Without Low Interest Rates, The U.S. Financial System Dies

Right now, interest rates are near historic lows.  The U.S. government is able to borrow gigantic mountains of money for next to nothing.  U.S. consumers are still able to get home loans, car loans and student loans at ridiculously low interest rates.  When this low interest rate environment changes (and it will), it is going to absolutely devastate the U.S. economy.  Without low interest rates, the U.S. financial system dies.  When it comes to borrowing money, it is the rate of interest that causes the pain.  If you could borrow as much money as you wanted at a zero rate of interest for the rest of your life you would never, ever have a debt problem.  But when there is a cost to borrowing money that changes things.  The higher the rate of interest goes, the more painful debt becomes.

The only reason that U.S. government finances have not fallen apart completely already is because the federal government is still able to borrow huge amounts of money very cheaply.  If interest rates on U.S. government debt even return just to “average” levels, it is going to be absolutely catastrophic.

So what happens if rates go above “average”?

The reality is that if there is a major crisis that causes interest rates on U.S. Treasuries to go well beyond “normal” levels it is going to cause a complete and total collapse.

In 2010, the U.S. government paid out just $413 billion in interest even though the national debt soared to 14 trillion dollars by the end of the year.

That means that the U.S. government paid somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 percent interest for the year.

Considering how rapidly the U.S. dollar has been declining and how much money printing the Federal Reserve has been doing, a rate of interest that low is absolutely ridiculous.

The shorter the term, the more ridiculous the rates of interest on U.S. Treasuries are.

For example, the rate of interest on 3 month U.S. Treasuries right now is just barely above zero.

The Federal Reserve has been playing all kinds of games in an attempt to keep interest rates on U.S. government debt low, and so far they have been pretty successful at it.

But they aren’t going to be able to do it forever.

Up until now, other nations and investors around the world have continued to participate in the system even though they know that the Federal Reserve is cheating.

However, there are signs that a lot of investors are finally getting fed up and are ready to walk away from U.S. government debt.

China has been dumping short-term U.S. government debt.  Russia has been dumping U.S. government debt. Pimco has been dumping U.S. government debt.

Others are taking things even farther.

In fact, there are some investors that plan on cashing in on the loss of confidence in U.S. Treasuries.  Renowned investor Jim Rogers says that he is now going to be shorting 30 year U.S. government bonds.

Just check out what Rogers recently told CNBC….

“I cannot imagine or conceive lending money to the United States government for 30-years at 3, 4, 5 or 6 percent —you pick a number — in U.S. dollars”

And he is right.  Who in the world would be stupid enough to loan the U.S. government money at a 4 or 5 percent rate of interest for the next 30 years?

Actually, most U.S. government debt is financed in the short-term these days.  In fact, the U.S. government issues a higher percentage of short-term debt than any other industrialized nation.

This trend really got started during the Clinton administration.  Back then they figured out that the U.S. could reduce its borrowing costs substantially by relying much more heavily on short-term debt.  The Bush and Obama administrations have continued this trend.

So these days the U.S. government constantly has huge amounts of debt that are maturing and that need to be rolled over.

This is great as long as interest rates stay very, very low.

But when interest rates rise the whole game will change.

In a recent article, Pat Buchanan explained that the Obama administration is being completely unrealistic when it assumes that interest rates on U.S. government debt will stay incredibly low over the next decade….

“The average rate of interest the Fed has had to pay to borrow for the last two decades has been 5.7 percent. However, President Obama is projecting the cost of money at only 2.5 percent.

A return to the normal Fed rate would, by 2020, add $4.9 trillion to the cumulative deficit”

Most Americans really cannot grasp how incredibly low interest rates are right now.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

The following chart shows how interest rates on 10 year U.S. Treasury bonds have declined over the last several decades.

As confidence in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. government debt declines, interest rates will go up.

In fact, there are troubling signs that we are starting to see a move in that direction right now.  Last week, the yield on 5 year U.S. Treasuries experienced the biggest one week percentage jump ever recorded.

The big danger is that the political wrangling in Washington D.C. will start to cause a panic.  The managing director of Standard & Poor’s recently told Reuters that if the U.S. government starts defaulting on debt at the beginning of August, the credit rating on U.S. Treasury bonds that are supposed to mature on August 4th will go from AAA all the way down to D….

Chambers, who is also the chairman of S&P’s sovereign ratings committee, told Reuters on Tuesday that U.S. Treasury bills maturing on August 4 would be rated ‘D’ if the government fails to honor them. Unaffected Treasuries would be downgraded as well, but not as sharply, he said.

“If the U.S. government misses a payment, it goes to D,” Chambers said. “That would happen right after August 4, when the bills mature, because they don’t have a grace period.”

When a credit rating gets slashed, interest rates on that debt can go up dramatically.

Just ask the citizens of Greece.

Today, the interest rate on 2 year Greek bonds is over 26 percent.

You are delusional if you believe that something like that can never happen here.

Right now the U.S. national debt is completely and totally out of control.  If the U.S. government had to start paying interest rates of 10, 15 or 20 percent to borrow money it would be a total nightmare.

This year the U.S. government will have income of about 2.2 trillion dollars.

