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The Financial Crisis Of 2016 Rolls On – China, Oil, Copper And Junk Bonds All Continue To Crash

Buy Sell - Public DomainNever before have we seen a year start like this.  On Monday, Chinese stocks crashed once again.  The Shanghai Composite Index plummeted another 5.29 percent, and this comes on the heels of two historic single day crashes last week.  All of this chaos over in China is one of the factors that continues to push commodity prices even lower.  Today the price of copper fell another 2.40 percent to $1.97, and the price of oil continued to implode.  At one point the price of U.S. oil plunged all the way down to $30.99 a barrel before rebounding just a little bit.  As I write this article, oil is down a total of 6.12 percent for the day and is currently sitting at $31.13.  U.S. stocks were mixed on Monday, but it is important to note that the Russell 2000 did officially enter bear market territory.  This is yet another confirmation of what I was talking about yesterday.  And junk bonds continue to plummet.  As I write this, JNK is down to 33.42.  All of these numbers are huge red flags that are screaming that big trouble is ahead.  Unfortunately, the mainstream media continues to insist that there is absolutely nothing to be concerned about.

A little over a year ago, I wrote an article that explained that anyone that believed that low oil prices were good for the economy was “crazy“.  At the time, many people really didn’t understand what I was trying to communicate, but now it is becoming exceedingly clear.  On Monday, one veteran oil and gas analyst told CNBC that “half of U.S. shale oil producers could go bankrupt” over the next couple of years…

Half of U.S. shale oil producers could go bankrupt before the crude market reaches equilibrium, Fadel Gheit, said Monday.

The senior oil and gas analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. said the “new normal oil price” could be 50 to 100 percent above current levels. He ultimately sees crude prices stabilizing near $60, but it could be more than two years before that happens.

By then it will be too late for many marginal U.S. drillers, who must drill into and break up shale rock to release oil and gas through a process called hydraulic fracturing. Fracking is significantly more expensive than extracting oil from conventional wells.

Since the last recession, the energy industry has been the number one producer of good paying jobs in this country.

Now that those firms are starting to drop like flies, what is that going to mean for employment in America?

Just today, a huge coal company filed for bankruptcy, and so did a U.S. unit of commodity trading giant Glencore.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

While the biggest bankruptcy story of the day is this morning’s chapter 11 filing by Arch Coal, one which would trim $4.5 billion in debt from its balance sheet while handing over the bulk of the post-reorg company to its first-lien holders as part of the proposed debt-for-equity exchange, the reality is that the Arch default was widely anticipated by the market.

However, another far less noted and perhaps far more significant bankruptcy filing was that of Sherwin Alumina Co., a U.S. unit of commodity trading giant Glencore PLC, whose troubles have been extensively detailed on these pages. The stated reason for this far more troubling chapter 11 was “challenging market conditions” which is one way to describe an industry in which just one remaining U.S. smelter will be left in operation after Alcoa shut down its Warrick Country smelting ops last week.

A spokesman for Glencore, which owns the entire business, said the commodities producer and trader is “supportive of the restructuring process undertaken by Sherwin and is hopeful of an outcome that will allow for the continued operation of the Sherwin facility.”

We desperately need prices for oil and other commodities to rebound significantly.  Unfortunately, that does appear to be likely to happen any time soon.  In fact, according to CNN we could soon see the price of oil fall quite a bit more…

The strengthening U.S. dollar could send oil plunging to $20 per barrel.

That’s the view of analysts at Morgan Stanley. In a report published Monday, they say a 5% increase in the value of the dollar against a basket of currencies could push oil down by between 10% and 25% — which would mean prices falling by as much as $8 per barrel.

If prices for oil and other commodities keep falling, what is going to happen?

Well, Gina Martin Adams of Wells Fargo Securities says that what is happening right now reminds her of the correction of 1998

Recent market volatility has dredged up memories of previous times of turmoil, most notably the 2008 crisis. But Gina Martin Adams of Wells Fargo Securities has been reminded of another, less dramatic correction year — 1998.

Adams posits that the current economic environment is suffering from themes that also played out in 1998, including falling oil prices, a rising U.S. dollar and troubles in emerging markets. Consequently, stocks may see a similar move to the 1998 correction, which saw a 20 percent drop for stocks over six weeks.

To me, it is much more serious than that.  Just before U.S. stocks crashed horribly in 2008, we saw Chinese stocks crash, the price of oil crashed, commodity prices crashed, and junk bonds crashed really hard.

All of those things are happening again, and yet most of the “experts” continue to refuse to see the warning signs.

In fact, the mainstream media is full of articles that are telling people not to panic while the financial markets crumble all around them…

There’s no need to make big moves in response to the recent volatility. “Regular folks should take on a long-term view and avoid trying to anticipate short-term market movements,” says Stephen Horan, the managing director of credentialing at CFA Institute. “There is almost no evidence to suggest that professionals can do it effectively and a plethora of evidence suggesting individuals do it poorly.”

They want “regular folks” to keep holding on to their investments as the “smart money” dumps their stocks at a staggering pace.

A little more than six months ago, I predicted that “our problems will only be just beginning as we enter 2016”, and that is turning out to be dead on correct.

The financial crisis that began during the second half of last year is greatly accelerating, and yet most of the population continues to be in denial even though the average stock price has already fallen by more than 20 percent.

Hopefully it will not take another 20 percent decline before people begin to wake up.

Crashing: Apple, Twitter, Oil, Commodities, Greek Stocks, Chinese Stocks

Crash - Public DomainThe month of August sure has started off with a bang.  Tech stocks are crashing, oil is crashing, industrial commodities are crashing, Greek stocks crashed the moment that the Greek stock market reopened for trading, and Chinese stocks continue to crash.  At this point we have not seen a broad crash of U.S. stocks yet, but it is important to note that the Dow is already down more than 700 points from the peak in May.  If it continues to slide like it has in recent days, it won’t be too long before we will officially reach “correction” territory.  Just a few days ago, I described August as a “pivotal month“, and so far that is indeed turning out to be the case.

A full-blown financial crisis has not erupted yet, but we are well on the way.  In this article, I want to look at a few of the “crashes” that are already happening…

Apple

This is more of a “correction” than a “crash”, but it is very noteworthy because it is happening to one of the most important U.S. stocks of all.  The price of Apple stock has already broken through the 200 day moving average, and at this point it is down nearly 11 percent from the peak

Shares of Apple are down 10.9% from their highest point in a year — which places the stock squarely in what’s considered to be a correction. The unofficial definition of a correction is a 10% or greater drop from a recent high. Shares of Apple hit a 52-week (and all-time) high on $134.54 on April 28.

Twitter

If you want to see a real crash, just look at what is happening to Twitter.  The stock was down close to 6 percent on Monday, and overall it has fallen 58 percent since early last year.  The price of Twitter stock has never been lower than it is right now, and many investors are very apprehensive about what comes next…

Twitter shares hit a record low on Monday, closing down nearly 6% to $29.27.

That is 58% below their peak in January 2014.

Shares have fallen to their lowest point since the company went public in November 2014 weighed down by negative comments on growth from company executives that rattled investors. Its previous low was $30.50 in May 2014 as concerns over slowing user growth began to take a toll.

Of course there are tech companies that are in far worse shape than Twitter.  For example, just consider what is happening to Yelp.  Shares of Yelp recently plummeted 25 percent in a single day, and they are down about 70 percent over the past year.

Greece

The Greek government was quite eager to reopen their stock market this week.

Perhaps they should have waited longer.

On Monday, we witnessed the greatest stock bloodbath in Greek history.  The following comes from Reuters

Greece’s stock market closed with heavy losses on Monday after a five-week shutdown brought on by fears that the country was about to be dumped from the euro zone.

Bank shares plummeted 30 percent before loss limits kicked in to stop investors selling any more. The main Athens stock index .ATG ended down 16.2 percent, recovering slightly after plunging nearly 23 percent at the open.

It was the worst daily performance since at least 1985 when modern records began, including a 15 percent fall when Wall Street crashed in 1987.

Puerto Rico

Things also continue to unravel for “America’s Greece”.  On Monday, a U.S. commonwealth territory defaulted on debt for the first time ever

Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank announced Monday that it was only able to make a partial payment on its Public Finance Corporation (PFC) debt service due over the weekend.

