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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why would they want to do such a thing?

I can answer that question with just two words…

Donald Trump.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is The United States About To Bomb North Korea? The White House Says ‘The Clock Has Now Run Out’

I got chills when I saw a CNN report that said that a White House official has just warned that “the clock has now run out” on North Korea’s nuclear program and that “all options are on the table”.  That second phrase has been repeatedly used by members of the Trump administration in recent days, and everyone knows what it means.  When I wrote that a conflict with North Korea could be “Trump’s first war” last month, I was still hoping that cooler heads would prevail and that a military conflict could be avoided.  Unfortunately, it appears that a peaceful solution is not in the cards, and that means that the United States may soon start bombing North Korea.  And of course if that happens the North Koreans will strike back with whatever they can, and that includes nuclear weapons.

I don’t know if I have the words to effectively communicate how serious this situation could become.  We have gotten to the point where the White House is openly talking of going to war with a nuclear power

A senior White House official issued a dire warning to reporters Tuesday on the state of North Korea’s nuclear program, declaring “the clock has now run out and all options are on the table.”

“The clock has now run out, and all options are on the table,” the official said, pointing to the failure of successive administration’s efforts to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear program.

Later this week, President Trump is going to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida.  The eyes of the entire world will be on this summit, because everyone knows that Trump is going to press the Chinese leader for help on resolving the crisis with North Korea.

But what can China actually do?

The Chinese could cut off trade with North Korea, and that would definitely hurt, but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears to have become convinced that long range nuclear missiles are the key to the survival of his regime, and so he will never give up his nuclear program.

And the Chinese will certainly not strike North Korea militarily, and so ultimately if something is going to be done to stop North Korea from getting long range nuclear missiles it will be up to the United States.

On Tuesday morning, North Korea once again showed their defiance by firing yet another test missile into the Sea of Japan

The missile was fired from the Sinpo region at 10.40pm GMT (6.10am local time) on the communist nation’s east coast and landed into the sea off the Korean peninsula, South Korean military officials confirmed.

The rocket is believed to have flown around 37 miles before crashing into the sea. Specific details about the type of projectile were not immediately available.

Kim Jong Un conducted more missile tests in 2016 than his father did in nearly two decades.

It has become crystal clear that North Korea is not going to back down.

President Trump is still hoping that China will step up to the plate, but if the Chinese don’t he has already stated that the United States is fully prepared to “act alone”.  In fact, he made headlines all over the planet when he told the Financial Times the following: “Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what Trump is saying there.

Previous administrations have tried sanctions and negotiations for decades, and they all failed.

In the end, Trump is going to be faced with a choice whether to bomb North Korea or not, and four-star general Jack Keane says that bombing North Korea “may be the only option left”

A four-star general with close ties to Donald Trump has warned that military strikes are ‘rapidly’ becoming the only solution to North Korea’s nuclear program.

Jack Keane, who declined the President’s offer to become Defense Secretary last year, said bombing Kim Jong-un’s nuclear facilities ‘may be the only option left.’

But bombing North Korea is not like bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or Syria.

The North Koreans already have nuclear weapons, and the U.S. better destroy them all in an overwhelming initial assault, because Kim Jong Un will use any that survive to strike back.

If you doubt this, just consider what a very high level North Korean defector just told Lester Holt of NBC News

A senior North Korean defector has told NBC News that the country’s “desperate” dictator is prepared to use nuclear weapons to strike the United States and its allies.

Thae Yong Ho is the most high profile North Korean defector in two decades, meaning he is able to give a rare insight into the secretive, authoritarian regime.

According to Thae, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is “desperate in maintaining his rule by relying on his [development of] nuclear weapons and ICBM.” He was using an acronym for intercontinental ballistic missiles — a long range rocket that in theory would be capable of hitting the U.S.

North Korea is currently developing an intercontinental ballistic missile known as the “Taepodong 2” that will have a range of approximately 8000 kilometers.

In other words, it would be capable of striking cities in the western portion of the United States.

It is unthinkable that we would allow a tyrannical leader that is literally insane and that is obsessed with destroying the United States to have such a weapon.

But the moment that we start dropping bombs on North Korea we will start a war in which millions could die.  Whatever nuclear weapons are missed in the first assault will likely be fired at U.S. military bases in Japan or at South Korea’s capital city of Seoul.  Approximately 10 million people live in Seoul, so the death toll would be absolutely enormous.  And even if all North Korean nuclear devices are destroyed by the first attack, the North Koreans still have thousands of artillery guns and rocket launchers trained on Seoul, and they would not hesitate to use their vast stockpile of chemical warheads.

After the initial North Korean barrage, the fourth largest military on the entire planet would start pouring across the border in a massive invasion of South Korea.  The U.S. military would be forced to respond with large scale ground forces if South Korea would have any chance of surviving, and just like in the first Korean War the Chinese may decide to respond to that move by committing their own troops to the war on the side of North Korea.

This is a season of “wars and rumors of wars”, and most Americans have no idea how dangerously close we are to the beginning of World War III.  My hope is that a peaceful way out of this crisis can still be found, but at this point that is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine.

If Donald Trump decides to go to war with North Korea, he needs to hit them with an absolutely overwhelming first strike that takes out every single North Korean nuke, the bulk of North Korea’s artillery and rockets, and the entire North Korean leadership team within the first few minutes of the attack.

