Did you know that the sixth largest bank in Spain failed in spectacular fashion just a few days ago? Many are comparing the sudden implosion of Banco Popular to the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, and EU regulators hastily arranged a sale of the failed bank to Santander in order to avoid a full scale financial panic. Sadly, most Americans have no idea that a new financial crisis is starting to play out over in Europe, because most Americans only care about what is going on in America. But we should be paying attention, because the EU is the second largest economy on the entire planet, and the euro is the second most used currency on the entire planet. The U.S. financial system is already teetering on the brink of disaster, and this new financial crisis in Europe could turn out to be enough to push us over the edge.
If EU regulators had not arranged a “forced sale” of Banco Popular to Santander, we would probably be witnessing panic on a scale that we haven’t seen since 2008 in Europe right about now. The following comes from the Telegraph…
Spanish banking giant Santander has stepped in to the rescue ailing rival Banco Popular by taking over the failing lender for €1 in a watershed deal masterminded by EU regulators to avoid a damaging collapse.
Santander will tap its shareholders for €7bn in a rights issue to raise the capital needed to shore-up Popular’s finances in a dramatic private sector rescue of Spain’s sixth-largest lender.
It will inflict losses of approximately €3.3bn on bond investors and shareholders but crucially will avoid a taxpayer bailout.
But now that a “too big to fail” bank like Banco Popular has failed, investors are immediately trying to figure out which major Spanish banks may be the next to collapse. According to Wolf Richter, many have identified Liberbank as an institution that is highly vulnerable…
After its most tumultuous week since the bailout days of 2012, Spain’s banking system is gripped by a climate of fear, uncertainty and distrust. Rather than allaying investor nerves, the shotgun bail-in and sale of Banco Popular to Santander on Tuesday has merely intensified them. For the first time since the Global Financial Crisis, shareholders and subordinate bondholders of a failing Spanish bank were not bailed out by taxpayers; they took risks in order to make a buck, and they bore the consequences. That’s how it should be. But bank investors don’t like not getting bailed out.
Now they’re worrying it could happen again. As Popular’s final days showed, once confidence and trust in a bank vanishes, it’s almost impossible to restore them. The fear has now spread to Spain’s eighth largest lender, Liberbank, a mini-Bankia that was spawned in 2011 from the forced marriage of three failed cajas (savings banks), Cajastur, Caja de Extremadura and Caja Cantabria.
On Thursday, shares of Liberbank dropped by an astounding 20 percent, and that was followed up by another 19 percent decline on Friday.
Spanish authorities responded by banning short sales of Liberbank shares, and that caused a short-term rebound in the stock price.
But we haven’t seen this kind of chaos in European financial markets in a very long time.
Meanwhile, Nick Giambruno is sounding the alarm about a much bigger bubble. At this moment, more than a trillion dollars worth of Italian government bonds have negative yields…
Over $1 trillion worth of Italian bonds actually have negative yields.
It’s a bizarre and perverse situation.
Lending money to the bankrupt Italian government carries huge risks. So the yields on Italian government bonds should be near record highs, not record lows.
Negative yields could not exist in a free market. They’re only possible in the current “Alice in Wonderland” economy created by central bankers.
You see, the European Central Bank (ECB) has been printing money to buy Italian government bonds hand over fist. Since 2008, the ECB and Italian banks have bought over 88% of Italian government debt, according to a recent study.
The moment that the ECB stops wildly buying Italian bonds, the party will be over and the Italian financial system will crash. Unfortunately for Italy, the Germans are pressuring the ECB to quit printing so much money, and the Germans usually get their way in these things.
But if the Germans get their way this time, we could be facing a complete and utter nightmare very quickly. Here is more from Nick Giambruno…
Once the ECB—the only large buyer—steps away, Italian government bonds will crash and rates will soar.
Soon it will be impossible for the Italian government to finance itself.
Italian banks—which are already insolvent—will be decimated. They hold an estimated €235 billion worth of Italian government bonds. So the coming bond crash will pummel their balance sheets.
It’s shaping up to be a lovely train wreck.
And all of this is happening in the context of a global economy that appears to be headed for a major downturn.
For example, the last time that global credit growth showed down this rapidly was during the last financial crisis…
From peak to trough the deceleration in global credit growth is now approaching that during the global financial crisis (-6% of global GDP), even if the dispersion of the decline is much narrower. Currently 55% of the countries in our sample have experienced a -0.3 standard deviation deterioration in their credit impulse (median over 12 months) compared to 77% of countries in Dec ’09 when the median decline was -1.4 stdev.”
Of course the last time global credit growth decelerated this dramatically, global central banks intervened on a scale that was unlike anything that we had ever seen before.
But this time around it is happening at a time when global central banks are very low on ammo…
More importantly, back in 2009, not only China, but the Fed and other central banks unleashed the biggest injection of credit, i.e. liquidity, the world has ever seen resulting in the biggest asset bubble the world has ever seen. And, this time around, the Fed is set to hike for the third time in the past year, even as the ECB and BOJ are forced to soon taper as they run out of eligible bonds to monetize. All this comes at a time when US loan growth is weeks away from turning negative.
As such, what “kickstarts” the next spike in the credit impulse is unclear. What is clear is that if the traditional 3-6 month lag between credit inflection points, i.e. impulse, and economic growth is maintained, the global economy is set for a dramatic collapse some time in the second half.
There are so many experts that are warning about big economic trouble in our immediate future. I would like to say that all of the experts that are freaking out are wrong, but I can’t do that.
I have not seen an atmosphere like this since 2008 and 2009, and everything points to an acceleration of the crisis as we enter the second half of this year.
