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The Dow Falls 1,032 Points! Has The Financial Crisis Of 2018 Officially Arrived?

We haven’t seen this kind of a bloodbath on Wall Street since the great financial crisis of 2008.  Prior to this week, the largest single day decline for the Dow Jones industrial average that we had ever seen was 777 points.  That record was absolutely shattered on Monday when the Dow fell 1,175 points, and on Thursday the Dow dropped another 1,032 points.  This was the third decline greater than 500 points within the last five trading days, and the Dow is poised to post its worst week since the dark days of October 2008.  So is this just a “correction”, or has the financial crisis of 2018 officially arrived?

At this point, many of the experts are pointing to the bond market as the primary reason why stock prices are crashing.  The following comes from CNBC

There’s a not-so-quiet rebellion going on in the bond market, and it threatens to take 10-year yields above 3 percent much faster than expected just a few weeks ago.

As a result, the bumpy ride for stocks could continue for a while.

And without a doubt, analysts such as Jeff Gundlach clearly warned that there would be big trouble for stocks as bond yields rose…

Gundlach had correctly predicted that if the 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield went above 2.63 percent, U.S. stock investors would be spooked.

“Clearly, the market gets shaky when the 10-year hits 2.85 percent,” Gundlach said. “Just look at this week, and today. Makes one consider what could be coming if 10s push over 3 and 30s (30-year Treasury bond) over 3.22 percent.”

The 10-year yield is currently trading around 2.83 percent. Gundlach said it is “hard to love bonds at even a 3 percent” yield. “Rising interest rates are a problem and the U.S. is in debt and there is massive bond supply,” Gundlach said.

Moving forward, it will be important to keep a close eye on bond yields.  Every time they start going back up, we are likely to see stock prices go down

“We’re in a vicious cycle here. If the yields go up, you have to sell stocks. If you sell stocks, and they crash, yields come back down,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR.

The bond market’s struggle to price in higher interest rates has been kneecapped each time the stock market reacts and sells off. Strategists expect the two markets to ultimately find an equilibrium but not without more sharp swings.

This is one of the reasons why the budget deal going through Congress right now is such a bad idea.  Hundreds of billions of dollars of additional spending on top of what we are already doing is going to push up bond yields, and that is just going to make the pressure on Wall Street even worse.

Of course the folks over at the Federal Reserve could intervene, but they don’t seem inclined to do that at this point.  Late last year the Fed finally removed artificial life support from the financial system, and at first everything seemed to be going well.  But now a new crisis is brewing, and we shall see if the Fed still remains determined to keep raising rates.  The following comes from Peter Schiff

The Fed were dragging their feet in raising rates while Obama was president.  They talked about raising rates but at the end of the day, they barely moved them up. The pace of hikes has increased since Trump was elected, but part of the reason for that…I mean, the media is not talking down the economy; if anything they’re overhyping the economy.  Everybody’s talking about how strong the economy is, how everything is great. Everybody is taking credit for this great economy. The Fed wants to take credit for it, Trump wants to take credit for it, so if everybody wants to talk about how great the economy is, the Fed doesn’t have any excuse if it doesn’t raise rates…in order to keep up the pretense that the economy is as strong as everybody thinks, the Fed is in this box where it has to raise rates.

But they [the Fed] can’t tell the truth that it’s really a bubble, and if we raise rates, we’re gonna prick it, so they’re kinda in this bind.  And they are still telegraphing that they’re gonna raise rates three or four times this year.  And that is the problem.

It has been my contention for a very long time that the greatest financial bubble in human history would not be able to continue without artificial support from the Fed and other global central banks.

Once the Fed finally ended their artificial support for the markets late last year, I anticipated that there would be trouble, but stock prices continued to rise through the holiday season.

But now reality is setting in, and investors are rushing like mad for the exits.  I really like how Brandon Smith described the current state of affairs in his recent article…

After I predicted the election of Donald Trump, I also predicted that central banks would begin pulling the plug on life support for equities markets. This did in fact take place with the Fed’s continued program of interest rate increases and the reduction of their balance sheet, which effectively strangles the flow of cheap credit to banking and corporate institutions that fueled stock buybacks for years. Without this constant and ever expansionary easy fiat, there is nothing left to act as a crutch for stocks except perhaps blind faith. And blind faith in the economy always ends up being smacked down by the ugly realities of mathematics.

Without artificial support, gravity will try to pull stock valuations back to their long-term averages.  That would mean a decline for the Dow of at least 10,000 more points, but major financial institutions are so highly leveraged and Wall Street has become such a giant casino that our system literally cannot handle that sort of a decline.

The only way that the game can continue is for the Fed and other global central banks to intervene and prop up the absurd financial bubble that they originally created.

Absent that, this crisis is likely to go from bad to worse, and we may soon find ourselves facing a financial panic unlike anything that we have ever seen before.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump 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.

Just A Coincidence?: The Dow Goes From Being 567 Points Down To 567 Points Up At The Closing Bell

Seriously?  We were expecting that Tuesday would be an unusual day on Wall Street, and that was definitely the case.  At the low point, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 567 points, but at the closing bell it was up 567 points.  That is a swing of more than 1000 points, but what is more surprising is the exact symmetry of those numbers.  Is this just some sort of bizarre coincidence?

At the opening bell, stock prices collapsed and many were concerned that we were heading for another really bad day for investors.  According to CNBC, the Dow was down 567 points at the lowest point…

The Dow Jones industrial average opened with a big whoosh lower, then rallied all the way back. As of 3:41 p.m. ET, the Dow is 600 points higher and trading at a new session high. At its session low it was down by 567 points.

