QE3: Helicopter Ben Bernanke Unleashes An All-Out Attack On The U.S. Dollar

You can’t accuse Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke of not living up to his nickname.  Back in 2002, Bernanke delivered a speech entitled “Deflation: Making Sure ‘It’ Doesn’t Happen Here” in which he referenced a statement by economist Milton Friedman about fighting deflation by dropping money from a helicopter.  Well, it might be time for a new nickname for Bernanke because what he did today was a lot more than drop money from a helicopter.  Today the Federal Reserve announced that QE3 will begin on Friday, but it is going to be much different from QE1 and QE2.  Both of those rounds of quantitative easing were of limited duration.  This time, the quantitative easing is going to be open-ended.  The Fed is going to buy 40 billion dollars worth of mortgage-backed securities per month until they have decided that the economy is in good enough shape to stop.  For those that get confused by terms like “quantitative easing” and “mortgage-backed securities”, what the Federal Reserve is essentially saying is this: “We’re going to print a bunch of money and buy stuff for as long as we feel it is necessary.”  In addition, the Federal Reserve has promised to keep interest rates at ultra-low levels all the way through mid-2015.  The course that the Federal Reserve has set us on is utter insanity.  Ben Bernanke can rain money down on us all he wants, but it is not going to do much at all to help the real economy.  However, it will definitely hasten the destruction of the U.S. dollar.

And the Federal Reserve is apparently very eager to get QE3 going.  Purchases of mortgage-backed securities are going to start on Friday.

In the coming months, hundreds of billions of dollars that the Federal Reserve has zapped into existence out of nothing will be injected into our financial system.

So what will happen to all of this new money?

If banks and financial institutions use that money to make loans then it could have somewhat of a positive impact on the economy in the short-term.

However, the truth is that it isn’t as if banks are hurting for cash to loan out.  In fact, right now banks are already sitting on $1.6 trillion in excess reserves.  Just like with the first two rounds of quantitative easing, a lot of the money from QE3 will likely end up being put on the shelf.

But the stock market loved the news because they know that the previous two rounds of quantitative easing have been great for the financial markets.  On Thursday, the stock market soared to levels not seen since December 2007.

There is much rejoicing on Wall Street right now.

And this stock market bounce is great for Bernanke’s good buddy Barack Obama.

Obama nominated Bernanke to a second term as Fed Chairman, and this might be Bernanke’s way of paying him back.

But of course the Fed is supposed to be “above politics” so that would never happen, right?

The Federal Reserve essentially “crossed the Rubicon” today.  No longer will quantitative easing be considered an “emergency measure”.  Rather, it will now be considered just another “tool” that the Fed uses in the normal course of business.

Considering how vulnerable the U.S. dollar already is, announcing an “open-ended” round of quantitative easing is utter foolishness.  According to the Fed, when you add the 40 billion dollars of new mortgage-backed security purchases per month to all of the other “easing” measures the Fed is continuing to do, the grand total is going to come to about 85 billion dollars a month.  The following is from the statement that the Fed released earlier today….

To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee agreed today to increase policy accommodation by purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month. The Committee also will continue through the end of the year its program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities as announced in June, and it is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities. These actions, which together will increase the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities by about $85 billion each month through the end of the year, should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative.

The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months. If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the Committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability. In determining the size, pace, and composition of its asset purchases, the Committee will, as always, take appropriate account of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases.

So what does all of this mean?

I really like how one analyst put it when he described this announcement as a “I’m gonna ease till your eyes bleed kinda statement“.

The Fed also promised to keep interest rates at “exceptionally low levels” until mid-2015….

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens. In particular, the Committee also decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate are likely to be warranted at least through mid-2015.

It seems that whenever the U.S. economy gets into trouble, Bernanke and his friends at the Fed only have one prescription and it goes something like this….

“Print more money and promise to keep interest rates near zero even longer.”

Of course a lot of Republicans are quite disturbed that QE3 was announced with just a couple of months remaining in a very heated election battle.

Even big news organizations such as CNBC are commenting on this….

Though the Fed is ostensibly politically independent, the decision comes at a ticklish time with the presidential election less than two months away.

And without a doubt the mainstream media will be proclaiming this to be “good news” for the economy in the short-term.

But is QE3 really going to help the average person on the street?

Well, first let’s take a look at employment.  We are told that one of the primary reasons for QE3 is jobs.

But did QE1 and QE2 create jobs?

The answer is clearly no.

As you can see from the chart below, the percentage of working age Americans with a job fell dramatically during the last recession and has not bounced back since that time despite all of the quantitative easing that has been done already….

So why try the same thing again when it did not work the first two times?

But what more quantitative easing is likely to do is to pump up stock market values because a lot of the money from QE3 is going to end up being put into stocks and other investments.

This is going to help the wealthy get even wealthier, and it is going to make the “wealth gap” between the rich and the poor even larger in America.

QE3 is also probably going to cause commodity prices to rise just like QE1 and QE2 did.

That means that you will be paying more for gasoline, food and other basic necessities.

So there may not be more jobs, but at least you will get the privilege of paying more for things.

The inflation that QE3 will cause will be particularly cruel for those on fixed incomes such as retirees.

None of the extra money from QE3 is going to go into their pockets, but they will have to pay more to heat their homes and fill up their shopping carts.

And the “exceptionally low interest rate” policy of the Federal Reserve is absolutely devastating for those that have saved for retirement and that are relying on interest income for their living expenses.

In short, quantitative easing is very good for the wealthy and it is very bad for the average man and woman on the street.

But what else would you expect from the Federal Reserve?

It is imperative that we educate the American people about the Federal Reserve and about how they are destroying our economy.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “10 Things That Every American Should Know About The Federal Reserve“.

Perhaps the biggest danger from QE3 is that it could greatly hasten the day when the U.S. dollar ceases to be the reserve currency of the world.

The rest of the world is not stupid.  They see that the Federal Reserve is now firing up the printing presses whenever they feel like it.  They can see the games that we are playing with our currency.

Why should the rest of the world continue to use the U.S. dollar to trade with one another when the United States is constantly debasing it and playing games with its value?

As I wrote about the other day, China and Russia have been calling for a new reserve currency for the world for several years.  They have been leading the charge to conduct international trade in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, and I have documented many of the major international agreements to move away from the U.S. dollar that have been made in the last couple of years.

The status of the U.S. dollar in the world has already been steadily slipping, and now Helicopter Ben Bernanke pulls this kind of nonsense.

We are handing the rest of the world an excuse to abandon the U.S. dollar on a silver platter.

And when the rest of the globe rejects the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency, the dollar will crash, the cost of living will increase dramatically, our standard of living will go way down and we will never fully recover from it.

So if you think that things are “bad” now, just wait until that happens.

The U.S. dollar is one of the best things that the U.S. economy still has going for it, and Helicopter Ben Bernanke is doing his best to absolutely destroy that.

What is your opinion of QE3?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

Is There Going To Be A Stock Market Crash In The Fall?

