Wal-Mart Says “Serious” Inflation Is Coming

Thank you Ben Bernanke for all the money printing.  Thanks to a massive injection of cash into the financial system by the Federal Reserve and other central banks, the price of almost every major commodity has skyrocketed over the past six months.  Now those price increases are starting to filter down to the retail level.  During a recent meeting with USA TODAY’s editorial board, Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon said that rising inflation in the United States is “going to be serious” and that Wal-Mart is “seeing cost increases starting to come through at a pretty rapid rate.”  For many years Wal-Mart has been famous for their “low prices”, so for the head of Wal-Mart to publicly warn that much higher prices are coming is more than a little alarming.  There are millions of American families that are already drowning in debt, that can barely pay their mortgages and that are struggling to put food on the table for their families.  So what is going to happen to the U.S. economy when prices start rising substantially at places such as Wal-Mart?

But Wal-Mart is not the only major corporation that says that inflation is coming.  Hershey has just announced price increases of about 10 percent on their entire line of products.

So if you like chocolate you better start stocking up now.

Cocoa production is being seriously threatened by the political unrest in Africa right now.  The recent chaos in the Ivory Coast is certainly not good news for Hershey, but the truth is that all of the long-term trends indicate that prices for commodities such as cocoa, coffee and sugar are going to move up anyway.

In fact, Aaron Smith, the managing director of Superfund Financial, believes that coffee, sugar and cocoa will all be five to ten times more expensive by 2014 than they are today.

So if you are addicted to coffee or to sugar you might want to start making your plans accordingly.

But the truth is that inflation is not limited to just a few commodities.  Virtually every major agricultural commodity has soared in price over the past 6 months to a year.

So what is causing all of this?

Well, there are several factors which are major contributors.

First of all, overall global demand continues to increase.  The population of the world continues to grow, and as the economies of nations such as China and India develop, millions more people want to enjoy luxury items such as chocolate and coffee just like Americans do.

Secondly, all over the world central banks have been recklessly printing money in an attempt to stimulate their economies, but this is also going to end up causing tremendous inflation.

So how does that work?

Well, it is actually very simple.

For example, in the United States when there are more dollars chasing the same number of goods and services, what is going to happen?

Prices are going to rise of course.

And we are seeing this happen all over the world right now.

Thirdly, as the price of oil continues to rise, it is going to increase the cost of everything else.  The era of massive amounts of cheap food being transported around the world using massive quantities of cheap oil is rapidly coming to an end.

The following chart if from the Federal Reserve.  It shows that the price of oil is rapidly moving back to the level it was at prior to the financial crisis of 2008.  In fact, this chart is slightly out of date.  At last check, the price of oil was over $107 a barrel.  So what is it going to mean for our economy if we soon surpass the record that was set back in 2008?….

Fourthly, global instability is also going to cause prices to continue to rise.  Over the past year we have had really bizarre weather all over the globe, we have seen revolutions erupt all over Africa and the Middle East and the third largest economy in the world (Japan) just experienced the worst disaster that they have been through since World War 2 ended.

When things are unstable, economies don’t work as efficiently.  That means that less goods and services are produced.

But when there are less goods and services being chased by an increasing amount of money that tends to push prices up.

The truth is that inflation is here, and if the CEO of Wal-Mart is right, it is not going to go away any time soon.

In fact, many believe that the world is on the verge of another major economic crisis.

If you stop and think about it, every major region of the world is dealing with very serious problems right now.

Right now, the European debt crisis is worse than it ever has been before.  Did you notice that Standard & Poor’s just downgraded Portugal’s debt for the second time in a week?  Now Portuguese debt is rated BBB-, which is only one level above junk status.

That is a very alarming sign.

Asia is dealing with the Japanese crisis, nearly all of the countries in the Middle East are dealing with protests or full-blown revolutions, Africa is dealing with the war in Libya and quite a few revolutions of their own, and the U.S. is still deeply struggling with a whole host of economic problems.

Most Americans don’t realize just how precarious things are at the moment for the global economy.  The financial crash of 2008 did a lot of lasting damage, and the next wave of the financial crisis could potentially be even worse.  Unfortunately, the global financial system is more vulnerable than ever right now.

So what are the Federal Reserve and other central banks going to do the next time a major financial crisis happens?

They are going to print even larger quantities of money and they are going to give even larger bailouts to their friends of course.

The dollars that you have today are never going to be more valuable than they are right now.  Don’t wait too long to use them.  If you have a huge pile of dollars sitting in the bank your wealth is slowly but surely rotting away.

Very hard economic times are coming.  The inflation that the CEO of Wal-Mart is warning about is only the beginning.  Eventually we are going to see inflation in this country that is going to be absolutely mind blowing.

But don’t wait until the storm hits to start preparing.  We all have time now to prepare, so let us be wise and make the most of it.

