Global Markets Continue To Fall As Bloomberg Warns “The Next Financial Crisis Is Staring Us In The Face”…

It looks like it could be another tough week for global financial markets.  As the week began, markets were down all over the world, and relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia have taken a sudden turn for the worse.  That could potentially mean much, much higher oil prices, and needless to say that would be a very bad thing for the U.S. economy.  It has really surprised many of us how dramatically events have begun to accelerate here in the month of October, and the mood on Wall Street has taken a decidedly negative turn.  Yes, U.S. stocks did bounce back a bit on Friday (as I correctly anticipated), but it was much less of a bounce than many investors were hoping for.  And this week got off to a rough start with all of the major markets in Asia down significantly

In the Greater China region, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong fell by around 0.9 percent in early trade. The Shanghai composite also slipped by 0.33 percent while the Shenzhen composite bucked the overall trend to edge up by 0.4 percent.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell by 1.48 percent in morning trade, while the Topix index slipped by 1.17 percent, with most sectors trending lower.

But what happened in Asia was nothing compared to what we witnessed in Saudi Arabia.

At one point the stock market in Saudi Arabia had plummeted 7 percent after news broke that President Trump warned that the Saudis could face “severe punishment” for the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudis are denying doing anything wrong, but everyone agrees that he is missing, and everyone agrees that he was last spotted entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd.

And it is being reported that U.S. intelligence had previously intercepted communications which indicated that the Saudis planned to abduct Khashoggi.

It is believed that Khashoggi was dismembered after being abducted by the Saudis, and all of the major western powers have expressed major concern about his fate.  But the Saudis insist that they didn’t have anything to do with his disappearance, and they are threatening “greater action” if any sanctions are imposed upon them.  The following comes from USA Today

Saudi Arabia denied any involvement in the disappearance of Washington Post contributing journalist Jamal Khashoggi and warned Sunday that any sanctions against the oil-rich kingdom would be met with “greater action” and possibly exploding oil prices.

“The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures or repeating false accusations,” the government said  in a statement released to Saudi media. “The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action.”

So what might that “greater action” look like?

Well, one Saudi official is warning that the price of oil could rise to “$100, or $200, or even double that figure”

In a column published just after the SPA statement, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya channel’s General Manager Turki Aldakhil warned that imposing sanctions on the world’s largest oil exporter could spark global economic disaster.

“It would lead to Saudi Arabia’s failure to commit to producing 7.5 million barrels. If the price of oil reaching $80 angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure,” he wrote.

If the price of oil did shoot up to $200 a barrel, that would be absolutely crippling for the U.S. economy.

You see, it wouldn’t just cost a whole lot more to fill up your gas tank.  Virtually everything that we buy has to be transported vast distances, and so the price of gasoline must be factored into all of those products.

The price of food is already ridiculously high, and so I don’t even want to imagine what a trip to the grocery store might look like if the Saudis follow through on their threats.

Meanwhile, warnings from the mainstream media of a new crisis on Wall Street continue to become even more dramatic.  For example, the following comes from a Bloomberg article entitled “The Next Financial Crisis Is Staring Us in the Face”

The financial crisis ripped through Wall Street 10 years ago, pushing the global economy to the edge of the abyss. One might think those searing experiences would have created a learning opportunity — for managing risk better, understanding structural imbalances in the financial markets, even learning a bit about how our own cognitive processes malfunction.

Instead, we have little new wisdom or self-awareness to show for that traumatic event.

And this is how that Bloomberg article ended

As memories of the crisis fade as the economy recovers, we find the seeds of the next crisis are already being planted. They are the exact same issues of debt and mismanaging risk and not understanding our own limitations. Failing to learn from our prior experiences, we seem doomed to repeat them. We only have ourselves to blame.

That sounds like it could have been ripped right out of The Economic Collapse Blog.

Of course the author of that Bloomberg article is right on the money.  We never learned the very hard lessons that we should have learned from the crisis of 2008.  Instead, we simply reinflated all of the old bubbles and made them bigger than ever before.

Now America is 68 trillion dollars in debt, and our day of reckoning is so close that even the mainstream media is sounding the alarm.

It should be another very interesting week.  Monday may set the tone for the entire week, and so hopefully U.S. markets will bounce back some more.  If they don’t, it could set off another round of panic…

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

October Horror On Wall Street: Investors Nervously Watch To See If The S&P 500 Will Bounce Back Above Its 200-Day Moving Average

Is this going to be another October to remember for Wall Street?  As I have explained previously, the month of October has historically been the worst month by far for the U.S. stock market, and it has also been the month when our most famous stock market crashes have taken place. The stock market crash that started the Great Depression in 1929 happened in October.  The largest single day percentage decline in stock market history happened in October 1987.  And most of us still remember what happened in October 2008.  So will we be adding October 2018 to that list?  Well, so far things are certainly moving in that direction.  Between Wednesday and Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged a total of 1,378 points.  And the S&P 500 has now broken below the all-important 200-day moving average.  If the S&P 500 bounces back above the 200-day moving average on Friday, that will be a sign that things have stabilized at least for the moment.  If that doesn’t happen, all hell might break loose next week.

