The Beginning Of The End
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How Far Will Stocks Fall This Time When The Fed Decides To Slow Down Quantitative Easing?

Bear Market - Photo by Appalachian EncountersWhen QE1 ended there was a substantial stock market correction, and when QE2 ended there was a substantial stock market correction.  And if you will remember, the financial markets threw a massive hissy fit a few months ago when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the Fed may soon start tapering QE3.  Clearly Wall Street does not like it when their supply of monetary heroin is interrupted.  The Federal Reserve has tricked the American people into supporting quantitative easing by insisting that it is about “stimulating the economy”, but that has turned out to be a massive hoax.  In fact, I just wrote an article that contained 37 statistics that prove that things just keep getting even worse for ordinary Americans.  But quantitative easing has been exceptionally good for Wall Street.  During QE1, the S&P 500 rose by about 300 points.  During QE2, the S&P 500 rose by about 200 points.  And during QE3, the S&P 500 has risen by about 400 points.  The S&P 500 is now in unprecedented territory, and stock prices have become completely and totally divorced from reality.  In essence, we are in the midst of the largest financial bubble this nation has ever seen.  So what is going to happen when the Fed starts pulling back the monetary crack and the bubble bursts?

A lot of people out there are claiming that the Federal Reserve will never end this round of quantitative easing.  They are suggesting that the Fed may hint at tapering from time to time, but that when push comes to shove they will just keep printing more money.

There is just one big problem with that theory.

The rest of the world is watching, and they are very troubled by quantitative easing.  Therefore the Fed must end it at some point because they desperately need the rest of the world to keep playing our game.

Our current economic prosperity greatly depends upon the rest of the planet using our dollars as the reserve currency of the world and lending trillions of dollars to us at ultra-low interest rates.  If the rest of the world decides to stop going along with the program, the system would come crashing down very rapidly.

That is why it was so alarming when China recently announced that they are going to quit stockpiling more U.S. dollars.  For a long time China has been warning us to quit recklessly printing money, and now China is starting to make moves that will make them more independent of us financially.

If the Fed does not bring quantitative easing to an end soon, other nations may start doing the same thing.

So the Fed knows that they are on borrowed time.  Faith in the U.S. financial system is declining very fast.

But the Fed also knows that ending QE3 is going to be very tricky for the financial markets.  The other times that the Fed has ended quantitative easing, it has turned out to be very painful for Wall Street.

So this time, the Fed seems to be trying to do what it can to use the media to mentally prepare investors ahead of time.  For example, the following is what Jon Hilsenrath of the Wall Street Journal wrote just a few days ago

Markets are positioned more to the Fed’s liking today than they were in September, when it put off reducing, or “tapering,” the monthly bond purchases. Most notably, the Fed’s message is sinking in that a wind down of the program won’t mean it’s in a hurry to raise short-term interest rates. Futures markets place a very low probability on Fed rate increases before 2015, in contrast to September, when fed funds futures markets indicated rate increases were expected by the end of 2014. The Fed has been trying to drive home the idea that “tapering is not tightening” for months and is likely to feel comforted that investors believe it as a pullback gets serious consideration.

In case you missed the subtle messages contained in that paragraph, here is a rough translation…

“Don’t worry.  The Federal Reserve is your friend and they say that everything is going to be okay.  Investors believe what the Fed says and you should too.  Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.  Tapering is not tightening, and when the Federal Reserve does decide to taper the financial markets are going to take it very calmly.”

The Fed (and their messengers) very much want to avoid a repeat of what has happened before.  As you can see from the chart posted below, every round of quantitative easing has driven the S&P 500 much higher.  And when each round has ended, there has been a substantial stock market correction.  The following chart was originally produced by DayOnBay.org

Chart By DayOnBay

And of course the chart above is incomplete.  As you can see below, the S&P 500 is now sitting at about 1,800…

S&P 500

So let’s recap.

From the time that QE1 was announced to the time that it ended, the S&P 500 rose from about 900 to about 1,200.

When QE1 ended, the S&P 500 fell back below 1,100.

In a panic, the Federal Reserve first hinted at QE2 and then finally formally announced it.  That round of QE drove the S&P 500 up to a bit above the 1,300 mark.

Once QE2 ended, there was another market correction.  The S&P 500 fell all the way down to 1,123 at one point.

In another panic, the Federal Reserve first announced “Operation Twist” and then later added QE3.  Since that time, the S&P 500 has been on an unprecedented tear.  At this point, the S&P is sitting at about 1,800.

And of course those massively inflated stock prices have absolutely no relation to what is going on in the U.S. economy as a whole.  In fact, the truth is that economic conditions for most of the country are steadily getting worse.  Just today we found out that for the week ending November 30th, U.S. rail traffic was down 16.3 percent from the same week one year earlier.  That is a hugely negative sign.  It means that the flow of goods is slowing down substantially.

So the Federal Reserve has created this massive financial bubble that is totally disconnected from reality.  The only way that the Federal Reserve can keep this bubble going is to keep printing lots more money, but they also know that they cannot do that indefinitely because the rest of the world is watching.

In essence, the Federal Reserve is caught between a rock and a hard place.

