The Calm Before The Storm

An eerie calm has descended upon world financial markets as they await perhaps the two most important financial events of the year this week.  On Tuesday, investors will be eagerly awaiting the results of one of the most anticipated midterm elections in U.S. history.  On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected to end months of speculation by formally announcing the details of a new round of quantitative easing.  If either the election or the meeting of the Federal Reserve open market committee delivers a highly unexpected result, it could have a dramatic impact on world financial markets.  In fact, many are looking at this week as a potential turning point for the U.S. economy.  The decisions that are made or not made this week could set us down a road from which the U.S. economy may never recover.

At this point, it looks like the Republicans will take control of the U.S. House of Representatives and will pick up a number of U.S. Senate seats as well.

There are many in the financial world who already consider Barack Obama to be the most “anti-business” president in U.S. history, so a defeat for the Democrats on Tuesday would be greatly welcomed by many on Wall Street.  Barack Obama’s decline in popularity since he was elected has been absolutely stunning.  According to Gallup, Barack Obama had an average approval rating of just 44.7% during the seventh quarter of his presidency, which was a brand new low.  In fact, Obama’s average approval rating has fallen during every single quarter since he took office.  Things have gotten so bad for Obama that one new poll has found that 47% of Democrats now think that Barack Obama should be challenged for the 2012 Democratic presidential nomination. 

However, if the Democrats were able to do surprisingly well on Tuesday, it would not only shock the political pundits, but it would also likely put world financial markets in a very bad mood. 

If the Republicans do very well on Tuesday, it will likely mean that there will be no more extensions for those receiving long-term unemployment benefits.  Some state governments are already anticipating this and are making preparations.  For example, armed security guards are now being posted at all 36 full-service unemployment offices in the state of Indiana.  It is estimated that approximately 2 million Americans will lose their unemployment insurance benefits during this upcoming holiday season if  Congress does not authorize another emergency extension of benefits by the end of November.  If the Republicans do very well on Tuesday, it would make it much more likely that the extension will not happen.

But if millions of unemployed Americans suddenly find themselves without any unemployment checks, that is only going to cause the anger and frustration regarding this economy to grow.

Either way, the unfortunate truth is that this election is not going to change much.

Over the past five elections, incumbents have been re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives at an average rate of 96 percent.

This time will be a little different of course, but not that much different.  The sad truth is that we are still likely to see about 80 percent of the exact same faces going back to the U.S. Congress for the next session.

However, even if the American people could somehow vote out every single member of Congress, it would still not do much to fundamentally change our economic situation because the U.S. Congress does not run the economy and neither does the President.

Of course both of those institutions can influence the U.S. economy, but it is actually the Federal Reserve that runs the economy.

The Federal Reserve controls the money supply.  The Federal Reserve controls our interest rates.  If the U.S. government wants more money it has to go get it from the Federal Reserve.  It is the Federal Reserve that is tasked with the mandate of keeping unemployment low while also keeping inflation at a “reasonable” level.

But these days, Federal Reserve officials don’t really seem to be that concerned about the dangers of inflation.  In fact, several top Federal Reserve officials have come out in recent weeks and have made public statements not only advocating more quantitative easing, but also suggesting that inflation is not a danger because it is actually “too low” right now.

In fact, there have been some rumblings that many officials at the Fed would actually welcome more inflation because they think that it would somehow stimulate the economy.  In fact, a Federal Reserve paper that was released in September actually floated the idea that a spike in oil prices would be quite good for the U.S. economy.

And these are the people running our economy?

Are we all caught in an episode of The Twilight Zone?

Well, as far as rising oil prices are concerned, the Fed will almost surely get its wish.  As I have written about previously, the price of oil is almost certainly heading to 100 dollars a barrel.

But if the price of oil shoots up, isn’t that going to cause significant inflationary pressure on the prices of thousands of other goods and services?

Of course.

Unfortunately, very few of our leaders seem too concerned about inflation or about protecting the value of the U.S. dollar these days.

