Planetary Collapse Threatens Our Survival: A New Study Says That More Than 1,200 Species “Will Almost Certainly Face Extinction”

We are witnessing a worldwide environmental collapse, and nobody seems to know how to stop it.  As you will see below, a study that was just released that looked at more than 5,000 species of birds, mammals and amphibians discovered that nearly a quarter of them “will almost certainly face extinction”.  Never before has our society faced such a massive collapse of life on a planetary scale, and yet the vast majority of the population doesn’t seem concerned about what is happening.  Species after species is being permanently wiped out, and most of us couldn’t care less.

The time for action is now.  According to this new study, over 1,200 species will soon be extinct unless dramatic action is taken.  The following comes from the Guardian

More than 1,200 species globally face threats to their survival in more than 90% of their habitat and “will almost certainly face extinction” without conservation intervention, according to new research.

Scientists working with Australia’s University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society have mapped threats faced by 5,457 species of birds, mammals and amphibians to determine which parts of a species’ habitat range are most affected by known drivers of biodiversity loss.

Once these species are gone, they will be gone forever.

And remember, this study from Australia only included larger creatures such as birds, mammals and amphibians.  The situation is far more dire when we look at what is happening to the insect world.  The following is an excerpt from my previous article entitled “Insect Apocalypse: The Global Food Chain Is Experiencing A Major Extinction Event And Scientists Don’t Know Why”

Scientists are telling us that we have entered “the sixth major extinction” in the history of our planet. A brand new survey of 73 scientific reports that was just released has come to the conclusion that the total number of insects on the globe is falling by 2.5 percent per year. If we stay on this current pace, the survey warns that there might not be “any insects at all” by the year 2119. And since insects are absolutely critical to the worldwide food chain, that has extremely ominous implications for all of us.

In case you are wondering, humanity would not survive very long without insects.

In fact, it has been estimated that if all bees go extinct that most of humanity will be wiped out within ten years.

The global food chain is literally dying right in front of our eyes, and I cannot understand why more people are not deeply alarmed by this.

We are facing an unprecedented crisis in our oceans as well.  Researchers in Canada have discovered that levels of phytoplankton have dropped by about 40 percent since 1950

The tiny organisms, known as phytoplankton, also gobble up carbon dioxide to produce half the world’s oxygen output—equaling that of trees and plants on land.

But their numbers have dwindled since the dawn of the 20th century, with unknown consequences for ocean ecosystems and the planet’s carbon cycle.

Researchers at Canada’s Dalhousie University say the global population of phytoplankton has fallen about 40 percent since 1950.

Without phytoplankton, our oceans would quickly become giant “dead zones”, and at the pace we are going we don’t have too long before that will happen.

And the truth is that the frightening drop in phytoplankton levels is already having a dramatic impact on the food chain.  I have shared the following quote from Chris Martenson before, but it is worth sharing again…

Fewer phytoplankton means less thiamine being produced. That means less thiamine is available to pass up the food chain. Next thing you know, there’s a 70% decline in seabird populations.

This is something I’ve noticed directly and commented on during my annual pilgrimages to the northern Maine coast over the past 30 years, where seagulls used to be extremely common and are now practically gone. Seagulls!

Next thing you know, some other major food chain will be wiped out and we’ll get oceans full of jellyfish instead of actual fish.

Are you starting to understand where I am coming from?

Our planet is literally dying, and there is only a very, very limited amount of time to do anything about it.

Meanwhile, western civilization is dying as well.  Paul Joseph Watson has just produced a video entitled “The Collapse Of Western Civilization”, and it is perhaps the finest video that he has created to date.  If you have not seen it yet, I would encourage you to check it out.

In an accompanying article, Watson listed some of the evidence that our society is in the process of collapsing…

From spiritual bankruptcy, to mass chemical dependence, to rampant addiction to sensual stimulation.

Almost every factor that precedes the collapse of great civilizations has been met by the west.

Our destruction is long overdue.

Depression is at its highest level ever. Drug addiction is at its highest level ever.

People identifying as Christians is at its lowest level ever.

As usual, Watson is right on the money.  We have lost our values, we have no clear direction as a society, and we are deeply, deeply miserable.  Just consider the following numbers from the CDC

The number of deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017 hit the highest level since federal data collection started in 1999, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by two public health nonprofits.

The national rate for deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide rose from 43.9 to 46.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, a 6 percent increase, the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust reported Tuesday.

Most people do not have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  Without meaning and purpose, most people drift aimlessly through life, and that must change.

