The Beginning Of The End
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How Will The Stock Market React To The End Of Quantitative Easing?

Stock Market Crash - Public DomainIt 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

Chart By DayOnBay

And of course the chart above tells only part of the story.  Since April 2013, the S&P 500 has gone much higher…

S&P 500

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.

Most People Don’t Believe It, But We Are Right On Schedule For The Next Financial Crash

Stock Market Crash - Public DomainPeople have such short memories.  Even though we are repeating so many of the same patterns that we witnessed in 2000-2001 and 2007-2008, most people do not think that another financial crash is coming.  In fact, with the stock market setting record high after record high lately, I have been taking quite a bit of criticism for my relentless warnings about the coming financial storm.  Many of the comments go something like this: “Snyder you are a moron!  Nothing you say ever comes true.  The stock market is going to keep on rocking and Obama is going to lead this country back to greatness.  I hope that you choke on all of your doom and gloom.”  Of course these critics never offer any hard evidence that I have been wrong about anything.  They just assume that since the stock market has soared to unprecedented heights that all of us “bears” must have been wrong.

But the truth is that what we are observing right now is classic bubble behavior.  The stock market crashes of 1929, 1987 and 2008 were all preceded by irrational market rallies in the spring or summer.  The financial markets have become completely divorced from economic reality, and such a state of affairs never lasts forever.  It is just a matter of time before a correction comes.

But every time there is a bubble, most people end up getting caught up in all of the euphoria.  And it is happening again.  In fact, CNBC has just reported that bearishness among market newsletter writers is the lowest that it has been since 1987.  But of course we all remember what happened back in 1987…

Professional investors haven’t had this little fear about stocks since Ronald Reagan was president.

It was the same year Michael Jackson told us in a song he was “Bad.” The New York Giants won the Super Bowl.

And oh yeah … by the way … the stock market crashed.

As gauged by the weekly Investors Intelligence report, bearishness among market newsletter writers has fallen to 13.3 percent, a level it has not seen since 1987 as the market continues to set new highs despite a seemingly endless call for a long-overdue correction.

People need to understand that just because something has not happened yet does not mean that it is not going to happen.

In this day and age, we have extremely short attention spans and we do not have the patience to wait for much of anything.  But the financial world is not a game of checkers.  It is a game of chess where things can take an extended period of time to play out.

Those that are mocking those of us that are bearish should consider where we stand financially in comparison to previous crash cycles.  For example, the derivatives bubble is 20 percent larger than it was back in 2008, the “too big to fail banks” are 37 percent larger than they were back in 2008 and global debt levels are 40 percent larger than they were back in 2008.

In other words, many of our long-term economic problems are a lot worse than they were just prior to the last major financial meltdown.

But most people pay such little attention to the fundamentals these days.  All they can see is that little stock market ticker going up and up and up.

Other analysts with much stronger credentials than I are issuing similar ominous warnings about what is ahead for the financial markets.

For example, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller is warning that market valuations are tremendously bloated right now

Shiller, a Yale University professor who is often cited as one of the most influential people in economics and finance in the world, created a metric that compares stock prices with corporate profits. The metric recently climbed above 25. That level has only been surpassed three times since 1881: 1929, 1999 and 2007.

Steep market tumbles followed each instance, including the bursting of the dotcom bubble in the early 2000s.

But it doesn’t take a genius to see this.

Just look at the chart of the NASDAQ that I have posted below.  The “dotcom bubble” in 2000 is really easy to see.  So why can’t more people recognize the bubble that is happening now?…

NASDAQ Chart

In so many ways this bubble is reminiscent of the “dotcom bubble” of 14 years ago.  Consider the following numbers from a recent article by Brett Arends

When you look at medians, or in other words the typical stock, valuations are higher today than they were at the peak in 1999-2000.

For example, the median stock today is 20 times earnings. In January 2000, it was 16 times.

The median stock today trades at 2.5 times “book” or net asset value. At the start of 2000 it was just 2.2 times.

The median stock today trades for 1.8 times annual per-share revenues. In 2000: just 1.4 times.

What we are experiencing is not normal.

And this is especially true considering the fact that our overall economic performance is tepid at best.

A stock market correction is coming.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Some of the most prominent names in the financial world are warning about the coming correction.  Two of them were recently interviewed by CNBC

A jolt to international confidence in central banks will lead to a 30 to 60 percent market decline, David Tice, president of Tice Capital and founder of the Prudent Bear Fund, told CNBC’s “Power Lunch.” When this happens, he said, markets will face a “period of extreme turmoil.”

This crash will be precipitated, he said, by a disillusionment with the Federal Reserve’s “confidence game,” which will then see inflation rise, and the Fed scramble to raise rates. At that point, Tice added, “the Fed starts to lose control.”

Another market watcher also called for an impending fall.

The Fed’s low interest rates could bring a “scary” 50-60 percent market correction, said technical analyst Abigail Doolittle.

“Unfortunately, I think it could come on a crash similar to what happened in 2007,” Doolittle, the founder of Peak Theories Research, said on “Squawk Box” a day after the S&P 500 closed above the 2,000 level for the first time ever. “It’s tough to know what the exact catalyst will be. But that’s the very nature of that kind of selloff. They start slowly and then happen very suddenly.”

