Global Inequality Explodes: 26 Ultra-Wealthy Billionaires Now Have As Much Money As The Poorest 3.8 Billion People

If you add together all of the money owned by the poorest 3.8 billion people living on this planet, it would roughly equal the wealth controlled by the 26 wealthiest men in the world. Oxfam has just issued a brand new report on global inequality, and what they have discovered is making headlines all over the globe. The rich just keep getting richer, and meanwhile the slice of the pie owned by the poor just keeps getting smaller. Today, almost half the world lives on less than $5.50 a day, and approximately 795 million people “do not have enough food”. And even in a “wealthy country” like the United States, the gap between the rich and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s, and more than half a million Americans are homeless right now. This growing inequality is a ticking time bomb, and at some point it is going to explode.

According to Oxfam’s new report, global billionaires got 12 percent richer during 2018.

That is the good news.

The bad news is that the poorest half of the world’s population got 11 percent poorer. The following comes from the Guardian

Oxfam said the wealth of more than 2,200 billionaires across the globe had increased by $900bn in 2018 – or $2.5bn a day. The 12% increase in the wealth of the very richest contrasted with a fall of 11% in the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population.

As a result, the report concluded, the number of billionaires owning as much wealth as half the world’s population fell from 43 in 2017 to 26 last year. In 2016 the number was 61.

We are clearly going in the wrong direction.

Every year global wealth just keeps becoming more and more concentrated, and it makes you wonder how all of this will eventually end.

You can only push people down for so long before they finally explode.

What we need is a system that empowers everyone. All over the world we need more entrepreneurs, more small business owners and more risk-takers. But instead, what we have is a system that centralizes wealth in the hands of a few and that keeps everyone else down. Here are some more numbers from Oxfam’s new report

  • In the 10 years since the financial crisis, the number of billionaires has nearly doubled.
  • Between 2017 and 2018 a new billionaire was created every two days.
  • The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, saw his fortune increase to $112bn. Just 1% of his fortune is equivalent to the whole health budget for Ethiopia, a country of 105 million people.
  • The poorest 10% of Britons are paying a higher effective tax rate than the richest 10% (49% compared with 34%) once taxes on consumption such as VAT are taken into account.

Today, the global financial system is literally a wealth extraction machine. It has been designed to systematically funnel as much wealth to the top of the pyramid as possible. In a recent article, I discussed the fact that the world is now 244 trillion dollars in debt…

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and one of the primary ways that the elite keep the rest of us subjugated is through the $244,000,000,000,000 mountain of global debt that has been accumulated. Every single day, the benefits of our labor are going to enrich somebody else. A portion of the taxes that are deducted from your paycheck is used to pay interest on government debt. A portion of the profits that your company makes probably goes to servicing some form of business debt. And most Americans are continuously making payments on their mortgages, their auto loans, their credit card balances and their student loan debts. But most people never stop to think about who is becoming exceedingly wealthy on the other end of these transactions. Needless to say, it isn’t the 46 percent of the global population that is living on less than $5.50 a day.

The global elite have always understood the magic of compound interest, and they are laughing all the way to the bank.

Of course the left keeps insisting that the way to end all of this inequality is to hit the wealthy really hard with more taxes. But the truth is that the wealthy have become absolute masters at legal tax evasion. The U.S. tax code is millions of words long for a reason, and it is absolutely full of loopholes. Whenever taxes get raised it is hard working people like you and me that get slammed, and meanwhile the elite just deep finding more ways to slither out of paying their share.

And most people don’t want government handouts anyway. What people want is to be able to work hard and take care of themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the game is rigged against the small guy today. In the U.S., small business creation and the percentage of Americans that are working for themselves are both near record lows.

Instead, more wealth and more power become concentrated in the hands of corporations with each passing year. Our country is now completely and utterly dominated by big business, big government and big finance, and such a system greatly benefits those at the very top.

If we want a more equitable system, we will need to rediscover the values of our forefathers. Our founders were greatly suspicious of large concentrations of power, and so they sought to establish a very limited federal government, and they greatly restricted the size, scope and power of corporations.

Unfortunately, we have been going in the exact opposite direction for decades, and it won’t be easy to turn the boat around now.

But if we don’t, wealth and power will continue to become more concentrated in the hands of the elite, and that is a recipe for disaster.