If in future years the U.S. government is spending a trillion or a trillion and a half dollars just on interest on the national debt, then how in the world is it going to be possible to even run the government, much less balance the budget?

But rising interest rates would not just devastate the federal government.

It would become much more expensive for state and local governments to borrow money.

Student loans would become much more expensive.

Car loans would become much more expensive.

Home loans would become out of reach for everyone except the very wealthy.

As we saw during the housing crash of a few years ago, rising interest rates can absolutely wipe homeowners out.

On a standard home loan, if you change the rate of interest from 5 percent to 10 percent you increase the mortgage payment by approximately 50 percent.

If you change the rate of interest from 5 percent to 15 percent, you roughly double the mortgage payment.

As the 30 year fixed rate mortgage chart below shows, interest rates are near historic lows right now….

Keep in mind that even with such ridiculously low interest rates the U.S. real estate market has been deader than a doornail.

So what would a significant spike in interest rates do to it?

When all of these low interest rates go away the entire financial system is going to change dramatically.

A significant spike in interest rates would wipe out U.S. government finances, it would push state and local governments all over the country to the brink of bankruptcy, it would bring economic activity to a standstill and it would destroy any hopes for a housing recovery.

This country, and in particular the federal government, is enslaved to debt but right now we are not feeling the full pain of that debt because interest rates are so low.

If you want to know when things are really going to start coming apart, just keep an eye on interest rates.  When they really start spiking you can start sounding the alarm.

The truth is that the state of the economy is going to continue to get worse.  Our debt is growing every single day and our country is getting poorer every single day.  When interest rates start surging it is going to start knocking over a lot of dominoes.

I hope you are getting prepared for when that happens.

Good Economic Numbers? Don’t Be Fooled By The Financial Sugar High

The U.S. financial system is like a junkie that needs continually increasing amounts of “junk” to get the same “buzz”.  So what is the U.S. financial system addicted to?  It is addicted to money and debt.  For many years, whenever the Federal Reserve would lower interest rates or the U.S government would borrow and spend more money, the U.S. economy would respond positively.  But just like with any other kind of artificial stimulation, over time it has taken greater and greater amounts of debt and cheap money to get a response from our economic system.  So yes, the fact that the official unemployment rate went down 0.1%  last month is good news, but considering the massive amount of spending that the U.S. government is doing and considering the gigantic quantity of money that the Federal Reserve is injecting into the financial system, the truth is that the unemployment rate should be falling much faster than that.  So don’t be fooled by the good economic numbers and don’t be fooled by the financial “sugar rush”.  The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have been pulling out all the stops to stimulate the economy, and the fact that all of their efforts are barely moving the unemployment rate at all is an indication of just how far our economic situation has degenerated.

Many in the mainstream media were extremely excited when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the U.S. unemployment rate declined to 8.8% in March.  U.S. stocks soared as investors enthusiastically welcomed the news.  But should we all really be jumping up and down over this?

The truth is that some other measures show that the unemployment situation in the United States is becoming worse.

According to Gallup, the number of Americans that are either unemployed or working part-time but desiring full-time work actually rose from 19.8 percent in February to 20.3 percent in March.

So let us not get too excited about the employment situation.  Yes, unemployment is not spinning wildly out of control at the moment and that is good news.

However, when you look at the larger picture things look rather grim.

What the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have been doing is that they have been mortgaging our future big time for short-term economic gain.

This year alone, the U.S. government is going to run an all-time record budget deficit of approximately 1.6 trillion dollars.  By borrowing 1.6 trillion dollars that we do not have and spending it into the system, it does stimulate the economy.

There are some members of Congress that would like to implement substantial budget cuts, but most members of Congress fear doing too much budget cutting right now because it would “harm the economy”.

And you know what?  They are right – budget cuts would harm our economy in the short-term.

But continuing to pile up all of this debt is setting the stage for an absolute economic nightmare in the mid to long term.

We have lived far, far beyond our means for decades, and most of our politicians are acting like this can go forever.

But tell me, does anyone out there actually believe that we can keep expanding the national debt like this indefinitely?….

Yes, government spending does stimulate the economy.  The Keynesians are right about that.

However, by accumulating a national debt that is spinning wildly out of control, we have completely destroyed the economic future of this nation.

The Federal Reserve has been very busy trying to stimulate the U.S. economy as well.

Over the past couple of years, the Fed has been injecting massive amounts of money into the financial system.  The theory is that the financial system will loan this money out to the American people and that will stimulate the economy and create more jobs.

Well, that may very well be true to a certain extent in the short-term, but as I wrote about yesterday, in the long-term this is going to create a substantial amount of inflation.

The chart posted below cannot be emphasized enough.  It shows how the Fed has dramatically increased the size of the adjusted monetary base since mid-2008….

Yes, all of this new money will stimulate economic activity, but it is completely and totally ludicrous for Ben Bernanke to attempt to deny that this is also going to cause significant inflation.

So when taking a look at the economic numbers, it is absolutely critical to keep in mind that our “authorities” have pushed all the chips to the middle of the table in an all-out attempt to stimulate the economy in the short-term.