In fact, now even the IMF is publicly proclaiming that the U.S. dollar is “overvalued”.

What a mess.

But there is another aspect of a new round of “quantitative easing” that the American people really wouldn’t like if they could actually figure out what is going on.

You see, the truth is that “quantitative easing” is not only just a way to stimulate the economy, it is also a way to give backdoor bailouts to the big banks without having to go through the U.S. Congress.

In a previous article, I described how this works….

1) The big U.S. banks have massive quantities of junk mortgage-backed securities that are worth little to nothing that they desperately want to get rid of.

2) They convince the Federal Reserve (which the big banks are part-owners of) to buy up these “toxic assets” at significantly above market price.

3) The Federal Reserve creates massive amounts of money out of thin air to buy up all of these troubled assets.  The public is told that all of this “quantitative easing” is necessary to stimulate the U.S. economy.

4) The big banks are re-capitalized and have gotten massive amounts of bad mortgage securities off their hands, the Federal Reserve has found a way to pump hundreds of billions (if not trillions) of dollars into the economy, and most of the American people are none the wiser.

Now how do you think the American people would feel about “quantitative easing” if they really understood all this?

But unfortunately, most Americans will be watching the election results on Tuesday night without having even a basic understanding of how our economy is really run.

Already, there are a ton of signs that the U.S. economy is heading in a very bad direction, and dumping a handful of Congress critters out of office might feel good, but it isn’t going to do much to really change our economic problems.

The American people desperately need to be educated about how our financial system really works.  But unfortunately, most Americans will likely not wake up until the whole house of cards comes crashing down.

30 Reasons Why People Should Be Getting Really Nervous About The State Of The U.S. Economy

The mainstream media is full of happy economic news these days.  The S&P 500 has shot up 16 percent since the beginning of July.  Ford Motor Company just reported a profit that jumped nearly 70 percent in the third quarter.  It was Ford’s best third quarter performance ever and it was the 6th quarterly profit in a row for the company.  Other major firms have announced earnings that have far exceeded expectations in recent weeks.  Hooray!  The pundits are proclaiming that the economic collapse is over and that the U.S. economy has won.  It is almost enough to make one tear into a stirring rendition of “Happy Days Are Here Again”.  But perhaps we should take a moment and get a hold of ourselves first.  After all, the underlying economic fundamentals have not changed.  The same long-term trends that were ripping the U.S. financial system apart a month or two ago are still continuing to do so.  Millions upon millions of American families are still deeply suffering.  So exactly what in the world is going on here?  Well, this is what is known as a “sucker’s rally”.  Those on the inside know better than to throw money at this market.  In fact, corporate insiders are now selling off stock so fast you would think it is going out of style.  Meanwhile, hordes of innocent rubes are jumping back into the stock market thinking that it is the perfect time to get in. 

The truth is that these “good times” are only temporary.  Don’t get used to them.  The following are 30 reasons why people should be getting really, really nervous about the state of the U.S. economy…. 

#1 Corporate insiders are selling off stock at a blinding pace and are looking for the exits.  Alan Newman, the editor of the Crosscurrents newsletter, examined a number of the top performing stocks in the market including Google, Apple and Target and found that the ratio of corporate insider stock sold to corporate insider stock purchased over the last six months for those companies was 3,177 to 1.  At the group of firms that Newman looked at, corporate insiders had purchased 38,000 shares of stock over the last six months and yet had sold off over 120 million shares.

#2 Analysts at both Bank of America and Goldman Sachs both believe that the U.S. Federal Reserve is going to initiate a new round of quantitative easing in November.  It does not take a genius to figure out that this is very likely to push up inflation and have very serious consequences for the U.S. dollar.

#3 Economists at Goldman Sachs are projecting that the Fed will have to purchase at least $4 trillion in assets during this next round of quantitative easing to get the U.S. economy moving in a positive direction once again.

