The Beginning Of The End
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12 Numbers About The Global Financial Ponzi Scheme That Should Be Burned Into Your Brain

Brain - Public DomainThe numbers that you are about to see are likely to shock you.  They prove that the global financial Ponzi scheme is far more extensive than most people would ever dare to imagine.  As you will see below, the total amount of debt in the world is now more than three times greater than global GDP.  In other words, you could take every single good and service produced on the entire planet this year, next year and the year after that and it still would not be enough to pay off all the debt.  But even that number pales in comparison to the exposure that big global banks have to derivatives contracts.  It is hard to put into words how reckless they have been.  At the low end of the estimates, the total exposure that global banks have to derivatives contracts is 710 trillion dollars.  That is an amount of money that is almost unimaginable.  And the reality of the matter is that there is really not all that much actual “money” in circulation today.  In fact, as you will read about below, there is only a little bit more than a trillion dollars of U.S. currency that you can actually hold in your hands in existence.  If we all went out and tried to close our bank accounts and investment portfolios all at once, that would create a major league crisis.  The truth is that our financial system is little more than a giant pyramid scheme that is based on debt and paper promises.  It is literally a miracle that it has survived for so long without collapsing already.

When Americans think about the financial crisis that we are facing, the largest number that they usually can think of is the size of the U.S. national debt.  And at over 17 trillion dollars, it truly is massive.  But it is actually the 2nd-smallest number on the list below.  The following are 12 numbers about the global financial Ponzi scheme that should be burned into your brain…

-$1,280,000,000,000 – Most people are really surprised when they hear this number.  Right now, there is only 1.28 trillion dollars worth of U.S. currency floating around out there.

-$17,555,165,805,212.27 – This is the size of the U.S. national debt.  It has grown by more than 10 trillion dollars over the past ten years.

-$32,000,000,000,000 – This is the total amount of money that the global elite have stashed in offshore banks (that we know about).

-$48,611,684,000,000 – This is the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts.

-$59,398,590,000,000 – This is the total amount of debt (government, corporate, consumer, etc.) in the U.S. financial system.  40 years ago, this number was just a little bit above 2 trillion dollars.

-$70,088,625,000,000 – This is the total exposure that JPMorgan Chase has to derivatives contracts.

-$71,830,000,000,000 – This is the approximate size of the GDP of the entire world.

-$75,000,000,000,000 – This is approximately the total exposure that German banking giant Deutsche Bank has to derivatives contracts.

-$100,000,000,000,000 – This is the total amount of government debt in the entire world.  This amount has grown by $30 trillion just since mid-2007.

-$223,300,000,000,000 – This is the approximate size of the total amount of debt in the entire world.

-$236,637,271,000,000 – According to the U.S. government, this is the total exposure that the top 25 banks in the United States have to derivatives contracts.  But those banks only have total assets of about 9.4 trillion dollars combined.  In other words, the exposure of our largest banks to derivatives outweighs their total assets by a ratio of about 25 to 1.

-$710,000,000,000,000 to $1,500,000,000,000,000 – The estimates of the total notional value of all global derivatives contracts generally fall within this range.  At the high end of the range, the ratio of derivatives exposure to global GDP is about 21 to 1.

Most people tend to assume that the “authorities” have fixed whatever caused the financial world to almost end back in 2008, but that is not the case at all.

In fact, the total amount of government debt around the globe has grown by about 40 percent since then, and the “too big to fail banks” have collectively gotten 37 percent larger since then.

Our “authorities” didn’t fix anything.  All they did was reinflate the bubble and kick the can down the road for a little while.

I don’t know how anyone can take an honest look at the numbers and not come to the conclusion that this is completely and totally unsustainable.

How much debt can the global financial system take before it utterly collapses?

How recklessly can the big banks behave before the house of cards that they have constructed implodes underneath them?

For the moment, everything seems fine.  Stock markets around the world have been setting record highs and credit is flowing like wine.

But at some point a day of reckoning is coming, and when it arrives it is going to be the most painful financial crisis the world has ever seen.

If you plan on getting ready before it strikes, now is the time to do so.

A Quadrillion Yen And Counting – The Japanese Debt Bomb Could Set Off Global Panic At Any Moment

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, JapanHow much is 1,000,000,000,000,000 yen worth?  Well, a quadrillion yen is worth approximately 10.5 trillion dollars.  It is an amount of money that is larger than the “the economies of Germany, France and the U.K. combined“.  It is such an astounding amount of debt that it is hard to even get your mind around it.  The government debt to GDP ratio in Japan will reach 247 percent this year, and the Japanese currently spend about 50 percent of all central government tax revenue on debt service.  Realistically, there are only two ways out of this overwhelming debt trap for the Japanese.  Either they default or they try to inflate the debt away.  At this point, the Japanese have chosen to try to inflate the debt away.  They have initiated the greatest quantitative easing experiment that a major industrialized nation has attempted since the days of the Weimar Republic.  Over the next two years, the Bank of Japan plans to zap 60 trillion yen into existence out of thin air and use it to buy government bonds.  By the time this program is over, the monetary base in Japan will have approximately doubled.  But authorities in Japan are desperate.  They know that the Japanese debt bomb could set off global panic at any time, and they are trying to find a way out that will not cause too much pain.