It is hard to imagine a scenario that does not involve nukes that would accomplish that.

And Donald Trump better get the public approval of South Korean and Japanese leadership before ever attempting such an attack, because they will likely pay the highest price if North Korea is able to strike back.

If South Korea or Japan balk at backing such an operation and then they get hit by North Korean nukes, the United States could lose them as friends and allies forever.

The stakes are incredibly high, and there are so many things that could go wrong.

So let us pray for peace, because the alternative is almost too horrible to imagine.

Why The Melted Fuel Under Fukushima Could Poison Our Planet With Nuclear Radiation For 1000s Of Years

Nuclear Danger Sign - Public DomainSix years ago, an absolutely devastating tsunami caused a triple meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power facility.  It was the worst environmental disaster in all of human history, and even though six years have passed since that time, nobody knows where the three melted cores are.  Just recently, authorities believe that they spotted some melted fuel underneath reactor 2, but even from a distance the level of nuclear radiation that was detected was being described as “unimaginable”.  Essentially what we are talking about are three enormous “dirty bombs” that are continuously emitting tremendous amounts of nuclear radiation into the air, water and soil.  Some of the radioactive elements that are being released have half-lives that are measured in tens of thousands of years, and so the poisonous effect of these “dirty bombs” could potentially be with us for generation after generation.

Personally, I don’t know why the big mainstream news outlets in the U.S. are almost entirely ignoring Fukushima these days.  Fox News did a story on the “unimaginable” radiation at Fukushima just a few days ago, but that was about it.

To me, it is certainly newsworthy that nuclear radiation inside reactor 2 at Fukushima is at the highest level ever recorded

Radiation levels inside a damaged reactor at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant have hit a record high, and are the worst since the plant suffered a triple meltdown nearly six years ago. The latest readings now pose a serious challenge as officials prepare to dismantle the stricken facility.

Radiation levels inside the containment vessel of reactor No. 2 at Fukushima has reached 530 sieverts per hour—a figure described by experts as “unimaginable.”

Previously, the highest level of radiation measured at Fukushima was 73 sieverts per hour, and just a small fraction of that amount would be fatal to most humans

Needless to say, this plant is not fit for human life. Just one dose of a single sievert is enough to cause radiation sickness and nausea. Exposure to four to five sieverts would kill about half of those exposed to it within a month, while a single dose of 10 sieverts is enough to kill a person within weeks.

At 530 sieverts per hour, the radiation is so intense that even robots can only last for a couple of hours in that environment.  The Japanese hope to eventually remove the melted fuel from these reactors someday, but first they have to figure out if it is even possible.

And the truth is that the level of radiation in reactor 2 may actually be far higher than 530 sieverts per hour.  That is because the recent reading was taken “some distance from the melted fuel”

The 530 sievert reading was recorded some distance from the melted fuel, so in reality it could be 10 times higher than recorded, said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center.

Experts are also warning that the levels of radiation may be much higher than 530 sieverts per hour in reactors 1 and 3.  Nobody knows, because the melted fuel in those reactors has not even been located yet.

Even though so much time has gone by, there is still very much an urgency to this crisis.  In a newly published article, Mike Adams of Natural News explained why this is the case

In effect, Fukushima has become the world’s largest dirty bomb, and the remaining fuel rods could explode (achieve criticality) at any moment. Even right now, the radiation is so intense that robots built to explore the wreckage can only survive for a few hours before their circuits are destroyed. Thus, there’s almost no scenario in which Japan, Tepco or anybody in the world figures out how to clean up the wreckage, reclaim the melting fuel rods and reestablish control over the nuclear reactions that are still ongoing.

You can’t even successfully build a containment vessel on top of it all because the melting nuclear fuel has already burned a massive hole in the floor and is melting its way into the ground water.

What most people don’t understand is that the melted nuclear fuel under Fukushima is going to be with us for a very, very long time.  Some of the fuel rods contained plutonium-239, and plutonium-239 has a half-life of approximately 24,000 years

Do they think a one-meter hole magically appears in nuclear containment vessels due to random chance? No, it’s melting fuel rods, you morons. And some of that fuel is MOX fuel, which contains plutonium-239 that boasts a half life of 24,000 years. So sometime in the year 26000 A.D. the Fukushima nightmare will be HALF as toxic as it is right now. What a wonderful, progressive future to look forward to, eh?

Plutonium-239 is one of the most dangerous substances known to humanity.  As nuclear expert Steven C. Jones once explained, it would not take much plutonium-239 to kill every man, woman and child on the entire planet…

To give one an example of how lethal radiation is, one pound of plutonium evenly distributed into everyone’s lungs would kill every man, woman and child on Earth. There are literally “tons” of radioactive plutonium (among other radioactive elements) that have been released into the air and ocean environments since March 11th. Another critical fact to remember is that radioactive plutonium, for example, remains lethal (killing life) for thousands years as it has a half-life of 24,000 years. Some other radioactive elements such as uranium have a half-life of 4.47 billion years.

