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18 Signs That Massive Economic Problems Are Erupting All Over The Planet

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With the “Hindenburg Omen” (reports to indicate a major stock market correction) triggered in the last week a lot of investors are getting a little worried. In the meantime global economic indicators continue to worsen.

The following are 18 signs that massive economic problems are erupting all over the planet…

#1 The eurozone is now in the midst of its longest recession ever.  Economic activity in the eurozone has declined for six quarters in a row.

#2 Italy’s economy has now been contracting for seven quarters in a row.

#3 Industrial production in Italy has fallen for 15 months in a row.  It has now fallen to its lowest level in about 25 years.

#4 The number of people that are considered to be “seriously deprived” in Italy has doubled over the past two years.

#5 Consumer confidence in France has just hit a new all-time low.

#6 The number of unemployed workers seeking a job in France has hit a brand new all-time record high.  Many unemployed workers in France are utterly frustrated at this point…

“I’ve sent CVs everywhere, I come to the unemployment agency every day, for 3 or 4 hours to look for work as a truck driver and there’s never anything,” said 42-year old Djamel Sami, who has been unemployed for a year, leaving a job agency in Paris.

#7 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.2 percent.

#8 Youth unemployment continues to soar to unprecedented heights in Europe.  The following is from an article that was recently posted on the website of the Guardian that detailed how bad things are getting in some of the worst countries…

In Greece, 62.5% of young people are out of work, in Spain it’s 56.4%, then Portugal with 42.5%, and then Italy with 40.5%.

#9 Youth unemployment is being partially blamed for the worst rioting that Sweden has seen in many years.  The following is how the Daily Mail described the riots…

Sweden is reeling after a third night of rioting in largely run-down immigrant areas of the capital Stockholm.In the last 48 hours violence has spread to at least ten suburbs with mobs of youths torching hundreds of cars and clashing with police.

It is Sweden’s worst disorder in years and has shocked the country and provoked a debate on how Sweden is coping with youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.

#10 An astounding 10 percent of all banking deposits were pulled out of banks in Cyprus during the month of April alone.

#11 Economic growth in India is the slowest that it has been in an entire decade.

#12 Suddenly Australia is experiencing some tremendous economic challenges.  The following quotes are from a recent Zero Hedge article

-“We’re seeing a much sharper contraction in the Australian economy than we’d anticipated four or five months ago”. Coffey MD, John Douglas. The engineering group has seen its shares, which traded above $4 in 2007, hit 10c last week.

-“By 10am, the Fitness First gym in the city is packed full of brokers who’ve had a gutful of sitting at their desk doing nothing – salary cuts are starting and next it will be jobs” Perth broker
-“Oh mate, the funding market is dead. You are now seeing a few deeply discounted rights issues for those that are reaching desperate levels ….. liquidity has completely disappeared” Perth broker

#13 The financial system in Japan is beginning to spin wildly out of control.  The Japanese stock market has now declined about 15 percent from the peak, and many believe that the yen will continue to get weaker and that interest rates in Japan will start to rise significantly.

#14 Global cash flow is declining at a rate not seen since the last recession.  This indicates that we could be headed for a global credit crunch.

#15 Real wages continue to decline in the United States.  Even though we are being told that the U.S. is experiencing an “economy recovery”, real weekly earnings have declined from $297.79 in 2010 to $295.49 in 2011 to $294.83 in 2012.  (The preceding calculation is based on 1982-1984 dollars)

#16 Wall Street is buzzing about the fact that “the Hindenburg Omen” appeared at the end of last week.  So exactly what is “the Hindenburg Omen”?  The following are the criteria that are used to determine whether it has appeared or not…

1. The daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day.

2. The smaller of these numbers is greater than or equal to 69 (68.772 is 2.2% of 3126). This is not a rule but more like a checksum. This condition is a function of the 2.2% of the total issues.

3. That the NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.4. That the McClellan Oscillator ( a market breadth indicator used to evaluate the rate of money entering or leaving the market and interpretively indicate overbought or oversold conditions of the market)is negative on that same day.5. That new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week Lows (however it is fine for new 52 Week Lows to be more than double new 52 Week Highs).

When the Hindenburg Omen makes an appearance, it supposedly means that the U.S. stock market is likely to experience a serious decline within the next 40 days.

#17 As I wrote about the other day, the SentimenTrader Smart/Dumb Money Index is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years.  That means that lots of “smart money” has been getting out of the market and lots of “dumb money” has been pouring in.