Wow That Was Fast! Libyan Rebels Have Already Established A New Central Bank Of Libya

The rebels in Libya are in the middle of a life or death civil war and Moammar Gadhafi is still in power and yet somehow the Libyan rebels have had enough time to establish a new Central Bank of Libya and form a new national oil company.  Perhaps when this conflict is over those rebels can become time management consultants.  They sure do get a lot done.  What a skilled bunch of rebels – they can fight a war during the day and draw up a new central bank and a new national oil company at night without any outside help whatsoever.  If only the rest of us were so versatile!  But isn’t forming a central bank something that could be done after the civil war is over?  According to Bloomberg, the Transitional National Council has “designated the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and the appointment of a governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi.”  Apparently someone felt that it was very important to get pesky matters such as control of the banks and control of the money supply out of the way even before a new government is formed.

Of course it is probably safe to assume that the new Central Bank of Libya will be 100% owned and 100% controlled by the newly liberated people of Libya, isn’t it?

Most people don’t realize that the previous Central Bank of Libya was 100% state owned. The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia’s article on the former Central Bank of Libya….

The Central Bank of Libya (CBL) is 100% state owned and represents the monetary authority in The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and enjoys the status of autonomous corporate body. The law establishing the CBL stipulates that the objectives of the central bank shall be to maintain monetary stability in Libya , and to promote the sustained growth of the economy in accordance with the general economic policy of the state.

Since the old Central Bank of Libya was state owned, it was essentially under the control of Moammar Gadhafi.

But now that Libya is going to be “free”, the new Central Bank of Libya will be run by Libyans and solely for the benefit of Libyans, right?

Of course it is probably safe to assume that will be the case with the new national oil company as well, isn’t it?

Over the past couple of years, Moammar Gadhafi had threatened to nationalize the oil industry in Libya and kick western oil companies out of the country, but now that Libya will be “free” the people of Libya will be able to work hand in hand with “big oil” and this will create a better Libya for everyone.

Right?

Of course oil had absolutely nothing to do with why the U.S. “inva—” (scratch that) “initiated a kinetic humanitarian liberty action” in Libya.

When Barack Obama looked straight into the camera and told the American people that the war in Libya is in the “strategic interest” of the United States, surely he was not referring to oil.

After all, war for oil was a “Bush thing”, right?  The Democrats voted for Obama to end wars like this, right?  Surely no prominent Democrats will publicly support this war in Libya, right?

Surely Barack Obama will end the bombing of Libya if the international community begins to object, right?

Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize.  He wouldn’t deeply upset the other major powers on the globe and bring us closer to World War III, would he?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has loudly denounced “coalition strikes on columns of Gaddafi’s forces” and he believes that the U.S. has badly violated the terms of the UN Security Council resolution….

“We consider that intervention by the coalition in what is essentially an internal civil war is not sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council resolution.”

So to cool off rising tensions with the rest of the world, Obama is going to call off the air strikes, right?

Well, considering the fact that Obama has such vast foreign policy experience we should all be able to rest easy knowing that Obama will understand exactly what to do.

Meanwhile, the rebels seem to be getting the hang of international trade already.

They have even signed an oil deal with Qatar!

Rebel “spokesman” Ali Tarhouni has announced that oil exports to Qatar will begin in “less than a week“.

Who knew that the rag tag group of rebels in Libya were also masters of banking and international trade?

We sure do live in a strange world.

Tonight, Barack Obama told the American people the following….

“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”

So now we are going to police all of the atrocities in all of the other countries around the globe?

The last time I checked, the government was gunning down protesters in Syria.

Is it time to start warming up the Tomahawks?

Or do we reserve “humanitarian interventions” only for those nations that have a lot of oil?

In fact, atrocities are currently being committed all over Africa and in about a dozen different nations in the Middle East.

Should we institute a draft so that we will have enough young men and women to police the world with?

We all have to be ready to serve our country, right?

The world is becoming a smaller place every day, and you never know where U.S. “strategic interests” are going to be threatened next.

The rest of the world understands that we know best, right?

Of course the rest of the world can surely see our good intentions in Libya, can’t they?

Tensions with Russia, China and the rest of the Arab world are certainly going to subside after they all see how selfless our “humanitarian intervention” has been in Libya, don’t you think?

In all seriousness, we now live in a world where nothing is stable anymore.  Wars and revolutions are breaking out all over the globe, unprecedented natural disasters are happening with alarming frequency and the global economy is on the verge of total collapse.

By interfering in Libya, we are just making things worse.  Gadhafi is certainly a horrible dictator, but this was a fight for the Libyan people to sort out.

We promised the rest of the world that we were only going to be setting up a “no fly zone”.  By violating the terms of the UN Security Council resolution, we have shown other nations that we cannot be trusted and by our actions we have increased tensions all over the globe.

So what do all of you think about what is going on in Libya?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

The G-7 Forex Intervention Is A Perfect Example Of How Manipulated The Global Currency Market Really Is

What do governments and central banks do when they don’t like what is happening in the financial markets?  They directly intervene and they manipulate the financial markets of course.  On Friday, the central banks of the G-7 acted in concert to drive down the value of the surging yen.  So why did they do this?  Well, the fear was that a rising yen would hurt Japanese exports at a time when the economy of Japan needs all of the help that it can get.  So, as central banks have been doing with increasing frequency, they directly intervened in the Forex market in order to bring about the result that they desired.  Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident.  The truth is that foreign governments, central banks and large financial institutions are constantly manipulating the Forex, precious metals and stock markets all over the globe.  You see, in today’s global economy the “stakes are so high” that the free market cannot be trusted.