But then momentum shifted and the Dow soared.  By the end of the Day, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 567 points.  The following comes from CNN

The Dow plunged 567 points at the open on Tuesday and briefly sank into correction territory — a drop of 10% from its record high. But those losses quickly vanished, and the index ended the day up 567.

It was the Dow’s biggest point gain since August 2015 and the fourth-largest in history. The percentage gain of 2.3% is the biggest since January 2016.

It is not unusual to see market swings of this magnitude during times of high volatility.  Even during times of panic, at some point the sellers get exhausted and investors looking for buying opportunities come surging in.  On Tuesday, this shift in momentum came almost immediately after the opening

“I thought we were going to see the bottom within five minutes of when we opened. I think that’s basically what we’re seeing,” said Ed Keon, portfolio manager at QMA, the quantitative and dynamic asset allocation business of PGIM. “At these levels, stocks represent pretty good value and we’re adding to equity exposure.” Keon said it’s too early to call a bottom but he expects that the worse is over.

But just because the Dow was up more than 500 points today does not mean that the crisis is over.

It is important to remember that there are wild swings both ways during any market crisis.  For example, 9 of the 20 best days in stock market history were right in the middle of the financial crisis of 2008.  So if a new financial crisis is indeed brewing, we would certainly expect to see days when the Dow rises dramatically.

Markets tend to do well when things are calm, and they tend to go down when things get choppy.  So the fact that there was such volatility on Wall Street today is not a good sign.

Hopefully things will settle down, because the markets will not be able to handle too much more shaking.  There is so much leverage on Wall Street today, and as Carl Icahn recently told CNBC, one of these days all of this leverage is “going to blow up the market”…

Billionaire Carl Icahn told CNBC on Tuesday there are too many exotic, leveraged products for investors to trade, and one day these securities are going to blow up the market.

The market is a “casino on steroids” with all these exchange-traded funds and exchange-traded notes, he said.

These funds, especially the leveraged ones, are the “fault lines” that will eventually lead to an earthquake on Wall Street, he said. “These are just the beginnings of a rumbling.”

Wednesday will be a key day.  If the markets are nice and calm, that will be a really good sign.

But if we see tremendous movement in one direction or the other, that could indicate that more shaking is on the way.

In any event, the absurdly inflated stock prices of today are simply not sustainable.  Stock valuations always return to their long-term averages eventually, and that will be true in this case as well.

What goes up must come down, and we have certainly witnessed this with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies lately.  As far as stocks are concerned, the best that we can hope for in the long-term is a soft landing, but history tells us that is usually not how giant financial bubbles come to an end.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump 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.

-1,175 Points! We Just Witnessed The Largest One Day Stock Market Crash Ever

The mainstream media seems so surprised that the stock market is crashing, but the truth is that it isn’t a surprise at all.  In fact, this crash is way, way overdue.  If the Dow Jones industrial average fell another 10,000 points, stock prices would still be overvalued.  I have been warning and warning and warning that this would happen, because stock valuations always return to their long-term averages eventually.  On Monday, the Dow was down a staggering 1,175 points, which was the largest single day decline that we have ever seen by a very wide margin.  In fact, it shattered the old record by nearly 400 points.

Shortly after 3 PM, all hell broke loose on Wall Street.  The Dow dropped by more than 800 points in just 10 minutes.  At one point on Monday, the Dow was down nearly 1,600 points, but a brief rally cut those losses roughly in half.  However, the rally did not last long and stock prices collapsed hard as the market closed.  At this moment, the Dow is already down more than 2,200 points from the peak of the market, and we are not too far from officially entering “correction” territory.

Once stocks start falling, it can trigger a massive rush for the exits, and that is what happened on Monday.  In particular, investors started to panic once the Dow broke through the 50-day moving average

“As soon as we broke the 50-day moving average … we saw volatility spike,” said Jeff Kilburg, CEO of KKM Financial. “It’s just been downhill from there.”

Other waves of selling were triggered once the 25,000 and 24,000 barriers on the Dow were breached.  In order to protect against losing too much money, many investors have stop losses set at psychologically-important levels.  The following comes from MarketWatch

Amplifying the slump was computer-programmed trade set to dump shares at certain levels. According to traders, the Dow DJIA, -4.60% was set to trigger trades once it fell below 25,000 and 24,000, for example, and 2,700 for the S&P 500.

Markets almost always go down faster than they go up, and once panic begins to spread on Wall Street it doesn’t take much to create a massive stampede.

In the end, this next financial crisis will be far worse than it should have been.  The Federal Reserve and other global central banks have endlessly manipulated the financial markets, and they created the biggest financial bubble in human history.

When an irrational financial bubble is growing, it can seem like things are wonderful.  But all such bubbles eventually burst, and the bursting of the bubble often does far more damage than the good that was accomplished by the manipulation of the markets.

So was there anything specific that caused the panic on Wall Street on Monday?

Yes, interest rates are rising, but as Bloomberg has noted, there wasn’t really anything noteworthy in the news that triggered the selling…

While Friday’s market rout came amid U.S. wage data on Friday that pointed to quickening inflation, which would lead to higher rates and, in turn, rising borrowing costs for companies, the selling Monday came amid few major data points.

“I think sentiment was a little too optimistic,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network. “What was driving the market up in January? It wasn’t the fundamentals, as good as they were, it was excessive confidence.”

