The Beginning Of The End
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China Starts To Make A Power Move Against The U.S. Dollar

US Dollars - Photo by selbstfotografiertIn order for our current level of debt-fueled prosperity to continue, the rest of the world must continue to use our dollars to trade with one another and must continue to buy our debt at ridiculously low interest rates.  Of course the number one foreign nation that we depend on to participate in our system is China.  China accounts for more global trade than anyone else on the planet (including the United States), and most of that trade is conducted in U.S. dollars.  This keeps demand for our dollars very high, and it ensures that we can import massive quantities of goods from overseas at very low cost.  As a major exporting nation, China ends up with gigantic piles of our dollars.  They lend many of those dollars back to us at ridiculously low interest rates.  At this point, China owns more of our national debt than any other country does.  But if China was to decide to quit playing our game and started moving away from U.S. dollars and U.S. debt, our economic prosperity could disappear very rapidly.  Demand for the U.S. dollar would fall and prices would go up.  And interest rates on our debt and everything else in our financial system would go up to crippling levels.  So it is absolutely critical to our financial future that China continues to play our game.

Unfortunately, there are signs that China has now decided to start looking for a smooth exit from the game.  In November, I wrote about how the central bank of China has announced that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves”.  That means that the pile of U.S. dollars that China is sitting on is not going to get any higher.

In addition, China has signed a whole host of international currency agreements with other nations during the past couple of years which are going to result in less U.S. dollars being used in international trade.  You can read about many of these agreements in this article.

This week, we learned that China started to dump U.S. debt during the month of December.  Many have imagined that China would try to dump a flood of our debt on to the market all of a sudden once they decided to exit, but that simply does not make sense.  Instead, it makes sense for China to dump a bit of debt at a time so that the market will not panic and so that they can get close to full value for the paper that they are holding.

As Bloomberg reported the other day, China dumped nearly 50 billion dollars of U.S. debt during the month of December…

China, the largest foreign U.S. creditor, reduced holdings of U.S. Treasury debt in December by the most in two years as the Federal Reserve announced plans to slow asset purchases.

The nation pared its position in U.S. government bonds by $47.8 billion, or 3.6 percent, to $1.27 trillion, the largest decline since December 2011, according to U.S. Treasury Department data released yesterday.

This is how I would do it if I was China.  I would try to dump 30, 40 or 50 billion dollars a month.  I would try to make a smooth exit and try to get as much for my U.S. debt paper as I could.

So if China is not going to stockpile U.S. dollars or U.S. debt any longer, what is it going to stockpile?

It is going to stockpile gold of course.  In fact, China has been voraciously stockpiling gold for quite some time, and their hunger for gold appears to be growing.

According to Bloomberg, more than 80 percent of the gold that was exported from Switzerland last month went to Asia…

Switzerland sent more than 80 percent of its gold and silver bullion and coin exports to Asia last month, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration said today in an e-mailed report. It imported most from the U.K.

Hong Kong was the top destination at 44 percent on a value basis, with India at 14 percent, the Bern-based customs agency said in its first breakdown of the gold trade data since 1980. Singapore accounted for 8.6 percent of exports, the United Arab Emirates 7.9 percent and China 6.3 percent.

When China imports gold, most of it goes through Hong Kong.  We know that imports of gold from Hong Kong into China are at an all-time record high, but we don’t know exactly how much gold China has accumulated at this point because they quit reporting that to the rest of the world a number of years ago.

When it comes to global finance, China is playing chess and the United States is playing checkers.  China knows that gold is a universal currency that will hold value over the long-term.  As the paper currencies of the world race toward collapse, China could end up holding most of the real money and that would be a huge game changer when they finally reveal that fact…

The announcement of China’s new gold hoard will send shockwaves through the financial markets, and make China and the Chinese yuan (their national currency) even bigger players at the international table.

International banking expert James Rickards compared it to a game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker:

“You want a big pile of chips. The U.S. has a big pile of chips, Europe has a big pile of chips. The U.S. has 8,000 tonnes [metric tons] of gold, 17 members of the euro system have 10,000 tonnes. China at 1,000 tonnes is not a player, but at 5,000 tonnes, they are a player.”

