Op-Ed: U.S. Financial Future – Slowdown, Shutdown, and Shakedown!

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US Economy

The various bubbles – housing, stock market, banking, etc., will go pop, pop, pop, and pop! I have been part of the doom and gloom crowd concerning the economy for many years, but there is no way I could have seen what has happened. I never envisioned an invisible bug – the Chinese coronavirus – that would add a new dimension to the economy resulting in a slowdown, a shutdown, and a shakedown followed by a showdown at the ballot box.

The November election will be the showdown when Kool-Aid drinking Trump-haters will go to any length to thwart the will of Americans who want a return to a stable, safe, and secure nation. Wiping the purple Kool-Aid from their quivering lips, they will lie, distort, purchase votes, steal votes, and stuff ballot boxes and other nefarious acts to defeat Trump.

Now we face another shutdown that will destroy millions of small businesses and some large businesses. Business bankruptcies are in the stratosphere, and small, and large companies are closing daily.

Low-life protesters, mixed with naïve do-gooders, are not only protesting but also demanding resistance, reparations, and revolution as they throw Molotov cocktails and swing unregistered bats. The evil leaders behind these protests are not concerned with the alleged mistreatment of Blacks. The illusion of concern is only cover for the real goal—to keep Trump from reelection and to do so if it means destroying America.

My warning over six years ago appears to be coming to fruition. Get ready for the worst economic times in U.S. history. The bells have been going off for months especially since the start of the shutdown: massive unemployment; paying people not to work; student loan forgiveness; national debt now past $25 trillion; major push for reparations amounting to $6 quadrillions; promises of universal income even for non-workers; a second stimulus package in days; demands for pension bailouts; even Minneapolis asked for the feds to repair the damage done to their city that local officials refused to condemn and deal with; etc.

I wrote the following column in 2014 that is very appropriate today. One word was corrected, links were added, and minor punctuation was changed. 

Only a fool would publicly predict what will happen in the near future regarding the U.S. economy; however, I suggest that we will have a slowdown, shutdown, or shakedown–maybe all three. We are already in the slowdown; however, I think it is also probable that the other two disasters are in store for all of us. The “storm” is far from over.

One portentous indication of trouble just surfaced on January 3 when it was revealed in a headline: “Billionaires Dumping Stocks.” The article on the Newsmax website reported that Warren Buffet is “dumping shares at an alarming rate.” He sold 19 million (no misprint) shares of Johnson & Johnson, and he is very disappointed in Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, and others.

Billionaire John Paulson also dumped 14 million shares of JPMorgan Chase and all of his shares in Family Dollar and Sara Lee.

Then there’s billionaire George Soros, the radical leftist that conservatives love to hate, who sold almost all his shares of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs. Obviously, George doesn’t have any confidence in financial stocks. Hmmm, wonder what he and his fellow billionaires know that we don’t know?

Maybe these wealthy elite know that a massive correction is coming on Wall Street. Highly revered economist Robert Wiedemer, the author of the best-seller Aftershock, says that the stock market could fall 90%! Wiedemer predicted the collapse of the housing market in an earlier book.

Standard and Poor’s suggested that Wiedemer’s prediction “demands our attention,” while Philip Gross, founding CFO of American Online, said the book was “A compelling argument for a chilling conclusion.”

CNN reported that about half of Americans agree with the doomsday predictions: “48% [of Americans] see a second Great Depression.” I think it will be called “the Greatest Depression.”

We must remember that our government is $17 trillion [now more than $24 trillion] in debt, almost $150,000 per taxpayer! But then we must take our pencil from behind our ear and add Social Security obligations, Medicare, etc., totaling more than $100 trillion!

The average American needs to look at the facts, analyze his financial condition, and make some difficult decisions. Does he believe Obama who said, “The private sector is doing fine,” or does he consider that statement like Obama’s assurance that “You can keep your doctor, period.”? Or maybe he believes the Washington Post that assured us with a headline: “No Housing Bubble to Pop” or the Washington Times’ headline, “No Housing Trouble,” or the conservative National Review’s article, “Hate to Burst Your (Housing) Bubble, But There Isn’t One.” Or the revered Wall Street Journal: “Housing Bubble? The Market Won’t Pop.”

