How can a company that is going to generate $2,000,000,000 in negative free cash flow in 2017 be worth 70 billion dollars? Netflix has soared in popularity in recent years, but so have their financial losses. Just like during the original tech bubble, investors are ignoring basic fundamentals and are greatly rewarding firms that are bleeding giant mountains of cash year after year just because they are trendy “tech companies”. But somewhere along the line you actually have to quit losing money if you are going to survive. Just ask tech bubble 1.0 victims Pets.com, Webvan and Etoys.com. The investors that poured enormous amounts of money into those companies ended up losing everything, and similar tragedies will play out as tech bubble 2.0 bursts.
So far in 2017, the S&P 500 is up about 8 percent, but FANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) are up a whopping 30 percent.
But at least Facebook, Amazon and Google are making money.
Netflix is not.
So why in the world has the stock shot up by more than 30 percent so far this year? It just doesn’t make any sense at all. According to CNBC, during the first quarter Netflix had $423 million in negative free cash flow, and for the entire year it is being projected that it will have $2 billion in negative free cash flow…
The California-based company is now dumping cash into original content to maintain its dominance over its growing field of rivals. The company’s had $423 million negative free cash flow during the quarter, wider than the $261 million negative free cash flow a year ago. Netflix expects to have $2 billion in negative free cash flow this year.
The bleeding of cash at Netflix only seems to be accelerating. The number for the first quarter of 2017 was 62 percent worse than the number for the first quarter of 2016, and it was more than twice as bad as the number for the first quarter of 2015.
It is hard to imagine that Netflix will ever be more popular than it is right now.
So if Netflix is not making a profit at this point, when will it ever make a profit?
Similar things could be said about Twitter. This is a company that has never made a yearly profit and that is actually starting to see revenues decline. But somehow the stock just continues to go up. Since the last time I wrote about Twitter, the market cap has shot up another 1.5 billion dollars.
At this point, the market values Twitter at 13 billion dollars, but in the entire history of the company it has actually lost 2 billion dollars.
What we are witnessing is a modern day version of “tulip mania”, and at some point this irrational euphoria will come to a sudden end. In fact, there are already some signs that tech bubble 2.0 may be in a significant amount of trouble. The following is an excerpt from a Bloomberg article entitled “Investors Go All-In on Tech Giants”…
The tech-powered rally has catapulted the sector to a price-to-earnings ratio of 24.4, or 41 percent above the 10-year average. But as Google and Amazon stretch to nearly $1,000 a share, not everyone is comfortable with the valuations. Investors pulled more than $716 million from the most popular technology exchange-traded fund last week — the $17.4 billion Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund, or XLK — its largest weekly outflow in over a year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
“Most everybody remembers 2000, so they might be getting a little nervous with this development,” said Maley. “I just wonder how many people have said to themselves, ‘If AMZN gets to $1,000, I’m going to take at least some profits.’”
All over the financial world, prominent voices are warning that the enormous financial bubbles that we see all around us are not sustainable and that a major crisis is heading our way. I wrote about some of these voices yesterday, and today we can add Paul Singer to the list…
Given groupthink and the determination of policy makers to do ‘whatever it takes’ to prevent the next market ‘crash,’ we think that the low-volatility levitation magic act of stocks and bonds will exist until the disenchanting moment when it does not. And then all hell will break loose (don’t ask us what hell looks like…), a lamentable scenario that will nevertheless present opportunities that are likely to be both extraordinary and ephemeral. The only way to take advantage of those opportunities is to have ready access to capital.
When the financial markets collapse, Donald Trump will likely get most of the blame.
But Donald Trump did not create the stock market bubble, and he will not be responsible for ending it either.
Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, we have seen this same story play out over and over again. There have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions since the Fed was established, and the more the Fed interferes in the marketplace the larger the booms and busts tend to be.
And it could be argued that this time around the Fed has manipulated financial markets more than ever before. Interest rates were pushed as low as possible and trillions of dollars were pumped into the financial system during the Fed’s quantitative easing programs. Of course those actions were going to create a huge bubble, and of course that bubble is going to inevitably burst.
Unfortunately, this is not just a game. Real people with real hopes and real dreams are going to be absolutely devastated. Millions of Americans that were carefully saving for retirement are going to be financially crippled, and pension funds all over the nation are going to be wiped out.
I don’t know why we can’t seem to learn from history. And I am not talking about events that happened decades ago. The build up to this coming crisis is so similar to what we witnessed just before the crashes of 2000 and 2008, but we just keep getting fooled over and over again.
But once things fall apart this time, I think that the American people will finally be fed up. I think that they will be sick and tired of an unelected, unaccountable central bank that creates endless booms and busts, and I think that they will finally be ready to push Congress to shut the Federal Reserve down for good.
If everything is going to be “just fine”, why are so many big names in the financial community warning about an imminent meltdown? I don’t think that I have seen so many simultaneous warnings about a market crash since just before the great financial crisis of 2008. And at this point, you would have to be quite blind not to see that stocks are absurdly overvalued and that a correction is going to happen at some point. And when stocks do start crashing, lots of fingers are going to start pointing at President Trump, but it won’t be his fault. The Federal Reserve and other central banks are primarily responsible for creating this bubble, and they should definitely get the blame for what is about to happen to global financial markets.
My regular readers are quite familiar with my thoughts on where the market is headed, so today let me share some thoughts from five highly respected financial experts…
#1 When Altair Asset Management’s chief investment officer Philip Parker was asked if a market crash was coming to Australia, he said that he has “never been more certain of anything in my life”. In fact, he is so sure that the investments that his hedge fund is managing are going to crash that a decision was made to liquidate the fund “and return ‘hundreds of millions’ of dollars to its clients”…
While hardly a novel claim – in the past many have warned that Australia’s housing and stock market are massive asset bubbles (which local banks have been forced to deny as their fates are closely intertwined with asset prices even as the RBA is increasingly worried) – so far few if any have gone the distance of putting their money where their mouth was. That changed, when Australian asset manager Altair Asset Management made the extraordinary decision to liquidate its Australian shares funds and return “hundreds of millions” of dollars to its clients according to the Sydney Morning Herald, citing an impending property market “calamity” and the “overvalued and dangerous time in this cycle”.
“Giving up management and performance fees and handing back cash from investments managed by us is a seminal decision, however preserving client’s assets is what all fund managers should put before their own interests,” Philip Parker, who serves as Altair’s chairman and chief investment officer, said in a statement on Monday quoted by the SMH.
#2 Seth Klarman leads one of the biggest hedge funds in the United States, and he believes that U.S. investors are greatly underestimating the amount of risk in the market right now…
“When share prices are low, as they were in the fall of 2008 into early 2009, actual risk is usually quite muted while perception of risk is very high,” Klarman wrote. “By contrast, when securities prices are high, as they are today, the perception of risk is muted, but the risks to investors are quite elevated.”