Ultimately, time simply runs out on all irrational financial bubbles.  It is interesting to note that the Tulip price index began to crash on this exact date in 1637, and we may look back and point to February 5th as the key moment when the “financial crisis of 2018” started.

Once again, let us hope for some type of a bounce tomorrow.  Often stock prices do rebound quite a bit after an enormous decline, and many are hoping that stock prices will soar on Tuesday.

But so far the news after the market closed in New York has all been bad.  For example, CNBC is reporting that XIV has fallen more than 80 percent after hours…

An exchange-traded security which is supposed to be a bet on calm markets was collapsing after hours.

The VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term exchange-traded note (XIV) is down more than 80 percent in extended trading Monday. The security, issued by Credit Suisse, is supposed to give the opposite return of the Cboe Volatility index (VIX), the market’s widely followed turbulence gauge.

And as I write this article, it looks like markets all over Asia are going to be way down at the opening.

If stock prices keep collapsing, it could actually cause a major financial crisis.  So many financial institutions are deeply leveraged today, and many of them simply would not be able to handle a stock market decline of 30, 40 or 50 percent.

In particular, if things start to really unravel it will be important to pay special attention for any mention of “derivatives” in the financial news.  Once those dominoes start falling, we will see financial pain on a scale unlike anything that we have ever seen before in U.S. history.

Also, let us not forget that trouble signs continue to emerge for the “real economy”.  Just today, we learned that another major retail chain has filed for bankruptcy

Bon-Ton Stores, the corporate parent of several department store chains, tumbled into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as the company seeks a fresh lease on life.

Bon-Ton, whose brands include Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman and Younkers, had been on a fast track toward bankruptcy court after it recently announced plans to close 47 of its 260 stores.

I cannot stress enough that what happened on Monday is not a surprise.  The only surprise is that it took this long to happen.

Stock valuations need to fall another 40 or 50 percent just to get back to their long-term averages, and whether that happens very rapidly or takes an extended period of time, the truth is that stock valuations will return to those long-term averages.

Unfortunately for us, the central banks have created a bubble of such enormity that it could potentially collapse the entire global financial system when it finally fully bursts.

Let us hope for calmer markets on Tuesday, but let us also be mindful that at some point we are going to pay an exceedingly great price for years and years of horribly foolish decisions.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump 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.

-666 Points: We Just Witnessed The 6th Largest Single Day Stock Market Decline In U.S. History

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 666 points (665.75 points to be precise), and many are pointing out that this was the 6th largest single day crash that we have ever seen.  This decline happened on the 33rd day of the year, and it was the worst day for the stock market by far since President Trump entered the White House.  I have been repeatedly warning that we are way overdue for a stock market crash, and many are concerned that we may be on the precipice of another great financial crisis.  We shall see what happens on Monday, because that will set the tone for the rest of the week.  If we see another huge decline early Monday morning, that could easily set off full-blown panic selling on Wall Street.

Rising interest rates appear to have been the trigger for the enormous market drop on Friday.  The following comes from the New York Post

“We all know that many bull markets have ended by the Federal Reserve as they raise the rates to the point of slowing the economy down perhaps too much,” Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial, told The Post.

“It’s come on quickly and it caught the market off guard,” Krosby said.

The Dow sell-off brought it below the 26,000 plateau — to 25,520.96 — the biggest points drop since Dec. 1, 2008.

It is quite rare for the market to drop this much in a single day.  The largest single daily decline was a 777 point drop in 2008, and overall the Dow has fallen by more than 600 points less than 10 times throughout history

The index posted a loss of nearly 666 points, its sixth-worst decline ever on a points basis.

The last time the index posted a drop of more than 600 points was June 24, 2016, the day after the Brexit vote.

The eight other times the Dow closed more than 600 points lower all took place in the last 18 years. Half occurred during the financial crisis in 2008.

My readers have heard me explain over and over that markets tend to go down a lot faster than they go up.

Once a market landslide begins, the movement can be absolutely breathtaking.  But none of this should come as any sort of a surprise, because even the Washington Post admits that “speculation of a market pullback” has been seemingly everywhere in recent days…

The airwaves and online chatter have been flooded in recent weeks with speculation of a market pullback like the one that thundered in on Friday.

“It looks like the beginning of a market correction,” said Luke Tilley, chief economist at Wilmington Trust, the wealth and investment advisory arm of M&T Bank. “It’s not something that is very surprising, given the low volatility that we saw in 2017.”

Right now we are in the terminal phase of a historic “double bubble” in both stocks and bonds.  Many times we will see one or the other get clobbered on a particular day, but Friday was a “bloodbath” for all asset classes…

Yesterday’s US equity market collapse and simultaneous bond market bloodbath was the biggest combined loss since December 2015, but perhaps more ominously, the week’s combined loss in bonds and stocks was the worst since Feb 2009.

So what will next week bring?

Hopefully things will settle down and we will see the markets start to bounce back.  After a huge decline, that is often what happens.

But it would be foolish to ignore the fear that appears to be growing on Wall Street.  At this point, even Bloomberg is openly wondering if this “is the start of something big?”…

Looking at the week’s drumbeat, you can’t help but wonder, is this the start of something big? Warnings about valuations have been pouring forth from bears for so long that barely anyone listens anymore. With the S&P 500 up almost 50 percent in less than two years, some see the end of the blissfully easy money that equities have spewed out for 13 straight months.

“It’s the turning point of volatility,” said Jeffrey Schulze, chief investment strategist at Clearbridge Investments, which manages $137 billion. “We were all very fortunate to go through a year like 2017. But there’s a number of different dynamics this year that will make volatility more part of the equation than it has been in quite some time.”

