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The Economic Collapse Blog Has Issued A RED ALERT For The Last Six Months Of 2015

Red Alert ButtonI have never done anything like this before.  Ever since I started The Economic Collapse Blog in late 2009, I have never issued any kind of “red alert” for any specific period of time.  As an attorney, I was trained to be level-headed and to only come to conclusions that were warranted by the evidence.  So this is not something that I am doing lightly.  Based on information that I have received, things that I have been told, and thousands of hours of research that have gone into the publication of more than 1,300 articles about our ongoing economic collapse, I have come to the conclusion that a major financial collapse is imminent.  Therefore, I am issuing a RED ALERT for the last six months of 2015.

To clarify, when I say “imminent” I do not mean that it will happen within the next 48 hours.  And I am not saying that our problems will be “over” once we get to the end of 2015.  In fact, I believe that the truth is that our problems will only be just beginning as we enter 2016.

What I am attempting to communicate is that we are right at the door of a major turning point.  About this time of the year back in 2008, my wife and I went to visit her parents.  As we sat in their living room, I explained to them that we were on the verge of a major financial crisis, and of course the events that happened a few months later showed that I was right on the money.

This time around, I wish that I could visit the living rooms of all of my readers and explain to them why we are on the verge of another major financial crisis.  Unfortunately, that is not possible, but hopefully this article will suffice.  Please share it with your friends, your family and anyone else that you want to warn about what is coming.

Let’s start with a little discussion about the U.S. economy.  Most of the time, when I use the term “economic collapse” what most people are actually thinking of is a “financial collapse”.  And we will talk about the imminent “financial collapse” later on in this article.  But just because stocks have recently been hitting all-time record highs does not mean that the overall economy has been doing well.  This is a theme that I have hammered on over and over again.  It is my contention that we are in the midst of a long-term economic collapse that has been happening for many years, that is happening as you read this article, and that will greatly accelerate over the coming months.

Let me give you just one quick example.  When an economy is healthy, money tends to circulate fairly rapidly.  I buy something from you, then you take that money and buy something from someone else, etc.  In a stable and growing economy, people generally feel good about things and they are not afraid to spend.  But during hard times, the exact opposite happens.  That is why the velocity of money almost always slows down during a recession.  As you can see from the chart below, the velocity of money has indeed gone down during every recession since 1960.  Once a recession is over, the velocity of money is supposed to go back up.  But a funny thing happened after the last recession ended.  The velocity of money continued to go down, and it has now hit an all-time record low…

Velocity Of Money M2

This is the kind of chart that you would expect from a very sick economy.  And without a doubt, our economy is sick.  Even the official government numbers paint a picture of an economy that is deeply troubled.  Corporate profits have declined for two quarters in a row, U.S. exports plunged by 7.6 percent during the first quarter of 2015, U.S. GDP contracted by 0.7 percent during the first quarter, and factory orders have declined year over year for six months in a row.

If the stock market was connected to reality, it would be going down.  But instead, it has just kept going up.  As I discussed yesterday, this is a classic case of an irrational financial bubble.  If I was writing an economic textbook and I wanted to include an example of what a run up to a major financial crash looks like, it would be hard to come up with anything more ideal than what we have watched unfold over the last six months.  Just about every pattern that has popped up prior to previous stock markets crashes is happening again, and this is something that I have written about so much that many of my readers are sick of it.

And without a doubt, our financial markets are primed for a crash.

Only two times before has the S&P 500 been up by more than 200 percent over a six year time frame.

The first was in 1929, and the stock market subsequently crashed.

The second was in 2000, right before the dotcom bubble burst.

And by just about any measure that you can possibly imagine, stocks are massively overvalued right now.

For instance, just check out the chart posted below.  It comes from Doug Short, and it shows that the ratio of corporate equity prices to GDP has only been higher one time since 1950.  That was in 2000 just before the dotcom bubble burst…

The Buffett Indicator from Doug Short

Let’s take a look at another chart.  This one comes from Phoenix Capital Research, and it shows that the CAPE ratio (cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio) has rarely been higher.  In fact, the only times that it has been higher we have seen stock market crashes immediately afterwards…

CAPE - Phoenix Capital Research

Yale economics professor Robert Shiller is also deeply concerned about the CAPE ratio

I think that compared with history, US stocks are overvalued. One way to assess this is by looking at the CAPE (cyclically adjusted P/E) ratio that I created with John Campbell, now at Harvard, 25 years ago. The ratio is defined as the real stock price (using the S&P Composite Stock Price Index deflated by the CPI) divided by the ten-year average of real earnings per share. We have found this ratio to be a good predictor of subsequent stock market returns, especially over the long run. The CAPE ratio has recently been around 27, which is quite high by US historical standards. The only other times it has been that high or higher were in 1929, 2000, and 2007—all moments before market crashes.

But the CAPE ratio is not the only metric I watch. In my book Irrational Exuberance (3rd Ed., Princeton 2015) I discuss several metrics that help judge what’s going on in the market. These include my stock market confidence indices. One of the indicators in that series is based on a single question that I have asked individual and institutional investors over the years along the lines of, “Do you think the stock market is overvalued, undervalued, or about right?” Lately, what I call “valuation confidence” captured by this question has been on a downward trend, and for individual investors recently reached its lowest point since the stock market peak in 2000.

Other valuation indicators produce similar results.  This next chart is another one from Doug Short, and it shows the average of four of his favorite valuation indicators.  As you can see, there is only one other time when stocks have been more overvalued than they are today according to the average of his four favorite indicators, and that was just before the stock market crashed when the dotcom bubble burst…

Four Valuation Indicators - Doug Short

Another one of the things that indicates that a financial bubble is happening is the level of margin debt.  Whenever margin debt has gone over 2.25% of GDP a stock market crash has always followed, and today it is far above that level.  As you can see from the chart below, there have been three major peaks in margin debt in modern U.S. history.  One was just before the dotcom bubble burst, one was just before the financial crisis of 2008, and the third is happening right now…

Margin Debt - Doug Short

Something else that we would expect to see prior to a major financial crisis is a decoupling of high yield debt and stocks.  This is something that happened just prior to the stock market crash of 2008, and it is happening again right now.  The following chart comes from Zero Hedge, and it demonstrates this brilliantly…

S&P 500 HY Credit

Are you starting to get the picture?

And as I discussed yesterday, the smart money is beginning to pull their money out of stocks while they still can.  According to USA Today, mutual fund investors have pulled more money out of stocks than they have put into stocks for 16 weeks in a row

In a sign of stock market nervousness on Main Street, mutual fund investors have yanked more money out of U.S. stock funds than they put in for 16 straight weeks.

The last time domestic stock funds had positive net cash inflows was in the week ending Feb. 25, according to data from the Investment Company Institute, a mutual fund trade group.

In the week ended June 17, the most recent data available, mutual funds that invest in U.S. stocks suffered net outflows of $3.45 billion, according to the ICI.

Since late February, U.S. stock funds have suffered estimated outflows of nearly $55 billion. Those net withdrawals come despite the fact the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 hit a fresh record high of 2130.82 on May 21 and the Dow Jones industrial average notched a fresh record on May 19.

But it isn’t just stocks that are going to crash during the next financial crisis.  Bonds are going to crash as well, but what I am concerned about most of all are derivatives.

