America’s economy risks mother of all meltdowns

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“I would tell audiences that we were facing not a bubble but a froth – lots of small, local bubbles that never grew to a scale that could threaten the health of the overall economy.” Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence.

That used to be Mr Greenspan’s view of the US housing bubble. He was wrong, alas. So how bad might this downturn get? To answer this question we should ask a true bear. My favourite one is Nouriel Roubini of New York University’s Stern School of Business, founder of RGE monitor.

Recently, Professor Roubini’s scenarios have been dire enough to make the flesh creep. But his thinking deserves to be taken seriously. He first predicted a US recession in July 2006*. At that time, his view was extremely controversial. It is so no longer. Now he states that there is “a rising probability of a ‘catastrophic’ financial and economic outcome”**. The characteristics of this scenario are, he argues: “A vicious circle where a deep recession makes the financial losses more severe and where, in turn, large and growing financial losses and a financial meltdown make the recession even more severe.”

Prof Roubini is even fonder of lists than I am. Here are his 12 – yes, 12 – steps to financial disaster.

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Confidence Plunges, Inflation Rate Soars

Consumer Confidence Plunges While Wholesale Inflation Rises at Fastest Pace in 26 Years

WASHINGTON (AP) — In more bad economic news, consumer confidence and home prices posted sharp declines while higher costs for such basics as food, energy and medicine left wholesale inflation rising at a pace unseen since late 1981.

The new reports Tuesday documented the latest in a series of blows to the economy as a prolonged housing downturn has pushed the country close to a recession.

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The U.S. Dollar Is Being Destroyed

The global economy is falling apart all around us. We can expect a continued rise in the price of gold and silver as it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Federal Reserve, the U.S. government and even Alan Greenspan are doing everything they can to destroy the value of the U.S. Dollar. In fact, the policies currently being implemented by the establishment is criminal because by devaluing the U.S. Dollar they are indirectly robbing from the American middle class by destroying the purchasing power of everyone’s bank accounts that are denominated in U.S. Dollars. At this point it is becoming increasingly clear that the establishment wants a weaker U.S. Dollar considering some of the insane policies they are implementing and insane things that they are saying.

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What makes this rise in precious metals particularly interesting is the fact that the IMF has been dumping gold on to the market and gold continues to move up in value. The manipulation of the gold market is starting to fail as is the policy of managing a slow decline of the U.S. Dollar without a parabolic rise in precious metals. The rise in silver has been particularly spectacular rising around $1 in price yesterday and it shows no signs of slowing down. At this point we could easily see gold at $1,000 an ounce and silver at $20 an ounce within the next month or two. So why is all of this happening? Let’s take a look at some of the news that has come out in the past few days.

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How Low Can The Dollar Go? Zero Value

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The corporate controlled media is finally starting to talk about the economic problems that the alternative media and assorted precious metals advocates have been talking about for years now. We are facing a potential inflationary depression. Independent estimates of the M3 money supply show that we are seeing an annual increase in the M3 money supply by around 16 to 17 percent. The Federal Reserve chose to stop producing this report right around the time when these figures began going parabolic on their chart showing a massive increase in the money supply. An increase in the money supply results in a devalued currency and that’s one of the primary reasons why we are seeing the price of gold flirt with the $1,000 an ounce mark and silver explode past the $20 an ounce mark. The U.S. Dollar Index is now treading water around the 72 to 73 mark and it is becoming increasingly clear that the role of the world’s reserve currency is shifting from the U.S. Dollar to the Euro. Some ask how low the U.S. Dollar could go and that answer is simple. The U.S. Dollar could go to zero because it is a fiat currency with no real tangible backing. Every fiat currency in the history of man has been replaced or collapsed and there is nothing fundamentally different between the U.S. Dollar and these other fiat monetary systems of the past.

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Global “Oil Shock” Rattles World Stock markets

Cleaning up the mess that Mr Greenspan left behind was never going to be easy. Banks and brokers around the world face more than half-trillion dollars in write-offs as a consequence of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, which is spreading from the US property market and roiling global stock markets. It’s toppled the US economy into a recession and the tremors are also rattling Asian stock markets.

Roughly $7 trillion has been wiped from world stock markets since the beginning of the year amid fears of a severe US economic recession and financial institutions reporting more mega losses. “The market crisis will preoccupy us well into 2008,” he said German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck on Feb 15th. “The financial risks securitized by banks contained packaged explosives,” and he accused rating agencies of having a conflict of interest in the role they played in the process.

So far, the Bernanke Federal Reserve has pumped more than half-a-trillion dollars into the markets with open market operations and special emergency lending schemes, to help cushion the blow to the US economy and stock markets. However, there’s evidence that the Fed’s prescription for dealing with the sub-prime debt crisis, is actually making matters much worse, and leading to “Stagflation.”

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The Bush Bust of ’08: “It’s All Downhill From Here, Folks”

On January 14, 2008 the FDIC web site began posting the rules for reimbursing depositors in the event of a bank failure. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is required to “determine the total insured amount for each depositor….as of the day of the failure” and return their money as quickly as possible. The agency is “modernizing its current business processes and procedures for determining deposit insurance coverage in the event of a failure of one of the largest insured depository institutions.” The implication is clear, the FDIC has begun the “death watch” on the many banks which are currently drowning in their own red ink. The problem for the FDIC is that it has never supervised a bank failure which exceeded 175,000 accounts. So the impending financial tsunami is likely to be a crash-course in crisis management. Today some of the larger banks have more than 50 million depositors, which will make the FDIC’s job nearly impossible. Good luck. – Mike Whitney

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Ben Bernanke’s high-wire act

Fed chief, in first of two days of testimony on Capitol Hill, acknowledges troubling signs about economic growth but also raises concerns about inflation.

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) — For Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, running the central bank has become an increasingly challenging high-wire balancing act.

All of Wall Street was watching the Fed chairman on Wednesday when he headed to Capitol Hill to outline the trio of challenges facing the Fed: an economy at risk of falling into a recession, topsy-turvy financial markets and the rising risk of inflation.

“We do face a difficult situation,” Bernanke told members of the House Financial Services Committee, marking the first day of his two-day semi-annual hearing on the Fed’s monetary policy. “The challenge for us is to balance those risks and decide at any given time which is more serious.”

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