Here Is Why The U.S. Economy Would Continue To Crash Even If All The Lockdowns Were Lifted Immediately…

COVID-19 has created an enormous amount of fear, and that fear is doing far more damage to the economy than the actual virus is.  In an environment of fear, financial institutions become a lot tighter with their money, and that inevitably causes economic activity to slow down.  For example, just consider what happened in 2008.  Mortgage lending standards suddenly became much more strict, and that greatly contributed to the horrific housing price crash which left millions upon millions of Americans underwater on their mortgages.  Unfortunately, this coronavirus pandemic has created a wave of fear that is far greater than what we experienced during the last recession, and that has enormous implications for the months ahead.

Extremely loose lending standards helped create debt-fueled “booms” throughout our economy in recent years, but now lending standards are going in the complete opposite direction very rapidly.

For instance, Chase is now requiring a credit score of at least 700 for all new home loans, and they are one of the financial institutions that is now requiring a down payment of at least 20 percent

A Chase spokesperson confirmed that starting April 14, new mortgage applicants will need a minimum credit score of 700 and a down payment of 20%. Refinancing applications for non-Chase mortgages will also need the same score. Chase didn’t disclose its previous lending standards but the average downpayment for first-time home buyers is around 6%, according to a 2018 survey from the National Association of Realtors.

If you own your home, would you have been approved for a mortgage under the new Chase standards?

And Chase is far from alone.  In fact, most major mortgage lenders have now tightened up, and Redfin is estimating that about a quarter of all home buyers last year would not have qualified under the new standards.

So if you remove about a quarter of all buyers from the marketplace moving forward, what happens to the housing market?

Yes, there will be an implosion, and it will happen no matter whether coronavirus lockdowns are in effect or not.

And home equity loans are going to be hit even harder.  As I discussed last week, Wells Fargo is no longer taking HELOC applications at all.

So now matter how good your credit is, you simply cannot get a home equity line of credit from Wells Fargo at this point.

This is what fear does.

We see similar things happening in the credit card industry.  Standards have been greatly tightened for new customers, and in some instances existing customers are having their limits slashed or their cards suddenly canceled.  The following comes from Newsweek

Analysts warn that credit card companies are lowering credit limits and canceling cards—often without warning—amid the pandemic-induced economic crisis, just as they did during the Great Recession.

If you think that this won’t have a dramatic impact on the U.S. economy, then you probably haven’t been paying attention.

Our economy is a consumer driven economy, and if consumers don’t have access to easy credit there is no way in the world that economic activity will return to previous levels.

Of course even if they did have access to easy credit, many Americans are so afraid of this virus that they have no intention of resuming normal economic patterns any time soon

Here’s hoping you enjoyed the last movie or concert you attended, because if the results of a new survey are accurate, it may be a long, long time before such events are ever popular again. According to the research, 40% of Americans plan to avoid public spaces unless “absolutely necessary” long after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided.

The survey, commissioned by Vital Vio, asked 1,000 U.S. adults about how they envision every day life in the wake of the coronavirus. All in all, it looks like there are suddenly a whole lot more germaphobes in the land of the free. Over four in five (82%) said they are now more aware of, and concerned about, cleaning protocols in public areas. Additionally, 58% are more suspicious about their friends’ and family’s hygiene habits.

And a lot of companies are also going to be extremely hesitant to “return to normal” because of the threat of lawsuits.

Earlier today, I was stunned to learn that 771 coronavirus-related lawsuits have already been filed…

Hundreds of lawsuits stemming from the coronavirus pandemic are rapidly amassing in state and federal courts, the first wave of litigation challenging decisions made early during the crisis by corporations, insurance companies and governments.

Claims have been filed against hospitals and senior-living facilities, airlines and cruise lines, fitness chains and the entertainment industry – 771 as of Friday, according to a database compiled by Hunton Andrews Kurth, an international law firm tracking cases that emerge from the pandemic.

Isn’t that insane?

I have repeatedly warned my readers that it will be exceedingly difficult to “return to normal” in our overly litigious society, but even I didn’t expect so many lawsuits so soon.

And this is just the beginning.  Eventually there will be thousands upon thousands of coronavirus lawsuits, and they will tie up our courts for the foreseeable future.

This pandemic just seems to be magnifying everything that is wrong with our society, and at this point the future looks so bleak that even perpetually optimistic Warren Buffett is throwing in the cards

A 95% plunge in passengers. Billions in losses. A rush for new debt. A recovery that executives expect to take years. Coronavirus is roiling the airline industry and the Oracle of Omaha has seen enough.

Warren Buffett told investors Saturday that Berkshire Hathaway has sold its entire stakes in the four largest U.S. airlines — AmericanDeltaSouthwestUnited — as the pandemic upends another bet on the sector that the famed investor had shunned for years before a surprise return in 2016.

Buffett understands that fear of this virus is going to paralyze air travel for a very long time to come, and he is getting out while he still can.

But if our society cannot even handle COVID-19, what will things look like once much worse things start happening?

It has been sobering to watch how rapidly our “snowflake society” has melted during this pandemic.

Now virtually the entire nation is paralyzed by fear, and the once great U.S. economy is crashing all around us.

And the really bad news is that this is just the beginning…

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 BlogEnd 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 EndGet 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. 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.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all many people as we possibly can.

Black Friday Is Coming, And 48 Million Americans Still Have Holiday Debt From Last Year

The biggest shopping day of the year is almost here, and marketers are working hard trying to extract as much money from U.S. consumers as possible. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get consumers to open up their wallets, because many of them are already drowning in debt. As a society, we have been trained to think of this as “the happiest time of the year”, and for many Americans the most important part of the holiday season is opening presents on Christmas morning. So there is a tremendous amount of pressure to spend a lot of money on presents, but this often leads to high levels of credit card debt. In fact, a survey that was just released discovered that 48 million Americans “are still paying off credit card debt from last holiday season”

The holidays can be hard: cooking elaborate meals, facing frigid temperatures, making travel plans that please everyone.

Overspending, however, is too easy. In fact, about 48 million Americans are still paying off credit card debt from last holiday season, according to a NerdWallet survey conducted by The Harris Poll.

Sadly, some of those consumers will end up paying the credit card companies more than twice what those Christmas presents originally cost, and it can be exceedingly difficult to ever get ahead when you are trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of debt.

So why do people do it?

Well, according to one financial therapist many Americans are chasing an “emotional experience” this time of the year…

Gift-buying requires money, time and energy when you may already feel overwhelmed, says Los Angeles-based financial therapist Amanda Clayman. During the holidays, “we’re chasing a sort of emotional experience,” she says. Think: the love and happiness of a Hallmark movie.

But feelings of grief or longing may be more realistic. “This is a sad and lonely time for many people,” says Sarah Newcomb, behavioral economist for Morningstar. Shopping (for anything or everything) can be a convenient coping mechanism.

We want what we see on television, but what we see on television is not real.

In the end, many Americans leave the holiday season feeling deeply disappointed, because what they were chasing was just an illusion.

Yes, some wealthy families will literally have hundreds of presents under their Christmas trees this holiday season, but most American families are deeply struggling these days.

In fact, over two million of us are actually living without basic necessities such as “running water or indoor plumbing”. The following comes from Daisy Luther

A new report says that more than 2 million Americans in West Virginia, Alabama, Texas and the Navajo Nation Reservation in the Southwest are living without clean running water or indoor plumbing. They’re drinking from polluted streams. They’re carrying buckets of the same water home for washing. They’re urinating and defecating outside with no wastewater treatment.

The gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow, and at this point the wealthiest 0.1 percent of all Americans now have as much wealth as the poorest 90 percent of all Americans combined.

Let that sink in for a moment.

That is a recipe for societal disaster, and it is getting worse with each passing year.

A big reason for this is because the Federal Reserve has been artificially pumping up the financial markets, and on Monday stocks hit yet another all-time high

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite hit all-time closing highs as they rose 0.8% to 3,133.64 and 1.3% to 8,632.49, respectively. Both indexes also notched intraday records. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also had a record close, gaining 190.85 points, or 0.5% to 28,066.47.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the record, saying: “Enjoy!”

But what most Americans don’t understand is that 84 percent of all stock market wealth is owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of all Americans.

Of course the stock market bubble won’t last indefinitely. We are already in an earnings recession, and that earnings recession is expected to continue in the fourth quarter

Earnings in the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.75% are now projected to decline 1.51% in the fourth quarter from the year before, according to a FactSet computation of analysts’ average forecasts for individual companies. An earnings recession is defined as two quarters or more of consecutive year-over-year declines, and earnings for S&P 500 components dipped in the first two quarters of 2019 and are all but certain to do so again in the third quarter — with nearly 95% of calendar third-quarter reports posted, earnings have dropped 2.34%, the biggest decline so far this year.

And about 75 percent of the time, an earnings recession leads into a full-blown recession for the economy as a whole

Three-fourths (75%) of earnings recessions since World War II have morphed into economic recessions, said CFRA Chief Investment Strategist Sam Stovall, who told Market Watch that he has been “scratching his head” trying to reconcile analyst pessimism around earnings with continued stock-market rallies.

So the truth is that those that are celebrating what the stock market is doing are not likely to be celebrating for too much longer.

And every day we continue to get more bad news from the real economy. For example, we just learned that the largest maker of truck engines in the United States will be laying off about 2,000 workers

Those market trends are now impacting Cummins, a Columbus, Ind., manufacturer of heavy equipment. It’s the largest manufacturer of Class 8 truck engines, claiming a 38.3% market share in 2018 over competitors like Daimler and Volvo/Mack.

Cummins spokesperson Jon Mills confirmed to Business Insider that the company, which employs some 62,610 globally, will reduce its global workforce by about 2,000. Those layoffs will be complete by the first quarter of 2020, he said.

As a “perfect storm” overtakes America, many believe that this will be the last “normal” holiday season that Americans will be able to enjoy.

It has become exceedingly clear that very hard times are coming, and quite a few experts believe that the crisis that is ahead will be even worse than what we experienced in 2008.

So enjoy the time that you are able to spend with your family and friends over the coming weeks, because major changes are already starting to happen, and our nation will soon be dealing with one major headache after another.

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.

A Shocking New Survey Finds That Most Americans Are Completely Unprepared For The Next Recession

Just like in 2008, most Americans are living right on the edge financially, and so any sort of an economic downturn is going to be extremely painful for tens of millions of American families. When you have not built up a financial cushion, any sort of a setback can be absolutely disastrous. During the last recession, millions of Americans suddenly lost their jobs, and because most of them were living paycheck to paycheck a lot of them suddenly couldn’t pay their mortgages. In the end, millions of Americans lost their homes during the “subprime mortgage meltdown”, and today the housing bubble is even larger than it was back then. Sadly, the reality of the matter is that many of us are just barely scraping by from month to month, and that is a very dangerous position to be in.

A new survey that was just released shows just how vulnerable American consumers have become at this point in time. According to the survey, the top financial priority for 38 percent of all Americans is just trying to pay the bills, and for 19 percent of all Americans it is dealing with credit card debt. The following comes from Fox Business

Among survey respondents in the nationally representative poll, 38 percent said their top financial priority is “just staying current on living expenses or getting caught up on all the bills.” Almost 3 in 10 respondents (29 percent) said their chief priority was “saving more money,” and 19 percent indicated they were mainly working on paying down debt from products like credit cards and student loans.

So that means that for nearly 60 percent of all Americans, the top financial priority each month is either finding a way to pay the bills or dealing with credit card debt.

And if you are struggling to pay the bills each month or you are drowning in credit card debt, the truth is that you are definitely not ready for the next recession.

The same survey also discovered that a very large percentage of Americans are not following any sort of a financial budget

More than a decade into the longest economic expansion on record, almost two-fifths of people said in a new Bankrate poll that their main financial priority was just keeping their heads above water on living expenses rather than saving money.

Nearly as many of those surveyed said that they’re not following financial budgets, according to Bankrate’s September Financial Security Poll.

So many people out there spend money whenever they feel like it and they don’t have any sort of a plan for their finances.

And then when they get deep into debt they wonder how that could have possibly happened.

It is so important to take charge of your money and to have a plan for where you want to go financially. Because if you don’t have a plan for your money, I promise you that somebody else does. As many of us have learned the hard way, it is all too easy to fall victim to all of the financial predators that are constantly circling these days. The big financial institutions want to get Americans into as much debt as possible, because the deeper we are in debt the more money they make.

In our society, everything has become all about extracting as much money out of you as possible. Even when we are at the checkout counter at the supermarket we are asked if we want to get some “cash back” so that they can charge us a “convenience fee” and make even more money. And of course most of the money that is extracted out of us ultimately ends up at the very top of the financial pyramid, and as a result the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” continues to grow.

In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau is telling us that the gap between the rich and the poor is now “greater than it has ever been”

In the midst of the longest economic expansion the United States has ever seen, with poverty and unemployment rates at historic lows, the separation between rich and poor from 2017 and 2018 was greater than it has ever been, federal data show.

