Top Financial Expert Warns Stocks Need To Drop ‘Between 30 And 40 Percent’ As Bankruptcy Looms For Toys R Us

Will there be a major stock market crash before the end of 2017?  To many of us, it seems like we have been waiting for this ridiculous stock market bubble to burst for a very long time.  The experts have been warning us over and over again that stocks cannot keep going up like this indefinitely, and yet this market has seemed absolutely determined to defy the laws of economics.  But most people don’t remember that we went through a similar thing before the financial crisis of 2008 as well.  I recently spoke to an investor that shorted the market three years ahead of that crash.  In the end his long-term analysis was right on the money, but his timing was just a bit off, and the same thing will be true with many of the experts this time around.

On Monday, I was quite stunned to learn what Brad McMillan had just said about the market.  He is considered to be one of the brightest minds in the financial world, and he told CNBC that stocks would need to fall “somewhere between 30 and 40 percent just to get to fair value”…

Brad McMillan — who counsels independent financial advisors representing $114 billion in assets under management — told CNBC on Monday that the stock market is way overvalued.

The market probably would have to drop somewhere between 30 and 40 percent to get to fair value, based on historical standards,” said McMillan, chief investment officer at Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Financial Network.

McMillan’s analysis is very similar to mine.  For a long time I have been warning that valuations would need to decline by at least 40 or 50 percent just to get back to the long-term averages.

And stock valuations always return to the long-term averages eventually.  Only this time the bubble has been artificially inflated so greatly that a return to the long-term averages will be absolutely catastrophic for our system.

Meanwhile, trouble signs for the real economy continue to erupt.  As noted in the headline, it appears that Toys R Us is on the brink of bankruptcy

Toys R Us has hired restructuring lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis to help address looming $400 million in debt due in 2018, CNBC had previously reported, noting that bankruptcy was one potential outcome.

Kirkland declined to comment.

Earlier Monday, Reorg Research, a news service focused on bankruptcy and distressed debt, reported Toys R Us could file for bankruptcy as soon as Monday.

This is yet another sign that 2017 is going to be the worst year for retail store closings in U.S. history.  I don’t know how anyone can look at what is happening to the retail industry (or the auto industry for that matter) and argue that the U.S. economy is in good shape.

But most Americans seem to base their opinions on how the economy is doing by how well the stock market is performing, and thanks to relentless central bank intervention, stock prices have just kept going up and up and up.

In so many ways, what we are watching today is a replay of the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s, and this is something that McMillan also commented on during his discussion with CNBC…

Part of McMillan’s thesis is rooted in his belief that the lofty levels of the so-called FANG stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet — seem reminiscent of the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s.

“I’ve been saying for about the past year, this year looks a lot like 1999 to me,” McMillan said on “Squawk Box.” “If you look at the underlying economics [and] if look at the stock market, the similarities are remarkable.”

I am amazed that so many big names continue to issue extremely ominous warnings about the financial markets, and yet most Americans seem completely unconcerned.

It is almost as if 2008 never happened.  None of our long-term problems were fixed after that crisis, and the current bubble that we are facing is far larger than the bubble that burst back then.

I don’t know why more people can’t see these things.  It has gotten to a point where “even Goldman Sachs is getting worried”

The stock market bubble is now so massive that even Goldman Sachs is getting worried.

Let’s be clear here: Wall Street does best and makes the most money when stocks are roaring higher. So in order for a major Wall Street firm like Goldman to start openly worrying about whether or not the markets are going to crash, there has to be truly MASSIVE trouble brewing.

On that note, Goldman’s Bear Market indicator just hit levels that triggered JUST BEFORE THE LAST TWO MARKET CRASHES.

When things fall apart this time, it is going to be even worse than what we went through in 2008.  In the aftermath, we are going to need people that understand that we need to fundamentally redesign how our system works, and that is something that I hope to help with.  We cannot base our financial system on a pyramid of debt, and we cannot allow Wall Street to operate like a giant casino.  Our entire economy has essentially become a colossal Ponzi scheme, and it is inevitable that it is going to come horribly crashing down at some point.