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.

Global Debt Surpasses 244 Trillion Dollars As “Nearly Half The World Lives On Less Than $5.50 A Day”

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and one of the primary ways that the elite keep the rest of us subjugated is through the $244,000,000,000,000 mountain of global debt that has been accumulated. Every single day, the benefits of our labor are going to enrich somebody else. A portion of the taxes that are deducted from your paycheck is used to pay interest on government debt. A portion of the profits that your company makes probably goes to servicing some form of business debt. And most Americans are continuously making payments on their mortgages, their auto loans, their credit card balances and their student loan debts. But most people never stop to think about who is becoming exceedingly wealthy on the other end of these transactions. Needless to say, it isn’t the 46 percent of the global population that is living on less than $5.50 a day.

The world has never seen anything like this mountain of debt ever before, and one of the central themes of The Economic Collapse Blog is that all of this debt will ultimately destroy our society. According to the Institute of International Finance, the total amount of global debt is now “more than three times the size of the global economy”

The world’s debt pile is hovering near a record at $244 trillion, which is more than three times the size of the global economy, according to an analysis by the Institute of International Finance.

The global debt-to-GDP ratio exceeded 318 percent in the third quarter of last year, despite a stronger pace of economic growth, according to a report by the Washington-based IIF released on Tuesday.

But it isn’t as if all of this spending has lifted billions of people out of poverty. In fact, 46 percent of the population of the world is “living on less than $5.50 a day” according to the World Bank

Over 1.9 billion people, or 26.2 percent of the world’s population, were living on less than $3.20 per day in 2015. Close to 46 percent of the world’s population was living on less than $5.50 a day.

Global inequality continues to grow worse with each passing year, and that is because the global financial system is literally designed to funnel as much wealth to the very top of the pyramid as possible.

Of course things could be very different. We don’t actually need to have a debt-based system which systematically makes the rich even richer.

One of the big secrets that nobody is supposed to talk about is the fact that governments don’t actually have to borrow money. For example, the U.S. government could start issuing debt-free “United States notes” tomorrow, and this actually happened for a very brief period of time under President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s just before he was assassinated. It is highly immoral for us to be borrowing trillions of dollars that we expect future generations to repay, and that is why I have been a huge proponent of shutting down the debt-based Federal Reserve system and ending the debt-based currency known as “Federal Reserve notes”.

But these days, only a small minority of the population seems to care. We are literally debt slaves, and most Americans have seemingly embraced their enslavement. I really like what Devvy Kidd had to say about this in her latest article

The average American is a debt slave already at birth. And by the time he dies, his debt will have increased exponentially, thus passing on an even bigger debt and greater enslavement to the next generation.

This is a vicious circle that has gone on for just over 100 years. A very small elite has become incredibly wealthy and the masses have become enslaved by private and government debt.

For the majority of people, it will be impossible to extricate themselves from this massive debt stone around their neck. Instead they will add to the debt by taking on more debt.

Wake up!

At least the “yellow vests” in France are willing to take a stand against the systematic tyranny that is raging all around them. In America today, most people don’t really care about much of anything unless it somehow intrudes on the bubble of mindless entertainment that most Americans have constantly surrounded themselves with.

And guess who produces all of that mindless entertainment?

It is produced by giant media corporations that are owned by the same global elitists that control our giant mountain of debt.

The system of our enslavement is far more sophisticated than it was in previous eras of human history, but it is still deeply insidious.

There is one more thing that I would like to mention today. On many previous occasions, I have discussed how the elite have transformed Wall Street into the largest casino on the entire planet, and it is true that some people have made a lot of money in that casino.

But so many others have been deeply burned and have lost everything. Here is just one example

I had quit day-trading back in November but was still using a swing trading system that damn near never lost (really), until I got completely run over last week. Literally every move I made was wrong, and I managed to completely wipe out my entire gambling account. I want to be clear, we’re not broke or anything near it (still get to claim millionaire status), but holy crap did I decimate my account something stupid.

So, I’m here to tell you that the scary stories you hear from elders who quit trading? They’re true. Trading is a losing game. It’s just gambling.

Most people who claim to be winners just ignore their losses and pretend everything is ok. To be sure, some people really can make a living at it, and good for them. But the odds are massively against you. The system is designed to take your money while you’re stressed, guessing, nervous, angry, depressed, or most of all – desperate.

