The Dow Plunges 372 Points As Trump Impeachment Talk Reaches A Fever Pitch On Capitol Hill

The wolves are circling, and members of Congress from both political parties are now openly talking about impeaching President Trump. On Wednesday, speculation of a looming Trump impeachment sent stocks plunging. The Dow was down 372 points, and the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both experienced their largest declines in eight months. This downturn was sparked by a New York Times report that said that a memo that FBI Director James Comey wrote in February stated that Trump requested that Comey “end the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn”. Democrats and Republicans are both jumping on this memo as potential evidence of “obstruction of justice”, but as I will explain below, even if everything that Comey is saying is true there is no evidence of obstruction of justice in this case. However, perception is often more important than reality, and at this moment Wall Street and many of Trump’s fellow Republicans in Washington believe that the Trump administration is coming apart at the seams. After the events of this week, it is clearer than ever that it is imperative that we get Trump some friends in Congress in 2018.

Following Trump’s surprise election victory in November, stocks surged as investors anticipated the implementation of a robust pro-business agenda.

But now that the Trump administration is deeply embroiled in controversy, many fear that Trump’s pro-business agenda will never become a reality

“A week ago, we were talking about the agenda grinding to a halt,” the Republican said. “Now, the train is going down the hill backwards.”

And even before Wednesday’s revelation about Comey’s memo, some top Republican leaders were already disavowing Trump’s agenda. For example, just check out what Bloomberg is reporting about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell…

Earlier Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s prepared to block Trump on many of his proposed budget cuts and won’t support major tax cuts that add to the deficit. Nor would he commit to building Trump’s border wall.

The financial markets had already “priced in” big tax cuts, reduced regulations and a massive increase in infrastructure spending.

If the markets believe that none of those things are going to happen now, that is likely to result in a significant downturn for stocks.

Of course the Democrats are just thrilled by these latest developments. U.S. Representative Jim Himes told MSNBC that the Republican agenda is now “lying in ruins on the floor of this building”

Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a member of the House intelligence committee, said the Republican legislative agenda “is lying in ruins on the floor of this building.”

“It was tenuous when they got through their so-called health care bill in the House. You can still see blood on the floor here for what it cost them to get that through the House,” Himes told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in an interview from the U.S. Capitol.

“Now, you know, things like tax reform , which is, you know, very, very difficult in the best of times — with that cloud, with this cloud, hanging over this building, that legislative agenda is all but gone.”

Previously, I have warned about the “gangster culture” in Washington D.C., and the truth is that the “Deep State” has been out to get Trump since the moment he was elected.

There are thousands upon thousands of laws that apply to the presidency, and the jackals among the establishment have been waiting for Trump to trip up just a little bit so that they can try to take him down for good.

And things are starting to move very quickly now.

Within hours of the revelation about the Comey memo, Democratic Representative Al Green called for Trump to be impeached from the House floor: “This is about what I believe. And this is where I stand. I will not be moved. The president must be impeached.”

It isn’t much of a surprise to see this sort of rush to judgment from the Democrats, but the speed at which Republicans are turning on Trump is more than just a little bit alarming…

-Senator John McCain raised the specter of impeachment when he told the press that the crisis surrounding Trump has reached “Watergate size and scale”.

-McCain’s partner in crime, Senator Lindsey Graham, released a statement that said he “will follow the facts — wherever they may lead”. Graham has always been one of Trump’s biggest critics, and he clearly is ready to move forward with impeachment.

-According to the Hill, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash is saying that if Comey’s memo is true “it would merit impeachment”.

-Commenting on Trump’s troubles, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) told reporters that obstruction of justice “has been considered an impeachable offense”.

But what none of them understand is that Trump has not committed any crime.

As a former lawyer with two law degrees (a JD and an LLM), it is my opinion that even if everything in Comey’s memo is true (and that is a big if), it still would not mean that President Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice.

And I am far from alone in this regard. Someone that agrees with me is ultra-liberal George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley

A good place to start would be with the federal law, specifically 18 U.S.C. 1503. The criminal code demands more than what Comey reportedly describes in his memo. There are dozens of different variations of obstruction charges ranging from threatening witnesses to influencing jurors. None would fit this case. That leaves the omnibus provision on attempts to interfere with the “due administration of justice.”

However, that still leaves the need to show that the effort was to influence “corruptly” when Trump could say that he did little but express concern for a longtime associate. The term “corruptly” is actually defined differently under the various obstruction provisions, but it often involves a showing that someone acted “with the intent to secure an unlawful benefit for oneself or another.” Encouraging leniency or advocating for an associate is improper but not necessarily seeking an unlawful benefit for him.

Then there is the question of corruptly influencing what? There is no indication of a grand jury proceeding at the time of the Valentine’s Day meeting between Trump and Comey. Obstruction cases generally are built around judicial proceedings — not Oval Office meetings.

You can’t charge someone with a crime just because you don’t like that person.

We are not supposed to be a nation that conducts witch hunts. The law is supposed to be applied equally to all of our citizens, and that includes the president of the United States.

I know that the left and the establishment Republicans that hate Trump would love to use the law as a weapon to remove Trump from office, but the truth is that there is no evidence that Trump has done anything wrong.

And if the law was actually applied objectively in our land, it is quite likely that Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton would all be in very hot water about now. The following comes from Mike Adams of Natural News

Keep in mind that these same discredited media outlets gave Obama a pass when he laundered $1.7 billion in cash and delivered it to Iran on a military cargo plane.

They are the same fake news media that looked the other way when Bill Clinton met with Loretta Lynch on the tarmac in a private meeting to pressure Lynch to back off any potential criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s long list of crimes.

They are the same anti-American media that said nothing when Hillary Clinton cheated during the presidential debates by receiving the debate questions in advance from CNN. (She also pre-sold her anticipated presidency by collecting tens of millions of dollars in “donations” and “speaking fees” from foreign interests.)

They are the same media that stood silent when former President Obama weaponized the IRS to suppress the speech of conservative non-profits. Similarly, nobody in the media seems to be alarmed at all that Obama abused the state surveillance apparatus to spy on his political opponents such as Rand Paul.

For much more on the crimes of the Clintons in particular, I would commend a book by Edward Klein entitled “Guilty as Sin: Uncovering New Evidence of Corruption and How Hillary Clinton and the Democrats Derailed the FBI Investigation”. The fact that neither of the Clintons have ever been to prison says a lot about the state of criminal justice in America today.

It is literally going to take a miracle for Trump to survive the next couple of years. If he can do that, we can definitely greatly strengthen his hand by sending hordes of Trump supporters to D.C. during the mid-term elections in 2018.

