Under Barack Obama, the U.S. national debt has risen from $10,626,877,048,913.08 on January 20th, 2009 to $18,795,033,928,275.59 on December 21st, 2015. That means that the debt that we are passing on to future generations has increased by 8.16 trillion dollars since Barack Obama was inaugurated. There is still a little more than a year to go in Obama’s presidency, and it is already guaranteed that Obama will add more than a trillion dollars a year to the national debt during his presidency. In fact, when you do the math, we are stealing more than 100 million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day. It is a crime of a magnitude that is almost unimaginable, and at this point it is mathematically impossible for the U.S. government to pay off all of this debt. To say that we are in trouble would be a massive understatement.
And of course not all of the blame goes to Obama. The Republicans have had control of the House of Representatives for all but two years while Obama has been in the White House, and they have gone along with all of this reckless spending. Without the approval of the House, Obama could not spend a single penny, but the Republicans have consistently chosen not to stand up to him. In fact, the Republicans in Congress just approved another massive 1.2 trillion dollar spending bill that essentially gave the Democrats every single thing that they wanted. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi even admitted that the Republicans “were willing to concede so much” during the negotiations.
So why do we even have a Republican Party? They always just go along with pretty much whatever the Democrats want anyway. Why shouldn’t we just disband the Republican Party and let the Democrats completely run things? How would Washington D.C. be any different if the Republicans didn’t even exist?
At this point, even Rush Limbaugh is completely disgusted with the Republican Party…
I have a headline here from the Washington Times: “White House Declares Total Victory Over GOP in Budget Battle.” That headline’s a misnomer. There was never a battle. None of this was opposed. The Republican Party didn’t stand up to any of it, and the die has been cast for a long time on this. I know many of you are dispirited, depressed, angry, combination of all of that. But, folks, there was no other way this could go. Because two years ago when the Republican Party declared they would never do anything that would shut down the government and they would not impeach Obama, there were no obstacles in Obama’s way and there were no obstacles in the way of the Democrat Party.
Do you remember when Republican politicians were running around promising that they would defund Obamacare?
That didn’t happen.
Do you remember when Republican politicians were running around promising that they would defund Planned Parenthood?
That didn’t happen.
Do you remember when Republican politicians were running around promising that they would defund Obama’s refugee program?
That didn’t happen.
In this new spending deal, the Republicans got nothing. It was a sham, a farce and a total insult to the American people. Here is more from Rush Limbaugh…
It fully funds Planned Parenthood. That, to me, is unforgivable, with everything now known about what goes on behind closed doors at Planned Parenthood, and that the federal government, led by a Republican Party, sees fit to pay for it. It is beyond comprehension, and it is a total squandering of moral authority to fully fund the butchery at Planned Parenthood. This spending bill fully pays for Obama’s refugee plans, fully. This spending bill, this budget bill quadruples the number of visas Obama wants for foreign workers. This is even a slap at American union workers. Not the leaders. The union leaders seem to be in favor of it, but blue-collar people, known as working people, have been sold down the river along with everybody else here.
This spending bill even fully pays for every dime asked for by Obama on all of this idiocy that’s tied up into climate change. Everything Obama wanted, everything he asked for, he got. You go down the list of things, it’s there.
Even after watching all of the undercover Planned Parenthood videos that came out over the past year, the Republicans in Congress still voted to fund the harvesting and sale of body parts from aborted babies.
And surveys have found that the American people support the continued funding of Planned Parenthood by about a 2 to 1 margin. After everything that we have seen, the vast majority of Americans still want to continue giving those butchers hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars a year.
No wonder so many people are comparing America to Nazi Germany these days. We truly have become an exceedingly wicked nation.
We like to think that we are an “example” for the rest of the planet, but in reality the only example that we are is a bad one. Our guilt has been put on display for all the world to see, and yet we just continue to race toward even more evil.
Not only did the Republicans not defund Planned Parenthood, the truth is that not a single pro-life amendment of any sort even got into the bill thanks to Paul Ryan. The following comes from lifesitenews.com…
“The bill failed to include a single major pro-life policy rider, despite the requests of over 120 members of Congress and the disturbing revelations about Planned Parenthood brought to light this year,” said Congresswoman Diane Black, R-TN, who voted against the bill.
