Are you waiting for the next major wave of the global economic collapse to strike? Well, you might want to start paying attention again. Three of the ten largest economies on the planet have already fallen into recession, and there are very serious warning signs coming from several other global economic powerhouses. Things are already so bad that British Prime Minister David Cameron is comparing the current state of affairs to the horrific financial crisis of 2008. In an article for the Guardian that was published on Monday, he delivered the following sobering warning: “Six years on from the financial crash that brought the world to its knees, red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy.” For the leader of the nation with the 6th largest economy in the world to make such a statement is more than a little bit concerning.
So why is Cameron freaking out?
Well, just consider what is going on in Japan. The economy of Japan is the 3rd largest on the entire planet, and it is a total basket case at this point. Many believe that the Japanese will be on the leading edge of the next great global economic crisis, and that is why it is so alarming that Japan has just dipped into recession again for the fourth time in six years…
Japan’s economy unexpectedly fell into recession in the third quarter, a painful slump that called into question efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to pull the country out of nearly two decades of deflation.
The second consecutive quarterly decline in gross domestic product could upend Japan’s political landscape. Mr. Abe is considering dissolving Parliament and calling fresh elections, people close to him say, and Monday’s economic report is seen as critical to his decision, which is widely expected to come this week.
Of course Japan is far from alone.
Brazil has the 7th largest economy on the globe, and it has already been in recession for quite a few months.
And the problems that the national oil company is currently experiencing certainly are not helping matters…
In the past five days, 23 powerful Brazilians have been arrested, with even more warrants still outstanding.
The country’s stock market has become a whipsaw, and its currency, the real, has hit a nine-year low.
All of this is due to a far-reaching corruption scandal at one massive company, Petrobras.
In the last month the company’s stock has fallen by 35%.
The 9th largest economy in the world, Italy, has also fallen into recession…
Italian GDP dropped another 0.1% in the third quarter, as expected.
That’s following a 0.2% drop in Q2 and another 0.1% decline in Q1, capping nine months of recession for Europe’s third-largest economy.
Like Japan, there is no easy way out for Italy. A rapidly aging population coupled with a debt to GDP ratio of more than 132 percent is a toxic combination. Italy needs to find a way to be productive once again, and that does not happen overnight.
Meanwhile, much of the rest of Europe is currently mired in depression-like conditions. The official unemployment numbers in some of the larger nations on the continent are absolutely eye-popping. The following list of unemployment figures comes from one of my previous articles…
Are you starting to get the picture?
The world is facing some real economic problems.
Another traditionally strong economic power that is suddenly dealing with adversity is Israel.
In fact, the economy of Israel is shrinking for the first time since 2009…
Israel’s economy contracted for the first time in more than five years in the third quarter, as growth was hit by the effects of a war with Islamist militants in Gaza.
Gross domestic product fell 0.4 percent in the July-September period, the Central Bureau of Statistics said on Sunday. It was the first quarterly decline since a 0.2 percent drop in the first three months of 2009, at the outset of the global financial crisis.
And needless to say, U.S. economic sanctions have hit Russia pretty hard.
The rouble has been plummeting like a rock, and the Russian government is preparing for a “catastrophic” decline in oil prices…
President Vladimir Putin said Russia’s economy, battered by sanctions and a collapsing currency, faces a potential “catastrophic” slump in oil prices.
Such a scenario is “entirely possible, and we admit it,” Putin told the state-run Tass news service before attending this weekend’s Group of 20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, according to a transcript e-mailed by the Kremlin today. Russia’s reserves, at more than $400 billion, would allow the country to weather such a turn of events, he said.
Crude prices have fallen by almost a third this year, undercutting the economy in Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter.
It is being reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been hoarding gold in anticipation of a full-blown global economic war.
I think that will end up being a very wise decision on his part.
Despite all of this global chaos, things are still pretty stable in the United States for the moment. The stock market keeps setting new all-time highs and much of the country is preparing for an orgy of Christmas shopping.
Unfortunately, the number of children that won’t even have a roof to sleep under this holiday season just continues to grow.
A stunning report that was just released by the National Center on Family Homelessness says that the number of homeless children in America has soared to an astounding 2.5 million.
That means that approximately one out of every 30 children in the United States is homeless.
Let that number sink in for a moment as you read more about this new report from the Washington Post…
The number of homeless children in the United States has surged in recent years to an all-time high, amounting to one child in every 30, according to a comprehensive state-by-state report that blames the nation’s high poverty rate, the lack of affordable housing and the effects of pervasive domestic violence.
Titled “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” the report being issued Monday by the National Center on Family Homelessness calculates that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013. The number is based on the Education Department’s latest count of 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, supplemented by estimates of homeless preschool children not counted by the agency.
The problem is particularly severe in California, which has about one-eighth of the U.S. population but accounts for more than one-fifth of the homeless children, totaling nearly 527,000.
This is why I get so fired up about the destruction of the middle class. A healthy economy would mean more wealth for most people. But instead, most Americans just continue to see a decline in the standard of living.
And remember, the next major wave of the economic collapse has not even hit us yet. When it does, the suffering of the poor and the middle class is going to get much worse.
Unfortunately, there are already signs that the U.S. economy is starting to slow down too. In fact, the latest manufacturing numbers were not good at all…
The Federal Reserve’s new industrial production data for October show that, on a monthly basis, real U.S. manufacturing output has fallen on net since July, marking its worst three-month production stretch since March-June, 2011. Largely responsible is the automotive sector’s sudden transformation from a manufacturing growth leader into a serious growth laggard, with combined real vehicles and parts production enduring its worst three-month stretch since late 2008 to early 2009.
A lot of very smart people are forecasting economic disaster for next year.
Hopefully they are all wrong, but I have a feeling that they are going to be right.
