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America After Dark: Desperate Meth Heads, Rampant Human Trafficking And Millions Of Criminal Predators Searching For A New Victim

When the sun goes down every night, America becomes a very frightening place.  There are communities all over the country where drug dealing, human trafficking and gang violence have gotten so out of control that authorities don’t really know what to do about it.  In America tonight, thousands of meth heads will break into homes as they desperately search for enough money for another hit.  In America tonight, thousands of children will be sold for sex at truck stops and […]

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When the sun goes down every night, America becomes a very frightening place.  There are communities all over the country where drug dealing, human trafficking and gang violence have gotten so out of control that authorities don’t really know what to do about it.  In America tonight, thousands of meth heads will break into homes as they desperately search for enough money for another hit.  In America tonight, thousands of children will be sold for sex at truck stops and on street corners.  In America tonight, millions of criminal predators will be searching for a new victim.  From the top levels of the federal government all the way down to the most depraved criminals on the street, America is rotting.  Once upon a time our tremendous affluence masked the moral decay that was happening in this nation, but now that the economy is falling apart the damage to the fabric of our society is being revealed.  We have become a nation of addicts, junkies, thrill seekers and predators.  When we finally see the U.S. economy fully collapse, millions of desperate, angry and depraved monsters will take out their sick frustrations on all the rest of us.

It isn’t talked a lot about anymore, but the meth epidemic in America is getting worse.  According to PBS, there are approximately 1.4 million meth users in America.  Meth is unbelievable addictive and it can absolutely destroy your life.  If you doubt this, just check out these before and after pictures.

Sadly, there are indications that meth use is on the rise once again.  According to the DEA, meth seizures increased from 2,839 in 2007 to 6,168 in 2010.

When you take meth, it can literally make you crazy.  The following is from a recent USA Today article….

A mother in Bakersfield, California, was sentenced Tuesday for stabbing her newborn while in a meth rage. An Oklahoma woman drowned her baby in a washing machine in November. A New Mexico woman claiming to be God stabbed her son with a screwdriver last month, saying, “God wants him dead.”

Large numbers of meth addicts turn into thieves when they run out of money.  Often, they will steal just about anything they can in order to get money for their next hit.  Some things that meth addicts have stolen recently include agricultural plumbing, copper wiring and lawn sprinklers.

And making meth can be extremely dangerous as well.  U.S. hospitals are filled with thousands and thousands of uninsured burn patients that were horribly burned while trying to make “shake and bake” meth.

The following comes from a recent Daily Mail article….

It is filling hospitals with thousands of uninsured burn patients requiring millions of dollars in advanced treatment – a burden so costly that it is contributing to the closure of some burns units.

So-called ‘shake-and-bake’ meth is produced by combining raw, unstable ingredients in a two-litre bottle.

But if the person mixing the noxious brew makes the slightest error, such as removing the cap too soon or accidentally perforating the plastic, the concoction can explode, searing flesh and causing permanent disfigurement, blindness or even death.

A survey of key hospitals in America’s most-active meth states showed that up to a third of patients in some burns units were hurt while making meth, and most were uninsured.

But of course meth is just one of the highly addictive drugs that are plaguing our youth.  There are many other nightmarish drugs that could also be discussed.  Nearly every community in America is dealing with some sort of a drug problem, and despite the “war on drugs” this crisis just seems to keep getting worse every single year.

Perhaps even more alarming is the rise of human trafficking in America.

When I was going through school, I was taught that slavery had been abolished in the United States.

But that was a lie.

Right now, thousands upon thousands of Americans are living as slaves.  Most of them are sex slaves.  As you read this, there are women all over America that are literally chained to beds in dark rooms where men pay their “owners” to have sex with them.

The following stats about human trafficking come from a recent Detroit Free Press article….

• Human trafficking is a $32-billion industry worldwide.

• Up to 2 million people are trafficked worldwide every year. Of those, 15,000-18,000 are in the U.S.

• Eight in 10 human trafficking cases involve the sex industry; the others involve labor trafficking.

• In 2010, 2,515 human trafficking cases were under investigation in the U.S.

• Eighty-three percent of victims in confirmed sex trafficking cases in the U.S. in 2010 were American citizens

Many Americans would be absolutely horrified to learn what goes on behind closed doors in America.

All over the nation tonight, vicious monsters will be selling or “renting” young children to other vicious monsters for sex.