Time is running out for our exceedingly vacuous society.  We are literally destroying ourselves and everything around us, and here in the western world we have completely lost our values.  We are on a road to nowhere, and we will soon be overtaken by the consequences of our very foolish actions.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

The Average Time Until A Great Civilization Collapses Is 336 Years, And The U.S. Is Now 242 Years Old

Every great civilization throughout human history has eventually collapsed, and if we want to have any hope of escaping the same fate, we need to be willing to learn some lessons from the past.  Because many of the same factors that caused the collapse of previous civilizations are weighing very heavily on the United States of America today.  According to the BBC, the average lifespan of a great civilization is 336 years from beginning to end.  But that doesn’t mean that America will make it that long.  Our nation is currently 242 years old, and there are signs of advanced social decay all around us.  If we remain on the road that we are currently on, there are many that believe that complete and utter collapse is not too far away.

Ultimately, what does a “society” consist of?

According to Luke Kemp of the University of Cambridge, societies are “just complex systems composed of people and technology”…

Societies of the past and present are just complex systems composed of people and technology. The theory of “normal accidents” suggests that complex technological systems regularly give way to failure. So collapse may be a normal phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and stage.

We may be more technologically advanced now. But this gives little ground to believe that we are immune to the threats that undid our ancestors. Our newfound technological abilities even bring new, unprecedented challenges to the mix.

It is not easy to keep an extremely complex society running, and there have been so many factors that have played a role in collapsing previous civilizations.  War, natural disasters, environmental shifts, social degradation, economic problems and disease are just a few examples.

And as Kemp has pointed out, sometimes societies simply collapse “under the weight of their own accumulated complexity and bureaucracy”

Collapse expert and historian Joseph Tainter has proposed that societies eventually collapse under the weight of their own accumulated complexity and bureaucracy. Societies are problem-solving collectives that grow in complexity in order to overcome new issues. However, the returns from complexity eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. After this point, collapse will eventually ensue.

Even if America wasn’t deteriorating in so many other areas, would our nation eventually collapse under the weight of our own bureaucracy as well?  We have the biggest government in the history of the world, and when you total up all levels of government we literally have millions of laws, rules and regulations governing our lives today.  It is a horrible system, and it is definitely not what our founders intended.  To me, it makes sense that someday it could ultimately collapse as people simply stop believing in it.

In order for a civilization to function smoothly, there must be something that bonds it together.  When the United States was originally established, we were united by a common set of values, but that is no longer true.

Today, America is more divided than it has been in my entire lifetime, and one of the biggest reasons is because there is no agreement about what our values should be.

Personally, I am a strong advocate for returning to the values that our nation was founded upon, and Mac Slavo echoed this sentiment in one of his recent articles

We now have the unique advantage of being able to learn from the wreckages of societies past, but instead of doing so and freeing mankind from government, many who are enslaved continue to push for shorter chains, more violence, control, domination, and theft by the ruling class – not just of themselves, but of all others too. Collapse is imminent in our opinion, as those in control will not willingly give up their stranglehold over the tax cattle slaves.

Unfortunately, many in our society want us to go in the exact opposite direction.

As a result, the fabric of our society is literally coming apart at the seams, and this is something that Jim Quinn commented on in one of his recent articles

Our society is now infinitely more materialistic, narcissistic, and greedy than it was in the 1950s. Moral degeneration has reached new lows, unthinkable during the relatively innocent 1950s. But the common theme is human failings, foibles, and fallacies. Whatever a culture values you get more of. Our culture values achievement, wealth and power, at any cost.

To illustrate his point, Quinn lamented the growing power that “social media influencers” now have in our society

Rather than make up our own minds about what we like, what we wear, where we eat, or what entertainment we enjoy, we need to be influenced into our decisions by famous people who are famous for being famous. These “influencers” generate their influential power through the number of social media followers they have accumulated by posting pictures of themselves in their underwear, leaked sex tapes, nude selfies, or generally being attractive.

Most of them are low IQ mouth breathers who can’t do basic math or write a comprehensible paragraph. But those 36DD breasts and pouty lips classify them as a grade A influencer. I can’t decide whether these narcissistic icons are more pathetic or the feeble-minded wretches who are actually influenced by these vacuous bimbos. Moral degeneration of society seems to have reached a new low.

We truly are becoming a real-life version of “Idiocracy”, and it is getting worse with each passing day.

But I can think of no better example of the decline of our society than Jussie Smollett.

Here is a guy that seemingly had everything.  He was on a hit show, he had lots of money and he had hordes of devoted fans that loved him.

But he threw it all away because he believed that he was entitled to more, and he was willing to do anything to get it.

Apparently he was not happy that he was making just $65,000 an episode, and so he created one of the most despicable hoaxes in American history in a desperate attempt to get his salary raised.

Piers Morgan has described him as “the most hideous, reprehensible, disgusting, snivelling little liar in America”, and I think that is about right.

But you know what?

He represents the true state of our society better than anyone else that I know.  Just like Smollett, we continue to insist that we are “the good guys”, but in reality our nation has become a cesspool of just about every sort of evil that you can possibly imagine.