And as Zero Hedge has pointed out, billionaires such as Sam Zell, George Soros, Stan Druckenmiller and Carl Icahn all seem to be “quietly preparing” for the next crash.

Yes, the next financial crash has taken longer to come to fruition than many had anticipated.  But as I have discussed so many times before, this is a very good thing.  We should want this period of relative stability to last for as long as possible.  The longer that things remain relatively stable, the longer that all of us have to prepare and to position ourselves for the financial chaos that is coming.

At this point, the fact that we are in the midst of a massive financial bubble has become so obvious that even the Bank for International Settlements is publicly talking about it…

Financial markets have been exuberant over the past year, […] dancing mainly to the tune of central bank decisions. Volatility in equity, fixed income and foreign exchange markets has sagged to historical lows. Obviously, market participants are pricing in hardly any risks.

Many have expected me to “change my tune” about the coming collapse because of how well the stock market has been performing.

Well, that simply is not going to happen.

Our economic fundamentals have continued to deteriorate, and our financial system is in far worse shape than it was just prior to the financial crash of 2008.

The truth is that we are right on schedule for the next great financial crash.

You can choose to ignore the warnings if you would like, but ultimately time will reveal who was right and who was wrong.

14 Reasons Why The U.S. Economy’s Bubble Of False Prosperity May Be About To Burst

Bubbles - Public DomainDid you know that a major event just happened in the financial markets that we have not seen since the financial crisis of 2008?  If you rely on the mainstream media for your news, you probably didn’t even hear about it.  Just prior to the last stock market crash, a massive amount of money was pulled out of junk bonds.  Now it is happening again.  In fact, as you will read about below, the market for high yield bonds just experienced “a 6-sigma event”.  But this is not the only indication that the U.S. economy could be on the verge of very hard times.  Retail sales are extremely disappointing, mortgage applications are at a 14 year low and growing geopolitical storms around the world have investors spooked.  For a long time now, we have been enjoying a period of relative economic stability even though our underlying economic fundamentals continue to get even worse.  Unfortunately, there are now a bunch of signs that this period of relative stability is about to end.  The following are 14 reasons why the U.S. economy’s bubble of false prosperity may be about to burst…

#1 The U.S. junk bond market just experienced “a 6-sigma event” earlier this month.  In other words, it is an event that is only supposed to have a chance of 1 in 500 million of happening.  Billions of dollars are being pulled out of junk bonds right now, and that has some analysts wondering if a financial crash is right around the corner.

#2 The last time that we saw a junk bond rout of this magnitude was back during the financial crash of 2008.  In fact, as the Telegraph recently explained, bonds usually crash before stocks do…

The credit market usually leads the equity market during turning points, as happened when credit markets cracked first in 2008.

Will the same thing happen this time around?

#3 Retail sales have missed expectations for three months in a row and we just had the worst reading since January.

#4 Things have gotten so bad that even Wal-Mart is really struggling.  Same-store sales at Wal-Mart have declined for five quarters in a row and the outlook for the future is not particularly promising.

#5 The four week moving average for mortgage applications just hit a 14 year low.  It is now even lower than it was during the worst moments of the financial crisis of 2008.

#6 The tech industry is supposed to be booming, but mass layoffs in the tech industry are actually 68 percent ahead of last year’s pace.

#7 According to the Federal Reserve, 40 percent of all households in the United States are currently showing signs of financial stress.

#8 The U.S. homeownership rate has fallen to the lowest level since 1995.

#9 According to one survey, 76 percent of Americans do not have enough money saved to cover six months of expenses.

#10 Rumblings of a stock market correction have become so loud that even the mainstream media is reporting on it.  For example, just check out this CNN headline from earlier this month: “Is a correction near? Wall Street on edge“.

#11 The civil war in Iraq is spiraling out of control, and Barack Obama has just announced that he is going to send 130 troops to the country in a “humanitarian” capacity.  Iraq is the 7th largest oil producing nation on the entire planet, and if the flow of oil is disrupted that could have serious consequences.

#12 As a result of the conflict in Ukraine, the United States, Canada and the European Union have slapped sanctions on Russia.  In return, Russia has slapped sanctions on them.  Will this slowdown in global trade significantly harm the U.S. economy?

#13 The three day cease-fire between Hamas and Israel is about to end, and Hamas officials are saying that they are preparing for a “long battle“.  If a resolution is not found soon, we could potentially see a full-blown regional war erupt in the Middle East.

#14 The number of Ebola deaths continues to grow at an exponential rate, and if the virus starts spreading inside the United States it has the potential to pretty much shut down our entire economy.

Meanwhile, things look even more dire in much of the rest of the globe.

For example, the economic slowdown has gotten so bad in some nations over in Europe that they are actually experiencing deflation

Portugal has crashed into deep deflation and Italy’s inflation rate has fallen to zero as the eurozone flirts with recession, automatically pushing these countries further towards a debt compound spiral.

The slide comes amid signs of a deepening slowdown in the eurozone core, with even Germany flirting with possible recession. Germany’s ZEW index of investor confidence plunged from 27.1 to 8.6 in July, the sharpest fall since June 2012, during the European sovereign debt crisis. “The European Central Bank has to act now,” said Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS.