#4 In the United States today, there are 5,057 janitors with Ph.D.’s, other doctorates, or professional degrees.

#5 Investors have very little faith in the U.S. dollar (and in paper currencies in general) at this point.  Precious metals are soaring to obscene heights.  The price of gold has increased more than 20 percent in 2010.  The price of silver has skyrocketed about 40 percent this year.  These are not signs that indicate that the U.S. financial system is stable.

#6 Robin Griffiths, a technical strategist at Cazenove Capital, told CNBC on Monday that the U.S. dollar is in danger of becoming “toxic waste”.

#7 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.

#8 U.S. lending institutions repossessed an all-time record total of 102,134 homes in the month of September.  That was the first time that home repossessions in the U.S. had ever exceeded the 100,000 mark during a single month.

#9 According to a Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price report that was released on Tuesday, single family home prices in the United States declined  for a second straight month in August.

#10 In the United States today, over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees.

#11 During the months of August and September, the state of Nevada had an unemployment rate of 14.4 percent, which was the highest in the history of the state.  Not that the rest of the country is doing any better.  The state of California has become a complete and total economic disaster zone, and the city of Detroit, Michigan is literally dying.

#12 The “official” unemployment rate in the United States has been at nine and a half percent or above for 14 consecutive months.

#13 The number of people unemployed in the state of California is approximately equivalent to the populations of Nevada, New Hampshire and Vermont combined.

#14 According to the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, there are approximately 3 million more vacant housing units than usual in the United States.

#15 China has reduced the export quota on rare earth elements for the second half of 2010 by 72%, thus strengthening their position in the world economy even more.  Rare earth elements are absolutely crucial to the manufacture of a vast array of high technology products, and now even more of them will have to be made in China.

#16 In 1985, the U.S. trade deficit with China was 6 million dollars for the entire year.  In the month of August alone, the U.S. trade deficit with China was over 28 billion dollars.

#17 Wheat, corn and other staples are absolutely soaring in price on world markets.  These higher food prices are going to hit U.S. consumers hard.

#18 In 2007, 3 U.S. banks failed.  In 2008, 25 U.S. banks failed.  In 2009, 140 U.S. banks failed.  Last Friday, it was announced that 139 U.S. banks have failed so far this year and it is not even the end of October yet.

#19 Total student loan debt in the United States is climbing at a rate of approximately $2,853.88 per second.

#20 Back in 1980, the United States imported approximately 37 percent of  the oil that we use.  Now we import nearly 60 percent of the oil that we use.

#21 According to an analysis by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the health care reform legislation that Congress didn’t read but passed into law anyway will generate $409.2 billion in additional taxes on the American people by the year 2019.

#22 Median household income in the U.S. declined from $51,726 in 2008 to $50,221 in 2009.  That was the second yearly decline in a row.

#23 One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in a government anti-poverty program, and yet the number of Americans signing up for food stamps and other social programs just continues to set new all-time records month after month after month.

#24 The number of Americans working part-time jobs “for economic reasons” is now the highest it has been in at least five decades.

#25 American 15-year-olds do not even rank in the top half of all advanced nations when it comes to math or science literacy.

#26 According to a recent poll conducted by CNBC, 92 percent of Americans believe that the performance of the U.S. economy is either “fair” or “poor”.

#27 After analyzing Congressional Budget Office data, Boston University economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff came to the conclusion that the U.S. government is now facing a “fiscal gap” of $202 trillion dollars.

#28 A trillion $10 bills, if they were taped end to end, would wrap around the earth more than 380 times.  That amount of money would still not be enough to pay off the U.S. national debt.

#29 According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. national debt is rapidly closing in on 14 trillion dollars and and will climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

#30 At our current pace, the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that U.S. government public debt will hit 716 percent of GDP by the year 2080.

The U.S. economy is in the midst of a long-term decline.  There are always going to be moments when it seems like things are getting a bit better, but then reality will kick in and the depressing slide will continue.

