“Do not underestimate the ‘power of underestimation’. They can’t stop you, if they don’t see you coming.” ― Izey Victoria Odiase
During the summer of 2008 I was writing articles a few times per week predicting an economic catastrophe and a banking crisis. When the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression swept across the world, resulting in double digit unemployment, a 50% stock market crash in a matter of months, millions of home foreclosures, and the virtual insolvency of the criminal Wall Street banks, my predictions were vindicated. I was pretty smug and sure the start of this Fourth Turning would follow the path of the last Crisis, with a Greater Depression, economic disaster and war.
In the summer of 2008, the national debt stood at $9.4 trillion, which amounted to 65% of GDP. Total credit market debt peaked at $54 trillion. Consumer debt peaked at $2.7 trillion. Mortgage debt crested at $14.8 trillion. The Federal Reserve balance sheet had been static at or below $900 billion for years.
During 2007, a risk averse senior citizen couple (my parents) who had accumulated $200,000 of retirement savings over their lifetime of hard work, could generate $10,000 of interest income in a Vanguard money market fund yielding 5%. This supplemented their modest Social Security income of $20,000 to $30,000 per year. The interest rate on savings during normal economic times was generally 2% above inflation, which hovered around 3% in 2007 according to the data manipulators at the BLS.
As the summer of 2008 progressed, I felt more disconnected. I had been doing everything possible to support Ron Paul’s candidacy for president, but the masses weren’t ready for the truth or the reality of our situation. In my opinion the country was already off-course and headed towards a debt created disaster. But the average American was oblivious. The economy appeared strong. People’s 401ks were soaring. And homeowners in many markets had seen their homes double in value – on paper. I felt stupid as I had exited the stock market and bought some bear mutual funds and ETFs during 2007 and 2008.
The stock market had more than doubled since the 2002 lows. The control fraud systematically implemented by the Wall Street cabal and their captured political hacks also drove home prices to astronomical heights, making the average home owner think they were richer than they were. Billions of home equity loans were used by delusional dolts across the land to buy luxury vehicles, take exotic vacations, and basically live far above their means. When that fake equity evaporated like a puddle in the Sahara Desert, the delusional masses found themselves living in those luxury vehicles, until the repo man showed up.
The irrationality and insanity of the Wall Street created housing bubble was perfectly captured in Michael Lewis’ brilliant takedown of the Wall Street cabal in the Big Short. When Steve Eisman interviews a Florida stripper doing a pole dance and finds out she “owns” five houses and a condo, he realizes the housing boom is a complete fraud and goes all in shorting the exotic worthless derivatives created by the criminal bankers.
September 2008 marked the beginning of this Fourth Turning, with the global implosion of financial markets, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, double digit unemployment, six million home foreclosures, a 50% collapse in the stock market, the deepest recession since the 1930s, and shell-shocked consumers defaulting on credit card and auto loans to the tune of hundreds of billions.
As consumer credit contracted, retail stores began going bankrupt in vast numbers. Mall operators were left with 50% or vacancy rates. They couldn’t make the loan payments on their debt. By March of 2009 the country was in a full-blown crisis. My storage area in my basement was filled with food, cases of water and other emergency supplies. I was sure we were at the beginning of an economic period, similar but worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.
I certainly overestimated my forecasting ability and underestimated the abilities of the ruling class to take outrageously reckless steps to retain their power and manipulate the masses into believing extreme abnormalcy was actually normal. The first outrage perpetrated by the oligarchs was passing the $700 billion TARP bailout of the feckless Hank Paulson lied and threatened to protect his billionaire buddies.
The turning point occurred on March 16, 2009 when the pocket protector wearing spineless weenie accountants at the FASB were threatened by Bernanke and his henchmen into overturning their mark to market rule and allow the criminal Wall Street banks to value their worthless mortgages at whatever they chose.
Citicorp, Bank of America, AIG, GE, Goldman Sachs, and most of the other “Too Big To Trust” goliath banks were bankrupt. They should have been liquidated using the bankruptcy process, with their good assets sold to banks who did not undertake fraudulent risks, and their executives and investors suffering the consequences.
The fear mongering and fake accounting propagated by Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner, and their corporate media fake news propaganda machines had the sole purpose of shifting the fraudulently created Wall Street private losses to the taxpayers through deficit funded handouts, free money, accounting fraud, and throwing senior citizen savers under the bus. Wall Street became richer than ever while Main Street got fucked again.