Is the stock market going to crash by the end of this year?  Are we on the verge of major financial chaos on a global scale? Well, this is the time of the year when investors start getting nervous.  We all remember what happened during the fall of 1929, the fall of 1987 and the fall of 2008.  However, it is important to keep in mind that we do not see a stock market crash in the fall of every year.  Some years the stock market cruises through the months of September, October, November and December without any problems whatsoever.  But this year conditions certainly seem to be right for a “perfect storm” to develop.  Technical indicators are screaming that a stock market decline is imminent and sources in the financial industry all over the world are warning that a massive crisis is on the way.  What you are about to read should alarm you.  But it is not a guarantee that anything will or will not happen.  When Ben Bernanke gives his speech at the Jackson Hole summit on Friday he could announce to the rest of the world that the Federal Reserve has decided to launch QE3 and that the Fed will be printing up trillions of new dollars.  If that happened global financial markets would leap for joy.  So it is always a dangerous thing when anyone out there tries to tell you that they can “guarantee” what is about to happen in the financial world.  There are just so many moving parts.  But if we do not see major intervention by the governments of the world or by global central banks a major financial crisis could rapidly develop this fall.  The conditions are certainly right for a stock market collapse, and we could easily see a repeat of what happened back in 2008.

The truth is that the second half of 2012 looks a little bit more like the second half of 2008 with each passing day.

Just check out what Bob Janjuah of Nomura Securities has been saying….

Based on the reasons set out earlier and also covered in my two prior notes, over the August to November period I am looking for the S&P500 to trade off down from around 1400 to 1100/1000 – in other words, I expect over the next four months to see global equity markets fall by 20% to 25% from current levels and to trade at or below the lows of 2011! US equity markets, along with parts of the EM spectrum, will I think underperform eurozone equity markets, where already very little hope resides.

Others are issuing similar warnings.  For example, the following is what a couple of Bank of America analysts said in a report the other day….

Our strategists see an unusually high number of macro catalysts over the next 3-6 months that could take markets lower. We expect economic growth to disappoint in the second half of the year in anticipation of the fiscal cliff. This would exacerbate any slowdown from the deepening recession in Europe and decelerating growth in emerging markets. There is also the ongoing tension in the Middle East, the potential for a US credit downgrade and accelerating downward analyst estimate revisions. To top it off, September is seasonally the weakest month of the year for stock price returns.

There has been an unusual amount of chatter in the financial world about the September to December time frame.

That could mean something or it could mean nothing.

But is is very interesting to watch what some top financial insiders are doing with their stocks right now.

Dennis Gartman, the publisher of the Gartman Leter, has dumped all of his stocks at this point.

As I have written about previously, George Soros has dumped all of his stock in banking giants JP Morgan, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Are they just being paranoid?

Or do they know something that we do not?

If you are looking for the next “Lehman Brothers moment” in the United States, you might want to watch Morgan Stanley.  Morgan Stanley was heavily involved in the Facebook IPO disaster, earlier this year their credit rating was downgraded, and now there are persistent rumors that Morgan Stanley is in big trouble and that it will be allowed to fail.  You can check out some of these rumors for yourself here, here and here.

But of course as I have said all along the center of the coming crisis is going to be in Europe, and many analysts agree with me.  For example, the following is what the chairman of Casey Research, Doug Casey, had to say during a recent interview….

Europe is a full cycle ahead of the U.S. Its governments and its banks are both bankrupt. It’s a couple of drunks standing on the street corner holding each other up at this point. Europe is in much worse shape than the U.S. It’s highly regulated, highly taxed and much more socially unstable.

Europe is going to be the epicenter of the coming storm. Japan is waiting in the wings, as is China. This is going to be a worldwide phenomenon. Of course, the U.S. will be in it, too. We’re going to see this all over the world.

Much of southern Europe is already experiencing depression-like conditions.  Unemployment in both Greece and Spain is well above 20 percent and both economies are steadily shrinking.

Money is flowing out of Spanish banks at an unprecedented rate right now.  Just take a look at these charts.  The only thing that is going to keep the Spanish banking system from totally collapsing is outside intervention.

But the truth is that all of Europe is in big trouble.  Even German companies are slashing job right now. For example, check out what Siemens is up to….

German engineering conglomerate Siemens (SIEGn.DE) is in early internal talks to cut thousands of jobs in response to a weakening economy, particularly in Europe, a German newspaper reported.

Decisions could be made in October or November, according to daily Boersen-Zeitung, which did not specify its sources.

A Siemens spokesman declined to comment.

We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and at some point that bubble is going to burst in a very messy way.

It is vital that people understand that our system is not even close to sustainable.

Knowing exactly when it will collapse is not nearly as important as understanding that a collapse is absolutely inevitable.

I think what former World Bank economist Richard Duncan had to say recently is very helpful….

“The explosion in credit drove economic growth in the U.S. and around the world, and now that’s the only thing that’s keeping us from collapsing in a debt/deflation spiral,” he said. “[What] I think everybody needs to understand is that the kind of economy that we have now, it’s not capitalism. It has very little in common with capitalism. Capitalism was an economic system in which the government played very little role …. Under capitalism, gold was money and the government had nothing to do with it. Now the central bank creates the money and manipulates its value.”

And he is very right.

We aren’t seeing a failure of capitalism.

What we are witnessing is the failure of debt-based central banking.

And if you think that the global elite are not aware of what is happening then you have not been paying attention.

This summer the global elite have been preparing very hard.  Either they are getting very paranoid or they know things that we do not.

If you want to catch up on what the global elite have been up to recently, check out these three articles that I have published previously….

-“Are The Government And The Big Banks Quietly Preparing For An Imminent Financial Collapse?

-“Startling Evidence That Central Banks And Wall Street Insiders Are Rapidly Preparing For Something BIG

-“Jacob Rothschild, John Paulson And George Soros Are All Betting That Financial Disaster Is Coming

If you are waiting for the nightly news to tell you what to do, then you have not learned anything.

Did anyone in the mainstream media warn you about what was about to happen back in 2008?

Of course not.

The “authorities” insisted that everything was going to be just fine and many average Americans were absolutely wiped out.

So don’t expect someone to come along and nicely inform you that your retirement savings are about to be absolutely devastated.

In this day and age it is absolutely critical for people to learn to think for themselves.

Barack Obama is not going to save you.

Mitt Romney is not going to save you.

The U.S. Congress is not going to save you.  They are too busy living the high life at taxpayer expense.

The system is not looking out for you.  Nobody is really going to care if your financial planning gets turned upside down.  This is a cold, cruel world and you need to understand how the game is played.  The financial insiders are looking out for themselves and most of them usually are able to avoid financial disaster.

Average folks like you and I are normally not so fortunate.

There are lots of warning signs that indicate that this fall could be a very turbulent time for global financial markets.

Ignore them at your own peril.

The Audit The Fed Bill Gets Passed By The House But Obama And The Democrats Are Going To Kill It

On Wednesday, Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve was overwhelmingly passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.  The vote was 327 to 98.  You would think that a bill with such overwhelming support would easily become law.  But it won’t, because Barack Obama and the Democrats plan to kill it.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already said that the Senate will not even consider the bill.  But of course if Barack Obama called Harry Reid and told him that he wants this bill to get through the Senate so that he could sign it then Harry Reid would be singing a much different tune.  Sadly, we all know that is not going to happen.  Barack Obama’s good buddy Ben Bernanke called the Audit the Fed bill a “nightmare scenario” last week, and Obama is certainly not going to do anything to upset Bernanke – especially this close to the election.  Obama needs Bernanke to do everything that he possibly can to stimulate the economy so that Obama will look as good as possible in November.  The sad truth is that there is absolutely no chance that the Audit the Fed bill will become law and that is a crying shame.