Derivatives are going to play a starring role in the next major financial crisis.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  In fact, if you want to listen for just one word on the news that will let you know that things have started to really unravel, just listen for the word “derivatives”.  This form of legalized gambling is going to crush “too big to fail” banks all over the planet during the next major financial downturn.  The “too big to fail” banks in the U.S. alone have 278 trillion dollars of total exposure to derivatives, but they only have 9.8 trillion dollars in total assets.  To say that they are being “reckless” is a massive understatement.

For much more on the coming derivatives crisis, please see my previous article entitled “Warren Buffett: Derivatives Are Still Weapons Of Mass Destruction And ‘Are Likely To Cause Big Trouble’“.

Of course I am not the only one that is sounding the alarm about what is coming.  Just consider what some very prominent individuals have been saying recently…

Ron Paul has just released a new video in which he warned all of us to “prepare for a bear market in bonds“.

Carl Icahn says that financial markets are “extremely overheated—especially high-yield bonds“.

Max Keiser recently told Alex Jones that a great financial collapse is coming.

Martin Armstrong says that his Economic Confidence Model predicts that the “Big Bang” is coming in “2015.75“.

Jeff Berwick of the Dollar Vigilante says that “we’re getting very, very close to the next crisis collapse” and he has specifically pointed to the month of September.

James Howard Kunstler has predicted that stocks are going to “crater in Q3 as faith in paper and pixels erodes“.

Lindsey Williams recently sent out an email alert in which he warned that his elite friend has told him that “they have a World Wide Financial Collapse scheduled between September and the end of December 2015“.

Gerald Celente has warned about “the Great Panic of 2015“.

Bill Fleckenstein has said that 2015 could be the year of the “big accident“.

Ray Gano has stated that we will see a financial collapse “probably starting in the third quarter of 2015″.

Legendary investor Jim Rogers recently said that he believes that “we will see some kind of major, major problems in the world financial markets” within the next year or two.

Alex Jones recently released a video in which he explained that he recently received “two different calls” from “extremely prominent wealthy people” warning him about what is coming by the end of this year and asking him why he isn’t leaving the United States “before October”.

Bible prophecy expert Joel C. Rosenberg has posted an ominous message on his personal blog in which he warned that “something is coming” and that “we must be ready”…

I feel a tremendous sense of urgency about this column.

The United States is hurtling towards severe trouble, and the events of the past few months — and what may be coming over the next few months — grieves me a great deal.

Something is coming. I don’t know what. But we all must be ready in every possible way.

When I read what Rosenberg wrote, it struck me that it was precisely how I have been feeling too.

In my entire life, I have never had such an ominous feeling about any period of time as I have about the last six months of 2015.  Like Rosenberg, I feel a “tremendous sense of urgency”, and I feel a great need to warn as many people as I can.

And it isn’t just a financial collapse that I am concerned about.  In a previous article, I detailed seven key events that we are going to witness before the end of this September…

Late June/Early July – It is expected that this is when the U.S. Supreme Court will reveal their gay marriage decision.  Most believe that the court will rule that gay marriage is a constitutional right in all 50 states.  There are some that believe that this will be a major turning point for our nation.

July 15th to September 15th – A “realistic military training exercise” known as “Jade Helm” will be conducted by the U.S. Army.  More than 1,000 members of the U.S. military will take part in this exercise.  The list of states slated to be involved in these drills includes Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California, Mississippi and Florida.

July 28th – On May 28th, Reuters reported that countries in the European Union were being given a two month deadline to enact “bail-in” legislation.  Any nation that does not have “bail-in” legislation in place by that time will face legal action from the European Commission.  So why is the European Union in such a rush to get this done?  Are the top dogs in the EU anticipating that another great financial crisis is about to erupt?

September 13th – This is Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar – the last day of the Shemitah year.  Many are concerned about this date because we have seen giant stock market crashes on the last day of the previous two Shemitah cycles.

On September 17th, 2001 (which was Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar), we witnessed the greatest one day stock market crash in U.S. history up until that time.  The Dow plummeted 684 points, and it was a record that held for exactly seven years until the end of the next Shemitah cycle.

On September 29th, 2008 (which was also Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar), the Dow fell by an astounding 777 points, which still today remains the greatest one day stock market crash of all time.

Now we are approaching the end of another Shemitah year.  So will the stock market crash on September 13th, 2015?  Well, no, because that day is a Sunday.  So I guarantee that the stock market will not crash on that particular day.  But as Jonathan Cahn has pointed out in his book on the Shemitah, sometimes stock market crashes happen just before the end of the Shemitah year and sometimes they happen within just a few weeks after the end of the Shemitah.  So we are not just looking at one particular date.

September 15th – The 70th session of the UN General Assembly begins on this date.  It is being reported that France plans to introduce a resolution which would give formal UN Security Council recognition to a Palestinian state.  Up until now, the United States has always been the one blocking such a resolution, but Barack Obama is indicating that things may be much different this time around.

September 25th to September 27th – The United Nations is going to launch a brand new sustainable development agenda for the entire planet.  Some have called this “Agenda 21 on steroids”.  But this new agenda is not just about the environment.  It also includes provisions regarding economics, agriculture, education and gender equality.  On September 25th, the Pope will travel to New York to give a major speech kicking off the UN conference where this new agenda will be unveiled.

September 28th – This is the date for the last of the four blood moons that fall on Biblical festival dates during 2014 and 2015.  This blood moon falls on the very first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, it will be a “supermoon”, and it will actually be visible in the city of Jerusalem.  There are many that dismiss the blood moon phenomenon, but we have seen similar patterns before.  For example, a similar pattern of eclipses happened just before and just after the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Romans in 70 AD.

In addition to everything above, quite a number of economic cycle theories that were developed by secular economists all point to big trouble for America between the years of 2015 and 2020.  For more on this, please see my previous article entitled “If Economic Cycle Theorists Are Correct, 2015 To 2020 Will Be Pure Hell For The United States“.

Earlier today, I publicly announced that I was issuing a RED ALERT for the last six months of 2015 on the Alex Jones radio show.  You can watch video of that interview right here.  In this article (which is about three times as long as one of my normal articles) I have only shared a small fraction of the information that has led me to issue this red alert.  But if you want to know more, and you are not afraid to really go down the rabbit hole, I would encourage you to check out a full two hour presentation that I did down in Dallas, Texas on the nightmarish years that are coming.

The period of relative stability that we have been enjoying is ending.  What comes next is going to lead us into the worst period of time in modern American history.  I wish that I was wrong about this.

But the goal is not to scare you.  My wife and I live our lives with absolutely no fear, and that is my desire for all of my readers.  There is hope in understanding what is happening and there is hope in getting prepared.  Personally, my wife and I believe that the greatest chapters of our lives are ahead of us, and I hope that you have a similar outlook.

We need a generation of people that are willing to rise up and do great things even in the midst of all the chaos and darkness that is coming.  It is when times are the darkest that the greatest heroes are needed.

So what will you choose to do when the next crisis comes?

Will you cower in fear, or will you rise up to meet the challenge?

Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…

Lindsey Williams, Martin Armstrong And Alex Jones All Warn About What Is Coming In The Fall Of 2015

Warnings - Public DomainNot since the financial crash of 2008 have so many prominent people issued such urgent warnings about a specific time period.  Almost daily now, really big names are coming out with chilling predictions about what they believe is going to happen during the second half of 2015.  But it isn’t just that these people have a “bad feeling” about things.  The truth is that we are witnessing a confluence of circumstances and events in the second half of this year that is unprecedented.  This is something that I covered in a previous article that went mega-viral all over the Internet entitled “7 Key Events That Are Going To Happen By The End Of September“.  Personally, I have never been more concerned about any period of time than I am about the second half of 2015.  And as you will see below, I am definitely not alone.

