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.

Imports From China Hit Record High As U.S. Trade Deficit Continues To Explode

It should upset you that virtually everything stocking the shelves of our major retailers seems to have been made somewhere else. As a nation, we are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and that is a recipe for national economic suicide. This week we learned that imports from China hit an all-time record high in October, and that was one of the primary reasons why our trade deficit hit a staggering 48.7 billion dollars during that month. Year after year we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and this is systematically impoverishing us.

Let me put this another way. The amount of money that leaves our country each month is far greater than the amount of money that comes into it. When you grasp this concept, it becomes easy to understand why major exporting nations such as China have become so wealthy, and why we are drowning in debt.

Sadly, most Americans don’t understand the trade deficit, and so they don’t understand how important news like this really is. The following comes from Bloomberg

The U.S. trade deficit widened in October to a nine-month high on record imports that reflect steady domestic demand, Commerce Department data showed Tuesday.

The surge in imports probably reflected merchants preparing for the holiday-shopping season. Consumer goods imports increased almost $800 million, including a $303 million gain in cell phones and other household goods, as well as more inbound shipments of furniture, appliances, toys and clothing.

Since China joined the WTO in 2001, the United States has lost more than 70,000 manufacturing facilities and millions of good paying manufacturing jobs. Formerly great manufacturing cities such as Detroit now resemble war zones, but until Donald Trump came along nobody seemed to really care very much about what was happening.

Of course the Chinese are going to keep taking advantage of us for as long as they can. They slap all sorts of tariffs and fees on our goods, and meanwhile we allow them to flood our shores with their products. As a result, our trade deficit with China keeps hitting record high after record high

Record imports from China helped drive up the U.S. trade deficit 8.6 percent in October as retailers stocked up for the holidays, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Goods and services coming into the U.S. from China, Mexico and the European Union all hit record levels, which boosted the trade gap to $48.7 billion from $44.9 billion in September. It’s the highest monthly trade deficit recorded since President Trump took office.

President Trump is precisely correct when he says that our trade agreements are not fair to American workers and American businesses. We will always need to trade with the rest of the world, but we need to do so in a way that is fair for both sides. As a member of Congress, I will fight tirelessly for American workers, and if you believe in what I am trying to do I hope that you will join the team.

We simply cannot stand by and do nothing. Our trade deficits are absolutely killing our long-term economic future, and the only way that we have been able to maintain our standard of living is by going on the greatest debt binge in human history.

If we truly want to make America great again, we need to start making things in America again, and we need to start sending leaders to Washington that understand these issues.

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.

Goodbye American Dream: The Average U.S. Household Is $137,063 In Debt, And 38.4% Of Millennials Live With Their Parents

Once upon a time the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world, but now the middle class is steadily being eroded. The middle class became a minority of the population for the first time ever in 2015, and just recently I wrote about a new survey that showed that 78 percent of all full-time workers in the United States live paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time. But most people still want to live the American Dream, and so they are going into tremendous amounts of debt in a desperate attempt to live that kind of a lifestyle.

According to the Federal Reserve, the average U.S. household is now $137,063 in debt, and that figure is more than double the median household income…

The average American household carries $137,063 in debt, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest numbers.

Yet the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the median household income was just $59,039 last year, suggesting that many Americans are living beyond their means.

As a nation, we are completely and utterly drowning in debt. U.S. consumers are now nearly 13 trillion dollars in debt overall, and many will literally spend the rest of their lives making debt payments.

Over the past couple of decades, the cost of living has grown much faster than paychecks have, and this has put a tremendous amount of financial stress on hard working families. We are told that we are in a “low inflation environment”, but that is simply not true at all

Medical expenses have grown 57% since 2003, while food and housing costs climbed 36% and 32%, respectively. Those surging basic expenses could widen the inequality gap in America, as a quarter of Americans make less than $10 per hour.

Getting our healthcare costs under control is one of the biggest things that we need to do. As I talked about the other day, some families have seen their health insurance premiums more than triple since Obamacare became law.

As the cost of living continues to rise, an increasing number of young people are discovering that the only way that they can make ends meet is to live with their parents. As a result, the percentage of adults age 26 to age 34 that live at home continued to rise even after the last recession ended…

The share of older Millennials living with relatives is still rising, underscoring the lingering obstacles faced by Americans who entered the workforce during and after the Great Recession.

About 20% of adults age 26 to 34 are living with parents or other family members, a figure that has climbed steadily the past decade and is up from 17% in 2012, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by Trulia, a real estate research firm.

A staggering 59.8 percent of younger Millennials (18 to 25) are now living with relatives, and overall an all-time record 38.4 percent of all Millennials are currently living with family.

If so many of our young people are unable to live the American Dream, what is the future of this nation going to look like?

Consumers are not the only ones that have been struggling to make ends meet. Corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, and it now stands at a record high of 8.7 trillion dollars

Fueled by low interest rates and strong investor appetite, debt of nonfinancial companies has increased at a rapid clip, to $8.7 trillion, and is equal to more than 45 percent of GDP, according to David Ader, chief macro strategist at Informa Financial Intelligence.

According to the Federal Reserve, nonfinancial corporate debt outstanding has grown by $1 trillion in two years.

“Everything is fine until it isn’t,” Ader said. “We don’t need to worry about that until we’re in a slowdown and profit declines.”

