What is the Transition? Part 5

ACCELERATION

People’s Perception of Time

Everyone whom I have asked, including young people, feels like time is speeding up, like the day, the week, the year starts, and “before you know it,”, it’s gone. People feel like they have little time to carry out their plans. I would guess that this not universal, but perhaps it is.

Technology

And everyone, or certainly close to it, is aware of Moore’s Law, that the number of transistors that can fit on a chip doubles every two years. And Intel’s David House added that processor performance would double every 18 months. This acceleration in performance, and the fact that the price for that performance has steadily dropped, has changed the world in magnificent ways that have been difficult to envision at any point in time. People like Ray Kurzweil are famous for utilizing this increasing performance and for having made some prescient estimates of the impact of this exponential increase in price/performance, though some of his predictions have been wide of the mark, and it seems his general view that processors will outdistance human intelligence is destined to fail as well since a pathway to program a machine to have a higher self, intuition, noble emotions, will, self-awareness, and a sense of humor seems unavailable, to put it mildly.

Exponential, parabolic trends

As we did with the weather and Earth changes, let’s look at some data.

Money

It took the USA until 1990, that is, over 200 years, to create the first trillion US dollars.  The rate of money growth had increased so much by 2007 that it took less than a year to create each additional trillion.  Now, it’s seemingly all in day’s (OK, maybe a month’s) work. Here’s a chart of the money supply in the US and China combined:

USChinaMoneySupply

Yep, between the US and China, that’s $25 trillion floating around.

Another way to look at things is this: From 1971 to 2007, the world economy grew fourfold. Over the same period, the amount of money floating around increased forty-fold. And central banks were just leaving the proverbial starting gate in 2007; the continuing financial crisis had just begun, and the response was, and continues to be: Print Money!

And don’t think the Europeans want the euro to be left out of this print-a-thon:

ECB_BS

And the Japanese just joined the US and the Eurozone saying they would print “whatever it takes” to get their economy humming again.

And the Swiss!?!? The most pronounced money printing line on this chart (in light blue) represents Switzerland, purported to be so conservative about money. Ah, the good old days! No longer. For the size of their economy, they are the current money-printing front-runner by a wide margin:

CentralBankBalanceSheets

Et tu, Canada? (from zerohedge.com)

CanadaPrinting

And this has little to do with political parties, as shown on this chart of federal government debt in the US:

USDebt_DemsRepubs

though I would ask that you note the super-acceleration of this trend that started in the year 2000.

And in today’s world, the Chinese are the ones doing the heavy lifting in terms of manufacturing, so they are collecting a lot of this printed paper money, in other words, the West prints paper, sends it to China, and gets real goods in return. But the Chinese aren’t stupid, they are well aware of how much more of this paper is being created. So what’s their solution? To get real:

ChineseGoldAccum

The Chinese mine more gold than any other country now—none of which leaves the country–and they import even more physical gold from other countries. Insiders at the London Bullion Market Association, the leading venue in the world for trading physical gold, say that the Chinese are vacuuming out the London gold warehouses. And the Chinese are scouring the planet to buy mines, wells, and so forth, especially in Africa

But really, one would think that, with all this money floating around—there must be at least 200 times the money around now versus 1971–everyone must be rich! But we know that’s hardly the case. Sure, there are other parabolic charts, like the one for corporate profits:

CorporateAfterTaxProfits

The corporations seem to be doing quite well. And US banks had profits of $35 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012 alone. (Yes, the same banks that needed those big bailouts. As a group, they had a total of four quarters where they weren’t profitable. It’s been business as usual ever since. And they are hard at work telling legislators, as they bribe them, that any new regulations will seriously hurt their business.)

But other parabolic charts tell a different story. Here’s one for youth unemployment in the Eurozone (from zerohedge.com):


GreekYouthUnemployment

Yes, that’s over 60% youth unemployment in Greece, with Spain right behind.

And gasoline prices are “doing great”—for the oil companies, that is. Here’s the price chart for the US, with gas up 243% since 1998:

GasPrices

That chart is only through 2011, but since US gas prices just registered their highest ever price for a February here in 2013, this trend does not seem to be in jeopardy.

And the Food Price Index of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is up 132% since the year 2000, with the all-important cereals/grains index up 190%. This is putting an extreme and accelerating squeeze on the budgets of the poor around the world.

This article contains the chart below showing that in 2005, it cost the US government one penny to mint a penny and one nickel to mint a nickel. Now, after all that money printing, it costs twice as much:

PennyAndNickel

resulting in a loss of $436 million for the Government of the US (GUS) to mint pennies and nickels since 2006.

