A ‘High-Level Exercise’ Conducted 3 Months Ago Showed That A Coronavirus Pandemic Could Kill 65 Million People

Just over three months ago, a “high-level pandemic exercise” entitled “Event 201” was held in New York City.  On October 18th the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in conjunction with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, brought together “15 leaders of business, government, and public health” to simulate a scenario in which a coronavirus pandemic was ravaging the planet.  The current coronavirus outbreak that originated in China did not begin until December, and so at that time it was supposedly just a hypothetical exercise.  The following comes from the official page for this event

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted Event 201, a high-level pandemic exercise on October 18, 2019, in New York, NY. The exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences.

I find it quite interesting that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was involved, because they are also financial backers of the institute that was granted a U.S. patent for “an attenuated coronavirus” in November 2018.

It appears that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been quite interested in the threat posed by coronaviruses for quite some time.

Eric Toner, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, spearheaded putting “Event 201” together.  In his scenario, a coronavirus outbreak had begun on Brazil’s pig farms

Toner’s simulation imagined a fictional virus called CAPS. The analysis, part of a collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, looked at what would happen if a pandemic originated in Brazil’s pig farms.

Even though the outbreak was quite limited at first, Toner’s scenario ultimately showed that a coronavirus pandemic could kill 65 million people

The pretend outbreak started small: Farmers began coming down with symptoms that resembled the flu or pneumonia. From there, the virus spread to crowded and impoverished urban neighborhoods in South America.

Flights were canceled, and travel bookings dipped by 45%. People disseminated false information on social media.

After six months, the virus had spread around the globe. A year later, it had killed 65 million people.

Let us certainly hope that this current outbreak does not evolve into that sort of a nightmare.

According to Reuters, there are now more than 800 confirmed cases, and the death toll has shot up to 25…

China confirmed 830 cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus as of Jan. 23, while the death toll from the virus has risen to 25, the National Health Commission said on Friday.

But many are skeptical that the official figures are accurate.  Because the images coming out of Wuhan are extremely alarming

Disturbing images of Wuhan residents dropping unresponsive to the floor have emerged on Instagram following the diseased Chinese city’s coronavirus lockdown.

Wuhan has been branded a “zombieland” by frantic locals after Chinese authorities told residents they are not allowed to leave yesterday morning.

Pictures from inside the city paint an apocalyptic picture as medics patrol in hazmat suits and gas masks.

Over the past 48 hours, numerous videos have been posted on social media that supposedly show violently sick people that have literally collapsed in the streets of Wuhan.  Here is just one example.

And in another video, hundreds of mask-wearing Chinese citizens are crammed into the hallways of a hospital in Wuhan as they wait to see a doctor.

This is something that I wrote about yesterday, and even though I documented my claims, I don’t think that a lot of people believed me.

In fact, when I told my wife what was happening at the hospitals even she didn’t believe me at first.

But this is actually happening, and one video from a Wuhan hospital even shows a patient that collapsed on the ground as he waited to see a doctor…

If people are literally dropping where they stand, that would seem to indicate that we aren’t being told the full truth about this virus.

Chinese authorities are trying to keep everyone calm, but they are definitely treating this like it is no ordinary outbreak.  For example, one airline passenger that was suspected of having the virus was actually “wheeled out of an airport in a quarantine box”

Footage has emerged showing an airline passenger with suspected SARS-like coronavirus being wheeled out of an airport in a quarantine box.

The man inside the box is wearing a protective suit, a mask and gloves after he reportedly showed possible symptoms, including a fever, during screening and was isolated from other travellers.

The box is surrounded by staff wearing blue masks as it is wheeled to a waiting ambulance outside a terminal at the airport in Fuzhou in south-eastern China.

The whole world was stunned when it was announced that the entire city of Wuhan would be facing a quarantine, but now seven other Chinese cities are also being locked down.

In addition, big cities all over China are canceling festivities for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday…

Major Chinese cities, including Beijing and quarantine-blocked Wuhan, banned all large gatherings over the coming Lunar New Year festival, the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar, in an expanding effort to contain a rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement Thursday came as authorities expanded travel restrictions imposed on Wuhan to surrounding municipalities, shutting down travel networks and attempting to quarantine about 25 million people – more than the population of Florida.