And remember, more radioactive material is being released from Fukushima every single day.  The following comes from an interview with Kevin Kamps, the radioactive waste monitor at Beyond Nuclear…

There are claims that “it’s all contained, don’t worry about it.” It is indisputable that there is a daily flow of radioactively contaminated groundwater into the ocean. The figures something like 80,000 gallons per day of relatively low-level radioactive waste water. Then you’ve got those storage tanks – we’re talking 800,000 tons of highly radioactive water stored in tanks. Every day they pour a hundred tons of water on each of these three melted down cores. Sometimes they lose those tanks. They leak, they overflow – it is an ongoing catastrophe.

Are you starting to understand how serious this is?

Once nuclear material escapes from Fukushima, it literally gets distributed all over the planet.

That means that it is getting into our air, our water and our food supply.

And I find it extremely interesting that the EPA was moving to dramatically raise the “safe limits” on radioactivity in our drinking water right at the end of the Obama administration.  The following comes from a Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility press release dated December 22, 2016

“Following Japan’s Fukushima meltdown in 2011, EPA’s claims that no radioactivity could reach the U.S. at levels of concern were contradicted by its own rainwater measurements showing contamination from Fukushima throughout the U.S. well above Safe Drinking Water Act limits. In reaction, EPA prepared new limits 1000s of times higher than even the Fukushima rainwater because ‘EPA experienced major difficulties conveying to the public that the detected levels…were not of immediate concern for public health.’”

Why in the world would the EPA do that?

Here are some more of the details

The documents obtained by PEER revealed that the EPA plans to raise maximum allowable limits of iodine-131, cobalt-60 and calcium-45 to more than 10,000 times the levels allowed under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Others would be hundreds or thousands of times higher under the new guidelines.

The agency’s justification for withholding the new proposed limits from the public until after the proposal had been adopted was that it wanted to “avoid confusion.”

Radioactive material is also getting into our food supply.  If you love to eat fish this next item may be a bummer, because it is being reported that radiation from Fukushima was recently found in salmon off the coast of Oregon…

Fish contaminated by radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan have been detected 6,000 miles away of the US west coast.

Salmon carrying traces of caesium 134 particles – the so-called fingerprint of the Fukushima – were found by researchers in the seas off Oregon.

One we eat something that has been contaminated, radioactive material will often migrate to key organs in our body, and once it is there it can poison us indefinitely.  In a previous article I included a quote from author Helen Caldicott, the author of “Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe“.  I am including the quote once again in this article because it is absolutely imperative that we all understand the danger that we are facing…

Internal radiation, on the other hand, emanates from radioactive elements which enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans). After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer. Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.

The amount of cesium-137 that has been released at Fukushima is equivalent to hundreds of Hiroshima bombs.

But because we can’t see, touch, taste or hear the danger, to many people it may not seem real.

Nuclear radiation is a silent killer, and unless a miracle happens the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster will be felt for generations to come.

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

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

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

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

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

Chinese Stocks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japan Stocks

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

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

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

German Stocks

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

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

British Stocks

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

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

French Stocks

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

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

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

Italian Stocks

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

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

So did I leave anyone off the list?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would love to be wrong about that last part.

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

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

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

Earth Changes In 2016? How To Get Prepared For The Coming Earthquakes And Volcanic Eruptions

Four Horsemen - Public DomainAll over the world seismic activity is increasing.  In recent weeks we have seen a dramatic earthquake in Ecuador, more than 600 earthquakes have experts extremely alarmed about what is happening to Japan’s southern Island, and 37 volcanoes around the planet are erupting right now.  Most of the large earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that we have witnessed lately have come along the Ring of Fire, which is an area of seismic instability which roughly encircles the Pacific Ocean.  Fortunately the west coast of the United States has been spared so far, but scientists tell us that tension has been building up along the San Andreas fault and the Cascadia Subduction Zone for decades, and they assure us that it is only a matter of time before we see a major event.  What that day arrives, will you be prepared?

There were a couple of notable seismic events which took place on Monday.  First of all, the largest volcano in Russia’s Far East known as Klyuchevskaya Sopka violently erupted.  Steaming hot ash was shot more than three miles up into the air, but fortunately it is not a heavily populated area.  This represents yet another major volcanic eruption along the Ring of Fire, and this has some scientists extremely concerned about what may be coming next.

Here in the United States, an unusual swarm of 21 earthquakes along the Arizona-Nevada border is also raising eyebrows

More small earthquakes shook northwest Arizona Sunday adding to the list of temblors that have struck the area since March 29.

The Arizona Geological Survey said two quakes occurred, including a magnitude 2.6 quake at 12:07 a.m.

There has been a swarm of 21 quakes in an area along the Arizona-Nevada line south-southwest of Littlefield, AZ, which is also close to southwestern Utah and the frequency and span puzzles geologists.

The good news is that we have not had a truly historic earthquake in the U.S. for decades, and there have been no major volcanic eruptions since Mount St. Helens exploded back in 1980.

But scientists assure us that we are living on borrowed time, and there are three extremely dangerous volcanoes in North America that I am keeping a close watch on right now…

#1 Mt. Popocatepetl

Popocatepetl is an Aztec word that can be translated as “smoking mountain”, and more than 25 million people live within range of this extraordinarily dangerous mountain.  Experts tell us that during the time of the Aztecs, entire cities were completely buried in super-heated mud from this volcano.  In fact, the super-heated mud was so deep that it buried entire pyramids.  In the event of a full-blown eruption, Mexico City’s 18 million residents probably wouldn’t be buried in super-heated mud, but it would still be absolutely devastating for Mexico’s largest city.