If the impeachment process moves forward, there are a whole lot of Republicans that would gleefully plunge knives into Trump’s back. So Trump needs to be very careful, because he doesn’t have a lot of true friends in Congress at this point.

This is why we can no longer vote for someone just because they carry the label of “Republican”. What we really need is a conservative revolution in this country, and my hope is that we can start a movement that will turn Washington D.C. completely upside down.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Have We Just Reached Peak Stock Market Absurdity?

Have you ever wondered how tech companies that have been losing hundreds of millions of dollars year after year can somehow be worth billions of dollars according to the stock market? Because I run a website called “The Economic Collapse“, there are naysayers out there that take glee in mocking me by pointing out how well the stock market has been doing. This week, the Dow is flirting with 21,000 and the Nasdaq crossed the 6,000 threshold for the first time ever. But a lot of the “soaring stocks” that have been fueling this rally have been losing giant mountains of money every single year, and just like the first tech bubble this madness will eventually come to an end in a spectacular fiery crash in which investors will lose trillions of dollars.

Anyone that cannot see that we are in the midst of an absolutely insane stock market bubble simply does not understand economics. Every valuation indicator that you can possibly point to says that we are in a bubble of epic proportions, and history teaches us that all bubbles inevitably come to an end at some point.

Earlier today, I came across an article by Graham Summers in which he persuasively argued that the price to sales ratio indicates that stock prices are far more inflated than they were just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008…

Sales cannot be gimmicked. Either money comes in the door, or it doesn’t. And if a company is caught messing around with its sales numbers, someone is going to jail.

For this reason, Price to Sales is perhaps the single most objective and clear means of measuring stock valuations.

This metric, above all others, you can point to and say, “this is definitively accurate and has not been messed with.”

On that note, as Bill King recently noted, today the S&P 500 is sporting a P/S ratio that is massively higher than it was in 2007 and is only marginally lower than it was during the Tech Bubble (the single largest stock bubble of all time for most measures).

To me, looking at profitability is even more important than looking at sales.

Large tech companies such as Twitter certainly have lots of revenue coming in, but many of them are deeply unprofitable.

In fact, Twitter has never made a yearly profit, and over the past decade it has actually lost more than 2 billion dollars.

But despite all of that, investors absolutely love Twitter stock. As I write this article, Twitter has a market cap of 11.5 billion dollars.

How in the world is that possible?

How can a company that has never made a single penny be worth more than 11 billion dollars?

Twitter is never going to be more popular than it is now. If it can’t make a profit at the peak of its popularity, when will it ever happen?

And guess what? ABC News says that Twitter actually just reported a decline in revenue for the most recent quarter…

Twitter has never turned a profit, and for the first time since going public in 2013, it reported a decline in revenue from the previous year. Its revenue was $548.3 million, down 8 percent.

Net loss was $61.6 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a loss of $79.7 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

The only reason why financial black holes such as Twitter can continue to exist is because investors have been willing to pour endless amounts of money into them, but now that bubble is starting to burst.

In his most recent article, Simon Black discussed how Silicon Valley investors are starting to become more cautious because so many of these “unicorns” are now going bust. One of the examples that he cited in his article was a company called Clinkle…

(Given that investing in an early stage company is high-risk, investors might provide a few hundred thousand dollars in funding, at most. Clinkle raised $25 million.)

The company went on to burn through just about every penny of its investors’ capital.

There were even photos that surfaced of the 21-year old CEO literally setting bricks of cash on fire.

At the end of the farce, Clinkle never actually managed to build its supposedly ‘world-changing’ product, and the website is now all but defunct.

Most of you may have never even heard of Clinkle, but I bet that you have definitely heard of Netflix.

Netflix has revolutionized how movies are delivered to our homes, and that revolution helped drive movie rental stores to the brink of extinction.

There is just one huge problem. It turns out that Netflix is losing hundreds of millions of dollars

Netflix might be my favorite example.

The company’s most recent earnings report for the period ending March 31, 2017 shows, yet again, negative Free Cash Flow of MINUS $422 million.

Not only is that a record loss, it’s 62% worse than in Q1/2016, and over twice as bad as Q1/2015.

Netflix just keeps losing more and more money.

But even though Netflix is losing money at a pace that is exceedingly difficult to imagine, investors absolutely love the company.

I just checked, and at this moment Netflix has a market cap of 68.4 billion dollars.

Sometimes I just want to scream because of the absurdity of it all.

Companies that are losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year at the peak of their popularity should not be worth billions of dollars.

Nobody can possibly argue that these enormously inflated stock prices are sustainable. Just like with every other stock market bubble in our history, this one is going to burst too, and I have been warning about this for quite a long time.

But for the moment, the naysayers are having their time to shine. Despite the fact that U.S. consumers are 12 trillion dollars in debt, and despite the fact that corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, and despite the fact that the federal government is 20 trillion dollars in debt, they seem to be convinced that this irrational stock market bubble can keep inflating indefinitely.

Perhaps they can all put their money where their mouth is by pouring all of their savings into Twitter, Netflix and other tech company stocks.

In the end, we will see who was right and who was wrong.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Virtually Everyone Agrees That Current Stock Market Valuations Are Not Sustainable And That A Great Crash Is Coming

Current stock market valuations are not sustainable. If there is one thing that I want you to remember from this article, it is that cold, hard fact. In 1929, 2000 and 2008, stock prices soared to absolutely absurd levels just before horrible stock market crashes. What goes up must eventually come down, and the stock market bubble of today will be no exception. In fact, virtually everyone in the financial community acknowledges that stock prices are irrationally high right now. Some are suggesting that there is still time to jump in and make money before the crash comes, while others are recommending a much more cautious approach. But what almost everyone agrees on is the fact that stocks cannot go up like this forever.

On Tuesday, the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all set brand new record highs once again. Overall, U.S. stocks are now up more than 10 percent since the election, and this is probably the greatest post-election stock market rally in our entire history.

But stocks were already tremendously overvalued before the election, and at this point stock prices have reached a level of ridiculousness only matched a couple of times before in the past 100 years.

Only the most extreme optimists will try to tell you that stock prices can stay this disconnected from economic reality indefinitely. We are in the midst of one of the most outrageous stock market bubbles of all time, and as MarketWatch has noted, all stock market bubbles eventually burst…

The U.S. stock market at this level reflects a combination of great demand, great complacency, and great greed. Stocks are clearly in a bubble, and like all bubbles, this one is about to burst.

If corporations were making tremendous amounts of money, rapidly rising stock prices would make logical sense.