But for now, the blind continue to lead the blind, and most Americans are not going to wake up until we have gone over the edge.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

World War 3? The United States And North Korea Stand On The Brink Of A Nuclear War

After North Korea successfully tested a hydrogen bomb on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned that the United States is more than capable of “the total annihilation of a country”.  Unfortunately, the North Koreans may have already gotten to the point where they are capable of the same thing.  Just a handful of North Korean nukes could kill millions of people and render the largest cities in South Korea or Japan completely uninhabitable, and so a nuclear war with the North Koreans should be avoided at all costs.  Sadly, global events seem to be relentlessly pulling us in that direction.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake was registered in North Korea at the same time that the North Koreans claim that they conducted a “perfect” test of a hydrogen bomb.  This test was reportedly 10 times more powerful than North Korea’s last nuclear test, and the North Koreans are also claiming that this bomb was small enough to be fitted on an inter-continental ballistic missile.

North Korea should have never been allowed to get to this point.  But the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations just kept kicking the can down the road year after year, and now we are facing a crisis with no good solution.  Because it is absolutely unthinkable for us to allow North Korea to have an entire fleet of nuclear missiles capable of hitting targets in the United States, but it is also absolutely unthinkable to start a war in which potentially tens of millions of people could die.

North Korea is honeycombed with very deep underground tunnels.  Even if we knew exactly how many nukes North Korea has, and even if we knew where they all were, there is still no possible way that we could get them all with a first strike.

But even if we could, North Korea is entirely capable of killing millions in South Korea and Japan with chemical, biological and conventional weapons.  Before he left the White House, Steven Bannon had the following to say about the situation that we are facing on the Korean peninsula…

“Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us,” Bannon told the American Prospect.

In this case, Bannon is exactly correct, and any members of Congress that would suggest differently are simply lying to you.

At this moment, there is no military solution to the North Korean crisis, but our top military leaders continue to talk as if there is

US Defense Secretary James Mattis vowed “a massive military response” to any threat from North Korea against the United States or its allies in a statement outside the White House after a meeting with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and top national security advisers Sunday.

Mattis said Trump wanted to be briefed on each of the “many military options” for dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat.

In fact, Mattis went so far as to suggest that the “total annihilation” of North Korea is a potential option

“We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said, we have many options to do so.”

As he was leaving church on Sunday, President Trump also suggested that a pre-emptive strike on North Korea is very much on the table

As he left church, Trump was asked, “Will you attack North Korea?”

Trump answered, “We’ll see.”

In addition, on Twitter Trump warned that he was considering “stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea”

The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.

Of course China is North Korea’s biggest trade partner, and if we immediately tried to cut off all trade with China it would throw the global economy into a nightmare scenario.

But a trade war with China is not our only concern.  Last month, The Global Times (a Chinese state newspaper) threatened the United States with a shooting war if it attempted to bring about regime change in North Korea…

‘If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.’

This is the tensest that things have been on the Korean peninsula since the Korean War ended in 1953.

One false move and literally tens of millions of people could die.

Most Americans have absolutely no idea what a military conflict with North Korea would mean.  We are talking about death and destruction on a scale that would be absolutely unprecedented.  The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles

Could you imagine what would happen if a North Korean nuke hit Tokyo or Seoul?

Even one nuke could kill millions in those densely populated cities, and financial markets all over the world would almost instantly implode.

And North Korea also has some of the largest chemical and biological weapons stockpiles on the entire planet. Within moments of an attack, thousands of North Korean artillery pieces and rockets would start raining fire on Seoul, and even just a few chemical or biological warheads would cause immense devastation in that city of about 10 million people.

In addition, North Korean forces are poised to invade South Korea at literally any moment, and the only way that South Korea could survive such an invasion would be direct intervention by U.S. forces.