Just a few days ago, I received an email that contained a chilling message from Lindsey Williams.  You can view the same message that came to my email right here.  According to Lindsey Williams, the elite insider that he is in contact with told him that there will be a global financial collapse between September and December of this year…

WARNING!

From Lindsey Williams: I just received an email from my Elite friend.

My Elite friend indicated that they have a World Wide Financial Collapse scheduled between September and the end of December 2015

You may have just THREE (3) months to prepare!

I have a ton of respect for Lindsey Williams, and I would listen to what he has to say very carefully.  Back in 2008, an elite insider told him that the price of oil would drop from $140 a barrel to $40 a barrel, and it happened.  This time around, Williams has been telling us throughout 2013 and 2014 that a global financial collapse was not going to happen during those years, and he was right about that.

But now he is sounding the alarm that one is going to come by the end of this calendar year.

Martin Armstrong is someone else that has been sounding the alarm about the second half of this year.

In fact, Armstrong says that he has “warned that the Big Bang was coming 2015.75″ since 1985.

In the past, I have written entire articles about economic cycle theories and what they indicate is coming in our future.

Armstrong has developed one of his own, and he calls it the Economic Confidence Model.  According to the ECM, the “sovereign debt Big Bang” is scheduled to happen by the end of 2015.  And it turns out that the time period that Armstrong has been pointing to lines up with a whole bunch of other significant events as well

There are many aspects that are lining up with the turn in the ECM (Economic Confidence Model) from the Blood Moon and the Jewish Year for forgiving the debts, to France imposing restrictions on cash in September, and even in Germany the laws that protected about half a million people so-called dachas there in East Germany expire. To date, a law protecting the tenant against dismissal by the municipality will also expire October 3, 2015. Everywhere we look, there are changes coming to a head, right down to the U.S. Federal budget with 2015.75.

In case you are tempted to dismiss this as nonsense, Armstrong has pointed out that his ECM has been accurate “to the day” in the past

Of course the 1987 crash bottomed to the day with the ECM confirming that was the low. The same took place in 1994 where the U.S. share market bottomed right to the day, once again confirming this was an important low.

So will the ECM be right again this time?

Only time will tell, but it should be noted that the global bond market is already starting to crash.  If Armstrong ultimately turns out to be correct, we could be on the verge of a major turning point

This next turning point should be the peak in the concentration of capital and confidence in government. From there on out, 2015.75 should mark the change in trend where people will start to disbelieve government on a grand scale. The debt markets that peak precisely with the target are going to get the worst of it.

Other financial experts are issuing similar warnings, even if they aren’t being quite as specific.

For example, just consider what Jim Rogers had to say recently…

I suspect in the next year or two we will see some kind of major, major problems in the world financial markets.

I would suspect when we have this correction, it’s going to cause central banks to panic. There’s going to come a time when there is not much the central banks can do when they have lost all credibility. When governments have lost all credibility. They will print and spend and borrow, but there comes a time when people are just going to say We don’t want to play this game anymore. And at that point, the world has serious, serious problems because there’s nothing to rescue us.

Perhaps the most sobering warning of all that I have come across in recent days is from Alex Jones.

In the video posted below, he explains that he recently received “two different calls” from “extremely prominent wealthy people” warning him about what is coming by the end of this year and asking him why he isn’t leaving the United States “before October”.

In other words, these individuals believe that something really big is going to happen by the end of September.  This dovetails perfectly with what I have already been warning about.

In this video, Alex also explains that large numbers of insiders are now quietly leaving the country.  I have never seen him quite like this.  I think that so many of us are just in shock that the things that we have been warning about for so long are now actually happening.  Watch this video for yourself and see what you think…

In the financial markets, we are also seeing signals that many people believe that big trouble is right around the corner.  For instance, according to Dana Lyons we haven’t seen bets that the VIX will rise at this level since just before the financial crash of 2008…

As most observers are aware, the VIX tends to rise as the stock market declines. Thus a rising VIX is associated with bad markets. The interesting thing about present conditions in VIX options is that the Put/Call Ratio (using a 21-day average) is at the lowest level since the summer of 2008. That means that there are more bets on a rising VIX versus bets on a falling VIX than we have seen in 7 years. And again, a rising VIX is associated with bad markets.

In other words, investors are betting a tremendous amount of money that we are going to see a rise in volatility in the financial markets in the months ahead.  And as I have explained so many times before, during times of high volatility markets tend to go down very rapidly.  So these bets will pay off very handsomely if there is a financial crash this fall.

Meanwhile, the manager of one of the largest bond funds in the UK is warning that a “systemic event” could soon hit global financial markets and that it is wise to have some “physical cash” at home just in case there is some sort of major emergency.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

The manager of one of Britain’s biggest bond funds has urged investors to keep cash under the mattress.

Ian Spreadbury, who invests more than £4bn of investors’ money across a handful of bond funds for Fidelity, including the flagship Moneybuilder Income fund, is concerned that a “systemic event” could rock markets, possibly similar in magnitude to the financial crisis of 2008, which began in Britain with a run on Northern Rock.

“Systemic risk is in the system and as an investor you have to be aware of that,” he told Telegraph Money.

The best strategy to deal with this, he said, was for investors to spread their money widely into different assets, including gold and silver, as well as cash in savings accounts. But he went further, suggesting it was wise to hold some “physical cash”, an unusual suggestion from a mainstream fund manager.

This sounds like what I have been saying for years.  I am a big believer in not having all of your financial eggs in one basket, and I do believe that it is wise to have at least some emergency cash at home.

But to hear it from a member of Britain’s financial elite is definitely unusual to say the least.

Sadly, just like last time, most people are not listening to the warnings.  Back in the summer of 2008, my wife and I went up to visit her parents.  I sat on their sofa and told them that a great financial collapse was about to unfold and that it would shake the entire world.  Of course just a few months later that is exactly what happened.

Now we are on the verge of an even greater financial collapse, and still I find that there are a lot of people out there that are doubters.  Most of these doubters have an immense amount of faith in the system, and they are confident that this debt-fueled bubble of false prosperity that we are currently enjoying can somehow last indefinitely.

I truly wish that the hopeless optimists were right.

I truly wish that I could live out my days in peace and quiet in a world that was safe and stable.

Unfortunately for all of us, things are about to change in a major way.  When it starts happening, don’t forget that there have been people that have been warning you that this would happen all along.

Guess How Many Nations In The World Do Not Have A Central Bank?

OctopusCentral banking has truly taken over the entire planet.  At this point, the only major nation on the globe that does not have a central bank is North Korea.  Yes, there are some small island countries such as the Federated States of Micronesia that do not have a central bank, but even if you count them, more than 99.9% of the population of the world still lives in a country that has a central bank.  So how has this happened?  How have we gotten the entire planet to agree that central banking is the best system?  Did the people of the world willingly choose this?  Of course not.  To my knowledge, there has never been a single vote where the people of a nation have willingly chosen to establish a central bank.  Instead, what has happened is that central banks have been imposed on all of us.  All over the world, people have been told that monetary issues are “too important” to be subject to politics, and that the only solution is to have a group of unelected, unaccountable bankers control those things for us.

So precisely what does a central bank do?

