America Is Committing Suicide: Over The Past 12 Months, The U.S. National Debt Has Increased By 1.271 Trillion Dollars

If we do not change course, our once great nation will be destroyed by a debt that has grown wildly out of control.  We are facing an unprecedented debt crisis that literally threatens to bring our country to an end, and yet our politicians are almost entirely silent on this issue in 2018.  In fact, Republicans and Democrats just worked together to pass another big, fat spending bill through Congress that is actually going to increase the pace at which we are going into debt.  What the Republicrats are doing is not just wrong.  To be honest, the truth is that they are committing crimes against humanity, and they are completely wiping out the very bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.  How in the world is America supposed to be “great again” when we are buried in so much debt that future generations can never have any possible hope of getting free from it?

The fiscal year of the federal government goes from October 1st to September 30th.  During the fiscal year that just ended, the U.S. national debt increased by 1.271 trillion dollars

The federal debt increased by $1,271,158,167,126.72 in fiscal 2018, according to data released today by the Treasury.

The total federal debt started the fiscal year at $20,244,900,016,053.51 according to the Treasury, and finished the fiscal year at $21,516,058,183,180.23.

This is one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Washington.  Our current “representatives” are completely and utterly failing us.

Once upon a time, at least members of the Tea Party would stand up and say something, but these days nobody seems to care that America’s future is being systematically destroyed.  Republicans have been in control of both houses of Congress, but our debt problems just continue to get worse and worse.  And the truth is that the budgets that have been passed since Donald Trump became president are simply slightly revised Obama budgets.  The Republicans have allowed the Democrats to have their way time after time, and it has been absolutely disgusting to watch.

In 8 of the past 11 fiscal years, the U.S. national debt has risen by more than a trillion dollars, and the U.S. national debt is now sitting at an all-time record high of 21.52 trillion dollars.

What we are doing is literally insane, and if we want our nation to survive we must change course immediately.

These days, there is a lot of discussion about the political gains that “Democratic socialists” have been making all over America, and Republicans are trying to assure us that the American people don’t actually want socialism.

But you know what?

We have already gone most of the way down the road toward socialism.  I think that Ron Paul made this point very well  in his most recent article

We know socialism does not work. It is an economic system based on the use of force rather than economic freedom of choice. But while many Americans seem to be in a panic over the failures of socialism in Venezuela, they don’t seem all that concerned that right here at home President Trump just signed a massive $1.3 trillion dollar spending bill that delivers socialism on a scale that Venezuelans couldn’t even imagine. In fact this one spending bill is three times Venezuela’s entire gross domestic product!

Did I miss all the Americans protesting this warfare-welfare state socialism?

If you are really against socialism, you should be fighting for the federal government to be greatly reduced in size and scope.

But so few Americans seem to believe in true limited government these days.

It would be a great first step if we would actually try to start living within our means.  But if 1.271 trillion dollars of government spending was pulled out of the economy over the past 12 months, the result would be a horrible economic depression.  And politicians do not like economic downturns, because when things get bad voters tend not to vote for incumbents.  So they just keep going into more debt and they keep kicking the can down the road.

But if we stay on the path that we are currently on, the CBO says that the United States will be 99 trillion dollars in debt by 2048.

Of course we will never actually ever get to 99 trillion dollars in debt.  America will cease to exist long before we ever reach that mark.

If we want to save America, we must take action now, but very few people seem to even care about our exploding debt at this point.

And it isn’t just our national debt that is the problem.  State and local government debt is at record levels all over the nation, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, and U.S. consumers are more than 13 trillion dollars in debt

If you added up the personal debt of every American — what they owe on their mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and more — the total is staggering. Collectively, we’re $13.2 trillion in the red. That’s the highest ever, according to the New York Fed.

Yet no one seems to be panicking. Maybe that’s because we can’t comprehend $13 trillion. Imagine buying every NFL team. And every NBA team. And every NHL team. And every Major League Baseball team. But that only adds up to $191 billion.

America is committing suicide in slow-motion, and it is an absolutely heartbreaking thing to witness.

It is almost as if we lack the will to survive as a nation.  All we seem to care about is our comfort level at this moment, and we don’t want anyone to tell us that we have to cut back on anything.  I think that Chris Martenson summed things up very well in his most recent piece

Nothing grows forever.  Cancer tries, but always defeats itself in the process.  Yeast parties until all the sugar in the vat is gone or it pollutes itself out of an active existence.

Can humans do better? The jury is still out on that.

