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A New Digital Cash System Was Just Unveiled At A Secret Meeting For Bankers In New York

Secret - Public DomainLast month, a “secret meeting” that involved more than 100 executives from some of the biggest financial institutions in the United States was held in New York City.  During this “secret meeting“, a company known as “Chain” unveiled a technology that transforms U.S. dollars into “pure digital assets”.  Reportedly, there were representatives from Nasdaq, Citigroup, Visa, Fidelity, Fiserv and Pfizer in the room, and Chain also claims to be partnering with Capital One, State Street, and First Data.  This “revolutionary” technology is intended to completely change the way that we use money, and it would represent a major step toward a cashless society.  But if this new digital cash system is going to be so good for society, why was it unveiled during a secret meeting for Wall Street bankers?  Is there something more going on here than we are being told?

None of us probably would have ever heard about this secret meeting if it was not for a report in Bloomberg.  The following comes from their article entitled “Inside the Secret Meeting Where Wall Street Tested Digital Cash“…

On a recent Monday in April, more than 100 executives from some of the world’s largest financial institutions gathered for a private meeting at the Times Square office of Nasdaq Inc. They weren’t there to just talk about blockchain, the new technology some predict will transform finance, but to build and experiment with the software.

By the end of the day, they had seen something revolutionary: U.S. dollars transformed into pure digital assets, able to be used to execute and settle a trade instantly. That’s the promise of a blockchain, where the cumbersome and error-prone system that takes days to move money across town or around the world is replaced with almost instant certainty.

So it is not just Michael Snyder from The Economic Collapse Blog that is referring to this gathering as a “secret meeting”.  This is actually how it was described by Bloomberg.  And I think that there is a very good reason why this meeting was held in secret, because many in the general public would definitely be alarmed by this giant step toward a cashless society.  Here is more on this new system from Bloomberg

While cash in a bank account moves electronically all the time today, there’s a distinction between that system and what it means to say money is digital. Electronic payments are really just messages that cash needs to move from one account to another, and this reconciliation is what adds time to the payments process. For customers, moving money between accounts can take days as banks wait for confirmations. Digital dollars, however, are pre-loaded into a system like a blockchain. From there, they can be swapped immediately for an asset.

“Instead of a record or message being moved, it’s the actual asset,” Ludwin said. “The payment and the settlement become the same thing.”

Why this is so alarming is because we are seeing other major moves toward a cashless system all over the planet.  In Sweden, 95 percent of all retail transactions are already cashless, and ATM machines are being removed by the hundreds.  In Denmark, government officials actually have a stated goal of “eradicating cash” by the year 2030.  And in Norway, the biggest bank in the country has publicly called for the complete elimination of all cash.

Other nations in Europe have already banned cash transactions over a certain amount. Here are just a couple of examples

As I have written about previously, cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain, and France and Italy have both banned all cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.

Little by little, cash is being eradicated, and what we have seen so far is just the beginning. 417 billion cashless transactions were conducted in 2014, and the final number for 2015 is projected to be much higher.

The global push toward a cashless society is only going to intensify, because banks and governments both tend to really like the idea of such a system.

Banks really like the concept of a cashless society because it would force everyone to be their customers.  There would be no more hiding cash in a mattress at home or trying to pay all of your bills with paper money.  Under a cashless system, we would all be dependent on the banks, and they would make lots of money whenever we swiped our cards or our “chips” were scanned.

Governments see a lot of advantages in a cashless society as well.  They tell us that they would be able to crack down on drug dealers, tax evaders, terrorists and money launderers, but the truth is that it would enable them to watch, track, monitor and control virtually all of our financial transactions.  Our lives would become open books to the government, and financial privacy would be a thing of the past.

In addition, the potential for tyranny would be absolutely off the charts.

Just imagine a world where the government could serve as the gatekeeper for who is allowed to use the cashless system and who is not.  They could require that we all submit to some sort of government-issued form of identification before being permitted to operate within the system, or it is even conceivable that a loyalty oath would be required.

Of course if you did not submit to their demands, you could not buy, sell, open a bank account or get a job without access to the cashless system.

Hopefully people can understand where this is going.  Paper money is a very important component of our freedom, and if it is taken away from us that will open the door for all sorts of abuse.

Even now, cash is slowly being “criminalized” in America.  For example, if cash is used to pay for a hotel room that is considered by federal authorities to be “suspicious activity” that should be reported to the government.  Of course it isn’t against the law to pay your hotel bill in cash just yet, but according to the government it is something that “terrorists” do so it needs to be closely watched.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see where all of this is going.  And for those of us that understand what time it is, this is a clear indication that it is getting late in the game.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

Global Stocks Continue To Crash As Oil Plummets And Gold Skyrockets

Clock Image - Public DomainStock markets around the world continue to collapse as this new global financial crisis picks up more steam.  In the U.S., the Dow lost 254 more points on Thursday, and it has now fallen for five days in a row.  European stocks continued to get obliterated, and financial institutions are leading the way.  But this week what is happening in Japan has been the most sobering.  After falling 918 points the other day, the Nikkei plunged another 760 points early on Friday.  The Nikkei has now fallen for seven of the past eight days, and investors in Japan are in full panic mode.  Overall, global stocks are well into bear market territory, and nearly 17 trillion dollars of global stock market wealth has already been wiped out.

As panic rises, investors are seeking alternative investments.  On Thursday, the price of gold hit $1,260 an ounce at one point before settling back a bit.  But even with the fade at the end of the day, it was still the biggest daily gain in more than two years.  Overall, gold is having its best quarterly performance in 30 years.

Whenever a financial crisis happens, investors seek out safe havens such as gold that can help them weather the storm.  In particular, demand for physical gold is going through the roof all over the planet.  Just check out the following excerpt from a Telegraph article entitled “Investors ‘go bananas’ for gold bars as global stock markets tumble“…

BullionByPost, Britain’s biggest online gold dealer, said it has already taken record-day sales of £5.6m as traders pile into gold following fears the world is on the brink of another financial crisis.

Rob Halliday-Stein, founder and managing director of the Birmingham-based company, said takings today had already surpassed the firm’s previous one-day record of £4.4m in October 2014.

BullionByPost, which takes orders of up to £25,000 on the website but takes higher amounts over the phone, explained it had received a few hundred orders overnight and frantic numbers of phone calls this morning.

Meanwhile, the price of oil continues to drop to stunning new depths.  On Thursday U.S. oil dropped as low as $26.21, which was the lowest price in 13 years.  Not even during the worst parts of the last financial crisis did oil ever go this low.

And remember, the price of oil was sitting at about $108 a barrel back in June 2014.  Since that time it has fallen about 75 percent.

Needless to say, this crash is having some very serious consequences for the energy industry.  Previously, I have reported that 42 North American energy companies have gone into bankruptcy since the beginning of last year.

But I just found out that the true number is much worse than that.

