An economic hurricane is about to wipe out the United States and collapse the global economy: What the future holds

I have been trying to put together a piece for the economics section of the wrap-up of politics and economics, but I’ve been having a hard time. How do you begin to describe a scene where your witnessing the bloody victims of the largest train wreck in history be robbed by the authorities, let alone the part where bystanders are applauding as rescuers use kerosene to put out the ensuing fire?

The present economic crisis that is enveloping the world is brilliant and frightening. A rapidly changing spectacular play unfolding in real time so devastating that it will affect every living species on this planet. Unfortunately, many continue to believe that our centralized governments will be able to prevent a global economic meltdown, or even that the damage will be contained and the United States will remain the only casualty.

There are however other more critical points of view.

To help disseminate information about some of these alternate perspectives, which I believe should be more prevalent in every day discussion, I have decided to provide some sound-bites that can be used to convince those who remain on the sidelines to prepare for the inevitable.

Time permitting additional information will be added to this post in the future (permalink).

The Perspective:
I live in Vancouver, Canada, and during the summers we get a lot of tourists from the United States, albeit the numbers have substantially dwindled in the last few years due to the collapse of the US dollar and its economy.

This summer, like previous years, I had the opportunity to talk to some family and friends, as well as a few random tourists, who visited Vancouver from the United States - their economic status ranging from the extremely well off in terms of monetary assets to the carefree insolvent individual. The common thread between everyone regarding their political and economic status was that they believed the United States was going through an economic crisis. Its magnitude was the only thing in question.

Some believed that this crisis was a short-term blip and that the United States would recover within a few months. Others thought that it would take years before their country got back on track. After a few conversations however, it soon became clear that none of the residents of the United States that I interacted with understood the seriousness of the situation.

In an effort to shatter the delusion of security that seemed to be so prevalent, certain anecdotes and data where presented from an ‘outside the box’ point of view. Slowly, as this information was processed, many began to understand the magnitude of the current crisis.

Some of the arguments used during these interactions are provided below.

What the Future Holds:

1) Some Highlights of What is Happening: The rules of the game have changed: Liquidity disappears and markets collapse (permalink)

2) The Reason for What is Happening: The dot-com crash did not kill technology: Evolving through exponential growth (permalink)

3) Wait Until You See What is Coming: The environmental revolution will surpass that of our technological evolution: One of our best solutions is to end prohibition (permalink)

The rules of the game have changed: Liquidity disappears and markets collapse

It is our technological evolution that is bringing about an economic metamorphosis that we see manifesting itself as a global financial crisis.

With the credit crunch and the disappearance of liquidity from the markets, the rules of the game are changing, and no where is this change more pronounced than global stock markets.

Centralized banks around the world are at present trying to prevent a rapid global economic meltdown - the key phrase here being 'rapid', since a meltdown is all but certain. The game has changed, the only question that remains is if the change will wipe out the established economic system or will the transition be moderate enough for centralized powers to consolidate assets.

Some falsely believe that nationalizing assets such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae by adding an additional $5.5 trillion to the US national debt while injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into global markets and multinational corporations will create liquidity. This, as of October 2008, has turned into a pipe dream. Taxpayer money that is so generously being donated to multinational conglomerates is not finding its way to the consumer. It is however, being used to create a buffer for those who know what is coming in the near future.

The following are some sound bites to help clarify what we are dealing with regarding the current economic meltdown:

  1. America, your are not alone: First and foremost, when reviewing the following information, the citizens of the United States should understand that they are not alone in this crisis. What is happening is a global phenomenon, however, you, in the United States, will bear the full force of this unprecedented economic hurricane.

  2. United States corporation has incompetent management: Politically and economically the United States of America has been established and functions as a corporation, and as with most corporations, its functionality is dependent on the competency of its management.

    The two most important positions in any corporation are that of the chief executive officer (CEO) and the chief financial officer (CFO). If either or both of these positions are occupied by incompetent people, then the company faces a crisis. It is also true that if either one of these top-level managers states, that the company is insolvent and in danger of collapsing, then the company faces major restructuring, and usually its stock plummets. This is exactly what has happened to the United States.

