The wildfires that are roaring through northern California are already “among the most destructive fire events in U.S. history”, and by the time it is all said and done this could be the worst wildfire season in the history of the state. So far, fires have scorched more than 250 square miles, and more than 3,500 homes and businesses have already been destroyed. The official death toll has risen to 21, but that is expected to rise dramatically because over 600 missing persons reports have been filed with authorities. The worst damage has been done in Napa and Sonoma counties, and you can see some deeply troubling photos of the devastation here and here.
Unfortunately, this crisis is far from over. In fact, the National Weather Service has just issued a pair of “red flag warnings”…
The weather forecast is not looking good for those living in wine country, and for those firefighters trying to get a handle on the 22 wildfires raging through Northern California, which broke out Sunday and are barely contained more than three days later.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the North and East bays starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday and midnight on Thursday respectively.
That means winds can gust from 20 mph to 50 mph in the higher elevation areas, fanning the flames down mountains and into the cities.
So as bad as things are at this moment, the truth is that they are going to get even worse over the next 24 hours.
And that is quite sobering to hear, because this is already one of “the most destructive fire events in U.S. history”…
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said fire activity increased significantly, destroying more buildings and forcing more mandatory evacuations. The wind-whipped, fast moving cluster of blazes ranks among the most destructive fire events in U.S. history.
“This is a serious, critical, catastrophic event,” Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said. “It’s pure devastation, and it’s going to take a while to get out and comb through all this.”
Of course this crisis comes on the heels of several other major disasters. In recent weeks our nation has had to deal with Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and the Las Vegas shooting, and many have pointed out that the U.S. has not seen a series of disastrous events such as this in a very long time.
It would be hard to overstate the devastation that we have witnessed in northern California so far. In some areas, it literally looks like a war zone…
‘It looks like a bombing run here,’ said winemaker Joe Nielsen of Santa Rosa’s Donelan Family Wines, speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle. ‘Just chimneys and burnt-out cars and cooked trees.’
What would you do if your home burned to the ground?
Perhaps you could use the insurance money to rebuild eventually, but what would you do in the meanwhile?
Everywhere you go in northern California the smell of smoke fills the air. At this point it is so bad that even San Francisco is reporting “the worst air quality ever recorded”…
“We are reporting the worst air quality ever recorded for smoke in many parts of the Bay Area,” said Tom Flannigan, spokesman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. “This is similar to what you see in Beijing China in bad air days there.”
Soot readings in many areas have reached levels considered very unhealthy or hazardous, air quality regulators said.
And the economic damage that is being done by these fires is going to be felt for many, many years to come.
As the quote below explains, California accounts for approximately 85 percent of the wine production in the United States, and Napa and Sonoma counties are the heart of the wine industry in the state…
Wine industry experts say that even if a winery’s vineyards remain standing, they face steep challenges as their employees struggle with burned or damaged homes. The region counts wine and tourism as top employers, and many workers who pick grapes or work in hotels may be compelled to relocate after losing everything.
Napa and Sonoma counties are home to around 900 wineries (of 4,600 statewide), with most boutique businesses making higher-end wines. The two counties represent 13% of the state’s output. And the state itself supplies 85% of the nation’s wine production, making it the fourth-largest producer of wines after Italy, France and Spain.
Expect the price of wine to go up substantially in the months ahead, and this is going to be a huge hit for one of the most economically prosperous areas of the state. Many of the facilities that have been destroyed will never be rebuilt, and needless to say the tourism industry in northern California will not be the same for a very long time.
But the true extent of the devastation will not be known until the crisis is over, and it looks like the worst chapters may still be ahead. USA Today is reporting that no rain is in the forecast, and strong winds are going to continue to push wildfires very rapidly across the region…
“No rainfall is forecast for ongoing fires in California,” the weather service said. “Strong winds behind the front will bring elevated-to-critical fire weather threats to active fires across northern California today into Thursday.”
Please pray for the people living in northern California. Normally, it is one of the most beautiful areas on the entire planet, but now it is literally being transformed into a complete and total nightmare.
For years, I have been writing about the alarming increase in the intensity of wildfires all over the country. One of the big reasons for this is the fact that the federal government is not properly managing the lands under their control, and so wildfires tend to burn more rapidly on federally-owned lands. It is time for the federal government to start turning over ownership of these lands to the states, and that is something that I plan to fight very hard to accomplish.
Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.
The nation is still reeling from a series of major disasters in recent weeks, and now another one has hit us. At this moment, an enormous “firestorm” is consuming tens of thousands of acres in eight counties in northern California. Wind gusts of up to 50 mph are rapidly driving 15 large wildfires across Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Yuba, Nevada, Calaveras and Butte counties, and the devastation that is taking place is being described as “like Armageddon”. Ultimately, it looks like this is going to be one of the worst months for wildfires in the history of the state, and all of this comes on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and the Las Vegas shooting. Ever since late August, it seems like all hell has broken loose in America.
So far at least 1,500 structures have been destroyed, at least 20,000 people have been evacuated and at least 73,000 acres have been burned. The smell of smoke has reached San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco, and California Governor Jerry Brown has officially declared a state of emergency.
If these wildfires were just consuming isolated parts of northern California, this wouldn’t be such a big story. The reason why this crisis is getting so much attention from the national media is because some of these fires are raging “unchecked through high-end resorts, grocery stores and tree-lined neighborhoods”…
More than a dozen wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through California wine country Monday, destroying at least 1,500 homes and businesses and sending thousands fleeing as flames raged unchecked through high-end resorts, grocery stores and tree-lined neighborhoods.
As he fled through the ember-stewn streets of his neighborhood in Santa Rosa, Jeff Okrepkie knew it was probably the last time he would see his home of the past five years standing.
His worst fears were confirmed Monday morning, when a friend sent him a photo of what was left: a smoldering heap of burnt metal and debris.
Could you imagine how helpless you would feel if you were forced to evacuate and you knew that your home and everything that you owned was about to be consumed by fire?
That is what thousands of northern Californians are facing right now. In fact, many are getting out with so little time to spare that they can literally feel the heat from the flames as they drive away…
“It was an inferno like you’ve never seen before,” said Marian Williams, who caravanned with neighbors before dawn as one of the wildfires reached the vineyards and ridges at her small Sonoma County town of Kenwood.
