As bad as the month of January was for the global economy, the truth is that the rest of 2016 promises to be much worse. Layoffs are increasing at a pace that we haven’t seen since the last recession, major retailers are shutting down hundreds of locations, corporate profit margins are plunging, global trade is slowing down dramatically, and several major European banks are in the process of completely imploding. I am about to share some numbers with you that are truly eye-popping. Each one by itself would be reason for concern, but when you put all of the pieces together it creates a picture that is hard to deny. The global economy is in crisis, and this is going to have very serious implications for the financial markets moving forward. U.S. stocks just had their worst January in seven years, and if I am right much worse is still yet to come this year. The following are 22 signs that the global economic turmoil that we have seen so far in 2016 is just the beginning…
1. The number of job cuts in the United States skyrocketed 218 percent during the month of January according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
2. The Baltic Dry Index just hit yet another brand new all-time record low. As I write this article, it is sitting at 303.
3. U.S. factory orders have now dropped for 14 months in a row.
4. In the U.S., the Restaurant Performance Index just fell to the lowest level that we have seen since 2008.
5. In January, orders for class 8 trucks (the big trucks that you see shipping stuff around the country on our highways) declined a whopping 48 percent from a year ago.
6. Rail traffic is also slowing down substantially. In Colorado, there are hundreds of train engines that are just sitting on the tracks with nothing to do.
7. Corporate profit margins peaked during the third quarter of 2014 and have been declining steadily since then. This usually happens when we are heading into a recession.
8. A series of extremely disappointing corporate quarterly reports is sending stock after stock plummeting. Here is a summary from Zero Hedge of a few examples that we have just witnessed…
- SHARES OF LIONS GATE ENTERTAINMENT FALL 5 PCT IN EXTENDED TRADE AFTER QUARTERLY RESULTS – RTRS
- TABLEAU SOFTWARE SHARES TUMBLE 40 PCT IN AFTER HOURS TRADING – RTRS
- YRC WORLDWIDE SHARES DOWN 16.4 PCT AFTER THE BALL FOLLOWING RESULTS – RTRS
- SPLUNK INC SHARES DOWN 7.6 PCT IN AFTER HOURS TRADING – RTRS
- LINKEDIN SHARES EXTEND DECLINE, DOWN 24 PCT AFTER RESULTS, GUIDANCE – RTRS
- HANESBRANDS SHARES FURTHER ADD TO LOSSES IN EXTENDED TRADE, LAST DOWN 14.9 PCT – RTRS
- OUTERWALL SHARES FALL 11 PCT IN EXTENDED TRADING AFTER QUARTERLY RESULTS – RTRS
- GENWORTH SHARES DOWN 16.5 PCT AFTER THE BELL FOLLOWING RESULTS, RESTRUCTURING PLAN
9. Junk bonds continue to crash on Wall Street. On Monday, JNK was down to 32.60 and HYG was down to 77.99.
10. On Thursday, a major British news source publicly named five large European banks that are considered to be in very serious danger…
Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Santander, Barclays and RBS are among the stocks that are falling sharply sending shockwaves through the financial world, according to former hedge fund manager and ex Goldman Sachs employee Raoul Pal.
11. Deutsche Bank is the biggest bank in Germany and it has more exposure to derivatives than any other bank in the world. Unfortunately, Deutsche Bank credit default swaps are now telling us that there is deep turmoil at the bank and that a complete implosion may be imminent.
12. Last week, we learned that Deutsche Bank had lost a staggering 6.8 billion euros in 2015. If you will recall, I warned about massive problems at Deutsche Bank all the way back in September. The most important bank in Germany is exceedingly troubled, and it could end up being for the EU what Lehman Brothers was for the United States.
13. Credit Suisse just announced that it will be eliminating 4,000 jobs.
14. Royal Dutch Shell has announced that it is going to be eliminating 10,000 jobs.
15. Caterpillar has announced that it will be closing 5 plants and getting rid of 670 workers.
16. Yahoo has announced that it is going to be getting rid of 15 percent of its total workforce.
17. Johnson & Johnson has announced that it is slashing its workforce by 3,000 jobs.
18. Sprint just laid off 8 percent of its workforce and GoPro is letting go 7 percent of its workers.
19. All over America, retail stores are shutting down at a staggering pace. The following list comes from one of my previous articles…
-Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, including 154 inside the United States.
-K-Mart is closing down more than two dozen stores over the next several months.
-J.C. Penney will be permanently shutting down 47 more stores after closing a total of 40 stores in 2015.
