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Top Financial Expert Warns Stocks Need To Drop ‘Between 30 And 40 Percent’ As Bankruptcy Looms For Toys R Us

Will there be a major stock market crash before the end of 2017?  To many of us, it seems like we have been waiting for this ridiculous stock market bubble to burst for a very long time.  The experts have been warning us over and over again that stocks cannot keep going up like this indefinitely, and yet this market has seemed absolutely determined to defy the laws of economics.  But most people don’t remember that we went through a similar thing before the financial crisis of 2008 as well.  I recently spoke to an investor that shorted the market three years ahead of that crash.  In the end his long-term analysis was right on the money, but his timing was just a bit off, and the same thing will be true with many of the experts this time around.

On Monday, I was quite stunned to learn what Brad McMillan had just said about the market.  He is considered to be one of the brightest minds in the financial world, and he told CNBC that stocks would need to fall “somewhere between 30 and 40 percent just to get to fair value”…

Brad McMillan — who counsels independent financial advisors representing $114 billion in assets under management — told CNBC on Monday that the stock market is way overvalued.

The market probably would have to drop somewhere between 30 and 40 percent to get to fair value, based on historical standards,” said McMillan, chief investment officer at Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Financial Network.

McMillan’s analysis is very similar to mine.  For a long time I have been warning that valuations would need to decline by at least 40 or 50 percent just to get back to the long-term averages.

And stock valuations always return to the long-term averages eventually.  Only this time the bubble has been artificially inflated so greatly that a return to the long-term averages will be absolutely catastrophic for our system.

Meanwhile, trouble signs for the real economy continue to erupt.  As noted in the headline, it appears that Toys R Us is on the brink of bankruptcy

Toys R Us has hired restructuring lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis to help address looming $400 million in debt due in 2018, CNBC had previously reported, noting that bankruptcy was one potential outcome.

Kirkland declined to comment.

Earlier Monday, Reorg Research, a news service focused on bankruptcy and distressed debt, reported Toys R Us could file for bankruptcy as soon as Monday.

This is yet another sign that 2017 is going to be the worst year for retail store closings in U.S. history.  I don’t know how anyone can look at what is happening to the retail industry (or the auto industry for that matter) and argue that the U.S. economy is in good shape.

But most Americans seem to base their opinions on how the economy is doing by how well the stock market is performing, and thanks to relentless central bank intervention, stock prices have just kept going up and up and up.

In so many ways, what we are watching today is a replay of the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s, and this is something that McMillan also commented on during his discussion with CNBC…

Part of McMillan’s thesis is rooted in his belief that the lofty levels of the so-called FANG stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet — seem reminiscent of the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s.

“I’ve been saying for about the past year, this year looks a lot like 1999 to me,” McMillan said on “Squawk Box.” “If you look at the underlying economics [and] if look at the stock market, the similarities are remarkable.”

I am amazed that so many big names continue to issue extremely ominous warnings about the financial markets, and yet most Americans seem completely unconcerned.

It is almost as if 2008 never happened.  None of our long-term problems were fixed after that crisis, and the current bubble that we are facing is far larger than the bubble that burst back then.

I don’t know why more people can’t see these things.  It has gotten to a point where “even Goldman Sachs is getting worried”

The stock market bubble is now so massive that even Goldman Sachs is getting worried.

Let’s be clear here: Wall Street does best and makes the most money when stocks are roaring higher. So in order for a major Wall Street firm like Goldman to start openly worrying about whether or not the markets are going to crash, there has to be truly MASSIVE trouble brewing.

On that note, Goldman’s Bear Market indicator just hit levels that triggered JUST BEFORE THE LAST TWO MARKET CRASHES.

When things fall apart this time, it is going to be even worse than what we went through in 2008.  In the aftermath, we are going to need people that understand that we need to fundamentally redesign how our system works, and that is something that I hope to help with.  We cannot base our financial system on a pyramid of debt, and we cannot allow Wall Street to operate like a giant casino.  Our entire economy has essentially become a colossal Ponzi scheme, and it is inevitable that it is going to come horribly crashing down at some point.

But for now, the blind continue to lead the blind, and most Americans are not going to wake up until we have gone over the edge.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Dow Falls 274 Points As ‘Eclipse Fever’ Hits The Financial Markets

Have we now entered a time of major financial shaking?  On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 274 points.  The was the largest decline for the Dow since May, and high yield bonds were down dramatically as well.  Many are blaming the terror attack in Barcelona and “instability in the White House” for the downturn, but could “eclipse fever” also be a factor?  The closer that we get to the solar eclipse on August 21st, the weirder people seem to be getting.  You will see what I am talking about below.