When the Fed does ultimately decide to taper (whether it be December, January, February, etc.), the consequences are likely to be quite dramatic for the financial markets.  The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article by Howard Kunstler

But even in a world of seemingly no consequence, things happen. One pretty sure thing is rising interest rates, especially when, at the same time as a head-fake taper, foreigners send a torrent of US Treasury paper back to the redemption window. This paper is what other nations, especially in Asia, have been trading to hose up hard assets, including gold and real estate, around the world, and the traders of last resort — the chumps who took US T bonds for boatloads of copper ore or cocoa pods — now have nowhere else to go. China alone announced very loudly last month that US Treasury debt paper was giving them a migraine and they were done buying anymore of it. Japan is in a financial psychotic delirium scarfing up its own debt paper to infinity. Who’s left out there? Burkina Faso and the Kyrgystan Cobblers’ Union Pension Fund?

The interest rate on the US 10-year bond is close to bumping up on the ominous 3.0 percent level again. Apart from the effect on car and house loans, readers have pointed out to dim-little-me that the real action will be around the interest rate swaps. Last time this happened, in late summer, the too-big-to-fail banks wobbled from their losses on these bets, providing a glimpse into the aperture of a black hole compressive deflation where cascading chains of unmet promises blow financial systems past the event horizon of universal default and paralysis where money stops moving anywhere and people must seriously reevaluate what money actually is.

What Kunstler is talking about is something that I have written about previously many times.  When QE3 slows down (or ends), that is likely going to cause the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries to rise substantially, and that would have a whole host of negative consequences for the U.S. economy.

Most notably, it would threaten to blow up the quadrillion dollar derivatives casino that Wall Street usually manages to keep so delicately balanced.

The truth is that we are going to have massive problems no matter what the Federal Reserve does now.

If the Federal Reserve keeps wildly printing money, our financial system will become a massive joke to the rest of the planet and other nations will stop using our dollars and will stop lending us money.

That would be absolutely disastrous.

If the Federal Reserve stops wildly printing money, the massive financial bubble that Wall Street is enjoying right now will burst and we could have a financial crisis even greater than what we experienced back in 2008.

That would also be absolutely disastrous.

So does anyone out there see an easy way out of this under the current system?  If you think that you have such a plan, please feel free to share it below…

Somebody Should Start The ‘Stuff Costs Too Much’ Party

Stuff costs too much.  Seriously.  Every time I go to the grocery store these days, I am absolutely horrified by the prices.  I try not to buy anything that is not on sale, but the problem is that I am discovering that the new sale prices are the old regular prices.  So now paying what used to be “full price” is supposedly a “good deal”.  The other way that they are trying to hide rising prices is by shrinking package sizes.  As if we wouldn’t notice that a box of 21 garbage bags is now being sold for the exact same price that a box of 25 garbage bags used to be sold for.  It is one of my pet peeves.  I feel like I am in the middle of some bizarre movie entitled “The Incredible Shrinking Dollar”.  Sadly, I am far from alone.  There are millions upon millions of American families that are seeing their expenses continue to rise even as their paychecks remain the same.  But neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney seems very concerned about inflation.  In fact, the Federal Reserve, QE3 and Ben Bernanke were not even mentioned in any of the three presidential debates.  So I think that somebody should start the “Stuff Costs Too Much” Party.  Inflation is a tax which is destroying the value of each dollar that we hold a little bit more every single day, and the American people deserve to know the truth about what is going on.

In this day and age, it simply does not pay to put money into long-term savings.  When you finally pull your money out it will have far less purchasing power than it originally did.

Way back in 1950, you could buy a first-class stamp for just 3 cents and you could buy a gallon of gasoline for about 27 cents.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could still get a gallon of gasoline for 27 cents?

But we don’t have to go all the way back to 1950 to find low prices.  All we have to do is go back ten years.

A recent article by Benny Johnson detailed how the prices of many of the things that we buy on a regular basis absolutely soared between 2002 and 2012.  Just check out these price increases…

Eggs: 73%

Coffee: 90%

Peanut Butter: 40%

Milk: 26%

A Loaf Of White Bread: 39%

Spaghetti And Macaroni: 44%

Orange Juice: 46%

Red Delicious Apples: 43%

Beer: 25%

Wine: 60%

Electricity: 42%

Margarine: 143%

Tomatoes: 22%

Turkey: 56%

Ground Beef: 61%

Chocolate Chip Cookies: 39%

Gasoline: 158%

So what will the next ten years bring?  Unfortunately, we are already being told that it looks like inflation is going to start accelerating.  A recent CNBC article started this way…

Consumers will have to dig deeper into their pockets next year to pay for costlier health care, more expensive grocery bills and higher taxes, an extra drag on the country’s already slow-moving economy.

That is not what millions of struggling American families need to hear right about now.

Their bills just keep going up but their paychecks are not keeping pace.

Have you noticed that almost everything that we spend money on just keeps rising year after year?

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

Has your paycheck tripled?

Electricity bills in this country have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

Winter is a really bad time for power bills.  Millions of struggling families will set their thermostats very low this winter and yet will still be slammed with absolutely outrageous bills.

Of course just about every type of insurance is going up faster than the overall rate of inflation.

Have you gotten a price increase notice in the mail lately?

I have.

The price of health insurance in particular has soared in recent years.  Health insurance premiums increased faster than the overall rate of inflation in 2011 and that is happening once again in 2012.

All of these price increases are pushing many American families to the breaking point.

But Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke insists that there is very little inflation right now, and he has government statistics to back his assertions up.

Of course the way that the government calculates inflation has changed more than 20 times since 1978, but Bernanke never mentions that.

According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if inflation was measured exactly the same way that it was back in 1990, the official inflation rate would be about 5 percent right now.

The American Institute for Economic Research says that inflation is even high than that right now.  According to them, the real rate of inflation was about 8 percent last year.

Meanwhile, household incomes are actually going down all over America.

