Reading time: 5,145 words, lots of graphs, 12 to 20 minutes.
Having watched the decline of the world’s economies for seven years now, it is becoming painfully obvious that there will never be a recovery. Things will never be the same. In fact, we are circling ever closer to the drain as you’ll see as you continue reading.
The Sad Tale of Terrace Bay, Ontario
Several years ago I drove through Terrace Bay, Ontario. This is a small mill town with its largest employer Kimberly Clark operating a paper mill.
As the Trans-Canada highway slowed down to urban speed through the town and being a passenger, I saw an astonishing sight. Numerous back yards could be seen from the highway. They were filled with trailers and motor homes, motor boats and fishing boats, snowmobiles, motorcycles and ATV’s. Most of the driveways had more than one vehicle, many were expensive 4X4’s, none of them very old and this was during working hours when many breadwinner(s) would have driven their own vehicles to work. In other words, they had “all the toys”.
I mentioned this to the driver, a friend of mine. He said presciently, “It can’t last.” And, it didn’t. When an unskilled mill worker earns so much money they can afford all the comforts of upper middle class then reality eventually catches up. And, it did. Kimberly Clark, after losing money for years finally sold the mill. It changed hands several more times and each time it was downsized with fewer workers and less pay.
Terrace Bay is a microcosm of the developed world (once known as the ‘first world’). After WW II, cheap energy and abundant credit fueled a growing middle class of consumers that drove 70% of the economy. It couldn’t last. And, it didn’t. Higher energy prices, the end of available credit and the off-shoring (globalization) of labor did to the developed world what reality did to Terrace Bay.
SRSrocco outlines the failing interdependence of the global financial system with energy. “We must remember, stock and bond prices are based on future earnings from corporations in a growing economy. And a growing economy is only possible by a growing energy supply.”
We can debate into the wee hours why it happened and when things started going downhill, but the timing doesn’t really matter as much as the effect. The effect has been painful with the high-paying jobs lost, home foreclosures, low interest rates, increased debt, loss of savings, defined contribution plans replacing defined benefit plans and the list goes on and on. The effects will continue forever. It’s now structural. We cannot turn back the hands of time. We cannot put toothpaste back into the tube.
Yes, some manufacturing is returning to the developed world but the high paying jobs are not. These new factories are run by robots, not humans. The first world middle class has been replaced by a growing middle class in South Africa and China and elsewhere.
And, it’s not over. Changes will continue. Driverless trucks have been successfully operating in Australia for several years. The Google driverless cars warn us that in future we won’t need truck drivers, cabbies or bus drivers. If your job can be automated, it will be. It’s only a matter of time.
Humans Need Not Apply
Some people grasp this and are prepared to change with it. Most people, I’m afraid, are in denial and they’ll become very angry when reality bites.
I recently covered the collapse of the U.S. economy but it’s worth updating with the latest information. Despite the Amerikan government propaganda regurgitated by the ass media, the U.S. never recovered from the last downturn in 2008.
Below is a recent Shadow Stats graph showing the Consumer Price Index (inflation) for the U.S. at almost 10% per year yet, phony government statistics say inflation is less than 2%.
The red line above is the government’s fraudulent statistics. The blue line calculates inflation without the government’s dubious metrics like substitution and hedonics
Now consider that so-called GDP growth is supposedly in the 3% range. This means the U.S. economy is actually shrinking 10% – 3% = 7% per year and has been for many years. Is it any wonder the Chinese economy is rapidly gaining on the U.S.? It’s actually a combination of China growing and the U.S. shrinking. The IMF expects China to surpass the U.S. shortly.
With wages down 23% since 2008, is it any wonder why the middle class in the U.S. is being systematically destroyed? And, along with it the U.S. economy, 70% of which is driven by the consumer. The new definition of retirement is now ‘work until you die’.
The latest Amerikan government propaganda about unemployment is as laughable as the CPI above when seen in the Shadow Stats graph below.
The red line above is the government’s phony unemployment statistics that do NOT measure people who have given up looking for work or those no longer eligible for UI payments. The thick blue line is more accurate as it measures the labor force participation rate i.e. eligible workers with jobs. As you can see, participation has fallen to levels last seen in 1975.
