Monday, July 31, 2017
A firestorm of speculative commentary has been ignited by reports that JPMorgan Chase has ceased to accept cash for payments on credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, lines of credit and so on. Not to defend any bank actions, but it is not difficult to imagine the confused look of a teller when you show up with a bundle of cash and instructions on how to apply the cash toward a loan payment.
Of course it would beg the question, where did you get the cash? Did you steal it? Is it unreported income? Did you print it yourself? Or are you just trying to make a point? Point being: A ban on cash has begun.
It has long been argued that cash is a relic. It’s dangerous to carry large amounts; counterfeiting is still a threat; cash enables a myriad of illegal transactions especially when it comes to drugs and gang violence; and, to the extent one can earn cash and bypass tax laws — that hurts everyone. Besides, the digital alternative is so much more convenient and efficient. Scan your wallet over the Starbuck’s payment device or transfer money to your college kid with two clicks of a mouse.
These are the arguments in favor of eliminating cash. As you see, they are compelling. Nonetheless, the dollar bills in your pocket are supposed to be legal tender for all debts public and private. Instead, a shift in sentiment is relegating the role of cash to a tool used by criminals to somehow defraud the system.
How ironic, as it was cash that once replaced gold and silver coins under the auspices that cash was as good as gold, and in fact backed by gold and silver. This is how far we have come in the evolution of money. Ben Bernanke once responded to the question, “is gold money?” with the simple answer of “No.”
The reality is this: There is already so little cash in circulation as compared to the digital transactions taking place at every level of the economy and in the financial system that eliminating cash won’t matter one bit or byte. This will be illustrated further into this report. Nonetheless, it appears we are now near a time when cash won’t be money either. But why?
Indeed some point to practical reasons for its elimination as previously mentioned. Others claim an insidious plot by the banks to control all your money (for many reasons) and cash just gets in the way. Government is interested in making sure all taxes are collected and when it comes to actions that may threaten national security, monitoring the digital footprint of suspicious transactions is a priority. While still others point to an end-times scenario where you cannot buy or sell without using a numbered account. So go ahead, pick your reason and know the end of cash is coming. Now it’s your turn to get educated and see if there’s an opportunity that may change how you invest or protect your assets.
The Global War on Cash Reaches DEFCON 2
The war against cash has gone global. At midnight on November 8, 2016, the government of India announced a ban on 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. Each represents the equivalent of about $6 and $12 respectively. The ban was imposed in an effort to stomp out the cash economy where cash transactions go unreported and untaxed.
Subsequently, there was a run on gold. Reports came in that Indian citizens were willing to pay in excess of $2,000 (USD) for an ounce of gold which was more than a 50 percent premium over the current price.
On November 24, 2016, an International Business Times report stated that U.S. Citibank’s Australian branches were going cashless along with about 900 of Sweden’s 1,600 branches. ATMs are also disappearing from the banking landscape.
And, as reported by ZeroHedge . . .
“France has banned any transaction over €1,000 Euros from using physical cash. Spain has banned transactions over €2,500. Uruguay has banned transactions over $5,000.
Outside of these countries Canada, Norway, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Mexico and other nations are currently either proposing or rolling out programs that will ban cash from certain transactions if not completely.”
In the U.S., the war against cash is perhaps more covert. Yes, domestic banks are restricting the use of cash to make loan payments, prohibiting the storage of cash in certain safety deposit boxes and the withdrawal of cash from bank accounts is becoming more difficult. Just try to give a cashier $100 for a $25 purchase and see how many stores don’t have change.
A first step toward banning cash in America is the proposed elimination of the $100 bill. As I write, a number of economists are calling for exactly this. Former Secretary of Treasury Larry Summers is a prominent voice in the argument to eliminate the $100 bill. Harvard Professor Ken Rogoff is another strong advocate.
The next step took place just days ago as the world’s elites gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the Davos Economic Forum. Here, the cry from elites went out for the elimination of cash in the United States.
Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winning Professor from Columbia University, reportedly made this statement during the forum. “I believe very strongly that countries like the United States could and should move to a digital currency.”
In a CNBC interview from Davos, PayPal CEO, Daniel Schulman, also called for the elimination of cash citing the fact that processing cash to include checks, was costly and wasteful. He said, digital transactions are “cheaper because they are not subject to fees that often come with cashing checks or transferring money in person.”
Are There Other Signs That Cash Is Becoming Endangered?
Now shocking evidence that this process may have already begun has just been uncovered. On September 29, 2016, the Monetary Base, as reported by usdebtclock.org was counting backwards.
The Monetary Base is defined as . . .
