The President of France has come up with a very creative way of solving the European debt crisis. On Sunday, a piece authored by French President Francois Hollande suggested that the ultimate solution to the problems currently plaguing Europe would be for every member of the eurozone to transfer all of their sovereignty to a newly created federal government. In other words, it would essentially be a “United States of Europe”. This federal government would have a prime minister, a parliament, a federal budget and a federal treasury. Presumably, the current national governments in Europe would continue to function much like state governments in the U.S. do. In the end, there may be some benefits to such a union – particularly for the weaker members of the eurozone. But at what cost would those benefits come?
When I first learned that French President Francois Hollande had proposed that the members of the eurozone should create their own version of a federal government, I was quite stunned. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. For the global elite, the answer to just about any problem is more centralization. The following comes from a Bloomberg article that was posted on Sunday…
French President Francois Hollande said that the 19 countries using the euro need their own government complete with a budget and parliament to cooperate better and overcome the Greek crisis.
“Circumstances are leading us to accelerate,” Hollande said in an opinion piece published by the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. “What threatens us is not too much Europe, but a lack of it.”
So precisely what would “more Europe” look like?
Hollande envisions a central government that has both a parliament and a federal budget…
“I have proposed taking up Jacques Delors’ idea about euro government, with the addition of a specific budget and a parliament to ensure democratic control,” Hollande said.
His remarks touched on what analysts have seen as a major flaw in the euro.
Under the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, countries which share a common currency must obey rules on borrowing and deficit spending.
But the Greek crisis saw one of the 19 eurozone members notch up successive worsening deficits and amass a mountain of debt. The problems were only addressed by bailouts from the European institutions and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Critics say the problem stems from a lack of centralised control over national fiscal policies, which today are jealously guarded areas of sovereignty.
In addition, this eurozone government would have its own prime minister. In essence, he would be the European version of the president of the United States. The following comes from the Independent…
There would be a eurozone government with its own prime minister, the officials said. This government would have its own budget – separate from the EU budget – to aid and invest in more fragile countries, It would try to harmonise corporation and pay-roll taxes to ensure fair competition in the eurozone.
Of course Hollande is not the only one calling for more centralization. Last month, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem proposed a plan that would create a shared European treasury…
Draghi called for the creation of a shared treasury within 10 years in a joint proposal with politicians including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem last month.
I don’t anticipate that we will see any of these things implemented immediately.
However, what is important is the fact that this is where the European elite plan to take Europe. And when the next great European financial crisis erupts, these proposals will be offered as the “solutions” necessary to end the crisis.
During times of emergency, the elite are often able to push things through that they would never be able to accomplish under normal circumstances. At the moment, it would be extremely difficult to get everyone to agree to a full-blown “United States of Europe”. But if things were to start spinning wildly out of control and people were suddenly desperately clamoring for solutions, the environment would be quite different.
What that time arrives, the key will be to get Germany and France to agree on what a “United States of Europe” should look like. If Germany and France can agree, it is inevitable that most of the other members of the eurozone would ultimately fall in line.
One potential hurdle for the creation of this new government would be the euro. The current treaty agreements concerning the euro are quite complicated and quite restrictive. If Germany and France decided that they did want to create a “United States of Europe”, they might have to create an entirely new currency in order to accomplish that.
I know that sounds kind of crazy right now, but at one time the concept of “the euro” sounded really crazy too.
For the moment, the debt crisis in Europe just continues to get even worse. Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Belgium and France are all drowning in debt. Whether or not we see a “Grexit” in the short-term, I fully expect that European bond yields will continue to rise and European stocks will take quite a tumble in the months ahead.
I believe that we are right on the verge of a very significant European financial crisis. In particular, keep on eye on the big banks. Just like in the United States, the “too big to fail” banks in Europe are massively overleveraged and are tremendously exposed to derivatives.
In fact, the bank with the most exposure to derivatives on the entire planet is Deutsche Bank. It has been reported that Deutsche Bank has a whopping 75 trillion dollars worth of exposure to derivatives, their co-CEOs were recently forced to resign, and there are all sorts of rumblings about troubles going on behind the scenes at the bank.
What do you think would happen if the biggest and most important bank in Germany suddenly became the next Lehman Brothers?
That is something to think about.
Meanwhile, the euro continues to fall. For a long time, I have been repeating my prediction that the euro would fall to parity with the U.S. dollar.
One year ago, the EUR/USD was sitting at 1.35.
Today, it has come all the way down to 1.08.
There will be more ups and downs, but we are almost there.
A time of great chaos is coming to Europe, and the eurozone will be deeply shaken.
But whether or not there is a break up of the eurozone in the short-term, in the long-term the goal of the European elite is even more integration and even more centralization.
So even though there will be significant bumps in the road, I fully expect to see the “United States of Europe” that French President Francois Hollande has proposed.
Do you agree?
What do you think the future holds for Europe?
Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…
Are they expecting something to happen? As you will read about below, the European Union says that any nation within the EU that does not enact “bail-in” legislation within the next two months will face legal action. The countries that are being threatened in this manner include Italy and France. If you fast forward two months from this moment, that puts us in early August. So clearly the European Union wants everything to be squared away by the end of the summer. Is there a reason for this? Are they anticipating that something really bad will happen in September or thereafter? Why such a rush?
We all remember what happened when major banks were “bailed out” during the last financial crisis. A tremendous amount of taxpayer money was given to the big banks to help prop them up so they wouldn’t fail. This greatly upset a lot of people.