And in Japan, GDP just contracted at a 6.8 percent annual rate during the second quarter…

Japan’s economy suffered its worst contraction since 2011 in the second quarter as consumer spending on big items slumped in the wake of a sales tax rise.

Gross domestic product shrunk by an annualized 6.8% in the three months ended June, Japan’s Cabinet Office said Wednesday. The result was actually better than the 7% contraction expected by economists.

On a quarterly basis, Japan’s GDP dropped by 1.7% as business and housing investment declined. Japan’s economy last suffered a hit of this magnitude after the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.

There is no way that this bubble of false prosperity was going to last forever.  It was never real to begin with.  It was just based on a pyramid of debt and false promises.  In fact, the condition of the global financial system is now far worse than it was just prior to the financial crisis of 2008.

Sadly, most people do not understand these things.  Most people just assume that our leaders have fixed whatever caused the problems last time.  And when the next crisis arrives, they will be totally blindsided by it.

Is “Dr. Copper” Foreshadowing A Stock Market Crash Just Like It Did In 2008?

Stock Market Decline - Photo by NodulationIs the price of copper trying to tell us something?  Traditionally, “Dr. Copper” has been a very accurate indicator of where the global economy is heading next.  For example, back in 2008 the price of copper dropped from nearly $4.00 to under $1.50 in just a matter of months.  And now it appears that another big decline in the price of copper is starting to happen.  So far this year, the price of copper has dropped from a high of $3.40 back in January to a price of $2.95 as I write this article, and many analysts are warning that this is just the beginning.  By itself, this should be quite alarming to investors, but as you will see below there are a whole host of other signs that a stock market crash may be rapidly approaching.

But before we get to those other signs, let us discuss copper a bit more first.  I cannot remember a time since 2008 when there has been such an overwhelming negative consensus about where the price of copper is heading.  The following is from a CNBC article that was posted this week…

Cascading copper prices have multiple root causes that lead to one conclusion: The anticipated global economic recovery may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Consequently, analysts are in virtual unison that the extended-term trajectory is lower for the metal often used as a growth barometer. Copper futures are off more than 12 percent in 2014 and 7 percent over just the past three days, though they rose less than 1 percent in Wednesday trading.

A slowdown in the global economy, forced selling by Chinese banks and technical factors have converged in multiple calls for more weakness in a commodity known by traders and economists as “Dr. Copper” for its ability to accurately make economic prognoses.

Of course there are some out there that are trying to claim that “this time is different” and that the price of copper is no longer a useful indicator for the global economy as a whole.

We shall see.

Meanwhile, there are lots of other signs that the financial markets are repeating patterns that we have seen in the past.  For instance, the level of margin debt on Wall Street just soared to another brand new record high

The amount of money investors borrowed from Wall Street brokers to buy stocks rose for a seventh straight month in January to a record $451.3 billion, a potential warning sign that in the past has coincided with irrational exuberance and stock market tops.

We saw margin debt spike dramatically like this just prior to the crash of the dotcom bubble in 2000 and just before the great financial crisis of 2008.  Just check out the chart in this article.

Shouldn’t we be alarmed that it is happening again?

If you listen carefully, there are many prominent voices in the financial world that are trying to warn us about this.  Here is one example

“One characteristic of getting closer to a market top is a major expansion in margin debt,” says Gary Kaltbaum, president of Kaltbaum Capital Management. “Expanding market debt fuels the bull market and is an investors’ best friend when stocks are rising. The problem is when the market turns (lower), it is the market’s worst enemy.

And of course margin debt is far from the only sign that indicates that we are in a massive stock market bubble that is about to crash.  The following is a list of 10 signs that comes from a recent article by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management

I was recently discussing the market, current sentiment and other investing related issues with a money manager friend of mine in California. (Normally, I would include a credit for the following work but since he works for a major firm he asked me not to identify him directly.)  However, in one of our many email exchanges he sent me the following note detailing the 10 typical warning signs of stock market exuberance.

(1) Expected strong OR acceleration of GDP and EPS  (40% of 2013’s EPS increase occurred in the 4th quarter)

(2) Large number of IPOs of unprofitable AND speculative companies

(3) Parabolic move up in stock prices of hot industries (not just individual stocks)

(4) High valuations (many metrics are at near-record highs, a few at record highs)

(5) Fantastic high valuation of some large mergers (e.g., Facebook & WhatsApp)

(6) High NYSE margin debt

Margin debt/gdp (March 2000: 2.7%, July 2007: 2.6%, Jan 2014: 2.6%)

Margin debt/market cap (March 2000: 1.8%, July 2007: 2.3%, Jan 2014: 2.0%)

(7) Household direct holdings of equities as % of total financial assets at 24%, second-highest level (data back to 1953, highest was 1998-2000)

(8) Highly bullish sentiment (down slightly from year-end peaks; still high or near record high, depending on the source)

(9) Unusually high ratio of selling to buying by corporate senior managers (the buy/sell ratio of senior corporate officers is now at the record post-1990 lows seen in Summer 2007 and Spring 2011)

(10) Stock prices rise following speculative press releases (e.g., Tesla will dominate battery business after they get partner who knows how to build batteries and they build a big factory.  This also assumes that NO ONE else will enter into that business such as GM, Ford or GE.)

