That Escalated Quickly: The Emerging Market Currency Crisis Of 2018 Threatens To Destabilize The Entire Global Financial System

We haven’t seen emerging market currencies crash like this in over a decade, and analysts are warning that if this continues we could witness a devastating global debt crisis.  Over the past decade, there has been an insatiable appetite for cheap loans in emerging market economies, and a very substantial percentage of those loans were denominated in U.S. dollars.  When emerging market currencies crash relative to the U.S. dollar, lending dries up and servicing the existing loans becomes extremely oppressive, and that is precisely what we are witnessing right now.  This week, most of the top headlines in the financial media have been about the crisis in Turkey.  The Turkish lira fell another 8 percent against the U.S. dollar on Monday, and it is now down about 35 percent over the past week.  Overall, the lira has fallen 82 percent against the U.S. dollar in 2018, and this is putting an enormous amount of stress on the Turkish financial system

“It is about credit, since Turkey has been a huge borrower in global capital markets over the past number of years when the world’s central banks were encouraging investors to stretch for yield,” David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff, said in his daily market note. “Over half of the borrowing is denominated in foreign currencies, so when the lira sinks, debt-servicing costs and default risks rise inexorably.”

Turkey’s economy, just like all of the other major economies around the world, is utterly dependent on the flow of credit, and now lending is becoming greatly restricted.

Meanwhile, any existing loans that were made during the lending spree of the past decade that are denominated in foreign currencies are going to be causing major problems.  The following comes from CNBC

The lending spree has created two potential problems, according to Capital Economics. One is that Turkish banks looked to foreign wholesale markets as a way to fund the credit boom, instead of relying on more steady domestic deposits.

Now, the expense of servicing those loans has jumped with the lira’s decline, and they will be much more difficult for banks to roll over. The second risk is the possible sharp rise in nonperforming loans, including those made in foreign currencies, mostly to businesses.

Many of my American readers may be wondering why they should be concerned about what is going on in Turkey.

Well, the fear is that “what happens in Turkey won’t stay in Turkey”, and it isn’t just Turkey that we are talking about.  Similar scenarios are playing out in emerging markets all over the planet, and one of the most dramatic examples is Argentina.

The Argentine peso has lost 8 percent against the U.S. dollar over the last three trading days, and overall it is down about 33 percent over the past four months.

In a desperate attempt to restore confidence in the currency, the central bank raised the core interest rate 5 entire percentage points on Monday to an eye-popping 45 percent

Argentina took emergency steps to stabilize its currency in the wake of an emerging-market rout caused by Turkey’s crisis, jacking up its already highest-in-the-world interest rate by 5 percentage points and announcing it will sell $500 million to support the peso.

Policy makers set the rate for seven-day notes at a record 45 percent and pledged to keep it at that level at least until October. The central bank also said it plans to phase out 1 trillion pesos ($33.2 billion) of short-term notes by December in an effort to limit the currency volatility that often popped up when the securities were rolled over. And the bank also changed a system for dollar auctions to make them harder for traders to anticipate.

And this wasn’t the first time that the central bank has made such a dramatic move.

In fact, this was the fourth enormous rate hike that we have seen since April 27th.

The IMF has promised to intervene in Argentina with a 50 billion dollar bailout, but that may not be nearly enough.

Meanwhile, let’s not forget the complete and utter disaster that Venezuela has become.  According to the IMF, the inflation rate in that country is projected to hit one million percent this year…

A top U.N. official is warning that Venezuela is on the verge of turning into an “absolute disaster of unprecedented proportions.” And now, what was once Latin America’s richest nation is about to ravaged by hyperinflation.

Life for most people in Venezuela is already terrible, so it might be hard to believe that it is about to get even worse, but it is.

One million percent. That’s the inflation rate the International Monetary Fund predicts Venezuela will hit this year.

Yes, it is true that Venezuela has been a basket case for some time, but things are getting a lot worse.  People are starving, the entire economy is disintegrating, and chaos reigns in the streets.

And we must remember that Venezuela was once one of the wealthiest nations on the entire globe.

Will similar scenes soon be playing out in other emerging markets as this new debt crisis deepens?

In addition to Turkey and Argentina, currencies are also crashing in South Africa, Colombia, India, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and a very long list of other prominent nations.

If order is not restored to the currency markets, we are going to see an international debt crisis of unprecedented size and scope.

So keep a close eye on the foreign exchange markets over the next few days.  If emerging market currencies keep crashing, events are going to begin to escalate very, very rapidly.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Next Subprime Crisis Is Here: 12 Signs That A Day Of Reckoning Has Arrived For The U.S. Auto Industry

In 2008, subprime mortgages almost single-handedly took down the entire financial system, and now a new subprime crisis is here.  In recent years, the auto industry has been able to boost sales by aggressively pushing people into auto loans that they cannot afford.  In particular, auto loans made to consumers with subprime credit have been accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of the market.  Unfortunately, when you make loans to people that should not be getting them, eventually a lot of those loans are going to start to go bad, and that is precisely what is happening now.  Meanwhile, automakers and dealers are starting to panic as sales have begun to fall and used car prices have started to crash.  If you work in the auto industry, you might remember how horrible the last recession was, and this new downturn could eventually turn out to be even worse.  The following are 12 signs that a day of reckoning has arrived for the U.S. auto industry…

#1 Seven out of the eight largest automakers in the United States fell short of their sales projections in March.