According to CNN, “67 U.S. oil and natural gas companies filed for bankruptcy in 2015″…

Bankruptcy filings are flying in the American oil patch.

At least 67 U.S. oil and natural gas companies filed for bankruptcy in 2015, according to consulting firm Gavin/Solmonese.

That represents a 379% spike from the previous year when oil prices were substantially higher.

With oil prices crashing further in recent weeks, five more energy gas producers succumbed to bankruptcy in the first five weeks of this year, according to Houston law firm Haynes and Boone.

A lot of people tend to think that my writing is full of “doom and gloom”, but the truth is that I often understate how bad things really are.  I’ll often report one number and find out later that an updated number is even worse than the one that I originally reported.

What we desperately need is for the price of oil to go back up.

Unfortunately, the International Energy Agency says that isn’t likely to happen any time soon

The International Energy Agency said earlier this week that it expects the global oil glut to grow throughout the year.

With the market already awash in oil, it is very hard to see how oil prices can rise significantly in the short term,” the IEA said in its monthly report.

And of course all of this is incredibly bad news for financial institutions all over the world.

During the boom times, the big banks showered energy companies with loans.  Now those loans are going bad, and the big banks are feeling the pain.  The following comes from CNN

It’s never a good sign when the country’s financial lifelines are under stress. Large U.S. banks JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) that helped bankroll the energy boom are already setting aside billions to cover potential loan losses in the oil industry. Investors are worried about imploding energy loans for European banks like Deutsche Bank (DB). High yield bonds in your investing portfolio wont be looking good either — Standard & Poor’s warned that half of all energy junk bonds are at risk of defaulting.

Speaking of Deutsche Bank, their stock price continued to plummet on Thursday, as did the stock prices of most other European banks.

Things were particularly bad for France’s Societe Generale.  Their stock price plunged 12 percent on Thursday alone.

This is what a global financial crisis looks like.  It began during the second half of last year, and now it is making major headlines all over the planet.

At this point, things are already so bad that the elite are starting to freak out about what this could potentially mean for them.  I want you to carefully consider the following two paragraphs from an editorial that I came across in the Telegraph earlier today…

We are too fragile, fiscally as well as psychologically. Our economies, cultures and polities are still paying a heavy price for the Great Recession; another collapse, especially were it to be accompanied by a fresh banking bailout by the taxpayer, would trigger a cataclysmic, uncontrollable backlash.

The public, whose faith in elites and the private sector was rattled after 2007-09, would simply not wear it. Its anger would be so explosive, so-all encompassing that it would threaten the very survival of free trade, of globalisation and of the market-based economy. There would be calls for wage and price controls, punitive, ultra-progressive taxes, a war on the City and arbitrary jail sentences.

I think that the author of this editorial is correct.

I do believe that another financial crisis on the scale of 2008 would trigger “a cataclysmic, uncontrollable backlash”.

In fact, I believe that is what we are steamrolling toward right now.

We can already see the anger of the American people toward the establishment being expressed in their support of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

But if the financial system completely collapses and it becomes exceedingly apparent that none of our problems from the last time around were ever fixed, the frustration is going to be off the charts.

Many people believed that this day of reckoning would never come, but now it is here.

The “coming nightmare” is now upon us, and this is just the start.

The rest of 2016 promises to be even more chaotic, and ultimately this new crisis is going to turn out to be far worse than what we experienced back in 2008.

The Calm Before The Storm

Storm - Public DomainHave you noticed that things have gotten eerily quiet in the month of October?  After the chaos of late August and early September, many had anticipated that we would be dealing with a full-blown financial collapse by now, but instead we have entered a period of “dead calm” in which things have become exceedingly quiet in almost every way that you can possibly imagine.  Other “watchmen” that I highly respect have made the exact same observation.  Even though the economic numbers are screaming that we have entered a global recession, they aren’t really make any headline news.  A whole host of major financial institutions around the planet are currently in danger of collapsing and creating the next “Lehman Brothers moment”, but none of them has imploded just yet.  And of course Barack Obama seems bound and determined to start World War III.  On Monday, it was announced that he is sending a guided missile destroyer into Chinese waters in the South China Sea.  The Chinese have already stated that they might just start shooting if this happens, but Barack Obama doesn’t seem to care.  But until the shooting actually begins, that is not likely to upset the current tranquility that we are enjoying either.

To me, what we are experiencing at the moment would best be described as “the calm before the storm”.  If you are not familiar with this concept, this is how it is defined by How Stuff Works

Have you ever spent an afternoon in the backyard, maybe grilling or enjoying a game of croquet, when suddenly you notice that everything goes quiet? The air seems still and calm — even the birds stop singing and quickly return to their nests.

After a few minutes, you feel a change in the air, and suddenly a line of clouds ominously appears on the horizon — clouds with a look that tells you they aren’t fooling around. You quickly dash in the house and narrowly miss the first fat raindrops that fall right before the downpour. At this moment, you might stop and ask yourself, “Why was it so calm and peaceful right before the storm hit?”

Like so many others, I believe that a great storm is coming, and yet right at this moment things seem so peaceful.

Unfortunately, this period of peace and quiet is not going to last for long, and most Americans know deep down that something is seriously wrong with our nation.  In fact, a new WND/Clout poll has found that 85.3 percent of all likely voters in the United States believe that our country is going in the wrong direction…

The poll found 92.6 percent of those who identified themselves as conservative believe the nation is on the wrong track. Among those who call themselves liberal, 90.9 percent said it is going the wrong direction.

When asked what they think of the American economy after seven years of Obama’s leadership and economic policies, nearly 80 percent described it as “very fragile” or “somewhat fragile.”

Self-identified Democrats, Republicans, liberals and conservatives were in general agreement, with about 75 percent to 80 percent describing the economy as “somewhat fragile” or “very fragile.”

But even though we are steamrolling in the wrong direction, we haven’t suffered any incredibly serious consequences for it yet.

For the moment, this is allowing the mockers to have a field day.  They are fully confident that Barack Obama and the Federal Reserve knew what they were doing after all, and they are gleefully taunting those of us that have been warning of the great disaster that is heading our way.

However, those that are wise are getting prepared.

I think that we could all learn some lessons from what Overstock.com Chairman Jonathan Johnson is doing. The following is an extended excerpt from a recent Zero Hedge article

*****

One week ago Johnson, who is also candidate for Utah governor, spoke at the United Precious Metals Association, or UPMA, which we first profiled a month ago, and which takes advantage of Utah’s special status allowing the it to use gold as legal tender, offering gold and silver-backed accounts. As a reminder, the UPMA takes Federal Reserve Notes (or paper dollars) which it then translates into golden dollars (or silver). The golden dollars are based off the $50 one ounce gold coins produced by the Treasury of The United States. They are legal tender under the law and are protected as such.

