Most nations in South America are either already experiencing an economic recession or are right on the verge of one. In general, South American economies are very heavily dependent on exports, and right now they are being absolutely shredded by the twin blades of a commodity price collapse and a skyrocketing U.S. dollar. During the boom times in South America, governments and businesses loaded up on tremendous amounts of debt. Since much of that debt was denominated in U.S. dollars, South American borrowers are now finding that it takes much more of their own local currencies to service and pay back those debts. At the same time, there is much less demand for commodities being produced by South American nations in the international marketplace. As a result, South America is heading into a full-blown financial crisis which will cause years of pain for the entire continent.
If you know your financial history, then you know that we have seen this exact same scenario play out before in various parts of the world. The following comes from a recent CNN article…
The dollar’s gains should make history nerds shake in their boots. Its rally in the early 1980s helped trigger Latin America’s debt crisis. Fifteen years later, the greenback surged quickly again, causing Southeast Asian economies, such as Thailand, to collapse after a run on the banks ensued.
In particular, what is going on right now is so similar to what took place back in the early 1980s. At that time, Latin American governments were swimming in debt, the U.S. dollar was surging and commodity prices were falling. The conditions were perfect for a debt crisis in Latin America, and that is precisely what happened…
When the world economy went into recession in the 1970s and 80s, and oil prices skyrocketed, it created a breaking point for most countries in the region. Developing countries also found themselves in a desperate liquidity crunch. Petroleum exporting countries – flush with cash after the oil price increases of 1973-74 – invested their money with international banks, which ‘recycled’ a major portion of the capital as loans to Latin American governments. The sharp increase in oil prices caused many countries to search out more loans to cover the high prices, and even oil producing countries wanted to use the opportunity to develop further. These oil producers believed that the high prices would remain and would allow them to pay off their additional debt.
As interest rates increased in the United States of America and in Europe in 1979, debt payments also increased, making it harder for borrowing countries to pay back their debts. Deterioration in the exchange rate with the US dollar meant that Latin American governments ended up owing tremendous quantities of their national currencies, as well as losing purchasing power. The contraction of world trade in 1981 caused the prices of primary resources (Latin America’s largest export) to fall.
Sadly, the same mistakes have been repeated once again. In recent years South American nations have loaded up on vast amounts of debt, and now that commodity prices are tanking and the U.S. dollar is surging, all of that debt is creating tremendous headaches.
For instance, just consider what is happening in Brazil…
Brazil’s real plummeted to a 12-year low of 3.34 to the dollar, reflecting the country’s heavy reliance on exports of iron ore and other raw materials to China.
The devaluation tightens the noose on Brazilian companies saddled with $188bn in dollar debt taken out during the glory days of the commodity boom. The oil group Petrobras alone raised $52bn on the US bond markets.
Today, Brazil has the 7th largest economy on the entire planet.
So a major financial crisis in Brazil would be extremely significant.
And that is precisely what is starting to happen. It is being projected that Brazilian government debt will soon be reduced to junk status, Brazilian stocks have already entered “correction territory“, and economic forecasters say that the Brazilian economy is heading into its worst recession in at least 25 years…
Brazil needs to brace itself for some very tough times. Brazilian banks are currently forecasting another economic contraction for the South American country in 2016, marking the first time that Brazil’s economy has shrunk in two consecutive years since the Great Depression.
Last Friday, economist Nelson Teixeira of Switzerland-based financial services holding company Credit Suisse released a revision of his already dour forecast for the Brazilian GDP, moving this year’s numbers from -1.8 percent to -2.4 percent.
The IMF is also projecting that 2015 will be a year of recession for the second largest economy in South America (Argentina) and the third largest economy in South America (Venezuela).
And actually Venezuela is in the deepest trouble of all. According to a recent Bloomberg article, it appears to be inevitable that there will be a debt default by the Venezuelan government in the very near future…
Harvard University Professor Ricardo Hausmann last year questioned Venezuela’s decision to keep paying bondholders as the country sank deeper into crisis and suggested it stop honoring the debt.
Now, he’s saying Venezuela will have no choice but to default next year.
Hausmann’s comments come as a deepening collapse in oil prices and a shortage of dollars stoke concern Venezuela is fast running out of money to stay current on debt. The country’s bonds plunged last year after Hausmann, who served as Venezuelan planning minister after Hugo Chavez’s failed 1992 coup, raised the specter of default, saying he found “no moral grounds” for the government to pay debt at a time when Venezuelans were facing shortages of everything from basic medicine to toilet paper.
The inflation rate in Venezuela today is an astounding 68.5 percent, and the country is plunging into full-blown economic collapse. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
As we recently warned, the hyperinflationary collapse in Venezuela is reaching its terminal phase. With inflation soaring at least 65%, murder rates the 2nd highest in the world, and chronic food (and toilet paper shortages), the following disturbing clip shows what is rapidly becoming major social unrest in the Maduro’s socialist paradise… and perhaps more importantly, Venezuela shows us what the end game for every fiat money system looks like (and perhaps Janet and her colleagues should remember that).
Here is the video that was mentioned in the excerpt above. As you watch this, please keep in mind that the United States is on the exact same path that Venezuela has gone down…
Economic chaos is beginning to erupt all over the planet, and the depression that we are entering into will truly be global in scope.
For the moment, many in the United States still believe that what is going on in the rest of the world will not affect us. But the truth is that we are also right on the verge of a major financial crisis, and it is going to be even worse than what we experienced back in 2008.
So what do you think about what is going on down in South America?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…
Will oil soon be traded in a currency that is thousands of years old? What would a “gold for oil” system mean for the petrodollar and the U.S. economy? Are Russia and China hoarding massive amounts of gold because they plan to kill the petrodollar? Since the 1970s, the U.S. dollar has been the currency that the international community has used to trade oil around the globe. This has created an overwhelming demand for U.S. dollars and U.S. debt. But what happens when the rest of the globe starts rejecting the increasingly unstable U.S. dollar and figures out that gold can be used as a currency in international trade? The truth is that it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure that out. Demand for the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt would fall off the map and there would be a rush into gold unlike anything we have ever seen before. So are Russia and China accumulating unprecedented amounts of gold right now because they eventually plan to cut the legs out from under the petrodollar and they want to gobble up huge stockpiles of gold before the cat is out of the bag? Of course they will never admit this publicly, but there are rumblings out there that this is exactly what is happening.