We have never seen anything like this before in the entire modern history of China.

Would Chinese officials really take such dramatic measures if the threat was not real?

Of course here in the United States the CDC is assuring us that we don’t have anything to be concerned about

“We don’t want the American public to be worried about this because their risk is low,” says Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “On the other hand, we are taking this very seriously and are dealing very closely with Chinese authorities.”

Hopefully they are correct, and hopefully this outbreak will blow over sooner rather than later.

But a virologist that played a key role in identifying SARS in 2003 insists that what we have seen so far is just the beginning

“A bigger outbreak is certain,” said Guan Yi, a virologist who helped identify severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. He estimated – “conservatively,” he said – that this outbreak could be 10 times bigger than the SARS epidemic because that virus was transmitted by only a few “super spreaders” in a more defined part of the country.

“We have passed through the ‘golden period’ for prevention and control,” he told Caixin magazine from self-imposed quarantine after visiting Wuhan. “What’s more, we’ve got the holiday traffic rush and a dereliction of duty from certain officials.”

And if that wasn’t enough to send a chill down your spine, just check out what else he had to say

“I’ve seen it all: bird flu, SARS, influenza A, swine fever and the rest. But the Wuhan pneumonia makes me feel extremely powerless,” he told Caixin. “Most of the past epidemics were controllable, but this time, I’m petrified.”

The next week or two will be an absolutely critical time.

If authorities are able to stop the number of cases from rising at an exponential rate, and if there are able to keep it mostly confined to just a few areas of China, we may have a chance to prevent a global pandemic.

But if not, we may be facing a worst case scenario.

And according to “Event 201”, a worst case scenario could potentially mean tens of millions of dead people.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

A State Of Panic Hits The Globe As Cases Of China’s New Mystery Virus Rise Exponentially

This is already becoming the worst public health scare that we have seen in many years, and experts are warning that we are still in the very early chapters of this crisis.  Officials are fairly certain that the spread of this mysterious new coronavirus began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and as you will see below, measures are now being implemented to try to isolate that city from the rest of China.  But it is already too late, because cases have already been reported in other major Chinese cities, and the virus has also already traveled to a whole bunch of foreign countries via airplane.  Cases have been reported in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Australia and now there has even been one case in the United States.  It is being estimated that this virus has an incubation period of about a week, and so the truth is that countless others could be spreading it around right now without even realizing it.

There is so much that we still don’t know about this disease, but what we do know is that there were 48 confirmed cases on January 17th and now there are 440

Chinese officials have just held a press conference that was anything but the usual CDC “everything’s ok” statement. The particularly ominous warning that the virus is mutating and spreading is perhaps due to the poor handling of the SARS breakout in 2002/3 which was marked by cover-ups and official reluctance to share information.

Li Bin, vice head of China’s National Health Commission, confirmed there are 440 confirmed coronavirus cases in this new outbreak and there have been 9 deaths. Some 1,394 patients are under medical observation.

What this means is that the number of confirmed cases has gotten nine times higher in just four days.

Needless to say, this is creating a tremendous amount of panic.  In China, a lot of people are completely shying away from public places at this point…

“I don’t really dare to go to the airport right now, or even to the movie theater,” said Xie Jing, 33, who works in advertising in Shanghai, where there have been two confirmed cases of coronavirus. She canceled her planned trip home to Sichuan, where two cases are suspected.

“Everyone is being very careful at the moment in Shanghai. Everyone is wearing masks on the streets,” Xie said.

Sadly, the demand for masks is far greater than the supply, and some sellers have decided to make a quick profit by selling them “for more than 10 times their original price”

Several unscrupulous sellers who bought up masks en bulk are now managing to sell them for more than 10 times their original price. Some retailers were selling the masks for as much as 40 yuan ($7), a more than 10-fold mark-up. Users of Weibo, a Chinese social network similar to Twitter, warned anybody planning to travel to instead consider staying home, and repeatedly washing their hands.

According to certain sites that track prices of Chinese goods, the masks typically sell for 53 cents.

We haven’t seen this sort of panic since the days of the bird flu scare, and Chinese citizens are demanding action.