In response to the non-payment of the full service, Moody’s said it viewed the situation as a default.

“Due to the lack of appropriated funds for this fiscal year the entirety of the PFC payment was not made today (the first business day after the Saturday deadline),” GDB President Melba Acosta-Febo said in a statement. This was a decision that reflects the serious concerns about the Commonwealth’s liquidity in combination with the balance of obligations to our creditors and the equally important obligations to the people of Puerto Rico to ensure the essential services they deserve are maintained.”

China

As I noted the other day, the Shanghai Composite Index declined 13.4 percent during the month of July.  It was the worst month for stocks in China since October 2009.

On Monday, Chinese stocks were down another 1.11 percent.  Since closing at 5,166.35 on June 12th, the Shanghai Composite Index has fallen precipitously.  As I write this, it is sitting at just 3622.86.

Oil

In the months prior to the financial crisis of 2008, the price of oil crashed hard.

Now it is happening again.

In July, the price of oil plunged 21 percent.  That was the worst monthly decline that we have seen since October 2008.

And on Monday, the oil crash continued.  The following comes from Business Insider

On Monday in New York, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell more than 4% and slipped below $45 per barrel, a level it hasn’t touched since March.

Brent crude oil, the international benchmark that joined WTI in a bear market last week, dropped more than 4%, below $50 per barrel for the first time since January.

Commodities

In recent weeks, I have been writing over and over about industrial commodities.  This is yet another striking similarity to the last financial crisis.  In 2008, they started crashing before stocks did, and now it is happening again

We see the Bloomberg Commodities index now at a 13-year low. Copper is down 28 percent for the year, tin is down 30 percent, and nickel is down 44 percent.

This is a giant red flag that indicates that we are plunging into a deflationary cycle.  When global economic activity slows down, so does demand for industrial commodities.  I don’t understand why more people can’t see this.

I have been warning that a deflationary downturn was coming for a very long time, and so have others.  For instance, just consider the following excerpt from a recent article by Nicole Foss

Our consistent theme here at the Automatic Earth since its inception has been that we are facing a very powerful deflationary depression, following on from the bursting of an epic financial bubble. What we have witnessed in our three decades of expansion and inflation is nothing short of a monetary supernova, and that period has been the just culmination of a much larger upward trend going back many decades at least. We have lived through a credit hyper-expansion for the record books, with an unprecedented generation of excess claims to underlying real wealth. In doing so we have created the largest financial departure from reality in human history.

Bubbles are not new – humanity has experienced them periodically going all the way back to antiquity – but the novel aspect of this one, apart from its scale, is its occurrence at a point when we have reached or are reaching so many limits on a global scale. The retrenchment we are about to experience as this bubble bursts is also set to be unprecedented, given that the scale of a bust is predictably proportionate to the scale of the excesses during the boom that precedes it. We have built an incredibly complex economic system, but despite its robust appearance it is over-extended, brittle and fragile after decades of fueling its continued expansion by feeding on its own substance.

Things continue to line up in textbook fashion for a major financial crisis during the fall and winter.

I hope that you are prepared for what comes next.

Not Just Oil: Guess What Happened The Last Time Commodity Prices Crashed Like This?…

Financial Crisis - Public DomainIt isn’t just the price of oil that is collapsing.  The last time commodity prices were this low was during the immediate aftermath of the last financial crisis.  The Bloomberg Commodity Index fell to 110.4571 on Monday – the lowest that it has been since April 2009.  Just like junk bonds, industrial commodities are a very reliable leading indicator.  In other words, prices for industrial commodities usually start to move in a particular direction before the overall economy does.  We witnessed this in the summer of 2008 when a crash in commodity prices preceded the financial crisis in the fall by a couple of months.  And right now, we are witnessing what may be another major collapse in commodity prices.  In recent weeks, the price of copper has declined substantially.  So has the price of iron ore.  So has the price of nickel.  So has the price of aluminum.  You get the idea.  So this isn’t just about oil.  This is a broad-based commodity decline, and if it continues it is really bad news for the U.S. economy.

Of course most Americans would much rather read news stories about Kim Kardashian, but what is happening to the prices of these industrial metals at the moment is actually far more important to their daily lives.  For example, when the price of iron ore goes down that is a strong indication that economic activity is slowing down.  And that is why it is so troubling that the price of iron ore has almost sunk to a five year low.  The following comes from an Australian news source

The price of iron ore has held below $US70 a tonne in overnight trade, leaving its five-year low within reach.

At the end of the latest offshore session, benchmark iron ore for immediate delivery to the port of Tianjin in China was trading at $US69.40 a tonne, down 0.4 per cent from its previous close of $US69.70 a tonne and only 2 per cent above the five-year low of $US68 reached a fortnight ago.

This week’s dip back under $US70 a tonne has followed revised forecasts from JPMorgan that suggest the commodity will average just $US67 a tonne next year, about $US20 below the investment bank’s previous expectation.

Copper is probably an even better economic indicator than iron ore is.  Economists commonly refer to it as “Dr. Copper”, and there is a really good reason for that.  Looking back over history, the price of copper often makes a significant move in one direction or the other before the economy does.  And now that the price of copper just hit the lowest level that we have seen since the last financial crash, alarm bells are going off.  The following comes from an article by CNBC contributor Ron Insana

Copper prices are now below $3 a pound and there’s an expression that “the economy is topped with a copper roof.” More simply put, copper tends to top out in price, before it becomes obvious that, in this case, the global economy is about to weaken.

So is the global economy heading for rough waters?

Could 2015 be a very rough year economically?

According to Insana, the signs are all around us…

We already have evidence that the commodity crash has ominous portents for the rest of the world:

* Japan’s recession is deeper than previously thought.

* China’s demand for basic materials, amid a glut of uneconomic construction projects, appears to be plummeting.

* Russia’s ruble has collapsed and the country is on the brink, if not already in, a recession.

* India’s economic recovery is beginning to look shaky.

* Europe’s growth rate and inflation rate, for the next two years, were just revised downward by the European Central Bank, suggesting that Europe’s economic crisis is far from over. In fact, at least one former European leader with whom I recently spoke, believes the crisis in Europe may just be in its early stages.

* Brazil and other emerging market nations are struggling with a variety of issues, from recessions at home, to the rising value of the dollar, which is complicating how emerging markets conduct economic policies at home, given how closely their currencies are tied to the greenback.

In addition, the Baltic Dry Index is now at the lowest point that we have seen at this time of the year since 2008

Simply put, with collapsing commodity prices (iron ore for instance) and massive fleets of credit-driven mal-investment-based vessels, it should surprise no one that the shipping index just plunged back below 1000, now at its lowest for this time of year since 2008. Furthermore, the seasonal bounce always seen in Q3 was among the weakest ever.

What does all of this mean?

It is commonly said that those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

So many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed leading up to the financial crash of 2008 are happening again.

Unfortunately, very few people saw the last crash coming, and this next crash will take most Americans by surprise as well.

I have written more than 1,200 articles about the economy on my website since 2009, and right now our financial system is more primed for a crash than at any other time since I started The Economic Collapse Blog.

Hopefully we have at least a couple more months of relative stability, but without a doubt 2015 is shaping up to be the most “interesting” year that we have seen in the financial world in a very long time.

All of the signs are there.  But most people choose to believe that everything is going to be okay somehow.  When the next crash comes, those people are going to be absolutely blindsided by it.

When you see storm clouds on the horizon, the logical thing to do is to prepare.  And the number one thing that most people should be working on is an emergency fund.  So don’t be frittering your money away on frivolous things.  In the early stages of this next crisis, you are going to need money to pay the mortgage, to put food on the table and to take care of your family.

Just remember what happened back in 2008.  A lot of middle class families were living on the financial edge every month, and because they didn’t have any cushion to fall back on, millions of those families ended up losing their homes when their jobs disappeared.

You need to have an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of expenses.  You don’t want a job loss or a major emergency to put you into a situation where your family could be put out into the street.

And for those that still have lots of money invested in the stock market – I really hope that you know what you are doing.

The market giveth, and the market taketh away.

And when the market taketh away, the consequences can often be exceedingly cruel.

