More cycles

Yet another instance of the accelerating flood cycle: a photo from the devastating Himalayan floods, indicating a stance people might wish to take during these times:

submerged-lord-shiva-idol-in-rishikesh-1

* * *

Despite being surrounded by the cyclic nature of physical life (breathing, heartbeat, blinking, day/night, tides, seasons, birth/death … and the less visible or invisible: sound waves, radio waves, x-rays, microwave cooking, evolution … and for a fun contemplation of large astronomical cycles, see this and this), for the most part, people tend to ignore cyclicality in favor of seeing life as a straight-line progression. This is unfortunate for at least two reasons: first, because all form is cyclic—form emerges, flourishes to some extent, and dissolves; second, because there are some not-so-obvious cycles that offer understanding for what is otherwise quite mysterious. In fact, here at Thundering Heard, we are on a path to discuss the biggest cycle of them all for people, a cycle that, once grasped, contains the answers to “little” questions like the meaning of life, why are we here, and so forth. But first, let’s get more adept at seeing the cyclic aspect of life and how important it is.

The Sunspot Cycle

There is a peak of sunspot activity every 10 to 13 years, with 11 years being the average for each cycle. A chart of the peaks and troughs of sunspot activity from 1926 to 2009 looks like this:

Sunspots_Longer_Annot3

Let’s look at the three peaks labeled A, B, and C.

The peaks of sunspot activity often really “rev people up” financially, that is, there is typically an excitation of human activity that leads to a financial market bubble that coincides with the sunspot peak.

Three peaks ago, the peak in 1980, labeled A above, coincided with the peak of the commodity price boom and price inflation that took place in the 1970s after Nixon defaulted on the US promise, made near the end of World War 2, to always support conversion of Dollars into gold. Those were the days when the so-called Misery Index (inflation plus the unemployment rate) was tracked in daily newspapers, and mortgage rates in the US rose to 18%.

Here’s a closer look at the last two peaks of sunspot cycle activity:

Sunspots_2_Annot

The cycle peak labeled B was in 1990 and corresponded with the peak in Japan of bubbles in their stock and real estate markets. This was the time when it was generally held that Japan Inc. would rule the world, or at least own it; that its economy would soon be the largest in the world. A single block of downtown Tokyo real estate was said to be worth more than all of the real estate in California. Now that’s a bubble! (We’ll see in our next post on cycles why that Japan bubble grew so large when we cover another cycle that also contributed to this Japan peak. When multiple important cycles converge, the results can be gargantuan.) Following that peak, Japan experienced what has come to be called The Lost Decade, though it has now run for two decades. Both their stock and real estate markets lost 75% of their “value” after that peak, and they still have not come anywhere close to recovering their former glory as Japan has been mired in nearly constant recession ever since.

The sunspot peak labeled C aligned with the peak in the internet/technology stocks in the Spring and Summer of 2000, another famous bubble. Again money flowed, this time into Pets.com, Webvan,com, Geocities,com, DrKoop.com, and many others, most of which had little going for them except an idea and a web site. Little or no sales, no profits—who cared! They were going to the moon. It was a New Paradigm. If you thought it was insane, you “just didn’t get it.” And the thing is, that craziness for internet stocks had been in play for a few years; that hoopla could have ended in 1998 or 1999. But it didn’t. It ended when the sunspot cycle peaked in 2000.

Looking back, it would have been great for the participants in those bubbles to be aware of the sunspot cycle peak. They could have sidestepped a lot of trouble. So what’s going to happen this time around? Well, for a few years, I have thought that  this economic cycle might hang on into the peak of the current sunspot cycle, called Solar Cycle 24, which was projected for August 2013. But Amon Ra may have thrown us a curve ball. It looks like this cycle will not have the usual single large peak, but rather a dual peak like Solar Cycle 14 from the early 20th Century. According to solar physicist Dean Pesnell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center:

“This is solar maximum. But it looks different from what we expected because it is double peaked.” Pesnell noted similarities between the current cycle and Solar Cycle 14, which happened between February 1902 and August 1913 and experienced a double peak. If the two cycles are in fact twins, he said that “it would mean one peak in late 2013 and another in 2015.”

Here is a chart that shows the peak in 2000 plus our current cycle:

sunspts_predict_l

If the NASA guy is right, there should be a bubble peak in either 2013 or 2015. But a bubble in what? Here are some clues:

  • Lots of savings accounts pay only 0.01% in interest.
  • Mortgage rates got near 1% in Japan and 3% in the US. (Would you lend money to a stranger for 30 years for 3% interest? Neither would banks, which is why almost all mortgages need a guarantee from a government program or the banks won’t make the loan.)
  • Short-term interest rates in Germany and Switzerland recently went negative. That’s right, if you wanted to lend money to Germany or Switzerland on a short term basis, you had the pay them for the privilege.

If you think these phenomena don’t make a lot of sense, you are right. But it points to the culprit that has all the hallmarks of a monster bubble: the world government bond market. The bull market in bonds has been running for over 30 years. On May 2, if you wanted to lend money to Germany for 10 years, they would pay you an interest rate of 1.2%; the US, 1.6%. And if you wanted to lend Switzerland money for 10 years in December, they were paying a whopping 0.4%. Japan? 0.45%.

And in the case of Japan in particular, they are working very hard to devalue their currency, to make sure the yen falls in value. So the question is, who in their right mind would lend to these countries for such a pittance in interest, especially while most of them are printing money to intentionally debase the value of their currencies!?! You get a very poor interest rate and, if you get your capital back, it will be in a currency that will have fallen in value over 10 years. Yet, that is what institutions and people are doing. Recently, if you wanted to get a reasonable interest rate on 10-year government bonds, then you would have lend money to the country of Rwanda; they paid 7% on a recent offering of 10 year bonds. Best of luck getting your capital back 10 years from now.

