After all these years, the most famous investor in the world still believes that derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction. And you know what? He is exactly right. The next great global financial collapse that so many are warning about is nearly upon us, and when it arrives derivatives are going to play a starring role. When many people hear the word “derivatives”, they tend to tune out because it is a word that sounds very complicated. And without a doubt, derivatives can be enormously complex. But what I try to do is to take complex subjects and break them down into simple terms. At their core, derivatives represent nothing more than a legalized form of gambling. A derivative is essentially a bet that something either will or will not happen in the future. Ultimately, someone will win money and someone will lose money. There are hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of these bets floating around out there, and one of these days this gigantic time bomb is going to go off and absolutely cripple the entire global financial system.
The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Central banks and governments have so
far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts. In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.
Those words turned out to be quite prophetic. Derivatives have definitely multiplied in variety and number since that time, and it has become abundantly clear how toxic they are. Derivatives played a substantial role in the financial meltdown of 2008, but we still haven’t learned our lessons. Today, the derivatives bubble is even larger than it was just before the last financial crisis, and it could absolutely devastate the global financial system at any time.
Thirteen years after describing derivatives as “weapons of mass destruction” Warren Buffetthas reaffirmed his view that they pose a threat to the global economy and financial markets.
In an interview with Chanticleer this week, Buffett said that “at some point they are likely to cause big trouble“.
“Derivatives, lend themselves to huge amounts of speculation,” he said.
Most of the time, the big banks that do most of the trading in these derivatives do very well. They use extremely sophisticated computer algorithms that help them come out on the winning end of these bets most of the time.
But when there is some sort of unforeseen event that suddenly causes a massive shift in the marketplace, that can cause tremendous problems. This is something that Buffett discussed during his recent interview…
“The problem arises when there is a discontinuity in the market for some reason or another.
“When the markets closed like it was for a few days after 9/11 or in World War I the market was closed for four or five months – anything that disrupts the continuity of the market when you have trillions of dollars of nominal amounts outstanding and no ability to settle up and who knows what happens when the market reopens,” he said.
So if the markets behave fairly calmly and predictably, the derivatives bubble probably will not burst.
But no balancing act of this nature ever lasts forever. Just remember what happened in 2008. Lehman Brothers collapsed and then the financial system virtually froze up. According to Forbes, at that time almost everyone was afraid to deal with the big banks because nobody was quite sure how much exposure they had to these risky derivatives…
Fast forward to the financial meltdown of 2008 and what do we see? America again was celebrating. The economy was booming. Everyone seemed to be getting wealthier, even though the warning signs were everywhere: too much borrowing, foolish investments, greedy banks, regulators asleep at the wheel, politicians eager to promote home-ownership for those who couldn’t afford it, and distinguished analysts openly predicting this could only end badly. And then, when Lehman Bros fell, the financial system froze and world economy almost collapsed. Why?
The root cause wasn’t just the reckless lending and the excessive risk taking. The problem at the core was a lack of transparency. After Lehman’s collapse, no one could understand any particular bank’s risks from derivative trading and so no bank wanted to lend to or trade with any other bank. Because all the big banks’ had been involved to an unknown degree in risky derivative trading, no one could tell whether any particular financial institution might suddenly implode.
After the crisis, we were promised that something would be done about the “too big to fail” problem.
But instead, the problem of “too big to fail” is now larger than ever.
Since the last financial crisis, the four largest banks in the country have gotten approximately 40 percent larger. Today, the five largest banks account for approximately 42 percent of all loans in the United States, and the six largest banks account for approximately 67 percent of all assets in our financial system. Without those banks, we would not have much of an economy left at all.
Meanwhile, smaller banks have been going out of business or have been swallowed up by the big banks at a staggering rate. Incredibly, there are 1,400 fewer small banks in operation today than there were when the last financial crisis erupted.
So we cannot afford for these “too big to fail” banks to actually fail. Even the failure of a single one would cause a national financial nightmare. The “too big to fail” banks that I am talking about are JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. When you total up the exposure to derivatives that all of them currently have, it comes to a grand total of more than 278 trillion dollars. But when you total up all of the assets of all six banks combined, it only comes to a grand total of about 9.8 trillion dollars. In other words, the “too big to fail” banks have exposure to derivatives that is more than 28 times the size of their total assets.
I have shared the following numbers with my readers before, but it is absolutely crucial that we all understand how exceedingly vulnerable our financial system really is. These numbers come directly from the OCC’s most recent quarterly report (see Table 2), and they reveal a recklessness that is almost beyond words…
Total Assets: $2,573,126,000,000 (about 2.6 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $63,600,246,000,000 (more than 63 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,842,530,000,000 (more than 1.8 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $59,951,603,000,000 (more than 59 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $856,301,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $57,312,558,000,000 (more than 57 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $2,106,796,000,000 (a little bit more than 2.1 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $54,224,084,000,000 (more than 54 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $801,382,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $38,546,879,000,000 (more than 38 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,687,155,000,000 (about 1.7 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $5,302,422,000,000 (more than 5 trillion dollars)
Since the United States was first established, the U.S. government has run up a total debt of a bit more than 18 trillion dollars. It is the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and it has grown so large that it is literally impossible for us to pay it off at this point.
But the top five banks in the list above each have exposure to derivatives that is more than twice the size of the national debt, and several of them have exposure to derivatives that is more than three times the size of the national debt.
That is why I keep saying that there will not be enough money in the entire world to bail everyone out when this derivatives bubble finally implodes.
