“Farmageddon”: Trump Announces More Emergency Bailouts As U.S. Farm Debt Soars To $416 Billion

President Trump just announced yet another round of emergency bailouts for U.S. farmers. This emergency aid will be greatly welcomed by countless struggling farmers, but a few thousand dollars won’t be nearly enough to save most of the farms that are on the verge of failing. Coming into 2019, farm debt was already at a record high and farm bankruptcies were already rising. But then crazy weather patterns made planting season a complete and utter mess, and more crazy weather patterns have turned harvest season into a major disaster. On top of everything else, the Trump administration’s trade dispute with China has greatly reduced U.S. agricultural exports and hurt prices. This has been an absolutely nightmarish year for U.S. farmers, and a series of government bailouts hasn’t done much to ease the pain.

Realizing that more emergency intervention was necessary, President Trump just announced that another round of bailouts is on the way

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday welcomed a “cash” payout to American farmers before the Thanksgiving Day holiday that he attributed to China tariffs, but that money actually is part of a U.S. government aid package.

“Our great Farmers will recieve (sic) another major round of ‘cash,’ compliments of China Tariffs, prior to Thanksgiving,” he wrote on Twitter.

According to Fox Business, the Trump administration is telling us that the U.S. Department of Agriculture “issued the payments on Friday, and they will begin the week before Thanksgiving”.

So many farming families will receive an unexpected blessing just in time for the holidays.

But all of these bailouts have not kept farm bankruptcies from shooting up rapidly. In fact, the American Farm Bureau says that U.S. farm bankruptcies are up a whopping 24 percent over the last 12 months…

Nationwide U.S. farm bankruptcies in September surged 24% to their highest level since 2011 amid strains from President Trump’s trade war with China and a year of wild weather.

In the 12 months through September, there were 580 Chapter 12 farm bankruptcy filings, the most since 2011, the American Farm Bureau Federation reported.

Farming is a very tough business. It takes an immense amount of capital, and one bad year of really bad weather can ruin everything.

And the weather in 2019 has been absolutely abysmal.

In essence, what we have been witnessing is something of a “perfect storm” for farmers. For so many of them, 2019 was a “make or break year”, because unsustainable debt levels had already pushed them to the brink of insolvency.

If you can believe it, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that U.S. farm debt will soon reach a grand total of 416 billion dollars

U.S. farm debt is projected to reach a record high of $416 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Let’s do some quick math. There are about 2 million farms in the United States, and when you divide $416 billion by 2 million, you get $208,000.

That means that the average farm in the United States is now more than $200,000 in debt.

And when bad weather wipes out your income for the year, that much debt can be absolutely crippling.

Of course it isn’t just farmers that grow crops that are going under. In fact, the epicenter for this debt crisis is actually among dairy farmers in Wisconsin

Wisconsin leads the nation in farm bankruptcies this year, and dairy farmers are carrying the brunt of the burden.

According to NPR, nearly 10% of Wisconsin dairy farmers may go out of business in 2019. And Wisconsin has seen an increase in suicide rates over the last few years. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, experts are attributing many of those deaths to farmers facing economic challenges.

Did you catch that number?

In our most important dairy producing state, one out of every ten dairy farms will be shutting down this year alone.

Americans are drinking less milk these days, and prices are down. Everyone knew that this would be a tough year for dairy farmers, but very few anticipated that it would be this tough.

At this point, the state of Wisconsin is actually losing “two farms a day”

“You look at the weather, you look at the crops you can’t get off the field, you look at the bills you can’t pay,” Patty Edelburg, vice president of the National Farmers Union, told Yahoo Finance. “Bankruptcies are up. Wisconsin is attributed as the No. 1 bankruptcy in the nation right now, when it comes to dairy farmers. That number is up, I think, 24% from last year already. We’re losing two farms a day.”

For some farmers, “Farmageddon” is simply too much to bear. Seeing a farm that you put your blood, sweat and tears into go under can be absolutely devastating emotionally, and authorities are telling us that the number of farm suicides appears to be rising

In farm country, mental health experts say they’re seeing more suicides as families endure the worst period for U.S. agriculture in decades. Farm bankruptcies and loan delinquencies are rising, calamitous weather events are ruining crops, and profits are vanishing during Trump’s global trade disputes.

A 2017 study found that farm owners and workers were three to five times as likely to kill themselves on the job compared with other occupations. Researchers studying more recent data have not yet determined if farmer suicides are increasing, but leaders and social workers in rural America say that, anecdotally, they’re seeing more of these deaths. Calls to suicide hotlines around farm country have risen, prompting new federal and state programs targeting farmers’ mental health, including support groups, public awareness campaigns and funding for counseling.

This is such a great tragedy, because farmers are truly the backbone of this nation. I don’t know anyone out there that doesn’t need to eat, and without our farmers we wouldn’t have any food.

All over the country, officials are using the word “disaster” to describe this harvest season. This is a nightmare that is just getting started, and we won’t know the full magnitude of this crisis for some time.

But what we do know is that U.S. farmers have never seen a year quite like this, and all of the information that we have right now seems to indicate that “Farmageddon” is going to get a whole lot worse.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Brace For Impact! The U.S. Economy Is Going Down, And It Is Going Down Hard…

I have so many bad economic numbers to share with you that I don’t even know where to start. I had anticipated that the U.S. economic slowdown would accelerate during the fourth quarter of 2019, and that is precisely what has happened. The Federal Reserve is trying to do all that it can to keep us from officially slipping into a recession, and the federal government is literally spending money as if tomorrow will never come, but all of that intervention has not been enough to reverse our economic momentum. We are really starting to see conditions begin to deteriorate very rapidly now, and 2020 is already shaping up to be the most pivotal year for the U.S. economy since 2008.

Let me start my analysis by discussing how U.S. consumers are doing right now. According to CBS News, a major new study that was just released found that 70 percent of all Americans are struggling financially…

Many Americans remain in precarious financial shape even as the economy continues to grow, with 7 of 10 saying they struggling with at least one aspect of financial stability, such as paying bills or saving money.

The findings come from a survey of more than 5,400 Americans from the Financial Health Network, a nonprofit financial services consultancy. The project, which started a year ago, is aimed at assessing people’s financial health by asking about debt, savings, bills and wages, among other issues.

That sure doesn’t sound like a “booming economy”, does it?

And even though things are already really tough for millions upon millions of American families, it appears that things are rapidly getting worse. In fact, we just witnessed the largest decline for the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index since 2008

Despite stocks soaring to record highs, The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort index fell last week to 58.0 from 59.1 a week earlier, and has now plunged 5.4 points in three weeks, the biggest such drop since 2008

Yes, the employment situation in this country is still relatively stable for the moment, but the truth is that most of the “jobs” that have been “created” in recent years actually pay very little. If you can believe it, 58 million jobs in the United States currently pay less than $793 a week

There are now roughly 105 million production and nonsupervisory jobs in the U.S. That’s 83 percent of all private sector jobs. And more than half of them — 58 million — pay less than the average weekly U.S. wage of $793. Many of these jobs don’t offer health care or other benefits.

These are the best jobs that many Americans can find and the most hours they can get.

And I discussed in a previous article, 50 percent of all U.S. workers currently make less than $33,000 a year.

In recent years, many families have increasingly turned to debt in order to maintain their “middle class lifestyles”, but now a lot of those debts are starting to go bad.

In fact, the New York Fed just announced that serious auto loan delinquencies in the United States have hit a brand new record high. The following comes from Wolf Richter

Serious auto-loan delinquencies – auto loans that are 90 days or more past due – in the third quarter of 2019, after an amazing trajectory, reached a historic high of $62 billion, according to data from the New York Fed today

Do you remember the subprime mortgage meltdown of 2008?

Well, a very similar thing is happening right now with auto loans.

Meanwhile, the bad economic numbers just keep rolling in. Here are a few new data points that we have gotten since my last article…

-We just witnessed the worst decline for U.S. industrial production since 2009.

-The Cass Freight Index has just fallen for the 11th month in a row.

-Sears has announced that they will be laying off hundreds of workers as they continue to close stores at a very rapid pace.

At this point, it is going to be a real challenge to keep U.S. GDP growth above zero for the fourth quarter. If you can believe it, the latest forecast from the Atlanta Fed is projecting a fourth quarter growth rate of just 0.3 percent…

The GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the fourth quarter of 2019 is 0.3 percent on November 15, down from 1.0 percent on November 8. After this morning’s retail trade releases from the U.S. Census Bureau, and this morning’s industrial production report from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the nowcasts of fourth-quarter real personal consumption expenditures growth and fourth-quarter real gross private domestic investment growth decreased from 2.1 percent and -2.3 percent, respectively, to 1.7 percent and -4.4 percent, respectively.

That is terrible.

We aren’t talking about 3 percent. They are projecting growth of “0.3 percent”, and if we slip below zero we could actually be in the beginning of a recession right now without even realizing it yet.

The Federal Reserve has been attempting to bolster the economy by cutting interest rates and by pumping massive amounts of money into the financial system. They are telling us that this new round of money creation is “not QE”, but from the very beginning I have been pointing out that it really is more quantitative easing, and many in the financial world are starting to acknowledge this reality

After a month of constant verbal gymnastics (and diarrhea from financial pundit sycophants who can’t think creatively or originally and merely parrot their echo chamber in hopes of likes/retweets) by the Fed that the recent launch of $60 billion in T-Bill purchases is anything but QE (whatever you do, don’t call it “QE 4”, just call it “NOT QE” please), one bank finally had the guts to say what was so obvious to anyone who isn’t challenged by simple logic: the Fed’s “NOT QE” is really “QE.”

In a note warning that the Fed’s latest purchase program – whether one calls it QE or NOT QE – will have big, potentially catastrophic costs, Bank of America’s Ralph Axel writes that in the aftermath of the Fed’s new program of T-bill purchases to increase the amount of reserves in the banking system, the Fed made an effort to repeatedly inform markets that this is not a new round of quantitative easing, and yet as the BofA strategist notes, “in important ways it is similar.”

But as I discussed earlier, all of the Fed’s efforts are not working.

No matter how hard they try, they have not been able to reverse our economic momentum.

And many people believe that what we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, trends forecaster Gerald Celente is convinced that we are heading for “the Greatest Depression”

You think you have a crisis in a country near you now? You haven’t seen anything. When the Greatest Depression hits, people are going to be escaping violence, poverty, corruption — civil wars are happening in front of everybody’s eyes. And you think you’ve got a homeless problem in a city near you? You haven’t seen anything. You are going to see homeless everywhere. This is out of control and it’s going to only get worse as the global economy slows down…

And you know what?

He’s right.

What is coming is going to make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic, and our society is completely and utterly unprepared for what is about to happen.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Guess Who Is Preparing For A Major Stock Market Crash?

Pessimism is spreading like wildfire on Wall Street, and this is particularly true among one very important group of investors. And considering how much money they have, it may be wise to listen to what they are telling us. According to a very alarming survey that was recently conducted by UBS Wealth Management, most wealthy investors now believe that there will be a “significant” stock market decline before the end of next year. The following comes from Yahoo Finance

Wealthy people around the globe are hunkering down for a potentially turbulent 2020, according to UBS Global Wealth Management.

A majority of rich investors expect a significant drop in markets before the end of next year, and 25% of their average assets are currently in cash, according to a survey of more than 3,400 global respondents. The U.S.-China trade conflict is their top geopolitical concern, while the upcoming American presidential election is seen as another significant threat to portfolios.

Of course this could ultimately become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy if enough wealthy investors pull their money out of stocks and start increasing their cash reserves instead. Nobody wants to be the last one out of the barn, and it isn’t going to take too much of a spark to set off a full-blown panic. Perhaps the most troubling number from the entire survey is the fact that almost 80 percent of the wealthy investors that UBS surveyed believe that “volatility is likely to increase”

Nearly four-fifths of respondents say volatility is likely to increase, and 55% think there will be a significant market sell-off before the end of 2020, according to the report which was conducted between August and October and polled those with at least $1 million in investable assets. Sixty percent are considering increasing their cash levels further, while 62% plan to increase diversification across asset classes.

During volatile times for the market, stocks tend to go down.

And during extremely volatile times, stocks tend to go down very rapidly.

Could it be possible that many of these wealthy investors have gotten wind of some things that the general public doesn’t know about yet?

Of course the truth is that anyone with half a brain can see that stock valuations are ridiculously bloated right now and that a crash is inevitable at some point.

And as I noted yesterday, corporate insiders are currently selling off stocks at the fastest pace in about two decades.

But why is there suddenly so much concern about 2020?

A different survey of business executives that was recently conducted found that 62 percent of them believe that “a recession will happen within the next 18 months”

A majority of respondents – 62% – believe a recession will happen within the next 18 months. Private companies are particularly worried that a recession lurks in the near term, with 39% anticipating a recession in the next 12 months. This compares with 33% of public company respondents who felt the same way. About one-quarter – 23% – of respondents do not expect a recession within the next two years.

62 percent is a very solid majority, and without a doubt we are starting to see businesses pull back on investment in a major way.

In fact, according to Axios business investment in the United States has now dropped for six months in a row…

  • Business investment has fallen for six months straight and declined by 3% in the third quarter, the largest drop since 2015.
  • The retrenchment by businesses helped turn Wednesday’s U.S. workforce productivity report — a key economic metric that compares goods-and-services output to the number of labor hours worked — negative for the first time in four years.

I know that I bombard my readers with numbers like this on an almost daily basis, but I cannot stress enough how ominous the economic outlook is at this point.

And it isn’t just the U.S. that we need to be concerned about. Two other surveys that measure the business outlook for the entire globe just fell to their lowest levels in a decade

The IHS Markit global business outlook—which surveys 12,000 companies three times a year—fell to the worst level since 2009, when data was first collected.

The Ifo world economic outlook, which surveys 1,230 people in 117 countries, fell in the fourth quarter to the worst level since the second quarter of 2009.

Markit’s poll found optimism for activity, employment and profits in the year ahead were all at the lowest level since the financial crisis. Markit also reported a decline in planned investment spending, with inflation expectations at a three-year low.

It is really happening.

The global economy really is heading into a major downturn.

And once this crisis really gets rolling, it is going to be exceedingly painful.

All across America, big companies are already starting to go under at a pace that is absolutely frightening. For instance, on Tuesday one of the biggest dairy companies in the entire country filed for bankruptcy

Dairy giant Dean Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as declining milk sales take a toll on the industry.

Dean Foods – whose more than 50 brands include Dean’s, Land O’ Lakes and Country Fresh – said it intends to continue operating.

The company said it “is engaged in advanced discussions” for a sale to Dairy Farmers of America, a national milk cooperative representing farmers, producers and brands such as Borden cheese and Kemps Dairy.

I have quite a few relatives in Minnesota, and I have always had a soft spot for Land O’Lakes butter. So it definitely saddened me to hear that this was happening.

But a lot more major casualties are coming.

Of course the economic optimists will continue to insist that we are just experiencing a few bumps on a path that leads to a wonderful new era of American prosperity. They will continue to tell us of a great “financial harvest” that is about to happen even when things are falling apart all around us.

You can believe them if you want, but most wealthy investors and most business owners believe that hard times are dead ahead.

I have never seen so much pessimism about a coming year as I am seeing about 2020 right now.

There is a growing national consensus that it is going to be a very chaotic year, and I would recommend using what little time you have left to get prepared for it.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

If Impeachment Fails, Will The Elite Crash The Economy In Order To Prevent Four More Years Of Trump?

By now, it is exceedingly obvious that the global elite absolutely hate Donald Trump. No president in U.S. history has faced such a relentless assault by the corporate media, and there have been attempts to sabotage his presidency at every turn. Miraculously, Trump has survived all of these attacks so far, but now the specter of impeachment looms large over his administration. The Democrats have a solid majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, they are working quickly toward drafting articles of impeachment, and they actually hope to have Trump impeached by Christmas Day. But in order to have Trump removed from office, 67 votes will be needed in the Senate, and right now Democrats only control 47 of those seats. It was always going to be tough for Democrats to get 20 Republicans in the Senate to turn on Trump, but they have bungled this process so badly that they might not end up getting any at all.

That scenario will become even more likely if House Republicans stand solidly united behind Trump, and at this point even the Washington Post is admitting that there is a possibility “that not a single House Republican” will vote for the articles of impeachment…

Congressional Republicans are sticking with their party leader in the face of thousands of pages of evidence showing President Trump leveraged foreign policy for political favors, raising the possibility that not a single House Republican will vote for his impeachment.

Of course it will only take a simple majority to impeach Trump in the House, and Democrats will be able to do that with no problem, but it appears that the effort to remove Trump will be completely dead when it gets to the Senate.

Yes, things could still change and this is a very fluid situation, but as things stand today it seems that Trump is safe.

So what are the elite going to do if impeachment fails?

They are facing the prospect that Trump could actually win again in 2020, and that would mean that he would remain in the White House until January 2025.

For many among the elite, such a scenario must be avoided at all costs. And the quickest way to get the general public to turn on any president is for the economy to crumble.

This is one of the reasons why some prominent voices on the left have been openly wishing for a recession. For example, just check out what Bill Maher said not too long ago

“I’ve been saying for about two years that I hope we have a recession and people get mad at me,” said Maher, a multimillionaire who would likely be well insulated from a financial downturn.

“I’m just saying we can survive a recession,” he continued. “We’ve had 47 of them. We’ve had one every time there’s a Republican president! They don’t last forever, You know what lasts forever? Wiping out species!”

Maher is literally wishing for economic pain for more than 300 million Americans just so that another four years of Trump can be avoided.

That is how obsessed some of these radicals are with getting rid of Trump.

And without a doubt, the performance of the economy could be Trump’s Achilles heel. Whenever any piece of good economic news comes out, he eagerly takes credit for it, and he has publicly warned that there will be an economic crash if a Democrat wins in 2020…

President Donald Trump predicted doom if he isn’t re-elected in 2020, saying that the economy would “CRASH” like it did during the Great Depression.