The House Freedom Caucus offered a series of amendments to the bill defunding Planned Parenthood, strengthening conscience protections for pro-life physicians and organizations, and ending all U.S. funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The House Rules Committee rejected these riders earlier this week, as Speaker Paul Ryan said he did not want conservative amendments added to the bill that would drive away his Democratic colleagues.
The committee also rejected an amendment to increase vetting of refugees who enter the United States from the terrorist hotbeds of Syria and Iraq, which had previously passed the House, with 47 Democrats adding strong bipartisan support.
Like I said, the Republicans completely capitulated, just like they always do.
Now the U.S. national debt is nearly double the size that it was just before the last financial crisis struck, and our leaders continue to borrow and spend as if there is no tomorrow.
Perhaps they have convinced themselves that there will never be any consequences for acting so foolishly.
Perhaps they believe that in the end everything will turn out okay somehow.
Perhaps they are able to rationalize the theft of more than a hundred million dollars an hour from future generations of Americans.
But nothing can erase what they have done to us. The promising future that our children and our grandchildren should have had has been completely wiped out, and the leading edge of the greatest economic crisis that any of us has ever known is now upon us.
If we had done things differently, things wouldn’t have had to turn out this way. But now the die is cast, and we are all going to pay a very high price for the mistakes that have been made in Washington.
After all these years, the most famous investor in the world still believes that derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction. And you know what? He is exactly right. The next great global financial collapse that so many are warning about is nearly upon us, and when it arrives derivatives are going to play a starring role. When many people hear the word “derivatives”, they tend to tune out because it is a word that sounds very complicated. And without a doubt, derivatives can be enormously complex. But what I try to do is to take complex subjects and break them down into simple terms. At their core, derivatives represent nothing more than a legalized form of gambling. A derivative is essentially a bet that something either will or will not happen in the future. Ultimately, someone will win money and someone will lose money. There are hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of these bets floating around out there, and one of these days this gigantic time bomb is going to go off and absolutely cripple the entire global financial system.
Back in 2002, legendary investor Warren Buffett shared the following thoughts about derivatives with shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway…
The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Central banks and governments have so
far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts. In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.
Those words turned out to be quite prophetic. Derivatives have definitely multiplied in variety and number since that time, and it has become abundantly clear how toxic they are. Derivatives played a substantial role in the financial meltdown of 2008, but we still haven’t learned our lessons. Today, the derivatives bubble is even larger than it was just before the last financial crisis, and it could absolutely devastate the global financial system at any time.
During one recent interview, Buffett was asked if he is still convinced that derivatives are “weapons of mass destruction”. He told the interviewer that he believes that they are, and that “at some point they are likely to cause big trouble”…
Thirteen years after describing derivatives as “weapons of mass destruction” Warren Buffett has reaffirmed his view that they pose a threat to the global economy and financial markets.
In an interview with Chanticleer this week, Buffett said that “at some point they are likely to cause big trouble“.
“Derivatives, lend themselves to huge amounts of speculation,” he said.
Most of the time, the big banks that do most of the trading in these derivatives do very well. They use extremely sophisticated computer algorithms that help them come out on the winning end of these bets most of the time.
But when there is some sort of unforeseen event that suddenly causes a massive shift in the marketplace, that can cause tremendous problems. This is something that Buffett discussed during his recent interview…
“The problem arises when there is a discontinuity in the market for some reason or another.
“When the markets closed like it was for a few days after 9/11 or in World War I the market was closed for four or five months – anything that disrupts the continuity of the market when you have trillions of dollars of nominal amounts outstanding and no ability to settle up and who knows what happens when the market reopens,” he said.
So if the markets behave fairly calmly and predictably, the derivatives bubble probably will not burst.
But no balancing act of this nature ever lasts forever. Just remember what happened in 2008. Lehman Brothers collapsed and then the financial system virtually froze up. According to Forbes, at that time almost everyone was afraid to deal with the big banks because nobody was quite sure how much exposure they had to these risky derivatives…
Fast forward to the financial meltdown of 2008 and what do we see? America again was celebrating. The economy was booming. Everyone seemed to be getting wealthier, even though the warning signs were everywhere: too much borrowing, foolish investments, greedy banks, regulators asleep at the wheel, politicians eager to promote home-ownership for those who couldn’t afford it, and distinguished analysts openly predicting this could only end badly. And then, when Lehman Bros fell, the financial system froze and world economy almost collapsed. Why?