If the stock market does crash in 2018, it will not be a surprise.

The only surprise will be that it took this long to happen.

As I have stated over and over again, stock prices would need to fall by at least 40 or 50 percent just to get valuations back to their long-term averages, and stock prices always return to their long-term averages eventually.

Hopefully our day of reckoning has not arrived and this financial bubble can continue for a little while longer.

But if financial markets do begin to crash horribly this year, nobody will be able to say that they were not warned well ahead of time.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump 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.

It’s A Retail Apocalypse: Sears, Macy’s And The Limited Are All Closing Stores

retail-apocalypse-public-domainIt has only been two weeks since Christmas, and already we are witnessing a stunning bloodbath of store closings.  Macy’s shocked the retail industry by announcing that they will be closing about 100 stores.  The downward spiral of Sears hit another landmark when it was announced that another 150 Sears and Kmart stores would be shutting down.  And we have just learned that The Limited is immediately closing all stores nationwide.  If the U.S. economy is doing just fine, then why are we experiencing such a retail apocalypse?  All over America, vast shopping malls that were once buzzing with eager consumers now resemble mausoleums.  We have never seen anything quite like this in our entire history, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.

Not too long ago I walked into a Macy’s, and it was eerily quiet.  I stumbled around the men’s department looking for something to buy, but I was deeply disappointed in what was being offered.  After some time had passed, an employee finally noticed me and came over to help, but they didn’t have anything that I was looking for.

And it is a sad thing, because over the past several years when I have gone into Macy’s looking to spend money, most of the time I have come out of there without spending a penny.  Macy’s has made some very bad decisions recently, and I am hoping that they can still turn things around.  But for the moment, they are closing stores and cutting jobs.  The following comes from the New York Times

Struggling with sagging sales over another crucial holiday shopping season, Macy’s announced on Wednesday that it was eliminating more than 10,000 jobs as part of a continuing plan to cut costs and close 100 stores.

Macy’s, the country’s largest department store chain, said sales at its stores had fallen 2.1 percent in November and December compared with the same period in 2015. Terry J. Lundgren, the company’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement that while the trend was “consistent with the lower end of our guidance, we had anticipated sales would be stronger.”

Another legendary retailer that really does not have any hope left is Sears.  Every year they just keep closing even more stores, and because they are losing so much money they don’t have anything to invest in the stores that remain.  As a result, the state of many Sears locations is downright embarrassing at this point

But the retailer, famous for selling everything from shoes to vacuum cleaners to whole houses, is facing its biggest crisis ever. It’s closing hundreds of stores. Others are in shambles, with leaking ceilings and broken escalators. In some, employees hang bedsheets to shield shoppers from sections that stand empty.

Since the early portion of 2013, sales are down an astounding 37 percent for the company.  Sears is currently more than 1.6 billion dollars in debt, and they are losing more than a billion dollars a year.

They keep closing stores in a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding, but it hasn’t worked.

In 2010, Sears had 3,555 stores.

Last year, Sears had 1,503 stores, and now a whole bunch more are being shut down.

But everyone can see where this is going.  As I have stated repeatedly, Sears is going to zero, and many of the experts completely agree with me

“They are going out of business,” said Van Conway, an expert in bankruptcy and debt restructuring and CEO of Van Conway & Partners. “This snowball is 90% of the way to the bottom of the hill.”

Of course Sears is still surviving for the moment, and that is more than can be said for The Limited.

Back in the old days, it seemed like every mall had one of their stores.  I remember passing it on my way to Orange Julius and Herman’s World of Sporting Goods.

But now they are shutting down every single location and will be online only

American malls just got emptier.

The Limited, a once-popular women’s clothing brand that offers casual attire and workwear, no longer has any storefronts.

On Saturday, a message on the store’s website read, “We’re sad to say that all The Limited stores nationwide have officially closed their doors. But this isn’t goodbye.” The website will still be up and running and will continue to ship nationwide, the company said.

In addition to Macy’s, Sears and The Limited, other huge names in the retail industry have also fallen on hard times and have had to shut stores over the past 12 months.  The following comes from the Washington Post

The retail environment has proved challenging for a variety of stores: Sports Authority went out of business in 2016, shuttering more than 460 locations in U.S. malls and strip malls. PacSun, Aeropostale and American Apparel each have filed for bankruptcy protection in the past year and are aiming to reorganize and revive their businesses.

So why is this happening?

Without a doubt, our shopping habits have changed.  And in the online world, many of these retailers are being absolutely crushed by competition from Amazon and other tech companies that developed online infrastructure before they did.  I know that my wife and I actually prefer to shop online for many things when possible, and I anticipate that the share of retailing done online will only continue to grow in this country.

But let us also not underestimate the impact that the stagnating economy is having on ordinary consumers.  Thanks to the last eight years, approximately two-thirds of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  More than a third of all Americans have a debt that is at least 180 days past due, and the rate of homeownership has been hovering near the lowest level that we have seen in about 50 years.  As you read this article, more than 95 million Americans are not in the labor force, and that number has grown by 18 percent under Barack Obama.  Homelessness in New York City and other major cities is at a record high, and as a nation we have accumulated the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world.

Let us hope that things can be turned around, but if current trends continue the retail apocalypse is just going to go from bad to worse, and we will continue to see lots of headlines about more stores closing down.