Barack Obama is secretly negotiating the largest international trade agreement in history, and the mainstream media in the United States is almost completely ignoring it. If this treaty is adopted, it will be the most important step toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen. The name of this treaty is “the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and the text of the treaty is so closely guarded that not even members of Congress know what is in it. Right now, there are 12 countries that are part of the negotiations: the United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These nations have a combined population of 792 million people and account for an astounding 40 percent of the global economy. And it is hoped that the EU, China and India will eventually join as well. This is potentially the most dangerous economic treaty of our lifetimes, and yet there is very little political debate about it in this country.
Even though Congress is not being allowed to see what is in the treaty, Barack Obama wants Congress to give him fast track negotiating authority. What that means is that Congress would essentially trust Obama to negotiate a good treaty for us. Congress could vote the treaty up or down, but would not be able to amend or filibuster it.
Of course now the Republicans control both houses of Congress. If they are foolish enough to blindly give Barack Obama so much power, they should all immediately resign.
And it is critical that people understand that this is not just an economic treaty. It is basically a gigantic end run around Congress. Thanks to leaks, we have learned that so many of the things that Obama has deeply wanted for years are in this treaty. If adopted, this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, healthcare, copyright and patent protection, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. This treaty includes many of the rules that alarmed Internet activists so much when SOPA was being debated, it would essentially ban all “Buy American” laws, it would give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and it would force even more domestic manufacturing offshore.
In other words, it is the treaty from hell.
In addition to imposing Obama’s vision for the world on 40 percent of the global population, it is also being described as a “Christmas wish-list for major corporations”. Of the 29 chapters in the treaty, only five of them actually deal with economic issues. The rest of the treaty deals with a whole host of other issues of great importance to the global elite.
The following list of issues addressed by this treaty is from a Malaysian news source…
• domestic court decisions and international legal standards (e.g., overriding domestic laws on both trade and nontrade matters, foreign investors’ right to sue governments in international tribunals that would overrule the national sovereignty)
• environmental regulations (e.g., nuclear energy, pollution, sustainability)
• financial deregulation (e.g., more power and privileges to the bankers and financiers)
• food safety (e.g., lowering food self-sufficiency, prohibition of mandatory labeling of genetically modified products, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease)
• Government procurement (e.g., no more buy locally produced/grown)
• Internet freedom (e.g., monitoring and policing user activity)
• labour (e.g., welfare regulation, workplace safety, relocating domestic jobs abroad)
• patent protection, copyrights (e.g., decrease access to affordable medicine)
• public access to essential services may be restricted due to investment rules (e.g., water, electricity, and gas)
Why can’t we get this type of reporting in the United States?
And if this treaty is ultimately approved by Congress, we will essentially be stuck with it forever.
This treaty is written in such a way that the United States will be permanently bound by all of the provisions and will never be able to alter them unless all of the other countries agree.
Are you starting to understand why this treaty is so dangerous?
This treaty is the key to Obama’s “legacy”. He wants to impose his will upon 40 percent of the global population in a way that will never be able to be overturned.
Of course Obama is touting this treaty as the path to economic recovery. He promises that it will greatly increase global trade, decrease tariffs and create more jobs for American workers.
But instead, it would be a major step toward destroying what is left of the U.S. economy.
Over the past several decades, every time a major trade agreement has been signed we have seen even more good jobs leave the United States.
And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this is happening. If corporations can move jobs to the other side of the planet to nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, they will make larger profits.
Just think about it. If you were running a corporation and you had the choice of paying workers ten dollars an hour or one dollar an hour, which would you choose?
Plus there are so many other costs, taxes and paperwork hassles when you deal with American workers. For example, big corporations will not have to provide Obamacare for their foreign workers. That alone will represent a huge savings.
Any basic course in economics will teach you that labor flows from markets where labor costs are high to markets where labor costs are lower. And at this point it costs less to make almost everything overseas. As a result, we have already lost millions upon millions of good jobs, and countless small and mid-size U.S. companies have been forced to shut down because they cannot compete with foreign manufacturers.
Later this month, consumers will flock to retail stores for “Black Friday” deals. But if you look carefully at those products, you will find that almost all of them are made overseas. We buy far, far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and that is a recipe for national economic suicide.
We consume far more wealth that we produce, and anyone with half a brain can see that is not sustainable in the long run. The only way that we have been able to maintain our high standard of living is by going into insane amounts of debt. We are currently living in the largest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and at some point the party is going to end.
Please share this article with as many people as you can. We need to inform people about what Obama is trying to do.
If Obama is successful in ramming this secret treaty through, it is going to do incalculable damage to what is left of the once great U.S. economy.
This is the big problem with fiat currency – eventually the temptation to print more of it when you are in a jam becomes too powerful to resist. In a surprise move on Friday, the Bank of Japan dramatically increased the size of the quantitative easing program that it has been conducting. This sent Japanese stocks soaring and the Japanese yen plunging. The yen had already fallen by about 11 percent against the dollar over the last year before this announcement, and news of the BOJ’s surprise move caused the yen to collapse to a seven year low. Essentially what the Bank of Japan has done is declare a currency war. And as you will see below, in every currency war there are winners and there are losers. Let’s just hope that global financial markets do not get shredded in the crossfire.
Without a doubt, the Japanese are desperate. Their economic decline has lasted for decades, and their debt levels are off the charts. In such a situation, printing more money seems like such an easy solution. But as history has shown us, wild money printing always ends badly. Just remember what happened in the Weimar Republic and in Zimbabwe.
