This will be a once-a-month post with quotes, images, and videos that caught my attention throughout the month, which I believe highlight the reason why people should be paying closer attention to the extreme times we live in. Although copied [mostly] word for word, I will often add stress to certain key parts. And to kick this article off, here’s the first quote:
And I know a lot of our [PeakProsperity.com] readership, and perhaps yours as well, are frustrated with the idea that once they have woken up, they see things for how they are working and then all the pieces fit. They’re like “Oh, this makes sense. The whole world suddenly makes sense. Didn’t make sense before. Now it does.” Their frustration is trying to talk to friends, family, loved ones who aren’t yet in that alert state and finding that the barrier to even begin having that conversation is a painful one, if not an impossible one depending on the circumstances. That is where a lot of frustration comes in. I got to tell you, once I learned how to see this stuff for what it was, it’s not hard to spot. It is pretty easy.
~ Chris Martenson, PhD, MBA, Co-Founder of PeakProsperity.com
The World’s Financial System is Extremely Unsafe
Much of what I read this month had to do with negative interest rates on bank deposits in Europe (aka having to pay to have your money in a bank), Europe’s launching of American-style quantitative easing (aka money-printing), and increasing chatter regarding a bond and/or stock market crashes looming in the not-so-distant future.
No Trust in Banks: People Paying Nestle Keep Their Money Safe
A very unique occurrence took place in Euro debt markets in early February. Nestle´s shorter term corporate debt actually traded with a negative yield. Think about this. Investors were willing to lose a little bit of money (-20 basis points, or -.2%) for the “safety” of essentially being able to park their capital in Nestle’s balance sheet. This is a very loud statement and may be a very important “signal” for what lays ahead.
Certainly for the buyer of Nestle debt with a negative yield, motivation is not the return on capital, but the return of capital.
~ Brian Pretti, CFA, Managing Editor of ContraryInvestor.com
This is saying that people are basically giving Nestle their money (yes, the chocolate company) knowing that in the future they won’t get it all back because they feel that’s safer than buying government bonds, investing in the stock market, or even just putting it in a bank account or stuffing it in the mattress!
Market Crash: Once a Sell-off Happens, Robots will Make it Fast and Deadly
…the high frequency algorithm trading conundrum is really interesting because…they’ve essentially risen to primacy during markets that have gone up relentlessly. And so we haven’t yet seen what happens with those automated trading systems once the trend turns and the trend is down…These robots don’t [have emotions]. So when the market turns (and they turn because they are by definition momentum trackers), the momentum swings around to a downward moving market and [because] they have no emotion they will just sell.
So when we get a switch in the market, a real switch which is something that obviously the central banks and governments in the world are desperately trying to avoid happening, we will see how this…new world works in the opposite direction and it’s going to work similar except for the fact that you’re going to have a bunch of people looking to sell alongside the robots…If you want to sell stock you need a bid and sometimes—people have forgotten this—but sometimes there are no bids. And where there are no bids, you can’t sell. And the first bid you might see may be down 20, 30, 40%. Guess what? The robots may well start hitting those; so you’re going to see incredible dislocations in markets once the wind changes direction and markets head the other way.
~ Grant Williams, Senior Advisor at Vulpes Investment Management, Author of TTMYGH.com
These trading robots represent well over 50% of all trading and once the market reverses it could be disastrous. Do you remember the “flash crashes” that happened in recent years (where the robots accidentally sold off and started moving markets), during which they had to temporarily suspend trading? Well when a real crash happens (not just a computer glitch) this will pale in comparison.
Banks at Risk: U.K. “Too-Big-To-Fail” Banks May Prove “Too-Big-To-Save”
“Market-wide exercises have been conducted to test resilience, but not on a comprehensive basis to address the risk of systemic financial collapse triggered by an unexpected event,” [The British Public Administration Select Committee stated].
Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Bernard Jenkin, a Conservative MP and chair of the Commons Committee, said Britain is still characterized by institutions that are “too big to fail.” He warned these institutions saturate “national borrowing capacity,” and in the event of a serious financial crisis may prove “too big to save.”