#2 Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier has been dubbed a “time bomb“, “the most dangerous mountain in the United States” and “one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world” because it sits so close to Seattle, Tacoma and other major cities along the coast of Washington state.  In the event of a full-blown eruption, countless numbers of people would literally be buried alive in a tsunami of super-heated mud.  These tsunamis of super-heated mud are known as “lahars”, and scientists believe that Mt. Rainier is capable of producing lahars that could move at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.  I am so convinced that an eruption of Mt. Rainier is in our future that I even put one in my novel.

#3 The Yellowstone Supervolcano

Many of us that are a bit older still remember the eruption of Mount St. Helens back in 1980.  Well, scientists tell us that a full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would have up to 2,000 times the power of that eruption.  Salt Lake City would be toast, anything caught outside in Denver would probably be dead in pretty short order, and a layer of volcanic ash at least 10 feet deep would be dumped on everything even up to 1,000 miles away.  Food production in America would be virtually wiped out, and a “volcanic winter” would cool global temperatures by up to 20 degrees for an extended period of time.

In other words, life as we know it would come to an end.

That is why the extremely unusual activity going on at Yellowstone right now is such a concern.  If it decides to blow, world history will make a dramatic turn in a single moment.

So what should we do?

As always, we should never give in to fear.  There are definitely going to be major earthquakes and historic volcanic eruptions in North America, and we are going to have to deal with them.  Doing some common sense things in advance will give you and your family the best chance of calmly and smoothly making it through such a crisis.

Below, I have shared some tips that come directly from the CDC.  This first set of tips suggests things that you and your family can do to get prepared for a major earthquake…

—–

Gather Emergency Supplies

Stock up now on emergency supplies that can be used after an earthquake. These supplies should include a first aid kit, survival kits for the home, automobile, and workplace, and emergency water and food. Store enough supplies to last at least 3 days.

Evacuation Plans

If an earthquake occurs, you may need to evacuate a damaged area afterward. By planning and practicing for evacuation, you will be better prepared to respond appropriately and efficiently to signs of danger or to directions by civil authorities.

  • Take a few minutes with your family to discuss a home evacuation plan. Sketch a floor plan of your home; walk through each room and discuss evacuation details.
  • Plan a second way to exit from each room or area, if possible. If you need special equipment, such as a rope ladder, mark where it is located.
  • Mark where your emergency food, water, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers are located.
  • Mark where the utility switches or valves are located so that they can be turned off, if possible.
  • Indicate the location of your family’s emergency outdoor meeting place.

Establish Priorities

Take time before an earthquake strikes to write an emergency priority list, including:

  • important items to be hand-carried by you
  • other items, in order of importance to you and your family
  • items to be removed by car or truck if one is available
  • things to do if time permits, such as locking doors and windows, turning off the utilities, etc.

Write Down Important Information

Make a list of important information and put it in a secure location. Include on your list:

  • important telephone numbers, such as police, fire, paramedics, and medical centers
  • the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of your insurance agents, including policy types and numbers
  • the telephone numbers of the electric, gas, and water companies
  • the names and telephone numbers of neighbors
  • the name and telephone number of your landlord or property manager
  • important medical information, such as allergies, regular medications, etc.
  • the vehicle identification number, year, model, and license number of your automobile, boat, RV, etc.
  • your bank’s or credit union’s telephone number, account types, and numbers
  • radio and television broadcast stations to tune to for emergency broadcast information

Gather and Store Important Documents in a Fire-Proof Safe

  • Birth certificates
  • Ownership certificates (automobiles, boats, etc.)
  • Social Security cards
  • Insurance policies
  • Wills
  • Household inventory, including:
    • list of contents
    • photographs of contents of every room
    • photographs of items of high value, such as jewelry, paintings, collectors’ item

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Preparing for a volcanic eruption requires a strategy that is a little bit different.  Here are more tips from the CDC

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If you are told to evacuate

Follow authorities’ instructions if they tell you to leave the area. Though it may seem safe to stay at home and wait out an eruption, doing so could be very dangerous. Volcanoes spew hot, dangerous gases, ash, lava, and rock that are powerfully destructive.

Preparing to evacuate

  • Tune in the radio or television for volcano updates.
  • Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals.
  • Review your emergency plan and gather your emergency supplies. Be sure to pack at least a 1-week supply of prescription medications.
  • Prepare an emergency kit for your vehicle with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, a flashlight, batteries, etc.
  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank.
  • If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation, or follow authorities’ instructions on where to obtain transportation.
  • Place vehicles under cover, if at all possible.
  • Put livestock in an enclosed area. Plan ahead to take pets with you, but be aware that many emergency shelters cannot accept animals.
  • Fill your clean water containers.
  • Fill sinks and bathtubs with water as an extra supply for washing.
  • Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature. If the power goes out, food will stay cooler longer.

As you evacuate

  • Take only essential items with you, including at least a 1-week supply of prescription medications.
  • If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity, and water.
  • Disconnect appliances to reduce the likelihood of electrical shock when power is restored.
  • Make sure your automobile’s emergency kit is ready.
  • Follow designated evacuation routes—others may be blocked—and expect heavy traffic and delays.