So it seems clear that the accelerating money printing is accelerating the cost of real things that people need: gasoline, food, the metals that go into manufactured products, and so forth.

Here’s the accelerating cost of Social Security in the US:

SSA_TotalCost

Well, we saw the accelerating youth unemployment in the Eurozone above. And the EU just announced that its overall unemployment rate is 12%. And, as this chart shows, there hasn’t been any growth in the EU economy since late 2011 (chart source):

EU_GDP

In the US, GUS says the economy hit stall speed (0% “growth”) in the Fourth Quarter 2012. Here is a chart that shows that, of the 41 largest national economies in the world, only 18% of them expanded in the Fourth Quarter of 2012:

OECD_Expanders

Astute chart readers will notice that such a reading corresponds with the worst recessions (1973-74, 1981-82, and 2008-2009) of the last 50 years, so now you know why the central banks have started printing even more money–yes, accelerating!

How is it going for jobs in the US? As this chart shows,  the US is still 3 million jobs short of where things were in 2008:

JobsUS

Even worse, as the next chart shows, the large increase in the number of people working part-time means that a lot of the apparent job gains shown on the previous chart are part-time rather than full-time jobs:

PartTimeUS

If you think it’s only uneducated people who are suffering from all this, check this:

     Number Of PhD Recipients Using Food Stamps Surged During Recession

The number of PhD recipients on food stamps and other forms of welfare more than tripled between 2007 and 2010 to 33,655, according to an Urban Institute analysis cited by the Chronicle of Higher Education. The number of master’s degree holders on food stamps and other forms of welfare nearly tripled during that same time period to 293,029, according to the same analysis.

These job difficulties are reflected in household income in the US. The following chart shows two problems. While the red line shows income growth since 2000, it is still lower than it was at the start of the financial collapse in 2007. And the blue line shows household income adjusted for inflation. When GUS-calculated inflation is taken into account, income for the average household is 8% lower than it was 13 years ago:

RealIncome

Here is a chart of US household net worth (annotated by Of Two Minds) compared to all of the debt that has been created, showing that all of that debt is not making people richer:

NetWorthbyDebt

All of these economic charts were compiled by governments who, as we’ll show in a future post on the acceleration in lying, have a strong vested interest (it’s literally and even proudly called MOPE by academics—Management of Perception Economics) in making things look better than they are. In that light, I ask that you consider the following two charts compiled by a private bunch of computer geek types at a place called Consumer Metrics Institute. They thought, in this time of highly-networked business, that it was silly to have to wait until governments spent months collecting data before telling us what happened some months back, that the data could be collected and reported in near-real-time. If you wish, you can find out what they do at their FAQ.

But what they essentially do is track, in real time, discretionary purchases for things like automobiles, housing, vacations, durable household goods and investments.

These two charts show the trend in these purchases where a value of 100 would equal the same level of purchasing as was taking place in 2005. The first chart is the last 60 days:

CMIRecent

And the second chart is of the last three years:

CMILong

So, both charts show their index hovering around 85 or lower, which means that this large portion of the US consumer economy is 15% smaller than it was in 2005! Perhaps that aligns better with the income and net worth charts shown above rather than the rosy “we’re in a wonderful economic recovery” MOPE spewed by minions of The Powers That Be.

So what it looks like is that all that money printing is making a select few richer and, by driving up the prices of real goods, squeezing regular people—whose income is falling and who spend a far greater percent of their income on real goods. And the Western central banks say it isn’t their fault that people are rioting in countries where people’s costs for food have gone from 40% to 80% of their income. Nope, they aren’t driving prices up at all with their money printing, it’s those “evil speculators.” Well, perhaps it is evil speculators, but they are aided and abetted by a vast surplus of gambling chips supplied by the central banks.

There’s more to come. Stay tuned for Part 6.

Gold Goes Mainstream

Gross: Stock and bond managers today must be alchemists: turn lead into gold. NOT likely. Too much lead (bubbled assets).
–Tweet from Bill Gross, Founder of PIMCO, which manages $1.8 trillion

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“Do you own gold?” “Oh yeah. I do…There’s no sensible reason not to have some.”
–Ray Dalio to the Council on Foreign Relations

This is being written to put the precious metals market in a larger context for those people who still see the world proceeding much as it has proceeded in the past, a world without the large financial and supply chain disruptions that we foresee.