The Italian banking system is a “leaning tower” that truly could completely collapse at literally any moment. And as Italy’s banks begin to go down like dominoes, it is going to set off financial panic all over Europe unlike anything we have ever seen before. I wrote about the troubles in Italy back in January, but since that time the crisis has escalated. At this point, Italian banking stocks have declined a whopping 28 percent since the beginning of 2016, and when you look at some of the biggest Italian banks the numbers become even more frightening. On Monday, shares of Monte dei Paschi were down 4.7 percent, and they have now plummeted 56 percent since the start of the year. Shares of Carige were down 8 percent, and they have now plunged a total of 58 percent since the start of the year. This is what a financial crisis looks like, and just like we are seeing in South America, the problems in Italy appear to be significantly accelerating.
So what makes Italy so important?
Well, we all saw how difficult it was for the rest of Europe to come up with a plan to rescue Greece. But Greece is relatively small – they only have the 44th largest economy in the world.
The Italian economy is far larger. Italy has the 8th largest economy in the world, and their government debt to GDP ratio is currently sitting at about 132 percent.
There is no way that Europe has the resources or the ability to handle a full meltdown of the Italian financial system. Unfortunately, that is precisely what is happening. Italian banks are absolutely drowning in non-performing loans, and as Jeffrey Moore has noted, this potentially represents “the greatest threat to the world’s already burdened financial system”…
Shares of Italy’s largest financial institutions have plummeted in the opening months of 2016 as piles of bad debt on their balance sheets become too high to ignore. Amid all of the risks facing EU members in 2016, the risk of contagion from Italy’s troubled banks poses the greatest threat to the world’s already burdened financial system.
At the core of the issue is the concerning level of Non-Performing Loans (NPL’s) on banks’ books, with estimates ranging from 17% to 21% of total lending. This amounts to approximately €200 billion of NPL’s, or 12% of Italy’s GDP. Moreover, in some cases, bad loans make up an alarming 30% of individual banks’ balance sheets.
Things have already gotten so bad that the European Central Bank is now monitoring liquidity levels at Monte dei Paschi and Carige on a daily basis. The following comes from Reuters…
The European Central Bank is checking liquidity levels at a number of Italian banks, including Banca Carige and Monte dei Paschi di Siena , on a daily basis, two sources close to the matter said on Monday.
Italian banking shares have fallen sharply since the start of the year amid market concerns about some 360 billion euros of bad loans on their books and weak capital levels.
The ECB has been putting pressure on several Italian banks to improve their capital position. The regulator can decide to monitor liquidity levels at any bank it supervises on a weekly or daily basis if it has any concern about deposits or funding.
A run on the big Italian banks has already begun. Italians have already been quietly pulling billions of euros out of the banking system, and if these banks continue to crumble this “stealth run” could quickly become a stampede.
And of course panic in Italy would quickly spread to other financially troubled members of the eurozone such as Spain, Portugal, Greece and France. Here is some additional analysis from Jeffrey Moore…
A deteriorating financial crisis in Italy could risk repercussions across the EU exponentially greater than those spurred by Greece. The ripple effects of market turmoil and the potential for dangerous precedents being set by EU authorities in panicked response to that turmoil, could ignite yet more latent financial vulnerabilities in fragile EU members such as Spain and Portugal.
Unfortunately, most Americans are completely blinded to what is going on in the rest of the world because stocks in the U.S. have had a really good run for the past couple of weeks. Headlines are declaring that the risk of a new recession “has passed” and that the crisis “is over”. Meanwhile, South America is plunging into a full-blown depression, the Italian banking system is melting down, global manufacturing numbers are the worst that we have seen since the last recession, and global trade is absolutely imploding.
Other than that, things are pretty good.
Seriously, it is absolutely critical that we don’t allow ourselves to be fooled by every little wave of momentum in the stock market.
It is a fact that sales and profits for U.S. corporations are declining. This is a trend that began all the way back in mid-2014 and that has accelerated during the early stages of 2016. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
Total US business sales – not just sales by S&P 500 companies but also sales by small caps and all other businesses, even those that are not publicly traded – peaked in July 2014 at $1.365 trillion, according to the Census Bureau. By December 2015, total business sales were down 4.6% from that peak. A bad 18 months for sales! They’re back where they’d first been in January 2013!
Sales by S&P 500 companies dropped 3.8% in 2015, according to FactSet, the worst year since the Financial Crisis.
I know that a lot of people have been eagerly anticipating a complete and total global economic collapse for a long time, and many of them just want to “get it over with”.
Well, the truth is that nobody should want to see what is coming. Personally, I rejoice for every extra day, week or month we are given. Every extra day is another day to prepare, and every extra day is another day to enjoy the extremely comfortable standard of living that our debt-fueled prosperity has produced for us.
Most Americans have absolutely no idea how spoiled we really are. Even just fifty years ago, life was so much harder in this country. If we had to go back and live the way that Americans did 100 or 150 years ago, there are very few of us that would be able to successfully do that.
So enjoy the remaining days of debt-fueled prosperity while you still can, because great change is coming, and it is going to be extremely bitter for most of the population.
The worst stock market crashes in U.S. history have come during the month of October. There is just something about this time of the year that seems to be conducive to financial panic. For example, on October 28th, 1929 the biggest stock market crash in U.S. history up until that time helped usher in the Great Depression of the 1930s. And the largest percentage crash in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average by a very wide margin happened on October 19th, 1987. Overall, 9 of the 16 largest single day percentage crashes that we have ever seen happened during the month of October. Of course that does not mean that something will happen this October, but after what we just witnessed in September we should all be on alert.