 

Greece Is Not Poor – It Actually Has Massive Uptapped Reserves Of Gold, Oil And Natural Gas

It turns out that the poster child for the European debt crisis is not actually poor at all.  In fact, the truth is that the nation of Greece is sitting on absolutely massive untapped reserves of gold, oil and natural gas.  If the Greeks were to fully exploit the natural resources that are literally right under their feet, they would no longer have any debt problems.  Fortunately, this recent economic crisis has spurred them to action and it is now being projected that Greece will be the number one gold producer in Europe by 2016.  In addition, Greece is now opening up exploration of their massive oil and natural gas deposits.  Reportedly, Greece is sitting on hundreds of millions of barrels of oil and gigantic natural gas deposits that are worth trillions of dollars.  It is truly sad that Greece should be one of the wealthiest nations in all of Europe but instead the country is going through the worst economic depression that it has experienced in modern history.  It is kind of like a homeless man that sleeps on the streets every night without realizing that a relative has left him an inheritance worth millions of dollars.  Greece is not poor at all, and hopefully the people of Greece can learn the truth about all of this wealth and chart a course out of this current mess.

I have written extensively about the nightmarish economic conditions that Greece is experiencing right now.  Just check out this article, this article and this article.  Since the depression began in Greece, the Greek economy has contracted by more than 20 percent.  In April 2010, the unemployment rate in Greece was only 11.8 percent.  Since then it has skyrocketed to 25.1 percent.

The government debt to GDP ratio in Greece is projected to hit 198 percent this year, and there are persistent rumors that Greece will be forced to leave the euro.

But all of this is completely and totally unnecessary.  Greece is not actually poor at all.  In fact, after you account for untapped natural resources, Greece is actually one of the wealthiest nations in all of Europe.

According to Bloomberg, there is a massive amount of gold in Greece.  This recent economic crisis has accelerated the approval of mining activity, and it is now being projected that Greece will soon be the number one gold producing country in all of Europe…

Gold mining is gathering momentum after Greece began what it called a “fast-track” approvals program. The Canadian and Australian companies said their projects will add about 425,000 ounces by 2016, worth $757 million at the Oct. 5 spot price, to the 16,000 ounces the country produced in 2011.

“There’s clearly evidence that Greece has woken up to the potential of their mining industry,” said Jeremy Wrathall, chairman of Perth-based Glory Resources. “Politicians increasingly realize that a pro-mining stance is appropriate due to job creation potential.”

Greece, which is also fast-tracking state property sales, is set to overtake Finland as the continent’s largest gold producer within four years, as regulators in Athens sign off on mines kept on hold for more than a decade by red tape and environmental rules.

But Greece doesn’t just have gold.  Greece is also swimming in oil and natural gas.  It turns out that Greece is sitting on the western edge of an absolutely mammoth sub-Mediterranean oil and gas field, and there are also huge deposits of oil and natural gas in the western parts of the country.

A Reuters article back in July discussed how foreign firms are now rushing to exploit these tremendous resources…

Greece has received eight bids by companies to search for oil and natural gas in three blocks in the western part of the country, the energy ministry said on Monday, as debt-laden Athens seeks to save money on energy imports.

Greece, which produces almost no oil or natural gas, aims to develop potential hydrocarbon reserves as part of an effort to overhaul its economy and lessen dependence on energy imports.

So exactly how much oil and natural gas does Greece have?

The numbers that are being reported so far are staggering.  The following comes from a Greek news source

Until now the offers for hydrocarbon exploration have concerned three blocks: The first is in the Gulf of Patra, the second off the coast of Katakolo — both in Western Greece — and the third at Ioannina, northwestern Greece.

Early estimates suggest that the Gulf of Patra may have 200 million barrels of crude oil, and that there are another 80 million at Ioannina and nearly 3 million off the coast of Katokolo.

Furthermore, according to the United States Geological Survey, in the sea between Crete, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, there are about 15 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and oil just waiting to be extracted.

The truth is that Greece has enough oil and natural gas to be able to pay off all of their debts.  The value of the natural gas that they are sitting on alone has been estimated to be worth trillions of dollars.  The following is from an article earlier this year by F. William Engdahl

In December 2010, as it seemed the Greek crisis might still be resolved without the by-now huge bailouts or privatizations, Greece’s Energy Ministry formed a special group of experts to research the prospects for oil and gas in Greek waters. Greece’s Energean Oil & Gas began increased investment into drilling in the offshore waters after a successful smaller oil discovery in 2009. Major geological surveys were made. Preliminary estimates now are that total offshore oil in Greek waters exceeds 22 billion barrels in the Ionian Sea off western Greece and some 4 billion barrels in the northern Aegean Sea. [1]

The southern Aegean Sea and Cretan Sea are yet to be explored, so the numbers could be significantly higher. An earlier Greek National Council for Energy Policy report stated that “Greece is one of the least explored countries in Europe regarding hydrocarbon (oil and gas-w.e.) potentials.” [2] According to one Greek analyst, Aristotle Vassilakis, “surveys already done that have measured the amount of natural gas estimate it to reach some nine trillion dollars.” [3]  Even if only a fraction of that is available, it would transform the finances of Greece and the entire region.

Tulane University oil expert David Hynes told an audience in Athens recently that Greece could potentially solve its entire public debt crisis through development of its new-found gas and oil. He conservatively estimates that exploitation of the reserves already discovered could bring the country more than €302 billion over 25 years.

So unlike several other nations in Europe, things actually look quite promising for Greece in the years ahead if they manage their resources correctly and don’t let foreigners come in and steal all of their wealth.

And perhaps this is why there is such hesitation to boot Greece out of the EU.  It seems probable that many of the top politicians in Europe know about all of this gold, oil and natural gas that Greece is sitting on.

Hopefully the people of Greece will learn about this massive amount of wealth that is just under their feet.  If they can figure out a way to get this wealth to start to flow into the hands of the people of Greece, a lot of their problems could be solved rather quickly and they could start to experience a massive economic turnaround.

Wow That Was Fast! Libyan Rebels Have Already Established A New Central Bank Of Libya

The rebels in Libya are in the middle of a life or death civil war and Moammar Gadhafi is still in power and yet somehow the Libyan rebels have had enough time to establish a new Central Bank of Libya and form a new national oil company.  Perhaps when this conflict is over those rebels can become time management consultants.  They sure do get a lot done.  What a skilled bunch of rebels – they can fight a war during the day and draw up a new central bank and a new national oil company at night without any outside help whatsoever.  If only the rest of us were so versatile!  But isn’t forming a central bank something that could be done after the civil war is over?  According to Bloomberg, the Transitional National Council has “designated the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and the appointment of a governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi.”  Apparently someone felt that it was very important to get pesky matters such as control of the banks and control of the money supply out of the way even before a new government is formed.

Of course it is probably safe to assume that the new Central Bank of Libya will be 100% owned and 100% controlled by the newly liberated people of Libya, isn’t it?

Most people don’t realize that the previous Central Bank of Libya was 100% state owned. The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia’s article on the former Central Bank of Libya….

The Central Bank of Libya (CBL) is 100% state owned and represents the monetary authority in The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and enjoys the status of autonomous corporate body. The law establishing the CBL stipulates that the objectives of the central bank shall be to maintain monetary stability in Libya , and to promote the sustained growth of the economy in accordance with the general economic policy of the state.

Since the old Central Bank of Libya was state owned, it was essentially under the control of Moammar Gadhafi.

But now that Libya is going to be “free”, the new Central Bank of Libya will be run by Libyans and solely for the benefit of Libyans, right?

Of course it is probably safe to assume that will be the case with the new national oil company as well, isn’t it?

Over the past couple of years, Moammar Gadhafi had threatened to nationalize the oil industry in Libya and kick western oil companies out of the country, but now that Libya will be “free” the people of Libya will be able to work hand in hand with “big oil” and this will create a better Libya for everyone.

Right?

Of course oil had absolutely nothing to do with why the U.S. “inva—” (scratch that) “initiated a kinetic humanitarian liberty action” in Libya.

When Barack Obama looked straight into the camera and told the American people that the war in Libya is in the “strategic interest” of the United States, surely he was not referring to oil.

After all, war for oil was a “Bush thing”, right?  The Democrats voted for Obama to end wars like this, right?  Surely no prominent Democrats will publicly support this war in Libya, right?

