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Just read that last week there was not one freighter in the South China Sea carrying raw materials to China. I can not believe that the world’s largest exporter did not need any raw materials. Is this the first indication that the world economy is grinding to a halt?

Right on target Roadracer. I had to go back and search for it, but I remembered seeing a somewhat similar indicator a few months ago (turned out it was back in September 2015) from a Casey Research analyst:

The world economy appears to be stalling…

Yesterday, we got news that South Korea’s exports dropped 14.7% since last August…their largest decline since the financial crisis. It’s far worse than the 5.9% drop economists were expecting.

South Korea’s exports are important because they’re considered a “canary in the coalmine” for the global economy. South Korea is a major exporter to the largest economies in the world including China, the US, and Japan. South Korea also releases its export numbers much earlier than other major countries. That’s why a bad reading for South Korean exports is often the first sign that the global economy is in trouble.

Personally, I’m convinced that everything is so incredibly manipulated that we may not ever get a chance to unravel it in a controlled manner. Anyone that’s ever gone fishing with a spinning reel knows that some backlashes can be carefully and painstakingly “undone,” before eventually getting back to fishing. But sometimes the mess is so bad that all of it has to just be cut away from the reel, and an entirely new reel of line wound on. I think we’re in for a complete cutting away of the economy – world wide – before we can ever go back to “fishing.”

One of the most absurd things that extremely few people realize is that the Federal Reserve has “bought” up massive amounts of US debt. Thus, the US balance sheet doesn’t look nearly as bad as it really is, despite being as horribly bad as it does look anyway (if anyone bothers to look). Where does the Fed get the money to “buy” up Government debt (not even touching the issues involved with a non-government agency literally controlling the US economy, and largely even the world’s economies)? An in depth review of the free area on John Williams’ Shadow Stats web sight is very instructive in this regard, where he shows clear evidence of the manipulation of the economy through changing definitions, ignoring of previously used measures, and even outright lying.

Gold should be going through the roof if historical “logic” and trends were in play here, simply based on the extreme risk to capital in worthless paper economies, grossly overpriced stocks, worthless bond issues, etc. Gold has always been the “insurance” against extreme risk – yet it is relatively languishing, compared to the real risks out there today. But the general population isn’t even seeing these kinds of issues discussed on the “news” at 6pm, or in their morning papers. They may notice that soup cans are higher priced and smaller sized, or that gallons of ice cream are only 3 quarts these days and cost far more than the old gallon boxes did, etc. The subtle signs of stress are there, and everybody knows they’re paying more for healthcare, for example. But those are the issues that are being focused on for political purposes, in order to keep the ruling class in power (regardless of which label they wear), and almost no one sees the real macro issues such as you point out. Good post.