The root cause wasn’t just the reckless lending and the excessive risk taking. The problem at the core was a lack of transparency. After Lehman’s collapse, no one could understand any particular bank’s risks from derivative trading and so no bank wanted to lend to or trade with any other bank. Because all the big banks’ had been involved to an unknown degree in risky derivative trading, no one could tell whether any particular financial institution might suddenly implode.
After the crisis, we were promised that something would be done about the “too big to fail” problem.
But instead, the problem of “too big to fail” is now larger than ever.
Since the last financial crisis, the four largest banks in the country have gotten approximately 40 percent larger. Today, the five largest banks account for approximately 42 percent of all loans in the United States, and the six largest banks account for approximately 67 percent of all assets in our financial system. Without those banks, we would not have much of an economy left at all.
Meanwhile, smaller banks have been going out of business or have been swallowed up by the big banks at a staggering rate. Incredibly, there are 1,400 fewer small banks in operation today than there were when the last financial crisis erupted.
So we cannot afford for these “too big to fail” banks to actually fail. Even the failure of a single one would cause a national financial nightmare. The “too big to fail” banks that I am talking about are JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. When you total up the exposure to derivatives that all of them currently have, it comes to a grand total of more than 278 trillion dollars. But when you total up all of the assets of all six banks combined, it only comes to a grand total of about 9.8 trillion dollars. In other words, the “too big to fail” banks have exposure to derivatives that is more than 28 times the size of their total assets.
I have shared the following numbers with my readers before, but it is absolutely crucial that we all understand how exceedingly vulnerable our financial system really is. These numbers come directly from the OCC’s most recent quarterly report (see Table 2), and they reveal a recklessness that is almost beyond words…
Total Assets: $2,573,126,000,000 (about 2.6 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $63,600,246,000,000 (more than 63 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,842,530,000,000 (more than 1.8 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $59,951,603,000,000 (more than 59 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $856,301,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $57,312,558,000,000 (more than 57 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $2,106,796,000,000 (a little bit more than 2.1 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $54,224,084,000,000 (more than 54 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $801,382,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $38,546,879,000,000 (more than 38 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,687,155,000,000 (about 1.7 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $5,302,422,000,000 (more than 5 trillion dollars)
Since the United States was first established, the U.S. government has run up a total debt of a bit more than 18 trillion dollars. It is the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and it has grown so large that it is literally impossible for us to pay it off at this point.
But the top five banks in the list above each have exposure to derivatives that is more than twice the size of the national debt, and several of them have exposure to derivatives that is more than three times the size of the national debt.
That is why I keep saying that there will not be enough money in the entire world to bail everyone out when this derivatives bubble finally implodes.
Warren Buffett is entirely correct about derivatives – they truly are weapons of mass destruction that could destroy the entire global financial system at any time.
So as we move into the second half of this year and beyond, you will want to watch for terms like “derivatives crisis” or “derivatives crash” in news reports. When derivatives start making front page news, that will be a really, really bad sign.
Our financial system has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the planet. For the moment, the roulette wheels are still spinning and everyone is happy. But sooner or later, a “black swan event” will happen that nobody expected, and then all hell will break loose.
Did you know that about one-fourth of the entire global prison population is in the United States? Did you know that Apple has more money than the U.S. Treasury? Did you know that if you have no debt and also have 10 dollars in your wallet that you are wealthier than 25 percent of all Americans? Did you know that by the time an American child reaches the age of 18, that child will have seen approximately 40,000 murders on television? There are some things that are great about the United States, and there are definitely some things that are not so great. Once upon a time we were the most loved and most respected nation on the entire planet, but those days are long gone. We have wrecked our economy, we have lost our values and we have fumbled away our future. But if you look close enough, you can still see many of the things that once made this country a shining beacon to the rest of the world. This article includes some weird facts, some fun facts, but also some very troubling facts. It has been said that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and hopefully as people enjoy reading the fun facts in this article they will also take note of the more serious facts. If we are ever going to change course as a nation, we need to come to grips with just how far we have fallen. The following are 33 strange facts about America that most Americans would be shocked to learn…
#1 The amount of cement that China used from 2011 to 2013 was greater than the total amount of cement that the United States used during the entire 20th century.
