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Why Are So Many People Freaking Out About A Stock Market Crash In The Fall Of 2015?

Manhattan Stock Market Crash In 2015 - Public DomainIs the stock market going to crash by the end of 2015?  Of course stock market crashes are already happening in 23 different nations around the planet, but most Americans don’t really care about those markets.  The truth is that what matters to people in this country is the health of their own stock portfolios and retirement accounts.  There are a lot of people out there that are very afraid of what could happen if the money that they have worked so hard to save gets wiped out in a sudden financial collapse.  And right now there is an unprecedented amount of buzz about the potential for a giant stock market crash by the end of this calendar year.  In fact, I don’t think that I have ever seen more experts come out with bold predictions that a stock market crash will happen within a very specific period of time.

The following is a sampling of some of the experts that have made very bold proclamations about the rest of this year over the past few weeks.  Many of these individuals are putting their credibility on the line by proclaiming that a stock market crash is just around the corner…

-Tom McClellan says that we are heading for an “ugly decline” and that there will be “nothing good for bulls for the rest of the year”

Tom McClellan loves doing what financial advisers tell you not to do. He tries to time the financial markets — to the exact day, if his charts align just right.

At the moment, they are telling him to be bullish on the stock market for all of his trading time frames, including those that trade every few days, weeks and months. But bulls should be ready to flee, as soon as this week.

That’s because McClellan said his timing models suggest “THE” top in stocks will be hit some time between Aug. 20 and Aug. 26. He expects “nothing good for the bulls for the rest of the year,” he said in a phone interview with MarketWatch.

McClellan doesn’t have a strong view on how far stocks could fall, just that it will probably be an “ugly decline” lasting into early 2016.

-Harry Dent recently stated that we are just “weeks away” from a “global financial collapse“.

-Gerald Celente says that “the global economy has collapsed” and he is “predicting that we are going to see a global stock market crash before the end of the year“.

-Larry Edelson insists that he is “100% confident” that a global financial crisis will be triggered “within the next few months”…

On October 7, 2015, the first economic supercycle since 1929 will trigger a global financial crisis of epic proportions. It will bring Europe, Japan and the United States to their knees, sending nearly one billion human beings on a roller-coaster ride through hell for the next five years. A ride like no generation has ever seen. I am 100% confident it will hit within the next few months.”

-Jeff Berwick, the editor of the Dollar Vigilante, says that there is “enough going on in September to have me incredibly curious and concerned about what’s going to happen“.

-Egon von Greyerz recently explained that he fears “that this coming September – October all hell will break loose in the world economy and markets“.

-Even the mainstream media is issuing ominous warnings now.  Just a few days ago, one of the most important newspapers in the entire world published a major story about the coming crisis under this headline: “Doomsday clock for global market crash strikes one minute to midnight as central banks lose control“.

-The Bank for International Settlements and the IMF have jumped on the prediction bandwagon as well.  The following comes from a recent piece by Brandon Smith

The BIS warns that the world is currently defenseless against the next market crisis. I would point out that the BIS has a record of predicting economic crashes, including back in 2007 just before the derivatives and credit crisis began. This ability to foresee fiscal disasters is far more likely due to the fact that the BIS is the dominant force in global central banking and is the cause of crisis, rather than merely a predictor of crisis. That is to say, it is easy to predict disasters you yourself are about to initiate.

It is no mistake that the warnings from the BIS and the IMF tend to come too little too late, or that they are beginning to compose cautionary press releases today that sound much like what alternative analysts were saying a few years ago. The goal of these globalist organizations is not to help people prepare, only to set themselves up as Johnny-come-lately prognosticators so that after a collapse they can claim they warned us all, which can then be used as a rationalization for why they are the best people to administrate the economies of the planet as a whole.

So why are so many prominent voices now warning that a global financial crisis is imminent?

The answer is actually very simple.

A global financial crisis is imminent.

Back on June 25th, I issued a red alert for the last six months of 2015 before any of these other guys issued their warnings.

When I first issued my alert, things were still seemingly very calm in the financial world, and a lot of people out there thought that I was nuts.

Well, here we are just a couple of months later and all hell is breaking loose.  23 global stock markets are crashing, the price of oil has been imploding, a new currency war has erupted, industrial commodities are plunging just like they did prior to the market crash of 2008, a full-blown financial crisis has gripped South America with fear, and junk bonds are sending some very ominous signals.

In the U.S., things are beginning to slowly unravel.  The Dow was down another 162 points on Wednesday, and overall we are now down almost 1000 points from the peak of the market.  At this point, it isn’t going to take much to push us into a bear market.

