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A Worldwide Debt Default Is A Real Possibility

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Is debt good or bad? The answer is “Yes.”

Debt is future spending pulled forward in time. It lets you buy something now for which you otherwise don’t have cash yet.

Whether it’s wise or not depends on what you buy. Debt to educate yourself so you can get a better job may be a good idea. Borrowing money to finance your vacation? Probably not.

The problem is that many people, businesses, and governments borrow because they can. It’s been possible in the last decade only because central banks made it so cheap.

It was rational in that respect. But it is growing less so as the central banks start to tighten.

Earlier this year, I wrote a series of articles (synopsis and links here) predicting a debt “train wreck” and eventual liquidation. I dubbed it “The Great Reset.” I estimated we have another year or two before the crisis becomes evident.

Now I’m having second thoughts. Recent events tell me the reckoning could be closer than I thought just a few months ago.

Debt Doesn’t Fuel Growth Anymore

Central banks enable debt because they think it will generate economic growth. Sometimes it does. The problem is they create debt with little regard for how it will be used.

That’s how we get artificial booms and subsequent busts. We are told not to worry about absolute debt levels so long as the economy is growing in line with them.

That makes sense. A country with a larger GDP can carry more debt. But that is increasingly not what is happening.

Let me give you two data points.

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

Roman Republic’s Debt Crisis & Led to it’s Collapse

QUESTION: You said that Imperial Rome did not have a national debt nor central banks. Did Rome ever have debts that were not private?

JY

ANSWER: Yes. In all honesty, it was the Debt Crisis that ended the Roman Republic. There was a Sovereign Debt Crisis during the Roman Republic period resulted in a dictatorship and a debt default. The Roman Debt Crisis of the 1st century BC has left behind a vivid account of what took place. The volume of gold and silver in Italy had increased dramatically during the late 2nd century BC following the Punic Wars. We have the first real gold coins issued by the Roman Republic at that time.

However, this concentration of wealth, which was akin to the United States after World War I and II, was absorbed by commercial expansion and investment in Gaul and Asia. A period of excessive concentration of money and large profits came to an end with the rise of the Social War of 91-88BC which was a war waged between the Roman Republic and several of the other cities in Italy (no taxation without representation), which prior to the war had been Roman allies for centuries. The war was begun by the Picentes because the Romans did not want to afford them Roman citizenship, thus leaving the Italian groups with fewer rights. The war resulted in a Roman victory and genocide against the Samnites. However, Rome granted Roman citizenship to almost all of its Italian allies, including the Samnites, to avoid another war. Therefore, we find that the debt crisis was correlated with a separatist movement – which we are beginning to see worldwide starting in Europe, but will eventually become a contagion in the United States as the conflict between left and right erupts after the November elections.

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

The Retail Apocalypse Picks Up Speed As Sears, JCPenney, Brookstone And Mattress Firm Spiral Toward Bankruptcy

The Retail Apocalypse Picks Up Speed As Sears, JCPenney, Brookstone And Mattress Firm Spiral Toward Bankruptcy

Over 20 major retailers have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of last year, and in 2018 we may break the all-time record for annual store closings that was established just last year.  We are in the midst of the worst retail apocalypse in American history, and it appears to be picking up speed as retail giants such as Sears, JCPenney, Brookstone and Mattress Firm spiral toward bankruptcy.  We live at a time when the middle class is being systematically destroyed, and so the truth is that U.S. consumers simply do not have as much discretionary income as they once did.  Many large retailers believed that things would eventually turn around, and they have been fighting very hard to survive, but now time has run out for quite a few of them.

Mattress Firm

Everyone knew that Mattress Firm was in deep trouble, but it still surprised many of us when it was announced that they are officially planning to file for bankruptcy.  The following comes from Reuters

Mattress Firm Inc, the largest U.S. mattress retailer, is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, as it seeks to exit costly store leases and shore up its business, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

At this moment Mattress Firm has approximately 3,000 brick-and-mortar locations, and as those stores close down those abandoned buildings are going to be giant eyesores on street corners all over America.