Even though we are supposedly in the midst of an “economic recovery”, median household income has declined for four years in a row.

Overall, median household income has declined by more than $4000 over the past four years.

Incomes are going down and prices just keep on rising.

So how are families adjusting?

Well, many of them are spending less.  One survey found that 62 percent of all middle class Americans have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

Others are going into increasing amounts of debt in an attempt to survive from month to month.

Inflation has become a way of life in America.  But what could make it a whole lot worse is if a nationwide crisis suddenly disrupted the normal operation of the economy.  If that happened, we would see price gouging happen literally overnight.  Just check out what one article that was posted on CNBC said happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy…

Four dollars for a can of coke. Five hundred dollars a night for a hotel in downtown Brooklyn. A pair of D-batteries for $6.99.

These are just a few of the examples of price hikes I or friends of mine have personally come across in the run-up and aftermath of hurricane Sandy.

So you might want to use your extra dollars right now.  They are never going to be more valuable than they are today, and in the event of a major disaster they might lose value very, very rapidly.

Unfortunately, millions of American families don’t have any extra money at all.  Many of them have been slowly worn down by this economy and are now just desperately trying to survive.  The following is what one reader shared in a comment following one of my recent articles

There is one thing you should know about poverty: it is crushing! It crushes the spirit first and foremost, then it crushes the idea of dreams because people in extreme poverty don’t see a way out when they barely have enough to eat let alone get ahead in life.
So, by offering a hand up to those in poverty, we relieve a bit of that pressure…just enough so that their basic needs are met. Once those needs are met, those in poverty can start to see “LIGHT”, something hard to see when being crushed by the pressures and hardships of poverty.

I know of what I speak; I was once living an upper middle-class life and enjoyed all the trappings of material and financial successes.

However, an accident caused that life as I knew it to end in a moment. I’m no longer able to work and for the past few years have barely been able to feed myself.

When I became homeless in 2010, I felt suicidal. My lowest moment was holding a sign asking for help very near the 6 bedroom home I once lived.

Don’t think that it can’t happen to you.  What would you do if you suddenly lost your job and could not find another one?  Would you be able to survive?

Just because you are living a middle class lifestyle today does not mean that you will be in the same position a year from now.  The truth is that everything in your life can change in a single day.  The following is from a comment that one of my readers named Kimberly left recently

My husband lost his job of 20+ years to cut backs roughly 3 years ago, 8 months later his health declined of which I attribute to the depression he went through at not being able to find employment. I went back into the work force, or I should say tried… I’m a nursing assistant by trade but no nursing homes are hiring because the families are pulling their loved ones out because they cannot afford to keep them there, hospitals are not hiring because what jobs there are in my field go to nurses awaiting a nursing job and I’m sure my age (53) plays a role in it too. The closest hospital to us just announced it will be closing it’s doors on the 31 because despite it’s tries it cannot afford to remain open under Obamacare.

We have in the last couple years armed ourselves with a gun, started a garden and now do serious couponing to stock pile for emergencies which seem more and more each day are coming. We have dropped from a life lived on 65,000 – 75,000 a year to living on under 23,000 a year. We have made cut backs in every area of life and hope for the best.

We go to bed at night worried about tommorow, next week and next year .. you feel anxious all the time and panic attacks come more frequently with each passing day. I love the Lord with all my heart and I know He is in control, but am just human and one cannot stop the feelings that wash over them.

I have children and grandchildren and am scared to death what faces them in the coiming years. We all lived in within miles of each other until my children lost their jobs and could find nothing here in Mobile, Al. so they moved to Texas and have found at least some work… something is better than nothing you know. We are hundreds of miles apart now and rarely get to see them as gas is also so very high. I have a grand daughter I have never met because we cannot afford the trip and neither can they.

The U.S. economy has never even come close to recovering from the last economic downturn.  If you doubt this, just read this article.  Now the next economic crisis is rapidly approaching us.

If you think that the economic pain and suffering in this country are bad now, just wait.

We haven’t seen anything yet.

Things are going to get much, much worse.

QE4? The Big Wall Street Banks Are Already Complaining That QE3 Is Not Enough

QE3 has barely even started and some folks on Wall Street are already clamoring for QE4.  In fact, as you will read below, one equity strategist at Morgan Stanley says that he would not be “surprised” if the Federal Reserve announced another new round of money printing by the end of the year.  But this is what tends to happen when a financial system starts becoming addicted to easy money.  There is always a deep hunger for another “hit” of “currency meth”.  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was probably hoping that QE3 would satisfy the wolves on Wall Street for a while.  His promise to recklessly print 40 billion dollars a month and use it to buy mortgage-backed securities is being called “QEInfinity” by detractors.  During QE3, nearly half a trillion dollars a year will be added to the financial system until the Fed decides that it is time to stop.  This is so crazy that even former Federal Reserve officials are speaking out against it.  For example, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker says that QE3 is the “most extreme easing of monetary policy” that he could ever remember.  But the big Wall Street banks are never going to be satisfied.  If QE4 is announced, they will start calling for QE5.  As I noted in a previous article, quantitative easing tends to pump up the prices of financial assets such as stocks and commodities, and that is very good for Wall Street bankers.  So of course they want more quantitative easing.  They always want bigger profits and bigger bonus checks at the end of the year.

But at this point the Federal Reserve has already “jumped the shark”.  If you don’t know what “jumping the shark” means, you can find a definition on Wikipedia right here.  Whatever shreds of credibility the Fed had left are being washed away by a flood of newly printed money.

