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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why would they want to do such a thing?

I can answer that question with just two words…

Donald Trump.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Real Unemployment Number: 102 Million Working Age Americans Do Not Have A Job

Did you know that the number of working age Americans that do not have a job right now is far higher than it was during the worst moments of the last recession?  For example, in January 2009 92.6 million working age Americans did not have a job, but we just found out that in May the number of working age Americans without a job increased to just a shade under 102 million.  We’ll go over those numbers in more detail in a moment, but first I want to talk a bit about the difference between perception and reality.  According to the bureaucrats in the federal government, the “unemployment rate” in May was the lowest that we have seen in 16 years.  At just “4.3 percent”, we are essentially at “full employment”, and so according to them anyone that really wants a job should be able to find one pretty easily.

Of course that is a load of nonsense.  John Williams of shadowstats.com tracks what our economic numbers would look like if honest numbers were being used, and according to his calculations the unemployment rate is currently 22 percent.

So what accounts for the wide disparity between those numbers?

Well, the truth is that the official “unemployment rate” that the mainstream media endlessly hypes is so manipulated that it has essentially lost all meaning at this point.

In May, we were told that the U.S. economy added 138,000 jobs, but that is not even enough to keep up with population growth.

However, when you look deeper into the numbers some major red flags quickly emerge.  You won’t hear it on the news, but in May the U.S. economy actually lost 367,000 full-time jobs.  That is an absolutely nightmarish figure, and it confirms the fact that economic activity is starting to dramatically slow down.

But somehow the “unemployment rate” in May fell from “4.4 percent” to “4.3 percent”.

How in the world can they do that?

Well, for years the government has been taking large numbers of people from the basket known as “officially unemployed” and dumping them into another basket known as “not in the labor force”.  Since those that are “not in the labor force” do not count toward the official unemployment rate, they can make things look better than they actually are by moving people into that category.

In May, the government added a staggering 608,000 Americans into the “not in the labor force” category.  So now the number of working age Americans “not in the labor force” has reached a total of 94.98 million.  When you add that total to the number of Americans that are “officially” unemployed (6.86 million), you get a grand total of 101.84 million.

In other words, when you round up to the nearest million you get a grand total of 102 million Americans that do not have a job right now.

If you go back to January 2009, there were 81.02 million Americans that were “not in the labor force” and 11.61 million Americans that were considered to be “officially unemployed”.  And so that means that according to the federal government there were 92.63 million working age Americans that did not have a job at that point.

So if the number of working age Americans without a job has risen by 9.21 million since January 2009, are we really doing so much better than we were during the depths of the last recession?

Another way to look at this is by examining the civilian employment-population ratio.  Just before the last recession, about 63 percent of the working age population had a job, but then during the recession that number fell to between 58 and 59 percent for quite a while.  We have finally gotten back to the 60 percent mark, but we are still far, far below the level that we were at before the last recession struck.

And of course all of the above assumes that the numbers that the government is giving us accurately reflect reality, and that is highly questionable.

For example, according to one recent analysis the “business birth and death model” has accounted for 93 percent of all “new jobs” reported by the government since 2008…

As our friends at Morningside Hill calculate, a full 93% of the new jobs reported since 2008 – 6.3 million out of 6.7 million – and 40% of the jobs in 2016 alone were added through the business birth and death model – a highly controversial model which is not supported by the data. On the contrary, all data on establishment births and deaths point to an ongoing decrease in entrepreneurship.

In essence, government bureaucrats pull a number out of the air and add jobs to the report based on an estimate of how many new businesses they think are being created in America in a particular month.

Is it possible that there is a chance that they are being overly optimistic when they make this estimate?

Most people have no idea that the “official numbers” that we get from the government are highly speculative, and there is always a temptation to make things look better than they actually are.

There is no way in the world that we are anywhere near “full employment”.  I hear from people all over the country that say that it is exceedingly difficult to find good jobs where they live.  And according to a brand new report that was just released, the number of job cuts in May 2017 was 71 percent higher than it was in May 2016.

We also know that over the past ten years the average rate of economic growth in the United States exactly matches the average rate of economic growth that the U.S. experienced during the 1930s.

I don’t see how anyone can possibly claim that the U.S. economy is doing well.  Just prior to the last recession there were 26 million Americans on food stamps, and now we have 44 million.  We are on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and the number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County has risen by 23 percent over the past 12 months.

But once again, it is a battle of perception vs. reality.  Their televisions are endlessly feeding them the message that everything is just fine, and most Americans seem to be buying it, at least for now…

Tech Stocks Experience Their Longest Losing Streak In 5 Years As Panic Begins To Grip The Market

S&P 500 tech stocks have now fallen for 9 days in a row.  The last time tech stocks declined for so many days in a row was in 2012, and that was the only other time in history when we have seen such a long losing streak.  As I have stated before, the post-election “Trump rally” is officially done, and the market is starting to roll over as investors begin to realize that all of the buying momentum has completely evaporated.  Tech stocks tend to be particularly volatile, and so the fact that they are starting to lead the way down should definitely be alarming to many in the investing community.