Surely Barack Obama will end the bombing of Libya if the international community begins to object, right?

Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize.  He wouldn’t deeply upset the other major powers on the globe and bring us closer to World War III, would he?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has loudly denounced “coalition strikes on columns of Gaddafi’s forces” and he believes that the U.S. has badly violated the terms of the UN Security Council resolution….

“We consider that intervention by the coalition in what is essentially an internal civil war is not sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council resolution.”

So to cool off rising tensions with the rest of the world, Obama is going to call off the air strikes, right?

Well, considering the fact that Obama has such vast foreign policy experience we should all be able to rest easy knowing that Obama will understand exactly what to do.

Meanwhile, the rebels seem to be getting the hang of international trade already.

They have even signed an oil deal with Qatar!

Rebel “spokesman” Ali Tarhouni has announced that oil exports to Qatar will begin in “less than a week“.

Who knew that the rag tag group of rebels in Libya were also masters of banking and international trade?

We sure do live in a strange world.

Tonight, Barack Obama told the American people the following….

“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”

So now we are going to police all of the atrocities in all of the other countries around the globe?

The last time I checked, the government was gunning down protesters in Syria.

Is it time to start warming up the Tomahawks?

Or do we reserve “humanitarian interventions” only for those nations that have a lot of oil?

In fact, atrocities are currently being committed all over Africa and in about a dozen different nations in the Middle East.

Should we institute a draft so that we will have enough young men and women to police the world with?

We all have to be ready to serve our country, right?

The world is becoming a smaller place every day, and you never know where U.S. “strategic interests” are going to be threatened next.

The rest of the world understands that we know best, right?

Of course the rest of the world can surely see our good intentions in Libya, can’t they?

Tensions with Russia, China and the rest of the Arab world are certainly going to subside after they all see how selfless our “humanitarian intervention” has been in Libya, don’t you think?

In all seriousness, we now live in a world where nothing is stable anymore.  Wars and revolutions are breaking out all over the globe, unprecedented natural disasters are happening with alarming frequency and the global economy is on the verge of total collapse.

By interfering in Libya, we are just making things worse.  Gadhafi is certainly a horrible dictator, but this was a fight for the Libyan people to sort out.

We promised the rest of the world that we were only going to be setting up a “no fly zone”.  By violating the terms of the UN Security Council resolution, we have shown other nations that we cannot be trusted and by our actions we have increased tensions all over the globe.

So what do all of you think about what is going on in Libya?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

Shaken: 10 Economic Disasters Which Threaten To Rip World Financial Markets To Shreds

2011 has already been the most memorable year in ages and we haven’t even reached April yet.  Revolutions have swept the Middle East, an unprecedented earthquake and tsunami have hit Japan, civil war has erupted in Libya, the price of oil has been soaring and the entire globe is teetering on the brink of economic collapse.  It seems like almost everything that can be shaken is being shaken.  Unfortunately, it does not appear that things are going to settle down any time soon.  The Japanese economy has been dealt a critical blow, the European sovereign debt crisis could flare up again at any moment and the U.S. economy could potentially plunge into another recession by the end of the year.  The global economy and world financial markets were really struggling to recover even when things were relatively stable.  If all of this global instability gets even worse it could literally rip world financial markets apart.

Yes, things really are that bad.  The mainstream media has been really busy downplaying the economic impact of the disaster in Japan and the chaos in the Middle East, but the truth is that these events have huge implications for the global economy.  Today our world is more interconnected than ever, so economic pain in one area of the planet is going to have a significant effect on other areas of the globe.

The following are 10 economic disasters which could potentially rip world financial markets to shreds….

#1 War In Libya

Do you think that the “international community” would be intervening in Libya if they did not have a lot of oil?  If you actually believe that, you might want to review the last few decades of African history.  Millions upon millions of Africans have been slaughtered by incredibly repressive regimes and the “international community” did next to nothing about it.

But Libya is different.

Libya is the largest producer of oil in Africa.

Apparently the revolution in Libya was not going the way it was supposed to, so the U.S. and Europe are stepping in.

Moammar Gadhafi is vowing that this will be a “long war”, but the truth is that his forces don’t stand a chance against NATO.

Initially we were told that NATO would just be setting up a “no fly zone”, but there have already been reports of Libyan tank columns being assaulted and there has even been an air strike on Moammar Gadhafi’s personal compound in Tripoli.

So since when did a “no fly zone” include an attempt to kill a foreign head of state?

Let there be no mistake – the moment that the first Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched the United States declared war on Libya.

Already the Arab League, India, China and Russia have all objected to how this operation is being carried out and they are alarmed about the reports of civilian casualties.

Tensions around the globe are rising once again, and that is not a good thing for the world economy.

On a side note, does anyone recall anyone in the Obama administration even stopping for a moment to consider whether or not they should consult the U.S. Congress before starting another war?

The U.S. Constitution specifically requires the approval of the Congress before we go to war.

But very few people seem to care too much about what the U.S. Constitution says these days.

In any event, the flow of oil out of Libya is likely to be reduced for an extended period of time now, and that is not going to be good for a deeply struggling global economy.

#2 Revolutions In The Middle East

Protests just seem to keep spreading to more countries in the Middle East.  On Friday, five Syrian protesters were killed by government forces in the city of Daraa.  Subsequently, over the weekend thousands of protesters reportedly stormed government buildings in that city and set them on fire.

Things in the region just seem to get wilder and wilder.

Even in countries where the revolutions are supposed to be “over” there is still a lot of chaos.

Have you seen what has been going on in Egypt lately?

The truth is that all of North Africa and nearly the entire Middle East is aflame with revolutionary fervor.

About the only place where revolution has not broken out is in Saudi Arabia.  Of course it probably helps that the United States and Europe don’t really want a revolution in Saudi Arabia and the Saudis have a brutally effective secret police force.

In any event, as long as the chaos in the Middle East continues the price of oil is likely to remain very high, and that is not good news for the world economy.

#3 The Japanese Earthquake And Tsunami

Japan is the third largest economy in the world.  When a major disaster happens in that nation it has global implications.

The tsunami that just hit Japan was absolutely unprecedented.  Vast stretches of Japan have been more thoroughly destroyed than if they had been bombed by a foreign military power.  It really was a nation changing event.

The Japanese economy is going to be crippled for an extended period of time.  But it is not just Japan’s economy that has been deeply affected by this tragedy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the recent disaster in Japan has caused supply chain disruptions all over the globe….

A shortage of Japanese-built electronic parts will force GM to close a plant in Zaragoza, Spain, on Monday and cancel shifts at a factory in Eisenach, Germany, on Monday and Tuesday, the company said Friday.

Not only that, GM has also suspended all “nonessential” spending globally as it evaluates the impact of this crisis.

The truth is that there are a whole host of industries that rely on parts from Japan.  Supply chains all over the world are going to have to be changed as a result of this crisis.  There are going to be some shortages of certain classes of products.

Japan is a nation that imports and exports tremendous quantities of goods.  At least for a while both imports and exports will be significantly down, and that is not good news for a world economy that was already having a really hard time recovering from the recent economic downturn.

#4 The Japan Nuclear Crisis

Even if the worst case scenario does not play out, the reality is that the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is going to have a long lasting impact on the global economy.

Already, nuclear power projects all over the world are being rethought.  The nuclear power industry was really starting to gain some momentum in many areas of the globe, but now that has totally changed.

But of much greater concern is the potential effect that all of this radiation will have on the Japanese people.  Radiation from the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is now showing up in food and tap water in Japan as an article on the website of USA Today recently described….

The government halted shipments of spinach from one area and raw milk from another near the nuclear plant after tests found iodine exceeded safety limits. But the contamination spread to spinach in three other prefectures and to more vegetables — canola and chrysanthemum greens. Tokyo’s tap water, where iodine turned up Friday, now has cesium.

Hopefully the authorities in Japan will be able to get this situation under control before Tokyo is affected too much.  The truth is that Tokyo is one of the most economically important cities on the planet.

But right now there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Tokyo.  For example, one very large German real estate fund says that their holdings in Tokyo are now “impossible to value” and they have suspended all customer withdrawals from the fund.

