Why won’t the American people listen to the warnings? David Stockman was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 1981, and he served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1985. These days, he is running a website called “Contra Corner” which I highly recommend that you check out. Stockman believes that a global “debt super-cycle” that has been building for decades is now bursting, and he is convinced that the consequences for the U.S. and for the rest of the planet will be absolutely catastrophic. His findings are very consistent with what I have been writing about on The Economic Collapse Blog, and if Stockman is correct the times ahead of us are going to be exceedingly painful.
But right now, most people don’t seem to be in the mood to listen to these types of warnings. Even though there is a mountain of evidence that the global economy has already plunged into recession, U.S. stocks had a great month in October, and so most Americans seem to think that the crisis has passed.
Of course the truth is that the stock market is not an accurate barometer of the economy and it never has been. Back in 2008, almost everything else started to go downhill before stocks did, and the same thing is happening once again. In a recent article, Stockman explained that stocks are surging to absolutely ridiculous levels even though corporate earnings are actually way down…
At this point, 75% of S&P 500 companies have reported Q3 results, and earnings are coming in at $93.80 per share on an LTM basis. That happens to be 7.4% below the peak $106 per share reported last September, and means that the market today is valuing these shrinking profits at a spritely 22.49X PE ratio.
And, yes, there is a reason for two-digit precision. It seems that in the 4th quarter of 2007 LTM earnings came in at 22.19Xthe S&P 500 index price. We know what happened next!
Why do so many refuse to see the parallels?
This crisis is unfolding so similarly to 2008, and yet most of the “experts” are willingly blind.
Much of the stock buying that has been happening in 2015 has been fueled by stock buybacks and by M&A (merger and acquisitions). Many firms have even been going into debt to buy back their own stocks, but now sources of financing are starting to dry up. This year we have already seen the most corporate debt downgrades since 2009, and big financial institutions are now becoming much more hesitant to loan giant stacks of cash to these large corporations at super low interest rates.
So it is very, very difficult to see how the equity markets are going to move much higher than they are right now.
Meanwhile, the global economy is starting to unravel right in front of our eyes. In his recent piece, Stockman discussed some of these data points…
In the last two days we posted the latest data on two crucial markers of global economic direction——-export shipments from Korea and export orders coming into the high performance machinery factories of Germany.
In a word, they were abysmal, and smoking gun evidence that the suzerains of Beijing have not stopped the implosion in China, and that their latest paddy wagon forays—–arresting the head of China’s third largest bank and hand-cuffing several hedge fund managers including the purported “Warren Buffett” of China—-are signs not of stabilization, but sheer desperation.
So it is not surprising that Korea’s October exports—–the first such data from anywhere in the world—were down by a whopping 16% from last year, and have now been down for 10 straight months. Needless to say, China is the number one destination for Korean exports.
Likewise, German export orders plummeted by 18% in September, and this was no one month blip.
A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S is scaling back capacity and cutting jobs in the world’s largest shipping line to adapt to a drop in demand.
The Danish company, which last month lowered its profit forecast for 2015 citing a gloomier outlook for the global shipping market, will shed 4,000 jobs in its Maersk Line unit as part of a program to “simplify the organization,” it said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday.
Standard Chartered Plc became the third European bank in less than two weeks to announce sweeping job cuts, bringing the total planned reductions to more than 30,000, or almost one in seven positions.
The London-based firm said Tuesday it will eliminate 15,000 jobs, or 17 percent of its workforce, as soaring bad loans in emerging markets hurt earnings. Deutsche Bank AG, based in Frankfurt, last week announced plans for 11,000 job cuts, while Credit Suisse Group AG said it would trim as many as 5,600 employees.
And if things are so great in the United States, why is Target suddenly closing stores?
The truth, of course, is that things are not great. Global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars is down 3.4 percent so far this year, and total global trade has plummeted 8.4 percent.
We have entered a major global economic slowdown, and like usual, equity markets will be the last to get the memo.
But when they finally do react, that is likely going to greatly accelerate our problems. Just like we saw in 2008, when there is fear and panic in the financial markets that tends to cause the flow of credit to freeze up. And that is something that we simply cannot afford, because the flow of credit has become the lifeblood of the global economy.
So no, “the crisis” is not “over”.
Rather, the truth is that “the crisis” is just beginning, and it will soon be making front page headlines all over the planet.
