The Oil Price Collapse Is Yet Another Sign That Economic Activity Is Crashing Dramatically All Over The World

The insanity that we are currently witnessing in the financial markets is difficult to believe.  Personally, even though I operate a website called “The Economic Collapse Blog” and I write about these things every day, when someone told me that the price of oil had fallen below minus 30 dollars a barrel on Monday I initially didn’t think that it could possibly be true.  Yes, I always knew that it was theoretically possible that the price of oil could go into negative territory, but we had never seen such a thing actually happen before.  And I knew that a crunch was coming as futures contracts expired, but I certainly did not expect the extreme carnage that we witnessed on Monday …

West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery fell more than 100% to settle at negative $37.63 per barrel, meaning producers would pay traders to take the oil off their hands.

This negative price has never happened before for an oil futures contract. Futures contracts trade by the month. The June WTI contract, which expires on May 19, fell about 18% to settle at $20.43 per barrel. This contract, which was more actively traded, is a better reflection of the reality in the oil market. The July contract was roughly 11% lower at $26.18 per barrel.

When global economic activity is rising, that usually creates an increased demand for oil.

And when global economy activity is declining, the demand for oil also tends to drop.

Thanks to the coronavirus lockdowns, global demand for oil has dropped to levels that are absolutely unprecedented.  The amount of oil that is being produced is far, far greater than the amount that the world can use right now, and storage space has been rapidly running out.

Speculators that found themselves stuck with oil contracts that they were not able to resell went into panic mode on Monday, and that created the most memorable day for oil trading in history.

I would like to share what a couple of experts are saying about this absolutely crazy oil price crash.  This first comment comes from Wolf Richter

It seems some oil trading firms and hedge funds were caught on the wrong side of heavily leveraged bets, and couldn’t roll over their contracts due to a liquidity crunch and horrible market conditions in that space. But if they can’t sell the contracts by tomorrow, they’ll have to take delivery of the physical oil at the delivery point for NYMEX futures, namely in Cushing, Oklahoma.

The delivery time is in May. But storage in Cushing for May seems to have been spoken for, and now these traders see that they have no place to go with this oil that they might have to take delivery of in May.

And this next comment comes from Roger Diwan

What is happening today is trades or speculators who had bought the contract are finding themselves unable to resell it, and have no storage booked to get delivered the crude in Cushing, OK, where the delivery is specified in the contract.

This means that all the storage in Cushing is booked, and there is no price they can pay to store it, or they are totally inexperienced in this game and are caught holding a contract they did not understand the full physical aspect of as the time clock expires.

The contract roll and liquidity crunch that made the extreme sell-off today possible but it DOESN’T necessarily represent futures market conditions: NYMEX June settled today at $21.13.

Last week, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other major oil producers cut a deal to significantly reduce global oil production, but it wasn’t nearly enough to match the nightmarish decline in global economic activity that we have been witnessing.

So right now oil producers are pumping far more oil than the world can currently use, and that has become a massive problem.

And if things don’t turn around quickly, we could soon see hundreds of bankruptcies in the energy industry…

Many oil companies took on too much debt during the good times. Some of them won’t be able to survive this historic downturn.

In a $20 oil environment, 533 US oil exploration and production companies will file for bankruptcy by the end of 2021, according to Rystad Energy. At $10, there would be more than 1,100 bankruptcies, Rystad estimates.

In the short-term, what the energy industry desperately needs is for the lockdowns to end and for people to resume their normal economic patterns.

But as one analyst has pointed out, getting people to do that would be extremely difficult even if all of the lockdowns were lifted immediately…

“The government can declare whatever they want in terms of encouraging people to get out and do stuff,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird. “Whether or not broad swaths of society do that remains to be seen. It’s going to take seeing people start to get out and do stuff again. That will be the necessary positive development, not just declaring getting things open.”

In the long run, the good news for the energy industry is that there are several reasons why the price of oil will eventually be going back up to higher levels.

First of all, economic activity will rise as lockdowns are lifted all over the world, and hopefully all of the lockdowns will be over by the end of this calendar year.

Secondly, central banks and national governments around the globe are flooding the system with massive amounts of fresh money, and this will eventually cause very painful inflation.  But for the energy industry this will actually turn out to be a good thing because it will cause upward pressure on oil prices.

Thirdly, it is just a matter of time before a major war erupts in the Middle East, and once that happens the price of oil will immediately shoot into the stratosphere.

So the truth is that this is just a temporary downturn for the energy industry, but a lot of energy companies are so deep in debt that they may not be able to ride this storm out.

For the U.S. economy as a whole, it is critical for all of us to understand that things are never going to go back to exactly the way they were before COVID-19 came along.  All of the financial dominoes are starting to tumble, all of the economic momentum is heading in the wrong direction, and there will be many more challenges that we will have to face after this current pandemic is over.

There will be a lot more wild ups and downs in the months ahead, but this is what an economic collapse looks like, and it is just getting started.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all many people as we possibly can.

6 Of The Last 8 U.S. Recessions Were Preceded By Oil Price Spikes – Damage To Saudi Oil Industry Could Take “Months” To Repair

When the price of oil rises dramatically, that tends to be really bad for the U.S. economy. Because we are so spread out and goods are transported over such vast distances, our economy is particularly vulnerable to oil price shocks, and that is one reason why the events that we just witnessed in the Middle East are so alarming. According to an article that was published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in 2007, five of the last seven U.S. recessions that had occurred up to that time “were preceded by considerable increases in oil prices”. Since that article was published in 2007, the recession that began in 2008 hadn’t happened yet, and of course that recession was immediately preceded by the largest oil price spike in history. So that means that six of the last eight U.S. recessions were preceded by oil price spikes, and now we may be facing another one. It is being reported that it may take “months” for Saudi Arabia to fully repair the damage that was done to their oil industry, and that could fundamentally alter the balance of supply and demand in the global marketplace.

Yesterday, I discussed why high oil prices are so bad for our economy. When the price of oil is too high, it can cause inflation and hurt economic growth simultaneously. The article from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco that I mentioned in the last paragraph tried to explain why this happens in very basic economic terms

Oil price increases are generally thought to increase inflation and reduce economic growth. In terms of inflation, oil prices directly affect the prices of goods made with petroleum products. As mentioned above, oil prices indirectly affect costs such as transportation, manufacturing, and heating. The increase in these costs can in turn affect the prices of a variety of goods and services, as producers may pass production costs on to consumers. The extent to which oil price increases lead to consumption price increases depends on how important oil is for the production of a given type of good or service.

Oil price increases can also stifle the growth of the economy through their effect on the supply and demand for goods other than oil. Increases in oil prices can depress the supply of other goods because they increase the costs of producing them. In economics terminology, high oil prices can shift up the supply curve for the goods and services for which oil is an input.

Needless to say, the unprecedented attack on Saudi oil production facilities was going to cause the price of oil to rise substantially. In fact, when global markets opened up on Sunday evening we witnessed quite a dramatic spike

In an extraordinary trading day, London’s Brent crude leaped almost $12 in the seconds after the open, the most in dollar terms since their launch in 1988. Prices subsequently pulled back some of that initial gain of almost 20%, but rallied again as traders waited in vain for an Aramco statement clarifying the scale of damage.

So where is the price of oil going from here?

One analyst quoted by Oilprice.com believes that we could soon see it hit $80 a barrel, and others believe that it could move up toward $100 a barrel not too long from now.

In the days ahead, global markets will be watching Saudi Arabia very carefully. The longer it takes them to resume normal production levels, the higher the price of oil will go.

According to Bloomberg, one analyst is already publicly admitting that “full resumption could be weeks or even months away”…

All eyes are on how fast the kingdom can recover from the devastating strike, which knocked out roughly 5% of global supply and triggered a record surge in oil prices. Initially, it was said that significant volumes of crude could begin to flow again within days. While Aramco is still assessing the state of the plant and the scope of repairs, it currently believes less than half of the plant’s capacity can be restored quickly, said people familiar with the matter, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

”Damage to the Abqaiq facility is more severe than previously thought,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd. “While we still believe up to 50% of the 5.7 million barrels a day of output that has been disrupted could return fairly swiftly, full resumption could be weeks or even months away.”

That is really bad news, and that is assuming that there won’t be any more attacks like we just witnessed.

If there are more attacks, Saudi oil production could be far lower than normal for an extended period of time, and that would be catastrophic for the global economy.

Most Americans don’t realize this, but a lot of Saudi oil actually gets shipped to the west coast. The following comes from Fox Business

Drivers in California, however, could be hit the hardest. Nearly half of what Saudi Arabia exports to the U.S. is sent to the West Coast, as reported by Reuters. In the year that ended in June, the West Coast imported an average of about 11.4 million barrels of Saudi crude every month – much of which went to California refineries.

The Golden State already has among the highest average gasoline prices in the country – at $3.63 per gallon as of Monday.

We are going to see higher gasoline prices right away, but in the short-term we should be able to handle them okay.

But if there are more attacks like the one we just saw, or if a major war breaks out in the Middle East, the price of gasoline could easily spike to levels that we have never seen in this country before.

The U.S. economy was already deeply struggling even before the attack in Saudi Arabia, and so this could definitely push us over the edge. We should all be getting prepared for an extended economic downturn, because it looks like that is precisely what we could be facing.

Hopefully we won’t see any more attacks on oil production facilities, but the attack on Saturday clearly demonstrated how extremely vulnerable such facilities are to terror attacks. And with Middle East tensions currently at an all-time high, USA Today is warning that our future “may well get much rockier soon”…

The new threat is tension among nations in the region, as well as the ability to attack based on new and relatively simple technology. Drones can be flown long distances carrying weapons just powerful enough to attack oil facilities. Middle East tensions are severe enough that attempts at similar attacks are not over.

Oil futures do not trade based on the present. They trade on forecasts about oil supply and demand in the future. The future looks rocky and may well get much rockier soon.

We are truly in uncharted territory, and we desperately need peace and calm to prevail in the Middle East.

Sadly, that is not likely to happen, and every new wave of violence is going to mean more economic pain for all of us.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

If You Think The Price Of Oil Is Skyrocketing Now, Just Wait Until The War Starts…

In the aftermath of the most dramatic attack on Saudi oil facilities that we have ever seen, the price of oil has exploded higher. The Wall Street Journal is calling this attack “the Big One”, and President Trump appears to be indicating that some sort of military retaliation is coming. Needless to say, a direct military strike on Iran could spark a major war in the Middle East, and that would be absolutely devastating for the entire global economy. Just about everything that we buy has to be moved, and moving stuff takes energy. When the price of oil gets really high, that tends to create inflation because the price of oil is a factor in virtually everything that we buy. In addition, a really high price for oil also tends to slow down economic activity, and this is something that we witnessed just prior to the financial crisis of 2008. And if this crisis in the Middle East stretches over an extended period of time, it could ultimately result in a phenomenon known as “stagflation” where we have rapidly rising prices and weaker economic activity simultaneously. The last time we experienced such a thing was in the 1970s, and nobody really remembers the U.S. economy of the 1970s favorably.

The damage caused by the “drone attacks” in Saudi Arabia was immense. According to the Daily Mail, “huge plumes of black smoke” could be seen pouring out of a key Saudi oil facility…

Infernos raged at the plant in Abqaiq, Bugayg, and the country’s second largest oilfield in Khurais yesterday morning after Tehran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a flurry of rockets.

Huge plumes of black smoke could be seen coming from the oil facility.

Houthi rebels in Yemen have publicly taken responsibility for the attacks, but they may or may not be telling the truth.

At this point, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is completely rejecting that explanation, and he is claiming that there is “no evidence the strikes had come from Yemen”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for coordinated strikes on the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, saying they marked an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.

The strikes shut down half of the kingdom’s crude production on Saturday, potentially roiling petroleum prices and demonstrating the power of Iran’s proxies.

Iran-allied Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen claimed credit for the attack, saying they sent 10 drones to strike at important facilities in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. But Mr. Pompeo said there was no evidence the strikes had come from Yemen.

And according to Reuters, another unnamed “U.S. official” told them that the attacks came from “west-northwest of the targets”…

The U.S. official, who asked not to be named, said there were 19 points of impact in the attack on Saudi facilities and that evidence showed the launch area was west-northwest of the targets – the direction of Iran – not south from Yemen.

The official added that Saudi officials had indicated they had seen signs that cruise missiles were used in the attack, which is inconsistent with the Iran-aligned Houthi group’s claim that it conducted the attack with 10 drones.

Of course drones don’t have to travel in a straight line, and cruise missiles don’t either, and so we may never know for sure where the attacks originated.

But we do know that the Houthi rebels in Yemen are being backed by Iran, and we also know that the Shia militias in Iraq are also being backed by Iran.

So whether the attacks originated in Yemen, southern Iraq or Iran itself, it is not going to be too difficult for U.S. officials to place the blame on the Iranians, and we should expect some sort of military response.

In fact, President Trump posted the following message to Twitter just a little while ago

Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!

Of course U.S. airstrikes against Iran itself could ultimately spark World War 3, and most Americans are completely clueless that we could literally be on the precipice of a major war.

According to the Saudis, the equivalent of 5.7 million barrels a day of oil production were affected by the attacks. Saudi Arabia typically produces about 9.8 million barrels a day, and so that is a really big deal.

When the markets reopened on Sunday night, oil futures exploded higher. In fact, according to Zero Hedge this was the biggest jump ever…

With traders in a state of near-frenzy, with a subset of fintwit scrambling (and failing) to calculate what the limit move in oil would be (hint: there is none for Brent), moments ago brent reopened for trading in the aftermath of Saturday’s attack on the “world’s most important oil processing plant“, and exploded some 20% higher, to a high of $71.95 from the Friday $60.22 close, its biggest jump since futures started trading in 1988.