Those running the Fed have essentially used up all of their bullets and the next great financial crisis has not even fully erupted yet.

So what is the Fed going to do if the stock market crashes and the credit market freezes up like we saw back in 2008?

How much more extreme can the Fed go?

One can just picture “Helicopter Ben” strapping on a pair of water skis and making the following promise….

“We are going to print so much money that we’ll make Zimbabwe and the Weimar Republic look like wimps!”

Sadly, the truth is that money printing is not a “quick fix” and it never has been.  Just look at Japan.  The Bank of Japan is on round 8 of their quantitative easing strategy, and yet things in Japan continue to get even worse.

But that is not going to stop the folks on Wall Street from calling for even more quantitative easing.

For example, the top U.S. equity strategist for Morgan Stanley, Adam Parker, made headlines all over the world this week by writing the following….

“QE3 will likely be insufficient to significantly boost equity markets and we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Fed dramatically augment this program (i.e., QE4) before year-end, particularly if economic and corporate news continue to deteriorate as they have over the past few weeks.”

Did you get what he is saying there?

He says that QE3 is not going to be enough to boost equity markets (the stock market) so more money printing will be necessary.

But wasn’t QE3 supposed to be about creating jobs and helping the middle class?

I can almost hear many of you laughing out loud already.

As I have written about before, QE3 is unlikely to change the employment picture in any significant way, but what it will do is create more inflation which will squeeze the poor, the middle class and the elderly.

The truth is that quantitative easing has always been about bailing out the banks, and the hope is that this will trickle down to the folks on Main Street as well, but that never seems to happen.

Wall Street is not calling for even more quantitative easing because it would be good for you and I.  Rather, Wall Street is calling for even more quantitative easing because it would be good for them.

A CNBC article entitled “Fed May Need to Boost QE ‘Dramatically’ This Year: Pros” discussed Wall Street’s desire for even more money printing….

The Federal Reserve’s latest easing move has been nicknamed everything from “QE3″ to “QE Infinity” to “QEternal,” but some on Wall Street question whether the unprecedented move will be QEnough.

And of course everyone pretty much understands that QE3 is definitely not going to fix our economic problems.  Even most of those on Wall Street will admit as much.  In the CNBC article mentioned above, a couple of economists named Paul Ashworth and Paul Dales at Capital Economics were quoted as saying the following….

“The Fed can commit to deliver whatever economic outcome it likes, but the problem is that  the crisis in the euro-zone and/or a stand-off in negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff in the U.S. may well reveal it to be like the proverbial Emperor with no clothes”

An emperor with no clothes?

I think the analogy fits.

The Federal Reserve is going to keep printing and printing and printing and things are not going to get any better.

At this point, economists at Goldman Sachs are already projecting that QE3 will likely stretch into 2015….

The Federal Reserve’s QE3 bond buying program announced earlier this month could last until the middle of 2015 and eventually reach $2 trillion, according to an estimate from economists at Goldman Sachs.

The Goldman economists also wrote in a report that they believe the Fed will not raise the federal funds rate until 2016. This rate, which is used as a benchmark for a wide variety of consumer and business loans, has been near 0% since December 2008. The Fed said in its last statement that it expected rates would remain low until mid-2015.

So why is Wall Street whining and complaining so loudly right now?

Well, even with all of the bailouts and even with all of the help from the first two rounds of quantitative easing, things are still tough for them.

For example, Bank of America recently announced that they will be laying off 16,000 workers.

In addition, there are rumors that 100 highly paid partners at Goldman Sachs are going to be getting the axe.  It is said that Goldman will save 2 billion dollars with such a move.

We haven’t even reached the next great financial crisis and the pink slips are already flying on Wall Street.  Meredith Whitney says that she has never seen anything quite like this….

“The industry is as bad as I’ve seen it. So it’s certainly not a great time to be on Wall Street.”

But of course Wall Street is not going to get much sympathy from the rest of America.  The truth is that things have been far rougher for most of the rest of us than things have been for them.

When the last crisis hit, they got trillions of dollars in bailout money and we got nothing.

So most people are not really in a mood to shed any tears for Wall Street.

But of course the Federal Reserve is definitely hoping to help their friends on Wall Street out by printing lots of money.

You never know, by the time this is all over we may see QE4, QE5, QE Reloaded, QE With A Vengeance and QE The Return Of The Bernanke.

Meanwhile, Europe is gearing up to print money like crazy too.

A couple months ago, European Central Bank President  Mario Draghi made the following pledge….

“Within our mandate, the European Central Bank is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro, and believe me, it will be enough.”

And of course the Bank of Japan has joined the money printing party too.  The following is from a recent article by David Kotok….

The recently announced additional program by the BOJ includes a fifty-percent allocation to the purchase of ten-year Japanese government bonds. The other fifty percent will buy shorter-term government securities. Thus, the BOJ is applying half of its additional QE stimulus to extracting long duration from the government bond market, denominated in Japanese yen.

All of the central banks seem to be getting on the QE bandwagon.

But will this fix anything?

Unfortunately it will not, at least according to Paul Volcker….

“Another round of QE is understandable – but it will fail to fix the problem. There is so much liquidity in the market that adding more is not going to change the economy.”

Sadly, most Americans have a ton of faith in the people running our system, but the truth is that they really do not know what they are doing.  Just check out what Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said the other day….

“The truth, however, is that nobody on the committee, nor on our staffs at the Board of Governors and the 12 Banks, really knows what is holding back the economy. Nobody really knows what will work to get the economy back on course. And nobody – in fact, no central bank anywhere on the planet – has the experience of successfully navigating a return home from the place in which we now find ourselves. No central bank – not, at least, the Federal Reserve – has ever been on this cruise before.”