Not that you can really blame any nation that wants to get into gold right now. News outlets all over the globe are telling us that we are in the midst of a “currency war” as central banks all over the planet race to devalue their currencies.
So why would anyone want to be in paper in such an environment?
And of course the Federal Reserve is one of the biggest offenders. The Fed has been printing money like it is going out of style, and nobody at the Fed or in the U.S. government really seems too concerned that all of this money printing could be endangering the petrodollar.
But the truth is that the Fed is endangering the petrodollar. Just read some foreign news stories about the U.S. dollar. They mock us for our reckless money printing.
In the end, our recklessness will make it very easy for the rest of the world to ditch the U.S. dollar.
At some point, it will happen. In fact, there are persistent rumors that Russia and China actually intend to make it happen.
Many believe that this is the reason both nations have been hoarding so much gold recently.
Just check out how much gold Russia has been accumulating. The following is from a recent Bloomberg article…
When Vladimir Putin says the U.S. is endangering the global economy by abusing its dollar monopoly, he’s not just talking. He’s betting on it.
Not only has Putin made Russia the world’s largest oil producer, he’s also made it the biggest gold buyer. His central bank has added 570 metric tons of the metal in the past decade, a quarter more than runner-up China, according to IMF data compiled by Bloomberg. The added gold is also almost triple the weight of the Statue of Liberty.
“The more gold a country has, the more sovereignty it will have if there’s a cataclysm with the dollar, the euro, the pound or any other reserve currency,” Evgeny Fedorov, a lawmaker for Putin’s United Russia party in the lower house of parliament, said in a telephone interview in Moscow.
And Russia’s gold hoarding appears to have accelerated last year. According to one recent report, Russia added 3.2 million ounces of gold to their reserves in 2012 alone.
But of even greater concern is China. Nobody really knows how much gold China has, because they do not tell us, but all indications point to the fact that Chinese gold hoarding has gone into overdrive. The following is from a Zero Hedge article from a few months ago…
Because while earlier today we were wondering (rhetorically, of course) what China is doing with all that excess trade surplus if it is not recycling it back into Treasurys, now we once again find out that instead of purchasing US paper, Beijing continues to buy non-US gold, in the form of 68 tons in imports from Hong Kong in the month of June. The year to date total (6 months)? 383 tons. In other words, in half a year China, whose official total tally is still a massively underrepresented 1054 tons, has imported more gold than the official gold reserves of Portugal, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and so on, and whose YTD imports alone make it the 14th largest holder of gold in the world. Realistically, by now China, which hasn’t provided an honest gold reserve holdings update to the IMF in years, most certainly has more gold than the IMF, and its 2814 tons, itself. Of course, the moment the PBOC does announce its official updated gold stash, a gold price in the mid-$1000 range will be a long gone memory.
As I wrote about the other day, nobody produces more gold than China does, and nobody imports more gold than China does.
Everyone agrees that China seems to have an insatiable appetite for gold, but nobody can agree on exactly how much gold they actually have. One recent estimate put China’s gold reserves at more than 7,000 tons of gold, but it could even be much higher than that. Nobody really knows.
So what are Russia and China up to?
Well, for a long time both nations have expressed displeasure with the fact that the U.S. dollar is the de facto currency of the world. Leaders from both nations have suggested the possibility of adopting a new global reserve currency, but up to this point no real contenders have emerged to dethrone the U.S. dollar.
So for now, the U.S. dollar reigns supreme in international trade. Sadly, even though most Americans greatly benefit from the petrodollar, most of them do not even know what it is. For those that do not fully understand the petrodollar, the following is a good explanation of the petrodollar from a recent article by Christopher Doran…
In a nutshell, any country that wants to purchase oil from an oil producing country has to do so in U.S. dollars. This is a long standing agreement within all oil exporting nations, aka OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The UK for example, cannot simply buy oil from Saudi Arabia by exchanging British pounds. Instead, the UK must exchange its pounds for U.S. dollars. The major exception at present is, of course, Iran.
This means that every country in the world that imports oil—which is the vast majority of the world’s nations—has to have immense quantities of dollars in reserve. These dollars of course are not hidden under the proverbial national mattress. They are invested. And because they are U.S. dollars, they are invested in U.S. Treasury bills and other interest bearing securities that can be easily converted to purchase dollar-priced commodities like oil. This is what has allowed the U.S. to run up trillions of dollars of debt: the rest of the world simply buys up that debt in the form of U.S. interest bearing securities.
And all of this has worked out very nicely for the United States. It has created a massive demand for U.S. dollars and U.S. debt.
But what would happen if the rest of the world rejected the petrodollar system and adopted a “petrogold” system instead?
A recent article by Jim Willie discussed how a petrogold system might work…
The crux of the non-US$ trade vehicle devised as a USDollar alternative will be the Gold Trade Note. It will enable peer-to-peer payments to be completed from direct account transfers independent of currency, and most importantly, not done through the narrow pipes and channels controlled by the bankers with their omnipresent SWIFT code system among the world of banks. The Gold Trade Note will act much like a Letter of Credit, serve as a short-term bill, and maybe even push aside the near 0% short-term USTreasury Bills that litter the banking landscape. Any bond or bill earning almost no interest is veritable clutter. The zero bound USTreasurys open the door in a big way for replacement by a better vehicle. The new trade notes will involve posted gold as collateral, whose entire system for trade usage will bear a massive gold core that also will include silver and platinum, maybe other precious metals. The idea is to avoid the FOREX systems, to avoid the USDollar, and to avoid the banks as much as possible in a peer-to-peer system that can be executed between parties holding Blackberry devices or simple PC to complete the payments on transactions. If Gold is ignored by the corrupt bankers, then Gold will be the center of the new trade system and the solution in providing a globally accepted USDollar alternative.