So enjoy what is left of August.

September is right around the corner, and if the experts that I mentioned above are correct, then it is likely to be one wild month.

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…

Warren Buffett: Derivatives Are Still Weapons Of Mass Destruction And ‘Are Likely To Cause Big Trouble’

Nuclear War - Public DomainAfter all these years, the most famous investor in the world still believes that derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction.  And you know what?  He is exactly right.  The next great global financial collapse that so many are warning about is nearly upon us, and when it arrives derivatives are going to play a starring role.  When many people hear the word “derivatives”, they tend to tune out because it is a word that sounds very complicated.  And without a doubt, derivatives can be enormously complex.  But what I try to do is to take complex subjects and break them down into simple terms.  At their core, derivatives represent nothing more than a legalized form of gambling.  A derivative is essentially a bet that something either will or will not happen in the future.  Ultimately, someone will win money and someone will lose money.  There are hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of these bets floating around out there, and one of these days this gigantic time bomb is going to go off and absolutely cripple the entire global financial system.

Back in 2002, legendary investor Warren Buffett shared the following thoughts about derivatives with shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway

The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Central banks and governments have so
far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts. In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.

Those words turned out to be quite prophetic.  Derivatives have definitely multiplied in variety and number since that time, and it has become abundantly clear how toxic they are.  Derivatives played a substantial role in the financial meltdown of 2008, but we still haven’t learned our lessons.  Today, the derivatives bubble is even larger than it was just before the last financial crisis, and it could absolutely devastate the global financial system at any time.

During one recent interview, Buffett was asked if he is still convinced that derivatives are “weapons of mass destruction”.  He told the interviewer that he believes that they are, and that “at some point they are likely to cause big trouble”

Thirteen years after describing derivatives as “weapons of mass destruction” Warren Buffett has reaffirmed his view that they pose a threat to the global economy and financial markets.

In an interview with Chanticleer this week, Buffett said that “at some point they are likely to cause big trouble“.

“Derivatives, lend themselves to huge amounts of speculation,” he said.

Most of the time, the big banks that do most of the trading in these derivatives do very well.  They use extremely sophisticated computer algorithms that help them come out on the winning end of these bets most of the time.

But when there is some sort of unforeseen event that suddenly causes a massive shift in the marketplace, that can cause tremendous problems.  This is something that Buffett discussed during his recent interview

“The problem arises when there is a discontinuity in the market for some reason or another.

“When the markets closed like it was for a few days after 9/11 or in World War I the market was closed for four or five months – anything that disrupts the continuity of the market when you have trillions of dollars of nominal amounts outstanding and no ability to settle up and who knows what happens when the market reopens,” he said.

So if the markets behave fairly calmly and predictably, the derivatives bubble probably will not burst.

But no balancing act of this nature ever lasts forever.  Just remember what happened in 2008.  Lehman Brothers collapsed and then the financial system virtually froze up.  According to Forbes, at that time almost everyone was afraid to deal with the big banks because nobody was quite sure how much exposure they had to these risky derivatives…

Fast forward to the financial meltdown of 2008 and what do we see? America again was celebrating. The economy was booming. Everyone seemed to be getting wealthier, even though the warning signs were everywhere: too much borrowing, foolish investments, greedy banks, regulators asleep at the wheel, politicians eager to promote home-ownership for those who couldn’t afford it, and distinguished analysts openly predicting this could only end badly. And then, when Lehman Bros fell, the financial system froze and world economy almost collapsed. Why?

The root cause wasn’t just the reckless lending and the excessive risk taking. The problem at the core was a lack of transparency. After Lehman’s collapse, no one could understand any particular bank’s risks from derivative trading and so no bank wanted to lend to or trade with any other bank. Because all the big banks’ had been involved to an unknown degree in risky derivative trading, no one could tell whether any particular financial institution might suddenly implode.

After the crisis, we were promised that something would be done about the “too big to fail” problem.

But instead, the problem of “too big to fail” is now larger than ever.

Since the last financial crisis, the four largest banks in the country have gotten approximately 40 percent larger.  Today, the five largest banks account for approximately 42 percent of all loans in the United States, and the six largest banks account for approximately 67 percent of all assets in our financial system.  Without those banks, we would not have much of an economy left at all.

Meanwhile, smaller banks have been going out of business or have been swallowed up by the big banks at a staggering rate.  Incredibly, there are 1,400 fewer small banks in operation today than there were when the last financial crisis erupted.

