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The dominoes begin to fall in China

The dominoes begin to fall in China.

March 18, 2014
Bali, Indonesia

[Editor’s Note: Tim Staermose, Sovereign Man’s Chief Investment Strategist, is filling in for Simon today.]

Forget tapering. Forget Ukraine. The largest single risk to the world economy and financial markets right now is China.

What’s going on in China reminds me a lot of what I witnessed firsthand when I lived in South Korea in the 1990s, before that economy’s crash in 1998.

Just as China now, South Korea was an immature, state-controlled financial system funneling cheap money to well-connected and politically favored large enterprises.

Fuelled by a steady diet of cheap money, these companies kept adding capacity with no regard to profitability or return on capital. They simply focused on producing more stuff and expanding their size. They employed more people, and everyone was happy.

But, all the while, they were borrowing more and more money, until eventually they collapsed under the debt load when liquidity dried up.

Before Korea, the exact same thing happened in Japan, and a giant, unsustainable debt binge brought the “miracle economy” to its knees.

But the Korean and Japanese debt bubbles are nothing compared to what we see in China today.

Consider this: in the last five years, the Chinese created $16 TRILLION in credit that is now circulating in the economy… financing ghost cities and useless infrastructure projects.

Floor space per capita in China is now 30 square meters (about 320 sq. ft.) per person. Japan was at that level in 1988. And the economy burst the following year.

More astounding, this $16 trillion in credit is DOUBLE the $8 trillion in credit that China created in the previous 5,000+ years of its existence.

The Chinese government recognizes it has a problem. It realizes it can no longer keep the dam from breaking. And in the past week, it bit the bullet.

In the last two weeks, Chaori Solar and Haixin Steel were allowed to default, i.e. they weren’t bailed out.

This is the first time in China’s modern history they’ve had a default, let alone two. They can no longer keep the game up, and the dominoes are beginning to topple.

I cannot stress this enough. What we’re witnessing is a major paradigm shift.

Of course, the Chinese government claims they can control the impact of these “relatively minor” corporate defaults.

But as we saw during the sub-prime crisis in the Unites States, the complex web of inter-linkages in the financial system means they are playing with fire.

I expect many more defaults in China in the coming weeks and months. I expect some important Chinese financial institutions to get into trouble.

And I expect the Chinese government will completely lose control over the situation.

My recommendations are 2-fold:

1. If you have any exposure to Chinese stocks, or the Chinese Yuan, I strongly suggest you reconsider.

2. If you have investments in iron ore or copper producers, get out.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s going to take time for China to suffer through this crisis. But, if the Chinese government lets the dominoes fall where they may, the country will be better off in the long term.

The lessons from markets such as South Korea and Indonesia, in aftermath of the 1997-1999 Asian economic crisis, are clear.

If China frees up and liberalizes its financial markets in the face of a crisis, writes off bad loans, and closes down insolvent banks, it will emerge in a much stronger position once the crisis blows over.

And there will be lots of money to be made buying good-quality Chinese shares during the crisis. But, for now, it’s time to brace for the downturn.

Economist Warns of Collapse Risk: "Will Not Allow Life to Continue As We Know It"

Economist Warns of Collapse Risk: “Will Not Allow Life to Continue As We Know It”.

Mac Slavo
March 7th, 2014
SHTFplan.com

theendisnear-wide

Earlier this week we noted that an invasion of the Ukraine by Vladimir Putin would likely lead to a complete destruction of U.S. stock markets. It’s not so much the invasion force itself, but rather, the economic maneuvers that would come with it should Russia take this course of action.

Well known economist and founder of the Shadow Stats web site John Williams seems to agree. If Russia were to begin unloading US Dollars it would almost instantly lead to a collapse of not only our financial markets, but our entire way of life. And while Russia alone may not have the economic power to single-handedly crush the U.S. economy, if their trading partners and allies like China got into the mix, coupled with front-running investors who may suspect the move is about to happen, it could well be a blood bath on a global scale.

This wouldn’t even be an issue if the U.S. economy were operating at healthy levels, but as Williams notes in the following interview with Greg Hunter’s USA Watchdog, it’s anything but:

What you have to keep in mind is that back in 2008 we had one of the greatest financial crises the United States ever faced. The system was on the brink of collapse at that point in time. 

What the Fed and the federal government did was spend every penny they could, anything they could create or anything they could guarantee.  They did everything they could possibly do to keep the system from crashing.  They guaranteed all bank accounts.  So, they saved the system, but now what they did has not borne fruit.  We have not seen an economic recovery.  We have not seen a return of health to the banking system.