When this bubble bursts, the consequences will be huge. This is not a bubble in one country, like Japan in 1980, or in one sector of the economy, like tech stocks in 2000, we’re talking about government bonds, worldwide! This is the market that supports military spending, education, transportation, and just about every safety net (in the US: Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, and so forth) on the planet. And you get this paltry interest rate when you might not even get your capital back in 10 years. A number of governments are on a clear trajectory for bankruptcy; there is a good chance that bond buyers will not get their capital back! And yet they lend huge amounts of money to these governments. Especially Baby Boomers, they have been pouring money into bond funds. Just like they poured money into stocks in 2000, and real estate investments in 2006. Oh well.

When do I think the bond bubble will pop? This year! 2013. I don’t think it can last to 2015. In fact, the bubble pop may have already started. And guess which institutions count government bonds as their major “stable” capital: banks. Yet another reason to watch out for the banks!

Furthermore, the solar cycle might actually peak this year. The NASA guy might be wrong about the dual-peak forecast.

What will it mean if this bubble pops? It means interest rates will rise, possibly a lot. This will strongly increase the amount of interest governments must pay on their debts. Their deficits will skyrocket.

Mortgage interest rates are closely tied to the government bond market, so mortgage rates will rise as well. (US mortgage rates rose from 3.88% to 4.35% just over the last week!) And if government deficits skyrocket, programs will need to be cut, so the massive support they are currently providing for the mortgage market will be in jeopardy, threatening even further rate increases.

Still, two cycles that we will discuss in the next post about cycles argue for that 2015 date.

* * *

I would like to make one thing very clear: If you woke up tomorrow and heard that a large “systemically important” international bank had collapsed, causing chaos in the rest of the financial system, and that most banks would be closed for some number of days, would you really be surprised? Probably not. Many people are starting to get the idea that the system is not exactly solid. I am certainly in that camp. So when I talk about August 2013 or some month in 2015 as the month when the real systemic collapse will commence, please know that, in my view, the more-than-sufficient conditions are in place for that full system collapse to happen at any minute. Discussions like the one above are an attempt to get a handle on probabilities. In terms of preparation, acceleration is not to be trifled with: I think that everyone should be doing what they can to be prepared now. If it turns out there is more time for preparation, fabulous, this type of preparation takes awhile and I’m sure we can all use the time. But that time may be short indeed. As the photo at the top of the post shows, when change arrives in your area, it may be monumental change.

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.

Waterfall of Emerging Truth

Really, what’s happening is, it’s a change in the rules of the game, which means that your cash is increasingly at risk of ending up in the government’s hands.
–Philippa Malmgren, former Special Assistant to the President of the United States for Economic Policy

So, acceleration of US government scandals, acceleration of truth emerging from the shadows into the mainstream, acceleration of clear signs of governments desperate to hold onto power. Wow, if you’ve been reading the news, you know that things are starting to move very quickly:

NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily

NSA PRISM program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others

–The US has extensive offensive cyber warfare capabilities. According to a US intelligence source, “We hack everyone everywhere.”:

     Obama orders US to draw up overseas target list for cyber-attacks

–Youtube gets a video of a former Canadian Defense Minister saying that UFOs and extra-terrestrials are real, that some of them work in and with the US government, and that there is a worldwide cabal that runs the planet for their own purposes:

Who are these vested interests, and what are they up to? …I have broadened and deepened my definition to cabal, and the cabal comprises members of the Three Sisters—the CFR, Bilderbergers, and the Trilateral Commission—the international banking cartel, the oil cartel, members of various intelligence organizations, and select members of the military…who together have become a shadow government of not only the United States, but of much of the Western world. The aim of the game is a world government comprising members of the cabal who are elected by no one and accountable to no one. And according to Mr. Rockefeller, the plan is well advanced. Does this help you to understand why our civil rights are being taken away from us?

–And weather wildness continues to accelerate, Oklahoma seems to get more than its share:

The National Weather Service reported Tuesday that the killer tornado that struck near Oklahoma City last Friday was a ferocious EF5 twister, which had winds that neared 295 mph… The weather service also said the twister’s 2.6-mile width is the widest ever recorded. According to the National Severe Storm Laboratory, the tornado blew up from one mile to 2.6 miles wide in a 30-second span… There have only been eight F5/EF-5 tornadoes in Oklahoma since 1950, the Weather Underground reports, and two of them have hit in the past two weeks. The other hit Moore on May 20, killing 24 people.

We’ll have more comments on all of that government stuff soon, but today, as part of observing this waterfall of emerging truth, let’s review material from an interview with a true insider. As stated in the post Accelerating Truth, more insiders seem willing, finally, to speak publicly about what is going on.

The insider for this post is Philippa Malmgren. She has served in the White House as the liason between the White House and the Federal Reserve, as the person responsible for all financial market issues for the President, and perhaps most importantly for our discussion today, she was part of what is officially called the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, but which is known on the Street as the Plunge Protection Team. The PPT was created in early 1988 in reaction to the stock market crash of 1987. This crew goes to work when markets aren’t doing what the White House wants them to be doing and they interfere in whatever way they deem necessary. While the details are not disclosed, these people are said to have access to a very large pile of cash to push markets where they want them to go.