But first let’s talk about the financial markets.  I have been warning that stocks are massively overvalued for quite a while now, and it turns out that the Federal Reserve very much agrees with me

“Since the April assessment, vulnerabilities associated with asset valuation pressures had edged up from notable to elevated, as asset prices remained high or climbed further, risk spreads narrowed, and expected and actual volatility remained muted in a range of financial markets.”

Even the Fed is warning that we are in a bubble, and it is just a matter of time until that bubble bursts.

And anyone that is paying attention should be able to see the red flags all around us.  In fact, we have just witnessed the most “Hindenburg Omens” that we have seen since November 2007.  The technical indicators are absolutely screaming that a major downturn is dead ahead, and John P. Hussman is encouraging everyone to be cautious and to “consider watching from a safe location”…

Given obscene valuations, lopsided bullishness, and (importantly) clearly deteriorating internals, consider watching from a safe location.

We shall see what happens, but I tend to very much agree with Hussman.

Meanwhile, the closer that we get to August 21st, the crazier people seem to be getting.  The following comes from USA Today

As citizen scientists collectively nerd-out ahead of Monday’s total solar eclipse, rogue observers of the spooky and weird are generating theories that the celestial event could usher in aliens, boost sightings of “interdimensional” creatures and perhaps even plunge us toward world destruction.

None of those things are going to happen, but there are some very odd things about this eclipse that are definitely worth noting.

In a previous article, I noted that the first major city in the United States that the eclipse will cross is named Salem.  Well, it turns out that the eclipse will actually cross a total of seven cities named Salem, and of course “Salem” is short for “Jerusalem”.

I also find it very interesting how much the number “33” is associated with this eclipse.  The following are just a few examples

This solar eclipse is highly unusual for so many reasons and it occurs just 33 days before what may very well be the Great Sign.  It begins in the 33rd state, ends at the 33rd parallel, and occurs on the 233rd day of the year, which is 33 weeks and 2 days into 2017.  The eclipse will take 1 hour and 33 minutes to cross the country and occurs 133 days (inclusive) before the end of 2017.

And of course this solar eclipse begins a period of 40 days which will end with Yom Kippur on September 30th.  The following is an excerpt from a Charisma News article authored by Ron Allen which I think has some really good insights…

Teshuvah, the 40-day Jewish season of repentance, literally means to return to the presence of God, and is a time of introspection and a reminder of judgment. It begins on the first day of the sixth month known an Elul, and the solar eclipses that occur on Teshuvah add to the meaning of Teshuvah. The Teshuvah eclipses are signs of coming judgment, like the Trumpets eclipses, but they are also signs of unity in the presence of God. Thus, the Teshuvah eclipses are both an invitation to return to God and a warning of judgment.

During the totality of the eclipse, the sky will become dark and the stars will become visible. Right next to the eclipse, only 1.5 degrees away, the brightest star in the judgment constellation Leo (the lion), Regulus (treading under foot) reminds us that Christ, the lion of Judah, will put His enemies under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25). Southeast of the eclipse, the planet Mercury, the morning star laid low symbolic of Satan, will appear under the feet of Leo, adding to the warning of judgment.

So is this solar eclipse actually a warning that America should repent?

Many Christian leaders all over the nation believe that this is the case.  In fact, Billy Graham’s own daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, is one of them

In light of Ezekiel 33:1-6 that commands a watchman to be faithful to warn others of the danger coming against the land, I feel compelled to issue the warning once again. The warning is triggered by the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, nicknamed “America’s Eclipse.” For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will be seen from coast to coast in our nation. People are preparing to mark this significant event with viewing parties at exclusive prime sites. The celebratory nature regarding the eclipse brings to my mind the Babylonian King Belshazzar, who threw a drunken feast the night the Medes and Persians crept under the city gate. While Belshazzar and his friends partied, they were oblivious to the impending danger. Belshazzar wound up dead the next day, and the Babylonian empire was destroyed.

I do not know what will happen before, during or after the eclipse, but I do know that America is in very deep trouble.

If we continue on the path that we are currently on, there is no future for our nation.

Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t listening to the warnings.  Most people simply assume that America is far too powerful to ever fall, and they see absolutely no reason why we need to change our ways.

Hopefully we can get America to wake up, because time is rapidly running out.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Dow Closes At A Record High For The 9th Straight Time But Experts Warn That A Stock Market Crash Could Be Imminent

The bigger they come, the harder they fall.  On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high for the ninth straight session.  It has been a remarkable run, but many experts are pointing out that big trouble is brewing under the surface.  As you will see below, 79 components of the S&P 500 have already dropped more than 20 percent below their 52-week highs, and it is mostly just a handful of high flying tech stocks that are still propping up the market at this point.  Over the past several weeks, I have been documenting so many of the prominent voices that are loudly warning about an imminent stock market crash, and in this article you will hear some more of these warnings.  There is no way that stock prices can keep going up like this, and when the inevitable correction does arrive it is going to be exceedingly painful for millions of investors.