So why is an audit of the Federal Reserve so important?

Why does Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke consider an audit of the Federal Reserve to be a “nightmare scenario” that must be avoided at all costs?

Well, perhaps it is because there has never been a true comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve since it was created back in 1913.

The Federal Reserve has more power over the economy than anyone else in the country does, and yet they are virtually unaccountable and the American people have very little idea what has been going on behind closed doors over at the Fed for the past 100 years.

A very limited audit of the Fed that was passed a couple of years ago that examined transactions during the last financial crisis discovered that the Federal Reserve had actually loaned out more than 16 trillion dollars in nearly interest-free money to the “too big to fail” banks between 2007 and 2010.

Keep in mind that U.S. GDP for the entire year of 2011 was only slightly more than 15 trillion dollars.

The Federal Reserve loaned out trillions upon trillions of dollars to their friends and never told the American people about it.

Whoa.

You would think that Congress would be quite eager to see what else has been going on over at the Federal Reserve.

But instead, many Democrats are completely and utterly opposed to auditing the Fed any further.

U.S. Representative Barney Frank (a Democrat) seemed to regard the bill as a joke even after it overwhelmingly passed in the House.  Frank stated that “nobody here thinks this will ever become law“.

According to Politico, there is zero chance that the bill will get through the U.S. Senate….

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said the Senate will not consider the bill, effectively killing its chances of becoming law.

But we all know that if Obama wanted this bill to become law that it would be a done deal.

If Barack Obama came out tomorrow in front of the television cameras and declared his support for this bill it would sail right through the Senate.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration has made it very clear that it considers a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve to be a really, really bad idea.

For example, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner once stated that auditing the Fed is a “line that we don’t want to cross” and that if we did audit the Fed it would be “problematic for the country”.

So what exactly did he mean by that?

That is a very good question.

In any event, people should take this as an opportunity to confront Barack Obama about the Audit the Fed bill wherever he goes.

Perhaps Obama will prove me wrong.

Perhaps Obama will show that he is willing to stand up to the Federal Reserve.

In fact, if Obama gets this bill pushed through Congress and signs it into law, I will not criticize him for an entire month.

But we all know that will never happen.

The Federal Reserve is going to be able to continue to keep their secrets hidden from the American people.

The following is what Ron Paul had to say following the vote on Wednesday….

“I think the whole idea that they can deal in trillions of dollars and know that nobody is allowed to ask them a question is a moral hazard.”

And Ron Paul is right.

If the Federal Reserve can zap trillions of dollars into existence out of thin air and loan that money to their friends at the big banks and to central banks in other countries, then it should not be too much to ask them to be accountable to the American people.

Over the coming months, the American people will heatedly debate whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney would be better for the U.S. economy.

But the truth is that the Federal Reserve has far more power over the U.S. economy than the president of the United States does.

The Federal Reserve has been called the “fourth branch of government” because of how much power it has.  The Federal Reserve sets our interest rates, it determines the level of our money supply, it regulates and secretly bails out our banks, it determines the “target rates” for unemployment and inflation, and every small move the Fed makes causes global financial markets to swing wildly.

The Federal Reserve does all of this without ever having to be accountable to the American people.  In fact, whenever a bill is introduced that would shed some light on their activities they whine and cry about how important their “independence” is.

In a previous article, I described how preposterous this all is….

For a moment, imagine that there is a privately-owned organization in the United States that can create U.S. dollars out of thin air whenever it wants and can loan that money to whoever it wants to.  Imagine that this organization is able to act with the full power of the U.S. government behind it, but that nobody in the organization is ever elected by the American people, and that for all practical purposes the organization is not accountable to the president or to Congress.  Imagine that the organization is able to make trillions of dollars of secret loans to banks, to foreign governments and even to their close friends without ever having to face a comprehensive audit.  Does that sound preposterous?  Well, such an organization actually exists.

The American people need to stand up and demand an audit of the Federal Reserve.

We deserve to know what is going on over there.

Sadly, the mainstream media makes it sound as if hell has a better chance of freezing over than this bill does of becoming law.  The following is from a USA Today article that was posted on Wednesday….

The bill stands no chance of becoming law because the Democratic-controlled Senate will not take it up. The vote, however, served as a symbolic swan song for Paul, who is not seeking re-election. It is also an indicator of how Paul’s economic views have gone more mainstream, particularly within the Republican Party, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis that shook Americans’ confidence in Wall Street and the federal government.

Well, let us hope that this kind of a bill keeps getting introduced in Congress.

Perhaps someday we actually will get a real audit of the Federal Reserve.

When that happens, the following is a list of questions that I would like to see asked by those auditing the Fed….

If the Federal Reserve is supposed to prevent shocks to our economy, then why have there been 10 different economic recessions since 1950 and why are we about to enter another one?

Was the Federal Reserve involved in the manipulation of Libor?

What role did the Federal Reserve play in creating the housing bubble that resulted in an unprecedented housing crash?

Why has the value of the U.S. dollar fallen by 83 percent since 1970?

Why is the Federal Reserve paying U.S. banks not to lend money?

Why did Barack Obama nominate Ben Bernanke for a second term as head of the Federal Reserve when Bernanke has a track record of failure that makes the Chicago Cubs look like a roaring success?

Why is the U.S. national debt more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created in 1913?

Why were the Federal Reserve and the personal income tax both pushed through Congress in the same year in 1913?

Why does the Federal Reserve argue that it is “not an agency” of the federal government in court?

Why do all 187 nations that belong to the IMF have a central bank?

Do you have any other questions that you would like to have asked during an audit of the Federal Reserve?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

Tony Robbins, Ron Paul And Ben Bernanke All Agree: The National Debt Crisis Could Destroy America

Is there one thing that Tony Robbins, Ron Paul and Ben Bernanke can all agree on?  Yes, there actually is.  Recently they have all come forward with warnings that the national debt crisis could destroy America if something is not done.  Unfortunately, our politicians continue to spend us into oblivion as if there will never be any consequences.  When Barack Obama took office, the U.S. national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars.  Today, it is 15.6 trillion dollars and it is rising at the rate of about 150 million dollars an hour.  During the Obama administration so far, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from 1776 to 1995.  The United States now has a debt to GDP ratio of over 100 percent, and another credit rating agency downgraded U.S. debt earlier this month.  Any talk of a positive economic future is utter nonsense as long as we are bleeding red ink as a nation far faster than we ever have before.  It is absolutely immoral to wreck the financial future of our children and our grandchildren and to leave them with a bill for the greatest mountain of debt in the history of the world, but that is exactly what we are doing.  Unless our current debt-based financial system is thrown out, there are only two ways that this game is going to play out.  One would involve absolutely bitter austerity and deflation unlike anything ever seen before, and the other would involve nightmarish hyperinflation.  Either path would be hellish beyond what most Americans could possibly imagine.