Ms Williams could feel the heat of her fire through the car as she fled. “Trees were on fire like torches,” she said.
At this point, Santa Rosa appears to be getting hit worse than just about anywhere else.
According to Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott, one major neighborhood within the city has already been completely destroyed…
When winds pushed the Tubbs fire into Santa Rosa on Sunday night, it created “a firestorm within a city,” Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott said.
“It’s fair to say it’s been destroyed,” Pimlot said of Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood. Hotels, a big box store and a high school burned as the flames danced around the 101 Freeway.
“Late last night starting around 10 o’clock you had 50-60 mph winds that surfaced — really across the whole northern half of the state,” he said. “Every spark is going to ignite.”
Authorities are telling us that the big box store that was destroyed was a Kmart, and the hotel that was burned to the ground was a Hilton. But even more disturbing was what happened to Journey’s End retirement community…
In Santa Rosa, the fire gutted a Hilton hotel and flattened the Journey’s End retirement community, a trailer park not far from the freeway that crosses the city. Most of the trailers were leveled, leaving a smoldering debris field of household appliances, filing cabinets and the charred personal effects of more than 100 residents. Pieces of ash fell like snowflake flurries, and a pall of white smoke across the city blotted out the sun.
Insurance will cover the Kmart and the Hilton, but it is probably fair to say that a lot of the people living in that trailer park did not have adequate coverage.
Sadly, many of them will now be forced to start over with essentially nothing.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but wildfires are becoming a much bigger problem than they used to be. We were already not too far behind the record pace that was set in 2015, and if this month continues to be really bad we could potentially set the all-time national record for number of acres burned in a single year by the end of 2017.
As I discuss in my brand new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters”, our planet is becoming increasingly unstable. And for those living in the state of California, I would be extremely concerned about all of the shaking that we have been witnessing along the North American portion of the “Ring of Fire” lately. The experts assure us that we are way overdue for “the Big One”, and when it happens it is going to be the worst disaster in the modern history of the state.
But hopefully things will start to settle down for at least a little while in our nation, because we have been put through quite a lot lately. After Harvey, Irma, Las Vegas and now these California wildfires, we could definitely use some time to recover.
And if you happen to live in northern California, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to tell us what is going on in your area by posting a comment below…
Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.
Are millions of Americans about to see the big, juicy pensions that they were counting on to fund their golden years go up in flames in the biggest financial disaster in U.S. history? When Bloomberg published an editorial entitled “Pension Crisis Too Big for Markets to Ignore“, it simply confirmed what a lot of people already knew to be true. Pension funds all over America are woefully underfunded, and they have been pouring mind boggling amounts of money into very risky investments such as Internet stocks and commercial mortgages. Just like with subprime mortgages in 2008, this is a crisis that everyone can see coming well in advance, and yet nothing is being done about it.
On a day to day basis, Americans generally don’t think very much about pensions. Most of those that have been promised pensions simply have faith that they will be there when they need them.
Unfortunately, the truth is that pension plans all over the country are severely underfunded, and this has already resulted in local fiascos such as the one that we just witnessed in Dallas.
But what happened in Dallas is just the very small tip of a very large iceberg. According to Bloomberg, unfunded pension obligations on a national basis “have risen to $1.9 trillion from $292 billion since 2007″…
As was the case with the subprime crisis, the writing appears to be on the wall. And yet calamity has yet to strike. How so? Call it the triumvirate of conspirators – the actuaries, accountants and their accomplices in office. Throw in the law of big numbers, very big numbers, and you get to a disaster in a seemingly permanent state of making. Unfunded pension obligations have risen to $1.9 trillion from $292 billion since 2007.
And of course that $1.9 trillion number is not actually the real number.
That same Bloomberg article goes on to admit that if honest math was being used that the real number would actually be closer to 6 trillion dollars…
So why not just flip the switch and require truth and honesty in public pension math? Too many cities and potentially states would buckle under the weight of more realistic assumed rates of return. By some estimates, unfunded liabilities would triple to upwards of $6 trillion if the prevailing yields on Treasuries were used. That would translate into much steeper funding requirements at a time when budgets are already severely constrained. Pockets of the country would face essential public service budgets being slashed to dangerous levels.
So where are all of these pensions eventually going to come up with 6 trillion dollars?
That is a very good question.
Ultimately, even if financial conditions stay as stable as they are right now, a whole lot of people are not going to get the money that they were promised.
But things will get really “interesting” if we see a major downturn in the financial markets. According to Dave Kranzler, if the stock market were to fall by 10 percent or more and stay there for a number of months, that “would cause every single public pension fund to blow up”. And Kranzler is also deeply concerned about the tremendous amount of exposure that these pension funds have to commercial mortgages…
Circling back to the mall/REIT ticking time-bomb, while the Fed can keep the stock market propped up as means of preventing an immediate nuclear melt-down in U.S. pensions (all of which are substantially “maxed-out” in their mandated equities allocation), the collapse of commercial mortgage-back securities (CMBS) will have the affect of launching a nuclear sub-missile directly into the side of the U.S. financial system.
The commercial mortgage market is about $3 trillion, of which about $1 trillion has been packaged into asset-backed securities and stuffed into yield-starved pension funds. Without a doubt, the same degree of fraud of has been used to concoct the various tranches in these CMBS trusts that was employed during the mid-2000’s mortgage/housing bubble, with full cooperation of the ratings agencies then and now. Just like in 2008, with the derivatives that have been layered into the mix, the embedded leverage in the commercial mortgage/CMBS/REIT model is the financial equivalent of the Fukushima nuclear power plant collapse.
I have previously talked about the ongoing retail apocalypse in the United States which threatens to make so many of these commercial mortgage securities go bad. It is being projected that somewhere around 3,500 stores will close in the months ahead, and this is going to absolutely devastate mall owners. In turn, it is inevitable that a lot of their debts will start to go bad, and pension funds will be hit extremely hard by this.
But the coming stock market crash is going to hit pension funds even harder. Stocks are ridiculously overvalued right now, and if they simply return to “normal valuations”, pension funds are going to lose trillions of dollars.