As I write this article, the price of Brent crude is currently sitting at $66.89, although at least one analyst is warning that the price of oil could soon shoot up to “as high as $100 per barrel” if the Saudis are not able to quickly resume their previous level of production…

The oil market will rally by $5-10 per barrel when it opens on Monday and may spike to as high as $100 per barrel if Saudi Arabia fails to quickly resume oil supply lost after attacks over the weekend, traders and analysts said.

Saudi officials have already told us that they anticipate that a third of the lost oil output will be restored on Monday.

But because of the extensive damage that has been done, restoring the remainder of the lost output could take “weeks” or even “months”.

In the short-term, President Trump has authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and that should help stabilize prices somewhat.

However, if a full-blown war with Iran erupts, nothing is going to be able to calm the markets. In such a scenario, the price of oil could easily explode to a level that is four or five times higher than it is today, and that would essentially be the equivalent of slamming a baseball bat into the knees of the global economy.

The times that we are living in are about to become a whole lot more serious, but most Americans are not even paying attention to these absolutely critical global events.

In fact, even the mainstream media seems to believe that the new allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh are more important.

That is because they don’t understand what is really happening.

Trust me, keep a close eye on the Middle East, because things are about to start breaking loose there in a major way.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

3 Things That Happened Just Before The Crisis Of 2008 That Are Happening Again Right Now

Real estate, oil and the employment numbers are all telling us the same thing, and that is really bad news for the U.S. economy. It really does appear that economic activity is starting to slow down significantly, but just like in 2008 those that are running things don’t want to admit the reality of what we are facing. Back then, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke insisted that the U.S. economy was not heading into a recession, and we later learned that a recession had already begun when he made that statement. And as you will see at the end of this article, current Fed Chair Jerome Powell says that he is “very happy” with how the U.S. economy is performing, but he shouldn’t be so thrilled. Signs of trouble are everywhere, and we just got several more pieces of troubling news.

Thanks to aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, the average rate on a 30 year mortgage is now up to about 4.8 percent. Just like in 2008, that is killing the housing market and it has us on the precipice of another real estate meltdown.

And some of the markets that were once the hottest in the entire country are leading the way down. For example, just check out what is happening in Manhattan

In the third quarter, the median price for a one-bedroom Manhattan home was $815,000, down 4% from the same period in 2017. The volume of sales fell 12.7%.

Of course things are even worse at the high end of the market. Some Manhattan townhouses are selling for millions of dollars less than what they were originally listed for.

Sadly, Manhattan is far from alone. Pending home sales are down all over the nation. In October, U.S. pending home sales were down 4.6 percent on a year over year basis, and that was the tenth month in a row that we have seen a decline…

Hope was high for a rebound (after new-home-sales slumped), but that was dashed as pending home sales plunged 2.6% MoM in October (well below the expected 0.5% MoM bounce).

Additionally, Pending Home Sales fell 4.6% YoY – the 10th consecutive month of annual declines…

When something happens for 10 months in a row, I think that you can safely say that a trend has started.

Sales of new homes continue to plummet as well. In fact, we just witnessed a 12 percent year over year decline for sales of new single family houses last month

Sales of new single-family houses plunged 12% in October, compared to a year ago, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000 houses, according to estimates by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

With an inventory of new houses for sale at 336,000 (seasonally adjusted), the supply at the current rate of sales spiked to 7.4 months, from 6.5 months’ supply in September, and from 5.6 months’ supply a year ago.

If all of this sounds eerily similar to 2008, that is because it is eerily similar to what happened just before and during the last financial crisis.

Up until now, at least the economic optimists could point to the employment numbers as a reason for hope, but not anymore.

In fact, initial claims for unemployment benefits have now risen for three weeks in a row

The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits increased to a six-month high last week, which could raise concerns that the labor market could be slowing.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ended Nov. 24, the highest level since the mid-May, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims have now risen for three straight weeks.

This is also similar to what we witnessed back in 2008. Jobless claims started to creep up, and then when the crisis fully erupted there was an avalanche of job losses.

And just like 10 years ago, we are starting to see a lot of big corporations start to announce major layoffs.

General Motors greatly upset President Trump when they announced that they were cutting 14,000 jobs just before the holidays, but GM is far from alone. For a list of some of the large firms that have just announced layoffs, please see my previous article entitled “U.S. Job Losses Accelerate: Here Are 10 Big Companies That Are Cutting Jobs Or Laying Off Workers”.

A third parallel to 2008 is what is happening to the price of oil.

In 2008, the price of oil shot up to a record high before falling precipitously.

Well, now a similar thing has happened. Earlier this year the price of oil shot up to $76 a barrel, but this week it slid beneath the all-important $50 barrier

Oil’s recent slide has shaved more than a third off its price. Crude fell more than 1% Thursday to as low as $49.41 a barrel. The last time oil closed below $50 was in October 4, 2017. By mid morning the price had climbed back to above $51.

Concerns about oversupply have sent oil prices into a virtual freefall: Crude hit a four-year high above $76 a barrel less than two months ago.

When economists are asked why the price of oil is falling, the primary answer they give is because global economic activity is softening.

And that is definitely the case. In fact, we just learned that economic confidence in the eurozone has declined for the 11th month in a row

Euro-area economic confidence slipped for an 11th straight month, further damping expectations that the currency bloc will rebound from a sharp growth slowdown and complicating the European Central Bank’s plans to pare back stimulus.

In addition, we just got news that the Swiss and Swedish economies had negative growth in the third quarter.

The economic news is bad across the board, and it appears to be undeniable that a global economic downturn has begun.

But current Fed Chair Jerome Powell insists that he is “very happy about the state of the economy”

Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve’s chairman, has also taken an optimistic line, declaring in Texas recently that he was “very happy about the state of the economy.”

That is just great. He can be as happy as he wants, and he can continue raising interest rates as he sticks his head in the sand, but nothing is going to change economic reality.

Every single Fed rate hiking cycle in history has ended in a market crash and/or a recession, and this time won’t be any different.

The Federal Reserve created the “boom” that we witnessed in recent years, but we must also hold them responsible for the “bust” that is about to happen.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

“The Outlook For The Global Economy Has Deteriorated”: Oil, Copper And Lumber Are All Telling Us The Next Economic Downturn Is Here

Oil, copper and lumber are all telling us the exact same thing, and it isn’t good news for the global economy. When economic activity is booming, demand for commodities such as oil, copper and lumber goes up and that generally causes prices to rise. But when economic activity is slowing down, demand for such commodities falls and that generally causes prices to decline. In recent weeks, we have witnessed a decline in commodity prices unlike anything that we have witnessed in years, and many are concerned that this is a very clear indication that hard times are ahead for the global economy.

Let’s talk about oil first. The price of oil peaked in early October, but since that time it has fallen more than 25 percent, and the IEA is warning of “relatively weak” demand out of Asia and Europe

The International Energy Agency said on Wednesday that while US demand for oil has been “very robust,” demand in Europe and developed Asian countries “continues to be relatively weak.” The IEA also warned of a “slowdown” in demand in developing nations such as India, Brazil and Argentina caused by high oil prices, weak currencies and deteriorating economic activity.

“The outlook for the global economy has deteriorated,” the IEA wrote.

Meanwhile, the price of copper has been declining for quite some time now. The price of copper also fell substantially just before the last recession, and many analysts are pointing out that “Dr. Copper” is now waving a red flag once again

The message of weakening demand on the oil front was reinforced by the falling price of copper. The base metal is often referred to as “Dr. Copper” on its presumed ability to forecast the peaks and troughs of business cycles since it is used in different areas of the economy such as homes, factories and electricity generation. Copper has served as a leading indicator of both recessions and economic booms.

The price of lumber is a “third witness” that indicates that big trouble is looming.

Last month, lumber dropped more than 10 percent, and that was the biggest monthly drop that we have seen in more than 7 years

In October, prices for softwood lumber in the U.S. dropped 10.3% – the largest decline since May 2011, according to the Producer Price Index (PPI) release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The producer price index for softwood lumber has fallen 21.2% since setting the cycle and all-time high in June.

If oil, copper and lumber are all telling us the same thing simultaneously, don’t you think that we should be listening?

At this point, even Bloomberg is admitting that the global economy is heading toward “a generalized slowdown”…

These developments suggest the synchronized growth that the global economy has enjoyed in recent years is likely to be replaced by a generalized slowdown. Just take a look at the data out of Japan and Germany this week, which showed the world’s third- and fourth-largest economies contracted in the third quarter.

How many signs is it going to take before people start understanding what is happening?

Wells Fargo just notified about 1,000 employees that they will be laid off. Job losses are starting to mount, and it is likely that we will start to see these sorts of news stories on an almost daily basis now.

And as the shaking on Wall Street accelerates, we are going to see more financial firms get into trouble. In fact, we just witnessed the total collapse of OptionSellers.com. The following comes from a notice that they sent to investors informing them that they lost all their money and that the firm is being liquidated…

I am writing to give you an update on the situation here with your account.

We have spent the week unwinding our short natural gas call position as expediently as possible.

Today which was to be the final day of liquidation, the market flared as prices appear to have been caught in a “short squeeze.”

The speed at which it took place is truly beyond anything I have seen in my career. It overran our risk control systems and left us at the mercy of the market.

In short, it was a rogue wave and it overwhelmed us.

Unfortunately, this has resulted in a catastrophic loss.

Our clearing firm, FC Stone now requires us to liquidate all positions. We hoped to have this done today. If not, it will be completed tomorrow.

Your account could potentially be facing a debit balance as of tomorrow. OptionSellers.com will be processing fee credits over the course of the coming days to help alleviate debit balances. What these will be will be determined after all positions are cleared.

This has in effect, crippled the firm. At this point, our brokers at FC Stone have been assisting us in liquidation.

Our offices will remain open and we will all still be here to answer your questions and process account closings. We will do everything in our power to ease what discomfort we can.

I am truly sorry this has happened.

I will be updating you again via memo in 24 hours.

Regards,

OptionSellers.com

Those investors are among the first to be completely wiped out, but they certainly won’t be the last.

The ironic thing is that Americans are less concerned about another crisis than they have been at any point since 2008 at a time when they should be more focused on getting prepared than ever.

You know that it is really late in the game when even Jim Cramer of CNBC is saying that the U.S. economy is really slowing down. A few of my readers wrote me after that article because they didn’t like the fact that I had quoted Jim Cramer. But I don’t think that they really got my point. I was not endorsing Jim Cramer as some sort of financial guru. Rather, I was pointing out that even mainstream media celebrities that were previously cheerleaders for the economy are now recognizing the reality of what we are facing.

Global economic activity is slowing down, and things are shifting very rapidly now. The weather is already getting very cold, the mood of the nation is very dark, and it would only take a very small push to send us completely tumbling over the edge.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Total Planetary Collapse: The World’s Vertebrate Population Has Fallen By An Average Of 60 Percent Since 1970

The clock is ticking for humanity, and it is not just because our financial system is heading for the biggest implosion that any of us have ever seen. The truth is that we are literally running out of everything. We will not have enough oil to meet our energy needs long before we get to the end of this century. The lack of fresh water is already a major crisis in many parts of the world. Our air and our soil are more polluted than they have ever been before. And at this point we can barely feed the entire planet, but global demand for food is expected to escalate dramatically in the years ahead. If we continue doing things the way that we have been doing them, a future filled with famine, civil unrest, environmental chaos and war appears to be inevitable. We are literally on the verge of total planetary collapse, but because this is happening in slow-motion most people don’t feel an urgency to do anything about it.

And to a certain extent, the damage has already been done. This week, the WWF released a report which found that the vertebrate population of the world has fallen by an average of 60 percent since 1970. the following comes from NBC News

The population of the planet’s vertebrates has dropped an average of 60 percent since 1970, according to a report by the WWF conservation organization.

The most striking decline in vertebrate population was in the tropics in South and Central America, with an 89 percent loss compared to 1970. Freshwater species have also significantly fallen — down 83 percent in that period.

You may be thinking that you are not a big fan of the WWF, and I certainly am not either.

But even if their numbers are off by half, we are still talking about a planetary disaster of unprecedented magnitude.

Vertebrates include all mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles. Species after species is being wiped out, and enormous holes are forming in the global food chain.

I don’t know if I even have the words to describe what we are facing. The chief executive of the WWF says that what we are experiencing is “death by a thousand cuts”

The animals that remain will fight against warming oceans choked with plastic, toppled rain forests may zero out fragile species, and refuges such as coral reefs may nearly die off.

That will transform life as humanity knows it, said Carter Roberts, the chief executive of the WWF in the United States, if societies do not reverse course to protect the food, water and shelter needed for survival.

“The numbers are astonishingly bad,” Roberts told The Washington Post. “It’s death by a thousand cuts.”

There are a couple of other numbers from the report that I wanted to highlight.

First of all, the report states that nearly 6 billion tons of fish and invertebrates have been taken out of our oceans since 1950. Today, over 4 billion people get at least some of their protein from eating fish, and if we do not start doing a better job of taking care of our oceans we are going to be facing a horrific planetary famine very soon.

Secondly, the report also claims that 90 percent of all seabirds in the world now have plastic in their stomachs.

Back in 1960, that number was sitting at just 5 percent.

We are literally filling up our oceans with our plastic waste, and in the process we are destroying our future. For much, much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “There Are Trillions Of Pieces Of Floating Plastic In Our Oceans, And If We Don’t Stop All Marine Life Will Eventually Be Dead”.

The time to act is now, but it is extremely difficult to get the entire world to act in unison on anything, and most of the “environmental solutions” that are being proposed today are complete rubbish.

But “doing nothing” is certainly not an option either. Without our natural environment, modern societies would cease to exist, and this is a point that the report made very clearly

The report urged quick action to avoid irreversible change to the planet, including a shift to green energy and environmentally friendly food production.

“What is clear is that without a dramatic move beyond ‘business as usual’ the current severe decline of the natural systems that support modern societies will continue,” the report said.

