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.
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.
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.
Over 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?…
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.
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.*
One 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…
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.*
How much is 1,000,000,000,000,000 yen worth? Well, a quadrillion yen is worth approximately 10.5 trillion dollars. It is an amount of money that is larger than the “the economies of Germany, France and the U.K. combined“. It is such an astounding amount of debt that it is hard to even get your mind around it. The government debt to GDP ratio in Japan will reach 247 percent this year, and the Japanese currently spend about 50 percent of all central government tax revenue on debt service. Realistically, there are only two ways out of this overwhelming debt trap for the Japanese. Either they default or they try to inflate the debt away. At this point, the Japanese have chosen to try to inflate the debt away. They have initiated the greatest quantitative easing experiment that a major industrialized nation has attempted since the days of the Weimar Republic. Over the next two years, the Bank of Japan plans to zap 60 trillion yen into existence out of thin air and use it to buy government bonds. By the time this program is over, the monetary base in Japan will have approximately doubled. But authorities in Japan are desperate. They know that the Japanese debt bomb could set off global panic at any time, and they are trying to find a way out that will not cause too much pain.
Unfortunately, the only way that this bizarre quantitative easing program will work is if investors in Japanese bonds act very, very irrationally. You see, the only way that Japan has been able to pile up this much debt in the first place is because they have been able to borrow gigantic piles of money at super low interest rates.
Right now, the yield on 10 year Japanese bonds is sitting at an absurdly low 0.76%. But even with such ridiculously low interest rates, the central government of Japan is still spending about half of all tax revenue on debt service.
If interest rates go up, the game is over.
But now that the Japanese government has announced that it plans to double the monetary base, it would be extremely irrational for investors not to demand higher rates on Japanese government debt. After all, why would you want to loan money to the Japanese government for less than one percent a year when the purchasing power of your money could potentially be halved over the next two years?
Amazingly, this is exactly what the Japanese government is counting on. They are counting on being able to wildly print up money and monetize debt, but also keep yields on Japanese bonds at insanely low levels at the same time.
For the moment, it is actually working. Investors in Japanese bonds are behaving very, very irrationally.
But if that changes at some point, we could potentially be looking at the greatest Asian economic crisis of all time.
And there are some very sharp minds out there that believe that is exactly what is going to happen.
For example, the founder of Hayman Capital Management, Kyle Bass, has been sounding the alarm about Japan for a long time. He correctly predicted the subprime mortgage meltdown, and in the process he made hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients. Now he believes that the next major crash is going to be in Japan.
According to Bass, the bond bubble in Japan is so large that once it begins to implode fear is going to start spreading like wildfire…
Remember, Japanese banks in general have 900% of their tangible assets invested in JGBs that are the most negatively convex instrument you can put into a portfolio. Assume for instance that a bank holds a 10 year bond yielding 80 basis points. A 100 basis point move will cost the JGB investor about 10 years of expected interest payments.
Think about the psychology of all the players and financial implications if rates do move 100 basis points. Think about the solvency of a nation which currently spends 50% of its central government tax revenues on debt service, half of which earns the lowest yields of any country in the world.
You can’t look at this as a simple question. You need to think about this as a multivariate equation. You have to think about the incentives and the fears of all the participants. And you need to think about the fiscal sustainability of the government.
If rates even rise by a full percentage point, it could start a stampede toward the exits that nobody in the entire world would be able to control…
I ran a survey of 1,009 Japanese investors where we asked: “If rates were to move up 100 basis points, would that engender more confidence and make you want to buy more JGBs?” or, “Would you take your money elsewhere, even if it were hamstringing your government’s ability to operate?” 8 – 9% of respondents that said that they would buy more bonds and almost 80% said they would run, not walk the other way.
For much more on this, you can watch a video of Kyle Bass discussing why Japan is doomed right here.
And of course Japan is not the only “debt bomb” that could potentially go off over in Asia. As I mentioned in another article, the major problem over in China is the level of private debt…
In China, the big problem is the absolutely stunning growth of private domestic debt. According to a recent World Bank report, the total amount of credit in China has risen from 9 trillion dollars in 2008 to 23 trillion dollars today.