And let us not forget government debt. State and local governments all over the nation have piled up record amounts of debt, and the debt of the federal government has approximately doubled over the past decade.

But the fact that we are now 20 trillion dollars in debt as a nation does not tell the full story. According to Boston University professor Larry Kotlikoff, the federal government is facing a fiscal gap of 210 trillion dollars over the next 75 years…

We have all these unofficial debts that are massive compared to the official debt. We’re focused just on the official debt, so we’re trying to balance the wrong books…

If you add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, including defense expenditures, and you subtract all the taxes that we expect to collect, the difference is $210 trillion. That’s the fiscal gap. That’s our true indebtedness.

We were the wealthiest and most prosperous nation in the history of the planet, but that was never good for us.

We always had to have more, and so we have been on the greatest debt binge in human history.

Now a day of reckoning is fast approaching, and those that believe that we can escape the consequences of our actions are being extremely delusional.

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.

March 2017: The End Of A 100 Year Global Debt Super Cycle Is Way Overdue

For more than 100 years global debt levels have been rising, and now we are potentially facing the greatest debt crisis in all of human history. Never before have we seen such a level of debt saturation all over the planet, and pretty much everyone understands that this is going to end very, very badly at some point. The only real question is when it will happen. Many believe that the current global debt super cycle began when the Federal Reserve was established in 1913. Central banks are designed to create debt, and since 1913 the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 6800 times larger. But of course it is not just the United States that is in this sort of predicament. At this point more than 99 percent of the population of the entire planet lives in a nation that has a debt-creating central bank, and as a result the whole world is drowning in debt.

When people tell me that things are going to “get better” in 2017 and beyond, I find it difficult not to roll my eyes. The truth is that the only way we can even continue to maintain our current ridiculously high debt-fueled standard of living is to grow debt at a much faster pace than the economy is growing. We may be able to do that for a brief period of time, but giant financial bubbles like this always end and we will not be any exception.

Barack Obama and his team understood what was happening, and they were able to keep us out of a horrifying economic depression by stealing more than nine trillion dollars from future generations of Americans and pumping that money into the U.S. economy. As a result, the federal government is now 20 trillion dollars in debt, and that means that the eventual crash is going to be far, far worse than it would have been if we would have lived within our means all this time.

Corporations and households have been going into absolutely enormous amounts of debt as well. Corporate debt has approximately doubled since the last financial crisis, and U.S. consumers are now more than 12 trillion dollars in debt.

When you add all forms of debt together, America’s debt to GDP ratio is now about 352 percent. I think that the following illustration does a pretty good job of showing how absolutely insane that is

If your brother earns $100,000 in annual income and borrowed $10,000 on his credit card, he could consume $110,000 worth of stuff. In this example, his debt to his personal GDP is just 10%. But what if he could get more credit year after year and reached a point where his total debt reached $352,000 but his income remained the same. His personal debt-to-GDP ratio would now be 352%.

If he could borrow at super low interest rates, maybe he could sustain the monthly loan payments. Maybe? But how much more could he possibly borrow? What lender would lend him more? And what if those low rates began to rise? How much debt can his $100,000 income cover? Essentially, he has reached the end of his own debt cycle.

The United States is certainly not alone in this regard. When you look all over the industrialized world, you see similar triple digit debt to GDP figures.

When this current debt super cycle ultimately ends, it is going to create economic pain on a scale that will be unlike anything that we have ever seen before. The following comes from King World News

That is the inevitable consequence of 100 years of credit expansion from virtually nothing to $250 trillion, plus global unfunded liabilities of roughly $500 trillion, plus derivatives of $1.5 quadrillion. This is a staggering total of $2.25 quadrillion. Therefore, the question is not what could go wrong since it is guaranteed that all these liabilities will implode at some point. And when they do, it will bring misery to the world of a magnitude that no one could ever imagine. It is of course very difficult to forecast the end of a major cycle. As this is unlikely to be a mere 100-year cycle but possibly a 2000-year cycle. It is also impossible to forecast how long the decline will take. Will it be gradual like the Dark Ages, which took 500 years after the fall of the Roman Empire? Or will the fall be much faster this time due to the implosion of the biggest credit bubble in world history? The latter is more likely, especially since the bubble will become a lot bigger before it implodes.

And there are certainly lots of signs that a global slowdown is already beginning. For example, global trade growth has fallen below 2 percent for only the third time since the year 2000. On each of the other occasions, we witnessed a horrible recession take place. For more signs that economic conditions are deteriorating, please see my previous article entitled “Recession 2017? Things Are Happening That Usually Never Happen Unless A New Recession Is Beginning“.

Of course much of the globe is already in the midst of a horrible economic crisis. Brazil is in the middle of their worst recession ever, and people are literally starving in Venezuela. A new round of debt problems has erupted in Europe, with Greece, Portugal and Italy being the latest flashpoints.

Just like in 2007, many are mocking the idea that the a major economic downturn is coming to the United States. They believe that the ridiculously high stock market valuations of today can stick around indefinitely, and they are putting their faith in politicians.

But it won’t be too long before a new economic crisis begins in America and the kind of civil unrest that I portray in “The Beginning Of The End” erupts all across the country.