#2 In more than half of all U.S. states, the highest paid public employee in the state is a football coach.
#3 It costs the U.S. government 1.8 cents to mint a penny and 9.4 cents to mint a nickel.
#4 Almost half of all Americans (47 percent) do not put a single penny out of their paychecks into savings.
#5 In 2014, police in the United States killed 1,100 people. During that same year, police in Canada killed 14 people, police in China killed 12 people and police in Germany didn’t kill anyone at all.
#6 The state of Alaska is 429 times larger than the state of Rhode Island is. But Rhode Island has a significantly larger population than Alaska does.
#7 Alaska has a longer coastline than all of the other 49 U.S. states put together.
#8 The city of Juneau, Alaska is about 3,000 square miles in size. It is actually larger than the entire state of Delaware.
#9 When LBJ’s “War on Poverty” began, less than 10 percent of all U.S. children were growing up in single parent households. Today, that number has skyrocketed to 33 percent.
#10 In 1950, less than 5 percent of all babies in America were born to unmarried parents. Today, that number is over 40 percent.
#11 The poverty rate for households that are led by a married couple is 6.8 percent. For households that are led by a female single parent, the poverty rate is 37.1 percent.
#12 In 2013, women earned 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees that were awarded that year in the United States.
#13 According to the CDC, 34.6 percent of all men in the U.S. are obese at this point.
#14 The average supermarket in the United States wastes about 3,000 pounds of food each year.
#15 Right now, more than 200 million people around the planet are officially considered to be unemployed. Meanwhile, approximately 20 percent of the garbage that goes into our landfills is food.
#16 There is a city in Bangladesh called Dhaka where workers are paid just one dollar for every 1,000 bricks that they carry. Meanwhile, the “inactivity rate” for men in their prime working years in the United States is hovering near record high levels.
#17 According to one recent survey, 81 percent of Russians now have a negative view of the United States. That is much higher than at the end of the Cold War era.
#18 Montana has three times as many cows as it does people.
#19 The grizzly bear is the official state animal of California. But no grizzly bears have been seen there since 1922.
#20 One recent survey discovered that “a steady job” is the number one thing that American women are looking for in a husband, and another survey discovered that 75 percent of women would have a serious problem dating an unemployed man.
#21 According to a study conducted by economist Carl Benedikt Frey and engineer Michael Osborne, 47 percent of the jobs in the United States could soon be lost to computers, robots and other forms of technology.
#22 The only place in the United States where coffee is grown commercially is in Hawaii.
#23 The original name of the city of Atlanta was “Terminus“.
#24 The state with the most millionaires per capita is Maryland.
#25 There are more than 4 million adult websites on the Internet, and they get more traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.
#26 86 percent of men include “having children” in their definition of success. For women, that number is only 73 percent.
#27 One survey of 50-year-old men in the U.S. found that only 12 percent of them said that they were “very happy”.
#28 The United States has 845 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people. Japan only has 593 for every 1,000 people, and Germany only has 540 for every 1,000 people.
#29 The average American spends more than 10 hours a day using an electronic device.
#30 48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies in their homes whatsoever.
#31 There are three towns in the United States that have the name “Santa Claus“.
#32 There is actually a town in Michigan called “Hell“.
#33 There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body. If they were stretched out in a single line, they could go around the planet more than twice.
Radical leftists have been catapulted to power in Greece, and that means that the European financial crisis has just entered a dangerous new phase. Syriza, which is actually an acronym for “Coalition of the Radical Left” in Greek, has 36 percent of the total vote with approximately 80 percent of the polling stations reporting. The current governing party, New Democracy, only has 28 percent of the vote. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras is promising to roll back a whole host of austerity measures that were imposed on Greece by the EU, and his primary campaign slogan was “hope is on the way”. Hmmm – that sounds a bit familiar. Clearly, the Greek population is fed up with the EU after years of austerity and depression-like conditions. At this point, the unemployment rate in Greece is sitting at 25.8 percent, and the Greek economy is approximately 25 percent smaller than it was just six years ago. The people of Greece are desperate for things to get better, and so they have turned to the radical leftists. Unfortunately, things may be about to get a whole lot worse.
