Why do we say, “Thank God”, when the world is on fire?  Do we really have anything to be thankful for this Thanksgiving?  And why is gold such an undervalued asset?

While we fight our way through numbness and Weimer hyperinflation posing as a 1930s depression I’m not dumbfounded to learn that debt continues to mount exponentially everywhere I look.  It’s in the tea leaves of global financial stress and it’s the bottom line of every paycheck we earn.  Everybody’s heading for bankruptcy, and nobody seems to have a really solid answer on how to avoid it.

No business or governmental entity appears to be immune.  Financial writer John Rubino says nothing demonstrates the “imminent bankruptcy” problem for cities, states, and countries that are swimming in unrepayable debt better than the financial obligations of New York City.

“They just announced that they have unfunded liabilities for retiree healthcare, just retiree healthcare and not the rest of their pensions, of $100 billion,” Rubino, founder of blog and news aggregation site dollarcollapse.com, says.  “That’s for a city, not a state or a country, and if you add their unfunded liabilities for their pensions, which is another $50 billion or so, and their official debt, which is $50 billion or so, you get $200 billion that New York City is on the hook for that they have not put money away for.”

Across our nation many cities are having major financial problems that run parallel to debt.  Unfunded liabilities for pension funds are a real liability.  Unfunded liabilities for retiree healthcare alone, not the rest of their pensions, can be astronomical, as the New York City example illustrates. 

We’re talking about a city filled with generations of unlimited healthcare for life for those who retire at age sixty, which is a really big expense.  Then you add in the pension fund unfunded liabilities, that cities and states are on the hook for, but have not put the money away for. 

So if you’re a fireman, cop or school teacher, and you worked ten years for New York City, you got health care coverage forever.  Baby Boomer cops, firefighters and teachers are retiring in greater numbers now and they’re going want to get the benefits of that healthcare coverage and retirement pension as cities’ finances fail into bankruptcy, so where’s it going to come from?

Major cities like New York and Chicago and Los Angeles are facing bankruptcy because of these unfunded liabilities, and who’s going to be the first one to blow and how will that affect your family and state?

The city of New York’s problems aren’t my city’s problems, exactly, yet, but they are the type of problem facing pretty much every major city and state tied to every country in the world that’s tied to the U.S. dollar.  Think Puerto Rico, Turkey, and Chicago, Illinois.  Who is going to pay their debt bond holders when their revenue streams dry up?  Who’s going to pay to haul the trash and clean city streets?  It can be difficult trying to be thankful in a world that seems to be at war with everyone while we all go bankrupt.

WHO WILL BE THE FIRST DOMINO TO FALL IN THE PUBLIC PENSION CRISIS?

A hundred other states and cities are in the same position, says John Rubino to Greg Hunter on usawatchdog.com.  When one goes they all go.  At some point, the whole thing blows up.  We’re talking about our financial system here, and it’s all interrelated through debt.

Unfunded liabilities in many cities and states are greater than the amount of official debt.  They are real obligations.    

Financial stresses are cyclical, Rubino says, and the question for New York is will they be able to raise the revenue needed to continue to keep the city going and to pay off their bonds?  Running a city or government is expensive.  Where will NewYork – Chicago, LA, Illinois, Turkey, Puerto Rico or the US – continue to get their revenue from to pay their growing debt?  New York has Wall Street, and New York does well when there’s a bull market and everyone’s making money and paying taxes.  But what happens when there’s a bear market? Where then do they raise the capital to pay their bills? 

Ongoing expenses can eat up a tax revenue quickly, and then you throw in massive public sector obligations like pensions and healthcare that will break the bank for these municipalities.

 States and cities must have the money to take out the trash and keep the water running which can pose tremendous conflict when it comes time to pay their bond holders.  If they don’t they will be closed out of debt markets forever.  Forced to live within their means.  Make cuts, or raise taxes.  Taxes go up, services diminish, and everyone leaves.  The tax base moves out, which is what we see here in the Golden State.  Think San Francisco.

In California our problem is that we rely on Silicon Valley and tech IPO capital gains and when that goes away during a bear market our tax revenues plunge too, Rubino says.  What happens when the cash flow simply isn’t there for us anymore?  Do we all have to move to Reno?  If we get to the point of where nobody can pay their debts and the bondholders get stiffed, then what?

The government comes and bails everybody out, right.  When major companies like GE or a state or locality goes bankrupt the government usually steps in and assumes the bankrupt balance sheet of that company, municipality or state.  This has been the American way of doing business for many decades.  The taxpayers take on the burden, having assumed all of the risk, and our national debt expands.

WHAT IF NO ONE BAILS THEM OUT THIS TIME?

We don’t have to bail out failing cities or corporations.  We can allow them to go belly up and learn their lessons.  That’s how it goes with capitalism.  There’s room for failure.  It’s called bankruptcy. 

Of course even if the federal government doesn’t bail them out the Federal Reserve could step in with loan guarantees or some other kind of tools to bail out bankrupt entities, Rubino says.

President Trump can help teach a lesson to those who control the financial system, but will he?  Or are the numbers too great and will the threat to destabilize the entire system be too scary to most?  Everyone wants to know who will be the next Lehman Brothers.  Will it be Chicago?  Goldman Sachs?  Apple?  PG&E?  New York City?

Due to all the debt America has taken on we’re going to see a collapse in the U.S. dollar, the financial writer tells Greg Hunter.  That much is clear.  There’s too much pressure on the system.  That pressure has to be released somehow.  It could be released through the deflationary path, where we let them go bankrupt.  Or we could bail them out.

But is that a legitimate solution to our financial issues at this time?  Rubino says that it only masks the problem.  “If you bail out all that debt, you shift the pressure over to the currency markets,” Rubino says.  “In other words, we’re creating trillions and trillions of new dollars, dumping them in the system propping up the bond market.  And then people realize the currency itself is in oversupply.”

That’s when people convert their currencies into hard assets like farmland, rental properties, or gold and silver.  The currency has collapsed and smart investors want value.

But the economic model is still going to have to be replaced.  The present system is destroyed beyond repair.  That’s why Russia, China and other Asian countries are bailing on the U.S. dollar and buying up all the gold.

“You reinstitute some kind of sound money,” Rubino says.  “So that is the most likely way out of this for us.  This is what happens when people understand fiat currencies and that giving government an unlimited printing press is a bad idea and we have to rectify that.”

How we rectify that will be discussed in part two of Thank God for gold.