Category: Global Economy

Bank of America sees $50 oil as Opec dies

“Our biggest worry is the end of the liquidity cycle. The Fed is done. The reach for yield that we have seen since 2009 is going into reverse”, said Bank of America.

8:01PM GMT 09 Dec 2014

The Opec oil cartel no longer exists in any meaningful sense and crude prices will slump to $50 a barrel over the coming months as market forces shake out the weakest producers, Bank of America has warned.

Revolutionary changes sweeping the world’s energy industry will drive down the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG), creating a “multi-year” glut and a much cheaper source of gas for Europe.

Francisco Blanch, the bank’s commodity chief, said Opec is “effectively dissolved” after it failed to stabilize prices at its last meeting. “The consequences are profound and long-lasting,“ he said.

The free market will now set the global cost of oil, leading to a new era of wild price swings and disorderly trading that benefits only the Mid-East petro-states with deepest pockets such as Saudi Arabia. If so, the weaker peripheral members such as Venezuela and Nigeria are being thrown to the wolves.

The bank said in its year-end report that at least 15pc of US shale producers are losing money at current prices, and more than half will be under water if US crude falls below $55. The high-cost producers in the Permian basin will be the first to “feel the pain” and may soon have to cut back on production.

 

The claims pit Bank of America against its arch-rival Citigroup, which insists that the US shale industry is far more resilent than widely supposed, with marginal costs for existing rigs nearer $40, and much of its output hedged on the futures markets.

Bank of America said the current slump will choke off shale projects in Argentina and Mexico, and will force retrenchment in Canadian oil sands and some of Russia’s remote fields. The major oil companies will have to cut back on projects with a break-even cost below $80 for Brent crude.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6870

OBAMA’S SECRET TREATY WOULD BE THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP TOWARD A ONE WORLD ECONOMIC SYSTEM

Barack Obama is secretly negotiating the largest international trade agreement in history

by Michael Snyder | Economic Collapse | November 13, 2014

 

Barack Obama is secretly negotiating the largest international trade agreement in history, and the mainstream media in the United States is almost completely ignoring it.  If this treaty is adopted, it will be the most important step toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen.  The name of this treaty is “the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and the text of the treaty is so closely guarded that not even members of Congress know what is in it.  Right now, there are 12 countries that are part of the negotiations: the United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.  These nations have a combined population of 792 million people and account for an astounding 40 percent of the global economy.  And it is hoped that the EU, China and India will eventually join as well.  This is potentially the most dangerous economic treaty of our lifetimes, and yet there is very little political debate about it in this country.

Even though Congress is not being allowed to see what is in the treaty, Barack Obama wants Congress to give him fast track negotiating authority.  What that means is that Congress would essentially trust Obama to negotiate a good treaty for us.  Congress could vote the treaty up or down, but would not be able to amend or filibuster it.

Of course now the Republicans control both houses of Congress.  If they are foolish enough to blindly give Barack Obama so much power, they should all immediately resign.

And it is critical that people understand that this is not just an economic treaty.  It is basically a gigantic end run around Congress.  Thanks to leaks, we have learned that so many of the things that Obama has deeply wanted for years are in this treaty.  If adopted, this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, healthcare, copyright and patent protection, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more.  This treaty includes many of the rules that alarmed Internet activists so much when SOPA was being debated, it would essentially ban all “Buy American” laws, it would give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and it would force even more domestic manufacturing offshore.

In other words, it is the treaty from hell.

In addition to imposing Obama’s vision for the world on 40 percent of the global population, it is also being described as a “Christmas wish-list for major corporations”.  Of the 29 chapters in the treaty, only five of them actually deal with economic issues.  The rest of the treaty deals with a whole host of other issues of great importance to the global elite.

The following list of issues addressed by this treaty is from a Malaysian news source

  • domestic court decisions and international legal standards (e.g., overriding domestic laws on both trade and nontrade matters, foreign investors’ right to sue governments in international tribunals that would overrule the national sovereignty)
  • environmental regulations (e.g., nuclear energy, pollution, sustainability)
  • financial deregulation (e.g., more power and privileges to the bankers and financiers)
  • food safety (e.g., lowering food self-sufficiency, prohibition of mandatory labeling of genetically modified products, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease)
  • Government procurement (e.g., no more buy locally produced/grown)
  • Internet freedom (e.g., monitoring and policing user activity)
  • labour (e.g., welfare regulation, workplace safety, relocating domestic jobs abroad)
  • patent protection, copyrights (e.g., decrease access to affordable medicine)
  • public access to essential services may be restricted due to investment rules (e.g., water, electricity, and gas)

Why can’t we get this type of reporting in the United States?

And if this treaty is ultimately approved by Congress, we will essentially be stuck with it forever.

This treaty is written in such a way that the United States will be permanently bound by all of the provisions and will never be able to alter them unless all of the other countries agree.

Are you starting to understand why this treaty is so dangerous?

This treaty is the key to Obama’s “legacy”.  He wants to impose his will upon 40 percent of the global population in a way that will never be able to be overturned.

Of course Obama is touting this treaty as the path to economic recovery.  He promises that it will greatly increase global trade, decrease tariffs and create more jobs for American workers.

But instead, it would be a major step toward destroying what is left of the U.S. economy.

Over the past several decades, every time a major trade agreement has been signed we have seen even more good jobs leave the United States.