If we will change our ways and return to the values that the first Americans embraced, we could turn things around.

But if we continue doing the things that we are currently doing, collapse is inevitable.

And it can happen very quickly.  In 390 AD, the Roman Empire covered nearly 2 million square miles and it seemed unstoppable.

But by 476 AD it was gone.

As many have said, if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.

Please wake up America.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Insect Apocalypse: The Global Food Chain Is Experiencing A Major Extinction Event And Scientists Don’t Know Why

Scientists are telling us that we have entered “the sixth major extinction” in the history of our planet.  A brand new survey of 73 scientific reports that was just released has come to the conclusion that the total number of insects on the globe is falling by 2.5 percent per year.  If we stay on this current pace, the survey warns that there might not be “any insects at all” by the year 2119.  And since insects are absolutely critical to the worldwide food chain, that has extremely ominous implications for all of us.

I write a lot about the inevitable collapse of our economic systems, but it could definitely be argued that our environment is already in a very advanced stage of “collapse”.  According to this new research, insects are going extinct at a rate that is “eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles”…

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

Perhaps the entire world will come together and will stop destroying the planet and we can reverse this trend before it is too late.

Unfortunately, you and I both know that this is extremely unlikely to happen.

And if it doesn’t happen, the researchers that conducted this scientific review insist that the consequences will be “catastrophic to say the least”

The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.

“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.

The clock is ticking, and time is running out for our planet.

Assuming that we could somehow keep the global insect decline from accelerating even more, we probably only have about 100 years before they are all gone

Chillingly, the total mass of insects is falling by 2.5 percent annually, the review’s authors said. If the decline continues at this rate, insects could be wiped off the face of the Earth within a century.

“It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none,” study co-author Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, an environmental biologist at the University of Sydney, Australia, told The Guardian.

So what would a planet without insects look like?

Well, according to Francisco Sánchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney, millions upon millions of birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish would “starve to death”

One of the biggest impacts of insect loss is on the many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects. “If this food source is taken away, all these animals starve to death,” he said. Such cascading effects have already been seen in Puerto Rico, where a recent study revealed a 98% fall in ground insects over 35 years.

And without bees and other pollinators, humans would be in a world of hurt.  You may have heard that Albert Einstein once said the following…

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.”

With that statement in mind, I would like for you to consider what this new study discovered about the decline of bee colonies in the United States

The study suggested that bee species in the UK, Denmark, and North America have taken major hits — bumblebees, honey bees, and wild bee species are all declining. In the US, the number of honey-bee colonies dropped from 6 million in 1947 to 2.5 million just six decades later.

We aren’t there yet, but a food chain cataclysm is literally right around the corner.

So why is all of this happening?

Modern methods of agriculture, urbanization and pesticides are some of the factors being blamed, but the truth is that scientists don’t actually know exactly why insects are dying off so quickly.

And none of those factors directly impact our oceans, and yet scientists have discovered that phytoplankton is declining at an exponential rate.  As a result of that decline, seabird populations have been plummeting at a pace that is extremely alarming.  The following comes from Chris Martenson

Fewer phytoplankton means less thiamine being produced. That means less thiamine is available to pass up the food chain. Next thing you know, there’s a 70% decline in seabird populations.

This is something I’ve noticed directly and commented on during my annual pilgrimages to the northern Maine coast over the past 30 years, where seagulls used to be extremely common and are now practically gone. Seagulls!

Next thing you know, some other major food chain will be wiped out and we’ll get oceans full of jellyfish instead of actual fish.

A global collapse is not something that is coming in the distant future.

A global collapse is here, and it is happening right in front of our eyes.

Our environment is literally dying all around us, and without our environment we cannot survive.

If humanity cannot solve this crisis, and we all know that they cannot, then an extremely apocalyptic future awaits for all of us.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Total Planetary Collapse: The World’s Vertebrate Population Has Fallen By An Average Of 60 Percent Since 1970

The clock is ticking for humanity, and it is not just because our financial system is heading for the biggest implosion that any of us have ever seen.  The truth is that we are literally running out of everything.  We will not have enough oil to meet our energy needs long before we get to the end of this century.  The lack of fresh water is already a major crisis in many parts of the world.  Our air and our soil are more polluted than they have ever been before.  And at this point we can barely feed the entire planet, but global demand for food is expected to escalate dramatically in the years ahead.  If we continue doing things the way that we have been doing them, a future filled with famine, civil unrest, environmental chaos and war appears to be inevitable.  We are literally on the verge of total planetary collapse, but because this is happening in slow-motion most people don’t feel an urgency to do anything about it.

And to a certain extent, the damage has already been done.  This week, the WWF released a report which found that the vertebrate population of the world has fallen by an average of 60 percent since 1970.  the following comes from NBC News

The population of the planet’s vertebrates has dropped an average of 60 percent since 1970, according to a report by the WWF conservation organization.