As a Ron Paul, Austrian school of economics believer, myself, along with many other logical minded rational thinking people, believed a short violent recession where bad debt was expunged from the system through liquidation and the economy was reset based on corporations and consumers acting conservatively and living within their means – using debt sparingly for long-term purposes, was the best road going forward.
I overestimated the intelligence, critical thinking skills, self-restraint and math aptitude of the masses by believing they had learned their lesson after experiencing the second Fed induced market crash in an eight-year period. I thought the American people and their leaders would come to their senses and realize the parabolic increase in debt since the 1990s had to end.
I underestimated the level of fear amongst the Fed, financiers, politicians, mega-corporations, and billionaire oligarchs when just a leveling off of credit market debt resulted in global financial implosion. And I clearly underestimated the illegal lengths Bernanke and his fellow puppets would go to in order to save their Wall Street owners and corporate, political and media parasites reliant upon the ongoing Ponzi debt scheme being sustained.
If I had only believed in the power of massive debt issuance, nine years of zero interest rates for Wall Street banks, $3.6 trillion of Fed QE to relieve Wall Street of its bad debt, hundreds of billions of debt financed corporate stock buybacks, luring millions into 7 year auto loans, and allowing Wall Street hedge funds to buy up the millions of foreclosures and rent them back to those who they had booted onto the street.
If you told anyone in 2007 the national debt would go from $9.4 trillion to $22.8 trillion in twelve years, they would have called you a loon and laughed you out of the room. Now the national debt is 105% of GDP and consumer debt exceeds $4 trillion. Millennials are enslaved with $1.6 trillion of student loan debt, up by $1 trillion since 2009. The ruling class and their propaganda machine have convinced the masses $1 trillion annual deficits are normal and sustainable. Nothing bad has happened – Yet.
Our so-called leaders have implemented the exact opposite “solutions” to a debt crisis than what was required. Of course, this is true only if our leaders were interested in the long-term sustainability of the nation and its unborn future generations. If the ruling class is only concerned with their wealth, power and control over the masses, then their actions make complete sense.
If I hadn’t underestimated the evilness, greed and egocentricity of the entrenched establishment oligarchs, I would have stayed invested in the market, reaping the 300% returns since the 2009 lows. It has certainly paid to bet on the continued treachery of the traitorous central bankers, politicians, mega-corporation executives, and the fake news media. Only truly devious, deceitful, demented wizards of financial fraud could drive total credit market debt from $54 trillion to $74 trillion as the solution to a debt crisis.
After eight years of emergency level financial suppression, the latest Fed puppet, Jerome Powell, dared to raise rates above zero and suspend the continued buying of government debt. If we were really operating in a normal economic environment, market rates would be in the 4% range. But, miniscule .25% increases over a couple years pushing the Federal Funds rate to 2.25% was too much for Wall Street and the president to handle.
They have both been throwing hissy fits for the last year, intimidating and threatening the weak-kneed Powell into cutting rates with unemployment at all-time lows, the stock market near all-time highs, and the economy in its tenth year of expansion. Powell’s cowardly surrender is proof the Fed is nothing but Wall Street’s bitch, subservient and pliable to pressure from its owners.
“They’re keeping the rates down so that everything else doesn’t go down. We have a very false economy. At some point the rates are going to have to change. The only thing that is strong is the artificial stock market. The U.S. economy is in a big, fat, ugly bubble. I will get rid of the nation’s more than $19 trillion national debt over a period of eight years. I’m renegotiating all of our deals, the big trade deals that we’re doing so badly on.” – Donald Trump, September 2016.
“The U.S. economy would grow more quickly if monetary policy were eased. If we had a Fed that would lower interest rates, we would be like a rocket ship. We don’t have a Fed that knows what they’re doing. Our most difficult problem is not our competitors, it is the Federal Reserve. The Fed raised rates too soon, too often, and doesn’t have a clue!” – Donald Trump, July 2019
I certainly overestimated the campaign rhetoric truthfulness of Donald Trump as he railed against the Federal Reserve for keeping interest rates too low, creating a stock market bubble, and contributing to the parabolic rise in debt. His promise to eliminate the national debt in eight years was impossible, but I thought he might rein in spending and reduce annual deficits.
It seems men who may have the best intentions to do what is right on behalf of the American people when they seek higher office or are appointed to positions of power, such as the Federal Reserve, are summoned into a dark boardroom and informed who are the real bosses and what truly makes the world go round.
