14 Questions People Ask About How To Prepare For The Collapse Of The Economy

How in the world is someone supposed to actually prepare for an economic collapse?  What should you do with your money?  How can you make sure that your family is going to be okay?  How can you prepare if your resources are extremely limited?  These are the kinds of questions people ask me all the time.  Once people understand that the economy has been collapsing and will continue to collapse, then the next step for most of them is that they want to get prepared for the storm that is coming.  So where should someone get started?  Well, the truth is that no two people are facing the exact same set of circumstances, so preparation is going to look different for each individual.  But there are certain core principles that we can all benefit from.  For example, when a financial storm is coming that is not the time to be blowing thousands of dollars on vacations and new toys.  You would be surprised at how many people there are that claim that they have no extra money in their budgets and yet somehow have plenty of money to run down to Wal-Mart and buy a big stack of DVDs.  When times are difficult, each hard-earned dollar becomes much more precious, and we all need to start getting into the habit of making the most out of our limited resources.  The seemingly endless prosperity that we have all been enjoying for decades is coming to an end, and most of us have absolutely no experience on how to deal with truly hard times.  If you are under the age of 60, it might be a really good idea to read a book or two on what conditions were like during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  There is a lot that we can learn from our own history.

Another key characteristic that we will all need in the years ahead is flexibility.  Anyone that has spent any time in the military knows that very few plans ever work out perfectly.  As the global economy breaks down and the world becomes increasingly unstable, conditions are going to change rapidly.  What might work really well in one situation might be the exact wrong thing to do 6 months later.  If you are not willing or able to adapt to dramatic change then you are going to have a lot of difficulty in the years ahead.

Many people refer to me as a “doom and gloomer” because I run a website called “The Economic Collapse” and I am constantly pointing out that the entire world is heading for a complete and total financial nightmare.

But I don’t think that it does any good to stick your head in the sand.  I believe that there is hope in understanding what is happening and I believe that there is hope in getting prepared.

It is those that are completely oblivious to what is really going on that will be totally blindsided by the coming crisis.  When they finally realize what has come upon them many of them will totally lose it.

From my little spot on the wall I am trying my best to warn people so that they can have a chance to be prepared for what is coming.

I am not spreading doom and gloom.

I am spreading hope.

And I want to make another point.  Generally, things are going to be getting progressively worse as the years roll along.  As I have written about before, I believe that the economic collapse is not a single event.  Rather, I see it as a series of waves that will be punctuated by moments of great crisis.

So advice about preparation is going to be different depending on whether you are talking about the short-term or the mid-term or the long-term.  Hopefully you will keep that in mind as you read my answers to the questions below.

The following are common questions that people ask about how to prepare for the collapse of the economy….

#1 How Do I Get Started?

When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, what was the biggest danger for most Americans?

The biggest danger was that they would lose their jobs and not be able to pay their bills.

During the last recession, millions and millions of Americans did end up losing their jobs.

And because many of them were living paycheck to paycheck many of them also ended up losing their homes.

You do not want that to happen to you.

So what I am about to say next is not considered to be very “sexy” in prepper circles, but it is absolutely crucial advice.

You need to have an emergency fund saved up that can cover your expenses for at least six months.

That way if you lose your job or your business goes under you will be able to keep going for a while as you figure out what your next move will be.

These days it takes the average unemployed American nearly 40 weeks to find a new job, and it will likely be even worse in the next major economic downturn.

So make sure that you have plenty of cash saved up just in case.  If you are currently living paycheck to paycheck you are extremely vulnerable.

#2 What Should I Do With My Money?

I get this question a lot.

People always want to know where they should put their money.

Well, my first piece of advice is always to build an emergency fund.  See #1 above.  Most people do not have one.

After that is done, I am a big believer in not putting all of my eggs into one basket.

Sometimes people will tell me that they are going to take all of their money out of the banks because they don’t feel safe having their money in them.

Well, if you stick all of your money in your mattress, what happens if there is a fire or what happens if someone robs you?

That is why I believe in spreading your risk around.  Having money a bunch of different places is a good thing.

But one place I would not put it is in the stock market.  If you were fortunate enough to catch the recent rally you should get out while the getting is good.

If you have blind faith in the stock market you are going to be deeply disappointed eventually.  I do not have a single penny in the stock market, and a couple of years from now that is going to look like a very wise move.

#3 Should I Invest In Precious Metals?

A lot of people that write about the economic crisis in this country really advocate investing in precious metals because they tend to hold value over time (unlike fiat currencies).

I like precious metals myself, but if you are going to invest you need to get educated so that you know what you are doing.  If you go in blindly you are likely to get burned at some point.

In addition, you need to be prepared for wild fluctuations in price over the coming years.  There will be times when gold and silver absolutely soar and there will be times when they drop like a rock.

So if you are going to play the game you need to be able to handle the ride.

#4 Should I Get Out Of Debt?

Many that write about the coming economic collapse say that you shouldn’t even bother to pay off your debts because the financial system is going to collapse anyway.

I don’t see it that way.

I don’t believe that our banks are going to totally collapse and suddenly go out of existence.

Not in the short-term anyway.

So I believe that it is actually a good idea to get out of debt.  When financial troubles hit you don’t want a horde of bill collectors coming after you.

There is a lot of freedom that comes with getting out of debt, and in this environment it is wise to become as independent of the system as possible.

#5 What If I Don’t Have Any Money To Prepare?

In this kind of economic environment it is no surprise that I get this question a lot.

Many families are just barely scraping by each month and they do not have much money to put into anything.

And I can definitely sympathize with that.

However, I would say that there are very, very few families out there that do not have anything that can be cut out of the budget.

The truth is that American families are experts at blowing money on really stupid stuff.

In general, I recommend that all families do what they can to reduce their expenses.

The smaller of a financial footprint you have, the better off you will be and the more resources you will have to help you get prepared.

Also, now is the time to be looking for ways that you can increase your income.

For many Americans, starting a side business is a way to bring in some extra cash.  Yes, this will cut into your television watching time, but now is not the time to be lazy.

The time you spend working hard now while the sun is still shining will pay off later.

Don’t be afraid to work harder than you ever have before.

#6 Should I Rent Or Buy?

This is a question that I also get a lot, and it really depends on your situation.

If you rent, that gives you a lot more flexibility.  You can move for a new job or a new opportunity without having to sell a house.  And you get to avoid a lot of the expenses and hassles that come with being a homeowner.

If you buy, you get to “lock in” your housing expenses for many years.  In a highly inflationary environment this would potentially be very beneficial.  And interest rates are very low right now.

