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.

Start A Business? In The United States? Are You Kidding Me?

Many of you have decided that you are going to attempt to start a business in the United States today.  Many of you are still convinced that this is “the land of opportunity” and that starting a business is fairly easy.  Are you sure about that?  Are you certain that you have considered all of the headaches involved?  Are you sure that you are ready to handle the thousands of regulations that apply to your business and the mountains of paperwork mandated by various levels of government?  Are you prepared to deal with entrenched unions, predatory lawyers and rabid environmentalists?  The truth is that the business environment has never been this toxic in all of U.S. history.  So even if you are able to start a viable business that can compete with the monolithic global corporations that dominate our economy, you still might not be able to make it.  In the end, thousands upon thousands of businesses across America have been doomed to failure by ridiculous regulations, mountains of paperwork, health insurance costs, predatory lawsuits or corrupt government officials.  So do you really think that you can beat the odds?

Historically, small businesses have been the driving force behind America’s economic growth.  But today, we have made the business environment so complicated that small business owners are being completely smothered by red tape.

The following are 10 areas that anyone wishing to start a small business had better think about before moving forward.  When you really stop and think about it, the fact that anyone out there is still attempting to start small businesses in America today is absolutely amazing.

#1 Regulations

If you plan to start a business in America today, you better get a hold of a good lawyer.  In fact, if you want to be safe, you better get a small army of lawyers.  You are going to need an expert on the federal regulations that apply to your business, you are going to need an expert on the state regulations that apply to your business and you are going to need an expert on the local regulations that apply to your business.

There are going to literally be thousands of regulations that apply to any business started inside the United States today.  There is no way that you will ever be able to learn them all.  Not only that, but the truth is that your lawyers will only be aware of a small fraction of them.

Do you know what the Federal Register is?  The Federal Register is the primary 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.  That is just one example of how bad things have gotten.

So what do you do?  Well, just do your best to try to learn about the major regulations that apply to your business and pray that you don’t end up violating some important regulation that you are not even aware of.

#2 Paperwork

Do you know what paperwork the federal government expects you to fill out?  Do you know what paperwork the state government expects you to fill out?  Do you know what paperwork the city or the county expect you to fill out?  Do you know what paperwork you will be required to fill out when hiring a new employee?

The truth is that the paperwork burden on small businesses has multiplied in recent years.  Many small business owners are so swamped with paperwork that they barely have time to conduct their actual businesses.

For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is projecting that the food service industry will have to spend an additional 14 million hours every single year just to comply with a new federal regulation that mandates that all vending machine operators and chain restaurants must label all products that they sell with a calorie count in a location visible to the consumer.

14 million hours just to comply with one ridiculous regulation?  Yes, that is how bizarre things have gotten in America in 2010.

#3 Fees And Fines

Many small business creators in America are absolutely horrified to learn of the fees and fines that they must pay before they can ever even open their doors.  Much of the time it is revenue-starved local governments that are the biggest culprits.

For example, a reader of this column named Gene recently shared his regulatory horror story with us….

Started a new business this year in AZ. Paid over $10,000 in fees for permitting, $10,000 in fee for elec hookup, $10,000 in fees for gas hook up and an extra $200 fee per month just for the “privilige” of having gas. Adding up all the fees to start our business, I don’t think we would do it again. We are now just getting to the point that we are making our bills each month, and so we are not taking a paycheck, and don’t anticipate one for at least another year. Our family has been in business for ourselves for decades,and we know what we are doing, but the rising fees caught us off guard. Cities, municipalities, counties and states are raising all fees at astronomical rates to help offset the slump in their real estate income (since banks apparently don’t have to pay real estate taxes)…I’m telling you every business person I know is on their last leg.

#4 Taxes

The United States has one of the most (if not the most) repressive business taxation scheme in the world.  As a small business owner, do you know what taxes you will be expected to pay?  It is not just federal income taxes and state income taxes that you will be paying.  In a previous article, I detailed the various forms of taxes that Americans pay each year and most of them apply to small businesses as well….