To be fair, the U.S. Census Bureau has only been measuring this since 1967, and so it is entirely possible that things could have been even worse earlier in our history.

But the numbers do clearly show that the gap has been steadily widening for years, and at this point wealth inequality in the U.S. is far greater than it is in any country in Europe

The Gini index measures wealth distribution across a population, with zero representing total equality and 1 representing total inequality, where all wealth is concentrated in a single household. The indicator has been rising steadily during the past several decades. When the Census Bureau began studying income inequality more than 50 years ago, the Gini index was 0.397. In 2018, the Gini index rose to 0.485.

By comparison, no European country had a Gini index greater than 0.38 between 2017 and 2018.

So what this means is that we have a small group of people at the top of the pyramid doing really, really well, but meanwhile most of the rest of us are deeply struggling.

In fact, survey after survey has shown that the vast majority of Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.

The way that our entire system is structured greatly favors Wall Street, the big banks, the largest corporations and those with enormous amounts of money. And they are able to maintain control of the system by literally buying elections and controlling public opinion through their control of the mainstream media. Our founders were deeply suspicious of large concentrations of power, and we need to return to the values that our nation was founded upon if we ever hope to turn things around.

Unfortunately, more Americans that ever are convinced that socialism is the answer to the problems that I just discussed, and this is fueling the rise of politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

But socialist experiments have failed all throughout human history, and socialism would fail here too.

Big government is never the answer. Sadly, we already have the biggest government in the history of the world, and many Americans seem absolutely determined to make it even bigger.

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. Of course the most important thing that we can share with people is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if you would like to learn more about how you can become a Christian I would encourage you to read this article.

60 Percent Of Americans Believe A Recession Is Coming – But Consumers Continue To Pile Up Debt At A Frightening Pace

We haven’t seen survey results like this since just before the last recession. Right now, 60 percent of Americans believe that a recession is “very or somewhat likely in the next year”, and the reason why that figure is so high is because there is already a tremendous amount of evidence that the economy is slowing down all around us. As I have been documenting repeatedly, U.S. economic performance has not been this dismal since 2008 and 2009, and the slowdown seems to be gaining pace as we move toward the end of 2019. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that a solid majority of the country thinks that the next recession will officially begin very soon. The following comes from ABC News

Ratings of the U.S. economy overall, 56% positive, are down from 65% last fall in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Most ominously, 60% see a recession as very or somewhat likely in the next year. That’s within sight of the 69% who said so in November 2007, in advance of the Great Recession.

But at the same time, U.S. consumers continue to pile up more debt at a frightening pace.

According to NBC News, total revolving credit shot up at an 11.25 annual pace during the month of July…

According to the Federal Reserve’s consumer credit tracker, revolving credit — a category in which credit card debt predominates — increased at an annualized rate of 11.25 percent in July, the most recent month for which data is available.

“In terms of revolving debt, we see spikes like this every so often, but they don’t jump by double digits all that much,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards. Typically, big jumps occur around the holidays, though — not in July.

If a severe economic downturn really is coming, the smart thing to do would be to get out of credit card debt.

But these days Americans have been trained to be very short-term thinkers. And when things start to get tight, it is really easy to put expenses on a credit card and worry about them later. This is something that I did when I was a much younger man, and it is something that millions of American families all over the nation are doing right now.

When the money simply isn’t there, it is just so tempting to whip out a credit card. But credit card debt is one of the most insidious forms of debt because of the high interest rates most credit card companies charge. And at this moment credit card companies are jacking up rates to a degree that we haven’t seen in many years

WalletHub says average credit card APRs for people with good credit and business credit cardholders — at 20.9 percent and 18.5 percent, respectively — are the highest they’ve been since it began tracking rates in 2010.

For people with less than stellar credit, even those rates might be out of reach, McClary said. For example, a new applicant with a credit score in the low 600s might be offered an APR of about 22 percent, he said.

Unfortunately, the more debt that you accumulate, the less likely it becomes that you will ever start building up substantial wealth of your own.

Today, tens of millions of Americans are deep in debt and are working exceedingly hard to make other people rich. And this is one of the biggest reasons why well over half the nation is currently living in “asset poverty”

Many Americans claim they simply don’t earn enough money to build any type of savings account or amass any meaningful financial assets. Now, a troubling study out of Oregon State University finds some definite statistical truth to these sentiments, concluding that over 63% of American children and 55% of Americans live in “asset poverty.”

In other words, most Americans are living right on the edge financially, and that is a very dangerous place to be. If you are not familiar with the term “asset poverty”, the following is a pretty good definition

Asset poverty means having few or no financial assets to fall back on in the event of a financial calamity, such as losing one’s job or encountering a medical crisis. Some examples of common financial assets are vehicles, houses, savings accounts, and investments. Without these assets, weathering a financial crisis is extremely difficult.

When you really don’t have any real wealth of your own, you are essentially living paycheck to paycheck, and a single major setback can be absolutely disastrous.

In America today, financial difficulties are one of the biggest reasons why so many of us are completely stressed out, and the next recession hasn’t even officially begun yet.

But with each day we continue to get more numbers that tell us that big trouble is on the way. For example, we just learned that the U.S. lost 4,500 trucking jobs last month

The trucking industry has been battling challenging circumstances so far in 2019 – which includes the loss of thousands of positions last month.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry lost 4,500 jobs between July and August.

And of course trucking companies continue to go bankrupt at a staggering pace. According to Business Insider, more than 600 trucking companies have already gone bankrupt so far this year…

Indicators from the trucking industry have been sour in 2019. In the first half of the year, around 640 trucking companies went bankrupt, according to industry data from Broughton Capital LLC. That’s more than triple the number of bankruptcies from the same period last year — about 175.

Sometimes people think that I exaggerate when I warn people about what is coming. But the truth is that I am not exaggerating at all. If anything, I feel frustrated that I am not able to effectively communicate how bad it will actually be when things start to get really crazy.

As a nation, we have been making incredibly bad decisions for decades, and we have been running in the exact opposite direction of where we should be headed as fast as we can.

In life, all decisions have consequences, and we are going to pay an extraordinarily high price for our exceedingly foolish decisions.

For the moment, things are relatively quiet. But that quietness will not last for much longer.

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.

Here Are 15 Numbers That Show How The Global Economy Is Performing, And All Of Them Are Bad

Global economic activity has already been slowing down dramatically, and the U.S. trade war with China is just going to make things worse. In so many ways, what we are witnessing in 2019 is quite reminiscent of what we witnessed as the last recession was beginning. Global exports are absolutely plummeting, auto sales are way down all over the globe, debt delinquencies are way up, and retailers are closing stores at a record pace. Even if the U.S. and China were getting along, things would be rough for the global economy in the months ahead, but a full-blown trade war between the two largest economies on the entire planet has the potential to be absolutely disastrous. We are truly in uncharted waters, and many believe that events are going to start accelerating very rapidly now.

Even though I write about this stuff on a daily basis, I have been surprised by how poor the global economic numbers have been lately.

And remember, earlier this month the global media were convinced that the U.S. and China were about to finalize a trade deal. Now that negotiations have completely broken down, we should expect that these numbers will soon get even worse.

The following are 15 numbers that show how the global economy is currently performing…

#1 Global exports are absolutely crashing and have now fallen to the lowest level since 2009.

#2 U.S. auto dealers are dealing with a backlog of 4.2 million unsold vehicles.

#3 Auto sales in Europe have fallen for seven months in a row.

#4 Chinese auto sales fell a whopping 16.6 percent in the month of April.

#5 Overall, Chinese auto sales have now fallen for 11 months in a row. That is a new all-time record.

#6 U.S. auto loan delinquencies have reached the highest level since the last recession.

#7 U.S. credit card delinquencies have hit the highest level in eight years.

#8 In April, U.S. manufacturing activity unexpectedly declined 0.5 percent.

#9 Thanks to the trade war, the price of soybeans just dropped to the lowest level since 2008.

#10 Party City just announced that it will be closing 45 stores.

#11 Fred’s just announced that they will be closing 104 more stores.

#12 In April, U.S. retail sales declined for the second time in three months.

#13 According to the Atlanta Fed’s latest forecast, U.S. GDP growth is expected to fall to just 1.2 percent in the second quarter of 2019.

#14 According to a new study just released by the Urban Institute, 40 percent of all Americans “sometimes struggle to afford housing, utilities, food or health care”.

#15 Overall, 59 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck according to a survey that was just conducted by Charles Schwab.

Leaders from both the U.S. and China are trying to act tough and say the right things, but everyone knows that this trade war is going to hurt both countries.

Economic numbers from both nations have been troubling lately, and one expert that was just interviewed by CNBC says that “it could get a lot worse”

Consumer and industrial activity in both the U.S. and China slowed in April, even before the world’s two biggest economies entered the latest phase of an escalating trade war that could take a bite out of global growth.

“The real message today is that both the economic data from the U.S. and China have disappointed. They’re like two boys in the sandbox that are spitting on each other, and it could get a lot worse,” said Marc Chandler, global market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex.

In the short-term, it would greatly help if the U.S. and China could find a way to agree to a trade deal.

Unfortunately, the events of the past 48 hours have made that a lot less likely.

As I discussed yesterday, President Trump essentially took a sledgehammer to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. When the Commerce Department put Huawei on the “Entity List”, it essentially banned the company from buying much needed parts and components from U.S. firms. Some have described this as “the nuclear option”, and I think that description is quite accurate. In the end, this move is going to be absolutely devastating for Huawei.

Of course the Chinese are absolutely furious about this. Huawei is viewed with great national pride in China, and this move is considered to be a direct insult to Chinese national honor. Most Americans are not paying too much attention to the details of the trade war, but in China this is a really big deal and people are extremely angry. In fact, there has apparently been a run on “Donald Trump toilet brushes” in China in recent days because the Chinese are so angry.

Following my recent article about Huawei, a number of readers complained that I was being too soft on China. Of course that is not true at all. Long before Donald Trump ran for president, I was writing about how China was lying, cheating, stealing our technology and robbing us blind. I was literally begging for our politicians to stand up and do something, and I was thrilled when Trump started talking tough about China because I knew that he really understood these issues.

But I also want everyone to understand that trying to decouple from the Chinese economy would be extremely painful even in the most optimistic scenario. Our two economies have become extremely integrated, and we have become very dependent on China in many different ways. They buy our soybeans, they provide us with rare earth elements, and they own more than a trillion dollars of our debt. Looking at it from the Chinese perspective, they have countless ways that they can hurt us, and the angrier we make them the more likely it will be that they will lash out at us.

When negotiating with China, you need to be tough but you also need a lot of finesse. Taking a baseball bat and slamming it into their kneecaps is not going to work.

If we destroy our relationship with China, that is going to result in us going down a very dark path. Yes, China is an evil empire that has no respect for human rights at all. There is no freedom of speech in China, over the past year they have been shutting down lots of churches and burning lots of Bibles, and they have been systematically throwing members of other religious minorities into concentration camps.

So I don’t have any sympathy for the communist Chinese government at all. I just want all of you to understand that they are a very dangerous adversary, and a protracted trade war could be truly disastrous for the entire global economy.

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.

I Dare You To Tell Me The Economy Is “Booming” After Reading This List Of 19 Facts About Our Current Economic Performance

After taking an honest look at the facts, I don’t know how anyone can possibly claim that the U.S. economy is “booming”. I really don’t. We hear this sort of rhetoric from the mainstream media all the time, but it doesn’t make any sense. As I discussed yesterday, nobody should be using the term “booming” to describe the state of the U.S. economy until we have a full year when GDP growth is 3 percent or better, and at this point we haven’t had that since the middle of the Bush administration. And as you will see below, the latest numbers are clearly telling us that the U.S. economy is not even moving in the right direction. Economic conditions are getting worse, and they weren’t that great to begin with. According to the calculations that John Williams has made over at shadowstats.com, the U.S. economy is already in a recession, but of course the Federal Reserve will continue to tell us that everything is just fine for as long as they possibly can. Unfortunately for them, they can’t hide the depressingly bad numbers that are coming in from all over the economy, and those numbers are all telling us the same thing.

The following are 19 facts about our current economic performance that should deeply disturb all of us…

#1 In April, U.S. auto sales were down 6.1 percent. That was the worst decline in 8 years.

#2 The number of mortgage applications has fallen for four weeks in a row.

#3 We just witnessed the largest crash in luxury home sales in about 9 years.

#4 Existing home sales have now fallen for 13 months in a row.

#5 In March, total residential construction spending was down 8.4 percent from a year ago.

#6 U.S. manufacturing output was down 1.1 percent during the first quarter of this year.

#7 Farm incomes are falling at the fastest pace since 2016.

#8 Wisconsin dairy farmers are going bankrupt “in record numbers”.

#9 Apple iPhone sales are falling at a “record pace”.

#10 Facebook’s profits have declined for the first time since 2015.

#11 We just learned that CVS will be closing 46 stores.

#12 Office Depot has announced that they will be closing 50 locations.

#13 Overall, U.S. retailers have announced more than 6,000 store closings so far in 2019, and that means we have already surpassed the total for all of last year.