But so far, the signs say that, as a group, we lack the ability to organize effectively against big, complex challenges. Especially if doing so requires us to willingly choose to live a life of less. We’re simply too addicted to more.

We cannot continue to go down this road.

Because at the end of this road is not just economic collapse.  What we are talking about is literally the end of the United States of America.

All throughout history, great societies have been done in by greed, sloth, corruption and laziness, and we are headed down the exact same path.  If we want to survive, emergency surgery is necessary, but at this point nobody is even tending to the dying patient.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

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Why Are So Many People Talking About The Potential For A Stock Market Crash In October?

It is that time of the year again.  Every year, people start talking about a possible stock market crash in October, because everyone remembers the historic crashes that took place in October 1987 and October 2008.  Could we witness a similar stock market crash in October 2018?  Without a doubt, the market is primed for another crash.  Stock valuations have been in crazytown territory for a very long time, and financial chaos has already begun to erupt in emerging markets all over the globe.  When the stock market does collapse, it won’t exactly be a surprise.  And a lot of people out there are pointing to October for historical reasons.  I did not know this, but it turns out that the month with the most market volatility since the Dow was first established has been the month of October

The difference is quite significant, as judged by a measure of volatility known as the standard deviation: For all Octobers since 1896, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was created, the standard deviation of the Dow’s daily changes has been 1.44%. That compares to 1.05% for all months other than October.

Like me, you are probably tempted to think that the reason why October’s number is so high is because of what happened in 1987 and 2008.

But even if you pull out those two months, October is still the most volatile

You might think that this difference is caused by a few outliers, such as the 1987 crash (which, of course, occurred in October) or 2008 (the Dow suffered several thousand-point plunges that month as it reacted to the snowballing financial crisis). But you would be wrong: The standard deviation of daily Dow changes is much higher in October than other months even if we eliminate 1987 and 2008 from the sample.

Once we get to Thanksgiving, the market tends to get sleepy, and it usually doesn’t wake up again until the new year begins.

So if something big is going to happen in the market in 2018, it is probably going to happen in the coming weeks.

And it is inevitable that something big will happen at some point.  As Jesse Colombo has pointed out, stocks are more overvalued right now than they were just before the great stock market crash of 1929…

In a bubble, the stock market becomes overpriced relative to its underlying fundamentals such as earnings, revenues, assets, book value, etc. The current bubble cycle is no different: the U.S. stock market is as overvalued as it was at major generational peaks. According to the cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (a smoothed price-to-earnings ratio), the U.S. stock market is more overvalued than it was in 1929, right before the stock market crash and Great Depression

It is becoming increasingly obvious what we are heading for, and a growing chorus of market experts are issuing ominous declarations about this market.

For example, David Tice is warning that “we’re getting closer to a meltdown scenario”

According to investor David Tice, who made a name for himself in running the Prudent Bear Fund before selling it to Federated Investors in 2008, the current market is dangerous. Tice was quoted as saying he’s “nervous” because “we’re getting closer to a meltdown scenario.”

And John Hussman ultimately expects “two-thirds of market capitalization” to vanish…

I am aware of no plausible conditions under which current extremes are likely to work out well for investors. There are a few possibilities that could involve a smaller loss than the two-thirds of market capitalization that I expect to vanish, as the run-of-the-mill, baseline expectation for the S&P 500 over the completion of this cycle. Yet it’s worth recognizing that the completion of every market cycle in history has taken the most reliable valuation measures we identify (those best correlated with actual subsequent S&P 500 market returns) to less than half of current levels.

Could you imagine the chaos that would be unleashed if the stock market went down by two-thirds?

That would make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

And there are a lot of parallels between what happened in 2008 and what is happening today.  For example, the housing market is slowing down dramatically just like it did a decade ago.  The following comes from a Bloomberg article that I came across earlier today entitled “Builders Slump as U.S. Housing Market Shifts to the Slow Lane”

The housing market is stalling, and homebuilder stocks are feeling the pain.

The S&P Supercomposite Homebuilding Index is down 21 percent year-to-date, on track for the biggest annual drop since 2008, when it fell 32 percent. That’s even with tax cuts, unemployment near the lowest since 1969 and a real-estate developer in the White House. What gives?

Just a few days ago, I wrote an entire article about the fact that home sellers are cutting prices at the fastest rate that we have seen in eight years.  The housing market is clearly telling us that a big time economic slowdown is coming, but most people are not listening.

