Category Archives: Debt

America is in Terminal Decline, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Here’s some more hard core doom porn. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

John Rubino recently posted a graph from Bob Prechter’s Elliot Wave that points to some ominous signs. It depicts the S&P 500, combined with consumer confidence and savings rate. As the accompanying video at Elliott Wave, What “Too Confident to Save” Means for Stocks, shows, when the gap between high confidence and low savings is at its widest, a market crash -often- follows.

In 2000, the subsequent crash was 39%, in 2007 it was 54%. We are now again witnessing just such a gap, with the S&P 500 at record levels. Here’s the graph, with John’s comments:

Consumers Are Both Confident And Broke

Elliott Wave International recently put together a chart that illustrates a recurring theme of financial bubbles: When good times have gone on for a sufficiently long time, people forget that it can be any other way and start behaving as if they’re bulletproof. They stop saving, for instance, because they’ll always have their job and their stocks will always go up. Then comes the inevitable bust. On the following chart, this delusion and its aftermath are represented by the gap between consumer confidence (our sense of how good the next year is likely to be) and the saving rate (the portion of each paycheck we keep for a rainy day). The bigger the gap the less realistic we are and the more likely to pay dearly for our hubris.

 

 

John is mostly right. But not entirely. Not that I don’t think he knows, he simply forgets to mention it. What I mean is his suggestion that people stop saving because they’re confident, bullish. To understand where and why he slightly misses, let’s turn to Lance Roberts. Before we get to the savings, Lance explains why the difference between the Producer Price Index (PPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) is important to note.

Summarized, producer prices are rising, but consumer prices are not.

To continue reading: America is in Terminal Decline

Advertisements

Spain’s Pension System Hits Crisis Point (and Everyone Ignores it), by Don Quijones

The global pension pile-up continues. From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

But how did things get this bad?

By most measures, sun-blessed Spain is an idyllic place to grow old in. Life expectancy is among the highest in the world, and the national pension fund’s payout ratio (pension as percent of final salary) is the second highest in Europe after Greece. But if current trends are any indication, that may soon be about to change.

The country’s Social Security Reserve Fund, which was meant to serve as a nationwide nest egg to guarantee future pension payouts — given Spain’s burgeoning ranks of pensioners — has been bled virtually dry by the government. This started ever so quietly in 2012 when the government began withdrawing cash from the fund. Some of it was used to fill part of the government’s own fiscal gaps while billions more were tapped to cover the Social Security system’s growing deficits. As a result the pension pot has shrunk from over €66 billion in 2011 to just €15 billion in 2016.

To avoid wiping out the fund altogether this year, the Spanish government extended a €10.1 billion interest-free loan to Spain’s social security system, which enabled it to pay out the two extra pension payments due in June and December. That way, only €7-7.5 billion will be tapped from Spain’s public pension nest egg. Emptying the pot altogether this year would have been politically unpalatable, says El País. Instead, it will be emptied next year as the social security system racks up yet another massive annual shortfall.

Last year it registered its biggest deficit in its history (€18.1 billion), which was covered by the pension pot. In 2017, the deficit is forecast to be €16.6 billion, according to the government’s own projections. That’s roughly 1.5% of Spanish GDP. Another €18-20 billion will be needed next year. Successive deficits are expected until at least 2020, when there will still be an annual deficit of around 0.5% of GDP — and that’s according to the government’s own rosy figures!

To continue reading: Spain’s Pension System Hits Crisis Point (and Everyone Ignores it)

The Biggest Wealth Transfer In History, by Egon von Greyerz

If you’re into hard core doom porn, this is the article for you. From Egon von Greyerz at goldswitzerland.com:

What will happen between now and 2025? Nobody knows of course but I will later in this article have a little peek into the next 4-8 years.

The concentration of wealth in the world has now reached dangerous proportions. The three richest people in the world have a greater wealth than the bottom 50%. The top 1% have a wealth of $33 trillion whilst the bottom 1% have a debt $196 billion.

The interesting point is not just that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. More interesting is to understand: How did we get there? and what will be the consequences?

PANAMA & PARADISE PAPERS – SENSATIONALISM

As the socialist dominated media dig into the Panama Papers and now recently the Paradise Papers to attack the rich and tell governments to tackle the unacceptable face of capitalism, nobody understands the real reasons for this enormous concentration of wealth. Sadly no journalist does any serious analysis of any issue, whether it is fake economic figures or the state of the world economy.