#14 A shocking new study has discovered that 137 million Americans have experienced “medical financial hardship in the past year”.

#15 Credit card charge-offs at U.S. banks have risen to the highest level in nearly 7 years.

#16 Credit card delinquencies have risen to the highest level in almost 8 years.

#17 More than half a million Americans are homeless right now.

#18 Homelessness in New York City is the worst that it has ever been.

#19 Nearly 102 million Americans do not have a job right now. That number is worse than it was at any point during the last recession.

But at least the stock market has been doing well, right?

Actually, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been down for two days in a row, and investors are getting kind of antsy.

Hopes of a trade deal with China had been propping up stocks in recent weeks, but it looks like negotiations may have hit “an impasse”

The latest round of US-China trade talks may have hit an impasse, raising doubts about the chances of an early trade deal between the world’s two leading economies, Chinese official media reported on Thursday.

Unlike the previous negotiations, the 10th round of high-level economic and trade talks, which concluded here on Wednesday, had fewer details about specific discussions and results, state-run Global Times reported.

I warned my readers repeatedly that this would happen. The Chinese are going to negotiate, but they are going to drag their feet for as long as possible in hopes that the U.S. will free Meng Wanzhou.

Of course that isn’t going to happen, and so at some point the Chinese will have to decide if they are willing to move forward with a trade deal anyway.

But if the Chinese drag their feet for too long, Trump administration officials may lose patience and take their ball and go home.

In any event, the truth is that the U.S. economy is really slowing down, and no trade deal is going to magically change that.

And a lot of other pundits are also pointing out that a substantial economic slowdown has now begun. For example, the following comes from Brandon Smith’s latest article

The bottom line is, the next crash has already begun. It started at the end of 2018, and is only becoming more pervasive with each passing month. This is not “doom and gloom” or “doom porn”, this is simply the facts on the ground. While stock markets are still holding (for now), the rest of the system is breaking down right on schedule. The question now is, when will the mainstream media and the Fed finally acknowledge this is happening? I suspect, as in 2008, they will openly admit to the danger only when it is far too late for people to prepare for it.

Hopefully things will remain relatively stable for as long as possible, because nobody should want to see a repeat of 2008 (or worse).

Unfortunately, we can’t stop the clock. We are already more than a third of the way through 2019, and we will be into 2020 before we know it.

It has been an unusual year so far, but I have a feeling that it is about to get much, much more interesting.

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.

Credit Card Charge-Offs Hit The Highest Level In Nearly 7 Years And Credit Card Delinquencies Hit The Highest Level In Almost 8 Years

When people are having a harder time paying their bills, that is a signal that the economy is slowing down. This is something that we witnessed back in 2008, and it is something that is happening once again right now. Credit card charge-offs at major U.S. banks haven’t been this high since the U.S. economy was pulling out of the last recession, and the same thing is true regarding credit card delinquencies. So even though the mainstream media keeps telling us over and over that the U.S. economy is “booming”, the cold, hard numbers are telling us something completely different. This is a point that I made yesterday in my article about how homelessness is absolutely exploding in New York City, and it is a point I will undoubtedly have to make many more times as long as the mainstream media feeds us this fictional narrative about a “booming economy”. Look, the truth is that you can’t say that we have a booming economy until we have a year when the U.S. economy grows by at least 3 percent, and at this point we haven’t had that since the middle of the Bush administration.

And now there are all sorts of indications that the U.S. economy is really starting to slow down again. One of those indications is the fact that the level of credit card charge-offs has risen to the highest level since 2012

Red flags are flying in the credit-card industry after a key gauge of bad debt jumped to the highest level in almost seven years.

The charge-off rate — the percentage of loans companies have decided they’ll never collect — rose to 3.82% in the first three months of 2019, the highest since the second quarter of 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence. And loans 30 days past due, a harbinger of future write-offs, increased at all seven of the largest U.S. card issuers.

When something is the worst that it has been in nearly 7 years, that is definitely a red flag.

At the 4 biggest U.S. banks, credit card charge-offs now account for a whopping 80 percent of all consumer credit costs…

The four largest U.S. banks had almost $4 billion in charge-offs from credit cards last quarter, and just $656 million from all other consumer lending. That’s the biggest gap since at least 2009. Card charge-offs now make up more than 80 percent of total consumer credit costs, up from 67 percent three years ago.

And a lot more charge-offs are coming down the pipeline, because credit card delinquencies are now the highest that they have been in almost 8 years

Not since the early part of this decade have so many U.S. consumers fallen behind on their credit cards and on auto loans arranged through car dealers, according to new bank industry data.

In the fourth quarter of last year, 3.22% of bank-issued credit card loans were at least 30 days late, which was higher than at any point since 2011, the data from the American Bankers Association showed.

U.S. consumers are being stretched financially to a degree that we haven’t seen since the last recession, and all the numbers indicate that this trend is only going to accelerate in the months ahead.

But of course bank executives are trying to spin things differently. Just consider the following comments from Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank

There’s been a “degradation” in credit quality for certain customers, according to Richard Fairbank, chief executive officer at Capital One Financial Corp., the country’s third-largest card issuer. Fairbank said some customers with negative credit events during the financial crisis are now seeing those problems disappear from their credit-bureau reports.

“We may be looking at data that might not paint the full picture of a consumer’s credit history,” Fairbank said Thursday on a conference call with analysts.

So according to Fairbank, the problem is not the economy.

No, it is those darn pesky credit reports that aren’t giving his firm enough credit information.

But the way that these credit card issuers are behaving actually indicates that they do believe that an economic storm is coming.

Late last year, they began rejecting more credit card applicants and they began unilaterally closing more accounts. The following comes from Consumer Affairs

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported in December that an increasing number of consumers were rejected when they applied for credit cards in 2018. The researchers said rejection rates were also up on applications to refinance mortgages. At the same time, credit card delinquencies were also rising.

It now appears that credit card companies saw the troubling trend by mid-2018 and were taking steps to limit their losses. The New York Fed report showed a sharp rise in the number of people who said a lender unilaterally closed one of their credit accounts — in most cases, a credit card or a store charge card.

Following articles such as this, I often have readers ask me how they can get prepared for what is ahead.

As far as credit card debt is concerned, I always encourage people to pay off their balances as quickly as they can. Credit card debt usually has a much higher rate of interest than other forms of debt, and when paying off debts it is usually a good idea to get rid of higher interest loans first.

Beyond that, now is not a time to be taking on new debts. During tough times, being “lean and mean” financially is an advantage, and credit card debt is a particularly insidious form of debt.

I know that things are tough out there right now for a lot of people. I often hear from people all over the country that are deeply struggling.

Living within your means can be really hard, but times are going to get a lot tougher, and those that can make due with what they have will be in a much better position to weather the coming storm.

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.

Uh Oh: The Number Of Job Openings In The U.S. Dropped By More Than Half A Million In Just One Month

According to the Labor Department, the number of job openings in the United States just plunged by the largest amount we have seen in nearly four years. The latest JOLTS report shows that the number of job openings has declined by 538,000, and that is a really big number for just a single month. But we shouldn’t be surprised by this at all, because it is perfectly consistent with all of the other dismal economic numbers that have been coming in recently. An economic slowdown is here, and many believe that it is just getting started.

Very briefly, let’s review some of the reasons why we should expect to see the employment numbers get worse. As the economy slows down, goods begin to pile up in our warehouses, and that is precisely what the numbers show. In fact, the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has now increased for five months in a row.

Fewer sales should result in less stuff being shipped around the nation by freight, rail and air, and this is yet another thing that we see happening right now. Overall, U.S. freight shipment volume has dropped for three months in a row.

Once businesses realize that economic conditions have changed, then they start reducing the number of job openings and laying off workers. That is why employment statistics are often referred to as “trailing indicators”. The employment numbers don’t usually start to go down until other indicators start dropping first.

And without a doubt, the employment numbers are starting to move. Continuing jobless claims have been rising at the most rapid pace in 10 years, and U.S. businesses have been adding jobs at the slowest pace in 18 months.

With all of that in mind, we should not be surprised at all by this latest number

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, tumbled by 538,000 to a seasonally adjusted 7.1 million, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, report on Tuesday. The drop was the biggest since August 2015.

That is a really dreadful number, and there is no way to spin it to make it look good.

One factor that is shifting the employment environment is all of the minimum wage laws that are being passed around the country.

A number of liberal enclaves have raised the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, and as a result a lot of small businesses have been forced to let workers go

In what has become just one more example of government intervention going the exact opposite of what socialists intend, minimum wage laws are driving a “payroll tsunami.” Small businesses are being forced to lay off workers in order to comply with a law demanding an increase in wages.

This isn’t all that surprising. Economists, small business owners, and other analysts have said that the net result of higher wages is a loss of jobs. And small businesses, who don’t have the capital or return that large corporations do, are feeling the proverbial pinch. According to Fox News, several mom-and-pop coffee shops and restaurants, are responding by cutting hours, eliminating jobs or closing down entirely because they can’t keep up with rising wages under the law.

My very first job was flipping burgers for McDonald’s, and I made $3.35 an hour doing it. As a teenager, I was grateful to have such a job, but now such minimum wage jobs are in danger. Wal-Mart and other major corporations are already making extensive use of robots to perform basic tasks, and making human workers more expensive is going to hurt those at the bottom of the economic food chain the most.

But for the moment, things are still relatively stable. Most Americans still seem to believe that the bubble of debt-fueled economic “prosperity” that we are currently enjoying is going to continue for the foreseeable future, and they are spending money as if tomorrow will never come.

According to Zero Hedge, U.S. consumer credit has now surged past the 4 trillion dollar mark…

After a few months of wild swings in mid 2018, in February US consumer credit continued to normalize, rising by $15.2 billion, slightly below the $17 billion expected, following January’s $17.7 billion increase. The continued increase in borrowings saw total credit storm above $4 trillion, and hit a new all time high of $4.045 trillion on the back of a America’s ongoing love affair with auto and student loans, and of course credit cards.

We better hope that the U.S. economy is able to pull out of this new slowdown, because most of us are living right on the edge financially.

Sadly, we never seem to learn. The same mistakes that we made last time around are all happening again, and Americans are completely and totally unprepared for what is coming.

And the warnings are all around us. On Tuesday, the IMF downgraded their forecast for global economic growth for the third time in six months. Commenting on this downgrade, IMF executive director Christine Lagarde noted that this is a “delicate moment” for the global economy…

Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s executive director, said the global economy is in a “delicate moment.”

“Only two years ago, 75% of the global economy experienced an upswing,” Lagarde said, according to the text of a speech she’s due to give at the US Chamber of Commerce. “For this year, we expect 70% of the global economy to experience a slowdown in growth.”

It is not often that I agree with a globalist like Christine Lagarde, but she is quite right in saying that this is a “delicate moment”.

Global economic numbers have not been this bad since the last financial crisis, and many believe that we have now reached a major turning point.

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.

Economic Slowdown Confirmed: Here Are 14 Very Alarming Numbers That Reveal The Current State Of The Economy

The economic numbers just continue to get worse and worse, and at this point it has become exceedingly clear that an economic slowdown is happening. In fact, even the chair of the Federal Reserve is using the term “slowdown” to describe what is taking place. But of course many are still hoping that the U.S. economy can pull out of this slump and avoid the sort of crippling recession that we experienced in 2008. Unfortunately, that may be really tough because the entire global economy is slowing down right now. Our world is more interconnected than ever before, and what happens on one side of the planet is invariably going to affect the other side of the planet. Some parts of the globe are already mired in deep economic problems, and the U.S. appears to be following down the same path.

If you still think that the economy is in “good shape”, please read over the following list very carefully.

The following are 14 very alarming numbers that reveal the true state of the economy…

#1 Continuing jobless claims are rising at the fastest pace in 10 years.

#2 U.S. businesses are adding jobs at the slowest pace in 18 months.

#3 General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Fiat Chrysler all reported sales declines of at least 5 percent on a year over year basis in March.

#4 Tesla vehicle deliveries were down a whopping 31 percent during the first quarter of 2019.

#5 U.S. consumer confidence fell more than 7 points in March.

#6 Manhattan real estate sales have now fallen for six straight quarters. That is the longest losing streak in 30 years.

#7 London real estate sales just dropped by the most we have seen in 10 years.

#8 The owner of Kay, Zales and Jared jewelers just announced that they will be closing 150 stores.

#9 Retail layoffs are 92 percent higher than they were at this time last year.

#10 U.S. freight shipment volume has fallen for three months in a row.

#11 The inventory to sales ratio in the United States has risen sharply for five months in a row.

#12 At this point, almost half of all renters in America spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent.

#13 The real median net income for Minnesota farmers was only $26,055 in 2018, and that was before many of them were absolutely devastated by the recent flooding.

#14 Overall, U.S. economic numbers are off to their worst start for a year since 2008.

We didn’t see economic numbers like this last year.

But now things have clearly changed. It is starting to feel more like 2008 with each passing day, and this is a point that Mac Slavo made in his most recent article

The signs of yet another economic recession are everywhere. In fact, it seems hard to find any positive economic news anymore, even though a mere few months ago, it was difficult to find a report signaling the United States might be headed for some turmoil.