That increase is roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. commercial banking system.
There is simply way, way too much debt in our world today. Never before has there been so much red ink all over the planet at the same time.
Many in the mainstream media insist that this party can go on indefinitely.
But that is what they said about the housing bubble too.
Sadly, the truth is that every financial bubble eventually bursts, and this global debt bubble will be no exception.
I hope that you are getting prepared while you still can.
This is no time to be complacent. Massive economic problems are erupting all over the globe, but most people seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing. Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer. Just look at what is happening in Europe. The eurozone is now in the midst of the longest recession that it has ever experienced. Just look at what is happening over in Asia. Economic growth in India is the lowest that it has been in a decade and the Japanese financial system is beginning to spin wildly out of control. One of the only places on the entire planet where serious economic problems have not already erupted is in the United States, and that is only because we have “kicked the can down the road” by recklessly printing money and by borrowing money at an unprecedented rate. Unfortunately, the “sugar high” produced by those foolish measures is starting to wear off. We are going to experience a massive amount of economic pain along with the rest of the world – it is just a matter of time.
But for the moment, there are a lot of skeptics out there.
For the moment, there are a lot of people that are declaring that the problems of the past have been fixed and that we are heading for incredibly bright economic times ahead.
Unfortunately, those people appear to be purposely ignoring the economic horror that is breaking out all over the globe.
The following are 18 signs that massive economic problems are erupting all over the planet…
#1 The eurozone is now in the midst of its longest recession ever. Economic activity in the eurozone has declined for six quarters in a row.
“I’ve sent CVs everywhere, I come to the unemployment agency every day, for 3 or 4 hours to look for work as a truck driver and there’s never anything,” said 42-year old Djamel Sami, who has been unemployed for a year, leaving a job agency in Paris.
#7 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.2 percent.
#8 Youth unemployment continues to soar to unprecedented heights in Europe. The following is from an article that was recently posted on the website of the Guardian that detailed how bad things are getting in some of the worst countries…
In Greece, 62.5% of young people are out of work, in Spain it’s 56.4%, then Portugal with 42.5%, and then Italy with 40.5%.
#9 Youth unemployment is being partially blamed for the worst rioting that Sweden has seen in many years. The following is how the Daily Mail described the riots…
Sweden is reeling after a third night of rioting in largely run-down immigrant areas of the capital Stockholm.
In the last 48 hours violence has spread to at least ten suburbs with mobs of youths torching hundreds of cars and clashing with police.
It is Sweden’s worst disorder in years and has shocked the country and provoked a debate on how Sweden is coping with youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.
#10 An astounding 10 percent of all banking deposits were pulled out of banks in Cyprus during the month of April alone.
#12 Suddenly Australia is experiencing some tremendous economic challenges. The following quotes are from a recent Zero Hedge article…
-“We’re seeing a much sharper contraction in the Australian economy than we’d anticipated four or five months ago”. Coffey MD, John Douglas. The engineering group has seen its shares, which traded above $4 in 2007, hit 10c last week.
-“By 10am, the Fitness First gym in the city is packed full of brokers who’ve had a gutful of sitting at their desk doing nothing – salary cuts are starting and next it will be jobs” Perth broker
-“Oh mate, the funding market is dead. You are now seeing a few deeply discounted rights issues for those that are reaching desperate levels ….. liquidity has completely disappeared” Perth broker
#13 The financial system in Japan is beginning to spin wildly out of control. The Japanese stock market has now declined about 15 percent from the peak, and many believe that the yen will continue to get weaker and that interest rates in Japan will start to rise significantly.
#14 Global cash flow is declining at a rate not seen since the last recession. This indicates that we could be headed for a global credit crunch.
#15 Real wages continue to decline in the United States. Even though we are being told that the U.S. is experiencing an “economy recovery”, real weekly earnings have declined from $297.79 in 2010 to $295.49 in 2011 to $294.83 in 2012. (The preceding calculation is based on 1982-1984 dollars)
#16 Wall Street is buzzing about the fact that “the Hindenburg Omen” appeared at the end of last week. So exactly what is “the Hindenburg Omen”? The following are the criteria that are used to determine whether it has appeared or not…
1. The daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day.
2. The smaller of these numbers is greater than or equal to 69 (68.772 is 2.2% of 3126). This is not a rule but more like a checksum. This condition is a function of the 2.2% of the total issues.