The reality of the matter is that none of the financial markets are really “free markets” anymore.  Not that they are completely rigged, but to say that they are very highly manipulated would not be a stretch.

At least this time the manipulation was made public.  Of course it would have been really hard to hide the fact that all G-7 central banks intervened in the Forex on the same day.

The last time there was such a coordinated intervention in the global currency market was back in 2000 when central banks intervened to boost the struggling euro.

But the truth is that individual central banks attempt to manipulate the Forex all the time.

Some of these interventions become public.  In September 2010, a bold 12 billion dollar move by the Bank of Japan to push down the value of the yen made headlines around the globe but had only limited success.

Another example of this from last year was when the Swiss National Bank experienced losses equivalent to about 15 billion dollars trying to stop the rapid rise of the Swiss franc.

Many nations around the world have become extremely sensitive to currency movements.

In particular, there are several Asian nations that are known to be constant currency manipulators.  For example, Singapore is very well known for intervening in the foreign exchange market in order to benefit exporters.

And that is what this most recent intervention on behalf of the yen was all about.  It was about making Japanese exports cheaper.

But who is going to say no to Japan right now?  It is believed that Japan asked the G-7 to do this, and so they did.

Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda told the media the following about this massive intervention in the marketplace by the G-7….

“Given yen moves after the tragic events that hit Japan, the United States, Britain, Canada and the European Central Bank have agreed with Japan to jointly intervene in the currency market.”

So isn’t the Forex supposed to be a free market?

If you still believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

According to Kathleen Brooks, the research director at a major Forex trading firm, it looks like there is a certain level that global authorities simply will not allow the yen to rise to….

“It looks as though global authorities are willing to pull out all of the stops to defend the 80.00 level in dollar/yen.”

The following is the full statement released by the G-7 defending their currency intervention….

Statement of G-7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors

March 18, 2011

We, the G-7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, discussed the recent dramatic events in Japan and were briefed by our Japanese colleagues on the current situation and the economic and financial response put in place by the authorities.

We express our solidarity with the Japanese people in these difficult times, our readiness to provide any needed cooperation and our confidence in the resilience of the Japanese economy and financial sector.

In response to recent movements in the exchange rate of the yen associated with the tragic events in Japan, and at the request of the Japanese authorities, the authorities of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Central Bank will join with Japan, on March 18, 2011, in concerted intervention in exchange markets. As we have long stated, excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates have adverse implications for economic and financial stability. We will monitor exchange markets closely and will cooperate as appropriate.

But it is not just foreign governments and central banks that manipulate financial markets.

If you want to try to make money on the Forex, you had really better know what you are doing, because most “little fish” get swallowed up and spit out.

A number of years ago I actually invested in the Forex and I rapidly learned that it is not a “clean game”.  I discovered that there are industry insiders that openly confess that several of the “big fish” in the industry brazenly “stop hunt” and regularly trade against the positions of their clients.

Not that stock markets around the globe are much better.  It would take thousands of pages just to document the well known cases of stock manipulation and insider trading.

And don’t get me started on the precious metals markets.  As I have written about previously, very compelling evidence of manipulation in those markets has been handed to the U.S. government and they have essentially done next to nothing with that evidence.

Not that people don’t make money in the financial markets.  Some people make a ton of money.  But those people are experts and they know how to survive in a “dirty game”.

If you are an amateur, you really need to think twice before diving too deeply into the financial markets.  If you think that you can jump into the Forex or the U.S. stock market and “get rich quick” you are in for a rude awakening.

The financial markets have become a game that is designed to funnel money to the “sharks” and to the “big boys”.  Once you put your money into the game, the odds are that “the house” is going to win.

For those that still do believe that the financial markets are a good way to build wealth, at least be prudent enough to get some sound financial advice.  There is no shame in having a financial professional invest your money for you.

But it is no guarantee of success either.  The truth is that millions of Americans have experienced a lot of pain in the financial markets over the last few years.

As the global economy becomes even more unstable, the manipulation of the financial markets by governments and by central banks is going to become even more dramatic.

As financial markets around the world crash and rise and crash again a whole lot of people are going to be wiped out financially.

You don’t have to be one of them.

Pissed Off!: 67 Percent Of Americans Are Dissatisfied With The Size And Influence Of Major Corporations

The American people are becoming increasingly angry about the extraordinary amount of power and influence that corporations have in the United States today.  A new Gallup poll found that 67 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the size and influence of major corporations in the United States today.  Not only that, the most recent Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index found that only 26 percent of Americans trust our financial system at this point.  The mainstream media is acting as if this is a new phenomenon, but the truth is that a dislike of giant corporations goes all the way back to the founding of this nation.  Our founders held a deep distrust for all big concentrations of power, and they intended to set up a nation where no one person or no one institution could become too powerful.