These days, many people get offended at the thought that the U.S. economy is heading for trouble. But the truth is that we have been heading for trouble for a very long time.

Our economy is built on a foundation of sand. More specifically, we have borrowed our way into “prosperity”.

The other day, I wrote an article about our $22,000,000,000,000 national debt. It is the biggest single debt in the history of the world, and we continue to add to it at a rate that is absolutely insane. In fact, our 234 billion dollar deficit in February broke the all-time record for a single month. If we continue to do this, there is no way that our story ends well.

But that 22 trillion dollar debt is only a fraction of our overall debt.

When you add up all forms of debt in the United States, it comes to a grand total of more than 72 trillion dollars. And that doesn’t even include a single dollar of our unfunded liabilities on the federal, state and local level.

When Ronald Reagan took office, the total amount of debt in the U.S. was less than 5 trillion dollars.

When historians look back on this time in history, they will not be surprised that our society ultimately collapsed. What will surprise them is that it took so long for it to do so.

Sometimes I get criticized for urging people to get prepared. But those that really deserve the criticism are those that are assuring everyone that everything is going to be just fine. If we got the smartest minds in the entire country together and treated this like a major national emergency, perhaps we could find a way to engineer some sort of a soft landing when this debt bubble bursts.

But as it stands, there is no plan and our long-term problems get worse with each passing day. Our economy is headed for a crash of epic proportions, and it isn’t going to matter who is in power in Washington when it happens.

And at the rate that our economy is currently slowing down, America may become an economic horror show a lot sooner than many people had anticipated.

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 True Size Of The U.S. National Debt, Including Unfunded Liabilities, Is 222 Trillion Dollars

The United States is on a path to financial ruin, and everyone can see what is happening, but nobody can seem to come up with a way to stop it. According to the U.S. Treasury, the federal government is currently 22 trillion dollars in debt, and that represents the single largest debt in the history of the planet. Over the past decade, we have been adding to that debt at a rate of about 1.1 trillion dollars a year, and we will add more than a trillion dollars to that total once again this year. But when you add in our unfunded liabilities, our long-term financial outlook as a nation looks downright apocalyptic. According to Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff, the U.S. is currently facing 200 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, and when you add that number to our 22 trillion dollar debt, you get a grand total of 222 trillion dollars.

Of course we are never going to pay back all of this debt.

The truth is that we are just going to keep accumulating more debt until the system completely and utterly collapses.

And even though the federal government is the biggest offender, there are also others to blame for the mess that we find ourselves in. State and local governments are more than 3 trillion dollars in debt, corporate debt has more than doubled since the last financial crisis, and U.S. consumers are more than 13 trillion dollars in debt.

When you add it all together, the total amount of debt in our society is well above 300 percent of GDP, and it keeps rising with each passing year.

But for the moment, let’s just focus on the giant mountain of debt that the federal government has piled up. The U.S. budget deficit for last month was 234 billion dollars, and that was an all-time record for a single month. Our exploding debt is an existential threat to our nation, and we are literally destroying the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.

And it isn’t just a 22 trillion dollar debt that we are leaving them with. We have also made tens of trillions of dollars worth of future promises that we expect future generations to keep. These are called “unfunded liabilities” because we do not currently have the money to fulfill those obligations.

According to official government projections, the Social Security Administration is facing a 13 trillion dollar unfunded liability over the next 75 years, and Medicare is facing a 37 trillion dollar unfunded liability over the same time frame.

Adding those two numbers together, we get a grand total of 50 trillion dollars.

Where in the world would we ever be able to get so much money when we are already drowning in debt?

Unfortunately, as is so often the case with government projections, those unfunded liability numbers are actually wildly optimistic.

Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff has been studying our unfunded liability crisis for many years, and according to him the real number is 200 trillion dollars

Consumers will largely bear the brunt of the country’s financial ruin, according to Kotlikoff, which is why it is crucial to give them the power to make better financial decisions.

While the United States’ official debt is $20 trillion, the fiscal gap is really 10 times larger — $200 trillion. That comes from adding in off-the-book liabilities, including debt that’s in the Federal Reserve’s hands, Kotlikoff said.

If Kotlikoff is correct, that means that the true size of the financial obligation that we are imposing upon future generations is 222 trillion dollars, and that number just keeps rising month after month.

Many pundits speak of a day when America will be bankrupt in the future, but according to Kotlikoff we are bankrupt “right now”

But Kotlikoff’s dire prognosis for the United States is enough to wake anyone out of even the deepest summer slumber.

“The evidence is in front of our eyes that we’re bankrupt,” Kotlikoff said. “It’s not bankrupt in the future. It’s bankrupt right now.”

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be an easy way out. Any politician that would be foolish enough to even threaten to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits would be immediately voted out of office. America’s population is rapidly aging, and about half of America’s seniors don’t have anything saved for retirement

The bad news is that almost half of Americans approaching retirement have nothing saved in a 401(k) or other individual account. The good news is that the new estimate, from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, is slightly better than a few years earlier.

Of those 55 and older, 48 percent had nothing put away in a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan or an individual retirement account, according to a GAO estimate for 2016 that was released Tuesday.

America’s seniors are counting on us to keep the promises that we have made to them.

Sadly, it doesn’t appear that we are going to be able to do that for too much longer.

In the end, we are going to have to make some very tough choices. One Democrat actually started a petition to sell the state of Montana to Canada for a trillion dollars, and so far it has over 18,000 signatures. Of course we aren’t ever going to sell off pieces of our country, but we are going to have to find some way to come up with an enormous mountain of money.

When I ran for Congress last year, I made doing something about the national debt one of my top issues. Unfortunately, concern about the national debt is not a priority for either political party right now, and that is a huge mistake.

You can spend more money than you are bringing in for quite a while, but eventually a day of reckoning arrives. Anyone that has ever gone into too much credit card debt knows exactly what I am talking about. We have been on the biggest debt binge in the history of the world, and it has allowed us to enjoy a standard of living that is far beyond what we actually deserve, but the price that we will pay for such utter foolishness will be extremely painful indeed.

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 Chair Of The Federal Reserve Just Used The Term “Slowdown” To Describe What Is Happening To The U.S. Economy

Now even the Federal Reserve is publicly admitting that the U.S. economy is slowing down. And that is quite remarkable, because usually the Federal Reserve is extremely hesitant to say that an economic slowdown is taking place. As I pointed out the other day, in 2008 former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke kept insisting that a recession was not coming, but we found out later that a recession had already begun when he was making those statements. Normally the Federal Reserve tries very hard to paint a rosy picture of our economic future, and one of the big reasons for that is because they want us to believe that they are doing a good job and that they have everything under control. So it was quite stunning to hear Fed Chair Jerome Powell use the term “slowdown” to describe what is coming for the U.S. economy on Wednesday…

Citing a more modest outlook for the economy, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday held interest rates steady and signaled it did not plan to raise rates at all this year and would bump them up just once in 2020, providing a road map for a sustained period of easy-money policy.

“The U.S. economy is in a good place,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference, adding policymakers foresee “a modest slowdown, with overall conditions remaining favorable. We see no need to rush to judgment (by lifting or cutting rates).”

Admittedly, he did only say that it would be a “modest slowdown”, and so to most people that won’t sound that bad.

But this is the very first time that Powell has talked like this, and the truth is that the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model is currently forecasting that U.S. growth in the first quarter will be less than half a percent. Fed officials are hoping that growth will be better in the second quarter, but there is also a very strong possibility that the economy will continue to decelerate.

Because the economy is entering a “slowdown”, the Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday that it does not anticipate any more interest rate hikes for the rest of the year.

Normally Wall Street would experience a huge surge of euphoria upon hearing such news, but stocks were actually down on Wednesday

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed lower on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary-policy announcement dragged Treasury yields lower, pushing bank shares down.

Goldman Sachs led the 30-stock Dow to end the day down 141.71 points at 25,745.67. The S&P 500 closed 0.3 percent lower at 2,824.23. The Nasdaq Composite eked out a gain, closing 0.1 percent higher at 7,728.97.

This certainly could not have been the reaction that the Federal Reserve was hoping for.

Could it be possible that bad news for the U.S. economy is no longer good news for Wall Street?

Without a doubt, we are witnessing a huge wave of pessimism in the business community right now. Yesterday, I noted that Federal Express is talking as if a global recession had already started, and other corporate leaders are making similar statements.

For example, just consider what the CEO of banking giant UBS just said

The head of UBS was among the latest to blame the world’s backdrop for weaker-than-expected results. CEO Ermotti told a conference in London on Wednesday that it “one of the worst first-quarter environments in recent history,” Reuters reported. The Swiss bank slashed another $300 million from 2019 costs after revenue at its investment bank plunged. Investment banking conditions are among the toughest seen in years, especially outside the U.S., he said.

And the CFO of BMW told investors on Wednesday that BMW’s earnings may be exposed to “additional risks” from the global economy in the months ahead…

“Depending on how conditions develop, our guidance may be subject to additional risks; in particular, the risk of a no-deal Brexit and ongoing developments in international trade policy,” CFO Nicolas Peter said in BMW’s quarterly earnings report Wednesday.

Last, but certainly not least, the co-CEO of Samsung just said that his company is anticipating “slowing growth in major economies” for the remainder of 2019…

“We are expecting many difficulties this year such as slowing growth in major economies and risks over global trade conflicts,” Samsung Co-Chief Executive Kinam Kim said.

Here in the United States, whoever is in the White House at the time usually gets most of the credit or most of the blame for how the economy is performing.

But the truth is that President Trump did not create the financial bubble that caused the boom on Wall Street.

The Federal Reserve did.

And President Trump is not going to be responsible when that bubble bursts either.

The Federal Reserve has far, far more control over the performance of the U.S. economy than either the president or Congress does. And since the Federal Reserve was initially created in 1913, there have been 18 distinct recessions and/or depressions, and now we are heading into the 19th one.

If we want to finally get off this economic roller coaster ride permanently, we need to abolish the Federal Reserve. But this isn’t even part of the national political discussion at this point.

However, that could soon change. In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, we witnessed a huge backlash against the Federal Reserve system. Eventually that backlash subsided, but now that we are entering a new crisis, perhaps it is time to start dusting off all of those old “End the Fed” signs.

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.

FedEx Is Talking As If A Global Recession Has Already Begun – And The Numbers Back That Up

“Slowing international macroeconomic conditions” is just a fancy way to say that the global economy is in big trouble. For months, I have been warning that economic conditions are deteriorating, and we just keep getting more confirmation that we are facing the worst global downturn since the last financial crisis. For the second time in three months, FedEx has slashed its revenue forecast for this year. In an attempt to explain why revenue is declining, FedEx’s chief financial officer placed the blame squarely on the faltering global economy. The following comes from CNBC

The multinational package delivery service reported declining international revenue as a result of unfavorable exchange rates and the negative effects of trade battles.

“Slowing international macroeconomic conditions and weaker global trade growth trends continue, as seen in the year-over-year decline in our FedEx Express international revenue,” Alan B. Graf, Jr., FedEx Corp. executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in statement.

The use of the word “trends” implies something that has been going on for an extended period of time, and obviously FedEx doesn’t expect things to get better any time soon if they have cut profit projections twice in just the last three months.

And FedEx certainly has a lot of company when it comes to having a gloomy outlook for the global economy. In one recent article, Bloomberg boldly declared that the global economy is in the worst shape it has been “since the financial crisis a decade ago”

The global economy’s in its weakest shape since the financial crisis a decade ago, Bloomberg Economics analysis shows. And the reminders are all around: China got more affirming evidence of its big slowdown, with industrial output and retail sales softening and a jump in unemployment. The question now is how big that slowdown will be, and what China’s stimulus — and the U.S.-China negotiations — will do to put a floor under it. The Chinese premier pledged Friday that they wouldn’t use quantitative easing or massive deficit spending to ease the pain. Japan got more bad news on manufacturing sentiment and in the hard investment data. Germany, Europe’s growth driver, can’t hide from the daunting external risks. And Turkey just entered its first recession in a decade.

In recent weeks I have been sharing lots of numbers that back up the claim that global economic conditions are getting worse, and over the past few days we got a few more…

-U.S. freight volume has dropped for three months in a row.

-In February, orders for Class-8 freight trucks were down 58 percent from a year ago.

-U.S. manufacturing output was down for a second straight month in the month of February.

-U.S. residential construction spending just plunged for the sixth month in a row.

-Industrial production on a year-over-year basis in Europe has fallen for three months in a row.

When we see numbers like those, normally everyone is screaming “recession” by now.

And retailers continue to shut down at a staggering pace here in 2019. Sadly, we just learned that Shopko is officially heading for bankruptcy and liquidation

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.

There is a Shopko about 20 minutes from where I live, and it will definitely be missed.

