If This Keeps Up, They Will Have To Start Putting Armed Guards On Food Trucks

The Economic Collapse
by Michael Snyder

Food Truck - Public DomainThe basic necessities in life just keep getting more expensive.  On Tuesday, Hershey announced that the price of all of their chocolate bars is going to go up by about 8 percent.  That is particularly distressing to me, because I am known to love chocolate.  But if it was just chocolate that was becoming significantly more expensive perhaps that would be okay.  Last month, it was coffee.  J.M. Smucker, one of the largest coffee producers in the United States, announced that it planned to raise coffee prices by about 9 percent.  And Starbucks has announced a bunch of price increases across the board on their coffee products.  Of course we could all survive without chocolate and coffee, but as you will see below just about every food category is becoming more expensive.  If this keeps up, could we eventually see armed guards in grocery stores and on food trucks?

On Wednesday, Robert Wenzel of the Economic Policy Journal shared some new data that has just been released by the federal government about food inflation over the past year.  Without a doubt, these numbers are quite startling…

According to the latest data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, year-over-year gains in some food products at the producer level have been truly spectacular.

Eggs for fresh use are up 33.9%.

Pork is up 28%.

Processed turkeys are up 20.4%.

Dairy products are up 10.7%.

Fresh and dry vegetables are up 8.4%.

Fresh fruits and melons are up 7.5%.

Unfortunately, paychecks for most American families are not going up at similar rates.

What that means is more pain when we make our trips to the grocery store.  Things have gotten so bad that even the mainstream media is running stories about this.  For example, this excerpt comes from a recent CNBC article

“I try to do all my local errands in one day and go up to the mall,” said Helon Rapfogel of New Jersey. “I used to go maybe twice or three times a week, and now I just go one day a week, if that much. And I try to consolidate things.”

Rapfogel said that higher costs for food and gas are hitting her overall budget.

“You sacrifice things. Like not doing an ice cream run during the week with the kids. [That could] hurt the local retailers, and we don’t want to do that … but we may have to,” she said.

At the grocery store, meat, dairy and fruit prices are all up substantially. People are even paying more for lattes at their local coffee shops. And it’s not just food—gas prices have jumped sharply on geopolitical unrest, and at the moment there’s no relief in sight.

So why is all of this happening?

Well, the truth is that a lot of factors have combined to produce something of a perfect storm.

First of all, we should talk about Federal Reserve money printing.  Since the last financial crisis, the Fed has been on an unprecedented money printing spree.  This has dramatically pushed up the prices of stocks, commodities and just about everything else.  It was naive to think that we wouldn’t eventually see substantial food inflation as well.  Just look at what “quantitative easing” has done to M1 since the last recession…

M1 Money Supply 2014

When you have more dollars chasing roughly the same amount of goods and services of course prices are going to go up.

It is just basic economics.

But according to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, there is absolutely no reason to be concerned.  The following is a video of her telling the press her view on inflation that I shared in a previous article

But crazy Fed money printing is not the only reason why food prices are going up.

The endless drought in the western half of the country is severely hurting food production as well.  The size of the U.S. cattle herd has shrunk for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that it has been since 1951.  And the drought is hitting the state of California particularly hard, and considering the fact that it produces nearly half of all of our fresh produce that is more than a little bit alarming.  Yes, we are more technologically advanced that we used to be, but we are not advanced enough to overcome an epic multi-year drought in half the nation.

In addition, we are also dealing with the worst pork virus to ever hit the United States right now.  Porcine epidemic diarrhea has already wiped out about 10 percent of the pig population in the U.S., and approximately 100,000 more are dying each week.  As you saw above, pork prices are already up 28 percent over the past 12 months, and if a solution is not found to this virus the price increases are going to get much worse.

Down in Florida, citrus growers are facing a horrific outbreak of citrus greening disease.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that orange production in the U.S. will be down 18 percent compared to last year, and it is expected that this will be the worst crop in close to 30 years.

Another plague known as the TR4 fungus has hit banana production.  According to CNBC, this horrible fungus may eventually completely wipe out the variety of bananas that we eat today…

Banana lovers take note: The world’s supply of the fruit is under attack from a fungus strain that could wipe out the popular variety that Americans eat.

“It’s a very serious situation,” said Randy Ploetz, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Florida who in 1989 originally discovered a strain of Panama disease, called TR4, that may be growing into a serious threat to U.S. supplies of the fruit and Latin American producers.

“There’s nothing at this point that really keeps the fungus from spreading,” he said in an interview with CNBC.

While there are nearly 1,000 varieties of bananas, the most popular is the Cavendish, which accounts for 45 percent of the fruit’s global crop—and the one Americans mostly find in their supermarkets.

For decades, Americans have been able to go to the grocery stores and fill up their carts with massive amounts of very inexpensive food.

But just because it has been that way for so many years does not mean that it will be that way in the future.

Right now, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity, and that number will only get worse as food prices go even higher.

It is getting to the point where it is not too hard to imagine desperate people holding up food trucks and robbing grocery stores in order to feed themselves and their families.

Let us hope that we don’t see anything like that any time soon, but we are moving in that direction.

Just a few years ago, the notion that we could ever see armed guards on food trucks or in grocery stores in the United States was absolutely unthinkable.

But now, it is not so crazy.

The Economic Collapse

Is The Fed Going To Attempt A Controlled Collapse?

NotQuant

As most Fed watchers know, last week was interesting because Janet Yellen, speaking at IMF came out and said something quite surprising.  In a nutshell, she said “It’s not the Fed’s job to pop bubbles”.   While many market participants immediately took this to mean, “To the moon, Alice!” and started buying equities hand over fist, there’s another possible explanation for Mrs. Yellen’s proclamation of unwillingness:  The Fed could be preparing to do exactly what it said it wouldn’t.

Here’s a quick re-cap of events:  In the recently released Annual Report of the BIS: Bank for International Settlements  (commonly thought of as the “central bank’s central bank”) the BIS made a rather ominous recommendation to it’s member banks: Pop this bubble now.   Their specific language wasn’t quite so direct, but the message was just as clear.

The risk of normalising too late and too gradually should not be underestimated… The trade-off is now between the risk of bringing forward the downward leg of the cycle and that of suffering a bigger bust later on .

 

Few are ready to curb financial booms that make everyone feel illusively richer. Or to hold back on quick fixes for output slowdowns, even if such measures threaten to add fuel to unsustainable financial booms,” …

 

“The road ahead may be a long one. All the more reason, then, to start the journey sooner rather than later.

As we noted last week, there are a couple of fascinating things to note about this recommendation.   First, for anyone who thinks that the concept of intentionally crashing the stock market is the stuff of conspiracy theorists, that notion is now dead and buried. It’s extremely clear from the BIS’ language, that the concept of initiating a collapse is openly discussed as a policy measure.   This was a direct recommendation to bring on the crash – or as they say so colorfully, to “bring forward the downward leg of the cycle”.

More kabuki?

More kabuki?

But what else is fascinating is that just days after the BIS report was released, Janet Yellen seemed to counter the BIS in her presentation to the IMF:

“At this point, it should be clear that I think efforts to build resilience in the financial system are critical to minimizing the chance of financial instability and the potential damage from it. This focus on resilience differs from much of the public discussion, which often concerns whether some particular asset class is experiencing a ‘bubble’ and whether policymakers should attempt to pop the bubble. Because a resilient financial system can withstand unexpected developments, identification of bubbles is less critical.”

