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41 IMF Bailouts And Counting – How Long Before The Entire System Collapses?

Nuclear Sign And Money Symbols - Photo by CannedcatBroke nations are bailing out other broke nations with borrowed money.  Round and round we go – where we stop nobody knows.  As of April, 41 different countries had active financial “arrangements” with the IMF.  Sometimes they are called “bailouts” and sometimes they are called other things, but in every single case they involve loans.  And most of the time, these loans come with very stringent conditions.  It is a form of “global governance” that most people don’t even know about.  For decades, the IMF has been able to use money as a way to force developing nations to do what it wants them to do.  But up until fairly recently, this had mostly only been done with poor nations.  But now an increasing number of wealthy nations are turning to the IMF for help.  We have already seen Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus receive bailouts which were partly funded by the IMF, Spain has received a bailout for its banking sector, and as I noted yesterday, it is being projected that Italy will need a major bailout within six months.  How long can this go on before the entire system collapses?

Well, that would depend on how much money the lender has.

And so where does the IMF get their money?

The IMF gets their money from a bunch of nations that are absolutely drowning in debt themselves.

The IMF is funded by “wealthy” nations that dominate the global economy.  The following is how Wikipedia describes the IMF’s quota system…

The IMF’s quota system was created to raise funds for loans. Each IMF member country is assigned a quota, or contribution, that reflects the country’s relative size in the global economy. Each member’s quota also determines its relative voting power. Thus, financial contributions from member governments are linked to voting power in the organization.

These are the five largest contributors to IMF funding…

United States – 16.75%

Japan – 6.23%

Germany – 5.81%

France – 4.29%

UK – 4.29%

But those countries are in trouble themselves.  The U.S. has a debt to GDP ratio of over 100%.  Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of over 200%.

The truth is that these countries are funding the IMF with borrowed money.

So what happens when the contributors run out of money and can’t contribute anymore?

All over the globe, an increasing number of countries are reaching out to the IMF for help.  For example, on Thursday we learned that Pakistan is getting a new bailout from the IMF…

Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund have reached an initial agreement on a bailout of at least $5.3 billion.

Pakistani Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar and IMF mission chief Jeffrey Franks announced the agreement at a press conference Thursday.

And the new government in Egypt is hoping that the revolution that just occurred will not stop the flow of IMF funds…

In recent months, a handful of neighboring countries such as Qatar have been keeping Egypt’s economy afloat by loaning the country’s central bank cash. That has bought Morsi government time to delay implementing the politically-sensitive measures the IMF has sought as a precondition before it gives Cairo a $4.8 billion credit line. In particular, the IMF had said that Egypt must raise taxes and begin phasing out fuel subsidies.

It’s not the only cash at stake. Other international donors have vowed another $9.7 billion for the country once the IMF program is in place. Roughly $1.55 billion in bilateral aid from Washington could also be held up: under U.S. law, the administration can’t loan money to countries where the military is involved in an unconstitutional change in government.

But what often happens with these bailouts is that the “conditions” that are imposed prove extremely difficult to meet.  For example, Greece has not implemented all of the “reforms” that they were ordered to implement, and so the flow of future funds may be threatened…

As Greece looks set to miss a key reform deadline set by international lenders, which could jeopardize further financial aid, a Greek government minister said it wasn’t Greece’s fault that it couldn’t live up to the demands of a flawed bailout program.

“There are failures [by Greece],but you assume that the program that has been effectively imposed on us is perfect, which is far from the case,” Nikos Dendias, minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, told CNBC on Thursday.

His comments come after Greek finance ministry officials said on Wednesday that Greece would not meet targets on reforming its public sector by the deadline set by international lenders, putting further financial aid in jeopardy.

Once a nation gets hooked on bailout money from the IMF or from other international sources, it can be very hard to get off of it.  But that is what these globalist organizations like – they want to be able to use money as a form of control.

As we saw with Greece, sometimes a nation will need bailout after bailout.  And it appears that is also going to be the case with Portugal.  The Portuguese government is on the verge of collapsing and their financial situation is being described as “very fragile”

Portugal had been held up as an example of a bailout country doing all the right things to get its economy back in shape. That reputation is now harder to sustain and even before this latest crisis, the International Monetary Fund reported last month that Lisbon’s debt position was “very fragile”.

Coming soon after the near-collapse of the Greek government, which has been given until Monday to show it can meet the demands of its own EU-IMF bailout, the euro zone may be on the brink of falling back into full-on crisis.

Right now, Portuguese bond yields are absolutely soaring and the Portuguese economy is rapidly heading into depression.

Portugal is going to desperately need the assistance of the IMF.

But what happens when the nations that primarily fund the IMF start failing themselves?

The U.S. is a complete and total financial disaster and so is Japan.  Much of Europe is already experiencing a full-blown economic depression and even China is showing signs of trouble.

So if the “wealthy” nations fail, who is going to be there to help the “poor” nations?

The Biggest Ponzi Scheme In The History Of The World

America Is BrokeDid you know that you are involved in the most massive Ponzi scheme that has ever existed?  To illustrate my point, allow me to tell you a little story.  Once upon a time, there was a man named Sam.  When he was younger, he had been a very principled young man that had worked incredibly hard and that had built a large number of tremendously successful businesses.  He became fabulously wealthy and he accumulated far more gold than anyone else on the planet.  But when he started to get a little older he forgot the values of his youth.  He started making really bad decisions and some of his relatives started to take advantage of him.  One particularly devious relative was a nephew named Fred.  One day Fred approached his uncle Sam with a scheme that his friends the bankers had come up with.  What happened next would change the course of Sam’s life forever.

Even though Sam was the wealthiest man in the world by far, Fred convinced Sam that he could have an even higher standard of living by going into a little bit of debt.  In exchange for IOUs issued by his uncle Sam, Fred would give him paper notes that he printed off on his printing press.  Since the paper notes would be backed by the gold that Sam was holding, everyone would consider them to be valuable.  Sam could take those paper notes and spend them on whatever his heart desired.  Uncle Sam started to do this, and he started to become addicted to all of the nice things that those paper notes would buy him.

Fred took the IOUs that he received from his uncle and he auctioned them off to the bankers.  But there was a problem.  The IOUs issued by Uncle Sam had to be paid back with interest.  When the time came to pay back the IOUs, Uncle Sam could not afford to pay back the debts, pay the interest on those debts, and buy all of the nice things that he wanted.  So Uncle Sam issued even more IOUs than before so that he could get enough notes to pay off his debts.  As time rolled on, this pattern just kept on repeating.  Uncle Sam repeatedly paid off his old debts by taking out even larger new debts.

Meanwhile, since the notes that Uncle Sam was using were backed by gold, everyone else in the world decided to start using them to trade with one another.  This was greatly beneficial to Uncle Sam, because the rest of the world was glad to send him oil, home electronics, plastic trinkets and anything else that Uncle Sam wanted in exchange for his gold-backed notes.

Eventually, however, the rest of the world started to suspect that the number of gold-backed notes that Uncle Sam was issuing far exceeded the amount of gold that Uncle Sam actually had.  So the rest of the world started to trade in their notes for gold.