Personally, I believe that the S&P 500 will bounce back on Friday, but that doesn’t mean that the crisis is over.  Remember, some of the best days in stock market history happened right in the middle of the financial crisis of 2008.  During market panics, we should expect to see dramatic ups and downs.  When markets are calm, that is good news for stocks, but when markets start swinging wildly that is usually a sign to start heading for the exits.

And without a doubt, we have witnessed quite a bit of volatility over the past two days…

-The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now down almost 2000 points from the all-time high that was established just last week.

-The S&P 500 has now fallen for six trading sessions in a row.  That is the longest streak since the 2016 presidential election.

-The Nasdaq is having its worst month since November 2008.

-The Russell 2000 is now down 11.2 percent from the 52-week high, which means that it is officially in correction territory.

-Netflix has fallen 11 percent in just the past week.

-Facebook has lost of whopping 30 percent of its value since July.

-Only 1.5 percent of S&P 500 tech stocks are currently above their 50 day moving averages.

-Wednesday’s decline was the third largest single day stock market point crash in all of U.S. history.

-On Thursday, gold futures shot up by the most that we have seen since Brexit.

-European stocks just hit 20-month lows.

-Italian stocks have officially entered bear market territory.

When markets begin to fall precipitously, often forced selling can accelerate that process.

The following is how Andrew Zatlin described this in his most recent article

You get a call: your $1M stock is now worth only $950K.  The lender can only allow you to have a loan of $475K, and your loan is for $500K.  Problem part 2: that $500K loan also dropped 5% and you are down to $475K.

The lender feels very sorry for you, sends you a ghost hug emoji (it’s a hug that you can’t feel but you know is there).  Unfortunately, you have 1 day to pay back the $25K.  It’s the law and if you don’t get them money by close of business, they will liquidate your stock until they get the $25K

You’ve had paper gains and paper losses, depending on the ebb and flow of the market.  But now your paper loss is going to be a real loss.

You aren’t allowed to ride out the loss: the loan is due in part TODAY.

You have what retail investors know as a margin call.

The term for this situation – extending your market position by borrowing against your existing liquid value  – is called leverage.  And the recent drop in the market means that investors are now over-leveraged.

Forced selling is the meme for the day.  Fire sales will be underway.

Right now, Wall Street is more leveraged that it has ever been before.

As long as stocks have been going up, that hasn’t been a problem and everyone has been making money.

But when stocks start to go down, suddenly that becomes a massive problem.

And it looks like we may have had some dramatic “forced selling” in the market on Wednesday.  At one point in the afternoon, the market was suddenly flooded with sell orders

Today was different, because shortly after 2:40pm when a massive selling program emerged as if out of nowhere and sent the Dow Jones plummeting by over 600 points in a manner of minutes, the selling volume was indeed one for the ages.

According to the NYSE TICK, or uptick minus downtick, index, at precisely 2:43pm, the selling order flood was so big it not only surpassed the acute liquidation that was observed around 3PM on Wednesday, but the -1,793 print was one that had not been seen for 8 years: as Bay Crest Partners technical analyst Jonathan Krinsky wrote, the sudden and violent surge in selling as measured by the TICK index, when downtick volume overpowered upticks, was the lowest reading since the May 6, 2010 “flash crash” when liquidity dried up in markets, sending the market plummeting for a few minutes, as HFT briefly went haywire (or when a spoofer outsmarted the algos, depending on what version of events one believes).

In any case, “someone” was in a massive hurry to get out of the market and was willing to hit literally any and every bid in doing so.

But now that the panic selling seems to have subsided, many “experts” are urging investors to use this as a “buying opportunity”

“We look at this as a buying opportunity,” said Dryden Pence, chief investment officer at Pence Wealth Management. “I would have my shopping cart out here.”

And even CNBC’s Jim Cramer is encouraging everyone to buy stocks on Friday

Friday is the time to start buying stocks again, Jim Cramer said during a CNBC special show on Thursday evening.

Is this really a good idea?

We shall see.

As I noted above, a lot of people are watching the S&P 500 to see if it will bounce back above the 200-day moving average.  The following comes from CNBC

Wall Street’s anxieties took a new turn Thursday after the stock market broke below a key technical level that has supported the market for the past three years.

