Evidence The Housing Bubble Is Bursting?: “Home Sellers Are Slashing Prices At The Highest Rate In At Least Eight Years”

The housing market indicated that a crisis was coming in 2008.  Is the same thing happening once again in 2018?  For several years, the housing market has been one of the bright spots for the U.S. economy.  Home prices, especially in the hottest markets on the east and west coasts, had been soaring.  But now that has completely changed, and home sellers are cutting prices at a pace that we have not seen since the last recession.  In case you are wondering, this is definitely a major red flag for the economy.  According to CNBC, home sellers are “slashing prices at the highest rate in at least eight years”…

After three years of soaring home prices, the heat is coming off the U.S. housing market. Home sellers are slashing prices at the highest rate in at least eight years, especially in the West, where the price gains were hottest.

It is quite interesting that prices are being cut fastest in the markets that were once the hottest, because that is exactly what happened during the subprime mortgage meltdown in 2008 too.

In a previous article, I documented the fact that experts were warning that “the U.S. housing market looks headed for its worst slowdown in years”, but even I was stunned by how bad these new numbers are.

According to Redfin, more than one out of every four homes for sale in America had a price drop within the most recent four week period…

In the four weeks ended Sept. 16, more than one-quarter of the homes listed for sale had a price drop, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. That is the highest level since the company began tracking the metric in 2010. Redfin defines a price drop as a reduction in the list price of more than 1 percent and less than 50 percent.

That is absolutely crazy.

I have never even heard of a number anywhere close to that in a 30 day period.

Of course the reason why prices are being dropped is because homes are not selling.  The supply of homes available for sale is shooting up, and that is good news for buyers but really bad news for sellers.

It could be argued that home prices needed to come down because they had gotten ridiculously high in recent months, and I don’t think that there are too many people that would argue with that.

But is this just an “adjustment”, or is this the beginning of another crisis for the housing market?

Just like a decade ago, millions of American families have really stretched themselves financially to get into homes that they really can’t afford.  If a new economic downturn results in large numbers of Americans losing their jobs, we are once again going to see mortgage defaults rise to stunning heights.

We live at a time when the middle class is shrinking and most families are barely making it from month to month.  The cost of living is steadily rising, but paychecks are not, and that is resulting in a huge middle class squeeze.  I really like how my good friend MN Gordon made this point in his most recent article

The general burden of the American worker is the daily task of squaring the difference between the booming economy reported by the government bureaus and the dreary economy reported in their biweekly paychecks. There is sound reason to believe that this task, this burden of the American worker, has been reduced to some sort of practical joke. An exhausting game of chase the wild goose.

How is it that the economy’s been growing for nearly a decade straight, but the average worker’s seen no meaningful increase in their income? Have workers really been sprinting in place this entire time? How did they end up in this ridiculous situation?

The fact is, for the American worker, America’s brand of a centrally planned economy doesn’t pay. The dual impediments of fake money and regulatory madness apply exactions which cannot be overcome. There are claims to the fruits of one’s labors long before they’ve been earned.

The economy, in other words, has been rigged. The value that workers produce flows to Washington and Wall Street, where it’s siphoned off and misallocated to the cadre of officials, cronies, and big bankers. What’s left is spent to merely keep the lights on, the car running, and food upon the table.

And unfortunately, things are likely to only go downhill from here.

The trade war is really starting to take a toll on the global economy, and it continues to escalate.  Back during the Great Depression we faced a similar scenario, and we would be wise to learn from history.  In a recent post, Robert Wenzel shared a quote from Dr. Benjamin M. Anderson that was pulled from his book entitled “Economics and the Public Welfare: A Financial and Economic History of the United States, 1914-1946”

[T]here came another folly of government intervention in 1930 transcending all the rest in significance. In a world staggering under a load of international debt which could be carried only if countries under pressure could produce goods and export them to their creditors, we, the great creditor nation of the world, with tariffs already far too high, raised our tariffs again. The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of June 1930 was the crowning folly of the who period from 1920 to 1933….

Protectionism ran wild all over the world.  Markets were cut off.  Trade lines were narrowed.  Unemployment in the export industries all over the world grew with great rapidity, and the prices of export commodities, notably farm commodities in the United States, dropped with ominous rapidity….

