Americans are going to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season, and on Friday we got to see our fellow citizens fight each other like rabid animals over foreign-made flat screen televisions and Barbie dolls. As disgusting as this behavior is to many of us, there may soon come a time when we will all fondly remember these days. Most Americans are completely unaware of what is currently happening in the financial world, but right now there are deeply troubling signs that we could be on the verge of another major global financial collapse. If the next great economic downturn does strike in 2015, that could mean that we may have just witnessed the last great Black Friday celebration of American materialism. As you read this, stock prices are approximately double the value that they should be, margin debt is hovering near all-time record highs, and the “too big to fail” banks are being far more reckless than they were just prior to the last major stock market implosion. So many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed back in 2007 and 2008 are repeating right now, and as you will see below, this includes a horrifying crash in the price of oil. Anyone with half a brain should be able to see the slow-motion financial train wreck that is unfolding right before our eyes.
Every year, it has been my tradition to write an article about the mini-riots that erupt in retail stores all around the country on Black Friday. This year things were a bit calmer because so many stores opened up on Thanksgiving itself, but there was still plenty of chaos. For example, in the video posted below you can see women viciously fighting one another over discounted lingerie and underwear…
But instead of launching into another diatribe about how we are committing national economic suicide by buying hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign-made goods with money that we do not have, I want to focus on what is coming next.
You see, I believe that in the not too distant future many of us will be wishing for the days when the debt-fueled U.S. economy was healthy enough for people to be wrestling with one another on the floor over good deals in our retail establishments.
The next great financial crash (which many have been anticipating for years) is rapidly approaching. So many of the same things that happened last time are happening again. As I noted above, this includes a crash in the price of oil.
In the months prior to the last stock market collapse, the price of oil began plummeting dramatically in the summer of 2008. This was an “early warning signal” that something was deeply amiss in the financial world…
Many people assume that a lower price for oil is good for the economy, but the exact opposite is actually true. The oil industry has become absolutely critical to the U.S. and Canadian economies. And in recent years, the “shale oil boom” has been one of the only bright spots for the United States. If the shale oil industry starts to fail because of lower prices, a lot of the boom areas all over the nation are going to go bust really quickly and a lot of the financial institutions that were backing these projects are going to feel an immense amount of pain.
Unfortunately for us, the “shale oil revolution” simply does not work at 80 dollars a barrel.
And it certainly does not work at 70 dollars a barrel.
As I write this, U.S. crude is sitting at about 66 dollars a barrel due to OPEC’s recent decision to not cut output.
That is the lowest price for U.S. crude since September 2009.
So just like we saw during the summer of 2008, crude oil prices are collapsing once again. The chart below comes from the Federal Reserve, but it is a few days out of date. Now that the price of crude is down to about 66 dollars, you have to imagine the price actually going below the bottom of this chart…
Needless to say, this price collapse is having a huge impact on the stock prices of oil companies. The following information about what happened in the markets on Friday comes from Business Insider…
Here were some of the biggest losers on Friday:
- BP (BP), down 5%
- Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A), down 6%
- Total (TOT), down 5%
- Statoil (STO), down 14%
- Exxon Mobil (XOM), down 5%
- ConocoPhillips (COP), down 9%
- Marathon Oil (MRO), down 13%
- Occidental Petroleum (OXY), down 7%
- Anadarko Petroleum (APC), down 14%
- Linn Energy (LINE), down 13%
- Whiting Petroleum (WLL), down 28%
- Oasis Petroleum (OAS), down 32%
- Kodiak Oil & Gas (KOG), down 28%
And this list goes on.
But this could just be the beginning of the oil price declines.
The most powerful oil official in Russia believes that the price of oil could fall below $60 next year…
Russia’s most powerful oil official Igor Sechin said in an interview with an Austrian newspaper that oil prices could fall below $60 by mid-way through next year.
Sechin, chief executive of Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, also said U.S. oil production would fall after 2025 and that an oil market council should be created to monitor prices, the same day the OPEC cartel met in Vienna and left its output targets unchanged.
“We expect that a fall in the price to $60 and below is possible, but only during the first half, or rather by the end of the first half (of next year),” Sechin told the Die Presse newspaper.
And one oil industry analyst just told CNBC that he believes that the price of oil could ultimately plunge as low as $35 a barrel…
“When you look at the second half of 2015, that’s when you see oil beginning to dwarf demand by about a million, a million and a half barrels a day,” he said. “Thirty-five dollars is a possibility if they don’t get an agreement next spring because that’s when the oil really starts to build and you can have a billion barrels of oil with really no place to put it.”
This comes at a time when there are already a whole host of signs that the global economy is slowing down. Three of the ten largest economies on the planet have already slipped into recession, and the economic nightmare over in Europe just continues to get even worse. In fact, we just learned that the unemployment rate in Italy has shot above 13 percent for the first time ever recorded.
In addition, it is important to remember that the “real economy” in the United States is in far worse shape than it was just prior to the last financial crash. Just consider these numbers…
-In the United States today, the number of payday lending locations is greater than the number of McDonald’s and the number of Starbucks.