#2 Overall, U.S. auto sales so far in 2017 have been described as a “disaster” despite record spending on consumer incentives by automakers.

#3 Dealer inventories are now at the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis.  Why this is so troubling is because there are a whole lot of unsold vehicles just sitting there doing nothing, and this is becoming a major financial problem for many dealers.

#4 It now takes an average of 74 days before a dealer is able to sell a new vehicle.  This number is also the highest that it has been since the last financial crisis.

#5 Not only is Ford projecting that sales will fall this year, they are also projecting that sales will fall in 2018 as well.

#6 Used vehicle prices are already starting to decline dramatically

The used-vehicle price index from the National Automobile Dealers Association posted a 3.8% decline in February compared to the prior month. NADA also said wholesale prices fell 1.6%.

#7 As I discussed yesterday, Morgan Stanley is projecting that used car prices “could crash by up to 50%” over the next four or five years.

#8 Right now, more than a million Americans are behind on their payments on their auto loans.  This is something that has not happened since the last financial crisis.

#9 In 2017, U.S. consumers are more “underwater” on their auto loans than they have ever been before.

#10 Subprime auto loan losses have soared to their highest level since the last financial crisis, and the delinquency rate on those loans has risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis.  By now, I am sure that you are starting to notice a pattern in these data points.

#11 At this moment, approximately $200,000,000,000 has been loaned out by auto lenders to consumers with subprime credit.

#12 Just like with subprime mortgages in the run up to the last financial crisis, subprime auto loans have been bundled together and sold as “securities” to investors.  And just like last time around, this has turned out to be a recipe for disaster

Many auto loans, including those considered subprime, are securitized and sold to investors. But Morgan Stanley recently reported that the share of auto securities tied to “deep subprime” loans – those given to borrowers with a FICO credit score below 550 — has risen from 5.1 percent in 2010 to 32.5 percent today. It said defaults on those bonds have risen significantly in the past five years.

Almost a quarter of the more than $1.1 trillion in U.S. auto loan debt is owed by subprime borrowers, and delinquency rates have hit their highest point in seven years.

In the old days, you could always count on the U.S. auto industry to bounce back eventually because of the economic strength of average U.S. consumers.

Unfortunately, the middle class in America is being systematically hollowed out by long-term economic trends that our leaders in Washington D.C. have consistently ignored.

We have become a nation of economic extremes.  There are more millionaires in this country than ever before, but meanwhile poverty is exploding in communities all over the country.

If you live in a prosperous area, things may be going great where you live for the moment.  But as Gallup has discovered, an all-time record high percentage of Americans are worrying “a great deal” about hunger and homelessness these days…

Over the past two years, an average of 67% of lower-income U.S. adults, up from 51% from 2010-2011, have worried “a great deal” about the problem of hunger and homelessness in the country. Concern has also increased among middle- and upper-income Americans, but they still worry far less than do lower-income Americans.

You may have plenty of money in your bank account, and so for you hunger and homelessness are not very big issues.  But for those that are just scraping by from month to month, having enough food and a place to sleep at night are top priorities.  Here is more from Gallup

Americans at all income levels are expressing greater concern about hunger and homelessness, and it is the top worry among lower-income Americans, who are most likely to struggle to pay for adequate food and housing.

In addition to the woes of the auto industry, the retail industry is going through the worst wave of store closings in modern American history, pension funds are melting down all over the nation, and stocks are primed for a crash of epic proportions.  Things are lining up just right for the kind of scenario that I laid out in The Beginning Of The End, but unfortunately most people are not listening to the warnings.

The same thing happened just before the great financial crisis of 2008.  All of the warning signs were there well in advance, and many of the experts were warning about what was coming as early as 2005.  But because it did not happen immediately, a lot of people greatly mocked the warnings.

But then the fall of 2008 arrived and all of the mockers suddenly went silent.

As you can see from the numbers that I shared above, a new crisis has already arrived.

The only question now is how bad it will ultimately turn out to be.

As always, let us hope for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst.

Rotting, Decaying And Bankrupt – If You Want To See The Future Of America Just Look At Detroit

The Future Of The United States - Photo by Albert DuceEventually the money runs out.  Much of America was shocked when the city of Detroit defaulted on a $39.7 million debt payment and announced that it was suspending payments on $2.5 billion of unsecured debt, but those who visit my site on a regular basis were probably not too surprised.  Anyone with half a brain and a calculator could see this coming from a mile away.  But people kept foolishly lending money to the city of Detroit, and now many of them are going to get hit really hard.  Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has submitted a proposal that would pay unsecured creditors about 10 cents on the dollar.  Similar haircuts would be made to underfunded pension and health benefits for retirees.  Orr is hoping that the creditors and the unions that he will be negotiating with will accept this package, but he concedes that there is still a “50-50 chance” that the city of Detroit will be forced to formally file for bankruptcy.  But what Detroit is facing is not really that unique.  In fact, Detroit is a perfect example of what the future of America is going to look like.  We live in a nation that is rotting, decaying, drowning in debt and racing toward insolvency.  Already there are dozens of other cities across the nation that are poverty-ridden, crime-infested hellholes just like Detroit is, and hundreds of other communities are rapidly heading in that direction.  So don’t look down on Detroit.  They just got there before the rest of us.