Well, when the next great financial crisis hits Europe, banks are not going to get “bailed out” this time. Instead, we are going to see “bail-ins”.
So precisely what is a “bail-in”? Essentially, what happens is that wealth is transferred from the “stakeholders” in the bank to the bank itself in order to keep it solvent. That means that creditors and shareholders could potentially lose everything if a major bank in Europe fails. And if their “contributions” are not enough to save the bank, those holding private bank accounts will have to take “haircuts” just like we saw in Cyprus. In fact, the travesty that we witnessed in Cyprus is being used as a “template” for much of the new legislation that is being enacted all over Europe.
The bottom line is that not a single bank account in the European Union will ever be truly safe again.
By this time, everyone in the EU was already supposed to have enacted “bail-in” legislation, but some countries in Europe have been dragging their feet. So now the European Commission (the executive body of the European Union) is giving them a hard deadline. According to Reuters, any nation that has not passed “bail-in” legislation within two months will be subject to legal action…
The European Commission on Thursday gave France, Italy and nine other EU countries two months to adopt new EU rules on propping up failed banks or face legal action.
The rules, known as the bank recovery and resolution directive (BRRD), seek to shield taxpayers from having to bail out troubled lenders, forcing creditors and shareholders to contribute to the rescue in a process known as “bail-in”.
So which countries are being threatened?
It turns out that there are 11 of them. The following comes from Mark O’Byrne…
The article “EU regulators tell 11 countries to adopt bank bail-in rules” reported how 11 countries are under pressure from the EC and had yet “to fall in line”. The countries were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France and Italy.
France and Italy are two countries who are regarded as having particularly fragile banking systems.
But why only two months to get this done?
When I was in law school, I took an entire course on European Union law. Normally, things in Europe take a very long time to get done. It is out of character for the European Commission to rush to get something like this done so quickly.
Could they be anticipating that this legislation will need to be put into use very soon?
What we do know is that bonds in Europe have already been crashing, and it appears that the European Central Bank is starting to lose control over European financial markets.
And we also know that there has been a sustained bank run in Greece. In fact, it is being reported that 700 million euros were pulled out of Greek banks on Friday alone. Personally, I think that anyone that still has any money in Greek banks is absolutely insane. Some day in the not too distant future, Greek bank account holders are going to be in for a “haircut” just like we saw in Cyprus. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
While the Greek government believes it may have won the battle, if not the war with Europe, the reality is that every additional day in which Athens does not have a funding backstop, be it the ECB (or the BRIC bank), is a day which brings the local banking system to total collapse.
As a reminder, Greek banks already depends on the ECB for some €80.7 billion in Emergency Liquidity Assistance which was about 60% of total deposits in the Greek financial system as of April 30. In other words, they are woefully insolvent and only the day to day generosity of the ECB prevents a roughly 40% forced “bail in” deposit haircut a la Cyprus.
But of course Greece will only be just the beginning. In the end, I expect major banks to fail all over Europe as we head into the greatest financial crisis that Europe has ever seen. Bank account holders all over the continent could end up having to take “haircuts”, and that would just make the coming deflationary cycle in Europe a lot worse.
And I actually expect events in Europe to start accelerating greatly by the end of this calendar year. Apparently the top dogs in the European Union are also concerned about the immediate future, because they are rushing to get “bail-in” legislation passed in every nation in the EU by the end of the summer.
Fortunately, the United States has not moved in a similar direction – at least not yet. It is always possible that during an “emergency situation” anything can happen. We saw that in Cyprus. But for the moment, European bank accounts appear to be more vulnerable than U.S. bank accounts.
Not that any of us should have much confidence in the major banks in the United States either. Since the end of the last financial crisis they have become more reckless than ever. At this point, the six largest banks in this country collectively have 278 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives. A day is coming when the “too big to fail” banks will actually start failing, and that will absolutely cripple our economy.
We are moving into a time of great financial instability. During such a time, one of the keys will be to not have all of your eggs in one basket. That way it will be more difficult for your wealth to be wiped out by a single event.
So what other advice would you give to people that are wondering how to deal with the coming global banking crisis? Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…
The move to a cashless society won’t happen overnight. Instead, it is being implemented very slowly and systematically in a series of incremental steps. All over the planet, governments are starting to place restrictions on the use of cash for security reasons. As citizens, we are being told that this is being done to thwart criminals, terrorists, drug runners, money launderers and tax evaders. Other forms of payment are much easier for governments to track, and so they very much prefer them. But we are rapidly getting to the point where the use of cash is considered to be a “suspicious activity” all by itself. These days, if you pay a hotel bill with cash or if you pay for several hundred dollars worth of goods at a store with cash you are probably going to get looked at funny. You see, the truth is that we have already been trained to regard the use of large amounts of cash to be unusual. The next step will be to formally ban large cash transactions like France and other countries in Europe are already doing.
Starting in September, cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros will be banned in France. The following comes from a recent Zero Hedge article which detailed what these new restrictions will do…
Prohibiting French residents from making cash payments of more than 1,000 euros, down from the current limit of 3,000 euros.
Given the parlous state of the stagnating French economy the limit for foreign tourists on currency payments will remain higher, at 10,000 euros down from the current limit of 15,000 euros.
The threshold below which a French resident is free to convert euros into other currencies without having to show an identity card will be slashed from the current level of 8,000 euros to 1,000 euros.