The small economic “sugar rush” that we are experiencing right now is all we have gotten out of it so far.

Sadly, this is about the best that the U.S. economy is going to do from now on.  Things really are not going to get much better than this.

Yes, unemployment numbers might come down a little more, but pretty soon inflation is going to really kick in and that is going to have a really negative impact on tens of millions of Americans.

First of all, when inflation really starts taking off it is going to be absolutely devastating for those on fixed incomes.  Many of them will be completely wiped out.

Secondly, those that do have jobs are going to find that their incomes are not nearly keeping up with inflation.

In fact, we are seeing this starting to happen already.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. workers in the private sector only saw their pay increase by 2.1% during 2010.

So did what we are paying for food and gas only go up 2.1% in 2010?

Of course not.

So are things getting better so far in 2011?

No.

One of the depressing things about the new numbers released by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was that wages for U.S. workers did not increase in March.

According to the BLS, the average U.S. worker earned $22.87 an hour during the month of March, which is exactly the same number we saw in February.

So inflation is going up and wages are staying flat.

That means that American family budgets are going to be squeezed even more.

In addition, the numbers from the BLS show that it is still incredibly difficult to get a job.  In fact, the average length of unemployment in the U.S. is now an all-time record 39 weeks.

So is anyone doing well right now?

Well, yes – as I have written about previously, those at the very top of the food chain are doing quite well these days.

According to USA Today, median CEO pay soared 27 percent during 2010.  For the year, median CEO pay was a stunning $9.0 million.

Wouldn’t you like to be making 9 million dollars a year?

According a recent report by CNN, the 25 highest-paid hedge fund managers in the United States combined to bring in an astounding $22.07 billion in income during 2010.

Wouldn’t you like to get just a small piece of that?

All of the measures that the government and the Federal Reserve are using to stimulate the economy are causing tremendous distortions in our financial system.

Wall Street is absolutely swimming in cash right now.  There are some people that are making obscene amounts of money.

But ultimately the party is going to end for all of us.

It has been incredibly foolish for the government and the Fed to go “all in” in a desperate attempt to boost short-term economic numbers.

Our long-term economic future is completely gone.  Our financial system is heading for a horrible collapse.  It is not a matter of “if” it will happen, but rather “when” it will happen.

You better buckle up and get ready.

Debt Problem: Who In The World Is Going To Buy The Billions Of Dollars Of Debt The U.S. Government Is Constantly Pumping Out Now?

Is the U.S. government on the verge of a massive debt problem?  For years, the U.S. government has been able to borrow all the money that it has wanted to at extremely low interest rates.  But now many of the lending sources that the U.S. government has been depending on are drying up.  Even before this recent crisis in Japan, a number of big players were moving away from U.S. Treasuries and the U.S. Federal Reserve was having to step in to pick up the slack.  But now this debt crunch is about to get a whole lot worse.  For years, many had feared that it would be China that would start dumping U.S. government debt, but now it turns out that Japan is going to be the real problem.  Right now, Japan is the second largest foreign holder of U.S. government debt.  Japan currently holds about $882 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds and they are likely going to have to liquidate much of that in order to fund the rebuilding of their nation.  So needless to say they won’t be accumulating any more U.S. government debt.  But the U.S. government still needs to borrow a trillion and a half dollars from someone every single year.  So where in the world are they going to get it?

This is called a debt problem.  Have you ever gotten to the point where you are in debt up to your eyeballs and nobody wants to lend you any more money?

Well, the U.S. government is rapidly reaching that point.

Even before the crisis in Japan, several of the big boys had starting moving away from U.S. government debt.

PIMCO, the biggest bond fund on the entire globe, recently acknowledged that they are dumping all of their U.S. Treasuries.

So if foreign nations like Japan are not gobbling up U.S. government debt and big bond funds like PIMCO are not buying any of it, then who in the world is going to be purchasing the massive amounts of debt that the U.S. government is constantly pumping out?

Well, many of you already know that answer.

The Federal Reserve is going to step in of course.  The Federal Reserve knows that if the U.S. government cannot borrow gigantic quantities of money at super low interest rates it will go broke.  So the Federal Reserve is just going to keep buying up most new U.S. government debt.  It is just that simple.

But isn’t that a Ponzi scheme?

Of course it is.  Let’s not mince words here.  It is a total scam.

And it is a scam that cannot go on indefinitely.

The truth is that the Ponzi Scheme of the U.S. Treasury issuing bonds and the Federal Reserve buying them up cannot last forever as PIMCO’s Bill Gross noted in his March newsletter….

“Basically, the recent game plan is as simple as the Ohio State Buckeyes’ “three yards and a cloud of dust” in the 1960s. When applied to the Treasury market it translates to this: The Treasury issues bonds and the Fed buys them. What could be simpler, and who’s to worry? This Sammy Scheme as I’ve described it in recent Outlooks is as foolproof as Ponzi and Madoff until… until… well, until it isn’t.”

Gross also noted in his recent newsletter that the Federal Reserve is currently buying up about 70 percent of all new U.S. government debt.

So now that Japan is out of the picture, how high will that figure go now?

80 percent?

90 percent?

