Jacob Rothschild, John Paulson And George Soros Are All Betting That Financial Disaster Is Coming

Are you willing to bet against three of the wealthiest men in the entire world?  Jacob Rothschild recently bet approximately 200 million dollars that the euro will go down.  Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson made somewhere around 20 billion dollars betting against the U.S. housing market during the last financial crisis, and now he has made huge bets that the euro will go down and that the price of gold will go up.  And as I wrote about in my last article, George Soros put approximately 130 million more dollars into gold last quarter.  So will the euro plummet like a rock?  Will the price of gold absolutely soar?  Well, if a massive financial disaster does occur both of those two things are likely to happen.  The European economy is becoming more unstable with each passing day, and investors all over the globe are looking for safe places to put their money.  The mainstream media keeps telling us that everything is going to be okay, but the global elite are sending us a much, much different message by their actions.  Certainly Rothschild, Paulson and Soros know about things happening in the financial world that the rest of us don’t.  The fact that they are all behaving in a consistent manner right now should be alarming for all of us.

Let’s start with Jacob Rothschild.  Apparently he believes that the euro is headed for quite a tumble.  The following is from a recent CNBC article….

You know the euro is in deep water when a doyen of the banking industry, Lord Jacob Rothschild takes a £130 million ($200 million) bet against it.

Okay, but the euro has already been falling dramatically.  In mid-2011, the EUR/USD was above the 1.40 mark, and right now it is at about 1.23.

Does it really have that much more that it can fall?

If the eurozone ends up breaking apart it sure does.

If there is a Greek default, or if Germany leaves the euro, or if a new currency comes along to replace the euro those currently betting against it will end up looking like geniuses.

Another big name in the financial world that is betting against the euro right now is John Paulson.  The following is from a recent Der Spiegel article….

One of these warriors is John Paulson. The hedge fund manager once made billions by betting on a collapse of the American real estate market. Not surprisingly, the financial world sat up and took notice when Paulson, who is now widely despised in America as a crisis profiteer, announced in the spring that he would bet on a collapse of the euro.

And as I noted in my last article, Paulson has also been putting billions of dollars into gold.

So just what are Rothschild and Paulson anticipating?

Could we be on the verge of a massive financial collapse in Europe?

According to the Der Spiegel article mentioned above, a lot of investors seem to be preparing for such a possibility right now….

Banks, companies and investors are preparing themselves for a collapse of the euro. Cross-border bank lending is falling, asset managers are shunning Europe and money is flowing into German real estate and bonds. The euro remains stable against the dollar because America has debt problems too. But unlike the euro, the dollar’s structure isn’t in doubt.

The financial world is starting to wake up to the fact that the globe is absolutely drowning in debt and it is not really good to be holding fiat currencies when a debt crisis erupts.

When men like John Paulson and George Soros start pouring huge amounts of money into gold, it is time to start becoming alarmed about the state of the global financial system.

The amount of money that these men are investing in gold is staggering….

There was also news last week in an SEC filing that both George Soros and John Paulson had increased their investment in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest publicly traded physical gold exchange traded fund (ETF).

Mr Soros upped his stake in the ETF to 884,400 shares from 319,550 and Mr Paulson bought 4.53m shares, bringing his stake to 21.3m.

At the current price of about $156 a share, these are new investments of about $88m of Mr Soros’ cash and more than $700m from Mr Paulson’s funds. These are significant positions.

And the central banks of the world are certainly buying gold at an unprecedented rate as well.  According to the World Gold Council, the central banks of the world added 157.5 metric tons of gold last quarter.  That was the biggest move into gold by the central banks of the globe that we have seen in modern financial history.

But that might just be the beginning.

According to a recent Marketwatch article, there are persistent rumors that China has plans to buy thousands of metric tons of gold….

Within the gold market, there is unconfirmed speculation that China plans to buy up to at least 5,000 to 6,000 metric tons of gold and that it will start to buy during this year, according to Kevin Kerr, president of Kerr Trading International.

If China buys this much gold, that would exceed annual, global production of gold, he said. “We do not have enough gold for China to buy that much, and it will take China time to purchase this amount of gold.”

So what comes next?

Nobody is quite sure.

Another major financial crisis could erupt in Europe at any moment.

A major war in the Middle East could start literally at any time.

Renowned investor Jim Rogers believes that things are really going to get “bad after the next election“.

Others believe that the action could start even sooner than that.

The truth is that even though we have not seen a “Lehman Brothers moment” yet, things in Europe just continue to get progressively worse.  The following is from a recent article by Mark E. Grant….

Whether you turn your attention to Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal or even Ireland; it is getting worse. Nowhere on the Continent are things improving and even in France and Germany the financial strains are beginning to show. It is not a question of Euro-bear or Euro-bull; it is just the numbers as they come rolling out month after month.

There is a growing realization in Europe that the euro simply does not work.  Italy is absolutely drowning in debt, the Spanish economy has basically descended into a depression, and Greece has been experiencing depression-like conditions for years at this point.

The euro is doomed.  The only question is who is going to blink first.

Nobody wants to be the first to leave the euro.  There are rumblings that it could actually be Finland that leaves the euro first, and that would please Germany just fine because they don’t want to look like the bad guys in all of this.

But that doesn’t mean that Germany won’t eventually pull the trigger if nobody else does.  The German public is sick and tired of bailing out the weak sisters of southern Europe, and at this point it looks like it would take perpetual bailouts just to keep the euro together.

And recently there have been lots of little signs that Germany is starting to move slowly toward the exit doors.

In fact, I found it quite interesting that a giant euro sculpture was recently removed from the Frankfurt International Airport….

A massive € sculpture (identical to the one in front of the European Central Bank) was dismantled and removed from the Frankfurt International Airport in Germany Thursday.

The official explanation is ‘the plastic parts are getting weak after 11 years and the terminal needed the space‘.

Does € sculpture’s removal from the Frankfurt Airport indicate Germany is preparing for a surprise return to the Deutsche Mark?

Sure that might just be a coincidence, but it also could be a harbinger of things to come.

Sadly, most average people living in North America and Europe have absolutely no idea what is coming.  Most of them just want to be able to get up in the morning and go to work and pay the bills and take care of their families.

Unfortunately, millions upon millions of those hard working individuals are in for a very rude awakening.

A lot of people are about to have their current lifestyles totally turned upside down.

But it doesn’t have to be all bad.

In fact, I found it very interesting to read about how some young people are responding to the depression in Greece….

