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Can Government Prevent a Major Debt Crisis?

Can Government Prevent a Major Debt Crisis? 

QUESTION: Hi Martin
I recently stumped upon a documentary on Netflix about you and your model.
I then went on and watched some YouTube videos.
To me it makes totally sense that taxation does not work, but how can we change it. Do we need to become politicians?
We have a very high tax in Denmark. Base level around 39 percent and top level around 60. So it’s eminent to cajnge this in Denmark.
We have a quite new political party here called Liberal alliance. They promote a flat tax of 40 percent, and I think that makes sense…. But, they had such bad election and are so tiny now, they have no influence.
Everyone say we need taxes to have welfare. So how do we go from 60 to 0 percent in tax without sacrifice our welfare. And how do we convince people that it Wan work….. It will be some very tough months or years once the tax is not flowing to the hospitals etc?
I hope you can elaborate on these things.
DB

ANSWER: In building the model, I assembled data on everything I could find and then put it all together to see how and what made the world tick. I investigated tax rates to see how civilizations operated. I investigated what types of governments worked best and what always collapsed into oligarchies, then tyrannical entities, before collapsing into dust.

I read many contemporary historians directly rather than the modern interpretation of events, which have NEVER been unbiased. I discovered that inevitably people interpreted the past with a modern context. I found one of the funniest to be when they named the city of Philadelphia after the Greek meaning “brotherly love.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Stocks Crater – 3.5 Trillion Dollars In Global Market Cap Wiped Out – China Considers “Dumping U.S. Treasuries”

Stocks Crater – 3.5 Trillion Dollars In Global Market Cap Wiped Out – China Considers “Dumping U.S. Treasuries”

Wall Street responded to our escalating trade war with China by throwing a bit of a temper tantrum.  On Monday the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 617 points, and that was the worst day for the Dow since January 3rd.  But things were even worse for the Nasdaq.  It had its worst day since December 4th, and overall the Nasdaq is now down 6.3 percent in just the last six trading sessions.  Of course it isn’t just in the United States that stocks are declining.  Since last Monday, a total of approximately $3.5 trillion in market cap has been wiped out on global stock markets.  And since it doesn’t look like we are going to get any sort of a trade deal any time soon, this could potentially be just the beginning of our problems.

China fired a shot that was heard around the world on Monday when they announced that they would be dramatically raising tariffs on U.S. goods

China will raise tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods in retaliation for the U.S. decision to hike duties on Chinese goods, the Chinese Finance Ministry said Monday.

Beijing will increase tariffs on more than 5,000 products to as high as 25%. Duties on some other goods will increase to 20%. Those rates will rise from either 10% or 5% previously.

According to CNBC, these new tariffs are going to be particularly damaging for U.S. farmers…

The duties in large part target U.S. farmers, who largely supported Trump in 2016 but suffered from previous shots in the Trump administration’s trade war with China. The thousands of products include peanuts, sugar, wheat, chicken and turkey.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We Have Seen This Happen Before The Last 3 Recessions – And Now It Is The Worst It Has Ever Been

We Have Seen This Happen Before The Last 3 Recessions – And Now It Is The Worst It Has Ever Been

Since the last financial crisis, we have witnessed the greatest corporate debt binge in U.S. history.  Corporate debt has more than doubled since then, and it is now sitting at a grand total of more than 9 trillion dollars.  Of course there have been other colossal corporate debt binges throughout our history, and they all ended badly.  In fact, the ratio of corporate debt to U.S. GDP rose above 40 percent prior to each of the last three recessions, but this time around we have found a way to top that.  According to Forbes, the ratio of nonfinancial corporate debt to U.S. GDP is now nearly 50 percent…

Since the last recession, nonfinancial corporate debt has ballooned to more than $9 trillion as of November 2018, which is nearly half of U.S. GDP. As you can see below, each recession going back to the mid-1980s coincided with elevated debt-to-GDP levels—most notably the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the 2000 dot-com bubble and the early ’90s slowdown.

You can see the chart they are talking about right here, and it clearly shows that each of the last three recessions coincided with the bursting of an enormous corporate debt bubble.

