Global Financial Markets Plunge As The World Watches Japan Descend Into A Nuclear Nightmare

Global financial markets are in turmoil as the situation in Japan continues to deteriorate.  Stock markets are plunging all over the world as investors flock to investments that are considered to be safer.  The 9.0 earthquake and the unprecedented tsunami in Japan would have been more than enough to spook investors and unleash chaos on world financial markets, but now the unfolding nightmare at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility is really starting to cause panic.  Right now there is a mass exodus out of the city of Tokyo.  But not everyone can leave the city.  There are over 30 million people living in and around Tokyo.  So where in the world could you possibly put 30 million refugees?  Sadly, the truth is that millions of Japanese are going to stay in Tokyo no matter how high the radiation gets.  Let us hope that Japanese authorities can get the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility under control, but the fact that they have resorted to dropping water from helicopters and shooting water cannons at these nuclear reactors is not comforting.

World financial markets are certainly not expressing a lot of confidence right now.  This week alone, $300 billion in U.S. stock values have been wiped out.  The Dow Jones industrial average lost about 2 percent of its total value on Wednesday.  The Nikkei 225 stock index has lost about 10 percent of its total value since the beginning of this crisis.  At one point it was down more than 16 percent, but a gigantic monetary injection from the Bank of Japan has helped to stabilize things at least for now.  There are also some that believe that the Japanese government is now directly buying up stocks to keep them from falling even further.

Stock markets across Europe have been plunging as well.  An article posted on the USA Today website described some of the carnage on Wednesday….

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed down 97.05 points, or 1.7% at 5,598.23 while France’s CAC-40 fell 84.29 points, or 2.2%, to 3,696.56. Germany’s DAX ended 133.82 points, or 2%, lower at 6,513.84.

The financial ripples from this crisis are going to be felt for a long, long time.

In order to rebuild Japan, the Japanese government is somehow going to have to borrow massive amounts of money.  But the Japanese national debt was already projected to reach 228 percent of GDP this year.

The Japanese government has become an incredibly bad credit risk, but lowering their credit rating right now would seem to be in very bad taste.  So far, all three major credit rating agencies are taking a “wait and see” approach when it comes to Japan.

Unfortunately, the crisis in Japan is far from over.

The situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility just seems to grow more dire with each passing day.  Right now, the primary concern is the 40 years of spent fuel rods that are stored throughout the complex.

Ed Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, recently explained why the pools that store the spent fuel rods are the biggest problem at this point….

“For the time being, the greatest concern is the spent fuel pools because there is a clear pathway for release of radioactivity from the pools into the environment.”

The phrase “spent fuel rods” may make it sound like they should no longer be a threat, but the truth is that these fuel rods remain extremely hot and extremely radioactive for years after they are done being used.  For some reason, someone thought that it would be a good idea to store these spent fuel rods in huge pools of water near the top of each of the nuclear reactor buildings at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex.

These spent fuel rod pools are not housed in the same kind of containment vessels that the nuclear reactors are.  Therefore there is a much greater danger that radiation from these spent fuel rods could be released into the surrounding environment.

A recent article by Paul Joseph Watson did a great job of explaining just how big of a problem these spent fuel rods represent….

The Fukushima Daiichi plant has seven pools dedicated to spent fuel rods. These are located at the top of six reactor buildings – or were until explosions and fires ravaged the plant. On the ground level there is a common pool in a separate building that was critically damaged by the tsunami. Each reactor building pool holds 3,450 fuel rod assemblies and the common pool holds 6,291 fuel rod assemblies. Each assembly holds sixty-three fuel rods. In short, the Fukushima Daiichi plant contains over 600,000 spent fuel rods – a massive amount of radiation that will soon be released into the atmosphere.

Each of these 600,000 spent fuel rods is a potential “dirty bomb”.

Are you starting to grasp just how serious this all is?

It is absolutely critical that all of these spent fuel rods remain submerged in water.

If the water drops in the spent fuel pools there will be nothing to keep the spent fuel rods cool and they will start to degrade very, very quickly.

Unfortunately, things don’t look good right now.  U.S. authorities today expressed their belief that the spent fuel rods in unit 4 are now exposed and that a great deal of radiation is being released.  In fact, Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, stated during Congressional testimony today that he believes that an extremely high level of radiation is being released by exposed spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility at this point….

We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.

