Bonds

GoldSilver.com’s Mike Maloney Predicts U.S. Currency Crisis ‘Before The End Of This Decade’

One “crash prophet” who I check in on from time to time is Mike Maloney, a precious metals expert, advisor, and author who runs California-based GoldSilver.com (specializing in the instruction of precious metals investing and providing world-class gold/silver dealer services). This afternoon I watched two videos in which he was featured, and thought I should share his observations with Survival And Prosperity readers.

First off, in a video just uploaded onto his YouTube channel Tuesday, Mike Maloney informed viewers:

I’m making this video because I’ve noticed a major shift in the markets lately. Every trader, every investor, everybody in the world is looking at this. This is the Wilshire 5000 but the S&P or the Dow- they all look the same. There’s these major topping patterns, and we’ve put in a third, what looks like to everybody, a major topping pattern. And what we’re seeing is more, very, very large customers- people that are cashing out of the stock markets and going into gold and silver…

Here at GoldSilver, what we’re seeing is a shift from a whole lot of smaller purchases to some very, very big purchases coming in. It’s highly unusual. And what I get out of it is that people are scared. So I just wanted to update everybody on the markets, to me, look like they are topping out…


“Markets Topping Out, Large Investors Run To Gold – Mike Maloney”
YouTube Video

In the second video, Mike Maloney focuses on the “big picture.” Speaking to investment newsletter publisher Jay Taylor on his web-based radio show Turning Hard Times into Good Times, Maloney said in a video uploaded on YouTube on January 20:

I believe we’re going to have a currency crisis before the end of this decade. But everyone is going to feel it. And only precious metals investors are going to benefit from it…

Taylor asked Maloney:

I recall a discussion you and I and my friend Ian Gordon had up there in Vancouver two or three years ago in which you were almost in complete agreement with Ian’s views that we were heading into a deflationary implosion the likes of which probably would make the 1930s look like child’s play. Are you still of that view? And if so, isn’t the dollar then a store of value if we’re in a deflationary environment?

Maloney responded:

Yes it will be temporarily. It’s going to be the beneficiary. This will probably start out of China or Europe and there will be this temporary flight to what people have been taught is this safe haven- which is U.S. Treasury bonds. And that will make the dollar the beneficiary of this temporary event. But we are in for a global deflationary episode. And so the dollar will rise temporarily… And so you’re going to see one last pop in the dollar probably, but then you’re going to see gold take off like a rocket

Maloney envisions this deflationary event turning into a hyperinflationary episode. He finished the interview with the following:

I think the markets have topped right now. And we are in the space where over the next few years we’re going to see a really big crash…

What you’re going to probably see is a short-term dip in precious metals and you have to use- to me, I’m using this to buy. I think gold under $2,000 is just a bargain-and-a-half. So if you can buy down near $1,000, or if it does dip under $1,000- I don’t think you’re going to be able to get a whole lot of physical for under $1,000 but the stocks will be a bargain. This is the time right now. Before gold starts to spike is when you want to buy, not after. Then, it’s going to take off like a rocket one of these days and never look back…


“Michael Maloney-The Greatest Crisis in the History of Mankind is here!”
YouTube Video

“Pop in the dollar.” “Short-term dip in precious metals.” Sound familiar?

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

Maloney’s recently-revised (September 2015) gold and silver investing book…

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Jim Rogers Shares Investing Insights For 2016 And Beyond

Speaking of Singapore, once in a while I come across some terrific interviews of the “crash prophets.” This weekend I read one of well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers. James West, publisher/editor of the Midas Letter (“Emerging Public Company Research and Global Economic Commentary”), spoke to the Singapore-based investor and published the exchange on his newsletter’s website last Tuesday. They talked about everything (at least as it concerns topics I think Survival And Prosperity readers might be interested in). Rogers maintains what’s going on in the financial markets/system these days goes back to the 2008 global economic crisis:

WEST: Jim would you agree that the roughly 8 percent drop in global market indices since the beginning of 2016 is the harbinger of a continuation of the financial crisis that began in 2008?
ROGERS: Oh I know it is. There’s no doubt in my mind. China’s been able to support the world through a period of money printing and low interest rates, and that’s now come to an end cause China’s showing signs of slowing down. People say China’s to blame for all this mess, but China’s just a victim like the rest of us. We’re all victims James, we’re all victims, including American citizens. Our central bank has been a disaster…

Regarding investment advice for 2016, the chairman of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc., shared the following:

WEST: So where should an investor be, going into a 2016 that is so volatile and so fraught with the risk of another major market correction?
ROGERS: Well, who knows. What I have done is I’m short in the U.S. stock market – the nine or ten stocks that never go down – Amazon, Netflix… those things. I am short junk bonds in the U.S., I am long in China – mainly because I have to be long somewhere. So I’m short junk bonds, I’m short the U.S. stock market, I own a lot of U.S. dollars for the reasons I mentioned. That’s mainly where my money is. But who knows if I’ve got it right. I own some other stocks too that I’ve owned for decades…

Rogers provides additional insights into bonds, the U.S. dollar, gold, monetary policy, agriculture, commodities, silver, crude oil, and other topics. Like I said, terrific interview. Not wanting to steal West’s thunder, head on over to the Midas Letter website here to read it all.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; a qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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SP Intel Report- November 9, 2015

Chicagoland

Nearly 1 Out Of 3 City Of Chicago Workers Made $100K Or More Last Year

Having lived in a northwest side neighborhood chock-full of City of Chicago employees prior to moving out to the ‘burbs, I wasn’t really surprised to learn of the following. Chris Fusco and Tim Novak reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday:

Nearly one out of every three workers on the city of Chicago payroll made $100,000 or more last year — a far higher percentage of six-figure employees than in state or Cook County government.

That’s according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis that for the first time combines city workers’ salaries, overtime and other extra pay.

Twenty-six city workers drew paychecks that eclipsed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s pay of $216,210, the analysis found. They included a police detective, two fire department ambulance commanders and two water department operating engineers…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Fusco and Novak noted that there were 35,761 City of Chicago employees last year. And nearly 1 out of 3 made $100K or more? Nice gig if you can get it, right? Regrettably, I predict that when tough financial times finally arrive at the Windy City’s doorstep, even “clout” won’t be able to protect certain positions and salaries from getting slashed.

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle To Tax Ammunition Sales?

Gun “control” (or gun “safety” as certain word wankers are now trying to call it) is on the march again in Cook County. From a County blog post Friday:

In an effort to reduce gun violence and improve public safety by creating new revenue for preventative actions, President Preckwinkle is also proposing a tax on rounds of ammunition sold in Cook County. The ammunition tax, either a penny or nickel per round depending on the category of ammunition, is aimed at addressing the costs of future gun crimes and the revenue generated will be dedicated to public safety initiatives.

President Preckwinkle, long an advocate of common sense gun laws, previously supported and passed a $25 tax on gun sales in Cook County. She has advocated for legislation that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require registration of existing firearms and require background checks on all firearms sales at gun shows — commonly referred to as the “gun show loophole.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Tax law-abiding firearm owners in Cook County for the actions of criminals? Yeah, that makes a lot of “common sense.” You see, felons and other convicted criminals can’t purchase ammunition legally in Cook County, because they shouldn’t be able to get an Illinois State Police-issued Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. From the Illinois State Police, Firearm Services Bureau website:

Unless specifically exempted by statute, any Illinois resident who acquires or possesses firearms, firearm ammunition, tasers or stun guns within the State must have in their possession a valid FOID card issued in his or her name…

To be eligible for a FOID card, a person must be 21 years of age or have a parent or guardian sponsor that is eligible for a FOID card. An applicant must not be prohibited from possessing firearms in accordance with state or federal law. This requires the applicant is/has:

• Not been convicted of a felony…
• Not subject to an existing order of protection.
• Not been convicted within the past 5 years of battery, assault, aggravated assault, violation of an order of protection, or a substantially similar offense in another jurisdiction, in which a firearm was used or possessed.
• Not been convicted of domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery, or a substantially similar offense in another jurisdiction…
• Not convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence…

So what’s President Preckwinkle’s goal from a Cook County ammo tax then? My guess is gun “safety.” Something tells me we’ll be seeing the county in court if they decide to pursue this matter.

Illinois

Illinois Open Range Program To Be Held On November 14

Speaking of guns and the Illinois State Police, it’s that time of year again in the “Land of Lincoln.” From the website of central Illinois NBC affiliate WAND 17 on Friday:

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with Illinois State Police to promote hunting safety through the annual Open Range Program on November 14.

Officials say hunters and observers will be invited to ISP ranges in order to check the sighting in their shotguns…

Ranges in Effingham, Pawnee, Pittsfield, Macomb, Joliet, and LaSalle will be open for the program from 8 AM until 4 PM this coming Saturday. For more information, head on over to WAND 17’s website here.