The warnings are getting louder. Is anybody listening? For months, I have been documenting on my website how the global financial system is absolutely primed for a crisis, and now some of the most important financial institutions in the entire world are warning about the exact same thing. For example, this week I was stunned to see that the Telegraph had published an article with the following ominous headline: “$3 trillion corporate credit crunch looms as debtors face day of reckoning, says IMF“. And actually what we are heading for would more accurately be described as a “credit freeze” or a “credit panic”, but a “credit crunch” will definitely work for now. The IMF is warning that the “dangerous over-leveraging” that we have been witnessing “threatens to unleash a wave of defaults” all across the globe…
Governments and central banks risk tipping the world into a fresh financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund has warned, as it called time on a corporate debt binge in the developing world.
Emerging market companies have “over-borrowed” by $3 trillion in the last decade, reflecting a quadrupling of private sector debt between 2004 and 2014, found the IMF’s Global Financial Stability Report.
This dangerous over-leveraging now threatens to unleash a wave of defaults that will imperil an already weak global economy, said stark findings from the IMF’s twice yearly report.
The IMF is actually telling the truth in this instance. We are in the midst of the greatest debt bubble the world has ever seen, and it is a monumental threat to the global financial system.
But even though we know about this threat, that doesn’t mean that we can do anything about it at this point or stop what is about to happen.
The Bank of England, the UN and the Bank for International Settlements have all issued similar ominous warnings. The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the Guardian…
The IMF’s warning echoes a chorus of others. The Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, has argued that the world is entering the latest episode of a “three-part crisis trilogy”. Unctad, the UN’s trade and development arm, would like to see advanced economies boost public spending to offset the downturn in emerging economies. The Bank for International Settlements believes interest rates have been too low for too long, encouraging too much risk-taking in financial markets. All of them fear that the global financial system is primed for a crisis.
I particularly like Andy Haldane’s likening our current situation to a “three-part crisis trilogy”. I think that is perfect. And if you are familiar with movie trilogies, then you know that the last episode is usually the biggest and the baddest.
Citigroup economist Willem Buiter also believes that big trouble is on the horizon. In fact, he is publicly warning of a “global recession” in 2016…
Citigroup economist Willem Buiter looks at the world landscape and sees an economy performing substantially below potential output, which he uses as the general benchmark for the idea of a global recession. With that in mind, he said the chances of a global recession in 2016 are growing.
“We think that the evidence suggests that the global output gap is negative and that the global economy is currently growing at a rate below global potential growth. The (negative) output gap is therefore widening,” Buiter said in a note to clients. He added, “from an output gap that was probably quite close to zero fairly recently, continued sub-par global growth is likely to put the global economy back into recession, if indeed the world ever fully emerged of the recession caused by the global financial crisis.”
Deutsche Bank’s new boss John Cryan set about cleaning up Germany’s biggest bank on Thursday, revealing a record pre-tax loss of 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in the third quarter and warning investors of a possible dividend cut.
Write downs, impairments and litigation costs all contributed to the loss, the bank said.
Cryan became chief executive in July with a promise to cut costs. The Briton is accelerating plans to shed assets and exit countries to shrink the bank and is preparing to ax about 23,000 jobs, or a quarter of the bank’s staff, sources told Reuters last month.
Keep an eye on Germany – the problems there are just beginning.
Something else that I am closely watching is the fact that major exporting nations such as China that used to buy up lots of U.S. government debt are now dumping that debt at an unprecedented pace. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
Five large purchasers of US Treasuries – China, Russia, Norway, Brazil, and Taiwan – have changed their minds. They’re dumping Treasuries, each for their own reasons that are now coinciding. And at the fastest rate on record.
For the 12-month period ended July, sales of Treasuries by central banks around the world reached a net of $123 billion, “the biggest decline since data started to be collected in 1978,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
China, the largest foreign owner of Treasuries – its hoard peaking at $1.317 trillion in November 2013 – has been unloading with particular passion. By July, the latest data available from the US Treasury Department, China’s pile was down to $1.241 trillion.
Yes, I know, the stock market went up once again on Thursday, and all of the irrational optimists are once again telling us that everything is going to be just fine.
The truth, of course, is that everything is not going to be just fine. Ever since I started the Economic Collapse Blog, I have never wavered in my belief that the greatest economic crisis that the United States has ever seen is coming, and I have written well over 1000 articles setting forth the case for the coming collapse in excruciating detail. Nobody is going to be able to say that I didn’t try to warn them.
Those that have blind faith in Barack Obama, Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and the other major central banks around the planet will continue to mock the idea that a major collapse is coming for as long as they can.
