We Are Witnessing Unusual Stock Market Behavior That Is Unlike Anything That We Have Seen Since 2008

We have not seen Wall Street this jumpy since just before the great financial crisis of 2008.  As I have explained so many times before, when the waters are calm and there is low volatility, markets tend to go up.  And when the waters are choppy and volatility starts to spike, markets tend to go down.  That is why the behavior that we have been witnessing from investors during the first two quarters of 2018 is so alarming.  A high level of market turnover is often a sign of big trouble ahead, and according to Bloomberg our financial markets “are churning at the fastest rate since 2008″…

From junk bonds to emerging-market stocks, market turnover is through the roof, reaching multi-year highs. Within the S&P 500 Index, investors traded more than $2.9 trillion worth of shares in each of the past two quarters, a feat last achieved in early 2008.

Bloomberg is not prone to hyperbole, and so when they say that “market turnover is through the roof”, I hope that you will take that statement seriously.

We truly are facing a scenario that Wall Street has never seen before.  The Wilshire 5000 stock index to nominal GDP ratio has been hovering near all-time highs, and what that tells us is that stock prices are more overvalued today than they have been at any other point in modern American history.  Meanwhile, all sorts of red flags continue to indicate that big trouble is on the horizon, but most investors are ignoring those red flags.

But if you look closely, it is becoming clear that the most savvy investors are getting out while the getting is good.  In a previous article, I explained that the “smart money” is getting out of stocks at a pace that we have not seen since just before the last financial crisis.  Fortunately for them, the “dumb money” has been willing to buy what they are selling at these massively inflated prices.

We see a similar spike in the “churn rate” when we look at emerging markets.  In fact, Bloomberg says that we have not seen this much volatility in emerging market stocks since the international financial crisis of 1998…

It’s a similar story for developing-nation assets at the mercy of a strengthening U.S. dollar and trade tensions. Volume on the MSCI Emerging Market index reached $1.9 trillion in the three months through June, the most since 1998 when a wave of currency devaluations and defaults ripped through emerging economies from Thailand to Russia.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, global stocks lost approximately 10 trillion dollars in value during the first six months of 2018.

Just think about that.

10 trillion dollars is almost half of the U.S. national debt.

If global stocks continue to fall at a similar pace during the second half, it is only a matter of time before U.S. stocks get absolutely slammed.

One of the emerging markets that is showing significant signs of trouble is India.  According to Bloomberg, India’s banks are now dealing with 210 billion dollars of bad debts…

India’s nearly $1.7 trillion formal banking sector is coping with $210 billion of soured or problem loans, and some regional banks have been ensnared in fraud scandals.

If U.S. banks had 210 billion dollars of bad debts that would be a big problem.

In India, a number like that is a complete and utter financial catastrophe that is not going to be easy to clean up.

According to CNBC, most of the bad loans are owned by India’s state-controlled banks…

India’s public-sector financial institutions control about 70 percent of all banking assets in the country, but they have the highest exposure to soured loans amounting to as much as $150 billion. In fact, the 21 state-owned banks had stressed loans of about 8.26 trillion rupees ($120 billion) as of Dec. 31, Reuters reported. Private sector lenders, meanwhile, reportedly had a bad loan pile of just about 1.1 trillion rupees.

Things have already gotten so bad in India that some people are starting to panic.

In fact, it is being reported that ATMs in some areas of the nation have been “running dry”…

On top of that, ATMs in some parts of the country have been reported to be running dry in recent days. There’s an unusually high demand for cash, according to the Finance Ministry. The rupee shortage is being blamed on everything from farm spending to looming elections and hoarding by some families.

This is yet another example that shows that it always pays to not put all of your eggs in one basket.  In the event of a major emergency, you will want access to cash, and you cannot necessarily count on your bank to always be there for you.

As we move forward into the second half of 2018, red flags continue to appear on an almost daily basis.  The Federal Reserve is steadily raising interest rates, civil unrest is erupting in the streets of America, and the Trump administration is starting trade wars with virtually everyone else on the planet.

In the end, these trade wars are going to prove to be very painful for U.S. businesses.  Earlier today, CNBC posted a piece about the impact that tariffs are likely to have on our pork producers…

U.S. pork producers are about to be bitten by a second batch of hefty retaliatory tariffs from China and Mexico — and that has some large producers predicting they could lose big money and be forced to invest overseas.

Executives say the pork industry has been expanding in recent years, in part on the expectation of export opportunities that would continue to support growth. However, the threat of a trade war is adding uncertainty and driving fear. One in 4 hogs raised in the U.S. is sold overseas, and the Chinese are the world’s top consumers of pork.

As I write this article, I can hear fireworks going off in the background.  The 4th of July is always a time for celebration, and without a doubt many Americans are extremely optimistic right now.

But as I have just explained, major storm clouds are gathering, and it isn’t going to take much to push the U.S. economy into another major crisis.

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

Why Are Investors Pulling Money Out Of Global Stock Funds At The Fastest Pace Since The Last Financial Crisis?

