15 Potentially Massive Threats To The U.S. Economy Over The Next 12 Months

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable, and the potential for an event that could cause “sudden change” to the U.S. economy is greater than ever.  There are dozens of potentially massive threats that could easily push the U.S. economy over the edge during the next 12 months.  A war in the Middle East, a financial collapse in Europe, a major derivatives crisis or a horrific natural disaster could all change our economic situation very rapidly.  Most of the time I write about the long-term economic trends that are slowly but surely ripping the U.S. economy to pieces, but the truth is that just a single really bad “black swan event” over the next 12 months could accelerate our economic problems dramatically.  If oil was cut off from the Middle East or a really bad natural disaster suddenly destroyed a major U.S. city, the U.S. economy would be thrown into a state of chaos.  Considering how bad the U.S. economy is currently performing, it would be easy to see how a major “shock to the system” could push us into the “next Great Depression” very easily.  Let us hope that none of these things actually happen over the next 12 months, but let us also understand that we live in a world that has become extremely chaotic and extremely unstable.

In the list below, you will find some “sudden change” events that are somewhat likely and some that are quite unlikely.  I have tried to include a broad range of potential “black swan events”, but there are certainly dozens more massive threats that could potentially be listed.

The following are 15 potentially massive threats to the U.S. economy over the next 12 months….

#1 War With Syria – U.S. Senator John McCain is now publicly calling for U.S. airstrikes against Syria.  A military conflict with Syria becomes more likely with each passing day.

#2 War With Iran – A war in the Middle East involving Iran could literally erupt at any time.  The following is from a Reuters news report that was issued on Monday….

President Barack Obama appealed to Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to give sanctions time to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the Israeli prime minister offered no sign of backing away from possible military action, saying his country must be the “master of its fate.”

#3 A Disorderly Greek Debt Default – Many reporters in Europe seem to think that this is becoming increasingly likely.  So what would a disorderly Greek debt default mean for the global financial system?  A leaked report that was authored by the Institute of International Finance says that a disorderly Greek debt default would have some very serious consequences.  You can read the full text of that leaked report right here.

#4 An Economic Collapse In Spain – Spain has one of the largest economies in Europe and it is rapidly becoming a basket case.  As I have written about previously, the unemployment rate in Spain has hit 19.9 percent, and the unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 is up to 49.9 percent.  Unfortunately, the situation in Spain continues to deteriorate.  The following is from a recent article by Marc Chandler….

However, the devolution in Spain is particularly troubling. The new fiscal compact had just been signed last week, which includes somewhat more rigorous fiscal rule and enforcement, when Spain’s PM Rajoy revealed that this year’s deficit would come in around 5.8 percent of GDP rather the 4.4 percent target. This of course follows last year’s 8.5 percent overshoot of the 6 percent target.

The problem that for Spain is that the 4.4 percent target was based on forecasts for more than 2 percent growth this year. However, in late February, the EU cuts its forecast to a 1 percent contraction. This still seems optimistic. The IMF forecasts a 1.7 percent contraction, which the Spanish government now accepts.

#5 The Price Of Gasoline – The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen for 27 days in a row and is now up to $3.77.  Virtually all forms of economic activity are affected by the price of gasoline, and if the price of gas keeps going up it is eventually going to have dramatic consequences for the U.S. economy.

#6 The Student Loan Debt Bubble – Just like we saw with the housing bubble, the student loan debt bubble just continues to grow and grow and grow.  At some point the nearly 1 trillion dollar bubble is going to burst.  What effect will it have on our financial system when that finally happens?

#7 State And Local Government Debt Crisis – It is being reported that California is running out of cash again and there are cities all over the country that are on the verge of bankruptcy.  Could we see a significant municipal bond crisis in the next 12 months?

#8 The Collapse Of A Major U.S. Bank – A number of top U.S. banks are looking increasingly shaky.  In a recent article, David Trainer explained why he has such serious concerns about Bank of America right now….

In my opinion, there are four actions taken by financial services that signal the company is headed to serious trouble.

1. Management shake-up and major layoffs – lots of layoffs over the past year

2. Exploiting accounting rules to boost earnings – SFAS 159

3. Drawing down reserves to boost earnings: to the tune of $13.3 billion in 2011 and 2012

4. Bilking customers with new fees: tried it before and trying it again

Bank of America has taken all four steps.

#9 A Derivatives Crisis – The International Swaps and Derivatives Association recently ruled that the Greek debt deal will not trigger payouts on credit default swaps.  This is seriously shaking confidence in the global market for derivatives.  But the global financial system simply cannot afford a major derivatives crisis.

Estimates of the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market range from $600 trillion all the way up to $1.5 quadrillion.  The notional value of all derivatives held by Bank of America is approximately $75 trillion.  JPMorgan Chase is holding derivatives with a notional value of approximately $79 trillion.

When the derivatives bubble finally bursts it is going to be a financial horror show unlike anything we have ever seen.

#10 The Fall Of The Japanese Economy – The Japanese economy shrank at a 2.3 percent rate during the fourth quarter of 2011.  Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of over 200 percent and a major debt crisis involving Japan could erupt at any time.

#11 A “Solar Megastorm” – Scientists tell us that there is a “1 in 8 chance” that a “solar megastorm” will hit the earth by 2014.  A recent Daily Mail article detailed what some of the consequences of such an event would be….

‘We live in a cyber cocoon enveloping the Earth. Imagine what the consequences might be,’ Daniel Baker, of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics told National Geographic when asked about a potential ‘megastorm’.

‘Every time you purchase a gallon of gas with your credit card, that’s a satellite transaction.

‘Imagine large cities without power for a week, a month, or a year. The losses could be $1 to $2 trillion, and the effects could be felt for years.

#12 A Major West Coast Earthquake Or Volcanic Eruption – On Monday, there was a 4.0 earthquake in San Francisco and a 6.1 earthquake in Argentina.  Is the “Ring of Fire” waking up again?

#13 Tornado Damage To Major U.S. Cities – Last year, the U.S. experienced one of the worst tornado seasons of all time.  This year, we have already seen the worst tornado outbreak ever recorded in the United States in the month of March.  A couple of towns in Indiana were completely wiped out by that outbreak.  So what should we expect when we get to the heart of tornado season this year?