On top of everything else, what if the North Koreans were able to successfully launch a nuke or two toward our major cities? Or what if they already have the technology to set off an EMP blast high in the atmosphere above the continental United States? Or what if their agents that are already embedded here start releasing biological agents in our major cities?

These are nightmare scenarios that most Americans never even consider, but they would be very real possibilities in the event that we go to war with North Korea.

Sometimes a military option is the best option, but this is not one of those cases.

There is no way that a military strike on North Korea would end well, and our top brass already knows this.

So let us hope that cooler heads prevail, because at this moment we are literally standing on the brink of World War 3.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Dow Falls 274 Points As ‘Eclipse Fever’ Hits The Financial Markets

Have we now entered a time of major financial shaking?  On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 274 points.  The was the largest decline for the Dow since May, and high yield bonds were down dramatically as well.  Many are blaming the terror attack in Barcelona and “instability in the White House” for the downturn, but could “eclipse fever” also be a factor?  The closer that we get to the solar eclipse on August 21st, the weirder people seem to be getting.  You will see what I am talking about below.

But first let’s talk about the financial markets.  I have been warning that stocks are massively overvalued for quite a while now, and it turns out that the Federal Reserve very much agrees with me

“Since the April assessment, vulnerabilities associated with asset valuation pressures had edged up from notable to elevated, as asset prices remained high or climbed further, risk spreads narrowed, and expected and actual volatility remained muted in a range of financial markets.”

Even the Fed is warning that we are in a bubble, and it is just a matter of time until that bubble bursts.

And anyone that is paying attention should be able to see the red flags all around us.  In fact, we have just witnessed the most “Hindenburg Omens” that we have seen since November 2007.  The technical indicators are absolutely screaming that a major downturn is dead ahead, and John P. Hussman is encouraging everyone to be cautious and to “consider watching from a safe location”…

Given obscene valuations, lopsided bullishness, and (importantly) clearly deteriorating internals, consider watching from a safe location.

We shall see what happens, but I tend to very much agree with Hussman.

Meanwhile, the closer that we get to August 21st, the crazier people seem to be getting.  The following comes from USA Today

As citizen scientists collectively nerd-out ahead of Monday’s total solar eclipse, rogue observers of the spooky and weird are generating theories that the celestial event could usher in aliens, boost sightings of “interdimensional” creatures and perhaps even plunge us toward world destruction.

None of those things are going to happen, but there are some very odd things about this eclipse that are definitely worth noting.

In a previous article, I noted that the first major city in the United States that the eclipse will cross is named Salem.  Well, it turns out that the eclipse will actually cross a total of seven cities named Salem, and of course “Salem” is short for “Jerusalem”.

I also find it very interesting how much the number “33” is associated with this eclipse.  The following are just a few examples

This solar eclipse is highly unusual for so many reasons and it occurs just 33 days before what may very well be the Great Sign.  It begins in the 33rd state, ends at the 33rd parallel, and occurs on the 233rd day of the year, which is 33 weeks and 2 days into 2017.  The eclipse will take 1 hour and 33 minutes to cross the country and occurs 133 days (inclusive) before the end of 2017.

And of course this solar eclipse begins a period of 40 days which will end with Yom Kippur on September 30th.  The following is an excerpt from a Charisma News article authored by Ron Allen which I think has some really good insights…

Teshuvah, the 40-day Jewish season of repentance, literally means to return to the presence of God, and is a time of introspection and a reminder of judgment. It begins on the first day of the sixth month known an Elul, and the solar eclipses that occur on Teshuvah add to the meaning of Teshuvah. The Teshuvah eclipses are signs of coming judgment, like the Trumpets eclipses, but they are also signs of unity in the presence of God. Thus, the Teshuvah eclipses are both an invitation to return to God and a warning of judgment.