What Yellen seemed to be saying — quite possibly in direct response to the BIS’s recommendations —  is that the Fed isn’t in the business of popping bubbles, nor does it see a reason to intervene in their development.

So to summarize:  The BIS publicly recommended popping the bubble now… and Yellen said no.

So what’s going on?

We could take all of this at face value if we chose:  The BIS playing hawk, and the Fed playing dove.  And that might well be the case — as to some extent Yellen is still something of an unknown entity.

But there is one more twist to the puzzle:  Yellen has openly stated that she would not be offering clear guidance to the market as her predecessor had advocated.  The age of Fed-glastnost is apparently coming to an end.

So indulge us for a moment as we present another possibility:

Yellen is going to orchestrate a controlled collapse.  Or, at least one which we hope is controlled.

There are political considerations to be made, however:  The Fed, which has not only come under intense fire for overt market manipulation, but which is also deeply concerned with market perception, simply cannot afford to be perceived as an instrument of the market’s collapse.   To be seen as the instigator of a crash could do irreparable harm to the institution.

Pop bubbles?  Who us?

Pop bubbles? Who us?

So just maybe the Fed fully intends on heeding the advice of the BIS, and is strategically positioning itself as a stalwart dove to shield itself from the public fallout of it’s orchestrated financial calamity.   A particularly sound play from a political perspective in the event that things don’t go as smoothly as planned.

One thing is certain at this point:  An intentionally orchestrated crash is the direct recommendation of the BIS, per it’s annual report.   That this action exists as a potential policy measure is now confirmed.

The remaining question is: Would the Federal Reserve pursue such a policy measure openly, or behind the same curtains from which most of their historic policies were enacted.

As we re-think Mrs. Yellen’s speech to the IMF, we are less certain that the Fed is as unwilling to intervene as Mrs Yellen would have us believe.   Bringing forward the next leg of the cycle, may well be on the Fed’s agenda.

NotQuant

The Federal Reserve Seems Quite Serious About Tapering – So What Comes Next?

The Economic Collapse Blog
by Michael Snyder

DollarsWill this be the year when the Fed’s quantitative easing program finally ends?  For a long time, many analysts were proclaiming that the Fed would never taper.  But then it started happening.  Then a lot of them started talking about how “the untaper” was right around the corner.  That hasn’t happened either.  It looks like that under Janet Yellen the Fed is quite determined to bring the quantitative easing program to a close by the end of this year.  Up until now, the financial markets have been slow to react because there has been a belief that the Fed would reverse course on tapering the moment that the U.S. economy started to slow down again.  But even though the U.S. middle class is in horrible shape, and even though there are lots of signs that we are heading into another recession, the Fed has continued tapering.

Of course it is important to note that the Fed is still absolutely flooding the financial system with money even after the announcement of more tapering on Wednesday.  When you are talking about $55,000,000,000 a month, you are talking about a massive amount of money.  So the Fed is not exactly being hawkish.

But when Yellen told the press that quantitative easing could end completely this fall and that the Fed could actually start raising interest rates about six months after that, it really spooked the markets.

The Dow was down 114 points on Wednesday, and the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries shot up to 2.77%.  The following is how CNBC described the reaction of the markets on Wednesday…

Despite a seemingly dovish tone, markets recoiled at remarks from Yellen, who said interest rate increases likely would start six months after the monthly bond-buying program ends. If the program winds down in the fall, that would put a rate hike in the spring of 2015, earlier than market expectations for the second half of the year.

Stocks tumbled as Yellen spoke at her initial post-meeting news conference, with the Dow industrials at one point sliding more than 200 points before shaving those losses nearly in half. Short-term interest rates rose appreciably, with the five-year note moving up 0.135 percentage points. The seven-year note tumbled more than one point in price.

But this is just the beginning.  When it finally starts sinking in, and investors finally start realizing that the Fed is 100% serious about ending the flow of easy money, that is when things will start getting really interesting.

Can the financial markets stand on their own without massive Fed intervention?

We shall see.  Even now there are lots of signs that a market crash could be coming up in the not too distant future.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “Is ‘Dr. Copper’ Foreshadowing A Stock Market Crash Just Like It Did In 2008?

And what is going to happen to the market for U.S. Treasuries once the Fed stops gobbling them up?

Where is the demand going to come from?

In recent months, foreign demand for U.S. debt has really started to dry up.  Considering recent developments in Ukraine, it is quite certain that Russia will not be accumulating any more U.S. debt, and China has announced that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves” and China actually dumped about 50 billion dollars of U.S. debt during the month of December alone.

Collectively, Russia and China account for about a quarter of all foreign-owned U.S. debt.  If you take them out of the equation, foreign demand for U.S. debt is not nearly as strong.

Will domestic sources be enough to pick up the slack?  Or will we see rates really start to rise once the Fed steps to the sidelines?

And of course rates on U.S. government debt should actually be much higher than they are right now.  It simply does not make sense to loan the U.S. government massive amounts of money at interest rates that are far below the real rate of inflation.

If free market forces are allowed to prevail, it is inevitable that interest rates on U.S. debt will go up substantially, and that will mean higher interest rates on mortgages, cars, and just about everything else.

Of course the central planners at the Federal Reserve could choose to reverse course at any time and start pumping again.  This is the kind of thing that can happen when you don’t have a true free market system.

The truth is that the Federal Reserve is at the very heart of the economic and financial problems of this country.  When the Fed intervenes and purposely distorts the operation of free markets, the Fed creates economic and financial bubbles which inevitably burst later on.  We saw this happen during the great financial crisis of 2008, and now it is happening again.

This is what happens when you allow an unelected, unaccountable group of central planners to have far more power over our economy than anyone else in our society does.

Most people don’t realize this, but the greatest period of economic growth in all of U.S. history was when there was no central bank.

We don’t need a Federal Reserve.  In fact, the performance of the Federal Reserve has been absolutely disastrous.

Since the Fed was created just over 100 years ago, the U.S. dollar has lost more than 96 percent of its value, and the size of the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.  The Fed is at the very center of a debt-based financial system that has trapped us, our children and our grandchildren in an endless spiral of debt slavery.

And now we are on the verge of the greatest financial crisis that the United States has ever seen.  The economic and financial storm that is about to unfold is ultimately going to be even worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Things did not have to turn out this way.

Congress could have shut down the Federal Reserve long ago.

But our “leaders” never seriously considered doing such a thing, and the mainstream media kept telling all of us how much we desperately needed central planners to run our financial system.

Well, now those central planners have brought us to the brink of utter ruin, and yet only a small minority of Americans are calling for change.

Soon, we will all get to pay a great price for this foolishness.  A great financial storm is fast approaching, and it is going to be exceedingly painful.