If you are told to take shelter where you are

  • Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local authorities may evacuate specific areas at greatest risk in your community.
  • Close and lock all windows and outside doors.
  • Turn off all heating and air conditioning systems and fans.
  • Close the fireplace damper.
  • Organize your emergency supplies and make sure household members know where the supplies are.
  • Make sure the radio is working.
  • Go to an interior room without windows that is above ground level.
  • Bring your pets with you, and be sure to bring additional food and water supplies for them.
  • It is ideal to have a hard-wired (non-portable) telephone in the room you select. Call your emergency contact—a friend or family member who does not live near the volcano—and have the phone available if you need to report a life-threatening condition. Remember that telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.

—–

In the end, you have got to do what you feel is best for you and your family.

Personally, I would be extremely hesitant to live in very high risk areas along the west coast or near the Yellowstone supervolcano.  This is especially true considering how dramatically global seismic activity is increasing.

But others point to the fact that these “danger areas” have not seen any major events in decades, so they wonder what all of the fuss is about.

So what do you think?  Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…

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

Dozens Of Large Earthquakes Strike As Speculation Mounts That Japan’s Southern Island May Split

Kyushu EarthquakesOver the past 48 hours, our planet has been hit by literally dozens of earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater, and scientists are acknowledging that what is taking place is highly unusual.  This strange shaking began toward the end of last week when the globe was struck by five major earthquakes over the space of just two days, and over the weekend the seismic activity just continued to escalate.  Very early on Saturday, Japan’s southern island of Kyushu was hit by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake, and on Saturday night a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck off Ecuador’s Pacific coast.  It was the worst earthquake that Ecuador had experienced since 1979, and it was followed by at least 163 aftershocks.  Unfortunately, there are indications that what we have seen so far may be just the beginning.

Because the Ecuador earthquake was bigger, it is getting most of the headlines at the moment, but the truth is that what is going on in Japan is potentially far more dangerous.

Over the past week, Japan’s southern Island of Kyushu has been rocked by a series of devastating quakes, including two major ones in less than 48 hours.  The following comes from the Guardian

A second major earthquake in less than two days has shaken Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, with at least 34 people thought to have been killed, about 1,500 injured and more feared buried after building collapses and landslides.

The 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck at about 1.30am on Saturday, waking people across the island – including the thousands already in crisis centres. It caused widespread damage, with several landslides and a village evacuated over fears a dam might burst.

The mainstream media in the United States is using the term “landslides” to describe what has happened all over Kyushu, but the truth is that in many instances it would be far more accurate to say that “giant cracks” or “vast chasms” have formed.  The geography of Japan’s southern island has been fundamentally transformed, and this is beginning to cause huge concerns.  Here is more from the Guardian

One major landslide tore open a mountainside in Minamiaso village in Kumamoto prefecture, destroying a key bridge that could cut off food and other relief transport to the worst-hit area.

Another landslide hit a road, collapsing a house that fell down a ravine. In another part of the village, houses were left hanging precariously at the edge of a huge hole.

I want to show you a map which comes directly from the U.S. Geological Survey.  This map shows all of the earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater that have hit Japan’s southern island over the past week.  As you look at this map, do you see a pattern?…

Kyushu Earthquakes

The dozens of earthquakes that have hit Japan’s southern island over the past week appear to form something of a straight line that divides the island in two.  Many are now speculating that geological forces are beginning to tear Kyushu in half, and if that is true, the earthquake activity that we have seen in Japan so far is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

We could potentially be talking about an event that could ultimately have far more of an impact on Japan than the tsunami of 2011.  By the time it is all said and done, entire cities could be wiped off the map and millions upon millions of Japanese citizens could be displaced.

Already, the seismic activity that has rocked Kyushu is having quite an impact on the Japanese economy

Earlier today Toyota was one of many Japanese companies to announce that it will suspend most car production across Japan as a result of critical supply chain disruptions caused by the recent destructive earthquake and numerous aftershocks. All of the major assembly lines will be shut down across its four directly-run plants, and Toyota will be halting production in stages at other group companies as well.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, most of the Toyota group in Japan will be effectively shut down through at least the end of this upcoming week, with a production loss of as many as 50,000 vehicles, including brands such as Prius, Lexus, and Land Cruiser.

Our planet resembles something of a giant cracked egg, and the enormous tectonic plates that we are all living on are constantly in motion.  So if Japan’s southern island is in the process of slowly splitting in half, that shouldn’t exactly be a surprise.  After all, scientists assure us that Los Angeles and San Francisco will be directly next to one another someday.

And it isn’t just Japan that we need to be concerned about.  All along the “Ring of Fire”, seismic activity is increasing, and this has many of the experts completely puzzled.  The following comes from an excellent piece by Alvin Conway

This has continued to baffle many of the world’s leading geologists, who still attest the rise in the number of large earthquakes is merely a random natural occurrence. For instance, the number of large earthquakes doubled in 2014. However, here’s what scientists had to say about it: “If you think there have been more earthquakes than usual this year, you’re right. A new study finds there were more than twice as many big earthquakes in the first quarter of 2014 as compared with the average since 1979.

We have recently experienced a period that has had one of the highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded,” said lead study author Tom Parsons, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Menlo Park, California.

If you are familiar with my work, then you already know that I believe that we have entered a period of time during which we will see seismic activity on a scale that none of us have ever experienced before.