There are some really good points made in the quote above, but I do take exception with a couple of things.  First of all, I believe that China now has far more than 5,000 tons of gold.  Secondly, I seriously doubt that the U.S. still actually has 8,000 tons of gold or that Europe still actually has 10,000 tons of gold.

As China (and eventually the rest of the world) moves away from a U.S.-based financial system, the consequences are going to be dramatic.

For instance, right now the average rate of interest that the U.S. government pays on debt is just 2.477 percent.  That is ridiculously low and it is way below the real rate of inflation.  It is simply not rational for anyone to lend the U.S. government money so cheaply, and at some point we are going to see a dramatic shift.

When that day arrives, interest rates are going to rise dramatically.  And if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rises to just 6 percent (and it has been much higher than that in the past), we will be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

Even more frightening is what a rapidly changing interest rate environment would mean for our banking system.  There are four large U.S. banks that each have exposure to derivatives in excess of 40 trillion dollars.  You can find the identity of those banks right here.  Interest rate derivatives make up the biggest chunk of those derivatives contracts.  As John Embry told King World News just the other day, when that bubble bursts the carnage is going to be unprecedented…

“Stockman brought up a brilliant point, the fact that we have hundreds of trillions of dollars of interest rate swaps, which are polluting the world’s banking system. If we see growing volatility in interest rates, and I think that’s inevitable with what’s going on, that would cause spasms in the financial system. And if something goes wrong in the derivatives market, Heaven help us because the leverage that is imparted to the banking system through these derivatives is unholy.”

Unfortunately, very few of the “experts” will ever see this crash coming.

Very few of them saw it coming in 2000.

Very few of them saw it coming in 2008.

And very few of them will see it coming this time.

I really like what Paul B. Farrell had to say about this…

Early warnings of a crash are dismissed over and over (“just a temporary correction”). They gradually numb us about the inevitable. Time after time we forget history’s lessons. Until finally a big surprise catches us totally off-guard. Financial historian Niall Ferguson put it this way: Before the crash, our world seems almost stationary, deceptively so, balanced, at a set point. So that when the crash finally hits — as inevitably it will — everyone seems surprised. And our brains keep telling us it’s not time for a crash.

Till then, life just goes along quietly, hypnotizing us, making us vulnerable, till a shocker like Lehman Brothers upsets the balance. Then, says Ferguson, the crash is “accelerating suddenly, like a sports car … like a thief in the night.” It hits. Shocks us wide awake.

Don’t let the upcoming crash take you by surprise.

The warning signs are very clear.

Get ready while you still can.

Money - Photo by Pen Waggener

Tony Robbins, Ron Paul And Ben Bernanke All Agree: The National Debt Crisis Could Destroy America

Is there one thing that Tony Robbins, Ron Paul and Ben Bernanke can all agree on?  Yes, there actually is.  Recently they have all come forward with warnings that the national debt crisis could destroy America if something is not done.  Unfortunately, our politicians continue to spend us into oblivion as if there will never be any consequences.  When Barack Obama took office, the U.S. national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars.  Today, it is 15.6 trillion dollars and it is rising at the rate of about 150 million dollars an hour.  During the Obama administration so far, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from 1776 to 1995.  The United States now has a debt to GDP ratio of over 100 percent, and another credit rating agency downgraded U.S. debt earlier this month.  Any talk of a positive economic future is utter nonsense as long as we are bleeding red ink as a nation far faster than we ever have before.  It is absolutely immoral to wreck the financial future of our children and our grandchildren and to leave them with a bill for the greatest mountain of debt in the history of the world, but that is exactly what we are doing.  Unless our current debt-based financial system is thrown out, there are only two ways that this game is going to play out.  One would involve absolutely bitter austerity and deflation unlike anything ever seen before, and the other would involve nightmarish hyperinflation.  Either path would be hellish beyond what most Americans could possibly imagine.