The dangers of this measure were so well understood in financial circles that, up to the very last, the New York financial district retained hope the President Hoover would veto the tariff bill.  But late on Sunday, June 15, it was announced that he would sign the bill. This was headline news Monday morning. The stock market broke twelve points in the New York Time averages that day and the industrials broke nearly twenty points. The market, not the President, was right.

Even though the stock market has been booming, everything else appears to indicate that the U.S. economy is slowing down.

If home prices continue to fall precipitously, that is going to put even more pressure on the system, and it won’t be too long before we reach a breaking point.

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.

Oil Prices Have Been Rising And $4 A Gallon Gasoline Would Put Enormous Stress On The U.S. Economy

Thanks to increasing demand and upcoming U.S. sanctions against Iran, oil prices have been rising and some analysts are forecasting that they will surge even higher in the months ahead.  Unfortunately, that would be very bad news for the U.S. economy at a time when concerns about a major economic downturn have already been percolating.  In recent years, extremely low gasoline prices have been one of the factors that have contributed to a period of relative economic stability in the United States.  Because our country is so spread out, we import such a high percentage of our goods, and we are so dependent on foreign oil, our economy is particularly vulnerable to gasoline price shocks.  Anyone that lived in the U.S. during the early 1970s can attest to that.  If the average price of gasoline rises to $4 a gallon by the end of 2018 that will be really bad news, and if the average price of gasoline were to hit $5 a gallon that would be catastrophic for the economy.

Very early on Tuesday, the price of U.S. oil surged past $70 a barrel in anticipation of the approaching hurricane along the Gulf Coast.  The following comes from Fox Business

U.S. oil prices rose on Tuesday, breaking past $70 per barrel, after two Gulf of Mexico oil platforms were evacuated in preparation for a hurricane.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $70.05 per barrel at 0353 GMT, up 25 cents, or 0.4 percent from their last settlement.

If we stay at about $70 a gallon, that isn’t going to be much of a problem.

But some analysts are now speaking of “an impending supply crunch”, and that is a very troubling sign.  For example, just check out what Stephen Brennock is saying

“Exports from OPEC’s third-biggest producer are falling faster than expected and worse is to come ahead of a looming second wave of U.S. sanctions,” said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates. “Fears of an impending supply crunch are gaining traction.”

So how high could prices ultimately go?

Well, energy expert John Kilduff is now projecting that we could see the price of gasoline at $4 a gallon by winter

Energy expert John Kilduff counts Iran sanctions as the top reason West Texas Intermediate (WTI) could climb as much as 30 percent by winter, and that could spell $4 a gallon unleaded gasoline at the pumps.

“The global market is tight and it’s getting tighter, and the big strangle around the market right now is what’s in the process of happening with Iran and the Iran sanctions,” the Again Capital founding partner said on CNBC’s “Futures Now.”

About two months from now, U.S. sanctions will formally be imposed on Iran, and that is going to significantly restrict the supply of oil available in the marketplace.

So refiners that had relied on Iranian oil are “scrambling” to find new suppliers, and this could ultimately drive oil prices much higher

Iran’s oil exports are plummeting, as refiners scramble to find alternatives ahead of a re imposition of U.S. sanctions in early November. That in turn has helped drain a glut of unsold oil.

“To the extent we’re seeing the Iran barrels lost to the market, you’re looking at a WTI price and Brent in the $85 to $95 range, potentially,” Kilduff said.

Other sources are also predicting that oil prices will rise.

Barclays is warning that “prices could reach $80 and higher in the short term”, and BNP Paribas is now anticipating that Brent crude will average $79 a barrel in 2019.

In addition to the upcoming Iranian sanctions, rising global demand for oil is also a major factor that is pushing up prices.

For example, many Americans don’t even realize that China has surpassed us and has now become the biggest crude oil importer on the entire planet

China became the world’s largest crude oil importer in 2017, surpassing the US and importing 8.4 million barrels per day.

The US only imported 7.9 million barrels per day in 2017, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

So what is the bottom line for U.S. consumers?

The bottom line is that gasoline prices are likely to jump substantially, and that is going to affect prices for almost everything else that you buy.

