Goodbye Middle Class: 50 Percent Of American Workers Make Less Than 33,000 Dollars A Year

The truth is that most American families are deeply struggling, but you hardly ever hear this from the mainstream media. Yes, about 10 percent of all American workers are making $100,000 or more a year, but most of those high paying jobs are concentrated in the major cities along the east and west coasts. For much of the rest of the country, these are very challenging times as the cost of living soars but their paychecks do not. According to the Social Security Administration, the median income in the United States last year was just $32,838.05. In other words, 50 percent of American workers made more than $32,838.05 and 50 percent of American workers made less than $32,838.05 in 2018. Let’s be generous and round that number up to $33,000, and when you break it down on a monthly basis it comes to just $2,750 a month. Of course nobody can support a middle class lifestyle for a family of four on $2,750 a month before taxes, and so in most families more than one person is working these days. In fact, in many families today more than one person is working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet, and it still is often not quite enough.

If you want to look at the Social Security wage statistics for yourself, you can find them right here. As you will see, I am not making these numbers up.

These days many would have us feel bad if we are not making at least $100,000 a year, but according to the report only about 10 percent of all American workers make that much money.

Instead, most Americans are in what I would call “the barely getting by” category. Here are some key facts that I pulled out of the report…

-33 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-46 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-58 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-67 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

That means that approximately two-thirds of all American workers are making $4,000 or less a month before taxes.

Ouch.

But these numbers help us to understand why survey after survey has shown that most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. After paying the bills, there just isn’t much money left for most of us.

And for an increasing number of Americans, even paying the bills has become exceedingly difficult. In fact, a brand new report from UBS says that 44 percent of all U.S. consumers “don’t make enough money to cover their expenses”…

Low-income consumers are struggling to make ends meet despite the “greatest economy ever,” and if a recession strikes or the employment cycle continues to decelerate — this could mean the average American with insurmountable debts will likely fall behind on their debt servicing payments, according to a UBS report, first reported by Bloomberg.

UBS analyst Matthew Mish wrote in a recent report that 44% of consumers don’t make enough money to cover their expenses.

That means that about half the country is flat broke and struggling just to survive financially.

Of course those at the top of the economic food chain often don’t have a lot of sympathy for those that are hurting. Many of them have the attitude that those that are struggling should just go out and get one of the “good jobs” that the mainstream media is endlessly touting.

But most jobs in the United States are not “good jobs”.

Today, the poverty level for a household of four in the United States is $25,750. More than 40 percent of the workers in this country make less than that each year.

Starting a business is always an option, but that takes money, and thanks to government regulations it is harder than ever to run a small business successfully.

Just look at what is happening to our dairy farmers. There are few occupations that are more quintessentially “American” than being a dairy farmer, and since most people drink milk and eat cheese, you would think that it would be a pretty safe profession.

But instead, dairy farms are shutting down at a pace that is absolutely chilling all over the nation. For example, just check out what has been going on in Wisconsin

Wisconsin lost another 42 dairy farms in July, and since January 1, has lost 491 farms, reports the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

At this rate, the Dairy State could lose 735 dairy farms this year, which would be a decline of 9%. In 2018, the state lost 691 farms, a rate of decline of 7.9%.

Over the last decade the state has lost more than 5,000 farms, or 40% of its licensed dairy farms. To state the obvious, the current rate of exits is more than double that of the last decade.

So why is this happening?

Government.

In profession after profession, government control freaks have made it nearly impossible to make a living, and this has pushed the percentage of Americans that are self-employed to historic lows.

If you are struggling right now, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are tens of millions of other Americans that are really hurting in this economy, and the bad news is that economic conditions will soon get a lot worse.

But you can make it through whatever is ahead. You just have to keep believing.

A lot of people accuse me of spreading “doom and gloom”, but that is not true at all. There is hope in understand what is happening, and there is hope in getting prepared for the hard times that are ahead. When you take steps to prepare, you are telling yourself and everyone around you that you believe that you can make it through the storm that is coming.

Or you could just have blind faith in the system, even though it is exceedingly obvious that the system is crumbling all around us. Those that are blindly trusting the system to take care of them are building their dreams on a foundation of sand, and when the waves come crashing in those dreams are going to get washed away very quickly.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. 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 can only allow this to happen if this “About the Author” section is included 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.

This Wasn’t Supposed To Happen: U.S. Employment Growth Just Plunged To The Lowest Level In 9 Years

If the U.S. economy was heading into a recession, we would expect to see a slowdown in the employment numbers, and that is precisely what is happening. According to payroll processing firm ADP, the U.S. economy only added 27,000 new jobs in May, and that is way below the number that is needed just to keep up with population growth. Of course some in the mainstream media are attempting to put a positive spin on this, but there really is no denying that this is a truly awful number. In fact, we have not seen a number this bad in more than 9 years

Job creation skidded to a near-halt in May in another sign that the U.S. economic momentum is slowing.

Companies added just 27,000 new positions during the month, according to a report Wednesday from payroll processing firm ADP and Moody’s Analytics that was well below Dow Jones estimates of 173,000.

The reading was the worst since around the time the economic expansion began and the jobs market bottomed in March 2010 with a loss of 113,000.

9 years is a very long time, but this terrible employment number is perfectly consistent with all of the other horrible economic numbers that have been rolling in lately.

Time after time in recent weeks I have been using phrases such as “since the last recession” to describe what we are witnessing. The U.S. economy has not been in such rough shape in nearly a decade, and things just keep getting worse.

So how did Wall Street respond to the latest employment news?

Actually, stock prices surged, because investors are super excited about the prospect that the Federal Reserve could soon lower interest rates

Stocks added to strong week-to-date performance on Wednesday as investors grew even more confident that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates this year to reignite an economy wounded by trade battles.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 207.39 points to 25,539.57, while the S&P 500 advanced 0.8% to 2,826.15. The Nasdaq Composite closed 0.6% higher at 7,575.48.

Pushing interest rates all the way to the floor certainly helped the stock market recover after the last recession, but this time around there is a major twist.

The U.S. is currently engaged in a major trade war with China, and the normal tools that the Fed utilizes may not be powerful enough to overcome the negative effects of such a conflict.

And to make things worse, now the U.S. is also starting a trade war with Mexico. On Wednesday, President Trump made it clear that “not nearly enough” progress had been achieved during negotiations with Mexican officials…

President Donald Trump said “not nearly enough” progress was made in talks with Mexico to mitigate the flow of undocumented migrants and illegal drugs, raising the likelihood that the U.S. will follow through with tariffs next week.

So tariffs will be slapped on Mexican goods starting on Monday, and President Trump seems quite excited about this

“If no agreement is reached, Tariffs at the 5% level will begin on Monday, with monthly increases as per schedule,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “The higher the Tariffs go, the higher the number of companies that will move back to the USA!”

Of course the Mexicans will almost certainly retaliate, and both countries will start seeing higher prices and significant job losses.

In fact, one study has concluded that the U.S. economy could lose more than 400,000 jobs as a result of these tariffs on Mexico. The following comes from CNN

If the 5% US tariff on all goods from Mexico takes effect and is maintained, more than 400,000 jobs in the United States could be lost, an analysis released this week found.

The tariffs on Mexico, set to go in effect on Monday, would cost Texas alone more than 117,000 jobs, according to the analysis by The Perryman Group, an economic consulting firm. Texas is Mexico’s largest export market, making the two economies closely intertwined.

And the truth is that those numbers could actually be on the low side.

According to Marc Thiessen, a trade war with Mexico would literally put millions of U.S. jobs at risk…

Indeed, Mexican tariffs could be even more devastating for Americans than those imposed on China. Deutsche Bank estimates the tariffs could raise the average price of automobiles sold in the United States by $1,300. Indeed, U.S. and Mexican auto-supply chains are so deeply integrated that many parts cross the border multiple times before they end up in a finished vehicle — which means they would be hit by tariffs multiple times, compounding costs. Ten million U.S. workers’ jobs depend on this supply chain; tariffs would put those jobs at risk, including those of the “forgotten Americans” in the industrial Midwest whose jobs Trump vowed to protect.