But that is not the case at all. Corporate earnings for the fourth quarter of 2016 were actually quite dismal, and this disconnect between Wall Street and economic reality is starting to really bug financial analysts such as Brian Sozzi

The S&P 500 has gone 89 straight sessions without a 1% decline. Considering that Corporate America didn’t exactly light up on the top and bottom lines during the fourth quarter, such a streak is rather troublesome. Granted, the stock market is a forward-looking mechanism that appears to be trading on hopes that Trump’s unannounced stimulus and tax plans will be lifting economic growth in 2018. Even so, the inability of investors to at least acknowledge persistent struggles among companies and ongoing chaos in Washington is starting to become disturbing.

It is a basic fact of economics that stock prices should accurately reflect current and future earnings.

So if corporate earnings are at the same level they were at in 2011, why has the S&P 500 risen by 87 percent since then? The following comes from Wolf Richter

The S&P 500 stock index edged up to an all-time high of 2,351 on Friday. Total market capitalization of the companies in the index exceeds $20 trillion. That’s 106% of US GDP, for just 500 companies! At the end of 2011, the S&P 500 index was at 1,257. Over the five-plus years since then, it has ballooned by 87%!

These are superlative numbers, and you’d expect superlative earnings performance from these companies. Turns out, reality is not that cooperative. Instead, net income of the S&P 500 companies is now back where it first had been at the end of 2011.

The cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio was originally created by author Robert Shiller, and it is widely regarded as one of the best measures of the true value of stocks in existence. According to the Guardian, there have only been two times in our entire history when this ratio has been higher. One was just before the stock market crash of 1929, and the other was just before the bursting of the dotcom bubble…

Traditionally, one of the best yardsticks for whether shares are over-valued or under-valued has been the cyclically adjusted price earnings ratio constructed by the economist Robert Shiller. This ratio is currently at about 29 and has only twice been higher: in 1929 ahead of the Wall Street Crash, and in the last frantic months of the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s.

We can definitely wish for the current euphoria on Wall Street to last for as long as possible, but let there be absolutely no doubt that it is going to end at some point.

It would take a market decline of 40 or 50 percent to get the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio back to a level that makes economic sense. Let us hope that the market does not make such a violent move very rapidly, because that would likely be absolutely crippling for our financial system.

Markets tend to go down a lot faster than they go up, and every other major stock market bubble in U.S. history has ended very badly.

And this bubble is definitely overdue to burst. The bull market that led up to the great crash of 1929 lasted for 2002 days, and this week the current bull market will finally exceed that record.

Trying to pick a specific date for a market crash is typically a fruitless exercise, but market watchers are becoming very concerned about some of the signs that we are now seeing. For example, the “CCT indicator” is currently showing “the lowest bullish energy ever”

The first factor is the CCT indicator. This indicator is a proprietary internal measurement of the general volume of the New York Stock Exchange. The measurements take into account the institutional participation as a ratio of the overall volume. Also measured is the duration of heavy block buying in rallies.

The sum total of all the measurements now shows the lowest bullish energy ever — even lower than in 2008, just before the market crash.

In other words, this current bull market appears to be completely and utterly exhausted.

The laws of economics cannot be defied forever. Traditionally, commodity prices and stock prices have tended to move in unison. And this makes perfect sense, because commodity prices tend to rise when economic conditions are good, and in such an environment stock prices are typically going to move up.

But now we are in a time when commodity prices and stock prices have become completely disconnected. In order to bring this ratio back into line, the S&P 500 would need to fall by about 1000 points, and such a decline would cause a level of financial chaos that would be absolutely unprecedented.

This current stock market bubble has lasted much longer than many of the experts originally anticipated, but that just means that the eventual crash will likely be that much more devastating.

In the end, you don’t need to know all of the technical details in this article.

But what you do need to know is that current stock market valuations are not sustainable and that a great crash is coming.

It may not happen next week or next month, but it is going to happen. And when it does happen, it is likely to make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Tech Bubble 2.0 Is Bursting: Internet Stocks Are Already Down Half A Trillion Dollars Since Mid-2015

Tech Bubble 2.0

Do you remember how much stocks went down when the first dot-com bubble burst? Well, it is happening again, and tech stocks are already down more than half a trillion dollars since the middle of 2015. On Friday, the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped to its lowest level in more than 15 months, and it has now fallen more than 16 percent from the peak of the market. But of course some of the biggest names have fallen much more than that. Netflix is down 37 percent, Yahoo is down 39 percent, LinkedIn is down 60 percent, and Twitter is down more than 70 percent. If you go back through my previous articles, you will find that I specifically warned about Twitter again and again. Irrational financial bubbles like this always burst eventually, and many investors that got in at the very top are now losing extraordinary amounts of money.

On Friday, tech stocks got absolutely slammed as the bursting of dot-com bubble 2.0 accelerated once again. The following is how CNBC summarized the carnage…

The Nasdaq composite fell 3.25 percent, as Apple and the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) dropped 2.67 percent and 3.19 percent, respectively.

Also weighing on the index were Amazon and Facebook, which closed down 6.36 percent and 5.81 percent, respectively.

LinkedIn shares also tanked 43.63 percent after posting weak guidance on their quarterly results.

Overall, LinkedIn is now down a total of 60 percent from the peak of the market. But they are far from the only ones that have already seen their bubble burst.

Many of the biggest names in the tech world have gotten mercilessly hammered over the past six months of so. Just look at some of the famous brands that have already lost between 20 and 40 percent of their market caps…

Yahoo (YHOO) shares are off 39%, and Netflix (NFLX), the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 last year, is now off by 37% from its 52-week high.

Likewise, Priceline.com (PCLN) is off 31% and eBay (EBAY), 22%.

But there are other very big tech companies that have seen stock collapses that completely dwarf those numbers. Here are some more absolutely stunning statistics from USA Today

Twitter and Groupon are the biggest dogs of this boom, both off 70% from 52-week highs and well below their IPO prices.

FitBit shares have collapsed 70%, while Yelp’s valuation has shrunk by two-thirds.

Box, which has the distinction of posting quarterly net losses in excess of revenue, is down by half.

Match.com, the holding company for dating sites owned by parent Interactive Corp. that went public late last year, is down 39% from its high.

When your stock loses 70 percent of its value, that is a complete and utter collapse.

In the past, I have specifically singled out Twitter, Yelp and LinkedIn as tech stocks that were irrationally priced.

Hopefully people listened to those warnings and got out while the getting was good.

At the top of this article, I mentioned that tech stocks have already fallen in value by more than 500 billion dollars. The financial crisis that began in the middle of last year is now greatly accelerating, and Wall Street is starting to panic.