Excluding tech products, virtually everything else that Americans purchase has to be transported, and so the price of gasoline must be factored into the cost.

So if gasoline prices shoot up quite a bit, that means that almost everything is going to cost more.

And this would be happening at a time when inflation is already on the rise

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, less food and energy, hit 2.4% in July 2018. That’s its highest reading since September 2008.

Of course 2.4 percent doesn’t really sound that scary, and that is how the government likes it.

But if the rate of inflation was still calculated the way it was back in 1990, the current inflation rate would be above 6 percent.

And if the rate of inflation was still calculated the way it was back in 1980, the current inflation rate would be above 10 percent.

Inflation is a hidden tax on all of us, and it is one of the big reasons why the middle class is being eroded so rapidly.

Please do not underestimate the impact of the price of oil.  It shot above $100 a barrel in 2008, and it was one of the factors that precipitated the financial crisis later that year.

Now we are rapidly approaching another crisis point, and there are so many wildcards that could potentially cause major problems.

One of those wildcards that I haven’t even talked about in this article would be a major war in the Middle East.  One of these days it will happen, and the price of oil will instantly soar to well above $100 a barrel.

We live at a time of rising global instability, and we should all learn to start expecting the unexpected.

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.

 

10 Numbers That Prove That America’s Current Financial Condition Is A Horror Show

America’s long-term “balance sheet numbers” just continue to get progressively worse.  Unfortunately, since the stock market has been soaring and the GDP numbers look okay, most Americans assume that the U.S. economy is doing just fine.  But the stock market was soaring and the GDP numbers looked okay just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008 as well, and we saw how that turned out.  The truth is that GDP is not the best measure for the health of the economy.  Judging the U.S. economy by GDP is basically like measuring the financial health of an individual by how much money he or she spends, and I will attempt to illustrate that in this article.

If I went out right now and got a whole bunch of new credit cards and started spending money like there was no tomorrow, would that mean that my financial condition had improved?

No, in fact it would mean that my long-term financial condition just got a whole lot worse.

GDP is a measurement of how much economic activity is happening in our society, and it is basically an indication of how much money is changing hands.

But just because more money is changing hands does not mean that things are going well.  What really matters is what is happening to assets and liabilities.  In other words, is wealth being built or is more debt just being accumulated?

Sadly, there are only a handful of bright spots in our economy.  A couple of very large tech companies such as Apple are accumulating wealth, but just about everywhere else you look debt is growing at an unprecedented pace.  Household debt has never been higher, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, state and local government debt is at record highs, and the U.S. national debt is wildly out of control.

If I went out tomorrow and spent $20,000 with a bunch of new credit cards, I could claim that my “personal GDP” was soaring because I was spending a lot more money then before.  But my boasting would be pointless because in reality I would just be putting my family in an extremely precarious financial position.

Economic growth that is produced by continually increasing amounts of debt is not a positive thing.  I wish that more people understood this very basic concept.  The following are 10 numbers that prove that America’s current financial condition is a horror show…

#1 U.S. consumer credit just hit another all-time record high.  In the second quarter of 2008, total consumer credit reached a grand total of 2.63 trillion dollars, and now ten years later that number has soared to 3.87 trillion dollars.  That is an increase of 48 percent in just one decade.

#2 Student loan debt has surpassed 1.5 trillion dollars for the first time ever.  Over the last 8 years, the total amount of student loan debt has shot up 79 percent in the United States.

#3 According to the Federal Reserve, the credit card default rate in the U.S. has risen for 7 quarters in a row.

#4 One recent survey found that 42 percent of American consumers paid their credit card bill late “at least once in the last year”, and 24 percent of Americans consumers paid their credit card bills late “more than once in the last year”.

#5 Real wage growth in the United States just declined by the most that we have seen in 6 years.

#6 According to one recent study, the “rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991”.

#7 We are in the midst of the greatest “retail apocalypse” in American history.  At this point, 57 major retailers have announced store closings so far in 2018.

#8 The size of the official U.S. budget deficit is up 21 percent under President Trump.

#9 It is being projected that interest on the national debt will surpass half a trillion dollars for the first time ever this year.