In a tweet Wednesday morning, the president called the crowded field of Democratic challengers “clowns” and compared the prospects of one of them winning to the stock market collapse of 1929.

Even though many Democrats on Wall Street absolutely hate Trump, it is undeniable that they have made out very well while he has been in the White House. In fact, only three presidents have seen the stock market perform better during their first three years in office

Stock market performance in first three years since Trump’s election, then, ranks fourth among the 14 elected presidents since Herbert Hoover. That’s pretty good! It’s worth noting, though, that there’s not a whole lot separating him from John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. A bad week or two, and he could easily fall to eighth place. On the other hand, falling to ninth would take some work, as would catching up to Dwight Eisenhower for third. Put into letter grades, I’d give the market’s performance since Trump’s election a solid B.

But what happens if the stock market crashes and the U.S. economy plunges into a deep recession in 2020?

Well, just as Trump has been getting credit for the good things that have happened in recent years, he would also get the blame if things got really bad.

Of course that wouldn’t actually be fair, because the truth is that the Federal Reserve actually has far more influence over the performance of the economy and the performance of the stock market than the president does.

But the general public does not understand these things.

When things really start to fall apart, people are going to blame whoever is in the White House, and since Trump was so eager to take credit when things were going good he won’t have any way to avoid the blame when things severely deteriorate.

So would the global elite really resort to “the nuclear option” of crashing the economy in order to prevent Trump from winning the next election?

You never know, but it is entirely possible. Today, debt is the lifeblood of our economy, and if the big banks started to tighten up the flow of credit that would begin to slow down our economy immediately. And as I noted yesterday, we are already starting to see banks deny loans to farmers in the middle of the country on a widespread basis. The tighter that lenders become with their money, the worse that our economy will do, and this is something that we should be watching closely.

The stock market is also a potential flashpoint. Right now, insiders are selling off their stocks “at the fastest pace in two decades”, and valuations are ridiculously inflated. Companies that are losing giant mountains of money every single year are supposedly worth billions of dollars, and the market has been going up for so long that most investors have completely forgotten about 2008. But at some point this entire charade is going to come crashing down, and it wouldn’t take very much of a “push” to make that happen.

There is an even bigger bubble in the bond market. Today, there is 188 trillion dollars of debt in the global financial system, and those at the very top of the economic food chain control much of that debt. Could it be possible that they would be willing to unleash a bit of chaos in order to achieve their political goals?

I don’t think that the global elite really want to go through a major crisis, but at this point for many of them just about anything is preferable to four more years of Trump.

We are less than two months away from 2020, and I truly believe that it will be the most chaotic year that any of us have seen in a very long time.

There are a lot of very powerful people that are absolutely determined to keep Trump from winning this upcoming election, and they would be willing to do just about anything in order to make that happen.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

For Millions Of Americans In The Middle Of The Country, It Feels Like An Economic Depression Right Now

What do you do when you have lost all hope that things will ever turn around? It may still feel like “the economy is booming” for those at the top end of the economic food chain in big coastal cities such as New York and San Francisco, but for millions of hard working Americans in the middle of the country, talk of a “coming recession” is absolutely ludicrous because it already feels like a severe economic depression is happening right now. In America’s heartland, bankruptcies are surging, debt burdens are becoming overwhelming, and suicide rates are spiking to unprecedented levels. We have not seen economic despair this extreme since the last recession, and I am about to share a story with you that will absolutely break your heart.

At one time, South Dakota farmers Chris and Amber Dykshorn looked toward the future with great optimism. But mounting debts and several years of disastrous weather changed all that, and in June their community was shocked when Chris took his own life

Amber Dykshorn stood at her kitchen window and watched the storm come in.

It was a very dark Saturday night in the middle of the summer in the middle of a year that is on track to be the wettest in more than a century. The wind blew over the farm, the rain came down and she heard the ominous pings on her roof – pea-sized hail, striking the still-fragile stalks of the only corn her husband, Chris Dykshorn, was able to plant before he took his own life in June.

Chris had lost all hope.

The couple was absolutely drowning in debt, and they desperately needed a good year just to keep the farm going.

But then the rain just kept on coming, and now Amber has to deal with three young kids and $300,000 in farm debt all by herself

Did their crop insurance cover hail damage? She had no idea. That was something Chris would have taken care of, if he were here. Instead she was alone, with nearly $300,000 in farm debt, three kids ages 5 to 13 and a host of grief-fueled questions. Why hadn’t she been able to save him? What would happen to them now?

Sadly, the Dykshorns are not an isolated case.

All across the Midwest, farms are going under at a staggering rate. According to the vice president of the National Farmers Union, the state of Wisconsin is “losing two farms a day” at this point…

“You look at the weather, you look at the crops you can’t get off the field, you look at the bills you can’t pay,” Patty Edelburg, vice president of the National Farmers Union, told Yahoo Finance. “Bankruptcies are up. Wisconsin is attributed as the No. 1 bankruptcy in the nation right now, when it comes to dairy farmers. That number is up, I think, 24% from last year already. We’re losing two farms a day.”

If you can believe it, the state of Wisconsin “lost almost 1,200 dairy farms” between 2016 and 2018.

Overall, the number of dairy farms in the state has fallen by 49 percent during the last 15 years.

Just think about that.

Half of all the dairy farms in our most important dairy producing state are completely gone.

And instead of tapering off, this “farm apocalypse” just continues to pick up speed. Sadly, the bankers are contributing to this crisis in a major way by denying loans to many of these troubled farmers

“Farming is such a stressful occupation by itself,” Edelburg said. “When you start adding financial stress on top of it, it’s just going to add more stress. Farmers can’t pay their bills, they have no extra money, they have people honing down their neck looking to pay bills. They’re going to banks and they can’t get loans. They’re literally being denied loans.”

When you are already drowning in debt and your crops are failing and the banks won’t give you any more money, it can seem like there is no way out.

This is the position that Chris Dykshorn found himself in, and we can get an idea of what his emotional state was like just before he committed suicide from the final texts that he sent to his wife

“I’m struggling so bad today. I don’t know what to do anymore,” he texted on May 31. “I seriously don’t know how we r gonna make it.”

On June 1: “I just want to sit in the house and cry.”

And then: “What am I supposed to do. I am failing and feel like I’m gonna lose everything I’ve worked for the past how many years.”

As I have stressed over and over, suicide is never the answer. But when someone loses all hope that there will ever be an opportunity to turn things around, it can be very difficult to keep going.

Meanwhile, money is flowing like wine on Wall Street thanks to the Federal Reserve. The unelected Fed has been pumping billions upon billions of dollars into the financial markets, and this has resulted in a higher concentration of wealth among the top one percent than ever before. The following comes from Bloomberg

The top 1% of American households have enjoyed huge returns in the stock market in the past decade, to the point that they now control more than half of the equity in U.S. public and private companies, according to data from the Federal Reserve. Those fat portfolios have America’s elite gobbling up an ever-bigger piece of the pie.

The very richest had assets of about $35.4 trillion in the second quarter, or just shy of the $36.9 trillion held by the tens of millions of people who make up the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile of Americans — much of the middle and upper-middle classes.

In essence, Wall Street is being showered by “welfare money” from the Federal Reserve, and nobody is holding the Fed accountable.

At the same time, tens of millions of American families are working low paying jobs and are just barely getting by from month to month. The following comes from Zero Hedge

For instance, a new report sheds light on 53 million Americans, or about 44% of all US workers, aged 18 to 64, are considered low-wage and low-skilled.

Many of these folks are stuck in the gig economy, making approximately $10.22 per hour, and they bring home less than $20,000 per year, according to a Brookings Institution report.

Today, half of all American workers make less than $33,000 a year. As the cost of living continues to rise much faster than wages do, hard working Americans are increasingly turning to debt in order to make ends meet, and during the next recession many families will not be able to service those debts.

All over the nation, we are watching a tragedy play out in slow motion.

America’s heartland is being gutted, and the “next recession” hasn’t even officially started yet. But soon enough it will, and the deep depression that we are already witnessing in many parts of the middle of the country will get a lot worse.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Middle Class Death Spiral: Consumers Have Never Been In More Debt, And Bankruptcies Are Surging

This wasn’t supposed to happen. During the relative economic stability of the past few years, the middle class was supposed to experience a resurgence, but instead it has just continued to be hollowed out. The cost of living has risen much faster than wages have, and as a result hard working families all over America are being stretched financially like never before. Even though most of us are working, 59 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck, and almost 50 million Americans are living in poverty. In a desperate attempt to continue their middle class lifestyles, many Americans have been piling up mountains of debt, and it has gotten to the point where we have a major crisis on our hands.

According to the New York Post, the total amount of debt that U.S. households have accumulated is about to cross the 14 trillion dollar mark for the first time ever…

Meanwhile, record American household debt, near $14 trillion including mortgages and student loans, is some $1 trillion higher than during the Great Recession of 2008. Credit card debt of $1 trillion also exceeds the 2008 peak.

Americans are spending heavily, again — and often recklessly, say analysts.

This is the exact opposite of what U.S. consumers should be doing. We can see signs of a fresh economic slowdown all around us, and consumers should be feverishly trying to get out of debt as fast as they can.

But instead, debt levels just keep setting record after record. In fact, total student loan debt just hit a brand new record high of 1.605 trillion dollars, and auto loan debt just hit a brand new record high of 1.174 trillion dollars.

It would be one thing if we could handle all of this debt, but that isn’t the case. Bankruptcies have been steadily rising, and according to the latest figures the number of bankruptcy filings shot up another 5 percent in the month of July

Bankruptcy petitions for consumers and businesses are on the rise. There was a 5% increase in total bankruptcy filings in July 2019 from the previous month, the American Bankruptcy Institute said this week. There were 64,283 bankruptcy filings, up from 62,241 for the same period last year.

Unfortunately, this is probably just the beginning.

Right now, most of the country is living on the edge financially, and so a major economic slowdown would inevitably cause another enormous tsunami of consumer bankruptcies like we saw in 2008.

Even now, things are already so bad that many hard working “middle class” workers in high-cost cities such as New York are so financially stretched that they have to rely on free food from local food banks

“In high-cost cities like New York, personal incomes are not often enough to pay the household bills,” Zac Hall, vice president of anti-poverty programs at the Food Bank For New York City, told The Post. “We are seeing people using consumer debt as a way to make ends meet when they come here,” he added, citing the pressures his nonprofit faces to keep up the distribution of food and meals at no cost to some 1.5 million New Yorkers.

If 1.5 million people in New York are being fed by food banks now while things are still relatively stable, how bad will things be when the economy really starts to tank?

For decades, the “almighty U.S. consumer” was one of the fundamental pillars of our economy, but now that is no longer true.

U.S. consumers simply do not have a lot of discretionary income to spend these days, and this is killing major retailers all over the nation. We are on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and within the past 7 days more big retailers have announced that they will be permanently shutting down stores.

For example, Walgreens just announced that they will be closing “approximately 200 U.S. stores”

Walgreens plans to close approximately 200 U.S. stores, the company announced Tuesday in an SEC filing.

According to the document posted Tuesday on the Securities and Exchange Commission website, the move to close stores follows “a review of the real estate footprint in the United States.”

That wouldn’t be happening if the U.S. economy really was “booming”.

Here is another example that comes to us from Wolf Street

A’Gaci, a young women’s fashion retailer based in Texas, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday, for the second time, after having filed for the first time in January 2018. This time, it will liquidate. All its remaining 54 stores in seven states and Puerto Rico will be closed – the “bulk” of them by the end of this month.

In addition, we just learned that Party City is going to be closing more stores than expected in 2019

Party City is increasing the number of stores expected to shutter this year.

The New Jersey-based party supplies company said it was looking to close 55 stores throughout the year, up 10 from the May estimate of 45 stores.

I honestly don’t know what malls and shopping centers all over the U.S. are going to do. I once warned of a future in which America’s landscape would be littered with abandoned stores, and that future has now arrived.

For the moment, those at the very top of the economic pyramid are still doing okay, but the middle class is eroding a little bit more with each passing day. For much more on this, I would encourage you to check out this Youtube video by Jeremiah Babe.

I have been writing about the evisceration of the U.S. middle class for a decade, and the condition of the middle class right now is as bad as I have ever seen it.

And as we plunge into this new economic downturn, things are only going to get worse. The middle class is absolutely drowning in debt, and even a mild recession would be enough to financially wipe out millions of American families.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

The Most Medicated Country In The World: 46% Of Americans Have Taken A Pharmaceutical Drug Within The Last 30 Days

If it seems like about half the country is on drugs, that is because it is actually true. According to a new survey from the National Center for Health Statistics, almost half of all Americans have taken a pharmaceutical drug within the past 30 days, and that officially makes us “the most medicated country in the world”. And needless to say, those dealing these drugs are becoming exceedingly wealthy at our expense. The average American spends $1,200 a year on prescription drugs, but of course many Americans spend far more than that and others spend nothing at all. In recent years there has been a tremendous backlash against the big pharmaceutical corporations, because many of them have become exceedingly greedy. As you will see below, prices have been raised on 650 different drugs this year alone. Once they get their claws into you, the pharmaceutical giants want to get every last penny out of you that they possibly can.

Without a doubt, there are some pharmaceutical drugs that greatly help people. In fact, many people wouldn’t be alive today without them.

On the other hand, it has been estimated that Americans spend somewhere around $200 billion a year on drugs that they do not need, and this new survey from the National Center for Health Statistics discovered that 46 percent of all Americans have taken a prescription drug within the last 30 days

Nearly half of people in the US are taking prescription drugs, a new report reveals.

The National Center for Health Statistics surveyed people across the US, and found that about 46 percent of respondents had taken at least one prescription drug in the past month.

I am sorry, but there is no way that half the country needs to be hooked on drugs.

And for senior citizens that number is much higher. In fact, the survey found that a whopping 85 percent of Americans over the age of 60 are currently on at least one pharmaceutical drug.

For adults under the ago of 60, antidepressants are being taken more than anything else

For young adults antidepressants are king. According to the most recent numbers, 11.4 percent of 20- to 59-year-olds had taken a drug to help with their mood in the last month when they took the survey.

Could this help to explain why so many people are walking around like zombies these days?

And since nearly all mass shooters have been found to be on some kind of mind-altering drug, perhaps Congress should finally take some action in this area. It can be exceedingly difficult to get off these insidious drugs, and many that get hooked on them end up staying on them for the rest of their lives.

Of course antidepressants are just one part of the problem. For example, opioids are some of the most addictive drugs on the entire planet, and their overuse has destroyed countless lives all across America.

Like those that deal illegal drugs, once the big pharmaceutical companies have their hooks in you they are not afraid to take full advantage of it. And even though many Americans rely on life-saving drugs to literally stay alive, big pharma just keeps jacking up prices year after year after year. As I mentioned above, prices have been raised on 650 different medications this year alone

More than 650 products had price increases this year, through early February, according to Rx Savings Solutions, which sells software to employers and insurers to reduce drug costs. The industry justifies the moves as essential for investing in research and development. Drugmakers often point out that they see very little of the increases because of the big rebates they distribute to others in the supply chain, including insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, who in turn blame Pharma for setting high list prices.

In most cases, we are not just talking about a price increase of a dollar or two either.

For example, one study found that out-of-pocket costs for multiple sclerosis medications had gotten 20 times greater between 2004 and 2016

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, found that the average out-of-pocket costs for people taking medications for multiple sclerosis had risen the greatest over the past 12 years, costing 20 times more in 2016 than in 2004.

“Out-of-pocket costs have risen to the point where neurologists should be able to consider the potential financial burden for the patient when prescribing medication, but they do not have this information available to them,” said Dr. Brian C. Callaghan, the study’s lead author and assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan.

When you have to pay 20 times as much for the same medicine 12 years later, that is some serious price gouging.

But even worse if what Catalyst Pharmaceuticals just did.

They took a drug that literally makes it possible for people with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome to be able to walk and jacked the price all the way up to $375,000 a year

Bhanu Patel couldn’t believe the news. The cost of the medication that allows her to move — the one that enabled her to walk stairs again — shot up to $375,000.

Fear gripped her: What would this mean for her independence? Would she become a financial burden on her family? How is this possible in the country that’s given her so much?

Thankfully, there was so much outrage that the FDA decided to undercut them

The FDA announced Monday that it was approving a separate drug for pediatric patients with a rare, painful neuromuscular disease called Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, also known as LEMS. The disease weakens and fatigues muscles, causing agonizing pain to the point at which patients struggle to walk.

The move sparked celebration in the LEMS community and tanked the stock of Catalyst Pharmaceuticals, maker of the $375,000 drug, called Firdapse. The company’s stock price has dropped about 50% since Monday.

Look, nobody is suggesting that pharmaceutical companies should not be allowed to make a profit.

But when you act like a pig, you are going to get slaughtered, and Catalyst Pharmaceuticals deserves everything that is happening to it.

Once upon a time, the medical industry was all about helping people, but now it is all about making as much money as possible. We desperately need to fundamentally reform our healthcare system, but Congress is not going to do that any time soon.