The Economic Collapse Blog

On The 100th Anniversary Of The Federal Reserve Here Are 100 Reasons To Shut It Down Forever

The Economic Collapse Blog
by Michael Snyder

The Federal ReserveDecember 23rd, 1913 is a date which will live in infamy.  That was the day when the Federal Reserve Act was pushed through Congress.  Many members of Congress were absent that day, and the general public was distracted with holiday preparations.  Now we have reached the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve, and most Americans still don’t know what it actually is or how it functions.  But understanding the Federal Reserve is absolutely critical, because the Fed is at the very heart of our economic problems.  Since the Federal Reserve was created, there have been 18 recessions or depressions, the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by 98 percent, and the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.  This insidious debt-based financial system has literally made debt slaves out of all of us, and it is systematically destroying the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.  If nothing is done, we are inevitably heading for a massive amount of economic pain as a nation.  So please share this article with as many people as you can.  The following are 100 reasons why the Federal Reserve should be shut down forever…

#1 We like to think that we have a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”, but the truth is that an unelected, unaccountable group of central planners has far more power over our economy than anyone else in our society does.

#2 The Federal Reserve is actually “independent” of the government.  In fact, the Federal Reserve has argued vehemently in federal court that it is “not an agency” of the federal government and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

#3 The Federal Reserve openly admits that the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are organized “much like private corporations“.

#4 The regional Federal Reserve banks issue shares of stock to the “member banks” that own them.

#5 100% of the shareholders of the Federal Reserve are private banks.  The U.S. government owns zero shares.

#6 The Federal Reserve is not an agency of the federal government, but it has been given power to regulate our banks and financial institutions.  This should not be happening.

#7 According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress is the one that is supposed to have the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.  So why is the Federal Reserve doing it?

#8 If you look at a “U.S. dollar”, it actually says “Federal Reserve note” at the top.  In the financial world, a “note” is an instrument of debt.

#9 In 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11110 which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue “United States notes” which were created by the U.S. government directly and not by the Federal Reserve.  He was assassinated shortly thereafter.

#10 Many of the debt-free United States notes issued under President Kennedy are still in circulation today.

#11 The Federal Reserve determines what levels some of the most important interest rates in our system are going to be set at.  In a free market system, the free market would determine those interest rates.

#12 The Federal Reserve has become so powerful that it is now known as “the fourth branch of government“.

#13 The greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was when there was no central bank.

#14 The Federal Reserve was designed to be a perpetual debt machine.  The bankers that designed it intended to trap the U.S. government in a perpetual debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape.  Since the Federal Reserve was established 100 years ago, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

#15 A permanent federal income tax was established the exact same year that the Federal Reserve was created.  This was not a coincidence.  In order to pay for all of the government debt that the Federal Reserve would create, a federal income tax was necessary.  The whole idea was to transfer wealth from our pockets to the federal government and from the federal government to the bankers.

#16 The period prior to 1913 (when there was no income tax) was the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history.

#17 Today, the U.S. tax code is about 13 miles long.

#18 From the time that the Federal Reserve was created until now, the U.S. dollar has lost 98 percent of its value.

#19 From the time that President Nixon took us off the gold standard until now, the U.S. dollar has lost 83 percent of its value.

#20 During the 100 years before the Federal Reserve was created, the U.S. economy rarely had any problems with inflation.  But since the Federal Reserve was established, the U.S. economy has experienced constant and never ending inflation.

#21 In the century before the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation was about half a percent.  In the century since the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation has been about 3.5 percent.

#22 The Federal Reserve has stripped the middle class of trillions of dollars of wealth through the hidden tax of inflation.

#23 The size of M1 has nearly doubled since 2008 thanks to the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing.

#24 The Federal Reserve has been starting to behave like the Weimar Republic, and we all remember how that ended.

#25 The Federal Reserve has been consistently lying to us about the level of inflation in our economy.  If the inflation rate was still calculated the same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.

#26 Since the Federal Reserve was created, there have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions: 1918, 1920, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008.

#27 Within 20 years of the creation of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. economy was plunged into the Great Depression.

#28 The Federal Reserve created the conditions that caused the stock market crash of 1929, and even Ben Bernanke admits that the response by the Fed to that crisis made the Great Depression even worse than it should have been.

#29 The “easy money” policies of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan set the stage for the great financial crisis of 2008.

#30 Without the Federal Reserve, the “subprime mortgage meltdown” would probably never have happened.

#31 If you can believe it, there have been 10 different economic recessions since 1950.  The Federal Reserve created the “dotcom bubble”, the Federal Reserve created the “housing bubble” and now it has created the largest bond bubble in the history of the planet.

#32 According to an official government report, the Federal Reserve made 16.1 trillion dollars in secret loans to the big banks during the last financial crisis.  The following is a list of loan recipients that was taken directly from page 131 of the report…

Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC – $868 billion
Bear Sterns – $853 billion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Deutsche Bank – $354 billion
UBS – $287 billion
Credit Suisse – $262 billion
Lehman Brothers – $183 billion
Bank of Scotland – $181 billion
BNP Paribas – $175 billion
Wells Fargo – $159 billion
Dexia – $159 billion
Wachovia – $142 billion
Dresdner Bank – $135 billion
Societe Generale – $124 billion
“All Other Borrowers” – $2.639 trillion

#33 The Federal Reserve also paid those big banks $659.4 million in “fees” to help “administer” those secret loans.

#34 During the last financial crisis, big European banks were allowed to borrow an “unlimited” amount of money from the Federal Reserve at ultra-low interest rates.

#35 The “easy money” policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have created the largest financial bubble this nation has ever seen, and this has set the stage for the great financial crisis that we are rapidly approaching.

#36 Since late 2008, the size of the Federal Reserve balance sheet has grown from less than a trillion dollars to more than 4 trillion dollars.  This is complete and utter insanity.

#37 During the quantitative easing era, the value of the financial securities that the Fed has accumulated is greater than the total amount of publicly held debt that the U.S. government accumulated from the presidency of George Washington through the end of the presidency of Bill Clinton.

#38 Overall, the Federal Reserve now holds more than 32 percent of all 10 year equivalents, and that percentage is rising by about 0.3 percent each week.

#39 Quantitative easing creates financial bubbles, and when quantitative easing ends those bubbles tend to deflate rapidly.

#40 Most of the new money created by quantitative easing has ended up in the hands of the very wealthy.

#41 According to a prominent Federal Reserve insider, quantitative easing has been one giant “subsidy” for Wall Street banks.

#42 As one CNBC article recently stated, we are seeing absolutely rampant inflation in “stocks and bonds and art and Ferraris“.

#43 Donald Trump once made the following statement about quantitative easing: “People like me will benefit from this.

#44 Most people have never heard about this, but a very interesting study conducted for the Bank of England shows that quantitative easing actually increases the gap between the wealthy and the poor.

#45 The gap between the top one percent and the rest of the country is now the greatest that it has been since the 1920s.

#46 The mainstream media has sold quantitative easing to the American public as an “economic stimulus program”, but the truth is that the percentage of Americans that have a job has actually gone down since quantitative easing first began.

#47 The Federal Reserve is supposed to be able to guide the nation toward “full employment”, but the reality of the matter is that an all-time record 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now.  That number has risen by about 27 million since the year 2000.

#48 For years, the projections of economic growth by the Federal Reserve have consistently overstated the strength of the U.S. economy.  But every single time, the mainstream media continues to report that these numbers are “reliable” even though all they actually represent is wishful thinking.

#49 The Federal Reserve system fuels the growth of government, and the growth of government fuels the growth of the Federal Reserve system.  Since 1970, federal spending has grown nearly 12 times as rapidly as median household income has.