During the totality of the eclipse, the sky will become dark and the stars will become visible. Right next to the eclipse, only 1.5 degrees away, the brightest star in the judgment constellation Leo (the lion), Regulus (treading under foot) reminds us that Christ, the lion of Judah, will put His enemies under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25). Southeast of the eclipse, the planet Mercury, the morning star laid low symbolic of Satan, will appear under the feet of Leo, adding to the warning of judgment.

So is this solar eclipse actually a warning that America should repent?

Many Christian leaders all over the nation believe that this is the case.  In fact, Billy Graham’s own daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, is one of them

In light of Ezekiel 33:1-6 that commands a watchman to be faithful to warn others of the danger coming against the land, I feel compelled to issue the warning once again. The warning is triggered by the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, nicknamed “America’s Eclipse.” For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will be seen from coast to coast in our nation. People are preparing to mark this significant event with viewing parties at exclusive prime sites. The celebratory nature regarding the eclipse brings to my mind the Babylonian King Belshazzar, who threw a drunken feast the night the Medes and Persians crept under the city gate. While Belshazzar and his friends partied, they were oblivious to the impending danger. Belshazzar wound up dead the next day, and the Babylonian empire was destroyed.

I do not know what will happen before, during or after the eclipse, but I do know that America is in very deep trouble.

If we continue on the path that we are currently on, there is no future for our nation.

Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t listening to the warnings.  Most people simply assume that America is far too powerful to ever fall, and they see absolutely no reason why we need to change our ways.

Hopefully we can get America to wake up, because time is rapidly running out.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

This Is The Closest That The U.S. Has Been To Nuclear War Since The Cuban Missile Crisis

Are we on the verge of a nuclear war with North Korea?  It has now been confirmed that North Korea has successfully created a miniaturized nuclear warhead, and last month they tested a missile that can reach at least half of the continental United States.  Since 1994 the U.S. has been trying to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, and every effort to do so has completely failed.  Last September, the North Koreans detonated a nuclear device that was estimated to be in the 20 to 30 kiloton range, and back in January President Trump pledged to stop the North Koreans before they would ever have the capability to deliver such a weapon to U.S. cities.  But now the North Koreans have already achieved that goal, and they plan to ultimately create an entire fleet of ICBMs capable of hitting every city in America.

Right now, North Korea and the Trump administration are locked in a game of nuclear chicken.  Kim Jong Un’s regime is never, ever, ever going to give up their nuclear weapons program, and so that means that either Donald Trump is going to have to back down, find another way to deal with North Korea, or use military force to eliminate their nuclear threat.

And time is quickly running out for Trump to make a decision, because now that North Korea has the ability to produce miniaturized nuclear warheads, the game has completely changed.  The following comes from the Washington Post

North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, U.S. intelligence officials have concluded in a confidential assessment.

The new analysis completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country’s atomic arsenal. The U.S. calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Some independent experts believe the number of bombs is much smaller.

The truth is that nobody actually knows how many nukes North Korea has at this point, and they are pumping out more all the time.

Yes, the Trump administration could order an absolutely devastating military strike on North Korea.  But if the North Koreans even get off one nuke in response, it will be the greatest disaster for humanity since at least World War II.

But at this point Trump doesn’t sound like someone that intends to back down.  In fact, on Tuesday he threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” if they keep threatening us…

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said from the clubhouse at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J. “He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with the fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

In response to Trump’s comments, the North Koreans threatened to hit Guam with a pre-emptive strike…

If Trump thought that his bluff would be sufficient to finally shut up North Korea, and put an end to Kim’s provocative behavior, well… bluff called because North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency reported moments ago that not only did N.Korea escalate the tensions up another notch, but explicitly warned that it could carry out a “pre-emptive operation once the US shows signs of provocation”, and that it is “seriously considering a strategy to strike Guam with mid-to-long range missiles.”