As stocks crash, many hedge funds are being absolutely pummeled. The following are just a few of the high profile names that are experiencing massive losses right now

Some of the biggest names to get trounced include:

►Pershing Square Capital Management, the publicly traded investment vehicle of billionaire hedgie Bill Ackman, fell 11% last month following a 20% decline last year, data from the web site shows.

►Larry Robbins’ Glenview Capital, famous for picking stocks that could benefit from Obamacare, dropped 13.65% in January following a decline of 18% last year, according to data from HSBC’s Hedge Weekly report, a copy of which was obtained by USA TODAY.

►Marcato International, a well-known activist fund run by Ackman protege Mick McGuire, fell 12.1% last month following a 9% loss last year, according to HSBC.

When you lose more than 10 percent of your money in a single month, that is not good.

And if I am right, this is just the beginning of our troubles.

And of course I am far from the only one warning that big problems are on the horizon. In fact, analysts at Citigroup just made international headlines by warning that the global economy was now trapped in a “death spiral”

Some analysts — including those at Citi — have turned bearish on the world economy this year, following an equity rout in January and weaker economic data out of China and the U.S.

The world appears to be trapped in a circular reference death spiral,” Citi strategists led by Jonathan Stubbs said in a report on Thursday.

Stronger U.S. dollar, weaker oil/commodity prices, weaker world trade/petrodollar liquidity, weaker EM (and global growth)… and repeat. Ad infinitum, this would lead to Oilmageddon, a ‘significant and synchronized’ global recession and a proper modern-day equity bear market.”

Signs of a significant economic downturn are all around us, and so many of the exact same patterns that played out during the last two stock market crashes are happening again, and yet most people continue to refuse to acknowledge what is taking place.

If you are waiting for this new dot-com bubble to crash, you can stop waiting, because it has already happened.

When your stock falls by 50, 60 or 70 percent, the game is already over.

But just like 2001 and 2008, many people out there will end up being paralyzed by indecision. Once again the mainstream media is insisting that there is no reason for panic and that everything will be just fine, and once again millions upon millions of ordinary Americans will be wiped out as the financial markets implode.

This is now the third time this has happened since the turn of the century.

How clueless have we become? The exact same thing keeps happening to us over and over and yet we still don’t get it.

Only this time around there isn’t going to be any sort of a “recovery” afterwards.

This is essentially our “third strike”, and the years ahead are going to be extremely bitter and painful for most people.

But if you want to believe that one of these politicians is going to come along and save America, you go ahead and keep on believing that.

Most people believe what they want to believe, and the capacity that many Americans have demonstrated for self-delusion is absolutely remarkable.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

The Financial Apocalypse Accelerates As Middle East Stocks Crash To Begin The Week

Apocalyptic - Public Domain

It looks like it is going to be another chaotic week for global financial markets. On Sunday, news that Iran plans to dramatically ramp up oil production sent stocks plunging all across the Middle East. Stocks in Kuwait were down 3.1 percent, stocks in Saudi Arabia plummeted 5.4 percent, and stocks in Qatar experienced a mammoth 7 percent decline. And of course all of this comes in the context of a much larger long-term decline for Middle Eastern stocks. At this point, Saudi Arabian stocks are down more than 50 percent from their 2014 highs. Needless to say, a lot of very wealthy people in Saudi Arabia are getting very nervous. Could you imagine waking up someday and realizing that more than half of your fortune had been wiped out? Things aren’t that bad in the U.S. quite yet, but it looks like another rough week could be ahead. The Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are all down at least 12 percent from their 52-week highs, and the Russell 2000 is already in bear market territory. Hopefully this week will not be as bad as last week, but events are starting to move very rapidly now.

Much of the chaos around the globe is being driven by the price of oil. At the end of last week the price of oil dipped below 30 dollars a barrel, and now Iran has announced plans “to add 1 million barrels to its daily crude production”

Iran could get more than five times as much cash from oil sales by year-end as the lifting of economic sanctions frees the OPEC member to boost crude exports and attract foreign investment needed to rebuild its energy industry.

The Persian Gulf nation will be able to access all of its revenue from crude sales after the U.S. and five other global powers removed sanctions on Saturday in return for Iran’s curbing its nuclear program. The fifth-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had been receiving only $700 million of each month’s oil earnings under an interim agreement, with the rest blocked in foreign bank accounts. Iran is striving to add 1 million barrels to its daily crude production and exports this year amid a global supply glut that has pushed prices 22 percent lower this month.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what this is going to do to the price of oil.

The price of oil has already fallen more than 20 percent so far in 2016, and overall it has declined by more than 70 percent since late 2014.

When the price of oil first started to fall, a lot of people out there were proclaiming that it would be really good for the U.S. economy. But I said just the opposite. And of course since that time we have seen an endless parade of debt downgrades, bankruptcies and job losses. 130,000 good paying energy jobs were lost in the United States in 2015 alone because of this collapse, and things just continue to get even worse. At this point, some are even calling for the federal government to intervene. For example, the following is an excerpt from a CNN article that was just posted entitled “Is it time to bail out the U.S. oil industry?“…

America’s once-booming oil industry is suddenly in deep financial trouble.

The epic crash in oil prices has wiped out tens of thousands of jobs, caused dozens of bankruptcies and spooked global financial markets.

The fallout is already being felt in oil-rich states like Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota, where home foreclosure rates are spiking and economic growth is slowing.

Now there are calls in at least some corners for the federal government to come to the rescue.

Is it just me, or is all of this really starting to sound a lot like 2008?

And of course it isn’t just the U.S. that is facing troubles. The global financial crisis that began during the second half of 2015 is rapidly accelerating, and chaos is erupting all over the planet. The following summary of what we have been seeing in recent days comes from Doug Noland

The world has changed significantly – perhaps profoundly – over recent weeks. The Shanghai Composite has dropped 17.4% over the past month (Shenzhen down 21%). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 8.2% over the past month, with Hang Seng Financials sinking 11.9%. WTI crude is down 26% since December 15th. Over this period, the GSCI Commodities Index sank 12.2%. The Mexican peso has declined almost 7% in a month, the Russian ruble 10% and the South African rand 12%. A Friday headline from the Financial Times: “Emerging market stocks retreat to lowest since 09.”