The following are some facts about Detroit that are absolutely mind-blowing…

1 – Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, and in 1960 Detroit had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.

2 – Over the past 60 years, the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent.

3 – At this point, approximately 40 percent of all the streetlights in the city don’t work.

4 – Some ambulances in the city of Detroit have been used for so long that they have more than 250,000 miles on them.

5 – 210 of the 317 public parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down.

6 – According to the New York Times, there are now approximately 70,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit.

7 – Approximately one-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.

8Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.

9 – If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

10 – According to one very shocking report, 47 percent of the residents of Detroit are functionally illiterate.

11 – Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.

12 – Ten years ago, there were approximately 5,000 police officers in the city of Detroit.  Today, there are only about 2,500 and another 100 are scheduled to be eliminated from the force soon.

13 – Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.

14 – The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.

15 – Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to “enter Detroit at your own risk“.

16 – Right now, the city of Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.  That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.

As Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr noted last week, it took a very long time for Detroit to get into this condition…

“What the average Detroiter needs to understand is that where we are right now is a culmination of years and years and years of kicking the can down the road,” said Orr, adding that his proposal should not be seen as a “hostile act” but as a step in the right direction.

Does that sound familiar?

It should.

U.S. politicians have also been kicking the can down the road for “years and years and years”.

But eventually you can’t kick the can down the road anymore.

Sometimes it is helpful to step back and look at what we have done to ourselves over the past several decades.

For example, back in 1980 the U.S. national debt was less than one trillion dollars.  Today, it is rapidly approaching 17 trillion dollars.

And our debt binge has greatly accelerated under Barack Obama.

During Barack Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

Isn’t that insane?

In fact, if you started paying off just the new debt that the U.S. has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.

The following are a lot more facts about our exploding national debt from one of my previous articles entitled “55 Facts About The Debt And U.S. Government Finances That Every American Voter Should Know“…

#1 While Barack Obama has been president, the U.S. government has spent about 11 dollars for every 7 dollars of revenue that it has actually brought in.

#2 During the fiscal year that just ended, the U.S. government took in 2.449 trillion dollars but it spent 3.538 trillion dollars.

#3 During fiscal year 2011, over a trillion dollars of government money was spent on 83 different welfare programs, and those numbers do not even include Social Security or Medicare.

#4 Over the past four years, welfare spending has increased by 32 percent.  In inflation-adjusted dollars, spending on those programs has risen by 378 percent over the past 30 years.  At this point, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  Once again, these figures do not even include Social Security or Medicare.

#5 Over the past year, the number of Americans getting a free cell phone from the federal government has grown by 43 percent.  Now more than 16 million Americans are enjoying what has come to be known as an “Obamaphone”.

#6 When Barack Obama first entered the White House, about 32 million Americans were on food stamps.  Now, 47 million Americans are on food stamps.  And this has happened during what Obama refers to as “an economic recovery”.

#7 The U.S. government recently spent 27 million dollars on pottery classes in Morocco.

#8 The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently spent $300,000 to encourage Americans to eat caviar at a time when more families than ever are having a really hard time just trying to put any food on the table at all.

#9 During 2012, the National Science Foundation spent $516,000 to support the creation of a video game called “Prom Week”, which apparently simulates “all the social interactions of the event.

#10 The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the largest snack food maker in the world (PepsiCo Inc.) a total of 1.3 million dollars in corporate welfare that was used to help build “a Greek yogurt factory in New York.

#11 The National Science Foundation recently gave researchers at Purdue University $350,000.  They used part of that money to help fund a study that discovered that if golfers imagine that a hole is bigger it will help them with their putting.

#12 If you can believe it, $10,000 from the federal government was actually used to purchase talking urinal cakes up in Michigan.

#13 The National Science Foundation recently gave a whopping $697,177 to a New York City-based theater company to produce a musical about climate change.

#14 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $666,905 to a group of researchers that is studying the benefits of watching reruns on television.

#15 The National Science Foundation has given 1.2 million dollars to a team of “scientists” that is spending part of that money on a study that is seeking to determine whether elderly Americans would benefit from playing World of Warcraft or not.

#16 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $548,731 to a team of researchers that concluded that those that drink heavily in their thirties also tend to feel more immature.

#17 The National Science Foundation recently spent $30,000 on a study to determine if “gaydar” actually exists.  This is the conclusion that the researchers reached at the end of the study…

“Gaydar is indeed real and… its accuracy is driven by sensitivity to individual facial features”

#18 Back in 2011, the National Institutes of Health spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.

#19 The U.S. government spends more on the military than China, Russia, Japan, India, and the rest of NATO combined.  In fact, the United States accounts for 41.0% of all military spending on the planet.  China is next with only 8.2%.

#20 In a previous article, I noted that close to 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.

#21 In 2006, only 12 percent of all federal workers made $100,000 or more per year.  Now, approximately 22 percent of all federal workers do.

#22 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.

#23 During 2010, the average federal employee in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.

#24 The U.S. Department of Defense had just nine civilians earning $170,000 or more back in 2005.  When Barack Obama became president, the U.S. Department of Defense had 214 civilians earning $170,000 or more.  By June 2010, the U.S. Department of Defense had 994 civilians earning $170,000 or more.