In addition, it is going to be really hard to rent a really good “prepper” property.  If you are looking for a property that is away from the big cities where you can grow your own food and become more independent of the system, then in most cases you are going to have to buy such a property.

But if you do buy, it is going to be much harder to move if something does happen and you need to go somewhere else.

#7 What About My Health Condition?

Over the next few years, our health care system should continue operating at least somewhat normally.  But the truth is that our health care system is in horrible shape and it is not a good thing to be totally dependent on pills and doctors.

Even if economic conditions were perfect it would be a good idea to learn what you can do on your own to improve your health.  But this is especially true as we move into a time of great economic instability.

#8 Should I Be Storing Food?

Yes.

However, even though the United States is experiencing a historic drought right now, I do not believe that there will be major food shortages in America this year or next year.

Down the road, however, is a different story.

And your food dollars are never going to go farther than they do right now.  As I wrote about the other day, this drought is likely to cause food prices to go up substantially, and so the food you store now might end up being twice as valuable a few years from now.

In addition, you never know when a major disaster or emergency is going to strike so it is always good to become more independent of the system.

I encourage everyone to learn how to grow a garden.  Yes, your space may be limited, but there is actually one family that produces 6000 pounds of produce every year on just 1/10th of an acre right in the middle of Pasadena, California.

If they can do such extraordinary things with their little plot of land, why can’t you try to do what you can with what you have?

#9 Should I Be Storing Water?

It is always good to have some water on hand in case disaster or emergency strikes.

And you should be rotating whatever water you currently have on hand because you don’t want water sitting around indefinitely.

But what is much more important is to make sure that you and your family have access to a source of water that you can depend on if disaster strikes and the grid goes down.

In a previous article I discussed a report put out by the American Trucker Associations entitled “When Trucks Stop, America Stops” that detailed just how incredibly vulnerable our water supply really is….

According to the American Water Works Association, Americans drink more than one billion glasses of tap water per day. For safety and security reasons, most water supply plants maintain a larger inventory of supplies than the typical business. However, the amount of chemical storage varies significantly and is site specific. According to the Chlorine Institute, most water treatment facilities receive chlorine in cylinders (150 pounds and one ton cylinders) that are delivered by motor carriers. On average, trucks deliver purification chemicals to water supply plants every seven to 14 days. Without these chemicals, water cannot be purified and made safe for drinking. Without truck deliveries of purification chemicals, water supply plants will run out of drinkable water in 14 to 28 days. Once the water supply is drained, water will be deemed safe for drinking only when boiled. Lack of clean drinking water will lead to increased gastrointestinal and other illnesses, further taxing an already weakened healthcare system.

So yes, water is definitely something you should be accounting for in your preparations.

#10 Other Than Food And Water What Other Supplies Will I Need?

Anything that you use on a regular basis or that you would use in an emergency situation is something that you should consider storing up.

For example, if you could not buy any more toilet paper from the stores, what would you do?

Basic things like that are often overlooked by many preppers.

In a previous article, I listed dozens of things you may want to consider storing.  Preparation is going to look different for every family, but hopefully that list will give you some ideas.

#11 What Happens If The Power Grid Goes Down?

This is a very important consideration – especially if you live in a colder climate.

Some people have a backup generator for such circumstances.

Others have set up wind and/or solar systems for their homes.

Alternative energy solutions are great if you can afford them, and they will enable you to become much more independent of the system.

But not everyone can afford to put in solar panels or a big wind turbine.

So do what you can with what you have.

#12 Should I Leave The Big Cities?

A lot of people ask me this, but there is no easy answer.

In this day and age, a good job is like gold.  It can be really, really tough to give up a good job and move to the middle of nowhere.

But without a doubt, society is starting to come apart at the seams and I do expect rioting and major civil unrest in our major cities at some point in the future.

In the end, you need to do what is right for you and your own family.  Nobody else can make this decision for you.

#13 Should I Get Some Self-Defense Training?

America seems to be overrun by psychopaths and sociopaths these days, and in such an environment being able to defend yourself becomes more important.

When criminals come to your home, they are not going to sit down and have a debate with you.  They are not going to care what your political outlook is or if you sympathize with their plight.

The criminals are simply going to do what they came there to do unless someone stops them.

So yes, some self-defense training may come in very handy in the years ahead.

#14 What Should I Do If My Family And Friends Won’t Listen To Me?

This is another very common question that I get.

What should people do if nobody will listen to them?

Well, you just have to do the best that you can.  If they won’t listen now, just keep planting seeds.  Keep sending them articles that are packed with statistics and information that show why an economic collapse is going to happen.

In the years ahead we are all going to need our families and our friends because communities will endure what is coming much better than “lone wolf” individuals will be able to.

No matter how hard you prepare, at some point you are going to need the help of someone else.

So don’t be afraid to reach out to others.

If nobody among your family or friends will listen to you at the moment, you may have to prepare on your own right now.

In fact, you may have to do extra preparation because at some point it is probably inevitable that your family and friends will come to you for help.

That is the perspective that my wife and I take.  We are not only preparing for ourselves.  We are also preparing for the family members that may have to depend on us someday.

Nobody said that preparing was going to be easy.

But beyond any physical preparations, I also believe that it is absolutely crucial to prepare mentally and spiritually.

The times that are coming are going to be incredibly challenging.  They are going to require a great deal of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength.

If you are a “lone wolf” that believes that you don’t need anyone or anything, then I feel sorry for you and I honestly don’t know how you are going to make it.

None of us have all the answers.

I know that I certainly do not.

I have just written nearly 3000 words, but after I post this article I know that some of the great visitors to my site will post ideas that I never even considered for this article.

We can all learn from each other.  Most of the people that I have met that think “they know it all” are some of the most clueless people that I have ever come across.

I never want to stop learning, and hopefully that is the case for you as well.

If we work together, perhaps we can all make it through the horrible, horrible times that are coming.

11 Signs That Time Is Quickly Running Out For The Global Financial System

Are we rapidly approaching a moment of reckoning for the global financial system?  August is likely to be a relatively slow month as most of Europe is on vacation, but after that we will be moving into a “danger zone” where just about anything could happen.  Historically, a financial crisis has been more likely to happen in the fall than during any other time, and this fall is shaping up to be a doozy.  Much of the focus of the financial world is on whether or not the euro is going to break up, but even if the authorities in Europe are able to keep the euro together we are still facing massive problems.  Countries such as Greece and Spain are already experiencing depression-like conditions, and much of the rest of the globe is sliding into recession.  Unemployment has already risen to record levels in some parts of Europe, major banks all over Europe are teetering on the brink of insolvency, and the flow of credit is freezing up all over the planet.  If things take a really bad turn, this crisis could become much worse than the financial crisis of 2008 very quickly.