At this point, the Bank of Japan is already behaving so recklessly that it is making the Federal Reserve look somewhat responsible in comparison. The following is how David Stockman summarized what just happened…
This is just plain sick. Hardly a day after the greatest central bank fraudster of all time, Maestro Greenspan, confessed that QE has not helped the main street economy and jobs, the lunatics at the BOJ flat-out jumped the monetary shark. Even then, the madman Kuroda pulled off his incendiary maneuver by a bare 5-4 vote. Apparently the dissenters——Messrs. Morimoto, Ishida, Sato and Kiuchi—-are only semi-mad.
Never mind that the BOJ will now escalate its bond purchase rate to $750 billion per year—-a figure so astonishingly large that it would amount to nearly $3 trillion per year if applied to a US scale GDP. And that comes on top of a central bank balance sheet which had previously exploded to nearly 50% of Japan’s national income or more than double the already mind-boggling US ratio of 25%.
The Japanese are absolutely destroying the credibility of their currency in a last ditch effort to boost short-term economic growth.
So why would they want to devalue their currency?
Well, there are too main reasons why nations do this.
One reason is that it makes it easier to pay off debt. The government debt to GDP ratio in Japan is approximately 250 percent at the moment, and the total debt to GDP ratio is approximately 600 percent. When you have lots more money floating around, servicing crippling levels of debt becomes more feasible.
Secondly, nations like to devalue their currencies because it makes their products less expensive on the world stage.
In other words, it helps them sell more stuff to other people.
But in the process, this hurts other exporters. For example, what the Bank of Japan just did is already having serious consequences for South Korean automakers…
In Seoul, shares of auto makers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors fell 5.9% and 5.6%, respectively, on Monday.
South Korean and Japanese companies often compete head-to-head in the same product groups in global markets, notably cars and electronics goods.
From the Bank of Japan’s standpoint, “you’re giving your industry a head start relative to someone else’s,” said Markus Rosgen, regional head of equity strategy at Citi in Hong Kong. “The perception in the equity market will be that they [South Korea] will have to take a hit from the lack of competitiveness versus the Japanese.”
This is why I said that there are winners and there are losers in every currency war.
If you boost your exports by devaluing your currency, you take away business from someone else. And ultimately other nations start devaluing their currencies in an attempt to stay competitive. That is why they call it a currency war.
For now, the Japanese are celebrating. On Friday, Japanese stocks surged almost five percent for the day and reached a seven year high. Investors tend to love quantitative easing, and they were very pleasantly surprised by what the Bank of Japan decided to do.
But of course rising stock prices are not always a good thing. As Kyle Bass recently explained, wild money printing caused Zimbabwe’s stock market to skyrocket to unprecedented heights as well and that turned out very, very badly…
Amid the euphoria… Kyle Bass provided a few minutes of sanity this morning in an interview with CNBC’s Gary Kaminsky. Bass starts by reflecting on the ongoing (and escalating) money-printing (or balance sheet expansion as we noted here) as the driver of stock movements currently and would not be surprised to see them move higher still (given the ongoing printing expected).
However, he caveats that nominally bullish statement with a critical point, “Zimbabwe’s stock market was the best performer this decade – but your entire portfolio now buys you 3 eggs” as purchasing power is crushed. Investors, he says, are “too focused on nominal prices” as the rate of growth of the monetary base is destroying true wealth. Bass is convinced that cost-push inflation is coming (as the velocity of money will move once psychology shifts) and investors must not take their eye off the insidious nature of underlying inflation – no matter what we are told by the government (as they will always lie when its critical). Own ‘productive assets’, finance them at low fixed rates (thank you Ben)…
And just like we have experienced with quantitative easing in the United States, Japan’s money printing has done very little to help the real economy. Here is more from David Stockman…
Notwithstanding the massive hype of Abenomics, Japan’s real GDP is lower than it was in early 2013, while its trade accounts have continued to deteriorate and real wages have headed sharply south.
So up to this point Japan’s experiment in crazy money printing has been a dismal failure.
Will printing even more money turn things around?
We shall see, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Meanwhile, there are reports that the European Central Bank is getting ready for more quantitative easing. Central banks all over the planet are becoming increasingly desperate for answers, and the temptation to print, print and print some more is extremely strong.
Nobody is quite sure how this currency war will play out, but I have a feeling that it isn’t going to be pretty.
There are some who believe that the next great financial crash will not begin in the United States. Instead, they are convinced that a financial crisis that begins in Europe or in Japan (or both) will end up spreading across the globe and take down the U.S. too. Time will tell if they are ultimately correct, but even now there are signs that financial trouble is already starting to erupt in both Germany and Japan. German stocks have declined 10 percent since July, and that puts them in “correction” territory. In Japan, the economy is a total mess right now. According to figures that were just released, Japanese GDP contracted at a 7.1 percent annualized rate during the second quarter and private consumption contracted at a 19 percent annualized rate. Could a financial collapse in either of those nations be the catalyst that sets off financial dominoes all over the planet?
This week, the worst German industrial production figure since 2009 rattled global financial markets. Germany is supposed to be the economic “rock” of Europe, but at this point that “rock” is starting to show cracks.
And certainly the civil war in Ukraine and the growing Ebola crisis are not helping things either. German investors are becoming increasingly jittery, and as I mentioned above the German stock market has already declined 10 percent since July…
German stocks, weighed down by the economic fallout spawned by the Ukraine-Russia crisis and the eurzone’s weak economy, are now down more than 10% from their July peak and officially in correction territory.
The DAX, Germany’s benchmark stock index, has succumbed to recent data points that show the German economy has ground to a halt, hurt in large part by the economic sanctions levied at its major trading partner, Russia, by the U.S. and European Union as a way to get Moscow to butt out of Ukraine’s affairs. The economic slowdown in the rest of the debt-hobbled eurozone has also hurt the German economy, considered the economic locomotive of Europe.