Clearly, there is a tremendous amount of momentum toward the downside right now. As you can see from the chart below, all of the gains for the Dow since the end of the 2013 calendar year have already been wiped out…
And as I wrote about just the other day, last quarter we witnessed the loss of 11 trillion dollars in “paper wealth” on stock markets all over the planet. The following comes from Justin Spittler…
The S&P 500 fell 8%… and so did the Dow and the NASDAQ. It was the worst quarter for U.S. stocks since 2011.
Stocks around the world dropped too. The MSCI All-Country World Index, which tracks 85% of global stocks, also had its worst quarter since 2011. The STOXX Europe 600 Index, which tracks 600 of Europe’s largest companies, fell 10%. It was the worst quarter for European stocks since 2011 as well.
China’s Shanghai Composite fell 28% last quarter, its largest quarterly decline in seven years. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 19%. It was the worst quarterly decline for emerging market stocks in four years.
In total, last quarter’s selloff erased nearly $11 trillion in value from stocks around the world.
Sadly, the mainstream media is assuring everyone that things are going to be just fine, and a lot of people on the Internet seem to have the attitude that “nothing is happening“. Just like in 1929, a brief period of stabilization after the initial fall has lulled many into a false sense of security. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
Just as in 1929, the market was performing fantastic and the continuous wealth increase seemed to be unstoppable. A short 10% correction was seen as ‘healthy’ and soon a new uptrend was starting (the green line). This is exactly the same scenario we saw in the past few weeks. Market commenters said the 10% drop in the Dow Jones was a ‘healthy correction’ and we’re on our way to the next uptrend and Christmas rally.
Most people seem to assume that since I run a website called “The Economic Collapse Blog” that I must be rooting for a stock market collapse and an economic implosion, but that is not true at all. The longer that the financial markets can hold together, the longer all of our lives can stay quiet, peaceful and “normal”. Once the chaos begins, all of our lives will change dramatically. No matter how much any of us have prepared, what is coming is going to deeply affect all of us at least to a certain degree.
It would be far better for me, my extended family and my friends if I am wrong about an imminent financial collapse. Most of the people that I personally know are not even close to ready for what is coming. And during the coming credit crunch it is inevitable that people that I personally know will lose jobs and suffer business setbacks.
Sadly, the truth is that life in America is never going to be any better than it is right now. At some point, this stock market bubble will fully implode. At some point, our debt-fueled prosperity will disappear. At some point, the extraordinary recklessness of the big banks will catch up with them in a major way.
As we witnessed in 2008, our financial system is not designed to handle a severe bear market. We should have learned some very hard lessons from the last time around, but we didn’t. Instead, our financial system is even more vulnerable to a crisis today than it was back then. A huge turn down by the financial markets will rip many of our top financial companies to shreds. So a bear market would be extremely bad news, but unfortunately many prominent analysts seem to believe that this is precisely what we are now facing…
Jim Cramer, the ex-hedge fund manager and host of CNBC’s show “Mad Money,” has been vocal recently on air, saying repeatedly that he doesn’t like the market now, and last week said “we have a first-class bear market going.” Similarly, Gary Kaltbaum, president of Kaltbaum Capital Management, has been sending out notes to clients and this newspaper for weeks, saying the poor price action of the stock market and many hard-hit sectors, such as energy and the recently clobbered biotech sector, has all the earmarks of a bear market. Over the weekend, Kaltbaum said: “We remain in a worldwide bear market for stocks.”
On the way up, all of the extreme risk-taking didn’t seem to matter much because everyone was making a lot of money.
But on the way down, all of the extreme risk-taking is just going to accelerate the collapse.
Personally, I do not know exactly what will happen over the next few weeks, but without a doubt I have a very bad feeling about the rest of this year.
What about you?
What do you think will happen?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…
Gerald Celente of the Trends Research Institute has just gone on the record with a prediction that there will be a stock market crash by the end of this calendar year. If you are not familiar with Gerald Celente, he is one of the most highly respected trends forecasters in the entire world. He has been featured on CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Morning News, NBC Nightly News and Coast to Coast AM. Personally, I have a lot of respect for him. While it is true that not every single one of his forecasts about the future came to pass over the years, he does have a very solid track record that goes back for decades. He correctly predicted the 1987 stock market crash, the bursting of the dotcom bubble and the financial panic of 2008. Just a couple of days ago, he told Eric King the following: “I’m now predicting that we are going to see a global stock market crash before the end of the year.” Celente says that it won’t just be U.S. stocks either. He believes that crashes are also coming to “the DAX, the FTSE, the CAC, Shanghai, and the Nikkei”. It other words, it is going to be a truly global financial crisis and he says that there is “going to be panic on the streets from Wall Street to Shanghai and from the UK down to Brazil”.
When you go out on a limb like this, you are putting your credibility on the line. This is something that Celente has only done a few times in the past, and normally he has been spot on…
Rarely do I ever put a date on market crashes. I did it in 1987 when I forecast the 1987 stock market crash — that was in the Wall Street Journal. I also forecast the ‘Panic of 2008,’ and the ‘dot-com bust’ in October of 1999, when I said it (the dot-com mania) would fail in the second quarter of 2000…
Of course Celente is far from alone. Many others have also been warning that a new financial crisis is imminent.
For instance, just check out what David Stockman recently told CNBC…
David Stockman has long warned that the stock market is on the verge of a massive collapse, and the recent price action has him even more convinced than ever that the bottom is about to fall out.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that the top is in,” the Reagan administration’s OMB director said Thursday on CNBC’s “Futures Now.” The S&P 500 has traded in a historically narrow range for the better part of 2015, having moved just 1 percent higher year to date. “It’s just waiting for the knee-jerk bulls, robo traders and dip buyers to finally capitulate.”