Unfortunately, we are running out of time as a nation.  You know that things are late in the game when the head of the Federal Reserve starts using apocalyptic language to talk about the national debt.  The following is what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress recently….

Having a large and increasing level of government debt relative to national income runs the risk of serious economic consequences. Over the longer term, the current trajectory of federal debt threatens to crowd out private capital formation and thus reduce productivity growth. To the extent that increasing debt is financed by borrowing from abroad, a growing share of our future income would be devoted to interest payments on foreign-held federal debt. High levels of debt also impair the ability of policymakers to respond effectively to future economic shocks and other adverse events.

Even the prospect of unsustainable deficits has costs, including an increased possibility of a sudden fiscal crisis. As we have seen in a number of countries recently, interest rates can soar quickly if investors lose confidence in the ability of a government to manage its fiscal policy. Although historical experience and economic theory do not indicate the exact threshold at which the perceived risks associated with the U.S. public debt would increase markedly, we can be sure that, without corrective action, our fiscal trajectory will move the nation ever closer to that point.

The sick thing about this is that the Federal Reserve system is actually designed to generate government debt.  The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.  So it is kind of ironic that the head of the organization that was designed to perpetually generate U.S. government debt is now warning that there is too much of it.

But Ben Bernanke is far from alone in warning about the danger of our exploding national debt.

For example, world famous motivational speaker Tony Robbins is also warning that the national debt crisis could destroy our future.

These days, most people throw around the phrase “a trillion dollars” without ever really grasping what it means.

In the video posted below, Tony Robbins uses a fun illustration to help put in perspective how large a “trillion dollars” really is.

If you had a million seconds to do something, would you consider that to be a long time?

Well, it turns out that a million seconds is only about 12 days.

What about a billion seconds?  Is that a long period of time?

Well, yes, a billion seconds is close to 32 years.  So that is definitely a lot longer than a million seconds.

What about a trillion seconds?

How long do you think that is?

Well, a trillion seconds is about 31,688 years.

So when we talk about how the U.S. government is stealing more than a trillion dollars from future generations every single year, we are talking about an absolutely massive amount of money.

The Tony Robbins video about the national debt crisis posted below has started to go viral all over the Internet.  If you have not seen it yet, I definitely recommend taking a few minutes to watch it….

So why are our politicians not doing anything about the U.S. debt crisis?

Well, it is because most of them value getting elected over and over again above doing what is right for future generations.

For the past four decades, the United States has been enjoying a 15 trillion dollar party.  All of this borrowed money has enabled us to live far, far beyond our means.

If our politicians voted to severely cut spending or to raise taxes dramatically at this point, our economy would suddenly readjust to a more realistic standard of living.  But that would be extremely painful and most Americans voters would be absolutely furious.  They would demand that someone “fix” the economy immediately.  But the truth is that what we have been enjoying all these years has not been real.  It has been bought with trillions of dollars stolen from future generations.  But most of our politicians just want to keep the party rolling as long as humanly possible so that they can keep getting voted back into office.

Fortunately, there are a few politicians that are willing to stand up and tell the truth about our national debt crisis.  For example, in the video posted below Ron Paul scolds the rest of Congress for continuing to vote for debt limit increase after debt limit increase….

Unfortunately, the American people seem to prefer politicians that endlessly lie to them about how bad things really are.

For example, back at the beginning of the Bush administration we were promised that we would be swimming in gigantic surpluses by now.

That didn’t exactly work out, now did it?

Barack Obama promised us that he would cut the size of the federal budget deficit in half by the end of his first term.

Well, guess what?

He lied too.

Things just continue to get worse and worse.

Since 1975, we have added more than 15 trillion dollars to the national debt.  In fact, the U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

A lot of talking heads on television continue to assure us that everything is going to be okay, but the truth is that we are about to experience some absolutely devastating consequences for decades of really bad decisions.

For example, the rest of the world is rapidly losing faith in our currency and the reign of the U.S. dollar as the primary world reserve currency is in serious danger of coming to an end.  When that happens, gasoline, food and just about everything else that you buy is going to be a lot more expensive.

Already, there are very ominous signs that the rest of the world is getting tired of financing our endless spending.  In 2011, the Federal Reserve bought approximately 61 percent of all new government debt issued by the U.S. Treasury Department.  This is not supposed to happen.  The Federal Reserve is not supposed to be monetizing our debt and this is something that Congress should be looking into.

Also, at this time of the year people love to complain about the outrageous amount of taxes that most hard working Americans have to pay, but the truth is that eventually it will likely get a whole lot worse.

Just look at Greece.  Taxes in Greece have been raised to suffocating levels, government spending has been slashed to the bone and yet they are still running up more debt.

That is going to happen in the United States at some point too, especially if our leaders choose the path of austerity and deflation.

You can’t hide from debt forever.

Have you ever run up debt on a credit card?

A lot of us did that when we were young and foolish, and it can be a lot of fun on the way up.

But eventually a day of reckoning comes and it is extremely painful to find yourself drowning in credit card debt.

Well, we are rapidly approaching our credit limit as a nation.

Some hard choices will have to be made, and there will be a lot of pain.

The false prosperity that we are enjoying now is going to disappear.

Now is the time to prepare for the massive economic shift that is coming.  In the coming economic environment, those that are currently living month to month and those that are 100% dependent on the system are going to be in a huge amount of trouble.

Instead of wildly spending money as if the good times will never end like most Americans are, now is the time to get out of debt, to become more self-sufficient and to set aside the money, resources and supplies you will need to weather the storm that is rapidly approaching.

Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that a gigantic economic collapse is coming.

Use the time that you still have left to prepare the best that you can.

Ben Bernanke Tries To Convince America That The Federal Reserve Is Good And The Gold Standard Is Bad

Ben Bernanke has decided that he needs to teach all of us why the Federal Reserve is good for America and about why the gold standard is bad.  On Tuesday, Bernanke delivered the first of four planned lectures to a group of students at George Washington University.  But that lecture was not just for the benefit of those students.  Officials at the Fed have long planned for this lecture series to be an opportunity for Bernanke to “educate” the American people about the Federal Reserve.  The classroom was absolutely packed with reporters and just about every major news organization is running a story about this first lecture.  So the Federal Reserve is definitely getting the publicity that it was hoping for.  You can see the slides from the presentation that Bernanke gave to the students right here.  It is pretty obvious that one of the primary goals of this first lecture was to attack those that have been critical of the Fed over the past few years.  In doing so, Bernanke “stretched” the truth on more than one occasion.

The entire event was staged to make Bernanke and the Federal Reserve look as good as possible.  Prior to his arrival, the students gathered for the lecture were actually instructed to applaud Bernanke….

The 30 undergraduates at George Washington University sent up a round of applause. It was, they’d been told beforehand, “appropriate, even encouraged, to politely applaud” Tuesday’s guest lecturer.

But as noted above, this lecture was not for the benefit of those students.  A USA Today article even admitted that “addressing the public directly” was one of the real goals of this lecture….

For Bernanke, the GW lectures serve a dual function:

They give him a chance to reprise the role of professor he played for more than two decades, first at Stanford and then at Princeton, where he eventually chaired the economics department.

And they give him a way to expand his mission of demystifying the Fed. As part of that campaign, Bernanke became the first Fed chief to hold regular news conferences and conduct town-hall meetings.

