The mainstream media in the United States is almost totally ignoring one of the most important trends in global economics. This trend is going to cause the value of the U.S. dollar to fall dramatically and it is going to cause the cost of living in the United States to go way up. Right now, the U.S. dollar is the primary reserve currency of the world. Even though that status has been chipped away at in recent years, U.S. dollars still make up more than 60 percent of all foreign currency reserves in the world. Most international trade (including the buying and selling of oil) is conducted in U.S. dollars, and this gives the United States a tremendous economic advantage. Since so much trade is done in dollars, there is a constant demand for more dollars all over the globe from countries that need them for trading purposes. So the Federal Reserve is able to flood our financial system with dollars without it causing a tremendous amount of inflation because the rest of the world ends up soaking up a lot of those dollars. But now that is changing. China and Russia have been spearheading a movement to shift away from using the U.S. dollar in international trade. At the moment, the shift is happening gradually, but at some point a tipping point will come (for example if Saudi Arabia were to declare that it will no longer take U.S. dollars for oil) and the entire global financial system is going to change. When that tipping point comes the global demand for U.S. dollars is going to absolutely plummet and nightmarish inflation will come to the United States. If such a scenario sounds far out to you, then you have not been paying attention. In fact, China and Russia have been working very hard to move us toward exactly such a scenario.
China and Russia are not the “buddies” of the United States. The truth is that they are both ruthless competitors of the United States and leaders from both nations have been calling for a new global currency for years.
They don’t like that the United States has a built-in advantage of having the reserve currency of the world, and over the past several years both countries have been busy making international agreements that seek to chip away at that advantage.
Just the other day, China and Germany agreed to start conducting an increasing amount of trade with each other in their own currencies.
You would think that a major currency agreement between the 2nd and 4th largest economies on the face of the planet would make headlines all over the United States.
Instead, the silence in the U.S. media was deafening.
At least there were some reports in the international media about this. The following is from a Reuters article about this very important deal….
Germany and China plan to conduct an increasing amount of their trade in euros and yuan, the two nations said in a joint statement after talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing on Thursday.
“Both sides intend to support financial institutions and companies of both countries in the use of the renminbi and euro in bilateral trade and investments,” said the text of the statement.
By itself, this deal would not be that alarming.
However, the truth is that both Russia and China have been making deals like this all over the globe in recent years. I detailed 11 more major agreements like the one that China and Germany just made in this article: “11 International Agreements That Are Nails In The Coffin Of The Petrodollar“.
In that article I listed a few of the things that will likely happen when the petrodollar dies….
-Oil will cost a lot more.
-Everything will cost a lot more.
-There will be a lot less foreign demand for U.S. government debt.
-Interest rates on U.S. government debt will rise.
-Interest rates on just about everything in the U.S. economy will rise.
So enjoy going to “the dollar store” while you can.
It will turn into the “five and ten dollar store” soon enough.
Okay, so if you are China and Russia and you are working hard to undermine the dollar, how do you get prepared for the fiat currency crisis that your hard work will eventually create?
You guessed it. You hoard gold and other precious metals.
And that is exactly what China and Russia has been doing.
A recent MarketWatch article detailed the massive hoarding of gold that Russia has been doing….
I can’t imagine it means anything cheerful that Vladimir Putin, the Russian czar, is stockpiling gold as fast as he can get his hands on it.
According to the World Gold Council, Russia has more than doubled its gold reserves in the past five years. Putin has taken advantage of the financial crisis to build the world’s fifth-biggest gold pile in a handful of years, and is buying about half a billion dollars’ worth every month.
Of course Russia is not alone in hoarding gold. According to Zero Hedge, China has quietly been importing gigantic mountains of gold….
In July, Chinese gold imports from HK, after two months of declines, have picked up once more and hit a 3-month high of 75.8 tons. While it is notable that this number is double the 38.1 tons imported a year prior, and that year-to-date imports are now a record 458.6 tons, well over four times greater than the seven month total in 2011 which was 103.9 tons, what is far more important is that in the first seven months of 2012 alone China has imported nearly as much gold as the total holdings of the hedge fund at the heart of the Eurozone, elsewhere known simply as the European Central Bank, and just as importantly considering the import run-rate has hardly slowed down in August, which data we will have in a few weeks, it is now safe to say that in 2012 alone China has imported more gold than the ECB’s entire official 502.1 tons of holdings.
And all over the world Chinese companies are buying up gold producers. China National Gold Group Corporation has put in a $3.9 billion bid to buy African Barrick Gold PLC, but that is only one example.
