Americans Dying an Average of $61,500 in Debt

Andy’s Notes: Look for changes in estate law in the coming years to ensure that these debts aren’t washed away by death, but are passed along to the survivors.

According to a recent study, the average total household debt in America is just over $132,500, broken down as per the chart below…

… and thanks to the Fed’s recent and ongoing rate increases, the repayment of said debt will become increasingly more difficult. So difficult, in fact, that most Americans will be saddled with a sizable chunk of it at the time of their death.

Actually, most already are.

According to December 2016 data from credit bureau Experian provided to credit.com, 73% of American consumers had outstanding debt when they were reported as dead. Those consumers carried an average total balance of $61,554, including mortgage debt. Without home loans, the average balance was $12,875.

As credit.com reports, the data is based on Experian’s FileOne database, which includes 220 million consumers. (There are about 242 million adults in the U.S., according to 2015 estimates from the Census Bureau.) To determine the average debt people have when they die, Experian looked at consumers who, as of October 2016, were not deceased, but then showed as deceased as of December 2016.

Among the 73% of consumers who had debt when they died, about 68% had credit card balances. The next most common kind of debt was mortgage debt (37%), followed by auto loans (25%), personal loans (12%) and student loans (6%).

The breakdown of unpaid balances was as follows: credit cards, $4,531; auto loans, $17,111; personal loans, $14,793; and student loans, $25,391. And, as a reminder, debt doesn’t just disappear when someone dies.

What happens to that debt when you die, aside from it continuing to accrue interest until someone remembers to inform the creditors?

“Debt belongs to the deceased person or that person’s estate,” said Darra L. Rayndon, an estate planning attorney with Clark Hill in Scottsdale, Arizona. If someone has enough assets to cover their debts, the creditors get paid, and beneficiaries receive whatever remains. But if there aren’t enough assets to satisfy debts, creditors lose out (they may get some, but not all, of what they’re owed). Family members do not then become responsible for the debt, as some people worry they might.

That’s the general idea, but things are not always that straightforward. The type of debt you have, where you live and the value of your estate significantly affects the complexity of the situation. For example, federal student loan debt is eligible for cancellation upon a borrower’s death, but private student loan companies tend not to offer the same benefit. They can go after the borrower’s estate for payment.

To be sure, things can get messy. If your only asset is a home other people live in, that asset must be used to satisfy debts, whether it’s the mortgage on that home or a lot of credit card debt, meaning the people who live there may have to take over the mortgage, or your family may need to sell the home in order to pay creditors. Accounts with co-signers or co-applicants can also result in the debt falling on someone else’s shoulders. Community property states, where spouses share ownership of property, also handle debts acquired during a marriage a little differently.

“It’s one thing if the beneficiaries are relatives that don’t need your money, but if your beneficiaries are a surviving spouse, minor children — people like that who depend on you for their welfare, then life insurance is a great way to provide additional money in the estate to pay debts,” Rayndon said.

The best option, of course, is just to pay it all off while one is alive, however in a nation with over $15 trillion in household debt, that is increasingly unlikely. And, if the Fed normalizes rates as it promises, which for some odd reason means interest on savings accounts doesn’t budge even as the interest due on debt ticks up with ever move of the Fed Funds rate, it means that the only possible debt discharge for tens of millions of Americans, will increasingly be the most terminal one too.

It remains unclear if debt incurred in this life carries over into the next one.

Forget the Stock Market, Pay Attention to This

Graham’s Musings: This is one of those tidbits that occasionally makes the paper/news/etc. It’s the true state of affairs.. Read it and weep o’ misled kings of Keynesianism.

You can take this to the bank: Americans are messed up about money.

A slew of new surveys and data have come out revealing that we don’t save enough, we spend money we don’t have, we have our financial priorities backwards — and more. Here are five new stats that prove Americans are backwards about money.