I just don’t understand why more people cannot see this. Government debt, corporate debt and consumer debt have all been growing much, much faster than the overall economy. Can someone please explain to me how that could possibly be sustainable in the long-term?

Someone that I considered to be a mentor but that has since passed away once said that things would seem like they would be getting better for a little while before the next crash comes.

And it turned out that he was precisely correct. We are in a season of time when economic conditions have appeared to be getting a little bit better in the United States, and this has blinded so many people to the truth of what is about to happen to us.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Generation Snowflake: Percentage Of Young Adults Living With Their Parents Hasn’t Been This High Since 1940

snowflake-public-domain

Have we failed this generation of young adults by not equipping them to be able to handle the harsh realities of the real world? According to the Wall Street Journal, the percentage of Americans in the 18 to 34-year-old age bracket that are currently living with their parents hasn’t been this high in 75 years. At this point nearly 40 percent of our young adults in that age range are living at home, and many are concerned that this could have some alarming implications for the future of our nation.

In the United States today, more than 60 million people live in multi-generational households, and it is a good thing to have a tight family. But at some point young adults need to learn how to live their own independent lives, and in millions of cases this independence is being delayed or is never happening at all.

There are many factors involved in this trend. First of all, there is truly a lack of good jobs despite what we are being told about an “economic recovery”. Millions of young adults are graduating from college only to discover that there is a very limited number of good jobs available for our college graduates. So some college graduates are able to secure the types of jobs that they were hoping for, but millions of others are not.

Normally when a recession ends, the percentage of young adults living with their parents starts to go back down. But this has not happened this time around. Instead, the percentage of young adults that live at home has just continued to rise

The trend runs counter to that of previous economic cycles, when after a recession-related spike, the number of younger Americans living with relatives declined as the economy improved.

The result is that there is far less demand for housing than would be expected for the millennial generation, now the largest in U.S. history. The number of adults under age 30 has increased by 5 million over the last decade, but the number of households for that age group grew by just 200,000 over the same period, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Another major factor in all of this is the fact that Americans are getting married later in life than ever before and they are having fewer kids than previous generations.

In the old days, people got married young and they set up their own households even if they were dirt poor. But these days we have hordes of single young adults that are perfectly content to sit at home and sponge off of Mommy and Daddy.

There seems to be a real lack of toughness to this generation of young adults, and many that have perceived this lack of toughness have resorted to referring to them as “Generation Snowflake”. Over the past 12 months this term has become so common that the Guardian has dubbed it “the defining insult of 2016″…

Until very recently, to call someone a snowflake would have involved the word “generation”, too, as it was typically used to describe, or insult, a person in their late teens or early 20s. At the start of November, the Collins English Dictionary added “snowflake generation” to its words of the year list, where it sits alongside other vogue-ish new additions such as “Brexit” and “hygge”. The Collins definition is as follows: “The young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations”. Depending on what you read, being part of the “snowflake generation” may be as benign as taking selfies or talking about feelings too much, or it may infer a sense of entitlement, an untamed narcissism, or a form of identity politics that is resistant to free speech.

The phrase came to prominence in the UK at the beginning of 2016, after Claire Fox, director of the thinktank Institute of Ideas, used it in her book I Find That Offensive to address a generation of young people whom she calls “easily offended and thin-skinned”.

Of course there are exceptions. I have some close friends that are young adults in this age range, and they are extraordinary people.

But overall, we seem to have dramatically failed this generation. Maybe it is because we tend to baby our children from a very early age, and we want to protect them from danger so much that we never allow them to be exposed to the challenges that they need to face in order to toughen up and mature.

And it certainly doesn’t help that many of our young adults enter “the real world” already drowning in tens of thousands of dollars of debt. According to CNN, about 70 percent of all college graduates in the U.S. will leave school with student loan debt, and the average loan balance for those college graduates is approximately $28,950. Paying off student loan debt can be extremely painful, and it can be financially crippling for young people that are just trying to start their new lives.

When our high school kids are looking toward the future, we very much encourage them to go to the very best schools that they can possibly get into, and we tell them to not even worry about the cost. We promise them that there will be plenty of good jobs once they graduate, and we push them into these loans without even warning them to consider the future implications.

According to a stunning article in the Wall Street Journal, many Baby Boomers are actually having money taken out of their Social Security checks because of unpaid student loans. So when you go into student loan debt, it can literally haunt you for the rest of your life…

The government has collected about $1.1 billion from Social Security recipients of all ages to go toward unpaid student loans since 2001, including $171 million last year, the Government Accountability Office said Tuesday. Most affected recipients in fiscal year 2015—114,000—were age 50 or older and receiving disability benefits, with the typical borrower losing about $140 a month. About 38,000 were above age 64.

The report highlights the sharp growth in baby boomers entering retirement with student debt, most of it borrowed years ago to cover their own educations but some used to pay for their children’s schooling. Overall, about seven million Americans age 50 and older owed about $205 billion in federal student debt last year. About 1 in 3 were in default, raising the likelihood that garnishments will increase as more boomers retire.

What we are doing is clearly not working, but I am not particularly optimistic that this system will be fixed any time soon.

If you are a young person, you need to have a solid plan before pursuing an expensive college education. Many young people just major in anything that they want without even considering if it will lead to a good career. And instead of working hard to graduate in four years, many decide that they want to stretch the “college experience” out for five or six years so that they can party as much as possible before entering the real world.

