3, 2, 1: Global Debt Meltdown

We are steamrolling toward a massive global debt meltdown, and at this point world leaders seem to be all out of solutions.  Over the last 30 years or so, the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet has produced unprecedented prosperity in the western world.  But now that debt bubble is starting to burst and the bills are coming due.  Many believe that “ground zero” for the coming global debt meltdown will be in Europe.  Unlike the U.S. and Japan, the nations of the EU can’t just print more money to cover their debts.  Nations such as Greece, Portugal and Italy must repay their debts in euros, and those nations are rapidly getting to the point where their debts are going to overwhelm them.  Unfortunately, major banks all over Europe are very highly leveraged and are also very heavily invested in the sovereign debt of nations such as Greece, Portugal and Italy.  If even one EU nation defaults it will start tipping over financial dominoes.  If more than one EU nation defaults it could cause a cataclysmic wave of bank failures all over Europe.

But Germany and the other more financially stable countries of the EU cannot bail out nations like Greece, Portugal and Italy indefinitely.  Pouring money into Greece is like pouring money into a black hole.  When you take money from financially stable countries and pour it into hopeless messes, you may stabilize things for a little while, but you also cause the financial condition of the financially stable nations to start deteriorating.

Right now, the yield on 2 year Greek bonds is up to 44%.  Basically, the market is screaming that these are horrible investments and that they will almost certainly default.

Greece cannot fire up the printing presses and print more money, so they are now totally dependent on others to bail them out.

Just how desperate have things become in Greece?  Just consider the following excerpt from a recent article by Puru Saxena….

In Greece, government debt now represents almost 160% of GDP and the average yield on Greek debt is around 15%. Thus, if Greece’s debt is rolled over without restructuring, its interest costs alone will amount to approximately 24% of GDP. In other words, if debt pardoning does not occur, nearly a quarter of Greece’s economic output will be gobbled up by interest repayments!

Can you imagine?

No nation on earth can afford to pay out nearly a quarter of GDP just on interest on government debt.

So just how did Greece get into this position?  Well, it turns out that big U.S. banks such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase played a big role.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Andrew Gavin Marshall….

In the same way that homeowners take out a second mortgage to pay off their credit card debt, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and other U.S. banks helped push government debt far into the future through the derivatives market. This was done in Greece, Italy, and likely several other euro-zone countries as well. In several dozen deals in Europe, “banks provided cash upfront in return for government payments in the future, with those liabilities then left off the books.” Because the deals are not listed as loans, they are not listed as debt (liabilities), and so the true debt of Greece and other euro-zone countries was and likely to a large degree remains hidden. Greece effectively mortgaged its airports and highways to the major banks in order to get cash up-front and keep the loans off the books, classifying them as transactions.

All over the world, politicians love to “kick the can down the road”, and big Wall Street banks love to find creative ways to help them do that.

But now Greece is about to collapse, and the people that helped them get into this mess will probably never be held accountable.

If Greece does default, it is going to have dramatic consequences all over Europe.  For a chilling look at what could potentially happen when Greece defaults, just check out this article by John Mauldin.

Sadly, Greece is far from the only problem in Europe.  Portugal, Ireland and Italy also have debt to GDP ratios that are above 100%.

The biggest potential problem, at least in the near-term, is Italy.

Italy is the fourth largest economy in the EU, and lately the financial problems of the Italian government and Italian banks have been making headlines all over the globe.

Italy is a far, far larger potential problem than Greece is.

The EU can handle bailing out Greece, at least for now.

If Italy gets to the point where it needs large bailouts, that is going to bring down the whole system.  The EU simply does not have enough money to perform an extensive financial rescue of Italy.

As you can see from this chart, the exposure that European banks have to Italian debt is absolutely massive.  If Italian debt goes bad, it is going to take down a whole bunch of banks.

Not only that, but many believe that the European Central Bank itself is now in some very dangerous territory.

It is estimated that the European Central Bank is now holding somewhere in the neighborhood of 444 billion euros worth of debt from the governments of Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and Spain.