Of course it isn’t just tech stocks that are falling.  The Dow was down another 59 points on Wednesday, and the S&P 500 has closed beneath its 50 day moving average for the very first time since the election.  For those that have been waiting for a key technical signal before getting out of the market, there is one for you.

The price of gold was up again, and that is definitely not surprising in this geopolitical environment.  The closer we get to war the higher gold and silver prices will go, and if we actually get into a major conflict we will see them blast into the stratosphere.

Another key indicator that I am watching very closely is the VIX.  On Wednesday it shot up above 16 for the very first time since the day after Trump’s election victory, and many believe that it could soon go much higher.  The following is an excerpt from a CNBC report

The VIX measures the size of the S&P 500’s expected moves over the next 30 days, and consequently tends to run just a bit hotter than volatility over the past 30 days. Yet one-month realized volatility is just 6.7, meaning the VIX is at a roughly 9-point premium, which Chintawongvanich calls “highly unusual.”

That said, he notes that implied volatility was also at a large premium preceding the U.K. referendum to leave the EU and the U.S. presidential election. The obvious conclusion is that the market is now similarly preparing itself for the French presidential election, which is set to be held on April 23. Some fear that a populist candidate could prevail, which may cause more problems for the European Union and thus for economic stability.

As noted in that excerpt, the upcoming French election is absolutely huge.  If the election goes “the wrong way” according to the globalists, it could literally mean the end of the European Union as it is configured today.

And of course of even greater concern is the global march toward war.  It is being reported that North Korea is on the verge of a major nuclear weapons test, and such an act of defiance could be enough to push Donald Trump into conducting a major military strike.

But if Trump does hit North Korea, it is quite likely that North Korea will hit back.  The North Koreans are promising to use nuclear weapons in any conflict with the United States, and if Trump bungles this thing we could easily be looking at a scenario in which millions of people end up dead.

Things also continue to get more tense in the Middle East.  The Russians and the Iranians are promising to respond to any additional U.S. strikes “with force”, and on Wednesday Trump declared that our relationship with Russia “may be at an all-time low”.

Of course this came shortly after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used similar language following his face to face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin held more than two hours of “very frank” talks Wednesday in the Kremlin amid tensions over a U.S. airstrike against a Syria air base blamed for last week’s deadly chemical attack.

In remarks to reporters after the meeting, Tillerson said he told the Russian leader that current relations between the two countries are at a “low point.”

If the Trump administration conducts any more strikes on Syria, it is quite likely that the Russians and Iranians will make good on their threats and will start firing back.

And once U.S. aircraft or U.S. naval vessels come under fire, the calls for war in Washington will become absolutely deafening.

Unfortunately, Trump is not likely to back down any time soon because the recent missile strike in Syria has dramatically boosted his popularity.  According to every recent survey, the American people overwhelmingly approve of what Trump did…

A Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday found that 57% of Americans supported airstrikes in Syria, 58% supported establishing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria including strikes against Syria’s air-defense systems, and 63% of Americans thought the US should do more to end the Syrian conflict. Even more, 66% of respondents said they supported the Trump administration’s strike last week specifically.

This mirrored results of another recent poll from CBS News in which 57% of Americans said they approved of the US strike. A Pew Research Center survey from this week showed a similar level of support, with 58% of Americans approving of the strike.

Sadly, this is a time when the majority is dead wrong.  Many of those that are supporting military action against Syria now were vehemently against it when Barack Obama was considering it.

Even Donald Trump spoke out very strongly against military intervention in Syria in 2013, and he was quite right to do so, and so what has suddenly changed that now makes it okay?

There is nothing to be gained in Syria, but we could very easily end up in a direct military conflict with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah which could ultimately prove to be the spark that sets off World War III.

And of course a military strike on North Korea could also potentially spark a global war.  The first Korean War resulted in a direct military conflict between the United States and China, and the second Korean War could easily result in the exact same thing happening again.

Do the American people really want war with both Russia and China at the same time?

It has been said that you should be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

The Price Of Gold Spikes As Investors Get Spooked By Talk Of World War III And Nuclear Conflict

Whenever the world starts going crazy, investors instinctively begin flocking to precious metals.  So it wasn’t exactly a surprise when gold and silver prices started to move upward aggressively as global leaders continued to talk about the possibility of World War III and nuclear conflict.  The price of gold spiked to a five month high on Tuesday, and as I write this article gold is currently sitting at $1277.10 an ounce.  Right now silver is at $18.35 an ounce, and many analysts believe that it is poised for a dramatic jump in the weeks and months to come as global tensions continue to rise.  Google searches for the phrase “going to war” are the highest that they have been at any point in recent years, and many people out there are starting to understand that the U.S. could soon be facing military conflicts in Syria and in North Korea simultaneously.