And Tanya Steele was even more direct when she spoke with CNN

Tanya Steele, the WWF’s chief executive in Britain, put it more bluntly to CNN: “We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it.”

Years ago, I remember watching a DVD entitled “Collapse” by Michael Ruppert. I know that many of you probably watched it as well, because at the time it was very popular. In that video, Ruppert made some excellent points about our limited natural resources. But things have gotten so much worse than when he originally put that DVD out, and if he was alive today he would be absolutely horrified at how rapidly things have fallen apart.

Infinite growth is not possible on a planet with limited natural resources, and at this point we are literally running out of everything.

Will we be the generation that will be remembered for turning things around, or will we be the generation that will be remembered for destroying the Earth?

I would certainly like for it to be the former, but I have a feeling that it will turn out to be the latter.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots. It is a premium members-only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically. The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

15 Flashpoints Which Could Produce A “Perfect Storm” During The 2nd Half Of 2018

Events are beginning to greatly accelerate, and many believe that the ingredients for a “perfect storm” are starting to come together as we enter the second half of 2018.  Other than the continual drama surrounding the Trump presidency, things have been quite calm for the past couple of years.  We have been enjoying a time of peace, safety and relative economic prosperity that a lot of Americans have begun to take for granted.  But great trouble has been brewing under the surface, and many are wondering if we are about to reach a major turning point.  Our planet is being shaken physically, emotionally and financially, and it isn’t going to take much to push us over the edge.  The following are 15 flashpoints which could create world changing events during the 2nd half of 2018…

#1 War In The Middle East – A state of war already exists in Israel.  200 rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel on Saturday alone, and it won’t take much to spark a much broader regional war.

#2 Civil Unrest In U.S. Cities – Progressives are promising a “summer of rage”, and they are assuring us that all of the anger that has been building up against President Trump and his administration is about to starting boiling over onto the streets of our major cities all across America.

#3 The Nomination Of Brett Kavanaugh To The Supreme Court – Prominent liberals are stoking fears that the Supreme Court will start taking away “our most cherished liberties” if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate.  Expect Washington D.C. to be the focus for a lot of the chaos that will happen later this summer.

#4 Tensions In The Windy City – The City of Chicago is a powder keg that could erupt at any moment.  The recent shooting of a young African-American man resulted in a violent night of protests, and we should expect much more chaos in the days ahead.

#5 The 2018 Mid-Term Elections – These are probably the most important mid-term elections in modern American history, and tempers are running high on both sides.  At this point the left appears to have more energy than the right, as they have accumulated a voter registration lead of 12 million in states that require party affiliation.

#6 Hillary Clinton – Hillary has been acting very much like a presidential candidate in recent days, and she has been continually fueling hatred for Donald Trump during her public appearances.  Many believe that she will launch yet another campaign for the presidency once the 2018 mid-term elections are over.

#7 The U.S. Border With Mexico – President Trump’s immigration policies have absolutely infuriated the left, and Mexico’s new president is a radical socialist that absolutely hates Donald Trump and that has declared that immigration to the United States is a “human right”.  It is difficult to see how this crisis is going to end well.

#8 The Trade War Between The United States And China – A full-blown trade war has erupted between the two largest economies on the entire planet.  U.S. consumers are going to have to start paying much more for certain goods, and U.S. businesses that are heavily dependent on exports are going to have to start laying off workers.

#9 The Deteriorating Relationship Between The United States And Russia – Russia has become the “boogeyman” that gets blamed for everything these days, and relations between our two nations are the worst that they have been since the Cold War.  Hopefully Trump and Putin can change that, but it is hard to be optimistic at this point.

#10 Will NATO Survive? – Donald Trump has threatened to pull the United States out of NATO if European leaders do not “immediately” begin increasing defense spending.

#11 The Stock Market – Markets all over the world have already been plummeting, and the smart money in the United States is getting out of the market at a pace that we haven’t seen since 2008.  We are way overdue for a major crash, and if one happens during the second half of 2018 it definitely will not be a surprise.

#12 The Price Of Oil – The price of oil has reached levels not seen in many years, and many believe that the price is going to go much higher.  This is already putting a tremendous amount of strain on working families all over America.

#13 The Political And Financial Crisis In Italy – The Italian government is going through an enormous amount of turmoil right now, and there are rumblings that the Italians may decide to leave the euro altogether.  If that happens, we should expect to see the greatest financial shaking in modern European history.

#14 Earth In Travail – More than 30 volcanoes are erupting all around the world right now, and seismic activity appears to be escalating along the Ring of Fire.  It is only a matter of time before we have a major seismic event in the United States, but hopefully that will not happen within the next six months.

#15 Drought In The Southwest – A devastating drought of historic proportions has already caused “Dust Bowl conditions” to return to some areas of the Southwest.  If more rain doesn’t start falling, farmers and ranchers in the region are going to be absolutely crippled.

Of course it is inevitable that we will face some moments of crisis during the second half of 2018 that have nothing to do with the items on this list.  One thing that is always true about life is that it is unpredictable, and so we should expect the unexpected.

But what virtually everyone should be able to agree upon is the fact that we are witnessing a very strange confluence of events that is unlike anything that we have witnessed in a very, very long time.

Is America about to plunge into a time of unprecedented turmoil?  Only time will tell, but all of the ingredients are definitely there, and if a “perfect storm” does emerge during the second half of 2018 there are many of us that won’t be shocked at all.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Are The Saudis About To Reveal The Best Kept Secret In Oil?

saudi-arabia-photo-by-hamza82-flickr

(By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com) One of the oil world’s longest and best kept secrets may finally be revealed. Saudi Arabia is preparing to unveil how much oil it holds, a closely guarded state secret that has been kept quiet for decades.

The decision to bring such important data to light comes as Saudi Aramco is preparing to partially privatize its assets, an IPO that could bring in some $100 billion. The IPO will be a monumental event, one that the Wall Street Journal says could offer Wall Street some of the largest fees in history.

Saudi Arabia often trades off with Russia – and more recently, with the U.S. – as the world’s largest oil producer. But while it produces at similar levels as Russia and the U.S., it is long been a vastly more influential player in the oil world. That is because of two reasons – the size of its reserves, and the ability to use latent spare capacity to quickly adjust supply, affording it an outsized influence on crude oil prices.

But while everyone believes Saudi Arabia has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, perhaps rivaled only by Venezuela, there has been a lot of uncertainty and skepticism over exactly how much sits beneath the Saudi desert. The world’s largest oil field, Ghawar, has been producing since the 1950s, raising speculation about the longevity of the supergiant oilfield. It alone is thought to hold around 75 billion barrels, and it churns out more than 5 million barrels every single day. Surely, it cannot continue like this indefinitely, but the Kingdom has not revised its official reserves for years, which have stood at 260 billion barrels since the 1980s. It is hard to overstate how valuable this information is, and how fiercely Saudi leadership protected it.

However, the collapse of oil prices since 2014 has pushed the Saudi budget deep into the red. The Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is undergoing an historic transformation of the Saudi economy, a multi-decade plan to diversify the country’s economic base and create new sources of revenue. At the heart of the plan is spinning off roughly 5 percent of Saudi Aramco, the most valuable oil company in the world. Saudi officials believe that the company is worth between $2 and $3 trillion.

But in order to settled on a valuation and launch an IPO of some of Aramco’s assets, investors need to get a look beneath the hood. That is why Saudi Arabia is now prepared to unveil not just its financials, but also the long sought after data surrounding its oil reserves. “Everything that Saudi Aramco has, that will be shared, that will be verified by independent third parties,” Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, told the Financial Times in an interview. That would include, “reserves… costs [and] profitability indicators.” He went to lengths to emphasize Saudi Arabia’s seriousness about the IPO, in an effort to dampen skepticism. “This is going to be the most transparent national oil company listing of all time,” he said.

There is a great deal of suspicion regarding Saudi Arabia’s insistence that its reserves still stand at 260 billion barrels. After all, how could such a figure stay constant when it is producing 9 to 10 million barrels every day, which adds up to a few billion barrels each year? Aramco would have to add billions of barrels of newly discovered reserves on an annual basis in order to prevent its reserve base from declining. It is doubtful that it has done that consistently since the 1980s. But nobody knows except the Saudis.

As the FT notes, this figure will have massive ramifications for both Saudi Arabia and the global oil market. Right now, everyone is operating under the assumption that Saudi Arabia can continue to pump at its current pace for another seven decades. Long-term oil forecasts are predicated, in part, on Aramco’s ability to do that. More important for Saudi Arabia itself, its credit rating as well as the fortunes of its economy over the coming decades is also predicated on that assumption. A sharply lower reserve estimate could send oil futures up if fears over supply surface, and it might also affect Saudi Arabia’s credit rating.

Aramco is preparing to launch the IPO in 2018, which means that it will need to publish data on its oil reserves before then. The oil world’s biggest secret could soon be publicly released.

Link to original article: http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Are-The-Saudis-About-To-Reveal-The-Best-Kept-Secret-In-Oil.html

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

The Price Of Oil Is Utterly Collapsing, And That Is Horrible News For The U.S. Economy

Oil Price Crashing - Public Domain

This wasn’t supposed to happen. The price of oil was supposed to start going back up, and this would have brought much needed relief to economically-depressed areas of North America that are heavily dependent on the energy industry. Instead, the price of oil is crashing again, and that is really bad news for a U.S. economy that is already mired in the worst “recovery” since 1949. On Monday, U.S. oil was down almost four percent, and for a brief time it actually fell below 40 dollars a barrel. Overall, the price of oil has fallen a staggering 21 percent since June 8th. In less than two months, the “oil rally” that so many were pinning their hopes on has been totally wiped out, and if the price of oil continues to stay this low it is going to have very seriously implications for our economy moving forward.

One of the big reasons why the price of oil has been declining is because the OPEC nations continue to pump oil at very high levels. The following comes from CNBC

Production in July by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries likely rose to its highest in recent history, a Reuters survey found on Friday, as Iraq pumped more and Nigeria squeezed out additional crude exports despite militant attacks on oil installations.

Top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia also kept output close to a record high, the survey found, as it met seasonally higher domestic demand and focused on maintaining market share instead of trimming supply to boost prices.

These countries don’t know if or when the price of oil will eventually rebound, but what they do know is that they desperately need cash in order to keep their sputtering economies going. Many of these nations are already experiencing significant economic downturns, and substantially reducing oil revenues at this time would definitely not help things.

Here in North America, oil production costs tend to be higher, and so when the price of oil crashes we tend to see companies shut down rigs. But when rigs get shut down, that means that good paying jobs are lost.

During the first four months of 2016, approximately 35,000 jobs were lost at Texas energy companies. Globally, more than 290,000 energy jobs have been lost since the price of oil started falling back in 2014.

And even though there was hope that energy companies would add jobs as the price of oil started rebounding during the second quarter, it turned out that the job losses just kept on coming

Energy companies continued to cut thousands of jobs during the second quarter, even though many chief executives are now voicing optimism that the oil market crash is ending and a rebound in drilling is afoot.

Although the heads of Halliburton Co. , Schlumberger Ltd. and other major firms forecast higher crude prices and a return to U.S. shale fields when discussing earnings this week, those companies and others disclosed another 15,000 industry layoffs.

Personally, I have quite a few members of my own extended family that live in areas that are heavily dependent on the energy industry, and three of them have lost their jobs so far this year.

And these are precisely the sort of good paying middle class jobs that we cannot afford to lose. In order to having a thriving middle class, you need lots of middle class jobs. Unfortunately, those kinds of jobs are going away, and the middle class in the United States is systematically dying.

If the price of oil keeps going lower, that will mean even more jobs losses for the energy industry, and that will be very bad news for the U.S. economy.

In addition, many of these energy companies are getting into very serious debt problems. Delinquency rates on corporate debt are already the highest that they have been since the last recession as firms struggle to pay their bills. Of course some of them have already gone belly up, and this has pushed default rates on corporate debt to the highest level since the last financial crisis.

At a price of 40 dollars a barrel, most oil companies in the United States are not profitable in the long-term. The longer the price of oil stays down in this neighborhood, the more energy companies we will see go bankrupt. At this point it is just a waiting game.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that Wall Street is very heavily exposed to the energy industry. Just as subprime mortgages brought down quite a few financial institutions back in 2008, so this time around it is inevitable that the oil crash will claim a fair number of victims as well.

As the global economy has slowed down, the demand for oil has decreased. And at this point, even the U.S. economy appears to be seriously slowing down. U.S. GDP only grew at about a one percent rate for the first half of 2016, and the rate of homeownership in this country just hit the lowest level ever recorded.

In the mainstream financial media, there is a lot of hopeful talk about a potential turnaround for the energy industry, but most of that talk appears to be just wishful thinking.

To me, about the only thing that could push the price of oil back to where U.S. oil companies need it to be in the short-term would be a major war in the Middle East. And of course that is definitely always a possibility considering who is running things in Washington. But absent that, it is hard to see the price of oil getting back to 70 or 80 dollars a barrel any time soon.

So that means that we are likely to see more job losses, more debt delinquencies and debt defaults, and more financial institutions getting into trouble due to their reckless exposure to the energy industry.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and End Of The American Dream. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

They Are Putting Armed Guards On Food Trucks In Venezuela

Security Guard - Public Domain

We are watching what happens when the economy of a developed nation totally implodes. Just a few years ago, Venezuela was the wealthiest nation in all of South America, and they still have more proven oil reserves than anyone else on the entire planet including Saudi Arabia. But now people down there are so hungry and so desperate that some of them are actually hunting dogs, cats and pigeons for food. Just a few days ago, I gave a talk down at Morningside during which I warned that someday we would see armed guards on food trucks in America. After that talk was done, I went back up to my room and I came across a New York Times article which had been republished by MSN that explained that this exact thing is already happening down in Venezuela…

With delivery trucks under constant attack, the nation’s food is now transported under armed guard. Soldiers stand watch over bakeries. The police fire rubber bullets at desperate mobs storming grocery stores, pharmacies and butcher shops. A 4-year-old girl was shot to death as street gangs fought over food.