Philippa gave an amazing interview this weekend to King World News.  Here are some quotes:

…the magnitude of the debt that is held by the United States, and indeed by all of the industrialized economies that have a debt problem, is so great it cannot be paid down. The human suffering involved would be so far beyond our capacity to withstand, so it has to be defaulted on.

* * *

Look, we are in a world where every major industrialized government doesn’t have the funds to deliver on the promises they’ve made to the public. So they are going to reach for the public’s cash in different ways…. Some of it is through higher taxes. Some of it is what I would call ‘expropriation,’ although taxation and even inflation are a version of that. But for example, Portugal, about a year ago, announced that they were nationalizing three of Portugal Telecom’s pension funds and placing the assets on the government’s balance sheet so that the government’s balance sheet would look better for the purposes of negotiating with the EU.

Now, were those pensioners expropriated? Yes. It made page 14 of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, as if it was a non-event. But I think what we saw in Cyprus, a really overt expropriation, we are going to see that come in lots of different forms (going forward). Some of it will be obvious like Cyprus. Some of it will be subtle like Portugal, but what’s sure is that it’s happening.

So, yes, we have a really important political, philosophical battle now as states (and governments) try to find a way to take your cash in order to fund themselves, and not necessarily to the citizens best interest.

Really what’s happening is it’s a change in the rules of the game, which means that your cash is increasingly at risk of ending up in the government’s hands. So this is what we need to be alert to around the world.

* * *

You just have to whisper at it (the price of gold), and you can move it big time. Are governments good at that? Yes, they are good at that.

* * *

It is true that governments hate it when gold starts going through the roof, especially when they are in the midst of the largest devaluation, currency debasement strategy ever known…. We have never seen so many large industrialized economies all adopt this strategy simultaneously.

* * *

…this is one reason that many of the institutions that I’m advising are very wary about gold is because they do feel it’s subject to manipulation. That (as a result) the volatility is too heart-stopping to withstand.

And they are looking at other options. One option is definitely the world of diamonds. I see lots of private wealth moving in that direction. That’s one reason we see diamonds hitting absolutely record high prices. It’s because you can move an immense amount of value across a border with this thing in your pocket that a metal detector cannot find.

By the way, I was in charge of anti-money laundering policy for the U.S. government, so I’m not condoning this. I’m just saying it’s a fact. In a world where inflation pressures are definitely ripping through emerging markets, people want to move ‘value.’ And in a world where currencies are being debased, they want to hang on to value.

I’ve said a number of those things on this site, some in almost precisely the same words. The web sites listed on the Blogroll for this site published most of these things earlier than I did. These things are not complex. They are easy and clear. But I thought that perhaps these things would mean more to readers if they heard it from a true big-time insider. Let’s summarize:

1. Governments made lots of financial promises they cannot keep.

2. Governments have borrowed way more money than they can ever pay back.

3. They will try to disguise Points 1 and 2 by printing a lot of money because they see this as the most palatable way to default on their obligations, that is, they will pay their debts in money that is worth less and less and less…

4. Governments are going to do whatever they can to confiscate money from people to remain in power, in both subtle and overt ways.

5. Governments who are debasing their currency hate it when the gold price rises as a direct reflection of people trying to defend themselves from the money printing and the confiscations. So they will try to keep you in their confiscation system by scaring you away from gold. By having the price of gold and silver move wildly when priced in dollars, what governments are trying to do is to convince you that an unbacked currency that can be created digitally in infinite quantities is stable…and that gold and silver, honored as money for thousands of years, is not.

Philippa mentioned diamonds for wealth preservation and that has not been mentioned at all on Thundering Heard. The reasoning is threefold: I am not an expert on diamonds; I have heard of other non-experts who attempt to preserve wealth via diamonds and get fleeced by those who are experts; and the diamond market is a cartel run by DeBeers and the Russians where price is falsely supported by these suppliers withholding huge supplies of diamonds from the open market, so in my view, if their cartel ever gets broken, the price crash in diamonds will be epic.

However, Philippa is right: at least for now, for hiding portable wealth, diamonds are very tough to beat. And her clients are large institutions, sovereign wealth funds, etc. These people can afford to hire experts to make sure they don’t get fleeced when they buy diamonds. So if you have such expertise yourself, or access to it through friends, diamonds might be a very good way to go. But if you do not have access to such expertise, in my view, gold is far better because if you buy minted bullion coins from a reputable dealer, you don’t need to be an expert. Though I guess it is best to mention that the following quote was the advice for getting through the financial collapse from a book mentioned in What is the Transition? Conclusion, that is, the Sanctus Germanus Prophecies Volume 1, published in 2003:

Buy minted gold and silver coins, other precious metals or color gemstones. This is your 100 percent guarantee against the financial collapse. Store them in a safe place other than a bank, as bank failures will multiply. Few, if any, will survive. The US and other country currencies will collapse just as the Confederate currency did after the Civil War in the US.

The overall message here is: if you have savings in bank or brokerage accounts, governments are trying to figure out how to grab that money. They are making this very clear, as I will show shortly in separate posts on the threats to bank accounts and brokerage accounts that have recently been clearly announced by governments.

A Forecast for the Next Eleven Years

Today we’ll review one of the single best pieces of economic / political / social analysis I’ve been lucky enough to see. Read this post and you’ll have an extremely important input for how the world will proceed over the next eleven years. How can I make such a statement? Because this analysis landed on my screen in December, 2007, and it covered the time period from 1995 through 2024, and it has been working extremely well. I promised more about cycles. This is from the world of cycles.

Understand this analysis and you will understand what Ben Bernanke of the US Federal Reserve has publicly admitted has been befuddling him and his colleagues.