#18 Margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange has set a new all-time high.  The following is from a recent Market Oracle article

Margin debt—that’s the amount of money borrowed to purchase stocks—on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) reached its all-time high in April. Margin debt on the NYSE registered at $384.3 billion as the key stock indices hit new record-highs. (Source: New York Stock Exchange web site, last accessed May 29, 2013.)

The highest margin debt ever reached prior to this was in July of 2007, when it stood just above $381.0 billion. At that time, just like today, the key stock indices were near their peaks and “buy now before it’s too late” was the prominent theme of the day

Whenever margin debt spikes like this, a stock market crash almost always follows.  If you doubt this, just check out the chart in this article.

Wall Street has had a good couple of years, but it has been a “false prosperity” that has been pumped up by reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve.  Just like all of the other stock market bubbles that we have seen in recent years, this one is going to burst too.  And as Marc Faber recently pointed out, this bubble has been particularly beneficial to the wealthy…

The Fed has been flooding the system with money. The problem is the money doesn’t flow into the system evenly. It doesn’t increase economic activity and asset prices in concert. Instead, it creates dangerous excesses in countries and asset classes. Money-printing fueled the colossal stock-market bubble of 1999-2000, when the Nasdaq more than doubled, becoming disconnected from economic reality. It fueled the housing bubble, which burst in 2008, and the commodities bubble. Now money is flowing into the high-end asset market – things like stocks, bonds, art, wine, jewelry, and luxury real estate.

Money-printing boosts the economy of the people closest to the money flow. But it doesn’t help the worker in Detroit, or the vast majority of the middle class. It leads to a widening wealth gap. The majority loses, and the minority wins.

The fact that the U.S. stock market has set new all-time record high after new all-time record high in recent months means very little.  At this point, the stock market has become completely divorced from economic reality.  When this current bubble bursts, the adjustment is going to be very painful.  Wall Street will likely whine and complain and ask for more bailouts, but they may find that authorities are not nearly as sympathetic this time.

Much of the rest of the world is already experiencing the next major wave of the economic collapse.  Reckless money printing by the Fed and reckless borrowing and spending by the federal government may have delayed the inevitable in the United States for a little while, but those measures have also made our long-term problems even worse.

There was one piece of advice that Ben Bernanke included in his commencement speech to students at Princeton recently that I thought was particularly ironic…

“Don’t be afraid to let the drama play out.”

Will he take his own advice when the next great financial crisis strikes the United States?

That seems very unlikely.

Unfortunately, things are not going to be so easy to fix this next time.

What happened back in 2008 was just a preview.

What is coming next is going to absolutely shock the world.

Source: theeconomiccollapseblog.com

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Peter Schiff: This Is Going To End Badly Much Worse Than 2008

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Peter Schiff counters the MSM cheerleading for Bernanke and irresponsible money printing. The end is on the horizon and will be much worse than 2008.

Matt Taibbi: Everything Is Rigged

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I think we are all beginning to draw the same conclusion as Matt Taibbi.

rollingstoneConspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it “dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets.”

That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world’s largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.

Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It’s about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.

It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year, to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall Street culture.

The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia

Why? Because Libor already affects the prices of interest-rate swaps, making this a manipulation-on-manipulation situation. If the allegations prove to be right, that will mean that swap customers have been paying for two different layers of price-fixing corruption. If you can imagine paying 20 bucks for a crappy PB&J because some evil cabal of agribusiness companies colluded to fix the prices of both peanuts and peanut butter, you come close to grasping the lunacy of financial markets where both interest rates and interest-rate swaps are being manipulated at the same time, often by the same banks.

“It’s a double conspiracy,” says an amazed Michael Greenberger, a former director of the trading and markets division at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and now a professor at the University of Maryland. “It’s the height of criminality.”

Even the courts came down on the side of the market riggers, saying it was your fault if you were a victim. Thats like telling someone who got mugged “well you shouldn’t have had money in your pocket in the first place”.

The bad news didn’t stop with swaps and interest rates. In March, it also came out that two regulators – the CFTC here in the U.S. and the Madrid-based International Organization of Securities Commissions – were spurred by the Libor revelations to investigate the possibility of collusive manipulation of gold and silver prices. “Given the clubby manipulation efforts we saw in Libor benchmarks, I assume other benchmarks – many other benchmarks – are legit areas of inquiry,” CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said.