You would be surprised at how few people can actually answer that question accurately.  The following is how Wikipedia describes what a central bank does…

A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is an institution that manages a state’s currency, money supply, and interest rates. Central banks also usually oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries. In contrast to a commercial bank, a central bank possesses a monopoly on increasing the monetary base in the state, and usually also prints the national currency, which usually serves as the state’s legal tender. Examples include the European Central Bank (ECB), the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve of the United States and the People’s Bank of China.

In the United States, we are told that we have a free market system.  But in a true free market system, market forces would determine what interest rates are.  We wouldn’t need anyone to “set interest rates” for us.

And why have we given a private banking cartel (the Federal Reserve) the authority to create and manage our money supply?  The U.S. Constitution specifically delegates that authority to Congress.

It is not as if we actually need the Federal Reserve.  In fact, the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history happened during the decades before the Federal Reserve was created.

Unfortunately, a little over 100 years ago our leaders decided that it would be best to turn over our financial future to a newly created private banking cartel that was designed by very powerful Wall Street interests.  Since that time, the value of our currency has diminished by more than 96 percent and our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

But despite all of the problems, the vast majority of Democrats and the vast majority of Republicans are not even willing to consider slightly curtailing the immense power of the Federal Reserve.  And the idea of getting rid of the Fed altogether is tantamount to blasphemy to most of our politicians.

Of course the same thing is true all over the planet.  Central banks are truly “the untouchables” of the modern world.  Even though everybody can see what they are doing, there has not been a single successful political movement anywhere on the globe (that I know about) to shut a central bank down.

Instead, in recent years we have just seen the reach of central banking just continue to expand.

For example, just look at what has happened to some of the countries that were not considered to be “integrated” into the “global community”…

-In 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan.  In 2003, Da Afghanistan Bank (who picked that name?) was established by presidential decree.  You can find the official website of the bank right here.  Now Afghanistan has a modern central bank just like the rest of us.

-In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq.  In early 2004, the Central Bank of Iraq was established to manage the Iraqi currency and integrate Iraq into the global financial system.  The following comes from the official website of the Central Bank of Iraq

Following the deposition of Saddam Hussein in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi Governing Council and the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance began printing more Saddam dinar notes as a stopgap measure to maintain the money supply until new currency could be introduced.

The Banking Law was issued September 19, 2003. The law brings Iraq’s legal framework for banking in line with international standards, and seeks to promote confidence in the banking system by establishing a safe, sound, competitive and accessible banking system.

Between October 15, 2003 and January 15, 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority issued new Iraqi dinar coins and notes, with the notes printed using modern anti-forgery techniques, to “create a single unified currency that is used throughout all of Iraq and will also make money more convenient to use in people’s everyday lives. Old banknotes were exchanged for new at a one-to-one rate, except for the Swiss dinars, which were exchanged at a rate of 150 new dinars for one Swiss dinar.

The Central Bank of Iraq (Arabic: البنك المركزي العراقي) was established as Iraq’s independent central bank by the Central Bank of Iraq Law of March 6, 2004

-In 2011, the United States bombed the living daylights out of Libya.  Before Muammar Gaddafi was even overthrown, the U.S. helped the rebels establish a new Central Bank of Libya and form a new national oil company.

Central banks are specifically designed to trap nations in debt spirals from which they can never possibly escape.  Today, the debt to GDP ratio for the entire planet is up to an all-time high record of 286 percent.  Humanity is being enslaved by a perpetual debt machine, but most people are not even aware that it is happening.

It is time for an awakening.  We need to educate as many people as possible about why we need to get rid of the central banks.  For those living in the United States, my previous article entitled “On The 100th Anniversary Of The Federal Reserve Here Are 100 Reasons To Shut It Down Forever” is a good place to start.  In other countries, we need people to write similar articles about their own central banks in their own languages.

The global elite dominate us because we allow them to dominate us.  Their debt-based system greatly enriches them while it enslaves the remainder of the planet.  We need to expose their evil system and the dark agenda behind it while we still have time.

American Pharoah: What A Perfect Description For The Guy In The White House

Obama Pharoah - YouTube ScreenshotA horse named “American Pharoah” just won the Triple Crown.  Is this some sort of a sign for America?  The office of the presidency was greatly strengthened under previous administrations, but now Barack Obama has grabbed an unprecedented amount of power for himself.  In this article, I am going to focus on immigration, but Obama’s power grab is certainly not limited to this area.  And as I have written about previously, if there is some sort of major “national emergency” over the next year or so, the legal framework has already been created for Obama to use his “emergency powers” to take total control of virtually everything.  So is comparing Obama to the pharoahs of ancient Egypt unfair?  I don’t think so at all.  He is certainly acting as if he would like the powers of a dictator, his policies in the Middle East would make the pharoahs proud, and without a doubt Obama loves the adoration and worship of his fans.  In my opinion, he is the closest thing to a pharoah that the United States has ever seen.

Just consider Obama’s approach to immigration.  The laws of our land require him to protect our borders, but he has left them wide open and has openly encouraged illegal immigration because that is what he decided was best.  He also attempted to use his “executive powers” to grant amnesty to millions upon millions of immigrants that were in this country illegally.  Fortunately, that action has been blocked in the courts (at least for now), but Obama says that he is going to keep trying to do everything he can to “bring them out of the shadows”.

Personally, I am someone that believes that the United States will always need a certain level of legal immigration.  But the key word there is “legal”.  It is absolutely imperative that we require everyone to come in by the front door, so that we can weed out those that would be damaging to our society.  But instead of adopting a system that makes sense, we have left the back door wide open while making it extremely challenging to come in through the front door.  As a result, we have seen an endless flow of gang members, drug dealers, serial criminals, welfare parasites and political radicals enter this country illegally.  We have made it really easy for the “bad guys” to come in, but extraordinarily difficult for the “good guys” to move here.  What we are doing does not make any sense at all.

And thanks to our foolishness and the refusal of recent presidential administrations to enforce the law, all of this immigration has fundamentally altered the employment picture in this nation.  According to the latest numbers, nearly all of the job gains that the U.S. economy has experienced since 2007 have gone to foreign born workers

Assuming, the Household and Establishment surveys were congruent, this would mean that there was just 1K native-born workers added in May of the total 280K jobs added.

Alternatively, assuming the series, which is not seasonally adjusted, was indicative of seasonally adjusted data, then the 272K increase in total Household Survey civilian employment in May would imply a decline of 7K native-born workers offset by the increase of 279K “foreign borns.”

But while all of these comparisons are apples to oranges, using the BLS’ own Native-Born series, also presented on an unadjusted basis, we find the following stunner: since the start of the Second Great Depression, the US has added 2.3 million “foreign-born” workers, offset by just 727K “native-born”.

Foreign Born vs. Native Born

This means that the “recovery” has almost entirely benefited foreign-born workers, to the tune of 3 to 1 relative to native-born Americans!

It is getting to the point where we have a national epidemic on our hands.  According to one recent study, nearly one out of every 10 workers in the entire state of California is here illegally.  Imagine how much easier it would be to get a job in that state if the illegal workers were not part of the equation.

And of course it isn’t just employment that we need to be concerned about.  Thanks to unchecked illegal immigration, there are now 1.4 million gang members living in our cities, and these gang members often commit crimes that are absolutely horrific.  For example, the following is from an article about a crime that was recently committed by members of MS-13

Three teenage reputed members of the MS-13 street gang were ordered held without bail Friday on charges they forced a 16-year-old into a wooded area of a Long Island golf course, where two of them took turns raping her while the third stood as a lookout.