This time around the corporate debt bubble is larger than it has ever been before, and risky corporate debt has been growing faster than any other category

Through 2023, as much as $4.88 trillion of this debt is scheduled to mature. And because of higher rates, many companies are increasingly having difficulty making interest payments on their debt, which is growing faster than the U.S. economy, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

On top of that, the very fastest-growing type of debt is riskier BBB-rated bonds—just one step up from “junk.” This is literally the junkiest corporate bond environment we’ve ever seen.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The True Size Of The U.S. National Debt, Including Unfunded Liabilities, Is 222 Trillion Dollars

The True Size Of The U.S. National Debt, Including Unfunded Liabilities, Is 222 Trillion Dollars

The United States is on a path to financial ruin, and everyone can see what is happening, but nobody can seem to come up with a way to stop it.  According to the U.S. Treasury, the federal government is currently 22 trillion dollars in debt, and that represents the single largest debt in the history of the planet.  Over the past decade, we have been adding to that debt at a rate of about 1.1 trillion dollars a year, and we will add more than a trillion dollars to that total once again this year.  But when you add in our unfunded liabilities, our long-term financial outlook as a nation looks downright apocalyptic.  According to Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff, the U.S. is currently facing 200 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, and when you add that number to our 22 trillion dollar debt, you get a grand total of 222 trillion dollars.

Of course we are never going to pay back all of this debt.

The truth is that we are just going to keep accumulating more debt until the system completely and utterly collapses.

And even though the federal government is the biggest offender, there are also others to blame for the mess that we find ourselves in.  State and local governments are more than 3 trillion dollars in debt, corporate debt has more than doubled since the last financial crisis, and U.S. consumers are more than 13 trillion dollars in debt.

When you add it all together, the total amount of debt in our society is well above 300 percent of GDP, and it keeps rising with each passing year.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

America’s “Debt Crisis Is Coming Soon”

America’s “Debt Crisis Is Coming Soon” 

– America’s “debt crisis is coming soon” warns economist Martin Feldstein
– To avoid economic distress, the government has to reduce future entitlement spending
– The most dangerous domestic problem facing America’s federal government is the rapid growth of its budget deficit and national debt

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the deficit this year will be $900 billion, more than 4% of gross domestic product. It will surpass $1 trillion in 2022. 

The federal debt is now 78% of GDP. By 2028, it is projected to be nearly 100% of GDP and still rising.

All this will have very serious economic consequences, and the CBO understates the problem. It has to base its projections on current law—in this case, the levels of spending and the future tax rules and rates that appear in law today.


Source: USDebtClock.org

Those levels don’t match realistic predictions.

Current law projects that defense spending will decline as a share of GDP, from a very low 3.1% now to about 2.5% over the next 10 years. None of the military and civilian defense experts with whom I’ve spoken believe that will happen, given America’s global responsibilities and the need to modernize U.S. military equipment. It is likelier that defense spending will stay around 3% of GDP or even increase in the coming decade. And if the outlook for defense spending is increased, the Democratic House majority will insist that the non-defense discretionary spending should rise to match its trajectory.

If defense and other discretionary spending stays steady as a share of GDP, the annual deficit will increase by nearly 1% of GDP—from 4.2% of GDP now to about 5% of GDP 10 years from now. At the same time, the tax increases in current law that the CBO assumes will occur during the next decade as some of the recent cuts are phased out probably won’t happen. Congress will face strong political pressure to avoid a functional tax increase.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

FedEx Is Talking As If A Global Recession Has Already Begun – And The Numbers Back That Up

FedEx Is Talking As If A Global Recession Has Already Begun – And The Numbers Back That Up

“Slowing international macroeconomic conditions” is just a fancy way to say that the global economy is in big trouble.  For months, I have been warning that economic conditions are deteriorating, and we just keep getting more confirmation that we are facing the worst global downturn since the last financial crisis.  For the second time in three months, FedEx has slashed its revenue forecast for this year.  In an attempt to explain why revenue is declining, FedEx’s chief financial officer placed the blame squarely on the faltering global economy.  The following comes from CNBC

The multinational package delivery service reported declining international revenue as a result of unfavorable exchange rates and the negative effects of trade battles.

“Slowing international macroeconomic conditions and weaker global trade growth trends continue, as seen in the year-over-year decline in our FedEx Express international revenue,” Alan B. Graf, Jr., FedEx Corp. executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in statement.

The use of the word “trends” implies something that has been going on for an extended period of time, and obviously FedEx doesn’t expect things to get better any time soon if they have cut profit projections twice in just the last three months.