We haven’t seen anything like this since the financial crisis of 2008.  Investors are taking money out of global stock funds at a pace that we haven’t seen in 10 years, and many believe that this is a harbinger of tough times ahead.  Global stocks lost about 10 trillion dollars in value during the first half of 2018, and an even worse performance during the second half of the year will almost certainly push the global financial system into panic mode.  U.S. stocks have been relatively stable, and so most Americans are not too alarmed about what is happening just yet.  But if you look back throughout history, emerging market chaos is often an early warning signal that a major global crisis is on the horizon, and that is precisely what is happening right now.  Financial markets in emerging markets all over the planet are in the process of melting down, and the losses are becoming quite dramatic.

As stock prices around the planet start to plummet, investors are pulling money out of global stock funds very, very rapidly.  The following comes from CNBC

Investor money is hemorrhaging out of global stock funds at a pace not seen since just after the financial crisis exploded.

Global equity funds have seen outflows of $12.4 billion in June, a level not seen since October 2008, according to market research firm TrimTabs. Lehman Brothers collapsed in September of that year, triggering the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and helping fuel a bear market that would see major indexes lose more than 60 percent of their value.

Does this automatically mean that another major financial crisis is on the way in the United States?

No, but it is definitely not a good sign.

As CNBC also noted, investors have been taking tremendous amounts of money out of one emerging market ETF in particular…

The iShares emerging market ETF has seen $5.4 billion in outflows in June, the most of any fund, according to ETF.com.

“U.S. dollar strength and persistent underperformance seem to be driving fund investors away from non-U.S. equities,” TrimTabs said in a note.

The list of emerging market economies that are in crisis mode is beginning to get really long.  Argentina, Venezuela, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa are some of the more prominent examples.

If the chaos in emerging markets continues to intensify, the rush for the exits is going to become a stampede.  Not too long ago, I discussed the fact that the “smart money” was getting out of stocks at a pace that we haven’t seen since just before the last financial crisis, and it isn’t going to take too much to set off a full-blown financial avalanche.

In the general population, most people still seem to think that the financial system is in good shape.  But in many ways, the first half of 2018 was the worst half of a year for the global financial system since the financial crisis of 2008.  The following summary of the carnage that we have witnessed over the last 6 months comes from Zero Hedge

  • Bitcoin Worst Start To A Year Ever
  • German Banks At Lowest Since 1988
  • Onshore Yuan Worst Quarter Since 1994
  • Argentine Peso Worst Start To A Year Since 2002
  • US Financial Conditions Tightened The Most To Start A Year Since 2002
  • Global Systemically Important Banks Worst Start To A Year Since 2008
  • Global Stocks Worst Start To A Year Since 2010
  • China Stocks Worst Start To A Year Since 2010
  • German Stocks Worst Start (In USD Terms) Since 2010
  • Global Economic Data Disappointments Worst Since 2012
  • Emerging Markets, Gold, Silver Worst Start To A Year Since 2013
  • High Yield Bonds Worst Start To A Year Since 2013
  • Offshore Yuan Worst Month Since Aug 2015
  • Global Bonds Worst Start To A Year Since 2015
  • Treasury Yield Curve Down Record 16 Of Last 18 Quarters

And as I mentioned above, global stocks lost about 10 trillion dollars in value over the last 6 months.

When the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates, it puts a lot of financial stress on emerging markets.  It becomes much more expensive to take out dollar-denominated loans, and it also becomes much more expensive to pay back existing dollar-denominated debts.

But the Fed has not listened to appeals from the rest of the world, and has decided to accelerate the pace of rate hikes instead.

Meanwhile, the trade wars that the United States has started with other nations continue to escalate.  Here are the latest developments

U.S. farmers and food producers are in the cross-hairs of a global trade conflict that shows no signs of abating anytime soon — and things are about to escalate in a big way on Sunday.

New tariffs will be imposed by Canada on beef, and more retaliation will come this week when China and Mexico take aim at pork. China’s also planning a 25 percent tariff on soybeans on July 6 in addition to hikes on pork duties, and Mexico’s 20 percent levy on “the other white meat” is set to begin July 5.

Meanwhile, the European Union’s initial duties worth $3.2 billion took effect June 22. Most of the duties amount to 25 percent, and include a variety of U.S. products, including motorcycles, boats, whiskey and peanut butter.

If nobody gives in, economic activity will start to slow down substantially.  This is what CNN says that we should expect…

Here’s how the dominoes could fall: First, businesses would be hit with higher costs triggered by tariffs. Then, companies won’t be able to figure out how to get the materials they need. Eventually, confidence among executives and households would drop. Businesses would respond by drastically scaling back spending.

A perfect storm is starting to emerge, and investors are getting spooked.

If financial problems continue to get worse in emerging markets, and if the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates, and if these trade wars continue to grow, it is only a matter of time before we have a major market catastrophe in the United States.

The storm clouds on the horizon have just kept getting darker and darker, and many analysts all over the nation agree that this is the gloomiest that things have looked since 2008.