This is one of the most brutal, heinous crimes that I have seen in a long, long time,’ Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said at a news conference following the suspects’ arraignments.

‘This poor young woman is so lucky that, quite frankly, that she is alive. These are vicious young men, vicious young men and what they did to her was absolutely terrible.’

If Barack Obama had protected our borders like he should have, those members of MS-13 would have never gotten into this country and they never would have raped that girl.

But instead of admitting that what he has done has been wrong, Pharoah Obama is doubling down on his current approach.  He insists that leaving the border wide open is “the right thing to do”, and he pledges to “bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows”.  The following comes from the Examiner

After executive amnesty was blocked in the courts and in the House the last two days, President Obama used his weekly radio address to ridicule House Republicans for blocking a vote on immigration reform, while promising that he would keep up the fight for undocumented immigrants.

“I’m going to keep doing everything I can to make our immigration system more just and more fair,” Obama said. “Last fall, I took action to provide more resources for border security; focus enforcement on the real threats to our security; modernize the legal immigration system for workers, employers and students; and bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can get right with the law.”

“Some folks are still fighting against these actions,” Obama said, without directly naming the legal hurdles his executive actions face. “I’m going to keep fighting for them. Because the law is on our side. It’s the right thing to do. And it will make America stronger.”

And if Obama has his way, this is only just the beginning.

I have previously written about the devastating impact that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will have on our economy, but did you know that this secret new treaty that Obama is negotiating will also allow for the free flow of people within the Asia-Pacific region?  The following comes from WND

The European Union was founded on “four freedoms”: the free flow of people, goods, money and services among members. We learned at a recent White House press conference the Trans-Pacific Partnership will ensure “people, goods and money will flow freely within the Asia Pacific region.”

So what does that mean?

Will immigrants be able to move around the nations that are involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership as freely as they do in the European Union today?  Mexico is one of the countries that will be a part of this new treaty.  Does that mean that people will now “flow freely” between our two nations?

We have seen it time and time again – once Obama is blocked one way, he just comes back and tries to advance his agenda another way.  When he promised to “fundamentally transform” this country, I don’t think that most people had any idea of what we would really be in for.

At this point, many regard Barack Obama as a “lame duck” president that is on his way out.

I don’t see it like that at all.  In fact, I believe that the most tumultuous time of Obama’s presidency is still to come.

Do you agree?  Tell us what you think the remainder of Obama’s time in the White House will look like by leaving a comment below…

Why Is The EU Forcing European Nations To Adopt ‘Bail-In’ Legislation By The End Of The Summer?

Question Smiley - Public DomainAre they expecting something to happen?  As you will read about below, the European Union says that any nation within the EU that does not enact “bail-in” legislation within the next two months will face legal action.  The countries that are being threatened in this manner include Italy and France.  If you fast forward two months from this moment, that puts us in early August.  So clearly the European Union wants everything to be squared away by the end of the summer.  Is there a reason for this?  Are they anticipating that something really bad will happen in September or thereafter?  Why such a rush?

We all remember what happened when major banks were “bailed out” during the last financial crisis.  A tremendous amount of taxpayer money was given to the big banks to help prop them up so they wouldn’t fail.  This greatly upset a lot of people.

Well, when the next great financial crisis hits Europe, banks are not going to get “bailed out” this time.  Instead, we are going to see “bail-ins”.

So precisely what is a “bail-in”?  Essentially, what happens is that wealth is transferred from the “stakeholders” in the bank to the bank itself in order to keep it solvent.  That means that creditors and shareholders could potentially lose everything if a major bank in Europe fails.  And if their “contributions” are not enough to save the bank, those holding private bank accounts will have to take “haircuts” just like we saw in Cyprus.  In fact, the travesty that we witnessed in Cyprus is being used as a “template” for much of the new legislation that is being enacted all over Europe.

The bottom line is that not a single bank account in the European Union will ever be truly safe again.

By this time, everyone in the EU was already supposed to have enacted “bail-in” legislation, but some countries in Europe have been dragging their feet.  So now the European Commission (the executive body of the European Union) is giving them a hard deadline.  According to Reuters, any nation that has not passed “bail-in” legislation within two months will be subject to legal action…

The European Commission on Thursday gave France, Italy and nine other EU countries two months to adopt new EU rules on propping up failed banks or face legal action.

The rules, known as the bank recovery and resolution directive (BRRD), seek to shield taxpayers from having to bail out troubled lenders, forcing creditors and shareholders to contribute to the rescue in a process known as “bail-in”.

So which countries are being threatened?

It turns out that there are 11 of them.  The following comes from Mark O’Byrne

The article “EU regulators tell 11 countries to adopt bank bail-in rules” reported how 11 countries are under pressure from the EC and had yet “to fall in line”. The countries were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France and Italy.

France and Italy are two countries who are regarded as having particularly fragile banking systems.

But why only two months to get this done?

When I was in law school, I took an entire course on European Union law.  Normally, things in Europe take a very long time to get done.  It is out of character for the European Commission to rush to get something like this done so quickly.

Could they be anticipating that this legislation will need to be put into use very soon?

What we do know is that bonds in Europe have already been crashing, and it appears that the European Central Bank is starting to lose control over European financial markets.

And we also know that there has been a sustained bank run in Greece.  In fact, it is being reported that 700 million euros were pulled out of Greek banks on Friday alone.  Personally, I think that anyone that still has any money in Greek banks is absolutely insane.  Some day in the not too distant future, Greek bank account holders are going to be in for a “haircut” just like we saw in Cyprus.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

While the Greek government believes it may have won the battle, if not the war with Europe, the reality is that every additional day in which Athens does not have a funding backstop, be it the ECB (or the BRIC bank), is a day which brings the local banking system to total collapse.

As a reminder, Greek banks already depends on the ECB for some €80.7 billion in Emergency Liquidity Assistance which was about 60% of total deposits in the Greek financial system as of April 30. In other words, they are woefully insolvent and only the day to day generosity of the ECB prevents a roughly 40% forced “bail in” deposit haircut a la Cyprus.

But of course Greece will only be just the beginning.  In the end, I expect major banks to fail all over Europe as we head into the greatest financial crisis that Europe has ever seen.  Bank account holders all over the continent could end up having to take “haircuts”, and that would just make the coming deflationary cycle in Europe a lot worse.

And I actually expect events in Europe to start accelerating greatly by the end of this calendar year.  Apparently the top dogs in the European Union are also concerned about the immediate future, because they are rushing to get “bail-in” legislation passed in every nation in the EU by the end of the summer.

Fortunately, the United States has not moved in a similar direction – at least not yet.  It is always possible that during an “emergency situation” anything can happen.  We saw that in Cyprus.  But for the moment, European bank accounts appear to be more vulnerable than U.S. bank accounts.

Not that any of us should have much confidence in the major banks in the United States either.  Since the end of the last financial crisis they have become more reckless than ever.  At this point, the six largest banks in this country collectively have 278 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.  A day is coming when the “too big to fail” banks will actually start failing, and that will absolutely cripple our economy.

We are moving into a time of great financial instability.  During such a time, one of the keys will be to not have all of your eggs in one basket.  That way it will be more difficult for your wealth to be wiped out by a single event.