So, the system is very vulnerable; and if the Russians carry through with their threat, you have, indeed, the risk of it collapsing the system.


(Video via Alt Market)

It does have the effect of creating a hyperinflation, which I think it would.  It’s the type of circumstance that will not allow life to continue as we know it because the U.S. is not able to handle hyperinflation.

We’re not structured for it.  Zimbabwe had one of the worst hyperinflations that anyone has ever seen.  They were still able to function for a while because they get paid in a rapidly depreciating currency.

It was so rapid it became like toilet paper overnight… they would go to a black market and exchange it for dollars.  We (the U.S.) don’t have a black market to escape from our dollars.  Gold is probably the closest thing to that.  Gold will tend to rally here as the dollar sells off, barring very heavy intervention by the central banks which you may see.

The fundamentals will eventually dominate, and you will see a very weak dollar and very strong gold coming out of this.

As it stands now, even without Russia and China, our economic system is, once again, on the cusp of a serious deleveraging. John Williams highlights that January retail sales, a leading indicator of economic health, gave the strongest signal since September 2007 that a recession is looming, if not already here.

One huge indicator of this is that Staples, a leading supplier of office supplies nationwide, is shutting the doors on 225 stores. And, they aren’t the only ones getting hammered by a pullback in consumer spending. The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, saw sales drop over 20% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2013.

And as trend forecaster Gerald Celente once noted, “as goes Walmart, so goes America.”

So, in reality, Russia can probably sit back and watch the U.S. economy slip into a coma over the next couple of years. Of course, if their intention is to return their nation to super power status, an attack on the US economy by dumping the dollar would speed up the process and amplify the fall-out, causing a multi-generational depression.

Last year Barack Obama faced off with Russia over Syria, a situation that could easily have led to a much wider conflict.

Now, the same players have taken the game to Ukraine.

In both instances we’ve heard warnings of a potential collapse of our economic system in the event of an escalation.

The point is that it really doesn’t matter if it’s Syria, Ukraine, Iran or some other periphery conflict.

It should be clear that eventually this is exactly how it’s going to play out with respect to the US dollar.

China and Russia will make their move when they are good and ready.

When that day comes the implosion will be so fast that most Americans won’t even realize what has happened or know how to cope.

Economist Warns of Collapse Risk: “Will Not Allow Life to Continue As We Know It”

Economist Warns of Collapse Risk: “Will Not Allow Life to Continue As We Know It”.

Mac Slavo
March 7th, 2014
SHTFplan.com

theendisnear-wide

Earlier this week we noted that an invasion of the Ukraine by Vladimir Putin would likely lead to a complete destruction of U.S. stock markets. It’s not so much the invasion force itself, but rather, the economic maneuvers that would come with it should Russia take this course of action.

Well known economist and founder of the Shadow Stats web site John Williams seems to agree. If Russia were to begin unloading US Dollars it would almost instantly lead to a collapse of not only our financial markets, but our entire way of life. And while Russia alone may not have the economic power to single-handedly crush the U.S. economy, if their trading partners and allies like China got into the mix, coupled with front-running investors who may suspect the move is about to happen, it could well be a blood bath on a global scale.

This wouldn’t even be an issue if the U.S. economy were operating at healthy levels, but as Williams notes in the following interview with Greg Hunter’s USA Watchdog, it’s anything but:

What you have to keep in mind is that back in 2008 we had one of the greatest financial crises the United States ever faced. The system was on the brink of collapse at that point in time. 

What the Fed and the federal government did was spend every penny they could, anything they could create or anything they could guarantee.  They did everything they could possibly do to keep the system from crashing.  They guaranteed all bank accounts.  So, they saved the system, but now what they did has not borne fruit.  We have not seen an economic recovery.  We have not seen a return of health to the banking system.

So, the system is very vulnerable; and if the Russians carry through with their threat, you have, indeed, the risk of it collapsing the system.


(Video via Alt Market)

It does have the effect of creating a hyperinflation, which I think it would.  It’s the type of circumstance that will not allow life to continue as we know it because the U.S. is not able to handle hyperinflation.

We’re not structured for it.  Zimbabwe had one of the worst hyperinflations that anyone has ever seen.  They were still able to function for a while because they get paid in a rapidly depreciating currency.

It was so rapid it became like toilet paper overnight… they would go to a black market and exchange it for dollars.  We (the U.S.) don’t have a black market to escape from our dollars.  Gold is probably the closest thing to that.  Gold will tend to rally here as the dollar sells off, barring very heavy intervention by the central banks which you may see.

