Born in A.D. 1932, Hugo Salinas Price holds degrees from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, the Instituto Tecnologico at Monteray, Mexico, as well a law degree from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. The man is well-educated.
He founded Mexico’s Elektra retail chain and became one of the world’s wealthiest men. He’s currently retired from business and focused on restoring a silver-based monetary system for Mexico.
In a recent article (“The Coming Liquidation”), Salinas-Price warns of an approaching crisis when investors will try to sell (liquidate) their bonds and learn that no one will buy at full face value. Panic will ensue. Prices will crash. Fortunes will be lost. The world economy could collapse.
According to Salinas-Price,
“The total world debt is $223 trillion. . . . That is actual debt, and does not include the potential debt lying in derivatives of this debt, which is another humongous amount which would become debt should there be any significant default on the existing $223 Trillion world debt.”
“The $223 Trillion world debt is like a huge cloud up in the sky. It is of vital importance for the world of finance that the $223 Trillion world debt continue ‘up in the sky,’ and that it not be subject to liquidation.”
Salinas-Price Warning #1: It is of “vital importance that the world debt remain primarily unliquidated.
Salinas-Price didn’t define “liquidation” in his article. However, he did tell us that,
1) “’Liquidation’ and ‘payment’ are two different things,” and,
2) “‘Liquidation’ means that holders of debt seek to exchange the debt they hold, for cash.”
That description is sufficient to explain the meaning of “liquidation”:
The “payment” of a debt is the obligation of the debtor to the creditor.
The right of “liquidation” belongs to the creditor and doesn’t directly involve the debtor.
To illustrate, suppose Bob borrows $10,000 from the First National Bank. As the debtor, it would be Bob’s obligation to repay that $10,000 debt on some future date to the creditor (First National Bank).
However, that First National Bank (creditor) has the right to “liquidate” Bob’s debt by selling Bob’s promissory note to some third party (like the Second National Bank). Bob would still owe the $10,000 debt, but he’d no longer owe it to the First National Bank because the First had “liquidated” the debt instrument (Bob’s promissory note) by selling it to the Second.
Bob is still the debtor, but the First National Bank is no longer the creditor. Thanks to the “liquidation” (sale) of the paper debt-instrument (Bob’s promissory note), the Second National Bank will have become the creditor.
• The same thing happens with bonds traded (liquidated) on the bond markets. In essence, Bob might purchase a government bond for, say, $10,000. By doing so, Bob loans $10,000 to the government. Bob is the original lender; the government is the debtor.
The bond, itself, is a paper debt-instrument that serves as evidence of that loan and as title to the bond-holder (that’s Bob) to receive the government’s repayment of the $10,000 loan (plus interest) at some future date.
However, if Bob (creditor in this example) suddenly needs $10,000 in cash, he can “liquidate” the $10,000 bond he possesses by selling it to some third party. This “liquidation” has nothing to do with the value of the debt. The government still owes $10,000 to whoever holds/owns the bond (paper debt-instrument). By liquidating the bond, the person entitled to collect $10,000 from the government changes from Bob to some new third party who purchased the bond from Bob on the bond market.
This sale/liquidation has no direct impact on the value of the bond. The government still owes $10,000 to whoever holds the bond.
• Therefore, we’re left to wonder why Salinas-Price gives his Warning #2 that,
“The problem for the world’s central bankers is . . . there must be no movement to get rid of bonds in exchange for cash.”
There must be no mass movement to sell/liquidate bonds for cash. Why not?
First, by saying there must be no “mass movement to sell/liquidate bonds,” Salinas-Price is not saying that individuals shouldn’t be allowed to sell their bonds on the open market. But, he is saying that we must not allow a “mass” sale of bonds by the “masses”. Since a “mass” sale or movement would constitute a “panic”.
The danger in mass liquidation of bonds is not to the debtor/government. The danger is to private investors who purchase bonds. The essence of a mass liquidation crisis is a market where there are far more sellers than buyers. Under those circumstances, if sellers are determined to sell, they must agree to sell their investments for less—sometimes much, much less—than they paid.
Thus, a mass liquidation crisis can cause investors to lose much of their investment capital. If enough of that capital is lost, it could trigger a global, economic collapse. Salinas-Price warns that such loss is both inevitable and close at hand.