In the spring of 2010, just as the Greek government was embarking on some of its harshest austerity measures, 29-year-old Apostolos Sianos packed in his well-paid job as a website designer, gave up his Athens apartment and walked away from modern civilisation.

In the foothills of Mount Telaithrion on the Greek island of Evia, Mr Sianos and three other like-minded Athenians set up an eco-community.

The idea was to live in an entirely sustainable way, free from the ties of money and cut off from the national electricity grid.

The group sleeps communally in yurts they have built themselves, they grow their own food and exchange the surplus in the nearest village for any necessities they cannot produce.

I think there is a lesson to be learned there.

When the system fails, it is going to be important to be able to live independently of the system.

Governments and big banks all over the world have been rapidly preparing for the coming financial collapse.

Perhaps the rest of us should be too.

If you can believe it, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.

If another major economic crisis comes along, many of those people are going to be totally wiped out.

And there are already signs that the U.S. economy is basically on life support at this point.

Just look at the velocity of money.

In an economy that is growing and healthy, money tends to circulate very, very quickly.

But when an economy is sick, money tends to circulate very slowly.

And that is exactly what is happening right now.  In fact, the velocity of money is currently at the lowest level in modern U.S. history….

For much more discussion on this, please check out this article.

This is exactly what happened back in the 1930s.  The velocity of money absolutely plummeted.  When people are scared, credit is tight and times are hard, money does not exchange hands as rapidly.

But this is just the beginning.

What we are experiencing right now is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming.

Jacob Rothschild, John Paulson and George Soros are preparing themselves for the tremendous chaos that is coming.

Are you getting prepared?

Why A Greek Exit From The Euro Would Mean The End Of The Eurozone

What was considered unthinkable a few months ago has now become probable.  All over the globe there are headlines proclaiming that a Greek exit from the euro is now a real possibility.  In fact, some of those headlines make it sound like it is practically inevitable.  For example, Der Spiegel ran a front page story the other day with the following startling headline: “Acropolis, Adieu! Why Greece must leave the euro”.  Many are saying that the euro will be stronger without Greece.  They are saying things such as “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and they are claiming that financial markets are now far more prepared for a “Grexit” than they would have been two years ago.  But the truth is that it really is naive to think that a Greek exit from the euro can be “managed” and that business will go on as usual afterwards.  If Greece leaves the euro it will set a very dangerous precedent.  The moment Greece exits the euro, investors all over the globe will be asking the following question: “Who is next?”  Portugal, Italy and Spain would all see bond yields soar and they would all likely experience runs on their banks.  It would only be a matter of time before more eurozone members would leave.  In the end, the whole monetary union experiment would crumble.

As I have written about previously, New York Times economist Paul Krugman is wrong about a whole lot of things, but in a blog post the other day he absolutely nailed what is likely to soon unfold in Greece….

1. Greek euro exit, very possibly next month.

2. Huge withdrawals from Spanish and Italian banks, as depositors try to move their money to Germany.

3a. Maybe, just possibly, de facto controls, with banks forbidden to transfer deposits out of country and limits on cash withdrawals.

3b. Alternatively, or maybe in tandem, huge draws on ECB credit to keep the banks from collapsing.

4a. Germany has a choice. Accept huge indirect public claims on Italy and Spain, plus a drastic revision of strategy — basically, to give Spain in particular any hope you need both guarantees on its debt to hold borrowing costs down and a higher eurozone inflation target to make relative price adjustment possible; or:

4b. End of the euro.

By itself, Greece cannot crash the eurozone.  But the precedent that Greece is about to set could set forth a chain of events that may very well bring about the end of the eurozone.

If one country is allowed to leave the euro, that means that other countries will be allowed to leave the euro as well.  This is the kind of uncertainty that drives financial markets crazy.

When the euro was initially created, monetary union was intended to be irreversible.  There are no provisions for what happens if a member nation wants to leave the euro.  It simply was not even conceived of at the time.

So we are really moving into uncharted territory.  A recent Bloomberg article attempted to set forth some of the things that might happen if a Greek exit from the euro becomes a reality….

A Greek departure from the euro could trigger a default-inducing surge in bond yields, capital flight that might spread to other indebted states and a resultant series of bank runs. Although Greece accounts for 2 percent of the euro-area’s economic output, its exit would fragment a system of monetary union designed to be irreversible and might cause investors to raise the threat of withdrawal by other states.

In fact, yields on Spanish debt and Italian debt are already rising rapidly thanks to the bad news out of Greece in recent days.

What makes things worse is that a new government has still not formed in Greece.  It looks like new elections may have to be held in June.

Meanwhile, the Greek government is rapidly running out of money.  The following is from a Bank of America report that was released a few days ago….

“If no government is in place before June when the next installment (of loan money) from the European Union and International Monetary Fund is due, we estimate that Greece will run out of money sometime between the end of June and beginning of July, at which point a return to the drachma would seem inevitable”

In the recent Greek elections, parties that opposed the bailout agreements picked up huge gains.  And opinion polls suggest that they will make even larger gains if another round of elections is held.

The Coalition of the Radical Left, also known as Syriza, surprised everyone by coming in second in the recent elections.  Current polling shows that Syriza is likely to come in first if new elections are held.

The leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, is passionately against the bailout agreements.  He says that Greece can reject austerity because the rest of Europe will never kick Greece out of the eurozone.  Tsipras believes that the rest of Europe must bail out Greece because the consequences of allowing Greece to go bankrupt and fall out of the eurozone would be far too high for the rest of Europe.

A spokesman for Syriza, Yiannis Bournos, recently told the Telegraph the following….

“Mr Schaeuble [Germany’s finance minister] is pretending to be the fearless cowboy on the radio, saying the euro is secure [against a Greek exit]. But there’s no way they will kick us out”

So Greece and Germany are playing a game of chicken.

Who will blink first?

Will either of them blink first?

Syriza is trying to convince the Greek people that they can reject austerity and stay in the euro.  Syriza insists that the rest of Europe will provide the money that they need to pay their bills.

And most Greeks do actually want to stay in the euro.  One recent poll found that 78.1 percent of all Greeks want Greece to remain in the eurozone.

But a majority of Greeks also do not want anymore austerity.

Unfortunately, it is not realistic for them to assume that they can have their cake and eat it too.  If Greece does not continue to move toward a balanced budget, they will lose their aid money.

And if Greece loses that aid money, the consequences will be dramatic.

Outgoing deputy prime minister of Greece Theodoros Pangalos recently had the following to say about what would happen if Greece doesn’t get the bailout money that it needs….