So for now the big pharmaceutical companies will continue to try to get as many of us as possible hooked on their drugs, and they will continue to try to squeeze every single penny out of us that they possibly can.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Shocking New Study Finds That 137 Million Americans Suffered “Medical Financial Hardship In The Past Year”

The healthcare system in the United States is deeply broken, and it is causing massive financial pain for millions of American families. Previously, I have published articles where I talked about how medical bills are the primary factor in two-thirds of all personal bankruptcies in the United States, and that Americans had to borrow a whopping 88 billion dollars last year to cover medical costs. This is happening even though more than 90 percent of all Americans have some form of health coverage. Thanks to soaring deductibles and health insurance policies that are absolutely riddled with loopholes, more Americans than ever are being wiped out by medical bills. And now a brand new study that was conducted by researchers from the American Cancer Society has discovered that 137.1 million Americans suffered “medical financial hardship in the past year”. The following comes directly from the study

Approximately 137.1 million (95% CI 132.7–141.5) adults reported any medical financial hardship in the past year. Hardship is more common for material, psychological and behavioral domains in adults aged 18–64 years (28.9%, 46.9%, and 21.2%, respectively) than in adults aged ≥ 65 years (15.3%, 28.4%, and 12.7%, respectively; all p < .001). Lower educational attainment and more health conditions were strongly associated with hardship intensity in multivariable analyses in both age groups (p < .001). In the younger group, the uninsured were more likely to report multiple domains of hardship (52.8%), compared to those with some public (26.5%) or private insurance (23.2%) (p < .001). In the older group, individuals with Medicare only were more likely to report hardship in multiple domains (17.1%) compared to those with Medicare and public (12.1%) or Medicare and private coverage (10.1%) (p < .001).

We are the wealthiest nation on the entire planet, and we should have the greatest healthcare system.

This shouldn’t be happening.

And the conclusion that the study ultimately reached is that things are likely to get even worse as we move into the future

Medical financial hardship is common in the USA, especially in adults aged 18–64 years and those without health insurance coverage. With trends towards higher patient cost-sharing and increasing health care costs, risks of hardship may increase in the future.

When I ran for Congress, I strongly stressed the need for a complete and total overhaul of our healthcare system, but unfortunately our current representatives in Washington don’t seem too interested in that.

Today, many Americans try to avoid our healthcare system as much as possible because they are afraid of being hit with absolutely ridiculous bills.

Just consider the case of 9-year-old Oakley Yoder. She went for a hike in the woods at summer camp, and a snake bite forced her to go to the hospital

It was dusk as Oakley Yoder and the other summer camp kids hiked back to their tents at Illinois’ Jackson Falls last July. As the group approached a mound of boulders blocking the path, Oakley, then 9, didn’t see the lurking snake — until it bit a toe on her right foot.

“I was really scared,” Oakley said. “I thought that I could either get paralyzed or could actually die.”

So how much do you think her treatment cost?

A few hundred dollars?

A few thousand dollars?

Actually, the total bill was $142,938

Total bill: $142,938, including $67,957 for four vials of antivenin ($55,577.64 was charged for air ambulance transport). The balance included a ground ambulance charge and additional hospital and physician charges, according to the family’s insurer, IU Health Plans.

This is yet another example that shows that our current system needs to be totally dismantled and rebuilt from scratch.

You could buy an entire house for $142,938.

Here are some more facts from a previous article that show just how dramatically the U.S. healthcare system has failed…

3.7 trillion dollars was spent on health care in the United States in 2018. That breaks down to $10,739 per person.

-If our health care system was a country, it would have the fifth largest GDP on the entire planet.

76 percent of Americans believe that they pay too much for the quality of health care that they receive.

-Out of the 36 counties in the OECD, the U.S. ranks 31st in infant mortality.

-Prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States today.

-Pharmaceutical companies spend approximately 30 billion dollars a year to market their drugs to all of us.

Nearly half of all U.S. doctors are considering leaving the field of medicine, and health insurance companies are the primary reason.

-The median charge for visiting an emergency room in the United States is well over a thousand dollars.

I could go on and on all day, but let me give you just one more example of how flawed our healthcare system has become.

John Kapoor, the billionaire founder of Insys Theraputics, was just found guilty of bribing doctors to prescribe high doses of a painkiller called Subsys

Kapoor oversaw a marketing strategy at Insys that hired doctors as speakers at educational seminars as cover to pay them more than $1m to prescribe high doses of Subsys to patients who did not need it. Prosecutors said the seminars were no more than social gatherings at expensive New York restaurants followed by company sales reps taking the physicians to strip clubs and bars.

Prosecutors showed the jury spreadsheets of payments to doctors and how much the company profited from each bribe. In one instance, the company paid nearly $260,000 to two New York doctors who wrote more than $6m worth of Subsys prescriptions in 2014. Insys employees also posed as doctors to give insurance companies invented diagnoses to get approval for payments for the drug.

In this case justice was done, but the truth is that this sort of stuff happens in the medical world constantly.

Our entire healthcare system is now completely dominated by the pharmaceutical giants, the big health insurance companies and greedy corporate interests.

They don’t care about us. All they really care about is making as much money as possible, and if people get hurt in the process they are willing to live with that.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

It’s Only April, And U.S. Retailers Have Already Closed More Stores Than They Did ALL Of Last Year

If the U.S. economy is in good shape, why have retailers already shuttered more stores than they did in all of 2018? Not only that, we are also on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closures in a single year by more than 50 percent. Yes, Internet commerce is growing, but the Internet has been around for several decades now. It isn’t as if this threat just suddenly materialized. As Internet commerce continues to slowly expand, we would expect to see a steady drip of brick and mortar stores close, but instead what we are witnessing is an avalanche. If the U.S. economy really was “booming”, this wouldn’t be happening. But if the U.S. economy was heading into a recession, this is precisely what we would expect to see.

Last year, U.S. retailers closed 5,864 stores.

That was a rather depressing number, but here we are in April 2019 and we have already surpassed it. The following comes from CNN

This year, US retailers have announced that 5,994 stores will close. That number already exceeds last year’s total of 5,864 closure announcements, according to a recent report from Coresight Research.

At this time last year, there was a lot of optimism for the retail industry. Foot traffic at our shopping centers rose steadily throughout the early portion of the year before peaking in August.

But then something changed, and since that time there has been a clear downward trend

Foot traffic at some of the best shopping centers across the country peaked around August 2018 and has since started to fall, after rebounding for much of last year, according to a new report from data analytics firm Thasos, which uses more than 100 million mobile phones to track when consumers enter and leave certain trade areas.

Once again, you can’t blame this on Internet commerce. Foot traffic was rising for quite a while, but now what we are seeing is perfectly consistent with an economic slowdown.

Sadly, this could be just the beginning. In fact, one expert quoted by CNBC expects total store closures in the U.S. to hit 12,000 by the end of 2019…

“I expect store closures to accelerate in 2019, hitting some 12,000 by year end,” Deborah Weinswig, founder and CEO of Coresight, said.

If that happens, we will shatter the old yearly record by about 4,000.

We are in the early innings of America’s “retail apocalypse”, and it is going to get much, much worse.

Of course it isn’t just the retail industry that is hurting right now. With each passing day, we continue to get more signs that the U.S. economy is sliding into a new recession. For example, we just learned that during the first quarter of 2019 U.S. manufacturing was down 1.1 percent compared to a year ago…

Manufacturing fell 1.1 percent in the first three months of the year compared to the same period of 2018, the Fed reported.

The biggest reason for the decline in manufacturing is quite obvious. Businesses are absolutely swamped with unsold inventory, and the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has been steadily rising for months.

Earlier today, a Bloomberg article commented on the bloated inventories that we are seeing all over the nation…

One overhang is the auto market, where the six-month average of dealer stocks of cars and trucks matches the highest since 2009 at 75 days. Manufacturers and sellers of furniture and clothing share the same problem, as do small businesses. The inventory swing is likely to exacerbate the U.S. slowdown, with the economy already facing headwinds from the waning impact of tax cuts, slowing global growth and continuing trade tensions.

As economic activity slows down, less stuff is being shipped around the nation by air, rail and truck. We just got a new update from the Cass Freight Index, and it shows that freight shipment volume in the U.S. has now fallen for four months in a row

Freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – in March fell 1% from last year, according to the Cass Freight Index. It was the fourth month in a row of year-over-year declines, and the first declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

For my regular readers, these new numbers should be no surprise, because I have been tracking these trends for an extended period of time.

All of the numbers are telling us that economic conditions are getting worse, and all of the experts are telling us that we are way overdue for another recession.

Unfortunately, it isn’t likely to be “just another recession”. As I have repeatedly stressed, all of our long-term economic and financial problems have gotten far worse since the last recession. We have never seen bubbles like the bubbles that we are facing now, and the stage is set for the greatest meltdown in American history.

The only reason why we have even been able to get this far is by ruthlessly mortgaging the future. We borrowed trillions upon trillions of dollars that we should not have borrowed, and the Federal Reserve relentlessly pumped “hot money” into overheated financial markets.

Those “emergency measures” were able to stabilize the U.S. economy for a while, but in the process they made our long-term problems much, much worse.

In the end, it isn’t just the retail industry that is heading for an “apocalypse”. Our entire economy is built on a foundation of sand, and a giant storm is rapidly approaching our shores.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

We Have Seen This Happen Before The Last 3 Recessions – And Now It Is The Worst It Has Ever Been

Since the last financial crisis, we have witnessed the greatest corporate debt binge in U.S. history. Corporate debt has more than doubled since then, and it is now sitting at a grand total of more than 9 trillion dollars. Of course there have been other colossal corporate debt binges throughout our history, and they all ended badly. In fact, the ratio of corporate debt to U.S. GDP rose above 40 percent prior to each of the last three recessions, but this time around we have found a way to top that. According to Forbes, the ratio of nonfinancial corporate debt to U.S. GDP is now nearly 50 percent…

Since the last recession, nonfinancial corporate debt has ballooned to more than $9 trillion as of November 2018, which is nearly half of U.S. GDP. As you can see below, each recession going back to the mid-1980s coincided with elevated debt-to-GDP levels—most notably the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the 2000 dot-com bubble and the early ’90s slowdown.

You can see the chart they are talking about right here, and it clearly shows that each of the last three recessions coincided with the bursting of an enormous corporate debt bubble.

This time around the corporate debt bubble is larger than it has ever been before, and risky corporate debt has been growing faster than any other category

Through 2023, as much as $4.88 trillion of this debt is scheduled to mature. And because of higher rates, many companies are increasingly having difficulty making interest payments on their debt, which is growing faster than the U.S. economy, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

On top of that, the very fastest-growing type of debt is riskier BBB-rated bonds—just one step up from “junk.” This is literally the junkiest corporate bond environment we’ve ever seen.

Needless to say, the stage is set for a corporate debt meltdown of epic proportions.

What makes this debt bubble even worse is the way that our big corporations have been spending the money that they are borrowing.

Instead of spending the money to build factories, hire workers and expand their businesses, our big corporations have been spending more money on stock buybacks than anything else.

Every year, publicly traded corporations spend hundreds of billions of dollars buying back their own stocks from shareholders, and much of that is being done with borrowed money.

For example, in recent years General Motors has spent nearly 14 billion dollars on stock buybacks. And that number certainly sounds quite impressive until you learn that General Electric has spent a whopping 40 billion dollars on stock buybacks.

Sadly, both corporate behemoths are now absolutely drowning in debt as a result of their foolishness.

In the final analysis, borrowing money to fund stock buybacks is little more than an elaborate Ponzi scheme. In their endless greed, corporate executives are cannibalizing their own companies because it makes some people wealthier in the short-term.

And now this giant corporate debt bubble has reached a bursting point, and there is no way that this story is going to end well.

Meanwhile, another financial bubble of epic proportions is also getting a lot of attention these days. If you are not familiar with “shadow banking”, here is a pretty good explanation from CNBC

Nonbank lending, an industry that played a central role in the financial crisis, has been expanding rapidly and is still posing risks should credit conditions deteriorate.

Often called “shadow banking” — a term the industry does not embrace — these institutions helped fuel the crisis by providing lending to underqualified borrowers and by financing some of the exotic investment instruments that collapsed when subprime mortgages fell apart.

This kind of lending has absolutely exploded all over the globe since the last recession, and it has now become a 52 trillion dollar bubble

In the years since the crisis, global shadow banks have seen their assets grow to $52 trillion, a 75% jump from the level in 2010, the year after the crisis ended. The asset level is through 2017, according to bond ratings agency DBRS, citing data from the Financial Stability Board.

Who is going to pick up the pieces when a big chunk of those debts start going bad during the next financial crisis?

Never before in human history have we seen so much debt. Government debt is at all-time record levels all over the world, corporate debt is wildly out of control and consumer debt continues to surge.

A system that requires debt levels to grow at a much faster pace than the overall global economy is growing to maintain itself is a fundamentally flawed system.

But that is what we are facing. If global debt growth fell to zero, the global economy would instantly plunge into a horrific depression. The only way to keep the game going is to keep expanding the debt bubble, and the larger it becomes the worse the future crash will be.

Most of us have been in this system for our entire lives, and so most of us don’t even realize that it is possible to have a financial system that is not based on debt. This is one of the reasons why I get so frustrated with the financially-illiterate politicians who insist that everything will be just fine if we just tweak our current system a little bit.

No, everything is not going to be just fine. In fact, we have perfectly set the stage for the worst financial meltdown in human history.

At this point nobody has put forth a plan to fundamentally change the system, and there is no way out.

All that is left to do is to keep this current bubble going for as long as humanly possible, and then to duck and cover when disaster finally strikes.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Americans Had To Borrow 88 BILLION Dollars To Cover Their Medical Bills Last Year

I know that the headline sounds outrageous, but it is actually true. According to a brand new report that was just released, Americans had to borrow 88 billion dollars to cover their medical bills last year. That is a truly astounding number, and it shows just how dramatically our current health care system has failed. And even though the vast majority of Americans are covered by “health insurance”, millions of us are deathly afraid to go to the hospital because of what it might cost. Today, two-thirds of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are caused by medical bills, and most of the people going bankrupt actually had health insurance. Overall, more than half a million American families are financially ruined by medical bills each year, and meanwhile our “representatives” in Washington are doing absolutely nothing to fix the problem.

Surveys have shown that up to two-thirds of the country is living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, and an unexpected medical bill can be absolutely devastating for those that are just barely scraping by.

Without much of a financial cushion to fall back on, many families must borrow money when confronted with a large medical expense, and the scale at which this is happening is absolutely stunning

Health care costs in the United States are generally measured as the highest in the world. Last year, many Americans could not afford their health care costs and so borrowed $88 billion to pay for that portion they could not afford.

According to a new West Health and Gallup poll, in a new report titled “The U.S. Healthcare Cost Crisis,” the $88 billion was borrowed in the year before the survey, which was done from January 14 to February 20. The poll was conducted via a random group of 3,537 adults over 18 living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

How in the world is this possible?

After all, more than 90 percent of all Americans have some form of health coverage. So why did Americans need to borrow 88 billion dollars to cover their unpaid medical bills last year alone?

Well, first of all it is important to remember that health insurance deductibles have gotten obscenely huge. The following numbers come from a CNN article about Obamacare

The law sets a ceiling on how much consumers have to spend on health care. In 2019, it’s $7,900 for a single person and double that for a family. Some bronze plans peg their deductibles to those levels.

The average deductible for a 2019 bronze policy — which have higher deductibles, but lower premiums than other tiers of Obamacare plans — is nearly $5,900, while the average maximum of out-of-pocket limit is just under $7,000, according to Health Pocket, an online health insurance shopping tool. Family bronze plans have an average deductible of just under $12,200 and an average out-of-pocket maximum of nearly $14,000.

Secondly, even if you have surpassed your deductible, there is still no guarantee that your health insurance company will cover your medical bills. If you do not jump through every single little hoop they want you to jump through, in many instances they will leave you high and dry. When I was running for Congress I had personal conversations with so many people that had been screwed over by the health insurance companies. The more claims they deny, the more money they make, and they have become masters at finding even the smallest loophole that will enable them to wiggle off the hook.

Of course there are some health insurance companies out there that are doing a good job, but the bad apples give the entire industry a very bad name.

We have a system that is deeply broken, and it greatly frustrates me that both political parties seem so uninterested in getting a solution through Congress.

Here are some more numbers that show the current state of the U.S. health care system…

3.7 trillion dollars was spent on health care in the United States in 2018. That breaks down to $10,739 per person.

-If our health care system was a country, it would have the fifth largest GDP on the entire planet.

76 percent of Americans believe that they pay too much for the quality of health care that they receive.

-Out of the 36 counties in the OECD, the U.S. ranks 31st in infant mortality.

-Prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States today.

-Pharmaceutical companies spend approximately 30 billion dollars a year to market their drugs to all of us.

Nearly half of all U.S. doctors are considering leaving the field of medicine, and health insurance companies are the primary reason.

-The median charge for visiting an emergency room in the United States is well over a thousand dollars.

When I was growing up, my mother took me and my siblings to the doctor constantly. But I don’t know anyone that does that today, because it would be ridiculously expensive in most cases.

And one recent survey actually found that 41 percent of all Americans decided against an emergency room visit last year “due to cost”

Another major personal financial concern among Americans is that 45% worry that a “major health care event” would leave them bankrupt, the West Health-Gallup survey found. Additionally, in the past year, 41% said they did not visit an emergency room due to cost.

Fifteen million Americans “deferred” purchasing prescription drugs in the past year because of costs as well. Finally, 76% believe the problem will become worse because health care costs will rise more over the next two years.

Fixing our horribly broken health care system needs to be a top national priority, but earlier today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it abundantly clear that nothing will be done about Obamacare in the Senate until the 2020 election. And of course the Democrats are not going to make any major moves on health care until the 2020 election either.

Unfortunately, we are stuck with what we have got for the moment.

Our health care crisis is a national nightmare that never seems to end, and it gets worse with each passing year.

So for now, just hope that nobody in your family becomes seriously ill, because if that happens there is a good chance you might go bankrupt.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Retail Layoffs Are 92 Percent Higher In 2019 – And Now Even Wal-Mart Is “Quietly Closing Stores”

Just like we witnessed during the last recession, major retailers are laying off tens of thousands of workers, and it looks like this will be the worst year for store closings in all of U.S. history. Many are referring to this as “the retail apocalypse”, and without a doubt this is one of the toughest stretches for retailers that we have ever seen. But many believe that what we have witnessed so far is just the beginning. After all, if retailers are struggling this much now, how bad will things be once the next recession really gets rolling?

