Sunday, January 17, 2016

Welcome To The New Normal, A Recession Worse Than 2008 Is Coming

Welcome To The New Normal: The Dow Crashes Another 390 Points And Wal-Mart Closes 269 Stores

Did you know that 15 trillion dollars of global stock market wealth has been wiped out since last June?  The worldwide financial crisis that began in the middle of last year is starting to spin wildly out of control.  On Friday, the Dow plunged another 390 points, and it is now down a total of 1,437 points since the beginning of this calendar year.  Never before in U.S. history have stocks ever started a year this badly.  The same thing can be said in Europe, where stocks have now officially entered bear market territory.  As I discussed yesterday, the economic slowdown and financial unraveling that we are witnessing are truly global in scope.  Banks are failing all over the continent, and I expect major European banks to start making some huge headlines not too long from now.  And of course let us not forget about China.  On Friday the Shanghai Composite declined another 3.6 percent, and overall it is now down more than 20 percent from its December high.  Much of this chaos has been driven by the continuing crash of the price of oil.  As I write this article, it has dipped below 30 dollars a barrel, and many of the big banks are projecting that it still has much farther to fall.
The other night, Barack Obama got up in front of the American people and proclaimed that anyone that was saying that the economy was not recovering was peddling fiction.  Well, if the U.S. economy is doing so great, then why in the world has Wal-Mart decided to shut down 269 stores?…
Walmart (WMT) will close 269 stores around the world in a strategic move to focus more on its supercenters and e-commerce business, the company said Friday.
The closures include 154 U.S. locations, encompassing Walmart’s entire fleet of 102 ‘Express’ format stores, its smallest stores that have been in pilot testing since 2011. Some supercenters, Sam’s Club locations and Neighborhood Markets will also close, plus 115 stores in Latin American markets. The closures were decided based on financial performance and how well the locations fit with Walmart’s broader strategy, says Greg Hitt, a company spokesman

We have grown accustomed to other major retailers shutting down stores, but this is Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart doesn’t retreat.  For decades, Wal-Mart has been on a relentless march forward.  They have been an unstoppable juggernaut that has expanded extremely aggressively and that has ruthlessly crushed the competition.
I was absolutely stunned when I saw that they were going to close down 269 stores.  If you want to know if your local store is in danger, you can view the full list right here.
Overall, 10,000 Wal-Mart employees will be affected.  I could understand closing down a few underperforming stores, but if the U.S. economy truly is in great shape then it wouldn’t make any sense at all to shut down hundreds of stores.
What in the name of Sam Walton is going on out there?
The truth, of course, is that the U.S. economy is in great danger.  We have now entered the next great crisis, but most communities around the country never even recovered from the last one.  In fact, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that a whopping 93 percent of all counties in the United States “have failed to fully recover” from the last recession…

More than six years after the economic expansion began, 93% of counties in the U.S. have failed to fully recover from the blow they suffered during the recession.
Nationwide, 214 counties, or 7% of 3,069, had recovered last year to prerecession levels on four indicators: total employment, the unemployment rate, size of the economy and home values, a study from the National Association of Counties released Tuesday fo
The next few weeks are going to be very interesting to watch.  The economic fundamentals continue to deteriorate, and the financial markets are finally starting to catch up with economic reality.
As the collapse on Wall Street accelerates, we are going to increasingly see panic selling and forced liquidations.  In the past, it was mostly humans that had their hands on the controls during market crashes, but today the machines are making more of the decisions than ever before.  The following comes from CNBC

Earlier today, an article authored by Michael Pento entitled “A recession worse than 2008 is coming” was posted on CNBC.  Here is a short excerpt…

But a recession has occurred in the U.S. about every five years, on average, since the end of WWII; and it has been seven years since the last one — we are overdue.
Most importantly, the average market drop during the peak to trough of the last 6 recessions has been 37 percent. That would take the S&P 500 down to 1,300; if this next recession were to be just of the average variety.
But this one will be worse.
If stocks do drop a total of 37 percent, that would just bring them back to levels that would be considered “normal” or “average” by historical standards.  There is certainly the possibility that they could fall much farther than that.
And of course the markets are so incredibly fragile at this point that any sort of a “trigger event” could cause a collapse of epic proportions.
All it is going to take is a major disaster or emergency of some sort.

The S&P 500 has begun 2016 with its worst performance ever. This has prompted Wall Street apologists to come out in full force and try to explain why the chaos in global currencies and equities will not be a repeat of 2008. Nor do they want investors to believe this environment is commensurate with the dot-com bubble bursting. They claim the current turmoil in China is not even comparable to the 1997 Asian debt crisis. 
Indeed, the unscrupulous individuals that dominate financial institutions and governments seldom predict a down-tick on Wall Street, so don't expect them to warn of the impending global recession and market mayhem. 
But a recession has occurred in the U.S. about every five years, on average, since the end of WWII; and it has been seven years since the last one — we are overdue. 
Most importantly, the average market drop during the peak to trough of the last 6 recessions has been 37 percent. That would take the S&P 500 down to 1,300; if this next recession were to be just of the average variety. 
But this one will be worse.

A major contributor for this imminent recession is the fallout from a faltering Chinese economy. The megalomaniac communist government has increased debt 28 times since the year 2000. Taking that total north of 300 percent of GDP in a very short period of time for the primary purpose of building a massive unproductive fixed asset bubble that adds little to GDP.

Now that this debt bubble is unwinding, growth in China is going offline. The renminbi's falling value, cascading Shanghai equity prices (down 40 percent since June 2014) and plummeting rail freight volumes (down 10.5 percent year over year), all clearly illustrate that China is not growing at the promulgated 7 percent, but rather isn't growing at all. The problem is that China accounted for 34 percent of global growth, and the nation's multiplier effect on emerging markets takes that number to over 50 percent.

But most importantly, even if one were to concede financial institutions are less leveraged; the startling truth is that businesses, the federal government and the Federal Reserve have taken on a humongous amount of additional debt since 2007. Even household debt has increased back to its 2007 record of $14.1 trillion. Specifically, business debt during that time frame has grown from $10.1 trillion, to $12.6 trillion; the total national debt boomed from $9.2 trillion, to $18.9 trillion; and the Fed's balance sheet has exploded from $880 billion to $4.5 trillion.

Therefore, this inevitable, and by all accounts brutal upcoming recession, will coincide with two unprecedented and extremely dangerous conditions that should make the next downturn worse than 2008.

First, the Fed will not be able to lower interest rates and provide any debt-service relief for the economy. In the wake of the Great Recession, former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke took the overnight interbank lending rate down to zero percent from 5.25 percent and printed $3.7 trillion. The Fed bought longer-term debt in order to push mortgages and nearly every other form of debt to record lows.

The best the Fed can do now is to take away its 0.25 percent rate hike made in December. 
Second, the federal government increased the amount of publicly-traded debt by $8.5 trillion (an increase of 170 percent), and ran $1.5 trillion deficits to try to boost consumption through transfer payments. Another such ramp up in deficits and debt, which are a normal function of recessions after revenue collapses, would cause an interest-rate spike that would turn this next recession into a devastating depression. 

It is my belief that, in order to avoid the surging cost of debt-service payments on both the public and private-sector level, the Fed will feel compelled to launch a massive and unlimited round of bond purchases. However, not only are interest rates already at historic lows, but faith in the ability of central banks to provide sustainable GDP growth will have already been destroyed, given their failed eight-year experiment in QE. 
Therefore, the ability of government to save the markets and the economy this time around will be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Look for chaos in currency, bond and equity markets on an international scale throughout 2016. Indeed, it already has begun.

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