And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this is happening.  If corporations can move jobs to the other side of the planet to nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, they will make larger profits.

Just think about it.  If you were running a corporation and you had the choice of paying workers ten dollars an hour or one dollar an hour, which would you choose?

Plus there are so many other costs, taxes and paperwork hassles when you deal with American workers.  For example, big corporations will not have to provide Obamacare for their foreign workers.  That alone will represent a huge savings.

Any basic course in economics will teach you that labor flows from markets where labor costs are high to markets where labor costs are lower.  And at this point it costs less to make almost everything overseas.  As a result, we have already lost millions upon millions of good jobs, and countless small and mid-size U.S. companies have been forced to shut down because they cannot compete with foreign manufacturers.

Later this month, consumers will flock to retail stores for “Black Friday” deals.  But if you look carefully at those products, you will find that almost all of them are made overseas.  We buy far, far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and that is a recipe for national economic suicide.

We consume far more wealth that we produce, and anyone with half a brain can see that is not sustainable in the long run.  The only way that we have been able to maintain our high standard of living is by going into insane amounts of debt.  We are currently living in the largest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and at some point the party is going to end.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need to inform people about what Obama is trying to do.

If Obama is successful in ramming this secret treaty through, it is going to do incalculable damage to what is left of the once great U.S. economy.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6818

9 OMINOUS SIGNALS COMING FROM THE FINANCIAL MARKETS THAT WE HAVE NOT SEEN IN YEARS

Is the stock market about to crash?

 

Image Credits: Luis Villa del Campo via Wikimedia Commons

by Michael Snyder | Economic Collapse | October 15, 2014

 

Is the stock market about to crash?  Hopefully not, and there definitely have been quite a few “false alarms” over the past few years.  But without a doubt we have been living through one of the greatest financial bubbles in U.S. history, and the markets are absolutely primed for a full-blown crash.  That doesn’t mean that one will happen now, but we are starting to see some ominous things happen in the financial world that we have not seen happen in a very long time.  So many of the same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the bursting of the dotcom bubble and just prior to the 2008 financial crisis are repeating themselves again.  Hopefully we still have at least a little bit more time before stocks completely crash, because when this market does implode it is going to be a doozy.

The following are 9 ominous signals coming from the financial markets that we have not seen in years…

#1 By the time the markets closed on Monday, we had witnessed the biggest three day decline for U.S. stocks since 2011.

#2 On Monday, the S&P 500 moved below its 200 day moving average for the first time in about two years.  The last time this happened after such an extended streak of success, the S&P 500 ended up declining by a total of 22 percent.

#3 This week the put-call ratio actually moved higher than it was at any point during the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.  This is an indication that there is a tremendous amount of fear on Wall Street right now.

#4 Everybody is watching the VIX at the moment.  According to the Economic Policy Journal, the VIX has now risen to the highest level that it has been since the heart of the European debt crisis.  This is another indicator that there is extraordinary fear on Wall Street…

US stock market volatility has jumped to the highest since the eurozone debt crisis, according to a closely watched index, the the CBOE Vix index of implied US share price volatility.

It jumped to 24.6 late on Monday and is up again this morning. On Thursday, it was as low as 15.

That’s a very strong move, but things have been much worse. At height of the recent financial crisis – the Vix index peaked at 80.1 in November 2008.

Could we get there again? Yeah.

#5 The price of oil is crashing.  This also happened in 2008 just before the financial crisis erupted.  At this point, the price of oil is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years.

#6 As Chris Kimble has pointed out, the chart for the Dow has formed a “Doji Star topping pattern”.  We also saw this happen in 2007.  Could this be an indication that we are on the verge of another stock market crash similar to what happened in 2008?

#7 Canadian stocks are actually doing even worse than U.S. stocks.  At this point, Canadian stocks have already dropped more than 10 percent from the peak of the market.

#8 European stocks have also had a very rough month.  For example, German stocks have already dropped about 10 percent since July, and there are growing concerns about the overall health of the German economy.

#9 The wealthy are hoarding cash and precious metals right now.  In fact, one British news report stated that sales of gold bars to wealthy customers are up 243 percent so far this year.

So what comes next?

Some experts are saying that this is the perfect time to buy stocks at value prices.  For example, USA Today published a story with the following headline on Tuesday: “Time to ‘buy’ the fear? One Wall Street pro says yes“.

Other experts, however, believe that this could represent a major turning point for the financial markets.

Just consider what Abigail Doolittle recently told CNBC

Technical strategist Abigail Doolittle is holding tight to her prediction of market doom ahead, asserting that a recent move in Wall Street’s fear gauge is signaling the way.

Doolittle, founder of Peak Theories Research, has made headlines lately suggesting a market correction worse than anyone thinks is ahead. The long-term possibility, she has said, is a 60 percent collapsefor the S&P 500.

In early August, Doolittle was warning both of a looming “super spike” in the CBOE Volatility Index as well as a “death cross” in the 10-year Treasury note. The former referenced a sharp move higher in the “VIX,” while the latter used Wall Street lingo for an event that already occurred in which the fixed income benchmark saw its 50-day moving average cross below its 200-day trend line.

Both, she said, served as indicators for trouble ahead.

So what do you think?

Are we about to witness a stock market crash and another major financial crisis?

Or is this just another “false alarm” that will soon fade?