Switching gears, we have also recently learned that it looks like Ford Motor Company will soon be laying off lots of workers

Ford Motor employees are warily awaiting details of CEO Jim Hackett’s promised “fitness” plan and the serious possibility of significant job losses as the company faces pressure to improve its operations.

The company has warned of $11 billion in restructuring costs over three to five years, which could mean thousands of worker buyouts, according to analysts.

Why would they be doing that if the economy really was in “good shape”?

And let us not forget about the ongoing woes of the retail industry.  Recently, I was astounded to learn that a whopping 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant

“When you walk the streets, you see vacancies on every block in all five boroughs, rich or poor areas — even on Madison Avenue, where you used to have to fight to get space,” said Faith Hope Consolo, head of retail leasing for Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who said the increase in storefront vacancies in New York City had created “the most challenging retail landscape in my 25 years in real estate.”

A survey conducted by Douglas Elliman found that about 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant, she said, compared with roughly 7 percent in 2016.

New York City is one of the few areas around the country that has actually been prospering.

If things are that bad there already, what does that say about the outlook for the rest of the nation?

The truth is that the economy is not nearly as good as you are being told, and things could literally start breaking loose at any moment.

Unfortunately, as a society we have not learned very much from history, and most Americans seem to think that this bubble of artificial prosperity is going to last indefinitely.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Stock Prices Are Surging Because Corporations Are Spending More Money On Stock Buybacks Than Anything Else

The primary reason why stock prices have been soaring in recent months is because corporations have been buying back their own stock at an unprecedented pace.  In fact, the pace of stock buybacks is nearly double what it was at this time last year.  According to Goldman Sachs, S&P 500 companies spent 384 billion dollars buying back stock during the first half of 2018.  That is an absolutely astounding number.  And in many cases, corporations are going deep into debt in order to do this.  Of course this is going to push up stock prices, but corporate America will not be able to inflate this bubble indefinitely.  At some point a credit crunch will come, and the pace of stock buybacks will fall precipitously.

Prior to 1982, corporations were not permitted to go into the market and buy back stock.

The reason for this is obvious – stock buybacks are a really easy way for corporations to manipulate stock prices.

But these days it is expected that most large corporations will engage in this practice.  Large stockholders love to see the price of the stock go up, and they are never going to complain when smaller shareholders are bought out and their share of the company is increased.  And corporate executives love buybacks because so much of their compensation often involves stock options or bonuses related to key metrics such as earnings per share.

So in the end, stock buybacks are often all about greed.  It is a way to funnel money to those at the very top of the pyramid, and those stock market gains are taxed at capital gains rates which are much lower than the rates on normal income.

Normally, you would expect successful companies to invest most of their available cash back into operations so that they can make even more money in the future.  And for 19 of the past 20 years, corporations have spent more on capital investments than anything else.  But now, share buybacks have actually surpassed capital spending.  The following comes from CNN

But that doesn’t mean companies aren’t spending on job-creating investments, like new equipment, research projects and factories. Business spending is up 19% — it’s just that buybacks are growing much faster.

In fact, Goldman Sachs said that buybacks are garnering the largest share of cash spending by S&P 500 firms. It’s a milestone because capital spending had represented the single largest use of cash by corporations in 19 of the past 20 years.

And this trend seems to be accelerating during the second half of 2018.  It is being projected that firms will spend more than 600 billion dollars on stock buybacks during the second half of this year, and that will bring the grand total for 2018 to more than a trillion dollars

And the trend may not be done yet. Goldman Sachs predicted that share buyback authorizations among all US companies in all of 2018 will surpass $1 trillion for the first time ever.

Wow.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more than a trillion dollars that we could put toward reducing the national debt?

This is the reason why stocks hit another new all-time record high this week.  Stock buybacks have reached absolutely insane levels, and what we are witnessing is essentially a giant orgy of greed.

To give you some perspective, the previous annual record for stock buybacks was just 589 billion dollars in 2007.

This year, we may come close to doubling the previous record.

And let us not forget that the year after 2007 was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

So what corporations are the worst offenders?  Here is more from CNN

Apple (AAPL) alone spent a whopping $45 billion on buybacks during the first half of 2018, triple what it did during the same time period last year, the firm said. That included a record-shattering sum during the first quarter.

Amgen (AMGN), Cisco (CSCO), AbbVie (ABBV) and Oracle (ORCL) have also showered investors with big boosts to their buyback programs.

As I noted earlier, corporate insiders greatly benefit from stock buybacks, and they took advantage of massively inflated stock prices by selling off $10.3 billion worth of their shares during the month of August.