The game is literally rigged against us, and we need to realize what we are up against.

Tinkering around with the current system is not going to fix anything. We need to ditch this current system and start again from scratch, but it will probably take a horrific collapse before most people start to understand this.

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.

Government Crackdowns In China And India Threaten To Absolutely Crush The Cryptocurrency Bubble

Taxation and regulation are weapons, and governments often use these weapons to target things that they do not like. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin threaten to shatter the existing paradigm of financial control that the elite have carefully crafted, and that is making government officials all over the planet very nervous. So the latest rumblings about “government crackdowns” on cryptocurrencies in China and India shouldn’t come as any sort of a surprise. Those two governments hate anything that even smells like freedom, and so it was only a matter of time before they pulled the trigger. And the bigger the cryptocurrency bubble becomes, the more national governments around the world are likely to take action to “get it under control”.

The reason why I have always been so cautious when it comes to cryptocurrencies is because government intervention is the ever-present elephant in the room. At any time big national governments can step in and ruin the party, and that now appears to be happening in China and India. The following comes from TruNews

China, arguably the biggest market for cryptocurrencies as many citizens aim to avoid the government-controlled economy, recently released a report that showed more than 400 fake cryptos occupying its domestic marketplace. In response the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology signaled it’s going to crack down hard, citing “certain risks that cannot be ignored” with initial coin offerings, pyramid schemes, and fraud.

Simultaneous to that bit of bad news, CoinTelegraph reported the Central Board of Indirect Taxes in India is considering an 18 percent tax on cryptocurrency exchanges, deeming the digital currencies as “intangible goods.” Last month the Reserve Bank of India formally banned domestic banks from servicing any cryptocurrency business but that failed to ebb the increase in new exchanges in its marketplace.

Let’s talk about India first. As I mentioned earlier, taxation is a weapon, and a massive 18 percent tax is being proposed on all cryptocurrency trading…

The Indian government is in talks of levying an 18% tax on cryptocurrency trading. The knowledge allegedly comes from people with a direct knowledge of the matter.

The news, as reported by Bloomberg, states that cryptocurrencies could be taxed pending their declaration as intangible goods. Even as they are on par with software with respect to their classifications, the source added that their use in illegal activities would have to be regulated using other laws.

The proposal is currently under consideration by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs and will be submitted to the GST Council after its finalization for approval.

Needless to say, such a tax would absolutely devastate the emerging cryptocurrency industry in India.

In China, in addition to cracking down on “fraud”, the government has also come out with a list of their preferred cryptocurrencies

The Ministry of Industry and Information technology of China has decided to release its own ranking sheet, in which it created a list of 28 cryptos. The cryptos were ranked according to three criteria, which include technology, application, as well as innovation.

According to China, the best crypto seems to be Ethereum (ETH), which is dominating the list. It is closely followed by Steem and Lisk, as well as Neo and Komodo. These five are also making the top 5 according to China. It is surprising that Komodo managed to rank this high since it is a lesser-known platform that holds the 58th place according to market cap. Another one that stands out from the rest is Steem, which does not allow for creating smart contracts, while the rest of them do.

It turns out that Bitcoin was only number 13 on the list.

At least China is not banning cryptocurrencies yet, which many feared that they might do. Cryptos have become wildly popular in China, and even though the Chinese government is one of the most repressive regimes on the entire planet, at least they are trying to be at least somewhat reasonable in this case.

Of course all of this troubling news was going to have a major impact on cryptocurrency prices, and on Wednesday we witnessed quite a bloodbath

Digital currencies were in free fall Wednesday, with some major coins in the red by more than 10%.

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest digital currency, fell through $8,000 late Tuesday and the slide has not abated. Bitcoin tumbled to a multiweek low of $7,442.92. Bounces have been limited, with a single coin last worth $7,528.89, down 7.1% from late Tuesday Eastern U.S. levels on the Kraken exchange.

The collapse in cryptocurrencies has seen the total value of all coins fall to $326 billion, down some $50 billion in just 72 hours, according to Coinmarketcap.

Overall, the value of all cryptocurrencies has fallen nearly 500 billion dollars from a peak of 820 billion dollars in January.