Unfortunately, the only way that this bizarre quantitative easing program will work is if investors in Japanese bonds act very, very irrationally.  You see, the only way that Japan has been able to pile up this much debt in the first place is because they have been able to borrow gigantic piles of money at super low interest rates.

Right now, the yield on 10 year Japanese bonds is sitting at an absurdly low 0.76%.  But even with such ridiculously low interest rates, the central government of Japan is still spending about half of all tax revenue on debt service.

If interest rates go up, the game is over.

But now that the Japanese government has announced that it plans to double the monetary base, it would be extremely irrational for investors not to demand higher rates on Japanese government debt.  After all, why would you want to loan money to the Japanese government for less than one percent a year when the purchasing power of your money could potentially be halved over the next two years?

Amazingly, this is exactly what the Japanese government is counting on.  They are counting on being able to wildly print up money and monetize debt, but also keep yields on Japanese bonds at insanely low levels at the same time.

For the moment, it is actually working.  Investors in Japanese bonds are behaving very, very irrationally.

But if that changes at some point, we could potentially be looking at the greatest Asian economic crisis of all time.

And there are some very sharp minds out there that believe that is exactly what is going to happen.

For example, the founder of Hayman Capital Management, Kyle Bass, has been sounding the alarm about Japan for a long time.  He correctly predicted the subprime mortgage meltdown, and in the process he made hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients.  Now he believes that the next major crash is going to be in Japan.

According to Bass, the bond bubble in Japan is so large that once it begins to implode fear is going to start spreading like wildfire…

Remember, Japanese banks in general have 900% of their tangible assets invested in JGBs that are the most negatively convex instrument you can put into a portfolio. Assume for instance that a bank holds a 10 year bond yielding 80 basis points. A 100 basis point move will cost the JGB investor about 10 years of expected interest payments.

Think about the psychology of all the players and financial implications if rates do move 100 basis points. Think about the solvency of a nation which currently spends 50% of its central government tax revenues on debt service, half of which earns the lowest yields of any country in the world.

You can’t look at this as a simple question. You need to think about this as a multivariate equation. You have to think about the incentives and the fears of all the participants. And you need to think about the fiscal sustainability of the government.

If rates even rise by a full percentage point, it could start a stampede toward the exits that nobody in the entire world would be able to control…

I ran a survey of 1,009 Japanese investors where we asked: “If rates were to move up 100 basis points, would that engender more confidence and make you want to buy more JGBs?” or, “Would you take your money elsewhere, even if it were hamstringing your government’s ability to operate?” 8 – 9% of respondents that said that they would buy more bonds and almost 80% said they would run, not walk the other way.

For much more on this, you can watch a video of Kyle Bass discussing why Japan is doomed right here.

And of course Japan is not the only “debt bomb” that could potentially go off over in Asia.  As I mentioned in another article, the major problem over in China is the level of private debt…

In China, the big problem is the absolutely stunning growth of private domestic debt.  According to a recent World Bank report, the total amount of credit in China has risen from 9 trillion dollars in 2008 to 23 trillion dollars today.

That increase is roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. commercial banking system.

There is simply way, way too much debt in our world today.  Never before has there been so much red ink all over the planet at the same time.

Many in the mainstream media insist that this party can go on indefinitely.

But that is what they said about the housing bubble too.

Sadly, the truth is that every financial bubble eventually bursts, and this global debt bubble will be no exception.

I hope that you are getting prepared while you still can.

40 Stats That Prove The U.S. Economy Has Already Been Collapsing Over The Past Decade

40The “coming economic collapse” has already been happening.  You see, the truth is that the economic collapse is not a single event.  It has already started, it is happening right now, and it will accelerate during the years ahead.  The statistics in this article show very clearly that the U.S. economy has fallen dramatically over the past ten years or so.  Unfortunately, there are lots of mockers out there that love to mock the idea of an economic collapse even though one is happening right in front of our eyes.  They love to say stuff like this (and I am paraphrasing): “An economic collapse is never going to happen.  We can consume far more wealth than we produce forever.  We can pile up gigantic mountains of debt forever.  There is no way that the party is over.  In fact, the party is just getting started.  Woo-hoo!”  That sounds absolutely ridiculous, but “economists” and “journalists” actually write things that reflect these kinds of sentiments every single day.  They do not seem alarmed about the fact that our national debt is nearly 17 times larger than it was 30 years ago.  They do not seem alarmed about the fact that the total amount of debt in our country is more than 28 times larger than it was 40 years ago.  They do not seem alarmed about the fact that our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted and we are steadily becoming poorer as a nation.  They just think that the magic formula of print, borrow, spend and consume can go on indefinitely.  Unfortunately, the truth is that a massive economic disaster has already started to unfold.  We inherited the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, but we totally wrecked it.  We have been able to live far, far beyond our means for the last couple of decades thanks to the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet, but now that debt bubble is getting ready to burst.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see what is coming.  Just open your eyes and look at the facts.  The following are 40 stats that prove the U.S. economy has already been collapsing over the past decade…