-Macy’s has decided that it needs to shutter 36 stores and lay off approximately 2,500 employees.
-The Gap is in the process of closing 175 stores in North America.
-Aeropostale is in the process of closing 84 stores all across America.
-Finish Line has announced that 150 stores will be shutting down over the next few years.
-Sears has shut down about 600 stores over the past year or so, but sales at the stores that remain open continue to fall precipitously.
20. According to the New York Times, the Chinese economy is facing a mountain of bad loans that “could exceed $5 trillion“.
21. Japan has implemented a negative interest rate program in a desperate attempt to try to get banks to make more loans.
22. The global economy desperately needs the price of oil to go back up, but Morgan Stanley says that we will not see $80 oil again until 2018.
It is not difficult to see where the numbers are trending.
Last week, I told my wife that I thought that Marco Rubio was going to do better than expected in Iowa.
How did I come to that conclusion?
It was simply based on how his poll numbers were trending.
And when you look at where global economic numbers are trending, they tell us that 2016 is going to be a year that is going to get progressively worse as it goes along.
So many of the exact same things that we saw happen in 2008 are happening again right now, and you would have to be blind not to see it.
Hopefully I am wrong about what is coming in our immediate future, because millions upon millions of Americans are not prepared for what is ahead, and most of them are going to get absolutely blindsided by the coming crisis.
For the first time ever, the Baltic Dry Index has fallen under 400. As I write this article, it is sitting at 394. To be honest, I never even imagined that it could go this low. Back in early August, the Baltic Dry Index was sitting at 1,222, and since then it has been on a steady decline. Of course the Baltic Dry Index crashed hard just before the great stock market crash of 2008 too, but at this point it is already lower than it was during that entire crisis. This is just more evidence that global trade is grinding to a halt and that 2016 is going to be a “cataclysmic year” for the global economy.
If you are not familiar with the Baltic Dry Index, here is a helpful definition from Wikipedia…
The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) is an economic indicator issued daily by the London-based Baltic Exchange. Not restricted to Baltic Sea countries, the index provides “an assessment of the price of moving the major raw materials by sea. Taking in 23 shipping routes measured on a timecharter basis, the index covers Handysize, Supramax, Panamax, and Capesize dry bulk carriers carrying a range of commodities including coal, iron ore and grain.”
The BDI is one of the key indicators that experts look at when they are trying to determine where the global economy is heading. And right now, it is telling us that we are heading into a major worldwide economic downturn.
Some people try to dismiss the recent drop in the Baltic Dry Index by claiming that shipping rates are down because there is simply too much capacity out there these days. And I don’t dispute that. Without a doubt, too many vessels were built during the “boom years”, and now shipbuilders are paying the price. For example, Chinese shipyards reported a 59 percent decline in orders during the first 11 months of 2015…
Total orders at Chinese shipyards tumbled 59 percent in the first 11 months of 2015, according to data released Dec. 15 by the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry. Builders have sought government support as excess vessel capacity drives down shipping rates and prompts customers to cancel contracts. Zhoushan Wuzhou Ship Repairing & Building Co. last month became the first state-owned shipbuilder to go bankrupt in a decade.
But that doesn’t explain everything. The truth is that exports are way down all over the world. China, the United States, South Korea and many other major exporting nations have all been reporting extremely dismal export numbers. Global trade is contracting quite rapidly, and I don’t see how anyone could possibly dispute that.
The global economy is a mess, but many people are not paying any attention to the economic fundamentals because they are too busy looking at the stock market.
The stock market does not tell us how the economy is doing. If the stock market is up today that does not mean that the economy is doing well, and if the stock market is down tomorrow that does not mean that it is doing poorly.
Yes, the health of the financial markets can greatly affect the overall economy. We saw this back in 2008. When there is a tremendous amount of panic, that can cause a credit crunch and make it very difficult for money to flow through our system. The end result is a rapid slowdown of economic activity, and it is something that we will be experiencing again very soon.
But don’t let the day to day fluctuations of the stock market fool you. Just because the Dow was up 227 points today does not mean that the crisis is over. It is important to remember that stocks are not going to go down every single day. On Thursday, the Dow didn’t even regain two-thirds of what it lost on Wednesday. Even in bear markets there are up days, and some of the biggest up days in stock market history were right in the middle of the crash of 2008.
It is critical that we take a long-term view of things and not let our vision be clouded by every tick up and down in the financial markets. Initial jobless claims just hit their highest level in about six months, and companies like Macy’s and GoPro are laying off thousands of workers. Things are already bad, and they are rapidly getting worse.