We shall see what happens, but the outlook for the U.S. economy for the rest of this year is not good at all, and beyond that things look exceedingly grim.

Hopefully I am wrong, but it certainly appears that a major economic downturn is developing just in time for the 2020 presidential election.

There is one more thing that I would like to mention before I wrap up this article. This week, a Russian news source reported that Russia and China “will sign an agreement” regarding the use of their own national currencies in bilateral trade with one another…

Russia and China will sign an agreement on possible payments in national currencies. A decree of the Russian government on signing of a relevant agreement with the Chinese side was released on the official portal of legal information on Wednesday.

According to the draft decree approved through that government document, “settlements and payments for goods, service and direct investments between economic entities of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China are made in accordance with the international practice and the legislation of the sides’ states with the use of foreign currency, the Russian currency (rubles) and the Chinese currency (yuan).”

In other words, they are dumping the dollar in favor of their own national currencies when trading with each other. This is a direct threat to the international dominance of the U.S. dollar, and other countries have been discussing similar moves.

For decades, the U.S. dollar has essentially been a global currency. More dollars are actually used outside of the United States than within this country, and most Americans don’t realize that.

This has given us some enormous advantages in the global marketplace, and it could be just a matter of time before those advantages begin to disappear.

Things that used to take months or years to happen are now happening in a matter of days. The pace of change is really picking up, and right now the momentum of events is heading in a direction that is definitely not favorable to the United States.

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.

Goodbye Middle Class: The Percentage Of Wealth Owned By The Top 10% Just Got Even BIGGER

The middle class in America is being systematically eviscerated, and it is getting worse with each passing year. As you will see below, one new study has found that 10 percent of Americans now own 70 percent of all the wealth. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world, but pretty soon we are just going to have the ultra-wealthy and everyone else. Our system has been designed to funnel as much wealth as possible to the very top of the financial pyramid, and that means that most of the rest of us are deeply struggling. And when you are just barely getting by from month to month, all it takes is one bad break to knock you completely out of the middle class and into poverty.

I have been chronicling the demise of the middle class for many years, but I didn’t know that the numbers had gotten this bad. According to a study that was recently conducted by the Federal Reserve, the percentage of wealth controlled by the top 10 percent of U.S. households has shot up from 60 percent in 1989 to 70 percent today

Deutsche Bank’s Torsten Sløk says that the distribution of household wealth in America has become even more disproportionate over the past decade, with the richest 10% of U.S. households representing 70% of all U.S. wealth in 2018, compared with 60% in 1989, according to a recent study by researchers at the Federal Reserve.

The study finds that the share of wealth among the richest 1% increased to 32% from 23% over the same period.

The ironic thing is that the Federal Reserve has actually done much to cause this high concentration of wealth among the elite. In response to the last financial crisis, the Federal Reserve pumped unprecedented amounts of money into the financial system, and this has created the greatest stock market bubble in our history

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +2.06% has climbed nearly 300% since its closing low in March 2009, the S&P 500 index SPX, +2.14% has climbed 325%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +2.65% has soared 535% over the same period.

Meanwhile, wages have stagnated for ordinary Americans. According to the Social Security Administration, the median yearly wage in the United States is currently just $30,533. In other words, 50 percent of all American workers make at least that much per year, and 50 percent of all American workers make that much or less per year.

$30,533 a year breaks down to approximately $2,500 per month, and you simply can’t support a middle class lifestyle for a typical American family on $2,500 a month.

Meanwhile, the cost of living for middle class families has exploded higher over the past few decades…

Everyday expenses continue to rise, and as the shadow inflation increases, it also threatens to wipe out the middle class – what’s left of it anyway. In fact, middle-class life is now 30% more expensive than it was 20 years ago, according to a separate report by CNBC. The cost of things such as college, housing, and child care has risen precipitously: Tuition at public universities doubled between 1996 and 2016 and housing prices in popular cities have quadrupled, Alissa Quart, author and executive director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, tells CNBC Make It.

As the cost of living has risen faster than our incomes have, more Americans have been squeezed out of the middle class with each passing month.

As a result, an increasing number of Americans have become financially dependent on the government, and our rapidly expanding welfare state is a big reason why the federal government is now 22 trillion dollars in debt.

Of course many Americans are no longer able to make it at all, and the ranks of the homeless are swelling all over the nation. In fact, we just got some brand new numbers about the growth of homelessness in the Los Angeles area that are absolutely eye-popping

The number of homeless people counted across Los Angeles County jumped 12% over the past year to nearly 59,000, with more young and old residents and families on the streets, officials said Tuesday.

The majority of the homeless were found within the city of Los Angeles, which saw a 16% increase to 36,300, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said in presenting January’s annual count to the county Board of Supervisors.

Yes, it is true that we have a record number of millionaires on the west coast in 2019, but meanwhile our major west coast cities are being transformed into rotting, decaying nightmares right in front of our eyes.

During a recent interview with Laura Ingraham, Dr. Drew Pinsky admitted that there is “a complete breakdown of the basic needs of civilization in Los Angeles right now”

“We have a complete breakdown of the basic needs of civilization in Los Angeles right now,” Pinsky told host Laura Ingraham. “We have the three prongs of airborne disease, tuberculosis is exploding, (and) rodent-borne. We are one of the only cities in the country that doesn’t have a rodent control program, and sanitation has broken down.”

Pinsky’s comments followed news that Los Angeles police officer had contracted typhoid fever, a rare and life-threatening illness that fewer than 350 Americans contract each year.

Los Angeles had a typhus outbreak last summer and will likely have another this summer, Pinsky said. Meanwhile, bubonic plague – a pandemic that killed tens of millions of people during the 14th century – is “likely” already present in Los Angeles, Pinsky added.

Despite all of our great wealth and despite all of our advanced technology, this is what life is like in our second largest city right now.

And if things are degenerating this badly during stable times, what are things going to look like once our society plunges into chaos?

Ultimately, the American Dream is about being self-sufficient. Most people want to be able to work hard and provide a nice life for their families, but that is becoming harder and harder to do.

No matter which political party has been in power in Washington, the middle class has continued to shrink and more wealth and power has become concentrated in the hands of the elite.

Now we stand on the precipice of the next major economic downturn, and many are deeply concerned about what that is going to mean for the future of our society.

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 Chaos Erupts! – Global Manufacturing Plunges, The Trade War Expands And The Nasdaq Enters Correction Territory

The global economic slowdown is really starting to accelerate. Just within the past few days, we have gotten more really awful global manufacturing numbers, the trade war has expanded to more nations, and the Nasdaq has officially entered correction territory. We have not witnessed this sort of global economic environment since the Great Recession, and if the economic chaos continues to escalate it won’t take too much to spark a brand new financial crisis. Of course the global financial system is far more vulnerable than it was back in 2008, and so if we stay on the path that we are currently on we could be facing a nightmare scenario very rapidly.

Let’s talk about the manufacturing numbers first. The numbers coming out of Germany are already at a crisis level, and manufacturing is also now contracting in Japan, South Korea and China as well.

Overall, global manufacturing as a whole has now fallen into contraction territory for the first time in seven years

Global manufacturing was the weakest since 2012 last month, a victim of mounting trade tensions and further reason to worry that the world economy is weakening.

With softness in Germany, Japan, the U.K. — as well as the lowest U.S. result in a decade — IHS Markit’s global Purchasing Managers Index fell to 49.8 in May, below the 50 level that divides expansion from contraction.

The reports underscore the growing threat posed by the escalating U.S.-China trade war, and they coincided with a fresh warning from Wall Street about recession risks.

The reason why so many people are freaking out about these numbers is because this is exactly what we would expect to see if we were entering a global recession.