Even CBS is starting to admit that the official unemployment rate is bogus. As well, Federal Disability payments have increased 66% since 2000 while the population has increased only 13% during that time. This also distorts the real unemployment rate.
Many of the so-called new jobs are part-time jobs counted as full-time. Furthermore, each part-time ‘new job’ is calculated as one person. I know one woman working at three part-time jobs so she’s counted as three people which also distorts the real unemployment rate.
Home ownership is another metric that measures the health of an economy. The graph below demonstrates how home ownership levels have fallen to 1996 levels.
The chart below puts the lie to the so-called U.S. housing recovery. It shows that only the market for homes priced at $1 million plus is improving. All other sales of houses less than $1 million are dropping.
Global News reports “The Canadian economy’s capacity to generate meaningful job growth continued to fall short of expectations last month – particularly in Ontario – as employment surprisingly fell by 9,400 nationally in June and by 33,900 in the country’s most populous province.”
Nor is Canada immune to government statistical bullshit. The Canadian Press’ headline “StatsCan: 42,000 jobs created in July, not 200” is a pathetic attempt to paint the new 200 jobs originally reported by Stats Canada as a mistake. There was such a public outcry that 41,800 mythical jobs were immediately revised out of thin air.
Macleans blamed the error as a stroke of the “keyboard” never mind that it would have taken at least two strokes and the Globe and Mail reported that it was, “related to a major redesign of Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS), as well as employees’ “incomplete understanding” of processing systems, according to an investigation into the error by the agency.”
Funny how liars can’t get their story straight! And sure – we’re dumb enough to believe a government investigating itself.
Zero Hedge had a few pithy comments about it:
“And sure enough, since one can’t possibly have a recession in a centrally-planned world, just hours after the release, and following the outcry from the cognitive dissonance, Statistics Canada yielded to pressure for a correction and promptly admitted it had made a mistake and was forced to correct its report. However instead of pulling a laughable ISM “seasonal adjustment glitch” excuse, the agency said it failed to count workers who should have been categorized as full-time employees, even though it clearly did count most full-time employees. Just not those that were critical to keep the illusion going.”
Just wait until the Liberal party’s Justin Trudeau (“Truedope”) becomes the next Prime Minister. This is a man who firmly believes “budgets balance themselves” making him as economically illiterate and as dangerous as his father, former PM Pierre Trudeau, not to mention as flaky as his mother.
His plan is to “return Canada to massive deficit spending similar to what was inflicted on Canada by his father. This would act to undermine Canada’s long term fiscal health again similar to [his father’s] disastrous legacy of debt, inflation and high interest rates.”
Just what Canada needs is more Collectivist idiocy!
On the Canadian real estate front, according to Ross Kay Realty Consultants
Estimated Total GAINED Value in the Entire Canadian Residential Housing Stock:
140 Years (1867-2007)
6 Years (2008-2013)
Current Estimated Value of the Canadian Housing Stock:
In other words, over 26% of the total current value of Canadian realty was gained in the last 6 years. To put it another way, the last 6 years increased 36% over the previous 140 years.
Now, THAT’s a bubble. And, “Bubbles burst”. Ironically, that’s the first line in the first “Collapse” article I wrote almost seven years ago.
Collapsing Global Economies
The entire global economy has begun another downturn thanks in part to mindless Collectivists (idiot Socialists and so-called Progressive Liberals) whose programs are hastening the collapse with the bankruptcy of Detroit being a prime example. It’s no coincidence that the governments in deepest debt and verging on bankruptcy are run by Democrats and Collectivist idiots.
Reuters reporting on Brazil: “Latin America’s largest economy has suffered stagnant growth for more than three years under the economic policies of the left-leaning Rousseff”. In other words, another Collectivist idiot ruined another once-vibrant economy.
Martin Armstrong writes, “Just like a small business that keeps expanding, those in government do the same thing except it consumes money never creates anything. Socialism is not about helping the less-fortunate. It is about government workers helping themselves to what you have. This is no different from giving money to a charity and you find out 80% goes to administration costs.”