Instead, all news is accepted as the truth while in fact a lot of news is fake or propaganda. The media is revelling in all the disclosures of offshore trusts and companies. The British Queen is being accused of having “hidden” funds. The fact that offshore entities have been used legally for centuries for privacy, wealth preservation and creditor protection purposes is never mentioned. The media sell more much news by being sensational rather than factual.

INEQUALITY IS DUE TO IRRESPONSIBLE MONETARY POLICY

Let me first put the facts right. It is not capitalism in its traditional sense which has created this enormous concentration. One definition of capitalism is:

“An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state”

The “controlled by private owners” part of the definition fits our current Western system. But what is missing is that the current economic system could not function without complete state sponsorship and interference. This is the clever construction that a group of top bankers devised on Jekyll Island in the US, in November 1910. This was the meeting that led to the creation of the Fed in 1913. The Central Bank of the US was set up as a private bank, and thus controlled by private bankers for their own benefit.

To continue reading: The Biggest Wealth Transfer In History

How Corporate Zombies Are Threatening The Eurozone Economy, by Tyler Durden

Part of capitlism’s survival of the fittest is allowing the unfit to die. Precisely what Europe has not done since the last financial crisis. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

The recovery in Eurozone growth has become part of the synchronised global growth narrative that most investors are relying on to deliver further gains in equities as we head into 2018. However, the “Zombification” of a chunk of the Eurozone’s corporate sector is not only a major unaddressed structural problem, but it’s getting worse, especially in…you guessed it…Italy and Spain. According to the WSJ.

 The Bank for International Settlements, the Basel-based central bank for central banks, defines a zombie as any firm which is at least 10 years old, publicly traded and has interest expenses that exceed the company’s earnings before interest and taxes. Other organizations use different criteria. About 10% of the companies in six eurozone countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain are zombies, according to the central bank’s latest data. The percentage is up sharply from 5.5% in 2007. In Italy and Spain, the percentage of zombie companies has tripled since 2007, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated in January. Italy’s zombies employed about 10% of all workers and gobbled up nearly 20% of all the capital invested in 2013, the latest year for which figures are available.

The WSJ explains how the ECB’s negative interest rate policy and corporate bond buying are  keeping a chunk of the corporate sector, especially in southern Europe on life support. In some cases, even the life support of low rates and debt restructuring is not preventing further deterioration in their metrics. These are the true “Zombie” companies who will probably never come back from being “undead”, i.e. technically dead but still animate. Belatedly, there is some realisation of the risks.

Economists and central bankers say zombies undercut prices charged by healthier competitors, create artificial barriers to entry and prevent the flushing out of weak companies and bad loans that typically happens after downturns. Now that the European economy is in growth mode, those zombies and their related debt problems could become a drag on the entire continent.

“The zombification of the corporate sector and banks (is) a risk for future living standards,” Klaas Knot, a European Central Bank governor and the head of the Dutch central bank, said in an interview.

In some ways, zombie firms are an unintended side effect of years of easy money from the ECB, which rolled out aggressive stimulus policies, including negative interest rates, to support lending and growth. Those policies have been sharply criticized in some richer eurozone countries for making it easier for banks to keep struggling corporate borrowers alive.

To continue reading: How Corporate Zombies Are Threatening The Eurozone Economy

Saudi Coup Signals War And The New World Order Reset, by Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith’s long-predicted global economic reset may be underway, with Saudi Arabia moving out of the US, and the petrodollar, orbit. From Smith at alt-market.com:

For years now, I have been warning about the relationship of interdependency between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and how this relationship, if ended, would mean disaster for the petrodollar system and by extension the dollar’s world reserve status. In my recent articles ‘Lies And Distractions Surrounding The Diminishing Petrodollar’ and ‘The Economic End Game Continues,’I point out that the death of the dollar as the premier petrocurrency is actually a primary goal for establishment globalists. Why? Because in an effort to achieve what they sometimes call the “global economic reset,” or the “new world order,” a more publicly accepted centralized global economy and monetary framework is paramount. And, this means the eventual implementation of a single world currency and a single global economic and political authority above and beyond the dollar system.

But, it is not enough to simply initiate such socially and fiscally painful changes in a vacuum. The banking powers are not interested in taking any blame for the suffering that would be dealt to the masses during the inevitable upheaval (or blame for the suffering that has already been caused). Therefore, a believable narrative must be crafted. A narrative in which political intrigue and geopolitical crisis make the “new world order” a NECESSITY; one that the general public would accept or even demand as a solution to existing instability and disaster.

That is to say, the globalists must fashion a propaganda story to be used in the future, in which “selfish” nation-states abused their sovereignty and created conditions for calamity, and the only solution was to end that sovereignty and place all power into the hands of a select few “wise and benevolent men” for the greater good of the world.