Accounts Receivable Taxes

Building Permit Taxes

Capital Gains Taxes

CDL license Taxes

Cigarette Taxes

Corporate Income Taxes

Court Fines (indirect taxes)

Dog License Taxes

Federal Income Taxes

Federal Unemployment Taxes (FUTA)

Fishing License Taxes

Food License Taxes

Fuel permit taxes

Gasoline Taxes

Gift Taxes

Hunting License Taxes

Inheritance Taxes

Inventory tax IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)

IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)

Liquor Taxes

Local Income Taxes

Luxury Taxes

Marriage License Taxes

Medicare Taxes

Payroll Taxes

Property Taxes

Real Estate Taxes

Recreational Vehicle Taxes

Road Toll Booth Taxes

Road Usage Taxes (Truckers)

Sales Taxes

Self-Employment Taxes

School Taxes

Septic Permit Taxes

Service Charge Taxes

Social Security Taxes

State Income Taxes

State Unemployment Taxes (SUTA)

Telephone federal excise taxes

Telephone federal universal service fee taxes

Telephone federal, state and local surcharge taxes

Telephone minimum usage surcharge taxes

Telephone recurring and non-recurring charges taxes

Telephone state and local taxes

Telephone usage charge taxes

Toll Bridge Taxes

Toll Tunnel Taxes

Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)

Trailer registration taxes

Utility Taxes

Vehicle License Registration Taxes

Vehicle Sales Taxes

Watercraft registration Taxes

Well Permit Taxes

Workers Compensation Taxes

#5 Health Insurance

Do you know if you will be required to provide health insurance for your new employees?  Have you familiarized yourself with the new 2,409 page health care law enough to be able to set up a health insurance program?

As a result of the new health care law, health insurance premiums for employees are shooting through the roof.  Are you going to be able to afford them?  Would it be better to have fewer employees and work each of them harder so that you won’t have to provide health coverage for as many people?

Will you be able to compete with the companies in your industry that have received waivers from having to comply with the new health care law?

In the United States, our system places the burden of providing health care on to the backs of employers.  So are you ready to handle that burden?

#6 Pensions

Will the employees of your new business need pensions?  Do you know how to set up a 401K program?  Do you know what defined benefit plans are?

You can literally sit through an entire law school course on pension law and still understand virtually nothing about the subject.  The truth is that if you plan to provide your employees with some kind of pension program you had better hire someone who can at least pretend that they know what they are talking about to set it up for you.

#7 Foreign Competition

Especially if you are creating a small business that does manufacturing, you are going to have to deal with foreign competition.

So are you going to be able to compete with the companies in your industry that pay their workers on the other side of the world less than a tenth of what you are paying to your American workers?

On the other side of the world, companies often don’t have to worry about unions, worker’s comp, health benefits, retirement benefits, nightmarish environmental regulations, crushing taxes or miles of paperwork and red tape.

Are you certain that you can compete against that?

#8 Lawsuits

The more successful you become, the more inviting of a target you are going to be for predatory lawsuits.  The truth is that the courtrooms of America are packed with thousands of them, and the lawyers that bring them are hardly ever held accountable.

All of your hard work can go down the drain in a single moment.  There are hordes of lawyers out there that make their living by filing lawsuits against small to mid-size businesses.

The truth is that if you are running a small business, you are probably doing something wrong.

Just hope and pray that a predatory lawyer does not find out.

#9 Environmentalists

Protecting the environment is a good thing.  Unfortunately, there are many radical “environmentalist” groups that consider it to be a bad thing that humans even breathe because it produces carbon dioxide.

When Audi ran their now famous “Green Police” commercial during the Super Bowl last year, most Americans laughed it off and thought that nothing like that could ever happen in America.  Well, it turns out that it is happening in America.

Not only are government environmental regulations totally nightmarish at this point, but there are a growing number of radical environmentalist groups that are running around the country filing lawsuits against whoever they feel like.