Over the past several weeks there has been all kinds of speculation about whether “quantitative easing” will be extended past June or not.

Well, whether they call it “quantitative easing” or not, the truth is that the Federal Reserve is going to have to continue to “buy” most new U.S. government debt or the system will crash.

We have gotten to the point where the U.S. federal government cannot continue to function without Federal Reserve monetization of the debt.

This is a sign that we are rapidly approaching the financial endgame.

So why doesn’t the U.S. government just stop spending so much stinking money and stop getting us all into so much debt?

Well, because there isn’t enough political will in Washington D.C. to do any real budget cuts, and if our politicians did balance the budget at this point it would crash the economy.

Just the other day, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to fund the federal government that would cut 6 billion dollars from U.S. government spending.

On that exact same day, the official U.S. national debt figure rose by 72 billion dollars.

Now the debt normally does not go up that much on a typical day.  But what this example does show is the losing battle that our politicians are fighting.

On Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned a House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee that they should not even think about not raising the debt ceiling….

“Congress has to do it. There’s no alternative.”

The truth is that the U.S. government has to keep going into more debt.  Under the current system the alternative would be to collapse the economy.

But the debt that we have already piled on to the backs of future generations is absolutely criminal.

How mad do you think future generations are going to be with us for heaping 14 trillion dollars of debt on to their shoulders?

Talk about a debt problem!

But this is what we get for allowing a private central bank to run our financial system.  This debt-based system was designed to fail from its very inception.

The man supposedly “in charge” over at the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, has a track of record of incompetence that is absolutely staggering.  It is a mystery why our representatives in Washington D.C. are not howling for his resignation.

Instead, most of our politicians continue to express blind faith in our current financial system and they continue to insist that everything is going to be okay.

Well, everything is not going to be okay.  The Obama administration is projecting that the federal budget deficit for this fiscal year will be an all-time record 1.65 trillion dollars.

Of course they are also trying to convince us that budget deficits will go down in future years, but by now we should all know not to trust the rosy future projections of government officials.

After all, it was only a few short years ago that Bush administration officials were promising that we would be swimming in huge budget surpluses by now.

The truth is that the government has been lying about all of this for a long time.  For now, the Federal Reserve is just going to keep monetizing U.S. government debt for as long as it can.

This Ponzi scheme will keep on working and working and working until someday it simply doesn’t anymore.

When that day arrives, the U.S. government debt problem is going to unleash hell on world financial markets.

Is Ben Bernanke A Liar, A Lunatic Or Is He Just Completely And Totally Incompetent?

Did you see Ben Bernanke’s testimony before the House Budget Committee on Wednesday? It was quite a show. Bernanke seems to believe that if he just keeps on repeating the same mantras over and over that somehow they will become true. Bernanke insists that the economy is getting much better, that quantitative easing will lower long-term interest rates, that all of this money printing by the Federal Reserve is not causing inflation and that the Fed knows exactly what needs to be done to dramatically reduce unemployment inside the United States.  So is anyone out there still actually buying what Bernanke is selling?  Sure, a handful of people in the mainstream media still have complete faith in Bernanke.  But for the rest of us, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is something really “off” about Bernanke.  So just what is going on with him?  Is he lying to all of us on purpose?  Could he be insane?  Is he just completely and totally incompetent?

Bernanke’s track record of failure is absolutely stunning.  Before discussing some of his most recent comments, let’s review some of the pearls of wisdom that Bernanke has shared with us in recent years….

2005:  “House prices have risen by nearly 25 percent over the past two years. Although speculative activity has increased in some areas, at a national level these price increases largely reflect strong economic fundamentals.”

2005: “We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.”

2006: “Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.”

2007: “At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained. In particular, mortgages to prime borrowers and fixed-rate mortgages to all classes of borrowers continue to perform well, with low rates of delinquency.”

2007: “It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve – nor would it be appropriate – to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions.”

2008: “The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”

So should we believe anything that Bernanke is saying now?

Of course not.

Obviously Bernanke has been feeding us all a whole bunch of nonsense for a very long time.

So what conclusion should we come to about Bernanke at this point?

Well, as I see it, there are three primary alternatives….

1 – Bernanke knows that what he is telling us is wrong and he is purposely trying to deceive us.  That would make him a liar.

2 – Bernanke actually believes what he is saying because he is completely delusional.  That would make him a lunatic.

3– Bernanke actually believes what he is saying because he simply does not understand economics.  This would make him completely and totally incompetent.

In any event, someone with Bernanke’s track record should not still have such a high level job.  He should have been asked to resign long, long ago.

But instead, Obama nominated him for another term and he was approved by our incompetent Congress.

It is a crazy world in which we live.

So what is Bernanke saying now?

Let’s take a look at some of his main points…..

Bernanke Says That One Of The Main Goals Of Quantitative Easing Is To Reduce Long-Term Interest Rates

During one interview about QE2, Bernanke made the following statement….

“The money supply is not changing in any significant way. What we’re doing is lowering interest rates by buying Treasury securities.”

In fact, Bernanke elaborated on that point during his remarks on Wednesday….