At the time of publication at the end of 2007, this analysis said that we had reached a major turning point: That while the period from 1995 through 2007 had been characterized by optimism (think of all the “new era” talk), manias (think bubbles in stocks and real estate), high confidence, free enterprise, free trade, globalization, unfettered capitalism, and so forth–all of which had clearly been at the forefront during that period–that the period from 2008 through 2024 would be characterized by caution, fear, contraction, pessimism, restrictions on freedom, economies planned by the state, trade barriers, low confidence, and so forth. Here is part of what was presented:

Manfred_Pluto_Switch_ed

To put it mildly, an awful lot of people would have benefited if they had known about this huge switch that did occur, just as predicted, in January 2008. It really was as if, at the end of 2007, someone threw a big switch and changed things dramatically. Central bankers and politicians around the world are still scratching their collective balding heads about why all of the things they used to do in the past, things that would work to stimulate economies, are barely working today. At first they used their old tried-and-true methods–lowering interest rates, feigning confidence, stuffing cash into the banks, spending money on stimulus plans–and they got an anemic recovery at best. So they pulled out the really big guns. “Unconventional” methods, as they call them. Also known collectively as printing money. Lots of it. Enough since 2009 that they have basically tried to add the equivalent of one year of the US economy to the global economy.

What has it got them? Well, since the printed money went into buying assets rather than creating jobs, the rich and their vendors–Sotheby’s, Porsche, Armani, et al–have done very well. Everyone else, not so well. The huge divide between rich and poor is widening at an accelerating pace. Historically, that has always been a dangerous setup. You can only push people so far before they push back. Sometimes fiercely. Overall, what it got them was continuing recession and debt crises in Europe, a US economy with paltry growth at best, and China joined the club of getting themselves over-indebted to keep their economy growing, but now that excess of debt is coming back to bite them and their economy is rapidly losing steam. Japan remains in near-continuous recession no matter what they do.

Since the analysis above has been working remarkably well for 18 years, it makes a whole lot of sense to figure that it will keep working for the next eleven years. That was the claim for this cycle, that it would have two phases, one from 1995 through 2007, and the second, radically different in tone, from 2008 through 2024.

What could be the cause, the source, of such an influential cycle, one that seems to have changed the energetic tone for the majority of people, from excessive optimism from 1995–2007, to caution from 2008–2024? Let’s show more about what the top of that table looked like when presented in December 2007, right at the point of the big switch:

Manfred_Pluto_Switch_ed2

The table was astrological in nature.  It showed what was about to happen as Pluto moved  from Sagittarius into Capricorn.

This outstanding piece of analysis was put forth by Manfred Zimmel through his web site  in his Forecast Issue for the year 2008. At the web site, you can sign up for his free newsletter or paid subscription service. The information above was given to his paid subscribers only.

Now I know that some readers here have a low opinion of astrology. I would say two things about that: First, I agree that popular astrology as shown in daily newspapers and glossy magazines is worse than useless. Second, as with most complex fields of endeavor, there is a small group of practitioners doing excellent work and a much larger group of practitioners who do not. But excluding astrology from one’s view of the world precludes access to information like the above, which can be exceptionally useful in guiding real world decisions. Also, it can provide an outstanding “truth filter” for claims about the world. For example, the article at this link contains five predictions Bernanke made in 2008 that, armed with the information above, one could see at the time that these were more than likely to be wrong. They turned out to be, in fact, entirely wrong:

1/10/08 — The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession. WRONG

2/27/08 — I expect there will be some failures [among smaller regional banks]… Among the largest banks, the capital ratios remain good and I don’t anticipate any serious problems of that sort among the large, internationally active banks that make up a very substantial part of our banking system. WRONG

4/2/08 — In separate comments, Mr. Bernanke went further than he had in the past, suggesting that the Fed would remain aggressive and vigilant to prevent a repetition of a collapse like that of Bear Stearns, though he said he saw no such problems on the horizon. WRONG

6/10/08 — The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so. WRONG

7/16/08 — [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are] adequately capitalized. They are in no danger of failing… [However,] the weakness in market confidence is having real effects as their stock prices fall, and it’s difficult for them to raise capital. WRONG, they needed bailouts to the tune of $160 billion.

The point here is that automatically excluding information because of its source can put a person at a distinct disadvantage in understanding how the world works and where it is heading. Anyone who has read more than a couple of my posts knows that I regularly give the US Federal Reserve a well-deserved lambasting for its lies, its attempts to get over-indebted people to borrow and spend more, and its only real goal: protecting the stranglehold that the large banks have on our society. But I used one of their reports in 2005 to decide when to sell out of real estate. They published a great research paper in 2005 that analyzed the history of maybe 30 real estate booms and busts from many countries. They said that real estate bubbles popped in the following manner: once sales volume peaked, price peaked, on average, six months later. US sales volume peaked in October 2005, and the US price peak was in June 2006, so their estimate was quite good. I took their research seriously and sold in Feb 2006. They, however, did not take their own research very seriously, at least in their public statements. Here are some quotes from Bernanke in 2007 (I won’t bother putting the WRONG label after each.):

7/1/2005CNBC interview:

INTERVIEWER: Tell me, what is the worst-case scenario? We have so many economists coming on our air saying ‘Oh, this is a bubble, and it’s going to burst, and this is going to be a real issue for the economy.’ Some say it could even cause a recession at some point. What is the worst-case scenario if in fact we were to see prices come down substantially across the country?

BERNANKE: Well, I guess I don’t buy your premise. It’s a pretty unlikely possibility. We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.