And let us not forget the great amount of financial carnage that has already happened so far this year. According to CNBC, approximately 3.2 trillion dollars of stock market wealth was wiped out globally during the first 13 days of 2016…
Almost $3.2 trillion has been wiped off the value of stocks around the world since the start of 2016, according to calculations by a top market analyst.
It has also been the worst-ever start to a year for U.S. equities, said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, as both the S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average have posted their steepest losses for the first eight days trading of a year.
Over the past six months, there have now been two 10 percent “corrections” for U.S. stocks. The only other times we have seen multiple corrections like this were in 1929, 2000 and 2008. If those years seem familiar to you, that is because they should. In all three years, we witnessed historic stock market crashes.
The stunning collapse of the Baltic Dry Index is just more evidence that we have entered a global deflationary crisis. Goods aren’t moving, unemployment is rising all over the planet, and commodity prices have fallen to levels that we have not seen in over a decade.
Around the globe, there have been dramatic stock market crashes to begin the year, and we should expect to see much more market turmoil during the weeks and months to come.
If the markets have calmed down a bit for the moment, we should be very thankful for that, because we could all use some additional time to prepare for what is coming.
The debt-fueled standard of living that so many of us are enjoying today is just an illusion. And many of us won’t even understand what we have been taking for granted until it is taken away from us.
A great shaking is coming to the global economy, and the pain is going to be unimaginable. So let us enjoy every single day of relative “normalcy” while we still can, because there aren’t too many of them left.
If you have a bank account anywhere in Europe, you need to read this article. On January 1st, 2016, a new bail-in system will go into effect for all European banks. This new system is based on the Cyprus bank bail-ins that we witnessed a few years ago. If you will remember, money was grabbed from anyone that had more than 100,000 euros in their bank accounts in order to bail out the banks. Now the exact same principles that were used in Cyprus are going to apply to all of Europe. And with the entire global financial system teetering on the brink of chaos, that is not good news for those that have large amounts of money stashed in shaky European banks.
Below, I have shared part of an announcement about this new bail-in system that comes directly from the official website of the European Parliament. I want you to notice that they explicitly say that “unsecured depositors would be affected last”. What they really mean is that any time a bank in Europe fails, they are going to come after private bank accounts once the shareholders and bond holders have been wiped out. So if you have more than 100,000 euros in a European bank right now, you are potentially on the hook when that bank goes under…
The directive establishes a bail-in system which will ensure that taxpayers will be last in the line to the pay the bills of a struggling bank. In a bail-in, creditors, according to a pre-defined hierarchy, forfeit some or all of their holdings to keep the bank alive. The bail-in system will apply from 1 January 2016.
The bail-in tool set out in the directive would require shareholders and bond holders to take the first big hits. Unsecured depositors (over €100,000) would be affected last, in many cases even after the bank-financed resolution fund and the national deposit guarantee fund in the country where it is located have stepped in to help stabilise the bank. Smaller depositors would in any case be explicitly excluded from any bail-in.
And as we have seen in the past, these rules can change overnight in the midst of a major crisis.
So they may be promising that those with under 100,000 euros will be safe right now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be true.
It is also important to note that there has been a really big hurry to get all of this in place by January 1. In fact, at the end of October the European Commission actually sued six nations that had not yet passed legislation adopting the new bail-in rules…
The European Commission is taking legal action against member states including the Netherlands and Luxembourg, after they failed to implement rules protecting European taxpayers from funding billions in bank rescues.
Six countries will be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for their continued failure to transpose the EU’s “bail-in” laws into national legislation, the European Commission said on Thursday.
So why was the European Commission in such a rush?
Is there some particular reason why January 1 is so important?
This is something that I will be watching.
Meanwhile, there have been major changes in the U.S. as well. The Federal Reserve recently adopted a new rule that limits what it can do to bail out the “too big to fail” banks. The following comes from CNN…
The Federal Reserve is cutting its lifeline to big banks in financial trouble.
The Fed officially adopted a new rule Monday that limits its ability to lend emergency money to banks.
In theory, the new rule should quash the notion that Wall Street banks are “too big to fail.”
If this new rule had been in effect during the last financial crisis, the Federal Reserve would not have been able to bail out AIG or Bear Stearns. As a result, the final outcome of the last crisis may have been far different. Here is more from CNN…
Under the new rule, banks that are going bankrupt — or appear to be going bankrupt — can no longer receive emergency funds from the Fed under any circumstances.