What did Johnson tell the UPMA? Here are some choice quotes:

We are not big fans of Wall Street and we don’t trust them. We foresaw the financial crisis, we fought against the financial crisis that happened in 2008; we don’t trust the banks still and we foresee that with QE3, and QE4 and QE n that at some point there is going to be another significant financial crisis.

So what do we do as a business so that we would be prepared when that happens. One thing that we do that is fairly unique: we have about $10 million in gold, mostly the small button-sized coins, that we keep outside of the banking system. We expect that when there is a financial crisis there will be a banking holiday. I don’t know if it will be 2 days, or 2 weeks, or 2 months. We have $10 million in gold and silver in denominations small enough that we can use for payroll. We want to be able to keep our employees paid, safe and our site up and running during a financial crisis.

We also happen to have three months of food supply for every employee that we can live on.

*****

Why would such a seemingly intelligent and successful CEO of a large Internet company do such things?

It is because he can see the writing on the wall.

This period of calm will not last.  A great storm is coming, and when it does arrive those that have not prepared for it are going to suffer tremendously.

Most people have no idea just how fragile our system really is.  Today, some of these “too big to fail” banks supposedly have trillions of dollars in assets, but if you want to withdraw $10,000 or more in cash you have got to give them 24 hours notice to get enough money

This is just the beginning. As anyone can tell you, it’s all but impossible to move large amounts of money into cash in the US. Even the large banks will routinely ask you for 24 hours notice if you need $10,000 or more in cash. These are banks will TRILLIONS of dollars worth of assets on their books.

And with each passing day we see even more signs of the global economic slowdown that is emerging all around us.  For example, we just learned that the China Containerized Freight Index has dropped to the lowest level ever recorded.  China accounts for more global trade than anyone else, and so this is a very clear sign that global economic activity is slowing down dramatically…

By early July, the index dropped below 800 for the first time in its history, which started in 1998 when the index was set at 1,000. It soon recovered to about 850. And just when bouts of hope were rising that the worst was over, it plunged again and hit even lower levels.

The latest weekly reading dropped another 1.7% from the prior week to 752.21, the worst level ever. The CCFI is now 30% below where it had been in February this year and 25% below where it had been 17 years ago at its inception.

But for those that don’t want to believe that hard times are on the way, they can take comfort in the eerie period of calm that we are experiencing right now.

What they don’t realize is that this truly is “the calm before the storm”, and the global economic crisis that is ahead of us is going to be far beyond what most people ever dared to imagine was possible.

Why Are The IMF, The UN, The BIS And Citibank All Warning That An Economic Crisis Could Be Imminent?

Question Sign Red - Public DomainThe warnings are getting louder.  Is anybody listening?  For months, I have been documenting on my website how the global financial system is absolutely primed for a crisis, and now some of the most important financial institutions in the entire world are warning about the exact same thing.  For example, this week I was stunned to see that the Telegraph had published an article with the following ominous headline: “$3 trillion corporate credit crunch looms as debtors face day of reckoning, says IMF“.  And actually what we are heading for would more accurately be described as a “credit freeze” or a “credit panic”, but a “credit crunch” will definitely work for now.  The IMF is warning that the “dangerous over-leveraging” that we have been witnessing “threatens to unleash a wave of defaults” all across the globe…

Governments and central banks risk tipping the world into a fresh financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund has warned, as it called time on a corporate debt binge in the developing world.

Emerging market companies have “over-borrowed” by $3 trillion in the last decade, reflecting a quadrupling of private sector debt between 2004 and 2014, found the IMF’s Global Financial Stability Report.

This dangerous over-leveraging now threatens to unleash a wave of defaults that will imperil an already weak global economy, said stark findings from the IMF’s twice yearly report.

The IMF is actually telling the truth in this instance.  We are in the midst of the greatest debt bubble the world has ever seen, and it is a monumental threat to the global financial system.

But even though we know about this threat, that doesn’t mean that we can do anything about it at this point or stop what is about to happen.

The Bank of England, the UN and the Bank for International Settlements have all issued similar ominous warnings.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the Guardian

The IMF’s warning echoes a chorus of others. The Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, has argued that the world is entering the latest episode of a “three-part crisis trilogy”. Unctad, the UN’s trade and development arm, would like to see advanced economies boost public spending to offset the downturn in emerging economies. The Bank for International Settlements believes interest rates have been too low for too long, encouraging too much risk-taking in financial markets. All of them fear that the global financial system is primed for a crisis.

I particularly like Andy Haldane’s likening our current situation to a “three-part crisis trilogy”.  I think that is perfect.  And if you are familiar with movie trilogies, then you know that the last episode is usually the biggest and the baddest.

Citigroup economist Willem Buiter also believes that big trouble is on the horizon.  In fact, he is publicly warning of a “global recession” in 2016

Citigroup economist Willem Buiter looks at the world landscape and sees an economy performing substantially below potential output, which he uses as the general benchmark for the idea of a global recession. With that in mind, he said the chances of a global recession in 2016 are growing.

“We think that the evidence suggests that the global output gap is negative and that the global economy is currently growing at a rate below global potential growth. The (negative) output gap is therefore widening,” Buiter said in a note to clients. He added, “from an output gap that was probably quite close to zero fairly recently, continued sub-par global growth is likely to put the global economy back into recession, if indeed the world ever fully emerged of the recession caused by the global financial crisis.”

Usually when we are plunged into a new crisis there is some sort of “trigger event” that creates widespread panic.  Yesterday, I wrote about the ongoing problems at commodity giants such as Glencore, Trafigura and The Noble Group.  The collapse of any of them could potentially be a new “Lehman Brothers moment”.

But something else happened just yesterday that is also extremely concerning.  Just a couple of weeks ago, I warned that the biggest bank in Germany, Deutsche Bank, was on the verge of massive trouble.  Well, on Wednesday the bank announced a loss of more than 6 billion dollars for the third quarter of 2015

Deutsche Bank’s new boss John Cryan set about cleaning up Germany’s biggest bank on Thursday, revealing a record pre-tax loss of 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in the third quarter and warning investors of a possible dividend cut.

Write downs, impairments and litigation costs all contributed to the loss, the bank said.

Cryan became chief executive in July with a promise to cut costs. The Briton is accelerating plans to shed assets and exit countries to shrink the bank and is preparing to ax about 23,000 jobs, or a quarter of the bank’s staff, sources told Reuters last month.

Keep an eye on Germany – the problems there are just beginning.

Something else that I am closely watching is the fact that major exporting nations such as China that used to buy up lots of U.S. government debt are now dumping that debt at an unprecedented pace.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

Five large purchasers of US Treasuries – China, Russia, Norway, Brazil, and Taiwan – have changed their minds. They’re dumping Treasuries, each for their own reasons that are now coinciding. And at the fastest rate on record.

For the 12-month period ended July, sales of Treasuries by central banks around the world reached a net of $123 billion, “the biggest decline since data started to be collected in 1978,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

China, the largest foreign owner of Treasuries – its hoard peaking at $1.317 trillion in November 2013 – has been unloading with particular passion. By July, the latest data available from the US Treasury Department, China’s pile was down to $1.241 trillion.

