Central banks lie. That is what they do. Not too long ago, the Swiss National Bank promised that it would defend the euro/Swiss franc currency peg with the “utmost determination”. But on Thursday, the central bank shocked the financial world by abruptly abandoning it. More than three years ago, the Swiss National Bank announced that it would not allow the Swiss franc to fall below 1.20 to the euro, and it has spent a mountain of money defending that peg. But now that it looks like the EU is going to launch a very robust quantitative easing program, the Swiss National Bank has thrown in the towel. It was simply going to cost way too much to continue to defend the currency floor. So now there is panic all over Europe. On Thursday, the Swiss franc rose a staggering 30 percent against the euro, and the Swiss stock market plunged by 10 percent. And all over the world, investors, hedge funds and central banks either lost or made gigantic piles of money as currency rates shifted at an unprecedented rate. It is going to take months to really measure the damage that has been done. Meanwhile, the euro is in greater danger than ever. The euro has been declining for months, and now the number one buyer of euros (the Swiss National Bank) has been removed from the equation. As things in Europe continue to get even worse, expect the euro to go to all-time record lows. In addition, it is important to remember that the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s began when Thailand abandoned its currency peg. With this move by Switzerland set off a European financial crisis?
Of course this is hardly the first time that we have seen central banks lie. In the United States, the Federal Reserve does it all the time. The funny thing is that most people still seem to trust what central banks have to say. But at some point they are going to start to lose all credibility.
Financial markets like predictability. And gigantic amounts of money had been invested based on the repeated promises of the Swiss National Bank to use “unlimited amounts” of money to defend the currency floor. Needless to say, there are a lot of people in the financial world that feel totally betrayed by the Swiss National Bank today. The following comes from an analysis of the situation by Bruce Krasting…
Thomas Jordan, the head of the SNB has repeated said that the Franc peg would last forever, and that he would be willing to intervene in “Unlimited Amounts” in support of the peg. Jordan has folded on his promise like a cheap suit in the rain. When push came to shove, Jordan failed to deliver.
The Swiss economy will rapidly fall into recession as a result of the SNB move. The Swiss stock market has been blasted, the currency is now nearly 20% higher than it was a day before. Someone will have to fall on the sword, the arrows are pointing at Jordan.
The dust has not settled on this development as of this morning. I will stick my neck out and say that the failure to hold the minimum rate will result in a one time loss for the SNB of close to $100B. That’s a huge amount of money. It comes to 20% of the Swiss GDP!
Most experts are calling this an extremely bad move by the Swiss National Bank.
But in the end, they may have had little choice.
The euro is falling apart, and the Swiss did not want to be married to it any longer. Unfortunately, when any marriage ends the pain can be enormous. The following comes from CNBC…
How do you know you’re looking at a bad marriage?
Well if one or both of the spouses can’t wait to get out as soon as the smallest crack in the door opens, you have a pretty good clue.
Something like that just happened in Europe as we learned the real reason why so many traders were still invested in the euro: They had nowhere else to go.
As the Swiss National Bank unlocked the doors on its cap on trading euros for Swiss francs, the rush to exit the euro was faster than one of those French bullet trains.
But this move has not been bad for everyone. In fact, for many of those that live in Switzerland but work in neighboring countries what happened on Thursday was very fortuitous…
“I heard the news this morning. I’m so happy!” Vanessa, who refused to give her last name, told AFP outside of one of many mobbed exchange offices in Geneva.
She has reason to be extatic: she is one of some 280,000 people working in Switzerland but living and paying bills in eurozone countries France, Germany or Italy.
These so-called “frontaliers”, or border-crossers, are the biggest winners in Thursday’s Swiss franc surge, seeing their incomes jump 30 percent in the blink of an eye.
In normal times, things like this very rarely happen.
But in times of crisis, things can change very rapidly. We are moving into a time of great volatility in global financial markets, and great volatility is often a sign that a great crash is coming.
This move by the Swiss National Bank is just the beginning. Expect more desperate moves on the global economic chessboard in the days ahead. But in the end, none of those moves is going to prevent what is coming.
And one of these days, another extremely important currency peg is going to end. Right now, the Chinese have tied their currency very tightly to the U.S. dollar. This has helped to artificially inflate the value of the dollar. Unfortunately, as Robert Wenzel has noted, someday the Chinese could suddenly pull the rug out from under our currency, and that would be really bad news for us…
In other words, the SNB is no People’s Bank of China type patsy, where the PBOC has taken on massive amounts of dollar reserves to prop up the dollar.
Will the PBOC learn anything from SNB? If so, this will not be good for the US dollar.
So keep a close eye on what happens in Europe next.
It is going to be a preview of what is eventually coming to America.
Are we about to see U.S. stocks take a significant tumble? If you are looking for a “canary in the coal mine” for the U.S. stock market, just look at high yield bonds. In recent years, almost every single time junk bonds have declined substantially there has been a notable stock market correction as well. And right now high yield bonds are steadily moving lower. The biggest reason for this is falling oil prices. As I wrote about the other day, energy companies now account for about 20 percent of the high yield bond market. As the price of oil falls, investors are understandably becoming concerned about the future prospects of those companies and are dumping their bonds. What is happening cannot be described as a “crash” just yet, but there has been a pretty sizable decline for junk bonds over the past month. And as I noted above, junk bonds and stocks usually move in tandem. In fact, junk bonds usually start falling before stocks do. So does the decline in high yield bonds that we are witnessing at the moment indicate that we are on the verge of a significant stock market correction?