If the rule had been in place during the financial crisis, it would have prevented the Fed from lending to insurance giant AIG (AIG) and Bear Stearns, Fed chair Janet Yellen points out.
So if the Federal Reserve does not bail out these big financial institutions during the next crisis, what is going to happen?
Will we see European-style “bail-ins” when large banks start failing?
And exactly what would such a “bail-in” look like?
Earlier this year, I discussed the concept of 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.
Many Americans assume that when they put money in the bank that they have a right to go back and get “their money” whenever they want. But if we all went to the bank at the same time, there wouldn’t be nearly enough money for all of us. The reason for this is that the banks only keep a small fraction of our money on hand to satisfy the demands of those that conduct withdrawals on a day to day basis. The banks take the rest of the money that we have deposited and use it however they think is best.
If you have money at a bank that goes under, that bank will still be obligated to pay you back, but it may not be able to do so. This is where the FDIC comes in. The FDIC supposedly guarantees the safety of deposits in member banks, but at any given time it only has a very, very small amount of money on hand.
If some major crisis comes along that causes banks all over the United States to start falling like dominoes, the FDIC will be in panic mode. During such a scenario, the FDIC would be forced to ask Congress for a massive amount of money, and since we already run a giant deficit every year the government would have to borrow whatever funds would be required.
Personally, I find it very interesting that we have seen major rule changes in Europe and at the Federal Reserve just as we are entering a new global financial crisis.
Do they know something that the rest of us do not?
Be very careful with your money, because I am convinced that “bank bail-ins” will soon be making front page headlines all over the world.
If the stock market crash of last Thursday and Friday had all happened on one day, it would have been the 7th largest single day decline in U.S. history. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 367 points after finishing down 253 points on Thursday. The overall decline of 620 points between the two days would have been the 7th largest single day stock market crash ever experienced in the United States if it had happened within just one trading day. If you will remember, this is precisely what I warned would happen if the Federal Reserve raised interest rates. But when news of the rate hike first came out on Wednesday, stocks initially jumped. This didn’t make any sense at all, and personally I was absolutely stunned that the markets had behaved so irrationally. But then we saw that on Thursday and Friday the markets did exactly what we thought they would do. The chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, David Rosenberg, is calling the brief rally on Wednesday “a head-fake of enormous proportions“, and analysts all over Wall Street are bracing for what could be another very challenging week ahead.
When the Federal Reserve decided to lift interest rates, they made a colossal error. You don’t raise interest rates when a global financial crisis has already started. That is absolutely suicidal. It is the kind of thing that you would do if you were trying to bring down the global financial system on purpose.
Surely the “experts” at the Federal Reserve can see what is happening. Junk bonds have already crashed, just like they did in 2008. The price of oil has crashed, just like it did in 2008. Commodity prices have crashed, just like they did in 2008. And more than half of all major global stock market indexes are already down at least 10 percent for the year so far.
You don’t raise interest rates in that kind of an environment.
You would have to be utterly insane to do so.
The Federal Reserve has thrown fuel onto a global financial inferno that is already raging, and things could spiral out of control very rapidly.
As far as this upcoming week is concerned, we have now entered “liquidation season”. Investors are going to be pulling their money out of poorly performing hedge funds before the end of the calendar year, and as CNBC has pointed out, more hedge funds have already failed in 2015 than at any point since the last financial crisis…
Liquidation season occurs when clients of poorly performing hedge funds ask for their money back. It tends to occur at the end of a quarter or year. In response, hedge funds must sell stocks in the open market to raise the money that needs to be returned to investors.
That means if a hedge fund performed poorly this year; it is probably flooded with liquidation requests right now. In fact, there have been more failed hedge funds this year than any time since 2008.
The dominoes are starting to fall. We have already seen funds run by Third Avenue Management, Stone Lion Capital Partners and Lucidus Capital Partners collapse. Amazingly, there are some people out there that are still attempting to claim that “nothing is happening” even in the midst of all of this chaos.
As they say, “denial” is not just a river in Egypt.
And this crisis is going to get even worse as we head into 2016. Egon von Greyerz, the founder of Matterhorn Asset Management, is convinced that we will soon see “one disaster after another”…
Greyerz predicts, “I think we will have one disaster after another, first in the junk bond market, then in emerging markets and, after that, the subprime markets. Subprime car loans and student loans I see as another massive problem area. It is going to be one thing after another that will unravel. Since 2008, when the world almost went under, we have printed or increased credit by 50% or by $70 trillion, and the world economy is still struggling to survive. I think the real change in confidence will come down when markets come down. . . . I think things will come down very quickly.”