Unfortunately, there isn’t that much that can be done at this point.  Chinese officials are taking some steps to try to isolate Wuhan from the rest of the country, but many are skeptical that these measures will really make that much of a difference…

Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus was first detected, announced a series of new measures Tuesday, including the cancellation of upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations, which had been expected to attract hundreds of thousands of people.

Tour agencies have been banned from taking groups out of Wuhan and the number of thermal monitors and screening areas in public spaces will be increased. Traffic police will also conduct spot checks on private vehicles coming in and out of the city to look for live poultry or wild animals, after the virus was linked to a seafood and live animal market, according to a report by state media outlet the People’s Daily, citing Wuhan’s Municipal Health Commission.

There are about 11 million people living in and around Wuhan.  Cancelling a few events and performing sporadic “spot checks” is not going to keep this virus from spreading.

And of course the fact that this virus has already spread to a bunch of other countries is really alarming officials all over the globe.  North Korea has already “closed its borders to foreign tourists”, and other nations may soon follow suit.

In addition, airports all over the world are stepping up their screening efforts

Authorities in several countries, including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan have stepped up screening of air passengers from Wuhan. US authorities last week announced similar measures at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. They have now announced plans to introduce similar measures at airports in Chicago and Atlanta this week.

Unfortunately, this virus has already arrived in the United States via airplane.  A resident of Washington state brought it back from China on January 15th, and he didn’t contact a health professional until January 19th

U.S. officials said the man, a resident of Snohomish County, Wash., returned Jan. 15 from a trip to the region around Wuhan. Shortly after arriving at Seattle’s international airport, he began feeling ill and reached out to his health-care provider on Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Monday the man had the coronavirus – which has sickened more than 400 people in China and others in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

During the intervening days, how many others caught this virus from that particular individual?

And are they now spreading it to those that they are interacting with?

According to the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, “we should expect to see additional cases in the U.S. and certainly around the world” in the days ahead.

In other words, you better buckle up because this crisis is going to get worse.

2020 was already promising to be a major turning point, and now we potentially have a very serious worldwide health crisis to contend with.

Global events are really starting to accelerate, and I have a feeling that a whole lot more drama is on the way.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

The Mysterious New “SARS-Like Virus” That Is Killing People In China Has Now Spread To Japan

On top of everything else that has happened so far in 2020, a very mysterious “SARS-like virus” that doctors have never seen before is causing grave concern among global health officials.  It has been identified as “a coronavirus”, but that category covers a very broad range of illnesses.  If you have a common cold right now, it was caused by a coronavirus.  But SARS and MERS also came from the same virus family, and those two outbreaks made headlines all over the world.  In 2002 and 2003, SARS infected more than 8,000 people worldwide, and more than 700 of them ended up dying.  Global health officials are hoping that what we are now facing won’t be any worse than that, but at this point they just don’t know enough about this mysterious new virus to make any firm projections.

What we do know is that this outbreak just started, and China has just announced that this virus has claimed a second life.  The following comes from the BBC

A second person has died in China from a new, pneumonia-like virus, local officials have announced.

They say the death was recorded in the eastern city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began in December.

And we also know that there have been at least two cases where people have transported the virus outside of China via airplane.

The first case happened earlier this week when a woman flew from China to Thailand

The new virus, known for now as 2019-nCoV, was first identified on Jan. 7, about a week after officials first reported a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, WHO said.

Recently, officials reported the first “exported” case of the virus in Thailand. In that case, a resident of Wuhan got on a direct flight to Thailand along with several members of her family and a tour group, according to WHO. When the 61-year-old woman arrived at the airport, she was found to have a fever, and she was taken to the hospital where she tested positive for 2019-nCoV.

Subsequently, on Thursday we learned that a man that flew from China to Japan had also contracted the virus.  The following comes from Time Magazine

Japan’s government said Thursday a man treated for pneumonia after returning from China has tested positive for the new coronavirus identified as a possible cause of an outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The man developed a fever and coughs on Jan. 3 while in Wuhan, returned to Japan on Jan. 6, and was hospitalized four days later due to persistent coughs and fever, with his X-ray image showing signs of pneumonia, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said.

At first, global health officials were greatly downplaying the possibility of human-to-human transmission.