Warren Buffett is entirely correct about derivatives – they truly are weapons of mass destruction that could destroy the entire global financial system at any time.
So as we move into the second half of this year and beyond, you will want to watch for terms like “derivatives crisis” or “derivatives crash” in news reports. When derivatives start making front page news, that will be a really, really bad sign.
Our financial system has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the planet. For the moment, the roulette wheels are still spinning and everyone is happy. But sooner or later, a “black swan event” will happen that nobody expected, and then all hell will break loose.
Not since the financial crash of 2008 have so many prominent people issued such urgent warnings about a specific time period. Almost daily now, really big names are coming out with chilling predictions about what they believe is going to happen during the second half of 2015. But it isn’t just that these people have a “bad feeling” about things. The truth is that we are witnessing a confluence of circumstances and events in the second half of this year that is unprecedented. This is something that I covered in a previous article that went mega-viral all over the Internet entitled “7 Key Events That Are Going To Happen By The End Of September“. Personally, I have never been more concerned about any period of time than I am about the second half of 2015. And as you will see below, I am definitely not alone.
Just a few days ago, I received an email that contained a chilling message from Lindsey Williams. You can view the same message that came to my email right here. According to Lindsey Williams, the elite insider that he is in contact with told him that there will be a global financial collapse between September and December of this year…
From Lindsey Williams: I just received an email from my Elite friend.
My Elite friend indicated that they have a World Wide Financial Collapse scheduled between September and the end of December 2015
You may have just THREE (3) months to prepare!
I have a ton of respect for Lindsey Williams, and I would listen to what he has to say very carefully. Back in 2008, an elite insider told him that the price of oil would drop from $140 a barrel to $40 a barrel, and it happened. This time around, Williams has been telling us throughout 2013 and 2014 that a global financial collapse was not going to happen during those years, and he was right about that.
But now he is sounding the alarm that one is going to come by the end of this calendar year.
Martin Armstrong is someone else that has been sounding the alarm about the second half of this year.
In fact, Armstrong says that he has “warned that the Big Bang was coming 2015.75″ since 1985.
Armstrong has developed one of his own, and he calls it the Economic Confidence Model. According to the ECM, the “sovereign debt Big Bang” is scheduled to happen by the end of 2015. And it turns out that the time period that Armstrong has been pointing to lines up with a whole bunch of other significant events as well…
There are many aspects that are lining up with the turn in the ECM (Economic Confidence Model) from the Blood Moon and the Jewish Year for forgiving the debts, to France imposing restrictions on cash in September, and even in Germany the laws that protected about half a million people so-called dachas there in East Germany expire. To date, a law protecting the tenant against dismissal by the municipality will also expireOctober 3, 2015. Everywhere we look, there are changes coming to a head, right down to the U.S. Federal budget with 2015.75.
In case you are tempted to dismiss this as nonsense, Armstrong has pointed out that his ECM has been accurate “to the day” in the past…
Of course the 1987 crash bottomed to the day with the ECM confirming that was the low. The same took place in 1994 where the U.S. share market bottomed right to the day, once again confirming this was an important low.
This next turning point should be the peak in the concentration of capital and confidence in government. From there on out, 2015.75 should mark the change in trend where people will start to disbelieve government on a grand scale. The debt markets that peak precisely with the target are going to get the worst of it.
Other financial experts are issuing similar warnings, even if they aren’t being quite as specific.
For example, just consider what Jim Rogers had to say recently…
I suspect in the next year or two we will see some kind of major, major problems in the world financial markets.
I would suspect when we have this correction, it’s going to cause central banks to panic. There’s going to come a time when there is not much the central banks can do when they have lost all credibility. When governments have lost all credibility. They will print and spend and borrow, but there comes a time when people are just going to say We don’t want to play this game anymore. And at that point, the world has serious, serious problems because there’s nothing to rescue us.
Perhaps the most sobering warning of all that I have come across in recent days is from Alex Jones.
In the video posted below, he explains that he recently received “two different calls” from “extremely prominent wealthy people” warning him about what is coming by the end of this year and asking him why he isn’t leaving the United States “before October”.
In this video, Alex also explains that large numbers of insiders are now quietly leaving the country. I have never seen him quite like this. I think that so many of us are just in shock that the things that we have been warning about for so long are now actually happening. Watch this video for yourself and see what you think…
In the financial markets, we are also seeing signals that many people believe that big trouble is right around the corner. For instance, according to Dana Lyons we haven’t seen bets that the VIX will rise at this level since just before the financial crash of 2008…
As most observers are aware, the VIX tends to rise as the stock market declines. Thus a rising VIX is associated with bad markets. The interesting thing about present conditions in VIX options is that the Put/Call Ratio (using a 21-day average) is at the lowest level since the summer of 2008. That means that there are more bets on a rising VIX versus bets on a falling VIX than we have seen in 7 years. And again, a rising VIX is associated with bad markets.
In other words, investors are betting a tremendous amount of money that we are going to see a rise in volatility in the financial markets in the months ahead. And as I have explained so many times before, during times of high volatility markets tend to go down very rapidly. So these bets will pay off very handsomely if there is a financial crash this fall.
Meanwhile, the manager of one of the largest bond funds in the UK is warning that a “systemic event” could soon hit global financial markets and that it is wise to have some “physical cash” at home just in case there is some sort of major emergency. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
The manager of one of Britain’s biggest bond funds has urged investors to keep cash under the mattress.
Ian Spreadbury, who invests more than £4bn of investors’ money across a handful of bond funds for Fidelity, including the flagship Moneybuilder Income fund, is concerned that a “systemic event” could rock markets, possibly similar in magnitude to the financial crisis of 2008, which began in Britain with a run on Northern Rock.