So we cannot afford for these “too big to fail” banks to actually fail.  Even the failure of a single one would cause a national financial nightmare.  The “too big to fail” banks that I am talking about are JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.  When you total up the exposure to derivatives that all of them currently have, it comes to a grand total of more than 278 trillion dollars.  But when you total up all of the assets of all six banks combined, it only comes to a grand total of about 9.8 trillion dollars.  In other words, the “too big to fail” banks have exposure to derivatives that is more than 28 times the size of their total assets.

I have shared the following numbers with my readers before, but it is absolutely crucial that we all understand how exceedingly vulnerable our financial system really is.  These numbers come directly from the OCC’s most recent quarterly report (see Table 2), and they reveal a recklessness that is almost beyond words…

JPMorgan Chase

Total Assets: $2,573,126,000,000 (about 2.6 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $63,600,246,000,000 (more than 63 trillion dollars)

Citibank

Total Assets: $1,842,530,000,000 (more than 1.8 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $59,951,603,000,000 (more than 59 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $856,301,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $57,312,558,000,000 (more than 57 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $2,106,796,000,000 (a little bit more than 2.1 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $54,224,084,000,000 (more than 54 trillion dollars)

Morgan Stanley

Total Assets: $801,382,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $38,546,879,000,000 (more than 38 trillion dollars)

Wells Fargo

Total Assets: $1,687,155,000,000 (about 1.7 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $5,302,422,000,000 (more than 5 trillion dollars)

Since the United States was first established, the U.S. government has run up a total debt of a bit more than 18 trillion dollars.  It is the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and it has grown so large that it is literally impossible for us to pay it off at this point.

But the top five banks in the list above each have exposure to derivatives that is more than twice the size of the national debt, and several of them have exposure to derivatives that is more than three times the size of the national debt.

That is why I keep saying that there will not be enough money in the entire world to bail everyone out when this derivatives bubble finally implodes.

Warren Buffett is entirely correct about derivatives – they truly are weapons of mass destruction that could destroy the entire global financial system at any time.

So as we move into the second half of this year and beyond, you will want to watch for terms like “derivatives crisis” or “derivatives crash” in news reports.  When derivatives start making front page news, that will be a really, really bad sign.

Our financial system has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the planet.  For the moment, the roulette wheels are still spinning and everyone is happy.  But sooner or later, a “black swan event” will happen that nobody expected, and then all hell will break loose.

The Central Banks Are Losing Control Of The Financial Markets

Dollars And Euros - Public DomainEvery great con game eventually comes to an end.  For years, global central banks have been manipulating the financial marketplace with their monetary voodoo.  Somehow, they have convinced investors around the world to invest tens of trillions of dollars into bonds that provide a return that is way under the real rate of inflation.  For quite a long time I have been insisting that this is highly irrational.  Why would any rational investor want to put money into investments that will make them poorer on a purchasing power basis in the long run?  And when any central bank initiates a policy of “quantitative easing”, any rational investor should immediately start demanding a higher rate of return on the bonds of that nation.  Creating money out of thin air and pumping into the financial system devalues all existing money and creates inflation.  Therefore, rational investors should respond by driving interest rates up.  Instead, central banks told everyone that interest rates would be forced down, and that is precisely what happened.  But now things have shifted.  Investors are starting to behave more rationally and the central banks are starting to lose control of the financial markets, and that is a very bad sign for the rest of 2015.

And of course it isn’t just bond yields that are out of control.  No matter how hard they try, financial authorities in Europe can’t seem to fix the problems in Greece, and the problems in Italy, Spain, Portugal and France just continue to escalate as well.  This week, Greece became the very first nation to miss a payment to the IMF since the 1980s.  We’ll discuss that some more in a moment.

Over in Asia, stocks are fluctuating very wildly.  The Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 5.4 percent on Thursday before regaining all of those losses and actually closing with a gain of 0.8 percent.  When we see this kind of extreme volatility, it is a very bad sign.  It is during times of extreme volatility that markets crash.

Remember, stocks generally tend to go up during calm markets, and they generally tend to go down during choppy markets.  So most investors do not want to see lots of volatility.  Unfortunately, that is precisely what we are witnessing all over the world right now.  The following comes from the Wall Street Journal

Volatility over the last days has been breathtaking, especially in bond markets,” said Wouter Sturkenboom, senior investment strategist at Russell Investments. He said that it rippled through equity and currency markets, which overreacted.

The yield on the benchmark German 10-year bond touched 0.99%, its highest level since September, before erasing the day’s rise and falling back to 0.84%. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield, which hit a fresh 2015 high of 2.42% earlier Thursday, recently fell back to 2.33%. Yields rise as prices fall.