Stockman, whose past claims have yet to come to fruition, still believes that the excessive monetary policy from central banks around the world has created a “debt supernova,” and all the signs point to “the end of the central bank enabled bubble,” which could cause a worldwide recession.
Just a few days ago, I authored an article entitled “8 Financial Experts That Are Warning That A Great Financial Crisis Is Imminent” which showed that a whole bunch of other financial experts are sounding the alarm about an implosion of the financial markets.
And before any of these warnings came out, I issued my “red alert” for the last six months of 2015 back on June 25th.
There is a growing consensus that something really, really bad is about to happen in the very near future.
You know that we are really late in the game when the mainstream media starts sounding exactly like The Economic Collapse Blog.
On July 22nd, I authored a piece entitled “Commodities Collapsed Just Before The Last Stock Market Crash – So Guess What Is Happening Right Now?”
Now compare that headline to this recent one from Bloomberg: “Commodities Are Crashing Like It’s 2008 All Over Again“.
The mainstream media is starting to get it. The exact same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the last financial crisis are playing out once again right before our very eyes. Here is an excerpt from that Bloomberg article…
Attention commodities investors: Welcome back to 2008!
The meltdown has pushed as many commodities into bear markets as there were in the month after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which spurred the worst financial crisis seven years ago since the Great Depression.
Eighteen of the 22 components in the Bloomberg Commodity Index have dropped at least 20 percent from recent closing highs, meeting the common definition of a bear market. That’s the same number as at the end of October 2008, when deepening financial turmoil sent global markets into a swoon.
This is the kind of stuff that I have been hammering on for weeks.
Another sign that we saw back in 2008 that is repeating once again is a substantial slowdown in global trade. Over the weekend, we got some more bad news on this front from China. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
Overnight we got another acute reminder of just who is lying hunched over, comatose in the driver’s seat of global commerce: the country whose July exports just crashed by 8.3% Y/Y (and down 3.6% from the month before) far greater than the consensus estimate of only a 1.5% drop, and the biggest drop in four months following the modest June rebound by 2.8%: China.
It wasn’t just exports, imports tumbled as well by 8.1%, fractionally worse than the -8.0% consensus, and down from the -6.1% in June as China’s commodity tolling operations are suddenly mothballed.
The crisis that so many have been waiting for is here.
As the coming weeks and months play out, there will be good days and there will be bad days. Remember, some of the biggest one day gains in U.S. stock market history happened right in the middle of the financial crisis of 2008. So don’t get fooled by what happens on any one particular day.
Also, please do not think that this crisis will be “over” by the end of 2015. What we are moving into is just the start of the crisis. Things will continue to unravel as we move into 2016 and beyond. The recession that we experienced back in 2008 and 2009 will seem like a Sunday picnic compared to what is coming by the time that everything is all said and done.
So that is why I work so hard to encourage people to get prepared.
What we are facing is not going to last for weeks or for months.
The coming crisis is going to last for years, and it is going to be painful beyond what most people would dare to imagine.
As we enter the second half of 2015, financial panic has gripped most of the globe. Stock prices are crashing in China, in Europe and in the United States. Greece is on the verge of a historic default, and now Puerto Rico and Ukraine are both threatening to default on their debts if they do not receive concessions from their creditors. Not since the financial crisis of 2008 has so much financial chaos been unleashed all at once. Could it be possible that the great financial crisis of 2015 has begun? The following are 16 facts about the tremendous financial devastation that is happening all over the world right now…
1. On Monday, the Dow fell by 350 points. That was the biggest one day decline that we have seen in two years.
2. In Europe, stocks got absolutely smashed. Germany’s DAX index dropped 3.6 percent, and France’s CAC 40 was down 3.7 percent.
3. After Greece, Italy is considered to be the most financially troubled nation in the eurozone, and on Monday Italian stocks were down more than 5 percent.
4. Greek stocks were down an astounding 18 percent on Monday.
5. As the week began, we witnessed the largest one day increase in European bond spreads that we have seen in seven years.
6. Chinese stocks have already met the official definition of being in a “bear market” – the Shanghai Composite is already down more than 20 percent from the high earlier this year.
7. Overall, this Chinese stock market crash is the worst that we have witnessed in 19 years.
8. On Monday, Standard & Poor’s slashed Greece’s credit rating once again and publicly stated that it believes that Greece now has a 50 percent chance of leaving the euro.
9. On Tuesday, Greece is scheduled to make a 1.6 billion euro loan repayment. One Greek official has already stated that this is not going to happen.
10. Greek banks have been totally shut down, and a daily cash withdrawal limit of 60 euros has been established. Nobody knows when this limit will be lifted.
11. Yields on 10 year Greek government bonds have shot past 15 percent.
12. U.S. investors are far more exposed to Greece than most people realize. The New York Times explains…
But the question of what happens when the markets do open is particularly acute for the hedge fund investors — including luminaries like David Einhorn and John Paulson — who have collectively poured more than 10 billion euros, or $11 billion, into Greek government bonds, bank stocks and a slew of other investments.
Through the weekend, Nicholas L. Papapolitis, a corporate lawyer here, was working round the clock comforting and cajoling his frantic hedge fund clients.
“People are freaking out,” said Mr. Papapolitis, 32, his eyes red and his voice hoarse. “They have made some really big bets on Greece.”
13. The Governor of Puerto Rico has announced that the debts that the small island has accumulated are “not payable“.
14. Overall, the government of Puerto Rico owes approximately 72 billion dollars to the rest of the world. Without debt restructuring, it is inevitable that Puerto Rico will default. In fact, CNN says that it could happen by the end of this summer.
15. Ukraine has just announced that it may “suspend debt payments” if their creditors do not agree to take a 40 percent “haircut”.