Unfortunately, we are running out of time as a nation.  You know that things are late in the game when the head of the Federal Reserve starts using apocalyptic language to talk about the national debt.  The following is what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress recently….

Having a large and increasing level of government debt relative to national income runs the risk of serious economic consequences. Over the longer term, the current trajectory of federal debt threatens to crowd out private capital formation and thus reduce productivity growth. To the extent that increasing debt is financed by borrowing from abroad, a growing share of our future income would be devoted to interest payments on foreign-held federal debt. High levels of debt also impair the ability of policymakers to respond effectively to future economic shocks and other adverse events.

Even the prospect of unsustainable deficits has costs, including an increased possibility of a sudden fiscal crisis. As we have seen in a number of countries recently, interest rates can soar quickly if investors lose confidence in the ability of a government to manage its fiscal policy. Although historical experience and economic theory do not indicate the exact threshold at which the perceived risks associated with the U.S. public debt would increase markedly, we can be sure that, without corrective action, our fiscal trajectory will move the nation ever closer to that point.

The sick thing about this is that the Federal Reserve system is actually designed to generate government debt.  The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.  So it is kind of ironic that the head of the organization that was designed to perpetually generate U.S. government debt is now warning that there is too much of it.

But Ben Bernanke is far from alone in warning about the danger of our exploding national debt.

For example, world famous motivational speaker Tony Robbins is also warning that the national debt crisis could destroy our future.

These days, most people throw around the phrase “a trillion dollars” without ever really grasping what it means.

In the video posted below, Tony Robbins uses a fun illustration to help put in perspective how large a “trillion dollars” really is.

If you had a million seconds to do something, would you consider that to be a long time?

Well, it turns out that a million seconds is only about 12 days.

What about a billion seconds?  Is that a long period of time?

Well, yes, a billion seconds is close to 32 years.  So that is definitely a lot longer than a million seconds.

What about a trillion seconds?

How long do you think that is?

Well, a trillion seconds is about 31,688 years.

So when we talk about how the U.S. government is stealing more than a trillion dollars from future generations every single year, we are talking about an absolutely massive amount of money.

The Tony Robbins video about the national debt crisis posted below has started to go viral all over the Internet.  If you have not seen it yet, I definitely recommend taking a few minutes to watch it….

So why are our politicians not doing anything about the U.S. debt crisis?

Well, it is because most of them value getting elected over and over again above doing what is right for future generations.

For the past four decades, the United States has been enjoying a 15 trillion dollar party.  All of this borrowed money has enabled us to live far, far beyond our means.

If our politicians voted to severely cut spending or to raise taxes dramatically at this point, our economy would suddenly readjust to a more realistic standard of living.  But that would be extremely painful and most Americans voters would be absolutely furious.  They would demand that someone “fix” the economy immediately.  But the truth is that what we have been enjoying all these years has not been real.  It has been bought with trillions of dollars stolen from future generations.  But most of our politicians just want to keep the party rolling as long as humanly possible so that they can keep getting voted back into office.

Fortunately, there are a few politicians that are willing to stand up and tell the truth about our national debt crisis.  For example, in the video posted below Ron Paul scolds the rest of Congress for continuing to vote for debt limit increase after debt limit increase….

Unfortunately, the American people seem to prefer politicians that endlessly lie to them about how bad things really are.

For example, back at the beginning of the Bush administration we were promised that we would be swimming in gigantic surpluses by now.

That didn’t exactly work out, now did it?

Barack Obama promised us that he would cut the size of the federal budget deficit in half by the end of his first term.

Well, guess what?

He lied too.

Things just continue to get worse and worse.

Since 1975, we have added more than 15 trillion dollars to the national debt.  In fact, the U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

A lot of talking heads on television continue to assure us that everything is going to be okay, but the truth is that we are about to experience some absolutely devastating consequences for decades of really bad decisions.

For example, the rest of the world is rapidly losing faith in our currency and the reign of the U.S. dollar as the primary world reserve currency is in serious danger of coming to an end.  When that happens, gasoline, food and just about everything else that you buy is going to be a lot more expensive.