Unfortunately, we have very much strayed from those principles.  In the United States today, the federal government completely dominates all other levels of government and mammoth international corporations completely dominate our economy.

If our founding fathers could see what is going on today they would probably roll over in their graves.

The history of the corporation can be traced back to the early part of the 17th century when Queen Elizabeth I established the East India Trading Company.

Our founders were not too fond of the East India Trading Company.  In fact, it was their tea that was dumped into the harbor during the original Boston Tea Party.

In his book entitled “Unequal Protection”, Thom Hartman described the great antipathy that our founders had for the East India Trading Company….

“Trade-dominance by the East India Company aroused the greatest passions of America’s Founders – every schoolboy knows how they dumped the Company’s tea into Boston harbour. At the time in Britain virtually all members of parliament were stockholders, a tenth had made their fortunes through the Company, and the Company funded parliamentary elections generously.”

So a disgust for great concentrations of financial power is built into our national DNA.

Many people today think of giant international corporations as being synonymous with “capitalism”, but that is just not the case.

Our founders envisioned a land where free enterprise could flourish in an environment where no institution held too much power.

So this false left/right debate about whether we should give more power to the government or more power to the corporations is largely a bunch of nonsense.

If the founders were around today they would say that we need to take a lot of power away from both of them.

Fortunately, it looks like the American people are starting to think the same thing.  Not only are the American people dissatisfied with government, they are also becoming increasingly dissatisfied with big corporations.

As mentioned above, according to Gallup two-thirds of Americans are now dissatisfied with the size and influence of major corporations in America today….

As you can see, the gap between those in favor of the size and influence of major corporations and those not in favor has been significantly widening over the past decade.

That is a good thing.

Not only that, but the latest Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index shows that Americans have very little trust in the financial system at this point.

The following are some of the key findings from their most recent report….

*Only 26 percent of Americans trust the nation’s financial system.

*Only 13 percent of Americans trust big corporations.

*Only 16 percent of Americans trust the stock market.

*Only 43 percent of Americans trust the banks.

These numbers are staggering, but they should not be surprising.  The American people were not pleased at all when the major banks and big financial institutions were showered with bailouts during the recent financial crisis.  A lot of that anger is still simmering.

The recent housing collapse, which is still ongoing, was caused in great part by the behavior of the major banks and big financial institutions, but it is the American people which have suffered the most from it.  The following very brief animation from Taiwan demonstrates this very humorously….

The American people are still wondering where their “bailouts” are.  Most of the big banks and big corporations seem to be thriving even while the number of Americans slipping into poverty continues to grow.

According to Calculated Risk, approximately 15 million Americans are unemployed, about 9 million Americans are working part-time for “economic reasons” and approximately 4 million American workers have left the labor force since the beginning of the economic downturn.

When you total that all up, you get 28 million Americans that wish they had full-time jobs.

Ouch.

There are other numbers that are very disturbing as well.  In the month of November, the number of people on food stamps set another new all-time record: 43.6 million Americans.

So we have tens of millions of Americans that can’t get the jobs that they want and we have tens of millions of Americans that can’t feed themselves without government assistance.

No wonder so many people are angry at the big corporations!

The U.S. government has showered the big corporations and the big banks with bailouts, tax breaks and cheap loans and yet the big corporations and the big banks are not coming through for the American people.

Meanwhile, food prices continue to go up.  According to the United Nations food agency, global food prices set another new all-time record during the month of January, and they are expected to continue rising for months to come.

That certainly is not going to ease tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.  When people are not able to pay for the food that they need that tends to make them very, very angry.

For now we are not likely to see food riots in the United States, but as food prices rise all of those food stamp cards are not going to go as far as they used to.  Average American families are going to feel more strain at the supermarket.  There will be less money available for other things.

A key indicator to watch is the price of oil.  The price of oil is one of the key components of the price of food, and if we see the price of oil go up to $120 or $150 a barrel that could mean really bad things for both the U.S. economy and the overall global economy.

If we do see another financial crisis like we did in 2008, is the U.S. government going to rush to bail out the big corporations and the big banks like they did the last time?

As we have seen from the numbers above, that certainly would not sit well with the American people.

Trillions In Secret Fed Bailouts For Global Corporations And Foreign Banks – Has The Federal Reserve Become A Completely Unaccountable Global Bailout Machine?

Has the Federal Reserve become the Central Bank of the World?  That is what some members of Congress are asking after the Federal Reserve revealed the details of 21,000 transactions stretching from December 2007 to July 2010 that totaled more than $3 trillion on Wednesday.  Most of these transactions involved giant loans that were nearly interest-free from the Federal Reserve to some of the largest banks, financial institutions and corporations all over the world.  In fact, it turns out that foreign banks and foreign corporations received a very large share of these bailouts.  So has the Federal Reserve now become a completely unaccountable global bailout machine?  Sadly, the truth is that we would have never learned the details of these bailouts if Congress had not forced this information out of the Fed.  So what other kinds of jaw-dropping details would be revealed by a full audit of the Federal Reserve?

