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Washington D.C. Is Essentially Just A Gigantic Money Machine July 19, 2017

If you have ever wondered why our leaders in Washington D.C. seem to act so strangely, the truth is that it almost always comes down to just one thing.  It has been said that “money makes the world go round”, and that is definitely true in Washington.  This year the federal government will spend more than 4 trillion dollars, and that represents well over one-fifth of our national GDP.  With so much money coming in and so much money going out, the stakes are incredibly high, and that is why so much money is poured into political campaigns on the national level.

And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that those that live the closest to this gigantic money machine have benefited greatly.  Forbes just released their brand new rankings for 2017, and they found that five out of the top 10 wealthiest counties in the entire country are suburbs of Washington D.C.

Virginia’s Loudoun County holds the title of the nation’s richest county with a median household income of $125,900. While nearly 10,000 residents commute to the District, according to Forbes, about 11,700 businesses employ 161,000 county residents, with Dulles International Airport, Loudoun County Public Schools and the Department of Homeland Security leading that charge.

The nearby city of Falls Church, Fairfax and Arlington counties in Virginia and Howard County in Maryland also lead the nation based on wealth.

In general, salaries for federal workers are significantly higher than in the private sector, and benefit packages are usually much better.

But in addition to having a very high concentration of federal workers, the D.C. area is also home to hordes of lawyers, lobbyists, defense contractors and other government vendors.  Big government means big business for those guys, and business has been very good in recent years…

The federal government has a lot to do with this: The Capitol and the economy orbiting around it (including lawyers, defense contractors, computer engineers along the Dulles Corridor, and doctors near NIH) attract college graduates who reliably contribute to six-figure households. Crucially, there was a $1.7 billion increase in lobbying between 1998 and 2010, as Dylan Matthews explained. With each $1 million of lobbying “associated with a $3.70 increase in the D.C. wage premium,” the money pouring into Washington wound up in the pockets of its residents.

This certainly isn’t the limited government that our founders intended.

So where did we go wrong?

One of the big turning points came in 1913.  That is the year when the Federal Reserve and the modern version of the income tax were established.  The Federal Reserve was designed by the elite to get the federal government very deeply into debt, and an income tax was needed to help service that debt and to help pay for the much larger government that the progressives were wanting.

Back then, D.C. was nothing like it is today.  In fact, even in the 1970s there were still large farms inside the Beltway.  But the federal government just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and now it is a four trillion dollar monstrosity.

What I believe we should do is to dismantle as much of that monstrosity as we possibly can.  Instead of asking which government agencies we should close, I believe that we should be asking which government agencies we really need to leave open.

A great place to start would be by abolishing the Federal Reserve, the IRS and the income tax.  Those institutions are at the very core of the Washington money machine, and so it would essentially be like tearing the heart out of big government.

And don’t worry, the federal government would still have plenty of money coming in.  The individual income tax only accounts for about 46 percent of all federal revenue, and theoretically we could still have an absolutely enormous federal government without an income tax.  I once wrote an article that listed 97 different ways that various levels of government get money out of us each year, and so getting rid of the federal income tax would still leave 96 ways for the politicians to extract money from us.

As I remind my readers so frequently, the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was when there was no income tax and no central bank.  But I know that a lot of people out there love the 1.33 percent average yearly GDP growth rate that we have been experiencing over the past decade and would have a really hard time giving that up.

Unfortunately, it would actually be a very tough transition to a much more limited federal government because so much of our society is geared around the enormous money machine in Washington.  In 2018, more than a billion dollars will be spent on the mid-term elections, and most of that money will be going to incumbents that are committed to maintaining the status quo.

If we ever want things to really start changing in Washington, we have got to start sending people there that haven’t been bought off by the big money interests.

In my congressional district there is no incumbent running in 2018, and nobody else in the race is nearly as conservative as I am.  But since I can’t be bought by the special interests, I am going to have to rely on grassroots support.

Donald Trump showed us that anything is possible in American politics.  When Jeb Bush decided to run for president, he had an extremely long list of endorsements and a hundred million dollars behind him, and he still got trounced by Trump because Trump had a much stronger message.

If we stand united, we can take our government back and there won’t be anything that the establishment will be able to do about it.

But if we sit back and do nothing, the cesspool of corruption in Washington D.C. will just continue to get deeper and deeper.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

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House Of Cards: Netflix Is One Of The Poster Children For Tech Bubble 2.0 May 30, 2017

How can a company that is going to generate $2,000,000,000 in negative free cash flow in 2017 be worth 70 billion dollars?  Netflix has soared in popularity in recent years, but so have their financial losses.  Just like during the original tech bubble, investors are ignoring basic fundamentals and are greatly rewarding firms that are bleeding giant mountains of cash year after year just because they are trendy “tech companies”.  But somewhere along the line you actually have to quit losing money if you are going to survive.  Just ask tech bubble 1.0 victims Pets.com, Webvan and Etoys.com.  The investors that poured enormous amounts of money into those companies ended up losing everything, and similar tragedies will play out as tech bubble 2.0 bursts.