All over the world people are starting to write about the possibility of a major economic crisis starting this fall.

For example, a recent article in the International Business Times discussed how some economists around the globe are fearing the worst for the coming months….

The consensus? The world economy has entered a final countdown with three months left, and investors should pencil in a collapse in either August or September.

Citing a theory he has been espousing since 2010 that predicts “a future lack of policy flexibility from the monetary and fiscal side,” Jim Reid, a strategist at Deutsche Bank, wrote a note Tuesday that gloated “it feels like Europe has proved us right.”

“The U.S. has the ability to disprove the universal nature of our theory,” Reid wrote, but “if this U.S. cycle is of completely average length as seen using the last 158 years of history (33 cycles), then the next recession should start by the end of August.”

The global financial system is so complex and there are so many thousands of moving parts that it is always difficult to put an exact date on anything.  In fact, history is littered with economists that have ended up looking rather foolish by putting a particular date on a prediction.

But without a doubt we are starting to see storm clouds gather for this fall.

The following are 11 more signs that time is quickly running out for the global financial system….

#1 A number of very important events regarding the financial future of Europe are going to happen in the month of September.  The following is from a recent Reuters article that detailed many of the key things that are currently slated to occur during that month….

In that month a German court makes a ruling that could neuter the new euro zone rescue fund, the anti-bailout Dutch vote in elections just as Greece tries to renegotiate its financial lifeline, and decisions need to be made on whether taxpayers suffer huge losses on state loans to Athens.

On top of that, the euro zone has to figure out how to help its next wobbling dominoes, Spain and Italy – or what do if one or both were to topple.

#2 Reuters is reporting that Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos has suggested that Spain may need a 300 billion euro bailout.

#3 Spain continues to slide deeper into recession.  The Spanish economy contracted 0.4 percent during the second quarter of 2012 after contracting 0.3 percent during the first quarter.

#4 The unemployment rate in Spain is now up to 24.6 percent.

#5 According to the Wall Street Journal, a new 30 billion euro hole has been discovered in the financial rescue plan for Greece.

#6 Morgan Stanley is projecting that the unemployment rate in Greece will exceed 25 percent in 2013.

#7 It is now being projected that the Greek economy will shrink by a total of 7 percent during 2012.

#8 German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble says that the rest of Europe will not be making any more concessions for Greece.

#9 The UK economy has now plunged into a deep recession.  During the second quarter of 2012 alone, the UK economy contracted by 0.7 percent.

#10 The Dallas Fed index of general business activity fell dramatically to -13.2 in July.  This was a huge surprise and it is yet another indication that the U.S. economy is rapidly heading into a recession.

#11 As I have written about previously, a banking crisis is more likely to happen in the fall than at any other time during the year.  The global financial system will enter a “danger zone” starting in September, and none of us need to be reminded that the crashes of 1929, 1987 and 2008 all happened during the second half of the year.

So is there any hope on the horizon?

European leaders have tried short-term solution after short-term solution and none of them have worked.

Now countries all over Europe are sliding into depression and the authorities in Europe seem to be all out of answers.  The following is what one eurozone diplomat said recently….

“For two years we’ve been pumping up the life raft, taking decisions that fill it with just enough air to keep it afloat even though it has a leak,” the diplomat said. “But now the leak has got so big that we can’t pump air into the raft quickly enough to keep it afloat.”

The boat is filling up with water faster than they can bail it out.

So what is the solution?

Well, some of the top names in economics on both sides of the Atlantic are urging authorities to keep the debt bubble pumped up by printing lots and lots more money.

For example, even though the U.S. government is already running trillion dollar deficits New York Times “economist” Paul Krugman is boldly proclaiming that now is the time to print and borrow even more money.  He is proud to be a Keynesian, and he says that “you should be a Keynesian, too.

Across the pond, the International Business Editor of the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, is strongly urging the ECB to print more money….

Needless to say, I will be advocating 1933 monetary stimulus à l’outrance, or trillions of asset purchases through old fashioned open-market operations through the quantity of money effect (NOT INTEREST RATE ‘CREDITISM’) to avert deflation – and continue doing so until nominal GDP is restored to its trend line, at which point the stimulus can be withdrawn again.

But is more money and more debt really the solution to anything?

In the United States, M2 recent surpassed the 10 trillion dollar mark for the first time ever.  It has increased in size by more than 5 times over the past 30 years.

Unfortunately, our debt has been growing much faster than GDP has over that time period.

For example, during the second quarter of 2012 U.S. government debt grew by 274.3 billion dollars but U.S. GDP only grew by 117.6 billion dollars.

Our problem is not that there is not enough money floating around.

Our problem is that there is way, way too much debt.

But this is how things always go with fiat currencies.

There is always the temptation to print more.

That is one of the big reasons why every single fiat currency in history has eventually collapsed.

Printing more money will not solve our problems.  It will just cause our problems to take a different form.

In the end, nothing that the authorities can do will be able to avert the crisis that is coming.

A lot of people are starting to realize this, and that is one reason why we are seeing so much economic pessimism right now.

For example, according to a new Rasmussen poll only 14 percent of all Americans believe that children in America today will be “better off” than their parents.

That is an absolutely stunning figure, but it just shows us where we are at.

Our economy has been in decline for a long time, and now we are rapidly approaching another major downturn.

You better buckle up, because this downturn is not going to be pleasant at all.

12 Signs That Spain Is Shifting Gears From Recession To Depression

Where have we seen this before?  Bond yields soar above the 7 percent danger level.  Check.  The stock market crashes to new lows.  Check.  Industrial activity plummets like a rock and the economy contracts.  Check.  The unemployment rate skyrockets to more than 20 percent.  Check.  The bursting of a massive real estate bubble pushes the banking system to the brink of implosion.  Check.  Broke local governments beg the broke national government for bailouts.  Check.  The international community pressures the national government to implement deep austerity measures which will slow down the economy even more and hordes of violent protesters take to the streets.  Check.  All of this happened in Greece, it is happening right now in Spain, and mark my words it will eventually happen in the United States.  Every debt bubble eventually bursts, and right now Spain is experiencing a level of economic pain that very, very few people saw coming.  The recession in Spain is rapidly becoming a full-blown economic depression, and at this point there is no hope and no light at the end of the tunnel.