The most striking decline in vertebrate population was in the tropics in South and Central America, with an 89 percent loss compared to 1970. Freshwater species have also significantly fallen — down 83 percent in that period.

You may be thinking that you are not a big fan of the WWF, and I certainly am not either.

But even if their numbers are off by half, we are still talking about a planetary disaster of unprecedented magnitude.

Vertebrates include all mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles.  Species after species is being wiped out, and enormous holes are forming in the global food chain.

I don’t know if I even have the words to describe what we are facing.  The chief executive of the WWF says that what we are experiencing is “death by a thousand cuts”

The animals that remain will fight against warming oceans choked with plastic, toppled rain forests may zero out fragile species, and refuges such as coral reefs may nearly die off.

That will transform life as humanity knows it, said Carter Roberts, the chief executive of the WWF in the United States, if societies do not reverse course to protect the food, water and shelter needed for survival.

“The numbers are astonishingly bad,” Roberts told The Washington Post. “It’s death by a thousand cuts.”

There are a couple of other numbers from the report that I wanted to highlight.

First of all, the report states that nearly 6 billion tons of fish and invertebrates have been taken out of our oceans since 1950.  Today, over 4 billion people get at least some of their protein from eating fish, and if we do not start doing a better job of taking care of our oceans we are going to be facing a horrific planetary famine very soon.

Secondly, the report also claims that 90 percent of all seabirds in the world now have plastic in their stomachs.

Back in 1960, that number was sitting at just 5 percent.

We are literally filling up our oceans with our plastic waste, and in the process we are destroying our future.  For much, much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “There Are Trillions Of Pieces Of Floating Plastic In Our Oceans, And If We Don’t Stop All Marine Life Will Eventually Be Dead”.

The time to act is now, but it is extremely difficult to get the entire world to act in unison on anything, and most of the “environmental solutions” that are being proposed today are complete rubbish.

But “doing nothing” is certainly not an option either.  Without our natural environment, modern societies would cease to exist, and this is a point that the report made very clearly

The report urged quick action to avoid irreversible change to the planet, including a shift to green energy and environmentally friendly food production.

“What is clear is that without a dramatic move beyond ‘business as usual’ the current severe decline of the natural systems that support modern societies will continue,” the report said.

And Tanya Steele was even more direct when she spoke with CNN

Tanya Steele, the WWF’s chief executive in Britain, put it more bluntly to CNN: “We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it.”

Years ago, I remember watching a DVD entitled “Collapse” by Michael Ruppert.  I know that many of you probably watched it as well, because at the time it was very popular.  In that video, Ruppert made some excellent points about our limited natural resources.  But things have gotten so much worse than when he originally put that DVD out, and if he was alive today he would be absolutely horrified at how rapidly things have fallen apart.

Infinite growth is not possible on a planet with limited natural resources, and at this point we are literally running out of everything.

Will we be the generation that will be remembered for turning things around, or will we be the generation that will be remembered for destroying the Earth?

I would certainly like for it to be the former, but I have a feeling that it will turn out to be the latter.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium members-only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

This Is Exactly How Markets Behave Right Before They Crash

Roller Coaster - Photo by NeukolnWhen the stock market starts to behave like a roller coaster, that is a sign that a major move to the downside is right around the corner.  As I have stated repeatedly, when the market is very calm it tends to go up.  But when the waters start getting really choppy, that is a clear indication that stocks are about to plummet.  In early 2015, volatility has returned to Wall Street in a big way.  At one point on Tuesday, the Dow was up more than 300 points.  But then the bottom dropped out.  From the peak on Tuesday, the Dow plunged nearly 700 points in less than 30 hours before recovering more than 100 points at the end of the day.  The Dow has now experienced the longest losing streak that we have seen in 3 months, but that is not that big of a deal.  Of much greater concern is the huge price swings that we have been seeing. Remember, the three largest single day stock market increases in history were right in the middle of the financial crisis of 2008.  So if stocks go up 400 points tomorrow that is NOT a good sign.  What we really need is a string of days when stocks move less than 100 points in either direction.  If stocks keep making dramatic moves up and dramatic moves down, history tells us that it is only a matter of time before they collapse.  Any student of stock market history knows that what we are witnessing right now is exactly how markets behave right before they crash.

Examine the chart below very carefully.  It is a chart of the CBOE Volatility Index from 2006 to 2008.  As you can see, volatility was very low as stocks soared during 2006.  Then things started to get a bit choppy in 2007, and investors should have recognized this as a warning sign.  Finally, you can see that the VIX absolutely skyrocketed during the financial crisis of 2008…

VIX 2006 to 2008

Looking back, it seems so obvious.

So why aren’t more people alarmed this time around?