The S&P 500 index finished the day below its 200-day moving average, one of the most popular technical indicators used by investors to help analyze price trends. Sell-offs earlier this year — occurring in February, March and April — all had bottomed at that level.

Ultimately, if there is a going to be a full-blown collapse of the stock market right now, we would need some sort of “kick off event” in order to make that happen.  It would have to be something on the scale of another 9/11, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, an unprecedented natural disaster, the start of a major war or something else along those lines.

Yes, conditions are definitely ripe for a “perfect storm” to develop, but it is going to take a little bit of a push to get us there.

So keep your eyes open, because our world is becoming more unstable with each passing day, and it won’t take much to push us into complete and utter economic chaos.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

Do They Know Something We Don’t? Corporate Insiders Are Selling Stocks At The Fastest Pace In 10 Years

A lot of things are starting to happen that we haven’t seen since the last recession.  A few days ago, I wrote about the fact that home sellers in the United States are cutting their prices at the fastest pace in at least eight years, and now we have learned that corporate insiders are selling stocks at the most rapid pace in ten years.  So why are they dumping their shares so quickly?  Do they know something that the rest of us do not?  Certainly nobody can blame them for taking advantage of the ridiculously high stock prices that we are seeing in the marketplace right now.  But stock prices have been very high for a while.  Why is there such a mad rush for the exits all of a sudden?  According to CNN, corporate insiders have sold 5.7 billion dollars worth of stock so far in September…

CEOs are using the market boom to quietly cash in their own chips.

Insiders at US companies have dumped $5.7 billion of stock this month, the highest in any September over the past decade, according to an analysis of regulatory filings by TrimTabs Investment Research.

It’s not a new trend. Insiders, which include corporate officers and directors, sold shares in August at the fastest pace in 10 years as well, TrimTabs said.

It would be one thing if September was an anomaly, but the fact that insider shares were being sold so rapidly in August as well indicates that this is a clear trend.

Could it be possible that these corporate insiders believe that the market is about to take a tumble?

Of course it doesn’t exactly take inside information to see the writing on the wall.  On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time in 2018.  Overall, this is the Fed’s eighth interest rate increase since 2015, and it looks like the Fed is anticipating three more rate hikes in 2019

Looking ahead to 2019, Fed officials expect at least three rate hikes will be necessary, and one more in 2020.

“The Fed shows no signs of taking (a) breath in rate hikes,” Robert Frick, corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union, wrote in a research note.

This is terrible news for stock market investors, because every rate hiking program in the history of the Federal Reserve has ended in a stock market crash and/or a recession.

In fact, since 1957 there have been 18 rate hiking cycles, and every single one of them has ended in disaster.

So do you think that we are going to beat the odds this time?

After raising rates again, the Fed released a statement in which it said that it expects the U.S. economy to grow “for at least three more years”

The Fed sees the economy growing at a faster-than-expected 3.1 percent this year and continuing to expand moderately for at least three more years, amid sustained low unemployment and stable inflation near its 2 percent target.

“The labor market has continued to strengthen … economic activity has been rising at a strong rate,” it said in its statement.

You can believe that if you want, but it is also important to remember that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke assured all of us that a recession was not coming in 2008.

And later we learned that the moment when he made that statement a recession had actually already begun.

Needless to say, investors were not thrilled by Wednesday’s rate hike, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped another 100 points.  Stocks have really struggled this week, and we continue to get more disappointing news from the real economy.  On the heels of a “disappointing” existing home sales report, we just received news that new home sales missed expectations

Following existing home sales disappointment, hope was once again high for a bounce in new home sales in August but once again disappointed with a 629k print (up from a revised 608k), but missed expectations of 630k.

While the sales gain was the first in three months, the downward revisions to prior figures indicate that the market in recent months was slower than previously reported, adding to broader indications of cooler demand in residential real estate.

And the trade war continues to take a toll as well.  According to Ford’s chief executive, the metals tariffs are going to result in a billion dollars in lost profits for his company…

Ford CEO Jim Hackett told Bloomberg Television on Wednesday that his company faces $1 billion in lost profits from President Donald Trump’s tariffs.

“The metals tariffs took about $1 billion in profit from us – and the irony is we source most of that in the U.S. today anyways,” Hackett said. “If it goes on longer, there will be more damage.”

Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why it looks like Ford could soon be laying off thousands of workers.

The “smart money” is always one step ahead of the “dumb money”, and corporate insiders have a much better view of what is really going on inside their companies than any of the rest of us do.

So if they are collectively convinced that now is a perfect time to sell, that is a major red flag.

On Wall Street, actions speak much louder than words, and corporate insiders are sending a very loud message by selling so many of their own shares.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Why Are So Many People Talking About The Potential For A Stock Market Crash In October?