And by that time Uncle Sam definitely did not have enough gold to back up his notes.  Realizing that the scheme was starting to collapse, one day Uncle Sam announced that his notes would no longer be backed by gold.  But he insisted that the rest of the world should continue using his notes because he was the wealthiest man on the planet and everyone should just trust him.

And the rest of the world did continue to trust him, although it wasn’t the same as before.

As Uncle Sam got greedier and greedier, he started to issue IOUs and spend notes at a rate that nobody ever dreamed possible.  The great businesses that Uncle Sam had built when he was younger were starting to decline, and Uncle Sam started buying far more stuff from the rest of the world than they bought from him.  The rest of the world was still glad to take Uncle Sam’s notes because they used them to trade with one another, but they started accumulating far more notes than they actually needed.

Not sure exactly what to do with mountains of these notes, the rest of the world started to loan them back to Uncle Sam.  It eventually got to the point where Uncle Sam owed the rest of the world trillions of these notes.  Even though the notes were losing value at a rate of close to 10 percent a year, Uncle Sam somehow convinced the rest of the world to loan him notes at an average rate of interest of less than 3 percent a year.

One day Uncle Sam woke up and realized that the amount of debt that he owed was now more than 5000 times larger than it was when Fred had first approached him with this ill-fated scheme.  Uncle Sam now owed more than 16 trillion notes to his creditors, and Uncle Sam had already made future financial commitments of 202 trillion notes that he would never be able to pay.  Meanwhile, the notes that Fred had been printing up for Uncle Sam were now worth less than 5 percent of their original value.  Uncle Sam was becoming concerned because some of his other relatives were warning that this whole scheme was about to collapse.

Sadly, Uncle Sam did not listen to them.  Uncle Sam knew that if he admitted how fraudulent the financial scheme was, the rest of the world would quit sending him all of the things that he needed in exchange for his notes and they would quit lending his notes back to him at super low interest rates.

And if the rest of the world lost confidence in his notes and quit using them, Uncle Sam knew that his standard of living would go way, way down.  That was something that Uncle Sam could not bear to have happen.

When a financial crisis almost caused the scheme to crash in 2008, a desperate Uncle Sam went to Fred and asked for help.  In response, Fred started printing up far more notes than ever before and started directly buying up large amounts of IOUs from Uncle Sam with the notes that he was creating out of thin air.  Fred hoped that the rest of the world would not notice what he was doing.

It seemed to work for a little while, but then an even worse financial crisis came along.  Once again, Uncle Sam started issuing massive amounts of new IOUs and Fred started printing up giant mountains of new notes to try to fix things, but their desperate attempts to keep the system going were to no avail.  The rest of the world started to realize that they had been sucked into a massive Ponzi scheme, and they lost confidence in the notes that Uncle Sam was using.  Suddenly nobody wanted to lend notes to Uncle Sam at super low interest rates anymore, and people started asking for far more notes in exchange for the things that Uncle Sam wanted.

Uncle Sam’s standard of living dropped dramatically.  Since he could no longer flood the world with his notes, Uncle Sam could not continue to consume far, far more wealth than he produced.  Uncle Sam sunk into a deep depression as he watched the scheme fall apart all around him.

Uncle Sam had once been the wealthiest man on the entire planet, but now he was a broke, tired old man that was absolutely drowning in debt.  Unfortunately, once he was down on his luck the rest of the world did not have any compassion for him.  In fact, much of the rest of the world celebrated the downfall of Uncle Sam.

All of this could have been avoided if Uncle Sam had never agreed to Fred’s crazy scheme.  And once Uncle Sam made the decision to stop backing his notes with gold, it was only a matter of time before the scheme was going to collapse.

Does this little story sound crazy to you?  It shouldn’t.  The truth is that you are involved in such a scheme right now.  In case you haven’t figured it out, “Uncle Sam” is the United States, the “notes” are U.S. dollars, and “Fred” is the Federal Reserve.

Please share this story with as many people as you can.  Our country is headed for complete and total financial disaster, and we need to get people educated about this while there is still time.

21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know

21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know - Phot by D. Sharon PruittIf the economy is getting better, then why does poverty in America continue to grow so rapidly?  Yes, the stock market has been hitting all-time highs recently, but also the number of Americans living in poverty has now reached a level not seen since the 1960s.  Yes, corporate profits are at levels never seen before, but so is the number of Americans on food stamps.  Yes, housing prices have started to rebound a little bit (especially in wealthy areas), but there are also more than a million public school students in America that are homeless.  That is the first time that has ever happened in U.S. history.  So should we measure our economic progress by the false stock market bubble that has been inflated by Ben Bernanke’s reckless money printing, or should we measure our economic progress by how the poor and the middle class are doing?  Because if we look at how average Americans are doing these days, then there is not much to be excited about.  In fact, poverty continues to experience explosive growth in the United States and the middle class continues to shrink.  Sadly, the truth is that things are not getting better for most Americans.  With each passing year the level of economic suffering in this country continues to go up, and we haven’t even reached the next major wave of the economic collapse yet.  When that strikes, the level of economic pain in this nation is going to be off the charts.

The following are 21 statistics about the explosive growth of poverty in America that everyone should know…

1 – According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one out of every six Americans is now living in poverty.  The number of Americans living in poverty is now at a level not seen since the 1960s.

2 – When you add in the number of low income Americans it is even more sobering.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.

3 – Today, approximately 20 percent of all children in the United States are living in poverty.  Incredibly, a higher percentage of children is living in poverty in America today than was the case back in 1975.

4 – It may be hard to believe, but approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are currently living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

5 – Poverty is the worst in our inner cities.  At this point, 29.2 percent of all African-American households with children are dealing with food insecurity.

6 – According to a recently released report, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

7 – The number of children living on $2.00 a day or less in the United States has grown to 2.8 million.  That number has increased by 130 percent since 1996.

8 – For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

9 – Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.

10 – One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.

11 – At this point, approximately one out of every three children in the U.S. lives in a home without a father.

12 – Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

13 – Today, there are approximately 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

14 – About 40 percent of all unemployed workers in America have been out of work for at least half a year.

15 – At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

16 – There has been an explosion in the number of “working poor” Americans in recent years.  Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the poverty level.

17 – Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  And that does not even include Social Security or Medicare.

18 – An all-time record 47.79 million Americans are now on food stamps.  Back when Barack Obama first took office, that number was only sitting at about 32 million.

19 – The number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of Spain.

20 – According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

21 – Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, close to one out of every six Americans is on food stamps.  Even more shocking is the fact that more than one out of every four children in the United States is enrolled in the food stamp program.

Unfortunately, all of these problems are a result of our long-term economic decline.  In a recent article for the New York Times, David Stockman, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, did a brilliant job of describing how things have degenerated over the last decade…

Since the S&P 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion). Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year (the slowest since the Civil War); real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year; and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent. The real net worth of the “bottom” 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. The number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million, about one in five Americans.

For the last couple of years, the U.S. economy has experienced a bubble of false hope that has been produced by unprecedented amounts of government debt and unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve.

Unfortunately, that bubble of false hope is not going to last much longer.  In fact, we are already seeing signs that it is getting ready to burst.

For example, initial claims for unemployment benefits shot up to 385,000 for the week ending March 30th.

That is perilously close to the 400,000 “danger level” that I keep warning about.  Once we cross the 400,000 level and stay there, it will be time to go into crisis mode.