When the market is about to turn in a major way, one of the key things to watch is market breadth, and according to Brad Lamensdorf market breadth has now turned “exceedingly negative”

Market breadth, a measure of how many stocks are rising versus the number that are dropping, has turned “exceedingly negative,” according to Brad Lamensdorf, a portfolio manager at Ranger Alternative Management. Lamensdorf writes the Lamensdorf Market Timing Report newsletter and runs the AdvisorShares Ranger Equity Bear ETF HDGE, -0.70% an exchange-traded fund that “shorts” stocks, or bets that they will fall.

“As the indexes continue to produce a series of higher highs, subsurface conditions are painting an entirely different picture,” Lamensdorf wrote in the latest edition of the newsletter.

When Lamensdorf uses the phrase “exceedingly negative”, he is not exaggerating at all.  As I mentioned above, 79 components of the S&P 500 are already in a bear market

According to an analysis of FactSet data, 79 components of the S&P 500 are trading at least 20% below their 52-week high; a bear market is typically defined as a 20% drop from a peak.

Another key measure that I like to keep my eye on is Robert Shiller’s cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio.  At this point, it is roughly at the same level as it was just before the stock market crash of 1929, and the only time it has been higher was during the peak of the dotcom bubble.

This is why so many investors are making extremely large bets that a major correction is imminent.  History tells us that stocks are likely to only go down from here.  And when stocks do start falling, the price action could become quite violent.  In fact, Barry James is comparing this current market to the Yellowstone supervolcano

Warning: A correction in the market is “inevitable” and there are three key factors that could spark chaos on Wall Street, according to James Advantage Fund president Barry James.

The investor likened the market to Yellowstone National Park’s famous supervolcano, which many believe is close to eruption.

Of course not everyone agrees with James.  Michael Wilson of Morgan Stanley insists that everything is just fine and that “there continues to be a level of skepticism that seems out of whack with what is actually happening”.

In the end, we will see how the coming months play out.

Over the past several years, there have been two primary trends that have been relentlessly driving up stock prices.  One of these trends has been an unprecedented level of stock buybacks.  And so far this year, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of stock buybacks have already been announced

Through May, some $390 billion in buybacks have been announced this year, $13 billion more than at this time in 2016, according to figures compiled by Jeffrey Yale Rubin at Birinyi Associates, a stock market research firm.

June 28 was the biggest single buyback announcement day in history. That was when 26 banks disclosed buybacks worth $92.8 billion, largely a response to having just passed the stress tests administered by the Federal Reserve Board. That figure blew past the previous record of $56.4 billion announced on July 20, 2006.

Secondly, central banks have been pumping trillions upon trillions of dollars into the global financial system, and this has perhaps been the biggest reason for the surge in stock prices.  But now central banks are starting to pull back, and that could mean big trouble very soon.  The following comes from Matt King

With asset prices displaying a high degree of correlation with central bank liquidity additions in recent years, that feedback loop makes the economy, upon which both corporate profitability and bank net interest margins depend, more reliant on central banks holding markets together than almost ever before. That delicate balance may well be sustained for the time being. But with central banks beginning to move, however gingerly, towards an exit, is it really worth chasing the last few bp of spread from here?

Throughout our history we have seen financial bubbles come and go, but we never seen to learn from our mistakes.  Right now, Warren Buffett is sitting on nearly 100 billion dollars in cash in anticipation of being able to buy up financial assets for a song after a crash happens, but meanwhile multitudes of ordinary Americans continue to pour vast quantities of money into stocks even at such absurd valuations.

Despite all of the warnings, many will be caught unprepared when the music stops playing.  Just like all of the other financial manias in our history, this one will come to a bitter end too.  The following comes from the New York Times

In the late 1960s the mania was for the “nifty 50” American companies like Disney and McDonald’s, which had been the “go-go” stocks of that decade. In the late 1970s it was for natural resources, from gold to oil. In the late 1980s it was stocks in Japan, and in the late 1990s it was the dot-com boom. Last decade, investors flocked to mortgage-backed securities and big emerging markets from Brazil to Russia. In every case, many partygoers were still in the market when the crash came.

In life, timing is everything, and those that got out of the market in time are going to end up being very happy that they did so.

But those that stay in too long are going to see their “paper wealth” disappear in a blinding flash, and there won’t be any way to get it back once it is gone.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Remember This Milestone: The Dow Jones Industrial Average Hits 22,000 For The First Time In U.S. History

The Dow hit the 22,000 mark for the first time ever on Wednesday, and investors all over the world greatly celebrated.  And without a doubt this is an exceedingly important moment, because I think that this is a milestone that we will be remembering for a very long time.  So far this year the Dow is up over 11 percent, and it has now tripled in value since hitting a low in March 2009.  It has been quite a ride, and if you would have told me a couple of years ago that the Dow would be hitting 22,000 in August 2017 I probably would have laughed at you.  The central bankers have been able to keep this ridiculous stock market bubble going for longer than most experts dreamed possible, and for that they should be congratulated.  But of course the long-term outlook for our financial markets has not changed one bit.