He also writes, “The collapse of communism was far less detrimental than the collapse we are witnessing in socialism. Under communism, people distrusted government as a whole and were more self-reliant. Under socialism, people expect to be taken care of by government. They are totally unprepared for what happens when government cannot honor its debts and promises.”
As well, there’s no end to the statistical games that governments use to fudge the numbers. European governments are now using criminal activities such as drug dealing and prostitution to bolster their GDP statistics. Last year the US increased its phony GDP numbers by $500bn or 3% by redefining R&D spending as “investments”. Bottom line: don’t trust official numbers because governments are marking their own exams.
Moody’s rating agency has revised “GDP growth forecasts for emerging market countries as high inflation and lower export demands from China weigh on their economies.”
The Financial Times reports that, “France’s economy remained stagnant in the second quarter of this year, raising the spectre that it will fail to meet targets set by Brussels on reducing its budget deficit. The eurozone’s second-largest economy said on Thursday that growth was zero between April and the end of June.”
They also report that, “The German economy contracted in the second quarter, raising doubts about the ability of the eurozone’s largest economy to power the region’s recovery.”
In addition, they also report that the “Eurozone economy shudders to halt.” And BirchGold.com headlines that, “Argentina defaults on its debt. Ten more countries are near bankruptcy.”
No Recovery; Governments are Out of Ammunition
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble admitted that, “The European Central Bank has run out of ways to help the euro area … I think monetary policy has come to the end of its instruments and therefore what we urgently need is investments, regaining confidence by investors, by markets, by consumers.” I say good luck with that. If such wishful thinking were possible it would have been done long ago wouldn’t it?
Even after unprecedented government spending, the Eurozone jobless rate fell fell only half a percent this past year. Falling from 12% to 11.5% it’s still at record levels.
Furthermore, governments are out of ammunition. Central banks are tapped out and interest rates can’t go any lower. There are no more rabbits in the hat.
Ed Gordon, a consultant with over 40 years experience, writes in the August edition of “Construction Equipment Distribution” magazine, “The united States doesn’t have a people unemployment problem. The United states has an unemployable people problem.” The same can be said for much of the developed world (“first world”) to varying degrees.
He gives the following five reasons for the problem:
1) U.S. companies that reject the necessity of employee training as an essential part of their business strategy
2) An educational system that is lowering educational rigor rather than raising it.
3) Students who refuse to learn or even how to learn well
4) Parents who do not encourage their children to do well in school because they do not link educational attainment with securing good-paying jobs and careers
5) A popular culture that places a low value on education as it is not viewed as important for individual success
He describes systemic solutions to this skills-job disconnect. “For the past 10 to 15 years, small businesses as well as larger organizations have been forming local and regional cross-sector public-private partnerships with local community institutions.” He coined the acronym RETAINS (Regional Talent Innovation Networks) which, “are reinventing regional service delivery systems by modernizing education-to-employment infrastructure.”
I wish I could share his optimism, but re-reading his five reasons for the problem leads to the stark conclusion that RETAINS, although well-meaning is but a fart in a windstorm. The problem is systemic and far larger than these local initiatives can reverse. For one thing, the problem is well entrenched in culture. For another thing, RETAINS’ impact has been minimal as it’s been on-going for 10 to 15 years during which time the unemployment situation has deteriorated; not gotten better. The dumbing-down of Amerika will continue unabated with the new Common Core curriculum.
Last but not least is George Carlin’s reminder that our owners do NOT want an educated workforce. [Warning: foul language]
Jim Rickards Warns of a 25 Year Economic Depression
I urge you to watch Money Morning’s 45 minute interview with Jim Rickards by clicking HERE. However, beware; there is a very slick infomercial starting at the 31 minute mark so you can skip the last part unless you’re Amerikan in which case you’ll likely find Rickards’ material very useful in protecting your wealth and future well-being. I’ll let you decide.
In any case, the many graphs reproduced below support Rickards’ contention about the imminent collapse of the U.S. and global economies. I’ll briefly summarise below but again, I urge you to watch the video which provides far more detail. Rickards is a very knowledgeable fellow with unique experience and startling perspectives. I’ve followed his commentary for many years.
