Did you know that almost 70 percent of the U.S. population is essentially living paycheck to paycheck? As you will see below, a brand new survey has found that 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Of course one of the primary reasons for this is that most of us are absolutely drowning in debt. In fact, the total amount of household debt in the United States now exceeds 12 trillion dollars. So many Americans are so busy just trying to pay off their existing debts that they can’t even think about saving anything for the future. If economic conditions remain relatively stable, the fact that so many of us are living on the edge probably won’t kill us. But the moment the economy plunges into another 2008-style crisis (or worse), we could be facing a situation where two-thirds of the country is in imminent danger of running out of cash.
If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you live under the constant threat of your life being totally turned upside down if that paycheck ever goes away. During the last crisis, millions of Americans lost their jobs very rapidly, and because so many of them were living paycheck to paycheck all of a sudden large numbers of people couldn’t pay their mortgages. As a result, multitudes of American families went through the extremely painful process of foreclosure.
Unfortunately, it appears that we have not learned anything from the last go around. According to the brand new survey that I mentioned above, 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings…
Last year, GoBankingRates surveyed more than 5,000 Americans only to uncover that 62% of them had less than $1,000 in savings. Last month GoBankingRates again posed the question to Americans of how much they had in their savings account, only this time it asked 7,052 people. The result? Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) had less than $1,000 in their savings account.
Breaking the survey data down a bit further, we find that 34% of Americans don’t have a dime in their savings account, while another 35% have less than $1,000. Of the remaining survey-takers, 11% have between $1,000 and $4,999, 4% have between $5,000 and $9,999, and 15% have more than $10,000.
Perhaps the most alarming fact from this survey is that 62 percent of all Americans had less than $1,000 in savings last year. So that means that this number has gotten 7 percent worse over the last 12 months.
How did that happen? I thought the mainstream media was telling us that the economy was getting better…
Look, if you don’t have an emergency fund you are in danger of losing everything. This is a point that I have been making over and over again for years, and in an article about this new survey USA Today made this point very strongly as well…
This data is particularly worrisome since the recommendation is for Americans to have six months in expenses saved in case of an emergency, such as a large medical expense, car repair bill, or losing your job. Without this emergency fund to fall back on, millions of Americans could be risking financial disaster.
As the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, people are constantly asking me what they should do to get prepared for what is coming.
The number one thing that I always suggest is to build up an emergency fund.
In a chaotic situation it is always hard to anticipate accurately what is going to happen, but without a doubt we are all going to need to continue to pay our bills and to buy things for our families during the next crisis.
Yes, someday the U.S. dollar will become rather worthless, but until that happens you are going to need to continue to put a roof over the heads of your family and to put food on the table.
And you are going to need money to do those things.
Some time ago, the Federal Reserve also found that a large percentage of Americans are living on the edge of financial disaster. They discovered that 47 percent of all Americans could not even come up with $400 to pay for an unexpected emergency room visit without borrowing the money or selling something that they own.
If you can’t even come up with $400 you are really hurting, but that is the status of about half the country these days.
We are continually being told that the economy is strong, but that is simply not the truth.
In fact, it turns out that the period from 2005 to 2015 was the worst period for per capita real GDP growth in modern American history. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
Growth was unusually strong in the 1960s and early 1970s. In every year from 1966 through 1973, per-capita income was up between 30 percent and 40 percent from a decade earlier. Thus, it’s not surprising that many Americans recall this as a great period for the nation’s economy.
In every year from 1984 to 2007 — a period that economists call the Great Moderation, because of the way both growth and interest rates stabilized — per-person income was up between 20 percent and 30 percent from a decade earlier. That’s ample reason for Americans to view this as a good period for the economy.
Cumulative per-person growth from 2005 to 2015 was lower than in any prior decade in the sample. That certainly helps explain why many Americans are unhappy with the nation’s recent economic performance.
Why doesn’t Donald Trump ever bring up that amazing fact? I would think that he could get a lot of mileage out of that number.
At this point, nobody can deny that the middle class is shrinking. 61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households in 1971, but now the middle class makes up a minority of the population for the very first time in our history.
Back in 1970, the middle class brought home approximately 62 percent of all income, but today that figure has plummeted to just 43 percent.
Those that are still doing well often dismiss those that are struggling by barking out such phrases as “get a job”, but the truth is that getting a good job is not so easy these days.
The most recent statistics show that there are 7.9 million Americans that are considered to be officially unemployed. When you add that number to the 94.1 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”, you get a grand total of 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
And just because you do have a job does not mean that everything is okay. As I have discussed previously, 51 percent of all U.S. workers make less than $30,000 a year according to the Social Security Administration.
Everywhere you look things seem to be getting worse and not better. Not too long ago I documented the explosion of tent cities all over the country as poverty continues to rise, and I discussed how one study found that some young women in our impoverished inner cities are so desperate that they are actually trading sex for food.
Sadly, it isn’t just a few hard cases that we are talking about. Even in areas of the country that are supposed to be “doing well” we are seeing record-setting poverty numbers. For example, it was recently reported that the number of New Yorkers sleeping in homeless shelters just set a brand new all-time high, and the number of New York families permanently living in homeless shelters is up 60 percent over the past five years.
If things are this bad during an “economic recovery”, what are they going to look like once the economy really starts imploding?
And considering the fact that almost 70 percent of the population has virtually no savings, could our nation handle an extended economic downturn that may be even worse than what we experienced in 2008 and 2009?
As a nation we truly are living on the edge, and it isn’t going to take very much at all to push us into oblivion.