#25 During 2010, compensation for federal employees came to a grand total of approximately 447 billion dollars.

#26 If you can believe it, close to 15,000 retired federal employees are currently collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  That list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

#27 During 2010, the federal government spent $33,387 on the hair care needs of U.S. Senators.

#28 During 2010, U.S. Senators pulled $72,370 out of the “Senate Restaurant Fund”.

#29 During 2010, an average of $4,005,900 of U.S. taxpayer money was spent on “personal” and “office” expenses per Senator.

#30 In 2013, 3.7 million dollars will be spent to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

#31 During 2011, the federal government spent a total of 1.4 BILLION dollars just on the Obamas.

#32 When you combine all federal government spending, all state government spending and all local government spending, it comes to approximately 41 percent of U.S. GDP.  But don’t worry, all of our politicians insist that this is not socialism.

#33 As I have written about previously, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government back in 1983.  Today, that number is sitting at an all-time high of 49 percent.

#34 Back in 1990, the federal government accounted for just 32 percent of all health care spending in America.  This year, it is being projected that the federal government will account for more than 50 percent of all health care spending in the United States.

#35 The number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#36 In one of my previous articles, I discussed how it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

#37 If you can believe it, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

#38 In the United States today, more than 61 million Americans receive some form of Social Security benefits.  By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.

#39 Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

#40 When Barack Obama first took office, the U.S. national debt was about 10.6 trillion dollars.  Now it is about 16.7 trillion dollars.  That is an increase of 6.1 trillion dollars in a little more than 4 years.

#41 The federal government has now run a budget deficit of more than a trillion dollars for four years in a row.

#42 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

#43 If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

#44 Some suggest that “taxing the rich” is the answer.  Well, if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.

#45 If the federal government used GAAP accounting standards like publicly traded corporations do, the real federal budget deficit for 2011 would have been 5 trillion dollars instead of 1.3 trillion dollars.

#46 The United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.

#47 At this point, the United States government is responsible for more than a third of all the government debt in the entire world.

#48 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.

#49 Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26%, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61% during that same time period.

#50 The U.S. national debt is now more than 37 times larger than it was when Richard Nixon took us off the gold standard.

#51 The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

#52 The U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.

#53 Historically, the interest rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has averaged 6.68 percent.  If the average interest rate on U.S. government debt rose to that level today, the U.S. government would find itself spending more than a trillion dollars per year just on interest on the national debt.

#54 A recently revised IMF policy paper entitled “An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” projects that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.

#55 Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that the U.S. government is facing a gigantic tsunami of unfunded liabilities in the coming years that we are counting on our children and our grandchildren to pay.  Kotlikoff speaks of a “fiscal gap” which he defines as “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”.  His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the federal government is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We are in the process of committing national financial suicide and time is rapidly running out to do anything about it.

Just like Detroit, a day is rapidly approaching when America will not be able to kick the can down the road anymore.

Sadly, our politicians don’t seem inclined to do anything about it and most of the population seems to think that our exploding national debt is not a significant problem.

By the time it becomes clear how wrong they were, it will be far too late to do anything about it.

The Air Has Been Let Out Of The Balloon

Do you hear that sound?  It is the sound of Europe being hit with a cold dose of financial reality.  The air has been let out of the balloon, and investors all over the world are realizing that absolutely nothing has been solved in Europe.  The solutions being proposed by the politicians in Europe are just going to make things worse.  You don’t solve a sovereign debt crisis by shredding confidence in sovereign debt.  But that is exactly what the “voluntary 50% haircut” has done.  You don’t solve a sovereign debt crisis by pumping up your “bailout fund” with borrowed money from China, Russia and Brazil.  More debt is just going to make things even worse down the road.  You don’t solve a sovereign debt crisis by causing a massive credit crunch.  By giving European banks only until June 2012 to dramatically improve their credit ratios, it is going to force many of them to seriously cut back on lending.  A massive credit crunch would significantly slow down economic activity in Europe and that is about the last thing that the Europeans need right now.  If the deal that was reached last week was the “best shot” that Europe has got, then we are all in for a world of hurt.

On Monday, investors all over the globe began to understand the situation that we are now facing.  The Dow was down 276 points, and the euphoria of late last week had almost entirely dissipated.

But much more important is what is happening to European bonds.

Investors are reacting very negatively to the European debt deal by demanding higher returns on bonds.

Perhaps the most important financial number in the world right now is the yield on 10 year Italian bonds.

The yield on 10 year Italian bonds is up over 6 percent, and the 6 percent mark is a key psychological barrier.  If it stays above this mark or goes even higher, that is going to mean big trouble for Italy.

The Italian government just can’t afford for debt to be this expensive.  The higher the yield on 10 year bonds goes, the worse things are going to be for Italy financially.

Of course it was completely and totally predictable that this would happen as a result of the “voluntary 50% haircut” that is being forced on private Greek bondholders, but the politicians over in Europe decided to go this route anyway.

Major Italian banks also got hammered on Monday.  The following is how a CNN article described the carnage….

Shares of UniCredit, the largest bank in Italy, sunk more than 4% on Friday in Milan and were down nearly another 6% Monday. Intesa, the second-largest Italian bank, slipped 7% Monday, while Mediobanca, Italy’s third-largest financial institution, fell about 4%.