Conventional monetary policy easing works by lowering market expectations for the future path of short-term interest rates … By comparison, the Federal Reserve’s purchases of longer-term securities do not affect very short-term interest rates, which remain close to zero, but instead put downward pressure directly on longer-term interest rates.  With the Fed funds rate at the zero bound, the Fed had to resort to unconventional policy to provide further accommodation.

So how is all that working out?

Terribly.

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes has risen from 2.49 percent back in November to 3.65 percent at the close of business on Wednesday.

Oops.

Long-term interest rates were supposed to go down as a result of quantitative easing, but instead they have increased substantially.

Looks like Bernanke was wrong about another one.

Bernanke Says That Quantitative Easing Is Not Going To Cause Inflation

The price of wheat has roughly doubled since last summer, the price of corn has roughly doubled since last summer and the price of oil is marching up towards $100 a barrel.

But oh, there is no inflation so there is no need to worry according to Bernanke.

Food riots are breaking out around the globe, but Bernanke says that the inflation in those countries is being caused by their own central banks.

Bernanke says that the Federal Reserve has nothing to do with international inflation even though the U.S. dollar is the primary reserve currency of the world.

Bernanke says that even though consumers are seeing huge price increases in the supermarket and at the gas pump that we aren’t really seeing any real inflation because the fraudulent U.S. consumer price index says so.

It is a wonder that anyone still considers this guy to be credible.

Bernanke Says That Quantitative Easing Is Helping The Economy Recover And Is Reducing Unemployment

During his remarks on Wednesday, Bernanke said that the recent decline in the U.S. unemployment rate was “grounds for optimism”.

And, of course, he is glad to take part of the credit for the “recovery”.

Oh really?

Things are getting better?

As I wrote about a few days ago, the “decline” in the U.S. unemployment rate during January to 9.0% is no reason to celebrate.

First of all, the U.S. economy must add 150,000 jobs each month just to keep up with population growth.

During January, the U.S. economy only added 36,000 jobs.

So why did the unemployment rate go down?

Well, the U.S. government said that 504,000 American workers “dropped out of the labor force” in January.

Well, isn’t that convenient.

Let’s just pretend a half million unemployed workers are not even there.

Yeah, that will make the numbers look better!

Sadly, the number of Americans that are “not in the labor force” but that would like a job right now has hit an all-time record high.  If you add all of those people into the official unemployment figure it would jump to 12.8%.

The truth is that the employment situation in America is not getting any better.  In fact, according to Gallup, the unemployment rate actually increased to 9.8% at the end of January.

Perhaps Bernanke should reconsider how much “better” things are really getting.

Bernanke Says That Now Is Not The Time To Reduce The Deficit

When it comes to the national debt, Ben Bernanke is constantly talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Bernanke is constantly saying that the exploding U.S. national debt is very dangerous (and he is very right about that point), but Bernanke also says that now is definitely not the time to do anything about it.

In fact, recently Bernanke has been purposely stepping into the partisan debate about whether to raise the debt ceiling or not.

Bernanke says that Republicans should stand down and that now is not the time to be playing political games with the debt ceiling.  Bernanke has been warning that the consequences for not raising the debt ceiling could be catastrophic….

“We do not want to default on our debts. It would be very destructive.”

Over and over Bernanke has been saying that the economic recovery is still fragile and that now is not the time be cutting deeply into the federal budget.

So when is the right time?

Well, with these central bankers it seems like it is never time to address all of this debt.  It seems like they always want us to “have a long-term plan” to tackle the debt in the future but to keep borrowing and spending in the present.

Well, it looks like that is exactly what the Obama administration plans to keep doing.  This year it is being projected that the U.S. government will have the biggest budget deficit ever recorded – approximately 1.5 trillion dollars.

Keep in mind that the total U.S. national debt did not surpass 1.5 trillion dollars until the mid-1980s.

That means that this year we will accumulate more debt than we did for over the first 200 years that this nation was in existence.

Oh, but according to Bernanke we better not do anything to address our out of control debt because that would “harm the economic recovery”.

In the end, all of this government debt is going to become so monstrous that it is going to swallow us whole.  We can try to keep running from it, but we can’t hide.  Someday the gigantic debt monster that we have created is going to catch up with us.

So, yes, there are a whole lot of reasons to be really upset with Ben Bernanke.

Perhaps he would be a fun guy to sit down and talk to at a backyard barbecue, but he isn’t the type of person that you would want to entrust with any real responsibility, and he most definitely is not someone that should be running the largest economy in the history of the planet.

59.9 Percent? Americans Are Racking Up Huge Credit Card Balances Once Again And Some Of The Interest Rates Are Absolutely Outrageous!

Well, it was nice while it lasted.  One of the really good things that came out of the recent economic downturn was that millions of American families decided to get out of debt.  In particular, we had seen a sustained trend of reduced credit card usage in the United States.  It looked like Americans had finally wised up.  But we should have known that Americans would not be willing to tighten their belts forever.  Unfortunately, it appears that getting out of debt is no longer so “trendy”.  In fact, the month of December was the third month in a row in which consumer credit grew in the United States.  Prior to that, consumer credit in the United States had declined for 20 months in a row.  The American people were doing so, so good.  Why did they have to stop?  It appears that the American people have fallen off the wagon and have gotten a taste for credit card debt once again.  This time, however, the credit card companies are back with interest rates that are higher than ever.  In fact, one national credit card company has hundreds of thousands of customers signed up for a card that charges interest rates of up to 59.9%.