Venezuela is convulsing from hunger.

Hundreds of people here in the city of Cumaná, home to one of the region’s independence heroes, marched on a supermarket in recent days, screaming for food. They forced open a large metal gate and poured inside. They snatched water, flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, potatoes, anything they could find, leaving behind only broken freezers and overturned shelves.

All over the country, people are standing in extremely long lines day after day hoping to get some food. Sometimes the food trucks don’t bring anything, and sometimes it is just scraps like fish heads and rotten fruit. To get a better idea of what life is like in Venezuela right now, just check out this YouTube video

As people down in Venezuela get hungrier and hungrier, extreme desperation is setting in. And with extreme desperation comes crime and violence

A 4-year-old girl, Britani Lara, was reportedly shot to death Tuesday in the Caracas suburb of Guatire as she stood in line with her mother outside a government-owned Mercal grocery store.

El Nacional newspaper reported that gangs on motorcycles have fought over the right to control and distribute food at the Guatire store and that the gunfire may have been a result of that dispute. Eight others were reportedly injured in the incident.

Violence also was reported at a food protest staged in front of a store in the city of Cariaco in central Sucre state, where 21-year-old Luis Fuentes was killed by a gunshot. Eleven others were wounded, according to El Nacional newspaper.

Could you imagine living in a nation where all this is going on?

Most Americans could not even conceive of such a thing. But of course the truth is that up until just recently most Venezuelans could not either. In fact, just a couple years ago Venezuela was one of the most prosperous nations in all of South America

Two years ago, Venezuela was a normal functioning nation, relatively speaking of course. It was by no means a free country, but the people still had a standard of living that was higher than most developing nations. Venezuelans could still afford the basic necessities of life, and a few luxuries too.

They could send their children to school and expect them to receive a reasonably good education, and they could go to the hospital and expect to be effectively treated with the same medical standards you’d find in a developed nation. They could go to the grocery store and buy whatever they needed, and basic government services like law enforcement and infrastructure maintenance worked fairly well. The system was far from perfect, but it worked for the most part.

There are all sorts of signs that the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted in the United States is starting to crumble as well. If you follow End Of The American Dream on a regular basis, you know that I post articles about this theme all the time. But today I just want to share one tidbit with you. Reuters is reporting that the number of heroin users in this country has nearly tripled since 2003, and the number of heroin-related deaths is now about five times higher than it was in the year 2000…

A heroin “epidemic” is gripping the United States, where cheap supply has helped push the number of users to a 20-year high, increasing drug-related deaths, the United Nations said on Thursday.

According to the U.N.’s World Drug Report 2016, the number of heroin users in the United States reached around one million in 2014, almost three times as many as in 2003. Heroin-related deaths there have increased five-fold since 2000.

“There is really a huge epidemic (of) heroin in the U.S.,” said Angela Me, the chief researcher for the report which was released on Thursday.

Just like Venezuela, our society is rotting too. As I have warned before, the exact same things that are happening down there right now are coming here too.

It is just a matter of time.

On a side note, I would like to congratulate the British people for voting for independence from the European Union. As I have been writing this article, the results have been coming in, and at this point it looks like victory is virtually assured for the “Leave” campaign.

I would have voted “Leave” myself if I lived in the United Kingdom, but let there be no doubt about what comes next. Uncertainty and chaos are going to reign in European financial markets, and we have already seen the biggest one day drop in the history of the British pound. There is going to be short-term economic and financial pain, but the people of the United Kingdom have done the right thing for their children and their grandchildren, and for that they are to be applauded.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of End Of The American Dream. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

The Oil Crisis Is Getting A Lot Worse

Crisis Silhouette - Public Domain

Last week, I wrote that the day would come soon when oil prices would take another nasty dive because there is nowhere left to store oil, causing the spot price for immediately delivery to dive toward the zero bound. This week we see how close that day is as oil continues to be oversupplied by about a million barrels a day.

Reasoning simple: When all ships, tank cars, tank trucks and tank farms are finally full, immediate delivery of oil will be nothing but a liability. That kind of delivery is called “an oil spill” because all you can do is pump it onto the ground or into the sea … or start filling swimming pools, as one oil industry analyst said is the next step. Production will have to slow to whatever the rate of consumption is, as it will become a situation of one tank used before one tank is bought.

 

Oil practically spills over in Rotterdam

 

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that oil tankers are backing up at the world’s largest oil seaport. In fact, buyers and sellers of oil are increasingly sending tankers on longer voyages just to avoid a pile-up of tankers at several ports.

 

Up to 50 oil tankers are waiting to unload cargo in the port of Rotterdam, the highest number since 2009 and another sign that, amid a glut, crude is struggling to find a home. (WSJ)

 

There is that magic number that appears in almost all economic news this year — “since 2009” or “since 2008,” in other words “since the worst of the Great Recession” or “since the start of the Great recession.”

Storage in Rotterdam is nearing its limits. Ships are bobbling around out at sea waiting to find a port where they can unload their crude. The world’s largest oil storage company reports that its storage tank capacity in the Netherlands is now at 96% full.

 

“This is a clear sign of the oversupply filling up storage to the brim,” Gerrit Zambo, an oil trader at Bayerische Landesbank in Munich, said by phone. “People are preferring to store oil rather than cut production. These are bearish signs.” (Bloomberg)

 

The situation in Rotterdam is exactly mirrored in the United States’ largest oil hub, which is in Cushing, Oklahoma.

 

“In Cushing and probably Rotterdam storage is filling up very quickly,” said Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS Group AG in Zurich, Switzerland. “In China, given high oil imports, there are too many ships and the infrastructure seems not be able to handle that.”

 

The result of the glut is that future prices are higher for oil than prices for immediate delivery because fewer and fewer buyers have a place to put it right now or any need right now. The final leg of this journey before prices plunge is storage out at sea in tankers that drift for months and in tank cars and tank trailers parked on side spurs and in trucking yards.

With the intentional choice of longer routes, we’re already effectively edging in that direction. Some are saying it may be a good time to be a vessel owner because you can get paid just to sit and float. The last time that approach to managing supply happened was … you guessed it … in 2008 and 2009.

Once the tanks of this world are effectively 100% full, which shouldn’t be more than a month or two, a hole will bust through the floor in the price of oil, and we’ll see an oil-industry bath in black slime.

 

War is good news for the price of oil, for oil producers and oil bankers

 

This bad news for the price of oil hit at the same time that good news for the price of oil hit this week, and the oil market and US stock market decided to focus on the good. The price of West Texas Intermediate rose to an intraday high of $34.76 per barrel, and US stocks shot up to match. The good news for the price of oil was that war took a significant oil pipeline out of production in Iraq. While that’s temporary, hopes might have risen that the increasing drum beats of war in the Middle East will mean a lot of supply lines wind up getting cut or wells wind up getting bombed.

Middle East war, of course, would be a total game changer in the oil price wars. I wouldn’t be surprised if some oil barons someplace are not just banking on it but actively laying out their war plans. (I don’t know of any such conspiracies, but it wouldn’t be the first time oil barons used war to boost the price of oil. Usually it is by increasing demand, but in this case it would boost prices by creating a drop in supply of crude.) What’s bad for one person’s crude sales, such as carpet-bombing their oil wells and sabotaging their pipes, is good for another’s whose wells are, say, in the Midwestern US. Not that anybody would do such a thing.

War is the wildcard here; but, barring destruction of oil wells or oil infrastructure by war, things are looking dark for the price of crude. (Good for the consumer of gas and heating oil, but bad for the Midwestern and Canadian oil producers as well as those up around Scotland and many other areas. In the US Midwestern oil and gas shale was almost the entire driving force in job creation coming out of the first dip the Great Recession. (The second dip — the Epocalypse — is just now forming. It’s the same recession because its all from the same cause and was just artificially lifted by unsustainable money-printing in the middle.)

 

Good news was bad news in the Saudi-Russia oil summit

 

As reported in my last article, the real news from the meeting between Russia and Saudi Arabia was that both nations agreed NOT to cut oil production, regardless of how bad the negative impact becomes on the price of oil. Saudi Arabia stated specifically that its intention is to maintain market share by making sure production keeps happening at its current rate out of Saudi Arabia until other players are forced out of business. That’s what they actually said.

Bear in mind, too, that the agreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia was not an agreement by the rest of OPEC. The energy minister of the United Arab Emirates said crude producers should freeze production, making it clear there is no OPEC-wide agreement to freeze, and Saudi Arabia and Russia said they would only freeze so long as others did the same.

 

One of the world’s large oil companies takes a hard dive

 

Mexico’s largest, state-owned company, Petroleos Mexicanos also known as Pemex, announced not only its 13th consecutive quarterly loss amounting to $9.3 billion, 44% bigger than the previous year, as revenue tumbled by 28% to $15.8 billion, but also a gargantuan $32 billion annual loss and at the same time announced it would slash capex spending to preserve cash and optionality for a future which suddenly looks very bleak. (ZeroHedge)

 

As a result of crashing oil prices, Pemex is cutting way back on its project development, and that’s a state-owned company, so government subsidized if need be. US companies are only subsidized through tax structures. Pemex is…

 

…facing short-term financial difficulties, prompting some to wonder just what skeleton will come out of the closet if the oil price remains as low as it has been… But the scariest news not only for Mexico’s largest company, but for the energy sector in general, was Pemex’ announcement that it was slashing its oil price forecast by 50% from $50 to $25/bbl…

 

So, the struggling oil behemoth, which had hugely overestimated prices is now slashing its forecast down to my territory, as I say $25, and for a short time perhaps a dive below $20 when we hit those days where production hasn’t slowed and nearly all tanks are full — barring any turn-around from a strategic oil war as those guys never let me know what they’re scheming.

 

And a wrap-up on the stock market and why I care at all about the fall in oil prices

 

While January was the worst in the history of the stock market by many measures, February closed as a mixed month. The Dow posted it’s first monthly gain since last November, but the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq posted their third straight monthly loss, and for once it wasn’t the first three-month decline since 2009. It was just the first since 2011.

Low oil prices are good for the consumer, and for that I am personally glad, even though prices of fuel are for some reason stuck high in the northwestern US, in spite of the huge number of refineries in this part of the world. (Must be some collusion going on to be this much higher for so many months than other parts to the nation that have fewer refineries.) Abnormally low prices, however, do mean failing junk bonds, possible bank troubles, declining energy stocks, problems for hedge funds and investment insurers, and job and housing losses in the areas that were creating the sense of recovery.

So, while I couldn’t care a fig about whether or not oil companies and banks are fat and happy for their own sake, there is no question the oil glut is contributing to the stock market’s troubles in the US and to the recession in Canada. It is, however, one of only many negative forces acting upon all economies of the world, which are collapsing due to their own deep and persistent structural flaws and the inability of politicians to see past their own faces or outside of their very limited ways of thinking.

It is merely a question of which forces are going to lean too hard against the crumbling structures of the old dinosaur economies. Right now it is the specific gravity of oil that is caving them in.

(Article by David Haggith of the Great Recession Blog)

Mexico’s Oil Giant Posts Record $32 Billion Loss, Cuts Crude Price Forecast To $25

Financial Crisis - Public Domain

For a long time, the impact of the collapsing Petrodollar was concentrated almost entirely on African and Mid-east oil exporting nations, of which none has been impacted more perhaps that ground zero itself, Saudi Arabia, which has seen a record surge in its budget deficit as a result of collapsing oil revenue – the result of its ongoing war with the U.S. oil and gas sector and low cost “marginal” producers around the globe. Then slowly, the commodity woes spread to supposedly unshakable, developet nations, such as Norway and Canada, both of which are currently troubled by the impact of plunging crude prices on state revenues and downstream budgets.

Today, another country exposed just how troubled its energy sector has become when Mexico’s largest, state-owned company, Petroleos Mexicanos also known as Pemex, announced not only its 13th consecutive quarterly loss amounting to $9.3 billion, 44% bigger than the previous year, as revenue tumbled by 28% to $15.8 billion, but also a gargantuan $32 billion annual loss and at the same time announced it would slash capex spending to preserve cash and optionality for a future which suddenly looks very bleak.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

35 percent of drillers at high risk of bankruptcy: Report

Oil Rig - Public Domain

A growing number of energy firms are at risk of filing for bankruptcy this year as debt pressure mounts, Deloitte’s John England said Tuesday.

Nearly 35 percent of publicly traded oil and gas exploration and production companies around the world — about 175 firms — are at high risk of falling into bankruptcy, the auditing and consulting firm reported. Not only do these companies have high debt levels, but their ability to pay interest on those loans has deteriorated, according to the firm.

“Clearly, this is the year of hard decisions I think for a lot of these companies. They were kind of sheltered in 2015 through hedges and some access to equity and debt markets,” England, Deloitte’s U.S. oil and gas leader, told CNBC’s “Fast Money: Halftime Report.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Stock Market Stupidity Stoops to New Lows as Does Oil

I'm With Stupid

(Guest article by David Haggith of the Great Recession Blog) Lot of people riding the stupid train right now. The stock market opened its third week of the year up 150 points on the Dow and, by midday, proceeded to trip all over its feet again. It is getting funny to watch investors continue to bang their bullheaded, brainless, upper-respiratory junction they call a head against the market’s ceiling.

These people must be dumber than eggplants. So, let me have a little fun with a lesson in stupidity here. First, we start with today’s news:

 

Gains for US stocks continued to disappear after Tuesday’s opening surge as a fresh drop in oil prices put fresh pressure on the main indexes…. (MarketWatch)

 

Even though stocks plummeted in the Middle East on Monday when Iran announced it was coming on-line now that sanctions were removed and that it was raising production capacity, stocks in the US went up on Tuesday. Investors didn’t have a chance to bid on Monday because the market was closed for MLK Day. By Tuesday, a tiny spark that said oil prices had nudged up lit fire to a new rally. So, that became reason #1 that the US stock market took off.