Meanwhile, things just continue to get even harder for farmers in the middle part of the country. I wrote about the devastating impact that this historic flooding is having on Midwest farmers a few days ago, and now Fox Business is reporting that all of this flood damage is likely to make our rapidly growing farm bankruptcy crisis even worse…

The number of farms filing for bankruptcy already spiked, following low prices for corn, soybeans, milk and beef, according to analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. In the 12-month period ending in June, 84 farms filed for bankruptcy in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana — double the number over the same period in 2013 and 2014.

Now, some of these farmers have lost their livestock as a result of the devastating flooding. Some farmers, the Times reported, said they’ve been separated from their animals by walls of water, while others are unable to get into town for food and other supplies for the livestock.

We can see so many elements of “the perfect storm” starting to come together, and many believe that events are going to start greatly accelerating in the months ahead.

And as the global economy continues to deteriorate, we could quickly have a giant mess on our hands, because the global financial system is far more vulnerable today than it was in 2008. Just consider these numbers

Global debt levels have become “higher and riskier” than that of a decade ago, meaning that “another credit downturn may be inevitable”, S&P Global Ratings has warned.

In a report entitled Next Debt Crisis: Will Liquidity Hold?, published on Tuesday (12 March), S&P found global debt has surged by around 50% since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, led by major-economy governments and Chinese non-financial corporates, while global debt-to-GDP ratios have risen to more than 231%, compared with 208% in June 2008.

Shipping companies often feel the effects of an economic slowdown earlier than just about anyone else. When a lot less stuff is being moved around by truck, rail and air, that should be a clear indication for the rest of us that economic activity is really starting to slow down significantly.

So the fact that FedEx has such a bleak outlook for our immediate economic future is a very ominous sign.

Tough times are ahead, and considering how tense things already are in our country, an economic downturn at this time could ultimately set off a very disturbing chain of events.

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.

New Numbers Confirm That The Global Economy And The U.S. Economy Are The Weakest They Have Been Since The Last Recession

Even mainstream economists are admitting that economic activity is slowing down. And at this point that fact would be very difficult to deny, because the numbers are very clear. We haven’t faced anything like this in a decade, and many are deeply concerned about what is coming next. Will it be just another recession, or will it be an even greater crisis than we faced in 2008? According to Bloomberg Economics, the global economy experienced a “sharp loss of speed” over the course of 2008 and global economic conditions are now “the weakest since the global financial crisis”…

The global economy’s sharp loss of speed through 2018 has left the pace of expansion the weakest since the global financial crisis a decade ago, according to Bloomberg Economics.

Its new GDP tracker puts world growth at 2.1 percent on a quarter-on-quarter annualized basis, down from about 4 percent in the middle of last year. While there’s a chance that the economy may find a foothold and arrest the slowdown, “the risk is that downward momentum will be self-sustaining,” say economists Dan Hanson and Tom Orlik.

This is definitely the worst condition that the global economy has been in since I started The Economic Collapse Blog, and I am personally very alarmed about where things are heading. The tremendous economic optimism of early 2018 has given way to a tremendous wave of pessimism, and the speed at which the economic environment is changing has stunned a lot of the experts.

In fact, Bloomberg economists Dan Hanson and Tom Orlik openly admit that they are “surprised” by how quickly the global economy has shifted…

“The cyclical upswing that took hold of the global economy in mid-2017 was never going to last. Even so, the extent of the slowdown since late last year has surprised many economists, including us.

Of course the U.S. has not been immune from the changes. The U.S. economy is rapidly slowing down as well, and this is something that I have been heavily documenting on my website.

And now we have just received more confirmation that the economy is decelerating. The Atlanta Fed has just updated their GDPNow model yet again, and with this new revision they are now projecting that the U.S. economy will grow at a rate of just 0.2 percent during the first quarter of 2019…

Moments ago we got another confirmation of this, when following the latest retail sales report which saw a dramatic cut to December retail sales even as January surprised modestly to the upside, the Atlanta Fed slashed its Q1 GDP nowcast, and after rebounding modestly from 0.3% to 0.5% a week ago, it has once again slumped, and is now at the lowest recorded level, and just 0.2% away from economic contraction.

This is how the AtlantaFed justified its latest Q1 GDP cut, which as of March 11 was just 0.2 percent, down from 0.5 percent on March 8: “After this morning’s retail sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the nowcast of first-quarter real personal consumption expenditures growth declined from 1.5 percent to 1.0 percent.”

In other words, we are just a razor thin margin away from entering an economic contraction.

Last week, we learned that U.S. job cut announcements were up 117 percent in February when compared to last year. All of the economic momentum is in a negative direction right now, and it is going to be exceedingly difficult to avert a recession at this point.

And of course a lot of analysts believe that what is coming will be a whole lot worse than just a recession. The greatest debt bubble in the entire history of our planet is in the process of bursting, and the consequences are going to be absolutely horrific. I really like how financial expert Egon von Greyerz recently made this point

People must understand that the world has never faced risk of this magnitude. We are now in the final seconds of the global mega bubble, the likes of which the world has never seen before. What will happen next will be worse than the fall of the Roman Empire, much worse than the South Sea and Mississippi Bubbles, and will create a disaster that will dwarf the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The problem is simple to define and is all based around debts and liabilities. At the beginning of this century, global debt was $80 trillion. When the Great Financial Crisis started in 2006, global debt had gone up by 56% to $125 trillion. Today it is $250 trillion.

There is no way that a 250 trillion dollar bubble is going to burst in an orderly fashion. Essentially, we are looking at the sort of apocalyptic financial scenario that I have been warning about for a long time, and most people have no idea that it is coming.

And if people only listened to the financial authorities, it would be easy to get the impression that everything is going to be just fine.

For example, Fed Chair Jay Powell just told 60 Minutes that the outlook for the U.S. economy “is a favorable one”. The following comes from Fox Business

Jay Powell, the head of the Federal Reserve, says he does not see a recession hitting the U.S. economy anytime soon.

“The outlook for our economy, in my view, is a favorable one,” Powell said Sunday in an interview with CBS’s Scott Pelley for “60 Minutes.”

If you are tempted to believe Powell, let me remind you of what former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke told Congress in early 2008

“The U.S. economy remains extraordinarily resilient,” the U.S. central bank chief said in answering questions after testifying before the House of Representatives Budget Committee.

Bernanke added that growth will be worse this year. “We currently see the economy as continuing to grow, but growing at a relatively slow pace, particularly in the first half of this year,” he said.

Of course we all remember what happened next. The U.S. economy plunged into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and we are still dealing with the aftermath of that crisis to this day.

Nobody is going to ring a bell when the next recession starts. It is just going to happen, and just like last time, most Americans are going to be blindsided by it.

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.

U.S. Job Cut Announcements Rise 117 Percent To The Highest Level That We Have Seen In More Than 3 Years

We have not seen anything like this since the last recession. Layoff announcements are coming fast and furious now, and the speed at which workers are being laid off is shocking a lot of people. In this day and age, big companies have absolutely no loyalty to their workers. The moment it becomes financially advantageous for them to start laying off employees, most of them will do it in a heartbeat. I personally know someone that was an extremely hard worker and that put in extra time and effort for his company for many, many years, but he was just laid off because that is what the number crunchers determined was the right move. It is a cold, cruel world, and as we witnessed back in 2008, job losses can occur at a pace that is absolutely breathtaking when a recession strikes.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been documenting the numbers that indicate that a major economic slowdown has begun, and we may have gotten the biggest one so far on Thursday.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the number of job cut announcements in February was up 117 percent compared to the same period last year. The following comes from Fox Business

While many experts and investors are eagerly awaiting data on status of the labor market Opens a New Window. to be released by the government on Friday, a new report shows U.S. employers cut more jobs Opens a New Window. last month than they have in the past 3.5 years.

Even though it is the shortest month of the year, U.S. employers announced plans to cut 76,835 jobs last month, according to a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That’s a 117 percent year-over-year increase, and a 45 percent increase over January’s numbers.

You have to go all the way back to 2015 to find a month that was as bad as February.

Are you starting to see that the momentum for the economy has clearly shifted?

The economic news just keeps getting worse and worse as we roll through 2019, and the retail sector is being hit harder than just about anyone else.

In fact, retailers announced more job cuts in February than any other sector did

The retail sector had the most planned job cuts, with 41,201 so far this year – the highest January-February total since 2009. The industrial goods sector – including some manufacturers – followed with nearly 32,000 cuts announced during the same time period.

The primary reasons employers cited for eliminating positions were restructuring and bankruptcy.

This is being called a “retail apocalypse”, and we are on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closings in a single year.

At this point, retailers have already announced the closure of more than 5,300 stores. The following list of retailers that have announced that they are shutting down at least 10 locations comes from Business Insider

Payless ShoeSource: 2,500 stores
Gymboree: 805 stores
Family Dollar: 390 stores
Shopko: 251 stores
Chico’s: 250 stores
Gap: 230 stores
Performance Bicycle: 102 stores
Charlotte Russe: 520 stores
Sears: 70 stores
Destination Maternity: 42-67 stores
Victoria’s Secret: 53 stores
Kmart: 50 stores
Abercrombie & Fitch: 40 stores
Christopher & Banks: 30-40 stores
JCPenney: 27 stores
Beauty Brands: 25 stores
Henri Bendel: 23 stores
Lowe’s: 20 stores

And that list doesn’t even include the fact that Amazon is closing all 87 of its pop-up stores.

I have repeatedly warned that we will be facing a future of boarded up windows, empty retail stores and abandoned malls, and it is happening right in front of our eyes.

Of course it isn’t just the retail industry that is rapidly laying off workers. Here are just a few of the highlights from the workforce reduction announcements that we have seen in recent days…

-Tesla continues to struggle, and they have already laid off 8 percent of their entire workforce.

-Microsoft is cutting approximately 200 jobs in their commercial sales business.

-JP Morgan is steadily shutting down bank branches in lower income neighborhoods.

-We Work has announced that they have let 300 employees go.

-Devon Energy is eliminating about 200 workers.

-Whole Foods is cutting back worker hours.

-Encana has announced that it is laying off 274 workers in the Houston area.

-In North Carolina, Duke Energy has eliminated 1,900 positions.

-Ocwen Financial is planning to lay off approximately 2,000 workers over the course of 2019.

And in my article yesterday, I noted that General Motors is shutting down four major production plants this year.

It’s really happening.

The bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that we have been enjoying is disappearing, and the road ahead is going to be really rough.

On Thursday we also learned that U.S. household wealth has been plummeting. In fact, the fourth quarter of 2018 was the worst quarter for household balance sheets since the last financial crisis

Americans’ net worth fell at the highest level since the financial crisis in the fourth quarter of 2018 as sliding stock market prices ate into the household balance sheet.

Net worth dropped to $104.3 trillion as the year came to an end, a decrease of $3.73 trillion from the third quarter, according to figures released Thursday by the Federal Reserve. The fall amounted to a drop of 3.4 percent.

An increasing number of families are feeling financially squeezed these days, and many of them are accumulating large amounts of debt as they attempt to keep things going.

But for a lot of Americans that are currently drowning in debt, the end of the road has already been reached.

In an article that I posted yesterday, I noted that an all-time record 7 million Americans are behind on their vehicle payments, 37 million credit card accounts are considered to be “seriously delinquent”, and 166 billion dollars worth of student loans are now in the “seriously delinquent” category.

This is a consumer debt crisis that already surpasses the numbers that we witnessed during the last recession.

Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next. This is very much a developing story, and I will share new numbers with you as I get them in.

We haven’t experienced anything quite like this since 2008, and most Americans are completely unprepared for a new economic downturn.

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.

Deadbeat Nation: 37 Million Credit Card Accounts In The U.S. Are “Seriously Delinquent” Right Now

Is the consumer debt bubble finally starting to burst? If the latest numbers on delinquent credit card accounts are any indication, that appears to be precisely what is happening. As I noted the other day, Americans currently have 480 million credit cards, and they are carrying 870 billion dollars worth of balances on those cards. That is one giant pile of debt, but there won’t be a problem as long as the vast majority of Americans regularly make their credit card payments. Unfortunately, the number of credit card accounts that are delinquent has been steadily rising, and now we are being told that the number of “seriously delinquent” accounts has shot up to 37 million

At the end of 2018, Americans struggled to make payments on the country’s $870 billion worth of credit card debt.

About 37 million credit card accounts were marked as seriously delinquent in the fourth quarter, meaning they were 90 or more days past due, an increase of two million from the same period a year earlier.

Remember, those accounts are not just behind. We are talking about accounts that are at least 90 days past due.

It appears that the credit card industry has a burgeoning crisis on their hands.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans that are behind on their auto loan payments has reached an unprecedented level as well.

At this moment, more than 7 million Americans are delinquent on their auto loan payments. That is a brand new all-time record, and it smashes the highest level that we witnessed during the last recession by about a million.

If things are this bad already, how high will these numbers go once we get really deep into the next recession?

The student loan debt bubble is starting to burst as well. According to the most recent numbers, over 166 billion dollars in student loan debt is considered to be “seriously delinquent”. That number has never been higher in all of U.S. history.

Right now, millions of Americans are deeply struggling with student loan debt, and an increasing number of them have decided to give up on making payments completely.