Brookstone

When I was a kid back in the 1980s, it seemed like Brookstone had an outlet in every mall I visited.  But now Brookstone has filed for bankruptcy, and all remaining mall stores will be shut down

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

Five Pillars of Debt Default

Five Pillars of Debt Default

Regular readers of Gold Goats ‘n Guns know that I’ve been handicapping a major sovereign debt default to begin here in 2018 or early 2019.  But, what do I mean by that?

How does a sovereign debt default come about?  And who will default?

There are a staggering number of factors that feed into this thesis but, for me, to keep it simple it comes down to five important trends coming to a head at the same time.

I call them the Five Pillars.

#1 Massive Foreign Corporate Debt

After ten years of ‘experimental monetary policy’ which drove borrowing costs in U.S dollars down to record lows, foreign companies still reeling from the after-effects of the 2008 financial crisis borrowed trillions of dollars to fund the global expansion of the past few years.

That debt pays investors in US dollars.

But, foreign companies tend to book revenue in their local currency.

A falling local currency makes dollar-denominated debt more expensive to pay off.

This leads to the next Pillar…

#2 Quantitative Tightening.

QT is simply the opposite of QE, Quantitative Easing.  QE expanded the stock of dollars.  QT is contracting it.  This is what is fueling a rising U.S. dollar.  This, in turn, is making it harder for foreign companies to keep up with their bond payments.

They are forced to sell, aggressively, their local currency and buy dollars in the open market.

This is why the Turkish Lira is in serious trouble, for example.

That puts pressure on the country’s sovereign bond market. Since a falling currency lowers the real rate of return on the bond.

Falling currency, falling bonds, Turkey will put on capital controls next.

This feeds into the next Pillar…

#3 Political Unrest in Europe and Emerging Markets

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

President Franklin D. Roosevelt: Architect of Monetary Madness and a U.S. Debt Default

Every schoolchild is dutifully taught that President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) was America’s savior. They are repeatedly told that FDR and his New Deal policies pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression. What nonsense. In fact, FDR was the architect of monetary madness and an American debt default. Yes, FDR engineered a U.S. debt default in 1933.

This story is brilliantly told in a new scholarly book by Sebastian Edwards, the Henry Ford II Professor of International Economics at the University of California at Los Angeles. Edward’s book, American Default: The Untold Story of FDR, the Supreme Court, and the Battle over Gold, has just been released by the Princeton University Press.

FDR entered the White House on March 4, 1933, and in less than two months (April 19, 1933), he announced that he was taking the U.S. off the gold standard. FDR asserted that he was doing this to end the Great Depression and to raise farm prices. As FDR put it: “the whole problem before us is to raise commodity prices.”

FDR gave Congress license, and Congress used it to abrogate the Gold Clause via a joint resolution in June of 1933. Before that, a gold clause was included in most private and public bond covenants. These covenants insured that bond holders would receive interest and principle payments in dollars that contained as much gold as the dollar had contained when the bonds were issued.

The U.S. government manipulated the price of gold upward until President Roosevelt redefined the dollar in gold terms under the Gold Reserve Act of January 1934. Overnight, the dollar became 41% lighter. This left gold-clause bond holders out to dry.

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

77 Million Square Feet Of Retail Space And Counting – America’s Retail Apocalypse Is Spiraling Out Of Control In 2018

77 Million Square Feet Of Retail Space And Counting – America’s Retail Apocalypse Is Spiraling Out Of Control In 2018

In 2017 we absolutely shattered the all-time record for retail store closings in a single year, and this year it looks like we are going to shatter the record once again.  In fact, there are some that are projecting that up to 9,000 retail storescould close by the time that we get to the end of this calendar year.  Already, the amount of retail space that has shut down is simply jaw-dropping.  If you total up all of the retail store closings that have been announced so far in 2018, it accounts for 77 million square feet of retail space.  Let that number sink in for a bit.  Many shopping centers and strip malls around the country already have a post-apocalyptic feel to them, and more “space available” signs are going up with each passing day.  And in case you are tempted to think that I am making this figure up, here it is straight from Bloomberg

At last count, U.S. store closures announced this year reached a staggering 77 million square feet, according to data on national and regional chains compiled by CoStar Group Inc. That means retailers are well on their way to surpassing the record 105 million square feet announced for closure in all of 2017.