A recent Fox Business article listed a bunch of other similar transactions that have taken place recently….
Zijin Mining Group Co. (2899.HK), China’s second-largest gold producer by output, said last week that its subsidiary has acquired more than 50% of Kalgoorlie’s Norton Gold Fields (NGF.AU).
That deal gives it a foothold in the Australian market, the world’s second-largest source of gold output after China itself. In 2011, Zijin bought 60% of Kazakhstan-based miner Altynken, which has access to a gold mine in Kyrgyzstan.
Since 2008, Chinese companies have completed 10 US$20-million-plus acquisitions of Australian gold assets, worth a combined $1.6 billion, according to Dealogic. Half were initiated since last year.
In November, Shandong Gold-Mining Co. (600547.SH) launched a bid to acquire Brazilian gold miner Jaguar Mining Inc. (JAG.T) for $1 billion.
You would have to be blind to not see what is happening.
Other big names have been hoarding gold as well. In a previous articleI detailed how George Soros, John Paulson and central banks all over the planet have been hungrily accumulating gold.
So what does all of this mean for the price of gold?
That’s right – it is likely to keep heading up.
In fact, Citi analyst Tom Fitzpatrick believes that the price of gold will likely hit $2500 within 6 months.
Personally, I believe that there will be times when precious metals both fall and rise in price dramatically. It is going to be a wild ride. But in the long-term I believe that all precious metals will be going up as fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar fail.
Sadly, most Americans have no idea just how incredibly vulnerable the U.S. dollar really is.
The following is an excerpt from a recent piece by investigative journalist Bob Woodward. It shows just how worried our leaders are about a crash of U.S. Treasuries….
Another possible outcome, Geithner said, was perhaps worse. “Suppose we have an auction and no one shows up?”
The cascading impact would be unknowable. The world could decide to dump U.S. Treasuries. Prices would plummet, interest rates would skyrocket. The one pillar of stability, the United States, the rock in the global economy, could collapse.
What happens someday if the rest of the world decides to reject our currency and our debt?
Right now we are able to trade our dollars for the things that we “need” such as oil from the Middle East and cheap plastic consumer products from China.
But what happens if the Federal Reserve keeps printing and printing and printing and the rest of the world eventually decides that the U.S. dollar is not even worth the paper it is printed on?
The truth is that the amount of printing the Federal Reserve has been doing and the amount of borrowing the federal government has been doing are both completely and totally unsustainable.
At this point, Moody’s is threatening to cut the credit rating of the federal government if a deal is not reached soon to reduce our debt to GDP ratio.
And Moody’s is not the only one concerned about our exploding debt.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble recently stated that he believes that “there is great uncertainty about the course American politics will take in dealing the U.S. government’s debts, which are much too high”.
Just because the economy is relatively stable right now does not mean that it is always going to be that way.
If we keep debasing our currency like this, at some point the rest of the world is going to decide that China and Russia have been right all along and that we need a new global reserve currency.
That day is coming. It might not come tomorrow or next week or next month but it is definitely coming.
Once the U.S. dollar loses reserve currency status, that will be a major turning point in the history of our country. We will never fully recover from that, and we will never get back to the same level of prosperity that we are enjoying today.
So enjoy spending those dollars while you can. The party is almost over.
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Image from http://www.bellona.org
A Soviet K-27 submarine suffered a nuclear accident before being dumped at the bottom of the Kara Sea 30 years ago. Russia may now have to lift the sub from dangerously shallow waters – before an “uncontrolled chain reaction” causes fatal damage.
“Radiation leakages will come sooner or later if we just leave the K-27 there. The sub has already been on the seafloor for 30 years, and it was rusty even before it was sunken. Leakages of radioactivity under water are nearly impossible to clean up,” Thomas Nilsen, a nuclear safety expert who has extensively mapped radioactive waste on the Arctic seabed, told RT.
Equipped with an experimental liquid-coolant nuclear engine, the K-27 was ill-fated from its launch in 1962. It made only three voyages, the last of which, in 1968, ended in tragedy.
A short way from its base in the Barents Sea, its reactor malfunctioned, and the brave but badly-trained crew made a futile attempt to fix it. Instead of solving the problem, they were exposed to fatal doses of radiation. Nine seamen died, most of them in hospital in agony from radiation sickness several days after the accident. The incident was kept secret by the Soviet government for decades, and the families of the victims received no compensation.