In an effort to combat this, the industry is encouraging a massive crackdown, and what we are currently witnessing in Florida may soon be coming to the rest of the nation. The following comes from Zero Hedge

Some 1,000 healthcare workers have lost their licenses to practice in Florida due to their inability to pay off their student debt, a new report claims. The “crackdown”, as described, could potentially put hundreds of people out of work, and comes as a result of student loan companies lobbying states to enact laws that punish those who default on their loans by taking away their professional licenses. However, so far Florida is the only state actually enforcing the law.

Adam Walser, an investigative reporter for ABC, found that the state Board of Health had suspended more than 900 healthcare licenses, including those belonging to registered nurses, nurses assistants and pharmacists, over the last two years. There are additionally 12 other states that still have the power to take away healthcare licenses for unpaid student loans. However, officials in those states said that they haven’t suspended any licenses over the last two years.

In the middle part of the country, farm debt is a major story right now.

Farm debt delinquencies have hit the highest level that we have seen in 9 years, and the global trade war has pushed many family farms to the brink of bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that things are going to get any better for them any time soon.

But I bet that you aren’t hearing much about any of this on the news, are you?

Instead, we are being inundated by mindless stories that really don’t matter. For example, there is supposedly a huge “controversy” about whether Kylie Jenner is really a “self-made” billionaire or not.

Who cares?

Our country is literally coming apart all around us, and we are supposed to obsess about Kylie Jenner?

On Wednesday, we learned that Dollar Tree Inc. will be closing up to 390 Family Dollar stores in 2019. When you add that to the other store closings that have already been announced this year, it brings the grand total to nearly 5,000.

Can the mainstream media please talk about our ongoing “retail apocalypse” a little bit more? That is far more important to the daily lives of most Americans than Kylie Jenner.

The U.S. economy is in really rough shape at this moment, and even the president of the New York Fed is now admitting that our economy will slow down “considerably” this year…

The US economy should slow “considerably” in 2019 as the boost from last year’s economic stimulus fades, the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank said Wednesday.

Amid economic uncertainty, the Federal Reserve could “wait” before raising interest rates again, John Williams said in remarks to the Economic Club of New York.

For many Americans, the economic horror show of 2008 and 2009 is nothing but a fading memory at this point. But the truth is that what is coming is going to be even worse than that. Our financial system is far more vulnerable that it was in 2008, and our debt levels are far, far higher.

This unsustainable bubble of debt-fueled prosperity that we have been enjoying in recent years has lasted for far longer than it should have, and it is just a matter of time before things dramatically deteriorate.

And if the recent debt delinquency numbers that I just shared with you are any indication, we are a lot closer to economic doomsday than most people would dare to imagine.

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.

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.

A Metaphor For America: 700 Pound Man Plans To Eat And Play Video Games While Naked Until He Dies

34-year-old Casey King is so obese that he can’t work, he has to bathe outside in a trough like a pig, and he has to rely on his father to constantly take care of him. He now weighs more than 700 pounds, but he just keeps on eating massive amounts of unhealthy food. Just like America as a whole, he has absolutely no self-discipline and absolutely no desire to turn his life around. On some level he understands that he is literally killing himself with his destructive behavior, but he does not have a desire to change. Instead, he told TLC that he “will just eat until I am dead”

Featuring in a TLC TV series called Family by the Ton, Casey said: “I will just eat until I am dead, probably.

“I wake up around 12, figure out something I’m going to eat immediately [then it’s] TV, video games, bed — it’s not a lot of activity.”

Because of the hot weather in Georgia he prefers to skip clothes, wearing only a headset through which he uses to chat to other gamers playing online.

It is easy to criticize Casey for his lack of activity, but he is really not too different from most other Americans.

As I have written about before, the average American spends approximately five hours a day watching television. We are willingly plugging ourselves into “the propaganda matrix” for thousands upon thousands of hours, and of course that is going to greatly affect our outlook on life and how we see the world.

But of course most Americans don’t watch television and play video games while naked. But for Casey, clothes have become too restricting and so he just sits on his bed naked all day long

‘It’s hot in Georgia, and all my clothing is restricting and tight, so I just sit there naked, free as can be and no one bothers me — door’s shut, we’re good,’ he explained.

The gaming community has become a safe space for him because it allows him to escape his everyday life.

‘I’m accepted in all those virtual reality worlds and the gaming world I’m in,’ he said. ‘No one sees me. That is my outside. That is my world that I can be the Casey I want to be, but not be judged on my weight.’

The only reason why Casey is able to live this kind of lifestyle is because his father takes care of him and pays all the bills.

And on a much grander scale, isn’t this what our country is turning into? Young adults are flocking to socialist ideas because they want the nanny state to take care of them from the cradle to the grave and give them everything for free.

At 34 years of age, Casey should be in the prime of his life, but instead he is utterly dependent on his father as he waits around to die. He needs a reason to live, and right now he doesn’t have one. In the end, this is not how he anticipated his life would turn out

‘I never would’ve thought at 34 I’d be living with my father, and I’d have no job, have no real money, and just be playing video games all day and eating,’ he said.

It would be really easy to look down on Casey, but the truth is that our nation is just like him in so many ways.

At this point, we are a nation that completely lacks self-discipline. Obesity is at an all-time high in the United States, millions of us are addicted to legal and illegal drugs, we have one of the highest rates of alcoholism on the planet, 37 percent of all Americans have eaten fast food within the last 24 hours, and the CDC says that 110 million Americans currently have a sexually-transmitted disease.

But when I first learned about Casey, I didn’t think about any of those things.

Instead, I thought about our exploding mountain of debt. Like Casey, we just can’t stop ourselves from going back for more. We have been on the greatest debt binge in the history of the world, but our hunger just keeps growing.

In just a matter of days, the U.S. national debt will hit the 22 trillion dollar mark, but nobody in Washington seems to care. But if you were to sit down and talk with most of our politicians, they would ultimately admit that all of this debt is an existential threat to our nation. It is just that they completely lack the willpower to do anything about it.

We know that what we are doing is definitely going to kill us, but we are not willing to change.

Meanwhile, state and local government debt levels are at record highs, public and private pensions are unfunded by trillions upon trillions of dollars, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, auto loan debt is at an all-time high, credit card debt is absolutely soaring, and student loan debt has roughly tripled over the last decade.

So please don’t be too critical of Casey, because the truth is that he would make a perfect poster boy for what we have become as a nation.

When people point to a modestly good short-term economic number as some sort of “victory”, I just laugh, because the truth is that all of those numbers are fueled by record amounts of debt.

During 2018, we added close to 1.4 trillion dollars to our national debt. If all of that money was pulled out of the economy and we had only been spending what we had been bringing in, we would be in the worst depression in American history right now.

The only way we can maintain our economic facade is by endlessly gorging ourselves on debt, but in the process we are literally destroying the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.

In the final analysis, what we are doing to ourselves as a nation makes Casey King look like a sharp, disciplined, athletic young man in comparison.

If we keep doing this to ourselves, we have no future, and nobody can argue 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.

Is It Okay That Christmas Is All About Materialism?

How would you feel about Christmas if there were absolutely no gifts at all? That may sound like a very strange question, but I think that it is a very important one, because the truth is that our biggest holiday of the year by far is all about materialism. According to ABC News, the average American will shell out $700 for Christmas presents in 2018, and the National Retail Federation is projecting that total Christmas spending will surpass $465,000,000,000. Only 25 countries on the entire planet have a GDP that is greater than that number. Ultimately, Christmas is defined by what we give and what we get, but is that actually healthy?

When I was growing up, my siblings and I couldn’t wait for Christmas to arrive, and honestly it was all about the presents. We spent endless hours looking over the toy catalogs, we made long lists of stuff that we wanted, and we impatiently counted down the days as we waited for the 25th to arrive.

Would we have felt the same way if there had been no gifts at all?

Of course not.

And today the “holiday season” lasts longer than ever. As an excellent Psychology Today article noted, Christmas ads now begin “as soon as Halloween is done”…

The ads now start as soon as Halloween is done. Shiny cars with huge bows on top (what’s the surcharge on those bows, I wonder?), do-everything-for-you screens portrayed to make a person’s dreams come true, toy after toy after toy tied in to the latest blockbuster movie. Any kid who consumes even the tiniest amount of media is bombarded with the message that the Winter holidays, especially Christmas, involve stuff, stuff and more stuff. That getting material goods equals warmth and love. That the “magic” of Christmas comes from what lies underneath that wrapping paper.

This year, my wife actually saw Christmas trees for sale in a major retailer before Halloween.

And why are Christmas trees greatly cherished by millions upon millions of Americans?

It is because of the presents that we put underneath them. If you take away the presents, would Christmas trees have the same appeal?

No way.

And the same thing is true for Santa.

What would Santa be without Christmas presents? In the end, he would just be a creepy old guy in a red suit climbing down our chimneys in the middle of the night.

Needless to say, this orgy of materialism can put a lot of financial stress on American families, and one recent survey discovered that nearly half the country feels pressured “to spend more than they’d like on holiday gifts”

According to a recent survey from the personal-finance website Bankrate, almost half of Americans feel pressured to spend more than they’d like to on holiday gifts, with parents especially likely to feel put upon. When presented with a slew of options that might lessen their financial stress, respondents were most willing to entertain the idea of giving gifts only to their immediate family or of seeking out coupons and sales—64 percent and 57 percent, respectively, said those courses of action would be acceptable. Those surveyed rated other alternatives—giving homemade gifts, regifting, or buying things secondhand—as much less enticing. At the very bottom of the list was skipping gifts entirely, which received a tepid 13 percent approval rating.

That last sentence made me chuckle. Even if it means going very deep into credit card debt, most Americans simply hate the idea of “giving up Christmas”.

But isn’t Christmas actually supposed to have some sort of religious meaning?

Yes, and one recent poll discovered that 65 percent of all Americans believe that “Christmas should be more about Jesus”

A new study from LifeWay Research found two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) say, “Christmas should be more about Jesus.”

That sounds quite noble, and if you stopped reading there you would think that our hearts are in the right place. But then the very next paragraph tells us that the percentage of Americans that want the focus of Christmas to be more on the birth of Jesus has fallen by 14 percent in just 4 years

Those looking for more Christ in Christmas in 2018, however, are significantly fewer than four years ago. A 2014 LifeWay Research study found 79 percent of Americans at that time said Christmas should be more about Jesus.

Oh.

That is not good at all.

And there is just one more survey that I have got to share with you. In this politically-correct era, more than a quarter of all Americans would like to make Santa either female or “gender neutral”

Among fanciful suggestions such as dreadlocks, shaving his beard, and driving a limousine, the survey found that 10.6 percent would make Santa female, and 17.2 percent would make him “gender neutral,” for a combined total of 27.8 percent.

“I picture a woman giving presents,” New Jersey resident Andy Souza told News 12 New Jersey. “I just feel like a white, old man giving presents is kind of creepy.” Another resident, John Lerman, said Santa “can be whatever you want it to be” because “I think Santa is a mystical creature.”

Santa may change, but the truth is that gift giving at this time of the year is not going to go away.

In fact, gifts were being exchanged long before this holiday ever became known as “Christmas”. In ancient Rome, the pagan festival at this time of the year was known as “Saturnalia”, and gift giving was a key element

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves.[1] A common custom was the election of a “King of the Saturnalia”, who would give orders to people and preside over the merrymaking. The gifts exchanged were usually gag gifts or small figurines made of wax or pottery known as sigillaria. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days”.[2]

Similar festivals were held in most of the ancient pagan cultures. Several hundred years after the time of Christ these practices were “Christianized”, and “Christmas” was born.

So it kind of makes sense that even as much of the world is becoming less “religious”, the holiday of Christmas is being embraced globally like never before.

And the big reason why Christmas is so universally loved is because of the presents. People love to get stuff, and that is not going to change any time soon.

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 Mainstream Media Declares That This Is “The Worst Time In Decades To Make Money In The Markets”

It looks like the turmoil for the financial markets is going to continue to get worse, and the mainstream media is really starting to freak out. Just a few months ago, they were continuously using the word “booming” to describe the state of the U.S. economy and they were assuring us that the stock market was going to continue to go up. But after a couple of really bad months, there has been a dramatic psychological shift. Instead of telling us that everything is going to be great, now the mainstream media is starting to sound just like The Economic Collapse Blog. For example, Bloomberg just posted an article with this rather startling headline: “It’s the worst time in decades to make money in the markets”

Market statisticians are falling over each other in 2018 to describe the pain being felt across asset classes. One venerable shop frames it this way: Things haven’t been this bad since Richard Nixon’s presidency.

Ned Davis Research puts markets into eight big asset classes — everything from bonds to U.S. and international stocks to commodities. And not a single one of them is on track to post a return this year of more than 5 percent, a phenomenon last observed in 1972, according to Ed Clissold, a strategist at the firm.

Usually there are at least a few asset classes that are making money, but in 2018 nothing is working.