#1 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.

#2 The United States was once ranked #1 in the world in GDP per capita.  Today we have slipped to #14.

#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#4 Since the year 2000, the size of the U.S. national debt has grown by more than 11 trillion dollars.

#5 Back in the year 2000, our trade deficit with China was 83 billion dollars.  Last year, it was 315 billion dollars.

#6 In the year 2000, about 17 million Americans were employed in manufacturing.  Today, only about 12 million Americans are employed in manufacturing.

#7 The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

#8 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#9 Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.

#10 Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Today, China’s high-tech exports are more than twice the size of U.S. high-tech exports.

#11 In 2002, the United States had a trade deficit in “advanced technology products” of $16 billion with the rest of the world.  In 2010, that number skyrocketed to $82 billion.

#12 The United States has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#13 The number of full-time workers in the United States is nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.

#14 The average duration of unemployment in the United States is nearly three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.

#15 Throughout the year 2000, more than 64 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.7 percent of all working age Americans have a job.

#16 The official unemployment rate has been at 7.5 percent or higher for 54 months in a row.  That is the longest stretch in U.S. history.

#17 The U.S. government says that the number of Americans “not in the labor force” rose by 17.9 million between 2000 and 2011.  During the entire decade of the 1980s, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” rose by only 1.7 million.

#18 The average number of hours worked per employed person per year has fallen by about 100 since the year 2000.

#19 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#20 The U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the recent recession.

#21 The percentage of Americans that are self-employed has steadily declined over the past decade and is now at an all-time low.

#22 According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration

Bush Sr.: 11.3

Clinton: 11.2

Bush Jr.: 10.8

Obama: 7.8

#23 In the year 2000, there were only 17 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps.

#24 In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent.  Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.

#25 Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen from $1.85 to $3.64.

#26 More than twice as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2013.

#27 Right now there are 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#28 The price of ground beef increased by 61 percent between 2002 and 2012.

#29 According to USA Today, water bills have actually tripled over the past 12 years in some areas of the country.

#30 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#31 Median household income in the United States has fallen for four years in a row.

#32 As I mentioned recently, the homeownership rate in America is now at its lowest level in nearly 18 years.

#33 Back in the year 2000, the mortgage delinquency rate was about 2 percent.  Today, it is nearly 10 percent.

#34 Median household income for families with children dropped by a whopping $6,300 between 2001 and 2011.

#35 Back in 2007, about 28 percent of all working families were considered to be among “the working poor”.  Today, that number is up to 32 percent even though our politicians tell us that the economy is supposedly recovering.

#36 According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of families in the United States declined “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.

#37 According to the New York Times, the average debt burden for U.S. households that earn $20,000 a year or less “more than doubled to $26,000 between 2001 and 2010“.

#38 Medicare spending increased by 138 percent between 1999 and 2010.

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

#40 Today, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  This is the first time that has ever happened in our history.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

Are there any other items that you would add to this list?  Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…

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Farewell Bernanke – Thanks For Inflating The Biggest Bond Bubble The World Has Ever Seen

Barack Obama And Ben BernankeFederal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is on the way out the door, but the consequences of the bond bubble that he has helped to create will stay with us for a very, very long time.  During Bernanke’s tenure, interest rates on U.S. Treasuries have fallen to record lows.  This has enabled the U.S. government to pile up an extraordinary amount of debt.  During his tenure we have also seen mortgage rates fall to record lows.  All of this has helped to spur economic activity in the short-term, but what happens when interest rates start going back to normal?  If the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rises to just 6 percent, the U.S. government will suddenly be paying out a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.  And remember, there have been times in the past when the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt has been much higher than that.  In addition, when the U.S. government starts having to pay more to borrow money so will everyone else.  What will that do to home sales and car sales?  And of course we all remember what happened to adjustable rate mortgages when interest rates started to rise just prior to the last recession.  We have gotten ourselves into a position where the U.S. economy simply cannot afford for interest rates to go up.  We have become addicted to the cheap money made available by a grossly distorted financial system, and we have Ben Bernanke to thank for that.  The Federal Reserve is at the very heart of the economic problems that we are facing in America, and this time is certainly no exception.