The financial world can handle a financial collapse in Greece.  But a financial collapse in Italy would essentially be the equivalent of financial armageddon for Europe.

That is why Italy is so vitally important.

Another EU nation to watch closely is Portugal.

The yield on 2 year Portuguese bonds is now over 18 percent.  A year ago, the yield on those bonds was about 4 percent.

In many ways, Portugal is in even worse shape than Greece.

A recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard discussed the debt problems that Portugal is faced with.  The following statistic was quite eye-opening for me….

Portugal’s public and private debt will reach 360pc of GDP by next year, far higher than in Greece.

Like Greece, Portugal is essentially insolvent at this point.  Their current financial situation is unsustainable and politicians in Portugal are already suggesting that they should be able to get a “sweet deal” similar to what Greece just got.

You see, the truth is that what this Greek debt deal has done is that it has opened up Pandora’s Box.  Most of the financially troubled nations in Europe are eventually going to want a “deal”, and this uncertainty is going to drive investors crazy.

There is very little positive that can be said about this debt deal.  It has bought Europe a few months perhaps, but that is about it.

As the new week dawned, financial professionals all over the globe were harshly criticizing this deal….

*The CEO of TrimTabs Investment Research, Charles Biderman, says that the big problem with this deal is that the fundamental issues have not been addressed….

“The euphoria about the latest euro zone bailout will fade quickly, as investors realize that the underlying solvency issues have not been addressed”

*Bob Janjuah of Nomura Securities International in London was even harsher….

“This latest round of euro zone shock and awe is, in my view, nothing more than a confidence trick and has possibly even set up an even worse financial outcome.”

In fact, Janjuah says that the debt deal is essentially a “Ponzi scheme”….

This latest bailout relies on the market not calling what I see is a huge “bluff”, because if the market does call it, the bailout simply won’t be credible or even deliverable. It is instead akin to a self-referencing ponzi scheme, and I can’t believe eurozone policymakers have even considered going down this route. After all, we all have recent experience of how such ponzi schemes end, and we all remember how eurozone officials often belittled and berated US policymakers for their role in the US housing/CDO/SIV financial bubble.

*The chief economist at High Frequency Economics, Carl Weinberg, is calling the European debt deal a scheme “of Madoffian proportions“….

“Now they (EU Leaders) are keen to tap into resources that are not their own to fund this crazy scheme of guarantees, leveraged off guarantees to sell bonds and bank shares that no one may want to buy, (in order) to restore value in the banking system destroyed by other bonds that no one wants to own right now. This is a construct of Madoffian proportions”

Even George Soros is criticizing the deal.  George Soros is saying that this European debt deal will help stabilize things for a maximum of three months.

Of course with Soros there is always an agenda and you never know what his motives are.  Perhaps he is honestly concerned about the financial health of Europe, or perhaps he is trying to feed the panic to get Europe to crash even faster.  With Soros you never really know what he is up to.

In any event, the crisis in Europe is already claiming financial casualties in the United States.

MF Global, a securities firm headed up by former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

As a recent CNBC article noted, the firm failed because of bad debts on European sovereign debt….

The bankruptcy protection filing from MF Global — a mid-sized trading firm run by former New Jersey Gov. and Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine — only helped amplify the realization that more difficulties remain. MF Global got into trouble mainly because Corzine made tragically wrong bets on European sovereigns that unraveled when it became clear that bondholders of Greek debt will not be made whole as the nation tries to make its way out of its fiscal morass.

As time goes on, there will be more financial casualties.  The truth is that someone is going to pay the price for the financial foolishness of these countries in Europe.

Politicians in Europe did not want to increase the “bailout fund” with any of their own money, so they are going to go crawling to China, Russia and Brazil and beg those countries to lend them huge amounts of money.

This is incredibly foolish, and it is already fairly clear that China is going to play hardball with Europe.  China has Europe exactly where China wants them, and China will likely demand all sorts of crazy things before they will lend Europe any cash for this bailout fund.

As a recent CNN article noted, Europe is going to be in a lot of trouble if they can’t get money out of China, Russia and Brazil….

The hope is that China and other sovereign wealth fund will invest in new special vehicles that will allow the EFSF to add leverage to increase the amount of funding available.

Without the help of China, Brazil, Russia and others, Europe is back where it started. And it still seems clear that the stronger northern European nations aren’t keen on the idea of a full bailout of their southern siblings.

What a mess.

It is a comedy of errors for the politicians over in Europe.  They can’t seem to get anything right.  In fact, everything that they do seems to make a financial collapse in Europe even more likely.

Keep a close eye on the bond yields over in Europe.  Especially keep a close eye on the yield on 10 year Italian bonds.

A massive financial storm is coming to Europe.

It is going to rock the entire globe.

Now is the time to make certain that your financial house is not built on a foundation of sand.  Get your assets into safe places and keep them safe because the road ahead is going to be quite rocky.