Strong multi-year upmoves in the price of any asset, aka a secular bull market in that asset, go through three stages:

  1. The speculative, early-proponent phase during which the mainstream investment community ignores or derides the potential of that asset.
  2. The mainstream phase, where the mainstream decides that exposure to that asset is a good idea for just about everyone.
  3. The mania phase, where just about everyone feels that they must own that asset and will tell you so when you meet them by chance in the supermarket.

Phase 1 for gold has been marked by derision from the mainstream investment community. Quoting Keynes, they call gold the “barbarous relic.” Otherwise-intelligent economic commentators such as Nouriel Roubini have been calling for a price top in gold for several years. Some who are old enough to have experienced the gold bull market of the 1970s have been saying, “We heard all this before in the 1970s, anyone who buys gold now will regret it later.” All of these people have been wrong all along as gold and silver have powered higher in price.

During most of Phase 1, the major central banks of the world have been sellers of gold, preferring to buy government bonds of various countries (such as Greece and Spain!) to “get a return” on their money. Gold has been a far better investment for the last 12 years. Over the last three years, central banks have become net buyers of gold, to the tune of hundreds of tons per year. Most but not all of this buying has come from Asia as the western central banks have been preoccupied with printing money in a mad scramble to keep their markets afloat.

Gold has been in Phase 1 since 2001. Most in the financial community regard it as an annoyance when their clients ask about it. The price increased from $256 in 2001 to $1,911 in August, 2011.

A couple of weeks ago, Ray Dalio gave a presentation to the CFR. He was asked if he owned gold, and he said, “Oh yeah. I do.” This marked the start of Phase 2, the mainstream phase.

Who is Ray Dalio? Most people in the investment community respect him as the best active hedge fund manager on the planet. We mentioned his firm, Bridgewater Associates, in a previous post. They manage about $140 billion. Ray is highly respected in both financial and political circles.

And the CFR is the Council on Foreign Relations. If you had to pick one organization that has the most influence on the mainstream political thought in the US, it would have to be the CFR. It was founded by the Rockefellers. You have to apply for membership. There are currently 4,700 members, including Bill Clinton, Robert Zoellick, Janet Yellen, Paul Wolfowitz, Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon…in other words, the CFR is the public face of The Powers That Be/Were.

Now that all of these mainstream movers and shakers have heard from what some consider the smartest money man on the planet that owning gold is a good idea, well, if we haven’t yet convinced you to get rid of a mainstream financial advisor such as a broker, said broker is likely to be calling you in the not-too-distant future with their “innovative” idea that you should get some gold. Of course, being mainstream, they will likely advise you to own it in paper rather than physical form, which will be a big mistake, but that will be their advice. And they will advise that you put a maximum of 5% of your assets into gold or gold mining stocks. In normal times, this would characterize the mainstream phase for gold, during which its price would rise steadily for years.

More evidence that we’ve entered the mainstream phase comes from Bill Gross, known to many as the “Bond King.” Gross founded PIMCO, which manages over $1.8 trillion. Yes, that’s trillion with a T. Almost all of the money is in conservative bond funds. But here’s a tweet this week from Gross:

Gross: Stock and bond managers today must be alchemists: turn lead into gold. NOT likely. Too much lead (bubbled assets).

Note that Gross, the Bond King, is saying that stocks and bonds are bubble markets. That money managers should turn that lead into gold. Though he also says that’s not likely.
Those who hate gold claim gold is in a bubble. Great examples of bubble markets are internet stocks in 1998 through early 2000; or real estate running up to 2006; or government bonds now. Gold, on the other hand, has had a nice steady rise for years, nothing meteoric or bubble-like at all. And here is someone, Bill Gross, who may know more about bonds than anyone on the planet, saying that bonds and stocks are the bubble, not gold.

Gold can’t possibly enter a bubble until it enters Phase 3, the mania phase. During this phase, you will be regaled on a regular basis from media sources and individuals with stories of people who got rich from gold and silver. Like the stock day traders of the year 2000, or the real estate flippers of 2006, there will be lots people trading gold on a daily basis, probably at gold trading shops like the day trading shops that were operating in 1999. People will be quitting their jobs to trade precious metals to “make their fortune.” 90% of people who talk about gold will assure you that it is the surest thing on earth to guaranteed riches. CEOs of gold mining companies will be like rock stars, getting interviewed by Charlie Rose. That’s what a bubble looks like. How many people do you know who own gold and silver?