#14 Severe Drought In The United States – Last summer was one of the driest summers on record in the United States, and in many areas there is simply not enough water available for farmers this year.  Some are even projecting that we could see “dust bowl conditions” return to some areas of the country eventually.

#15 An Asteroid Strike In 2013 – Although scientists tell us that the probability is extremely low, the truth is that there is a slight chance that a sizeable asteroid could hit the earth in February 2013.  The asteroid is estimated to be between 60 and 100 meters wide, and it is projected to pass by our planet “at a distance of under 27,000 km“.  If it did hit us (and scientists say that the odds of that happening are very low) it would potentially be as serious an event as the Tunguska Event in Siberia in 1908.  Mac Slavo of shtfplan.com recently described how awesome the Tunguska Event really was….

On June 30, 1908 an incoming meteor exploded approximately 5 miles above Siberia. The force of the air burst explosion, estimated at between 15 and 30 megatons, or about 1000 times bigger than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, was so powerful that it annihilated everything in an 830 square mile area, and reports suggest that that explosion was heard up to 1000 miles away. Because of the remoteness of the impact zone, the Tunguska Event over Siberia had very little effect on the human population in the region, but the destruction of some 80 million trees in the area shows just how powerful a blast was created.

Of course there are so many other “sudden change” events that could potentially happen – a terror event in a major U.S. city, a deadly pandemic, an EMP attack, cyberterrorism or a major political scandal could all possibly cause a stock market crash and an economic collapse in the United States.

In the world that we are living in today, you just never know what is going to happen.

So what are all of you concerned about over the next 12 months?

Do you see the potential for some “black swan events” to happen?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

The Coming Derivatives Crisis That Could Destroy The Entire Global Financial System

Most people have no idea that Wall Street has become a gigantic financial casino.  The big Wall Street banks are making tens of billions of dollars a year in the derivatives market, and nobody in the financial community wants the party to end.  The word “derivatives” sounds complicated and technical, but understanding them is really not that hard.  A derivative is essentially a fancy way of saying that a bet has been made.  Originally, these bets were designed to hedge risk, but today the derivatives market has mushroomed into a mountain of speculation unlike anything the world has ever seen before.  Estimates of the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market go from $600 trillion all the way up to $1.5 quadrillion.  Keep in mind that the GDP of the entire world is only somewhere in the neighborhood of $65 trillion.  The danger to the global financial system posed by derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”.  For now, the financial powers that be are trying to keep the casino rolling, but it is inevitable that at some point this entire mess is going to come crashing down.  When it does, we are going to be facing a derivatives crisis that really could destroy the entire global financial system.

Most people don’t talk much about derivatives because they simply do not understand them.

Perhaps a couple of definitions would be helpful.

The following is how a recent Bloomberg article defined derivatives….

Derivatives are financial instruments used to hedge risks or for speculation. They’re derived from stocks, bonds, loans, currencies and commodities, or linked to specific events such as changes in the weather or interest rates.

The key word there is “speculation”.  Today the folks down on Wall Street are speculating on just about anything that you can imagine.

The following is how Investopedia defines derivatives….

A security whose price is dependent upon or derived from one or more underlying assets. The derivative itself is merely a contract between two or more parties. Its value is determined by fluctuations in the underlying asset. The most common underlying assets include stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates and market indexes. Most derivatives are characterized by high leverage.

A derivative has no underlying value of its own.  A derivative is essentially a side bet.  Usually these side bets are highly leveraged.

At this point, making side bets has totally gotten out of control in the financial world.  Side bets are being made on just about anything you can possibly imagine, and the major Wall Street banks are making a ton of money from it.  This system is almost entirely unregulated and it is totally dominated by the big international banks.

Over the past couple of decades, the derivatives market has multiplied in size.  Everything is going to be fine as long as the system stays in balance.  But once it gets out of balance we could witness a string of financial crashes that no government on earth will be able to fix.

The amount of money that we are talking about is absolutely staggering.  Graham Summers of Phoenix Capital Research estimates that the notional value of the global derivatives market is $1.4 quadrillion, and in an article for Seeking Alpha he tried to put that number into perspective….

If you add up the value of every stock on the planet, the entire market capitalization would be about $36 trillion. If you do the same process for bonds, you’d get a market capitalization of roughly $72 trillion.

The notional value of the derivative market is roughly $1.4 QUADRILLION.

I realize that number sounds like something out of Looney tunes, so I’ll try to put it into perspective.

$1.4 Quadrillion is roughly:

-40 TIMES THE WORLD’S STOCK MARKET.

-10 TIMES the value of EVERY STOCK & EVERY BOND ON THE PLANET.

-23 TIMES WORLD GDP.

It is hard to fathom how much money a quadrillion is.

If you started counting right now at one dollar per second, it would take 32 million years to count to one quadrillion dollars.

Yes, the boys and girls down on Wall Street have gotten completely and totally out of control.

In an excellent article that he did on derivatives, Webster Tarpley described the pivotal role that derivatives now play in the global financial system….

Far from being some arcane or marginal activity, financial derivatives have come to represent the principal business of the financier oligarchy in Wall Street, the City of London, Frankfurt, and other money centers. A concerted effort has been made by politicians and the news media to hide and camouflage the central role played by derivative speculation in the economic disasters of recent years. Journalists and public relations types have done everything possible to avoid even mentioning derivatives, coining phrases like “toxic assets,” “exotic instruments,” and – most notably – “troubled assets,” as in Troubled Assets Relief Program or TARP, aka the monstrous $800 billion bailout of Wall Street speculators which was enacted in October 2008 with the support of Bush, Henry Paulson, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and the Obama Democrats.

Most people do not realize this, but derivatives were at the center of the financial crisis of 2008.

They will almost certainly be at the center of the next financial crisis as well.

For many, alarm bells went off the other day when it was revealed that Bank of America has moved a big chunk of derivatives from its failing Merrill Lynch investment banking unit to its depository arm.

So what does that mean?

