When All Else Fails

The Credit Crisis is Not Over

by Bob Chapman

As we look back and this year comes to an end we find two plus years of failure. Even government admits to 1-1/2 years of negative growth – a sorry record after having poured trillions of dollars into the economy. The recent 3rd quarter results supposedly broke that record. If it did it was the result of government stimulus and Fed monetization. If you look back further you will find a stock market that rallied 54% just to reflect the highs of 1999. House prices have decline to 1990s levels as well. Both markets, which were bubbles, next year will fall again. Americans opened their markets to products of Communist China’s slave labor and China became the world’s biggest exporter. Via free trade, globalization, offshoring and outsourcing, transnational conglomerates have stolen America’s destiny and handed it to China. This is what corporatist fascism is all about.

The dollar will soon end its mini-rally and the USDX will test 71.18 in the first quarter as the euro tests $1.62. Interest rates will stay at zero for at least two years, and mega monetization will continue. As you have just seen the Treasury wants TARP funds for Treasury debt and the administration wants the TARP funds to further stimulate the economy. Either way it is very inflationary.

We are told the credit crisis is over and that recovery is underway. We do not believe that. It is projected that as many as 300 more companies will default on debt in 2011. A default rate of 12 to 14 percent. That is up from 1% in 2007 and a long-term average of 4.5%. These are not just small firms, but companies with more than $100 million in assets as well. That doesn’t sound like recovery to us. What is very significant is that the 300-figure is based on recovery. Only 116 companies defaulted between 2004 and 2007. One of the groups hit hard will be commercial real estate. The figures are already bad, but companies and lenders have been buying time by using two sets of books, marking to model and refinancing. All that doesn’t change the big picture and that is with a recovery the situation will be bad, without recovery it will be dreadful.

Corporate America has lots of problems, but the federal government has many more. It has to finance more than $1 trillion a year in borrowings. Interest rates are the lowest ever, but rates will begin to climb next year; 5% real interest rates would add some $600 billion to the debt service. That is more than the combined costs of Iraq and Afghanistan, energy, education and Homeland Security.

The Fed has been backstopping short-term interest rates and holding down long-term rates. They say they will end their $300 billion program to buy up Treasury bonds and will stop buying mortgage securities by the end of next March.

The administration believes it will have to borrow $3.5 trillion over the next three years, plus rolling over short-term debt, or another $1.6 trillion. That is a total of $5.1 trillion. Knowing politicians you can increase that number by at least 50%. The wages of sin have caught up with the government as it attempts to replace short-term bills with 5, 7, 10 and 30-year paper. We do not believe the debt is payable and the consequences are not going to be pretty. All the velocity of monetary circulation is not going to change the final outcome.

At the same time the Fed and Wall Street are trying to cover-up, as they did 2-1/2 years ago what became a credit crisis. Last time they ramped up the stock market and they are attempting to do the same thing again. It is a masking of two underlying problems. They are doing what they did before, pushing up the value of shares, of companies that are on the edge of serious problems. In this process they have virtually nationalized banks and given them the funds to re-leverage in the market and take it again to today’s heights. The market has again become divorced from economic reality. They are again about to find out printing money and taxing is not going to solve the problem. On the way to the printing press and along the path of monetization the government has forgotten that they are in serious financial conditions and in the coming year will not be able to fund their deficit. The revenues are not to be had and foreigners are more and more reluctant to shoulder America’s debt. That means another credit crisis and further monetization of debt. Very simply, the US government is bankrupt. They can either default or lay the burden on future generations. The immediate answer is for government to cut spending on such trivialities, such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Allow the citizens to live in penury and poverty. These are the people who helped build America into what it is and they are to be cast aside as the Fed rescues its owners, the bankers, who deliberately caused the problem in the first place.

The deficit for fiscal 2010 should be close to $2 trillion, up from $1.4 trillion in 2009. The projection for the next ten years is at least $10 trillion. That means an increase of 150% to be serviced by 60% increase in tax revenue in a world where current receipts are off 30%. Even in better times recently tax revenues only increased by 12% during the biggest real estate and stock booms ever. We are about to find out that the muddle through theory does not work. Just for good measure we will add that unfunded liabilities increased by $9 trillion last year alone. That is ten years of deficits in just one year. Who in their right mine is going to fund and support such profligacy?

Then there is the status of the FDIC. It is $8.2 billion in debt and has already pulled $80 billion additional funds secretly from the Treasury. No one ever told us that FDIC funds were commingled in the general fund, just as Social Security and Medicare have been since their inception. There now is no money set aside for bank failures. The Fed in secret meetings has said the FDIC does not have 552 problem banks, but 2,035 in eminent danger. The cost to bail out these banks would be close to $1 trillion. That would be impossible to fulfill and so we state again, the FDIC will be history by the end of 2010. That will leave $5.120 trillion of deposits and FDIC-guaranteed debt uninsured. The FDIC funds, whatever their number, have been spent on the military, bailouts, other government programs and to pay interest. All three entities have been looted. All that is left is unpayable IOUs. Overall unfunded obligations are: Social Security $15.1 trillion. Medicare $88.9 trillion or a total of $104 trillion. If you add in short-term debt of $114.7 trillion, are you getting the message?