Hopefully a way can be found to turn things around, but I wouldn’t count on it…

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

The Federal Reserve Is Increasing The Pace Of Interest Rate Hikes Just In Time For The 2018 Mid-Term Elections

If the Federal Reserve really wanted to hurt the U.S. economy, the quickest way that it could do that would be by aggressively raising interest rates.  Lower interest rates make it less expensive to borrow money, and therefore economic activity tends to expand in a low interest rate environment.  Alternatively, higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow money, and economic activity tends to slow down in a high interest rate environment.  Since 1913, the Federal Reserve has engaged in 18 previous rate hiking cycles, and every single one of them resulted in a huge stock market decline and/or a recession.  It will be the same this time around as well, and the “experts” at the Federal Reserve know exactly what they are doing.  Interest rates are being aggressively jacked up just in time for the 2018 mid-term elections, and that is very bad news for the Republican Party and the Trump administration.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced an interest rate hike for the 2nd time this year

The Federal Reserve increased a key interest rate again Wednesday, which will trigger higher rates on credit cards, home equity lines and other kinds of borrowing.

Wednesday’s action, which was widely expected, was the second Fed rate hike this year — and the seventh since it began boosting them in 2015. The latest increase puts the federal funds rate in a range between 1.75 and 2 percent. The Fed previously nudged rates up in March.

Because so much is based on what the Federal Reserve does, now interest rates will be going up throughout our economy.

For example, we should expect the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage to surpass the 4.66 percent mark that we witnessed earlier this year

Mortgage rates have been climbing. The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage climbed to 4.66% this year in May, the highest in seven years, before falling slightly in recent weeks.

Home mortgage rates tend to move with the bond market, but rates can also rise because of a higher federal funds rate. A higher rate makes it more expensive for banks to borrow money, which can translate into higher borrowing rates for consumers.

Needless to say, this is going to have a huge impact on the housing market.

Interest rates will also be going up on credit cards, auto loans and just about every other kind of debt that you can imagine.

This will inevitably slow down economic activity, and it will make the party that is in power in Washington (the Republicans) look bad.

Originally, it was anticipated that the Federal Reserve would raise rates only three times in 2018, but now they are indicating that rates will be raised a total of four times this year.  The following comes from NPR

The Fed also signaled that it will raise rates more this year than previously expected — four times rather than three.

This is economic sabotage, but nobody in the mainstream media will ever admit this.

Most people do not understand that the Federal Reserve has far more power over the performance of the U.S. economy than anyone else does.  It was the Fed’s ultra-low interest rates and easy money policies that fueled the relative economic improvement that we have witnessed early in Trump’s presidency, and it will be the Fed’s policy of aggressively raising rates that will inevitably cause huge economic turmoil in the coming months.

So why would the Federal Reserve do this?

According to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, the Fed decided to raise interest rates to keep the economy from overheating

The decision reflected an economy that’s getting even stronger. Unemployment is 3.8%, the lowest since 2000, and inflation is creeping higher. The Fed is raising rates gradually to keep the economy from overheating.

“The main takeaway is that the economy is doing very well,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference. “Most people who want to find jobs are finding them, and unemployment and inflation are low.”

Of course that is a load of nonsense.

As I discussed yesterday, if honest numbers were being used our unemployment rate would be at 21.5 percent, inflation would be at about 10 percent, and GDP growth would be negative.

The U.S. economy is definitely not “overheating”.  In fact, it needs as much help as possible to pull out of the deep slump that it has been in for many, many years.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is supposed to be a Republican, and I suppose that it is possible that he actually believes that he is doing the right thing for the country by aggressively raising interest rates.

But any sort of an economic slowdown will be extremely favorable for the Democrats.  American voters are notorious for “voting their pocketbooks”, and when things get bad they always blame whoever is in power at the time.

In this case, it will be Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress that get the blame for what the Federal Reserve has done.

We know that some among the elite are already discussing the possibility of “a crashing economy” as a way to “get rid of Trump”.  In the short-term, however, the best way to neuter Trump politically would be to have Democrats do extremely well in the 2018 mid-term elections.

If the Democrats take back control of either the House or the Senate in November, Trump’s agenda will come to a crashing halt, and thanks to the Federal Reserve that scenario has just become much more likely.

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

18 Times The Fed Has Gone Through A Rate Hiking Cycle, And 18 Times It Has Caused A Huge Stock Market Decline And/Or A Recession

Since 1913, the Federal Reserve has engaged in 18 distinct interest rate hiking campaigns, and in every single one of those instances the end result was a large stock market decline, a recession, or both.  Now we are in the 19th rate tightening cycle since 1913, but many of the experts are insisting that things will somehow be different this time.  They assure us that the U.S. economy will continue to grow and that stock prices will continue to soar.  Of course the truth is that if something happens 18 times in a row, there is a really, really good chance that it will happen on the 19th time too.  For years I have been trying to get people to understand that our country has been on an endless roller coaster ride ever since the Fed was created back in 1913.  Things can seem quite pleasant when the economy is on one of the upswings, but the downswings can be extremely painful.

It was economist Lance Roberts that pointed out this correlation between rate hiking cycles and economic troubles.  When I came across his most recent article, it really got my attention

A sustained interest rate hiking campaign, as undertaken by the Fed, has always resulted in negative stock market returns.

Always. Not usually, not might-be-correlated-to. Always. As in, 18 out of 18 times. Until now. When we’ve had the single highest percentage increase in history (93.33% peak to trough, so far).