International

Greece’s Government Confiscating Contents Of Bank Safe Deposit Boxes?

Last week, I was working on my offshore asset protection-related projects quite a bit. And here’s something disturbing I noted Friday in a post on Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes that may interest you:

Just when the reputation of bank safe deposit boxes couldn’t get any worse comes this out of Greece. Anthee Carasavva reported on The Times (UK) website back on October 12:

Greece’s government is raiding savers’ safe deposit boxes to raise revenue and stamp out tax evasion.

Tryfon Alexiadis, the deputy finance minister, said yesterday that Greeks owing more than €150,000 in back taxes would be targeted. Those suspected of tax evasion would also come under scrutiny and their bank deposit boxes prised open without notice

“Safe deposit boxes across the country will be subject to these inspections immediately,” Mr Alexiadis told an Athens-based TV network…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

It’s being reported that the tax inspectors could seize half of the cash found, and stocks, bonds, jewelry, and works of art. You can read the entire post in its entirety here on my other blog.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Fusco, Chris and Novak, Tim. “THE WATCHDOGS: A third of Chicago city workers make $100k or more.” Chicago Sun-Times. 7 Nov. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/1072015/city-haul-3-of-10-chicago-city-workers-make-100000-a-year). 8 Nov. 2015.

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SP Intel Report- October 26, 2015

Welcome to the inaugural post of the “SP Intel Report.” On October 15 I blogged big changes were coming to Survival And Prosperity starting October 19. I wrote:

Each day will begin with an “SP Intel Report” (if it’s warranted), where I’ll be focusing on current events locally (Chicagoland area), nationwide, and overseas which I think readers should be aware of…

As luck would have it, my computer crashed October 19, delaying the implementation of these changes.

One week later, I’ve managed to repair my laptop, and I’m back in the saddle again.

So off we go then…

Chicago

“If City Hall ‘loses’ downtown to the bad guys… you lose the tourists, their money, revenue… you get the point.”

Survival And Prosperity, May 4, 2011

The Chicago news media is reporting that two tourists from Minneapolis were robbed at knifepoint by three men near Oak Street Beach late Saturday evening. The male victim was stabbed during the holdup while trying to protect his girlfriend. Two of Chicago’s more upstanding residents have been charged with the crime (police are still looking for a third individual).

The last time I blogged about a tourist getting knifed downtown was back during the 2012 holiday season. Even though it’s been a while, I fear we’ll be hearing of similar incidents with increased regularity as the city’s financial health deteriorates and the Chicago Police Department keeps receiving lip service but not bodies (meaning manpower).

There will probably be plenty of the other based on recent trends.

Note to self. Study up on defense against knives.

Illinois

Speaking of deteriorating financial health, the State of Illinois was hammered by two of the major credit rating agencies in the past week. On October 19, Fitch Ratings announced in a press release:

Fitch Ratings has downgraded the rating on $26.8 billion in outstanding Illinois general obligation (GO) bonds to ‘BBB+’ from ‘A-‘.

In addition, the ratings on bonds related to the state based on its appropriation have been downgraded to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB+’…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Three days later, Moody’s Investors Service stated in a release:

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the State of Illinois’ $26.8 billion of general obligation bonds to Baa1 from A3, while also lowering ratings on the state’s sales-tax (Build Illinois) bonds to Baa1 from A3, and on the state’s subject to appropriation bonds (issued by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and for the state’s Civic Center program) to Baa2 from Baa1. The outlook for all of these obligations remains negative…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Keep in mind the following observations by Karen Pierog over on the Reuters website on October 22:

Both general obligation bond ratings are now just three steps above the “junk” level… The downgrade by Moody’s marked the 17th by major credit rating agencies for Illinois since 2003… Even before this week’s downgrades, Illinois had the lowest credit ratings among the 50 U.S. states. Ratings histories from the three major credit rating agencies indicate few states have ever had their GO ratings fall below the A level…

Faced with a $105 billion unfunded public pension liability and a bill backlog of around $7 billion, I suspect Illinoisans will be on the hook for some sort of tax hike(s) in the near future.

International

Any Survival And Prosperity readers skeptical about the future existence of the Internet? Personally, I won’t be surprised if it goes kaput one day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m somewhat of a techie (driven by needs, not wants) and love the Internet. But I’m not sold on its staying power due to frailties with its infrastructure. A couple of years ago I remember reading about an elderly Georgian woman accidently cutting off neighboring Armenia’s access to the World Wide Web for up to five hours- using only a spade. And now there’s this from The New York Times website this past Sunday. David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt reported:

Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.