The fundamentals will eventually dominate, and you will see a very weak dollar and very strong gold coming out of this.

As it stands now, even without Russia and China, our economic system is, once again, on the cusp of a serious deleveraging. John Williams highlights that January retail sales, a leading indicator of economic health, gave the strongest signal since September 2007 that a recession is looming, if not already here.

One huge indicator of this is that Staples, a leading supplier of office supplies nationwide, is shutting the doors on 225 stores. And, they aren’t the only ones getting hammered by a pullback in consumer spending. The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, saw sales drop over 20% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2013.

And as trend forecaster Gerald Celente once noted, “as goes Walmart, so goes America.”

So, in reality, Russia can probably sit back and watch the U.S. economy slip into a coma over the next couple of years. Of course, if their intention is to return their nation to super power status, an attack on the US economy by dumping the dollar would speed up the process and amplify the fall-out, causing a multi-generational depression.

Last year Barack Obama faced off with Russia over Syria, a situation that could easily have led to a much wider conflict.

Now, the same players have taken the game to Ukraine.

In both instances we’ve heard warnings of a potential collapse of our economic system in the event of an escalation.

The point is that it really doesn’t matter if it’s Syria, Ukraine, Iran or some other periphery conflict.

It should be clear that eventually this is exactly how it’s going to play out with respect to the US dollar.

China and Russia will make their move when they are good and ready.

When that day comes the implosion will be so fast that most Americans won’t even realize what has happened or know how to cope.

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: Who Gets Thrown Under the Bus in the Next Financial Crisis?

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: Who Gets Thrown Under the Bus in the Next Financial Crisis?.

The speculative excesses and political power of Wall Street pose a strategic threat to the Deep State, and as a result a showdown between the Deep State and the surface machinery of governance that has been captured by Wall Street is looming.

The basic idea of the Deep State is that the visible machinery of governance–electoral politics and the Federal Reserve–doesn’t set strategic policy, it ratifies and implements decisions made behind closed doors. In Mike Lofgren’s definition, the Deep State is “effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.”

In my analysis, the Deep State is the National Security State which enables a vast Imperial structure that incorporates hard and soft power–military, diplomatic, intelligence, finance, commercial, energy, media, higher education–in a system of global domination and influence.

The Dollar and the Deep State (February 24, 2014)

Ukraine: A Deep State Analysis (February 27, 2014)

Like any other bureaucracy, the Deep State is prone to group-think, the tendency to join the prevailing “herd” in accepting a dominant paradigm and narrative that identifies key dynamics and sets priorities.

Group-think responds to both success and failure. In the case of the Deep State, key elements of the neo-conservative paradigm have been discredited. The Rise and Fall of the Failed-State Paradigm: Requiem for a Decade of Distraction (Foreign Affairs)

(Anyone seeking a public reflection of the current thinking within the Deep State would do well to read Foreign Affairs, with an emphasis on reading between the lines.)

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the leaders of the U.S. Deep State are not complete morons. Granted, that is quite a stretch, given that these are the people who gambled the lives of thousands of American troops and trillions of dollars in treasure on discretionary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But it is also reasonable to assume that the neo-conservatives who naively assumed that residents of Baghdad would not only welcome their foreign liberators with baskets of flowers but would magically reconstruct the social institutions that had been systemically destroyed by Saddam over the previous 30 years–yes, those neo-con nincompoops– have been quietly put to pasture on their mini-estates in Northern Virginia.

In other words, it is reasonable to assume that the Deep State has accepted that “mistakes were made” and flushed those responsible for the previous decade’s disasters.

The Deep State undoubtedly has its own niceties and protocols, but it is by necessity ruthlessly Darwinian: failure is not only always an option, it is inevitable as a systems-level consequence of tightly connected, interactive complex systems; such failures are known as “normal accidents,” catastrophes resulting from seemingly small miscalculations and miscues that cascade into systemic crises.

As a result, incompetence cannot be rewarded lest the Deep State itself suffer the consequences.

The Deep State’s prime directive is to preserve the Deep State itself and the nation it depends on for its survival. My analysis starts by identifying the vectors of dependency. (To the best of my knowledge, I am the first to use this term in this context.) The Deep State depends on the survival of the U.S. nation-state, but the nation-state does not depend on the Deep State for its survival, despite the certainty within the Deep State that “we are the only thing keeping this thing together.”

Strategy is one thing, responding to crisis is another. The surface government (elected officials, regulatory agencies, the Federal Reserve, etc.) responds to crisis in two basic ways: it chooses whatever short-term politically expedient fix reduces the immediate political pain (also known as “kicking the can down the road”) and it sacrifices the interests of politically weak groups to protect its cronies and fiefdoms.

