20th Largest Bank In The World: 2016 Will Be A ‘Cataclysmic Year’ And ‘Investors Should Be Afraid’

Royal Bank Of ScotlandThe Royal Bank of Scotland is telling clients that 2016 is going to be a “cataclysmic year” and that they should “sell everything”.  This sounds like something that you might hear from The Economic Collapse Blog, but up until just recently you would have never expected to get this kind of message from one of the twenty largest banks on the entire planet.  Unfortunately, this is just another indication that a major global financial crisis has begun and that we are now entering a bear market.  The collective market value of companies listed on the S&P 500 has dropped by about a trillion dollars since the start of 2016, and panic is spreading like wildfire all over the globe.  And of course when the Royal Bank of Scotland comes out and openly says that “investors should be afraid” that certainly is not going to help matters.

It amazes me that the Royal Bank of Scotland is essentially saying the exact same thing that I have been saying for months.  Just like I have been telling my readers, RBS has observed that global markets “are flashing the same stress alerts as they did before the Lehman crisis in 2008″

RBS has advised clients to brace for a “cataclysmic year” and a global deflationary crisis, warning that the major stock markets could fall by a fifth and oil may reach US$16 a barrel.

The bank’s credit team said markets are flashing the same stress alerts as they did before the Lehman crisis in 2008.

So what should our response be to these warning signs?

According to RBS, the logical thing to do is to “sell everything” excerpt for high quality bonds…

“Sell everything except high quality bonds,” warned Andrew Roberts in a note this week.

He said the bank’s red flags for 2016 — falling oil, volatility in China, shrinking world trade, rising debt, weak corporate loans and deflation — had all been seen in just the first week of trading.

We think investors should be afraid,” he said.

And of course RBS is not the only big bank issuing these kinds of ominous warnings.

The biggest bank in America, J.P. Morgan Chase, is “urging investors to sell stocks on any bounce”

J.P. Morgan Chase has turned its back on the stock market: For the first time in seven years, the investment bank is urging investors to sell stocks on any bounce.

“Our view is that the risk-reward for equities has worsened materially. In contrast to the past seven years, when we advocated using the dips as buying opportunities, we believe the regime has transitioned to one of selling any rally,” Mislav Matejka, an equity strategist at J.P. Morgan, said in a report.

Aside from technical indicators, expectations of anemic corporate earnings combined with the downward trajectory in U.S. manufacturing activity and a continued weakness in commodities are raising red flags.

Major banks have not talked like this since the great financial crisis of 2008/2009.  Clearly something really big is going on.  Trillions of dollars of financial wealth were wiped out around the world during the last six months of 2015, and trillions more dollars have been wiped out during the first 12 days of 2016.  As I noted above, the collective market value of the S&P 500 is down by about a trillion dollars all by itself.

One of the big things driving all of this panic is the stunning collapse in the price of oil.  U.S. oil was trading as low as $29.93 a barrel on Tuesday, and this was the first time that oil has traded under 30 dollars a barrel since December 2003.

Needless to say, this collapse is absolutely killing energy companies.  The following comes from USA Today

There aren’t many people who feel bad for oil companies. But the implosion in oil prices is causing a profit decline that almost invokes pity.

The companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 energy sector are expected to lose a collective $28.8 billion this calendar year, down from $95.4 billion in net income earned during the industry’s bonanza year of 2008, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ. That’s a $124 billion swing against energy companies – and one you’re probably enjoying at the pump. The analysis includes only the 36 S&P 500 energy companies that reported net income in 2008.

If we are to avoid a major global deflationary crisis, we desperately need the price of oil to get back above 50 dollars a barrel.  Unfortunately, that does not appear to be likely to happen any time soon.  In fact, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan says that the price of oil is probably going to stay very low for years to come

You’d expect at least some artificial optimism when the president of the Dallas Fed talks about oil. You’d expect some droplets of hope for that crucial industry in Texas. But when Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan spoke on Monday, there was none, not for 2016, and most likely not for 2017 either, and maybe not even for 2018.

The wide-ranging speech included a blunt section on oil, the dismal future of the price of oil, the global and US causes for its continued collapse, and what it might mean for the Texas oil industry: “more bankruptcies, mergers and restructurings….”

The oil price plunge since mid-2014, with its vicious ups and downs, was bad enough. But since the OPEC meeting in December, he said, “the overall tone in the oil and gas sector has soured, as expectations have decidedly shifted to an ‘even lower for even longer’ price outlook.”

In recent articles I have discussed so many of the other signs that indicate that there is big trouble ahead, but today I just want to quickly mention another one that has just popped up in the news.

The amount of stuff being shipped across the U.S. by rail has been dropping dramatically.  The only times when we have seen similar large drops has been during previous recessions.  The following comes from Bloomberg

Railroad cargo in the U.S. dropped the most in six years in 2015, and things aren’t looking good for the new year.

“We believe rail data may be signaling a warning for the broader economy,” the recent note from Bank of America says. “Carloads have declined more than 5 percent in each of the past 11 weeks on a year-over-year basis. While one-off volume declines occur occasionally, they are generally followed by a recovery shortly thereafter. The current period of substantial and sustained weakness, including last week’s -10.1 percent decline, has not occurred since 2009.”

BofA analysts led by Ken Hoexter look at the past 30 years to see what this type of steep decline usually means for the U.S. economy. What they found wasn’t particularly encouraging: All such drops in rail carloads preceded, or were accompanied by, an economic slowdown (Note: They excluded 1996 due to an extremely harsh winter).

