10 Tipping Points Which Could Potentially Plunge The World Into A Horrific Economic Nightmare

The global economy has become so incredibly unstable at this point that it is not going to take much to plunge the world into a horrific economic nightmare.  The foundations of the world economic system are so decayed and so corrupted that even a stiff breeze could potentially topple the entire structure over.  Over the past couple of months a constant parade of bad economic news has come streaming in from Europe, Asia and the United States.  Signs of an impending economic slowdown are everywhere.  So what “tipping point” will trigger the next global economic downturn?  Nobody knows for sure, but potential tipping points are all around us. Today, the global economic system is even more vulnerable than it was back in 2008.  Virtually none of the systemic problems that contributed to the 2008 collapse have been fixed. Mark Mobius, the head of the emerging markets desk at Templeton Asset Management, was recently was quoted in Forbes as saying the following….

“There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis.”

The “financial reform” law that Barack Obama and the Congress passed a while back was a complete and total joke.  They might as well have written the law on toilet paper for all the good that it is doing. We did not learn from our mistakes and our future economic lessons are going to be even more painful. The world is drowning in a mountain of debt, the global financial system is packed to the gills with toxic derivatives, everyone is leveraged to the hilt and the dominoes could start falling at any time. I am not the only one that is warning that another financial collapse is coming.  In fact, a whole lot of people have been warning about the next financial collapse lately. So what will the tipping point for the next collapse be? The following are some potential nominees….

Tipping Point #1: Syria Syria is a situation to watch very, very closely.  The Syrian government is in a lot of trouble right now.  Sadly, the instability inside Syria probably makes war with Israel even more likely. Make no mistake – a war between Israel and Syria has been brewing for a long, long time and at some point it will happen.  When it happens, the entire Middle East may erupt in warfare. Just the other day, a very troubling incident happened in the area around the Golan Heights.  The following is an excerpt from a report by The Daily Mail about the incident….

“About 20 pro-Palestinian demonstrators were killed and 325 injured yesterday when Israeli forces opened fire on them as they crossed the border from Syria into occupied territories, according to reports.”

At this point, the Syrian government is probably glad that the attention has been taken off of them at least for a while.  The Syrian government has been getting a lot of bad press lately.  The following is an excerpt from a recent report by Human Rights Watch about the treatment of protesters inside Syria….

“The methods of torture included prolonged beatings with sticks, twisted wires, and other devices; electric shocks administered with Tasers and electric batons; use of improvised metal and wooden ‘racks’; and, in at least one case documented by Human Rights Watch, the rape of a male detainee with a baton. “Interrogators and guards also subjected detainees to various forms of humiliating treatment, such as urinating on the detainees, stepping on their faces, and making them kiss the officers’ shoes. Several detainees said they were repeatedly threatened with imminent execution.”

So in light of the “precedent” that we recently set in Libya, does this mean that we will be “forced” to conduct a “humanitarian mission” inside Syria as well? Syria is one tipping point that we all need to keep a close eye on.

Tipping Point #2: Iran The Iranian nuclear program is in the news again. A new report by RAND Corporation researcher Gregory S. Jones claims that Iran could have a nuclear weapon within 2 months.  His report is based on recent findings by the International Atomic Energy Agency.  According to Jones, airstrikes alone would be incapable of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program at this point.  Instead, Jones says that a “military occupation” would be required. It is a minor miracle that a war with Iran has not erupted yet.  It seems almost inevitable that at some point either the United States or Israel will use military force to try to stop Iran’s nuclear program. When that happens, it is going to cause a major shock to the global economy.

Tipping Point #3: Libya NATO has made it abundantly clear that Moammar Gadhafi will no longer be tolerated.  In fact, NATO apparently plans to reduce Tripoli to a heap of smoking ruins if that is what it takes to bring about the fall of Gadhafi. What a “humanitarian mission” we have going in Libya, eh?  It turns out that NATO believes that the United Nations gave it permission to bomb television stations and to make attack runs with helicopters. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov recently said that by using attack helicopters, NATO has moved dangerously close to turning the Libya operation into a ground invasion….

“Using attack helicopters, in my view, is the last but one step before the land operation.”

So why is Libya a potential tipping point? It isn’t because Gadhafi is a threat.  He is toast. It is because the rest of the world is watching what is happening in Libya, and that is raising global tensions. Even if Gadhafi falls, the Libyan operation will still be a failure because it has brought us all significantly closer to World War III.

Tipping Point #4: More Revolutions In The Middle East The revolutions throughout the Middle East earlier this year sent oil prices absolutely skyrocketing and they have remained at elevated levels. And in case you haven’t noticed, revolutions continue to sweep the Middle East. Have you seen what has been happening in Yemen lately? Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has burns over 40% of his body and he has suffered a collapsed lung as a result of a recent attack. If violence and protests throughout the Middle East become even more intense as the weather warms up this summer that could have a very significant impact on world financial markets.