16. This week the Bank for International Settlements has just come out with a new report that says that central banks around the world are “defenseless” to stop the next major global financial crisis.
Without a doubt, we are overdue for another major financial crisis. All over the planet, stocks are massively overvalued, and financial markets have become completely disconnected from economic reality. And when the next crash happens, many believe that it will be even worse than what we experienced back in 2008. For example, just consider the words of Jim Rogers…
“In the United States, we have had economic slowdowns every four to seven years since the beginning of the Republic. It’s now been six or seven years since our last stock market problem. We’re overdue for another problem.”
In Rogers’ view, low interest rates caused stock prices to increase significantly. He believes many assets are priced beyond their fundamentals thanks to the ultra-easy monetary policies by the Federal Reserve. Fed supporters argue such measures are good for investors, but Rogers takes a different view.
“The Fed might tell us we don’t have to worry and that a correction or crash will never happen again. That’s balderdash! When this artificial sea of liquidity ends, we’re going to pay a terrible price. When the next economic problem occurs, it will be much worse because the debt is so much higher.”
Of course Rogers is far from alone. A recent article by Paul B. Farrell expressed similar sentiments…
America’s 95 million investors are at huge risk. Remember the $10 trillion losses in the crash and recession of 2007-2009? The $8 trillion lost after the dot-com technology crash and recession of 2000-2003? This is the third big recession of the century. Yes, America will lose trillions again.
Especially with dead-ahead predictions like Mark Cook’s 4,000-point Dow correction. And Jeremy Grantham’s warning of a 50% crash around election time, with negative stock returns through the first term of the next president, beyond 2020. Starting soon.
Why is America so vulnerable when the next recession hits? Simple: The Fed’s cheap-money giveaway is killing America. When the downturn, correction, crash hits, it will compare to the 2008 crash. The Economist warns: “the world will be in a rotten position to do much about it. Rarely have so many large economies been so ill-equipped to manage a recession,” whatever the trigger.
Things have been relatively quiet in the financial world for so long that many have been sucked into a false sense of security.
But the underlying imbalances were always there, and they have been getting worse over time.
I believe that we are heading into a global financial collapse that will make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic by the time it is all said and done.
Global debt levels are at all-time highs, big banks all over the planet have been behaving more recklessly than ever, and financial markets are absolutely primed for a huge crash.
Hopefully things will calm down a bit as the rest of this week unfolds, but I wouldn’t count on it.
We have entered uncharted territory, and what comes next is going to shock the world.
Do you remember what happened when Cyprus decided to defy the EU? In the end, the entire banking system of the nation collapsed and money was confiscated from private bank accounts. Well, the nation of Greece is now approaching a similar endgame. At this point, the Greek government has not received any money from the EU or the IMF since August 2014. As you can imagine, that means that Greek government accounts are just about bone dry. The new Greek government continues to insist that it will never “violate its anti-austerity mandate”, but the screws are tightening. Right now the unemployment rate in Greece is over 25 percent and the banking system is on the verge of collapse. It isn’t going to take much to set off a panic, and when it does happen there are already rumors that the EU plans to confiscate money from private bank accounts just like they did in Cyprus.
Throughout this entire multi-year crisis, things have never been this dire for the Greek government. In fact, Greece came thisclose to defaulting on a loan payment to the IMF back on May 12th. And with essentially no money remaining at all, the Greek government is supposed to make several large payments in the weeks ahead…
Athens barely made its latest payment (May 12) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and it managed to do so only when the government discovered that it could use a reserve account it wasn’t aware of, according to the Greek media.
Kathimerini, a Greek daily newspaper, reports that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wrote to the IMF’s Christine Lagarde warning that Greece would not be able to make that May payment, worth €762 million ($871 million, £554.2 million).
Pension and civil-servant pay packets are due at the end of the month, and based on this news Athens may struggle to pay them. Even if it does manage that, on June 5 the country owes another €305 million to the IMF.
In the two weeks following June 5 there are another three payments, bringing the June total to the IMF to over €1.5 billion.
The Germans and the other financial hawks in the EU are counting on these looming payment deadlines to force Greece into a deal.
Meanwhile, Greek banks also find themselves in very hot water. Many of them are almost totally out of collateral, and without outside intervention some of them could start collapsing within weeks. The following comes from Bloomberg…
Greek banks are running short on the collateral they need to stay alive, a crisis that could help force Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s hand after weeks of brinkmanship with creditors.
As deposits flee the financial system, lenders use collateral parked at the Greek central bank to tap more and more emergency liquidity every week. In a worst-case scenario, that lifeline will be maxed out within three weeks, pushing banks toward insolvency, some economists say.
“The point where collateral is exhausted is likely to be near,” JPMorgan Chase Bank analysts Malcolm Barr and David Mackie wrote in a note to clients May 15. “Pressures on central government cash flow, pressures on the banking system, and the political timetable are all converging on late May-early June.”
If no agreement is reached, by this time next month Greece could be plunging into a Cyprus-style crisis or worse.
And if that does happen, there are already rumblings that a “Cyprus-style solution” will be imposed. Just consider what James Turk recently told King World News…
The troika of the EU, ECB and IMF have not yet pulled the plug on the Greek banks, but the following quote in the Financial Times from this weekend should be a warning to anyone who still has money on deposit in that country: “The idea of a “Cyprus-like” presentation to Greek authorities has gained traction among some eurozone finance ministers, according to one official involved in the talks.”
The ECB is up to its eyeballs swimming in unpayable Greek debt that it holds. The ECB is not going to take a loss on this Greek paper on its books. Because Greece does not have the financial capacity to repay what is now about €112 billion of credit exposure to Greece on the ECB’s books, the ECB has only two alternatives.