-One recent survey found that about 22 percent of all Americans have had to turn to a church food panty for assistance.
-This year, almost one out of every five households in the United States celebrated Thanksgiving on food stamps.
-The rate of government dependence in America is at an all-time high and approximately 60 percent of U.S. households get more in transfer payments from the government than they pay in taxes.
-According to a report that was just released by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the U.S. has soared to a new all-time record high of 2.5 million.
If things are this bad now, what are they going to look like after the next great financial crash?
And without a doubt, the next crash is coming. Hopefully we have at least a couple more months of relative stability, but many experts are now urgently warning that time is quickly running out.
By this time next year, Black Friday may look a whole lot different than it does today.
Are you in better shape financially than you were last Thanksgiving? If so, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate because most Americans are not. As you chow down on turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce this Thursday, please remember that there are millions of Americans that simply cannot afford to eat such a meal. According to a shocking new report that was just released by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the U.S. has reached a new all-time high of 2.5 million. And right now one out of every seven Americans rely on food banks to put food on the table. Yes, life is very good at the moment for Americans at the top end of the income spectrum. The stock market has been soaring and sales of homes worth at last a million dollars are up 16 percent so far this year. But most Americans live in a very different world. The percentage of Americans that are employed is about the same as it was during the depths of the last recession, the quality of our jobs continues to go down, the rate of homeownership in America has fallen for seven years in a row, and the cost of living is rising much faster than paychecks are. As a result, the middle class is smaller this Thanksgiving than it was last Thanksgiving, and most Americans have seen their standards of living go down over the past year.
In 2014, there are tens of millions of Americans that are anonymously leading lives of quiet desperation. They are desperately trying to hold on even though things just keep getting worse. For example, just consider the plight of 49-year-old Darrell Eberhardt. Once upon a time, his job in a Chevy factory paid him $18.50 an hour, but now he only makes $10.50 an hour and he knows that he probably would not be able to make as much in a new job if he decided to leave…
For nearly 20 years, Darrell Eberhardt worked in an Ohio factory putting together wheelchairs, earning $18.50 an hour, enough to gain a toehold in the middle class and feel respected at work.
He is still working with his hands, assembling seats for Chevrolet Cruze cars at the Camaco auto parts factory in Lorain, Ohio, but now he makes $10.50 an hour and is barely hanging on. “I’d like to earn more,” said Mr. Eberhardt, who is 49 and went back to school a few years ago to earn an associate’s degree. “But the chances of finding something like I used to have are slim to none.”
Of course you can’t support a family on $10.50 an hour.
You can barely support one person on $10.50 an hour.
But there are many men out there that would absolutely love to switch positions with Darrell Eberhardt. At this point, one out of every six men in their prime working years (25 to 54) does not have a job. That is an absolutely crazy number.
And of course just because you “have a job” does not mean that things are going well. The number of Americans that are “working part-time involuntarily” has risen by over 50 percent since the beginning of the last recession. There are millions of hard working Americans that would love to get a full-time job if they could land one. But these days “decent jobs” are in short supply.
For example, CNN recently profiled the story of college graduate Meghan Brachle…
Meghan would love to be a music teacher or play full-time in an orchestra. She studied music at Loyola University in New Orleans and plays the flute.
Instead, Meghan works a slew of part-time jobs and receives no benefits.
She is a cashier at Whole Foods, a substitute teacher, a flute tutor and an administrative assistant at a non-profit.
Even with all of her hard work, Brachle and her husband often really struggle to pay the bills…
With inconsistent hours, Meghan monthly income fluctuates between $1,000 and $3,000. Even with her husband’s teaching salary, the couple sometimes struggles to cover the $3,600 of monthly expenses they have.
“It’s very stressful,” Meghan, a college graduate, says. “I think about all the job applications I’ve turned in and all the interviews I’ve been on and all the other people who are in the same situation, looking for those same [full-time] jobs. It’s frustrating.”
Sadly, a lot of these part-time employers know that their employees desperately need these jobs and are using that leverage to treat them very poorly.
For example, it is being reported that any KMart employees that do not show up for work on Thanksgiving will be automatically fired.
What kind of nonsense is that?
And around the country at Wal-Mart stores, food drives are being held for “needy employees“.
So why wouldn’t Wal-Mart just pay their workers enough so that they could afford to take care of themselves in the first place?
Most people don’t realize this, but approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is currently living below the poverty line. Many of them are working as hard as they can and still can’t make enough to take care of themselves.
Meanwhile, our paychecks are getting stretched further and further with each passing month.
When you don’t make much money, every dollar is precious. And when food prices go up substantially, it can be very painful. Unfortunately, that is precisely what is happening right now…
-From September to October, the price of a pound of Turkey rose from $1.58 to $1.66. That represents a 5.2 percent price increase in just one month.
-The price of a pound of ground beef has just risen to a brand new record high of $4.15 a pound, and more price increases are on the way. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that U.S. beef production will drop by another 1 billion pounds next year due to a variety of factors including the horrific multi-year drought out west.