And I think that he is right on target. The global financial system is more interconnected today than ever before, and when one financial institution fails, it inevitably affects dozens of others. And the failures that we have already seen are already spreading a wave of fear and panic that may be difficult to stop. The following comes from Business Insider, and I think that it is a pretty good explanation of what we could see next…
- Funds such as Third Avenue and Lucidus close, liquidating their portfolios.
- Investors, spooked by the closures and the risk that they might not be able to get their money out of these funds, make a rush for the exits while they still can.
- That creates even more selling pressure.
- Funds sell the assets that are easiest to sell as they look to reduce risk, which pushes the selling pressure from the risky parts of the market to the higher-quality part of the market.
- Things evolve from there.
If you have been waiting for the next financial crisis to arrive, you can stop, because it is already unfolding right in front of our eyes.
The only question is how bad it is going to become.
In the final analysis, I find myself agreeing quite a bit with Charles Hugh Smith, the author of “A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All“. He believes that the ridiculous monetary policies of the Federal Reserve have played a primary role in setting the stage for this new crisis, and that now this giant financial “Death Star” that they have created “is about to blow up”…
By slashing rates to zero, the Fed ruthlessly eliminating safe returns for savers, pension funds, insurers and the millions of people with 401K retirement nesteggs. In effect, the Fed-Farce has pushed everyone into risk assets–and then played another Dark Side mind-trick by masking the true dangers of these risky assets.
As oil-sector debt blows up, as junk bonds blow up, and emerging markets blow up, we are finally starting to see the real costs of going over to the Dark Side of endless credit expansion and throwing the gasoline of near-zero interest rates on the speculative fires of financialization.
The Fed’s hubris has led it to the Dark Side, and now its Death Star of impaired debt, phantom collateral, speculative frenzy and bogus mind-tricks is about to blow up.
Personally, instead of saying that it “is about to blow up”, I would have said that it is already blowing up.
We have already seen trillions upon trillions of dollars of wealth wiped out around the world.
Energy companies are failing, giant hedge funds are going under, and the 7th largest economy on the entire planet has already plunged into “an outright depression“.
Everyone that warned of financial disaster in the second half of 2015 has been proven right, but this is just the beginning. Now that the Federal Reserve has thrown gasoline onto the fire, our problems are only going to accelerate as we head into 2016.
So for the upcoming year, let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.
On Monday, the price of U.S. oil dropped below 38 dollars a barrel for the first time in six years. The last time the price of oil was this low, the global financial system was melting down and the U.S. economy was experiencing the worst recession that it had seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. As I write this article, the price of U.S. oil is sitting at $37.65. For months, I have been warning that the crash in the price of oil would be extremely deflationary and would have severe consequences for the global economy. Nations such as Japan, Canada, Brazil and Russia have already plunged into recession, and more than half of all major global stock market indexes are down at least 10 percent year to date. The first major global financial crisis since 2009 has begun, and things are only going to get worse as we head into 2016.
The global head of oil research at Societe Generale, Mike Wittner, says that his “head is spinning” after the stunning drop in the price of oil on Monday. Just like during the last financial crisis, we have broken the psychologically important 40 dollar barrier, and there are concerns that we could go much lower from here…
One analyst told CNBC that he believes that we could soon see the price of U.S. oil go all the way down to 32 dollars a barrel…
“We’re in a tug-of-war between a heavily shorted market and a glut of oil in the U.S. and globally, as Saudi Arabia continues to produce oil at elevated levels to maintain market share,” said Chris Jarvis at Caprock Risk Management, an energy markets consultancy in Frederick, Maryland.
“Couple this with a strengthening dollar as the market anticipates a U.S. rate hike this month, oil is heading lower with a near term target of $32 for WTI.”
Analysts at Goldman Sachs are even more pessimistic than that. According to Business Insider, they are saying that we could eventually see the price of oil go below 20 dollars a barrel…
At OPEC’s meeting on Friday, member countries decided to set its production level at 31.5 million barrels per day, and did not agree on what the new limit should be.
After OPEC’s meeting, commodity strategists at Goldman put out a note saying that oil prices could plunge another 50% in the coming months, as the oil market tries to rebalance the supply and demand situation.
That may sound really good to you, especially if you fill up your gas tank frequently. But the truth is that plunging oil prices are exceedingly bad for the U.S. economy as a whole. In recent years, the energy industry has been the primary engine for the creation of good jobs in this country, and now those firms are having to lay off people at a frightening pace. Not only that, CNBC’s Jim Cramer is warning that many of these firms may actually start going under if the price of oil doesn’t start going back up soon…
“This is not ‘longer and lower;’ this is ‘longer and much lower.’ There’s companies that are not going to be able to fund with futures; there’re companies that are not going to be able to get credit,” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street.”