Klarman oversees one of the US’s largest hedge fund firms, with some $30 billion under management. He has a huge following on Wall Street — investors named his book, “Margin of Safety,” their favorite investment book in a recent SumZero survey.
#3 Bill Blain is a strategist at Mint Partners, and he is actually specifically pointing to October 12th as the date when things will start to get “horribly interesting”…
But…. Catch a falling knife, why don’t you… I shall spend the summer wondering just how long the Stock Market games continue. When, not if.
At the moment, my prediction is October 12th. Around that day its going to get horribly interesting..
Why that particular day?
Gut feel and knowing how the Bowl of Petunias felt in Hitchhikers. (“Not again.”)
There are just too many contradictory currents out there. The unsustainability of burgeoning consumer debt, unfeasibly tight credit spreads, the sandcastle foundations of student loans, autos, housing and the CLO market, China, Trump, politics.. worries about what follows Brazil in the EM market, and whatever… The risks of a massive consumer sentiment dump..
#4 David Stockman has also been warning about what may happen this fall. According to Stockman, this current stock market bubble “is the greatest sucker’s rally we have ever seen”…
“The market is insanely valued right now. They were trying to tag, the robo machines and day traders, they were trying to tag 2,400 on the S&P 500. They ended up at 2,399, I think, but the point is that represents about 25 times trailing earnings for 2016. We are at a point in the so-called recovery that has already lasted 96 months. It’s almost the longest one in history. What the market is saying is we have reached the point of full employment forever. There will never be another recession or any kind of economic surprise or upset or dislocation. The market is pricing itself for perfection for all of eternity. This is crazy. . . . I think the market could easily drop to 1,600 or 1,300. It could drop by 40% or even more once the fantasy ends. When the government shows its true colors, that it’s headed for a fiscal bloodbath when this crazy notion that there is going to be some Trump fiscal stimulus is put to rest once and for all. I mean it’s not going to happen. They can’t pass a tax cut that big without a budget resolution that incorporated $10 trillion or $15 trillion in debt over the next decade. It’s just not going to pass Congress. . . . I think this is the greatest sucker’s rally we have ever seen.“
#5 Last but certainly not least, David Kranzler seems quite certain “that the stock market bubble is getting ready to pop”…
Anyone happen to notice that several market commentators have argued that is a bubble but the same stock “experts” look the other way as the U.S. stock market becomes more overvalued by the day vs. the deteriorating underlying fundamentals? Bitcoin going “parabolic” triggers alarm bells but it’s okay if the stock price of Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:) is hurtling toward parity with the price of one ounce of . Tesla (NASDAQ:) burns a billion per year in cash. It sold 76,000 cars last year vs. 10 million worldwide for General Motors (NYSE:). Yet Tesla’s market cap is $51.7 billion vs. $48.8 billion for GM.
This insanity is the surest sign that the stock market bubble is getting ready to pop. If you read between the lines of the the comments from certain Wall Street analysts, the only justification for current valuations is “Central Bank liquidity” and “Fed support of asset values.” This is the most dangerous stage of a market top because it draws in retail “mom & pop” investors who can’t stop themselves from missing out on the next “sure thing.” There will be millions of people who are permanently damaged financially when the Fed loses control of this market. Or, as legendary “vulture” investor Asher Edelman stated on CNBC, “I don’t want to be in the market because I don’t know when the plug is going to be pulled.”
Could all of these top experts be wrong?
It’s possible, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Every stock market bubble of this magnitude in U.S. history has ended in a spectacular crash, and this one will not be any different. We can certainly have some good arguments about the exact timing of the next crash, but what everyone should be able to agree on is that a crash is coming.
You only make money in the stock market if you get out at the right time. Many of those that timed things well have made a tremendous amount of money, but most investors will be entirely caught off guard by the market implosion that is rapidly approaching.
As I have explained to my readers repeatedly, markets tend to go down a whole lot faster than they go up, and in the not too distant future we are going to see trillions of dollars of investor wealth wiped out very, very quickly.
Let’s hope that the coming crisis will not be as bad as 2008, but I have a feeling that it is going to be much worse.
We didn’t learn our lessons the last time around, and so now we are going to pay a very high price for our stubbornness.
A stock market crash is coming, and the Democrats and the mainstream media are going to blame Donald Trump for it even though it won’t be his fault. The truth is that we were headed for a major financial crisis no matter who won the election. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up a staggering 230 percent since the lows of 2009, and no stock market rally in our history has ever reached the 10 year mark without at least a 20 percent downturn. At this point stocks are about as overvalued as they have ever been, and every other time we have seen a bubble of this magnitude a historic stock market crash has always followed. Those that are hoping that this time will somehow be different are simply being delusional.
Since November 7th, the Dow is up by about 3,000 points. That is an extremely impressive rally, and President Trump has been taking a great deal of credit for it.
But perhaps he should not have been so eager to take credit, because what goes up must come down. The following is an excerpt from a recent Vanity Fair article…
According to Douglas Ramsay, chief investment officer of the Leuthold Group, Trump administration officials will come to regret gloating about the market’s performance. That’s because Trump enters the White House during one of the most richly valued stock markets in U.S. history. The last president to come in at such valuations was George W. Bush, and the dot-com bubble burst soon afterward. Bill Clinton began his second term in a more overvalued stock market in 1997, and exited unscathed. But if his timing were different by just a year, he would have been blamed for the early-aughts market crash.
This stock market bubble was not primarily created by Barack Obama, Donald Trump or any other politician. Rather, the Federal Reserve was primarily responsible for creating it by pushing interest rates all the way to the floor during the Obama era and by flooding the financial system with hot money during several stages of quantitative easing.
But now the economy is slowing down. Economic growth on an annual basis was just 0.7 percent during the first quarter, and yet the Federal Reserve is talking about raising interest rates anyway.
The Federal Reserve also raised interest rates in a slowing economy in the late 1930s, and that had the effect of significantly extending the economic problems during that decade.
As I noted in my article entitled “The Federal Reserve Must Go”, there have been 18 recessions or depressions since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, and now we stand on the precipice of another one.
After this next crisis, hopefully Congress will finally understand that it is time to shut the Federal Reserve down for good, and I am going to do all that I can to make that happen.
Ron Paul is someone that I look up to greatly, and he also agrees that the blame for the coming crisis should be placed on the Federal Reserve instead of on Trump…
“There are some dire predictions that say in the next year, or 18 months, we have something arriving worse than 2008 and 2009, the downturn is much worse,” Paul said in a recent interview with liberty-minded anti-globalist radio host Alex Jones. “They’ll say, ah, it’s all Trump’s fault. No. It wasn’t. 08 and 09 wasn’t Obama’s fault. It was the fault of the Federal Reserve, it was the fault of the Keynesian economic model, the spending too much, the deficit. So, unfortunately, there’s nothing he can do — Trump can’t do it.”