Sometimes when bond yields go up, it is because investors are taking money out of bonds and putting it into stocks because they are feeling really good about where the stock market is heading.  This is not one of those times.  As Peter Tchir has noted, the huge moves in the bond market that we are now seeing are the result of “sheer panic in the market”

In a morning note before the open, Brean Capital’s Peter Tchir wrote: “It is time to reduce US equity holdings for the near term and look for a 3% to 5% move lower. The Treasury weakness is NOT a ‘risk on’ trade it is a ‘risk off’ trade, where low yields are viewed as a risk asset and not a safe haven.” And Tom di Galoma, head of fixed-income rates and credit at ED&F Man Capital Markets, told Bloomberg, “This is sheer panic in the market from the standpoint of what’s been happening in Europe … Most of Wall Street is guarded here as far as taking on new positions.”

But this wasn’t supposed to happen.

After watching the Federal Reserve be able to successfully use quantitative easing to drive down interest rates, the European Central Bank decided to try the same thing.  Unfortunately for them, investors are starting to behave more rationally.  The central banks are starting to lose control of the financial markets, and bond yields are soaring.  I think that Peter Boockvar summarized where we are currently at very well when he stated the following…

I’ve said this before but I’m sorry, I need to say it again. What we are witnessing in global markets is the inherent contradiction writ large that is modern day monetary policy where dangerously ZIRP, NIRP and QE are considered conventional policies. The contradiction is simply this: the desire for higher inflation if fulfilled will result in higher interest rates that central banks are trying so hard and desperately to suppress.

Outside of the short end of the curve, markets will always win for better or worse and that is clearly evident now. The ECB is getting their first taste of the market talking back and in quite the violent way. In the US, the bond market is watching the Fed drag its feet (its never-ending) with wanting to raise interest rates and finally said enough is enough. The US Treasury market is tightening for them. Since mid April, the 5 yr note yield is higher by 40 bps, the 10 yr is up by 55 bps and the 30 yr yield is up by 65 bps.

And if global investors continue to move in a rational direction, this is just the beginning.  Bond yields all over the planet should be much, much higher than they are right now.  What that means is that bond prices potentially have a tremendous amount of room to go down.

One thing that could accelerate the global bond crash is the crisis in Greece. Negotiations between the Greeks and their creditors have been dragging on for four months, and no agreement has been reached.  Now, Greece has missed the loan payment that was due to the IMF on June 5th, and it is asking the IMF to bundle all of the payments that are due this month into one giant payment at the end of June

Greece has asked to bundle its four debt payments to the International Monetary Fund that fall due in June so that it can pay them in one batch at the end of the month, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Thursday.

The request is expected to be approved by the IMF, the newspaper said. That would mean Greece does not have to pay the first tranche of 300 million euros that falls due on Friday.

Greece faces a total bill of 1.5 billion euros owed to the IMF over four installments this month.

Of course that payment will not be made either if a deal does not happen by then.  And with each passing day, a deal seems less and less likely.  At this point, the package of “economic reforms” that the creditors are demanding from Greece is completely unacceptable to Syriza.  The following comes from an article in the Guardian

Fresh from talks in Brussels, Tsipras faced outrage on Thursday from highly skeptical members of his own Syriza party. A five-page ultimatum from creditors, presented by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, was variously described as shocking, provocative, disgraceful and dishonourable.

It will never pass,” said Greece’s deputy social security minister, Dimitris Stratoulis. “If they don’t back down, the country won’t be lost … there are alternatives that would cost less than our signing a disgraceful and dishonourable agreement.”

Ultimately, I don’t believe that we are going to see an agreement.

Why?

Well, I tend to agree with this bit of analysis from Andrew Lilico

The Eurozone does not want to make any compromise with the current Greek government because (a) they don’t believe they need to because Greek threats to leave the euro are empty both because internal polling suggests Greeks don’t want to leave and because if they did leave that doesn’t really constitute any threat to the euro; (b) because they (particularly perhaps Angela Merkel) believe that under enough pressure the Greek government might collapse and be replaced by a more cooperative government, as has happened repeatedly before in the Eurozone crisis including in Italy and Greece itself; and (c) because any deal with Greece that is seen to involve or be presentable as any victory for the Greek government would threaten the political positions of governments in several Eurozone states including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Finland and perhaps even the Netherlands and Germany.

Furthermore, it’s not clear to me that the Eurozone creditors at this stage would have much interest in any deal based upon promises, regardless of how much the Greek had verbally surrendered.  Things have gone too far now for mere words to work.  They would need to see the Greeks deliver actions — tangible economic reforms and tangible, credible primary surplus targets and a sustainable change in the long-term political mood within Greece that meant other Eurozone states might eventually get their money back.  That is almost certainly not doable at all with the current Greek government.  The only deal possible would be with some replacement Greek government that had come in precisely on the basis that it did want to do a deal and did want to pay the creditors back.