    Most would agree, as the polls indicate, that the President of the United States, representing the CEO of the company, has been incompetent. As for the CFO, it was David M. Walker, the Comptroller General of the United States, who at the beginning of 2008 resigned his commission 5 years before the end of his 15-year term expired. Walker’s reasons for resigning were that he was limited on what he could do and that the United States was in danger of collapsing in much the same manner as the “Roman Empire.” For months before his resignation he traveled the country educating Americans about the financial crisis and the pending bankruptcy of the United States .

    Right now the United States is operating with an incompetent CEO and an interim CFO. As David M. Walker stated, the United States is bankrupt, which is why its stock, the dollar, “is in the tank.” This could explain why there is a tax revolt quietly brewing in the United States, and why the Federal Reserve is trying to maintain a stranglehold on Americans by waging war on those who are choosing to become decentralized by creating local currencies.

  3. Many more bank failures to come: We should be bracing ourselves for thousands of bank failures, and not just those in the United States, but bank failures from around the world.

    Just to give you an idea on how many banks we should be expecting to fail in the near future, consider this: “The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s was the failure of 747 savings and loan associations (S&Ls) in the United States. The ultimate cost of the crisis is estimated to have totaled around USD$160.1 billion, about $124.6 billion of which was directly paid for by the U.S. government - that is, the U.S. taxpayer, either directly or through charges on their savings and loan accounts - which contributed to the large budget deficits of the early 1990s.” But that wasn’t the end of the story. Many more banks failed due to the S&L crisis. “Between 1980 and 1994 more than 1,600 banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) were closed or received FDIC financial assistance.”

    The current economic crisis dwarfs that of the S&Ls. Just the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac alone will cost taxpayers over $5 trillion. Add to this the hundreds of billions of dollars being used to bailout not just financial institutions but other struggling companies, then you begin to see what is really happening to the United States.

    As of this writing, 5 October 2008, there have been less than two dozen bank failures in the US. If $160 billion resulted in 1,600 bank failures in the 1980’s and 90’s, how many bank failures would you expect when trillions of dollars are involved? Exactly!

    As Jonathan Weil has commented: “When the history is written on the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it will go down in the annals of corporate scandals as one of the greatest accounting scams committed in broad daylight.”

  4. Good luck trying to declare bankruptcy: Our centralized government representatives would like us to believe that the subprime mortgage crisis was not expected, however, the truth is that it was expected and authorities knew that a multi-billion dollar crime was being committed.

    In 1999 the New York Times reported that the easing of credit requirements on loans would mean that Fannie Mae would be “taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's… ‘If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.’” This was reported in 1999.

    In 2004, “Long before the mortgage crisis began rocking Main Street and Wall Street, a top FBI official made a chilling, if little-noticed, prediction: The booming mortgage business, fueled by low interest rates and soaring home values, was starting to attract shady operators and billions in losses were possible. “‘It has the potential to be an epidemic,’ Chris Swecker, the FBI official in charge of criminal investigations, told reporters in September 2004. But, he added reassuringly, the FBI was on the case. ‘We think we can prevent a problem that could have as much impact as the S&L crisis,’ he said.”

    So what did our regulators, politicians and institutions do to protect the average American citizen from this scam? In 2005, they created Debt Slavery by passing the The Bankruptcy Bill.

    After years of lobbying, the “dream bill for credit card and financial service companies” finally came into effect in the United States. Three years ago the financial institutions that were preparing for the coming crash were able to lobby Congress to pass the ‘Bankruptcy Bill.’ This law that took effect in 2005 created what is now widely referred to as Debt Slavery and is “the biggest rewrite of U.S. bankruptcy law in a quarter century”.

    The Bill was conveniently introduced at a time when US household debt was at an all time high.

    click to enlarge source

    Those who were wise enough to realize what the implications of the Bill would be, declared bankruptcy before it took effect. Those unfortunates who have been caught unaware are now just realizing that corporations, whose debts are wiped clean when they declare bankruptcy, have more rights than they do. Unfortunately, since personal bankruptcies have been surging, many people are finding out about their slave status the hard way.