In the years ahead, it is going to become increasingly difficult to find a job.  Just the other day I saw an article about an advertisement for a recent job opening at a McDonald’s in Massachusetts that required applicants to have “one to two years experience and a bachelor’s degree“.

If you need a bachelor’s degree for a job at McDonald’s, then what in the world are blue collar workers going to do when the competition for jobs becomes really intense once the economy experiences another major downturn?

Do not be fooled by the fact that the Dow has been setting new all-time highs.  The truth is that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and things are going to get a lot worse.  If you know someone that is not convinced of this yet, just share the following article with them: “Show This To Anyone That Believes That ‘Things Are Getting Better’ In America“.

So what are all of you seeing in your own areas?

Are you seeing signs that poverty is getting worse?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Homeless And Cold - Photo By Ed Yourdon

This Is What It Feels Like To Have Your Life Savings Confiscated By The Global Elite

This Is What It Feels Like To Have Your Life Savings Confiscated By The Global Elite - Photo by Hannibal PoenaruWhat would you do if you woke up one day and discovered that the banksters had “legally” stolen about 80 percent of your life savings?  Most people seem to assume that most of the depositors that are getting ripped off in Cyprus are “Russian oligarchs” or “wealthy European tycoons”, but the truth is that they are only just part of the story.  As you will see below, there are small businesses and aging retirees that have been absolutely devastated by the wealth confiscation that has taken place in Cyprus.  Many businesses can no longer meet their payrolls or pay their bills because their funds have been frozen, and many retirees have seen retirement plans that they have been working toward for decades absolutely destroyed in a matter of days.  Sometimes it can be hard to identify with events that are happening on the other side of the globe, but I want you to try to put yourself into their shoes for a few minutes.  How would you feel if something like this happened to you?

For example, just consider the case of one 65-year-old retiree that has had his life savings totally wiped out by the “wealth tax” in Cyprus.  His very sad story was recently featured by the Sydney Morning Herald

”Very bad, very, very bad,” says 65-year-old John Demetriou, rubbing tears from his lined face with thick fingers. ”I lost all my money.”

John now lives in the picturesque fishing village of Liopetri on Cyprus’ south coast. But for 35 years he lived at Bondi Junction and worked days, nights and weekends in Sydney markets selling jewellery and imitation jewellery.

He had left Cyprus in the early 1970s at the height of its war with Turkey, taking his wife and young children to safety in Australia. He built a life from nothing and, gradually, a substantial nest egg. He retired to Cyprus in 2007 with about $1 million, his life savings.

He planned to spend it on his grandchildren – some of whom live in Cyprus – putting them through university and setting them up. There would be medical bills; he has a heart condition. The interest was paying for a comfortable retirement, and trips back to Australia. He also toyed with the idea of buying a boat.

He wanted to leave any big purchases a few years, to be sure this was where he would spend his retirement. There was no hurry. But now it is all gone.

”If I made the decision to stay, I was going to build a house,” John says. ”Unfortunately I didn’t make the decision yet.

”I went to sleep Friday as a rich man. I woke up a poor man.”

You can read the rest of the article right here.

How would you feel if you suddenly lost almost everything that you have been working for your entire life?

And many small and mid-size businesses have been ruined by the bank account confiscation that has taken place in Cyprus.

The following is a bank account statement that was originally posted on a Bitcoin forum that has gone absolutely viral all over the Internet.  One medium size IT business has lost a staggering amount of money because of the “bail-in” that is happening in Cyprus…

Cyprus Bank Account Confiscation

The following is what the poster of this screenshot had to say about what this is going to do to his business…

Over 700k of expropriated money will be used to repay country’s debt. Probably we will get back about 20% of this amount in 6-7 years.

I’m not Russian oligarch, but just European medium size IT business. Thousands of other companies around Cyprus have the same situation.

The business is definitely ruined, all Cypriot workers to be fired.
We are moving to small Caribbean country where authorities have more respect to people’s assets. Also we are thinking about using Bitcoin to pay wages and for payments between our partners.

Special thanks to:

– Jeroen Dijsselbloem
– Angela Merkel
– Manuel Barroso
– the rest of officials of “European Comission”

With each passing day, things just continue to get worse for those with deposits of over 100,000 euros in Cyprus.  A few hours ago, a Reuters story entitled “Big depositors in Cyprus to lose far more than feared” declared that the initial estimates of the losses by big depositors in Cyprus were much too low.

And of course the truth is that those that have had their deposits frozen will be very fortunate to ever see any of that money ever again.

But just a few weeks ago, the Central Bank of Cyprus was swearing that nothing like this could ever possibly happen.  Just check out the following memo from the Central Bank of Cyprus dated “11 February 2013″ that was recently posted on Zero Hedge

Central Bank of Cyprus Memo

Sadly, the truth is that the politicians will lie to you all the way up until the very day that they confiscate your money.

You can believe our “leaders” when they swear that nothing like this will ever happen in the United States, in Canada or in other European nations if you want.

But I don’t believe them.

In fact, as an outstanding article by Ellen Brown recently detailed, the concept of a “bail-in” for “systemically important financial institutions” has been in the works for a long time…

Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlier here); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds.

If you do not believe that what just happened in Cyprus could happen in the United States, you need to read the rest of her article.  The following is an extended excerpt from that article

*****

Although few depositors realize it, legally the bank owns the depositor’s funds as soon as they are put in the bank. Our money becomes the bank’s, and we become unsecured creditors holding IOUs or promises to pay. (See here and here.) But until now the bank has been obligated to pay the money back on demand in the form of cash. Under the FDIC-BOE plan, our IOUs will be converted into “bank equity.”  The bank will get the money and we will get stock in the bank. With any luck we may be able to sell the stock to someone else, but when and at what price? Most people keep a deposit account so they can have ready cash to pay the bills.

The 15-page FDIC-BOE document is called “Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions.”  It begins by explaining that the 2008 banking crisis has made it clear that some other way besides taxpayer bailouts is needed to maintain “financial stability.” Evidently anticipating that the next financial collapse will be on a grander scale than either the taxpayers or Congress is willing to underwrite, the authors state:

An efficient path for returning the sound operations of the G-SIFI to the private sector would be provided by exchanging or converting a sufficient amount of the unsecured debt from the original creditors of the failed company [meaning the depositors] into equity [or stock]. In the U.S., the new equity would become capital in one or more newly formed operating entities. In the U.K., the same approach could be used, or the equity could be used to recapitalize the failing financial company itself—thus, the highest layer of surviving bailed-in creditors would become the owners of the resolved firm. In either country, the new equity holders would take on the corresponding risk of being shareholders in a financial institution.

No exception is indicated for “insured deposits” in the U.S., meaning those under $250,000, the deposits we thought were protected by FDIC insurance. This can hardly be an oversight, since it is the FDIC that is issuing the directive. The FDIC is an insurance company funded by premiums paid by private banks.  The directive is called a “resolution process,” defined elsewhere as a plan that “would be triggered in the event of the failure of an insurer . . . .” The only  mention of “insured deposits” is in connection with existing UK legislation, which the FDIC-BOE directive goes on to say is inadequate, implying that it needs to be modified or overridden.

*****

You can find the rest of her excellent article right here.  I would encourage everyone to especially pay attention to what she has to say about derivatives.