• Historically, most investors didn’t liquidate their paper-debt-instruments very often. They tended to buy and hold investments for the long term.
In recent years, speculators have tended to “liquidate” their investments more quickly in order to turn a fast buck.
Today’s “High Frequency Trading” (HFT) computers liquidate investments in terms of micro-seconds.
Implication: We’re liquidating our investments at an ever-faster pace. Salinas-Price warns that if we liquidate too much, too fast, we could trigger a global economic collapse.
Danger: If two or more HFT computers overreact to each other’s buying and selling algorithms, they can enter into a self-reinforcing spiral (“deadly embrace”) that could trigger a mass “liquidation” and market collapse.
If they’re small enough, we might label such computer-driven price declines as “flash crashes”. If such declines are deep enough, we might call them “flash catastrophes” of the sort seen at Revelation 18:10, 17, and 19.
Given the predominance of speculators and HFT computers in today’s markets, the average rate of liquidation is increasing as are the potential dangers perceived by Salinas-Price.
• We mortal (as opposed to digital) investors believe that our stocks, bonds, pension accounts, bank accounts are all “liquid”. That is, we believe that our paper investments can be sold at any time we please for roughly full face value. We might lose a few dollars; we might gain a few dollars; but, basically, we’re confident that we can sell our investments for roughly as much or more than we paid for them.
That belief seems generally true so long as virtually everyone doesn’t try to simultaneously sell their paper debt-instruments in a mass liquidation. If masses of investors tried to suddenly and simultaneously “liquidate” a significant portion of the world’s debt-instruments, the values of those instruments would drop like stones.
Because if most of us tried to sell simultaneously, we’d find out that there aren’t enough buyers and we therefore couldn’t sell for full face value. There’d be more paper debt-instrument sellers than buyers. If masses of investors realized that they couldn’t liquidate their investments at full face value, they’d probably panic and repeatedly cut the price of their investments until they were willing to sell them for 10 cents on the dollar, maybe less.
If enough paper collateral were vaporized during a “flash catastrophe”/mass liquidation, the US or even world financial systems could collapse.
• The term “toxic assets” was coined back around A.D. 2008 when panicky investors tried to simultaneously liquidate (sell) piles of paper-debt-instruments on the markets, found out that they couldn’t do so, and began to think that their paper debt-instruments were worthless. A.D. 2007-2008 marked a near “mass liquidation” that came within hours of collapsing the US and global economies.
The Federal Reserve stopped that mass liquidation by purchasing trillions of dollars’ worth of “toxic assets”. The Fed filled in for the absence of buyers by purchasing “toxic assets” (that could’ve been purchased at a fraction of their former market value) at or near full face value. The Fed prevented a full-blown “mass liquidation” (which would’ve pushed the world economy into depression), by soaking up all the “toxic assets” that investors wanted to sell into a market where there were few, if any, buyers.
A “toxic asset” is the economic residue of a “mass liquidation”. Sellers tried to get cash by liquidating their investments. Buyers could not be found. The investments were therefore labeled “toxic assets”.
However, by proving that all of the “toxic assets” that couldn’t be sold at previous market value on the free market, the Fed sustained public confidence in the paper debt-instrument financial system. The Fed sustained the fundamental confidence: that we can safely “liquidate” our intrinsically-worthless, paper debt-instruments whenever we want at full market price to others.
Our fiat-currency, debt-based financial system runs on confidence. That system is a con-game run by con-artists. That confidence (in paper we trust) is primarily based on the presumption that all of our paper debt-instruments (stocks, bonds, etc.) are always “liquid” (we can exchange them for cash whenever we please). We purchase paper debt-instruments because we presume that we can sell those paper debt-instruments at any time for, basically, full face value and recover their more-or-less full cash value.
Yes, we understand that the price of our investments might go up or down, but we presume that they are “liquid” and will not decline substantially whenever we choose to sell them. We presume that, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s market manipulation, stock and bond profits will generally rise in a never-ending bull market.
However, in the event of a widespread “liquidation” of investments, investors would learn that those presumptions are false. Learning those presumptions are false, investors would lose confidence in the markets, panic, try to sell everything and thereby precipitate a financial collapse.