Most Americans appear to be completely oblivious to the seriousness of this crisis.  Once we hit North Korea, they will respond.  A single nuke could potentially kill millions in Tokyo, Japan or Seoul, South Korea.  And the North Koreans also have some of the largest chemical and biological weapons stockpiles on the entire planet.  If things take a bad turn, we could see death and destruction on a scale that is absolutely unprecedented.

And if the North Koreans launch an invasion of South Korea, we will instantly be committed to a new Korean War and thousands upon thousands of our young men and women will be sent over there to fight and die.

There is no possible way that a military conflict with North Korea is going to end well.  If things go badly, millions could die, and if things go really badly tens of millions of people could end up dead.

But members of the Trump administration continue to insist that “a military option” is on the table…

In an interview broadcast Saturday on MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt Show, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the prospect of a North Korea armed with nuclear-tipped ICBMs would be “intolerable, from the president’s perspective.”

“We have to provide all options . . . and that includes a military option,” he said.

Of course letting North Korea construct an entire fleet of ICBMs that could endanger the entire planet is not exactly a palatable option either.  The Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations all kicked the can down the road year after year, and now we facing a nightmare problem that does not appear to have a good solution.

Unfortunately for Trump, time has now run out and a decision has to be made

“Today is the day that we can definitely say North Korea is a nuclear power,” Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, told USA TODAY. “There is no more time to stick our heads in the sand and think we have months or years to confront this challenge.”

Let us pray that a way can be found to derail North Korea’s nuclear program that does not involve us going to war.

Because the moment that U.S. forces start striking North Korea, the North Koreans could literally unleash hell if they are inclined to do so.

It appears that we are now closer to nuclear war than we have been at any point since the Cuban missile crisis.  A nuclear holocaust was avoided back then, and hopefully a way will be found to avoid one now.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Dow Closes At A Record High For The 9th Straight Time But Experts Warn That A Stock Market Crash Could Be Imminent

The bigger they come, the harder they fall.  On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high for the ninth straight session.  It has been a remarkable run, but many experts are pointing out that big trouble is brewing under the surface.  As you will see below, 79 components of the S&P 500 have already dropped more than 20 percent below their 52-week highs, and it is mostly just a handful of high flying tech stocks that are still propping up the market at this point.  Over the past several weeks, I have been documenting so many of the prominent voices that are loudly warning about an imminent stock market crash, and in this article you will hear some more of these warnings.  There is no way that stock prices can keep going up like this, and when the inevitable correction does arrive it is going to be exceedingly painful for millions of investors.

When the market is about to turn in a major way, one of the key things to watch is market breadth, and according to Brad Lamensdorf market breadth has now turned “exceedingly negative”

Market breadth, a measure of how many stocks are rising versus the number that are dropping, has turned “exceedingly negative,” according to Brad Lamensdorf, a portfolio manager at Ranger Alternative Management. Lamensdorf writes the Lamensdorf Market Timing Report newsletter and runs the AdvisorShares Ranger Equity Bear ETF HDGE, -0.70% an exchange-traded fund that “shorts” stocks, or bets that they will fall.

“As the indexes continue to produce a series of higher highs, subsurface conditions are painting an entirely different picture,” Lamensdorf wrote in the latest edition of the newsletter.

When Lamensdorf uses the phrase “exceedingly negative”, he is not exaggerating at all.  As I mentioned above, 79 components of the S&P 500 are already in a bear market

According to an analysis of FactSet data, 79 components of the S&P 500 are trading at least 20% below their 52-week high; a bear market is typically defined as a 20% drop from a peak.

Another key measure that I like to keep my eye on is Robert Shiller’s cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio.  At this point, it is roughly at the same level as it was just before the stock market crash of 1929, and the only time it has been higher was during the peak of the dotcom bubble.

This is why so many investors are making extremely large bets that a major correction is imminent.  History tells us that stocks are likely to only go down from here.  And when stocks do start falling, the price action could become quite violent.  In fact, Barry James is comparing this current market to the Yellowstone supervolcano

Warning: A correction in the market is “inevitable” and there are three key factors that could spark chaos on Wall Street, according to James Advantage Fund president Barry James.