Paul, a medical doctor who took a keen interest in economics throughout his celebrated career as a constitutionalist in Congress, said Trump could “help” the situation by pursuing good policies. “But you can’t avoid the correction, the correction is locked in place, because the deficits are there, the malinvestment, everybody agrees interest rates have been too low too long,” he said in the late January interview. “The only thing he can do is allow the recession to come, get it over with, liquidate the debt. Politically, nobody wants that, so you’re going to see runaway inflation before you see this country wake up.”
Over the past decade, the U.S. economy has grown at an average rate of just 1.33 percent, and there is no possible way to put a positive spin on that.
And now the economy appears to be entering a fresh slowdown. A couple of months ago, banking giant UBS warned about “a sudden slowdown in new credit”…
There’s been a sudden slowdown in new credit extended to businesses over the last year, one that strategists at UBS are calling “drastic” and “highly uncommon outside of economic downturns.”
And since that time, lending has tightened up even more. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
According to the latest Fed data , the all-important C&I loan growth contraction has not only continued, but over the past two months, another 50% has been chopped off, and what in early March was a 4.0% annual growth is now barely positive, down to just 2.0%, and set to turn negative in just a few weeks. This was the lowest growth rate since May 2011, right around the time the Fed was about to launch QE2.
At the same time, total loan growth has likewise continued to decline, and as of the second week of May was down to 3.8%, the weakest overall loan creation in three years.
This is exactly what we would expect to see if we were entering a new recession. Neil Howe, one of the authors of The Fourth Turning, recently warned that “winter is coming” and I have to admit that I agree with him.
So when the stock market finally crashes, how bad could it be?
Well, one analyst that spoke to CNBC said that other historic market crashes have averaged “about 42 percent”…
“If you look at the market historically, we have had, on average, a crash about every eight to 10 years, and essentially the average loss is about 42 percent,” said Kendrick Wakeman, CEO of financial technology and investment analytics firm FinMason.
And as I have explained many times in the past, stocks would have to fall about 40 to 50 percent from current levels just for the stock market to get back to “normal” again. The valuations that we are seeing today are absolutely insane, and there is no possible way that they are sustainable.
When the crash happens, many people will be pointing their fingers at Trump, but it won’t be his fault.
Instead, it will be the Federal Reserve that will be at fault, and hopefully this coming crisis will convince the American people that it is time to end this insidious debt-based central bank for good.
If you want to permanently fix America’s economy, there really is no other choice. Even before Ron Paul’s rallying cry of “End The Fed” shook America during the peak of the Tea Party movement, I was a huge advocate of shutting down the Federal Reserve. Because no matter how hard we try to patch it up otherwise, the truth is that our debt-based financial system has been fundamentally flawed from the very beginning, and the Federal Reserve is the very heart of that system. The following is a free preview of an upcoming book that I am working on about how to turn this country is a more positive direction…
As the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, there have been times when I have been criticized for focusing too much on our economic problems and not enough on the solutions. But I believe that in order to be willing to accept the solutions that are necessary, people need to have a full understanding of the true severity of our problems. It isn’t by accident that we ended up 20 trillion dollars in debt. In 1913, a bill was rushed through Congress right before Christmas that was based on a plan that had been secretly developed by very powerful Wall Street bankers. G. Edward Griffin did an amazing job of documenting the development of this plan in his groundbreaking book “The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve”. At that time, most Americans had no idea what a central bank does or what one would mean for the U.S. economy. Sadly, even though more than a century has passed since that time, most Americans still do not understand the Federal Reserve.
The Federal Reserve was designed to create debt, and of course the Wall Street bankers were very excited about such a system because it would make them even wealthier. Since the Fed was created in 1913, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger and the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by about 98 percent. So the Federal Reserve is doing what it was originally designed to do. In fact, it has probably worked better than the original designers ever dreamed possible.
There is often a lot of confusion about the Federal Reserve, because a lot of people think that it is simply an agency of the federal government. But of course that is not true at all. In fact, as Ron Paul likes to say, the Federal Reserve is about as “federal” as Federal Express is.
The Fed is an independent central bank that has even argued in court that it is not an agency of the federal government. Yes, the president appoints the leadership of the Fed, but the Fed and other central banks around the world have always fiercely guarded their “independence”. On the official Fed website, it is admitted that the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are organized “much like private corporations”, and they very much operate like private entities. They even issue shares of stock to the private banks that own them.
In case you were wondering, the federal government has zero shares.
The American people are constantly being told that Fed decisions must be “above politics” because they are “too important” to be politicized. So even though everything else in our society is up for political debate, somehow we have become convinced that the Federal Reserve should be off limits.
Today, the Federal Reserve has more power over the performance of the U.S. economy than anyone else does, and that includes the president. The Fed has become known as “the fourth branch of government”, and a single statement from the chairman of the Fed can send global financial markets soaring or tumbling.
So even though presidents tend to get most of the credit or most of the blame for how the U.S. economy is doing, the truth is that the Fed is actually the one pulling most of the strings. In conjunction with Congress, presidents can monkey around with regulations and tax rates, but at the end of the day their influence over the economy pales in comparison to what the Fed is able to do.
For those that have never encountered this material before, this can be difficult to grasp at first, so let’s start with something very simple.
Go to your wallet or purse and pull out a dollar bill.
At the very top, you will notice that it says “Federal Reserve Note” in big, bold letters.
If you ask 99 percent of the people in the United States where money comes from, they will not be able to tell you. Our money is actually created and issued by the Federal Reserve, but that is not what our founders intended. According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress was expressly given the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.
So why is the Federal Reserve doing it?
Many Americans are still operating under the assumption that the federal government has a “printing press” and that if we ever get into too much debt trouble the government could simply create and spend lots more money into circulation.
But that is not the way that our system currently operates.
Instead, it is the Federal Reserve that creates all new money. Once that new money is created, the federal government then borrows it and spends it into circulation.
Previously, I have written about how this works…
When the U.S. government decides that it wants to spend another billion dollars that it does not have, it does not print up a billion dollars.
Rather, the U.S. government creates a bunch of U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) and takes them over to the Federal Reserve.
The Federal Reserve creates a billion dollars out of thin air and exchanges them for the U.S. Treasury bonds.
This doesn’t seem to make any sense at all.
Why does the U.S. government have to borrow money that the Federal Reserve creates? Why can’t they just create the money themselves?
This is the big secret that nobody is supposed to know about.
Theoretically, the federal government doesn’t have to borrow a penny. Instead of borrowing money the Federal Reserve creates, it could just create money directly and spend it into circulation.
But then we wouldn’t be 20 trillion dollars in debt.
Once the Federal Reserve has received U.S. Treasury bonds in exchange for the “Federal Reserve Notes” that the federal government has requested, the Fed auctions off those bonds to the highest bidder. But as I have noted so many times before, this process always creates more debt than it does money…
The U.S. Treasury bonds that the Federal Reserve receives in exchange for the money it has created out of nothing are auctioned off through the Federal Reserve system.