“We will be in wild bankruptcy, out-of-control bankruptcy. The state will not be able to pay salaries and pensions. This is not recognised by the citizens. We have got until June before we run out of money.”

If Greece gets cut off and runs out of money, it will almost certainly be forced to go back to using the drachma.  If that happens there will likely be a “bank holiday”, the borders will be secured to limit capital flight and new currency will be rapidly printed up.  It would be a giant mess.

In fact, there are rumblings that the European financial system is already making preparations for all this.  For example, a recent Reuters article had the following shock headline: “Banks prepare for the return of the drachma

But a new drachma would almost certainly crash in value almost immediately as a recent article in the Telegraph described….

Most economists think that a new, free-floating drachma would immediately crash by up to 50 percent against the euro and other currencies, effectively halving the value of everyone’s savings and spelling catastrophe for those on fixed incomes, like pensioners.

A Greek economy that is already experiencing a depression would get even worse.  The Greek economy has contracted by 8.5 percent over the past 12 months and the unemployment rate in Greece is up to 21.8 percent.  It is hard to imagine what Greece is going to look like if things continue to fall apart.

But the consequences for the rest of Europe (and for the rest of the globe) would be dramatic as well.  A Greek exit from the euro could be the next “Lehman Brothers moment” and could plunge the entire global financial system into another major crisis.

Unfortunately, at this point it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the eventual break up of the euro can be avoided.

Germany would have to become willing to bail out the rest of the eurozone indefinitely, and that simply is not going to happen.

So there is a lot of pessimism in the financial world right now.  Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next and the number of short positions is steadily rising as a recent CNN article detailed….

After staying quiet at the start of the year, the bears have come roaring back with a vengeance.

Short interest — a bet on stocks turning lower — topped 13 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange at the end of last month. That’s up 4% from March and marks the highest level of the year.

If the eurozone is going to survive, Greece must stay a part of it.

Instead of removing the weakest link from the chain, the reality is that a Greek exit from the euro would end up shattering the chain.

Confidence is a funny thing.  It can take decades to build but it can be lost in a single moment.

If Greece leaves the euro, investor confidence in the eurozone will be permanently damaged.  And when investors get spooked they don’t behave rationally.

A common currency in Europe is not dead by any means, but this current manifestation is now operating on borrowed time.

As the eurozone crumbles, it is likely that Germany will simply pull the plug at some point and decide to start over.

So what do you think?

Do you think that I am right or do you think that I am wrong?

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

Greece Has Defaulted – Which Country In Europe Is Next?

Well, it is official.  The restructuring deal between Greece and private investors has been pushed through and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association has ruled that this is a credit event which will trigger credit-default swap contracts.  The ISDA is saying that there are approximately $3.2 billion in credit-default swap contracts on Greek debt outstanding, and most analysts expect that the global financial system will be able to absorb these losses.  But still, 3.2 billion dollars is nothing to scoff at, and some of these financial institutions that wrote a lot of these contracts on Greek debt are going to be hurting.  This deal with private investors may have “rescued” Greece for the moment, but the consequences of this deal are going to be felt for years to come.  For example, now that Greece has gotten a sweet “haircut” from private investors, politicians in Portugal, Italy, Spain and other European nations are going to wonder why they shouldn’t get some “debt forgiveness” too.  Also, private investors are almost certainly going to be less likely to want to loan money to European nations from now on.  If they will be required to take a massive haircuts at some point, then why in the world would they want to lend huge amounts of money to European governments at super low interest rates?  It simply does not make sense.  Now that Greece has defaulted, the whole game is going to change.  This is just the beginning.

The “restructuring deal” was approved by approximately 84 percent of all Greek bondholders, but the key to triggering the payouts on the credit-default swaps was the fact that Greece decided to activate the “collective action clauses” which had been retroactively inserted into these bonds.  These collective action clauses force most of the rest of the bondholders to go along with this restructuring deal.

A recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard explained why so many people were upset about these “collective action clauses”….

The Greek parliament’s retroactive law last month to insert collective action clauses (CACs) into its bonds to coerce creditor hold-outs has added a fresh twist. These CAC’s are likely to be activated over coming days. Use of retroactive laws to change contracts is anathema in credit markets.

If a government can go in and retroactively change the terms of a bond just before it is ready to default, then why should private investors invest in them?

That is a very good question.

But for now the buck has been passed on to those that issued the credit-default swaps.  As mentioned above, the ISDA says that there are approximately $3.2 billion in Greek credit-default swaps that will need to be paid out.

However, that number assumes that a lot of hedges and offsetting swaps cancel each other out.  When you just look at the raw total of swaps outstanding, the number is much, much higher.  The following is from a recent article in The Huffington Post….

If you remove all hedges and offsetting swaps, there’s about $70 billion in default-insurance exposure to Greece out there, which is a little bit bigger pill for the banking system to swallow. Is it possible that some banks won’t be able to pay on their default policies? We’ll find out.

Yes, indeed.  We will find out very soon.

If some counterparties are unable to pay we could soon see some big problems cascade through the financial system.

But even with this new restructuring deal with private investors, Greece is still in really bad shape.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters recently that it “would be a big mistake to think we are out of the woods”.

Even with this new deal, Greek debt is still projected to be only reduced to 120 percent of GDP by the year 2020.  And that number relies on projections that are almost unbelievably optimistic.

In addition, there are still a whole host of very strict conditions that the Greek government must meet in order to continue getting bailout money.

Also, the upcoming Greek elections in just a few weeks could bring this entire process to an end in just a single day.

So the crisis in Greece is a long way from over.

The Greek economy has been in recession for five years in a row and it continues to shrink at a frightening pace.  Greek GDP was 7.5 percent smaller during the 4th quarter of 2011 than it was during the 4th quarter of 2010.

Unemployment in Greece also continues to get worse.

The average unemployment rate in Greece in 2010 was 12.5 percent.  During 2011, the average unemployment rate was 17.3 percent, and in December the unemployment rate in Greece was 21.0 percent.

Young people are getting hit the hardest.  The youth unemployment rate in Greece is up to an all-time record of 51.1 percent.

The suicide rate in Greece is also at an all-time record high.

Unfortunately, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for Greece at this point.  The latest round of austerity measures that are now being implemented will slow the economy down even more.

Sadly, several other countries in Europe are going down the exact same road that Greece has gone.

Investors all over the globe are wondering which one will be the “next Greece”.

Some believe that it will be Portugal.  The following is from a recent article in The Telegraph….

“The rule of law has been treated with contempt,” said Marc Ostwald from Monument Securities. “This will lead to litigation for the next ten years. It has become a massive impediment for long-term investors, and people will now be very wary about Portugal.”