This great shaking will combine with other factors such as financial collapse, geopolitical instability and civil unrest to produce what many have described as a “perfect storm”.  Life as we know it is in the process of fundamentally changing, and right now we are only in the very early chapters of this change.

Unfortunately, most people are ignoring the warnings and will continue to ignore them until it is far too late.

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

Watch Japan – For All Is Not Well In The Land Of The Rising Sun

Tokyo - Public DomainOne of the epicenters of the global financial crisis that started during the second half of last year is Japan, and it looks like the markets in the land of the rising sun are entering yet another period of great turmoil.  The Nikkei was down another 390 points last night, and it is now down more than 1,300 points since a week ago.  Why this is so important for U.S. investors is because the Nikkei is often an early warning indicator of where the rest of the global markets are heading.  For example, the Nikkei started crashing early last December about a month before U.S. markets started crashing really hard in early January.  So the fact that the Nikkei has been falling very rapidly in recent days should be a huge red flag for investors in this country.

I want you to study the chart below very carefully.  It shows the performance of the Nikkei over the past 12 months.  As you can see, it kind of resembles a giant leaning “W”.  You can see the stock crash that started last August, you can see the second wave of the crash that began last December, and now a third leg of the crash is currently forming…

Nikkei - Federal Reserve

And of course the economic fundamentals in Japan continue to deteriorate as well.  GDP growth has been negative for two out of the last three quarters, Japanese industrial production just experienced the largest one month decline that we have seen since the tsunami of 2011, and business sentiment has sunk to a three year low.

The third largest economy on the entire planet is in a comatose state at this point, and Japanese authorities have been throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it in an attempt to revive it.  Government stimulus programs have pushed the debt to GDP ratio to 229 percent, and the quantitative easing that the Bank of Japan has been engaged in has made the Federal Reserve look timid by comparison.

But none of those extraordinary measures has been successful in stimulating the Japanese economy, so now the Bank of Japan has been been trying negative interest rates.  Unfortunately, these negative rates are also having some unintended consequences.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the negative interest rate program is putting additional stress on the Japanese financial sector…

The Bank of Japan started imposing a minus 0.1% rate on some deposits held by commercial banks in February, meaning that those banks now have to pay a small fee when they add to their money parked at the central bank. The financial sector has suffered amid worries that banks can’t pass on negative interest rate to their depositors and therefore will take a hit to their profits.

I would keep a very close eye on the big banks in Japan.  It is my conviction that there is a lot more brewing under the surface than we are being told about so far.

In addition, many analysts in Japan are complaining that all of this manipulation by the BOJ is essentially destroying normal market behavior.  The following comes from Bloomberg

Nobuyasu Atago, who also had worked at the BOJ and is now the chief economist at Okasan Securities Co., pointed out that instead of serving as a important source of cash for borrowers, the credit market has become a profit center for dealers looking to buy securities from investors and sell them to the central bank. While the strategy may be lucrative now, financial institutions face the risk of massive losses, he said.

“By making the trade with the BOJ the only source of profit, markets are exposed to unexpected volatility when that trade ends and the BOJ moves toward the exit,” Atago said. “Markets are being destroyed.”

The more global central banks try to “fix things”, the more they make our long-term imbalances even worse.

To me, it makes no sense to have a bunch of unelected, unaccountable central planners constantly monkeying with the financial system.  In a true free market system, we would allow market forces to determine the course of events.  But of course we don’t have a free market system anymore.  Instead, what we have is a heavily socialized system that is greatly manipulated by the central planners.

That is why global financial markets gyrate wildly if Janet Yellen so much as sneezes.  They know who holds all the power, and investors are constantly on edge as they wait for the latest pronouncement from our central banking overlords.

At this point, 99 percent of the global population lives in a country with a central bank.  Our world is more deeply divided than ever, and yet somehow everyone in the world has agreed to adopt this insidious system.

It sure is quite a coincidence, isn’t it?

Getting back to Japan, things are so bad now that the Japanese government is actually considering giving gift certificates directly to low-income young people.  The following originally comes from Bloomberg

The Japanese government plans to include gift certificates for low-income young people in its fiscal 2016 supplementary budget, Sankei reports, without saying who provided the information.

Recipients would be able to use them for daily necessities.

The government sees gift certificates as more effective in stimulating consumption than cash handouts, which may be deposited.

This is what the end of democracy looks like.

When the government just starts handing out money like candy, you might as well turn out the lights because the party is over.

Since 2008, global central banks have cut interest rates 637 times and they have injected approximately 12.3 trillion dollars into the global financial system through various quantitative easing programs.

Has all of this monkeying around solved our problems?

Of course not.

Instead, our long-term problems have grown progressively worse and now a new financial crisis has begun.

Keep an eye on Japan, and also keep an eye on Europe.  Huge problems are bubbling right under the surface, and when they come bursting into the open they will deeply affect the United States as well.

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

Helicopter Money: Global Central Banks Consider Distributing Money Directly To The People

Helicopters 2 - Public DomainShould central banks create money out of thin air and give it directly to governments and average citizens?  If you can believe it, this is now under serious consideration.  Since 2008, global central banks have cut interest rates 637 times, they have injected 12.3 trillion dollars into the global financial system through various quantitative easing programs, and we have seen an explosion of government debt unlike anything we have ever witnessed before.  But despite these unprecedented measures, the global economy is still deeply struggling.  This is particularly true in Japan, in South America, and in Europe.  In fact, there are 16 countries in Europe that are experiencing deflation right now.  In a desperate attempt to spur economic activity, central banks in Europe and in Japan are playing around with negative interest rates, and so far they seem to only have had a limited effect.