But now even the World Health Organization has been forced to admit that “limited human-to-human transmission” may be happening…

There may have been limited human-to-human transmission of a new coronavirus in China within families, and it is possible there could be a wider outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

In other words, the evidence has forced them to change their tune, but they are still trying to not alarm the general public too much.

Unfortunately, the truth is that this outbreak is still very new, they have never seen this virus before, and they are still trying to figure out exactly how dangerous it is.

Hopefully this is not going to develop into a major pandemic.  Without a doubt, it is certainly possible that this whole thing could fizzle out even faster than the bird flu scare did.

But let us not forget that a horrific pandemic about 100 years ago killed between 50 million and 100 million people.  The following comes from Wikipedia

The 1918 influenza pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920; colloquially known as Spanish flu) was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus.[1] It infected 500 million people around the world,[2] including people on remote Pacific islands and in the Arctic. Probably 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million (three to five percent of Earth’s population at the time) died, making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.[3][4][5]

Bill Gates has identified pandemics as one of the three greatest threats that humanity is facing, and he says that we are woefully unprepared if one were to break out today.

In fact, he says that we should be preparing for one right now as if we were preparing for war

“In the case of biological threats, that sense of urgency is lacking,” Gates said in a 2018 presentation hosted by the New England Journal of Medicine. “The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war.”

Sadly, authorities will probably never make preparation a true priority until a major pandemic has already begun.

The symptoms of this new mystery virus include congestion, headache, cough and fever.

Of course those exact same symptoms are associated with the common cold.

If you have shortness of breath, chills or body aches in addition to the other symptoms, that could be an indication that you should get checked out.

But there have been no reports of this virus reaching the United States yet, and hopefully we won’t see that happen at all.

For the Chinese, this outbreak comes at a particularly bad time, because their Lunar New Year celebration is on January 25th.  Hundreds of millions of people will be traveling around China, and that could potentially accelerate the spread of the virus.

It may have been prudent for Chinese officials to completely cancel all of the festivities, but at this point there are absolutely no plans to do that.

So we will watch and see what happens.  If this particular virus doesn’t become a pandemic, scientists assure us that it is only a matter of time before some other virus does.  And considering the hour in which we live, we are certainly very vulnerable to a potential pandemic right now.

Once again, I want to stress that there is no need for people in the U.S. to start freaking out about this virus just yet.  Only two people have died, and there have been no reported cases in the U.S. so far.

But as we have seen in the past, global air travel can spread a virus around the world very quickly, and authorities are still trying to figure out how dangerous this new mystery disease really is.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Global Authorities Brace For A Worldwide Protein Shortage As “One-Quarter Of Earth’s Pigs Have Been Wiped Out”

African Swine Fever is killing millions upon millions of pigs all over the world, and this threatens to create a crippling global shortage of protein as we head into 2020.  This epidemic began in China last year, and it is now also running wild in North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines.  But this crisis is certainly not limited to Asia.  According to the Washington Post, so far in 2019 there have also been outbreaks “in Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.”  Overall, cases of African Swine Fever have been documented “in nearly 50 nations”, and U.S. pork producers are extremely concerned that it could start spreading here too.

African Swine Fever is extremely contagious, there is no vaccine, and there is no cure.  Once it starts spreading in a certain area, there isn’t much that can be done “other than culling herds and loading carcasses into hazardous waste sites”.  Literally, we are talking about an unstoppable global plague that is an existential threat to our food supply.  Of course many of us don’t eat pork, but there will also be an immense strain on supplies of beef and chicken as those that eat pork are forced to turn to other alternatives.  This is an exceedingly serious situation, and with each month it is just getting worse.

China is the epicenter for this crisis, and CNN is reporting that the Chinese herd has “shrunk by around 130 million” since this epidemic first began last year…

The damage that African swine fever has wrecked on China’s pig population is hard to overstate. The country is home to half of all the pigs on the planet, and its herd has shrunk by around 130 million since the outbreak began about 13 months ago, according to a CNN Business analysis of data from the Chinese agricultural ministry. Many farmers are reluctant to restock pigs after they are slaughtered, fearing they’ll catch the disease.

To put that in perspective, there are only about 70 million pigs in the United States.

Yes, that number is for the entire country.