#10 Goldman Sachs is projecting that the yearly U.S. budget deficit will surpass 2 trillion dollars by 2028.

And I haven’t even talked about unfunded liabilities.  Those are essentially future commitments that we have made that we don’t have the money for at the moment.

According to Professor Larry Kotlikoff, our unfunded liabilities are well in excess of 200 trillion dollars right now.

If individuals, corporations, state and local governments and the federal government all stopped going into more debt, we would plunge into the greatest economic depression in U.S. history immediately.

The system is deeply, deeply broken, and the only way that we can keep this debt bubble going is go keep accumulating even more debt.

Anyone out there that believes that the U.S. economy has been “fixed” is completely deceived.  NOTHING has been fixed.  Instead, our long-term financial imbalances are getting worse at an escalating pace.

Unfortunately, the attitude of the general public is so similar to what it was just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008.  Most people seem to assume that just because we have not experienced great consequences for our very foolish decisions up to this point that no great consequences are coming.

And many also assume that since control of the White House has switched parties that somehow things must magically be better as well.

Of course the truth is that the only way that our long-term problems are ever going to be fixed is if we start addressing the issues that caused those long-term problems in the first place, and that simply is not happening.

As I have traveled extensively over the course of the past year, I discovered that most Americans do not want to make fundamental changes to the system, because they are under the illusion that the current system is working just fine.  So it will probably take another major crisis before most people are ready to consider fundamental changes, and when it finally arrives we will need to be ready to educate the public.

The system that we have today is not fundamentally sound at all.  We desperately need to return to the values and principles that this nation was founded upon, but until things start getting really, really bad it is highly unlikely that the American people will be ready to embrace those changes.

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.

Ron Paul Warns That When The “Biggest Bubble In The History Of Mankind” Bursts It Could “Cut The Stock Market In Half”

When this bubble finally bursts, will we witness the biggest stock market crash in U.S. history?  “The bigger they come, the harder they fall” is a well used phrase, but I think that it is very appropriate in this case.  From a low of 6,443.27 on March 6th, 2009, we have seen the Dow nearly quadruple in value since the last financial crisis.  It has been a remarkable run, and it has lasted far longer than virtually any of the experts anticipated.  But what goes up must come down eventually.  This stock market bubble was almost entirely fueled by easy money from the Federal Reserve, and now that easy money has been cut off.  The insiders can see the handwriting on the wall and they are getting out of the market at a pace that we haven’t seen since 2008.  Could it be possible that the day of reckoning is finally at our door?

Of course we have been hearing warnings like this for a very long time.  In fact, I have been warning about a market crash for a very long time.  Just the other day, one of my readers insisted that if something was going to take place that “it would have happened by now”.  In the Internet age, we have been trained to have very short attention spans, but financial bubbles don’t care about the length of our attention spans.  They all inevitably come to a bitter end, but they don’t reach that end until they are good and ready.

And without a doubt we are on borrowed time, but meanwhile so many of us that are continually warning about what we are facing are getting a lot of heat for it.

For instance, when Ron Paul told CNBC that the stock market is “the biggest bubble in the history of mankind”, he was strongly criticized for it, but he was 100 percent correct…

This market is in the “biggest bubble in the history of mankind,” and when it bursts, it could cut the stock market in half, he told CNBC’s “Futures Now” Thursday.

If the Dow only plummets to about 12,000 or so during the coming downturn we will be exceedingly fortunate, because the truth is that stock prices need to fall by at least that much just to get us into the neighborhood where stock prices will start to make sense once again.

Today, sales to stock price ratios are hovering near all-time highs.

The same thing is true for earnings to stock price ratios and GDP to stock price ratios.

The only other times these ratios have been so elevated were just before major stock market crashes.

In the end, these ratios always, always, always return to their long-term averages eventually.

It may take many years, but it always happens.

So what factors led Ron Paul to make such an ominous prognostication?  The following comes from CNBC

“The Congress spending and the Federal Reserve manipulation of monetary policy and interest rates — debt is too big, the current account is in bad shape, foreign debt is bad and it’s not going to change,” he said.

