Some cycles due in 2015

So you can be prepared, if you wish, here are some cycles due in 2015. One of them is gigantically important to both the political and financial worlds, so I hope my exposition is clear.

The first cycle is very easy to understand: something economically important really hits the fan every seven years. Going in reverse from here, seven years at a time:

  • 2008, start of the Great Recession, first real estate debt bubble pop;
  • 2001, recession begins as part of 2000-2002 internet/tech stock bubble pop;
  • 1994, worst year for bond markets in modern history;
  • 1987, the famed stock market Crash of ’87;
  • 1980, inflation, the “Misery Index”, start of a major recession that doesn’t go away for three years;
  • 1973, Arab Oil embargo, start of a major recession;
  • […] you get the idea.

The article at this link talks more about this cycle, including the note that the years in this seven-year cycle that coincided with an Autumn solar eclipse (1931 and 1987) had particularly strong events; and 2015 does have two solar eclipses. Again, from the article at the link:

In 1931, a solar eclipse took place on Sept. 12…Eight days later, England abandoned the gold standard, setting off market crashes and bank failures around the world. It also ushered in the greatest monthlong stock market percentage crash in Wall Street history.

In 1987, a solar eclipse took place Sept. 23…Less than 30 days later came “Black Monday” the greatest percentage crash in Wall Street history.

Some great forecasters think that March is a strong candidate for significant financial turbulence in 2015, and there is a total solar eclipse on March 20. And there is a partial solar eclipse on September 13, a better calendar correspondence with the events referenced in the quote above. So maybe we’ll get two strong events this year.

For those of you who believe what you read in the US media, perhaps you are wondering how we could get major financial problems when things are allegedly so “awesome.” Well, sorry to tell you, but even Goldman “doing God’s work” Sachs just admitted that the world economy has gone into contraction:

     It’s Official: Global Economy Back In Contraction For First Time Since 2012 According To Goldman 

(As a side note, Al Jazeera did a great video on true nature of Goldman Sachs. The link is here, but, if you are in the USA, the censors won’t allow you to view the video in the “Land of the Free” US, it’s only playable outside the US. A lot of that type of thing is going on these days. It’s a small part of what has dropped the US down to 49th globally in press freedom; see World Press Freedom Index Plunges – USA Now Ranked #49 Globally.)

If this seven-year cycle repeats in 2015, then I think we can easily predict what the authorities will do since it seems to be the only thing they know how to do when there’s trouble: print more money by creating more debt! But as explained in The deflationary wave intensifies, this strategy has become counter-productive and is locking the world economy in a deadly stranglehold.

Some realize all this and some do not. But this brings us to our second cycle: Martin Armstrong’s Sovereign Debt Big Bang. Here is a slide of Armstrong’s forecasts from a conference in early 1998:

Armstrong1998-Forecast

(Source, from Martin Armstrong’s blog)

These major forecasts all came true. The only one left to go (2015.75 = September 30, 2015) is the Sovereign Debt Big Bang. What it says in that the tide will monumentally shift away from confidence in government bonds starting on September 30, 2015. Currently, confidence in government bonds is so high that people are buying them even with negative interest rates. The easiest way to understand interest rates is that they are the rental charge for lending someone money. So you rent someone $100 and you hope to get back maybe $103, the original $100 plus $3 of rent. But people are now buying government bonds even though they get back less money than what they lent to some government in the first place. They are paying governments to lend them money!

     16% Of Global Government Bonds Now Have A Negative Yield: Here Is Who’s Buying It

That was a few weeks back, at which point JP Morgan calculated that $3.6 Trillion worth of government bonds were paying negative interest rates. Some of the countries involved were Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark. In Denmark, because interest rates went negative, some adjustable rate mortgages are now paying interest to the people who took out the mortgage!

     In Denmark You Are Now Paid To Take Out A Mortgage

Now you might say: Why would anyone buy a government bond with a negative interest rate?!?! When I first said we should expect negative interest rates in More shackles readied for deploymentI did get a few e-mails politely suggesting that I might want to get checked for dementia. Here’s what was said:

The policy is that savers will soon be hit with negative interest rates…So people would have to pay the bank interest on their own savings. So if the negative interest rate were -3%, if you had $100 in your account, you’d have to pay the bank $3 in interest.

This is crazy. Most people alive today think governments never default on their debt.  But that’s just plain wrong. Here is a chart showing country debt defaults going back to 1800. And this chart only shows those countries that have defaulted at least four times, the rest are not shown. Note that the list includes supposed stalwarts like Germany:

Sov20140731_default

(Chart sourcefrom The Economist.)

What Armstrong is saying–and he has been saying it since the 1990’s and has strong mathematical/historical models backing up his forecast–is that, near the end of this year, the world at large is finally going to wake up and understand the insanity of all this government borrowing. Not all at once, but relentlessly. They will see that most if not all countries are not going to pay back what they borrowed. They can’t. They don’t have the money. Greece is the first country to forthrightly admit it. One of the pompous Eurocrats threatened Greece last week, saying “If you don’t do what we say, Greece will go bankrupt.”  To which the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis replied, “Greece is already bankrupt.”  (Straight truth! From a politician! Finally! Maybe that will become a trend!)

So what will this do to those who own all these government bonds? Who does own them anyway? For one, most of what is called capital at banks is government bonds. So there go the banks: no capital, insolvent. (Watch out for the upcoming bail-ins if you still keep money in banks.) Insurance companies and both government and private pension funds are huge holders of government bonds. So there goes insurance, and pensions. A well-placed German friend says that several European insurance companies are on the verge of bankruptcy. All of the assets of the US Social Security system, for example, are US government bonds: that’s all they own!

And somehow, the financial system has come to accept government bonds as collateral for other loans and bets. The $1 Quadrillion (that’s 1,000 Trillions) world derivatives casino market floats on a thin veneer of government bonds as “collateral” for these bets. Before the US defaulted on its debts in 1971 when Nixon said they were no longer payable in currency backed by gold, as previously promised, but now were backed by promises alone, collateral meant something real. For example, when you have a mortgage, your house is the collateral. A car is the collateral for an auto loan. But now in the financial world, someone’s promise to pay back a loan that they can never repay counts as collateral for even more loans. This is insane. Starting later in the year, a lot more people will start to understand that. That’s the nature of this Big Bang cycle. And there will be major repercussions. We talked about the demise of banks, pensions, and insurance. The derivatives collapse will take down all the brokerages and investment banks. So where will people get money?