All are true today, and it is the third time in the last 15 years these factors have occurred simultaneously which is the most remarkable aspect of the situation.

And for even more technical indicators such as these, please see Charles Hugh Smith’s excellent article entitled “Why 2014 Is Beginning to Look A Lot Like 2008“.

So do all of these numbers and charts actually prove that something is about to happen?

Not necessarily.

But if we do not learn from the past then we are doomed to repeat it.

At this point, even representatives from the big Wall Street banks are warning about the “euphoria” on Wall Street…

The stock market entered “euphoria mode” late last year and has remained there, except for a week in February, as “speculative froth” bubbles around the market’s hottest sectors, Citi’s chief equity strategist told CNBC on Tuesday.

And even market cheerleader Jim Cramer is warning that the stock market is now exhibiting “top behavior“…

The parabolic moves of stocks such as Plug Power and FuelCell Energy have the stock market exhibiting “top behavior,” CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday.

Cramer said he has tracked the fuel cells stocks since his days as a hedge fund manager. Runups in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae also had him worried.

None of what you just read above guarantees that the stock market will crash this week, this month or even this year.

And nobody knows the exact date when the next stock market crash will happen.

But one thing is for certain – this massive stock market bubble will burst at some point, and when it does our economy is far less equipped to handle it than it was the last time.

Based on my research, I am entirely convinced that the coming economic crisis is going to be substantially worse than the last one, and that is very bad news for the United States.

So what do you think?

Do you agree or do you think that I am nuts?

Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…

Stock Prices Have Fallen For Six Weeks In A Row

The Stock Market In Japan Is COLLAPSING

Stock Market Collapse In JapanDid you see what just happened in Japan?  The stock market of the 3rd largest economy on the planet is imploding.  On Tuesday, the Nikkei fell by more than 610 points.  If that sounds like a lot, that is because it is.  The largest one day stock market decline in U.S. history is only 777 points.  So far, the Dow is only down about 1000 points during this “correction”, but the Nikkei is down more than 2,300 points.  The Nikkei has dropped more than 14 percent since the peak of the market, and many analysts believe that this is only just the beginning.  Those that have been waiting for a full-blown stock market collapse may be about to get their wish.  Japan is absolutely drowning in debt, their central bank is printing money like crazy and the Japanese population is aging rapidly.  As far as economic fundamentals go, there is very little good news as far as Japan is concerned.  So will an Asian financial collapse precede the next great financial crisis in the United States?  That is what some have been predicting, and it starting to look increasingly likely.

What happened to the Nikkei early on Tuesday was absolutely breathtaking.  The following is how Bloomberg described the carnage…

At the end of January 2013, Japanese stocks trailed only Portugal for the biggest rally among developed markets. Now the Nikkei 225 Stock Average is leading declines, slumping 8.5 percent last month and today capping a 14 percent drop from its Dec. 30 peak.

Losses snowballed in Tokyo during a global retreat that has erased $2.9 trillion from equity values worldwide this year amid signs of slower growth in China and stimulus cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

As Bloomberg noted, much of the blame for the financial problems that we are seeing all over the planet right now is being placed on the Federal Reserve.

The Fed created this bubble by pumping trillions of fresh dollars into the global financial system, and now they are bursting this bubble by starting to cut off the flow of easy money.

This is something that I warned would happen when the Fed decided to taper, and now RBS is warning of a “market bloodbath” unless the Federal Reserve immediately stops tapering.

Most Americans simply do not realize that our financial markets no longer resemble a free market system.  Instead, they are highly manipulated and distorted by the central banks, and the trillions of dollars of “hot money” that the Fed has poured into the global financial system has infected virtually every financial market on Earth

On Wall Street they call it “hot money”—that seemingly endless flow of cash that goes to the most profitable country du jour—but in the real economy it’s gone cold.

That hot money has come mostly in the form of a low-yielding U.S. dollar, which investors have borrowed en masse to fund investments in other higher-yielding currencies across the globe. The so-called carry trade has helped fuel an investment bonanza across the world that has boosted risk assets thanks primarily to the U.S. Federal Reserve‘s easy-money policy.

But with the Fed tiptoeing away from what initially was an $85 billion-a-month infusion of liquidity, investors are beginning to prepare themselves for a world of rising rates in which the endless cash flow to emerging market economies begins to ebb, then cease.

We never fixed any of the fundamental problems that caused the last financial crisis.  Instead, the Fed seemed to think that the solution to any problem was just to create more money.

It was an incredibly stupid approach, and now our fundamental problems are worse than ever as Marc Faber recently noted

“Total credit as a percent of the global economy is now 30 percent higher than it was at the start of the economic crisis in 2007, we have had rapidly escalating household debt especially in emerging economies and resource economies like Canada and Australia and we have come to a point where household debt has become burdensome on the system—that is, where an economic slowdown follows.”

So what comes next?

Well, unless the Fed or other central banks intervene, we are probably going to have even more carnage.