10/20/05: BERNANKE: House prices have risen by nearly 25 percent over the past two years. Although speculative activity has increased in some areas, at a national level these price increases largely reflect strong economic fundamentals. (Ha!)

So, acting on the Fed’s research can be very helpful. Acting on their opinions and forecasts is a mistake. They aren’t trying to help you, they are trying to help the banks. Anyone who understands that distinction can put Fed forecasts in the proper perspective.

So the next time you hear rosy predictions about the great recovery that is turning out to be perennially “just around the corner,” whether those predictions are from someone who is mistaken or someone with malevolent intent, now you can understand that what these forecasters are up against is this: for an economy based on debt to grow, they need to get people to borrow more money. And until 2024, people are under the influence of Pluto in Capricorn, and most of them don’t really want to take on more debt. Quite the contrary, a lot of them have replaced the notion of “how much debt can I qualify for” with a wish to have less debt. Many have now seen the slavery of debt and they didn’t like what they saw.

Perhaps after 2024 the economists will be able to stimulate the majority’s “animal spirits” again. The question is: can this financial system, which depends on the constant growth of debt, survive through 2024 with people not wanting more and more debt?  I decided quite some time ago that the answer is no and persistently take those pleasant actions that ready a person for financial system collapse.  I take the influence of this Pluto “big switch” as a small but important part of the energetic change bringing us the long-awaited Transition.

Thanks to Manfred Zimmel for permission to reprint this excellent piece of research.

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.

We interrupt this program…

For two items:

1. The Cyprus Bailout
2. Gold: Last Chance

That title phrase was used when normal television programming was to be interrupted for a special news announcement. And this post is an interruption of sorts—of the What is the Transition series—though actually it is a continuation of a general theme here: Lots of the events that we are all seeing—from earth and weather changes to financial events to the fact that more and more people are taking up meditation by the day—are hints, clues, indicators of things to come. They are not isolated one-off events. They are part of a trend, signs to be read and understood to see what’s coming next. Life has been very kind, bringing things on in evolutionary fashion for anyone who wishes to heed the signs. But things are ramping up. This strongly favors action over a wait-and-see attitude. This first story is a perfect example:

1. The Cyprus Bailout

Europe Does It Again: Cyprus Depositor Haircut “Bailout” Turns Into Saver “Panic”, Frozen Assets, Bank Runs, Broken ATMs

The fifth European national bailout pertains to Cyprus, where receipt of the bailout money is contingent on the confiscation of money directly from people’s bank accounts. The government will take 6.75% of the deposits of anyone with under 100,000 Euros. And they will take 9.9% of anything over 100,000 Euros.

The people will not send in this money, it will be taken directly from their accounts on Tuesday if the Cypriot legislature approves the bailout plan.

Funds to pay the levy were frozen in accounts immediately, ECB Executive Board Member Joerg Asmussen said. The levy will be assessed before Cypriot banks reopen on March 19 after a March 18 national holiday. Sarris said electronic transfers will also be limited until then.

When bankers and politicians want someone’s money…

If a word to the wise is sufficient, one can only hope that more will gain wisdom from this event.  One German newspaper is already suggesting today that a 15% “wealth tax” be levied in Italy to help with its debt problem.

2. Gold: Last Chance

Jim Sinclair (there is always a link to his web site JSMineSet.com on the Thundering-Heard BlogRoll) held lots of gold in the precious metals bull market of the 1980’s, riding the price from $40 to $850 per ounce. He sold his holdings on the very day of the top price in 1980 and thus entered the ranks of investment legends.

In 2003, he started a web site and went public with the prediction, which he reiterated many times in the years that followed, that gold would rise from its 2003 price in the mid-$300’s to $1,620 per ounce by January 2011. He was roundly derided for both the predicted rise of the price and for the precision of the predicted timeframe. It turned out he was off by 8 months: gold’s price did not rise to $1,620 until August of 2011, not January.

The gold price in dollars has been in a sideways correction since late 2011. Recently, Jim has been pounding the table that the current sideways movement in the gold price will be complete before the end of this month, March 2013, and begin its next phase of upward price movement to $3,500 per ounce and beyond. When Jim makes predictions about gold, it pays to listen.

If anyone has been hesitant about buying gold because of claims by those who have been wrong all along about gold that the gold bull market was over, that the “gold bubble” has popped, let’s just look at a few charts, first of gold, and then of charts where bubbles did pop. I think you’ll be able to clearly see that the people claiming a “bubble pop” for gold don’t know the first thing about how to read charts, meaning that they know very little indeed about financial markets. Here’s the longer term chart of gold, from the year 2000 through now:

GoldSince2000 Notice that sideways price drift at the top right of the chart? Chart readers call this a “correction in an ongoing bull market.” It’s a bull market taking a breather before powering higher.

Now, want to see what the chart of a real popped bubble looks like? Here’s a chart of the Nasdaq stock index from Stockcharts.com. This index represented the internet and tech stocks during that time when we were told that there was a new paradigm, that everyone remotely connected with technology was going to be rich rich rich because they had started a web site to sell, well, whatever, it didn’t matter at the time:

Nasd_Bubble

Notice the parabolic upmove as price increased 15-fold in less than 10 years and then: SPLAT! A high-speed drop of 78% in just over two years. Thirteen years and trillions of printed dollars later, the Nasdaq is still 36% below that all-time high price.

Here’s the chart of crude oil from 2003 to 2009 with price rising to $140 per barrel and then crashing back to $32 per barrel in less than a year:

CrudeCrash

Note in both of those cases, no sideways price movement for months and months, as is seen on the gold chart, just a sharp fast very-nasty price crash.

