Venezuela is the 11th largest oil producing country in the entire world, and it has just announced that it is going to stop using the petrodollar. Most Americans don’t even know what the petrodollar is, but for those of you that do understand what I am talking about, this should send a chill up your spine. The petrodollar is one of the key pillars of the global financial system, and it allows us to live a far higher standard of living than we actually deserve. The dominance of the petrodollar has been very jealously guarded by our government in the past, and that is why many are now concerned that this move by Venezuela could potentially lead us to war.
I don’t know why this isn’t headline news all over the country, but it should be. One of the few major media outlets that is reporting on this is the Wall Street Journal…
The government of this oil-rich but struggling country, looking for ways to circumvent U.S. sanctions, is telling oil traders that it will no longer receive or send payments in dollars, people familiar with the new policy have told The Wall Street Journal.
Before we go any further, we should discuss what we mean by the “petrodollar” for those that are not familiar with the concept. The following comes from an excellent 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.
As will be explained below, the fact that virtually everyone around the world has to use our currency to buy oil is a massive advantage for us. Venezuela knows this, and so in response to new sanctions being imposed upon them, they are hitting us where it hurts…
Oil traders who export Venezuelan crude or import oil products into the country have begun converting their invoices to euros.
The state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA, known as PdVSA, has told its private joint venture partners to open accounts in euros and to convert existing cash holdings into Europe’s main currency, said one project partner.
The new payment policy hasn’t been publicly announced, but Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who has been blacklisted by the U.S., said Friday, “To fight against the economic blockade there will be a basket of currencies to liberate us from the dollar.”
If more nations start to follow suit, it would be absolutely disastrous for the United States.
In other articles, I have detailed why the petrodollar is so incredibly important to our economy and our financial system. The following is an extended excerpt from one of those previous articles…
Well, it creates a tremendous amount of demand for the U.S. dollar all over the globe. Since everyone has needed it to trade with one another, that has created an endless global appetite for the currency. That has kept the value of the dollar artificially high, and it has enabled us to import trillions of dollars of super cheap products from other countries. If other nations stopped using the dollar to trade with one another, the value of the dollar would plummet dramatically and we would have to pay much, much more for the trinkets that we buy at the dollar store and Wal-Mart.
In addition, since the U.S. dollar is essentially the de facto global currency, this has also increased demand for our debt. Major exporting nations such as China and Saudi Arabia end up with giant piles of our dollars. Instead of just letting them sit there and do nothing, those nations often reinvest their dollars into securities that can rapidly be changed back into dollars if needed. One of the most popular ways to do this has been to invest those dollars in U.S. Treasuries. This has driven down interest rates on U.S. debt over the years and has enabled the U.S. government to borrow trillions upon trillions of dollars for next to nothing.
But if the rest of the world starts moving away from the U.S. dollar, all of this could change.
History has shown that when the status of the petrodollar is threatened, the U.S. is swift to take action.
And it is very interesting to note that President Trump will be meeting with Latin American leaders next week, and the main topic for discussion will be “the Venezuela crisis”…
U.S. President Donald Trump has invited three Latin American leaders to dine with him next week in New York as he seeks to address the Venezuela crisis and build bridges with the region after an acrimonious start with neighbor Mexico.
The political and economic turmoil in Venezuela, source of 10 percent of the oil consumed by the United States, will almost certainly top the agenda when he receives the center-right presidents of Peru, Colombia and Brazil at Trump Tower on Monday evening, diplomats said.
Could this latest move by Venezuela be enough to potentially spark a military conflict?
Having threatened China today with exclusion from SWIFT, we suspect Washington is rapidly running out of any great ally to sustain the petrodollar-driven hegemony (and implicitly its war machine). Cue the calls for a Venezuelan invasion in 3…2..1…!
It would be absolutely no surprise at all if John McCain and Lindsey Graham start appearing on the major news networks calling for war with Venezuela, but hopefully President Trump will not listen to such nonsense.
No matter how important the petrodollar is, there is absolutely no reason to go to war to protect it.
And if war talk does begin, the American people need to make their voices heard very, very loudly. We have been in useless wars before, and we certainly do not need another one.
Venezuela and Yemen were both once very prosperous nations, but now parents are literally watching their children starve to death as the economies of both nations continue to utterly collapse. Just like so many here in the United States, most of those living in Venezuela and Yemen would have called you completely crazy if you would have warned them that this was going to happen five years ago. In particular, Venezuela has more proven oil reserves than almost anyone else on the planet, and so to most of their citizens it was unimaginable that things could ever get this bad. But it has happened, and the collapse that has already begun in parts of South America, Africa and the Middle East will soon spread elsewhere.