Right now, the combination of all public and private debt in Portugal comes to a grand total of 360 percent of GDP.

In Greece, the combined total of all public and private debt is about 100 percentage points less than that.

So yes, Portugal is heading for a world of hurt.  The following is more about Portugal from the recent Telegraph article mentioned above….

Citigroup expects the economy to contract by 5.7pc this year, warning that bondholders may face a 50pc haircut by the end of the year. Portugal’s €78bn loan package from the EU-IMF Troika is already large enough to crowd out private creditors, reducing them to ever more junior status.

So why should anyone invest in Portuguese debt at this point?

Or Italian debt?

Or Spanish debt?

Or any European debt at all?

The truth is that the European financial system is a house of cards that could come crashing down at any time.

German economist Hans-Werner Sinn is even convinced that the European Central Bank itself could collapse.

There is a Der Spiegel article that everyone out there should read.  It is entitled “Euro-Zone Central Bank System Massively Imbalanced“. It is quite technical, but if this German economist is correct, the implications are staggering.

The following is from the first paragraph of the article….

More than a year ago, German economist Hans-Werner Sinn discovered a gigantic risk on the balance sheets of Germany’s central bank. Were the euro zone to collapse, Bundesbank losses could be half a trillion euros — more than one-and-a-half times the size of the country’s annual budget.

So no, the European debt crisis is not over.

It is just getting warmed up.

Get ready for a wild ride.

Bam! Bam! Bam! Huge Financial Bombs Just Got Dropped All Over Europe

The European debt crisis has just gone to an entirely new level.  Just when it seemed like things may be stabilizing somewhat, we get news of huge financial bombs being dropped all over Europe.  Very shortly after U.S. financial markets closed on Friday, S&P announced credit downgrades for nine European nations.  This included both France and Austria losing their cherished AAA credit ratings.  When the credit rating of a country gets slashed, that is a signal to investors that they should start demanding higher interest rates when they invest in the debt of that nation.  Over the past year it has become significantly more expensive for many European nations to borrow money, and these new credit downgrades certainly are certainly not going to help matters.  Quite a few financially troubled nations in Europe are very dependent on the ability to borrow huge piles of cheap money, and as debt becomes more expensive that is going to push many of them over the edge.    Yesterday I wrote about 22 signs that we are on the verge of a devastating global recession, and unfortunately that list just got a whole lot longer.

Over the past several months we have seen quite a few credit downgrades all over Europe, but we have never seen anything quite like what S&P just did.  Standard & Poor’s unleashed a barrage of credit downgrades on Friday….

-France was downgraded from AAA to AA+

-Austria was downgraded from AAA to AA+

-Italy was downgraded two more levels from A to BBB+

-Spain was downgraded two more levels

-Portugal was downgraded two more levels

-Cyprus was downgraded two more levels

-Malta was downgraded one level

-Slovakia was downgraded one level

-Slovenia was downgraded one level

This is really bad news for anyone that was hoping that things in Europe would start to get better.  Borrowing costs for many of these financially troubled nations are going to go even higher.

In addition, there was another really, really troubling piece of news that came out of Europe on Friday.

It was announced that negotiations between the Greek government and private holders of Greek debt have broken down.

The Institute of International Finance has been representing private bondholders in negotiations with the Greek government about the terms of a “voluntary haircut” that is supposed to be a key component of the “rescue plan” for Greece.

Greece desperately needs private bondholders to agree to accept a “voluntary haircut” of 50% or more.  Without some sort of an agreement, the finances of the Greek government will collapse very quickly.

For now, negotiations have failed.  There is hope that negotiations will resume soon, but Greece is rapidly running out of time.

The Institute of International Finance issued a statement on Friday which said the following….

“Unfortunately, despite the efforts of Greece’s leadership, the proposal put forward … which involves an unprecedented 50% nominal reduction of Greece’s sovereign bonds in private investors’ hands and up to €100 billion of debt forgiveness — has not produced a constructive consolidated response by all parties, consistent with a voluntary exchange of Greek sovereign debt”

The IIF says that negotiations are “paused for reflection” right now, but they are hoping that they will be able to resume before too long….

“Under the circumstances, discussions with Greece and the official sector are paused for reflection on the benefits of a voluntary approach”

Something needs to be done, because Greece is experiencing a complete and total financial meltdown.

Back at the end of July, the yield on one year Greek bonds was sitting at about 40 percent.  Today, the yield on one year Greek bonds is up to an astounding 396 percent.

That is how fast these things can move when confidence disappears.

Those living in the United States should keep that in mind.

Unfortunately, Greece is not the only European nation that is completely falling apart financially.

We aren’t hearing much about it in the U.S. media, but Hungary is a total basket case right now.  The credit rating of Hungary was reduced to junk status some time ago, and now the IMF and the EU are threatening to withhold financial aid from Hungary if the Hungarians do not run their country exactly as they are being told to do.

In particular, the IMF and the EU are absolutely furious that Hungary is trying to take more political control over the central bank in Hungary.  The following is from an article in the Daily Mail….

The European Union has stepped up pressure on Hungary over the country’s refusal to implement austerity policies and threatened legal action over its new constitution.

The warnings escalated the standoff between Budapest and the EU, as Hungary negotiates fresh financial aid from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.

Over the past months, the country’s credit rating has been cut to junk by all three major rating agencies, unemployment is 10.6 percent and the country may be facing a recession.

But bailout negotiations broke down after Budapest refused to cut public spending and implemented a new constitution reasserting political control over its central bank.

Slovenia is a total mess right now as well.  The following comes from a recent article posted on EUObserver.com….

Slovenia’s borrowing costs have reached ‘bail-out territory’ after lawmakers rejected the premier-designate, putting the euro-country on the line for further downgrades by ratings agencies.

Zoran Jankovic, the mayor of Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana, fell four votes short of the 46 needed to be approved as prime minister by the parliament, with the country’s president set to re-cast his name or propose someone new within two weeks.

Some time ago, I warned that 2012 was going to be a more difficult year for the global economy than 2011 was.

Well, things are certainly starting to shape up that way.

Europe is heading for some really hard times.  What is about to happen in Europe is going to shake the entire global financial system.

Those that live in the United States should take notice, because the U.S. financial system is far more fragile than most people believe.

Our banking system is a gigantic mountain of debt, leverage and risk and it could fall again at any time.

In addition, the U.S. debt problem is bigger than it has ever been before.

For example, did you know that the federal government is on a pace to borrow 6.2 trillion dollars by the end of Obama’s first term in office?