An article posted on The Daily Bail the other day explained that it means that U.S. taxpayers could end up holding the bag….

This means that the investment bank’s European derivatives exposure is now backstopped by U.S. taxpayers. Bank of America didn’t get regulatory approval to do this, they just did it at the request of frightened counterparties. Now the Fed and the FDIC are fighting as to whether this was sound. The Fed wants to “give relief” to the bank holding company, which is under heavy pressure.

This is a direct transfer of risk to the taxpayer done by the bank without approval by regulators and without public input.

So did you hear about this on the news?

Probably not.

Today, the notional value of all the derivatives held by Bank of America comes to approximately $75 trillion.

JPMorgan Chase is holding derivatives with a notional value of about $79 trillion.

It is hard to even conceive of such figures.

Right now, the banks with the most exposure to derivatives are JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and HSBC Bank USA.

Morgan Stanley also has tremendous exposure to derivatives.

You may have noticed that these are some of the “too big to fail” banks.

The biggest U.S. banks continue to grow and they continue to get even more power.

Back in 2002, the top 10 U.S. banks controlled 55 percent of all U.S. banking assets.  Today, the top 10 U.S. banks control 77 percent of all U.S. banking assets.

These banks have gotten so big and so powerful that if they collapsed our entire financial system would implode.

You would have thought that we would have learned our lesson back in 2008 and would have done something about this, but instead we have allowed the “too big to bail” banks to become bigger than ever.

And they pretty much do whatever they want.

A while back, the New York Times published an article entitled “A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives“.  That article exposed the steel-fisted control that the “too big to fail” banks exert over the trading of derivatives.  Just consider the following excerpt from the article….

On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.

The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.

So what institutions are represented at these meetings?

Well, according to the New York Times, the following banks are involved: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup.

Why do those same five names seem to keep popping up time after time?

Sadly, these five banks keep pouring money into the campaigns of politicians that supported the bailouts in 2008 and that they know will bail them out again when the next financial crisis strikes.

Those that defend the wild derivatives trading that is going on today claim that Wall Street has accounted for all of the risks and they assume that the issuing banks will always be able to cover all of the derivative contracts that they write.

But that is a faulty assumption.  Just look at AIG back in 2008.  When the housing market collapsed AIG was on the wrong end of a massive number of derivative contracts and it would have gone “bust” without gigantic bailouts from the federal government.  If the bailouts of AIG had not happened, Goldman Sachs and a whole lot of other people would have been left standing there with a whole bunch of worthless paper.

It is inevitable that the same thing is going to happen again.  Except next time it may be on a much grander scale.

When “the house” goes “bust”, everybody loses.  The governments of the world could step in and try to bail everyone out, but the reality is that when the derivatives market comes totally crashing down there won’t be any government on earth with enough money to put it back together again.

A horrible derivatives crisis is coming.

It is only a matter of time.

Stay alert for any mention of the word “derivatives” or the term “derivatives crisis” in the news.  When the derivatives crisis arrives, things will start falling apart very rapidly.

 

12 Economic Collapse Scenarios That We Could Potentially See In 2011

What could cause an economic collapse in 2011? Well, unfortunately there are quite a few “nightmare scenarios” that could plunge the entire globe into another massive financial crisis.  The United States, Japan and most of the nations in Europe are absolutely drowning in debt.  The Federal Reserve continues to play reckless games with the U.S. dollar.  The price of oil is skyrocketing and the global price of food just hit a new record high.  Food riots are already breaking out all over the world.  Meanwhile, the rampant fraud and corruption going on in world financial markets is starting to be exposed and the whole house of cards could come crashing down at any time.  Most Americans have no idea that a horrific economic collapse could happen at literally any time.  There is no way that all of this debt and all of this financial corruption is sustainable.  At some point we are going to reach a moment of “total system failure”.

So will it be soon?  Let’s hope not.  Let’s certainly hope that it does not happen in 2011.  Many of us need more time to prepare.  Most of our families and friends need more time to prepare.  Once this thing implodes there isn’t going to be an opportunity to have a “do over”.  We simply will not be able to put the toothpaste back into the tube again.

So we had all better be getting prepared for hard times.  The following are 12 economic collapse scenarios that we could potentially see in 2011….

#1 U.S. debt could become a massive crisis at any moment.  China is saying all of the right things at the moment, but many analysts are openly worried about what could happen if China suddenly decides to start dumping all of the U.S. debt that they have accumulated.  Right now about the only thing keeping U.S. government finances going is the ability to borrow gigantic amounts of money at extremely low interest rates.  If anything upsets that paradigm, it could potentially have enormous consequences for the entire world financial system.

#2 Speaking of threats to the global financial system, it turns out that “quantitative easing 2” has had the exact opposite effect that Ben Bernanke planned for it to have.  Bernanke insisted that the main goal of QE2 was to lower interest rates, but instead all it has done is cause interest rates to go up substantially.  If Bernanke this incompetent or is he trying to mess everything up on purpose?

#3 The debt bubble that the entire global economy is based on could burst at any time and throw the whole planet into chaos.  According to a new report from the World Economic Forum, the total amount of credit in the world increased from $57 trillion in 2000 to $109 trillion in 2009.  The WEF says that now the world is going to need another $100 trillion in credit to support projected “economic growth” over the next decade.  So is this how the new “global economy” works?  We just keep doubling the total amount of debt every decade?

#4 As the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve continue to pump massive amounts of new dollars into the system, the floor could fall out from underneath the U.S. dollar at any time.  The truth is that we are already starting to see inflation really accelerate and everyone pretty much acknowledges that official U.S. governments figures for inflation are an absolute joke.  According to one new study, the cost of college tuition has risen 286% over the last 20 years, and the cost of “hospital, nursing-home and adult-day-care services” rose 269% during those same two decades.  All of this happened during a period of supposedly “low” inflation.  So what are price increases going to look like when we actually have “high” inflation?

#5 One of the primary drivers of global inflation during 2011 could be the price of oil.  A large number of economists are now projecting that the price of oil could surge well past $100 dollars a barrel in 2011.  If that happens, it is going to put significant pressure on the price of almost everything else in the entire global economy.  In fact, as I have explained previously, the higher the price of oil goes, the faster the U.S. economy will decline.