If you really want to understand what is happening to the U.S. economy, do not become fixated on the short-term numbers.  Instead, always keep an eye on the long-term trends.

The U.S. economy is dying.  We are getting whipped by the rest of the world and we are drowning in a sea of debt.  A little rally in the stock market is not going to do a thing to fix our very deep fundamental economic problems.

100 Dollar Oil Is Coming

The price of oil has been hovering around 80 dollars a barrel for quite some time now, but get ready, because it is going to move significantly higher.  Oil prices have already risen about 9 percent over the past month, and many believe that this could very well be the start of a new trend.  Lawrence Eagles, a top analyst at JP Morgan, recently made headlines across the globe when he stated that oil could hit 100 dollars a barrel “much sooner than we expect”.  Not only that, but a number of top OPEC officials are also publicly discussing the possibility of 100 dollar oil.  But just because a few people are talking about it does not mean that it is going to happen.  So are there any other reasons why we should anticipate a significant increase in the price of oil?

Well, yes there is.

*The Decline Of The U.S. Dollar

Since August 27th, the U.S. dollar has declined approximately 4.8% against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners.  Unfortunately, there seems to be every indication that the dollar is going to continue to decline.  As the U.S. dollar continues to display weakness, just about everything priced in dollars (including oil) is going to continue to rise.

*The Threat Of Quantitative Easing By The Federal Reserve

For weeks, top Federal Reserve officials have been making public statements about the need for more quantitative easing.  If the Fed does initiate a significant program of quantitative easing in the coming months, that is going to put even more downward pressure on the U.S. dollar and even more upward pressure on the price of oil. 

*Other Commodities Have Been Skyrocketing

Over recent weeks, the prices of a wide array of key commodities have been absolutely skyrocketing.  As I noted in a previous article, not only has the price of gold been setting records, the truth is that almost every major commodity has been spiking.  In a recent column entitled “An Inflationary Cocktail In The Making“, Richard Benson noted some of the commodity price increases that he has been tracking this year….

-Agricultural Raw Materials: 24%

-Industrial Inputs Index: 25%

-Metals Price Index: 26%

-Coffee: 45%

-Barley: 32%

-Oranges: 35%

-Beef: 23%

-Pork: 68%

-Salmon: 30%

-Sugar: 24%

-Wool: 20%

-Cotton: 40%

-Palm Oil: 26%

-Hides: 25%

-Rubber: 62%

-Iron Ore: 103%

The increase in the price of oil is just part of a larger trend of soaring commodity prices.  As long as this trend in commodity prices continues it is unlikely that the price of oil will go down.

*The Strikes In France

The austerity strikes in France have interrupted the flow of gasoline in that country.  Once the strikes are over there will be an increase in demand as inventories are restocked.

*Increased Demand From China And Other Emerging Nations

Most analysts are forecasting that the demand for oil in China and other emerging nations will continue to grow at an impressive pace.  This growing demand will also cause upward pressure on the price of oil.

*The Potential Of War In The Middle East

As always, war could break out in the Middle East at any time.  A minor conflict in the Middle East would likely push the price of oil over 100 dollars a barrel very quickly.  A major conflict would likely push it over 200 dollars or even beyond.  War is very, very difficult to predict, but it does seem quite likely that some kind of conflict will break out in the Middle East at some point over the next several years.

So how soon will oil reach the 100 dollar mark?

That is very hard to say. 

But even now, Americans are already having to dig deeper into their wallets at the gas pump.

For the two week period ending October 22nd, the average price of gasoline in the United States increased 5.23 cents to $2.82 a gallon.

As the price of oil continues to rise significantly over the long-term, it is going to have an impact on thousands of other prices.  Virtually all products must be transported, and an increase in the price of oil will cause those transportation costs to go up.

So an increase in the price of oil would be really bad news. 

If we do see 100 dollar oil, that will be a huge challenge for the U.S. economy.