  1. About 1 in 4 literally have no emergency savings. A survey released Tuesday by Bankrate.com found that 24% don’t have even a single dollar saved for an emergency. And that’s just one of many surveys showing how little we have saved: A survey released in January by Bankrate found that nearly 60% of Americans wouldn’t have enough savings to pay for a $500 expense if it came up unexpectedly. What’s more, more than one in five say they’d slap down their credit card to pay that expense and more than one in would mooch off family to get the cash. Experts recommend that Americans have a least three to six months of income in the bank to pay for unexpected emergencies.
  2. We are more worried about paying for our next vacation than about saving enough for retirement. That’s the finding of a study released this week by COUNTRY Financial, in which Americans report being more concerned about affording that vaca vacations (36%) than having adequate retirement savings (32%). That may explain, in part, why more than half of Americans will be broke when we retire, according to a survey from GoBankingRates.com.
  3. Millions of us hide money from our spouses and partners. An estimated 12 million Americans confess they have kept a source of money secret from their romantic partners, according to CreditCards.com. That’s typically not smart, experts say: “Any time you get into these kinds of things where you are operating behind the scenes, it usually comes out at some point,” Corey Allan, a marriage and family therapist told Credit Cards.com. “We can’t keep things hidden, especially in today’s technological world. Any spouse who has any kind of suspicion can become a detective and find it.”
  4. We prioritize paying the wrong bills first. When we can’t pay all our bills, we make bad choices about which to pay. “Consumers in financial distress tend to prioritize unsecured personal loans ahead of other credit products such as auto loans, mortgages and credit cards,” according to a study of roughly two million consumers who had all four types of debt out this week from credit monitoring service TransUnion. But experts say that’s a backwards way to handle these bills.
  5. We’ve racked up $1 trillion in credit card debt — and that’s just a fraction of what we owe. That’s according to data released this year from the Federal Reserve, which found that U.S. consumers owe $1.0004 trillion on their cards, up 6.2% from a year ago; this is the highest amount owed since January 2009. What’s more, this isn’t the only consumer debt to top $1 trillion. We now also owe more than $1 trillion for our cars, and for our student loans, the data showed.This story was originally published in May and has been updated.

Censorship or Glitches?

Andy’s Notes: Posted with a half grimace as we’ve had numerous attacks on this site over the past 6 months as many of you know. The cynical side says censorship. Glitches would be a coincidence and I don’t believe in coincidences.

In the past few days several readers have told me via emails that they experienced some censorship in relation to my website. With regard to the guest contributions of May 12, several readers in Europe said they were not allowed to tweet the article on the digital revolution and Engdahl’s article on controlling the food supply.

Another reader sent me this report of his attempt to access my website via Firefox:

I got a warning message, with the following text: “Your connection is not secure The owner of www.paulcraigroberts.org has configured their website improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this website. Learn more… Report errors like this to help Mozilla identify and block malicious sites.”

I just now used Firefox to access my website, and experienced no problem.

The digital world is full of glitches, which is why I doubt driverless cars will be successful. These reports might all be the result of glitches.

However, please do inform me if you experience difficulties accessing the website or using social media to spread the word.

As the world is presently goverened, controlling the explanations is of the utmost importance to the ruling elites.

It will be interesting to see if the ruling elites require Twitter to block President Trump.

The Most Disturbing Thing Central Banks Are Doing Right Now

Andy’s Notes: The ‘Fed’ has no right to even exist let alone buy, sell, or conduct any other activity for that matter. It might be good for writers to consider that reality before going off on what this or that illegal strategy might do to your personal finances… Just saying…

At the end of August, the Federal Reserve met in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for its annual confab and investors hung on every word uttered by the former tenured economics professors comprising the committee to destroy the global economy.  There were strong hints from Fed Chair Janet Yellen and Vice Chair Stanley Fischer that they want to raise rates in the near future, but they have broken such promises before. (This “will-she-won’t-she” romantic comedy is really getting old.)

The worst thing the Fed could do is keep interest rates low; instead, it should announce that it will start raising rates by 25 basis points each quarter until the Fed Funds rate reaches 2% and then urge Congress to act on meaningful tax reform and fiscal stimulus that are the only policies that will help minorities and all Americans.  And then this nation should embark on meaningful civic and economic education for all of its children (and even the adults) to insure that they understand how economies work – which is not by increasing entitlements and reducing the cost of money to the point where it has no value.

When you look deep into Fed policy, all that stares back is a black hole. And the hole keeps getting deeper and deeper. While it went largely unnoticed at this meeting, the Fed also made some very disturbing noises about its plans to deal with the next recession.

These plans are unconstitutional and dangerous.

And they’re the next step in a quiet revolution that’s already being waged by central banks worldwide.

Here’s the most disturbing thing central banks are doing right now (and how it can hurt you)…

The Fed May Be Going Shopping – for Something It Has No Right to Buy

Acknowledging that it will not be in a position to lower interest rates by 300-500 basis points as in past recessions, the Fed is paving the way for the next generation of quantitative easing.  Some believe the Fed is hinting that it may add corporate bonds to its shopping list the next time it has to bail out the economy and markets.  While that would likely violate the Constitution, which vests Congress with the right “To borrow Money on the credit of the United States” (Article I, Sec. 8), the Federal Reserve has shown little regard for any limitations on its powers and Congress is asleep at the wheel.

Buying corporate bonds would be just one more in a series of policy blunders that destroyed global bond markets.  Fed purchases of corporate bonds would further reduce market liquidity and distort free market pricing mechanisms (if the latter can even be said to exist anymore).  While I have no doubt that we could see the Fed further expand its balance sheet, I am equally confident that further balance sheet expansion will do little to promote economic growth.

On a larger scale, central banks have already been on an illegal shopping spree for quite some time.