The issue goes beyond old worries during the Cold War that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So the Russians could switch off the Internet. Or a rogue Uncle Sam could do it and blame the Russkies.

I told my girlfriend her brilliant nephew should get into the BBS game. Wave of the future?


“Apple II on a BBS in 2014!”
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Sobol, Rosemary Regina. “$500K, $950K bails set for 2 accused of robbery, stabbing near Oak Street Beach.” Chicago Tribune. 26 Oct. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-police-2-held-following-armed-robbery-stabbing-near-oak-street-beach-20151026-story.html). 26 Oct. 2015.

Pierog, Karen. “UPDATE 2-Illinois bond rating cut again over budget impasse.” Reuters. 22 Oct. 2015. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/22/illinois-downgrade-moodys-idUSL1N12M2L120151022). 26 Oct. 2015.

Sanger, David E. and Schmitt, Eric. “Russian Ships Near Data Cables Are Too Close for U.S. Comfort.” The New York Times. 25 Oct. 2015. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/world/europe/russian-presence-near-undersea-cables-concerns-us.html?_r=1). 26 Oct. 2015.

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Peter Schiff: ‘The Whole U.S. Economy Is One Gigantic Bubble At This Point’

Back to finance and investing matters. In 2012, “crash prophet” Peter Schiff predicted Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve would attempt to inflate another asset bubble to revive the U.S. economy.

The CEO and chief global strategist of Euro Pacific Capital underestimated how successful they would be- in terms of inflating multiple bubbles.

Schiff, who correctly called the housing bust and 2008 economic crisis, was on the phone with Free Talk Live discussing the student loan bubble last Sunday when he told listeners:

I think we have a much bigger bubble. The bubble in student loans is a small part of what’s actually going on. The government has managed to reflate the housing bubble, the stock market bubble, but we have a bond market bubble, a dollar bubble, a consumer loan bubble. The whole U.S. economy is one gigantic bubble at this point. That’s all we’ve got left. And that’s why interest rates have been at zero percent for almost seven years because the Fed is desperately trying to keep the air in these bubbles. It doesn’t want them to deflate. It doesn’t want to pop them. That’s why I don’t believe they’re actually planning on raising interest rates. I think they recognize that they cannot prick this bubble because it will be much worse than the bursting of the housing bubble or the dot-com bubble. But there is no avoiding this. The government has created this disaster and there’s no way around it. They’re just trying whatever they can to delay the inevitable. But because they’ve succeeded in delaying it, they’ve just made it much, much worse. It’s going to be a lot worse. So people really have to protect themselves from this. More so than I think in past crises…

Owning gold is one way to protect yourself. But people should also diversify. They shouldn’t only have gold. But they should definitely have some gold. But they should also invest internationally.


“The US Economy Is One Giant Bubble”
YouTube Video

Schiff later warned:

So there’s a lot, I think, that’s going to happen to really upend the status quo. And I think a lot people are going to go broke in this next crisis. And if you’re not prepared for it, you could suffer that fate. So I think it’s more important now, even than with the dot-com bubble or the housing bubble because this one is going to have much more profound consequences for typical Americans when it bursts. I think we’re going to see a big loss of value of the dollar, not just internationally and not just for tourists going to Europe. But as Americans try to buy things here in America. Things that they used to be able to afford are going to be completely unaffordable for the vast majority of Americans.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Analysts: Massive Chicago Property Tax Hike Just The Beginning

“And if Chicagoans think this major tax increase is some sort of one-off, well, I know of a certain bridge for sale out east.”

Survival And Prosperity, September 3, 2015

Chicago readers of this blog have been warned the last couple of years that the City of Chicago’s poor financial health means a sustained hunt for much more revenue (new and higher fees/fines/taxes) for the foreseeable future.

And Tuesday, this grim-yet-likely scenario was the focus of a City Club of Chicago luncheon.

Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday afternoon:

A $500 million property tax increase will not be enough to solve Chicago’s $30 billion pension crisis or rid the city of the junk bond rating that has saddled the taxpayers with tens of millions in penalties and borrowing costs, analysts concluded Tuesday.

Civic Federation President Laurence Msall and Matt Fabian, a partner at Municipal Market Analytics, offered the grim assessment during a lively panel discussion on city finances before a packed house at a City Club of Chicago luncheon…

Fabian’s conclusion was that, as tough as it will be for homeowners and their aldermen to swallow a $500 million property tax increase, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council need to bite the bullet even harder

Msall agreed that a $500 million increase that would be Chicago’s “largest in modern history” is “not the full answer and it’s not going to be enough because we’ve dug the hole so deeply” by underfunding pensions and granting benefits that taxpayers cannot afford.