3. That the NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.
4. That the McClellan Oscillator ( a market breadth indicator used to evaluate the rate of money entering or leaving the market and interpretively indicate overbought or oversold conditions of the market)is negative on that same day.
5. That new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week Lows (however it is fine for new 52 Week Lows to be more than double new 52 Week Highs).
When the Hindenburg Omen makes an appearance, it supposedly means that the U.S. stock market is likely to experience a serious decline within the next 40 days.
#17 As I wrote about the other day, the SentimenTrader Smart/Dumb Money Index is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years. That means that lots of “smart money” has been getting out of the market and lots of “dumb money” has been pouring in.
#18 Margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange has set a new all-time high. The following is from a recent Market Oracle article…
Margin debt—that’s the amount of money borrowed to purchase stocks—on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) reached its all-time high in April. Margin debt on the NYSE registered at $384.3 billion as the key stock indices hit new record-highs. (Source: New York Stock Exchange web site, last accessed May 29, 2013.) The highest margin debt ever reached prior to this was in July of 2007, when it stood just above $381.0 billion. At that time, just like today, the key stock indices were near their peaks and “buy now before it’s too late” was the prominent theme of the day
Whenever margin debt spikes like this, a stock market crash almost always follows. If you doubt this, just check out the chart in this article.
Wall Street has had a good couple of years, but it has been a “false prosperity” that has been pumped up by reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve. Just like all of the other stock market bubbles that we have seen in recent years, this one is going to burst too. And as Marc Faber recently pointed out, this bubble has been particularly beneficial to the wealthy…
The Fed has been flooding the system with money. The problem is the money doesn’t flow into the system evenly. It doesn’t increase economic activity and asset prices in concert. Instead, it creates dangerous excesses in countries and asset classes. Money-printing fueled the colossal stock-market bubble of 1999-2000, when the Nasdaq more than doubled, becoming disconnected from economic reality. It fueled the housing bubble, which burst in 2008, and the commodities bubble. Now money is flowing into the high-end asset market – things like stocks, bonds, art, wine, jewelry, and luxury real estate.
Money-printing boosts the economy of the people closest to the money flow. But it doesn’t help the worker in Detroit, or the vast majority of the middle class. It leads to a widening wealth gap. The majority loses, and the minority wins.
The fact that the U.S. stock market has set new all-time record high after new all-time record high in recent months means very little. At this point, the stock market has become completely divorced from economic reality. When this current bubble bursts, the adjustment is going to be very painful. Wall Street will likely whine and complain and ask for more bailouts, but they may find that authorities are not nearly as sympathetic this time.
Much of the rest of the world is already experiencing the next major wave of the economic collapse. Reckless money printing by the Fed and reckless borrowing and spending by the federal government may have delayed the inevitable in the United States for a little while, but those measures have also made our long-term problems even worse.
There was one piece of advice that Ben Bernanke included in his commencement speech to students at Princeton recently that I thought was particularly ironic…
“Don’t be afraid to let the drama play out.”
Will he take his own advice when the next great financial crisis strikes the United States?
That seems very unlikely.
Unfortunately, things are not going to be so easy to fix this next time.
What happened back in 2008 was just a preview.
What is coming next is going to absolutely shock the world.
The financial system of the third largest economy on the planet is starting to come apart at the seams, and the ripple effects are going to be felt all over the globe. Nobody knew exactly when the Japanese financial system was going to begin to implode, but pretty much everyone knew that a day of reckoning for Japan was coming eventually. After all, the Japanese economy has been in a slump for over a decade, Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of well over 200 percent and they are spending about 50 percent of all tax revenue on debt service. In a desperate attempt to revitalize the economy and reduce the debt burden, the Bank of Japan decided a few months ago to start pumping massive amounts of money into the economy. At first, it seemed to be working. Economic activity perked up and the Japanese stock market went on a tremendous run. Unfortunately, there is also a very significant downside to pumping your economy full of money. Investors start demanding higher returns on their money and interest rates go up. But the Japanese government cannot afford higher interest rates. Without super low interest rates, Japanese government finances would totally collapse. In addition, higher interest rates in the private sector would make it much more difficult for the Japanese economy to expand. In essence, pretty much the last thing that Japan needs right now is significantly higher interest rates, but that is exactly what the policies of the Bank of Japan are going to produce.