We are talking about a financial tsunami that will be absolutely unprecedented in our history, and yet investors continue to act like the party can last forever. In fact, we just learned that margin debt on Wall Street has just hit another brand new record high…
The latest data from the New York Stock Exchange show margin debt, or cash borrowed to buy shares, hit a record $528.2 billion in February, up from its prior high of $513.3 billion in January.
Of course my regular readers already know that margin debt also shot up to dramatic peaks just before the last two stock market crashes as well…
Prior periods when margin debt hit records occurred around stock market peaks, including 2000 when the dot-com stock boom went bust, and 2007 when stocks began to crater amid early signs of trouble in the housing market ahead of the 2008 financial crisis.
Margin debt jumped 22% from the end of 1999 before peaking in March 2000 at $278.5 billion, the same month stocks peaked. In 2007, margin debt shot up to $381.4 billion in July, three months before stocks topped.
We are perfectly primed for the greatest financial disaster in American history, and yet very few people are sounding the alarm.
This massive financial bubble is a ticking time bomb, and when it finally goes off it is going to wipe out virtually every pension fund in the United States.
Today, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will retire. This is going to happen day after day, month after month, year after year until 2030. It is the greatest demographic tsunami in the history of the United States, and we are woefully unprepared for it. We have made financial promises to the Baby Boomers worth tens of trillions of dollars that we simply are not going to be able to keep. Even if we didn’t have all of the other massive economic problems that we are currently dealing with, this retirement crisis would be enough to destroy our economy all by itself. During the first half of this century, the number of senior citizens in the United States is being projected to more than double. As a nation, we are already drowning in debt. So where in the world are we going to get the money to take care of all of these elderly people?
The Baby Boomer generation is so massive that it has fundamentally changed America with each stage that it has gone through. When the Baby Boomers were young, sales of diapers and toys absolutely skyrocketed. When they became young adults, they pioneered social changes that permanently altered our society. Much of the time, these changes were for the worse.
According to the New York Post, overall household spending peaks when we reach the age of 46. And guess what year the peak of the Baby Boom generation reached that age?…
People tend, for instance, to buy houses at about the same age — age 31 or so. Around age 53 is when people tend to buy their luxury cars — after the kids have finished college, before old age sets in. Demographics can even tell us when your household spending on potato chips is likely to peak — when the head of it is about 42.
Ultimately the size of the US economy is simply the total of what we’re all spending. Overall household spending hits a high when we’re about 46. So the peak of the Baby Boom (1961) plus 46 suggests that a high point in the US economy should be about 2007, with a long, slow decline to follow for years to come.
And according to that same article, the Congressional Budget Office is also projecting that an aging population will lead to diminished economic growth in the years ahead…
Lost in the discussion of this week’s Congressional Budget Office report (which said 2.5 million fewer Americans would be working because of Obamacare) was its prediction that aging will be a major drag on growth: “Beyond 2017,” said the report, “CBO expects that economic growth will diminish to a pace that is well below the average seen over the past several decades [due in large part to] slower growth in the labor force because of the aging of the population.”
So we have a problem. Our population is rapidly aging, and an immense amount of economic resources is going to be required to care for them all.
Unfortunately, this is happening at a time when our economy is steadily declining.
The following are some of the hard numbers about the demographic tsunami which is now beginning to overtake us…
1. Right now, there are somewhere around 40 million senior citizens in the United States. By 2050 that number is projected to skyrocket to 89 million.
2. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 29 percent of all American workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.
3. One poll discovered that 26 percent of all Americans in the 46 to 64-year-old age bracket have no personal savings whatsoever.
4. According to a survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, “60 percent of American workers said the total value of their savings and investments is less than $25,000”.
5. 67 percent of all American workers believe that they “are a little or a lot behind schedule on saving for retirement”.
6. A study conducted by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research found that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.
7. Back in 1991, half of all American workers planned to retire before they reached the age of 65. Today, that number has declined to 23 percent.
8. According to one recent survey, 70 percent of all American workers expect to continue working once they are “retired”.
9. A poll conducted by CESI Debt Solutions found that 56 percent of American retirees still had outstanding debts when they retired.
10. A study by a law professor at the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States. Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.
11. Today, only 10 percent of private companies in the U.S. provide guaranteed lifelong pensions for their employees.
12. According to Northwestern University Professor John Rauh, the total amount of unfunded pension and healthcare obligations for retirees that state and local governments across the United States have accumulated is 4.4 trillion dollars.
13. Right now, the American people spend approximately 2.8 trillion dollars on health care, and it is being projected that due to our aging population health care spending will rise to an astounding 4.5 trillion dollars in 2019.
14. Incredibly, the United States spends more on health care than China, Japan, Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia combined.
15. If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.
16. When Medicare was first established, we were told that it would cost about $12 billion a year by the time 1990 rolled around. Instead, the federal government ended up spending $110 billion on the program in 1990, and the federal government spent approximately $600 billion on the program in 2013.
17. It is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.
18. At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years. That comes to approximately $328,404 for every single household in the United States.
19. In 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits. Today, that number has fallen to 2.5 workers, and if you eliminate all government workers, that leaves only 1.6 private sector workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.
20. Right now, there are approximately 63 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits. By 2035, that number is projected to soar to an astounding 91 million.
21. Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.
22. The U.S. government is facing a total of 222 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities during the years ahead. Social Security and Medicare make up the bulk of that.
So where are we going to get the money?
That is a very good question.
The generations following the Baby Boomers are going to have to try to figure out a way to navigate this crisis. The bright future that they were supposed to have has been destroyed by our foolishness and our reckless accumulation of debt.
But do they actually deserve a “bright future”? Perhaps they deserve to spend their years slaving away to support previous generations during their golden years. Young people today tend to be extremely greedy, self-centered and lacking in compassion. They start blogs with titles such as “Selfies With Homeless People“. Here is one example from that blog…
Of course not all young people are like that. Some are shining examples of what young Americans should be.
Unfortunately, those that are on the right path are a relatively small minority.
In the end, it is our choices that define us, and ultimately America may get exactly what it deserves.