The investor likened the market to Yellowstone National Park’s famous supervolcano, which many believe is close to eruption.

Of course not everyone agrees with James.  Michael Wilson of Morgan Stanley insists that everything is just fine and that “there continues to be a level of skepticism that seems out of whack with what is actually happening”.

In the end, we will see how the coming months play out.

Over the past several years, there have been two primary trends that have been relentlessly driving up stock prices.  One of these trends has been an unprecedented level of stock buybacks.  And so far this year, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of stock buybacks have already been announced

Through May, some $390 billion in buybacks have been announced this year, $13 billion more than at this time in 2016, according to figures compiled by Jeffrey Yale Rubin at Birinyi Associates, a stock market research firm.

June 28 was the biggest single buyback announcement day in history. That was when 26 banks disclosed buybacks worth $92.8 billion, largely a response to having just passed the stress tests administered by the Federal Reserve Board. That figure blew past the previous record of $56.4 billion announced on July 20, 2006.

Secondly, central banks have been pumping trillions upon trillions of dollars into the global financial system, and this has perhaps been the biggest reason for the surge in stock prices.  But now central banks are starting to pull back, and that could mean big trouble very soon.  The following comes from Matt King

With asset prices displaying a high degree of correlation with central bank liquidity additions in recent years, that feedback loop makes the economy, upon which both corporate profitability and bank net interest margins depend, more reliant on central banks holding markets together than almost ever before. That delicate balance may well be sustained for the time being. But with central banks beginning to move, however gingerly, towards an exit, is it really worth chasing the last few bp of spread from here?

Throughout our history we have seen financial bubbles come and go, but we never seen to learn from our mistakes.  Right now, Warren Buffett is sitting on nearly 100 billion dollars in cash in anticipation of being able to buy up financial assets for a song after a crash happens, but meanwhile multitudes of ordinary Americans continue to pour vast quantities of money into stocks even at such absurd valuations.

Despite all of the warnings, many will be caught unprepared when the music stops playing.  Just like all of the other financial manias in our history, this one will come to a bitter end too.  The following comes from the New York Times

In the late 1960s the mania was for the “nifty 50” American companies like Disney and McDonald’s, which had been the “go-go” stocks of that decade. In the late 1970s it was for natural resources, from gold to oil. In the late 1980s it was stocks in Japan, and in the late 1990s it was the dot-com boom. Last decade, investors flocked to mortgage-backed securities and big emerging markets from Brazil to Russia. In every case, many partygoers were still in the market when the crash came.

In life, timing is everything, and those that got out of the market in time are going to end up being very happy that they did so.

But those that stay in too long are going to see their “paper wealth” disappear in a blinding flash, and there won’t be any way to get it back once it is gone.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The U.S. Is Inches From A War With North Korea In Which Millions Could Die

We are just inches away from the outbreak of World War III, and yet most Americans seem completely oblivious to what is happening.  On Friday, North Korea conducted a missile test which proved that it now has the capability of hitting major U.S. cities in the western half of the country.  Every diplomatic effort to end North Korea’s nuclear program has completely failed, the Chinese have shown that they do not intend to do much of anything to intervene in this crisis, and the United Nations is a dead end.  Given enough time, the North Koreans will build hundreds of ICBMs capable of delivering nukes to cities all over America, and the Trump administration has already indicated that they will never accept this.  If no other way can be found to derail North Korea’s nuclear program, President Trump will almost certainly order a military strike, and that could set off a war in which millions could die.

Personally, I am stunned that North Korea’s missile test on Friday didn’t receive more attention from the mainstream media, because the truth is that this was the biggest step toward war on the Korean peninsula since 1953

After North Korea’s missile launch on Friday, the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists shared its fears that the country’s latest weapon had the capacity to reach major US cities.

When it launched the missile on Friday, North Korea aimed it on a high trajectory which allowed the weapon to crash in to the Sea of Japan.