In response to persistent threats from the Trump administration, the North Koreans are promising that they will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons if they are attacked by the U.S. military.

In particular, an article that was just published in North Korea’s official state newspaper says that U.S bases in South Korea and the Pacific operation theater but also in the U.S. mainland would be targeted.

Most analysts do not believe that North Korea has any missiles that can reach the U.S. mainland, so that is probably an empty threat, but they can definitely hit Seoul, Tokyo and all U.S. military bases in South Korea and Japan.

And even if the U.S. was able to locate and take out all North Korean nukes in an overwhelming first strike, the North Koreans would still have thousands of artillery guns and rockets aimed at Seoul.  Military analysts in the western world have estimated that North Korea could fire off up to half a million rounds within one hour of being attacked, and the devastation that such a barrage would cause in Seoul would be beyond anything that we have ever seen in the modern world.

Personally, I have come to the conclusion that it is going to be nearly impossible to conduct a conventional military assault on North Korea that does not result in an absolutely catastrophic death toll.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump appears determined to do something anyway.  A couple of days ago we learned that he “has ordered his military advisers to be ready with a list of options to smash North Korea’s nuclear threat”, and on Tuesday he told the world that the U.S would “solve the problem” whether China helps or not…

Trump, who has urged China to do more to rein in its impoverished ally and neighbor, said in a tweet that North Korea was “looking for trouble” and the United States would “solve the problem” with or without Beijing’s help.

Just like he did with Syria, Trump’s words have now committed us to taking military action in North Korea.

Let us hope that any military action is delayed for as long as possible, but it is definitely alarming that Trump boasted to the Fox Business Network about the “very powerful” naval armada that is sailing toward North Korea right now

“We are sending an armada. Very powerful,” Trump told Fox Business Network. “We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.”

Meanwhile, it is being reported that the Chinese have deployed 150,000 troops to their border with North Korea as they continue to warn both sides against taking military action.

Over in the Middle East, things continue to get even more tense as well.

Russia and Iran have pledged to “respond with force” to any additional U.S. attacks, but the Trump administration is not showing any signs of backing down.  In fact, White House press secretary Sean Spicer has substantially lowered the threshold for more military conflict by suggesting that the use of “barrel bombs” may be enough to justify another attack.  Considering the fact that everyone in the Syrian civil war has been regularly using barrel bombs for many years and that approximately 13,000 were used in 2016 alone, it is very alarming for Spicer to say such a thing.

On Tuesday, Trump told the American people that “we’re not going into Syria”, but what happens if he orders another missile strike and the Russians and Iranians respond by shooting down some U.S. aircraft or by sinking an entire aircraft carrier?

I can guarantee you that members of Congress from both parties will be absolutely screaming for war if CNN starts endlessly playing footage of a U.S. aircraft carrier sinking after it has been struck by the Russians or by the Iranians.

We are so close to World War III erupting in the Middle East, and there was no need for the U.S. to get involved in the first place.  According to former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, evidence continues to mount that Assad had absolutely nothing to do with the chemical attack that Trump got so upset about…

Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and director of the Council for the National Interest, stated on the Scott Horton show that “military and intelligence personnel” in the Middle East, who are “intimately familiar” with the intelligence, call the allegation that Assad or Russia carried out the attack a “sham.”

Giraldi said the intelligence confirms the Russian account, “which is that they [attacking aircraft] hit a warehouse where al-Qaeda rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties.” Moreover, Giraldi noted, “Assad had no motive for doing this.”

Investors that can see the writing on the wall are already getting out of stocks and into precious metals while there is still time to do so.

Because if we get into a direct military conflict with Russia and Iran in Syria, global financial markets will crash and gold and silver will soar into the stratosphere.

And of course a similar scenario would play out if we attack North Korea and the North Koreans respond by firing off nuclear or chemical warheads at targets in South Korea and Japan.

I did not expect that we would be on the verge of World War III less than three months into the Trump administration, but here we are.

These are perilous times, and those that are wise are moving their money and are making key preparations before things spiral completely out of control.

The Dow And The S&P 500 Soar To Brand New All-Time Record Highs – How Is This Possible?

Stock Market Soaring - Public DomainThe Dow and the S&P 500 both closed at all-time record highs on Tuesday, and that is very good news.  You might think that is an odd statement coming from the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, but the truth is that I am not at all eager to see the financial system crash and burn.  We all saw what took place when it happened in 2008 – millions of people lost their jobs, millions of people lost their homes, and economic suffering was off the charts.  So no, I don’t want to see that happen again any time soon.  All of our lives will be a lot more comfortable if the financial markets are stable and stocks continue to go up.  If the Dow and the S&P 500 can keep on soaring, that will suit me just fine.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that is going to be what happens.