Now that “bail-ins” have become accepted practice all over the planet, no bank account and no pension fund will ever be 100% safe again. In fact, Cyprus-style wealth confiscation is already starting to happen all around the world. As you will read about below, private pension funds were just raided by the government in Poland, and a “bail-in” is being organized for one of the largest banks in Italy. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. The precedent that was set in Cyprus is being used as a template for establishing bail-in procedures in New Zealand, Canada and all over Europe. It is only a matter of time before we see this exact same type of thing happen in the United States as well. From now on, anyone that keeps a large amount of money in any single bank account or retirement fund is being incredibly foolish.
Let’s take a look at a few of the examples of how Cyprus-style wealth confiscation is now moving forward all over the globe…
For years, there have been rumors that someday the U.S. government would raid private pension funds.
Well, in Poland it just happened.
According to Reuters, private pension funds were raided in order to reduce the size of the government debt…
Poland said on Wednesday it will transfer to the state many of the assets held by private pension funds, slashing public debt but putting in doubt the future of the multi-billion-euro funds, many of them foreign-owned.
The Polish government is doing the best that it can to make this sound like some sort of complicated legal maneuver, but the truth is that what they have done is stolen private assets without giving any compensation in return…
The Polish pension funds’ organisation said the changes may be unconstitutional because the government is taking private assets away from them without offering any compensation.
Announcing the long-awaited overhaul of state-guaranteed pensions, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said private funds within the state-guaranteed system would have their bond holdings transferred to a state pension vehicle, but keep their equity holdings.
He said that what remained in citizens’ pension pots in the private funds will be gradually transferred into the state vehicle over the last 10 years before savers hit retirement age.
For years, Iceland has been applauded for how they handled the last financial crisis. But now it is being proposed that the “blanket guarantee” that currently applies to all bank accounts should be reduced to 100,000 euros. Will this open the door for “haircuts” to be applied to bank account balances above that amount?…
Following the crisis in October 2008, Iceland’s government declared all deposits in domestic financial institutions were ‘blanket’ guaranteed – an Emergency Act that was reafrmed twice since. However, according to RUV, the finance minister is proposing to restrict this guarantee to only deposits less-than-EUR100,000. While some might see the removal of an ’emergency’ measure as a positive, it is of course sadly reminiscent of the European Union “template” to haircut large depositors. This is coincidental (threatening) timing given the current stagnation of talks between Iceland bank creditors and the government over haircuts and lifting capital controls – which have restricted the outflows of around $8 billion.
European finance ministers have agreed to a plan that would make “bail-ins” the standard procedure for rescuing “too big to fail” banks in the future. The following is how CNN described this plan…
European Union finance ministers approved a plan Thursday for dealing with future bank bailouts, forcing bondholders and shareholders to take the hit for bank rescues ahead of taxpayers.
The new framework requires bondholders, shareholders and large depositors with over 100,000 euros to be first to suffer losses when banks fail. Depositors with less than 100,000 euros will be protected. Taxpayer funds would be used only as a last resort.
What this means is that if you have over 100,000 euros in a bank account in Europe, you could lose every single bit of the unprotected amount if your bank collapses.
As Zero Hedge reported on Tuesday, a “bail-in” is now being organized for the oldest bank in Italy…
Recall that three weeks ago we warned that “Monti Paschi Faces Bail-In As Capital Needs Point To Nationalization” although we left open the question of “who will get the haircut including senior bondholders and depositors…. given the small size of sub-debt in the capital structures.” Today, as many expected on the day following the German elections, the dominos are finally starting to wobble, and as we predicted, Monte Paschi, Italy’s oldest and according to many, most insolvent bank, quietly commenced a bondholder “bail in” after it said that it suspended interest payments on three hybrid notes following demands by European authorities that bondholders contribute to the restructuring of the bailed out Italian lender. Remember what Diesel-BOOM said about Cyprus – that it is a template? He wasn’t joking.
As Bloomberg reports, Monte Paschi “said in a statement that it won’t pay interest on about 481 million euros ($650 million) of outstanding hybrid notes issued through MPS Capital Trust II and Antonveneta Capital Trusts I and II.” Why these notes? Because hybrid bondholders have zero protections and zero recourse. “Under the terms of the undated notes, the Siena, Italy-based lender is allowed to suspend interest without defaulting and doesn’t have to make up the missed coupons when payments resume.” Then again hybrids, to quote the Dutchman, are just the template for the balance of the bank’s balance sheet.
Why is this happening now? Simple: the Merkel reelection is in the bag, and the EURUSD is too high (recall Adidas’ laments from last week). Furthermore, if the ECB proceeds with another LTRO as many believe it will, it will force the EURUSD even higher, surging from even more unwanted liquidity. So what to do? Why stage a small, contained crisis of course. Such as a bail in by a major Italian bank. The good news for now is that depositors are untouched. Unfortunately, with depositor cash on the wrong end of the (un)secured liability continuum it is only a matter of time before those with uninsured deposits share some of the Cypriot pain. After all, in the brave New Normal insolvent world, “it is only fair.”
Fortunately, it does not appear that this particular bail-in will hit private bank accounts (at least for now), but it does show that European officials are very serious about applying bail-in procedures when a major bank fails.
The New Zealand government has been discussing implementing a “bail-in” system to deal with any future major bank failures. The following comes from a New Zealand news source…
The National Government are pushing a Cyprus-style solution to bank failure in New Zealand which will see small depositors lose some of their savings to fund big bank bailouts, the Green Party said today.
Open Bank Resolution (OBR) is Finance Minister Bill English’s favoured option dealing with a major bank failure. If a bank fails under OBR, all depositors will have their savings reduced overnight to fund the bank’s bail out.
“Bill English is proposing a Cyprus-style solution for managing bank failure here in New Zealand – a solution that will see small depositors lose some of their savings to fund big bank bailouts,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.
“The Reserve Bank is in the final stages of implementing a system of managing bank failure called Open Bank Resolution. The scheme will put all bank depositors on the hook for bailing out their bank.
“Depositors will overnight have their savings shaved by the amount needed to keep the bank afloat.”
Incredibly, even Canada is moving toward adopting these “bank bail-ins”. In a previous article, I explained that “bail-ins” were even part of the new Canadian government budget…
Cyprus-style “bail-ins” are actually proposed in the new Canadian government budget. When I first heard about this I was quite skeptical, so I went and looked it up for myself. And guess what? It is right there in black and white on pages 144 and 145 of “Economic Action Plan 2013” which the Harper government has already submitted to the House of Commons. This new budget actually proposes “to implement a ‘bail-in’ regime for systemically important banks” in Canada. “Economic Action Plan 2013” was submitted on March 21st, which means that this “bail-in regime” was likely being planned long before the crisis in Cyprus ever erupted.