Rickards says the U.S. is in a debt crisis. Federal government debt has increased to $17 trillion but there is $127 trillion in unfunded liabilities Some reports put the number far higher. During the boom years of the 1950’s and 1960’s every dollar of increased debt produced $2.41 of economic growth. During the stagflationary 1970’s one debt dollar produced only $0.41. Today its’ flat-lined producing only $0.03 and will soon go negative even though debt is still increasing.
He says this is a signal about a complex system that is about to collapse. The U.S. is currently in an economic depression (I’ve said this for years). It’s a Stealth Depression because the ‘soup kitchens’ have been replaced with 50 million Amerikans on food stamps. I briefly outlined a similar situation in Canada.
The U.S. unemployment rate today is actually about 23% as was also see by the Shadow Stats chart earlier.
Reckless money printing has made the economic system so complex that the risk has gone up exponentially to unimaginable levels. The system is about to collapse. Government propaganda is trying to cover the extent of the problem.
The Federal Reserve does NOT know what they’re doing. They can print all the money they want. However, no one is borrowing it or spending it so the economy is collapsing. Zero Hedge confirms the Fed’s incredible incompetence as does Chris Martenson.
The Velocity of Money refers to the speed at which money passes from one person to another. In the U.S. money velocity is plunging indicating that few people are spending.
Money velocity is plunging faster today than just before the last Great Depression. So, it doesn’t matter how much money the Fed prints.
There are many troubling signs that signal an economic collapse is close. The Misery Index is one such sign. It’s the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate. And, as I’ve noted above, they are both under-reported so the real Misery Index is far greater than shown on the chart below. Even with these under-reported numbers, today’s Misery Index is higher at 32 than it was during the Great Depression at 27.
The Federal Reserve might bail out failing banks because the Fed has a large amount of assets.
But, what happens when the Fed itself fails? Rickards says, “the Fed already has failed … it’s insolvent on a ‘mark to market’ basis.” The chart below shows that the Fed’s liabilities greatly exceed its assets.
With over $60 trillion in debt, the U.S. banking system is drowning in debt far greater than the Fed’s assets to bail them out.
In fact, the entire Amerikan banking system is insolvent with bank debt growing thirty times faster than the U.S economy.
During the so-called “Great Recession” beginning in 2008, the Fed’s debt was leveraged 22 to 1. Today it is 77 to 1 or 350% greater.
Rickards also says the stock markets have reached a “super-critical state”. The chart below shows the ratio of stock market capitalization to GDP today vs 1929 prior to the stock market crash that preceded the Great Depression.
Stock markets represent the wealth of the economy. Stock valuation has grown out of all proportion to the economy. The chart below shows stock valuation vs GDP at 183% prior to the Great Recession and has now grown to an outsize 203%.
Rickards doesn’t mention this but look at the depth of each crash after each peak in the chart above. The crash after the Great Recession of 2008 was deeper than the preceding crash after the Dot Bomb Bust in 2000 and 9/11 in 2001. Then stock valuations were 204% comparable to today’s 203%. If the cycle repeats with crash depth in proportion to stock overvaluation, then the next crash will be incredible. In other words, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
The chart below compares stock valuations today at 203% vs 1929 at 87%.
The chart below from Zero Hedge graphically demonstrates how schizophrenic stock valuations are. S&P 500 stocks are climbing while GDP is falling.
Another warning sign is the gross notional value of derivatives. I’ve been warning about the derivative time bomb since my first ‘Collapse’ article in 2007. The number of derivatives have increased greatly since then to ten times global GDP while some reports indicate double that.
We know the number of stocks that have been issued but there’s no limit to derivatives such as credit default swaps, forwards, options, futures and an alphabet soup of these structured “financial instruments of mass destruction” as Warren Buffet calls them.
How bad can a derivatives crash become? In 2007 and 2008 when the stock markets crashed along with real estate and other assets, $60 trillion in wealth was lost. Since the system is so much larger now, Rickards estimates the coming loss at “$100 trillion, possibly more.”
Rickards has investigated a number of flash points that could detonate the collapse.