This week Barack Obama publicly praised Ben Bernanke and stated that Bernanke has “already stayed a lot longer than he wanted” as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  Bernanke’s term ends on January 31st, but many observers believe that he could leave even sooner than that.  Bernanke appears to be tired of the job and eager to move on.

So who would replace him?  Well, the mainstream media is making it sound like the appointment of Janet Yellen is already a forgone conclusion.  She would be the first woman ever to chair the Federal Reserve, and her philosophy is that a little bit of inflation is good for an economy.  It seems likely that she would continue to take us down the path that Bernanke has taken us.

But is it a fundamentally sound path?  Keeping interest rates pressed to the floor and wildly printing money may be producing some positive results in the short-term, but the crazy bubble that this is creating will burst at some point.  In fact, the director of financial stability for the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, recently admitted that the central bankers have “intentionally blown the biggest government bond bubble in history” and he warned about what might happen once it ends…

“If I were to single out what for me would be biggest risk to global financial stability right now it would be a disorderly reversion in the yields of government bonds globally.” he said. There had been “shades of that” in recent weeks as government bond yields have edged higher amid talk that central banks, particularly the US Federal Reserve, will start to reduce its stimulus.

“Let’s be clear. We’ve intentionally blown the biggest government bond bubble in history,” Haldane said. “We need to be vigilant to the consequences of that bubble deflating more quickly than [we] might otherwise have wanted.”

Posted below is a chart that demonstrates how interest rates on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds have fallen over the last several decades.  This has helped to fuel the false prosperity that we have been enjoying, but there is no way that the U.S. government should have been able to borrow money so cheaply.  This bubble that we are living in now is setting the stage for a very, very painful adjustment…

Interest Rate On 10 Year U.S. Treasuries

So what will that “adjustment” look like?

The following analysis is from a recent article by Wolf Richter

Ten-year Treasury notes have been kicked down from their historic pedestal last July when some poor souls, blinded by the Fed’s halo of omnipotence and benevolence, bought them at a minuscule yield of 1.3%. For them, it’s been an ice-cold shower ever since. As Treasuries dropped, yields meandered upward in fits and starts. After a five-week jump from 1.88% in early May, they hit 2.29% on Tuesday last week – they’ve retreated to 2.19% since then. Now investors are wondering out loud what would happen if ten-year Treasury yields were to return to more normal levels of 4% or even 5%, dragging other long-term interest rates with them. They know what would happen: carnage!

And according to Richter, there are already signs that the bond bubble is beginning to burst…

Wholesale dumping of Treasuries by exasperated foreigners has already commenced. Private foreigners dumped $30.8 billion in Treasuries in April, an all-time record. Official holders got rid of $23.7 billion in long-term Treasury debt, the highest since November 2008, and $30.1 billion in short-term debt. Sell, sell, sell!

Bond fund redemptions spoke of fear and loathing: in the week ended June 12, investors yanked $14.5 billion out of Treasury bond funds, the second highest ever, beating the prior second-highest-ever outflow of $12.5 billion of the week before. They were inferior only to the October 2008 massacre as chaos descended upon financial markets. $27 billion in two weeks!

In lockstep, average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates jumped from 3.59% in early May to 4.15% last week. The mortgage refinancing bubble, by which banks have creamed off billions in fees, is imploding – the index has plunged 36% since early May.

If interest rates start to climb significantly, that will have a dramatic affect on economic activity in the United States.

And we have seen this pattern before.

As Robert Wenzel noted in a recent article on the Economic Policy Journal, we saw interest rates rise suddenly just prior to the October 1987 stock market crash, and we also saw them rise substantially prior to the financial crisis of 2008…

As Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker left the Fed chairmanship in August 1987, the interest rate on the 10 year note climbed from 8.2% to 9.2% between June 1987 and September 1987. This was followed, of course by the October 1987 stock market crash.

As Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan left the Fed chairmanship at the end of January 2006, the interest rate on the 10 year note climbed from 4.35% to 4.65%. It then climbed above 5%.

So keep a close eye on interest rates in the months ahead.  If they start to rise significantly, that will be a red flag.

And it makes perfect sense why Bernanke is looking to hand over the reins of the Fed at this point.  He can probably sense the carnage that is coming and he wants to get out of Dodge while he still can.