The real world is a cold, cruel place, and if you start your new life drowning in debt that is just going to make things even more difficult for you.

On a personal note, I want to thank everyone that has supported the growth of The Most Important News. It is a central news hub where you can find all of my articles, posts by incredible guest authors and many of the key news stories from all over the globe all gathered in one place. Some technical issues have forced the site to be down for extended periods of time lately, but now it is being migrated to a much more powerful server. I will not be updating it during the migration, but I should resume a normal posting schedule again very soon.

And I would like to thank all of my readers for making 2016 an absolutely amazing year. I love you all, and I wish you all the very best as we head into what should prove to be a very “interesting” 2017.

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

Dozens Shot Over Memorial Day Weekend As The Collapse Of Chicago Accelerates

Gang Violence - Public Domain

Chaos and violence threaten to spiral out of control in America’s third largest city, and nobody seems to have any idea how to solve the problem. After decades of control by the radical left, many parts of the “Windy City” have become rotting, decaying, gang-infested hellholes. Just like Detroit, the city of Chicago is rapidly becoming a joke to the rest of the world, but a horribly corrupt political culture likely stands in the way of any type of major reform any time soon. And just like much of the rest of the nation, a spirit of violence and civil unrest is rising in Chicago. So far this year, the number of shootings in Chicago is up 50 percent compared to the same time period last year, and that was before we even got to Memorial Day weekend. As of Sunday morning, at least 40 people had already been shot, and authorities were bracing for even more violence as the holiday weekend stretched on…

A string of nearly two dozen shootings on the West Side has pushed the number of people shot during the Memorial Day weekend to at least 40, with two more days to go.

As of early Sunday morning, the toll stood at four dead and 36 wounded across the city, including a 15-year-girl shot to death as she rode in a Jeep on Lake Shore Drive near Fullerton Avenue, police said.

The cries to fix what is wrong with Chicago are becoming increasingly desperate, but at this point the city is drowning in debt and is pretty much flat broke.

So the options for doing anything about this growing crisis are quite limited.

But that isn’t stopping prominent city leaders from speaking out. According to the New York Times, Rev. Corey Brooks believes that “we could be looking at a blood bath” this summer if nothing changes…

“If something doesn’t change, if we don’t get jobs for these kids, if we don’t change the economic situation, I’m worried that we could be looking at a blood bath,” said the Rev. Corey Brooks, a pastor on the city’s South Side, a mostly African-American area where some of the shootings have been concentrated. “If something doesn’t happen, I fear that we’re potentially looking at one of the worst summers we’ve ever had.”

As of Friday morning, homicides in Chicago were up 52 percent in 2016, compared with the same period a year ago, and shootings had increased by 50 percent, though the pace of violence had slowed in recent weeks, the police said.

I believe that Rev. Brooks is correct, but he isn’t identifying the core of the problem.

Thanks in large part to unchecked illegal immigration, gang membership has been surging in Chicago. Back in 2012, the Chicago Crime Commission estimated that there were 150,000 gang members living in the city, but of course by now that number is likely far higher.

No city in the United States has a higher population of gang members than Chicago does, and hundreds of factions are constantly battling for turf. The police in Chicago insist that they have the situation under control, but everyone can see that they do not.

And how could they? There are only 13,318 law enforcement officers of all types in the city of Chicago. They are outnumbered by the gangs by much more than a 10 to 1 margin. There is no way in the world that they are ever going to be able to stop the gang violence. All they can do is hope to contain it.

Sadly, they are fighting a losing battle, because with each passing month thousands more gang members cross our southern border illegally and head directly for our major cities where they are warmly received by their gang brothers.

Perhaps this helps to explain why 3,000 millionaires left the city of Chicago last year.

Do you want to know somewhere else that has been controlled by the radical left for decades and that is now seeing chaos and violence spin out of control?

In Venezuela, we get to see what it looks like when an entire country starts to shut down. The following comes from the New York Times

The courts? Closed most days. The bureau to start a business? Same thing. The public defender’s office? That’s been converted into a food bank for government employees.

Step by step, Venezuela has been shutting down.

This country has long been accustomed to painful shortages, even of basic foods. But Venezuela keeps drifting further into uncharted territory.

At this point, more than 80 percent of all basic consumer products are in short supply, and some people have become so desperate that they are actually hunting cats and dogs for food. My wife and I had a lot more to say about the rapidly deteriorating situation down in Venezuela during a recent episode of our new television show. It is so important to watch what is going on down there right now, because eventually the same things will be happening here in America too.

When society breaks down, people become very desperate, and crime spirals out of control. The mafia and the gangs are having a field day at the moment, and the police are so overwhelmed that they can’t do much to stop them.

And if you need medical treatment down in Venezuela right now, you might as well forget it

The Luis Razetti Hospital in the portal city of Barcelona looks like a war zone.

Patients can be seen balancing themselves on half-broken beds with days-old blood on their bodies.

They’re the lucky ones; most are curled up on the floor, blood streaming, limbs blackening.

Children lie among dirty cardboard boxes in the hallways without food, water or medication.

Without electricity or functioning machines, medics have had to create their own solutions. Two men who had surgery on their legs have their limbs elevated by makeshift slings made out of water bottles.