In addition any cash deposit or withdrawal of more than 10,000 euros during a single month will be reported to the French anti-fraud and money laundering agency Tracfin.
French authorities will also have to be notified of any freight transfers within the EU exceeding 10,000 euros, including checks, pre-paid cards, or gold.
Of course Spain has already banned cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros and Italy has already banned cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.
We don’t have these kinds of outright bans in the United States just yet, but what we do have are some very strict reporting requirements.
For example, if you regularly deposit large amounts of cash, there is a very good chance that you have been the subject of a “suspicious activity report”. In 2013, approximately 1.6 million suspicious activity reports were submitted to the federal government.
The following guidelines for when a suspicious activity report should be filed come from a government website…
Banks, bank holding companies, and their subsidiaries are required by federal regulations53 to file a SAR with respect to:
- Criminal violations involving insider abuse in any amount.
- Criminal violations aggregating $5,000 or more when a suspect can be identified.
- Criminal violations aggregating $25,000 or more regardless of a potential suspect.
- Transactions conducted or attempted by, at, or through the bank (or an affiliate) and aggregating $5,000 or more, if the bank or affiliate knows, suspects, or has reason to suspect that the transaction:
- May involve potential money laundering or other illegal activity (e.g., terrorism financing).54
- Is designed to evade the BSA or its implementing regulations.55
- Has no business or apparent lawful purpose or is not the type of transaction that the particular customer would normally be expected to engage in, and the bank knows of no reasonable explanation for the transaction after examining the available facts, including the background and possible purpose of the transaction.
Most people don’t realize this, but there are minimum quotas for suspicious activity reports that banks must meet. If they do not submit enough suspicious activity reports, they can be fined (or worse).
And now the Obama administration is saying that just filling out suspicious activity reports may not be good enough.
According to the Wall Street Journal, banks are actually being encouraged to directly contact law enforcement if they see something that does not look right…
The U.S. Justice Department’s criminal head said banks may need to go beyond filing suspicious activity reports when they encounter a risky customer.
“The vast majority of financial institutions file suspicious activity reports when they suspect that an account is connected to nefarious activity,” said assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell in a Monday speech, according to prepared remarks. “But, in appropriate cases, we encourage those institutions to consider whether to take more action: specifically, to alert law enforcement authorities about the problem.”
The remarks indicate that banks may be expected to do more than just file SARs, a responsibility that itself can be expensive and time-consuming.
That should send a chill up your spine.
In a recent piece, Simon Black imagined a future scenario in which some unsuspecting American citizen goes to the bank to withdraw a large amount of cash…
Imagine going to the bank to withdraw some cash.
Having some cash on hand is always a prudent strategy, and especially today when more and more bank deposits are creeping into negative territory, meaning that you have to pay the banks for the privilege that they gamble with your money.
You tell the teller that you’d like to withdraw $5,000 from your account. She hesitates nervously and wants to know why.
You try to politely let her know that that’s none of the bank’s business as it’s your money.
The teller disappears for a few minutes, leaving you waiting.
When she returns she tells you that you can collect your money in a few days as they don’t have it on hand at the moment.
Slightly irritated because of the inconvenience, you head home.
But as you pull into your driveway later there’s an unexpected surprise waiting for you: two police officers would like to have a word with you about your intended withdrawal earlier…
Perhaps you don’t think that anything like that could ever happen to you.
Well, consider what the feds are doing to one widow in Iowa…
A widow’s bank account was seized by the IRS and she now faces criminal charges for depositing her legal inheritance money in lumps instead of all together.
Janet Malone, 68, had $18,775 seized from her — money that was legally earned and was legally bestowed to her by her late husband, Ronald Malone. The problem, according to the government, was the fact that she deposited it in several lumps instead of all at once.
According to the Associated Press, Mrs. Malone deposited the cash in increments between $5,800 and $9,000. The widow’s private financial affairs evidently set off red flags under the watchful gaze of the federal government.
Remember, she was not guilty of committing any crime other than depositing cash in lumps instead of all at once.
If this is how ruthless the feds will be with an elderly widow, how would they treat you under similar circumstances?
So why are they doing this?
The truth is that they want to discourage the public from using cash. Our government, just like governments all over the planet, is not being shy about the fact that it does not like cash. If they can make people afraid to use cash, that suits their purposes very well.
And with each passing year the restrictions on the use of cash globally will just get tighter and tighter and the role that cash plays in our lives will just become smaller and smaller.
In the end, a transition to an almost entirely cashless society will seem almost natural. Cash is being killed off one slow step at a time, and at this point hardly anyone is objecting.
Do you know what an “extremist” is? In the wake of the horrible terror attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in France, Barack Obama is speaking very boldly about the need to win the war against “extremists”, and he has announced plans to host a major global summit on “extremism” next month. And on the surface that sounds great. But precisely how are we supposed to determine whether someone is an “extremist” or not? What criteria should we use? As you will see below, your definition of an “extremist” may be far, far different from the definition that Barack Obama is using. When you do a Google search, you will find that an “extremist” is defined as “a person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action.” According to Wikipedia, “extremism” is “an ideology (particularly in politics or religion), considered to be far outside the mainstream attitudes of a society or to violate common moral standards. Extremism can take many forms, including political, religious and economic.” Please notice that neither of those definitions uses the word violence. In this day and age, you can be considered an “extremist” simply based on what you believe, and as you will see later in this article there are now tens of millions of Americans that are considered to be “extremists” and “potential terrorists” according to official U.S. government documents.