That is more debt than the U.S. government accumulated from the time that George Washington became president to the time that George W. Bush became president.

For now the U.S. government is still able to borrow giant piles of super cheap money, but such a situation does not last forever.

Just ask Greece.

Already there are indications that foreigners are starting to dump large amounts of U.S. debt.  If this trickle becomes a flood things could become very bad for the United States very quickly.

We are on the verge of some very bad things.  The kinds of “financial bombs” that we saw dropped today are going to become much more frequent.  As governments, banks and investors scramble to survive, we are going to see extreme amounts of volatility in the financial marketplace.

Things are not going to be “normal” again for a really, really long time.

Hold on tight, because 2012 is going to be a very interesting year.

22 Reasons Why We Could See An Economic Collapse In Europe In 2012

Will 2012 be the year that we see an economic collapse in Europe?  Before you dismiss the title of this article as “alarmist”, read the facts listed in the rest of this article first.  Over the past several months, there has been an astonishing loss of confidence in the European financial system.  Right now, virtually nobody wants to loan money to financially troubled nations in the EU and virtually nobody wants to lend money to major European banks.  Remember, one of the primary reasons for the financial crisis of 2008 was a major credit crunch that happened here in the United States.  This burgeoning credit crunch in Europe is just one element of a “perfect storm” that is rapidly coming together as we get ready to go into 2012.  The signs of trouble are everywhere.  All over Europe, governments are implementing austerity measures and dramatically cutting back on spending.  European banks are substantially cutting back on lending as they seek to meet new capital requirements that are being imposed upon them.  Meanwhile, bond yields are going through the roof all over Europe as investors lose confidence and demand much higher returns for investing in European debt.  It has become clear that without a miracle happening, quite a few European nations and a significant number of European banks are not going to be able to get the funding that they need from the market in 2012.  The only thing that is going to avert a complete and total financial meltdown in Europe is dramatic action, but right now European leaders are so busy squabbling with each other that a bold plan seems out of the question.

The following are 22 reasons why we could see an economic collapse in Europe in 2012….

#1 Germany could rescue the rest of Europe, but that would take an unprecedented financial commitment, and the German people do not have the stomach for that.  It has been estimated that it would cost Germany 7 percent of GDP over several years in order to sufficiently bail out the other financially troubled EU nations.  Such an amount would far surpass the incredibly oppressive reparations that Germany was forced to pay out in the aftermath of World War I.

A host of recent surveys has shown that the German people are steadfastly against bailing out the rest of Europe.  For example, according to one recent poll 57 percent of the German people are against the creation of eurobonds.

At this point, German politicians are firmly opposed to any measure that would place an inordinate burden on German taxpayers, so unless this changes that means that Europe is not going to be saved from within.

#2 The United States could rescue Europe, but the Obama administration knows that it would be really tough to sell that to the American people during an election season.  The following is what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today about the potential for a bailout of Europe by the United States….

“This is something they need to solve and they have the capacity to solve, both financial capacity and political will”

Carney also said that the Obama administration does not plan to commit any “additional resources” to rescuing Europe….

“We do not in any way believe that additional resources are required from the United States and from American taxpayers.”

#3 Right now, banks all over Europe are in deleveraging mode as they attempt to meet new capital-adequacy requirements by next June.

According to renowned financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, European banks need to reduce the amount of lending on their books by about 7 trillion dollars in order to get down to safe levels….

Europe’s banks face a $7 trillion lending contraction to bring their balance sheets in line with the US and Japan, threatening to trap the region in a credit crunch and chronic depression for a decade.

So what does that mean?

It means that European banks are going to be getting really, really stingy with loans.

That means that it is going to become really hard to buy a home or expand a business in Europe, and that means that the economy of Europe is going to slow down substantially.

#4 European banks are overloaded with “toxic assets” that they are desperate to get rid of.  Just like we saw with U.S. banks back in 2008, major European banks are busy trying to unload mountains of worthless assets that have a book value of trillions of euros, but virtually nobody wants to buy them.

#5 Government austerity programs are now being implemented all over Europe.  But government austerity programs can have very negative economic effects.  For example, we have already seen what government austerity has done to Greece. 100,000 businesses have closed and a third of the population is now living in poverty.

But now governments all over Europe have decided that austerity is the way to go.  The following comes from a recent article in the Economist….

France’s budget plans are close to being agreed on; further cuts are likely but will be delayed until after the elections in spring. Italy has yet to vote through a much-revised package of cuts. Spain’s incoming government has promised further spending cuts, especially in regional outlays, in order to meet deficit targets agreed with Brussels.

#6 The amount of debt owed by some of these European nations is so large that it is difficult to comprehend.  For example, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain owe the rest of the world about 3 trillion euros combined.

So what will massive government austerity do to troubled nations such as Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy?  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is very concerned about what even more joblessness will mean for many of those countries….

Even today, the jobless rate for youth is near 10pc in Japan. It is already 46pc in Spain, 43pc in Greece, 32pc in Ireland, and 27pc in Italy. We will discover over time what yet more debt deleveraging will do to these societies.

#7 Europe was able to bail out Greece and Ireland, but there is no way that Italy will be able to be rescued if they require a full-blown bailout.

Unfortunately, Italy is in the midst of a massive financial meltdown as you read this.  The yield on two year Italian bonds is now about double what it was for most of the summer.  There is no way that is sustainable.

It would be hard to overstate how much of a crisis Italy represents.  The following is how former hedge fund manager Bruce Krasting recently described the current situation….

At this point there is zero possibility that Italy can refinance any portion of its $300b of 2012 maturing debt. If there is anyone at the table who still thinks that Italy can pull off a miracle, they are wrong. I’m certain that the finance guys at the ECB and Italian CB understand this. I repeat, there is a zero chance for a market solution for Italy.

Krasting believes that either Italy gets a gigantic mountain of cash from somewhere or they will default within six months and that will mean the start of a global depression….

I think the Italian story is make or break. Either this gets fixed or Italy defaults in less than six months. The default option is not really an option that policy makers would consider. If Italy can’t make it, then there will be a very big crashing sound. It would end up taking out most of the global lenders, a fair number of countries would follow into Italy’s vortex. In my opinion a default by Italy is certain to bring a global depression; one that would take many years to crawl out of.

#8 An Italian default may be closer than most people think.  As the Telegraph recently reported, just to refinance existing debt, the Italian government must sell more than 30 billion euros worth of new bonds by the end of January….