To support his claims, he posted this chart

So far, however, there hasn’t been a huge stock market drop or a recession during this rate hiking cycle.

Has something changed?

Is the 19th time going to be fundamentally different?

Roberts believes that the unprecedented intervention by the Fed that we have seen in recent years that has fueled corporate buybacks has successfully “delayed the inevitable stock market correction”

So what gives? Of course, it’s the Fed. Having kept interest rates near zero for years on end and having filled corporate coffers with super cheap debt used to fuel market-bubble-sustaining corporate buybacks, the Fed has delayed the inevitable stock market correction.

I definitely agree with Roberts – a colossal stock market correction is inevitably coming.

And the warning signs are all around us.  As I have discussed so many times before, junk bonds are often an early warning sign for a major financial crisis, and it is extremely interesting to note that it looks like Deutsche Bank is planning a “fire sale” of their energy junk bonds.  The following analysis comes from Zero Hedge

Bloomberg reports that Deutsche is planning to sell the loan book as a whole and has marketed it to North American and European peers, said one of the people. The portfolio is expected to sell for par value, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly; good luck with that!

The bank’s energy business is expected to wrap up on June 30, one of the people said. The bank has been an active lender in the energy space in the past year, participating in the financing of companies including Peabody Energy Corp. and Coronado Australian Holdings Pty., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

So to summarize: Moody’s is warning that when the economy weakens we will see an avalanche of defaults like we haven’t seen before; Corporate debt-to-GDP and investor risk appetite is reminding a lot of veterans of previous credit peaks; and now the most desperate bank in the world is offering its whole junk energy debt book in a firesale… just as high yield issuance starts to slump.

Wow.

To me, that is one of the strongest indications yet that things are about to take a major turn for the worse for the global financial system.

And even former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke is sounding quite pessimistic these days.  The following comes from a Bloomberg article entitled “Bernanke Says U.S. Economy Faces a ‘Wile E. Coyote’ Moment in 2020”

The stimulus “is going to hit the economy in a big way this year and next year, and then in 2020 Wile E. Coyote is going to go off the cliff,” Bernanke said, referring to the hapless character in the Road Runner cartoon series.

When you read that quote, alarm bells should have been going off in your head.

If his forecast is accurate, that means that the U.S. economy’s Wile E. Coyote moment will come just in time for the 2020 election

The timing of Bernanke’s possible slowdown would line up badly for Trump, who has called the current economy the best ever and faces reelection in late-2020.

Wouldn’t that be convenient for the elite?

U.S. voters tend to be extremely influenced by the performance of the economy, and so a major economic downturn would not bode well for Trump’s chances.

Similarly, if a major crisis erupts during the second half of this year, it will probably mean big problems for Republicans in November.  Timing is everything in politics, and when the next crisis comes most voters won’t even consider the fact that it had been building for a very, very long time.  All they will care about is who is in office at the time.

But for the moment, most of the “experts” are assuring us that things will be rosy for the foreseeable future.  For example, a couple of prominent analysts over at Goldman Sachs are saying that tech stock prices are likely to continue to rise

“Unlike the technology mania of the 1990s, most of this success can be explained by strong fundamentals, revenues and earnings rather than speculation about the future,” strategists Peter Oppenheimer and Guillaume Jaisson wrote in a note. “Given that valuations in aggregate are not very stretched, we do not expect the dominant size and contribution of returns in stock markets to end any time soon.”

And the optimists will continue to be right up until the moment that the bubble finally bursts.

Whenever the Federal Reserve starts raising rates, it always results in a bad ending.

This time will be no different, and anyone that is trying to convince you otherwise is just being delusional.

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

Billionaire Issues Chilling Warning About Interest Rate Derivatives

WarningWill rapidly rising interest rates rip through the U.S. financial system like a giant lawnmower blade?  Yes, the U.S. economy survived much higher interest rates in the past, but at that time there were not hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of interest rate derivatives hanging over our financial system like a Sword of Damocles.  This is something that I have been talking about for quite some time, and now a Mexican billionaire has come forward with a similar warning.  Hugo Salinas Price was the founder of the Elektra retail chain down in Mexico, and he is extremely concerned that rising interest rates could burst the derivatives bubble and cause “massive bankruptcies around the globe”.  Of course there are a whole lot of people out there that would be quite glad to see the “too big to fail” banks go bankrupt, but the truth is that if they go down our entire economy will go down with them.  Our situation is similar to a patient with a very advanced stage of cancer.  You can try to kill the cancer with drugs, but you will almost certainly kill the patient at the same time.  Well, that is essentially what our relationship with the big banks is like.  Our entire economic system is based on credit, and just like we saw back in 2008, if the big banks start failing credit freezes up and suddenly nobody can get any money for anything.  When the next great credit crunch comes, every important number in our economy will rapidly start getting much worse.

The big banks are going to play a starring role in the next financial crash just like they did in the last one.  Only this next crash may be quite a bit worse.  Just check out what billionaire Hugo Salinas Price told King World News recently…

I think we are going to see a series of bankruptcies. I think the rise in interest rates is the fatal sign which is going to ignite a derivatives crisis. This is going to bring down the derivatives system (and the financial system).