Governments love to hide the truth about their historical defaults on their debt. Thus everyone is taught that the “cause of the Great Depression” of the 1930’s was the 1929 stock market crash. Total BS. The stock market crash wiped out stock speculators. That wasn’t a truly big deal. What took down thousands of banks were defaults on government bonds they and their customers were holding. Let’s look at that government bond default chart again. This time there is a red box around the worldwide wave of country debt defaults in the early 1930’s that wiped out thousands of banks and millions of savers:

Sov20140731_defaultBox

Get it? That’s what’s coming up again, only this time it will be worse. Way worse. There’s been far more borrowing, far more leverage, and all of it is floating on paper and electronic currencies and promises. The link to reality–gold–was removed in 1971.

World-Debts

Now some people say all this unpayable debt can be wiped off the books in a debt jubilee, like they used to do in Old Testament times. Well that’s true. It can. The problem is that anyone who put money in a bank account needs to realize that they have loaned that money to the bank. It’s a debt of the bank, they owe you money. And your deposit is backed by government debt, not by actual cash. So, if there were a debt jubilee, no one would have any money in their bank account anymore. Same for businesses, so no business would be able to write a paycheck to anyone. ATM’s would not be able to dispense any cash. Credit cards would no longer work. All of the money in the world is someone’s debt to someone else. So a debt jubilee would mean there was no money.

So now, do you want a debt jubilee? Of course not. But we are going to get one anyway. Not on purpose. By accident. Starting in a big way later this year.

Why can anyone be confident that this is true? Well first, go back and look at the rest of the predictions on Armstrong’s slide from 1998. Second, it’s already starting to happen. Greece, Argentina, Puerto Rico–the dominoes are starting to fall. Japan is a financial basket case, there is no way they can repay their debts, and they have the second largest pile of government debt on the planet. The whole world has gone wild for debt!

Which brings us to a third “cycle of interest’ for 2015. What else floats on a sea of debt? Real estate prices! This cycle was described before here:

As examples, due to his real estate cycle work for the US, he was telling clients–in the 1990’s to give them ample time to act–to be out of all US real estate investments by February, 2007; that real estate prices would then fall from 2007 into 2012, then rise into 2015 in a snapback rally that would sucker a lot of people back into real estate, and then fall again through 2033.

Well here we are in the snapback real estate rally into 2015. So many have forgotten the 9 million US foreclosures and the 7 million US households that are still “under water” on their mortgages. All the signs of a bubble are back, though now some are already starting to dissipate as real estate prices in some of the bubbliest areas roll over:

     Southern California home sale volume for January slowest since 2008: The stalemate accelerates with Orange County seeing a monthly median price drop of $28,500.

The bubble is stronger than ever in countries like Canada, Australia, and the UK. Unless people request it by sending me e-mails saying they want it, I’m not going to do a detailed post on real estate. I doubt it will change anyone’s mind, so it probably isn’t worth it. But when the biggest debt bubble the world–and perhaps the galaxy–has ever known pops, and governments are falling left and right, real estate prices will be hammered. And those falling governments will be desperately raising property taxes to try to stay afloat.

And anyone who agrees with people who say that “debt doesn’t matter,” like Dick Cheney from the right or Paul Krugman from the left, is going to get quite an education over the next few years. Actually, we all will. Which is good, in my view. Humanity badly needs to understand which actions have real value and which do not.

Currency Balloons

Given the state of most media reporting, it’s sometimes tough to know whether to laugh or cry. Here’s a story from last week about a surge in gold bullion purchasing in Germany in August and September:

     German Bullion Dealers Report Major Increase in Sales

Christian Brenner, Chief Executive of Philoro Edelmetalle GmbH: “Already in August we noticed an increase on orders compared to the previous months, but September… September beats it all. From a German viewpoint it’s the strongest month of 2014.”. At their head office in Austria they also register an “overproportional high level” of revenue.

At the end of the article, there is a stumbling attempt to explain the recent surge with no mention of its real reason. Here’s a chart of the Euro showing it losing over 7% of its “value” in August and September, in the context of a 10% loss since May:
Euro2014107

It would seem clear that at least some people in Germany and Austria noticed that someone was letting the air out of their Euros and decided to convert to real money.

It was the same for the Japanese in August and September, but much worse overall since the Japanese government has been hellbent on devaluing the Yen for two years. Here’s a chart showing the loss in “value” of the yen of more than 31% in the last three years:

Yen20141007Since these losses in “value” are measured against the biggest balloon of them all, the US Dollar, this is the source of what you may have been hearing lately about the “strong Dollar”! In other words, the “strong Dollar” is simply the result of other major governments succeeding in intentionally letting air out of the balloons known as their currencies.

They are doing this in an attempt to create inflation! Unlike regular people, who like it when prices drop and they can get good deals, governments, being the largest debtors on the planet, want inflation so that their debts can be repaid in cheaper and cheaper currency as time passes. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s a form of grand theft: I’ll borrow money from you today, and pay it back with cheaper money later.

Well so what, you might say. If they are all doing that, what’s the big deal? Continue reading

A major change, Part 1

A significant change has taken place. A pressure seems to have been lifted from members of the so-called Elites. This can be seen by two effects:

1. Some of these System Controllers are taking a look around and are none too pleased with what they see.

2.  Some of them realize they can now speak more freely.

Here are some examples. The first is a set of quotes from the Chief Investment Officer of Allianz, by some metrics Europe’s largest insurer, and the third largest insurance company in the world:

The fundamental problems are not solved and everybody knows it.

Let’s hear that again:

The fundamental problems are not solved and everybody knows it.

Wow, for the last five years, one had to peruse surly blogs to hear that truth, but this is from Maximilian Zimmerer, the guy in charge of the assets for one of the 20 largest corporations in the world. He also stated that the “euro crisis is not over.” With that latter quote, he just told us that all those Euro-pols running around saying the “euro crisis is over” and “Europe has been fixed” are very mistaken and/or very full of it.