Inflating your stock price by cannibalizing your own shares is not a good long-term strategy for any corporation, but without a doubt it is making a lot of people very wealthy.

But in the process, the size of the stock market as a whole has been steadily shrinking.  In fact, the number of shares on the S&P 500 has fallen by almost 8 percent since the beginning of 2011…

According to Ed Yardeni, the number of S&P 500 shares has shrunk by 7.7% since the start of 2011. This tends to increase the earnings per remaining share and the dividends available per remaining share.

This is yet another example that shows why the stock market has become completely disconnected from economic reality.  Wall Street is inhabited by con men that are promoting Ponzi scheme after Ponzi scheme, and it is only a matter of time before the entire system collapses under its own weight.

But for now, the euphoria on Wall Street continues as stock prices continue to march higher.  Meanwhile, we continue to get more signs of trouble from the real economy.  For instance, this week we learned that the third largest bank in the entire country is going to lay off thousands of workers

Wells Fargo, the third-biggest U.S. bank, plans to lower its employee headcount by 5 percent to 10 percent in the next three years as part of its ongoing turnaround plan, the company announced Thursday.

The bank has 265,000 employees, meaning the reduction would result in a loss of between 13,250 and 26,500 jobs.

Why would they do that if the economy was in good shape?

And globally, the emerging market currency crisis has continued to escalate.  According to one source, more than 80 percent of all global currencies have fallen in value so far this year…

A review of the values of 143 global currencies indicates that so far this year, more than 80 percent have fallen in value.

Another eleven appear to be pegged to the dollar and 13 have risen in value. Of the 13 that have increased in value, only six are up more than 1 percent versus the dollar.

There have been outsized declines in countries like Venezuela (down 99 percent), Argentina (53 percent) and Turkey (38 percent). However, Brazil is down 20 percent, Russia 15 percent, India 11 percent, Sweden 10 percent, and the Philippines 8 percent. Big economies like China are experiencing a 5 percent currency value decline while the Euro is off by 3 percent.

I applaud those that have made lots of money in the stock market, but the party will not last forever.

In 2007 corporations were pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into stock buybacks, and it propped up the market for a time.  But eventually the bubble burst and the crisis of 2008 was so dramatic that it will be remembered forever.

Now we are facing a similar scenario, and it is just a matter of time before this bubble bursts as well.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Destroying America: It Is Being Projected That The U.S. National Debt Will Hit 99 Trillion Dollars By 2048

Temporary prosperity that is created by exploding levels of debt is not actually prosperity at all.  At this moment, the U.S. government is 21.4 trillion dollars in debt, and we have been adding an average of more than a trillion dollars a year to that debt since 2009.  And if we stay on the path that we are currently on, the trajectory of our debt will soon accelerate dramatically.  In fact, as you will see below, the Congressional Budget Office is now projecting that the U.S. national debt will reach 99 trillion dollars by 2048 if nothing changes.  Congressional Budget Office projections always tend to be overly optimistic, and so the reality will probably be much worse than that.  Of course we will never actually see the day when our national debt reaches 99 trillion dollars.  Our government (and our entire society along with it) will collapse long before we ever get to that point.  In our endless greed, we are literally destroying America, and emergency action must be taken immediately if we are to survive.

Debt always makes things seem better in the short-term, and it is always destructive in the long-term.

When we go into debt as a nation, we are literally stealing from the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.  Through the first 11 months of this fiscal year, the official U.S. budget deficit was $895,000,000,000, which means that we continue to steal more than 100 million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day.

And it is important to remember that not all additions to the national debt are included in the official budget deficit.  One year ago, our national debt was sitting at 20.1 trillion dollars, and that means that we have added an astounding 1.3 trillion dollars to the debt over the past 12 months.

This is complete and utter insanity, and it must stop now.

Let me try to put this into perspective.  Not too long ago, Venezuela was once one of the wealthiest countries in South America.  These days, many Americans like to laugh at them, but we are on the exact same path that Venezuela has gone down.  Eventually, the day comes when there is not enough of someone else’s money to spend, and suffocating levels of debt make the option of printing giant mountains of money too tempting to resist.  At that point it is just a matter of time before the currency is destroyed and society devolves into chaos.

If current Congressional Budget Office projections area anywhere close to accurate, America’s date with destiny is rapidly approaching.  The following comes from CBS News

Under the new baseline incorporating recent changes in law, the national debt reaches $99 trillion in 2048 — equivalent to 152 percent of GDP.