The “next economic downturn” is already here, and it is starting to accelerate.

Yes, the financial markets are starting to catch up with economic reality, but they still have a long, long way to go.  It is going to take another 30 percent drop or so just for them to get to levels that are considered to be “normal” or “average” by historical standards.

And the markets are so fragile at this point that any sort of a major “trigger event” could cause a sudden market implosion unlike anything that we have ever seen before.

So let us hope for the best, but let us also heed the advice of RBS and get prepared for a “cataclysmic” year.

Vote YES On Scottish Independence – Scotland Finally Has A Chance To Get Free From The British

Scottish FlagScottish voters finally have the opportunity to fulfill William Wallace’s dream of a Scotland that is free and independent of England forever.  All they have to do is vote yes next week.  Without a doubt, a divorce from the British would be quite messy, and life would probably be more comfortable in the short-term if Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom.  But hopefully the people of Scotland are looking beyond short-term concerns.  Today, the United Kingdom is a horribly repressive Big Brother police state that is dominated by bureaucratic control freaks.  You can hardly even sneeze without violating some kind of law, rule or regulation.  And the London banking establishment is at the very heart of the debt-based global financial system which is enslaving so much of the planet.  Scotland finally has a chance to get free from all of this.  All it is going to take is a yes vote on Scottish independence.

It looks like it is going to be an incredibly close vote.  Recent polls show that the result could go either way.  Needless to say, this is causing the British establishment to freak out quite a bit.

For example, a couple of large banks have attempted to sway the vote during this past week by publicly declaring that they will have to move to England if the vote for Scottish independence is successful…

The Royal Bank of Scotland announced Thursday that it is making contingency plans to move its legal incorporation to England in the event of a “yes” vote. In addition, Lloyds Banking Group said it had made arrangements to establish “new legal entities” in England should voters in Scotland decide to sever ties with Britain.

And there have been lots of other warnings of “economic disaster” for Scotland if it does not remain part of the United Kingdom

Standard Life, the pensions company, disclosed that it was planning to move part of its business to England to protect its customers, while BP and Shell backed expert predictions that North Sea oil will have all but run out by 2050. It also emerged that nearly $2-billion has flowed out of U.K. equity funds in the past two months amid heightened uncertainty over what separation would mean for the economy.

Honestly, it is probably true that there would be some short-term economic disruptions for Scotland.

But in the long run the Scottish would probably be in quite good shape considering how much of the North Sea oil they would own.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article

The discovery of North Sea riches in the 1970s planted the seed of modern-day Scottish nationalism as supporters of independence cried “It’s our oil!”

Four decades later, nothing will be more important to the economic future of Scotland than the oil industry should the country vote to end the 307-year union with the rest of the U.K.

Reserves of oil and gas would be split, possibly along the so-called median line, already used to allocate fishing rights. The division would hand the Scots about 96 percent of annual oil production and 47 percent of the gas, according to estimates for 2012 by the University of Aberdeen’s Alex Kemp and Linda Stephen cited by the Scottish government.

What most British politicians won’t tell you is that it would probably be the British that would suffer the most economically in the short-term and in the long-term.

In fact, if there is a yes vote for Scottish independence it is being projected that the value of the British pound will fall substantially and we could see a “negative shock” in British financial markets…

Adam Memon, the head of economic research at the Centre for Policy Studies, said: “The principal immediate threat would be to sterling and the stability of the financial markets. The recent selloff is a mere warning of what may come if the Scots actually do vote for independence.”

Threadneedle Investments said: “Given the constitutional and economic uncertainties attached to a potential break-up of the UK, a vote for independence would be likely to deliver a negative shock to UK financial assets and lead to meaningful currency weakness.”

And actually, the Scottish are not going nearly far enough with this vote for independence.  For example, according to Yes Scotland a newly-independent Scottish government would continue to have allegiance to the Queen…

The Scottish Government’s proposal is that the Queen remains Head of State in Scotland, in the same way as she is currently Head of State in independent nations such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

This would be the position for as long as the people of Scotland wished our country to remain a monarchy.

Speaking as an American, let me say that getting rid of the British monarchy has worked out exceptionally well for us.

Hopefully the Scottish people will make a similar decision sooner rather than later.

If Scotland does indeed end up voting for independence, it could give momentum to similar movements all over Europe.

Just this week, hundreds of thousands of Catalans took to the streets in Barcelona to demand the right to vote on independence from Spain…

Thousands of Catalans have rallied in Barcelona, Spain, demanding the right to hold a referendum on independence.

Participants, waving Catalan flags and wearing the flag’s red and yellow colours, stood in a V-shape formation, indicating their desire for a vote.

Protesters were energised by Scotland’s forthcoming independence referendum – and many also waved the Scottish flag.

The regional government has called a referendum for 9 November. The Spanish government says the vote is illegal.

Could we end up seeing a number of new nations emerging from the chaos that is about to engulf Europe?

This is clearly not what the establishment wants.  In fact, George Soros says that “this is the worst possible time” for Scottish independence.

That alone is a really good reason to vote yes.

Personally, I am rooting for the Scottish people on this one.  I truly hope that they are finally able to win their freedom.

The people of Scotland have been pushed around by the British for centuries.

Now they finally have a chance to stand up to the tyranny of London.

They finally have a chance to get free.

Let us hope that they take it.

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