There is a problem.
Because the U.S. government must pay interest on the Treasury bonds, the amount of debt that has been created by this transaction is greater than the amount of money that has been created.
So where will the U.S. government get the money to pay that debt?
Well, the theory is that we can get money to circulate through the economy really, really fast and tax it at a high enough rate that the government will be able to collect enough taxes to pay the debt.
But that never actually happens, does it?
And the creators of the Federal Reserve understood this as well. They understood that the U.S. government would not have enough money to both run the government and service the national debt. They knew that the U.S. government would have to keep borrowing even more money in an attempt to keep up with the game.
Beginning in 1913, this process has created an endless debt spiral that has resulted in the U.S. being 20 trillion dollars in debt. It is the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and it didn’t have to happen.
In fact, if we had been using debt-free money all this time we could theoretically be completely out of debt.
A lot of conservatives out there are still under the illusion that if we could just grow the economy fast enough that we could possibly pay back all of this debt someday, but as I have demonstrated in a previous article, this is mathematically impossible. (http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/it-is-mathematically-impossible-to-pay-off-all-of-our-debt)
All of this debt threatens to destroy the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have. It is absolutely immoral to pass such a large debt on to future generations, but we are doing it anyway.
Of course the United States is far from alone in this regard. Today, more than 99.9% of the population of the world lives in a country that has a central bank.
There is literally nothing else that the entire planet agrees upon almost unanimously, and yet somehow virtually the whole globe has chosen to adopt debt-based central banking.
Do you think that this is just a coincidence?
A handful of extremely small nations such as the Federated States of Micronesia still do not have a central bank, but the only large country not to have one is North Korea.
I don’t understand why more people are not talking about this. If we really want to reform how things are done economically, it should start with central banking.
The truth is that we do not need a central bank.
Let me say that again.
We do not need a central bank.
The greatest period of economic growth in all of U.S. history was when there was no income tax and no central bank. (http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/during-the-best-period-of-economic-growth-in-u-s-history-there-was-no-income-tax-and-no-federal-reserve)
Such a system would be unimaginable to many people today, but it is entirely possible.
Instead of a central bank creating debt-based currency for us, the federal government could create debt-free money directly.
And instead of socialist central planners setting our interest rates for us, we could allow the free market to set our interest rates.
We are supposed to be a free market nation with a free market economy, and so we don’t need Fed bureaucrats to run it for us.
The free market will always do a better job in the long run then bureaucrats will. As I noted earlier, the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was right before the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, but since that time there have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions: 1918, 1920, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008.
Now we stand poised on the brink of another major downturn, and people still aren’t getting it.
As long as the Federal Reserve exists, there will be “booms” and “busts” like this.
It is time for a change.
During the good times, criticism of the Fed tends to subside. And without a doubt, the bubble following the end of the last recession lasted much longer than a lot of people initially would have thought, but all Fed-created bubbles eventually end.
We desperately need to get free from this system, and a huge step in that direction would be a rejection of debt-based currency.
If you don’t think that this can happen, you should consider what happened in 1963. President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 11110 which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue debt-free “United States Notes” which were directly created by the federal government.
Unfortunately, he was assassinated shortly after that executive order was signed.
You can still find debt-free “United States Notes” in circulation today, and they are often for sale on auction sites such as eBay because people like to collect them.
At any time, the White House could do something similar today.
All it takes is the willingness to do so.
The borrower is the servant of the lender, and the debt-based Federal Reserve system has turned all of us into debt slaves.
If we do not want future generations of Americans to be enslaved to debt, we need to shut down the Federal Reserve and start using debt-free currency. Any essential functions that the Fed is currently performing can ultimately be taken over by the U.S. Treasury, and of course we can make the transition gradual so that we don’t completely panic global financial markets.
The global elite are using central banking and debt-based currencies to dominate the planet. Today, the total amount of debt in the world has shot past 150 trillion dollars, and it will only continue to grow until humanity wakes up and realizes the insanity of using a debt-based financial system.
Here in the United States, we need people in government that understand these things and that are willing to do something about it.
The Federal Reserve must go, and I will never make any apologies for saying that.
Should central banks create money out of thin air and give it directly to governments and average citizens? If you can believe it, this is now under serious consideration. Since 2008, global central banks have cut interest rates 637 times, they have injected 12.3 trillion dollars into the global financial system through various quantitative easing programs, and we have seen an explosion of government debt unlike anything we have ever witnessed before. But despite these unprecedented measures, the global economy is still deeply struggling. This is particularly true in Japan, in South America, and in Europe. In fact, there are 16 countries in Europe that are experiencing deflation right now. In a desperate attempt to spur economic activity, central banks in Europe and in Japan are playing around with negative interest rates, and so far they seem to only have had a limited effect.
So as they rapidly run out of ammunition, global central bankers are now openly discussing something that might sound kind of crazy. According to the Telegraph, central banks are becoming increasingly open to employing a tactic known as “helicopter money”…
Faced with political intransigence, central bankers are openly talking about the previously unthinkable: “helicopter money”.
A catch-all term, helicopter drops describe the process by which central banks can create money to transfer to the public or private sector to stimulate economic activity and spending.
Long considered one of the last policymaking taboos, debate around the merits of helicopter money has gained traction in recent weeks.
Do you understand what is being said there?
The idea is basically this – central banks would create money out of thin air and would just give it to national governments or ordinary citizens.
So who would decide who gets the money?
Well, they would.
If you are anything like me, this sounds very much like Pandora’s Box being opened.
But this just shows how much of a panic there is among central bankers right now. They know that we are plunging into a new global economic crisis, and they are desperate to find something that will stop it. And if that means printing giant gobs of money and dropping it from helicopters over the countryside, well then that is precisely what they are going to do.
In fact, the chief economist at the European Central Bank is quite adamant about the fact that the ECB can print money out of thin air and “distribute it to people” when the situation calls for it…
ECB chief Mario Draghi has refused to rule out the prospect, saying only that the bank had not yet “discussed” such matters due to their legal and accounting complexity. This week, his chief economist Peter Praet went further in hinting that helicopter drops were part of the ECB’s toolbox.
“All central banks can do it“, said Praet. “You can issue currency and you distribute it to people. The question is, if and when is it opportune to make recourse to that sort of instrument“.
Apparently memories of the Weimar Republic must have faded over in Europe, because this sounds very much like what they tried to do. I don’t know why anyone would ever want to risk going down that road again.
Here in the United States, the Federal Reserve is not openly talking about “helicopter money” just yet, but that is only because the stock market is doing okay for the moment.