A shocking new survey has found that support for capitalism is dying in America. In fact, more than half of all adults in the United States under the age of 30 say that they do not support capitalism at this point. You might be tempted to dismiss them as “foolish young people”, but the truth is that they are the future of America. As older generations die off, they will eventually become the leaders of this country. And of course our nation has not resembled anything close to a capitalist society for quite some time now. In a recent article, I listed 97 different taxes that Americans pay each year, and some Americans actually end up returning more than half of what they earn to the government by the time it is all said and done. So at best it could be said that we are running some sort of hybrid system that isn’t as far down the road toward full-blown socialism as most European nations are. But without a doubt we are moving in that direction, and our young people are going to be cheering every step of the way.
When I first heard of this new survey from Harvard University, I was absolutely stunned. The following is from what the Washington Post had to say about it…
The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.
It isn’t clear that the young people in the poll would prefer some alternative system, though. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.
Could it be possible that young adults were confused by the wording of the survey?
The university’s results echo recent findings from Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who surveyed 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 26 and found that 58% of respondents believed socialism to be the “more compassionate” political system when compared to capitalism. And when participants were asked to sum up the root of America’s problem in one word, 29% said “greed.”
This trend among our young people is very real, and you can see it in their support of Bernie Sanders. For millions upon millions of young adults in America today, Hillary Clinton is not nearly liberal enough for them. So they have flocked to Sanders, and if they had been the only ones voting in this election season, he would have won the Democratic nomination by a landslide.
Sadly, most of our young people don’t seem to understand how socialism slowly but surely destroys a nation. If you want to see the end result of socialism, just look at the economic collapse that is going on in Venezuela right now. The following comes from a Bloomberg article entitled “Venezuela Doesn’t Have Enough Money to Pay for Its Money“…
Venezuela’s epic shortages are nothing new at this point. No diapers or car parts or aspirin — it’s all been well documented. But now the country is at risk of running out of money itself.
In a tale that highlights the chaos of unbridled inflation, Venezuela is scrambling to print new bills fast enough to keep up with the torrid pace of price increases. Most of the cash, like nearly everything else in the oil-exporting country, is imported. And with hard currency reserves sinking to critically low levels, the central bank is doling out payments so slowly to foreign providers that they are foregoing further business.
Venezuela, in other words, is now so broke that it may not have enough money to pay for its money.
We are losing an entire generation of young people. These days, there is quite a lot of talk about how we need to get America back to the principles that it was founded upon, but the cold, hard reality of the matter is that most of our young people are running in the opposite direction as fast as they can.
And Americans under the age of 30 are not just becoming more liberal when it comes to economics. Surveys have found that they are more than twice as likely to support gay rights and less than half as likely to regularly attend church as the oldest Americans are.
So why is this happening?
Well, the truth is that our colleges and universities have become indoctrination centers for the progressive movement. I know, because I spent eight years at public universities in this country. The quality of the education that our young people are receiving is abysmal, but the values that are being imparted to them will last a lifetime.
And of course the same things could be said about our system of education all the way down to the kindergarten level. There are still some good people in the system, but overall it is overwhelmingly dominated by the progressives.
Overall, the average American spends about 10 hours a day consuming one form of entertainment or another.
When you allow that much “programming” into your mind, it is inevitable that it is going to shape your values, and our young people are more “plugged in” than any of the rest of us.
So yes, I believe that it is exceedingly clear why we should be deeply concerned about the future of America. The values that are being relentlessly pounded into the heads of our young people are directly opposed to the values that this nation was founded upon, and it is these young people that will determine the path that this country ultimately takes.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
Have you ever come away discouraged after trying to talk about prepping with friends or family members that just don’t seem to be interested? Over the years, I have heard countless excuses from people for why they aren’t getting prepared for what is about to happen to America. Some of the excuses, like a lack of money, are definitely legitimate. But in many other instances, the objections don’t seem to make a lot of sense. In America today, most people let others do most of their thinking for them. And in general, our political, religious and cultural leaders are telling Americans that there really is no reason to be overly concerned about the future. They assure us that they have everything under control, and that life is only going to get better in the years ahead. Bad beliefs lead to bad decisions which in turn lead to bad actions, and most Americans have chosen to believe what the elite are telling them at this point. As a result, only a small fraction of society is getting physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepared for the exceedingly hard times that are rapidly approaching. The following are 53 common excuses that people like to use for not prepping…
1. “Obama fixed everything that was wrong with America”
2. “When Hillary Clinton is elected she will put this nation back on the right track”
3. “Donald Trump will make America great again”
4. “I don’t have to prepare because the rapture is going to happen before anything really bad happens to this country”
5. “Everybody told me that the world was going to end in September and that didn’t happen”
6. “I don’t have enough money to buy emergency food and supplies”
7. “I’m too exhausted after working hard all day to do anything else”
8. “There is never enough time, and I would rather spend my precious free time doing something else”
9. “The U.S. economy is the greatest economy in the history of the world – there is no way that it could ever possibly collapse”
10. “Whenever we have had a major economic downturn in the past we have always recovered”
11. “Things are never going to get THAT bad”
12. “When things fall apart the federal government will take care of us”
13. “I am going to spend my extra money on fun rather than on fear”
14. “While you guys are sitting on stockpiles of expired food, I will be counting all of the money that I made in the stock market”
15. “When disaster strikes I will simply steal food from everyone else that has been prepping”
16. “The people at the Federal Reserve are very highly educated and they know precisely what they are doing”
17. “Wal-Mart will always be there when I need it”
18. “I’m too lazy to get prepared”
19. “Preppers don’t have a positive mental attitude”
20. “It is anti-faith to get prepared for an economic collapse”
21. “If the economy does collapse, I will just go on welfare”
22. “Nobody can get prepared for every possible scenario, so why bother?”
23. “I would rather save money for retirement”
24. “Obama told me that anyone that says the economy is heading for hard times is just peddling fiction”
25. “The stock market always rebounds to new highs after every crash, so why worry?”