I think Jim Sinclair is correct. I published back in June 2012 (What then can we do?) that people might want to complete their conversion from paper/electronic currency into gold by August 2012. That was a good idea. But cycles research at the time showed that it was possible that we would get one more price downmove, into March of 2013 at the latest, so I did not label that Summer 2012 opportunity as the “last chance” to get gold at a decent price. Now price has come down again into that same area where it was during the Summer of 2012. This time I think that “last chance” phrase is appropriate. Jim Sinclair says, and I agree, that after this month, you won’t ever be able to buy gold anywhere near $1,600 per ounce again.

Cliff Posers, and the Incredible Shrinking US Pie

If the politicians in Washington DC didn’t bring suffering to so many people, their posing with respect to this “fiscal cliff” would be laughable.

First, none of them intends to do anything substantive about the biggest problem of all: the Trillion Dollars the US spends each year on its war machine to maintain its rapidly fading pretense that Earth is part of the US Empire.

Second, none of them are including in their fake calculations the five additional bailouts that they all know are either already in play or right on the doorstep. The four new ones:

  • US Postal Service—losing $ billions every quarter
  • FHA—after “quasi-government” housing stimulus and campaign-finance corporations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went bust because they had enabled millions of insane mortgages, the FHA took over their role and rose from relative obscurity to be the new Federal backer extraordinaire of insane mortgages. As predicted by honest observers, it now needs a bailout.
  • PBGC—the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp is now operating in the red.
  • Student Loans—with the default rate now going exponential, everyone involved in this $ Trillion market will need a bailout. Check the trend on this chart of the 90-day default rate:

StudentLoanDefaultRate

The government headline admits that 11% of these loans are in default, but a reading of the fine print says it’s closer to 22%. That’s 22% of a $ Trillion in loans.

And the bailout that is already well underway:

Social Security—What? Some politicians claim the SSA is good through 2033. Strange claim, given that SSA will run $162 billion in the red for 2012. Well, they say it’s “only” a $47 billion deficit because there was a special payment from the Treasury of $115 billion to offset the “temporary” payroll tax cut. And if you think this year is some exception, the deficit for 2011, before the payroll tax cut, was $46 billion. One of the largest problems for Social Security is this: as cash was paid into the program into what was supposed to be the Social Security Trust Fund, the government spent that money and put IOU’s in the Trust Fund. Well, given the ultra-low interest rates paid on government IOU’s due to the low interest rate regimes run by Greenspan and Bernanke, the Trust Fund is earning at least $700 billion less in interest over the next 10 years than they thought they would be earning. So that thing about SSA being OK though 2033? Oops. For a look at the unhappy calculations, see this.

So how did this happen?

Here is a huge contributor: As reported by the World Bank, government statistics collected from around the world—and pretty much everyone agrees that government stats are just a bit biased to the upside—say that the global economy grew by a total of 9% from 2001 through 2011. By those same stats, in 2001, the US economy was 32% of the total world economy. By 2011, the US economy was just 22% of the world economy. That’s a huge 32% reduction in global market share for the US. These calcs are here.

So the question is: How does a country have its economy shrink by 32% in terms of its share of the world economic pie and yet keep spending a $ trillion a year on war and keep all of its benefit programs and government agencies intact? Doesn’t this lead to some type of breaking point? Normally, yes. But so far, the solution has been simple: the country borrows the money. In 2001, the US owed $6 Trillion. Now it owes over $16 Trillion. But won’t people stop lending to such a country? Yes, but the Federal Reserve prints up new money and buys the excess new debt authorized by Congress and issued by the US Treasury. For the next three years, the Fed admits to planning to buy virtually all of it. See Treasury Scarcity to Grow as Fed Buys 90% of New Bonds. Simple? Yes. Sustainable? Not in the recorded history of this planet.

So when you hear the cliff posers from both parties trying to score political points, remember that what they aren’t talking about is far larger than what they are talking about. And that what they aren’t talking will have a far bigger impact on all of us.

Beware the False Flag Attack

Cruisers, aircraft carriers and minesweepers from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.
The Telegraph

What do Daniel Ellsberg, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former high-level CIA officers Robert David Steele and Michael Scheuer, Seymour Hersh, and the Brookings Institution have in common? All have warned of the possibility of a false flag attack staged by the US and/or Israel to make it look like Iran has attacked and killed US citizens. This is covered in its usual excellent way by Washington’s Blog: “What I Fear The Most Is a False Flag – Something Happening Where One of Our Ships Goes Down, Or … a Plane Goes Down, And of Course It HAD To Be The Iranians, You Know, For Sure, For Certain”

A false flag attack is a war operation carried out by a government against its own people but appearing to be carried out by another group or nation; or an attack about which a government knows in advance but which it allows to freely proceed to demonstrate the evil nature of an enemy it wishes to attack.  The World Trade Center attack on 9/11 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are excellent examples of false flag attacks.  If there is anyone still left on the planet who thinks 9/11 was what the US government says it was, please see the following documentary aired recently on PBS: 9/11: Explosive Evidence — Experts Speak Out.

As the US marks its eleventh year of war in Afghanistan, where 2,000 US soldiers and far greater numbers of Afghanis and Pakistanis have died, many as “collateral damage” from unmanned drone attacks, we think it appropriate to sound the warning because we are convinced that the Powers That Be are aiming to ramp up war to a much greater level.

Why do we think that a large false flag attack is on the way?

To gain public support, large increases in war-making are typically preceded by a false flag attack that is devastating enough to be an emotional shock for in the citizenry. The shock makes people sitting ducks for war propaganda against the alleged perpetrators. People are confused by the shock and are then told precisely where to channel their rage, fear, dismay, etc.