So as they rapidly run out of ammunition, global central bankers are now openly discussing something that might sound kind of crazy.  According to the Telegraph, central banks are becoming increasingly open to employing a tactic known as “helicopter money”…

Faced with political intransigence, central bankers are openly talking about the previously unthinkable: “helicopter money”.

A catch-all term, helicopter drops describe the process by which central banks can create money to transfer to the public or private sector to stimulate economic activity and spending.

Long considered one of the last policymaking taboos, debate around the merits of helicopter money has gained traction in recent weeks.

Do you understand what is being said there?

The idea is basically this – central banks would create money out of thin air and would just give it to national governments or ordinary citizens.

So who would decide who gets the money?

Well, they would.

If you are anything like me, this sounds very much like Pandora’s Box being opened.

But this just shows how much of a panic there is among central bankers right now.  They know that we are plunging into a new global economic crisis, and they are desperate to find something that will stop it.  And if that means printing giant gobs of money and dropping it from helicopters over the countryside, well then that is precisely what they are going to do.

In fact, the chief economist at the European Central Bank is quite adamant about the fact that the ECB can print money out of thin air and “distribute it to people” when the situation calls for it…

ECB chief Mario Draghi has refused to rule out the prospect, saying only that the bank had not yet “discussed” such matters due to their legal and accounting complexity. This week, his chief economist Peter Praet went further in hinting that helicopter drops were part of the ECB’s toolbox.

All central banks can do it“, said Praet. “You can issue currency and you distribute it to people. The question is, if and when is it opportune to make recourse to that sort of instrument“.

Apparently memories of the Weimar Republic must have faded over in Europe, because this sounds very much like what they tried to do.  I don’t know why anyone would ever want to risk going down that road again.

Here in the United States, the Federal Reserve is not openly talking about “helicopter money” just yet, but that is only because the stock market is doing okay for the moment.

Most Americans don’t realize this, but the primary reason why stocks are doing better in the U.S. than in the rest of the world is because of stock buybacks.  According to Wolf Richter, corporations spent more than half a trillion dollars buying back their own stocks over the past 12 months…

During the November-January period, 378 of the S&P 500 companies bought back their own shares, according to FactSet. Total buybacks in the quarter rose 5.2% from a year ago, to $136.6 billion. Over the trailing 12 months (TTM), buybacks totaled $568.9 billion.

When corporations buy back their own stocks, that means that they are slowly liquidating themselves.  Instead of pouring money into new good ideas, they are just returning money to investors.  This is not how a healthy economy should work.

But corporate executives love stock buybacks, because it increases the value of their stock options.  And big investors love them too, because they love to see the value of their stock holdings rise.

So we will continue to see big corporations cannibalize themselves, but there are a couple of reasons why this is starting to slow down.

Number one, corporate profits are starting to fall steadily as the economy slows down, so there will be less income to plow into these stock buybacks.

Number two, many corporations have used debt to fund buybacks, but now it is getting tougher for corporations to get new funding as corporate defaults rise.

As stock buybacks slow, this is going to put downward pressure on the market, and we will eventually catch up with the rest of the planet.  At this point, many experts are still calling for stocks to fall by another 40, 50 or 60 percent from current levels.  For example, the following comes from John Hussman

From a long-term investment standpoint, the stock market remains obscenely overvalued, with the most historically-reliable measures we identify presently consistent with zero 10-12 year S&P 500 nominal total returns, and negative expected real returns on both horizons.

From a cyclical standpoint, I continue to expect that the completion of the current market cycle will likely take the S&P 500 down by about 40-55% from present levels; an outcome that would not be an outlier or worst-case scenario, but instead a rather run-of-the-mill cycle completion from present valuations. If you are a historically-informed investor who is optimistic enough to reject the idea that the financial markets are forever doomed to extreme valuations and dismal long-term returns, you should be rooting for this cycle to be completed. If you are a passive investor, you should at least align your current exposure with your investment horizon and your tolerance for cyclical risk, which we expect to be similar to what we anticipated in 2000-2002 and 2007-2009.

When the S&P 500 does fall that much eventually, the Federal Reserve will respond with emergency measures.

So yes, we may see “helicopter money” employed in Japan and in Europe first, but we will see it here someday too.

I know that a lot of people out there are feeling pretty good about things for the moment because U.S. stocks have rebounded quite a bit lately.  But remember, the fundamental economic numbers just continue to get even worse.  Just today we learned that existing home sales in the United States had fallen by the most in six years.  That is definitely not a sign that things are “getting better”, and I keep trying to warn people that tumultuous times are dead ahead.

And if global central bankers did not agree with me, they would not be talking about the need for “helicopter money” and other emergency measures.