Economic Activity Is Slowing Down Much Faster Than The Experts Anticipated

Locomotive - Public DomainWe have not seen global economic activity fall off this rapidly since the great recession of 2008.  Manufacturing activity is imploding all over the planet, global trade is slowing down at a pace that is extremely alarming, and the Baltic Dry Index just hit another brand new all-time record low.  If the “real economy” consists of people making, selling and shipping stuff, then it is in incredibly bad shape.  Here in the United States, the dismal economic numbers continue to stun all of the experts.  For example, on Monday we learned that the Texas general business activity index just hit a six year low

Economic activity in Texas keeps getting worse.

The general business activity index out Monday from the Dallas Federal Reserve for January was -34.6, a six-year low and much worse than economists had expected.

The forecast for the monthly index was -14, following a December reading of -21.6 (revised from -20.1) that was also worse than expected.

One could perhaps argue that this is to be expected in Texas because of the collapse in the price of oil.

But what about the very unusual things that we are seeing in other areas of the country?  In Erwin, Tennessee, a rail terminal that had been continuously operating for 135 years was just permanently shut down, and hundreds of workers now find themselves without a job

The last coal train to leave Erwin rolled slowly out of town just after at 3 p.m. Thursday, less than eight hours after CSX Transportation employees heard the news that rocked all of Unicoi County.

“Its a hard pill to swallow,”  county Mayor Greg Lynch said. “Of course, we heard rumors that something was coming down. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine they would just shut down and leave town.”

CSX delivered the news of its decision to immediately close Erwin’s 175-acre rail yard and abruptly end the employment of the facility’s 300 workers in a series of meetings with employees conducted at the start of their morning shifts.

It has been said that if you want to know what is really happening with the U.S. economy, just watch the railroads.

And right now, rail traffic all over the nation is falling to depressingly low levels.

One of Steve Quayle’s readers says that rail traffic in Colorado has slowed down so much that hundreds of engines are just sitting there on the tracks

With regard to the train freight article this morning, we have in Grand Junction, CO., literally hundreds of engines sidelined on the tracks. They are three deep on some tracks and easily number over 250. I have never seen this many engines on the tracks before and I feel this is just another indicator of the slowdown in shipping.

In case you are tempted to think that this is just anecdotal evidence, I want you to consider what is happening to the largest railroad company in the United States.

According to Wolf Richter, operating revenues for Union Pacific were down 15 percent last year…

Union Pacific, the largest US railroad, reported awful fourth-quarter earnings Thursday evening. Operating revenues plummeted 15% year over year, and net income dropped 22%.

It was broad-based: The only category where revenues rose was automotive (+1%). Otherwise, revenues fell: Chemicals (-7%), Agricultural Products (-12%), Intermodal containers (-14%), Industrial Products (-23%), and Coal (-31%). Shipment of crude plunged 42%.

So Union Pacific did what American companies do best: it laid off 3,900 people last year.

And of course we can see evidence of the emerging economic slowdown all around us pretty much wherever we look.  Sprint just laid off 8 percent of its workforce, GoPro is letting go 7 percent of its workers,  and Wal-Mart just announced the closure of 269 stores.

But instead of dealing with reality, there are a lot of irrational optimists that insist that things will start bouncing back any day now.  For instance, CNBC is reporting that Goldman Sachs is forecasting that the S&P 500 will end up finishing the year back at 2,100…

Goldman, though, is sticking with its forecast that the S&P 500 will rebound and finish the year at 2,100, a rise of about 11 percent from current levels but basically no net gain for the full year.

It is easy to say something like that, but the actions of the big banks speak louder than words.

Most people don’t realize this, but several of the “too big to fail” banks laid off thousands of workers in 2015

Bank of America and Citigroup reduced headcount the most, eliminating about 20,000 staffers between them, according to fourth-quarter earnings reports from each bank. The respective moves amount to 4.6 percent and 4 percent fewer workers at the banks. JPMorgan Chase reported in its earnings that it employs 6,700 fewer workers than a year ago.

And guess what?

The “too big to fail” banks did the exact same thing just before the great stock market crash of 2008.

When are people going to finally start understanding that we have a major league crisis on our hands?

Since June 2015, approximately 15 trillion dollars of global stock market wealth has been wiped out.  After a brief respite at the end of last week, it appears that the global financial crisis is getting ready to accelerate once again.

On Monday, the price of oil dipped back under 30 dollars, the Dow was down another 208 points, and the Nikkei is currently down another 389 points in early trading.

Somewhere close to one-fifth of all global stock market wealth has already been wiped out.

We only have about four-fifths left.

But in the end, I can talk about these numbers until I am blue in the face and some people will still not get prepared.

Some people have so much faith in Barack Obama, the Federal Reserve and the mainstream media that they would literally follow them off a cliff.

By now, most of the people that believe that they should prepare for the coming crisis have already gotten prepared, and most of those that want to believe that everything is going to work out just fine somehow are never going to get prepared anyway.

What is going to happen is going to happen, and tens of millions of people are going to end up bitterly regretting not listening to the warnings when they still had the chance.