Of course I never imagined we would be talking about new record highs for the stock market in mid-July 2016.  We have seen some crazy ups and downs for the financial markets over the last 12 months, and the downs were pretty severe.  Last August, we witnessed the greatest financial shaking since the historic financial crisis of 2008, and that was followed by an even worse shaking in January and February.  Then in June everyone was concerned that the surprising result of the Brexit vote would cause global markets to tank, and that did happen briefly, but since then we have seen an unprecedented rally.

So what is causing this sudden surge?

We’ll get to that in a moment, but first let’s review some of the numbers from Tuesday.  The following comes from USA Today

All three major indexes gained 0.7% apiece, as the Dow jumped 121 points to a new all-time closing high and the S&P 500 built upon its record close notched Monday. The blue chips now stand at 18,347.67, about 35 points above the previous record set May 19, 2015.

The new mark for the S&P 500 is 2,152.14, a 15-point improvement on its Monday close.

Overall, we have seen stocks shoot up more than eight percent over the last two weeks.  Normally, a rise of 10 percent for an entire year is considered to be quite healthy

Interior Minister Theresa May is set to become the U.K.’s prime minister on Wednesday. Stock markets across the globe have risen sharply, after a steep sell-off, following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.

“In the past two weeks, post Brexit, the S&P 500 has vaulted over 8 percent,” said Adam Sarhan, CEO at Sarhan Capital. “Typically, a 10 percent move for the entire year is considered normal.”

What makes all of this even stranger is the fact that investors have been pulling money out of stocks as if it was 2008 all over again.  In fact, Zero Hedge tells us that on balance investors have been taking money out of equity funds for 17 weeks in a row.

So why are stocks still going up?

If your guess is “central bank intervention”, you are right on the nose.

Across the Pacific, the Bank of Japan has been voraciously gobbling up assets, and the architect of “Abenomics” just won a major electoral victory which has fueled a huge market rally over there…

Meanwhile, in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered new stimulus after his coalition won an election in Japan’s upper chamber by a landslide. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose nearly 2.5 percent overnight, while the yen erased all of its post-Brexit gains against the dollar.

“In the short term, I think it’s going to help, but in the long term, we’ll see,” said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. “I feel like a lot of people are getting themselves into situations that they can’t get out of.”

In Europe, the ECB has feverishly been pumping money into the financial system, and the result of the Brexit vote seems to have lit a renewed fire under the central bankers in Europe.  Collectively, intervention by the Japanese and the Europeans has created “a surge in net global central bank asset purchases to their highest since 2013”

Fast forward six months when Matt King reports that “many clients have been asking for an update of our usual central bank liquidity metrics.”

What the update reveals is “a surge in net global central bank asset purchases to their highest since 2013.”

And just like that the mystery of who has been buying stocks as everyone else has been selling has been revealed.

So now you know the rest of the story.

The economic fundamentals have not changed.  China is still slowing down.  Japan is still mired in a multi-year economic crisis.  Much of Europe is still dealing with a full-blown banking crisis.  Much of South America is still experiencing a full-blown depression.

Here in the United States, just about every indicator that you can think of says that the economy is slowing down.  If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “15 Facts About The Imploding U.S. Economy That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To See“.

The artificially-induced rally that we are witnessing right now can be compared to a “last gasp” of a dying patient.

But my hope is that this “last gasp” can last for as long as possible.  Because as much as I warn people about it, I am not actually eager to see what comes next.

The economic and financial suffering that are coming are inevitable, but they are not going to be pleasant for any of us.  So let us all hope that we still have a little bit more time before the party is over and it is time to turn out the lights.

The Price Of Silver Explodes Past 20 Dollars An Ounce As The European Banking Crisis Deepens

Silver Coins 2 - Public DomainHave you seen what the price of silver has been doing?  On Monday, it exploded past 20 dollars an ounce, and as I write this article it is sitting at $20.48.  Earlier today it actually surged above 21 dollars an ounce for a short time before moving back just a bit.  In late March, I told my readers that silver was “ridiculously undervalued” when it was sitting at $15.81 an ounce, and that call has turned out to be quite prescient.  The Friday before last, silver started the day at $17.25 an ounce, and it is up more than 18 percent since that time.  Overall, silver is up more than 30 percent for the year, and that makes it one of the best performing investments of 2016.  So what is causing this sudden surge in the price of silver?  This is something that we will discuss below…

This sudden spike in the price of silver has definitely caught a lot of analysts off guard.  Some are suggesting that the fact that the Fed is now less likely to raise rates after the Brexit and the fact that the dollar has been slipping a bit lately are the primary reasons for silver’s rise

This isn’t a gradual increase either. It’s an explosive growth spurt. Just three months ago silver had reached an 11 month high. Now silver prices have reached a 23 month high. Several factors appear to be influencing these gains, including a weakening dollar, and the fact that the Fed may cut interest rates in light of the Brexit vote.