Once they formally have control of the government, Syriza plans to call for a European debt conference during which they plan to demand that the repayment terms of their debts be renegotiated. But the rest of Europe appears to be highly resistant to any renegotiation – especially Germany.
Syriza says that it does not plan to unilaterally pull Greece out of the eurozone, and that it also intends for Greece to continue to use the euro.
But what happens if Germany will not budge?
Syriza’s entire campaign was based on promises to end austerity. If international creditors refuse to negotiate and continue to insist that Greece abide by the austerity measures that were previously put in place, what will Syriza do?
Will Syriza back down and lose all future credibility with Greek voters?
Since 2010, the Greek people have endured a seemingly endless parade of wage reductions, pension cuts, tax increases and government budget cutbacks.
The Greek people just want things to go back to the way that they used to be, and they are counting on Syriza to deliver.
Unfortunately for Syriza, delivering on those promises is not going to be easy. They may be faced with a choice of either submitting to the demands of their international creditors or choosing to leave the eurozone altogether.
And if Greece does leave the eurozone, the consequences for all of Europe could be catastrophic…
Syriza risks overplaying its hand, said International Capital Strategies’ Rediker. “Given that the ECB controls the liquidity of the Greek banking system, and also serves as its regulator through the SSM (Single Supervisory Mechanism), going toe-to-toe with the ECB is one battle that could end very badly for the Greek government.”
If the ECB were to stop funding the liquidity of the Greek banks, the banks could collapse—an event that could lead to Greece abandoning the euro and printing its own money once more.
Milios didn’t believe it would come to that, saying, “No one wants a collapse of banks in the euro zone. This is going to be Lehman squared or to the tenth. No one wants to jeopardize the future of the euro zone.”
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, because one bad move could set off a meltdown of the entire European financial system.
Even before the Greek election, the euro was already falling like a rock and economic conditions all over Europe were already getting worse.
So why would the Greeks risk pushing Europe to the brink of utter disaster?
Well, it is because economic conditions in Greece have been absolutely hellish for years and they are sick and tired of it.
For example, the BBC is reporting that many married women have become so desperate to find work in Greece that they are literally begging to work in brothels…
Some who have children and are struggling to support them have turned to sex work, to put food on the table.
Further north, in Larissa, Soula Alevridou, who owns a legal brothel, says the number of married women coming to her looking for work has doubled in the last five years.
“They plead and plead but as a legal brothel we cannot employ married women,” she says. “It’s illegal. So eventually they end up as prostitutes on the streets.”
When people get this desperate, they do desperate things – like voting radical leftists into power.
But Greece might just be the beginning. Surveys show that the popularity of the EU is plummeting all over Europe. Just check out the following excerpt from a recent Telegraph article…
Europe is being swept by a wave of popular disenchantment and revolt against mainstream political parties and the European Union.
In 2007, a majority of Europeans – 52 per cent – trusted the EU. That level of trust has now fallen to a third.
Once, Britain’s Euroscepticism was the exception, and was seen as the biggest threat to the future of the EU.
Now, other countries pose a far bigger danger thanks to the political discontents unleashed by the euro.
At this point, the future of the eurozone is in serious jeopardy.
I have a feeling that major changes in Europe are on the way which are going to shock the planet.
Meanwhile, the rest of the globe continues to slide toward another major financial crisis as well.
So many of the things that preceded the last financial crisis are happening once again. This includes a massive crash in the price of oil. Most people have absolutely no idea how critical the price of oil is to global financial markets. I like how Gerald Celente put it during an interview the other day…
I began getting recognition as a trend forecaster in 1987. The Wall Street Journal covered my forecast. I said, ‘1987 would be the year it all collapses.’ I said, ‘There will be a stock market crash.’ One of the fundamentals I was looking at were the crashing oil prices in 1986.
Well, we see crashing oil prices today and the banks are much more concentrated and levered up in the oil patch than they were in 1987. From Goldman Sachs to Morgan Stanley banks have been involved in major debt financing, derivatives and energy transactions. But much of this debt has not been sold to investors and now we are going to start seeing some big defaults.