The bad news for the global economy is that Spain is much larger than Greece.  According to the United Nations, the Greek economy is the 32nd largest economy in the world.  The Spanish economy, on the other hand, is the 4th largest economy in the eurozone and the 12th largest economy on the entire planet.  It is nearly five times the size of the Greek economy.

Financial markets all over the globe are very nervous right now because if the Spanish government ends up asking for a full-blown bailout it could spell the end for the eurozone.  There simply is not enough money to do the same kind of thing for Spain that is being done for Greece.

Of course European officials are going to do their best to keep the eurozone from collapsing, but what they have completely failed to do is to keep these countries from falling into depression.

As I have written about previously, Greece has already been in an economic depression for some time.

I warned that Spain, Italy, Portugal and a bunch of other European nations were going down the exact same path.

Now we are watching a virtual replay of what happened in Greece take place in Spain.

Unfortunately, the global financial system may not be able to handle a complete implosion of the Spanish economy.

The following are 12 signs that Spain is shifting gears from recession to depression….

#1 At one point on Monday, the IBEX stock market index fell to 5,905, which was the lowest level in nearly ten years.  When it hit 5,905 that represented a drop of about 12 percent over just two trading days.  If that happened in the United States, it would be the equivalent of the Dow falling by about 1500 points in 48 hours.

#2 So far this year, the Spanish stock market is down more than 25 percent.  Back in 2008, the IBEX 35 was well over 15,000.  Today it is sitting just above 6,000.

#3 Spain has banned many forms of short selling for 3 months.

#4 The yield on 10 year Spanish bonds is now well above the 7 percent “danger level”.

#5 Thanks to the problems in Spain, the euro continues to fall like a rock.  On Monday it hit a new two year low against the U.S. dollar, and it is near a twelve year low against the Japanese yen.

#6 During the first quarter of 2012, the Spanish economy contracted by 0.3 percent.  During the second quarter of 2012, the Spanish economy contracted by 0.4 percent.

#7 Local governments all over Spain are flat broke and need to be bailed out by the broke national government.  The following is from a recent CNBC article….

Adding to Madrid’s woes, media reports suggested another half a dozen of Spain’s 17 regional authorities, facing an undeclared funding crisis, were ready to follow Valencia in seeking aid from the central government.

#8 The percentage of bad loans on the books of Spanish banks has reached an 18 year high.  European officials have already promised a 100 billion euro bailout for Spain’s troubled banking system, but most analysts agree that 100 billion euros will not be nearly enough.

#9 Spanish industrial output declined for the ninth month in a row in May.

#10 The unemployment rate in Spain is up to an astounding 24.6 percent.  The unemployment rate in Spain is already higher than it was in the United States at the peak of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

#11 The youth unemployment rate in Spain is now over 52 percent.

#12 The Spanish government has just announced a whole bunch of new tax increases and spending cuts which will cause the Spanish economy to slow down even more.  In response to these austerity measures, people are taking to the streets all over Spain.  Last week, 100,000 demonstrators poured into the streets to protest in Madrid alone.

Sadly, the nightmare in Spain is just beginning.

If the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds stays above 7 percent, that is going to be a really bad sign.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the 7 percent level is key as far as investor confidence is concerned….

Monday’s dramatic market moves suggest Spain may be stuck in a spiral that culminates in a bailout from other euro-zone countries.

“The rise in the 10-year yield well beyond 7% carries a very distinct reminder of events in Greece in April 2010, Ireland in October 2010 and Portugal in February 2011,” said analysts at Bank of New York Mellon. “In each case, a decisive move beyond 7% signaled the start of a collapse in investor confidence that, in each case, led to a bailout within weeks,” they added.

So keep an eye on that number in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, the Spanish economy continues to get worse with each passing month.

So just how bad are things in Spain right now?

Just check out this excerpt from a recent article by Mark Grant….

Recently two noted Spanish economists were interviewed. One was always an optimist and one was always a pessimist. The optimist droned on and on about how bad things were in Spain, the dire situation with the regional debt, the huge problems overtaking the Spanish banks and the imminent collapse of the Spanish economy. In the end he said that the situation was so bad that the Spanish people were going to have to eat manure. The pessimist was shocked by the comments of his colleague who had never heard him speak in such a manner. When it was the pessimist’s turn to speak he said that he agreed with the optimist with one exception; the manure would soon run out.

That may make you laugh, but for those in Europe going through these horrific economic conditions it is no laughing matter.

On Sunday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras actually told former U.S. president Bill Clinton that Greece is already in a “Great Depression“.

Like Spain, the unemployment rate in Greece is well above 20 percent and the youth unemployment rate is above 50 percent.

The only reason the Greek financial system has not totally collapsed is because of outside assistance, but now there are indications that the assistance may soon be cut off.

At this point there are persistent rumors that the IMF does not plan to give any more aid money to Greece unless Greece “shapes up”.

Meanwhile, the suffering in Greece just gets worse and worse.

Sadly, most Americans pay very little attention to what is going on in Greece and Spain.

Most Americans just assume that we will always have “the greatest economy on earth” and that we can take prosperity for granted.

Unfortunately, the truth is that the United States already has more government debt per capita than either Greece or Spain does.

Just like Greece and Spain, we are also rapidly traveling down the road to economic oblivion, and depression-like conditions will arrive in this country soon enough.

So enjoy these last months of economic prosperity while you still can.

A whole lot of pain is on the horizon.

Forget The Election Results – Greece Is Still Doomed And So Is The Rest Of Europe

The election results from Greece are in and the pro-bailout forces have won, but just barely.  It is being projected that the pro-bailout New Democracy party will have about 130 seats in the 300 seat parliament, and Pasok (another pro-bailout party) will have about 33 seats.  Those two parties have alternated ruling Greece for decades, and it looks like they are going to form a coalition government which will keep Greece in the euro.  On Monday we are likely to see financial markets across the globe in celebration mode.  But the truth is that nothing has really changed.  Greece is still in a depression.  The Greek economy has contracted by close to 25 percent over the past four years, and now they are going to stay on the exact same path that they were before.  Austerity is going to continue to grind away at what remains of the Greek economy and money is going to continue to fly out of the country at a very rapid pace. Greece is still drowning in debt and completely dependent on outside aid to avoid bankruptcy.  Meanwhile, things in Spain and Italy are rapidly getting worse.  So where in that equation is room for optimism?

Right now the ingredients for a “perfect storm” are developing in Europe.  Government spending is being slashed all across the continent, ECB monetary policy is very tight, new regulations and deteriorating economic conditions are causing major banks to cut back on lending and there is panic in the air.