Every other stock market bubble of this magnitude in our history has ended with a crash, and this current bubble is going to suffer the same fate.

But many in the mainstream media are still encouraging people to jump into the market at this late hour.  For example, the following comes from a USA Today article that was published on Wednesday…

“It’s still not too late to get in,” says Jeff Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab, based in San Francisco. “The gains are firmly rooted in business fundamentals, not false hopes.”

I honestly don’t know how anyone could say such a thing with a straight face.  We have essentially been in a “no growth economy” for the past decade, and signs of a new economic slowdown are all around us.

But even though price/earnings ratios and price/sales ratios are at some of the highest levels in history, some analysts insist that the stock market still has more room to go up

On the flip side, investors with time to ride out any short-term market storm should not rule out getting in the market now. Economies around the globe are improving and are boosting the profitability of corporations in the U.S. and abroad, says Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Financial Partners in Charlotte, N.C.

Zaccarelli won’t even rule out Dow 25,000 by the end of 2018.

Personally, I believe that it is far more likely that we would see Dow 15,000 by the end of 2018, but over the past couple of years the bulls have been right over and over again.

But the only reason why the bulls have been right is because of unprecedented intervention by global central banks.

Today, the Swiss National Bank owns more than a billion dollars worth of stock in each of the following companies: Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Exxon Mobil, Johnson & Johnson and Facebook.

So where does a central bank like the Swiss National Bank get the money to purchase all of these equities?

It’s easy – they just print the money out of thin air.  As Robert Wenzel has noted, they simply “print the francs, exchange them for dollars and make the purchases”.

If I could create as much money as I wanted out of thin air and use it to buy stocks I could relentlessly drive up stock prices too.

Our financial markets have become a giant charade, and central bank intervention is the biggest reason why FAANG stocks have vastly outperformed the rest of the market.  The following comes from David Stockman

Needless to say, the drastic market narrowing of the last 30 months has been accompanied by soaring price/earnings (PE) multiples among the handful of big winners. In the case of the so-called FAANGs + M (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft), the group’s weighted average PE multiple has increased by some 50%.

The degree to which the casino’s speculative mania has been concentrated in the FAANGs + M can also be seen by contrasting them with the other 494 stocks in the S&P 500. The market cap of the index as a whole rose from $17.7 trillion in January 2015 to some $21.2 trillion at present, meaning that the FAANGs + M account for about 40% of the entire gain.

Stated differently, the market cap of the other 494 stocks rose from $16.0 trillion to $18.1 trillion during that 30-month period. That is, 13% versus the 82% gain of the six super-momentum stocks.

If global central banks continue to buy millions of shares with money created out of thin air, they may be able to keep this absurd bubble going for a while longer.

But if the Fed and other central banks start pulling back, we could see a market tantrum of epic proportions.  In fact, almost every single time throughout history when the Federal Reserve has attempted a balance sheet reduction it has resulted in a recession

The Fed has embarked on six such reduction efforts in the past — in 1921-1922, 1928-1930, 1937, 1941, 1948-1950 and 2000.

Of those episodes, five ended in recession, according to research from Michael Darda, chief economist and market strategist at MKM Partners. The balance sheet trend mirrors what has happened much of the time when the Fed has tried to raise rates over a prolonged period of time, with 10 of the last 13 tightening cycles ending in recession.

“Moreover, outside of the 1920s and 1930s, there is no precedent for double-digit annual declines in the balance sheet/base that will likely begin to occur late next year,” Darda said in a note.

President Trump is going to get a lot of credit if the stock market keeps going up and he is going to get a lot of blame if it starts going down.

But the truth is that he actually has very little to do with what is really going on.

This stock market bubble was created by the central banks, and they also have the power to kill it if they desire to do so.

And once this bubble bursts, we may be looking at a crisis that makes 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

Goldman Sachs and others are already warning that this stock market rally is on borrowed time.  Let’s hope that it can continue at least for a little while longer, but in the end there is no possible way that this story is going to end well.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Goldman Sachs Says That There Is A 99 Percent Chance That Stock Prices Will Not Keep Going Up Like This

Analysts at Goldman Sachs are saying that it is next to impossible for stock prices to keep going up like they have been recently.  Ever since Donald Trump’s surprise election victory in November, stocks have been on a tremendous run, but this surge has not been matched by a turnaround in the real economy.  We have essentially had a “no growth” economy for most of the past decade, and ominous signs pointing to big trouble ahead are all around us.  The only reason why stocks have been able to perform so well is due to unprecedented intervention by global central banks, but they are not going to be able to keep inflating this bubble forever.  At some point this absolutely enormous bubble will burst and investors will lose trillions of dollars.

