Are we right on the verge of one of the greatest financial collapses in American history? I have been repeatedly warning that our ridiculously over-inflated stock market bubble could burst at any time, but former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan believes that the bond bubble actually presents an even greater danger. When you look at the long-term charts, you will see that an epic bond bubble has been growing since the early 1980s, and when it finally collapses the financial carnage is going to be unlike anything we have ever seen before.
Since the last financial crisis, global central banks have purchased trillions of dollars worth of bonds, and this has pushed interest rates to absurdly low levels. But of course this state of affairs cannot go on indefinitely, and Greenspan is extremely concerned about what will happen when interest rates start going in the other direction…
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan issued a bold warning Friday that the bond market is on the cusp of a collapse that also will threaten stock prices.
In a CNBC interview, the longtime central bank chief said the prolonged period of low interest rates is about to end and, with it, a bull market in fixed income that has lasted more than three decades.
“The current level of interest rates is abnormally low and there’s only one direction in which they can go, and when they start they will be rather rapid,” Greenspan said on “Squawk Box.”
And of course Greenspan is far from alone. In recent months there have been a whole host of prominent voices warning about the devastation that will take place when the bond market begins to shift. For example, the following comes from Nasdaq.com…
Advisors and investors beware, the long-swelling bubble in the bond market looks set to pop. Major bond investors are as worried as they have ever been, mostly because of the reduction in easing that is finally coming to markets. Central banks are letting off the gas pedal for the first time in almost a decade, which could have a devastating effect on the bond market. According to the head of fixed income at JP Morgan Asset Management, who oversees almost half a trillion in AUM, “The next 18 months are going to be incredibly challenging. I am not an equity investor, but I can just imagine how equity investors felt in 1999, during the dotcom bubble”. He continued, “Right now, central banks are printing money at a rate of around $1.5tn per year. That is a lot of money going into bonds. By this time next year, we think this will turn negative”.
So how will we know when a crisis is imminent?
Some analysts are telling us to watch the 30-year yield. When it finally moves above its “mega moving average” and stays there, that will be a major red flag…
It’s still too soon to tell, but this could be the beginning of a realignment with both rates getting in sync again. This will not be confirmed, however, until the 30-year yield rises and stays above its mega moving average, currently at 3.18%.
As you know, this moving average is super important.
It’s identified and confirmed the mega downtrend in long-term interest rates ever since the 1980s. In other words, it doesn’t change often. So, if this trend were to change and turn up, it would be a huge deal.
Today, the 30-year yield moved up to 2.83 percent, and so we aren’t too far away.
There are so many prominent voices that are warning of imminent financial disaster, but there are others that believe that we have absolutely nothing to be concerned about. In fact, Jim Paulsen just told CNBC that he believes that this current bull market “could continue to forever”…
The stock market “has an awful good gig going,” with the economic recovery reaching all corners of the globe and U.S. inflation and interest rates still at historic lows, Leuthold Chief Investment Strategist Jim Paulsen told CNBC on Friday.
“We’ve got a fully employed economy, rising real wages. We restarted the corporate earnings cycle. We’ve got strong confidence among business and consumers,” he said on “Squawk Box.”
“The kick is we can do all of this without aggravating inflation and interest rates,” he said. “If that’s going to continue, I think the bull market could continue to forever.”
I think that Paulsen will end up deeply regretting those words.
No bull market lasts forever, and analysts at Goldman Sachs are warning that there is a 99 percent chance that stock market returns will be sub-optimal over the next decade.
But most people believe what they want to believe no matter what the facts may say, and Paulsen apparently wants to believe that things will never be bad for the financial markets ever again.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, the powers that be decided to patch the old system up. Instead of addressing the root causes of the crisis, they chose to paper over our problems instead, and now we are in the terminal phase of the biggest financial bubble in history.
This time around, it is absolutely imperative that we do things differently. The Federal Reserve is the primary reason why our economy is on an endless roller coaster ride. We have had 18 distinct recessions or depressions since 1913, and now another one is about to begin. By endlessly manipulating the system, they have caused these cycles of booms and busts, and it is time to get off of this roller coaster once and for all.
Like Ron Paul, I believe that we need to shut down the Federal Reserve and get our banks under control. I also believe that we should abolish the federal income tax and go to a much fairer system. From 1872 to 1913, there was no central bank and no federal income tax, and it was the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history. If we rebuild our financial system on sound principles, we could actually have a shot at a prosperous future. If not, the long-term future for our economy looks exceedingly bleak.