It is also proof #1 that storks dancing on a keyboard could produce more intelligent purchases than one finds happening in the US stock market. The big news about Iran was right in front of their faces, and Iran’s oil hasn’t hit the market yet. So, you have to truly be dumber than dirt to think that any uptick in oil prices meant a thing or that it would last more than a few hours. As a result, as oil trickled back down in price, the sludge-brained market rally caved in.

MarketWatch goes on to quote one analyst as saying,

 

The market appears to be moving from a phase of traders “selling on rumor or anticipation of bad news” toward one of “buyers coming in to … scoop up bargains on the actual news.”

 

Bargains? Oh my gosh, the stupid train apparently accelerates into the curves. There are no bargains in an all-out economic collapse until all the unwinding is done. Today’s bargain will overnight become tomorrow’s head shaker: “Can you believe he paid that much for THAT? Guy must be dumber ‘n a fence post.” I might as well tank up on gasoline as “a bargain” at $1.90 per gallon when I know a gas station down the road is at 99 cents per gallon.

Moreover, the market analyst above appears to think that today’s minuscule uptick in crude prices was the “actual news,” whereas the numerous stories that took the market down were just “rumors” of bad news. I think this guy needs solitary time in the Idiot Box. I shall award him my Golden Gobbler Award.

The “actual” and enduring news on oil goes something more like this:

 

  1. Saudi Arabia intends to crush as many US oil companies as it can and is clearly in this for as long as it can endure.
  2. More than forty US oil companies have already gone out of business. Many more are in line to go out quickly.
  3. US banks are already preparing for a lot more junk bond damage from from financing the oil companies the Saudis intend to kill.
  4. Iran intends to crush Saudi Arabia by driving the price of oil down as hard and far as it can in order to bankrupt the Saudis at their own game because it hates them.
  5. Iran has some of the cheapest production on earth so can afford to go lower than anyone.
  6. Iran doesn’t even have to produce the first round of oil. It can flood the markets with oil that is already sitting on ships at sea because it produced that oil while it was under sanctions that kept it from selling.
  7. China created the highest demand for oil, and will not be expanding its now-reduced demand for a long time.

 

And that handful of points is just the beginning of actual bad news for the oil industry. I’ll get into more of it in a minute. So, for the stock market to rise because of some minuscule point rise in the price of crude is akin to thinking Bill Gates gets ecstatic when he discovers a dime under the couch cushion.

 


Daniel Yergin’s Pulitzer Prize–winning account of the epic quest for oil, money and power was deemed “the best history of oil ever written” by Business Week.


 

Now on to stupid stroke #2:

 

Tuesday’s anemic rebound in stocks after a brutal two-week start came as analysts said a report on the slowdown of Chinese economic growth … comforted investors who had feared worse.

 

I practically spewed my coffee onto my computer screen when I read that one. Oh my gosh, these people must actually be stoned if they believe statistics put out by the Chinese government and then sigh in relief when the Chinese government tells them what they were hoping to hear! I laughed until the dog came to check me out.

By Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, United States (Think Less Stupid More) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsTheir brains are addled in anesthesia.

Oh, stupidity would seriously hurt if it were not so funny. Who can bemoan the rich losing over a trillion dollars in the last half year when they are this dumb?

I won’t even quote what the Chinese government reported for its GDP. I’d rather hear Justin Bieber’s guesstimate of Chinese GDP than hear what the architects of the world’s most dysfunctional stock market have to say. These are the same failed flops who jailed investors who shorted the falling market, stole the market keys so no one can get inside and trade, and then “fixed” the market by socializing all corporations that were “bargains,” snapping them up with the people’s money and then saying, “Look, the market has been saved!” Saved like a horse that’s just been put down for having a broken leg.

Oh, my goodness, willful blindness is truly astounding to behold. It is a plucked peacock, proudly spreading its tail skin. Today’s market was a display of true desperation, looking for a reason to rise. It is a herd of lemmings running toward the lovely ocean view.

 

Is the real news really bad, or is it really, really bad?

 

I’m just going to lay out the “actual” oily news in bullet points. That way if any of these investors, who have space to rent in their heads, see this article, maybe they can figure things out easier:

 

  • The patriarch of the stock market, Art Cashin, said crude oil prices below $30 per barrel could open a trap door in the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The price of crude has been below $30 for a few days now.
  • Forty-two US oil companies have already gone bankrupt just since the beginning of 2015.
  • More than 86,000 jobs were cut due to shutdowns of oil companies in the midwest by the time oil hit $47/barrel! By the end of 2015, that number had risen to 130,000 lost jobs.
  • Home foreclosures have already begun to spike in Texas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota.
  • Wells Fargo has $17 billion at risk in gas and oil financing, and has just budgeted $1.2 billion to cover the losses it anticipates this year alone.
  • JP Morgan has budgeted $124 million to cover this year’s anticipated losses in the oil patch but anticipates raising that to three-quarters of a billion if the price of oil stays under $30/barrel for a long time. Jamie Dimon, JP’s head, says he’d reserve for greater losses if accounting rules allowed it.
  • Citigroup has set aside $300 million to cover this year’s losses due to oil financing. If oil stays at $30 or less, they expect their losses to be double that much. If it drops to $25, they said they will double that set-aside again to $1.2 billion.
  • And those set-asides are just for the junk bonds. They do not account for the rise in home foreclosures due to growing unemployment in those areas or the failure of other businesses that support the oil industry that have bank loans (like restaurants in ghost towns).
  • All of these banks have a huge reason to understate their assumed possible losses as much as they legally can since their stocks are already sliding downhill.
  • Then there is the unreported exposure of foreign banks.
  • Standard & Poors estimates 50% of energy junk bonds are “distressed.”
  • Some people are already calling for a national bailout of the oil industry because this problem will take us back to dependence on OPEC. (Didn’t I tell you we’d going another round with cries for bailouts this year? I didn’t think we’d get there this soon, though.)
  • Iran will be adding 500,000 barrels of oil per day right away and promises to get this number boosted to 1.5 million barrels of additional oil a day by the end of the year.
  • In 2015, the Oklahoma Supreme Court made oil companies legally responsible for earthquake damages caused by injecting disposal wells with fracking waste water, and the USGS determined with certainty that this practice was causing a huge upsurge in Oklahoma earthquakes. Fracking is being slowed down by government regulation due to these concerns, and a new source of costs is hitting oil companies due to the liabilities at a time when they are already crippled.
  • Oil dropped in price rapidly as oil storage tanks and vessels filled up. It’s likely to fall even faster when all storage is completely full, and Saudis and Iranians continue to try to pump and sell as much oil as the can.
  • Several banks are projecting the price will drop to around $20 per barrel. Meanwhile British bank Standard Chartered doesn’t see any of those rumors as dark enough and is projecting $10 per barrel.

 

You have to be dumber than sea scum to see all of that and still get frothed up enough to bid up stock prices because oil went up five cents a barrel.

 

It’s almost enough to make the neocons take the US to war in the Middle East to see if they can cut off a few supply lines. That would be a first — the US government fighting to get the supply of oil lower and the price of oil up?

The Financial Crisis Of 2016 Rolls On – China, Oil, Copper And Junk Bonds All Continue To Crash

Buy Sell - Public Domain

Never before have we seen a year start like this. On Monday, Chinese stocks crashed once again. The Shanghai Composite Index plummeted another 5.29 percent, and this comes on the heels of two historic single day crashes last week. All of this chaos over in China is one of the factors that continues to push commodity prices even lower. Today the price of copper fell another 2.40 percent to $1.97, and the price of oil continued to implode. At one point the price of U.S. oil plunged all the way down to $30.99 a barrel before rebounding just a little bit. As I write this article, oil is down a total of 6.12 percent for the day and is currently sitting at $31.13. U.S. stocks were mixed on Monday, but it is important to note that the Russell 2000 did officially enter bear market territory. This is yet another confirmation of what I was talking about yesterday. And junk bonds continue to plummet. As I write this, JNK is down to 33.42. All of these numbers are huge red flags that are screaming that big trouble is ahead. Unfortunately, the mainstream media continues to insist that there is absolutely nothing to be concerned about.

A little over a year ago, I wrote an article that explained that anyone that believed that low oil prices were good for the economy was “crazy“. At the time, many people really didn’t understand what I was trying to communicate, but now it is becoming exceedingly clear. On Monday, one veteran oil and gas analyst told CNBC that “half of U.S. shale oil producers could go bankrupt” over the next couple of years…

Half of U.S. shale oil producers could go bankrupt before the crude market reaches equilibrium, Fadel Gheit, said Monday.

The senior oil and gas analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. said the “new normal oil price” could be 50 to 100 percent above current levels. He ultimately sees crude prices stabilizing near $60, but it could be more than two years before that happens.

By then it will be too late for many marginal U.S. drillers, who must drill into and break up shale rock to release oil and gas through a process called hydraulic fracturing. Fracking is significantly more expensive than extracting oil from conventional wells.

Since the last recession, the energy industry has been the number one producer of good paying jobs in this country.

Now that those firms are starting to drop like flies, what is that going to mean for employment in America?

Just today, a huge coal company filed for bankruptcy, and so did a U.S. unit of commodity trading giant Glencore. The following comes from Zero Hedge

While the biggest bankruptcy story of the day is this morning’s chapter 11 filing by Arch Coal, one which would trim $4.5 billion in debt from its balance sheet while handing over the bulk of the post-reorg company to its first-lien holders as part of the proposed debt-for-equity exchange, the reality is that the Arch default was widely anticipated by the market.

However, another far less noted and perhaps far more significant bankruptcy filing was that of Sherwin Alumina Co., a U.S. unit of commodity trading giant Glencore PLC, whose troubles have been extensively detailed on these pages. The stated reason for this far more troubling chapter 11 was “challenging market conditions” which is one way to describe an industry in which just one remaining U.S. smelter will be left in operation after Alcoa shut down its Warrick Country smelting ops last week.

A spokesman for Glencore, which owns the entire business, said the commodities producer and trader is “supportive of the restructuring process undertaken by Sherwin and is hopeful of an outcome that will allow for the continued operation of the Sherwin facility.”

We desperately need prices for oil and other commodities to rebound significantly. Unfortunately, that does appear to be likely to happen any time soon. In fact, according to CNN we could soon see the price of oil fall quite a bit more…

The strengthening U.S. dollar could send oil plunging to $20 per barrel.

That’s the view of analysts at Morgan Stanley. In a report published Monday, they say a 5% increase in the value of the dollar against a basket of currencies could push oil down by between 10% and 25% — which would mean prices falling by as much as $8 per barrel.

If prices for oil and other commodities keep falling, what is going to happen?

Well, Gina Martin Adams of Wells Fargo Securities says that what is happening right now reminds her of the correction of 1998

Recent market volatility has dredged up memories of previous times of turmoil, most notably the 2008 crisis. But Gina Martin Adams of Wells Fargo Securities has been reminded of another, less dramatic correction year — 1998.

Adams posits that the current economic environment is suffering from themes that also played out in 1998, including falling oil prices, a rising U.S. dollar and troubles in emerging markets. Consequently, stocks may see a similar move to the 1998 correction, which saw a 20 percent drop for stocks over six weeks.

To me, it is much more serious than that. Just before U.S. stocks crashed horribly in 2008, we saw Chinese stocks crash, the price of oil crashed, commodity prices crashed, and junk bonds crashed really hard.

All of those things are happening again, and yet most of the “experts” continue to refuse to see the warning signs.

In fact, the mainstream media is full of articles that are telling people not to panic while the financial markets crumble all around them…

There’s no need to make big moves in response to the recent volatility. “Regular folks should take on a long-term view and avoid trying to anticipate short-term market movements,” says Stephen Horan, the managing director of credentialing at CFA Institute. “There is almost no evidence to suggest that professionals can do it effectively and a plethora of evidence suggesting individuals do it poorly.”

They want “regular folks” to keep holding on to their investments as the “smart money” dumps their stocks at a staggering pace.

A little more than six months ago, I predicted that “our problems will only be just beginning as we enter 2016”, and that is turning out to be dead on correct.

The financial crisis that began during the second half of last year is greatly accelerating, and yet most of the population continues to be in denial even though the average stock price has already fallen by more than 20 percent.

Hopefully it will not take another 20 percent decline before people begin to wake up.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Suicide, Crime, Unemployment And Poverty All Soar As The Economic Crisis In Alberta Accelerates

Canadian Flag - Public Domain

The nightmare that is currently unfolding up in Canada will soon be coming to the United States.  When the price of oil first started crashing, most Americans and most Canadians applauded.  Most people thought that lower gas prices would be really good for the economy.  Well, it turns out that the exact opposite is true.  Just like in the United States, the energy industry has been the primary engine for the growth of good paying jobs in Canada since the last recession.  Up in Alberta, there was such a need for oil patch workers that even someone that had just recently graduated from high school could find an oil patch job that paid six figures during the boom times.  Now the “boom” is turning into a “bust”, and huge numbers of those good paying jobs are being lost.  As a result, suicide, crime, unemployment and poverty are all skyrocketing, and the mainstream media is telling us that “the worst is yet to come“.

It saddens me to watch what is happening to Alberta, because I have family up there.  Whenever I have visited Alberta, I have been very impressed by how clean and orderly the communities are and by how very polite most people seem to be.  As Americans, there is much that we could learn from our neighbors to the north.

But now that the oil bubble has burst, things are changing up in Alberta very rapidly.  The following comes from a recent Bloomberg article

Crime is rising, home prices are falling and food banks are overwhelmed in Calgary as job losses spread. And the worst isn’t yet over in the heart of Canada’s oil patch.