Meanwhile, global financial markets are looking increasingly shaky. On Monday, the Nasdaq fell another 120 points and it has now officially entered correction territory

Stocks ended mostly lower Monday, June’s first day of trading, amid reports that the U.S. government is planning to target a host of big tech companies with antitrust and business practice probes. Shares of Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook and Apple all weighed on the market during Monday’s session.

The Nasdaq dropped 1.6% to enter correction territory, closing more than 10% below its record high set in late April.

The term “correction territory” might not mean a lot to many of you, so let me put what is happening in terms you may understand.

On Monday alone, America’s most prominent tech stocks lost approximately 150 billion dollars in value. It looks like the Trump administration is getting ready to go to war with the big tech companies, and that is really, really bad news for tech investors. The following comes from Breitbart

The Masters of the Universe got hit hard by investors on Monday. Like $150 billion hard.

Shares of the top tech giants fell sharply on Monday after reports that U.S. antitrust regulators had divided up oversight of the sector, with the Department of Justice assuming responsibility for Alphabet and Apple and the Federal Trade Commission taking on Facebook and Amazon. This triggered fears that the government could mount challenges to the business models of the companies.

Shares of Alphabet dived 6.1 percent on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department is in the early stage of preparing an antitrust probe of the company. Reuters reported that the Department of Justice is also looking into Apple’s business for possible antitrust violations.

Speaking of war, our trade conflict with China continues to escalate. The mainstream media hasn’t been talking much about it, but apparently the Chinese have decided to put purchases of U.S. soybeans “on hold” until a trade agreement is reached…

China, the world’s largest soybean buyer, has put purchases of American supplies on hold after the trade war between Washington and Beijing escalated, according to people familiar with the matter.

State-grain buyers haven’t received any further orders to continue with the so-called goodwill buying and don’t expect that to happen given the lack of agreement in trade negotiations, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information is private.

U.S. soybean farmers have been sitting on unprecedented amounts of soybeans in hopes that an end to the trade war would raise prices.

But instead, demand for U.S. soybeans is going to go through the floor, and this could potentially force thousands of soybean farmers into bankruptcy.

And in addition to our trade war with China, the Trump administration has apparently decided that now is a good time to start a trade war with Mexico

From produce to cars, a wide variety of Mexican goods could become more expensive if Trump follows through on his threat to hit Mexican imports with tariffs that soon could climb to 25%. Trump wants to pressure Mexico into doing more to halt the flow of Central American migrants to the U.S. via the Mexican border.

The tariffs, set to begin June 10, would gradually climb to 25% on Oct. 1 if Mexico doesn’t take steps “to dramatically reduce or eliminate” the number of migrants, Trump said Thursday. Such a strategy would hurt American shoppers, the economy and stocks, experts say, just as U.S. growth is slowing and the threat of more tariffs on Chinese imports looms larger.

At least in this case the U.S. and Mexico are still talking, and so perhaps some kind of resolution can be reached.

On top of everything else, the Trump administration has also just decided to add India to the trade war as well

Mr. Trump on Friday said India would be removed from the U.S.’s privileged-trading program called the Generalized System of Preferences on Wednesday. Under the decadeslong program meant for some developing economies, the U.S. had allowed India to avoid tariffs on certain exports to the U.S. in the interest of promoting tighter trade ties and development.

India, the U.S.’s ninth-largest trading partner, is a top beneficiary of the GSP program. Mr. Trump’s move will add tariffs of as much as 7% on Indian exports of goods like chemicals, auto parts and tableware to the U.S., which in 2018 accounted for more than 11%, or $6.3 billion, of India’s total exports of goods valued at $54.4 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service, a research agency for the U.S. Congress.

A global trade war is going to be incredibly painful for everyone, and this is all happening at a time when the global economy was already starting to slow down substantially.

Here in the United States, a lot of businesses are really starting to notice a big decline in economic activity. Here is just one example that was published on Zero Hedge earlier today…

Down here, in Texas, I am seeing a big drop in economic activity over the last 6 months. Our healthcare businesses’ volume over this period is at 629, down from 770, year-on-year, almost a 20% decline, and the worst six month decline in our 15 year history. We have been pulling out all of the stops for business development, cutting overhead, and running all the QC traps to determine if it is something within our business, within our local market, within our industry, or having to do with the economy in general.

In this period, we have seen seven competitors go out of business in our city. We have recently confirmed similar experiences with colleagues in Kentucky, Colorado, and elsewhere in Texas. One of them asked me, “If this is not temporary, what would the strategy be?” My response was, “Hunker in the bunker and wait for everyone else to die.”

This is what we have all been preparing for, and things are going to get progressively tougher in the months ahead.

Unfortunately, most Americans are completely and totally clueless about what is ahead. Today, 59 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and the truth is that the vast majority of us are entirely unprepared to go through another recession.

And of course many believe that what we are facing is going to be much worse than just a “recession”. A perfect storm is rapidly coming together, and the chaos that we have seen so far is nothing compared to what is rapidly approaching.

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.

All Of The Economic Momentum Is Moving In Just One Direction Now

Earlier today, I was greeted by this jarring headline when I visited the Drudge Report: “BONDS FLASH RECESSION WARNING”. These days, it seems like the “R word” is being thrown around constantly, but at this time last year everyone was celebrating how well the economy was doing. Unfortunately, we have witnessed a dramatic shift in recent months, and we just got some more really bad economic numbers. Thanks to those bad numbers and an increasing amount of anxiety about the trade war, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell another 237 points on Monday. That means that we are on pace to potentially see the Dow fall for a sixth week in a row, and that is something that hasn’t happened since the last recession.

But right now investors are far more spooked about what is going on in the bond market. According to Mish Shedlock, we haven’t seen this many yield curve inversions “since the start of the Great Recession”…

On Friday, US Treasury yields plunged at the mid to long end of the curve providing the most inversions since the start of the Great Recession. This is the biggest recession warning since 2007.

In so many ways, what we are witnessing at this moment is very reminiscent of the conditions that prevailed just prior to the last financial crisis.

Back then, the economic numbers were definitely starting to slide, but most Americans didn’t think that we were heading toward big trouble. But those that understood what was happening were sounding the alarm, and the same thing is happening today. For example, the following comes from a CNBC article entitled “Morgan Stanley says economy is on ‘recession watch’ as bond market flashes warning”

“Recent data points suggest US earnings and economic risk is greater than most investors may think,” wrote Michael Wilson, the firm’s chief U.S. equity strategist.

Specifically, the stock strategist highlighted a recent survey from financial data firm IHS Markit that showed manufacturing activity fell to a nine-year low in May. That report also revealed a “notable slowdown” in the U.S. services sector, a key area for an American economy characterized by huge job gains in health care and business services.

In addition to disappointing manufacturing numbers, we also just learned that orders for capital goods were down significantly during the month of April…

The Commerce Department said on Friday orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, dropped 0.9% last month as demand weakened almost across the board. Data for March was revised down to show these so-called core capital goods orders rising 0.3% instead of increasing 1.0% as previously reported.

Also, we just found out that U.S. home price gains have now fallen for 12 months in a row.

When you add those numbers to all of the other depressing economic numbers that have been rolling in lately, a very clear picture emerges.

The U.S. economy is heading in the wrong direction, and things are steadily getting worse.

A resolution to our trade war with China would be a huge economic boost in the short-term, but that is not likely to happen for the foreseeable future. In fact, on Monday President Trump stated that he is “not ready” to make a deal with China

Bank shares fell broadly amid the lower interest rates. Goldman Sachs dropped 1.8% while Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase fell 0.9% and 1.1%, respectively. Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo also slipped.

The drop in bank shares and rates come after President Donald Trump said on Monday the U.S. was “not ready” to make a deal with China, before adding he expected one in the future. Trump also said tariffs on Chinese imports could go up “substantially.”

