This article was written by Brandon Smith and originally published at his Alt-Market.com website.
Editor’s Comment: The stock market crash today has been preceded by many other fits in the market. How far it goes after this is anyone’s guess, but it seems to all be coming to a head. The warnings that have been issued by countless experts and insiders are not a promise of financial crisis, but they are hinged around some major flaws and vulnerabilities. Mechanically, it has been engineered and orchestrated by a gang that knows it is beyond reproach. After that, it just spirals outward and grinds things to a halt according to its natural course.
On the ground level, it won’t make much difference, except to see that we are in for a long, hard freeze as wages, currency, employment, productivity and profits all skew out of proportion and leave people desperate. Fortunes will be lost, and reacquired, as savings, pensions, and investments all take a haircut or wither on the vine. Dig in, and try to avoid the path of destruction.
The U.S. Is At The Center Of The Global Economic Meltdown
by Brandon Smith
While the economic implosion progresses this year, there will be considerable misdirection and disinformation as to the true nature of what is taking place. As I have outlined in the past, the masses were so ill informed by the mainstream media during the Great Depression that most people had no idea they were actually in the midst of an “official” depression until years after it began. The chorus of economic journalists of the day made sure to argue consistently that recovery was “right around the corner.” Our current depression has been no different, but something is about to change.
Unlike the Great Depression, social crisis will eventually eclipse economic crisis in the U.S. That is to say, our society today is so unequipped to deal with a financial collapse that the event will inevitably trigger cultural upheaval and violent internal conflict. In the 1930s, nearly 50% of the American population was rural. Farmers made up 21% of the labor force. Today, only 20% of the population is rural. Less than 2% work in farming and agriculture. That’s a rather dramatic shift from a more independent and knowledgeable land-utilizing society to a far more helpless and hapless consumer-based system.
What’s the bottom line? About 80% of the current population in the U.S. is more than likely inexperienced in any meaningful form of food production and self-reliance.
The rationale for lying to the public is certainly there. Economic and political officials could argue that to reveal the truth of our fiscal situation would result in utter panic and immediate social breakdown. When 80% of the citizenry is completely unprepared for a decline in the mainstream grid, a loss of savings through falling equities and a loss of buying power through currency destruction, their first response to such dangers would be predictably uncivilized.
Of course, the powers-that-be are not really interested in protecting the American people from themselves. They are interested only in positioning their own finances and resources in the most advantageous investments while using our loss and fear to extract more centralization, more control and more consent. Thus, the hiding of economic decline is enacted because the decline itself is useful to the elites.
And just to be clear for those who buy into the propaganda, the U.S. is indeed in a speedy decline.
In ‘Lies You Will Hear As The Economic Collapse Progresses’, published in summer of last year, I predicted that “Chinese contagion” would be used as the scapegoat for the downturn in order to hide the true source: American wealth destruction. Today, as the Dow and other markets plummet and oil markets tank due to falling demand and glut inventories, all we seem to hear from the mainstream talking heads and the people who parrot them in various forums is that the U.S. is the “only stable economy by comparison” and the rest of the world (mainly China) is a poison to our otherwise exemplary financial health. This is delusional fiction.
The U.S. is the No. 1 consumer market in the world with a 29% overall share and a 21% share in energy usage, despite having only 5 percent of the world’s total population. If there is a global slowdown in consumption, manufacturing, exports and imports, then the first place to look should be America.
Trucking freight in the U.S. is in steep decline, with freight companies pointing to a “glut in inventories” and a fall in demand as the culprit.
Morgan Stanley’s freight transportation update indicates a collapse in freight demand worse than that seen during 2009.
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of global freight rates and thus a measure of global demand for shipping of raw materials, has collapsed to even more dismal historic lows. Hucksters in the mainstream continue to push the lie that the fall in the BDI is due to an “overabundance of new ships.” However, the CEO of A.P. Moeller-Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line, put that nonsense to rest when he admitted in November that “global growth is slowing down” and “[t]rade is currently significantly weaker than it normally would be under the growth forecasts we see.”
Maersk ties the decline in global shipping to a FALL IN DEMAND, not an increase in shipping fleets.
This point is driven home when one examines the real-time MarineTraffic map, which tracks all cargo ships around the world. For the past few weeks, the map has remained almost completely inactive with the vast majority of the world’s cargo ships sitting idle in port, not traveling across oceans to deliver goods. The reality is, global demand has fallen down a black hole, and the U.S. is at the top of the list in terms of crashing consumer markets.
To drive the point home even further, the U.S. is by far the world’s largest petroleum consumer. Therefore, any sizable collapse in global oil demand would have to be predicated in large part on a fall in American consumption. Oil inventories are now overflowing, indicating an unheard-of crash in energy use and purchasing.
U.S. petroleum consumption was actually lower in 2014 than it was in 1997 and 25% lower than earlier projections predicted. A large part of this reduction in gas use has been attributed to fewer vehicle miles traveled. Though oil markets have seen massive price cuts, the lack of demand continued through 2015.
This collapse in consumption is reflected partially in newly adjusted 4th quarter GDP forecasts by the Federal Reserve, which are now slashed down to 0.7%. And remember, Fed and government calculate GDP stats by counting government spending of taxpayer money as “production” or “commerce”. They also count parasitic programs like Obamacare towards GDP as well. If one were to remove government spending of taxpayer funds from the equation, real GDP would be far in the negative. That is to say, if the fake numbers are this bad, then the real numbers must be horrendous.