~ RT News
When you have politicians openly admitting the system has only gotten worse since 2008, not better, this is a dangerous sign to me as to where things stand in reality, since usually it’s the politicians who are the last to recognize there is a problem.
Market Crash: 1929 and 1999 on Instant Replay
On March 9th, 2009 the S&P 500 hit a low of 676.53. Since that day, it has risen more than 200 percent.
“Such a strong six year run up in US equities has only been seen twice since 1900, i.e., back in 1929 and 1999, neither of which ended well,” [analyst Andrew] Lapthorne wrote.
When the only comparable-to-today moments in stock market history are lead-ups to the two worst crashes in history, this should be a pretty clear indication that risk is very high.
Cash is Becoming Illegal
Starting in September, cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros will be banned in France.
Spain has already banned cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros and Italy has already banned cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.
[And in the US], if you regularly deposit large amounts of cash, there is a very good chance that you have been the subject of a “suspicious activity report”. [A government website states] “banks, bank holding companies, and their subsidiaries are required by federal regulations53 to file a SAR with respect to transactions conducted or attempted by, at, or through the bank (or an affiliate) and aggregating $5,000 or more, if the bank or affiliate knows, suspects, or has reason to suspect that the transaction:
- “May involve potential money laundering or other illegal activity (e.g., terrorism financing).54″
- “Is designed to evade the BSA or its implementing regulations.55″
- “Has no business or apparent lawful purpose or is not the type of transaction that the particular customer would normally be expected to engage in, and the bank knows of no reasonable explanation for the transaction after examining the available facts, including the background and possible purpose of the transaction.”
Most people don’t realize this, but there are minimum quotas for suspicious activity reports that banks must meet. If they do not submit enough suspicious activity reports, they can be fined (or worse).
~ Michael Snyder, quoting language taken directly from US law
You might ask, “Why would they want to make cash illegal?” The answer is because the harder they make conducting cash transactions, the more transactions will be completed electronically. When cash is “in the cloud” so to speak, you don’t really have it in your own possession (somebody else does) and if some terrible market accident happens and banks start going bankrupt, guess who doesn’t get their money back?
Banks at Risk: Major US Banks’ “Assets” Mostly Worthless
The U.S. just did a stress test on the banking system. They failed Santander [UK] and Deutsche Bank [Germany]. Well, Deutsche Bank has 55 trillion euros in derivatives. Eric, German GDP is only 2.7 trillion euros. So Deutsche Bank is [worth] 20-times the German economy. That is partly why they failed the (stress) test.
As the (stress) test was carried out in the United States, (of course) all 31 U.S. banks passed. But just look at JP Morgan — their derivatives are around $75 trillion. That is more than 4-times U.S. GDP, with most of these derivatives being worthless.
~ Egon von Greyerz, Founder of Matterhorn Asset Management and AG & GoldSwitzerland
That is insane to think one bank has assets worth four times the entire US economy’s GDP, and since derivatives are contractual in nature their worth is 100% dependent on another party’s ability to make good on the deal. This makes it extremely risky to count that $75 trillion as “real” worth. In reality, the bank isn’t worth more than the entire US’s economy – it’s worth much less.
The US is Broke: BU Professor Estimates the US has $210 Trillion in Debt
[Boston University economist Laurence] Kotlikoff uses “fiscal gap accounting” and “generational accounting” in an attempt to get his arms around all the promises the government has made, whether “on books” (such as Treasury bills, notes, and bonds), or “off books” (such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Prescription Drug Benefit). He then compares U.S. government promises to expected government income from all sources: taxes, fees, tariffs, interest payments, payroll taxes, and so forth. The fiscal gap, instead of the highly misleading (he says) number issued by the [Congressional Budget Office] of some $11 trillion, is really $210 trillion.
~ The New American
Inflation Ahead: First in the Financial Market, Then in the Street
You have respected economists…saying prices are not rising, they’re falling; we’re actually in danger of having a price slump. That is the general expectation, but what they’re missing is that the prices they are monitoring are…set by the statisticians.