That is a question that CNBC asked in a recent article entitled “Near perfect sell signal says stocks should drop“…
The S&P 500 and the iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF are a mirror image since the start of the year, but since the end of October, high yield has diverged to the lower right, and yet the S&P 500 has continued to record highs. Since separating in October, the S&P 500 is up 3 percent, while the high-yield ETF is down 4 percent.
On 10 occasions since 2007, the high-yield ETF dropped 5 percent in 30 trading days. During nine of those instances, the S&P 500 fell as well, with an average return of negative 9 percent, according to CNBC analysis using Kensho.
Only once did high yield give a false sell signal. That was last year, when the market was already entranced by the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program, which has seemed to elevate stocks with an abnormal consistency. And even then, the S&P 500 managed just a 0.4 percent climb amid the junk debt rout.
Personally, I am convinced that this correlation between junk bonds and stocks is very significant.
Let’s just go back and look at what happened during the financial crash of 2008 for a moment.
In the chart posted below, you can see that high yield bonds began crashing in the middle of September that year…
But U.S. stocks did not crash at the same time. In fact, the chart below shows that they did not really begin crashing until early October…
That is why analysts often refer to junk bonds as a “leading indicator”. What happens to high yield debt is often a really good indicator of what is about to happen to stocks.
Now let’s take a look at what is happening today.
Since the beginning of November, junk bonds have been falling steadily…
Meanwhile, the Dow has continued to reach new heights…
This is not a state of affairs that can persist indefinitely. Either junk bonds will rebound or U.S. stocks will start falling.
If the U.S. economy was on solid footing, you could perhaps argue that it could go either way.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. At this point, the stock market has become completely divorced from economic fundamentals. Price to earnings ratios are at absurd levels, margin debt is hovering near record highs, and the “real economy” continues to fall apart. We are enjoying a massively inflated standard of living which is being propped up by the largest mountain of debt in world history, and it is only a matter of time before reality starts catching up with us.
And the signs of our long-term economic decline are all around us if you are willing to look at them. For example, the lead headline on the Drudge Report today was about how China has now overtaken us and has become the largest economy on the planet…
Hang on to your hats, America.
And throw away that big, fat styrofoam finger while you’re about it.
There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it: We’re no longer No. 1. Today, we’re No. 2. Yes, it’s official. The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is not the leading economic power on the planet.
It just happened — and almost nobody noticed.
The International Monetary Fund recently released the latest numbers for the world economy. And when you measure national economic output in “real” terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion — compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S.A.
Meanwhile, some of the most iconic companies in the United States continue to struggle deeply. For instance, Sears has just announced that the number of store closings for this year is going to reach a total of 235 and that the company lost more than half a billion dollars during the third quarter of 2014 alone…
Sears Holdings Corp., posted a disappointing third quarter Thursday that saw revenue, earnings, and sales at stores open at least a year all fall as the retailer tries to salvage its business.
Sears, which owns Kmart, lost $548 million, or $5.15 a share, for the period ended Nov. 1. That’s up from a loss of $534 million, or $5.03 a share, in the year-ago period.
Even though Sears is losing more than 500 million dollars a quarter, banks and investors continue to inject new money into the corporation. That is a crying shame, because Sears is a company that is going to zero. Anyone that is investing in Sears at this point is just pouring their money into a black hole. As Kevin O’Leary would say, they are guilty of murdering money.
And of course what is happening to Sears is just part of the broader “retail apocalypse” that I keep writing about. In order for retailers to thrive they need healthy consumers, and consumers are not financially healthy because the real economy is a disaster zone.
But these days so many people are in denial. The stock market has been soaring for so long that many skeptics are now proclaiming that another 2008-style crash will never happen. Even though the fact that we are in the midst of an absolutely insane financial bubble should be glaringly obvious to anyone with half a brain, these skeptics have convinced themselves that the current state of affairs can persist indefinitely.
Sadly, it looks like what is about to hit us in 2015 is going to serve as a very rude wake up call for them and for the millions of other Americans that currently have their heads in the sand.
Did you know that a major event just happened in the financial markets that we have not seen since the financial crisis of 2008? If you rely on the mainstream media for your news, you probably didn’t even hear about it. Just prior to the last stock market crash, a massive amount of money was pulled out of junk bonds. Now it is happening again. In fact, as you will read about below, the market for high yield bonds just experienced “a 6-sigma event”. But this is not the only indication that the U.S. economy could be on the verge of very hard times. Retail sales are extremely disappointing, mortgage applications are at a 14 year low and growing geopolitical storms around the world have investors spooked. For a long time now, we have been enjoying a period of relative economic stability even though our underlying economic fundamentals continue to get even worse. Unfortunately, there are now a bunch of signs that this period of relative stability is about to end. The following are 14 reasons why the U.S. economy’s bubble of false prosperity may be about to burst…
#1 The U.S. junk bond market just experienced “a 6-sigma event” earlier this month. In other words, it is an event that is only supposed to have a chance of 1 in 500 million of happening. Billions of dollars are being pulled out of junk bonds right now, and that has some analysts wondering if a financial crash is right around the corner.
#2 The last time that we saw a junk bond rout of this magnitude was back during the financial crash of 2008. In fact, as the Telegraph recently explained, bonds usually crash before stocks do…
The credit market usually leads the equity market during turning points, as happened when credit markets cracked first in 2008.
Will the same thing happen this time around?
#3 Retail sales have missed expectations for three months in a row and we just had the worst reading since January.
#4 Things have gotten so bad that even Wal-Mart is really struggling. Same-store sales at Wal-Mart have declined for five quarters in a row and the outlook for the future is not particularly promising.