So far in 2017, the S&P 500 is up about 8 percent, but FANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) are up a whopping 30 percent.

But at least Facebook, Amazon and Google are making money.

Netflix is not.

So why in the world has the stock shot up by more than 30 percent so far this year?  It just doesn’t make any sense at all.  According to CNBC, during the first quarter Netflix had $423 million in negative free cash flow, and for the entire year it is being projected that it will have $2 billion in negative free cash flow…

The California-based company is now dumping cash into original content to maintain its dominance over its growing field of rivals. The company’s had $423 million negative free cash flow during the quarter, wider than the $261 million negative free cash flow a year ago. Netflix expects to have $2 billion in negative free cash flow this year.

The bleeding of cash at Netflix only seems to be accelerating.  The number for the first quarter of 2017 was 62 percent worse than the number for the first quarter of 2016, and it was more than twice as bad as the number for the first quarter of 2015.

It is hard to imagine that Netflix will ever be more popular than it is right now.

So if Netflix is not making a profit at this point, when will it ever make a profit?

Similar things could be said about Twitter.  This is a company that has never made a yearly profit and that is actually starting to see revenues decline.  But somehow the stock just continues to go up.  Since the last time I wrote about Twitter, the market cap has shot up another 1.5 billion dollars.

At this point, the market values Twitter at 13 billion dollars, but in the entire history of the company it has actually lost 2 billion dollars.

What we are witnessing is a modern day version of “tulip mania”, and at some point this irrational euphoria will come to a sudden end.  In fact, there are already some signs that tech bubble 2.0 may be in a significant amount of trouble.  The following is an excerpt from a Bloomberg article entitled “Investors Go All-In on Tech Giants”

The tech-powered rally has catapulted the sector to a price-to-earnings ratio of 24.4, or 41 percent above the 10-year average. But as Google and Amazon stretch to nearly $1,000 a share, not everyone is comfortable with the valuations. Investors pulled more than $716 million from the most popular technology exchange-traded fund last week — the $17.4 billion Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund, or XLKits largest weekly outflow in over a year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“Most everybody remembers 2000, so they might be getting a little nervous with this development,” said Maley. “I just wonder how many people have said to themselves, ‘If AMZN gets to $1,000, I’m going to take at least some profits.’”

All over the financial world, prominent voices are warning that the enormous financial bubbles that we see all around us are not sustainable and that a major crisis is heading our way.  I wrote about some of these voices yesterday, and today we can add Paul Singer to the list…

Given groupthink and the determination of policy makers to do ‘whatever it takes’ to prevent the next market ‘crash,’ we think that the low-volatility levitation magic act of stocks and bonds will exist until the disenchanting moment when it does not. And then all hell will break loose (don’t ask us what hell looks like…), a lamentable scenario that will nevertheless present opportunities that are likely to be both extraordinary and ephemeral. The only way to take advantage of those opportunities is to have ready access to capital.

When the financial markets collapse, Donald Trump will likely get most of the blame.

But Donald Trump did not create the stock market bubble, and he will not be responsible for ending it either.

Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, we have seen this same story play out over and over again.  There have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions since the Fed was established, and the more the Fed interferes in the marketplace the larger the booms and busts tend to be.

And it could be argued that this time around the Fed has manipulated financial markets more than ever before.  Interest rates were pushed as low as possible and trillions of dollars were pumped into the financial system during the Fed’s quantitative easing programs.  Of course those actions were going to create a huge bubble, and of course that bubble is going to inevitably burst.

Unfortunately, this is not just a game.  Real people with real hopes and real dreams are going to be absolutely devastated.  Millions of Americans that were carefully saving for retirement are going to be financially crippled, and pension funds all over the nation are going to be wiped out.

I don’t know why we can’t seem to learn from history.  And I am not talking about events that happened decades ago.  The build up to this coming crisis is so similar to what we witnessed just before the crashes of 2000 and 2008, but we just keep getting fooled over and over again.

But once things fall apart this time, I think that the American people will finally be fed up.  I think that they will be sick and tired of an unelected, unaccountable central bank that creates endless booms and busts, and I think that they will finally be ready to push Congress to shut the Federal Reserve down for good.

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The Next Stock Market Crash Will Be Blamed On Donald Trump But It Will Be The Federal Reserve’s Fault Instead May 28, 2017

A stock market crash is coming, and the Democrats and the mainstream media are going to blame Donald Trump for it even though it won’t be his fault.  The truth is that we were headed for a major financial crisis no matter who won the election.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up a staggering 230 percent since the lows of 2009, and no stock market rally in our history has ever reached the 10 year mark without at least a 20 percent downturn.  At this point stocks are about as overvalued as they have ever been, and every other time we have seen a bubble of this magnitude a historic stock market crash has always followed.  Those that are hoping that this time will somehow be different are simply being delusional.