At least that is what Dennis Gartman, the editor and publisher of “The Gartman Letter”, told CNBC on Tuesday

“I just think you’re going to have a very severe, very substantive and really quite ugly correction that will probably make a lot of people wail and gnash their teeth before it’s done.”

Other analysts share his pessimism.  According to Doug Short, the vice president of research at Advisor Perspectives, the U.S. stock market “still looks 67% overvalued“.

Most sobering of all is what Richard Russell is saying.  In his 60 years of writing about financial issues, he has never been “so filled with foreboding regarding what lies ahead”

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried about the way things are going.  Frankly, I’m truly scared for myself, my family and the nation.  I have the sinking feeling that the stock market is on the edge of a crash.  If that happens, investor sentiment will turn quickly bearish.  And the bear market will start feeding on itself.  Ironically, the recent action occurred in the face of almost insane bullishness on the part of the crowd and on the part of investors.

Obviously smart heads and institutional money managers know that the US is semi dead in the water.  And all the talk about an improving economy is just wishes and hopes.  Bernanke’s dream of a flourishing new economy, improving without the need of the Fed’s help, is an idle dream.

I’ve been writing about the stock market for over 60 years and I can’t remember a time when I was so filled with foreboding regarding what lies ahead.  The primary trend of the market, like the tide of the ocean, is irresistible, and waits for no man.  What scares me the most in this current situation is that I see no clear island of safety.

You can read the rest of his very disturbing remarks right here.

U.S. stocks may not totally crash this week, this month or even this year, but without a doubt a day of reckoning is coming.  As a society, our total consumer, business and government debt is now equivalent to approximately 345 percent of GDP.

The only way that the game can continue is to keep pumping up the debt bubble even more.

Once the debt bubble stops expanding, it will start collapsing very rapidly.

Those that foolishly still have lots of money in the stock market better hope that the Federal Reserve decides to intervene in a major way very soon.

Because if they don’t, there is a very good chance that we could indeed have a “market bloodbath” on our hands.

The Dow Has Already Fallen More Than 1000 Points From The Peak Of The Market

Stock Market Decline - Photo by NodulationThat didn’t take long.  On Monday, the Dow was down another 326 points.  Overall, the Dow has now fallen more than 1000 points from the peak of the market (16,588.25) back in late December.  This is the first time that we have seen the Dow drop below its 200-day moving average in more than a year, and there are many that believe that this is just the beginning of a major stock market decline.  Meanwhile, things are even worse in other parts of the world.  For example, the Nikkei is now down about 1700 points from its 2013 high.  This is causing havoc all over Asia, and the sharp movement that we have been seeing in the USD/JPY is creating a tremendous amount of anxiety among Forex traders.  For those that are not interested in the technical details, what all of this means is that global financial markets are starting to become extremely unstable.

Unfortunately, there does not appear to be much hope on the horizon for investors.  In fact, troubling news just continues to pour in from all over the planet.  Just consider the following…

-Major currencies all over South America continue to collapse.

-Massive central bank intervention has done little to slow down the currency collapse in Turkey.

-Investors pulled more than 6 billion dollars out of emerging market equity funds last week alone.

-The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has risen above 20 for the first time in four months.

-Last month, new manufacturing orders in the United States declined at the fastest pace that we have seen since December 1980.

-Real disposable income in the United States has just experienced the largest year over year drop that we have seen since 1974.

-In January, vehicle sales for Ford were down 7.5 percent and vehicle sales for GM were down 12 percent.  Both companies are blaming bad weather.

-A major newspaper in the UK is warning that “growing problems in the Chinese banking system could spill over into a wider financial crisis“.

-U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is warning that the federal government could hit the debt ceiling by the end of this month if Congress does not act.

-It is being reported that Dell Computer plans to lay off more than 15,000 workers.

-The IMF recently said that the the probability that the global economy will fall into a deflation trap “may now be as high as 20%“.

-The Baltic Dry Index is now down 50 percent from its December highs.

If our economic troubles continue to mount, could we be facing a global “financial avalanche” fairly quickly?

That is what some very prominent analysts believe.

Below, I have posted quotes from five men that are greatly respected in the financial world.  What they have to say is quite chilling…

#1 Doug Casey: “Now is a very good time to start thinking financially because I’m afraid that this year, in 2014, we’re going to go back into the financial hurricane. We’ve been in the eye of the storm since 2009, but now we’re going to go back into the trailing edge of the storm, and it’s going to be much longer lasting and much worse and much different than what we had in 2008 and 2009.”

#2 Bill Fleckenstein: “The [price-to-earnings ratio] is 16, 17 times earnings,” Fleckenstein said on Tuesday’s episode of “Futures Now.” “Why would you pay 16 times for an S&P company? I don’t care about where rates are, because rates are artificially suppressed. Why isn’t that worth 11 or 12 times? Just by that analysis, you’d be down by a quarter or 30 percent. So there’s a huge amount of downside.”

#3 Egon von Greyerz of Matterhorn Asset Management: “Nothing goes (down) in a straight line, but the emerging market problems will accelerate and it will spread to the very overbought and the very overvalued stock markets and economies in the West.

So stock markets are now starting a secular bear trend which will last for many years, and we could see falls of massive proportions. At the end of this, the wealth that has been created in the last few decades will be destroyed.”