12 Things That Just Happened That Show The Next Wave Of The Economic Collapse Is Almost Here

12 Things That Just Happened That Show The Next Wave Of The Economic Collapse Is Almost HereAre we running out of time?  For the last several years, we have been living in a false bubble of hope that has been fueled by massive amounts of debt and bailout money.  This illusion of economic stability has convinced most people that the great economic crisis of 2008 was just an “aberration” and that now things are back to normal.  Unfortunately, that is not the case at all.  The truth is that the financial crash of 2008 was just the first wave of our economic troubles.  We have not even come close to recovering from that wave, and the next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.  Our economy is like a giant sand castle that has been built on a foundation of debt and toilet paper currency.  As each wave of the crisis hits us, the solutions that our leaders will present to us will involve even more debt and even more money printing.  And each time, those “solutions” will only make our problems even worse.  Right now, events are unfolding in Europe and in the United States that are pushing us toward the next major crisis moment.  I sincerely hope that we have some more time before the next crisis overwhelms us, but as you will see, time is rapidly running out.

The following are 12 things that just happened that show the next wave of the economic collapse is almost here…

#1 According to TrimTab’s CEO Charles Biderman, corporate insider purchases of stock have hit an all-time low, and the ratio of corporate insider selling to corporate insider buying has now reached an astounding 50 to 1….

While retail is being told to buy-buy-buy, Biderman exclaims that “insiders at U.S. companies have bought the least amount of shares in any one month,” and that the ratio of insider selling to buying is now 50-to-1 – a monthly record.

#2 On Friday we learned that personal income in the United States experienced its largest one month decline in 20 years

Personal income decreased by $505.5 billion in January, or 3.6%, compared to December (on a seasonally adjusted and annualized basis). That’s the most dramatic decline since January 1993, according to the Commerce Department.

#3 In a stunning move, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says that he will appoint an emergency financial manager to take care of Detroit’s financial affairs…

Snyder, 54, took a step he avoided a year ago, empowering an emergency financial manager who can sweep aside union contracts, sell municipal assets, restructure services and reorder finances. He announced the move yesterday at a public meeting in Detroit.

If this does not work, Detroit will almost certainly have to declare bankruptcy.  If that happens, it will be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

#4 On Friday it was announced that the unemployment rate in Italy had risen to 11.7 percent.  That was a huge jump from 11.3 percent the previous month, and Italy now has the highest unemployment rate that it has experienced in 21 years.

#5 The youth unemployment rate in Italy has risen to a new all-time record high of 38.7 percent.

#6 On Friday it was announced that the unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole had just hit a brand new record high of 11.9 percent.

#7 On Friday it was announced that the unemployment rate in Greece has now reached 27 percent, and it is being projected that it will reach 30 percent by the end of the year.

#8 The youth unemployment rate in Greece is now an almost unbelievable 59.4 percent.

#9 On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of protesters filled the streets of Lisbon and other Portuguese cities to protest the austerity measures that are being imposed upon them.  It was reportedly the largest protest in the history of Portugal.

#10 According to Goldman Sachs, bank deposits declined all over Europe during the month of January.

#11 Over the weekend, the deputy governor of China’s central bank declared that China is prepared for a “currency war“…

A top Chinese banker said Beijing is “fully prepared” for a currency war as he urged the world to abide by a consensus reached by the G20 to avert confrontation, state media reported on Saturday.

Yi Gang, deputy governor of China’s central bank, issued the call after G20 finance ministers last month moved to calm fears of a looming war on the currency markets at a meeting in Moscow.

Those fears have largely been fuelled by the recent steep decline in the Japanese yen, which critics have accused Tokyo of manipulating to give its manufacturers a competitive edge in key export markets over Asian rivals.

#12 Italy is an economic basket case at this point, and the political gridlock in Italy is certainly not helping matters.  Former comedian Beppe Grillo’s party could potentially tip the balance of power one way or the other in Italy, and over the weekend he made some comments that are really shaking things up over in Europe.  For one thing, he is suggesting that Italy should hold a referendum on the euro…

“I am a strong advocate of Europe. I am in favor of an online referendum on the euro,” Beppe Grillo told Bild am Sonntag.

Such a vote would not be legally binding in Italy, where referendums can only be used to repeal laws or parts of laws, but would carry political weight. Grillo has said in the past that membership of the euro should be up to the Italian people.

In addition, Grillo is also suggesting that Italy’s debt has gotten so large that renegotiation is the only option…

In an interview with a German magazine published on Saturday, Mr Grillo said that “if conditions do not change” Italy “will want” to leave the euro and return to its former national currency.

The 64-year-old comic-turned-political activist also said Italy needs to renegotiate its €2 trillion debt.

At 127 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), it is the highest in the euro zone after Greece.

“Right now we are being crushed, not by the euro, but by our debt. When the interest payments reach €100 billion a year, we’re dead. There’s no alternative,” he told Focus, a weekly news magazine.

He said Italy was in such dire economic straits that “in six months, we will no longer be able to pay pensions and the wages of public employees.”

And of course government debt has taken center stage in the United States as well.

The sequester cuts have now gone into effect, and they will definitely have an effect on the U.S. economy.  Of course that effect will not be nearly as dramatic as many Democrats are suggesting, but without a doubt those cuts will cause the U.S. economy to slow down a bit.