There are (over) one quadrillion dollars of derivatives and most of them are related to interest rates. The spiking of interest rates in the United States may set that off. What is going to happen in the world is eventually we are going to come to a moment where there is going to be massive bankruptcies around the globe.

What is going to be left after the dust settles is gold, and some people are going to have it and some people are not. Then the problem is going to be to hold on to what you’ve got because it’s not going to be a very pleasant world.

Right now, there are about 441 trillion dollars of interest rate derivatives sitting out there.  If interest rates stay about where they are right now and they don’t go much higher, we will be fine.  But if they start going much higher, all bets will be off and we could see financial carnage on a scale that we have never seen before.

And at the moment the big banks have got to behave themselves because the government is investigating allegations that they have been cheating pension funds and other investors out of millions of dollars by manipulating the trading of interest rate derivatives.  The following is from an article that the Telegraph posted on Friday…

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is probing 15 banks over allegations that they instructed brokers to carry out trades that would move ISDAfix, the leading benchmark rate for interest rate swaps.

Pension funds and companies who invest in interest rate derivatives often deal with banks to insure against big movements in the ISDAfix rate or to speculate on changes to interest rate swaps

ISDAfix is published each morning after banks submit bids for swaps via Icap, the inter-dealer broker, in a number of currencies. The CFTC has been investigating suggestions that the banks deliberately moved the rate in order to profit on these deals.

Given the hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of interest rate derivatives trades that occur annually, even the slightest manipulation can have a substantial effect. The CFTC, which started to investigate ISDAfix after last summer’s Libor scandal has now been handed emails and phone call recordings that show the rate was deliberately moved, according to Bloomberg.

Essentially they got their hands caught in the cookie jar and so they have got to play it straight (at least for now).

Meanwhile, it looks like the Fed may not be able to keep long-term interest rates down for much longer.

The Federal Reserve has been using quantitative easing to try to keep long-term interest rates low, but now some officials over at the Fed are becoming extremely alarmed about how bloated the Fed balance sheet has become.  For example, the following was recently written by the head of the Dallas Fed, Richard Fisher

This later program is referred to as quantitative easing, or QE, by the public and as large-scale asset purchases, or LSAPs, internally at the Fed. As a result of LSAPs conducted over three stages of QE, the Fed’s System Open Market Account now holds $2 trillion of Treasury securities and $1.3 trillion of agency and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Since last fall, when we initiated the third stage of QE, we have regularly been purchasing $45 billion a month of Treasuries and $40 billion a month in MBS, meanwhile reinvesting the proceeds from the paydowns of our mortgage-based investments. The result is that our balance sheet has ballooned to more than $3.5 trillion. That’s $3.5 trillion, or $11,300 for every man, woman and child residing in the United States.

Fisher has compared the current Fed balance sheet to a “Gordian Knot”, and he hopes that the Fed will be able to unwind this knot without creating “market havoc”…

The point is: We own a significant slice of these critical markets. This is, indeed, something of a Gordian Knot.

Those of you familiar with the Gordian legend know there were two versions to it: One holds that Alexander the Great simply dispatched with the problem by slicing the intractable knot in half with his sword; the other posits that Alexander pulled the knot out of its pole pin, exposed the two ends of the cord and proceeded to untie it. According to the myth, the oracles then divined that he would go on to conquer the world.

There is no Alexander to simply slice the complex knot that we have created with our rounds of QE. Instead, when the right time comes, we must carefully remove the program’s pole pin and gingerly unwind it so as not to prompt market havoc. For starters though, we need to stop building upon the knot. For this reason, I have advocated that we socialize the idea of the inevitability of our dialing back and eventually ending our LSAPs. In June, I argued for the Chairman to signal this possibility at his last press conference and at last week’s meeting suggested that we should gird our loins to make our first move this fall. We shall see if that recommendation obtains with the majority of the Committee.

But of course it should be obvious to everyone that the Fed is not going to be able to reduce the size of its balance sheet without causing huge distress in the financial markets.  A few weeks ago, just the suggestion that the Fed may eventually begin to slow down the pace of quantitative easing caused the markets to throw an epic temper tantrum.

Unfortunately, the Fed may not be able to keep control of long-term interest rates even if they continue quantitative easing indefinitely.  Over the past several weeks long-term interest rates have been rising steadily, and the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries crept a bit higher on Monday.

At this point, many on Wall Street are convinced that the bull market for bonds is over and that rates will eventually go much, much higher than they are right now no matter what the Fed does.  The following is an excerpt from a recent CNBC article

The Federal Reserve will lose control of interest rates as the “great rotation” out of bonds into equities takes off in full force, according to one market watcher, who sees U.S. 10-year Treasury yields hitting 5-6 percent in the next 18-24 months.

“It is our opinion that interest rates have begun their assent, that the Fed will eventually lose control of interest rates. The yield curve will first steepen and then will shift, moving rates significantly higher,” said Mike Crofton, President and CEO, Philadelphia Trust Company told CNBC on Wednesday.

If the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries does hit 6 percent, we are going to have a major disaster on our hands.

Hugo Salinas Price is exactly right – the derivatives bubble is the number one threat that our financial system is facing, and it could potentially bring down a whole bunch of our big banks.