26. “I don’t have room to store anything at my place”
27. “Prepping is something that crazy people do”
28. “I’m not a conspiracy theorist”
29. “I am afraid that all of the food that I store is going to go bad”
30. “All of the people that got freaked out about Y2K look really foolish right about now, don’t they?”
31. “Instead of being ultra-paranoid, I would rather just enjoy my life”
32. “If things get really bad, the people in my community will just band together to take care of everyone”
33. “If society did completely collapse, I would not want to go on living anyway”
34. “I’m too lazy to learn how to grow a garden”
35. “If you assume that the worst is eventually going to happen, then you don’t really believe in America”
36. “If something happens I will just run out to the store and grab what I need”
37. “If all of my debts are wiped out during an economic collapse I might as well live it up now”
38. “When things hit the fan I will just go live with my relatives that have been prepping”
39. “My spouse does not believe that prepping is a good idea”
40. “Prepping seems so complicated and I don’t know where to start”
41. “I don’t have to worry about preparing for a major disaster because that is what FEMA is for”
42. “There is no way that the supermarkets could ever possibly run out of food”
43. “Once I get my student loans and credit card debt paid off then maybe I will start thinking about prepping”
44. “My relatives are already convinced that I am a nutjob – I don’t need to make it worse by stockpiling buckets of food in my garage”
45. “What would the people at work think?”
46. “If there really was a reason to get prepared they would have told us about it on the news”
47. “People have been predicting doom and gloom for years, and yet nothing has happened”
48. “If I do prepare, angry mobs will just come and steal it all at some point anyway”
49. “Look at how fast technology is advancing – there is no way that things could completely fall apart now that humanity has so much advanced knowledge”
50. “We live in the greatest country on the entire planet during the greatest time for humanity in the history of the world”
51. “I have no intention of becoming a card carrying member of the Tin Foil Hat Brigade”
52. “If we are all going to die anyway, what is the point of prepping?”
53. “There is always more time – if I don’t get prepared today I can always get prepared tomorrow”
If you would like to learn more about how you can get prepared for what is immediately ahead of us, you may want to check out an article that I recently did entitled “70 Tips That Will Help You Survive What Is Going To Happen To America“. It contains quite a few little “nuggets” that many people don’t commonly think about when it comes to prepping.
Personally, I think that it would be very nice if normal life were to just continue indefinitely in America. That way I could just sit up on my mountain and enjoy a nice quiet life with my family.
But the truth is that we are moving into the greatest time of chaos that any of us have ever experienced, and those of us that have been preparing are going to need to step forward as leaders. It is during times of great darkness that light is needed the most, and during the hard years ahead there is going to be a crying need for people that have great strength, great courage and great love.
So do you have any excuses that you have heard that you think would make good additions to this list? Please feel free to share them with the rest of us by leaving a comment below…
When it comes to “prepping”, many among the elite take things to an entirely different level. As you will see below, the elite are willing to pay big money for cutting edge home security measures, luxury bomb shelters and superyacht getaway submarines. Some of the things that the elite are demanding for their own protection go beyond even what we would see in a James Bond film, and serving the prepping needs of the elite has become a multi-billion dollar business. Meanwhile, the media outlets that the elite own continue to mock the rest of us for getting prepared. All the time we see headlines like this one that appeared in a major American news source: “Preppers: Meet the paranoid Americans awaiting the apocalypse“. Well, if we are paranoid for setting aside some extra food and supplies for the future, what does that make the people that you will read about in this article?
Business is booming because billionaires are a paranoid bunch. Take one who recently moved to Mayfair. ‘He wanted everything, from protection from cyber hacking through to physical intrusion and kidnapping,’ says Bond Gunning. ‘We ended up installing fingerprint-activated locks for family members and programmable keys for staff that limit the time they are allowed into the property and the rooms they are able to enter and exit.
‘Inside and outside we installed 24-hour monitored CCTV cameras that are so hi-tech they can tell the difference between a dog, cat and a person. In the garden there are thermal-imaging cameras that can detect heat sources in the undergrowth. One thing intruders can’t hide is the heat of their bodies.
‘Should an intruder evade the cameras or ignore the warnings they automatically broadcast, the property itself is protected by bulletproof glass and alarm sensors in all rooms. There is a bullet, gas and bombproof panic or safe room, with its own food and water, medical supplies and communications, and an impregnable supply of fresh air. Just in case the family cannot make it there in time, key rooms are sealed by reinforced shutters.’
But for many elitists, those kinds of extreme security measures are simply not enough. That is why sales of “luxury doomsday shelters” are absolutely soaring. If “the end of the world” arrives unexpectedly, high net worth individuals want to know that there will be somewhere for them and their families to go. The following is an excerpt from an article about one such facility located in Indiana…
As we roll down US Highway 41 in Terre Haute, Indiana , my guide insists I give him my iPhone. Then he tosses me a satin blindfold. The terms of our trip were clear—I wasn’t to know where we were going or how we got there.That’s because we’re on our way to the undisclosed location of an underground bunker designed to survive the end of the world, whatever form that apocalypse takes.
When I remove my blindfold, I am standing in a grassy clearing looking at a boxy concrete structure that serves as the entrance to a Cold War–era government communications facility gutted and reborn as Vivos Indiana. This is the Ritz Carlton of doomsday shelters, a hideout where residents can wait out a nuclear winter or a zombie apocalypse in luxury and style while the rest of humanity melts and disintegrates. The living area has 12-and-a-half-foot ceilings, sumptuous black leather couches, wall art featuring cheerful Parisian street scenes, towering faux ferns, and plush carpets. Faith Hill croons from a large-screen TV set in front of three rows of comfy beige reclining chairs. The cupboards are stocked with 60 varieties of freeze-dried and canned foodstuffs; an evening meal might include spaghetti aglio e olio topped with skillet fried steak chunks, a fresh tomato-and-zucchini salad fresh from the hydroponic garden, and decadent turtle brownies. An eight-by-nine bedroom is designed for four people (there are larger units for six) and comes with double-queen bunks clothed in 600-thread-count ivory sheets and duvet covers worthy of a four-star hotel, a comparison highlighted on the Vivos website.