#50 The Federal Reserve is supposed to look out for the health of all U.S. banks, but the truth is that they only seem to be concerned about the big ones.  In 1985, there were more than 18,000 banks in the United States.  Today, there are only 6,891 left.

#51 The six largest banks in the United States (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) have collectively gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years.

#52 The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets.  The six largest banks now account for 67 percent of those assets and all of the other banks account for only 33 percent of those assets.

#53 The five largest banks now account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States.

#54 We were told that the purpose of quantitative easing is to help “stimulate the economy”, but today the Federal Reserve is actually paying the big banks not to lend out 1.8 trillion dollars in “excess reserves” that they have parked at the Fed.

#55 The Federal Reserve has allowed an absolutely gigantic derivatives bubble to inflate which could destroy our financial system at any moment.  Right now, four of the “too big to fail” banks each have total exposure to derivatives that is well in excess of 40 trillion dollars.

#56 The total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 381 times greater than their total assets.

#57 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has a track record of failure that would make the Chicago Cubs look good.

#58 The secret November 1910 gathering at Jekyll Island, Georgia during which the plan for the Federal Reserve was hatched was attended by U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department A.P. Andrews and a whole host of representatives from the upper crust of the Wall Street banking establishment.

#59 The Federal Reserve was created by the big Wall Street banks and for the benefit of the big Wall Street banks.

#60 In 1913, Congress was promised that if the Federal Reserve Act was passed that it would eliminate the business cycle.

#61 There has never been a true comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve since it was created back in 1913.

#62 The Federal Reserve system has been described as “the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world“.

#63 The following comes directly from the Fed’s official mission statement: “To provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system.”  Without a doubt, the Federal Reserve has failed in those tasks dramatically.

#64 The Fed decides what the target rate of inflation should be, what the target rate of unemployment should be and what the size of the money supply is going to be.  This is quite similar to the “central planning” that goes on in communist nations, but very few people in our government seem upset by this.

#65 A couple of years ago, Federal Reserve officials walked into one bank in Oklahoma and demanded that they take down all the Bible verses and all the Christmas buttons that the bank had been displaying.

#66 The Federal Reserve has taken some other very frightening steps in recent years.  For example, back in 2011 the Federal Reserve announced plans to identify “key bloggers” and to monitor “billions of conversations” about the Fed on Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs.  Someone at the Fed will almost certainly end up reading this article.

#67 Thanks to this endless debt spiral that we are trapped in, a massive amount of money is transferred out of our pockets and into the pockets of the ultra-wealthy each year.  Incredibly, the U.S. government spent more than 415 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt in 2013.

#68 In September, the average rate of interest on the government’s marketable debt was 1.981 percent.  In January 2000, the average rate of interest on the government’s marketable debt was 6.620 percent.  If we got back to that level today, we would be paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt and it would collapse our entire financial system.

#69 The American people are being killed by compound interest but most of them don’t even understand what it is.  Albert Einstein once made the following statement about compound interest…

Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”

#70 Most Americans have absolutely no idea where money comes from.  The truth is that the Federal Reserve just creates it out of thin air.  The following is how I have previously described how money is normally created by the Fed in our system…

When the U.S. government decides that it wants to spend another billion dollars that it does not have, it does not print up a billion dollars.

Rather, the U.S. government creates a bunch of U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) and takes them over to the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve creates a billion dollars out of thin air and exchanges them for the U.S. Treasury bonds.

#71 What does the Federal Reserve do with those U.S. Treasury bonds?  They end up getting auctioned off to the highest bidder.  But this entire process actually creates more debt than it does money…

The U.S. Treasury bonds that the Federal Reserve receives in exchange for the money it has created out of nothing are auctioned off through the Federal Reserve system.

But wait.

There is a problem.

Because the U.S. government must pay interest on the Treasury bonds, the amount of debt that has been created by this transaction is greater than the amount of money that has been created.

So where will the U.S. government get the money to pay that debt?

Well, the theory is that we can get money to circulate through the economy really, really fast and tax it at a high enough rate that the government will be able to collect enough taxes to pay the debt.

But that never actually happens, does it?

And the creators of the Federal Reserve understood this as well.  They understood that the U.S. government would not have enough money to both run the government and service the national debt.  They knew that the U.S. government would have to keep borrowing even more money in an attempt to keep up with the game.

#72 Of course the U.S. government could actually create money and spend it directly into the economy without the Federal Reserve being involved at all.  But then we wouldn’t be 17 trillion dollars in debt and that wouldn’t serve the interests of the bankers at all.

#73 The following is what Thomas Edison once had to say about our absolutely insane debt-based financial system…

That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt.

Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.

But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good.

#74 The United States now has the largest national debt in the history of the world, and we are stealing more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day in a desperate attempt to keep the debt spiral going.

#75 Thomas Jefferson once stated that if he could add just one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be a ban on all government borrowing….

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

#76 At this moment, the U.S. national debt is sitting at $17,251,528,475,994.19.  If we had followed the advice of Thomas Jefferson, it would be sitting at zero.

#77 When the Federal Reserve was first established, the U.S. national debt was sitting at about 2.9 billion dollars.  On average, we have been adding more than that to the national debt every single day since Obama has been in the White House.

#78 We are on pace to accumulate more new debt under the 8 years of the Obama administration than we did under all of the other presidents in all of U.S. history combined.

#79 If all of the new debt that has been accumulated since John Boehner became Speaker of the House had been given directly to the American people instead, every household in America would have been able to buy a new truck.

#80 Between 2008 and 2012, U.S. government debt grew by 60.7 percent, but U.S. GDP only grew by a total of about 8.5 percent during that entire time period.

#81 Since 2007, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio has increased from 66.6 percent to 101.6 percent.

#82 According to the U.S. Treasury, foreigners hold approximately 5.6 trillion dollars of our debt.

#83 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.

#84 As I have written about previously, if the U.S. national debt was reduced to a stack of one dollar bills it would circle the earth at the equator 45 times.

#85 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.

#86 Sometimes we forget just how much money a trillion dollars is.  If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

#87 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

#88 In addition to all of our debt, the U.S. government has also accumulated more than 200 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities.  So where in the world will all of that money come from?

#89 The greatest damage that quantitative easing has been causing to our economy is the fact that it is destroying worldwide faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. debt.  If the rest of the world stops using our dollars and stops buying our debt, we are going to be in a massive amount of trouble.

#90 Over the past several years, the Federal Reserve has been monetizing a staggering amount of U.S. government debt even though Ben Bernanke once promised that he would never do this.

#91 China recently announced that they are going to quit stockpiling more U.S. dollars.  If the Federal Reserve was not recklessly printing money, this would probably not have happened.

#92 Most Americans have no idea that one of our most famous presidents was absolutely obsessed with getting rid of central banking in the United States.  The following is a February 1834 quote by President Andrew Jackson about the evils of central banking….

I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the Bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out and, by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out.

#93 There are plenty of possible alternative financial systems, but at this point all 187 nations that belong to the IMF have a central bank.  Are we supposed to believe that this is just some sort of a bizarre coincidence?