Most Americans don’t realize this, but the primary reason why stocks are doing better in the U.S. than in the rest of the world is because of stock buybacks. According to Wolf Richter, corporations spent more than half a trillion dollars buying back their own stocks over the past 12 months…
During the November-January period, 378 of the S&P 500 companies bought back their own shares, according to FactSet. Total buybacks in the quarter rose 5.2% from a year ago, to $136.6 billion. Over the trailing 12 months (TTM), buybacks totaled $568.9 billion.
When corporations buy back their own stocks, that means that they are slowly liquidating themselves. Instead of pouring money into new good ideas, they are just returning money to investors. This is not how a healthy economy should work.
But corporate executives love stock buybacks, because it increases the value of their stock options. And big investors love them too, because they love to see the value of their stock holdings rise.
So we will continue to see big corporations cannibalize themselves, but there are a couple of reasons why this is starting to slow down.
Number one, corporate profits are starting to fall steadily as the economy slows down, so there will be less income to plow into these stock buybacks.
Number two, many corporations have used debt to fund buybacks, but now it is getting tougher for corporations to get new funding as corporate defaults rise.
As stock buybacks slow, this is going to put downward pressure on the market, and we will eventually catch up with the rest of the planet. At this point, many experts are still calling for stocks to fall by another 40, 50 or 60 percent from current levels. For example, the following comes from John Hussman…
From a long-term investment standpoint, the stock market remains obscenely overvalued, with the most historically-reliable measures we identify presently consistent with zero 10-12 year S&P 500 nominal total returns, and negative expected real returns on both horizons.
From a cyclical standpoint, I continue to expect that the completion of the current market cycle will likely take the S&P 500 down by about 40-55% from present levels; an outcome that would not be an outlier or worst-case scenario, but instead a rather run-of-the-mill cycle completion from present valuations. If you are a historically-informed investor who is optimistic enough to reject the idea that the financial markets are forever doomed to extreme valuations and dismal long-term returns, you should be rooting for this cycle to be completed. If you are a passive investor, you should at least align your current exposure with your investment horizon and your tolerance for cyclical risk, which we expect to be similar to what we anticipated in 2000-2002 and 2007-2009.
When the S&P 500 does fall that much eventually, the Federal Reserve will respond with emergency measures.
So yes, we may see “helicopter money” employed in Japan and in Europe first, but we will see it here someday too.
I know that a lot of people out there are feeling pretty good about things for the moment because U.S. stocks have rebounded quite a bit lately. But remember, the fundamental economic numbers just continue to get even worse. Just today we learned that existing home sales in the United States had fallen by the most in six years. That is definitely not a sign that things are “getting better”, and I keep trying to warn people that tumultuous times are dead ahead.
And if global central bankers did not agree with me, they would not be talking about the need for “helicopter money” and other emergency measures.
Warren Buffett once referred to derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction“, and it was inevitable that they would begin to wreak havoc on our financial system at some point. While things may seem somewhat calm on Wall Street at the moment, the truth is that a great deal of trouble is bubbling just under the surface. As you will see below, something happened in mid-September that required an unprecedented 405 billion dollar surge of Treasury collateral into the repo market. I know – that sounds very complicated, so I will try to break it down more simply for you. It appears that some very large institutions have started to get into a significant amount of trouble because of all the reckless betting that they have been doing. This is something that I have warned would happen over and over again. In fact, I have written about it so much that my regular readers are probably sick of hearing about it. But this is what is going to cause the meltdown of our financial system.
Many out there get upset when I compare derivatives trading to gambling, and perhaps it would be more accurate to describe most derivatives as a form of insurance. The big financial institutions assure us that they have passed off most of the risk on these contracts to others and so there is no reason to worry according to them.
Well, personally I don’t buy their explanations, and a lot of others don’t either. On a very basic, primitive level, derivatives trading is gambling. This is a point that Jeff Nielson made very eloquently in a piece that he recently published…
No one “understands” derivatives. How many times have readers heard that thought expressed (please round-off to the nearest thousand)? Why does no one understand derivatives? For many; the answer to that question is that they have simply been thinking too hard. For others; the answer is that they don’t “think” at all.
Derivatives are bets. This is not a metaphor, or analogy, or generalization. Derivatives are bets. Period. That’s all they ever were. That’s all they ever can be.
One very large financial institution that appears to be in serious trouble with these financial weapons of mass destruction is Glencore. At one time Glencore was considered to be the 10th largest company on the entire planet, but now it appears to be coming apart at the seams, and a great deal of their trouble seems to be tied to derivatives. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
Of particular concern, they said, was Glencore’s use of financial instruments such as derivatives to hedge its trading of physical goods against price swings. The company had $9.8 billion in gross derivatives in June 2015, down from $19 billion in such positions at the end of 2014, causing investors to query the company about the swing.
Glencore told investors the number went down so drastically because of changes in market volatility this year, according to people briefed by Glencore. When prices vary significantly, it can increase the value of hedging positions.
Last year, there were extreme price moves, particularly in the crude-oil market, which slid from about $114 a barrel in June to less than $60 a barrel by the end of December.
That response wasn’t satisfying, said Michael Leithead, a bond fund portfolio manager at EFG Asset Management, which managed $12 billion as of the end of March and has invested in Glencore’s debt.
According to Bank of America, the global financial system has about 100 billion dollars of exposure overall to Glencore. So if Glencore goes bankrupt that is going to be a major event. At this point, Glencore is probably the most likely candidate to be “the next Lehman Brothers”.
And it isn’t just Glencore that is in trouble. Other financial giants such as Trafigura are in deep distress as well. Collectively, the global financial system has approximately half a trillion dollars of exposure to these firms…
Worse, since it is not just Glencore that the banks are exposed to but very likely the rest of the commodity trading space, their gross exposure blows up to a simply stunning number:
For the banks, of course, Glencore may not be their only exposure in the commodity trading space. We consider that other vehicles such as Trafigura, Vitol and Gunvor may feature on bank balance sheets as well ($100 bn x 4?)
Call it half a trillion dollars in very highly levered exposure to commodities: an asset class that has been crushed in the past year.
The mainstream media is not talking much about any of this yet, and that is probably a good thing. But behind the scenes, unprecedented moves are already taking place.
When I came across the information that I am about to share with you, I was absolutely stunned. It comes from Investment Research Dynamics, and it shows very clearly that everything is not “okay” in the financial world…
Something occurred in the banking system in September that required a massive reverse repo operation in order to force the largest ever Treasury collateral injection into the repo market. Ordinarily the Fed might engage in routine reverse repos as a means of managing the Fed funds rate. However, as you can see from the graph below, there have been sudden spikes up in the amount of reverse repos that tend to correspond the some kind of crisis – the obvious one being the de facto collapse of the financial system in 2008:
What in the world could possibly cause a spike of that magnitude?