You have to include everything, every human activity that we get involved with. We buy stocks! What’s happened to the prices there? Oh, price inflation – do you see what I mean? Now at some stage the price inflation that is evident in those parts of the market…will move over into those items that are in the [inflation] statistics, and then all hell will break loose. With the amount of money that has been printed, with the amount of bank credit there is in the system, there is likely to be a real crisis of confidence at some stage (and it’s probably not too far away) in the purchasing power of the dollar, and that crisis initially happens in financial markets and then it happens on the street.
Basically, Alasdair is saying that inflation is somewhat invisible right now because it’s all contained within the stock market, but at some point this inflation will spill over into the day-to-day things people buy, and at that point inflation won’t be so invisible and that’s when panic will strike.
A “Holy Shit” Visual of Detroit
What’s a “holy shit visualization?”
It’s a way of looking at data that turns a statistic you might have flipped past in a book or skimmed by on a web page into something that you can’t forget. It’s a visceral reminder of the power of images and the power of looking at dry numbers in human terms.
For Mike Evans, the map below was a holy shit visualization. Properties in yellow are in tax distress. Those in orange are under tax foreclosure. Those in red have been foreclosed.
In 2014, 50 percent of properties in the city of Detroit were in danger of foreclosure, being foreclosed, or owned by the city. That’s a frightening statistic. But seeing what it looks like on the map makes the scale of the problem more visceral.
~ Ethan Zuckerman, for PBS News
Former Plunge Protection Team Insider Says US Government Manipulates Markets
One year after the great stock market crash in 1987, US President Ronald Reagan launched the “Working Group on Financial Markets.” Conspiracy theorists believe, however, that the real task of this committee is to protect against a renewed slump in the stock market. In the jargon of Wall Street, the working group is known as the “Plunge Protection Team.”
One glimpse at a few days during 2007/8 and it is clear that ‘someone’ with infinitely deep pockets was able to support markets on several critical days – though, of course, anyone proclaiming intervention was propagandized away as a conspiracy theory wonk. However, as Dr. Pippa Malmgren – a former member of the U.S. President’s Working Group on Financial Markets – it is not conspiracy theory, it is conspiracy fact: “there’s no price discovery anymore by the market… governments impose prices on the market.”
~ Zero Hedge
Is World War a Real Possibility?
My thinking has been (and remains) that a financial collapse will force the world into a temporary state of chaos where a giant amount of wealth will be transferred from the many to the few. However, the deeper the US gets into its arrogant military endeavors, the more I’m coming around to the idea that a new World War is not that far-fetched. Here are a handful of disturbing articles I read.
Scottish 7-Year-Old School Children Being Taught Who to Hate
A Scottish school has come under fire for issuing primary school kids homework featuring questions about global terrorist organizations. Children were asked to describe the various tactics of Al-Qaeda, the IRA and Hamas. Children, some as young as seven at New Stevenston Primary in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, were handed worksheets with a cartoon of an exploding bomb. One of the exercises required pupils to consider why “Palestinians feel that they have the RIGHT to use terrorism against the Israelis.”
~ RT News
Children naturally view the world through unassuming, objective, and open-minded eyes. Isn’t it a shame when society starts teaching them to pigeon-hole entire cultures as being either good guys or bad guys.
The US Needs to Start Killing Russians
The only way the United States can have any effect in this region and turn the tide is to start killing Russians…Killing so many Russians that even Putin’s media can’t hide the fact that Russians are returning to their motherland in body bags. But given the amount of support we’ve given to the Ukrainians and given the ability of Ukrainians themselves to counterattack against 12,000 Russians camped in their country – sadly, that’s not likely to happen.
~ Robert H. Scales, Retired United States Army Major General
Really? Sadly this is not likely to happen? Actually, sadly I think it’s more likely than we’d all like to think.
Creation of Joint-European Military
The European Commission chief has called for the creation of an “EU joint army” that would “react credibly” to any external threat and defend the bloc’s “values.” While the UK and France are wary it could undermine NATO, Germany has backed the idea.
“You would not create a European army to use it immediately,” [European Commission President Jean-Claude] Juncker said. “But a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.”
~ RT News
So Europe is saying it needs its own army. And how did Russia react?
“In the nuclear age extra armies do not provide any additional security. But they surely can play a provocative role,” Klintsevich said…
~ Zero Hedge
Ha – they immediately dropped the nuclear trump card. However, is Russia the real reason Europe wants its own army?