When I said that children are literally starving to death in Venezuela, I was not exaggerating one bit. The following comes from the Wall Street Journal…
Jean Pierre Planchart, a year old, has the drawn face of an old man and a cry that is little more than a whimper. His ribs show through his skin. He weighs just 11 pounds.
His mother, Maria Planchart, tried to feed him what she could find combing through the trash—scraps of chicken or potato. She finally took him to a hospital in Caracas, where she prays a rice-milk concoction keeps her son alive.
“I watched him sleep and sleep, getting weaker, all the time losing weight,” said Ms. Planchart, 34 years old. “I never thought I’d see Venezuela like this.”
What would you do if that was your child?
At one time Venezuela had the brightest outlook out of all the economies in South America, but now their economy has contracted by a total of 27 percent since 2013, imports of food have fallen 70 percent, and the IMF says that the inflation rate will hit a staggering 720 percent this year.
Tonight, in major cities all across Venezuela you will find thousands of people rummaging through garbage looking for food. It has been reported that some citizens have even resorted to eating cats, dogs and pigeons because they are so desperate for something to eat.
According to one survey, among those that said that they lost weight last year, the average amount lost was a staggering 19 pounds. In the United States that would be a good thing, but in a country like Venezuela that is an absolutely catastrophic number.
Eyes half open and sunken deep into their sockets, little Jamila Ali Abdu already looked half dead for most of her 12-day stay at the Hodeidah clinic.
Too weak to resist the march of disease and hunger in her war-battered country, the child’s tiny frame was swathed in a bright green shroud and lowered by sobbing relatives into a dusty grave on Tuesday.
The primary cause of the crisis in Yemen is a nightmarish civil war that is not going to end any time soon.
And most Americans don’t realize this, but the U.S. military has contributed to the civil war by conducting airstrikes. It is essentially a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and both sides are absolutely determined to win.
The ninth largest economy in the entire world is currently experiencing “its longest and deepest recession in recorded history”, and in a country right next door people are being encouraged to label their trash so that the thousands upon thousands of desperately hungry people that are digging through trash bins on the streets can find discarded food more easily. Of course the two nations that I am talking about are Brazil and Venezuela. The Brazilian economy was once the seventh largest on the globe, but after shrinking for eight consecutive quarters it has now fallen to ninth place. And in Venezuela the economic collapse has gotten so bad that more than 70 percent of the population lost weight last year due to a severe lack of food. Most of us living in the northern hemisphere don’t think that anything like this could happen to us any time soon, but the truth is that trouble signs are already starting to erupt all around us. It is just a matter of time before the things currently happening in Brazil and Venezuela start happening here, but unfortunately most people are not heeding the warnings.
Just a few years ago, the Brazilian economy was absolutely roaring and it was being hailed as a model for the rest of the world to follow. But now Brazil’s GDP has been imploding for two years in a row, and this downturn is being described as “the worst recession in recorded history” for that South American nation…
Latin America’s largest economy Brazil has contracted by 3.6 percent in 2016, shrinking for the second year in a row; statistics agency IBGE said on Tuesday. It confirmed the country is facing its longest and deepest recession in recorded history.
Data shows gross domestic product (GDP) fell for the eighth straight quarter in the three months to December, down 0.9 percent from the previous quarter. The figure was worse than the 0.5 percent decline economists had forecast and left the country’s overall GDP down 3.6 percent for the full year following a 3.8 percent drop in 2015.
“In real terms, GDP is now nine percent below its pre-recession peak,” Neil Shearing, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, told the Financial Times.
“This is comfortably the worst recession in recorded history,” he added.
It had been hoped that things in Brazil would be getting better by now, but instead they just keep getting worse.
The number of bankruptcy filings has soared to an all-time record high, and the official unemployment rate has more than doubled since the end of 2013. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
In a stunning deterioration, the unemployment rate in Brazil spiked to 12.6% in the rolling three-month period through January, a record in the new data series going back to 2012, according to Brazil’s statistical agency IBGE. Up from 11.8% in the three-month period through October. Up from an already terribly high 9.5% a year ago. And more than double the 6.2% in December 2013.
Meanwhile, hordes of hungry people are rummaging through garbage cans in Venezuela in order to find something to fill their aching stomachs.