The following story of one human trafficking victim comes from a recent Fox News article….

Today, Keisha Head is a wife and mother of three. But more than decade ago, she was the victim of a notorious human trafficker.

At 16-years old, Head says she was being sold on the streets of Atlanta for sex.

“I did not know that a normal, average man who was a preacher, who was a lawyer, who was a senator – could turn into this monster,” Head said. “That is the scariest moment when you are amongst people who claim to be normal yet they purchase you and they turn into these monsters. They rape you. They beat you. And then act as if they’re normal. These are not your normal pedophiles.”

When you push morality out of the schools and out of public life, this is the kind of thing that starts happening.

Thousands upon thousands of other women “work for themselves” on the streets of America.  Some are willing to let strangers have sex with them for next to nothing.

For example, one woman in Los Angeles was recently arrested for approaching customers at one McDonald’s and offering sexual favors in exchange for Chicken McNuggets.

A lot of really weird stuff happens in America after dark.

As the economy has crumbled, thieves all over the country have become increasingly bold and increasingly desperate.

The following are just a few recent examples….

*In Fresno, California the damage caused by thieves stealing copper wire from city street lights is costing the city approximately $50,000 a month.  So far, about 2,500 street lights have been stripped of their wiring.

*In northern Alabama, one group of crooks has been using a forklift to pull entire ATM machines out of the ground.

*A while back, a team of ambitious thieves in Pennsylvania actually stole an entire 50 foot long bridge.

Other crimes are committed by members of the government.  In Chicago, the bodies of poor people that don’t have enough money to bury themselves are being treated with absolutely no respect at all by government officials.  Just check out what Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says that he found….

“Babies are buried 10, 15 to a box.  They’re buried in there with animal remains.  They’re buried in there with arms and legs from body parts they found during the course of the year.  It is not anything that our county or society should ever sit there and say is acceptable”

Can you imagine that?

What kind of a monster would do such a thing?

Of course I could go on for ages about the sick corruption of our government officials, but that will have to be left for another day.

For now, I want to focus on another rising problem in our society.  As I wrote about the other day, the FBI says that there are now 1.4 million gang members living inside the United States.  That number has risen by an astounding 40 percent since 2009.

Nearly every major U.S. city has areas that are essentially “owned” by gangs.  Some of these gangs are the size of small armies.  For example, it is estimated that the Latin Kings have 18,000 members in the city of Chicago alone.

When civil unrest erupts in America, these organized groups of criminal predators will have a field day.  Even now, law enforcement authorities in many areas of the country are having an incredibly difficult time trying to contain them.

As things fall apart all around us, an increasing number of Americans are coming to the realization that they are not going to be able to depend on someone else to defend themselves and their families.

Perhaps that is why the American people stocked up on firearms at an astounding rate during 2011.

In some areas of the country, a firefight can potentially erupt just about at any time.  The following is from an article that was recently posted on standwitharizona.com….

Barbed wire fencing doesn’t keep illegal aliens off the property anymore. One Starr County, TX rancher doesn’t have time to worry about the illegals these days. He now worries about the smugglers protecting their loads.

“I don’t think they would have any conscience of taking someone’s life,” the rancher says.

He saw that will to kill firsthand. A smuggler shot at him on his own land.

“One round was fired at me, and it missed my head by about two feet,” says the rancher.

He says there’s only way to react.

“Fire all the rounds you have, reload, and do it again,” says the rancher.

We don’t do ourselves any favors by pretending that America is going to somehow turn around and become the safe, friendly place that it used to be.

There are millions of criminal predators in this country today that have little or no conscience.  They don’t care about you, your spouse or your children.  All they care about is feeding their addictions.

In the months and years to come, the economy is going to get worse.  As it does, all of those predators are going to become even more desperate.

Desperate people do desperate things.

America is going to become a very frightening place.  But instead of curling up into a ball and crying about it, the better response is to be strong and courageous and to get prepared the best that you can.

— The Economic Collapse Blog

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Today’s Market Looks Like It Did At The Peaks Before Last 13 Bear Markets

The US stock market today looks a lot like it did at the peak before all 13 previous price collapses. That doesn’t mean that a bear market is imminent, but it does amount to a stark warning against complacency.

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h/t ZeroHedge 

The US stock market today looks a lot like it did at the peak before all 13 previous price collapses. That doesn’t mean that a bear market is imminent, but it does amount to a stark warning against complacency.