27 Facts That Show How The Middle Class Has Fared Under 6 Years Of Barack Obama

27 Facts That Show How The Middle Class Has Fared Under Barack ObamaDuring his State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening, Barack Obama is going to promise to make life better for middle class families.  Of course he has also promised to do this during all of his other State of the Union addresses, but apparently he still believes that there are people out there that are buying what he is selling.  Each January, he gets up there and tells us how the economy is “turning around” and to believe that much brighter days are right around the corner.  And yet things just continue to get even worse for the middle class.  The numbers that you are about to see will not be included in Obama’s State of the Union speech.  They don’t fit the “narrative” that Obama is trying to sell to the American people.  But all of these statistics are accurate.  They paint a picture of a middle class that is dying.  Yes, the decline of the U.S. middle class is a phenomenon that has been playing out for decades.  But without a doubt, our troubles have accelerated during the Obama years.  When it comes to economics, he is completely and utterly clueless, and the policies that he has implemented are eating away at the foundations of our economy like a cancer.  The following are 27 facts that show how the middle class has fared under 6 years of Barack Obama…

#1 American families in the middle 20 percent of the income scale now earn less money than they did on the day when Barack Obama first entered the White House.

#2 American families in the middle 20 percent of the income scale have a lower net worth than they did on the day when Barack Obama first entered the White House.

#3 According to a Washington Post article published just a few days ago, more than 50 percent of the children in U.S. public schools now come from low income homes.  This is the first time that this has happened in at least 50 years.

#4 According to a Census Bureau report that was recently released, 65 percent of all children in the United States are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government.

#5 In 2008, the total number of business closures exceeded the total number of businesses being created for the first time ever, and that has continued to happen every single year since then.

#6 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.  But by 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans still considered themselves to be “middle class”.

#7 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.  But in 2014, an astounding 49 percent of all Americans in that age range considered themselves to be “lower class”.

#8 Traditionally, owning a home has been one of the key indicators that you belong to the middle class.  So what does the fact that the rate of homeownership in America has been falling for seven years in a row say about the Obama years?

#9 According to a survey that was conducted last year, 52 percent of all Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.

#10 After accounting for inflation, median household income in the United States is 8 percent lower than it was when the last recession started in 2007.

#11 According to one recent survey, 62 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.

#12 At this point, one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“.

#13 When Barack Obama first set foot in the Oval Office, 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Today, that number is sitting at only 59.2 percent…

Employment Population Ratio 2015

#14 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 32.8 weeks.

#15 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

#16 At the end of Barack Obama’s first year in office, our yearly trade deficit with China was 226 billion dollars.  Last year, it was more than 314 billion dollars.

#17 When Barack Obama was first elected, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent.  Today, it is over 101 percent.

#18 The U.S. national debt is on pace to approximately double during the eight years of the Obama administration.  In other words, under Barack Obama the U.S. government will accumulate about as much debt as it did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.

#19 According to the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.

#20 The poverty rate in the United States has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years.  This is the first time that has happened since 1965.

#21 From 2009 through 2013, the U.S. government spent a whopping 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs.

#22 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 46 million.

#23 Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had full-time jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have full-time jobs.

#24 One recent survey discovered that about 22 percent of all Americans have had to turn to a church food panty for assistance.

#25 An astounding 45 percent of all African-American children in the United States live in areas of “concentrated poverty”.

#26 40.9 percent of all children in the United States that are living with only one parent are living in poverty.

#27 According to a report that was released late last year by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the United States has reached a new all-time record high of 2.5 million.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.

The incredibly foolish decisions that have been made by Obama, Congress and the Federal Reserve have brought us right to the precipice of another major financial crisis and another crippling economic downturn.

So as bad as the numbers that I just shared with you above are, the truth is that they are nothing compared to what is coming.

We are heading into the greatest economic crisis that any of us have ever seen, and it is going to shock the world.

I hope that you are getting ready.

The Velocity Of Money In The U.S. Falls To An All-Time Record Low

Velocity Of Money M2When an economy is healthy, there is lots of buying and selling and money tends to move around quite rapidly.  Unfortunately, the U.S. economy is the exact opposite of that right now.  In fact, as I will document below, the velocity of M2 has fallen to an all-time record low.  This is a very powerful indicator that we have entered a deflationary era, and the Federal Reserve has been attempting to combat this by absolutely flooding the financial system with more money.  This has created some absolutely massive financial bubbles, but it has not fixed what is fundamentally wrong with our economy.  On a very basic level, the amount of economic activity that we are witnessing is not anywhere near where it should be and the flow of money through our economy is very stagnant.  They can try to mask our problems with happy talk for as long as they want, but in the end it will be clearly evident that none of the long-term trends that are destroying our economy have been addressed.

Discussions about the money supply can get very complicated, and that can cause people to tune out, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

To put it very basically, when there is lots of economic activity, there is lots of money changing hands.

When there is not very much economic activity, the pace at which money circulates through our system slows down.

That is why what is happening in the U.S. right now is so troubling.

First, let’s look at M1, which is a fairly narrow definition of the money supply.  The following is how Investopedia defines M1…

A measure of the money supply that includes all physical money, such as coins and currency, as well as demand deposits, checking accounts and Negotiable Order of Withdrawal (NOW) accounts. M1 measures the most liquid components of the money supply, as it contains cash and assets that can quickly be converted to currency. It does not contain “near money” or “near, near money” as M2 and M3 do.

As you can see from the chart posted below, the velocity of M1 normally declines during a recession.  Just look at the shaded areas in the chart.  But a funny thing has happened since the end of the last recession.  The velocity of M1 has just kept falling and it is now at a nearly 20 year low…

Velocity Of Money M1

Next, let’s take a look at M2.  It includes more things in the money supply.  The following is how Investopedia defines M2…

A measure of money supply that includes cash and checking deposits (M1) as well as near money. “Near money” in M2 includes savings deposits, money market mutual funds and other time deposits, which are less liquid and not as suitable as exchange mediums but can be quickly converted into cash or checking deposits.