59.9%?

You mean there are people that are stupid enough to actually sign up for a credit card that will charge them 59.9% interest?

Unfortunately the answer is yes.

In fact, the top rate was 79.9% before First Premier Bank lowered it.

These cards are targeted at Americans that have a poor credit history, and these days there are a whole lot of those.

A recent story on the website of CNN described how large numbers of U.S. consumers with poor credit are gobbling up credit cards like these.  Unfortunately, many of these consumers are also not smart enough to realize what they are getting into.  The CNN story contained a quote from a woman who was in complete shock when she discovered that her interest rate was going to go up by 50 percentage points….

“I about had a heart attack when I got a disclosure notice saying that my starting rate of 29.9% was going up to 79.9%.”

First Premier Bank has since lowered the top rate on those cards to 59.9%, but that it still completely outrageous.

Not only are the interest rates on those cards super high, but they also charge a whole bunch of fees on those cards as well.  The following are some of the fees that First Premier Bank charges….

*$45 processing fee to open the account

*Annual fee of $30 for the first year

*$45 fee for every subsequent year

*A monthly servicing fee of $6.25

So you would think that nobody in their right mind would ever sign up for such a card, right?

Wrong.

CNN is reporting that almost 700,000 Americans have signed up for the card.

Ouch.

In fact, CNN says that First Premier Bank gets between 200,000 to 300,000 new applications a month for the card, but that they only open about 50,000 new accounts each month.

Are there really this many Americans that are this gullible?

If Americans would just remember the “DBS” rule they would be so much better off.

DBS = Don’t Be Stupid

Do you know how long it would take to pay off a credit card with a 59.9 percent interest rate?

Just a 20 percent interest rate is bad enough.

According to the credit card repayment calculator, if you owe $6000 on a credit card with a 20 percent interest rate and only pay the minimum payment each time, it will take you 54 years to pay off that credit card.

During that time you will pay $26,168 in interest rate charges in addition to the $6000 in principal that you are required to pay back.

Ouch!

The number one piece of financial advice that most of the “financial gurus” give is that you should get out of credit card debt – particularly credit card debt that has a high interest rate.

Unfortunately, 46% of all Americans carry a credit card balance from month to month today.

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 1.5 billion credit cards in use in the United States.

Of U.S. households that have credit card debt, the average amount owed on credit cards is $15,788.

This is how the bankers enslave us.

We end up paying them 3, 4 or even 5 times as much as we originally borrowed.

Month after month after month we slave away to make them wealthy.

So how do you stop this vicious cycle?

You quit buying stuff that you can’t afford!

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans have never received any formal training on how to manage finances.

Most of us were never taught any of this stuff in school.  Most of us were totally unprepared when the financial predators started preying on us in college.  Most of us got sucked in and spent years and years trapped in credit card debt.

When you carry a balance from month to month you are willingly signing up to become a debt servant to the big banks.  They get rich while you suffer.

The sad thing is that the mainstream media is pointing to increased credit card spending as a sign that the U.S. economy is getting back to normal.

But gigantic mountains of debt is what got us into all of this trouble in the first place.

Average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136% of average household income.

In China that figure is only 17%.

Obviously, we have a massive, massive problem with debt in this country.

Cranking the debt spiral back up is not going to cause the economy to recover.

Well, the profits of the big banks might recover, but the rest of us will suffer.

If you want to be financially free, then it is time to pay off your credit card debt and get off the debt payment treadmill for good.

The entire global economy is on the verge of collapse, so now is a great time to renounce consumerism.  Instead, we need to be preparing ourselves and our families for the hard times that are coming.

So what do you all think about the outrageous interest rates that the credit card companies are charging these days?  Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below….

How In The World Did We Get To The Point Where The Federal Reserve Is Printing Money Out Of Thin Air Whenever It Wants?

Ben Bernanke and the rest of the folks over at the Federal Reserve did not just wake up one day and decide that they wanted to start printing hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air.  The truth is that the economic forces that have brought us to this point have taken decades to develop.  In the post-World War 2 era, when the U.S. economy has fallen into a recession, either the Federal Reserve would lower interest rates or the U.S. government would indulge in even more deficit spending to stimulate the economy.  But now, as you will see below, both of those alternatives have been exhausted.  In addition, we are now rapidly reaching the point where there are simply not enough lenders out there to feed the U.S. government’s voracious appetite for debt.  So now the Federal Reserve is openly printing hundreds of billions of dollars that will enable them to finance U.S. government borrowing, and (they hope) stimulate the U.S. economy at the same time.  Unfortunately, the rest of the world is not amused.  Nations such as China, Japan and many of the oil-exporting nations of the Middle East have accumulated a lot of U.S. dollars and a lot of U.S. Treasuries and they are not pleased that those investments are now being significantly devalued.