And Russia and China would greatly benefit from a petrogold system.
Today, Russia is the number one oil exporter on the planet.
China is the number two consumer of oil in the world, and at this point they are actually importing more oil from Saudi Arabia than the United States is.
Does it make sense that they should remain locked into a system that forces them to use U.S. dollars for all of their oil transactions?
And now Russia even has the number one oil company in the world. The following is from a recent article by Marin Katusa…
Exxon Mobil is no longer the world’s number-one oil producer. As of yesterday, that title belongs to Putin Oil Corp – oh, whoops. I mean the title belongs to Rosneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil company.
Rosneft is buying TNK-BP, which is a vertically integrated oil company co-owned by British oil firm BP and a group of Russian billionaires known as AAR. One of the top-ten privately owned oil producers in the world, in 2010 TNK-BP churned out 1.74 million barrels of oil equivalent per day from its assets in Russia and Ukraine and processed almost half that amount through its refineries.
With TNK-BP in its hands, Rosneft will be in charge of more than 4 million barrels of oil production a day. And who is in charge of Rosneft? None other than Vladimir Putin, Russia’s resource-full president.
And Russian gas giant Gazprom supplies a huge percentage of the natural gas that Europe uses…
Gazprom, the Russian state gas company, already has Europe wrapped around its little finger. Russia supplies 34% of Europe’s gas needs, and when the under-construction South Stream pipeline starts operating, that percentage will increase. As if those developments weren’t enough, yesterday Gazprom offered the highest bid to obtain a stake in the massive Leviathan gas field off Israel’s coast.
Gazprom in control of Europe’s gas, Rosneft in control of its oil. A red hand stretching out from Russia to strangle the supremacy of the West and pave the way for a new world order– one with Russia at the helm.
Russia and China have a tremendous amount of leverage when it comes to energy. What if they got together with a bunch of oil producing nations in the Middle East and decided to set up a system where oil is traded for gold? Would not much of the rest of the world go along with such a system?
Of course if that happened the U.S. financial system would crash. We would no longer be able to export our inflation to the rest of the globe and prices would rise dramatically. Demand for U.S. government debt would go through the floor and interest rates on that debt and on everything else in our economy would skyrocket. Economic activity would grind to a standstill and the financial markets would collapse.
And that would just be for starters.
Most Americans simply don’t understand that Russia and China have the power to collapse the U.S. economy by going to a gold for oil system. All they have to do is pull the trigger.
The euro was a doomed project from the start, and now we are starting to see the endgame play out. Today, the euro fell to an 11-month low against the U.S. dollar. As I write this, the EUR/USD is at 1.2983. Back in July, the EUR/USD was over 1.45. As panic has swept the financial markets, the euro has lost more than 3 percent over the past three days. But this is just the beginning. When the euro drops below 1.20, analysts will talk about the collapse of the euro. When the euro falls toward parity with the dollar, headlines around the world will scream about the death of the euro. But when the European financial system finally collapses, we may very well actually see the end of the euro. Yes, it actually could happen. The eurozone, as it is currently constructed, simply does not work. You just can’t take 17 different nations that have 17 different fiscal policies, 17 different tax policies and 17 different economic agendas and cram them all into a single currency and expect the thing to work. The euro is a doomed currency, and if a big nation like Germany decides to walk away at some point the game is going to be over.
It is not as if the euro is just having a bad week. Just check out this chart that shows what the euro has done relative to the U.S. dollar over the past 6 months.
The truth is that a collapse of the euro has already begun.
And a whole lot of investors expect it to continue. Right now, huge amounts of money are being poured into bets that the euro is going to go even lower.
All over the world, financial professionals are speculating about how far the euro will eventually fall. Scott Mather, the head of global bond portfolio management at PIMCO, says that he believes that the euro is going to go much, much lower….
“Parity with the dollar next year is not out of the question”
Of course the central banks of the world could step in at some point with coordinated action to help support the value of the euro. This kind of thing has happened before. But such support would only be temporary.
Central banks can manipulate the markets for a while, but in the end the long-term trends are going to prevail. Just look at what is happening with European bond yields.
European bond yields are rising once again even though the European Central Bank has already spent over 274 billion dollars buying up European government bonds.
There will be more efforts to try to prevent the death of the euro, but those efforts will be kind of like spitting into the wind.
The problems of the Eurozone’s flawed construct are now completely exposed. A block of 17 sovereign nations have adopted a common currency and outsourced monetary policy to a common central bank. Yet each of the 17 sovereign nations have different comparative advantages, industries, debt levels, interest rates, budget deficits, labor market rules, and tax policies. Reflecting on all the differences, it is amazing that the Eurozone has survived in the current construct for over a decade.
Greece would probably not be going through an economic depression right now if they had not joined the euro. But now, 100,000 businesses have closed since the beginning of the recent crisis and a third of the country is living in poverty.
As this crisis spreads throughout the rest of Europe, it is going to put an incredible amount of stress on the European financial system. Many now believe that the euro may not be able to make it through the tough times that are ahead.
“We seem to have entered the last days of the euro as we currently know it. That doesn’t make a break-up very likely, but it does mean some extraordinary things will almost certainly need to happen – probably by mid-January – to prevent the progressive closure of all the euro zone sovereign bond markets, potentially accompanied by escalating runs on even the strongest banks.”
So will we actually see the end of the euro?
Only time will tell.
But one thing is for sure – the situation in Europe is rapidly getting worse.
In Greece, approximately 20 percent of all bank deposits have been withdrawn since the start of 2011.
If you still have money in a Greek bank, you might want to do something about it before the run on the banks gets even worse.
In fact, if you still have money in any European bank, you might want to consider your options.
Today it was revealed that Germany’s second largest bank is going to need a bailout.
Germany’s second largest bank, Commerzbank, is reportedly in discussions with the German government about a bailout after regulators said it needed to raise more money to cope with a potential default on its loans to governments.
“Intense talks” have been going on for several days, according to sources who spoke to the news agency Reuters.
Let the bailouts begin!
European governments are going to save the banks that they want to save, and the rest they are going to let fail.