But for the moment, Wall Street is still in a euphoric mood.  The Dow is near a record high and many investors are hoping that this rally will last for the rest of the year.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t count on that happening.  The truth is that the stock market has become completely divorced from economic reality.

Since March 2009, the size of the U.S. economy has grown by approximately $1.3 trillion, but stock market wealth has grown by an astounding $12 trillion.

And the stock market has just kept on rising even though GDP growth forecasts have been steadily falling.

It doesn’t make any sense.

But Obama, Bernanke and the wizards on Wall Street assure us that there is no end to the party in sight.

Believe them at your own peril.

The people at the controls are completely and totally clueless and we are rapidly careening toward disaster.

Perhaps we should do what one little town in Minnesota did and put a 4-year-old kid in charge.

That kid certainly could not be much worse than our current leadership, don’t you think?

The Most Important Number In The Entire U.S. Economy

WatchingThere is one vitally important number that everyone needs to be watching right now, and it doesn’t have anything to do with unemployment, inflation or housing.  If this number gets too high, it will collapse the entire U.S. financial system.  The number that I am talking about is the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries.  When that number goes up, long-term interest rates all across the financial system start increasing.  When long-term interest rates rise, it becomes more expensive for the federal government to borrow money, it becomes more expensive for state and local governments to borrow money, existing bonds lose value and bond investors lose a lot of money, mortgage rates go up and monthly payments on new mortgages rise, and interest rates throughout the entire economy go up and this causes economic activity to slow down.  On top of everything else, there are more than 440 trillion dollars worth of interest rate derivatives sitting out there, and rapidly rising interest rates could cause that gigantic time bomb to go off and implode our entire financial system.  We are living in the midst of the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and the only way that the game can continue is for interest rates to stay super low.  Unfortunately, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has started to rise, and many experts are projecting that it is going to continue to rise.

On August 2nd of last year, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries was just 1.48%, and our entire debt-based economy was basking in the glow of ultra-low interest rates.  But now things are rapidly changing.  On Wednesday, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries hit 2.70% before falling back to 2.58% on “good news” from the Federal Reserve.

Historically speaking, rates are still super low, but what is alarming is that it looks like we hit a “bottom” last year and that interest rates are only going to go up from here.  In fact, according to CNBC many experts believe that we will soon be pushing up toward the 3 percent mark…

Round numbers like 1,700 on the S&P 500 are well and good, but savvy traders have their minds on another integer: 2.75 percent

That was the high for the 10-year yield this year, and traders say yields are bound to go back to that level. The one overhanging question is how stocks will react when they see that number.

“If we start to push up to new highs on the 10-year yield so that’s the 2.75 level—I think you’d probably see a bit of anxiety creep back into the marketplace,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s head of global technical strategy, MacNeil Curry, told “Futures Now” on Tuesday.

And Curry sees yields getting back to that level in the short term, and then some. “In the next couple of weeks to two months or so I think we’ve got a push coming up to the 2.85, 2.95 zone,” he said.

This rise in interest rates has been expected for a very long time – it is just that nobody knew exactly when it would happen.  Now that it has begun, nobody is quite sure how high interest rates will eventually go.  For some very interesting technical analysis, I encourage everyone to check out an article by Peter Brandt that you can find right here.

And all of this is very bad news for stocks.  The chart below was created by Chartist Friend from Pittsburgh, and it shows that stock prices have generally risen as the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has steadily declined over the past 30 years…

CFPGH-DJIA-20

When interest rates go down, that spurs economic activity, and that is good for stock prices.

So when interest rates start going up rapidly, that is not a good thing for the stock market at all.

The Federal Reserve has tried to keep long-term interest rates down by wildly printing money and buying bonds, and even the suggestion that the Fed may eventually “taper” quantitative easing caused the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries to absolutely soar a few weeks ago.

So the Fed has backed off on the “taper” talk for now, but what happens if the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries continues to rise even with the wild money printing that the Fed has been doing?

At that point, the Fed would begin to totally lose control over the situation.  And if that happens, Bill Fleckenstein told King World News the other day that he believes that we could see the stock market suddenly plunge by 25 percent…

Let’s say Ben (Bernanke) comes out tomorrow and says, ‘We are not going to taper.’ But let’s just say the bond market trades down anyway, and the next thing you know we go through the recent highs and a month from now the 10-Year is at 3%. And people start to realize they are not even tapering and the bond market is backed up….

They will say, ‘Why is this happening?’ Then they may realize the bond market is discounting the inflation we already have.

At some point the bond markets are going to say, ‘We are not comfortable with these policies.’ Obviously you can’t print money forever or no emerging country would ever have gone broke. So the bond market starts to back up and the economy gets worse than it is now because rates are rising. So the Fed says, ‘We can’t have this,’ and they decide to print more (money) and the bond market backs up (even more).

All of the sudden it becomes clear that money printing not only isn’t the solution, but it’s the problem. Well, with rates going from where they are to 3%+ on the 10-Year, one of these days the S&P futures are going to get destroyed. And if the computers ever get loose on the downside the market could break 25% in three days.