In trading today, the DAX fell as low as 8960.43, which put it down 10.7% from its July 3 closing high of 10,029.43 and off nearly 11% from its June 20 intraday peak of 10,050.98.
And when you look at some of the biggest corporate names in Germany, things look even more dramatic.
Just check out some of these numbers…
The hardest hit sectors have been retailers, industrials and leisure stocks with sports clothing giant Adidas down 37.7pc for the year, airline Lufthansa down 27pc, car group Volkswagen sliding 23.6pc and Deutchse Bank falling 20.2pc so far this year.
Meanwhile, things in Japan appear to be going from bad to worse.
The government of Japan is more than a quadrillion yen in debt, and it has been furiously printing money and debasing the yen in a desperate attempt to get the Japanese economy going again.
Unfortunately for them, it is simply not working. The revised economic numbers for the second quarter were absolutely disastrous. The following comes from a Japanese news source…
On an annualized basis, the GDP contraction was 7.1 percent, compared with 6.8 percent in the preliminary estimate. That makes it the worst performance since early 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis.
The blow from the first stage of the sales tax hike in April extended into this quarter, with retail sales and household spending falling in July. The administration signaled last week that it is prepared to boost stimulus to help weather a second stage of the levy scheduled for October 2015.
Corporate capital investment dropped 5.1 percent from the previous quarter, more than double the initial estimate of 2.5 percent.
Private consumption was meanwhile revised to a 5.1 percent drop from the initial reading of 5 percent, meaning it sank 19 percent on an annualized basis from the previous quarter, rather than the initial estimate of 18.7 percent, Monday’s report said.
For the moment, things are looking pretty good in the United States.
But as I have written about so many times, our financial markets are perfectly primed for a fall.
Other experts see things the same way. Just consider what John Hussman wrote recently…
As I did in 2000 and 2007, I feel obligated to state an expectation that only seems like a bizarre assertion because the financial memory is just as short as the popular understanding of valuation is superficial: I view the stock market as likely to lose more than half of its value from its recent high to its ultimate low in this market cycle.
At present, however, market conditions couple valuations that are more than double pre-bubble norms (on historically reliable measures) with clear deterioration in market internals and our measures of trend uniformity. None of these factors provide support for the market here. In my view, speculators are dancing without a floor.
And it isn’t just stocks that could potentially be on the verge of a massive decline. The bond market is also experiencing an unprecedented bubble right now. And when that bubble bursts, the carnage will be unbelievable. This has become so obvious that even CNBC is talking about it…
Picture this: The bond market gets spooked by a sudden interest rate scare, sending a throng of buyers streaming toward the exits, only to find a dearth of buyers on the other side.
As a result, liquidity evaporates, yields soar, and the U.S. finds itself smack in the middle of another debt crisis no one saw coming.
It’s a scenario that TABB Group fixed income head Anthony J. Perrotta believes is not all that far-fetched, considering the market had what could be considered a sneak preview in May 2013. That was the “taper tantrum,” which saw yields spike and stocks sell off after then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made remarks that the market construed as indicating rates would rise sooner than expected.
If the strength of our financial markets reflected overall strength in the U.S. economy there would not be nearly as much cause for concern.
But at this point our financial markets have become completely and totally divorced from economic reality.
The truth is that our economic fundamentals continue to decay. In fact, the IMF says that China now has the largest economy on the planet on a purchasing power basis. The era of American economic dominance is ending. It is just that the financial markets have not gotten the memo yet.
Hopefully we still have at least a few more months before stock markets all over the world start crashing. But remember, we are entering the seventh year of the seven year cycle of economic crashes that so many people are talking about these days. And we are definitely primed for a global financial collapse.
Sadly, most people did not see the crash of 2008 coming, and most people will not see the next one coming either.
A lot of people that I talk to these days want to know “when things are going to start happening”. Well, there are certainly some perilous times on the horizon, but all you have to do is open up your eyes and look to see the global economic crisis unfolding. As you will see below, even central bankers are issuing frightening warnings about “dangerous new asset bubbles” and even the World Bank is declaring that “now is the time to prepare” for the next crisis. Most Americans tend to only care about what is happening in the United States, but the truth is that serious economic trouble is erupting in South America, all across Europe and in Asian powerhouses such as China and Japan. And the endless conflicts in the Middle East could erupt into a major regional war at just about any time. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable, and people need to understand that the period of relative stability that we are enjoying right now is extremely vulnerable and will not last long. The following are 18 signs that the global economic crisis is accelerating as we enter the last half of 2014…
#1 The Bank for International Settlements has issued a new report which warns that “dangerous new asset bubbles” are forming which could potentially lead to another major financial crisis. Do the central bankers know something that we don’t, or are they just trying to place the blame on someone else for the giant mess that they have created?
#2 Argentina has missed a $539 million debt payment and is on the verge of its second major debt default in 13 years.
#3 Bulgaria is desperately trying to calm down a massive run on the banks that threatens of spiral out of control.
#4 Last month, household loans in the eurozone declined at the fastest rate ever recorded. Why are European banks holding on to their money so tightly right now?
#5 The number of unemployed jobseekers in France has just soared to another brand new record high.
#6 Economies all over Europe are either showing no growth or are shrinking. Just check out what a recent Forbes article had to say about the matter…
Italy’s economy shrank by 0.1% in the first three months of 2014, matching the average of the three previous quarters. After expanding 0.6% in Q2 2013, France recorded zero growth. Portugal shrank 0.7%, following positive numbers in the preceding nine months. While figures weren’t available for Greece and Ireland in Q1, neither country is showing progress. Greek GDP dropped 2.5% in the final three months of last year, and Ireland limped ahead at 0.2%.
#7 A few days ago it was reported that consumer prices in Japan are rising at the fastest pace in 32 years.
#8 Household expenditures in Japan are down 8 percent compared to one year ago.