If we end up seeing 150 dollar oil (especially for an extended period of time) it will be an absolute nightmare for the U.S. economy.

So where do you think the price of oil is going?  Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion….

The Biggest Bank Robbery In History? More Quantitative Easing = Backdoor Bailouts For The Big Banks Without Having To Go Through Congress

The U.S. Federal Reserve is getting ready to conduct another gigantic bailout of the big banks, but this time virtually nobody in the mainstream media will use the term “bailout” and the American people are going to get a lot less upset about it.  You see, one lesson that was learned during the last round of bank bailouts was that the American people really, really do not like it when the U.S. Congress votes to give money to the big banks.  So this time, the financial “powers that be” have figured out a way around that.  Instead of going through the massive headache of dealing with the U.S. Congress, the Federal Reserve is simply going to print money and give it directly to the banks.  To be more precise, the Federal Reserve is going to use a procedure known as “quantitative easing” to print money out of thin air in order to purchase large quantities of “troubled assets” (such as mortgage-backed securities) from the biggest U.S. banks at well above market price.  Some are already openly wondering if this next round of quantitative easing is going to be the biggest bank robbery in history.  Most Americans won’t understand these “backdoor bailouts” well enough to get upset about them, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be just as bad (or even worse) than the last round of bailouts.  In the end, all of the inflation that this new round of quantitative easing is going to cause is going to be a “hidden tax” on all of us.

These new backdoor bailouts are going to work something like this….

1) The big U.S. banks have massive quantities of junk mortgage-backed securities that are worth little to nothing that they desperately want to get rid of.

2) They convince the Federal Reserve (which the big banks are part-owners of) to buy up these “toxic assets” at way above market price.

3) The Federal Reserve creates massive amounts of money out of thin air to buy up all of these troubled assets.  The public is told that all of this “quantitative easing” is necessary to stimulate the U.S. economy.

4) The big banks are re-capitalized and have gotten massive amounts of bad mortgage securities off their hands, the Federal Reserve has found a way to pump hundreds of billions (if not trillions) of dollars into the economy, and most of the American people are none the wiser.

During a recent appearance on MSNBC, Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone did a great job of explaining how this all works….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwhMVB0XzPU&feature=player_embedded

But this isn’t the only way that the Federal Reserve forks over massive amounts of cash to the big U.S. banks.  In a previous article, I described how the U.S. Federal Reserve lends huge quantities of nearly interest-free money to big U.S. banks which they turn around and invest in U.S. Treasuries which bring in a return of three percent or so.  In essence, it is a legalized way for the big U.S. banks to make mountains and mountains of free money.

The truth is that the Federal Reserve does whatever it can to ensure that the big U.S. banks stay fat and happy. 

So what about the small banks?  What happens to them?

Well, the vast majority of the small banks are considered “not big enough for bailouts” and they are allowed to die like dogs.

Don’t let anyone ever fool you into thinking that the U.S. banking system has a level playing field.

For weeks, Federal Reserve officials have been coming out and have been dropping hints about how important it is for them to take “action” and implement another round of quantitative easing in order to help stimulate the U.S. economy.

In fact, during his speech on Friday, you could almost hear Ben Bernanke salivating at the thought of printing more money.

But nobody ever really asks who is going to be the first to get their hands on all this money that the Fed is going to pump into the economy.

The answer, of course, is obvious.

It is going to be the big banks – the same banks that are part-owners of the Federal Reserve and that have tremendous influence over Fed policies.

But even though this is all more than a little shady, is it such a bad thing for the rest of us if the Federal Reserve bails out the big banks and brings some much needed stability back to the U.S. financial system?

After all, if “Foreclosure-Gate” could potentially cause a nightmarish financial meltdown, isn’t it better for the Federal Reserve to step in and soak up large amounts of these toxic assets?

Those are legitimate questions.

Certainly the Federal Reserve has the power to step in and smooth over all sorts of short-term problems by papering them with money, but in the end printing more money will just make our long-term problems even worse.