It is that time of the year again.  Every year, people start talking about a possible stock market crash in October, because everyone remembers the historic crashes that took place in October 1987 and October 2008.  Could we witness a similar stock market crash in October 2018?  Without a doubt, the market is primed for another crash.  Stock valuations have been in crazytown territory for a very long time, and financial chaos has already begun to erupt in emerging markets all over the globe.  When the stock market does collapse, it won’t exactly be a surprise.  And a lot of people out there are pointing to October for historical reasons.  I did not know this, but it turns out that the month with the most market volatility since the Dow was first established has been the month of October

The difference is quite significant, as judged by a measure of volatility known as the standard deviation: For all Octobers since 1896, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was created, the standard deviation of the Dow’s daily changes has been 1.44%. That compares to 1.05% for all months other than October.

Like me, you are probably tempted to think that the reason why October’s number is so high is because of what happened in 1987 and 2008.

But even if you pull out those two months, October is still the most volatile

You might think that this difference is caused by a few outliers, such as the 1987 crash (which, of course, occurred in October) or 2008 (the Dow suffered several thousand-point plunges that month as it reacted to the snowballing financial crisis). But you would be wrong: The standard deviation of daily Dow changes is much higher in October than other months even if we eliminate 1987 and 2008 from the sample.

Once we get to Thanksgiving, the market tends to get sleepy, and it usually doesn’t wake up again until the new year begins.

So if something big is going to happen in the market in 2018, it is probably going to happen in the coming weeks.

And it is inevitable that something big will happen at some point.  As Jesse Colombo has pointed out, stocks are more overvalued right now than they were just before the great stock market crash of 1929…

In a bubble, the stock market becomes overpriced relative to its underlying fundamentals such as earnings, revenues, assets, book value, etc. The current bubble cycle is no different: the U.S. stock market is as overvalued as it was at major generational peaks. According to the cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (a smoothed price-to-earnings ratio), the U.S. stock market is more overvalued than it was in 1929, right before the stock market crash and Great Depression

It is becoming increasingly obvious what we are heading for, and a growing chorus of market experts are issuing ominous declarations about this market.

For example, David Tice is warning that “we’re getting closer to a meltdown scenario”

According to investor David Tice, who made a name for himself in running the Prudent Bear Fund before selling it to Federated Investors in 2008, the current market is dangerous. Tice was quoted as saying he’s “nervous” because “we’re getting closer to a meltdown scenario.”

And John Hussman ultimately expects “two-thirds of market capitalization” to vanish…

I am aware of no plausible conditions under which current extremes are likely to work out well for investors. There are a few possibilities that could involve a smaller loss than the two-thirds of market capitalization that I expect to vanish, as the run-of-the-mill, baseline expectation for the S&P 500 over the completion of this cycle. Yet it’s worth recognizing that the completion of every market cycle in history has taken the most reliable valuation measures we identify (those best correlated with actual subsequent S&P 500 market returns) to less than half of current levels.

Could you imagine the chaos that would be unleashed if the stock market went down by two-thirds?

That would make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

And there are a lot of parallels between what happened in 2008 and what is happening today.  For example, the housing market is slowing down dramatically just like it did a decade ago.  The following comes from a Bloomberg article that I came across earlier today entitled “Builders Slump as U.S. Housing Market Shifts to the Slow Lane”

The housing market is stalling, and homebuilder stocks are feeling the pain.

The S&P Supercomposite Homebuilding Index is down 21 percent year-to-date, on track for the biggest annual drop since 2008, when it fell 32 percent. That’s even with tax cuts, unemployment near the lowest since 1969 and a real-estate developer in the White House. What gives?

Just a few days ago, I wrote an entire article about the fact that home sellers are cutting prices at the fastest rate that we have seen in eight years.  The housing market is clearly telling us that a big time economic slowdown is coming, but most people are not listening.

Switching gears, we have also recently learned that it looks like Ford Motor Company will soon be laying off lots of workers

Ford Motor employees are warily awaiting details of CEO Jim Hackett’s promised “fitness” plan and the serious possibility of significant job losses as the company faces pressure to improve its operations.

The company has warned of $11 billion in restructuring costs over three to five years, which could mean thousands of worker buyouts, according to analysts.

Why would they be doing that if the economy really was in “good shape”?

And let us not forget about the ongoing woes of the retail industry.  Recently, I was astounded to learn that a whopping 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant

“When you walk the streets, you see vacancies on every block in all five boroughs, rich or poor areas — even on Madison Avenue, where you used to have to fight to get space,” said Faith Hope Consolo, head of retail leasing for Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who said the increase in storefront vacancies in New York City had created “the most challenging retail landscape in my 25 years in real estate.”