Of course the truth is that things have been rocky for the retail industry for quite a few years, but the numbers are telling us that this crisis is really starting to accelerate.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, retail layoffs were up a whopping 92 percent in January and February compared to the same period a year ago. The following comes from NBC News

More than 41,000 people have lost their jobs in the retail industry so far this year — a 92 percent spike in layoffs since the same time last year, according to a new report.

And the layoffs continue to mount, with JCPenney announcing this week it would be closing 18 stores in addition to three previously announced closures, as part of a “standard annual review.”

Yes, competition from Internet commerce is hurting the traditional retail industry, but it certainly doesn’t explain a 92 percent increase.

And very few retailers have been able to avoid this downsizing trend. At this point, even the largest retailer in the entire country has begun “quietly closing stores”

Walmart is closing at least 11 US stores across eight states.

The stores include one Walmart Supercenter in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Walmart Neighborhood Market stores in Arizona, California, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

For decades, Wal-Mart has been expanding extremely aggressively.

They have plenty of cash, and so the only way that it would make sense for them to close stores is if they anticipated that we are heading into a recession.

Here is a list of the addresses where Wal-Mart stores are closing

6085 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, Arizona
3900 W. Ina Road, Tucson, Arizona
1600 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, California
712 N. Western Ave., Liberal, Kansas
1229 NE. Evangeline Trwy., Lafayette, Louisiana
3603 Broad River Road, Columbia, South Carolina
1757 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy., Morristown, Tennessee
2501 University Commons Way, Knoxville, Tennessee
7000 Iron Bridge Road, North Chesterfield, Virginia
2864 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, Virginia
7809 NE. Vancouver Plaza Dr., Vancouver, Washington

Of course Wal-Mart is in far better shape than almost everyone else in the industry.

One of Wal-Mart’s key competitors, Shopko, has just announced that they will be shutting down all of their stores

Shopko will liquidate its assets and close all of its remaining locations by mid-June.

The company was unable to find a buyer for the retail business and will begin winding down its operations beginning this week, the company said in statement released Monday. The decision to liquidate will bring an end to the brick-and-mortar business that began in 1962 with one location in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

And personally I was very saddened to learn that Lifeway Christian Bookstores has also decided to close all their brick and mortar stores

Lifeway Christian Bookstores announced last week it would be closing the doors of all 170 brick and mortar stores, in a pivot to focusing on digital and e-commerce.

“The decision to close our local stores is a difficult one,” said Lifeway Chief Executive Officer Brad Waggoner. “While we had hoped to keep some stores open, current market projections show this is no longer a viable option.”

Whenever I do an article like this, I always have some readers that try to convince me that this is only happening because of the growth of Internet retailing.

And yes, Internet retailing has been growing, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of all U.S. retail sales. In addition, it is important to point out that Internet retailers had a very disappointing holiday season just like brick and mortar retailers did.

Ultimately, the truth is that the U.S. economy has been steadily slowing down in recent months.

During the months of December, January and February, the amount of stuff being moved around the country by truck, rail and air was lower than during all of those same months a year earlier. The following comes from Wolf Richter

Now it’s the third month in a row, and the red flag is getting more visible and a little harder to ignore about the goods-based economy: Freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – in February fell 2.1% from February a year ago, according to the Cass Freight Index, released today. The three months in a row of year-over-year declines are the first such declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

I have a feeling that when we get the final numbers for March that they will show that this streak has now extended to four months.

Right now, unsold goods are starting to pile up in U.S. warehouses at a rate that we haven’t seen since the last recession. Many retailers that are barely clinging to life will simply not survive if economic conditions continue to deteriorate.

Unfortunately, it appears that things are only going to get rougher for the U.S. economy in the months ahead.

So more retail workers are going to get laid off, more stores are going to close, and there are going to be a lot more stories about our ongoing “retail apocalypse” in the mainstream media.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

The College Admissions Scandal Is A Perfect Example Of How Deeply Corrupt America Has Become

Is there anything left in this country that has not been deeply tainted by corruption? By now you have probably heard that dozens of people have been arrested for participating in a multi-million dollar college admissions scam. Enormous amounts of money were paid out in order to ensure that children from very wealthy families were able to get into top schools such as Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas and the University of Southern California. We should certainly be disgusted by these revelations, but we shouldn’t be surprised. Such corruption happens every single day on every single level of society in America. At this point our nation is so far gone that it is shocking when you run into someone that actually still has some integrity.

The “mastermind” behind this college admissions scam was a con man named William Rick Singer. He had been successfully getting the kids of wealthy people into top colleges for years using “side doors”, and he probably thought that he would never get caught.

But he did.

There were four basic methods that Singer used to get children from wealthy families into elite schools. The first two methods involved bribes

Bribing college entrance exam administrators to allow a third party to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams, in some cases by posing as actual students,’ is the first.

Bribing university athletic coaches and administrators to designate applicants as purported athletic recruits – regardless of their athletic abilities, and in some cases, even though they did not play the sport,’ is the second.

Because many of these kids didn’t even play the sports they were being “recruited” for, in some cases Photoshop was used to paste their faces on to the bodies of real athletes

In order to get non-athletic kids admitted to college as athletes, Singer often had to create fake profiles for them. Sometimes this involved fabricating resumes that listed them having played on elite club teams, but to finish the illusion Singer and his team would also use Photoshop to combine photos of the kids with actual athletes in the sport.

A number of college coaches became exceedingly wealthy from taking bribes to “recruit” kids that would never play once they got to school, but now a lot of those same coaches are probably going to prison.

The third and fourth methods that Singer used involved more direct forms of cheating

‘Having a third party take classes in place of the actual students, with the understanding that the grades earned in those classes would be submitted as part of the students’ application,’ is the third.

The fourth was ‘submitting falsified applications for admission to universities … that, among other things, included the fraudulently obtained exam scores and class grades, and often listed fake awards and athletic activities.’

Of course the main thing that the media is focusing on is the fact that some celebrities are among those being charged in this case, and that includes Lori Loughlin from “Full House”

It was important to “Full House” star Lori Loughlin that her kids have “the college experience” that she missed out on, she said back in 2016.

Loughlin, along with “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman, is among those charged in a scheme in which parents allegedly bribed college coaches and insiders at testing centers to help get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Despite how cynical I have become lately, I never would have guessed that Lori Loughlin was capable of such corruption.

After all, she seems like such a nice lady on television.

But apparently she was extremely determined to make sure that her daughters had “the college experience”, and so Loughlin and her husband shelled out half a million dollars in bribes

Loughlin and Giannulli ‘agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team – despite the fact that they did not participate in crew – thereby facilitating their admission to USC,’ according to the documents.

As bad as this scandal is, can we really say that it is much worse than what is going on around the rest of the country every single day?

Of course not.

We are a very sick nation, and we are getting sicker by the day.

William Rick Singer had a good con going, and he should have stopped while he was ahead

William “Rick” Singer said he had the inside scoop on getting into college, and anyone could get in on it with his book, “Getting In: Gaining Admission To Your College of Choice.”

“This book is full of secrets,” he said in Chapter 1 before dispensing advice on personal branding, test-taking and college essays.

But Singer had even bigger secrets, and those would cost up to $1.2 million.

But like most con men, Singer just had to keep pushing the envelope, and in the end it is going to cost him everything.

The ironic thing is that our colleges and universities are pulling an even bigger con. They have convinced all of us that a college education is the key to a bright future, but meanwhile the quality of the “education” that they are providing has deteriorated dramatically. I spent eight years in school getting three degrees, and so I know what I am talking about. For much more on all this, please see my recent article entitled “50 Actual College Course Titles That Prove That America’s Universities Are Training Our College Students To Be Socialists”.

I know that it is not fashionable to talk about “morality” and “values” these days, but the truth is that history has shown us that any nation that is deeply corrupt is not likely to survive for very long.

Our founders understood this, and former president John Adams once stated that our Constitution “was made only for a moral and religious people”

Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Today, we are neither moral or religious.

What we are is deeply corrupt, and America will not survive if we keep going down this path.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

12 Statistics That Prove That The U.S. Is Facing A Consumer Debt Apocalypse

In the entire history of the United States, consumers have never been in so much debt. And that would not be a crisis as long as the vast majority of us were regularly making our debt payments, but as you will see below delinquency levels are starting to rise to extremely alarming levels. In fact, some of the numbers that are coming in are even worse than we witnessed at any point during the last recession. If things are this bad already, what are they going to look like once the economy really gets bad? Because even though it appears that we are heading into a new recession, according to the Federal Reserve it has not officially begun yet. That means that much worse is yet to come. Just like last time, millions of Americans will likely lose their jobs, and without an income most of those that suddenly find themselves unemployed will not be able to pay their bills. The stage is set for the largest tsunami of consumer debt defaults that this country has ever seen, and that will absolutely devastate major financial institutions all across America.

If you think that I am exaggerating even a little bit, please read over the following list very carefully. The following are 12 statistics that prove that the U.S. is facing a consumer debt apocalypse…

#1 Total consumer debt in the United States just surpassed the 4 trillion dollar mark. That has never happened before in all of U.S. history.

#2 When you throw in mortgages and all other kinds of individual debt, U.S. consumers are now 13.5 trillion dollars in debt.

#3 A whopping 480 million credit cards are in circulation in this country. That number has shot up by nearly 13 percent since 2015.

#4 U.S. consumers are carrying 870 billion dollars worth of balances on their credit cards right now.

#5 56 percent of Americans that currently have credit card balances have been carrying them for more than a year.

#6 The number of “seriously delinquent”credit card accounts in the U.S. has shot up to 37 million.

#7 Americans now owe a total of 1.3 trillion dollars on their auto loans.

#8 At this moment, more than 7 million Americans are delinquent on their auto loan payments. The figure has already surpassed what we witnessed during the peak of the last recession by about a million.

#9 The total amount of student loan debt in the United States has reached the 1.5 trillion dollar mark. Over the last 10 years, that number has more than doubled.

#10 Right now, more than 166 billion dollars in student loan debt is considered to be “seriously delinquent”.

#11 Millennials are now more than a trillion dollars in debt. No generation of Americans has ever been deeper in debt at this stage in life.

#12 One recent survey found that 78 percent of Americans “are living paycheck to paycheck”. Suffocating debt levels are a big reason why that figure is so incredibly high.

Since so many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, that means that there is very little room for error. During the last recession, large numbers of Americans immediately began getting behind on their bills once they were laid off, and we saw mortgage defaults rise to unprecedented levels. Sadly, we haven’t learned from our past mistakes, and millions upon millions of Americans will find themselves drowning in an ocean of red ink once again during this next recession.

But even if you are not living paycheck to paycheck, carrying credit card balances is a very unwise thing to do.

Most Americans don’t realize that if you only make the minimum payment on a credit card every month, you can end up paying more in interest than you did for the original purchases. The following comes from USA Today

If a credit-card borrower only made the minimum payments on $5,000 of debt, for example, they’d be in debt for more than 18 years and would end up paying $6,372 in interest based on national average interest rates, according to Ted Rossman, industry analyst for CreditCards.com.

If you keep playing this game, I promise you that you will never get rich. Instead, the only people that will be getting wealthy will be the people that are receiving your debt payments.

Credit card debt is one of my pet peeves. One of the best financial moves that anyone can make is to get out of credit card debt and never look back.

And that is particularly important at this juncture because the economy is really starting to slow down. Compared to last year, U.S. job cut announcements were up 117 percent in February.

We haven’t seen anything like that since the last financial crisis.

At this point, even mainstream economists are openly admitting what is coming. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, sounded downright gloomy in his most recent article…

The economy is throttling back. Way back. That’s the message in the near stall out of job growth last month. Job creation probably isn’t as bad as February’s disappointing numbers suggest — unusually poor weather played a role in limiting job growth to just 20,000 — but it is weaker than just a few months ago. Businesses are nervous, and sentiment is at risk of breaking if anything goes wrong.

And plenty could go wrong. A recession could materialize swiftly if businesses lose faith, and there is a good chance they will.

And when the next recession strikes, things are going to get very, very rough for U.S. consumers.

A consumer debt apocalypse is coming, and it is going to be incredibly painful.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Millennials Are More Than A Trillion Dollars In Debt, And Most Of Them Don’t Even Own A Home

When compared to a similar point in time, Millennials are deeper in debt than any other generation that has come before them. And the biggest reason why they are in so much debt may surprise you. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s talk about the giant mountain of debt that Millennials have accumulated. According to the New York Fed, the total amount of debt that Millennials are carrying has risen by a whopping 22 percent in just the last five years

New findings from the New York Federal Reserve reveal that millennials have now racked up over US$1 trillion of debt.

This troubling amount of debt, an increase of over 22% in just five years, is more than any other generation in history. This situation may leave you wondering how millennials ended up in such a sorry state.

Many young adults are absolutely drowning in debt, but the composition of that debt is quite different when compared to previous generations at a similar point in time.

Mortgage debt and credit card debt levels are far lower for Millennials, but the level of student loan debt is far, far higher

While the debt levels accumulated by millennials eclipse those of the previous generation, Generation X, at a similar point in time, the complexion of the debt is very different.

According to a 2018 report from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, mortgage debt is about 15% lower for millennials and credit card debt among millennials was about two-thirds that of Gen X.

However, student loan debt was over 300% greater.

Over the last 10 years, the total amount of student loan debt in the United States has more than doubled.

It is an absolutely enormous financial problem, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution. Some politicians on the left are pledging to make college education “free” in the United States, but they never seem to explain who is going to pay for that.

But what everyone can agree on is that student loan debt levels are wildly out of control. The following statistics come from Forbes

The latest student loan debt statistics for 2019 show how serious the student loan debt crisis has become for borrowers across all demographics and age groups. There are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt – and higher than both credit cards and auto loans. Borrowers in the Class of 2017, on average, owe $28,650, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

What makes all of this even more depressing is the fact that the quality of “higher education” in the U.S. has gone down the toilet in recent years. For much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “50 Actual College Course Titles That Prove That America’s Universities Are Training Our College Students To Be Socialists”.

Our colleges and universities are not adequately preparing our young people for their future careers, but they are burdening them with gigantic financial obligations that will haunt many of them for decades to come.

We have a deeply broken system, and we desperately need a complete and total overhaul of our system of higher education.

Due to the fact that so many of them are swamped by student loan debt, the homeownership rate for Millennials is much, much lower than the homeownership rate for the generations that immediately preceded them. The following comes from CNBC

The homeownership rate for those under 35 was just 36.5 percent in the last quarter of 2018, compared with 61 percent for those aged 35 to 44, and 70 percent for those aged 45 to 54, according to the U.S. Census. The millennial homeownership rate actually dropped in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter, but was unchanged year over year.

This is one of the big reasons why “Housing Bubble 2” is beginning to burst. There are not enough Millennials buying homes, and it looks like things could be even worse for Generation Z.

If you are a young adult, I would encourage you to limit your exposure to student loan debt as much as possible, because the debt that you accumulate while in school can have very serious long-term implications that you may not even be considering right now.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

50 Actual College Course Titles That Prove That America’s Universities Are Training Our College Students To Be Socialists

What in the world are they teaching to our young people? As you go through the list of college course titles below, I am sure that many of you will be completely shocked. Most parents assume that they are sending their children to college to get prepared for their future careers, but the truth is that a lot of our major colleges and universities have become little more than indoctrination centers for progressive thought. Our college students are literally being systematically trained to be socialists, and it is working. According to a brand new Harris Poll that was just released, 37.2 percent of all Americans “prefer living in a socialist country”. But for Millennials and Generation Z combined, that figure is 49.6 percent. That means that essentially half of our young adults want to be socialists, and that has enormous implications for the future of our society.

So how did this happen?

Well, the truth is that it really isn’t a mystery. Progressives have a stranglehold on higher education in the United States, and they are training future generations of leaders to think just like them.

Young America’s Foundation has just released their yearly report on the craziest college courses in America, and I pulled some examples out of that report that demonstrate how bad things have gotten.

The following are 50 actual college course titles that prove that America’s universities are literally training our college students to be socialists…

#1 Harvard University: FRSEMR 62O—Who is a Fascist? Culture and Politics on the Radical Right

#2 Princeton University: FRS 139—Marx in the 21st Century

#3 Yale University: AMST 469a—Progressivism: Theory and Practice

#4 University of Alabama: SW 351—Oppression & Social Justice

#5 University of Florida: WST 3349—Ecofeminism

#6 University of Florida: POT 4053—Great Political Thinkers: Machiavelli to Marx

#7 University of Kentucky: SOC 235—Inequalities in Society

#8 University of Missouri: PSYCH 4984—Promoting Social Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion Capstone

#9 Middlebury College: AMST 0269—Beyond Intersectionality: Developing Anti-Racist and Anti-Capitalist Feminisms

#10 Middlebury College: ECON 0405—Economics of Discrimination

#11 University of Minnesota: AFRO 1917—Inequality and the American Dream

#12 University of Minnesota: SOC 3507—Immigration to the United States: Beyond Walls

#13 University of Minnesota: CSCL 3405—Marx for Today

#14 University of Minnesota: CI 5137—Multicultural Gender-Fair Curriculum

#15 University of Iowa: GWSS 1005—Introduction to Social Justice

#16 University of Iowa: GWSS 2045—Working for Social Justice

#17 University of Illinois: GWS 337—Interrogating Masculinities

#18 Indiana University: GNDR-G 330—Looking Like a Feminist: Visual Culture and Critical Theory

#19 University of Maryland: WMST 300—Feminist Reconceptualizations of Knowledge

#20 University of Michigan: WOMENSTD 434—Eco/Queer/Feminist Art Practices

#21 Michigan State University: ANP 859—Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change: Methods and Application

#22 Ohio State University: WGSST 3200—Breaking the Law: An Introduction to Gender Justice

#23 Penn State University: AFAM 147—The Life and Thought of Malcolm X

#24 Purdue University: OLS 45400—Gender And Diversity In Management

#25 University of Wisconsin: HISTORY 346—Trans/Gender in Historical Perspective

#26 University of Wisconsin: GEN&WS 536—Queering Sexuality Education

#27 University of Wisconsin: AFRICAN 233—Global HipHop and Social Justice

#28 Williams College: AFR 342—Racial Capitalism

#29 Williams College: AMST 219—Understanding Social Class

#30 Williams College: ENVI 103—Global Warming and Environmental Change

#31 Amherst College: POSC 407—Contemporary Debates: Gender and Right-Wing Populism

#32 Amherst College: SWAG 351—From Birth to Death: LGBTQ Life Trajectories

#33 Swarthmore College: ENVS 043—Race, Gender, Class and Environment

#34 Swarthmore College: RELG 032—Queering God: Feminist and Queer Theology

#35 Swarthmore College: RELG 033—Queering the Bible

#36 Wellesley College: AMST 281—Rainbow Republic: American Queer Culture from Walt Whitman to Lady Gaga

#37 Wellesley College: SOC 205—Modern Families and Social Inequalities

#38 Carleton College: POSC 275—Black Radical Political Thought

#39 Pomona College: AFRI144A—Black Women Feminism(s) and Social Change

#40 Pomona College: GWS142—Queering Childhood

#41 Claremont McKenna College: GOVT113—Inequality, Politics, and Public Policy: Class, Race, and Gender

#42 Davidson College: SOC 356—Feminization of Poverty

#43 Butler University: RI379—The Problem of God

#44 Creighton University: ANT 178—Global Citizenship

#45 DePaul University: LGQ 338—Sexual Justice: Lesbians, Gays and the Law

#46 Georgetown University: WGST 250—The Breast: Image, Myth, Legend

#47 Providence College: SOC 418—Globalization and Social Justice

#48 St. John’s University: SOC 1170—Inequality; Race, Class and Gender

#49 University of Pennsylvania: RELS 110—American Jesus

#50 University of Pennsylvania: URBS 050—Womanism and Identity Politics in the Realm of Hip-Hop

This system of “higher education” has produced Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and millions of young radical leftists just like her.