When you use the word “extremist”, you may have in your mind a picture of ISIS fighters or the terrorists from the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
But for elitists such as Barack Obama, the word “extremist” has a much broader meaning. In recent years, it has become a code word for those that do not have an “enlightened” view of the world. If your views on politics, religion or social issues are extremely different from the liberal, progressive views of “the mainstream” (as defined by the mainstream media and by “mainstream” politicians such as Barack Obama), then they consider you to be an extremist.
Early in the presidency of George W. Bush, we were told that Islamic terrorists were the enemy. And so most of the country got behind the idea of the War on Terrorism. But over the years that has morphed into a War on Extremism. In fact, the Obama administration has gone so far as to remove almost all references to Islam from government terror training materials…
Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole confirmed on Wednesday that the Obama administration was pulling back all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security communities, in order to eliminate all references to Islam that some Muslim groups have claimed are offensive.
“I recently directed all components of the Department of Justice to re-evaluate their training efforts in a range of areas, from community outreach to national security,” Cole told a panel at the George Washington University law school.
Now, much of the focus in law enforcement training materials is on “domestic extremists”. We are being told that “domestic extremism” is just as great a threat to our national security as terror groups overseas are.
But exactly who are these “domestic extremists”?
Well, the truth is that you may be one of them.
I want to share with you a list that I have shared in a couple of previous articles. It is a list of 72 types of Americans that are considered to be “extremists” or “potential terrorists” in official U.S. government documents. This list will really give you a good idea of what Barack Obama means when he uses the word “extremist”. Each of these 72 items is linked, so if you would like to go see the original source document for yourself, just click on the link. As you can see, this list potentially includes most of the country…
1. Those that talk about “individual liberties”
2. Those that advocate for states’ rights
3. Those that want “to make the world a better place”
4. “The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule”
5. Those that are interested in “defeating the Communists”
6. Those that believe “that the interests of one’s own nation are separate from the interests of other nations or the common interest of all nations”
7. Anyone that holds a “political ideology that considers the state to be unnecessary, harmful,or undesirable”
8. Anyone that possesses an “intolerance toward other religions”
9. Those that “take action to fight against the exploitation of the environment and/or animals”
13. “The Patriot Movement”
14. “Opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians”
15. Members of the Family Research Council
16. Members of the American Family Association
17. Those that believe that Mexico, Canada and the United States “are secretly planning to merge into a European Union-like entity that will be known as the ‘North American Union’”
18. Members of the American Border Patrol/American Patrol
19. Members of the Federation for American Immigration Reform
20. Members of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition
21. Members of the Christian Action Network
22. Anyone that is “opposed to the New World Order”
23. Anyone that is engaged in “conspiracy theorizing”
24. Anyone that is opposed to Agenda 21
25. Anyone that is concerned about FEMA camps
26. Anyone that “fears impending gun control or weapons confiscations”
27. The militia movement
28. The sovereign citizen movement
29. Those that “don’t think they should have to pay taxes”
30. Anyone that “complains about bias”
31. Anyone that “believes in government conspiracies to the point of paranoia”
32. Anyone that “is frustrated with mainstream ideologies”
33. Anyone that “visits extremist websites/blogs”
34. Anyone that “establishes website/blog to display extremist views”
35. Anyone that “attends rallies for extremist causes”
36. Anyone that “exhibits extreme religious intolerance”
37. Anyone that “is personally connected with a grievance”
38. Anyone that “suddenly acquires weapons”
39. Anyone that “organizes protests inspired by extremist ideology”
40. “Militia or unorganized militia”
41. “General right-wing extremist”
42. Citizens that have “bumper stickers” that are patriotic or anti-U.N.
43. Those that refer to an “Army of God”
44. Those that are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”
45. Those that are “anti-global”
46. Those that are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”
47. Those that are “reverent of individual liberty”
48. Those that “believe in conspiracy theories”
49. Those that have “a belief that one’s personal and/or national ‘way of life’ is under attack”
50. Those that possess “a belief in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in paramilitary preparations and training or survivalism”
51. Those that would “impose strict religious tenets or laws on society (fundamentalists)”
52. Those that would “insert religion into the political sphere”
53. Anyone that would “seek to politicize religion”
54. Those that have “supported political movements for autonomy”
55. Anyone that is “anti-abortion”
56. Anyone that is “anti-Catholic”
57. Anyone that is “anti-nuclear”
58. “Rightwing extremists”
59. “Returning veterans”
60. Those concerned about “illegal immigration”
61. Those that “believe in the right to bear arms”
62. Anyone that is engaged in “ammunition stockpiling”
63. Anyone that exhibits “fear of Communist regimes”
64. “Anti-abortion activists”
65. Those that are against illegal immigration
66. Those that talk about “the New World Order” in a “derogatory” manner
67. Those that have a negative view of the United Nations
68. Those that are opposed “to the collection of federal income taxes”
69. Those that supported former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr
70. Those that display the Gadsden Flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”)
71. Those that believe in “end times” prophecies
72. Evangelical Christians
Do you fit into any of those categories?
Personally, I fit into a couple dozen of them.
That is why alarm bells should go off whenever Barack Obama speaks of the need to crack down on “extremism”.