A survey conducted by Douglas Elliman found that about 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant, she said, compared with roughly 7 percent in 2016.

New York City is one of the few areas around the country that has actually been prospering.

If things are that bad there already, what does that say about the outlook for the rest of the nation?

The truth is that the economy is not nearly as good as you are being told, and things could literally start breaking loose at any moment.

Unfortunately, as a society we have not learned very much from history, and most Americans seem to think that this bubble of artificial prosperity is going to last indefinitely.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Stock Prices Are Surging Because Corporations Are Spending More Money On Stock Buybacks Than Anything Else

The primary reason why stock prices have been soaring in recent months is because corporations have been buying back their own stock at an unprecedented pace.  In fact, the pace of stock buybacks is nearly double what it was at this time last year.  According to Goldman Sachs, S&P 500 companies spent 384 billion dollars buying back stock during the first half of 2018.  That is an absolutely astounding number.  And in many cases, corporations are going deep into debt in order to do this.  Of course this is going to push up stock prices, but corporate America will not be able to inflate this bubble indefinitely.  At some point a credit crunch will come, and the pace of stock buybacks will fall precipitously.

Prior to 1982, corporations were not permitted to go into the market and buy back stock.

The reason for this is obvious – stock buybacks are a really easy way for corporations to manipulate stock prices.

But these days it is expected that most large corporations will engage in this practice.  Large stockholders love to see the price of the stock go up, and they are never going to complain when smaller shareholders are bought out and their share of the company is increased.  And corporate executives love buybacks because so much of their compensation often involves stock options or bonuses related to key metrics such as earnings per share.

So in the end, stock buybacks are often all about greed.  It is a way to funnel money to those at the very top of the pyramid, and those stock market gains are taxed at capital gains rates which are much lower than the rates on normal income.

Normally, you would expect successful companies to invest most of their available cash back into operations so that they can make even more money in the future.  And for 19 of the past 20 years, corporations have spent more on capital investments than anything else.  But now, share buybacks have actually surpassed capital spending.  The following comes from CNN

But that doesn’t mean companies aren’t spending on job-creating investments, like new equipment, research projects and factories. Business spending is up 19% — it’s just that buybacks are growing much faster.

In fact, Goldman Sachs said that buybacks are garnering the largest share of cash spending by S&P 500 firms. It’s a milestone because capital spending had represented the single largest use of cash by corporations in 19 of the past 20 years.

And this trend seems to be accelerating during the second half of 2018.  It is being projected that firms will spend more than 600 billion dollars on stock buybacks during the second half of this year, and that will bring the grand total for 2018 to more than a trillion dollars

And the trend may not be done yet. Goldman Sachs predicted that share buyback authorizations among all US companies in all of 2018 will surpass $1 trillion for the first time ever.

Wow.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more than a trillion dollars that we could put toward reducing the national debt?

This is the reason why stocks hit another new all-time record high this week.  Stock buybacks have reached absolutely insane levels, and what we are witnessing is essentially a giant orgy of greed.

To give you some perspective, the previous annual record for stock buybacks was just 589 billion dollars in 2007.

This year, we may come close to doubling the previous record.

And let us not forget that the year after 2007 was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

So what corporations are the worst offenders?  Here is more from CNN

Apple (AAPL) alone spent a whopping $45 billion on buybacks during the first half of 2018, triple what it did during the same time period last year, the firm said. That included a record-shattering sum during the first quarter.

Amgen (AMGN), Cisco (CSCO), AbbVie (ABBV) and Oracle (ORCL) have also showered investors with big boosts to their buyback programs.

As I noted earlier, corporate insiders greatly benefit from stock buybacks, and they took advantage of massively inflated stock prices by selling off $10.3 billion worth of their shares during the month of August.

Inflating your stock price by cannibalizing your own shares is not a good long-term strategy for any corporation, but without a doubt it is making a lot of people very wealthy.

But in the process, the size of the stock market as a whole has been steadily shrinking.  In fact, the number of shares on the S&P 500 has fallen by almost 8 percent since the beginning of 2011…

According to Ed Yardeni, the number of S&P 500 shares has shrunk by 7.7% since the start of 2011. This tends to increase the earnings per remaining share and the dividends available per remaining share.

This is yet another example that shows why the stock market has become completely disconnected from economic reality.  Wall Street is inhabited by con men that are promoting Ponzi scheme after Ponzi scheme, and it is only a matter of time before the entire system collapses under its own weight.

But for now, the euphoria on Wall Street continues as stock prices continue to march higher.  Meanwhile, we continue to get more signs of trouble from the real economy.  For instance, this week we learned that the third largest bank in the entire country is going to lay off thousands of workers

Wells Fargo, the third-biggest U.S. bank, plans to lower its employee headcount by 5 percent to 10 percent in the next three years as part of its ongoing turnaround plan, the company announced Thursday.