If you believe in what I am trying to do, I would like to ask for your help. I am running for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and since there is no incumbent running for this seat the race is completely wide open. Every time I share my message, more voters are coming over to my side, and if I am able to get my message out to every voter in this district I will win.
And I would like to encourage like-minded people to run for positions all over the country on the federal, state and local levels. Individually, there is a limit to what we can do, but if we work together we can build a movement which could turn this nation completely upside down.
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.
Warren Buffett believes “that bonds are very overvalued“, and a recent survey of fund managers found that 80 percent of them are convinced that bonds have become “badly overvalued“. The most famous bond expert on the planet, Bill Gross, recently confessed that he has a sense that the 35 year bull market in bonds is “ending” and he admitted that he is feeling “great unrest”. Nobel Prize–winning economist Robert Shiller has added a new chapter to his bestselling book in which he argues that bond prices are “irrationally high”. The global bond bubble has ballooned to more than 76 trillion dollars, and interest rates have never been lower in modern history. In fact, 25 percent of all government bonds in Europe actually have a negative rate of return at this point. There is literally nowhere for the bond market to go except for the other direction, and when this bull market turns into a bear it will create chaos and financial devastation all over the planet.
In a recent piece entitled “A Sense Of Ending“, bond guru Bill Gross admitted that the 35 year bull market in bonds that has made him and those that have invested with him so wealthy is now coming to an end…
Stanley Druckenmiller, George Soros, Ray Dalio, Jeremy Grantham, among others warn investors that our 35 year investment supercycle may be exhausted. They don’t necessarily counsel heading for the hills, or liquidating assets for cash, but they do speak to low future returns and the increasingly fat tail possibilities of a “bang” at some future date. To them, (and myself) the current bull market is not 35 years old, but twice that in human terms. Surely they and other gurus are looking through their research papers to help predict future financial “obits”, although uncertain of the announcement date. Savor this Bull market moment, they seem to be saying in unison. It will not come again for any of us; unrest lies ahead and low asset returns. Perhaps great unrest, if there is a bubble popping.
And the way that he ended his piece sounds rather ominous…
I wish to still be active in say 2020 to see how this ends. As it is, in 2015, I merely have a sense of an ending, a secular bull market ending with a whimper, not a bang. But if so, like death, only the timing is in doubt. Because of this sense, however, I have unrest, increasingly a great unrest. You should as well.
Bill Gross is someone that knows what he is talking about. I would consider his words very carefully.
Another renowned financial expert, Yale professor Robert Shiller, warned us about the stock bubble in 2000 and about the real estate bubble in 2005. Now, he is warning about the danger posed by this bond bubble…
In the first edition of his landmark book “Irrational Exuberance,” published in 2000, the Yale professor of economics and 2013 Nobel Laureate presciently warned that stocks looked especially expensive. In the second edition, published in 2005 shortly before the real estate bubble crashed, he added a chapter about real estate valuations. And in the new edition, due out later this month, Shiller adds a fresh chapter called “The Bond Market in Historical Perspective,” in which he worries that bond prices might be irrationally high.
For years, ultra-low interest rates have enabled governments around the world to go on a debt binge unlike anything the world has ever seen. Showing very little restraint since the last financial crisis, they have piled up debts that are exceedingly dangerous. If interest rates were to return to historical norms, it would instantly create the greatest government debt crisis in history.
A recent letter from IceCap Asset Management summarized where we basically stand today…
1) governments are unable to eliminate deficits
2) global government debt is increasing exponentially
3) 0% interest rates are allowing governments to borrow more to pay off old loans and fund deficits
4) Global growth is declining despite money printing and bailouts And, we’ve saved the latest and greatest fact for last: as stunning as 0% interest rates sound, the mathematically-challenged-fantasyland called Europe has just one upped everyone by introducing NEGATIVE INTEREST RATES.
As of writing, over 25% of all bonds issued by European governments has a guaranteed negative return for investors.
Germany can borrow money for 5 years at an interest rate of NEGATIVE 0.10%. Yes, instead of Germany paying you interest when you lend them money, you have to pay them interest.
These same negative interest rate conditions exist across many of the Eurozone countries, as well as Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland.