Most Americans would scoff at the suggestion that we could ever see scenes like that in the United States, but just a few years ago most Venezuelans would have probably said the exact same thing.

For so long, watchmen all over America have been endlessly warning people to get prepared.

But at some point, time runs out.

In fact, down in Venezuela time has already run out. Store shelves all over the country are empty, there are chronic shortages of basic supplies, some people are hunting dogs and cats for food, and there has been an almost total breakdown of public services.

I wish that I could say that these kinds of conditions are only going to be limited to Venezuela. But I cannot say that. Great suffering is going to eventually spread all over the world, and that is going to include our own nation.

I hope that you are using this short period of relative stability wisely, because it will be gone way too soon.

Business Debt Delinquencies Are Now Higher Than When Lehman Brothers Collapsed In 2008

Insolvent - Public Domain

You are about to see more very clear evidence that a new economic crisis has already begun. During economic recoveries, business debt delinquencies generally fall, and during times of economic recession business debt delinquencies generally rise. In fact, you will see below that business debt delinquencies shot up dramatically just prior to the last two recessions, and the exact same thing is happening again right now. In 2008, business debt delinquencies increased at a very frightening pace just before Lehman Brothers collapsed, and this was a very clear sign that big trouble was ahead. Unfortunately for us, in 2016 business debt delinquencies have already shot up above the level they were sitting at just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and every time debt delinquencies have ever gotten this high the U.S. economy has always fallen into recession.

In article after article, I have shown that key indicators for the U.S. economy started falling in either late 2014 or at some point during 2015. Well, business debt delinquencies are another example of this phenomenon. According to Wolf Richter, business debt delinquencies have shot up an astounding 137 percent since the fourth quarter of 2014…

Delinquencies of commercial and industrial loans at all banks, after hitting a low point in Q4 2014 of $11.7 billion, have begun to balloon (they’re delinquent when they’re 30 days or more past due). Initially, this was due to the oil & gas fiasco, but increasingly it’s due to trouble in many other sectors, including retail.

Between Q4 2014 and Q1 2016, delinquencies spiked 137% to $27.8 billion.

And we never see this kind of rise unless the U.S. economy is heading into a recession. Here is more from Wolf Richter

Note how, in this chart by the Board of Governors of the Fed, delinquencies of C&I loans start rising before recessions (shaded areas). I added the red marks to point out where we stand in relationship to the Lehman moment:

Delinquencies-commercial-industrial-loans-2016-q1

Business loan delinquencies are a leading indicator of big economic trouble.

To me, this couldn’t be any clearer.

Just like the U.S. government and just like U.S. consumers, U.S. businesses are absolutely drowning in debt.

In fact, a report that was just released found that debt at U.S. companies has been growing at a pace that is 50 times faster than the rate that cash has been growing.

Just imagine what it would mean for your family if your debt was growing 50 times faster than your bank account. Needless to say, this is an extremely troubling development

Well, American companies may just have a mountain’s worth of problems, according to a new report from Andrew Chang and David Tesher of S&P Global Ratings.

“At the same time, the imbalance between cash and debt outstanding we reported on last year has gotten even worse: Debt outstanding increased 50x that of cash in 2015,” wrote Chang and Tesher.

“Total debt rose by roughly $850 billion to $6.6 trillion last year, dwarfing the 1% cash growth ($17 billion).”

And the really bad news is that banks all across the country are starting to tighten credit to businesses.

In other words, they are beginning to become much more reluctant to loan money to businesses because debts are going bad at such an alarming rate.

When the flow of credit to the business community starts to slow down, it is inevitable that the overall economy slows down as well. It is just basic economics. So the deterioration of the U.S. economy that we have witnessed so far is just the beginning of a process that is going to take quite a while to play out.

And let us not forget that most of the rest of the world is already is much worse shape than we are. Most global financial markets are officially in bear market territory right now, and some nations are already experiencing full-blown economic depression.

Now that the early chapters of the “next crisis” are here, most American families find themselves ill-equipped to deal with another major downturn. In fact, USA Today is reporting that approximately two-thirds of the country is currently living paycheck to paycheck…

Two-thirds of Americans would have difficulty coming up with the money to cover a $1,000 emergency, according to an exclusive poll, a signal that despite years after the Great Recession, Americans’ finances remain precarious as ever.

These difficulties span all incomes, according to the poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Three-quarters of people in households making less than $50,000 a year and two-thirds of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill.

What are these people going to do when they lose their jobs or their businesses go under?

If you have any doubt that the U.S. economy is already in recession mode, just look at this chart over and over.

For months, I have been warning that the same patterns that immediately preceded previous recessions were happening once again, and this rise in debt delinquencies is another striking example of this phenomenon.

This stuff isn’t complicated. Anyone that is willing to be honest with themselves should be able to see it. As a society, we have been making very, very bad decisions for a very, very long period of time, and what we are watching unfold right now are the inevitable consequences of those decisions.

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

Suicide Epidemic: Why Does The Number Of People Killing Themselves Just Keep Going Up?