And FedEx certainly has a lot of company when it comes to having a gloomy outlook for the global economy.  In one recent article, Bloomberg boldly declared that the global economy is in the worst shape it has been “since the financial crisis a decade ago”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

As The Economy Teeters On The Brink Of A Recession, U.S. Debt Levels Are Absolutely Exploding

As The Economy Teeters On The Brink Of A Recession, U.S. Debt Levels Are Absolutely Exploding

We now have official confirmation that the U.S. economy has dramatically slowed down.  In recent days I have shared a whole bunch of numbers with my readers that clearly demonstrate that a new economic downturn has begun.  And even though stock prices have been rising, the numbers for the “real economy” have been depressingly bad lately.  But what we didn’t have was official confirmation from the Federal Reserve that the economy is really slowing down, but now we do.  According to the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model, the economy is growing “at a 0.3 percent annualized rate in the first quarter”

The U.S. economy is growing at a 0.3 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, based on data on domestic construction spending in December released on Monday, the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow forecast model showed.

For years, the goal has been to get U.S. growth above the key 3 percent threshold, but what this forecast is telling us is that economic growth is currently at one-tenth of that level.

That is just barely above recession territory.

So when I say that we are teetering on the brink of a recession, I am not exaggerating.

We also just got some really bad news about construction spending

Construction spending fell 0.6% in December from November, based on a seasonally adjusted annual rate, released today by the Commerce Department. Compared to December a year earlier, total construction spending inched up only 0.8% (not seasonally adjusted), the lowest growth rate since Oct 2011, coming out of the great recession.

Now we can add that to the list of all the other numbers that are telling us that very rough times are ahead.

Meanwhile, debt levels in the U.S. just continue to explode.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Most Depressing Stat Of The Month: The U.S. National Debt Is About To Pass The $22 Trillion Mark

The Most Depressing Stat Of The Month: The U.S. National Debt Is About To Pass The $22 Trillion Mark

The U.S. national debt is wildly out of control, and nobody in Washington seems to care.  According to the U.S. Treasury, the federal government is currently $21,933,491,166,604.77 in debt.  In just a few days, that figure will cross the 22 trillion dollar mark.  Over the last 10 years, we have added more than 11 trillion dollars to the national debt, and that means that it has been growing at a pace of more than a trillion dollars a year.  To call this a major national crisis would be a massive understatement, and yet there is absolutely no urgency in Washington address this absolutely critical issue.  We are literally destroying the financial future of this nation, but most Americans don’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation that we are facing.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that the national debt and interest on that debt will both explode at an exponential rate in future years if we stay on the path that we are currently on.  According to the CBO, the federal government spent 371 billion dollars on net interest during the most recent fiscal year…

In fiscal 2018, the government spent $371 billion on net interest, while the Defense Department budget was $599 billion. Social Security benefits cost $977 billion, Medicare $585 billion and Medicaid $389 billion, according to the CBO estimates.

But the CBO said interest outlays’ rate of growth in fiscal 2018 was faster than that for the three mandatory federal programs: Social Security (up $43 billion, or 5 percent); Medicaid (up $14 billion, or 4 percent); and Medicare (up $16 billion, or 3 percent). In comparison, net interest on the public debt increased by $62 billion, or 20 percent.

The 371 billion dollars that we spent on interest could have been spent on roads, schools, airports, strengthening our military or helping the homeless.

Instead, it was poured down a black hole.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Governments Are Sucking in Assets like a Black Hole

Governments Are Sucking in Assets like a Black Hole 

QUESTION: Hello Sir,
I am French and have been reading you for many years (I already read you while you published papers while you were very unfairly imprisoned).
I signed up for Socrates on 6th January and must thank you warmly for opening my eyes to the real state of the global economy and its cycles.
Unfortunately, I live in France and taxes weigh heavily on us. Unemployment is preponderant.

I do not think our President E.Macron knows exactly what he is doing by reforming our economy in his own way…
My question please:

You explained that the next crisis would be a debt crisis and that banks and the economy would be severely heckled.
So, I really think about quickly withdrawing my assets (about 50,000 euros) from the bank and I wonder if converting them into foreign currency and keeping them in a safe in my house would not be a good idea …

If the euro is devalued or disappears as I fear, would not it be smart to convert them as soon as possible into Swiss francs? Indeed, their economy seems stable and it is really a country apart, bordering on France. (Of course, I also thought about owning dollars and yen (although the yen inspires me less confidence)
Thanking you for everything you do for us,
Sincerely,
F.C

ANSWER: Dollars are probably the best because the USA does not cancel currency as they do in Europe. Dollars from 1860s are still legal tender today. You might want to open an account in the USA, which ironically is not part of the tax reporting schemes. Therefore, you can have an account in the USA with no problem for probably the next 3 years. Governments are becoming like a black hole. They are sucking up all the money to sustain their existence.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Macron May Trigger Debt Crisis with Yellow Vest Crackdown

Macron May Trigger Debt Crisis with Yellow Vest Crackdown

The Yellow Vests have reached critical mass. And the movement has now created the perfect storm for President Emmanuel Macron.