Next, someone let the Wall St Journal know that the US Federal Reserve has been railing about extreme problems at Germany’s top bank, Deutsche Bank:

In a letter to Deutsche Bank executives last December, a senior official with the New York Fed wrote that financial reports produced by some of the bank’s U.S. arms “are of low quality, inaccurate and unreliable.”

It said examiners found “material errors and poor data integrity”…The shortcomings amount to a “systemic breakdown” and “expose the firm to significant operational risk…”

So what’s the US central bank doing castigating Germany’s largest commercial bank? DB has large US operations; we showed here that half of the Fed’s money printing went to European banks, so DB probably has a lot of that cash, that is, from the Fed’s point of view, they had to bail out DB before, they don’t want to have to do it again; and, drumroll please, DB has the largest exposure to derivatives of any bank in the world. Again, what are derivatives? They are highly leveraged bets on every imaginable financial price movement. Here’s what ZeroHedge says about DB and derivatives:

Recall that as we have shown for two years in a row, Deutsche has a total derivative exposure that amounts to €55 trillion or just about $75 trillion. That’s a trillion with a T, and is about 100 times greater than the €522 billion in deposits the bank has. It is also 5x greater than the GDP of Europe and more or less the same as the GDP of… the world.

And here is that text in chart format:

So that’s Germany’s total economy in green on the left; Europe’s economy in blue in the center; and Deutsche Bank’s derivative bets in red on the right. So when it becomes clear that DB has a serious problem, it will be way too big for Germany to handle; probably way to big for Europe to handle; and possibly way too big for anyone to handle, that is, it could be game over, system down, everyone start from scratch. What the US Fed is saying is that DB’s recordkeeping and reporting is so bad that it results in “significant operational risk.” We likely won’t know till after DB goes down the tubes whether this was error or intentional obfuscation on their part. My guess is it’s probably a lot of both: their business is so huge, they have little understanding of many of its parts, some of which likely have twenty-something rogue traders putting on huge derivative bets; and they have plenty to hide.

Next, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has overtly questioned the sanity of just about all central banks and just about everyone participating in the financial markets. So why should anyone care? Perhaps you’ve been blessed during this lifetime and have never heard of the BIS. It is the organization that was described as follows on Bloomberg:

It was especially useful to the Nazis.

Though headed by an American during World War II, the BIS adhered to a priestly neutrality…in order to continue dealing with all sides in the conflict. Unfortunately, this put the institution squarely in the position of abetting Nazi terror.

The BIS accepted plundered gold and made it possible for Germany to acquire desperately needed war materiel. It even permitted Germany, once it had invaded Czechoslovakia, to confiscate that nation’s gold reserves.

I can just hear you saying: “Oh that BIS.” Anyway, from such disgusting beginnings, the BIS has continued its traditions and thereby has risen to be the central bank above all other central banks, that is, if you are the head of a major central bank in the world, you get a seat at the table at the BIS. Here it is, what some call the Tower of Basel, such a friendly-looking nuclear plant cooling tower place:

I’m told that if you’ve got a war to finance or a lot of drug money to launder, the BIS is your one-stop-shopping place. But I digress. In this article:

     BIS Slams “Market Euphoria”, Finds “Puzzling Disconnect” Between Economy And Market

you can find the Financial Times summary of the latest BIS Annual Report:

The Bank for International Settlements has warned that “euphoric” financial markets have become detached from the reality of a lingering post-crisis malaise, as it called for governments to ditch policies that risk stoking unsustainable asset booms.

While the global economy is struggling to escape the shadow of the crisis of 2007-09, capital markets are “extraordinarily buoyant”, the Basel-based bank said, in part because of the ultra-low-rate monetary policy being pursued around the world…calling for policy makers to halt the steady rise in debt burdens around the world and embark on reforms to boost productivity.

In its annual report, the BIS also warned of the risks brewing in emerging markets, setting out early warning indicators of possible banking crises in a number of jurisdictions, including most notably China.

So there you have it, the ultimate insider organization saying what the surly blogs have been saying for years: stock and bond markets are wildly detached from economic reality, central banks are keeping interest rates too low and printing too much money, expect banks to fail all over the world, especially in places like China, etc.

Next, speaking of bank failures, the EU, US, and UK (I think an appropriate pronounceable acronym for this particular axis of evil is EUUSUK) have decided to “show us their feelings” about bank bailouts and have come clean about their attempt to get all countries to go along with their scheme to replace bank bailouts with bail-ins, through which, if you have money in a bank that fails, they are going to steal a bunch of your money to save the bank, like they did in the test case, Cyprus:

     Bank Of England Leads Push For Deposit Confiscation – Japan, China, Russia Against Bail-Ins

They are pushing all major countries to go along with this plan for an obvious reason: Let’s say you are a global corporation or a gazillionaire and can place your money in whatever countries you choose. Why would you keep your money in countries where you could lose a lot of money in a bail-in? You wouldn’t be such a fool, of course, you’d move that money to safer countries, or into safer forms such as gold. However, the EUUSUK axis is being brutally honest here about their intent. Perhaps people living within the axis will be helped by the reluctance of the Asians and Russians to go along with this draconian plan to continue saving reckless banks by theft from regular people; but I doubt it.

Let’s call it a day and save more of this new-found realism and truth-telling for Part 2.

 

 

What’s up with the metals? Part 2

Someone asked me whether I “was still in favor of gold.” The answer is an unqualified Yes. One easy reason is that almost every country on the planet is trying to drive down the value of their paper currency. So if you live in the US, it looks like this, and this is based on the US Government’s statistics for price inflation and we all know that they have every reason to play games to make this number look a lot lower than it really is, so you can safely increase each of these number by 50%:

CPI_Since_2000

The first column, CPI, says plenty: That if you live in the US, since the year 2000, the purchasing power of your money, of your salary, has lost 39%. And this is during a period that they claim has had “low inflation”! And the US Federal Reserve is currently on record as saying they are trying to create more inflation. So when you own US Dollars, or items denominated in Dollars such as US stocks and bonds, or items in currencies pegged to the US Dollar, realize that this is only going to get worse. The same is true for the purchasing power of the other currencies.

* * *

The post What’s up with the metals? Part 1 showed that some notable gold bears had turned bullish and that unprecedented demand for physical gold continued. Despite the strong demand, gold then had the bargain price of $1,237 per ounce, having just bounced up from $1,181 on the last day of 2013. Price went to $1,355 Monday and has pulled back to $1,338 today.