By itself, the Greek election would be a significant crisis.
But combined with all of the other economic and geopolitical problems that are erupting all over the planet, it looks like the conditions for a “perfect storm” are rapidly coming together.
Unfortunately, the overall global economy is in far worse shape today than it was just prior to the last major financial crisis.
This time around, the consequences might just be far more dramatic than most people would ever dare to imagine.
What the people of Ukraine are being put through is absolutely horrible. They are caught in the middle of a massive tug of war between the East and the West, and they are paying a great price for it. Ultimately, Ukraine will end up either being dominated by Russia (a bad outcome) or by the EU and the United States (another bad outcome). Most Ukrainians just want to be free and want to be able to build a better future for themselves and their families, but it is extremely unlikely that they will be able to escape the specter of foreign domination. Meanwhile, the violence in Ukraine is planting the seeds for a potentially much larger conflict down the road. The days of “friendly relations” between the United States and Russia are now gone. Russia is absolutely furious that the U.S. has fueled a violent revolution on its own border, and it is something that Russian officials will not forget for a very long time. In return, U.S. officials are taking an increasingly harsh stance toward Russia. In the end, the seeds that are being planted right now could ultimately blossom into a full-blown conflict between the superpowers in the years to come.
Let there be no mistake – the United States is heavily involved in what is going on in Ukraine. Even the New York Times admits this. And the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and the Assistant Secretary of State have been caught on tape discussing their next moves in getting a new government installed in Ukraine.
In addition, a number of non-governmental organizations inside the United States have allegedly been assisting and organizing the revolution in Ukraine for a long time. At least a few of these organizations have ties to George Soros. This is something that I discussed in a previous article.
Some of the “progressive” NGOs that have been accused of fueling the violent revolution in Ukraine include the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and the Open Society Foundations (formerly known as the Open Society Institute).
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not taking sides. I am just pointing out that both sides in Ukraine are controlled. If I was living in Ukraine, I would want both Russia and the United States to go away and leave Ukraine alone.
Instead, Ukraine is being used as a battleground to fight a proxy war between the East and the West. Now that the opposition has gained the upper hand, it does not appear that Russian officials are in any mood to recognize the new “government”…
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday said Russia had grave doubts about the legitimacy of those in power in Ukraine following President Viktor Yanukovich’s ouster, saying their recognition by some states was an “aberration”.
Medvedev also stated that he has “big doubts about the legitimacy of a whole series of organs of power that are now functioning there.”
Last Friday, an agreement was signed by the two sides in Ukraine that was supposed to bring about a peaceful resolution to all of this. But the revolutionaries reneged on the deal and toppled the government instead. Needless to say, Russia was quite horrified by this…
The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the West for turning a blind eye to what Moscow described as the opposition reneging on its agreement signed Friday to form a unity government and aiming to “suppress dissent in various regions of Ukraine with dictatorial and, sometimes, even terrorist methods.”
So what does Russia plan to do?
That is the big question that everyone is asking.
They are not doing much of anything just yet. But there have been rumors that we could potentially see some economic blowback…
Russia and the Customs Union could temporarily limit increased-risk food imports from Ukraine, given fears of loose safety control, said Sergei Dankvert, head of the Russian veterinary and phytosanitary oversight service Rosselkhoznadzor.
“My Belarusian colleague and I are extremely concerned about the situation in Ukraine. We do not rule out that curbs could be introduced on the imports of products of high veterinary and phytosanitary risks from Ukraine,” Dankvert told Interfax after talks with his Belarusian counterpart Yury Pivovarchik in Bryansk, and telephone talks with Ukraine’s Deputy Agrarian Policy Minister Ivan Bisyuk.
Of course what the U.S. government is most concerned about is any military action that Russia might take.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice says that what has happened in Ukraine reflects “the will of the Ukrainian people and the interests of the United States and Europe” and that it would be a “grave mistake” for Russia to get militarily involved.
But whatever happens over the next few days, nobody should think that the Russians are simply going to abandon their interests in Ukraine. Russia has a very important military base down in the Crimea, and the eastern half of the country is very pro-Russian.