An EU military force is being justified as protection from Russia, but it may also be a way of reducing US influence as the EU and Germany come to loggerheads with the US and NATO over Ukraine.
Previously, the EU military force was seriously mulled over during the buildup to the illegal Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 when Germany, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg met to discuss it as an alternative to US-dominated NATO. The idea has been resurrected again under similar circumstances. In 2003, the friction was over the US-led invasion of Iraq. In 2015, it is because of the mounting friction between Germany and the US over the crisis in Ukraine.
~ Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Sociologist, Geopolitical Analyst
I’m not sure what to believe here. Europe has gone along with the US on sanctioning Russia but also worked with Russia to put a ceasefire into effect in the Ukraine (by excluding the US from the talks) because they are trying to avoid war in the region. I tend to agree with the idea that they are trying to reduce US influence in the region, since US influence inevitably always leads to economic disruption and war.
Nuclear War: US Continues to Act Non-Diplomatically
You’d think that with the stakes being so high that there would be obvious diplomatic efforts underway to try and defuse the situation and prevent any accidents from happening. But instead, we see the West consistently accusing Russia of aggressiveness while holding hundreds of military exercises and positioning its NATO equipment closer and closer to Russia’s borders. Meanwhile Russia is busy saying to the world, “Hey look: we still have a bunch of working nukes over here and we think you should keep that in mind.”
I am seriously entertaining preparing for war, and as I’ve written before, the nature of this next war could involve everything from trade battles, to cyber attacks, to financial system assaults, a downing of the US electrical grid, to an actual shooting war — perhaps one that escalates to a nuclear exchange.
~ Chris Martenson, PhD, MBA, Co-Founder of PeakProsperity.com
US Hubris: USS Theodore Roosevelt Sunk by 39 Year-Old French Submarine
[During recent war-games in the North Atlantic], a single 39-year old [French] submarine managed to sneak into the protective ring of an entire aircraft carrier group and go through a mock firing of its entire complement of torpedoes against the entire set of targets.
Besides the embarrassment for the US crews involved, this proves an important point: ships are no match for submarines. And there are a lot of submarines out there on both sides [of a conflict with Russia]. Offensive anti-ship technology in the form of advanced submarine torpedoes, as well as missiles fired from land or aircraft, have advanced by enormous leaps and bounds since WWII.
The US has never faced an adversary with such technology in open warfare. But Russia and China (and even Iran) are stocked to the gills with such weapons.
By provoking Russia, the US risks exposing the fact that it cannot really project power all across the globe anymore because it cannot possibly ship things to and fro with impunity. Once that calculus changes, everything changes — with King Dollar right at the top of the list.
~ Chris Martenson, PhD, MBA, Co-Founder of PeakProsperity.com
NATO (The West) is Empire-Building, Russia is Not
Just for once, let us try this argument with an open mind, employing arithmetic and geography and going easy on the adjectives. Two great land powers face each other. One of these powers, Russia, has given up control over 700,000 square miles of valuable territory. The other, the European Union, has gained control over 400,000 of those square miles. Which of these powers is expanding?
~ Peter Hitchens for The Spectator
Is The United States the Evil Empire of our Day?
When you read history, you often read of empires that rise to power and glory and employ tactics such as censorship of the media, limitations of individual freedoms, increased para-military police forces, manipulation of financial markets, and use of propaganda to project lies to the people. These are all things the US currently does, although some are blissfully unaware or don’t think it’s a big deal.
American Cops Kill 1,100 People in 2014
In 2014, police in the United States killed 1,100 people. During that same year, police in Canada killed 14 people, police in China killed 12 people and police in Germany didn’t kill anyone at all.
The US to Spend $23 Million on Russian-Language Propaganda
…the US has been ramping up its information campaign which [US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria] Nuland says is aimed at “countering lies with truth.” Washington will spend over $23 million on Russian-language programming in 2015 – an increase of 49 percent from last year, and over 100 percent from 2013.