And it’s creating a radical change in the investment landscape.

Right now, central banks, sovereign wealth funds, and certain regulated institutions are buying assets without regard to whether they are fairly priced or generate reasonable returns.  I would also include corporations buying back record levels of stock in this category since they are driven by different motivations than investors seeking returns.  The fact that some central banks are large owners of stocks (Swiss National Bank) and ETFs (The Bank of Japan) tells you that something is seriously awry.  Rather than acting as lenders of last resort, these central banks are meddling in stock markets and inflating the value of companies to dangerous levels.  While these buyers can hold these stocks indefinitely, they are driven by different motivations than traditional investors seeking an attractive risk-adjusted return on their capital.

This is a profound change in the investment landscape that requires new thinking from investors.

Stock purchases by central banks in particular deserve more attention than they receive in the media.  They are nothing short of lunacy. There is no good reason why a central bank should own stocks.  That is not what central banks were created to do.  Central banks are supposed to act as lenders of last resort, not prop up stock prices.  It’s troubling enough that they are monetizing massive amounts of government and now corporate debt in a global Ponzi scheme that is destroying the world’s fixed income markets. Buying stocks is beyond the pale.

This May Mean The End of Post-World-War-II Capitalism

With central banks owning $25 trillion of financial assets and sovereign wealth funds owning countless trillions more, it is time to ask whether post-World War II capitalism is morphing into a new phase.  These non-economic actors have different motivations than traditional investors who buy assets in order to earn a profit over a reasonable period of time.  Central banks are buying stocks and bonds in order to monetize government debt and keep afloat the immoral Ponzi schemes required to finance massive entitlement promises to their constituents.  Sovereign wealth funds are looking for places to park their cash for extremely long periods of time and often focus on assets with trophy or strategic value. But the most important thing these two types of buyers have in common is that they don’t have to sell, which means that their ownership can inflate asset values for prolonged periods of time.  This destroys the price discovery mechanism that markets are supposed to provide.  And without price discovery, markets cease to allocate capital efficiently.

This remains one of the most baffling investment climates that my generation has experienced.  Central bank policies are distorting markets to the point where they no longer function as reliable indicia of the economy or the value of individual securities.  The more than $13 trillion of global bonds (today I read that the number is $16 trillion – who can keep track?) yielding below zero signal systemic distress, yet most investors and mainstream commentators and the financial media continue to shrug it off.  I beseech the readers of this publication not to shrug it off.  Negative interest rates and their causes are symptoms of serious problems at the heart of the global financial system.  Negative interest rates effectively allow governments to confiscate capital; they steal from the future to pay for promises that never should have been made and can never be kept.  They are another form of default.  As my friend David Rosenberg writes:  “So we know full well that the central banks want inflation – it is the easiest way to default on the global debt-to-GDP ratio without having to write anything down and generate real losses.”  Markets may appear to be sound, but that is an illusion; they are broken.  A combination of regulatory and monetary policy errors are draining liquidity, distorting pricing, and impairing the ability of the system to react to stress.  Markets are more fragile today than they were on the cusp of the 2008 financial crisis; governments and companies are more leveraged; and the geopolitical landscape is dangerously unstable.  Investors are ignoring these warning signs at their peril.

 Figure 1 Lulled to Sleep

Figure 1
Lulled to Sleep

What is an investor to do in such an environment?  The first mission should be to defend against losses.  Cash may yield nothing but it is still an important tool for managing risk and positioning to take advantage of future market dislocations.  I believe in the adage that many investors make 80% of their money in 20% of the time.  That is certainly the history of the credit markets, where most of the money is made after the market crashes; the rest of the time, the risk-adjusted returns are extremely unattractive (like today).  The human compulsion to act is the enemy of good investing; that is particularly true when markets are overvalued like they are today.  Rather than feeling they are missing out on the current rally, which has no relation to fundamentals, investors should not be reluctant to hold cash, avoid losses, and wait for better opportunities to buy assets at reasonable values. You can read about my cash recommendations here.

One of the symptoms of severe market distortions resulting from ceaseless central bank interventions is artificially low market volatility.  On August 23, The Wall Street Journal reported that stock market volatility over the last 30 days was the lowest in 20 years.  See Figure 1 above.  Factors contributing to this phenomenon include massive stock purchases by some central banks and the sharp reduction of market exposure in Europe after the Brexit vote.  Markets are complex systems.  Much like earthquake zones, they need to release pressure in order to prevent pressures from building up and unleashing larger fractures.  Markets have been unusually quiet since the financial crisis.  While human beings tend to assume that present conditions will persist indefinitely, there is abundant evidence that current conditions are unsustainable.  I believe volatility is significantly undervalued just as bonds and stocks are grossly overvalued. Future adjustments are unlikely to be gentle.