“Systemic risk is in the system and as an investor you have to be aware of that,” he told Telegraph Money.
The best strategy to deal with this, he said, was for investors to spread their money widely into different assets, including gold and silver, as well as cash in savings accounts. But he went further, suggesting it was wise to hold some “physical cash”, an unusual suggestion from a mainstream fund manager.
But to hear it from a member of Britain’s financial elite is definitely unusual to say the least.
Sadly, just like last time, most people are not listening to the warnings. Back in the summer of 2008, my wife and I went up to visit her parents. I sat on their sofa and told them that a great financial collapse was about to unfold and that it would shake the entire world. Of course just a few months later that is exactly what happened.
Now we are on the verge of an even greater financial collapse, and still I find that there are a lot of people out there that are doubters. Most of these doubters have an immense amount of faith in the system, and they are confident that this debt-fueled bubble of false prosperity that we are currently enjoying can somehow last indefinitely.
I truly wish that the hopeless optimists were right.
I truly wish that I could live out my days in peace and quiet in a world that was safe and stable.
Are you ready for rioting, looting and mindless violence in major U.S. cities all summer long? According to a brand new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 96 percent of all Americans believe that there will be more civil unrest in America this summer. That leaves only 4 percent of people that believe that everything will be just fine. In this day and age, it is virtually impossible to get 96 percent of Americans to agree on anything. So the fact that just about everyone agrees that we are going to see more civil unrest should really tell you something. The anger that has been building under the surface for so many years in this country has finally started to erupt. If you have been following my website for a while, you know that this is something that I have been warning about for a very long time. Many people may have thought that I was exaggerating when I talked about the civil unrest that was coming to American cities. But I was not exaggerating at all. In fact, if anything I was downplaying it. In the years to come, we are going to see things happen in our cities that are going to absolutely shock the world.
Ever since the violence first erupted in Baltimore, what has surprised me more than anything has been the level of hate that I am seeing all over the Internet. I am seeing white people openly proclaim how much they hate black people. I am seeing black people openly proclaim how much they hate white people. I am seeing things said about the police that are absolutely horrifying. Yes, there has been a tremendous amount of police brutality in this nation. In fact, I have been one of the leaders in writing about it. But most police officers are just trying to serve their communities the very best that they can. So why is there so much hate for anyone that is a police officer these days?
If all of this hate continues to grow, it is going to eat our nation alive. Why can’t we just learn to forgive one another, love one another and work together to rebuild our once great nation?
I know that what I just said is going to mostly fall on deaf ears. But it needs to be said.
I wish that we could change course as a nation and avoid all of the rioting, looting and senseless violence that is coming. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening, and neither does the rest of the country…
Americans are bracing for a summer of racial disturbances around the country, such as those that have wracked Baltimore, with African Americans and whites deeply divided about why the urban violence has occurred, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found.
A resounding 96% of adults surveyed said it was likely there would be additional racial disturbances this summer, a signal that Americans believe Baltimore’s recent problems aren’t a local phenomenon but instead are symptomatic of broader national problems.
What happened in Ferguson set the precedent, and now what has happened in Baltimore has provided the spark for a national movement. Similar “demonstrations” are popping up all over the nation, and a number of them have already turned violent.
For example, check out what happened in Seattle on Friday night…
Demonstrations turned violent in Seattle after night fell, with police reporting that protesters hurled rocks and wrenches at officers and damaged 25 vehicles. Police reported that an “explosive device” was thrown at officers, and a trash bin was pushed down a hill toward police.
Three officers were injured, two seriously enough that they were taken to a hospital, Seattle police said on Twitter. At least 16 people were arrested Friday night, police said.
And just down the coast in Portland, we also witnessed some very ugly violence…
One Portland, Oregon, police officer was injured by a protester, according to police. Portland Police reported on Twitter that protesters were throwing “projectiles” and “incendiary devices” at officers.
Police used pepper spray on protesters who tried to march on a bridge Friday afternoon and later sheriff’s deputies used stingballs, filled with tiny rubber balls, on protesters who were throwing chairs at police, according to the department.
During a Baltimore-based radio talk show on Thursday, a man who identified himself as a Baltimore police officer named “Jeff” called into the program and said fellow police officers were organizing to push out the city’s mayor.
“There is right now over 50 of us officers who are immediately asking for [Baltimore Mayor] Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to step down for what she did to us Monday,” the caller told WBAL radio host Derek Hunter.
The Baltimore mayor has denied giving “stand down” orders and blamed the media for misinterpreting her comments about providing “a space” for protesters to loot.
“Any other time in my career, if somebody were to throw a brick or a block at me, we would take immediate actions to pull our weapons on them. Numerous times on Monday when our officers were being injured, our commanders are telling us ‘stand down, stand down.’ You had no idea what it did to us as police officers to sit there,” said the self-described “21-year veteran” of the Baltimore police department.
Scenes of protesters attacking police were broadcast all over the nation, and it was inevitable that we would start to see “copycat attacks” against the police start to happen. In New York City, a plainclothes police officer was shot in the head on Saturday…
A plainclothes New York City police officer was shot in the head and critically injured while in an unmarked police car Saturday as he and his partner attempted to stop and question a man they suspected of carrying a gun, officials said.
Officer Brian Moore and his partner, Erik Jansen, noticed Demitrius Blackwell “walking and adjusting an object in his waistband” when they pulled up on him in their car, exchanging words with him before he turned and suddenly fired at least two rounds into the car, police Commissioner William Bratton said.