“The total amount of currency that is either circulated in the hands of the public or in the commercial bank deposits held in the Central Bank’s reserves.”
On September 29, 2016, the total of these reserves shown to exist were $3.802 trillion dollars. At the same time, the M2 Money Supply, consisting of . . .
M1 (includes physical currency) plus savings deposits, small denomination time deposits, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) and Keogh balances at depository institutions, and balances in retail money market mutual funds
. . . was $13.016 trillion dollars. Now let’s do a little time travel into the future of our money supply. According to the USdebtclock.org, by 2021 the supply of currency is now projected to fall by 8 percent to $3.518 trillion. (This number is still falling now and in the future) Given a projected 8 percent rise in GDP during the same period, a falling supply of cash is contrary to the trend.
Most astonishing however, is the projected 30 percent rise of M2 to $16.777 trillion. The rise of digital money appears to be correlated to the declining supply of currency. This trend will continue as technology dictates cultural shifts that drive digital transactions and eliminate the need for cash.
At the same time real cash disappears and the supply of digital cash grows our national debt increases at a rate of $2.2 billion per week, U.S. total debt (including unfunded liabilities) grows at a rate of more than $16 billion per day, while currency and credit derivatives currently exceed $500 trillion. Who says you need cash to run a growing economy?
In this context, cash is already gone. You can hardly blame cash for the tremendous bubbles that have been blown up in our financial system. In fact you could make the case that digital money has enabled the expansion of the biggest debt bubbles in history.
The minimal amount of cash circulating in our multi-trillion dollar system could be compared to a bag of quarters circulating in Disney World. The vast majority of payments are electronic. What remains are merely tattered remnants of a flourishing society. As these last remnants of cash finally disappear, so too will our protection against wealth destruction.
Alan Greenspan once wrote:
“In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold. If everyone decided, for example, to convert all his bank deposits to silver or copper or any other good, and thereafter declined to accept checks as payment for goods, bank deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-created bank credit would be worthless as a claim on goods. The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves.”
Perhaps no truer words were ever written. Alan Greenspan wrote them in 1966, a time when cash was still backed by gold. Since then, and as a consequence of cash losing its gold backing in 1971, inflation has robbed the dollar of 87 percent of its purchasing power. If this is the consequence of a financial system no longer backed by gold, what now are the consequences of a financial system where there is no cash? Think about it.
Negative Interest Rates – Without cash, there would be no way to protect yourself against negative interest rates where your money diminishes over time because it costs you to keep it in the financial system. Today, it is estimated that near one third of all bonds held globally, pay negative returns. That is to say: it may cost $101 to purchase a bond that matures at $100 face value.
Bail-ins – New laws, written to protect banks against failure, now allow failed banks to confiscate depositor funds to facilitate a bail-in. As the depositor, you basically become the creditor when the balance sheet goes south. Holding cash in hand could insulate one from having to personally bailout your own bank.
The Power to Tax – Today politicians talk about the tax return filed on a post card. However, if there were no cash and all you earn and spend is digitally recorded, the potential exists for the IRS to simply take taxes from an account on an as-needed basis. Does this feel like a slippery slope?
Hackability – Internet banking and digital fund transfers have given birth to a new kind of robber – The Hacker! Certainly the elimination of cash does not ensure the elimination of theft. While technology tries to keep up with the bad guys, they always seem to be one step ahead.
Electronic System Failures – Occasionally, cell phones drop calls, satellite TV goes blank and cable internet stops working. When your wealth is converted to a collection of bits and bytes, how safe is it really? Will your money be accessible when systems are down?
Privacy – As the argument goes, if you have nothing to hide why do you need privacy? Spending habits will create a detailed digital footprint and privacy will be compromised. Does it matter that your whereabouts and your activities are known?
If you are one who has stashed cash in the mattress or behind a loose brick, imagine the pain if it is one day announced that we have a new currency or no currency. Or, what if one day, we learn the world has a new reserve currency. The dollar would plummet in value (it’s already in a decline) and you would be left holding a pile of currency relegated to the role of fireplace kindling. Imagine a mound of 20 dollar bills laying right next to the pile of wood that you could not buy with the cash you now use to start your fire.
Why would you want to store something whose value can disappear or be reduced in a blink of an eye? Why would you ascribe any value to something the government can print, at a whim, by the trillions? And, if you use cash to buy bonds, the returns you get basically scream that your dollar is going to be worth less when this bond matures than it is today.
The Last Defense Against Total Wealth Destruction
Now that we have settled on the inevitability, that the end of cash is approaching, what do we do about it? I say let them do away with cash! Take advantage of the fact that the end of the dollar bill is coming. How? It’s simple! Don’t bet on physical currency.