So the damage that has already been done in China is beyond cataclysmic, and this crisis is very far from over.

And according to the Washington Post, the losses in China are even higher than what CNN is reporting.  If you can believe it, the Post says that “as many as half of China’s pigs” have already died…

As many as half of China’s pigs, an estimated 300 million, have died of the virus or been exterminated since the disease took hold 13 months ago.

Of course the virus continues to sweep through China like wildfire, and at this point Rabobank is projecting that up to 70 percent of China’s pigs could eventually end up dead.

And considering the fact that about half of all the pigs in the entire world are in China, that is a very sobering thing to hear.

Needless to say, this crisis has been dramatically driving up the price of pork.  According to CNN, the price of pork in China is now nearly 70 percent higher than it was at this time last year…

African swine fever has ravaged China’s pig population, and the country’s consumers are feeling the pain. Some are even switching to other meats as the dietary staple becomes unaffordable.

Pork in China now costs nearly 70% more than it did a year ago, according to data released Tuesday by China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

For the average Chinese citizen, this is a really big deal, because pork accounts for about 70 percent of their total meat consumption.

So to keep their population fed, China has started to import massive quantities of pork and beef from the rest of the world…

China has also been buying more pig meat from the rest of the world to keep its consumers happy. The country imported more than 1.3 million tons of pork in the first nine months of 2019, a 44% spike compared to a year ago, according to customs data published Monday. Imports of beef were up more than 50%, as people substitute that meat for pork in their diets.

As this virus continues to rapidly spread all over the planet, the supply crunch is only going to get worse.

Global prices are going to continue to escalate, and those on the bottom of the global economic food chain are going to have an increasingly difficult time being able to afford to buy any pork, beef or chicken at all.

And nobody should expect things to turn around in a year or two.  In fact, one expert is projecting that “it will be another 4 to 6 years before China will be able to rebuild its herd”…

“We’re past a year now and it’s still spreading and getting worse,” he says. “We believe it will be another 4 to 6 years before China will be able to rebuild its herd, but that’s making assumptions about when and if they will be able to get an effective vaccine.”

Of course that projection assumes that there will be a vaccine, but right now there is no vaccine and we don’t know if there will ever be one.

Meanwhile, this virus just continues to sweep across the globe like wildfire.  In fact, we just learned that it has gotten into “two more provinces in the Philippines”

The highly contagious and deadly African swine fever virus has spread to two more provinces in the Philippines, the world’s 10th-largest pork consumer, officials said on Friday.

Cases of infections were detected in some areas in Cavite, south of the nation’s capital Manila, and in Nueva Ecija on Luzon island.

This is a global plague unlike anything we have ever seen before.

According to the New York Daily News, “more than one-quarter of Earth’s pigs have been wiped out by the virulent disease.”

I put that last sentence in bold to make sure that you caught that.

More than a fourth of our pigs are already gone, and this virus is still raging out of control.

I will continue to keep my readers updated on this crisis.  What we are facing is literally a global nightmare, and we are still in the early chapters.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep.  My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe.  I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters.  (#CommissionsEarned)  By purchasing those books you help to support my work.  I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I can only allow this to happen if this “About the Author” section is included with each article.  In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished.  This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate.  The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions.  Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished.  I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

8 Economic Threats That We Were Not Even Talking About At The Beginning Of The Summer

In the crazy times in which we live, it helps to expect the unexpected.  Sometimes you can think that you have it all figured out and then this world can throw a real curveball at you. Very few people anticipated that we would see a massive outbreak of the West Nile Virus in Texas this year or that the Mississippi River would be in danger of drying up after experiencing historic flooding last year.  Who would have thought that we would see the worst drought in more than 50 years or that horrific wildfires would burn nearly 7 million acres of land?  This is why economic conditions are always so hard to predict.  A single “black swan event” can come along and change everything almost overnight.  Our world has become incredibly unstable, and so who really knows what the rest of 2012 will bring?  Will we see a stock market crash?  Will the hurricane season be unusually bad?  Will war erupt in the Middle East?  Will we see a major earthquake on the west coast or even a volcanic eruption?  Will the upcoming election cause an eruption of anger and frustration in America?  We don’t know the answers to those questions yet, and the truth is that we will probably see some things happen that very few of us are anticipating at this point.