And even though she has only been in Congress for a little more than two months, AOC is already one of the most popular politicians in America.

Unfortunately, she is tremendously disgusted with capitalism. In fact, according to NBC News she just told a large crowd that capitalism “cannot be redeemed”…

She dismissed concern about the government taking over corporations, which she said she doesn’t favor, by saying “corporations have already taken over our government.”

Instead, she said, her view of democratic socialism emphasizes making everything, politics and the economy, more democratic. And she said capitalism — which she defined as an ideology of “putting profit above of everything else in society” — “cannot be redeemed.”

Is this where our country is headed?

Is there any hope that we can return to the values that this nation was founded upon?

We better hope so, because those values helped us to become the greatest nation on the entire planet. I really like how Trish Regan made this point in her recent piece

America is losing its way amid this socialism madness. The new alt-left’s mob-like insanity is spinning a lie– a lie that capitalism is bad and that capitalists are bad.

Capitalism has made us what and who we are as an economy and as a nation.

Alexander Hamilton said during the founding years of our great republic:

“True liberty, by protecting the exertions and talents of industry, and securing to them their justly acquired fruits, tends more powerfully than any other cause to augment the mass of national wealth and to produce the mischiefs of opulence.” – Alexander Hamilton, “Defense of the Funding System,” July 1795, in Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 19, p. 32.

I very much agree with her. As a nation, we are definitely losing our way.

Hopefully we can find our way back, because the path that we are currently on doesn’t lead anywhere good.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Investors Brace For Impact As The Cancer That Is Ravaging “The Real Economy” Starts To Spread

2019 sure has been a weird year so far. On Wall Street, everything has been coming up roses for investors up to this point. Stock prices have risen more than 10 percent year-to-date, and the horrible crashes of late last year are quickly fading from memory. Meanwhile, the real economy is literally falling to pieces right in front of our eyes. Debt delinquencies are at unprecedented levels, bankruptcies are soaring, retail stores are closing at a record pace, this is the worst economy for farmers since the early 1980s, exports are plummeting and a brand new real estate crisis has now begun. Economic cancer is rapidly spreading throughout our country, and the U.S. economy is deteriorating at the fastest pace that we have seen since the last recession. So how long will it be before Wall Street catches up with economic reality?

The retail industry is being hit particularly hard. At the end of last week, major retailers announced 465 store closings in a single 48 hour period…

The ‘retail apocalypse’ is alive and well this week with major chains such as Gap, JCPenney, Victoria’s Secret and Foot Locker all announcing massive closures, totalling the death of more than 465 stores over the last 48 hours.

And those closings already bring the grand total for 2019 to “a whopping 4,309 store closures”

That builds on recent store closure announcements by Gymboree, Payless ShoeSource, Charlotte Russe and Ann Taylor parent company Ascena Retail, to name a few. A whopping 4,309 store closures were announced by retailers just in the first two months of this year, Coresight Research said in a research note on Friday. That’s well ahead of the number of announcements the market research firm was tracking this same time a year ago, it said.

The term “retail apocalypse” is being thrown around so frequently these days that it has almost lost its meaning, but the worst is yet to come.

Meanwhile, layoffs are starting to come fast and furious now. For example, I was recently made aware of major job cuts that just happened in North Carolina

Duke Energy Corp. eliminated 1,900 positions in its latest round of job reductions, largely through voluntary buyouts but with some involuntary layoffs included.

For the first time since the last recession, I think that it is time to start visiting sites like Daily Job Cuts on a regular basis once again. Millions of Americans lost their jobs in 2008 and 2009, and a lot of you can still remember how painful that was.

In the middle of the country, the big news is “the farm apocalypse”. Last week, we learned that farm debt has now jumped 30 percent since 2013…

“Farm debt has been rising more rapidly over the last five years, increasing by 30% since 2013 – up from $315 billion to $409 billion, according to USDA data, and up from $385 billion in just the last year – to levels seen in the 1980s,” Perdue said in his testimony to the House Agriculture Committee.

As a result of this giant mountain of debt, a ton of small and mid-size farms are going under. As I noted the other day, farm debt delinquencies have now reached the highest level that we have witnessed in 9 years.

I really, really don’t understand the people that are telling us that everything is going to be okay.

Everything is not okay, and things are getting worse with each passing day. ISM’s manufacturing survey just hit the lowest level in 26 months, and for a whole bunch more extremely ominous economic numbers please see my previous article entitled “18 Really Big Numbers That Show That The U.S. Economy Is Starting To Fall Apart Very Rapidly”.

Of course it isn’t just the U.S. that is hurting. Up north, Canada is literally teetering on the brink of recession

The Canadian government shocked the professional financial and economic media with their latest fourth quarter GDP release showing the economy has essentially come to a grinding halt at 0.1% growth.

And over in Europe, things are arguably even worse. Germany is supposed to have the strongest economy in the entire region, but they are also right on the brink of recession

The country’s economy just escaped entering recession territory last month, with GDP growing at just zero percent following a 0.4 percent contraction in the previous three-month period. But Germany could be just weeks away from a recession-threatening double whammy as a potential no-deal Brexit and Donald Trump’s warning to hike car tariffs by up to 25 percent could send the economy tumbling. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ministers have entered into a frantic plan to avert an economic catastrophe which could end Europe’s biggest economy’s golden growth for a decade.

This is a global economic slowdown, and many believe that it will be even worse than what we experienced in 2008.

But as I have previously warned, we aren’t just heading toward an economic storm. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, and that includes our governmental institutions.

On Sunday, we learned that the House Judiciary Committee is opening an investigation into obstruction of justice by President Trump. The following comes from Reuters

The House Judiciary Committee will seek documents from more than 60 people and organizations as it begins investigations into possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Donald Trump, the panel’s chairman said on Sunday.

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler told ABC’s “This Week” the panel wanted documents from the Department of Justice, the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, among others.

This is going to be a year of great governmental shaking. And no matter which side emerges victorious from the legal struggles and from the election of 2020, the truth is that our governmental institutions will never be the same again.

From 2016 through 2018, America experienced a time of relative peace and prosperity, and a lot of people out there were convinced that this bubble of unsustainable false prosperity could continue indefinitely.

Now it is becoming very clear what is ahead of us, and a lot of people are starting to freak out.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

“An Unavoidable Global Recession”: The Warnings Get Louder As Worldwide Economic Numbers Continue To Deteriorate

Economic numbers all over the world continue to get worse, and as you will see below, even New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is now warning of “an unavoidable global recession”. Unfortunately, most Americans still have absolutely no idea that this is happening. Most ordinary citizens are still under the impression that everything is going to be just fine, but the numbers suggest otherwise. The Baltic Dry Index just plummeted to the lowest level that we have seen in three years, and this is yet another indication that the global trade war is causing widespread economic pain. And according to Bloomberg, global economic growth has now dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since the Great Recession…

The global economy’s loss of momentum has left expansion now looking like its weakest since the global financial crisis, a development that’s already sparked a dramatic shift among central banks.

A UBS model suggests world growth slowed to a 2.1 percent annualized pace at the end of 2018, which it says would be the weakest since 2008-2009.

Unfortunately, it appears that things are getting even worse during the first few months of 2019. In North America, Europe and Asia, signs of a major downturn are seemingly everywhere

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much sign of that. China car sales dropped in January, and data last week showed U.S. retail sales posted their worst drop in nine years in December. In Europe, where the slowdown has been particularly marked, sentiment indicators continue to weaken, and the latest OECD leading indicator has also declined.

The numbers coming out of China are particularly striking. Experts were stunned this week when it was announced that Chinese car sales had plunged 17.7 percent

Car sales in China continued to decline in January after their first full-year slump in more than two decades, adding to pressure on automakers who bet heavily on the market amid waning demand for cars from the U.S. to Europe.

Passenger vehicle wholesales fell 17.7 percent year-on-year, the biggest drop since the market began to contract in the middle of last year, while retail sales had their eighth consecutive monthly decline, industry groups reported Monday.

That is an absolutely disastrous number, and it is a sign that this will be a very, very tough year for the global auto industry.

Meanwhile, German industrial production is falling at a pace that we haven’t seen since the last global recession

“Unexpectedly,” German industrial production fell 3.9% in December 2018 compared to December 2017, after having fallen by a revised 4.0% in November, according to German statistics agency Destatis Thursday morning. These two drops were steepest year-over-year drops since 2009.

Even during the European Debt Crisis in 2011 and 2012 – it hit Germany’s industry hard as many European countries weaved in and out of a recession, with some countries sinking into a depression — German industrial production never fell as fast on a year-over-year basis as in November and December

But as bad as things are in Germany, they are even worse in Italy.

Italy’s economy has already fallen into a recession, and their debt problems continue to grow with each passing day.

Watch Italy, because it is going to be a key to the drama that is currently unfolding in Europe.

Here in the United States, we are still doing relatively better than much of the rest of the world, but our economy is slowing down too. U.S. retail sales just suffered their “biggest drop in more than nine years”, and the stunning bankruptcy and liquidation of Payless ShoeSource has made front page news all over the nation

Payless ShoeSource confirmed Friday that it will close its 2,100 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and start liquidation sales Sunday. The company is also shuttering its e-commerce operations.

The closings mark the biggest by a single chain this year and nearly doubles the number of retail stores set to close in 2019.

So what does all of this mean?

What all of this means is that this is the beginning of the end for the global economic bubble. It is time to start getting serious about the economy again, and it is time to get prepared for the tough years that are ahead.

At this point, even the most clueless pundits in the mainstream media can see what is coming. For example, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is now warning that we are heading for “an unavoidable global recession” either at the end of this year or the beginning of next year

Professor Paul Krugman has warned a series of isolated downward economic trends around the world will spiral into an unavoidable global recession towards the end of 2019 or the beginning of next year. Mr Krugman said there is not “one big thing” prompting the stark forecast but instead blamed a number of incidents happening at the same time. He said a slump in the eurozone combined with the long-running US-China trade war, President Trump’s tax policy and world leaders’ lack of preparedness are increasing the risks of a worldwide economic slowdown.

If even Paul Krugman can see what is happening, then you know that time is short.

Prior to the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, most people never would have imagined that we were about to enter a terrible global economic downturn. Here in the U.S., it seemed like the economy was buzzing along quite nicely, and the vast majority of us had absolutely no idea what was really going on behind the scenes.

Similarly, right now most of us are conducting our lives as if nothing is going to change. To most people, the system seems to be functioning normally and there appears to be no cause for alarm.

Unfortunately, things are not that simple.

Rubber bands can keep stretching for quite a while, but if you put too much pressure on them they will eventually snap. At this point there is an enormous amount of pressure on our global economic bubble, and someday it will “snap” too.

It is just a matter of time.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

“Biggest Drop In More Than Nine Years”: America’s Retail Apocalypse Is Greatly Accelerating In The Early Stages Of 2019

All over America retailers are going bankrupt and closing stores. Of course this has been happening for years, but as you will see below the numbers have dramatically escalated during the early portion of 2019. Our landscape is already littered with countless numbers of hollowed out stores and abandoned malls, and it is about to get a whole lot worse. Retailers were hoping that a strong holiday season would turn things around, but that didn’t happen. In fact, we just learned that retail sales in the United States suffered “their biggest drop in more than nine years” during the month of December…

U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than nine years in December as receipts fell across the board, suggesting a sharp slowdown in economic activity at the end of 2018.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales tumbled 1.2 percent, the largest decline since September 2009 when the economy was emerging from recession.

Every time I write an article like this, a few commenters chime in and blame this entire trend on the rise of online retailing. And without a doubt online retailing has been growing in recent years, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of the entire industry.

If online retail sales were to blame for this latest drop, you would expect to see that reflected in the numbers. But instead, when we look at the numbers what we find is that online retailers experienced “the biggest drop ever” during the month of December…

December online internet sales (non-store retailers) tumbled 3.9% MoM – the biggest drop ever

So brick and mortar retail sales are going down and online retail sales are going down.

It is starting to smell a lot like a recession, and many in the industry are starting to panic.

And when I say panic, I mean that they are closing stores at a pace that is far faster than last year. In fact, so far retail store closings are 23 percent ahead of the pace set last year

Coresight Research released an outlook of 2019 store closures Wednesday, saying there’s “no light at the end of the tunnel.”

According to the global market research firm’s report, six weeks into 2019, U.S. retailers have announced 2,187 closings, up 23 percent compared to last year. Those closings include 749 Gymboree stores, 251 Shopko stores and 94 Charlotte Russe locations.

Unfortunately, the number of store closings is about to double because Payless ShoeSource plans to declare bankruptcy and shut down 2,300 stores

U.S. discount retailer Payless ShoeSource Inc plans to close all of its approximately 2,300 stores when it files for bankruptcy later this month for the second time in as many years, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

And Payless is far from alone. If you can believe it, the number of retail bankruptcies in 2019 is “already at one-third of last year’s total”

Bankruptcies also are continuing at a rapid pace “with the number of filings in the first six weeks of 2019 already at one-third of last year’s total,” the report states.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a retail apocalypse looks like, and we are still in the early chapters.

It is going to take some time for this drama to fully play out. Just look at Sears – it is a money bleeding zombie of a company, but Eddie Lampert has convinced investors to give things one more try. But they are going to zero, and so is JC Penney, and so are a whole host of other major retailers.

In the end, millions upon millions of square feet of retail space is going to be sitting vacant. Some of the more economically depressed areas of the country are going to closely resemble ghost towns, and we are going to see a commercial real estate crisis that is off the charts.

Switching gears, we also just learned that the number of Americans that are at least 90 days behind on their auto loans is already “more than 1 million higher” than it was during the peak of the last recession…

More than 7 million Americans are 90 days or more behind on their vehicle loans as of the end of 2018, according to data released Tuesday by the New York Federal Reserve. That’s more than 1 million higher than the peak in 2010 as the country was recovering from its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

How is that possible?

I thought that the U.S. economy was supposed to be “booming”.

Isn’t that what they have been telling us?

In recent weeks I have repeatedly brought up current economic numbers that are even worse than the last recession, and yet so many people out there continue to insist that everything is just fine.

No, everything is definitely not “just fine”.

Economic activity is slowing down dramatically, and many believe that things are about to get a whole lot worse. In fact, Peter Schiff is warning that what is ahead “is going to be worse than what we now call the Great Recession”…

People are going to realize that we checked into the monetary roach motel that I talked about from the beginning and that there’s no way out, and then the dollar is going to fall like a stone.

When they find out that it’s never over and it didn’t work, then there’s going to be nothing propping up the dollar and it’s going to drop like a stone, the price of gold is going to take off, and the recession that we’re entering into, which is going to be an inflationary recession, is going to be worse than what we now call the Great Recession.

Maybe it’s taken longer than we might have thought to play out, but this is the beginning of the end.”

I wish that I had better news for you today, but I don’t.

The retail apocalypse is accelerating, America’s debt crisis is starting to reach a critical level, and very challenging days are approaching for all of us.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Trade War Causing Severe Pain As Farm Bankruptcies Surge Way Past The Level From The Last Recession

Farmers all across the middle part of the country are going bankrupt at an astounding rate, and over half of all farms in America are now losing money. The trade war with China has been the most devastating crisis to hit the U.S. farming community in decades, and at this point there is no end in sight. Farm after farm is being financially wiped out, and we haven’t seen this kind of economic pain for farmers since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In fact, it is being reported that bankruptcies in the key farming regions of the country are way above the level that we witnessed during the last recession. The following comes from Zero Hedge

Bankruptcies in three regions covering major farm states last year rose to the highest level in at least 10 years. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, had double the bankruptcies in 2018 compared with 2008. In the Eighth Circuit, which includes states from North Dakota to Arkansas, bankruptcies swelled 96%. The 10th Circuit, which covers Kansas and other states, last year had 59% more bankruptcies than a decade earlier.