Personally, I don’t buy those explanations.

To me, the continuing implosion of major banks over in Europe is the main factor that is driving investors to safe haven assets such as silver.

Rumors continue to spread that Deutsche Bank is essentially insolvent at this point, and many are watching for the imminent collapse of the largest and most important bank in Germany.  When this happens, it will be a much, much more cataclysmic event for the global financial system than the collapse of Lehman Brothers was back in 2008.

But today I want to focus on the ongoing implosion of the major banks in Italy.

Italy has the 8th largest economy on the entire planet, and their banks are drowning in approximately 400 billion dollars worth of non-performing debt.

The Italian government would like to bail these banks out, but the rest of the EU appears ready to block that effort because it would violate EU rules.  As a result, the big Italian banks experienced a bloodbath on Monday

Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA BMPS, -13.99% closed down 14%. The move came after a report that the European Central Bank is pushing the lender to draft a new plan aimed at reducing non-performing loans.

Other Italian bank shares were lower, with Banca Popolare dell’Emilia Romagna BPE, -6.73% down 6.7%, Intesa Sanpaolo SpA ISP, -3.04% off 3% and Banca Popolare di Milano SpA PMI, -1.40% lower by 1.4%.

And these stunning declines come on the heels of last week’s nightmare

As a reminder, the Euro Stoxx Banks index was down -0.88% last week and is nearly 19% down from its pre-referendum levels. Italian Banks are at the heart of that weakness with the likes of Unicredit, Intesa, Banco Monte dei Paschi and UBI down -9.78%, -3.44%, -15.79% and -6.11% respectively last week, in the process sending Italian stocks to levels not seen since Draghi’s famous “whatever it takes” speech.

So what happens when all of the major banks of a country collapse at the exact same time?

Basically, Italy is facing “financial Armageddon” if nothing is done, and so some Italian politicians are desperate to step in and do something about this crisis even if it means defying the EU

The Financial Times reported Sunday that Italy was prepared “to defy the EU and unilaterally pump billions of euros into its troubled banking system if it comes under severe systemic distress … despite warnings from Brussels and Berlin over the need to respect rules that make creditors rather than taxpayers fund bank rescues.”

Citing “several officials and bankers familiar with the plans,” the FT said that the threat has raised alarm along Europe’s regulators “who fear such a brazen intervention would devastate the credibility of the union’s newly implemented banking rule book during its first real test.”

But of course the rest of the EU is not about to let this happen because it would be a gross violation of European Union rules

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Under current EU state aid rules any attempts to help banks must involve a bail-in process that doesn’t involve using taxpayer’s money.

“Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has tried to argue that the Brexit uncertainty has destabilised Italy’s already fragile banks.

“The reality is the problems of Italy’s banks predate last week’s Brexit vote, and he knows it.”

So what is going to happen?

Could Italy be forced to leave the EU?

Will the rest of the European Union eventually cave in and save Italy?

We all remember how difficult it was for the EU to save Greece, and they are just the 44th largest economy on the planet.

So where in the world are they going to come up with the resources to rescue the 8th largest economy on the planet?

Immediately following the Brexit vote on the Friday before last, we witnessed the biggest one day global stock market loss in world history.  But since that time many global markets have bounced back, and a lot of people seem convinced that the crisis has passed.

Unfortunately, the truth is that the crisis is just getting started.  As I warned before the Brexit vote, European banks were going to continue to implode no matter what the result was, and that is definitely what we are seeing come to pass right now.

Without bailouts, virtually all of the major banks in Italy are going to fail.  It is just a matter of time.  And each of those failures would send financial shockwaves all over the planet.

Personally, I am convinced that the second half of 2016 is going to be even more eventful that the first half of 2016, and this new global economic crisis is going to continue to accelerate.

Unfortunately, most Americans are preoccupied reading about Taylor Swift’s new boyfriend and things of that nature, and so they are totally oblivious to the global events that are about to turn their lives totally upside down.

The Stock Market Crash Of 2016: Stocks Have Already Crashed In 6 Of The World’s 8 Largest Economies

Network Earth Continents - Public DomainOver the past 12 months, stock market investors around the planet have lost trillions of dollars.  Since this time last June, stocks have crashed in 6 of the world’s 8 largest economies, and stocks in the other two are down as well.  The charts that you are about to see are absolutely stunning, and they are clear evidence that a new global financial crisis has already begun.  Of course it is true that we are still in the early chapters of this new crisis and that there is much, much more damage to be done, but let us not minimize the carnage that we have already witnessed.

In general, there have been three major waves of financial panic over the past 12 months.  Late last August we saw the biggest financial shaking since the financial crisis of 2008, then in January and February there was an even bigger shaking, and now a third “wave” has begun in June.  Not all areas around the globe have been affected equally by each wave, but without a doubt this new financial crisis is a global phenomenon.