Well, that same article that I just quoted links the troubles at Glencore with this unprecedented intervention…
What’s even more interesting is that the spike-up in reverse repos occurred at the same time – September 16 – that the stock market embarked on an 8-day cliff dive, with the S&P 500 falling 6% in that time period. You’ll note that this is around the same time that a crash in Glencore stock and bonds began. It has been suggested by analysts that a default on Glencore credit derivatives either by Glencore or by financial entities using derivatives to bet against that event would be analogous to the “Lehman moment” that triggered the 2008 collapse.
The blame on the general stock market plunge was cast on the Fed’s inability to raise interest rates. However that seems to be nothing more than a clever cover story for something much more catastrophic which began to develop out sight in the general liquidity functions of the global banking system.
Back in 2008, Lehman Brothers was not “perfectly fine” one day and then suddenly collapsed the next. There were problems brewing under the surface well in advance.
Well, the same thing is happening now at banking giants such as Deutsche Bank, and at commodity trading firms such as Glencore, Trafigura and The Noble Group.
And of course a lot of smaller fish are starting to implode as well. I found this example posted on Business Insider earlier today…
On September 11, Spruce Alpha, a small hedge fund which is part of a bigger investment group, sent a short report to investors.
The letter said that the $80 million fund had lost 48% in a month, according the performance report seen by Business Insider.
There was no commentary included in the note. No explanation. Just cold hard numbers.
Wow – how do you possibly lose 48 percent in a single month?
It would be hard to do that even if you were actually trying to lose money on purpose.
Sadly, this kind of scenario is going to be repeated over and over as we get even deeper into this crisis.
Meanwhile, our “leaders” continue to tell us that there is nothing to worry about. For example, just consider what former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is saying…
Former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke doesn’t see any bubbles forming in global markets right right now.
But he doesn’t think you should take his word for it.
And even if you did, that isn’t the right question to ask anyway.
Speaking at a Wall Street Journal event on Wednesday morning, Bernanke said, “I don’t see any obvious major mispricings. Nothing that looks like the housing bubble before the crisis, for example. But you shouldn’t trust me.”
I certainly agree with that last sentence. Bernanke was the one telling us that there was not going to be a recession back in 2008 even after one had already started. He was clueless back then and he is clueless today.
Most of our “leaders” either don’t understand what is happening or they are not willing to tell us.
So that means that we have to try to figure things out for ourselves the best that we can. And right now there are signs all around us that another 2008-style crisis has begun.
Personally, I am hoping that there will be a lot more days like today when the markets were relatively quiet and not much major news happened around the world.
Unfortunately for all of us, these days of relative peace and tranquility are about to come to a very abrupt end.
Every great con game eventually comes to an end. For years, global central banks have been manipulating the financial marketplace with their monetary voodoo. Somehow, they have convinced investors around the world to invest tens of trillions of dollars into bonds that provide a return that is way under the real rate of inflation. For quite a long time I have been insisting that this is highly irrational. Why would any rational investor want to put money into investments that will make them poorer on a purchasing power basis in the long run? And when any central bank initiates a policy of “quantitative easing”, any rational investor should immediately start demanding a higher rate of return on the bonds of that nation. Creating money out of thin air and pumping into the financial system devalues all existing money and creates inflation. Therefore, rational investors should respond by driving interest rates up. Instead, central banks told everyone that interest rates would be forced down, and that is precisely what happened. But now things have shifted. Investors are starting to behave more rationally and the central banks are starting to lose control of the financial markets, and that is a very bad sign for the rest of 2015.
And of course it isn’t just bond yields that are out of control. No matter how hard they try, financial authorities in Europe can’t seem to fix the problems in Greece, and the problems in Italy, Spain, Portugal and France just continue to escalate as well. This week, Greece became the very first nation to miss a payment to the IMF since the 1980s. We’ll discuss that some more in a moment.
Over in Asia, stocks are fluctuating very wildly. The Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 5.4 percent on Thursday before regaining all of those losses and actually closing with a gain of 0.8 percent. When we see this kind of extreme volatility, it is a very bad sign. It is during times of extreme volatility that markets crash.
Remember, stocks generally tend to go up during calm markets, and they generally tend to go down during choppy markets. So most investors do not want to see lots of volatility. Unfortunately, that is precisely what we are witnessing all over the world right now. The following comes from the Wall Street Journal…
“Volatility over the last days has been breathtaking, especially in bond markets,” said Wouter Sturkenboom, senior investment strategist at Russell Investments. He said that it rippled through equity and currency markets, which overreacted.
The yield on the benchmark German 10-year bond touched 0.99%, its highest level since September, before erasing the day’s rise and falling back to 0.84%. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield, which hit a fresh 2015 high of 2.42% earlier Thursday, recently fell back to 2.33%. Yields rise as prices fall.
Sometimes when bond yields go up, it is because investors are taking money out of bonds and putting it into stocks because they are feeling really good about where the stock market is heading. This is not one of those times. As Peter Tchir has noted, the huge moves in the bond market that we are now seeing are the result of “sheer panic in the market”…
In a morning note before the open, Brean Capital’s Peter Tchir wrote: “It is time to reduce US equity holdings for the near term and look for a 3% to 5% move lower. The Treasury weakness is NOT a ‘risk on’ trade it is a ‘risk off’ trade, where low yields are viewed as a risk asset and not a safe haven.” And Tom di Galoma, head of fixed-income rates and credit at ED&F Man Capital Markets, told Bloomberg, “This is sheer panic in the market from the standpoint of what’s been happening in Europe … Most of Wall Street is guarded here as far as taking on new positions.”
But this wasn’t supposed to happen.
After watching the Federal Reserve be able to successfully use quantitative easing to drive down interest rates, the European Central Bank decided to try the same thing. Unfortunately for them, investors are starting to behave more rationally. The central banks are starting to lose control of the financial markets, and bond yields are soaring. I think that Peter Boockvar summarized where we are currently at very well when he stated the following…
I’ve said this before but I’m sorry, I need to say it again. What we are witnessing in global markets is the inherent contradiction writ large that is modern day monetary policy where dangerously ZIRP, NIRP and QE are considered conventional policies. The contradiction is simply this: the desire for higher inflation if fulfilled will result in higher interest rates that central banks are trying so hard and desperately to suppress.
Outside of the short end of the curve, markets will always win for better or worse and that is clearly evident now. The ECB is getting their first taste of the market talking back and in quite the violent way. In the US, the bond market is watching the Fed drag its feet (its never-ending) with wanting to raise interest rates and finally said enough is enough. The US Treasury market is tightening for them. Since mid April, the 5 yr note yield is higher by 40 bps, the 10 yr is up by 55 bps and the 30 yr yield is up by 65 bps.
And if global investors continue to move in a rational direction, this is just the beginning. Bond yields all over the planet should be much, much higher than they are right now. What that means is that bond prices potentially have a tremendous amount of room to go down.