Global Stocks Continue To Crash As Oil Plummets And Gold Skyrockets

Clock Image - Public DomainStock markets around the world continue to collapse as this new global financial crisis picks up more steam.  In the U.S., the Dow lost 254 more points on Thursday, and it has now fallen for five days in a row.  European stocks continued to get obliterated, and financial institutions are leading the way.  But this week what is happening in Japan has been the most sobering.  After falling 918 points the other day, the Nikkei plunged another 760 points early on Friday.  The Nikkei has now fallen for seven of the past eight days, and investors in Japan are in full panic mode.  Overall, global stocks are well into bear market territory, and nearly 17 trillion dollars of global stock market wealth has already been wiped out.

As panic rises, investors are seeking alternative investments.  On Thursday, the price of gold hit $1,260 an ounce at one point before settling back a bit.  But even with the fade at the end of the day, it was still the biggest daily gain in more than two years.  Overall, gold is having its best quarterly performance in 30 years.

Whenever a financial crisis happens, investors seek out safe havens such as gold that can help them weather the storm.  In particular, demand for physical gold is going through the roof all over the planet.  Just check out the following excerpt from a Telegraph article entitled “Investors ‘go bananas’ for gold bars as global stock markets tumble“…

BullionByPost, Britain’s biggest online gold dealer, said it has already taken record-day sales of £5.6m as traders pile into gold following fears the world is on the brink of another financial crisis.

Rob Halliday-Stein, founder and managing director of the Birmingham-based company, said takings today had already surpassed the firm’s previous one-day record of £4.4m in October 2014.

BullionByPost, which takes orders of up to £25,000 on the website but takes higher amounts over the phone, explained it had received a few hundred orders overnight and frantic numbers of phone calls this morning.

Meanwhile, the price of oil continues to drop to stunning new depths.  On Thursday U.S. oil dropped as low as $26.21, which was the lowest price in 13 years.  Not even during the worst parts of the last financial crisis did oil ever go this low.

And remember, the price of oil was sitting at about $108 a barrel back in June 2014.  Since that time it has fallen about 75 percent.

Needless to say, this crash is having some very serious consequences for the energy industry.  Previously, I have reported that 42 North American energy companies have gone into bankruptcy since the beginning of last year.

But I just found out that the true number is much worse than that.

According to CNN, “67 U.S. oil and natural gas companies filed for bankruptcy in 2015″…

Bankruptcy filings are flying in the American oil patch.

At least 67 U.S. oil and natural gas companies filed for bankruptcy in 2015, according to consulting firm Gavin/Solmonese.

That represents a 379% spike from the previous year when oil prices were substantially higher.

With oil prices crashing further in recent weeks, five more energy gas producers succumbed to bankruptcy in the first five weeks of this year, according to Houston law firm Haynes and Boone.

A lot of people tend to think that my writing is full of “doom and gloom”, but the truth is that I often understate how bad things really are.  I’ll often report one number and find out later that an updated number is even worse than the one that I originally reported.

What we desperately need is for the price of oil to go back up.

Unfortunately, the International Energy Agency says that isn’t likely to happen any time soon

The International Energy Agency said earlier this week that it expects the global oil glut to grow throughout the year.

With the market already awash in oil, it is very hard to see how oil prices can rise significantly in the short term,” the IEA said in its monthly report.

And of course all of this is incredibly bad news for financial institutions all over the world.

During the boom times, the big banks showered energy companies with loans.  Now those loans are going bad, and the big banks are feeling the pain.  The following comes from CNN

It’s never a good sign when the country’s financial lifelines are under stress. Large U.S. banks JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) that helped bankroll the energy boom are already setting aside billions to cover potential loan losses in the oil industry. Investors are worried about imploding energy loans for European banks like Deutsche Bank (DB). High yield bonds in your investing portfolio wont be looking good either — Standard & Poor’s warned that half of all energy junk bonds are at risk of defaulting.

Speaking of Deutsche Bank, their stock price continued to plummet on Thursday, as did the stock prices of most other European banks.

Things were particularly bad for France’s Societe Generale.  Their stock price plunged 12 percent on Thursday alone.

This is what a global financial crisis looks like.  It began during the second half of last year, and now it is making major headlines all over the planet.

At this point, things are already so bad that the elite are starting to freak out about what this could potentially mean for them.  I want you to carefully consider the following two paragraphs from an editorial that I came across in the Telegraph earlier today…

We are too fragile, fiscally as well as psychologically. Our economies, cultures and polities are still paying a heavy price for the Great Recession; another collapse, especially were it to be accompanied by a fresh banking bailout by the taxpayer, would trigger a cataclysmic, uncontrollable backlash.

The public, whose faith in elites and the private sector was rattled after 2007-09, would simply not wear it. Its anger would be so explosive, so-all encompassing that it would threaten the very survival of free trade, of globalisation and of the market-based economy. There would be calls for wage and price controls, punitive, ultra-progressive taxes, a war on the City and arbitrary jail sentences.

I think that the author of this editorial is correct.

I do believe that another financial crisis on the scale of 2008 would trigger “a cataclysmic, uncontrollable backlash”.

In fact, I believe that is what we are steamrolling toward right now.

We can already see the anger of the American people toward the establishment being expressed in their support of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

But if the financial system completely collapses and it becomes exceedingly apparent that none of our problems from the last time around were ever fixed, the frustration is going to be off the charts.

Many people believed that this day of reckoning would never come, but now it is here.

The “coming nightmare” is now upon us, and this is just the start.

The rest of 2016 promises to be even more chaotic, and ultimately this new crisis is going to turn out to be far worse than what we experienced back in 2008.

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