It is important to try to understand exactly what went on here.  Banks and corporations from all over the globe were allowed to borrow gigantic piles of money essentially for free.  Yes, when you are getting interest rates such as 0.25 percent, the money is essentially free.  These loans were not available to everyone.  You or I could not have run over to the Federal Reserve and walked away with tens of billions of dollars in loans that were nearly interest-free.  Rather, it was only the megabanks and megacorporations that are friendly with the Federal Reserve that were able to take advantage of these bailouts.

In this way, the Federal Reserve is now essentially acting like some kind of financial god.  They decide who survives and who fails.  Dozens and dozens and dozens of small to mid-size U.S. banks are failing, but the Federal Reserve does not seem to have much compassion for them.  It is only when the “too big to fail” establishment banks are in trouble that the Federal Reserve starts handing out gigantic sacks of nearly interest-free cash.

Just think about it.  Which financial institution do you think is in a better competitive position – one that must survive on its own, or one that has a “safety net” of nearly unlimited free loans from the Federal Reserve?

Now that is oversimplifying the situation, certainly, but the truth is that the Federal Reserve had fundamentally altered the financial marketplace and is significantly influencing who wins and who loses.

But even more disturbing is what the Federal Reserve is turning into.  This is an institution that is “independent” of the U.S. government, that does not answer to the American people, that controls our money supply and that is just tossing tens of billions of dollars to foreign banks and to foreign corporations whenever it wants to.

In fact, if Congress had not forced the Fed to tell us what was going on with these bailouts we would have never even found out.

The truth is that the Fed is taking incredible risks with “our money” and yet they want to continue to exist in a cloak of almost total secrecy.

In a recent article in the Washington Post, Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher acknowledged that the Federal Reserve played fast and loose with trillions of dollars of our money….

“We took an enormous amount of risk with the people’s money.”

Are you deeply disturbed by that quote?

Well, if not, you should be.

The American people became so infuriated about the bailouts and stimulus packages passed by Congress, but it turns out that they were nothing compared to these Federal Reserve bailouts.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is one of the members of Congress that is now expressing extreme outrage about what the Federal Reserve has done….

“The $700 billion Wall Street bailout turned out to be pocket change compared to trillions and trillions of dollars in near zero interest loans and other financial arrangements that the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution.”

In fact, Senator Sanders was so disgusted by how much of the money went overseas that he was led to make the following remark….

“Has the Federal Reserve become the central bank of the world? I think that is a question that needs to be examined.”

Advocates for the Federal Reserve insist that if all of these foreign banks and foreign corporations were not bailed out the financial crisis would have been much worse.  In fact, they say we should be thankful that the Federal Reserve prevented a total financial collapse.

Well boo-hoo!

If our financial institutions are so fragile that a stiff wind will knock half of them over maybe they need to just fail.

You know what, life is tough.  Nobody is going to cry most of us a river of tears if we lose our jobs.  Most of us have learned to scratch and claw to survive with no safety net underneath us.

So maybe it is time for these big financial institutions to start playing by the same rules the rest of us are playing by.

No, when these “too big to fail” financial institutions get into a little trouble they start whining like a bunch of little babies.

“Give us some big sacks of cash!”

“Waaaaaaah!”

Well guess what?  Most of the rest of us are just not going to have too much sympathy for these big banks from now on.

The following is a list of just a few of the banks, financial institutions and global corporations that received nearly interest-free loans from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis…..

Big U.S. Banks And Financial Institutions

Goldman Sachs
Citibank
JP Morgan Chase
Morgan Stanley
Merrill Lynch
Bank of America
Bear Stearns
Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMCO)

Big Global Corporations

General Electric
Caterpillar
Harley-Davidson
Verizon
McDonald’s
BMW
Toyota

Canadian Banks

Royal Bank of Canada
Toronto-Dominion Bank
Scotiabank

European And Asian Banks

Barclays Capital
Bank of Scotland
Deutsche Bank
Credit Suisse
BNP Paribas
Societe Generale
UBS
Dexia
Bayerische Landesbank
Dresdner Bank
Commerzbank
The Korean Development Bank (South Korea)

But those defending the Federal Reserve will insist that the financial world as we know it would have ended if the Fed had done nothing.

That may well be true.

The entire financial system might have gone down in flames.

But that just proves the main point that this column has been trying to make for months.

An economic collapse is coming.

The Federal Reserve can desperately try to keep all of the balls in the air for as long as it can, but eventually it is inevitable that this entire thing is going to come crashing down.

The fact that the Federal Reserve had to resort to such extreme measures to “save” the financial system just shows how desperate things really are.

We really have reached a “tipping point” for the world financial system.  There is going to be crisis after crisis after crisis and even bigger bailouts are going to be required in the future.

The world financial system is a house of cards built on a foundation of sand.  The Federal Reserve can keep throwing around gigantic sacks of “our money” as much as it wants, but in the end there is nothing that can be done to prevent the inevitable collapse that is coming.