That sounds lovely.
But normal people like us cannot afford something like that. It will only be the elite that will be able to afford to hole up in underground bunkers while the world above descends into madness.
Other elitists will be taking off in their superyachts and heading out into the open ocean when things really start falling to pieces. And if their superyachts are threatened, some of them even have “getaway subs”. Here is more from the Evening Standard…
The ultimate vehicle of choice is no longer an armoured limousine or a private jet. They’re so Noughties. If you want bragging rights these days, you need your own submarine, which floats out of a sub-sea compartment in your superyacht. ‘It’s a toy, but if the worst happened, it could also be an escape route,’ says one prominent London tycoon with a weakness for Monaco-berthed superyachts — provided they have military-grade radar jammers and missile and torpedo defences.
So exactly why are so many among the elite so concerned about their own security these days?
Why are so many of them going to such extraordinary lengths to prepare for worst case scenarios?
Do they know something that the rest of us do not?
Gerald Celente of the Trends Research Institute has just gone on the record with a prediction that there will be a stock market crash by the end of this calendar year. If you are not familiar with Gerald Celente, he is one of the most highly respected trends forecasters in the entire world. He has been featured on CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Morning News, NBC Nightly News and Coast to Coast AM. Personally, I have a lot of respect for him. While it is true that not every single one of his forecasts about the future came to pass over the years, he does have a very solid track record that goes back for decades. He correctly predicted the 1987 stock market crash, the bursting of the dotcom bubble and the financial panic of 2008. Just a couple of days ago, he told Eric King the following: “I’m now predicting that we are going to see a global stock market crash before the end of the year.” Celente says that it won’t just be U.S. stocks either. He believes that crashes are also coming to “the DAX, the FTSE, the CAC, Shanghai, and the Nikkei”. It other words, it is going to be a truly global financial crisis and he says that there is “going to be panic on the streets from Wall Street to Shanghai and from the UK down to Brazil”.
When you go out on a limb like this, you are putting your credibility on the line. This is something that Celente has only done a few times in the past, and normally he has been spot on…
Rarely do I ever put a date on market crashes. I did it in 1987 when I forecast the 1987 stock market crash — that was in the Wall Street Journal. I also forecast the ‘Panic of 2008,’ and the ‘dot-com bust’ in October of 1999, when I said it (the dot-com mania) would fail in the second quarter of 2000…
Of course Celente is far from alone. Many others have also been warning that a new financial crisis is imminent.
David Stockman has long warned that the stock market is on the verge of a massive collapse, and the recent price action has him even more convinced than ever that the bottom is about to fall out.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that the top is in,” the Reagan administration’s OMB director said Thursday on CNBC’s “Futures Now.” The S&P 500 has traded in a historically narrow range for the better part of 2015, having moved just 1 percent higher year to date. “It’s just waiting for the knee-jerk bulls, robo traders and dip buyers to finally capitulate.”
Stockman, whose past claims have yet to come to fruition, still believes that the excessive monetary policy from central banks around the world has created a “debt supernova,” and all the signs point to “the end of the central bank enabled bubble,” which could cause a worldwide recession.
The mainstream media is starting to get it. The exact same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the last financial crisis are playing out once again right before our very eyes. Here is an excerpt from that Bloomberg article…
Attention commodities investors: Welcome back to 2008!
The meltdown has pushed as many commodities into bear markets as there were in the month after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which spurred the worst financial crisis seven years ago since the Great Depression.
Eighteen of the 22 components in the Bloomberg Commodity Index have dropped at least 20 percent from recent closing highs, meeting the common definition of a bear market. That’s the same number as at the end of October 2008, when deepening financial turmoil sent global markets into a swoon.
This is the kind of stuff that I have been hammering on for weeks.
Another sign that we saw back in 2008 that is repeating once again is a substantial slowdown in global trade. Over the weekend, we got some more bad news on this front from China. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
Overnight we got another acute reminder of just who is lying hunched over, comatose in the driver’s seat of global commerce: the country whose July exports just crashed by 8.3% Y/Y (and down 3.6% from the month before) far greater than the consensus estimate of only a 1.5% drop, and the biggest drop in four months following the modest June rebound by 2.8%: China.
It wasn’t just exports, imports tumbled as well by 8.1%, fractionally worse than the -8.0% consensus, and down from the -6.1% in June as China’s commodity tolling operations are suddenly mothballed.
The crisis that so many have been waiting for is here.
As the coming weeks and months play out, there will be good days and there will be bad days. Remember, some of the biggest one day gains in U.S. stock market history happened right in the middle of the financial crisis of 2008. So don’t get fooled by what happens on any one particular day.
Also, please do not think that this crisis will be “over” by the end of 2015. What we are moving into is just the start of the crisis. Things will continue to unravel as we move into 2016 and beyond. The recession that we experienced back in 2008 and 2009 will seem like a Sunday picnic compared to what is coming by the time that everything is all said and done.
So that is why I work so hard to encourage people to get prepared.
What we are facing is not going to last for weeks or for months.
The coming crisis is going to last for years, and it is going to be painful beyond what most people would dare to imagine.
After all these years, the most famous investor in the world still believes that derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction. And you know what? He is exactly right. The next great global financial collapse that so many are warning about is nearly upon us, and when it arrives derivatives are going to play a starring role. When many people hear the word “derivatives”, they tend to tune out because it is a word that sounds very complicated. And without a doubt, derivatives can be enormously complex. But what I try to do is to take complex subjects and break them down into simple terms. At their core, derivatives represent nothing more than a legalized form of gambling. A derivative is essentially a bet that something either will or will not happen in the future. Ultimately, someone will win money and someone will lose money. There are hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of these bets floating around out there, and one of these days this gigantic time bomb is going to go off and absolutely cripple the entire global financial system.