If Barack Obama wants to denounce Islamic terror, he should do so. But because of his extreme political correctness, he goes out of his way to avoid any connection between Islam and terror. Instead, he speaks of the need to recognize “Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings” and he insists that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
Meanwhile, our liberties and freedoms are being eroded a little bit more with each passing day. In the name of fighting “terrorism” or “extremism”, our government is constructing a Big Brother police state control grid all around us. I like the way that Ron Paul described what is happening to us just the other day…
If Americans were honest with themselves they would acknowledge that the Republic is no more. We now live in a police state. If we do not recognize and resist this development, freedom and prosperity for all Americans will continue to deteriorate. All liberties in America today are under siege.
It didn’t happen overnight. It took many years of neglect for our liberties to be given away so casually for a promise of security from the politicians. The tragic part is that the more security was promised — physical and economic — the less liberty was protected.
With cradle-to-grave welfare protecting all citizens from any mistakes and a perpetual global war on terrorism, which a majority of Americans were convinced was absolutely necessary for our survival, our security and prosperity has been sacrificed.
It was all based on lies and ignorance. Many came to believe that their best interests were served by giving up a little freedom now and then to gain a better life.
The trap was set. At the beginning of a cycle that systematically undermines liberty with delusions of easy prosperity, the change may actually seem to be beneficial to a few. But to me that’s like excusing embezzlement as a road to leisure and wealth — eventually payment and punishment always come due. One cannot escape the fact that a society’s wealth cannot be sustained or increased without work and productive effort. Yes, some criminal elements can benefit for a while, but reality always sets in.
Reality is now setting in for America and for that matter for most of the world. The piper will get his due even if “the children” have to suffer. The deception of promising “success” has lasted for quite a while. It was accomplished by ever-increasing taxes, deficits, borrowing, and printing press money. In the meantime the policing powers of the federal government were systematically and significantly expanded. No one cared much, as there seemed to be enough “gravy” for the rich, the poor, the politicians, and the bureaucrats.
The country that our forefathers founded is dying.
Now, individuals and organizations that attempt to restore the values that our founders once believed in so strongly are regarded as dangerous “extremists” that need to be watched carefully.
Sadly, most Americans don’t even realize what is happening to this nation. As long as they are fed a constant diet of mindless entertainment, most Americans are perfectly content to let “the experts” do their thinking for them.
We are steamrolling toward oblivion, and most of the country is dead asleep.
So is there any hope for us? Feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
As the Obama administration continues to alienate almost everyone else around the entire planet, an increasing number of prominent international voices are starting to question why the U.S. dollar should be so overwhelmingly dominant in global trade. In previous articles, I have discussed Russia’s “de-dollarization strategy” and the fact that Gazprom is now asking their large customers to start paying in currencies other than the dollar. But this is not just a story about Russia any longer. As you will read about below, China and South Korea have just signed a major agreement to facilitate trade with one another using their own national currencies, and even prominent French officials are now talking about the need to use the dollar less and the euro more. John Williams of shadowstats.com recently said that things have never “been more negative” for the U.S. dollar, and he was right on the mark. The power of the almighty dollar has allowed all of us living in the United States to enjoy an extremely high standard of living for decades, but as that power now fades it is going to have profound implications for the U.S. economy. In future years the value of the dollar will go down substantially, all of the imported goods filling our stores will become much more expensive, and it is going to cost the federal government a lot more to borrow money. Unfortunately, with the stock market hitting all-time record highs and with the mainstream media endlessly touting an “economic recovery”, most Americans are not paying any attention to these things.
French oil giant Total is one of the largest energy companies in the entire world. On Saturday, Total’s CEO made an absolutely stunning statement. According to Reuters, he told reporters that there “is no reason to pay for oil in dollars”…
“Doing without the (U.S.) dollar, that wouldn’t be realistic, but it would be good if the euro was used more,” he told reporters.
“There is no reason to pay for oil in dollars,” he said. He said the fact that oil prices are quoted in dollars per barrel did not mean that payments actually had to be made in that currency.
If Gazprom’s CEO had made such a statement, it would not have really surprised anyone. But this came from a high profile French CEO. A decade ago, it would have been unthinkable for him to say such a thing. Wars have been started over less. Virtually all oil and natural gas around the planet has been bought and sold for U.S. dollars since the 1970s, and this is an arrangement that the U.S. government has traditionally guarded very zealously. But now that Russia has broken the petrodollar monopoly, the fear of questioning the almighty dollar appears to be dissipating.
And at this point even French government officials are not afraid to publicly discuss moving away from the U.S. dollar. Just check out what French finance minister Michel Sapin said to the press this weekend…
French finance minister Michel Sapin says “now is the right time to bolster the use of the euro” adding, more ominously for the dollar, “we sell ourselves aircraft in dollars. Is that really necessary? I don’t think so.” Careful to avoid upsetting his ‘allies’ across the pond, Sapin followed up with the slam-dunk diplomacy, “This is not a fight against dollar imperialism,” except, of course – that’s exactly what it is… just as it was over 40 years ago when the French challenged Nixon.
So why are the French suddenly so upset?
Could it be the fact that we just slapped the largest bank in France with a nearly 9 billion dollar fine?…
The remarks come a week after Paris-based bank BNP Paribas (BNP) SA was slapped with a $8.97 billion fine by U.S. authorities for transactions carried out in dollars in countries facing American sanctions. The fine spurred debate in France about the right of the U.S. in extending its regulatory reach beyond its borders.
This is yet another example of how the Obama administration is alienating friends all over the globe.