Debt = Money, Money = Debt

Where does money come from?  You would think that question should be so simple that any 10-year-old child could answer it, but that is not the case.  You see, the truth is that the vast majority of American adults cannot even answer that question.  Yet we all use money every day.  Without money our lives would fall apart fairly quickly.  But most of us never stop to think about how it comes into existence.  The truth is that bankers are the source of all money in the United States.  Either the Federal Reserve bankers create it, or individual bankers create it through the mechanism of fractional reserve banking.  In both cases, it is bankers that are creating the money.  In our financial system, the U.S. government cannot print money and no individual citizens are allowed to create money.  Rather, it is the bankers who have a complete and total monopoly on the creation of money in the United States.

Most of the time, any money that is created comes into existence as debt.  Either the U.S. government goes into more debt when it gets more dollars from the Federal Reserve or individual Americans go into more debt when they take out loans from individual banks.

First, let’s examine what happens when the U.S. government gets more money from the Federal Reserve.

Under our current system (which is fundamentally flawed), the U.S. government cannot just fire up the printing presses and print a bunch of dollars if it decides that more money needs to be produced.

Rather, if the U.S. government needs more money it asks the Federal Reserve for it.

So who is the Federal Reserve?  Well, they are actually not part of the U.S. government.  In fact, the Federal Reserve is about as “federal” as Federal Express is.

The Federal Reserve is actually a privately-owned central bank that has been given authority by the U.S. Congress to issues our currency, set our interest rates and essentially run our economy.

All U.S. government debt is created through the Federal Reserve system.

When the government wants more money, the U.S. government swaps U.S. Treasury bonds for “Federal Reserve notes”, thus creating more government debt.  Usually the money isn’t even printed up – most of the time it is just electronically credited to the government.  The Federal Reserve creates these “Federal Reserve notes” out of thin air.  These Federal Reserve notes are backed by nothing and have no intrinsic value of their own.

The Federal Reserve then sells these U.S. Treasury bonds to investors, other nations (such as China) or sometimes they “sell” them back to themselves.  In fact, the Federal Reserve has been gobbling up a whole lot of U.S. Treasuries lately.  Some refer to this as “monetizing the debt”, but that is not quite an accurate statement.

When the Federal Reserve creates money this way, it does not also create the money to pay the interest on the debt that has been created.  Eventually this puts pressure on the U.S. government to borrow even more money to keep the game going.  So what this creates is a spiral where the U.S. government must keep borrowing increasingly larger amounts of money, where the money supply is endlessly expanding and where the value of the U.S. dollar is destined to continue going down forever.

Do you think it is some big mystery why the value of the U.S. dollar has declined over 95 percent since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913?  Just look at what our national debt has been doing over the last 40 years.  It just continues to go up and up and up….

As long as the Federal Reserve system exists, the national debt will keep going up, the money supply will keep going up and the U.S. dollar will continue to decline in value.

This is not because of some big mistake.  This is what the Federal Reserve system was designed to do.  It was designed to trap the U.S. federal government (and by extension all of us) in perpetual debt.

If the U.S. government really wanted to get out of debt it would take back control of our currency from the bankers and would start issuing debt-free money.  But don’t expect that to happen any time soon.

In fact, the Federal Reserve is just getting more powerful and becoming more out of control.  According to data released on Wednesday, over $9 trillion in overnight loans were made by the Federal Reserve to major banks and large financial institutions during the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.

Now, the truth is that this number is inflated because each time one of these loans was “rolled over” it was counted as a new loan by the Fed.  So don’t get too excited about the $9 trillion figure.  But still, the amount of money that the Federal Reserve just whipped up out of thin air and lent out to its friends at extremely low interest rates is absolutely mind blowing.

In 2010, the Federal Reserve has initiated a massive new round of “quantitative easing“, and it is yet another example of how out of control the Federal Reserve is becoming.  So exactly what is quantitative easing?  Well, essentially what happens is the Federal Reserve conjures up gigantic amounts of money out of thin air and uses it to buy up things like U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.  The Fed hopes that by injecting hundreds of billions into the system it will “stimulate” the economy.

Prior to 2008, the Federal Reserve had never been so bold as to print up hundreds of billions of dollars whenever it wants.  But now it seems as though the Federal Reserve is just going to zap hundreds of billions of dollars into existence whenever their friends are in trouble or whenever they feel the economy needs a little “stimulus”.

So can you or I “zap” money into existence?  No, if we print money we go to jail.

Can the U.S. government “zap” money into existence?  No, only the Federal Reserve is allowed to do that.

But most Americans will never understand how this system works.

The second primary way that our money comes into existence is through fractional reserve banking.

According to the New York Federal Reserve Bank, fractional reserve banking can be explained this way….

If the reserve requirement is 10%, for example, a bank that receives a $100 deposit may lend out $90 of that deposit. If the borrower then writes a check to someone who deposits the $90, the bank receiving that deposit can lend out $81. As the process continues, the banking system can expand the initial deposit of $100 into a maximum of $1,000 of money ($100+$90+81+$72.90+…=$1,000).”