Some of the city’s largest employers are poised to cut more jobs in 2016 as they reduce spending for a second straight year, adding to an estimated 40,000 oil and natural gas positions lost across the nation since the crude price rout began 18 months ago.

We all know someone who has lost a job,” Naheed Nenshi, the city’s mayor, said in a speech this month, lamenting the “funeral”-like atmosphere in the business community.

When we start digging into some of the hard numbers, things get even bleaker.  Just check out these statistics

-A total of more than 63,000 jobs were lost in Alberta during the first eight months of 2015 alone.

-Over the past 12 months, the official unemployment rate in Calgary has shot up from 4.6 percent to 6.9 percent.

-Home sales in Calgary have plummeted 21 percent so far in 2015.

-Just since September, the number of school lunches for poor children provided by Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids has risen by 16 percent.

-Food bank use in the province of Alberta overall has jumped by a whopping 23 percent according to the most recent numbers.

-In Calgary, the number of commercial break-ins has nearly doubled over the past year.

-The number of bank robberies in Calgary has increased by 65 percent in 2015.

-The number of home invasions in Calgary has risen by 52 percent in 2015.

-Every time there is an economic downturn in Alberta, the suicide rate shoots up, and this year is no exception.  It is being projected that the suicide rate will be about 30 percent higher this year than it was last year.

This is what happens when a “boom cycle” turns into a “bust cycle”, and the same thing is coming to the United States.

Even in the midst of our so-called “economic recovery”, poverty in America has continued to explode, suicide rates have continued to rise, and in many of our largest cities violent crime rates are up by double digit percentages in 2015.

If these things have been happening during the “good times”, what in the world are the “bad times” going to look like?

Just because the U.S. stock market is doing okay for the moment does not mean that the underlying economy is in good shape.  The truth is that we are in the midst of a long-term economic collapse that is now starting to accelerate once again.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “Sayonara Middle Class: 22 Stunning Pieces Of Evidence That Show The Middle Class In America Is Dying“.

What is happening up in Alberta right now gives us some important clues about what we can expect to happen shortly in our own communities.

First of all, we are going to see large numbers of people start to lose their jobs just like we saw back in 2008.  And because 62 percent of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, that means that most people do not have a cushion to fall back upon.  Just like in 2008, millions upon millions of Americans will go from living a very comfortable middle class lifestyle to facing hard times and desperation very, very rapidly.

As fear and poverty spread, people will become desperate, and desperate people do desperate things.

Some will decide that their lives are no longer worth living and will turn to suicide.  Others will turn to drugs, alcohol or pills.  When things get tough, addictive behavior tends to rise, and this time around will probably be no exception.

Other Americans will turn to crime and violent behavior in their desperation.  Just like we are seeing in Canada right now, home invasions, bank robberies and other forms of violent crime will increase.

But if you are prepared ahead of time, you and your family will have a chance to make it through the storm.  That is why I am constantly urging my readers to prepare.  If you wait until the storm is right on top of us, that will be too late to start preparing.

Right at this moment, things seem relatively quiet.  Most of us have become trained to think in terms of 48 hour news cycles, and so we can be fooled by temporary lulls in the action.

Don’t be fooled.  This period of relative quiet is about to come to an abrupt end, and 2016 is going to be far more chaotic than most people would dare to imagine.

So please get prepared for what is ahead now, while you still can.

Guess What Happened The Last Time The Price Of Oil Plunged Below 38 Dollars A Barrel?

Question Mark Burning - Public Domain

On Monday, the price of U.S. oil dropped below 38 dollars a barrel for the first time in six years. The last time the price of oil was this low, the global financial system was melting down and the U.S. economy was experiencing the worst recession that it had seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. As I write this article, the price of U.S. oil is sitting at $37.65. For months, I have been warning that the crash in the price of oil would be extremely deflationary and would have severe consequences for the global economy. Nations such as Japan, Canada, Brazil and Russia have already plunged into recession, and more than half of all major global stock market indexes are down at least 10 percent year to date. The first major global financial crisis since 2009 has begun, and things are only going to get worse as we head into 2016.

The global head of oil research at Societe Generale, Mike Wittner, says that his “head is spinning” after the stunning drop in the price of oil on Monday. Just like during the last financial crisis, we have broken the psychologically important 40 dollar barrier, and there are concerns that we could go much lower from here…

Price Of Oil - Public Domain

One analyst told CNBC that he believes that we could soon see the price of U.S. oil go all the way down to 32 dollars a barrel…

“We’re in a tug-of-war between a heavily shorted market and a glut of oil in the U.S. and globally, as Saudi Arabia continues to produce oil at elevated levels to maintain market share,” said Chris Jarvis at Caprock Risk Management, an energy markets consultancy in Frederick, Maryland.

“Couple this with a strengthening dollar as the market anticipates a U.S. rate hike this month, oil is heading lower with a near term target of $32 for WTI.”

Analysts at Goldman Sachs are even more pessimistic than that. According to Business Insider, they are saying that we could eventually see the price of oil go below 20 dollars a barrel…

At OPEC’s meeting on Friday, member countries decided to set its production level at 31.5 million barrels per day, and did not agree on what the new limit should be.

After OPEC’s meeting, commodity strategists at Goldman put out a note saying that oil prices could plunge another 50% in the coming months, as the oil market tries to rebalance the supply and demand situation.

That may sound really good to you, especially if you fill up your gas tank frequently. But the truth is that plunging oil prices are exceedingly bad for the U.S. economy as a whole. In recent years, the energy industry has been the primary engine for the creation of good jobs in this country, and now those firms are having to lay off people at a frightening pace. Not only that, CNBC’s Jim Cramer is warning that many of these firms may actually start going under if the price of oil doesn’t start going back up soon…

“This is not ‘longer and lower;’ this is ‘longer and much lower.’ There’s companies that are not going to be able to fund with futures; there’re companies that are not going to be able to get credit,” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street.”

Cramer made his remarks after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided not to lower production on Friday.

This was a devastating blow for the U.S. oil industry,” Cramer said.

On Monday, we witnessed another benchmark that we have not seen since the last financial crisis.

I watch a high yield bond ETF known as JNK very closely. On Monday, JNK broke below 35 for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008. Just like 40 dollar oil, this is a key psychological barrier.

So why is this important?

As I discussed last week, junk bonds crashed before stocks did in 2008, and now it is happening again. If form holds true, we should expect U.S. stocks to start tumbling significantly very shortly.

Meanwhile, another notable expert has come forward with a troubling forecast for the global economy in 2016. Just like Citigroup, Raoul Pal believes that there is a very significant chance that we will see a recession next year…

Former global macro fund manager Raoul Pal says there’s now a 65% chance of a global recession.

In July, Pal predicted that the Institute of Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing index would break the key level of 50 late in 2015.

On December 1, the ISM broke the 50 level for the first time since the 2008 recession, reaching 48.6.

“I use the ISM as a guide to the global business cycle, not just the US cycle,” Pal told Business Insider.

What amazes me is that so many people out there cannot see what is happening even though the next great crisis has already started. The evidence is all around us, and yet so many choose to be willingly blind.

Instead of fixing our problems after the last crisis, we just papered them over with lots of money printing and lots more debt. And of course all of this manipulation just made our long-term problems even worse. I really like how Peter Schiff put it recently…

What’s happening is pretty much what we would anticipate. I don’t see from the data any real economic recovery, certainly not in the United States.

We’re spending more money, but it’s not because we’re generating more wealth. We’re generating more debt. We’re using that borrowed money to consume and so temporarily it feels that we’re wealthier because we get to spend all that money… but we have to come to terms with paying the bill.

The bills are going to come due. Right now interest rates are being kept at zero which makes it possible to service the debt even though it’s impossible to repay it… at least we can service it. But once interest rates go up then we can’t even service it let alone repay it.

And then the party is going to come to an end.

Indeed – the party is coming to an end, and a new financial crisis is playing out in textbook fashion right in front of our eyes.

Hopefully you are already prepared for what is coming next, because it is going to be extremely painful for the U.S. economy.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Canada ‘Getting Clocked’ by Something Far Bigger than Oil

Canada

Canada is likely in a technical recession, after the economy shrank for the first five months of the year. It’s heavily dependent on commodities. The oil bust and the broader commodity rout have been blamed liberally. The theory goes that the problem is contained. The oil patch may be wallowing in the mire. But no problem, the rest of Canada is fine.

The swoon of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar has caused a bout of false hope that this would make Canadian exports of manufactured goods more attractive to buyers in the US and elsewhere, and that the economy could thus export its way out of trouble. This theory has now run aground.

Because the threat to manufacturing in Canada comes from Mexico.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Low Prices Pose Threat To Texas Oil Boom

Oil Rig Texas - Public Domain

No place in Texas produces more oil than Karnes County, but suddenly the roaring economy here is cooling fast, chilled by the plunging price of crude.

Workers who migrated from far and wide to find work here, chasing newfound oil riches, are being laid off, deserting their recreational vehicle parks and going home. Hay farmers who became instant millionaires on royalty checks for their land have suddenly fallen behind on payments for new tractors they bought when cash was flowing. Scores of mobile steel tanks and portable toilets used at the ubiquitous wells are stacked, unused, along county roads.

“Everybody is waiting for doomsday,” said Vi Malone, the Karnes County treasurer. “Everything was good, and everybody was getting these big checks, and everybody waited for their land to be leased, and then it all came to a screeching halt around the beginning of the year.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Crashing Right Now: Apple, Twitter, Oil, Commodities, Greek Stocks, Chinese Stocks

Crash - Public Domain

The month of August sure has started off with a bang. Tech stocks are crashing, oil is crashing, industrial commodities are crashing, Greek stocks crashed the moment that the Greek stock market reopened for trading, and Chinese stocks continue to crash. At this point we have not seen a broad crash of U.S. stocks yet, but it is important to note that the Dow is already down more than 700 points from the peak in May. If it continues to slide like it has in recent days, it won’t be too long before we will officially reach “correction” territory. Just a few days ago, I described August as a “pivotal month“, and so far that is indeed turning out to be the case.

A full-blown financial crisis has not erupted yet, but we are well on the way. In this article, I want to look at a few of the “crashes” that are already happening…

Apple

This is more of a “correction” than a “crash”, but it is very noteworthy because it is happening to one of the most important U.S. stocks of all. The price of Apple stock has already broken through the 200 day moving average, and at this point it is down nearly 11 percent from the peak

Shares of Apple are down 10.9% from their highest point in a year — which places the stock squarely in what’s considered to be a correction. The unofficial definition of a correction is a 10% or greater drop from a recent high. Shares of Apple hit a 52-week (and all-time) high on $134.54 on April 28.

Twitter

If you want to see a real crash, just look at what is happening to Twitter. The stock was down close to 6 percent on Monday, and overall it has fallen 58 percent since early last year. The price of Twitter stock has never been lower than it is right now, and many investors are very apprehensive about what comes next…

Twitter shares hit a record low on Monday, closing down nearly 6% to $29.27.

That is 58% below their peak in January 2014.

Shares have fallen to their lowest point since the company went public in November 2014 weighed down by negative comments on growth from company executives that rattled investors. Its previous low was $30.50 in May 2014 as concerns over slowing user growth began to take a toll.

Of course there are tech companies that are in far worse shape than Twitter. For example, just consider what is happening to Yelp. Shares of Yelp recently plummeted 25 percent in a single day, and they are down about 70 percent over the past year.

Greece

The Greek government was quite eager to reopen their stock market this week.

Perhaps they should have waited longer.

On Monday, we witnessed the greatest stock bloodbath in Greek history. The following comes from Reuters

Greece’s stock market closed with heavy losses on Monday after a five-week shutdown brought on by fears that the country was about to be dumped from the euro zone.

Bank shares plummeted 30 percent before loss limits kicked in to stop investors selling any more. The main Athens stock index .ATG ended down 16.2 percent, recovering slightly after plunging nearly 23 percent at the open.

It was the worst daily performance since at least 1985 when modern records began, including a 15 percent fall when Wall Street crashed in 1987.

Puerto Rico

Things also continue to unravel for “America’s Greece”. On Monday, a U.S. commonwealth territory defaulted on debt for the first time ever

Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank announced Monday that it was only able to make a partial payment on its Public Finance Corporation (PFC) debt service due over the weekend.

In response to the non-payment of the full service, Moody’s said it viewed the situation as a default.

“Due to the lack of appropriated funds for this fiscal year the entirety of the PFC payment was not made today (the first business day after the Saturday deadline),” GDB President Melba Acosta-Febo said in a statement. This was a decision that reflects the serious concerns about the Commonwealth’s liquidity in combination with the balance of obligations to our creditors and the equally important obligations to the people of Puerto Rico to ensure the essential services they deserve are maintained.”

China

As I noted the other day, the Shanghai Composite Index declined 13.4 percent during the month of July. It was the worst month for stocks in China since October 2009.

On Monday, Chinese stocks were down another 1.11 percent. Since closing at 5,166.35 on June 12th, the Shanghai Composite Index has fallen precipitously. As I write this, it is sitting at just 3622.86.

Oil

In the months prior to the financial crisis of 2008, the price of oil crashed hard.

Now it is happening again.

In July, the price of oil plunged 21 percent. That was the worst monthly decline that we have seen since October 2008.

And on Monday, the oil crash continued. The following comes from Business Insider

On Monday in New York, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell more than 4% and slipped below $45 per barrel, a level it hasn’t touched since March.

Brent crude oil, the international benchmark that joined WTI in a bear market last week, dropped more than 4%, below $50 per barrel for the first time since January.

Commodities

In recent weeks, I have been writing over and over about industrial commodities. This is yet another striking similarity to the last financial crisis. In 2008, they started crashing before stocks did, and now it is happening again

We see the Bloomberg Commodities index now at a 13-year low. Copper is down 28 percent for the year, tin is down 30 percent, and nickel is down 44 percent.