“The man immediately removed the firearm from his waistband and turned in the direction of the officers and deliberately fired several times at the vehicle, striking Officer Moore in the head,” Bratton said at a press conference at a Queens hospital. The 25-year-old Moore was undergoing surgery but listed in stable condition.
We are seeing the same thing when it comes to racially-motivated violence. This is something that we witnessed in Baltimore, and now all over the nation people are being attacked just because of the color of their skin.
A Fontana man accused of beating a passerby with a bat in an apparently random attack in Rialto, leaving the victim with life-threatening injuries that he was not expected to survive, was charged Wednesday with attempted murder allegedly committed as a hate crime.
Jeremiah Ajani Bell, 22, was arrested Monday, a day after a daylight assault on 54-year-old Armando Barron, who was walking down the street when he was attacked.
“It appears he was targeting anybody who wasn’t black,” Rialto police Detective Sgt. Paul Stella said Wednesday.
We witnessed an even more disturbing example of racially-motivated violence just the other day in South Carolina…
Witnesses and police say a mob of 60 black teens took to the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, to unleash attacks on unsuspecting drivers and pedestrians, all but one of whom were white.
And of course police in some areas of the country are also using unnecessary violence. Just consider what happened to a group of peaceful protesters in Denver on Wednesday…
With much of the nation focused on the police abuse protests happening in Baltimore and New York City, the Denver police and their actions against a group of protesters on Wednesday has largely gone unnoticed.
But police were dressed for war. Paramilitary style. And they weren’t going home without using a few cans of pepper spray and filling up a paddy wagon.
Video that surfaced shows a group of about 100 protesters walking the streets of downtown Denver where they were met with line of motorcycle cops who forced the group on to the sidewalk. One overzealous officer can be seen breaking away from the pack chasing down pedestrians, using his motorcycle as a large weapon.
It’s war on the streets of America, and this is only just the beginning.
As we enter the next major economic downturn, people are going to become angrier and even more desperate. And desperate people do desperate things. The next few years are not going to be a good time to be living in urban areas. Even if you only have peace and love in your heart, that doesn’t mean that you won’t get caught in the crossfire as the violence escalates.
For years, most of our politicians have been preaching hate and division. For years, the mainstream media has been preaching hate and division. For years, Hollywood has been preaching hate and division.
Now we have a nation that is deeply, deeply divided and that is filled with hate.
Things didn’t have to turn out this way, but they did. I hope that you are getting ready for what comes next.
Will 2015 be a year of financial crashes, economic chaos and the start of the next great worldwide depression? Over the past couple of years, we have all watched as global financial bubbles have gotten larger and larger. Despite predictions that they could burst at any time, they have just continued to expand. But just like we witnessed in 2001 and 2008, all financial bubbles come to an end at some point, and when they do implode the pain can be extreme. Personally, I am entirely convinced that the financial markets are more primed for a financial collapse now than they have been at any other time since the last crisis happened nearly seven years ago. And I am certainly not alone. At this point, the warning cries have become a deafening roar as a whole host of prominent voices have stepped forward to sound the alarm. The following are 11 predictions of economic disaster in 2015 from top experts all over the globe…
#1Bill Fleckenstein: “They are trying to make the stock market go up and drag the economy along with it. It’s not going to work. There’s going to be a big accident. When people realize that it’s all a charade, the dollar will tank, the stock market will tank, and hopefully bond markets will tank. Gold will rally in that period of time because it’s done what it’s done because people have assumed complete infallibility on the part of the central bankers.”
#2John Ficenec: “In the US, Professor Robert Shiller’s cyclically adjusted price earnings ratio – or Shiller CAPE – for the S&P 500 is currently at 27.2, some 64pc above the historic average of 16.6. On only three occasions since 1882 has it been higher – in 1929, 2000 and 2007.”
#3Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, one of the most respected economic journalists on the entire planet: “The eurozone will be in deflation by February, forlornly trying to ignite its damp wood by rubbing stones. Real interest rates will ratchet higher. The debt load will continue to rise at a faster pace than nominal GDP across Club Med. The region will sink deeper into a compound interest trap.”
#4The Jerome Levy Forecasting Center, which correctly predicted the bursting of the subprime mortgage bubble in 2007: “Clearly the direction of most of the recent global economic news suggests movement toward a 2015 downturn.”
#5Paul Craig Roberts: “At any time the Western house of cards could collapse. It (the financial system) is a house of cards. There are no economic fundamentals that support stock prices — the Dow Jones. There are no economic fundamentals that support the strong dollar…”
#6David Tice: “I have the same kind of feel in ’98 and ’99; also ’05 and ’06. This is going to end badly. I have every confidence in the world.”
#8Phoenix Capital Research: “Just about everything will be hit as well. Most of the ‘recovery’ of the last five years has been fueled by cheap borrowed Dollars. Now that the US Dollar has broken out of a multi-year range, you’re going to see more and more ‘risk assets’ (read: projects or investments fueled by borrowed Dollars) blow up. Oil is just the beginning, not a standalone story.
If things really pick up steam, there’s over $9 TRILLION worth of potential explosions waiting in the wings. Imagine if the entire economies of both Germany and Japan exploded and you’ve got a decent idea of the size of the potential impact on the financial system.”