Illinois Sends ‘Dear Contractor’ Letters

Andy’s Notes: The most corrupt state in the history of states might be at the tip of the spear of municipal bankruptcy, but rest assured they aren’t alone. Call your legislators and ask them how much YOUR state has been borrowing from the federal government to keep this sham going. Then look at the federal debt numbers and ask yourself – is this sustainable????

The state of Illinois has not passed a budget for close to three years.

Arguably it’s just as well because Illinois budgets for decades have been nothing but a moth-eaten collection of lies, one time deficits repeated endlessly, and financial wizardry statements designed to disguise Illinois’ real problems: failure to rein in spending coupled with a very business unfriendly environment.

As Illinois’ bond rating careens towards junk, Illinois Unpaid Bills Jumped to $14.3 Billion. Today, the state told contractors to halt roadwork other than that required for safety.

Dear Contractor

I do not have a link, but here is the letter in image form.

This does not raise much alarm in Illinois has these kinds of letters went out last year as well. It’s simply business as usual in Illinois.

My IDOT contact, who wishes to be left unnamed, reports …

Last year when they did this the extra work bill to the state cost millions of taxpayer dollars. At the last minute, the shutdown was averted but not until the shutdown measures were employed and thus extra cost was due to contractors and consultants.

Look out for the Road Builders Association to come out with an estimate of what it will cost this time around after the letter today.

Last year, the supplier for paper and toilet paper had not been paid and thus various offices were reportedly cut off of supply. IDOT employees were going to have to work from home due to the potential unsanitary conditions.

Five Illinois Universities Rated Junk

Yesterday, the Illinois Policy Institute reported MOODY’S DOWNGRADES 7 ILLINOIS UNIVERSITIES, 5 ARE JUNK.

Everybody wants to blame the downgrades on the state’s current budget impasse. The stalemate of nearly two years has led to cuts in state appropriations to Illinois universities. But the universities’ financial difficulties started before the state’s budget gridlock and are largely of their own making. Illinois colleges and universities have long overspent on bloated bureaucracies and expensive compensation and benefits, prioritizing administrators over students.

For years, university and college officials across the state have hiked tuition to pay for administrative hiring sprees, generous executive compensation and out-of-control pensions. Their spending priorities distorted university finances long before the budget impasse began.

The number of administrators in Illinois’ universities grew by nearly a third (31.1 percent) between 2004 and 2010. At the same time, faculty only increased 1.8 percent, and the number of students only grew 2.3 percent.

Illinois Tuition Fees

Retirement Costs Soars

Blame Who?

It is easy to blame Governor Rauner, but he is last on my list. Illinois has been in trouble for decades. The state’s only solution has been to tax, and tax, and tax.

That is precisely the same position as Chicago Mayor Rahn Emanuel.

The result is easy to predict.

Illinois’ Economic Growth is Worse than During the Great Depression

Illinois’ total state economic activity has increased by only 4 percent since 2007, which is lower than the U.S.’ 10 percent GDP growth during the worst decade of the Great Depression according to the Illinois Policy Institute.

Illinois Employment

Feed Me

Illinois Debt Backlog

It took $31.6 billion of new tax revenue to reduce the backlog of bills by $1.3 billion. But the complete picture is much worse as Illinois’ pension debt rose more than $25B from 2010 through 2015.

Failed State

  1. On June 4, 2017, Politico reported How Illinois became America’s failed state.
  2. The Heratige Foundation beat Politico to the idea by a mile with its September 28, 2015 analysis Illinois: The Anatomy of a Failed Liberal State.
  3. The Chicago Tribune is behind the times with its January 3, 2017 analysis, Illinois in danger of becoming a failed state.

Illinois is not in danger of becoming a failed state, it is a failed state. I have been talking about this for years.

Five Desperately Needed Reforms

  1. Municipal bankruptcy legislation
  2. Pension reform
  3. Right-to-Work legislation
  4. End of prevailing wage laws
  5. Workers’ compensation reform

Number one on my list of Illinois reforms is bankruptcy legislation. It is the only hope for numerous Illinois cities whose hands are also tied by union-sponsored prevailing wage laws.

Despite massive gains in the stock market since 2009, Illinois pension plans have gotten deeper and deeper into the hole.

Even a modest pullback in the stock market will sink numerous Illinois pension plans. I expect much worse than a modest pullback.

Tax hikes are not the answer. Reform is the answer, and bankruptcy reform is at the top of the list.

Required Pension Contributions to Double or Triple

Inquiring minds will also wish to consider Required Pension Contributions of California Cities Will Double in Five Years says Policy Institute: Quadruple is More Likely.

The same fate or worse faces Illinois.

Madigan Sponsored Problem 

The problem is on Speaker Madigan’s side. He insists on tax hikes first and reforms second.

Governor Rauner has held out and I support that policy. Once the governor agrees to tax hikes, no reforms will ever take place.