Once again, let us hope that a worst case scenario does not happen.  But if we do get to the point where most of the population had to be evacuated from Tokyo for an extended period of time it would be absolutely devastating for the global economy.

#5 The Price Of Oil

Most people believe that the U.S. dollar is the currency of the world, but really it is oil.  Without oil, the global economy that we have constructed simply could not function.

That is why it was so alarming when the price of oil went above $100 a barrel earlier this year for the first time since 2008.  Virtually everyone agrees that if the price of oil stays high for an extended period of time it will have a highly negative impact on the world economy.

In particular, the U.S. economy is highly, highly dependent on cheap oil.  This country is really spread out and we transport goods and services over vast distances.  That is why the following facts are so alarming….

*The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is now 75 cents higher than it was a year ago.

*In San Francisco, California, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is now $3.97.

*According to the Oil Price Information Service, U.S. drivers spent an average of $347 on gasoline during the month of February, which was 30 percent more than a year earlier.

*According to the U.S. Energy Department, the average U.S. household will spend approximately $700 more on gasoline in 2011 than it did during 2010.

#6 Food Inflation

Many people believe that the rapidly rising price of food has been a major factor in sparking the revolutions that we have seen in Africa and the Middle East.  When people cannot feed themselves or their families they tend to lose it.

According to the United Nations, the global price of food hit a new all-time high earlier this year, and the UN is expecting the price of food to continue to go up throughout the rest of this year.  Food supplies were already tight around the globe and this is certainly not going to help things.

The price of food has also been going up rapidly inside the United States.  Last month the price of food in the United States rose at the fastest rate in 36 years.

American families are really starting to feel their budgets stretched.  According to the U.S. Labor Department, the cost of living in the United States hit a brand new all-time record high in the month of February.

What this means is that U.S. families are going to have less discretionary income to spend at the stores and that is bad news for the world economy.

#7 The European Sovereign Debt Crisis

Several European governments have had their debt downgraded in the past several months.  Portugal, Spain, Greece and Ireland are all in big time trouble.  Several other European nations are not far behind them.

Right now Germany seems content to bail the “weak sisters” in Europe out, but if that changes at some point it is going to be an absolute nightmare for world financial markets.

#8 The Dying U.S. Dollar

Right now there is a lot of anxiety about the U.S. dollar.  Prior to the tsunami, Japan was one of the primary purchasers of U.S. government debt.  In fact, Japan was the second-largest foreign buyer of U.S. Treasuries last year.

But now as Japan rebuilds from this nightmare it is not going to have capital to invest overseas.  Someone else is going to have to step in and buy up all of the debt that the Japanese were buying.

Not only that, but big bond funds such as PIMCO have announced that they are stepping away from U.S. Treasuries at least for now.

So if Japan is not buying U.S. Treasuries and bond funds such as PIMCO are not buying U.S. Treasuries, then who is going to be buying them?

The U.S. government needs to borrow trillions of dollars this year alone to roll over existing debt and to finance new debt.  All of that borrowing has got to come from somewhere.

#9 The U.S. Housing Market

The U.S. housing market could potentially be on the verge of another major crisis.  Just consider the following facts….

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

*Deutsche Bank is projecting that 48 percent of all U.S. mortgages could have negative equity by the end of 2011.

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

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

#10 The Derivatives Bubble

Most Americans do not even understand what derivatives are, but the truth is that they are one of the biggest threats to our financial system.  Some experts estimate that the worldwide derivatives bubble is somewhere in the neighborhood of a quadrillion dollars.  This bubble could burst at any time.  Right now we are watching the greatest financial casino in the history of the globe spin around and around and around and everyone is hoping that at some point it doesn’t stop.  Today, most money on Wall Street is not made by investing in good business ideas.  Rather, most money on Wall Street is now made by making shrewd bets.  Unfortunately, at some point the casino is going to come crashing down and the game will be over.

Most people simply do not realize how fragile the global economy is at this point.

The financial crash of 2008 was a devastating blow.  The next wave of the economic crisis could be even worse.

So what will the rest of 2011 bring?

Well, nobody knows for sure, but a lot of experts are not optimistic.

David Rosenberg, the chief economist at Gluskin Sheff and Associates, is warning that the second half of the year could be very rough for the global economy….

“A sharp slowing in global GDP in the second half of the year cannot be ruled out.”

Let us hope that the world economy can hold together and that we can get through the rest of 2011 okay.  The last thing we need is a repeat of 2008.  The world could use some peace and some time to recover.

But unfortunately, we live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable.  With the way that the world has been lately, perhaps we should all just start to expect the unexpected.

But world financial markets do not respond well to instability and unpredictability.  In fact, investors tend to start fleeing to safety at the first signs of danger these days.

Most Americans simply have no idea how vulnerable the world financial system is at this point.  Nothing really got “fixed” after 2008.  If anything, global financial markets are even more fragile than they were back then.

So what do all of you think about the state of the global economy?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

5 Dollar Gas? Get Ready To Pay An Arm And A Leg For Gasoline

One of the quickest ways to bring down the U.S. economy would be to dramatically increase the price of oil. Oil is the lifeblood of our economic system. Without it, our entire economy would come to a grinding halt. Almost every type of economic activity in this country depends on oil, and even a small rise in the price of oil can have a dramatic impact on economic growth.  That is why so many economists are incredibly alarmed about what is happening in the Middle East right now.  The revolution in Libya caused the price of WTI crude to soar more than 7 dollars on Tuesday alone.  It closed at $93.57 on Tuesday and Brent crude actually hit $108.57 a barrel before settling back to $105.78 at the end of the day.  Some analysts are warning that we could even see 5 dollar gas in the United States by the end of the year if rioting spreads to other oil producing nations such as Saudi Arabia.  With the Middle East in such a state of chaos right now it is hard to know exactly what is going to happen, but almost everyone agrees that if oil prices continue to rise at a rapid pace over the next several months it is going to have a devastating impact on economic growth all over the globe.

Right now the eyes of the world are on Libya.  Libya is the 17th largest oil producer on the globe and it has the biggest proven oil reserves on the continent of Africa.

Libya only produces 2 percent of the oil in the world, but with global supplies so tight at the moment even a minor production disruption can have a dramatic impact on the price of oil.

Before this crisis, Libya was producing approximately 1.6 million barrels of oil per day.  Now the rest of the world is wondering what may happen if revolution spreads to other major oil producing nations such as Kuwait (2.5 million barrels of oil per day) or Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia produces 8.4 million barrels of oil a day.  It produces more oil than anyone else in OPEC.

If revolution strikes in Saudi Arabia and a major production disruption happens it could be catastrophic for the global economy.

David Rosenberg, the chief economist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates, is warning that if there is major civil unrest in Saudi Arabia we could end up seeing oil go up to $200 a barrel….

“If Libya can spark a $10-a-barrel response, imagine what a similar uprising in Saudi Arabia could unleash. Do the math: we’d be talking about $200 oil.”

200 dollar oil?

Don’t laugh – it could happen.

In fact, if it does happen the global economy would probably go into cardiac arrest.

The truth is that if the flow of oil from Saudi Arabia gets disrupted there is not enough spare capacity from the rest of the globe to make up for it.

Paul Horsnell, the head of oil research at Barclays Capital, recently said that the world does not currently have enough spare capacity to be able to guarantee that an oil “price shock” will not happen….

“The world has only 4.5m barrels-per-day (bpd) of spare capacity, which is not comfortable.”

Horsnell also said that even in the midst of potential supply problems, the global demand for oil continues to grow at a very robust pace….

“In just two years, the world has grown so fast as to consume additional volume equal to the output of Iraq and Kuwait combined.”

For now, Saudi officials are saying all the right things.  They say that there will be no revolution in Saudi Arabia and that there are not going to be any supply problems.

For example, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi recently announced that the rest of the world should not worry because his country is definitely going to be able to make up for any shortage in the global supply of oil….

“What I would like you to convey to the market: right now there is absolutely no shortage of supply.”

But what happens if revolution comes to Saudi Arabia?

Suddenly the whole game would change.

But even with a peaceful Saudi Arabia the price of gasoline in the United States is already rising to alarming levels.

The average price of gasoline in the United States reached $3.14 a gallon last week.  This closely mirrors what happened back in 2008.  Three years ago at this time the average price of gasoline was right around $3.13 a gallon.