The U.S. stock market today is characterized by a seemingly unusual combination of very high valuations, following a period of strong earnings growth, and very low volatility.

What do these ostensibly conflicting messages imply about the likelihood that the United States is headed toward a bear market in stocks?

To answer that question, we must look to past bear markets. And that requires us to define precisely what a bear market entails. The media nowadays delineate a “classic” or “traditional” bear market as a 20% decline in stock prices.

That definition does not appear in any media outlet before the 1990s, and there has been no indication of who established it. It may be rooted in the experience of Oct. 19, 1987, when the stock market dropped by just over 20% in a single day. Attempts to tie the term to the “Black Monday” story may have resulted in the 20% definition, which journalists and editors probably simply copied from one another.

Origin of the ‘20%’ figure

In any case, that 20% figure is now widely accepted as an indicator of a bear market. Where there seems to be less overt consensus is on the time period for that decline. Indeed, those past newspaper reports often didn’t mention any time period at all in their definitions of a bear market. Journalists writing on the subject apparently did not think it necessary to be precise.

In assessing America’s past experience with bear markets, I used that traditional 20% figure, and added my own timing rubric. The peak before a bear market, per my definition, was the most recent 12-month high, and there should be some month in the subsequent year that is 20% lower. Whenever there was a contiguous sequence of peak months, I took the last one.

Referring to my compilation of monthly S&P Composite and related data, I found that there have been just 13 bear markets in the U.S. since 1871. The peak months before the bear markets occurred in 1892, 1895, 1902, 1906, 1916, 1929, 1934, 1937, 1946, 1961, 1987, 2000 and 2007. A couple of notorious stock-market collapses — in 1968-70 and in 1973-74 — are not on the list, because they were more protracted and gradual.

CAPE ratio

Once the past bear markets were identified, it was time to assess stock valuations prior to them, using an indicator that my Harvard colleague John Y. Campbell and I developed in 1988 to predict long-term stock-market returns. The cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings (CAPE) ratio is found by dividing the real (inflation-adjusted) stock index by the average of 10 years of earnings, with higher-than-average ratios implying lower-than-average returns. Our research showed that the CAPE ratio is somewhat effective at predicting real returns over a 10-year period, though we did not report how well that ratio predicts bear markets.

This month, the CAPE ratio in the U.S. is just above 30. That is a high ratio. Indeed, between 1881 and today, the average CAPE ratio has stood at just 16.8. Moreover, it has exceeded 30 only twice during that period: in 1929 and in 1997-2002.

But that does not mean that high CAPE ratios aren’t associated with bear markets. On the contrary, in the peak months before past bear markets, the average CAPE ratio was higher than average, at 22.1, suggesting that the CAPE does tend to rise before a bear market.

Moreover, the three times when there was a bear market with a below-average CAPE ratio were after 1916 (during World War I), 1934 (during the Great Depression) and 1946 (during the post-World War II recession). A high CAPE ratio thus implies potential vulnerability to a bear market, though it is by no means a perfect predictor.

Earnings to the rescue?

To be sure, there does seem to be some promising news. According to my data, real S&P Composite stock earnings have grown 1.8% per year, on average, since 1881. From the second quarter of 2016 to the second quarter of 2017, by contrast, real earnings growth was 13.2%, well above the historical annual rate.

But this high growth does not reduce the likelihood of a bear market. In fact, peak months before past bear markets also tended to show high real earnings growth: 13.3% per year, on average, for all 13 episodes. Moreover, at the market peak just before the biggest ever stock-market drop, in 1929-32, 12-month real earnings growth stood at 18.3%.

Another piece of ostensibly good news is that average stock-price volatility — measured by finding the standard deviation of monthly percentage changes in real stock prices for the preceding year — is an extremely low 1.2%. Between 1872 and 2017, volatility was nearly three times as high, at 3.5%.

Low volatility

Yet, again, this does not mean that a bear market isn’t approaching. In fact, stock-price volatility was lower than average in the year leading up to the peak month preceding the 13 previous U.S. bear markets, though today’s level is lower than the 3.1% average for those periods. At the peak month for the stock market before the 1929 crash, volatility was only 2.8%.