And of course the U.S. economy has already been showing plenty of signs of slowing down lately.  If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “Consumer Spending Drought: 16 Signs That The Middle Class Is Running Out Of Money“.

So what comes next?

Well, everyone should keep watching Europe very closely, and it will also be important to keep an eye on Wall Street.  There are a whole bunch of indications that the stock market is at or near a peak.  For example, just check out what one prominent stock market analyst recently had to say

“Every reliable technical tool is warning of major peaking action,” said Walter Zimmerman, the senior technical analyst at United-ICAP. “This includes sentiment, momentum, classical chart patterns, and Elliott wave analysis.

“Most of the rally in the stock market since 2009 can be chalked up to the Federal Reserve’s attempt to create a ‘wealth effect’ through higher stock market prices. This only exacerbates the downside risk. Why? The stock market no is longer a lead indicator for the economy. It is instead reflecting  Fed manipulation. Pushing the stock market higher while the real economy languishes has resulted in another bubble.

“The next leg down will not be a partial correction of the advance since the 2009 lows. It will be another major financial crisis. The worst is yet to come.”

Sadly, most people will continue to deny that anything is wrong until it is far too late.

Many areas of Europe are already experiencing economic depression, and it is only a matter of time before the U.S. follows suit.

Time is running out, and I hope that you are getting ready.

So what do you think?

How much time do you believe that we have left before the next wave of the economic collapse strikes?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Jeff Rowley Big Wave Surfer wipeout Photo Jaws Peahi by Xvolution Media

Will The Bottom Fall Out? 15 Signs That Layoffs And Job Losses Are Skyrocketing

If you still have a good job, you might want to hold on to it very tightly because there are a whole bunch of signs that unemployment in the United States is about to start getting worse again.  Over the past several weeks, a substantial number of large corporations have announced disappointing earnings for the third quarter.  Many of those large corporations are also loaded up with huge amounts of debt.  So what is the solution?  Well, the favorite solution on Wall Street these days seems to be to lay off workers.  In fact, it is almost turning into a feeding frenzy.  Since September 1st, we have seen more job cuts announced than during any other two month period since the start of 2010.  These announcements represent future layoffs and job losses which are not even showing up in the unemployment numbers yet.  So needless to say, things don’t look very promising for the end of 2012 or for the beginning of 2013.  If this race to eliminate jobs becomes a stampede, will we see the bottom fall out of the employment market?

If you are concerned about whether or not you will still have a job 12 months from now, you might find the numbers posted below to be quite alarming.  We have not seen layoff announcements come this fast and this furious since the gloomy days of the last recession.

According to Bloomberg, job cuts are well ahead of the pace set last year…

North American companies have announced plans to eliminate more than 62,600 positions at home and abroad since Sept. 1, the biggest two-month drop since the start of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Firings total 158,100 so far this year, more than the 129,000 job cuts in the same period in 2011.

So what happens if the economy really starts sliding rapidly and this loss of jobs becomes an avalanche?

Can the U.S. economy and the American people handle another major economic downturn?

Some of the biggest names in the business world have announced job cuts in recent weeks.  The following are 15 signs that layoffs and job losses are skyrocketing…

1. Dow Chemical has announced that it will be closing about 20 plants and will be letting about 2,400 workers go.

2. Colgate-Palmolive has announced that they will be eliminating about 2,300 jobs.

3. DuPont has announced plans to eliminate about 1,500 jobs.

4. Ford has announced that it will be eliminating 6,200 jobs and will be reducing production capacity in Europe by 18 percent.

5. Hewlett-Packard announced last month that they plan to eliminate 29,000 jobs.

6. Chip maker AMD has announced that they will be getting rid of about 15 percent of their workers.

7. Sony has announced plans to reduce their workforce by about 2,000 workers.

8. Electronics manufacturer Sharp reportedly plans to eliminate 11,000 jobs.

9. Engine maker Cummins Inc. has announced that they plan to get rid of about 1,500 jobs by the end of 2012.

10. Earlier this month Applied Materials announced a plan that will eliminate up to 1,300 jobs.

11. Zynga (known for making video games for Facebook such as FarmVille) has announced that they are reducing their workforce by about 5 percent.

12. Lattice Semiconductor has announced plans to eliminate about 13 percent of their jobs.

13. Alcatel-Lucent recently announced a plan to eliminate more than 5000 jobs all over the globe.

14. Siemens AG has announced that the number of positions being eliminated may reach 10,000 by the end of the year.

15. Banking giant UBS plans to eliminate up to 5,000 jobs.

Please keep in mind that these job cuts do not show up in the unemployment numbers yet.  When big corporations announce the elimination of jobs, it often takes a while before those job losses actually take place.