This is a giant red flag that indicates that we are plunging into a deflationary cycle. When global economic activity slows down, so does demand for industrial commodities. I don’t understand why more people can’t see this.

I have been warning that a deflationary downturn was coming for a very long time, and so have others. For instance, just consider the following excerpt from a recent article by Nicole Foss

Our consistent theme here at the Automatic Earth since its inception has been that we are facing a very powerful deflationary depression, following on from the bursting of an epic financial bubble. What we have witnessed in our three decades of expansion and inflation is nothing short of a monetary supernova, and that period has been the just culmination of a much larger upward trend going back many decades at least. We have lived through a credit hyper-expansion for the record books, with an unprecedented generation of excess claims to underlying real wealth. In doing so we have created the largest financial departure from reality in human history.

Bubbles are not new – humanity has experienced them periodically going all the way back to antiquity – but the novel aspect of this one, apart from its scale, is its occurrence at a point when we have reached or are reaching so many limits on a global scale. The retrenchment we are about to experience as this bubble bursts is also set to be unprecedented, given that the scale of a bust is predictably proportionate to the scale of the excesses during the boom that precedes it. We have built an incredibly complex economic system, but despite its robust appearance it is over-extended, brittle and fragile after decades of fueling its continued expansion by feeding on its own substance.

Things continue to line up in textbook fashion for a major financial crisis during the fall and winter.

I hope that you are prepared for what comes next.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Why The Price Of Oil Is More Likely To Fall To 20 Rather Than Rise To 80

Oil - Public Domain

This is just the beginning of the oil crisis. Over the past couple of weeks, the price of U.S. oil has rallied back above 50 dollars a barrel. In fact, as I write this, it is sitting at $52.93. But this rally will not last. In fact, analysts at the big banks are warning that we could soon see U.S. oil hit the $20 mark. The reason for this is that the production of oil globally is still way above the current level of demand. Things have gotten so bad that millions of barrels of oil are being stored at sea as companies wait for the price of oil to go back up. But the price is not going to go back up any time soon. Even though rigs are being shut down in the United States at the fastest pace since the last financial crisis, oil production continues to go up. In fact, last week more oil was produced in the U.S. than at any time since the 1970s. This is really bad news for the economy, because the price of oil is already at a catastrophically low level for the global financial system. If the price of oil stays at this level for the rest of the year, we are going to see a whole bunch of energy companies fail, billions of dollars of debt issued by energy companies could go bad, and trillions of dollars of derivatives related to the energy industry could implode. In other words, this is a recipe for a financial meltdown, and the longer the price of oil stays at this level (or lower), the more damage it is going to do.

The way things stand, there is simply just way too much oil sitting out there. And anyone that has taken Economics 101 knows that when supply far exceeds demand, prices go down

Oil prices have gotten crushed for the last six months. The extent to which that was caused by an excess of supply or by a slowdown in demand has big implications for where prices will head next. People wishing for a big rebound may not want to read farther.

Goldman Sachs released an intriguing analysis on Wednesday that shows what many already suspected: The big culprit in the oil crash has been an abundance of oil flooding the market. A massive supply shock in the second half of last year accounted for most of the decline. In December and January, slowing demand contributed to the continued sell-off.

At this point so much oil has already been stored up that companies are running out of places to put in all. Just consider the words of Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn

“I think the oil market is trying to figure out an equilibrium price. The danger here, as we try and find an equilibrium price, at some point we may end up in a situation where storage capacity gets very, very limited. We may have too much physical oil for the available storage in certain locations. And it may be a locational issue.”

“And you may just see lots of oil in certain locations around the world where oil will have to price to such a cheap discount vis-a-vis the forward price that you make second tier, and third tier and fourth tier storage available.”

[…] “You could see the price fall relatively quickly to make that storage work in the market.”

The market for oil has fundamentally changed, and that means that the price of oil is not going to go back to where it used to be. In fact, Goldman Sachs economist Sven Jari Stehn says that we are probably heading for permanently lower prices

The big take-away: “[T]he decline in oil has been driven by an oversupplied global oil market,” wrote Goldman economist Sven Jari Stehn. As a result, “the new equilibrium price of oil will likely be much lower than over the past decade.”

So how low could prices ultimately go?

As I mentioned above, some analysts are throwing around $20 as a target number

The recent surge in oil prices is just a “head-fake,” and oil as cheap as $20 a barrel may soon be on the way, Citigroup said in a report on Monday as it lowered its forecast for crude.

Despite global declines in spending that have driven up oil prices in recent weeks, oil production in the U.S. is still rising, wrote Edward Morse, Citigroup’s global head of commodity research. Brazil and Russia are pumping oil at record levels, and Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran have been fighting to maintain their market share by cutting prices to Asia. The market is oversupplied, and storage tanks are topping out.

A pullback in production isn’t likely until the third quarter, Morse said. In the meantime, West Texas Intermediate Crude, which currently trades at around $52 a barrel, could fall to the $20 range “for a while,” according to the report.

Keep in mind that the price of oil is already low enough to be a total nightmare for the global financial system if it stays here for the rest of 2015.

If we go down to $20 and stay there, a global financial meltdown is virtually guaranteed.

Meanwhile, the “fracking boom” in the United States that generated so many jobs, so much investment and so much economic activity is now turning into a “fracking bust”

The fracking-for-oil boom started in 2005, collapsed by 60% during the Financial Crisis when money ran out, but got going in earnest after the Fed had begun spreading its newly created money around the land. From the trough in May 2009 to its peak in October 2014, rigs drilling for oil soared from 180 to 1,609: multiplied by a factor of 9 in five years! And oil production soared, to reach 9.2 million barrels a day in January.

It was a great run, but now it is over.

In the months ahead, the trickle of good paying oil industry jobs that are being lost right now is going to turn into a flood.

And this boom was funded with lots and lots of really cheap money from Wall Street. I like how Wolf Richter described this in a recent article

That’s what real booms look like. They’re fed by limitless low-cost money – exuberant investors that buy the riskiest IPOs, junk bonds, leveraged loans, and CLOs usually indirectly without knowing it via their bond funds, stock funds, leveraged-loan funds, by being part of a public pension system that invests in private equity firms that invest in the boom…. You get the idea.

As all of this bad paper unwinds, a lot of people are going to lose an extraordinary amount of money.

Don’t get caught with your pants down. You will want your money to be well away from the energy industry long before this thing collapses.

And of course in so many ways what we are facing right now if very reminiscent of 2008. So many of the same patterns that have played out just prior to previous financial crashes are happening once again. Right now, oil rigs are shutting down at a pace that is almost unprecedented. The only time in recent memory that we have seen anything like this was just before the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. Here is more from Wolf Richter

In the latest reporting week, drillers idled another 84 rigs, the second biggest weekly cut ever, after idling 83 and 94 rigs in the two prior weeks. Only 1056 rigs are still drilling for oil, down 443 for the seven reporting weeks so far this year and down 553 – or 34%! – from the peak in October.

Never before has the rig count plunged this fast this far:

Fracking Bust

What if the fracking bust, on a percentage basis, does what it did during the Financial Crisis when the oil rig count collapsed by 60% from peak to trough? It would take the rig count down to 642!

But even though rigs are shutting down like crazy, U.S. production of oil has continued to rise

Rig counts have long been used to help predict future oil and gas production. In the past week drillers idled 98 rigs, marking the 10th consecutive decline. The total U.S. rig count is down 30 percent since October, an unprecedented retreat. The theory goes that when oil rigs decline, fewer wells are drilled, less new oil is discovered, and oil production slows.

But production isn’t slowing yet. In fact, last week the U.S. pumped more crude than at any time since the 1970s. “The headline U.S. oil rig count offers little insight into the outlook for U.S. oil production growth,” Goldman Sachs analyst Damien Courvalin wrote in a Feb. 10 report.

Look, it should be obvious to anyone with even a basic knowledge of economics that the stage is being set for a massive financial meltdown.

This is just the kind of thing that can plunge us into a deflationary depression. And when you combine this with the ongoing problems in Europe and in Asia, it is easy to see that a “perfect storm” is brewing on the horizon.

Sadly, a lot of people out there will choose not to believe until the day the crisis arrives.

By then, it will be too late to do anything about it.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

It Is About To Get Ugly: Oil Is Crashing And So Is Greece

Hindenburg Disaster - Public Domain

The price of oil collapsed by more than 8 percent on Wednesday, and a decision by the European Central Bank has Greece at the precipice of a complete and total financial meltdown. What a difference 24 hours can make. On Tuesday, things really seemed like they were actually starting to get better. The price of oil had rallied by more than 20 percent since last Thursday, things in Europe seemed like they were settling down, and there appeared to be a good deal of optimism about how global financial markets would perform this month. But now fear is back in a big way. Of course nobody should get too caught up in how the markets behave on any single day. The key is to take a longer term point of view. And the fact that the markets have been on such a roller coaster ride over the past few months is a really, really bad sign. When things are calm, markets tend to steadily go up. But when the waters start really getting choppy, that is usually a sign that a big move down in on the horizon. So the huge ups and the huge downs that we have witnessed in recent days are likely an indicator that rough seas are ahead.

A stunning decision that the European Central Bank has just made has set the stage for a major showdown in Europe. The ECB has decided that it will no longer accept Greek government bonds as collateral from Greek banks. This gives the European Union a tremendous amount of leverage in negotiations with the new Greek government. But in the short-term, this could mean some significant pain for the Greek financial system. The following is how a CNBC article described what just happened…

“The European Central Bank is telling the Greek banking system that it will no longer accept Greek bonds as collateral for any repurchase agreement the Greek banks want to conduct,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said in a note.

“This is because the ECB only accepts investment grade paper and up until today gave Greece a waiver to this clause. That waiver has now been taken away and Greek banks now have to go to the Greek Central Bank and tap their Emergency Liquidity Assistance facility for funding,” he said.

And it certainly didn’t take long for global financial markets to respond to this news

The Greek stock market closed hours ago, but the exchange-traded fund that tracks Greek stocks, GREK, crashed during the final minutes of trading in the US markets.

The euro is also getting walloped, falling 1.3% against the US dollar.

The EUR/USD, which had recovered to almost 1.15, fell to nearly 1.13 on news of the action taken by the ECB.

But this is just the beginning.

In coming months, I fully expect the euro to head toward parity with the U.S. dollar.

And if the new Greek government will not submit to the demands of the EU, and Greece ultimately ends up leaving the common currency, it could potentially mean the end of the eurozone in the configuration that we see it today.

Meanwhile, the oil crash has taken a dangerous new turn.

Over the past week, we have seen the price of oil go from $43.58 to $54.24 to less than 48 dollars before rebounding just a bit at the end of the day on Wednesday.

This kind of erratic behavior is the exact opposite of what a healthy market would look like.

What we really need is a slow, steady climb which would take the price of oil back to at least the $80 level. In the current range in which it has been fluctuating, the price of oil is going to be absolutely catastrophic for the global economy, and the longer it stays in this current range the more damage that it is going to do.

But of course the problems that we are facing are not just limited to the oil price crash and the crisis in Greece. The truth is that there are birth pangs of the next great financial collapse all over the place. We just have to be honest with ourselves and realize what all of these signs are telling us.

And it isn’t just in the western world where people are sounding the alarm. All over the world, highly educated professionals are warning that a great storm is on the horizon. The other day, I had an economist in Germany write to me with his concerns. And in China, the head of the Dagong Rating Agency is declaring that we are going to have to face “a new world financial crisis in the next few years”

The world economy may slip into a new global financial crisis in the next few years, China’s Dagong Rating Agency Head Guan Jianzhong said in an interview with TASS news agency on Wednesday.

“I believe we’ll have to face a new world financial crisis in the next few years. It is difficult to give the exact time but all the signs are present, such as the growing volume of debts and the unsteady development of the economies of the US, the EU, China and some other developing countries,” he said, adding the situation is even worse than ahead of 2008.

For a long time, I have been pointing at the year 2015. But this year is not going to be the end of anything. Rather, it is just going to be the beginning of the end.

During the past few years, we have experienced a temporary bubble of false stability fueled by reckless money printing and an unprecedented accumulation of debt. But instead of fixing anything, those measures have just made the eventual crash even worse.

Now a day of reckoning is fast approaching.

Life as we know it is about to change dramatically, and most people are completely and totally unprepared for it.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Obama Films Anti-Oil Drilling Video–From a Jet

Barack_Obama_on_Air_Force_One - Public Domain

On Sunday, President Barack Obama released an anti-oil drilling environmental video shot aboard Air Force One–an aircraft that has a 53,611 gallon fuel capacity.

The video, which shows Obama aboard Air Force One, is interspersed with scenes of arctic animals and wildlife landscapes, reports National Public Radio (NPR). It’s all part of Obama’s ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) newly proposed plan to ban roads, permanent structures, vehicles, drilling, and mining on 12.28 million acres in ANWR.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Oil boomtown: ‘We could see 20,000 layoffs by June’

Oil Well - Photo by Ryan Lackey

As drilling companies cut back, there will eventually be less work for companies that provide ancillary services like fracking or trucking.

“I’d say we’ll lose 20,000 jobs by June,” said Arthaud.

That’s a big number for an area with a relatively small population. It could also be scary for a region that’s been growing so rapidly over the last few years, and building infrastructure to handle the boom.

In neighboring Watford City, Mayor Brent Sanford used a personal example to illustrate the growth: When his daughter was born in 2000, there were three other babies born in the county that year. Now there are 90 kids in her class.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

12 Signs That The Economy Is Really Starting To Bleed Oil Patch Jobs

Oil Rig Texas - Public Domain

The gravy train is over for oil workers. All over North America, people that felt very secure about their jobs just a few weeks ago are now getting pink slips. There are even some people that I know personally that this has happened to. The economy is really starting to bleed oil patch jobs, and as long as the price of oil stays down at this level the job losses are going to continue. But this is what happens when a “boom” turns into a “bust”. Since 2003, drilling and extraction jobs in the United States have doubled. And these jobs typically pay very well. It is not uncommon for oil patch workers to make well over $100,000 a year, and these are precisely the types of jobs that we cannot afford to be losing. The middle class is struggling mightily as it is. And just like we witnessed in 2008, oil industry layoffs usually come before a downturn in employment for the overall economy. So if you think that it is tough to find a good job in America right now, you definitely will not like what comes next.