Tipping Point #5: Fukushima The mainstream news has gotten a bit tired of covering it, but the situation at Fukushima is still a complete and total disaster. Japan’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters admitted on Monday that three reactors experienced “full meltdowns” in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in March. Did it really take them nearly three months to figure this out, or were they lying to the rest of the world all of this time? The truth is that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima is far worse than the mainstream media has been telling us.  If you doubt this, just check out this excellent article or this article by Natural News: “Land around Fukushima now radioactive dead zone; resembles target struck by atomic bomb“. The economic impact of the Fukushima disaster is going to continue to unfold over an extended period of time.  It turns out that Japan is now officially in a recession.  Their economy contracted at a 3.7 percent annualized rate during the first quarter. Look for more bad economic numbers to come out of Japan for the rest of the year.  Considering the fact that the Japanese economy is the third largest economy in the world, the fact that they are struggling so badly right now is not a good sign for the rest of us.

Tipping Point #6: Oil Prices The price of oil is going to continue to be one of the biggest economic stories for the rest of this year and for 2012 as well. The last time U.S. energy expenditures were over 9 percent of GDP was in 2008 and we quickly plunged into the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Well, we have reached the significant 9 percent figure once again in 2011, and many fear that once again high oil prices will cause another major economic decline.

Tipping Point #7: Government Austerity In the United States, it is not just the federal government that is drowning in debt. All over America, there are state and local governments that are financial basket cases. I don’t always agree with the time frames that Meredith Whitney puts out there, but she is absolutely correct that we are going to see a massive municipal bond crisis. The following is an excerpt from a recent report about Whitney’s predictions on CNN….

“Meredith Whitney is issuing a fresh warning to mutual funds, banks, and politicians: The state of state finances is far worse than what you think, or at least than what you’ve been willing to tell the investors and taxpayers who will eventually carry the burden.”

Many state and local governments are attempting to get their budgets balanced by making huge budget cuts.  But most of the time these austerity programs also include the elimination of a lot of government jobs. UBS Investment Research is projecting that state and local governments will combine to slash a whopping 450,000 jobs by the end of next year. So where will the half a million good jobs come from to replace all of those lost jobs?

Tipping Point #8: The European Sovereign Debt Crisis Greece is just the tip of the iceberg in Europe. Moody’s downgraded Greek debt again last Wednesday.  This time Moody’s downgraded Greek debt by three levels all the way down to Caa1.  At this point, the yield on 10-year Greek bonds is over 15 percent. The EU has been going crazy trying to deal with the Greek debt crisis.  The truth is that a default by the Greek government would be absolutely catastrophic. If you do not understand the kind of chaos a Greek default would set off on world financial markets, just read this editorial. But Greece is not the only major European nation with a massive debt problem. The government of Ireland is already indicating that they may need another bailout. Portugal, Spain and Italy are also on the verge of collapse. So will the EU bail all of these nations out for years and years to come? At some point will the whole house of cards come crashing down? Everyone needs to keep watching what is going on in Europe.  The status quo is not sustainable and it cannot go on forever.

Tipping Point #9: The Dying U.S. Dollar The euro is not the only major currency that is in trouble. The U.S. dollar is also slowly dying. On April 18th, Standard & Poor’s altered its outlook on U.S. government debt from “stable” to “negative” and warned that the U.S. could soon lose its prized AAA rating. The sad truth is that faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. Treasuries is rapidly declining.  The mainstream news is not reporting on it much, but right now the Chinese are rapidly dumping U.S. government debt. As the dollar declines, so will the purchasing power of average Americans.  We are already seeing a tremendous amount of inflation in 2011. But this is just the beginning. A lot worse is going to be coming down the road.

Tipping Point #10: Drought A lot of people that read my articles doubt that we will ever see a major global food crisis. But one is coming. It is just a matter of time. Even now, many areas of the world are experiencing very serious droughts.  The following is from a recent  Bloomberg article….

Parts of China, the biggest grower, had the least rain in a century, some European regions are the driest in 50 years and almost half the winter-wheat crop in the U.S., the largest exporter, is rated poor or worse. Inventory is dropping 8.8 percent, the most in five years, Rabobank International says. Prices will advance 20 percent to as high as $9.25 a bushel by Dec. 31, a Bloomberg survey of 14 analysts and traders shows.

Are you concerned yet? You should be. But if you prefer some mindless pablum that will make you feel better, we have some of that for you too. Larry Summers, the former director of the National Economic Council under Barack Obama, recently told CNBC the following….

“We definitely hit a slower patch, but I think the basic fact that the terrible financial strains we had are abating, remains in place, and I expect this recovery to continue for a substantial period of time.”

Does that make you feel better? Larry Summers says that everything is going to be okay. It would be great if Summers was actually right, but sadly he is not. In fact, the worst economic times that America has ever seen are ahead. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent interview with Dmitry Orlov about the coming economic collapse that was posted on shtfplan.com….

