The Mother of All Financial Bubbles: A Burst of Unimaginable Destruction

Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Chris Martenson with PeakProsperity.com.

At PeakProsperity.com, we pride ourselves on providing fact-based context to breaking important events.

Within 72 hours of the Japan tsunami in 2011, we had analyzed the situation and concluded with high probability that three core meltdowns had occurred at the Fukushima nuclear plant. While it took years for officials to finally admit to the full extent of the crisis, history has validated our initial analysis.

How did we get it right? By using a science-based approach grounded in observation, deduction and a healthy skepticism of what the "experts" in charge claimed. We also went to great lengths to educate our readers about the science in play, explaining in detail how radioactivity and contamination differ, the health risks from such a nuclear accident, and what concerned folks could do to remain as safe as possible.

When California's authorities suddenly reversed course and scrambled to evacuate nearly 200,000 residents living downstream of the Oroville dam, within an hour, we had released an analysis of the situation, explaining the critical differences among the primary spillway, the main dam, and the auxiliary spillway.

Where mainstream media outlets were consumed by covering the Grammy’s, we were able to tweet and blog relevant details to the worried people hungry for information about the dam's integrity, keeping them both grounded and informed:

By 10:00pm that same Sunday night of February 12th, we had shared a series of updates with schematics, images and conclusions that was more complete, accurate and hysteria-free than any other news source we could find at the time.

By the next morning, we had located and interviewed one of America's top dam experts, who provided an absolutely spectacular assessment of the situation at Oroville. That podcast has been listened to by nearly 50,000 people at this point, including residents of Oroville who have used its insights to determine whether or not to return home at this time.

And on top of all this, our own community began filling in the blanks with their expertise. One community member, an emergency worker deployed to the dam earlier this week, has been providing us with valuable insider information that state officials have resisted making public.

The reason I'm relating all of this now is because of the instructive lessons involved. It’s worth noting that communications from officials in Oroville transitioned from a steady, repeated stream of “Everything is fine. There's nothing to worry about” to suddenly “Run for your lives!” within an hour.

Of course, the 188,000 people living downstream from the dam were caught off guard by the mandatory evacuation order. Many left with none of their possessions, only to get hopelessly caught on clogged roads. It was a time of panic and disorder, with no one seemingly in control.

The main lesson from Oroville -- or Fukushima, or Katrina -- is that governments do a poor job of relating accurate information to their citizens when big threats are involved. Part of that is likely due to a desire to avoid stoking fear. Part probably due to politics and bureaucracy. And part probably due to plain old incompetence.

Regardless of the cause, it means that the public -- even the vigilant ones -- suffer information deficits when it matters most. Simply put, the authorities do not share all the facts necessary for making informed decisions.

Which is why our longstanding advice has been a straightforward call to 'trust yourself' when assessing crisis risk. In most cases, good old-fashioned common sense and a little sleuthing will get you far closer to the truth, and faster, than 99% of your peers who are relying on being told what’s happening by those in charge.

In most cases, the information you need to assess the truth will be right there, hiding in plain sight but always obvious in retrospect. This means it’s also available to you in real-time, providing you're willing to trust your own eyes and you know where to look.

Which brings us to one of the truly great risks we're facing today. One with much more destructive potential than a single failed dam but, like Oroville, one the authorities are desperate to keep us in the dark about.

The Mother Of All Financial Bubbles

We are now living through the mother of all financial bubbles. We've been living with it so long now that we have to take three giant steps backwards to even detect its broad outlines.

As a reminder, a bubble exists when asset prices rise beyond what incomes can sustain. Florida swampland in the 1920’s, tech stocks in the late 1990s, or Toronto real estate today -- all are fine examples of this.

The US government and the private banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve, in cahoots with a very compliant and complicit mainstream media, are doing everything in their vast and considerable power to convince us that we are living in an golden era of risk-free prosperity. And that tomorrow will be even better.

Now, regular readers of PeakProsperity.com's reports will know there's a mountain of evidence contracting this. But it's critical to understand that this is the same public perception management style as we've recently seen at Oroville: Deny, deny, deny... and then finally admit the obvious.

So let’s take those three giant steps backwards and see if we can spot the flaw in the ‘everything is awesome!’ meme that the Fed et al are trying to paint for everyone by flooding the “markets” with so much thin-air liquidity (between $150-$200 billion a month) that nobody has any clue what anything is truly worth anymore.