#9Rob Kirby: “What this breakdown in the crude oil price is going to spawn another financial crisis. It will be tied to the junk debt that has been issued to finance the shale oil plays in North America. It is reported to be in the area of half a trillion dollars worth of junk debt that is held largely on the books of large financial institutions in the western world. When these bonds start to fail, they will jeopardize the future of these financial institutions. I do believe that will be the signal for the Fed to come riding to the rescue with QE4. I also think QE4 is likely going to be accompanied by bank bail-ins because we all know all western world countries have adopted bail-in legislation in their most recent budgets. The financial elites are engineering the excuse for their next round of money printing . . . and they will be confiscating money out of savings accounts and pension accounts. That’s what I think is coming in the very near future.”
#10John Ing: “The 2008 collapse was just a dress rehearsal compared to what the world is going to face this time around. This time we have governments which are even more highly leveraged than the private sector was.
So this time the collapse will be on a scale that is many magnitudes greater than what the world witnessed in 2008.”
#11Gerald Celente: “What does the word confidence mean? Break it down. In this case confidence = con men and con game. That’s all it is. So people will lose confidence in the con men because they have already shown their cards. It’s a Ponzi scheme. So the con game is running out and they don’t have any more cards to play.
What are they going to do? They can’t raise interest rates. We saw what happened in the beginning of December when the equity markets started to unravel. So it will be a loss of confidence in the con game and the con game is soon coming to an end. That is when you are going to see panic on Wall Street and around the world.”
If you have been following my website, you know that I have been pointing to 2015 for quite some time now.
But just like in 2000 and 2007, there are a whole host of doubters that are fully convinced that the party can continue indefinitely. Even though our economic fundamentals continue to get worse, our debt levels continue to grow and every objective measurement shows that Wall Street is more reckless and more vulnerable to collapse than ever before, they mock the idea that a financial collapse is imminent.
So let’s see what happens in 2015.
I have a feeling that it is going to be an extremely “interesting” year.
Will rapidly rising interest rates rip through the U.S. financial system like a giant lawnmower blade? Yes, the U.S. economy survived much higher interest rates in the past, but at that time there were not hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of interest rate derivatives hanging over our financial system like a Sword of Damocles. This is something that I have been talking about for quite some time, and now a Mexican billionaire has come forward with a similar warning. Hugo Salinas Price was the founder of the Elektra retail chain down in Mexico, and he is extremely concerned that rising interest rates could burst the derivatives bubble and cause “massive bankruptcies around the globe”. Of course there are a whole lot of people out there that would be quite glad to see the “too big to fail” banks go bankrupt, but the truth is that if they go down our entire economy will go down with them. Our situation is similar to a patient with a very advanced stage of cancer. You can try to kill the cancer with drugs, but you will almost certainly kill the patient at the same time. Well, that is essentially what our relationship with the big banks is like. Our entire economic system is based on credit, and just like we saw back in 2008, if the big banks start failing credit freezes up and suddenly nobody can get any money for anything. When the next great credit crunch comes, every important number in our economy will rapidly start getting much worse.
The big banks are going to play a starring role in the next financial crash just like they did in the last one. Only this next crash may be quite a bit worse. Just check out what billionaire Hugo Salinas Price told King World News recently…
I think we are going to see a series of bankruptcies. I think the rise in interest rates is the fatal sign which is going to ignite a derivatives crisis. This is going to bring down the derivatives system (and the financial system).
There are (over) one quadrillion dollars of derivatives and most of them are related to interest rates. The spiking of interest rates in the United States may set that off. What is going to happen in the world is eventually we are going to come to a moment where there is going to be massive bankruptcies around the globe.
What is going to be left after the dust settles is gold, and some people are going to have it and some people are not. Then the problem is going to be to hold on to what you’ve got because it’s not going to be a very pleasant world.
Right now, there are about 441 trillion dollars of interest rate derivatives sitting out there. If interest rates stay about where they are right now and they don’t go much higher, we will be fine. But if they start going much higher, all bets will be off and we could see financial carnage on a scale that we have never seen before.
And at the moment the big banks have got to behave themselves because the government is investigating allegations that they have been cheating pension funds and other investors out of millions of dollars by manipulating the trading of interest rate derivatives. The following is from an article that the Telegraph posted on Friday…
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is probing 15 banks over allegations that they instructed brokers to carry out trades that would move ISDAfix, the leading benchmark rate for interest rate swaps.
Pension funds and companies who invest in interest rate derivatives often deal with banks to insure against big movements in the ISDAfix rate or to speculate on changes to interest rate swaps
ISDAfix is published each morning after banks submit bids for swaps via Icap, the inter-dealer broker, in a number of currencies. The CFTC has been investigating suggestions that the banks deliberately moved the rate in order to profit on these deals.
Given the hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of interest rate derivatives trades that occur annually, even the slightest manipulation can have a substantial effect. The CFTC, which started to investigate ISDAfix after last summer’s Libor scandal has now been handed emails and phone call recordings that show the rate was deliberately moved, according to Bloomberg.
Essentially they got their hands caught in the cookie jar and so they have got to play it straight (at least for now).
Meanwhile, it looks like the Fed may not be able to keep long-term interest rates down for much longer.
The Federal Reserve has been using quantitative easing to try to keep long-term interest rates low, but now some officials over at the Fed are becoming extremely alarmed about how bloated the Fed balance sheet has become. For example, the following was recently written by the head of the Dallas Fed, Richard Fisher…
This later program is referred to as quantitative easing, or QE, by the public and as large-scale asset purchases, or LSAPs, internally at the Fed. As a result of LSAPs conducted over three stages of QE, the Fed’s System Open Market Account now holds $2 trillion of Treasury securities and $1.3 trillion of agency and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Since last fall, when we initiated the third stage of QE, we have regularly been purchasing $45 billion a month of Treasuries and $40 billion a month in MBS, meanwhile reinvesting the proceeds from the paydowns of our mortgage-based investments. The result is that our balance sheet has ballooned to more than $3.5 trillion. That’s $3.5 trillion, or $11,300 for every man, woman and child residing in the United States.