So who will live and who will die?
We just don’t know.
But without a doubt, a whole lot of European banks are in trouble. In fact, Fitch Ratings downgraded the credit ratings of five more major European banks on Wednesday.
The eurozone worked well for a while, but now the flaws in the system are becoming appallingly evident. To get an idea of just how badly the European financial system is unraveling, just check out this chart. European bond yields are not supposed to be acting like that.
In the end, someone is going to leave the euro. There has been a lot of talk about Greece or Italy leaving the euro, but the truth is that it is probably more likely that a strong nation such as Germany will be the first to make a move.
If Germany leaves the euro, will they start printing up new German currency?
No, I believe in that case that Germany would seek to establish an entirely new European currency for an entirely new European financial system. Germany is very committed to the idea of a “European superstate“, and just because the euro is a failure does not mean that they are ready to give up on the idea.
But time will tell who is right and who is wrong.
For much more on why we are on the verge of a massive financial collapse in Europe, please check out these articles….
As I have written about previously, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what is happening in Europe. The equation is simple….
Brutal austerity + toxic levels of government debt + rising bond yields + a lack of confidence in the financial system + banks that are massively overleveraged + a massive credit crunch = A financial implosion of historic proportions
Unfortunately, the United States is not going to escape all of this chaos unscathed either.
The financial systems of the United States and Europe are more deeply tied together than ever before. When the financial crisis in Europe fully erupts, we are going to see lots of banks in the United States fail too.
The U.S. economy never recovered from the financial crisis of 2008, and this next financial crisis could send us into a huge tailspin.
2012 is going to be a very interesting year for the financial world. I hope that you all are ready for what is about to happen.
The entire U.S. financial system has become a gigantic shell game. While it is still in motion, a shell game can be mesmerizing to watch. But when it ends the consequences can be painful. So exactly what is a shell game? According to Wikipedia, a shell game “is portrayed as a gambling game, but in reality, when a wager for money is made, it is a confidence trick used to perpetrate fraud.” Sadly, that is exactly what is happening on the global stage today. The Federal Reserve is like a con artist that is desperately trying to stay one step ahead of everyone else. The folks at the Fed know that the debt that the U.S. government has accumulated is not sustainable and will eventually collapse. They also know that the U.S. dollar is eventually going to become essentially worthless. But for now the Federal Reserve is putting on a grand show and is trying to keep everyone believing that the game is fair and legitimate.
The Federal Reserve’s much ballyhooed “QE2” program has come to an end, and most Americans still don’t even understand what “quantitative easing” is.
Basically, what the Federal Reserve did was zap hundreds of billions of dollars into existence out of thin air and used them to buy U.S. government debt.
It is kind of like if you are playing poker with someone and they reach under the table and pull out a gigantic pile of chips which they add to their own stack.
In the process, the big banks made a ton of money because they are the ones that the Federal Reserve was buying U.S. Treasuries from and the U.S. government was happy because all of the new government debt being issued was getting soaked up by the system.
Of course all of this is one giant Ponzi scheme, but up to this point the Federal Reserve has gotten away with it.
Meanwhile, average Americans were getting the short end of the stick because all of this new money has been causing the price of food and the price of gas to go up.
But now QE2 has come to an end.
So does that mean that “quantitative easing” is going to be completely over?
No, not really. The shell game continues.
The Federal Reserve has announced that it is going to continue to purchase U.S. government debt using the proceeds from maturing debt that it already owns. It is being projected that the Federal Reserve will purchase 300 billion dollars in U.S. government debt over the next 12 months using this method.
QE2 is just about done. But the Federal Reserve will still be buying massive amounts of long-term Treasuries.
In fact, the Fed’s purchases over the next year will likely be at least $300 billion. That’s half the size of QE2 — even if QE3 never takes place.
But “quantitative easing” is just one example of a shell game run by the Fed. There have been lots more.
For example, during the financial crisis the Federal Reserve started loaning gigantic amounts of cash to the big banks for next to nothing.
The big banks took a lot of this cash and invested it in U.S. Treasuries. U.S. Treasuries typically only pay a couple of percentage points, but when you can borrow massive amounts of nearly free money suddenly they become extremely profitable.
Instead of loaning out large amounts of money to all of us to get the economy rolling again, the big banks just parked huge amounts of cash in U.S. Treasuries and watched the risk-free profits come rolling in.
In this way, the Federal Reserve helped big banks make a ton of money and they supported the exploding federal government debt load at the same time.
The chart below shows that the amount of U.S. government securities owned by the banks has increased exponentially since the beginning of the financial crisis. This is not an accident….
The Federal Reserve does lots of stuff like this. They know that they will probably never get audited and they know that the American people don’t understand all of this financial stuff, so they get away with it.
But what if something came along and suddenly interrupted the shell games that the Fed is playing?
Well, that is exactly what this debt ceiling debate threatens to do.
If the U.S. defaults, even for a short time, all of the financial shell games and Ponzi schemes are going to be greatly jeopardized.
If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd, the U.S. government will start defaulting, and that would unleash a tremendous amount of chaos.
A recent USA Today article described some of the things that might happen if the government was not able to borrow any more money later this summer….
If Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, payments to defense contractors and interest payments on Treasury bonds were exempt, that would be all the government could afford for the month. No money for troops or veterans. No tax refunds. No food stamps or welfare. No federal salaries or benefits.
In addition, financial markets all over the world would be severely rattled. If the default only lasted a couple of days it would not be bad, but if the U.S. ended up defaulting on debts for weeks or months it really would be cataclysmic.
The International Monetary Fund warned this week that a failure to raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd would be a “severe shock” to global financial markets.
In this case, the IMF is actually right. In fact, a “severe shock” would be an understatement.
The managing director of Standard & Poor’s has told Reuters that if the U.S. starts defaulting, the credit rating on U.S. Treasury bonds that are supposed to mature on August 4th will go all the way down from AAA to D….
Chambers, who is also the chairman of S&P’s sovereign ratings committee, told Reuters on Tuesday that U.S. Treasury bills maturing on August 4 would be rated ‘D’ if the government fails to honor them. Unaffected Treasuries would be downgraded as well, but not as sharply, he said.