Let’s certainly hope that we don’t see a repeat of what happened to oil prices back in mid-2008.  The price of oil reached an all-time record of $147 a barrel and gas prices in the United States absolutely skyrocketed.

So how high will the price of gas in the U.S. go in 2011?

We haven’t even come close to 4 dollar gas yet, but a large number of analysts believe that it is coming this summer.

Is there even a possibility that we could see 5 dollar gas in America at some point in the next couple of years?

Well, there are some in the oil industry that are convinced that it could actually happen.  Just consider the following quotes….

Darin Newsom, senior analyst at energy tracker DTN….

“If this thing escalates and there’s a good chance that there’d be a shift in supplies, $5 gas isn’t out of the question.”

Peter Beutel, president of energy adviser Cameron Hanover….

“If you are looking at the disruption of movement and production in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, you’re easily talking $5 gas.”

John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, on his belief that we could see 5 dollar gas by 2012….

“I’m predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices.”

So why is everyone so concerned about gas prices?

Well, because it affects the price of almost everything else in the economy.

David Wyss, the chief economist at Standard & Poor’s, says that every extra dollar that is spent on gasoline is a dollar that will not be spent somewhere else….

“The money that you spend filling up your car is money you don’t have to spend at the shopping mall.”

Not only that, but when gasoline costs more it has a negative effect on economic growth.  Almost all economic activities involve the use of oil in one form or another.  When the price of oil starts getting really high it motivates people to start cutting back on many of those activities.

The truth is that our whole economic system is based on the ability to use massive amounts of very cheap oil.  Now that the price of oil is rapidly rising again, many economists are becoming very alarmed.

Nobuo Tanaka, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, recently told CNBC that his organization is extremely concerned about what high oil prices could do to the global economy….

“That is our concern, regardless of the margins of disruption, if the $100 per barrel of oil is continued in 2011, the burden of oil to the global economy is as bad as 2008.”

So what was so bad about 2008?  Well, the price of oil soared to $147 a barrel in mid-2008 and this was a huge factor in the financial collapse that happened a few months later.  Now oil prices are returning to levels that we have not seen since 2008….

So if the price of oil breaks the all-time record this year will we see another global financial crisis?

It is hard to say.  But what almost everyone agrees on is that it will not be good for the global economy at all.

In addition, a higher price for oil will also have a huge impact on the trade deficit.  Because oil prices were at such a high level back in 2008, oil imports actually made up almost 50 percent of the U.S. trade deficit that year.

In 2010, the U.S. trade deficit was just a whisker under $500 billion.  If the price of oil gets up to 140 or 150 dollars a barrel we could easily see the U.S. trade deficit explode to 700 or 800 billion dollars in 2011.

That would be really, really bad for the U.S. economy.

So where are oil prices going next?

Well, if you could predict that with 100 percent certainty you could make a whole lot of money.  Nobody knows for sure.

But almost everyone believes that the price of oil is going to go up.  In fact, a lot number of investors have been making some very large bets that the price of oil is going to go up very significantly this year.

Recently, large numbers of investors have been betting that the price of oil will rise to $125 a barrel by May.  Shockingly, some investors have even been betting that the price of oil will rise to $250 a barrel by next December.

Let us hope that the price of oil does not rise that rapidly, but as the past couple of months have demonstrated, the world is becoming a very unstable place.   Just about anything is possible at this point.

If the price of oil rises significantly above $100 a barrel and it stays there for an extended period of time, it is going to be absolutely devastating for the U.S. economy.

So what do you all think is going to happen to the price of oil in 2011?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below….

Shortages! Is The World Really Running Out Of Food, Water And Oil?

Everywhere you look today the mainstream news is talking about shortages. Authorities all over the globe are boldly proclaiming that the world is rapidly running out of food, water and oil. So are these doomsayers right? Well, it must be noted that some of the most famous “prophets of doom” of the past several decades have seen their predictions fail spectacularly. For example, in his infamous 1968 book entitled “The Population Bomb“, Paul Ehrlich made the following statement: “I don’t see how India could possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980.”  Well, India is now feeding well over twice the number of people than they had when Ehrlich originally wrote his book.  But that doesn’t mean that major shortages won’t happen in the future.  It just means that we should be careful not to look incredibly ridiculous like Ehrlich did.  The truth is that there are good reasons why we should be watching global supplies of food, water and oil very closely.  Life as we know it would cease to exist if we had severe shortages of any of them.

So will we actually be facing serious shortages of food, water or oil in the coming years?

Well, let’s take a look at oil first.

Oil Shortage?

Right now oil is absolutely essential to almost everything that we do.  We require oil to drive our cars, we require oil to produce our food, a large percentage of our homes use energy that is derived from oil and most of what we buy at the stores comes in packaging that is made up at least partly of oil.

So if we run out of oil that is going to be a really huge deal.

So are we going to run out of oil?

Well, right now advocates of the “peak oil” hypothesis are getting a lot of attention in the mainstream media.

Basically the idea behind “peak oil” is that the world has reached (or almost reached) the maximum amount of oil that it can produce and that from here on out the amount of oil that will be produced will begin to decline.  Meanwhile, the demand for oil is only going to continue to increase.

So is there evidence that this is actually happening?

Well, it depends on who you ask.  But what is undeniable is that there are some very powerful interests that are doing their best to hype a coming oil shortage.

In recently released report entitled “Signals & Signposts“, Shell Oil warns that global demand for energy is going to be three times as large in 2050 as it was in 2000.

So where will all of that extra energy come from?

Can the world possibly produce two or three times as much oil as it does today?

The Shell Oil report forecasts that the global supply of oil will continue to rise but that the rise in supply will not be fast enough to keep up with the rise in demand.  According to Shell, this is going to cause rapidly rising oil prices which will cause the gross domestic products of all nations to fall.

So just how high could oil prices go?

Well, the truth is that the price of oil is very highly manipulated.  The market for oil is not exactly what you would call a “free market”.

However, it is alarming that almost everyone is forecasting much higher oil prices at this point.

For example, Weeden & Co. oil analyst Charles Maxwell recently stated that he believes that the price of oil will eventually hit $300 a barrel by the end of this decade.

If that were to happen, it would be absolutely disastrous for the global economy.  Yeah, those in the oil industry would make a killing, but for the rest of the world it would be a complete and utter nightmare.

Unfortunately, what most Americans don’t understand is that there are lots of alternative energy technologies out there that have been repressed by the big oil companies and by the big oil producing nations because they threaten hundreds of billions of dollars in profits.

For example, did you know that it is possible to run a car entirely on water?  One Japanese company hopes to start mass marketing them….

But I wouldn’t count on seeing water-powered cars sold on every street corner any time soon.

Why?

Because of greed.

Our entire system of energy is based on making as much money as possible for those who have all the oil.

So if the world has a shortage of energy in the coming years, it is not because that is how it inevitably had to be.

Rather, it will be all about pure, unadulterated greed.

There are plenty of alternative energy technologies out there that are incredibly promising, but those that are getting incredibly wealthy off of our oil-based society are not going to quietly step aside for the good of mankind.

Food Shortage?

So what about food?

Is the world running out of food?

Well, as we have seen so many times in the past, the earth can support far more people than most of the “experts” ever imagined.

In fact, if weather patterns were perfectly stable and we removed human greed out of the picture, the earth could most likely support a whole lot more people.

Unfortunately, weather patterns are becoming increasingly bizarre and human greed is always a problem.

In particular, this year extreme weather all over the globe is causing many to be concerned that we may soon see some very serious food shortages.  In Australia and Brazil, flooding of Biblical proportions has absolutely devastated crops.  Some of China’s most important agricultural areas are experiencing the worst droughts that they have seen in 200 years.  Authorities are warning that two-thirds of China’s wheat crop could be in danger.  A recent cold snap that hit northern Mexico wiped out entire harvests and has sent prices for many fresh produce items in the United States soaring.

But these bizarre weather patterns will hopefully settle down eventually.

What is of even greater concern is that we have been seeing a long-term trend of rapidly rising food prices over the last couple of years that is putting an extreme amount of strain on the 3 billion people in the world that are trying to survive on the equivalent of 2 dollars or less per day.