And as I have written about previously, we have seen a huge spike in margin debt in recent months, and this could make it even easier for a stock market collapse to happen.  A recent note from Deutsche Bank explained precisely why margin debt is so dangerous

Margin debt can be described as a tool used by stock speculators to borrow money from brokerages to buy more stock than they could otherwise afford on their own. These loans are collateralized by stock holdings, so when the market goes south, investors are either required to inject more cash/assets or become forced to sell immediately to pay off their loans – sometimes leading to mass pullouts or crashes.

But of much greater concern than a stock market crash is the 441 trillion dollar interest rate derivatives bubble that could implode if interest rates continue to rise rapidly.

Deutsche Bank is the largest bank in Europe, and at this point they have 55.6 trillion euros of total exposure to derivatives.

But the GDP of the entire nation of Germany is only about 2.7 trillion euros for a whole year.

We are facing a similar situation in the United States.  Our GDP for 2013 will be somewhere between 15 and 16 trillion dollars, but many of our big banks have exposure to derivatives that absolutely dwarfs our GDP.  The following numbers come from one of my previous articles entitled “The Coming Derivatives Panic That Will Destroy Global Financial Markets“…

JPMorgan Chase

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

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

Citibank

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

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

Bank Of America

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

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

Goldman Sachs

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

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

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

And remember, the biggest chunk of those derivatives contracts is made up of interest rate derivatives.

Just imagine what would happen if a life insurance company wrote millions upon millions of life insurance contracts and then everyone suddenly died.

What would happen to that life insurance company?

It would go completely broke of course.

Well, that is what our major banks are facing today.

They have written trillions upon trillions of dollars worth of interest rate derivatives contracts, and they are betting that interest rates will not go up rapidly.

But what if they do?

And the truth is that interest rates have a whole lot of room to go up.  The chart below shows how the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has moved over the past couple of decades…

10 Year Treasury Yield

As you can see, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries was hovering around the 6 percent mark back in the year 2000.

Back in 1990, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries hovered between 8 and 9 percent.

If we return to “normal” levels, our financial system will implode.  There is no way that our debt-addicted system would be able to handle it.

So watch the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries very carefully.  It is the most important number in the entire U.S. economy.

If that number gets too high, the game is over.

10 Reasons Why The Global Economy Is About To Experience Its Own Version Of “Sharknado”

SharknadoHave you ever seen a disaster movie that is so bad that it is actually good?  Well, that is exactly what Syfy’s new television movie entitled “Sharknado” is.  In the movie, wild weather patterns actually cause man-eating sharks to come flying out of the sky.  It sounds absolutely ridiculous, and it is.  You can view the trailer for the movie right here.  Unfortunately, we are witnessing something just as ridiculous in the real world right now.  In the United States, the mainstream media is breathlessly proclaiming that the U.S. economy is in great shape because job growth is “accelerating” (even though we actually lost 240,000 full-time jobs last month) and because the U.S. stock market set new all-time highs this week.  The mainstream media seems to be absolutely oblivious to all of the financial storm clouds that are gathering on the horizon.  The conditions for a “perfect storm” are rapidly developing, and by the time this is all over we may be wishing that flying sharks were all that we had to deal with.  The following are 10 reasons why the global economy is about to experience its own version of “Sharknado”…

#1 The financial situation in Portugal continues to deteriorate thanks to an emerging political crisis.  It all began last week when Portuguese finance minister Vitor Gaspar resigned

“Mr. Gaspar’s resignation on July 1 has opened a Pandora’s box,” says Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy. “Portuguese politicians from the President down are treating the exit of Mr. Gaspar, the architect of the fiscal and structural reforms demanded by the troika, as a green light for a public debate about the bail-out programme. Yet the manner in which this debate is taking place, with the President undermining the prime minister and the opposition leader seeking to renegotiate the terms of the programme, is spooking markets.”

The general population is becoming increasingly restless as the nation plunges down the exact same path that Greece has gone.  Nobody seems to have any solutions as the economic problems continue to escalate.  According to Reuters, the president of Portugal has added fuel to the fire by calling for early elections next year…

Portugal’s president threw the bailed-out euro zone country into disarray on Thursday after rejecting a plan to heal a government rift, igniting what critics called a “time bomb” by calling for early elections next year.

Due to all of this instability in Portugal, the yield on Portuguese bonds shot up to 7.51% this week.  That is a very bad sign.

#2 The economic depression in Greece continues to deepen, and it is being reported that Greece will not even come close to hitting the austerity targets that it was supposed to hit this year…

A leaked report from the European Commission confirms that Greece will miss its austerity targets yet again by a wide margin. It alleges that Greece lacks the “willingness and capacity” to collect taxes. In fact, Athens is missing targets because the economy is still in freefall and that is because of austerity overkill. The Greek think-tank IOBE expects GDP to fall 5pc this year. It has told journalists privately that the final figure may be -7pc.

Another 7 percent contraction for the Greek economy?

It has already been contracting steadily for years.

At this point, it would be hard to overstate how bad economic conditions inside Greece are.  The following is from a recent article by Simon Black

My friend Illias took a drag of his cigarette as he contemplated my question.