The bank has 265,000 employees, meaning the reduction would result in a loss of between 13,250 and 26,500 jobs.

Why would they do that if the economy was in good shape?

And globally, the emerging market currency crisis has continued to escalate.  According to one source, more than 80 percent of all global currencies have fallen in value so far this year…

A review of the values of 143 global currencies indicates that so far this year, more than 80 percent have fallen in value.

Another eleven appear to be pegged to the dollar and 13 have risen in value. Of the 13 that have increased in value, only six are up more than 1 percent versus the dollar.

There have been outsized declines in countries like Venezuela (down 99 percent), Argentina (53 percent) and Turkey (38 percent). However, Brazil is down 20 percent, Russia 15 percent, India 11 percent, Sweden 10 percent, and the Philippines 8 percent. Big economies like China are experiencing a 5 percent currency value decline while the Euro is off by 3 percent.

I applaud those that have made lots of money in the stock market, but the party will not last forever.

In 2007 corporations were pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into stock buybacks, and it propped up the market for a time.  But eventually the bubble burst and the crisis of 2008 was so dramatic that it will be remembered forever.

Now we are facing a similar scenario, and it is just a matter of time before this bubble bursts as well.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Most Americans Are Slaves And They Don’t Even Know It

Chain - Public DomainMost Americans spend their lives working for others, paying off debts to others and performing tasks that others tell them that they “must” do.  These days, we don’t like to think of ourselves as “servants” or “slaves”, but that is what the vast majority of us are.  It is just that the mechanisms of our enslavement have become much more sophisticated over time.  It has been said that the borrower is the servant of the lender, and most of us start going into debt very early into our adult years.  In fact, those that go to college to “get an education” are likely to enter the “real world” with a staggering amount of debt.  And of course that is just the beginning of the debt accumulation.  Today, when you add up all mortgage debt, all credit card debt and all student loan debt, the average American household is carrying a grand total of 203,163 dollars of debt.  Overall, American households are more than 11 trillion dollars in debt at this point.  And even though most Americans don’t realize this, over the course of our lifetimes the amount of money that we will repay on our debts is far greater than the amount that we originally borrowed.  In fact, when it comes to credit card debt you can easily end up repaying several times the amount of money that you originally borrowed.  So we work our fingers to the bone to pay off these debts, and the vast majority of us are not even working for ourselves.  Instead, our work makes the businesses that other people own more profitable.  So if we spend the best years of our lives building businesses for others, servicing debts that we owe to others and making others wealthier, what does that make us?

In 2015, the words “servant” and “slave” have very negative connotations, and we typically don’t use them very much.

Instead, we use words like “employee” because they make us feel so much better.

But is there really that much of a difference?

This is how Google defines “servant”…

“a person who performs duties for others, especially a person employed in a house on domestic duties or as a personal attendant.”

This is how Google defines “slave”…

“a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.”

This is how Google defines “employee”…

“a person employed for wages or salary, especially at nonexecutive level.”

Yes, most of us might not be “legal property” of someone else in a very narrow sense, but in a broader sense we all have to answer to someone.

We all have someone that we must obey.

And we all have obligations that we must meet or else face the consequences.

At this point, Americans are more dependent on the system than ever before.  Small business ownership in the U.S. is at a record low, and the percentage of Americans that are self-employed has fallen to unprecedented levels in recent years.  From a very early age, we are trained to study hard so that we can get a good “job” (“just over broke”) and be good cogs in the system.

But is that what life is about?

Is it about being a cog in a system that ultimately benefits others?

Perhaps you don’t think that any of this applies to you personally.

Well, if someone came up to you and asked you what you truly own, what would you say?

Do you own your vehicle?

Most Americans don’t.

In fact, today the average auto loan at signing is approximately $27,000, and many of them stretch on for six or seven years.

What about your home?

Do you own it?

Most Americans don’t.

In fact, overall the banks have a much greater “ownership” interest in our homes and our land than we do.

But even if you have your home totally “paid off”, does that mean that you actually “own” it?

Well, no, not really.

Just see what happens if you quit paying your property taxes (rent) to the proper authorities.

So if they can take your home away from you for not paying rent (property taxes), do you really own it?

That is something to think about it.

What about all of your stuff?

Do you own it?

Perhaps.

But a very large percentage of us have willingly enslaved ourselves in order to acquire all of that stuff.

Today, the typical U.S. household that has at least one credit card has approximately $15,950 in credit card debt.

And if you do not pay off those credit card balances, the credit card companies will unleash the hounds on you.

Have you ever had an encounter with a debt collector?