-The entire planet is bracing for a huge chocolate shortage, and this threatens to push the price of chocolate beyond the reach of many American families…
Start hoarding those Hershey’s Kisses and stockpile your Snickers: The world could soon experience a chocolate shortage.
Mars Inc. and Barry Callebaut, two of the world’s largest chocolate makers, say that’s the path we’re headed down. They cite a perfect storm of factors: Less cocoa is being produced as more and more people are devouring chocolate.
In 2013, consumers ate about 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than was produced, The Washington Post reports, and that deficit could go up to 1 million metric tons by 2020. The Ivory Coast and Ghana produce more than 70 percent of the world’s cacao beans, and both countries are experiencing dry weather that limits growth. To make things worse, a fungal disease called frosty pod has destroyed 30 to 40 percent of global cocoa production.
As a result of all of the things that I have just discussed above, more Americans than ever are being forced to turn to the government for assistance. Today, the number of Americans getting a check from the government each month is at an all-time high, and at this point Americans collectively get more money from the government than they pay in taxes. For much, much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “21 Facts That Prove That Dependence On The Government Is Out Of Control In America“.
So if things are going well for you this Thanksgiving, you should be truly thankful.
For most of the country, things just continue to get even worse. And if the next major wave of our economic crisis arrives next year like many are projecting, this may just be the beginning of our economic pain.
The parallels between the false prosperity of 2007 and the false prosperity of 2014 are rather striking. If we go back and look at the numbers in the fall of 2007, we find that the Dow set an all-time high in October, margin debt on Wall Street had spiked to record levels, the unemployment rate was below 5 percent and Americans were getting ready to spend a record amount of money that Christmas season. But then the very next year the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression shook the entire planet and everyone wondered why most people never saw it coming. Well, now a similar pattern is unfolding right before our eyes. The Dow and the S&P 500 both hit record highs on Monday, margin debt on Wall Street is hovering near record levels, the unemployment rate has ticked down a little bit and Americans are getting ready to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season. The truth is that the economy seems pretty stable for the moment, and most people cannot even imagine that an economic collapse is coming. So why are so many really smart people forecasting economic disaster in the near future?
For example, just consider what the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center is saying. This is an organization with a tremendous economic forecasting record that goes all the way back to the Great Depression. In fact, it predicted ahead of time the financial trouble and the recession that would happen in 2008. Well, now this company is forecasting that there is a 65 percent chance that there will be a global recession by the end of next year…
In 1929, a businessman and economist by the name of Jerome Levy didn’t like what he saw in his analysis of corporate profits. He sold his stocks before the October crash.
Almost eight decades later, the consultancy company that bears his name declared “the next recession will be caused by the deflating housing bubble.” By February 2007, it predicted problems in the subprime-mortgage market would spread “to virtually all financial markets.” In October 2007, it saw imminent recession — the slump began two months later.
The Jerome Levy Forecasting Center, based in Mount Kisco, New York, and run by Jerome’s grandson David, is again more worried than its peers. Its half-dozen analysts attach a 65 percent probability of a worldwide recession forcing a contraction in the U.S. by the end of next year.
Could they be wrong?
It’s certainly possible.
But I wouldn’t bet against them.
John Hussman is another expert that is warning of financial disaster on the horizon. He believes that we are experiencing a massive stock market bubble right now and that stocks are approximately double the value that they should be…
If you look at corporate profits and especially corporate profit margins, they’re one of the most cyclical and mean-reverting series in economics. Right now, we have corporate profits that are close to about 11% of GDP, but if you look at that series you will find that corporate profits as a share of GDP have always dropped back to about 5.5% or below in every single economic cycle including recent decades, including not only the financial crisis but 2002 and every other economic cycle we have been in.
Right now stocks as a multiple of last year’s expected earnings may look only modestly over valued or modestly richly valued. Really if you look at the measures of valuation that are most correlated to the returns that stocks deliver over time say over seven years or over the next 10 years the S&P 500 in our estimation is about double the level of valuation that would give investors a normal rate of return.
Could you imagine the chaos that would ensue if stocks really did drop by 50 percent?
Well, Hussman says that this is precisely what must happen in order for stock prices to return to historical norms…
Right now, like I say, we are looking at stocks that have been pressed to long-term expected returns that are really dismal. But more important than that, in every market cycle that we’ve seen with the mild exception of 2002, we’ve seen stocks price revert back to normal rates of return. In order to get to that point from here, we would have to have equities drop by about half.
If that does happen, it will make the crisis of 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.
Meanwhile, other very prominent thinkers are also warning that an economic nightmare is rapidly approaching.
Economic cycle theorist Martin Armstrong foresees major economic problems in 2015 which will ultimately lead to “civil unrest” in 2016…
It looks more and more like a serious political uprising will erupt by 2016 once the economy turns down. That is the magic ingredient. Turn the economy down and you get civil unrest and revolution.
And of course there are a whole lot of other economic cycle theorists that are forecasting that we are about to experience a massive economic downturn as well. For much more on this, please see this article and this article.