The financial consequences of a default by one or more of those nations could potentially be catastrophic.

According to London-based think tank Open Europe, the European Central Bank is massively overleveraged….

“Should the ECB see its assets fall by just 4.23pc in value . . . its entire capital base would be wiped out.”

That doesn’t sound good.

Surely the European Central Bank would be recapitalized somehow, but this is just another example that shows just how dangerous huge amounts of leverage can be.

As I wrote about in a recent article about the sovereign debt crisis, if the dominoes begin to tumble in Europe it is going to take everybody down.

The big banks in Europe are leveraged to the hilt, and they are massively exposed to government debt.

If you don’t think that this is a problem, just remember what happened back in 2008.

Back then, Lehman Brothers was leveraged 31 to 1.  When things turned bad, Lehman was wiped out very rapidly.

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

Yes, things could become really nightmarish if the dominoes start to fall.

Already we are seeing huge signs of trouble at major banks all over Europe.

Major European banks UBS, Barclays, Credit Suisse, RBS, and HSBC have all announced layoffs recently.  In fact, when you add them all up, the total number of layoffs announced by these banks just this month is over 40,000.  Overall, the grand total of layoffs by European banks so far this year is now up to 67,000.

The mood in the financial sector over in Europe is very dark right now.  Just consider the following excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article….

“It’s a bloodbath, and I expect things to get worse before they get better,” said Jonathan Evans, chairman of executive- search firm Sammons Associates in London. “I cannot see a lot of those who have lost their jobs getting re-employed. Regardless of how good someone is, no one wants to talk about hiring. Life will be very difficult for two or three years.”

Just like back in 2008 with U.S. banks, we are seeing European banks getting absolutely pummeled right now.  A recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald documented some of the carnage….

The 46-member Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index has fallen 31 per cent this year. RBS tumbled 49 per cent, Barclays 44 per cent and France’s Societe Generale 48 per cent.

Credit Suisse and UBS both reported a 71 per cent drop in investment-banking earnings in the second quarter. Revenue at Edinburgh-based RBS’s securities unit dropped 35 per cent in the period, while London-based Barclays Capital posted a 27 per cent decline in pretax profit.

Things in Europe continue to get worse and worse and worse.

Do not take your eyes off of Europe.  This crisis is just getting started.

Not that there aren’t huge debt problems around the rest of the globe as well.

Japan has a national debt that is now over 200 percent of GDP, and they are really struggling to recover from the recent disasters that devastated that nation.

Moody’s has just downgraded Japanese government debt one notch to Aa3, and more downgrades could be coming.  For now Japan is still able to borrow huge piles of money very, very cheaply but if that changes Japan could be wiped out very quickly.

Of course the nation with the biggest debt of all is the United States.

At the moment, the U.S. national debt is sitting at a grand total of $14,649,289,670,347.85.

Fortunately, the U.S. is also able to borrow massive amounts of money very, very cheaply right now.  But when that changes it is going to be absolutely cataclysmic for our economy.

Sadly, our politicians continue to act as if this debt binge can go on forever.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the budget deficit for the federal government will be about 1.28 trillion dollars this year.  This will be the third year in a row that we have had a budget deficit of over a trillion dollars.

To put that in perspective, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan the U.S. government racked up a grand total of about one trillion dollars of debt.  But this year alone we will go 1.28 trillion dollars more into debt.

At the moment, the U.S. national debt is expanding by about 2 and a half million dollars every single minute.  It is hard to put into words how absolutely foolish that is.

As I wrote about yesterday, someone needs to wake up America.  Our debt is exploding and our economy is dying.

We haven’t even solved the problems caused by the last financial crisis.  The real estate market is still a gigantic mess.  Purchases of both new and previously existing homes in the United States continue to fall.

But there will never be a housing recovery until there is a jobs recovery, and our politicians continue to stand by and watch as millions of our jobs are shipped overseas.

Unemployment is rampant, and even many of those that do have jobs are barely able to survive.

Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

That is not a good trend.