#94 The capstone of the global central banking system is an organization known as the Bank for International Settlements.  The following is how I described this organization in a previous article

An immensely powerful international organization that most people have never even heard of secretly controls the money supply of the entire globe.  It is called the Bank for International Settlements, and it is the central bank of central banks.  It is located in Basel, Switzerland, but it also has branches in Hong Kong and Mexico City.  It is essentially an unelected, unaccountable central bank of the world that has complete immunity from taxation and from national laws.  Even Wikipedia admits that “it is not accountable to any single national government.”  The Bank for International Settlements was used to launder money for the Nazis during World War II, but these days the main purpose of the BIS is to guide and direct the centrally-planned global financial system.  Today, 58 global central banks belong to the BIS, and it has far more power over how the U.S. economy (or any other economy for that matter) will perform over the course of the next year than any politician does.  Every two months, the central bankers of the world gather in Basel for another “Global Economy Meeting”.  During those meetings, decisions are made which affect every man, woman and child on the planet, and yet none of us have any say in what goes on.  The Bank for International Settlements is an organization that was founded by the global elite and it operates for the benefit of the global elite, and it is intended to be one of the key cornerstones of the emerging one world economic system.

#95 The borrower is the servant of the lender, and the Federal Reserve has turned all of us into debt slaves.

#96 Debt is a form of social control, and the global elite use all of this debt to dominate all the rest of us.  40 years ago, the total amount of debt in our system (all government debt, all business debt, all consumer debt, etc.) was sitting at about 2 trillion dollars.  Today, the grand total exceeds 56 trillion dollars.

#97 Unless something dramatic is done, our children and our grandchildren will be debt slaves for their entire lives as they service our debts and pay for our mistakes.

#98 Now that you know this information, you are responsible for doing something about it.

#99 Congress has the power to shut down the Federal Reserve any time that they would like.  But right now most of our politicians fully endorse the current system, and nothing is ever going to happen until the American people start demanding change.

#100 The design of the Federal Reserve system was flawed from the very beginning.  If something is not done very rapidly, it is inevitable that our entire financial system is going to suffer an absolutely nightmarish collapse.

The truth is that we do not have to have a Federal Reserve.  The greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was when we did not have a central bank.  If we are ever going to turn this nation around economically, we are going to have to get rid of this debt-based financial system that is centered around the Federal Reserve.  On the path that we are on now, there is no hope.  Please share this article with as many people as you can.  It is imperative that we try to wake the American people up while we still have time.

The Economic Collapse Blog

Federal Reserve Says Banks Need to Brace For Economic Impact

Occupy Corporatism
by Susanne Posel

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The Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) warned financial institutions to reserve on-hand cash, government bonds and all highly rated assets to survive a severe economic “downturn”.

The FRB outlined essential “liquidity” requirements to ensure that cash can be assessed in an instant.

Those financial institutions with more than $250 billion in assets on the books are now required to hold those cash reserves to fund banking operations for 30 days during severe market “stress”.

Smaller banks with an estimated $50 million in worth are expected to have that much in in-house accounting to survive for 21 days.

Banks are being subject to international standards as disseminated by the Bank for International Standards (BIS).

Ben Bernanke, chair of the FRB said: “Liquidity is essential to a bank’s viability and central to the smooth functioning of the financial system. [The new regime] would foster a more resilient and safer financial system in conjunction with other reforms.”

Last January the BIS and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervisors (BCBS) has applied the underlying pressure on US banks to liquidate to appease global markets. The American taxpayer is picking up the tab for this turn of events. BIS is giving these banks until 2019 to comply with their new rules. Capital to prop up the banks will be needed while they liquidate assets such as bonds, mortgages, loans and stock shares.

Consequences of the liquidation have been evidenced in governmental austerity and movement toward sovereign debt by the technocrats. Any asset assessed by Basel can and is being used as collateral of the banksters in an anything goes temperament while the squandering of wealth continues.

BIS has used the scheme of forcing capital from the banks to control the measures taken globally. International banking constraints mandated in these new rules are putting more control into the hands of “shadow banks” where supervision is unheard of.

Michel Barnier, commissioner of BIS, stated that the Basel Committee has “revised liquidity coverage ratio and the gradual approach for its phasing-in by clearly defined dates. This is significant progress which addresses issues already raised by the European Commission. We now need to make full use of the observation period, and learn from the reports that the European Banking Authority will prepare on the results of the observation period, before formally implementing in 2015 the liquidity coverage ratio under EU law in line with the Basel standards.”

Liquidity is seen by the technocrats as a necessity for “the stability of banks as well as for their role in supporting wider economic recovery.”

At a time when the introduction of a global currency to replace all fiat across the globe is at hand, it makes perfect sense that the technocrats are positioning themselves to control the central banks as offshoot branches of their operation. At the head of this monster, the BIS sets the tone and directs the banksters with limitations and orders.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is setting the stage of a complete financial collapse of fiat currencies across the globe. Joining in the scheme are other technocratic institutions such as the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank.

Under the guise of preventing a system failure during the global financial crisis, there will be “an extension of the existing temporary US dollar liquidity swap arrangements until February, 1 2014.” This action allows the central bankers to liquidate currencies under their jurisdiction “should market conditions so warrant.” Under this plan, euros backed by nothing can continue to pour into the system throughout the Eurozone “in addition to the existing liquidity-providing operations” in the US. This liquidation will take place “until further notice.”

The UN has proposed a complete overhaul in the report entitled, “Adapting the International Monetary System to Face 21st Century Challenges”.

They call for a “more intense debate on and reforms to the international monetary system imply that the current system is unable to respond appropriately and adequately to challenges that have appeared, or become more acute, in recent years. This paper focuses on four such challenges: ensuring an orderly exit from global imbalances, facilitating more complementary adjustments between surplus and deficit countries without recessionary impacts, better supporting international trade by reducing currency volatility and better providing development and climate finance. After describing them, it proposes reforms to enable the international monetary system to better respond to these challenges.”

They recommend movement toward a global currency that will replace all current currencies. Revaluation will be accessed and the worth of money would redistribute with oversight of the IMF, WTO and ultimately the UN.

Via Occupy Corporatism

25 Fast Facts About The Federal Reserve

The Economic Collapse Blog
by Michael Snyder

Great Seal - Photo by IpankoninAs we approach the 100 year anniversary of the creation of the Federal Reserve, it is absolutely imperative that we get the American people to understand that the Fed is at the very heart of our economic problems.  It is a system of money that was created by the bankers and that operates for the benefit of the bankers.  The American people like to think that we have a “democratic system”, but there is nothing “democratic” about the Federal Reserve.  Unelected, unaccountable central planners from a private central bank run our financial system and manage our economy.  There is a reason why financial markets respond with a yawn when Barack Obama says something about the economy, but they swing wildly whenever Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke opens his mouth.  The Federal Reserve has far more power over the U.S. economy than anyone else does by a huge margin.  The Fed is the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world, and if the American people truly understood how it really works, they would be screaming for it to be abolished immediately.  The following are 25 fast facts about the Federal Reserve that everyone should know…

#1 The greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was when there was no central bank.

#2 The United States never had a persistent, ongoing problem with inflation until the Federal Reserve was created.  In the century before the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation was about half a percent.  In the century since the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation has been about 3.5 percent, and it would be even higher than that if the inflation numbers were not being so grossly manipulated.

#3 Even using the official numbers, the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 95 percent since the Federal Reserve was created nearly 100 years ago.

#4 The secret November 1910 gathering at Jekyll Island, Georgia during which the plan for the Federal Reserve was hatched was attended by U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department A.P. Andrews and a whole host of representatives from the upper crust of the Wall Street banking establishment.