Illinois is Bankrupt

Illinois is essentially bankrupt. Unfortunately, there is no provision for states to declare bankruptcy.

States can default, however, and default is an easy prediction for Illinois’ public union pensions.

ANOTHER Greek Bailout?!?!?!

Andy’s Notes: If people still haven’t gotten the concept that this is never-ending, then we’ll just tell you – this will go on until the system resets; most likely under a new currency of some type.

As expected by most (if not all, judging by the 8 year lows in Greek bond yields), European finance ministers have reportedly reached an agreement to bail out Greece once again (provide them with yet another EUR8.5 billion loan), and agreed to discuss the possibility of debt extensions.

Blomberg reports that Euro area finance ministers reached an agreement paving the way for the disbursement of the next tranche of emergency loans, setting out terms of potential debt relief measures, two people familiar with the matter say.

Euro-area finance ministers approved a payout of 8.5 billion euros for Greece, according Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna.

Euro-area finance ministers are mulling a possible extension of the maturities on some Greek loans by 0 to 15 years, according to a draft statement seen by Bloomberg, even though it was not immediately clear what a 0 year maturity extension represents. The preliminary draft includes a proposal to defer the interest and amortization on Greece’s EFSF loans by the same duration

And yes, holdout IMF which threatened for two years it would not participate in a Greek deal absent a debt reduction is now in: as Christine Lagarde said: “I’d like to announce my intention to propose to the IMF’s Board the approval in principle of a new IMF Stand-By Arrangement for Greece.”

The only potential risk factor: Greece commits to keeping a primary surplus of 3.5% until 2022 and that Greek Gross financing needs should be below 15% of GDP in the medium term, and below 20% afterwards to ensure debt stays on a downward path.

Finally:

  • DEBT RELIEF GREEK FOR GREECE WOULD BE GRANTED AFTER BAILOUT ENDS WITH SUCCESS IN 2018 – STATEMENT

and

  • DIJSSELBLOEM: GREEK DEBT MEASURES TO BE IMPLEMENTED AFTER 2018

In other words, if Greece does not reneg for the next 18 months, it may get another debt maturity extension, resetting the clock all over again.

Priced In?  Was the deal ever in doubt.

This deal puts an end any uncertainty about the possibility of Greece defaulting on over EUR7 billion in debt repayments due next month.

So the question is – who exactly are the EU finmins bailing out?

And another question: will Greek debt finally be eligible for ECB QE? With Mario Draghi running out of German debt to buy, this could provide with the central banks with a loophole to extend QE by at least a few months.

Quadruple Leveraged ETF Shows Future of ‘Investing’

Andy’s Notes: Our sentiments exactly. Evidently, the fact that there is a 4X long fun is to portend the notion that the markets will in fact go up forever and you can get rich buying it. Nice try guys. We’ve shown previously how gains in the markets don’t translate into the same gains in leveraged ETFs because of normal ebb and flow at best. At worst, ths will be yet another vacuum cleaner, attached to the dwindling savings of not on only the American people, but humankind as well.

At the beginning of May 2017 the wise, an all knowing Securities & Exchange Commission approved a new leveraged Exchange Traded Fund. While SEC approvals for new funds don’t often make headlines, the reason this was did because of the amount of leverage the new ETF offers and what it means for the future of investing.

On May 2, 2017, the SEC approved the ForceShares Daily 4x US Markets Futures Long Fund which will have the ticker “UP” and the ForceShares Daily 4x US Markets Futures Short Fund which will have the ticker “DOWN.”

Yes, you did read that correctly, these are 4X funds which will deliver 400% the daily performance of the S&P 500. Previously investors had access to 3X funds, which offered 300% the daily moves of the indexes they track, but with this move, 400% may now seem to be the benchmark.

I have spoken in the past about the dangers of these 3X leveraged funds and how they can be enticing because of the potential upside, but devastating because of the potential downside risk. For example, if the market moves 0.5% one day and you own a 3X long fund, instead of making 0.5% in a day you have now made 1.5%, a much better one day return. But, the downside risk in my opinion of even a 3X fund was too great for the average investor because you can easily lose 3X the amount of money you would normally lose if you had just bought the standard index fund.

Now that investors have access to 4X returns, yes the gains can be greater, but the losses will also be larger.

Furthermore, the new 4X products will have the same long-term downsides as the 3X leveraged funds, but even worse. With a leveraged fund, if you hold the investment for longer than one day, you are losing money because to get 3X leverage, the fund manager must buy futures which deteriorate, or cost the investor money, each and every day. If the deterioration rate on a 3X leverage product was high, I have to imagine the 4X is going to be substantially larger.