In short, the U.S. stock market today looks a lot like it did at the peaks before most of the country’s 13 previous bear markets. This is not to say that a bear market is guaranteed: Such episodes are difficult to anticipate, and the next one may still be a long way off. And even if a bear market does arrive, for anyone who does not buy at the market’s peak and sell at the trough, losses tend to be less than 20%.

But my analysis should serve as a warning against complacency. Investors who allow faulty impressions of history to lead them to assume too much stock-market risk today may be inviting considerable losses.

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You don’t want to miss this new trend

Over the past six years, U.S. stocks have screamed higher…

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Original Link | The Crux


From Ben Morris, Editor, DailyWealth Trader:

Over the past six years, U.S. stocks have screamed higher…

They’ve doubled the performance of stocks around the rest of the world — a 116% gain compared with a 57% gain (*all numbers in this essay are as of Sept. 12).

But recently, that situation reversed…

Over the past four months, non-U.S. stocks have more than doubled the gains in U.S. stocks (8.5% compared with 4.1%). And yesterday, the market gave us a sign that big gains are likely still to come.

If you’ve been reading DailyWealth Trader (DWT), you know we’ve encouraged readers to own foreign stocks for years…

Mostly, this has been because investors around the world suffer from something called “home-country bias.” Nearly all the businesses they buy are based in their home countries… And they either ignore or fear opportunities outside their countries’ borders.

This hasn’t been a problem for U.S.-based investors lately… But now that foreign stocks are outperforming – and now that U.S. stocks are no longer cheap – it’s an even better idea to put some of your money to work in other markets.

Plus, as I noted above, the market just gave us a sign that the gains in non-U.S. stocks will likely continue…

Yesterday, the MSCI World ex USA Index hit a new one-year high. The index is made up of more than 1,000 businesses based in 22 countries. And in the past, new one-year highs were a great sign.

The table below shows how the index has performed after hitting a one-year high. Over the past 33 years, it has happened more than 600 times.

One year later, the index was higher 76.9% of the time… And the median return was 11.5%. (That means you would have made 11.5% or more exactly half of the occurrences.) You can also see the rate of 10%-plus gains and 5%-plus losses…

dwttable919

These are great odds. Based on history, if you were to buy a basket of non-U.S. stocks today, you would have a 54% chance of making 10% or more over the next year… and just a 14% chance of losing 5% or more.

Compare that with the index’s returns after all periods (essentially, buying the index at random). The average and median returns were lower across all time frames. The chances of a positive return were seven to 10 percentage points lower. The frequency of 10%-plus gains after one year was much lower… And the frequency of 5%-plus losses was much higher.

dwttable2919

History presents a clear picture… Buying non-U.S. stocks after new one-year highs is a good idea.

You can see how a handful of foreign stock funds have performed relative to the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 Index over the past year in the chart below…

0912_spx_globalstocks

All but Greek stocks are at or just shy of new highs.

If you prefer to keep it simple, you can also consider buying a fund like the Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Fund (VEU). It is the largest exchange-traded fund dedicated to diversified non-U.S. stocks. It holds stocks from 54 different countries, with larger weightings in developed markets and smaller weightings in emerging markets.

VEU just hit a new high, too.

If you’ve been dragging your feet on buying foreign stocks, you’ve missed out on great gains lately… But you haven’t “missed the boat.”

Non-U.S. stocks have underperformed U.S. stocks for years. And that situation has started to change only recently. Now that these stocks are hitting new highs, it’s even more likely than before that we’ll see double-digit gains in the year to come.

I strongly recommend you participate.

Regards,

Ben Morris

Crux note: Ben has recommended a few great ways to safely invest in foreign stocks today. So far, his readers are up on all of them – 19%, 31%, 16%, and 1%, respectively. And his top open recommendation just hit 150% since February. For a limited time, you can access all of Ben’s top ideas with a risk-free trial subscription. Get the details right here.

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Today the music stops

After months of preparing financial markets for this news, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to announce that it will finally begin shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

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Today’s the day.

After months of preparing financial markets for this news, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to announce that it will finally begin shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

I know, that probably sound reeeeally boring. A bunch of central bankers talking about their balance sheet.

But it’s phenomenally important. And I’ll explain why-

When the Global Financial Crisis started in 2008, the Federal Reserve (along with just about every central bank in the world) took the unprecedented step of conjuring trillions of dollars out of thin air.