In the chart posted below, we can once again see that the velocity of M2 normally slows down during a recession.  And we can also see that the velocity of M2 has continued to slow down in the “post-recession era” and has now dropped to the lowest level ever recorded

Velocity Of Money M2

This is a highly deflationary chart.

It clearly indicates that economic activity in the U.S. has been steadily slowing down.

And if we are honest, we have to admit that we are seeing signs of this all around us.  Major retailers are closing down stores at the fastest pace since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, consumer confidence is down, trading revenues at the big Wall Street banks are way down, and the steady decline in home sales is more than just a little bit alarming.

In addition, the employment situation in this country is much less promising than we have been led to believe.  According to a report put out by the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee, an all-time record one out of every eight men in their prime working years are not in the labor force

“There are currently 61.1 million American men in their prime working years, age 25–54. A staggering 1 in 8 such men are not in the labor force at all, meaning they are neither working nor looking for work. This is an all-time high dating back to when records were first kept in 1955. An additional 2.9 million men are in the labor force but not employed (i.e., they would work if they could find a job). A total of 10.2 million individuals in this cohort, therefore, are not holding jobs in the U.S. economy today. There are also nearly 3 million more men in this age group not working today than there were before the recession began.”

Never before has such a high percentage of men in their prime years been so idle.

But since they are not counted as part of “the labor force”, the government bureaucrats can keep the “unemployment rate” looking nice and pretty.

Of course if we were actually using honest numbers, the unemployment rate would be in the double digits, our economy would be considered to have been in a recession since about 2005, and everyone would be crying out for an end to “the depression”.

And now we are rapidly approaching another downturn.  In my recent articles entitled “Has The Next Recession Already Begun For America’s Middle Class?” and “27 Huge Red Flags For The U.S. Economy“, I detailed much of the evidence for why this is true.

And those that run the Federal Reserve know all of this.

That is one of the reasons for all of the “quantitative easing” that they have been doing.  The folks at the Fed know that the U.S. economy would probably drift into a deflationary depression if they just sat back and did nothing.  So they flooded the system with money in a desperate attempt to revive economic activity.  But instead, most of the new money just ended up in the pockets of the very wealthy and further increased the divide between those at the top and those at the bottom in this country.

And now Fed officials are slowly scaling back quantitative easing because they apparently believe that the economy is getting “back to normal”.

We shall see.

Many are not quite so optimistic.

For example, the chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, Peter Boockvar, believes that the S&P 500 could plummet 15 to 20 percent when quantitative easing finally ends.

Others believe that it will be much worse than that.

Since 2008, the size of the Fed balance sheet has grown from less than a trillion dollars to more than four trillion dollars.  This unprecedented intervention was able to successfully delay the coming deflationary depression, but it has also made our long-term problems far worse.

So when the inevitable crash does arrive, it will be much, much worse than it could have been.

Sadly, most Americans do not understand these things.  Most Americans simply trust that our “leaders” know what they are doing.  And so in the end, most Americans will be completely blindsided by what is coming.

China And Russia Are Ruthlessly Cutting The Legs Out From Under The U.S. Dollar

The mainstream media in the United States is almost totally ignoring one of the most important trends in global economics.  This trend is going to cause the value of the U.S. dollar to fall dramatically and it is going to cause the cost of living in the United States to go way up.  Right now, the U.S. dollar is the primary reserve currency of the world.  Even though that status has been chipped away at in recent years, U.S. dollars still make up more than 60 percent of all foreign currency reserves in the world.  Most international trade (including the buying and selling of oil) is conducted in U.S. dollars, and this gives the United States a tremendous economic advantage.  Since so much trade is done in dollars, there is a constant demand for more dollars all over the globe from countries that need them for trading purposes.  So the Federal Reserve is able to flood our financial system with dollars without it causing a tremendous amount of inflation because the rest of the world ends up soaking up a lot of those dollars.  But now that is changing.  China and Russia have been spearheading a movement to shift away from using the U.S. dollar in international trade.  At the moment, the shift is happening gradually, but at some point a tipping point will come (for example if Saudi Arabia were to declare that it will no longer take U.S. dollars for oil) and the entire global financial system is going to change.  When that tipping point comes the global demand for U.S. dollars is going to absolutely plummet and nightmarish inflation will come to the United States.  If such a scenario sounds far out to you, then you have not been paying attention.  In fact, China and Russia have been working very hard to move us toward exactly such a scenario.

China and Russia are not the “buddies” of the United States.  The truth is that they are both ruthless competitors of the United States and leaders from both nations have been calling for a new global currency for years.

They don’t like that the United States has a built-in advantage of having the reserve currency of the world, and over the past several years both countries have been busy making international agreements that seek to chip away at that advantage.

Just the other day, China and Germany agreed to start conducting an increasing amount of trade with each other in their own currencies.

You would think that a major currency agreement between the 2nd and 4th largest economies on the face of the planet would make headlines all over the United States.

Instead, the silence in the U.S. media was deafening.

At least there were some reports in the international media about this.  The following is from a Reuters article about this very important deal….

Germany and China plan to conduct an increasing amount of their trade in euros and yuan, the two nations said in a joint statement after talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing on Thursday.

“Both sides intend to support financial institutions and companies of both countries in the use of the renminbi and euro in bilateral trade and investments,” said the text of the statement.

By itself, this deal would not be that alarming.