The strong demand for physical bullion, coins, and jewelry, documented in Part 1, has continued. Despite record-breaking demand in 2013, Chinese demand year-to-date is 51% higher than demand to this point in 2013. Mints around the world are working overtime:

     U.K. Royal Mint Runs Out of Sovereign Gold Coins on Demand

The U.K.’s Royal Mint, which traces its history back more than 1,000 years, ran out of 2014 Sovereign gold coins as prices near a six-month low led to “exceptional demand.”

     Gold Mint Runs Overtime in Race to Meet World Coin Demand

Austria’s mint is running 24 hours a day as global mints from the U.S. to Australia report climbing demand for gold coins…

Austria’s Muenze Oesterreich AG mint hired extra employees and added a third eight-hour shift to the day in a bid to keep up with demand. Purchases of bullion coins at Australia’s Perth Mint rose 20 percent this year through Jan. 20 from a year earlier. Sales by the U.S. Mint are set for the best month since April, when the metal plunged into a bear market.

Global mints are manufacturing as fast as they can…“The market is very busy,” Lang said. “We can’t meet the demand, even if we work overtime.

So, if demand for physical gold is so strong, how could there possibly be such a price drop as happened in 2013?  The answer is simple really. They have created a paper gold market that is hundreds of times larger than the physical gold market. By larger I mean in terms of the dollar value of trading in these two markets. People trade paper that has more or less of a connection with gold (sometimes none at all), and it is in these large markets that the price of gold is set. Most of the participants in these paper gold markets believe that they could, if they wished, convert these pieces of paper into physical gold, that the pieces of paper are claims on real gold. But in reality, only a tiny fraction of them could succeed in converting their claims into real metal. There just isn’t enough metal to go around.

If you think I exaggerate, check this chart, which I’ll explain below. It describes the action at the COMEX, the primary gold price-setting exchange in the US:

COMEX_OwnersPerOz

The key phrase on the chart is “Owners Per Ounce,” which for the COMEX is now at 111 owners per ounce of gold in the vault! That is, for each ounce of gold in the COMEX vaults (the blue line in the upper section of the chart), 111 contracts exist that allow the owners of those contracts to demand delivery of that single ounce of gold. We all understand that banks operate with only a little cash on hand for all the deposits they’ve taken, called a fractional reserve system. The COMEX is the same, worse actually: percentagewise, they keep a lot less gold around than the banks keep cash on hand.

(Please skip this paragraph if you already understand what 111 owners per ounce means!) Let me explain: The COMEX is a futures trading exchange where people trade gold and other commodities. Futures exchanges were created to be a meeting place between producers of a commodity and its end users. In January of any year, for example, a producer of wheat can agree to sell wheat in the future, in September, at a specified price to a cereal company. Both the wheat farmer and the cereal company know that they can make a reasonable profit on their operations if the farmer supplies, and the cereal maker takes delivery of, wheat at the pre-arranged price when that wheat is ready in September, so they make the deal. That’s called a futures contract. It promises both delivery and payment in the future at set price, and that’s great. But the futures exchanges are now dominated by big money speculators who have no intention of producing or taking delivery of anything. The chart above reflects this reality. The COMEX vault is supposed to have gold to back up the gold trading that takes place on that exchange. As you can see in the upper panel of the chart, back in 2006 they had over 5 million ounces backing up the contracts. Now that amount has fallen by 93% to only 370,000 ounces as more people realize that they better stop trading paper and get their hands on the real stuff.  Currently, for all the futures contracts to buy and sell gold on the exchange, they only have 1 ounce for every 111 contracts in existence. These contracts are paper gold, a huge synthetic supply of fake gold.  If everyone decided to make their claim for real gold (similar to a run on bank), only 1 ounce would be available for every 111 claims. Such an attempt would drive the price of physical gold into the stratosphere. On a typical day last week, 55,000 of these paper contracts traded hands. That represents 5,500,000 ounces of paper gold traded each day just at the COMEX. That trading sets the price for gold in the US. But it’s possible that no one demanded delivery of gold from the COMEX on that same day. So the trading that sets the price is really for cash, not for gold. And this paper trading involves a lot of borrowing, that is, leverage.  One can easily prove this crazy situation by contacting a futures broker and creating an account with $8,000 in that account. One could then buy or sell (they call it selling short) a futures contract for 100 ounces of gold. At today’s price of $1,338 per ounce, 100 ounces of gold is worth $133,800. So as far as COMEX is concerned, you are using your $8,000 gambling stake to control $133,800 worth of gold. And this “gold” can be sold, driving down the price. Seems crazy, but it’s literally true.

So if you or I can control 100 ounces for $8,000, imagine what JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs can control with the many billions of printed money they receive from the Federal Reserve, printed money that has not been lent out to boost the economy but is being used as collateral for trading. They can push markets in whatever direction they want. The same is true for central banks, but on an even greater scale: They have no limit on the amount of cash they can print up, so they can overwhelm any market anytime they wish.

The COMEX sets the price in the US. In London, it’s the LBMA (London Bullion Market Association) which is more than 7 times larger than the COMEX in terms of the dollar value of daily paper gold trading. The LBMA admitted a couple of years ago that, like the COMEX today, their leverage ratio was over 100 to 1. And the gold market in Switzerland is just as large as the LBMA, but it is run privately by the Swiss banks, so they publish no statistics. All told there are 40 futures exchanges in the world for trading paper gold.

Another form of paper gold is certificates for gold accounts with banks. Several of these banks have been caught charging people fees for storing gold when they are actually storing nothing at all. The banks figured they could quickly meet any claims for the gold, but when the claims came in, it took them weeks to procure the gold in the open market.

And there are stocks that hold gold, options on both those stocks and on the futures described above, gold leases, and swaps contracts. The latter are private contracts and they may actually dwarf all of the rest of the paper gold claims in terms of their stated dollar value (their “notional value,” as it is called) because the central banks, like the US Federal Reserve and the Bank for International Settlements, often use swaps for their trading. What, central banks trading gold? In September, the French Central Bank admitted:

We are still active in the gold market for our own account…meaning that we are in the market nearly on a daily basis.

In that same paper, the Bank of France said they owned 2,500 tons of physical gold and that they had no plans to sell it. So what are they trading daily? Paper gold, for profit.