It would be hard to understate the courage of those that are working inside the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility right now. They all likely realize that they are all going to die very quickly. They are laying down their lives in an effort to save their countrymen. According to a recent report from CBS News these workers say that they are not afraid to die….

Although communication with the workers inside the nuclear plant is nearly impossible, a CBS News consultant spoke to a Japanese official who made contact with one of the workers inside the control center.

The official said that his friend told him that he was not afraid to die, that that was his job.

Would all of us respond the same way?

Even the media that are reporting on this disaster in Japan are starting to be affected by this radiation.  Lester Holt revealed this morning that his entire crew had tested positive for radiation after returning from an assignment.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama is acting as if all of this stuff going on in Japan is no big deal. In fact, as Keith Koffler recently observed, Obama seems to be really enjoying himself in the midst of this crisis….

This morning, as Japan’s nuclear crisis enters a potentially catastrophic phase, we are told that Obama is videotaping his NCAA tournament picks and that we’ll be able to tune into ESPN Wednesday to find out who he likes.

Saturday, he made his 61st outing to the golf course as president, and got back to the White House with just enough time for a quick shower before heading out to party with Washington’s elite journalists at the annual Gridiron Dinner.

If you are curious about Obama’s picks for the NCAA tourney, they are posted on the official White House website.

This weekend, the Obamas are headed down to Brazil. According to an article in Forbes, the Obama plan to do a good bit of sightseeing while they are there….

The Obama family will also take in the sights in Rio. A trip to Corcovado mountain, where the Christ the Redeemer statue stands (France gave us Lady Liberty, gave Brazil Jesus) is supposedly on the itinerary. What trip to Rio would be complete without it?

Isn’t it great to see Obama acting like a true leader in the midst of one of the greatest moments of crisis that the world has seen since World War 2?

What in the world is Obama possibly thinking?

One thing about a major crisis is that it reveals the true character of those affected by it.  Many are responding to this crisis in Japan with great acts of courage and heroism.

Others are not rising to the occasion.

Let us just hope and pray that the Japanese figure out a way to get the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex under control.  If a “worst case scenario” happens we could soon be facing an unprecedented nuclear nightmare.

Wars, Rumors Of Wars, Skyrocketing Oil Prices And Global Economic Chaos – Why Is All Of This Happening?

Did anyone out there anticipate that 2011 would be such a wild year?  The year is barely over two months old and we have already seen multiple civil wars erupt, rumors of more wars all over the mainstream media (potentially even including the United States), riots and revolutions breaking out all over the globe, oil prices soaring into the stratosphere and chaos on global financial markets.  So why is all of this happening?  Is all of this one big coincidence or is there a reason why we are witnessing such global chaos right now?  Is it just coincidence that revolutions have broken out in over a dozen countries in the Middle East all at the same time?  Is it just a coincidence that global prices for oil, food and precious metals are all skyrocketing?  Is it just a coincidence that world financial markets suddenly seem more vulnerable than at any time since 2008?  Looking at what is going on in the world right now, it is very tempting to use the phrase “a perfect storm” to describe it.  Unfortunately, this “perfect storm” is very likely to plunge the global economy into yet another financial collapse if it continues to get even worse.

After decades of relative stability, the Middle East has erupted in chaos in 2011.  In the post-World War 2 era, we have never seen a time when there have been so many major internal revolutions all at once.  All of these simultaneous revolutions are driving the price of oil rapidly upwards.

The price of West Texas crude is now over $102 a barrel and the price of Brent crude is now over $116 a barrel and if the chaos in the Middle East continues those numbers are likely to go a lot higher.

Meanwhile, gold has set a new all-time record this week and the price of silver is absolutely exploding.

In fact, just about every kind of “hard asset” that you can possibly name is going up in price.  Investors don’t like all of this instability and they are looking for safe places to put their money.

Unfortunately, the global situation looks like it may become even more heated.

The calls for military action against Libya are rapidly reaching a crescendo.

The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a resolution calling for the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, and many members of Congress are openly declaring that the U.S. and NATO should take unilateral action no matter what the UN ultimately decides.

But implementing a no-fly zone is not a simple thing.  It is not just a matter of telling Libya not to fly their planes.  Rather, imposing a no-fly zone over Libya would constitute a major military operation.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is even admitting that enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya would begin with a huge military strike…..

“Let’s just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses … and then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down.”

U.S. commander General James Mattis made a similar comment on Tuesday….

You would have to remove the air defense capability in order to establish the no-fly zone so it – no illusions here, it would be a military operation.