Fisher has compared the current Fed balance sheet to a “Gordian Knot”, and he hopes that the Fed will be able to unwind this knot without creating “market havoc”…
The point is: We own a significant slice of these critical markets. This is, indeed, something of a Gordian Knot.
Those of you familiar with the Gordian legend know there were two versions to it: One holds that Alexander the Great simply dispatched with the problem by slicing the intractable knot in half with his sword; the other posits that Alexander pulled the knot out of its pole pin, exposed the two ends of the cord and proceeded to untie it. According to the myth, the oracles then divined that he would go on to conquer the world.
There is no Alexander to simply slice the complex knot that we have created with our rounds of QE. Instead, when the right time comes, we must carefully remove the program’s pole pin and gingerly unwind it so as not to prompt market havoc. For starters though, we need to stop building upon the knot. For this reason, I have advocated that we socialize the idea of the inevitability of our dialing back and eventually ending our LSAPs. In June, I argued for the Chairman to signal this possibility at his last press conference and at last week’s meeting suggested that we should gird our loins to make our first move this fall. We shall see if that recommendation obtains with the majority of the Committee.
But of course it should be obvious to everyone that the Fed is not going to be able to reduce the size of its balance sheet without causing huge distress in the financial markets. A few weeks ago, just the suggestion that the Fed may eventually begin to slow down the pace of quantitative easing caused the markets to throw an epic temper tantrum.
Unfortunately, the Fed may not be able to keep control of long-term interest rates even if they continue quantitative easing indefinitely. Over the past several weeks long-term interest rates have been rising steadily, and the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries crept a bit higher on Monday.
At this point, many on Wall Street are convinced that the bull market for bonds is over and that rates will eventually go much, much higher than they are right now no matter what the Fed does. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNBC article…
The Federal Reserve will lose control of interest rates as the “great rotation” out of bonds into equities takes off in full force, according to one market watcher, who sees U.S. 10-year Treasury yields hitting 5-6 percent in the next 18-24 months.
“It is our opinion that interest rates have begun their assent, that the Fed will eventually lose control of interest rates. The yield curve will first steepen and then will shift, moving rates significantly higher,” said Mike Crofton, President and CEO, Philadelphia Trust Company told CNBC on Wednesday.
If you still have money in European banks, you need to get it out. This is particularly true if you have money in southern European banks. As I write this, the final details of the Cyprus bailout are being worked out, but one thing has become abundantly clear: at least some depositors are going to lose a substantial amount of money. Personally, I never dreamed that they would go after private bank accounts in Europe, but now that this precedent has been set it should be apparent to everyone that no bank account will ever be considered 100% safe ever again. Without trust, a banking system simply cannot function, and right now there are prominent voices on both sides of the Atlantic that are loudly warning that trust in the European banking system has been shattered and that people need to get their money out of those banks as rapidly as they can. Even if you don’t end up losing a significant chunk of your money, you could still end up dealing with very serious capital controls that greatly restrict what you are able to do with your money. Just look at what is already happening in Cyprus. Cash withdrawals through ATMs have now been limited to 100 euros per day, and when the banks finally do reopen there will be strict limits on financial transactions in order to prevent a full-blown bank run. And of course anyone with half a brain will be trying to get as much of their money as they can out of those banks once they do reopen. So the truth is that the problems for Cyprus banks are just beginning. The size of the “bailout” that will be needed to keep those banks afloat will just keep getting larger and larger the more money that is withdrawn. Cyprus is heading for a complete and total banking meltdown, and because the economy of the island is so dependent on banking that means that the economy of the entire nation is going to collapse. Sadly, similar scenarios will soon start playing out all over Europe.
So if you hear that a “deal” has been reached to “bail out” Cyprus, please keep in mind that the economy of Cyprus is going to collapse no matter what happens. It is just a matter of apportioning the pain at this point.
According to the New York Times, it looks like much of the pain is going to be placed on the backs of those with deposits of over 100,000 euros…
The revised terms under discussion would assess a one-time tax of 20 percent on deposits above 100,000 euros at the Bank of Cyprus, which has the largest number of savings accounts on the island. Because the Bank of Cyprus suffered huge losses on bets that it took on Greek bonds, the government appears to be taking depositors’ money to help plug the hole.
A separate tax of 4 percent would be assessed on uninsured deposits at all other banks, including the 26 foreign banks that operate in Cyprus.
Does that sound bad to you?
Well, if a deal is not reached, there is a possibility that those with uninsured deposits could lose everything. According to Ekathimerini, EU officials are telling Cyprus to choose between a “bad scenario” and a “very bad scenario”…
The main question surrounds the future of the island’s largest lender, Bank of Cyprus. If unsecured deposits (above 100,000 euros) at all Cypriot banks are taxed then large savings at Bank of Cyprus are likely to be taxed between 20 and 25 percent. If the levy is not imposed on deposits at other lenders, the haircut for Bank of Cyprus customers will be much larger.
The option of a full bail in of Bank of Cyprus depositors is still on the table. As with the Popular Bank of Cyprus (Laiki), which is to go through a resolution process, the full bail in option could lead to deposits above 100,000 euros being lost. The only compensation for unsecured depositors will be shares in the “good” bank that will be created by a possible merger between the “healthy” Laiki and Bank of Cyprus entities.