Sadly, what is happening in Cyprus right now is just the continuation of a trend.  In recent years, governments all over the world have turned to the confiscation of private wealth in order to solve their financial problems.  The following examples are from a recent article posted on Deviant Investor

October 2008 – Argentina’s leftist government, facing a gigantic revenue shortfall, proposes to nationalize all private pensions so as to meet national debt payments and avoid its second default in the decade.

November 2010 – Headline – Hungary Gives Its Citizens an Ultimatum: Move Your Private Pension Fund Assets to the State or Permanently Lose Your Pension – This is an effective nationalization of all pensions.

November 2010 – Ireland elects to appropriate ten billion euros from its National Pension Reserve Fund to help fund an eighty-five billion euro rescue package for its besieged banks. Ireland also moves to consider a regulatory move that compels some private Irish pension funds to hold more Irish government debt, thereby providing the state with a captive investor base but hugely raising the risk for savers.

December 2010 – France agrees to transfer twenty billion euros worth of assets belonging to its Fonds de Reserve pour les Retraites (FRR), the funded portion of its retirement system, to help pay off recurring social benefits costs. No pensioners are consulted.

April 2012 – Argentina announces that its Economy Ministry has taken an emergency loan from the national pension fund in the amount of $4.3 billion. No pensioners were consulted.

June 2012 – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unilaterally appropriates $45 billion from US federal pension funds to help tide over US deficits for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.

January 2013 – Treasury Secretary Geithner again announces that the government has begun borrowing from the federal employees pension fund to keep operating without passing the approaching “fiscal cliff” debt limit. The move effectively creates $156 billion in borrowing authority from federal pension funds.

March 2013 – Open Bank Resolution finance minister, Bill English, is proposing a Cyprus style solution for potential New Zealand bank failures. The reserve bank is in the final stages of establishing a rescue scheme which will put all bank depositors on the hook for bailing out their banks. Depositors will overnight have their savings shaved by the amount needed to keep distressed banks afloat.

Can you see the pattern?

As I wrote about the other day, no bank account, no pension fund, no retirement account and no stock portfolio will be able to be considered 100% safe ever again.

And once the global derivatives casino melts down, there are going to be a lot of major banks that are going to need to be “bailed in”.

When that day arrives, they are going to try to come after your money.

So don’t leave your entire life savings sitting in a single bank – especially not one of the banks that has a tremendous amount of exposure to derivatives.

Hopefully we can get more people to wake up and realize what is happening.  We are moving into a time of great financial instability, and what worked in the past is not going to work in the future.

Be smart and get prepared while you still can.

Time is running out.

The Dow Hits An All-Time High! Translation: A Bubble Is Always Biggest Right Before It Bursts

The Dow Hits An All-Time High! Translation: A Bubble Is Always Biggest Right Before It Bursts - Photo by KazekiReckless money printing by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has pumped up the Dow to a brand new all-time high.  So what comes next?  Will the Dow go even higher?  Hopefully it will.  In fact, it would be great if the Dow was able to hit 15,000 before it finally came crashing down.  That would give all of us some more time to prepare for the nightmarish economic crisis that is rapidly approaching.  As you will see below, the U.S. economy is in far, far worse shape than it was the last time the Dow reached a record high back in 2007.  In addition, all of the long-term trends that are ripping our economy to shreds just continue to get even worse and our debt just continues to explode.  Unfortunately, the Dow has become completely divorced from economic reality in recent years because of Fed manipulation.  All of this funny money that the Federal Reserve has been cranking out has made the wealthy even wealthier, but this bubble will not last for too much longer.  What goes up must come down.  And remember, a bubble is always biggest right before it bursts.

Fortunately, it looks like an increasing number of people out there are starting to recognize that the primary reason why stocks have been going up is because of the Fed.  Just check out this excerpt from a recent article by the USA Today editorial board

The Federal Reserve’s purchases have driven interest rates to near zero. This has stimulated the economy but not without cost. Savers, particularly older ones trying to live on income from their investments, are starved for safe options. They’ve been forced into stocks, which is one reason the market has been acting as if it’s on steroids. Further, with borrowing costs low, Congress and the White House have less incentive to rein in the national debt. Rock-bottom interest rates have also distorted markets.

The best indication that the Fed’s bond-buying purchases are pushing stocks up artificially is that investors run for cover whenever there is a hint that the Fed might change course, as happened recently. On Monday, billionaire superinvestor Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett told CNBC that markets are on a “hair trigger” waiting for signs of change from the Fed. The market is “hooked on the drug” of easy money, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher told Reuters.

Fisher’s comparison of Fed policies to a drug is apt. Markets might not like the idea of the drug being withdrawn now, when the Fed holds a portfolio of $3 trillion. But the withdrawal symptoms will be a lot worse once the portfolio grows to $4 trillion, or more.

Those sentiments were echoed by Gordon Charlop, a trader at Rosenblatt Securities, during a recent appearance on CNBC…

“The Wizard of the Fed, Ben [Bernanke], has done a great job propping up the market, but the question is how does the wizard move the pin from the balloon without blowing the whole thing up?” said Charlop. “This is getting out of balance and he’s got to figure out a way to justify the levels that we’ve gotten to and draw back on some of the stimulus.”

Of course, in the end, the bursting of this bubble is going to be very messy.

The Fed has dramatically distorted the market in an attempt to make things look good, but now the financial markets are completely and totally addicted to easy money.  Is there any chance that the Fed will be able to take away that easy money without causing disaster?

There are only a few ways that this current scenario can play out.  The following is what Stanley Druckenmiller recently told CNBC

I don’t know when it’s going to end, but my guess is, it’s going to end very badly; and it’s going to end very badly because, again, when you get the biggest price in the world, interest rates, being manipulated you get a misallocation of resources and this is going to end in one of two ways – with a malinvestment bust which we got in ’07-’08 (we didn’t get inflation). We got a malinvestment bust because of the bubble that was created in housing. Or it could end with just monetizing the debt and off we go in inflation. So that’s a very binary outcome – they’re both bad.”

What the Fed has done to the money supply in recent years has been absolutely unprecedented.  Just check out how our money supply has skyrocketed since the last financial crisis…

M1 Money Supply

So what happens when the amount of money in an economy rises rapidly?

Well, if I remember Econ 101 correctly, that would mean that prices should go up.

And that is exactly what has happened.  And since most of the money that the Fed has created has gone into the financial system first, it should not be a surprise that we have seen a bubble in financial assets.

In a previous article that I wrote last September, I warned that QE3 would cause stocks to go up…

So what have the previous rounds of quantitative easing accomplished?  Well, they have driven up the prices of financial assets.  Those that own stocks have done very well the past couple of years.  So who owns stocks?  The wealthy do.  In fact, 82 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans.  Those that have invested in commodities have also done very nicely in recent years.  We have seen gold, silver, oil and agricultural commodities all do very well.  But that also means that average Americans are paying more for basic necessities such as food and gasoline.  So the first two rounds of quantitative easing made the wealthy even wealthier while causing living standards to fall for all the rest of us.  Is there any reason to believe that QE3 will be any different?

Of course not.

So will stocks continue to go up indefinitely?

No way.

As I have also written about previously, the money printing that the Fed is doing right now is not nearly enough to stop the mammoth derivatives crisis that is coming.