First you have financial collapse, which is basically the volume of debt that has to be taken on in order for the economy to continue functioning, cannot continue. We’re seeing that right now in Greece, we’re probably going to see that in Japan, we’re definitely at a point now in the United States where even if you raised the income tax to 100 percent, there’s absolutely no way of covering the liabilities of the U.S. federal government. So, we’re at that point now but the workout of the financial collapse is not all quite there. We don’t quite have a worthless currency but that’s in the works. That, of course, is followed by commercial collapse especially in a country like the United States that imports two thirds of its oil. A lot of that is on credit and if a little bit of that oil goes missing then the economy starts to fall apart because nothing moves unless you burn oil in the United States and, of course, a lot of goods that are sold everywhere are imported again, on credit.

When the U.S. dollar dies and our financial system collapses we are not going to be able to get all of the things that we need from the rest of the world so cheaply any longer. That is going to cause fundamental changes inside the United States. Right now, the economic news just seems to get worse and worse, but this is just the beginning. What is eventually going to happen in this country is going to be so nightmarish that most Americans could not even imagine it right now. So are our leaders doing anything to prepare for the coming economic crisis? No, they are too busy with other things. The big political news of the day was U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner finally admitting that he sent out lewd photos of himself over Twitter to women that he was not married to. We have become the laughingstock of the world and the economic collapse has not even happened yet.

Michael Snyder is the editor of The Economic Collapse Blog

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  • judson

    we need to give grants to people willing to grow moso bamboo for ethanol. we have ethanol plants being produced in several parts of the country. its now a viable energy source. we should help people to get into farms that will be able to supply larger ethanol factories… this could keep billions of dollars in America from going to the middle east.

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  • C Gordon

    While I don’t want to downplay the potential impact of the events that are mentioned here, what bothers me is the headline grabbing statement “Horrific Economic Nightmare” bit. Just what does this “Horrific Economic Nightmare” look like, and where? Starvation? No electricity, or power rates so hard that people huddle together in the dark, fighting over scraps of flesh of unknown origin, where rat and pigeon are what those who haven’t resorted to status as C.H.U.D. in order to survive? Or is this economic hell look more like extended families living in smaller houses, and eating a lot more ramen and rice and beans?
    I don’t know what the new economic order will look like, and I do believe that the American Lifestyle is going to change dramatically from what it was say fifteen years ago, but I am wondering what passes for “horrific” nowadays.

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  • Never despair. Think of this as a creative solution: the already wealthy should colonize Alaska with condominiums(having porches from which you can see Russia). Build airports and high-speed railroads to connect hot places with cool places. Relocate Washington, D.C., Chicago and NYC to the cooler north.

    Change the sales propaganda from advertisements of the tropical islands in winter to Alaskan forests and cold-lake swimming spas in summer. Sell people on spending their all for long-distance travel and vacations to the climates of their choice.

    Instead of building ski slopes in Dubai, fix the travel rates low to get from the desert to the Alaskan Aleutians.

    Get all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men working toward rolling the egg away from the edge. There’s money to be made on the tundra!

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  • Rod

    You know, it’s amazing how many people live in denial of so much.
    eg “Overpopulation isn’t a problem” they say,but if they have to actually BACK their opinion with just one fact, they can’t. Bottom line – their opinions are pretty much wishful thinking or unfounded optimism.
    Pessimism is one thing but what we have in the world today is reality. The global economy IS collapsing.
    There ARE global food bowl crises right now which is why food prices are skyrocketing globally.
    These are NOT scare-mongering or conspiracy theory events – they are demonstrable reality and that is what people need to understand.
    The reason they don’t understand is that they haven’t made the slightest effort to learn and be informed.
    We, the informed ones, have reached the point where we can’t afford to continue wasting our time trying to educate the masses. They have had every chance to listen, learn and wake up. If they choose not to so be it – they have made their own future.

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  • I have got news for The Daily Mail. The Golan Heights are no longer either occupied or disputed territories. In 1981 Israeli Civil Law was applied to the Golan which granted all of its approximately 20,000 non-Jewish residents citizenship in Israel. The Golan can never be given back. It is too small to even partially withdraw from either. The situation where Syrian gunners can lob bombs on Jewish communities in the Hula Valley ended in days 5 and 6 of the 6 Day War in 1967. The Daily Mail, being a British publication, should stick their hypocritical head where the sun does not shine. In the same situation, the British would have killed 100 people. such arrogant pigs

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  • Alex

    Everything is happening as it should. Im going to enjoy this summer, because the winter is going to be of our discontent.

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  • Alice

    Good article. It is so sad that this is all very true.

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  • S Baker

    Excellent article. Pretty much a prediction of what is coming down the pike. Obamugabe will destroy our economy while he continues to live like a king.

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