|January 23, 2013
By Jim Quinn
After digesting the opinions of the shills, shysters and scam artists, I am ready to predict that I have no clue what will happen during 2013. The weekend weather last week was a perfect analogy for attempting to forecast the future. The professional highly educated meteorologists predicted sunny warm weather, just as the PhD Wall Street paid economist mouthpieces assure the multitudes 2013 will be the year when zero interest rates and $1.2 trillion deficits will finally lead to sunny economic skies. Instead, the weekend was overcast and damp. As I was writing this article and watching the miraculous Baltimore Ravens comeback against Denver, I received a two minute warning from my wife. I had to pick up my son and his buddies at the Montgomery Mall. As I pulled the car out of the garage, I backed out into fog that was thicker than pea soup. I’ve driven the roads to the Montgomery Mall hundreds of times, but the fog was so thick I couldn’t see ten feet ahead. I drove hesitantly, wondering what might be just over the horizon or what might dart out from a side street. I see 2013 as a year of maneuvering through thick fog with startling apparitions lurking to surprise us and force a deviation in our normal course. As I proceeded cautiously through the murky mist there were few cars on the roads and the strip centers and fast food joints resembled haunted houses and grave yards. I expected to see Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and Wolfman panhandling on the corners.
The fog of uncertainty is engulfing the nation, making consumers hesitant to spend and businesses reluctant to hire or invest. It was like being in a commercial real estate horror film, with SPACE AVAILABLE, NOW LEASING, and STORE CLOSING signs startling me everywhere I turned. The trip took a spooky turn as I passed branches of those zombie banks – Bank of America and Citigroup. They don’t even know they’re already dead. I finally arrived at the Mall passing thousands of empty parking spaces with a few cars huddled close to the zombie starring in Night of the Retailing Dead – Sears. In the miasma, the few visitors appeared to be automaton like consumers programmed to shuffle through the mall and buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have. To say the road ahead for this country in 2013 is foggy would be an epic understatement. Let’s hope it doesn’t have a Nightmare on Elm Street like ending.
Virtually all of the mainstream media, Wall Street banks and paid shill economists are in agreement that 2013 will see improvement in employment, housing, retail spending and, of course the only thing that matters to the ruling class, the stock market. Even among the alternative media, there seems to be a consensus that we will continue to muddle through and the day of reckoning is still a few years off. Those who are predicting improvements are either ignorant of history or are being paid to predict improvement, despite the overwhelming evidence of a worsening economic climate. The mainstream media pundits, fulfilling their assigned task of purveying feel good propaganda, use the 10% stock market gain in 2012 as proof of economic recovery. The facts prove otherwise:
The reason Bernanke, Geithner, Obama, Wall Street, corporate titans, and media pundits focus their attention on the stock market is because they are looking out for their fellow 1%ers. The working middle class, once the backbone of this country, own virtually no stocks. The 88% stock market increase since March 2009 hasn’t benefitted the middle class one iota. The Federal Reserve engineered stock market recovery has benefitted moneyed bankers and wealthy corporate executives, the very people who collapsed the worldwide financial system and received the bailouts when they should have gone to jail.
Those who continue to tout a non-existent economic recovery have focused on the manufactured stock market and housing recovery, extrapolating those trends without understanding how it has been achieved. A master plan implemented through the collusion of the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, Executive branch, Wall Street cabal, and corporate media conglomerates has created the illusion of recovery. Make no mistake about it, those in power held clandestine meetings and had covert discussions that will never see the light of day in transcripts or recordings. They developed a strategy to save themselves, their fellow cronies, and the corporate interests that run this country. They threw the middle class, senior citizens, and young people under the bus in their sordid determination to retain their power, wealth and control. Their multi-faceted scheme has been rolled out as follows:
The master plan has succeeded in delaying the worst of the Crisis, further enriching the oligarchs, further impoverishing the middle class, fanning the flames of revolution across the globe, provoking foreign adversaries, inciting anger among the populace and darkening the mood of the country. Those predicting a return to the peaceful autumn like days of the late 90s reveal their ignorance of history. Winter is here and there are many dark days ahead before Spring is discernible. The linear thinking crowd who hang their hats on never ending progress spurred by technological innovation and a limitless supply of cheap resources are denying reality. Delusion and hope for a better tomorrow is not a strategy. We have entered the 5th year of this ongoing Crisis. Fourth Turnings do not fizzle out; they build to a societal earth shattering crescendo (American Revolution, Civil War, Great Depression/WWII). Economic, financial, social and global conditions do not progress during a twenty year Crisis period, driven by the generational configuration that arises once every 80 years. An epic struggle between good and evil, rich and poor, government and governed, young and old, nation and nation, awaits us over the next fifteen years. No matter what happens in 2013, it will be driven by the core elements of this Crisis – Debt, Civic Decay, and Global Disorder.