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6752

DUST BOWL CONDITIONS HAVE RETURNED TO KANSAS, OKLAHOMA AND NORTH TEXAS

The region is now in the midst of a devastating multi-year drought

 

Image Credits: Public domain

by Michael Snyder | Economic Collapse| May 28, 2014

 

In early 1978, a song entitled “Dust in the Wind” by a rock band known as Kansas shot up the Billboard charts. When Kerry Livgren penned those now famous lyrics, he probably never imagined that Dust Bowl conditions would return to his home state just a few short decades later. Sadly, that is precisely what is happening.

When American explorers first traveled through north Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, they referred to it as “the Great American Desert” and they doubted that anyone would ever be able to farm it. But as history has shown, when that area gets plenty of precipitation the farming is actually quite good. Unfortunately, the region is now in the midst of a devastating multi-year drought which never seems to end. Right now, 56 percent of Texas, 64 percent of Oklahoma and 80 percentof Kansas are experiencing “severe drought”, and the long range forecast for this upcoming summer is not good. In fact, some areas in the region are already drier than they were during the worst times of the 1930s. And the relentless high winds that are plaguing that area of the country are kicking up some hellacious dust storms. For example, some parts of Kansas experienced a two day dust storm last month. And Lubbock, Texas was hit be a three day dust storm last month. We are witnessing things that we have not seen since the depths of the Dust Bowl days, and unless the region starts getting a serious amount of rain, things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get any better.

Over the past two months, very high winds and bone dry conditions have made the lives of ordinary farmers in the state of Kansas extraordinarily difficult. Just check out the following excerpt from a recent article posted on Agriculture.com

The dust has settled, but for how long no one can be sure. At any moment, the winds may blow, moving the topsoil — soil that took Mother Nature generations to craft — even farther from its origin.

One farmer reckons that precious topsoil, native to his farm in Kearny County, Kansas, now sits in a field at least 200 miles away, blown there by the relentless winds of March and April 2014.

Affecting counties in western Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and eastern Colorado, it was reminiscent of what folks in the same region faced 80 years ago.

“There were several days we couldn’t see 100 yards in front of us,” says Tom Hauser, a farmer near Ulysses, Kansas. “We didn’t know where the dust was coming from. It was moving in here from somewhere else, just like it did back in the 1930s.”

When heavy winds blow day after day but there is no rain, it creates ideal conditions for dust storms. According to the same article that I just mentioned, the average wind speed in the little community of Syracuse, Kansas has been over 50 miles an hour so far this year…

Since the beginning of 2014, the average maximum daily wind speed in Syracuse, Kansas, is 50.6 miles per hour, according to the Kansas State University Weather Data Library. In that same time, Syracuse has received just 1 inch of total precipitation.

That is a recipe for disaster.

“I’ve had to chisel more ground this year than the last 20 years put together,” says Gary Millershaski, who farms near Lakin in Kearny County. Chiseling the ground roughs it up, and helps prevent soil from blowing – at least for a little while.

I couldn’t imagine living somewhere with such high winds day after day.

But this is what farmers in the High Plains have to deal with on a constant basis.

And needless to say, when things are this dry those kinds of winds can kick up some immense dust storms. In fact, a dust storm in late Aprilwas so large that it covered most of the region…

Monday’s dust storm was so large it covered most of Kansas, western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle and eastern Colorado, said weather service meteorologist Jeff Hutton in Dodge City. Tuesday’s dust cloud was more localized, only found in some parts of Kansas.

“That is what happens when you get drought, a lack of vegetation and you have wind,” Hutton said. “I mean, that is just the nature of the High Plains. And then that dirt that was lofted is eventually carried into eastern Kansas.”

When one of these dust storms strikes, you want to get indoors and stay there. It isn’t even safe to be driving. When you can’t even see five feet in front of you, the odds of getting into a fatal accident rise exponentially. Just check out what happened earlier this year near the little town of Liberal, Kansas

At least 12 vehicles were involved in an pileup accident near Liberal, Kansas.

The accident happened around 1:40 p.m., nine miles southwest of Liberal. It appears that blowing dust limited visibility so severely that it cause vehicles to not see each other until it was too late and they collided. One report states that visibility was less than five feet.

According to Chief Anthony Adams of the Tyrone Fire Department in Oklahoma, six of the vehicles involved were cars and trucks, the other six were tractor trailers.

As bad as things are in Kansas right now, the truth is that things are probably even worse down in Texas. Amarillo has had 10 dust storms so far this year, and Lubbock has already had 15 days of dust stormsin 2014…

The number of dust storms seems to rise with the length of the drought. Amarillo has had 10 this year; it had none in 2010. The city is about 10 percent drier now than the 42 months that ended April 30, 1936, and drier than the state’s record drought in the 1950s.

Lubbock already has seen 15 days with dust storms this year, the National Weather Service said.

And remember, we haven’t even gotten to the summer months yet.

As conditions get even worse in the heartland of America, it is going to end up deeply affecting all of us. The farmers and ranchers that live there provide a tremendous amount of food for the rest of the country, and food prices are already starting to rise at an alarming pace.

So what is going to happen if this drought extends for several more years or even longer?

Some experts such as paleoclimatologist Edward Cook have suggested that we could be in the midst of a “megadrought” that could last for decades or even centuries.