Italy’s new government will have to sell more than EURO 30 billion of new bonds by the end of January to refinance its debts. Analysts say there is no guarantee that investors will buy all of those bonds, which could force Italy to default.

The Italian government yesterday said that in talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Prime Minister Mario Monti had agreed that an Italian collapse “would inevitably be the end of the euro.”

#9 European nations other than just the “PIIGS” are getting into an increasing amount of trouble.  For example, S&P recently slashed the credit rating of Belgium to AA.

#10 Credit downgrades are coming fast and furious all over Europe now.  At this point it seems like we see a new downgrade almost every single week.  Some nations have been downgraded several times.  For instance, Fitch has downgraded the credit rating of Portugal again.  At this point it is being projected that Portuguese GDP will shrink by about 3 percent in 2012.

#11 The financial collapse of Hungary didn’t make many headlines in the United States, but it should have.  Moody’s has cut the credit rating of Hungarian debt to junk status, and Hungary has now submitted a formal request to the EU and the IMF for a bailout.

#12 Even faith in German debt seems to be wavering. Last week, Germany had “one of its worst bond auctions ever“.

#13 German banks are also starting to show signs of weakness.  The other day, Moody’s downgraded the ratings of 10 major German banks.

#14 As the Telegraph recently reported, the British government is now making plans based on the assumption that a collapse of the euro is only “just a matter of time”….

As the Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warned that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible.

Diplomats are preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis.

The Treasury confirmed earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way.

A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time.

#15 The EFSF was supposed to help bring some stability to the situation, but the truth is that the EFSF is already a bad joke.  It has been reported that the EFSF has already been forced to buy up huge numbers of its own bonds.

#16 Unfortunately, it looks like a run on the banks has already begun in Europe.  The following comes from a recent article in The Economist….

“We are starting to witness signs that corporates are withdrawing deposits from banks in Spain, Italy, France and Belgium,” an analyst at Citi Group wrote in a recent report. “This is a worrying development.”

#17 Confidence in European banks has been absolutely shattered and virtually nobody wants to lend them money right now.

The following is a short excerpt from a recent CNBC article….

Money-market funds in the United States have quite dramatically slammed shut their lending windows to European banks. According to the Economist, Fitch estimates U.S. money market funds have withdrawn 42 percent of their money from European banks in general.

And for France that number is even higher — 69 percent. European money-market funds are also getting in on the act.

#18 There are dozens of major European banks that are in danger of failing.  The reality is that most major European banks are leveraged to the hilt and are massively exposed to sovereign debt.  Before it fell in 2008, Lehman Brothers was leveraged 31 to 1.  Today, major German banks are leveraged 32 to 1, and those banks are currently holding a massive amount of European sovereign debt.

#19 According to the New York Times, the economy of the EU is already projected to shrink slightly next year, and this doesn’t even take into account what is going to happen in the event of a total financial collapse.

#20 There are already signs that the European economy is seriously slowing down.  Industrial orders in the eurozone declined by 6.4 percent during September.  That was the largest decline that we have seen since the midst of the financial crisis in 2008.

#21 Panic and fear are everywhere in Europe right now.  The European Commission’s index of consumer confidence has declined for five months in a row.

#22 European leaders are really busy fighting with each other and a true consensus on how to solve the current problems seems way off at the moment.  The following is how the Express recently described rising tensions between German and British leaders….

The German Chancellor rejected outright Mr Cameron’s opposition to a new EU-wide financial tax that would have a devastating impact on the City of London.

And she refused to be persuaded by his call for the European Central Bank to support the euro. Money markets took a dip after their failure to agree.

Are you starting to get the picture?

The European financial system is in a massive amount of trouble, and when it melts down the entire globe is going to be shaken.

But it isn’t just me that is saying this.  As I mentioned in a previous article, there are huge numbers of respected economists all over the globe that are now saying that Europe is on the verge of collapse.

For example, just check out what Credit Suisse is saying about the situation in Europe….

“We seem to have entered the last days of the euro as we currently know it. That doesn’t make a break-up very likely, but it does mean some extraordinary things will almost certainly need to happen – probably by mid-January – to prevent the progressive closure of all the euro zone sovereign bond markets, potentially accompanied by escalating runs on even the strongest banks.”

Many European leaders are promoting much deeper integration and a “European superstate” as the answer to these problems, but it would take years to implement changes that drastic, and Europe does not have that kind of time.

If Europe experiences a massive economic collapse and a prolonged depression, it may seem like “the end of the world” to some people, but things will eventually stabilize.

A lot of people out there seem to think that the global economy is going to go from its present state to “Mad Max” in a matter of weeks.  Well, that is just not going to happen.  The coming troubles in Europe will just be another “wave” in the ongoing economic collapse of the western world.  There will be other “waves” after that.

Of course this current sovereign debt crisis could be entirely averted if the countries of the western world would just shut down their central banks and start issuing debt-free money.

The truth is that there is no reason why any sovereign nation on earth ever has to go a penny into debt to anyone.  If a nation is truly sovereign, then the government has the right to issue all of the debt-free money that it wants.  Yes, inflation would always be a potential danger in such a system (just as it is under central banking), but debt-free money would mean that government debt problems would be a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, most of the countries of the world operate under a system where more government debt is created when more currency is created.  The inevitable result of such a system is what we are witnessing now.  At this point, nearly the entire western world is drowning in debt.

There are alternatives to our current system.  But nobody in the mainstream media ever talks about them.

So instead of focusing on truly creative ways to deal with our current problems, we are all going to experience the bitter pain of the coming economic collapse instead.

Things did not have to turn out this way.

Trouble

The global economy is heading for a massive amount of trouble in the months ahead.  Right now we are seeing the beginning of a credit crunch that is shaping up to be very reminiscent of what we saw back in 2008.  Investors and big corporations are pulling huge amounts of money out of European banks and nobody wants to lend to those banks right now.  We could potentially see dozens of “Lehman Brothers moments” in Europe in 2012.  Meanwhile, bond yields on sovereign debt are jumping through the roof all over Europe.  That means that European nations that are already drowning in debt are going to find it much more expensive to continue funding that debt.  It would be a huge understatement to say that there is “financial chaos” in Europe right now.  The European financial system is in so much trouble that it is hard to describe.  The instant that they stop receiving bailout money, Greece is going to default.  Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Spain and quite a few other European nations are also on the verge of massive financial problems.  When the financial dominoes start to fall, the U.S. financial system is going to be dramatically affected as well, because U.S. banks have a huge amount of exposure to European debt.  The other day, I noted that investor Jim Rogers is saying that the coming global financial collapse “is going to be worse” than 2008.  Sadly, it looks like he is right on the money.  We are in a lot of trouble my friends, and things are going to get really, really ugly.