That is not just a crash – that is a cataclysm.

However, it is important to note that cryptocurrencies are still way, way up from where they were a year ago at this time.

So those that got in early are still big winners.

And there are many that believe that cryptos will do extremely well during a “flight to safety” during the next great economic crisis. Omid Malekan, the author of a new book entitled The Story of the Blockchain: A Beginner’s Guide to the Technology That Nobody Understands, is entirely convinced that many will view Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as very safe alternatives when a coming crisis forces national governments to impose draconian capital controls

Government officials don’t like cryptocoins because they transfer the sovereignty of money from their control to a decentralized consensus mechanism, a transfer that they view as a downgrade in the quality of money. If our existing system of money and banking was always stable, they would have a point.

But every time there is a crisis, it reminds the public that the folks in charge are not as smart as they think they are. When those same leaders respond to the crisis with draconian capital controls (or selective bailouts for their once and future employers on Wall Street) they remind the public that they aren’t as fair as they think they are, either. Bitcoin might be volatile and hard to understand, but it’s always fair, because math does not discriminate, nor does it change the rules when people start to panic.

In addition, it is very interesting to note that the Rothschild banking dynasty also appears to be investing very heavily in the cryptocurrency industry

“In February, it became known that the Tether accounts of Bitfinex were opened in the Dutch bank ING, owned by The Rothschild Group. At the same time, the profit indicators of this bank have grown significantly. On February 26th, the Fintech company, Circle, the main shareholder of which is Goldman Sachs (also The Rothschild Group), acquired Poloniex, a US-based crypto exchange”, – Zycrypto states.

It has recently come to light that not only Rothschilds dynasty invest in cryptocurrency, they are actively preparing several projects of their own. Private discussions have been sparked among large cryptocurrency investors following the leak which subsequently flowed into the open crypto community. One of the Rothschild’s projects name has emerged: IMMO. As Coindoo writes “… the implementation of IMMO is being monitored by Alexandre de Rothschild himself”.

Do they know something that the rest of us do not?

In the end, the debate over cryptocurrencies will rage on. The skeptics will continue to point out that cryptos have no intrinsic value and that national governments can end the party any time that they wish. And advocates will continue to point out that government intervention has not ruined the party so far, and that some national governments and some big financial institutions are actually embracing the cryptocurrency revolution.

Ultimately the jury is still out on whether or not this revolution will be successful, and it will be fascinating to see how everything plays out.

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

Study Finds That 22 Percent Of Bitcoin Investors Are Using Debt To Fund Their Investments

Investing in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum and Litecoin is extremely risky, and experts all over the country are warning that people should only invest what they are willing to lose. Unfortunately, many are getting swept up in the current euphoria surrounding cryptocurrencies and are not listening to that very sound advice. A disturbing new survey that was just released found that 22 percent of all Bitcoin investors are either directly or indirectly investing in Bitcoin with borrowed money…

According to LendEDU, a personal loan research firm, more than 18 percent of Bitcoin investors have used borrowed money to trade the cryptocurrency. In a global survey of 672 active Bitcoin investors, researchers asked traders the method they used to fund their cryptocurrency trading accounts. The majority of investors used banking systems such as credit cards and ACH transfers to fund their accounts.

But 22 percent of traders revealed that they have not paid off their credit and debit cards after purchasing Bitcoin, effectively investing in the cryptocurrency with borrowed money.

Credit card debt is one of the most toxic forms of debt that you could ever carry, and investing in anything when you still have credit card balances is extremely unwise.

Yes, cryptocurrencies went on an epic run in 2017, but there is absolutely no guarantee that they will continue to rise in 2018.

In fact, there is a very real possibility that we could see a cryptocurrency crash, and there are many investors that are actually eagerly anticipating one

Well, as many traders expected, it appears that institutions are using the futures product to slowly but surely build a short position in bitcoin. According to the CFTC Commitment of Traders report (available CBOE futures), non-commercial traders held a net short position of around $30mn as of Tuesday Dec 26, or around half of the total open interest.

Separately, the Traders in Financial Futures breakdown provided by the CFTC show that the leveraged funds category that consists largely of hedge funds and various money managers had a short of around $14mn, or around a quarter of the total open interest.

In other words, spec investors have used the futures contracts to establish Bitcoin shorts.