Whenever a new dollar is introduced into the system, every other dollar in existence loses a little bit of value.

When trillions of new dollars get introduced into the system, it has the potential to create an inflationary nightmare. 

Already, a number of top Fed officials are publicly saying that inflation is “too low” and that we need to purposely generate more inflation in order to “stimulate” the U.S. economy.

Yes, that is just as insane as it sounds, but that is what they are actually proposing.

Apparently many top Federal Reserve officials honestly believe that they can pump trillions into the economy, jack up inflation significantly, and little harm will be done.

But even before “QE2” has begun, we are already starting to see all kinds of little bubbles beginning to develop in the financial system.  For example, commodity prices are skyrocketing right now, and that will soon be affecting the price we pay for food at the supermarket.

We are already on the road to serious inflation and the Federal Reserve has not even fired up the money hoses yet.  So what is going to happen after they pump trillions more into the economy?

Printing more money and giving it to the banks is not going to solve our economic problems.  It is just going to make them worse.

But unfortunately, American voters get no say about any of this.  Our national monetary policy is in the hands of an unelected central bank that does pretty much whatever it wants.   

An economic nightmare is coming, and you had better get ready.

12 Ominous Signs For World Financial Markets

Can anyone explain the very strange behavior that we are seeing in world financial markets right now?  Corporate insiders are bailing out of the U.S. stock market at a very alarming rate.  Investors are moving mountains of money into gold and other commodities.  In fact, there is such a rush towards gold that shortages are starting to be reported in some areas.  Meanwhile, some very, very unusual option activity has started to show up.  In particular, someone is making some incredibly large bets that the S&P 500 is going to absolutely tank during the month of October.  Central banks around the world have caught a case of “loose money fever” and are apparently hoping that a new flood of paper money will shock the global economy back to life.  Meanwhile, the furor over the foreclosure procedure abuses of the major U.S mortgage companies threatens to bring even more turmoil to the U.S. housing industry.

There are some very ominous signs that something is just not right in world financial markets right now.  Some of the signs listed below may be related.  Others may not be.  That is for you to decide.

Often, just before something really bad happens, you can actually see the rats leaving a sinking ship if you know where to look.  The truth is that if things are going to go south it is the insiders who know before anyone else.

So are some of the signs below actually clues for what we should expect in the months ahead?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

You make your own call.

But it is becoming hard to deny that there are some serious danger signs out there at this point….    

#1 Corporate insiders are getting out of the U.S. stock market at an absolutely blinding pace.  It is being reported that the ratio of corporate insider selling to corporate insider buying last week was 1,411 to 1, and this week the ratio has soared even higher and is at 2,341 to 1.

#2 Many of the world’s wealthiest people are buying absolutely massive quantities of gold right now.

#3 It is being reported that J.P. Morgan is gobbling up the rights to as much physical gold as it possibly can.

#4 The United States Mint has announced that it has run out of 1-ounce, 24-karat American Buffalo gold bullion coins and that it will not be selling any more of them in 2010.

#5 It is becoming increasingly difficult to explain the unusually high option volume that we are witnessing right now.

#6 Some very large investors are making massive bets that the S&P 500 is going to take a serious tumble during the month of October.

#7 On Tuesday, the Bank of Japan shocked world financial markets by cutting interest rates even closer to zero and by setting up a 5 trillion yen quantitative easing fund.

#8 The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago are both publicly urging the Fed to do much more to stimulate the U.S. economy, including beginning a new round of quantitative easing, even if it means a significant rise in the U.S. inflation rate.

#9 Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told reporters on Tuesday that the loose monetary policies of the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are throwing the world into “chaos”.

#10 At the end of September, federal regulators announced a $30 billion bailout of the U.S. wholesale credit union system.

#11 Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage have all suspended foreclosures in many U.S. states due to serious concerns about foreclosure procedures.  Now, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is actually demanding that all mortgage servicing companies in the state of Texas immediately suspend all foreclosures, the selling of foreclosed properties and the eviction of people living in foreclosed properties until they have completed a review of their foreclosure procedures.