I have never wanted to own a 3X leveraged ETF, so I can assure you the 4X product is not something I am interested in buying anytime soon. So while this move by the SEC doesn’t affect me directly, what concerns me about this move is that it opens the door for possibly a 5X or even 10X leveraged investment product down the road. Where does this madness end?
The reason this scares me is that the SEC is supposed to product investors, all investors. Not only from one investor to those trying to sell new products but also protect one investor from other investors.

While most people know of the 1929 stock market crash, what many forget is that crash was largely due to the high amount of leverage, mainly through the use of margin accounts, which were in the market leading up to the time of the actual crash. Most investors today clearly remember the 2008-09 market crash which was again largely due to the amount of leverage in the financial markets at the time of the crash. Leverage is very dangerous and can bring economies crumbling as we have seen in the past.

Leveraged ETF’s scare me, not because of what I may lose using them, but how others may affect the overall stability of the market because they are using these types of products. If we never get more leveraged than 4X, I will be thrilled, but unfortunately, I feel as if I will be talking about a 5X or greater product hitting the markets in the future.

Comey Shows Americans that ‘Law’ Only Applies to Elite – PCR

Andy’s Notes: We apologize that we’ve been re-posting a lot of Dr. Roberts’ materials of late, however, when someone is laying out the essence of a subject in such a concise manner as he is, then it demands attention. While this doesn’t apply to the laws of Economics directly, it would seems that there are some definite parallels. Perhaps the silver lining is that while the laws of man may be changed to accommodate the crimes of some, the laws of Economics are immutable, coming from a much higher authority, and those transgressions will be answered for.

June 11, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  James Comey admits to taking official government documents home and then giving them to the NY Times; he directly contradicts his 3 May 2017, under-oath testimony; he publicly conspires with that stooge of a Special Counsel Robert Mueller to stage-manage his testimony; he refused to tell Americans that their president was not colluding with the Russians; he coordinated his public language with Attorney General Lynch to please Clinton, protect that criminal, and fix the 2016 election; and, just after the hearing, is reported to have been offered a $10 million advance/payoff from a New York publisher for a book on Trump.

The Senate committee, almost to a man and woman, tried to aid Comey’s lie-filled, anti-republic testimony against Trump. Only Senators Risch, Cornyn, and Rubio did the enormously easy job of demonstrating that Comey is nothing but a lying, two-bit Clinton-whore. A good high-school debater would have had no problem doing the same.

Mr. Trump, God love you for what have done and are trying to do to resuscitate the republic. We need more jobs, a better stock market, no unnecessary wars, the end of government-mandated multiculturalism and diversity, rebuilt infrastructure, elimination of illegal aliens and street gangs, a border wall, lower taxes, the repeal of hate-speech laws, fairer trade, a lengthy ban on all immigration, an end to abortion, and minimal federal regulations. All of these things are indispensable.

But more urgently important than all of these needs, Mr. Trump, is for Americans to see you and Attorney General Sessions vigorously use the now unenforced law to, figuratively, draw a vast effusion of blood from the utterly lawless American elite. Both of you already have in your possessions the basis for indictments of:

–James Comey for perjury, and he and all FBI officials who conspired with him to support the Clinton campaign

–All three Clintons, both Obamas, and Loretta Lynch

–The Clinton Foundation, its leadership team, some of its contributors, and all of the State Department and other national government officials who willing aided the Foundation while Clinton was Secretary of State

–John Podesta and his DNC leadership team

–Eric Holder and all those DoJ officials involved in Fast&Furious

–Lois Learner and the IRS officials who persecuted conservatives

–All leakers of classified information, most especially serving and former senior U.S. Intelligence Community officials

–George Soros and all U.S.-citizen, billionaire big shots who fund the violence of Democratic demonstrators

–All the Democratic operatives who have rigged voter lists and otherwise assisted the dead and illegal aliens to vote

–All of the mayors, governors, judges, police chiefs, ministers, priests, NGOs, and university leaders who establish and maintain “sanctuary” domains

–The people who killed DNC employee Seth Rich, as well those responsible for the long list of murders of people who crossed the Clintons
You must, President Trump and Judge Sessions, move quickly on the issue of enforcing the law against the bipartisan U.S. political elite and incarcerating those who are convicted — no pardons, no plea bargains, no probation, no omissions.

All the other improvements for the republic aspired to by the Trump administration are important, even essential. But none is as important than beginning to enforce the law against the gangster-dominated American elite. Legally draw their blood, gentlemen, or they will reverse whatever advances you accomplish for the republic when they rig the next election and defeat you. That result will bring on civil war.

And recall, Mr. Trump and Judge Sessions, that you are defenders of the republic and that your oaths-of-office and the Constitution require you to make sure all of the laws are enforced. The citizenry demands no more than that you do your duty.

If you fail to do so, you leave Americans only one option. Their legitimate means of eliminating the gangster-elite, when the law fails or is not applied, is provided by our Founders and the 1st and 2nd Amendments they bequeathed to their posterity.