The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Central banks and governments have so
far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts. In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.
Those words turned out to be quite prophetic. Derivatives have definitely multiplied in variety and number since that time, and it has become abundantly clear how toxic they are. Derivatives played a substantial role in the financial meltdown of 2008, but we still haven’t learned our lessons. Today, the derivatives bubble is even larger than it was just before the last financial crisis, and it could absolutely devastate the global financial system at any time.
Thirteen years after describing derivatives as “weapons of mass destruction” Warren Buffetthas reaffirmed his view that they pose a threat to the global economy and financial markets.
In an interview with Chanticleer this week, Buffett said that “at some point they are likely to cause big trouble“.
“Derivatives, lend themselves to huge amounts of speculation,” he said.
Most of the time, the big banks that do most of the trading in these derivatives do very well. They use extremely sophisticated computer algorithms that help them come out on the winning end of these bets most of the time.
But when there is some sort of unforeseen event that suddenly causes a massive shift in the marketplace, that can cause tremendous problems. This is something that Buffett discussed during his recent interview…
“The problem arises when there is a discontinuity in the market for some reason or another.
“When the markets closed like it was for a few days after 9/11 or in World War I the market was closed for four or five months – anything that disrupts the continuity of the market when you have trillions of dollars of nominal amounts outstanding and no ability to settle up and who knows what happens when the market reopens,” he said.
So if the markets behave fairly calmly and predictably, the derivatives bubble probably will not burst.
But no balancing act of this nature ever lasts forever. Just remember what happened in 2008. Lehman Brothers collapsed and then the financial system virtually froze up. According to Forbes, at that time almost everyone was afraid to deal with the big banks because nobody was quite sure how much exposure they had to these risky derivatives…
Fast forward to the financial meltdown of 2008 and what do we see? America again was celebrating. The economy was booming. Everyone seemed to be getting wealthier, even though the warning signs were everywhere: too much borrowing, foolish investments, greedy banks, regulators asleep at the wheel, politicians eager to promote home-ownership for those who couldn’t afford it, and distinguished analysts openly predicting this could only end badly. And then, when Lehman Bros fell, the financial system froze and world economy almost collapsed. Why?
The root cause wasn’t just the reckless lending and the excessive risk taking. The problem at the core was a lack of transparency. After Lehman’s collapse, no one could understand any particular bank’s risks from derivative trading and so no bank wanted to lend to or trade with any other bank. Because all the big banks’ had been involved to an unknown degree in risky derivative trading, no one could tell whether any particular financial institution might suddenly implode.
After the crisis, we were promised that something would be done about the “too big to fail” problem.
But instead, the problem of “too big to fail” is now larger than ever.
Since the last financial crisis, the four largest banks in the country have gotten approximately 40 percent larger. Today, the five largest banks account for approximately 42 percent of all loans in the United States, and the six largest banks account for approximately 67 percent of all assets in our financial system. Without those banks, we would not have much of an economy left at all.
Meanwhile, smaller banks have been going out of business or have been swallowed up by the big banks at a staggering rate. Incredibly, there are 1,400 fewer small banks in operation today than there were when the last financial crisis erupted.
So we cannot afford for these “too big to fail” banks to actually fail. Even the failure of a single one would cause a national financial nightmare. The “too big to fail” banks that I am talking about are JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. When you total up the exposure to derivatives that all of them currently have, it comes to a grand total of more than 278 trillion dollars. But when you total up all of the assets of all six banks combined, it only comes to a grand total of about 9.8 trillion dollars. In other words, the “too big to fail” banks have exposure to derivatives that is more than 28 times the size of their total assets.
I have shared the following numbers with my readers before, but it is absolutely crucial that we all understand how exceedingly vulnerable our financial system really is. These numbers come directly from the OCC’s most recent quarterly report (see Table 2), and they reveal a recklessness that is almost beyond words…
Total Assets: $2,573,126,000,000 (about 2.6 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $63,600,246,000,000 (more than 63 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,842,530,000,000 (more than 1.8 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $59,951,603,000,000 (more than 59 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $856,301,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $57,312,558,000,000 (more than 57 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $2,106,796,000,000 (a little bit more than 2.1 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $54,224,084,000,000 (more than 54 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $801,382,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $38,546,879,000,000 (more than 38 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,687,155,000,000 (about 1.7 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $5,302,422,000,000 (more than 5 trillion dollars)
Since the United States was first established, the U.S. government has run up a total debt of a bit more than 18 trillion dollars. It is the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and it has grown so large that it is literally impossible for us to pay it off at this point.
But the top five banks in the list above each have exposure to derivatives that is more than twice the size of the national debt, and several of them have exposure to derivatives that is more than three times the size of the national debt.
That is why I keep saying that there will not be enough money in the entire world to bail everyone out when this derivatives bubble finally implodes.
Warren Buffett is entirely correct about derivatives – they truly are weapons of mass destruction that could destroy the entire global financial system at any time.
So as we move into the second half of this year and beyond, you will want to watch for terms like “derivatives crisis” or “derivatives crash” in news reports. When derivatives start making front page news, that will be a really, really bad sign.
Our financial system has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the planet. For the moment, the roulette wheels are still spinning and everyone is happy. But sooner or later, a “black swan event” will happen that nobody expected, and then all hell will break loose.