Sadly, it looks like things are not going to get much better any time soon.

Right now, the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that unemployment in the U.S. will remain above 8% until 2014.

That should really scare you, because government numbers are almost always way too optimistic.  The folks in the federal government hardly ever project that unemployment will actually go up.

So if they are saying that unemployment will remain above 8 percent until 2014, the truth is that things will probably be worse than that.

We have entered very frightening times.  We are on the verge of a massive global debt meltdown, and nobody is sure what is going to happen next.

Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

People Of Earth: Prepare For Economic Disaster

It is not just the United States that is headed for an economic collapse.  The truth is that the entire world is heading for a massive economic meltdown and the people of earth need to be warned about the coming economic disaster that is going to sweep the globe.  The current world financial system is based on debt, and there are alarming signs that the gigantic global debt bubble is getting ready to burst.  In addition, global prices for the key resources that the major economies of the planet depend on are rising very rapidly.  Despite all of our advanced technology, the truth is that human civilization simply cannot function without oil and food.  But now the price of oil and the price of food are both increasing dramatically.  So how is the current global economy supposed to keep functioning properly if it soon costs much more to ship products between continents?  How are the billions of people that are just barely surviving today supposed to feed themselves if the price of food goes up another 30 or 40 percent?  For decades, most of the major economies around the globe have been able to take for granted that massive amounts of cheap oil and massive amounts of cheap food will always be there.  So what happens when that paradigm changes?

At last check, the price of U.S. crude was over 104 dollars a barrel and the price of Brent crude was over 115 dollars a barrel.  Many analysts fear that if the crisis in Libya escalates or if the chaos in the Middle East spreads that we could see the all-time record of 147 dollars a barrel broken by the end of the year.  That would be absolutely disastrous for the global economy.

But it isn’t just the chaos in the Middle East that is driving oil prices.  The truth is that oil prices have been moving upwards for months.  The recent revolutions in the Middle East have only accelerated the trend.

Let’s just hope that the “day of rage” being called for in Saudi Arabia later this month does not turn into a full-blown revolution like we have seen in other Middle Eastern countries.  The Saudis keep a pretty tight grip on their people, but at this point anything is possible.  A true revolution in Saudi Arabia would send oil prices into unprecedented territory very quickly.

But even without all of the trouble in the Middle East the world was already heading for an oil crunch.  The global demand for oil is rising at a very vigorous pace.  For example, last year Chinese demand for oil increased by almost 1 million barrels per day.  That is absolutely staggering.  The Chinese are now buying more new cars every year than Americans are, and so Chinese demand for oil is only going to continue to increase.

Much could be done to increase the global supply of oil, but so far our politicians and the major oil company executives are sitting on their hands.  They seem to like the increasing oil prices.

So for now it looks like oil prices will continue to rise and this is going to result in much higher prices at the gas pump.

Already, ABC News is reporting that regular unleaded gasoline is going for $5.29 a gallon at one gas station in Orlando, Florida.

The U.S. economy in particular is vulnerable to rising oil prices because our entire economic system is designed around cheap gasoline.  If the price of gas goes up to 5 or 6 dollars a gallon and it stays there it is going to have a catastrophic effect on the U.S. economy.

Just remember what happened back in 2008.  The price of oil hit an all-time high of $147 a barrel and then a few months later the entire financial system had a major meltdown.

Well, as the price of oil rises it is going to create a whole lot of imbalances in the global financial system once again.

This is definitely a situation that we should all be watching.

But it is not just the price of oil that could cause a global economic disaster.

The global price of food could potentially be even more concerning.  As you read this, there are about 3 billion people around the globe that live on the equivalent of 2 dollars a day or less.  Those people cannot afford for food prices to go up much.

But global food prices are rising.  According to the United Nations, the global price of food has risen for 8 consecutive months.  Last month, the global price of food set a brand new all-time record high.  Many are starting to fear that we could actually be in the early stages of a major global food crisis.

The price of just about every major agricultural commodity has been absolutely soaring during the past year….

*The price of corn has doubled over the last six months.