The ground range of the test was 6,500 miles, according to multiple agencies, and it had a flight time of around 47 minutes.

If the missile had been fired at a standard trajectory, it could have easily reached Los Angeles, Denver or Chicago.

In other words, more than half the continental United States is now within range of North Korean missiles…

Preliminary data from the launch reveals that half, if not most, of the continental U.S. would be in range of the missile tested Friday.

“Looks like it pretty much can get to New York, Boston and probably falls just short of Washington,” David Wright, co-director and senior scientist for the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told CNBC.

This is supposed to be a red line for President Trump, and it will be extremely interesting to see how he responds in the days ahead.

On Twitter, Trump sounded like a man that is completely out of patience with North Korea

“Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”

In addition to Trump, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is also indicating that time for diplomatic maneuvering has run out

The time for talk is over. The danger the North Korean regime poses to international peace is now clear to all.”

The Trump administration has already made it very clear that they will not be going to the UN Security Council with this matter because they believe that would be a dead end.

At this point, the available options for dealing with North Korea are narrowing rapidly, and direct military action appears to be gaining favor.  In fact, General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy released a statement on Saturday night warning that the U.S. is ready to use “rapid, lethal and overwhelming force”

The U.S. and its allies are prepared to use “rapid, lethal and overwhelming force,” if necessary, against North Korea, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces warned Saturday night.

The statement from Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, U.S. Pacific Air Forces commander, came after the militaries of the U.S., South Korea and Japan spent 10 hours conducting bomber-jet drills over the Korean Peninsula.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that American citizens are now banned from traveling to North Korea.  That is the kind of action that you would take just prior to a war.

But an attack on North Korea would not be easy.  We don’t even know exactly how many nuclear weapons they actually have, and they are promising to start launching nukes if we choose to strike them…

“If the Yankees . . . dare brandish the nuclear stick on this land again . . . the DPRK will clearly teach them manners with the nuclear strategic force,” the spokesman said.

North Korea is honeycombed with underground tunnels and bunkers.  There is no possible way that we could hit all of their nukes on a first strike, and if the North Koreans even get off a single nuke in response it is going to be an unprecedented disaster.

Could you imagine what would happen if a North Korean nuke hit Tokyo or Seoul?

Even one nuke could kill millions in those densely populated cities, and financial markets all over the world would almost instantly implode.

And North Korea also has some of the largest chemical and biological weapons stockpiles on the entire planet.  Within moments of an attack, thousands of North Korean artillery pieces and rockets would start raining fire on Seoul, and even just a few chemical or biological warheads would cause immense devastation in that city of about 10 million people.

In addition, North Korean forces are poised to invade South Korea at literally any moment, and the only way that South Korea could survive such an invasion would be direct intervention by U.S. forces.

On top of everything else, what if the North Koreans were able to successfully launch a nuke or two toward our major cities?  Or what if they already have the technology to set off an EMP blast high in the atmosphere above the continental United States?  Or what if their agents that are already embedded here start releasing biological agents in our major cities?

These are nightmare scenarios that most Americans never even consider, but they would be very real possibilities in the event that we go to war with North Korea.

I just don’t see how a direct military conflict with North Korea could possibly end well.  For those that still doubt this, please consider the words of General Mark Milley

“A war in the Korean Peninsula would be highly deadly. It would be horrific,” warned Gen. Milley. “The United States military along with the South Korean military would utterly destroy the North Korean military — but that would be done at high cost.”

“But we are at a point in time where tough choices will have to be made,” he continued. “We are going to have to make conscious decisions that are going to have significant consequences and I will just stop there. It’s not going to be a pretty picture — I can tell you that. It’s going to be very violent.

A war with North Korea would be the most disastrous event for our planet since World War II, and it is something that we want to avoid at all costs.

Unfortunately, events are moving us in the direction of such a war very rapidly now, and it is very difficult to see how we are going to avoid such a scenario.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

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.