So what does all of this mean for us?
It means that the governments of the world are eyeing our money as part of the solution to any future failures of major banks.
As a result, there is no longer any truly “safe” place to put your money.
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to spread your money around. In other words, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
If you have your money a bunch of different places, it is going to be much harder for the government to grab it all.
But if you don’t listen to the warnings and you continue to keep all of your wealth in one giant pile somewhere, don’t be surprised when you get wiped out in a single moment someday.
The pension nightmare that is at the heart of the horrific financial crisis in Detroit is just the tip of the iceberg of the coming retirement crisis that will shake America to the core. Right now, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers are hitting the age of 65 every single day, and this will continue to happen every single day until the year 2030. As a society, we have made trillions of dollars of financial promises to these Baby Boomers, and there is no way that we are going to be able to keep those promises. The money simply is not there. Yes, I suppose that we could eventually see a “super devaluation” of the U.S. dollar and keep our promises to the Baby Boomers using currency that is not worth much more than Monopoly money, but as it stands right now we simply do not have the resources to do what we said that we were going to do. The number of senior citizens in the United States is projected to more than double by the middle of the century, and it would have been nearly impossible to support them all even if we weren’t in the midst of a long-term economic decline. Tens of millions of Americans that are eagerly looking forward to retirement are going to be in for a very rude awakening in the years ahead. There is going to be a lot of heartache and a lot of broken promises.
What is going on in Detroit right now is a perfect example of what will soon be happening all over the nation. Many city workers stuck with their jobs for decades because of the promise of a nice pension at the end of the rainbow. But now those promises are going up in smoke. There has even been talk that retirees will only end up getting about 10 cents for every dollar that they were promised.
Needless to say, many pensioners are extremely angry that the promises that were made to them are not going to be kept. The following is from a recent article in the New York Times…
Many retirees see the plan to cut their pensions as a betrayal, saying that they kept their end of a deal but that the city is now reneging. Retired city workers, police officers and 911 operators said in interviews that the promise of reliable retirement income had helped draw them to work for the City of Detroit in the first place, even if they sometimes had to accept smaller salaries or work nights or weekends.
“Does Detroit have a problem?” asked William Shine, 76, a retired police sergeant. “Absolutely. Did I create it? I don’t think so. They made me some promises, and I made them some promises. I kept my promises. They’re not going to keep theirs.”
But Detroit is far from an isolated case. As Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said the other day, many other cities are heading down the exact same path…
“We may be one of the first. We are the largest. But we absolutely will not be the last.”
Yes, Detroit’s financial problems are immense. But other major U.S. cities are facing unfunded pension liabilities that are even worse.
For example, here are the unfunded pension liabilities for four financially-troubled large U.S. cities…
Detroit: $3.5 billion
Baltimore: $680 million
Los Angeles: $9.4 billion
Chicago: $19 billion
When you break it down on a per citizen basis, Detroit is actually in better shape than the others…
Los Angeles: $8,437
And many state governments are in similar shape. Right now, the state of Illinois has unfunded pension liabilities that total approximately $100 billion.
There are some financial “journalists” out there that are attempting to downplay this problem, but sticking our heads in the sand is not going to make any of this go away.
According to Northwestern University Professor John Rauh, the total amount of unfunded pension and healthcare obligations for retirees that state and local governments across the United States have accumulated is 4.4 trillion dollars.
So where are they going to get that money?
They are going to raise your taxes of course.
Just check out what is happening right now in Scranton, Pennsylvania…
Scranton taxpayers could face a 117 percent increase in taxes next year as the city’s finances continue to spiral out of control.
A new analysis by the Pennsylvania Economy League projects an $18 million deficit for 2014, an amount so massive it outpaces the approximate $17 million the struggling city collects annually
A 117 percent tax increase?
What would Dwight Schrute think of that?
Perhaps you are reading this and you are assuming that your retirement is secure because you work in the private sector.
Well, just remember what happened to your 401k during the financial crisis of 2008. During the next major stock market crash, your 401k will likely get absolutely shredded. Many Americans will probably see the value of their 401k accounts go down by 50 percent or more.
And if you have stashed your retirement funds with the wrong firm, you could end up losing everything. Just ask anyone that had their nest eggs invested with MF Global.
But of course most Americans are woefully behind on saving for retirement anyway. A study conducted by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research found that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.
That certainly isn’t good news.
On top of everything else, the federal government has been recklessly irresponsible as far as planning for the retirement of the Baby Boomers is concerned.
As I noted yesterday, the U.S. government is facing a total of 222 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities. Social Security and Medicare make up the bulk of that.
At this point, the number of Americans on Medicare is projected to grow from a little bit more than 50 million today to 73.2 million in 2025.
The number of Americans collecting Social Security benefits is projected to grow from about 56 million today to 91 million in 2035.
How is a society with a steadily declining economy going to care for them all adequately?
Yes, we truly are careening toward disaster.
If you are not convinced yet, here are some more numbers. The following stats are from one of my previous articles entitled “Do You Want To Scare A Baby Boomer?“…
1. Right now, there are somewhere around 40 million senior citizens in the United States. By 2050 that number is projected to skyrocket to 89 million.
2. According to one recent poll, 25 percent of all Americans in the 46 to 64-year-old age bracket have no retirement savings at all.
3. 26 percent of all Americans in the 46 to 64-year-old age bracket have no personal savings whatsoever.
4. One survey that covered all American workers found that 46 percent of them have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.
5. According to a survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, “60 percent of American workers said the total value of their savings and investments is less than $25,000”.
6. A Pew Research survey found that half of all Baby Boomers say that their household financial situations have deteriorated over the past year.
7. 67 percent of all American workers believe that they “are a little or a lot behind schedule on saving for retirement”.
8. Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.
9. More elderly Americans than ever are finding that they must continue working once they reach their retirement years. Between 1985 and 2010, the percentage of Americans in the 65 to 69-year-old age bracket that were still working increased from 18 percent to 32 percent.