It can push the €112 billion of Greek debt it holds to the national central banks of the Eurozone and on to the backs of the taxpayers in those countries, which it politically untenable. Or it can confiscate depositor money in Greek banks, like it did in Cyprus and as the FT has now reported.
Needless to say, such a move would be likely to set off financial panic all over Europe.
Could we actually see such a thing?
Well, let’s recall that back in April we already saw the Greek government forcibly grab “idle” cash from the bank accounts of regional governments and pension funds. The following is from a Bloomberg report about that event…
Running out of other options, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ordered local governments and central government entities to move their cash balances to the central bank for investment in short-term state debt.
The decree to confiscate reserves held in commercial banks and transfer them to the Bank of Greece could raise as much as 2 billion euros ($2.15 billion), according to two people familiar with the decision. The money is needed to pay salaries and pensions at the end of the month, the people said.
“It is a politically and institutionally unacceptable decision,” Giorgos Patoulis, mayor of the city of Marousi and president of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece, said in a statement on Monday.“No government to date has dared to touch the money of municipalities.”
Grabbing cash from the bank accounts of private citizens is just one step farther.
And what happened in Cyprus just a couple of years ago is still fresh in the minds of most Greeks. That is why so many of them have been pulling money out of the banks in recent weeks. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
Greeks remember very well what happened in Cyprus in 2013, when local banks were given a big thumbs-up from Europe to help themselves to their depositors’ accounts. Cyprus and Greece are very closely tied, and many Greeks consider the island a “sister-nation.”
What little trust remained in banks in Greece died that day. People have been nervously looking for signs something similar may happen again in their home country. And they resolved to act at the first sign of danger: banks cannot confiscate money you have under your mattress. Cash can be hidden away.
Let’s certainly hope that what happened in Cyprus does not happen in Greece.
But right now, both sides are counting on the other side to fold.
The Germans believe that at some point the economic and financial pain will become so immense that it will force the new Greek government to give in to their demands.
The Greeks believe that the threat of a full blown European financial crisis will cause the Germans to back down at the last moment.
So what if they are both wrong?
What if both sides are fully prepared to stand their ground and take us over the cliff and into disaster?
For a long time I have been warning that a great financial crisis is coming to Europe.
This could be the spark that sets it off.
If a major financial crisis was approaching, we would expect to see the “smart money” getting out of stocks and pouring into government bonds that are traditionally considered to be “safe” during a crisis. This is called a “flight to safety” or a “flight to quality“. In the past, when there has been a “flight to quality” we have seen yields for German government bonds and U.S. government bonds go way down. As you will see below, this is exactly what we witnessed during the financial crisis of 2008. U.S. and German bond yields plummeted as money from the stock market was dumped into bonds at a staggering pace. Well, it is starting to happen again. In recent months we have seen U.S. and German bond yields begin to plummet as the “smart money” moves out of the stock market. So is this another sign that we are on the precipice of a significant financial panic?
Back in 2008, German bonds actually began to plunge well before U.S. bonds did. Does that mean that European money is “smarter” than U.S. money? That would certainly be a very interesting theory to explore. As you can see from the chart below, the yield on 10 year German bonds started to fall significantly during the summer of 2008 – several months before the stock market crash in the fall…
So what are German bonds doing today?
As you can see from this next chart, the yield on 10 year German bonds has been steadily falling since the beginning of last year. At this point, the yield on 10 year German bonds is just barely above zero…
And amazingly, most German bonds that have a maturity of less than 10 years actually have a negative yield right now. That means that investors are going to get back less money than they invest. This is how bizarre the financial markets have become. The “smart money” is so concerned about the “safety” of their investments that they are actually willing to accept negative yields. I don’t know why anyone would ever put their money into investments that have a negative yield, but it is actually happening. The following comes from Yahoo…
The world’s scarcest resource right now is safe yield, and the shortage is getting more extreme. Most German government bonds that mature in less than 10 years now have negative yields – part of some $2 trillion worth of paper with yields below zero.
This is what happens when the European Central Bank begins a trillion-euro bond-buying binge with rates already miniscule.
Yesterday, ECB boss Mario Draghi – unfazed by the protest stunt at his press conference – reaffirmed his plan to keep bidding for paper that yields more than -0.2% – that’s minus 0.2%.
Yes, the ECB is driving a lot of this, but it is still truly bizarre.
So what about the United States?
Well, first let’s take a look at what happened back in 2008. In the chart below, you can see the “flight to safety” that took place in late 2008 as investors started to panic…
And we have started to witness a similar thing happen in recent months. The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has plummeted as investors have looked for safety. This is exactly the kind of chart that we would expect to see if a financial crisis was brewing…
What makes all of this far more compelling is the fact that so many other patterns that we have witnessed just prior to past financial crashes are happening once again.
Yes, there are other potential explanations for why bond yields have been going down. But when you add this to all of the other pieces of evidence that a new financial crisis is rapidly approaching, quite a compelling case emerges.
For those that do not follow my website regularly, I encourage you to check out the following articles to get an idea of what I am talking about…
-“Guess What Happened The Last Time The Price Of Oil Crashed Like This?…”
-“Not Just Oil: Guess What Happened The Last Time Commodity Prices Crashed Like This?…”
-“10 Key Events That Preceded The Last Financial Crisis That Are Happening Again RIGHT NOW”
-“Guess What Happened The Last Time The U.S. Dollar Skyrocketed In Value Like This?…”
-“7 Signs That A Stock Market Peak Is Happening Right Now”
-“Guess What Happened The Last Two Times The S&P 500 Was Up More Than 200% In Six Years?”
Of course no two financial crashes ever look exactly the same.
The crisis that we are moving toward is not going to be precisely like the crisis of 2008.