“If the U.S. government misses a payment, it goes to D,” Chambers said. “That would happen right after August 4, when the bills mature, because they don’t have a grace period.”
A lot of Americans believe that Congress should just refuse to raise the debt ceiling and let the whole system crash. But the reality is that most Americans simply have no idea how much of a financial disaster that would be for the entire globe.
Yes, the U.S. national debt is completely and totally out of control. Yes, something must be done about it urgently.
But defaulting on our debts and wrecking global financial markets is not going to solve much of anything.
Sadly, even if we do not default on our debts this year, the reality is that the U.S. government debt bubble is going to collapse one way or another eventually.
The path that we are currently on is not even close to sustainable.
Even as our debt expands exponentially, the U.S. economy is being systematically dismantled and we are becoming poorer as a nation.
As I have written about previously, jobs and businesses are leaving the United States at a staggering rate because of cheap labor overseas and because of ridiculous regulations. The business environment in this country has become incredibly toxic.
Stanford University’s David Cheriton was instrumental in helping Sergey Brin and Larry Brin develop Google. Now he is warning that the anti-business policies of Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress are wrecking the economy….
“When you look at, say, Larry and Sergey of Google, they made billions of dollars, but they contributed many more billions of dollars to the US economy. And so we should be empowering these people; we should be cultivating more of the next generation of those types. And yet, I think there’s almost a hostile attitude towards people who have been successful in this country.”
As I wrote about the other day, the rate of new business creation in the United States has been declining steadily since the 1980s. We won’t have a chance at a real economic recovery until the creation of small businesses is encouraged once again.
But today businesses of all sizes are trying to avoid U.S. taxation. Right now, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the entire world. Sadly, all businesses have a great deal of incentive to avoid incorporating in the United States.
As savvy investors and entrepreneurs search for ways to minimize the impact of the U.S. tax system, with its relatively high rates and global reach, they are increasingly incorporating overseas, tax experts say. Some private-equity firms have relocated U.S. companies or divisions to tax-haven countries. U.S. multinational companies have spun off foreign subsidiaries in tax havens. U.S. start-ups are even beginning life offshore.
Large numbers of really good companies are fleeing the United States.
What we are doing is not working.
So what is the answer?
Well, as I have said before, we need to entirely scrap the current tax system and come up with something that works in the 21st century.
But we all know that is not going to happen.
Meanwhile, our economy continues to unravel. According to the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate rose in 210 metro areas during the month of May, and it only declined in 131 metro areas.
Are we on the verge of a dollar collapse? Don’t believe the skeptics. The truth is that there is no currency in the world that is stronger than the old greenback. The U.S. dollar is the reserve currency of the world. Virtually all of the nations on the face of the earth use it for trading and they always will. Why? Because the U.S. dollar is awesome. No currency on earth can compete with our awesomeness. So what that the dollar hit a new all-time record low against the Swiss franc today? Do you really want to move over with the Swissies and eat chocolate and make watches? No, you want to live in the land of American Idol, the NFL and apple pie – the good old USA. Who cares if it takes about a dollar and a half to buy a single euro now? Do you really want to go live with the Frenchies and eat a bunch of French bread while you wear a beret every day? Of course not. There isn’t going to be a dollar collapse. As long as the USA is still number one the rest of the world is still going to need U.S. dollars. So quit your worrying.
The other day all of the “doom and gloomers” were crying that the sky was falling because the U.S. dollar had fallen for 8 trading days in a row. They were proclaiming that the “end of the dollar” was near because the dollar index was approaching a new record low.
The following is how an article from yesterday in the Washington Post described the recent slide of the dollar….
The dollar has fallen against a basket of six major currencies — the euro, Japanese yen, British pound, Canadian dollar, Swiss franc and Swedish krona — for the past eight trading days. That measure struck its lowest point since July 2008 on Monday, at 72.72. It hit bottom in April 2008 at 71.33. Its highest point since the euro’s creation was 120.92 in July 2001.
Well guess what?
The dollar index moved back up today.
That is what happens – currencies go up and currencies go down.
There is no need to get your pants in a twist over it.
When the U.S. dollar goes down, it makes our products more affordable overseas. When other nations buy more of our stuff that helps our businesses.
So when the dollar declines a little bit that is nothing to be alarmed about.
So far in 2011, the U.S. dollar has only lost about 6.5 percent of its value.
Should we be freaking out about a measly 6.5 percent?
I don’t think so.
Do you want an even “scarier” number?
The dollar has fallen by 17 percent compared to other major national currencies since 2009.
Oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh – are you frightened out of your mind yet?
You better run outside Chicken Little – the sky might be falling.
The problem is that there are so many tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorists running around declaring that the U.S. dollar is dying that some people are actually starting to believe it.
Do you want proof that the U.S. dollar is going to be just fine?
“Our policy has been and will always be, as long as I will be in office, that a strong dollar is in the interest of the country.”
You have the very words of the U.S. Treasury Secretary right there.
He has promised the we “will always” have a strong dollar policy.
Geithner has said it and that settles it.
Who are you going to believe? Are you going to believe the U.S. Treasury Secretary or are you going to believe a bunch of crazy Internet bloggers with blogs with titles such as “Economic Disaster” and “The American Dream Has Been Flushed Down The Toilet”?
Let’s get real.
The U.S. dollar is just fine and there is not going to be some mythical “dollar collapse”.
But isn’t the price of gasoline going up?
Sure it is.
But that isn’t the fault of the Federal Reserve. They don’t set prices for gasoline.
The reality is that prices for different things go up and down. That is what a free market economy looks like.
Right now the price of gasoline is actually lower than it was back in 2008….
So shouldn’t we actually be talking about falling gasoline prices?
I don’t know about you, but I sure am glad to be paying less for gasoline than I was back in mid-2008.
But the tinfoil hat crowd will “cherry pick” statistics to make it seem like things are worse than they really are. They will break out scary sounding statistics such as the fact that over the past 12 months the average price of gasoline in the United States has gone up by about 30%.