#10 The Federal Government

Are you prepared for a federal government that can literally change all the rules at any time?

Many businesses across America are frozen in their tracks at this point because they don’t know what Obama and the U.S. Congress are going to do next.

The truth is that things are getting really bizarre in this country.  For example, federal agents recently raided an Amish farm at 5 A.M. in the morning because they were selling “unauthorized” raw milk.

If federal agents will raid an Amish farmer at 5 AM in the morning over some raw milk, do you think that they are going to have any mercy on your small business when the time comes?

The America that once embraced “free enterprise” and the entrepreneurial spirit is dead and gone.

Now we are a country filled with bureaucrats and red tape from sea to shining sea.

Is it any wonder why we can’t compete with the rest of the world?

Is it any wonder why so many millions of Americans are unemployed and can’t find jobs?

In an attempt to “solve” our problems we just keep passing more “reform” which means even more rules and regulations for our businesses to follow.

Just as they are doing on an individual level, the government is attempting to watch, track and control everything that our businesses are doing.

Everywhere you look in American society today, the government is gradually tightening the steel-fisted grip that is has around everyone and everything.  Pretty soon you won’t even be able to sneeze without the government telling you how to do it correctly.

Is that really the kind of society that we all want to live in?

What a nightmare.

Do you have a horror story from starting a business in America that you would like to share?  If so, please feel free to post it in the comments section below….

Will Ron Paul Be Able To End The Fed?

Is Ron Paul finally in position to really do something about the Federal Reserve?  U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus, the chairman-elect of the House Financial Services Committee, has announced that Ron Paul will chair the domestic monetary policy subcommittee starting next month.  This puts Ron Paul in tremendous position to be able to put significant pressure on the Federal Reserve.  In previous years Ron Paul has introduced legislation to end the Federal Reserve but it never got any traction.  During this most recent session of Congress an effort by Ron Paul to have a full audit of the Federal Reserve conducted gathered quite a bit of momentum for a while, but in the end it did not get passed.  However, a very limited examination of Fed activities during the recent financial crisis was passed, and that examination has revealed some really shocking things.  With so many Tea Party members entering Congress this upcoming session there may be more momentum than ever to hold the Federal Reserve more accountable.  Ron Paul is already talking about how he is planning for a full slate of hearings on U.S. monetary policy and he has indicated that he plans to restart a push to have the Fed audited.

And why shouldn’t the Federal Reserve be fully audited?  The Federal Reserve has more power over the U.S. economy than any other institution and yet it has not been subjected to a comprehensive audit since it was created back in 1913.

So what would an audit accomplish?

Well, it would hopefully expose what is going on inside the Federal Reserve.

A very, very limited examination of Fed transactions that occurred during the recent financial crisis forced the Federal Reserve to reveal the details of 21,000 transactions stretching from December 2007 to July 2010 that totaled more than 3 trillion dollars.  It turns out that the Federal Reserve was just handing out gigantic piles of nearly interest-free cash to their friends at the largest banks, financial institutions and corporations all over the globe.

These revelations have many members of Congress wondering what else has been going on inside the Federal Reserve.

For example, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders was absolutely outraged by these “backdoor bailouts” by the Federal Reserve….

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

More members of Congress than at any other time in recent memory are openly wondering if it is now time “to pull back the curtain” at the Federal Reserve.  For those who would like to see the power of the Federal Reserve greatly diminished, there should be one primary goal right now.

Expose the Federal Reserve.

The truth is that the more the American people learn about the Federal Reserve and about what it has been doing the more they disapprove.

During his farewell speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate this week, Senator Jim Bunning noted that as the American people become increasingly aware of what the Federal Reserve is doing the less they like it….

“Public awareness of what the Fed is doing is increasing while public opinion of the Fed is falling.”

Unfortunately, the views of Ron Paul and other anti-Federal Reserve members of the Tea Party movement are strongly opposed by many other members of the Republican Party.