#5 The four week moving average for mortgage applications just hit a 14 year low. It is now even lower than it was during the worst moments of the financial crisis of 2008.
#6 The tech industry is supposed to be booming, but mass layoffs in the tech industry are actually 68 percent ahead of last year’s pace.
#7 According to the Federal Reserve, 40 percent of all households in the United States are currently showing signs of financial stress.
#8 The U.S. homeownership rate has fallen to the lowest level since 1995.
#9 According to one survey, 76 percent of Americans do not have enough money saved to cover six months of expenses.
#10 Rumblings of a stock market correction have become so loud that even the mainstream media is reporting on it. For example, just check out this CNN headline from earlier this month: “Is a correction near? Wall Street on edge“.
#11 The civil war in Iraq is spiraling out of control, and Barack Obama has just announced that he is going to send 130 troops to the country in a “humanitarian” capacity. Iraq is the 7th largest oil producing nation on the entire planet, and if the flow of oil is disrupted that could have serious consequences.
#12 As a result of the conflict in Ukraine, the United States, Canada and the European Union have slapped sanctions on Russia. In return, Russia has slapped sanctions on them. Will this slowdown in global trade significantly harm the U.S. economy?
#13 The three day cease-fire between Hamas and Israel is about to end, and Hamas officials are saying that they are preparing for a “long battle“. If a resolution is not found soon, we could potentially see a full-blown regional war erupt in the Middle East.
#14 The number of Ebola deaths continues to grow at an exponential rate, and if the virus starts spreading inside the United States it has the potential to pretty much shut down our entire economy.
Meanwhile, things look even more dire in much of the rest of the globe.
For example, the economic slowdown has gotten so bad in some nations over in Europe that they are actually experiencing deflation…
Portugal has crashed into deep deflation and Italy’s inflation rate has fallen to zero as the eurozone flirts with recession, automatically pushing these countries further towards a debt compound spiral.
The slide comes amid signs of a deepening slowdown in the eurozone core, with even Germany flirting with possible recession. Germany’s ZEW index of investor confidence plunged from 27.1 to 8.6 in July, the sharpest fall since June 2012, during the European sovereign debt crisis. “The European Central Bank has to act now,” said Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS.
And in Japan, GDP just contracted at a 6.8 percent annual rate during the second quarter…
Japan’s economy suffered its worst contraction since 2011 in the second quarter as consumer spending on big items slumped in the wake of a sales tax rise.
Gross domestic product shrunk by an annualized 6.8% in the three months ended June, Japan’s Cabinet Office said Wednesday. The result was actually better than the 7% contraction expected by economists.
On a quarterly basis, Japan’s GDP dropped by 1.7% as business and housing investment declined. Japan’s economy last suffered a hit of this magnitude after the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.
There is no way that this bubble of false prosperity was going to last forever. It was never real to begin with. It was just based on a pyramid of debt and false promises. In fact, the condition of the global financial system is now far worse than it was just prior to the financial crisis of 2008.
Sadly, most people do not understand these things. Most people just assume that our leaders have fixed whatever caused the problems last time. And when the next crisis arrives, they will be totally blindsided by it.
Is the price of copper trying to tell us something? Traditionally, “Dr. Copper” has been a very accurate indicator of where the global economy is heading next. For example, back in 2008 the price of copper dropped from nearly $4.00 to under $1.50 in just a matter of months. And now it appears that another big decline in the price of copper is starting to happen. So far this year, the price of copper has dropped from a high of $3.40 back in January to a price of $2.95 as I write this article, and many analysts are warning that this is just the beginning. By itself, this should be quite alarming to investors, but as you will see below there are a whole host of other signs that a stock market crash may be rapidly approaching.
But before we get to those other signs, let us discuss copper a bit more first. I cannot remember a time since 2008 when there has been such an overwhelming negative consensus about where the price of copper is heading. The following is from a CNBC article that was posted this week…
Cascading copper prices have multiple root causes that lead to one conclusion: The anticipated global economic recovery may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Consequently, analysts are in virtual unison that the extended-term trajectory is lower for the metal often used as a growth barometer. Copper futures are off more than 12 percent in 2014 and 7 percent over just the past three days, though they rose less than 1 percent in Wednesday trading.
A slowdown in the global economy, forced selling by Chinese banks and technical factors have converged in multiple calls for more weakness in a commodity known by traders and economists as “Dr. Copper” for its ability to accurately make economic prognoses.
Of course there are some out there that are trying to claim that “this time is different” and that the price of copper is no longer a useful indicator for the global economy as a whole.
We shall see.
Meanwhile, there are lots of other signs that the financial markets are repeating patterns that we have seen in the past. For instance, the level of margin debt on Wall Street just soared to another brand new record high…
The amount of money investors borrowed from Wall Street brokers to buy stocks rose for a seventh straight month in January to a record $451.3 billion, a potential warning sign that in the past has coincided with irrational exuberance and stock market tops.
We saw margin debt spike dramatically like this just prior to the crash of the dotcom bubble in 2000 and just before the great financial crisis of 2008. Just check out the chart in this article.
Shouldn’t we be alarmed that it is happening again?
If you listen carefully, there are many prominent voices in the financial world that are trying to warn us about this. Here is one example…
“One characteristic of getting closer to a market top is a major expansion in margin debt,” says Gary Kaltbaum, president of Kaltbaum Capital Management. “Expanding market debt fuels the bull market and is an investors’ best friend when stocks are rising. The problem is when the market turns (lower), it is the market’s worst enemy.“
And of course margin debt is far from the only sign that indicates that we are in a massive stock market bubble that is about to crash. The following is a list of 10 signs that comes from a recent article by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management…
I was recently discussing the market, current sentiment and other investing related issues with a money manager friend of mine in California. (Normally, I would include a credit for the following work but since he works for a major firm he asked me not to identify him directly.) However, in one of our many email exchanges he sent me the following note detailing the 10 typical warning signs of stock market exuberance.