Giant Step Backwards #1: Infinite growth is impossible.

This is such an easy concept that I'm continually surprised at how poorly appreciated it is and how much resistance it receives when raised. But it works like this: the earth is a sphere and therefore has a defined surface area and a defined amount of resources available for use.

The availability of these resources ranges across a spectrum from dense/concentrated on one end to dilute/useless at the other. Humans have already extracted and consumed most of the easily obtainable stuff. Now it gets harder.

Regardless of the economics of these resources, they are finite. And as our economic requires resources to function, if we want our economy to grow from here, that means consuming more resources at a faster rate then we have been. If resources are finite, then growth will one day prove finite, too.

This should be utterly, blindingly obvious to everyone. But it’s not, apparently. The Federal Reserve and the central banks in other nations are unified in their call for more economic growth, always and forever. That’s plan A. There is no plan B.

Giant step backwards #2: You can’t print your way to prosperity.

History is replete with the failed attempts of nations to print their way to prosperity. The pursuit operates on the same principle as alchemy: trying to get something for nothing. It has invariably and always ended the same way. In tears.

At first it, issuing more currency feels good because those closest to the money printing get stinking rich while doing practically nothing. As that trickles down, everybody initially feel smart and wealthier. Well, not everybody; but those running the system sure do.

After a while, though, all that feel-good activity is revealed as a fraud. It turns out prosperity wasn't printed, instead it was redistributed. From one party’s pocket into another. And in most cases, from poorer pockets into those of the already-privileged.

The same is happening today with the "thin air" money printing being conducted by the world's central banks. We are now living with one of the most extreme wealth gaps in US history, with the top 1% (really, the top 0.1%) owning a greater percentage of the nation's wealth than they ever have.

But it's even more nefarious than that, because the Fed is not simply stealing from today's public; it is also stealing the prosperity of future generations. When the party being stolen from hasn't been born yet, it can't fight back.

In short, you cannot print your way to prosperity. Yet somehow we've forgotten that. And we're dooming ourselves (and our children and grandchildren) to becoming serfs in the process.

Giant step backwards #3: You can’t grow your debts faster than your income forever.

This, too, should be completely obvious. You know perfectly well it holds true for your personal life or your business, if you have one. And it’s equally true for a nation, which is simply an aggregation of individuals and businesses. But somehow this simple truth has been either forgotten or deliberately ignored by today's economists and politicians.

Our grand experiment in debt-based fiat currency -- unbacked by anything tangible, like gold -- began on August 15th, 1971 when Nixon unilaterally broke the Bretton Woods agreement and forced the entire world off of the gold standard. Not that the world minded much, because this then meant that politicians and monetary hacks everywhere could ignore centuries of economic lessons and begin making exorbitant promises by printing currency like mad.

The giant step towards monetary (and debt) expansion this represented is clear to anybody who can read a chart.

Here’s the total credit market debt in the US. It has exploded higher at a near-perfect exponential rate since that fateful day in 1971:

But what we really need to do is compare debt to income. Remember, you're not supposed to grow the former at faster rate than the latter. So let’s add (nominal) GDP to our chart and see what comes up:

As you can see, those lines began diverging a long time ago (aha! Right around 1971. Imagine that.). They've been diverging at an increasing pace for pretty much the entire adult lives of everybody in power. At this point, our leaders just assume “This is how the world works.”

“Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter”

~ Vice President Dick Cheney

The little wiggle in the exponential curve there, during 2008-2009, was the wiggle that almost destroyed the world. Our entire system of credit and money came very close to full-scale collapse, simply because it didn't grow for a few brief years. Makes you shudder to think what would have happened had it acutally contracted...

But back to the main point. If we compare the beginning of this wanton debt-binge in 1970 with the state of things today:

We see that debt has shot up by a factor of 40 while income has only increased by a factor of 17. We have indeed grown our debts wildly faster than our income over the past 45 years

And, it should be noted, a lot of that GDP ‘growth’ is the byproduct of borrowing and spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need. Said differently: the debts will remain during any serious future economic downturn but the GDP that is fraudulently based on excessive rates of borrowing will vaporize as if it never existed in the first place.

That, my friends, right there is the very definition of unsustainable.

If something cannot go on, it won’t.

But the Federal Reserve, under the leadership of a pure academic like Janet Yellen, cannot conceive of any approach other than perpetuation the same system that has been in place while she's built her career.