Suicide - Public Domain

Did you know that more Americans now die from suicide than are killed in car crashes each year? According to the CDC, there has been a substantial spike in suicide deaths in the United States in recent years. Today, approximately 9.3 million Americans admit to having suicidal thoughts, and approximately 2.7 million Americans each year actually make a plan for how they would commit suicide. We are a deeply, deeply unhappy nation, but of course this phenomenon is not just limited to America. According to the World Health Organization, suicide is now the third highest cause of death in the entire world. Globally, suicide rates have soared by 60 percent over the past 45 years, and the WHO is now projecting that by the year 2020 someone will be committing suicide somewhere in the world every 20 seconds.

There was an article in the Guardian that I came across today that was entitled “Financial despair, addiction and the rise of suicide in white America“. It discussed the extremely alarming rise in the suicide rate among Americans that are approaching retirement age. Many in this age group are drowning in debt, dealing with out of control medical bills, have saved very little for retirement and are dealing with significant physical pain. One fact that I was astounded to learn is that in the state of Montana there are 82 painkiller prescriptions for every 100 people. In a desperate attempt to find a way out, many Americans this age are considering suicide. 56-year-old Kevin Lowney is one example

Kevin Lowney lies awake some nights wondering if he should kill himself.

I am in such pain every night, suicide has on a regular basis crossed my mind just simply to ease the pain. If I did not have responsibilities, especially for my youngest daughter who has problems,” he said.

The 56-year-old former salesman’s struggle with chronic pain is bound up with an array of other issues – medical debts, impoverishment and the prospect of a bleak retirement – contributing to growing numbers of suicides in the US and helping drive a sharp and unusual increase in the mortality rate for middle-aged white Americans in recent years alongside premature deaths from alcohol and drugs.

And this isn’t just an American phenomenon. Over in the United Kingdom, one study discovered that the suicide rate for men between the ages of 45 and 49 had increased by 40 percent over a seven year period…

The number of middle-aged men taking their own lives has increased dramatically over the course of the last decade.

New research, published today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, reveals that the last seven years have seen a 40 percent increase in the suicide rate of men between the ages of 45 and 49.

Younger people are killing themselves more frequently as well.

According to a Fox News report, the suicide rate for Americans age 10 to age 24 has “gone up every year”…

Their deaths as well as other recent teen suicides to make national headlines — from Westport, Conn., to Omaha, Neb., — are part of a steady rise in self-inflicted deaths among young people, ages 10 to 24, since 2007, according to health officials.

“We are seeing significant increases in suicide for those ages,” Dr. Thomas Simon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s suicide expert, told FoxNews.com. “When you go back to 2007, the rates in that age group have gone up every year.

So why is this happening?

Without a doubt, the decline of our economy is playing a role. The middle class is steadily shrinking, and more Americans are falling out of the middle class with each passing month. Many Americans that are approaching retirement age do not see any viable future for themselves, and thus many of them are completely giving in to depression and despair.

But I don’t think that explains all of it. I think another major factor is the fact that our society is being drugged into oblivion. At this point, nearly 60 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and many drugs are known to substantially increase the risk of suicide.

Instead of addressing these root causes, many want the government to step in and magically solve this problem somehow. In fact, there is a new proposal for mandatory depression screening that many are warning could have very serious consequences. The following is an excerpt from a piece that Ron Paul recently authored

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended mandatory depression screening for all Americans. The task force wants to force health insurance companies to pay for the screening. Basic economics, as well as the Obamacare disaster, should have shown this task force that government health insurance mandates harm Americans.

Government health insurance mandates raise the price of health insurance. Consumers will respond to this increase by either choosing to not carry health insurance or by reducing their consumption of other goods and services. Imposing new health insurance mandates will thus make consumers, many of whom are already suffering from Obamacare’s costly mandates, worse off by forcing them to deviate from their preferred consumption patterns.

Mandatory depression screening will not just raise insurance costs. In order to ensure that the screening mandate is being properly implemented, the government will need to create a database containing the results of the screenings. Those anti-gun politicians who want to forbid anyone labeled “mentally ill” from owning a firearm will no doubt want to use this database as a tool to deprive individuals of their Second Amendment rights.

Mandatory screening is not going to solve this problem. That will just result in even more people being put on anti-depressants and make the pharmaceutical companies even wealthier.

In the end, the real problem is in our hearts. We have pushed God to the outer fringes of society, and we have decided that we can set up our own version of utopia without Him.

Well, that isn’t exactly working out too well, is it?

If you know someone that is depressed and may be considering suicide, the following are some of the signs that livescience.com says that you should watch for…

  • feelings of hopelessness or desperation
  • insomnia
  • panic attacks
  • social isolation
  • irritability
  • rage
  • feelings of being a burden

Life is about so much more than the amount of things that we own or the amount of money in our bank accounts.

Many of these people that are contemplating suicide could have futures that are brighter beyond what they could possibly imagine, but they are focusing on all the wrong things.

So what do you think is causing the stunning rise in suicide both here in the United States and around the globe?