But when the day of reckoning does arrive and crisis coming knocking at their doors, what will they do then?
I am mourning for America, because she is dying. I am mourning for a nation that once knew such greatness but that has now fallen to depths that were once unimaginable. I am mourning for the death and destruction that are coming, and I am mourning for a future that our children and our grandchildren will never get to see. I am mourning for a nation that has refused to listen to the warnings and that now stands on the precipice of judgment. I am mourning for games that will never be played, for books that will never be finished, for family vacations that will never get to happen and for memories that will never be made. I am mourning for the economic depression that is coming, for the horror and suffering that friends and family will endure, and for the coming death of the country where I drew my first breath.
To many, these words will seem “over the top” and overly dramatic. After all, despite the thousands of problems facing this nation, things still seem very “normal” at this moment. Well, if you don’t “get” what I am saying right now, just bookmark this page and come back to it later. Eventually it will make sense to you.
Last week, I was invited to be a guest on a major television show that is beamed into the homes of millions of people in the United States and Canada. If you get a chance to view the shows that are being aired this week, you will notice that I wore all black.
I wasn’t just making a fashion statement. I was doing it because I am in mourning for America. Unlike so many that talk about the horrible things that are ahead for this country, I actually love the United States. I truly wish that this nation had become everything that it could have become. I love the part of the country where I currently live, I love the amazing people that I am constantly meeting, and I love the things that I have been able to experience just because I am an American.
Unfortunately, everything is about to change.
There are many out there that believe that America is still a great nation. Well, great nations do not murder tens of millions of their own children. As Dr. Chuck Missler has pointed out, the most dangerous place to be in America today is in a mother’s womb.
Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, more than 56 million babies have been purposely destroyed in this country.
What does a nation that has murdered 56 million of its own children deserve?
I believe that we have just come out of a season of time when America has been shown exactly why it is about to be judged.
It is no accident that the undercover Planned Parenthood videos were released when they were. Now the entire world knows that we slaughter our babies, harvest their organs and sell them off to the highest bidder.
So what has the response of the American people been to the revelation of this great evil?
Yes, a small minority of Americans have gotten upset, but most people have been completely unmoved by this news.
Our government gives Planned Parenthood hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and that isn’t going to change. Planned Parenthood is just going to keep doing what they do, and the American people are just going to go back to ignoring the unprecedented holocaust that is happening behind closed doors all over the nation.
This past summer we also witnessed what I believe is the perfect bookend for the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973. The institution of marriage was permanently altered in all 50 states, and most of the nation greatly rejoiced.
The White House was lit up with rainbow colors to honor what the Supreme Court did. The rainbow is a symbol of God’s covenant with Noah, and in the book of Revelation there is a rainbow around the throne of God. They have taken this symbol that belongs to God, and they are using it as a symbol of their defiance.
Of course these things that I have just mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. The truth is that evil is growing in this nation in thousands of different ways. Every year there are 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted disease in the United States, we have the highest divorce rate in the entire industrialized world, and nearly one out of every five American women say that they have been raped at some point in their lives. In the United States today, there are 60 million people that abuse alcohol and there are 22 million people that use illegal drugs. America produces more pornography than the rest of the world combined, and surveys have found that Christian men use it at just about the same rate as everyone else.
I will not be publishing an article tomorrow. In a few hours, Yom Kippur will begin where I live. It is the most solemn of all the holidays described in the Bible, and it is a time of repentance. I will be praying for myself, my family, my community and my nation.
If America had repented as a nation and had turned from her wicked ways, we would not have to go through the things that we are about to go through.
I believe that the time of grace that the United States has been given to repent is ending.
I know that this is very different from my usual format. Is it okay if I just share what is on my heart from time to time? On Thursday I will get back to sharing the facts, figures and hard information that you all have come to expect from me. But today when I woke up I just felt that I should share these things with you.
Very shortly, things are going to start changing in a major way.
America is dying, and the hardest times that any of us have ever seen are right in front of us.
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.
Corporations, individuals and the federal government continue to rack up debt at a rate that is far faster than the overall rate of economic growth. We are literally drowning in red ink from sea to shining sea, and yet we just can’t help ourselves. Consumer credit has doubled since the year 2000. Student loan debt has doubled over the course of the past decade. Business debt has doubled since 2006. And of course the debt of the federal government has doubled since 2007. Anyone that believes that this is “sustainable” in any way, shape or form is crazy. We have accumulated the greatest mountain of debt that the world has ever seen, and yet despite all of the warnings we just continue to race forward into financial oblivion. There is no possible way that this is going to end well.