Cramer made his remarks after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided not to lower production on Friday.
“This was a devastating blow for the U.S. oil industry,” Cramer said.
On Monday, we witnessed another benchmark that we have not seen since the last financial crisis.
I watch a high yield bond ETF known as JNK very closely. On Monday, JNK broke below 35 for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008. Just like 40 dollar oil, this is a key psychological barrier.
So why is this important?
As I discussed last week, junk bonds crashed before stocks did in 2008, and now it is happening again. If form holds true, we should expect U.S. stocks to start tumbling significantly very shortly.
Meanwhile, another notable expert has come forward with a troubling forecast for the global economy in 2016. Just like Citigroup, Raoul Pal believes that there is a very significant chance that we will see a recession next year…
Former global macro fund manager Raoul Pal says there’s now a 65% chance of a global recession.
In July, Pal predicted that the Institute of Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing index would break the key level of 50 late in 2015.
On December 1, the ISM broke the 50 level for the first time since the 2008 recession, reaching 48.6.
“I use the ISM as a guide to the global business cycle, not just the US cycle,” Pal told Business Insider.
What amazes me is that so many people out there cannot see what is happening even though the next great crisis has already started. The evidence is all around us, and yet so many choose to be willingly blind.
Instead of fixing our problems after the last crisis, we just papered them over with lots of money printing and lots more debt. And of course all of this manipulation just made our long-term problems even worse. I really like how Peter Schiff put it recently…
What’s happening is pretty much what we would anticipate. I don’t see from the data any real economic recovery, certainly not in the United States.
We’re spending more money, but it’s not because we’re generating more wealth. We’re generating more debt. We’re using that borrowed money to consume and so temporarily it feels that we’re wealthier because we get to spend all that money… but we have to come to terms with paying the bill.
The bills are going to come due. Right now interest rates are being kept at zero which makes it possible to service the debt even though it’s impossible to repay it… at least we can service it. But once interest rates go up then we can’t even service it let alone repay it.
And then the party is going to come to an end.
Indeed – the party is coming to an end, and a new financial crisis is playing out in textbook fashion right in front of our eyes.
Hopefully you are already prepared for what is coming next, because it is going to be extremely painful for the U.S. economy.
Economic activity is slowing down all over the planet, and a whole host of signs are indicating that we are essentially exactly where we were just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008. Yesterday, I explained that the economies of Japan, Brazil, Canada and Russia are all in recession. Today, I am mainly going to focus on the United States. We are seeing so many things happen right now that we have not seen since 2008 and 2009. In so many ways, it is almost as if we are watching an eerie replay of what happened the last time around, and yet most of the “experts” still appear to be oblivious to what is going on. If you were to make up a checklist of all of the things that you would expect to see just before a major stock market crash, virtually all of them are happening right now. The following are 11 critical indicators that are absolutely screaming that the global economic crisis is getting deeper…
#1 On Tuesday, the price of oil closed below 40 dollars a barrel. Back in 2008, the price of oil crashed below 40 dollars a barrel just before the stock market collapsed, and now it has happened again.
#2 The price of copper has plunged all the way down to $2.04. The last time it was this low was just before the stock market crash of 2008.
#3 The Business Roundtable’s forecast for business investment in 2016 has dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since the last recession.
#4 Corporate debt defaults have risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession. This is a huge problem because corporate debt in the U.S. has approximately doubled since just before the last financial crisis.
#5 The Bloomberg U.S. economic surprise index is more negative right now than it was at any point during the last recession.
#6 Credit card data that was just released shows that holiday sales have gone negative for the first time since the last recession.
#7 As I mentioned yesterday, U.S. manufacturing is contracting at the fastest pace that we have seen since the last recession.
#8 The velocity of money in the United States has dropped to the lowest level ever recorded. Not even during the depths of the last recession was it ever this low.
#9 In 2008, commodity prices crashed just before the stock market did, and late last month the Bloomberg Commodity Index hit a 16 year low.
#10 In the past, stocks have tended to crash about 12-18 months after a peak in corporate profit margins. At this point, we are 15 months after the most recent peak.
#11 If you look back at 2008, you will see that junk bonds crashed horribly. Why this is important is because junk bonds started crashing before stocks did, and right now they have dropped to the lowest point that they have been since the last financial crisis.