#6 Food inflation is already so bad in some areas of the globe that it is setting off massive food riots in nations such as Tunisia and Algeria.  In fact, there have been reports of people setting themselves on fire all over the Middle East as a way to draw attention to how desperate they are.  So what is going to happen if global food prices go up another 10 or 20 percent and food riots spread literally all over the globe during 2011?

#7 There are persistent rumors that simply will not go away of massive physical gold and silver shortages.  Demand for precious metals has never been higher.  So what is going to happen when many investors begin to absolutely insist on physical delivery of their precious metals?  What is going to happen when the fact that far, far, far more “paper gold” and “paper silver” has been sold than has ever actually physically existed in the history of the planet starts to come out?  What would that do to the price of gold and silver?

#8 The U.S. housing industry could plunge the U.S. economy into another recession at any time.  The real estate market is absolutely flooded with homes and virtually nobody is buying.  This massive oversupply of homes means that the construction of new homes has fallen off a cliff.  In 2010, only 703,000 single family, multi-family and manufactured homes were completed.  This was a new record low, and it was down 17% from the previous all-time record which had just been set in 2009.

#9 A combination of extreme weather and disease could make this an absolutely brutal year for U.S. farmers.  This winter we have already seen thousands of new cold weather and snowfall records set across the United States.  Now there is some very disturbing news emerging out of Florida of an “incurable bacteria” that is ravaging citrus crops all over Florida.  Is there a reason why so many bad things are happening all of a sudden?

#10 The municipal bond crisis could go “supernova” at any time.  Already, investors are bailing out of bonds at a frightening pace.  State and local government debt is now sitting at an all-time high of 22 percent of U.S. GDP.  According to Meredith Whitney, the municipal bond crisis that we are facing is a gigantic threat to our financial system….

“It has tentacles as wide as anything I’ve seen. I think next to housing this is the single most important issue in the United States and certainly the largest threat to the U.S. economy.”

Former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan is convinced that things are so bad that literally 90% of our states and cities could go bankrupt over the next five years….

#11 Of course on top of everything else, the quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble could burst at any time.  Right now we are watching the greatest financial casino in the history of the globe spin around and around and around and everyone is hoping that at some point it doesn’t stop.  Today, most money on Wall Street is not made by investing in good business ideas.  Rather, most money on Wall Street is now made by making the best bets.  Unfortunately, at some point the casino is going to come crashing down and the game will be over.

#12 The biggest wildcard of all is war.  The Korean peninsula came closer to war in 2010 than it had in decades.  The Middle East could literally explode at any time.  We live in a world where a single weapon can take out an entire city in an instant.  All it would take is a mid-size war or a couple of weapons of mass destruction to throw the entire global economy into absolute turmoil.

Once again, let us hope that none of these economic collapse scenarios happens in 2011.

However, we have got to realize that we can’t keep dodging these bullets forever.

As bad as 2010 was, the truth is that it went about as good as any of us could have hoped.  Things are still pretty stable and times are still pretty good right now.

But instead of using these times to “party”, we should be using them to prepare.

A really, really vicious economic storm is coming and it is going to be a complete and total nightmare.  Get ready, hold on tight, and say your prayers.

Derivatives: The Quadrillion Dollar Financial Casino Completely Dominated By The Big International Banks

If you took an opinion poll and asked Americans what they considered the biggest threat to the world economy to be, how many of them do you think would give “derivatives” as an answer?  But the truth is that derivatives were at the heart of the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, and whenever the next financial crisis happens derivatives will undoubtedly play a huge role once again.  So exactly what are “derivatives”?  Well, derivatives are basically financial instruments whose value depends upon or is derived from the price of something else.  A derivative has no underlying value of its own.  It is essentially a side bet.  Today, the world financial system has been turned into a giant casino where bets are made on just about anything you can possibly imagine, and the major Wall Street banks make a ton of money from it.  The system is largely unregulated (the new “Wall Street reform” law will only change this slightly) and it is totally dominated by the big international banks.

Nobody knows for certain how large the worldwide derivatives market is, but most estimates usually put the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market somewhere over a quadrillion dollars.  If that is accurate, that means that the worldwide derivatives market is 20 times larger than the GDP of the entire world.  It is hard to even conceive of 1,000,000,000,000,000 dollars.

Counting at one dollar per second, it would take you 32 million years to count to one quadrillion.

So who controls this unbelievably gigantic financial casino?

Would it surprise you to learn that it is the big international banks that control it?

The New York Times has just published an article entitled “A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives“.  Shockingly, the most important newspaper in the United States has exposed the steel-fisted control that the big Wall Street banks exert over the trading of derivatives.  Just consider the following excerpt from the article….

On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.

The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.

Does that sound shady or what?

In fact, it wouldn’t be stretching things to say that these meetings sound very much like a “conspiracy”.

The New York Times even named several of the Wall Street banks involved: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup.

Why does it seem like all financial roads eventually lead back to these monolithic financial institutions?

The highly touted “Wall Street reform” law that was recently passed will implement some very small changes in how derivatives are traded, but these giant Wall Street banks are pushing back hard against even those very small changes as the article in The New York Times noted….

“The revenue these dealers make on derivatives is very large and so the incentive they have to protect those revenues is extremely large,” said Darrell Duffie, a professor at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, who studied the derivatives market earlier this year with Federal Reserve researchers. “It will be hard for the dealers to keep their market share if everybody who can prove their creditworthiness is allowed into the clearinghouses. So they are making arguments that others shouldn’t be allowed in.”

So why should we be so concerned about all of this?

Well, because the truth is that derivatives could end up crashing the entire global financial system.

In fact, the danger that we face from derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once referred to them as “financial weapons of mass destruction”.

In a previous article, I described how derivatives played a central role in almost collapsing insurance giant AIG during the recent financial crisis….

Most Americans don’t realize it, but derivatives played a major role in the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

Do you remember how AIG was constantly in the news for a while there?

Well, they weren’t in financial trouble because they had written a bunch of bad insurance policies.