They can be absolutely brutal.  And they use those tactics because they work.  In fact, they are so good at what they do that many of those that own debt collection companies have become exceedingly wealthy.  The following is from a recent CNN article

Yachts. Mansions. Extravagant dinner parties. Life is good for the founders of one of the nation’s biggest government debt collectors.

That firm, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, rakes in big money from government contracts that allow it to pursue debtors over toll violations, taxes and parking tickets. While the debts often start small, the Austin-based firm charges high fees, which can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the bill.

After growing this business from a small Texas law firm in the late 1970’s to a nationwide debt collection powerhouse, the firm’s founders and top brass have walked away with millions of dollars.

And I haven’t even mentioned our collective debts yet.

We have willingly chosen to collectively enslave ourselves on a local, a state and a national level.

It is bad enough that we are doing this to ourselves.  But we are also cruelly saddling future generations of Americans with the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet.  The following is from my previous article entitled “Barack Obama Says That What America Really Needs Is Lots More Debt“…

When Barack Obama took the oath of office, the U.S. national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars.  Today, it has surpassed the 18 trillion dollar mark.  And even though we are being told that “deficits are going down”, the truth is that the U.S. national debt increased by more than a trillion dollars in fiscal 2014.  But that isn’t good enough for Obama.  He says that we need to come out of this period of “mindless austerity” and steal money from our children and our grandchildren even faster.  In addition, Obama wants to raise taxes again.  His budget calls for 2 trillion dollars in tax increases over the next decade.  He always touts these tax increases as “tax hikes on the rich”, but somehow they almost always seem to end up hitting the middle class too.  But whether or not Congress ever adopts Obama’s new budget is not really the issue.  The reality of the matter is that the “tax and spend Democrats” and the “tax and spend Republicans” are both responsible for getting us into this mess.  Future generations of Americans are already facing the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and both parties want to make this mountain of debt even higher.  The only disagreement is about how fast it should happen.  It is a national disgrace, but most Americans have come to accept this as “normal”.  If our children and our grandchildren get the opportunity, they will curse us for what we have done to them.

So can we really call ourselves the “home of the brave and the land of the free”?

Isn’t the truth that the vast majority of us are actually deeply enslaved?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

 

What If We Adopted A System Where The Banks Did Not Create Our Money?

What if there was a financial system that would eliminate the need for the federal government to go into debt, that would eliminate the need for the Federal Reserve, that would end the practice of fractional reserve banking and that would dethrone the big banks?  Would you be in favor of such a system?  A surprising new IMF research paper entitled “The Chicago Plan Revisited” by Jaromir Benes and Michael Kumhof is making waves in economic circles all over the globe.  The paper suggests that the world would be much better off if we adopted a system where the banks did not create our money.  So instead of a system where more money is only created when more debt is created, we would have a system of debt-free money that is created directly by national governments.  There have been others that have suggested such a system before, but to have an IMF research paper actually recommend that such a system be adopted is a very big deal.  At the moment, the world is experiencing the biggest debt crisis in human history, and this proposal is being described as a “radical solution” that could potentially remedy some of our largest financial problems.  Unfortunately, apologists for the current system are already viciously attacking this new IMF paper, and of course the big banks would throw a major fit if such a system was ever to be seriously contemplated.  That is why it is imperative that we educate people about how money really works.  Our current system is in the process of collapsing and we desperately need to transition to a new one.

One of the fundamental problems with our current financial system is that it is based on debt.  Just take a look at the United States.  The way our system works today, the vast majority of all money is “created” either when we borrow money or the government borrows money.  Therefore, the creation of more money creates more debt.  Under such a system, it should not be surprising that the total amount of debt in the United States is more than 30 times larger than it was just 40 years ago.

We don’t have to do things this way.  There is a better alternative.  National governments can directly issue debt-free currency into circulation.  The following is a brief excerpt from the IMF report

At the height of the Great Depression a number of leading U.S. economists advanced a proposal for monetary reform that became known as the Chicago Plan. It envisaged the separation of the monetary and credit functions of the banking system, by requiring 100% reserve backing for deposits. Irving Fisher (1936) claimed the following advantages for this plan: (1) Much better control of a major source of business cycle fluctuations, sudden increases and contractions of bank credit and of the supply of bank-created money. (2) Complete elimination of bank runs. (3) Dramatic reduction of the (net) public debt. (4) Dramatic reduction of private debt, as money creation no longer requires simultaneous debt creation. We study these claims by embedding a comprehensive and carefully calibrated model of the banking system in a DSGE model of the U.S. economy. We find support for all four of Fisher’s claims.

Why should banks be allowed to create money?

That is a very good question.

Why should sovereign governments ever have to borrow money from anyone?

That is another very good question.

Our current system is designed to enrich the bankers and get everyone else into debt.

And is that not exactly what has happened?