So what other advice would you give to people that are wondering how to deal with the coming global banking crisis?  Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

40 Volcanoes Are Erupting Right Now, And 34 Of Them Are Along The Ring Of Fire

Volcano Erupting - Public DomainYou may not have noticed, but our planet is becoming increasingly unstable.  According to Volcano Discovery, 40 volcanoes around the globe are erupting right now, and only 6 of them are not along the Ring of Fire.  If that sounds like a very high number to you, that is because it is a very high number.  As I have written about previously, there were a total of 3,542 volcanic eruptions during the entire 20th century.  When you divide that number by 100, that gives you an average of about 35 volcanic eruptions per year.  So the number of volcanoes that are erupting right now is well above the 20th century’s average for an entire calendar year.  And of course we are witnessing a tremendous amount of earthquake activity as well.  Nepal was just hit by the worst earthquake that it had seen in 80 years, and scientists are telling us that the Himalayas actually dropped by an astounding 3 feet as a result of that one earthquake.  How much more does our planet have to shake before people start paying attention?

Of course the things that we have been seeing lately are part of a much larger long-term trend.  Seismic activity appears to have been getting stronger over the past few decades, and now things really seem to be accelerating.  The following is how one news source recently summarized what we have been witnessing…

If it seems like earthquakes and erupting volcanoes are happening more frequently, that’s because they are. Looking at global magnitude six (M6) or greater from 1980 to 1989 there was an average of 108.5 earthquakes per year, from 2000 to 2009 the planet averaged 160.9 earthquakes per year: that is a 38.9% increase of M6+ earthquakes in recent years. Unrest also seems to be growing among the world’s super-volcanoes. Iceland (which is home to some of the most dangerous volcanoes on the planet), Santorini in Greece, Uturuncu in Bolivia, the Yellowstone and Long Valley calderas in the U.S., Laguna del Maule in Chile, Italy’s Campi Flegrei – almost all of the world’s active super-volcanic systems are now exhibiting some signs of inflation, an early indication that pressure is building in these volcanic systems.

But of course most Americans are never going to care about any of this until it starts affecting them personally.

Well, perhaps they should start paying attention to the warning signs.  In recent weeks we have seen significant earthquakes in Michigan, Texas, Mississippi, California, Idaho And Washington.  In addition, it is being reported that pressure is building in dormant volcanoes in Arizona and California.  Just because we have not had a killer earthquake or a large volcanic eruption in the U.S. in recent years does not mean that it will always be that way.  Right now the entire planet appears to be waking up, and this especially seems to be true of the Ring of Fire.

If you are not familiar with the Ring of Fire, just imagine a giant ring that runs around the outer perimeter of the Pacific Ocean.  Approximately 90 percent of all earthquakes and approximately 75 percent of all volcanic eruptions occur within this area, and the entire west coast of North America is considered to be part of the Ring of Fire.

For so long, the west coast has been incredibly blessed not to have experienced a major seismic event.  But scientists tell us that it is only a matter of time.

And right now, just about every other part of the Ring of Fire is shaking violently.

For example, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake just hit Japan on Wednesday

A magnitude-6.8 earthquake that shook northeast Japan on Wednesday was an aftershock of the devastating 2011 quake that triggered a massive tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown.

“We consider this morning’s earthquake to be an aftershock of the 2011 Northeastern Pacific Earthquake,” said Yohei Hasegawa, an official at the Japanese meteorological agency.

The temblor, which struck just after 6 a.m. local time (5 p.m. ET Tuesday), was sparked by the Pacific tectonic plate “subducting,” or moving under, the main land plate, he added.

Hasegawa warned that more tremors may be on the way.

One Japanese expert is warning that Japan “might have entered an era of great earthquakes and volcanic eruptions“, and considering the immense devastation that the great earthquake and tsunami of 2011 caused, that is a very sobering assessment.

Meanwhile, a series of very strong earthquakes have struck Papua New Guinea recently as well.  The following comes from the Washington Post

A powerful earthquake rattled Papua New Guinea on Thursday, the fourth strong quake to hit the South Pacific island nation in a week. The temblor prompted officials to issue a local tsunami warning, but it was lifted shortly afterward with no reports of damage.

The 7.1-magnitude quake struck about 150 kilometers (94 miles) southwest of the town of Panguna on Bougainville Island at a depth of 23 kilometers (14 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

Once again, just because things have always been a certain way does not mean that they will always be that way.

As Americans, we are not accustomed to being concerned about major earthquakes and massive volcanic eruptions, but that could soon change in a big way.

The truth is that our planet and our sun are changing in ways that are unpredictable and that our scientists don’t completely understand.

For example, a recent LiveScience article discussed the fact that scientists are deeply puzzled by the fact that the magnetic field of our planet is getting weaker 10 times faster than previously believed…

Scientists already know that magnetic north shifts. Once every few hundred thousand years the magnetic poles flip so that a compass would point south instead of north. While changes in magnetic field strength are part of this normal flipping cycle, data from Swarm have shown the field is starting to weaken faster than in the past. Previously, researchers estimated the field was weakening about 5 percent per century, but the new data revealed the field is actually weakening at 5 percent per decade, or 10 times faster than thought. As such, rather than the full flip occurring in about 2,000 years, as was predicted, the new data suggest it could happen sooner.

And in a previous article, I discussed how one scientist has discovered that activity on the sun is declining at a faster pace “than at any time in the last 9300 years” right now.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers for why these things are happening, but clearly some very unusual things are taking place.

So what do you think?

Do you believe that you know why our planet and our sun are experiencing such dramatic changes?

Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

The Greatest Water Crisis In The History Of The United States

US Drought Monitor May 5 2015What are we going to do once all the water is gone?  Thanks to the worst drought in more than 1,000 years, the western third of the country is facing the greatest water crisis that the United States has ever seen.  Lake Mead is now the lowest that it has ever been since the Hoover Dam was finished in the 1930s, mandatory water restrictions have already been implemented in the state of California, and there are already widespread reports of people stealing water in some of the worst hit areas.  But this is just the beginning.  Right now, in a desperate attempt to maintain somewhat “normal” levels of activity, water is being pumped out of the ground in the western half of the nation at an absolutely staggering pace.  Once that irreplaceable groundwater is gone, that is when the real crisis will begin.  If this multi-year drought stretches on and becomes the “megadrought” that a lot of scientists are now warning about, life as we know it in much of the country is going to be fundamentally transformed and millions of Americans may be forced to find somewhere else to live.

Simply put, this is not a normal drought.  What the western half of the nation is experiencing right now is highly unusual.  In fact, scientists tell us that California has not seen anything quite like this in at least 1,200 years

Analyzing tree rings that date back to 800 A.D. — a time when Vikings were marauding Europe and the Chinese were inventing gunpowder — there is no three-year period when California’s rainfall has been as low and its temperatures as hot as they have been from 2012 to 2014, the researchers found.

Much of the state of California was once a desert, and much of it is now turning back into a desert.  The same thing can also be said about much of Arizona and much of Nevada.  We never really should have built massive, sprawling cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix in the middle of the desert.  But the 20th century was the wettest century for western North America in about 1,000 years, and we got lulled into a false sense of security.

At this point, the water level in Lake Mead has hit a brand new record low, and authorities are warning that official water rationing could soon begin for both Arizona and Nevada…

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US, has hit its lowest level ever. Feeding California, Nevada and Arizona, it can hold a mind-boggling 35 cubic kilometres of water. But it has been many years since it was at capacity, and the situation is only getting worse.

“We’re only at 38 percent full. Lake Mead hasn’t been this low since we were filling it in the 1930s,” said a spokeswoman for the US Bureau of Reclamation in Las Vegas.