    In short, the United States government just added trillions of dollars of liabilities, that are worth pennies on the dollar, to the national debt, and the American citizen will be responsible for paying back this, and their own personal debt, with interest. And to make sure that everyone will pay back this debt, they conveniently passed the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill, making it much harder for people to get a fresh start by declaring bankruptcy. The kicker being, that they passed this bill a year after the FBI stated that they were investigating shady dealings in the mortgage sector.

    I just wanted to clear that up.

  5. The bailouts are a drop in the bucket: The hundreds of billions of dollars being used to bailout national and multinational corporations is nothing compared to the Social Security and Medicare debt entitlements of $75 trillion and the multi-trillion dollar derivatives market. Hold on tight, it is going to get real ugly.

  6. The world is dumping the US dollar: In the year 2000, Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, became the first OPEC country to stop using US dollars in its oil business and start using the euro - many believe that this was the main reason why the United States invaded Iraq.

    Even though Iraq’s dumping of the US currency is no longer an issue since the United States is now occupying Iraq, many countries continue to sell the dollar, converting their reserves to other currencies. The stampede to get out of the US dollar has been accelerating since 2000. Some of the countries dumping the dollar are: Iran, Sweden, Cuba, U.A.E., China, Russia, India, Indonesia, North Korea, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Syria, and many more.

    This, in addition to the discontinuance of M3 on 23 March 2006 by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the flooding of US dollars into the economy by creating money “Out of Thin Air”, has caused the US currency to be devalued to the point where “central banks and finance ministries (of other countries) are setting up obstacles to keep the falling dollar from threatening company profits and economic growth.”

    Not knowing how much money the Banks are printing means that there is no longer an accurate indication of how much currency is in circulation. This basically means that we are playing Monopoly with people who can take money out of the bank anytime they want, because they are the bank. This should be raising alarm bells across the United States the way it has done across the world, as the dumping of the US dollar by most countries indicates. After all, why would anyone want to hold on to a currency that is continuously being devalued?

    The ultimate question is, how long is it going to take the US economy to collapse in on itself, specially since there is "talk of worst recession since the 1930s".

  7. US debt is worth pennies on the dollar: One bit of information that I have come across which really made me grasp the dire situation that the United States was in, was written by Robert Gottliebsen appearing in Australia’s Business Spectator - specifically the following paragraph:

    “How did NAB (National Australia Bank) get caught in $1.2 billion mess? They had a number of big clients who wanted to invest in these US housing loans. They were sucked in by the 'triple A rating' given to the securities by the rating agencies. They did not take into account that the monoline insurers who guaranteed some of the loans had no substance. To become a player NAB took out $1.2 billion in these triple A securities and 90 per cent of it has been lost.”

    The above means that if you are at present holding onto a US AAA rated securities, it is worth 10 cents on the dollar, or at least it was in July 2008. This could explain why Banks have been shifting funds out of the US and into Europe.

    This is happening because “the dollar is not backed by anything other than the promise of the state”, and the promise by the United States government to pay back their debt is not worth much.

    So what does this mean in terms of actual dollar value on defaults that we should be expecting from US securities?

    The following table available through the CIA Fact Book is a list of the top 14 indebted countries. It is the external debt of each country defined as “the total public and private debt owed to nonresidents repayable in foreign currency, goods, or services.”

    click to enlarge source

    Since US triple A debt is now only worth ten cents on the dollar, then the $12 trillion of external US debt is now really only worth $1.2 trillion. Keep in mind that this is just the external debt.

    The United States is also not alone in this mess. The United Kingdom is in just as big of a mess as the US, they just don’t consume as much, that’s why we are not feeling the impact of their collapse as much as that of the United States.