Yes, I know, the stock market went up once again on Thursday, and all of the irrational optimists are once again telling us that everything is going to be just fine.

The truth, of course, is that everything is not going to be just fine.  Ever since I started the Economic Collapse Blog, I have never wavered in my belief that the greatest economic crisis that the United States has ever seen is coming, and I have written well over 1000 articles setting forth the case for the coming collapse in excruciating detail.  Nobody is going to be able to say that I didn’t try to warn them.

Those that have blind faith in Barack Obama, Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and the other major central banks around the planet will continue to mock the idea that a major collapse is coming for as long as they can.

But when the day of reckoning does arrive and crisis coming knocking at their doors, what will they do then?

Why The Puerto Rico Debt Crisis Is Such A Huge Threat To The U.S. Financial System

Puerto Rico Map On A Globe - Photo by TUBSThe debt crisis in Puerto Rico could potentially cost financial institutions in the United States tens of billions of dollars in losses.  This week, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla publicly announced that Puerto Rico’s  73 billion dollar debt is “not payable,” and a special adviser that was recently appointed to help straighten out the island’s finances said that it is “insolvent” and will totally run out of cash very shortly.  At this point, Puerto Rico’s debt is approximately 15 times larger than the per capita median debt of the 50 U.S. states.  Yes, the Greek debt crisis is larger, as Greece currently owes about $350 billion to the rest of the planet.  But only about $14 billion of that total is owed to U.S. financial institutions.  But with Puerto Rico, things are very different.  Just about the entire 73 billion dollar debt is owed to U.S. financial institutions, and this could potentially cause massive problems for some extremely leveraged Wall Street firms.

There is a reason why Puerto Rico is called “America’s Greece”.  In Puerto Rico today, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty, the unemployment rate is over 12 percent, and the economy of the small island nation has continually been in recession since 2006.

Yet all this time Puerto Rico has continued to pile up even more debt.  Finally, it has gotten to the point where all of this debt is simply unpayable

Steven Rhodes, the retired U.S. bankruptcy judge who oversaw Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and has now been retained by Puerto Rico to help solve its problems, gave a blunt assessment on Monday.

Puerto Rico “urgently needs our help,” Rhodes said. “It can no longer pay its debts, it will soon run out of cash to operate, its residents and businesses will suffer,” he added.

This is why I hammer on the danger of U.S. government debt so often.  As we see with the examples of Greece and Puerto Rico, eventually a day of reckoning always arrives.  And when the day of reckoning arrives, power shifts into the hands of those that you owe the money too.

It would be hard to understate just how severe the debt crisis in Puerto Rico has become.  Former IMF economist Anne Krueger has gone so far as to say that it is “really dire”

The situation is dire, and I mean really dire,” said former IMF economist Anne Krueger, co-author of the report commissioned by the U.S. territory, which recommended debt restructuring, tax hikes and spending cuts. “The needed measures may face political resistance but failure to address the issues would affect even more the people of Puerto Rico.”

So who is going to get left holding the bag?

As I mentioned at the top of this article, major U.S. financial institutions are very heavily exposed.  Income from Puerto Rican bonds is exempt from state and federal taxation, and so that made them very attractive to many U.S. investors.  According to USA Today, there are 180 mutual funds that have “at least 5% of their portfolios in Puerto Rican bonds”…

The inability of the U.S. territory to repay its debt, combined with the financial crisis in Greece, would have far-reaching implications for financial markets and unsuspecting American investors. Morningstar, an investment research firm based in Chicago, estimated in 2013 that 180 mutual funds in the United States and elsewhere have at least 5% of their portfolios in Puerto Rican bonds.

It is important to keep in mind that many of these financial institutions are very highly leveraged.  So just a “couple of percentage points” could mean the different between life and death for some of these firms.

And unlike what is happening with Greece, the private financial institutions that hold Puerto Rican bonds are not likely to be very eager to “negotiate”.  In fact, the largest holder of Puerto Rican debt has already stated that it is very much against any kind of restructuring

U.S. fund manager OppenheimerFunds, the largest holder of Puerto Rico debt among U.S. municipal bond funds, warned the island it stands ready to defend the terms of bonds it holds, a day after the governor said he wanted to restructure debt and postpone bond payments.

What Oppenheimer is essentially saying is that it does not plan to give Puerto Rico any slack at all.  Here is more from the article that I just quoted above

OppenheimerFunds, with about $4.5 billion exposure to Puerto Rico according to Morningstar, said it believed the island could repay bondholders while providing essential services to citizens and growing the economy. It said it stood ready “to defend the previously agreed to terms in each and every bond indenture.”

“We are disheartened that Governor Padilla, in a public forum, has called for negotiations with other creditors, representing and including the millions of individual Americans that hold Puerto Rico municipal bonds,” a spokesman for Oppenheimer said in a statement.

But Puerto Rico simply does not have the money to meet all of their debt obligations.

So somebody is not going to get paid at some point.

When that happens, those that insure Puerto Rican bonds are also going to take tremendous losses.  The following comes from a recent piece by Stephen Flood

Now, bondholders are at risk as are the funds which hold Puerto Rican bonds and, more importantly, those who insure them in the derivatives market.

Dave Kranzler, from Investment Research Dynamics has warned that there are signs that the Puerto Rico situation may not remain a local crisis for much longer.

He points out that share prices of MBIA, the bond insurers, have been plummeting. MBIA are valued at $3.9 billion whereas their exposure to Puerto Rican debt is around $4.5 billion. Kranzler reckons their exposure could even be multiples of that figure. A default could wipe them out.

He also points out that the firm’s largest shareholders are Warburg Pincus, the firm to which Timothy Geithner went after his stint as Treasury Secretary, when he helped paper over the chasms opening up in the financial system.

Did you notice the word “derivatives” in that quote?

Hmmm – who has been writing endless articles warning about the danger of derivatives for years?

Who has been warning that “this gigantic time bomb is going to go off and absolutely cripple the entire global financial system“?

When Puerto Rico defaults, bond insurers are going to be expected to step up and make huge debt service payments to investors.

But this just might bankrupt some of these big bond insurers.  In fact, we have already started to see the stock prices of some of these bond insurers begin to plummet.  The following comes from the Wall Street Journal

Bond insurers MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc. are down again Tuesday as concerns over Puerto Rico’s ability to repay its debt multiply.

Investors fear that both firms face the potential for steep losses on their promises to backstop billions of Puerto Rico’s $72 billion of debt.

MBIA’s stock closed down 23% Monday, and fell more than 10% before rebounding Tuesday. By late afternoon, the stock was down 6%. Ambac’s stock fell 12% Monday and was off 14% Tuesday.