If just one or two of these indicators were flashing red, that would be bad enough.
The fact that all of them seem to be saying the exact same thing tells us that big trouble is ahead.
And I am not the only one saying this. Just today, a Reuters article discussed the fact that Citigroup analysts are projecting that there is a 65 percent chance that the U.S. economy will plunge into recession in 2016…
The outlook for the global economy next year is darkening, with a U.S. recession and China becoming the first major emerging market to slash interest rates to zero both potential scenarios, according to Citi.
As the U.S. economy enters its seventh year of expansion following the 2008-09 crisis, the probability of recession will reach 65 percent, Citi’s rates strategists wrote in their 2016 outlook published late on Tuesday. A rapid flattening of the bond yield curve towards inversion would be an key warning sign.
Personally, I am convinced that we are already in a recession. There is a lag in the official numbers, so often we don’t know that we are officially in one until it is well underway. For example, we now know that a recession started in early 2008, but in the summer of 2008 Ben Bernanke and our top politicians were still insisting that there was not going to be a recession. They were denying what was actually happening right in front of their eyes, and the same thing is happening now.
And of course if the government was actually using honest numbers, we would all be talking about the recession that never seems to end. According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, honest numbers would show that the U.S. economy has continually been in recession since 2005.
But just like in 2008, the “experts” at the Federal Reserve are assuring all of us that everything is going to be just fine. In fact, Janet Yellen is convinced that things are so rosy that she seems quite confident that the Fed will raise interest rates in December…
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signaled Wednesday that the Fed is all but certain to raise interest rates this month for the first time in nearly a decade, saying that gains in the economy and labor market have met the central bank’s goals.
Her comments at the Economic Club of Washington amount to the strongest indication the Fed has provided so far that it will take action at a December 15-16 meeting.
This is the exact same kind of mistake that the Federal Reserve made back in the late 1930s. They thought that the U.S. economy was finally recovering, and so interest rates were raised. That turned out to be a tragic mistake.
But this time around, any mistake that the Fed makes will have global consequences. The rising U.S. dollar is already crippling emerging markets all around the globe, and an interest rate hike will just push the U.S. dollar even higher. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “The U.S. Dollar Has Already Caused A Global Recession And Now The Fed Is Going To Make It Worse“.
Many people are waiting for “the big crash”, but the truth is that almost everything has crashed already.
Oil has crashed.
Commodities have crashed.
Gold and silver have crashed.
Junk bonds have crashed.
Chinese stocks have crashed.
Dozens of other stock markets around the world have already crashed.
But the “big event” that many are waiting for is the crash of U.S. stocks. And just like in 2008, it is inevitable that a U.S. stock crash will follow all of the other crashes that I just mentioned.
Sometimes I get criticized for issuing these kinds of alarms. But just think of how many people could have been helped if they would have known that the financial crisis of 2008 was going to happen ahead of time.
The exact same patterns that we experienced back then are playing out once again right in front of our eyes, and the more people that we can warn in advance the better.
When the global economy is doing well, the amount of stuff that is imported and exported around the world goes up, and when the global economy is in recession, the amount of stuff that is imported and exported around the world goes down. It is just basic economics. Governments around the world have become very adept at manipulating other measures of economic activity such as GDP, but the trade numbers are more difficult to fudge. Today, China accounts for more global trade than anyone else on the entire planet, and we have just learned that Chinese exports and Chinese imports are both collapsing right now. But this is just part of a larger trend. As I discussed the other day, British banking giant HSBC has reported that total global trade is down 8.4 percent so far in 2015, and global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars is down 3.4 percent. The only other times global trade has plummeted this much has been during other global recessions, and it appears that this new downturn is only just beginning.
For many years, China has been leading the revolution in global trade. But now we are witnessing something that is almost unprecedented. Chinese exports are falling, and Chinese imports are absolutely imploding…
Growth of exports from China has been dropping relentlessly, for years. Now this “growth” has actually turned negative. In September, exports were down 3.7% from a year earlier, the “inevitable fallout from China’s unsustainable and poorly executed credit splurge,” as Thomson Reuters’ Alpha Now puts it. Most of these exports are manufactured goods that are shipped by container to the rest of the world.
And imports into China – a mix of bulk and containerized freight – have been plunging: down 20.4% in September from a year earlier, after at a 13.8% drop in August.
This week it was announced that Chinese GDP growth had fallen to the lowest level since the last recession, and that makes sense. Global economic activity is really slowing down, and this is deeply affecting China.
So what about the United States?