Many of those that were convinced that we could never see a return of the Dust Bowl days are now being forced to reevaluate their beliefs. According to the National Weather Service, parts of Kansas, Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma are already drier than they were in the 1930s. The following is an excerpt from a recent National Geographic article entitled “Parched: A New Dust Bowl Forms in the Heartland“…

Four years into a mean, hot drought that shows no sign of relenting, a new Dust Bowl is indeed engulfing the same region that was the geographic heart of the original. The undulating frontier where Kansas, Colorado, and the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma converge is as dry as toast. The National Weather Service, measuring rain over 42 months, reports that parts of all five states have had less rain than what fell during a similar period in the 1930s.

It is hard to put into words how incredibly serious this all is.

A few years ago, when I wrote articles with titles such as “20 Signs That Dust Bowl Conditions Will Soon Return To The Heartland Of America“, a lot of people laughed.

Not that many people are laughing now.

The truth is that we are now in the midst of the worst drought crisis since the days of the Great Depression.

Fortunately, over the past week or so there has been some rain in some of the hardest hit areas. Let us hope that this is a sign of better things to come.

Because if this drought does not come to an end, it is going to become much, much more expensive for Americans to feed their families.

And considering the fact that 49 million Americans are already facing food insecurity, that is a threat that should not be taken lightly.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6406

GOVERNMENT PLAN WOULD TRANSFORM ISRAEL INTO THE WORLD’S FIRST CASHLESS SOCIETY

by Michael Snyder | American Dream| May 27, 2014

Will Israel be the first cashless society on the entire planet?  A committee chaired by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff has come up with a three phase plan to “all but do away with cash transactions in Israel”.  Individuals and businesses would still be permitted to conduct cash transactions in small amounts (at least initially), but the eventual goal is to force Israeli citizens to conduct as much business as possible using electronic forms of payment.  In fact, it has been reported that Israeli officials believe that “cash is bad” because it fuels the underground economy and allows people to avoid paying taxes.  It is hoped that requiring most transactions to be conducted in cash will reduce crime and help balance the national budget.  And once 98 or 99 percent of all transactions are cashless, it will not be difficult for the Israeli government (or any other government) to go the rest of the way and ban cash transactions altogether.  But is a cashless society actually desirable?  This is a question that people all over the world will have to start asking as governments increasingly restrict the use of cash.

Back in September, it was announced that the Israeli government had formed a committee to “examine ways to eliminate cash from the Israeli economy”

The government on Tuesday authorized establishment of a committee that will examine ways to eliminate cash from the Israeli economy – the better to prevent citizens from cheating on their taxes. The committee will be chaired by Harel Locker, director of the Prime Minister’s Office.

This committee had the full backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and some of the goals of the committee included finding ways to increase tax revenue and prevent money laundering

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office declared that “around the world, it is recognized that cash is a key element of the illegal economy and money laundering. It allows a wide gap between reported and actual incomes, with the corresponding effect on tax revenues.” By eliminating cash, the PMO said, “it will be possible to expand the tax base, and prevent money laundering.” The committee will study the issue from all its perspectives and make recommendations, the PMO said.

The committee has had quite a few months to examine these issues, and now they have come back with their recommendations.  Just this week we learned that a three phase plan is being proposed…

A special committee headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Harel Locker, has recommended a three-phase plan to all but do away with cash transactions in Israel.

The motivation for examining a cash-less economy is combatting money laundering and other tax-evasion tactics, thereby maximizing potential tax collection and greatly expanding the tax base. This is important considering the enormous strain put on Israel’s national budget by the army, healthcare system and other public services.

The committee estimated that the black market represents over 20 percent of Israel’s GDP, and cash is the facilitating factor. Cash enables tax evasion, money laundering and even financing terrorism.

So what do the specifics of the plan look like?

Well, there will be very strict limits on the use of cash for individuals and businesses, any violations will be considered criminal offenses, and all Israeli banks will be required to issue debit cards to all account holders

What the committee would like to see happen, pending government approval, is greater restriction on the use of cash, limiting the use of checks as a means of payment and exchange for cash, and promotion of the use of electronic (and therefore verifiable) means of payment.

The following guidelines were set out by the committee for the short-term:

  • Limit business transactions done in cash or by check to NIS 7,500 ($2,150) immediately, and reduce that further to NIS 5,000 ($1,433) one year from the date of legislation;
  • Limit private transactions done in cash or by check to NIS 15,000 ($4,300);
  • Any violation of these limitswould be a criminal offensewarranting a stiff fine.

In conjunction with these new restrictions, Israeli banks would be required to provide all account holders with debit cards to further promote electronic payments.

But of course this move toward a cashless society is not just happening in Israel.

In Sweden, it is estimated that just 3 percent of all transactions involve cash at this point.  In fact, according to an article in the Washington Post, some Swedish banks do not handle cash at all anymore…

In most Swedish cities, public buses don’t accept cash; tickets are prepaid or purchased with a cell phone text message. A small but growing number of businesses only take cards, and some bank offices — which make money on electronic transactions — have stopped handling cash altogether.

“There are towns where it isn’t at all possible anymore to enter a bank and use cash,” complains Curt Persson, chairman of Sweden’s National Pensioners’ Organization.

And the U.S. is starting to move in that direction as well.

According to a study conducted by MasterCard, approximately 80 percent of all consumer transactions in the United States are now cashless.