In fact, there doesn’t seem to be anyone that the Obama administration is afraid of crossing. Just a couple of days ago, the German press exploded in outrage when Germany arrested a U.S. spy. Why we feel the need to spy on our friends is something that I will never figure out.
And of course our relations with Russia are probably the worst that they have been since the end of the Cold War at this point. And as the Russians now rapidly move away from the U.S. dollar, they seem intent on bringing the rest of “the BRICS” with them. The following is a short excerpt from a recent Voice of Russia article entitled “BRICS morphing into anti-dollar alliance“…
However, in her discussion with Vladimir Putin, the head of the Russian central bank unveiled an elegant technical solution for this problem and left a clear hint regarding the members of the anti-dollar alliance that is being created by the efforts of Moscow and Beijing:
“We’ve done a lot of work on the ruble-yuan swap deal in order to facilitate trade financing. I have a meeting next week in Beijing,” she said casually and then dropped the bomb: “We are discussing with China and our BRICS parters the establishment of a system of multilateral swaps that will allow to transfer resources to one or another country, if needed. A part of the currency reserves can be directed to [the new system].” (source of the quote: Prime news agency)
It seems that the Kremlin chose the all-in-one approach for establishing its anti-dollar alliance. Currency swaps between the BRICS central banks will facilitate trade financing while completely bypassing the dollar. At the same time, the new system will also act as a de facto replacement of the IMF, because it will allow the members of the alliance to direct resources to finance the weaker countries. As an important bonus, derived from this “quasi-IMF” system, the BRICS will use a part (most likely the “dollar part”) of their currency reserves to support it, thus drastically reducing the amount of dollar-based instruments bought by some of the biggest foreign creditors of the US.
Of course the key economic player in the BRICS alliance is China.
So will China actually go along with a “de-dollarization” strategy?
Well, the truth is that China has been making moves to become more independent of the dollar for a long time, and it has just been announced that China and South Korea have signed an agreement which will mean more direct trade between the two nations using their own national currencies…
China’s central bank has authorized the Bank of Communications, the country’s fifth largest lender, to undertake yuan clearing business in the South Korean capital, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) said in a statement.
The announcement came as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a state visit to South Korea on Friday. China is seeking to make the yuan – also known as the renminbi – used more internationally in keeping with the country’s status as the world’s second biggest economy behind the United States.
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t care about any of this at all.
They don’t understand that more U.S. dollars are actually used outside the United States than are used inside the United States. Because most of the rest of the world uses U.S. dollars to trade with one another, this has created a tremendous amount of artificial demand for our currency. In other words, the value of the U.S. dollar is much higher than it otherwise would be, and this has enabled us to import trillions of dollars of products at ridiculously low prices. The standard of living that we enjoy today is highly dependent on this arrangement continuing.
And our ability to fund the federal government and our state and local governments is heavily dependent on the rest of the planet loaning our dollars back to us for next to nothing. If we actually had to pay realistic market rates to borrow money, the finances of the federal government would have already collapsed long ago.
So it is absolutely imperative for our own economic well-being that this “de-dollarization” trend not accelerate any further. The rest of the world could actually severely hurt us by deciding to stop using the almighty dollar, and the more that the Obama administration antagonizes both our friends and our foes around the globe the more likely that is to happen.
We live in very perilous times, and the almighty dollar is more vulnerable now than it has been in decades.
If it starts collapsing, it will take down the entire U.S. financial system with it.
Let us hope that we still have a bit more time before that happens, because once the U.S. dollar collapses it will be exceedingly painful for all of us.
This is no time to be complacent. Massive economic problems are erupting all over the globe, but most people seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing. Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer. Just look at what is happening in Europe. The eurozone is now in the midst of the longest recession that it has ever experienced. Just look at what is happening over in Asia. Economic growth in India is the lowest that it has been in a decade and the Japanese financial system is beginning to spin wildly out of control. One of the only places on the entire planet where serious economic problems have not already erupted is in the United States, and that is only because we have “kicked the can down the road” by recklessly printing money and by borrowing money at an unprecedented rate. Unfortunately, the “sugar high” produced by those foolish measures is starting to wear off. We are going to experience a massive amount of economic pain along with the rest of the world – it is just a matter of time.
But for the moment, there are a lot of skeptics out there.
For the moment, there are a lot of people that are declaring that the problems of the past have been fixed and that we are heading for incredibly bright economic times ahead.
Unfortunately, those people appear to be purposely ignoring the economic horror that is breaking out all over the globe.
The following are 18 signs that massive economic problems are erupting all over the planet…
#1 The eurozone is now in the midst of its longest recession ever. Economic activity in the eurozone has declined for six quarters in a row.
#2 Italy’s economy has now been contracting for seven quarters in a row.
#3 Industrial production in Italy has fallen for 15 months in a row. It has now fallen to its lowest level in about 25 years.
#4 The number of people that are considered to be “seriously deprived” in Italy has doubled over the past two years.
#5 Consumer confidence in France has just hit a new all-time low.
#6 The number of unemployed workers seeking a job in France has hit a brand new all-time record high. Many unemployed workers in France are utterly frustrated at this point…
“I’ve sent CVs everywhere, I come to the unemployment agency every day, for 3 or 4 hours to look for work as a truck driver and there’s never anything,” said 42-year old Djamel Sami, who has been unemployed for a year, leaving a job agency in Paris.
#7 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.2 percent.
