The Beginning Of The End
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20 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Heading For Big Trouble In The Months Ahead

20 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Heading For Big Trouble In The Months Ahead - Photo by Frank KovalchekIs the U.S. economy about to experience a major downturn?  Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of signs that economic activity in the United States is really slowing down right now.  Freight volumes and freight expenditures are way down, consumer confidence has declined sharply, major retail chains all over America are closing hundreds of stores, and the "sequester" threatens to give the American people their first significant opportunity to experience what "austerity" tastes like.  Gas prices are going up rapidly, corporate insiders are dumping massive amounts of stock and there are high profile corporate bankruptcies in the news almost every single day now.  In many ways, what we are going through right now feels very similar to 2008 before the crash happened.  Back then the warning signs of economic trouble were very obvious, but our politicians and the mainstream media insisted that everything was just fine, and the stock market was very much detached from reality.  When the stock market did finally catch up with reality, it happened very, very rapidly.  Sadly, most people do not appear to have learned any lessons from the crisis of 2008.  Americans continue to rack up staggering amounts of debt, and Wall Street is more reckless than ever.  As a society, we seem to have concluded that 2008 was just a temporary malfunction rather than an indication that our entire system was fundamentally flawed.  In the end, we will pay a great price for our overconfidence and our recklessness. (Read More....)

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Goldman Sachs Made 400 Million Betting On Food Prices In 2012 While Hundreds Of Millions Starved

Starving Child In Ethiopia - Photo by Cate Turton - Department for International DevelopmentWhy does it seem like wherever there is human suffering, some giant bank is making money off of it?  According to a new report from the World Development Movement, Goldman Sachs made about 400 million dollars betting on food prices last year.  Overall, 2012 was quite a banner year for Goldman Sachs.  As I reported in a previous article, revenues for Goldman increased by about 30 percent in 2012 and the price of Goldman stock has risen by more than 40 percent over the past 12 months.  It is estimated that the average banker at Goldman brought in a pay and bonus package of approximately $396,500 for 2012.  So without a doubt, Goldman Sachs is swimming in money right now.  But what is the price for all of this "success"?  Many claim that the rampant speculation on food prices by the big banks has dramatically increased the global price of food and has caused the suffering of hundreds of millions of poor families around the planet to become much worse.  At this point, global food prices are more than twice as high as they were back in 2003.  Approximately 2 billion people on the planet spend at least half of their incomes on food, and close to a billion people regularly do not have enough food to eat.  Is it moral for Goldman Sachs and other big banks such as Barclays and Morgan Stanley to make hundreds of millions of dollars betting on the price of food if that is going to drive up global food prices and make it harder for poor families all over the world to feed themselves? (Read More....)

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18 Indications That Europe Has Become An Economic Black Hole Which Is Going To Suck The Life Out Of The Global Economy

Summer vacation is over and things are about to get very interesting in Europe.  Most Americans don't realize this, but much of Europe shuts down for the entire month of August.  I wish we had something similar in the United States.  But now millions of Europeans are returning from their extended family vacations and the fun is about to begin.  During August economic conditions continued to degenerate in Europe, but I figured that it wouldn't be until after August that the European debt crisis would take center stage once again.  And as I wrote about last week, if there is going to be a financial panic, it typically happens in the fall.  The stock market has seen quite a nice rally over the summer, and many investors are nervous that we could see a significant "correction" very soon.  The month of September has been the absolute worst month for stock performance over the past 50 years, and it has also been the absolute worst month for stock performance over the past 100 years as well.  Of course that does not guarantee that anything is going to happen this year.  But things in Europe continue to get worse.  Unemployment rates are spiking, manufacturing activity is slowing down, housing prices are crashing and major financial institutions are failing.  What is happening in Europe right now appears to be an even worse version of what happened to the United States back in 2008. (Read More....)

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8 Economic Threats That We Were Not Even Talking About At The Beginning Of The Summer

In the crazy times in which we live, it helps to expect the unexpected.  Sometimes you can think that you have it all figured out and then this world can throw a real curveball at you. Very few people anticipated that we would see a massive outbreak of the West Nile Virus in Texas this year or that the Mississippi River would be in danger of drying up after experiencing historic flooding last year.  Who would have thought that we would see the worst drought in more than 50 years or that horrific wildfires would burn nearly 7 million acres of land?  This is why economic conditions are always so hard to predict.  A single "black swan event" can come along and change everything almost overnight.  Our world has become incredibly unstable, and so who really knows what the rest of 2012 will bring?  Will we see a stock market crash?  Will the hurricane season be unusually bad?  Will war erupt in the Middle East?  Will we see a major earthquake on the west coast or even a volcanic eruption?  Will the upcoming election cause an eruption of anger and frustration in America?  We don't know the answers to those questions yet, and the truth is that we will probably see some things happen that very few of us are anticipating at this point. (Read More....)

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

Something really strange appears to be happening.  All over the globe, governments and big banks are acting as if they are anticipating an imminent financial collapse.  Unfortunately, we are not privy to the quiet conversations that are taking place in corporate boardrooms and in the halls of power in places such as Washington D.C. and London, so all we can do is try to make sense of all the clues that are all around us.  Of course it is completely possible to misinterpret these clues, but sticking our heads in the sand is not going to do any good either.  Last week, it was revealed that the U.S. government has been secretly directing five of the biggest banks in America "to develop plans for staving off collapse" for the last two years.  By itself, that wouldn't be that big of a deal.  But when you add that piece to the dozens of other clues of imminent financial collapse, a very troubling picture begins to emerge.  Over the past 12 months, hundreds of banking executives have been resigning, corporate insiders have been selling off enormous amounts of stock, and I have been personally told that a significant number of Wall Street bankers have been shopping for "prepper properties" in rural communities this summer.  Meanwhile, there have been reports that the U.S. government has been stockpiling food and ammunition, and Barack Obama has been signing a whole bunch of executive orders that would potentially be implemented in the event of a major meltdown of society.  So what does all of this mean?  It could mean something or it could mean nothing.  What we do know is that a financial collapse is coming at some point.  Over the past 40 years, the total amount of all debt in the United States has grown from about 2 trillion dollars to nearly 55 trillion dollars.  That is a recipe for financial armageddon, and it is inevitable that this gigantic bubble of debt is going to burst at some point. (Read More....)

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