Can you imagine the head coach of a football team coming in at halftime and telling his players the following….

“Nobody on the coaching stuff really has any idea what will work.”

That sure would not inspire a lot of confidence, would it?

Perhaps the Fed should be open to some input from the rest of us.

Actually, back on September 14th the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco posted a poll on Facebook that asked the following question….

What effect do you think QE3 will have on the U.S. economy?

The following are the 5 answers that got the most votes….

-“Long term, disastrous”

-“Negative”

-“Thanks for $5 gas”

-“I can’t believe you think this will work!”

-“Fire Bernanke”

So what do you think about the quantitative easing that the Federal Reserve is doing?

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

How QE3 Will Make The Wealthy Even Wealthier While Causing Living Standards To Fall For The Rest Of Us

The mainstream media is hailing QE3 as a great victory for the U.S. economy.  On nearly every news broadcast, the “talking heads” are declaring that Ben Bernanke’s decision to pump 40 billion dollars a month into our financial system is definitely going to help solve our economic problems.  The money for QE3 is being created out of thin air and this round of quantitative easing is going to be “open-ended” which means that the Federal Reserve is going to keep doing it for as long as they feel like it.  But is this really good for the average American on the street?  No way.  Despite two previous rounds of quantitative easing, median household income has still fallen for four years in a row, the employment rate has not bounced back since the end of the last recession, and new home sales have remained near record lows.  So what have the previous rounds of quantitative easing accomplished?  Well, they have driven up the prices of financial assets.  Those that own stocks have done very well the past couple of years.  So who owns stocks?  The wealthy do.  In fact, 82 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans.  Those that have invested in commodities have also done very nicely in recent years.  We have seen gold, silver, oil and agricultural commodities all do very well.  But that also means that average Americans are paying more for basic necessities such as food and gasoline.  So the first two rounds of quantitative easing made the wealthy even wealthier while causing living standards to fall for all the rest of us.  Is there any reason to believe that QE3 will be any different?

Of course not.

This time the Federal Reserve is focused on buying mortgage-backed securities.  Yes, the same financial garbage that helped cause the last crisis.  The Fed plans to gobble up tens of billions of dollars of that trash every month from now on.

But will the Fed pay true market value for those mortgage-backed securities?  If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

So this is going to be a huge windfall for some people, and that does not include us.

Not a single penny of this 40 billion dollars a month will go directly into our hands.  The theory is that it will “filter down” to us eventually.

But that hasn’t happened with previous rounds of quantitative easing.

So where does the money go?

A recent CNBC article discussed a very interesting report from the Bank of England about the effects of quantitative easing….

It said that the Bank of England’s policies of quantitative easing – similar to the Fed’s – had benefited mainly the wealthy.

Specifically, it said that its QE program had boosted the value of stocks and bonds by 26 percent, or about $970 billion. It said that about 40 percent of those gains went to the richest 5 percent of British households.

Many said the BOE’s easing added to social anger and unrest. Dhaval Joshi, of BCA Research wrote that  “QE cash ends up overwhelmingly in profits, thereby exacerbating already extreme income inequality and the consequent social tensions that arise from it.”

Wow.

Who benefits from quantitative easing?

According to the Bank of England, it is “mainly the wealthy” who benefit.

As I noted the other day, Donald Trump said essentially the same thing when he told  CNBC the following….

“People like me will benefit from this.”

As I already discussed above, a lot of quantitative easing money gets into the financial markets where it pumps up the prices of financial assets.

But not all of it goes there.

We were told that the whole idea behind quantitative easing was that it was supposed to get banks lending again, but this has not happened.  Instead, banks are sitting on unprecedented amounts of money.  Just look at how the first two rounds of quantitative easing have caused excess reserves being held by banks to explode from close to zero to over 1.5 trillion dollars….

Of course one of the biggest problems is that the Federal Reserve is still paying banks not to lend money.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The Federal Reserve is paying banks to park money with them.  So instead of risking their money by lending it out to us, the banks can just park it at the Fed and make risk-free profits for as long as they want.

Must be nice.

If the Federal Reserve really wanted banks to start lending again, all the Fed has to do is to stop paying banks not to lend money.

But of course if more than 1.5 trillion dollars suddenly started flooding into our economy (especially after you consider the multiplier effect) we would be dealing with nightmarish inflation unlike anything we have ever seen before.

So if you want to know why inflation was not even worse after QE1 and QE2 it is because more than a trillion and a half dollars is being parked with the Fed.

So did QE1 and QE2 do any good for average Americans?

Let’s go to the charts.

This first chart shows that the percentage of working age Americans with a job has stayed extremely flat since the end of the last recession.

Does it look like QE1 and QE2 made a difference to you?  I don’t see any difference….

Okay, but what about new home sales?

Did QE1 and QE2 help them?

Nope….

But the mainstream media is still buying the baloney the Fed is pushing.

The mainstream media is promising us that home sales will soon rise and that lots of new jobs are on the way.

Sadly, the truth is that things have steadily gotten worse for average Americans over the past 4 years despite all of the money printing the Fed has been doing.  If you doubt this, just read this article.

But this is all that Ben Bernanke seems to have left.  When printing money doesn’t work, his answer is to print even more money.

QE3 is likely to cause agricultural commodities and the price of oil to rise even further.