Just the other day, a financial story that USA Today posted really got my attention. It contained charts and graphs that showed that business debt in the U.S. had doubled since 2006. I knew that things were bad, but I didn’t know that they were this bad. Back in 2006, just prior to the last major economic downturn, U.S. nonfinancial companies had a total of about 2.6 trillion dollars of debt. Now, that total has skyrocketed to 5.8 trillion…
Companies are sitting on a record $1.82 trillion in cash. That might sound impressive until you hear companies owe three times more – $5.8 trillion, according to a new report from Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.
Debt levels are soaring at U.S. non-financial companies so quickly – total debt outstanding rose $650 billion in 2014, which is six times faster than the $100 billion in added cash.
So are we in better condition to handle an economic crisis than we were the last time, or are we in worse shape?
Let’s look at another category of debt. According to new data that just came out, the total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. is up to a staggering 1.2 trillion dollars. That total has more than doubled over the past decade…
New data released by The Associated Press shows student loan debt is over $1.2 trillion, which is more than double the amount of a decade ago.
Students are facing an average of $35,000 in debt, that’s the highest of any graduating class in U.S. history. A senior at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Jon Cheek, knows the struggle first hand.
“It’s been a pretty big concern, I work while I go to school. I applied for a bunch of scholarships and done everything I can to try and keep it low,” said Cheek.
And of course it isn’t just student loan debt. American consumers have had a love affair with debt that stretches back for decades. As the chart below demonstrates, overall consumer credit has more than doubled since the year 2000…
If our paychecks were increasing at this same pace, that would be one thing. But they aren’t. In fact, real median household income is actually lower today than it was just prior to the last economic crisis.
So American households should actually be cutting back on debt. But instead, they are just piling on more debt, and the financial predators are becoming even more creative. In a previous article, I discussed how many auto loans are now being stretched out for seven years. At this point, the number of auto loans that exceed 72 months is at an all-time high…
The average new car loan has reached a record 67 months, reports Experian, the Ireland-based information-services company. The percentage of loans with terms of 73 to 84 months also reached a new high of 29.5% in the first quarter of 2015, up from 24.9% a year earlier.
Long-term used-vehicle loans also broke records with loan terms of 73 to 84 months reaching 16% in the first quarter 2015, up from 12.94% — also the highest on record.
When will we learn?
The crash of 2008 should have been a wake up call.
We should have acknowledged our mistakes and we should have started doing things very differently.
But instead, we just kept on making the exact same mistakes. In fact, our long-term financial problems have continued to accelerate since the last recession. Just look at what has happened to our national debt. Just prior to the last recession, the U.S. national debt was sitting at approximately 9 trillion dollars. Today, it is over 18 trillion dollars…
Our debt has grown so large that we will never be able to get out from under it. This is something that I covered in my recent article entitled “It Is Mathematically Impossible To Pay Off All Of Our Debt“. Because of our recklessness, our children, our grandchildren and all future generations of Americans are consigned to a lifetime of debt slavery. What we have done to them is beyond criminal. If we lived in a just society, a whole bunch of people would be going to prison for the rest of their lives over this.
During fiscal year 2014, the debt of the federal government increased by more than a trillion dollars. But in addition to that, the federal government has more than seven trillion dollars of debt that must be “rolled over” every year. In other words, the government must issue more than seven trillion dollars of new debt just to pay off old debts that are coming due.
As long as the rest of the world continues to lend us enormous mountains of money at ridiculously low interest rates, we can continue to keep our heads above the water. But this can change at any time. And once it does, interest rates will rise. If the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was to return to the long-term average, we would very quickly find ourselves spending more than a trillion dollars a year just on interest on the national debt.
The debt-fueled prosperity that we are enjoying now is not real. It is a false prosperity that has been purchased by selling future generations into debt slavery. We have mortgaged the future to make our own lives better.
We are addicts. We are addicted to debt, and no matter how many warnings we receive, we just can’t help ourselves.