Now, with the acceleration that is all around us, it is unlikely that we will proceed through these three phases of a secular bull market as we would in normal times. It is far more likely that gold will have a meteoric rise quite soon. But if you think that the world will proceed in a conventional manner in the years to come, we have outlined the path of the precious metals for you.

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?

A Quick Note on Them

We are creating a detailed future post on Them. You know, The Powers That Be/Were. It will make a strong point that those in the true ruling class on this planet have intelligence and will. And these abilities are well-honed in them. In part because that’s all they have. They are not in the least hampered in their pursuit of power by those abilities that are highly valued by the vast majority of us, namely compassion, wisdom, love, and an allegiance to peace and freedom for all. They simply don’t have these things. That is what’s so tough to understand about them. If you think these statements are incorrect, please read this article:

Poor In India Starve As Politicians Steal $14.5 Billion Of Food

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.

How The Powers That Be become The Powers That Were

In a word: TRUTH! Truth in plain sight for all to see.

Here’s an article about the head of the IMF (International Monetary Fund), Christine Lagarde, talking tough to Greeks, telling them to pay their taxes:

It’s payback time: don’t expect sympathy – Lagarde to Greeks

And of course she wants the Greeks to pay their taxes, and everyone else too–because she doesn’t pay any taxes at all on her salary and benefits package, which is worth way more than $500,000 per year:

Christine Lagarde, scourge of tax evaders, pays no tax

And if people didn’t pay exorbitant taxes, there wouldn’t be any IMF at all.

But if there weren’t any IMF, then that would be one less conduit for funneling tax money from hardworking people to banksters. Hmmm, can’t have that.

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Hat tips to the UK GuardianZero Hedge, and to Clif High for his repeated use of the phrase “The Powers That Were.”

The financial system is based on twelve promises that are lies, Part 1

At base, the world has a true financial system consisting of people producing goods and services with real value and trading those among themselves. But grafted onto that reality is an intentionally complex and confusing mega-structure built from a series of promises that are lies. As these promises are increasingly understood as lies, this mega-structure is proceeding inevitably down a path to disintegration. The primary purposes of this article are:

1. To provide you with a checklist so you can understand where we are in this process of financial system disintegration. There is a caveat in terms of using this as a serial checklist proceeding over time: more than one of these lies may get generally recognized in a single event, with understanding rapidly communicated to the entire world.

2. To forearm those who wish to prepare with an understanding of what is unfolding. This is a predictable process, but it may feel quite chaotic to the unprepared. With understanding, and with echoes from the words of the immortal Rudyard Kipling, you will be able to keep your head (and your heart!) when all about you may be losing theirs.

3. To encourage people to take simple steps to sidestep the consequences of the widespread recognition of these lies. It is important to understand that general recognition of just one of these foundational lies–the lie that real estate prices always go up–came within hours, in October 2008, of vaporizing almost all of what are considered to be assets in this financial regime. Evasive action needs to be taken before these lies are generally understood. It is better to do your run on the bank before everyone else decides that’s a good idea. Those who prepare will be able to provide some assistance to those who have not.

4. To allow readers to proceed from understanding, not from the fear that leads to panic, and not from the fear that leads to denial or to throwing up one’s hands and pretending there is nothing to be done about all this. We hope this article provides such understanding.

In terms of tracking this process, we have already seen one prominent lie from this system bite the dust:

Lie #1: Real estate always goes up.

The perpetrators of this lie trotted out pithy sayings about population always increasing and “they aren’t making any more land” to somehow prove that real estate prices always go up. People can’t be blamed for this erroneous belief. Many saw real estate prices rising for their entire lifetime. But if one takes a larger historical look, it is obvious that real estate prices obey the Law of Cycles. They rise and fall just like most prices. This cyclical behavior of prices would not have been a problem for most people except so many of them fell for the idea that they should buy one or more properties with borrowed money, with a mortgage. So when prices fell, the amount owed on the mortgage has turned out to be greater than the current value of the house. Which is a nasty problem because, if a person wants to sell such a house, the current sale price is less than what they owe, so they have to pay money to sell their house, money which many don’t have. So they lose their house in a short sale or foreclosure.