After repeated plans to redesign the sub, Soviet authorities decided it was easier to dispose of it, and towed the vessel to a remote test site in the Kara Sea, near the Arctic Ocean, in 1981.
Although international guidelines say decommissioned vessels should be buried at least 3,000 meters under the sea, the Soviet Navy scuttled it at around 75 meters.
Now, what was once one of the most remote places on Earth has become a hub of commercial activity, with the melting ice caps providing greater opportunities for shipping, and oil companies waiting to drill the seabed below the waves.
Earlier this year, environmental NGO Bellona claimed that the submarine may be reaching critical status, and now a joint Russian-Norwegian expedition is studying the site of the accident. It is expected to publish its findings in the coming weeks..
Image from http://www.bellona.org
Big Oil to the rescue
Experts believe that the sub will eventually have to be removed from its current resting place.
“Russia must take responsibility for their own waste financially,” Bellona’s Igor Koudrik told the Barents Observer newspaper.
But so far, the government has not allocated any funds towards the operation.
Nilsen believes that the operation will be expensive – costing “tens of millions of euro” – and hazardous.
“Our challenge today is to find a way to lift it without shaking the reactors so much that an uncontrolled chain-reaction doesn’t start. If that happens, a large amount of radioactivity can leak out to the fragile Arctic marine environment,”Nilsen said.
The increasing presence of energy companies will not necessarily add to the problem, but could provide a solution – if they pay for the lifting of the sub.
Russian giant Rosneft is conducting a seismic study of the Kara Sea, with a view to drilling its rich oil reserves. The potential profits could make the multi-million-euro extraction costs seem a fair price to pay for avoiding a nuclear accident.
Unfortunately, even if the danger of the K-27 is defused, others still lurk at the bottom of the sea.
The Russian government has recently released archives showing that there are 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships contaminated ships, and 14 nuclear reactors in the Kara Sea – and most of these objects have been decaying there since the Soviet era
These are not only insurgencies against Russia, but also a hostage situation in Georgia. As always, reports are inconclusive and questions always remain about motivation and who exactly is fighting whom.
Much of the conflict appears to originate in Dagestan, which is the seat of an extremely violent insurgency. Skirmishes appear to be spilling into Georgia, and worryingly for Putin, into the heartland of Russia.
On July 19, in Tatarstan, one leading Muslim cleric was shot and another was killed by a bomb. Tatarstan is much closer to Moscow than Dagestan, considered part of Russia’s ‘heartland’ so the spread of violence to this region is particularly alarming. It is indicative that the violence raging in Dagestan, where the killings of security officers and civilians is a daily occurrence, may not be contained much longer. The BBC concisely explains why violence in Tatarstan is quite worrying:
But Tatarstan, a mainly Muslim region on the Volga River, has long been seen as harmonious and stable. Even decades ago, in the Soviet Union, Tatarstan was seen as a model of peaceful co-existence for different nationalities and religions.
In Ingushetia, multiple attacks have taken place, most prominently, bombings on August 19 and 27. The first attack took place during a funeral for a police officer, killing at least seven other policeman. In the August 27 attack, three were killed in an explosion at a marketplace
Georgia, a state brought to global attention for its brief war with Russia in 2008, experienced its first clashes since the war when five young men were taken hostage by armed men who apparently crossed the border from Dagestan.
Based on recent media reports, the hostage situation between Georgia and Dagestan appears to be (mostly) resolved after a deadly shootout resulting in the deaths of three Georgian military personnel and eleven alleged militants. What exactly motivated the hostage crisis is still unclear and frankly, murkier with each report. Georgian news media describes the crisis as such:
News about missing five men from the village of Lapankuri was first reported in the Georgian media sources in the morning of August 28…Several hours later, on the same day, on August 28, Rustavi 2 TV reported in its 3pm news bulletin that all five men were found as a result of search operation in which rescue teams, local police, military police and a helicopter was involved. Rustavi 2 said in that report that the men went missing after “they lost their way”. Before the midnight the Georgian authorities started sending troops to the area and the Interior Ministry announced about the operation aimed at “pursuing” armed group, which was referred to as “squad of saboteurs”…Some locals said that the five men were treated well while being held by the gunmen; it, however, remains unclear what was the motive behind taking the villagers in hostage.
According to the official version of events, the armed group ambushed Georgian border patrol’s vehicle and detained several officers, while they were searching for the missing young men. [A] Senior officer offered gunmen to release the villagers and other border guards and to keep only him in hostage, which was accepted by the militants.