Of course Puerto Rico is just the tip of the iceberg of the coming debt crisis in the western hemisphere, just like Greece is just the tip of the iceberg of the coming debt crisis in Europe.

So stay tuned, because the second half of 2015 has now begun, and the remainder of this calendar year promises to be extremely “interesting”.

The 75 Trillion Dollar Shadow Banking System Is In Danger Of Collapsing

Shadow Banking System - Public DomainKeep an eye on the shadow banking system – it is about to be shaken to the core.  According to the Financial Stability Board, the size of the global shadow banking system has reached an astounding 75 trillion dollars.  It has approximately tripled in size since 2002.  In the U.S. alone, the size of the shadow banking system is approximately 24 trillion dollars.  At this point, shadow banking assets in the United States are even greater than those of conventional banks.  These shadow banks are largely unregulated, but governments around the world have been extremely hesitant to crack down on them because these nonbank lenders have helped fuel economic growth.  But in the end, we will all likely pay a very great price for allowing these exceedingly reckless financial institutions to run wild.

If you are not familiar with the “shadow banking system”, the following is a pretty good definition from investing answers.com

The shadow banking system (or shadow financial system) is a network of financial institutions comprised of non-depository banks — e.g., investment banks, structured investment vehicles (SIVs), conduits, hedge funds, non-bank financial institutions and money market funds.

How it works/Example:

Shadow banking institutions generally serve as intermediaries between investors and borrowers, providing credit and capital for investors, institutional investors, and corporations, and profiting from fees and/or from the arbitrage in interest rates.

Because shadow banking institutions don’t receive traditional deposits like a depository bank, they have escaped most regulatory limits and laws imposed on the traditional banking system. Members are able to operate without being subject to regulatory oversight for unregulated activities. An example of an unregulated activity is a credit default swap (CDS).

These institutions are extremely dangerous because they are highly leveraged and they are behaving very recklessly.  They played a major role during the financial crisis of 2008, and even the New York Fed admits that shadow banking has “increased the fragility of the entire financial system”…

The current financial crisis has highlighted the growing importance of the “shadow banking system,” which grew out of the securitization of assets and the integration of banking with capital market developments. This trend has been most pronounced in the United States, but it has had a profound influence on the global financial system. In a market-based financial system, banking and capital market developments are inseparable: Funding conditions are closely tied to fluctuations in the leverage of market-based financial intermediaries. Growth in the balance sheets of these intermediaries provides a sense of the availability of credit, while contractions of their balance sheets have tended to precede the onset of financial crises. Securitization was intended as a way to transfer credit risk to those better able to absorb losses, but instead it increased the fragility of the entire financial system by allowing banks and other intermediaries to “leverage up” by buying one another’s securities.

Over the past decade, shadow banking has become a truly worldwide phenomenon, and thus it is a major threat to the entire global financial system.  In China, shadow banking has been growing by leaps and bounds, but this has the authorities deeply concerned.  In fact, according to Bloomberg one top Chinese regulator has referred to shadow banking as a “Ponzi scheme”…

Their growth had caused the man who is now China’s top securities regulator to label the off-balance-sheet products a “Ponzi scheme,” because banks have to sell more each month to pay off those that are maturing.

And what happens to all Ponzi schemes eventually?

In the end, they always collapse.

And when this 75 trillion dollar Ponzi scheme collapses, the global devastation that it will cause will be absolutely unprecedented.

Bond expert Bill Gross, who is intimately familiar with the shadow banking system, has just come out with a major warning about the lack of liquidity in the shadow banking system…

Mutual funds, hedge funds, and ETFs, are part of the “shadow banking system” where these modern “banks” are not required to maintain reserves or even emergency levels of cash. Since they in effect now are the market, a rush for liquidity on the part of the investing public, whether they be individuals in 401Ks or institutional pension funds and insurance companies, would find the “market” selling to itself with the Federal Reserve severely limited in its ability to provide assistance.

As far as shadow banking is concerned, everything is just fine as long as markets just keep going up and up and up.

But once they start falling, the whole system can start falling apart very rapidly.  Here is more from Bill Gross on what might cause a “run on the shadow banks” in the near future…

Long used to the inevitability of capital gains, investors and markets have not been tested during a stretch of time when prices go down and policymakers’ hands are tied to perform their historical function of buyer of last resort. It’s then that liquidity will be tested.

And what might precipitate such a “run on the shadow banks”?

1) A central bank mistake leading to lower bond prices and a stronger dollar.

2) Greece, and if so, the inevitable aftermath of default/restructuring leading to additional concerns for Eurozone peripherals.

3) China – “a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. It is the “mystery meat” of economic sandwiches – you never know what’s in there. Credit has expanded more rapidly in recent years than any major economy in history, a sure warning sign.

4) Emerging market crisis – dollar denominated debt/overinvestment/commodity orientation – take your pick of potential culprits.

5) Geopolitical risks – too numerous to mention and too sensitive to print.

6) A butterfly’s wing – chaos theory suggests that a small change in “non-linear systems” could result in large changes elsewhere. Call this kooky, but in a levered financial system, small changes can upset the status quo. Keep that butterfly net handy.

Should that moment occur, a cold rather than a hot shower may be an investor’s reward and the view will be something less than “gorgeous”. So what to do? Hold an appropriate amount of cash so that panic selling for you is off the table.

In order to avoid a shadow banking crisis, what we need is for global financial markets to stabilize and to resume their upward trends.

If stocks and bonds start crashing, which is precisely what I have projected will happen during the last half of 2015, the shadow banking system is going to come under an extreme amount of stress.  If the coming global financial crisis is even half as bad as I believe it is going to be, there is no way that the shadow banking system is going to hold up.

So let’s hope that the financial devastation that we have seen so far this week is not a preview of things to come.  The global financial system has been transformed into a delicately balanced pyramid of glass that is not designed to handle turbulent times.  We should have never allowed the shadow banks to run wild like this, but we did, and now in just a short while we are going to get to witness a financial implosion unlike anything the world has ever seen before.

World Bank Whistleblower Karen Hudes Reveals How The Global Elite Rule The World

Karen HudesKaren Hudes is a graduate of Yale Law School and she worked in the legal department of the World Bank for more than 20 years.  In fact, when she was fired for blowing the whistle on corruption inside the World Bank, she held the position of Senior Counsel.  She was in a unique position to see exactly how the global elite rule the world, and the information that she is now revealing to the public is absolutely stunning.  According to Hudes, the elite use a very tight core of financial institutions and mega-corporations to dominate the planet.  The goal is control.  They want all of us enslaved to debt, they want all of our governments enslaved to debt, and they want all of our politicians addicted to the huge financial contributions that they funnel into their campaigns.  Since the elite also own all of the big media companies, the mainstream media never lets us in on the secret that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way that our system works.