On the other hand, there is also the possibility that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin could continue to defy gravity and soar even higher over the next 12 months.

In fact, a rumor that Amazon.com will soon start accepting Bitcoin has lots of people buzzing

As a backdrop to all of this, there is a strong rumor that Amazon is about to accept Bitcoin as a method of payment. Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock, has stated that Amazon will soon have no choice but to start accepting it. He is quoted as saying, “… they have to follow suit. I’ll be stunned if they don’t because they can’t just cede that part of the market to us if we are the only main large retail site taking Bitcoin.” Scott Mullins, an Amazon executive has confirmed that Amazon is, “working with financial institutions and crypto-experts to spur innovation, and facilitate frictionless experimentation.”

If the Amazon rumor turns out to be true – Bitcoin will probably go into orbit! Be prepared…

If someone knew exactly what would happen throughout 2018, that individual could make an absolutely obscene amount of money.

Unfortunately I don’t know where cryptocurrencies are heading, but it does appear that things are about to get a whole lot more interesting. According to Reuters, it looks like you will soon be able to invest in Bitcoin using leveraged ETFs…

The new idea is to build “leveraged” and “inverse” funds that would rise – or fall – twice as fast as the price of bitcoin on a given day.

Direxion Asset Management LLC plans to list such products on Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s NYSE Arca exchange if U.S. securities regulators give the nod, according to a filing by the exchange this week.

In the filing, the exchange said the listing “will enhance competition among market participants, to the benefit of investors and the marketplace.”

So if Bitcoin rises or falls a thousand dollars in a single day, those financial instruments will be designed to move by about twice as much.

That should be fun.

Meanwhile, some are asking what will happen to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum and Litecoin if the long-awaited collapse of global financial markets finally happens this year.

Well, some believe that it would be doom for cryptocurrencies, but others believe that cryptocurrencies would be like gold and would actually do extremely well during the next great financial crisis…

The question is what will happen to Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies once the financial collapse takes place. The signs are that when economic circumstances start to deteriorate the price of Bitcoin rises. A prime example of this is during the Cyprus and Greece bailout which saw the price of BTC rise considerably during this period. With banks stopping access to cash in ATM machines, Bitcoin was the perfect solution to be able to store it safely out of the banks and Governments’ hands.

What also happens during a depression is interest rates skyrocket and start to see hyperinflation. This will mean it is extremely hard to get finance from banks and the cost can make it unsustainable. The ICO market is a perfect solution to this problem and as the banking sector suffers, ICOs will boom. More companies will look to these as a cheap way to raise money and will create their own cryptocurrency.

It will be fascinating to see how all of this plays out.

There are some financial experts that believe that Bitcoin is going to zero, and there are others that are absolutely convinced that it is going to a million dollars.

As with so many things in life, timing is everything. If you are investing in Bitcoin, let us just hope that you got in at the right time and that you will also get out at the right time.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump 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.

Dying Middle Class: The Number Of Americans That Can’t Afford Their Own Homes Has More Than Doubled

Have you lost your spot in the middle class yet? For years I have been documenting all of the numbers that show that the middle class in America has been steadily shrinking, and we just got another one. According to a report that was produced by researchers at Harvard University, the number of Americans that spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing has more than doubled. In 2001, nearly 16 million Americans couldn’t afford the homes that they were currently living in, but by 2015 that figure had jumped to 38 million.

When I write about “economic collapse”, I am writing about a process that has been unfolding for decades in this country. Back in the early 1970s, well over 60 percent of all Americans were considered to be “middle class”, but now that number has fallen below 50 percent. Never before in our history has the middle class been a minority of the population, but that is where we are at now, and the middle class continues to get even smaller with each passing day.

So these new numbers saddened me, but they didn’t exactly surprise me. The following comes from NBC News

Over 38 million American households can’t afford their housing, an increase of 146 percent in the past 16 years, according to a recent Harvard housing report.

Under federal guidelines, households that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs are considered “cost burdened” and will have difficulty affording basic necessities like food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

But the number of Americans struggling with their housing costs has risen from almost 16 million in 2001 to 38 million in 2015, according to the Census data crunched in the report. That’s more than double.