As CNN is reporting, the VIX is up almost 20 percent so far in 2015…

Volatility has returned with a vengeance this January. The Dow has been moving up or down by at least 100 points nearly every day this year.

CNNMoney’s Fear & Greed Index is showing signs of Extreme Fear again. And a volatility gauge known as the VIX, which is one of the components in our index, is up nearly 20% so far this year.

Meanwhile, there are lots of other signs of trouble on the horizon as well.

For example, the price of copper got absolutely hammered on Wednesday.  As I write this, it has fallen more than 5 percent and it has not been this low in more than five years.

In financial circles, it is referred to as “Dr. Copper” because it is such a valuable indicator regarding where the global economy is heading next.

For example, in 2008 the price of copper was close to $4.00 before plummeting to below $1.50 by the end of that year as the global financial system fell apart.

Now the price of copper is plunging again, and many analysts are becoming extremely concerned

One growing global worry is the steep decline in copper, which is used in many products and is often viewed as good gauge on how China is doing. The price of copper hit its lowest price since 2009 on Wednesday at $2.46. Copper is down nearly 7% this week alone.

Meanwhile, the recession (some call it a depression) in Europe continues to get even worse, and the euro continues to plunge.

On Wednesday, the euro declined to the lowest level that we have seen in nine years, and Goldman Sachs is now saying that the euro and the U.S. dollar could be at parity by the end of next year.

That is amazing considering the fact that it took $1.60 to get one euro back in July 2008.

Personally, I am fully convinced that Goldman Sachs is right on this one.  I believe that the euro is going to all-time lows that we have never seen before, and this is going to create massive problems for the eurozone.

With all of these signs of trouble out there, the smart money is rapidly pulling their money out of stocks and putting it into government bonds.  This usually happens when a crisis is looming.  It is called a “flight to safety”, and it pushes government bond yields down.

On Wednesday, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries fell beneath the important 1.8 percent barrier.  We will probably see it go even lower in the months ahead.

As the rest of the world economy crumbles, the remainder of the globe is looking to America to be the rock in the storm.  For example, the following quote that I found today comes from a British news source

The global economy is running on a single engine… the American one,’ the World Bank’s chief economist, Kaushik Basu, said. ‘This does not make for a rosy outlook for the world.’

Well, they may not want to rely on us too much, because there are plenty of signs that our economy is slowing down too.  For example, we learned today that December retail sales were down 0.9% from a year ago, and this is being called “an unmitigated disaster“.  Americans were supposed to be taking the money that they were saving on gasoline and spending it, but that apparently is not happening.

Back on October 29th, I wrote an article entitled “From This Day Forward, We Will Watch How The Stock Market Performs Without The Fed’s Monetary Heroin“.  In that article, I warned that the end of quantitative easing could have dire consequences for the financial system as bubbles created by the Fed began to burst.

And that is precisely what is happening.  In fact, many analysts are now pinpointing the end of QE as the exact moment when our current troubles began.  For instance, check out this excerpt from a CNBC article that was published on Wednesday

Stuff happens when QE ends,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group. “It’s no coincidence that the market started going into a higher volatility mode, it’s no coincidence that the decline in commodity prices accelerated, it’s no coincidence that the yield curve started flattening when QE ended.”

Indeed, the increase in volatility and its effect on prices across the capital market spectrum was closely tied to the Fed ending the third round of QE in October.

We are moving into a time of great danger for Wall Street and for the global economy as a whole.

If we continue to see a tremendous amount of volatility, history tells us that it is only a matter of time before the markets implode.

Hopefully you will be ready when that happens.

Will Italy Be The Spark That Sets Off Financial Armageddon In Europe?

Will Italy Be The Spark That Sets Off Financial Armageddon In EuropeIs the financial collapse of Italy going to be the final blow that breaks the back of Europe financially?  Most people don’t realize this, but Italy is actually the third largest debtor in the entire world after the United States and Japan.  Italy currently has a debt to GDP ratio of more than 120 percent, and Italy has a bigger national debt than anyone else in Europe does.  That is why it is such a big deal that Italian voters have just overwhelmingly rejected austerity.  The political parties led by anti-austerity candidates Silvio Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo did far better than anticipated.  When you combine their totals, they got more than 50 percent of the vote.  Italian voters have seen what austerity has done to Greece and Spain and they want no part of it.  Unfortunately for Italian voters, it has been the promise of austerity that has kept the Italian financial system stable in recent months.  Now that Italian voters have clearly rejected austerity, investors are fearing that austerity programs all over Europe may start falling apart.  This is creating quite a bit of panic in European financial markets right now.  On Tuesday, Italian stocks had their worst day in 10 months, Italian bond yields rose by the most that we have seen in 19 months, and the stocks of the two largest banks in Italy both fell by more than 8 percent.  Italy is already experiencing its fourth recession since 2001, and unemployment has been steadily rising.  If Italy is now “ungovernable”, as many are saying, then what does that mean for the future of Italy?  Will Italy be the spark that sets off financial armageddon in Europe?