And the CBO is also projecting that our yearly budget deficit will go from one trillion dollars today to 6 trillion dollars by 2048…

The federal budget deficit is expected to break through a trillion dollars in 2020 and never look back, reaching $2 trillion in 2032 and $6 trillion in 2048.

But like I said, we will never actually get there, because our society will collapse by then.

So we only have a limited amount of time to save America, and the clock is ticking.

At this point, the total amount of U.S. government debt held by the public has already surpassed all household debt

Debt held by the public will top $127,000 per household by the end of the year, according to JPMorgan. Personal debt per household will average about $126,000.

“This is an astonishing statistic,” said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds. “Americans have a lot of debt. I always feel nervous signing a mortgage or a car loan. I think, can I afford all this debt? Then you realize the government is busy borrowing even more money on your behalf.”

I wish that I could get more people to understand just how serious this is.

Do you know what the inflation rate will be in Venezuela this year?

The IMF is projecting that it will be more than a million percent.

Chaos is everywhere, crime is out of control and people are starving, and yet we refuse to learn from what has happened to them.

We just keep spending and spending, and we think that we have found the key to prosperity.

But what we have really found is an accelerated path to economic hell.

And it isn’t just the U.S. that is in deep trouble.  The entire globe has been on a massive debt binge, and it is only a matter of time before this gigantic debt bubble implodes.  The following comes from an excellent piece by Larry Elliott

The BIS says in its latest annual report that there are already material risks to financial stability. “In some respects, the risks mirror the unbalanced post-crisis recovery and its excessive reliance on monetary policy. Where financial vulnerabilities exist, they have been building up, in their usual gradual and persistent way. More generally, financial markets are overstretched … and we have seen a continuous rise in the global stock of debt, private plus public, in relation to GDP. This has extended a trend that goes back to well before the crisis and that has coincided with a long-term decline in interest rates.”

Behind the dry official language, the message is clear. A recovery that is based around high and rising levels of debt is really no recovery at all. The world economy is, in all material respects, the same as it was in the run-up to the 2008 crisis. The necessary reforms to a flawed model have not taken place, which is why the BIS warning should not be ignored.

On a personal level, have you ever gotten into debt trouble?

At first, it was a lot of fun enjoying all of the new things that all of that debt bought, but the pain afterwards greatly outweighed the initial temporary prosperity.

The same principle is going to also apply on a global scale.  The U.S. government is now more than 20 trillion dollars in debt, and the entire globe is now more than 250 trillion dollars in debt, and a day of reckoning is coming.  The following comes from David Stockman

And it’s that $20 trillion, built up over the last two decades, that has basically distorted everything – falsified prices, repressed interest rates, caused an explosion of debt. Twenty years ago there was $40 trillion of debt in the world today there is $250 trillion worth of debt in the world. The leverage of the world has gone from 1.3 times which is stable…to 3.3 times, which basically means the world has created a huge temporary prosperity by burying itself in debt.

It would take an unprecedented effort to turn things around, but right now hardly anyone seems concerned about bringing all of this debt under control.

So we continue to roll on toward our date with financial disaster, and most people are completely oblivious to what is about to happen to us.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Major Currencies All Over The World Are In “Complete Meltdown” As The $63 Trillion EM Debt Bubble Implodes

The wait for the next global financial crisis is over.  Major currencies all over the planet are in a “death spiral”, many global stock markets are crashing, and economic activity is beginning to decline at a stunning rate in quite a few nations.  Over the past 16 years, the emerging market debt bubble has grown from 9 trillion dollars to 63 trillion dollars.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Now that emerging market debt bubble is imploding, and as a result emerging market currencies all over the globe are in “complete meltdown”.  In fact, at least 20 different currencies have fallen by double-digit percentages against the U.S. dollar so far in 2018, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.

You may be tempted to think that this must be a good thing for the United States since the value of the U.S. dollar has been rising, but it is not.

During the “boom years”, trillions of dollars were borrowed by emerging market economies, and a high percentage of those loans were denominated in U.S. dollars.  Now that their currencies are crashing, it is going to take much more local currency to service those U.S.-denominated debts, and a whole lot of them are going to start going bad.

That means that many financial institutions here in the United States and over in Europe are going to end up holding enormous piles of bad debt, and the losses could potentially be astronomical.