Paul isn’t alone in his critique. A number of politicians have voiced concern over ballooning deficits, including current House Speaker Paul Ryan, who raised a warning on the nation’s debt in 2012.

Of course it isn’t just the U.S. that is drowning in debt.

According to the Institute of International Finance, total global debt just hit a brand new record high of 247 trillion dollars

Every quarter the Institute of International Finance publishes a new number of the total amount of global debt outstanding, and every quarter the result is the same: a new record high

Today was no exception: according to the IIF’s latest Global Debt Monitor, the amount of debt held in the world rose by the biggest amount in two years during the first quarter of 2018, when it grew by $8 trillion to hit a new all time high of $247 trillion, up from $238 trillion as of Dec. 31, 2017 and up by $30 trillion from the end of 2016.

Global debt has been rising much, much faster than global GDP, and at this point there is three times as much debt in the world as there is money.

There is no possible way that all of that debt can ever be paid off.  The only way that the party can continue is for debt to continue growing faster than global GDP, and everyone knows that is simply not sustainable in the long-term.

So an absolutely monumental “adjustment” is coming.  You can call it a “crash”, a “collapse” or anything else that you would like, but just as certainly as you are reading this article it is coming.

It is just a matter of time.

But for now, the talking heads on television continue to insist that everything is just fine and that the stock market still has more room to go up

There’s still room for stock markets to rise and worries of an impending recession are premature, according to Berenberg Capital Markets’ chief economist.

“Even if profits peaked in (the first quarter of) 2018, which remains uncertain, history suggests the stock market has room to appreciate,” Mickey Levy, Berenberg’s chief Americas and Asia economist, said in a client note this week. He pointed to data demonstrating how in every economic expansion since the mid-1970s, the S&P 500 index went on to appreciate for a “significant period” after corporate profits peaked.

I wish that CNBC would have me on just one time so that I could refute some of these guys.

Since 1913, the Federal Reserve has gone through 18 rate hiking cycles.  In 18 out of 18 cases, those rate hiking cycles have ended in either a recession or a market crash.

Do you really think that the 19th time will be different?

10 years ago, virtually everyone thought that the “boom times” would last forever too.  But they didn’t.  Instead, we plunged into the greatest economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression, but at this point 2008 seems like ancient history to most people.

Yet again we have fooled ourselves into thinking that the good times will just continue to keep on rolling, and once again our society will be in for a very rude awakening when the inevitable crash finally arrives.

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.

We Are Witnessing Unusual Stock Market Behavior That Is Unlike Anything That We Have Seen Since 2008

We have not seen Wall Street this jumpy since just before the great financial crisis of 2008.  As I have explained so many times before, when the waters are calm and there is low volatility, markets tend to go up.  And when the waters are choppy and volatility starts to spike, markets tend to go down.  That is why the behavior that we have been witnessing from investors during the first two quarters of 2018 is so alarming.  A high level of market turnover is often a sign of big trouble ahead, and according to Bloomberg our financial markets “are churning at the fastest rate since 2008″…

From junk bonds to emerging-market stocks, market turnover is through the roof, reaching multi-year highs. Within the S&P 500 Index, investors traded more than $2.9 trillion worth of shares in each of the past two quarters, a feat last achieved in early 2008.

Bloomberg is not prone to hyperbole, and so when they say that “market turnover is through the roof”, I hope that you will take that statement seriously.

We truly are facing a scenario that Wall Street has never seen before.  The Wilshire 5000 stock index to nominal GDP ratio has been hovering near all-time highs, and what that tells us is that stock prices are more overvalued today than they have been at any other point in modern American history.  Meanwhile, all sorts of red flags continue to indicate that big trouble is on the horizon, but most investors are ignoring those red flags.

But if you look closely, it is becoming clear that the most savvy investors are getting out while the getting is good.  In a previous article, I explained that the “smart money” is getting out of stocks at a pace that we have not seen since just before the last financial crisis.  Fortunately for them, the “dumb money” has been willing to buy what they are selling at these massively inflated prices.