And the Chinese are clearly digging in as well. The chief editor of the Global Times, Hu Xijin, has a very close relationship with top Chinese officials, and he just warned that China “is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports” to the United States…

While the official at China’s national planning body did not directly answer whether Beijing would restrict rare earth exports to the United States, Global Times Editor-in-chief Hu Xijin wrote on Twitter: ‘Based on what I know, China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the U.S. China may also take other countermeasures in the future.’

Although the tabloid Global Times is not one of China’s official media, it is widely read and is published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Party newspaper.

Just a few days ago I published an entire article about the impact that such a move would have on the U.S. economy, and I won’t reproduce all of that information here.

But the bottom line is this – the U.S. economy would be in a massive amount of trouble if that happened.

A deteriorating relationship with China is part of the scenario that we have been anticipating, and events are definitely starting to accelerate now.

For most Americans, however, there is no reason to be concerned. Most of us simply trust that our leaders in Washington have things under control and that everything will work out just fine somehow.

But if we do plunge into another deep economic crisis, many Americans will be in enormous trouble right away. According to one recent survey, 45 percent of us rate our financial situations as either “fair” or “poor”

Nearly 30% of respondents rate their financial situation as “only fair” and 15% say it’s “poor.” Meanwhile, 25% worry “all” or “most” of the time that their household income won’t be enough to cover their expenses.

Their biggest concerns: Saving enough for retirement and unplanned medical costs, with 54% and 51%, respectively, saying they’re “very” or “moderately” worried about each prospect.

In addition, another recent survey discovered that 59 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.

Just like last time around, most Americans are living on the edge financially.

And just like last time around, millions of Americans will be completely blind-sided by an economic train wreck that they didn’t see coming.

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.

Even Before The Recession Has Officially Begun, Some Large U.S. Firms Are Laying Off Thousands Of Workers

If the U.S. economy is “booming” and very bright days are ahead, then why are many large U.S. corporations laying off thousands of workers? Layoffs are starting to come fast and furious now, and this is happening even though the coming recession has not even officially started yet. Of course many are convinced that we are actually in a recession at this moment. In fact, according to John Williams of shadowstats.com if the government was actually using honest numbers they would show that we have been in a recession for quite some time. But the narrative that the mainstream media keeps feeding us is that the U.S. economy is “doing well” and that the outlook for the future is positive. Well, if that is true then why are big companies laying off so many workers right now?

Let’s start by talking about Ford Motor Company. On Monday, they announced that they will be laying off approximately 7,000 workers

Ford Motor said Monday that it is laying off about 7,000 managers and other salaried employees, about 10% of its white-collar workforce across the globe, as part of a restructuring plan designed to save the No. 2 automaker $600 million annually.

The cuts, some of which were previously announced by the company, will be completed by August, Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in an email to employees Monday.

If the U.S. economy was about to take off like a rocket, this move doesn’t make any sense at all.

But if we are headed into a recession, this move makes perfect sense.

Another large firm that is laying off thousands of workers is Nestle

Nestle SA’s U.S. unit will dismiss about 4,000 workers as it stops delivering frozen pizza and ice cream directly to stores and transitions to a warehouse model that’s becoming an industry standard for Big Food companies looking to trim costs.

And we also recently learned that 3M is planning to get rid of about 2,000 workers

3M plans to cut 2,000 globally as part of a restructuring due to a slower-than-expected 2019.

The maker of Post-it notes, industrial coatings and ceramics said Thursday that the move is expected to save about $225 million to $250 million a year. The St. Paul Minnesota-based company anticipates a pretax charge of about $150 million, or 20 cents per share, this year.

Did you catch that part about these layoffs being due to “a slower-than-expected 2019”?

Unfortunately, things are slow for a lot of companies out there these days.

Another company that is dumping a large number of workers is MGM Resorts

MGM Resorts International MGM, -2.09% plans to cut about 1,000 positions by the end of the current quarter amid a cost-cutting and operational overhaul that calls for fewer managers across its properties.

That figure includes some 254 positions that the company moved to eliminate last week.

In addition, Dressbarn just announced that all of their stores will be closing

Dressbarn is closing all of its stores.

The women’s retailer announced Monday “plans to commence a wind-down of its retail operations, including the eventual closure of its approximately 650 stores.”

I am not sure how many employees they have per store, but even if it is just a handful we are talking about the loss of thousands of jobs.

The U.S. economy has been slowing down for months, and now the complete breakdown of trade talks with China threatens to plunge us into a prolonged trade war. As I noted in another article, a couple of different studies have concluded that an extended trade war could literally cost our economy millions of lost jobs.

And once the job losses start rolling, they can really get out of hand very quickly. We saw this in 2008, and it is just a matter of time until we see it happen again.

On Sunday, a reader sent me an article about a factory closing that was happening in her neck of the woods in Pennsylvania. One worker that was laid off said that the closure of the facility “was the final kick in the gut”

Robert and Brooks Gronlund, owners of Wood-Mode Inc., wrote a text to workers Friday, saying they “are extremely appreciative” of the employees’ contributions and commitments. The company owners then confirmed all of them were terminated, as were their benefits.

“It was the final kick in the gut,” Michele Sanders, a 22-year employee of the company, said Saturday.

The privately-owned company in Kreamer, which produced custom wood cabinets, shut its doors Monday, leaving nearly 1,000 people without jobs. The abrupt closure of the plant stunned workers and community leaders.

So now almost 1,000 people do not have a way to support themselves and their families.

We are talking about hard working people with real hopes and real dreams.

Kreamer is a very small town. According to Wikipedia, only 773 people live within the city limits, and so obviously there are not a lot of employment opportunities in the town.

And if those workers are anything like the rest of the U.S. population, most of them were probably living paycheck to paycheck.

I keep encouraging my readers to build an emergency fund, because you never know when you will be next on the employment chopping block. I personally know a number of people that have just lost their jobs, and it can be an absolutely devastating experience.

Unfortunately, it looks like what we have witnessed so far is just the beginning. All of the numbers tell us that economic activity is slowing down, and so we should all get ready to potentially face a rapidly deteriorating economic environment during the second half of 2019.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. 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.

These New Numbers Are Telling Us That The Global Economic Slowdown Is Far More Advanced Than We Thought

We continue to get more confirmation that the global economy is slowing down substantially. On Monday, it was China’s turn to surprise analysts, and the numbers that they just released are absolutely stunning. When Chinese imports and exports are both expanding, that is a clear sign that the global economy is running on all cylinders, but when both of them are contracting that is an indication that huge trouble is ahead. And the experts were certainly anticipating substantial increases in both categories in December, but instead there were huge declines. There is no possible way to spin these numbers to make them look good…

Data from China showed imports fell 7.6 percent year-on-year in December while analysts had predicted a 5-percent rise. Exports dropped 4.4 percent, confounding expectations for a 3-percent gain.

China now accounts for more total global trade than the United States does, and the fact that the numbers for the global economy’s number one trade hub are falling this dramatically is a major warning sign.

And of course it isn’t just China that is experiencing trouble. In fact, we just witnessed the worst industrial output numbers in Europe “in nearly three years”

Adding to the gloom were weak industrial output numbers from the euro zone, which showed the largest fall in nearly three years.

Softening demand has been felt around the world, with sales of goods ranging from iPhones to automobiles slowing, prompting profit warnings from Apple among others.

If we were headed for a major global recession, these are exactly the types of news stories that we would expect to see.

We also continue to get more indications that the U.S. economy is slowing down significantly. For example, sales of new homes in the U.S. were down 19 percent in November and 18 percent in December

Sales of newly built homes fell 18 percent in December compared with December of 2017, according to data compiled by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, a California-based housing research and analytics firm.

Due to the partial government shutdown, official government figures on home sales for November and December have not been released.

Sales were also down a steep 19 percent annually in November, according to JBRC’s analysts.

Those are horrific numbers, and they are very reminiscent of what we witnessed back in 2008.

And we also just learned that employers are cutting back on hiring new college grads for the first time in eight years

A new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) shows that for the first time in eight years, managers are pulling back the reins on hiring college grads, with a projected 1.3 percent decrease from last year. Additionally, a survey from Monster.com found that of 350 college students polled, 75 percent don’t have a job lined up yet.