There has been a lot of debate about whether or not the U.S. economy as a whole is heading into a recession in the near future, but the farming industry is already very, very deep into a major downturn, and this downturn has been caused by the trade war

Trade disputes under the Trump administration with major buyers of U.S. farm goods, such as China and Mexico, have further roiled agricultural markets and pressured farmers’ incomes. Prices for soybeans and hogs plummeted after those countries retaliated against U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs by imposing duties on U.S. products like oilseeds and pork, slashing shipments to big buyers.

Low milk prices are driving dairy farmers out of business in a market that’s also struggling with retaliatory tariffs on U.S. cheese from Mexico and China. Tariffs on U.S. pork have helped contribute to a record buildup in U.S. meat supplies, leading to lower prices for beef and chicken.

In addition, it is also being reported that more than half of all U.S. farms are now losing money even though they continue to operate. Needless to say, this is not sustainable, and many more farms will go out of business if this current crisis persists.

This could be the final nail in the coffin for America’s family farms. After this crisis is over, if it ever actually ends, we may be left with only giant corporate farms and farms owned by foreign interests.

As I noted in my article yesterday, over 27 million acres of U.S. farmland is now owned by foreigners. This should have never been allowed to happen, because it is a major national security risk.

If a trade agreement with China is reached soon, that would greatly ease the suffering of America’s farmers. But as long as the U.S. and Canada continue to hold Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, that is not going to happen. Instead, the Chinese are going to attempt to buy time by trying to get the U.S. to agree to suspend the implementation of additional tariffs as “negotiations” continue.

And on Friday, we got word that a new trade war between the United States and Europe may be about to begin

With little apparent progress in U.S.-China trade talks, the Trump administration could be about to open up a new front in the trade wars by taking on the European auto industry — and that could spook markets.

Global financial markets have bounced back a bit in recent weeks, but more trade chaos could easily send them tumbling once again

Some strategists fear investors are keenly focused on China, and expect a resolution, but could be surprised by ramped-up trade friction with Europe.

“The market would tank,” said Peter Boocvkar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group. “The market has spoken loud and clear that it’s had enough of these tariffs… The market is fed up with this. Global growth is slowing dramatically because of trade. You want to put another bullet in it’s head?

Meanwhile, we continue to get more indications that the global economy is slowing down substantially.

For example, we just learned that German industrial production plummeted dramatically for the second month in a row in December

“Unexpectedly,” German industrial production fell 3.9% in December 2018 compared to December 2017, after having fallen by a revised 4.0% in November, according to German statistics agency Destatis Thursday morning. These two drops were steepest year-over-year drops since 2009.

Even during the European Debt Crisis in 2011 and 2012 – it hit Germany’s industry hard as many European countries weaved in and out of a recession, with some countries sinking into a depression — German industrial production never fell as fast on a year-over-year basis as in November and December

And here in the United States, General Motors has begun giving out pink slips to thousands of workers

General Motors on Monday said it was starting to hand pink slips to about 4,000 salaried workers in the latest round of a restructuring announced in late November that will ultimately shrink its white-collar workforce in North America by 15 percent out of 54,000.

Two people briefed on the cuts said GM is cutting hundreds of jobs at its information technology centers in Texas, Georgia, Arizona and Michigan and more than 1,000 jobs at its Warren, Michigan Tech Center. GM is filing new required mass layoff notices with state agencies and disclosed the cuts to lawmakers.

Needless to say, General Motors would not be doing this if the U.S. economy really was “booming”.

A global economic downturn has arrived, and it looks like it is only going to escalate as we move deeper into 2019.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the nation. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

General Motors And General Electric Were Both Victimized By The Same Ponzi Scheme, And They Are Both Telling Us The U.S. Economy Is In HUGE Trouble

America’s twin economic “generals” are both in very deep trouble. General Electric was founded in 1892, and it was once one of the most powerful corporations on the entire planet. But now it is drowning in so much debt that it may be forced into bankruptcy. General Motors was founded in 1908, and at one time it was the largest automaker that the world had ever seen. But now it is closing a bunch of factories and laying off approximately 14,000 workers as it anticipates disappointing sales and a slowing economy. If the U.S. economy really was “booming”, both of these companies would probably be thriving. But as you will see below, both of them have been victimized by the exact same Ponzi scheme, and both firms are sending us very clear signals that the U.S. economy is heading for troubled waters.

Whenever you hear the word “restructuring”, that is always a sign that things are not going well for a company.

And it turns out that GM’s “restructuring” is actually going to cost the firm 3.8 billion dollars

General Motors said Monday it plans to effectively halt production at a number of plants in the U.S. and Canada next year and cut more than 14,000 jobs in a massive restructuring that will cost up to $3.8 billion.

Of course GM doesn’t have 3.8 billion dollars just lying around, and so they are actually going to have to borrow money in order to close these plants and lay off these workers.

Needless to say, President Trump is not very happy with General Motors right now…

Trump said he spoke Monday with GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, and ‘I told them, “you’re playing around with the wrong person”.’

He told reporters as he left the White House for a pair of political rallies in Mississippi that the United States ‘has done a lot for General Motors. They better get back to Ohio, and soon.’

There is no way that Mary Barra should have ever been made CEO of General Motors, and now the entire world is getting to see why.

In addition to the elimination of about 6,000 factory jobs, GM will also be cutting about 8,000 “white collar jobs”

In addition to the production cuts, GM said it will reduce its North American white-collar workforce by about 8,000. The deadline passed last week on a voluntary buyout for those workers, and GM spokesman Pat Morrissey told the Free Press that only 2,250 employees have asked to take the offer, meaning as many as 5,750 workers could be cut if the company keeps to its announced total. Analysts told the Free Press to expect involuntary cuts in January.

So why is General Motors doing this?

After all, if the U.S. economy really is “booming” that should mean increased sales for all of the major automakers in the coming years, right?

Unfortunately, the truth is that hard times are already here for automakers. In fact, Bob Lutz told CNBC that “we’ve got a demand problem on cars”…

Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the automaker historically would have raised sales incentives to try to sell more cars before resorting to plant closures.

“Nowadays GM looks at the hard reality, says we’ve got a demand problem on cars, what are we going to do about it. We have to shut some facilities and move production to truck plants,” Lutz said on CNBC’s “Halftime Report. ” “So I think what we are seeing is a fast-acting and reality-oriented GM management.”

In other words, sales are not good and so now is the time to shut down factories.

Of course GM is not the only one that is shutting down facilities and laying off workers. If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “U.S. Job Losses Accelerate: Here Are 10 Big Companies That Are Cutting Jobs Or Laying Off Workers”.

But if General Motors had been much wiser with their money, they wouldn’t have had to initiate a “restructuring” so quickly.

Over the past four years, General Motors spent a staggering 13.9 billion dollars on stock buybacks.

GM executives were able to prop up the stock price for a while, but at this point the stock is down about 10 percent from where it was four years ago. The following comes from Wolf Richter

During this four-year period in which GM blew, wasted, and annihilated nearly $14 billion on share buybacks, the price of its shares, including today’s 5.5% surge – getting rid of workers is always good news for shares – fell 10%.

These stock buybacks are a massive Ponzi scheme, and everyone that was involved in blowing such a giant mountain of cash at GM should be fired.

And now thousands of hard working Americans are going to lose their jobs, but it didn’t have to happen.

General Electric has also been victimized by the exact same Ponzi scheme, and at this point they are in a struggle for survival which they are probably going to lose.

On Monday the stock slid another couple of percent, and so far this year it is down a total of 58 percent

Not a day passes lately without GE stock getting hit by some unexpected development, and today was no exception.

GE shares, which are down 58% YTD, dropped over 2% on Monday, after sliding as much as 4.1% earlier in the session and approaching its financial crisis low of $6.66, following a research report by Gordon Haskett analyst John Inch which prompted fresh questions about the treatment of goodwill at GE Capital.

In the end, GE is probably heading for total collapse.

But if GE had not blown 40 billion dollars on stock buybacks in recent years, they would be in far, far better shape. The following comes from the Marketwatch article that I quoted the other day…

GE was one of Wall Street’s major share buyback operators between 2015 and 2017; it repurchased $40 billion of shares at prices between $20 and $32. The share price is now $8.60, so the company has liquidated between $23 billion and $29 billion of its shareholders’ money on this utterly futile activity alone. Since the highest net income recorded by the company during those years was $8.8 billion in 2016, with 2015 and 2017 recording a loss, it has managed to lose more on its share repurchases during those three years than it made in operations, by a substantial margin.

Even more important, GE has now left itself with minus $48 billion in tangible net worth at Sept. 30, with actual genuine tangible debt of close to $100 billion. As the new CEO Larry Culp told CNBC last Monday: “We have no higher priority right now than bringing those leverage levels down.”

Combined, General Electric and General Motors have blown more than 53 billion dollars on stock buybacks, and now both companies are in huge trouble.

The executives that gutted the finances of both firms by engaging in these sorts of Ponzi tactics should all be fired and should never be hired by anyone else in the corporate world.

For years, big corporations have been borrowing massive amounts of money to fund reckless stock buybacks, and that has helped to fuel an amazing bull market run.

But now the game is imploding, and the unraveling of this massive Ponzi scheme is not going to be pretty.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

You Can Kick The Can Down The Road, But Reality Will Catch Up With You Eventually

Nobody can defy the laws of economics forever. Whether it is an individual, a company or the nation as a whole, reality always catches up with everyone eventually. For years, I have been warning that Sears was eventually going to zero, but of course it didn’t happen immediately. Sears CEO Eddie Lampert kept convincing investors to pour more money into his beleaguered money pit, and so the can kept getting kicked down the road. It takes a great con man to be able to pull off what Eddie Lampert was able to pull off, and we should all be in awe at the level of skill that he has displayed. But all good cons eventually come to an end, and now the retailer that was once the largest in world history is coming to an end. According to multiple media reports, a Sears bankruptcy filing is imminent. For a while there it looked like it would be a Chapter 7 filing which would mean immediate liquidation for Sears. But it appears that Lampert will be able secure enough funding to give Sears a little bit of breathing space. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing will allow most of the stores to stay open through the holidays and will give Sears more time to sell off more assets.

I can’t even imagine who would be dumb enough to hand Lampert more money at this point, and this is yet another example that shows that the old saying “a sucker is born every minute” is definitely true.

And we are not talking about a small amount of money. According to USA Today, Sears is going to need between 300 and 500 million dollars just to keep operating through the holidays…

It is trying to secure $300 million to $500 million to continue functioning through the holidays, keeping a winnowed number of locations open, says the person familiar with what is being considered. As of an Aug. 4 public filing, Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears and Kmart, still had 506 Sears stores and 360 Kmart locations.

If the bankruptcy filing occurs, it is likely the beginning of what has been the long, drawn-out ending to one of the most renowned sagas in retail.

Lampert is going to be burning up the phones all weekend, because Sears needs cash immediately for a 134 million dollar debt payment that is due on Monday

Now, Sears is facing a critical Monday deadline to make a $134 million debt payment. Reports this week by the Wall Street Journal and CNBC said Sears had begun consulting with advisers to prepare a possible bankruptcy filing.

Just like our current stock market bubble, it is absolutely amazing that Sears has survived for as long as it has.

The truth is that Sears should have been put out of its misery long ago, but the can just kept getting kicked down the road. But now the cash is gone and the debts have become overwhelming.

At this point, Sears has been missing payments to important vendors and has been making preparations for the upcoming bankruptcy filing for weeks

Three companies that sell items at Sears told Reuters this week that Sears had missed payments to them over the past few weeks. One of Sears’ major shareholders recently dumped a chunk of his stock for pennies on his original investment. The company added a new director this week who is familiar with bankruptcies and restructuring.

And reports are swirling that the company is talking to advisers and banks in preparation for a bankruptcy filing. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sears has hired M-III Partners, a boutique advisory firm specializing in seeing companies through bankruptcies and restructuring, The company is also talking to lenders about providing it with debtor-in-possession financing, CNBC reported. That kind of loan is used by companies that file for bankruptcy to fund operations during the process. Usually, funding is secured well before the final days.

Many of the company’s lenders had been pushing for an immediate Chapter 7 liquidation. They wanted the bleeding to stop so that they could recover what they could while there was still something to grab.

But Eddie Lampert seems determined to stretch this thing out for as long as possible, and so it appears that a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing will happen instead.

It is easy to mock Sears, but the truth that America as a whole is on the exact same trajectory.

In my article that lists 101 reasons why the Federal Reserve should be shut down, I explain the absolute insanity of our current debt-based financial system. Our system is literally designed to create as much debt as possible, and that is precisely what has been happening since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913.

If you add up all forms of debt in the United States (government, business, consumer, etc.), it comes to a grand total of more than 68 trillion dollars. Other than hyper-inflating our currency into oblivion, there is no possible way that all of that debt will ever be repaid. Under our current system, the only viable choice is to “extend and pretend”, and that is what we have been doing for decades.

But just like with Sears, economic reality is catching up with us, and time is rapidly running out for America.

From time to time, I get accused of being “too negative”, but the truth is that myself and others like me have been pleading with the American people to consider alternative solutions for many years. In my latest book, I strongly advocate for the elimination of the Federal Reserve system and the establishment of a new financial system and a new currency that are not based on exponential debt growth. In addition to writing thousands of articles, I have traveled and spoken to groups about these issues extensively, and I have done countless radio and television interviews.

But voices like mine have not been embraced on a widespread basis, and instead the American people seem to want the status quo.

So the can will keep getting kicked down the road until everything collapses.

Ultimately, what we are facing is the greatest economic depression that the United States has ever seen. I really like how Charles Hugh Smith made this point as he wrapped up his most recent article

Everywhere we look in the U.S. economy, we see sky-high fixed costs. Investors who overpaid for commercial real estate will default once their business tenants close down, homeowners who overpaid will default once one of the household’s primary jobholders loses his/her job, state and local governments that have feasted on a decade of rising tax revenues will suddenly face staggering deficits as tax revenues crater–the list of those with high fixed costs and no wiggle room other than bankruptcy is essentially endless in America.

Here’s the difference between a recession and a depression: you can’t get blood from a stone, or make an insolvent entity solvent with more debt. Losses will have to taken, and nose-bleed fixed-costs will have to be slashed; reality will eventually have to be dealt with.

But everyone will resist this process because high fixed costs are the gravy train everyone depends on. Slashing fixed costs destroys the income needed to support asset valuations which are the collateral for the stupendous mountains of debt that define the U.S. economy. Once that debt is written down, the entire financial system collapses.

It didn’t have to be this way.

America could have chosen another path, but it didn’t.

So now we are steamrolling toward a date with destiny, and the people of this country will soon receive a very harsh lesson about economic reality.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots. It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically. The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

Middle Class Erosion: 33 Million Americans Will Not Travel During The Holidays Because They Can’t Afford To Do So

We have repeatedly been told that the U.S. economy is “booming”, but meanwhile the middle class in the United States continues to be hollowed out. The financial bubbles that the Federal Reserve has created have been a great blessing for those at the very top of the economic pyramid, but most of the country is still deeply struggling. According to one survey, 78 percent of all full-time workers in the U.S. live paycheck to paycheck, and that doesn’t even include part-time workers or those that are unemployed. We have also been told that unemployment is “low”, but the real numbers tell us that there are more working age Americans without a job in 2018 than there was at any point during the last recession. Most of the people that my wife and I know are struggling, and I continually get emails from readers all over the country that are struggling. The sad truth is that the middle class is slowly but surely dying, and more people are falling into poverty with each passing day.

And we got more evidence of this fact on Tuesday. According to one new survey, 33 million Americans will not travel during the holiday season because they simply cannot afford to do so…

Wallet Hub’s Winter Travel Survey has revealed a disturbing trend: 33 million Americans won’t travel this winter because they can’t afford it.

I have been warning about the effect that rising interest rates would have on the economy, and rising rates are being blamed for this travel slowdown. The following comes from MSN

However, Americans are still feeling the pinch of the pocketbook—part of that has to do with rising interest rates.

“U.S. consumers will be shelling out billions of dollars in extra charges they otherwise could be spending on other things such as travel,” said Mark A. Bonn, director of the resort and vacation rental management program at Florida State University. “This makes it difficult to travel now, let alone after the holiday spending has ended.”

But of course the truth is that most Americans were deeply struggling long before interest rates started to rise.

Those of us in our prime working years can try to work even harder to make ends meet, but when you are elderly and on a fixed income, there is little that can be done.

According to the Sacramento Bee, 9 million elderly Americans across the country “can’t afford to eat”, and in one of their recent articles they featured the plight of 71-year-old Floridian Janet Burke…

Burke is one of the nearly 9 million elderly people at risk of hunger in the United States. In Florida, with the highest percentage of people 60 and older, more than 750,000 elderly need food assistance, according to experts.

The problems confronting the elderly have become one of the hot topics for candidates this election year. Candidates in South Florida have pointed to the needs of the elderly as one of the key concerns voiced by voters.

More than 100 million Americans receive assistance from the government each month, but many citizens do not believe in receiving any help and so they just quietly suffer as they search for a way to make things better.

Today, I would like to share with you a testimony from someone that has been there. My good friend Daisy Luther knows what it is like to barely survive from month to month, and the way that she described those struggles in one of her most recent articles was extremely poignant

Let’s talk about poverty.

I don’t mean the kind you’re talking about when your friends invite you to go shopping or for a night out and you say, “No, I can’t. I’m poor right now.”

I don’t mean the situation when you’d like to get a nicer car but decide you should just stick to the one you have because you don’t have a few thousand for a down payment.

I don’t mean the scene at the grocery store when you decide to get ground beef instead of steak.

I’m talking about when you have already done the weird mismatched meals from your pantry that are made up of cooked rice, stale crackers, and a can of peaches, and you’ve moved on to wondering what on earth you’re going to feed your kids.

Or when you get an eviction notice for non-payment of rent, a shut-off notice for your utilities, and a repo notice for your car and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about any of those notices because there IS NO MONEY.

If you’ve never been this level of broke, I’m very glad.