10. Back in 1991, half of all American workers planned to retire before they reached the age of 65. Today, that number has declined to 23 percent.
11. According to one recent survey, 70 percent of all American workers expect to continue working once they are “retired”.
12. According to a poll conducted by AARP, 40 percent of all Baby Boomers plan to work “until they drop”.
13. A poll conducted by CESI Debt Solutions found that 56 percent of American retirees still had outstanding debts when they retired.
14. Elderly Americans tend to carry much higher balances on their credit cards than younger Americans do. The following is from a recent CNBC article…
New research from the AARP also shows that those ages 50 and over are carrying higher balances on their credit cards — $8,278 in 2012 compared to $6,258 for the under-50 population.
15. A study by a law professor at the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States. Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.
16. Between 1991 and 2007 the number of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 that filed for bankruptcy rose by a staggering 178 percent.
17. What is causing most of these bankruptcies among the elderly? The number one cause is medical bills. 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 actually did have health insurance.
18. In 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits. Today, that number has fallen to 2.5 workers, and if you eliminate all government workers, that leaves only 1.6 private sector workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.
19. Millions of elderly Americans these days are finding it very difficult to survive on just a Social Security check. The truth is that most Social Security checks simply are not that large. The following comes directly from the Social Security Administration website…
The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker was about $1,230 at the beginning of 2012. This amount changes monthly based upon the total amount of all benefits paid and the total number of people receiving benefits.
You can view the rest of the statistics right here.
Sadly, most Americans are not aware of these things.
The mainstream media keeps most of the population entertained with distractions. This week it is the birth of the royal baby, and next week it will be something else.
Meanwhile, our problems just continue to get worse and worse.
There is no way in the world that we are going to be able to keep all of the financial promises that we have made to the Baby Boomers. A lot of them are going to end up bitterly disappointed.
All of this could have been avoided if we would have planned ahead as a society.
But that did not happen, and now we are all going to pay the price for it.
What would you do if you woke up one day and discovered that the banksters had “legally” stolen about 80 percent of your life savings? Most people seem to assume that most of the depositors that are getting ripped off in Cyprus are “Russian oligarchs” or “wealthy European tycoons”, but the truth is that they are only just part of the story. As you will see below, there are small businesses and aging retirees that have been absolutely devastated by the wealth confiscation that has taken place in Cyprus. Many businesses can no longer meet their payrolls or pay their bills because their funds have been frozen, and many retirees have seen retirement plans that they have been working toward for decades absolutely destroyed in a matter of days. Sometimes it can be hard to identify with events that are happening on the other side of the globe, but I want you to try to put yourself into their shoes for a few minutes. How would you feel if something like this happened to you?
For example, just consider the case of one 65-year-old retiree that has had his life savings totally wiped out by the “wealth tax” in Cyprus. His very sad story was recently featured by the Sydney Morning Herald…
”Very bad, very, very bad,” says 65-year-old John Demetriou, rubbing tears from his lined face with thick fingers. ”I lost all my money.”
John now lives in the picturesque fishing village of Liopetri on Cyprus’ south coast. But for 35 years he lived at Bondi Junction and worked days, nights and weekends in Sydney markets selling jewellery and imitation jewellery.
He had left Cyprus in the early 1970s at the height of its war with Turkey, taking his wife and young children to safety in Australia. He built a life from nothing and, gradually, a substantial nest egg. He retired to Cyprus in 2007 with about $1 million, his life savings.
He planned to spend it on his grandchildren – some of whom live in Cyprus – putting them through university and setting them up. There would be medical bills; he has a heart condition. The interest was paying for a comfortable retirement, and trips back to Australia. He also toyed with the idea of buying a boat.
He wanted to leave any big purchases a few years, to be sure this was where he would spend his retirement. There was no hurry. But now it is all gone.
”If I made the decision to stay, I was going to build a house,” John says. ”Unfortunately I didn’t make the decision yet.
”I went to sleep Friday as a rich man. I woke up a poor man.”
You can read the rest of the article right here.
How would you feel if you suddenly lost almost everything that you have been working for your entire life?
And many small and mid-size businesses have been ruined by the bank account confiscation that has taken place in Cyprus.
The following is a bank account statement that was originally posted on a Bitcoin forum that has gone absolutely viral all over the Internet. One medium size IT business has lost a staggering amount of money because of the “bail-in” that is happening in Cyprus…
The following is what the poster of this screenshot had to say about what this is going to do to his business…
Over 700k of expropriated money will be used to repay country’s debt. Probably we will get back about 20% of this amount in 6-7 years.
I’m not Russian oligarch, but just European medium size IT business. Thousands of other companies around Cyprus have the same situation.
The business is definitely ruined, all Cypriot workers to be fired.
We are moving to small Caribbean country where authorities have more respect to people’s assets. Also we are thinking about using Bitcoin to pay wages and for payments between our partners.
Special thanks to:
– Jeroen Dijsselbloem
– Angela Merkel
– Manuel Barroso
– the rest of officials of “European Comission”
With each passing day, things just continue to get worse for those with deposits of over 100,000 euros in Cyprus. A few hours ago, a Reuters story entitled “Big depositors in Cyprus to lose far more than feared” declared that the initial estimates of the losses by big depositors in Cyprus were much too low.
And of course the truth is that those that have had their deposits frozen will be very fortunate to ever see any of that money ever again.
But just a few weeks ago, the Central Bank of Cyprus was swearing that nothing like this could ever possibly happen. Just check out the following memo from the Central Bank of Cyprus dated “11 February 2013” that was recently posted on Zero Hedge…
Sadly, the truth is that the politicians will lie to you all the way up until the very day that they confiscate your money.
You can believe our “leaders” when they swear that nothing like this will ever happen in the United States, in Canada or in other European nations if you want.
But I don’t believe them.
In fact, as an outstanding article by Ellen Brown recently detailed, the concept of a “bail-in” for “systemically important financial institutions” has been in the works for a long time…
Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlier here); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds.