Please feel free to share your thoughts with the rest of us by leaving a comment below…

The 90,000 Square Foot, 100 Million Dollar Home That Is A Metaphor For America

Versailles House - Public Domain

Just like “America’s time-share king”, America just keeps on making the same mistakes over and over again. Prior to the financial collapse of 2008, time-share mogul David Siegel and his wife Jackie began construction on their “dream home” near Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This dream home would be approximately 90,000 square feet in size, would be worth $100 million when completed, and would be named “Versailles” after the French palace that inspired it. In fact, you may remember David and Jackie from an excellent 2012 documentary entitled “The Queen of Versailles”. That film documented how the Siegels almost lost everything after the financial collapse of 2008 devastated the U.S. economy because they were overleveraged and drowning in debt. But since that time, David’s time-share company has bounced back, and the Siegels now plan to finally finish construction on their dream home and make it bigger and better than ever before. But before you pass judgment on the Siegels, it is important to keep in mind that we are behaving exactly the same way as a nation. Instead of addressing our fundamental problems after the last financial crisis, we have just continued to make the exact same mistakes that we made before. And ultimately, things are going to end very, very badly for us.

As Americans, we like to think that we are somehow entitled to the biggest and best of everything. We have been trained to believe that we are the wealthiest and most prosperous nation on the entire planet and that it will always be that way. This generation was handed the keys to the greatest economic machine in world history, but instead of treating it with great care, we have wrecked it. Our economic infrastructure is being systematically dismantled, Wall Street has been transformed into the biggest casino in the history of the planet, we have piled up a mountain of debt unlike anything the world has ever seen, and the reckless Federal Reserve is turning our currency into Monopoly money. All of our decisions have been designed to make things better for ourselves in the short-term without any consideration about what we were doing to the future of this country.

That is why “Versailles” is such a perfect metaphor for America. The Siegels always had to have the biggest and the best of everything, and they almost lost it all when the financial markets crashed

David Siegel (“They call me the time-share king”) and his wife, Jackie Siegel — titular star of the 2012 documentary “The Queen of Versailles” — began building their dream home near Disney World about a decade ago. Soon it became evident that the sheer size of the mansion was almost unprecedented in America; it’s thought that only Biltmore House and Oheka Castle are bigger and still standing, and both of those are now run as tourist attractions, not true single-family homes.

But when the bottom fell out of the financial markets in 2008, their fortunes were upended too. By the time the documentary ended, their dream home had gone into default and they’d put it on the market. The listing asked for $100 million finished — “based on the royal palace of Louix XIV of the 17th century or to the buyer’s specifications — or $75 million “as is with all exterior finishings in crates in the 20-car garage on site.”

But just like the U.S. economy, the Siegels have seemingly recovered, at least for the moment.

Thanks to a rebound in the time-share business, the Siegels plan to finally complete their dream home and make it bigger and better than ever

The unfinished home sits on 10 acres of lakefront property and when completed will feature 11 kitchens, 30 bathrooms, 20-car garage, two-lane bowling alley, indoor rollerskating rink, three indoor pools, two outdoor pools, video arcade, ballroom, two-story movie theater modeled off the Paris Opera House, fitness center with 10,000-square-foot spa, yoga studios, 20,000-bottle wine cellar and an exotic fish aquarium.

Two tennis courts, a baseball diamond and formal garden will be included on the grounds.

The couple admitted that some of their plans for the house – such as children’s playrooms – will have to be modified now that their kids are older.

However, they are determined to see the project through.

‘I’m not at the ending to my story yet, but so far, it’s a happy ending, and I’m really looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life and moving into my palace, finishing it and throwing lots of parties – anxious for the world to see it,’ Mrs Siegel said.

It is easy to point fingers at the Siegels, but the truth is that they are just behaving like we have been behaving as an entire nation.

When our financial bubbles burst the last time, our leaders did not really do anything to address our fundamental economic problems. Instead, they were bound and determined to reinflate those bubbles and make them even larger than before.

Now we stand at the precipice of the greatest financial crisis in our history, and we only have ourselves to blame.

Just consider what has happened to our national debt. Just prior to the last recession, it was sitting at about 9 trillion dollars. Today, it has just crossed the 18 trillion dollar mark…

Total Public Debt

You may not think that you are to blame for this, but most of the people that will read this article voted for politicians that fully supported all of this borrowing and spending. And yes, that includes most Democrats and most Republicans.

We have stolen trillions of dollars from future generations of Americans in a desperate attempt to prop up our failing standard of living in the present. What we have done is a horrific crime, and if we lived in a just society a whole lot of people would be going to prison over this.

A similar pattern emerges when we look at the spending habits of ordinary Americans. This next chart shows one measure of consumer credit in America. During the last recession, we actually had a brief period of deleveraging (which was good), but now we are back on the exact same trajectory as before…

Consumer Credit 2015

Even though we had a higher standard of living than all previous generations of Americans, that was never good enough for us. We always had to have more, and we have borrowed and spent ourselves into oblivion.

We have also shown absolutely no respect for our currency. Having the primary reserve currency of the world has been an incredible advantage for the U.S. economy, but we are squandering that privilege. Like I said at the top of the article, the Federal Reserve has been treating the U.S. dollar like Monopoly money in recent years in an attempt to prop up the financial system. Just look at what “quantitative easing” has done to the Fed balance sheet since the last recession…

Fed Balance Sheet

Most of the new money that the Fed has created has been funneled into the financial markets. This has created some financial bubbles which are absolutely insane. For example, just look at how the NASDAQ has performed since the last financial crisis…

NASDAQ

These Fed-created bubbles are inevitably going to implode, because they have no relation to economic reality whatsoever. And when they implode, millions of Americans are going to be financially wiped out.