• In A.D. 2008, the Fed began to purchase over $3 trillion worth of “toxic assets”. The Fed did so to prevent the public from learning that the fundamental presumption of liquidity is an illusion, and therefore lose confidence in the markets. By agreeing to pay full face value for investments whose real market prices were far lower, the Fed prevented a mass liquidation and mass loss of confidence that could’ve collapsed the economy. In doing so, the Fed increased its “balance sheet” from about $850 billion to $4.4 trillion.
The “toxic asset” phenomenon resulted from speculators trying to liquidate their paper debt-instruments into a free market that wouldn’t buy them at full face value. The terms “toxic assets” and “illiquid assets” are roughly synonymous. In general, they mean “too many sellers; not enough buyers”.
• Salinas-Price warns that a second episode of mass liquidation is close and more dangerous than that of A.D. 2008.
In A.D. 2008, the Federal Reserve had sufficient capital to purchase over $3 trillion worth of “toxic assets” at or near full face value. But could the Fed do it again?
If we faced a second price-dropping moment of widespread illiquidity, how much could the Fed spend this time to shore up public confidence? Not much. The Fed already has a $4.4 trillion balance sheet that’s chock-full of “toxic assets” that might be worth less than $2 trillion, maybe less than $1 trillion.
Already choking on too many toxic assets, the Fed may not be able to buy large quantities of “toxic”/“illiquid” assets.
A recognized loss of liquidity (ability to quickly sell one’s investments at full price) would precipitate investor panic.
If we go into another “Great Recession,” there’ll be no one to purchase our “toxic assets” at full face value.
There’ll be no “bail-outs”.
Bonds and stocks prices will plummet. Desperate investors will only be able to “liquidate” their assets at significantly lowered prices. Investors’ confidence will fail. Markets will fall. Investors will lose their paper assets.
- Salinas-Price: “World debt will continue to be a massive cloud up in the sky, as long as investors wish to own [i.e, “hold”; not “liquidate”] bonds. Since central banks drove interest rates down all over the world to absurdly low levels—even to negative interest rates—prices of previously-issued bonds rose to equally absurd levels and thus created huge profits for those who owned [held] those bonds.”
Salinas-Price implies that by lowering interest rates to Near-Zero, the Fed made bonds so artificially profitable that no one wanted to sell/liquidate.
If so, it follows that one purpose for Near-Zero Interest Rates may have been to prevent people from simultaneously liquidating their bonds en masse. That, in turn, suggests that the Fed knows that US bonds are significantly over-priced and doesn’t want that knowledge to seep into the bond market and cause drastically falling prices.
It would also follow that, if the Fed raised interest rates (or even threatened to do so), it might trigger a mass liquidation of bonds and significant price decline. This would explain why Janet Yellen and the Fed have been so reluctant to raise interest rates. If they do, they might collapse the US and even global economies.
• Note that it’s not the government-debtor that loses during a widespread liquidation of bonds. It’s the speculators who purchased bonds before the mass liquidation, and then tried to liquidate/sell the bonds who lose.
Government has already received the $10,000 cash paid by the original creditor. If that creditor sold the bond, whoever is left holding the bond at a moment of liquidation crisis will lose if he tries to sell at that time. If he holds the bond until maturity and the government-debtor is still in business, the bond-holder’s investment may be redeemed. But if he panics and tries to sell into the illiquid market, he’ll lose much of his investment.
While a liquidation crisis won’t cause government to lose on the falling prices of existing bonds, government will lose on the sale of new bonds. So long as the market insists on paying only, say, $5,000 for an existing $10,000 bond, the government will be hard-pressed to sell its next tranche of new $10,000 bonds for more than $5,000. Liquidation of existing bonds should increase the government’s costs for new borrowing.
• If US bonds suffer a mass liquidation, stocks should follow.
Let’s assume that many who invest in bonds also invest in stocks. Let’s also assume that if an investor really needs $10,000 and can’t get it by selling his bonds, he will sell some of his stocks.
If widespread bond liquidation leads to widespread stock liquidation, we can expect a stock market panic—complete with plunging stock prices—to follow a bond market panic.