#9 U.S. companies are drowning in massive amounts of debt, but the corporate debt bubble in China is so bad that the amount of corporate debt in China has actually now surpassed the amount of corporate debt in the United States.
#10 One Chinese auditor is warning that up to 80 billion dollars worth of loans in China are backed by falsified gold transactions. What will that do to the price of gold and the stability of Chinese financial markets as that mess unwinds?
#11 The unemployment rate in Greece is currently sitting at 26.7 percent and the youth unemployment rate is 56.8 percent.
#12 67.5 percent of the people that are unemployed in Greece have been unemployed for over a year.
#13 The unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole is 11.8 percent – just a little bit shy of the all-time record of 12.0 percent.
#14 The European Central Bank is so desperate to get money moving through the system that it has actually introduced negative interest rates.
#15 The IMF is projecting that there is a 25 percent chance that the eurozone will slip into deflation by the end of next year.
#16 The World Bank is warning that “now is the time to prepare” for the next crisis.
#17 The economic conflict between the United States and Russia continues to deepen. This has caused Russia to make a series of moves away from the U.S. dollar and toward other major currencies. This will have serious ramifications for the global financial system as time rolls along.
#18 Of course the U.S. economy is struggling right now as well. It shrank at a 2.9 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2014, which was much worse than anyone had anticipated.
But if U.S. economic numbers look a bit better for the second quarter, that doesn’t mean that we are out of the woods.
As I have stressed so many times, the long-term trends and the long-term balance sheet numbers are far, far more important than the short-term economic numbers.
For example, if you went to the mall today and spent a thousand dollars on candy and video games, your short-term “economic activity” would spike dramatically. But your long-term financial health would take a significant turn for the worse.
Well, when we are talking about the health of the U.S. economy or the entire global financial system we need to keep the same kinds of considerations in mind.
As for the United States, whether the level of our debt-fueled short-term economic activity goes up a little bit or down a little bit is not what is truly important.
Rather, the fact that we are nearly 60 trillion dollars in debt as a society is what really matters.
The same thing applies for the globe as a whole. Right now, the citizens of the planet are more than 223 trillion dollars in debt, and “too big to fail” banks around the world have at least 700 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.
So it doesn’t really matter too much whether the short-term economic numbers go up a little bit or down a little bit right now. The whole system is an inherently flawed Ponzi scheme that will inevitably collapse under its own weight.
Let us hope that this period of relative stability lasts for a while longer. It is a good thing to have time to prepare. But you would have to be absolutely insane to think that the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world is never going to burst.
Did you see what just happened in Japan? The stock market of the 3rd largest economy on the planet is imploding. On Tuesday, the Nikkei fell by more than 610 points. If that sounds like a lot, that is because it is. The largest one day stock market decline in U.S. history is only 777 points. So far, the Dow is only down about 1000 points during this “correction”, but the Nikkei is down more than 2,300 points. The Nikkei has dropped more than 14 percent since the peak of the market, and many analysts believe that this is only just the beginning. Those that have been waiting for a full-blown stock market collapse may be about to get their wish. Japan is absolutely drowning in debt, their central bank is printing money like crazy and the Japanese population is aging rapidly. As far as economic fundamentals go, there is very little good news as far as Japan is concerned. So will an Asian financial collapse precede the next great financial crisis in the United States? That is what some have been predicting, and it starting to look increasingly likely.
What happened to the Nikkei early on Tuesday was absolutely breathtaking. The following is how Bloomberg described the carnage…
At the end of January 2013, Japanese stocks trailed only Portugal for the biggest rally among developed markets. Now the Nikkei 225 Stock Average is leading declines, slumping 8.5 percent last month and today capping a 14 percent drop from its Dec. 30 peak.
Losses snowballed in Tokyo during a global retreat that has erased $2.9 trillion from equity values worldwide this year amid signs of slower growth in China and stimulus cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
As Bloomberg noted, much of the blame for the financial problems that we are seeing all over the planet right now is being placed on the Federal Reserve.
The Fed created this bubble by pumping trillions of fresh dollars into the global financial system, and now they are bursting this bubble by starting to cut off the flow of easy money.
This is something that I warned would happen when the Fed decided to taper, and now RBS is warning of a “market bloodbath” unless the Federal Reserve immediately stops tapering.
Most Americans simply do not realize that our financial markets no longer resemble a free market system. Instead, they are highly manipulated and distorted by the central banks, and the trillions of dollars of “hot money” that the Fed has poured into the global financial system has infected virtually every financial market on Earth…
On Wall Street they call it “hot money”—that seemingly endless flow of cash that goes to the most profitable country du jour—but in the real economy it’s gone cold.
That hot money has come mostly in the form of a low-yielding U.S. dollar, which investors have borrowed en masse to fund investments in other higher-yielding currencies across the globe. The so-called carry trade has helped fuel an investment bonanza across the world that has boosted risk assets thanks primarily to the U.S. Federal Reserve‘s easy-money policy.
But with the Fed tiptoeing away from what initially was an $85 billion-a-month infusion of liquidity, investors are beginning to prepare themselves for a world of rising rates in which the endless cash flow to emerging market economies begins to ebb, then cease.
We never fixed any of the fundamental problems that caused the last financial crisis. Instead, the Fed seemed to think that the solution to any problem was just to create more money.
It was an incredibly stupid approach, and now our fundamental problems are worse than ever as Marc Faber recently noted…
“Total credit as a percent of the global economy is now 30 percent higher than it was at the start of the economic crisis in 2007, we have had rapidly escalating household debt especially in emerging economies and resource economies like Canada and Australia and we have come to a point where household debt has become burdensome on the system—that is, where an economic slowdown follows.”
So what comes next?