  8. There is a serious liquidity problem: Just to give you an idea how tight money is, and how tight it’s going to get:

    1. Another shoe to drop: Bad credit-card debt could be next shot to economy, researcher says - “Credit-card debt is on the brink of imploding and will be the next storm to hit the fragile finance industry, an investment research firm predicted this week. According to Innovest StrategicValue Advisors, banks will charge off $18.6 billion in delinquent credit-card accounts in the first quarter of 2009 and $96 billion in all of 2009, more than double the research firm's forecast for all of this year.”
    2. McDonald's Says Bank of America Won't Boost Loans - “McDonald's Corp., the world's largest restaurant company, told some U.S. franchisees to seek other ways to finance store improvements after Bank of America Corp. declined to increase lending.”
    3. GM, Chrysler to stop leasing vehicles - “The financial arms of Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. are getting out of the business of leasing vehicles as credit tightens and resale prices for gas-quaffing trucks fall, according to company executives and independent sources.”
    4. Hugh Hefner to sack Playboy bunnies amid financial crisis - “Tycoon Hugh Hefner has been advised to cut back on staff at his multi-million dollar glamour empire as it struggles to cope during the global economic turmoil. The 83-year-old has been told to lay off some of his staff at his Los Angeles and New York offices as soon as this month or go bankrupt.”
    5. Huge Credit Card Crisis Next for America - “Many Americans are living off their credit cards but be forewarned ~ that bubble is about to burst as more Americans are using high-interest credit card cash to pay at least part of their mortgages. Overall U.S. credit card debt grew by 435% from $211 billion in 2002 to approximately $915 billion year-end 2007.”
    6. Hard times hitting American students and schools in double blow - “With mortgage foreclosures throwing hundreds of families out of their homes here each month, dismayed school officials say they are feeling the upheaval: record numbers of students turning up for classes this fall are homeless or poor enough to qualify for free meals.”
    7. Hypo Real Estate Says Banks Withdrew Rescue Support - “Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, the ailing German property lender, said a 35 billion-euro ($49 billion) government-backed bailout plan collapsed as commercial banks withdrew their support.”
  9. Short selling ban has completely changed the game: The clearest sign that a system is collapsing is when the rules of the game change, while the game is at play. Last month, in September 2008, both the US’s Securities and Exchange Commission and the UK’s Financial Services Authority put a temporary ban on short-selling. This interference in the financial markets by UK and US regulators “will have repercussions far far beyond our imaginations.”

    As for how important this event is, it just made my 11th most important economic event for the last 11 years list, which will be an update of “10 of the Most Important Economic Events of the Last 10 Years: Collapsing the Economy in the Buildup to World War III.”

    Why did this ban make my most important economic events list while the hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts and the nationalization of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae didn’t? Because the short selling ban means that the multi-trillion dollar derivatives market has now been deemed to be ‘incompatible’ with the current economic system.

    As the pending lawsuits against UK’s Financial Services Authority indicates, those who control trillions of dollars in the global markets are not happy about the rules changing in the middle of the game. And I don’t blame them, would you be happy about it?

    I will refrain from making further comments about this event until we see if the ban will actually be lifted or made permanent. All I can say is that I would not want to be long any positions when/if this ban is lifted.

  10. Further information about our economic crisis in the following posts:

The dot-com crash did not kill technology: Evolving through exponential growth

One of the most common misconceptions within certain segments of society has been the association of the dot-com stock market crash of 2000 with that of the technological revolution. The Internet did not die when the markets crashed, it just shed a little weight and got leaner.

As for technology in general, by abiding by Moore's law, our processing abilities continue to double approximately every one to two years. Based on the latter estimate, this exponential growth means that through technology we, in the year 2008, can communicate and process information at least 16 times faster than in 2000, 512 times faster than in 1990, 16,384 since 1980, and 33,554,432 times faster than in 1958 when the integrated circuit was invented.

How technology's accelerating power will transform us (23:41)

Through the Net we are seeing individuals produce and provide entertainment, education, and products and services on a global scale with minimal physical or material constraints, at a fraction of the cost of mainstream corporations while generating billions of dollars, and this fact is well known to the media and multinational conglomerates.

For example, a close friend once pointed out that the reason Walt Disney, in 2006, announced that they would be reducing the number of movies they would be producing per year by more then 50% was because they would be buying independent movies instead of taking the risk of producing high budget flops. This was a multi-million dollar cost saving measure, but it was just a very small piece from the tip of an extremely large iceberg.

