by Bill Bonner, Daily Reckoning.com.au:
‘US economy slips into reverse,’ was the headline in the Financial Times.
The US economy didn’t move ahead in the last quarter of 2012. Instead, it started backing up at a 0.1% annual rate, to be precise.
That didn’t seem to bother anyone. They hardly noticed; and they didn’t seem to care what direction it was actually going. The Dow slid a little, but not much.
In the bar car, journalists generally dismissed the whole thing. It was a kind of optical illusion, they seemed to think, caused by the fact that the gunslingers had been a little slow on the draw in the waning months of 2012….
American Debt Rating Downgrade Coming, While Half of American Families Already on the Edge of Financial Ruin
In the past few years, Americans have learned a thing or two about how quickly disaster can strike.
And with each Hurricane Sandy, housing crisis, and stock market crash that rocks our world, we’re faced with the realization that many of us simply aren’t prepared for the worst.
A sobering new report by the Corporation for Enterprise Development shows nearly half of U.S. households (132.1 million people) don’t have enough savings to weather emergencies, or finance long-term needs like college tuition, health care and housing.
We are on the verge of a very serious collapse in Europe. France has effectively rejected German austerity and if Merkel is replaced by the Socialists, there goes Europe. Behind the scenes, Brussels is blaming, behind closed doors (on good sources), Switzerland and Britain claiming that the Euro would have made it if everyone was on board. Brussels absolutely loathes Switzerland both because of its tax policies and for its refusal to join the Euro and EU. If they could, they would honestly invade. That is how much they dislike the Swiss. The Brits have a referendum coming up on staying in the EU. They are talked about as traitors to the whole EU concept….
Are we witnessing the start of a historic financial meltdown in Europe? In recent days, two massive corruption scandals have greatly shaken confidence in European financial markets. The first involves Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. It is being alleged that he has been receiving illegal cash payments, and the calls for his resignation grow louder with each passing day. The second is a derivatives scandal at the third largest bank in Italy. Allegedly, there were some very large unreported derivatives deals that were supposed to help hide losses at the bank, but instead they actually made the losses much larger. The investigation that is looking into this derivatives scandal is starting to spread to other banks, and nobody is quite sure how far down the rabbit hole this thing goes. But what everyone does agree on is that this derivatives scandal has shaken up Italian politics, and the outcome of the upcoming election is now very uncertain. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is rapidly rising in the polls, and the European establishment is less than thrilled about that. Meanwhile, stock indexes all over Europe fell rapidly on Monday, and even the Dow was down 129 points. So will all this blow over in a few days, or is this the beginning of a full-blown stock market crash in Europe?
That is a very good question. Perhaps there would not be so much concern if the overall European economy was doing well, but the truth is that the underlying economic fundamentals in Europe have continued to get even worse. The unemployment rate in the eurozone is at an all-time high, and the unemployment rates in both Greece and Spain are now over 26 percent. Much of southern Europe is already in the midst of a full-blown economic depression, so it really has been remarkable that the financial markets in Europe have been able to hold up as well as they have so far.
Wait, are they still talking about Argentina or the US?
The government announced the price freeze on the first business day after the International Monetary Fund formally censured Argentina for putting out inaccurate economic data. The IMF has given Argentina until September to bring its inflation and economic growth statistics up to international standards. If Argentina doesn’t comply, it could face expulsion from the world body in November.
Well good thing the US complies with the IMF’s stringent “seasonally adjusted” data reporting quality control. Or else, the US may have been expelled from the IMF too. And then who would fund the creeping bailout of Europe (aside from Germany of course)?
The IMF censure “is not just a new error … it’s also a clear example of the organization’s unequal treatment and double standards in regard to certain member countries,” Lorenzino said. “Argentina, just as it agreed with the IMF to do, will keep working to improve its statistical procedures in accordance with good international standards.”
So to summarize: first capital controls, then a currency crisis, then expectations of sovereign default, then a rise in military tensions, and finally – price controls, after which all out chaos usually follows.
Study this sequence well: it is coming to every “developed” country near you in the months and years ahead.
But, as with every other hyperinflationary implosion, there is a silver lining: the stock market is soaring…
… at least in Peso terms. When priced in USD, the 360% stock market “rise” is more like -9% in the past 21 years. But luckily, the general public has a gene that prevents it from grasping the difference between nominal and real – something Ben Bernanke is very well aware of.
Question — Russell, What does the US dollar look like to you? Answer– It looks like TROUBLE. The chart tells the story. The red dot identifies a death-cross by the moving averages. Below the dot we see a head-and-shoulders top. Yes, to me the dollar looks like it’s in trouble.
The lovely Lauren Lyster, formerly of Capital Account and now the new host of Yahoo’s Daily Ticker, interviewed SD’s favorite Fed-basher Jim Grant regarding the Fed’s latest FOMC statement.
Grant stated that if creating credit was able to successfully reactivate business activity the world would have been richer many generations ago, that the Fed’s actions are counter-productive, that QE funds injected into the economy is money in search of mischief, and that Bernanke’s manipulation of interest rates will fail spectacular with major fireworks as the price of interest rates find their own free market valuation.
Some Moody’s downgrade-doom
Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded a record amount of U.S. public finance debt in 2012 and it expects that trend to continue in the year ahead.
The rating agency said Friday that it downgraded US$311 billion in public finance debt in 2012, and upgraded just US$24 billion worth during the year. Moody’s downgraded the ratings on 5.9% of the approximately 14,000 public finance debt issuers it rates during the year, and upgraded the ratings on 1.3% of them.
Moody’s Investors Service has today downgraded SNS REAAL’s and SNS Bank’s dated subordinated debt ratings to C from Caa3 and the entities’ Tier 1 securities ratings to C(hyb) from Ca(hyb).
The rating action follows the decision by the Government of the Netherlands (Aaa negative) to nationalise the entire SNS REAAL group on 1 February 2013 under the Intervention Act passed by Parliament in 2012.
#1 The mainstream media was absolutely shocked when it was announced that U.S. GDP actually contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012. This was the first contraction that the official numbers have shown in more than three years. But of course the truth is that the official numbers always make things appear better than they really are. According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, U.S. GDP growth has actually been continuously negative all the way back to 2005 once you account “for distortions in government inflation usage and methodological changes that have resulted in a built-in upside bias to official reporting.”
#2 For the entire year of 2012, official U.S. GDP growth was only about 1.5%. According to Art Cashin, every time economic growth has fallen that low (below 2 percent annually) the U.S. economy has alwaysended up going into a recession.
#3 According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence in the United States has hit its lowest level in more than a year.
#4 For the week ending January 26th, initial claims for unemployment rose to 368,000. In future weeks, watch to see if it goes above 400,000. If we hit that level, that will be a sign of real trouble for the economy.
#5 During the first full week of January, an astounding $114 billion was pulled out of U.S. banks. That is the largest amount that we have seen moved out of U.S. banks in one week since 2001.
#6 The U.S. Mint was on pace to sell more silver eagles during the first month of 2013 than it did during the entire year of 2007. Why is so much silver being sold all of a sudden?
#7 The payroll tax hike that went into effect in January has reduced the paychecks of average American workers by about $100 a month.