I feel really bad for those that are getting ready to graduate from college, because I know what it is like to graduate in the middle of an economic downturn. At the time, many of my friends took whatever jobs they possibly could, and some of them never really got on the right track after that.

But the economic environment that is ahead will be much worse than any of the minor recessions that the U.S. has experienced in the past, and that means things are going to be extremely tough for our college graduates. And the total amount of student loan debt in this country has roughly tripled over the last decade, and so a lot of these young people are going to enter the real world with crippling amounts of debt but without the good jobs that they were promised would be there upon graduation.

As economic conditions have begun to deteriorate, I have had more people begin to ask me about what they can do to get prepared for what is coming. And I always start off by telling them the exact same thing. Today, 78 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, but when an economic downturn strikes that is precisely what you do not want to be doing.

Some people that I hear from insist that there is no possible way that they can put together an emergency fund because they are already spending everything that they are bringing in.

And yes, it is true that there are some people out there that are so financially stretched that they literally do not have a single penny to spare even though they are being extremely frugal, but the majority of us definitely have areas where we can cut back.

I realize that “cutting back” does not sound fun. But not being able to pay your mortgage when things get really bad will be a whole lot less fun.

Right now people should be focusing on reducing expenses and trying to make some extra money. Use whatever time we have left before things get really bad to put yourself into a better financial position. If you have at least a little bit of money to fall back on, it will make your life much less stressful in the long run.

In addition, anything that you can do to become more independent of the system is a good thing. On a very basic level, learning to grow a garden can end up saving you a ton of money. I was just at the grocery store earlier today, and food is getting really expensive. When the Federal Reserve says that we are in a “low inflation” environment, I always wonder what world they are living on.

When I got up to the register today, I almost felt like they were going to ask me what organ I wanted to donate in order to pay for my groceries. Unfortunately, the price of food right now is actually quite low compared to what it is going to be in the days ahead.

So I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.

I think that I have just been in a foul mood all day ever since I came across Gillette’s new “toxic masculinity” ad. I will have quite a bit to say about that ad later this evening on EndOfTheAmericanDream.com.

Ladies and gentlemen, 2019 is off to quite a rough start, and things are likely to get a whole lot rougher.

As always, let us hope for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst.

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.

Two-Thirds Of Americans Think That They Are Middle Class – But Millions Of Them Are Dead Wrong

The middle class has been steadily shrinking, but most Americans still believe that they are a part of it. Perhaps this is due at least in part to the egalitarian values which have been pounded into our heads for most of our lives. Very few Americans would have the gall to define themselves as “upper class”, and I have never met anyone that would describe themselves as “lower class”. In place of “lower class”, many politicians now like to use the much more politically correct term “working class”, but a more apt description might be “the working poor”. Today, half of all American workers make less than $30,533 a year, and you certainly cannot support a middle class lifestyle for a family with children on that kind of income.

Our incomes have stagnated as the cost of living has soared, and the middle class has experienced steady erosion as a result. But despite all that, 68 percent of all Americans still consider themselves to be “middle class”

That’s according to new data from Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study, which found that 68 percent of Americans consider themselves middle-class, down 2 percent from last year. However, because of the fuzziness of the definition, far more Americans consider themselves middle-class than technically qualify based on income.

In reality, the middle class now makes up just over 50 percent of the total U.S. population, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center, which used 2016 data. That’s compared to 61 percent in 1971.

So according to that survey, somewhere around 18 percent of all Americans wrongly believe that they belong to the middle class.

There are 325 million people living in the United States today, and so we are potentially talking about 58 million people that think that they are middle class but really aren’t.

Other surveys have come up with similar numbers. For example, one recent survey discovered that 22 percent of non-middle income Americans identified themselves as middle income

Overall, 22 percent of the non-middle-income Americans surveyed incorrectly classified themselves as middle income. The majority of those people are actually lower-income, with approximately 19 percent of the low-income Americans surveyed defining themselves as middle income. Only approximately 2 percent of upper-income Americans mistakenly defined themselves as middle income.

Of course even if someone can be defined as “middle income” does not necessarily mean that things are going well.

Today, most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time. Living on the edge financially can be a constant source of stress, and it can easily start taking over your entire life. To illustrate this point, I would like to share with you a short excerpt from a recent article by Lauren Wellbank

Like so many Americans, we struggle to get by each and every month. The compounding interest we rack up by always being a breath away from being broke plays a large role in that. We pay interest on purchases that we can’t afford to pay out of pocket in the moment (like our electric bill when my pay was short last month), and then we pay late fees when we have to take advantage of that grace period. Our monthly payments never go down because we can’t get out in front of any of it.

All of this has a psychological and emotional impact. I’m constantly running our budget through my mind, trying to reassure myself that the numbers will work out this month. I’m never not thinking about money. I dread going to the store or having to buy gas because each purchase moves us closer back down to that zero balance. The anxiety over our finances never goes away.

Have you ever been there?

Perhaps you are there right now. If so, you are definitely not alone. Most American families are deeply struggling, and it is getting worse with each passing year.

Meanwhile, the folks at the very top of the pyramid have been thriving. In fact, one study discovered that the gap between the wealthy and the poor in the United States is the largest that it has been since the 1920s.

We truly are living in a “new Gilded Age”, and the biggest winners have been those in the “top 0.1 percent”. The following comes from Matthew Stewart

It is in fact the top 0.1 percent who have been the big winners in the growing concentration of wealth over the past half century. According to the UC Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, the 160,000 or so households in that group held 22 percent of America’s wealth in 2012, up from 10 percent in 1963. If you’re looking for the kind of money that can buy elections, you’ll find it inside the top 0.1 percent alone.

It has been said that money cannot buy happiness, and that is true.

But without a doubt the numbers show that there are some tremendous disadvantages to being poor. Here is more from Stewart

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and liver disease are all two to three times more common in individuals who have a family income of less than $35,000 than in those who have a family income greater than $100,000. Among low-educated, middle-aged whites, the death rate in the United States—alone in the developed world—increased in the first decade and a half of the 21st century. Driving the trend is the rapid growth in what the Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton call “deaths of despair”—suicides and alcohol- and drug-related deaths.

Unfortunately, economic conditions are starting to deteriorate once again, and it is those at the bottom of the totem poll that are going to feel the pain first.

The period of relative stability that we had been enjoying is rapidly ending, and just about everyone can see that hard times are ahead of us.

A new survey of corporate CFOs was just released that contains some eye-popping numbers. It turns out that 49 percent of them believe that a recession will start by the end of next year, and a whopping 82 percent of them believe that a recession will have started by the end of 2020

Considering that major corporations have been busy shedding workers, it follows that corporate finance leaders see a U.S. recession ahead. Evidence of a slowing economy has been popping up, including recent large-scale cuts in head count by U.S. corporations such as General Motors and Verizon.

Eighty-two percent of chief financial officers polled believe a recession will have started by the end 2020, and nearly 49 percent think the downturn will arrive sometime next year, according to the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook, released Wednesday.

This is yet another example of the major psychological shift that is taking place in our nation. The overwhelming consensus is that economic activity is going to slow down, and it won’t be people with millions of dollars in their bank accounts that will be suffering.

No, once again it will mostly be people that are barely getting by that will be losing their jobs and their homes, and nobody is going to come riding to their rescue.

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 Outlook For The Global Economy Has Deteriorated”: Oil, Copper And Lumber Are All Telling Us The Next Economic Downturn Is Here

Oil, copper and lumber are all telling us the exact same thing, and it isn’t good news for the global economy. When economic activity is booming, demand for commodities such as oil, copper and lumber goes up and that generally causes prices to rise. But when economic activity is slowing down, demand for such commodities falls and that generally causes prices to decline. In recent weeks, we have witnessed a decline in commodity prices unlike anything that we have witnessed in years, and many are concerned that this is a very clear indication that hard times are ahead for the global economy.