If enough people truly believe that things will get better, will that actually cause them to get better? There is certainly something to be said for being positive and thinking that anything is possible. And as Americans, optimism seems to come naturally for us. However, no amount of positive thinking is ever going to turn the sun into a block of wood or turn the moon into a block of cheese. Any good counselor will tell you that one of the first steps toward recovery is to stop being delusional and to come to grips with how bad things really are. When we deny reality and engage in irrational wishful thinking, we are engaging in something called “hopium”. This is a difficult term to define, but the favorite definition of hopium that I have come across so far goes like this: “The irrational belief that, despite all evidence to the contrary, things will turn out for the best.” In hundreds of articles, I have documented how the U.S. economy is mired in a long-term decline which is about to get a lot worse. But most Americans see things very differently. In fact, according to a brand new CNN/ORC poll, 52 percent of Americans describe the U.S. economy as “very” or “somewhat good”, and more than two-thirds of all Americans believe that the U.S. economy will be in “good shape” a year from right now. But if you asked most of those people why they are so optimistic, they would probably mumble something about “Obama” or about how “we’re Americans and we always bounce back” or some other such gibberish. Well, it’s wonderful that so many people are feeling good and looking forward to the future, but are those beliefs rational?
We witnessed a perfect example of this “hopium” on Wednesday. Sales at McDonald’s restaurants have been in decline for quite a while, and the numbers for the first quarter of 2015 were just abysmal…
The ubiquitous burger-and-fries chain said US sales, the largest share of global income, fell 2.6 percent from a year ago for comparable outlets.
Sales in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region dropped 8.3 percent, helping bring overall global sales down 2.3 percent, “reflecting negative guest traffic in all segments,” the company said.
Total revenue sank 11 percent to $5.96 billion in the quarter to March 31, and net income plunged 32.6 percent to $812 million, or 84 cents a share (-31 percent).
So you would think that the stock price would have tanked on Wednesday, right?
Thanks to news that a “turnaround plan” would be announced on May 4th, McDonald’s stock actually skyrocketed…
McDonald’s closed up 3.13 percent after spiking more than 4.5 percent in early trade as investors cheered a turnaround plan expected on May 4. However, the fast food chain’s earnings missed on both the top and bottom lines.
This is pure hopium. Why don’t McDonald’s executives just tell us what the plan is now? But instead, the mystery of a “secret turnaround plan” gives people just enough hope to keep the stock from tumbling – at least for the moment.
And of course there are all sorts of other stocks that are being massively inflated by hopium right now.
Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate, I was taught that a price to earnings ratio of more than 20 was really, really high.
But these days that is the norm on Wall Street, and at the moment there are quite a few stocks that actually have price to earnings ratios that are greater than 100…
There are 10 stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500, including industrial giant General Electric, video-streamer Netflix and oil and gas explorer Cabot Oil & Gas that are trading for 100 times their diluted earnings the past 12 months excluding extraordinary items, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ.
And if you can believe it, General Electric has a PE on its training earnings of more than 200…
Take General Electric, the industrial giant that’s swiftly selling off banking assets so it can return to its manufacturing roots. GE sports a PE on its trailing earnings of 227, says S&P Capital IQ.
This is completely and totally irrational. General Electric is a giant mess and is being very badly mismanaged. But investors continue to pay a massive premium for GE stock because they hope that things will turn around eventually.
Look, hope will get you a lot of things in life, but it won’t put money in your pockets or dinner on the table.
Our politicians and the mainstream media continue to sell us hard on the idea that things are getting better in America, but meanwhile our economic infrastructure continues to decay. Just check out what is happening in the steel industry…
United States Steel Corporation issued layoff notices to 1,404 workers in the latest sign of struggle for the American steel industry. The missives went out in recent days to workers producing pipe and tube products that are used in the oil and gas sector. Job cuts could come as early as June for 17 to 579 employees at a plant in Lone Star, Texas, 166 at a factory in Houston, 255 at a mill in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and 404 managers across the company’s tubular operations nationwide.
Since last June, the company has informed 7,800 employees of potential job cuts, a tally from Pittsburgh Business Times indicated. U.S. Steel spokeswoman Sarah Cassella said the ongoing layoffs are the result of “challenging market conditions and global influences in the market including a high level of imports, reduced prices for oil and natural gas and reduced steel prices.”
Unfortunately, most Americans have no idea what is going on out there. Most of them get their news from the giant propaganda matrix that very tightly controls the flow of ideas and information in this country. This is something that I explain on my new DVD. Six colossal corporations control over 90 percent of the news, information and entertainment that Americans consume, and that gives them an awesome amount of power.
And right now that propaganda matrix is assuring the American people that everything is going to be just fine.
Well, they better be right. Because if not, they are going to have millions of people extremely angry with them when things really start falling to pieces.
Our entire way of life can be ended in a single day. And it wouldn’t even take a nuclear war to do it. All it would take for a rogue nation or terror organization to bring us to our knees is the explosion of a couple well-placed nuclear devices high up in our atmosphere. The resulting electromagnetic pulses would fry electronics from coast to coast. Of course this could also be accomplished without any attack. Scientists tell us that massive solar storms have hit our planet before, and that it is inevitable that there will be more in the future. As you will read about below, the most recent example of this was “the Carrington Event” in 1859. If a similar burst from the sun hit us today, experts tell us that life in America could suddenly resemble life in the 1800s, and the economic damage caused could potentially be in the trillions of dollars. This is one of the greatest potential threats that we are facing as a nation, and yet Barack Obama has essentially done nothing to get us prepared.
The technology necessary to conduct such an electromagnetic pulse attack against the United States has become much more accessible in recent years. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, even rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran either already have or will soon have the capability to hurt us in this way…
Rogue nations such as North Korea (and possibly Iran) will soon match Russia and China and have the primary ingredients for an EMP attack: simple ballistic missiles such as Scuds that could be launched from a freighter near our shores; space-launch vehicles able to loft low-earth-orbit satellites; and simple low-yield nuclear weapons that can generate gamma rays and fireballs.
What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.