Sadly, I believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I am convinced that the layoffs and the job losses are going to get a lot worse.

In fact, 2013 is already shaping up to be a very difficult year for the economy no matter how the election turns out.

Those of you that read my articles regularly already know that our economic system is becoming increasingly unstable.  We could literally plunge into another major recession at any moment.

Not that we need any more economic trouble.  Tens of millions of American families are having to fight tooth and nail just to make it from month to month right now.

There aren’t enough jobs and the middle class is rapidly shrinking.  Even if you do have a job, that does not mean that you are doing okay.  About a quarter of all jobs do not even pay enough to lift a family of four above the poverty level, and entry level wages for those with just a high school education have been steadily declining over the past 40 years.  If you doubt this, just check out this chart.

So what is going to happen if we do have another avalanche of job losses like we saw back in 2008 and 2009?

Will even more of us end up dependent on the government?

We are told that we are in the midst of an “economic recovery”, but the number of Americans that are dependent on the government just continues to soar.  In fact, at this point it is at an all-time high.

If the economy is getting better, then why does the number of Americans on food stamps just keep going up?  To get an idea of just how massive the food stamp program has become, just check out this infographic.

One of the most frightening things about the possibility of another major economic downturn is the loss of hope that it could bring.

At this point, most Americans still believe that things will get better eventually.

But what is going to happen when large segments of our population lose all hope?

How desperate will they become?

When people become desperate, they tend to do desperate things.

Just check out what happened to a family down in Woodstock, Georgia the other day.  They had just lost their home to foreclosure, and they were getting ready to move out.  So they posted an ad on Craigslist for people to come over and get some things that they were planning to get rid of.  What happened next is a glimpse into the kind of desperate behavior that we may see during the next major economic downturn…

Their online post was just a well-meaning ad for a giveaway in their driveway outside the small house, a giveaway scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

But big crowds showed up and ended up taking practically everything inside the house, too.

Wednesday night, Michael Vercher walked 11Alive’s Jon Shirek through his family’s almost empty soon-to-be former home.

“Well, when we got to the house, I mean, pretty much — this,” he said as he stepped from the foyer into the living room.

Their home — ransacked, ravaged, raked over.

Almost everything inside — gone.

My wife and I once used Craigslist quite a bit, but incidents like this make one question the wisdom of inviting strangers to come to your home.

Sadly, the truth is that society is rapidly decaying, and the worse unemployment becomes the more desperate people are going to get.

So what do you think about all of this?

Do you have any stories that you would like to share?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

55 Facts About The Debt And U.S. Government Finances That Every American Voter Should Know

The future of the United States of America is being systematically destroyed by our politicians, but unfortunately most Americans don’t really grasp exactly what is happening.  30 years ago, our national debt had just crossed the one trillion dollar mark.  Just recently, it crossed the 16 trillion dollar mark.  Prior to every election, politicians from both parties swear up and down that they will do something about our exploding debt, but it never happens.  Once again this year, our politicians are making all kinds of grand promises about getting U.S. government finances under control.  But they are also promising all kinds of new plans and programs which are going to cost a lot more money on top of what we are already spending.  For the average American, all of this can be incredibly confusing.  That is why I have put together a list of facts about the debt and U.S. government finances below.  These are things that every voter should know.  The federal government is stealing more than a trillion dollars a year from our children and our grandchildren, and they are spending that money in some of the most foolish ways that you could ever imagine.  We have accumulated the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world, but our politicians just can’t help themselves – they appear to be absolutely addicted to spending money.  If we continue on the path that we are currently on, our entire financial system and our entire economy will be destroyed by all of this debt.  Time is running out and urgent action is needed to address this crisis.

Many of our founding fathers attempted to warn us about the dangers of government debt.  For example, Thomas Jefferson once said the following

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

Where would we be today if such an amendment had been added to our Constitution?

How much brighter would our future be if the federal government had been forced to only spend what it took in all these years?

Those are very good questions.

The following are 55 facts about the debt and U.S. government finances that every American voter should know….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#40 When Barack Obama first took office, the U.S. national debt was about 10.6 trillion dollars.  Now it is about 16.2 trillion dollars.  That is an increase of 5.6 trillion dollars in less than 4 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  Time is running out to fix these problems.