“In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe -1996
Until Debt Do Us Part
The storyline of austerity and deleveraging perpetuated through the mainstream media mouthpieces is unequivocally false, as consumer debt has reached an all-time high of $2.77 trillion, driven by a surge in subprime auto loans and subprime student loans. The reason for the surge in these loans, while credit card debt lingers 15% below the 2008 peak, is because the Federal Government is doling out these loans with your tax dollars. Ally Financial (aka GMAC, aka Ditech) is under the complete control of the Federal Government and doesn’t care about future losses. The taxpayers won’t notice another $1 billion in losses. There are Cadillac Escalades, Silverados and RAM pickups to peddle to morons without money.
Could there be a more subprime borrower than a 20 year old majoring in African literature or a 40 year old former construction worker enrolled at the University of Phoenix with 500,000 other schmoes? The Federal government assumed control over the student loan market in 2009 and has proceeded to blow a new bubble. They have driven tuition higher and enabled millions of barely functioning morons to enter college, where they will not only fail, but also be burdened by un-payable levels of non-dischargeable debt. Now the government solution is to pass those bad debts onto you the taxpayer while encouraging even more debt for students. Here is an assessment of the new “Pay as you Earn” program from your owners:
“(BusinessWeek) We have one example of someone who might look similar to an MBA student. He starts out with a starting salary of $90,000 and by the end of 20 years is making $243,360. Under the old IBR program, he’ll have paid $409,445 by year 25 and be forgiven $23,892 of his loan balance. Under the new IBR repayment plan he’ll pay less than half of that, or $202,299, and be forgiven $208,259 by year 20. The old IBR plan was punitive if you borrowed a lot of money, made you pay more over time and trapped you, so there were serious consequences to doing that. It was a downside and a pretty big risk, which is why you didn’t see people borrowing without regard to how much it will cost. The new plan essentially eliminates any downside or risk for that type of behavior, and cuts payments in half and then some.”
The enslavement of our children in student loan debt and handing them the bill for $200 trillion of unfunded entitlement liabilities will be the spark that ignites the worst part of this Crisis.
Those in power realized very quickly that without continued credit growth, their entire corrupt, repugnant, fiat currency based debt system would implode and they would lose all of their fraudulently acquired wealth. That is why total credit market debt is at an all-time high of $56 trillion, and 350% of GDP. The National Debt of $16.5 trillion is now 103% of GDP, well beyond the Rogoff & Reinhart level of 90% that always leads to economic crisis and turmoil.
As Wall Street bankers acted like lemmings leading up to the 2008 financial collapse the famous July 2007 quote from Charles Prince, CEO of Citigroup, summed it up nicely:
“When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing,”
Now central bankers across the globe are dancing an Irish Jig. Every major central banker in the world is lemmingly following Bernanke’s lead and printing money at hyper-speed. The Europeans have surpassed the Japanese in their quest to become the first casualty in the coming debt collapse. Bernanke, in his quest to not be outdone, has committed to taking his balance sheet to 25% of GDP within the next year. Japan has vowed not to be outdone. The currency debasement race is gathering steam. The devastation, anger, resentment and ultimately war caused by these bankers will engulf the world when it reaches its apocalyptic ending.
Will the grain of sand that collapses the pile be a debt ceiling crisis as postulated by Strauss & Howe?