“We are going to have raise taxes very significantly just to pay the interest on the debt we have built up and it’s not going to be enough to save the city of Chicago,” he said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Still interested in that bridge?

Head on over to the Chicago Sun-Times website here to read- no, digest- what looks to be in store for the “Windy City” in the coming years.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Jim Rogers: ‘You Should Be Prepared, You Should Be Knowledgeable, And You Should Be Worried’

Well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers recently talked to J.D. Hayworth, the host of the Newsmax TV show Newsmax Prime, about a number of topics, including what he suspects the Federal Reserve will do the next time there’s panic on Wall Street. From the exchange published on the Newsmax website tonight:

What’s going to happen is every time people start calling up and panicking they’re going to do something. I don’t know what they’ll do next. They’ll buy more shares. Or they’ll buy shares, they’ll buy more bonds, they’ll do something. And then we’ll have another big rally. But J.D., that’s going to be the last rally. Maybe they can save the market one more time. But the world is starting to give up on all this artificial money printing. It’s happening in Japan, Europe, Britain, and America. It’s never happened before in recorded history that all the major central banks are printing a lot of money. This is not going to end well, J.D. You should be prepared, you should be knowledgeable, and you should be worried

We’ve had economic slowdowns every four to seven years since the beginning of the Republic. We’re going to have them again. It’s been six years since the last time. So start getting worried. Maybe it’ll be seven, maybe it’ll be eight years this time, but it’s going to come…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The former investing partner of George Soros went on to address Hayworth’s question regarding “three main things that need to happen to avert economic gloom-and-doom if possible.” You can watch the entire discussion over on the Newsmax website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Must-Read Marc Faber Interview

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know on Sundays I try and blog about the latest investment activities/recommendations of the “crash prophets”- Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff. This week, three of the “prophets” are sounding off. First up is Marc Faber. An interview of the Swiss-born investment advisor/money manager was published Friday on the website of MarcoPolis, a Paris-based international online publishing company. Johnnes Maierhofer and Peter Matay conducted one of the most comprehensive interviews of Dr. Faber I’ve ever come across, writing on MarcoPolis.net:

In this exclusive interview with Marcopolis.net Marc Faber covers it all: from commodities and China to the outlook on inflation, the Euro and gold. According to him the global economy is not healing. To the contrary, we might find ourselves back into recession within six months or a year. In that case he expects more money printing by central banks, which eventually could lead to high inflation rates and renewed strength in commodity prices.

On the bright side, he sees great economic potential in Vietnam. Also, the Iraqi stock market has good potential now that a deal with Iran has been reached. While mining stocks are extremely depressed we might see defaults before any meaningful recovery…

Followers of Faber know he’s been a gold bull for years now. The publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report said this about the precious metal (and other investments of his) during the exchange:

I own gold and it doesn’t worry me that it went down because as I mentioned to you I have this diversification, the bonds in US dollars and the cash in US dollars has been a good investment essentially over the last twelve months. Then I own equities and I own properties in Asia that have been reasonably good investments so the fact that gold is going down doesn’t worry me and I buy every month a little bit but I think on this weakness I will increase the position substantially because I had maybe say 25% in gold but because equities and properties went up, the dollar went up and gold went down, the allocation to gold is no longer 25% but maybe only 10 or 15%.

So then I have to stock it up again. But I would say an individual should definitely own some physical gold…

“Doctor Doom” believes gold confiscation is a possibility, and added later in the discussion:

I think they will take the gold away and go back to some gold standard by revaluing the gold say from now 1000 dollars an oz. to say 10,000 dollars an oz…

A “must-read” interview for Faber followers, which you can access in its entirety on MarcoPolis.net here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Judge Rules Chicago’s Pension Reform Legislation Unconstitutional

Here’s the latest on Chicago’s public pension crisis. Hal Dardick and Rick Pearson reported on the Chicago Tribune website last night:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration said it will appeal a Cook County judge’s decision Friday that ruled unconstitutional a state law reducing municipal worker pension benefits in exchange for a city guarantee to fix their underfunded retirement systems.

The 35-page ruling by Judge Rita Novak, slapping down the city’s arguments point by point, could have wide-ranging effects if upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court. Her decision appeared to also discredit efforts at the state and Cook County levels to try to curb pension benefits to rein in growing costs that threaten funding for government services.