Let’s talk about oil first. The price of oil peaked in early October, but since that time it has fallen more than 25 percent, and the IEA is warning of “relatively weak” demand out of Asia and Europe

The International Energy Agency said on Wednesday that while US demand for oil has been “very robust,” demand in Europe and developed Asian countries “continues to be relatively weak.” The IEA also warned of a “slowdown” in demand in developing nations such as India, Brazil and Argentina caused by high oil prices, weak currencies and deteriorating economic activity.

“The outlook for the global economy has deteriorated,” the IEA wrote.

Meanwhile, the price of copper has been declining for quite some time now. The price of copper also fell substantially just before the last recession, and many analysts are pointing out that “Dr. Copper” is now waving a red flag once again

The message of weakening demand on the oil front was reinforced by the falling price of copper. The base metal is often referred to as “Dr. Copper” on its presumed ability to forecast the peaks and troughs of business cycles since it is used in different areas of the economy such as homes, factories and electricity generation. Copper has served as a leading indicator of both recessions and economic booms.

The price of lumber is a “third witness” that indicates that big trouble is looming.

Last month, lumber dropped more than 10 percent, and that was the biggest monthly drop that we have seen in more than 7 years

In October, prices for softwood lumber in the U.S. dropped 10.3% – the largest decline since May 2011, according to the Producer Price Index (PPI) release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The producer price index for softwood lumber has fallen 21.2% since setting the cycle and all-time high in June.

If oil, copper and lumber are all telling us the same thing simultaneously, don’t you think that we should be listening?

At this point, even Bloomberg is admitting that the global economy is heading toward “a generalized slowdown”…

These developments suggest the synchronized growth that the global economy has enjoyed in recent years is likely to be replaced by a generalized slowdown. Just take a look at the data out of Japan and Germany this week, which showed the world’s third- and fourth-largest economies contracted in the third quarter.

How many signs is it going to take before people start understanding what is happening?

Wells Fargo just notified about 1,000 employees that they will be laid off. Job losses are starting to mount, and it is likely that we will start to see these sorts of news stories on an almost daily basis now.

And as the shaking on Wall Street accelerates, we are going to see more financial firms get into trouble. In fact, we just witnessed the total collapse of OptionSellers.com. The following comes from a notice that they sent to investors informing them that they lost all their money and that the firm is being liquidated…

I am writing to give you an update on the situation here with your account.

We have spent the week unwinding our short natural gas call position as expediently as possible.

Today which was to be the final day of liquidation, the market flared as prices appear to have been caught in a “short squeeze.”

The speed at which it took place is truly beyond anything I have seen in my career. It overran our risk control systems and left us at the mercy of the market.

In short, it was a rogue wave and it overwhelmed us.

Unfortunately, this has resulted in a catastrophic loss.

Our clearing firm, FC Stone now requires us to liquidate all positions. We hoped to have this done today. If not, it will be completed tomorrow.

Your account could potentially be facing a debit balance as of tomorrow. OptionSellers.com will be processing fee credits over the course of the coming days to help alleviate debit balances. What these will be will be determined after all positions are cleared.

This has in effect, crippled the firm. At this point, our brokers at FC Stone have been assisting us in liquidation.

Our offices will remain open and we will all still be here to answer your questions and process account closings. We will do everything in our power to ease what discomfort we can.

I am truly sorry this has happened.

I will be updating you again via memo in 24 hours.

Regards,

OptionSellers.com

Those investors are among the first to be completely wiped out, but they certainly won’t be the last.

The ironic thing is that Americans are less concerned about another crisis than they have been at any point since 2008 at a time when they should be more focused on getting prepared than ever.

You know that it is really late in the game when even Jim Cramer of CNBC is saying that the U.S. economy is really slowing down. A few of my readers wrote me after that article because they didn’t like the fact that I had quoted Jim Cramer. But I don’t think that they really got my point. I was not endorsing Jim Cramer as some sort of financial guru. Rather, I was pointing out that even mainstream media celebrities that were previously cheerleaders for the economy are now recognizing the reality of what we are facing.

Global economic activity is slowing down, and things are shifting very rapidly now. The weather is already getting very cold, the mood of the nation is very dark, and it would only take a very small push to send us completely tumbling over the edge.

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.

62 Percent Of All U.S. Jobs Do Not Pay Enough To Support A Middle Class Life

We just got more evidence that the middle class in America is rapidly disappearing. According to a shocking new study that was just released, 62 percent of all jobs in the United States do not pay enough to support a middle class life. That means that “the American Dream” is truly out of reach for most of the country at this point. Today, Americans are working harder than ever but the cost of living continues to rise much faster than our paychecks are increasing. Earlier this month, I went and looked at the latest numbers from the Social Security Administration, and I discovered that 50 percent of all American workers make less than $30,533 a year. But that is just above poverty level. In fact, the federal poverty level for a family of five is currently $29,420. Most families are just barely scraping by from month to month, and most U.S. workers are just one major setback away from falling out of the middle class.

It wasn’t always this way. At one time, America had the strongest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world. But now this latest study has discovered that “it’s only 38 percent of people who get the middle class life or better”

When wages are weighed against the cost of living in the largest 204 metropolitan regions across the nation, 62 percent of jobs don’t pay enough for a dual-income household with children to meet the definition of ‘middle class,’ according to a new ‘Opportunity Index‘ developed by Third Way, a Washington D.C.-based think tank.

‘We were shocked to find out it’s only 38 percent of people who get the middle class life or better,’ said Ryan Bhandari, a policy advisor for Third Way, in an interview with DailyMail.com.

It is no wonder why so many people are shopping at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Tree these days.

For many Americans, those are the literally the only places they can afford to shop.

When I was growing up, it seemed like literally everyone else around me was “middle class”, but now those days are long gone. Here is a breakdown of some more of the numbers from this latest study

  • 30 percent of jobs are “hardship jobs,” meaning they don’t allow a single adult to make ends meet.
  • 32 percent are “living wage” jobs, enough to get by but not to take vacations, save for retirement or live in a moderately priced home.
  • 23 percent are middle-class jobs, allowing for dining out, modest vacations and putting some money away for retirement.
  • 15 percent are “professional jobs,” paving the way for a more comfortable life that includes more elaborate vacations and entertainment and a more expensive home.

It sure must be nice to be in that top 15 percent.

And the definition of a “middle class income” changes based on where you live. As the study noted, it is much cheaper to live a middle class lifestyle in the middle of the country than it is to do so on the west coast. The following comes from the Daily Mail

For example, a worker in San Francisco – one of the most expensive housing markets in the country – must make a minimum of $82,142 to achieve a middle class lifestyle.

By comparison, workers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa can achieve middle class status in a job paying $40,046 or more per year.

So many of us have run ourselves ragged doing the things that we were “supposed” to do, and we assumed that a middle class life would be the reward at the end of the trail.

Unfortunately, that reward has never materialized for millions of hard working Americans. USA Today profiled one of those deeply frustrated workers in a recent article…

Esther Akutekha, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, has a good job as a public relations specialist that pays more than $50,000 a year.

But because of the $1,440 a month rent on her studio apartment in the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens neighborhood, she never takes vacations, dines out just once a month and scrapes together dinner leftovers for lunch the next day.

Can you identify with Esther?

I sure can.

It can be soul crushing to work as hard as you can only to realize that your goals are now farther away than ever. At this point, Esther is not even sure that she will ever be able to afford to have children

“I’m frustrated with the fact that I’m not going to be able to save anything because my rent is so high,” says Akutekha, who says she’s 30ish. “I don’t even know if I can afford” to have children.

We have been told that the economy has been “booming” in recent years, but the truth is that it has only been booming for people at the very top of the pyramid.