And it appears that Wednesday is going to be another really tough day on Wall Street. As I write this article, Dow futures are down more than 300 points, and that almost certainly means that the Dow will be pushed well below the 25,000 threshold.

As I have discussed before, 25,000 is a key psychological resistance barrier for the Dow. If stock prices break through that barrier and don’t immediately bounce back, the rush for the exits could become a stampede.

The biggest piece of news that is rattling investors at the moment is the fact that Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng was just arrested in Canada, and it looks like she will be extradited to the United States. She is also the daughter of the founder of the company, and that makes her a very powerful woman in China.

Needless to say, the Chinese are very upset about this, and they are promising to “take all measures” to protect her “legitimate rights”. The following comes from their official statement

At the request of the US side, the Canadian side arrested a Chinese citizen not violating any American or Canadian law. The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim. The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms. Meng Wanzhou. We will closely follow the development of the issue and take all measures to resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.

Unless Meng is released, and that seems very doubtful at this point, you can absolutely forget about any sort of a “truce” between the United States and China.

Sadly, most Americans don’t really understand what is happening. Most Americans are still entirely convinced that the U.S. and China are “friends”, but that was never really accurate. At best, we were “frenemies”, but now relations have taken an extremely sour turn.

In the months ahead, relations between the United States and China will almost certainly continue to deteriorate, and the two largest economies on the entire planet will increasingly decouple from one another. This will be a decidedly negative development for the entire global economy, but there is no going back at this point.

And we continue to get more confirmation that the global economic slowdown is starting to accelerate. For example, Reuters just announced that it will be eliminating 3,200 jobs

Thomson Reuters Corp said on Tuesday that it will cut its workforce by 12 percent in the next two years, axing 3,200 jobs, as part of a plan to streamline the business and reduce costs.

The news and information provider, which completed the sale of a 55-per cent stake in its Financial & Risk (F&R) unit to private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, announced the cuts during an investor day in Toronto, in which it outlined its future strategy and growth plans.

We have also gotten more evidence that consumer credit is really starting to tighten up. The following numbers come from Business Insider

Rejection rates for credit-card applicants came in at 20.8% in the October survey, up from 14.4% a year ago, while the rejection rate for credit-limit increases ticked up to 31.7%, compared with 24.9% a year ago.

Meanwhile, the proportion of respondents who had an account shut down by a lender reached its highest level since the Fed launched the “Credit Access Survey” in 2013. In October, 7.2% of surveyed consumers reported having an account involuntarily shut down in the previous 12 months, up from 5.7% last year and 4.2% in 2016.

The reason why rejection rates and account shutdowns are soaring is because credit card debt delinquency rates have been rising.

More Americans are getting behind on their credit card payments, and this is spooking a lot of financial institutions. But if consumer credit really tightens up, that is going to cause economic activity to slow even further, and that will just make a very deep recession even more inevitable.

Sadly, debt bubbles do not last forever. The big credit card companies can see what is happening, and they are trying to protect themselves.

On a national level, “the Everything Bubble” is now beginning to burst, and for many investors the goal has shifted from “maximizing returns” to “wealth preservation”.

Unfortunately just about every single asset class is doing poorly right now, and as Zero Hedge has noted, that means that “there’s nowhere to run”…

The inability of any single asset class to escape the dismal black hole supergravity of devastating losses in a brutal post-BTFD catharsis that has mutated into an equal-opportunity rout, crushing returns across all assets, has left investors reeling, shellshocked and paralyzed, and dreading what may come tomorrow let alone next year when both the US economy and corporate earnings are expected to see their supercharged recent growth rates come crashing back down to earth.

Such a uniform underperformance by all assets is unique in history, because when “something falls, something else gains. Amid the financial catastrophe of 2008, Treasuries rallied. In 1974, commodities were a bright spot. In 2002, it was REITs.” Yet, in 2018, there’s nowhere to run.

The bull market survived for much longer than many were anticipating, but now the party is over.

Nobody is quite sure exactly what is going to happen next, but there is a growing consensus that whatever is going to happen is likely to be very painful.

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.

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.

America Is Committing Suicide: Over The Past 12 Months, The U.S. National Debt Has Increased By 1.271 Trillion Dollars

If we do not change course, our once great nation will be destroyed by a debt that has grown wildly out of control. We are facing an unprecedented debt crisis that literally threatens to bring our country to an end, and yet our politicians are almost entirely silent on this issue in 2018. In fact, Republicans and Democrats just worked together to pass another big, fat spending bill through Congress that is actually going to increase the pace at which we are going into debt. What the Republicrats are doing is not just wrong. To be honest, the truth is that they are committing crimes against humanity, and they are completely wiping out the very bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have. How in the world is America supposed to be “great again” when we are buried in so much debt that future generations can never have any possible hope of getting free from it?

The fiscal year of the federal government goes from October 1st to September 30th. During the fiscal year that just ended, the U.S. national debt increased by 1.271 trillion dollars

The federal debt increased by $1,271,158,167,126.72 in fiscal 2018, according to data released today by the Treasury.

The total federal debt started the fiscal year at $20,244,900,016,053.51 according to the Treasury, and finished the fiscal year at $21,516,058,183,180.23.

This is one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Washington. Our current “representatives” are completely and utterly failing us.

Once upon a time, at least members of the Tea Party would stand up and say something, but these days nobody seems to care that America’s future is being systematically destroyed. Republicans have been in control of both houses of Congress, but our debt problems just continue to get worse and worse. And the truth is that the budgets that have been passed since Donald Trump became president are simply slightly revised Obama budgets. The Republicans have allowed the Democrats to have their way time after time, and it has been absolutely disgusting to watch.

In 8 of the past 11 fiscal years, the U.S. national debt has risen by more than a trillion dollars, and the U.S. national debt is now sitting at an all-time record high of 21.52 trillion dollars.

What we are doing is literally insane, and if we want our nation to survive we must change course immediately.

These days, there is a lot of discussion about the political gains that “Democratic socialists” have been making all over America, and Republicans are trying to assure us that the American people don’t actually want socialism.

But you know what?

We have already gone most of the way down the road toward socialism. I think that Ron Paul made this point very well in his most recent article

We know socialism does not work. It is an economic system based on the use of force rather than economic freedom of choice. But while many Americans seem to be in a panic over the failures of socialism in Venezuela, they don’t seem all that concerned that right here at home President Trump just signed a massive $1.3 trillion dollar spending bill that delivers socialism on a scale that Venezuelans couldn’t even imagine. In fact this one spending bill is three times Venezuela’s entire gross domestic product!

Did I miss all the Americans protesting this warfare-welfare state socialism?

If you are really against socialism, you should be fighting for the federal government to be greatly reduced in size and scope.

But so few Americans seem to believe in true limited government these days.

It would be a great first step if we would actually try to start living within our means. But if 1.271 trillion dollars of government spending was pulled out of the economy over the past 12 months, the result would be a horrible economic depression. And politicians do not like economic downturns, because when things get bad voters tend not to vote for incumbents. So they just keep going into more debt and they keep kicking the can down the road.

But if we stay on the path that we are currently on, the CBO says that the United States will be 99 trillion dollars in debt by 2048.

Of course we will never actually ever get to 99 trillion dollars in debt. America will cease to exist long before we ever reach that mark.

If we want to save America, we must take action now, but very few people seem to even care about our exploding debt at this point.

And it isn’t just our national debt that is the problem. State and local government debt is at record levels all over the nation, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, and U.S. consumers are more than 13 trillion dollars in debt

If you added up the personal debt of every American — what they owe on their mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and more — the total is staggering. Collectively, we’re $13.2 trillion in the red. That’s the highest ever, according to the New York Fed.

Yet no one seems to be panicking. Maybe that’s because we can’t comprehend $13 trillion. Imagine buying every NFL team. And every NBA team. And every NHL team. And every Major League Baseball team. But that only adds up to $191 billion.

America is committing suicide in slow-motion, and it is an absolutely heartbreaking thing to witness.

It is almost as if we lack the will to survive as a nation. All we seem to care about is our comfort level at this moment, and we don’t want anyone to tell us that we have to cut back on anything. I think that Chris Martenson summed things up very well in his most recent piece

Nothing grows forever. Cancer tries, but always defeats itself in the process. Yeast parties until all the sugar in the vat is gone or it pollutes itself out of an active existence.

Can humans do better? The jury is still out on that.

But so far, the signs say that, as a group, we lack the ability to organize effectively against big, complex challenges. Especially if doing so requires us to willingly choose to live a life of less. We’re simply too addicted to more.

We cannot continue to go down this road.

Because at the end of this road is not just economic collapse. What we are talking about is literally the end of the United States of America.

All throughout history, great societies have been done in by greed, sloth, corruption and laziness, and we are headed down the exact same path. If we want to survive, emergency surgery is necessary, but at this point nobody is even tending to the dying patient.

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.

We Are About To See A Great, Big Debt-Fueled GDP Number For The 2nd Quarter, But There Is A Catch…

What kind of number for GDP growth in the 2nd quarter will we get on Friday?  The market consensus is somewhere around 4 percent, but there are many out there that are expecting a number above 5 percent.  The last time we witnessed such a number was during the third quarter of 2014 when the U.S. economy grew by 5.2 percent.  If Friday’s GDP figure is better than that, it will be the best report that we have had since 2003.  But let’s keep things in perspective.  In seven of the last 10 years, GDP growth was much lower than anticipated in the first quarter and much higher than anticipated in the second quarter.  It looks like that pattern may play out again in 2018, and analysts are already warning us to expect a much lower number for the third quarter.

And even though we have seen good quarters before, we still have not had a full year of 3 percent growth since the middle of the Bush administration.

Last year the U.S. economy grew by only 2.3 percent, which would be a horrible figure even if the government was using honest numbers.  According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, GDP growth for 2017 would have actually been negative if honest numbers were being used.

So let’s not get too excited over one quarter.  According to the official government numbers, the U.S. economy has not grown by at least 3 percent on an annual basis in 14 years.  That is the longest stretch in all of U.S. history by a wide margin, and it is going to take a really good second half to break that string this year.

But that isn’t stopping people from hyping tomorrow’s number.  According to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, we should see a number “in the 4 to 5 percent zone”

“You’re going to get a GDP number on Friday that’s going to be a very impressive number. Some people are in the 4 to 5 percent zone,” Larry Kudlow, the White House economic adviser, told CBS This Morning.

And he is probably right.

In fact, we might see a number that is even better than that.

As CBS News has noted, the second quarter came after the new tax cuts were implemented but before the trade war started…

The second-quarter figure will be widely seen as a referendum on the GOP tax cuts of late 2017. This quarter benefits from a timing sweet spot, coming after the deficit-busting cuts trickled through the economy, but before the effects of the White House’s protectionist trade policies are fully felt.

If we get a really good number, it may actually be bad news for investors.

As Marketwatch has deftly observed, a high GDP growth number may affirm the Federal Reserve’s narrative that they need to keep raising rates in order to keep the economy from “overheating”…

Ultimately, a reading that comes in too hot could fuel expectations that the Federal Reserve may need to ramp up its pace of rate increases, with the possibility of a further two rate increases in September and December likely to tamp down too-hot growth. That could knock bond prices lower, conversely pushing rates up and pressuring equity markets lower as investors worry about rising borrowing costs.

Ultimately, most of the analysis that you are going to hear about this GDP number is a load of nonsense.

The only reason why the U.S. economy is showing a little bit of growth is because we are on the greatest debt binge in our history.

When Donald Trump entered the White House the U.S. government was 19.9 trillion dollars in debt, and now that figure has ballooned to 21.2 trillion dollars in debt.

If we had not added 1.3 trillion dollars to the national debt over the past year and a half, there is no way that the economy would be growing right now.

And to be honest, it wouldn’t be too difficult to ramp up GDP growth to 10 percent.  All we would have to do would be to borrow and spend enough money.

So why don’t we do that?

Well, it is because we are already on a path to national suicide.  It is being projected that our national debt will hit 30 trillion dollars by 2028, and neither the Republicans nor the Democrats seem concerned about doing anything to alter this trajectory.

If we do get to 30 trillion dollars in debt and interest rates return to their long-term averages, we will be paying more than 1.5 trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt and our nation will be financially destroyed.

Many of our largest states are absolutely drowning in debt as well.  The following comes from Fox Business

In Illinois, for instance, vendors wait months to be paid by a government that’s $30 billion in debt, and one whose bonds are just one notch above junk bond status, according to Daniels. New York’s more than $356 billion in debt; New Jersey more than $104 billion; and California more than $428 billion.

As I have explained so many times, we are living a debt-fueled standard of living that is way above what we deserve.

If we only spent what we had, the economy would immediately plunge into a depression and our standard of living would collapse.  The only way to keep the party going is to borrow and spend increasingly larger amounts of money, but everyone knows that this is simply not sustainable.

And it isn’t just government debt that is the problem.

Since the last financial crisis, corporate debt has doubled.

A massive consumer debt binge has pushed credit card debt to an all-time record high, and at this point the average American household is nearly $140,000 in debt.