But there are similarities and patterns that we can look for. When things start to get bad, investors act in predictable ways. And so many of the things that we are watching right now are just what we would expect to see in the lead up to a major financial crisis.
Sadly, most people are not willing to learn from history. Even though it is glaringly apparent that we are in a historic financial bubble, most investors on Wall Street cannot see it because they do not want to see it. They want to believe that somehow “things are different this time” and that stocks will just continue to go up indefinitely so that they can keep making lots and lots of money.
And despite what you may think, I actually want this bubble to continue for as long as possible. Despite all of our problems, life is still relatively good in America today – at least compared to what is coming.
I like to refer to this next crisis as our “third strike”.
Back in 2000 and 2001, the dotcom bubble burst and we experienced a painful recession, but we didn’t learn any lessons. That was strike number one.
Then came the financial crash of 2008 and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. But we didn’t learn any lessons from that either. Instead, we just reinflated the same old financial bubbles and kept on making the exact same mistakes as before. That was strike number two.
This next financial crisis will be strike number three. After this next crisis, I don’t believe that there will ever be a return to “normal” for the United States. I believe that this is going to be the crisis that unleashes hell in our nation.
So no, I am not eager for that to come. Even though there is no way that this bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity can last indefinitely, I would like for it to last at least a little while longer.
Because what comes after it is going to be truly terrible.
Can you smell that? It is the smell of panic in the air. As I have noted before, when financial markets catch up to economic reality they tend to do so very rapidly. Normally we don’t see virtually all asset classes get slammed at the same time, but the bucket of cold water that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke threw on global financial markets on Wednesday has set off an epic temper tantrum. On Thursday, U.S. stocks, European stocks, Asian stocks, gold, silver and government bonds all over the planet all got absolutely shredded. This is not normal market activity. Unfortunately, there is nothing “normal” about our financial markets anymore. Over the past several years they have been grossly twisted and distorted by the Federal Reserve and by the other major central banks around the globe. Did the central bankers really believe that there wouldn’t be a great price to pay for messing with the markets? The behavior that we have been watching this week is the kind of behavior that one would expect at the beginning of a financial panic. Dick Bove, the vice president of equity research at Rafferty Capital Markets, told CNBC that what we are witnessing right now “is not normal. It is not normal for all markets to move in the same direction at the same point in time due to the same development.” The overriding emotion in the financial world right now is fear. And fear can cause investors to do some crazy things. So will global financial markets continue to drop, or will things stabilize for now? That is a very good question. But even if there is a respite for a while, it will only be temporary. More carnage is coming at some point.
What we have witnessed this week very much has the feeling of a turning point. The euphoria that drove the Dow well over the 15,000 mark is now gone, and investors all over the planet are going into crisis mode. The following is a summary of the damage that was done on Thursday…
-U.S. stocks had their worst day of the year by a good margin. The Dow fell 354 points, and that was the biggest one day drop that we have seen since November 2011. Overall, the Dow has lost more than 550 points over the past two days.
-Thursday was the eighth trading day in a row that we have seen a triple digit move in the Dow either up or down. That is the longest such streak since October 2011.
-The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries went as high as 2.47% before settling back to 2.42%. That was a level that we have not seen since August 2011, and the 10 year yield is now a full point above the all-time low of 1.4% that we saw back in July 2012.
– The yield on 30 year U.S. Treasuries hit 3.53 percent on Thursday. That was the first time it had been that high since September 2011.
-The CBOE Volatility Index jumped 28 percent on Thursday. It hit 20.49, and this was the first time in 2013 that it has risen above 20. When volatility rises, that means that the markets are getting stressed.
-European stocks got slammed too. The Bloomberg Europe 500 index fell more than 3 percent on Thursday. It was the worst day for European stocks in 20 months.
-In London, the FTSE fell about 3 percent. In Germany, the DAX fell 3.3 percent. In France, the CAC-40 fell 3.7 percent.
-Things continue to get even worse in Japan. The Nikkei has fallen close to 17 percent over the past month.
-Brazilian stocks have fallen by about 15 percent over the past month.
-On Thursday the price of gold got absolutely hammered. Gold was down nearly $100 an ounce. As I am writing this, it is trading at $1273.60.
-Silver got slammed even more than gold did. It fell more than 8 percent. At the moment it is trading at $19.57. That is ridiculously low. I have a feeling that anyone that gets into silver now is going to be extremely happy in the long-term if they are able to handle the wild fluctuations in the short-term.
-Manufacturing activity in China is contracting at a rate that we haven’t seen since the middle of the last recession.
-For the week ending June 15th, initial claims for unemployment benefits in the United States rose by about 18,000 from the previous week to 354,000. This is a number that investors are going to be watching closely in the months ahead.
Needless to say, Thursday was the type of day that investors don’t see too often. The following is what one stock trader told CNBC…
“It’s freaking, crazy now,” said one stock trader during the 3 p.m. ET hour as the Dow sunk more than 350 points. “Even defensive sectors are getting smoked. The super broad-based sell off between commodities, bonds, equities – I wouldn’t say it’s panic, but we’ve seen aggressive selling on the lows.”
Unfortunately, this may just be the beginning.
In fact, Mark J. Grant has suggested that we may see even more panic in the short-term…
Yesterday was the first day of the reversal. There will be more days to come.
What you are seeing, in the first instance, is leverage coming off the table. With short term interest rates right off of Kelvin’s absolute Zero there was been massive leverage utilized in both the bond and equity markets. While it cannot be quantified I can tell you, dealing with so many institutional investors, that the amount of leverage on the books is giant and is now going to get covered. It will not be pretty and it will be a rush through the exit doors as the fire alarm has been pulled by the Fed and the alarms are ringing. There is also an additional problem here.