When asked by Kathimerini how the Cypriot economy will survive if all company and personal deposits above 100,000 euros disappear from the country’s two biggest lenders, the EU official said: “Unfortunately, Cyprus’s choices are between a bad scenario and a very bad scenario.”
So what percentage of the deposits in Cyprus are uninsured deposits?
Well, nobody knows for sure, but according to JPMorgan close to half of the total amount of money on deposit in EU banks as a whole is uninsured.
Do you think that some of those people will start moving their money to safer locations after watching how things are going down in Cyprus?
They would be crazy if they didn’t.
And if you think that “deposit insurance” will keep you safe, you are just being delusional.
According to CNBC, very strict capital controls are coming to Cyprus. These rules will apply even to accounts that contain less than 100,000 euros…
Financial controls are coming. Depositors with less than 100,000 euros may not lose their money outright, but they won’t like the restrictions–no matter how much they have in the bank. Limits on withdrawals, limits on check cashing, and perhaps even outright conversion of checking accounts into fixed term deposits are coming (translation: you don’t have a checking account, you have a bond from the bank).
A lot of people are going to lose a lot of money in Cyprus banks, and a significant percentage of them are going to be Russian.
And as I wrote about the other day, you don’t want to have the Russians mad at you.
According to the Guardian, Moscow is already considering various ways that it might “punish” the EU…
“Then, of course, Moscow will be looking for ways to punish the EU. There are a number of large German companies operating in Russia. You could possibly look at freezing assets or taxing assets. The Kremlin is adopting a wait and see policy.”
Could this be the start of a bit of “economic warfare” between east and west?
One thing is for sure – the Russians simply do not allow people to walk all over them.
Meanwhile, things in Cyprus are getting more desperate with each passing day. Because they cannot get money out of the banks, many retail stores find themselves running low on cash. In a few more days many of them may not be able to function at all…
Retailers, facing cash-on-delivery demands from suppliers, warned stocks were running low. “At the moment, supplies will last another two or three days,” said Adamos Hadijadamou, head of Cyprus’s Association of Supermarkets. “We’ll have a problem if this is not resolved by next week.”
But do you know who was able to get their money out in time?
According to the Daily Mail, the President of Cyprus actually warned “close friends” about what was going to happen and told them to get their money out Cyprus…
Cypriot president Nikos Anastasiades ‘warned’ close friends of the financial crisis about to engulf his country so they could move their money abroad, it was claimed on Friday.
Overall, approximately 4.5 billion euros was moved out of Cyprus during the week just before the crisis struck.
Wouldn’t you like to get advance warning like that?
Well, at this point it does not take a genius to figure out what to do about any money that you may have in European banks. The following is from a recent Forbes article by economist Laurence Kotlikoff…
Whatever happens, no one is going to trust or use Cypriot banks. This will shut down the country’s financial highway and flip Cyprus’ economy to a truly awful equilibrium in a replay of our own country’s Great Depression, which was kicked off by the failure of one-in-three U.S. banks.
Cyprus is a small country. Still, the failure of its banks could trigger massive bank runs in Greece. After all, if the European Central Bank is abandoning Cypriot depositors, they may abandon Greek depositors next. A run on Greek banks could then spread to Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Italy and from there to Belgium and France and, you get the picture, to other countries around the globe, including, drum roll, the U.S. Every bank in each of these countries has made promises they can’t keep were push come to shove, i.e., if all depositors demand their money back immediately.
We’ve seen this movie before. And not just in real life. Every Christmas our tellys show It’s a Wonderful Life in which banker Jimmy Stewart barely saves his small town from economic ruin arising from a banking panic.
Others are being even more blunt with their warnings. For example, Nigel Farage, a member of the European Parliament, is warning everyone to get their money out of southern European banks while they still can…
The appalling events in Cyprus over the course of the past week have surpassed even my direst of predictions.
Even I didn’t think that they would stoop to stealing money from people’s bank accounts. I find that astonishing.
There are 750,000 British people who own properties, or who live, many of them in retirement down in Spain.
Our message to expats now that the EU has crossed this line, must be: Get your money out of there while you’ve still got a chance.
And Martin Sibileau is proclaiming that if you still have an unsecured deposit in a eurozone bank that you should have your head examined…
What are depositors of Euros faced with today? Anything but a clean bet! They don’t know what the expected loss on their capital will be, because it will be decided over a weekend by politicians who don’t even represent them. They don’t really know where their deposits went to and they also ignore what jurisdiction they really belong to. Finally, depositors are paid mere basis points for their trust in the system vs. the 20% p.a. Argentina offered in 2001 (thanks to the zero-interest rate policies of the 21st century). In light of all this, I can only conclude that anyone still having an unsecured deposit in a Euro zone bank should get his/her head examined!
So where should you put your money?
I don’t know that there is anywhere that is 100% safe at this point. But many are pointing to hard assets such as gold and silver. The following is what trends forecaster Gerald Celente had to say during one recent interview…
“People always say to me, ‘Mr. Celente you are always talking about gold. What are you going to do with gold when everything collapses and there is no money?’ Well, let’s say you are a Cypriot and all of the ATM machines are out of money and the banks are closed? Do you think those pieces of silver are going to buy you what you need? Do you think that ounce of gold is going to get you what you want?
That’s the real money. There is no other money. When it all comes down, gold and silver are the only things you have to buy what you need, get what you want, or even get out if you need to.”