Just to give you an idea of how much debt has been created, the average G-20 budget deficits are 10.2% of GDP, when 3% is normal. Greece, which is on the edge of bankruptcy, will be 12.5% in 2010. Yet, the US is already at 13.5%. Close behind are the UK and Japan at 11.6% and 10.3%. The erosion of confidence and trust will soon manifest itself as lenders stop lending to these nations. This has already happened to the US with the Fed monetizing more than half of Treasury issuance. This is proof the dollar will crash and be devalued, as debt goes into default. Foreign nations are understandably concerned, as the dollar now only makes up 37% of new foreign reserve holdings. That is about a 50% reduction in holdings. As we reported before it is no wonder oil producers have held secret meetings to dump the petro dollar. Wall Street, Washington and central banks worldwide refuse to heed the lessons of the centuries and so have been damned to oblivion.

In more slight of hand the BLS has let us know that their birth/death model has overestimated the unemployment by some 824,000. These errors will be included in their statistics in February, and may be revised. The private sector number is 855,000. Some would like to call the error incompetence, we call it strategic planning by government to mislead the American people. For months the number of employed had been expanding via these phantom figures when they should have been contracting. We cannot access their data so the incorrect figure could be even higher.

What government has been doing is guessing for the past six years how many jobs had been created or lost by small businesses. In reality it was a totally unsound method of creating jobs that didn’t exist.

This miscounting by other methods also distorts the CPI, PPI retail sales, durable goods and, of course, GDP. That means you cannot believe a thing the government says. We have contended this for more than ten years. As an example, how can employment in small businesses be growing when more than 43,000 went under last year? Even if the figures come in late there obviously is never any adjustment. The difference in this case is jobs lost were not 7.2 million, but 8 million. In the second quarter some 16,000 businesses failed, up from about 14,000 quarter-to-quarter, the highest in 16 years. In addition the BLS only looks at unemployment insurance tax records once a year – how convenient. The birth/death model is nothing more than a ruse to present unemployment in a better light. This has been done for the past six years not just over the past two years. Our research shows a bogus set of additions yoy of about 1.7 million.

The fund-less FDIC reports US banks may be making money gambling with leverage using TARP funds, but bank loans fell by $210.4 billion, or 2.8% in the third quarter, the biggest drop since the FDIC started keeping records in 1984. Those same banks booked profits of $2.8 billion reversing a $4.3 billion third quarter loss. Loans to businesses fell 6.5% and those to real estate 8.1%.

Small business cannot borrow and they created 64% of new jobs in the past 15 years says the SBA. We see that figure at 75%.

Non-current loans rose 10% to 5% of all loans to $366.6 billion, the highest rate on record. In the 3rd quarter banks charged off $51 billion in bad loans, the 11th straight quarterly increase, up more than 80% yoy. 66-2/3% of banks set aside $62.5 billion in loss reserves, 22% higher yoy.

124 banks have failed thus far this year, up from 25 in 2008 and we could see more than 2,000 fail in 2010 and 2011.

The FDIC says it has set aside $38.9 billion for losses giving it total reserves of $30.7 billion. They say they have $23.3 billion in cash. They expect to collect another $45 billion by the end of the year when banks are forced to pay $45 billion, or three years of deposit insurance in advance. That would give them $98.3 billion to cover losses. If they really have those funds, which we doubt, they will need them for 2010’s failure onslaught.

It looks like the stock market is finally ready to rollover. It is in a well-defined head and shoulders pattern that began in September. This is what happens when trillions are given to the financial sector and a pittance to the public. This is a control planner’s formula for disaster. The present dollar rally could end at 78 or 80 and then the test of 71.18. Our government rigged this rally using the currency swaps they created out of thin air in March.

If banks do not increase lending by 20% in 2010, a second credit crisis will beset markets. Stocks are way over valued having baked in a strong recovery with the help of TARP funds. This market reminds us of the alcoholic who has to have a drink upon rising and says he is not an alcoholic. All Wall Street knows is profits and they could care less about unemployment. The debasement of our currency means nothing. Speculation wages again with no thought of lower financial profits in the first quarter and a distinct chance of a second credit crisis. Ignored is the government’s manipulative presence in the market, or market fundamentals. Today’s speculation reflects the lack of trust, confidence and lack of fiscal and monetary discipline. The theme is we had better make it while we can, because there may be no tomorrow. As a result the probability of a steep market correction is strong. What we are involved in economically and financially is not a common correction, it is a correction in a bear market and few, even professionals, see this. This happened in the early 1930s and by the end of 1940 we still had not exited depression. We had to arrange a war to extricate ourselves.

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