#5 In 1913, Congress was promised that if the Federal Reserve Act was passed that it would eliminate the business cycle.

#6 The following comes directly from the Fed’s official mission statement: “To provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system. Over the years, its role in banking and the economy has expanded.”

#7 It was not an accident that a permanent income tax was also introduced the same year when the Federal Reserve system was established.  The whole idea was to transfer wealth from our pockets to the federal government and from the federal government to the bankers.

#8 Within 20 years of the creation of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. economy was plunged into the Great Depression.

#9 If you can believe it, there have been 10 different economic recessions since 1950.  The Federal Reserve created the “dotcom bubble”, the Federal Reserve created the “housing bubble” and now it has created the largest bond bubble in the history of the planet.

#10 According to an official government report, the Federal Reserve made 16.1 trillion dollars in secret loans to the big banks during the last financial crisis.  The following is a list of loan recipients that was taken directly from page 131 of the report…

Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC – $868 billion
Bear Sterns – $853 billion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Deutsche Bank – $354 billion
UBS – $287 billion
Credit Suisse – $262 billion
Lehman Brothers – $183 billion
Bank of Scotland – $181 billion
BNP Paribas – $175 billion
Wells Fargo – $159 billion
Dexia – $159 billion
Wachovia – $142 billion
Dresdner Bank – $135 billion
Societe Generale – $124 billion
“All Other Borrowers” – $2.639 trillion

#11 The Federal Reserve also paid those big banks $659.4 million in fees to help “administer” those secret loans.

#12 The Federal Reserve has created approximately 2.75 trillion dollars out of thin air and injected it into the financial system over the past five years.  This has allowed the stock market to soar to unprecedented heights, but it has also caused our financial system to become extremely unstable.

#13 We were told that the purpose of quantitative easing is to help “stimulate the economy”, but today the Federal Reserve is actually paying the big banks not to lend out 1.8 trillion dollars in “excess reserves” that they have parked at the Fed.

#14 Quantitative easing overwhelming benefits those that own stocks and other financial investments.  In other words, quantitative easing overwhelmingly favors the very wealthy.  Even Barack Obama has admitted that 95 percent of the income gains since he has been president have gone to the top one percent of income earners.

#15 The gap between the top one percent and the rest of the country is now the greatest that it has been since the 1920s.

#16 The Federal Reserve has argued vehemently in federal court that it is “not an agency” of the federal government and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

#17 The Federal Reserve openly admits that the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are organized “much like private corporations“.

#18 The regional Federal Reserve banks issue shares of stock to the “member banks” that own them.

#19 The Federal Reserve system greatly favors the biggest banks.  Back in 1970, the five largest U.S. banks held 17 percent of all U.S. banking industry assets.  Today, the five largest U.S. banks hold 52 percent of all U.S. banking industry assets.

#20 The Federal Reserve is supposed to “regulate” the big banks, but it has done nothing to stop a 441 trillion dollar interest rate derivatives bubble from inflating which could absolutely devastate our entire financial system.

#21 The Federal Reserve was designed to be a perpetual debt machine.  The bankers that designed it intended to trap the U.S. government in a perpetual debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape.  Since the Federal Reserve was established nearly 100 years ago, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

#22 The U.S. government will spend more than 400 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt this year.

#23 If the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rises to just 6 percent (and it has been much higher than that in the past), we will be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

#24 According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress is the one that is supposed to have the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.  So exactly why is the Federal Reserve doing it?

#25 There are plenty of possible alternative financial systems, but at this point all 187 nations that belong to the IMF have a central bank.  Are we supposed to believe that this is just some sort of a bizarre coincidence?

Via The Economic Collapse Blog

A Nightmare Scenario

The Economic Collapse
by Michael Snyder

NightmareMost people have no idea that the U.S. financial system is on the brink of utter disaster.  If interest rates continue to rise rapidly, the U.S. economy is going to be facing an economic crisis far greater than the one that erupted back in 2008.  At this point, the economic paradigm that the Federal Reserve has constructed only works if interest rates remain super low.  If they rise, everything falls apart.  Much higher interest rates would mean crippling interest payments on the national debt, much higher borrowing costs for state and local governments, trillions of dollars of losses for bond investors, another devastating real estate crash and the possibility of a multi-trillion dollar derivatives meltdown.  Everything depends on interest rates staying low.  Unfortunately for the Fed, it only has a certain amount of control over long-term interest rates, and that control appears to be slipping.  The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has soared in recent weeks.  So have mortgage rates.  Fortunately, rates have leveled off for the moment, but if they resume their upward march we could be dealing with a nightmare scenario very, very quickly.

In particular, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is a very important number to watch.  So much else in our financial system depends on that number as CNN recently explained…

Indeed, since May, just before Bernanke announced a probable end to QE3, the yield on 10-year Treasuries has jumped around almost one percentage point, to 2.6%, wiping out more than two years of interest payments. The markets clearly fear that far higher long-term rates are lurking in the absence of exceptional policies to rein them in.

That’s a crucial issue, because those rates are highly influential in determining the future performance of stocks, bonds, and real estate. Investors grant equities higher multiples when long-term rates are lower; both longer-maturity Treasuries and corporate bonds jump when rates decline; and developers pocket more cash flow from their projects when they borrow cheaply, raising the values of office and apartment buildings. When rates reverse course, so do all of those prices the Fed has been endeavoring to swell as a tonic for the economy.

Even though the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has risen substantially, it is still very low.  It has a lot more room to go up.  In fact, as the chart posted below demonstrates, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries was above 6 percent back in the year 2000…

10 Year Treasury Yield

And the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries should rise substantially.  It simply is not rational to lend the U.S. government money at less than 3 percent when the real rate of inflation is about 8 percent, the Federal Reserve is rapidly debasing the currency by wildly printing money and the federal government has been piling up debt as if there is no tomorrow…

National Debt

Anyone that lends the U.S. government money at current rates is being very foolish.  You will end up getting back money that has much less purchasing power than you originally invested.

Why would anyone do that?

But if interest rates rise, the U.S. government could be looking at some very hairy interest payments very rapidly.  For example, if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt just gets back to 6 percent (and it has been far higher than that in the past), the federal government will be shelling out a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

State and local governments all over the nation could also very rapidly be facing a nightmare scenario.

Detroit is already on the verge of formally declaring the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States, and there are many other state and local governments from coast to coast that are rapidly heading toward financial disaster even though borrowing costs are super low right now.

If interest rates start rising dramatically, it would cause a huge wave of municipal financial disasters, and municipal bond investors would lose massive amounts of money

“Muni bond investors are in for the shock of their lives,” said financial advisor Ric Edelman. “For the past 30 years there hasn’t been interest rate risk.”

That risk can be extreme. A one-point rise in the interest rate could cut 10 percent of the value of a municipal bond with a longer duration, he said.

Many retail buyers, though, are not ready for the change and “when it starts, it will be too late for them to react,” he said, adding that he was encouraging investors to look at their portfolio allocation and make changes to protect themselves from interest rate risks now.

In fact, bond investors of all types could be facing monstrous losses if interest rates go up dramatically.

It is being projected that if U.S. Treasury yields rise by an average of 3 percentage points, it will cause bond investors to lose a trillion dollars.