The charts that I am about to show you come from Trading Economics.  It is an absolutely indispensable website that is packed full of useful data, and I encourage everyone to check it out.

Let’s talk about China first.  The Chinese economy is the second largest on the entire planet, and since this time last year Chinese stocks are down an astounding 40 percent

Chinese Stocks

As things have started to unravel in China, the Chinese have been selling off U.S. debt and U.S. stocks like crazy.  The following comes from Bloomberg

For the past year, Chinese selling of Treasuries has vexed investors and served as a gauge of the health of the world’s second-largest economy.

The People’s Bank of China, owner of the world’s biggest foreign-exchange reserves, burnt through 20 percent of its war chest since 2014, dumping about $250 billion of U.S. government debt and using the funds to support the yuan and stem capital outflows.

While China’s sales of Treasuries have slowed, its holdings of U.S. equities are now showing steep declines.

Unfortunately for China, their economy just continues to slow down, and George Soros is so alarmed by this and a potential “Brexit” that he has been selling off stocks and buying enormous amounts of gold in anticipation of an even bigger global downturn.

Japan has the third largest economy in the world, and over the past year Japanese stocks are down a total of 26 percent from the peak…

Japan Stocks

Personally, I have been extremely alarmed by what has been happening in Japan lately.  Japanese stocks were down almost 500 points last night, and overall the Nikkei is down a whopping 1,800 points so far in June.

Of course the Japanese economy as a whole is essentially a basket case at this point.  For a detailed analysis of this, please see my previous article entitled “Watch Japan – For All Is Not Well In The Land Of The Rising Sun“.

Germany has the fourth largest economy in the world, and over the past year their stocks have fallen 19 percent from the peak of the market…

German Stocks

The key thing to watch for in Germany are serious troubles at their biggest bank.  I wrote a long article about the slow-motion implosion of Deutsche Bank last month, and just this week Deutsche Bank stock hit an all-time low.

The fifth largest economy on the planet belongs to the United Kingdom, and since last June their stocks have fallen about 13 percent

British Stocks

One week from today, the “Brexit” vote will be held in the UK, and if they vote to leave the EU that could have very serious economic and financial implications for them and for the rest of Europe as well.  For an in-depth look at this, please see my previous article entitled “June 23, 2016: The Brexit Vote Could Change EVERYTHING And Plunge Europe Into Financial Chaos“.

France has the sixth largest economy in the world, and over the past year French stocks are down 20 percent from the peak of the market…

French Stocks

The French economy is really struggling these days, and we have not heard much about it in the U.S. media, but there have been tremendous riots in major cities in France in recent weeks.

The seventh largest economy on our planet belongs to India.  Even though India is facing some very serious economic problems, their stocks are doing okay for the moment.  Even though stocks in India are down over the past 12 months, we have not seen a major financial crisis over there just yet.

But there is definitely a major crisis in the eighth largest economy in the world.  Italian stocks are down a staggering 32 percent from the peak of the market.  That means approximately a third of all stock market wealth in Italy is already gone…

Italian Stocks

Earlier this year, I wrote about the horrifying collapse of the Italian banking system that has greatly accelerated since the start of 2016.  It looks like virtually all of their big banks will ultimately need to be bailed out, and this threatens to become a far bigger crisis than the crisis in Greece ever was.

And let us not leave off the ninth largest economy in the world.  Not too long ago, CNN ran an article entitled “Brazil: Economic collapse worse than feared“.  So not only are they admitting that the ninth largest economy on the globe is collapsing, they are also admitting that it is even worse than what the experts had anticipated.

So did I leave anyone off the list?

Ah yes, I haven’t even addressed what has been going on in the United States yet.

U.S. stocks did crash last August, but then they recovered.

Then they crashed again in January, but then they recovered again.

Now U.S. stocks have been taking another tumble here in June, but we are being assured that there is nothing to worry about.

Meanwhile, the underlying numbers for the U.S. economy just continue to get worse and worse and worse.  If you have any doubt about this, please see the article that I posted yesterday entitled “15 Facts About The Imploding U.S. Economy That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To See“.

Hopefully this article will clear a lot of things up.  In this piece, I have presented undeniable evidence that a new global financial crisis has begun over the past 12 months.  We have not seen global stock declines of this nature since the great financial crisis of 2008, but much worse is still to come.

I would love to be wrong about that last part.

It would be wonderful if the worst was now behind us and good times for the global financial system were ahead.

Unfortunately, every single indicator that I am watching is telling me just the opposite.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

George Soros Is Preparing For Economic Collapse – Does He Know Something That You Don’t?

George Soros - Photo by Niccolo CarantiWhy is George Soros selling stocks, buying gold and making “a series of big, bearish investments”?  If things stay relatively stable like they are right now, these moves will likely cost George Soros a tremendous amount of money.  But if a major financial crisis is imminent, he stands to make obscene returns.  So does George Soros know something that the rest of us do not?  Could it be possible that he has spent too much time reading websites such as The Economic Collapse Blog?  What are we to make of all of this?