#12 Not only that, but Nancy Pelosi and 30 other members of Congress are requesting a federal investigation of the foreclosure practices of U.S. mortgage lenders.  Needless to say, this controversy has the potential to turn the entire U.S. mortgage industry into an absolute quagmire.

So are dark days ahead for world financial markets?

Well, yeah, but it is incredibly hard to predict exactly when things are going to fall apart.

The truth is that there are going to be a whole lot more “crashes” and “collapses” in the years ahead.

The important thing, as discussed yesterday, is to keep your eye on the long-term trends.

The U.S. economy is undeniably in decline.  The only thing keeping the economy going at this point is a rapidly growing sea of red ink.  Debt is literally everywhere.  It is what our entire financial system is based on in 2010. 

In the months and years to come, the major players are going to try very hard to keep all the balls in the air and to continue the massive shell game that is going on, but in the end the whole thing is going to collapse like a house of cards.

Unfortunately, we have been destroying the U.S. economy for decades and there is simply not going to be a happy ending to this story.

The Death Cross: Another Sign That We Are On The Verge Of A Recession?

The Standard & Poor’s 500 50-day moving average stands poised to cross beneath the 200-day moving average.  To those in the financial industry, this is known as a “death cross”, and it is a very powerful indicator that we could be entering a bearish period.  So is this yet another sign that we are on the verge of a recession?  Well, anyone who has spent much time trying to interpret financial charts will tell you how inexact that science can be.  Financial markets can be wildly unpredictable, and there is always a tremendous amount of manipulation going on behind the scenes.  However, when you add this impending death cross with all of the other signs that we could be entering a recession, there certainly seems to be reason for alarm.  The truth is that financial markets across the globe are full of fear and panic right now.  In fact, as noted in another article, the dominant force in world financial markets in 2010 is fear.  When fear rules, markets become very volatile and they can fall very quickly.  Anyone who has spent much time trying to squeeze profits out of world financial markets knows that they tend to fall much faster than they ever rise.  So are we now approaching one of those times of panic when financial markets across the world fall at breathtaking speed?

Well, the truth is that nobody knows.  Anyone who says that they can predict these things with 100 percent certainty is either a liar or they are unbelievably rich.

But certainly the mood in the financial markets is grim.  If a death cross does happen on the S&P it is going to make things even more tense.

For those not familiar with investing terminology, Investopedia defines a “death cross” this way….

A crossover resulting from a security’s long-term moving average breaking above its short-term moving average or support level.

In this case, the death cross would be happening on the S&P 500, which is a weighted index of the prices of 500 large-cap common stocks actively traded in the United States.  The S&P 500 is one of the most commonly used benchmarks for the overall U.S. stock market.

So how soon could we see a death cross on the S&P 500?

Well, some analysts believe that it could happen almost at any time….

“Because the market has moved down so violently, it’s brought about the likelihood of the Death Cross occurring much more rapidly,” Abigail Doolittle, the founder of Peak Theories Research, was recently quoted by CNBC as saying.  “It now appears it could be only a day or two off if downward momentum continues.”

But hopefully most of you that are reading this are not even in the stock market at this point anyway.

The truth is that the “rally” that we have witnessed in the financial markets has been nothing more than a “sucker’s rally”.

The fundamentals of the marketplace have not changed.

The U.S. housing market continues to teeter on the brink of disaster.

The sovereign debt crisis is worse now than it ever has been.

In fact, just about every economic indicator you could name is pointing to difficult times ahead.

So there was really no fundamental reason why we should have even seen such a rally.

But even with the recent rally, the stock market still has not been producing good returns.

So often you hear people giving advice that goes something like this….

“If you are going to get into the stock market just keep your money in there and ride out the hard times because in the long run things always go up”.

But do they?

The truth is that some people have done well, but overall inflation-adjusted returns from stocks over the past ten years have been pretty close to zero.