A derivatives crisis was one of the primary reasons for the financial crash of 2008, but most Americans still have no idea what derivatives are.

They can be very complex, but I think that it is easiest just to think of them as side bets.

When someone buys a derivative, they are not buying anything real.  They are simply betting that something will or will not happen.

For example, if you bet $100 that the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series this year, would you be “investing” in anything real?

Of course not.

Well, it is the same with most derivatives.

Today, Wall Street has become the biggest casino in the entire world and trillions of dollars of very reckless bets have been made.

In fact, most Americans would be absolutely shocked to learn how exposed to derivatives some of our largest financial institutions are.  The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles entitled “The Coming Derivatives Panic That Will Destroy Global Financial Markets“…

It would be hard to overstate the recklessness of these banks.  The numbers that you are about to see are absolutely jaw-dropping.  According to the Comptroller of the Currency, four of the largest U.S. banks are walking a tightrope of risk, leverage and debt when it comes to derivatives.  Just check out how exposed they are…

JPMorgan Chase

Total Assets: $1,812,837,000,000 (just over 1.8 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $69,238,349,000,000 (more than 69 trillion dollars)

Citibank

Total Assets: $1,347,841,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $52,150,970,000,000 (more than 52 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $1,445,093,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $44,405,372,000,000 (more than 44 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $114,693,000,000 (a bit more than 114 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $41,580,395,000,000 (more than 41 trillion dollars)

That means that the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 362 times greater than their total assets.

When the derivatives crash happens, there won’t be enough money in the entire world to fix it.

So enjoy this little stock market bubble while you can.

It will end soon enough.

And of course stocks should not be this high in the first place.  The underlying economic fundamentals do not justify these kinds of stock prices whatsoever.

A recent CNN article noted that the last time the Dow hit a record high that unemployment in the U.S. was much lower…

Consider this. When the Dow hit its now old record high back in October 2007, the economy was still in good shape — although it was just a few months away from the beginning of the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate in October 2007 was 4.7%. In January of this year, the unemployment rate was 7.9%.

And that same article also pointed out that GDP growth and housing prices were also much stronger back in 2007…

Gross domestic product grew 3% in the third quarter of 2007. Revised figures from the government last week showed that GDP in the fourth quarter of 2012 rose a scant 0.1%. But I guess that’s good news considering the first estimate showed a 0.1% decline.

And despite all the hoopla about the steady recovery in the housing market over the past year, real estate is still in a bear market. The most recent level of the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index, one of the most widely watched gauges of the health of housing, is still 24% below where it was in October 2007.

We have never even come close to recovering from the last economic crisis.  Most Americans seem to have forgotten how good things were back then, but a recent Zero Hedge article included some more points of comparison between October 2007 and today…

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Then 14164.5; Now 14164.5
  • Regular Gas Price: Then $2.75; Now $3.73
  • GDP Growth: Then +2.5%; Now +1.6%
  • Americans Unemployed (in Labor Force): Then 6.7 million; Now 13.2 million
  • Americans On Food Stamps: Then 26.9 million; Now 47.69 million
  • Size of Fed’s Balance Sheet: Then $0.89 trillion; Now $3.01 trillion
  • US Debt as a Percentage of GDP: Then ~38%; Now 74.2%
  • US Deficit (LTM): Then $97 billion; Now $975.6 billion
  • Total US Debt Oustanding: Then $9.008 trillion; Now $16.43 trillion
  • US Household Debt: Then $13.5 trillion; Now 12.87 trillion
  • Labor Force Particpation Rate: Then 65.8%; Now 63.6%
  • Consumer Confidence: Then 99.5; Now 69.6

And of course anyone that reads my site regularly knows that the U.S. economy has been in a state of persistent decline over the past several years.

Just consider the following data points…

-The percentage of the civilian labor force in the United States that is actually employed has been steadily declining every single year since 2006.

-In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent.  Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.

-According to one study, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

-Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by more than $4000 during that time span.

-At this point, an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

That is the other side of the Fed’s insidious money printing.  Incomes in the United States are going down, but the cost of living is skyrocketing.  This is squeezing millions of Americans out of the middle class

When Debbie Bruister buys a gallon of milk at her local Kroger supermarket, she pays $3.69, up 70 cents from what she paid last year.

Getting to the store costs more, too. Gas in Corinth, Miss., her hometown, costs $3.51 a gallon now, compared to less than three bucks in 2012. That really hurts, considering her husband’s 112-mile daily round-trip commute to his job as a pharmacist.

Perhaps you can identify with this.  Perhaps your paychecks are about the same as they used to be back in 2007 but the cost of living has gone up dramatically since then.

I wish I could tell you that things were going to get better, but unfortunately there are all kinds of indications that things are about to get even worse for the U.S. economy.  If you doubt this, just read this article and this article.

Yes, the Dow is at an all-time high.  But do you want to know what else has hit an all-time high up in New York?

Homelessness.

The following is from a recent report in the New York Times

An average of more than 50,000 people slept each night in New York City’s homeless shelters for the first time in January, a record that underscores an unsettling national trend: a rising number of families without permanent housing.

And apparently families and children have been hit particularly hard over the past year…

More than 21,000 children—an unprecedented 1% of the city’s youth—slept each night in a city shelter in January, an increase of 22% in the past year, the report said, while homeless families now spend more than a year in a shelter, on average, for the first time since 1987. In January, an average of 11,984 homeless families slept in shelters each night, a rise of 18% from a year earlier.

Of course New York is far from alone.  There has been a surge in homelessness all over the United States.  In fact, at this point more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  This is the first time that has ever happened in U.S. history.

But the Dow just hit a record high so we should all be wildly happy, right?

Hopefully we can get more Americans to understand that the “prosperity” that we are enjoying right now is just an illusion.  It isn’t real.  It is a bubble created by reckless money printing by the Fed and reckless borrowing by the U.S. government.  If you can believe it, the U.S. government borrowed another 253 billion dollars during the month of February alone.

The Fed and the U.S. government will continue to engage in this kind of reckless behavior until the bubble eventually bursts.

So what should all the rest of us do?

We should be feverishly preparing for the hard times that are coming.  As Daisy Luther recently wrote about, one of the most important things to do is to create an emergency fund.  Instead of going out and blowing your money on the latest toys and gadgets, set some money aside so that you will have something to live on if the economy crashes and you suddenly lose your income.

Just remember what happened back in 2008.  Millions of Americans suddenly lost their jobs, and because many of them had no financial reserves, a lot of Americans suddenly could not pay their mortgages and they lost their homes.

So put some money away in a place where it will be safe – and that does not mean the stock market.

Jim Cramer of CNBC and a lot of the other talking heads on the financial news channels are trying to encourage ordinary Americans to jump into “the bull market” right now and make some money, and many people will take their advice.

But the truth is that a bubble is always biggest right before it bursts.

This bubble is awfully big right now, and I don’t know how much larger it can possibly get.