Since November 7th, the Dow is up by about 3,000 points.  That is an extremely impressive rally, and President Trump has been taking a great deal of credit for it.

But perhaps he should not have been so eager to take credit, because what goes up must come down.  The following is an excerpt from a recent Vanity Fair article

According to Douglas Ramsay, chief investment officer of the Leuthold Group, Trump administration officials will come to regret gloating about the market’s performance. That’s because Trump enters the White House during one of the most richly valued stock markets in U.S. history. The last president to come in at such valuations was George W. Bush, and the dot-com bubble burst soon afterward. Bill Clinton began his second term in a more overvalued stock market in 1997, and exited unscathed. But if his timing were different by just a year, he would have been blamed for the early-aughts market crash.

This stock market bubble was not primarily created by Barack Obama, Donald Trump or any other politician.  Rather, the Federal Reserve was primarily responsible for creating it by pushing interest rates all the way to the floor during the Obama era and by flooding the financial system with hot money during several stages of quantitative easing.

But now the economy is slowing down.  Economic growth on an annual basis was just 0.7 percent during the first quarter, and yet the Federal Reserve is talking about raising interest rates anyway.

The Federal Reserve also raised interest rates in a slowing economy in the late 1930s, and that had the effect of significantly extending the economic problems during that decade.

As I noted in my article entitled “The Federal Reserve Must Go”, there have been 18 recessions or depressions since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, and now we stand on the precipice of another one.

After this next crisis, hopefully Congress will finally understand that it is time to shut the Federal Reserve down for good, and I am going to do all that I can to make that happen.

Ron Paul is someone that I look up to greatly, and he also agrees that the blame for the coming crisis should be placed on the Federal Reserve instead of on Trump…

“There are some dire predictions that say in the next year, or 18 months, we have something arriving worse than 2008 and 2009, the downturn is much worse,” Paul said in a recent interview with liberty-minded anti-globalist radio host Alex Jones. “They’ll say, ah, it’s all Trump’s fault. No. It wasn’t. 08 and 09 wasn’t Obama’s fault. It was the fault of the Federal Reserve, it was the fault of the Keynesian economic model, the spending too much, the deficit. So, unfortunately, there’s nothing he can do — Trump can’t do it.”

Paul, a medical doctor who took a keen interest in economics throughout his celebrated career as a constitutionalist in Congress, said Trump could “help” the situation by pursuing good policies. “But you can’t avoid the correction, the correction is locked in place, because the deficits are there, the malinvestment, everybody agrees interest rates have been too low too long,” he said in the late January interview. “The only thing he can do is allow the recession to come, get it over with, liquidate the debt. Politically, nobody wants that, so you’re going to see runaway inflation before you see this country wake up.”

Over the past decade, the U.S. economy has grown at an average rate of just 1.33 percent, and there is no possible way to put a positive spin on that.

And now the economy appears to be entering a fresh slowdown.  A couple of months ago, banking giant UBS warned about “a sudden slowdown in new credit”

There’s been a sudden slowdown in new credit extended to businesses over the last year, one that strategists at UBS are calling “drastic” and “highly uncommon outside of economic downturns.”

And since that time, lending has tightened up even more.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

According to the latest Fed data [7], the all-important C&I loan growth contraction has not only continued, but over the past two months, another 50% has been chopped off, and what in early March was a 4.0% annual growth [4]is now barely positive, down to just 2.0%, and set to turn negative in just a few weeks. This was the lowest growth rate since May 2011, right around the time the Fed was about to launch QE2.

At the same time, total loan growth has likewise continued to decline, and as of the second week of May was down to 3.8%, the weakest overall loan creation in three years.

This is exactly what we would expect to see if we were entering a new recession.  Neil Howe, one of the authors of The Fourth Turning, recently warned that “winter is coming” and I have to admit that I agree with him.

So when the stock market finally crashes, how bad could it be?

Well, one analyst that spoke to CNBC said that other historic market crashes have averaged “about 42 percent”…

“If you look at the market historically, we have had, on average, a crash about every eight to 10 years, and essentially the average loss is about 42 percent,” said Kendrick Wakeman, CEO of financial technology and investment analytics firm FinMason.

And as I have explained many times in the past, stocks would have to fall about 40 to 50 percent from current levels just for the stock market to get back to “normal” again.  The valuations that we are seeing today are absolutely insane, and there is no possible way that they are sustainable.

When the crash happens, many people will be pointing their fingers at Trump, but it won’t be his fault.

Instead, it will be the Federal Reserve that will be at fault, and hopefully this coming crisis will convince the American people that it is time to end this insidious debt-based central bank for good.

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