In 2009 the congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, whose co-chairmen were former Secretaries of Defense William Perry and James Schlesinger, concurred with the findings of the EMP Commission and urged immediate action to protect the electric grid. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Intelligence Council reached similar conclusions.
If you are a terrorist, a dictator or a fanatic that is looking for a “killshot” for the United States, those kinds of numbers would certainly get your attention.
And it was recently reported by WND that the Iranian military has already been playing around with such a scenario…
Peter Vincent Pry, who is executive director of a congressional advisory group called the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, raised the alarm as the agreement is about to be finalized.
He said U.S. military officials have confirmed such an Iranian plan.
“Iranian military documents describe such a scenario – including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States,” Pry wrote in a recent column in Israel’s main online media network, Aruz Sheva.
“Iran with a small number of nuclear missiles can by EMP attack threaten the existence of modernity and be the death knell of Western principles of international law, humanism and freedom,” he said.
Very chilling stuff.
And of course there are many, many others out there that would love to see the U.S. taken down other than just the Iranians.
Meanwhile, our power grid is far more vulnerable than most Americans would dare to imagine.
In previous articles, I discussed a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report which stated the following…
“Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”
Are you starting to get the picture?
Our entire way of life depends upon electricity. If you take away that electricity, our society is transformed literally overnight.
A successful EMP would be an utter nightmare for this nation. Just consider what U.S. Representative Scott Perry had to say about a potential attack last year…
“The consequences of such an attack could be catastrophic; all electronics, power systems, and information systems could be shut down,” Rep. Scott Perry said in prepared remarks during an EMP hearing in May held by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. “This could then cascade into interdependent infrastructures such as water, gas, and telecommunications. While we understand this is an extreme case, we must always be prepared in case a rogue state decides to utilize this technology.”
In essence, suddenly nothing would work and just about everything that we take for granted would suddenly be gone.
-There would be no heat for your home.
-Water would no longer be pumped into most homes.
-Your computer would not work.
-There would be no Internet.
-Your phones would not work.
-There would be no television.
-There would be no radio.
-ATM machines would be shut down.
-There would be no banking.
-Your debit cards and credit cards would not work.
-Without electricity, most gas stations would not be functioning.
-Most people would be unable to do their jobs without electricity and employment would collapse.
-Commerce would be brought to a standstill.
-Hospitals would not be able to function normally.
-You would quickly start running out of medicine.
-All refrigeration would shut down and frozen foods in our homes and supermarkets would start to go bad.
And as I mentioned above, all of this can happen even without an attack.
A direct hit from a major solar storm can cause the exact same thing.
NASA is warning that there’s a 12 percent chance an extreme solar storm will hit Earth in the next decade, sending out massive shock waves that would knock out grids across the world.
The economic impact of this doomsday scenario could exceed $2 trillion — or 20 times the cost of Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Academy of Sciences.
In recent years, we have been really lucky.
There was a close call in 2012 and another one in 2013.
The following is an excerpt from an upcoming book that I have co-authored with Barbara Fix that will soon be published entitled “Get Prepared Now”…
Most people have absolutely no idea that the Earth barely missed being fried by a massive EMP burst from the sun in 2012 and in 2013. And earlier in 2014 there was another huge solar storm which would have caused tremendous damage if it had been directed at our planet. If any of those storms would have directly hit us, the result would have been catastrophic. Electrical transformers would have burst into flames, power grids would have gone down and much of our technology would have been fried. In essence, life as we know it would have ceased to exist – at least for a time. These kinds of solar storms have hit the Earth many times before, and experts tell us that it is inevitable that it will happen again. The most famous one happened in 1859, and was known as the Carrington Event. But other than the telegraph, humanity had very little dependence on technology at the time. If another Carrington Event happened today, it would be a complete and utter nightmare. A study by Lloyd’s of London has concluded that it would have taken a $2,600,000,000,000 chunk out of the global economy, and it would take up to a decade to repair the damage. Unfortunately, scientists insist that it is going to happen at some point. The only question is when.
So keep an eye on the sun.
The giant ball of fire that we revolve around has started to behave very erratically, and it has the power to end our way of life at any time.
In fact, scientists tell us that we are about to get hit with a “glancing blow” on April 7th…
A filament of magnetism stretching halfway across the sun erupted during the late hours of April 4th (22:00-23:00 UT). The eruption split the sun’s atmosphere, hurling a CME into space and creating a “canyon of fire,” shown in a movie recorded by the Solar Dynamics Observatory: The glowing walls of the canyon trace the original channel where the filament was suspended by magnetic forces above the sun’s surface. From end to end, the structure stretches more than 300,000 km–a real Grand Canyon.
Fragments of the exploding filament formed the core of a CME that raced away from the sun at approximately 900 km/s (2 million mph): image. Most of the CME will miss Earth, but not all. The cloud is expected to deliver a a glancing blow to our planet’s magnetic field could on April 7th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.
The event of April 7th is not going to cause us major problems. But someday there will be a solar storm that will.
Personally, I cannot even imagine what life would be like without electricity.
Because we have become so deeply dependent on technology, most of us would have absolutely no idea how to live without it.
An electromagnetic pulse attack would be one of the fastest ways to cripple America and end the dominance of the United States in world affairs. And in this day and age, there are hundreds of millions of people around the planet that would love to see that happen.
So to not take steps to protect our power grid from such an attack is very foolish. But that is precisely what Barack Obama (and presidents before him) have chosen to do. We have technology which would mitigate the damage from an electromagnetic pulse, but rather than spend the money Obama has decided to just hope that it will never happen.