“An impasse over the federal budget reaches a stalemate. The president and Congress both refuse to back down, triggering a near-total government shutdown. The president declares emergency powers. Congress rescinds his authority. Dollar and bond prices plummet. The president threatens to stop Social Security checks. Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling. Default looms. Wall Street panics.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1996
I don’t think so. The Democrats and Republicans are playing their parts in this theater of the absurd. Neither party has any desire to cut spending, reduce our debt, or secure the future of unborn generations. In 2013, I see the following things happening related to our debt crisis:
Civic Decay Accelerates
“History offers no guarantees. If America plunges into an era of depression or violence which by then has not lifted, we will likely look back on the 1990s as the decade when we valued all the wrong things and made all the wrong choices.” – Strauss & Howe - The Fourth Turning
The liberal minded Op-Ed writers that decry the incivility of dialogue today once again show their ignorance for or contempt for American history. They call for compromise and coming together. They should see Spielberg’s Lincoln to understand the uncompromising nature of Fourth Turnings and how conflicts are resolved. They should watch documentary film of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Guadalcanal during World War II. Compromise and civility do not compute during a Fourth Turning. It is compromise that has brought us to this point. Avoiding tough decisions and delaying action occur during the Unraveling. We’ve known the entitlement issues confronting our nation for over a decade and chose to do nothing. The time for delay and inaction is long gone. The pressing issues of the day will be resolved through collapse, confrontation and bloodshed. It’s the way it has always been done and the way it shall be. The current conflict over banning guns is just a symptom of a bigger disease. Government, at the behest of the owners, has been steadily assuming more power and control over the everyday lives of citizens who just want to be left to live their lives. Government has used propaganda, fear and misinformation to convince large swaths of the populace to voluntarily sacrifice their freedom and liberty for the promise of safety and security. Warrantless surveillance, imprisonment without charges, molestation by TSA agents, military exercises in cities, drones in our skies, cameras watching our every move, overseas torture, undeclared wars, cyber-attacks on sovereign countries, and now the threat of disarmament of the people have all contributed to the darkening skies above. A harsh winter lies ahead.
Civic decay is being driven by two main thrusts. Lack of jobs and destruction of middle class wealth by the oligarchs is resulting in the anger and dismay overwhelming the country. The chart below reveals the truth about our economy and the fraudulent nature of BLS reported data, skewed to paint a false picture. The 25 to 54 year old age bracket captures Americans in their peak earnings years. In 2007 this age bracket had 83% of its members in the labor force and 100.5 million of them employed. Today, according to the BLS, only 81.4% are in the labor force and there are 6.3 million less employed. The BLS has the gall to report that since 2009, even though the number of employed people in this age bracket has declined by 1 million, the number of unemployed people has dropped by 1.5 million people. To report this drivel is beyond laughable. The horrific labor market situation is confirmed by the fact that despite a 3.6 million person increase in this age demographic since 2000, there are 7.8 million more people not employed.
The reduced earnings and savings of the people in this demographic is having profound and long-lasting impact on our society. Household formation, retirement savings, tax revenues, and self-worth are all negatively impacted. The mood of desperation and anger is materializing in this age bracket. The resentment of these people when they see the well-heeled Wall Street set reaping stock market gains and bonuses while they make do on food stamps, extended unemployment and the charity of friends and family is palpable. More than 100% of the employment gains since 2010 have gone to those over the age of 55, further embittering the 25 to 54 workers. There is boiling anger beneath the thin veneer of civility between Millenials, GenXers, and Boomers. The chasm between the ultra-rich and the masses widens by the day and is leading to a seething animosity. The country has lost 2.4 million construction jobs and 2 million manufacturing jobs since 2007, but we’ve added 250,000 fry cook jobs and 440,000 University of Phoenix jobs stimulated by $500 billion in student loans. The complete transformation of a producing society to a consumption society has been accomplished.
When the average person sees Wall Street bankers not only walk away unscathed from the crisis they aided, abetted and created through their fraudulent inducements and documentation, but be further enriched at taxpayer expense, their hatred and disgust with high financers like Corzine, Dimon and Blankfein burns white hot. The mainstream media propaganda machine tries to convince the average Joe that stock market highs and record corporate profits are beneficial to him, even though the gains and profits have been spurred by zero interest rates, fraudulent accounting and outsourcing their jobs to third world slave labor factories. A critical thinking human being (this rules out 95% of the adult population) might question how corporate profits could surpass pre-collapse levels when the economy has remained stagnant.