Remember, this is not some “conspiracy theorist” that is saying these things.  This is a Yale-educated attorney that worked inside the World Bank for more than two decades.  The following summary of her credentials comes directly from her website

Karen Hudes studied law at Yale Law School and economics at the University of Amsterdam. She worked in the US Export Import Bank of the US from 1980-1985 and in the Legal Department of the World Bank from 1986-2007. She established the Non Governmental Organization Committee of the International Law Section of the American Bar Association and the Committee on Multilateralism and the Accountability of International Organizations of the American Branch of the International Law Association.

Today, Hudes is trying very hard to expose the corrupt financial system that the global elite are using to control the wealth of the world.  During an interview with the New American, she discussed how we are willingly allowing this group of elitists to totally dominate the resources of the planet…

A former insider at the World Bank, ex-Senior Counsel Karen Hudes, says the global financial system is dominated by a small group of corrupt, power-hungry figures centered around the privately owned U.S. Federal Reserve. The network has seized control of the media to cover up its crimes, too, she explained. In an interview with The New American, Hudes said that when she tried to blow the whistle on multiple problems at the World Bank, she was fired for her efforts. Now, along with a network of fellow whistleblowers, Hudes is determined to expose and end the corruption. And she is confident of success.

Citing an explosive 2011 Swiss study published in the PLOS ONE journal on the “network of global corporate control,” Hudes pointed out that a small group of entities — mostly financial institutions and especially central banks — exert a massive amount of influence over the international economy from behind the scenes. “What is really going on is that the world’s resources are being dominated by this group,” she explained, adding that the “corrupt power grabbers” have managed to dominate the media as well. “They’re being allowed to do it.”

Previously, I have written about the Swiss study that Hudes mentioned.  It was conducted by a team of researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland.  They studied the relationships between 37 million companies and investors worldwide, and what they discovered is that there is a “super-entity” of just 147 very tightly knit mega-corporations that controls 40 percent of the entire global economy

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

But the global elite don’t just control these mega-corporations.  According to Hudes, they also dominate the unelected, unaccountable organizations that control the finances of virtually every nation on the face of the planet.  The World Bank, the IMF and central banks such as the Federal Reserve literally control the creation and the flow of money worldwide.

At the apex of this system is the Bank for International Settlements.  It is the central bank of central banks, and posted below is a video where you can watch Hudes tell Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com the following…

“We don’t have to wait for anybody to fire the Fed or Bank for International Settlements . . . some states have already started to recognize silver and gold, the precious metals, as currency”

Most people have never even heard of the Bank for International Settlements, but it is an extremely important organization.  In a previous article, I described how this “central bank of the world” is literally immune to the laws of all national governments…

An immensely powerful international organization that most people have never even heard of secretly controls the money supply of the entire globe.  It is called the Bank for International Settlements, and it is the central bank of central banks.  It is located in Basel, Switzerland, but it also has branches in Hong Kong and Mexico City.  It is essentially an unelected, unaccountable central bank of the world that has complete immunity from taxation and from national laws.  Even Wikipedia admits that “it is not accountable to any single national government.”  The Bank for International Settlements was used to launder money for the Nazis during World War II, but these days the main purpose of the BIS is to guide and direct the centrally-planned global financial system.  Today, 58 global central banks belong to the BIS, and it has far more power over how the U.S. economy (or any other economy for that matter) will perform over the course of the next year than any politician does.  Every two months, the central bankers of the world gather in Basel for another “Global Economy Meeting”.  During those meetings, decisions are made which affect every man, woman and child on the planet, and yet none of us have any say in what goes on.  The Bank for International Settlements is an organization that was founded by the global elite and it operates for the benefit of the global elite, and it is intended to be one of the key cornerstones of the emerging one world economic system.

This system did not come into being by accident.  In fact, the global elite have been developing this system for a very long time.  In a previous article entitled “Who Runs The World? Solid Proof That A Core Group Of Wealthy Elitists Is Pulling The Strings“, I included a quote from Georgetown University history professor Carroll Quigley from a book that he authored all the way back in 1966 in which he discussed the big plans that the elite had for the Bank for International Settlements…

[T]he powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.

And that is exactly what we have today.

We have a system of “neo-feudalism” in which all of us and our national governments are enslaved to debt.  This system is governed by the central banks and by the Bank for International Settlements, and it systematically transfers the wealth of the world out of our hands and into the hands of the global elite.

But most people have no idea that any of this is happening because the global elite also control what we see, hear and think about.  Today, there are just six giant media corporations that control more than 90 percent of the news and entertainment that you watch on your television in the United States.

This is the insidious system that Karen Hudes is seeking to expose.  For much more, you can listen to Joyce Riley of the Power Hour interview her for an entire hour right here.

So what do you think about what Hudes is saying?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

Who Controls The Global Economy? Do Not Underestimate The Power Of The Big Banks

Great Seal - Photo by IpankoninAre the big banks really as powerful as some people say that they are?  Do they really control the global economy?  If y0u asked most people, they would tell you that governments control the global economy.  But the campaigns of our politicians are funded by the ultra-wealthy, the big banks and the large corporations that they control.  Others would tell you that the Federal Reserve and the rest of the central banks around the world control the global economy.  But the truth is that the Federal Reserve was established by the bankers and for the benefit of the bankers.  As you will see below, at the very core of the global economy there exists a “super-entity” of financial institutions that control an almost unimaginable amount of wealth and power.  These financial institutions and the ultra-wealthy individuals behind them are really the ones that are pulling all the strings.  In this world money equals power, and the borrower is the servant of the lender.  When you follow the pyramid all the way to the top, it begins to become very clear who really is in control.

In business schools all over America today, instead of dreaming of starting new businesses and contributing something positive to society, most business students are dreaming of going to Wall Street and getting rich.  But Wall Street doesn’t actually create or build anything of value for society.  Instead, the bankers make most of their profits by essentially pushing money and paper around.  In a recent article, Chris Martenson commented on this…

Today, some of the most celebrated individuals and institutions are ensconced within the financial industry; in banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms. Which is odd because none of these firms or individuals actually make anything, which society might point to as additive to our living standards. Instead, these financial magicians harvest value from the rest of society that has to work hard to produce real things of real value.

While the work they do is quite sophisticated and takes a lot of skill, very few of these firms direct capital to new efforts, new products, and new innovations. Instead they either trade in the secondary markets for equities, bonds, derivatives, and the like, which perform the ‘service’ of moving paper from one location to another while generating ‘profits.’ Or, in the case of banks, they create money out of thin air and lend it out at interest of course.

But just because they aren’t adding much value to society does not mean that these big banks are not extremely powerful.  In fact, anyone that underestimates that power of these monolithic financial institutions is being quite foolish.

A team of researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich studied the relationships between 37 million companies and investors worldwide, and what they found was absolutely stunning.

What they discovered is that there is a “super-entity” of just 147 very tightly knit companies that controls 40 percent of the entire network

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

So exactly who are the companies that are at the core of this “super-entity”?