All of Europe was totally shocked by the election results in Italy.  As you can see from the following excerpt from a Bloomberg article, the vote was very divided and the anti-austerity parties did much better than had been projected…

The results showed pre-election favorite Pier Luigi Bersani won the lower house with 29.5 percent, less than a half a percentage point ahead of Silvio Berlusconi, the ex-premier fighting a tax-fraud conviction. Beppe Grillo, a former comedian, got 25.6 percent, while Monti scored 10.6 percent. Bersani and his allies got 31.6 percent of votes in the Senate, compared with 30.7 percent for Berlusconi and 23.79 percent for Grillo, according to final figures from the Interior Ministry.

So what do those election results mean for Italy and for the rest of Europe?

Right now, there is a lot of panic about those results.  There is fear that what just happened in Italy could result in a rejection of austerity all over Europe

“I think the election results (or lack thereof) are a negative for the euro, which will likely keep the currency pressured for some time,” Omer Esiner, chief market analyst for Commonwealth Foreign Exchange, told me. But it’s not just the political uncertainty in Italy, he adds. “The shocking gains made by anti-establishment parties in Italy signal a broad-based frustration with austerity among voters and a decisive rejection of the policies pushed by Germany in nations across the euro zone’s periphery. That theme revives unresolved debt crisis issues and could threaten the continuity of reforms across other countries in the euro zone.”

And the financial markets have clearly interpreted the election results in Europe as a very bad sign.  Zero Hedge summarized some of the bad news out of Europe that we saw on Tuesday…

Swiss 2Y rates turned negative once again for the first time in a month; EURUSD relatively flatlined around 1.3050 (250 pips lower than pre-Italy); Europe’s VIX exploded to almost 26% (from under 19% yesterday); and 3-month EUR-USD basis swaps plunged to their most liquidity-demanding level since 12/28. Spain and Italy (and Portugal) were the most hurt in bonds today as 2Y Italian spreads broke back above 200bps (surging over 50bps casting doubt on OMT support) and 3Y Spain yields broke above 3% once again. The Italian equity market suffered its equal biggest drop in 6 months falling back to 10 week lows (and down 14% from its end-Jan highs). Italian bond yields (and spreads) smashed higher – the biggest jump in 19 months as BTP futures volume exploded in the last two days.

Not that things in Europe were going well before all this.

In fact, the UK was just stripped of its prized AAA credit rating.  That was huge news.

And check out some of the other things that have been going on in the rest of Europe

In Spain, a major real estate company, Reyal Urbis, collapsed last week, leaving already battered banks on the hook for millions of euros in losses. Meanwhile, the government faces a corruption scandal and a steady stream of anti-austerity demonstrations. Thousands of people took to the streets again on Saturday, protesting deep cuts to health and other services, as well as hefty bank bailouts.

Life is no better in a large swath of the broader EU. In Britain, Moody’s cited the continuing economic weakness and the resulting risks to the government’s tight fiscal policy for its rating cut. In Bulgaria, where the government fell last week and the economy is in a shambles, rightists who joined mass demonstrations across the country burned a European Union flag and waved anti-EU banners. Other austerity-minded governments in the EU face similar murky political futures.

At this point, Europe is a complete and total economic mess and things are rapidly getting worse.

And that is really bad news because Europe is already in the midst of a recession.  In fact, according to the BBC, the recession in the eurozone got even deeper during the fourth quarter of 2012…

The eurozone recession deepened in the final three months of 2012, official figures show.

The economy of the 17 nations in the euro shrank by 0.6% in the fourth quarter, which was worse than forecast.

It is the sharpest contraction since the beginning of 2009 and marks the first time the region failed to grow in any quarter during a calendar year.

But this is just the beginning.

The truth is that government debt is not even the greatest danger that Europe is facing.  In reality, a collapse of the European banking system is of much greater concern.

Why is that?

Well, how would you feel if you woke up someday and every penny that you had in the bank was gone?

In the U.S. we don’t have to worry about that so much because all deposits are insured by the FDIC, but in many European countries things work much differently.

For example, just check out what Graham Summers recently had to say about the banking system in Spain…

It’s a little known fact about the Spanish crisis is that when the Spanish Government merges troubled banks, it typically swaps out depositors’ savings for shares in the new bank.

So… when the newly formed bank goes bust, “poof” your savings are GONE. Not gone as in some Spanish version of the FDIC will eventually get you your money, but gone as in gone forever (see the above article for proof).

This is why Bankia’s collapse is so significant: in one move, former depositors at seven banks just lost virtually everything.