However, the truth is that both Russia and China have been making deals like this all over the globe in recent years.  I detailed 11 more major agreements like the one that China and Germany just made in this article: “11 International Agreements That Are Nails In The Coffin Of The Petrodollar“.

In that article I listed a few of the things that will likely happen when the petrodollar dies….

-Oil will cost a lot more.

-Everything will cost a lot more.

-There will be a lot less foreign demand for U.S. government debt.

-Interest rates on U.S. government debt will rise.

-Interest rates on just about everything in the U.S. economy will rise.

So enjoy going to “the dollar store” while you can.

It will turn into the “five and ten dollar store” soon enough.

Okay, so if you are China and Russia and you are working hard to undermine the dollar, how do you get prepared for the fiat currency crisis that your hard work will eventually create?

You guessed it.  You hoard gold and other precious metals.

And that is exactly what China and Russia has been doing.

A recent MarketWatch article detailed the massive hoarding of gold that Russia has been doing….

I can’t imagine it means anything cheerful that Vladimir Putin, the Russian czar, is stockpiling gold as fast as he can get his hands on it.

According to the World Gold Council, Russia has more than doubled its gold reserves in the past five years. Putin has taken advantage of the financial crisis to build the world’s fifth-biggest gold pile in a handful of years, and is buying about half a billion dollars’ worth every month.

Of course Russia is not alone in hoarding gold.  According to Zero Hedge, China has quietly been importing gigantic mountains of gold….

In July, Chinese gold imports from HK, after two months of declines, have picked up once more and hit a 3-month high of 75.8 tons. While it is notable that this number is double the 38.1 tons imported a year prior, and that year-to-date imports are now a record 458.6 tons, well over four times greater than the seven month total in 2011 which was 103.9 tons, what is far more important is that in the first seven months of 2012 alone China has imported nearly as much gold as the total holdings of the hedge fund at the heart of the Eurozone, elsewhere known simply as the European Central Bank, and just as importantly considering the import run-rate has hardly slowed down in August, which data we will have in a few weeks, it is now safe to say that in 2012 alone China has imported more gold than the ECB’s entire official 502.1 tons of holdings.

And all over the world Chinese companies are buying up gold producers.  China National Gold Group Corporation has put in a $3.9 billion bid to buy African Barrick Gold PLC, but that is only one example.

A recent Fox Business article listed a bunch of other similar transactions that have taken place recently….

Zijin Mining Group Co. (2899.HK), China’s second-largest gold producer by output, said last week that its subsidiary has acquired more than 50% of Kalgoorlie’s Norton Gold Fields (NGF.AU).

That deal gives it a foothold in the Australian market, the world’s second-largest source of gold output after China itself. In 2011, Zijin bought 60% of Kazakhstan-based miner Altynken, which has access to a gold mine in Kyrgyzstan.

Since 2008, Chinese companies have completed 10 US$20-million-plus acquisitions of Australian gold assets, worth a combined $1.6 billion, according to Dealogic. Half were initiated since last year.

In November, Shandong Gold-Mining Co. (600547.SH) launched a bid to acquire Brazilian gold miner Jaguar Mining Inc. (JAG.T) for $1 billion.

You would have to be blind to not see what is happening.

Other big names have been hoarding gold as well.  In a previous article I detailed how George Soros, John Paulson and central banks all over the planet have been hungrily accumulating gold.

So what does all of this mean for the price of gold?

That’s right – it is likely to keep heading up.

In fact, Citi analyst Tom Fitzpatrick believes that the price of gold will likely hit $2500 within 6 months.

Personally, I believe that there will be times when precious metals both fall and rise in price dramatically.  It is going to be a wild ride.  But in the long-term I believe that all precious metals will be going up as fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar fail.

Sadly, most Americans have no idea just how incredibly vulnerable the U.S. dollar really is.

The following is an excerpt from a recent piece by investigative journalist Bob Woodward.  It shows just how worried our leaders are about a crash of U.S. Treasuries….

Another possible outcome, Geithner said, was perhaps worse. “Suppose we have an auction and no one shows up?”

The cascading impact would be unknowable. The world could decide to dump U.S. Treasuries. Prices would plummet, interest rates would skyrocket. The one pillar of stability, the United States, the rock in the global economy, could collapse.

What happens someday if the rest of the world decides to reject our currency and our debt?

Right now we are able to trade our dollars for the things that we “need” such as oil from the Middle East and cheap plastic consumer products from China.

But what happens if the Federal Reserve keeps printing and printing and printing and the rest of the world eventually decides that the U.S. dollar is not even worth the paper it is printed on?

The truth is that the amount of printing the Federal Reserve has been doing and the amount of borrowing the federal government has been doing are both completely and totally unsustainable.

At this point, Moody’s is threatening to cut the credit rating of the federal government if a deal is not reached soon to reduce our debt to GDP ratio.

And Moody’s is not the only one concerned about our exploding debt.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble recently stated that he believes that “there is great uncertainty about the course American politics will take in dealing the U.S. government’s debts, which are much too high”.

Just because the economy is relatively stable right now does not mean that it is always going to be that way.

If we keep debasing our currency like this, at some point the rest of the world is going to decide that China and Russia have been right all along and that we need a new global reserve currency.

That day is coming.  It might not come tomorrow or next week or next month but it is definitely coming.

Once the U.S. dollar loses reserve currency status, that will be a major turning point in the history of our country.  We will never fully recover from that, and we will never get back to the same level of prosperity that we are enjoying today.

So enjoy spending those dollars while you can.  The party is almost over.

Finca Bayano

Panama Relocation Tours




 

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