Unless something dramatic changes, things are going to continue to get worse.

Yes, the Greek election results mean that Greece will stay in the euro – at least for now.

But is that really a reason for Greeks to celebrate?

Right now, the unemployment rate in Greece is about 22 percent.  Businesses continue to shut down at a staggering rate and suicides are spiking.

So far this month, about 500 million euros a day has been pulled out of Greek banks.  The entire Greek banking system is on the verge of collapse.

Meanwhile, the Greek government is still running up more debt.  It is being projected that the Greek budget deficit will be about 7 percent of GDP this year.

The Greeks went to the polls and they voted for more of the same.

Are they crazy?

Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Unfortunately, it looks like things are going to continue to get worse in Greece for quite some time.

And the rest of Europe is heading into a very bleak economic future as well.

At the moment, unemployment in the eurozone is at a record high.

Most analysts expect it to go even higher.

To say that Spain has an unemployment problem would be a massive understatement.  The unemployment rate in Spain is even higher than the unemployment rate in Greece is.  In fact, unemployment in Spain is the highest that it has ever been since the introduction of the euro.

The Spanish banking system is a complete and total disaster at this point.  The Spanish government has already asked for a 100 billion euro bailout for its banks.

But that might not be nearly enough.

Spain is facing a housing collapse similar to what the United States went through back in 2008 and 2009.  Right now, home prices in Spain are absolutely collapsing….

Fresh data yesterday shows how desperate the crisis is becoming in Spain. The property crash is accelerating. House prices fell at a 12.6pc rate in the first quarter of this year, compared to 11.2pc the quarter before, and 7.4pc in the quarter before that. Prices have fallen 26pc from their peak.

“Fundamentals point to a further 25pc decline,” said Standard & Poor’s in a report on Thursday. It may take another four years to clear a glut of one million homes left from the building boom.

Meanwhile, money is being pulled out of banks in Spain at a very alarming rate.  As panic spreads we are seeing slow motion bank runs all over Europe.  Over the past few months massive amounts of money have been moved from troubled nations to “safe havens” such as Switzerland and Germany.

Investors are getting very nervous and yields on Italian and Spanish debt are spiking again.

Last week yields on Spanish debt hit their highest levels since the introduction of the euro.  Without massive ECB intervention the yield on 10 year Spanish bonds will almost certainly blow well past the 7 percent danger mark.

The credit rating agencies are indicating that there is danger ahead.  Moody’s recently downgraded Spanish debt to just one notch above junk status.  Spain is heading down the exact same road that Greece has gone.

The situation in Europe is very grim.

Greece is going to need bailouts for as far as the eye can see.

Spain is almost certainly going to need a huge bailout.

Italy is almost certainly going to need a huge bailout.

Ireland and Portugal look like they are going to need more money.

France is increasingly looking vulnerable, and Francois Hollande appears to have no real solutions up his sleeve.

As I have said so many times before, watch Europe.

Every few weeks there are headlines that declare that “Europe has been saved” but things just keep getting worse.

The governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, said the following a few weeks ago….

“Our biggest trading partner is tearing itself apart with no obvious solution.”

And that is the truth.  There is no obvious solution to the problems in Europe.  The politicians could kick the can down the road for a while longer, but in the end there will be no avoiding the pain that is coming.

The equation for what is happening in Europe that I have shared before still applies….

Brutal austerity + toxic levels of government debt + rising bond yields + a lack of confidence in the financial system + banks that are massively overleveraged + a massive credit crunch = A financial implosion of historic proportions

We are watching a slow-motion financial train wreck that is absolutely unprecedented happen right in front of our eyes and our politicians are powerless to stop it.

It is going to be a long, hot summer for the European financial system.

On election day in Greece, the mood was incredibly somber.  Instead of celebrating, most Greeks seemed resigned to a very hard future.  As an article in the Telegraph described, the entire nation seems to be grinding to a halt….

This is the election that is supposed to decide whether Greece stays in the euro. Yet as it, and Europe, face what could be their Katrina moment, the dominant sense here is not of panic, or fear, or even hope – but of a country in suspended animation, grinding to a halt.

The Athens Heart shopping centre, in the southern suburbs, is polished, full of big brands, and almost totally empty of customers. “We’ve had five sales all day,” says Steryiani Vlachakou, the assistant in the Champion sportswear store. “It’s been getting a lot, lot worse.”

Sadly, it is not only Greece that is doomed.

The truth is that all of Europe is doomed, and when Europe falls the entire globe is going to feel it.

So get ready for the hard times that are coming.  The pain is going to be immense and most people are not even going to see it coming.

10 Things That We Can Learn About Shortages And Preparation From The Economic Collapse In Greece

When the economy of a nation collapses, almost everything changes.  Unfortunately, most people have never been through anything like that, so it can be difficult to know how to prepare.  For those that are busy preparing for the coming global financial collapse, there is a lot to be learned from the economic depression that is happening right now in Greece.  Essentially, what Greece is experiencing is a low level economic collapse.  Unemployment is absolutely rampant and poverty is rapidly spreading, but the good news for Greece is that the global financial system is still operating somewhat normally and they are getting some financial assistance from the outside.  Things in Greece could be a whole lot worse, and they will probably get a whole lot worse before it is all said and done.  But already things have gotten bad enough in Greece that it gives us an idea of what a full-blown economic collapse in the 21st century may look like.  There are reports of food and medicine shortages in Greece, crime and suicides are on the rise and people have been rapidly pulling their money out of the banks.  Hopefully this article will give you some ideas that you can use as you prepare for the economic chaos that will soon be unfolding all over the globe.

The following are 10 things that we can learn about shortages and preparation from the economic collapse in Greece….

#1 Food Shortages Can Actually Happen

Most people assume that they will always be able to run out to their local supermarket or to Wal-Mart and get all of the supplies they need.

Unfortunately, that is a false assumption.  The truth is that our food distribution system is extremely vulnerable.

In Greece, many people are starting to totally run out of food.  Even some government institutions (such as prisons) are now reporting food shortages.  The following was originally from a Greek news source….

The financing for many prisons has decreased to a minimum for some months now, resulting in hundreds of detainees being malnourished and surviving on the charity of local communities.

The latest example is the prison in Corinth where after the supply stoppage from the nearby military camp, the prisoners are at the mercy of God because, as reported by prison staff, not even one grain of rice has been left in their warehouses. When a few days earlier the commander of the camp announced to the prison management the transportation stoppage, citing lack of food supplies even for the soldiers, he shut down the last source of supply for 84 prisoners. The response of some Corinth citizens was immediate as they took it upon themselves to support the prisoners, since all protests to the Justice ministry were fruitless.

