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Legendary Investor Jim Rogers Warns That The Worst Stock Market Crash In Your Lifetime Is Coming ‘This Year Or Next’ June 11, 2017

If Jim Rogers is right, the worst stock market crash that any of us has ever seen is right around the corner.  For the past 15 years, Rogers has been a frequent guest analyst on CNBC, Fox News and elsewhere, and he is immensely respected for the depth of knowledge and experience that he brings to the table.  So the fact that he is warning that we are about to see the worst stock market crash in any of our lifetimes is making a lot of waves in the financial community.  And of course Rogers is far from alone.  Previously, I have written about several other prominent experts that are warning that a new financial crisis is imminent, and I have also discussed how a number of big investors are quietly positioning themselves to make an enormous amount of money when the markets crash.  Could it be possible that all of these incredibly sharp minds could be wrong?  Yes, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

I was actually quite stunned when I first learned what Jim Rogers had told Henry Blodget of Business Insider during a recent interview.  Rogers has built up a tremendous amount of credibility, but now he is putting that credibility on the line by warning that a great stock market crash will happen by the end of next year.  Here is the key portion of the interview

Blodget: Well, yeah, TV ratings do seem to go up during crashes, but then they completely disappear when everyone is obliterated, so no one is hoping for that. So when is this going to happen?

Rogers: Later this year or next.

Blodget: Later this year or next?

Rogers: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Write it down.

There is no backing out of a statement like that.

If Rogers is wrong, he will never hear the end of it.

Subsequently, Blodget and Rogers also discussed how severe the coming crisis would be…

Blodget: And how big a crash could we be looking at?

Rogers: It’s going to be the worst in your lifetime.

Blodget: I’ve had some pretty big ones in my lifetime.

Rogers: It’s going to be the biggest in my lifetime, and I’m older than you. No, it’s going to be serious stuff.

So that means that Rogers is convinced that the coming crisis is going to be even worse than what we went through in 2008.

Of course this is something that I have been warning about for quite a while, but for Jim Rogers to make a statement like this is a really, really big deal.

Later in the interview, Rogers shared more details about what he believes the coming crisis will look like…

You’re going to see governments fail. You’re going to see countries fail, this time around. Iceland failed last time. Other countries fail. You’re going to see more of that.

You’re going to see parties disappear. You’re going to see institutions that have been around for a long time — Lehman Brothers had been around over 150 years. Gone. Not even a memory for most people. You’re going to see a lot more of that next around, whether it’s museums or hospitals or universities or financial firms.

That definitely sounds like an “economic collapse” to me.  Of course the truth is that the U.S. economy is already in the midst of a slow-motion economic collapse that stretches back for decades, but this coming crisis that Rogers is talking about is going to great accelerate matters.

Let us hope that it is put off for as long as possible, but at some point we are simply going to run out of time.

And when markets do start falling, they can move very, very rapidly.  Just look at what happened on Friday.  Technology sector stocks were down 2.7 percent, and the FAANG stocks were some of the biggest movers

Facebook fell $5.11, or 3.3%, to $149.60.

Apple fell $6.01, or 3.9%, to $148.90.

Amazon fell $31.96, or 3.2%, to $978.31 now demoted from the elect group for 4-digit stocks back to the large group of 3-digit stocks.

Netflix plunged $7.85, or 4.7%, to $158.20.

Alphabet – the G in FAANG – fell $33.58, or 3.4%, to $952.23, moving further away from everyone’s dream of closing at $1,000.

If we are indeed moving toward a new crisis, one of the things that we will want to watch for is an inverting of the yield curve.

We saw this happen in 2000 and in 2006, and on both occasions it foreshadowed that a huge stock market crash was coming in the not too distant future.

Unfortunately, CNBC says that a new inversion of the yield curve could happen “by the end of this year”…

The bounce in Treasury yields witnessed after the election of Donald Trump is now decaying in the D.C. swamp. If the Federal Reserve continues to ignore this slow growth and deflationary signal from the bond market and continues along its current rate hiking path, the yield curve will invert by the end of this year and an equity market plunge and a recession is sure to follow.

An inverted yield curve, which has correctly predicted the last seven recessions going back to the late 1960’s, occurs when short-term interest rates yield more than longer-term rates. Why is an inverted yield curve so crucial in determining the direction of markets and the economy? Because when bank assets (longer-duration loans) generate less income than bank liabilities (short-term deposits), the incentive to make new loans dries up along with the money supply. And when asset bubbles are starved of that monetary fuel they burst. The severity of the recession depends on the intensity of the asset bubbles in existence prior to the inversion.

Another key indicator is the growth of commercial and industrial loans. According to Zero Hedge, this indicator has correctly foreshadowed every single recession since 1960…

While many “conventional” indicators of US economic vibrancy and strength have lost their informational and predictive value over the past decade (GDP fluctuates erratically especially in Q1, employment is the lowest this century yet real wage growth is non-existent, inflation remains under the Fed’s target despite its $4.5 trillion balance sheet and so on), one indicator has remained a stubbornly fail-safe marker of economic contraction: since the 1960, every time Commercial & Industrial loan balances have declined (or simply stopped growing), whether due to tighter loan supply or declining demand, a recession was already either in progress or would start soon.

So considering the fact that this indicator has been so accurate, it is extremely alarming that we could see our “first negative loan growth” since the last financial crisis “in roughly 4 to 6 weeks”

After growing at a 7% Y/Y pace at the start of the year, which declined to 3% at the end of March and 2.6% at the end of April, the latest bank loan update from the Fed showed that the annual rate of increase in C&A loans is now down to just 1.6%, – the lowest since 2011 – after slowing to 2.3% and 1.8% in the previous two weeks.