But the biggest shock came out of a federal courtroom at the end of March – though if you follow these matters closely, it may not have been so shocking at all – when a landmark class-action civil lawsuit against the banks for Libor-related offenses was dismissed. In that case, a federal judge accepted the banker-defendants’ incredible argument: If cities and towns and other investors lost money because of Libor manipulation, that was their own fault for ever thinking the banks were competing in the first place.

“A farce,” was one antitrust lawyer’s response to the eyebrow-raising dismissal.

“Incredible,” says Sylvia Sokol, an attorney for Constantine Cannon, a firm that specializes in antitrust cases.

All of these stories collectively pointed to the same thing: These banks, which already possess enormous power just by virtue of their financial holdings – in the United States, the top six banks, many of them the same names you see on the Libor and ISDAfix panels, own assets equivalent to 60 percent of the nation’s GDP – are beginning to realize the awesome possibilities for increased profit and political might that would come with colluding instead of competing. Moreover, it’s increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system.

If true, that would leave us living in an era of undisguised, real-world conspiracy, in which the prices of currencies, commodities like gold and silver, even interest rates and the value of money itself, can be and may already have been dictated from above. And those who are doing it can get away with it. Forget the Illuminati – this is the real thing, and it’s no secret. You can stare right at it, anytime you want.

We have given the bankers the opportunity to set markets based on their own data.

The banks found a loophole, a basic flaw in the machine. Across the financial system, there are places where prices or official indices are set based upon unverified data sent in by private banks and financial companies. In other words, we gave the players with incentives to game the system institutional roles in the economic infrastructure.

Libor, which measures the prices banks charge one another to borrow money, is a perfect example, not only of this basic flaw in the price-setting system but of the weakness in the regulatory framework supposedly policing it. Couple a voluntary reporting scheme with too-big-to-fail status and a revolving-door legal system, and what you get is unstoppable corruption.

Every morning, 18 of the world’s biggest banks submit data to an office in London about how much they believe they would have to pay to borrow from other banks. The 18 banks together are called the “Libor panel,” and when all of these data from all 18 panelist banks are collected, the numbers are averaged out. What emerges, every morning at 11:30 London time, are the daily Libor figures.

Banks submit numbers about borrowing in 10 different currencies across 15 different time periods, e.g., loans as short as one day and as long as one year. This mountain of bank-submitted data is used every day to create benchmark rates that affect the prices of everything from credit cards to mortgages to currencies to commercial loans (both short- and long-term) to swaps.

The Libor rigging was staggering and the fines when dished out were minor.

Hundreds of similar exchanges were uncovered when regulators like Britain’s Financial Services Authority and the U.S. Justice Department started burrowing into the befouled entrails of Libor. The documentary evidence of anti-competitive manipulation they found was so overwhelming that, to read it, one almost becomes embarrassed for the banks. “It’s just amazing how Libor fixing can make you that much money,” chirped one yen trader. “Pure manipulation going on,” wrote another.

………….

Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld LLP, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs in this Libor suit, declined to comment specifically on the dismissal. But he did talk about the significance of the Libor case and other manipulation cases now in the pipeline.

“It’s now evident that there is a ubiquitous culture among the banks to collude and cheat their customers as many times as they can in as many forms as they can conceive,” he said. “And that’s not just surmising. This is just based upon what they’ve been caught at.”

Greenberger says the lack of serious consequences for the Libor scandal has only made other kinds of manipulation more inevitable. “There’s no therapy like sending those who are used to wearing Gucci shoes to jail,” he says. “But when the attorney general says, ‘I don’t want to indict people,’ it’s the Wild West. There’s no law.”

After Libor rigging, a new market manipulation is coming to light, interest rate swaps.

The problem is, a number of markets feature the same infrastructural weakness that failed in the Libor mess. In the case of interest-rate swaps and the ISDAfix benchmark, the system is very similar to Libor, although the investigation into these markets reportedly focuses on some different types of improprieties.

Though interest-rate swaps are not widely understood outside the finance world, the root concept actually isn’t that hard. If you can imagine taking out a variable-rate mortgage and then paying a bank to make your loan payments fixed, you’ve got the basic idea of an interest-rate swap.

In practice, it might be a country like Greece or a regional government like Jefferson County, Alabama, that borrows money at a variable rate of interest, then later goes to a bank to “swap” that loan to a more predictable fixed rate. In its simplest form, the customer in a swap deal is usually paying a premium for the safety and security of fixed interest rates, while the firm selling the swap is usually betting that it knows more about future movements in interest rates than its customers.