Stock Market Bubble

Abolish The Income Tax: You Won’t Believe Who Is Getting Away With Paying Zero Taxes While The Middle Class Gets Hammered

Abolish The Income Tax - You Won't Believe Who Is Getting Away With Paying Zero Taxes While The Middle Class Gets Hammered - Photo by TravisThe federal income tax is a bad joke and it needs to be abolished.  All over the nation, hard working American families are being absolutely crushed by oppressive levels of taxation, and our politicians are constantly coming up with new ways to extract money from all of us every single year.  Meanwhile, many ultra-wealthy Americans and many of the most profitable corporations in the country pay little to nothing in taxes.  In fact, as you will see below, there are dozens of very prominent corporations that make billions of dollars in profits and yet don’t pay a dime in taxes.  Tax avoidance has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States.  Those that have the resources to “play the game” use shell companies, offshore tax havens and the thousands of loopholes in our tax code to minimize their tax burdens as much as possible.  Meanwhile, the rest of us get absolutely hammered.  This is fundamentally unfair.  The federal income tax system is irreversibly broken at this point, and it is time to abolish it.  If you think that the federal income tax system can be “fixed”, then you probably have never studied it.  Our tax code is nearly 4 million words long and it is absolutely riddled with thousands of loopholes that favor big corporations and the ultra-wealthy.  We should come up with a better, fairer way to fund the government.  The United States once prospered greatly without a federal income tax, and it could do so again.

Many people simply do not believe that it is possible for corporations inside the United States to make billions of dollars in profits each year and not pay a dime in income taxes.

Well, according to a report put out by Public Campaign, that is exactly what is happening.  Posted below are numbers that come directly from their report.  30 large corporations are listed, and 29 of them had a tax burden for 2008 through 2010 that was less than zero even though they all made enormous profits.  And all 30 of them spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes.

The numbers that you are about to see are for 2008, 2009 and 2010 combined.  For “taxes paid”, please note that for 29 of the corporations a negative number is given.  That means that the net tax liability for 2008 through 2010 was actually less than zero.

After seeing these numbers, is there anyone out there that is still willing to claim that our tax system is “fair”?…

General Electric
U.S. Profits: $10,460,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$4,737,000,000

PG&E Corp.
U.S. Profits: $4,855,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$1,027,000,000

Verizon Communications
U.S. Profits: $32,518,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$951,000,000

Wells Fargo
U.S. Profits: $49,370,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$681,000,000

American Electric Power
U.S. Profits: $5,899,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$545,000,000

Pepco Holdings
U.S. Profits: $882,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$508,000,000

Computer Sciences
U.S. Profits: $1,666,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$305,000,000

CenterPoint Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,931,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$284,000,000

NiSource
U.S. Profits: $1,385,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$227,000,000

Duke Energy
U.S. Profits: $5,475,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$216,000,000

Boeing
U.S. Profits: $9,735,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$178,000,000

NextEra Energy
U.S. Profits: $6,403,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$139,000,000

Consolidated Edison
U.S. Profits: $4,263,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$127,000,000

Paccar
U.S. Profits: $365,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$112,000,000

Integrys Energy Group
U.S. Profits: $818,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$92,000,000

Wisconsin Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,725,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$85,000,000

DuPont
U.S. Profits: $2,124,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$72,000,000

Baxter International
U.S. Profits: $926,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$66,000,000

Tenet Healthcare
U.S. Profits: $415,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$48,000,000

Ryder System
U.S. Profits: $627,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$46,000,000

El Paso
U.S. Profits: $4,105,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$41,000,000

Honeywell International
U.S. Profits: $4,903,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$34,000,000

CMS Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,292,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$29,000,000

Con-­way
U.S. Profits: $286,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$26,000,000

Navistar International
U.S. Profits: $896,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$18,000,000

DTE Energy
U.S. Profits: $2,551,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$17,000,000

Interpublic Group
U.S. Profits: $571,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$15,000,000

Mattel
U.S. Profits: $1,020,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$9,000,000

Corning
U.S. Profits: $1,977,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$4,000,000

FedEx
U.S. Profits: $4,247,000,000
Taxes Paid: $37,000,000 (a rate of less than 1%)

Total
U.S. Profits: $163,691,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$10,602,000,000

Just look at that combined total again.

Those 30 companies had combined profits of more than 163 billion dollars during those three years, and yet the combined net tax liability of those companies was negative 10.6 billion dollars.

I wish I could make my taxes look like that.

Another company that is making headlines because of their taxes these days is Facebook.

It turns out that Facebook made more than a billion dollars in 2012 but did not pay a single dime in federal or state income taxes.  The following is from a report that was just released by Citizens for Tax Justice

Earlier this month, the Facebook Inc. released its first “10-K” annual financial report since going public last year. Hidden in the report’s footnotes is an amazing admission: despite $1.1 billion in U.S. profits in 2012, Facebook did not pay even a dime in federal and state income taxes.

Instead, Facebook says it will receive net tax refunds totaling $429 million.

According to Businessweek, Facebook has an additional 2 billion dollars in tax credits that it will be able to use in future years…

Facebook says that it anticipates reducing its tax liability in the future by an additional $2.17 billion by using further net operating loss carry-forwards that it has banked.

And of course when it comes to abusing the tax system, the big Wall Street banks are some of the worst offenders.  The following is an excerpt from a report put out by the office of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

—–

Here are just a few examples of how the corporations and Wall Street banks these CEOs work for have significantly harmed our economy and the federal budget:

1. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan

Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 371.

In 2010, Bank of America operated 371 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens. 204 of these subsidiaries are incorporated in the Cayman Islands, which has a corporate tax rate of 0%.

Amount of federal income taxes Bank of America would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $2.5 billion.

Bank of America has stashed $18.5 billion in offshore tax havens to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. Bank of America would owe an estimated $2.5 billion in federal income taxes if its use of offshore tax avoidance was eliminated.

Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $1.9 billion tax refund.

Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS in 2010, even though it made $4.4 billion in profits.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? Over $1.3 trillion.

During the financial crisis, Bank of America received a total of more than $1.3 trillion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $45 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.

2. JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon

Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 83.

In 2010, JP Morgan Chase operated 83 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens.

Amount of federal income taxes JP Morgan Chase would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $4.9 billion

JP Morgan Chase has stashed $21.8 billion in offshore tax haven countries to avoid payng income taxes. If this practice was outlawed, it would have paid $4.9 billion in federal income taxes.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $416 billion

During the financial crisis, JP Morgan Chase received a total of more than $391 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $25 billion bailout from the Treasury Department, while Jamie DImon served as a director of the New York Federal Reserve.

3. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein

Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $278 million tax refund.

In 2008, Goldman Sachs received a $278 million refund from the IRS, even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion that year.

Number of offshore tax havens in 2010? 39.

In 2010, Goldman Sachs operated 39 subsidiaries in offshore tax haven countries.

Amount of federal income taxes Goldman Sachs would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $3.32 billion.

Goldman Sachs has stashed $20.63 billion in offshore tax haven countries to avoid paying income taxes. If this practice was outlawed, it would have paid $3.32 billion in federal income taxes.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $824 billion.

During the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs received a total of $814 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $10 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.

—–

Are you starting to get the picture?

The big banks and the big corporations make billions, but they pay nothing or next to nothing.

The rest of us bust our rear ends to try to get ahead, and we get gouged by dozens of different taxes.

Over time, the percentage of the overall tax burden shouldered by corporations has gotten smaller and smaller.