The only other times we have seen stock valuations at these levels were just before the stock market crash of 1929 and just before the dotcom bubble burst in 2000.  For those that think that they can jump into the markets now and make a lot of money from rapidly rising stock prices, I think that it would be wise to consider what analysts at Goldman Sachs are telling us.  The following is from a CNBC article that was published on Monday…

Investors may be in for disappointing market returns in the decade to come with valuations at levels this high, if history is any indication.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs pointed out that annualized returns on the S&P 500 10 years out were in the single digits or negative 99 percent of the time when starting with valuations at current levels.

Do you really want to try to fight those odds?

Unfortunately, it appears that is precisely what a lot of investors are planning to do.  In fact, Schwab says that they are opening new accounts “at levels we have not seen since the Internet boom of the late 1990s”

New accounts are at levels we have not seen since the Internet boom of the late 1990s, up 34% over the first half of last year. But maybe more important for the long-term growth of the organization is not so much new accounts, but new-to-firm households, and our new-to-firm retail households were up 50% over that same period from 2016.

And a different survey found that Millennial investors in particular are eager to pour money into the stock market

Furthermore, according to a June survey from Legg Mason, nearly 80% of millennial investors plan to take on more risk this year, with 66% of them expressing an interest in equities. About 45% plan to take on “much more risk” in their portfolios.

One of the fundamental tenets of investing is to buy low and sell high.  Those that are getting in at the peak of the market are going to get absolutely slaughtered.  Trillions of dollars of paper wealth will be completely wiped out by the coming crash, and I wish that I could get more people to understand what is about to happen.

I recently wrote about how some really big investors are betting millions upon millions of dollars that a major stock market crash is going to happen in the very near future.  The financial markets are far more primed for a crash than they were in 2008, and there are certainly a lot of potential “black swan events” that could push us over the edge.  In his most recent article, Simon Black listed some of the things that he is currently watching…

– North Korea is threatening to nuke the US
– Donald Trump is firing his entire cabinet
– The Federal Reserve has dropped interest rates to record lows and drowned the world in trillions of dollars of cash
– Debt levels are at record highs
– Entire banking systems, especially in Europe, are in need of massive bailouts
– The US government will run out of money in less than 90-days and hit the debt ceiling once again

You only make money in the stock market if you get out in time.  And since just before the crisis of 2008 I have never seen so many prominent names in the financial community warn about a coming stock market crash as I have over the last 90 days.  For example, legendary investor Jim Rogers is warning that there will almost certainly be a crash “this year or the next”, and that it will be “the worst in your lifetime and my lifetime”

The best-selling author expects the next financial crisis to be the “worst” he has ever seen.

“We’ve had economic problems in the U.S. or in North America every four to eight years since the beginning of the Republic so to say that we’re going to have a problem is not unusual,” he told Kitco News from the Freedom Fest conference in Las Vegas.

“I would expect it to start this year or the next…and it’s going to be the worst in your lifetime and my lifetime.”

What goes up must come down, and markets tend to go down a whole lot faster than they go up.

And in the environment that we are in today, caution is a very good thing.  I really like how billionaire Howard Marks put this the other day…

I think it’s better to turn cautious too soon (and thus perhaps underperform for a while) rather than too late, after the downslide has begun, making it hard to trim risk, achieve exits and cut losses.

Perhaps this will be the first giant financial bubble in our history to end smoothly, but I wouldn’t count on it.

In the end, I expect this one to end just like all of the others.  And I anticipate that the coming crisis will ultimately be worse than anything we have ever faced before because this current bubble has been artificially inflated for so long.

Hopefully stock prices will go up again tomorrow, but it would be exceedingly foolish to ignore all of the warnings.  Goldman Sachs says that there is a 99 percent chance that stocks cannot continue surging like this, and in this case I believe that Goldman Sachs is entirely correct.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Central Banks Now Own Stocks And Bonds Worth Trillions – And They Could Crash The Markets By Selling Them

Have you ever wondered why stocks just seem to keep going up no matter what happens?  For years, financial markets have been behaving in ways that seem to defy any rational explanation, but once you understand the role that central banks have been playing everything begins to make sense.  In the aftermath of the great financial crisis of 2008, global central banks began to buy stocks, bonds and other financial assets in very large quantities and they haven’t stopped since.  In fact, as you will see below, global central banks are on pace to buy 3.6 trillion dollars worth of stocks and bonds this year alone.  At this point, the Swiss National Bank owns more publicly-traded shares of Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg does, and the Bank of Japan is now a top-five owner in 81 different large Japanese firms.  These global central banks are shamelessly pumping up global stock markets, but because they now have such vast holdings they could also cause a devastating global stock market crash simply by starting to sell off their portfolios.