The scene in Network where business mogul Arthur Jensen informsHoward Beale about the real world and who wields the real power probably comes closest to what Obama, Trump, Bernanke, Yellen and Powell have experienced as they were “convinced” to do the bidding of the corporate interests, military industrial complex, and banking cabal.
“You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it! Is that clear? You think you’ve merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance!
You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels.
It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU… WILL… ATONE!
Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?
You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.”
So here we are, entering Trump’s fourth year in office as the Deep State and their cronies in Congress, the CIA, and fake news media use impeachment as their last straw in their ongoing attempted coup, and the national debt is up by $3 trillion since Trump took office. At the end of his first term the national debt will exceed $24 trillion and interest on that debt will approach $600 billion.
The tax cuts for corporate America and the richest individuals reduced tax revenues and resulted in corporations buying back billions of their own stock to drive the stock market to the highest valuations since the 2000 dot.com bubble. Meanwhile, Trump fed the military industrial complex with billions more, while funding war throughout the world. Rhetoric about ending wars is just bullshit for the masses. The entitlement outlays remain on an unsustainable path, as Trump and all the feckless politicians in D.C. pretend all is well. Nothing bad has happened – Yet.
The Fed balance sheet peaked at $4.5 trillion as they increased interest rates by a mere 200 basis points over a few years, still 200 basis points below what used to be considered normal. We’ve heard the boasts about the “best economy ever”, “lowest unemployment in history”, “stock market highest ever”, and “record corporate profits”, but with interest rates still at emergency levels and the Fed balance sheet a mere $750 billion lower than its peak, somehow the Fed feels compelled to cut rates and restart QE – but not calling it QE. Powell is bowing down to his Wall Street masters and Trump by taking actions which would only be taken during a recession or financial crisis.
GDP has averaged 2.5% in 2019, with consumer confidence high, consumer spending solid, unemployment at all-time lows, the stock market within spitting distance of all-time highs, and corporate profits at all-time peaks. Why would the Fed cut rates by 50 basis points, with more coming, and increase their balance sheet by $180 billion in one month, with a commitment to increase it by $60 billion a month for the foreseeable future?
Will these actions benefit the average person or the above average bank and corporate executives? Savers are again being sacrificed on the altar of corporate America. These actions by Powell and his fellow Fed co-conspirators are desperate measures disguised as planned policy actions, sold to the masses by the propaganda media as normal and beneficial to them.
As the daily Twitter wars are waged by Trump against his surveillance state foes and their confederates in Congress and the fake news media, the economic situation of the country marches relentlessly towards its catastrophic denouement. It appears no one on either side of the political divide is the least bit worried about the sustainability of an unsustainable economic paradigm.
I suppose I continue to underestimate the level of maliciousness, gluttony, and pure arrogance of those pulling the strings behind the curtain, as they rape and pillage the dwindling financial resources of our empire in its death throes. These psychopaths in suits care not for this country or its people. These globalist pricks want nothing more than pliable slaves, distracted by their iGadgets, sports, and Hollywood drivel.
The reaction by the big swinging dicks on Wall Street to the fake news trade agreement between Trump and China, along with the surprise Friday announcement by the Fed of $60 billion per month QE, was to drive stock prices skyward. I will no longer underestimate the lengths to which the establishment will go to maintain and expand their riches, power and control over our society.
I will also no longer overestimate the ability of the American populace to see through this charade and come to their senses regarding their unsustainable use of debt to try and maintain an unrealistic lifestyle. Their willful ignorance, created through government education propaganda and social engineering, will not be extinguished until the inevitable financial collapse wipes them out again.
This Fourth Turning certainly has not followed the path of the previous Fourth Turning. The existing social order has thrown every debt based “solution” at this debt-based crisis in order to avoid a 1930s like Depression. As we are eleven years into this Fourth Turning, the actions taken by the ruling class may have delayed the pain, but they have only assured the next leg down will be far worse than it needed to be. The social fabric of the country is being irreparably torn with the ongoing Deep State coup against Trump.
His impeachment and/or election of a gun grabbing socialist will surely lead to civil violence. The continued provocations between superpowers with nuclear weapons and a Middle East always on the verge of apocalypse only needs an arrogant misstep by an egomaniacal leader to trigger a global conflagration. I don’t think I’m overestimating the risk of catastrophe, but time will tell. Fourth Turnings have always swept away the existing social order in a chaotic whirlwind of death and destruction.
“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning