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Is the U.S. on the Brink of an Unprecedented Financial Crisis?
By Patrick A. Heller, Market Update
July 01, 2008

In the past week, the economic news has been horrible.

" The Dow Jones Industrial Average first broke down through the 12,000 level that had been vigorously supported by indirect U.S. government manipulation for months. Then it quickly fell below 11,722, its year 2000 peak level, the next major psychological resistance point. Now it is significantly below that level.

" Major U.S. banks and brokerage firms have been turning the knives on each other, calling for their clientele to avoid investments of the other firms out of fear of major imminent revelations of huge losses.

" The Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclay Capital, and Fortis Bank have been predicting an imminent crash in the U.S. stock markets. Actually, RBS said it may take until September and may only see stock prices fall 25 percent. Over the weekend, Guido Lippens, the chairman of Fortis Bank, predicted a major financial collapse in the U.S. within a few weeks, including bankruptcies of 6,000 regional banks and many major companies (specifically naming Citigroup and General Motors).

When the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee met last Tuesday and Wednesday, it basically did nothing. Several analysts are taking this lack of action as a sign that the Federal Reserve has exhausted its clout to manipulate markets to the degree that it has done over most of the past year. To the extent this may be true, that could be a major sign that the U.S. may be on the brink of a huge financial crisis.

Even if the Federal Reserve still has a lot of financial and political options available, as I think they do, the Fed's reputation has suffered major damage. As one example, the business media are now much less likely to pass along the Fed's pronouncements without critical examination, and may even explain that such proclamations are not considered credible any longer.

The economic environment really scares me right now. Maybe there won't be a major crisis in the next few weeks or months. But I just don't see that the problems will be cured or go away.

I recommend owning a substantial position in physical gold or silver bullion-priced items in your immediate possession. I used to suggest that 10 percent of one's net worth be held in precious metals as insurance against financial calamities affecting the value of currencies and paper assets like stocks and bonds. Now, I think 20 percent and maybe even more would be a prudent allocation.


Is the U.S. on the Brink of an Unprecedented Financial Crisis?

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