#8 Youth unemployment continues to soar to unprecedented heights in Europe. The following is from an article that was recently posted on the website of the Guardian that detailed how bad things are getting in some of the worst countries…
In Greece, 62.5% of young people are out of work, in Spain it’s 56.4%, then Portugal with 42.5%, and then Italy with 40.5%.
#9 Youth unemployment is being partially blamed for the worst rioting that Sweden has seen in many years. The following is how the Daily Mail described the riots…
Sweden is reeling after a third night of rioting in largely run-down immigrant areas of the capital Stockholm.
In the last 48 hours violence has spread to at least ten suburbs with mobs of youths torching hundreds of cars and clashing with police.
It is Sweden’s worst disorder in years and has shocked the country and provoked a debate on how Sweden is coping with youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.
#10 An astounding 10 percent of all banking deposits were pulled out of banks in Cyprus during the month of April alone.
#11 Economic growth in India is the slowest that it has been in an entire decade.
#12 Suddenly Australia is experiencing some tremendous economic challenges. The following quotes are from a recent Zero Hedge article…
-“We’re seeing a much sharper contraction in the Australian economy than we’d anticipated four or five months ago”. Coffey MD, John Douglas. The engineering group has seen its shares, which traded above $4 in 2007, hit 10c last week.
-“By 10am, the Fitness First gym in the city is packed full of brokers who’ve had a gutful of sitting at their desk doing nothing – salary cuts are starting and next it will be jobs” Perth broker
-“Oh mate, the funding market is dead. You are now seeing a few deeply discounted rights issues for those that are reaching desperate levels ….. liquidity has completely disappeared” Perth broker
#13 The financial system in Japan is beginning to spin wildly out of control. The Japanese stock market has now declined about 15 percent from the peak, and many believe that the yen will continue to get weaker and that interest rates in Japan will start to rise significantly.
#14 Global cash flow is declining at a rate not seen since the last recession. This indicates that we could be headed for a global credit crunch.
#15 Real wages continue to decline in the United States. Even though we are being told that the U.S. is experiencing an “economy recovery”, real weekly earnings have declined from $297.79 in 2010 to $295.49 in 2011 to $294.83 in 2012. (The preceding calculation is based on 1982-1984 dollars)
#16 Wall Street is buzzing about the fact that “the Hindenburg Omen” appeared at the end of last week. So exactly what is “the Hindenburg Omen”? The following are the criteria that are used to determine whether it has appeared or not…
1. The daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day.
2. The smaller of these numbers is greater than or equal to 69 (68.772 is 2.2% of 3126). This is not a rule but more like a checksum. This condition is a function of the 2.2% of the total issues.
3. That the NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.
4. That the McClellan Oscillator ( a market breadth indicator used to evaluate the rate of money entering or leaving the market and interpretively indicate overbought or oversold conditions of the market)is negative on that same day.
5. That new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week Lows (however it is fine for new 52 Week Lows to be more than double new 52 Week Highs).
When the Hindenburg Omen makes an appearance, it supposedly means that the U.S. stock market is likely to experience a serious decline within the next 40 days.
#17 As I wrote about the other day, the SentimenTrader Smart/Dumb Money Index is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years. That means that lots of “smart money” has been getting out of the market and lots of “dumb money” has been pouring in.
#18 Margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange has set a new all-time high. The following is from a recent Market Oracle article…
Margin debt—that’s the amount of money borrowed to purchase stocks—on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) reached its all-time high in April. Margin debt on the NYSE registered at $384.3 billion as the key stock indices hit new record-highs. (Source: New York Stock Exchange web site, last accessed May 29, 2013.) The highest margin debt ever reached prior to this was in July of 2007, when it stood just above $381.0 billion. At that time, just like today, the key stock indices were near their peaks and “buy now before it’s too late” was the prominent theme of the day
Whenever margin debt spikes like this, a stock market crash almost always follows. If you doubt this, just check out the chart in this article.
Wall Street has had a good couple of years, but it has been a “false prosperity” that has been pumped up by reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve. Just like all of the other stock market bubbles that we have seen in recent years, this one is going to burst too. And as Marc Faber recently pointed out, this bubble has been particularly beneficial to the wealthy…
The Fed has been flooding the system with money. The problem is the money doesn’t flow into the system evenly. It doesn’t increase economic activity and asset prices in concert. Instead, it creates dangerous excesses in countries and asset classes. Money-printing fueled the colossal stock-market bubble of 1999-2000, when the Nasdaq more than doubled, becoming disconnected from economic reality. It fueled the housing bubble, which burst in 2008, and the commodities bubble. Now money is flowing into the high-end asset market – things like stocks, bonds, art, wine, jewelry, and luxury real estate.
Money-printing boosts the economy of the people closest to the money flow. But it doesn’t help the worker in Detroit, or the vast majority of the middle class. It leads to a widening wealth gap. The majority loses, and the minority wins.
The fact that the U.S. stock market has set new all-time record high after new all-time record high in recent months means very little. At this point, the stock market has become completely divorced from economic reality. When this current bubble bursts, the adjustment is going to be very painful. Wall Street will likely whine and complain and ask for more bailouts, but they may find that authorities are not nearly as sympathetic this time.
Much of the rest of the world is already experiencing the next major wave of the economic collapse. Reckless money printing by the Fed and reckless borrowing and spending by the federal government may have delayed the inevitable in the United States for a little while, but those measures have also made our long-term problems even worse.