Culture Is Your Operating System - Terence McKenna (8:38)

This revolution in entertainment is also prevalent in many other sectors within our society. Film is just one branch of communication and commerce on the Net that is threatening the Status Quo. Podcasts, personal and news blogs, internet radio, streaming media, social network services, online shops, video sharing websites, to virtual worlds: the face of society as we know it is changing for all those countries that have a high internet penetration rate.

An anthropological introduction to YouTube (55:33)

In the United States alone, approximately 220 million people are now logging onto the Net on a regular basis, while at the same time average viewer age of the five broadcast networks in the US is reaching historic highs at 50. This shift must have been anticipated. With all the different tools available on the Net, it should not come as a surprise that television viewers are going extinct as the Internet is being used by more and more people to provide information, products and entertainment that were previously not readily available?

Keep in mind that this is a global phenomenon. Recently, China surpassed the United States in the number of total Internet users: as of 30 June 2008 there are 253 million Chinese Internet users representing only 19% of their population, compared to the 73% Internet penetration for the United States at 220 million. This global potential for growth explains why the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced “that it intends to implement the most drastic and sweeping changes to the Internet domain naming system in the network's 40 year history, by allowing a nearly unlimited number of new so-called generic top level domain names.”

Larry Lessig: How Creativity is being strangled by the law (19:08)

The unfiltered dissemination of information through the Internet is affecting our belief structures, changing our way of consumption, our way of doing business, our way of seeking knowledge, our way of communicating, and our way of life. It is creating a new branch of consumer and producer, numbering in the hundreds of millions, requiring products and services that have yet to be provided.

It is this economic metamorphosis caused by our technological evolution that we see manifesting itself as a global financial crisis. It should then not come as a surprise that Internet providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are trying to control the content on the Net and why consumers are demanding Internet freedom (pdf).

In essence, the Internet is creating the largest untapped market the world has ever seen, which is in conflict with the wishes of the oligarchy who are willing to do anything to maintain control, even if it means nationalizing their assets at taxpayer expense.

The Death of The Internet? (6:30)

The Internet is a Brave New World and the battle to maintain its free market status while making it accessible to all is just beginning. It is up to us, the occupants of this world, to decide its, and in turn our, future. Will we be able to keep those who wish to control commerce, politics, and us along with future generations at bay?

Here is hoping that business models that do not adapt to this change will go quietly into the night, and we will be able to maintain control of the largest library ever known in human existence, what every free society has dreamt of since the dawn of our species.

The one thing that should be kept in mind is that the Internet is only one aspect of our technological evolution that is changing our civilization. This exponential technological growth is occurring in many fields, such as: Quantum computing, Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Life to Genetically Modified Organisms and Transhumanism - these are just some of the areas where advancements in our technological abilities are changing our definition and understanding of the way we interact with our perceived reality.

Building Gods (1:20:23)

The environmental revolution will surpass that of our technological evolution: One of our best solutions is to end prohibition

As William McDonough has stated, as a species our ultimate goal should be “a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy, and just world, with clean air, soil, water, and power -- economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed, period.”

The simple fact is, even though it is our technological evolution that is bringing about an economic metamorphosis that we see manifesting itself as a global financial crisis, it will be the environmental revolution forcing our civilization to implement the concept of sustainability that will finally transform our society.

The present course that we are on does not have a future, or should I say, does not end well for us, since there will always be a future, irrelevant of our presence. What we have to learn is to accept that we are part of nature, therefore we have no choice but to work and exist in harmony with nature – with ourselves. This requires of us to learn from, and to use what nature provides, without destroying the source. We must learn to learn from the natural world.

For decades, if not centuries, we have treated the world as a garbage dump. The damage we have done has been devastating, and the repercussions unimaginable. From the disappearance of the bees to plastic waste vortex’s in the oceans, our ecological footprint is destroying everything. We must learn that the accumulation of monetary assets is not our ultimate purpose. This means that our current economic system needs to be modified to use what nature provides.

One of the best ways that we can stop our war against nature and begin our metamorphosis towards an economically sustainable existence is by saving our forests.

A recent report from the Oxford-based Global Canopy Programme has stated that while the transport and industry sector accounts for 14 percent of global CO2 emissions, deforestation accounts for up to 25 per cent of greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere.