Well, almost all of them are banks or financial institutions.  The following is a list of the 50 “most connected” companies from the study, and the notes in parentheses are from Chris Martenson

1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc (Investment Management)
3. FMR Corporation (Financial Services)
4. AXA (Investments & Life Insurance)
5. State Street Corporation (Investment Management)
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co (Bank)
7. Legal & General Group plc (Investments & Life Insurance)
8. Vanguard Group Inc (Investment Management)
9. UBS AG (Bank)
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc (Bank)
11. Wellington Management Co LLP (Investment Management)
12. Deutsche Bank AG (Bank)
13. Franklin Resources Inc (Investment Management)
14. Credit Suisse Group (Bank)
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp (Bank)
17. Natixis (Investment Management)
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc (Bank)
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc (Investment Management)
20. Legg Mason Inc (Investment Management)
21. Morgan Stanley (Bank)
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (Bank)
23. Northern Trust Corporation (Investment Management)
24. Société Générale (Bank)
25. Bank of America Corporation (Bank)
26. Lloyds TSB Group plc (Bank)
27. Invesco plc (Investment mgmt) 28. Allianz SE 29. TIAA (Investments & Insurance)
30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company (Investments & Insurance)
31. Aviva plc (Insurance)
32. Schroders plc (Investment Management)
33. Dodge & Cox (Investment Management)
34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc* (Bank)
35. Sun Life Financial Inc (Investments & Insurance)
36. Standard Life plc (Investments & Insurance)
37. CNCE
38. Nomura Holdings Inc (Investments and Financial Services)
39. The Depository Trust Company (Securities Depository)
40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
41. ING Groep NV (Bank, Investments & Insurance)
42. Brandes Investment Partners LP (Financial Services)
43. Unicredito Italiano SPA (Bank)
44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan (Owns a lot of banks’ shares in Japan)
45. Vereniging Aegon (Investments & Insurance)
46. BNP Paribas (Bank)
47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc (Owns stakes in 27 money management firms)
48. Resona Holdings Inc (Banking Group in Japan)
49. Capital Group International Inc (Investments and Financial Services)
50. China Petrochemical Group Company

Are you starting to get the idea?

The global economy truly is completely dominated by banks and other financial institutions.

In the United States, the big banks are not just content to own other companies anymore.  Now, some of our largest banks are actually starting to directly get into businesses such as “electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining”.  The following is an excerpt from a letter that several members of the U.S. Congress recently sent to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

We write in regards to the expansion of large banks into what had traditionally been non-financial commercial spheres. Specifically, we are concerned about how large banks have recently expanded their businesses into such fields as electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining.

Here are a few examples. Morgan Stanley imported 4 million barrels of oil and petroleum products into the United States in June, 2012. Goldman Sachs stores aluminum in vast warehouses in Detroit as well as serving as a commodities derivatives dealer. This “bank” is also expanding into the ownership and operation of airports, toll roads, and ports. JP Morgan markets electricity in California.

In other words, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley are no longer just banks – they have effectively become oil companies, port and airport operators, commodities dealers, and electric utilities as well. This is causing unforeseen problems for the industrial sector of the economy. For example, Coca Cola has filed a complaint with the London Metal Exchange that Goldman Sachs was hoarding aluminum. JP Morgan is currently being probed by regulators for manipulating power prices in California, where the “bank” was marketing electricity from power plants it controlled. We don’t know what other price manipulation could be occurring due to potential informational advantages accruing to derivatives dealers who also market and sell commodities. The long shadow of Enron could loom in these activities.

You can read the rest of their letter right here.

This week, Goldman Sachs has been facing allegations that it has cost American consumers billions of dollars by manipulating the price of aluminum.  The following is from an article that was posted on CNBC

Hundreds of millions of times a day, thirsty Americans open a can of soda, beer or juice. And every time they do it, they pay a fraction of a penny more because of a shrewd maneuver by Goldman Sachs and other financial players that ultimately costs consumers billions of dollars.

The story of how this works begins in 27 industrial warehouses in the Detroit area where Goldman stores customers’ aluminum. Each day, a fleet of trucks shuffles 1,500-pound bars of the metal among the warehouses. Two or three times a day, sometimes more, the drivers make the same circuits. They load in one warehouse. They unload in another. And then they do it again.

This industrial dance has been choreographed by Goldman to exploit pricing regulations set up by an overseas commodities exchange, an investigation by The New York Times has found. The back–and-forth lengthens the storage time. And that adds many millions a year to the coffers of Goldman, which owns the warehouses and charges rent to store the metal. It also increases prices paid by manufacturers and consumers across the country.

If that sounds shady to you, that is because it is shady.

But as the big banks continue to gain even more power in our society, this kind of thing will become even more common.

So what can we do about it?

Not much.

Do you think that the media will tell us the truth about all of this?  I wouldn’t count on it.  At this point, there are just six giant media corporations that control more than 90 percent of the news and entertainment that you see on your television.  And those six giant media corporations are very hesitant to do anything that will damage their corporate owners or their corporate advertisers.

Do you think that our politicians will do anything about all of this?  I wouldn’t count on it.  In national elections, the candidate that raises more money wins more than 80 percent of the time.  Our politicians know where their bread is buttered, and as history has shown most of them are very good to the guys with the big checkbooks.

As I said at the top of this article, money is power, and according to a report that was released last summer, the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.

The global economy belongs to them.  We are just living in it.

But hopefully if enough people start waking up, someday we will see some significant changes.

One of my favorite musical artists of all-time, Michael W. Smith, once wrote a song that contained the following lyrics…

Tell me, how long will we grovel at the feet of wealth and power?

Tell me, how long will we bow down to that golden calf, now?

(How long will be too long)

Will the people of the world ever get sick and tired of the overwhelming power of the big banks and start demanding changes?

That is a very good question.  Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

18 Indications That Europe Has Become An Economic Black Hole Which Is Going To Suck The Life Out Of The Global Economy

Summer vacation is over and things are about to get very interesting in Europe.  Most Americans don’t realize this, but much of Europe shuts down for the entire month of August.  I wish we had something similar in the United States.  But now millions of Europeans are returning from their extended family vacations and the fun is about to begin.  During August economic conditions continued to degenerate in Europe, but I figured that it wouldn’t be until after August that the European debt crisis would take center stage once again.  And as I wrote about last week, if there is going to be a financial panic, it typically happens in the fall.  The stock market has seen quite a nice rally over the summer, and many investors are nervous that we could see a significant “correction” very soon.  The month of September has been the absolute worst month for stock performance over the past 50 years, and it has also been the absolute worst month for stock performance over the past 100 years as well.  Of course that does not guarantee that anything is going to happen this year.  But things in Europe continue to get worse.  Unemployment rates are spiking, manufacturing activity is slowing down, housing prices are crashing and major financial institutions are failing.  What is happening in Europe right now appears to be an even worse version of what happened to the United States back in 2008.