21 Facts About America’s Decaying Infrastructure That Will Blow Your Mind

You can tell a lot about a nation by the condition of the infrastructure.  So what does our infrastructure say about us?  It says that we are in a very advanced state of decay.  At this point, much of America is being held together with spit, duct tape and prayers.  Our roads are crumbling and thousands of our bridges look like they could collapse at any moment.  Our power grid is ancient and over a trillion gallons of untreated sewage is leaking from our aging sewer systems each year.  Our airports and our seaports are clogged with far more traffic than they were ever designed to carry.  Approximately a third of all of the dam failures that have taken place in the United States since 1874 have happened during the past decade.  Our national parks and recreation areas have been terribly neglected and our railroads are a bad joke.  Hurricane Katrina showed how vulnerable our levees are, and drinking water systems all over the country are badly outdated.  Sadly, at a time when we could use significant new investment in infrastructure, our spending on infrastructure is actually way down.  Back during the 50s and the 60s, the U.S. was spending between 3 and 4 percent of GDP on infrastructure.  Today, that figure is down to about 2.4 percent.  But of course we don’t have any extra money to spend on infrastructure because of our reckless spending and because of the massive amount of debt that we have accumulated.  While the Obama administration is spending more than half a million dollars to figure out why chimpanzees throw poop, our national infrastructure is literally falling apart all around us.  Once upon a time nobody else on the planet could match our infrastructure, and now we are in the process of becoming a joke to the rest of the world.

The following are 21 facts about America’s failing infrastructure that will blow your mind….

#1 The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s crumbling infrastructure an overall grade of D.

#2 There are simply not enough roads in the United States today.  Each year, traffic jams cost the commuters of America 4.2 billion hours and about 2.8 million gallons of gasoline.

#3 It is being projected that Americans will spend an average of 160 hours stuck in traffic annually by the year 2035.

#4 Approximately one-third of all roads in the United States are in substandard condition.

#5 Close to a third of all highway fatalities are due “to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards.”

#6 One out of every four bridges in America either carries more traffic than originally intended or is in need of repair.

#7 Repairing all of the bridges in the United States that need repair would take approximately 140 billion dollars.

#8 According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, our decaying transportation system costs the U.S. economy about 78 billion dollars annually in lost time and fuel.

#9 All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel roads because they are cheaper to maintain.  The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt roads into gravel roads, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.

#10 There are 4,095 dams in the United States that are at risk of failure.  That number has risen by more than 100 percent since 1999.

#11 Of all the dam failures that have happened in the United States since 1874, a third of them have happened during the past decade.

#12 Close to half of all U.S. households do not have access to bus or rail transit.

#13 Our aging sewer systems spill more than a trillion gallons of untreated sewage every single year.  The cost of cleaning up that sewage each year is estimated to be greater than 50 billion dollars.

#14 It is estimated that rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost the U.S. economy approximately 80 billion dollars a year.

#15 It is being projected that by the year 2020 every single major container port in the United States will be handling at least double the volume that it was originally designed to handle.

#16 All across the United States, conditions at many of our state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best.  Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long….

More than a dozen states estimate that their backlogs are at least $100 million. Massachusetts and New York’s are at least $1 billion. Hawaii officials called park conditions “deplorable” in a December report asking for $50 million per year for five years to tackle a $240 million backlog that covers parks, trails and harbors.

#17 Today, the U.S. spends about 2.4 percent of GDP on infrastructure.  Meanwhile, China spends about 9 percent of GDP on infrastructure.

#18 In the United States today, approximately 16 percent of our construction workers are unemployed.

#19 China has plans to build 55,000 miles of highways by the year 2020.  If all of those roads were put end to end, it would be longer than the total length of the entire U.S. interstate system.

#20 The World Economic Forum ranks U.S. infrastructure 23rd in the world, and we fall a little bit farther behind the rest of the developed world every single day.

#21 It has been projected that it would take 2.2 trillion dollars over the next 5 years just to repair our existing infrastructure.  That does not even include a single penny for badly needed new infrastructure.

So where did we go wrong?

Well, one of the big problems is that we have become a very materialistic society that is obsessed with short-term thinking.  Investing in infrastructure is something that has long-term benefits, but these days Americans tend to only be focused on what is happening right now and most politicians are only focused on the next election cycle.

Another major problem is that there is so much corruption and waste in our system these days.  The government certainly spends more than enough money, but very little of that money is spent wisely.  A lot of the money that could be going toward rebuilding our infrastructure is being poured down the toilet instead.  For much more on this, please read my previous article entitled “16 Sickening Facts That Show How Members Of Congress And Federal Workers Are Living The High Life At Your Expense“.

Unfortunately, it is probably appropriate that our infrastructure is decaying because we are decaying in just about every other way that it is possible for a society to decay.

We are decaying economically, politically, mentally, emotionally, physically, morally and spiritually.

We are a complete and total mess.  So why shouldn’t what is happening to our infrastructure on the outside match what is happening to us as a nation on the inside?

And sadly, we simply do not have the money that we need for infrastructure because of all the debt that we have piled up.  The federal government, our state governments and our local governments are all struggling to stay afloat in an ocean of red ink, and unfortunately that means that spending on infrastructure is likely to be cut even more in the years ahead.

So get used to rotting, crumbling, decaying infrastructure.  What you see out there right now is only just the beginning.

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