Can you imagine a world where your home, your vehicles, your appliances and every single electronic device that you own is constantly connected to the Internet? This is not some grand vision that is being planned for some day in the future. This is something that is being systematically implemented right now. In 2015, we already have “smart homes”, vehicles that talk to one another, refrigerators that are connected to the Internet, and televisions that spy on us. Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and that opens up some wonderful possibilities. But there is also a downside. What if we rapidly reach a point where one must be connected to the Internet in order to function in society? Will there come a day when we can’t even do basic things such as buy, sell, get a job or open a bank account without it? And what about the potential for government abuse? Could an “Internet of Things” create a dystopian nightmare where everyone and everything will be constantly monitored and tracked by the government? That is something to think about.
Today, the Internet has become such an integral part of our lives that it is hard to remember how we ever survived without it. And with each passing year, the number of devices connected to the Internet continues to grow at an exponential rate. If you have never heard of the “Internet of Things” before, here is a little bit about it from Wikipedia…
Things, in the IoT, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue. These devices collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices. Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that utilize wifi for remote monitoring.
But there is also a dark side to the Internet of Things. Security is a huge issue, and when that security is compromised the consequences can be absolutely horrifying. Just consider the following example…
It is a strange series of events that link two Armenian software engineers; a Shenzen, China-based webcam company; two sets of new parents in the U.S.; and an unknown creep who likes to hack baby monitors to yell obscenities at children. “Wake up, you little ****,” the hacker screamed at the top of his digital lungs last summer when a two-year-old in Houston wouldn’t stir; she happened to be deaf. A year later, a baby monitor hacker struck again yelling obscenities at a 10-month-old in Ohio.
Both families were using an Internet-connected baby monitor made by China-based Foscam. The hacker took advantage of a weakness in the camera’s software design that U.S.-based Armenian computer engineers revealed at a security conference in Amsterdam last April.
The Internet allows us to reach into the outside world from inside our homes, but it also allows the reverse to take place as well.
Do we really want to make ourselves that vulnerable?
Sadly, we live at a time when people don’t really stop to consider the downside to our exploding technological capabilities.
In fact, there are many people that are extremely eager to connect themselves to the Internet of Things.
In Sweden, there are dozens of people that have willingly had microchips implanted under the skin. They call themselves “bio-hackers”, and they embrace what they see as the coming merger between humanity and technology. The following is what one of the founders of a Sweden based bio-hacking community had to say during one recent interview…
“The technology is already happening,” says Hannes Sjoblad, one of the founders of BioNyfiken. “We are seeing a fast-growing community of people experimenting with chip implants, which allow users to quickly and easily perform a variety of everyday tasks, such as allowing access to buildings, unlocking personal devices without PIN codes and enabling read access to various types of stored data.
“I consider the take-off of this technology as another important interface-moment in the history of human-computer interaction, similar to the launches of the first windows desktop or the first touch screen. Identification by touch is innate for humans. PIN codes and passwords are not natural. And every additional device that we have to carry around to identify ourselves, be it a key fob or a swipe card, is just another item that clutters our lives.”
And of course this is happening in the United States as well…
In America, a dedicated amateur community — the “biohackers” or “grinders” — has been experimenting with implantable technology for several years. Amal Graafstra, a 38-year-old programmer and self-styled “adventure technologist”, has been inserting various types of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips into the soft flesh between his thumbs and index fingers since 2005. The chips can be read by scanners that Graafstra has installed on the doors of his house, and also on his laptop, which gives him access with a swipe of his hand without the need for keys or passwords.
But you don’t have to have a microchip implant in order to be a part of the Internet of Things.
In fact, there are a whole host of “wearable technologies” that are currently being developed for our society.
For instance, have you heard about “OnStar for the Body” yet? It will enable medical personnel to constantly monitor your health wherever you are…
Smart, cheaper and point-of-care sensors, such as those being developed for the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, will further enable the ‘Digital Checkup’ from anywhere. The world of ‘Quantified Self’ and ‘Quantified Health’ will lead to a new generation of wearable technologies partnered with Artificial Intelligence that will help decipher and make this information actionable.
And this ‘actionability’ is key. We hear the term Big Data used in various contexts; when applied to health information it will likely be the smart integration of massive data sets from the ‘Internet of things’ with the small data about your activity, mood, and other information. When properly filtered, this data set can give insights on a macro level – population health – and micro – ‘OnStar for the Body‘ with a personalized ‘check engine light’ to help identify individual problems before they further develop into expensive, difficult-to-treat or fatal conditions.
If that sounded creepy to you, this next item will probably blow you away.
According to one survey, approximately one-fourth of all professionals in the 18 to 50-year-old age bracket would like to directly connect their brains to the Internet…
According to a survey by tech giant Cisco Systems, about a fourth of professionals ages 18 to 50 would leap at the chance to get a surgical brain implant that allowed them to instantly link their thoughts to the Internet.
The study was conducted on 3,700 adults working in white-collar jobs in 15 countries.
“Assuming a company invented a brain implant that made the World Wide Web instantly accessible to their thoughts, roughly one-quarter would move forward with the operation,” the study found.
In the end, they are not going to have to force most of us to get connected to the Internet of Things.
Most of us will do it eagerly.
But most people will never even stop to consider the potential for abuse.
An Internet of Things could potentially give governments all over the world the ability to continually monitor and track the activities of everyone under their power all of the time.
“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing”
Are you starting to get the picture?
They plan to use the Internet of Things to spy on all of us.
But we just can’t help ourselves. Our society has a love affair with new technology. And some of the things that are being developed right now are beyond what most of us ever dreamed was possible.
For example, Microsoft has just released a new promotional video featuring 3D holograms, smart surfaces, next-generation wearable technologies, and “fluid mobility”…
The elaborate, highly produced video shows jaw-dropping technologies like a SCUBA mask that annotates the sea with 3D holograms, a multipart bracelet that joins together to become a communications device, and interactive, flexible displays that automatically “rehydrate” with information specific to the people using them.
This video from Microsoft was posted on YouTube, and I have shared it below…
So what do you think about all of this?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…