And already we have started to see a race for the exits in the bond market.  A total of 80 billion dollars was pulled out of bond funds during the month of June alone.  If you want a visual of the flow of money out of the bond market, just check out the chart in this article.

We are witnessing things happen in the financial markets that have not happened in a very, very long time.

And junk bonds will be hit particularly hard.  About a decade ago, the average yield on junk bonds was about twice what it is right now.  When the junk bond crash comes, there is going to be mass carnage on Wall Street.

But of much greater importance to most Americans is what is happening to mortgage rates.  As mortgage rates rise, it becomes much more difficult to sell a house and much more expensive to buy a house.

According to CNBC, there is an increasing amount of concern that the rise in mortgage rates that we are witnessing could throw the real estate market into absolute turmoil…

The housing recovery is in for a major pause due to higher mortgage rates. It is not in the numbers now, and it won’t be for a few months, but it is coming, according to one noted analyst. The market has seen rising rates before, but never so far so fast; there is no precedent for a 45 percent spike in just six weeks. The spike is causing a sense of urgency now, a rush to buy before rates go higher, but that will be short term. Home sales and home prices will both come down if rates don’t return to their lows, and the expectation is that they will not.

We have seen the number of mortgage applications fall for four weeks in a row, and at this point mortgage applications have declined by 28 percent over the past month.

That is an absolutely stunning decline, but it just shows the power of interest rates.

Let’s try to put this into real world terms.

A year ago, the 30 year rate was sitting at 3.66 percent.  The monthly payment on a 30 year, $300,000 mortgage at that rate would be $1374.07.

If the 30 year rate rises to 8 percent, the monthly payment on a 30 year, $300,000 mortgage at that rate would be $2201.29.

Does 8 percent sound crazy to you?

It shouldn’t.  8 percent was considered to be normal back in the year 2000…

30 Year Mortgage Rate

This is what we are talking about when we talk about the “bubbles” that the Federal Reserve has created.  The housing market is now completely and totally dependent on these artificially low mortgage rates.  If rates go back to “normal”, the results would be absolutely devastating.

But of course the biggest problem with rapidly rising interest rates is the potential for a derivatives crisis.

There are several major U.S. banks that have tens of trillions of dollars of exposure to derivatives.  The following is from one of my previous articles entitled “The Coming Derivatives Panic That Will Destroy Global Financial Markets“…

JPMorgan Chase

Total Assets: $1,812,837,000,000 (just over 1.8 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $69,238,349,000,000 (more than 69 trillion dollars)

Citibank

Total Assets: $1,347,841,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $52,150,970,000,000 (more than 52 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $1,445,093,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $44,405,372,000,000 (more than 44 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $114,693,000,000 (a bit more than 114 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $41,580,395,000,000 (more than 41 trillion dollars)

That means that the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 362 times greater than their total assets.

The largest chunk of those derivatives contracts is made up of interest rate derivatives.

I have mentioned this so many times before, but it bears repeating that there are approximately 441 trillion dollars worth of interest rate derivatives sitting out there.

If rapidly rising interest rates suddenly cause trillions of dollars of those bets to start going bad, we could potentially see several of the “too big to fail” banks collapse at the same time.

So what would happen then?

Would the federal government and the Federal Reserve somehow come up with trillions of dollars (or potentially even tens of trillions of dollars) to bail them out?

The Federal Reserve has created a giant mess, and when this current low interest rate bubble ends our financial system is going to slam very violently into a very solid brick wall.

As Graham Summers recently pointed out, entrusting Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke with control of our financial system is like putting a madman behind the wheel of a speeding vehicle…

Imagine if you were in the car with a driver who was going 85 MPH down a road with a speed limit of 35 MPH (this isn’t a bad metaphor as there is absolutely no evidence that QE creates jobs or GDP growth so there is no reason for the Fed to be doing it in the first place).

The guy is obviously out of control. The dangers of driving this fast are myriad (crashing, running someone over, etc.) while the benefits (you might get where you want to go a little faster assuming you don’t crash) are minimal.

Now imagine that the driver turned to you and said, “I’m thinking about slowing down.” Seems like a great idea doesn’t it? But then a mere two minutes later he says “ we need to continue at 85 MPH for the foreseeable future.”

At this point any sane person would scream, “STOP.” The driver is clearly a madman and shouldn’t be let anywhere near the driver’s seat. Moreover, he’s totally lost all credibility and isn’t to be trusted.

That’s our Fed Chairman.

Sadly, most Americans do not understand any of this.

Most Americans have no idea about the immense economic pain that is going to hit us when interest rates go back to normal levels.

All of this could have been avoided, but instead the American people let the central planners over at the Federal Reserve run wild.

When the bubble finally bursts, the official unemployment rate is going to rocket well up into the double digits, millions of families will lose their homes and America will find itself in the middle of the worst economic crisis in modern U.S. history.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need to help people understand what is coming so that they will not be blindsided by it.

Via The Economic Collapse

What Every Student in America Needs To Know About The Federal Reserve

Of Two Minds
by Jeff W

People are confused about the Fed, and I think it would be better if everybody had a clear understanding of what the Federal Reserve is and what it is not.

First of all, the Federal government thinks of the Federal Reserve as a service bureau, whose function it is to print money that the government can spend. As long as the Federal Reserve performs that function–reliably printing, let’s say, a trillion or more each year to top off the Federal budget–then Congress will be happy with the Federal Reserve (their rainmaker) and will follow its advice and try to keep it happy.

It should be emphasized here that the whole Keynesian smokescreen and sideshow has very little to do with the reality of the relationship here. The Federal Reserve’s job is not just to lend Uncle Sam some money during a recession so as to provide temporary stimulus. The Fed is a milk cow for Uncle Sam. Its job is to give milk all the time.

So to summarize this first point, the Fed is a service bureau for the Federal government whose job it is to provide the government with freshly printed fiat every year. This job has very little to do with the Keynesian prescription of how to deal with a recession.

The Fed is also a service bureau to the big banks that own it. Its job is to give unfair advantage to those banks, either by granting them low-interest loans that can be rolled over into infinity, or by buying their bad debts and disposing of them properly, or by doing any number of other special favors for them that increase their profits and executive bonuses. The Fed is not independent in the sense that it is self-governing. It must provide service to the banks who own it and to the Federal government, which controls its legal environment. Big banks have owned and controlled the Fed since its inception in 1913.

Summary: The Fed is also a service bureau to the big banks. It is not as independent as it proclaims itself to be; it provides services for its owners. Its owners have a profit motive.

The Fed also has its own institutional agenda. It wants to expand and increase its own power. It wants to operate in a safe and predictable environment. It wants to eliminate threats. The Fed advances its own agenda by printing or withholding money. As time goes on, the Fed has asserted more and more control over government. The Federal government is now addicted to freshly printed debt-money. This gives the Fed enormous power over the government.

The big banks who own the Fed also dominate Congress and the Obama administration due to the massive bribes they deliver each year. Thus over time the Federal Reserve has become more and more the master: what it wants it gets, what it doesn’t want doesn’t happen.

Summary: The Fed is also a selfish, power-seeking institution. It is not an organization of scientists (even though it does employ a small army of Economics Ph.D.’s) whose sole concern is to manage the economy scientifically for the benefit of all.