#4 Peter Schiff: “The crisis is imminent,” Schiff said.  “I don’t think Obama is going to finish his second term without the bottom dropping out. And stock market investors are oblivious to the problems.”

“We’re broke, Schiff added.  “We owe trillions. Look at our budget deficit; look at the debt to GDP ratio, the unfunded liabilities. If we were in the Eurozone, they would kick us out.”

#5 Gerald Celente: “This selloff in the emerging markets, with their currencies going down and their interest rates going up, it’s going to be disastrous and there are going to be riots everywhere…

So as the decline in their economies accelerates, you are going to see the civil unrest intensify.”

—–

Those that do not believe that we could ever see “civil unrest” on the streets of America should take note of what just happened in Seattle.

After the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, fans celebrated by “lighting fires, damaging historic buildings and ripping down street signs“.

If that is how average Americans will behave when something good happens, how will they act when the economy totally collapses and nobody can find work for an extended period of time?

We are rapidly approaching another great financial crisis.  Unfortunately, we didn’t learn any of the lessons that we should have learned last time.  It is being projected that the debt of the federal government will more than double during the Obama years, the “too big to fail banks” have collectively gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years, and the big banks have become more financially reckless than ever before.

When the next great financial crisis arrives (and without a doubt it is inevitable), millions more Americans will lose their jobs and millions more Americans will lose their homes.

Now is not the time to be buying lots of expensive new toys, going on expensive vacations or piling up lots of debt.

Now is the time to build up an emergency fund and to do whatever you can to get prepared for the great storm that is coming.

As you can see from the financial headlines, time is rapidly running out.

NASDAQ MarketSite TV studio - Photo by Luis Villa del Campo

They Denied That We Were In A Depression In 1933 And They Are Doing It Again In 2013

Great Depression HeadlinesThe more things change, the more things stay the same.  The Great Depression actually started in 1929, but as you will see below, as late as 1933 the Associated Press was still pumping out lots of news stories with optimistic economic headlines and many Americans still did not believe that we were actually in a depression.  And of course we are experiencing a very similar thing today.  The United States is in the worst financial shape that it has ever been in, our economic infrastructure is being systematically gutted, and poverty is absolutely exploding.  Since the stock market crash of 2008, the Federal Reserve has been wildly printing money and the federal government has been running trillion dollar deficits in a desperate attempt to stabilize things, but in the process they have made our long-term economic problems far worse.  It would be hard to overstate how dire our situation is, and yet the mainstream media continues to assure us that everything is just fine and that happy days are here again.

As I have already noted, the mainstream media was doing the exact same thing back during the days of the Great Depression.  The following are actual Associated Press headlines from 1933…

Decisive Break from Panic Shown in Business Figures

Markets Spurt To New Highs

New Farm Bill to End Depression

And the following is a headline discovery from 1933 that was made by Linda Goin

I was browsing through old newspapers the other day and discovered a page filled with news about the stock market and banks in the Daily Capital News from Jefferson City, Missouri. The date was March 15, 1933, well into the Great Depression, and the news was cautiously celebratory as a headline read, “Era of Fear is Declared at End Now.

The Depression-era classic song entitled “Happy Days Are Here Again” was played at the Democratic National Convention in 1932 and it went on to be featured by the Democrats for many years after that.  The following is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article about that song…

Today, the song is probably best remembered as the campaign song for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s successful 1932 presidential campaign. According to TIME magazine, it gained prominence after a spontaneous decision by Roosevelt’s advisers to play it at the 1932 Democratic National Convention, and went on to become the Democratic Party‘s “unofficial theme song for years to come”.

There is only one huge problem.

The election of Roosevelt didn’t end the depression.  Years of bitter economic suffering and dust bowl conditions were still ahead.  The Great Depression continued all the way up to the start of World War II, and the war years were certainly no picnic for average folks either.

But at least cheery headlines can make people feel better, right?

That is what some believe.

Others believe that giving people false hope is very cruel and that it sets up people for failure.

The following are some actual headlines that were found on mainstream news sites today…

CNBC: “Recession risk gone in all US states but 1: Moody’s Analytics

CNN: “Foreclosure crisis is drawing to a close

NBC News: “Stocks close near highs; S&P logs 7-day rally

Wow, those headlines sound great!

So are happy days here again?

Not quite.

In fact, things continue to get even worse in a whole host of ways.  Just consider the following statistics…

-According to a brand new Gallup poll that was just released, 20.0% of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year.  That is just under the record of 20.4% that was set back in November 2008.

-Gallup also found that the ability of American families to meet some of their other most basic needs is near an all-time low…

The Basic Access Index, which includes 13 questions about topics including Americans’ ability to afford food, housing, and healthcare, was 81.4 in August, on par with the all-time low of 81.2 recorded in October 2011.

-More than 90 million working age Americans are considered to be “not in the labor force”.

-The labor force participation rate is the lowest that it has been in 35 years.

-516,000 Americans “left the labor force” last month.  That was a brand new all-time record high.

-The number of private sector jobs dropped by 278,000 last month.

-77 percent of the jobs that have been “created” so far this year have been part-time jobs.

-Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

-Right now, 40 percent of all U.S. workers are making less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.