Negative interest rates are by nature irrational.
Why in the world would you pay someone to borrow money from you?
It doesn’t make any sense at all, and this irrational state of affairs will not last for too much longer.
At some point, investors are going to come to the realization that the 35 year bull market for bonds is finished, and then there will be a massive rush for the exits. This rush for the exits will be unlike anything the bond market has ever seen before. Robert Wenzel of the Economic Policy Journal says that this coming rush for the exits will set off a “death spiral”…
Anyone who holds the view that the Fed will not soon raise interest rates,and soon, fails to understand the nature of the developing crisis. It will be led by a collapse of the bond market.
Market forces, somewhat misleadingly called bond-vigilantes, will lead the charge.
I am not as bearish in the short-term on the stock market. The equity markets will be volatile because of the climb in rates and look scary at times but the death spiral will be in the bond market.
As this death spiral accelerates, we are going to see global interest rates rise dramatically. And considering the fact that more than 400 trillion dollars in derivatives are directly tied to interest rates, that is a very scary thing.
And in case you are wondering, the stock market will be deeply affected by all of this as well. I believe that we are going to witness a stock market crash even greater than what we experienced in 2008, and other experts are projecting similar things. For example, just consider what Marc Faber recently told CNBC…
“For the last two years, I’ve been thinking that U.S. stocks are due for a correction,” Faber said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” “But I always say a bubble is a bubble, and if there’s no correction, the market will go up, and one day it will go down, big time.”
“The market is in a position where it’s not just going to be a 10 percent correction. Maybe it first goes up a bit further, but when it comes, it will be 30 percent or 40 percent minimum!” Faber asserted.
Where we are right now is at the end of the party. There are some that want to keep on dancing to the music for as long as possible, but most can see that things are winding down and people are starting to head for the exits.
The irrational global financial bubble that investors have been enjoying for the past few years has stretched on far longer than it should have. But that is the way irrational bubbles work – they just keep going even when everyone can see that they have become absolutely absurd. However, eventually something always comes along and bursts them, and once that happens markets can crash very, very rapidly.
If a major financial crisis was approaching, we would expect to see the “smart money” getting out of stocks and pouring into government bonds that are traditionally considered to be “safe” during a crisis. This is called a “flight to safety” or a “flight to quality“. In the past, when there has been a “flight to quality” we have seen yields for German government bonds and U.S. government bonds go way down. As you will see below, this is exactly what we witnessed during the financial crisis of 2008. U.S. and German bond yields plummeted as money from the stock market was dumped into bonds at a staggering pace. Well, it is starting to happen again. In recent months we have seen U.S. and German bond yields begin to plummet as the “smart money” moves out of the stock market. So is this another sign that we are on the precipice of a significant financial panic?
Back in 2008, German bonds actually began to plunge well before U.S. bonds did. Does that mean that European money is “smarter” than U.S. money? That would certainly be a very interesting theory to explore. As you can see from the chart below, the yield on 10 year German bonds started to fall significantly during the summer of 2008 – several months before the stock market crash in the fall…
So what are German bonds doing today?
As you can see from this next chart, the yield on 10 year German bonds has been steadily falling since the beginning of last year. At this point, the yield on 10 year German bonds is just barely above zero…
And amazingly, most German bonds that have a maturity of less than 10 years actually have a negative yield right now. That means that investors are going to get back less money than they invest. This is how bizarre the financial markets have become. The “smart money” is so concerned about the “safety” of their investments that they are actually willing to accept negative yields. I don’t know why anyone would ever put their money into investments that have a negative yield, but it is actually happening. The following comes from Yahoo…
The world’s scarcest resource right now is safe yield, and the shortage is getting more extreme. Most German government bonds that mature in less than 10 years now have negative yields – part of some $2 trillion worth of paper with yields below zero.
This is what happens when the European Central Bank begins a trillion-euro bond-buying binge with rates already miniscule.
Yesterday, ECB boss Mario Draghi – unfazed by the protest stunt at his press conference – reaffirmed his plan to keep bidding for paper that yields more than -0.2% – that’s minus 0.2%.
Yes, the ECB is driving a lot of this, but it is still truly bizarre.
So what about the United States?