Governments faced with insoluble financial predicaments often try big war as a way out. And many governments, including that of the USA, are in precisely such a predicament.

People and governments around the world are clearly on tenterhooks as shown by recent rioting in many countries, acrimonious borders disputes between Turkey and Syria, China and Japan, etc.

In a few days, the US will have three aircraft carrier groups in the waters off Iran.

And the war propaganda machine is in high gear, in both blatant and subtle ways. Here is a perfect example of the war propaganda machine in its more subtle form. This was the lead story on the front page in a recent USA Today: Defense cuts starting to pinch economy.

First, the idea that war helps the economy, propaganda that most of us were fed in school and which fallacy is still perpetuated by economists such as Paul Krugman, has been debunked by many. Washington’s Blog has covered this topic in great detail: Proof that War Is Bad for the Economy.

Second, while the US Department of Defense (DoD) and its military contractors claim defense spending is falling, others see it, well, otherwise.  Here’s the chart of US defense spending from wikipedia, not including black ops for which no budgets are published:

The bottom area is the budget for the DoD. Above that are other categories of defense-related expenditures that are not included in the formal DoD budget. Both the formal DoD budget and the combination of all expenditures have been rising strongly in unison, even while we have had a Nobel Peace Prize winning president. Also note that most numbers to the right of the vertical dotted line, numbers for the future, are projected to decline. But wikipedia has some honesty here. If go to detail page for this chart, you’ll see previous versions of this chart from prior years. In each of those previous charts, future expenditures were projected to drop. But they never did. When future becomes present, these expenditures always rise strongly. In other words, there are threats of defense expenditure cutbacks, but since the Clinton years, they have never materialized.

Third, whether or not war is good or bad for the economy is clearly a topic of debate. We think it is horrendous, but others claim it is good. So what USA Today is doing here is taking sides in a debate in what was printed as a Page 1 news story. This article is an editorial disguised as news. As such, it is a lie.

Fourth, how about a little common sense. The article, by linking military spending with the concept of a “good economy,” is telling you that war spending is good for you. Tell it to more than a hundred million people who died in wars in the last 100 years.

Fifth, how about some more common sense. The following countries each have one operational aircraft carrier: Russia, UK, France, India, China, and others. The US has eleven operational carriers and three more under construction. Can it really be “good for an economy” to spend trillions on hardware that is very rarely actually used, which is paraded around the world with an armada of other ships in what is called a “carrier group” devouring incredible amounts of fossil fuels, and which hardware is ultimately scrapped when it is deemed obsolete? Does the US really need eleven carrier groups?

This covers just the tiniest slice of the war propaganda machine. But you get the idea. We ask that whenever you hear a report about war, military spending, the countries that are said to be our enemies, weapons systems, or people who go off and get killed or maimed being characterized as heroes rather than as people who were duped by politicians, that you recall this little post and ask: What is really being said here? What is the real point? Who is the actual enemy?

Slings and Arrows

To be or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing, end them.
Shakespeare, Hamlet

Sometimes slings and arrows feel very difficult indeed. But sometimes, and I guess some would say always, they are our friends, as they help to end pernicious cycles. Our increasingly-being-shown-as-notorious financial system is experiencing its end-of-cycle as its lies and chief liars are exposed, as major world banks have been shutting down public access to their systems for days at a time, as criminal hackers have figured out how to pilfer billions from the accounts of high net worth individuals at banks, etc.

We documented the base-level lies in The financial system is based on twelve promises that are lies. But each and every week now, more of the operational lies of the system are revealed.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone reported on a court case showing that the big banks have for decades criminally deceived participants in the municipal bond market, robbing cities, towns, hospitals, etc. of interest payments due to them: The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia.

Too bad that cities and towns are going broke, the banksters must get their bonuses. And their posh offices. Drive around any city in the industrialized world. Who has the largest and fanciest buildings, whose buildings dominate the skylines? Banks and insurance companies. Check it out. But I digress. Back to the latest slings and arrows.

Everyone has probably heard about the LIBOR scandal where the big banks–and it is looking like most or all of them–colluded in criminal fashion to manipulate interest rates. The LIBOR rate is used to calculate the interest rates on myriad types of loans including mortgages, business loans, credit card rates, etc. It is used as the basis for hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of derivatives. The top executives at Barclay’s were the first to be caught, but now RBS has been fined, and Deutsche Bank is under investigation. Others will follow. And the fired CEO of Barclay’s, Bob Diamond, has publicly stated that he was told to manipulate LIBOR by the guy who is second in command at the Bank of England, Paul Tucker. How long before we find out the US Federal Reserve was giving out the same kinds of orders for illegal acts?

And speaking of investigations, how about Spain investigating the top executives of  Bankia, headquarters pictured here, I kid you not:

Photo from Mike Krieger’s site.

A year ago, when they were selling stock in the bank to the public, these executives touted Bankia’s greatness. They stated two months ago that everything was fine, in fact profitable, at Bankia. Within a few weeks, it was determined that the bank needed a $19 billion bailout.

And it looks like JP Morgan has been caught pulling an Enron, manipulating the electric power market in California and the Midwest: JPMorgan’s Role in Power Market Comes Under Scrutiny.

The Vatican can’t resist joining the financial criminality party, assisted, of course, by JP Morgan: Catholic Church Fears Growing Vatican Bank Scandal.

We also have the mystery of large banks shutting their systems to any public access. RBS, one of the biggest UK banks, had a major “system outage” for days that halted the processing of just about everything including credit and debit cards, ATMs, payroll checks, account balance inquiries, i.e., everything! See: As RBS’ ATM “Glitch” Enters Fifth Day, The Bailed Out Bank Issues A Statement.