This is an exciting time to be a “news junkie”, but unfortunately the vast majority of the news these days is bad.

It is almost as if a “perfect storm” is developing.  Our weather is going crazy, our financial system is on the verge of collapse, our politicians seem more insane than ever, there is evidence of social decay all around us and the drumbeats of war in the Middle East grow louder with each passing day.

As strange as 2012 has been so far, I fear that things are about to get a whole lot stranger.

Not that we haven’t had some very unanticipated events happen this year up to this point.

The following are 8 economic threats that we were not even talking about at the beginning of the summer….

#1 West Nile Virus

What is up with all of the strange disease outbreaks that we have seen so far this year?

Flesh eating disease and the bird flu have both been making global headlines this summer, but in the U.S. right now it is the West Nile Virus that is getting the most attention.

So far more than 1,100 cases of the West Nile Virus have been diagnosed in the United States and more than 41 people have died from it.

More than half of the cases so far have been in Texas, but we have also seen people come down with West Nile Virus in Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.

If you live in any of those areas, you might want to do your best to avoid mosquitos for the rest of the summer.

#2 Historic Drought

This summer, the United States has experienced the worst drought that it has seen in more than 50 years.

This weather has been absolutely crippling for farmers and ranchers all over the nation.  As I wrote about the other day, about half of all corn being grown in the U.S. is currently either in “poor” or “very poor” condition.

As the drought has dragged on, many farmers and ranchers have become increasingly desperate.  In fact, one farmer has even been feeding his cows candy in an attempt to deal with rising feed prices.

Needless to say, this drought has been causing commodity prices to soar.

On Tuesday, the price of corn closed at a record $8.38 a bushel, and the price of soybeans closed at $17.30 a bushel.

#3 The Mississippi River Is Drying Up

Thanks to this drought, rivers and lakes all over the United States are drying up.  In fact, there have been reports that millions of fish have been dying because water levels have gotten so low in many areas.

Even the mighty Mississippi River has dropped to dangerously low levels.

At this point, the Mississippi is lower than most people living along the river can ever remember.  If it drops much lower, it could potentially have an absolutely devastating impact on the U.S. economy.

A recent NBC News report described what is at stake….

About $180 billion worth of goods move up and down the river on barges, 500 million tons of the basic ingredients for much of the U.S. economy, according to the American Waterways Operators, a trade group. It carries 60 percent of the nation’s grain, 22 percent of the oil and gas and 20 percent of the coal, according to American Waterways Operators. It would take 60 trailer trucks to carry the cargo in just one barge, 144 18-wheeler tankers to carry the oil and gas in one petroleum barge.

If all traffic along the Mississippi was forced to stop, it is estimated that it would cost the U.S. economy about 300 million dollars a day.

And already there have been stoppages along one 11 mile stretch of the river….

Nearly 100 boats and barges were waiting for passage Monday along an 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River that has been closed because of low water levels, the U.S. Coast Guard said. New Orleans-based Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Tippets said the stretch of river near Greenville, Miss., has been closed intermittently since Aug. 11, when a vessel ran aground.

So what happens if the Mississippi gets even lower?

#4 Wildfires

The extreme heat has also been responsible for the horrific outbreak of wildfires that we have seen in the western United States this year.

So far in 2012, nearly 7 million acres have been burned up.

That is an area about as big as the states of Maryland and Delaware combined.

#5 The Global Elite Hoarding Gold

In the past, the global elite and the mainstream media would mock those who are hoarding gold in anticipation of a major financial collapse.

But now it is the global elite who are hoarding gold.

In a previous article, I discussed how men such as George Soros and John Paulson are investing mind-boggling amounts of money in gold right now.  The amount of money that these two individuals are investing in gold is difficult to comprehend….

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

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

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

Combined, Soros and Paulson dumped more than three quarters of a billion dollars into gold during the second quarter of 2012 alone.

So what are they anticipating?

The central banks of the world have been very busy hoarding gold as well.  According to the World Gold Council, global central banks were net buyers of 157.5 metric tons of gold during the second quarter of 2012.

Over the past 20 years there has never been a time when global central banks have accumulated that much gold during a single quarter.