If you do not believe that what just happened in Cyprus could happen in the United States, you need to read the rest of her article. The following is an extended excerpt from that article…
Although few depositors realize it, legally the bank owns the depositor’s funds as soon as they are put in the bank. Our money becomes the bank’s, and we become unsecured creditors holding IOUs or promises to pay. (See here and here.) But until now the bank has been obligated to pay the money back on demand in the form of cash. Under the FDIC-BOE plan, our IOUs will be converted into “bank equity.” The bank will get the money and we will get stock in the bank. With any luck we may be able to sell the stock to someone else, but when and at what price? Most people keep a deposit account so they can have ready cash to pay the bills.
The 15-page FDIC-BOE document is called “Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions.” It begins by explaining that the 2008 banking crisis has made it clear that some other way besides taxpayer bailouts is needed to maintain “financial stability.” Evidently anticipating that the next financial collapse will be on a grander scale than either the taxpayers or Congress is willing to underwrite, the authors state:
An efficient path for returning the sound operations of the G-SIFI to the private sector would be provided by exchanging or converting a sufficient amount of the unsecured debt from the original creditors of the failed company [meaning the depositors] into equity [or stock]. In the U.S., the new equity would become capital in one or more newly formed operating entities. In the U.K., the same approach could be used, or the equity could be used to recapitalize the failing financial company itself—thus, the highest layer of surviving bailed-in creditors would become the owners of the resolved firm. In either country, the new equity holders would take on the corresponding risk of being shareholders in a financial institution.
No exception is indicated for “insured deposits” in the U.S., meaning those under $250,000, the deposits we thought were protected by FDIC insurance. This can hardly be an oversight, since it is the FDIC that is issuing the directive. The FDIC is an insurance company funded by premiums paid by private banks. The directive is called a “resolution process,” defined elsewhere as a plan that “would be triggered in the event of the failure of an insurer . . . .” The only mention of “insured deposits” is in connection with existing UK legislation, which the FDIC-BOE directive goes on to say is inadequate, implying that it needs to be modified or overridden.
You can find the rest of her excellent article right here. I would encourage everyone to especially pay attention to what she has to say about derivatives.
Sadly, what is happening in Cyprus right now is just the continuation of a trend. In recent years, governments all over the world have turned to the confiscation of private wealth in order to solve their financial problems. The following examples are from a recent article posted on Deviant Investor…
October 2008 – Argentina’s leftist government, facing a gigantic revenue shortfall, proposes to nationalize all private pensions so as to meet national debt payments and avoid its second default in the decade.
November 2010 – Headline – Hungary Gives Its Citizens an Ultimatum: Move Your Private Pension Fund Assets to the State or Permanently Lose Your Pension – This is an effective nationalization of all pensions.
November 2010 – Ireland elects to appropriate ten billion euros from its National Pension Reserve Fund to help fund an eighty-five billion euro rescue package for its besieged banks. Ireland also moves to consider a regulatory move that compels some private Irish pension funds to hold more Irish government debt, thereby providing the state with a captive investor base but hugely raising the risk for savers.
December 2010 – France agrees to transfer twenty billion euros worth of assets belonging to its Fonds de Reserve pour les Retraites (FRR), the funded portion of its retirement system, to help pay off recurring social benefits costs. No pensioners are consulted.
April 2012 – Argentina announces that its Economy Ministry has taken an emergency loan from the national pension fund in the amount of $4.3 billion. No pensioners were consulted.
June 2012 – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unilaterally appropriates $45 billion from US federal pension funds to help tide over US deficits for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.
January 2013 – Treasury Secretary Geithner again announces that the government has begun borrowing from the federal employees pension fund to keep operating without passing the approaching “fiscal cliff” debt limit. The move effectively creates $156 billion in borrowing authority from federal pension funds.
March 2013 – Open Bank Resolution finance minister, Bill English, is proposing a Cyprus style solution for potential New Zealand bank failures. The reserve bank is in the final stages of establishing a rescue scheme which will put all bank depositors on the hook for bailing out their banks. Depositors will overnight have their savings shaved by the amount needed to keep distressed banks afloat.
Can you see the pattern?
As I wrote about the other day, no bank account, no pension fund, no retirement account and no stock portfolio will be able to be considered 100% safe ever again.
And once the global derivatives casino melts down, there are going to be a lot of major banks that are going to need to be “bailed in”.
When that day arrives, they are going to try to come after your money.
So don’t leave your entire life savings sitting in a single bank – especially not one of the banks that has a tremendous amount of exposure to derivatives.
Hopefully we can get more people to wake up and realize what is happening. We are moving into a time of great financial instability, and what worked in the past is not going to work in the future.
Be smart and get prepared while you still can.
Time is running out.
When it comes to explaining the problems with our economy, one of the hardest things to do is to get people to understand that we are living in an economic fantasy world that is completely and totally unsustainable. As a nation we consume far more than we produce, we spend far more than we bring in, our debt is growing much faster than our GDP is, our entitlement programs are growing at an exponential rate, our retirement system is a Ponzi scheme and the Federal Reserve is printing money as if there is no tomorrow in a desperate attempt to paper over all of our problems. But we have all grown so accustomed to the debt-fueled prosperity that we have been enjoying for so many decades that it actually feels “real” to most of us. Unfortunately, history has shown us that it is simply not possible to grow your debt faster than your economy indefinitely. At some point your consumption will drop back to a level more equal to your production. Sometimes that adjustment can be gradual, but other times it can be extremely painful. In our case, we have been living way above our means for so long that it would take a major economic miracle just to keep our adjustment to an “exceedingly painful” level. We are living in the largest debt-fueled prosperity bubble in the history of the world, and our unsustainable economy is going to crash and burn at some point. Hopefully it will be later rather than sooner, but a crash is most definitely coming.
The following are some of the reasons why the bubble economy that we are living in right now is unsustainable….
The Trade Deficit
Most Americans do not really understand what a “trade deficit” is, but it is at the very core of our economic problems.
Basically, we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us. We send them huge piles of our money, and they send us oil that we burn in our cars and cheap plastic products that we end up throwing away. We keep doing this month after month after month, and this is systematically making us poorer as a nation.
In 2012, it is being projected that our trade deficit will fall somewhere between 500 billion and 600 billion dollars.
At this point, the United States has a trade imbalance that is more than 7 times larger than any other nation on earth has.
Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.
Instead of going out of the country, those 8 trillion dollars could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers. In turn, taxes would have been paid on those 8 trillion dollars and our debt problems would not be nearly as dramatic today.