We see a similar spike in the “churn rate” when we look at emerging markets.  In fact, Bloomberg says that we have not seen this much volatility in emerging market stocks since the international financial crisis of 1998…

It’s a similar story for developing-nation assets at the mercy of a strengthening U.S. dollar and trade tensions. Volume on the MSCI Emerging Market index reached $1.9 trillion in the three months through June, the most since 1998 when a wave of currency devaluations and defaults ripped through emerging economies from Thailand to Russia.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, global stocks lost approximately 10 trillion dollars in value during the first six months of 2018.

Just think about that.

10 trillion dollars is almost half of the U.S. national debt.

If global stocks continue to fall at a similar pace during the second half, it is only a matter of time before U.S. stocks get absolutely slammed.

One of the emerging markets that is showing significant signs of trouble is India.  According to Bloomberg, India’s banks are now dealing with 210 billion dollars of bad debts…

India’s nearly $1.7 trillion formal banking sector is coping with $210 billion of soured or problem loans, and some regional banks have been ensnared in fraud scandals.

If U.S. banks had 210 billion dollars of bad debts that would be a big problem.

In India, a number like that is a complete and utter financial catastrophe that is not going to be easy to clean up.

According to CNBC, most of the bad loans are owned by India’s state-controlled banks…

India’s public-sector financial institutions control about 70 percent of all banking assets in the country, but they have the highest exposure to soured loans amounting to as much as $150 billion. In fact, the 21 state-owned banks had stressed loans of about 8.26 trillion rupees ($120 billion) as of Dec. 31, Reuters reported. Private sector lenders, meanwhile, reportedly had a bad loan pile of just about 1.1 trillion rupees.

Things have already gotten so bad in India that some people are starting to panic.

In fact, it is being reported that ATMs in some areas of the nation have been “running dry”…

On top of that, ATMs in some parts of the country have been reported to be running dry in recent days. There’s an unusually high demand for cash, according to the Finance Ministry. The rupee shortage is being blamed on everything from farm spending to looming elections and hoarding by some families.

This is yet another example that shows that it always pays to not put all of your eggs in one basket.  In the event of a major emergency, you will want access to cash, and you cannot necessarily count on your bank to always be there for you.

As we move forward into the second half of 2018, red flags continue to appear on an almost daily basis.  The Federal Reserve is steadily raising interest rates, civil unrest is erupting in the streets of America, and the Trump administration is starting trade wars with virtually everyone else on the planet.

In the end, these trade wars are going to prove to be very painful for U.S. businesses.  Earlier today, CNBC posted a piece about the impact that tariffs are likely to have on our pork producers…

U.S. pork producers are about to be bitten by a second batch of hefty retaliatory tariffs from China and Mexico — and that has some large producers predicting they could lose big money and be forced to invest overseas.

Executives say the pork industry has been expanding in recent years, in part on the expectation of export opportunities that would continue to support growth. However, the threat of a trade war is adding uncertainty and driving fear. One in 4 hogs raised in the U.S. is sold overseas, and the Chinese are the world’s top consumers of pork.

As I write this article, I can hear fireworks going off in the background.  The 4th of July is always a time for celebration, and without a doubt many Americans are extremely optimistic right now.

But as I have just explained, major storm clouds are gathering, and it isn’t going to take much to push the U.S. economy into another major crisis.

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

Why Are Investors Pulling Money Out Of Global Stock Funds At The Fastest Pace Since The Last Financial Crisis?

We haven’t seen anything like this since the financial crisis of 2008.  Investors are taking money out of global stock funds at a pace that we haven’t seen in 10 years, and many believe that this is a harbinger of tough times ahead.  Global stocks lost about 10 trillion dollars in value during the first half of 2018, and an even worse performance during the second half of the year will almost certainly push the global financial system into panic mode.  U.S. stocks have been relatively stable, and so most Americans are not too alarmed about what is happening just yet.  But if you look back throughout history, emerging market chaos is often an early warning signal that a major global crisis is on the horizon, and that is precisely what is happening right now.  Financial markets in emerging markets all over the planet are in the process of melting down, and the losses are becoming quite dramatic.

As stock prices around the planet start to plummet, investors are pulling money out of global stock funds very, very rapidly.  The following comes from CNBC

Investor money is hemorrhaging out of global stock funds at a pace not seen since just after the financial crisis exploded.