Over the years I have often been asked about the “plunge protection team”, but the truth is that global central banks are the real “plunge protection team”.  If stocks start surging higher on any particular day for seemingly no reason, it is probably the work of a central bank.  Because they can inject billions of dollars into the markets whenever they want, that essentially allows them to “play god” and move the markets in any direction that they please.

But of course what they have done is essentially destroy the marketplace.  A “free market” for stocks basically no longer exists because of all this central bank manipulation.  I really like how Bruce Wilds made this point

One indication of just how messed up and flawed the global markets have become is reflected in the way central banks across the world are now buying stocks. This has become a part of their response to correcting the forces of past excesses. Their incursion into this bastion of the free markets signals we have entered the era where true price discovery no longer exists. The central banks are often viewed as price-insensitive buyers, so this incestuous influx of money is in some ways the ultimate distortion.

According to Business Insider, global central banks are on pace to purchase an astounding 3.6 trillion dollars in stocks and bonds in 2017.

Overall, the five largest global central banks now collectively have 14.6 trillion dollars in assets on their balance sheets.

You can call this a lot of things, but it certainly isn’t free market capitalism.

The Swiss National Bank is one of the biggest offenders.  During just the first three months of this year, it bought 17 billion dollars worth of U.S. stocks, and that brought the overall total that the Swiss National Bank is currently holding to more than $80 billion.

Have you ever wondered why shares of Apple just seem to keep going up and up and up?

Well, the Swiss National Bank bought almost 4 million shares of Apple during the months of January, February and March.

And as I mentioned above, the Swiss National Bank now owns more publicly-traded shares in Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg”

Switzerland’s central bank now owns more publicly-traded shares in Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg, part of a mushrooming stock portfolio that is likely to grow yet further.

The tech giant’s founder and CEO has other ways to control his company: Zuckerberg holds most of his stake in a different class of stock. Nevertheless this example illustrates how the Swiss National Bank has become a multi-billion-dollar equity investor due to its campaign to hold down the Swiss franc.

It is now the world’s eighth-biggest public investor, data from the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum show.

But as shameless as the Swiss National Bank has been, the Bank of Japan is even worse.

Today, the Nikkei is essentially a giant sham.  The Bank of Japan regularly goes in and just starts buying up everything in sight, and according to Bloomberg they are on pace to become the largest shareholder in dozens of the most prominent Japanese corporations by the end of 2017…

Already a top-five owner of 81 companies in Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average, the BOJ is on course to become the No. 1 shareholder in 55 of those firms by the end of next year, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg from the central bank’s exchange-traded fund holdings.

If global central banks have the power to pump up these markets, they also have the power to crash them.

Why would they want to do such a thing?

I can answer that question with just two words…

Donald Trump.

If the Comey angle doesn’t work, the elite could try to destroy Trump by engineering an absolutely devastating stock market crash.  Close to half the U.S. population dislikes Trump anyway, and so it would be fairly easy to get them to believe that Trump’s policies have caused a new financial crisis.  Of course that would be complete nonsense, but in our society today the truth often doesn’t really matter.

And without a doubt, evidence continues to mount that the real economy is starting to slow down substantially.  For example, we just learned that bankruptcies surged once again in May.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

So here we go again. Total US business bankruptcies in May rose 4.7% year-over-year to 3,572 filings, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. That’s up 40% from May 2015 and up 10% from May 2014.

And there’s another concern: Bankruptcy filings are highly seasonal. They peak in tax season – March or April – and then fall off. The decline in April after the peak in March was within that seasonal pattern. Over the past years, filings dropped in May. But not this year.

Without unprecedented intervention by global central banks, financial markets would have crashed long ago.

And if they keep increasing their purchases of stocks and bonds, the central banks may be able to prop things up for a while longer.

Who knows?  Perhaps with enough financial engineering they would be able to keep this bubble going for years.  Of course things would start to get really awkward once they eventually owned virtually everything, but I have a feeling that things will never get that far.

I have a feeling that global central banks will eventually find an excuse to start “unwinding their balance sheets”, and I have a feeling that it will be at a time that is highly inconvenient for President Trump.

This Is What A Financial Crisis Looks Like

Financial Crisis 2015 - Public DomainJust within the past few days, three major high yield funds have completely imploded, and panic is spreading rapidly on Wall Street.  Funds run by Third Avenue Management and Stone Lion Capital Partners have suspended payments to investors, and a fund run by Lucidus Capital Partners has liquidated its entire portfolio.  We are witnessing a race for the exits unlike anything that we have seen since the great financial crash of 2008, and many of those that choose to hesitate are going to end up getting totally wiped out.  In case you are wondering, this is what a financial crisis looks like.  In 2008, other global stock markets started to tumble, then junk bonds began to crash, and finally U.S. stocks followed.  The exact same pattern is playing out again, and the carnage that we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg.