On the Syriza side, I see no more appetite for a deal.  They believe that austerity has been ruinous for the lives of Greeks and that decades more austerity would mean decades more Greek economic misery.  From their point of view, default or even exit from the euro, even if economically painful in the short term, would be better than continuing with austerity now.

You can read the rest of his excellent article right here.

Without a deal, the value of the euro is going to absolutely plummet and bond yields over in Europe will go through the roof.  I am fully convinced that this is the beginning of the end for the eurozone as it is currently constituted, and that we stand on the verge of a great European financial crisis.

And of course the financial crisis that is coming won’t just be in Europe.  The global financial system is more interconnected than ever, and there are tens of trillions of dollars in derivatives that are tied to foreign exchange rates and 505 trillion dollars in derivatives that are tied to interest rates.  When this giant house of cards collapses, the central banks won’t be able to stop it.

In the end, could we eventually see the entire central banking system itself totally collapse?

That is what Phoenix Capital Research believes is about to happen…

Last year (2014) will likely go down in history as the “beginning of the end” for the current global Central Banking system.

What will follow will be a gradual unfolding of the next crisis and very likely the collapse of the Central Banking system as we know it.

However, this process will not be fast by any means.

Central Banks and the political elite will fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo, even if this means breaking the law (freezing bank accounts or funds to stop withdrawals) or closing down the markets (the Dow was closed for four and a half months during World War 1).

There will be Crashes and sharp drops in asset prices (20%-30%) here and there. However, history has shown us that when a financial system goes down, the overall process takes take several years, if not longer.

We stand at the precipice of the greatest economic transition that any of us have ever seen.

Even though things may seem very “normal” to most people right now, the truth is that the global financial system is fundamentally flawed, and cracks in the system are starting to appear all over the place.

When this system does collapse, it will take most people entirely by surprise.

But it shouldn’t.

All con games eventually fall apart in the end, and we are about to learn that lesson the hard way.

Is The 505 Trillion Dollar Interest Rate Derivatives Bubble In Imminent Jeopardy?

Bubble In Hands - Public DomainAll over the planet, large banks are massively overexposed to derivatives contracts.  Interest rate derivatives account for the biggest chunk of these derivatives contracts.  According to the Bank for International Settlements, the notional value of all interest rate derivatives contracts outstanding around the globe is a staggering 505 trillion dollars.  Considering the fact that the U.S. national debt is only 18 trillion dollars, that is an amount of money that is almost incomprehensible.  When this derivatives bubble finally bursts, there won’t be enough money in the entire world to bail everyone out.  The key to making sure that all of these interest rate bets do not start going bad is for interest rates to remain stable.  That is why what is going on in Greece right now is so important.  The Greek government has announced that it will default on a loan payment that it owes to the IMF on June 5th.  If that default does indeed happen, Greek bond yields will soar into the stratosphere as panicked investors flee for the exits.  But it won’t just be Greece.  If Greece defaults despite years of intervention by the EU and the IMF, that will be a clear signal to the financial world that no nation in Europe is truly safe.  Bond yields will start spiking in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and all over the rest of the continent.  By the end of it, we could be faced with the greatest interest rate derivatives crisis that any of us have ever seen.

The number one thing that bond investors want is to get their money back.  If a nation like Greece is actually allowed to default after so much time and so much effort has been expended to prop them up, that is really going to spook those that invest in bonds.

At this point, Greece has not gotten any new cash from the EU or the IMF since last August.  The Greek government is essentially flat broke at this point, and once again over the weekend a Greek government official warned that the loan payment that is scheduled to be made to the IMF on June 5th simply will not happen

Greece cannot make debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund next month unless it achieves a deal with creditors, its Interior Minister said on Sunday, the most explicit remarks yet from Athens about the likelihood of default if talks fail.

Shut out of bond markets and with bailout aid locked, cash-strapped Athens has been scraping state coffers to meet debt obligations and to pay wages and pensions. With its future as a member of the 19-nation euro zone potentially at stake, a second government minister accused its international lenders of subjecting it to slow and calculated torture.

After four months of talks with its eurozone partners and the IMF, the leftist-led government is still scrambling for a deal that could release up to 7.2 billion euros ($7.9 billion) in aid to avert bankruptcy.

And it isn’t just the payment on June 5th that won’t happen.  There are three other huge payments due later in June, and without a deal the Greek government will not be making any of those payments either.