For those who now have the urge to bet that real estate prices have fallen enough, the evidence says it’s a bad bet if you are thinking you will get price appreciation. If you are buying with cash to navigate through tough times, that is, you are buying a place where you can grow your own food, produce your own electricity, pump your own pure water, cut wood to heat your house? Good idea, depending, of course, on price and location. But buying or holding real estate thinking that the price will rise? Bad idea. There’s lots of evidence that any miniature “bottom” in prices will be short-lived and that prices will fall for a generation. The main reason? Real estate prices are still floating on a sea of debt. Most governments are still propping up otherwise-dead mortgage markets with government loans and guarantees that only a fool, excuse me, a government, would make. In other words, these are uneconomic loans that no sane person would make, and these insane loans are still propping up real estate prices in a big way. It won’t last.

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The remaining lies are in various states of disarray, but all still play key roles in the mindset that keeps the system intact.

Lie #2: It’s best to use Other People’s Money.

The farther in time we progressed following the 1930’s—the last time there were worldwide losses of homes, farms, and business to foreclosure, the last time governments defaulted on their bonds en masse, the last time there were huge numbers of bank failures—the more people were convinced that saving up money in order to buy something was for morons, and that buying things now, on credit, was the smart thing to do. The big deal became just how much borrowing one could “qualify for.” (This disease still persists for some, which is why, despite all of the pain it has inflicted, Lie #2 has not been relegated to the past in this article.) Paying it back was simple: money was worth less and less over time, everyone knew that; salaries always rose; the price of houses, the main collateral for loans, those always went up.

The result of this mindset is that so many people and organizations and even countries have become debt slaves to the bankers. To quote an anti-debt crusader in
Ireland: “Bankers want you to use your energy and your work to make their dreams come true.” Too bad more people didn’t know that before getting themselves so far into debt that it dominates their life.

Lie #3: We can buy cheap goods from countries that have cheap labor, and yet keep our much-higher salaries and benefits.

We’ve all heard for decades about how manufacturing, and in more recent years services, are moving from the developed world to the emerging markets. People in developed countries love to buy cheap goods from lands with ultra-low labor costs. But they expect their own salaries and benefits to remain the same or even increase. How can that be when the sources of income–that is, the jobs and profits and the tax base–that support that salary and benefits structure have moved to another part of the planet? This divergence between expected lifestyles and the labor required to support those lifestyles is bringing exponentially increasing strain to the developed countries. People and governments have tried to maintain their lifestyle illusions by borrowing more money than they can ever repay. They have used this borrowed money to try to bridge the gap between falling real income levels and their habitual spending. Much of the borrowed funds are coming from the countries currently doing all the work to produce those cheap goods. The signs that this attempt is coming apart at the seams are everywhere for those who choose to look.

Lie #4: Government pension and medical programs will deliver on their promises.

Many currently depend on government pension, medical insurance, and disability programs. Many more consider them an essential ingredient in their upcoming retirement plans. But as discussed in Lie #3, the tax base that supports these programs is rapidly eroding, and their funding assumptions were based on far shorter lifespans, lower medical costs, and flawed demographics in terms of the shrinking number of people paying into the system versus the growing number receiving benefits. And governments forcing interest rates to near zero in lame attempts to boost their economies means that pension fund assets earn far less in interest payments than expected. (This is a serious problem for private pension plans as well, most of whom still claim they can earn 8% on their assets a year on average, something very few are able to consistently accomplish. Without that level of earnings, they will not be able to meet their commitments.) If the liabilities of governments were calculated the way they are for businesses, the governments would be promptly declared bankrupt and hauled into court, where evidence of fraud would be a dominant topic.

Governments have four options regarding this slow motion train wreck:

  1. cut promised benefits;
  2. radically increase tax revenue;
  3. borrow even more money;
  4. print new money. (In the typical fashion of these times, they came up with a new name for this counterfeiting process of printing new money, they call it “quantitative easing.”)

Because the last two options on that list are the most politically palatable and the least painful to current voters, these are the options strongly preferred by politicians. They believe that telling the truth about this situation and taking responsible measures to put these programs on a sound footing would get them promptly kicked out of office, which is likely correct. So they take the borrowing and printing route because the pain from these is hidden from most people, and most of the pain is dumped on people’s children and grandchildren. Oddly, for all the noise people make about wanting to leave great things to their children, most people don’t care a whit about passing this huge government borrowing burden onto the children and grandchildren about whom they claim to care so much.

The problem with the borrowing and printing regime is that markets and people are increasingly catching on that: the borrowings are too large to be repaid; and the printing debases the money people have saved and earn, driving up the prices of necessities. Countries such as Greece, to whom the markets will no longer lend money and which cannot independently print money because of membership in the Eurozone, have already cut retiree pensions by two-thirds, and there are more cuts to come.