In addressing the public directly, Bernanke has also sought to neutralize attacks on the Fed, some of them from Republican presidential candidates.

So what did Bernanke actually say during the lecture?

Well, you can read all of the slides right here, but the following are some of the highlights….

On page 6 of the presentation, Bernanke makes the following claim….

“A central bank is not an ordinary commercial bank, but a government agency.”

Well, that is quite interesting considering the fact that the Federal Reserve has argued in court that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is not an agency of the federal government and that the various Federal Reserve banks around the country are private corporations with private funding.

So did the Federal Reserve lie to the court or is Ben Bernanke lying to us?

And what other “agency” of the federal government is owned by private banks?

It is even admitted that the individual member banks own shares of stock in the various Federal Reserve banks on the Federal Reserve website….

The twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized much like private corporations–possibly leading to some confusion about “ownership.” For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.

The Federal Reserve always talks about how it must be “independent” and “above politics”, but when they start getting criticized they always want to seek shelter under the wing of the federal government.

It really is disgusting.

On page 7 of the presentation, the following statement is made….

“All central banks strive for low and stable inflation; most also try to promote stable growth in output and employment.”

Well, on both counts the Federal Reserve has failed miserably.

Right now, if inflation was measured the same way that it was back in 1980, the annual rate of inflation would be more than 10 percent.

And when you take a longer view of things, the inflation that the Federal Reserve has manufactured has been absolutely horrific.

Even using the doctored inflation numbers that the Federal Reserve gives us, the U.S. dollar has still lost 83 percent of its value since 1970.

The truth is that inflation is a “hidden tax” that is constantly destroying the value of every single dollar that you and I hold.  Those that attempt to save money for the future or for retirement are deeply penalized under such a system.

As far as employment goes, the total number of workers that are “officially” unemployed in the United States is larger than the entire population of Portugal.

The average duration of unemployment is hovering near an all-time record high and almost every measure of government dependence is at an all-time record high.

So the Federal Reserve is failing at the exact things that Bernanke claims that it is supposed to be doing.

But instead of directly addressing many of the specific criticisms that have been leveled at the Fed, Bernanke instead chose to spend much of his lecture talking about the problems with adopting a gold standard.  The following are statements that were pulled directly off of the slides he used during his speech….

-“The gold standard sets the money supply and price level generally with limited central bank intervention.”

-“The strength of a gold standard is its greatest weakness too: Because the money supply is determined by the supply of gold, it cannot be adjusted in response to changing economic conditions.”

-“All countries on the gold standard are forced to maintain fixed exchange rates. As a result, the effects of bad policies in one country can be transmitted to other countries if both are on the gold standard.”

-“If not perfectly credible, a gold standard is subject to speculative attack and ultimate collapse as people try to exchange paper money for gold.”

-“The gold standard did not prevent frequent financial panics.”

-“Although the gold standard promoted price stability over the very long run, over the medium run it sometimes caused periods of inflation and deflation.”

-“In the second half of the 19th century, a global shortage of gold reduced the U.S. money supply and caused deflation (falling prices). Farmers were squeezed between declining prices for crops and the fixed dollar payments for their mortgages and other debts.”

Bernanke spent more time on the gold standard during his speech than on anything else.  At one point during the lecture, Bernanke made the following statement….

“To have a gold standard, you have to go to South Africa or someplace and dig up tons of gold and move  it to New York and put it in the basement of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and that’s a lot of effort and work”

Bernanke even blamed the gold standard for the Great Depression.  On a slide entitled “Monetary Policy in the Great Depression”, Bernanke made the following claims….

•The Fed’s tight monetary policy led to sharply falling prices and steep declines in output and employment.
•The effects of policy errors here and abroad were transmitted globally through the gold standard.
•The Fed kept money tight in part because it wanted to preserve the gold standard. When FDR abandoned the gold standard in 1933, monetary policy became less tight and deflation stopped.

Bernanke seems to want to frame the debate over monetary policy is such a way that the American people are given only two alternative systems to consider: the Federal Reserve and a gold standard.

But the truth is that there are a vast array of both “hard money” and “soft money” systems that would not include a central bank or a gold standard at all.

So the truth is that the American people would have many different systems to choose from if they wanted to shut down the Federal Reserve and set up something new.

In the past the U.S. government has issued debt-free money and it could certainly do so again.

But in his lecture, Bernanke did not even mention how the Federal Reserve creates money or how whenever new money is created more debt is created.

Under the Federal Reserve system, the money supply is designed to continually increase, and whenever more money is created more debt is also created.

In a previous article I discussed how more money is created on the federal level….

For example, whenever the U.S. government wants to spend more money than it takes in (which happens constantly), it has to go ask the Federal Reserve for it.  The federal government gives U.S. Treasury bonds to the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Reserve gives the U.S. government “Federal Reserve Notes” in return.  Usually this is just done electronically.

So where does the Federal Reserve get the Federal Reserve Notes?

It just creates them out of thin air.

Wouldn’t you like to be able to create money out of thin air?

Instead of issuing money directly, the U.S. government lets the Federal Reserve create it out of thin air and then the U.S. government borrows it.

Talk about stupid.

The designers of the Federal Reserve system intended to trap the U.S. government in a debt spiral that would expand perpetually.

So has their design worked?

Well, just look at the chart below….

Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

So I guess you could say that the results have been spectacular.

The Federal Reserve system also greatly favors the big Wall Street banks that it is designed to serve.

When those big banks get into trouble, the Federal Reserve snaps into action.

According to a limited GAO audit of Fed transactions during the last financial crisis, $16.1 trillion in secret loans were made by the Federal Reserve to the big Wall Street banks between December 1, 2007 and July 21, 2010.

The following list is taken directly from page 131 of the GAO audit report and it shows which banks received money from the Fed….

Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC – $868 billion
Bear Sterns – $853 billion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Deutsche Bank – $354 billion
UBS – $287 billion
Credit Suisse – $262 billion
Lehman Brothers – $183 billion
Bank of Scotland – $181 billion
BNP Paribas – $175 billion
Wells Fargo – $159 billion
Dexia – $159 billion
Wachovia – $142 billion
Dresdner Bank – $135 billion
Societe Generale – $124 billion
“All Other Borrowers” – $2.639 trillion

What about all the rest of us?

Did we get bailed out?

No, we were told that if Wall Street was rescued that the benefits would trickle down to the rest of us.

Unfortunately, that has not exactly worked out.  In article, after article, after article I have detailed the horrible economic suffering that the American people are still going through.

But what Bernanke and the Fed have done is create inflation in commodities such as oil which is affecting the household finances of nearly everyone in America.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is now up to $3.87.  That is an all-time record high for the month of March.

So far in 2012, the price of gasoline in the United States has risen by 17 percent.

Thanks Bernanke.

Over the past several decades, every time there has been a major spike in gasoline prices in the United States, a recession has always followed.  If you doubt this, just check out this amazing chart.

So will we soon see another recession?

If we are lucky.  Hopefully the next downturn will not be a full-blown depression.

The truth is that the Federal Reserve does not help us avoid booms and busts.  Rather, it creates them.  The Fed was at the heart of the housing bubble which helped bring on the last financial crisis when it crashed, and the current ultra-low interest rate policies of the Fed are creating more bubbles which will have devastating long-term consequences.