*The price of wheat has more than doubled over the past year.

*The price of soybeans is up about 50% since last June.

*The price of cotton has more than doubled over the past year.

*The commodity price of orange juice has doubled since 2009.

*The price of sugar is the highest it has been in 30 years.

Unfortunately, the production of food in most countries around the world is very highly dependent on oil, so as oil goes up in price this is going to make the food crisis even worse.

Hold on to your hats folks.

Also, as I have written about previously, the world is facing some very serious problems when it comes to water.  Due to the greed of the global elite, there is not nearly enough fresh water to go around.  The following are some very disturbing facts about the global water situation….

*Worldwide demand for fresh water tripled during the last century, and is now doubling every 21 years.

*According to USAID, one-third of all humans will face severe or chronic water shortages by the year 2025.

*Of the 60 million people added to the world’s cities every year, the vast majority of them live in impoverished slums and shanty-towns with no sanitation facilities whatsoever.

*It is estimated that 75 percent of India’s surface water is now contaminated by human and agricultural waste.

*Not only that, but according to a UN study on sanitation, far more people in India have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet.

*In northern China, the water table is dropping one meter per year due to overpumping.

These days, one of the trendy things to do is to call water “the oil of the 21st century”, but unfortunately that is not a completely inaccurate statement.  Fresh, clean water is something that we all need, but right now world supplies are getting tight.

Our politicians and the global elite could be doing something about this if they really wanted to, but right now they seem perfectly fine with what is happening.

On top of everything else, the sovereign debt crisis is worse than it has ever been before.

All of the major global central banks have been feverishly printing money in an attempt to “paper over” this crisis, but it is not going to work.

Most Americans don’t realize it, but right now the continent of Europe is a financial basket case.  Greece and Ireland would have imploded already if they had not been bailed out, and now Portugal is on the verge of collapse.  The interest rate on Portugal’s 10-year notes has now been above 7% for about 3 weeks, and most analysts believe that it is only a matter of time before they are forced to accept a bailout.

Sadly, if the entire global economy experiences a slowdown because of rising oil prices, we could see half a dozen European nations default on their debts if they are not bailed out.

For now the Germans seem fine with bailing out the weak sisters that are all around them, but that isn’t going to last forever.

A day or reckoning is coming for Europe, and when it arrives the reverberations are going to be felt all across the face of the earth.  The euro is on very shaky ground already, and whether or not it can survive the coming crisis is an open question.

Of course there are some very serious concerns about Asia as well.  The national debt of Japan is now well over 200% of GDP and nobody seems to have a solution for their problems.  Up to this point, Japan has been able to borrow massive amounts of money at extremely low interest rates from their own people, but that isn’t going to last forever either.

As I have written about so many times before, the biggest debt problem of all is the United States.  Barack Obama is projecting that the federal budget deficit for this fiscal year will be a new all-time record 1.65 trillion dollars.  It is expected that the total U.S. national debt will surpass the 15 trillion dollar mark by the end of the fiscal year.

Shouldn’t we have some sort of celebration when that happens?

15 trillion dollars is quite an achievement.

Most Americans cannot even conceive of a debt that large.  If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.

But the United States is not alone.  The truth is that wherever you look, there is a sea of red ink covering the planet.

The current global financial system is entirely based on debt.  If the total amount of debt does not continually expand, the system will crash.  If somehow a way was found to keep this system going perpetually (which is impossible), the size of global debt would keep on increasing infinitely.

Now the World Economic Forum says that we need to grow the total amount of debt by another 100 trillion dollars over the next ten years to “support” the anticipated amount of “economic growth” around the world that they expect to see.

The entire global financial system is a gigantic Ponzi scheme.  It is designed to keep everyone enslaved to perpetual debt.  If at some point the debt spiral gets interrupted in some significant way, we are going to witness an economic disaster that is going to make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

The more research that one does on the current global economic situation, the more clear it becomes that we are absolutely doomed.

So people of earth you had better get ready.

An economic disaster is coming.

The Economic Collapse