Pop, pop, pop, pop. They were all wrong! 

Or the average American could believe the financial wizards on the television shows who never said a word about the imminent massive collapse of Enron in December of 2001. The financial experts were telling us to buy right up to the collapse! And they never apologized!

Everyone knows that those experts and many others were wrong about the housing bubble as they have been wrong about many things.

So, when the stock market hits bottom, 50% of Americans are out of work, bankruptcies soar skyward, and cities and states go belly-up as is happening as I write, you will know the nation is on the cusp of a shutdown mode. Does that mean riots in the streets accompanied by martial law? Wiedemer thinks not, since “that did not happen in the Great Depression.”

However, the astute economist may know finances, but he apparently doesn’t know human nature: this disaster will be far worse than the 1930s, and Americans today don’t have the character those citizens had. Plan on it: panic, suicides, hunger, food riots, gang violence, etc. A recent British study declared that we were “nine meals from anarchy!”

I don’t feel lonely anymore way out on the limb!

How do the optimists in their rosy glasses defend their positive view in light of our massive debt? Today, the U.S. has more government debt than any country in the history of the world! In fact, we have more national debt than all the nations in the European Union put together!

So, what is the Fed’s answer? Well, the Federal Reserve has been printing $85 billion per month; that’s more than a trillion dollars a year! That means the dollars in your pocket are worthless, or is that worthless?

Presently, when a nation wants to purchase a product from us or any other country, they usually make payments in U.S. dollars. They could choose the British pound sterling, the Chinese yuan, or the euro; however, only a few nations bypass the dollar. That is going to end. We have begun to see the “flight from the dollar.” China, Russia, and the United Nations, as well as some Muslim nations, are already on record that they want to back off the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

Why is the U.S. dollar so special and is used by almost 70% of nations as the reserve currency? It is because the market for U.S. Treasury securities is “liquid and deep.” “Liquid” means the dollar can be sold quickly, and “deep” means a large amount of dollars can be sold without impacting the price of the currency.

When I have traveled in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, etc., I never changed dollars into the currency where I was traveling. I always used U.S. dollars, but those days have changed. It is now common for the dollar to be refused, as I experienced in Africa and Japan.

Sam Zell, the 60th richest man in the U.S., told CNBC: “My single biggest financial concern is the loss of the dollar as the reserve currency. I can’t imagine anything more disastrous to our country … I think you could see a 25% reduction in the standard of living in this country if the U.S. dollar was no longer the world’s reserve currency.”

James Richards wrote in his Currency Wars, “If the currency collapses, everything also goes with it…stocks, bonds, commodities, derivatives, and other investments are all priced in a nation’s currency. If you destroy the currency, you destroy all markets and the nation.”

In light of the above facts, it seems we are in the slowdown, and the shutdown or collapse is staring us in the face. So, how will the politicians extricate the U.S. from the bottomless pit—dug by the same politicians?

Enter the shakedown phase.

The London Telegraph of January 4, 2014, reported, “Much of the Western world will require defaults, a savings tax and higher inflation to clear the way for recovery as debt levels reach a 200-year high, according to a new report by the International Monetary Fund.”

Author Ambrose Evans-Pritchard opined that the debts of many nations are so huge that it “will require a wave of haircuts, either negotiated 1930s-style write-offs or the standard mix of measures used by the IMF in its ‘toolkit’ for emerging market blow-ups.” He says that what debtor nations must and will do is use huge taxes, massive inflation, and debt repudiation to stay afloat. He says we will all get a close-cut financial “haircut.”

I think he means a scalping, not a haircut.

That amounts to a shakedown. There will be no other choice. Weary, worn, wrathful citizens will be forced to pay for the failure and corruption of generations of pompous, prissy, profligate politicians.

Slowdown, shutdown, or shakedown? All three are in your future, ending with a showdown! I’m afraid that the sky is falling after all. 

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