Sometimes people try to convince me that the economy is doing “well”, but when I ask them how they are doing personally the news is almost always dreary. I know so many people that are working for close to minimum wage that used to be solidly in the middle class.

One of the biggest reasons why the middle class is shrinking is because paychecks are staying about the same while the cost of living continues to rise steadily. Of course one of the biggest factors in the rise of the cost of living is health insurance.

There are many people out there that have seen their health insurance premiums double since Obamacare went into effect. And one health insurance company actually tried to do this to me and my family too, and so at that time I immediately switched carriers.

But even though virtually every single Republican in Congress campaigned on repealing Obamacare, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen. In fact, on Sunday Senator John McCain told Face the Nation that the effort to repeal Obamacare is “probably going to be dead”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare is “probably going to be dead.”

“My view is that it’s probably going to be dead,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Support for the bill has been eroding over the July 4th recess, and McCain said he believes Republicans should work with Democrats to craft health care legislation.

As a voter, this greatly frustrates me. The Republicans got a bill to repeal Obamacare through the House and through the Senate and on to Barack Obama’s desk in early 2016. So why can’t they get that exact same bill to Donald Trump’s desk now?

We worked really hard to give the Republicans control of the White House, the Senate and the House, and now they are stabbing us in the back once again.

This is just one example of why I intend to be a “wrecking ball” if I get the chance to go to Washington.

We have got to lower health care costs on the middle class. There is no other option. Millions of families all over the country are being absolutely suffocated by rising health insurance premiums. Sometimes I get so frustrated with these RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) that I want to scream.

So many families are living on the edge right now. Various surveys have discovered that somewhere around two-thirds of the entire nation is living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, and one study found that 69 percent of all Americans do not have an adequate emergency fund.

But when you are living on the edge, there is always a danger that you could go over.

Every month, more Americans fall out of the middle class and into poverty. Even during this so-called “economic recovery”, we are seeing alarming spikes in poverty all over the nation. For example, the number of homeless people living on the street in New York City has increased by 39 percent over the past year…

Street homelessness in New York increased by 39 percent in 2017, according to the latest annual survey by the Department of Homeless Services.

There were 3,892 homeless and unsheltered people on the night of February 6, 2017, up from 2,794 people at the same time last year, said the report, which is conducted on one night of the year. This is the highest increase since 2005, when Michael Bloomberg was mayor.

And bankruptcies continue to rise as well. Consumer bankruptcies were up once again last month, and commercial bankruptcies continue their very disturbing climb

Commercial Chapter 11 bankruptcies – an effort to restructure the business, rather than liquidating it – jumped 16% year-over-year in June to 581 filings across the US. Total commercial bankruptcies of all types, by large corporations to tiny sole proprietorships, rose 2% year-over-year to 3,385 filings, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. This was up 39% from June 2015 and up 18% from June 2014.

Since the end of the last recession, the middle class has continued to get smaller and smaller in this country, and now it appears that another economic downturn is upon us.

Are we just going to stand aside and do nothing as the middle class in America dies?

The Democrats don’t seem to care.

The Republicans don’t seem to care.

If we continue to do the same things that we have been doing, we are going to continue to get the same results.

In other words, unless we start doing things differently the middle class in America is going to continue to be systematically eviscerated.

Wake up America. The middle class is dying and if we want to save it we have to take action now.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

69 Percent Of Americans Do Not Have An Adequate Emergency Fund

Do you have an emergency fund? If you even have one penny in emergency savings, you are already ahead of about one-fourth of the country. I write about this stuff all the time, but it always astounds me how many Americans are literally living on the edge financially. Back in 2008 when the economy tanked and millions of people lost their jobs, large numbers of Americans suddenly couldn’t pay their bills because they were living paycheck to paycheck. Now the stage is set for it to happen again. Another major recession is going to happen at some point, and when it does millions of people are going to get blindsided by it.

Despite all of our emphasis on education, we never seem to teach our young people how to handle money. But this is one of the most basic skills that everyone needs. Personally, I went through high school, college and law school without ever being taught about the dangers of going into debt or the importance of saving money.

If you are ever going to build any wealth, you have got to spend less than you earn. That is just basic common sense. Unfortunately, nearly one out of every four Americans does not have even a single penny in emergency savings…

Bankrate’s newly released June Financial Security Index survey indicates that 24 percent of Americans have not saved any money at all for their emergency funds.