For most Americans it is as if the last recession never ended, and things just seem to keep getting worse

“There’s an opportunity crisis in the country,” says Jim Kessler, vice president of policy for Third Way and editor of the report. “It explains some of the economic uneasiness and, frankly, the political uneasiness” even amid the most robust U.S. economy and labor market since before the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. But is the economy robust? Or are we being fed a line by the mainstream media? The middle class is not thriving, and increased regulations and higher taxes make it difficult for people to branch out on their own and create their own business.

We definitely need to make it much, much easier for people to start small businesses, and this is something that I have written about extensively. Small business creation has traditionally been one of the primary vehicles for upward mobility in our nation, but right now the rate of small business creation is hovering near all-time lows. We desperately need to get that turned around if we ever want to have any hope of restoring vitality to our middle class.

If we continue on the path that we are on, we are going to continue to get the same results. Tonight, more than half a million Americans are homeless, and the ranks of the poor are growing with each passing day.

America needs a strong middle class, but currently our middle class is disintegrating at a startling pace.

If we are not able to reverse this trend, what is the future going to look like for our society?

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

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

Middle Class Destroyed: 50 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than $30,533 A Year

The middle class in America has been declining for decades, and we continue to get even more evidence of the catastrophic damage that has already been done. According to the Social Security Administration, the median yearly wage in the United States is just $30,533 at this point. That means 50 percent of all American workers make at least that much per year, but that also means that 50 percent of all American workers make that much or less per year. When you divide $30,533 by 12, you get a median monthly wage of just over $2,500. But of course nobody can provide a middle class standard of living for a family of four for just $2,500 a month, and we will discuss this further below. So in most households at least two people are working, and in many cases multiple jobs are being taken on by a single individual in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. The American people are working harder than ever, and yet the middle class just continues to erode.

The deeper we dig into the numbers provided by the Social Security Administration, the more depressing they become. Here are just a few examples from their official website

-34 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-48 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-59 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-68 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

At this moment, the federal poverty level for a family of five is $29,420, and yet about half the workers in the entire country don’t even make that much on a yearly basis.

So can someone please explain to me again why people are saying that the economy is “doing well”?

Many will point to how well the stock market has been doing, but the stock market has not been an accurate barometer for the overall economy in a very, very long time.

And the stock market has already fallen nearly 1,500 points since the beginning of the month. The bull market appears to be over and the bears are licking their chops.

No matter who has been in the White House, and no matter which political party has controlled Congress, the U.S. middle class has been systematically eviscerated year after year. Many that used to be thriving may still even call themselves “middle class”, but that doesn’t make it true.

You would think that someone making “the median income” in a country as wealthy as the United States would be doing quite well. But the truth is that $2,500 a month won’t get you very far these days.

First of all, your family is going to need somewhere to live. Especially on the east and west coasts, it is really hard to find something habitable for under $1,000 a month in 2018. If you live in the middle of the country or in a rural area, housing prices are significantly cheaper. But for the vast majority of us, let’s assume a minimum of $1,000 a month for housing costs.

Secondly, you will also need to pay your utility bills and other home-related expenses. These costs include power, water, phone, television, Internet, etc. I will be extremely conservative and estimate that this total will be about $300 a month.

Thirdly, each income earner will need a vehicle in order to get to work. In this example we will assume one income earner and a car payment of just $200 a month.

So now we are already up to $1,500 a month. The money is running out fast.

Next, insurance bills will have to be paid. Health insurance premiums have gotten ridiculously expensive in recent years, and many family plans are now well over $1,000 a month. But for this example let’s assume a health insurance payment of just $450 a month and a car insurance payment of just $50 a month.

Of course your family will have to eat, and I don’t know anyone that can feed a family of four for just $500 a month, but let’s go with that number.

So now we have already spent the entire $2,500, and we don’t have a single penny left over for anything else.

But wait, we didn’t even account for taxes yet. When you deduct taxes, our fictional family of four is well into the red every month and will need plenty of government assistance.

This is life in America today, and it isn’t pretty.

In his most recent article, Charles Hugh Smith estimated that an income of at least $106,000 is required to maintain a middle class lifestyle in America today. That estimate may be a bit high, but not by too much.

Yes, there is a very limited sliver of the population that has been doing well in recent years, but most of the country continues to barely scrape by from month to month. Out in California, Silicon Valley has generated quite a few millionaires, but the state also has the highest poverty in the entire nation. For every Silicon Valley millionaire, there are thousands upon thousands of poor people living in towns such as Huron, California

Nearly 40 percent of Huron residents — and almost half of all children — live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s more than double the statewide rate of 19 percent reported last month, which is the highest in the U.S. The national average is 12.3 percent.

“We’re in the Appalachians of the West,” Mayor Rey Leon said. “I don’t think enough urgency is being taken to resolve a problem that has existed for way too long.”

Multiple families and boarders pack rundown homes, only about a quarter of residents have high school diplomas and most lack adequate health care in an area plagued with diabetes and high asthma rates in one the nation’s most polluted air basins.

One recent study found that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s, and America’s once thriving middle class is evaporating right in front of our eyes.

We could have made much different choices as a society, but we didn’t, and now we are going to have a great price to pay for our foolishness…

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.

7 Glimpses Into The Social Decay That Is Voraciously Eating Away At The Fabric Of Our Country

Everyone agrees that America is not the same place that it once was. Our society is undergoing a fundamental transformation that is absolutely breathtaking, and some of the changes have been positive. But many would argue that most of the changes have been negative, and the truth is that we can see evidence of this all around us. Wikipedia defines social decay as “the tendency for society to decline or disintegrate over time, perhaps due to the lapse or breakdown of traditional social support systems.” As a society, we are more disconnected from one another than we have ever been before, and perhaps this is one of the big reasons why so much anger and hatred are growing all around us. At this point, a large portion of the population doesn’t even seem to possess a basic level of empathy and compassion for their fellow citizens, and that has frightening implications for the future of our nation.

Because we are so disconnected from one another, it is very easy for each of us to get intensely focused on the details of our own daily lives.

But when we step back and take a broader view of things, the extent to which our society has deteriorated is quite stunning.

Today, I would like to share with you 7 glimpses into the social decay that is voraciously eating away at the fabric of our country…

#1 Long Island – Gang activity is spreading like wildfire all over America. On Long Island, some homeowners in the Hamptons are actually installing “panic rooms” in their homes as MS-13 continues to move east on Long Island

Wealthy Hamptons homeowners are securing their homes by installing luxury panic rooms to protect themselves from the dangerous MS-13 gang that has plagued Suffolk County.

Billionaire Gristedes supermarket mogul, John Catsimatidis, told the New York Post ‘I sleep with a gun underneath my pillow: a Walther PPK/S, the same one James Bond carried.’

‘[My wife] Margo prefers a shotgun. Although, once, she thought she heard something, got the shotgun out and shot through the door,’ he added.

#2 South Fulton County, Georgia – Law enforcement authorities recently discovered “more than 10 decapitated goats” in and around the Chattahoochee River. Needless to say, this completely shocked the residents of South Fulton County

Officials say they found more than 10 decapitated goats in and around the Chattahoochee River.

Channel 2’s Tom Jones was in South Fulton County, where the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper found the headless animals floating down the river near the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive bridge.

#3 Baltimore, Maryland – The opioid crisis in America has never been worse than it is right now. As a result, many babies are addicted to the drugs the moment that they are born. In the city of Baltimore, approximately one out of every four babies is born as an opioid addict…

Every 15 minutes, a baby is born dependent on opioids. In Baltimore, doctors at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital say babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome — a set of conditions caused by withdrawal from exposure to drugs — now account for 25% of the hospital’s admissions.

#4 Birmingham – Nowhere is social decay more evident than among our young people. Not too long ago, a wild brawl in Birmingham involving approximately 30 teens made global headlines

One of the gang appears to be brandishing a machete as he strikes the victim.

West Midlands Police confirmed three people sustained stab injuries and were taken to hospital.

Witnesses claimed there were “about 30” youngsters “aged around 16” involved in the incident.