One thing that could accelerate the global bond crash is the crisis in Greece. Negotiations between the Greeks and their creditors have been dragging on for four months, and no agreement has been reached. Now, Greece has missed the loan payment that was due to the IMF on June 5th, and it is asking the IMF to bundle all of the payments that are due this month into one giant payment at the end of June…
Greece has asked to bundle its four debt payments to the International Monetary Fund that fall due in June so that it can pay them in one batch at the end of the month, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Thursday.
The request is expected to be approved by the IMF, the newspaper said. That would mean Greece does not have to pay the first tranche of 300 million euros that falls due on Friday.
Greece faces a total bill of 1.5 billion euros owed to the IMF over four installments this month.
Of course that payment will not be made either if a deal does not happen by then. And with each passing day, a deal seems less and less likely. At this point, the package of “economic reforms” that the creditors are demanding from Greece is completely unacceptable to Syriza. The following comes from an article in the Guardian…
Fresh from talks in Brussels, Tsipras faced outrage on Thursday from highly skeptical members of his own Syriza party. A five-page ultimatum from creditors, presented by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, was variously described as shocking, provocative, disgraceful and dishonourable.
“It will never pass,” said Greece’s deputy social security minister, Dimitris Stratoulis. “If they don’t back down, the country won’t be lost … there are alternatives that would cost less than our signing a disgraceful and dishonourable agreement.”
Ultimately, I don’t believe that we are going to see an agreement.
Well, I tend to agree with this bit of analysis from Andrew Lilico…
The Eurozone does not want to make any compromise with the current Greek government because (a) they don’t believe they need to because Greek threats to leave the euro are empty both because internal polling suggests Greeks don’t want to leave and because if they did leave that doesn’t really constitute any threat to the euro; (b) because they (particularly perhaps Angela Merkel) believe that under enough pressure the Greek government might collapse and be replaced by a more cooperative government, as has happened repeatedly before in the Eurozone crisis including in Italy and Greece itself; and (c) because any deal with Greece that is seen to involve or be presentable as any victory for the Greek government would threaten the political positions of governments in several Eurozone states including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Finland and perhaps even the Netherlands and Germany.
Furthermore, it’s not clear to me that the Eurozone creditors at this stage would have much interest in any deal based upon promises, regardless of how much the Greek had verbally surrendered. Things have gone too far now for mere words to work. They would need to see the Greeks deliver actions — tangible economic reforms and tangible, credible primary surplus targets and a sustainable change in the long-term political mood within Greece that meant other Eurozone states might eventually get their money back. That is almost certainly not doable at all with the current Greek government. The only deal possible would be with some replacement Greek government that had come in precisely on the basis that it did want to do a deal and did want to pay the creditors back.
On the Syriza side, I see no more appetite for a deal. They believe that austerity has been ruinous for the lives of Greeks and that decades more austerity would mean decades more Greek economic misery. From their point of view, default or even exit from the euro, even if economically painful in the short term, would be better than continuing with austerity now.
You can read the rest of his excellent article right here.
Without a deal, the value of the euro is going to absolutely plummet and bond yields over in Europe will go through the roof. I am fully convinced that this is the beginning of the end for the eurozone as it is currently constituted, and that we stand on the verge of a great European financial crisis.
And of course the financial crisis that is coming won’t just be in Europe. The global financial system is more interconnected than ever, and there are tens of trillions of dollars in derivatives that are tied to foreign exchange rates and 505 trillion dollars in derivatives that are tied to interest rates. When this giant house of cards collapses, the central banks won’t be able to stop it.
In the end, could we eventually see the entire central banking system itself totally collapse?
That is what Phoenix Capital Research believes is about to happen…
Last year (2014) will likely go down in history as the “beginning of the end” for the current global Central Banking system.
What will follow will be a gradual unfolding of the next crisis and very likely the collapse of the Central Banking system as we know it.
However, this process will not be fast by any means.
Central Banks and the political elite will fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo, even if this means breaking the law (freezing bank accounts or funds to stop withdrawals) or closing down the markets (the Dow was closed for four and a half months during World War 1).
There will be Crashes and sharp drops in asset prices (20%-30%) here and there. However, history has shown us that when a financial system goes down, the overall process takes take several years, if not longer.
We stand at the precipice of the greatest economic transition that any of us have ever seen.
Even though things may seem very “normal” to most people right now, the truth is that the global financial system is fundamentally flawed, and cracks in the system are starting to appear all over the place.
When this system does collapse, it will take most people entirely by surprise.
But it shouldn’t.
All con games eventually fall apart in the end, and we are about to learn that lesson the hard way.
Mark this day on your calendars. The Dow is at 16974, the S&P 500 is at 1982 and the NASDAQ is at 4549. From this day forward, we will be looking to see how the stock market performs without the monetary heroin that the Federal Reserve has been providing to it. Since November 2008, the Fed has created about 3.5 trillion dollars and pumped it into the financial system. An excellent chart illustrating this in graphic format can be found right here. Pretty much everyone agrees that this has been a tremendous boon for the financial markets. As you will see below, even former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan says that quantitative easing was “a terrific success” as far as boosting stock prices. But he also says that QE has not been very helpful to the real economy at all. In essence, the entire quantitative easing program was a massive 3.5 trillion dollar gift to Wall Street. If that sounds unfair to you, that is because it is unfair.
So why is the Federal Reserve finally ending quantitative easing?
Well, officially the Fed says that it is because there has been so much improvement in the labor market…
The Fed’s language, however, did suggest that they were getting more comfortable with the economy’s improvement. It cited “solid job gains,” citing a “substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market,” as well as pointing out that “underutilization” of labor resources is “gradually diminishing.”
But that is not true at all.
The percentage of Americans that are working right now is about the same as it was during the depths of the last recession. Just check out this chart…
So there has been no “employment recovery” to speak of at all.
And as I wrote about yesterday, the percentage of Americans that are homeowners has been steadily falling throughout the quantitative easing era…
So let’s put the lie that quantitative easing helped the “real economy” to rest. It did no such thing.
Instead, what QE did do was massively inflate stock prices.
The following is an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal report about a speech that former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan made to the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday…
Mr. Greenspan’s comments to the Council on Foreign Relations came as Fed officials were meeting in Washington, D.C., and expected to announce within hours an end to the bond purchases.
He said the bond-buying program was ultimately a mixed bag. He said that the purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities did help lift asset prices and lower borrowing costs. But it didn’t do much for the real economy.
“Effective demand is dead in the water” and the effort to boost it via bond buying “has not worked,” said Mr. Greenspan. Boosting asset prices, however, has been “a terrific success.”
Moving forward, what did Greenspan tell the members of the Council on Foreign Relations that they should do with their money?
This might surprise you…
Mr. Greenspan said gold is a good place to put money these days given its value as a currency outside of the policies conducted by governments.
It almost sounds like Greenspan has been reading the Economic Collapse Blog.
Since November 2008, every time there has been an interruption in the Fed’s quantitative easing program, the stock market has gone down substantially.