Already, there are very ominous signs that the rest of the world is getting tired of financing our endless spending.  In 2011, the Federal Reserve bought approximately 61 percent of all new government debt issued by the U.S. Treasury Department.  This is not supposed to happen.  The Federal Reserve is not supposed to be monetizing our debt and this is something that Congress should be looking into.

Also, at this time of the year people love to complain about the outrageous amount of taxes that most hard working Americans have to pay, but the truth is that eventually it will likely get a whole lot worse.

Just look at Greece.  Taxes in Greece have been raised to suffocating levels, government spending has been slashed to the bone and yet they are still running up more debt.

That is going to happen in the United States at some point too, especially if our leaders choose the path of austerity and deflation.

You can’t hide from debt forever.

Have you ever run up debt on a credit card?

A lot of us did that when we were young and foolish, and it can be a lot of fun on the way up.

But eventually a day of reckoning comes and it is extremely painful to find yourself drowning in credit card debt.

Well, we are rapidly approaching our credit limit as a nation.

Some hard choices will have to be made, and there will be a lot of pain.

The false prosperity that we are enjoying now is going to disappear.

Now is the time to prepare for the massive economic shift that is coming.  In the coming economic environment, those that are currently living month to month and those that are 100% dependent on the system are going to be in a huge amount of trouble.

Instead of wildly spending money as if the good times will never end like most Americans are, now is the time to get out of debt, to become more self-sufficient and to set aside the money, resources and supplies you will need to weather the storm that is rapidly approaching.

Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that a gigantic economic collapse is coming.

Use the time that you still have left to prepare the best that you can.

The Obama Nation: Even More Debt And Even More Store Closings

Well, it is time to raise the debt ceiling again.  Right now we are about to hit the current limit of $15.194 trillion and the Obama administration is going to ask that it be raised by another 1.2 trillion dollars.  Unfortunately, Congress has already promised not to stand in the way, and so soon the debt limit will be raised to a staggering $16.394 trillion.  Considering how much debt we have already placed on the backs of future generations, what is another 1.2 trillion dollars?  After all, if we are going to sell our children and our grandchildren into debt slavery, we might as well go all the way, right?  Such is the thinking in “the Obama Nation”.  During “the Obama Nation”, the federal government has already accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.  Of course the Bush administration was nearly as bad at piling up government debt.  Between Bush and Obama (with a big helping hand from the Federal Reserve), they have done a pretty good job of wiping out the financial future of the United States.  If there are future generations of Americans, they will look back and curse those that did this to them.  It is absolutely immoral to steal trillions of dollars from future generations.  Unfortunately, there are very, very few members of Congress that are even objecting to this madness.

Today, more debt just seems to be the answer to everything.  The truth is that debt is not just a government problem.  We are a nation that is addicted to debt.

As of October, total consumer credit in the United States had increased for 12 of the past 13 months.  We simply have not learned the lessons of the past and we are making the same mistakes all over again.

We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and this false prosperity that we are enjoying is simply not sustainable.

But even in the midst of this false prosperity we are seeing a huge number of store closings.

For example, it was just announced that Sears has decided to close between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores.

Once upon a time, Sears was the dominant force in the retail industry, but those days are long gone.  Sears stock has declined more than 45 percent so far this year, and many are wondering how long the company is going to be able to survive.

And there have been other high profile store closings announced during this holiday season as well.  A while back it was announced that all Syms stores and all Filene’s Basement stores will be closing.

Will we all eventually be relegated to shopping only at Wal-Mart?

In the middle of this “economic recovery” that Obama keeps talking about a staggering number of retail stores are closing up shop.  The following is a list of store closings in 2011 that I recently found.  The first number represents the total number of stores being closed for each chain….

405 Blockbuster

633 Borders

200 GameStop

189 Gap

160 f.y.e.