Shockingly, the entire profit surge was driven by Wall Street. Accounting entries relieving billions of loan loss reserves, earning hundreds of millions in risk free interest courtesy of Bernanke, and falsely valuing your loan portfolio can do wonders for profits. We’ve added 6.9 million finance jobs in the last 20 years as this industry has sucked the lifeblood out of our nation. A country that allows bankers to syphon off 35% of all the profits in the country without producing any benefits to society is destined to fail, with the dire consequences that follow.
My civic decay expectations for 2013 are as follows:
Global Disorder Spreads
“Eventually, all of America’s lesser problems will combine into one giant problem. The very survival of the society will feel at stake, as leaders lead and people follow. The emergent society may be something better, a nation that sustains its Framers’ visions with a robust new pride. Or it may be something unspeakably worse. The Fourth Turning will be a time of glory or ruin.” – Strauss & Howe - The Fourth Turning
The entire world resembles a powder-keg in a room full of monkeys with matches. As economic conditions worsen around the world the poor, destitute and unemployed increasingly have begun to revolt against their banker masters. Money printing, reporting fraudulent economic data and pretending to make debt payments with newly issued debt does not employ anyone or put food in the mouths of the people. With worldwide unemployment surpassing 200 million, food and energy prices surging, peasants in the Far East treated like slave laborers, politicians stealing from the people to enrich their banker owners, and young people losing hope for a better tomorrow, the likelihood of strikes, protests, armed revolution, and war is high.
The world is about to find out the downside to globalization, as turmoil in Europe or Asia will swiftly impact those in the rest of the world that are interconnected through trade and financial instruments. The trillions of derivatives that link financial institutions across the world will ignite like a string of firecrackers once a spark reaches the fuse. Treaties and alliances between countries will immediately enlarge localized military conflicts into world-wide confrontations. Dwindling supplies of cheap oil and potable water, a changing climate (whether cyclical or human activity based) that is creating droughts, floods and super-storms on a more frequent basis, and religious zealotry set the stage for resource wars and religious wars around the globe and particularly in the Middle East. Fourth Turnings always intensify and ultimately lead to total war, with no compromise and clear winners and losers. The proxy wars that have been waged for the last 60 years will look like kindergarten snack time when the culmination of this Fourth Turning war results in death on a scale that would be considered incomprehensible today. And it will happen within the next fifteen years. The climactic war is still a few years off, but here is what I think will happen in 2013:
So now I’m on the record for 2013 and I can be scorned and ridiculed for being such a pessimist when December rolls around and our Ponzi scheme economy hasn’t collapsed. There is no disputing the facts. The economic situation is deteriorating for the average American, the mood of the country is darkening, and the world is awash in debt and turmoil. Every country is attempting to print their way to renewed prosperity. No one wins a race to the bottom. The oligarchs have chosen a path of currency debasement, propping up insolvent banks, propaganda and impoverishing the masses as their preferred course. They attempt to keep the masses distracted with political theater, gun control vitriol, reality TV and iGadgets. What can be said about a society where 10% of the population follows Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga on Twitter and where 50% think the National Debt is a monument in Washington D.C. The country is controlled by evil sycophants, intellectually dishonest toadies and blood sucking leeches. Their lies and deception have held sway for the last four years, but they have only delayed the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. They will not reverse course and believe their intellectual superiority will allow them to retain their control after the collapse.
“Washington has become our Versailles. We are ruled, entertained, and informed by courtiers — and the media has evolved into a class of courtiers. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are mostly courtiers. Our pundits and experts, at least those with prominent public platforms, are courtiers. We are captivated by the hollow stagecraft of political theater as we are ruthlessly stripped of power. It is smoke and mirrors, tricks and con games, and the purpose behind its deception.”- Chris Hedges
Every day more people are realizing the con-job being perpetuated by the owners of this country. Will the tipping point be reached in 2013? I don’t know. But the era of decisiveness and confrontation has arrived. The people will learn there are consequences to our actions and inaction. The existing social order will be swept away. Are you prepared?
“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences…” – Winston Churchill