-The U.S. trade deficit with China has hit a brand new record high.

-The U.S. trade deficit with the EU has hit a brand new record high.

-The number of U.S. households on food stamps is at a brand new record high.

-One of the largest furniture manufacturers in America was just forced into bankruptcy

The maker of furniture brands such as Thomasville, Broyhill, Lane and Drexel Heritage said Monday that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

-Total mortgage activity has dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since October 2008.

Yes, those in the top 1 percent are doing very well for the moment thanks to the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing.

But for most Americans, the last several years have been a continual struggle.  The following is a list that comes from one of my previous articles entitled “44 Facts About The Death Of The Middle Class That Every American Should Know“…

1. According to one recent survey, “four out of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives”.

2. The growth rate of real disposable personal income is the lowest that it has been in decades.

3. Median household income (adjusted for inflation) has fallen by 7.8 percent since the year 2000.

4. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

5. The home ownership rate in the United States is the lowest that it has been in 18 years.

6. It is more expensive to rent a home in America than ever before.  In fact, median asking rent for vacant rental units just hit a brand new all-time record high.

7. According to one recent survey, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

8. The U.S. economy actually lost 240,000 full-time jobs last month, and the number of full-time workers in the United States is now about 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.

9. The largest employer in the United States right now is Wal-Mart.  The second largest employer in the United States right now is a temp agency (Kelly Services).

10. One out of every ten jobs in the United States is now filled through a temp agency.

11. According to the Social Security Administration, 40 percent of all workers in the United States make less than $20,000 a year.

12. The ratio of wages and salaries to GDP is near an all-time record low.

13. The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

14. Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

15. At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

16. According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 declined by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

17. In the year 2000, about 17 million Americans were employed in manufacturing.  Today, only about 12 million Americans are employed in manufacturing.

18. The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

19. The average number of hours worked per employed person per year has fallen by about 100 since the year 2000.

20. Back in the year 2000, more than 64 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.7 percent of all working age Americans have a job.

21. When you total up all working age Americans that do not have a job, it comes to more than 100 million.

22. The average duration of unemployment in the United States is nearly three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.

23. The percentage of Americans that are self-employed has steadily declined over the past decade and is now at an all-time low.

24. Right now there are 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

25. In 1989, the debt to income ratio of the average American family was about 58 percent.  Today it is up to 154 percent.

26. Total U.S. household debt grew from just 1.4 trillion dollars in 1980 to a whopping 13.7 trillion dollars in 2007.  This played a huge role in the financial crisis of 2008, and the problem still has not been solved.

27. The total amount of student loan debt in the United States recently surpassed the one trillion dollar mark.

28. Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.

29. Back in the year 2000, the mortgage delinquency rate was about 2 percent.  Today, it is nearly 10 percent.

30. Consumer debt in the United States has risen by a whopping 1700% since 1971, and 46% of all Americans carry a credit card balance from month to month.

31. In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

32. One study discovered that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt, and according to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States.

33. Each year, the average American must work 107 days just to make enough money to pay local, state and federal taxes.

34. Today, approximately 46.2 million Americans are living in poverty.

35. The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by more than 15 million since the year 2000.

36. Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

37. At this point, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.

38. In the year 2000, there were only 17 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps.

39. Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

40. Right now, the number of Americans on food stamps exceeds the entire population of the nation of Spain.

41. According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

42. At this point, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  This is the first time that has ever happened in our history.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

43. According to U.S. Census data, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either considered to be “poor” or “low income”.

44. In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent.  Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.

But there is no way that we are actually in another economic depression, right?

If that was the case, the mainstream media certainly would have told us, right?

According to John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, if the U.S. government actually used honest numbers, they would show that the U.S. economy has actually been contracting continually since 2005.

In other words, if the numbers were not being manipulated they would show that we have had negative GDP growth every single year since 2005.

I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like a depression to me.

What do you think?

Great Depression Headlines

This Is The Biggest Cluster Of Hindenburg Omens Since The Last Stock Market Crash

Hindenburg OmenAre we heading for a major stock market decline?  Warnings about a crash of the financial markets are quite common these days, and usually they don’t materialize.  But this time may be different.  A number of top analysts are pointing out the fact that the biggest cluster of “Hindenburg Omens” has appeared since the last stock market crash.  And those that have studied this insist that the more “Hindenburg Omens” there are in a cluster, the stronger the signal is.  Meanwhile, another very disturbing sign is the fact that the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is starting to soar again.  On Tuesday it shot up from 2.62% to 2.727%.  As I have written about previously, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is the most important number in the U.S. economy right now.  If that number continues to rise, it is going to be very, very bad news for the financial system.

But before I discuss rising interest rates any further, I want to talk about this unusual cluster of Hindenburg Omens that we have just witnessed.  In a previous article, I shared a list of the criteria that are commonly used to determine whether a Hindenburg Omen has appeared or not…

1. The daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day.

2. The smaller of these numbers is greater than or equal to 69 (68.772 is 2.2% of 3126). This is not a rule but more like a checksum. This condition is a function of the 2.2% of the total issues.