So the struggle between East and West in Ukraine is likely to continue for quite some time to come. The following is an excerpt from a recent WND article…
The issue with Ukraine is whether it will join the E.U. or Putin’s Eurasian Union. The country is roughly divided on this issue between eastern and western Ukraine. The eastern portion wants to remain with Russia while the western side wants to move closer with the West.
In southern Ukraine, where the Crimea is located, Russian influence remains strong.
Because demonstrators who want to see Ukraine lean westward have become emboldened with their immediate success of ousting Yanukovich, it could make it more difficult for them to come to terms with any settlement agreement to reunify the country.
Moscow has a large naval military facility in Sevastopol in the Crimea and recently received a 25-year lease extension to 2042, with another five-year renewal option until 2047. In exchange, Ukraine received a multiyear discounted contract for much-needed natural gas.
And the pro-Russian eastern half of the country is actually the stronger of the two halves economically. So this will likely complicate matters for the EU and the U.S. as they try to bring Ukraine into their sphere of influence…
Seven of Ukraine’s 10 largest private companies by revenue are either headquartered or maintain the majority of their operations in eastern Ukraine. These firms are owned by some of Ukraine’s wealthiest and most influential individuals. Three of these 10 corporations — mining and steel company Metinvest, energy firm DTEK and its subsidiary Donetskstal — are based in the eastern industrial city of Donetsk and are owned by Ukraine’s wealthiest man, Rinat Akhmetov. Interpipe, the company that controls 10 percent of the world market share of railway wheels and more than 11 percent of the world market share of manganese ferroalloys, is based in Dnipropetrovsk and belongs to businessman and politician Victor Pinchuk.
The country’s most important businessmen are embedded in the east, where their businesses make disproportionately high contributions to the Ukrainian economy and national budget.
In the end, this proxy war between the East and the West has left Ukraine with a collapsed economy and on the brink of civil war.
And what has happened in Ukraine has caused permanent damage in the relationship between the United States and Russia.
It won’t happen this month or even this year, but someday the U.S. may end up bitterly regretting antagonizing the Russian Bear.
At least that is what I think.
So what do you think?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
In order for our current level of debt-fueled prosperity to continue, the rest of the world must continue to use our dollars to trade with one another and must continue to buy our debt at ridiculously low interest rates. Of course the number one foreign nation that we depend on to participate in our system is China. China accounts for more global trade than anyone else on the planet (including the United States), and most of that trade is conducted in U.S. dollars. This keeps demand for our dollars very high, and it ensures that we can import massive quantities of goods from overseas at very low cost. As a major exporting nation, China ends up with gigantic piles of our dollars. They lend many of those dollars back to us at ridiculously low interest rates. At this point, China owns more of our national debt than any other country does. But if China was to decide to quit playing our game and started moving away from U.S. dollars and U.S. debt, our economic prosperity could disappear very rapidly. Demand for the U.S. dollar would fall and prices would go up. And interest rates on our debt and everything else in our financial system would go up to crippling levels. So it is absolutely critical to our financial future that China continues to play our game.
Unfortunately, there are signs that China has now decided to start looking for a smooth exit from the game. In November, I wrote about how the central bank of China has announced that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves”. That means that the pile of U.S. dollars that China is sitting on is not going to get any higher.
In addition, China has signed a whole host of international currency agreements with other nations during the past couple of years which are going to result in less U.S. dollars being used in international trade. You can read about many of these agreements in this article.
This week, we learned that China started to dump U.S. debt during the month of December. Many have imagined that China would try to dump a flood of our debt on to the market all of a sudden once they decided to exit, but that simply does not make sense. Instead, it makes sense for China to dump a bit of debt at a time so that the market will not panic and so that they can get close to full value for the paper that they are holding.
As Bloomberg reported the other day, China dumped nearly 50 billion dollars of U.S. debt during the month of December…
China, the largest foreign U.S. creditor, reduced holdings of U.S. Treasury debt in December by the most in two years as the Federal Reserve announced plans to slow asset purchases.
The nation pared its position in U.S. government bonds by $47.8 billion, or 3.6 percent, to $1.27 trillion, the largest decline since December 2011, according to U.S. Treasury Department data released yesterday.
This is how I would do it if I was China. I would try to dump 30, 40 or 50 billion dollars a month. I would try to make a smooth exit and try to get as much for my U.S. debt paper as I could.