So how did we get to this point?  Why is the Federal Reserve printing money out of thin air in a desperate attempt to stimulate the economy?

Well, the Federal Reserve has more or less exhausted all of the other tools that it has traditionally used to help the economy during an economic downturn.  As you can see from the chart below, the Federal Reserve has lowered interest rates during past recessions.  The goal of lowering interest rates is to make it less expensive to borrow money and thus spark more economic activity.  Well, as you can see, the Federal Reserve has no place else to go with interest rates.  Over the past 30 years, rates have consistently been pushed down, down, down and now they are kissing the floor….

Another way that the U.S. economy has been “stimulated” over the past 30 years is through increased government spending.  The theory is that if the government spends more money, that will get more cash into the hands of the people and spark more economic activity.  That was the whole idea behind the “economic stimulus packages” that were pushed through Congress.  However, increased government spending always comes at a very high cost under our current system.  Government debt is now totally out of control.  As you can see below, the U.S. national debt has exploded from about one trillion dollars in 1980 to over 13 trillion dollars today.  Currently, there is very little appetite in Congress for more government spending to stimulate the economy, especially after the results of the November election.

Most Americans don’t realize it, but much of our incredible “prosperity” over the last 30 years has been fueled by the mountains of debt that we have accumulated.  Now U.S. government debt is exploding at an exponential rate….

Sadly, the U.S. government has absolutely no self-control when it comes to spending money.  Our politicians are absolutely addicted to debt.

The truth is that the U.S. government just can’t seem to stop wasting money. One of the most comical news stories of the past few days involved the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, which is a sub-committee of the larger Recovery Accountability and Transparency board.  This panel will be holding a meeting on November 22nd to discuss how to prevent “fraud, waste, and abuse” of economic stimulus funds.

So where will this meeting be held?

It is going to be held at the ultra-luxurious Ritz Carlton Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.

Yes, seriously.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

So if the Federal Reserve cannot stimulate the economy through lower interest rates and the U.S. government cannot stimulate the economy by spending even more money, what does that leave us with?

Unfortunately, that leaves us with either doing nothing or with having the Federal Reserve print money out of thin air and shovel it into the economy.

Sadly, even after months of news headlines about quantitative easing, most Americans still do not understand what it is.  The following is a short video that is very humorous but that also does a good job of simply explaining what quantitative easing is and why it is bad for the U.S. economy….

Quantitative Easing Explained

For much more on why quantitative easing is so destructive, please see an article that I previously authored entitled “9 Reasons Why Quantitative Easing Is Bad For The U.S. Economy“.  The truth is that in an all-out effort to give the U.S. economy a short-term boost, the Federal Reserve is putting the entire world financial system in peril.

One group of prominent economists was so alarmed by this new round of quantitative easing that they recently wrote an open letter to Ben Bernanke warning of the dangers that flooding the economy with new money could create.  The following is an excerpt from the text of that open letter which was also posted on the website of the Wall Street Journal…..

We believe the Federal Reserve’s large-scale asset purchase plan (so-called “quantitative easing”) should be reconsidered and discontinued.  We do not believe such a plan is necessary or advisable under current circumstances.  The planned asset purchases risk currency debasement and inflation, and we do not think they will achieve the Fed’s objective of promoting employment.

We subscribe to your statement in the Washington Post on November 4 that “the Federal Reserve cannot solve all the economy’s problems on its own.”  In this case, we think improvements in tax, spending and regulatory policies must take precedence in a national growth program, not further monetary stimulus.

We disagree with the view that inflation needs to be pushed higher, and worry that another round of asset purchases, with interest rates still near zero over a year into the recovery, will distort financial markets and greatly complicate future Fed efforts to normalize monetary policy.

The Fed’s purchase program has also met broad opposition from other central banks and we share their concerns that quantitative easing by the Fed is neither warranted nor helpful in addressing either U.S. or global economic problems.

But it isn’t just a few prominent economists that are expressing disapproval for this new round of quantitative easing.  The truth is that almost every major industrialized nation has spoken out against all of this money printing by the Fed.  Meanwhile, Barack Obama continues to publicly defend Ben Bernanke and this new round of quantitative easing at every opportunity.

That is some “change you can believe in”, eh?

Unfortunately, the danger that quantitative easing poses to our financial system is much greater than most Americans realize.

In order for the world financial system to operate smoothly, the rest of the world much have a great deal of faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasuries.  Ben Bernanke had promised Congress (and the rest of the globe) that the Federal Reserve would not monetize U.S. government debt and that he was going to keep the U.S. dollar strong.  But now Bernanke has broken his promises once again.  At this point Bernanke has lost a ton of credibility.  Unfortunately, Barack Obama and many of the key members of Congress continue to express unwavering support for him.

The rest of the world can see what is going on.  They are not stupid.  They are not going to keep pouring hundreds of billions into U.S. Treasuries if the Federal Reserve is going to “cheat” whenever economic conditions get a little tough.

If the day arrives when the rest of the globe completely loses faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasuries, it is going to create a complete and total financial disaster – especially for the United States.