The sad thing is that we never have recovered from the last major financial crisis.  Right now, the U.S. economy is far weaker than it was back in 2007.  So what is going to happen if we get hit with another financial tsunami?  The following is what PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian said recently….

“What’s most terrifying, we are having this discussion about the risk of recession at a time when unemployment is already too high, at a time when a quarter of homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, at a time then the fiscal deficit is at 9 percent and at a time when interest rates are at zero.”

Can things really get much worse than they are now?

Unfortunately, yes they can.

Not that things are not really, really bad right now.

In Los Angeles earlier this week, approximately 10,000 people lined up for free turkey dinners.

So how many people will be lining up for free food when the unemployment rate in the U.S. soars into double digits?

Right now there is so much economic pain in America that it is hard to describe.  According to a recent report from one nonprofit group, 45 percent of all people living in the United States “do not have enough money to cover housing, food, healthcare and other basic expenses”.

If this is where we are at now, how much trouble will we be in as a nation if a financial crisis worse than 2008 hits us in 2012?

The primary cause of the coming financial crisis will almost certainly be the financial meltdown that we are seeing unfold in Europe.

The economic downturn that began in 2008 caused the debt levels of quite a few European nations to soar to unprecedented heights.  It has gotten to the point where the debts of many of those nations are no longer sustainable.

So investors are starting to demand much higher returns for the much greater risk associated with investing in the bonds of those countries.

But that makes it much more expensive for those troubled nations to fund their debts, and that means that their financial troubles get even worse.

Over the past 12 months, what we have seen happen to bond yields over in Europe has been nothing short of amazing.

Just check out this chart of what has been happening to the yield on 2 year Italian bonds over the past 12 months.

And keep in mind that these bond yields have been spiking even while the European Central Bank has been buying up unprecedented mountains of bonds in an attempt to keep bond yields low.

There has been a fundamental loss of faith in the financial system, and it is not just happening in Europe.

Just check out this chart.  As that chart shows, credit default swap spreads all over the globe are absolutely skyrocketing and are now higher than we have seen at any point since the great financial crisis that shook the world during 2008 and 2009.

Panic and fear are everywhere – especially in Europe.  In fact, it looks like a run on the banks has already begun in Europe.

The following comes from a recent article in The Economist….

“We are starting to witness signs that corporates are withdrawing deposits from banks in Spain, Italy, France and Belgium,” an analyst at Citi Group wrote in a recent report. “This is a worrying development.”

Nobody wants to lend money to European banks right now.  There is a feeling that they are all vulnerable and could fail at any time, and this lack of confidence actually makes that possibility even more likely.

The following is a short excerpt from a recent CNBC article….

Money-market funds in the United States have quite dramatically slammed shut their lending windows to European banks. According to the Economist, Fitch estimates U.S. money market funds have withdrawn 42 percent of their money from European banks in general.

And for France that number is even higher — 69 percent. European money-market funds are also getting in on the act.

So what can be done?

Well, in a different CNBC article, Mitchell Goldberg was quoted as saying that even “a bazooka” is not going to be good enough to fix this situation….

“It’s too late for a bazooka,” said Mitchell Goldberg, president of ClientFirst Strategy. “Now we need inter-continental ballistic missiles. This is getting worse very quickly.”

This is kind of like watching a horrific car wreck happen in very slow motion.

The financial system of Europe is dying and everybody can see what is happening but nobody can seem to find a way to fix it.

Not that we are solving our own problems here in the United States.

The vaunted “supercommittee” that was supposed to get a handle on our debt problem was a complete and utter failure.

Barack Obama has shown that he has no clue what to do when it comes to the economy, and Ben Bernanke has been preoccupied with roaming around the country trying to get people to feel more “warm and fuzzy” about the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve actually has more power over our economy than anyone else.  But instead of fixing things they only keep making things even worse.

The only people that the Fed seems to be helping are the banksters.

What you are about to read should really, really upset you.  According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Reserve has actually been tipping off their upcoming moves to top financial professionals.  In turn, these financial professionals have been using that information to make a lot of money for themselves and for their clients….

Hours after an Aug. 15 meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in his office, Nancy Lazar made a hasty call to investor clients: The Fed was dusting off an obscure 1960s-era strategy known as Operation Twist.

The news pointed to a boom in long-term bonds.

It was a good call. Over the next five weeks, prices on 10-year Treasury bonds soared, offering double-digit returns in an otherwise dismal year.

By the time the Fed announced its $400 billion Operation Twist on Sept. 21, the window for quick profits had all but slammed shut.

Ms. Lazar is among a group of well-connected investors and analysts with access to top Federal Reserve officials who give them a chance at early clues to the central bank’s next policy moves, according to interviews and hundreds of pages of documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal through open records searches.

You just can’t make stuff like this up.  The corruption at the Federal Reserve is totally out of control.  After nearly 100 years of total failure, it is time to shut down the Federal Reserve.

Not that Barack Obama should get a free pass for the role that he has played in this economic downturn.  He inherited a complete mess from Bush and has made it even worse.

Today, millions of business owners are so frustrated with Washington D.C. that they don’t know what to do.

For example, one business owner down in Georgia has posted signs with the following message on all of his company’s trucks….

“New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.”

The business environment in this country becomes more toxic with each passing year, and the federal government has already strangled millions of small businesses out of existence.

In addition, politicians from both parties continue to stand aside as tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars of our wealth get shipped out of the country.

During 2010, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day were shut down in the United States.  We are committing national economic suicide, and the top politicians in both political parties keep cheering for more.

Well, millions of ordinary Americans can see what is happening and they are preparing for the worst.

The following report comes from an article that was recently posted on the website of the local CBS affiliate in St. Louis….

A chain of three stores that sells survival food and gear reports a jump in sales to people who are getting prepared for the “possible collapse” of society.

“We had to order fifty cases of the meals ready to eat to keep up with the demand in the past three months,” said manager Steve Dorsey at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters Inc. in Webster Groves. “That’s not normal.  Usually we sell 20 to 30 cases in a whole year.”

So are you prepared for the coming collapse?

If you still have a great job and things are still going well for you, then you should definitely be thankful.  Compared to the rest of the world, most of us are incredibly blessed.

But let there be no doubt, the U.S. economy is going to get a lot worse in the years ahead.

Just because you have a job today does not mean that you will have one tomorrow.

Just because you have a nice car and a big home today does not mean that you will have them tomorrow.