This is despite experts recommending that people strive for a savings cushion equivalent to the amount needed to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses.

For years, I have been telling my readers that at a minimum they need to have an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of expenses. It is great to have more than that, but everyone should strive to have at least a six month cushion.

Unfortunately, that same Bankrate survey found that only 31 percent of Americans actually have such a cushion

The June survey also found that 31 percent of Americans have what Bankrate considers an ‘adequate’ savings cushion — six or more months’ worth of money to pay expenses — which means that nearly two-thirds of the country isn’t saving enough money.

That means that a whopping 69 percent of all Americans do not have an adequate emergency fund.

So what is going to happen if another great crisis arrives and millions of people suddenly lose their jobs?

Just like last time, mortgage defaults will start soaring and countless numbers of families will lose their homes.

If you do not have anything to fall back on, you can lose your spot in the middle class really fast. And in the case of a truly catastrophic national crisis, trying to operate without any money at all is going to be exceedingly challenging.

Just recently, the Federal Reserve conducted a survey that discovered that 44 percent of all Americans do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”.

That is almost half the country.

And a different survey by CareerBuilder found that 75 percent of all Americans have lived paycheck to paycheck “at least some of the time”.

Unfortunately, in a desperate attempt to make ends meet many of us continue to pile up more and more debt. According to Moneyish, Americans have now accumulated more than a trillion dollars of credit card debt, more than a trillion dollars of student loan debt, and more than a trillion dollars of auto loan debt.

We’ve racked up $1 trillion in credit card debt — and that’s just a fraction of what we owe. That’s according to data released this year from the Federal Reserve, which found that U.S. consumers owe $1.0004 trillion on their cards, up 6.2% from a year ago; this is the highest amount owed since January 2009. What’s more, this isn’t the only consumer debt to top $1 trillion. We now also owe more than $1 trillion for our cars, and for our student loans, the data showed.

Overall, U.S. consumers are now more than 12 trillion dollars in debt.

We often criticize the federal government for being nearly 20 trillion dollars in debt. And that criticism is definitely valid. What we are doing to future generations of Americans is beyond criminal.

But are we not doing something similar to ourselves?

When you divide the total amount of consumer debt by the size of the U.S. population, it breaks down to roughly $40,000 for every man, woman and child in our country.

When someone lends you money, you have to pay back more than you originally borrow. And in the case of high interest debt, you can end up paying back several times what you originally borrowed.

If you carry a balance from month to month on a high interest credit card, it is absolutely crippling you financially. But many Americans don’t understand this. Instead, they just keep sending off the “minimum payment” every month because that is the easiest thing to do.

If you ever want to achieve financial freedom, you have got to get rid of your toxic debts. There are some forms of low interest debt, such as mortgage debt, that are not going to financially cripple you. But anything with a high rate of interest you will want to pay off as soon as possible.

And everyone needs a financial cushion. Unless you can guarantee that your life is always going to go super smoothly and you are never going to have any problems, you need an emergency fund to fall back on.

Yes, you may need to make some sacrifices in order to make that happen. Nobody ever said that it would be easy. But just about everyone has somewhere that a little “belt tightening” can be done, and in the long-term it will be worth it.

When you don’t have to constantly worry about how you are going to pay the bills next month, it will help you sleep a lot easier at night. Many of us have put a lot of unnecessary stress on ourselves by spending money that we didn’t have for things that we really didn’t need.

And now is the time to get your financial house in order, because it appears that another major economic downturn is not too far away.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Credit Card Companies Specifically Target Less Educated And Less Sophisticated Americans

Credit Cards - Public Domain

The big credit card companies don’t make much money off of those that pay their bills on time, and so they often specifically target less educated and less sophisticated consumers that don’t really understand the dangers of credit card debt. The goal is to find people that will carry credit card balances from month to month, because that is where the real money can be made. The average U.S. household that carries balances from month to month has approximately $15,310 in credit card debt right now. At an average interest rate of about 15 percent, the profits pile up very quickly for the big credit card companies. After all these years, so many of us still have not learned the truth about credit cards, and so credit card debt is absolutely crippling tens of millions of American families.