This crisis-response triage requires that somebody gets thrown under the bus. In the 2008 financial crisis, the Fed threw savers and the bottom 95% under the bus to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars–what was previously paid in interest–to the banks to rebuild their broken balance sheets. The Fed also provided limitless liquidity to bank trading desks and financiers to skim billions from carry trades, effectively channeling the nation’s financial resources to enrich its cronies, the top 1/10th of 1%.

The Deep State must take a longer view, and make strategic triage decisions. All sorts of people, groups and policies are routinely tossed under the bus–foreign leaders, resistance groups, civil liberties, etc.–as the Deep State adjusts to long-term developments and crises with strategic consequences.

Many Deep State decisions and policies are barely noticed, even though they are completely public. For example, the U.S. Deep State recognized that the dissolution of the Soviet Union opened an extremely dangerous door to nuclear weapons falling into non-state hands. So the U.S. spent tens of billions of dollars helping secure the thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons left in limbo after the breakup.

Though the Deep State’s institutional bias is to focus on conventional national security issues, it must also monitor potential strategic threats created by issues such as climate change, immigration and Peak Cheap Oil. The financial crisis was apparently an unexpected and unwelcome distraction from the geopolitical Great Game, and the response of the Deep State was muted.
while the surface policies of the Federal Reserve and Federal government appear to serve the interests of the financial Elites, I am beginning to discern the possibility of a strategic Deep State response to the next (and inevitable) financial crisis.

This crisis is simple to summarize: the paper claims on wealth so far exceed actual wealth that something’s gotta give. These claims include trillions of dollars in shadow-banking bets (derivatives and other leveraged claims all teetering on a tiny base of real collateral) and trillions of dollars in debt-based claims on future income.

Simply put, the vast majority of these claims will have to be zeroed out, i.e. these phantom-claim “assets” will be voided and declared worthless. This leads to the key question: who will the Deep State throw under the bus to preserve itself and the nation-state?

Once again, identifying the vectors of dependency clarifies the strategic priorities. As I pointed out in The Dollar and the Deep State, the pre-eminence of both the Deep State and the U.S. nation-state depend on the U.S. dollar remaining the key reserve currency in the global economy.

The collapse of the U.S. dollar would destroy the foundation of both the Deep State and the U.S. nation-state, hence my conclusion that the Deep State will not enable that collapse.

As for all the financial claims on real wealth that will have to go to zero value, let’s identify the operative vector of dependency with a question: which scenario most threatens the Deep State: 50 million hungry Americans taking to the streets shouting, “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more!” or 10,000 financiers losing a couple trillion dollars in phantom wealth?

In other words, the phantom financier claims of Wall Street now pose a strategic threat to the integrity of the U.S. and its Deep State.

The Deep State needs a functioning U.S. nation-state, and a mass uprising arising from the collapse of the state cannot be suppressed with a few whiffs of grapeshot. The collapse of global pre-eminence and state financing of food stamps and other social welfare programs directly threaten the Deep State.

The collapse of financier fortunes? While that would hurt some Yalie cronies, the Deep State is not Wall Street; it attracts those who prefer power to wealth and strategy to trading. I have no doubt whatsoever that the leadership of the Deep State would have no qualms about throwing bankers and financiers under the bus once they pose a strategic threat to the U.S. dollar and other financial interests vital to the Deep State, for example, keeping 300 million Americans distracted, placated and docile.

It’s certainly not lost on the Deep State that a palpable hatred of bankers, financiers and the Federal Reserve is taking root across the land. I know this is outside the mainstream, but I think it is increasingly likely that the financial system’s skimmers and swindlers are being recognized as potential strategic threats to the Deep State.

What is essential to the Deep State’s survival and supremacy and what is not essential? Are 10,000 obscenely wealthy financiers essential? No. Between saving the U.S. dollar and making whole the $100 trillion in nominal-value bets made by financiers in offshore shadow-banking accounts–there’s no contest.

Conventional wisdom has it that Wall Street dominates the state and the Fed. To the degree that these formal surface institutions can be influenced by lobbying, campaign contributions and plum positions, this is true. But these surface institutions only ratify and implement Deep State directives.