When you add all forms of debt together, Americans are nearly 70 trillion dollars in the hole right now.  For much more on all of this, please see my previous article entitled “Why America Is Heading Straight Toward The Worst Debt Crisis In History”.

So enjoy the debt-fueled GDP numbers for now, because the truth is that they aren’t going to last for long.

Our endless appetite for debt is literally destroying the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have, and someday they will look back and curse us for what we have done to their country.

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.

U.S. Consumers On An Unprecedented Debt Binge As Credit Card Debt Soars To An All-Time Record High

Americans are on an absolutely spectacular debt binge. Does this mean that the economy is getting better, or does this mean that U.S. consumers are totally tapped out and are relying on borrowed money to make it from month to month? On Monday, the Federal Reserve announced that total consumer credit in the United States increased by a whopping 24.6 billion dollars in May, which was far greater than the 12.4 billion dollar gain that economists were anticipating. Total U.S. consumer credit has now hit a grand total of 3.9 trillion dollars, but it is the “revolving credit” numbers that are getting the most attention. Revolving credit alone shot up by 9.8 billion dollars in May, and that was one of the largest monthly increases ever recorded. At this point, total “revolving credit” has reached a brand new all-time record high of 1.39 trillion dollars, and credit card debt accounts for nearly all of that figure.

The optimists will tell us that this is yet another sign that the U.S. economy is booming, and hopefully they are correct.

But does it really make sense for U.S. consumers to go on a historic debt binge when much of the country is already drowning in debt and just barely scraping by from month to month?

In a previous article, I pointed out that U.S. consumers have been spending more money than they make for 28 months in a row.

That certainly isn’t sustainable.

I also pointed out that 22 percent of all Americans cannot pay all of their bills in a typical month.

One way to keep things going is to use newer credit cards to pay off the older ones, and I am sure that most of us have been there at some point.

But we are getting to the point where American families are being absolutely overwhelmed by debt.

If you go all the way back to 1980, the average U.S. worker’s debt was 1.96 times larger than his or her monthly salary. In 2018, that number has skyrocketed to 5.00.

Is that healthy or unhealthy?

Overall, American households are now collectively 13.15 trillion dollars in debt, which is the highest level ever recorded.

So I would submit that rising consumer debt is not a good sign. Instead, I would suggest that it shows that our debt problems are accelerating.

And the numbers appear to support that hypothesis.

According to one recent survey, 42 percent of U.S. consumers said that they paid their credit card bill late “at least once in the last year”. And that same survey also found that 24 percent of U.S. consumers made a late payment “more than once in the last year”.

When you pay a credit card bill late, what happens?

Late fees kick in and interest rates shoot up, and that is when debt problems can really start to escalate.

Sadly, the mainstream media continues to encourage Americans to acquire and use credit cards in order “to build credit”

Building your credit is one of the toughest but most necessary financial tasks when you’re entering the working world, and a credit card—when used correctly—can be a great tool to help you secure lower interest rates on a car or house loan.

According to Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub, a credit card will help you in the long run. “Getting a credit card and using it responsibly helps people build their credit. Having good credit leads to getting better rates and paying less interest on loans such as mortgages, car loans, personal loans etc.”

Yes, credit cards can be useful tools as long as you keep them paid off.

Unfortunately, much of the country does not do that.

In fact, the same survey that I just referenced above discovered that 22 percent of all consumers believe that “carrying a balance on a credit card account actually helps improve a credit score”.

That isn’t true, but it is a myth that continues to float around out there, and the credit card companies are not exactly discouraging it.

Another reason to avoid using credit cards a lot is because thieves are becoming much more sophisticated.

This time of the year, electronic skimmers at gas stations are commonly used to steal credit card information

Skimmers are small, electronic devices installed secretly at pumps and able to capture a swiped payment card’s protected data, the agency said. Commercial keys purchased online let fraudsters access pumps often left unattended, according to a report from ABC News.

Thieves then return later to retrieve the devices or transmit it remotely via Bluetooth, before using the information to make purchases, Matthew O’Neil, a representative of the agency, told the network.

Of course I am not saying that people should never use credit cards. They can make it much easier to shop and do business online, and I use them myself. But I always pay them off each month because credit card debt is one of the most toxic forms of debt.

Today, the national average for credit card interest rates is 16.92 percent. So let’s imagine a hypothetical for a few moments. If you are carrying a $10,000 balance at 17 percent, your minimum payment would typically be around $240 a month.

If you only make the minimum payment each month, it will take you 340 months to pay that credit card off, and over that time you will pay $13,607.46 in interest.

In other words, you will ultimately pay the credit card company $23,607.46 for the privilege of originally borrowing $10,000.

We live at a time when there is so much uncertainty, and if things take a substantial turn for the worse you definitely do not want to be struggling with credit card debt.

Because it typically carries such a high interest rate, credit card debt is usually one of the very first forms of debt that you want to get paid off. Unfortunately, they don’t teach our young people about the dangers of credit card debt in school, so many of them end up learning the hard way.

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.

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.

Would You Like To Steal 128 Million Dollars?

What would you do with 128 million dollars? Many people like to daydream about winning the lottery, and I have to admit that when I was much younger I would do the same thing. If you were suddenly financially set for life, you could quit your job, buy your dream home, travel the world and spend your days doing whatever you felt like doing. We only get one trip through this crazy journey called life, and an enormous mountain of cash could make the journey a whole lot nicer. So if you could steal 128 million dollars and be absolutely certain that you could get away with it, would you do it?

You would probably be surprised at how many people out there would answer that question affirmatively. Money is a very powerful motivator, and if the fear of getting caught was out of the equation a lot of people out there would certainly be willing to “bend the rules” for a cool 128 million dollars.

But let’s turn this around for a moment.

What if someone stole 128 million dollars from you?

How would you feel about that?

Every crime has a victim, and losing that amount of money would be unimaginable.

Perhaps you think that this scenario is way too outlandish to even be considering. After all, who in the world could steal 128 million dollars from someone and get away with it?

Well, what if I told you that this has been happening every day?

And what if I told you that this has actually been happening every single hour of every single day for many years?

When Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. national debt was just over 10.6 trillion dollars, and when he left the White House 8 years later it was sitting just shy of 20 trillion dollars.

So during those 8 years more than 9 trillion dollars was added to the national debt. But for purposes of this example we will round down to an even 9 trillion dollars.

When you divide 9 trillion dollars by 8, you get an average of 1.125 trillion dollars that was added to the national debt per year during the Obama era.

Dividing that figure by 365, you find that an average of $3,082,191,780 was added to the national debt every single day during the Obama administration.

And since there are 24 hours in a day, that means that an average of $128,424,657 was stolen from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day while Barack Obama was president.

When you borrow and spend 128 million dollars that you do not have every single hour of every single day, of course that is going to have a huge impact on the economy. I am often asked why we are not in a horrendous economic depression yet, and this is one of the biggest reasons. If we were to go back and take 9 trillion dollars of government spending out of the economy over the last eight years, we would be in the worst depression in American history right now.

But even with all of this added debt, the U.S. economy has still only grown at an average yearly rate of just 1.33 percent over the past 10 years, and that is absolutely terrible.

Our leaders in D.C. were able to prop things up in the short-term by going on the greatest debt binge in U.S. history, but of course they have also made our long-term financial problems much, much worse in the process.

Many people don’t realize this, but the growth of the national debt was actually accelerating as the Obama era drew to a close. In fact, we added more than 1.4 trillion dollars to the debt during fiscal year 2016.

Once upon a time a lot of people out there would get really upset about the growth of our debt, but these days most Americans seem to have accepted that this is how we do things. This fiscal liberals seem to have won, and our nation is steamrolling down a road toward financial oblivion.

When you point out the economic disasters in Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, it doesn’t seem to register with most Americans that our country is on the exact same path.

By borrowing money, you can live way above your means for a while, but eventually you have to pay a price for being so reckless. This has been true all throughout human history, and it will be true in our case as well.

In a letter to John Taylor on November 26th, 1798, Thomas Jefferson explained that he wished that he could have added one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution…

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our constitution; I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of it’s constitution; I mean an additional article taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

Jefferson wrote extensively about how government debt is a way for one generation to steal money from another generation.

And what we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is absolutely inexcusable.

The term “child abuse” is not nearly strong enough to describe what is taking place, and I don’t know why more people are not seething with anger over what is being done to them. I am going to do whatever I can to stop this madness, and I hope that you will help me.

Have you ever run up a lot of credit card debt? If you really wanted to, you could go out today and start living like a millionaire by running up huge credit card balances. But eventually a day of reckoning would arrive, and you would get to a point where your debts were no longer sustainable.

It is the same thing on a national level. We have been living way beyond our means for quite a while, but we have been stealing from future generations in order to do it.

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.

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)

The Tens Of Millions Of Forgotten Americans That The U.S. Economy Has Left Behind

The evidence that the middle class in America is dying continues to mount. As you will see below, nearly half the country would be unable “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”, and about two-thirds of the population lives paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time. Of course the economy has not been doing that well overall in recent years. Barack Obama was the only president in all of U.S. history not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and U.S. GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017 was an anemic 0.7 percent. During the Obama era, it is true that wealthy enclaves in New York, northern California and Washington D.C. did thrive, but meanwhile most of the rest of the country has been left behind.

Today, there are approximately 205 million working age Americans, and close to half of them have no financial cushion whatsoever. In fact, a new survey conducted by the Federal Reserve has found that 44 percent of Americans do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”

Nearly eight years into an economic recovery, nearly half of Americans didn’t have enough cash available to cover a $400 emergency. Specifically, the survey found that, in line with what the Fed had disclosed in previous years, 44% of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense like a car repair or medical bill, or would have to borrow money or sell something to meet it.

Not only that, the same survey discovered that 23 percent of U.S. adults will not be able to pay their bills this month

Just as concerning were other findings from the study: just under one-fourth of adults, or 23%, are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full while 25% reported skipping medical treatments due to cost in the prior year. Additionally, 28% of adults who haven’t retired yet reported to being grossly unprepared, indicating they had no retirement savings or pension whatsoever.

But just because you can pay your bills does not mean that you are doing well. Tens of millions of Americans barely scrape by from paycheck to paycheck each and every month.

In fact, a survey by CareerBuilder discovered that 75 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time…

Three-quarters of Americans (75 percent) are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. Thirty-eight percent of employees said they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck, 15 percent said they usually do and 23 percent said they always do. While making ends meet is a struggle for many post-recession, those with minimum wage jobs continue to be hit the hardest. Of workers who currently have a minimum wage job or have held one in the past, 66 percent said they couldn’t make ends meet and 50 percent said they had to work more than one job to make it work.

So please don’t be fooled into thinking that the U.S. economy is doing well because the stock market has been hitting new record highs.

The stock market was soaring just before the financial crisis of 2008 too, and we remember how that turned out.

The truth is that the long-term trends that have been eating away at the foundations of the U.S. economy continue to accelerate, and the real economy is in substantially worse shape this year than it was last year.

Just about everywhere you look, businesses are struggling and stores are shutting down. Yes, there are a few wealthy enclaves where everything seems wonderful for the moment, but for most of the country it seems like the last recession never ended.

In a desperate attempt to stay afloat, a lot of families have been turning to debt to make ends meet. U.S. household debt has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 trillion dollars, but we are starting to see an alarming rise in auto loan defaults and consumer bankruptcies. This is precisely what we would expect to see if the U.S. economy was moving into another major recession.

In fact, we are seeing all sorts of signs that point to a major economic slowdown right now. Just check out the following from Wolf Richter’s latest article

Over the past five decades, each time commercial and industrial loan balances at US banks shrank or stalled as companies cut back or as banks tightened their lending standards in reaction to the economy they found themselves in, a recession was either already in progress or would start soon. There has been no exception since the 1960s. Last time this happened was during the Financial Crisis.

Now it’s happening again – with a 1990/91 recession twist.

Commercial and industrial loans outstanding fell to $2.095 trillion on May 10, according to the Fed’s Board of Governors weekly report on Friday. That’s down 4.5% from the peak on November 16, 2016. It’s below the level of outstanding C&I loans on October 19. And it marks the 30th week in a row of no growth in C&I loans.

Perhaps we will be very fortunate and break this pattern that has held up all the way back to the 1960s.

But I wouldn’t count on it. Here is what Zero Hedge has to say about this alarming contraction in commercial and industrial loans…

Here’s the bottom line: unless there is a sharp rebound in loan growth in the next 3-6 months – whether due to greater demand or easier supply – this most accurate of leading economic indicators guarantees that a recession is now inevitable.

We are way overdue for a recession, the hard economic numbers are screaming that one is coming, and the financial markets are absolutely primed for a major crash.

As Americans, we tend to have such short memories. Every time a new financial bubble starts forming, a lot of people out there start behaving as if it can last indefinitely.

But of course no financial bubble is going to last forever. They all burst eventually, and now the biggest one in U.S. history is about to end in spectacular fashion.

Trump will get a lot of the blame since he is the current occupant of the White House, but the truth is that the conditions for the next crisis have been building up for many years, and the horrors that the U.S. economy is heading for were entirely predictable.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

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