What had happened is that a subsidiary of AIG had lost more than $18 billion on Credit Default Swaps (derivatives) it had written, and additional losses from derivatives were on the way which could have caused the complete collapse of the insurance giant.

So the U.S. government stepped in and bailed them out – all at U.S. taxpayer expense of course.

As the recent debate over Wall Street reform demonstrated, the sad reality is that the U.S. Congress is never going to step in and seriously regulate derivatives.

That means that a quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble is going to perpetually hang over the U.S. economy until the day that it inevitably bursts.

Once it does, there will not be enough money in the entire world to fix it.

Meanwhile, the big international banks will continue to run the largest casino that the world has ever seen.  Trillions of dollars will continue to spin around at an increasingly dizzying pace until the day when a disruption to the global economy comes along that is serious enough to crash the entire thing.

The worldwide derivatives market is based primarily on credit and it is approximately ten times larger than it was back in the late 90s.  There has never been anything quite like it in the history of the world.

So what in the world is going to happen when this thing implodes?  Are U.S. taxpayers going to be expected to pick up the pieces once again?  Is the Federal Reserve just going to zap tens of trillions or hundreds of trillions of dollars into existence to bail everyone out?

If you want one sign to watch for that will indicate when an economic collapse is really starting to happen, then watch the derivatives market.  When derivatives implode it will be time to duck and cover.  A really bad derivatives crash would essentially be similar to dropping a nuke on the entire global financial system.  Let us hope that it does not happen any time soon, but let us also be ready for when it does.

11 Long-Term Trends That Are Absolutely Destroying The U.S. Economy

The U.S. economy is being slowly but surely destroyed and many Americans have no idea that it is happening.  That is at least partially due to the fact that most financial news is entirely focused on the short-term.  Whenever a key economic statistic goes up the financial markets surge and analysts rejoice.  Whenever a key economic statistic goes down the financial markets decline and analysts speak of the potential for a “double-dip” recession.  You could literally get whiplash as you watch the financial ping pong ball bounce back and forth between good news and bad news.  But focusing on short-term statistics is not the correct way to analyze the U.S. economy.  It is the long-term trends that reveal the truth.  The reality is that there are certain underlying foundational problems that are destroying the U.S. economy a little bit more every single day.

11 of those foundational problems are discussed below.  They are undeniable and they are constantly getting worse.  If they are not corrected (and there is no indication that they will be) they will destroy not only our economy but also our entire way of life.  The sad truth is that it would be hard to understate just how desperate the situation is for the U.S. economy. 

Long-Term Trend #1: The Deindustrialization Of America

The United States is being deindustrialized at a pace that is almost impossible to believe.  But now that millions upon millions of people have lost their jobs, more Americans than ever are starting to wake up and believe it.

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 69 percent of Americans now believe that free trade agreements have cost America jobs.  Ten years ago the majority of Americans had great faith in the new “global economy” that we were all being merged into, but now the tide has turned.

So why have Americans lost faith in “free trade”?

Well, it turns out that the current system is neither “free trade” nor “fair trade”.  Many other nations impose extremely high tariffs on U.S. goods and put up ridiculous barriers to American products and yet the United States has generally let everyone else openly manipulate currency rates and flood our shores with whatever cheap products they want.

The results have been disastrous.  Jobs and factories have been leaving the United States at a blinding pace.

The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001.  An economy without a manufacturing base does not have a bright long-term future.  Yet our politicians have allowed our manufacturing base to be systematically dismantled.

As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing.  The last time that less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

How is the United States supposed to have a bright economic future if it consumes everything in sight and yet makes very little?

Something needs to be done.

In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of all U.S. economic output.  In 2008, it represented only 11.5 percent and it continues to fall.

Needless to say, millions of blue collar workers now find themselves unable to find jobs.  Today, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one person that is looking for a full-time job and there is no sign that things are going to improve much any time soon.

Long-Term Trend #2: The Exploding U.S. Trade Deficit

Each month, tens of billions more dollars go out of the United States than come into it.  In other words, every single month the United States gets poorer.

Recently, the U.S. trade deficit has been coming in at around 40 to 50 billion dollars a month.  About half of that is with communist China.

Between 2000 and 2009, America’s trade deficit with China increased nearly 300 percent.

Sadly, things are getting even worse.

As of the end of July, the U.S. trade deficit with China had risen 18 percent compared to the same time period a year ago.

There is a reason why China has been able to loan the U.S. government nearly a trillion dollars.  They have literally been bleeding us dry.

The United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States.

Does that sound like “fair trade” to you?

According to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, if the U.S. trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.

Half a million jobs in just one year?

And that doesn’t even take into account the trade deficit that we have with all the other nations around the world.

We have literally built China into a superpower.

One prominent economist is now projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

But it isn’t just China that is a problem.

Since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994, 300,000 U.S. farms have gone out of business.

Globalism has forced U.S. workers to directly compete with the cheapest labor in the world for jobs.  That is not good for American workers and it is not good for America.

Long-Term Trend #3: The Shrinking Middle Class

As jobs continue to flee the United States and as wages continue to be depressed, America’s middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate.

According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck.  That was up substantially from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

Unfortunately, a growing number of Americans have found it impossible to make it from month to month without direct financial assistance from the federal government.

41 million Americans are now on food stamps.  One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government.  Economic pain is everywhere.

Tens of millions of Americans now live in poverty.  The U.S. Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that is the highest number of poor Americans that they have ever recorded in 51 years of record-keeping.

Long-Term Trend #4: The Growing Size Of The U.S. Government

No matter whether it is a Republican or a Democrat in the White House, the size of the U.S. government has continued to grow by leaps and bounds in recent years.

This is a tremendous drain on the U.S. economy.  The government produces very little value for the economy and yet costs a colossal amount to maintain.

In addition, multiplying government regulations have caused the United States to be a very difficult environment to operate a business in. 

The Federal Register is the main source of regulations for U.S. government agencies.  In 1936, the number of pages in the Federal Register was about 2,600.  Today, the Federal Register is over 80,000 pages long.

Long-Term Trend #5: The Constantly Growing U.S. National Debt

The United States has accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world and every single month it gets worse.