Record Low New Home Sales In 2011

New home sales in the United States are on pace to set a brand new all-time record low in 2011.  This will be the third year in a row that new home sales have set a new record low.  Sadly, this is yet another sign that the U.S. economy continues to grow weaker.  Back in 2005, more than four times as many new homes were being sold as are being sold today.  The home building industry is one of the central pillars of the U.S. economy, and the fact that we are going to set another new record low for home sales in 2011 is a really bad sign for those hoping for an economic recovery.  Unlike most of those that work in the financial industry, those that build new homes produce something of lasting value for American families.  In addition, millions of Americans have traditionally made a solid living by building and selling new homes.  But today the market for new homes has totally dried up and large numbers of those jobs are disappearing.  Some of the reasons for this include high unemployment, a glut of foreclosures on the market and the tightening of lending standards on home loans.  In order for the U.S. to have anything resembling a healthy economy again, we are going to need a revival in the sale of new homes.

But unfortunately, it looks like things are getting even worse.  In August, the number of new home sales declined for the fourth month in a row.  That is a very troubling sign because typically summer is the best time for new home sales.

Celia Chen, the director of housing economics at Moody’s Analytics, is saying the following about the dismal numbers….

“With job growth at a standstill, the stock market swinging wildly, Congress wrangling over the debt ceiling and the euro zone’s problems sending consumer confidence down, sales of new homes are slipping from an already weak pace.”

When you take a close look at the numbers, it really is shocking to see how far we have fallen.

Back in 1963, the U.S. Census Bureau began monitoring new home sales.  Prior to the most recent economic downturn, the record low for new home sales happened in 1982.

In that year, only 412,000 new homes were sold.

Well, that record was broken in 2009.

Then it was broken again in 2010.

And it will be broken again in 2011.

This year, we are on pace to see only 303,000 new homes sold in America.

That is beyond pathetic.

To get an idea of just how bad that is, just check out the following chart which comes from the Calculated Risk blog.  The first number is the year, the second number is the total number of new homes sold during that year, and the third number is the total number of new homes sold through the month of August during that year.  The number of new homes sold during 2011 is a projected number….

2000:  877  608
2001:  908  644
2002:  973  670
2003:  1,086  759
2004:  1,203  841
2005:  1,283  906
2006:  1,051  756
2007:  776  577
2008:  485  365
2009:  375  261
2010:  323  231
2011:  303  211

As you can see, this will be the fifth year in a row that new home sales have fallen.

And yet the folks on television keep telling us that the recession is over.

The frightening thing is that new home sales are this anemic even with mortgage rates at historic lows.

So what is going to happen once mortgage rates start going up?

It is hard to imagine new home sales getting even worse than they are now.

And we desperately need to get things turned around.  New home construction is very good for the economy.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, each new home that is constructed creates the equivalent of 3 jobs for an entire year and generates approximately $90,000 in taxes.

So what is holding things back?

Well, for one thing, if people do not have good jobs they cannot afford to buy new homes.

Back in 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job.  In July, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job.

That is a massive problem that needs to be solved.

Unfortunately, our leaders continue to allow millions of our jobs to be shipped overseas.

If you gathered together all of the people in the United States that are “officially unemployed” right now, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.  It would be a nation larger than Greece.

Secondly, there is a gigantic glut of foreclosed homes on the market right now that is competing with new homes for the few qualified home buyers that are out there.

It is absolutely shocking how many vacant homes there are in some areas of the country.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida are sitting vacant.  That figure is 63 percent larger than it was just ten years ago.

In the city of Detroit alone, there are more than 33,000 abandoned homes.

Until the number of vacant homes goes down, there is just not going to be a need in the marketplace for a lot of new homes.

Sadly, it looks like another huge wave of foreclosures could be on the way.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, at least 8 million Americans are currently at least one month behind on their mortgage payments.

That is more than a bit frightening.

Thirdly, lending standards on home loans have dramatically changed.

Five or six years ago, if you were breathing you could get a home loan.

Even the family dog could get a home loan.

But now the pendulum has swung to the opposite end of the spectrum.

Applying for a mortgage today is like getting a series of proctology exams from a very rude and very uncaring doctor.

Many mortgage lenders today will deny you at the slightest hint of a problem.

Even if you have a very high income, near perfect credit, very little debt and a long history of financial responsibility there is still a very good chance that you will be turned down.

If you don’t believe this, just start talking to people that have applied for home loans lately.

A ton of pending home sales are being cancelled because potential home buyers simply cannot get approved.

Until some sort of “balance” is restored to the mortgage lending process, this is going to continue to be a major problem.

It would be nice if I could tell you that things are going to get better soon, but the truth is that there are all kinds of signs that the U.S. economy is getting even worse and there are all kinds of signs that the global financial system is on the verge of a massive nervous breakdown.

So if you make a living by building or selling new homes, you might want to find other ways to supplement your income for a while.

Things are not going to turn around significantly any time soon.