In a recent Bloomberg Television interview, Barney Frank noted this division within the ranks of the Republicans….

“I do not believe that Ron Paul’s views on the Fed represent the views of most Republicans.”

However, there is evidence that the tide is turning with the American public.

According to a recent Bloomberg National Poll, the number of Americans that would like to see the Federal Reserve held more accountable or even completely abolished is increasing….

Asked if the central bank should be more accountable to Congress, left independent or abolished entirely, 39 percent said it should be held more accountable and 16 percent that it should be abolished. Only 37 percent favor the status quo.

Those are very exciting numbers.  A majority of Americans now want the power of the Federal Reserve to be reduced or they want it shut down entirely.

If Ron Paul is able to get a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve passed, the revelations that would come out of that would certainly turn public opinion against the Fed even more.

So what is so bad about the Federal Reserve?

Well, think of it as a perpetual debt machine.

Did you know that the U.S. national debt is 5,000 times larger than it was a hundred years ago?

That’s right – back in 1910, prior to the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, the national debt was only about $2.6 billion.

Since that time, our debt has been endlessly skyrocketing.

Under the Federal Reserve system, the U.S. government cannot just go out and print money.  It is actually the Federal Reserve that issues our currency.

The way our system works, whenever the U.S. government arranges for the Federal Reserve to issue more currency, more government debt is created at the same time.  In fact, as I have written about previously, all of our money is now based on debt.

No debt, no money.

What we desperately need is for the current monetary system to be scrapped.  The federal government should take back the power to issue currency and should implement a new system based on money that is debt-free.

The truth is that it is insane that any sovereign government should have to go into debt just to produce more of its own currency.

Instead, what we have under the Federal Reserve system is a money supply that will forever be expanding, a currency that will forever be deteriorating in value and a national debt that will continue to skyrocket until the entire system collapses.

Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power.  This continual debasement of our currency is called “inflation” and it is a hidden tax on every man, woman and child in the United States.

It is absolutely guaranteed that every single dollar that you own will go down in value over the long-term.

But the American people have come to accept that a constantly expanding national debt and a currency that is constantly losing value is the most “rational” economic system that humanity has ever come up with.

So who benefits from all this?

Well, for fiscal year 2010 the U.S. government paid out over 413 billion dollars in interest on the national debt.  In future years that number is projected to rapidly skyrocket even more.

Wouldn’t you like to be getting a nice chunk of that 413 billion dollars?

It turns out that loaning money to the U.S. government is very, very profitable.

That 413 billion dollars is money that was transferred from the American people to the U.S. government, and then transferred from the U.S. government to big financial institutions, foreign countries, and very wealthy bankers.

So what did we get in return for our 413 billion dollars?

Nothing.

Sadly, this is not just going on in the United States.  This is going on literally in almost every nation on earth.

All over the world sovereign governments are drowning in debt and so they have to drain their citizens dry so that they can meet their obligations.

In the book of Proverbs, it tells us that “the rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”  Americans like to think that they live in “the land of the free”, but the truth is that we have become enslaved to debt.

But even worse, we have consigned our children and our grandchildren to a lifetime of debt.  They will have to work all of their lives to pay trillions of dollars in interest on all of the debt that we have accumulated in this generation.

How would you like to be born into a world where the previous generation had racked up a $13 trillion debt that now you were expected to pay off?

There is a reason why people like Ron Paul are so obsessed with the Federal Reserve.  It is not because they don’t have anything better to do.  It is because the future of our country literally hangs in the balance.

Throughout American history, presidents, top members of Congress and leading business people have warned us about the dangers of having a central bank.  In fact, even though our young people are no longer taught this, the debate over central banking was one of the most important themes in early American history.

But we didn’t listen to the warnings.

We were convinced that we knew better.

Well, now we have an economic system that is dying and a $13 trillion debt that we are passing along to our children and to our grandchildren.

Perhaps we were not as smart as we thought we were.

The Economic Collapse