Back in 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.  In 2012, corporate taxes accounted for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

These days, large corporations have become absolute masters at avoiding taxes.  In fact, there are many international tax havens that are doing a booming business in setting up sham headquarters for U.S. corporations.  For example, the city of Zug, Switzerland only has a population of 26,000 people but it is the headquarters for 30,000 companies.

But corporations are not the only ones doing this kind of thing.

The ultra-wealthy have also mastered the art of legally not paying taxes.

As I mentioned in a previous article, it has been reported that the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.

With that amount of money, you could pay off the entire U.S. national debt and still have enough money left over to buy every product and service produced in the United States during an entire year.

It is time to admit that our tax system is broken.

Congress has had decades to fix it, and yet the abuses just keep getting worse.

What we are doing is not working.

We need to abolish the income tax.

If you are still not convinced that the federal income tax is an abomination and that we need to abolish it, here are some more shocking facts about our tax system from one of my previous articles about taxes

1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements.  Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long.  Today, they are 189 pages long.

4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade.  It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result.

7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.

8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.

9 – According to The Tax Foundation, the average American has to work until April 17th just to pay federal, state, and local taxes.  Back in 1900, “Tax Freedom Day” came on January 22nd.

10 – When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.

11 – Residents of New Jersey pay $1.64 in taxes for every $1.00 of federal spending that they get back.

12 – The United States is the only nation on the planet that tries to tax citizens on what they earn in foreign countries.

13 – According to Forbes, the 400 highest earning Americans pay an average federal income tax rate of just 18 percent.

14 – Warren Buffett had an effective tax rate of just 17.4 percent for 2010.

15 – The top 20 percent of all income earners in the United States pay approximately 86 percent of all federal income taxes.

16 – Sadly, as Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We have now entered a time of the year when tens of millions of Americans will be filling out their tax returns, and the pain of going through that process will make people even more receptive than normal to the truth about how broken our system is.

So what do you think?

Do you think that it is fair for the ultra-wealthy and hugely profitable corporations to get away with paying zero taxes while you get hammered?

Do you believe that it is time to abolish the income tax?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

No Federal Income Tax

Who Runs The World? Solid Proof That A Core Group Of Wealthy Elitists Is Pulling The Strings

Who Runs The World? Solid Proof That A Core Group Of Wealthy Elitists Are Pulling The StringsDoes a shadowy group of obscenely wealthy elitists control the world?  Do men and women with enormous amounts of money really run the world from behind the scenes?  The answer might surprise you.  Most of us tend to think of money as a convenient way to conduct transactions, but the truth is that it also represents power and control.  And today we live in a neo-fuedalist system in which the super rich pull all the strings.  When I am talking about the ultra-wealthy, I am not just talking about people that have a few million dollars.  As you will see later in this article, the ultra-wealthy have enough money sitting in offshore banks to buy all of the goods and services produced in the United States during the course of an entire year and still be able to pay off the entire U.S. national debt.  That is an amount of money so large that it is almost incomprehensible.  Under this ne0-feudalist system, all the rest of us are debt slaves, including our own governments.  Just look around – everyone is drowning in debt, and all of that debt is making the ultra-wealthy even wealthier.  But the ultra-wealthy don’t just sit on all of that wealth.  They use some of it to dominate the affairs of the nations.  The ultra-wealthy own virtually every major bank and every major corporation on the planet.  They use a vast network of secret societies, think tanks and charitable organizations to advance their agendas and to keep their members in line.  They control how we view the world through their ownership of the media and their dominance over our education system.  They fund the campaigns of most of our politicians and they exert a tremendous amount of influence over international organizations such as the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.  When you step back and take a look at the big picture, there is little doubt about who runs the world.  It is just that most people don’t want to admit the truth.

The ultra-wealthy don’t run down and put their money in the local bank like you and I do.  Instead, they tend to stash their assets in places where they won’t be taxed such as the Cayman Islands.  According to a report that was released last summer, the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.

U.S. GDP for 2011 was about 15 trillion dollars, and the U.S. national debt is sitting at about 16 trillion dollars, so you could add them both together and you still wouldn’t hit 32 trillion dollars.

And of course that does not even count the money that is stashed in other locations that the study did not account for, and it does not count all of the wealth that the global elite have in hard assets such as real estate, precious metals, art, yachts, etc.

The global elite have really hoarded an incredible amount of wealth in these troubled times.  The following is from an article on the Huffington Post website

Rich individuals and their families have as much as $32 trillion of hidden financial assets in offshore tax havens, representing up to $280 billion in lost income tax revenues, according to research published on Sunday.

The study estimating the extent of global private financial wealth held in offshore accounts – excluding non-financial assets such as real estate, gold, yachts and racehorses – puts the sum at between $21 and $32 trillion.

The research was carried out for pressure group Tax Justice Network, which campaigns against tax havens, by James Henry, former chief economist at consultants McKinsey & Co.

He used data from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations and central banks.

But as I mentioned previously, the global elite just don’t have a lot of money.  They also basically own just about every major bank and every major corporation on the entire planet.

According to an outstanding NewScientist article, a study of more than 40,000 transnational corporations conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich discovered that a very small core group of huge banks and giant predator corporations dominate the entire global economic system…

An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

The researchers found that this core group consists of just 147 very tightly knit companies…

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

The following are the top 25 banks and corporations at the heart of this “super-entity”.  You will recognize many of the names on the list…

1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc
3. FMR Corporation
4. AXA
5. State Street Corporation
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
7. Legal & General Group plc
8. Vanguard Group Inc
9. UBS AG
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
11. Wellington Management Co LLP
12. Deutsche Bank AG
13. Franklin Resources Inc
14. Credit Suisse Group
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
17. Natixis
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
20. Legg Mason Inc
21. Morgan Stanley
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
23. Northern Trust Corporation
24. Société Générale
25. Bank of America Corporation

The ultra-wealthy elite often hide behind layers and layers of ownership, but the truth is that thanks to interlocking corporate relationships, the elite basically control almost every Fortune 500 corporation.

The amount of power and control that this gives them is hard to describe.

Unfortunately, this same group of people have been running things for a very long time.  For example, New York City Mayor John F. Hylan said the following during a speech all the way back in 1922

The real menace of our Republic is the invisible government, which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy legs over our cities, states and nation. To depart from mere generalizations, let me say that at the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as the international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes.

They practically control both parties, write political platforms, make catspaws of party leaders, use the leading men of private organizations, and resort to every device to place in nomination for high public office only such candidates as will be amenable to the dictates of corrupt big business.

These international bankers and Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests control the majority of the newspapers and magazines in this country. They use the columns of these papers to club into submission or drive out of office public officials who refuse to do the bidding of the powerful corrupt cliques which compose the invisible government. It operates under cover of a self-created screen [and] seizes our executive officers, legislative bodies, schools, courts, newspapers and every agency created for the public protection.

These international bankers created the central banks of the world (including the Federal Reserve), and they use those central banks to get the governments of the world ensnared in endless cycles of debt from which there is no escape.  Government debt is a way to “legitimately” take money from all of us, transfer it to the government, and then transfer it into the pockets of the ultra-wealthy.