Most Americans can still handle rising food prices, but for millions upon millions of poor people all over the world a significant increase in the cost of food can mean the difference between life and death.

That is why the sudden rise in price of so many agricultural commodities is so disturbing.  Just consider some of the shocking price increases that we have seen over the past year or two….

*The price of corn has doubled over the last six months and recently hit a new all-time high.

*The price of wheat has more than doubled over the past year and hit a 30-month high on Monday.

*The price of soybeans is up about 50% since last June.

*The price of cotton has more than doubled over the past year.

*The commodity price of orange juice has doubled since 2009.

*The price of sugar is the highest it has been in 30 years.

If prices continue to go up like this we are going to see a lot more food riots all over the globe.

But perhaps that is what those in positions of power actually want.  The truth is that the global elite don’t always have the best interests of the rest of us at heart.

Water Shortage?

So what about water?

Is the world running out of water?

Well, yes, many areas of the world are rapidly running out of fresh water and this is perhaps one of the biggest problems we are facing.

Without oil, most of us could survive for quite some time.

Without food, most of us could survive for a number of weeks.

Without water, most of us would die within a matter of days.

Fortunately North America still has a decent supply of fresh water, but as I have written about previously, in many areas of the globe the situation is quickly becoming absolutely dire….

*Worldwide demand for fresh water tripled during the last century, and is now doubling every 21 years.

*According to USAID, one-third of all humans will face severe or chronic water shortages by the year 2025.

*Of the 60 million people added to the world’s cities every year, the vast majority of them live in impoverished slums and shanty-towns with no sanitation facilities whatsoever.

*It is estimated that 75 percent of India’s surface water is now contaminated by human and agricultural waste.

*Not only that, but according to a UN study on sanitation, far more people in India have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet.

*In northern China, the water table is dropping one meter per year due to overpumping.

*But there are few places where the water shortage is as severe as it is in the Middle East.  Saudi Arabia had been producing enough wheat to be self-sufficient for most of the past 30 years, but in 2008 authorities there realized that the non-replenishable aquifer they had been pumping for irrigation purposes was nearly depleted.  So in response Saudi Arabia made the decision to reduce their wheat harvest by one-eighth every year thereafter.  Wheat production in Saudi Arabia is scheduled to cease entirely in 2016.

In some of the most populated areas of the planet the water situation can only be described as catastrophic.

For example, did you know that a new desert the size of Rhode Island is created in China because of drought every single year?

Did you know that in China 80% of the major rivers are so polluted that they don’t support aquatic life at all?

Did you know that the women of South Africa collectively walk the equivalent distance to the moon and back 16 times a day for water?

Thankfully the water situation in the United States has not gotten that bad yet, but the truth is that even we could be facing serious water shortages in the years ahead.

According to a recent report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council, more than one-third of all counties in the lower 48 states will likely be facing very serious water shortages by the year 2050.

So, yes, there are some really good reasons to be concerned about earth’s dwindling resources.

If the global elite were not so incredibly greedy and if we managed our planet better we would not have problems to this degree.

But here we are.

So what is the solution?

Well, it would be really great if the global elite would just share some of their wealth.  A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research discovered that the bottom half of the world population owns approximately 1 percent of all global wealth.

But the global elite aren’t about to change the rules of the global economy.  After all, they spent a whole lot of time and effort rigging the game so that virtually all wealth eventually gets funneled into their hands.

Rather, most among the global elite seem to believe that radical population control is the answer.

After all, they argue, if there are half as many people around then we will only be using half as many resources, right?

Well, as alluring as that may sound, the truth is that the world has always had a huge problem with poverty.  Even when the global population was down around 100 million people there was rampant poverty.

The number of people is not the problem.

The problem is the insatiable greed of the elite.

The global elite have systematically exploited the poor all over the planet, they have gobbled up the resources of the world wherever they have found them and now they are hoarding their wealth as millions upon millions suffer desperately.

Well, in the end the global elite will have to answer to a higher power.  In the book of James it talks about those who hoard wealth on this earth….

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

According to the most recent “Global Wealth Report” by Credit Suisse, the wealthiest 0.5% control over 35% of the wealth of the world.

That qualifies as hoarding wealth.

Other estimates put the concentration of wealth at the very top of the food chain much higher than that.

But sadly, the problem of greed is not going to be solved any time soon.

Global supplies of food and fresh water are going to continue to diminish.

The world economy is going to continue to become increasingly unstable.

If it was always your desire to live in “interesting times”, then you are about to get your wish.  Things are about to get extremely “interesting” on this planet.

So what do you think?  Do you believe that the world will be facing shortages of food, water and oil in the years ahead?  Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

Nothing Is Stable Anymore

The world is becoming a very unstable place, and the pace at which things are changing all around us has become absolutely mind-numbing.  In fact, change has become one of the only constants in today’s world.  Once upon a time, people in the United States could actually make 20 or 30 year plans and feel confident about achieving them.  But now, nothing is stable anymore.  The financial crisis showed us that some of the biggest corporations on the globe can collapse in a single day.  The events of the past few weeks have shown us that entire governments can be brought down in a single week.  We live in a world where there are now very few “guarantees” that you can count on.  One of the only things that is guaranteed is that technology and information will continue to grow at exponential speeds.  This year, the total amount of information produced on electronic devices around the globe is projected to be more than a zettabyte.  A zettabyte is equivalent to one sextillion bytes.  In other words, imagine a one with more than 21 zeroes following it.

Many of the things that we take for granted today didn’t even exist a few short years ago.  Facebook has only been with us since 2004.  YouTube has only been with us since 2005.  Can you imagine a world where those two websites did not exist?

We live in a world of information overload.  Once upon a time it would have been possible to go to sleep for a decade and wake up and everything would still be pretty much the same.  But today if you were to do that you would be in for a case of severe culture shock.

Do you remember when you could buy a set of encyclopedias and the information in them would still be good a decade or two later?

Well, things do not work that way anymore.

In fact, most of the articles on this website will be obsolete a month from now.

In today’s world, you really have to think twice before you say that something is “not possible”.

A few months ago, it was absolutely inconceivable that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would declare to the world that he has “spent enough time serving Egypt“.

Yet here we are.

One week the government of Tunisia seemed perfectly stable and the next week it was toppled.

Do any of you out there still think that you can make realistic “plans for the future” in today’s world?

Once upon a time in America, many of us were taught that if we worked really hard in school we could get a great job with a great company.  We were promised that if we were faithful to that company for 30 or 40 years that we would be treated fairly and given a good pension.

Well, in today’s world you might as well crumple up that plan and throw it into the wastebasket.

There is no such thing as a stable job anymore.  Businesses are coming into existence and going out of existence faster than ever before.  Today, one out of every four Americans workers has been with their empl0yer for less than a year.

Most Americans still don’t really understand that they are now part of a global economy.  They keep thinking that things were the way they used to be.  They keep thinking that the U.S. economy is invincible.

Well, those days are long gone.  The United States is being deindustrialized at lightning speed.  Tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities and millions of jobs have been sent overseas.  China, once a complete economic backwater, is now kicking the crap out of us on the global economic stage.

Our financial system is certainly on incredibly shaky ground.  Will any of us ever forget what happened in 2008?

Do any of us actually believe that it can’t happen again?

Our health care system is also incredibly unstable.  Today, 46 million Americans have absolutely no health insurance.  That means that 46 million Americans are just one major injury or illness away from financial ruin with no protection whatsoever.

Not that those that actually have health insurance are protected.  According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States.  Of those bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, approximately 75 percent of them involved individuals that did have health insurance.

So just because you have health insurance does not mean anything.  One bad accident or one really bad disease and you could be totally wiped out.

Isn’t that comforting?

But the truth is that our entire economy is on the verge of total collapse.

World famous investor Harry Schultz recently published the last issue of his legendary financial newsletter.  After 45 years, the following is how Schultz summed up the economic collapse that we are now facing….

“Roughly speaking, the mess we are in is the worst since 17th century financial collapse. Comparisons with the 1930’s are ludicrous. We’ve gone far beyond that. And, alas, the courage & political will to recognize the mess & act wisely to reverse gears, is absent in U.S. leadership, where the problems were hatched & where the rot is by far the deepest.”