Trouble at the “Periphery” has definitely taken a troubling turn for the worse. Hope that things were on an uptrend has confronted the reality that things are rapidly getting much worse. This week saw the Shanghai Composite sink 9.0%. Major equities indexes were hit 8.0% in Russia and 5.0% in Brazil (Petrobras down 9%). Financial stocks and levered corporations have been under pressure round the globe. The Russian ruble sank 4.0% this week, increasing y-t-d losses versus the dollar to 7.1%. The Mexican peso declined another 1.8% this week. The Polish zloty slid 2.8% on an S&P downgrade (“Tumbles Most Since 2011”). The South African rand declined 3.0% (down 7.9% y-t-d). The yen added 0.2% this week, increasing 2016 gains to 3.0%. With the yen up almost 4% versus the dollar over the past month, so-called yen “carry trades” are turning increasingly problematic.

Closer to home, the crisis in Puerto Rico continues to spiral out of control. The following is an excerpt from a letter that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent to Congress on Friday

Although there are many ways this crisis could escalate further, it is clear that Puerto Rico is already in the midst of an economic collapse

Puerto Rico is already in default. It is shifting funds from one creditor to pay another and has stopped payment altogether on several of its debts. As predicted, creditors are filing lawsuits. The Government Development Bank, which provides critical banking and fiscal services to the central government, only avoided depleting its liquidity by halting lending activity and sweeping in additional deposits from other Puerto Rico governmental entities. A large debt payment of $400 million is due on May 1, and a broader set of payments are due at the end of June.

It isn’t Michael Snyder from The Economic Collapse Blog that is saying that Puerto Rico is “in the midst of an economic collapse”.

That is the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury that is saying it.

Those that have been eagerly anticipating a financial apocalypse are going to get what they have been waiting for.

Right now we are about halfway through January, and this is the worst start to a year for stocks ever. The Dow is down a total of 1,437 points since the beginning of 2016, and more than 15 trillion dollars of stock market wealth has been wiped out globally since last June.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people out there that are in denial.

There are a lot of people that still believe that this is just a temporary bump in the road and that things will return to “normal” very soon.

They don’t understand that this is just the beginning. What we have seen so far is just the warm up act, and much, much worse is yet to come.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

The Dow Falls Another 364 Points And We Are Now Down 2200 Points From The Peak Of The Market

Falling - Public Domain

It was another day of utter carnage on Wall Street. The Dow was down another 364 points, the S&P 500 broke below 1900, and the Nasdaq had a much larger percentage loss than either of them. The Russell 2000 has now fallen 22 percent from the peak, and it has officially entered bear market territory. After 13 days, this remains the worst start to a year for stocks ever, and trillions of dollars of stock market wealth has already been wiped out globally. Meanwhile, junk bonds continue their collapse. JNK got hammered all the way down to 33.06 as bond investors race for the exits. In case you were wondering, this is exactly what a financial crisis look like.

Many of the “experts” had been proclaiming that “things are different this time” and that stocks could defy gravity forever.

Now we seeing that was not true at all.

So how far could stocks ultimately fall?

I have been telling my readers that stocks still need to fall about another 30 percent just to get to a level that is considered to be “normal” be historical standards, but the truth is that they could eventually fall much farther than that.

Just this week, Societe Generale economist Albert Edwards made headlines all over the world with his prediction that we could see the S&P 500 drop by a total of 75 percent…

If I am right and we have just seen a cyclical bull market within a secular bear market, then the next recession will spell real trouble for investors ill-prepared for equity valuations to fall to new lows. To bottom on a Shiller PE of 7x would see the S&P falling to around 550.

I will repeat that: If I am right, the S&P would fall to 550, a 75% decline from the recent 2100 peak. That obviously will be a catastrophe for the economy via the wealth effect and all the Fed’s QE hard work will turn dust.

That is why I believe the Fed will fight the next bear market with every weapon available including deeply negative Fed Funds rates in addition to more QE. Indeed, negative policy rates will become ubiquitous.

Most believe a 75% equity bear market to be impossible. But those same people said something similar prior to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. They, including the Fed, failed to predict the vulnerability of the US economy that would fall into deep recession, well before Lehman’s went bust in September 2008.

Other than stocks, there are three key areas that I want my readers to keep an eye on during the weeks ahead…

1. The Price Of Oil – The price of oil doesn’t have to go one penny lower to continue causing catastrophic damage in the financial world. If we hover around 30 dollars a barrel, we will see more bankruptcies, more defaults, more layoffs and more carnage for energy stocks. But of course it is quite conceivable that the price of oil could easily slide a lot farther. Just check out some of the predictions that some of the biggest banks in the entire world are now making

Just this week Morgan Stanley warned that the super-strong U.S. dollar could drive crude oil to $20 a barrel. Not to be outdone, Royal Bank of Scotland said $16 is on the horizon, comparing the current market mood to the days before the implosion of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Standard Chartered doesn’t think those dire predictions are dark enough. The British bank said in a new research report that oil prices could collapse to as low as $10 a barrel — a level unseen since November 2001.

2. Junk Bonds – This is something that I have written about repeatedly. Right now, we are witnessing an epic collapse of the junk bond market, just like we did just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008. As I mentioned above, Wednesday was a particularly brutal day for junk bonds, and Jeffrey Gundlach seems convinced that the worst is still yet to come…

He seemed to leave his most dire predictions for junk bonds, a part of the market he’s been bearish on for years. Gundlach believes hedge funds investing in risky debts face major liquidity risks if they are forced to exit positions amid investor redemptions. “We could be looking at a real ugly situation in the first quarter of 2016,” Gundlach said on a Tuesday call with investors, when referring to redemptions.

Because many hedge funds operate with leverage, he raised an alarming prospect that those who don’t redeem could be left with losses far more severe than their marks indicate. As the Federal Reserve raises rates, redemptions combined with tightening credit conditions could create major pricing dislocations.

3. Emerging Markets – We have not seen money being pulled out of emerging markets at this kind of rate in decades. We are seeing a repeat of the conditions that caused the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s and the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s. Only this time what we are witnessing is truly global in scope, and central bankers are beginning to panic. The following comes from Wolf Richter

Last year was a terrible year, probably worse than 2009,” the head of Mexico’s central bank told a conference of central bankers in Paris on Tuesday. It was the first year since 1988 that emerging markets saw net capital outflows, according to the Institute of International Finance, a Washington-based association of global banks and finance houses.

In December more than $3.1 billion fled emerging market funds. If anything, the New Year has been worse.

“I don’t have any data yet for the first week of 2016 but it’s probably going to be very, very, very bad,” Carstens said. If conditions do not improve, he warned, central banks in emerging markets may have little choice but to adopt a more “radical” approach to monetary policy, including intervening in domestic bonds and securities markets.

In addition to everything that I just shared with you, we got several other very troubling pieces of news on Wednesday…

-Canadian stocks continued their dramatic plunge and have now officially entered a bear market.

-PC sales just hit an eight year low.

-GoPro just announced that it is getting rid of 7 percent of its total workforce.