It isn’t that Greece is holding back any money.  As the Greek interior minister recently explained during a television interview, the money for the payments just isn’t there

The money won’t be given . . . It isn’t there to be given,” Nikos Voutsis, the interior minister, told the Greek television station Mega.

This crisis can still be avoided if a deal is reached.  But after months of wrangling, things are not looking promising at the moment.  The following comes from CNBC

People who have spoken to Mr Tsipras say he is in dour mood and willing to acknowledge the serious risk of an accident in coming weeks.

“The negotiations are going badly,” said one official in contact with the prime minister. “Germany is playing hard. Even Merkel isn’t as open to helping as before.”

And even if a deal is reached, various national parliaments around Europe are going to have to give it their approval.  According to Business Insider, that may also be difficult…

The finance ministers that make up the Eurogroup will have to get approval from their own national parliaments for any deal, and politicians in the rest of Europe seem less inclined than ever to be lenient.

So what happens if there is no deal by June 5th?

Well, Greece will default and the fun will begin.

In the end, Greece may be forced out of the eurozone entirely and would have to go back to using the drachma.  At this point, even Greek government officials are warning that such a development would be “catastrophic” for Greece…

One possible alternative if talks do not progress is that Greece would leave the common currency and return to the drachma. This would be “catastrophic”, Mr Varoufakis warned, and not just for Greece itself.

“It would be a disaster for everyone involved, it would be a disaster primarily for the Greek social economy, but it would also be the beginning of the end for the common currency project in Europe,” he said.

“Whatever some analysts are saying about firewalls, these firewalls won’t last long once you put and infuse into people’s minds, into investors’ minds, that the eurozone is not indivisible,” he added.

But the bigger story is what it would mean for the rest of Europe.

If Greece is allowed to fail, it would tell bond investors that their money is not truly safe anywhere in Europe and bond yields would start spiking like crazy.  The 505 trillion dollar interest rate derivatives scam is based on the assumption that interest rates will remain fairly stable, and so if interest rates begin flying around all over the place that could rapidly create some gigantic problems in the financial world.

In addition, a Greek default would send the value of the euro absolutely plummeting.  As I have warned so many times before, the euro is headed for parity with the U.S. dollar, and then it is going to go below parity.  And since there are 75 trillion dollars of derivatives that are directly tied to the value of the U.S. dollar, the euro and other major global currencies, that could also create a crisis of unprecedented proportions.

Over the past six years I have written more than 2,000 articles, I have authored two books and I have produced two DVDs.  One of the things that I have really tried to get across to people is that our financial system has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the world.  Big banks all over the planet have become exceedingly reckless, and it is only a matter of time until all of this gambling backfires on them in a massive way.

It isn’t going to take much to topple the current financial order.  It could be a Greek debt default in June or it may be something else.  But when it does collapse, it is going to usher in the greatest economic crisis that any of us have ever seen.

So keep watching Europe.

Things are about to get extremely interesting, and if I am right, this is the start of something big.

Greece Says That It Will Default On June 5th, And Moody’s Warns Of A ‘Deposit Freeze’

Greece Euro - Public DomainThe Greek government says that a “moment of truth” is coming on June 5th.  Either their lenders agree to give them more money by that date, or Greece will default on a 300 million euro loan payment to the IMF.  Of course it won’t technically be a “default” according to IMF rules for another 30 days after that, but without a doubt news that Greece cannot pay will send shockwaves throughout the financial world.  At that point, those holding Greek bonds will start to panic as they realize that they might not get paid as well.  All over Europe, there are major banks that are holding large amounts of Greek debt and derivatives that are related to the performance of Greek debt.  If something is not done to avert disaster at the last moment, a default by Greece could be the spark that sets off a major European financial crisis this summer.

As I discussed the other day, neither the EU nor the IMF have given any money to Greece since August 2014.  So now the Greek government is just about out of money, and without any new loans they will not be able to pay back the old loans that are coming due.  In fact, things are so bad at this point that the Greek government is openly warning that it will default on June 5th

Greece cannot make an upcoming payment to the International Monetary Fund on June 5 unless foreign lenders disburse more aid, a senior ruling party lawmaker said on Wednesday, the latest warning from Athens it is on the verge of default.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s leftist government says it hopes to reach a cash-for-reforms deal in days, although European Union and IMF lenders are more pessimistic and say talks are moving too slowly for that.

Of course this is all part of a very high stakes chess game.  The Greeks believe that the Germans will back down when faced with the prospect of a full blown European financial crisis, and the Germans believe that the Greeks will eventually be feeling so much pain that they will be forced to give in to their demands.