#2 Medicine Is One Of The First Things That Becomes Scarce During An Economic Collapse

If you are dependent on medicine in order to survive, you might want to figure out how you are going to get by if your supply of medicine is totally cut off someday.

In Greece, medicine shortages have become a massive problem.  The following is from a recent Bloomberg article….

Mina Mavrou, who runs a pharmacy in a middle-class Athens suburb, spends hours each day pleading with drugmakers, wholesalers and colleagues to hunt down medicines for clients. Life-saving drugs such as Sanofi (SAN)’s blood-thinner Clexane and GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK)’s asthma inhaler Flixotide often appear as lines of crimson data on pharmacists’ computer screens, meaning the products aren’t in stock or that pharmacists can’t order as many units as they need.

“When we see red, we want to cry,” Mavrou said. “The situation is worsening day by day.”

The 12,000 pharmacies that dot almost every street corner in Greek cities are the damaged capillaries of a complex system for getting treatment to patients. The Panhellenic Association of Pharmacists reports shortages of almost half the country’s 500 most-used medicines. Even when drugs are available, pharmacists often must foot the bill up front, or patients simply do without.

#3 When An Economy Collapses, So Might The Power Grid

Try this some time – turn off all power to your home for 24 hours and try to live normally.

Sadly, most people simply do not understand just how dependent we are on the power grid.  Without power, all of our lives would change dramatically.

In Greece, authorities are warning of an impending “collapse” of the power grid.  If it goes down for an extended period of time in Greece, the consequences would be catastrophic….

Greece’s power regulator RAE told Reuters on Friday it was calling an emergency meeting next week to avert a collapse of the debt-stricken country’s electricity and natural gas system.

“RAE is taking crisis initiatives throughout next week to avert the collapse of the natural gas and electricity system,” the regulator’s chief Nikos Vasilakos told Reuters.

RAE took the decision after receiving a letter from Greece’s natural gas company DEPA, which threatened to cut supplies to electricity producers if they failed to settle their arrears with the company.

#4 During An Economic Collapse You Cannot Even Take Water For Granted

If the power grid goes down, you will soon no longer have clean water coming out of your faucets.  That is one of the reasons why it is absolutely imperative that the power grid stay operable in Greece.

Sadly, most people don’t understand just how vulnerable our water system is.  In a previous article, I quoted from a report that discussed how rapidly our water supply would be in jeopardy in the event of a major transportation disruption….

According to the American Water Works Association, Americans drink more than one billion glasses of tap water per day. For safety and security reasons, most water supply plants maintain a larger inventory of supplies than the typical business. However, the amount of chemical storage varies significantly and is site specific. According to the Chlorine Institute, most water treatment facilities receive chlorine in cylinders (150 pounds and one ton cylinders) that are delivered by motor carriers. On average, trucks deliver purification chemicals to water supply plants every seven to 14 days. Without these chemicals, water cannot be purified and made safe for drinking. Without truck deliveries of purification chemicals, water supply plants will run out of drinkable water in 14 to 28 days. Once the water supply is drained, water will be deemed safe for drinking only when boiled. Lack of clean drinking water will lead to increased gastrointestinal and other illnesses, further taxing an already weakened healthcare system.

What will you do when clean water stops coming out of your faucets?

You might want to start thinking about that.

#5 During An Economic Crisis Your Credit Cards And Debit Cards May Stop Working

Most people have become very accustomed to using either debit cards or credit cards for almost everything.

But what would happen if the financial system locked up for a period of time and you were not able to use them?

This is something that the citizens of Greece are potentially facing in the coming months, and this is something that all of us need to start thinking about.

#6 Crime, Rioting And Looting Become Commonplace During An Economic Collapse

Big corporations are already making extensive plans for how to protect their stores in the event that Greece switches from the euro to the drachma.

The following is from a recent Reuters article….

British electrical retailer Dixons has spent the last few weeks stockpiling security shutters to protect its nearly 100 stores across Greece in case of riot.

The planning, says Dixons chief Sebastian James, may look alarmist but it’s good to be prepared.

Company bosses around Europe agree. As the financial crisis in Greece worsens, companies are getting ready for everything from social unrest to a complete meltdown of the financial system.

#7 During A Financial Meltdown Many Average Citizens Will Start Bartering

During this economic depression, alternative currencies have already been popping up in Greece.

When things fall apart on a global scale, will you have things to barter for the things that you need?

#8 Suicides Spike During An Economic Collapse

When you think of the Great Depression of the 1930s, what do you think of?

Many people think of images of people jumping out of buildings.

Well, something similar has been happening in Greece.  Suicide statistics in Greece have been absolutely soaring during the last couple of years.

Once prosperity disappears, many people feel as though life is not worth living anymore.

#9 Your Currency May Rapidly Lose Value During An Economic Crisis

Just remember what happened in Germany during the Weimar Republic and what has happened recently in places like Zimbabwe.

The truth is that it can happen anywhere.

Right now, Greeks are pulling their money out of the banks because they are worried that their euros will be turned into drachmas which would rapidly lose value.

If I was living in Greece I would definitely be concerned about that.  The return of the drachma seems to get closer with each passing day.  Just check out these screenshots.

#10 When Things Hit The Fan The Government Will Not Save You

Has the government of Greece come to the rescue of all of those that are deeply suffering right now?

Of course not.  The truth is that the Greek government can barely take care of itself at the moment.

History has shown us that governments simply cannot be counted on when things hit the fan.

Just remember what happened during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

In the end, the only one that can be counted on to take care of you and your family is you.

So you better start preparing.

Unfortunately, as I wrote about the other day, time is rapidly running out for the global financial system.

Even some of the top economic officials in the world are warning that another major crisis could be on the way.

Just check out what World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the other day….

“Events in Greece could trigger financial fright in Spain, Italy and across the eurozone. The summer of 2012 offers an eerie echo of 2008.”

He also compared a potential exit of Greece from the eurozone to the collapse of Lehman Brothers back during the last financial crisis….

“If Greece leaves the eurozone, the contagion is impossible to predict, just as Lehman had unexpected consequences.”

So what are some things that the average person can do to get prepared?

Well, a recent article on SHTFplan.com entitled “The List: A to Z Survival for the Abysmal Times Ahead” contains hundreds of ideas for preparing for the chaotic economic environment that we are heading into.

Preparation is going to look different for every family.  No two situations are exactly the same.