1) Foreign ownership of U.S. government debt (bonds, treasury notes, etc.) He says, “Recently, foreign holding of U.S. government debt have been plummeting.” Russia began dumping Treasuries prior to their takeover of Crimea in anticipation of economic sanctions. China has also been dumping.
Belgium has become a large purchaser of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth which is far larger than Belgium’s current account surplus. The public doesn’t know who the real buy is and it’s likely the Fed itself swapping IOU’s with the Treasury. Rickards says there’s a limit to how many rabbits can be pulled out of the hat. The Fed’s already tapped out so with fewer buyers of debt, interest rates will rise and sink the economy, housing and the stock markets.
2) The petrodollar is another flashpoint. Global oil exports are priced in U.S. dollars but it doesn’t have to be because oil could be priced in any currency or asset including gold. In 1974 oil was $2 a barrel, but at the end of the 70’s it was a $12 “petro-shock” that spurred inflation and long gas lines.
Saudi Arabia agreed to price their oil exports in U.S. dollars thus securing the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency. In exchange, the U.S. agreed to support the House of Saud as rulers and protect Saudi Arabia from its enemies. This caused the U.S. dollar to surge in value until about the year 2002 when the dollar began to decline.
Rickards describes the U.S. dollar as a three-legged stool which is losing its legs one by one. The first leg is Saudi Arabia described above. In December 2013, President Obama, drawing down American military presence overseas jeopardized the national security of Saudi Arabia by anointing Iran (Saudi Arabia’s enemy) as the policeman of the Middle East. Jilted Saudi Arabia is no longer pricing its oil exclusively in U.S. dollars and, in fact, they’re selling more oil to China priced in Yuan.
The second leg of the stool is Russia the world’s largest energy exporter; larger even than Saudi Arabia. However, the U.S. is now conducting financial warfare against Russia ostensibly for its involvement in Ukraine. Russians have stated publicly that it’s time to end the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency and they’ve started selling oil in Rubles.
3) China’s stealth gold run is another flashpoint. Two of the stool’s legs have already been pulled out. The third leg is China and that leg is coming out too with the recent $400 billion deal to buy Russian energy products. China has recently struck many trade agreements based in Yuan all over the world.
Thus, the U.S. dollar is slowly losing its status as the global reserve currency which will drive inflation in the U.S. Global central banks are getting out of the dollar and buying gold. China has acquired more than 3,000 tons of gold in the past four years and they likely hold a lot more.
Rickards calls China’s gold a dagger aimed at the heart of the U.S. dollar because once they reveal the tree extent of their gold holdings it will likely destroy the U.S. dollar.
4) The collapse of China is another flashpoint. China has a highly leveraged banking system, but even more ominous is the Chinese ‘shadow banking’ system that has grown over 4,000% since 2005. These are unregulated, non-bank financial institutions with over-inflated assets many of which have likely been pledged as collateral or re-hypothecated many times.
Prior to the 2008 Great Recession, U.S. construction accounted for 16% of U.S. GDP. Chinese construction now accounts for 50% of Chinese GDP.
In any case, before the U.S. housing crash, it took about 4.3 years of income to buy a house. In China it takes 18 years of income to buy those overpriced homes which Rickards feels will cause a collapse of that Ponzi scheme.
Once the Chinese housing market collapses there will be a run on the banks which will be unable to meet demands for cash withdrawals resulting in riots and the world’s second largest economy will collapse and crash the overvalued U.S. stock market and drag down the global economy.
5) The fifth flashpoint is the IMF’s plan to replace the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency. In 2014, the IMF released a report titled, “The Dollar Reigns Supreme by Default” wherein they state that, “The aggressive use of unconventional monetary policies by the Federal Reserve [the U.S. central bank] has increased the supply of dollars and created risks in the financial system … the dollar’s status should be in peril.”
The U.S. dollar is already declining as global central banks reduce their U.S dollar reserves.
In the next global financial crisis where central banks need to re-liquefy the world at a time when most central banks are either tapped out or insolvent, where’s that money going to come from? The U.S. Fed is already insolvent being leveraged 77 to 1.