There was one piece of advice that Ben Bernanke included in his commencement speech to students at Princeton recently that I thought was particularly ironic…
“Don’t be afraid to let the drama play out.”
Will he take his own advice when the next great financial crisis strikes the United States?
That seems very unlikely.
Unfortunately, things are not going to be so easy to fix this next time.
What happened back in 2008 was just a preview.
What is coming next is going to absolutely shock the world.
The economic implosion of Europe is accelerating. Even while the mainstream media continues to proclaim that the financial crisis in Europe has been “averted”, the economic statistics that are coming out of Europe just continue to get worse. Manufacturing activity in Europe has been contracting month after month, the unemployment rate in the eurozone has hit yet another brand new record high, and the official unemployment rates in both Greece and Spain are now much higher than the peak unemployment rate in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The economic situation in Europe is far worse than it was a year ago, and it is going to continue to get worse as austerity continues to take a huge toll on the economies of the eurozone. It would be hard to understate how bad things have gotten – particularly in southern Europe. The truth is that most of southern Europe is experiencing a full-blown economic depression right now. Sadly, most Americans are paying very little attention to what is going on across the Atlantic. But they should be watching, because this is what happens when nations accumulate too much debt. The United States has the biggest debt burden of all, and eventually what is happening over in Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Greece is going to happen over here as well.
The following are 20 facts about the collapse of Europe that everyone should know…
#1 10 Months: Manufacturing activity in both France and Germany has contracted for 10 months in a row.
#2 11.8 Percent: The unemployment rate in the eurozone has now risen to 11.8 percent – a brand new all-time high.
#3 17 Months: In November, Italy experienced the sharpest decline in retail sales that it had experienced in 17 months.
#4 20 Months: Manufacturing activity in Spain has contracted for 20 months in a row.
#5 20 Percent: It is estimated that bad loans now make up approximately 20 percent of all domestic loans in the Greek banking system at this point.
#6 22 Percent: A whopping 22 percent of the entire population of Ireland lives in jobless households.
#7 26 Percent: The unemployment rate in Greece is now 26 percent. A year ago it was only 18.9 percent.
#8 26.6 Percent: The unemployment rate in Spain has risen to an astounding 26.6 percent.
#9 27.0 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Cyprus. Back in 2008, this number was well below 10 percent.
#10 28 Percent: Sales of French-made vehicles in November were down 28 percent compared to a year earlier.
#11 36 Percent: Today, the poverty rate in Greece is 36 percent. Back in 2009 it was only about 20 percent.
#12 37.1 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Italy – a brand new all-time high.
#13 44 Percent: An astounding 44 percent of the entire population of Bulgaria is facing “severe material deprivation”.
#14 56.5 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Spain – a brand new all-time high.
#15 57.6 Percent: The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 in Greece – a brand new all-time high.
#16 60 Percent: Citigroup is projecting that there is a 60 percent probability that Greece will leave the eurozone within the next 12 to 18 months.
#17 70 Percent: It has been reported that some homes in Spain are being sold at a 70% discount from where they were at during the peak of the housing bubble back in 2006. At this point there are approximately 2 million unsold homes in Spain.
#18 200 Percent: The debt to GDP ratio in Greece is rapidly approaching 200 percent.
#19 1997: According to the Committee of French Automobile Producers, 2012 was the worst year for the French automobile industry since 1997.
#20 2 Million: Back in 2005, the French auto industry produced about 3.5 million vehicles. In 2012, that number dropped to about 2 million vehicles.
One thing that these shocking numbers cannot convey is the tremendous amount of pain that many average Europeans are living through on a daily basis at this point. To get a peek into what life is like in Greece these days, check out this short excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article…
Anastasia Karagaitanaki, 57, is a former model and cafe owner in Thessaloniki, Greece. After losing her business to the financial crisis, she now sleeps on a daybed next to the refrigerator in her mother’s kitchen and depends on charity for food and insulin for her diabetes.
“I feel like my life has slipped through my hands,” said Karagaitanaki, whose brother also shares the one-bedroom apartment. “I feel like I’m dead.”
For thousands of Greeks like Karagaitanaki, the fabric of middle-class life is unraveling. Teachers, salaries slashed by a third, are stealing electricity. Families in once-stable neighborhoods are afraid to leave their homes because of rising street crime.
All over Europe, people that have lost all hope are actually setting themselves on fire in a desperate attempt to draw attention. Millions of formerly middle class Europeans have lost everything and are becoming increasingly desperate. Suicide and crime are skyrocketing all over southern Europe and massive street riots are erupting on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Things are going to get even worse for Europe.
Meanwhile, those of us living in the United States smugly look down our noses at Europe because we are still living in a false bubble of debt-fueled prosperity.
But eventually we will feel the sting of austerity as well. The recent fiscal cliff deal was an indication of that. Taxes are going up and government spending is at least going to slow down. It won’t be too long before the effects of that are felt in the economy.
And of course the reality of the situation is that the U.S. economy really did not perform very well at all during 2012 when you take a look at the numbers. The cold, hard truth is that the U.S. economy has been declining for a very long time, and there are a whole bunch of reasons to expect that our decline will accelerate even further in 2013.
So if you are an American, don’t laugh at what is happening over in Europe at the moment. We are headed down the exact same path that they have gone, and we are going to experience the same kind of suffering that they are going through right now.
Use these last few “bubble months” to prepare for what is ahead. At some point this “hope bubble” will disappear and then the time for preparation will be over.