And finally, let’s talk about Wal-Mart. There is a good reason why mainstream pundits are attempting to marginalize Wal-Mart’s sudden announcement of 269 store closures, 154 of them within the U.S. with at least 10,000 employees being laid off. Admitting weakness in Wal-Mart means admitting weakness in the U.S. economy, and they don’t want to do that.
Wal-Mart is America’s largest retailer and largest employer. In 2014, Wal-Mart announced a sweeping plan to essentially crush neighborhood grocery markets with its Wal-Mart Express stores, building hundreds within months. Today, those Wal-Mart Express stores are being shut down in droves, along with some supercenters. Their top business model lasted around a year before it was abandoned.
Some in the mainstream argue that this is not necessarily a sign of economic decline because Wal-Mart claims it will be building 200 to 240 new stores worldwide by 2017. This is interesting to me because Wal-Mart just suffered its steepest stock drop in 27 years on reports that projected sales will fall by 6% to 12% for the next two years.
It would seem to me highly unlikely that Wal-Mart would close 154 stores in the U.S. (269 stores worldwide) and then open 240 other stores during a projected steep crash in sales that caused the worst stock trend in the company’s history. I think it far more likely that Wal-Mart executives are attempting to appease shareholders with expansion promises they do not plan to keep.
I am going to call it here and now and predict that most of these store sites will never see construction and that Wal-Mart will continue to make cuts, either with store closings, employee layoffs or both.
As the above data indicates, global demand is disintegrating; and the U.S. is a core driver.
The best way to sweep all these negative indicators under the rug is to fabricate some grand idea of outside threats and fiscal dominoes. It is much easier for Americans to believe our country is being battered from without rather than destroyed from within.
Does China have considerable fiscal issues including debt bubble issues? Absolutely. Is this a catalyst for global collapse? No. China’s problems are many but if there is a first “domino” in the chain, then the U.S. economy claims that distinction.
China is the largest exporter in the world, not the largest consumer. If anything, a crash in China’s economy is only a REFLECTION of an underlying collapse in U.S. demand for Chinese goods (among others). That is to say, the mainstream dullards have it backward; a crash in China is a herald of a larger collapse in U.S. markets. A crash in China is a symptom of the greater fiscal disease in America. The U.S. is the primary cause; it is not the victim of Chinese contagion. And the crisis in the U.S. will ultimately be far worse by comparison.
I wrote in ‘What Fresh Horror Awaits The Economy After Fed Rate Hike?’, published before Christmas:
“Market turmoil is a guarantee given the fact that banks and corporations have been utterly reliant on near-zero interest rates and free overnight lending from the Fed. They have been using these no-cost and low-cost loans primarily for stock buybacks, purchasing back their own stocks and reducing the number of shares on the market, thereby artificially elevating the value of the remaining shares and driving up the market as a whole. Now that near-zero lending is over, these banks and corporations will not be able to afford constant overnight borrowing, and the buybacks will cease. Thus, stock markets will crash in the near term.
This process has already begun with increased volatility leading up to and after the Fed rate hike. Watch for far more erratic stock movements (300 to 500 points or more) up and down taking place more frequently, with the overall trend leading down into the 15,000-point range for the Dow in the first two quarters of 2016. Extraordinary but short lived positive increases in the markets will occur at times (Christmas and New Year’s tend to result in positive rallies), but shock rallies are just as much a sign of volatility and instability as shock crashes.”
Markets moved immediately into crash territory after the new year began. This was an easy prediction to make and one that I have been reiterating for months — just as the timing of the Fed rate hike was an easy prediction to make, based on the Fed’s history of deliberately increasing instability through bad policy as the economy moves into deflationary spirals. The Fed did it during the Great Depression and is doing it again today.
It is no coincidence that global markets began to tank after the first Fed rate hike; no-cost overnight lending to banks and corporations was the key to maintaining equities in a relatively static position. As the U.S. loses momentum, the world loses momentum. As the Fed ends outright stimulation and manipulation, the house of cards falls.
I have said it many times and I’ll say it yet again: If you think the Fed’s motivation is to prolong or protect the U.S. economy and currency, then you will never understand why it takes the policy actions it does. If you understand and accept the fact that the Fed is a saboteur working carefully and incrementally toward the destruction of the U.S. to make way for a new globally centralized system, everything falls into place.
To summarize, the U.S. economy as we know it is not slated to survive the next few years. Read my article ‘The Economic Endgame Explained’ for more in-depth information on why a collapse is being engineered and what the openly admitted goal is, including the referenced 1988 article from The Economist titled “Get Ready A World Currency In 2018,” which outlines the plan for a reduction of the dollar and the U.S. system in order to make way for a global basket reserve currency (Special Drawing Rights).
It is astonishingly foolish to assume that even though the U.S. has held the title of king of global consumption share for decades, that our economy is somehow not a primary faulty part in the sputtering global economic engine. Economies are falling because demand is falling. Demand is falling because Americans are not buying. Americans are not buying because Americans are broke. Americans are broke because central bank policy has created an environment of wealth destruction. This wealth destruction in the U.S. has been ongoing, but only now is it becoming truly visible. The volatility we see in developing nations is paltry compared to the financial chaos we now face. Anyone who attempts to dismiss the dangers of a U.S. breakdown or the threat to the unprepared public is either an idiot, or they are trying to divert and distract you from reality. The coming months will undoubtedly verify this.