Since the end of 2009, a high yield bond ETF that I watch very closely known as JNK has been trading in a range between 36 and 42.  I have been waiting all this time for it to dip below 35, because I knew that would be a sign that the next major financial crisis was imminent.

In September, it closed as low as 35.33 at one point, but that was not the signal that I was looking for.  Finally, early last week JNK broke below 35 for the very first time since the last financial crisis, and since then it has just kept on falling.  As I write this, JNK has plummeted all the way to 33.42, and Bloomberg is reporting that many bond managers “are predicting more carnage for high-yield investors”…

Top bond managers are predicting more carnage for high-yield investors amid a market rout that forced at least three credit funds in the past week to wind down.

Lucidus Capital Partners, a high-yield fund founded in 2009 by former employees of Bruce Kovner’s Caxton Associates, said Monday it has liquidated its entire portfolio and plans to return the $900 million it has under management to investors next month. Funds run by Third Avenue Management and Stone Lion Capital Partners have stopped returning cash to investors, after clients sought to pull too much money.

When it says that those firms “have stopped returning cash to investors”, what that means is that many of those investors will be lucky to get pennies on the dollar when it is all said and done.

Like I said, now that the crisis has started, the ones that are going to lose the most are those that hesitate.

And just check out some of the very big names that are “warning of more high-yield trouble ahead”

Scott Minerd, global chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners, predicts 10 percent to 15 percent of junk bond funds may face high withdrawals as more investors worry about getting their money back. He joins money managers Jeffrey GundlachCarl Icahn, Bill Gross and Wilbur Ross in warning of more high-yield trouble ahead.

In this type of environment, the Federal Reserve would have to be completely insane to raise interest rates.

Unfortunately, that appears to be exactly what is going to happen.

If the Fed raises rates, that is going to make corporate debt defaults even more likely and will almost certainly drive high-yield bonds down even further…

Higher rates could make corporate bond defaults more likely and investors are already bailing out of the sector, pulling $3.8 billion out of high-yield funds in the week ended December 9, the biggest move in 15 weeks. The effective yield on U.S. junk bonds is now 17 percent, the highest level in five years, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch data.

A whole host of prominent names are warning that the Fed is about to make a tragic mistake.  One of them is James Rickards

“The Fed should have raised interest rates in 2010 and 2011 and if they did that they would actually be in a position to cut them today,” said James Rickards, a central bank critic and chief global strategist at West Shore Funds. “The Fed is on the brink of committing a historic blunder that may rank with the mistakes it made in 1927 and 1929. By raising into weakness, they will likely cause a recession.”

In 2015, we have already seen stocks crash all over the globe.  Coming into December, more than half of the 93 largest stock market indexes in the world were down more than 10 percent year to date, and some of them were down by as much as 30 or 40 percent.  At this point, conditions are absolutely perfect for a frightening collapse of U.S. markets, and the Federal Reserve is about to pour gasoline on to the fire.

Anyone that says that “nothing is happening” is either completely misinformed or is totally crazy.

I like how James Howard Kunstler summarized what we are currently facing…

Equities barfed nearly four percent just last week, credit is crumbling (nobody wants to lend), junk bonds are tanking (as defaults loom), currencies all around the world are crashing, hedge funds can’t give investors their money back, “liquidity” is AWOL (no buyers for janky securities), commodities are in freefall, oil is going so deep into the sub-basement of value that the industry may never recover, international trade is evaporating, the president is doing everything possible in Syria to start World War Three, and the monster called globalism is lying in its coffin with a stake pointed over its heart.

The financial markets held together far longer than many people thought that they would, but now they are finally coming apart at the seams.

Moving forward, the “winners” are going to be the people that pull their money out the fastest.  This is especially true for high risk funds like the three that just imploded.  If you hesitate, you could end up losing everything.

And as this rush for the exits accelerates, sellers are going to greatly outnumber buyers, and this is going to push prices down at a very rapid pace.  We are going to hear a lot about a “lack of liquidity” in the days ahead, but the truth is that what we will really be looking at is a good old-fashioned panic.

Guess What Happened The Last Time The Price Of Oil Plunged Below 38 Dollars A Barrel?

Question Mark Burning - Public DomainOn 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…

Price Of Oil - Public Domain

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.

27 Major Global Stocks Markets That Have Already Crashed By Double Digit Percentages In 2015

Earth Globe - Public DomainAnyone that tries to tell you that a global financial crisis is not happening is not being honest with you.  Right now, there are 27 major global stock markets that have declined by double digit percentages from their peaks earlier this year.  And this is truly a global phenomenon – we have seen stock market crashes in Asia, Europe, South America, Africa and the Middle East.  But because U.S. stocks are only down less than a thousand points from the peak earlier this year, most Americans seem to think that everything is just fine.