Prices for interest-rate swaps are often based on ISDAfix, which, like Libor, is yet another of these privately calculated benchmarks. ISDAfix’s U.S. dollar rates are published every day, at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., after a gang of the same usual-suspect megabanks (Bank of America, RBS, Deutsche, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, etc.) submits information about bids and offers for swaps.

……….

The idea that prices in a $379 trillion market could be dependent on a desk of about 20 guys in New Jersey should tell you a lot about the absurdity of our financial infrastructure. The whole thing, in fact, has a darkly comic element to it. “It’s almost hilarious in the irony,” says David Frenk, director of research for Better Markets, a financial-reform advocacy group, “that they called it ISDAfix.”

So what about other market manipulation?

After scandals involving libor and, perhaps, ISDAfix, the question that should have everyone freaked out is this: What other markets out there carry the same potential for manipulation? The answer to that question is far from reassuring, because the potential is almost everywhere. From gold to gas to swaps to interest rates, prices all over the world are dependent upon little private cabals of cigar-chomping insiders we’re forced to trust.

“In all the over-the-counter markets, you don’t really have pricing except by a bunch of guys getting together,” Masters notes glumly.

That includes the markets for gold (where prices are set by five banks in a Libor-ish teleconferencing process that, ironically, was created in part by N M Rothschild & Sons) and silver (whose price is set by just three banks), as well as benchmark rates in numerous other commodities – jet fuel, diesel, electric power, coal, you name it. The problem in each of these markets is the same: We all have to rely upon the honesty of companies like Barclays (already caught and fined $453 million for rigging Libor) or JPMorgan Chase (paid a $228 million settlement for rigging municipal-bond auctions) or UBS (fined a collective $1.66 billion for both muni-bond rigging and Libor manipulation) to faithfully report the real prices of things like interest rates, swaps, currencies and commodities.

All of these benchmarks based on voluntary reporting are now being looked at by regulators around the world, and God knows what they’ll find. The European Federation of Financial Services Users wrote in an official EU survey last summer that all of these systems are ripe targets for manipulation. “In general,” it wrote, “those markets which are based on non-attested, voluntary submission of data from agents whose benefits depend on such benchmarks are especially vulnerable of market abuse and distortion.”

Translation: When prices are set by companies that can profit by manipulating them, we’re fucked.

“You name it,” says Frenk. “Any of these benchmarks is a possibility for corruption.”

The only reason this problem has not received the attention it deserves is because the scale of it is so enormous that ordinary people simply cannot see it. It’s not just stealing by reaching a hand into your pocket and taking out money, but stealing in which banks can hit a few keystrokes and magically make whatever’s in your pocket worth less. This is corruption at the molecular level of the economy, Space Age stealing – and it’s only just coming into view.

October Is The Month For Stock Market Crashes

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Stock market crashes have a habit of happening in October something I’m sure Obama does not want to happen so close to the election. But even if nothing happens the fundamentals are examined in an article from theeconomiccollapseblog which takes a closer look.

In the financial world, the month of October is synonymous with stock market crashes.  So will a massive stock market crash happen this year?  You never know. The truth is that our financial system is even more vulnerable than it was back in 2008, and financial experts such as Doug Short, Peter Schiff, Robert Wiedemer and Harry Dent are all warning that the next crash is rapidly approaching.

We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world and Wall Street has been transformed into a giant casino that is based on a massive web of debt, risk and leverage.  When that web breaks we are going to see a stock market crash that is going to make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.  Yes, the Federal Reserve has tried to prevent any problems from erupting in the financial markets by initiating another round of quantitative easing, but 40 billion dollars a month will not be nearly enough to stop the massive collapse that is coming.  This will be explained in detail toward the end of the article.  Hopefully we will get through October (and the rest of this year) without seeing a stock market collapse, but without a doubt one is coming at some point.  Those on the wrong end of the coming crash are going to be absolutely wiped out.

A lot of people focus on the month of October because of the history of stock market crashes in this month.  This history was detailed in a recent USA Today article….

When it comes to wealth suddenly disappearing, October can be diabolically frightful. The stock market crash of 1929 that led to the Great Depression occurred in October. So did the 22.6% plunge suffered by the Dow Jones industrial average in 1987 on “Black Monday.”