And after all is said and done, Mr. President and Judge Sessions, if you fail to do your constitutional duty, or are prevented from doing it, the gangster-elite will quickly come to understand why the Lord allowed men of ingenuity and skill to create the AR-15.

Michael F. Scheuer is a former CIA intelligence officer, American blogger, author, foreign policy critic, and political analyst. He is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies. http://non-intervention.com

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/47223.htm

The American Catastrophe – Paul Craig Roberts

Andy’s Notes: Whether or not you support his work/website is up to you. The plea for financial support is not why I’m posting this. I’m posting this because we need Glass -Steagall back. Badly. Actually we need GS plus a whole bunch of other things. Like the repeal of Dodd-Frank, and the enforcement of the antitrust laws already on the books.  Hopefully Dr. Roberts is able to testify before Congress, not that I think it’ll do much good, and at least these issues will be given some much-needed attention. His estimation that the lack of separation between S&L portions of banks and their brokerage wings was a huge contributing factor to the 2008 crisis is spot on. Few understand it and he’s one of the dwindling number of individuals who not only understand this, but can get the ear of Congress even if only for a few minutes. I’d encourage a read of this piece. It is outstanding.

This is my quarterly call for your financial support. Remember, this is your website.

This website was launched 5 years and 4 months ago on New Year’s Eve, 2011. Here is the inaugural column: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2011/12/31/the-outlook-for-the-new-year/ The inaugural column remains an accurate description of the American Catastrophe.

According to AWeber, the service that sends out the announcements of new postings, 1,840 notices of new postings have been sent during the 5 years and 4 months. That comes to 345 per year or practically one per day.

This is a heavy workload. It explains why I cannot respond to the many requests to read and comment on the books, articles, flash drives, and solutions to problems that you send to me, provide advice, participate in an event as an activist or speaker, or grant every interview request. I can write for you, or I could set up as a financial adviser, or as an editor and literary agent, or I could go on the speaking circuit, but I cannot do all of these things.

In the United States, indeed, in the Western world generally, those parts of the rule of law that protected liberty have collapsed. I have told the story many times, as has John Whitehead (see, for example, http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/06/07/think-free-american-constitutional-protections-read/ ).

As Larry Stratton and I documented in our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, the transformation of law from a shield of the people into a weapon in the hands of the government began with chasing after devils, such as gangsters, drug dealers, child abusers, and terrorists. The protective features of the law were cut down in order to more easily convict those targeted. The pursuit of devils was expanded by the leftwing’s Identity Politics and its creation of hate speech, hate crimes, and now thought crimes. As Gilad Atzmon wrote in his just published book, Being In Time, ”The freedom to think openly and speak clearly are but nostalgic concepts.”

Many Americans, perhaps most of them, still confuse patriotism with support for the government, at least in the realm of “national security,” and not with defense of the US Constitution. The liberals and the leftwing are mainly concerned with inventing new rights in the Constitution for “victim groups” as defined by Identity Politics. These new rights, of course, cancel out rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights that was incorporated into the Constitution as Amendments. For example, the right of a preferred minority not to be offended cancels out the freedom of speech. While the government has destroyed habeas corpus and due process, the leftwing has destroyed freedom of expression. Together they have given us a police state.

The accountability of the US government has also been lost to powerful private interests. Here is what former CIA official John Stockwell has to say: “It is the function of the CIA to keep the world unstable, and to propagandize and teach the American people to hate, so we will let the Establishment spend any amount of money on arms.”

After managing Washington’s deceptive participation in the Angolan War and serving as a CIA paramilitary officer in the Congo and Vietnam, and being awarded the CIA’s Intelligence Medal of Merit, Stockwell resigned because of his concern about the methods and results of the CIA’s secret wars. He wrote In Search of Enemies and appeared on the TV program, 60 Minutes where he revealed that CIA director William Colby and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger had systematically misled Congress about the CIA’s secret operations. The CIA retaliated with a lawsuit that drove Stockwell into bankruptcy and then dropped the lawsuit.

Stockwell got off easy compared to latter day whistleblowers, such as John Kiriakou who was sent to prison for telling the truth despite the whistleblower protection laws, another indication that America is ruled by power and not by law.

The indifference of law schools, bar associations, federal courts, Congress, and the American population to the police state practices that now characterize the US government is evidence that liberty no longer exists in the United States.

Despite the massive evidence, many, probably most, Americans still cannot believe that their government would intentionally do anything wrong. Yes, mistakes happen, but we must not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

This insouciant attitude, which defines the American population, explains why Americans prefer to dismiss scientists, experts, and truth-tellers as “conspiracy theorists” than to accept that their government is guilty of false flag attacks. The gullible and naive population holds on to this absurd belief despite the complete documentation of Operation Gladio, Operation Northwoods, the Gulf of Tonkin fake incident, and so on. One of the most frustrating experiences is the American who says, “If there was a conspiracy, someone would have talked.” Yes, of course, they do talk, and it has no effect whatsoever.