Things have gotten so bad that one of President Maduro’s chief opponents has urged citizens to label which trash bags have food in them so that people that are searching through the garbage can find food scraps more easily…
Controversial Priest and opponent to President Nicolás Maduro’s administration Father Jose Palmar posted on social media this week about labeling discarded waste so those looking through it for food can do so more easily and “with dignity.”
Palmar called on Venezuelans to celebrate Lent by identifying bags where food has been discarded for those with no where else to turn. That way, they don’t have to dig through non-edible items to find it.
Thanks to chronically empty store shelves and severe food shortages, people in Venezuela are losing weight at an astounding pace. In the United States it would be a good thing if much of the population lost this much weight, but in Venezuela it definitely is not…
Three quarters of the country’s population lost an average of over 18 pounds over food shortages in 2016, according to a survey by Venezuelan universities and nonprofit groups. Last year, over 80 percent of foodstuffs disappeared from shelves and many had to get by with one meal a day, Foreign Policy reported.
Venezuela was once South America’s most powerful petrostate. But decades of government mismanagement sent the country into decline. Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez choked the economy with heavy-handed regulations, price controls, and a campaign to nationalize major industries that chased out foreign investments.
Further north, very alarming signs are starting to pop up in Mexico.
It probably won’t happen next week or next month, but there are indications of emerging “liquidity problems” which could precipitate a major debt crisis at some point…
In Mexico foreign investors hold around $100 billion of the country’s local-currency government debt, the most for any emerging market economy. That’s almost 20 times what it was 20 years ago. They also hold billions of euros worth of corporate bonds, which are also showing signs of strain, prompting some Mexican business leaders to call for “new programs” to be implemented before the situation causes “a large-scale crisis” among Mexican companies.
The most ominous sign yet came last week when Bloomberg reported sources saying that the Bank of Mexico (or Banxico, as it is referred to) had sought a swap line from the Federal Reserve in case of “liquidity problems,” which immediately triggered furious denials from Banxico. “I can say clearly and unequivocally that we are not in the process of asking for any credit line from any authority,” said the central bank’s governor, Agustin Carstens, who has postponed by six months his departure from the bank, initially scheduled for May.
One of the biggest problems for nations such as Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico is the strength of the U.S. dollar. During the good times they went into tremendous amounts of debt, and much of that debt was denominated in U.S. dollars. So when the U.S. dollar becomes stronger, it takes more of their own local currencies to pay that debt back.
And if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates at their next meeting, that will strengthen the U.S. dollar even more and put even more pressure on emerging market economies.
Even one small interest rate increase by the Fedcould have a sweeping impact on U.S. and world economies, Komal Sri-Kumar told CNBC on Monday.
“I think they are going to hike” on March 15, Sri-Kumar said on “Squawk Box,” echoing a theory shared by many analysts. “But that is going to prompt capital outflows from the euro zone, especially with the political risk. It is going to increase the capital outflow from China, and the U.S. economy will feel the impact.”
The global economy is more interconnected than ever before, and pain that starts in one region can rapidly spread to others.
The biggest debt bubble that the world has ever seen is starting to burst, and over the coming years we are going to see financial pain on a scale that would be unimaginable to most of us at this moment.
But even now there are those that would suggest that this colossal debt bubble can continue growing much faster than global GDP indefinitely, and this sort of exceedingly reckless optimism is leading many astray.
If you were hungry enough, would you kill and eat zoo animals? To most of us such a notion sounds absolutely insane, but this is actually happening in Venezuela right now. This is a country where people are standing in lines for up to 12 hours hoping that there will be food to buy that day, and where rioting and looting have become commonplace. So even though the U.S. economy is in dreadful shape at this moment, we should be thankful for what we have, because at least we are not experiencing a full-blown economic collapse yet like Venezuela currently is.
Black stallions can be some of the most beautiful horses on the entire planet, but things are so desperate down in Venezuela this summer that everything looks like food to some people at this point. What happened at the Caricuao Zoo on Sunday is so horrible that I actually debated whether or not to share it with you. Desperate people do desperate things, and when people get hungry enough they will do things such as this…
Venezuela’s worsening food shortages had tragic consequences for a rare show horse last weekend, when a group of intruders broke into the zoo, pulled the black stallion from its cage, then slaughtered it for meat.