Well, based on the amount of stuff that is being shipped around in our country it appears that our economy is really slowing down too. The following comes from Wolf Richter, and I shared some of it in a previous article, but I think that it bears repeating…
September is in the early phase of the make-or-break holiday shipping season. Shipments usually increase from August to September. They did this year too. The number of shipments in September inched up 1.7% from August, according to the Cass Freight Index.
But the index was down 1.5% from an already lousy September last year, when shipments had fallen from the prior month, instead of rising. And so, in terms of the number of shipments, it was the worst September since 2010.
It has been crummy all year: With the exception of January and February, the shipping volume has been lower year-over-year every month!
The index is broad. It tracks data from shippers, no matter what carrier they choose, whether truck, rail, or air, and includes carriers like FedEx and UPS.
What major retailers such as Wal-Mart are reporting also confirms that we are in a major economic slowdown. Wal-Mart recently announced that its earnings would fall by as much as 12 percent during the next fiscal year, and that caused Wal-Mart stock to drop by the most in 27 years.
And of course this is going to have a huge ripple effect. There are thousands of other companies that do business with Wal-Mart, and Reuters is reporting that they are starting to get squeezed…
Suppliers of everything from groceries to sports equipment are already being squeezed for price cuts and cost sharing by Wal-Mart Stores. Now they are bracing for the pressure to ratchet up even more after a shock earnings warning from the retailer last week.
The discount store behemoth has always had a reputation for demanding lower prices from vendors but Reuters has learned from interviews with suppliers and consultants, as well as reviewing some contracts, that even by its standards Wal-Mart has been turning up the heat on them this year.
“The ground is shaking here,” said Cameron Smith, head of Cameron Smith & Associates, a major recruiting firm for suppliers located close to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. “Suppliers are going to have to help Wal-Mart get back on track.”
Similar things are going on at some of the other biggest companies in America as well.
For instance, things have gotten so bad for McDonald’s that one franchise owner recently stated that the restaurant chain is “facing its final days”…
“McDonald’s announced in April that it would be closing 700 ‘underperforming’ locations, but because of the company’s sheer size — it has 14,300 locations in the United States alone — this was not necessarily a reduction in the size of the company, especially because it continues to open locations around the world. It still has more than double the locations of Burger King, its closest competitor.”
However, for the franchisees, the picture looks much worse than simply 700 stores closing down.
“We are in the throes of a deep depression, and nothing is changing,” a franchise owner wrote in response to a financial survey by Nomura Group. “Probably 30% of operators are insolvent.” One owner went as far as to speculate that McDonald’s is literally “facing its final days.”
Why would things be so bad at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s if the economy was “recovering”?
Come on now – let’s use some common sense here.
All of the numbers are screaming at us that we have entered a major economic downturn and that it is accelerating.
CNBC is reporting that the number of job openings in the U.S. is falling and that the number of layoffs is rising…
Job openings fell 5.3 percent in August, while a 2.6 percent rise in layoffs and discharges offset a 0.3 percent gain in hires. Finally, the amount of quits — or what Convergex calls its “take this job and shove it” indicator because it shows the percentage of workers who left positions voluntarily — fell to 56.6 percent from 57.1 percent, indicating less confidence in mobility.
And as I discussed the other day, Challenger Gray is reporting that we are seeing layoffs at major firms at a level that we have not witnessed since 2009.
We already have 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now. As this emerging worldwide recession deepens, a lot more Americans are going to lose their jobs. That is going to cause the poverty and suffering in this country to spike even more, if you can imagine that.
Just consider what authorities discovered on the streets of Philadelphia just this week…
Support is flooding in for a homeless Philadelphia family whose two-year-old son was found wandering alone in a park in the middle of the night.
Angelique Roland, 27, and Michael Jones, 24, were sleeping with their children behind cardboard boxes underneath the Fairmount Park Welcome Center in Love Park when the toddler slipped away.
The boy was found just before midnight and handed over to a nearby Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority police officer, who took him to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
He was wearing a green, long sleeve shirt, black running pants and had a diaper on, but did not have shoes or socks.
Could you imagine sleeping on the streets and not even being able to provide your two-year-old child with shoes and socks?
These numbers that I write about every day are not a game. They affect all of us on a very personal level.
Just like in 2008 and 2009, millions of Americans that are living a very comfortable middle class lifestyle today will soon lose their jobs and will end up out in the streets.
In fact, there will be people that will read this article that this will happen to.
So no, none of us should be excited that the global economy is collapsing. There is already so much pain all around us, and what is to come is beyond what most of us would even dare to imagine.