He can no longer ignore it, even though he tried to do so. And his lack of understanding of the situation as well as his open contempt for his opposition has placed him in a political vice.

Ignoring the problem will only make him look weaker and more disinterested. He could address the situation, put France first and step aside for new elections, which is the decent thing to do.

But, he’s chosen the predictable third option, crack down on the protesters in a futile show of strength. Authoritarians react to challenges like clockwork.

Disobedience is met with violence. More disobedience is met with more violence.

Before last weekend’s Act VIII protests Macron had one of the Yellow Vests original organizers, Éric Drouet, a truck driver, arrested and released pending a trial for “organizing an undeclared demonstration” while meeting with friends at a restaurant.

Guns Not Butter

Update: Now PM Edouard Philippe is signaling a new law that will ban all forms of protests. According to the latest from Zerohedge:

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented the new initiative to curtail the violence and unrest while targeting “troublemakers” and banning anonymity through wearing masks on French TV channel TF1 on Monday. He said the law would give police authority crack down on “unauthorized demonstrations” at a moment when police are already arresting citizens for merely wearing a yellow vest, even if they are not directly engaged in protests in some cases.
PM Philippe said the government would support a “new law punishing those who do not respect the requirement to declare [protests], those who take part in unauthorized demonstrations and those who arrive at demonstrations wearing face masks”.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The “Stock Market Crash Of 2018” Is Rapidly Transforming Into “The Financial Crisis Of 2019”

The “Stock Market Crash Of 2018” Is Rapidly Transforming Into “The Financial Crisis Of 2019”

Stock markets are crashing all over the world, we are seeing extremely violent “flash crashes” in the forex marketplace, economic conditions are slowing down all over the globe, and fear is causing many investors to become extremely trigger happy.  The stock market crash of 2018 wiped out approximately 12 trillion dollars in global stock market wealth, but things were supposed to calm down once we got into 2019.  But clearly that is not happening.  After Apple announced that their sales during the first quarter are going to be much, much lower than previously anticipated, Apple’s stock price started shooting down like a rocket and by the end of the session on Wednesday the company had lost 75 billion dollars in market capitalization.  Meanwhile, “flash crashes” caused some of the most violent swings that we have ever seen in the foreign exchange markets…

It took seven minutes for the yen to surge through levels that have held through almost a decade.

In those wild minutes from about 9:30 a.m. Sydney, the yen jumped almost 8 percent against the Australian dollar to its strongest since 2009, and surged 10 percent versus the Turkish lira. The Japanese currency rose at least 1 percent versus all its Group-of-10 peers, bursting through the 72 per Aussie level that has held through a trade war, a stock rout, Italy’s budget dispute and Federal Reserve rate hikes.

This is the kind of chaos that we only see during a financial crisis.

Investors are also being rattled by the fact that China just experienced its first factory activity contraction in over two years

The People’s Bank of China said on Wednesday evening it had relaxed its conditions on targeted reserve requirement cuts to benefit more small firms.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Dollar Status as Global Reserve Currency?

US Dollar Status as Global Reserve Currency?

So, how hot is the Chinese Renminbi? And is the euro dead yet?

The US dollar’s role as global reserve currency is defined by the amounts of US dollar-denominated assets – US Treasury securities, corporate bonds, etc. – that central banks other than the Fed are holding in their foreign exchange reserves. To diminish the dollar’s role as a global reserve currency, these central banks would have to dump the dollar.

So, let’s see. Total global foreign exchange reserves, in all currencies, came in at $11.4 trillion in the third quarter, according to the IMF’s data on “Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves” (COFER), released this morning. The amount of USD-denominated exchange reserves was $6.63 trillion. This amounted to 61.9% of total foreign exchanges reserves held by central banks, the lowest since 2013:

In the chart above, note the arrival of the euro. It became an accounting currency in the financial markets in 1999, replacing the European Currency Unit. Euro banknotes and coins appeared on January 1, 2002. At the end of 2001, the dollar’s share of reserve currencies was 71.5%. In 2002, it dropped to 66.5%. Now it’s down to 62.2%.

The euro replaced a gaggle of European currencies that had been held as foreign exchange reserves, on top of which was the Deutsche mark.

In Q3, the euro’s share rose to 20.5%, the highest since Q4 2014. The creation of the euro was an effort to reduce the dollar’s hegemony. At the time, the theme was that the euro would reach “parity” with the dollar. But the euro Debt Crisis ended that dream.