(1) Expected strong OR acceleration of GDP and EPS (40% of 2013’s EPS increase occurred in the 4th quarter)
(2) Large number of IPOs of unprofitable AND speculative companies
(3) Parabolic move up in stock prices of hot industries (not just individual stocks)
(4) High valuations (many metrics are at near-record highs, a few at record highs)
(5) Fantastic high valuation of some large mergers (e.g., Facebook & WhatsApp)
(6) High NYSE margin debt
Margin debt/gdp (March 2000: 2.7%, July 2007: 2.6%, Jan 2014: 2.6%)
Margin debt/market cap (March 2000: 1.8%, July 2007: 2.3%, Jan 2014: 2.0%)
(7) Household direct holdings of equities as % of total financial assets at 24%, second-highest level (data back to 1953, highest was 1998-2000)
(8) Highly bullish sentiment (down slightly from year-end peaks; still high or near record high, depending on the source)
(9) Unusually high ratio of selling to buying by corporate senior managers (the buy/sell ratio of senior corporate officers is now at the record post-1990 lows seen in Summer 2007 and Spring 2011)
(10) Stock prices rise following speculative press releases (e.g., Tesla will dominate battery business after they get partner who knows how to build batteries and they build a big factory. This also assumes that NO ONE else will enter into that business such as GM, Ford or GE.)
All are true today, and it is the third time in the last 15 years these factors have occurred simultaneously which is the most remarkable aspect of the situation.
And for even more technical indicators such as these, please see Charles Hugh Smith’s excellent article entitled “Why 2014 Is Beginning to Look A Lot Like 2008“.
So do all of these numbers and charts actually prove that something is about to happen?
But if we do not learn from the past then we are doomed to repeat it.
At this point, even representatives from the big Wall Street banks are warning about the “euphoria” on Wall Street…
The stock market entered “euphoria mode” late last year and has remained there, except for a week in February, as “speculative froth” bubbles around the market’s hottest sectors, Citi’s chief equity strategist told CNBC on Tuesday.
And even market cheerleader Jim Cramer is warning that the stock market is now exhibiting “top behavior“…
The parabolic moves of stocks such as Plug Power and FuelCell Energy have the stock market exhibiting “top behavior,” CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday.
Cramer said he has tracked the fuel cells stocks since his days as a hedge fund manager. Runups in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae also had him worried.
None of what you just read above guarantees that the stock market will crash this week, this month or even this year.
And nobody knows the exact date when the next stock market crash will happen.
But one thing is for certain – this massive stock market bubble will burst at some point, and when it does our economy is far less equipped to handle it than it was the last time.
Based on my research, I am entirely convinced that the coming economic crisis is going to be substantially worse than the last one, and that is very bad news for the United States.
So what do you think?
Do you agree or do you think that I am nuts?
Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that has no intrinsic value. The only thing giving bitcoin value is the faith that people have in it, and now that faith has been shattered. This week, the most prominent bitcoin exchange in the entire world, Mt. Gox, totally collapsed. At one time, Mt. Gox boasted more than a million accounts and it accounted for approximately 25 percent of all global bitcoin trading. But now the website has been taken down, there are rumors of catastrophic losses, and many investors are concerned that they will lose all of their money. In fact, according to one report, investors could be facing total losses of up to 367 million dollars. The collapse of Mt. Gox is also affecting other bitcoin exchanges. As I write this, the market value of bitcoin had fallen to about $470, but just three months ago it was trading close to $1,200. Needless to say, a lot of bitcoin investors are going to be licking their wounds tonight.
I have never written much about bitcoin because I never believed in it. Personally, I have always preferred to stick to silver and gold. But I can’t blame people for wanting to create a monetary system that worked outside of the central bank-controlled paradigm that we have today.
I just didn’t have any faith in bitcoin. I considered it something of a Ponzi scheme. That is why I never recommended it to anyone. Those that got in early and got out at the peak of the market made a killing. Good for them. But most investors are going to end up taking a bath – especially those that got in at the very end.
When you have an imaginary currency that has no intrinsic worth that is being managed and traded by organizations that have very little regulation or accountability, bad things can happen. And we saw a perfect example of this on Tuesday…
A major bitcoin exchange has gone bust after secretly racking up catastrophic losses, other virtual currency companies said Tuesday — a potentially fatal blow for the exotic new form of money.
The website of Tokyo-based Mt. Gox was returning a blank page Tuesday. The disappearance of the site follows the resignation Sunday of Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation, a group seeking legitimacy for the currency, and a withdrawal ban imposed at the exchange earlier this month.
A lot of people out there are insisting that bitcoin can still overcome this and that it is still a sound currency system. More power to them. I certainly wish them no ill will. I just don’t agree with them.
Others are being far more blunt about the matter. Just consider what Gary North had to say about the collapse of bitcoin…
The biggest Bitcoins exchange has gone bye-bye. It took with it the money that the investors thought was safe.
Reuters reports: “Mt. Gox had $174 million in liabilities against $32.75 million in assets. It was not possible to verify the document or the exchange’s financial situation.”
I say: “A fool and his digital money are soon parted.”
How will the investors prove in a Japanese bankruptcy court that they deserve a part of the supposed $32.75 million? After all, the transactions are all secret.