This is actually an oversimplification, but let’s roll with it.  Many Americans would be shocked to learn that if we all went down to the bank today and wanted to take our money out, the bank would only be able to satisfy a small fraction of our requests.

The bank does not keep all of your money in the bank.  It lends most of it out.

In fact, any bank can loan out as much money as it wants as long as it keeps enough in reserve to satisfy legal requirements.

Each time a loan is made by a bank, more money is created and more debt is created.

Isn’t this kind of insane?

Well, yes, but at least banks have to maintain a certain amount of discipline by keeping some money in reserve.

Unfortunately, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is on the record as saying that he wants to completely remove all reserve requirements for banks.

Keep in mind that Bernanke is in charge of “running” our economy.

There are a few members of Congress such as Rep. Ron Paul that have tried to hold the Federal Reserve accountable.  The following is an excerpt from remarks that Ron Paul made to Bernanke during a congressional hearing a while back….

“The Federal Reserve in collaboration with the giant banks has created the greatest financial crisis the world has ever seen. The foolish notion that unlimited amounts of money and credit created out of thin air can provide sustainable economic growth has delivered this crisis to us. Instead of economic growth and stable prices, (The Fed) has given us a system of government and finance that now threatens the world financial and political institutions. Pursuing the same policy of excessive spending, debt expansion and monetary inflation can only compound the problems that prevent the required corrections. Doubling the money supply didn’t work, quadrupling it won’t work either.”

Unfortunately, Ron Paul is vastly outnumbered by members of Congress who seem to believe that the Federal Reserve is doing a great job.  In fact, a bill that would have provided for a one-time audit of the Federal Reserve got shot down.  Apparently members of Congress did not think it was a good idea for the American people to be able to get a peek inside the institution that issues our money and runs our economy.

It is time for the American people to wake up.  The borrower always ends up the servant of the lender.  In America today, virtually all of our money comes into existence as debt, nearly all of our major purchases are made with debt, the popping of debt bubbles has caused almost every major financial crisis we have had, our state and local governments are drowning in a sea of debt, and our federal government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.

Any economic system that is based on debt is destined to fail – including ours.  Isn’t it about time to start asking ourselves how we got into this gigantic mess in the first place?

Unfortunately, Americans have been so dumbed-down by our pathetic education system and are so busy gorging themselves on endless amounts of entertainment that they literally have no idea how our system works.

Most people will never wake up until a complete and total economic collapse happens.  By then, it will be far too late.

103 U.S. Banks Have Collapsed So Far In 2010 – Do You Know If Your Bank Will Survive?

Have you ever noticed how almost all U.S. bank closings are now announced over the weekend?  It is almost as if someone wants to keep the increasing number of bank closures out of the news cycle as much as possible.  The Obama administration continues to use phrases like “green shoots” and “economic recovery”, but the truth is that the U.S. banking system is in the middle of a meltdown.  On Friday, federal regulators shut down 7 more banks.  That means that the total number of U.S. bank failures has reached 103 for 2010 so far.  Last year (which was a really bad year for bank closings), we did not break 100 until October.  Of course federal officials promise that “the worst is almost over”, but can we really trust anything that they tell us at this point?

When it comes to the health of the U.S. banking system, the statistical trends certainly do not look promising. 

At the end of 2008, there were 252 U.S. banks on the FDIC’s problem list.

At the end of 2009, there were 702 U.S. banks on the FDIC’s problem list.

About halfway through 2010, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said that 775 banks (approximately 10% of all U.S. banks) were on the problem list.

Does anyone else notice a trend developing?

It is time for everyone in the financial world to admit that the U.S. banking system is dying.

Do you know if your bank if on the problem list?

You might want to go check.

Not that your money is going to suddenly disappear.

Even if your local bank fails, the FDIC will guarantee your bank account, right?

Yes, it will.

But the FDIC is far from healthy at this point.

The FDIC is backing approximately 8,000 U.S. banks that have a total of about $13 trillion in assets with a deposit insurance fund that is pretty close to empty.

Well, actually “empty” is not quite the right word.

It was recently reported that the FDIC’s deposit insurance fund is sitting at negative 20.7 billion dollars.

And the FDIC estimates that the seven bank failures on Friday will reduce the fund by another $431 million.

Ouch.

The truth is that the FDIC is rapidly turning into a gigantic financial black hole.

The red ink just seems to be endless.

The FDIC now estimates that their funds will experience a $60 billion reduction due to additional bank closings between now and 2014.

And to be honest, that figure is way too optimistic.

So who is going to bail the FDIC out?

The same source that bails everyone out.

The U.S. taxpayers.

But isn’t that bad?

Yes, all of these bailouts are going to cause the U.S. national debt to continue to explode, but what else can we do?

Are we just going to shut down the FDIC?

That wouldn’t go over too well with anyone.

No, the truth is that this is the system that we have built.

All the crap flows downhill and ultimately ends up in the laps of U.S. taxpayers.

The bad news is that it looks like large numbers of banks are going to continue to fail.

You see, right now the American people are simply not doing a very good job of paying their bills.