Are we on the verge of a major worldwide economic downturn? Well, if recent warnings from prominent bankers all over the world are to be believed, that may be precisely what we are facing in the months ahead. As you will read about below, the big banks are warning that the price of oil could soon drop as low as 20 dollars a barrel, that a Greek exit from the eurozone could push the EUR/USD down to 0.90, and that the global economy could shrink by more than 2 trillion dollars in 2015. Most of the time, very few people ever actually read the things that the big banks write for their clients. But in recent months, a lot of these bankers are issuing such ominous warnings that you would think that they have started to write for The Economic Collapse Blog. Of course we have seen this happen before. Just before the financial crisis of 2008, a lot of people at the big banks started to get spooked, and now we are beginning to see an atmosphere of fear spread on Wall Street once again. Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next, but an increasing number of experts are starting to agree that it won’t be good.
Let’s start with oil. Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen a nice rally for the price of oil. It has bounced back into the low 50s, which is still a catastrophically low level, but it has many hoping for a rebound to a range that will be healthy for the global economy.
Unfortunately, many of the experts at the big banks are now anticipating that the exact opposite will happen instead. For example, Citibank says that we could see the price of oil go as low as 20 dollars this year…
The recent rally in crude prices looks more like a head-fake than a sustainable turning point — The drop in US rig count, continuing cuts in upstream capex, the reading of technical charts, and investor short position-covering sustained the end-January 8.1% jump in Brent and 5.8% jump in WTI into the first week of February.
Short-term market factors are more bearish, pointing to more price pressure for the next couple of months and beyond — Not only is the market oversupplied, but the consequent inventory build looks likely to continue toward storage tank tops. As on-land storage fills and covers the carry of the monthly spreads at ~$0.75/bbl, the forward curve has to steepen to accommodate a monthly carry closer to $1.20, putting downward pressure on prompt prices. As floating storage reaches its limits, there should be downward price pressure to shut in production.
The oil market should bottom sometime between the end of Q1 and beginning of Q2 at a significantly lower price level in the $40 range — after which markets should start to balance, first with an end to inventory builds and later on with a period of sustained inventory draws. It’s impossible to call a bottom point, which could, as a result of oversupply and the economics of storage, fall well below $40 a barrel for WTI, perhaps as low as the $20 range for a while.
Even though rigs are shutting down at a pace that we have not seen since the last recession, overall global supply still significantly exceeds overall global demand. Barclays analyst Michael Cohen recently told CNBC that at this point the total amount of excess supply is still in the neighborhood of a million barrels per day…
“What we saw in the last couple weeks is rig count falling pretty precipitously by about 80 or 90 rigs per week, but we think there are more important things to be focused on and that rig count doesn’t tell the whole story.”
He expects to see some weakness going into the shoulder season for demand. In addition, there is an excess supply of about a million barrels of oil a day, he said.
And the truth is that many firms simply cannot afford to shut down their rigs. Many are leveraged to the hilt and are really struggling just to service their debt payments. They have to keep pumping so that they can have revenue to meet their financial obligations. The following comes directly from the Bank for International Settlements…
“Against this background of high debt, a fall in the price of oil weakens the balance sheets of producers and tightens credit conditions, potentially exacerbating the price drop as a result of sales of oil assets, for example, more production is sold forward,” BIS said.
“Second, in flow terms, a lower price of oil reduces cash flows and increases the risk of liquidity shortfalls in which firms are unable to meet interest payments. Debt service requirements may induce continued physical production of oil to maintain cash flows, delaying the reduction in supply in the market.”
In the end, a lot of these energy companies are going to go belly up if the price of oil does not rise significantly this year. And any financial institutions that are exposed to the debt of these companies or to energy derivatives will likely be in a great deal of distress as well.
Meanwhile, the overall global economy continues to slow down.
On Monday, we learned that the Baltic Dry Index has dropped to the lowest level ever. Not even during the darkest depths of the last recession did it drop this low.
And there are some at the big banks that are warning that this might just be the beginning. For instance, David Kostin of Goldman Sachs is projecting that sales growth for S&P 500 companies will be zero percent for all of 2015…
“Consensus now forecasts 0% S&P 500 sales growth in 2015 following a 5% cut in revenue forecasts since October. Low oil prices along with FX headwinds and pension charges have weighed on 4Q EPS results and expectations for 2015.”
Others are even more pessimistic than that. According to Bank of America, the global economy will actually shrink by 2.3 trillion dollars in 2015.
One thing that could greatly accelerate our economic problems is the crisis in Greece. If there is no compromise and a new Greek debt deal is not reached, there is a very real possibility that Greece could leave the eurozone.
If Greece does leave the eurozone, the continued existence of the monetary union will be thrown into doubt and the euro will utterly collapse.