But isn’t there a downside to all of this?

Just about everything that we do in life involves money.  So yes, a government can track electronic payments to make sure taxes are being paid and money laundering is not happening, but it would also enable a government to do so much more.

If a government can track all of your transactions, it will essentially be able to monitor everywhere you go and pretty much keep track of virtually everything that you do.

If you doubt this, just try to live without any money some time.

You won’t get very far without putting some gas in your vehicle.

And without being able to buy food, you will get hungry pretty quickly.

Are you starting to understand?

This is why governments love the idea of moving toward a cashless society.  It would give them an immensely powerful surveillance tool.

So let us hope that this does not happen in Israel or anywhere else in the world either.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6401

THE RECESSION IS COMING: ECONOMIST WARNS IT’S BEYOND CONTROL: “I DON’T SEE WHAT WILL SAVE IT AT THIS POINT”

by Mac Slavo | SHTF Plan| May 23, 2014

 

We are on the verge of another recession. So says Shadow Stats economist John Williams, who warns that by the end of July it will become apparent to all Americans. That’s when the government will release its latest GDP economic figures and according to Williams those numbers, combined with revisions for the first quarter of 2014, will show negative economic growth for a second quarter in a row, the official definition for recession.

In an interview with Greg Hunter’s USA Watchdog, Williams explains that it all boils down to one critical factor. Credit lending has tightened up since the crash of 2008 and without it U.S. consumers don’t have enough money to continue fueling the economy through consumption, the single most important element of economic growth.

We’re turning down anew. The first quarter should revise into negative territory… and I believe the second quarter will report negative as well.

That will all happen by July 30 when you have the annual revisions to the GDP. In reality the economy is much weaker than that. Economic growth is overstated with the GDP because they understate inflation, which is used in deflating the number…

What we’re seeing now is just… we’ve been barely stagnant and bottomed out… but we’re turning down again.

The reason for this is that the consumer is strapped… doesn’t have the liquidity to fuel the growth in consumption.

Income… the median household income, net of inflation, is as low as it was in 1967. The average guy is not staying ahead of inflation…

This has been a problem now for decades… You were able to buy consumption from the future by borrowing more money, expanding your debt. Greenspan saw the problem was income, so he encouraged debt expansion.

That all blew apart in 2007/2008… the income problems have continued, but now you don’t have the ability to borrow money the way you used to. Without that and the income problems remaining, there’s no way that consumption can grow faster than inflation if income isn’t.

As a result – personal consumption is more than two thirds of the economy – there’s no way you can have positive sustainable growth in the U.S. economy without the consumer being healthy.

It’s just not going to happen.

With nearly 50 million Americans on food stamps, a record of over 10 million receiving disability benefits, and millions more depending on unemployment insurance to pay their bills it was only a matter of time before reality caught up with the fuzzy math being used to justify a so-called recovery.

The bottom line is that we, as consumers, have no more money left to throw into the economy. We’re using most of it on food, rent, utilities, and now mandated health insurance taxes. And as Williams noted, incomes aren’t rising, so without additional credit being pumped directly into the hands of the consumer there is no possible way to keep spending money.

Where is all this headed? Williams warns that the government’s failure to address the economy and our national deficits will lead to disastrous consequences.

You are not seeing an annual deficit of $400 or $500 billion dollars. You are really seeing something close to $6 trillion.

That is beyond control, and it raises the question of long term solvency of the U.S. It is a big concern for the global markets. It’s really the reason why nobody outside the United States wants to hold the dollar. Now, look at the U.S. economy, it is turning down. Economic strength is a big factor in the value of a currency.

As the renewed downturn gains wider acceptance or wider recognition, that will intensify the selling pressure. When someone starts selling, it’s going to be a race for the door, and I am looking for a dollar selling panic to be the trigger for the onset of hyperinflation.

What we are seeing in inflation now is a pickup in inflation, but it’s not a hyperinflation. Massive dollar selling–that will be the trigger for the hyperinflation.

I don’t see what will save it at this point. . . . Now we are to the point that the dollar has been ignored for years. The federal deficit has been ignored for years. . . . That’s what we are on the brink of disaster with, and that is what has to be addressed now, and that’s not happening.

The way I see it, the dollar could go to zero in terms of its purchasing power. You don’t want to have your assets in U.S. dollars.

John Williams previously forecast that A Domestic Hyperinflationary Environment Should Evolve by 2014. Food prices, gas prices, electricity prices and the cost of most other essential commodities are rising unabated. Currently, we are seeing an annual rate of inflation for food of over 7%, a level that will lead to serious problems coming into Fall.

Now, as Williams predicted earlier this year, a recession will be apparent once the government is forced to revise their economic growth figures later this summer.

He’s two-for-two so far and he says that what we’ll begin to see next is a loss of confidence in not just the U.S. economy, but the status of the U.S. dollar as well.

Given the rampant manipulation from government and global central banks, the timing of the end game is elusive. But what we know is that nature always wins out, despite our efforts to control it.

This time around, when nature finally shows its economic fury, it could well go down as the largest collapse in the history of the world.