So Bernanke does not have anything to be proud of, and his track record has been absolutely nightmarish.

Hopefully the American people will not believe the propaganda and will take an honest look at the Federal Reserve.

When you take an honest look at the Federal Reserve, there is only one rational conclusion: Congress should shut it down, lock the doors and throw away the key.

Bernanke Says That Any Criticism Of The Federal Reserve Is Based On “Misconceptions”

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is taking his show on the road in at attempt to help Americans feel better about the Federal Reserve.  During a visit to the Fort Bliss headquarters of the Army’s 1st Armored Division this week, Bernanke held a town hall meeting during which he took questions from some of the soldiers.  Bernanke tried to sound as compassionate as possible as he assured the soldiers that the Federal Reserve is looking out for the American people and is doing everything that it can to help create jobs.  At one point, Bernanke even made the following statement: “For a lot of people, I know, it doesn’t feel like the recession ever ended.”  That probably helped a lot of people feel better.  A few probably even had a good cry.  But what Bernanke did not explain to the troops is that the Federal Reserve is very much responsible for the fact that unemployment is rampant, for the fact that the U.S. dollar is rapidly being devalued and for the fact that we have accumulated the largest national debt in the history of the world.

Ben Bernanke keeps insisting that the Federal Reserve has two main jobs (fighting inflation and keeping unemployment low) and that it is working incredibly hard to accomplish that dual mandate.  During his visit with the soldiers he told them that the Fed is very determined to create more jobs for the American people….

“We at the Federal Reserve have been focusing intently on supporting job creation.”

Well, if we are to judge the Federal Reserve by how well it has accomplished its “dual mandate”, then the Federal Reserve has been an abysmal failure.

Since the Federal Reserve was created, the U.S. dollar has lost well over 95 percent of its value to inflation.

Is that something Bernanke should be proud of?

Of course not.

Okay, so the Fed has failed when it comes to keeping inflation under control.

What about jobs?

Well, the first decade of this century was the worst decade for job creation that the United States has seen since the Great Depression.

The sad truth is that a total of zero jobs were created last decade.  The following is a quote from a recent article in Washington Monthly….

“If any single number captures the state of the American economy over the last decade, it is zero. That was the net gain in jobs between 1999 and 2009—nada, nil, zip. By painful contrast, from the 1940s through the 1990s, recessions came and went, but no decade ended without at least a 20 percent increase in the number of jobs.”

So what kind of a grade should we give the Federal Reserve for the job that it has done?

How about a big fat F?

The Federal Reserve has been a failure of epic proportions.  It greatly contributed to the Great Depression (even Bernanke admits this), it created the conditions for the financial bubbles that greatly contributed to the financial crisis of 2008, and it has brought us to the verge of yet another gigantic financial crisis.

But Ben Bernanke believes that all of us that are criticizing the Fed are just ignorant.  He thinks that we just don’t understand the Fed properly.  During a recent question and answer session, Bernanke stated the following….

“I think that the concerns about the Fed are based on misconceptions”

Oh, if only the rest of us understood how the Fed works and how they really care about the American people.  Then everything would be okay.

Not.

During that same session, Bernanke insisted that the Federal Reserve only has the purest motives….

“Our motives are strictly to do what is in the best interest of the broad public and I believe that our efforts to stabilize the financial system, which were ultimately proved successful, were very much in the interest of the broad public”

According to Bernanke, those that work at the Fed are unselfish guardians of our monetary system who are fighting for truth, justice and the American way of life.

Okay, perhaps I am exaggerating just a bit, but you get the point.

Bernanke is trying very hard to convince all of us that the Federal Reserve is just misunderstood and that we should just trust what the “experts” are doing.

So what will the plan be if the financial crisis in Europe blows up?

Well, during his visit to Fort Bliss one of the soldiers actually asked him about that.  The following is his answer….

“Although the Fed would obviously do all that we could to maintain stability and to keep monetary policy as easy as necessary to try to minimize the damage, I don’t think we would be able to escape the consequences of a blow-up in Europe”

Oh, he would keep monetary policy “as easy as necessary”.

Isn’t that lovely – I bet that will be great for the value of the U.S. dollar.

Bernanke also told the soldiers that he believes that happy days are ahead for the U.S. economy….

“I do believe we will return to a healthier growth rate. I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t”

So we should just trust Bernanke, right?

He has never been wrong before, right?

Well, let’s check the record….

In 2005, Bernanke said that we shouldn’t worry because housing prices had never declined on a nationwide basis before and he said that he believed that the U.S. would continue to experience close to “full employment”….

“We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.”

In 2005, Bernanke also said that he believed that derivatives were perfectly safe and posed no danger to financial markets….

“With respect to their safety, derivatives, for the most part, are traded among very sophisticated financial institutions and individuals who have considerable incentive to understand them and to use them properly.”

In 2006, Bernanke said that housing prices would probably keep rising….

“Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.”

In 2007, Bernanke insisted that there was not a problem with subprime mortgages….

“At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained. In particular, mortgages to prime borrowers and fixed-rate mortgages to all classes of borrowers continue to perform well, with low rates of delinquency.”

In 2008, Bernanke said that a recession was not coming….

“The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”

A few months before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed, Bernanke insisted that they were totally secure….

“The GSEs are adequately capitalized. They are in no danger of failing.”

For many more examples that demonstrate the absolutely nightmarish track record of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, please see the following articles….

*”Say What? 30 Ben Bernanke Quotes That Are So Stupid That You Won’t Know Whether To Laugh Or Cry

*”Is Ben Bernanke A Liar, A Lunatic Or Is He Just Completely And Totally Incompetent?

But after being wrong over and over and over, Barack Obama still nominated Ben Bernanke for another term as Chairman of the Fed.

It is hard to put how stupid that was into words.

Look, if someone wrecked your car again and again would you keep handing that person your keys?

It just doesn’t make any sense.

Bernanke made another statement during his visit with the troops this week that was really bizarre….

“The Federal Reserve is not perfect … but at this point, if you look around the world, you see no alternative”

He has got to be kidding, right?

Of course there are no other alternatives for us to look at!  Only a handful of nations on earth do not have a central bank at this point.  Iran, North Korea and a handful of others don’t have a central bank dominated by the international banking community but basically everyone else does.

Just because nearly every nation on earth has a central bank does not mean that there are not alternatives to the Federal Reserve system.  I detailed a plan the other day that would transition us away from the Federal Reserve system.

It most certainly can be done.

But right now, most of our politicians are standing up for a system that allows private central bankers to spend trillions of dollars bailing out their friends while the rest of us suffer.

The other day, an article by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders appeared in the Huffington Post that detailed what was learned during a very limited audit of transactions conducted by the Federal Reserve during the recent financial crisis.

According to Senator Sanders, the Federal Reserve made 16 trillion dollars in secret loans to big corporations, Wall Street banks, foreign nations and wealthy individuals during the financial crisis….

“…we learned that the Federal Reserve provided a jaw-dropping $16 trillion in total financial assistance to every major financial institution in the country as well as a number of corporations, wealthy individuals and central banks throughout the world.”

Senator Sanders also says that the audit revealed that many of those running the Fed are from the same institutions that the Fed has been bailing out….