The recent trading moves that Soros has made are so big and so bearish that they have even gotten the attention of the Wall Street Journal

Worried about the outlook for the global economy and concerned that large market shifts may be at hand, the billionaire hedge-fund founder and philanthropist recently directed a series of big, bearish investments, according to people close to the matter.

Soros Fund Management LLC, which manages $30 billion for Mr. Soros and his family, sold stocks and bought gold and shares of gold miners, anticipating weakness in various markets. Investors often view gold as a haven during times of turmoil.

Hmmm – it sounds suspiciously like George Soros and Michael Snyder are on the exact same page as far as what is about to happen to the global economy.

You know that it is very late in the game when that starts happening…

One thing that George Soros is particularly concerned about that I haven’t been talking a lot about yet is the upcoming Brexit vote.  If the United Kingdom leaves the EU (and hopefully they will), the short-term consequences for the European economy could potentially be absolutely catastrophic

Mr. Soros also argues that there remains a good chance the European Union will collapse under the weight of the migration crisis, continuing challenges in Greece and a potential exit by the United Kingdom from the EU.

If Britain leaves, it could unleash a general exodus, and the disintegration of the European Union will become practically unavoidable,” he said.

The Brexit vote will be held two weeks from today on June 23rd, and we shall be watching to see what happens.

But Soros is not just concerned about a potential Brexit.  The economic slowdown in China also has him very worried, and so he has directed his firm to make extremely bearish wagers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the last time Soros made these kinds of bearish moves was back in 2007, and it resulted in more than a billion dollars of gains for his company.

Of course Soros is not alone in his bearish outlook.  In fact, Goldman Sachs has just warned that “there may be significant risk to the downside for the market”

Goldman Sachs is getting nervous about stocks.

In a note to clients, equity strategist Christian Mueller-Glissmann outlined the firm’s fears that there may be significant risk to the downside for the market.

Ultimately, George Soros and Goldman Sachs are looking at the same economic data that I share with my readers on a daily basis.

As I have been documenting for months, almost every single economic indicator that you can possibly think of says that we are heading into a recession.

For instance, just today I was sent a piece by Mike Shedlock that showed that federal and state tax receipts are really slowing down just like they did just prior to the last two recessions…

US federal personal tax receipts receipts are falling fast. So is the Evercore ISI State Tax Survey.

The last two times the survey plunged this much, the US was already in recession.

Is it different this time?

Tax Receipts - Mish Shedlock

And online job postings on LinkedIn have now been falling precipitously since February after 73 months in a row of growth

After 73 consecutive months of year-over-year growth, online jobs postings have been in decline since February. May was by far the worst month since January 2009, down 285k from April and down 552k from a year ago.

Last week, the government issued the worst jobs report in nearly six years, and the energy industry continues to bleed good paying middle class jobs at a staggering rate.  The following comes from oilprice.com

That may seem counterintuitive in an industry that has been rapidly shedding workers, with more than 350,000 people laid off in the oil and gas industry worldwide.

Texas is one place feeling the pain. Around 99,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Lone Star state have been eliminated since prices collapsed two years ago, or about one third of the entire industry. In April alone there were about 6,300 people in oil and gas and supporting services that were handed pink slips. Employment in Texas’ oil sector is close to levels not seen since the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009. “We’re still losing big chunks of jobs with each passing month,” Karr Ingham, an Amarillo-based economist, told The Houston Chronicle.

At this point it is so obvious that we have entered a new economic downturn that I don’t know how anyone can possibly deny it any longer.

Unfortunately, the reality of what is happening has not sunk in with the general population yet.

Just like 2008, people are feverishly racking up huge credit card balances even though we stand on the precipice of a major financial crisis…

American taxpayers are quick to criticize the federal government for its ever-increasing national debt, but a new study released Wednesday found taxpayers are also saddled with debt, and are likely to end 2016 with a record high $1 trillion in outstanding balances.

Wallethub, a site that recommends credit cards based on consumers’ needs, said that will be the highest amount of credit card debt on record, surpassing even the years during and before the Great Recession. The site said the record high was in 2008, when people owed $984.2 billion on their credit cards.

Will we ever learn?

This has got to be one of the worst possible times to be going into credit card debt.

Sadly, the “dumb money” will continue to act dumb and the “smart money” (such as George Soros) will continue to quietly position themselves to take advantage of the crisis that is already starting to unfold.

We can’t change what is happening to the economy, but we do have control over the choices that we make.