The truth, of course, is that everything is not fine.  We are witnessing a pattern similar to what we saw back in 2008.  Back then, Chinese stocks and other major stock markets started crashing first, and then U.S. stocks followed later.

And it appears that we may have entered the next leg down for markets in the western world this week.  The Dow was down another 252 points on Thursday, and all of the major stock indexes in the U.S. are now negative for the year except for the NASDAQ.  Unless there is a major turnaround in the coming weeks, the six year winning streak for U.S. stocks is likely over.

But when you step back and look at what has been happening globally, a much more ominous picture emerges.  I spent much of the afternoon looking at stock market charts for the largest economies all over the globe.  What I discovered was financial carnage that was much worse than I anticipated.

It turns out that there are 27 major global stock markets that have fallen by more than 10 percent from peaks that were set earlier this year.  If you want to verify this information for yourself, just go to Trading Economics.  As you can see, many of these stock market declines have been quite impressive…

1. China: down more than 30 percent

2. Saudi Arabia: down 26 percent

3. Germany: down about 13 percent

4. United Kingdom: down close to 12 percent

5. Spain: down 15 percent

6. Brazil: down more than 22 percent (13,000 points overall)

7. Kuwait: down 14 percent

8. Turkey: down 16 percent

9. India: down close to 12 percent

10. Chile: down 11 percent

11. Columbia: down about 30 percent

12. Peru: down more than 40 percent

13. Bulgaria: down more than 20 percent

14. Greece: down more than 30 percent

15. Poland: down about 19 percent

16. Malaysia: down 10 percent

17. Egypt: down 32 percent

18. Indonesia: down 18 percent

19. Canada: down 12 percent

20. Ukraine: down 45 percent

21. Morocco: down 13 percent

22. Ghana: down 17 percent

23. Kenya: down 27 percent

24. Australia: down 13 percent

25. Nigeria: down more than 30 percent

26. Taiwan: down 15 percent

27. Thailand: down 20 percent

We have not seen numbers like these since 2008, and trillions of dollars of stock market wealth has been wiped out globally.  So the “nothing is happening” crowd is simply dead wrong.  Stocks are already crashing all over the planet.  Just because the big U.S. stock market crash has not happened quite yet does not mean that a major global financial crisis is not happening.

But do you know what is crashing here in this country?

Junk bonds.

At this point, yields on the riskiest junk bonds have risen to levels that we have not seen since the last financial crisis.  As I have discussed repeatedly, yields on junk bonds spiked dramatically just before the stock market crash of 2008, and now it is happening again…

Yield On CCC Bonds - Chart from Federal Reserve

This is precisely the kind of behavior that we would expect to see if a major U.S. stock market crash was imminent.  Personally, I watch the junk bond market very, very closely because it is such a key leading indicator.  And according to Jeffrey Snider, it appears that “something” is starting to cause junk bonds to sell off at an alarming pace…

There isn’t much as far as confirmation, but it increasingly appears as if “something” just hit the triple hooks (CCC) in the junk bond bubble. At least as far as one view of it, Bank of America ML’s CCC implied yield, there was a huge selloff that brought the yield to a new cycle high (low in price) above even the 2011 crisis peak.

But just like in 2008, a lot of people will not heed the warnings because they don’t have the patience to watch long-term trends play out.

We live in a society where we expect constant instant gratification.  We have instant coffee, video on demand and 48 hour news cycles.  If something does not happen immediately, most of us quickly lose patience.

On my other website, I include a lot more stories about things that are trending in the news.  For example, earlier today I wrote about the horrible shootings in San Bernardino, California and I explained why I believe that Islamic terror is now more of a threat to the American people than ever before.

But on this website I like to take a broader view of things.  For months, I have been warning that conditions were perfect for another major global financial crisis, and since that time events have been unfolding in textbook fashion.

And as you can see from the numbers above, we have already entered a new global financial crisis.  If you tried to tell someone in China, Brazil or Saudi Arabia that a financial crisis was not happening, they would just laugh at you.  We need to start learning that the world doesn’t revolve around the United States.

Of course the U.S. is heading for tremendous difficulties as well.  This is something that I covered yesterday.  All of the fundamental economic numbers are absolutely screaming “recession”, and yet most of the “experts” are still forecasting good things for the coming year.

Those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  None of the problems that caused the crisis the last time around have been fixed, and most of our “leaders” seem blind to what is happening at this moment even though the exact same patterns that played out in 2008 are playing out once again right in front of our eyes.

If you have been waiting for the next global financial crisis, you can stop, because it is already here.

As we move toward the end of 2015, let us hope for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst.

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