According to an official U.S. Treasury Department report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and will climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

Do we really want to pass on a 20 trillion dollar debt to our children and grandchildren?

But the truth is that the situation is actually a lot worse than that.

If the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion to $5 trillion each and every year.

Needless to say, that is not anywhere close to sustainable.  We are literally destroying our economic future with all of this debt.

Long-Term Trend #6: The Ongoing Devaluation Of The U.S. Dollar

The Federal Reserve constantly destroys the value of the U.S. dollar.  Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power.

An item that cost $20.00 in 1970 would cost you $112.35 today.  An item that cost $20.00 in 1913 would cost you $440.33 today.

Inflation is like a hidden tax.  The value of the dollars you are holding right now will decline a little bit more each and every month. 

And now that the Federal Reserve is threatening to unleash another round of quantitative easing, it appears that the value of our dollars will soon be declining even more rapidly.

Long-Term Trend #7: The Derivatives Bubble

The one thing that the “Wall Street reform bill” should have done was that it should have done something about the horrific abuses in the derivatives markets.  Instead, the Wall Street reform bill did next to nothing about derivatives and instead imposed hundreds of other useless regulations on Wall Street.

Most Americans don’t even know what derivatives are.  Basically, they are side bets.  They have no underlying value of their own.  But today derivatives have taken center stage on Wall Street.  Our financial markets have become a gigantic casino.

The total value of all derivatives worldwide is estimated to be somewhere between 600 trillion and 1.5 quadrillion dollars.  And thanks to the U.S. Congress, the derivatives bubble is still growing.

It would be hard to understate the danger that the derivatives bubble represents.  The danger from derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”.  

When the derivatives bubble finally pops, there will not be enough money in the entire world to fix it.

Long-Term Trend #8: The Health Care Industry

The United States health care system is completely and totally broken.  It has become a gigantic money making machine for health insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations and greedy lawyers.

Americans pay more for health care than anyone else in the world and yet they get shockingly little in return.

Health care expenses are the number one reason why people file for personal bankrupty in the United States.  Surprisingly, most of those who get bankrupted by health care expenses actually have health insurance.

The health insurance system in the United States is a complete and total mess.  Health insurance premiums are busting the budgets of tens of millions of American families and yet they are getting ready to go up yet once again. 

Already, large numbers of health insurance companies across the United States have announced that they plan to increase health insurance premiums in response to the new health care law.

But do health insurance companies actually need more money?  Even as the rest of the U.S. economy deeply struggles, America’s health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent in 2009.

At least someone is doing well in this economy.

The truth is that the U.S. health care system needs to be totally and completely reinvented.  The system we had before did not work.  Barack Obama’s new health care system will be far worse.  Meanwhile, the health care industry is literally choking the life out of the U.S. economy.

Long-Term Trend #9: Financial Power Is Becoming Concentrated In Fewer And Fewer Hands

Once upon a time, the United States had a very diverse financial system.  But today financial power is becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands with each passing year.

More U.S. banks fail every single week.  In fact, the number of bank failures is on pace to far surpass the total of 140 U.S. banks that failed last year.

There are now nearly 900 banks (well over 10 percent of all U.S. banks) on the FDIC list of problem banks.

Meanwhile, the “too big to fail” banks continue to pick up market share.  The “big four” U.S. banks (Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo) had approximately 22 percent of all deposits in FDIC-insured institutions back in 2000.  As of June 30th of last year that figure was up to 39 percent.

Putting an increasing amount of financial power into the hands of just a few elite banks is a recipe for disaster any way you want to cut it.

Long-Term Trend #10: Rampant Corruption On Wall Street

Our financial system has become an absolute cesspool of corruption.  In the past I have written extensively about all of the corruption that Goldman Sachs has been involved in, but they are far from alone.

In fact, it seems like new stories of financial corruption emerge almost daily now.

For example, just recently Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage have all suspended foreclosures in many U.S. states due to serious concerns about foreclosure procedures.

But there is a lot of corruption that is a lot worse than that.  The rampant manipulation of the gold and silver markets was completely blown open by an industry insider earlier this year, but the U.S. government had to be publicly shamed before they would even agree to look into it. 

The truth is that corruption on Wall Street has become so common that it is almost impossible to keep up with it all.  It seems like no matter what stone you turn over on Wall Street these days you find yet more corruption.

But if the core of our financial system is so incredibly corrupt, how long will it be before it collapses in on itself?

Long-Term Trend #11: The Growing Retirement Crisis That Threatens To Bankrupt America

The Baby Boomers may end up bankrupting America after all.  A retirement tsunami is coming that threatens to drown our nation in a sea of red ink.

The truth is that Americans have not been preparing for retirement on their own.  One shocking new study indicates that Americans are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.

In fact, approximately half of all workers in the United States have less than $2000 saved up for retirement.

So what about corporate pension plans?

Are they in good shape?

No.

One recent study found that America’s 100 largest corporate pension plans were underfunded by $217 billion as of the end of 2008.

But sadly, the pension plans run by U.S. state governments are in even worse shape.

Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management recently calculated the combined pension liability of all 50 U.S. states.  What they found was that the 50 states are collectively facing $5.17 trillion in pension obligations, but they only have $1.94 trillion set aside in state pension funds.  That means that collectively, the 50 U.S. state governments are 3.2 trillion dollars short of what they need to meet their pension obligations.

But the biggest mess of all may be the U.S. Social Security system.

The sad reality is that anyone that has studied it closely knows that it is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, and the scam has just about run its course.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes in 2010.  That was not supposed to happen until at least 2016.

Oops.

But things get really hairy when you start looking down the road.

The present value of projected scheduled benefits surpasses earmarked revenues for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare by about 46 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.

Ouch.

It is time to face facts people.

We are in deep, deep, deep trouble.

An increasing number of Americans are starting to realize this.  They may not always know the specifics of what is going wrong, but more people than ever realize that something is broken.  According to one recent survey, 63 percent of Americans believe that the United States is on the wrong track.

And we are very much on the wrong track.  We have squandered the great wealth that our parents and grandparents left us and we are wrecking the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen.