So if China is not going to stockpile U.S. dollars or U.S. debt any longer, what is it going to stockpile?
It is going to stockpile gold of course. In fact, China has been voraciously stockpiling gold for quite some time, and their hunger for gold appears to be growing.
According to Bloomberg, more than 80 percent of the gold that was exported from Switzerland last month went to Asia…
Switzerland sent more than 80 percent of its gold and silver bullion and coin exports to Asia last month, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration said today in an e-mailed report. It imported most from the U.K.
Hong Kong was the top destination at 44 percent on a value basis, with India at 14 percent, the Bern-based customs agency said in its first breakdown of the gold trade data since 1980. Singapore accounted for 8.6 percent of exports, the United Arab Emirates 7.9 percent and China 6.3 percent.
When China imports gold, most of it goes through Hong Kong. We know that imports of gold from Hong Kong into China are at an all-time record high, but we don’t know exactly how much gold China has accumulated at this point because they quit reporting that to the rest of the world a number of years ago.
When it comes to global finance, China is playing chess and the United States is playing checkers. China knows that gold is a universal currency that will hold value over the long-term. As the paper currencies of the world race toward collapse, China could end up holding most of the real money and that would be a huge game changer when they finally reveal that fact…
The announcement of China’s new gold hoard will send shockwaves through the financial markets, and make China and the Chinese yuan (their national currency) even bigger players at the international table.
International banking expert James Rickards compared it to a game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker:
“You want a big pile of chips. The U.S. has a big pile of chips, Europe has a big pile of chips. The U.S. has 8,000 tonnes [metric tons] of gold, 17 members of the euro system have 10,000 tonnes. China at 1,000 tonnes is not a player, but at 5,000 tonnes, they are a player.”
There are some really good points made in the quote above, but I do take exception with a couple of things. First of all, I believe that China now has far more than 5,000 tons of gold. Secondly, I seriously doubt that the U.S. still actually has 8,000 tons of gold or that Europe still actually has 10,000 tons of gold.
As China (and eventually the rest of the world) moves away from a U.S.-based financial system, the consequences are going to be dramatic.
For instance, right now the average rate of interest that the U.S. government pays on debt is just 2.477 percent. That is ridiculously low and it is way below the real rate of inflation. It is simply not rational for anyone to lend the U.S. government money so cheaply, and at some point we are going to see a dramatic shift.
When that day arrives, interest rates are going to rise dramatically. And if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rises to just 6 percent (and it has been much higher than that in the past), we will be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.
Even more frightening is what a rapidly changing interest rate environment would mean for our banking system. There are four large U.S. banks that each have exposure to derivatives in excess of 40 trillion dollars. You can find the identity of those banks right here. Interest rate derivatives make up the biggest chunk of those derivatives contracts. As John Embry told King World News just the other day, when that bubble bursts the carnage is going to be unprecedented…
“Stockman brought up a brilliant point, the fact that we have hundreds of trillions of dollars of interest rate swaps, which are polluting the world’s banking system. If we see growing volatility in interest rates, and I think that’s inevitable with what’s going on, that would cause spasms in the financial system. And if something goes wrong in the derivatives market, Heaven help us because the leverage that is imparted to the banking system through these derivatives is unholy.”
Unfortunately, very few of the “experts” will ever see this crash coming.
Very few of them saw it coming in 2000.
Very few of them saw it coming in 2008.
And very few of them will see it coming this time.
I really like what Paul B. Farrell had to say about this…
Early warnings of a crash are dismissed over and over (“just a temporary correction”). They gradually numb us about the inevitable. Time after time we forget history’s lessons. Until finally a big surprise catches us totally off-guard. Financial historian Niall Ferguson put it this way: Before the crash, our world seems almost stationary, deceptively so, balanced, at a set point. So that when the crash finally hits — as inevitably it will — everyone seems surprised. And our brains keep telling us it’s not time for a crash.
Till then, life just goes along quietly, hypnotizing us, making us vulnerable, till a shocker like Lehman Brothers upsets the balance. Then, says Ferguson, the crash is “accelerating suddenly, like a sports car … like a thief in the night.” It hits. Shocks us wide awake.
Don’t let the upcoming crash take you by surprise.
The warning signs are very clear.
Get ready while you still can.