weak sisters in Europe sound policy?

Of course not.

And the sad thing is that this expanded EFSF is still not going to be enough to solve the financial problems in Europe.

According to an article in The Telegraph, a recent survey of economists found that most of them do not believe that this new plan is going to raise enough money….

The plan to increase the European Financial and Stability Facility to €1  trillion on paper was attacked by economists as not enough to “stave off” worsening debt problems in Italy and Spain.

In a survey of economists, 26 of 48 thought the firepower was not enough.

But the worst part of this new plan is the 50 percent “haircut” that private investors are being forced to take.

This is essentially a partial default by the Greek government.  A lot of folks are going to get hit really hard by losses from this.  Instead of making financial institutions in Europe stronger, these losses are going to make a lot of them even weaker.

Normally, in the event of a default, credit default swap contracts would be triggered.  But apparently because this was considered to be a “voluntary” haircut, that is not going to happen in this instance.

A Bloomberg article explained this in greater detail.  The following is a brief excerpt….

The EU agreement with investors for a voluntary 50 percent writedown on their Greek bond holdings means $3.7 billion of debt-insurance contracts won’t be triggered, according to the International Swaps & Derivatives Association’s rules.

That means that investors and financial institutions all over the world are just going to have to eat these losses.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is already acknowledging that a number of Greek banks will have to be nationalized because of the severity of this “haircut”.  A recent CNBC article detailed this….

The haircut is expected to impose big losses on the country’s banks and state-run pension funds, which are up their necks in toxic Greek government bonds of about 100 billion euros.

The government will replenish pension funds’ capital, but banks may face temporary nationalisation, Papandreou said.

“It is very likely that a large part of the banks’ shares will pass into state ownership,” Papandreou said. He pledged, however, that these stakes will be sold back to private investors after the banks’ restructuring.

So where will the Greek government get the funds to “replenish” the capital of those banks?

That is a very good question.

But we haven’t even discussed the worst part of this “debt deal” yet.

If you don’t remember any other part of this article, please remember this.

The debt deal in Europe sends a very frightening message to the market.

The truth is that Europe could have totally bailed out Greece without any sort of a “haircut” taking place.

But they didn’t.

So now investors all over the globe have got to be thinking that if they are holding Portuguese bonds, Italian bonds or Spanish bonds there is a really good chance that they will be forced to take a massive “haircut” at some point as well.

At this time last year, the yield on two year Italian bonds was about 2.5 percent.  Now it is about 4.5 percent.  As investors begin to price in the probability of having to take a future “haircut” on Italian debt, those bond yields are going to go much, much higher.

That means that it is going to become much more expensive for the Italian government to borrow money and that also means that it is going to become much more difficult for the Italians to get their financial house in order.

In essence, the haircut on Greek debt is a signal to investors that they should require a much higher rate of return on the debt of all of the PIIGS.  This is going to make the financial collapse of all of the PIIGS much more likely.

Remember, about this time last year the yield on two year Greek bonds was about 10 percent.  Today, it is over 70 percent.

As I wrote about in a previous article, the western world is in debt up to its eyeballs right now and trying to kick the can down the road is not going to solve anything.

Our leaders may succeed in delaying the pain for a while, but it most definitely is coming.

Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Italy all have debt to GDP ratios that are well over 100% right now.  Spain is in a huge amount of trouble as well.

When you add up all the debt, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain owe the rest of the world about 3 trillion euros combined.

If Italy or Spain goes down, the rest of Europe is going to be helpless to stop it.  There simply is not going to be enough money to bail either one of them out.

That is why this “debt deal” is so alarming.  All investors in Italian or Spanish debt will now have to factor in the probability that they will be required to accept a 50 percent haircut at some point in the future.

If the markets behave rationally (and if the ECB does not manipulate them too much), it appears inevitable that bond yields over in Europe are going to rise substantially, and that will put tremendous additional financial strain on governments all over Europe.

Basically, we have got a huge mess on our hands, and this debt deal just made it a lot worse.

Yes, a financial collapse has been averted in Greece for the moment, but the truth is that there is no real reason to be celebrating this deal.

A massive financial storm is coming to Europe, and this “debt deal” has made that all the more certain.

Once again, politicians in Europe have tried to kick the can down the road, but in the end their efforts are only going to lead to complete and total financial disaster.

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