Don’t Buy A House In 2011 Before You Read These 20 Wacky Statistics About The U.S. Real Estate Crisis

Unless you have been asleep or hiding under a rock for the past five years, you already know that we are experiencing the worst real estate crisis that the U.S. has ever seen.  Home prices in the United States have fallen 33 percent from the peak of the housing bubble, which is more than they fell during the Great Depression.  Those that decided to buy a house in 2005 or 2006 are really hurting right now.  Just think about it.  Could you imagine paying off a $400,000 mortgage on a home that is now only worth $250,000?  Millions of Americans are now living through that kind of financial hell.  Sadly, most analysts expect U.S. home prices to go down even further.  Despite the “best efforts” of those running our economy, unemployment is still rampant.  The number of middle class jobs continues to decline year after year, but it takes at least a middle class income to buy a decent home.  In addition, financial institutions have really tightened up lending standards and have made it much more difficult to get home loans.  Back during the wild days of the housing bubble, the family cat could get a zero-down mortgage, but today the pendulum has swung very far in the other direction and now it is really, really tough to get a home loan.  Meanwhile, the number of foreclosures and distressed properties continues to soar.  So with a ton of homes on the market and not a lot of buyers the power is firmly in the hands of those looking to buy a house.

So will home prices continue to go down?  Possibly.  But they won’t go down forever.  At some point the inflation that is already affecting many other segments of the economy will affect home prices as well.  That doesn’t mean that it will be middle class American families that will be buying up all the homes.  An increasing percentage of homes are being purchased by investors or by foreigners.  There are a lot of really beautiful homes in the United States, and wealthy people from all over the globe love to buy a house in America.

But because of the factors mentioned above, it is quite possible that U.S. home prices could go down another 10 or 20 percent, especially if the economy gets worse.

So what is the right time to buy a house?

Nobody really knows for sure.

Mortgage rates are near record lows right now and there are some great deals to be had in many areas of the country.  But that does not mean that you won’t be able to get the same home for even less 6 months or a year from now.

In any event, this truly has been a really trying time for the U.S. housing market.  Hordes of builders, construction workers, contractors, real estate agents and mortgage professionals have been put out of work by this downturn.  The housing industry is one of the core pillars of the economy, and so a recovery in home sales is desperately needed.

The following are 20 really wacky statistics about the U.S. real estate crisis….

#1 According to Zillow, 28.4 percent of all single-family homes with a mortgage in the United States are now underwater.

#2 Zillow has also announced that the average price of a home in the U.S. is about 8 percent lower than it was a year ago and that it continues to fall about 1 percent a month.

#3 U.S. home prices have now fallen a whopping 33% from where they were at during the peak of the housing bubble.

#4 During the first quarter of 2011, home values declined at the fastest rate since late 2008.

#5 According to Zillow, more than 55 percent of all single-family homes with a mortgage in Atlanta have negative equity and more than 68 percent of all single-family homes with a mortgage in Phoenix have negative equity.

#6 U.S. home values have fallen an astounding 6.3 trillion dollars since the housing crisis first began.

#7 In February, U.S. housing starts experienced their largest decline in 27 years.

#8 New home sales in the United States are now down 80% from the peak in July 2005.

#9 Historically, the percentage of residential mortgages in foreclosure in the United States has tended to hover between 1 and 1.5 percent.  Today, it is up around 4.5 percent.

#10 According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings in the United States are projected to increase by another 20 percent in 2011.

#11 It is estimated that 25% of all mortgages in Miami-Dade County are “in serious distress and headed for either foreclosure or short sale“.

#12 Two years ago, the average U.S. homeowner that was being foreclosed upon had not made a mortgage payment in 11 months.  Today, the average U.S. homeowner that is being foreclosed upon has not made a mortgage payment in 17 months.

#13 Sales of foreclosed homes now represent an all-time record 23.7% of the market.

#14 4.5 million home loans are now either in some stage of foreclosure or are at least 90 days delinquent.

#15 According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, at least 8 million Americans are currently at least one month behind on their mortgage payments.

#16 In September 2008, 33 percent of Americans knew someone who had been foreclosed upon or who was facing the threat of foreclosure.  Today that number has risen to 48 percent.

#17 During the first quarter of 2011, less new homes were sold in the U.S. than in any three month period ever recorded.

#18 According to a recent census report, 13% of all homes in the United States are currently sitting empty.

#19 In 1996, 89 percent of Americans believed that it was better to own a home than to rent one.  Today that number has fallen to 63 percent.

#20 According to Zillow, the United States has been in a “housing recession” for 57 straight months without an end in sight.

So should we be confident that the folks in charge are doing everything that they can to turn all of this around?

Sadly, the truth is that our “authorities” really do not know what they are doing.  The following is what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke had to say about the housing market back in 2006….

“Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.”

Since that time U.S. housing prices have experienced their biggest decline ever.

At some point widespread inflation is going to reverse the trend we are experiencing right now, but that doesn’t mean that most American families will be able to afford to buy homes when that happens.

As I have written about previously, the middle class in America is shrinking.  The number of Americans on food stamps has increased by 18 million over the past four years and today 47 million Americans (a new all-time record) are living in poverty.

Millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas, the cost of living keeps going up and an increasing percentage of American families are losing faith in the economy.

More Americans than ever are talking about “the coming economic collapse” as if it is a foregone conclusion.  Our federal government is swamped with debt, our state and local governments are swamped with debt and our economic infrastructure is being ripped to shreds by globalization.

So sadly, no, there are not a whole lot of reasons to be optimistic at this point about a major economic turnaround.

The U.S. economy is going down the toilet and the coming collapse is going to be incredibly painful for all of us.

Hopefully when that collapse comes you will have somewhere warm and safe to call home.  If not, hopefully someone will have compassion on you.  In any event, we all need to buckle up because it is going to be a wild ride.