Well, first let’s take a look at what happened back in 2008. In the chart below, you can see the “flight to safety” that took place in late 2008 as investors started to panic…
And we have started to witness a similar thing happen in recent months. The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has plummeted as investors have looked for safety. This is exactly the kind of chart that we would expect to see if a financial crisis was brewing…
What makes all of this far more compelling is the fact that so many other patterns that we have witnessed just prior to past financial crashes are happening once again.
Yes, there are other potential explanations for why bond yields have been going down. But when you add this to all of the other pieces of evidence that a new financial crisis is rapidly approaching, quite a compelling case emerges.
For those that do not follow my website regularly, I encourage you to check out the following articles to get an idea of what I am talking about…
-“Guess What Happened The Last Time The Price Of Oil Crashed Like This?…”
-“Not Just Oil: Guess What Happened The Last Time Commodity Prices Crashed Like This?…”
-“10 Key Events That Preceded The Last Financial Crisis That Are Happening Again RIGHT NOW”
-“Guess What Happened The Last Time The U.S. Dollar Skyrocketed In Value Like This?…”
-“7 Signs That A Stock Market Peak Is Happening Right Now”
-“Guess What Happened The Last Two Times The S&P 500 Was Up More Than 200% In Six Years?”
Of course no two financial crashes ever look exactly the same.
The crisis that we are moving toward is not going to be precisely like the crisis of 2008.
But there are similarities and patterns that we can look for. When things start to get bad, investors act in predictable ways. And so many of the things that we are watching right now are just what we would expect to see in the lead up to a major financial crisis.
Sadly, most people are not willing to learn from history. Even though it is glaringly apparent that we are in a historic financial bubble, most investors on Wall Street cannot see it because they do not want to see it. They want to believe that somehow “things are different this time” and that stocks will just continue to go up indefinitely so that they can keep making lots and lots of money.
And despite what you may think, I actually want this bubble to continue for as long as possible. Despite all of our problems, life is still relatively good in America today – at least compared to what is coming.
I like to refer to this next crisis as our “third strike”.
Back in 2000 and 2001, the dotcom bubble burst and we experienced a painful recession, but we didn’t learn any lessons. That was strike number one.
Then came the financial crash of 2008 and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. But we didn’t learn any lessons from that either. Instead, we just reinflated the same old financial bubbles and kept on making the exact same mistakes as before. That was strike number two.
This next financial crisis will be strike number three. After this next crisis, I don’t believe that there will ever be a return to “normal” for the United States. I believe that this is going to be the crisis that unleashes hell in our nation.
So no, I am not eager for that to come. Even though there is no way that this bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity can last indefinitely, I would like for it to last at least a little while longer.
Because what comes after it is going to be truly terrible.
Can you smell that? It is the smell of panic in the air. As I have noted before, when financial markets catch up to economic reality they tend to do so very rapidly. Normally we don’t see virtually all asset classes get slammed at the same time, but the bucket of cold water that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke threw on global financial markets on Wednesday has set off an epic temper tantrum. On Thursday, U.S. stocks, European stocks, Asian stocks, gold, silver and government bonds all over the planet all got absolutely shredded. This is not normal market activity. Unfortunately, there is nothing “normal” about our financial markets anymore. Over the past several years they have been grossly twisted and distorted by the Federal Reserve and by the other major central banks around the globe. Did the central bankers really believe that there wouldn’t be a great price to pay for messing with the markets? The behavior that we have been watching this week is the kind of behavior that one would expect at the beginning of a financial panic. Dick Bove, the vice president of equity research at Rafferty Capital Markets, told CNBC that what we are witnessing right now “is not normal. It is not normal for all markets to move in the same direction at the same point in time due to the same development.” The overriding emotion in the financial world right now is fear. And fear can cause investors to do some crazy things. So will global financial markets continue to drop, or will things stabilize for now? That is a very good question. But even if there is a respite for a while, it will only be temporary. More carnage is coming at some point.
What we have witnessed this week very much has the feeling of a turning point. The euphoria that drove the Dow well over the 15,000 mark is now gone, and investors all over the planet are going into crisis mode. The following is a summary of the damage that was done on Thursday…
-U.S. stocks had their worst day of the year by a good margin. The Dow fell 354 points, and that was the biggest one day drop that we have seen since November 2011. Overall, the Dow has lost more than 550 points over the past two days.
-Thursday was the eighth trading day in a row that we have seen a triple digit move in the Dow either up or down. That is the longest such streak since October 2011.