Of course I am not the only one saying these things. Analysts at Morgan Stanley are even projecting that the EUR/USD could plummet to 0.90 if there is a “Grexit”…
The Greek Prime Minister has reaffirmed his government’s rejection of the country’s international bailout programme two days before an emergency meeting with the euro area’s finance ministers on Wednesday. His declaration suggested increasing minimum wages, restoring the income tax-free threshold and halting infrastructure privatisations. Should Greece stay firm on its current anti-bailout course and with the ECB not accepting Greek T-bills as collateral, the position of ex-Fed Chairman Greenspan will gain increasing credibility. He forecast the eurozone to break as private investors will withdraw from providing short-term funding to Greece. Greece leaving the currency union would convert the union into a club of fixed exchange rates, a type of ERM III, leading to further fragmentation. Greek Fin Min Varoufakis said the euro will collapse if Greece exits, calling Italian debt unsustainable. Markets may gain the impression that Greece may not opt for a compromise, instead opting for an all or nothing approach when negotiating on Wednesday. It seems the risk premium of Greece leaving EMU is rising. Our scenario analysis suggests a Greek exit taking EURUSD down to 0.90.
People have such short memories. Even though we are repeating so many of the same patterns that we witnessed in 2000-2001 and 2007-2008, most people do not think that another financial crash is coming. In fact, with the stock market setting record high after record high lately, I have been taking quite a bit of criticism for my relentless warnings about the coming financial storm. Many of the comments go something like this: “Snyder you are a moron! Nothing you say ever comes true. The stock market is going to keep on rocking and Obama is going to lead this country back to greatness. I hope that you choke on all of your doom and gloom.” Of course these critics never offer any hard evidence that I have been wrong about anything. They just assume that since the stock market has soared to unprecedented heights that all of us “bears” must have been wrong.
But the truth is that what we are observing right now is classic bubble behavior. The stock market crashes of 1929, 1987 and 2008 were all preceded by irrational market rallies in the spring or summer. The financial markets have become completely divorced from economic reality, and such a state of affairs never lasts forever. It is just a matter of time before a correction comes.
But every time there is a bubble, most people end up getting caught up in all of the euphoria. And it is happening again. In fact, CNBC has just reported that bearishness among market newsletter writers is the lowest that it has been since 1987. But of course we all remember what happened back in 1987…
Professional investors haven’t had this little fear about stocks since Ronald Reagan was president.
It was the same year Michael Jackson told us in a song he was “Bad.” The New York Giants won the Super Bowl.
And oh yeah … by the way … the stock market crashed.
As gauged by the weekly Investors Intelligence report, bearishness among market newsletter writers has fallen to 13.3 percent, a level it has not seen since 1987 as the market continues to set new highs despite a seemingly endless call for a long-overdue correction.
People need to understand that just because something has not happened yet does not mean that it is not going to happen.
In this day and age, we have extremely short attention spans and we do not have the patience to wait for much of anything. But the financial world is not a game of checkers. It is a game of chess where things can take an extended period of time to play out.
Those that are mocking those of us that are bearish should consider where we stand financially in comparison to previous crash cycles. For example, the derivatives bubble is 20 percent larger than it was back in 2008, the “too big to fail banks” are 37 percent larger than they were back in 2008 and global debt levels are 40 percent larger than they were back in 2008.
In other words, many of our long-term economic problems are a lot worse than they were just prior to the last major financial meltdown.
But most people pay such little attention to the fundamentals these days. All they can see is that little stock market ticker going up and up and up.
Other analysts with much stronger credentials than I are issuing similar ominous warnings about what is ahead for the financial markets.
Shiller, a Yale University professor who is often cited as one of the most influential people in economics and finance in the world, created a metric that compares stock prices with corporate profits. The metric recently climbed above 25. That level has only been surpassed three times since 1881: 1929, 1999 and 2007.
Steep market tumbles followed each instance, including the bursting of the dotcom bubble in the early 2000s.
But it doesn’t take a genius to see this.
Just look at the chart of the NASDAQ that I have posted below. The “dotcom bubble” in 2000 is really easy to see. So why can’t more people recognize the bubble that is happening now?…
When you look at medians, or in other words the typical stock, valuations are higher today than they were at the peak in 1999-2000.
For example, the median stock today is 20 times earnings. In January 2000, it was 16 times.
The median stock today trades at 2.5 times “book” or net asset value. At the start of 2000 it was just 2.2 times.