Well, unless the Fed or other central banks intervene, we are probably going to have even more carnage.
At least that is what Dennis Gartman, the editor and publisher of “The Gartman Letter”, told CNBC on Tuesday…
“I just think you’re going to have a very severe, very substantive and really quite ugly correction that will probably make a lot of people wail and gnash their teeth before it’s done.”
Other analysts share his pessimism. According to Doug Short, the vice president of research at Advisor Perspectives, the U.S. stock market “still looks 67% overvalued“.
Most sobering of all is what Richard Russell is saying. In his 60 years of writing about financial issues, he has never been “so filled with foreboding regarding what lies ahead”…
I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried about the way things are going. Frankly, I’m truly scared for myself, my family and the nation. I have the sinking feeling that the stock market is on the edge of a crash. If that happens, investor sentiment will turn quickly bearish. And the bear market will start feeding on itself. Ironically, the recent action occurred in the face of almost insane bullishness on the part of the crowd and on the part of investors.
Obviously smart heads and institutional money managers know that the US is semi dead in the water. And all the talk about an improving economy is just wishes and hopes. Bernanke’s dream of a flourishing new economy, improving without the need of the Fed’s help, is an idle dream.
I’ve been writing about the stock market for over 60 years and I can’t remember a time when I was so filled with foreboding regarding what lies ahead. The primary trend of the market, like the tide of the ocean, is irresistible, and waits for no man. What scares me the most in this current situation is that I see no clear island of safety.
You can read the rest of his very disturbing remarks right here.
U.S. stocks may not totally crash this week, this month or even this year, but without a doubt a day of reckoning is coming. As a society, our total consumer, business and government debt is now equivalent to approximately 345 percent of GDP.
The only way that the game can continue is to keep pumping up the debt bubble even more.
Once the debt bubble stops expanding, it will start collapsing very rapidly.
Those that foolishly still have lots of money in the stock market better hope that the Federal Reserve decides to intervene in a major way very soon.
Because if they don’t, there is a very good chance that we could indeed have a “market bloodbath” on our hands.
Did you know that the Obama administration is negotiating a super secret “trade agreement” that is so sensitive that he isn’t even allowing members of Congress to see it? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called the “NAFTA of the Pacific” and “NAFTA on steroids”, but the truth is that it is so much more than just a trade agreement. This treaty has 29 chapters, but only 5 of them have to do with trade. Most Americans don’t realize this, but this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, health care, the trading of derivatives, copyright issues, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. It will also merge the United States far more deeply into the emerging one world economic system. Initially, twelve nations will be a party to this treaty including the United States, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Together, those nations represent approximately 40 percent of global GDP. It is hoped that additional nations such as the Philippines, Thailand and Colombia will join the treaty later on.
There are some very good reasons why Obama does not want the American people to know anything about what is in this treaty. This agreement will impose very strict Internet copyright rules on the American people, it will ban all “Buy American” laws, it will give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and it will force even more domestic manufacturing offshore.
It contains a whole host of things that Obama would be unable to get through Congress on his own. But he is hoping to spring this on Congress at the last minute and get them to agree to this “free trade agreement” before they realize all of the things that are contained in it.
The secrecy surrounding these treaty negotiations have really been unprecedented. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Kurt Nimmo…
“Since the beginning of the TPP negotiations, the process of drafting and negotiating the treaty’s chapters has been shrouded in an unprecedented level of secrecy,” Wikileaks notes in a statement on the release of the TPP draft. “Access to drafts of the TPP chapters is shielded from the general public. Members of the US Congress are only able to view selected portions of treaty-related documents in highly restrictive conditions and under strict supervision. It has been previously revealed that only three individuals in each TPP nation have access to the full text of the agreement, while 600 ’trade advisers’ – lobbyists guarding the interests of large US corporations such as Chevron, Halliburton, Monsanto and Walmart – are granted privileged access to crucial sections of the treaty text.”
And Obama reportedly is seeking “trade promotion authority” which would give him the ability to sign this treaty before Congress even votes on it…
Normally free -trade agreements must be authorized by a majority of the House and Senate, usually in lengthy proceedings.
However, the White House is seeking what is known as “trade promotion authority” which would fast track approval of the TPP by requiring Congress to vote on the likely lengthy trade agreement within 90 days and without any amendments.
The authority also allows Obama to sign the agreement before Congress even has a chance to vote on it, with lawmakers getting only a quick post-facto vote.
This is so insidious that it is hard to find the words to describe it.
In essence, Obama is trying to make a giant end run around Congress on dozens of different issues that are addressed by this treaty.
Fortunately, there are at least some members of Congress that are waking up to this. Earlier this week, a small group of Republicans and a small group of Democrats both sent Obama a letter condemning this “free trade” agreement…
Separate groups of House Republicans and Democrats on Tuesday condemned the Obama administration’s proposed sweeping free trade agreement with 11 Pacific nations, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Strongly worded letters to President Barack Obama Tuesday were signed by hardline tea partiers, true-blue progressives, and moderate, corporate-friendly lawmakers in both parties, indicating political trouble for a trade deal the administration had hoped to seal by year end.
This is one of the most important political issues facing our nation here at the end of 2013, and yet you hear next to nothing about this treaty on the mainstream news. If this treaty is approved, the United States will be permanently bound by the provisions of this treaty and will never be able to change them unless all of the other countries agree…
Countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP’s rules—in effect, a corporate coup d’état. The proposed pact would limit even how governments can spend their tax dollars. Buy America and other Buy Local procurement preferences that invest in the US economy would be banned, and “sweat-free,” human rights or environmental conditions on government contracts could be challenged. If the TPP comes to fruition, its retrograde rules could be altered only if all countries agreed, regardless of domestic election outcomes or changes in public opinion. And unlike much domestic legislation, the TPP would have no expiration date.