What is truly frightening is that we have never even come close to recovering from the last economic crisis. One poll that was taken just prior to the recent election found that only 28 percent of Americans said that their families were doing better financially. In addition, here are some more survey numbers about how Americans are feeling about the economy…
According to voter exit polls conducted by CNN, 78% said they are worried about the economy, with 69% saying that, in their view, economic conditions are not good. 65% responded that the country is on the wrong track vs. only 31% who believed that it is headed in the right direction.
Even though we are repeating so many of the same patterns that we experienced back in 2007, we are doing so with a fundamentally weaker economy. The last crisis did a tremendous amount of permanent damage to us. For an extensive look at this, please see my previous article entitled “12 Charts That Show The Permanent Damage That Has Been Done To The U.S. Economy“.
And there are lots of signs that much of the planet is already entering another major economic slowdown. In a recent article, Brandon Smith summarized some of these. He says that we are currently witnessing “the last gasp of the global economy“…
Global exports, and thus consumer demand, are plunging. Germany, the only pillar left to prop up the failing European Union, has experienced a severe decline in exports not seen since 2009.
China, the largest exporter and importer in the world, and Chinese companies, have been caught in a number of instances using fraudulent invoices to artificially inflate their own export numbers, in some cases reporting 50% more exported goods than had actually existed.
China’s manufacturing has also declined for the past five months, exposing the nature of its inflated export stats and indicating a global slowdown.
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of global shipping rates for raw goods, and thus a measure of demand for shipping, continues to drag along near historic lows.
The U.S. consumer (the only economic asset the U.S. has besides the dollar’s world reserve status), has seen declines in spending as well as wages.
In the meantime, long term jobless Americans continue to fall off welfare rolls by the millions, making unemployment numbers look good, but the overall future picture look terrible as participation rates dissolve into the ether of government statistics.
How is such poverty being hidden? Foodstamps. Plain and simple. Nearly 50 million Americans now subsist on food stamp programs today, and this number shows no signs of dropping. In states like Illinois, two people sign up for food assistance for every citizen that happens to find a job.
From time to time, I get accused of “spreading fear” and of being obsessed with “doom and gloom”.
But that is not the case at all.
I actually want our economy to stay stable for as long as possible. Many Americans don’t realize this, but even the poorest of us live in luxury compared to much of the rest of the world. It would be wonderful if we could all live out our lives in peace and quiet and safety.
Unfortunately, it is simply not going to happen.
And it does not take an expert to see what is coming.
Anyone with half a brain should be able to see the economic disaster that is approaching.
There is hope in understanding what is happening and there is hope in getting prepared. Millions of Americans that are willingly blind to our problems are going to have their lives absolutely destroyed when they get blindsided by the coming crisis. So please use this brief period of relative stability to get prepared and to warn others.
Once this false bubble of hope runs out, all of our lives are going to dramatically change.
The idea that the United States is on the brink of a horrifying economic crash is absolutely inconceivable to most Americans. After all, the economy has been relatively stable for quite a few years and the stock market continues to surge to new heights. On Friday, the Dow and the S&P 500 both closed at brand new all-time record highs. For the year, the S&P 500 is now up 9 percent and the Nasdaq is now up close to 11 percent. And American consumers are getting ready to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season. That is an amount of money that is larger than the entire economy of Sweden. So how in the world can anyone be talking about economic collapse? Yes, many will concede, we had a few bumps in the road back in 2008 but things have pretty much gotten back to normal since then. Why be concerned about economic collapse when there is so much stability all around us?
Unfortunately, this brief period of stability that we have been enjoying is just an illusion.
The fundamental problems that caused the financial crisis of 2008 have not been fixed. In fact, most of our long-term economic problems have gotten even worse.
But most Americans have such short attention spans these days. In a world where we are accustomed to getting everything instantly, news cycles only last for 48 hours and 2008 might as well be an eternity ago.
In the United States today, our entire economic system is based on debt.
Without debt, very little economic activity happens. We need mortgages to buy our homes, we need auto loans to buy our vehicles and we need our credit cards to do our shopping during the holiday season.
So where does all of that debt come from?
It comes from the banks.
In particular, the “too big to fail banks” are the heart of this debt-based system.
Do you have a mortgage, an auto loan or a credit card from one of these “too big to fail” institutions? A very large percentage of the people that will read this article do.
And a lot of people might not like to hear this, but without those banks we essentially do not have an economy.
When Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, it almost resulted in the meltdown of our entire system. The stock market collapsed and we experienced an absolutely wicked credit crunch.
Unfortunately, that was just a small preview of what is coming.
Even though a few prominent “experts” such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman have declared that the “too big to fail” problem is “over”, the truth is that it is now a bigger crisis than ever before.
Compared to five years ago, the four largest banks in the country are now almost 40 percent larger. The following numbers come from a recent article in the Los Angeles Times…
Just before the financial crisis hit, Wells Fargo & Co. had $609 billion in assets. Now it has $1.4 trillion. Bank of America Corp. had $1.7 trillion in assets. That’s up to $2.1 trillion.
And the assets of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the nation’s biggest bank, have ballooned to $2.4 trillion from $1.8 trillion.
At the same time that those banks have been getting bigger, 1,400 smaller banks have completely disappeared from the banking industry.