Taking the creation of money away from the bankers would have some tremendous advantages.  A recent article by renowned financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard described some of these benefits…

One could slash private debt by 100pc of GDP, boost growth, stabilize prices, and dethrone bankers all at the same time. It could be done cleanly and painlessly, by legislative command, far more quickly than anybody imagined.

The conjuring trick is to replace our system of private bank-created money — roughly 97pc of the money supply — with state-created money. We return to the historical norm, before Charles II placed control of the money supply in private hands with the English Free Coinage Act of 1666.

Specifically, it means an assault on “fractional reserve banking”. If lenders are forced to put up 100pc reserve backing for deposits, they lose the exorbitant privilege of creating money out of thin air.

The nation regains sovereign control over the money supply. There are no more banks runs, and fewer boom-bust credit cycles.

So why don’t we go to such a system immediately?

Well, the transition to such a system would undoubtedly be a major shock to the global financial system, and most people try to avoid significant short-term pain even if there are tremendous long-term benefits.

More importantly, however, is that the bankers have a tremendous amount of power in our society today, and they would move heaven and earth to keep a debt-free monetary system from ever being implemented.

You see, the influence of the bankers is not just limited to the big banks.  Our largest financial institutions (and the people who own them) also have large ownership stakes in the vast majority of the big Fortune 500 corporations.  In essence, the big banks are at the very pinnacle of “the establishment” in the United States and in almost every other major country in the western world.

And the vast majority of all political campaigns are funded by “the establishment”.  It takes an enormous amount of money to win campaigns these days, and most politicians are extremely hesitant to bite the hands of those that feed them.

So don’t expect any changes to happen overnight.

One proposal that has actually been put forward in Congress is to cancel all of the government debt that the Federal Reserve is currently holding.  Right now, the Fed is holding more than 1.6 trillion dollars of U.S. government debt…

That would seem to make a lot of sense.  That would immediately wipe more than 1.6 trillion dollars from the U.S. national debt without any real harm being done.

But “the establishment” would be horrified if such a thing happened, so I wouldn’t anticipate it happening any time soon.

Hopefully we can get the American people (along with people all over the globe) educated about these things so that we can start to get millions of people pushing for change.

A debt-free monetary system is superior to a debt-based monetary system in so many ways.

For example, if the U.S. government directly spent debt-free money into circulation, it could conceivably never need to borrow a single dollar ever again.  If the government wanted to spend more money than it brought in, it would simply print it up and spend it.

Of course the big danger with that would be inflation.  That is why it would be imperative for there to be a hard cap on what the government could spend.  For example, you could set the cap on spending by the federal government at 20 percent of GDP.  That way we would never end up looking like the Weimar Republic.

And the current federal debt could be paid down a little at a time using newly created debt-free dollars.  This would have to be done slowly to keep inflation under control, but it could be done.

That way we would not hand a 16 trillion dollar debt to our children and our grandchildren.  We created this mess so we should clean it up.

Theoretically you could also do away with the federal income tax if you wanted to.  Personally, I would like to see the federal government be funded to a large degree by tariffs on foreign goods.  That would also have the side benefit of bringing millions of jobs back into the United States.

Our system of income tax collection is just so incredibly inefficient.  It costs us mind boggling amounts of time and money.  Just consider the following stats from one of my previous articles

1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements.  Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long.  Today, they are 189 pages long.

4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade.  It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result.

7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.

8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.

For long stretches of our history the United States did not have any income tax, and during those times we thrived.  It is entirely conceivable that we could return to such a system.

At this point, the wealthy have become absolute masters at hiding their wealth from taxation.  According to the IMF, a total of 18 trillion dollars is currently being hidden in offshore banks.  What we are doing right now produces very inequitable results and it is not working.

In many ways, inflation would be a much fairer “tax” than the income tax because inflation taxes each dollar equally.  Nobody would be able to cheat the system.

But if people really love the IRS and the federal income tax, we could keep them under a debt-free money system.  I just happen to think that the IRS and the federal income tax are both really bad ideas that have never served the interests of the American people.

In any event, hopefully you can see that there is a much broader range of solutions to our problems than the two major political parties have been presenting to us.

We do not have to allow the banks to create our money.

The federal government does not have to go into more debt.

We don’t actually need the Federal Reserve.

There are alternatives to the federal income tax and the IRS.

Yes, it is very true that no system would be perfect.  But clearly the path that we are on is only going to lead to disaster.  U.S. government finances are a complete and total nightmare, and this mountain of debt that we have accumulated is going to absolutely destroy us if we allow it to.

So somebody out there should be proposing a fundamental change in direction for our financial system.

Unfortunately, our politicians are just proposing more of the same, and we all know where that is going to lead.

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