If it gets much lower – and with summer approaching and a dwindling snowpack available to replenish it, that looks likely – official rationing will begin for Arizona and Nevada.

And did you know that the once mighty Colorado River no longer even reaches the ocean?  Over 40 million people depend upon this one river, and because the Colorado is slowly dying an enormous amount of water is being pumped out of the ground in a crazed attempt to carry on with business as usual

The Colorado River currently supplies water to more than 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles (as well as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe—none of which lie directly on the river). According to one recent study, 16 million jobs and $1.4 trillion in annual economic activity across the West depend on the Colorado. As the river dries up, farmers and cities have turned to pumping groundwater. In just the last 10 years, the Colorado Basin has lost 15.6 cubic miles of subsurface freshwater, an amount researchers called “shocking.” Once an official shortage is declared, Arizona farmers will increase their rate of pumping even further, to blunt the effect of an anticipated sharp cutback.

The same kind of thing is going on in the middle part of the country.  Farmers are pumping water out of the rapidly shrinking Ogallala Aquifer so fast that a major crisis in the years ahead is virtually guaranteed

Farther east, the Ogallala Aquifer under the High Plains is also shrinking because of too much demand. When the Dust Bowl overtook the Great Plains in the 1930s, the Ogallala had been discovered only recently, and for the most part it wasn’t tapped then to help ease the drought. But large-scale center-pivot irrigation transformed crop production on the plains after World War II, allowing water-thirsty crops like corn and alfalfa for feeding livestock.

But severe drought threatens the southern plains again, and water is being unsustainably drawn from the southern Ogallala Aquifer. The northern Ogallala, found near the surface in Nebraska, is replenished by surface runoff from rivers originating in the Rockies. But farther south in Texas and New Mexico, water lies hundreds of feet below the surface, and does not recharge. Sandra Postel wrote here last month that the Ogallala Aquifer water level in the Texas Panhandle has dropped by up to 15 feet in the past decade, with more than three-quarters of that loss having come during the drought of the past five years. A recent Kansas State University study said that if farmers in Kansas keep irrigating at present rates, 69 percent of the Ogallala Aquifer will be gone in 50 years.

At one time, most of us took water completely for granted.

But now that it is becoming “the new oil”, people are starting to look at water much differently.  Sadly, this even includes thieves

With the state of California mired in its fourth year of drought and a mandatory 25 percent reduction in water usage in place, reports of water theft have become common.

In April, The Associated Press reported that huge amounts of water went missing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and a state investigation was launched. The delta is a vital body of water, serving 23 million Californians as well as millions of farm acres, according to the Association for California Water Agencies.

The AP reported in February that a number of homeowners in Modesto, California, were fined $1,500 for allegedly taking water from a canal. In another instance, thieves in the town of North San Juan stole hundreds of gallons of water from a fire department tank.

In case you are wondering, of course this emerging water crisis is going to deeply affect our food supply.  More than 40 percent of all our fruits and vegetables are grown in the state of California, so this drought is going to end up hitting all of us in the wallet one way or another.

And this water crisis is not the only major threat that our food supply is facing at the moment.  A horrific outbreak of the bird flu has already killed more than 20 million turkeys and chickens, and the price of eggs has already gone up substantially

The cost of a carton of large eggs in the Midwest has jumped nearly 17 percent to $1.39 a dozen from $1.19 since mid-April when the virus began appearing in Iowa’s chicken flocks and farmers culled their flocks to contain any spread.

A much bigger increase has emerged in the eggs used as ingredients in processed products like cake mix and mayonnaise, which account for the majority of what Iowa produces. Those eggs have jumped 63 percent to $1.03 a dozen from 63 cents in the last three weeks, said Rick Brown, senior vice president of Urner Barry, a commodity market analysis firm.

Most of us are accustomed to thinking of the United States as a land of seemingly endless resources, but now we are really starting to bump up against some of our limitations.

Despite all of our technology, the truth is that we are still exceedingly dependent on the weather patterns that produce rain and snow for us.

For years, I have been warning that Dust Bowl conditions would be returning to the western half of the country, and thanks to this multi-year drought we can now see it slowly happening all around us.

And if this drought continues to stretch on, things are going to get worse than this.

Much worse.

Major U.S. Retailers Are Closing More Than 6,000 Stores

Closed - Public DomainIf the U.S. economy really is improving, then why are big U.S. retailers permanently shutting down thousands of stores?  The “retail apocalypse” that I have written about so frequently appears to be accelerating.  As you will see below, major U.S. retailers have announced that they are closing more than 6,000 locations, but economic conditions in this country are still fairly stable.  So if this is happening already, what are things going to look like once the next recession strikes?  For a long time, I have been pointing to 2015 as a major “turning point” for the U.S. economy, and I still feel that way.  And since I started The Economic Collapse Blog at the end of 2009, I have never seen as many indications that we are headed into another major economic downturn as I do right now.  If retailers are closing this many stores already, what are our malls and shopping centers going to look like a few years from now?

The list below comes from information compiled by About.com, but I have only included major retailers that have announced plans to close at least 10 stores.  Most of these closures will take place this year, but in some instances the closures are scheduled to be phased in over a number of years.  As you can see, the number of stores that are being permanently shut down is absolutely staggering…

180 Abercrombie & Fitch (by 2015)

75 Aeropostale (through January 2015)

150 American Eagle Outfitters (through 2017)

223 Barnes & Noble (through 2023)

265 Body Central / Body Shop

66 Bottom Dollar Food

25 Build-A-Bear (through 2015)

32 C. Wonder

21 Cache

120 Chico’s (through 2017)

200 Children’s Place (through 2017)

17 Christopher & Banks

70 Coach (fiscal 2015)

70 Coco’s /Carrows

300 Deb Shops

92 Delia’s

340 Dollar Tree/Family Dollar

39 Einstein Bros. Bagels

50 Express (through 2015)

31 Frederick’s of Hollywood

50 Fresh & Easy Grocey Stores

14 Friendly’s

65 Future Shop (Best Buy Canada)

54 Golf Galaxy (by 2016)

50 Guess (through 2015)

26 Gymboree

40 JCPenney

127 Jones New York Outlet

10 Just Baked

28 Kate Spade Saturday & Jack Spade

14 Macy’s

400 Office Depot/Office Max (by 2016)

63 Pep Boys (“in the coming years”)

100 Pier One (by 2017)

20 Pick ’n Save (by 2017)

1,784 Radio Shack

13 Ruby Tuesday

77 Sears

10 SpartanNash Grocery Stores

55 Staples (2015)

133 Target, Canada (bankruptcy)

31 Tiger Direct

200 Walgreens (by 2017)

10 West Marine

338 Wet Seal

80 Wolverine World Wide (2015 – Stride Rite & Keds)

So why is this happening?

Without a doubt, Internet retailing is taking a huge toll on brick and mortar stores, and this is a trend that is not going to end any time soon.

But as Thad Beversdorf has pointed out, we have also seen a stunning decline in true discretionary consumer spending over the past six months…

What we find is that over the past 6 months we had a tremendous drop in true discretionary consumer spending. Within the overall downtrend we do see a bit of a rally in February but quite ominously that rally failed and the bottom absolutely fell out. Again the importance is it confirms the fundamental theory that consumer spending is showing the initial signs of a severe pull back. A worrying signal to be certain as we would expect this pull back to begin impacting other areas of consumer spending. The reason is that American consumers typically do not voluntarily pull back like that on spending but do so because they have run out of credit. And if credit is running thin it will surely be felt in all spending.