-The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries went as high as 2.47% before settling back to 2.42%. That was a level that we have not seen since August 2011, and the 10 year yield is now a full point above the all-time low of 1.4% that we saw back in July 2012.
– The yield on 30 year U.S. Treasuries hit 3.53 percent on Thursday. That was the first time it had been that high since September 2011.
-The CBOE Volatility Index jumped 28 percent on Thursday. It hit 20.49, and this was the first time in 2013 that it has risen above 20. When volatility rises, that means that the markets are getting stressed.
-European stocks got slammed too. The Bloomberg Europe 500 index fell more than 3 percent on Thursday. It was the worst day for European stocks in 20 months.
-In London, the FTSE fell about 3 percent. In Germany, the DAX fell 3.3 percent. In France, the CAC-40 fell 3.7 percent.
-Things continue to get even worse in Japan. The Nikkei has fallen close to 17 percent over the past month.
-Brazilian stocks have fallen by about 15 percent over the past month.
-On Thursday the price of gold got absolutely hammered. Gold was down nearly $100 an ounce. As I am writing this, it is trading at $1273.60.
-Silver got slammed even more than gold did. It fell more than 8 percent. At the moment it is trading at $19.57. That is ridiculously low. I have a feeling that anyone that gets into silver now is going to be extremely happy in the long-term if they are able to handle the wild fluctuations in the short-term.
-Manufacturing activity in China is contracting at a rate that we haven’t seen since the middle of the last recession.
-For the week ending June 15th, initial claims for unemployment benefits in the United States rose by about 18,000 from the previous week to 354,000. This is a number that investors are going to be watching closely in the months ahead.
Needless to say, Thursday was the type of day that investors don’t see too often. The following is what one stock trader told CNBC…
“It’s freaking, crazy now,” said one stock trader during the 3 p.m. ET hour as the Dow sunk more than 350 points. “Even defensive sectors are getting smoked. The super broad-based sell off between commodities, bonds, equities – I wouldn’t say it’s panic, but we’ve seen aggressive selling on the lows.”
Unfortunately, this may just be the beginning.
In fact, Mark J. Grant has suggested that we may see even more panic in the short-term…
Yesterday was the first day of the reversal. There will be more days to come.
What you are seeing, in the first instance, is leverage coming off the table. With short term interest rates right off of Kelvin’s absolute Zero there was been massive leverage utilized in both the bond and equity markets. While it cannot be quantified I can tell you, dealing with so many institutional investors, that the amount of leverage on the books is giant and is now going to get covered. It will not be pretty and it will be a rush through the exit doors as the fire alarm has been pulled by the Fed and the alarms are ringing. There is also an additional problem here.
The Street is not what it was. There is not enough liquidity in the major Wall Street banks, any longer, to deal with the amount of securities that will be thrown at them and I expect the down cycle to get exacerbated by this very real issue. Bernanke is no longer at the gate and the Barbarians are going to be out in force.
If we see global interest rates start to shift in a major way, that is going to be huge.
Well, it is because there are literally hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of interest rate derivatives contracts sitting out there…
The interest rate derivatives market is the largest derivatives market in the world. The Bank for International Settlements estimates that the notional amount outstanding in June 2009 were US$437 trillion for OTC interest rate contracts, and US$342 trillion for OTC interest rate swaps. According to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, 80% of the world’s top 500 companies as of April 2003 used interest rate derivatives to control their cashflows. This compares with 75% for foreign exchange options, 25% for commodity options and 10% for stock options.
If interest rates begin to swing wildly, that could burst the derivatives bubble that I keep talking about.
And when that house of cards starts falling, we are going to see panic that is going to absolutely dwarf anything that we have seen this week.
So keep watching interest rates, and keep listening for any mention of a problem with “derivatives” in the mainstream media.
When the next great financial crash comes, global credit markets are going to freeze up just like they did in 2008. That will cause economic activity to grind to a standstill and a period of deflation will be upon us. Yes, the way that the Federal Reserve and the federal government respond to such a crisis will ultimately cause tremendous inflation, but as I have written about before, deflation will come first.
It would be wise to build up your emergency fund while you still can. When the next great financial crisis fully erupts a lot of people are going to lose their jobs and for a while it will seem like hardly anyone has any extra money. If you have stashed some cash away, you will be in better shape than most people.