Should the current rate of loan growth deceleration persist – and there is nothing to suggest otherwise – the US will post its first negative loan growth, or rather loan contraction since the financial crisis, in roughly 4 to 6 weeks.

And when you throw in all of the other signs that the U.S. economy is slowing down, a very clear picture begins to emerge.

It has been said that those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  As a society, we certainly didn’t learn much from the horrible financial disaster of 2008, and now so many of the exact same patterns are repeating once again.

An unprecedented financial crisis is most definitely heading our way, and the only thing left to be answered is how soon it will get here.

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Central Banks Now Own Stocks And Bonds Worth Trillions – And They Could Crash The Markets By Selling Them June 7, 2017

Have you ever wondered why stocks just seem to keep going up no matter what happens?  For years, financial markets have been behaving in ways that seem to defy any rational explanation, but once you understand the role that central banks have been playing everything begins to make sense.  In the aftermath of the great financial crisis of 2008, global central banks began to buy stocks, bonds and other financial assets in very large quantities and they haven’t stopped since.  In fact, as you will see below, global central banks are on pace to buy 3.6 trillion dollars worth of stocks and bonds this year alone.  At this point, the Swiss National Bank owns more publicly-traded shares of Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg does, and the Bank of Japan is now a top-five owner in 81 different large Japanese firms.  These global central banks are shamelessly pumping up global stock markets, but because they now have such vast holdings they could also cause a devastating global stock market crash simply by starting to sell off their portfolios.

Over the years I have often been asked about the “plunge protection team”, but the truth is that global central banks are the real “plunge protection team”.  If stocks start surging higher on any particular day for seemingly no reason, it is probably the work of a central bank.  Because they can inject billions of dollars into the markets whenever they want, that essentially allows them to “play god” and move the markets in any direction that they please.

But of course what they have done is essentially destroy the marketplace.  A “free market” for stocks basically no longer exists because of all this central bank manipulation.  I really like how Bruce Wilds made this point

One indication of just how messed up and flawed the global markets have become is reflected in the way central banks across the world are now buying stocks. This has become a part of their response to correcting the forces of past excesses. Their incursion into this bastion of the free markets signals we have entered the era where true price discovery no longer exists. The central banks are often viewed as price-insensitive buyers, so this incestuous influx of money is in some ways the ultimate distortion.

According to Business Insider, global central banks are on pace to purchase an astounding 3.6 trillion dollars in stocks and bonds in 2017.

Overall, the five largest global central banks now collectively have 14.6 trillion dollars in assets on their balance sheets.

You can call this a lot of things, but it certainly isn’t free market capitalism.

The Swiss National Bank is one of the biggest offenders.  During just the first three months of this year, it bought 17 billion dollars worth of U.S. stocks, and that brought the overall total that the Swiss National Bank is currently holding to more than $80 billion.

Have you ever wondered why shares of Apple just seem to keep going up and up and up?

Well, the Swiss National Bank bought almost 4 million shares of Apple during the months of January, February and March.

And as I mentioned above, the Swiss National Bank now owns more publicly-traded shares in Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg”

Switzerland’s central bank now owns more publicly-traded shares in Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg, part of a mushrooming stock portfolio that is likely to grow yet further.

The tech giant’s founder and CEO has other ways to control his company: Zuckerberg holds most of his stake in a different class of stock. Nevertheless this example illustrates how the Swiss National Bank has become a multi-billion-dollar equity investor due to its campaign to hold down the Swiss franc.

It is now the world’s eighth-biggest public investor, data from the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum show.

But as shameless as the Swiss National Bank has been, the Bank of Japan is even worse.

Today, the Nikkei is essentially a giant sham.  The Bank of Japan regularly goes in and just starts buying up everything in sight, and according to Bloomberg they are on pace to become the largest shareholder in dozens of the most prominent Japanese corporations by the end of 2017…

Already a top-five owner of 81 companies in Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average, the BOJ is on course to become the No. 1 shareholder in 55 of those firms by the end of next year, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg from the central bank’s exchange-traded fund holdings.

If global central banks have the power to pump up these markets, they also have the power to crash them.

Why would they want to do such a thing?

I can answer that question with just two words…

Donald Trump.

If the Comey angle doesn’t work, the elite could try to destroy Trump by engineering an absolutely devastating stock market crash.  Close to half the U.S. population dislikes Trump anyway, and so it would be fairly easy to get them to believe that Trump’s policies have caused a new financial crisis.  Of course that would be complete nonsense, but in our society today the truth often doesn’t really matter.

And without a doubt, evidence continues to mount that the real economy is starting to slow down substantially.  For example, we just learned that bankruptcies surged once again in May.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

So here we go again. Total US business bankruptcies in May rose 4.7% year-over-year to 3,572 filings, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. That’s up 40% from May 2015 and up 10% from May 2014.

And there’s another concern: Bankruptcy filings are highly seasonal. They peak in tax season – March or April – and then fall off. The decline in April after the peak in March was within that seasonal pattern. Over the past years, filings dropped in May. But not this year.

Without unprecedented intervention by global central banks, financial markets would have crashed long ago.

And if they keep increasing their purchases of stocks and bonds, the central banks may be able to prop things up for a while longer.

Who knows?  Perhaps with enough financial engineering they would be able to keep this bubble going for years.  Of course things would start to get really awkward once they eventually owned virtually everything, but I have a feeling that things will never get that far.

I have a feeling that global central banks will eventually find an excuse to start “unwinding their balance sheets”, and I have a feeling that it will be at a time that is highly inconvenient for President Trump.

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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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