So unless you can convince your employer to give you a corresponding raise, this is going to mean that your paychecks are not going to go as far as they did before.

And so that means a lower standard of living.

In a recent article, Bruce Krasting issued an ominous warning….

Higher inflation expectations in the US will filter around the globe. Post the extraordinary steps Ben took yesterday, people will be stocking up on “stuff”. Things like rice, flour, cooking oil, soy, wheat and sugar. If you can eat it, buy it now. It will be more expensive in a month. While your at it, fill up the gas tank, the price is going up next week and every week for the next few months.

In addition, the policy of the Federal Reserve of keeping interest rates as low as possible is absolutely crippling the finances of many retirees.  Even the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, William F. Ford, recognizes this….

One of the overlooked consequences of the Federal Reserve’s recent rounds of monetary stimulus is the adverse impact those policies have had on the interest income of savers. The prolonged and abnormally low interest-rate structure put in place by the Fed has made life particularly difficult for retirees and others who depend on conservative interest-sensitive investments. But the negative effects do not stop there. They spillover into the overall performance of the economy.

Just about everything that the Federal Reserve does these days is bad for ordinary Americans.

But the Fed is not going to stop.  The Fed is addicted to money printing now, and as a recent article by Peter Schiff explained, the Fed is just going to “up the dosage” until it gets what it wants….

The Fed will try to conjure a recovery on the backs of currency debasement. It will not stop or alter from this course. If the economy fails to respond to the drugs, Bernanke will simply up the dosage. In fact, he is so convinced we will remain dependent on quantitative easing that he explicitly said he won’t turn off the spigots even if things noticeably improve.

This is complete and total incompetence by Ben Bernanke and his cohorts over at the Fed.

Economist Marc Faber believes that Ben Bernanke should resign, and I agree with him….

“If I had messed up as badly as Bernanke I would for sure resign. The mandate of the Fed to boost asset prices and thereby create wealth is ludicrous — it doesn’t work that way. It’s a temporary boost followed by a crash.”

And yes, a crash is coming.

Bernanke can try to put it off for a while, but every action he takes is just making the eventual crash even worse.

And some in the financial community clearly recognize this.  For example, credit rating agency Egan-Jones downgraded the credit rating of the United States to AA- on Friday.

The primary reason they gave for the downgrade was QE3.

Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve are destroying the U.S. dollar and destroying our financial system for a short-term economic sugar high.

It is utter insanity.

That is why we desperately need to get the American people educated about the Federal Reserve system.  It is at the very heart of our economic problems and yet neither major political party is willing to blame the Fed for the problems that it is causing.

A bunch of unelected bankers that are not accountable to the American people are running our economy into the ground and the American people do not even realize what is happening.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  Hopefully we can get the American people to understand that more money printing is definitely not the solution to our problems.

Is There Going To Be A Stock Market Crash In The Fall?

Is the stock market going to crash by the end of this year?  Are we on the verge of major financial chaos on a global scale? Well, this is the time of the year when investors start getting nervous.  We all remember what happened during the fall of 1929, the fall of 1987 and the fall of 2008.  However, it is important to keep in mind that we do not see a stock market crash in the fall of every year.  Some years the stock market cruises through the months of September, October, November and December without any problems whatsoever.  But this year conditions certainly seem to be right for a “perfect storm” to develop.  Technical indicators are screaming that a stock market decline is imminent and sources in the financial industry all over the world are warning that a massive crisis is on the way.  What you are about to read should alarm you.  But it is not a guarantee that anything will or will not happen.  When Ben Bernanke gives his speech at the Jackson Hole summit on Friday he could announce to the rest of the world that the Federal Reserve has decided to launch QE3 and that the Fed will be printing up trillions of new dollars.  If that happened global financial markets would leap for joy.  So it is always a dangerous thing when anyone out there tries to tell you that they can “guarantee” what is about to happen in the financial world.  There are just so many moving parts.  But if we do not see major intervention by the governments of the world or by global central banks a major financial crisis could rapidly develop this fall.  The conditions are certainly right for a stock market collapse, and we could easily see a repeat of what happened back in 2008.

The truth is that the second half of 2012 looks a little bit more like the second half of 2008 with each passing day.

Just check out what Bob Janjuah of Nomura Securities has been saying….

Based on the reasons set out earlier and also covered in my two prior notes, over the August to November period I am looking for the S&P500 to trade off down from around 1400 to 1100/1000 – in other words, I expect over the next four months to see global equity markets fall by 20% to 25% from current levels and to trade at or below the lows of 2011! US equity markets, along with parts of the EM spectrum, will I think underperform eurozone equity markets, where already very little hope resides.

Others are issuing similar warnings.  For example, the following is what a couple of Bank of America analysts said in a report the other day….

Our strategists see an unusually high number of macro catalysts over the next 3-6 months that could take markets lower. We expect economic growth to disappoint in the second half of the year in anticipation of the fiscal cliff. This would exacerbate any slowdown from the deepening recession in Europe and decelerating growth in emerging markets. There is also the ongoing tension in the Middle East, the potential for a US credit downgrade and accelerating downward analyst estimate revisions. To top it off, September is seasonally the weakest month of the year for stock price returns.

There has been an unusual amount of chatter in the financial world about the September to December time frame.

That could mean something or it could mean nothing.

But is is very interesting to watch what some top financial insiders are doing with their stocks right now.

Dennis Gartman, the publisher of the Gartman Leter, has dumped all of his stocks at this point.

As I have written about previously, George Soros has dumped all of his stock in banking giants JP Morgan, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Are they just being paranoid?