Global equity funds have seen outflows of $12.4 billion in June, a level not seen since October 2008, according to market research firm TrimTabs. Lehman Brothers collapsed in September of that year, triggering the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and helping fuel a bear market that would see major indexes lose more than 60 percent of their value.

Does this automatically mean that another major financial crisis is on the way in the United States?

No, but it is definitely not a good sign.

As CNBC also noted, investors have been taking tremendous amounts of money out of one emerging market ETF in particular…

The iShares emerging market ETF has seen $5.4 billion in outflows in June, the most of any fund, according to ETF.com.

“U.S. dollar strength and persistent underperformance seem to be driving fund investors away from non-U.S. equities,” TrimTabs said in a note.

The list of emerging market economies that are in crisis mode is beginning to get really long.  Argentina, Venezuela, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa are some of the more prominent examples.

If the chaos in emerging markets continues to intensify, the rush for the exits is going to become a stampede.  Not too long ago, I discussed the fact that the “smart money” was getting out of stocks at a pace that we haven’t seen since just before the last financial crisis, and it isn’t going to take too much to set off a full-blown financial avalanche.

In the general population, most people still seem to think that the financial system is in good shape.  But in many ways, the first half of 2018 was the worst half of a year for the global financial system since the financial crisis of 2008.  The following summary of the carnage that we have witnessed over the last 6 months comes from Zero Hedge

  • Bitcoin Worst Start To A Year Ever
  • German Banks At Lowest Since 1988
  • Onshore Yuan Worst Quarter Since 1994
  • Argentine Peso Worst Start To A Year Since 2002
  • US Financial Conditions Tightened The Most To Start A Year Since 2002
  • Global Systemically Important Banks Worst Start To A Year Since 2008
  • Global Stocks Worst Start To A Year Since 2010
  • China Stocks Worst Start To A Year Since 2010
  • German Stocks Worst Start (In USD Terms) Since 2010
  • Global Economic Data Disappointments Worst Since 2012
  • Emerging Markets, Gold, Silver Worst Start To A Year Since 2013
  • High Yield Bonds Worst Start To A Year Since 2013
  • Offshore Yuan Worst Month Since Aug 2015
  • Global Bonds Worst Start To A Year Since 2015
  • Treasury Yield Curve Down Record 16 Of Last 18 Quarters

And as I mentioned above, global stocks lost about 10 trillion dollars in value over the last 6 months.

When the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates, it puts a lot of financial stress on emerging markets.  It becomes much more expensive to take out dollar-denominated loans, and it also becomes much more expensive to pay back existing dollar-denominated debts.

But the Fed has not listened to appeals from the rest of the world, and has decided to accelerate the pace of rate hikes instead.

Meanwhile, the trade wars that the United States has started with other nations continue to escalate.  Here are the latest developments

U.S. farmers and food producers are in the cross-hairs of a global trade conflict that shows no signs of abating anytime soon — and things are about to escalate in a big way on Sunday.

New tariffs will be imposed by Canada on beef, and more retaliation will come this week when China and Mexico take aim at pork. China’s also planning a 25 percent tariff on soybeans on July 6 in addition to hikes on pork duties, and Mexico’s 20 percent levy on “the other white meat” is set to begin July 5.

Meanwhile, the European Union’s initial duties worth $3.2 billion took effect June 22. Most of the duties amount to 25 percent, and include a variety of U.S. products, including motorcycles, boats, whiskey and peanut butter.

If nobody gives in, economic activity will start to slow down substantially.  This is what CNN says that we should expect…

Here’s how the dominoes could fall: First, businesses would be hit with higher costs triggered by tariffs. Then, companies won’t be able to figure out how to get the materials they need. Eventually, confidence among executives and households would drop. Businesses would respond by drastically scaling back spending.

A perfect storm is starting to emerge, and investors are getting spooked.

If financial problems continue to get worse in emerging markets, and if the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates, and if these trade wars continue to grow, it is only a matter of time before we have a major market catastrophe in the United States.

The storm clouds on the horizon have just kept getting darker and darker, and many analysts all over the nation agree that this is the gloomiest that things have looked since 2008.