“The GAO also revealed that many of the people who serve as directors of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks come from the exact same financial institutions that the Fed is in charge of regulating. Further, the GAO found that at least 18 current and former Fed board members were affiliated with banks and companies that received emergency loans from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis.”

Wait – isn’t there a huge conflict of interest problem there?

Of course there is.

But neither major political party is making a stink about it.

Sadly, Senator Sanders says that the audit found that there was “instance after instance” where individuals used their positions at the Fed to benefit their own firms….

“The GAO has detailed instance after instance of top executives of corporations and financial institutions using their influence as Federal Reserve directors to financially benefit their firms, and, in at least one instance, themselves.”

Wow – you would think that this scandal would have been reported on the front page of every major newspaper from coast to coast.

But that didn’t happen.

In fact, both major political parties continue to insist that there is nothing wrong with the Federal Reserve and that the Fed is doing a wonderful job.

It really is sickening.

Look, we need to educate the American people about the Federal Reserve and we need to make control over our currency a major issue in the 2012 campaign.

The American people should demand that the issuing of all United States currency be immediately returned to Congress as the U.S. Constitution requires.

The American people should demand that no more debt-based Federal Reserve Notes be issued and that from now on only debt-free United States money be issued.

The Federal Reserve has a track record of nearly 100 years of failure.

It is time for it to be shut down.

The choice, America, is up to you.

Why Are Food Prices Rising So Fast?

If you do much grocery shopping, you have probably noticed that the cost of food has been rising at a very brisk pace over the past year.  So why are food prices rising so fast?  According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, inflation is still very low and the economy is improving.  So what is going on here?  When I go to the grocery store these days, there are very few things that I will buy unless they are on sale.  In fact, I have noticed that many of the new “sale prices” are the old regular prices.  Other items have had their packages reduced in size in order to hide the price increases.  But with millions of American families just barely scraping by as it is, what is going to happen if food prices keep rising this rapidly?

The food prices are especially painful if you are trying to eat healthy.  Most of the low price stuff in the grocery stores is garbage.  Eating the “typical American diet” is a highway to cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

But if you try to stick to food that is “healthy” or “organic” you can blow through hundreds of dollars in a heartbeat.  In fact, the reality is that tens of millions of American families have now essentially been priced out of a healthy diet.

Soon there will be millions more American families that will not even be able to afford an unhealthy diet.

Some recent statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are absolutely staggering.  According to a recent CNBC article, over the past year many of the most popular foods in America have absolutely soared in price….

Coffee, for instance, is up 40 percent. Celery is 28 percent higher while butter prices rose 26.4 percent. Rounding out the top five are bacon, at 23.5 percent, and cabbage, at 23.3 percent.

Unfortunately, it looks like the trend of rising food prices is accelerating.  Just look at what the CNBC article says happened in the month of April alone….

Just in April—the most recent month for which data is available—grapes went up nearly 30 percent, cabbage jumped about 17 percent and orange juice surged more than 5 percent.

Meat is becoming more expensive as well.  Since March 2009, livestock prices have risen by 138%.

So when Ben Bernanke tells us that inflation is very low, that really is a lie.  On the stuff that people spend money on every day (like food and gas), prices have gone up dramatically.

Sadly, this is not just a phenomenon that is happening in the United States.  The truth is that the entire planet is rapidly approaching a horrific global food crisis.

Over the past year, the global price of food has risen by 37 percent and this has pushed approximately 44 million more people around the world into poverty.

When food prices rise in the U.S. it may be painful for millions of American families, but around the world a rise in food prices can mean the difference between surviving and not surviving.

That is why it has been so alarming that the global price of wheat has approximately doubled over the past year.

But it is not just wheat that has been soaring.  Check out what a recent Bloomberg article had to say about what has been happening to many key agricultural commodities over the past year….

Corn futures advanced 77 percent in the past 12 months in Chicago trading, a global benchmark, rice gained 39 percent and sugar jumped 64 percent. There will be shortages in corn, wheat, soybeans, coffee and cocoa this year or next, according to Utrecht, Netherlands-based Rabobank Groep. Prices also rose after droughts and floods from Australia to Canada ruined crops last year. European farmers are now contending with their driest growing season in more than three decades.

Even before this recent spike in food prices the world was struggling to get enough food to everybody.  It has been estimated that somewhere in the world someone starves to death every 3.6 seconds, and 75 percent of those are children under the age of five.

So what is going to happen if food prices keep on rising at the current pace?

That is a very good question.

We really are starting to move into unprecedented territory.  Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.

So why is all of this happening?

Well, a lot of people are blaming the Federal Reserve.  All of the “quantitative easing” that the Fed has done has flooded the financial markets with money.  All of that money had to go somewhere.  Much of it has pumped up the prices of hard assets such as oil, gold and agricultural commodities.

But it is not just the Fed that is to blame.  The truth is that central banks all over the world have been recklessly printing money.

When the amount of money in an economy goes up, the purchasing value of all existing money goes down.  In the United States, that means that your dollars will not go as far as they did before.

But it is not just monetary policy that is affecting food prices.  In 2010 and 2011 we have seen an unprecedented wave of natural disasters and crazy weather.  This has caused problems with crops all over the globe.

In addition, U.S. economic policies are also playing a role.  At this point, almost a third of all corn grown in the United States is used for fuel.  This is putting a lot of stress on the price of corn.

Also, there are some long-term trends that are not in our favor.  For example, the systematic depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer could eventually turn “America’s Breadbasket” back into the “Dust Bowl”.  If you have not heard of this problem I would encourage you to do some research on it.

Things are going to get a lot worse, but already America is having a really hard time feeding itself.  According to Feeding America’s 2010 hunger study, more than 37 million Americans are now being served by food pantries and soup kitchens.

So is that number unusual?

Yes, it sure is.

The number of Americans that are going to food pantries and soup kitchens has increased by 46% since 2006.

That is not a good trend.

Another stat that I talk a lot about in this column is the number of Americans on food stamps.

Right now, there are 44 million Americans on food stamps.  Nearly half of them are children.

How did we ever get to the point as a nation where more than 20 million children end up on food stamps?

It is estimated that one out of every four American children is currently on food stamps, and it is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point in their lives before they reach the age of 18.

So what is going to happen if the economy gets even worse?

What is going to happen if there really is a major food crisis in this country someday?

Food prices have been going up for decades and they are going to continue to go up.  But the frightening thing is how fast they are increasing now.

As the U.S. middle class continues to be destroyed, the number of Americans that can’t afford to buy enough food is going to continue to rise.  Food prices are rising much faster than wages are, and that is not likely to change any time soon.

Food is rapidly becoming one of the most important global economic issues of this decade.  The farther one looks down the road, the bleaker things look for the global food situation.

I hope you are prepared for that.

Is The Economy Improving?

Is the U.S. economy improving?  That is what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would have us believe.  Bernanke declared today that the “recovery appears to be proceeding at a moderate pace” and that everything is going pretty much as planned.  Sadly, the mainstream media and most of the American people still seem to have faith in the economic pronouncements of Helicopter Ben.  They seem to have forgotten all of the Bernanke quotes from before the financial crisis.  Bernanke pledged that there would not be a housing crash and that there would not be a recession.  It is amazing that anyone still believes that Bernanke has any credibility left.