During the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans at U.S. banks that were at least three months past due increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

Just think about that for a moment.

Would you consider 16 in a row to be a trend?

In an economic system built on credit, it is absolutely imperative that most people pay their debts or the whole thing will come crashing down very quickly.

And right now it is undeniable that things are unraveling at a staggering pace.

So who is benefiting from all this?

Well, there is one segment of the banking industry that is actually performing quite nicely in the midst of all of this chaos.

Many of the largest banks in the U.S. have been reporting very large profits as they gobble up larger and larger shares of the U.S. banking market.

In a previous article entitled “Are We About To Witness The Greatest Banking Consolidation In U.S. History?”, we noted the rapidly growing power of America’s megabanks….

Back in 2000, the “Big Four” U.S. banks – Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo – held approximately 22 percent of all deposits in FDIC-insured institutions.  As of June 30th of last year that figure was up to 39 percent.

The Founding Fathers of this country warned us of the danger of big banks getting too much power, but we have not listened to their warnings.

Now we have monolithic global banks that are so immense in size that we seem almost powerless to control them.

In fact, the six biggest banks in the United States (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo) now possess assets equivalent to 60 percent of America’s gross national product.

The truth is that these sharks aren’t shedding any tears when your local banks die off.

Why?

Because they know that many of the customers from the banks that have died will soon come their way.

The reality is that all of the legislation and regulations implemented during the past 30 or 40 years have rigged the game massively in favor of the big global banks.

So dozens upon dozens of smaller banks are going to continue to die and the megabanks are going to continue to eat up increasingly larger portions of market share.

So if you still have money in a small local bank, enjoy it while you can.

From now on, the small bank in America is an endangered species.

The Move Your Money Campaign – Is Taking Our Money Away From The Big Banks The Answer?

Is taking all of our money out of the big banks part of the solution to America’s financial problems?  The truth is that people across the United States are angrier about financial and economic issues than they ever have been in modern history.  It did not sit well with millions upon millions of hard working Americans to watch their tax dollars being used to fund multi-million dollar bonuses at big financial institutions that were just bailed out by the U.S. government.  It made Americans even angrier when these big banks that got the bailouts actually decreased their lending.  It has been the big banks who got the massive government-funded bailouts who have been hoarding their cash, while the local community banks and credit unions that have been serving their customers loyally for generations have been left to die by the feds.  Now the banking industry in the United States is more centralized than ever.  At the end of 2007, the “Big Four” U.S. banks – Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo – held 32 percent of all deposits in FDIC-insured institutions. As of June 30th of last year it was 39 percent.

So are we going to let the big banks swallow the whole pie or are we going to do something about it?

Well, there are some people who are doing something about it. Arianna Huffington and Rob Johnson of the Huffington Post have started “The Move Your Money Campaign” which calls on all Americans to take their money out of these big banks and put it into smaller community banks and credit unions.

So is it working?  A recent Zogby Interactive poll found that 9% of all U.S. adults have already taken some of their business away from big banks as a protest.

The reality is that it is impossible to vote the bankers out of their positions.  So if we want to change the banking system, perhaps the best way is to take our cash away from the bankers.

But will it work?

Are the big banks simply too big and too powerful to even be bothered by a protest of this nature?

Perhaps, but nothing great was ever accomplished by not trying.

When they began this campaign at the end of last year, Arianna Huffington and Rob Johnson described their reasoning this way….

The big banks on Wall Street, propped up by taxpayer money and government guarantees, have had a record year, making record profits while returning to the highly leveraged activities that brought our economy to the brink of disaster. In a slap in the face to taxpayers, they have also cut back on the money they are lending, even though the need to get credit flowing again was one of the main points used in selling the public the bank bailout. But since April, JP Morgan/Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo — all of which took billions in taxpayer money — have cut lending to businesses by $100 billion.

Meanwhile, America’s Main Street community banks — the vast majority of which avoided the banquet of greed and corruption that created the toxic economic swamp we are still fighting to get ourselves out of — are struggling. Many of them have closed down (or been taken over by the FDIC) over the last 12 months. The government policy of protecting the Too Big and Politically Connected to Fail is badly hurting the small banks, which are having a much harder time competing in the financial marketplace. As a result, a system which was already dangerously concentrated at the top has only become more so.

How else are we going to hold these bankers accountable?  They have abused us and have abused the entire financial system, so they do not deserve our business any longer.

To promote The Move Your Money Campaign, filmmaker/author Eugene Jarecki produced the stirring YouTube video posted below.  This video makes it exceedingly clear why we all need to start boycotting the big banks immediately…..

Please share this video with all of your friends and family.  The reality is that the U.S. government has made it abundantly clear that the big banks are “too big to fail” and will always get bailed out, while all of the small banks and credit unions will be allowed to die and their assets will be divided up by the sharks.

If that does not sound like a good plan to you, then do something about it.

Pull your money out of the big banks.

Encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Otherwise the banking system of the United States will soon be concentrated in the hands of just a few and then we will all pay the price.

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The Economic Collapse