I know this sounds “impossible” within conventional narratives, but I am increasingly confident that the financiers’ phantom claims on real wealth will be thrown under the bus in the next global financial crisis. Look at it this way: there’s essentially nothing left to stripmine from the bottom 80%; most have been reduced to neofeudal debt-serfdom. Since the survival of the nation-state depends on the 80% remaining either passive or productive, the Deep State has a vital strategic interest in both the U.S. dollar and in maintaining the social welfare programs that enable the bottom 80%’s survival.

The Three-and-a-Half Class Society (October 22, 2012)

The Deep State also needs the top 20% to remain productive to maintain U.S. soft and hard power. Transferring trillions of dollars in real wealth to make good the claims of the financier class would require the stripmining of the whatever assets the top 20% still hold. This transfer would directly threaten both the nation-state and the Deep State.

The dominance of Wall Street over the formal, visible machinery of governance has persuaded many that Wall Street is the Deep State. I believe this is a serious misread of the real Deep State. As I noted in The Dollar and the Deep State, to even discern the outlines of the Deep State requires a senior military position or national-security civilian equivalent.

Those writing knowledgeably about Wall Street and finance typically show near-zero knowledge of high-echelon U.S. military and national-security assets, policies and networks, so this blind spot is understandable.

It’s widely assumed that Wall Street rules the roost in both the mainstream financial media and in the alternative financial blogosphere. In my view, the speculative excesses and political power of Wall Street pose a strategic threat to the Deep State, and as a result a showdown between the Deep State and the surface machinery of governance that has been captured by Wall Street is looming.

Though everyone who is convinced the U.S. dollar will go to zero is confident that Wall Street will emerge victorious from the next financial crisis, I am convinced of the opposite: the Deep State will do whatever it takes to eliminate strategic threats to the integrity of the Deep State and the nation it depends on for its power and survival. In a financial crisis that threatens the dollar and the Deep State, the phantom claims of Wall Street’s financier skimmers, scammers and swindlers will be tossed under the bus with few qualms. The triage might even be performed with a certain relish.

Put another way: we’ve reached Peak Wall Street and it’s all downhill from here.

Activist Post: 20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire

Activist Post: 20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire.

Michael Snyder
Activist Post

If you have been waiting for the “global economic crisis” to begin, just open up your eyes and look around.  I know that most Americans tend to ignore what happens in the rest of the world because they consider it to be “irrelevant” to their daily lives, but the truth is that the massive economic problems that are currently sweeping across Europe, Asia and South America are going to be affecting all of us here in the U.S. very soon.

Sadly, most of the big news organizations in this country seem to be more concerned about the fate of Justin Bieber’s wax statue in Times Square than about the horrible financial nightmare that is gripping emerging markets all over the planet.  After a brief period of relative calm, we are beginning to see signs of global financial instability that are unlike anything that we have witnessed since the financial crisis of 2008.  As you will see below, the problems are not just isolated to a few countries.  This is truly a global phenomenon.

Over the past few years, the Federal Reserve and other global central banks have inflated an unprecedented financial bubble with their reckless money printing.  Much of this “hot money” poured into emerging markets all over the world.  But now that the Federal Reserve has begun “tapering” quantitative easing, investors are taking this as a sign that the party is ending.  Money is being pulled out of emerging markets all over the globe at a staggering pace and this is creating a tremendous amount of financial instability.  In addition, the economic problems that have been steadily growing over the past few years in established economies throughout Europe and Asia just continue to escalate.

The following are 20 signs that the global economic crisis is starting to catch fire…

#1 The unemployment rate in Greece has hit a brand new record high of 28 percent.

#2 The youth unemployment rate in Greece has hit a brand new record high of 64.1 percent.

#3 The percentage of bad loans in Italy is at an all-time record high.

#4 Italian industrial output declined again in December, and the Italian government is on the verge of collapse.

#5 The number of jobseekers in France has risen for 30 of the last 32 months, and at this point it has climbed to a new all-time record high.

#6 The total number of business failures in France in 2013 was even higher than in any year during the last financial crisis.

#7 It is being projected that housing prices in Spain will fallanother 10 to 15 percent as their economic depression deepens.

#8 The economic and political turmoil in Turkey is spinning out of control.  The government has resorted to blasting protesters with pepper spray and water cannons in a desperate attempt to restore order.

#9 It is being estimated that the inflation rate in Argentina is now over 40 percent, and the peso is absolutely collapsing.

#10 Gangs of armed bandits are roaming the streets in Venezuela as the economic chaos in that troubled nation continues to escalate.

#11 China appears to be very serious about deleveraging. The deflationary effects of this are going to be felt all over the planet. The following is an excerpt from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s recent article entitled “World asleep as China tightens deflationary vice“…

China’s Xi Jinping has cast the die. After weighing up the unappetising choice before him for a year, he has picked the lesser of two poisons.