But there are some practical steps that nearly all of us can take to better position ourselves for what is coming.  Now is the time to get educated and now is the time to take action.

Or you could be like all of those that laughed at Noah while he was building that big boat.

In the end, things did not work out too well for those folks.


Obama’s Five Trillion Dollar Lie

Why isn’t the U.S. economy in a depression right now?  The number one reason is because the federal government has stolen more than five trillion dollars from future generations since Barack Obama was elected and has used that money to pump up our grossly inflated standard of living.  Whether the federal government spends money wisely or foolishly, the truth is that the vast majority of it still ends up in the pockets of the American people who then use it to buy the things they need for their daily lives.  If the U.S. government had not borrowed and spent an extra five trillion dollars that we did not have over the past several years, we would be in the middle of a rip-roaring economic depression right now.  So any talk that Barack Obama is “improving the economy” is a total farce.  It is a five trillion dollar lie.  The reality is that Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress have been stealing trillions of dollars from future generations in order to make things tolerable in the present.  If the federal government adopted a balanced budget next year, the debt-fueled prosperity that we are currently enjoying would start disappearing very rapidly and all hell would break loose in America.

At this point, the U.S. national debt is over 15.7 trillion dollars.

When Ronald Reagan took office it was less than a trillion dollars.

If you were to divide the national debt up equally, it would come to more than $50,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

So the share of the national debt for an average family of four would be about $200,000.

When the government borrows and spends money that it does not have, that increases the amount of dollars in circulation and it causes GDP to go up.

That is one of the reasons why our politicians like to borrow and spend money that we do not have.  It makes the economic statistics look good.  They can point to those economic statistics as a reason to send them back for another term.

This is a major flaw in our system.  Most of our politicians do not care about how they are raping future generations financially.  Most of them just care about getting elected again.

If you will notice carefully, neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama are promising to balance the budget any time soon.  Like so many politicians in the past, they promise to do it “eventually”, but “eventually” never arrives.

According to a recent article in the Washington Times, Mitt Romney declared during a recent campaign appearance that he has no plans to balance the federal budget in his first year….

“My job is to get America back on track to have a balanced budget. Now I’m not going to cut $1 trillion in the first year”

Why would he say that?

Why wouldn’t he want to balance the budget?

He went on to explain that….

“The reason,” he explained, “is taking a trillion dollars out of a $15 trillion economy would cause our economy to shrink [and] would put a lot of people out of work.”

Romney is right about this.  Taking a trillion dollars out of a 15 trillion dollar economy would plunge us into an economic nightmare.

And that would make him look bad.

Of course if Obama wins the election we can just expect more of the same from him as well.

For example, just check out what White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew had to say about balancing the budget recently….

“The time for austerity is not today,” Lew told NBC News “Meet the Press.” “If we were to put in austerity measures right now, it would take the economy in the wrong way.”

Why is the time for austerity not today?

It is because the 2012 election is coming up and Obama wants the economic statistics to look good.

But can you blame our politicians for being cowardly?

Just look at what is happening in Greece.  After several years of austerity they are in the midst of a full-blown economic depression and they still have not balanced their budget.

Do we want to end up like Greece?

Most Americans do not realize this, but the U.S. already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain.

So why haven’t we collapsed yet?

Well, because we continue to borrow larger and larger amounts of money.

It took from the founding of America until 1995 for the federal government to accumulate 5 trillion dollars of debt.

Under Obama, we have accumulated more than 5 trillion dollars of new debt in just over 3 years.

Amazingly, Obama has added more to the national debt than George W. Bush did during his entire 8 year term.

And let there be no mistake – George W. Bush was a wild spender.  A fiscal conservative he most certainly was not.

But Barack Obama does not seem troubled by any of this.

Barack Obama is prancing about the countryside touting his great “economic plan”, but the truth is that the only reason the economy has not totally collapsed is because he is stealing 150 million dollars an hour from our children and our grandchildren.

Sadly, most Americans don’t understand that the current level of prosperity that we are enjoying is a grand illusion.  Most Americans still expect things to return to the way that they used to be, and they are increasingly becoming angry that it is taking so long to get back there.

In fact, a whole host of recent surveys have shown that Americans are very dissatisfied with the direction the economy is heading in….

Four recent surveys have found that on average only 28% of Americans are satisfied with the condition of the country, while 70% are dissatisfied. Three recent surveys have found that between 69% and 83% of Americans believe that the country is still in recession (it isn’t), and only half believe that a recovery is under way.

What they don’t realize is that if we were not massively ripping off our kids and our grandkids things would be much, much worse.

Thomas Jefferson understood that government borrowing is essentially the same as theft from future generations.

He once made the following statement….

And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

What we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is so immoral that it is hard to put into words.

We are running up trillions upon trillions of dollars of debt in their name just so that our lives can be more comfortable right now.

How could we be so selfish?

The sad thing is that even with all of this reckless spending our economy is still not in great shape.

In fact, the middle class continues to shrink at an alarming rate.  The following are just a few statistics from a recent article I did about this phenomenon….

-Today, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are currently either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.

-Back in 1960, social welfare benefits made up approximately 10 percent of all salaries and wages.  In the year 2000, social welfare benefits made up approximately 21 percent of all salaries and wages.  Today, social welfare benefits make up approximately 35 percent of all salaries and wages.

-The United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

-Every year now, we see millions of Americans fall out of the middle class.  In 2010, 2.6 million more Americans descended into poverty.  That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.

-At this point, approximately 22 percent of all American children are living in poverty.

-When Barack Obama took office, there were 32 million Americans on food stamps.  Now, there are more than 46 million Americans on food stamps.

So how much worse would things be if a trillion dollars of federal spending was suddenly removed from the economy?

Are you starting to get the picture?

As bad as things are right now, they are about to get a whole lot worse.

So why can’t we just keep on borrowing and spending forever?

Well, just like Greece found out, debt always catches up with you eventually.

During fiscal 2011, the U.S. government spent over 454 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt.

But just like we are seeing in Europe, if confidence in U.S. government debt starts to disappear the U.S. government could end up facing much higher interest rates to borrow money.

If the average rate on U.S. government debt only rose to 7 percent (in the past it has actually been much higher than that), then the U.S. government would be spending about 1.1 trillion dollars a year just on interest on the national debt.

During fiscal year 2011, the U.S. government spent 3.7 trillion dollars but it only brought in about 2.4 trillion dollars.

So if we were spending 1.1 trillion dollars just on interest, that would be close to half of all the revenue the federal government brings in.