Or do they know something that we do not?

If you are looking for the next “Lehman Brothers moment” in the United States, you might want to watch Morgan Stanley.  Morgan Stanley was heavily involved in the Facebook IPO disaster, earlier this year their credit rating was downgraded, and now there are persistent rumors that Morgan Stanley is in big trouble and that it will be allowed to fail.  You can check out some of these rumors for yourself here, here and here.

But of course as I have said all along the center of the coming crisis is going to be in Europe, and many analysts agree with me.  For example, the following is what the chairman of Casey Research, Doug Casey, had to say during a recent interview….

Europe is a full cycle ahead of the U.S. Its governments and its banks are both bankrupt. It’s a couple of drunks standing on the street corner holding each other up at this point. Europe is in much worse shape than the U.S. It’s highly regulated, highly taxed and much more socially unstable.

Europe is going to be the epicenter of the coming storm. Japan is waiting in the wings, as is China. This is going to be a worldwide phenomenon. Of course, the U.S. will be in it, too. We’re going to see this all over the world.

Much of southern Europe is already experiencing depression-like conditions.  Unemployment in both Greece and Spain is well above 20 percent and both economies are steadily shrinking.

Money is flowing out of Spanish banks at an unprecedented rate right now.  Just take a look at these charts.  The only thing that is going to keep the Spanish banking system from totally collapsing is outside intervention.

But the truth is that all of Europe is in big trouble.  Even German companies are slashing job right now. For example, check out what Siemens is up to….

German engineering conglomerate Siemens (SIEGn.DE) is in early internal talks to cut thousands of jobs in response to a weakening economy, particularly in Europe, a German newspaper reported.

Decisions could be made in October or November, according to daily Boersen-Zeitung, which did not specify its sources.

A Siemens spokesman declined to comment.

We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and at some point that bubble is going to burst in a very messy way.

It is vital that people understand that our system is not even close to sustainable.

Knowing exactly when it will collapse is not nearly as important as understanding that a collapse is absolutely inevitable.

I think what former World Bank economist Richard Duncan had to say recently is very helpful….

“The explosion in credit drove economic growth in the U.S. and around the world, and now that’s the only thing that’s keeping us from collapsing in a debt/deflation spiral,” he said. “[What] I think everybody needs to understand is that the kind of economy that we have now, it’s not capitalism. It has very little in common with capitalism. Capitalism was an economic system in which the government played very little role …. Under capitalism, gold was money and the government had nothing to do with it. Now the central bank creates the money and manipulates its value.”

And he is very right.

We aren’t seeing a failure of capitalism.

What we are witnessing is the failure of debt-based central banking.

And if you think that the global elite are not aware of what is happening then you have not been paying attention.

This summer the global elite have been preparing very hard.  Either they are getting very paranoid or they know things that we do not.

If you want to catch up on what the global elite have been up to recently, check out these three articles that I have published previously….

-“Are The Government And The Big Banks Quietly Preparing For An Imminent Financial Collapse?

-“Startling Evidence That Central Banks And Wall Street Insiders Are Rapidly Preparing For Something BIG

-“Jacob Rothschild, John Paulson And George Soros Are All Betting That Financial Disaster Is Coming

If you are waiting for the nightly news to tell you what to do, then you have not learned anything.

Did anyone in the mainstream media warn you about what was about to happen back in 2008?

Of course not.

The “authorities” insisted that everything was going to be just fine and many average Americans were absolutely wiped out.

So don’t expect someone to come along and nicely inform you that your retirement savings are about to be absolutely devastated.

In this day and age it is absolutely critical for people to learn to think for themselves.

Barack Obama is not going to save you.

Mitt Romney is not going to save you.

The U.S. Congress is not going to save you.  They are too busy living the high life at taxpayer expense.

The system is not looking out for you.  Nobody is really going to care if your financial planning gets turned upside down.  This is a cold, cruel world and you need to understand how the game is played.  The financial insiders are looking out for themselves and most of them usually are able to avoid financial disaster.

Average folks like you and I are normally not so fortunate.

There are lots of warning signs that indicate that this fall could be a very turbulent time for global financial markets.

Ignore them at your own peril.

QE3? Several Top Federal Reserve Officials Seem To Think That More Quantitative Easing Is Necessary

The end of QE2 is still several months away and yet quite a few top Federal Reserve officials are already hinting that more quantitative easing may be necessary.  Apparently the U.S. economy is not moving forward as rapidly as they would like.  So it looks like “QE3″ could be on the way.  But did anyone out there actually believe that quantitative easing would come to a complete stop in June?  Whether they call it “QE3″ or something else entirely, the reality of the matter is that we have now come to a time when the Federal Reserve is going to be continually purchasing a significant percentage of all new U.S. government debt.  This is essentially a gigantic Ponzi scheme, but sadly there is just not enough money in the rest of the world to be able to continue to feed the U.S. government’s voracious appetite for debt.  Right now Ben Bernanke and his cohorts are trying to break the news to us gently, but anyone with half a brain can see what is happening.  The only way for the game to keep going is for the Federal Reserve to print lots more money, and that is going to be incredibly bad for the U.S. economy in the long run.

The other day James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, made national headlines when he declared that Fed officials should “never say never” when it comes to QE3 and more quantitative easing.  But the truth is that other Fed officials have been dropping public hints about the “need” for QE3 for several weeks now.  Just consider the following quotes from top Federal Reserve officials….

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in response to a question about the potential for QE3 at the National Press Club….