That means that we are now more dependent on these gigantic banks than ever.
At this point, the five largest banks account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States, and the six largest banks account for 67 percent of all assets in our financial system.
If someone came along and zapped those banks out of existence, our economy would totally collapse overnight.
So the health of this handful of immensely powerful banking institutions is absolutely critical to our economy.
Unfortunately, these banks have become deeply addicted to gambling.
Have you ever known people that allowed their lives to be destroyed by addictions that they could never shake?
Well, that is what is happening to these banks. They have transformed Wall Street into the largest casino in the history of the world. Most of the time, their bets pay off and they make lots of money.
But as we saw back in 2008, when they miscalculate things can fall apart very rapidly.
The bets that I am most concerned about are known as “derivatives“. In essence, they are bets about what will or will not happen in the future. The big banks use very sophisticated algorithms that are supposed to help them be on the winning side of these bets the vast majority of the time, but these algorithms are not perfect. The reason these algorithms are not perfect is because they are based on assumptions, and those assumptions come from people. They might be really smart people, but they are still just people.
If things stay fairly stable like they have the past few years, the algorithms tend to work very well.
But if there is a “black swan event” such as a major stock market crash, a collapse of European or Asian banks, a historic shift in interest rates, an Ebola pandemic, a horrific natural disaster or a massive EMP blast is unleashed by the sun, everything can be suddenly thrown out of balance.
Acrobat Nik Wallenda has been making headlines all over the world for crossing vast distances on a high-wire without a safety net. Well, that is essentially what our “too big to fail” banks are doing every single day. With each passing year, these banks have become even more reckless, and so far there have not been any serious consequences.
But without a doubt, someday there will be.
What would you say about a bookie that took $200,000 in bets but that only had $10,000 to cover those bets?
You would certainly call that bookie a fool.
But that is what our big banks are doing.
Right now, JPMorgan Chase has more than 67 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 2.5 trillion dollars in assets.
Right now, Citibank has nearly 60 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 1.9 trillion dollars in assets.
Right now, Goldman Sachs has more than 54 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it has less than a trillion dollars in assets.
Right now, Bank of America has more than 54 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 2.2 trillion dollars in assets.
Right now, Morgan Stanley has more than 44 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it has less than a trillion dollars in assets.
Most people have absolutely no idea how incredibly vulnerable our financial system really is.
The truth is that these “too big to fail” banks could collapse at any time.
And when they fail, our economy will fail too.
So let us hope and pray that this brief period of false stability lasts for as long as possible.
Because when it ends, all hell is going to break loose.
Mark this day on your calendars. The Dow is at 16974, the S&P 500 is at 1982 and the NASDAQ is at 4549. From this day forward, we will be looking to see how the stock market performs without the monetary heroin that the Federal Reserve has been providing to it. Since November 2008, the Fed has created about 3.5 trillion dollars and pumped it into the financial system. An excellent chart illustrating this in graphic format can be found right here. Pretty much everyone agrees that this has been a tremendous boon for the financial markets. As you will see below, even former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan says that quantitative easing was “a terrific success” as far as boosting stock prices. But he also says that QE has not been very helpful to the real economy at all. In essence, the entire quantitative easing program was a massive 3.5 trillion dollar gift to Wall Street. If that sounds unfair to you, that is because it is unfair.
So why is the Federal Reserve finally ending quantitative easing?
Well, officially the Fed says that it is because there has been so much improvement in the labor market…
The Fed’s language, however, did suggest that they were getting more comfortable with the economy’s improvement. It cited “solid job gains,” citing a “substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market,” as well as pointing out that “underutilization” of labor resources is “gradually diminishing.”
But that is not true at all.
The percentage of Americans that are working right now is about the same as it was during the depths of the last recession. Just check out this chart…
So there has been no “employment recovery” to speak of at all.
And as I wrote about yesterday, the percentage of Americans that are homeowners has been steadily falling throughout the quantitative easing era…
So let’s put the lie that quantitative easing helped the “real economy” to rest. It did no such thing.
Instead, what QE did do was massively inflate stock prices.
The following is an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal report about a speech that former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan made to the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday…
Mr. Greenspan’s comments to the Council on Foreign Relations came as Fed officials were meeting in Washington, D.C., and expected to announce within hours an end to the bond purchases.
He said the bond-buying program was ultimately a mixed bag. He said that the purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities did help lift asset prices and lower borrowing costs. But it didn’t do much for the real economy.
“Effective demand is dead in the water” and the effort to boost it via bond buying “has not worked,” said Mr. Greenspan. Boosting asset prices, however, has been “a terrific success.”
Moving forward, what did Greenspan tell the members of the Council on Foreign Relations that they should do with their money?
This might surprise you…
Mr. Greenspan said gold is a good place to put money these days given its value as a currency outside of the policies conducted by governments.
It almost sounds like Greenspan has been reading the Economic Collapse Blog.
Since November 2008, every time there has been an interruption in the Fed’s quantitative easing program, the stock market has gone down substantially.
Will that happen again this time?