As of August 31, it was unclear if the senior officers were still being held by militants. Shooting broke out when the militants refused to surrender.
It is worth pointing out that even though a group calling themselves the Caucasus Emirate, linked to Chechnyan militants, has vowed to retaliate for the death of the eleven men, leadership in Georgia is still pointing fingers at Russia and blaming them for all problems in the post-Soviet states. Additionally, political opposition groups in Georgia are hinting that the current administration, under Saakashvili, orchestrated the entire crisis to gain popular support prior to upcoming parliamentary elections in October.
In another incident of recent violence in Dagestan, on August 28, a prominent Sufi cleric, Said Efendi Chirkeisky (also called Said Afandi in the media), was killed by a suicide bomber in his home along with six others, including a child. The suicide bomber was reportedly the wife of a fundamentalist Islamic leader. Chirkeisky was a critic of Salafi Islam, which is a much stricter form of Islam than Sufi Islam. This made him a target of radical groups, and the religious leader had been targeted for assassination previously and survived.
As a testament to Chirkeisky’s influence, media reports indicate over 100,000 attended his funeral. RFE/RL’s reporting on the impact of his death is worth reading (linked above), as it clearly explains how dialogue between Salafi and Sufi leaders is likely to be more difficult now that one of the more important promoters of peace has been murdered. Sufi Islam is generally very critical of the violent aspects of Salafi (Wahhabi) Islam, causing rifts between the two ideologies. Many Salafi extremists have called for the deaths of leading Sufi clerics, stating Sufi Islam is not a ‘pure’ form of Islam.
In the wake of the assassination, Dagestan’s provincial leader, Magomedsalam Magomedov, has called for the formation of civilian paramilitary squads, essentially vigilante squads, to prevent and repel attacks by Islamic extremists.
You don’t need to know much about the situation to see how poorly that could turn out. Dagestan is already a violent (and underreported) conflicts. Arming civilians and encouraging them to turn on each other rarely works out well.
(RIA Novosti / Igor Mikhalev)
Anatoly Shlemov, the head of national defense orders for Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation, told RIA Novosti that “this task has been definitely set for the [Russian] military-industrial complex.”
Almaz-Antey is not working alone on the planned system, Shelmov said, without specifying additional details about the top-secret project.
At the St. Petersburg Economic Forum earlier this year, President Roman Trotsenko of the United Shipbuilding Corporation announced that the USC would begin construction in 2016 of a series of six nuclear-powered destroyers armed with high-tech missile- and space- defense system.
Trotsenko called the warships “benchmarks of Russian space defense in the World Ocean,” but refused to comment further on the plans.
As it begins introducing the new S-400 system, Almaz-Antey is also finishing its S-500 ‘Prometheus’ system, which features space-defense capabilities. The S-500 is expected to be deployed in 2017, and will most likely arm the destroyers in project.
Previously, Almaz-Antey created the S-300 system for naval use, developing the S-300 Fort F and Fort FM for the Russian Navy.
The S-500 will supposedly able to engage targets in low earth orbit flying at speeds of up to 7 kilometer per second – the highest speed achievable by a ballistic missile at its highest trajectory in space.
The backbone of the Aegis Combat System – the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) – is a closely guarded secret, though the Missile Defense Agency of the US Department of Defense once published information revealing that the SM-3 can intercept targets flying at a speed of 3.7 kilometers per second.
The latest versions of the S-300 can engage targets flying at speeds of up to 2.8 kilometer per second; the S-400 can intercept targets at 4.8 kilometer per second.
A warship equipped with Aegis Combat System has a 190-kilometer range, and can intercept targets in low earth orbit up to 180 kilometers and detect objects at distances of up to 320 kilometers.
The S-400 can hit air targets at distances of up to 400 kilometers, while detecting them from as far away as 600 kilometers.
The Aegis Combat System is currently used by the US, Australian, Japanese, Norwegian, South Korean and Spanish navies.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 29, 2012, 4:44 PM (GMT+02:00)
Russian naval vessels have unexpectedly departed the Syrian Mediterranean port of Tartus and Russian arms shipments to Syria have been suddenly discontinued. DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal that those and other steps indicate that the Russians are rapidly drawing away from the Syrian arena to avoid getting caught up in the escalating hostilities expected to arise from military intervention by the US, Europe and a number of Arab states. Russian intelligence appears to have decided that this outside intervention is imminent and Moscow looks anxious to keep its distance for now.