Sometimes people go way too far with these contracts. People thought that Bear Stearns went bankrupt in 2008 because of the mortgage market. But the astute article What Really Happened to Bear Stearns by Ted Butler explains that it was actually bad trading in gold and silver that took them down: they had massive bets that the prices of gold and silver would go down, but instead the prices shot up by a lot over a few months instead. 

BearStearnsGold

The chart above is the price of gold from 2004-2008. Notice how the price was moving up strongly prior to the collapse of Bear Stearns. Guess who picked up all of the assets and trading positions of Bear Stearns as it went bankrupt. Why our “good friends” at the company implicated in, and fined for, manipulating just about every market around since then: JP Morgan. They picked up Bear’s assets for about 6 cents on the dollar. Notice the smashdown of the gold price as soon as Morgan was in charge. The price smashdown was even worse in silver. Here’s the chart from 2004-2008 for silver:

BearStearnsSilver

It sure makes one wonder whether JP Morgan was involved in both moving the price up to bankrupt Bear Stearns, and then smashing it down once they had taken over Bear and inherited all those bets that the prices of gold and silver would drop.

Getting back to our discussion. All of these contracts taken together are called derivatives because they derive their value from the underlying value of gold. Guess who owns most of them now:

     Market Cornered: JPMorgan Owns Over 60% Notional Of All Gold Derivatives

What? Isn’t it illegal to corner a market? Don’t the regulators come down hard on anyone trying to corner a market? Yes, but as long as it isn’t gold or silver. JP Morgan is allowed to corner gold and silver because it serves the interests of those who still want the US Dollar to dominate the world so that the US can continue to exercise its “exorbitant privilege” of printing paper to trade for the real goods of other countries. So if someone like Morgan and the central banks weren’t suppressing the prices of gold and silver, it would make the Dollar and the other paper currencies look bad, and those in charge won’t allow that.

To show you how off base these government people and economists are, when Nixon took the world off of what remained of the gold standard in 1971, his chief economist was the “great” Milton Friedman. Friedman told Nixon and others that gold was deriving its value from the US Dollar, not the other way around, and that as soon as Nixon severed the link between gold and the Dollar, that the price of gold would actually fall quite a lot. He was entirely wrong, as government economists so often are, as gold never looked back again at its then-current price of $35 per ounce.

These government types have always hated gold for one reason: it inhibits their ability to wage war. We’ve covered it before: governments started going off the very-successful gold and silver standards in order to fight World War 1. That war would have been over in a few months, but that wasn’t good enough for the warmongers, they had to kill off millions of people over four years to serve their greed.

We’ll talk more about governments and gold later, including their failed attempts to suppress gold in the past, in Part 3. But you know that comment above about the gold price going into the stratosphere when people with all these paper contracts rush to convert them to physical gold? That will happen. It’s inevitable, as more and more people lose confidence in governments, banks, and the blizzard of paper claims they have created. That COMEX chart above–where it shows that the physical gold backing up the paper trading is down by 93%–says that the process is already well underway. Best to get your gold and silver before all those folks with the paper contracts try to get some because, at that point, it will be tough to find real gold at any price.

It’s Bail-In time

The posts Upcoming Thefts by Big Money and Update on Metals, Deposit Confiscation, and Capital Controls explained how the authorities have made is perfectly clear that their new Bail-In regimen would confiscate deposits from regular folks in an attempt–which will ultimately fail–to keep the bankrupt banks and bankrupt governments afloat. I enter as evidence the bankruptcy of the City of Detroit. Ellen Brown has written an excellent post on the topic that everyone should read, especially anyone who tends to think the current financial/legal/political system is a trustworthy custodian.

What’s happening is this: in the Detroit bankruptcy, the banks have been ruled to have “super-seniority,” that is, the banks get taken care of first, everyone else comes after that. Why? Because the banks sold Detroit derivatives and the banks got Congress to pass a law in 2005 that derivatives have seniority over all other obligations. So Detroit’s pensioners–the retired firefighters, police, water workers, garbage collectors, etc.–will get whatever crumbs might or might not be left after the super-senior derivative sellers and senior bondholders get their take. The first proposal had pensions being cut to ten cents on the dollar.

The banks convinced Congress that derivatives are “systemically important” so that’s how they got this super-seniority scam in place. Since there are over $700 trillion worth of derivatives out there in the world and that’s more than 10 times larger than then entire world economy, that means the banks will ultimately get all of everything before anyone else gets any of anything every time there is trouble. And there will be a lot of trouble. Particularly if they start a big war. Think about it: we have a system where money is debt and almost all countries and banks have way too much debt and the banking and government debt system is cross-linked to all financial institutions and pension funds and insurance companies across the globe. What will that look like when institutions in one country decide to not pay the institutions in another country because the two are at war, or since no one will be sure which countries will be left standing at the end of the war, everyone will gets suspicious about the value of everyone else’s currency? Trouble will take on entirely new dimensions. And we’ve all been told who has seniority in terms of dibs on assets, and that “who” is not you and me.

Or from another vantage point, please consider this: it has taken over a year for the bankruptcy trustee for MF Global, which stole $1.6 billion from its depositors, to even figure out where the money is. And he has only been able to figure out where 80% of it is. Not because anyone was hiding it, but because assets now get lent to someone who lends them to someone else who lends them to someone else…and so forth. This is how complicated the financial system has become. Think about what this will look like when the amounts are literally millions of times larger than MF Global and spread across the globe in countries which are no longer on speaking terms.

And as a friend just pointed out to me in an e-mail, it’s really now in the banks’ best interest to have cities like Detroit go bankrupt so that the banks can get all of their money from derivatives right away.

I wonder if that’s why Detroit isn’t getting a bailout from the State or Federal governments–that the banks want their money now.

And the City of Detroit gets relief from its debts. So government and banks bail in (steal!) the money from regular folks, game set and match. Ah, the public-private partnership in action!

It’s dangerous out there folks. Please take action accordingly. Soon!

From Ellen’s post, The Detroit Bail-In Template: Fleecing Pensioners to Save the Banks:

In Cyprus, the depositors were “bailed in” (stripped of a major portion of their deposits) to re-capitalize the banks. In Detroit, it is the municipal workers who are being bailed in, stripped of a major portion of their pensions to save the banks.

Bank of America Corp. and UBS AG have been given priority over other bankruptcy claimants, meaning chiefly the pensioners, for payments due on interest rate swaps they entered into with the city. Interest rate swaps – the exchange of interest rate payments between counterparties – are sold by Wall Street banks as a form of insurance, something municipal governments “should” do to protect their loans from an unanticipated increase in rates. Unlike ordinary insurance, however, swaps are actually just bets; and if the municipality loses the bet, it can owe the house, and owe big. The swap casino is almost entirely unregulated, and it is a rigged game that the house virtually always wins. Interest rate swaps are based on the LIBOR rate, which has now been proven to be manipulated by the rate-setting banks; and they were a major contributor to Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Derivative claims are considered “secured” because the players must post collateral to play. They get not just priority but “super-priority” in bankruptcy, meaning they go first before all others, a deal pushed through by Wall Street in the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005. Meanwhile, the municipal workers, whose pensions are theoretically protected under the Michigan Constitution, are classified as “unsecured” claimants who will get the scraps after the secured creditors put in their claims. The banking casino, it seems, trumps even the state constitution. The banks win and the workers lose once again.

Ellen’s full post is here.

Upcoming Thefts by Big Money

The insatiable banking/corporate/political crony network that has stolen so much from people in the past has some new schemes in store. First on the docket is the bail-in, where reckless banks with huge losses will be kept afloat not by the general base of taxpayers, but by those who have lent them money. And as mentioned in Update on Metals, Deposit Confiscation, and Capital Controls, depositors are definitely grouped into the class of those who have “lent” money to these banks. As in Cyprus, if a bank fails and the regulators decide that depositor money will be confiscated, the depositors receive some stock in the bank in exchange for their money. We’ll see later in this post just how well that is working out for people in Cyprus. But first, let’s establish that bail-ins are definitely the new thing:

     It Can Happen Here: The Confiscation Scheme Planned for US and UK Depositors

Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlier here); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds…  

Although few depositors realize it, legally the bank owns the depositor’s funds as soon as they are put in the bank. Our money becomes the bank’s, and we become unsecured creditors holding IOUs or promises to pay. (See here and here.) But until now the bank has been obligated to pay the money back on demand in the form of cash. Under the FDIC-BOE plan, our IOUs will be converted into “bank equity.”  The bank will get the money and we will get stock in the bank. With any luck we may be able to sell the stock to someone else, but when and at what price?…

No exception is indicated for “insured deposits” in the U.S., meaning those under $250,000, the deposits we thought were protected by FDIC insurance. This can hardly be an oversight, since it is the FDIC that is issuing the directive.

     Wealthy bank depositors to suffer losses in EU law

A draft European Union law voted on Monday would shield small depositors from losing their savings in bank rescues, but customers with over 100,000 euros in savings when a bank failed could suffer losses.

     Asmussen clarifies EU Parliament: savers must bleed for bank rescue

     Japan to adopt ‘bail-ins,’ force bank losses on investors if needed, Nikkei says

     Land Of The Rising Bail In: Deposit Confiscation Coming To Japan Next

Other countries have hopped on the bail-in bandwagon, but you get the idea.

To absolutely confirm that bail-ins are coming, the next story is about an organization called ISDA preparing for how to handle bail-ins. Why is this important? Because the following is a list of the voting members of the ISDA Determinations Committee:

  • Bank of America N.A.
  • Barclays Bank plc
  • BNP Paribas
  • Citibank, N.A.
  • Credit Suisse International
  • Deutsche Bank AG
  • Goldman Sachs International
  • JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
  • Morgan Stanley & Co. International plc
  • UBS AG

That is the rogues gallery of derivatives trading on this planet. And what is this Determinations Committee determining? Who gets what on all of the derivative bets placed with respect to any bank that gets a bail-in. In other words, there will be bets that the bank will fail, bets that the bank will survive, bets on the bank’s bonds, etc. etc., and these guys are now setting the rules for who gets what after a bail-in. If these folks think it’s necessary to protect themselves relating to bail-ins, then gee, I wonder if everyone else ought to do the same?:

     New CDS trigger event proposed to tackle bail-in

ISDA is consulting on a proposal to add another credit event for financial credit default swaps in order to adapt to sweeping changes in regulation that will give supervisory authorities the power to bail-in the debt of floundering institutions.

For further proof, those who are well-connected are already working to make sure that they are exempt from the torture of a bail-in:

     EACH wants CCP exemption from bail-ins 

Rest assured that there will be bank failures because the big ones have gone back to the methods that precipitated the financial crisis on the first place. They are again selling CDOs, one of the primary culprits in 2008:

     ‘Frankenstein’ CDOs twitch back to life

And they are once again granting what are called “covenant-lite” loans.

And in new depths of scum-sucking bottom-feeding, banks are so desperate for capital and profits and bonuses that they are now pursuing people upon whom they foreclosed to make up the difference between the mortgage loan amount and the price the banks were able to get for the house when they sold that house after foreclosure:

     Lenders seek court actions against homeowners years after foreclosure

For Jose Santos Benavides, the ordeal of losing his home was over.

The Salvadoran immigrant had worked for years as a self-employed landscaper to make a $15,000 down payment on a four-bedroom house in Rockville. He had achieved a portion of the American dream, earning nearly six figures.

Then the economy soured, and lean paychecks turned into late mortgage payments. On Aug. 20, 2008, one year after he bought his dream home for $469,000, the bank’s threat to take his house became real via a letter in the mail. Just four days before the bank seized the property, he moved out, along with his wife and their two young children.

That wasn’t the worst of it.

In November, more than three years after the foreclosure, he was stunned to learn he still owed $115,000 — with the interest alone growing at a rate high enough to lease a luxury car.

“I’m scared, you know,” Benavides said. “I can’t pay.”

The 42-year-old is among the many homeowners being taken to court by their lenders long after their houses were taken in foreclosure. Lenders are filing new motions in old foreclosure lawsuits and hiring debt collectors to pursue leftover debt, plus court fees, attorneys’ fees and tens of thousands in interest that had been accruing for years.

From that Washington Post article, here is a chart that shows that, in some states of the US, the banks have 40 or more years after the foreclosure to go after former “homeowners” upon whom they foreclosed:

wpdeficiencytimeframephoto2So the banks engaged for years in seriously questionable lending practices, packaged up mortgages they knew would fail into “securities” that they sold all over the world, created fake documents and had them robo-signed to accomplish foreclosures, and now they can hound people for decades for what the banks say are their losses on these mortgages. With interest. And attorneys fees. I wonder who created such a legal system. As Bank of America employees reported:

     ‘We were told to lie’ – Bank of America employees open up about foreclosure practices

Employees of Bank of America say they were encouraged to lie to customers and were even rewarded for foreclosing on homes, staffers of the financial giant claim in new court documents…

“To justify the denials, employees produced fictitious reasons, for instance saying the homeowner had not sent in the required documents, when in actuality, they had,” William Wilson, Jr., a former underwriter for the bank, wrote in his statement.

As a side note on Europe, rumor has it that the infamous EU Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsellbloem, the one who correctly stated in public that the Cyprus bank action was a template for future bank resolutions, is pressing EU officials to try to preemptively resolve the problem of insolvent EU banks via deposit confiscation. And he wants to do that soon. So far, all attempts to fix EU bank problems have been band-aids that temporarily covered over the real problems; none have come close to a real solution, and we’ll get to the reason for that below. But if you have any notion that EU banks are solvent, then read this comment about Deutsche Bank by a former US Federal Reserve Bank President:

     Deutsche Bank “Is Horribly Undercapitalized… It’s Ridiculous” Says Former Fed President Hoenig

A top U.S. banking regulator called Deutsche Bank’s capital levels “horrible” and said it is the worst on a list of global banks based on one measurement of leverage ratios. “It’s horrible, I mean they’re horribly undercapitalized,” said Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig in an interview. “They have no margin of error.” Deutsche’s leverage ratio stood at 1.63 percent, according to Hoenig’s numbers, which are based on European IFRS accounting rules as of the end of 2012.

Deutsche Bank is the biggest player in the world in the risk-laden derivatives market. At last count, they had $73 trillion in derivatives outstanding, which is over twenty times the size of the German GDP, so if Deutsche Bank has a derivatives blow up, it’s unlikely that Germany or anyone else would be able to afford to make good on their losses. After all, $73 trillion is larger than the entire world GDP.

And why is it that, as stated above, there have been no attempts to really solve EU bank problems?  It’s very simple: too much debt was issued to buy assets (e.g., real estate), pushing up the price of those assets to unrealistic levels. There are real losses that need to be taken, and no one wants to take the losses. All involved prefer to pretend that there are no such losses, so they use near-zero-interest bridge loans, accounting lies, and round robin I’ll-lend-your-bank-money-to-buy-your-government-debt-and-you-use-the-proceeds-to-bail-out-your-bank games to mask the truth. With non-performing loans at EU banks at record highs and growing by the day, good luck with that.

But here is the problem with bail-ins, the latest and great “fix” for the financial system: so far, they don’t work.  Let’s look at the infamous Cyprus case: they stole a lot of deposits and in return, gave people stock in the bank. But few want to keep their money in that bank anymore. Even with strong limits on daily withdrawals from the Cyprus banks, people are persistently removing their money from those banks:

     Cyprus Bank Deposits Plunge By Most Ever During “Capital Controls” Month

Here’s what the trend of withdrawals from the Cyprus banks look like:

Cyprus Bank Deposits Seq Change

That’s more than $6 billion being withdrawn in April, after the March bail-in. So that bank stock that people received in return for their “expropriated” deposits? Must be worth a fortune. If people still received stock certificates as a matter of course, at least these could be framed as memorabilia, yet another testament to the financial follies of humanity. But it’s all just electronic entries these days. Switch a few bits and bytes and then who owns what?

And the whole Cyprus action is breaking down anyway:

     The Cyprus Bail-In Blows Up: President Urges Complete Bailout Overhaul

Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades has realized (as we warned), too late it seems for the thousands of domestic and foreign depositors who were sacrificed at the alter of monetary union, that the TROIKA’s terms are “too onerous.” Anastasiades has asked EU lenders to unwind the complex restructuring and partial merger of its two largest banks…

Not that the bail-outs actually worked either. Despite the fact that the EU leaders touted each of the first three Greek bailouts as the final fix, Greece now needs a fourth:

     Greece Has One Month To Plug A €1.2 Billion Healthcare Budget Hole

Think Cyprus is the only country that will need a repeat bailout (as the FT reported earlier)? Think again. Cause heeeeere’s Greece… again…. where as Kathimerini reports, a brand new, massive budget hole for €1.2 billion has just been “discovered.

And here’s another nice theft tactic. Well, nice if you are the bank. The Bank of Ireland just doubled the interest rate on existing floating rate mortgages where the fine print allowed them to do so:

     Bank Of Ireland Doubles Mortgage Rates, Homeowners Fear More To Come

And expect to hear a good deal more about wealth taxes in the coming months:

     German ‘Wise Men’ push for wealth seizure

Professors Lars Feld and Peter Bofinger said states in trouble must pay more for their own salvation, arguing that there is enough wealth in homes and private assets across the Mediterranean to cover bail-out costs. “The rich must give up part of their wealth over the next ten years,” said Prof Bofinger.

And last but not least, you know all that money sitting in retirements accounts? Multiple countries have nationalized such accounts in recent years. People like former Republican Administration insider Catherine Austin Fitts have been warning people that US politicians salivate when they contemplate getting their hands on that pool of $18 trillion.

OK, just three final (brief!) comments:

1. You’ve heard the old saying about someone who “wants your money in their pocket.” The problem here is most people’s money is already stored in “their pocket,” that is, it’s already being held by the institutions that want to grab it.

2. That thing about the banks going after people for more money after they have already foreclosed on them? Too bad we don’t have a Charles Dickens around to dramatize this type of behavior, maybe then people would get the depth of depravity in this system.

3. Tread carefully out there, folks, it looks like acceleration spares nothing, so I think you want to be real careful about “wait and see.” You know my view: banks are for transaction accounts, not savings.

Next time we’ll cover another big pile of electronic money, brokerage accounts.