Just like David and Jackie Siegel, we simply can’t help ourselves. We just keep on making the same old mistakes.

And in the end, we will all pay a great, great price for our utter foolishness.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

The Retail Apocalypse Accelerates: Collapsing Holiday Sales Are A Signal That A Recession Is Coming

Sears - Photo by Belus Capital Advisors

Retail sales during the four day Thanksgiving weekend were down a whopping 11 percent from last year. This is a “make or break” time of the year for many retailers, and if things don’t turn around during the coming weeks we could see a tsunami of store closings in January and February. As you read this article, there is already more than a billion square feet of retail space sitting empty in the United States. Many have described the ongoing collapse of the retail industry as an “apocalypse”, and this apocalypse appears to be accelerating. Yes, the shift to online retailers is a significant factor, but as you will see below even online retailers struggled over the holiday weekend. The sad truth of the matter is that U.S. consumers are tapped out and are drowning in debt at this point, so they simply do not have as much money to spend as they once did.

According to the National Retail Federation, 5.2 percent fewer Americans shopped online or at retail stores over the past weekend. Those that did shop spent an average of 6.4 percent less money than consumers did last year.

So if less people shopped, and they spent less money on average, that means that total retail sales must have been way down.

And indeed they were. As the New York Times has reported, total retail sales were down an astounding 11 percent…

Sales, both in stores and online, from Thanksgiving through the weekend were estimated to have dropped 11 percent, to $50.9 billion, from $57.4 billion last year, according to preliminary survey results released Sunday by the National Retail Federation. Sales fell despite many stores’ opening earlier than ever on Thanksgiving Day.

And though many retailers offered the same aggressive discounts online as they did in their stores, the web failed to attract more shoppers or spending over the four-day holiday weekend than it did last year, the group said. The average person who shopped over the weekend spent $159.55 at online retailers, down 10.2 percent from last year.

No wonder there was less violence on Black Friday this year.

Traffic at retailers was way down.

Of course some analysts are trying to put a positive spin on all of this. For example, the CEO of the National Retail Federation says that this could actually be a sign that the economy is improving

As the WSJ reports, NRF’s CEO Matt Shay attributed the drop to a combination of factors, including the fact that retailers moved promotions earlier this year in attempt to get people out sooner and avoid what happened last year when people didn’t finish their shopping because of bad weather.

Also did we mention the NRF is perpetually cheery and always desperate to put a metric ton of lipstick on a pig? Well, hold on to your hats folks:

He also attributed the declines to better online offerings and an improving economy where “people don’t feel the same psychological need to rush out and get the great deal that weekend, particularly if they expected to be more deals,” he said.

And of course the sprint vs marathon comparisons, such as this one: “The holiday season and the weekend are a marathon not a sprint,” NRF Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said on a conference call. Odd how that metaphor is never used when the (seasonally-adjusted) sprint beats the marathoners.

So there you have it: a 11% collapse in retail spending has just been spun as super bullish for the US economy, whereby US consumers aren’t spending because the economy is simply too strong, and the only reason they don’t spend is because they will spend much more later. Or something.

The retail industry is absolutely brutal at this point. It is flooded with very large competitors that are chasing fewer and fewer disposable dollars.

In order to thrive, retailers need financially healthy consumers. But over time, U.S. consumers have been getting deeper and deeper into debt. The chart posted below shows that consumer credit in the United States has doubled since the year 2000…

Consumer Credit 2014

Meanwhile, the long-term trend for real median household income since the year 2000 has been down…

Real Median Household Income 2014

In order for Americans to spend money, they have to make money first.

Unfortunately, the quality of our jobs continues to plummet.

As I have written about previously, 50 percent of all American workers currently make less than $28,031 a year at their jobs. And here are some more numbers from a report that the Social Security Administration recently released…

-39 percent of American workers made less than $20,000 last year

-52 percent of American workers made less than $30,000 last year

-63 percent of American workers made less than $40,000 last year

-72 percent of American workers made less than $50,000 last year

So in order for a typical American family to bring in $50,000 a year or more both parents usually have to work.

Sometimes they both have to work more than one job.

And with the cost of living constantly rising, family budgets are being squeezed more than ever. That is why families have less money to spend at retail stores these days. For even more on the current financial condition of American families, please see my previous article entitled “Are You Better Off This Thanksgiving Than You Were Last Thanksgiving?

It is time for retailers in America to face the fact that economic conditions have fundamentally changed. U.S. consumers simply are not in as good shape as they used to be.

In addition, online retailers are going to continue to steal sales from traditional retail locations. This means that more stores are going to close and more retail space is going to be abandoned.

As I mentioned above, more than a billion square feet of retail space is aleady sitting vacant in the United States. And retail consultant Howard Davidowitz is projecting that up to half of all shopping malls in the U.S. may shut down within the next couple of decades

Within 15 to 20 years, retail consultant Howard Davidowitz expects as many as half of America’s shopping malls to fail. He predicts that only upscale shopping centers with anchors like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus will survive.

In the years ahead, it is going to become normal to see boarded up strip malls and abandoned shopping centers all over the country.

The golden age of retail is over, and now most retailers will have to work incredibly hard to survive the apocalypse that is unfolding right before our eyes.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

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