But most Americans aren’t too concerned about what is happening in Europe.

In fact, most Americans don’t believe that a European financial collapse would be much of a problem for us.

Well, just remember what happened back in 2008. When the U.S. financial system started coming apart at the seams it sparked a devastating worldwide recession which was felt in every corner of the globe.

If the European financial system implodes, the consequences could be even worse.

Why?

Europe has a larger population than the United States does.

Europe has a larger economy than the United States does.

Europe has a much, much larger banking system than the United States does.

If Europe experiences a financial collapse, the entire globe will feel the pain.

And considering how weak the U.S. economy already is, it would not take much to push us over the edge.

What is going on in Europe right now is a very, very big deal and people need to pay attention.

The following are 18 indications that Europe has become an economic black hole which is going to suck the life out of the global economy….

#1 The unemployment rate in France is up to 10 percent, and the French media is buzzing about the fact that the number of unemployed French workers has now hit the 3 million mark.

#2 The French government has just announced the nationalization of its second largest mortgage lender.  Additional bailouts are likely on the way.

#3 French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen has announced that it will be cutting more than 10,000 jobs.  But of course major layoff announcements like this are coming out of Europe almost every day now.

#4 Home prices in France are falling rapidly and the recent election of a socialist president has created a bit of a panic in the French housing market….

British people with homes in France were today warned that the property market is in ‘free fall’.

A combination of factors including the election of a tax-and-spend Socialist government means that prices are tumbling.

It means an end to the boom years, when thousands of Britons poured money into rental or retirement investments across the Channel.

#5 A slow-motion bank run is happening in Spain.  The amount of money being pulled out of the Spanish banking system is absolutely unprecedented.  The following is from a recent Zero Hedge article….

The central bank of Spain just released the net capital outflow numbers and they are disastrous. During the month of June alone $70.90 billion left the Spanish banks and in July it was worse at $92.88 billion which is 4.7% of total bank deposits in Spain. For the first seven months of the year the outflow adds up to $368.80 billion or 17.7% of the total bank deposits of Spain and the trajectory of the outflow is increasing dramatically. Reality is reality and Spain is experiencing a full-fledged run on its banks whether anyone in Europe wants to admit it or not.

If this pace keeps up, more than 600 billion dollars will be pulled out of Spanish banks by the end of the year.

Keep in mind that the GDP of Spain for all of 2011 was just 1.49 trillion dollars.

So by the end of this year we could see the equivalent of more than 40 percent of Spanish GDP pulled out of Spanish banks and sent out of the country.

In case you were wondering, yes, that is a nightmare scenario.

#6 The unemployment rate in Spain is over 25 percent.  The youth unemployment rate in Spain is well over 50 percent.  Spain is a tinderbox that could be set ablaze at any moment.

#7 The yield on 10 year Spanish bonds is up to 6.85 percent.  This is an unsustainable level, and if rates don’t come down on Spanish debt soon it is inevitable that Spain will end up just like Greece.

#8 On Monday it was announced that Spanish banking giant Bankia will be getting an emergency “cash injection” of between 4 and 5 billion euros.  Apparently “cash injection” sounds better to the politicians than “a bailout” does.

#9 The housing crash in Spain just continues to get worse.  It is being reported that some homes in Spain are being sold at a 70% discount from where they were at the peak of the market back in 2006.  At this point there are approximately 2 million unsold homes in Spain.

#10 There are persistent rumors that the government of Spain will soon be forced to officially ask for a bailout from the rest of Europe.  But who is going to bail them out?  Most of the other governments of the eurozone are on the verge of bankruptcy themselves.

#11 Manufacturing activity in Europe has contracted for 13 months in a row.  The following is from a recent Reuters report….

The downturn that began in the smaller periphery members of the 17-nation bloc is now sweeping through Germany and France and the situation remained dire in the region’s third and fourth biggest economies of Italy and Spain.

“Larger nations like France and Germany remain in reverse gear… the (manufacturing) sector is on course to act as a drag on gross domestic product in the third quarter,” said Rob Dobson, senior economist at data collator Markit.

Markit’s final Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector fell from an earlier flash reading of 45.3 to 45.1, above July’s three-year low of 44.0, but notching its 13th month below the 50 mark separating growth from contraction.

#12 Chinese exports to the EU declined by 16.2 percent in July.  U.S. exports to Europe have been steadily falling as well.

#13 Slovenia and Cyprus are two other eurozone members that are in desperate need of bailout money.  The dominoes just keep falling and nobody seems to be able to come up with a plan to “fix” Europe.

#14 Even the “strong” economies in Europe are being dragged down now.  For example, unemployment in Germany has risen for five months in a row.

#15 According to one recent poll, only about one-fourth of all Germans want Greece to remain a part of the eurozone.  The odds of a breakup of the euro seem to rise with each passing day.

#16 It is now estimated that bad loans make up approximately 20 percent of all domestic loans in the Greek banking system at this point.

#17 The suicide rate in Greece is more than 30 percent higher than it was last year.  People are becoming very desperate in Greece and there is no end in sight to the economic depression that they are going through.

#18 Large U.S. companies have been rapidly getting prepared for a Greek exit from the eurozone.  The following is from a recent New York Times article….

Even as Greece desperately tries to avoid defaulting on its debt, American companies are preparing for what was once unthinkable: that Greece could soon be forced to leave the euro zone.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has looked into filling trucks with cash and sending them over the Greek border so clients can continue to pay local employees and suppliers in the event money is unavailable. Ford has configured its computer systems so they will be able to immediately handle a new Greek currency.

Every time European leaders get together they declare that they have “a plan” that will solve the problems that Europe is experiencing, but as we have seen things in Europe just continue to get worse with no end in sight.

A key date is coming up in the middle of this month.  On September 12th, Germany’s Constitutional Court will determine the fate of the recent fiscal pact and the ESM.  According to UniCredit global chief economist Erik Nielsen, if the court rules against the fiscal pact and the ESM the fallout will be catastrophic….

“If they were to surprise us by striking down Germany’s participation, I would think it’d be an utter bloodbath in markets”

But that is not the only thing that could set off a full-blown panic in the financial markets.

The truth is that Europe is teetering on the edge.

One wrong move and it is going to be 1929 all over again.

As I have maintained all along, the next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching, and this time the epicenter for the crisis is going to be in Europe.

But that does not mean that things are going to be easier for the United States than last time.  We have never even come close to recovering from the last recession.  Most Americans families are just barely getting by.  In fact, 77 percent of them are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

Right now there are millions of Americans that have lost their jobs and their homes in recent years and that feel forsaken by society.

After this next wave hits us there will be tens of millions of Americans feeling the pain of economic desperation.

The last wave of the economic collapse hurt us.

This next wave is going to absolutely devastate us.

Watch what is happening in Europe very carefully.  What Greece, Spain, Italy and France are experiencing right now is going to hit us soon enough.

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