117 Anchor Blue

117 Foot Locker

100 Talbot’s

71 A.J. Wright

69 Metropark

63 Friendly’s

60 Rite Aid

52 Destination Maternity

50 Abercrombie & Fitch

50 Hot Topic

45 Big Lots

45 Family Dollar

43 Select Comfort

43 Sonic Drive-In

35 Denny’s

32 Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, Inc. (SuperFresh, Pathmark Super Market)

30 Ultimate Electronics

28 Dominos

25 Superfresh (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company)

20 Lowe’s

Sadly, it looks like things are going to get even worse next year.  One consulting firm is projecting that there will be more than 5,000 store closings in 2012.

The United States is piling up unprecedented amounts of new debt at a time when our economy is dying and our ability to produce wealth is diminishing.

All over America right now, poverty is absolutely exploding.  Millions of people that never dreamed that they would have to reach out for help now find that they have no other options.  The following comes from a recent article in the Fiscal Times….

For years, the food pantry in Crystal Lake, Ill., a bedroom community 50 miles west of Chicago, has catered to the suburban areas’ poor, homeless and unemployed. But Cate Williams, the head of the pantry, has noticed a striking change in the makeup of the needy in the past year or two. Some families that once pulled down six-figure incomes and drove flashy cars are now turning to the pantry for help. A few of them donated food and money to the pantry before their luck soured, according to Williams.

“People will shyly say to me, ‘You know, I used to give money and food to you guys. Now I need your help,’” Williams told The Fiscal Times last week. “Most of the folks we see now are people who never took a handout before. They were comfortable, able to feed themselves, to keep gas in the car, and keep a nice roof over their head.”

But not everyone will ask for help nicely.  As the economic numbers continue to get worse, desperate Americans will lash out in wild and unpredictable ways.

The following is from a local NBC station down in Texas.  In the days to come, this type of report will become quite common….

A 19-year-old Houston-area man says he was beaten and a friend was slashed in the face as a group of men robbed him of his new pair of expensive Air Jordan shoes.

We will also see more mass protests and more mass riots as the months and years roll along.  This country is going to become increasingly unstable.

Check out this video of a massive brawl that erupted inside Mall of America the other day.  Soon scenes such as this will become so common that they will not even be newsworthy anymore.

In response, many Americans will get sick and tired of waiting for the police to protect them and will take matters into their own hands.

In fact, we are already starting to see this.  For example, just the other day a store clerk down in North Carolina knocked a would-be robber out cold and then forced him to clean up his own blood after he woke up.

There are millions of Americans out there that are not going to put up with a whole lot of nonsense.  When desperate criminals try to rob from their homes or businesses it might not end well for the criminals.

Of course it would be much nicer if the federal government would do some things to actually fix the economy and avoid some the problems that are looming on the horizon.

Ah, but that would interrupt their vacations.  Right now, the U.S. House of Representatives is on vacation until mid-January.

If you can believe it, Congress does not work for most of the year.  Normally they are scheduled to be in session for about a third of all the days on the calendar.

And Obama is certainly taking it easy.  He is enjoying yet another vacation.  As I wrote about yesterday, it has been estimated that the Obama Hawaiian vacation this year will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million dollars.

Yes, it is tough being the head of the Obama Nation.

Sadly, a lot of Americans still have faith in these jokers.

According to a Gallup poll that was just released, Barack Obama is the most admired man in America by far and Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America by far.  If you can believe it, Barack Obama has held the top spot for men for four years in a row, and Hillary Clinton has held the top spot for women for ten years in a row.

When are we going to learn?

Someone once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Well, the American people keep sending corrupt politicians such as Bush and Obama to the White House and they keep expecting things to get better.

It just isn’t going to happen.

If we stay on the current path that we are on, there will be a lot more store closings, the economy will continue to crumble and government debt will continue to skyrocket.

Minor changes are not going to cut it.  We need massive changes on a fundamental level.

Unfortunately, neither political party is offering massive changes.  The Republicans and the Democrats just keep offering the same tired solutions and they keep promising that they can “fix things” if we will just send more of them to Washington.

Hopefully the American people will wake up and see through these lies because time is running out.

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