The balance of evidence is that most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong aims to prick China’s $24 trillion credit bubble early in his 10-year term, rather than putting off the day of reckoning for yet another cycle.

This may be well-advised for China, but the rest of the world seems remarkably nonchalant over the implications.

#12 There was a significant debt default by a coal company in China last Friday

A high-yield investment product backed by a loan to a debt-ridden coal company failed to repay investors when it matured last Friday, state media reported on Wednesday, in the latest sign of financial stress in China’s shadow bank sector.

#13 Japan’s Nikkei stock index has already fallen by 14 percent so far in 2014.  That is a massive decline in just a month and a half.

#14 Ukraine continues to fall apart financially

The worsening political and economic circumstances in Ukraine has prompted the Fitch Ratings agency to downgrade Ukrainian debt from B to a pre–default level CCC. This is lower than Greece, and Fitch warns of future financial instability.

#15 The unemployment rate in Australia has risen to the highest level in more than 10 years.

#16 The central bank of India is in a panic over the way that Federal Reserve tapering is affecting their financial system.

#17 The effects of Federal Reserve tapering are also being felt in Thailand

In the wake of the US Federal Reserve tapering, emerging economies with deteriorating macroeconomic figures or visible political instability are being punished by skittish markets. Thailand is drifting towards both these tendencies.

#18 One of Ghana’s most prominent economists says that the economy of Ghana will crash by June if something dramatic is not done.

#19 Yet another banker has mysteriously died during the prime years of his life.  That makes five “suspicious banker deaths” in just the past two weeks alone.

#20 The behavior of the U.S. stock market continues to parallel the behavior of the U.S. stock market in 1929.

Yes, things don’t look good right now, but it is important to keep in mind that this is just the beginning.

This is just the leading edge of the next great financial storm.

The next two years (2014 and 2015) are going to represent a major “turning point” for the global economy.  By the end of 2015, things are going to look far different than they do today.

None of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.  Global debt levels have grown by 30 percent since the last financial crisis, and the too big to fail banks in the United States are 37 percent larger than they were back then and their behavior has become even more recklessthan before.

As a result, we are going to get to go through another “2008-style crisis”, but I believe that this next wave is going to be even worse than the previous one.

So hold on tight and get ready.  We are going to be in for quite a bumpy ride.

Why The Next Global Crisis Will Be Unlike Any In The Last 200 Years | CYNICONOMICS

Why The Next Global Crisis Will Be Unlike Any In The Last 200 Years | CYNICONOMICS.

Posted on February 6, 2014 by ffwiley

Sometime soon, we’ll take a shot at summing up our long-term economic future with just a handful of charts and research results. In the meantime, we’ve created a new chart that may be the most important piece. There are two ideas behind it:

 

  1. Wars and political systems are the two most basic determinants of an economy’s long-term path. America’s unique pattern of economic performance differs from Russia’s, which differs from Germany’s, and so on, largely because of the outcomes of two types of battles: military and political.
  2. The next attribute that most obviously separates winning from losing economies is fiscal responsibility. Governments of winning economies normally meet their debt obligations; losing economies are synonymous with fiscal crises and sovereign defaults. You can argue causation in either direction, but we’re not playing that game here. We’re simply noting that a lack of fiscal responsibility is a sure sign of economic distress (think banana republic).

Our latest chart isolates the fiscal piece by removing war effects and considering only large, developed countries. In particular, we look at government budget balances without military spending components.

(Military spending requires a different evaluation because it succeeds or fails based on whether wars are won or lost. Or, in the case of America’s adventures of the past six decades, whether war mongering policies serve any national interest at all. In any case, military spending isn’t our focus here.)

There are 11 countries in our analysis, chosen according to a rule we’ve used in the past – GDP must be as large as that of the Netherlands. We start in 1816 for four of the 11 (the U.S., U.K., France and Netherlands). Others are added at later dates, depending mostly on data availability. (See this “technical notes” post for further detail.) Here’s the chart:

fiscal balance ex-defense 1

Not only has the global, non-defense budget balance dropped to never-before-seen levels, but it’s falling along a trend line that shows no sign of flattening. The trend line spells fiscal disaster. It suggests that we’ve never been in a predicament comparable to today. Essentially, the world’s developed countries are following the same path that’s failed, time and again, in chronically insolvent nations of the developing world.