The bad news is coming fast and furious now. The snowball that started rolling downhill about halfway last year has set off an avalanche, and panic has gripped the financial marketplace.

But my readers knew all of this was coming in advance. What we are witnessing right now is simply the logical extension of trends that have been building for months. The global financial crisis that started during the second half of 2015 is now bludgeoning Wall Street mercilessly, and investors are in panic mode.

So what comes next?

We have never seen a year start like this, so it is hard to say. And if there is some sort of a major “trigger event” in our near future, we could see some single day crashes that make history.

Either way, the hounds have now been released, and it is going to be exceedingly difficult to get them back into the barn.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Bear Market: The Average U.S. Stock Is Already Down More Than 20 Percent

Angry Bear

The stock market is in far worse shape than we are being told. As you will see in this article, the average U.S. stock is already down more than 20 percent from the peak of the market. But of course the major indexes are not down nearly that much. As the week begins, the S&P 500 is down 9.8 percent from its 2015 peak, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 10.7 percent from its 2015 peak, and the Nasdaq is down 11.0 percent from its 2015 peak. So if you only look at those indexes, you would think that we are only about halfway to bear market territory. Unfortunately, a few high flying stocks such as Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google have been masking a much deeper decline for the rest of the market. When the market closed on Friday, 229 of the stocks on the S&P 500 were down at least 20 percent from their 52 week highs, and when you look at indexes that are even broader things are even worse.

For example, let’s take a look at the Standard & Poor’s 1500 index. According to the Bespoke Investment Group, the average stock on that index is down a staggering 26.9 percent from the peak of the market…

Indeed, the Standard & Poor’s 1500 index – a broad basket of large, mid and small company stocks – shows that the average stock’s distance from its 52-week high is 26.9%, according to stats compiled by Bespoke Investment Group through Friday’s close.

“That’s bear market territory!” says Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke Investment Group, the firm that provided USA TODAY with the gloomy price data.

So if the average stock has fallen 26.9 percent, what kind of market are we in?

To me, that is definitely bear market territory.

The rapid decline of the markets last week got the attention of the entire world, but of course this current financial crisis did not begin last week. These stocks have been falling since the middle part of last year. And what Bespoke Investment Group discovered is that small cap stocks have been hurt the most by this current downturn

Here’s a statistical damage assessment, provided by Bespoke Investment Group, of the pain being felt by the average U.S. stock in the S&P 1500 index:

* Large-company stocks in the S&P 500 index are down 22.6%, on average, from peaks hit in the past 12 months.

* Mid-sized stocks in the S&P 400 index are sporting an average decline of 26.5% since hitting 52-week highs.

* Small stocks in the S&P 600 index are the farthest distance away from their recent peaks. The average small-cap name is 30.7% below its high in the past year.

After looking at those numbers, is there anyone out there that still wants to try to claim that “nothing is happening”?

Over the past six months or so, the sector that has been hit the hardest has been energy. According to CNN, the average energy stock has now fallen 52 percent…

And then there’s energy. The dramatic decline in crude oil prices rocked the energy space. The average energy stock is now down a whopping 52% from its 52-week high, according to Bespoke. The only thing worse than that is small-cap energy, which is down 61%.

If you go up to an energy executive and try to tell him that “nothing is happening”, you might just get punched in the face.

And it is very important to keep in mind that stocks still have a tremendous distance to fall. They are still massively overvalued by historical standards, and this is something that I have covered repeatedly on my website in recent months.

So how far could they ultimately fall?

Well, Dr. John Hussman is convinced that we could eventually see total losses in the 40 to 55 percent range…

I remain convinced that the U.S. financial markets, particularly equities and low-grade debt, are in a late-stage top formation of the third speculative bubble in 15 years.

On the basis of the valuation measures most strongly correlated with subsequent market returns (and that havefully retained that correlation even across recent market cycles), current extremes imply 40-55% market losses over the completion of the current market cycle, with zero nominal and negative real total returns for the S&P 500 on a 10-to-12-year horizon.

These are not worst-case scenarios, but run-of-the-mill expectations.

If the market does fall about 40 percent, that will just bring us into the range of what is considered to be historically “normal”. If some sort of major disaster or emergency were to strike, that could potentially push the market down much, much farther.

And with each passing day, we get even more numbers which seem to indicate that we are entering a very, very deep global recession.

For instance, global trade numbers are absolutely collapsing. This is a point that Raoul Pal hammered home during an interview with CNBC just the other day…

Looking at International Monetary Fund data, “the year-over-year change in global exports is at the second lowest level since 1958,” Raoul Pal, Publisher of the Global Macro Investor told CNBC’s”Fast Money”this week.

Basically, it means economies around the world are shipping their goods at near historically low levels. “Something massive is going on in the global economy and people are missing it,” Pal added.

The steep decline in 2015 exports is second only to 2009, when the global recession led to a 37 percent drop in export growth.

We have never seen global exports collapse this much outside of a recession.

Clearly we are witnessing a tremendous shift, and it boggles my mind that more people cannot see it.

As for this current wave of financial turmoil, it is hard to say how long it will last. As I write this article, markets all over the Middle East are imploding, stocks in Asia are going crazy, currencies are crashing, and carry trades are being unwound at a staggering pace. But at some point we should expect the level of panic to subside a bit.

If things do temporarily calm down, don’t let that fool you. Global financial markets have not been this fragile since 2008. Any sort of a trigger event is going to cause stocks all over the world to slide even more.

And let us not minimize the damage that has already been done one bit. As you just read, the average stock on the Standard & Poor’s 1500 index is already down 26.9 percent. The financial crisis that erupted during the second half of 2015 has already resulted in trillions of dollars of wealth being wiped out.

When people ask me when the “next financial crisis” is coming, I have a very simple answer for them.

The next financial crisis is not coming.

The next financial crisis is already here.

An angry bear has been released after nearly seven years in hibernation, and the entire world is going to be absolutely shocked by what happens next.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Stock Market Crash 2016: This Is The Worst Start To A Year For Stocks Ever

Stock Market Collapse 2016

We have never had a year start the way that 2016 has started. In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 have both posted their worst four-day starts to a year ever. Canadian stocks are now down 21 percent since September, and it has been an absolute bloodbath in Europe over the past four days. Of course the primary catalyst for all of this is what has been going on in China. There has been an emergency suspension of trading in China two times within the past four days, and nobody is quite certain what is going to happen next. Eventually this wave of panic selling will settle down, but that won’t mean that this crisis will be over. In fact, what is coming is going to be much worse than what we have already seen.