So if the stock market is a game that you want to play, you had better really know what you are doing (or hire someone else who does), because it can be a very cruel game for amateurs.

What does seem certain is that with so much tension in world financial markets right now, we are likely to continue to see an extreme amount of volatility in the marketplace.  In such an environment, even the slightest piece of good news or bad news can set off incredibly wild swings.

It is a very exciting time for those of us who follow the financial news, but for those seeking to actually squeeze some  profits out of the marketplace, times such as these are not easy.

The Dominant Force In World Financial Markets In 2010 Is Fear

Extreme volatility is not a sign of health for financial markets.  But in 2010 financial markets around the globe are experiencing unprecented volatility.  Why?  It is because the entire world financial system has been gripped by fear.  In today’s crazed environment, it seems like just about anything can set off a major panic.  In fact, these days politicians have to be extremely careful about what they say about their national finances, because saying the wrong thing can literally send world markets into violent convulsions.  For instance, when a senior Hungarian official said that the Hungarian economy was in a “very grave situation” last week it sent world financial markets into a tailspin.  Panic was everywhere and everyone was talking about how Hungary could be the “next Greece”.  Of course on Monday Hungarian officials backed away from that comment and tried to reassure world markets that everything was fine, but the damage had been done.

It was a perfect example of the spirit of irrational fear that has gripped the financial world.

After all, even if Hungary did fall apart financially, it wouldn’t plunge the rest of the world into a depression.

And the truth is that Hungary is not really in that bad shape financially.  Hungary’s budget deficit is about half the size of the Greek budget deficit and Hungary doesn’t even use the euro.

But now investors all over the world are constantly scanning the news for the latest piece of information that will send waves of panic through the markets.

In the current environment, fear is what moves the markets.

The reality is that fear is the reason why the euro is plunging at breathtaking speed.

Are many of the economies in Europe truly in really bad shape?

Of course.

However, it could be argued that the economies of the U.S. and Japan are in even worse shape in many ways.  Japan’s gross public debt has reached 201 percent of GDP and the United States has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.

But because of the extreme fear that has been generated, people are moving out of the euro and into dollars and yen.

In fact, the euro is probably headed even lower.

GFT Forex’s Boris Schlossberg believes that the euro could fall down to the 1.16/1.17 range before this current panic is over….

“I think we run the risk of seeing 1.16/1.17 before the next selling phase dies down. The euro is just absolutely hated here. The European rescue package still faces some regional opposition. There were rumors the German high court could rule it was unconstitutional. They don’t have a federal mechanism to put it in place, and there’s worries that at any point in time, the rescue package could be sabotaged.”

But all of this fear and panic is actually good for investors in gold and silver.

Why?

Because during times of fear and panic investors look to move their money into something that is secure, and gold and silver have been secure investments for thousands of years.

So in this environment of fear, gold is absolutely soaring.  On Monday, the price of gold climbed 1.9 percent to $1239.30 per ounce.  That was the largest one day rise in the price of gold since February 16th.

So how high will gold go?

Well, the truth is that nobody knows.

But if fear and panic continue to grip world financial markets in the months ahead, there is really no telling how high it could go.

In fact, even many mainstream financial analysts are becoming extremely bullish on gold.

As Dan Burrows of Daily Finance recently commented, “you don’t have to be a member of the build-a-bunker-in-Montana crowd to believe gold could hit $2,500 in the next couple of years.”

But these days no investment is truly safe.  One really bad rumor these days can send any stock, any currency or any commodity into a tailspin.

Fear is everywhere.  Governments and central banks are intervening in the markets in unprecedented ways, but it is still not enough to keep the markets from flopping around like a dying fish.

So for those who are waiting for the financial markets to get back to “normal”, you are likely to be waiting for quite a long time.  The world economic situation is not going to be getting any better in the long-term.  So if financial markets are flipping out this much even now, just wait and see what happens when things really start falling apart.

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