According to our military and Russian sources, these drastic steps must have been personally ordered by President Vladimir Putin. He is believed to have acted over the objections of some of his army and naval chiefs. This would explain the mixed statements issuing from Moscow in recent days about the disposition of Russian personnel at the naval base in Tartus and Russian military personnel in Syria.
Wednesday, Aug. 22, Commander of the Russian Navy Vice Adm. Viktor Chirkov said that if the fighting in Syria reached Tartus, Moscow may decide to evacuate the base. He stressed that this decision would have to be taken on the authority of President Putin. He was the first Russian official to suggest the possibility of an evacuation.
A week later, Aug. 28, Russian chief of staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov denied anything had changed in the working procedures of Russian military personnel in Syria or that there were any plans to evacuate the Russian naval base in Tartus:
“I think it’s too early to draw conclusions [from the situation in Syria],” said the general. “No one is running away from there.”
When a Russian journalist pressed the general and ventured to ask whether Moscow was terminating its military involvement in Syria, Marakov retorted, “Why are you so worried about Syria?”
But he didn’t answer the question.
DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose that the Russians have taken five significant military steps with regard to Syria in the last two weeks:
1. They cancelled a large-scale naval exercise dubbed “Caucasus 2012” scheduled to start mid-August in the eastern Mediterranean opposite the Syrian coast;
2. Warships from three fleets – the Northern, Baltic and Black Sea – concentrated opposite Syria have dispersed and returned to their bases;
3. Syrian President Bashar Assad was notified that Moscow was halting military aid to his army – except for intelligence updates and advice on logistics from Russian military advisers;
4. Moscow has not clearly announced a freeze on arms shipments, including replacement parts for Russian weapons, which make up the bulk of the Syrian army’s weaponry. Officials have only said, “There are no large Russian weapons shipments planned in the near future to Syria.”
5. The only Russian naval ship left in Tartus – a floating Russian Navy PM-138 shipyard – is also under orders to depart Tartus and return to the Black Sea in September.
A Russian source disclosed that all the remaining Russian personnel in Tartus have gathered on the floating shipyard, except for two officers on shore. This vessel and the remaining personnel are evidently packed up and ready to sail at any moment out of the Syrian port.
Four people have died, three more are missing and over 1,500 have been affected by a devastating deluge that inundated the region, already severely battered by the deadly disaster in July.
Three of the dead have already been identified, Emergency Ministry says. They are reported to have been tourists.
The overall number of those affected by the disaster currently stands between 1,500 and 1,800 people, according to different sources.
The heavy rainfalls battering the area in the last 24 hours – in some places the average monthly falls – triggered the flooding.
The waters have damaged over 600 households in the area, plus a school and a hospital, from where 150 patients had to be evacuated.
A state of emergency has again been introduced in the area. Over 1,300 rescuers are currently working at the scene alongside volunteers.
With the water level gradually receding, people have begun to return to their homes, battered by the disaster.
The flooding has caused massive electricity disruptions. Local residents also report food shortages via Twitter. It has been reported more than 11,000 people are still without electricity.
Witnesses also post on Twitter that there’s currently a 5-kilometer traffic jam on the road to Novomikhailovsky.
Image from Twitter/@emashkarin
Image from Twitter/@ElizaTadevosyan
Emergency officials say the sirens and loudspeakers were used to alert the local population and tourists, and the state of emergency was introduced as early as 1am local time.
However, some of the residents point out they couldn’t hear anything because of the rain, and that mobile communication has also been disrupted.
“The road turned into a wild torrent, bridges were destroyed by the floodwaters. Some of the neighbors say that the sirens were wailing, but we heard nothing: the patter of the rain covered it all,” one of the witnesses reports, according to Interfax.
Over 170 people lost their lives in that disaster, with 35,000 people having been affected by the worst flooding to hit the region in decades.
The deluge took the greatest toll on the city of Krymsk, but also inundated the cities of Gelendzhik, Novorosiisk.
Screen shot of YouTube video / The Stanag
Screen shot of YouTube video, courtesy user TheStanag
Screen shot of YouTube video / The Stanag
Screen shot of YouTube video / The Stanag
The shield has been riling up Russia since it was announced, and in May the Kremlin came out and said it was not ruling out a first strike against the NATO shield in Europe.
Not long after the strike was threatened a story came out saying that Obama would release classified data on the shield to the Russians in an effort to calm them down.
No word on that yet, but then again, we know Obama wants to wait until after the election to assuage Russian concerns.