3. That the NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.

4. That the McClellan Oscillator ( a market breadth indicator used to evaluate the rate of money entering or leaving the market and interpretively indicate overbought or oversold conditions of the market)is negative on that same day.

5. That new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week Lows (however it is fine for new 52 Week Lows to be more than double new 52 Week Highs).

When the Hindenburg Omen makes an appearance, it is supposedly a signal that the U.S. stock market will likely experience a significant decline within the next 40 days.

But of course this has not always happened when a Hindenburg Omen has appeared.  However, what we are seeing right now is a highly concentrated cluster of Hindenburg Omens.  According to SentimenTrader’s Jason Goepfert, the last time such a cluster appeared was before the last stock market crash…

Sometimes a topic in the market takes hold and it’s hard to shake it off. One of those is the technical “market crash” signal called the Hindenburg Omen.

It has its boosters and its detractors, and we’re not going to get caught up in debating its merits. We’ve discussed it for 12 years, always with the same arguments.

On June 10th, we outlined the market’s historical performance after suffering at least 5 signals from the Hindenburg Omen within a two-week period. Stocks were consistently weak afterward, and proved to be so again, at least for a while.

With the latest market rally, the Omens are flaring up again.There have been 5 Omens triggered out of the past 8 trading sessions (your data may vary—we’re using the same sources we’ve always used for historical data). That’s actually the closest-grouped cluster since early November 2007.

It’s extremely rare to see as many Omens occurring together as we’ve seen over the past 50 days. The last time was prior to the bear market in 2007.

The time before that was prior to the bear market in 2000.

Will the pattern hold up this time?

We’ll see.

But without a doubt we have been witnessing some very unusual activity in the markets over the past couple of weeks.  In fact, according to Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge, we have now seen a Hindenburg Omen occur five times in the last seven trading days…

For the 5th time in the last 7 days, equity market internals have triggered an anxiety-implying Hindenburg Omen. Based on our data, this is the most concentrated cluster of new highs, new lows, advancing/declining based confusion on record. The last few occurrences have not ended well (though obviously not disastrously) but as the creator of the ‘Omen’ notes, the more occurrences that cluster, the stronger the signal.

But the Hindenburg Omen is not the only sign that a stock market crash may be coming.  Marc Faber, the publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, says that the markets are repeating the exact same pattern that we saw just before the stock market crash of 1987…

“In 1987, we had a very powerful rally, but also earnings were no longer rising substantially, and the market became very overbought,” Faber said on Thursday’s “Futures Now.” “The final rally into Aug. 25 occurred with a diminishing number of stocks hitting 52-week highs. In other words, the new-high list was contracting, and we have several breaks in different stocks.”

Faber says that’s exactly where we find ourselves this August.

Faber is projecting a stock market decline of “20 percent, maybe more” in the month ahead.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned at the top of the article, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries shot up to 2.727% today.  The Federal Reserve is starting to lose control of long-term interest rates, and the only way that Fed officials are going to be able to get control back is to substantially raise the level of quantitative easing that they are doing, but of course that would create a whole bunch of other problems.

For now, the Fed keeps dropping hints that “tapering” is coming.  But if the Fed does “taper”, there might not be any support for bond prices from the private sector.  BAML credit strategist Hans Mikkelsen recently detailed why this is the case…

Since the financial crisis, Treasuries have been supported by numerous types of investors, including mutual funds/ETFs, banks, [emerging market] central banks and the foreign official sector (in addition to the Fed of course). However, these four sources of Treasury demand are unlikely to support the market in the short term going forward.

First, with continued outflows from non-short term high grade bond funds, money managers are unlikely to provide support for Treasuries any time soon.

Second, with increasing loan demand reducing the need for banks to support profitability by buying Treasuries, as well as significant mark-to-market losses in [available-for-sale] portfolios that in the future will count against capital, banks are unlikely to add long-duration assets in a rising interest rate environment.

Third, in light of continued depreciation of [emerging market] currencies, it appears unlikely that [emerging market] countries are experiencing inflows that need to be reinvested in Treasuries.

Finally, custody holdings of Treasuries continue to decline, suggesting foreign official sales of Treasuries.

If the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries continues to rise sharply over the coming months, that could potentially cause the 441 trillion dollar interest rate derivatives bubble to implode.  As John Embry recently told King World News, that would be “disastrous” for the global financial system…

Interest rates have already risen dramatically, so any tapering will simply throw gasoline on that fire and torch the banking system which is up to its eyeballs in interest rate derivatives. This would be disastrous for the entire financial system.

Someone recently suggested that there was already a $4 trillion hole in the European banking system. If we look at the Japanese situation, that is totally unstable as well. So the destruction of paper money will only accelerate, and this is what you are seeing reflected today in the prices of gold and silver.

We also have this shortage of physical gold, which is reflected by the fact that the gold lease rates have been negative for 25 consecutive days. We then had the revelation that the Bank of England had dumped a staggering 1,300 tons of physical gold into the market that they were supposed to be safely storing for other countries. The Bank of England wouldn’t even comment, they just pleaded the 5th.

Hopefully these Hindenburg Omens will pass and nothing will happen.

Hopefully the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries will not continue to rise.

But you know what they say – hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

I hope that you are getting prepared for the worst while you still can.

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