While the Dollar is High, Diversify Dollars into REAL ASSETS!
Identify assets that can never be worth zero. Warren Buffett owns railroads, Goldman Sachs tried to stockpile aluminum, JPMorgan is stockpiling silver, oil barons are buying up oil rigs, farmland sales are booming, Chinese citizens are stashing gold and billionaires are buying collectible art and tons of physical gold and silver.
If you think the end of the dollar is coming, Don’t Stash Cash! Don’t whine when the banker tells you he doesn’t accept bills anymore. Instead, go with it. Own something real like physical gold or silver, just like smart money is doing all over the world!
Credit to David Engstrom
When Russia warned on Friday that it would retaliate proportionately after it announced it would seize two diplomatic compounds used by the US in Russia and added that it would reduce the number of US diplomatic service staff in the country to equal the number of Russian diplomats in the US by September 1, calculated by the local press at 455, it wasn't joking.
Moments ago, speaking in an interview on the Rossiya 1 TV channel, Vladimir Putin said that 755 American diplomats will be expelled, or as he phrased it "will have to leave Russia as a result of Washington's own policies", a move which as we previewed on Friday will make the diplomatic missions of Russia and the United States of equal staffing.
Speaking late on Sunday, the Russian president said that the time for retaliation has come: "we've been waiting for quite a long time that maybe something would change for the better, we had hopes that the situation would change. But it looks like, it's not going to change in the near future... I decided that it is time for us to show that we will not leave anything unanswered."
Putin added that "the personnel of the US diplomatic missions in Russia will be cut by 755 people and will now equal the number of the Russian diplomatic personnel in the United States, 455 people on each side" Putin said, adding that "because over a thousand employees, diplomats and technical personnel have been working and are still working in Russia, and 755 of them will have to cease their work in the Russian Federation. It’s considerable."
Putin also told the Russian audience that "the American side has made a move which, it is important to note, hasn't been provoked by anything, to worsen Russian-US relations. [It includes] unlawful restrictions, attempts to influence other states of the world, including our allies, who are interested in developing and keeping relations with Russia,"
According to Reuters, Putin also said that Russia is able to impose additional measures against U.S. but he is against such moves (for now).
"We could imagine, theoretically, that one day a moment would come when the damage of attempts to put pressure on Russia will be comparable to the negative consequences of certain limitations of our cooperation. Well, if that moment ever comes, we could discuss other response options. But I hope it will not come to that. As of today, I am against it."
As we reported late last week, following the House's approval of new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, the Russian foreign ministry told Washington to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia, which currently includes more than 1,200 personnel, to 455 people as of September 1.
And now we await the US retaliation in what is once again the same tit-for-tat escalation that marked the latter years of the Obama regime, as the US Military Industrial Complex breathes out a sigh of relief that for all the posturing by Trump, things between Russia and the US are back on autopilot.
Credit to Zero Hedge
Sunday, July 30, 2017
Less than a month after the US flew two B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula to show off "US attack capabilities", the US Air Force did it again on Sunday, when it the flew two supersonic B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula in "a show of force" on Sunday after Pyongyang's Friday test of an ICBM that can reach the continental US. The two B-1Bs flew alongside two Japanese F-2 jet fighters within Japanese airspace before conducting an exercise over South Korea with four South Korean F-15 fighters in response to the latest North Korean missile test, as well as the previous July 4 launch of the "Hwansong-14" rocket, the USAF.
"In a demonstration of ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies, two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, fly a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, into Japanese airspace and over the Korean Peninsula" the statement by Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs said.
"North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability," Pacific Air Forces commander General Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy said in the statement.
"If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing".
The U.S. has in the past used overflights of the supersonic B1-B "Lancer" bomber as a show of force in response to North Korean missile or nuclear tests, most recently on July 8, although the "deterrence" of such drills leaves much to be desired.
North Korea through its state media often complains about flyovers by B-1B bombers, calling them rehearsals for a nuclear strike. On Saturday, the two B-1Bs took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, flying alongside two Japanese jet fighters within Japanese airspace before conducting an exercise over South Korea with four South Korean jet fighters.
As reported on Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally supervised the midnight test launch of the missile on Friday night and said it was a "stern warning" for the United States that it would not be safe from destruction if it tries to attack, the North's official KCNA news agency said adding that "all of the US is now within North Korean ICBM range." North Korea's state television broadcast pictures of the launch, showing the missile lifting off in a fiery blast in darkness and Kim cheering with military aides.