Conclusion

The Fed is desperately seeking to keep the status quo in place, praying that somehow things turn out OK, and clearly scared to death behind the scenes. But, just like the officials at Oroville, when the cameras are on her, Yellen smiles and tells us that all is well.

The Fed has printed as much money as it has dared for the time being. It has since handed the baton over the ECB, and the Bank of Japan, who have stepped in to keep the wheels of the world's debt production well-greased.

Around and around the baton gets passed. And we're told by our government and media that this is all in our best interests. However, the only thing these central banks are truly doing is stealing from savers and the elderly today, and pretty much everyone tomorrow.

What have they done with the trillions in "thin air" currency they have printed up? They handed them to the big banks, to speculators and the already wealthy. Which should come as little surprise. These are the people they count on for their high-status jobs, as well as the big payouts awaiting them when they return to the private sector.

In the meantime, they’ve blown the Mother Of All Financial Bubbles.

This is primarily a bubble in debt (i.e., the bond market). But in its making, new bubbles in real estate, stocks and a whole slew of other asset classes were created.

When these bubbles burst, and they must, it will be a massively destructive event. There will literally be nowhere to hide from the repercussions.

You simply cannot count on anyone in power giving you anything like timely warning or useful advice in advance. You need to find accurate, trustworthy indicators on your own, and then decide how you're going to position yourself, your loved ones, and your wealth accordingly.

In Part 2: How Bad Will It Get? we detail the tremendous scale of the losses that will result when this Mother Of All Financial Bubbles bursts. It will be a traumatizing time for society, and many, many people will see their wealth vaporize.

The key objective at this time is to position yourself for physical and financial safety. For those who do will be in a position to prosper greatly, as well as offer much-needed support to others, when the coming reset arrives.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar brings white fan onstage to sing with him, but here’s the catch

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for American Express

Rapper Kendrick Lamar asked a fan to come onstage and sing with him, only to condemn her when she failed to censor all of the song's frequent mentions of the “n-word" while singing along.

RELATED: You'll Never Guess Who Wrote the Racist Message Targeting Black Air Force Cadets

“I am so sorry," she apologized when Lamar pointed out that she needed to “bleep" that word. “I'm used to singing it like you wrote it." She was booed at by the crowd of people, many screaming “f*** you" after her mistake.

On Tuesday's show, Pat and Jeffy watched the clip and talked about some of the Twitter reactions.

“This is ridiculous," Pat said. “The situation with this word has become so ludicrous."

What happened?

MSNBC's Katy Tur didn't bother to hide her pro-gun control bias in an interview with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the wake of the Santa Fe High School killings.

RELATED: Media Are Pushing Inflated '18 School Shootings' Statistic. Here Are the Facts.

What did she ask?

As Pat pointed out while sitting in for Glenn on today's show, Tur tried to “badger" Paxton into vowing that he would push for a magical fix that will make schools “100 percent safe." She found it “just wild" that the Texas attorney general couldn't promise that schools will ever be completely, totally safe.

“Can you promise kids in Texas today that they're safe to go to school?" Tur pressured Paxton.

“I don't think there's any way to say that we're ever 100 percent safe," the attorney general responded.

What solutions did the AG offer?

“We've got a long way to go," Paxton said. He listed potential solutions to improve school safety, including installing security officers and training administrators and teachers to carry a gun.

Pat's take:

“Unbelievable," Pat said on today's show. “Nobody can promise [100 percent safety]."

Every president from George Washington to Donald Trump has issued at least one executive order (with the exception of William Harrison who died just 31 days into his presidency) and yet the U.S. Constitution doesn't even mention executive orders. So how did the use of this legislative loophole become such an accepted part of the job? Well, we can thank Franklin Roosevelt for that.

Back at the chalkboard, Glenn Beck broke down the progression of the executive order over the years and discussed which US Presidents have been the “worst offenders."

RELATED: POWER GRAB: Here's how US presidents use 'moments of crisis' to override Constitutional law

“It's hard to judge our worst presidential overreachers on sheer numbers alone," said Glenn. “However, it's not a shock that FDR issued by far the most of any president."

Our first 15 presidents issued a combined total of 143. By comparison, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued 3721, more than twice the next runner up, Woodrow Wilson, at 1803.