Well, the market is certainly primed for it. We are repeating so many of the very same patterns that we saw just prior to the last two financial crashes.
For example, there have been three dramatic peaks in margin debt in the last twenty years.
One of those peaks came early in the year 2000 just before the dotcom bubble burst.
The second of those peaks came in the middle of 2007 just before the subprime mortgage meltdown happened.
And the third of those peaks happened earlier this year.
You can view a chart that shows these peaks very clearly right here.
The Federal Reserve appears to be confident that the stock market will be okay without the monetary heroin that it has been supplying.
We shall see.
But it should be deeply troubling to all Americans that this unelected, unaccountable body of central bankers has far more power over our economy than anyone else does. During election season, our politicians get up and give speeches about what they will “do for the economy”, but the truth is that they are essentially powerless compared to the immense power that the Federal Reserve wields. Just a few choice words from Janet Yellen can cause the financial markets to rise or fall dramatically. The same cannot be said of any U.S. Senator.
We are told that monetary policy is “too important” to be exposed to politics.
We are told that the independence of the Federal Reserve is “sacred” and must never be interfered with.
I say that is a bunch of nonsense.
No organization should have the power to print up trillions of dollars out of thin air and give it to their friends.
The Federal Reserve is completely and totally out of control, and Congress needs to start exerting power over it.
The first step is to get in there and do a comprehensive audit of the Fed’s books. This is something that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz called for in a recent editorial for USA Today…
Americans are seeing near-zero interest rates on their savings accounts while median incomes are falling, and millions of people are facing higher gas prices, food prices, electricity prices, health insurance prices. Enough is enough, the Federal Reserve needs to open its books — Americans deserve a sound and stable dollar.
Whether you agree with Ted Cruz on other issues or not, this is one issue that all Americans should be able to agree on.
If you study any of our major economic problems, usually you will find that the Federal Reserve is at the heart of that problem.
So if we ever hope to solve the issues that are plaguing our economy, the Fed is going to need to be dealt with.
Hopefully the American people will start to send more representatives to Washington D.C. that understand this.
It is widely expected that the Federal Reserve is going to announce the end of quantitative easing this week. Will this represent a major turning point for the stock market? As you will see below, since 2008 stocks have risen dramatically throughout every stage of quantitative easing. But when the various phases of quantitative easing have ended, stocks have always responded by declining substantially. The only thing that caused stocks to eventually start rising again was a new round of quantitative easing. So what will happen this time? That is a very good question. What we do know is that the the performance of the stock market has become completely divorced from economic reality, and in recent weeks there have been signs of market turmoil that we have not seen in years. Could the end of quantitative easing be the thing that finally pushes the financial markets over the edge?
After all this time, many Americans still don’t understand what quantitative easing actually is. Since the end of 2008, the Federal Reserve has injected approximately 3.5 trillion dollars into the financial system. Of course the Federal Reserve didn’t actually have 3.5 trillion dollars. The Fed created all of this money out of thin air and used it to buy government bonds and mortgage-backed securities.
If that sounds like “cheating” to you, that is because it is cheating. If you or I tried to print money, we would be put in prison. When the Federal Reserve does it, it is called “economic stimulus”.
But the overall economy has not been helped much at all. If you doubt this, just look at these charts.
Instead, what all of this “easy money” has done is fuel the greatest stock market bubble in history.
As you can see from the chart below, every round of quantitative easing has driven the S&P 500 much higher. And when each round of quantitative easing has finally ended, stocks have declined substantially…
And of course the chart above tells only part of the story. Since April 2013, the S&P 500 has gone much higher…
If someone from another planet looked at that chart, they would be tempted to think that the U.S. economy must be expanding like crazy.
But of course that is not happening.
This market binge has been solely fueled by reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve. It is not backed up by economic fundamentals in any way, shape or form.
And now that quantitative easing is ending, many are wondering if the party is over.
For example, just check out what CNN is saying about the matter…
Even in this bull market, all good things must come to an end.
The Federal Reserve is expected to close a chapter in history this week and announce the conclusion of its massive stimulus program. Known as quantitative easing, the program is widely credited with driving investors back into stocks in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
“I think to some extent quantitative easing has provided an assurance to investors that (has) kept them optimistic,” said Bruce McCain, Chief Investment Strategist of Key Private Bank in Cleveland, Ohio. “Now we’re going to have to see whether investors can ride without training wheels.”
Everyone knows that quantitative easing was a massive gift to those that own stocks.
So how will the stock market respond now that the monetary heroin is ending?
We shall see.
Meanwhile, deflationary pressures are already starting to take hold around the rest of the globe. The following is an excerpt from a recent Reuters report…
After months of focus on slack in U.S. labor markets, the Federal Reserve faces a new challenge: the possibility that weak inflation may be so firmly entrenched it upends the return to normal monetary policy.
The soft global inflation backdrop, from sliding oil prices to stagnant wages in advanced economies, has triggered debate over whether the Fed and its peers merely need to wait for a slow-motion business cycle to improve, or face a shift in the underlying nature of inflation after the global recession.