In 2015, the total amount of credit card debt in this country increased by a staggering 71 billion dollars. In a previous article, I explained to my readers that American consumers accumulated more new credit card debt during the fourth quarter of 2015 than they did during the entire years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined.

Many analysts are forecasting that the total amount of credit card debt will surpass a trillion dollars by the end of 2016. This is why there is such a crying need for financial education in this nation. Millions upon millions of us are being taken for a ride, and as I mentioned above, the big credit card companies often target those of us that are the least sophisticated about financial matters. The following comes from Bloomberg

Credit-card companies need people to spend more than they can afford, but not so much that they default on their payments. So they could benefit from targeting individuals who are more likely to have cognitive failings. This is the dark side of behavioral finance.

Some new research by economists Antoinette Schoar of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Hong Ru of Nanyang Technological University claims to find exactly such a result. The authors use data from a private company that tracks credit-card offers. They find that less educated consumers — who are likely to be less financially sophisticated — are more frequently given offers that include back-loaded costs. Those are plans that start with low rates, but increase later, with extra-high over-limit and late-payment fees. In other words, those are likely to be the borrowers who make bad financial decisions — racking up debt and eventually paying much more in interest. Meanwhile, more educated households tend not to be offered these plans.

Do you understand what that is saying?

The large credit card companies want to find those of us that are the most vulnerable, because that is where their biggest profits can be made.

And of course most of us have gotten into trouble with credit card debt at some point. They don’t teach us how to manage our finances in high school or in college, and so most of us are very financially naive when we first get out into the real world. Card offers are being showered on our young people, and cash-strapped young adults can find it very easy to “buy now and pay later”

Psychologically, it can be easier for people to pay using a credit card because no paper money is involved, Danford said. A Dun & Bradstreet study found that people spend an average of 12 to 18 percent more when using a credit card instead of cash.

I think that’s one of the traps. It’s almost too easy to use a credit card,” Danford said. “You don’t have to think of the consequences.”

According to 2015 data from Experian, the average American had 2.24 credit cards, up from 2.18 in 2014.

Of all credit card users, what percentage do you think carries a balance from month to month?

30 percent?

40 percent?

Well, according to Time Magazine only 35 percent of those that use credit cards completely pay them off every single month. That means that 65 percent of those that use credit cards do carry a balance…

Only 35% of credit card users don’t carry a balance–they pay off their bill every month, like you’re supposed to. They use credit cards for convenience, and perhaps to generate bonus points and rewards, not because they need to borrow. If you’re a member of this group, you’re known as a “convenience user.” (Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for not being on the hook for high interest rates, but don’t gloat.) The other, more typical credit card users are known as “revolvers” because they don’t pay off their bills in full so the debt revolves. To them, credit limit increases are essentially invitations to spend more. It’s unsettling: “for revolvers, a 10% increase in credit is followed by a 1.3 percent increase in debt within one quarter and a 9.99% increase in debt over the long term,” the study found.

Unfortunately for the big credit card companies and the overall U.S. economy, it appears that U.S. consumers are starting to get tapped out.

Retail sales fell 2.9 percent in April, and then they dropped by 3.9 percent in May. As a result of these declining sales, corporate profits are suffering, and it is being projected that the final numbers for the second quarter of 2016 will show that corporate profits in the U.S. have now fallen for five quarters in a row.

That is not an “economic recovery”. Rather, that is what normally happens at the beginning of a major recession.

And don’t expect this to turn around any time soon, because Americans just don’t have the kind of discretionary income that they once did. The following comes from a New York Post article entitled “A staggering percentage of Americans are too poor to shop“…

Retailers have blamed the weather, slow job growth and millennials for their poor results this past year, but a new study claims that more than 20 percent of Americans are simply too poor to shop.

These 26 million Americans are juggling two to three jobs, earning just around $27,000 a year and supporting two to four children — and exist largely under the radar, according to America’s Research Group, which has been tracking consumer shopping trends since 1979.

So much of what is happening right now is very reminiscent of 2008. There was an explosion of credit card debt just before that crash as well.

We should have learned some very hard lessons the last time around, but we didn’t, and so now the pain for American families will be even greater this time.

If you are in credit card debt at this moment, it would be wise to try to eliminate it as soon as you can, because you definitely don’t want to be drowning in debt when times get really, really hard.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and End Of The American Dream. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

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