On Thursday I was doing a show with some friends, and we were amazed that stocks just seemed to keep falling and falling and falling. The Dow closed down 392 points, and the NASDAQ got absolutely slammed. At this point, the Dow and the NASDAQ are both officially in “correction territory”, and some of the talking heads on television are warning that this could be the beginning of a “bear market”. But of course some of the other “experts” are insisting that this is just a temporary bump in the road.

But what everyone can agree on is that we have never seen a start to a year like this one. The following comes from CNN

The global market freakout of 2016 just got worse.

The latest scare came on Thursday as China’s stock market crashed 7% overnight and crude oil plummeted to the lowest level in more than 12 years.

The Dow dropped 392 points on Thursday. The S&P 500 fell 2.4%, while the Nasdaq tumbled 3%.

The wave of selling has knocked the Dow down 911 points, or more than 5% so far this year. That’s the worst four-day percentage loss to start a year on record, according to FactSet stats that go back to 1897.

When CNN starts sounding like The Economic Collapse Blog, you know that things are really bad. I particularly like their use of the phrase “global market freakout”. I might have to borrow that one.

Even some of the biggest and most trusted stocks are plummeting. For instance, Apple dropped to $96.45 on Thursday. It is now down a total of 28 percent since hitting a record high of more than 134 dollars a share back in April.

So that means that if someone put all of their retirement money into Apple stock last April (which may have seemed like a really good idea at that time), by now more than one-fourth of that money is gone.

For months, I have been warning that the exact same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008 were happening again. To me, the parallels between 2008 and 2015/2016 were just uncanny. And now other very prominent names are making similar comparisons. According to the Washington Post, George Soros says that the way this new crisis is unfolding “reminds me of the crisis we had in 2008″…

Influential investor George Soros said that China had a “major adjustment problem” on its hands. “I would say it amounts to a crisis,” he told an economic forum in Sri Lanka, according to Bloomberg News. “When I look at the financial markets, there is a serious challenge which reminds me of the crisis we had in 2008.”

Don’t get me wrong – I am certainly not a supporter of George Soros. My point is that we are starting to hear a lot of really ominous talk from a lot of different directions. All over the world, people are starting to understand that the next great financial crisis is already here.

As I write this tonight, I just feel quite a bit of sadness. A lot of hard working people are going to lose a lot of money this year, and that includes people that I know personally. I wish that my voice had been clearer and louder. I wish that I could have done more to get people to understand what was coming. I wish that my warnings could have made more of a difference.

I just think about how I would feel if everything that I had worked for all my life was suddenly wiped out. And that is what is going to end up happening to some of these people. When you lose everything, it can be absolutely debilitating.

You only make money in the markets if you get out in time. And unfortunately, most of the general population will be like deer in the headlights and won’t know which way to move.

There will be up days for the markets in our near future. But don’t be fooled by them. It is important to remember that some of the greatest up days in U.S. stock market history were right in the middle of the stock market crash of 2008. So don’t let a rally fool you into thinking that the crisis is over.

The financial crisis that began in the second half of 2015 is now accelerating, and everything that we have witnessed over the past few days is just a natural extension of what has already been happening.

Personally, I am just really looking forward to this weekend when I will hopefully get caught up on some rest. Plus, my Washington Redskins will be hosting a playoff game on Sunday, and if they find a way to win that game that will put me in a particularly positive mood.

It is good to enjoy these simple pleasures while we still can. Unprecedented chaos is coming this year, and we are all going to need strength and courage for what is ahead.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Most People Cannot Even Imagine That An Economic Collapse Is Coming

Thinking - Public Domain

The idea that the United States is on the brink of a horrifying economic crash is absolutely inconceivable to most Americans. After all, the economy has been relatively stable for quite a few years and the stock market continues to surge to new heights. On Friday, the Dow and the S&P 500 both closed at brand new all-time record highs. For the year, the S&P 500 is now up 9 percent and the Nasdaq is now up close to 11 percent. And American consumers are getting ready to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season. That is an amount of money that is larger than the entire economy of Sweden. So how in the world can anyone be talking about economic collapse? Yes, many will concede, we had a few bumps in the road back in 2008 but things have pretty much gotten back to normal since then. Why be concerned about economic collapse when there is so much stability all around us?

Unfortunately, this brief period of stability that we have been enjoying is just an illusion.

The fundamental problems that caused the financial crisis of 2008 have not been fixed. In fact, most of our long-term economic problems have gotten even worse.

But most Americans have such short attention spans these days. In a world where we are accustomed to getting everything instantly, news cycles only last for 48 hours and 2008 might as well be an eternity ago.

In the United States today, our entire economic system is based on debt.

Without debt, very little economic activity happens. We need mortgages to buy our homes, we need auto loans to buy our vehicles and we need our credit cards to do our shopping during the holiday season.

So where does all of that debt come from?

It comes from the banks.

In particular, the “too big to fail banks” are the heart of this debt-based system.

Do you have a mortgage, an auto loan or a credit card from one of these “too big to fail” institutions? A very large percentage of the people that will read this article do.

And a lot of people might not like to hear this, but without those banks we essentially do not have an economy.

When Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, it almost resulted in the meltdown of our entire system. The stock market collapsed and we experienced an absolutely wicked credit crunch.

Unfortunately, that was just a small preview of what is coming.

Even though a few prominent “experts” such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman have declared that the “too big to fail” problem is “over”, the truth is that it is now a bigger crisis than ever before.

Compared to five years ago, the four largest banks in the country are now almost 40 percent larger. The following numbers come from a recent article in the Los Angeles Times

Just before the financial crisis hit, Wells Fargo & Co. had $609 billion in assets. Now it has $1.4 trillion. Bank of America Corp. had $1.7 trillion in assets. That’s up to $2.1 trillion.

And the assets of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the nation’s biggest bank, have ballooned to $2.4 trillion from $1.8 trillion.

At the same time that those banks have been getting bigger, 1,400 smaller banks have completely disappeared from the banking industry.

That means that we are now more dependent on these gigantic banks than ever.

At this point, the five largest banks account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States, and the six largest banks account for 67 percent of all assets in our financial system.

If someone came along and zapped those banks out of existence, our economy would totally collapse overnight.

So the health of this handful of immensely powerful banking institutions is absolutely critical to our economy.

Unfortunately, these banks have become deeply addicted to gambling.

Have you ever known people that allowed their lives to be destroyed by addictions that they could never shake?

Well, that is what is happening to these banks. They have transformed Wall Street into the largest casino in the history of the world. Most of the time, their bets pay off and they make lots of money.

But as we saw back in 2008, when they miscalculate things can fall apart very rapidly.