The dominoes are starting to fall, and even the mainstream media is admitting that what we are facing is really bad.  For example, the following comes from a CNBC article entitled “The emerging market crisis is back. And this time it’s serious”

The crisis has engulfed countries across the globe — from economies in South America, to Turkey, South Africa and some of the bigger economies in Asia, such as India and China. A number of these countries are seeing their currency fall to record levels, high inflation and unemployment, and in some cases, escalating tensions with the United States.

When I say that the world has been on the greatest debt binge in human history since the last financial crisis, I am not exaggerating one bit.

The emerging market debt bubble is now three times larger than it was in 2007, and it is seven times larger than it was in 2002.  Here is more from CNBC

Emerging markets are also heavily plagued by debt and a stronger dollar makes it tougher for them to pay this debt. The latest data from the Institute of International Finance shows that debt in emerging markets including China increased from $9 trillion in 2002 to $21 trillion in 2007 and finally to $63 trillion in 2017.

Of course this bubble was going to burst.

Anyone with half a brain should have been able to see that.

Now we have a full-blown crisis on our hands, and nobody seems to have any idea how to solve it.

As Charles Hugh Smith has observed, emerging market currencies all over the globe “are in complete meltdown”…

As the chart below illustrates, a great many currencies around the world are in complete meltdown. This is not normal. Nations that over-borrow, over-spend and print too much of their currency to generate an illusion of solvency eventually experience a currency crisis as investors and traders lose faith in the currency as a store of value, i.e. the faith that it will have the same (or more) purchasing power in a month that it has today.

This is the chart that Charles Hugh Smith referenced in that quote…

I am not sure that I even have the words to describe financial carnage of that magnitude.

Since the financial markets are not crashing here in the United States yet, most Americans do not really seem to be concerned about this crisis at this point.  But that is a mistake.  This meltdown has started with the weaker nations, but ultimately what we are witnessing is an “unraveling” of the entire global financial system

The fact that so many currencies are melting down at the same time is telling us the global financial system is unraveling, and unraveling fast. This is a symptom of a fatal disease. Currencies reflect all sorts of financial information; they’re akin to taking an economy’s pulse: trade balances, debt levels, interest rates, central bank policies, fiscal policies, and so on.

The global financial system is inter-connected, but this is not a viable excuse for the meltdown. The general explanation floating around is that currency weakness is like the flu: one currency gets it, and then it spreads to other weak currencies.

This diagnosis is misleading. What’s actually happening is the unprecedented global bubble of debt and assets of the past decade is popping, and it’s laying waste to the most indebted, over-leveraged and mismanaged nations first, either via stock market declines or meltdowns in currencies.

Earlier today, we learned that the South African economy has officially plunged into a new recession.  This crisis is spreading very quickly, and the United States won’t be immune from what is happening.  This is a point that Charles Hugh Smith made very well as he wrapped up his most recent article

The illusion that the U.S. is immune to the unraveling of debt and asset valuations won’t last. When the defaults start piling up, so will the losses, and when asset bubbles pop, incomes and spending decline. Although few seem to notice, almost half the profits of the S&P 500 corporations are earned overseas.

The belief that U.S. markets are somehow disconnected from global markets and immune to the repricing of risk, debt, assets and currencies is magical thinking.

I am entirely convinced that we have reached a major turning point.

For several years it has seemed like things have been getting “better”, but it was largely an illusion.  Our ridiculously high standard of living was financed by the greatest debt binge in the history of the world, and it was inevitable that a day of reckoning would arrive.

Now that day of reckoning is knocking on the door, and our society is completely and utterly unprepared for what is going to happen next.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Economic Doom Returns: Emerging Market Currencies Collapse To Record Lows As Global Financial Chaos Accelerates

After a little bit of a lull, the international currency crisis is back with a vengeance.  Currencies are collapsing in Argentina, Brazil, India, Turkey and other emerging markets, and central banks are springing into action.  It is being hoped that the financial chaos can be confined to emerging markets so that it will not spread to the United States and Europe.  But of course the global financial system is more interconnected today than ever before, and a massive wave of debt defaults in emerging markets would inevitably have extremely serious consequences all over the planet.  It would be difficult to overstate the potential danger that this new crisis poses for all of us.  Emerging market economies went on an unprecedented debt binge over the past decade, and a high percentage of those debts were denominated in U.S. dollars.  As emerging market currencies collapse, it is going to become nearly impossible to service any debts denominated in U.S. dollars, and that could ultimately mean absolutely enormous losses for international lenders.  Our system tends to do fairly well as long as everybody is paying their debts, but once the dominoes begin to tumble things can get messy really quickly.