Credit to Zero Hedge
Humanity is steamrolling toward a date with extinction, and yet most people have absolutely no idea that this is happening. Most of us like to think that we are part of the smartest, tallest and fastest generation in human history, but science has actually shown that the exact opposite is true. Compared to our ancient ancestors, we areshorter, slower and we have been losing mental capacity for thousands of years. And just this week, a groundbreaking study that discovered that large numbers of human males in the western world may soon be incapable of reproducing made headlines all over the planet…
Humans could become extinct if sperm counts in men from North America, Europe and Australia continue to fall at current rates, a doctor has warned.Researchers assessing the results of nearly 200 separate studies say sperm counts among men from these areas seem to have halved in less than 40 years.
The 185 studies that the researchers took their data from were all conducted between 1973 and 2011. Dr. Hagai Levine was one of the lead scientists involved in the study, and he found that for men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, sperm concentrations declined by 52.4 percent during the study period, and total sperm count declined by a whopping 59.3 percent.
If these trends continue, we will soon have tens of millions of young men that are incapable of producing children. The following comes from the Washington Post…
The most important data points in the new study involved sperm concentrations for what are known as “unselected” men who haven’t yet proven they are fertile. These are men in the studies who are on the younger side and are not yet fathers or do not have partners who are pregnant. Researchers estimated that these men had an average sperm concentration of 99 million per milliliter in 1973 but that that had dropped to an average 47 million per milliliter in 2011.That is a disturbing number given that, according to World Health Organization criteria, men with a sperm concentration of less than 40 million are considered to have an impaired chance of conceiving and those with a sperm concentration of less than 15 million per milliliter are unlikely to be able to have children.
If that sounds extremely serious to you, that is because it is extremely serious.
According to Dr. Levine, we could potentially be looking at “the extinction of the human species” in the not too distant future…
“If we will not change the ways that we are living and the environment and the chemicals that we are exposed to, I am very worried about what will happen in the future,” he said.“Eventually we may have a problem, and with reproduction in general, and it may be the extinction of the human species.”
So what is causing this alarming drop in sperm levels?
There are certainly lots of factors involved, but one study from a few years ago pointed much of the blame at our heavy use of cellphones…
The new study shows that having a mobile phone close to the testicles – or within a foot or two of the body – can lower sperm levels so much that conceiving could be difficult.The findings have led to a leading British fertility expert to advise men to stop being addicted to mobile phones.Professor Martha Dirnfeld, of the Technion University in Haifa, said: “We analysed the amount of active swimming sperm and the quality and found that it had been reduced.“We think this is being caused by a heating of the sperm from the phone and by electromagnetic activity.”
And of course where do most men carry their phones?
Most of us carry them in our pockets, and that is about the worst possible place that we could carry them.
But even if sperm counts were not dropping so precipitously, humanity would still be facing rapid extinction due to a phenomenon known as “mutational meltdown”. Below is an excerpt from a study that was originally published by Gerald H. McKibben and Everett C. McKibben, and I have shared this previously, but since I am talking about the possibility of human extinction in the not too distant future in this article I wanted to share it again…
Geneticists have long worried about the impact of mutations on the human population, and that at a rate of one deleterious mutation per person per generation, genetic deterioration would result. Earlier reports were based on estimates of mutation rates considerable lower than what we now know to be the case. Findings going back to 2002 show that the human mutation rate is at least 100 mistakes (misspellings) per person per generation. Some scientists believe the rate is closer to 300.Even a rate of 100 has profound implications, and the mutation rate is itself increasing. Furthermore, most, if not all, mutations in the human genome must be deleterious. “And nothing can reverse the damage that has been done during our own generation, even if further mutations could be stopped.” It would appear that the process is an irreversible downward spiral that will end in “mutational meltdown”.
Let me try to break this down very simply so that everyone can understand.
DNA mutations are passed from one generation to another, and each generation has more mutations than the previous generation.
This process appears to be accelerating, and at some undetermined point in the future human DNA will become so corrupt that the human race simply will not be able to continue.
In other words, the human race is wearing out, and the clock is ticking down to the eventual extinction of our race.
So even if we don’t kill ourselves off, which we are certainly more than capable of doing, the truth is that normal processes will eventually wipe all of us out anyway.
I know that this may sound very negative, but if you know the rest of the story it actually isn’t.
Our lives are just like the flowers of the field. They are here today and they are gone tomorrow, but what we do with them will echo for all of eternity.