Prosecutors say the crime occurred in the small hours of Sunday morning at Caracas’ Caricuao Zoo, when “several people” sneaked into the state-run park under the cover of darkness and busted into the stallion’s pen. The horse, the only one of its kind in the zoo, was then led to a more secluded area and butchered on the spot. Only its head and ribs were left behind in a gruesome pile for zookeepers to find after sunrise.
Unfortunately, this precious animal was not even the first victim at that particular zoo.
Sadly, this horse wasn’t the first zoo animal to suffer the effects of Venezuela’s crippling food shortages. Some Vietnamese pigs and sheep were reportedly stolen from the same zoo earlier this month.
Dozens of other zoo animals are slowing starving to death because there is no food available to give to them. In fact, it is being reported that at least 50 animals have died from lack of food at one zoo alone…
At least 50 animals have died in the last six months at the Caricuao zoo in Caracas, Venezuela, due to widespread food shortages that are affecting both man and beast in the socialist nation.
Marlene Sifontes, a union leader for employees of state parks agency Inparques which oversees zoos, told Reuters that the zoo lost Vietnamese pigs, tapirs, rabbits and birds after the animals went weeks without eating. Others animals at the zoo are in danger of severe malnutrition. Lions and tigers, which should be on a carnivorous diet, are being fed mango and pumpkin just to get something in their empty stomachs, while an elephant is being fed tropical fruit instead of its usual diet of hay, the union leader said. According to one report, the big cats are being fed slaughtered thoroughbred racehorses from a nearby race track.
If what you have just read hurts your heart, let us not forget that it is not just the animals that are suffering. There are millions of precious people down there that are living on the very edge of starvation as you read this article.
Earlier this year, one mayor came forward and admitted to the world that some people are so hungry that they are actually hunting “cats, dogs and pigeons” for food…
Ramón Muchacho, Mayor of Chacao in Caracas, said the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food.
Through Twitter, Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a “painful reality” that people “hunt cats, dogs and pigeons” to ease their hunger. People are also reportedly gathering vegetables from the ground and trash to eat as well.
The crisis in Venezuela is worsening everyday due in part to shortages reaching 70 percent […] six Venezuelan military officials were arrested for stealing goats to ease their hunger, as there was no food at the Fort Manaure military base.
With each passing week, the situation in Venezuela keeps on getting worse.
And even though the United States has made many of the exact same mistakes that Venezuela has made, most of us just assume that what is happening down there could never happen up here.
After all, we have “the greatest economy in the world” and we are “the wealthiest nation on the entire planet”, right?
And Barbra Streisand is so thrilled that Hillary Clinton is going to be our next president that she launched into a rousing rendition of “Happy Days Are Here Again” as she kicked off her farewell tour in Los Angeles. The following account comes from the Drudge Report…
So long sad times Go along bad times We are rid of you at last Howdy gay times Cloudy gray times You are now a thing of the past Happy days are here again The skies above are clear again So let’s sing a song of cheer again…
Streisand suddenly interrupted the lyric, realizing a Democrat was currently in the White House!
“By the way, I love Obama.”
Altogether shout it now There’s no one Who can doubt it now So let’s tell the world about it now Happy days are here again
So what is the truth?
Are we going to end up just like Venezuela, or are happy days here once more?
Unfortunately, I have a feeling that we are not going to have to wait too long to find out…
The full-blown economic collapse that is happening in Venezuela right now is a preview of what Americans will be experiencing in the not too distant future. Just a few years ago, most Venezuelans could never have imagined that food shortages would become so severe that people would literally hunt dogs and cats for food. But as you will see below, this is now taking place. Sadly, this is what the endgame of socialism looks like. When an all-powerful government is elevated far above all other institutions in society and radical leftists are given the keys to the kingdom, this is the result. Food shortages, looting and rampant violent crime have all become part of daily life in Venezuela, and we all need to watch as this unfolds very carefully, because similar scenarios will soon be playing out all over the planet.
The funny thing is that Venezuela actually has more “wealth” than most countries in the world. According to the CIA, Venezuela actually has more proven oil reserves than anyone else on the globe – including Saudi Arabia.
So how did such a wealthy nation find itself plunged into full-blown economic collapse so rapidly, and could a similar thing happen to us?
The president of Venezuela has declared a 60 day state of emergency in a desperate attempt to restore order, but most people don’t anticipate that it will do much good. Social order continues to unravel as the economy systematically implodes. The Venezuelan economy shrunk by 5.7 percent last year, and it is being projected that it will contract by another 8 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, inflation is raging wildly out of control. According to the IMF, the official inflation rate in Venezuela will be somewhere around 720 percent this year and 2,200 percent next year.