Are you starting to understand just how dangerous this treaty is?
Let me give you just one example of how this treaty could directly affect you.
Do you remember SOPA?
There was a huge public backlash when the very strict Internet copyright provisions of SOPA were revealed to the public, and the American people loudly expressed their displeasure to members of Congress.
But now the provisions of SOPA are back. Most of them have reportedly been very quietly inserted into this treaty. If this treaty is enacted, those provisions will become law and the American people will not be able to do a thing about it.
And according to an article in the New York Times, there are all sorts of other disturbing things that have been slipped into this treaty…
And yet another leak revealed that the deal would include even more expansive incentives to relocate domestic manufacturing offshore than were included in Nafta — a deal that drained millions of manufacturing jobs from the American economy.
The agreement would also be a boon for Wall Street and its campaign to water down regulations put in place after the 2008 financial crisis. Among other things, it would practically forbid bans on risky financial products, including the toxic derivatives that helped cause the crisis in the first place.
Are you starting to grasp why the Obama administration is so determined to keep this treaty such a secret?
In addition, this “free trade” agreement will push the ongoing deindustrialization of America into overdrive. Every year, we buy hundreds of billions of dollars more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us. Tens of thousands of American businesses have been lost as a result, and millions of good jobs have been shipped overseas.
If you are not familiar with our “trade deficit”, you really should be. It is one of the issues at the very heart of our economic problems. Posted below is a short 3 minute video that briefly discusses the trade deficit and why it is so important…
Slowly merging our economy with the rest of the planet has been absolutely disastrous for America. Just consider the following statistics…
-Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.
-The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
-Back in the year 2000, there were more than 17 million Americans working in manufacturing. Now there are less than 12 million.
-There are less Americans working in manufacturing today than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then.
-Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.
-When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars. By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.
-Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year. In 2012, our trade deficit with China was 315 billion dollars. That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.
-According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
-According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.
Once upon a time, our great manufacturing cities were the envy of the entire planet. In fact, at one time Detroit actually had the highest per capita income in the United States.
But now Detroit is a rotting, decaying, festering hellhole that is completely bankrupt. And there are dozens of other formerly great manufacturing cities that are heading down the exact same path.
These “free trade” agreements are neither “free” nor “fair” when you really examine them, and they are absolutely eviscerating the middle class.
Please urge your representatives in Congress to block the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If this treaty does get approved, it is going to make a lot of our problems a whole lot worse.
How much is 1,000,000,000,000,000 yen worth? Well, a quadrillion yen is worth approximately 10.5 trillion dollars. It is an amount of money that is larger than the “the economies of Germany, France and the U.K. combined“. It is such an astounding amount of debt that it is hard to even get your mind around it. The government debt to GDP ratio in Japan will reach 247 percent this year, and the Japanese currently spend about 50 percent of all central government tax revenue on debt service. Realistically, there are only two ways out of this overwhelming debt trap for the Japanese. Either they default or they try to inflate the debt away. At this point, the Japanese have chosen to try to inflate the debt away. They have initiated the greatest quantitative easing experiment that a major industrialized nation has attempted since the days of the Weimar Republic. Over the next two years, the Bank of Japan plans to zap 60 trillion yen into existence out of thin air and use it to buy government bonds. By the time this program is over, the monetary base in Japan will have approximately doubled. But authorities in Japan are desperate. They know that the Japanese debt bomb could set off global panic at any time, and they are trying to find a way out that will not cause too much pain.
Unfortunately, the only way that this bizarre quantitative easing program will work is if investors in Japanese bonds act very, very irrationally. You see, the only way that Japan has been able to pile up this much debt in the first place is because they have been able to borrow gigantic piles of money at super low interest rates.
Right now, the yield on 10 year Japanese bonds is sitting at an absurdly low 0.76%. But even with such ridiculously low interest rates, the central government of Japan is still spending about half of all tax revenue on debt service.
If interest rates go up, the game is over.
But now that the Japanese government has announced that it plans to double the monetary base, it would be extremely irrational for investors not to demand higher rates on Japanese government debt. After all, why would you want to loan money to the Japanese government for less than one percent a year when the purchasing power of your money could potentially be halved over the next two years?
Amazingly, this is exactly what the Japanese government is counting on. They are counting on being able to wildly print up money and monetize debt, but also keep yields on Japanese bonds at insanely low levels at the same time.
For the moment, it is actually working. Investors in Japanese bonds are behaving very, very irrationally.
But if that changes at some point, we could potentially be looking at the greatest Asian economic crisis of all time.
And there are some very sharp minds out there that believe that is exactly what is going to happen.
For example, the founder of Hayman Capital Management, Kyle Bass, has been sounding the alarm about Japan for a long time. He correctly predicted the subprime mortgage meltdown, and in the process he made hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients. Now he believes that the next major crash is going to be in Japan.
According to Bass, the bond bubble in Japan is so large that once it begins to implode fear is going to start spreading like wildfire…
Remember, Japanese banks in general have 900% of their tangible assets invested in JGBs that are the most negatively convex instrument you can put into a portfolio. Assume for instance that a bank holds a 10 year bond yielding 80 basis points. A 100 basis point move will cost the JGB investor about 10 years of expected interest payments.
Think about the psychology of all the players and financial implications if rates do move 100 basis points. Think about the solvency of a nation which currently spends 50% of its central government tax revenues on debt service, half of which earns the lowest yields of any country in the world.
You can’t look at this as a simple question. You need to think about this as a multivariate equation. You have to think about the incentives and the fears of all the participants. And you need to think about the fiscal sustainability of the government.