Hopefully a way can be found to turn things around, but I wouldn’t count on it…

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

The Federal Reserve Is Increasing The Pace Of Interest Rate Hikes Just In Time For The 2018 Mid-Term Elections

If the Federal Reserve really wanted to hurt the U.S. economy, the quickest way that it could do that would be by aggressively raising interest rates.  Lower interest rates make it less expensive to borrow money, and therefore economic activity tends to expand in a low interest rate environment.  Alternatively, higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow money, and economic activity tends to slow down in a high interest rate environment.  Since 1913, the Federal Reserve has engaged in 18 previous rate hiking cycles, and every single one of them resulted in a huge stock market decline and/or a recession.  It will be the same this time around as well, and the “experts” at the Federal Reserve know exactly what they are doing.  Interest rates are being aggressively jacked up just in time for the 2018 mid-term elections, and that is very bad news for the Republican Party and the Trump administration.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced an interest rate hike for the 2nd time this year

The Federal Reserve increased a key interest rate again Wednesday, which will trigger higher rates on credit cards, home equity lines and other kinds of borrowing.

Wednesday’s action, which was widely expected, was the second Fed rate hike this year — and the seventh since it began boosting them in 2015. The latest increase puts the federal funds rate in a range between 1.75 and 2 percent. The Fed previously nudged rates up in March.

Because so much is based on what the Federal Reserve does, now interest rates will be going up throughout our economy.

For example, we should expect the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage to surpass the 4.66 percent mark that we witnessed earlier this year

Mortgage rates have been climbing. The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage climbed to 4.66% this year in May, the highest in seven years, before falling slightly in recent weeks.

Home mortgage rates tend to move with the bond market, but rates can also rise because of a higher federal funds rate. A higher rate makes it more expensive for banks to borrow money, which can translate into higher borrowing rates for consumers.

Needless to say, this is going to have a huge impact on the housing market.

Interest rates will also be going up on credit cards, auto loans and just about every other kind of debt that you can imagine.

This will inevitably slow down economic activity, and it will make the party that is in power in Washington (the Republicans) look bad.

Originally, it was anticipated that the Federal Reserve would raise rates only three times in 2018, but now they are indicating that rates will be raised a total of four times this year.  The following comes from NPR

The Fed also signaled that it will raise rates more this year than previously expected — four times rather than three.

This is economic sabotage, but nobody in the mainstream media will ever admit this.

Most people do not understand that the Federal Reserve has far more power over the performance of the U.S. economy than anyone else does.  It was the Fed’s ultra-low interest rates and easy money policies that fueled the relative economic improvement that we have witnessed early in Trump’s presidency, and it will be the Fed’s policy of aggressively raising rates that will inevitably cause huge economic turmoil in the coming months.

So why would the Federal Reserve do this?

According to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, the Fed decided to raise interest rates to keep the economy from overheating

The decision reflected an economy that’s getting even stronger. Unemployment is 3.8%, the lowest since 2000, and inflation is creeping higher. The Fed is raising rates gradually to keep the economy from overheating.

“The main takeaway is that the economy is doing very well,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference. “Most people who want to find jobs are finding them, and unemployment and inflation are low.”

Of course that is a load of nonsense.

As I discussed yesterday, if honest numbers were being used our unemployment rate would be at 21.5 percent, inflation would be at about 10 percent, and GDP growth would be negative.

The U.S. economy is definitely not “overheating”.  In fact, it needs as much help as possible to pull out of the deep slump that it has been in for many, many years.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is supposed to be a Republican, and I suppose that it is possible that he actually believes that he is doing the right thing for the country by aggressively raising interest rates.

But any sort of an economic slowdown will be extremely favorable for the Democrats.  American voters are notorious for “voting their pocketbooks”, and when things get bad they always blame whoever is in power at the time.

In this case, it will be Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress that get the blame for what the Federal Reserve has done.

We know that some among the elite are already discussing the possibility of “a crashing economy” as a way to “get rid of Trump”.  In the short-term, however, the best way to neuter Trump politically would be to have Democrats do extremely well in the 2018 mid-term elections.

If the Democrats take back control of either the House or the Senate in November, Trump’s agenda will come to a crashing halt, and thanks to the Federal Reserve that scenario has just become much more likely.

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