If we do not get our act together, someday people will look back and will curse this generation for how incredibly stupid we were.

The Horrific Derivatives Bubble That Could One Day Destroy The Entire World Financial System

Today there is a horrific derivatives bubble that threatens to destroy not only the U.S. economy but the entire world financial system as well, but unfortunately the vast majority of people do not understand it.  When you say the word “derivatives” to most Americans, they have no idea what you are talking about.  In fact, even most members of the U.S. Congress don’t really seem to understand them.  But you don’t have to get into all the technicalities to understand the bigger picture.  Basically, derivatives are financial instruments whose value depends upon or is derived from the price of something else.  A derivative has no underlying value of its own.  It is essentially a side bet.  Originally, derivatives were mostly used to hedge risk and to offset the possibility of taking losses.  But today it has gone way, way beyond that.  Today the world financial system has become a gigantic casino where insanely large bets are made on anything and everything that you can possibly imagine. 

The derivatives market is almost entirely unregulated and in recent years it has ballooned to such enormous proportions that it is almost hard to believe.  Today, the worldwide derivatives market is approximately 20 times the size of the entire global economy.

Because derivatives are so unregulated, nobody knows for certain exactly what the total value of all the derivatives worldwide is, but low estimates put it around 600 trillion dollars and high estimates put it at around 1.5 quadrillion dollars. 

Do you know how large one quadrillion is?

Counting at one dollar per second, it would take 32 million years to count to one quadrillion.

If you want to attempt it, you might want to get started right now.

To put that in perspective, the gross domestic product of the United States is only about 14 trillion dollars.

In fact, the total market cap of all major global stock markets is only about 30 trillion dollars.

So when you are talking about 1.5 quadrillion dollars, you are talking about an amount of money that is almost inconceivable.

So what is going to happen when this insanely large derivatives bubble pops?

Well, the truth is that the danger that we face from derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet has called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”.

Unfortunately, he is not exaggerating.

It would be hard to understate the financial devastation that we could potentially be facing. 

A number of years back, French President Jacques Chirac referred to derivatives as “financial AIDS”.

The reality is that when this bubble pops there won’t be enough money in the entire world to fix it.

But ignorance is bliss, and most people simply do not understand these complex financial instruments enough to be worried about them.

Unfortunately, just because most of us do not understand the danger does not mean that the danger has been eliminated.

In a recent column, Dr. Jerome Corsi of WorldNetDaily noted that even many institutional investors have gotten sucked into investing in derivatives without even understanding the incredible risk they were facing….

A key problem with derivatives is that in the attempt to reduce costs or prevent losses, institutional investors typically accepted complex risks that carried little-understood liabilities widely disproportionate to any potential savings the derivatives contract may have initially obtained.

The hedge-fund and derivatives markets are so highly complex and technical that even many top economists and investment-banking professionals don’t fully understand them.

Moreover, both the hedge-fund and the derivatives markets are almost totally unregulated, either by the U.S. government or by any other government worldwide.

Most Americans don’t realize it, but derivatives played a major role in the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

Do you remember how AIG was constantly in the news for a while there?

Well, they weren’t in financial trouble because they had written a bunch of bad insurance policies.

What had happened is that a subsidiary of AIG had lost more than $18 billion on Credit Default Swaps (derivatives) it had written, and additional losses from derivatives were on the way which could have caused the complete collapse of the insurance giant.

So the U.S. government stepped in and bailed them out – all at U.S. taxpayer expense of course.

But the AIG incident was actually quite small compared to what could be coming.  The derivatives market has become so monolithic that even a relatively minor imbalance in the global economy could set off a chain reaction that would have devastating consequences. 

In his recent article on derivatives, Webster Tarpley described the central role that derivatives now play in our financial system….

Far from being some arcane or marginal activity, financial derivatives have come to represent the principal business of the financier oligarchy in Wall Street, the City of London, Frankfurt, and other money centers. A concerted effort has been made by politicians and the news media to hide and camouflage the central role played by derivative speculation in the economic disasters of recent years. Journalists and public relations types have done everything possible to avoid even mentioning derivatives, coining phrases like “toxic assets,” “exotic instruments,” and – most notably – “troubled assets,” as in Troubled Assets Relief Program or TARP, aka the monstrous $800 billion bailout of Wall Street speculators which was enacted in October 2008 with the support of Bush, Henry Paulson, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and the Obama Democrats.

But wasn’t the financial reform law that Congress just passed supposed to fix all this?

Well, the truth is that you simply cannot “fix” a 1.5 quadrillion dollar problem, but yes, the financial reform law was supposed to put some new restrictions on derivatives.

And initially, there were some somewhat significant reforms contained in the bill.  But after the vast horde of Wall Street lobbyists in Washington got done doing their thing, the derivatives reforms were almost completely and totally neutered.

So the rampant casino gambling continues and everybody on Wall Street is happy.

For now.

One day some event will happen which will cause a sudden shift in world financial markets and trillions of dollars of losses in derivatives will create a tsunami that will bring the entire house of cards down.

All of the money in the world will not be enough to bail out the financial system when that day arrives.

The truth is that we should have never allowed world financial markets to become a giant casino. 

But we did.

Soon enough we will all pay the price, and when that disastrous day comes, most Americans will still not understand what is happening.

“Things Are Never Going To Get THAT Bad”

Our recent article, “20 Things You Will Need To Survive When The Economy Collapses And The Next Great Depression Begins“, has drawn some intense criticism from those who believe that the U.S. economy is so strong that it could never completely and totally collapse.  In fact, this blog is being accused of officially going off the deep end.  Why?  It’s not because we are pointing out that the economy is bad.  After all, according to a recent Pew Research national poll, 88 percent of Americans rate national economic conditions as only fair or poor.  No, rather it is because we are projecting the eventual complete and total collapse of the U.S. economy.  There still seems to be a belief among a large number of Americans “that things are never going to get THAT bad”.  But they are going to get that bad.  It’s just that most people do not realize it yet.