So with each day we get closer and closer to the edge, and the Greeks are trying to do their best to let everyone know that they are not bluffing.  Just today, a spokesperson for the Greek government came out and declared that unless there is a deal by June 5th, the IMF “won’t get any money”

Greek officials now point to a race against the clock to clinch a deal before payments totaling about 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) to the IMF come due next month, starting with a 300 million euro payment on June 5.

“Now is the moment that negotiations are coming to a head. Now is the moment of truth, on June 5,” Nikos Filis, spokesman for the ruling Syriza party’s lawmakers, told ANT1 television.

If there is no deal by then that will address the current funding problem, they won’t get any money,” he said.

But the Germans know that the Greeks desperately need more money and can’t last much longer.  The Greek banking system is so close to collapse that Moody’s just downgraded it again and warned that “there is a high likelihood of an imposition of capital controls and a deposit freeze” in the months ahead…

The outlook for the Greek banking system is negative, primarily reflecting the acute deterioration in Greek banks’ funding and liquidity, says Moody’s Investors Service in a new report published recently. These pressures are unlikely to ease over the next 12-18 months and there is a high likelihood of an imposition of capital controls and a deposit freeze.

The new report: “Banking System Outlook: Greece”, is now available on www.moodys.com. Moody’s subscribers can access this report via the link provided at the end of this press release.

Moody’s notes that significant deposit outflows of more than €30 billion since December 2014 have increased banks’ dependence on central bank funding. In our view, the banks are likely to remain highly dependent on central bank funding, as ongoing uncertainty regarding Greece’s support programme continues to compromise depositors’ confidence.

Unfortunately, when things really start going crazy in Greece people might be faced with much more than just frozen bank accounts.  As I wrote about just a few days ago, there is a very strong possibility that we could actually see Cyprus-style wealth confiscation implemented in Greece when the banks collapse.

In fact, the Greek government is already talking about the possibility of a special tax on banking transactions

Athens is promoting the idea of a special levy on banking transactions at a rate of 0.1-0.2 percent, while the government’s proposal for a two-tier value-added tax – depending on whether the payment is in cash or by card – has met with strong opposition from the country’s creditors.

A senior government official told Kathimerini that among the proposals discussed with the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund is the imposition of a levy on bank transactions, whose exact rate will depend on the exemptions that would apply. The aim is to collect 300-600 million euros on a yearly basis.

Fee won’t include ATM withdrawals, transactions up to EU500; in this case Greek govt projects EU300m-EU600m annual revenue from measure.

Sadly, most people living in North America (which is most of my audience) does not really care much about what happens on the other side of the world.

But they should care.

If Greece defaults and the Greek banking system collapses, stocks and bonds will crash all over Europe.  Many believe that such a crash can be “contained” to just Europe, but that is really just wishful thinking.

In addition, the euro would plummet dramatically, which would cause substantial financial problems all over the planet.  As I recently explained, the euro is headed to parity with the U.S. dollar and then it is going to go below parity.  Before it is all said and done, the euro is going to all-time lows.

Of course the U.S. dollar is eventually going to totally collapse as well, but that comes later and that is a story for another day.

According to the Bank for International Settlements, 74 trillion dollars in derivatives are directly tied to the value of the euro, the value of the U.S. dollar and the value of other global currencies.

So if you believe that what is happening in Greece cannot have massive ramifications for the entire global financial system, you are dead wrong.

What is happening in Greece is exceedingly important, and it is time for all of us to start paying attention.

Are They About To Confiscate Money From Bank Accounts In Greece Just Like They Did In Cyprus?

Euros - Public DomainDo you remember what happened when Cyprus decided to defy the EU?  In the end, the entire banking system of the nation collapsed and money was confiscated from private bank accounts.  Well, the nation of Greece is now approaching a similar endgame.  At this point, the Greek government has not received any money from the EU or the IMF since August 2014.  As you can imagine, that means that Greek government accounts are just about bone dry.  The new Greek government continues to insist that it will never “violate its anti-austerity mandate”, but the screws are tightening.  Right now the unemployment rate in Greece is over 25 percent and the banking system is on the verge of collapse.  It isn’t going to take much to set off a panic, and when it does happen there are already rumors that the EU plans to confiscate money from private bank accounts just like they did in Cyprus.

Throughout this entire multi-year crisis, things have never been this dire for the Greek government.  In fact, Greece came thisclose to defaulting on a loan payment to the IMF back on May 12th.  And with essentially no money remaining at all, the Greek government is supposed to make several large payments in the weeks ahead

Athens barely made its latest payment (May 12) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and it managed to do so only when the government discovered that it could use a reserve account it wasn’t aware of, according to the Greek media.