The median stock today trades for 1.8 times annual per-share revenues. In 2000: just 1.4 times.
What we are experiencing is not normal.
And this is especially true considering the fact that our overall economic performance is tepid at best.
A stock market correction is coming.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Some of the most prominent names in the financial world are warning about the coming correction. Two of them were recently interviewed by CNBC…
A jolt to international confidence in central banks will lead to a 30 to 60 percent market decline, David Tice, president of Tice Capital and founder of the Prudent Bear Fund, told CNBC’s “Power Lunch.” When this happens, he said, markets will face a “period of extreme turmoil.”
This crash will be precipitated, he said, by a disillusionment with the Federal Reserve’s “confidence game,” which will then see inflation rise, and the Fed scramble to raise rates. At that point, Tice added, “the Fed starts to lose control.”
Another market watcher also called for an impending fall.
The Fed’s low interest rates could bring a “scary” 50-60 percent market correction, said technical analyst Abigail Doolittle.
“Unfortunately, I think it could come on a crash similar to what happened in 2007,” Doolittle, the founder of Peak Theories Research, said on “Squawk Box” a day after the S&P 500 closed above the 2,000 level for the first time ever. “It’s tough to know what the exact catalyst will be. But that’s the very nature of that kind of selloff. They start slowly and then happen very suddenly.”
And as Zero Hedge has pointed out, billionaires such as Sam Zell, George Soros, Stan Druckenmiller and Carl Icahn all seem to be “quietly preparing” for the next crash.
Yes, the next financial crash has taken longer to come to fruition than many had anticipated. But as I have discussed so many times before, this is a very good thing. We should want this period of relative stability to last for as long as possible. The longer that things remain relatively stable, the longer that all of us have to prepare and to position ourselves for the financial chaos that is coming.
Financial markets have been exuberant over the past year, […] dancing mainly to the tune of central bank decisions. Volatility in equity, fixed income and foreign exchange markets has sagged to historical lows. Obviously, market participants are pricing in hardly any risks.
Many have expected me to “change my tune” about the coming collapse because of how well the stock market has been performing.
A U.S. debt default that lasts for more than a couple of days could potentially cause a financial crash unlike anything that the world has ever seen before. If the U.S. government purposely wanted to damage the global financial system, the best way that they could do that would be to default on U.S. debt obligations. A U.S. debt default would cause stocks to crash, would cause bonds to crash, would cause interest rates to soar wildly out of control, would cause a massive credit crunch, and would cause a derivatives panic that would be absolutely unprecedented. And that would just be for starters. But don’t just take my word for it. These are the things that top financial experts all over the planet are saying will happen if there is an extended U.S. debt default.
Because they are so close together, the “government shutdown” and the “debt ceiling deadline” are being confused by many Americans.
As I wrote about the other day, the “partial government shutdown” that we are experiencing right now is pretty much a non-event. Yeah, some national parks are shut down and some federal workers will have their checks delayed, but it is not the end of the world. In fact, only about 17 percent of the federal government is actually shut down at the moment. This “shutdown” could continue for many more weeks and it would not affect the global economy too much.
On the other hand, if the debt ceiling deadline (approximately October 17th) passes without an agreement that would be extremely dangerous.
And if the U.S. government is eventually forced to start delaying interest payments on U.S. debt (which could potentially happen as soon as November), that would be absolutely catastrophic.
Once again, just don’t take my word for it. The following are 12 very ominous warnings about what a U.S. debt default would mean for the global economy…
#7Chinese vice finance minister Zhu Guangyao: “The U.S. is clearly aware of China’s concerns about the financial stalemate [in Washington] and China’s request for the US to ensure the safety of Chinese investments.”
#8The U.S. Treasury Department: “A default would be unprecedented and has the potential to be catastrophic: credit markets could freeze, the value of the dollar could plummet, U.S. interest rates could skyrocket, the negative spillovers could reverberate around the world, and there might be a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse”
#9Goldman Sachs: “We estimate that the fiscal pull-back would amount to 9pc of GDP. If this were allowed to occur, it could lead to a rapid downturn in economic activity if not reversed quickly”
#12Bloomberg: “Anyone who remembers the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. little more than five years ago knows what a global financial disaster is. A U.S. government default, just weeks away if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling as it now threatens to do, will be an economic calamity like none the world has ever seen.”