I have been this broke. I know that it is soul-destroying when no matter how hard you work, how many part-time jobs you squeeze in, and how much you cut, you simply don’t make enough money to survive in the world today.

If the U.S. economy really is “booming”, then why are millions upon millions of American families struggling like this?

Sadly, it is because the truth is that the U.S. economy is not “booming”, and we continue to get more indications that another major economic downturn is imminent.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Blueprints have been proposed that would mean much better days ahead for America, but most Americans seem quite content with the status quo.

Most Americans seem to want corrupt politicians in Washington, a Federal Reserve system that is bankrupting future generations, an exploding national debt, a deeply oppressive system of taxation and a bloated national government that is becoming more monstrous with each passing day.

In this day and age, “liberty” and “freedom” are seen as antiquated concepts that are standing in the way of “progress”, and more government always seems to be the “solution” that is proposed whenever any crisis arises.

If we truly want to turn America around, we need to return to the values and the principles that once made this nation so great, and right now that simply is not happening…

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots. It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically. The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

The Retail Apocalypse Picks Up Speed As Sears, JCPenney, Brookstone And Mattress Firm Spiral Toward Bankruptcy

Over 20 major retailers have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of last year, and in 2018 we may break the all-time record for annual store closings that was established just last year. We are in the midst of the worst retail apocalypse in American history, and it appears to be picking up speed as retail giants such as Sears, JCPenney, Brookstone and Mattress Firm spiral toward bankruptcy. We live at a time when the middle class is being systematically destroyed, and so the truth is that U.S. consumers simply do not have as much discretionary income as they once did. Many large retailers believed that things would eventually turn around, and they have been fighting very hard to survive, but now time has run out for quite a few of them.

Mattress Firm

Everyone knew that Mattress Firm was in deep trouble, but it still surprised many of us when it was announced that they are officially planning to file for bankruptcy. The following comes from Reuters

Mattress Firm Inc, the largest U.S. mattress retailer, is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, as it seeks to exit costly store leases and shore up its business, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

At this moment Mattress Firm has approximately 3,000 brick-and-mortar locations, and as those stores close down those abandoned buildings are going to be giant eyesores on street corners all over America.

Brookstone

When I was a kid back in the 1980s, it seemed like Brookstone had an outlet in every mall I visited. But now Brookstone has filed for bankruptcy, and all remaining mall stores will be shut down

Brookstone filed for bankruptcy and will close its remaining 101 mall stores.

The mall and airport seller, best known for massage chairs, quirky gadgets, and travel luggage, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court on Thursday. It was Brookstone’s second bankruptcy round in four years.

Sears

Sears has been shutting down stores for years, but up until now they have never admitted that bankruptcy was on the horizon.

But now time has run out and emergency measures are required if Sears is to survive. The following comes from CNN

Sears is running out of time to fix its problems, the CEO says.

Eddie Lampert, who controls most of the company’s shares through his hedge fund, told the board on Monday that it must address “significant near-term constraints” in its cash position.

Of course Sears is still not actually using the term “bankruptcy”, but even CNN is admitting that Eddie Lampert used “language that suggested the company could be forced out of business”

Lampert did not use the word “bankruptcy,” but he raised the possibility that creditors could be wiped out, a process that often takes place in bankruptcy court, without immediate action.

He also said it was in the best interest of stakeholders to “accomplish this as a going concern” — language that suggested the company could be forced out of business.

Those that have been following my work for a long time know that I have repeatedly stated that Sears is going to zero.

Now we appear to be on the precipice of that actually happening, and it is a very sad day for America indeed.

JCPenney

Speaking of retailers that are going to zero, JCPenney is absolutely drowning in debt and has a very dismal prognosis for the future

Leaderless, $4 billion in debt and with a stock price below $2, the besieged retailer faces an uncertain fate after posting its latest round of dismal earnings.

“They’re in a leaky boat that eventually will sink,” said Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies at the Columbia Business School and a former CEO of Sears Canada and other department stores. “The prognosis for the future is not happiness.”

In the end, JCPenney is not going to survive, and so America will have to shop elsewhere for substandard clothing at inflated prices.

Bed Bath & Beyond

Nobody is suggesting that bankruptcy is imminent for Bed Bath & Beyond, but if they continue to have disastrous sales results it won’t be too long before they are on the chopping block too…

The struggling retailer said Wednesday that it was bringing on two top management consulting firms to help it cut costs and improve its merchandise. CEO Steven Temares did not name the firms.

The housewares retailer needs help. Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond plunged nearly 25% Thursday to their lowest level since March 2000 because of awful sales during the previous quarter.

We are moving into the most critical time of the year for retailers. Most troubled chains will hang on through the next three months, but once we get to January and February we will see many of them give up the fight for good.

Meanwhile, some of the retailers that are still doing okay are warning that our trade war with China will likely mean much higher prices for consumers

Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. are among the large retailers and food companies that have sent a letter to U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer warning that proposed tariffs on $200 billion on Chinese goods would hurt consumers and American businesses.

Walmart’s letter, dated Sept. 6, focuses on what it says will be the repercussions of the tariffs, which would apply to goods like food and beverages, personal care products like shampoo, detergents, motor vehicles and paper goods like napkins.

Of course U.S. consumers cannot exactly afford higher prices at this point. U.S. consumers have been spending more than they are earning month after month, and they are making up the difference by going into ever-increasing amounts of debt.

This is not what a healthy economy looks like.

If we had a healthy economy, the middle class would be growing and retailers would be thriving.

But instead, the vacancy rate at U.S. shopping malls just hit the highest level in six years

The vacancy rate at metro and regional malls around the United States hit 8.6% last quarter, the highest since the end of 2012, according to data released Monday by real estate research firm Reis (REIS).

Back then, the economy was still working its way out of a recession and an excess of malls had been built in the preceding decades. Retail vacancies peaked at 9.4% during the middle of 2011.

Things are not getting better for the U.S. economy. We continue to see numbers that we have not seen since the last recession, and it appears that things will continue to deteriorate as we head into 2019.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots. It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically. The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

The American Dream Is Getting Smaller, And The Reason Why Is Painfully Obvious…

Over the past decade, an unprecedented stock market boom has created thousands upon thousands of new millionaires, and yet the middle class in America has continued to shrink. How is that even possible? At one time the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the planet, but now the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s. Our economy has been creating lots of new millionaires, but at the exact same time we have seen homelessness spiral out of control in our major cities. Today, being part of the middle class is like playing a really bizarre game of musical chairs. Each month when the music stops playing, those of us still in the middle class desperately hope that we are not among the ones that slip out of the middle class and into poverty. Well over 100 million Americans receive money or benefits from the federal government each month, and that includes approximately 40 percent of all families with children. We are losing our ability to take care of ourselves, and that has frightening implications for the future of our society.

One of the primary reasons why our system doesn’t work for everyone is because virtually everything has been financialized. In other words, from the cradle to the grave the entire system has been designed to get you into debt so that the fruits of your labor can be funneled to the top of the pyramid and make somebody else wealthier. The following comes from an excellent Marketwatch article entitled “The American Dream is getting smaller”

More worrying, perhaps: 33% of those surveyed said they think that dream is disappearing. Why? They have too much debt. “Americans believe financial security is at the core of the American Dream, but it is alarming that so many think it is beyond their reach,” said Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S.

Almost everyone that will read this article will have debt. In America today, we are trained to go into debt for just about everything.

If you want a college education, you go into debt.

If you want a vehicle, you go into debt.

If you want a home, you go into debt.

If you want that nice new pair of shoes, you don’t have to wait for it. Just go into more debt.

As a result, most Americans are currently up to their necks in red ink

Some 64% of those surveyed said they have a mortgage, 56% said they had credit-card debt and 26% said they have student-loan debt. Many surveyed said they don’t feel financially secure. More than a quarter said they wish they had better control of their finances.

You would have thought that we would have learned from the very hard lessons that the crisis of 2008 taught us.

But instead, we have been on the greatest debt binge in American history in recent years. Here is more from the Marketwatch article

It makes sense that debt is on Americans’ minds. Collectively, Americans have more than $1 trillion in credit-card debt, according to the Federal Reserve. They have another $1.5 trillion in student loans, up from $1.1 trillion in 2013. Motor vehicle loans are now topping $1.1 trillion, up from $878.5 billion in 2013. And they have another nearly $15 trillion in mortgage debt outstanding.

That is one huge pile of debt.

We criticize the federal government for running up 21 trillion dollars in debt, and rightly so, but American consumers have been almost as irresponsible on an individual basis.

As long as you are drowning in debt, you will never become wealthy. In order to build wealth, you have got to spend less than you earn, but most Americans never learn basic fundamentals such as this in our rapidly failing system of public education.

Many Americans long to become financially independent, but they don’t understand that our system is rigged against them. The entire game is all about keeping consumers on that debt wheel endlessly chasing that piece of proverbial cheese until it is too late.

Getting out of debt is one of the biggest steps that you can take to give yourself more freedom, and hopefully this article will inspire many to do just that.

To end this article today, I would like to share 14 facts about how the middle class in America is shrinking that I shared in a previous article

#1 78 million Americans are participating in the “gig economy” because full-time jobs just don’t pay enough to make ends meet these days.

#2 In 2011, the average home price was 3.56 times the average yearly salary in the United States. But by the time 2017 was finished, the average home price was 4.73 times the average yearly salary in the United States.

#3 In 1980, the average American worker’s debt was 1.96 times larger than his or her monthly salary. Today, that number has ballooned to 5.00.

#4 In the United States today, 66 percent of all jobs pay less than 20 dollars an hour.

#5 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now. That number is higher than it was at any point during the last recession.

#6 Earnings for low-skill jobs have stayed very flat for the last 40 years.

#7 Americans have been spending more money than they make for 28 months in a row.

#8 In the United States today, the average young adult with student loan debt has a negative net worth.

#9 At this point, the average American household is nearly $140,000 in debt.

#10 Poverty rates in U.S. suburbs “have increased by 50 percent since 1990”.

#11 Almost 51 million U.S. households “can’t afford basics like rent and food”.

#12 The bottom 40 percent of all U.S. households bring home just 11.4 percent of all income.

#13 According to the Federal Reserve, 4 out of 10 Americans do not have enough money to cover an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing the money or selling something they own.

#14 22 percent of all Americans cannot pay all of their bills in a typical month.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog. About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

11 Rage-Inducing Facts About America’s Wildly Out Of Control Student Loan Debt Bubble

Higher education has become one of the biggest money-making scams in America. We tell all of our young people that if they want to have a bright future, they must go to college. This message is relentlessly pounded into their heads for their first 18 years, and so by the time high school graduation rolls around for many of them it would be unthinkable to do anything else. And instead of doing a cost/benefit analysis on various schools, we tell our young people to go to the best college that they can possibly get into and to not worry about what it will cost. We assure them that a great job will be there after they graduate and that great job will allow them to easily pay off any student loans that they have accumulated. Of course most college graduates don’t end up getting great jobs, but many of them do end up being financially crippled for decades by student loan debt.

In all of American history, we have never seen anything quite like this student loan debt bubble. Since 2007, the total amount of student loan debt in America has nearly tripled.

Let me repeat that again.

Since 2007, the total amount of student loan debt in America has nearly tripled.

But of course the quality of college education has not tripled over that time. Instead, it has progressively gotten worse. At this point most college courses have been so “dumbed down” that the family pet could pass them. If you would like to look into this more, you can find a list of 37 of the most idiotic college courses in America right here.

These days, most college courses do not require any actual writing. Instead, your performance is judged by a series of “tests” consisting of multiple choice, fill in the blank, and true/false questions. And the questions are usually ridiculously easy, because most of our high school graduates need to take remedial courses in basic skills when they get to college.

I spent eight years at public universities, and the quality of education that I received was a joke, and that was many years ago. Now the quality of education has deteriorated so dramatically that most college degrees are essentially worthless from a practical standpoint, but for many professions you still need that “piece of paper” in order to “qualify” for certain jobs.

So the scam continues, and thousands upon thousands of “administrators”, “diversity specialists”, “career counselors” and “college presidents” are taking home massively bloated salaries at our expense. Beautiful new lecture halls, residential complexes and sports stadiums are going up at colleges and universities all over the country, and textbook publishers are laughing all the way to the bank.

If everything but the basics was stripped away, the cost of actually delivering a college education to students would be quite low. In fact, most learning could be done over the Internet.

But instead, the “college education industry” has convinced all of us that we desperately need their services, and that we shouldn’t care about the price.

Of course many of our young people are filled with regret once they get out into the real world and they realize that student loan debt is going to financially cripple them for the rest of their lives.

At this moment, America is drowning in more student loan debt than ever before. The following are 11 rage-inducing facts about America’s wildly out of control student loan debt bubble…

#1 The student loan debt bubble has now grown to 1.4 trillion dollars.

#2 In 2007, the total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. was just 545 billion dollars.

#3 Over the previous ten years, student loan debt has grown by a staggering 176 percent.

#4 Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.

#5 In 2003, student loan debt accounted for just 3.3 percent of all household debt. Today, that number has grown to 10.5 percent.

#6 The current student loan 90-day delinquency rate is 11.2 percent.

#7 30 percent of all student loans in the United States are either in “deferment” or “forbearance”. The most common reason a loan is placed into one of those categories is because the borrower cannot pay.

#8 It is being projected that a whopping 40 percent all student loan borrowers will default on their loans by 2023.

#9 From 2007 through 2017, “college tuition costs jumped 63 percent, school housing surged 51 percent and the price of textbooks by 88 percent.”

#10 In 2001, 18.6 percent of all U.S. households led by someone in the 18 to 34 age bracket were carrying household debt. Today, that number has jumped to 44.8 percent.

#11 Each year, more than a million Americans default on their student loans.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog. About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Mattel is laying off more than 2,200 workers after Toys ‘R’ Us went bankrupt

(CNN) After a disastrous spring, Mattel said it would cut nearly a quarter of its staff and sell some of its factories.

Mattel blamed the Toys “R” Us bankruptcy for the bulk of its problems. When the toy store mega-chain stopped buying new toys, Mattel lost its most important conduit to customers.

Wild And Unprecedented Price Fluctuations Are Causing Financial Chaos For U.S. Businesses

In every war there is a high price to pay, and this trade war will not be any different. The normal flow of goods and services around the globe is being severely disrupted, and even though this trade war has barely just begun, it is already having an enormous impact on the U.S. economy. Even if we ultimately win this trade war and the Trump administration is able to achieve all of the goals that it is targeting, there will still be a great cost in the short-term. We are going to see businesses fail, we are going to see workers get laid off, and global economic activity will inevitably contract. Heck, at this point even Fox News is calling this trade war “economic suicide”. We live at a time when a delicately balanced formula of economic factors allows us to live a debt-fueled standard of living that is far beyond what we actually deserve. Now we are messing with that formula, and the consequences are likely to be far more severe than most Americans are anticipating.

Let’s start by talking about steel and aluminum. One of the chief goals of the tariffs was to help the steel and aluminum industries, and thanks to those tariffs we have seen the price of U.S. steel rise 36 percent since the beginning of 2018…

For instance, US steel and aluminum prices have soared since the imposition of tariffs. US midwest hot-rolled coil steel price, the US steel price benchmark, soared 36% between the start of the year and the start of July. This in turn causes prices of goods made with the metal to rise.

That is good news for the U.S. economy, right?

Actually, it isn’t.

Every product that uses steel and aluminum is now going to cost more.

In many cases, a lot more.

For instance, one grill company is reporting that they have had to raise prices “by almost $350 per grill”

Middleby Residential, a California-based company that makes Lynx grills, told the Dallas Morning News that even though the company uses US steel, the recent price pressures have driven up costs by almost $350 per grill.

Do you want to pay an extra $350 for your next grill?

Retail prices for washer and dryers are surging as well. They have increased by 20 percent compared to a year ago, and that is because prices for raw materials are skyrocketing

Whirlpool Corp trimmed its full-year profit outlook as it booked a large charge on its European operations and said it wouldn’t be able to offset the effect of steel tariffs with higher prices for consumers.

The company said Monday it now expects to pay about $350 million more this year from rising raw-material costs as it faces “a very challenging cost environment.”

Anybody that purchases any products that contain steel and/or aluminum will be feeling these prices increases.

And any business that uses steel and/or aluminum on a regular basis is going to be feeling an enormous amount of pain. For example, the largest nail company in America is already laying off workers

When President Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports last month, America’s largest nail manufacturer had little choice but to raise its prices. Mid Continent Nail Corporation quickly lost 50 percent of its orders as customers opted for cheaper suppliers. Within weeks, the firm had to lay off 60 workers. Up to 200 more might lose their jobs by the end of this month.

All over the country, companies are going to be forced to either raise prices, fire workers or move production facilities out of the United States.

Meanwhile, farmers all over America are facing a different problem. Thanks to a massive decline in demand from China (thanks to tariffs that they have hit us with), prices are plummeting and warehouses are filling up with food that doesn’t have anywhere to go.

Every year, the U.S. usually imports about 14 billion dollars worth of soybeans to China, and I covered the plight of soybean farmers in a previous article. But of course soybean farmers are far from alone. It is being reported that more than 2.5 billion pounds of meat and poultry products that have been produced by our farmers is being stockpiled in cold-storage warehouses. To help the agricultural community, President Trump announced 12 billion dollars in aid to farmers on Tuesday

As President Donald Trump embarks on a multistate tour through parts of the country hit heavily by trade battles, his administration said Tuesday it will direct $12 billion to farmers whose harvests have been hurt by tariffs.

But the idea faced immediate criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Responding to farm groups and the Republican discontent, administration officials said they have been working since April on a short-term plan to shore up slipping prices for soybeans, pork and other crops hit with retaliatory tariffs from China.

Sure, this will help farmers get through the trade war in the short-term, but isn’t this exactly the kind of big government socialism that we are always railing against?

And who is going to bail out the real estate industry?