Kathimerini, a Greek daily newspaper, reports that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wrote to the IMF’s Christine Lagarde warning that Greece would not be able to make that May payment, worth €762 million ($871 million, £554.2 million).

Pension and civil-servant pay packets are due at the end of the month, and based on this news Athens may struggle to pay them. Even if it does manage that, on June 5 the country owes another €305 million to the IMF.

In the two weeks following June 5 there are another three payments, bringing the June total to the IMF to over €1.5 billion.

The Germans and the other financial hawks in the EU are counting on these looming payment deadlines to force Greece into a deal.

Meanwhile, Greek banks also find themselves in very hot water.  Many of them are almost totally out of collateral, and without outside intervention some of them could start collapsing within weeks.  The following comes from Bloomberg

Greek banks are running short on the collateral they need to stay alive, a crisis that could help force Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s hand after weeks of brinkmanship with creditors.

As deposits flee the financial system, lenders use collateral parked at the Greek central bank to tap more and more emergency liquidity every week. In a worst-case scenario, that lifeline will be maxed out within three weeks, pushing banks toward insolvency, some economists say.

“The point where collateral is exhausted is likely to be near,” JPMorgan Chase Bank analysts Malcolm Barr and David Mackie wrote in a note to clients May 15. “Pressures on central government cash flow, pressures on the banking system, and the political timetable are all converging on late May-early June.”

If no agreement is reached, by this time next month Greece could be plunging into a Cyprus-style crisis or worse.

And if that does happen, there are already rumblings that a “Cyprus-style solution” will be imposed.  Just consider what James Turk recently told King World News

The troika of the EU, ECB and IMF have not yet pulled the plug on the Greek banks, but the following quote in the Financial Times from this weekend should be a warning to anyone who still has money on deposit in that country: “The idea of a “Cyprus-like” presentation to Greek authorities has gained traction among some eurozone finance ministers, according to one official involved in the talks.”

The ECB is up to its eyeballs swimming in unpayable Greek debt that it holds. The ECB is not going to take a loss on this Greek paper on its books. Because Greece does not have the financial capacity to repay what is now about €112 billion of credit exposure to Greece on the ECB’s books, the ECB has only two alternatives.

It can push the €112 billion of Greek debt it holds to the national central banks of the Eurozone and on to the backs of the taxpayers in those countries, which it politically untenable. Or it can confiscate depositor money in Greek banks, like it did in Cyprus and as the FT has now reported.

Needless to say, such a move would be likely to set off financial panic all over Europe.

Could we actually see such a thing?

Well, let’s recall that back in April we already saw the Greek government forcibly grab “idle” cash from the bank accounts of regional governments and pension funds.  The following is from a Bloomberg report about that event…

Running out of other options, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ordered local governments and central government entities to move their cash balances to the central bank for investment in short-term state debt.

The decree to confiscate reserves held in commercial banks and transfer them to the Bank of Greece could raise as much as 2 billion euros ($2.15 billion), according to two people familiar with the decision. The money is needed to pay salaries and pensions at the end of the month, the people said.

“It is a politically and institutionally unacceptable decision,” Giorgos Patoulis, mayor of the city of Marousi and president of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece, said in a statement on Monday.“No government to date has dared to touch the money of municipalities.”

Grabbing cash from the bank accounts of private citizens is just one step farther.

And what happened in Cyprus just a couple of years ago is still fresh in the minds of most Greeks.  That is why so many of them have been pulling money out of the banks in recent weeks.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

Greeks remember very well what happened in Cyprus in 2013, when local banks were given a big thumbs-up from Europe to help themselves to their depositors’ accounts. Cyprus and Greece are very closely tied, and many Greeks consider the island a “sister-nation.”

What little trust remained in banks in Greece died that day. People have been nervously looking for signs something similar may happen again in their home country. And they resolved to act at the first sign of danger: banks cannot confiscate money you have under your mattress. Cash can be hidden away.

Let’s certainly hope that what happened in Cyprus does not happen in Greece.

But right now, both sides are counting on the other side to fold.

The Germans believe that at some point the economic and financial pain will become so immense that it will force the new Greek government to give in to their demands.

The Greeks believe that the threat of a full blown European financial crisis will cause the Germans to back down at the last moment.

So what if they are both wrong?

What if both sides are fully prepared to stand their ground and take us over the cliff and into disaster?

For a long time I have been warning that a great financial crisis is coming to Europe.

This could be the spark that sets it off.

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