The scariest 19-day span during the 2008 financial crisis also went down in October, when the Dow plunged 2,675 points after investors fearing a financial collapse went on a panic-driven stock-selling spree that resulted in five of the 10 biggest daily point drops in the iconic Dow’s 123-year history.

So what will we see this year?

Only time will tell.

If a stock market crash does not happen this month or by the end of this year, that does not mean that the experts that are predicting a stock market crash are wrong.

It just means that they were early.

As I have said so many times, there are thousands upon thousands of moving parts in the global financial system.  So that makes it nearly impossible to predict the timing of events with perfect precision.  Financial conditions are constantly shifting and changing.

But without a doubt another major financial collapse similar to what happened back in 2008 (or even worse) is on the way.  Let’s take a look at some of the financial experts that are predicting really bad things for our financial markets in the months ahead….

Doug Short

According to Doug Short, the vice president of research at Advisor Perspectives, the stock market is somewhere between 33% and 51% overvalued at this point.  In a recent article he offered the following evidence to support his position….

● The Crestmont Research P/E Ratio (more)

● The cyclical P/E ratio using the trailing 10-year earnings as the divisor (more)

● The Q Ratio, which is the total price of the market divided by its replacement cost (more)

● The relationship of the S&P Composite price to a regression trendline (more)

Peter Schiff

Peter Schiff, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, has been one of the leading voices in the financial community warning people about the crisis that is coming.

During a recent interview with Fox Business, Schiff stated that the massive financial collapse that we witnessed back in 2008 “wasn’t the real crash” and he boldly declared that the “real crash is coming”.

So is Schiff right?

We shall see.

Robert Wiedemer

Economist Robert Wiedemer warned people what was coming before the crash of 2008, and now he is warning that what is coming next is going to be even worse….

“The data is clear, 50% unemployment, a 90% stock market drop, and 100% annual inflation . . . starting in 2012.”

Harry Dent

Financial author Harry Dent believes that the stock market could fall by as much as 60 percent in the coming months.  He is convinced that stocks are hugely overvalued right now….

“We have the greatest debt bubble in history. We will see a worldwide downturn. And when you are in this type of recessionary environment stocks should be trading at five to seven times earnings.”

So are these guys right?

We shall see.

But I do find it interesting that some of the biggest names in the financial world are currently making moves as if they also believe that a massive financial crisis is coming.

For example, as I have written about previously, George Soros has dumped all of his holdings in banking giants JP Morgan, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Infamous billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson, the man who made somewhere around 20 billion dollars betting against the U.S. housing market during the last financial crisis, is making massive bets against the euro right now.

So where are these financial titans putting their money?

According to the Telegraph, both of these men are pouring enormous amounts of money into gold….

There was also news last week in an SEC filing that both George Soros and John Paulson had increased their investment in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest publicly traded physical gold exchange traded fund (ETF).

Mr Soros upped his stake in the ETF to 884,400 shares from 319,550 and Mr Paulson bought 4.53m shares, bringing his stake to 21.3m.

At the current price of about $156 a share, these are new investments of about $88m of Mr Soros’ cash and more than $700m from Mr Paulson’s funds. These are significant positions.

So why would they do this?

Why would they pour millions upon millions of dollars into gold?

Well, it would make perfect sense to put so much money into gold if a massive financial crisis was coming.

So is the next financial crisis imminent?

We will see.

Most “financial analysts” that appear in the mainstream media would laugh at the notion that a stock market crash is imminent.

Most of them would insist that everything is going to be perfectly fine for the foreseeable future.

In fact, most of them are convinced that quantitative easing is going to cause stocks to go even higher.

After all, isn’t quantitative easing supposed to be good for stocks?

Didn’t I write an article just last month that detailed how quantitative easing drives up stock prices?

Yes I did.

So how can I be writing now about the possibility of a stock market crash?

Aren’t I contradicting myself?

Not at all.

Let me explain.

The first two rounds of quantitative easing did indeed drive up stock prices.  The same thing will happen under QE3, unless the effects of QE3 are overwhelmed by a major crisis.

For example, if we were to see a total collapse of the derivatives market it would render QE3 totally meaningless.

Estimates of the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market range from 600 trillion dollars all the way up to 1.5 quadrillion dollars.  Nobody knows for sure how large the market for derivatives is, but everyone agrees that it is absolutely massive.

When we are talking about amounts that large, the $40 billion being pumped into the financial system each month by the Federal Reserve during QE3 would essentially be the equivalent of spitting into Niagara Falls.  It would make no difference at all.