And this in a nutshell is Europe’s financial system today: a totally insolvent sewer of garbage debt, run by corrupt career politicians who have no clue how to fix it or their economies… and which results in a big fat ZERO for those who are nuts enough to invest in it.

Be warned. There are many many more Bankias coming to light in the coming months. So if you have not already taken steps to prepare for systemic failure, you NEED to do so NOW. We’re literally at most a few months, and very likely just a few weeks from Europe’s banks imploding, potentially taking down the financial system with them. Think I’m joking? The Fed is pumping hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars into EU banks right now trying to stop this from happening.

Like Graham Summers, I am extremely concerned about the European banking system.  Europe actually has a much larger banking system than the U.S. does, and if the European banking system implodes that is going to send huge shockwaves to the farthest corners of the globe.

But if you want to believe that the “experts” in Europe and in the United States have “everything under control”, then you might as well stop reading now.

After all, they are very highly educated and they know what they are doing, right?

But if you want to listen to some common sense, you might want to check out this very ominous warning from Karl Denninger

I hope you’re ready.

Congress has wasted the time it was given by the Europeans getting things “temporarily” under control.  But they didn’t actually get anything under control, as the Italian elections just showed.

Now, with the budget over there at risk of being abandoned, and fiscal restraint being abandoned (note: exactly what the US has been doing) the markets are recognizing exactly the risk that never in fact went away over the last couple of years.

It was hidden by lies, just as it has been hidden by lies here.

Bernanke’s machinations and other games “gave” the Congress four years to do the right thing.  They didn’t, because that same “gift” also destroyed all market signals of urgency.

As such you have people like Krugman and others claiming that it’s all ok and that we can spend with wild abandon, taking our fiscal medicine never.

They were wrong.  Congress was wrong.  The Republicans were wrong, the Democrats were wrong, and the Administration was wrong.

Congress is out of time; as I noted the deficit spending must stop now, irrespective of the fact that it will cause significant economic damage.

For the past couple of years, authorities in the U.S. and in Europe have been trying to delay the coming crisis by kicking the can down the road.

By doing so, they have been making the eventual collapse even worse.

And now time is running out.

I hope that you are ready.

Armageddon

The Big Dogs On Wall Street Are Starting To Get Very Nervous

The Big Dogs On Wall Street Are Starting To Get Very Nervous - Photo by Elf at the English language WikipediaWhy are some of the biggest names in the corporate world unloading stock like there is no tomorrow, and why are some of the most prominent investors on Wall Street loudly warning about the possibility of a market crash?  Should we be alarmed that the big dogs on Wall Street are starting to get very nervous?  In a previous article, I got very excited about a report that indicated that corporate insiders were selling nine times more of their own shares than they were buying.  Well, according to a brand new Bloomberg article, insider sales of stock have outnumbered insider purchases of stock by a ratio of twelve to one over the past three months.  That is highly unusual.  And right now some of the most respected investors in the financial world are ringing the alarm bells.  Dennis Gartman says that it is time to “rush to the sidelines”, Seth Klarman is warning about “the un-abating risks of collapse”, and Doug Kass is proclaiming that “we’re headed for a sharp fall”.  So does all of this mean that a market crash is definitely on the way?  No, but when you combine all of this with the weak economic data constantly coming out of the U.S. and Europe, it certainly does not paint a pretty picture.

According to Bloomberg, it has been two years since we have seen insider sales of stock at this level.  And when insider sales of stock are this high, that usually means that the market is about to decline…

Corporate executives are taking advantage of near-record U.S. stock prices by selling shares in their companies at the fastest pace in two years.

There were about 12 stock-sale announcements over the past three months for every purchase by insiders at Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) companies, the highest ratio since January 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Pavilion Global Markets. Whenever the ratio exceeded 11 in the past, the benchmark index declined 5.9 percent on average in the next six months, according to Pavilion, a Montreal-based trading firm.

But it isn’t just the number of stock sales that is alarming.  Some of these insider transactions are absolutely huge.  Just check out these numbers

Among the biggest transactions last week were a $65.2 million sale by Google Inc.’s 39-year-old Chief Executive Officer Larry Page, a $40.1 million disposal by News Corp.’s 81- year-old Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and a $34.2 million sale from American Express Co. chief Kenneth Chenault, who is 61. Nolan Archibald, the 69-year-old chairman of Stanley Black & Decker Inc. who plans to leave his post next month, unloaded $29.7 million in shares last week and Amphenol Corp. Chairman Martin Hans Loeffler, 68, sold $27.5 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, 57, announced plans to sell as many as 3.2 million shares in the operator of the world’s most-popular search engine. The planned share sales, worth about $2.5 billion, represent about 42 percent of Schmidt’s holdings.

So why are all of these very prominent executives cashing out all of a sudden?

That is a very good question.

Meanwhile, some of the most respected names on Wall Street are warning that it is time to get out of the market.