We all need to try to become a lot less dependent on “the system”, because “the system” is failing.

A whole lot of trouble is coming.

You better get ready.

A Financial Nightmare For Italy: The Yield Curve For Italian Bonds Is Turning Upside Down

What we are all watching unfold right now is a complete and total financial nightmare for Italy.  Italian bond yields are soaring to incredibly dangerous levels, and now the yield curve for Italian bonds is turning upside down.  So what does that mean?  Normally, government debt securities that have a longer maturity pay a higher interest rate.  There is typically more risk when you hold a bond for an extended period of time, so investors normally demand a higher return for holding debt over longer time periods.  But when investors feel as though a major economic downturn or a substantial financial crisis is coming, the yield on short-term bonds will often rise above the yield for long-term bonds.  This happened to Greece, to Ireland and to Portugal and all three of them ended up needing bailouts.  Now it is happening to Italy and Spain may follow shortly, but the EU cannot afford to bail out either of them.  An inverted yield curve is a major red flag.  Unfortunately, there does not seem to be much hope that there is going to be a solution to this European debt crisis any time soon.

We are witnessing a crisis of confidence in the European financial system.  All over Europe bond yields went soaring today.  When I finished my article about the financial crisis in Italy on Tuesday night, the yield on 10 year Italian bonds was at 6.7 percent.  I awoke today to learn that it had risen to 7.2 percent.

But even more importantly, the yield on 5 year Italian bonds is now sitting at about 7.5 percent, and the yield on 2 year Italian bonds is about 7.2 percent.

The yield curve for Italian bonds is in the process of turning upside down.

If you want to see a frightening chart, just look at this chart that shows what has happened to 2 year Italian bonds recently.

Do phrases like “heading straight up” and “going through the roof” come to mind?

This comes despite rampant Italian bond buying by the European Central Bank.  CNBC is reporting that the European Central Bank was aggressively buying up 2 year Italian bonds and 10 year Italian bonds on Wednesday.

So what does it say when even open market manipulation by the European Central Bank is not working?

Of course some in the financial community are saying that the European Central Bank is not going far enough.  Some prominent financial professionals are even calling on the European Central Bank to buy up a trillion euros worth of European bonds in order to soothe the markets.

Part of the reason why Italian bond yields rose so much on Wednesday was that London clearing house LCH Clearnet raised margin requirements on Italian government bonds.

But that doesn’t explain why bond yields all over Europe were soaring.

The reality is that bond yields for Spain, Belgium, Austria and France also skyrocketed on Wednesday.

This is a crisis that is rapidly engulfing all of Europe.

But at this point, bond yields in Europe are still way too low.  European leaders shattered confidence when they announced that they were going to ask private Greek bondholders to take a 50% haircut.  So now rational investors have got to be asking themselves why they would want to hold any sovereign European debt at all.

There is no way in the world that any rational investor should invest in European bonds at these levels.

Are you kidding me?

If there is a very good chance that private bondholders will be forced to take huge haircuts on these bonds at some point in the future then they should be demanding much, much higher returns than this.

But if bond yields continue to go up in Europe, we are going to quickly come to a moment of very great crisis.

The following is what Rod Smyth of Riverfront Investment Group recently told his clients about the situation that is unfolding in Italy….

“In our view, 7% is a ‘tipping point’ for any large debt-laden country and is the level at which Greece, Portugal and Ireland were forced to accept assistance”

Other analysts are speaking of a “point of no return”.  For example, check out what a report that was just released by Barclays Capital had to say….

“At this point, Italy may be beyond the point of no return. While reform may be necessary, we doubt that Italian economic reforms alone will be sufficient to rehabilitate the Italian credit and eliminate the possibility of a debilitating confidence crisis that could overwhelm the positive effects of a reform agenda, however well conceived and implemented.”

But unlike Greece, Ireland and Portugal, the EU simply cannot afford to bail out Italy.

Italy’s national debt is approximately 2.7 times larger than the national debts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal put together.

Plus, as I noted earlier, Spain is heading down the exact same road as Italy.

Europe has simply piled up way, way too much debt and now they are going to pay the price.

Global financial markets are very nervous right now.  You can almost smell the panic in the air.  As a CNBC article posted on Wednesday noted, one prominent think tank actually believes that there is a 65 percent chance that we will see a “banking crisis” by the end of November….

“There is a 65 percent chance of a banking crisis between November 23-26 following a Greek default and a run on the Italian banking system, according to analysts at Exclusive Analysis, a research firm that focuses on global risks.”

Personally, I believe that particular think tank is being way too pessimistic, but this just shows how much fear is out there right now.

It seems more likely to me that the European debt crisis will really unravel once we get into 2012.  And when it does, it just won’t be a few countries that feel the pain.

For example, when Italy goes down many of their neighbors will be in a massive amount of trouble as well.  As you can see from this chart, France has massive exposure to Italian debt.

Just like we saw a few years ago, a financial crisis can be very much like a game of dominoes.  Once the financial dominoes start tumbling, it will be hard to predict where the damage will end.

Some believe that what is coming is going to be even worse than the financial nightmare of a few years ago.  For example, the following is what renowned investor Jim Rogers recently told CNBC….

“In 2002 it was bad, in 2008 it was worse and 2012 or 2013 is going to be worse still – be careful”

Rogers says that the reason the next crisis is going to be so bad is because debt levels are so much higher than they were back then….

“Last time, America quadrupled its debt. The system is much more extended now, and America cannot quadruple its debt again. Greece cannot double its debt again. The next time around is going to be much worse”

So what is the “endgame” for this crisis?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is saying that fundamental changes are needed….

“It is time for a breakthrough to a new Europe”

So what kind of a “breakthrough” is she talking about?  Well, Merkel says that the ultimate solution to this crisis is going to require even tighter integration for Europe….

“That will mean more Europe, not less Europe”

As I have written about previously, the political and financial elite of Europe are not going to give up on the EU because of a few bumps in the road.  In fact, at some point they are likely to propose a “United States of Europe” as the ultimate solution to this crisis.

But being more like the United States is not necessarily a solution to anything.

The U.S. is 15 trillion dollars in debt and extreme poverty is spreading like wildfire in this nation.

No, the real problem is government debt and the central banks of the western world which act as perpetual debt machines.

By not objecting to central banks and demanding change, those of us living in the western world have allowed ourselves to become enslaved to gigantic mountains of debt.  Unless something dramatically changes, our children and our grandchildren will suffer under the weight of this debt for as long as they live.

Don’t we owe future generations something better than this?