Debt Problem: Who In The World Is Going To Buy The Billions Of Dollars Of Debt The U.S. Government Is Constantly Pumping Out Now?

Is the U.S. government on the verge of a massive debt problem?  For years, the U.S. government has been able to borrow all the money that it has wanted to at extremely low interest rates.  But now many of the lending sources that the U.S. government has been depending on are drying up.  Even before this recent crisis in Japan, a number of big players were moving away from U.S. Treasuries and the U.S. Federal Reserve was having to step in to pick up the slack.  But now this debt crunch is about to get a whole lot worse.  For years, many had feared that it would be China that would start dumping U.S. government debt, but now it turns out that Japan is going to be the real problem.  Right now, Japan is the second largest foreign holder of U.S. government debt.  Japan currently holds about $882 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds and they are likely going to have to liquidate much of that in order to fund the rebuilding of their nation.  So needless to say they won’t be accumulating any more U.S. government debt.  But the U.S. government still needs to borrow a trillion and a half dollars from someone every single year.  So where in the world are they going to get it?

This is called a debt problem.  Have you ever gotten to the point where you are in debt up to your eyeballs and nobody wants to lend you any more money?

Well, the U.S. government is rapidly reaching that point.

Even before the crisis in Japan, several of the big boys had starting moving away from U.S. government debt.

PIMCO, the biggest bond fund on the entire globe, recently acknowledged that they are dumping all of their U.S. Treasuries.

So if foreign nations like Japan are not gobbling up U.S. government debt and big bond funds like PIMCO are not buying any of it, then who in the world is going to be purchasing the massive amounts of debt that the U.S. government is constantly pumping out?

Well, many of you already know that answer.

The Federal Reserve is going to step in of course.  The Federal Reserve knows that if the U.S. government cannot borrow gigantic quantities of money at super low interest rates it will go broke.  So the Federal Reserve is just going to keep buying up most new U.S. government debt.  It is just that simple.

But isn’t that a Ponzi scheme?

Of course it is.  Let’s not mince words here.  It is a total scam.

And it is a scam that cannot go on indefinitely.

The truth is that the Ponzi Scheme of the U.S. Treasury issuing bonds and the Federal Reserve buying them up cannot last forever as PIMCO’s Bill Gross noted in his March newsletter….

“Basically, the recent game plan is as simple as the Ohio State Buckeyes’ “three yards and a cloud of dust” in the 1960s. When applied to the Treasury market it translates to this: The Treasury issues bonds and the Fed buys them. What could be simpler, and who’s to worry? This Sammy Scheme as I’ve described it in recent Outlooks is as foolproof as Ponzi and Madoff until… until… well, until it isn’t.”

Gross also noted in his recent newsletter that the Federal Reserve is currently buying up about 70 percent of all new U.S. government debt.

So now that Japan is out of the picture, how high will that figure go now?

80 percent?

90 percent?

Over the past several weeks there has been all kinds of speculation about whether “quantitative easing” will be extended past June or not.

Well, whether they call it “quantitative easing” or not, the truth is that the Federal Reserve is going to have to continue to “buy” most new U.S. government debt or the system will crash.

We have gotten to the point where the U.S. federal government cannot continue to function without Federal Reserve monetization of the debt.

This is a sign that we are rapidly approaching the financial endgame.

So why doesn’t the U.S. government just stop spending so much stinking money and stop getting us all into so much debt?

Well, because there isn’t enough political will in Washington D.C. to do any real budget cuts, and if our politicians did balance the budget at this point it would crash the economy.

Just the other day, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to fund the federal government that would cut 6 billion dollars from U.S. government spending.

On that exact same day, the official U.S. national debt figure rose by 72 billion dollars.

Now the debt normally does not go up that much on a typical day.  But what this example does show is the losing battle that our politicians are fighting.

On Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned a House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee that they should not even think about not raising the debt ceiling….

“Congress has to do it. There’s no alternative.”

The truth is that the U.S. government has to keep going into more debt.  Under the current system the alternative would be to collapse the economy.

But the debt that we have already piled on to the backs of future generations is absolutely criminal.

How mad do you think future generations are going to be with us for heaping 14 trillion dollars of debt on to their shoulders?

Talk about a debt problem!

But this is what we get for allowing a private central bank to run our financial system.  This debt-based system was designed to fail from its very inception.

The man supposedly “in charge” over at the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, has a track of record of incompetence that is absolutely staggering.  It is a mystery why our representatives in Washington D.C. are not howling for his resignation.

Instead, most of our politicians continue to express blind faith in our current financial system and they continue to insist that everything is going to be okay.

Well, everything is not going to be okay.  The Obama administration is projecting that the federal budget deficit for this fiscal year will be an all-time record 1.65 trillion dollars.

Of course they are also trying to convince us that budget deficits will go down in future years, but by now we should all know not to trust the rosy future projections of government officials.

After all, it was only a few short years ago that Bush administration officials were promising that we would be swimming in huge budget surpluses by now.

The truth is that the government has been lying about all of this for a long time.  For now, the Federal Reserve is just going to keep monetizing U.S. government debt for as long as it can.

This Ponzi scheme will keep on working and working and working until someday it simply doesn’t anymore.

When that day arrives, the U.S. government debt problem is going to unleash hell on world financial markets.

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