If rates even rise by a full percentage point, it could start a stampede toward the exits that nobody in the entire world would be able to control…
I ran a survey of 1,009 Japanese investors where we asked: “If rates were to move up 100 basis points, would that engender more confidence and make you want to buy more JGBs?” or, “Would you take your money elsewhere, even if it were hamstringing your government’s ability to operate?” 8 – 9% of respondents that said that they would buy more bonds and almost 80% said they would run, not walk the other way.
For much more on this, you can watch a video of Kyle Bass discussing why Japan is doomed right here.
And of course Japan is not the only “debt bomb” that could potentially go off over in Asia. As I mentioned in another article, the major problem over in China is the level of private debt…
In China, the big problem is the absolutely stunning growth of private domestic debt. According to a recent World Bank report, the total amount of credit in China has risen from 9 trillion dollars in 2008 to 23 trillion dollars today.
That increase is roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. commercial banking system.
There is simply way, way too much debt in our world today. Never before has there been so much red ink all over the planet at the same time.
Many in the mainstream media insist that this party can go on indefinitely.
But that is what they said about the housing bubble too.
Sadly, the truth is that every financial bubble eventually bursts, and this global debt bubble will be no exception.
I hope that you are getting prepared while you still can.
Are the central banks of the world starting to lose control of the financial markets? Could we be facing a situation where the bond bubble is going to inevitably implode no matter what the central bankers do? For the past several years, the central bankers of the planet have been able to get markets to do exactly what they want them to do. Stock markets have soared to record highs, bond yields have plunged to record lows and investors have literally hung on every word uttered by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other prominent central bankers. In the United States, it has been remarkable what Bernanke has been able to accomplish. The U.S. government has been indulging in an unprecedented debt binge, the Fed has been wildly printing money, and the real rate of inflation has been hovering around 8 to 10 percent, and yet Bernanke has somehow convinced investors to lend gigantic piles of money to the U.S. government for next to nothing. But this irrational state of affairs is not going to last indefinitely. At some point, investors are going to wake up and start demanding higher returns. And we are already starting to see this happen in Japan. Wild money printing has actually caused bond yields to go up. What a concept! And that is what should happen – when central banks recklessly print money it should cause investors to demand a higher return. But if bond investors all over the globe start acting rationally, that is going to cause the largest bond bubble in the history of the planet to burst, and that will create utter devastation in the financial markets.
Central banks can manipulate the financial system in the short-term, but there is usually a tremendous price to pay for the distortions that are caused in the long-term.
In Bernanke’s case, all of this quantitative easing seemed to work well for a while. The first round gave the financial system a nice boost, and so the Fed decided to do another. The second round had less effect, but it still boosted stocks and caused bond yields to go down. The third round was supposed to be the biggest of all, but it had even less of an effect than the second round. If you doubt this, just check out the charts in this article.
Our financial system has become addicted to this financial “smack”. But like any addict, the amount needed to get the same “buzz” just keeps increasing. Unfortunately, the more money that the Fed prints, the more distorted our financial system becomes.
The only way that this is going to end is with a tremendous amount of pain. There is no free lunch, and there are already signs that investors are starting to wake up to this fact.
As investors wake up, they are going to realize that this bond bubble is irrational and entirely unsustainable. Once the race to the exits begins, it is not going to be pretty. In fact, the are indications that the race to the exits has already begun…
During the month of June, fixed income allocations fell to a four-year low, according to the American Association of Individual Investors, as major bond fund managers like Pimco experienced record withdrawals for the second quarter. That pullback sent places like emerging markets and high-yield bonds reeling—just as the Federal Reserve signaled plans to taper its easy-money policies within the coming years. Benchmark bond yields ticked up on that news, and in an unexpected twist, the stock market nosedived as well.
A lot of people out there have been floating the theory that the Fed will decide not to taper at all and that quantitative easing will continue at the same pace and therefore the markets will settle back down.
But what if they don’t settle back down?
Could the bond bubble implode even if there is no tapering?
That is what some are now suggesting. For example, Detlev Schlichter is pointing to what has been happening in Japan as an indication that the paradigm has changed…
My conclusion is this: if market weakness is the result of concerns over an end to policy accommodation, then I don’t think markets have that much to fear. However, the largest sell-offs occurred in Japan, and in Japan there is not only no risk of policy tightening, there policy-makers are just at the beginning of the largest, most loudly advertised money-printing operation in history. Japanese government bonds and Japanese stocks are hardly nose-diving because they fear an end to QE. Have those who deal in these assets finally realized that they are sitting on gigantic bubbles and are they trying to exit before everybody else does? Have central bankers there lost control over markets?
After all, money printing must lead to higher inflation at some point. The combination in Japan of a gigantic pile of accumulated debt, high running budget deficits, an old and aging population, near-zero interest rates and the prospect of rising inflation (indeed, that is the official goal of Abenomics!) are a toxic mix for the bond market. It is absurd to assume that you can destroy your currency and dispossess your bond investors and at the same time expect them to reward you with low market yields. Rising yields, however, will derail Abenomics and the whole economy, for that matter.
The financial situation in Japan is actually very similar to the financial situation in the United States. We both have “a gigantic pile of accumulated debt, high running budget deficits, an old and aging population, near-zero interest rates and the prospect of rising inflation”. In both cases, rational investors should demand higher returns when the central bank fires up the printing presses.
And if interest rates on U.S. Treasury bonds start to rise to rational levels, the U.S. government is going to have to pay more to borrow money, state and local governments are going to have to pay more to borrow money, junk bonds will crash, the market for home mortgages will shrivel up and economic activity in this country will slow down substantially.
Plus, as I am fond of reminding everyone, there is a 441 trillion dollar interest rate derivatives time bomb sitting out there that rapidly rising interest rates could set off.
So needless to say, the Federal Reserve is scared to death of what higher interest rates would mean.
But at this point, they may have lost control of the situation.