I used to tell people that putting their money in U.S. banks was safer than putting it other places because U.S. bank deposits are covered by deposit insurance up to a certain amount.
But now we see that deposit insurance means absolutely nothing. If they decide to “tax” (i.e. steal) your money from your bank accounts they will just go ahead and do it.
So what should we all do?
Personally, I think that not having all of your eggs in one basket is a wise approach. If you have your wealth a bunch of different places and in several different forms, I think that will help.
Are we about to see a repeat of 2008 (or something even worse)? Suddenly all kinds of people are coming out of the woodwork and warning that we could be on the verge of the next major financial collapse. Of course many economists and financial pundits just enjoy hearing themselves talk, and sometimes they will make outrageous claims just to get attention, but when so many ominous warnings come out all at once it does tend to make one sit up and take notice. The truth is that global financial markets are even more vulnerable today than they were in 2008, and all over the globe we are seeing trouble signs. Japan is trying to recover from the worst natural disaster that they have ever seen and they are dealing with a nuclear crisis that never seems to end. The Europeans are trying to put another bailout package for Greece together and about a half dozen more European nations that are drowning in debt will need bailouts after that. In the U.S., there are all kinds of signs pointing to the collapse of the economy and the politicians in Washington D.C. continue to “kick the can down the road” and hope that our economic problems will somehow fix themselves. Oil prices are incredibly high and turmoil is sweeping the globe. Conditions are certainly developing that could bring about a “perfect storm” and cause another global financial collapse.
The following is just a sampling of the financial warnings that we have seen in recent days from some prominent voices….
*Economist Nouriel Roubini: “I think right now we’re on the tipping point of a market correction. Data from the U.S., from Europe, from Japan, from China are suggesting an economic slowdown.”
*Jim Rogers: “I would expect to see some serious problems in the foreseeable future….By 2011, 2012, 2013, 2013, I don’t know when, we’re going to have an economic slowdown again.”
*Mark Mobius, the executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management’s emerging markets group: “There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis.”
*David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices: “Home prices continue on their downward spiral with no relief in sight.”
*Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital: “I think we’re looking at some type of echo in the credit crisis coming up here. That’s what I’m afraid of.”
*Carl Icahn: “I do think that there could be another major problem. Now, will it happen next week, next year, i don’t know and certainly nobody knows, but i don’t think that the system is working properly. I really find it amazing that we’re almost back to where it was, where there’s so much leverage going on in the investment banks today. There’s just way too much leverage and way too much risk-taking, with other people’s money.”
Sadly, the world really did not seem to learn much of anything from 2008. Global financial markets are still pretty much operating the same way that they did before the last crisis.
But back before the crisis in 2008 things were much more stable around the globe.
When the horrible earthquake and tsunami struck Japan earlier this year, most economists brushed it off and believed that Japan would be “resilient” and would bounce back very quickly.
As bad as that number is, just remember that the tsunami did not even hit until March 11th.
So what is the 2nd quarter number going to look like?
There is often a lag between a disaster and the economic effects of the disaster. The economic impact of this nightmare is going to be felt in Japan for many years to come. In fact, it is going to be very interesting to see what kind of earnings reports we seeing coming out of Japan in the months ahead.
The mainstream media has been doing their best to downplay the crisis at Fukushima, but the truth is that it is now a worse disaster than Chernobyl and life in that region will never be the same again.
Conditions are also ripe in Europe for another financial collapse.
Have you been watching what has been going on in Greece?
It’s crazy. Without another bailout the Greek government will soon start defaulting on their debts.
The EU and the IMF don’t want to give Greece more bailout money unless there are some significant “strings” attached. But they also know that if Greece is not bailed out it will cause complete chaos in the financial markets.
The Greek population does not want more bailouts and more austerity. There have been protests all over the country. Greek citizens have been pulling billions out of Greek banks as the country descends into chaos.
In the end, another bailout deal will get pushed through and the can will be kicked down the road a little while longer.
But what about all of the other European nations that need bailouts?
Portugal, Spain and Italy (along with several other European nations) are also teetering on the brink of financial disaster.
Most Americans do not realize it, but the European sovereign debt crisis really could set off another global financial crash. Everyone really should be watching Europe. It is going to be a very interesting summer.
Of course the United States continues to be an economic basket case.
More depressing housing data came out today. U.S. home prices are now 5.1% lower than they were a year ago and they have fallen back to mid-2002 levels. CNN is declaring that a housing “double-dip” has been confirmed.
Americans are becoming more pessimistic about the economy.
According to Gallup, 41 percent of Americans believed that the economy was “getting better” at this time last year. Today, that number is at just 27 percent.
We are seeing a tremendous about of inflation in 2011, but incomes are not rising. Unemployment is still rampant and very few jobs are being created. What is even sadder is that a very high percentage of the jobs that are being created are part-time or temporary jobs.
But this was supposed to be the “recovery”. Barack Obama and the Congress pushed through “stimulus package” after “stimulus package”. We added trillions to our national debt. The Federal Reserve has been printing money like crazy. An all-out effort was made to pump up the U.S. economy in the short-term.
So after all of that, is this what the “recovery” is going to look like?
Meanwhile, all of those efforts have also made our long-term economic problems even worse.
This is about as good as things are going to get for the U.S. economy. Despite unprecedented efforts, the U.S. economy is still struggling mightily and our long-term economic problems are scarier than ever.
Sadly, most Americans still believe that wonderful economic times are on the way. Most believe that this downturn is just temporary and that things will soon be better than ever.
How do you think they are going to feel when they find out the truth?