The Street is not what it was. There is not enough liquidity in the major Wall Street banks, any longer, to deal with the amount of securities that will be thrown at them and I expect the down cycle to get exacerbated by this very real issue. Bernanke is no longer at the gate and the Barbarians are going to be out in force.
If we see global interest rates start to shift in a major way, that is going to be huge.
Well, it is because there are literally hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of interest rate derivatives contracts sitting out there…
The interest rate derivatives market is the largest derivatives market in the world. The Bank for International Settlements estimates that the notional amount outstanding in June 2009 were US$437 trillion for OTC interest rate contracts, and US$342 trillion for OTC interest rate swaps. According to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, 80% of the world’s top 500 companies as of April 2003 used interest rate derivatives to control their cashflows. This compares with 75% for foreign exchange options, 25% for commodity options and 10% for stock options.
If interest rates begin to swing wildly, that could burst the derivatives bubble that I keep talking about.
And when that house of cards starts falling, we are going to see panic that is going to absolutely dwarf anything that we have seen this week.
So keep watching interest rates, and keep listening for any mention of a problem with “derivatives” in the mainstream media.
When the next great financial crash comes, global credit markets are going to freeze up just like they did in 2008. That will cause economic activity to grind to a standstill and a period of deflation will be upon us. Yes, the way that the Federal Reserve and the federal government respond to such a crisis will ultimately cause tremendous inflation, but as I have written about before, deflation will come first.
It would be wise to build up your emergency fund while you still can. When the next great financial crisis fully erupts a lot of people are going to lose their jobs and for a while it will seem like hardly anyone has any extra money. If you have stashed some cash away, you will be in better shape than most people.
Is the coming financial collapse going to be inflationary or deflationary? Are we headed for rampant inflation or crippling deflation? This is a subject that is hotly debated by economists all over the country. Some insist that the wild money printing that the Federal Reserve is doing combined with out of control government spending will eventually result in hyperinflation. Others point to all of the deflationary factors in our economy and argue that we will experience tremendous deflation when the bubble economy that we are currently living in bursts. So what is the truth? Well, for the reasons listed below, I believe that we will see both. The next major financial panic will cause a substantial deflationary wave first, and after that we will see unprecedented inflation as the central bankers and our politicians respond to the financial crisis. This will happen so quickly that many will get “financial whiplash” as they try to figure out what to do with their money. We are moving toward a time of extreme financial instability, and different strategies will be called for at different times.
So why will we see deflation first? The following are some of the major deflationary forces that are affecting our economy right now…
The Velocity Of Money Is At A 50 Year Low
The rate at which money circulates in our economy is the lowest that it has been in more than 50 years. It has been steadily falling since the late 1990s, and this is a clear sign that economic activity is slowing down. The shaded areas in the chart represent recessions, and as you can see, the velocity of money always slows down during a recession. But even though the government is telling us that we are not in a recession right now, the velocity of money continues to drop like a rock. This is one of the factors that is putting a tremendous amount of deflationary pressure on our economy…
The Trade Deficit
Even single month, far more money leaves this country than comes into it. In fact, the amount going out exceeds the amount coming in by about half a trillion dollars each year. This is extremely deflationary. Our system is constantly bleeding cash, and this is one of the reasons why the federal government has felt a need to run such huge budget deficits and why the Federal Reserve has felt a need to print so much money. They are trying to pump money back into a system that is constantly bleeding massive amounts of cash. Since 1975, the amount of money leaving the United States has exceeded the amount of money coming into the country by more than 8 trillion dollars. The trade deficit is one of our biggest economic problems, and yet most Americans do not even understand what it is. As you can see below, our trade deficit really started getting bad in the late 1990s…
Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP
One of the primary drivers of inflation is consumer spending. But consumers cannot spend money if they do not have it. And right now, wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP are near a record low. This is a very deflationary state of affairs. The percentage of low paying jobs in the U.S. economy continues to increase, and we have witnessed an explosion in the ranks of the “working poor” in recent years. For consumer prices to rise significantly, more money is going to have to get into the hands of average American consumers first…
When The Debt Bubble Bursts
Right now, we are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world. When a debt bubble bursts, fear and panic typically cause the flow of money and the flow of credit to really tighten up. We saw that happen at the beginning of the Great Depression of the 1930s, we saw that happen back in 2008, and we will see it happen again. Deleveraging is deflationary by nature, and it can cause economic activity to grind to a standstill very rapidly.
During the next major wave of the economic collapse, there will be times when it will seem like hardly anyone has any money. The “easy credit” of the past will be long gone, and large numbers of individuals and small businesses will find it very difficult to get loans.
When the debt bubble bursts, cash will be king – at least for a short period of time. Those that do not have any savings at all will really be hurting.
And some of the financial elite seem to be positioning themselves for what is coming. For example, even though he has been making public statements about how great stocks are right now, the truth is that Warren Buffett is currently sitting on $49 billion in cash. That is the most that he has ever had sitting in cash.
Does he know something?
Of course there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve to do something once a financial crash happens. The response by the federal government and the Federal Reserve will likely be extremely inflationary as they try to resuscitate the system. It will probably be far more dramatic than anything we have seen so far.
So cash will not be king for long. In fact, eventually cash will be trash. The actions of the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve in response to the coming financial crisis will greatly upset much of the rest of the world and cause the death of the U.S. dollar.
That is why gold, silver and other hard assets are going to be so good to have in the long-term. In the short-term they will experience wild swings in price, but if you can handle the ride you will be smiling in the end.
In the coming years, we are going to experience both inflation and deflation, and neither one will be pleasant at all.
Get prepared while you still can, because time is running out.