“Next to FDR, no other president in our history attempted to reshape so much of American life by decree, until we get to this guy: President Obama," Glenn explained. “He didn't issue 3000, or even 1800; he did 276 executive orders, but it was the power of those orders. He instituted 560 major regulations classified by the Congressional Budget Office as having 'significant economic or social impacts.' That's 50 percent more regulations than George W. Bush's presidency — and remember, everybody thought he was a fascist."

President Obama blamed an obstructionist Congress for forcing him to bypass the legislative process. By executive order, President Obama decreed the U.S. join the Paris Climate Accord, DACA, the Clean Power Plan and transgender restrooms. He also authorized spying in US citizens through section 702 of FISA, used the IRS to target political opponents and ordered military action in Libya without Congressional permission.

All of these changes were accepted by the very people who now condemn President Trump for his use of executive orders — many of which were issued to annul President Obama's executive orders, just as President Obama annulled President Bush's executive orders when he took office … and therein lies the rub with executive orders.

“That's not the way it's supposed to work, nor would we ever want it to be," said Glenn. “We have to have the Constitution and laws need to originate in Congress."

Watch the video above to find out more.

Six months ago, I alerted readers to the very attractive benefits that the TreasuryDirect program offers to investors who are defensively sitting on cash right now.

Since then, those benefits have continued to improve. Substantially.

Back in November, by holding extremely conservative short-term (i.e., 6-months or less) Treasury bills, TreasuryDirect participants were receiving over 16x more in interest payments vs keeping their cash in a standard bank savings account.

Today, they're now receiving over 30 times more. Without having to worry about the risk of a bank "bail-in" or failure.

So if you're holding cash right now and NOT participating in the TreasuryDirect program, do yourself a favor and read on. If you're going to pass on this opportunity, at least make it an 'eyes-wide-open' decision.

Holding Cash (In Treasurys) Now Beats The Market

There are many prudent reasons to hold cash in today's dangerously overvalued financial markets, as we've frequently touted here at PeakProsperity.com.

Well, there's now one more good reason to add to the list: holding cash in short-term Treasurys is now meeting/beating the dividend returns offered by the stock market:

"Cash Is King" Again - 3-Month Bills Yield More Than Stocks (Zero Hedge)
'Reaching for yield' just got a lot easier...
For the first time since February 2008, three-month Treasury bills now have a yield advantage over the S&P; 500 dividend yield (and dramatically lower risk).
Investors can earn a guaranteed 1.90% by holding the 3-month bills or a risky 1.89% holding the S&P; 500...

The longest period of financial repression in history is coming to an end...

And it would appear TINA is dead as there is now an alternative.

And when you look at the total return (dividends + appreciation) of the market since the start of 2018, stocks have returned only marginally better than 3-month Treasurys. Plus, those scant few extra S&P; points have come with a LOT more risk.

Why take it under such dangerously overvalued conditions?

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

In my June report Less Than Zero: How The Fed Killed Saving, I explained how the Federal Reserve's policy of holding interest rates at record lows has decimated savers. Those who simply want to park money somewhere "safe" can't do so without losing money in real terms.

To drive this point home: back in November, the average interest rate being offered in a US bank savings account was an insutling 0.06%. Six months later, nothing has changed:

(Source

That's virtually the same as getting paid 0%. But it's actually worse than that, because once you take inflation into account, the real return on your savings is markedly negative.

And to really get your blood boiling, note that the Federal Reserve has rasied the federal funds rate it pays banks from 1.16% in November to 1.69% in April. Banks are now making nearly 50% more money on the excess reserves they park at the Fed -- but are they passing any of that free profit along to their depositors? No....

This is why knowing about the TreasuryDirect program is so important. It's a way for individual investors savvy enough to understand the game being played to bend some of its rules to their favor and limit the damage they suffer.

Below is an updated version (using today's rates) of my recap of TreasuryDirect, which enables you to get over 30x more interest on your cash savings than your bank will pay you, with lower risk.

TreasuryDirect

For those not already familiar with it, TreasuryDirect is a service offered by the United States Department of the Treasury that allows individual investors to purchase Treasury securities such as T-Bills, notes and bonds directly from the U.S. government.

You purchase these Treasury securities by linking a TreasuryDirect account to your personal bank account. Once linked, you use your cash savings to purchase T-bills, etc from the US Treasury. When the Treasury securities you've purchased mature or are sold, the proceeds are deposited back into your bank account.