Anyone that invests in bitcoin needs to realize that they could lose everything. There is no deposit insurance. There is very little regulation. Nobody is going to bail you out if some corrupt businessman takes all of your bitcoins and drops off the map.
It is truly like the wild West.
The amount of money that some bitcoin investors stand to lose from the collapse of Mt. Gox is staggering.
Coinapult and SatoshiDice founder Erik Voorhees says that he may lose about $285,000.
Bitcoin trader Kolin Burgess fears that he may lose about $320,000.
Some people are going to go from being “bitcoin millionaires” to paupers almost overnight.
Yes, I know that there are a lot of people out there that are fervently insisting that this is not the death of bitcoin.
You never know, they may be right. In the aftermath of the collapse of Mt. Gox, six major bitcoin organizations issued a joint statement. The following is an excerpt from that statement…
The purpose of this document is to summarize a joint statement to the Bitcoin community regarding the insolvency of Mt.Gox.
This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt.Gox was the result of one company’s actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of bitcoin and the digital currency industry. There are hundreds of trustworthy and responsible companies involved in bitcoin. These companies will continue to build the future of money by making bitcoin more secure and easy to use for consumers and merchants. As with any new industry, there are certain bad actors that need to be weeded out, and that is what we are seeing today.
We are confident, however, that strong Bitcoin companies, led by highly competent teams and backed by credible investors, will continue to thrive, and to fulfill the promise that bitcoin offers as the future of payment in the Internet age.
So will the bitcoin community bounce back and be stronger than ever?
You never know. I certainly wish them the best. I simply do not plan to participate.
It isn’t just that bitcoin and other alternative currencies are very unstable and offer no protection. It is also that governments and central banks around the world are starting to crack down on something that they see as a potential threat. For example, this comes from a Fox News article that was published just this week…
Authorities have been taking an increasingly hard look at Bitcoin and related virtual currencies including Litecoin, Namecoin, Ripple, and countless others. Some countries, including Russia, have effectively banned the currency. In other jurisdictions, authorities are weighing whether to try to tame the marketplace through licenses or other mechanisms.
It is entirely possible that the collapse of Mt. Gox could have been manufactured by a government or a central bank.
Considering the other things that have been revealed over the past couple of years, it would be naive to think that governments and central banks are unwilling to engage in such subterfuge.
In addition, consider what would happen to the other exchanges if the U.S. or the EU publicly announced a complete ban on bitcoin someday.
There are just too many risks.
Like I said, I wish those well that are involved in bitcoin or any of the other alternative virtual currencies that are floating around out there.
Hopefully some of those virtual currencies will succeed.
But most average American families simply cannot afford to put their hard-earned money into schemes that could evaporate literally overnight.
So what do you think about bitcoin?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
This time, the Federal Reserve has created a truly global problem. A big chunk of the trillions of dollars that it pumped into the financial system over the past several years has flowed into emerging markets. But now that the Fed has decided to begin “the taper”, investors see it as a sign to pull the “hot money” out of emerging markets as rapidly as possible. This is causing currencies to collapse and interest rates to soar all over the planet. Argentina, Turkey, South Africa, Ukraine, Chile, Indonesia, Venezuela, India, Brazil, Taiwan and Malaysia are just some of the emerging markets that have been hit hard so far. In fact, last week emerging market currencies experienced the biggest decline that we have seen since the financial crisis of 2008. And all of this chaos in emerging markets is seriously spooking Wall Street as well. The Dow has fallen nearly 500 points over the last two trading sessions alone. If the Federal Reserve opts to taper even more in the coming days, this currency crisis could rapidly turn into a complete and total currency collapse.
A lot of Americans have always assumed that the U.S. dollar would be the first currency to collapse when the next great financial crisis happens. But actually, right now just the opposite is happening and it is causing chaos all over the planet.
For instance, just check out what is happening in Turkey according to a recent report in the New York Times…
Turkey’s currency fell to a record low against the dollar on Friday, a drop that will hit the purchasing power of everyone in the country.
On a street corner in Istanbul, Yilmaz Gok, 51, said, “I’m a retiree making ends meet on a small pension and all I care about is a possible increase in prices.”
“I will need to cut further,” he said. “Maybe I should use my natural gas heater less.”
As inflation escalates and interest rates soar in these countries, ordinary citizens are going to feel the squeeze. Just having enough money to purchase the basics is going to become more difficult.
And this is not just limited to a few countries. What we are watching right now is truly a global phenomenon…
“You’ve had a massive selloff in these emerging-market currencies,” Nick Xanders, a London-based equity strategist at BTIG Ltd., said by telephone. “Ruble, rupee, real, rand: they’ve all fallen and the main cause has been tapering. A lot of companies that have benefited from emerging-markets growth are now seeing it go the other way.”
So why is this happening? Well, there are a number of factors involved of course. However, as with so many of our other problems, the actions of the Federal Reserve are at the very heart of this crisis. A recent USA Today article described how the Fed helped create this massive bubble in the emerging markets…
Emerging markets are the future growth engine of the global economy and an important source of profits for U.S. companies. These developing economies were both recipients and beneficiaries of massive cash inflows the past few years as investors sought out bigger returns fostered by injections of cheap cash from the Federal Reserve and other central bankers.
But now that the Fed has started to dial back its stimulus, many investors are yanking their cash out of emerging markets and bringing the cash back to more stable markets and economies, such as the U.S., hurting the developing nations in the process, explains Russ Koesterich, chief investment strategist at BlackRock.