Most Americans do not understand what “derivatives” are, so they kind of tune out when people start talking about them.

But they are very important to understand.

Essentially, derivatives are “side bets”.  When you buy a derivative, you are not investing in anything.  You are just gambling that something will or will not happen.

I explained this more completely in a previous article entitled “The Coming Derivatives Crisis That Could Destroy The Entire Global Financial System“….

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.

Five very large U.S. banks (including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Bank of America) have combined exposure to derivatives in excess of 250 trillion dollars.

Keep in mind that U.S. GDP for 2011 was only about 15 trillion dollars.

So we are talking about an amount of money that is almost inconceivable.

That is why I cannot talk about derivatives enough.  In fact, I apologize to my readers for not writing about them more.

If you want to understand the coming financial collapse, one of the keys is to understand derivatives.  Our entire financial system has been transformed into a giant casino, and at some point all of this gambling is going to cause a horrible crash.

Do you remember the billions of dollars that JP Morgan announced that they lost a while back?  Well, that was caused by derivatives trades gone bad.  In fact, they are still not totally out of those trades and they are going to end up losing a whole lot more money than they originally anticipated.

Sadly, that was just the tip of the iceberg.  Much, much worse is coming.  When you hear of a major “derivatives crisis” in the news, you better run for cover because it is likely that the entire house of cards is about to start falling.

And don’t get too caught up in the exact timing of predictions.

If a stock market crash does not happen this month, don’t think that the storm has passed.

A major financial crisis is coming.  It might not happen this week, this month or even this year, but without a doubt it is approaching.

And when it arrives it is going to be immensely painful and it is going to change all of our lives.

I hope you are ready for that.

Paper Currency Is In the Final Stage of the ‘super cycle’

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Money manager Felix Zulauf while been interviewed on King World News joined a long list of people warning of the end of the current monetary system.

“The global banking system, particularly in the industrialized world, is still highly undercapitalized.  That’s the big problem.  So if anything goes wrong, bank balance sheets are highly leveraged and you have a problem.  The central banks were running behind the curve.”

“Over the last couple of months, central banks have woken up and they see the risks, particularly the move by the ECB here in Europe means that they are ‘all in’ now.  That means they will finance whatever it takes to not let the system go down.  For the short-term this gives you some assurance.  For the long-term it’s a different story because there is a cost associated with this….

“The cost is that the fiat currency, paper currency standard, is in the final stage of the ‘super cycle.’  Fiat currency systems always collapse at the end.  We are in that stage of the super cycle where things are accelerating.

 I don’t know how many years we still have, but you can assume that central banks, as the ECB stated just recently, will do everything necessary to prevent a collapse of the system.  That means they will even finance bankrupt governments, they will finance bankrupt banks, they will finance every bankrupt entity that is important to the system.

 That means they debase our paper currencies further and further, and in an accelerating way.  This is very bullish news for all of the gold holders of course.  A good year or so ago, gold had accelerated into a sort of a climax peak above $1,900.  It has taken almost a year to correct that sharp advance.

I think gold has absorbed the selling pressure very well, and has gone through a lengthy, cyclical corrective process, into the low $1,500s.  There was always a risk that it could break down once more to make for a climax low, but I don’t think this is likely anymore.  The odds of that happening have decreased.

The recent announcements of Draghi and Bernanke means there is no going back as the Central Banks are going full out to protect the system.

The recent change at the ECB that they are ‘all in’ is a big plus for gold because it’s a big negative for paper currencies, and gold is just the other side.  So while gold has run up into the $1,700s, we could any time see a setback of $50 or $60 or so.  That would be normal.

When asked how the collapse of the fiat system will unfold, Zulauf responded,

“That’s a difficult one because I cannot tell you when it occurs, but usually in a super cycle you have to debase your currency more and more.  You monetize your debt more and more.  Your level of debt on a public-sector basis, and on a system-wide basis goes higher and higher until the system collapses.

 I think we first see, over the next couple of years, the transfer of government debt from private balance sheets to central bank balance sheets.  I do believe the 30 year bull market in government bonds is over.  I mentioned in the media (Barron’s) Roundtable that one should be selling half of what he owns, and should sell the other half in September at the latest.