In the end, we could shatter the all-time record that was established just last year by 20 or 30 million square feet.

At moments such as this, the phrase “retail apocalypse” doesn’t really seem to fit the gravity of what is actually taking place.

And unfortunately for the retail industry, it doesn’t appear that this crisis is going to end any time soon.  Here is more from Bloomberg

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

Train Crash Preview

Train Crash Preview

Today we will summarize something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Exactly how will we get from the credit crisis, which I think is coming in the next 12–18 months, to what I call the Great Reset, when the global debt will be “rationalized” via some form of nonpayment. Whatever you want to call it, I think a worldwide debt default is likely in the next 10–12 years.

I began this tale last week in Credit-Driven Train Crash, Part 1. Today is Part 2 of a yet-undetermined number of installments. We may break away for a week or two if other events intrude, but I will keep coming back to this. It has many threads to explore. I’m going to talk about my expectations given today’s reality, without the prophetically inconvenient practice of predicting actual dates.

Also, while I think this is the probable path, it’s not locked in stone. Later in this series, I’ll describe how we might avoid the rather difficult circumstances I foresee. While it is difficult now to imagine cooperation between the developed world’s various factions, it has happened before. There are countries like Switzerland that have avoided war and economic catastrophe. We’ll hope our better angels prevail while taking a somber look at the more probable.

The experts who investigate transport disasters, crimes, and terror incidents usually create a chronology of events. Reading them in hindsight can be haunting—you know what’s coming and you want to scream, “Don’t do that!” But of course, it’s too late.

We do something similar in economics when we look back at past recessions and market crashes. The causes seem obvious and we wonder why people didn’t see it at the time. In fact, some people usually did see it at the time, but excessive exuberance by the crowds and willful ignorance among the powerful drowned out their warnings. I’ve been in that position myself and it is quite frustrating.

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

Emerging Market Debt Defaults on the Horizon?

QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong; You said that the emerging markets are a huge problem that will lead to a Sovereign Debt Default. Can you elaborate on that statement?

Thank you for your insight

VU

ANSWER: The emerging markets are in far worse shape today than they were even back in 2008. They have issued heaps of dollar-denominated debt to sell particularly to US pension funds seeking higher yield. Some of the buyers have been state-run pension funds. The outstanding Emerging Market debt has exploded by 50%. The majority of the increase in emerging market indebtedness has been in local currency, which was more than $48.5 trillion as of the end of 2016 from around $43 trillion in 2015 and is pressing $50 trillion for 2017.

We passed $200 trillion in global sovereign debt back in 2016. All of these dollar bears that yell about the USA at $20 trillion, ignore where the world stands at and the fact the USA is still the only economy holding everything up. Both the Emerging Market and EU countries have used the cheap interest rates to just pile on more debt – not reform. This is why central banks have lost all capability of manipulating interest rates to direct the economy. All of those theories are entirely dependent upon DEMAND management. They may, in theory, be able to manage the “demand” of the consumer, but they have zero influence over government spending. They lower rates to stimulate private demand and simply underwrite government debt.

The world comes unglued ONLY with a dollar rally – not a decline. A drop in the dollar would be cheered by governments who would then issue even more debt. A dollar rally will cause the Sovereign Debt Crisis – not a dollar decline. Emerging Market defaults are once again on the timeline. They are economically in far worse shape today than they were in 2008. As interest rates rise, they will blow their budget out and they do NOT have the economies to support the debt repayments (excluding China).

Venezuela Defaults On A Debt Payment – Is This The First Domino To Fall?

Venezuela Defaults On A Debt Payment – Is This The First Domino To Fall?

Did you know that Venezuela just went into default?  This should be an absolutely enormous story, but the mainstream media is being very quiet about it.  Wall Street and other major financial centers around the globe could potentially be facing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, and the ripple effects could be felt for years to come.  Sovereign nations are not supposed to ever default on debt payments, and so this is a very rare occurrence indeed.  I have been writing about Venezuela for years, and now the crisis that has been raging in that nation threatens to escalate to an entirely new level.