“In the end, we’ll just ask the same questions. Where’s the economy going, and what do various inflation indicator look like? We’ll ask those questions. If unemployment is still too low, then we may continue. If we’re moving towards full employment, then we won’t need to stimulate more.”

William Dudley, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York during a recent speech at New York University….

“The economy can be allowed to grow rapidly for quite some time before there is a real risk that shrinking slack will result in a rise in underlying inflation.”

James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis during a recent speech at the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce….

“The natural debate now is whether to complete the program, or to taper off to a somewhat lower level of asset purchases. Quantitative easing has been an effective tool, even while the policy rate is near zero. The economic outlook has improved since the program was announced.”

Charles Evans, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago during a recent interview with The Financial Times….

“The message that comes out of what I think of as high-quality research on this subject is that policy ought to remain accommodative for really quite a while, even a while after conditions start to improve.”

So how in the world did things get to the point where the Federal Reserve feels forced to recklessly print gigantic piles of money?

Well, it didn’t happen overnight.  Back during the 1980s and 1990s there were many people that desperately tried to warn about what would happen if U.S. government debt was not brought under control.

Unfortunately, our politicians did not heed those warnings.

Today, the U.S. national debt has reached a grand total of $14,137,541,098,872.71.  It is 14 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.  It is the largest single debt in the history of the world.

So why don’t our politicians just balance the budget now so that we don’t keep having to borrow so much money?

Well, there are some huge problems.  First of all, when you combine entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare with interest on the national debt, it comes to approximately 64 percent of all federal government spending.

But that is not the bad news.

In the years ahead, entitlement spending and interest on the national debt are both projected to absolutely explode.

We are rapidly approaching a time when spending on entitlement programs and interest on the national debt will be significantly greater than all of the revenue that the federal government brings in each year.  All federal revenues will be spoken for even before a single penny is spent on defense, education, running the government or anything else.

Either entitlement programs are going to have to be seriously reformed or the U.S. government is going to have to come up with a massive amount of extra money from somewhere or the U.S. government is going to have to borrow increasingly large piles of money from someone.

Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions and most of our politicians are scared to death to touch entitlement programs because it will mean that they will lose votes.

But our entitlement programs were never meant to be as massive as they are today.  Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 American is on Medicaid.

Obviously something has to be done, because the debt that we are passing on to future generations is absolutely criminal.

For example, every single child born in America today inherits $45,000 in U.S. government debt.

Isn’t that lovely?

Of course our liberal friends believe that the answer is just to raise taxes.

Oh really?

The truth is that our taxation system is deeply broken.

Small business owners and middle class Americans are being taxed into oblivion while those at the top of the food chain often pay no federal taxes whatsoever.

For example, did you know that Citigroup did not pay a dime of federal taxes in the third quarter?  Meanwhile, their executives continue to bring in bonus packages worth millions.

Did you know that even though Boeing receives billions in federal subsidies every year and even though it has a bunch of juicy government contracts it did not pay a single penny in federal corporate income taxes from 2008 to 2010?

Did you know that while Exxon-Mobil did pay $15 billion in taxes in 2009, not a single penny went to the U.S. government?  Meanwhile, their CEO brought in over 29 million dollars in total compensation that year.

You can find a lot more examples of this phenomenon right here.

Those at the top of the food chain are experts at avoiding federal taxes.  So liberals can raise rates all they want but it won’t do much good.

As I have written about previously, the truth is that approximately a third of all the wealth in the world is now held in “offshore” banks.  The ultra-wealthy and the monolithic predator corporations that dominate the global economy don’t mess around when it comes to paying taxes.  They don’t care if they aren’t paying their “fair share”.  They simply know how to play the game and they laugh at all the rest of us.

Our entire system is broken beyond repair and needs to be reconstructed from the ground up.

But of course that simply is not going to happen.

So what can be done?

Not a whole heck of a lot.

The truth is that the U.S. economy is on the verge of a major collapse.

Marc Faber, the author of the Gloom, Boom and Doom report recently gave a speech in which he declared that the U.S. financial system is in such disastrous shape that only a “reboot” will be able to save it….

I think we are all doomed. I think what will happen is that we are in the midst of a kind of a crack-up boom that is not sustainable, that eventually the economy will deteriorate, that there will be more money-printing, and then you have inflation, and a poor economy, an extreme form of stagflation, and, eventually, in that situation, countries go to war, and, as a whole, derivatives, the market, and everything will collapse, and like a computer when it crashes, you will have to reboot it.

But can we just “reboot” the system and expect things to go back to normal?

Of course not.

The truth is that when the rest of the world completely loses faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasuries the dominoes are going to start to fall.  Eventually we are going to see a financial panic that is going to make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.  Our economic system will massively implode as all of the gigantic mountains of debt and paper money collapse like a house of cards.

Right now the Federal Reserve is desperately trying to hold the system together by “papering over” all of the mistakes.  But in the end it is not going to work.  In fact, what we are witnessing now are the very early stages of hyperinflation.  A lot of other nations in the past have thought that they could just print their way out of trouble, but many of those “experiments” ended in total disaster.

Marc Faber is certainly right about one thing – all of this money printing is going to give us substantial inflation to go along with the high unemployment that we already have.  This is called “stagflation” and anyone that remembers the 1970s knows that it is not a lot of fun.

But the Federal Reserve seems absolutely determined to print more money.  Fed officials are doing the same thing now that they did right before QE2.  They are dropping hints about QE3 and they are trying to break it to us gently.

Well, it is about time that someone told the American people the truth.  All of this money printing is going to end in disaster and so you had better get prepared.

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