“Emerging markets need the hot money but capital is exiting now,” says Koesterich. “What you have is people saying, ‘I don’t want to own emerging markets.'”
What we are potentially facing is the bursting of a financial bubble on a global scale. Just check out what Egon von Greyerz, the founder of Matterhorn Asset Management in Switzerland, recently had to say…
If you take the Turkish lira, that plunged to new lows this week, and the Russian ruble is at the lowest level in 5 years. In South Africa, the rand is at the weakest since 2008. The currencies are also weak in Brazil and Mexico. But there are many other countries whose situation is extremely dire, like India, Indonesia, Hungary, Poland, the Ukraine, and Venezuela.
I’m mentioning these countries individually just to stress that this situation is extremely serious. It is also on a massive scale. In virtually all of these countries currencies are plunging and so are bonds, which is leading to much higher interest rates. And the cost of credit-default swaps in these countries is surging due to the increased credit risks.
And many smaller nations are being deeply affected already as well.
For example, most Americans cannot even find Liberia on a map, but right now the actions of our Federal Reserve have pushed the currency of that small nation to the verge of collapse…
Liberia’s finance minister warned against panic today after being summoned to parliament to explain a crash in the value of Liberia’s currency against the US dollar.
“Let’s be careful about what we say about the economy. Inflation, ladies and gentlemen, is not out of control,” Amara Konneh told lawmakers, while adding that the government was “concerned” about the trend.
Closer to home, the Mexican peso tumbled quite a bit last week and is now beginning to show significant weakness. If Mexico experiences a currency collapse, that would be a huge blow to the U.S. economy.
Like I said, this is something that is happening on a global scale.
If this continues, we will eventually see looting, violence, blackouts, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks in emerging markets all over the planet just like we are already witnessing in Argentina and Venezuela.
Hopefully something can be done to stop this from happening. But once a bubble starts to burst, it is really difficult to try to hold it together.
Meanwhile, I find it to be very “interesting” that last week we witnessed the largest withdrawal from JPMorgan’s gold vault ever recorded.
Was someone anticipating something?
Once again, hopefully this crisis will be contained shortly. But if the Fed announces that it has decided to taper some more, that is going to be a signal to investors that they should race for the exits and the crisis in the emerging markets will get a whole lot worse.
And if you listen carefully, global officials are telling us that is precisely what we should expect. For example, consider the following statement from the finance minister of Mexico…
“We expected this year to be a volatile year for EM as the Fed tapers,” Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said, adding that volatility “will happen throughout the year as tapering goes on”.
Yes indeed – it is looking like this is going to be a very volatile year.
I hope that you are ready for what is coming next.
The unelected central planners at the Federal Reserve have decided that the time has come to slightly taper the amount of quantitative easing that it has been doing. On Wednesday, the Fed announced that monthly purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds will be reduced from $45 billion to $40 billion, and monthly purchases of mortgage-backed securities will be reduced from $35 billion to $30 billion. When this news came out, it sent shockwaves through financial markets all over the planet. But the truth is that not that much has really changed. The Federal Reserve will still be recklessly creating gigantic mountains of new money out of thin air and massively intervening in the financial marketplace. It will just be slightly less than before. However, this very well could represent a very important psychological turning point for investors. It is a signal that “the party is starting to end” and that the great bull market of the past four years is drawing to a close. So what is all of this going to mean for average Americans? The following are 8 ways that “the taper” is going to affect you and your family…
1. Interest Rates Are Going To Go Up
Following the announcement on Wednesday, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries went up to 2.89% and even CNBC admitted that the taper is a “bad omen for bonds“. Thousands of other interest rates in our economy are directly affected by the 10 year rate, and so if that number climbs above 3 percent and stays there, that is going to be a sign that a significant slowdown of economic activity is ahead.
2. Home Sales Are Likely Going To Go Down
Mortgage rates are heavily influenced by the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries. Because the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is now substantially higher than it was earlier this year, mortgage rates have also gone up. That is one of the reasons why the number of mortgage applications just hit a new 13 year low. And now if rates go even higher that is going to tighten things up even more. If your job is related to the housing industry in any way, you should be extremely concerned about what is coming in 2014.
3. Your Stocks Are Going To Go Down
Yes, I know that stocks skyrocketed today. The Dow closed at a new all-time record high, and I can’t really provide any rational explanation for why that happened. When the announcement was originally made, stocks initially sold off. But then they rebounded in a huge way and the Dow ended up close to 300 points.
A few months ago, when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke just hinted that a taper might be coming soon, stocks fell like a rock. I have a feeling that the Fed orchestrated things this time around to make sure that the stock market would have a positive reaction to their news. But of course I absolutely cannot prove this at all. I hope someday we learn the truth about what actually happened on Wednesday afternoon. I have a feeling that there was some direct intervention in the markets shortly after the announcement was made and then the momentum algorithms took over from there.
In any event, what we do know is that when QE1 ended stocks fell dramatically and the same thing happened when QE2 ended. If you doubt this, just check out this chart.
Of course QE3 is not being ended, but this tapering sends a signal to investors that the days of “easy money” are over and that we have reached the peak of the market.
And if you are at the peak of the market, what is the logical thing to do?
Sell, sell, sell.
But in order to sell, you are going to need to have buyers.
And who is going to want to buy stocks when there is no upside left?
4. The Money In Your Bank Account Is Constantly Being Devalued
When a new dollar is created, the value of each existing dollar that you hold goes down. And thanks to the Federal Reserve, the pace of money creation in this country has gone exponential in recent years. Just check out what has been happening to M1. It has nearly doubled since the financial crisis of 2008…
The Federal Reserve has been behaving like the Weimar Republic, and this tapering does not change that very much. Even with this tapering, the Fed is still going to be creating money out of thin air at an absolutely insane rate.