The urgency implied in the statistics presented in this report can not be over emphasized. Deforestation "in the next four years alone”, will “pump more CO2 into the atmosphere than every flight in the history of aviation to at least 2025… According to the latest audited figures from 2003, two billion tons of CO2 enters the atmosphere every year from deforestation. That destruction amounts to 50 million acres - or an area the size of England, Wales and Scotland felled annually.”

The report states that to help stop global warming “the political will and a system of enforcement and incentives” are required that make “trees worth more to governments and individuals standing than felled.” However, this is extremely shortsighted, since our consumption of paper can not be curtailed in time to save the environment, especially considering that “for every 100 pounds of trash we throw away, 35 pounds is paper.”

This problem is even further exasperated by the propaganda being produced by the pulp and paper industry. These corporations continually release reports claiming that forests are a renewable resource and that they are “committed to recovering 50% of all the paper Americans use.”

A fifty percent return rate means that we are on a fast track to destruction, especially if you consider that casinos make billions of dollars annually by having slot machine return rates as high as 98-99%. The minimum legal payout percentage for slot machines in “Nevada is 75 percent and in New Jersey is 83 percent.” This means that if we apply the same legal standards that bankrupts millions of people around the world to the pulp and paper industry, they would be considered thieves and immediately put out of business. So why are we allowing this shortsightedness to destroy the environment and the future of generations to come?

Unfortunately our corporate governments are just as guilty of producing misleading propaganda, maintaining the status quo. The US government has even created a children’s websites claiming that for every tree that is cut down “another is planted to replace it”, conveniently forgetting to mention that a sapling does not have the same environmental benefits as a large tree and that it may take decades for it to reach maturity, if it even reaches maturity. Their claim that “paper companies plant trees specifically for papermaking, much like an apple farmer grows apple trees to produce apples” even becomes more absurd when you consider that afforestation is only a historically recent practice.

There is however a solution to our environmental dilemma but it must be implemented immediately to reduce CO2 emissions, allowing the environment ample time to rejuvenate before we reach the point of no return. The solution is hemp, a variant species of cannabis, and its use is as old as civilization itself.

It is important to remember that the United States of America initiated the global war on hemp in the “early parts of the 20th century.” It was a multi faceted program geared to increase profits for the oil and the pulp and paper industries, and to create a two-tear socioeconomic system. Propaganda and coercion were used to manipulate world opinion into accepting this agenda. These tactics were and are frighteningly similar to those used to wage war in the Middle East, and unfortunately with the help of the media the United States has been able to, until recently, criminalize the production of hemp.

Cannabis products span the consumer spectrum making it the only plant in the world that can help save the environment and us along with it. It has “over 25,000 potential uses.” It rejuvenates the soil, can replace wood products saving our forests, it’s medicinal, and it can be used as building material, textiles, paint & plastic, fuel, paper, food and body care.

For a great introduction to the benefits and potential uses of hemp see the following documentary: “Hemp Revolution” - Part 1 (33:40)

and “Hemp Revolution” Part 2 (39:04).

The Global Canopy report states that “forests offer the single largest opportunity for cost-effective and immediate reductions of carbon emissions", and that "If we lose (our) forests, we lose the fight against climate change." Considering that “more than 50 per cent of life on Earth is in tropical forests, which cover less than 7 per cent of the planet's surface”, is it not about time that we began to preserve our natural habitats?

To help stop what indigenous elders have called “Mother Earth is crying,” we need to stop the war on cannabis. Even though we were manipulated into accepting a war that has cost us billions of dollars and millions of lives, it’s time for us to grow up, accept responsibility, and make the necessary changes required for us to create a sustainable society.

Please note that the first few minutes of this movie are in Dutch, but the rest is in English.

The coming economic environmental revolution will surpass what we are seeing occur in the financial markets due to our technological evolution. One of the best ways for us to implement this economic metamorphosis is to end prohibition. There is no other choice if we want to live on this planet.

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Posted in | | | | | | Submitted by chycho on Sat, 2008-10-04 01:53.
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