Of course “economic recovery” is one of Barack Obama’s favorite new terms.  He loves to talk about all of the signs that the economy is improving.  To Obama, all of the recent bad economic news is no big deal.  He says that what we are experiencing right now are simply “bumps on the road to recovery“.

Well, whether you want to call them “bumps” or “potholes” or “massive gaping wounds that are gushing blood all over the place”, the truth is that the U.S. economy is not improving at all.  In fact, it is rapidly getting worse.

Let’s take a look at just a few areas of the economy….

Federal Government Finances

As I wrote about yesterday, the national debt is completely and totally out of control.  Since Barack Obama took office, the U.S. national debt has increased by nearly 4 trillion dollars.

Keep in mind that from George Washington to Ronald Reagan, the U.S. government accumulated only 1 trillion dollars in debt.

Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26%, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61% during that same time period.

Now the Democrats and the Republicans are busy negotiating over some modest reductions in spending.

But unprecedented federal spending is one of the only things propping the economy up right now.

If the U.S. economy is performing so poorly after being flooded with “stimulus money” from the federal government, what is going to happen once the federal government cuts back?

State And Local Government Finances

All over the United States, there are large numbers of state and local governments that are on the verge of bankruptcy.

For the moment, let’s just focus on the state of Illinois.

Did you know that things have gotten so bad in Illinois at this point that the Illinois state government is letting bills go unpaid for long periods of time on a regular basis?

It’s true.

Right now they have billions in unpaid bills and they are facing a financial future that is so bleak that it is almost indescribable.

In one recent article, author Stephen Lendman described the horrific financial crisis that Illinois is facing right now….

With spending exceeding revenues, and obligations not postponed, unpaid bills are growing “at a frightening rate. For instance, IGPA’s Fiscal Futures Model indicates (they) could reach $40 billion by July 1, 2013, with an associated delay in paying those bills of more than five years.”

Besides its $13 billion deficit and $6 billion in unpaid bills, its pension fund is about $130 billion in the red – a red flag that state workers may lose out altogether, wiping out their promised retirement savings.

But it isn’t just the state government that is having problems.  According to Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, the average household in Chicago would owe a whopping $63,525 if all local government debt was divided up equally among all of the households.

The truth is that even if the finances of the federal government could somehow be fixed, there would still be dozens and dozens of very significant “government debt problems” all across America.

With so many state and local governments drowning in debt, jobs are being slashed at an alarming rate.  UBS Investment Research is projecting that state and local governments in the U.S. will combine to slash a whopping 450,000 jobs by the end of next year.

So would the U.S. government step in and start bailing out state and local governments?

Not likely.

U.S. Representative Paul Ryan has said the following about the prospect of bailing out the states….

“If we bail out one state, then all of the debt of all of the states are almost explicitly on the books of the federal government.”

So for now, state and local governments are on their own.

Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate continues to decline all across America.

Moody’s/REAL All Property Type Aggregate Index fell 3.7% in April and is now the lowest it has been in over 10 years.

Overall, commercial real estate is down by over 40 percent since the peak back in 2007.

Residential Real Estate

The United States is dealing with a housing crash that never seems to end.

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales in the United States fell another 3.8% in May.

During this housing crash home values have declined more than they did during the Great Depression and there does not appear to be any hope in sight.

New home sales are in even worse shape.  During the first three months of this year, less new homes were sold in the U.S. than in any three month period ever recorded.

Unemployment

As 2009 began, the official U.S. unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.  Today it is 9.1 percent.

The American people keep waiting for a “jobs recovery”, but it has not shown up.

Sadly, all of this is part of a long-term trend.

Over the past decade, U.S. multinational corporations have been laying off millions of workers in the U.S. and hiring millions of workers overseas to take their place.

The labor of American workers is rapidly losing value in a globalized economy.  Big corporations have a tough time justifying paying ten times more to a worker in the United States when they are allowed to hire people for slave labor wages overseas.

The share of the national income taken in by U.S. workers continues to decline.  Just consider what Mortimer Zuckerman had to say in a recent article for usnews.com….

Labor’s share of national income has fallen to the lowest level in modern history, down to 57.5 percent in the first quarter as compared to 59.8 percent when the so-called recovery began. This reflects not only the 7 million fewer workers but the fact that wages for part-time workers now average $19,000—less than half the median income.

In the United States today, there are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.  The number of “middle class jobs” has fallen by about 10 percent over the last decade.

Only 66.8% of American men had a job last year.  That was the lowest level that has ever been recorded in all of U.S. history.

We are seeing the rise of a whole class of people that are chronically unemployed.  At the beginning of 2009, the number of “long-term unemployed” in the United States was approximately 2.6 million.  Today, that number is up to 6.2 million.

So in light of these employment statistics, can anyone really say that the economy is improving?

Economic Anxiety

The economy is the number one issue on the minds of the American people.  There is an extraordinary about of economic pain out there today, and Americans are becoming impatient.

According to CNBC, the Money Anxiety Index is at its highest level in 30 years….

The latest indicator to ring up trouble is the Money Anxiety Index, which uses traditional economic metrics as well as other factors to gauge the level of consumers’ worry regarding their personal financial conditions.

According to the May figures, the MAI is not only at its highest level in 30 years at 91.9 but also two months away from indicating another dip into recession. In the past, five straight months of increases in the index often signaled recession.

Most recent polls show that the American people are rapidly becoming more pessimistic about the direction the U.S. economy is headed.

According to a recent CNN poll, 48 percent of Americans believe that “another Great Depression” is likely within the next 12 months.

When you really stop and think about that number, it is really frightening.

Inflation

Ben Bernanke may not admit it, but the truth is that the price of just about everything is soaring.

For example, when Barack Obama took office, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States was $1.83.  Today it is about $3.74.

So what are our politicians doing about it?

Not much.

They just want to pretend that it isn’t happening.

In fact, members of Congress are actually tinkering with the idea of changing the way that inflation is calculated once again.

By making inflation appear lower, it would be easier for Congress to deny cost of living increases to those on Social Security and other social programs.

How sad is that?

Economic Suffering

As American families find it increasingly difficult to pay the mortgage and put food on the table, many of them find themselves forced to put off other expenses.  According to one recent survey, 26 percent of Americans have put off doctor visits because of the economy.

Other Americans can’t make it at all without government assistance.  As 2007 began, there were only 26 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 44 million Americans on food stamps, which is an all-time record.

It is not good to have so many Americans on food stamps, but it is probably better than the alternative.

If there were tens of millions of Americans that could not feed themselves we would probably already have economic riots in the streets.

Solutions?

So do our politicians have any solutions?

Of course not.  Everything that they have tried has failed.

Several top Democrats in Washington D.C. are now calling for a new economic stimulus package.  When in doubt, our politicians usually revert to spending more money.

Sadly, this is about the best that our economy is going to get.

What we are experiencing right now is “the recovery”.  As we move forward things are going to get progressively worse.

A lot of people don’t like to hear that we are in the middle of a long-term economic decline, but that is the truth.

The era of tremendous economic prosperity for America is coming to an end.

An economic nightmare is coming.

You better get ready.

The Economic Collapse