A U.S. debt default could be the trigger for the “nightmare scenario” that so many people have been writing about in recent years. In fact, it could greatly accelerate the timetable for the inevitable economic collapse that is coming. A recent Yahoo article described some of the things that we would likely see in the event of an extended U.S. debt default…
A default would upend money markets, destroy bond funds, slam the brakes on lending, cause interest rates to spiral, make our banks insolvent, and deal a blow to our foreign trading partners and creditors around the globe; all of which would throw the U.S. and the world into economic disarray.
And of course stocks would crash big time. Deutsche Bank’s David Bianco believes that if the U.S. government starts missing interest payments on U.S. Treasury bonds, we could see the S&P 500 go down to 850 by the end of the year.
There would be almost immediate panic among ordinary Americans as well. In fact, it is being reported that some banks are already stuffing their ATM machines will extra cash just in case…
With just 10 days left to raise the debt ceiling and congressional Republicans threatening to force the government to default on its obligations, banks are taking some dramatic steps to prepare for the economic chaos that would result should the brinkmanship continue.
The Financial Times reports that one major U.S. bank has started stuffing its automatic teller machines with extra cash in preparation for a possible bank run from panicked depositors. The New York Times reports that another bank is weighing a plan to advance funds to customers who rely on Social Security and other government payments that could stop in the event of a default.
Let’s hope that cooler heads will prevail and that a U.S. debt default will be avoided.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Democrats are absolutely determined not to be moved from their current position a single inch. They have decided to refuse to negotiate and demand that the Republicans give them every single thing that they want.
And who can really blame them for adopting that strategy? After all, it has certainly worked in the past. Whenever Democrats have stood united and have refused to give a single inch, the Republicans have always freaked out and caved in eventually.
Will this time be any different?
The funny thing is that once upon a time, Barack Obama was adamantly against any increase in the debt limit. The following comes courtesy of Zero Hedge…
But now Obama says that it is so unreasonable to be opposed to a debt limit increase that any negotiations are out of the question.
So which Obama is right?
If the Democrats will not negotiate, a debt default could still be avoided if the Republicans give in.
And that is what they always do, right?
Perhaps not this time. Just check out what John Boehner had to say on Sunday…
“I, working with my members, decided to do this in a unified way,” the speaker said — with demands to defund, delay or otherwise alter the Affordable Care Act.
Boehner had expected that the Obamacare fight would come during the next vote to raise the debt ceiling, “but, you know, working with my members, they decided, let’s do it now,” he said. “And the fact is, this fight was going to come, one way or another. We’re in the fight. We don’t want to shut the government down. We’ve passed bills to pay the troops. We passed bills to make sure the federal employees know that they’re going to be paid throughout this.”
“You’ve never seen a more dedicated group of people who are thoroughly concerned about the future of our country,” he said of House Republicans. “It is time for us to stand and fight.”
But will the Republicans really stand and fight?
In the past, betting on the intestinal fortitude of the Republican Party has been a loser every single time.
So we’ll see. Boehner insists that this time is different. Boehner insists that he is not going to fold like a 20 dollar suit this time. In fact, when he was asked if the U.S. government was headed toward a debt default if Obama continued to refuse to negotiate, Boehner made the following statement…
“That’s the path we’re on.”
The mainstream media has certainly been placing most of the blame at the feet of the Republicans, but at least the U.S. House of Representatives has been trying to get an agreement reached. The House has voted 26 times since the Senate last voted. Harry Reid has essentially shut the Senate down until the Republicans fold and give the Democrats exactly what they want.
The funny thing is that this could probably be solved very easily. If the Democrats agreed to a one year delay to the individual mandate, the Republicans would probably jump at it. And because of epic technical failures, hardly anyone has been able to get signed up for Obamacare anyway. So a one year delay would give the Obama administration time to get their act together.
Unfortunately, the Democrats seem absolutely obsessed with the idea that they will not give the Republicans one single inch. They seem to believe that this will be to their political benefit.
But this is a very dangerous game that they are playing. The U.S. government must roll over 441 billion dollars of short-term debt between October 18th and November 15th.
If a debt ceiling increase is not in place by that time, it will send interest rates soaring. Borrowing costs for state and local governments, corporations, and ordinary Americans will go through the roof and economic activity will be hit really hard.
And as detailed above, we could potentially be looking at a financial crash that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.
So let us hope for a political solution soon. That will at least kick the can down the road for a little bit longer.
If a debt default were to happen before the end of this year, that would bring a tremendous amount of future economic pain into the here and now, and the consequences would likely be far greater than any of us could possibly imagine.