The issue of underfunded pensions, and how to restore their financial health, is crucial for the city and its taxpayers. The city workers and laborers funds at issue in Friday’s ruling are more than $8 billion short of what’s needed to meet obligations — and are at risk of going broke within 13 years — after many years of low investment returns fueled by recession and inadequate funding.

Without reducing benefits paid to retired workers, or requiring current workers to pay more, taxpayers could eventually be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars more in annual payments to those city funds — before the even worse-funded police and fire retirement accounts are factored into the taxing equation

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Chicagoans- let that last line from Dardick and Pearson sink in real good:

“Taxpayers could eventually be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars more in annual payments to those city funds — before the even worse-funded police and fire retirement accounts are factored into the taxing equation…”

And the City’s response to the ruling? Mayor Emanuel’s Press Office countered Friday:

Statement of City of Chicago Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton on SB1922

“While we are disappointed by the trial court’s ruling, we have always recognized that this matter will ultimately be resolved by the Illinois Supreme Court. We now look forward to having our arguments heard there. We continue to strongly believe that the City’s pension reform legislation, unlike the State legislation held unconstitutional this past spring, does not diminish or impair pension benefits, but rather preserves and protects them. This law not only rescues the municipal and laborer pension funds from certain insolvency, but ensures that, over time, they will be fully funded and the 61,000 affected City workers and retirees will receive the pensions they were promised.”

As to the City of Chicago’s credit rating possibly getting whacked after the decision? Timothy W. Martin reported on The Wall Street Journal website Friday afternoon:

Moody’s said Friday’s ruling had no effect on Chicago’s bond grade. But rival Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, which currently has an investment-grade rating for the city, said that “regardless of the ultimate outcome” of Mr. Emanuel’s pension law, it “will likely lower” its Chicago rating in the next six months, unless city leaders chart out a solution to address its pension problems.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Like I’ve been saying for a couple years now, that proverbial brick wall keeps approaching for Chicago.

Since City Hall can’t get its affairs in order, Chicagoans might want to look at straightening out theirs if they intend to stick around for the long haul.

Sources:

Dardick, Hal and Pearson, Rick. “Judge finds city’s changes to pension funds unconstitutional.” Chicago Tribune. 24 July 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-chicago-pension-ruling-met-20150724-story.html). 25 July 2015.

Martin, Timothy W. “Chicago’s Pension Overhaul Plan Tossed Out by Judge.” The Wall Street Journal. 24 July 2015. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-rules-2014-law-to-reduce-chicago-pension-shortfall-unconstitutional-1437754525). 25 July 2015.

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S&P Cuts Chicago’s Credit Rating Twice In Less Than 2 Months

Surprise, surprise. The City of Chicago’s credit rating was lowered yet again.

This time, it’s Standard & Poor’s that did the cutting.

Karen Pierog and Tanvi Mehta reported on the Reuters website last night:

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services cut Chicago’s credit rating one notch to BBB-plus with a negative outlook on Wednesday, citing the windy city’s nagging structural budget deficit and the lack of a plan to close it.

S&P analyst John Kenward said the U.S.’ third-largest city needs “a credible, public, detailed plan” to deal with budget gaps projected to grow to $588 million in fiscal 2017, largely due to escalating contributions to its police and fire fighter retirement funds.

S&P also warned Chicago’s general obligation bond rating may fall further if a credible plan does not surface within six months…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

According to the S&P website, “BBB” indicates:

Adequate protection parameters. However, adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity of the obligor to meet its financial commitment on the obligation.

It was less than two months ago that Standard & Poor’s last downgraded the City of Chicago’s credit rating. I blogged on May 17:

Standard & Poor’s joined in on the downgrade parade later in the week. From a press release Friday:

Chicago, IL GO Bond Ratings Lowered To #A-# From #A+#, Placed On CreditWatch Due To Short-Term Liquidity Pressure
CHICAGO–15 May–Standard & Poor’s

CHICAGO (Standard & Poor’s) May 14, 2015–Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services lowered its rating to ‘A-‘ from ‘A+’ on the city of Chicago’s outstanding general obligation (GO) bonds, and placed the ratings on CreditWatch with negative implications…

Stay tuned…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Mehta, Tanvi and Pierog, Karen. “UPDATE 1-S&P downgrades Chicago’s GO bond rating to BBB-plus.” Reuters. 8 July 2015. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/08/usa-chicago-sp-idUSL3N0ZO60H20150708). 9 July 2015.

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