That uncertainty has become the Fed’s chief concern in recent weeks, likely to shape upcoming policy statements and delay even further the moment when interest rates, pinned near zero for nearly six years, will start rising again.
If the Federal Reserve and other global central banks were not printing money like mad, the global economy would have almost certainly entered a deflationary depression by now.
But all the Federal Reserve and other global central banks have done is put off the inevitable and make our long-term problems even worse.
Instead of fixing the fundamental problems that caused the great financial crash of 2008, the central bankers decided to try to paper over our problems instead. They flooded the global financial system with easy money, but today our financial system is shakier than ever.
In fact, we just learned that 10 percent of the biggest banks in Europe have failed their stress tests and must raise more capital…
The European Central Bank says 13 of Europe’s 130 biggest banks have flunked an in-depth review of their finances and must increase their capital buffers against losses by 10 billion euros ($12.5 billion).
The ECB said 25 banks in all were found to need stronger buffers — but that 12 have already made up their shortfall during the months in which the ECB was carrying out its review. The remaining 13 now have two weeks to tell the ECB how they plan to increase their capital buffers.
Most people do not realize how vulnerable our financial system truly is. It is essentially a pyramid of debt and credit that could fall apart at any time.
Right now, the “too big to fail” banks account for 42 percent of all loans and 67 percent of all banking assets in the United States.
Without those banks, we essentially do not have an economy.
But instead of being careful, those banks have taken recklessness to unprecedented heights.
At this moment, five of the “too big to fail” banks each have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.
Most Americans don’t even understand what derivatives are, but when the next great financial crisis strikes we are going to be hearing a whole lot about them.
The big banks have transformed Wall Street into the biggest casino in the history of the planet, and there is no way that this is going to end well.
A great collapse is coming.
It is just a matter of time.
Is Ebola going to cause another of the massive October stock market crashes that Wall Street is famous for? At one point on Wednesday, the Dow was down a staggering 460 points. It ultimately closed down just 173 points, but this was the fifth day in a row that the Dow has declined. And of course Ebola is one of the primary things that is being blamed for this stunning stock market drop. Since September 19th, we have seen the S&P 500 fall about 7 percent and the Nasdaq fall nearly 10 percent. The VIX (the most important measure of volatility on Wall Street) shot up an astounding 22 percent on Wednesday. So many of the ominous signs for the markets that I wrote about on Tuesday are now even worse. If a handful of Ebola cases in the United States can cause this much panic in the financial world, what would a full-blown pandemic look like?
Of course Ebola is not the only reason why stocks are declining. Just look at what is happening over in Europe. The European Stoxx 600 index is already down a whopping 11.4 percent from the high that it hit just 18 days ago. That is officially considered to be “correction” territory.
And Greece experienced a full-blown stock market collapse on Wednesday…
As if the world didn’t have enough to be worried about (ISIS, Ebola, slowing China, Ukraine, slowing Germany, Fed tightening, etc.) now look what’s back: Greece. And in a big way.
The stock market is down over 9% on Wednesday, which is about as big as crashes come.
And the banks are getting absolutely smashed.
In general, markets tend to fall faster than they rise.
When there is a sudden downturn, the price action can be violent. And just like we saw back in 2008, financial stocks are leading the way. Just check out what happened to some of the biggest banks in America before the final bell sounded…
Volume leader Bank of America, down 5%, Citigroup, off 5.5%, and JP Morgan, down 4.6%, were particularly hard hit.
And thanks to Ebola fears, airline stocks plummeted as well…
Airline stocks were roiled by the prospects of curtailed travel due to the spreading Ebola virus. United Continental fell 4% and American Airlines was off 4.3%. Among tech stocks, Intel lost 3.3%. Apple fell 1.7% and Microsoft slipped 2.3%.
An increasing number of voices are concerned that we could be on the verge of a repeat of what happened back in 2008.
For example, Professor Steve Keen, the head of Economics, History & Politics at Kingston University in London, wrote the following in a piece for CNN entitled “Brace yourself for another financial crash“…
My acceleration indicator has been flagging that the stock market was due for a fall since mid-2013.
It’s a tribute to the power of the Fed’s Quantitative Easing that the market continued to defy the gravity of decelerating debt for so long. QE was really a program to inflate asset prices since, as my colleague Michael Hudson puts it, “the Fed’s helicopter money fell on Wall Street, not Main Street”.
But with QE being unwound, the stock market is now back under the control of the not so tender mercies of excessive private debt.
So welcome to the New Crisis — same as the Old Crisis. The roller coaster ride is likely to continue.
Others are even more pessimistic. For example, just check out what Daniel Ameduri of Future Money Trends recently told his readers…
“If it drops below 15,000 points I would suggest people start buying food and ammo, because this depression is about to turn nasty.”
However, keep in mind that not that much has really changed from a month or two ago.
Yes, we now have had three confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, but this could be just the beginning.
At first, the fear of Ebola will be worse than the disease.
But if a worst-case scenario does develop in the United States where hundreds of thousands of people are getting the virus, the fear such a pandemic will create will be off the charts.
In the midst of a full-blown Ebola pandemic, we wouldn’t just be talking about a 10 percent, 20 percent or 30 percent stock market decline.