There is a lot of fear in Japan right now. On Thursday, the Nikkei plunged 7.3 percent. That was the largest single day decline in more than two years. Then on Monday the index fell by another 3.2 percent.
And according to Business Insider, things are not looking good for Tuesday at this point…
Are we witnessing the beginning of a colossal financial meltdown by the third largest economy on the planet? The Bank of Japan is starting to lose control, and if Japan goes down hard the crisis could spread to Europe and North America very rapidly. The following is from a recent article by Graham Summers…
As Japan has indicated, when bonds start to plunge, it’s not good for stocks. Today the Japanese Bond market fell and the Nikkei plunged 7%. The entire market down 7%… despite the Bank of Japan funneling $19 billion into it to hold things together.
This is what it looks like when a Central Bank begins to lose control. And what’s happening in Japan today will be coming to the US in the not so distant future.
If you think the Fed is not terrified of this, think again. The Fed has pumped over $1 trillion into foreign banks, hoping to stop the mess from getting to the US. As Japan is showing us, the Fed will fail.
Investors, take note… the financial system is sending us major warnings…
If you are not already preparing for a potential market collapse, now is the time to be doing so.
And all of this money printing is absolutely crushing the Japanese yen. Since the start of 2013, the yen has declined 16 percent against the U.S. dollar, even though the U.S. dollar is also being rapidly debased. Just check out this chart of the yen vs. the U.S. dollar. It is absolutely stunning…
The term “currency war” is something that you are going to hear a lot more over the next few years, and what you can see in the chart above is only the beginning.
What the Bank of Japan is doing right now is absolutely unprecedented. It has announced that it plans to inject the equivalent of approximately $1.4 trillion into the Japanese economy in less than two years.
“What they’re doing represents 70% of what the Fed is doing here with an economy 1/3 the size of ours”
The big problem for Japan will come when government bond yields really start to rise. The yield on 10 year government bonds has been creeping up over the past few months, and if they hit the 1.0% mark that will set off some major red flags.
Because Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of more than 200 percent, the only way that it can avoid a total meltdown of government finances is to have super low interest rates. The video posted below does a great job of elaborating on this point…
It really is very simple. If interest rates rise substantially, Japan will be done.
Investor Kyle Bass is one of those that have been warning about this for a long time…
There’s a fatalism, he says, in everyone he talks to in Japan. Their thinking is changing, and the way they talk to him about debt is changing. They already spend 50% of tax revenue on debt service.
“If rates go up, it’s game over.”
The financial problems in Cyprus and Greece are just tiny blips compared to what a major financial crisis in Japan would potentially be like. The Japanese economy is larger than the economies of Germany and Italy combined. If the house of cards in Japan comes tumbling down, trillions of dollars of investments all over the globe are going to be affected.
And what is happening right now in Japan should serve as a sober warning to the United States. Like Japan, the money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing has caused economic activity to perk up a bit and it has sent the stock market on an unprecedented run.
Unfortunately, no bubble that the Federal Reserve has ever created has been able to last forever. At some point, we will pay a very great price for all of the debt that the U.S. government has been accumulating and all of the reckless money printing that the Fed has been engaged in.
So enjoy the calm before the storm while you still can.