At one time, I encouraged those that were desperate for employment to check out states like North Dakota and Texas that were experiencing an oil boom. Unfortunately, the tremendous expansion that we witnessed is now reversing

In states like North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas, which have reaped the benefits of a domestic oil boom, the retrenchment is beginning.

“Drilling budgets are being slashed across the board,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which represents more than 500 companies working in the state’s Bakken oil patch.

Smaller budgets and less extraction activity means less jobs.

Often, the loss of a job in this industry can come without any warning whatsoever. Just check out the following example from a recent Bloomberg article

The first thing oilfield geophysicist Emmanuel Osakwe noticed when he arrived back at work before 8 a.m. last month after a short vacation was all the darkened offices.

By that time of morning, the West Houston building of his oilfield services company was usually bustling with workers. A couple hours later, after a surprise call from Human Resources, Osakwe was adding to the emptiness: one of thousands of energy industry workers getting their pink slips as crude prices have plunged to less than $50 a barrel.

These jobs are not easy to replace. If oil industry veterans go down to the local Wal-Mart to get jobs, they will end up making only a very small fraction of what they once did. Every one of these jobs that gets lost is really going to hurt.

And at this point, the job losses in the oil industry are threatening to become an avalanche. The following are 12 signs that the economy is really starting to bleed oil patch jobs…

#1 It is being projected that the U.S. oil rig count will decline by 15 percent in the first quarter of 2015 alone. And when there are less rigs operating, less workers are needed so people get fired.

#2 Last week, 55 more oil rigs shut down. That was the largest single week decline in the United States in 24 years.

#3 Oilfield services provider Baker Hughes has announced that it plans to lay off 7,000 workers.

#4 Schlumberger, a big player in the energy industry, has announced plans to get rid of 9,000 workers.

#5 Suncor Energy is eliminating 1,000 workers from their oil projects up in Canada.

#6 Halliburton’s energy industry operations have slowed down dramatically, so they gave pink slips to 1,000 workers last month.

#7 Diamondback Energy just slashed their capital expenditure budget 40 percent to just $450 million.

#8 Elevation Resources plans to cut their capital expenditure budget from $227 million to $100 million.

#9 Concho Resources says that it plans to reduce the number of rigs that it is operating from 35 to 25.

#10 Tullow Oil has reduced their exploration budget from approximately a billion dollars to about 200 million dollars.

#11 Henry Resources President Danny Campbell has announced that his company is reducing activity “by up to 40 percent“.

#12 The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is projecting that 140,000 jobs related to the energy industry will be lost in the state of Texas alone during 2015.

And of course it isn’t just workers that are going to suffer.

Some states are extremely dependent on oil revenues. Just take the state of Alaska for instance. According to one recent news report, 90 percent of the budget of Alaska comes from oil revenue…

But oil is also a revenue source in more than two dozen states, especially for about a third of them. In Alaska, where up to 90 percent of the budget is funded by oil, new Gov. Bill Walker has ordered agency heads to start identifying spending cuts.

Sadly, it looks like oil is not going to rebound any time soon.

China, the biggest user of oil in the world, just reported that economic growth expanded at the slowest pace in 24 years. And concerns about oversupply drove the price of U.S. crude down another couple of dollars on Monday

Oil declined about 5 percent on Tuesday after the International Monetary Fund cut its 2015 global economic forecast on lower fuel demand and key producer Iran hinted prices could drop to $25 a barrel without supportive OPEC action.

U.S. crude, also known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, settled 4.7 percent lower at $46.39 a barrel, near its intraday bottom of $46.23.

There is only one other time in history when we have seen an oil price crash of this magnitude.

That was in 2008, just before the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Many believe that we are now on the verge of the next great financial crisis.

I hope that you are getting ready.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Why did this reporter “disappear” after predicting the collapse of oil prices?

Stock Market Crash Coming - Public Domain

He managed to forecast the current collapse in oil prices, and then he went missing. It’s been a year now.

His name is David Bird, and he is a reporter who covered energy markets for The Wall Street Journal. First, some background.

According to the blog Wall Street on Parade, Bird told his wife on a wintry afternoon about a year ago that he was headed out the door for a walk. He left his Long Hill, New Jersey, home in a red jacket with yellow zippers. Despite this colorful outerwear, and despite the searching by hundreds of volunteers and law enforcement officers, as well as the FBI, Bird disappeared without a trace.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

U.S. crude ends lower, posts 7th straight weekly loss

Oil Well - Photo by Ryan Lackey

Oil prices headed for a seventh straight weekly loss, and Brent fell below $49 a barrel on Friday, as key producers show no sign of cutting output in the face of a supply glut.

Global oil benchmarks hit their lowest since 2009 this week and are less than half their June levels, with Brent crude futures dropping $2.06 a barrel to $48.90 shortly before 11:30 a.m. ET. The contract lost almost 11 percent this week.

U.S. crude futures for February delivery settled 43 cents lower, at $48.36 a barrel, posting its seventh straight weekly loss.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

$200 billion in debt looms over American oil and gas

Oil - Public Domain

Plummeting Brent oil prices are putting pressure on North American shale, which has sunk hundreds of billions of dollars into investment, and could soon come crashing down.

Tempted by big returns, shale companies have borrowed more than $200 billion in bonds and loans, from Wall Street and London, to cover development and projects that may not even come to fruition. Oil producers’ debt since 2010 has increased more than 55 percent, and revenues have slowed, rising only 36 percent from September 2014, compared to 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Fracking, the process of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling on land is much more expensive than the average water-based oilrig. However, over the past years, it has become relatively cheap and fast. Energy companies, eager to get in on the riches of the American oil boom, have been borrowing money faster than they have been earning it.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Oilfield Writedowns Loom As Plummeting Prices Gut Drilling Values

Oil Rig - Public Domain

Tumbling crude prices will trigger a flood of oilfield writedowns starting this month after industry returns slumped to a 16-year low, calling into question half a decade of exploration.

With crude prices down more than 50 percent from their 2014 peak, fields as far-flung as Kazakhstan and Australia are no longer worth pumping, said a team of Citigroup Inc. analysts led by Alastair Syme. Companies on the hook for risky, high-cost projects that don’t make sense in a $48-a-barrel market include international titans such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and small wildcatters like Sanchez Energy Corp.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

If Oil Drops to $40 – Things Will Get TERRIFYING!

America On Fire

“Today’s plunging commodity prices represent something new under the sun. That is, they are the product of a fracturing monetary supernova that was a unique and never before experienced aberration caused by the 1990s rise, and then the subsequent lunatic expansion after the 2008 crisis, of a cancerous regime of Keynesian central banking,” states Miles Franklin.

He’s not the only one who thinks lower oil prices mean trouble.

In a recent interview, DoubleLine’s Jeff Gundlach explained his concerns about the oil market not being “unequivocally good” for everyone…

Question: The crash in the oil market is already causing jitters in the financial markets around the globe. What is your take on that?

Gundlach: Oil is incredibly important right now. If oil falls to around $40 a barrel then I think the yield on ten year treasury note is going to 1%. I hope it does not go to $40 because then something is very, very wrong with the world, not just the economy. The geopolitical consequences could be – to put it bluntly – terrifying.

What would that mean for stocks?

“…the approximate $50 trillion gain in the reported global GDP over the past two decades was an unhealthy and unsustainable economic deformation financed by a vast outpouring of fiat credit and false prices in the capital markets,” says David Stockman.

There Will Be No Rebound in Oil Prices

“Self-evidently, we are now in the cliff-diving phase, but unlike the bounce after the September 2008 financial crisis, there will be no rebound this time around.””

“Most of the world is at “peak debt”. That is, the ratio of total credit market debt to current national income ranges between 350% and 500% in every major economy; 
and that is the limit of what can be serviced even at today’s aberrantly low interest rates.”

US Rig Count Continues To Plunge To 10-Month Lows

Just as T.Boone Pickens warned, watching the US Rig Count is key to comprehending the looming crisis in oil. The last 4 weeks alone have seen a drop of over 100 rigs – the 2nd fastest slide since 2001 in percentage terms. This is the worst December to January since 2008/9. As Pickens noted, “demand is down” – “lower demand is the main driver” – “rig count is gonna fall – drop 500 rigs in next 6-9 months”.

Miles Franklin adds, “Fed and other Central banks’ relentless monetary bubbles created such massive overcapacity in commodity production, it could take years – or decades – to be worked through.  In other words, for all intents and purposes, the current plunge in commodity prices will be permanent.Nearly certainly in real terms, and possibly nominal terms as well – unless/until the Central banks inevitably resort to hyperinflation to “repay” their debts; which sadly, has been the route taken in every fiat regime throughout history.  

Thus, particularly given my ten years of experience as a Wall Street energy analyst, I am incredulous when I hear people speak of the “temporary” nature of the oil/commodity price decline; such as, for instance, Janet Yellen, who earlier this month described it as “transitory” – although clearly, she was lying through her teeth.

No, the multi-million barrel/day difference between supply and demand will decidedly NOT “correct” itself; particularly as demand continues to plunge, and supply to surge.  You see, unlike in 2008, Central banks cannot inflate the money supply without causing hyperinflation, and manufacturing capacity is dramatically larger, financed predominantly with high-yield debt from an insolvent banking system.

Saudi Arabia itself just announced a record trade deficit; and given that it, and most OPEC producers, are socialized nations relying on $100 oil to fund spending programs, there is essentially no chance they will cut production; as not only do they desperately need the revenues, but are low-cost producers; and thus, know they can destroy high-cost producers, such as the U.S. shale industry.  And sadly, this argument is not limited strictly to oil, but countless other resource-exploiting industries.

Except, of course, gold and silver – which are not only the polar opposite of “commodities” (given their maximum utility during times of financial crisis), but have been “treated to” the polar opposite supply effect of other commodities.

In other words, just as the Central banks funneled endless amounts of printed money into the production of industrial commodities,

their unrelenting suppression of gold, silver, and mining shares has created an essentially guaranteed production collapse; again, which could take decades to resolve, 
with the double whammy of occurring amidst historic demand.

At the Miles Franklin Blog, we have written of this all year; and given my five years’ experience in the mining industry, I can tell you unequivocally that this outcome was set in stone as far back as 2011, when the industry was already devastated by capital strangulation, surging production costs, and surging geopolitical risks.  

In October we concluded that a 50% silver production decline in the coming years is not unrealistic; and as for gold, it too will unquestionably experience dramatic production declines in the coming years, as essentially no material capacity is expected to offset unrelenting depletion, particularly in today’s suppressed price environment.

Of course, when prices do inevitably explode, it will no doubt be due to the Cartel finally losing control over financial markets.  This, in turn, will cause an historic “gold rush,” not just by investors but governments themselves – such as, for example, “repatriators” like Germany, Holland, and Austria.  Not to mention the “pink elephant” in the room – CHINA.

We can only warn you of the likelihood that 2015 may be the ugliest economically of our lifetimes; during which, the few assets one can PROTECT themselves with likely trade at huge premiums to today’s levels; that is, if you can find them at all.”

Article authored by Carol Serpa. You can find the original story right here.

A third of UK oil and gas drillers face bankruptcy

North Sea Oil - Photo by Berardo62

A third of Britain’s listed oil and gas companies are in danger of running out of working capital and even going bankrupt amid a slump in the value of crude, according to new research.

Financial risk management group Company Watch believes that 70pc of the UK’s publicly listed oil exploration and production companies are now unprofitable, racking up significant losses in the region of £1.8bn.

Such is the extent of the financial pressure now bearing down on highly leveraged drillers in the UK that Company Watch estimates that a third of the 126 quoted oil and gas companies on AIM and the London Stock Exchange are generating no revenues.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

The Saudi king is sick, and markets are watching

Saudi Arabia - Photo by Keepscases

The Saudi stock market fell after King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was hospitalized Wednesday, but any succession for the throne would likely be smooth for the country.

The Saudi royal family announced in March that 79-year-old Crown Prince Salman would succeed the king, and experts said those plans have eased most concerns about an impending transition. In fact, Saudi watchers told CNBC that the country’s oil, domestic and geopolitical policies should remain virtually unchanged when Salman takes over.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Make No Mistake, The Oil Slump Is Going To Hurt The United States Too

Oil Rig - Public Domain

The view that cheaper oil automatically boosts US GDP is overly simplistic. It assumes that US consumers will spend the money they save at the pump on US-made goods rather than imports. And it assumes consumers won’t save some of this windfall rather than spending it.

Those are shaky enough. But the story that cheap fuel for our cars is good for us is also based on an even more dangerous assumption: that the price of oil won’t fall far enough to wipe out the US shale sector, or at least seriously impact the volume of US oil production.

The nightmare for the US oil industry is that the only way that the market mechanism can eliminate the global oil glut—without a formal agreement between OPEC, Russia, and other producers to cut production—is if the price of oil falls below the “cash cost” of production, i.e., it reaches the price at which oil companies lose money on every single barrel they produce.

If oil doesn’t sink below the cash cost of production, then we’ll have more of what we’re seeing now. US shale producers, like oil companies the world over, are only going to continue to add to the global oil glut—now running at 2-4 million barrels per day—by keeping their existing wells going full tilt.

True, oil would have to fall even further if it’s going to rebalance the oil market by bankrupting the world’s most marginal producers. But that’s what’s bound to happen if the oversupply continues. And because North American shale producers have relatively high cash costs (in the $30 range), the Saudis could very well succeed in making a big portion of US and Canadian oil production disappear, if they are determined to.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

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