And yesterday the largest bank in Russia stopped all public access to its systems, so no credit or debit cards swipes would work, no on-line transactions, etc.: RBS ‘Glitch’ Goes Airborne As Biggest Russian Bank Halts All Credit, Debit Card Operations.

RBS gave a potentially plausible explanation of their outage in testimony to the UK Treasury: RBS gives more detail on IT failure train wreck.

However, it seems suspicious that the biggest bank in Russia also had to shut out the public. Perhaps it had something to do with criminal hackers figuring out how to initiate wire transfers from the accounts of high net worth individuals at 60 banks! Haven’t heard of that one? It broke in the news about two weeks ago and was promptly “disappeared” from many websites. As of this minute, the story is still currently available at the Times of India: Cyber criminals may have siphoned off 2 billion euros from 60 banks. From the article:

The study highlighted a highly sophisticated, multi-tiered, global financial fraud ring that is comprised of at least a dozen groups using active and passive automated transfer systems to steal high value amounts from high balance accounts.

“This fraud empire, dubbed Operation High Roller, has impacted every class of financial institution: credit union, large global bank and regional bank, using smaller and less detectable automated transactions,” McAfee said in a statement.

Could it be that these banks recognize that they are being hacked, and their accounts drained, and they have no way to stop it other than preventing all public access to their systems? And why did coverage of this story virtually disappear? That’s an easy one: When criminal hackers hear that a class of juicy targets is hackable, it’s like pouring blood into water near sharks, they all want a piece of the action.  And we can’t have depositors getting nervous about their deposits when the whole system is based on confidence.

Perhaps the problem isn’t hacking. But then how could these large bank systems, famous for their redundancies, backups, and all-around bulletproofness, fail in such catastrophic ways? Could it be that the Sun has decided to make a statement or two about who really runs this sector of the universe? Did 18 M-class solar flares over three days cause glitches in these systems? (Eighteen (18) M-Class Flares Within Last 72 Hours) Followed by an X-class solar flare? (Sunspot Region 1515 Fires Off X-Class Flare) Or are their systems based on MS-Windows? (Joke. Sort of.)

Either way, I have to wonder how people with their savings in electronic accounts feel about that. The system is based on lies. The people who run it are pulling continuous criminal capers, and it looks like they have been doing so for decades. Hackers have figured out how to drain accounts electronically. And the Sun may even be contributing to bank computer mayhem, with NASA admitting that the Sun will be ramping up its activity into mid-2013.

We think it best to consider all of these as indications of a system that is in something beyond peril. It is going down. It will fail. It’s only a matter of time. The pace of slings and arrows impacting the system is accelerating.

Let’s recall that people value money because it is a medium of exchange through which a wild variety of good and services can be exchanged in some comparable way; and a store of value providing one way to save the energy expended in work today to meet needs at some future time. Our current paper currencies (Dollar, Euro, Pound, Yen, etc.) are masters of exchange, but are cascading toward failure as stores of value. Some who have studied the history of money say–and I have no way to verify this–that the longest reigning currency regime based on unbacked paper lasted 41 years. Well, the world went fully into unbacked paper currency in 1971. Add 41 years and you get 2012. Can we set a new record? Perhaps. But the system is showing so many signs of being in its death throes, why take the chance?

People keeping their savings in the banking/brokerage system reminds me of the old Eddie Murphy comedy routine where he asks about movies like Poltergeist and Amityville Horror, “When there’s a ghost in the house, why don’t white people just leave the house?” If profanity offends you, don’t go to the link.

We have all been warned. Over and over. And the warnings are increasingly clear and loud. But we can take arms against this sea of troubles, at least for ourselves. And if we do, we’ll be in a position to help when the slings and arrows end this financial system.

Where there are things to be done, the end is not to survey and recognize the various things, but to do them.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

If You Think You’ll Get Truth

In The financial system is based on twelve promises that are lies, we mentioned that there were a number of people who understood, well before it “went public” in 2008, that the world had a major financial crisis on the docket. Dr. Michael Burry is one of those people. He and his tactics were profiled in the book The Big Short by Michael Lewis. Burry used his insight to make a great deal of money for himself and investors in his money management funds. Once Burry made that money, he knew he had made enough, he closed his funds, and quit the money management business.

Here is what he said recently while giving the commencement speech at the UCLA school of economics, available here, with this quote starting at 14:00 into the video:

In 2010, I published an op-ed in the New York Times posing what I thought was a valid question of the Federal Reserve, Congress, and the President: I saw the crisis coming, why did not the Fed? Never did any member of Congress, any member of government for that matter, reach out to me for an open collegial discussion on what went wrong or what could be done. Rather, within two weeks, all six of my defunct funds were audited. The Congressional Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission demanded all my e-mails and the list of people with whom I had conversed going back to 2003. And a little later the FBI showed up. A million in legal and accounting costs, and thousands of hours of time wasted, all because I asked questions. It seems they would pump me at gunpoint or not at all. That Summer the Federal Reserve put out a paper that concluded that nothing in the field of economics or finance could have predicted what happened with regards to the housing bust and subsequent economic fallout. Ben Bernanke continues to backfill this logic. And I fear that history is being written wrong yet again. The ignorance is willful.

This is how it is in the world these days. Those in charge in government, large corporations, and the media which they own will not tolerate truth about what is either their incompetence or their dishonesty or both. If you think you can get truth from them about what is transpiring, guess again. Relying on their claims is high risk behavior.