The IMF is leveraged only 3 to 1 so when the next crisis hits it’ll dwarf the Fed and the only source of liquidity is the IMF and its Special Drawing Rights (SDR’s) aka ‘world money’. When the IMF bails out the Fed and other global central banks in the next crisis, the IMF will become the world’s central bank.
Rickards envisions a prolonged depression massive deflation, massive unemployment, rampant bank collapses, 70% stock market drop (or worse) and this could start within six months but he admits the timing is difficult to predict.
Determining which snowflake will cause the avalanche isn’t as important as moving to safety while we can. He says, holding on to what we have will be half the battle.
Plethora of Analysts Predict Major Downturn
I have never seen so many financial analysts predicting a major downturn.
There are a lot more, but I think you get the idea. Can they all be wrong?
Why the Next Depression Will Be Worse Than the Great Depression
Rick Ackerman, in his July 21, 2014 newsletter outlined why the next Amerikan economic depression will be more painful than the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
1) Americans were not soft and doughy back then, nor were they obsessed with an Orwellian newsfeed that titillated and maliciously divided them over such made-up issues as “homophobia,” “racism” and “sexism”;
2) 30% of the working population was connected to agriculture, literally living off the land;
3) the dollar was as good as gold;
4) the food-and-products distribution system was far more robust than today’s fragile, just-in-time infrastructure;
5) a disastrously inept, narcissistic ideologue did not occupy the most powerful political office in the world;
6) jihadi psychopaths did not yet possess the means to poison the world with biological and/or radiological weapons;
7) mortgages and credit cards did not exist, and households had little or no debt;
8) good medical care was affordable;
9) Americans were not hooked on government handouts;
10) jobs were far less specialized, and people knew how to fix things when they broke; and
11) schools taught useful skills.
Another False Flag Event Likely
There has been much talk and many articles lately predicting another False Flag event staged by government agencies to look like it was perpetrated by the ‘enemy’ (whoever it is this week). Washington’s blog has a long list of False Flag events that governments have staged for ages.
Also, it’s been 13 years since the last major false flag; 9/11 so it’s quite likely we’ll see another soon. I’m not predicting one, but the amount of internet chatter is disconcerting.
However, I’m more inclined to see a false flag in the U.S. rather than a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda or ISIS. If these terrorists are smart, and ISIS certainly are, they won’t risk a U.S. direct military confrontation with them but could wage their own ‘proxy war’ by destabilizing Saudi Arabia which would cause irreparable financial damage to the West with rising oil prices.
So, is there anything you can do? Indeed, there is. The best way to deal with a problem is avoid it. Note I’m not saying ignore it, but I am saying don’t be part of the problem. Don’t be there when it happens. If you want to improve your situational awareness, you can read excellent tips from Preparing for SHTF.
The Best Investment You Can Make
No, I don’t mean gold and silver. They are insurance against the collapse of the global financial system, but they are not an investment. So, how can you make money when saving rates are near zero and stock markets are propped up with pixie dust?
Very simple: pay off your debt. You’ll ‘make’ whatever interest rate you’re now paying on your debt whether it’s credit cards or loans or a mortgage. No other investment today will earn you as much as the interest you won’t pay when you pay off debts.
We’re no longer in an era of “making money” on investments. We are now in an era where the return OF money is more important than the return ON money. Simply, the less interest you pay, the more money stays in your pocket.
This time is different. There will be no end to the Greatest Depression. The developed world will not ‘recover’, ever. Finance and manufacturing has permanently moved to Asia. Older workers, unable to retire are holding on to jobs thus preventing the younger generations moving out of Mom’s basement and learning valuable job skills.
Governments are out of ammunition, central banks are tapped out and interest rates can’t go any lower. Computers are the new labor force. Our owners are looting us blind. There will be no uprising of any consequence because more than half the population relies on the government and won’t bite the hand that feeds them and even if they did revolt, police forces are more militarized than the military.
The last Great Depression ended after WWII, but economic power shifted from Britain to the U.S.A. This Greatest Depression may end someday but economic power will have shifted leaving the U.S.A. and much of the West pale shadows of our former selves.
Get used to it, and remember the mantra:
We cannot borrow our way out of debt.
We cannot spend our way to prosperity.
We cannot pretend our way out of trouble.
September 1, 2014
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