The bets that I am most concerned about are known as “derivatives“. In essence, they are bets about what will or will not happen in the future. The big banks use very sophisticated algorithms that are supposed to help them be on the winning side of these bets the vast majority of the time, but these algorithms are not perfect. The reason these algorithms are not perfect is because they are based on assumptions, and those assumptions come from people. They might be really smart people, but they are still just people.

If things stay fairly stable like they have the past few years, the algorithms tend to work very well.

But if there is a “black swan event” such as a major stock market crash, a collapse of European or Asian banks, a historic shift in interest rates, an Ebola pandemic, a horrific natural disaster or a massive EMP blast is unleashed by the sun, everything can be suddenly thrown out of balance.

Acrobat Nik Wallenda has been making headlines all over the world for crossing vast distances on a high-wire without a safety net. Well, that is essentially what our “too big to fail” banks are doing every single day. With each passing year, these banks have become even more reckless, and so far there have not been any serious consequences.

But without a doubt, someday there will be.

What would you say about a bookie that took $200,000 in bets but that only had $10,000 to cover those bets?

You would certainly call that bookie a fool.

But that is what our big banks are doing.

Right now, JPMorgan Chase has more than 67 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 2.5 trillion dollars in assets.

Right now, Citibank has nearly 60 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 1.9 trillion dollars in assets.

Right now, Goldman Sachs has more than 54 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it has less than a trillion dollars in assets.

Right now, Bank of America has more than 54 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 2.2 trillion dollars in assets.

Right now, Morgan Stanley has more than 44 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it has less than a trillion dollars in assets.

Most people have absolutely no idea how incredibly vulnerable our financial system really is.

The truth is that these “too big to fail” banks could collapse at any time.

And when they fail, our economy will fail too.

So let us hope and pray that this brief period of false stability lasts for as long as possible.

Because when it ends, all hell is going to break loose.

(Originally posted at The Economic Collapse Blog)

From This Day Forward, We Will Watch How The Stock Market Performs Without The Fed’s Monetary Heroin

Money - Public Domain

Mark this day on your calendars. The Dow is at 16974, the S&P 500 is at 1982 and the NASDAQ is at 4549. From this day forward, we will be looking to see how the stock market performs without the monetary heroin that the Federal Reserve has been providing to it. Since November 2008, the Fed has created about 3.5 trillion dollars and pumped it into the financial system. An excellent chart illustrating this in graphic format can be found right here. Pretty much everyone agrees that this has been a tremendous boon for the financial markets. As you will see below, even former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan says that quantitative easing was “a terrific success” as far as boosting stock prices. But he also says that QE has not been very helpful to the real economy at all. In essence, the entire quantitative easing program was a massive 3.5 trillion dollar gift to Wall Street. If that sounds unfair to you, that is because it is unfair.

So why is the Federal Reserve finally ending quantitative easing?

Well, officially the Fed says that it is because there has been so much improvement in the labor market

The Fed’s language, however, did suggest that they were getting more comfortable with the economy’s improvement. It cited “solid job gains,” citing a “substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market,” as well as pointing out that “underutilization” of labor resources is “gradually diminishing.”

But that is not true at all.

The percentage of Americans that are working right now is about the same as it was during the depths of the last recession. Just check out this chart…

Employment Population Ratio 2014

So there has been no “employment recovery” to speak of at all.

And as I wrote about yesterday, the percentage of Americans that are homeowners has been steadily falling throughout the quantitative easing era…

Homeownership Rate 2014

So let’s put the lie that quantitative easing helped the “real economy” to rest. It did no such thing.

Instead, what QE did do was massively inflate stock prices.

The following is an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal report about a speech that former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan made to the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday

Mr. Greenspan’s comments to the Council on Foreign Relations came as Fed officials were meeting in Washington, D.C., and expected to announce within hours an end to the bond purchases.

He said the bond-buying program was ultimately a mixed bag. He said that the purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities did help lift asset prices and lower borrowing costs. But it didn’t do much for the real economy.

Effective demand is dead in the water” and the effort to boost it via bond buying “has not worked,” said Mr. Greenspan. Boosting asset prices, however, has been “a terrific success.”

Moving forward, what did Greenspan tell the members of the Council on Foreign Relations that they should do with their money?

This might surprise you…

Mr. Greenspan said gold is a good place to put money these days given its value as a currency outside of the policies conducted by governments.

Wow.

It almost sounds like Greenspan has been reading the Economic Collapse Blog.

Since November 2008, every time there has been an interruption in the Fed’s quantitative easing program, the stock market has gone down substantially.

Will that happen again this time?

Well, the market is certainly primed for it. We are repeating so many of the very same patterns that we saw just prior to the last two financial crashes.

For example, there have been three dramatic peaks in margin debt in the last twenty years.

One of those peaks came early in the year 2000 just before the dotcom bubble burst.

The second of those peaks came in the middle of 2007 just before the subprime mortgage meltdown happened.

And the third of those peaks happened earlier this year.

You can view a chart that shows these peaks very clearly right here.

The Federal Reserve appears to be confident that the stock market will be okay without the monetary heroin that it has been supplying.

We shall see.

But it should be deeply troubling to all Americans that this unelected, unaccountable body of central bankers has far more power over our economy than anyone else does. During election season, our politicians get up and give speeches about what they will “do for the economy”, but the truth is that they are essentially powerless compared to the immense power that the Federal Reserve wields. Just a few choice words from Janet Yellen can cause the financial markets to rise or fall dramatically. The same cannot be said of any U.S. Senator.

We are told that monetary policy is “too important” to be exposed to politics.

We are told that the independence of the Federal Reserve is “sacred” and must never be interfered with.

I say that is a bunch of nonsense.

No organization should have the power to print up trillions of dollars out of thin air and give it to their friends.

The Federal Reserve is completely and totally out of control, and Congress needs to start exerting power over it.

The first step is to get in there and do a comprehensive audit of the Fed’s books. This is something that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz called for in a recent editorial for USA Today

Americans are seeing near-zero interest rates on their savings accounts while median incomes are falling, and millions of people are facing higher gas prices, food prices, electricity prices, health insurance prices. Enough is enough, the Federal Reserve needs to open its books — Americans deserve a sound and stable dollar.

Whether you agree with Ted Cruz on other issues or not, this is one issue that all Americans should be able to agree on.

If you study any of our major economic problems, usually you will find that the Federal Reserve is at the heart of that problem.

So if we ever hope to solve the issues that are plaguing our economy, the Fed is going to need to be dealt with.

Hopefully the American people will start to send more representatives to Washington D.C. that understand this.

(Originally posted on The Economic Collapse Blog)

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