Will that happen again this time?
Well, the market is certainly primed for it. We are repeating so many of the very same patterns that we saw just prior to the last two financial crashes.
For example, there have been three dramatic peaks in margin debt in the last twenty years.
One of those peaks came early in the year 2000 just before the dotcom bubble burst.
The second of those peaks came in the middle of 2007 just before the subprime mortgage meltdown happened.
And the third of those peaks happened earlier this year.
You can view a chart that shows these peaks very clearly right here.
The Federal Reserve appears to be confident that the stock market will be okay without the monetary heroin that it has been supplying.
We shall see.
But it should be deeply troubling to all Americans that this unelected, unaccountable body of central bankers has far more power over our economy than anyone else does. During election season, our politicians get up and give speeches about what they will “do for the economy”, but the truth is that they are essentially powerless compared to the immense power that the Federal Reserve wields. Just a few choice words from Janet Yellen can cause the financial markets to rise or fall dramatically. The same cannot be said of any U.S. Senator.
We are told that monetary policy is “too important” to be exposed to politics.
We are told that the independence of the Federal Reserve is “sacred” and must never be interfered with.
I say that is a bunch of nonsense.
No organization should have the power to print up trillions of dollars out of thin air and give it to their friends.
The Federal Reserve is completely and totally out of control, and Congress needs to start exerting power over it.
The first step is to get in there and do a comprehensive audit of the Fed’s books. This is something that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz called for in a recent editorial for USA Today…
Americans are seeing near-zero interest rates on their savings accounts while median incomes are falling, and millions of people are facing higher gas prices, food prices, electricity prices, health insurance prices. Enough is enough, the Federal Reserve needs to open its books — Americans deserve a sound and stable dollar.
Whether you agree with Ted Cruz on other issues or not, this is one issue that all Americans should be able to agree on.
If you study any of our major economic problems, usually you will find that the Federal Reserve is at the heart of that problem.
So if we ever hope to solve the issues that are plaguing our economy, the Fed is going to need to be dealt with.
Hopefully the American people will start to send more representatives to Washington D.C. that understand this.
Wall Street banks are getting hit by cyber attacks every single minute of every single day. It is a massive onslaught that is not highly publicized because the bankers do not want to alarm the public. But as you will see below, one big Wall Street bank is spending 250 million dollars a year just by themselves to combat this growing problem. The truth is that our financial system is not nearly as stable as most Americans think that it is. We have become more dependent on technology than ever before, and that comes with a potentially huge downside. An electromagnetic pulse weapon or an incredibly massive cyberattack could conceivably take down part or all of our banking system at any time.
This week, the mainstream news is reporting on an attack on our major banks that was so massive that the FBI and the Secret Service have decided to get involved. The following is how Forbes described what is going on…
The FBI and the Secret Service are investigating a huge wave of cyber attacks on Wall Street banks, reportedly including JP Morgan Chase, that took place in recent weeks.
The attacks may have involved the theft of multiple gigabytes of sensitive data, according to reports. Joshua Campbell, supervisory special agent at the FBI, tells Forbes: “We are working with the United States Secret Service to determine the scope of recently reported cyber attacks against several American financial institutions.”
When most people think of “cyber attacks”, they think of a handful of hackers working out of lonely apartments or the basements of their parents. But that is not primarily what we are dealing with anymore. Today, big banks are dealing with cyberattackers that are extremely organized and that are incredibly sophisticated.
The threat grows with each passing day, and that is why JPMorgan Chase says that “not every battle will be won” even though it is spending 250 million dollars a year in a relentless fight against cyberattacks…
JPMorgan Chase this year will spend $250 million and dedicate 1,000 people to protecting itself from cybercrime — and it still might not be completely successful, CEO Jamie Dimon warned in April.
“Cyberattacks are growing every day in strength and velocity across the globe. It is going to be continual and likely never-ending battle to stay ahead of it — and, unfortunately, not every battle will be won,” Dimon said in his annual letter to shareholders.
Other big Wall Street banks have a similar perspective. Just consider the following two quotes from a recent USA Today article…
Bank of America: “Although to date we have not experienced any material losses relating to cyber attacks or other information security breaches, there can be no assurance that we will not suffer such losses in the future.”
Citigroup: “Citi has been subject to intentional cyber incidents from external sources, including (i) denial of service attacks, which attempted to interrupt service to clients and customers; (ii) data breaches, which aimed to obtain unauthorized access to customer account data; and (iii) malicious software attacks on client systems, which attempted to allow unauthorized entrance to Citi’s systems under the guise of a client and the extraction of client data. For example, in 2013 Citi and other U.S. financial institutions experienced distributed denial of service attacks which were intended to disrupt consumer online banking services. …
“… because the methods used to cause cyber attacks change frequently or, in some cases, are not recognized until launched, Citi may be unable to implement effective preventive measures or proactively address these methods.”
I don’t know about you, but those quotes do not exactly fill me with confidence.
Another potential threat that banking executives lose sleep over is the threat of electromagnetic pulse weapons. The technology of these weapons has advanced so much that they can fit inside a briefcase now. Just consider the following excerpt from an article that was posted on an engineering website entitled “Electromagnetic Warfare Is Here“…
The problem is growing because the technology available to attackers has improved even as the technology being attacked has become more vulnerable. Our infrastructure increasingly depends on closely integrated, high-speed electronic systems operating at low internal voltages. That means they can be laid low by short, sharp pulses high in voltage but low in energy—output that can now be generated by a machine the size of a suitcase, batteries included.
Electromagnetic (EM) attacks are not only possible—they are happening. One may be under way as you read this. Even so, you would probably never hear of it: These stories are typically hushed up, for the sake of security or the victims’ reputation.
That same article described how an attack might possibly happen…
An attack might be staged as follows. A larger electromagnetic weapon could be hidden in a small van with side panels made of fiberglass, which is transparent to EM radiation. If the van is parked about 5 to 10 meters away from the target, the EM fields propagating to the wall of the building can be very high. If, as is usually the case, the walls are mere masonry, without metal shielding, the fields will attenuate only slightly. You can tell just how well shielded a building is by a simple test: If your cellphone works well when you’re inside, then you are probably wide open to attack.
And with electromagnetic pulse weapons, terrorists or cyberattackers can try again and again until they finally get it right…
And, unlike other means of attack, EM weapons can be used without much risk. A terrorist gang can be caught at the gates, and a hacker may raise alarms while attempting to slip through the firewalls, but an EM attacker can try and try again, and no one will notice until computer systems begin to fail (and even then the victims may still not know why).
Never before have our financial institutions faced potential threats on this scale.
According to the Telegraph, our banks are under assault from cyberattacks “every minute of every day”, and these attacks are continually growing in size and scope…
Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.
Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent “hacktivism”, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.
In the end, it is probably only a matter of time until we experience a technological 9/11.
When that day arrives, will your money be safe?