LOL – cry me a river. Life is tough. People will cry over just about anything these days.
Who really cares that the average American driver will spend somewhere around $750 more for gasoline in 2011?
That is just a sign that the economic recovery is in full swing.
Do you know how much all of that money is going to help our oil companies?
They are going to be swimming in cash, and all of that wealth will “trickle down” and help out the folks on main street.
You would think that the half-crazed economic bloggers out there would be thrilled by all of this, but no – they just keep trotting out the “inflation boogeyman” over and over and over.
Well, you know what?
According to no less of an authority than Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, we basically have close to zero inflation in the United State right now.
You believe the Federal Reserve, don’t you?
If not, there is probably something wrong with you.
Unfortunately, we have got a whole bunch of these self-proclaimed “experts” (who are really just legends in their own minds) running around proclaiming that inflation is not calculated the same way that it used to be.
Well, you know what? They are right. But it isn’t some great conspiracy. The truth is that we have “improved” the way that inflation is calculated 24 times since 1978.
The government is always trying to become more accurate.
What is wrong with that?
But today we have a bunch of amateurs running around trying to tell us what the “real” rate of inflation actually is.
For example, a New York post analysis claims that the rate of inflation in New York City has been about 14 percent over the past year.
So how many prices did they measure?
Who are you going to trust more – the Federal Reserve or the New York Post?
Perhaps the New York Post should just stick to reporting on the latest Elvis sighting and leave economics to the big boys.
If hack reporting by publications like the New York Post wasn’t bad enough, we’ve also got numbskulls like John Williams from a website called “Shadow Government Statistics” running around proclaiming that the sky is going to fall because of U.S. government debt.
The following is a sampling of the smelly stuff that Williams is spreading around….
S&P is noting the U.S. government’s long-range fiscal problems. Generally, you’ll find that the accounting for unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and other programs on a net-present-value (NPV) basis indicates total federal debt and obligations of about $75 trillion. That’s 15 times the gross domestic product (GDP). The debt and obligations are increasing at a pace of about $5 trillion a year, which is neither sustainable nor containable. If the U.S. was a corporation on a parallel basis, it would be headed into bankruptcy rather quickly.
Does anyone actually believe any of that nonsense?
How long has Williams been predicting that U.S. government finances are going to collapse?
Yes, he has been doing it for a very, very long time.
Has the sky fallen yet?
Are we living in an economic wasteland?
Has there been a U.S. dollar collapse?
Look around you – everything is just fine.
Every time the U.S. economy has had a recession in the past, what has happened?
The economy has recovered and has gotten larger than ever.
And that is exactly what is happening again.
But sadly, there are more Americans than ever that actually believe that we are headed for economic disaster. In fact, there are some websites where they actually debate what the best place to live in the United States will be when the “economic collapse” happens.
Can you believe that?
People need to grow up.
Yes, the U.S. government is in debt. That should be no surprise. U.S. government debt is normal. The truth is that our financial system is designed to have U.S. government debt constantly expand and for there to always be a little bit of inflation in the system.
When the U.S. government goes into more debt, more money is created. If there was no debt in our society there would be no money.
So all of these bozos that claim that they want to get rid of all government debt don’t know what they are talking about.
We need to trust that the experts over at the Federal Reserve know what they are doing. The prudent moves by Ben Bernanke have helped the economy to recover after the horrible financial crisis of 2008. Instead of being criticized, he should be commended. There is a reason why he was named “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine in 2009.
The Federal Reserve is watching inflation. If it starts spiking up a little bit they will stomp it out. They know what they are doing.
This is 2011 – the people running things were produced by some of the greatest academic institutions on the planet. Nothing is going to catch them by surprise. They know exactly what our problems are and how to solve them.
So quit listening to the tinfoil hat crowd. Yes, the U.S. dollar will fluctuate a little bit relative to other major currencies. That is nothing to be alarmed about.
There is not going to be a dollar collapse so stop waiting for one. The U.S. dollar is always going to be the greatest currency on earth. Why? Because the United States is the greatest nation on earth.
After all, what other nation on earth could produce Justin Bieber, Jim Carrey, Simon Cowell, Pamela Anderson, Catherine Middleton, Michael J. Fox, Seth Rogen, Brendan Fraser, Jason Priestly, Tom Green, Ryan Reynolds, Mike Myers, Kiefer Sutherland, Howie Mandel, Keanu Reeves and William Shatner?
Hopefully by now you have figured out that this is a satirical piece demonstrating how ridiculous much of the propaganda in the mainstream media really is. Thank you for taking the time to read my twisted attempt at humor.
The following is one statement that you should get used to seeing: “The price of gold set another record today.” Today, spot gold reached a new all-time record of $1461.91 an ounce before settling back a little bit. Silver is also skyrocketing. At one point today silver hit $39.75 an ounce. It seems inevitable that at some point we are going to be talking about $50 silver. The price of oil is also continuing to relentlessly march upwards. At last check U.S. oil was at about $108 a barrel. All of this is great news for those that are investing in gold, silver and oil, but all of this is also really bad news for the U.S. economy. Why? Well, because when these commodities go up in price it is a sign that the U.S. dollar is dying and that our country is getting closer to economic collapse.
Traditionally, there has been an inverse correlation between the price of gold and the value of the U.S. dollar. Usually when the U.S. dollar goes down, the price of gold goes up.
One of the main reasons why gold has been so strong over the past year is because the U.S. dollar has been rapidly losing value.
So why is the U.S. dollar declining?
Most economists point to all of the quantitative easing that the Federal Reserve has been doing.
So exactly what is quantitative easing?
Well, it is basically like playing Monopoly with someone that reaches under the table and pulls out a bunch of extra money when they are almost broke.
The Federal Reserve has been creating huge amounts of money out of thin air and has been pumping it into the financial system. It is essentially cheating, and it is highly inflationary. The rest of the world has not been amused.
But quantitative easing is not the only issue.
The truth is that whenever the U.S. government goes into more debt, more money is created. The U.S. has been running trillion dollar deficits for several years now, and this has created a lot of new money.
This is another reason why it is so important to get the U.S. government debt situation under control. The Obama administration is projecting that the budget deficit for this fiscal year will be about 1.6 trillion dollars. This is highly inflationary and it will continue to destroy the value of the dollar.
In addition, the rest of the world is beginning to have serious doubts about the sustainability of U.S. government debt. They are starting to lose faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasuries.
In fact, investors are losing faith in paper currencies all over the globe. The euro is on the verge of a massive crisis. On Tuesday, Moody’s downgraded Portuguese government debt for the second time in a month. Portugal needs a bailout, but they are far from alone. A half dozen European nations are experiencing a financial meltdown and the European debt crisis could spiral out of control at any moment.
Because of all of this financial instability, investors have been seeking some place safe to put their money.
For many investors, precious metals and commodities have been the answer.
In fact, silver has been doing even better than gold lately. On Wednesday, silver set a new 31-year high for the third day in a row.
People are even starting to talk about the possibility of $50 silver. Most analysts would have considered such talk complete nonsense a year ago.
But now nobody is laughing.
The price of oil is also soaring. Some of that is due to inflation, but not all of it. The truth is that when it comes to oil there are other factors at play.
Unfortunately, a high price for oil is far more damaging to the U.S. economy than a high price for gold is.
The U.S. economy has been designed to use massive amounts of cheap oil to transport massive quantities of goods over vast distances. When the price of oil goes to $100 or $150 a barrel, it fundamentally changes the dynamics of our economic system.
Nobody has ever been able to prove that the U.S. economy can successfully handle a price for oil over $100 for an extended period of time.
Do you remember what happened back in 2008? The price of oil hit a record high in June and then the entire financial system came unglued just a few months later.
The price of oil affects the price of almost everything else. Almost all forms of economic activity use energy. Almost all goods have to be transported a significant distance.
When the price of oil goes too high, some types of economic activity simply become unprofitable. If the price of oil stays this high from now on, there are many businesses across America that will be forced to close.
A high price for oil is also going to hit U.S. consumers really hard. According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is now $3.70.
Many are convinced that the average price of gasoline is going to shatter the all-time record of $4.11 that was set back in July 2008.
So how much did a gallon of gas cost a year ago?
One year ago the average price of a gallon of gasoline was just $2.83.
Over the past 12 months the average price of gasoline has gone up about 30%.
So has your paycheck gone up by 30% over that time?
The truth is that wages have been very stagnant in the United States for a long, long time.
That means that U.S. household budgets are being increasingly stretched. People have to fill up their cars so that they can get to work or to school. Americans can cut back on pleasure driving to save money, but most of the driving that all of us do is to get to places that we have to be.
So if gas costs more that means that consumers are going to have less to spend other places. Consumer spending accounts for approximately 70 percent of the U.S. economy, so any slowdown in U.S. consumer spending would be extremely significant.
Already a substantial percentage of the American people are feeling quite stressed about gas prices.
We are heading for some really difficult economic times. As I wrote about recently, this economy has millions of Americans feeling depressed, but that is not the appropriate response.
Rather, once we understand how bad our economic problems are we should feel empowered because then we can start focusing on real solutions.
And somebody really needs to start focusing on solutions because panic is starting to abound. Many top corporate insiders are selling off stock like there is no tomorrow. The biggest bond fund in the world, PIMCO, has been getting rid of all of their U.S. Treasuries. When Wall Street big shots start freaking out you know that the hour is late.
It certainly doesn’t help that the Middle East is in a state of chaos and that the Japanese economy is falling apart as a result of the recent disasters.
In these uncertain times investors are seeking something safe. They are turning to real “global currencies” such as gold, silver and oil. Paper currencies are rapidly losing favor and rampant inflation is on the horizon.
So where do all of you think that gold, silver and oil are going? Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….
If the U.S. dollar is being devalued so rapidly, then why does it sometimes increase in value against other global currencies? Well, it is because everybody is recklessly printing money now. The 6 charts which you are about to see below prove this. The truth is that it is not just the U.S. Federal Reserve which has been printing money like there is no tomorrow. Out of control money printing has also been happening in the UK, in the EU, in Japan, in China and in India. There are times when one particular global currency will fall faster than the others, but the reality is that they are all being rapidly devalued. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for a global economic nightmare.
Right now you can almost smell the panic as it rises in global financial markets. Investors all over the world are racing to get out of paper and to get into hard assets. Just about anything that is “real” and “tangible” is hot right now. Gold hit a record high last year and it is on the rise again. In fact, it just hit a new five-week high. Demand for silver is becoming absolutely ridiculous right now. Oil is marching up towards $100 a barrel again. Agricultural commodities have exploded in price over the past year. Many investors are even gobbling up art and other collectibles.
Paper money is no longer considered to be safe. All over the globe investors are watching all of the reckless money printing that has been going on and they are becoming alarmed. An increasing number of investors and financial institutions are putting their wealth into hard assets that are real and tangible in an effort to preserve their wealth.
The other day, a reader of this column named James sent me some charts that he had put together. I thought they were so good that I asked him if I could include them in an article. These charts show how central banks all over the globe have been recklessly printing money. Over the last 30 years virtually the entire world has developed a great love affair with fiat currency….
Of course anyone with half a brain can see where all of this is ultimately headed. In the end, inflation is going to spiral out of control and we are going to witness financial implosion on a global scale.
So why don’t these nations just adopt sound money?
Well, it turns out that if you are a member of the IMF, you are specifically prohibited from having gold-backed currency.
Yes, you read that correctly.
In fact, U.S. Representative Ron Paul once sent an open letter to the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve asking about this and he received no response. The following is the content of that letter….
I am writing regarding Article 4, Section 2b of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s Articles of Agreement. As you may be aware, this language prohibits countries who are members of the IMF from linking their currency to gold. Thus, the IMF is forbidding countries suffering from an erratic monetary policy from adopting the most effective means of stabilizing their currency. This policy could delay a country’s recovery from an economic crisis and retard economic growth, thus furthering economic and political instability.
I would greatly appreciate an explanation from both the Treasury and the Federal Reserve of the reasons the United States has continued to acquiesce in this misguided policy. Please contact Mr. Norman Singleton, my legislative director, if you require any further information regarding this request. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
U.S. House of Representatives
Sadly, the truth is that the global elite don’t want nations to start adopting gold-backed currencies. They want countries to use fiat currencies that they can openly manipulate for their own benefit.
At this point, every nation on earth (to the best of my knowledge) uses a fiat currency. All of the major global currencies are being continually devalued. In fact, there are times when counties will purposely devalue their currencies even more rapidly in order to gain a competitive advantage in world trade.
This is why so many investors now have such an aversion to paper currency. It starts losing value the moment you take possession of it.
In some areas of the world, “gold fever” is absolutely exploding. For example, China imported five times as much gold in 2010 as it did in 2009. On the Shanghai Gold Exchange, trading volume soared 43 percent during the first 10 months of 2010.
Gold, silver and other precious metals are now seen as a great hedge against inflation worldwide. Investors all over the globe are demonstrating a strong preference for “real money” over “paper money”.
So what does all of this mean?
It means that some tremendous imbalances are being built up in the global financial system. The central banks of the world must continue to inflate these bubbles with constantly increasing amounts of paper money and debt in order to keep the game going. If at some point the reckless money printing comes to a screeching halt it is going to unleash hell on global financial markets.
But if all of this reckless money printing continues we are eventually going to see horrific inflation all over the planet. In fact, we are already seeing significant inflation happening in many areas of the globe. Almost every single day a new headline about inflation in China seems to pop up in the financial news. Rising food prices are sparking unrest in the Middle East and elsewhere. Even U.S. consumers are starting to see some uncomfortable price increases at the gas pump and in the supermarket.
So it is not just Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that is off his rocker. The whole world is going crazy with money printing.
Hopefully this whole thing is not going to end as badly as many of us fear that it will. But right now the central banks of the world are pumping unprecedented amounts of cash into the global financial system, and those in the global financial system are funneling a very large percentage of that cash into hard assets. Unless something changes, that is going to mean that prices for basic necessities such as food and gas are going to continue to rise.
For decades, the U.S. dollar has been the reserve currency of the world. This has given the United States an extraordinary amount of economic power, but as the U.S. economy has started to come apart over the past decade, other nations have increasingly sought to move away from the U.S. dollar and find other alternatives. For a long time it was thought that the Euro would become the next great reserve currency of the world. However, the recent Greek debt crisis, along with massive financial instability in nations such as Portugal, Spain and Italy, has caused investors to rapidly lose confidence in the Euro. In fact there are even some whispers that the Euro may not even survive the sovereign debt crisis as it sweeps across Europe. With both the U.S. dollar and the Euro looking shaky, investors have been searching somewhere safe to put their money. Increasingly, they have been turning to gold. So has gold now become a new reserve currency? Will all of this new demand drive the price of gold into unprecedented territory?
Well, the truth is that as long as paper currencies around the world continue to show instability, gold will continue to be a preferred choice. Nations all over the world are looking for ways to diversify their very large foreign exchange reserves. For example, China now has approximately $2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, and has been wanting to reduce its position in U.S. dollars for quite some time now.
But where should they put their money?
The Euro is coming apart like a 20 dollar suit. There is a very real fear that Greece is only the first domino to fall and that soon nations like Italy, Spain and Portugal will be begging the IMF for assistance as the sovereign debt crisis sweeps across Europe.
Well, what about the British pound? The truth is that the pound is not very appealing right now because the U.K. is facing a massive government debt crisis as well. In fact, Bank of England governor Mervyn King recently warned that public anger over the “austerity measures” that soon must be implemented in the U.K. will be so intense that whatever party wins this election will be out of power for a generation.
Well, how about the Japanese yen? Ironically, there has been a move towards the Japanese yen in recent days, but the truth is that the Japanese debt situation is one of the worst in the world. Japan’s gross public debt has reached 201 percent of GDP and Japan’s battle with deflation dragged into its 13th straight month in March. No, the yen is not safe at all.
So does that bring us back to the U.S. dollar? No. There is a reason why nations all over the world have been wanting to get out of the U.S. dollar. The United States has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and even official U.S. government reports admit that the U.S. government is on a financial path that is not even close to sustainable. The U.S. economy is caught in a death spiral, and that makes the U.S. dollar very unsafe.
So, what is safe at this point?
Well, gold is.
The price of gold rose to $1,210 an ounce on Friday. The terms “flight to quality” and “safe haven” are increasingly being used for the precious metal as investors flee all of the major global paper currencies.
Just consider some of the recent comments about gold by financial experts that have shown up in the news….
Fortunately, the overwhelming demand for gold is now pushing the price up despite efforts to suppress it.
In addition, once it becomes apparent that most of the “gold” that is traded in the world is not backed by the actual metal itself, the price of gold will go even higher.
For years, almost everyone has assumed that the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the world’s largest gold market, had actual gold to back up the massive “gold deposits” at the major LBMA banks.
But that is just not the case.
People are now starting to realize that there is very little actual gold in the LBMA system.
When most people think they are buying “gold”, what they are actually buying are just pieces of paper that say they own gold.
Egon von Greyerz of Matterhorn Asset Management in Switzerland recently elaborated on this point. He says that “a lot of people who have studied it closely are convinced that there is a major shortage in physical gold at LBMA. LBMA trades around 700 tons net of gold daily. That is 25% of world annual production and around $6 trillion annually. To back that amount of trading on a 100% reserve ratio basis, it would need several year’s production of physical gold, which they definitively haven’t got.”
So what is going to happen when investors start demanding physical delivery of the gold that they purchase?
It is going to create a huge mess.
Needless to say, if you are investing in gold make sure that you take physical delivery of the gold.
As the paper currenices all over the globe continue to unravel (as all debt-based paper currencies always do), all precious metals, including gold, will be increasingly in demand.
In fact, the idea of gold being a “reserve currency” is not anything new.
Gold has been a “reserve currency” for thousands of years, and those who understand history know that it will always remain one.