Rather, we would be talking about the greatest stock market collapse in the history of stock market collapses. In essence, there would not be much of a market at all at that point.
And if Ebola does start spreading wildly in this country, we would have a credit crunch that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.
During times of extraordinary fear, financial institutions do not want to lend money to each other or to consumers. But our economy is entirely based on debt. If credit were to stop flowing, we would essentially not have an economy.
That is why we need to pray that this Ebola crisis stops here. But thanks to the incompetence of Barack Obama and the CDC, there has been a series of very grave errors in trying to contain this disease. This display of incompetence would be absolutely hilarious if we weren’t talking about a disease that could potentially kill millions of us.
Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst. That means stocking up on the food and supplies that you will need to stay isolated for an extended period of time. As we have seen so many times in the past, basic essentials fly off of store shelves during any type of an emergency. During an extended Ebola pandemic, those essentials would be in very short supply and prices on the basics would absolutely skyrocket. Those that have taken the time to get prepared now will be way ahead of the game.
And if there were dozens or hundreds of people in your community that were contagious, you would definitely not want to go to a grocery store or anywhere else where large numbers of people circulate.
The key during any major pandemic is to keep yourself and your family isolated from the virus. This is basic common sense, but it is something that Barack Obama does not seem to understand. As I write this, he still has not done anything to restrict air travel between the United States and West Africa. Hopefully this very foolish decision will not result in scores of dead Americans.
Is the stock market about to crash? Hopefully not, and there definitely have been quite a few “false alarms” over the past few years. But without a doubt we have been living through one of the greatest financial bubbles in U.S. history, and the markets are absolutely primed for a full-blown crash. That doesn’t mean that one will happen now, but we are starting to see some ominous things happen in the financial world that we have not seen happen in a very long time. So many of the same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the bursting of the dotcom bubble and just prior to the 2008 financial crisis are repeating themselves again. Hopefully we still have at least a little bit more time before stocks completely crash, because when this market does implode it is going to be a doozy.
The following are 9 ominous signals coming from the financial markets that we have not seen in years…
#1 By the time the markets closed on Monday, we had witnessed the biggest three day decline for U.S. stocks since 2011.
#2 On Monday, the S&P 500 moved below its 200 day moving average for the first time in about two years. The last time this happened after such an extended streak of success, the S&P 500 ended up declining by a total of 22 percent.
#3 This week the put-call ratio actually moved higher than it was at any point during the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. This is an indication that there is a tremendous amount of fear on Wall Street right now.
#4 Everybody is watching the VIX at the moment. According to the Economic Policy Journal, the VIX has now risen to the highest level that it has been since the heart of the European debt crisis. This is another indicator that there is extraordinary fear on Wall Street…
US stock market volatility has jumped to the highest since the eurozone debt crisis, according to a closely watched index, the the CBOE Vix index of implied US share price volatility.
It jumped to 24.6 late on Monday and is up again this morning. On Thursday, it was as low as 15.
That’s a very strong move, but things have been much worse. At height of the recent financial crisis – the Vix index peaked at 80.1 in November 2008.
Could we get there again? Yeah.
#5 The price of oil is crashing. This also happened in 2008 just before the financial crisis erupted. At this point, the price of oil is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years.
#6 As Chris Kimble has pointed out, the chart for the Dow has formed a “Doji Star topping pattern”. We also saw this happen in 2007. Could this be an indication that we are on the verge of another stock market crash similar to what happened in 2008?
#7 Canadian stocks are actually doing even worse than U.S. stocks. At this point, Canadian stocks have already dropped more than 10 percent from the peak of the market.
#8 European stocks have also had a very rough month. For example, German stocks have already dropped about 10 percent since July, and there are growing concerns about the overall health of the German economy.
#9 The wealthy are hoarding cash and precious metals right now. In fact, one British news report stated that sales of gold bars to wealthy customers are up 243 percent so far this year.
So what comes next?
Some experts are saying that this is the perfect time to buy stocks at value prices. For example, USA Today published a story with the following headline on Tuesday: “Time to ‘buy’ the fear? One Wall Street pro says yes“.
Other experts, however, believe that this could represent a major turning point for the financial markets.
Just consider what Abigail Doolittle recently told CNBC…
Technical strategist Abigail Doolittle is holding tight to her prediction of market doom ahead, asserting that a recent move in Wall Street’s fear gauge is signaling the way.
Doolittle, founder of Peak Theories Research, has made headlines lately suggesting a market correction worse than anyone thinks is ahead. The long-term possibility, she has said, is a 60 percent collapse for the S&P 500.
In early August, Doolittle was warning both of a looming “super spike” in the CBOE Volatility Index as well as a “death cross” in the 10-year Treasury note. The former referenced a sharp move higher in the “VIX,” while the latter used Wall Street lingo for an event that already occurred in which the fixed income benchmark saw its 50-day moving average cross below its 200-day trend line.
Both, she said, served as indicators for trouble ahead.
So what do you think?
Are we about to witness a stock market crash and another major financial crisis?
Or is this just another “false alarm” that will soon fade?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…