Today, Barack Obama and almost all members of Congress absolutely refuse to criticize the Fed, but in the past there have been some brave members of Congress that have been willing to take a stand.  For example, the following quote is from a speech that Congressman Louis T. McFadden delivered to the U.S. House of Representatives on June 10, 1932

Mr. Chairman, we have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks. The Federal Reserve Board, a Government board, has cheated the Government of the United States and the people of the United States out of enough money to pay the national debt. The depredations and iniquities of the Federal Reserve Board has cost this country enough money to pay the national debt several times over. This evil institution has impoverished and ruined the people of the United States, has bankrupted itself, and has practically bankrupted our Government. It has done this through the defects of the law under which it operates, through the maladministration of that law by the Federal Reserve Board, and through the corrupt practices of the moneyed vultures who control it.

Sadly, most Americans still believe that the Federal Reserve is a “federal agency”, but that is simply not correct.  The following comes from factcheck.org

The stockholders in the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks are the privately owned banks that fall under the Federal Reserve System. These include all national banks (chartered by the federal government) and those state-chartered banks that wish to join and meet certain requirements. About 38 percent of the nation’s more than 8,000 banks are members of the system, and thus own the Fed banks.

According to researchers that have looked into the ownership of the big Wall Street banks that dominate the Fed, the same names keep coming up over and over: the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, the Warburgs, the Lazards, the Schiffs and the royal families of Europe.

But ultra-wealthy international bankers have not just done this kind of thing in the United States.  Their goal was to create a global financial system that they would dominate and control.  Just check out what Georgetown University history professor Carroll Quigley once wrote

[T]he powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.

Sadly, most Americans have never even heard of the Bank for International Settlements, but it is at the very heart of the global financial system.  The following is from Wikipedia

As an organization of central banks, the BIS seeks to make monetary policy more predictable and transparent among its 58 member central banks. While monetary policy is determined by each sovereign nation, it is subject to central and private banking scrutiny and potentially to speculation that affects foreign exchange rates and especially the fate of export economies. Failures to keep monetary policy in line with reality and make monetary reforms in time, preferably as a simultaneous policy among all 58 member banks and also involving the International Monetary Fund, have historically led to losses in the billions as banks try to maintain a policy using open market methods that have proven to be based on unrealistic assumptions.

The ultra-wealthy have also played a major role in establishing other important international institutions such as the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.  In fact, the land for the United Nations headquarters in New York City was purchased and donated by John D. Rockefeller.

The international bankers are “internationalists” and they are very proud of that fact.

The elite also dominate the education system in the United States.  Over the years, the Rockefeller Foundation and other elitist organizations have poured massive amounts of money into Ivy League schools.  Today, Ivy League schools are considered to be the standard against which all other colleges and universities in America are measured, and the last four U.S. presidents were educated at Ivy League schools.

The elite also exert a tremendous amount of influence through various secret societies (Skull and Bones, the Freemasons, etc.), through some very powerful think tanks and social clubs (the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the Bohemian Grove, Chatham House, etc.), and through a vast network of charities and non-governmental organizations (the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, etc.).

But for a moment, I want to focus on the power the elite have over the media.  In a previous article, I detailed how just six monolithic corporate giants control most of what we watch, hear and read every single day.  These giant corporations own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many of our favorite websites.

Considering the fact that the average American watches 153 hours of television a month, the influence of these six giant corporations should not be underestimated.  The following are just some of the media companies that these corporate giants own…

Time Warner

Home Box Office (HBO)
Time Inc.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
CW Network (partial ownership)
TMZ
New Line Cinema
Time Warner Cable
Cinemax
Cartoon Network
TBS
TNT
America Online
MapQuest
Moviefone
Castle Rock
Sports Illustrated
Fortune
Marie Claire
People Magazine

Walt Disney

ABC Television Network
Disney Publishing
ESPN Inc.
Disney Channel
SOAPnet
A&E
Lifetime
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Buena Vista Theatrical Productions
Buena Vista Records
Disney Records
Hollywood Records
Miramax Films
Touchstone Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Buena Vista Games
Hyperion Books

Viacom

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Home Entertainment
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Comedy Central
Country Music Television (CMT)
Logo
MTV
MTV Canada
MTV2
Nick Magazine
Nick at Nite
Nick Jr.
Nickelodeon
Noggin
Spike TV
The Movie Channel
TV Land
VH1

News Corporation

Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox Television Stations
The New York Post
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Beliefnet
Fox Business Network
Fox Kids Europe
Fox News Channel
Fox Sports Net
Fox Television Network
FX
My Network TV
MySpace
News Limited News
Phoenix InfoNews Channel
Phoenix Movies Channel
Sky PerfecTV
Speed Channel
STAR TV India
STAR TV Taiwan
STAR World
Times Higher Education Supplement Magazine
Times Literary Supplement Magazine
Times of London
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox International
20th Century Fox Studios
20th Century Fox Television
BSkyB
DIRECTV
The Wall Street Journal
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Interactive Media
FOXTEL
HarperCollins Publishers
The National Geographic Channel
National Rugby League
News Interactive
News Outdoor
Radio Veronica
ReganBooks
Sky Italia
Sky Radio Denmark
Sky Radio Germany
Sky Radio Netherlands
STAR
Zondervan

CBS Corporation

CBS News
CBS Sports
CBS Television Network
CNET
Showtime
TV.com
CBS Radio Inc. (130 stations)
CBS Consumer Products
CBS Outdoor
CW Network (50% ownership)
Infinity Broadcasting
Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books, Scribner)
Westwood One Radio Network

NBC Universal

Bravo
CNBC
NBC News
MSNBC
NBC Sports
NBC Television Network
Oxygen
SciFi Magazine
Syfy (Sci Fi Channel)
Telemundo
USA Network
Weather Channel
Focus Features
NBC Universal Television Distribution
NBC Universal Television Studio
Paxson Communications (partial ownership)
Trio
Universal Parks & Resorts
Universal Pictures
Universal Studio Home Video

And of course the elite own most of our politicians as well.  The following is a quote from journalist Lewis Lapham

“The shaping of the will of Congress and the choosing of the American president has become a privilege reserved to the country’s equestrian classes, a.k.a. the 20% of the population that holds 93% of the wealth, the happy few who run the corporations and the banks, own and operate the news and entertainment media, compose the laws and govern the universities, control the philanthropic foundations, the policy institutes, the casinos, and the sports arenas.”

Have you ever wondered why things never seem to change in Washington D.C. no matter who we vote for?

Well, it is because both parties are owned by the establishment.

It would be nice to think that the American people are in control of who runs things in the U.S., but that is not how it works in the real world.

In the real world, the politician that raises more money wins more than 80 percent of the time in national races.

Our politicians are not stupid – they are going to be very good to the people that can give them the giant piles of money that they need for their campaigns.  And the people that can do that are the ultra-wealthy and the giant corporations that the ultra-wealthy control.

Are you starting to get the picture?

There is a reason why the ultra-wealthy are referred to as “the establishment”.  They have set up a system that greatly benefits them and that allows them to pull the strings.

So who runs the world?

They do.  In fact, they even admit as much.

David Rockefeller wrote the following in his 2003 book entitled “Memoirs”

“For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure — one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”

There is so much more that could be said about all of this.  In fact, an entire library of books could be written about the power and the influence of the ultra-wealthy international bankers that run the world.

But hopefully this is enough to at least get some conversations started.

So what do you think about all of this?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

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