For example, investor Dennis Gartman recently wrote that the game is “changing” and that it is time to “rush to the sidelines”…

“When tectonic plates in the earth’s crust shift earthquakes happen and when the tectonic plants shift beneath our feet in the capital markets margin calls take place. The tectonic plates have shifted and attention… very careful and very substantive attention… must be paid.

“Simply put, the game has changed and where we were playing a ‘game’ fueled by the monetary authorities and fueled by the urge on the part of participants to see and believe in rising ‘animal spirits’ as Lord Keynes referred to them we played bullishly of equities and of the EUR and of ‘risk assets’. Now, with the game changing, our tools have to change and so too our perspective.

“Where we were buyers of equities previously we must disdain them henceforth. Where we were sellers of Yen and US dollars we must buy them now. Where we had been long of gold in Yen terms, we must shift that and turn bullish of gold in EUR terms. Where we might have been ‘technically’ bullish of the EUR we must now be technically and fundamentally bearish of it. The game board has been flipped over; the game has changed… change with it or perish. We cannot be more blunt than that.”

That is a very ominous warning, but he is far from alone.  Just the other day, I wrote about how legendary investor Seth Klarman is warning that the collapse of the financial markets could happen at literally any time

“Investing today may well be harder than it has been at any time in our three decades of existence,” writes Seth Klarman in his year-end letter. The Fed’s “relentless interventions and manipulations” have left few purchase targets for Baupost, he laments. “(The) underpinnings of our economy and financial system are so precarious that the un-abating risks of collapse dwarf all other factors.”

Other big hitters on Wall Street are ringing the alarm bells as well.  For example, Seabreeze Partners portfolio manager Doug Kass recently told CNBC that what he is seeing right now reminds him of the period just before the crash of 1987…

“I’m getting the ‘summer of 1987 feeling’ in the U.S. equity market,” Kass told CNBC, “which means we’re headed for a sharp fall.”

And of course the “perma-bears” continue to warn that the months ahead are going to be very difficult.  For instance, “Dr. Doom” Marc Faber recently said that he “loves the high odds of a ‘big-time’ market crash“.

Another “perma-bear”, Nomura’s Bob Janjuah, is convinced that the stock market will experience one more huge spike before collapsing by up to 50%

I continue to believe that the S&P500 can trade up towards the 1575/1550 area, where we have, so far, a grand double top. I would not be surprised to see the S&P trade marginally through the 2007 all-time nominal high (the real high was of course seen over a decade ago – so much for equities as a long-term vehicle for wealth creation!). A weekly close at a new all-time high would I think lead to the final parabolic spike up which creates the kind of positioning extreme and leverage extreme needed to create the conditions for a 25% to 50% collapse in equities over the rest of 2013 and 2014, driven by real economy reality hitting home, and by policymaker failure/loss of faith in “their system”.

So are they right?

We will see.

At the same time that many of the big dogs are pulling their money out of the market, many smaller investors are rushing to put their money back in to the market.  The mainstream media continues to assure them that everything is wonderful and that this rally can last forever.

But it is important to keep in mind that the last time that Wall Street was this “euphoric” was right before the market crash in 2008.

So what should we be watching for?

As I have mentioned before, it is very important to watch the financial markets in Europe right now.

If they crash, the financial markets in the U.S. will probably crash too.

And the financial markets in Europe definitely have had a rough week.  Just check out what happened on Thursday.  The following is from a report by CNBC’s Bob Pisani

Italy, Germany, France, Spain, U.K., Greece, and Portugal all on track to log worst day since Feb. 4. European PMI numbers were disappointing, with all major countries except Germany reporting numbers below 50, indicating contraction.

What does this mean? It means Europe remains mired in recession: “The euro zone is on course to contract for a fourth consecutive quarter,” Markit, who provides the PMI data, said. A new insight is that France is now joining the weakness shown in periphery countries.

You’re giving me agita: Italy was the worst market, down 2.5 percent. The CEO of banking company, Intesa Sanpaolo, said Italy’s recession has been so bad it could cause a fifth of Italian companies to fail, noting that topline for those bottom fifth have been shrinking 35 to 45 percent. Italian elections are this weekend.

It wasn’t any better in Asia. The Shanghai Index had its worst day in over a year, closing down nearly three percent.

And the economic numbers coming out of the U.S. also continue to be quite depressing.

On Thursday, the Department of Labor announced that there were 362,000 initial claims for unemployment benefits during the week ending February 16th.  That was a sharp rise from a week earlier.

But I am not really concerned about that number yet.

When it rises above 400,000 and it stays there, then it will be time to officially become alarmed.

So what is the bottom line?

There are trouble signs on the horizon for the financial markets.  Nobody should panic right now, but things certainly do not look very promising for the remainder of the year.

Big Dog

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