Look at it this way: the chart shows that we’ve turned the economic development process inside out. Ideally, advanced economies would stick to the disciplined financial practices that helped make them strong between the early-19th and mid-20th centuries, while emerging economies would “catch up” by building similar track records. Instead, advanced economies are catching down and threatening to throw the entire world into the kind of recurring crisis mode to which you’re accustomed if you live in, say, Buenos Aires.

How did things get so bad?

Here are eight developments that help to explain the post-World War 2 trend:

  1. In much of the world, the Great Depression triggered a gradual expansion in the role of the state.
  2. Public officials failed to establish a sustainable structure for their social safety nets, and got away with this partly by sweeping the true costs of their programs under the carpet.
  3. Profligate politicians were abetted by the economics profession, which was more than happy to serve up unrealistic theories that account for neither unintended consequences nor long-term costs of deficit spending.
  4. With economists having succeeded in knocking loose the old-time moorings to budgetary discipline (see first 150 years of chart), responsible politicians became virtually unelectable.
  5. Central bankers suppressed normal (and healthy) market mechanisms for forcing responsibility, by slashing interest rates and buying up government debt.
  6. Regulators took markets further out of the equation by rewarding private banks for lending to governments, while politicians and central bankers effectively underwrote the private bankers’ risks.
  7. Monetary policies also encouraged dangerous private credit growth and other financial excesses, resulting in budget-destroying setbacks such as stagflation and banking crises.
  8. Budget decisions were made without consideration of the inevitability of these setbacks, because economists wielding huge influence over the budgeting process (think CBO, for example) assumed a naïve utopia of endless economic expansion.

Sadly, all of these developments are still very much intact (excepting small improvements in budget projections that we’ll address next week). They tell us we’ll need substantial changes in political processes, central banking and the economics profession to avert the disaster predicted by our chart. And we’re rapidly running out of time, as discussed in “Fonzi or Ponzi? One Theory on the Limits to Government Debt.”

On the bright side, a fiscal disaster should help trigger the needed changes. Every kick of the can lends more weight to the view expressed by some that the debt super-cycle – including public and private debt – needs to go the distance, eventually reaching a Keynesian end game of massive collapse. At that time, we would expect a return to old-fashioned, conservative attitudes toward debt.

As for the chart, it helps to flesh out a handful of ideas we’ve been either writing about or thinking of writing about. We’ll return to it in future posts, including one drilling down to the individual country level that we’ll publish soon.

BNP Warns “The Run On Ukrainian Deposits May Have Already Started” | Zero Hedge

BNP Warns “The Run On Ukrainian Deposits May Have Already Started” | Zero Hedge.

“It is absolutely impossible to forecast” Ukraine’s exchange rate, BNP Paribas notes in an ominous report today. Considering Ukraine’s huge need to cover its current account deficit, the country is increasingly reliant on financial inflows – and these will be difficult to secure. The Hyrvnia has collapsed this morninng to 9.00 back near December 2008 lows as BNP warns “The NBU faces a difficult task: let the FX rate devalue to a ‘new fair level’ without triggering a run on hryvnia retail deposits, which might have already started.” Relying on external support amid a forced devaluation “increases risks of disorderly adjustement,” and that appears to happening.

Ukraine’s currency – the Hyrvnia has collapsed to 9.00 this morning…

BNP’s warnings today (via Bloomberg):

It is absolutely impossible to forecast” hryvnia’s exchange rate, BNP Paribas analysts Serhiy Yahnych and Yevgeniy Orudzhev in Kiev write in report today.

Ukraine’s current-account gap, unstable funding and anti-govt protests have “created a dangerous Molotov cocktail, which now seems to turn into a currency crisis:” BNP

“The National Bank of Ukraine conducted only a minor intervention yesterday, which led to increased demand for dollars this morning:” BNP

The NBU faces a difficult task: let the FX rate devalue to a ‘new fair level’ without triggering a run on hryvnia retail deposits, which might have already started. Furthermore, it is forced to conduct devaluation having no external support package, which increases risks of disorderly adjustement:” BNP

BNP comments seem extremely accurate from last year…

… rebalancing of the current account has been virtually zero over the last few months.

Considering Ukraine’s huge need to cover its current account deficit, the country is increasingly reliant on financial inflows. These will be difficult to secure

We expect FX reserves to nosedive to USD 18bn by the end of 2013, underlining the case for a weaker local currency. Ukraine badly needs to rebalance its current account, with calls for a more flexible (and weaker) FX rate getting louder.