Let’s start our roundup today with India.  While India is currently not in as bad shape as some of the other emerging markets, the truth is that they could get there pretty rapidly if they keep going down this path.

On Thursday, concerns about rising oil prices drove the Indian rupee to a brand new all-time record low

The Indian rupee fell to a record low on Thursday morning, following a declining trend all year — which economists attributed to rising oil prices, broader emerging market concerns, and strong month-end dollar demand.

It slid to 70.8100 against the dollar, after a previous new low just a day before at 70.475. That marked a 10.97 percent decline since the start of the year.

But at least India is doing much better than Argentina.

The Argentine peso collapsed to another all-time record low on Thursday, and at this point it has fallen more than 45 percent against the U.S. dollar so far this year…

The Argentine peso crashed to record lows on the news. It saw steep losses in the previous session and collapsed another 15 percent to hit 39 pesos against the U.S. dollar on Thursday morning.

The peso is down more than 45 percent against the greenback this year, exacerbating pre-existing fears over the country’s weakening economy while inflation is running at 25.4 percent this year.

As Wolf Richter has noted, the Argentine peso was worth one U.S. dollar in 2002.

Today, it is worth 2.4 cents.

That is what a collapse looks like.

In an desperate attempt to stop the bleeding, the Argentine central bank raised interest rates to 60 percent

On Thursday, the central bank said it was increasing the amount of reserves that banks have to hold, in a bid to tighten fiscal policy and shore up the currency. It hiked rates by 15 percentage points to 60 percent from 45 percent and promised not to lower them at least until December.

Yes, I know that looks like a misprint, but it is not.

Interest rates in Argentina have not been raised to 6 percent.  They have been raised to 60 percent.

Could you imagine what 60 percent interest rates would do to the U.S. economy?

Well, we will get there someday if we don’t change our ways, because we are going down the exact same path that Argentina has gone.

Things continue to get even worse in Turkey as well

The risks are fast multiplying in Turkey’s beleaguered economy. In a clear sign of deterioration, Turkey’s economic confidence index plunged 9% month-on-month to 83.9 points in August, its lowest since March 2009. The country’s currency, the Lira, resumed its downward spiral. And Moody’s downgraded 20 financial institutions in Turkey.

The financial nightmare in Turkey is the gift that just keeps on giving.  Their entire system is in the process of imploding, and President Erdogan seems to be in a persistent state of panic these days.

Also on Thursday, the Brazilian central bank directly intervened in the market to keep their currency from plunging to another new all-time record low…

The bloodbath in Argentina and Turkey is evident in Brazil also where Bloomberg reports that the central bank just intervened for the first time since June 22.

BCB reportedly intervened at 4.20 “to provide liquidity” adding that intervention intensity and frequency will depend on the market. The BCB also attempted to provide some confidence by reaffirming that monetary policy is not directly linked to recent market shocks.

A global financial crisis has begun, but because it has not really affected the United States too much yet, the mainstream media and most Americans aren’t really paying any attention.

But if the markets start crashing here too, then it will suddenly be all over the news.

Most people are aware that most of the biggest stock market crashes in U.S. history have happened in the fall, and the calendar is about to turn to the month of September.

We have definitely entered a “danger zone”, and more shocks seem to hit the global economy with each passing day.  For example, we just learned that President Trump apparently intends to follow through on his threat to hit the Chinese with another 200 billion dollars in tariffs

Bloomberg reported Thursday that Trump had told aides that he wants to follow through on a threat to impose tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods as early as next week. That would mean more than half of all Chinese imports would be subject to tariffs.

The tariffs could go into effect after the public-comment period ends on September 6.

Of course the Chinese will retaliate, and that will mean more disruption for the global economic system.

Many people believe that the U.S. economy is much stronger than it was in 2008, and that we will be able to easily weather any shocks that come along.

Unfortunately, that is not true at all.

The truth is that all of our long-term problems are much worse than they were in 2008, and the stage is definitely set for an economic disaster of unprecedented proportions.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The 5 Previous Times This Stock Market Indicator Has Reached This Level Stock Prices Have Fallen By At Least 50 Percent

Have you ever heard of the “Sound Advice Risk Indicator”?  Every single time in our history when it has gone above 2.0 the stock market has crashed, and now it has just surged above that threshold for the very first time since the late 1990s.  That doesn’t mean that a stock market crash is imminent, but it is definitely yet another indication that this stock market bubble is living on borrowed time.  But for the moment, there is still quite a bit of optimism on Wall Street.  The Dow set another brand new all-time record high earlier this week, and on Wednesday we learned that this bull market is now officially the longest in our history

For context, a bull market is defined as a 20% rally on a closing basis that’s at no point derailed by a subsequent 20% decline. March 9, 2009, has long been the agreed-upon starting point for such calculations because that was the absolute bottom for the prior bear market, which ended that day.