Some people think the Fed prints money, but when you ask Ben B. about it, he says, “The Fed does not print money. We lend money.” Printing money is easy to visualize and understand. Lending money is also easy to understand; it’s what banks do. But what the Fed does is somewhat more difficult to understand. To put it into one phrase, “they print debt-money.” They print money, but each dollar they print has the chains of debt attached to it. Each dollar they print represents a debt that somebody owes.

A Federal Reserve note is an IOU from the Fed that says “we owe you one dollar.” There does exist in the world paper money that is not debt-money, but the Fed does not traffic in that. As the Fed prints more debt-money, they tighten the chains of debt enslaving the government and the people.

A national debt of $1 trillion is manageable. It might be paid off in a few years. But a debt of $17 trillion is permanently enslaving (unless it is defaulted upon). Ben’s printing press, then, is also an enslaving press. If Americans were to try to default on $17 trillion of debt, The Powers That Be would unleash their full wrath on the American people.

Summary: Ben B. runs a printing press that is also a debt-enslaving press. We are wrong to focus just on the inflationary effects of his money printing. We should also be alarmed by the enslaving effects.

The Fed has infinite fiat, though they try to disguise that fact. It takes no more effort for them to loan a trillion dollars than a million dollars. They will never run out of zeros in their computer system. The zero keys on their keyboards will always function. No matter how much they can print, they always have available an infinitely greater amount of fiat that they can still print. Printing money requires nearly zero effort and zero cost on their part. They don’t get worn out from printing money.

This whole concept of infinite fiat is hard for people to grasp; it is something outside of their experience. People’s lifelong experience with money is that it is a limited resource. It is hard to conceive of a group of people who have unlimited, infinite money. Yet the Federal Reserve has just that. The Fed is not like a doctor who prescribes a short-term stimulus for a patient who is feeling run down. The Fed is not like a parent who temporarily puts training wheels on a bike until the kid learns how to ride it. These metaphors make people think that the Fed’s fiat printing is temporary and limited. It is not.

Its money printing abilities are permanent and unlimited. The Fed also puts on a show about agonizing over the decision of whether to print money. That make it seem like they are agonizing over whether to pull a sum of carefully saved cash out of their vault. But when they lend to Uncle Sam, they do not pull cash out of a vault that has a finite amount of cash in it. They instead get it from a computer that has the capability of printing unlimited zeros.

Summary: The Fed has infinite fiat. It is not limited by any conceivable shortage, or because of Keynesian stimulus theory, or because the Fed has the role of a doctor, or because the Fed’s role is to put training wheels on the economy from time to time, or because it is hard for it to print fiat and there are only so many hours in a day. They have infinite fiat. Their printing is limited only by how much they think they can get away with and their calculations of how they will benefit from it.

So that brings up the final question I shall deal with today. That is, “How does printing money benefit the Fed? Is it better from their point of view to print or not to print?”

The first point in response to this is that they want the government hooked on their printing. They want to be indispensable to the government. A government that balances it budget or reduces the national debt to zero (as the Jackson administration did) is the opposite of what they want.

The Fed’s power over government is similar to the power a drug pusher has over a junkie. As long as the junkie is doing what the pusher wants, the supply of drugs is uninterrupted. If the junkie does not pay, the supply is cut off. If the pusher wants to jack up the price at any time, he can do so. If the junkie objects, his supply is cut off. So here we see it is in the Fed’s interest usually to maintain the supply, but the supply may also be cut off from time to time in order to ratchet up its power over its victim.

The big banks always benefit from more printing. They profit from it. To the extent that they are cut off from it, they lose money. So from the standpoint of the big banks, the bias is always to print. Note that the Fed can maintain its supply to the banks while cutting off the government. The Fed’s owners must always be served; the government is instead to be manipulated, enslaved and controlled under the guise of serving.

Any active defiance of the Fed is a danger signal for investors. The Fed can cut off the government at any time, thus precipitating economic chaos so as to quash rebellion. At present I do not see any serious defiance of the Fed anywhere.

The Fed’s main goal is to increase the profits of the big banks. That goal is consistent with increased profits for all firms and prosperity in general, so long as the banks and the elites grab the largest share of the profits.

But that goal is also served in the long run by boom-and-bust cycles that have a ratcheting effect of concentrating wealth in the hands of the wealthy. The clued-in super-wealthy can profit both as bulls and as bears, and can purchase prized assets cheaply at the bottom of the cycle (on easy credit from their friends at the Fed).

It is a Clausewitzian principle that individuals, organizations and nations will expand their power until some superior or equal power effectively opposes them and stops them. Because the Fed’s power has no equal, we can expect the Fed’s power to continue to increase indefinitely.

At some point, however, history shows that the slaves and victims of oppressors gain strength and confidence when they feel a desperate determination to live.

But that point is still far off. The numbers of the righteous are far exceeded by those who want freshly printed debt-money from Ben Bernanke. Things have not yet reached the desperate, life-threatening stage which is when most revolutions occur.

 


Thank you, Jeff W. for a clear, concise description of the Fed and its role in the American economy. I would add two clarifications:

1. The U.S. Treasury issues currency (paper money, i.e. Federal Reserve Notes) and sells Treasury bonds to fund Federal deficits, but it does not “print money” in the sense of adding money to the nation’s money supply. It borrows money by selling newly issued U.S. Treasury bonds.

2. Technically speaking, the Fed does not give or loan the Federal government money. However, it creates money and pumps it into the economy in a number of ways, enabling large institutions such as banks and insurance companies to buy newly issued Treasury bonds. The Fed also uses its freshly created money to buy Treasury bonds directly. Lastly, the Fed can manipulate the interest rate in a variety of ways, making Treasury bonds attractive to institutional and global buyers.

So even though the Fed doesn’t give or loan money directly to the government, it facilitates the sale of Treasury bonds to fund the government in a variety of ways, including direct purchase of government bonds for its own account.

These complexities act as a complexity moat that protects the Fed from inquiry and resistance, as few people understand what the Fed is or what it does.

Correspondent Doug W. recently submitted this excerpt from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison on the issue of debt as serfdom:

Writing from Paris, in his letter to James Madison dated September 6, 1789, Thomas Jefferson opened with these words:

“The question Whether one generation of men has a right to bind another, seems never to have been started either on this or our side of the water. Yet it is a question of such consequences as not only to merit decision, but place also, among the fundamental principles of every government.”

 

After elaborating on what he thought should be among “the fundamental principles of every government,” Jefferson closed with this impassioned request to Madison:

 

“Turn this subject in your mind, my Dear Sir, and particularly as to the power of contracting debts, and develop it with that perspicuity and cogent logic which is so peculiarly yours. Your station in the councils of our country gives you an opportunity of producing it to public consideration, of forcing it into discussion. At first blush it may be rallied as a theoretical speculation; but examination will prove it to be solid and salutary. It would furnish matter for a fine preamble to our first law for appropriating the public revenue; and it will exclude, at the threshold of our new government the contagious and ruinous errors of this quarter of the globe, which have armed despots with means not sanctioned by nature for binding in chains their fellow-men.”

Thank you, Doug, for this reminder that the power to indebt the public is also the power to enslave them. That, fellow citizens, sums up the Federal Reserve and the Savior State it has enabled: debt is serfdom, debt is slavery.

 

Via Of Two Minds