Right now, the Federal Reserve is manipulating the system in a desperate attempt to keep interest rates down.  During 2011, the Federal Reserve bought up approximately 61 percent of all government debt issued by the U.S. Treasury Department.

But most Americans have no idea how fragile our financial system is.

Most Americans just assume that we will always be the greatest economy on the planet and that there is nothing to be worried about.

Sadly, one way or another this debt bubble is going to burst and then our debt-fueled false prosperity is going to disappear.

Most Americans are not going to understand what is happening and they are going to go absolutely nuts.

27 Statistics About The European Economic Crisis That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

The economic crisis in Europe continues to get worse and eventually it is going to unravel into a complete economic nightmare.  All over Europe, national governments have piled up debts that are completely unsustainable.  But whenever they start significantly cutting government spending it results in an economic slowdown.  So politicians in Europe are really caught between a rock and a hard place.  They can’t keep racking up these unsustainable debts, but if they continue to cut government spending it is going to push their economies into deep recession and their populations will riot.  Greece is a perfect example of this.  Greece has been going down the austerity road for several years now and they are experiencing a full-blown economic depression, riots have become a way of life in that country and their national budget is still not anywhere close to balanced.  Americans should pay close attention to what is going on in Europe, because this is what it looks like when a debt party ends.  Most of the nations in the eurozone have just started implementing austerity, and yet unemployment in the eurozone is already the highest it has been since the euro was introduced.  It has risen for 10 months in a row and is now up to 10.8 percent.  Sadly, it is going to go even higher.  As economies across Europe slide into recession, that is going to put even more pressure on the European financial system.  Most Americans do not realize this, but the European banking system is absolutely enormous.  It is nearly four times the size that the U.S. banking system is.  When the European banking system crashes (and it will) it is going to reverberate around the globe.  The epicenter of the next great financial crisis is going to be in Europe, and it is getting closer with each passing day.

The following are 27 statistics about the European economic crisis that are almost too crazy to believe….

Greece

#1 The Greek economy shrank by 6 percent during 2011, and it has been shrinking for five years in a row.

#2 The average unemployment rate in Greece in 2010 was 12.5 percent.  During 2011, the average unemployment rate was 17.3 percent, and now the unemployment rate in Greece is up to 21.8 percent.

#3 The youth unemployment rate in Greece is now over 50 percent.

#4 The unemployment rate in the port town is Perama is about 60 percent.

#5 In Greece, 20 percent of all retail stores have closed down during the economic crisis.

#6 Greece now has a debt to GDP ratio of approximately 160 percent.

#7 Some of the austerity measures that have been implemented in Greece have been absolutely brutal.  For example, Greek civil servants have had their incomes slashed by about 40 percent since 2010.

#8 Despite all of the austerity measures, it is being projected that Greece will still have a budget deficit equivalent to 7 percent of GDP in 2012.

#9 Greece is still facing unfunded liabilities in future years that are equivalent to approximately 800 percent of GDP.

#10 In the midst of all the poverty in Greece, several serious diseases are making a major comeback.  The following comes from a recent article in the Guardian….

The incidence of HIV/Aids among intravenous drug users in central Athens soared by 1,250% in the first 10 months of 2011 compared with the same period the previous year, according to the head of Médecins sans Frontières Greece, while malaria is becoming endemic in the south for the first time since the rule of the colonels, which ended in the 1970s.

Spain

#11 The unemployment rate in Spain is now up to 23.6 percent.

#12 The youth unemployment rate in Spain is now over 50 percent.

#13 The total value of all toxic loans in Spain is equivalent to approximately 13 percent of Spanish GDP.

#14 The GDP of Spain is about 1.4 trillion dollars.  The three largest Spanish banks have approximately 2.7 trillion dollars in assets and they are all on the verge of failing.

#15 Home prices in Spain fell by 11.2 percent during 2011.

#16 The number of property repossessions in Spain rose by 32 percent during 2011.

#17 The ratio of government debt to GDP in Spain will rise by more than 11 percent during 2012.

#18 On top of everything else, Spain is dealing with the worst drought it has seen in 70 years.

Portugal

#19 The unemployment rate in Portugal is up to 15 percent.

#20 The youth unemployment rate in Portugal is now over 35 percent.

#21 Banks in Portugal borrowed a record 56.3 billion euros from the European Central Bank in March.

#22 It is being projected that the Portuguese economy will shrink by 5.7 percent during 2012.

#23 When you add up all forms of debt in Portugal (government, business and consumer) the total is equivalent to approximately 360 percent of GDP.

Italy

#24 Youth unemployment in Italy is up to 31.9 percent – the highest level ever.

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

#26 If you add the maturing debt that the Italian government must roll over in 2012 to the projected budget deficit, it comes to approximately 23.1 percent of Italy’s GDP.

#27 Italy now has a debt to GDP ratio of approximately 120 percent.

So why hasn’t Europe crashed already?

Well, the powers that be are pulling out all their tricks.

For example, the European Central Bank decided to start loaning gigantic mountains of money to European banks.  That accomplished two things….

1) It kept those European banks from collapsing.

2) European banks used that money to buy up sovereign bonds and that kept interest rates down.

Unfortunately, all of this game playing has also put the European Central Bank in a very vulnerable position.

The balance sheet of the European Central Bank has expanded by more than 1 trillion dollars over the past nine months.  The balance sheet of the European Central Bank is now larger than the entire GDP of Germany and the ECB is now leveraged 36 to 1.

So just how far can you stretch the rubberband before it snaps?

Perhaps we are about to find out.

The European financial system is leveraged like crazy right now.  Even banking systems in countries that you think of as “stable” are leveraged to extremes.

For example, major German banks are leveraged 32 to 1, and those banks are holding a massive amount of European sovereign debt.

When Lehman Brothers finally collapsed, it was only leveraged 30 to 1.

You can’t solve a debt crisis with more debt.  But the European Central Bank has been able to use more debt to kick the can down the road a few more months.

At some point the sovereign debt bubble is going to burst.

All financial bubbles eventually burst.

What goes up must come down.

Right now, the major industrialized nations of the world are approximately 55 trillion dollars in debt.

It has been a fun ride, but this fraudulent pyramid of risk, debt and leverage is going to come crashing down at some point.

It is only a matter of time.

Already, there are a whole bunch of signs that some very serious economic trouble is on the horizon.

Hopefully we still have a few more months until it hits.

But in this day and age nothing is guaranteed.

What does seem abundantly clear is that the current global financial system is inevitably going to fail.

When it does, what “solutions” will our leaders try to impose upon us?

That is something to think about.

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