The time to prepare for it is now.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6389

EPIDEMIC OF HUNGER: NEW REPORT SAYS 49 MILLION AMERICANS ARE DEALING WITH FOOD INSECURITY

Michael Snyder
Economic Collapse
April 28, 2014

If the economy really is “getting better”, then why are nearly 50 million Americans dealing with food insecurity?  In 1854, Henry David Thoreau observed that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.  The same could be said of our time.  In America today, most people are quietly scratching and clawing their way from month to month.  

Nine of the top ten occupations in the U.S. pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year, but those that actually are working are better off than the millions upon millions of Americans that can’t find jobs.  The level of employment in this nation has remained fairly level since the end of the last recession, and median household income has gone down for five years in a row.  Meanwhile, our bills just keep going up and the cost of food is starting to rise at a very frightening pace.  Family budgets are being squeezed tighter and tighter, and more families are falling out of the middle classevery single day.  In fact, a new report by Feeding America (which operates the largest network of food banks in the country) says that 49 million Americans are “food insecure” at this point.  Approximately 16 million of them are children.  It is a silent epidemic of hunger that those living in the wealthy areas of the country don’t hear much about.  But it is very real.

The mainstream media and our politicians continue to insist that “things are getting better”, and that may be true for Wall Street, but the man who was in charge of the new Feeding America report says that the level of suffering for the tens of millions of Americans that are food insecure has not changed

Nothing is getting better,” said Craig Gundersen, lead researcher of the report, “Map the Meal Gap 2014,” and an expert in food insecurity and food aid programs.

Let’s stop talking about the end of the Great Recession until we can make sure that we get food insecurity rates down to a more reasonable level,” he added. “We’re still in the throes of the Great Recession, from my perspective.”

In fact, a different report seems to indicate that hunger in America is actually getting worse

Children’s HealthWatch, a network of doctors and public health researchers who collect data on children up to 4 years old, says 29% of the households they track were at risk of hunger last year, compared with 25% the year before.

If someone tries to tell you that “the economy is getting better”, that person is probably living in a wealthy neighborhood.  Because those that live in poor neighborhoods would not describe what is going around them as an “improvement”.

In particular, many minority neighborhoods are really dealing with extremely high levels of food insecurity right now.  The following comes from a recent NBC News article

“Minorities are facing serious hunger issues. Ninety-three percent of counties with a majority African-American population fall within the top 10 percent of food-insecure counties, while 60 percent of majority American Indian counties fall in that category”

But if you don’t live in one of those areas and you don’t know anyone that is facing food insecurity, it can be difficult to grasp just how much people are actually suffering out there right now.

For example, consider the story of a young mother named Tianna Gaines Turner

Tianna Gaines Turner can’t remember the last time she went to bed without worrying about how she was going to feed her three children.

She can’t remember the last time she woke up and wasn’t worried about how she and her husband would make enough in their part-time jobs to buy groceries and pay utilities on their apartment in a working-class section of Philadelphia.

And she can’t remember the last time she felt confident she and her husband wouldn’t have to skip meals so their children could eat.

Have you ever been in a position where you had to skip meals just so that other family members could have something to eat?

I haven’t, so it is hard for me to imagine having to do such a thing.  But there are millions of parents that are faced with these kinds of hard choices every day.

Things can be particularly hard if you are a single parent.  Just consider the story of Jamie Grimes

After Jaime Grimes found out in January that her monthly food stamps would be cut again, this time by $40, the single mother of four broke down into sobs — then she took action.

The former high school teacher made a plan to stretch her family’s meager food stores even further. She used oatmeal and ground beans as filler in meatloaf and tacos. She watered down juice and low-fat milk to make it last longer. And she limited herself to one meal a day so her kids — ages 3, 4, 13, and 16 — would have enough to eat.

I have such admiration for working single mothers.  Many of them work more than one job just so that they can provide for their children.  It can be absolutely frustrating to work as hard as you possibly can and still not have enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month.

Those that believe that the economy has gotten “back to normal” just need to look at the number of women that have been forced to turn to government assistance.  As I mentioned the other day, a decade ago the number of American women that had jobs outnumbered the number of American women on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of American women on food stamps actually exceedsthe number of American women that have jobs.

The truth is that we are nowhere close to where we used to be.  The last major economic downturn permanently damaged the middle class, and now the next major economic downturn is rapidly approaching.

Right now, there are nearly 50 million Americans that are facing food insecurity.  When the next economic crisis strikes, that number is going to go much higher.

There is going to be a great need for love and compassion in this country during the hard times that are coming.  Instead of just cursing the darkness, I hope that you will choose to be a light to those that desperately need it.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6341

Exactly Like 7 Years Ago? 2014 Is Turning Out To Be Eerily Similar To 2007

Michael Snyder
Economic Collapse
April 24, 2014

The similarities between 2007 and 2014 continue to pile up.  As you are about to see, U.S. home sales fell dramatically throughout 2007 even as the mainstream media, our politicians and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernankepromised us that everything was going to be just fine and that we definitely were not going to experience a recession.  Of course we remember precisely what followed. 

It was the worst economic crisis since the days of the Great Depression.  And you know what they say – if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.  Just like seven years ago, the stock market has soared to all-time high after all-time high.  Just like seven years ago, the authorities are telling us that there is nothing to worry about.  Unfortunately, just like seven years ago, a housing bubble is imploding and another great economic crisis is rapidly approaching.

