I recently had the privilege to speak with Ross Powell who is with the Survival 401K company. I wanted to get in touch with Ross to ask about the banking situation and how small businesses, enterprises both domestic and with foreign interests, as well as individuals could understand and be prepared for the cloudy forecast ahead. SPECIFICALLY, I wanted to ask about the whole banking goings on.
Ross Powell understands the ins and outs of banks and – for our interests – business continuity for businesses and people who need to move money in our banks and concerned about our balances – staying as balances.
So I sought out Ross and he graciously gave his attention to the follow big questions.
Question: Ross, What do you believe is a high priority for a U.S. business engaged in the global market place or has supply chain dependencies on international trade – with respect to banking and moving money around?
Ross: Every business owner – and in fact, anyone with an interest in investing or moving their money around should have SITUATIONAL AWARENESS – with respect to the local, domestic and international financial markets. Be aware of and recognize what is going on in the world. I would say right now – specifically Asia and Europe. For example – the negative interest rates in Japan and Europe – this is going on right now and could be coming to banks in the US.
(Note: I looked this up – Ross is speaking about the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, and Banks in Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden). ZIRP or NIRP – Negative interest mean that we don’t earn anything on our money – in fact – we have to pay fees just to keep our money in the bank.)
Ross: For example some of the rates are up to -3% – so if you have $100,000 in the bank – you will earn ($3,000.00) – YOU LOSE $3K – just to lodge your money in the bank. This is to keep the banks making a profit on their operations – and also to encourage us all to spend our money and get it going into the economy. Check out Velocity of Money https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/M2V Theoretically, punishing savers will increase spending but in reality it only encourages folks to take their money out in cash and stuff it in various hiding places.
Question: So – while we don’t know the fine details of this – it means we are not going to be earning money on our money – it means we are losing money on our money.
Ross: Yes, that is EXACTLY what it means and we need to take a good look at what the Fed and the nation’s banking industry is doing. Don’t be caught blindsided when all of the sudden you lose 3% of your money. And, another key indicator of the global economy that should be on everyone’s dashboard is the Baltic Dry Index. This is the current snap shot of the global trade and shipping associated with dry goods (not oil) such as steel, coal, other bulk commodities. Right now the indicator shows that imports into the US are way down and shipping into the US is at its lowest in many years. This drop in business activity indicates a global economic slow-down and is an indicator of a looming global recession. Even though we have these indicators – we need to do our own research here – the facts speak for themselves.
(Note – I looked this up – Here’s a quote from Hellenics news shipping worldwide:
Baltic Dry Index is compiled by the London-based Baltic Exchange and covers prices for transported cargo such as coal, grain and iron ore. The index is based on a daily survey of agents all over the world. Baltic Dry hit a temporary peak on May 20, 2008, when the index hit 11,793. The lowest level ever reached was on Wednesday, February 10 2016, when the index dropped to 290 points.) Yikes!
Ross: So in addition to checking out the BDI, I also check the Market Purchasing Manager’s Index –market PMI, which is a check on the pulse of orders and purchasing in manufacturing. The steep decline in the past year indicates a contraction in manufacturing. It is just another measure of the economy.
(Note: I checked it out – found an article at.www.businessinsider.com http://www.businessinsider.com/markit-flash-services-pmi-february-2016-2)
Ross: The downslide in crude Oil and Gas markets are already impacting the economy – and there are so many things happening. We are seeing a number of total shutdowns – around 40 and the number is climbing for bankruptcies, the loss of over 100,000 jobs in all the states with oil drilling, and a major problem for the banks who are financing these enterprises – which brings us back to the negative interest rates and maybe even a restriction on cash withdrawals.
(Note: Again – I checked this out see: http://www.oilandgas360.com/oil-and-gas-bankruptcies-climb-to-more-than-16-billion-in-2015 . Not good.)
Ross: So everyone should be checking the economic indicators – it is more than the stock market indices – though those are also good things to monitor.
Question: Ross, what do you check for yourself?
Ross: Jan, every morning I check www.zerohedge.com to find out the latest. This website brings in articles and events from all over the globe and you can get a good quick view of what has happened over night and watch for trends. You can also do what you have done – just check out the announcements and news from the internet browser searches – you will find the same information.
Question: What then do you advise your own constituents and what would you say to those who are asking themselves – what can I do?
Ross: Ok, I’ll tell you what I think is good preparation.
- Check out all your deposit accounts right now – which ones are producing – how much margin do you have in them and can you protect any performance they may have. Certificates of Deposit and some investment strategies may continue to perform – find out.
- Can you afford to lose 3% of current deposits and future deposits? If not, start strategizing on how to leverage your cash value now. For some, this may be investment in inventory. For others, this may converting cash to say – real property – or income property like rentals.
- Check out your debt to income ratio – if you are leveraged and if a contraction of 3-10% of your current holdings and future income will create a serious crisis for you – start aligning your financial situation now. We are not yet into zero interest (though just about) – but right now we are still in the positive balance – get yourself situated so that you can absorb a contraction.
- Check out your bank. How is it doing? Do you have faith in it to keep alive if other sectors of the economy slow-down? In 2008 it was the mortgage bubble – find out what your bank has underwritten with respect to investments and if it is big in oil and gas – whew – think about where you bank. Make sure they have enough on deposit liquidity to give you your money if you need it.
- Now here is where I think people ought to really go after – Think about owning real precious metals – I’m talking real gold, real silver. NOT AN INVESTMENT FUND in gold and silver – but the real stuff. Gold has been inching higher and silver was higher, took a little dive, and is now going back up. It costs a little fee to buy it, and once it is in your hand, you need to know how to convert it back to dollars if you need to or to realize a profit – but this is actual wealth and value.
- And lastly keeping enough money in your deposit and debit accounts to cover a good month or two in the event you suffer a slow-down in revenue. We just don’t know what can happen – if there is a sudden run on the banks – they may restrict withdrawals. If they go to a NO CASH – such as Greece, you can’t get to your money through ATMS and such – but you can move it around through spending – that’s what they want anyway.
- And the final last – I really recommend a supply of hard cash (at the business or at home – not in a bank safe deposit box) so that you can handle daily emergencies, keep some supplies around and handle cash transactions with customers who may be doing the same.
Question: Ross, you also work with strategies for businesses and individuals who do have cash and want your guidance – right?
Ross: Yes – I always enjoy talking with people, hearing their situations and helping move forward in the best manner to meet their goals. Please encourage your readers to contact me – include a note indicating they read this blog – with the turmoil and volatility in the markets I have been inundated with callers but I will always make time to talk with people who want and need help.
I want to thank Ross Powell for his time and expertise and guidance. This comes from someone whose previous position was to make sure the bank stayed in business. Now he is helping US stay in business. If you would like to get in touch with Ross Powell please go to: https://survival401k.com – wise decisions in perilous times! Ross specializes in retirement – but also works with people who want to invest outside of traditional retirement strategies. Question: Ross – do you have a last word?
Ross: Just tell your folks to stay vigilante and don’t just listen to the cable news shows. Read daily about the goings on in the world because these are complicated times and the whole world is interconnected.