Yesterday, several tornadoes wreaked destruction and death through the greater Oklahoma City area. It took only minutes. Sheets of twisted metal have been left hanging in trees, power lines are ripped apart, homes are obliterated and left looking like piles of bombed-out rubble.
I saw one awe-inspiring twister as it blasted lightning, rained hail, and demolished buildings just a mile away.
One frightful lesson became evident: how fast a storm can arrive. Another: how brutal it can be. When the tornado sirens went off, there was not much you could do but head for whatever shelter was nearby. And pray.
For at least eight people yesterday, that wasn’t enough.
America is facing an economic storm far greater than the deadly tornadoes that swept Oklahoma. Time is short. The warning sirens, audible for years, are today blaring for all to hear. There is no need to be caught out in the open with nowhere to go.
The leading edge has arrived.
America’s economic core—its biggest financial institutions—are in tatters. And there have been casualties: Record numbers are losing their homes, companies are going out of business, and almost 600,000 jobs are being lost per month.
But according to the best economists—the courageous voices not bought and paid for by self-interest groups—what America has experienced so far is but the first few gusts of an unprecedented storm.
Here is a short survey of what some of the experts have warned over the past week.
Gerard Cassidy, Royal Bank of Canada analyst, on why the banking crisis is just beginning:
“We are nowhere near the end of this down leg in the current credit cycle. Bank stocks will likely remain under pressure as the industry confronts its … problems ….”
According to Cassidy and the rbc, approximately 1,000 U.S. banks will fail in the next three to five years as commercial loan losses begin to compound residential mortgage losses—that’s approximately one in eight banks in America predicted to collapse.
rbc’s previous estimates were for only 200 to 300 bank failures.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph economics analyst, on foreigners abandoning U.S. bonds:
“Who can blame bond vigilantes for going on strike? Nobody wants to be left holding the bag if and when the global monetary blitz succeeds in stoking inflation. Governments are borrowing frantically to fund their bailouts and cover a collapse in tax revenue. The U.S. Treasury alone needs to raise $2 trillion in 2009. Where is the money to come from?”
Yes, foreigners may have begun to balk at lending to the U.S. According to Evans-Pritchard, many countries faced with the carrot of spending money at home to stimulate their own economies, and the stick of the U.S. government devaluing its currency (i.e. creating money out of thin air) to pay the bills, are now selling U.S. treasuries.
Yields on 10-year treasuries have risen to levels that “if allowed to persist” will “asphyxiate the U.S. economy.”
“My own view,” laments Evans-Pritchard, “is that there is no hope at all of stabilizing the world economy on current policies.” We are moving into the stage of the crisis that mirrors 1932, he says.
Marc Faber, economic analyst, on why the U.S. dollar faces collapse:
“In the U.S., we have a totally new school, and it’s called the Zimbabwe school,” says Faber. “And it’s founded by one of the great leaders of this world, Mr. Robert Mugabe, that has managed to totally impoverish his own country. And that is the monetary policy the U.S. is pursuing.”
According to Faber, Zimbabwe economics is America’s plan to borrow, print and spend money in an attempt to fix an economy that has broken due to too much borrowing, printing and spending. He says the U.S. risks being hit by Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation and that there are signs America is turning into a banana republic (a country characterized by totalitarianism, extensive government intervention in the economy, and the polarization of wealth).
How bad could it get? Faber says 200 percent inflation is not out of the question at some point. “If I look at government debt in the U.S., and debt in general, I think the only way they will not default physically on their debt is to inflate.”
Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital and author of Crash Proof, on why the stimulus bill will lead to “unmitigated disaster”:
“This week President Obama claimed that failure to pass his economic stimulus bill will have catastrophic consequences for the U.S economy. The reality is the catastrophe will be far greater with his plan than without it. If the trends of January and early February of 2009 continue, the rug will be completely pulled out from beneath the U.S. economy, and the full cost of the president’s ‘economic depressant package’ will be apparent to all.”
Like Faber, Schiff also worries about the dollar, saying that temporary aberrations have caused the dollar’s value to hold up despite the “corporate losses, frozen credit markets and plunging home prices” that “were the opening salvo in the unfolding economic crisis.”
Schiff says the dollar’s strength will be short-lived. And when the administration tries to fund all of its spending plans, it could send the dollar’s value plummeting.
“The dollar rally has run out of steam, gold has clearly broken out, and commodity prices are moving back up. … If foreign capital does not continue to pour into treasuries, interest rates and consumer prices in the U.S. will soar. At that point, we will finally be confronted with the real crises ….”
The predicted storm is coming. And it will get much worse before it gets better.
Prepare now to lower your standard of living. Increase savings and get out of debt. Live on less now, so you will have more to live on later.
But there is only one way to be truly safe from a storm. And this is something else that the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma drove home—only God can offer true protection. Isn’t it better that we turn to Him now, in advance of the full force of the storm heading in this direction?