If people are able to get their hands on some money, they immediately rush out to the stores to use it before the prices go up again. This has created devastating shortages of food, basic supplies and medicine.
Electricity is also in short supply, and a two day workweek has been imposed on many government employees in a desperate attempt to save power. Violent crime is seemingly everywhere, and most law-abiding Venezuelans lock themselves in their homes at night as a result.
Much of the crime is being perpetrated by the mafia and the gangs, but sometimes it is just normal people looking for food. Desperate people do desperate things, and according to the Guardian there have been “107 episodes of looting or attempted looting in the first quarter of 2016″…
Crowds of people in Venezuela have stolen flour, chicken and even underwear this week as looting increases across the country in the wake of shortages of many basic products. Many people have adopted the habit of getting up in the dead of night to spend hours in long lines in front of supermarkets. But as more end up empty-handed and black market prices soar, plundering is rising in Venezuela, an Opec nation that was already one of the world’s most violent countries.
There is no official data, but the Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict, a rights group, have reported 107 episodes of looting or attempted looting in the first quarter of 2016. Videos of crowds breaking into shops, swarming on to trucks or fighting over products frequently make the rounds on social media, though footage is often hard to confirm.
Other Venezuelans have resorted to digging in dumpsters and trash cans for food. This many seem detestable to many Americans, but when you are desperately hungry you may be surprised at what you are willing to do.
Ramón Muchacho, Mayor of Chacao in Caracas, said the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food.
Through Twitter, Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a “painful reality” that people “hunt cats, dogs and pigeons” to ease their hunger.
You may be tempted to dismiss these people as “barbarians”, but someday Americans will be doing the exact same thing.
There has been a breakdown of basic social services in Venezuela as well. Acute shortages of drugs and medical supplies are having absolutely tragic results. When I read the following from the New York Times, this crisis in Venezuela become much more real to me…
By morning, three newborns were already dead.
The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting down the respirators in the maternity ward.
Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died.
So once again I ask – how did such a thing happen to such a wealthy nation?
The real culprit is chavismo, the ruling philosophy named for Chavez and carried forward by Maduro, and its truly breathtaking propensity for mismanagement (the government plowed state money arbitrarily into foolish investments); institutional destruction (as Chavez and then Maduro became more authoritarian and crippled the country’s democratic institutions); nonsense policy-making (like price and currency controls); and plain thievery (as corruption has proliferated among unaccountable officials and their friends and families).
Are not the same things happening here?
The U.S. government is mismanaging our money too. During Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House, the U.S. national debt has risen by more than eight trillion dollars. We waste money in some of the most bizarre ways imaginable, and at this point our national debt is nearly the double the size it was just prior to the last major financial crisis.
Institutional destruction is also a legacy of the Obama regime. With each passing day, our society resembles the Republic that our founders originally intended less and less, and it resembles socialist dictatorships more and more. We may as well not even have a Constitution anymore, because at this point nobody really follows it.
The third thing that Business Insider mentioned, “nonsense policy-making”, is a perfect description of what has been going on in Washington D.C. these days. Perhaps that is why Congress only has a 12.8 percent approval rating right now.
Lastly, thievery and corruption are also out of control in our nation too. The elite and special interest groups spend massive amounts of money to get their favorites into office, and in turn those politicians shower their good friends with money and favors. It is a very sick relationship, but that is how our system now works.
We are sitting on the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and our debt-fueled prosperity is completely dependent on the rest of the world lending us gigantic amounts of money at ridiculously low interest rates and continuing to use our increasingly shaky currency which we are debasing at a staggering pace.
We consume far more than we produce, and unlike Venezuela we aren’t sitting on hundreds of billions of barrels of oil. The amount of “real wealth” that we actually have does not justify our current standard of living. The only way that we are able to live the way that we do is by stealing consumption from the future. One study has found that our debt level is the highest that it has been since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and yet we continue to race down this road to economic oblivion without even thinking twice about it.
What you sow is what you will reap.
And just like Venezuela, America will ultimately reap a very bitter harvest.
The 7th largest economy on the entire planet is completely imploding. I have written previously about the economic depression that is plaguing Brazil, but since my last article it has gotten much, much worse. During 2015, Brazil’s economy shrank by 3.8 percent, but for the most recent quarter the decline was 5.89 percent on a year over year basis. Unemployment is rising rapidly, the inflation rate is up over 10 percent, and Brazilian currency has lost 24 percent of its value compared to the U.S. dollar over the past 12 months.
At this point, Brazil is already experiencing its longest economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and things are getting worse for ordinary Brazilians every single day. The following comes from CNN…
But with Brazil plunging into its worst recession in over two decades — hopes for a brighter future are fading. The Brazilian economy shrank 3.8% in 2015, according to government data published Thursday. That’s the biggest annual drop since 1990 and the country is in its longest recession since the 1930s.
“I have never seen anything like this,” said Alves, 24, as he stood on his balcony overlooking Rocinha, a massive lower middle class neighborhood or favela in Rio de Janeiro where he grew up. “My parents would tell me about hard times, but today it is really tough. Prices are going up every day.”
So how did this happen?
Well, there are a couple of factors that are really hurting South American economies.
Number one, during the “boom years” governments and businesses in South America absolutely gorged on debt. Unfortunately, many of those loans were denominated in U.S. dollars, and now that the U.S. dollar has appreciated greatly against local South American currencies it is taking far more of those local currencies to service and pay back those debts.
Number two, collapsing prices for oil and other commodities have been absolutely brutal for South American economies. They rely very heavily on exporting commodities to the rest of the world, and so at the same time their debt problems are exploding they are getting a lot less money for the oil and industrial commodities that they are trying to sell to North America, Asia and Europe.
I want you to pay close attention to the following chart and analysis from Zero Hedge. As you can see, the economic problems in Brazil appear to be greatly accelerating…
“The Brazilian economic downturn took a real turn for the worse in February,” according to Markit’s Composite PMI, which collapsed to record lows at 39.0. Despite a slightly less bad than expected GDP print this morning (still down a record 5.89% YoY), hope was quickly extinguished as PMIs showed economic activity continuing to contract at a record pace, job losses accelerating, and manufacturing’s collapse accelerating. As Market sums up, “With the global economy also showing signs of slowing, which will impact on external demand, it looks as if the downturn is set to continue to run its course in the coming months.”
GDP was a disaster (but better than expected)
And of course Brazil is not the only South American economy that is a basket case right now. In fact, things in Venezuela are far worse. In 2015, the Venezuelan economy shrunk by 10 percent, and the official rate of inflation was a staggering 181 percent.
Could you imagine living in an economy with a 181 percent inflation rate?
As prices have escalated out of control, citizens have attempted to hoard basic supplies in advance, and this has resulted in food shortages that are absolutely frightening…
Cardboard signs on the door warning of “No bread” have become increasingly common at Venezuelan bakeries.
Venezuela gets 96 percent of its foreign currency from oil exports, and as crude prices have plunged, so have the country’s imports — among them wheat.
The leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro has tightly controlled access to hard currency, and this has affected imports ranging from medicine to toilet paper. Now it is seriously affecting imports of wheat, which Venezuela does not grow.
Add to this the soaring inflation rate — 181 percent in 2015, the world’s highest — and you see why customers are mainly interested in buying basic food items such as bread.
Here in the United States, there are still people who doubt that an economic crisis is happening.
But in Venezuela and Brazil there is no debate.
Unfortunately, what is happening in Venezuela and Brazil is also slowly starting to happen to most of the rest of the planet as well. It is just that they are a little farther down the road. Economic and financial bubbles are bursting all over the world, and I like how author Vikram Mansharamani described this phenomenon during a recent interview with CNBC…
Deflationary tides are lapping the shores of countries across the world and financial bubbles are set to burst everywhere, Vikram Mansharamani, a lecturer at Yale University, told CNBC on Thursday.
“I think it all started with the China investment bubble that has burst and that brought with it commodities and that pushed deflation around the world and those ripples are landing on the shore of countries literally everywhere,” the high-profile author and academic said at the Global Financial Markets Forum in Abu Dhabi.
And of course the evidence of what Mansharamani was talking about is all around us.
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…
This time, the Federal Reserve has created a truly global problem. A big chunk of the trillions of dollars that it pumped into the financial system over the past several years has flowed into emerging markets. But now that the Fed has decided to begin “the taper”, investors see it as a sign to pull the “hot money” out of emerging markets as rapidly as possible. This is causing currencies to collapse and interest rates to soar all over the planet. Argentina, Turkey, South Africa, Ukraine, Chile, Indonesia, Venezuela, India, Brazil, Taiwan and Malaysia are just some of the emerging markets that have been hit hard so far. In fact, last week emerging market currencies experienced the biggest decline that we have seen since the financial crisis of 2008. And all of this chaos in emerging markets is seriously spooking Wall Street as well. The Dow has fallen nearly 500 points over the last two trading sessions alone. If the Federal Reserve opts to taper even more in the coming days, this currency crisis could rapidly turn into a complete and total currency collapse.