The S&P 500 has surged a whopping 323% over the period, with its roughly 19% annualized return slightly lagging behind the historical bull market average of 22%.

Of course the U.S. economy has not been performing nearly as well.  Even if you accept the highly manipulated numbers that the federal government puts out, we haven’t had a year when GDP grew by at least 3 percent since the middle of the Bush administration.

It simply is not possible for stock prices to continue to soar about 20 percent a year when the U.S. economy is growing less than 3 percent a year.  At some point a major adjustment is coming, and it is going to be exceedingly painful.

Author Gray Cardiff has been touting his “Sound Advice Risk Indicator” for many years.  He believes that the relationship between the S&P 500 and the median price of a new house in the United States is very important, and this is the very first time since the late 1990s that this indicator has entered the danger zone

The “Sound Advice Risk Indicator” is a different story. This indicator, the brainchild of Gray Cardiff, editor of the Sound Advice newsletter, is derived from the ratio of the S&P 500 to the median price of a new U.S. house. For the first time since the late 1990s, and for only the sixth time since 1895, this indicator has risen above the 2.0 level that represents a major sell signal for equities.

So should we be concerned?

In previous instances when this level has been breached, a crash hasn’t always happened right away, but in every instance the market eventually fell “by 50 % or more”

To be sure, Cardiff is quick to emphasize, his risk indicator is not a short-term market timing tool. In the wake of past occasions when it rose above 2.0, for example, equities stayed high or even continued rising “for many months, sometimes even a couple of years.” However, he continues, “in all cases, a major decline or crash followed, pulling down stock prices by 50% or more.”

Because Wall Street is so highly leveraged today, a 50 percent decline in stock prices would be totally catastrophic.  Banks would go down one after another, and we would be facing a financial crisis that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

And the truth is that much of the world is already in crisis mode.  The mainstream media is telling us that Italy is teetering on the brink of “financial disaster”, and China appears to be entering a serious economic downturn as the trade war begins to take a substantial toll on their economy.

Meanwhile, emerging market currencies continue to plummet, and this week it has been Brazil’s turn to capture the headlines.  The Brazilian real is absolutely crashing, and many analysts are pointing to their internal problems as the cause

According to analysts the devaluation of the Brazilian real is not due to the current foreign turbulence but to internal uncertainties and the upcoming October presidential elections.

“The (Brazilian) real was not devalued sixteen percent because of Turkey or other external reasons, it was because the rate of R$3.00 to R$3.30 (per US$1) was absolutely incompatible with the status quo of the Brazilian economy and the expressiveness of the country’s fiscal debt,” said Sidnei Moura Nehme, executive director at NGO.

At the same time, trouble signs continue to emerge here in the United States.

On Wednesday, we learned that Lowe’s is planning to shut down 99 Orchard Supply Hardware stores

The company said Wednesday that the 99 Orchard Supply Hardware stores that Lowe’s owns in California, Oregon and Florida, as well as a distribution center, will be shut down by the end of the fiscal year.

Orchard Supply Hardware has 4,300 employees. Ellison said in the earnings release that the chain’s workers will be given “priority status” if they apply for other jobs at Lowe’s and will also receive job placement assistance and severance.

If the U.S. economy really was in good shape, why would they be doing that?

Ultimately, most people out there realize on some level that our current economic situation is not sustainable.  Stock prices have become completely detached from reality, and we are enjoying a ridiculously high standard of living that has been fueled by the greatest debt binge that the world has ever seen.

We can steal from the future for an extended period of time, but eventually it will catch up with us.

When the stock market finally crashes, the mainstream media will treat it like a big surprise, but the truth is that it shouldn’t catch anybody off guard.  Key stock valuation ratios always return to their long-term averages eventually, and in this case stock prices are going to have to fall at least 40 or 50 percent before they begin to make sense again.

But as I noted earlier, our system is so fragile that we won’t be able to handle that kind of an adjustment.

Our system almost completely collapsed in 2008, but what we are facing is going to be much worse than that.  Most of the wealth of the country will be wiped out in the process, and it will be an exceptionally painful time for the American people.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.