For example, Israel’s attack 50 years ago today on the USS Liberty, which killed 35 American sailors and wounded 174, is still an official coverup despite the complete and total exposure of the attack by Admiral Tom Moorer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Rear Admiral Merlin Staring, judge advocate general of the US Navy, James Akins, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Genaral Ray Davis, assistant commandant of the US Marines, Captain Ward Boston, one of the US naval officers ordered to produce the cover up, by every surviving member of the USS Liberty’s crew, and by testimony of Israeli pilots involved in the attack on the USS Liberty. All of this talk had no effect on the official coverup, which remains the official word.

The same is true for the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. The evidence is conclusive from eye witnesses, films, autopsies, and expert testimony that the assassinations of JFK and RFK were conspiracies.

As for 9/11, more than one hundred first responders (fireman and police) and WTC maintenance personnel who were in the twin towers have testified that they heard and experienced multiple explosions inside the towers before barely escaping with their lives. Maintenance personnel have testified that the first explosions were in the sub-basement before the plane hit the tower. Demolition experts have testified that the buildings were without any doubt brought down by controlled demolition. Three thousand architects and engineers have said that the official story is impossible. Independent scientists have published their findings that the residue of the towers contains reacted and unreacted nano-thermite. But all of this talk has had no effect on the official coverup. The experts are dismissed as “conspiracy theorists,” a term that the CIA introduced into political discourse to discredit those who exposed the coverup of President Kennedy’s assassination.

Everytime I hear someone say “someone would have talked” when in fact legions did talk, my hope for my country ratchets downward. If you want me to keep confronting the insouciance and ignorance that are leading to disaster, you must support this site.

The remaining beleaguered forces for good have, it seems, arranged a hearing on June 14 in the House of Representatives for the re-enactment of Glass-Steagall, the repeal of which caused the 2007-08 financial crisis that had to be bailed out by US taxpayers and the Federal Reserve and that has left America with an economy essentially dead in the water, although covered up with false jobs and unemployment reports. Possibly I will be providing written testimony to the congressional hearing, which would be my 31st testimony before Congress, quite an achievement for a person who, according to the mysterious PropOrNot website, is a “Russian agent.”

In the event that I don’t post much between now and then, you will know that I am working on my testimony. In the meantime support this site. In America today, telling the truth is the surest way to having your character assassinated. I am using up my life in constant conflict with power that in my estimation may in fact be mightier than the pen.

US Begins Importing Iraqi Oil after Saudis Cut Production

Andy’s Notes: Me thinks maybe the Saudis are starting to run dry on a few key fields; namely Gawar. They’ve been pumping seawater like crazy to keep the pressures/output up. Maybe their best days are behind them. They certainly aren’t cooperating with us on any other fronts, so this could be more impertinence too. I’ll probably be burned at the stake for even mentioning this, but it makes one wonder about the whole Iraq conflict to begin with. The Pentagon is certainly forward thinking. If they knew the Sauds were running dry, well.. Just saying. It’d be a wise strategic move. Also, what happened to the whole energy independence assertion? If we’re truly energy independent, then we shouldn’t be importing from anyone. Of course, maybe the definition of ‘independence’ changed too while I wasn’t looking.

The United States has begun importing Iraqi oil at a rate of 1.1 million barrels per day to replace export cuts announced by Saudi Arabia late last month, new figures compiled by Bloomberg show.

New data from the Department of Energy suggests that during the first week of June, Iraqi oil entered the U.S. at the quickest rate in the past five years – marking the first time the nation’s exports exceeded those from Saudi Arabia over the same time period.

In late May, Riyadh announced its plans to purposely reduce exports to the United States to force a reduction in the latter’s sizeable inventories, which are preventing a greater rise in global oil prices, according to Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih.

Earlier that same month, Saudi Aramco said it would cut crude supplies to China, South Korea, and South East Asia by 1 million barrels each. The nations exports to Indian buyers in June were set to decline by just over 3 million barrels, and supplies to Japan will drop by just under 1 million barrels this month, according to a Reuters’ source.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) deal to reduce production does not set limits on the amount any member country can export to its customers. This is why Saudi cargoes to the U.S. in recent months have totaled 1.21 million barrels a day – the highest rates since 2014, the year of the oil price crash.

As the de facto leader and largest producer of OPEC, Saudi Arabia has cut its production the most of any member of the bloc. But stubbornly high fossil fuel inventories – which have been maintained worldwide, but are most readily measured in the U.S. due to open customs data – have prevented the measures from buttressing oil prices in a lasting way. Importer nations have opted to take advantage of low oil prices to stock up for the future.