Celente Warns Of Coming Riots: “The Collapse Is Engulfing The World”

Celente Warns Of Coming Riots: “The Collapse Is Engulfing The World”.

riots-engulf-world

He accurately predicted the trends that have shaped the last decade. Ahead of the collapse of 2008 his Trends Journal newsletter issued a forecast that stock markets, which had just hit all time highs, would buckle in the first quarter of the year and that an unprecedented recession would blanket the global economy. He said the decline in  financial markets would then be followed by disillusionment in America’s political and economic systems, leading to the rise of a third-party and widespread protests across America. And while officials the country over tried to assuage fears in the populace, he cautioned that the middle class would continue to be destroyed through taxation, regulation and fiscal incompetence.

His foresight was 20/20.

Now, renowned trend forecaster Gerald Celente warns that, despite establishment claims of recovery and growth, things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Celente isn’t suggesting that a massive collapse is going to happen in the future.

He says we’re already in it – and it’s taking hold right before our eyes across the entirety of the globe:

This selloff in the emerging markets, with their currencies going down and their interest rates going up, it’s going to be disastrous and there are going to be riots everywhere…

So as the decline in their economies accelerates, you are going to see the civil unrest intensify.

If you want to know a business that will thrive in 2014, it may well beguillotines because these are ‘Off with their heads’ moments.

Meanwhile, they just passed laws in Spain to stop people from protesting.  But all the laws in the world do not feed starving people. All the laws in the world do not put roofs over people’s heads. 

That’s why you are going to see heads roll.

you can already see chaos engulfing the world as the Fed’s global financial scheme is collapsing.  This collapse is engulfing the entire world, from Russia, to South Africa, into China and emerging markets across the globe. 

Full Interview at King World News (also available in audio broadcast)
via Steve Quayle

Should protesters in the U.S. threaten the status quo in any way they will be dealt with like the people who took to the streets in the Ukraine, Egypt, Iran, and Greece.

In fact, a Federal court recently upheld Congressional legislation passed in 2012 that allowed the herding of protestors into so-called “free speech” zones, and to charge those who assemble at “official functions” designated as areas of “national significance” with federal crimes punishable by one year in prison.

Under that verbiage, that means a peaceful protest outside a candidate’s concession speech would be a federal offense…

Carefully controlled protests involving individuals who have been bused in by their respective political party or union leaders are often televised by the mainstream media in an effort to give Americans a false sense of freedom.

When these protests turn to uprising and riots because millions of people can no longer keep a roof over their heads or food in their bellies, you can bet that those involved will be dealt with swiftly and behind the cloak of terrorism secrecy laws like the National Defense Authorization Act which essentially gives the government the right to detain anyone, for any reason, for an indefinite amount of time.

But the real question here is, why would the government need laws like this?

Why would they be war-gaming and simulating economic collapse scenarios and civil unrest?

Why are they continuing to borrow trillions of dollars from foreign creditors and injecting the domestic economy with tens of billions of dollars on a monthly basis?

The only plausible answer, given the current economic climate in America and sentiment on Main Street, is that the authorities at the highest levels of our government know that something very bad could happen.

And they confirmed this in two letters issued by two different Treasury Secretaries over the last several years. Most recently, the Treasury department noted that failure to satiate our nation’s never ending appetite for debt would have a “catastrophic effect” on our economy:

Credit markets could freeze, the value of the dollar could plummet, US interest rates could skyrocket, the negative spillovers could reverberate around the world, and there might be a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse.

Not only might the economic consequences of default be profound, but those consequences, including high interest rates, reduced investment, higher debt payments, and slow economic growth, could last for more than a generation…

The fall-out from our current economic climate is going to be unprecedented. For those who deny this is happening, understand that the above warning comes directly from our Treasury Department. They’re the money guys. And they are telling us what’s going to happen.

And be assured it won’t just be stock markets that drop precipitously.

What we’re talking about here is the collapse of the economy of the United States of America – the richest nation on Earth. 

The consequences will be devastating on every level and those of us on Main Street will be taking the brunt of the impact.

Imagine a situation where jobs continue to be shed by the hundreds of thousands every month without abatement. A situation where the price of basic essentials like energy and food rise without restraint. A situation where medical care is so expensive that average Americans will go bankrupt trying to pay for government mandated coverage. A situation where whatever money you do have in savings becomes worthless because our currency loses credibility around the world.

This is what’s happening right now.

The scary version: There is no way to turn this around. It’s just going to get progressively worse.

If you haven’t taken steps to prepare – to insulate yourself for an economic end of the world as we know it – then life for you and your family is going to be horrific.

This is the depression.

11 Economic Crashes That Are Happening RIGHT NOW

11 Economic Crashes That Are Happening RIGHT NOW.

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