A lot of Americans have always assumed that the U.S. dollar would be the first currency to collapse when the next great financial crisis happens. But actually, right now just the opposite is happening and it is causing chaos all over the planet.
For instance, just check out what is happening in Turkey according to a recent report in the New York Times…
Turkey’s currency fell to a record low against the dollar on Friday, a drop that will hit the purchasing power of everyone in the country.
On a street corner in Istanbul, Yilmaz Gok, 51, said, “I’m a retiree making ends meet on a small pension and all I care about is a possible increase in prices.”
“I will need to cut further,” he said. “Maybe I should use my natural gas heater less.”
As inflation escalates and interest rates soar in these countries, ordinary citizens are going to feel the squeeze. Just having enough money to purchase the basics is going to become more difficult.
And this is not just limited to a few countries. What we are watching right now is truly a global phenomenon…
“You’ve had a massive selloff in these emerging-market currencies,” Nick Xanders, a London-based equity strategist at BTIG Ltd., said by telephone. “Ruble, rupee, real, rand: they’ve all fallen and the main cause has been tapering. A lot of companies that have benefited from emerging-markets growth are now seeing it go the other way.”
So why is this happening? Well, there are a number of factors involved of course. However, as with so many of our other problems, the actions of the Federal Reserve are at the very heart of this crisis. A recent USA Today article described how the Fed helped create this massive bubble in the emerging markets…
Emerging markets are the future growth engine of the global economy and an important source of profits for U.S. companies. These developing economies were both recipients and beneficiaries of massive cash inflows the past few years as investors sought out bigger returns fostered by injections of cheap cash from the Federal Reserve and other central bankers.
But now that the Fed has started to dial back its stimulus, many investors are yanking their cash out of emerging markets and bringing the cash back to more stable markets and economies, such as the U.S., hurting the developing nations in the process, explains Russ Koesterich, chief investment strategist at BlackRock.
“Emerging markets need the hot money but capital is exiting now,” says Koesterich. “What you have is people saying, ‘I don’t want to own emerging markets.'”
What we are potentially facing is the bursting of a financial bubble on a global scale. Just check out what Egon von Greyerz, the founder of Matterhorn Asset Management in Switzerland, recently had to say…
If you take the Turkish lira, that plunged to new lows this week, and the Russian ruble is at the lowest level in 5 years. In South Africa, the rand is at the weakest since 2008. The currencies are also weak in Brazil and Mexico. But there are many other countries whose situation is extremely dire, like India, Indonesia, Hungary, Poland, the Ukraine, and Venezuela.
I’m mentioning these countries individually just to stress that this situation is extremely serious. It is also on a massive scale. In virtually all of these countries currencies are plunging and so are bonds, which is leading to much higher interest rates. And the cost of credit-default swaps in these countries is surging due to the increased credit risks.
And many smaller nations are being deeply affected already as well.
For example, most Americans cannot even find Liberia on a map, but right now the actions of our Federal Reserve have pushed the currency of that small nation to the verge of collapse…
Liberia’s finance minister warned against panic today after being summoned to parliament to explain a crash in the value of Liberia’s currency against the US dollar.
“Let’s be careful about what we say about the economy. Inflation, ladies and gentlemen, is not out of control,” Amara Konneh told lawmakers, while adding that the government was “concerned” about the trend.
Closer to home, the Mexican peso tumbled quite a bit last week and is now beginning to show significant weakness. If Mexico experiences a currency collapse, that would be a huge blow to the U.S. economy.
Like I said, this is something that is happening on a global scale.
If this continues, we will eventually see looting, violence, blackouts, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks in emerging markets all over the planet just like we are already witnessing in Argentina and Venezuela.
Hopefully something can be done to stop this from happening. But once a bubble starts to burst, it is really difficult to try to hold it together.
Meanwhile, I find it to be very “interesting” that last week we witnessed the largest withdrawal from JPMorgan’s gold vault ever recorded.
Was someone anticipating something?
Once again, hopefully this crisis will be contained shortly. But if the Fed announces that it has decided to taper some more, that is going to be a signal to investors that they should race for the exits and the crisis in the emerging markets will get a whole lot worse.