Things are already so bad in Venezuela that people have been eating dogs, cats and zoo animals, but now that Venezuela has officially defaulted, there will be no more loans from the rest of the world and the desperation will grow even deeper…

Venezuela, a nation spiraling into a humanitarian crisis, has missed a debt payment. It could soon face grim consequences.

The South American country defaulted on its debt, according to a statement issued Monday night by S&P Global Ratings. The agency said the 30-day grace period had expired for a payment that was due in October.

A debt default risks setting off a dangerous series of events that could exacerbate Venezuela’s food and medical shortages.

So what might that “dangerous series of events” look like?

Well, Venezuela already has another 420 million dollars of debt payments that are overdue.  Investors around the world are facing absolutely catastrophic losses, and the legal wrangling over this crisis could take many years to resolve.  The following comes from Forbes

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

Corporations Are Defaulting On Their Debts Like It’s 2008 All Over Again

Corporations Are Defaulting On Their Debts Like It’s 2008 All Over Again

Corporate Debt Defaults - Public DomainThe Dow closed above 18,000 on Monday for the first time since July.  Isn’t that great news?  I truly wish that it was.  If the Dow actually reflected economic reality, I could stop writing about “economic collapse” and start blogging about cats or football.  Unfortunately, the stock market and the economy are moving in two completely different directions right now.  Even as stock prices soar, big corporations are defaulting on their debts at a level that we have not seen since the last financial crisis.  In fact, this wave of debt defaults have become so dramatic that even USA Today is reporting on it

Get ready to step over some landmines, investors. The number of companies defaulting on their debt is hitting levels not seen since the financial crisis, and it’s not just a problem for bondholders.

So far this year, 46 companies have defaulted on their debt, the highest level since 2009, according to S&P Ratings Services. Five companies defaulted this week, based on the latest data available from S&P Ratings Services. That includes New Jersey-based specialty chemical company Vertellus Specialties and Ohio-based iron ore producer Cliffs Natural. Of the world’s defaults this year, 37 are of companies based in the U.S.

Meanwhile, coal producer Peabody Energy (BTU) and surfwear seller Pacific Sunwear (PSUN) this week filed plans for bankruptcy protection. Shares of Peabody have dropped 97% over the past year to $2 a share and Pacific Sunwear stock is off 98% to 4 cents a share.

A lot of big companies in this country have fallen on hard times, and it looks like bankruptcy attorneys are going to be absolutely swamped with work for the foreseeable future.

So why are stock prices soaring right now?  After all, it doesn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever.

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

16 Facts About The Tremendous Financial Devastation That We Are Seeing All Over The World

16 Facts About The Tremendous Financial Devastation That We Are Seeing All Over The World

Fireball - Devastation - Public DomainAs we enter the second half of 2015, financial panic has gripped most of the globe.  Stock prices are crashing in China, in Europe and in the United States.  Greece is on the verge of a historic default, and now Puerto Rico and Ukraine are both threatening to default on their debts if they do not receive concessions from their creditors.  Not since the financial crisis of 2008 has so much financial chaos been unleashed all at once.  Could it be possible that the great financial crisis of 2015 has begun?  The following are 16 facts about the tremendous financial devastation that is happening all over the world right now…

1. On Monday, the Dow fell by 350 points.  That was the biggest one day decline that we have seen in two years.

2. In Europe, stocks got absolutely smashed.  Germany’s DAX index dropped 3.6 percent, and France’s CAC 40 was down 3.7 percent.

3. After Greece, Italy is considered to be the most financially troubled nation in the eurozone, and on Monday Italian stocks were down more than 5 percent.

4. Greek stocks were down an astounding 18 percent on Monday.

5. As the week began, we witnessed the largest one day increase in European bond spreads that we have seen in seven years.

6. Chinese stocks have already met the official definition of being in a “bear market” – the Shanghai Composite is already down more than 20 percent from the high earlier this year.

7. Overall, this Chinese stock market crash is the worst that we have witnessed in 19 years.

8. On Monday, Standard & Poor’s slashed Greece’s credit rating once again and publicly stated that it believes that Greece now has a 50 percent chance of leaving the euro.

9. On Tuesday, Greece is scheduled to make a 1.6 billion euro loan repayment.  One Greek official has already stated that this is not going to happen.

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

 

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