Federal Reserve Officials: Americans Are Saving Too Much Money So We Need To Purposely Generate More Inflation To Get Them Spending Again

Some top Federal Reserve officials have come up with a really bizarre proposal for stimulating the U.S. economy.  As unbelievable as it sounds, what they actually propose to do is to purposely raise the rate of inflation so that Americans will stop saving so much money and will start spending wildly again.  The idea behind it is that if inflation rises a couple of percentage points, but consumers are only earning half a percent (or less) on their savings accounts, then there will be an incentive for consumers to spend that money as the value of it deteriorates sitting in the bank.  Yes, that is how bizarre things have gotten.  It is not as if U.S. consumers are even saving that much money.  Several decades ago, Americans typically saved between 8 and 12 percent of their incomes, but over this past decade the personal saving rate got down near zero a number of times as Americans were living far beyond their means.  Once the recession hit, Americans very wisely started saving more money, and so now the personal saving rate has been hovering around the 5 to 7 percent range.  This is well below historical levels, but the folks at the Fed apparently are eager for Americans to pull that money out and start spending it again.

In an article entitled “Fed Officials Mull Inflation as a Fix“, Wall Street Journal columnist Sudeep Reddy described this bizarre new economic approach that some over at the Federal Reserve are now advocating….   

“But as the U.S. economy struggles and flirts with the prospect of deflation, some central bank officials are publicly broaching a controversial idea: lifting inflation above the Fed’s informal target.”

Does increasing inflation as a way to stimulate the economy sound like a good idea to any of you?

These are supposed to be some of the brightest economic minds that our nation has produced.

Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the folks running the Federal Reserve do not have a clue about sound economic policy.

Anyone who lived through the “stagflation” days of the 1970s should know that inflation does not spur economic growth.

But now some of the most prominent Fed officials are publicly proposing that we should purposely generate more inflation so that “real interest rates” (interest rates with inflation factored in) will go down.

For example, during a recent interview the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Charles Evans, made the following statement….

“It seems to me if we could somehow get lower real interest rates so that the amount of excess savings that is taking place relative to investment needs is lowered, that would be one channel for stimulating the economy.”

If you truly grasp what Evans is proposing here, your jaw should be dropping.

He is basically coming right out and saying, “Hey, let’s go out and crank up the inflation rate so that American consumers will start recklessly spending their money again.”

So are Americans really saving too much money?

Of course not.

Just take a look at the chart below.

Americans are actually still saving far, far less than they used to.  As you can see from the chart, in the 1960s and 1970s Americans would usually save somewhere between 8 to 12 percent of their incomes.

Today, we are still well below that level.  But we have made some progress from the reckless days of five to ten years ago when Americans were living far, far, far beyond their means and basically saving next to nothing….

So now some top Fed officials want to undo all that.  They apparently want Americans to grab their credit cards and to run out to the stores and spend wildly like they did a few years ago.

But spending recklessly is not going to repair our economy.  In order to have a healthy, balanced economy you need to have a healthy personal saving rate.  Encouraging Americans to spend every last nickel they have may boost economic figures in the short-term, but it will make our long-term problems even worse.

But it is not just Federal Reserve officials that are advocating this kind of nonsense.  Just a few months ago, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard suggested that it might be a good thing if western nations doubled their inflation targets from two percent to four percent. 

It seems like almost everyone is in an inflationary mood these days.

The Federal Reserve keep dropping hints that it is ready to print lots more money and unleash another huge round of quantitative easing.

Just this past week, the Bank of Japan shocked world financial markets by cutting interest rates even closer to zero and by setting up a 5 trillion yen quantitative easing fund.

In fact, nations all over the world have become increasingly eager to devalue their national currencies in an attempt to gain an edge in international trade.

So after years of relatively low inflation, it looks like our leaders are almost eager to tangle with the inflation tiger once again.

But it might not be so easy to tame the next time.

Once a really bad inflation spiral gets going it is really hard to stop.

But in the end, it is not going to be Barack Obama or the U.S. Congress that is going to decide if we pursue these inflationary policies or not. 

Ultimately, these decisions are in the hands of the unelected, unaccountable Federal Reserve.

If you don’t like it, too bad.  When was the last time a U.S. president or the U.S. Congress really stood up to the Federal Reserve?  It just doesn’t seem to happen.

The Federal Reserve is going to do what the Federal Reserve wants to do, and the rest of us are going to have to live with it.

Of course we could all try to elect candidates who would demand more accountability from the Federal Reserve this fall, but unfortunately those kind of candidates are few and far between.

The sad reality is that at this point, the Federal Reserve is pretty much completely and totally out of control.  The U.S. dollar has already lost over 95 percent of its value since 1913, and now the Federal Reserve is giving every indication that inflation is going to get even worse in the years to come.

But flooding the system with more paper money is not going to solve anything.  Instead, it is just going to make it even harder for average American families to buy milk and bread and to put gas in the car.

Inflation is a hidden tax on every single dollar that we already own.  It is a destroyer of wealth and a wrecker of currencies. 

But now some of the top officials at the Fed see inflation as a key tool in creating “economic growth”. 

With such a clueless collection of idiots running our economy (and the Federal Reserve does run our economy) do any of you actually believe that there is hope for the U.S. economic system in the long run?

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!