Credit to Economic Collapse
Credit to Zero Hedge
Saturday, July 29, 2017
Friday, July 28, 2017
Total Government And Personal Debt In The U.S. Has Hit 41 Trillion Dollars ($329,961.34 Per Household)
We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world. In 1980, total government and personal debt in the United States was just over the 3 trillion dollar mark, but today it has surpassed 41 trillion dollars. That means that it has increased by almost 14 times since Ronald Reagan was first elected president. I am searching for words to describe how completely and utterly insane this is, but I am coming up empty. We are slowly but surely committing national suicide, and yet most Americans don’t even understand what is happening.
According to 720 Global, total government debt plus total personal debt in the United States was just over 3 trillion dollars in 1980. That broke down to $38,552 per household, and that figure represented 79 percent of median household income at the time.
Today, total government debt plus total personal debt in the United States has blown past the 41 trillion dollar mark. When you break that down, it comes to $329,961.34 per household, and that figure represents 584 percent of median household income.
If anyone can make a good argument that we are not in very serious debt trouble, I would love to hear it.
And remember, the figures above don’t even include corporate debt. They only include government debt on the federal, state and local levels, and all forms of personal debt.
So do you have $329,961.34 ready to pay your share of the debt that we have accumulated?
Nobody that I know could write that kind of a check. The truth is that as a nation we are flat broke. The only way that the game can keep going is for all of us to borrow increasingly larger sums of money, but of course that is not sustainable by any definition.
Eventually we are going to slam into a wall and the game will be over.
One of my pet peeves is the national debt. Our politicians spend money in some of the most ridiculous ways imaginable, and yet no matter how much we complain about it nothing ever seems to change.
For example, the U.S. military actually spends 42 million dollars a year on Viagra.
Yes, you read that correctly.
42 million of your tax dollars are being spent on Viagra every year.
And overall spending on “erectile dysfunction medicines” each year comes to a grand total of 84 million dollars…
According to data from the Defense Health Agency, DoD actually spent $41.6 million on Viagra — and $84.24 million total on erectile dysfunction prescriptions — last year.And since 2011, the tab for drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra totals $294 million — the equivalent of nearly four U.S. Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
Is this really where our spending on “national defense” should be going? We are nearly 20 trillion dollars in debt, and yet we continue to spend money like there is no tomorrow. For much more on the exploding size of our national debt and the very serious implications that this has for our future, please see my previous article entitled “Would You Like To Steal 128 Million Dollars?”
I didn’t think that our debt bubble could ever possibly get this big, but I didn’t think that our stock market bubble could ever possibly get quite get this large either. For a few moments, I would like for you to consider a list of facts about this stock market bubble that was recently published by Zero Hedge…
- The S&P 500 Cyclically Adjusted Price to Earnings (CAPE) valuation has only been greater on one occasion, the late 1990s. It is currently on par with levels preceding the Great Depression.
- CAPE valuation, when adjusted for the prevailing economic growth trend, is more overvalued than during the late 1920’s and the late 1990’s. (LINK)
- S&P 500 Price to Sales Ratio is at an all-time high
- Total domestic corporate profits (w/o IVA/CCAdj) have grown at an annualized rate of .097% over the last five years. Prior to this period and since 2000, five year annualized profit growth was 7.95%. (note- period included two recessions) (LINK)
- Over the last ten years, S&P 500 corporations have returned more money to shareholders via share buybacks and dividends than they have earned.
- The top 200 S&P 500 companies have pension shortfalls totaling $382 billion and corporations like GE spent more on share buybacks ($45b) than the size of their entire pension shortfall ($31b) which ranks as the largest in the S&P 500. (LINK)
- Using data back to 1987, the yield to maturity on high-yield (non-investment grade) debt is in the 3rd percentile. Per Prudential as cited in the Wall Street Journal, yields on high-yield debt, adjusted for defaults, are now lower than those of investment grade bonds. Currently, the yield on the Barclays High Yield Index is below the expected default rate.
- Implied equity and U.S. Treasury volatility has been trading at the lowest levels in over 30 years, highlighting historic investor complacency. (LINK)
Our financial markets are far more primed for a crash than they were in 2008.
The only times in our entire history that are even comparable are the late 1920s just before the infamous crash of 1929 and the late 1990s just before the dotcom bubble burst.
A whole lot of people out there seem to be entirely convinced that things will somehow be different this time. They seem to believe that the laws of economics no longer apply and that we will never pay a significant price for decades of exceedingly foolish decisions.
Overall, the world is now 217 trillion dollars in debt. Earlier this year, Bill Gross raised eyebrows when he said that “our highly levered financial system is like a truckload of nitro glycerin on a bumpy road”, and I very much agree with him.
There is no way that this is going to end well. Yes, central bank manipulation may be enough to keep the party going for a little while longer, but eventually the whole thing is going to come crashing down in a disaster of unprecedented magnitude.
Credit to Economic Collapse