And if you listen carefully, global officials are telling us that is precisely what we should expect. For example, consider the following statement from the finance minister of Mexico…
“We expected this year to be a volatile year for EM as the Fed tapers,” Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said, adding that volatility “will happen throughout the year as tapering goes on”.
Yes indeed – it is looking like this is going to be a very volatile year.
I hope that you are ready for what is coming next.
Have you been paying attention to what has been happening in Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Ukraine, Turkey and China? If you are like most Americans, you have not been. Most Americans don’t seem to really care too much about what is happening in the rest of the world, but they should. In major cities all over the globe right now, there is looting, violence, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks. We are not at a “global crisis” stage yet, but things are getting worse with each passing day. For a while, I have felt that 2014 would turn out to be a major “turning point” for the global economy, and so far that is exactly what it is turning out to be. The following are 20 early warning signs that we are rapidly approaching a global economic meltdown…
#1 The looting, violence and economic chaos that is happening in Argentina right now is a perfect example of what can happen when you print too much money…
For Dominga Kanaza, it wasn’t just the soaring inflation or the weeklong blackouts or even the looting that frayed her nerves.
It was all of them combined.
At one point last month, the 37-year-old shop owner refused to open the metal shutters protecting her corner grocery in downtown Buenos Aires more than a few inches — just enough to sell soda to passersby on a sweltering summer day.
#3 Widespread shortages, looting and accelerating inflation are also causing huge problems in Venezuela…
Economic mismanagement in Venezuela has reached such a level that it risks inciting a violent popular reaction. Venezuela is experiencing declining export revenues, accelerating inflation and widespread shortages of basic consumer goods. At the same time, the Maduro administration has foreclosed peaceful options for Venezuelans to bring about a change in its current policies.
President Maduro, who came to power in a highly-contested election last April, has reacted to the economic crisis with interventionist and increasingly authoritarian measures. His recent orders to slash prices of goods sold in private businesses resulted in episodes of looting, which suggests a latent potential for violence. He has put the armed forces on the street to enforce his economic decrees, exposing them to popular discontent.
#4 In a stunning decision, the Venezuelan government has just announced that it has devalued the Bolivar by more than 40 percent.
#5 Brazilian stocks declined sharply on Thursday. There is a tremendous amount of concern that the economic meltdown that is happening in Argentina is going to spill over into Brazil.
A tense ceasefire was announced in Kiev on the fifth day of violence, with radical protesters and riot police holding their position. Opposition leaders are negotiating with the government, but doubts remain that they will be able to stop the rioters.
As China’s CNR reports, depositors in some of Yancheng City’s largest farmers’ co-operative mutual fund societies (“banks”) have been unable to withdraw “hundreds of millions” in deposits in the last few weeks. “Everyone wants to borrow and no one wants to save,” warned one ‘salesperson’, “and loan repayments are difficult to recover.” There is “no money” and the doors are locked.
Wall Street was rattled by a key reading on China’s manufacturing which dropped below the key 50 level in January, according to HSBC. A reading below 50 on the HSBC flash manufacturing PMI suggests economic contraction.
#10 Japanese stocks experienced their biggest drop in 7 months on Thursday.
#18 A recent CNBC article stated that U.S. consumers should expect a “tsunami” of store closings in the retail industry…
Get ready for the next era in retail—one that will be characterized by far fewer shops and smaller stores.
On Tuesday, Sears said that it will shutter its flagship store in downtown Chicago in April. It’s the latest of about 300 store closures in the U.S. that Sears has made since 2010. The news follows announcements earlier this month of multiple store closings from major department stores J.C. Penney and Macy’s.
Further signs of cuts in the industry came Wednesday, when Target said that it will eliminate 475 jobs worldwide, including some at its Minnesota headquarters, and not fill 700 empty positions.
#19 The U.S. Congress is facing another deadline to raise the debt ceiling in February.
#20 The Dow fell by more than 170 points on Thursday. It is becoming increasingly likely that “the peak of the market” is now in the rear view mirror.
In light of everything above, is there anyone out there that still wants to claim that “everything is going to be okay” for the global economy?
Sadly, most Americans are not even aware of most of these things.
All over the country today, the number one news headline is about Justin Bieber. The mainstream media is absolutely obsessed with celebrity scandals, and so is a very large percentage of the U.S. population.
A great economic storm is rapidly approaching, and most people don’t even seem to notice the storm clouds that are gathering on the horizon.
In the end, perhaps we will get what we deserve as a nation.