So I urge you to please make your choices wisely.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

Donald Trump Is Starting To Sound Just Like The Economic Collapse Blog (And That Is A Good Thing)

Donald Trump - Photo by Michael VadonGuess what Donald Trump is saying now?  Last week, I discussed how Robert Kiyosaki and Harry Dent are warning that a major crisis is inevitable, but I didn’t expect Donald Trump to come out and say essentially the exact same thing.  On Saturday, the Washington Post released a stunning interview with Donald Trump in which he boldly declared that we heading for a “very massive recession”.  He also warned that we are currently in “a financial bubble” and that “it’s a terrible time right now” to be investing in stocks.  These are things that you may be accustomed to hearing on The Economic Collapse Blog, but to hear them from the frontrunner for the Republican nomination is another thing altogether.

Whether you plan to vote for Donald Trump or not, at least we can all appreciate that he doesn’t talk like a politician.  He tells it like he sees it, and he told the Washington Post that he considers the official unemployment rate that is put out by the Obama administration to be completely fraudulent…

“First of all, we’re not at 5 percent unemployment. We’re at a number that’s probably into the twenties if you look at the real number,” Trump said. “That was a number that was devised, statistically devised to make politicians — and, in particular, presidents — look good. And I wouldn’t be getting the kind of massive crowds that I’m getting if the number was a real number.”

And before you dismiss this, perhaps you should consider that the Federal Reserve also considers the government unemployment number to be so inaccurate that they secretly have been calculating the unemployment rate on their own

Because it distrusted the Labor Department’s unemployment statistics, the Federal Reserve — without any fanfare — started calculating its own jobless rate two years ago.

And the Fed’s calculation, called the Labor Market Conditions Index, or LMCI, shows that the US unemployment rate in February was 5.8 percent. That’s much higher than the 4.9 percent official jobless rate reported by the Labor Department.

Of course if truly honest numbers were being used, the unemployment rate would not be anywhere close to this range.  According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, the broadest measure of unemployment is currently sitting at 22.9 percent.

And just last week I showed my readers that 23.2 percent of all Americans in their prime working years do not have a job right now, and that inactivity rates for both men and women in the U.S. are currently far higher than they were during the last recession.

So when Donald Trump says that we are at an unemployment number “that’s probably into the twenties”, I would have to rate that statement as mostly true.

Of course things are about to get a whole lot worse.  According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, job cut announcements by major firms were up 32 percent during the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015.

When big corporations are doing well, they tend to hire more people.  But when their earnings start to go down, one of the very first things they tend to do is to lay people off.

Sadly, that is what we are starting to see right now.  According to Wolf Richter, it is being projected that corporate earnings per share for the first quarter will decline a whopping 8.5 percent compared to one year ago…

Even analysts who estimate pro-forma, ex-bad-items, non-GAAP earnings that S&P 500 companies propagate to look better and that these analysts use to inflate their stock-price targets, just threw in the towel on the quarter.

They expect these inflated earnings per share for the first quarter to plunge 8.5% from a year ago, according to FactSet. If this holds after S&P 500 companies report their ex-bad-items earnings, it would be the worst EPS decline since Q3 2009.

It would also be the fourth quarter in a row of year-over-year earnings declines, a phenomenon that last happened during the Great Recession from Q4 2008 through Q3 2009.

In the past, we have almost always seen corporate profit margins peak and start declining before a recession hits.  The following chart comes from Jesse Felder, and it shows that this has happened prior to almost every recession in the post-World War II era, and now it is happening again…

Corporate Profits - Jesse Felder

Why can’t more people see this?

For months, I have been pointing out to my readers how history is repeating.  The exact same patterns that have happened just prior to previous recessions are happening again, but most people just refuse to see the truth.

It is absolutely maddening, and it is just more evidence of how “dumbed-down” our society has become.

Yes, U.S. stocks rebounded substantially in March, but that was not based on the economic fundamentals.  Just look at the following chart from Zero Hedge.  At some point stock prices and corporate earnings will start converging once again.  There is simply no way in the world that stock prices can stay disconnected from reality indefinitely…

Change In Earnings Per Share - Zero Hedge

So when Donald Trump says that we are in “a financial bubble” and that “it’s a terrible time right now” to be investing in stocks, I would have to rate those statements as absolutely true.

I would also have to rate his statement that we are heading toward a “very massive recession” as absolutely true as well, and legendary investor Jim Rogers agrees with me.  In fact, he recently told Bloomberg that there is “a 100 percent probability that the U.S. economy would be in a downturn within one year“.

For a legendary investor such as Jim, that is quite a bold statement to make.  And of course most American families already feel like they are in an economic downturn.  This is something that my wife and I talked about during our most recent show

The truth is that the U.S. economy has never even gotten close to recovering to the level it was at just prior to the last recession, and now the next major crisis is upon us.

But this new crisis is not going to be like the last one.  It is going to be much, much worse before it is all said and done, and what is coming is going to bring America to her knees.  This is something that I discuss in my new book.  The economic devastation that is coming is going to be unlike anything that any of us have ever known, and it is going to shake America to the very core.

So enjoy the remaining days of “normal life in America” while you still can.

A lot of people are using this time to party, but if you are wise you are using it to prepare.

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