Nuland’s testimony included the claim that “hundreds” of Russian tanks and other weapon systems have entered Ukraine to support the militias in Donetsk and Lugansk, all as Washington or any of its allies are yet to prove any of those hot headed statements. When, back in December, Americans planned to publish photos allegedly of Russian vehicles entering Ukraine – they turned out to be 2008 photographs from South Ossetia. The only objective international monitoring force, the OSCE, has never detected any crossings of Russian military or its equipment into Ukraine.
~ RT News
Reading things like this further solidify for me how hypocritical the US is, accusing other nations of spreading lies and propaganda while at the same time doing it themselves. They continue to repeat over and over again that Russia has sent troops into Ukraine, so much so that the whole Western world seems to take it as fact when the truth is that not a single shred of evidence has been offered.
What Did JFK Know That We Don’t?
I had never seen this quote until a friend of mine posted it on Facebook, so it made its way into this post!
Peace? Out of the Question! Please, Get Back to War.
Now that the armed hostilities in Ukraine have been put on hold in general, Washington is going public with plans to supply Kiev with lethal aid. America’s NATO allies, namely France and Germany, have spoken against arming Ukraine, a move that could shatter the fragile peace that have just settled in the country torn by a civil war. Both sides of the conflict are currently fulfilling their obligations under the peace agreement signed between the Kiev authorities and the rebels on February 12, pulling away all major artillery and multiple rocket launching systems from the frontline.
~ RT News
The US clearly doesn’t like it when wars they helped start take a turn towards peace. Now that a ceasefire is in place, it makes total sense that we should introduce lethal aid to a side of our choosing! ::note sarcasm::
The Real Origin of ISIS
“I think the U.S. is hostage to its own regime-change philosophy. Uh, you know, the U.S. is very good at blowing things up and destroying societies, but it is very very bad at putting them back together.”
~ Daniel McAdams, Ron Paul Institute
This is a great report by Ben Swann on the actual origins of ISIS, something most people do not actually know or understand.
“There Are None So Enslaved as Those Who Believe They Are Free”
There are none so enslaved as those who believe they are free, right? That famous quote. I think there are a lot of people here who believe they are free, believe they know what is going on, trust that—whether it is NPR or whether it is the New York Times or Wall Street Journal or FOX or whatever their preferred source is that they are getting accurate information, that the context is right. I got to tell you, Charles, I see stuff that is so blatantly wrong, so consistently wrong, that it can’t be accidents of junior reporters and bad editing.
Like the whole run up to the Iraq war where the New York Times got every facet wrong. Like how hard would it have been to find an expert to talk about aluminum tubes and what grade would it need to be and what alloy and what would they look like and how many would you need and all of that in order to support the idea that those aluminum tubes that got splashed out that were supposedly evidence of a mass uranium centrifuge process in Iraq—anybody who even had studied this for 10 minutes could have looked at this and said this is crap. Complete crap. But the New York Times had some compelling interest in seeing the United States go to war in Iraq for reasons that are too complex to go into here. But trust me, they exist. And secondarily, they don’t want to upset the apple cart. They’ve got nice, cozy relationships and good access and unnamed sources and all of that. And third of all, they know something even more dire, which is that if they really did run afoul of the prevailing government interest to go to war in Iraq, that they would have run into the buzz saw. And that buzz saw would have made their lives hard. There would have been IRS audits. There would have been mysterious delays in [Freedom of Information Act] requests. There would have been block outs on White House press briefing conferences. There would have been a drying up of unnamed sources. They know what side the bread is buttered on.
And so I actually think that the system of control of information that we have in the United States today is elegant, it is sophisticated, it is actually something that really comports very well with things I’ve learned about—how do I put this delicately—psychological control and operations.
~ Chris Martenson, PhD, MBA, Co-Founder of PeakProsperity.com
Tanks? No Thanks!
This is an image taken from the Czech Republic regarding movement of US troops through the region:
The American military vehicles, which took part in NATO drills in Poland, Lithuania and Estonia, plan to cross the territory of the Czech Republic between March 29 and April 1 on their way to a base in the German city of Vilseck.
~ RT News
The American military has literally been on a parade going through Eastern Europe and stopping at as many capital cities as possible along the way.
The White House Exempts Itself from the Freedom of Information Act
Notwithstanding claims of being the most transparent administration ever, the White House now says that an executive branch office is exempt from United States Freedom of Information Act requests effective immediately.