Essentially, imposing a no-fly zone over Libya would be an act of war.

Most of our representatives in Washington D.C. seem to be quite ready to go to war in Libya, but it is another story entirely when it comes to the American people.  A recent Rasmussen poll found that a whopping 67 percent of Americans do not want the U.S. to get more involved in the unrest going on in Arab countries and only 17 percent of Americans do want the U.S. to get more directly involved.

But the American people don’t get to decide whether we go to war or not.  Our leaders in Washington D.C. do.  The USS Enterprise and other major warships are on their way to Libya, and U.S. forces throughout the Mediterranean are on high alert.

So could the U.S. really get involved in another war in the Middle East?

Well, if the U.S. and NATO choose to get involved they will do it without the approval of the rest of the world.

On Wednesday, the Arab League issued a statement which specifically rejected “any foreign interference within Libya on behalf of the opposition”.

Not only that, but any military action by the UN will most likely be blocked by both China and Russia.

Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, says that any military action against Libya without UN approval would be a violation of international law….

“If someone in Washington is seeking a blitzkrieg in Libya, it is a serious mistake because any use of military force outside the NATO responsibility zone will be considered a violation of international law.”

But Libya is far from the only crisis point in the Middle East.

In fact, a much larger problem may be brewing in Saudi Arabia.

On Facebook, a “Day of Rage” is being hyped for March 11th.  Other dates being promoted for “revolution” in Saudi Arabia include March 20th and March 21st.

But if Saudi Arabia sees the same kind of chaos that we have seen in other countries in the Middle East there is no telling how high the price of oil could go.

Could we see $125 oil?

Could we see $150 oil?

Could we see $200 oil?

Saudi Arabia exports more oil than anyone else in the world, so if their oil production gets interrupted it is going to have a dramatic impact on the global economy.

For example, are you ready to pay 5 dollars for a gallon of gasoline in the United States?

For decades, the entire globe has been blessed with very cheap oil and this has resulted in a massive economic boom.

But times are changing.

The economic situation over in Europe is already deteriorating and any additional bad news could plunge that entire continent into a major crisis.  A recently released report from Ernst & Young is warning that if oil goes up to 150 dollars a barrel and it stays there, “at least” one eurozone country will default and the entire eurozone will be plunged back into recession.

A much higher price for oil would obviously not be good for the U.S. economy either.  Do you remember what happened back in 2008?  The price of oil hit a record high in June and then the entire financial system came unglued just a few months later.

But if we see a repeat of 2008 it may be a lot worse this time because the global financial system is now more unstable than ever.

The truth is that the entire world is still trying to recover from the last financial crisis.  The Federal Reserve is pumping massive quantities of dollars into the U.S. economy in an attempt to stimulate it back to life, but so far it is not working too well.

The rest of the world does not appreciate all of this “money printing” and the inflation that this is causing is beginning to create massive imbalances on global financial markets.

The world is starting to lose faith in the U.S. dollar.  Right now, approximately 85% of all foreign-exchange transactions in the world involve the U.S. dollar.  Not only that, 60% of all the currency reserves in the world are in U.S. dollars.  With the U.S. dollar rapidly becoming less stable, many are now wondering if it should continue to be used as the reserve currency of the world.

The truth is that if the U.S. dollar falls, it is going to create a tremendous amount of financial chaos in almost every nation on the globe.

Unfortunately, as I have written about so many times previously, the U.S. economy is dying.  The U.S. government is absolutely drowning in debt, and leaders all over the planet are calling for the establishment of a new global reserve currency.

The days of the United States being the “economic engine of the planet” are rapidly coming to an end.

The U.S. economy is not ever going to fully “recover”.  In fact, the U.S. economy is basically “running on empty” at this point as Gerald Celente recently noted during an interview on RT television….

The entire U.S. economy was designed to operate on massive amounts of very cheap oil.  Americans do more driving than anyone else in the world.  Many of us are so lazy that we won’t even walk to a store if it is on the other side of the parking lot.

If oil hits record levels in 2011, it is going to be a massive shock to the U.S. economic system.  Any hopes for an “economic recovery” will be completely dashed.

In fact, if one wanted to “take down” the U.S. economy, driving up the price of oil would be a perfect way to do it.

And if one wanted to drive up the price of oil, a perfect way to do that would be to create all kinds of chaos in the Middle East.

So is all of this craziness that we are seeing in 2011 just a big coincidence or is there a reason why all of this is happening?

Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the matter below….

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