But while times are still good (and what we are experiencing now is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming), large numbers of people are going to continue to live in denial.  In fact, those who try to warn people about what is coming are going to be accused of “fear-mongering”.  One recent commenter even accused us of totally going off the deep end like many of the Y2K alarmists did….

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“Ok – you’ve officially fallen off the deep end. This blog went from legitimate economic concerns to grand fear mongering. This is the same as Y2K all over again. I have friends who still have bunkers and thousands of dollars of expired canned food and you’re suggesting they go do it again…”

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First of all, it was completely and totally obvious that Y2K was going to be a non-event to anyone with a bit of common sense.  There was simply no way that a “computer glitch” that was foreseeable years ahead of time was going to cause the collapse of society.

What is happening with the U.S. economy now is completely different.  We have built an entire economic system on ever-increasing amounts of debt and paper money, and anyone with half a brain should be able to see that such a system is not sustainable in the long-term.  The collapse of the economy is inevitable due to the way that it was constructed.

As for having “thousands of dollars of expired canned food”, that would not be a problem if you rotated the food that you have stored.  You eat the old stuff first and you replace it with new food that you have purchased.

But the commenter above was not the only one to accuse us of trying to scare people….

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“How does the economic collapse lead to a complete halt to all economic activity? More people may be poorer, but they will still have some money to motivate others to produce for a market. The natural disaster scenario seems more plausible for this type of warning. More and more foreclosures don’t. This posting is a bit much for me, seems just some much scaremongering.”

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The commenter is right about one thing – a few bad economic statistics are not enough to run out and start preparing for the collapse of society.  After all, the American economy has always recovered no matter what happened before.  If we made it through the Great Depression, we can make it through this, right?

Well, the truth is that there are some fundamental differences between what is happening now and what happened during the Great Depression.

During the Great Depression, most Americans were not up to their eyeballs in credit card debt, car payments, student loans and mortgage debt.

During the Great Depression, most Americans either owned their land or had a great deal of equity in their land.  As we wrote about recently, today that is not the case.  Equity as a percentage of home value in the United States has been hitting all-time record lows.

During the Great Depression, most Americans were not dependent on giant corporations to feed and supply us.  Back then, the majority of Americans knew how to live off the land and grew at least some of their own food.  Today that is most definitely not the case.

During the Great Depression, America still had the greatest manufacturing base in the entire world.  Today we have “offshored” our once great manufacturing base, and we have become a fat, spoiled society that consumes everything in sight but manufactures very little.

During the Great Depression, America did not have a colossal trade deficit.  Today we have got the biggest trade deficit in the history of the world.

During the Great Depression, the wealth of Americans was not being sucked dry by dozens of different kinds of taxes.  Today we are being taxed in so many various ways that many Americans actually end up spending over half their incomes just in taxes.

During the Great Depression, the U.S. government had debt, but it was not threatening to collapse the entire global economy.  Today the U.S. government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.

During the Great Depression, derivatives were not even an issue.  Today, we have created a derivatives bubble that is now well beyond a quadrillion dollars.

Just think about that.

Over 1,000,000,000,000,000 dollars.

Counting at one dollar per second, it would take 32 million years to count to one quadrillion.

In fact, renowned investor Warren Buffett has warned that derivatives are “financial weapons of mass destruction” that could bring down the entire world economic system.

And he is right.

When derivatives collapse, there is not enough money in the world to fix the mess that will be created.  All of the governments in the world working together would not be able to print money fast enough to even make a dent in the colossal wave of red ink that would be created.

The truth is that the U.S. economy (and the world economy for that matter) is teetering on top of a giant pyramid of debt and paper that is on the verge of coming down like a house of cards.

But if you do not want to believe this blog, perhaps you will listen to some of the top financial experts in the world who are also warning that a complete and total economic collapse is coming.

For example, Gerald Celente, the CEO of Trends Research Institute, is forecasting that we are going to see a devastating economic collapse by the year 2012.  It would be easy to dismiss him, except for the fact that he has a sterling track record of forecasts going back 3 decades, and he has appeared on almost all of the major news networks who have no problem relying on him as a source.  What Celente says is on the way for America is absolutely bone chilling….

But if you don’t want to listen to Celente, perhaps you will listen to Peter Schiff, the president of Euro Pacific Capital.  He accurately predicted the recent financial crisis, and he is also forecasting that a depression is on the way.  Schiff is convinced that we need to allow the current “Ponzi economy” to collapse so that something more substantial can arise from the ashes….

Jim Rogers is another financial expert that is forecasting a major economic collapse.  Jim Rogers was a co-founder of the Quantum Fund, and is a college professor, author, economic commentator, and creator of the Rogers International Commodities Index.  He says that civil unrest is on the way and that now is a good time to take up farming if you want to make it through what is coming….

The truth is that the vast majority of Americans have no idea just how vulnerable the U.S. economic system is.  A new Gallup poll has found that 44 percent of Americans believe that they could barely go a month before experiencing severe economic hardship if they lost their jobs.

How long could you go if you suddenly lost your job?

Right now the U.S. economy is being kept afloat by unprecedented U.S. government intervention and spending, but we all know that the U.S. government cannot keep spending money like it is water forever without very serious economic consequences.  To give you an idea of how desperate things have become, just check out the following graphic about the U.S. national debt that was featured in the Chicago Tribune….

Anyone who believes that such a tidal wave of red ink is sustainable please raise your hand.

The truth is that the U.S. economy is caught in a death spiral.

Already there are some areas of the United States that are literally dying.

For those who do not believe this fact, the following is a challenge for you….

Head down to Detroit and buy one of those houses that are on sale for less than a thousand dollars (in fact there have even been reports of some houses selling for a single dollar in Detroit), and try to live there for a month.

You will quickly learn what it is like to live in an area that is literally dying economically.

When people are hungry and they can’t get jobs they get desperate.

So far this year in Detroit, car thefts are up 83%, robberies are up 50%, burglaries are up 20% and property destruction is up 42%.

What is happening in Detroit is a preview of what is soon going to happen all over America.

So doubt it all you want, but all the doubting in the world is not going to stop what is coming.  The U.S. economy is dying so you better start getting ready.

The Prep Room

The Economic Collapse