As of Tuesday, the Office of Administration will no longer have to heed [Freedom of Information Act] requests — the likes of which had for decades helped explain the inner workings of White House functions — according to a notice published in the Federal Register this week.
~ RT News
Prepping for Martial Law? US Military Conducting War Games in Local Communities
As elite branches of the US military prepare to hold military training in seven southwest states, with some troops operating incognito among civilians, some Americans fear the training is actually preparation for imposing martial law. Operation Jade Helm, which is scheduled to kick off in July and run for eight weeks, will involve the participation of 1,200 troops from the US military’s most elite fighting forces, including Green Berets, Navy SEALS and Special Operations from the Air Force and Marines.
In an effort to simulate the type of battlefield conditions soldiers may face in foreign countries, the US military has designated the remote training areas where they will operate as in a “hostile” territory, a description that has irked some residents.
~ RT News
Sentenced to 100 Years for Exposing the Truth
CIA whistleblower, Jeffrey Sterling, now faces up to 100 years in prison and a fine of $2.25 million for blowing the whistle on the CIA planting false evidence of nuclear weapons in Iran. This demonstrates how corrupt the government is. They will start wars for personal gain and lie to the people each and every time. Obama promised he would be honorable and “protect” whistleblowers from prosecution and punishment – just another crock of bullshit. He is due in court April 24th.
~ Martin Armstrong, Author of ArmstrongEconomics.com
The Environment Gets the Shaft
Meet the “American Progressive Bag Alliance”
Last year, California became the first state to pass a statewide ban on plastic bags in stores. But the law, which was set to go in effect for supermarkets in July, has been put on hold after the American Progressive Bag Alliance submitted a petition with over 800,000 names. Last week, California officials announced that voters would have to ratify the law in a referendum on the 2016 ballot.
The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which is supported by major plastics manufacturers, spent over $3 million on consultants and a petition management company between October and December, when it was collecting signatures. The group told the San Francisco Chronicle that plastic bags, like those handed out by restaurants and stores, are a $100 million- to $150 million-a-year business in California. That’s well worth the $3 million investment, Chronicle columnists Phil Matier and Andy Ross noted.
~ Washington Post
Yes, there’s actually a lobbyist group for plastic bags. God forbid people move away from disposable goods that destroy the planet.
The World Moves Away from the US Dollar
Several Countries Joining the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
Late yesterday [March 12, 2015], the government of the United Kingdom announced that they would be applying to join the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank… as a founding member. This is huge. Right now, the United States dominates the global financial system. But after years of endless wars, spying, debt, money printing, bailouts, and insane regulations, the rest of the world has had enough. And they’re looking for an alternative. China is coming up with an answer.
The soon-to-be-live Chinese International Payment System (CIPS) will provide a way for banks to transfer funds to one another without having to use the US banking system… or the US dollar.
Britain might be too polite to tell the US straight up– “Look, you have $18.1 trillion in official debt, you have $42 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and you’re kind of a dick. I’m dumping you.” So instead they’re going with the “it’s not you, it’s me” approach.
But to anyone paying attention, it’s pretty obvious where this trend is going. It won’t be long before other western nations jump on the anti-dollar bandwagon with action and not just words.
~ Simon Black, Founder of SovereignMan.com
Actually since the UK decided to join the AIIB other US allies, such as Australia, have also decided to do so. This has been a slap in the face to the US, who has been urging its allies not to participate in the AIIB. They have since been forced to change their rhetoric on the subject. It’s also worth mentioning that the reason the UK decided to join is because the Chinese wants their offshore banking done in London, not the US (for more on this, please listen to this interview with Alasdair Macleod).
China Reducing Holdings of US Dollars
China, the largest holder of US debt, has continued to cut back on US Treasuries for the fifth consecutive month, shaving $5.2 billion from its holdings between December and January. Japan is edging closer in overtaking the number one spot.
~ RT News
This is important because as foreign demand of US dollars dries up, the supply and demand balance shifts in such a way that there are suddenly more dollars than the world knows what to do with. This sort of shift leads to a decrease in purchasing power.