And while federal government programs have so far garnered most of the attention in terms of their unsustainability, most state, province, and city pension and insurance programs are no better off, and many are worse off, and they generally don’t have the option to print money. In the US, the Pew Research Center and others have estimated that state and local pension programs are underfunded by more than a trillion dollars. Yes, a trillion dollars is one of those numbers that is too large to comprehend. But the takeaway for anyone depending on these programs is that you will not receive the benefits you expect. And yes, when the bankers need a bailout or the governments want to fight yet another war, then it’s deficits be damned, they can easily come up with a trillion dollars. But when it comes to helping regular people, then it’s: “Sorry, we’d love to help you, but we can’t afford it, we have these deficits, you know, so we can’t help you.”

Lie #5: Your money is in the bank

The banking cartel loves to make you feel like they are rock solid and that the money you deposit with them is “in the bank,” safe and sound. As most actually do know, it isn’t. Or rather, only a small portion of it is actually “in the bank.” The rest, generally 90% to 95% of it or more, gets loaned out. (Or is used by the bank for speculative trading.) The bank pays you, at best, a paltry amount of interest on your deposit, and utilizes your money for something that pays them at a higher rate, and thus makes money from your money. And in many countries, governments assure us that banks are a truly rock solid place for your money by saying that, if the bank really messes things up and loses your money, the government guarantees that you will get it back.

This works quite well—until it doesn’t. This model of banking, the “fractional reserve” system, where only a fraction of the deposits are kept on hand, depends on the idea that not all depositors will want their cash at the same time, so most of the deposits can be loaned out. This is fine until a group of depositors needs that money, or they get frightened that perhaps the bank won’t have their deposit available for them when they want it, and they start a “run on the bank.” We’ve all seen pictures of what that looks like. Some of them show a well-behaved line of people waiting to get their funds. Other pictures show an angry, unruly mob clustered at the front door, perhaps bashing some bank windows. And if the bank has loaned out 95% or more of their deposits, it doesn’t take a large group of depositors to drain all the cash from the bank.

When this happens at a single bank, no problem. The government steps in with its guarantees and depositors are made whole up to the level of what the government guarantees. But in the Fall of 2008, we saw the start of a run on the banking system. Seeing the collapse of some banks and hearing rumors of many more, some people and corporations worried that the entire banking system was going kaput (it was!), and they started withdrawing all they could from the system. So governments quickly stepped in with far larger guarantee programs than had ever existed before, covering types of deposits, such as those in money market funds, that had never been guaranteed before. It was made clear that money would be printed to cover deposits, and so depositors calmed down and stopped their run on the system.

So the problem was solved, for the time being, by governments guaranteeing that the failure of private, commercial, corporate banks would not hurt their depositors. But now, those who astutely foresaw that the 2007-2009 phase of the crisis was coming, and warned about it loudly and clearly before it happened, see that people are rightly suspicious of government guarantees because it is becoming obvious that governments are broke. And who wants to rely on a guarantee from a bankrupt entity! More on this topic below at Lie #8.

The real problem for the banks is that they own what are called toxic assets. When the banks were perceived to be failing, it was because people knew that what the banks were counting as “capital” was losing value hand over fist and that, in fact, many banks, especially the big ones, actually had no capital left at all. Because of the political power of the big banks, governments attempted to solve this problem in three ways:

1) They let financial institutions lie about the value of their assets. They came up with accounting tricks that enable a bank to say that a loan portfolio is worth 100% of what they paid for it even if the collateral backing the loans, for example houses or shopping malls, is now worth far less than 100%. People call this the “extend and pretend” model. It is not a real solution, but it temporarily covers up the problem.
2) They buy toxic assets from the banks at full value and transfer the toxicity to the government. For example, the US Federal Reserve purchased $1.2 trillion worth of mortgage backed securities to take the losses away from the banks and to put taxpayers on the hook for the loss. People call this the “privatization of profits and the socialization of losses” model.
3) They lend them scads of short term cash to keep them afloat. Most banks in Spain would now be closed without the accounting lies from point 1 above and from hundreds of billions of euros worth of short term loans of newly-printed money from the ECB, the European Central Bank.

And in Greece and Spain, for example, some depositors are wising up. Billions of euros of deposits are being drained from Greek and Spanish banks each month, making bank solvency an even more distant hope with each passing month.

Lie #6: Your money is in your brokerage account.