In the Fed’s case, it was roughly $3.5 trillion, about 25% of the size of the entire US economy at the time.

That’s a lot of money.

And after nearly a decade of this free money policy, there is more money in the financial system than ever before.

Economists have a measure for money supply called “M2”. And M2 is at a record high — nearly $9 trillion higher than at the start of the 2008 crisis.

Now, one might expect that, over time, as the population and economy grow, the amount of money in the system would increase.

But even on a per-capita basis, and relative to the size of US GDP, there is more money in the system than there has ever been, at least in the history of modern central banking.

And that has consequences.

One of those consequences is that asset prices have exploded.

Stocks are at all-time highs. Bonds are at all-time highs. Many property markets are at all-time highs. Even the prices of alternative assets like private equity and artwork are at all-time highs.

But isn’t that a good thing?

Well, let’s look at stocks as an example.

As investors, we trade our hard-earned savings for shares of a [hopefully] successful, well-managed business.

That’s what stocks represent– ownership interests in businesses. So investors are ultimately buying a share of a company’s net assets, profits, and free cash flow.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Let’s look at Exxon Mobil…

In 2006, the last full year before the Federal Reserve started any monetary shenanigans, Exxon reported $365 billion in revenue, profit (net income) of nearly $40 billion and free cash flow (i.e. the money that’s available to pay out to shareholders) of $33.8 billion.

At the time, the company had $6.6 billion in debt.

Ten years later, Exxon’s full-year 2016 revenue was $226 billion, net income was $7.8 billion, free cash flow was $5.9 billion and the company had an unbelievable debt level of $28.9 billion.

In other words, compared to its performance in 2006, Exxon’s 2016 revenue dropped nearly 40%, due to the decline in oil prices.

Plus its profits and free cash flow collapsed by more than 80%. And debt skyrocketed by over 4x.

So what do you think happened to the stock price over this period?

It must have gone down, right? I mean… if investors are essentially paying for a share of the business’ profits, and those profits are 80% less, then the share of the business should also decline.

Except — that’s not what happened. Exxon’s stock price at the end of 2006 was around $75. By the end of 2016 it was around $90, 20% higher.

And it’s not just Exxon. This same curiosity fits to many of the largest companies in the world.

General Electric reported $13.9 billion in free cash flow in 2006. Last year’s free cash flow was NEGATIVE.

Plus, the company’s book value, i.e. its ‘net worth’, plummeted from $122 billion in 2006 to $77 billion in 2016.

So investors’ share of the free cash flow is essentially worthless, while their share of the net assets has also fallen dramatically.

GE’s stock was actually down slightly in 2016 compared to 2006. But the minor stock decline is nothing compared to the train wreck in the company’s financial statements.

Between 2006 and 2016, McDonalds reported only a tiny increase in revenue. And in terms of bottom line, McDonalds 2016’s profit was about 30% higher than it was in 2006.

McDonalds’ debt soared from $8.4 billion to $25.8. And the company’s book value, according to its own financial statements, dropped from $15.8 billion to NEGATIVE $2 billion.

So over ten years, McDonald’s saw a 30% increase in profits, but took on so much debt that they wiped out shareholders’ book value.

And yet the company’s stock price has TRIPLED.

Coca Cola. IBM. Johnson & Johnson.

Company after company, we can see businesses that are performing marginally better (or in some cases WORSE). They’ve taken on FAR more debt than ever before.

Yet their stock prices are insanely higher.

How is that even possible? Why are investors paying more money for shares of a business that isn’t much better than before?

There’s really only one explanation: there’s way too much money in the system.

All that money the Fed printed over the years has created an enormous bubble, pushing up the prices of assets to record highs even though their fundamental values haven’t really improved.

As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, “Financial assets across developed economies are more overvalued than at any other time in recent centuries,” i.e. at least since 1800.

Investors are paying far more than ever for their investments, but receiving only marginally more value in return. And they’re actually excited about it.

This doesn’t make sense. We don’t get excited to pay more and receive less at the grocery store.

But when underperforming assets fetch top dollar, people feel like they’re wealthier. Crazy.

Today the Fed should formally announce that after nearly a decade, it’s going to start vacuuming up a lot of that money it printed in 2008.

Bottom line: they’re going to start cutting the lights and turning off the music.

And given the enormous impact that this policy had on asset prices, it would be foolish to think its reversal will be consequence-free.

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