Posted below is a chart of existing home sales in the United States during 2007.  As you can see, existing home sales declined precipitously throughout the year…

Now look at this chart which shows what has happened to existing home sales in the United States in recent months.  If you compare the two charts, you will see that the numbers are eerily similar…

New home sales are also following a similar pattern.  In fact, we just learned that new home sales have collapsed to an 8 month low

Sales of new single-family homes dropped sharply last month as severe winter weather and higher mortgage rates continued to slow the housing recovery.

New home sales fell 14.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 385,000, down from February’s revised pace of 449,000, the Census Bureau said.

Once again, this is so similar to what we witnessed back in 2007.  The following is a chart that shows how new home sales declined dramatically throughout that year…

And this chart shows what has happened to new homes sales during the past several months.  Sadly, we have never even gotten close to returning to the level that we were at back in 2007.  But even the modest “recovery” that we have experienced is now quickly unraveling…

If history does repeat, then what we are witnessing right now is a very troubling sign for the months to come.  As you can see from this chart, new home sales usually start going down before a recession begins.

And don’t expect these housing numbers to rebound any time soon.  The demand for mortgages has dropped through the floor.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent article by Michael Lombardi

One of the key indicators I follow in respect to the state of the housing market is mortgage originations. This data gives me an idea about demand for homes, as rising demand for mortgages means more people are buying homes. And as demand increases, prices should be increasing.

But the opposite is happening…

In the first quarter of 2014, mortgage originations at Citigroup Inc. (NYSE/C) declined 71% from the same period a year ago. The bank issued $5.2 billion in mortgages in the first quarter of 2014, compared to $8.3 billion in the previous quarter and $18.0 billion in the first quarter of 2013. (Source: Citigroup Inc. web site, last accessed April 14, 2014.)

Total mortgage origination volume at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE/JPM) declined by 68% in the first quarter of 2014 from the same period a year ago. At JPMorgan, in the first quarter of 2014, $17.0 billion worth of mortgages were issued, compared to $52.7 billion in the same period a year ago. (Source: JPMorgan Chase & Co. web site, last accessed April 14, 2014.)

It is almost as if we are watching a replay of 2007 all over again, and yet nobody is talking about this.

Everyone wants to believe that this time will be different.

The human capacity for self-delusion is absolutely amazing.

There are a lot of other similarities between 2007 and today as well.

Just the other day, I noted that retail stores are closing in the United States at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Back in 2007, we saw margin debt on Wall Street spike dramatically and help fuel a remarkable run in the stock market.  Just check out the chart in this article.  But that spike in margin debt also made the eventual stock market collapse much worse than it had to be.

And just like 2007, consumer credit is totally out of control.  As I noted in one recent article, during the fourth quarter of 2013 we witnessed the biggest increase in consumer debt in the U.S. that we have seen since 2007.  Total consumer credit in the U.S. has risen by 22 percent over the past three years, and 56 percent of all Americans have “subprime credit” at this point.

Are you starting to get the picture?  It is only 7 years later, and the same things that happened just prior to the last great financial crisis are happening again.  Only this time we are in much worse shape to handle an economic meltdown.  The following is a brief excerpt from my recent article entitled “We Are In FAR Worse Shape Than We Were Just Prior To The Last Great Financial Crisis“…

None of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.  In fact, they have all gotten worse.  The total amount of debt in the world has grown by more than 40 percent since 2007, the too big to fail banks have gotten 37 percent larger, and the colossal derivatives bubble has spiraled so far out of control that the only thing left to do is to watch the spectacular crash landing that is inevitably coming.

You can read the rest of that article right here.

For a long time, I have been convinced that this two year time period is going to represent a major “turning point” for America.

Right now, 2014 is turning out to be eerily similar to 2007.

Will 2015 turn out to be a repeat of 2008?

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6330

Saudi Arabia Prepares to Build the World’s Tallest Building

Echos of the Tower of Babel? The Kingdom Tower in Jeddah will be 1km tall, dwarfing the current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which sits at roughly 800 meters. Jeddah sits roughly 54 miles or 88 kilometers from Mecca.

Interestingly, some Muslims see all of this as a sign of the end times, as there is a hadith which upon answering the question: “What is the sign of the hour of Qiyamah (end times) ” Muhammad allegedly said: “You will see (formerly) barefoot, naked Bedouins competing in the construction of tall buildings.” (Sahih Muslim)

buildings

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6325

What Will You Do When You Can No Longer Buy Or Sell Without Submitting To Biometric Identification?

Michael Snyder The Truth April 18, 2014

In some areas of the world, payment systems that require palm scanning or face scanning are already being tested.  We have entered an era where biometric security is being hailed as the “solution” to the antiquated security methods of the past.

We are being promised that the constant problems that hackers are causing with our credit cards, bank accounts, ATM machines and Internet passwords will all go away once we switch over to biometric identification.  And without a doubt, we have some massive security problems that need to be addressed.  But do you really want a machine to read your face or your hand before you are able to buy anything, sell anything or log on to the Internet?  Do you really want “the system” to be able to know where you are, what you are buying and what you are doing at virtually all times?  Biometric security systems are being promoted as “cool” and “cutting edge”, but there is also potentially a very dark side to them that should not be ignored.