Most people used to think–many still do–that brokerage accounts were safe from the fractional reserve threat to bank accounts, that is, they believed that brokerages did not lend out their money the way banks do, that their deposits to brokerage accounts just sat there waiting for deployment or withdrawal. Ha! Now that we are all wising up, how could we have thought that Wall Streeters could keep their grubby hands off that large pool of money. What the brokerages do is called the hypothecation of these assets, that is, they loan them out for a profit. And the entity, and I use that word intentionally, to whom they loan these assets often re-hypothecates them, that is, they loan those assets to yet another entity. It turns out that the City of London, an entity that operates quite independently of UK law in several respects, is the world playground of re-hypothecation, where the same asset can be re-lent several times. Have you wondered why it’s been so difficult for regulators to determine where the client money is in the recent failure of Jon Corzine’s MF Global brokerage? Look no further than the world of re-hypothecation, in which it can be difficult for anyone to know “where the money is” at any point in time.

So this is another part of the system where everything works well until it doesn’t. If people, intelligently I might add, start withdrawing significant amounts of money from the brokerage industry, they will find that it is yet another fractional reserve environment. So, is your money in your brokerage account really there? Maybe. Remember all that fine print they sent you when you opened your account that you didn’t read? Maybe that part about your account being a “Sweep Account”? Are the Wall Streeters sweeping your money for their profit?

Lie #7: It is OK for financial institutions to use huge leverage.

The Powers That Be/Were who run the financial regime think it is OK for central banks, commercial and investment banks, brokerages, and hedge funds to operate using massive leverage, in other words, massive borrowed funding. The system allows the likes of the Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Deutsche Bank to borrow tremendous amounts of money. In normal times, these big banks are considered reliable borrowers; when times are difficult, they are presumed to be backstopped by their governments.

The huge banks routinely operate at 20 to1 to 50 to 1 leverage. 50:1 leverage means that, for every $2 of reliable capital they have, they can operate in the marketplace as if they have $100. So a 2.5% loss wipes them out, makes them insolvent. In world markets operating at ever-increasing speeds, how can any participant always avoid a 2% loss? They can’t. Thus the financial system goes from crisis to crisis. As long as such large-scale leverage persists, the next bubble, and therefore the next crisis, will never be far off. Big leverage was at the base of every major crisis of the modern financial era: the Crash of 1987, the LTCM debacle of 1998, the tech stock crash of 2000, and the real estate bubble.

So why is this allowed to persist? Because these influential institutions can make a lot of money using leverage when times are good. Money they can use to influence the political and regulatory process. And when times are bad? Their losses are taken over by the taxpayers. Heads they win; tails we lose.

And consider what happened, and continues to happen, in the real estate market, when a buyer only has to come up with a 2% down payment. That means they are operating at a leverage ratio of 50:1. This has worked out very poorly for buyers and lenders. Yet in the USA, the government agency known as the FHA still guarantees hundreds of billions of dollars worth of real estate loans each year where the buyer only needs to come up with 3.5% as a down payment.

Lie #8: The government guarantees it.

Governments love to guarantee things. It makes people feel good, thus helping to secure votes, and typically it costs nothing up front. It’s a politician’s dream. So governments guarantee all kinds of things: bank deposits, mortgages, private pensions, student loans, loans to build what no sane person would build such as nuclear power plants, the bonds for infrastructure projects, loans made by a zillion government agencies, zombie banks (ones that would be promptly out of business if they weren’t being propped up by the government), companies considered too important to be allowed to fail, export-import loans, mortgage-backed securities…the list is long. And we have seen it expand promptly when an emergency hits.

But now people are questioning these guarantees. Iceland actually allowed citizens to vote on some of their government guarantees when the payments actually came due…and the people promptly threw those guarantees out. Guarantees in Ireland are on very thin ice. Very few trust government guarantees in Greece. Portugal, Spain, and Italy are likely next on the docket. In the past, very few people calculated these guarantees as part of government debt because they assumed that a guarantee was sufficient, that because of the guarantee, no money would ever have to actually be paid out. Now some of these guarantees are taking a big bite from government budgets. In the US, billions are being paid quarterly from government coffers into mortgage monsters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to cover losses on guaranteed mortgages.

Note that the public questioning of guarantees is mostly now happening in Europe because the individual countries in question do not have the authority to print new Euros. But the fact is that finances in Japan, the US, and the UK are worse than those in some European countries, but because these countries can print money at will, which they are also doing in volume, people still “trust” their guarantees. It is worth considering whether such trust is well-placed when printing trillions is required to keep the guarantees intact. People and markets will ultimately decide that it is not. It is best to stay ahead of this curve and to understand whether your bank, your pension fund, or any institution on which you rely is on a sustainable path. If it is not, make other plans as well as you can. And take action soon.