“Our government tells us that this will be a better year. No one really believes them. But all we can do is be optimistic. Too many people are committing suicide.”

His statement probably best sums up the situation in Greece right now. It’s as if the hopelessness has gone stale, and the only thing they have to replace it with is desperate, misguided, faux-optimism. And anger.

There are roughly 11 million people in this country. 3.4 million of them are employed, of which roughly one third work for the government.

1.34 million people are ‘officially’ unemployed. To put this in context, it would be as if there were 36 million officially unemployed in the US.

More startling, if you add the number of ‘inactive’ workers (i.e. those who gave up looking), the total number of unemployed is roughly 57% of the entire Greek work force.

#3 The economic crisis in the third largest country in the eurozone, Italy, has taken another turn for the worse.  The unemployment rate in Italy is up to 12.2 percent, which is the highest in 35 years.  An average of 134 retail outlets are shutting down in Italy every single day, and the debt of the country has been downgraded again to just above junk status

Italy’s slow crisis is again flaring up. Its debt trajectory has punched through the danger line over the past two years. The country’s €2.1 trillion (£1.8 trillion) debt – 129pc of GDP – may already be beyond the point of no return for a country without its own currency.

Standard & Poor’s did not say this outright when it downgraded the country to near-junk BBB on Tuesday. But if you read between the lines, it is close to saying the game is up for Italy.

#4 There are rumors that some of the biggest banks in the world are in very serious trouble.  For example, Jim Willie (a financial writer who usually puts out really solid information) is insisting that Deutsche Bank is on the verge of collapse…

The best information coming to my desk indicates that three major Western banks are under constant threat of failure overnight, every night, forcing extraordinary measures to avoid failure. They are Deutsche Bank in Germany, Barclays in London, and Citibank in New York. Judging from the ongoing defense from prosecution and cooperation (flipped) with Interpol and distraction of resources, the most likely bank to die next is Deutsche Bank. They are caught with accounting fraud and outright financial fraud over collateral shell games, pertaining to USTreasury Bonds, other sovereign bonds in Southern Europe, and OTC derivatives linked to FOREX currency contracts. D-Bank is a dead man walking.

Time will tell if he is right.  But without a doubt the global financial system is extremely vulnerable right now.

Most Americans assume that the problems that caused the financial crash of 2008 were fixed, but that is most definitely NOT the case.  In fact, our financial system is far more shaky today than it was just before the last financial crisis.  When one major bank goes down, we could start to see others fall like dominoes.

#5 Just before the financial crisis of 2008, the price of oil spiked dramatically.  Well, it is starting to happen again.  The price of oil hit $106 a barrel on Friday.  If the price of oil continues to rise at this pace, it is going to mean big trouble for economies all over the planet.

And as I wrote about recently, every time the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen above $3.80 during the past three years, a stock market decline has always followed.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States reached $3.55 on Friday.  This is a number to keep a close eye on.

#6 Mortgage rates are absolutely skyrocketing right now…

The average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose this week to 4.51%, a two-year high. Rates have been rising on expectations that the Federal Reserve will slow its bond purchases this year.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average on the 30-year loan jumped from 4.29% the previous week. Just two months ago, it was 3.35% — barely above the record low of 3.31%.

This threatens to throw the U.S. real estate market into a slowdown worse than anything we have seen since the last recession.

#7 This upcoming corporate earnings season is shaping up to be an extremely disappointing one.  In fact, the percentage of companies issuing negative earnings guidance for this quarter is at a level that we have never seen before.

So is this a sign that economic activity is starting to slow down significantly?

#8 U.S. stocks are massively overextended right now.  In fact, according to Graham Summers, this is the most overextended stocks have been in the past 20 years…

Today, the S&P 500 is sitting a full 30% above its 200-weekly moving average. We have NEVER been this overextended above this line at any point in the last 20 years.

#9 Rapidly rising interest rates are causing the bond market to begin to come apart at the seams.  There is concern that the 30 year bull market for bonds is now over and investors are starting to pull their money out of the market at a staggering rate.  In fact, 80 billion dollars was pulled out of bond funds during June alone.

#10 Rapidly rising interest rates could cause an implosion of the derivatives market at any moment.  As I am so fond of reminding everyone, there are approximately 441 trillion dollars worth of interest rate derivatives out there.

If interest rates continue to soar, we could potentially see a financial disaster that is absolutely unprecedented, and the too big to fail banks would be the most vulnerable.

As USA Today recently reported, there are just five major banks that absolutely dominate derivatives trading in the United States…

Five of the biggest U.S. banks — JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley — account for more than 90% of derivatives contracts. Regulators estimate that nearly half of derivatives are traded outside the United States.

Could you imagine the financial devastation that we would see if several of those banks started to collapse at the same time?

When you hear the mainstream media begin to talk about a “derivatives crisis” involving major banks, that will be a sign that disaster is upon us.

Most Americans don’t realize that Wall Street has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the world.  Most Americans don’t realize that the major banks are literally walking a financial tightrope each and every day.

All it is going to take is one false step and we will be looking at a financial crisis even worse than what happened back in 2008.

So enjoy this little bubble of false prosperity while you can.

It is not going to last for too much longer.

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