In this day and age, identity theft has become a giant problem.  Being able to confirm that you are who you say that you are is a very big deal.  To many, biometric security presents a very attractive solution to this problem.  For example, the following is a brief excerpt from a recent Fox News article entitled “Biometric security can’t come soon enough for some people“…

In a world where nearly every ATM now uses an operating system without any technical support, where a bug can force every user of the Internet to change the password to every account they’ve ever owned overnight, where cyber-attacks and identity theft grow more menacing every day, the ability to use your voice, your finger, your face or some combination of the three to log into your e-mail, your social media feed or your checking account allows you to ensure it’s very difficult for someone else to pretend they’re you.

Almost everyone would like to make their identities more secure.  Nobody actually wants their bank accounts compromised or their Internet passwords stolen.  But there is a price to be paid for adopting biometric identification.  Your face or your hand will be used to continually monitor and track everything that you do and everywhere that you go.  Here is some more from that Fox News article…

Friday, we made Ryan King the most verified man in Brooklyn.

“Verified,” a fingerprint-recognition device chirped back at Ryan after he placed his finger on the reader.

“Verified,” a facial-recognition device said to Ryan after scanning his face.

Ryan works at the American headquarters for FingerTec, a Malaysian company replacing PINs, usernames, and typed passwords with fingers and faces we don’t need to memorize.

“You can’t copy someone’s fingerprint unless you chop it off,” Ryan said, “which wouldn’t work because it has to be attached to a hand.”

For now, biometric security is not being forced on people.  If you want to avoid it, you can.

But eventually, once it has been adopted on a widespread basis, banks and government agencies will start requiring it.

And it is easy to imagine a day when none of us will any longer be able to buy or sell anything without submitting to biometric identification.  In fact, an “alternative payment method” involving hand scanning is already being tested in southern Sweden

Hand scanning has become an alternative payment method for people in a city in southern Sweden, researchers at Lund University said Monday.

Vein scanning terminals have been installed in 15 shops and restaurants in Lund thanks to an engineering student who came up with the idea two years ago while waiting in line to pay.

Some 1,600 people have signed up already for the system, which its creator says is not only faster but also safer than traditional payment methods.

“Every individual’s vein pattern is completely unique, so there really is no way of committing fraud with this system,” researcher Fredrik Leifland said in a statement.

“You always need your hand scanned for a payment to go through.”

But before biometric identification is widely used for payment systems, we will probably see it implemented in a whole bunch of other ways first.  For instance, biometric scanners are already being used in dining halls on college campuses all across America

Hand geometry readers have been fairly common on campus for years but more recent deployments are leveraging fingerprint and even iris biometrics to link students with transactions. Physical access is the hallmark biometric application but the technology has been gaining popularity in food service and other sectors to expedite transactions.

The social stigma attached to biometrics is also being lifted, as students are becoming more comfortable with the technology, says Brian Adoff, executive vice president at NuVision. The inclusion of a fingerprint scanner on the latest iPhone is just one indication that the younger generation is comfortable with biometrics.

“Administrators have a greater fear of the technology than students,” says Bob Lemley, director of software development at the CBORD Group. “Students are growing up with the technology so they don’t think about it as much as the older generations.”

Georgia Southern University can attest to that fact. The school deployed iris biometrics at its dining hall and only two students out of 5,400 refused to enroll, says Richard Wynn, director of the university’s Eagle Card Program.

Young people tend to be less alarmed by this technology, and so that is where it is being pushed.  If you can believe it, biometric scanners are even going to be used at Six Flags amusement park this summer…

A new scanning system at Six Flags sounds like it’s from the future, but the biometric scanner aims to make faster entrances for season pass holders.

When guests arrive at the front gate for the first time of the season, they will present their voucher and a scanner processes an image of their fingerprint, assigning a unique set of numbers that are used to validate the pass holder’s card each visit.

The first visit should take only about 20 seconds to set up the card, as opposed to the additional time of taking a photo and getting it printed on the card, according to spokeswoman Elizabeth Gotway.

This kind of reminds me of the new “MagicBands” at Disney parks that I have written about previously.  You have probably seen the television commercials featuring them by now.  Disney seems to think that parents and kids will have no problems wearing RFID tracking devices that allow them to buy stuff and monitor wherever they go.  If you want to see what Disney has to say about these “MagicBands”, you can do so right here.

Our world is becoming stranger with each passing day.

Incredibly, biometric identification is even being used in Africa to keep track of who is being vaccinated…

In fact, some biometric solutions are helping solve vaccine delivery issues in Africa which has been hampered by ineffective tracking and reporting. Today, a biometric vaccination registry helps to ensure that millions of young children receive the vaccine that is needed to save their lives. And by knowing “who” has been vaccinated, these precious life-saving drugs are not wasted by over-vaccinating some and missing others entirely.

This technology is going to keep spreading, and it is going to become harder and harder to avoid it.

And it is easy to imagine what a tyrannical government could do with this kind of technology.  If it wanted to, it could use it to literally track the movements and behavior of everyone.

We are already starting to see the establishment of massive biometric databases.  One of these is the FBI’s facial recognition database that is a part of their “Next Generation Identification” program.  It is being projected that the FBI will have compiled 52 million of our “face images” by the year 2015.  Given enough time, eventually I am sure that they would have all of our faces in their computers.

And one day, this kind of technology will likely be so pervasive that you won’t be able to open a bank account, get a credit card or even buy anything without having either your hand or your face scanned first.

When that day arrives, what will you do?

That is something to think about.

crash

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6312