I believe the next phase of the global economic reset will begin in part with the breaking of petrodollar dominance. An important element of my analysis on the strategic shift away from the petrodollar has been the symbiosis between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has been the single most important key to the dollar remaining as the petrocurrency from the very beginning.

To continue reading: Saudi Coup Signals War And The New World Order Reset

Bank Deposits No Longer Off Limits as ECB Seeks Power to Freeze, by John Glover and Alexander Weber

Here’s the camel’s nose under the tent. In the next financial crisis you can be sure that bank’s will be unable to pay all of their liabilities. Customer deposits are liabilities, and bank runs start when people get nervous about their bank. Here’s the Catch-22, governments would be given the authority to freeze deposit withdrawals, but only at banks that are failing or likely to fail. In other words, as soon as the government freezes deposits, depositors will know the bank has one foot in the grave. That should calm them down. From John Glover and Alexander Weber at bloomberg.com:

  • Working paper retains power to stop payments of failing firms
  • Payments stay to affect derivative payments for up to 5 days
An illuminated euro currency symbol is projected on to the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt.Photographer: Martin Leissl/Bloomberg

The European Central Bank intensified its push for a tool that would hand authorities the power to stop deposit withdrawals when a bank is on the verge of failing.

ECB executive board member Sabine Lautenschlaeger said that bank resolution cases this year showed that a so-called moratorium tool, which would temporarily freeze a bank’s liabilities to buy time for crucial decisions, is needed. Her comment comes as policy makers in Brussels debate how such measures should be designed, and just days after the ECB officially called for the moratorium to extend to deposits as well.

Sabine Lautenschlaeger

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

“If we have a long list of exemptions and we have a moratorium that doesn’t work, I do not want to have a moratorium tool,” Lautenschlaeger told a conference in Frankfurt on Tuesday. “Then you will never use it.”

EU member states appear ready to heed the request, according to a Nov. 6 paper that develops their stance on a bank-failure bill proposed by the European Commission. They suggest giving authorities the power to cap deposit withdrawals as part of a stay on payments only after an institution has been declared “failing or likely to fail.”
The power to install a moratorium “can in principle apply to eligible deposits,” the paper reads. “However, resolution authority should carefully assess the opportunity to extend the suspension also to covered deposits, especially covered deposits held by natural persons and micro, small and medium sized enterprises, in case application of suspension on such deposits would severely disrupt the functioning of financial markets.”

Auto-Loan Subprime Blows Up Lehman-Moment-Like, by Wolf Richter

It’s always the trashiest parts of the credit markets that blow up first. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

But there is no Financial Crisis. These are the boom times.

Given Americans’ ceaseless urge to borrow and spend, household debt in the third quarter surged by $610 billion, or 5%, from the third quarter last year, to a new record of $13 trillion, according to the New York Fed. If the word “surged” appears a lot, it’s because that’s the kind of debt environment we now have:

  • Mortgage debt surged 4.2% year-over-year, to $9.19 trillion, still shy of the all-time record of $10 trillion in 2008 before it all collapsed.
  • Student loans surged by 6.25% year-over-year to a record of $1.36 trillion.
  • Credit card debt surged 8% to $810 billion.
  • “Other” surged 5.4% to $390 billion.
  • And auto loans surged 6.1% to a record $1.21 trillion.

And given how the US economy depends on consumer borrowing for life support, that’s all good.

However, there are some big ugly flies in that ointment: Delinquencies – not everywhere, but in credit cards, and particularly in subprime auto loans, where serious delinquencies have reached Lehman Moment proportions.

Of the $1.2 trillion in auto loans outstanding, $282 billion (24%) were granted to borrowers with a subprime credit score (below 620).

Of all auto loans outstanding, 2.4% were 90+ days (“seriously”) delinquent, up from 2.3% in the prior quarter. But delinquencies are concentrated in the subprime segment – that $282 billion – and all hell is breaking lose there.

Subprime auto lending has attracted specialty lenders, such as Santander Consumer USA. They feel they can handle the risks, and they off-loaded some of the risks to investors via subprime auto-loan-backed securities. They want to cash in on the fat profits often obtained in subprime lending via extraordinarily high interest rates.

Subprime borrowers are perceived as sitting ducks. They’ve been turned down, and they’re aware of their bad credit, and they often think they have no other options. And so they often end up with ludicrously high interest rates on their loans, which these borrowers, because of the ludicrously high interest rates, have trouble servicing.

To continue reading: Auto-Loan Subprime Blows Up Lehman-Moment-Like