David Stockman, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan was quoted by Schultz as saying the following about how desperate things are about to become….

“Get some gold, beans, water, anything that Bernanke can’t destroy. Ron Paul is right. We’re entering a global monetary conflagration. If a sell-off of U.S. bonds starts, it will be an Armageddon.”

Millions of Americans have become “preppers” in recent years as they have come to realize that our economy is headed down a very dark road.

But sadly, the reality is that the vast majority of Americans are not prepared for any kind of economic or natural disaster.  As this week has shown us, just the threat of a major snow storm can wipe out store shelves in a single day.

So what would this country look like if a major disaster fundamentally changed life in America and suddenly people were desperate for food and supplies?

It is a frightening thing to think about.

As the pace of change has accelerated dramatically, the U.S. government and other governments around the world have responded by trying to get a tighter grip on everyone and everything.

To get on an airplane in the United States today, you either have to allow a security goon to use a scanner to look over your completely exposed body, or you have to allow a security goon to feel up all of your private areas with the fronts of his or her hands.

Not only that, but the U.S. government has now deployed VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) teams to set up security checkpoints at bus terminals, subway stations and on major highways.

The America that so many of us once loved is rapidly disappearing.

But it is not just our man-made systems that are rapidly changing.  Something seems to be happening to the entire planet.  Flooding of biblical proportions has hit Australia, Brazil, China and Pakistan over the past 12 months.  Scorching heat caused massive crop failures all over Russia last summer.  Record-setting cold temperatures and snowfalls all over the northern hemisphere have scientists scratching their heads.  On top of everything else, mass deaths of birds and fish are suddenly being reported all over the globe.

Even the crust of the earth is becoming increasingly unstable.  Did you see that volcano go off in Japan the other day?  Over the past two years it seems like volcanoes have been suddenly erupting all over the world.

Not only that, but sinkholes have become an absolute epidemic all over the planet.  Some of these sinkholes have been so large that they have swallowed entire apartment buildings.

In addition, it seems like there is a magnitude 6 or magnitude 7 earthquake somewhere in the world almost every day now.  They have become so common that the mainstream media barely even takes notice of them anymore unless one happens near a very populated area.

None of us really knows what the world is going to look like ten years from now.  What will the “new” Facebooks and YouTubes be?  Will Ben Bernanke’s reckless money printing destroy our economy by then?  Will our U.S. dollars still be of any value ten years from now?  Will there even still be a U.S. dollar?

Will we still be able to feed most of the people in the world by 2011?  Will shortages of food, water and oil start driving people crazy?  Could some amazing energy discovery completely transform society?

Who will be the president of the United States?  Will there even be a president of the United States?  Will war have erupted in the Middle East by that point?  Will the United States be in another war by then?

The truth is that things are changing so fast that it is hard to even come up with the right questions to ask.  The world is going to change faster this year than it did last year.  In 2012 the pace of change will be even faster.

So buckle up and hold on tight because this is going to be one wild ride.

For much more on how incredibly fast the pace of change is in our modern society, check out the video posted below.  It is entitled “Did You Know?” and it has been viewed more than 12 million times on YouTube….

The Riots In Egypt And The Price Of Oil

As if the world economy did not have enough problems already, now the riots in Egypt threaten to send the price of oil soaring into the stratosphere.  On Friday, the price of U.S. crude soared 4 percent.  A 4 percent rise in a single day is pretty staggering.  The price of Brent crude in London closed just under the magic $100 a barrel mark at $99.42.  The incredibly violent riots in Egypt have financial markets all over the globe on edge right now.  Any time there is violence or war in the Middle East it has a dramatic impact on financial markets, but this time things seem even more serious than usual.  Many believe that we could see an entirely new Egyptian government emerge out of this crisis, and the uncertainty that would bring would make investors all around the globe nervous.  Financial markets like predictability, peace and security.  If Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year reign is brought to an end, it will severely shake up the entire region, and that will not be good news for the global economy.

Have you seen how violent these protests have become?  Cars and buildings are on fire all over the place.  Even the headquarters of Hosni Mubarak’s political party was burned down.  The Egyptian military has been deployed on the streets of Cairo.  Protesters have been showering government forces with stones, firebombs and anything else that they can find to throw.  Security forces have been using rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas to try to disperse the protesters but those efforts seem to be doing little good.  Deaths and injuries are being reported all over the place.  There are even rumors that the wife and son of Hosni Mubarak have already left the country.

At this point, Mubarak has gone on national television and has announced that he has asked his cabinet to resign.  That is an absolutely stunning move, but it is doubtful that the protesters will be satisfied.  All over Cairo protesters continue to chant for Mubarak to resign.

The following is a short compilation of some raw video from the riots in Egypt….

These riots in Egypt come on the heels of violent uprisings in Algeria and Tunisia.  In fact, it seems like virtually the entire Middle East is in a very foul mood right now.  Riots have been reported in Lebanon, in Jordan and in Yemen over the past few days.

Some of the rioting has been motivated by economic factors, but unfortunately all of this rioting is only going to make the global economic situation even worse.  Concern over all of these riots is driving up the price of oil and driving up the prices of agricultural commodities.  These higher prices are going to make it even harder for the poor people in the Middle East to afford food.

But also it must be acknowledged that much of this rioting is being done for very deep political and religious reasons as well.  Many westerners are cheering the protests in Egypt because they envision the protesters to be some sort of “freedom fighters”.  But the vast majority of these protesters do not desire “American-style democracy”.  The Muslim Brotherhood is one of the groups at the heart of these protests.  The government that they intend to set up would not give “liberty and freedom for all”.  Rather, it would be a hardline Islamic government based on Shariah law.  According to Wikipedia, the Muslim Brotherhood bills itself as the “world’s most influential Islamist movement”, and their goal is to impose their version of Islam on society….

The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for … ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state”

So unless your version of “freedom” includes being forced to live like the Taliban, then you probably would not enjoy the “liberty” that the Muslim Brotherhood wishes to impose on you.

Coptic Christians all over Egypt are already being slaughtered even with a relatively pro-western president in power.  On New Year’s Day, an attack on a Coptic Christian church in Egypt killed 21 people.  The following is how one eyewitness described the scene to a reporter from the New York Times….

“There were bodies on the streets,” said Sherif Ibrahim, who saw the blast’s aftermath. “Hands, legs, stomachs. Girls, women and men.”

Once a radical Islamic government is installed in Egypt it will be open season on all Christians.

Yes, there is a whole lot of blame to be passed around to other nations, organizations and individuals in the Middle East for things they have done as well, but that does not excuse the horrific persecution of the Coptic Christians in Egypt.

We have to call a spade a spade.  We cannot condemn some forms of tyranny and persecution and then make excuses for other forms of tyranny and persecution just because those doing it are on “our side”.

Replacing one form of tyranny (Mubarak) with an even more repressive form of tyranny (The Muslim Brotherhood) is not something that those who love liberty and freedom should be celebrating.

In any event, everyone should be able to agree that these events are going to severely rattle world financial markets that were already very nervous about 2011.

If these violent riots in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East keep going on, the global price of oil and the global price of food will continue to soar.

Not that oil and food were not going to be heading in that direction anyway.  Yesterday I wrote about the warning signs for the global economy that we are starting to see.  Wheat and corn have absolutely skyrocketed in price over the past 6 months.  The UN had already been projecting that we would see a 30 percent increase in the global price of food in 2011 even before these riots.

If you add rampant political instability into the mix, there is no telling how bad food inflation could get this year.

Many experts have already been forecasting substantial food shortages throughout the world this year based on all the extreme weather we have been having.  So what is going to happen if something causes those food shortages to be even worse than anticipated?

We live in very interesting times my friends.  The globe is becoming an increasingly unstable place.  Even nations that seemed perfectly stable just a few months ago can erupt in rioting at almost any moment.

People around the world are getting angry.  Thanks to the Internet, people are able to circumvent official government propaganda more easily than ever before.  This is making it harder and harder for governments to control people.

Egypt tried to regain some of that control during the riots by shutting down cell phones and by shutting down the Internet but it did not work.

Let’s just hope that Egypt can soon find peace and that the changes that are made in the Egyptian government are good for freedom and liberty.

Finca Bayano

Panama Relocation Tours




 

ProphecyHour

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