Let’s take a break! In tomorrow’s Part 2, we will cover these lies:

Lie #9: Government bonds are safe.

Lie #10: Derivatives reduce risk in the system

Lie #11: Central banks protect the interests of their country and its citizens

Lie #12: Your paper/electronic currency is a reliable store of value.

Many thanks.
Thundering Heard

Toward Clarity in this Time of Major Transition

People do not fall asleep at the time of a raid.
–Rumi, Mathnawi, Book V, 4099

This site is dedicated to those who are bringing light to the many places where unwelcome darkness still plagues humanity. It is dedicated to the architects of a new world.

Humanity and Earth are in a major transition in which we are undergoing transformative and accelerating change. This brings some chaos as old structures collapse, but also the opportunity to rebuild. The time is now.

Understanding the Old Patterns

We hold this truth to be self-evident: that it is not necessary that this planet have war, enslavement of many by the few, debilitating poverty, environmental devastation, counterfeit money, counterfeit food, counterfeit media, counterfeit governance steeped in secrecy and cronyism, and counterfeit religions paying lip service to love while fostering divisiveness and intolerance. Only a very small number of people want life on this planet to be arranged this way. They dominate far too many aspects of life.

We consider it to be crucial to this transition that humanity understands the current dominant structures, how and why they are as they are. Some advise that if we are seeking a world of higher vibration that we forget about the old negatives and focus only on the new, only on the positive. The Powers That Be would like nothing better. They would love to be allowed to continue their dominations. Gandhi successfully countered the British Empire, weakening it. Martin Luther King successfully countered racism, weakening its grip. If they had kept silent, would the world be a better place? Unlikely. The negative must be countered with truth, or it will continue to plague us. If Goldman Sachs, the CIA, JP Morgan, royal families, and the US Federal Reserve are allowed to continue their dominations, we will not get to a new age.

And there is much of great beauty and value in our current world. Our job is to understand what no longer serves humanity and to relegate it to the past, and to encourage that which supports people’s freedom to pursue their deepest, highest aims.

Why Now?

Why will effort for such far-reaching change succeed now when it has been so crushed in the past?

1. Truth is moving at nearly the speed of thought across the internet, penetrating formerly secret and dark corners. And people respond to truth, which is why the entrenched elite want so badly to squelch the world wide web. New channels of communication are helping to raise consciousness planet-wide, and as we all know from our inner life, increasing awareness precipitates change.

2. This transition is not limited to things human. It reverberates through our entire energetic continuum: the Earth itself is having documented increases in earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, changing weather patterns, and extreme weather events; energy is dancing from the Sun as we’ve never seen before; even the Earth’s magnetic poles are on the move in accelerating fashion.

3. End-of-cycle behavior is widely visible. One can see the desperate attempts at self-preservation of institutions that are runaway trains with little track left. One can read of the current bout of mass extinctions that can accompany the close of a major cycle. We will discuss several cycles that are coming to a close.

This time of transition is the opportunity many of us thought would never arise, but it is here now! The old ways are crumbling. It is visible all around us.

Boldness is Required

Our society is dominated by the few because the many allow them to do so. But their numbers are very small. Without our participation in their schemes, their power would vanish. It is time for us to consciously refuse their dominations.

It is time to radiate the depth and breadth of your being into this plane. We are talking about transforming most aspects of life on this planet, so your unique experience set, your particular skills are required, or you wouldn’t be here now. Your work will not be for naught. Let’s get up on our horses! If not now, when? And when you get up on your horse, hopefully we can keep up, and watch your ride in amazement.

Thundering-Heard.com

Since we are talking about nothing less than the emergence of a new world, this site will deal with a wide range of topics. The whole point is to attain clarity about what is happening and what is coming. Standing in that clarity, we can meet major change with equanimity, good cheer, and generosity, all the while envisioning a world of freedom and enlightenment.

Please consider what we publish as food for thought. Please comment below any post if you have questions, something to add, or if you think we got something wrong, which we sometimes undoubtedly will. We will happily provide clarifications. What we will not do is engage in long arguments, a very poor use of time and energy. We will make our case. Perhaps you will find it useful, or interesting, or funny. We hope you enrich our view with thoughtful statements of your own.

Thundering-Heard.com welcomes and will consider guest posts for publication, either under your name or under the overall name of this site.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Bumblingly yours,
Thundering Heard