And for those that insist that what the Federal Reserve is doing is “working”, it is important to remember that the crazy money printing that the Weimar Republic did worked for them for a little while too before ending in complete and utter disaster.
5. Quantitative Easing Has Been Causing The Cost Of Living To Rise
The Federal Reserve insists that we are in a time of “low inflation”, but anyone that goes to the grocery store or that pays bills on a regular basis knows what a lie that is. The truth is that if the inflation rate was still calculated the same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.
Most of the new money created by quantitative easing has ended up in the hands of the very wealthy, and it is in the things that the very wealthy buy that we are seeing the most inflation. As one CNBC article recently stated, we are seeing absolutely rampant inflation in “stocks and bonds and art and Ferraris and farmland“.
6. Quantitative Easing Did Not Reduce Unemployment And Tapering Won’t Either
The Federal Reserve actually first began engaging in quantitative easing back in late 2008. As you can see from the chart below, the percentage of Americans that are actually working is lower today than it was back then…
The mainstream media continues to insist that quantitative easing was all about “stimulating the economy” and that it is now okay to cut back on quantitative easing because “unemployment has gone down”. Hopefully you can see that what the mainstream media has been telling you has been a massive lie. According to the government’s own numbers, the percentage of Americans with a job has stayed at a remarkably depressed level since the end of 2010. Anyone that tries to tell you that we have had an “employment recovery” is either very ignorant or is flat out lying to you.
7. The Rest Of The World Is Going To Continue To Lose Faith In Our Financial System
Everyone else around the world has been watching the Federal Reserve recklessly create hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air and use it to monetize staggering amounts of government debt. They have been warning us to stop doing this, but the Fed has been slow to listen.
The greatest damage that quantitative easing has been causing to our economy does not involve the short-term effects that most people focus on. Rather, the greatest damage that quantitative easing has been causing to our economy is the fact that it is destroying worldwide faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. debt.
Right now, far more U.S. dollars are used outside the country than inside the country. The rest of the world uses U.S. dollars to trade with one another, and major exporting nations stockpile massive amounts of our dollars and our debt.
We desperately need the rest of the world to keep playing our game, because we have become very dependent on getting super cheap exports from them and we have become very dependent on them lending us trillions of our own dollars back to us.
If the rest of the world decides to move away from the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt because of the incredibly reckless behavior of the Federal Reserve, we are going to be in a massive amount of trouble. Our current economic prosperity greatly depends upon everyone else using our dollars as the reserve currency of the world and lending trillions of dollars back to us at ultra-low interest rates.
And there are signs that this is already starting to happen. In fact, China recently announced that they are going to quit stockpiling more U.S. dollars. This is one of the reasons why the Fed felt forced to do something on Wednesday.
But what the Fed did was not nearly enough. It is still going to be creating $75 billion out of thin air every single month, and the rest of the world is going to continue to lose more faith in our system the longer this continues.
8. The Economy As A Whole Is Going To Continue To Get Even Worse
Despite more than four years of unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, the overall U.S. economy has continued to decline. If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “37 Reasons Why ‘The Economic Recovery Of 2013′ Is A Giant Lie“.
And no matter what the Fed does now, our decline will continue. The tragic downfall of small cities such as Salisbury, North Carolina are perfect examples of what is happening to our country as a whole…
During the three-year period ending in 2009, Salisbury’s poverty rate of 16% was about 3% higher than the national rate. In the following three-year period between 2010 and 2012, the city’s poverty rate was approaching 30%. Salisbury has traditionally relied heavily on the manufacturing sector, particularly textiles and fabrics. In recent decades, however, manufacturing activity has declined significantly and continues to do so. Between 2010 and 2012, manufacturing jobs in Salisbury — as a percent of the workforce — shrank from 15.5% to 8.3%.
But the truth is that you don’t have to travel far to see evidence of our economic demise for yourself. All you have to do is to go down to the local shopping mall. Sears has experienced sales declines for 27 quarters in a row, and at this point Sears is a dead man walking. The following is from a recent article by Wolf Richter…
The market share of Sears – including K-Mart – has dropped to 2% in 2013 from 2.9% in 2005. Sales have declined for years. The company lost money in fiscal 2012 and 2013. Unless a miracle happens, and they don’t happen very often in retail, it will lose a ton in fiscal 2014, ending in January: for the first three quarters, it’s $1 billion in the hole.
Despite that glorious track record, and no discernible turnaround, the junk-rated company has had no trouble hoodwinking lenders into handing it a $1 billion loan that matures in 2018, to pay off an older loan that would have matured two years earlier.
And J.C. Penney is suffering a similar fate. According to Richter, the company has lost a staggering 1.6 billion dollars over the course of the last year…
Then there’s J.C. Penney. Sales plunged 27% over the last three years. It lost over $1.6 billion over the last four quarters. It installed a revolving door for CEOs. It desperately needed to raise capital; it was bleeding cash, and its suppliers and landlords had already bitten their fingernails to the quick. So the latest new CEO, namely its former old CEO Myron Ullman, set out to extract more money from the system, borrowing $1.75 billion and raising $785 million in a stock sale at the end of September that became infamous the day he pulled it off.
So don’t believe the hype.
The economy is getting worse, not better.
Quantitative easing did not “rescue the economy”, but it sure has made our long-term problems a whole lot worse.
And this “tapering” is not a sign of better things to come. Rather, it is a sign that the bubble of false prosperity that we have been enjoying for the past few years is beginning to end.