Result? Wealth stored in most paper debt-instruments will be destroyed, the money supply will shrink, and the nation will slide deeper into an economic recession or depression.
• Salinas-Price Warning #3: “Banking systems invest in bonds. Bonds make up an important part of their assets. In Europe, if the assets of the banking system fall by only 4%, then the whole European banking system is bankrupt.
“A collapse in bond prices caused by rises in interest rates would be deadly for the whole European banking system, and if Europe collapses, the rest of the world would have to follow suit.
In my previous examples, I’ve speculated on what might happen if a bond liquidation crisis caused a $10,000 bond to be priced at $5,000 and lose 50% of its face value. Salinas-Price warns that we don’t need a 50% fall in bond prices to trigger a global collapse. A mere 4% fall in the EU bond markets could be enough.
A computer-driven flash crash could cause a 4% fall.
If Salinas-Price is right, then, whenever interest rates rise, the bond markets will fall, and the rest of the paper-debt-instrument markets should follow.
But, will interest rates rise? Will the Fed or the European Central Bank dare to raise interest rates by more than a few basis points—if at all?
“Interest rates will have to rise, sooner or later; [but] central bankers tremble when they see the slightest sign that interest rates are ticking up.
“Obviously, the FED and ECB cannot even think of raising interest rates; they are trapped and wait in dread for the deluge of bond liquidation when the $223 Trillion debt cloud hanging over the world turns into a cloudburst.”
Inevitably, interest rates will rise and some sort of bond mass liquidation crisis will probably ensue. But Salinas-Price implies that the Fed can’t raise interest rates anytime soon. Just hinting that interest rates might rise could trigger the mass liquidation crisis that Salinas-Price warns “must” be prevented.
If the Fed does raise interest rates in, say, September—will they trigger a mass liquidation crisis and bond price collapse?
If the Fed doesn’t raise interest rates, how long can the bond markets stay artificially profitable before those profits create another distortion large enough to triggers a collapse?
• The Fed’s problem isn’t simply to calm the savage, flesh-and-blood investors, but also to pray to God that the digital investors (HFT computers) don’t interact and over-react to cause a major flash crash that precipitates a mass liquidation crisis in the bond market.
The Fed is caught between the rock and the hard place. They’re darned if they do raise interest rates, and darned if they don’t.
Mr. Salinas-Price has warned that a bond liquidation crisis is inevitable and coming soon.
If he’s right, the only investors who won’t be ruined by an inevitable liquidity crisis will be those who invest their wealth in something other than paper debt-instruments—something tangible like cash, silver or gold.
That’s undoubtedly why Hugo Salinas-Price is devoting his time to trying to persuade Mexico to return to a silver-based monetary system. He’s trying to protect his country from the coming global liquidation of paper debt-instruments.
• Here, in the US, if a mass liquidation occurs, prices fall, and the Fed can’t step in to purchase all of the next round of “toxic assets,” prices will plummet. Current investors will be ruined.
But there’ll be a silver lining for some. Those who have savings denominated in cash, silver or gold, and the nerve to invest in an illiquid market, will be able to buy stocks, bonds, land, buildings, factories and farms for ten cents on the dollar. Maybe less.
With enough patience to wait for a couple of years to see markets begin to be restored, someone with $100,000 in accessible savings willing to buy investment vehicles at the “buy-low” moment that will follow a mass liquidation might see those saving grow to a $1 million or more.
But, note that I stressed that those savings must be “accessible”. In the event of a “mass liquidation” crisis, those who have $100,000 in cash savings tied up in their local bank may be unable access those savings. If the bank can’t or won’t give you your cash, you won’t be able to “buy low” during a mass liquidation. There won’t be any credit. If you can’t lay hands on your cash, silver or gold, your opportunity to buy at the absolute low will be lost.
On the other hand, if your cash, silver or gold savings are squirreled away in your mattress, hidden in the walls or rafters of your home, or buried in your back yard, it will be “accessible” when it’s needed to capitalize on the buy-low moment that a “mass liquidation” is bound to precipitate.
Implication: If you were convinced that a “mass liquidation,” price decline, and “buy-low” moment was inevitable and coming soon, now (before that mass liquidation) would be the time to accumulate savings in the form of cash, silver or gold that would be accessible after the mass liquidation begins.