The truth is that middle class U.S. consumers are tapped out.  Most families are just scraping by financially from month to month.  For most Americans, there simply is not a whole lot of extra money left over to go shopping with these days.

In fact, at this point approximately one out of every four Americans spend at least half of their incomes just on rent

More than one in four Americans are spending at least half of their family income on rent – leaving little money left to purchase groceries, buy clothing or put gas in the car, new figures have revealed.

A staggering 11.25 million households consume 50 percent or more of their income on housing and utilities, according to an analysis of Census data by nonprofit firm, Enterprise Community Partners.

And 1.8 million of these households spend at least 70 percent of their paychecks on rent.

The surging cost of rental housing has affected a rising number of families since the Great Recession hit in 2007. Officials define housing costs in excess of 30 percent of income as burdensome.

For decades, the U.S. economy was powered by a free spending middle class that had plenty of discretionary income to throw around.  But now that the middle class is being systematically destroyed, that paradigm is changing.  Americans families simply do not have the same resources that they once did, and that spells big trouble for retailers.

As you read this article, the United States still has more retail space per person than any other nation on the planet.  But as stores close by the thousands, “space available” signs are going to be popping up everywhere.  This is especially going to be true in poor and lower middle class neighborhoods.  Especially after what we just witnessed in Baltimore, many retailers are not going to hesitate to shut down underperforming locations in impoverished areas.

And remember, the next major economic crisis has not even arrived yet.  Once it does, the business environment in this country is going to change dramatically, and a few years from now America is going to look far different than it does right now.

 

16 Signs That The Economy Has Stalled Out And The Next Economic Downturn Is Here

Get Prepared NowIf U.S. economic growth falls any lower, we are officially going to be in recession territory.  On Wednesday, we learned that U.S. GDP grew at a 0.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2015.  That was much lower than all of the “experts” were projecting.  And of course there are all sorts of questions whether the GDP numbers the government feeds us are legitimate anyway.  According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if honest numbers were used they would show that U.S. GDP growth has been continuously negative since 2005.  But even if we consider the number that the government has given us to be the “real” number, it still shows that the U.S. economy has stalled out.  It is almost as if we have hit a “turning point”, and there are many out there (including myself) that believe that the next major economic downturn is dead ahead.  As you will see in this article, a whole bunch of things are happening right now that we would expect to see if a recession was beginning.  The following are 16 signs that the economy has stalled out and the next economic downturn is here…

#1 We just learned that U.S. GDP grew at an anemic 0.2 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2015…

The gross domestic product grew between January and March at an annualized rate of 0.2 percent, the U.S. Commerce Department said, adding to the picture of an economy braking sharply after accelerating for much of last year. The pace fell well shy of the 1 percent mark anticipated by analysts and marked the weakest quarter in a year.

#2 If you strip a very unusual inventory buildup out of the GDP number, U.S. GDP would have actually fallen at a -2.5 percent annual rate during the first quarter…

The only good news: the massive inventory build, the largest since 2010, boosted GDP by nearly 3.0%. Without this epic stockpiling of non-farm inventory which will have to be liquidated at some point (and at a very low price) Q1 GDP would have been -2.5%.

#3 Our trade deficit with the rest of the planet is absolutely killing our economic growth.  According to the Reality Chek Blog, U.S. economic growth would have been a total of 8 percent higher since the end of the last recession if we actually had balanced trade with other nations…

As of the new first quarter figures, the worsening of the trade deficit has reduced the cumulative real growth of the U.S. economy by 7.99 percent since the current recovery began in the second quarter of 2009.

#4 According to numbers that were just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in one out of every five American families nobody has a job.  So how in the world can the “unemployment rate” be sitting at “5.5 percent” when everyone is unemployed in 20 percent of all families in the United States?  It doesn’t make any sense.

#5 The rate of homeownership in the United States has just hit a brand new 25 year low.  How can anyone claim that the middle class is “healthy” when the percentage of Americans that own a home is the lowest that it has been in more than two decades?

#6 Back in 2013, 31 percent of all Americans said that they did not anticipate buying a home “for the foreseeable future”.  Just two years later, that number has risen to 41 percent.

#7 The student loan bubble is clearly bursting.  According to Bloomberg, only 37 percent of all student loan borrowers are actually up to date on their payments and reducing their balances…

With borrowers increasingly struggling to repay their student loans, Moody’s Investors Service is warning it may take investors longer than promised to get their money back. The credit grader said this month it may lower rankings on $3 billion of top-rated debt as investors face the threat of slowing principal payments or even receiving no interest.

The concern underscores the fallout from a record $1.2 trillion in U.S. student loans that’s spreading to everything from the housing market and consumer spending to taxpayers. As a sluggish economic recovery forces borrowers to miss payments or tap relief programs, only 37 percent are current and reducing their balances, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York presentation this month.

#8 Procter & Gamble has announced that it will be cutting up to 6,000 more jobs from their payroll.  Why would they be doing this if the economy is “getting better”?

#9 McDonald’s plans to permanently shut down 700 “poorly performing” restaurants over the course of 2015.  Why would they be doing this if the economy is “getting better”?

#10 It is being projected that half of all fracking companies in the United States will be either “dead or sold” by the end of 2015.

#11 Retail sales in the U.S. have not dropped this rapidly since the last recession.

#12 Wholesale sales in the U.S. have not dropped this rapidly since the last recession.

#13 Factory orders in the U.S. have not dropped this rapidly since the last recession.

#14 Credit requests are being declined at a rate that we haven’t seen since the last recession.

#15 U.S. export growth has gone negative for the first time since the last recession.

#16 As the U.S. economy begins to head into another downturn, most Americans are completely unprepared for it.  In fact, one recent survey discovered that 62 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.

Don’t let this next recession take you by surprise.

Back in 2008 and 2009, millions of Americans suddenly lost their jobs or businesses because of the sharp economic downturn.  Because most of them were living paycheck to paycheck, all of a sudden a whole lot of Americans could not make their mortgage payments and foreclosures surged to unprecedented heights.  Millions of families that thought they were operating on a solid foundation saw their middle class lifestyles evaporate in just a matter of a few months.

That is why it is so vital to prepare yourself financially, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually for the great storm that is coming ahead of time.  Over the past couple of years, I have been working on a new book entitled “Get Prepared Now” which talks about how to make these preparations.  On Wednesday, it was finally released to the public.  I hope that you will check it out.

The past few years have been a period of relative stability for the U.S. economy.  A lot of people have been lulled into a false sense of security during that time.  These people have become convinced that our problems have been fixed.  But they haven’t been fixed at all.  In fact, our problems are far, far worse than they were just prior to the last financial crisis.

When the next great financial crisis strikes, we are going to see a spike in the suicide rate just like we did during the last one.  Millions will be blindsided by what is coming and will give in to depression and despair.  But that doesn’t have to happen to you.  It is empowering to know what is coming and to understand why it is coming.  It is empowering to get prepared in advance for turbulent times.  It is empowering to have a plan for the years ahead.

Even though I write about all of the horrible things that are coming to this country every day, I live my life with no fear, and that is what I want for all of you as well.

Do you want to know who will be giving in to fear and panic when things start to go really crazy?

It will be the people that had no idea what was coming and made no preparations whatsoever.

Yes, the times ahead are going to be extremely challenging, but they can also be the best times of your life.

It is all going to come down to how you respond to a world that is going completely insane.

The choice is up to you.

 

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