Shouldn’t Internet companies actually “make a profit” at some point before being considered worth billions of dollars? A lot of investors laugh when they look back at the foolishness of the “Dotcom bubble” of the late 1990s, but the tech bubble that is inflating right in front of our eyes today is actually far worse. For example, what would you say if I told you that a seven-year-old company that has a long history of not being profitable and that actually lost 64 million dollars last quarter is worth more than 13 billion dollars? You would probably say that I was insane, but the company that I have just described is Twitter and Wall Street is going crazy for it right now. Please don’t get me wrong – I actually love Twitter. On my Twitter account I have sent out thousands of “tweets”. Twitter is a lot of fun, and it has had a huge impact on the entire planet. But is it worth 13 billion dollars? Of course not.
When it comes to the Internet, what is hot today will probably not be hot tomorrow.
Do you remember MySpace?
At one time, MySpace was considered to be the undisputed king of social media. But then something better came along (Facebook) and killed it.
It is important to keep in mind that Facebook did not even exist ten years ago. Yes, almost everybody is using it today, but will everybody still be using it a decade from now?
But the way that the financial markets are valuing these firms can only be justified if they are going to make absolutely massive profits for many decades to come.
Will Twitter eventually make a little bit of money?
Probably, as long as they get their act together.
In fact, Twitter should be making significant amounts of money right now if it was being run correctly.
But will Twitter ever make 13 billion dollars?
No, that simply is not going to happen. But that is what Wall Street says that Twitter is worth.
The utter foolishness that we are witnessing on Wall Street right now is so similar to what we saw back in the late 1990s. It is almost as if we have learned nothing from our past mistakes.
These days I keep having flashbacks of the Pets.com sock puppet. For those too young to remember, the following is a brief summary from Investopedia about what happened to Pets.com…
It’s impossible to think of the first Internet era without thinking of the Pets.com sock puppet. He was everywhere and was nearly as well-known as the Geico gecko is today.
That familiarity, in part, persuaded many investors to lay down money in the company’s February 2000 IPO (which was backed by Amazon.com). Pets.com raised $82.5 million – but nine months later it folded, due to major recurring losses. Part of the reason for that was aggressive advertising, but the company also lost money on virtually every item it sold. In the third quarter of 2000, Pets.com reported negative gross margins of $277,000. (The second quarter had seen a $1.7 million margin loss.) That same quarter (its last full quarter as an operating entity), the company lost $21.7 million on $9.4 million in revenue.
As for the puppet, he went on to shill for BarNone, which helps people with bad credit histories get car loans. He’s still there today, front and center on that website.
Everyone loves to laugh at the poor little sock puppet, but the truth is that the tech bubble that is inflating right now is far worse than the Dotcom bubble of the late 1990s. The following are 14 facts about the current tech bubble that will blow your mind…
#1 In just a few days, the Twitter IPO is expected to raise close to 2 billion dollars even though Twitter actually lost 64.6 million dollars last quarter and has a long history of not being profitable.
#2 It is being projected that after the IPO Twitter could have a market valuation of more than 13 billion dollars.
#3 Twitter is not expected to make a profit until 2015 at the earliest.
#4 According to CNBC, Pinterest is currently valued at 3.8 billion dollars even though it has never earned a profit.
#5 Yahoo paid more than a billion dollars for Tumblr even though Tumblr’s revenues are so small that Yahoo is not even required to report them on financial statements.
#6 Snapchat, an Internet service that allows people to send out messages that “self-destruct”, is supposedly worth 4 billion dollars. But it actually has zero revenue coming in, and many believe that it is essentially worthless as a money making enterprise. For one extensive analysis by a tech blogger, please see this article.
#7 The stock of Rocket Fuel, an online advertising company, is trading at about 60 dollars a share and it has a market valuation of about 2 billion dollars even though it has never made a profit.
#8 The stock of local business review website Yelp is up 241 percent this year even though it has never earned a quarterly profit.
#9 Fab.com just raised 165 million dollars from investors even though it recently laid off 44o employees.
#10 LinkedIn stock has risen in price by 136 percent since the 2011 IPO, and it is now supposedly worth more than 18 billion dollars.
#11 The head of engineering at Twitter, Chris Fry, got a 10.3 million dollar pay package when he joined Twitter last year.
#12 Facebook’s VP of engineering, Mike Schroepfer, earned 24.4 million dollars in 2011.
#13 Office rents in San Francisco (where many of these tech companies are based) are now 23 percent higher than they were at the peak of the real estate market in 2008.
#14 Facebook stock is up close to 140 percent over the past 12 months and the company is now worth more than 120 billion dollars.
And I am certainly not the only one that is concerned that we are repeating the mistakes of the late 1990s…
“When you look at valuations and look at the lack of earnings and revenue, it seems to me much like the dot-com bubble,” said Matt McCormick, a money manager at Cincinnati-based Bahl & Gaynor Inc. who helps oversee $10.2 billion. “This market looks a little frothy and Twitter is the personification of a risky trade.”
In fact, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, we have seen some of these tech stocks crash more than once during the Internet age…
“It’s fascinating to me that today’s mini-mania includes shares of Amazon, Netflix and Priceline that have previously peaked and crashed before—in some cases they’ve peaked and crashed twice before,” says Darren Pollock, portfolio manager at Cheviot Value Management. “Stocks like these have again captured the imagination of speculators. We’re skeptical that there is enough underlying intrinsic value to many of the highfliers to support today’s prices.”
So how long will it be until the current tech bubble implodes?
That is a very good question. Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…