So just what in the world is going on?

#6 Recession In The UK

Everyone knew that Greece was in deep trouble.

And everyone knew that Italy and Spain were in deep trouble.

But it was a surprise to see the UK economy plunge deep into recession.  During the second quarter of 2012 alone, the UK economy shrunk by 0.7 percent.

At this point the British economy has contracted for three quarters in a row.

Hopefully things will not get even worse over there.

#7 Major Economic Slowdown In The United States

Considering the fact that the U.S. economy never even came close to recovering from the last recession, it is a bit disheartening to see that it looks like we are headed for another major downturn.

According to Michael Panzer of Financial Armageddon, measurements of economic activity compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia indicate that the U.S. economy is rapidly heading into another recession.  If you doubt this, just check out this chart.

And for a lot more reasons why the U.S. economy is entering another recession, check out this article.

#8 Hauled Off To A Mental Institution For What You Believe

Do you ever worry that what you post on Facebook could get you involuntarily committed to a mental institution?

Well, that is exactly what happened to one military vet recently.

A former Marine named Brandon Raub was hauled off to a mental institution because of what he posted on his Facebook page.

This is how the Economic Policy Journal summarized what happened to Raub….

The muscle used to grab Brandon Raub was local Chesterfield County, VA police. Also present during the grab were agents of the FBI and of the Secret Service.

Both the FBI and the Secret Service claim that they were only observing and not participating in the grab. The Chesterfield County police initially stated that they were only carrying out a request from the federal agencies.

The police also claim Raub is not under arrest, even though he was led away in handcuffs and is not permitted to leave the psychiatric ward of a hospital—even though it appears that Raub is not in  any way in need of psychological care.

I note this happened in the United States of America, with local police, FBI agents and Secret Service taking part.

The claim that Raub is “not under arrest” is completely and totally ridiculous.  The authorities came to his door, slapped handcuffs on him and are holding him in a mental institution against his will.

And now he has been transferred to a facility that is 3 hours away from his family, his supporters and his legal team.

What in the world is America turning into?

The Rutherford Institute is defending Raub, and the following is an excerpt from a statement about this case on their website….

“This is not how justice in America is supposed to work—with Americans being arrested for doing nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights, forced to undergo psychological evaluations, detained against their will and isolated from their family, friends and attorneys. This is a scary new chapter in our history,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “Brandon Raub is no different from the majority of Americans who use their private Facebook pages to post a variety of content, ranging from song lyrics and political hyperbole to trash talking their neighbors, friends and government leaders.”

This is the kind of thing that we have seen under brutal totalitarian regimes in the past.  Dissidents are grabbed by authorities and taken to mental institutions where they are conveniently “disappeared”.

This kind of thing is not supposed to happen in America.

But it is happening.

And you know what?  Before the authorities start attacking people for exercising free speech on Facebook perhaps they should clean up their own house.

It turns out that thousands of DHS employees have been convicted of crimes in recent years.  The following is from a recent CNS News article….

There have been 2,527 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees and co-conspirators convicted of corruption and other criminal misconduct since 2004, according to a federal auditor.

Our world is becoming a very crazy place.

One thing that most people did see coming this summer was the continuing economic decline in Greece.

At this point Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression and it gets worse by the day.

If you can believe it, 1,250 companies have shut down in the second largest city in Greece in 2012 alone.

Ouch.

And many in the financial world believe the the situation in Greece is going to go beyond the breaking point fairly soon.

In fact, analysts at Citibank believe that there is a 90 percent chance that Greece will leave the euro over the next 12 to 18 months.

90 percent?

They sound pretty sure of themselves.

Not that the rest of Europe is in such great shape either.

According to Bloomberg, it looks like Europe will soon be losing about half a million auto industry jobs….

Efforts by PSA Peugeot Citroen (UG) and Fiat SpA (F) to end losses in Europe could cost more than 500,000 people their jobs as automakers and parts suppliers grapple with the effects of the European sovereign debt crisis.

We live in very unusual times.

Things are falling apart all around us and we seem to be rapidly approaching another major economic crisis.

Central banks, governments and Wall Street insiders all seem to be preparing for the worst.

Are you?

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