So why buy Treasuries rather than keep your cash savings in a bank? Two main reasons:

  • Much higher return: T-Bills are currently offering an annualized return rate between 1.66-2.04%. Notes and bonds, depending on their duration, are currently offering between 2.6% - 3.1%
  • Extremely low risk: Your bank can change the interest rate on your savings account at any time -- with Treasury bills, your rate of return is locked in at purchase. Funds in a bank are subject to risks such as a bank bail-in or the insolvency of the FDIC depositor protection program -- while at TreasuryDirect, your funds are being held with the US Treasury, the institution with the lowest default risk in the country for reasons I'll explain more in a moment.

Let's look at a quick example. If you parked $100,000 in the average bank savings account for a full year, you would earn $60 in interest. Let's compare this to the current lowest-yielding TreasuryDirect option: continuously rolling that same $100,000 into 4-week T-Bills for a year:

  1. Day 1: Funds are transferred from your bank account to TreasuryDirect to purchase $100,000 face value of 4-week T-Bills at auction yielding 1.68%
  2. Day 28: the T-Bills mature and the Treasury holds the full $100,000 proceeds in your TreasuryDirect account. Since you've set up the auto-reinvestment option, TreasuryDirect then purchases another $100,000 face value of 4-week T-Bills at the next auction.
  3. Days 29-364: the process repeats every 4 weeks
  4. Day 365: assuming the average yield for T-Bills remained at 1.68%, you will have received $1,680 in interest in total throughout the year from the US Treasury.

$1,680 vs $60. That's a 27x difference in return.

And the comparison only improves if you decide to purchase longer duration (13-week or 26-week) bills instead of the 4-week ones:

Repeating the above example for a year using 13-week bills would yield $1,925. Using 26-week bills would yield $2,085. A lot better (34x better!) than $60.

Opportunity Cost & Default Risk

So what are the downsides to using TreasuryDirect? There aren't many.

The biggest one is opportunity cost. While your money is being held in a T-Bill, it's tied up at the US Treasury. If you suddenly need access to those funds, you have to wait until the bill matures.

But T-Bill durations are short. 4 weeks is not a lot of time to have to wait. (If you think the probability is high you may to need to pull money out of savings sooner than that, you shouldn't be considering the TreasuryDirect program.)

Other than that, TreasuryDirect offers an appealing reduction in risk.

If your bank suddenly closes due to a failure, any funds invested in TreasuryDirect are not in your bank account, so are not subject to being confiscated in a bail-in.

Instead, your money is held as a T-Bill, note or bond, which is essentially an obligation of the US Treasury to pay you in full for the face amount. The US Treasury is the single last entity in the country (and quite possibly, the world) that will ever default on its obligations. Why? Because Treasurys are the mechanism by which money is created in the US. Chapter 8 from The Crash Course explains:

As a result, to preserve its ability to print the money it needs to function, the US government will bring its full force and backing to bear in order to ensure confidence in the market for Treasurys.

Meaning: the US government won't squelch on paying you back the money you lent it. If required, it will just print the money it needs to repay you.

So, How To Get Started?

Usage of TreasuryDirect is quite low among investors today. Many are unaware of the program. Others simply haven't tried it out.

And let's be real: it's crazy that we live in a world where a 1.68-2.09% return now qualifies as an exceptionally high yield on savings. A lot of folks just can't get motivated to take action by rates that low. But that doesn't mean that they shouldn't -- money left on the table is money forfeited.

So, if you're interested in learning more about the TreasuryDirect program, start by visiting their website. Like everything operated by the government, it's pretty 'no frills'; but their FAQ page addresses investors' most common questions.

Before you decide whether or not to fund an account there, be sure to discuss the decision with your professional financial advisor to make sure it fits well with your personal financial situation and goals. (If you're having difficulty finding a good one, consider scheduling a free discussion with PeakProsperity.com's endorsed financial advisor -- who has considerable experience managing TreasuryDirect purchases for many of its clients).

In Part 2: A Primer On How To Use TreasuryDirect, we lay out the step-by-step process for opening, funding and transacting within a TreasuryDirect account. We've created it to be a helpful resource for those self-directed individuals potentially interested in increasing their return on their cash savings in this manner.

Yes, we savers are getting completely abused by our government's policies. So there's some poetic justice in using the government's own financing instruments to slightly lessen the sting of the whip.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

NOTE: PeakProsperity.com does not have any business relationship with the TreasuryDirect program. Nor is anything in the article above to be taken as an offer of personal financial advice. As mentioned, discuss any decision to participate in TreasuryDirect with your professional financial advisor before taking action.