The entire world is in a state of mourning today as details regarding the horrific damage caused by the massive tsunami in Japan continue to trickle in. The magnitude 8.9 earthquake that caused the tsunami was the largest earthquake that Japan has ever experienced in modern times. Waves as high as 30 feet swept over northern Japan. The tsunami waters reached as far as 6 miles inland, and authorities have already recovered hundreds of dead bodies. Those of us that have seen footage of this disaster on television will never forget it. But this nightmare is not over yet. There have been dozens of aftershocks, and many of them have been quite large. In fact, there have been 19 earthquakes of at least magnitude 6.0 in the area over the last 24 hours. So what is this disaster going to do to the 3rd largest economy in the world? Japan already had a national debt that was well over 200 percent of GDP. Could this be the “tipping point” that pushes the Japanese economy over the edge and into oblivion?
It is hard to assess the full scope of the damage to Japan at this point, but virtually everyone agrees that much of northern Japan is a complete and total disaster area at this point. Many towns have essentially been destroyed. Some are estimating that the economic damage from this disaster will be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Others believe that the final total will be in the trillions of dollars.
Fortunately, major cities such as Tokyo came through this event relatively unscathed and most of the major manufacturing facilities are not in the areas that were most directly affected by the earthquake and the tsunami.
But let there be no doubt, this was a nation-changing event. Japan will never quite be the same again.
Also, it isn’t just Japan that will be affected by this. The truth is that economic ripples from this event will be felt all over the world.
An economist from High Frequency Economics, Carl Weinberg, told AFP the following about the economic consequences of this disaster….
“There is no way to assess even the direct damage to Japan’s economy or to the global economy. This is a sad day for Japan, and economic aftershocks could affect the whole world’s economy.”
It is literally going to take months to figure out exactly how much damage has been done. Let us just hope that we don’t see any more major earthquakes in the area.
The Japanese are a very resilient people and the Bank of Japan is already vowing that it will be doing whatever is necessary to ensure the stability of the financial markets. The Bank of Japan has announced that it is going to provide as much liquidity as necessary to keep the Japanese economy functioning normally.
But the truth is that the Bank of Japan has already been printing money like crazy….
Is a tsunami of new yen really going to solve the economic damage that has been done by the earthquake and the tsunami?
Of course not.
The truth is that the economy of Japan was already deeply struggling before this disaster.
The national debt of Japan is now well over 200% of GDP and there seems to be no doubt that they will need to borrow massive amounts of money to deal with the aftermath of this crisis.
But in light of what has just happened, will the citizens of Japan still have enough resources to continue to fund the rampant spending of the Japanese government?
At this point, it is estimated that this gigantic mountain of debt breaks down to 7.5 million yen for every single citizen of Japan.
Politicians in Japan have been pledging for years to do something about all of this debt, but nobody has been able to make much progress.
Even before this disaster, the major credit rating agencies were warning that they may have to downgrade Japanese government debt. The earthquake and the tsunami are certainly not going to make the Japanese even more credit-worthy.
“It’s hard to predict when the bond market might collapse, but it would happen when the market judges that Japan’s ability to finance its debt is not sustainable anymore.”
Is the massive tsunami that just hit Japan such a tipping point?
Other countries such as Greece and Ireland would have already collapsed if it had not been for the massive international bailouts that they received.
So who is going to bail Japan out?
This could potentially be one of the greatest economic disasters that the world has seen since World War 2.
With the world already on the verge of a major financial collapse, this is the last thing that world financial markets needed.
In fact, much of the rest of the world had been hoping that an influx of capital from Japan would help to stabilize things.
For example, Japanese insurance companies had recently announced that they were planning on buying up lots of European sovereign debt, but now obviously those plans are on hold. As a result of this disaster, Japanese insurance companies will be forced to sell off assets like crazy in order to pay settlements. But as Zero Hedge is correctly pointing out, without Japanese financial institutions stepping in to soak up Eurozone bonds this is going to make the European sovereign debt crisis even worse.
But right now the focus in on the devastation in Japan. At the moment it is unclear how much of the economic infrastructure of Japan has survived.
Toyota’s phone calls to its plants in affected areas were not being answered, said Shiori Hashimoto, a spokeswoman in Tokyo. The Toyota City-based carmaker began production at a new plant in Miyagi this year that makes Yaris compact cars and has capacity to make 120,000 vehicles a year.
What is clear is that the cost of recovering and rebuilding after this disaster is going to put extraordinary financial stress on the Japanese government.