Accelerating Truth

Most people have been trained to internalize only those ideas that come from honchos, that is, political and religious big shots, “experts,” very rich people, celebrities, etc. The powermongers capitalize on this when faced with criticism of the system by often resorting to what the logicians call ad hominem attacks, that is, they deflect attention from the criticism by attacking the person delivering it, attempting to undermine that person’s credibility. They characterize the malcontents as crazy, unpatriotic, uninformed, uneducated, or as crackpots, charlatans, imbeciles, demons, and so forth, while never addressing the issue at hand.

So for a more general public understanding of the nature of our system, it helps when people considered to be honchos start publicly discussing what is in fact going on. Other honchos are less likely to try to pull the ad hominem attack on one of their own. In other words, truth about the nature of our system needs to emerge from the blogosphere and into the mainstream. This process is accelerating.

Below is a link to an amazing video showing Columbia Professor Jeffrey Sachs speaking to a conference organized by the US Federal Reserve:

     Columbia Economist Dr. Jeffrey Sachs speaks candidly on monetary reform

He begins by reporting that he was just at a meeting with foreign ambassadors at the UN who were asking:

“Why are we taking advice from the people who have managed the financial system so badly?”

He goes on to say that while people expect economists to talk about statistics and monetary issues, that the real problem with the system is as follows:

We have a mountain of criminal and fraudulent behavior…The amount of utter criminality and financial fraud is absolutely enormous…This is what’s called the American financial system at the moment.  It’s an unregulated essentially lawless environment…

This is a profound failure of government…

I regard the moral environment as pathological…

We have a corrupt politics to the core. Both parties are up to their necks in this. It really doesn’t have anything to do with right wing or left wing. The corruption, as far as I can see, is everywhere.

Sachs follows that by saying that he meets with the top Wall St CEOs on a regular basis and the common feature he observes is that these people believe they can do anything they want, legal or not, with impunity. And that given their takeover of the politicians and regulators, they are correct!

Now this isn’t coming from MIT’s Prof. Noam Chomsky–who, let’s face it, was decades ahead of all of us in pointing out the criminality of the corporate/political system–it’s coming from a highly respected Columbia professor.

For a few years now, the money printing central banks such as the US Federal Reserve (the central banks have directly printed at least $16 trillion and counting) have been told by bloggers that this money is not supporting jobs and the economy, but rather that it is going to the rich who are bidding for financial assets and causing bubbles in multiple asset markets including stocks, bonds, and real estate. People like Ben Bernanke, his henchman, and academic and Wall St economists have denied this.

But now we find out, from a Freedom of Information Request by Bloomberg and from a leaked Fed document, that the banking insiders who advise the Fed are finally saying the same thing that the continuously-discredited bloggers have been saying all along: that the money printing is creating bubbles in farmland prices and student loans, and:

There is also concern about “an unsustainable bubble in equity and fixed-income markets given current prices.

And for years, bloggers have said that the central banks cannot possibly stop printing more and more money or the whole edifice will crumble, another charge that is roundly derided. The Fed has claimed repeatedly that it has the tools to undo all the money printing so that it will never cause a problem. But now their own banker advisory panel says that if the Fed stops printing, it “may be painful for consumers and businesses…” and thatthe Fed may now be perceived as integral to the housing finance system.” In other words, if the Fed stops printing, the “housing finance system” will collapse. Which it would. In a heartbeat.

People like Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone have been stalwart in documenting the ongoing manipulations in the interest rate, municipal bond, derivatives, and oil markets. And others have offered very strong evidence of manipulation of the stock market and precious metals markets. Taibbi recently wrote that “everything is rigged.” The US Bond market, the largest in the world, is certainly rigged: the Federal Reserve itself buys 75% of the bonds issued by the US Treasury. And the Fed announces, at the start of each month, which days it will be buying bonds through the Wall St firms in the coming month. The stock market always rises on those days. Always. Why? Because the Wall St firms take that money, leverage it up by further borrowing, and buy stocks. The Fed wants exactly that: they believe that a rising stock market makes people feel a “wealth effect” and therefore they will go out and spend more money in the real economy.
So finally, along comes one the largest banks in the world, Deutsche Bank, saying:

We would stress that we fully understand why the authorities wouldn’t want free markets to operate today as the risk of a huge global default and unemployment cycle would still be very high.

And a recent member of the Federal Reserve Board, Kevin Warsh, said that their money printing is not working and they are losing credibility:

…over the last several years, [the Fed] has over-promised and under-delivered, and the bank’s most important asset – credibility – is under attack.

One would think that, if their strategy isn’t working, that they have other tools they can bring to bear. That’s what they tell us. But Warsh says, “There is no Plan B.”

Bloggers have been warning that European banks are insolvent and getting worse all the time. Now the European Central Bank itself admits that the “euro zone’s slumping economy and a surge in problem loans were raising the risk of a renewed banking crisis.”

Here is an interview with the President of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, that place where they trade paper and electronic instruments that have an increasingly tenuous connection with physical things like gold, silver, copper, oil, etc. From the interview:

What’s interesting about gold, when we had that big break two weeks ago we saw all the gold stocks trade down significantly, we saw all the gold products (ed: futures) trade down significantly, but one thing that did not trade down, was gold coins, tangible real gold.  That’s going to show you, people don’t want certificates, they don’t want anything else.  They want the real product.

Then there is the supposed eternal juggernaut of the Chinese economy that will keep all the other floundering countries afloat. Much of that juggernaut has been propelled by debts taken on by local governments to promote the economy in their areas. But now the Financial Times reports this:

A senior Chinese auditor has warned that local government debt is “out of control” and could spark a bigger financial crisis than the US housing market crash.

Zhang Ke said his accounting firm, ShineWing, had all but stopped signing off on bond sales by local governments as a result of his concerns.

Last but not least, an insider is finally speaking up about nuclear power plants in the NY Times:

All 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Monday…

The position of the former chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, is not unusual in that various anti-nuclear groups take the same stance. But it is highly unusual for a former head of the nuclear commission to so bluntly criticize an industry whose safety he was previously in charge of ensuring.

This system is coming apart at the seams. Insiders and whistlebowers are finally describing the details. The US Government realizes this and is desperately trying to keep whistleblowers from telling the truth by filing charges against them and trying to ruin their lives. Ultimately, it won’t work. I just hope that everyone reading here takes those actions they need to take. By the time the collapse is on the television Nightly News and Page 1 of the newspapers, with the system honchos all claiming “No one could have seen this coming,” it will be too late.