I think the whole game is over.  Bonds are very overvalued.  The real return is negative.  Normally bonds yield at least as much as nominal GDP growth.  Nominal GDP growth at the present time is about 3% or 4% in the US.  I’m not suggesting we go right there tomorrow (in terms of yield), but bonds are very overvalued. I have stayed bullish, but it’s over.  The game is over and we have to look for other assets.”

 Felix also predicted a plunge in stocks:  “I think over the next two years or so we will probably see 1,000 in the S&P again (a decline of more than 30%).”

Felix also added: “Obviously policymakers are completely lost in this environment.  Therefore, when the market forces are such that it jeopardizes they system, and they dislike it, then they change the rules.  For instance, if interest rates of government paper shoots up, like it was the case for Spain or Italy, then the central bank comes in and provides the money, and buys whatever it takes to move the interest rate to levels it likes.

Source: King World News

David McWilliams: World Economy Still in Trouble

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David McWilliams explains the ails of the World Economy through Punk Economics5. The key points are as follows

  1. Slowdown in china,
  2. Fading recover in the US
  3. Euro crisis
  • Chineese slashed rates and are panicking, they are under pressure to deliver growth for their people.
  • US employment recovery is fading and all indicators are down
  • After EU summit, Spanish yields > 7%.
  • Germany Vs the Rest, either they pay or euro collapses.
  • Most of europe is unable to compete with Germany and never will.
  • Merkel has an election next year and is more likely to put Germany first before Europe.
  • Debt deal will most likely fall apart followed by the markets attacking on the sovereigns.
  • France is the weak link.
  • The debt deal collapse will follow the path of 1944.

=> Spain & Italy to be locked out of the markets. Then pressure on France.

Germany to abandon Italy & Spain to save France (in compromise with German electorate)

EU Has Worst Case Contingency Plans For Greece Leaving

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With the Greek elections on the 17 June, the EU is preparing worst case plans in the event that Greece would leave the euro. These include limiting ATM withdrawals and capital controls etc.

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European finance officials have discussed as a worst-case scenario limiting the size of withdrawals from ATM machines, imposing border checks and introducing capital controls in at least Greece should Athens decide to leave the euro.

EU officials have told Reuters the ideas are part of a range of contingency plans. They emphasized that the discussions were merely about being prepared for any eventuality rather than planning for something they expect to happen – no one Reuters has spoken to expects Greece to leave the single currency area.

Belgium’s finance minister, Steve Vanackere, said at the end of May that it was a basic function of each euro zone member state to be prepared for problems. These discussions appear to be in that vein.

But with increased political uncertainty in Greece following the inconclusive election on May 6 and ahead of a second election on June 17, there is now an increased need to have contingencies in place, the EU sources said.

The discussions have taken place in conference calls over the past six weeks, as concerns have grown that a radical-left coalition, SYRIZA, may win the second election, increasing the risk that Greece could renege on its EU/IMF bailout and therefore move closer to abandoning the currency.

Even limiting travel is proposed.

As well as limiting cash withdrawals and imposing capital controls, they have discussed the possibility of suspending the Schengen agreement, which allows for visa-free travel among 26 countries, including most of the European Union.

….

Another source confirmed the discussions, including that the suspension of Schengen was among the options raised.

“These are not political discussions, these are discussions among finance experts who need to be prepared for any eventuality,” the second source said. “It is sensible planning, that is all, planning for the worst-case scenario.”

The first official said it was still being examined whether there was a legal basis for such extreme measures.

But the Greek people are still in love with the euro, rather how an alcoholic craves whats bad for it.

The vast majority of Greeks – some surveys have indicated 75 to 80 percent – like the euro and want to retain the currency, something Greek politicians are aware of and which may dissuade them from pushing the country too close to the brink.

However, SYRIZA is expected to win or come a strong second on June 17. Alexis Tsipras, the party’s 37-year-old leader, has said he plans to tear up or heavily renegotiate the 130-billion-euro bailout agreed with the EU and IMF. The EU and IMF have said they are not prepared to renegotiate.

If those differences cannot be resolved, the threat of the country leaving or being forced out of the euro will remain, and hence the need for contingencies to be in place.

Switzerland said last month it was considering introducing capital controls if the euro falls apart.

In a conference call on May 21, the Eurogroup Working Group told euro zone member states that they should each have a plan in place if Greece were to leave the currency.

Belgium’s Vanackere said two days after that call that it was a basic function of each euro zone member state to be prepared for any eventuality.

It’s all been well prepared for(check out older post from last December on the UK) , but we will be the last to know.

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