The other major reserve currencies don’t have a “major” share. The combined share of the dollar and the euro, at 82.4%, leaves only 17.6% for all other currencies combined. The two currencies with the largest share in that group are the Japanese yen, at 5.0%, and the UK pound sterling, at 4.5%.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

2018 Was The Worst Year For The Stock Market Since The Financial Crisis Of 2008

2018 Was The Worst Year For The Stock Market Since The Financial Crisis Of 2008Now that the year is finally over, we can officially say that 2018 was the worst year for stocks in an entire decade.  Not since the last financial crisis have we had a year like this, and many believe that 2019 will be even worse.  And of course the truth is that stocks are still tremendously overvalued.  Stock valuation ratios always return to their long-term averages eventually, and if the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged another 8,000 points from the current level that would begin to get us into that neighborhood.  Unfortunately, the system is so highly leveraged that it will not be able to handle a price decline of that magnitude.  The relatively modest drops that we have seen already have caused a tremendous amount of chaos on Wall Street, and a full-blown meltdown would quickly result in a nightmare scenario potentially even worse than what we experienced in 2008.

For investors that had become accustomed to large gains year after year, 2018 was a brutal wake up call.  The following comes from Fox Business

2018 may be remembered as the year the Grinch stole your retirement or stock investment account.

December was the worst month for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500  since 1931, as tracked by our partners at Dow Jones Market Data Group. The S&P 500, the broadest measure of stocks, lost 9 percent and the Dow over 8.5 percent.

For the year, stocks turned in the worst performance since 2008.

According to the bulls, this wasn’t supposed to happen.  In the middle of the year, they were projecting that a “booming” U.S. economy would continue to drive stock prices higher, but instead we just witnessed the worst three month stretch  for stocks since the 4th quarter of 2008, and the month of December was the most painful of all

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

This Is Exactly The Kind Of Behavior That You Would Expect During A Stock Market Implosion…

This Is Exactly The Kind Of Behavior That You Would Expect During A Stock Market Implosion…

If a doctor tells you that his patient’s condition is swinging up and down wildly, is that a good sign or a bad sign?  Of course the answer to that question is quite obvious.  And if a doctor tells you that his patient’s condition is “stable”, is that a good sign or a bad sign?  Just like in the medical world, instability is not something that is a desirable thing on Wall Street, and right now we are witnessing extreme volatility on an almost daily basis.  On Thursday, the Dow was already down several hundred points when I went out to do some grocery shopping with my wife, and at the low point of the day it had fallen 611 points.  But then a “miracle happened” and the Dow ended the day with an increase of 260 points.  As I detailed yesterday, this is precisely the sort of behavior that you would expect during a chaotic bear market.

As Fox Business has noted, bear market rallies are typically “sharp, quick and usually short”.  I figured that the momentum from Wednesday would carry over into the early portion of Thursday, so I was surprised when the Dow was down by so much as we neared the middle of the day.  But then around 2 PM we witnessed an extraordinary market surge

The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a 865-point swing in less than two hours. The blue-chip index had been down in mid-afternoon more than 500 points to cut the previous session’s gains in half, before bargain hunters and short covering turned a big decline into a modest gain.

An 865 point swing in less than two hours is not “normal”.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Falling Oil Prices May Spark New Debt Crisis

Falling Oil Prices May Spark New Debt Crisis

benj

U.S. oil prices at below $50 and now even below $45 a barrel could cause concerns about the debt levels of some energy companies, Nasdaq energy analyst Tamar Essner told CNBC on Wednesday.

“Credit markets have held up a lot better than the energy equity markets right now, so that tells you that credit investors out there believe in the oil story much more so than energy equity investors do right now,” Essner said.

Consumers in the U.S. like the low gasoline prices that come with lower oil prices, but a slide in the price of oil has a broader impact on the economy, Essner said.

Some of the newer U.S. shale producers are probably deep into cash-flow negative at the current oil prices of $43 a barrel WTI Crude, although the energy industry as a whole is “in a lot stronger position” today than it was in the price crash of 2014, according to the energy analyst.

“A lot of the debt has been put in a much more consolidated position. We’ve just had a round of credit redetermination in the fall when prices were higher, so that should buy us some time in the market as well,” Essner said, referring to the banks’ twice-yearly borrowing base redetermination of energy companies.

Over the past few weeks, when oil prices were falling due to fears that the OPEC+ production cuts won’t be enough to rebalance the oil market, some companies announced their 2019 capital budget plans.

Many of those companies said they would be cutting spending and the number of rigs, Essner said, noting that lower spending levels will ultimately result in a lower pace of oil production growth, but it will take time.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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