CNBC is reporting that home sales fell a whopping 11.8 percent year over year in southern California last month…

Southern California home sales hit the brakes in June, falling to the lowest reading for the month in four years. Sales of both new and existing houses and condominiums dropped 11.8 percent year over year, as prices shot up to a record high, according to CoreLogic. The report covers Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties.

And do you know who has been fueling the extremely hot real estate market on the west coast?

The Chinese.

At one time they were buying up everything in sight, but now they have become net sellers of U.S. real estate.

And there are rumblings that we could soon see some sort of “national boycott” of American goods in China. The following comes from Zero Hedge

The survey found that 54 percent of 2,000 respondents in 300 cities across China would “probably” or “definitely” stop buying US-branded goods “in the event of a trade war”. Just 13 percent said they would not.

The remaining 33 percent said they were unsure or did not at present buy US branded goods, according to the survey, conducted for FT Confidential Research (FTCR), a research unit at the Financial Times.

The survey was carried out between June 27 and July 10, mostly before the US imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34bn of Chinese goods on July 6. The move elicited an immediate tit-for-tat response from Beijing.

Of course something similar could be tried in the United States, but most Americans simply do not care if a product comes from China or not. They are simply going to buy the cheapest stuff no matter what anyone tells them to do.

Look, I very much understand that we have been sending businesses and jobs overseas for a very long time. I have been writing about this for years, and something had to be done.

But trying to fight trade wars with virtually everyone else on the planet simultaneously is madness, and the consequences for the U.S. economy are going to cause all of us an immense amount of pain.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Trade War Is Already Having A Huge Impact On The U.S. Economy

The trade war has barely just begun, and yet significant ripple effects are already being felt all across the U.S. economy. Once thriving businesses are on the verge of failure, workers are being laid off, and some sectors of the economy are witnessing enormous price hikes. Right now the mainstream media is absolutely fixated on the drama surrounding the recently concluded Trump-Putin summit meeting, but the consequences of this trade war will ultimately be far more important for the lives of most ordinary Americans. As more tariffs continue to be implemented, this will perhaps be the biggest disruption to the global economic system that we have seen in decades. Perhaps you have not been affected personally yet, but for many Americans this trade war has changed everything. For example, just consider the plight of soybean farmer Tim Bardole

The U.S. is China’s second-biggest source of soybeans at 34% of the imports, after Brazil, which ships 53%. The staple is used to make cooking oil and seasoning, and soybean meal is found in pig feed.

Now the tariffs have taken the bottom out of U.S. soybean prices, delivering a gut punch to farmers like Tim Bardole. He was already $100,000 in the red last year due to a yearslong slump in cereal prices, and the current predicament has driven him into a corner.

“I’m not sure if I can get a loan from the bank to finance our next year’s crop,” said Bardole.

If this trade war had not happened, perhaps Bardole would have been able to eventually get out of debt. But now he is facing financial ruin and the potential loss of his entire farm.

Switching gears, U.S. consumers will soon discover that common electronics such as phones and computers cost a lot more. The following comes from CBS News

Buyers in the U.S. will soon see price hikes on computers, phones, thermostats and “everyday items,” according to the Information Technology Industry Council, a group that represents tech companies.

Hundreds of Chinese components that the Trump administration penalized are used to make everything from LEDs to sensors to printer and scanner components. When manufacturers pay more for their parts, the costs are typically passed on to consumers, the ITI said.

Are you ready to pay 50 dollars for your next phone to support this trade war?

Maybe.

50 dollars is ultimately not that big of a deal.

But what about paying $9,000 more for your next house?

Tariffs on lumber coming from the evil Canadians are adding about $9,000 to the cost of a new house, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Washing machine prices have jumped some 15% this year, the fastest increase ever recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Are you starting to understand why starting trade wars with all of our major trading partners simultaneously was a really bad idea?

We are about to see major price hikes in just about every sector of the economy. According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the average American could pay over $5,000 more for their next vehicle

Consumers may see an average price increase of $5,800 if a 25 percent import tariff that Mr. Trump has threatened goes into effect, according to estimates cited by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), a lobbying group for carmakers.

That’s a “$45 billion tax on consumers,” the group said, citing an analysis of Commerce Department data.

U.S. consumers are already stretched to the max, and they will not be able to easily absorb these price increases.

Meanwhile, farm incomes all across the interior of the country are going to be absolutely devastated by this trade war. Just check out these numbers

The American Farm Bureau says it expects farm incomes to drop to a 12-year low this year, largely because of the trade war.

An agricultural economist at Purdue University, Christopher Hurt, added that 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans would have made a farmer a $42,000 profit on June 1. Now, it could net him a $126,000 loss.

And as I mentioned above, many businesses all over the United States that rely heavily on exports are already struggling so mightily that they have to lay off workers. The following comes from USA Today

In Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Mid-Continent Nail, the nation’s largest nail maker, laid off 60 workers last month. Sales plunged 70 percent after Trump placed a 25 percent tariff on steel from Mexico and Canada. When the company boosted its prices, customers defected. Now, Mid-Continent is strongly considering a second round of 200 layoffs, company spokeswoman Elizabeth Heaton says, and all 500 employees could be axed by Labor Day.

Yes, we desperately needed to do something about China and other trade partners that were taking advantage of us. But there is a right way to handle things and a wrong way to handle things, and starting a trade war with everyone at the same time is a really, really bad idea.

I think that a recent piece by Thomas Grennes, a professor of economics at North Carolina State University, made this point quite well

The Trump administration has said that tariffs are a negotiating technique that need not be implemented. Now that tariffs are in place, they say other countries will soon back down. However, trading partners have not backed down, and, in fact, retaliatory tariffs against U.S. exports are already in place. Foreign officials have expressed confusion about exactly what concessions the US government wants. Currently, no formal negotiations are taking place. Higher future tariffs are being announced regularly. There are no signs of an end to this tariff war. When will both sides recognize that interfering with voluntary trade is harmful to both parties? Trade wars are lose-lose propositions.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that most Americans have any idea how exceedingly painful this trade war could potentially become.

The longer it lasts, the worse things will get, and ultimately it could tip the U.S. economy into the worst recession that any of us have ever experienced.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Would This Have Happened Under President Hillary? Holiday Retail Sales Soar Compare To Last Year

We are nearly a year into Donald Trump’s presidency, and the economic numbers continue to look quite good. On Monday, we learned that U.S. retail sales during the holiday season are projected to be way up compared to 2016. Yes, there are all sorts of economic red flags popping up all over the place, and I write about them regularly. And without a doubt, 2017 has been one of the worst years for brick and mortar retail stores in a very long time. But when something good happens we should acknowledge that too, and many are giving President Trump credit for the fact that retail sales are projected to be up 4.9 percent this holiday season compared to last year…

Despite thousands of store closings this year, Americans supplied a final flurry of spending to give retailers their best holiday season sales since 2011, figures released Tuesday show.

U.S. year-end holiday retail sales rose 4.9% compared to the same period last year, a welcome gift to U.S. retailers amid new signs of consumer confidence.

Of course this doesn’t mean that things have completely turned around for the retail industry. We still absolutely shattered the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and the final number is going to be somewhere right around 7,000. The following comes from CNBC

A larger-than-average slew of retail bankruptcies and stores being shuttered rocked the industry this year, making headlines and dragging even some of the better-performing companies such as Home Depot, TJ Maxx and Costco down with the dismal news.

So far in 2017, 6,985 store closure announcements have been made, according to a tracker from FGRT (formerly Fung Global Retail & Technology). That’s up more than 200 percent from a year ago, based on the firm’s findings.

More specifically, the number of store closings is up 229 percent compared to last year.

So yes, we are still very much in the midst of a “retail apocalypse”.

And actually, earlier this month we got news that Toys R US has filed for bankruptcy protection and could soon close as many as 200 stores

It’s hardly fun and games for the toy industry this holiday season with the bankruptcy of Toys ‘R’ Us hurting the fortunes of toymakers Mattel (MAT) and Hasbro (HAS). The sector’s prospects aren’t expected to improve anytime soon.

Toys ‘R’ Us, which filed for bankruptcy in September, is now said to be considering closing as many as 200 U.S. stores, roughly 21 percent of its brick-and-mortar locations, because of lackluster sales.

The fact that retail sales are up so much during this holiday season may slow the retail apocalypse, but it certainly will not end it.

We have got so much work to do to turn the economy around, but at least we have taken a few small steps in the right direction. The recent tax bill that Congress passed was one of those small steps, but there is still so, so much more that needs to be accomplished.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

We Have Tripled The Number Of Store Closings From Last Year, And 20 Major Retailers Have Closed At Least 50 Stores In 2017

Did you know that the number of retail store closings in 2017 has already tripled the number from all of 2016? Last year, a total of 2,056 store locations were closed down, but this year more than 6,700 stores have been shut down so far. That absolutely shatters the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and yet nobody seems that concerned about it. In 2008, an all-time record 6,163 retail stores were shuttered, and we have already surpassed that mark by a very wide margin. We are facing an unprecedented retail apocalypse, and as you will see below, the number of retail store closings is actually supposed to be much higher next year.

Whenever the mainstream media reports on the retail apocalypse, they always try to put a positive spin on the story by blaming the growth of Amazon and other online retailers. And without a doubt that has had an impact, but at this point online shopping still accounts for less than 10 percent of total U.S. retail sales.

Look, Amazon didn’t just show up to the party. They have been around for many, many years and while it is true that they are growing, they still only account for a very small sliver of the overall retail pie.

So those that would like to explain away this retail apocalypse need to come up with a better explanation.

As I noted in the headline, there are 20 different major retail chains that have closed at least 50 stores so far this year. The following numbers originally come from Fox Business

1. Abercrombie & Fitch: 60 stores
2. Aerosoles: 88 stores
3. American Apparel: 110 stores
4. BCBG: 118 stores
5. Bebe: 168 stores
6. The Children’s Place: hundreds of stores to be closed by 2020
7. CVS: 70 stores
8. Guess: 60 stores
9. Gymboree: 350 stores
10. HHgregg: 220 stores
11. J.Crew: 50 stores
12. JC Penney: 138 stores
13. The Limited: 250 stores
14. Macy’s: 68 stores
15. Michael Kors: 125 stores
16. Payless: 800 stores
17. RadioShack: more than 1,000 stores
18. Rue21: up to 400 stores
19. Sears/Kmart: more than 300 stores
20. Wet Seal: 171 stores

If the U.S. economy was really doing well, then why are all of these major retailers closing down locations?

Of course the truth is that the economy is not doing well. The U.S. economy has not grown by at least 3 percent in a single year since the middle of the Bush administration, and it isn’t going to happen this year either. Overall, the U.S. economy has grown by an average of just 1.33 percent over the last 10 years, and meanwhile U.S. stock prices are up about 250 percent since the end of the last recession. The stock market has become completely and utterly disconnected from economic reality, and yet many Americans still believe that it is an accurate barometer for the health of the economy.

I used to do a Black Friday article every year, but I have ended that tradition. Yes, there were still a few scuffles this year, but at this point the much bigger story is how poorly the retailers are doing.

So far this year, more than 300 retailers have filed for bankruptcy, and we are currently on pace to lose over 147 million square feet of retail space by the end of 2017.

Those are absolutely catastrophic numbers.

And some analysts are already predicting that as many as 9,000 stores could be shut down in the United States in 2018.

Are we just going to keep blaming Amazon every time another retail chain goes belly up?

What we should really be focusing on is the fact that the “retail bubble” is starting to burst. In the aftermath of the last financial crisis, retailers went on an unprecedented debt binge, and now a lot of that debt is starting to go bad.

In fact, in a previous article I discussed the fact that “the amount of high-yield retail debt that will mature next year is approximately 19 times larger than the amount that matured this year”. This is going to have very serious implications on Wall Street, but very few people are really talking about this.

Most stores try to stay open through Christmas, but once the holiday season is over we will see another huge wave of store closings.

And as individual stores close down, this will put a lot of financial pressure on malls and shopping centers. Not too long ago, one report projected that up to 25 percent of all shopping malls in the entire nation could close down by 2022, but I tend to think that number is too optimistic.

The retail industry in the United States is dying, and the biggest reason for that is not Amazon.

Rather, the real reason why the retail industry is in so much trouble is because of the steady decline of the middle class. The gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is greater than ever, and we can clearly see the impact of this in the retail world.

Retailers that serve the very wealthy are generally doing well, and those that serve the other end of the food chain (such as dollar stores and Wal-Mart) are also doing okay.

But virtually all of the retailers that depend on middle class shoppers are really struggling, and this is going to continue for the foreseeable future.

Most American families are either living paycheck to paycheck or are close to that level, and these days U.S. consumers simply do not have much discretionary income to play around with. More hard working Americans are going to fall out of the middle class with each passing month, and that is extremely bad news for a retail industry that is literally falling apart right in front of our eyes.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

As America Gives Thanks, Homelessness Continues To Set New Records In Major Cities All Over The Nation

If the economy is doing just fine, then why is homelessness at levels not seen “since the Great Depression” in major cities all over the country? If the U.S. economy was actually in good shape, we would expect that the number of people that are homeless would be going down or at least stabilizing. Instead, we have a growing national crisis on our hands. In fact, within the past two years “at least 10 cities or municipal regions in California, Oregon and Washington” have declared a state of emergency because the number of homeless is growing so rapidly.

Things are particularly bad in southern California, and this year the Midnight Mission will literally be feeding a small army of people that have nowhere to sleep at night…

Thanksgiving meals will be served to thousands of homeless and near-homeless individuals today on Skid Row and in Pasadena and Canoga Park amid calls for donations and volunteers for the rest of the year.

The Midnight Mission will serve Thanksgiving brunch to nearly 2,500 homeless and near-homeless men, women and children, according to Georgia Berkovich, its director of public affairs.

Overall, the Midnight Mission serves more than a million meals a year, and Berkovich says that homelessness hasn’t been this bad in southern California “since the Great Depression”

Berkovich said the group has been serving nearly 1 million meals a year each year since 2013.

“We haven’t seen numbers like this since the Great Depression,” she said.

And of course the official numbers confirm what Berkovich is claiming. According to an article published earlier this year, the number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County has never been higher…

The number of homeless people in Los Angeles has jumped to a new record, as city officials grapple with a humanitarian crisis of proportions remarkable for a modern American metropolis.

Municipal leaders said that a recent count over several nights found 55,188 homeless people living in a survey region comprising most of Los Angeles County, up more than 25% from last year.

If the California economy is truly doing well, then why is this happening?

We see the same thing happening when we look at the east coast. Just check out these numbers from New York City

In recent years the number of homeless people has grown. Whereas rents increased by 18% between 2005 and 2015, incomes rose by 5%. When Rudy Giuliani entered City Hall in 1994, 24,000 people lived in shelters. About 31,000 lived in them when Mike Bloomberg became mayor in 2002. When Bill de Blasio entered City Hall in 2014, 51,500 did. The number of homeless people now in shelters is around 63,000.

For New York, this is the highest that the homeless population has been since the Great Depression, and city leaders are trying to come up with a solution.

Meanwhile, things are so bad in Seattle that “400 unauthorized tent camps” have popped up…

Housing prices are soaring here thanks to the tech industry, but the boom comes with a consequence: A surge in homelessness marked by 400 unauthorized tent camps in parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. The liberal city is trying to figure out what to do.

Are you noticing a theme?

Homelessness is at epidemic levels all over the U.S., and this crisis is getting worse with each passing day. Some communities are trying to care for their growing homeless populations, but others are simply trying to force them to go somewhere else. They are doing this by essentially making it illegal to be homeless. In some cities it is now a crime to engage in “public camping”, to “block a walkway” or to create any sort of “temporary structure for human habitation”. These laws specifically target the homeless, and they are very cruel.

Many of us tend to picture the homeless as mostly lazy older men that don’t want to work and that instead want to drink or do drugs all day.

But the truth is that women and children make up a significant percentage of the homeless. In fact, the number of homeless children in our country has increased by about 60 percent since the end of the last recession.

And there are thousands upon thousands of military veterans that are homeless. For example, a 34-year-old man named Johnny that served in the Marine Corps recently used his last 20 dollars to buy fuel for a woman that had run out of gas and was stranded along I-95 in Miami

Pulled over on the side of I-95, McClure, 27, was approached by a homeless man named Johnny. She was apprehensive at first, but Johnny told her to get back into her car and to lock the doors while he walked to get her help. He went to a nearby gas station, used his last $20 fill a can and brought it back to fill up her car.

Grateful, but without a dollar to repay him, McClure promised she would come back with something.

In the weeks since, she’s returned to the spot along I-95 where Johnny stays with cash, snacks and Wawa gift cards. Each time she’s stopped by with her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, they’ve learned a bit more about Johnny’s story, and become humbled by his gratitude.

Deciding that they wanted to do even more for Johnny, they started a GoFundMe page for him and have since raised approximately $250,000.

So it looks like there is going to be a happy ending to Johnny’s story, but the truth is that more people are falling into homelessness with each passing day.

If things are this bad now, how much worse will they become as the economy really starts slowing down? Already, we have shattered the all-time yearly record for retail store closings, and we still have more than a month to go. The following is from a CNN article entitled “Is This The Last Black Friday?”

A record number of store closures — 6,735 — have already been announced this year. That’s more than triple the tally for 2016, according to Fung Global Retail and Technology, a retail think tank.

And there have been 620 bankruptcies in the sector so far this year, according to BankruptcyData.com, up 31% from the same period last year. Prominent names such as Toys R Us, Gymboree, Payless Shoes and RadioShack have all filed this year, and Sears Holdings (SHLD), which owns both the iconic Sears and Kmart chains, has warned there is “substantial doubt” it can remain in business.

Sadly, analysts are projecting that the number of store closings could be as high as 9,000 next year.

Yes, there are some areas of the country that are doing well right now, but there are many others that are not.

Let us always remember to have compassion on those that are struggling, because someday we may be the ones that end up needing some help.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

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