But we didn’t do that.
We chose to allow tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth to leave the country.
Stupid move, eh?
But both political parties have been endlessly pushing the “free trade” agenda. They have both promised that it would bring us tremendous prosperity.
Well, just take a look at our formerly great manufacturing cities today. Do they look prosperous to you?
It turns out that Ross Perot was right when he warned about the “giant sucking sound” that would happen if NAFTA was implemented.
When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars. By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.
That didn’t work out so well, did it?
What about opening up trade with China?
Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year.
In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 295.4 billion dollars. That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.
Our trade with China is tremendously unbalanced. Today, U.S. consumers spend approximately 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that Chinese consumers spend on goods and services from the United States.
This is a huge reason why shiny new factories are going up all over China, and our blue collar cities are turning into rotting war zones filled with unemployed people.
If you can believe it, the United States has actually lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
Until we fix the trade deficit we are going to continue bleeding factories, jobs and national wealth at an astounding pace.
The National Debt
It is being projected that U.S. GDP will grow at a rate of about 2.2 percent this year.
The problem is that our federal budget deficit will be somewhere around 7 percent of GDP this year.
With each passing day we are losing ground. No other nation on earth has been able to run up debt like this indefinitely, and neither will we.
Does this chart look like a healthy situation to you?….
Sadly, all of this government debt is just about the only thing holding up our economy at this point. Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by about 5.5 trillion dollars. Of course the Obama administration has spent a lot of that money on incredibly stupid stuff, but it still gets into the pockets of average Americans that in turn spend it on food, gas, mortgage payments, etc.
If we could go back in time and suck that 5.5 trillion dollars of extra spending out of the economy we would be in a horrible economic depression right now.
But that does not mean that borrowing and spending all of that money was the right thing to do. We have stolen it from our children and our grandchildren and we are going to stick them with the bill.
That is highly immoral and it is a national disgrace.
Yet we continue to do it because we can’t help ourselves. We are ruining the future of this nation in order to make the present more pleasant for ourselves.
As I noted yesterday, the U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.
We are completely addicted to debt and we can’t stop. We know that we are destroying the future of the United States but we have absolutely no self-discipline.
By the end of Barack Obama’s first term, the U.S. government will have accumulated more debt during those four years than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.
But most Americans seem fine with that.
Most Americans don’t even really know why this is happening, and most don’t really seem too concerned about finding out. They just want the good times to continue to roll.
Sadly, the truth is that our financial system is designed to create government debt. It is one of the primary purposes of the Federal Reserve system.
At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.
So I guess you could say that the Federal Reserve is doing a good job of what it was designed to do.
And until we change the system things are going to continue to get worse until the entire system collapses.
Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that we are basically facing financial armageddon if something is not done. Kotlikoff speaks of a “fiscal gap” which he defines as “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”. His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the United States is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.
Where in the world are we going to get an extra 222 trillion dollars?
Every society needs a safety net, but we are rapidly getting to the point where there are going to be more Americans on the safety net than there are Americans supporting it.
Back in 1983, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government.
Today, that number is up to an all-time record of 49 percent.
Many people don’t believe me when I tell them that more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government right now, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.
But it is actually true.
Overall, there are nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” that the federal government is currently running.
But of course the biggest financial burdens are Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. All three are on course to become completely and totally unsustainable.
For example, the number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
Well, what about Medicare?
Sadly, Medicare is even more frightening.
As I wrote recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.
How in the world can we afford that?
At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years. That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.
Are you ready to contribute your share?
Social Security is in really bad shape as well.
At the moment, approximately 56 million Americans are collecting Social Security benefits.
By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.
Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.
Where are we going to get that money?
Of course the national debt is not out only debt problem. All over the country there are state and local governments that are on the verge of insolvency. Corporations and financial institutions are leveraged like crazy. And of course consumers have absolutely gorged on debt over the past several decades.
As a result, we are drowning in debt from sea to shining sea.
The good news is that our GDP is more than 12 times larger than it was 40 years ago.
The bad news is that the total amount of debt in our country is more than 30 times larger than it was 40 years ago….
Obviously this is something that cannot go on forever.
We simply cannot keep accumulating debt much faster than our economy is growing.
Nobody knows exactly when the “adjustment” is coming, but it most definitely will arrive at some point.
The Federal Reserve has attempted to monetize many of our economic problems by printing gigantic mountains of money in recent years.
The Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems, but most Americans don’t realize this. It was the Federal Reserve that created the conditions for the housing bubble, and it was the Federal Reserve that badly mismanaged the response when that bubble burst. The Federal Reserve decides how much money will be printed and what our interest rates will be. The Federal Reserve lends out trillions of dollars to the banks that they like, and other banks they let die. The Federal Reserve picks winners and losers in our economy, and most of the time that means good things for the big Wall Street banks and bad things for the rest of us.
In a desperate attempt to keep our unsustainable financial system from collapsing, the Federal Reserve has decided to start printing unprecedented amounts of money. Just look at what this has done to the monetary base….
And QE3 really hasn’t even started to kick in yet.
So how bad will that chart look after QE3 has been adding another 40 billion dollars a month to the financial system for a while?
You know, the Weimar Republic was absolutely convinced that they were doing the right thing by printing lots of money too.
But in the end that didn’t work out very well for them at all….
So should we really be celebrating the fact that the Federal Reserve is going down the same path that the Weimar Republic did?
Demonocracy has released a great new graphic that does a wonderful job of illustrating just how huge the amounts of money involved in QE3 are going to be. If you have not seen it yet, you can view the graphic right here.
The rest of the world is watching the games that we are playing with our currency. Right now we think that we are getting away with it, but what we are doing is not sustainable. At some point the rest of the world will totally lose confidence in the U.S. dollar, and when that happens the U.S. dollar could easily lose its status as the primary reserve currency of the world.
If that were to happen the coming shift in our standard of living would happen much more rapidly.
Please share this article with as many people as you can. We need to wake people up and get them to understand how incredibly vulnerable our financial system really is. We are on a path that is unsustainable any way that you want to look at it, and if something dramatic is not done our economy is going to experience an unprecedented collapse.
So what happens if nothing is done and everything crashes all around us?
Well, I hope that you are prepared because it isn’t going to be pretty.