#5 Auburn, Washington – Do you remember what I said earlier about many Americans lacking basic empathy and compassion? Well, an incident that just happened in Auburn, Washington is a perfect example of that. It all started when a convenience store clerk confronted a pair of potential thieves

The horrific incident occurred in Auburn, Washington Saturday, when two teenagers and an adult male got into an argument with a Shell station attendant who said the pair owed money for two pepperoni sticks that had arrogantly helped themselves to. After walking around the counter and confronting the group, clerk Zarif Kelada suddenly staggered forward and collided with a water bottle stand before collapsing to the ground.

Instead of helping the clerk, the two boys decided that it was a great opportunity to rob the store. As one of the boys was leaving, he even ripped a dollar bill out of the dying clerk’s hand

Instead of physically helping the clerk, or at the very least calling 911, the two boys seize their opportunity and pounced on the unmanned checkout. The man chose not to participate in the robbery, but also failed to signal for help – he simply strolled out the door, leaving Zarif dying on the ground. After stealing cigarettes and over $150 from the register, one of the boys committed a final act of defiance, ripping a dollar bill out of Kelada’s hand as he lay on the ground, struggling for air.

You can see video of this robbery right here. If this is what the future of America looks like, we are all in really big trouble.

#6 Portland, Oregon – Just recently, Antifa took over the streets of downtown Portland and actually started directing traffic. Portland police monitored them the entire time, but they refused to intervene. When one extremely frightened elderly man refused to follow Antifa’s directions, they attacked his vehicle, causing $3,000 in damage

Video captured by Brandon Farley shows the driver inching forward, getting clear and driving away quickly. He stopped less than a block away, got out, looked at the damage to his car quickly, then got back in as protesters arrived and again began hitting his car.

The driver, who spoke with KOIN 6 News but did not want to go on-camera, said he got out of his car earlier and asked protesters to move. But, he said, they grabbed him. He got back into the car, which is when they began beating on his car and smashed his driver’s side window.

The person in front of the car was trying to lift up the front end as the driver was trying to get out of the area.

The driver said there is $3000 damage to his car. He called the police to file a report after he left the area, which police confirmed.

#7 San Francisco, California – One of the wealthiest cities in America has also become a cesspool of crime, drugs and human feces. An Inside Edition news crew went down to one of the worst parts of San Francisco to report on the crime wave, but while they did that their own vehicle was broken into and “thousands of dollars worth of equipment” was stolen

While the crew was interviewing the man captured on camera in the initial theft, their actual crew car was broken into via the “smash and grab” method, leaving “thousands of dollars worth of equipment” stolen.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, more than 31,000 people reported “smash and grab” robberies in the city in 2017 alone.

If 31,000 people reported “smash and grab” robberies in San Francisco last year, how many more went unreported to the police?

What in the world is happening to us? America was once “the shining city on a hill” that the rest of the world admired, but now the only example we are is a bad one.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but we have got to be willing to go back to the values and the principles that made our country so great in the first place.

If we continue down the path that we are currently on, how do we possibly expect to have any sort of a positive future as a nation?

Change is desperately needed, but unfortunately real change does not appear to be anywhere on the horizon at this point…

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.

Oil Prices Have Been Rising And $4 A Gallon Gasoline Would Put Enormous Stress On The U.S. Economy

Thanks to increasing demand and upcoming U.S. sanctions against Iran, oil prices have been rising and some analysts are forecasting that they will surge even higher in the months ahead. Unfortunately, that would be very bad news for the U.S. economy at a time when concerns about a major economic downturn have already been percolating. In recent years, extremely low gasoline prices have been one of the factors that have contributed to a period of relative economic stability in the United States. Because our country is so spread out, we import such a high percentage of our goods, and we are so dependent on foreign oil, our economy is particularly vulnerable to gasoline price shocks. Anyone that lived in the U.S. during the early 1970s can attest to that. If the average price of gasoline rises to $4 a gallon by the end of 2018 that will be really bad news, and if the average price of gasoline were to hit $5 a gallon that would be catastrophic for the economy.

Very early on Tuesday, the price of U.S. oil surged past $70 a barrel in anticipation of the approaching hurricane along the Gulf Coast. The following comes from Fox Business

U.S. oil prices rose on Tuesday, breaking past $70 per barrel, after two Gulf of Mexico oil platforms were evacuated in preparation for a hurricane.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $70.05 per barrel at 0353 GMT, up 25 cents, or 0.4 percent from their last settlement.

If we stay at about $70 a gallon, that isn’t going to be much of a problem.

But some analysts are now speaking of “an impending supply crunch”, and that is a very troubling sign. For example, just check out what Stephen Brennock is saying

“Exports from OPEC’s third-biggest producer are falling faster than expected and worse is to come ahead of a looming second wave of U.S. sanctions,” said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates. “Fears of an impending supply crunch are gaining traction.”

So how high could prices ultimately go?

Well, energy expert John Kilduff is now projecting that we could see the price of gasoline at $4 a gallon by winter

Energy expert John Kilduff counts Iran sanctions as the top reason West Texas Intermediate (WTI) could climb as much as 30 percent by winter, and that could spell $4 a gallon unleaded gasoline at the pumps.

“The global market is tight and it’s getting tighter, and the big strangle around the market right now is what’s in the process of happening with Iran and the Iran sanctions,” the Again Capital founding partner said on CNBC’s “Futures Now.”

About two months from now, U.S. sanctions will formally be imposed on Iran, and that is going to significantly restrict the supply of oil available in the marketplace.

So refiners that had relied on Iranian oil are “scrambling” to find new suppliers, and this could ultimately drive oil prices much higher

Iran’s oil exports are plummeting, as refiners scramble to find alternatives ahead of a re imposition of U.S. sanctions in early November. That in turn has helped drain a glut of unsold oil.

“To the extent we’re seeing the Iran barrels lost to the market, you’re looking at a WTI price and Brent in the $85 to $95 range, potentially,” Kilduff said.

Other sources are also predicting that oil prices will rise.

Barclays is warning that “prices could reach $80 and higher in the short term”, and BNP Paribas is now anticipating that Brent crude will average $79 a barrel in 2019.

In addition to the upcoming Iranian sanctions, rising global demand for oil is also a major factor that is pushing up prices.

For example, many Americans don’t even realize that China has surpassed us and has now become the biggest crude oil importer on the entire planet

China became the world’s largest crude oil importer in 2017, surpassing the US and importing 8.4 million barrels per day.

The US only imported 7.9 million barrels per day in 2017, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

So what is the bottom line for U.S. consumers?

The bottom line is that gasoline prices are likely to jump substantially, and that is going to affect prices for almost everything else that you buy.

Excluding tech products, virtually everything else that Americans purchase has to be transported, and so the price of gasoline must be factored into the cost.

So if gasoline prices shoot up quite a bit, that means that almost everything is going to cost more.

And this would be happening at a time when inflation is already on the rise

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, less food and energy, hit 2.4% in July 2018. That’s its highest reading since September 2008.

Of course 2.4 percent doesn’t really sound that scary, and that is how the government likes it.

But if the rate of inflation was still calculated the way it was back in 1990, the current inflation rate would be above 6 percent.

And if the rate of inflation was still calculated the way it was back in 1980, the current inflation rate would be above 10 percent.

Inflation is a hidden tax on all of us, and it is one of the big reasons why the middle class is being eroded so rapidly.

Please do not underestimate the impact of the price of oil. It shot above $100 a barrel in 2008, and it was one of the factors that precipitated the financial crisis later that year.

Now we are rapidly approaching another crisis point, and there are so many wildcards that could potentially cause major problems.

One of those wildcards that I haven’t even talked about in this article would be a major war in the Middle East. One of these days it will happen, and the price of oil will instantly soar to well above $100 a barrel.

We live at a time of rising global instability, and we should all learn to start expecting the unexpected.

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.

Over The Last 10 Years The U.S. Economy Has Grown At EXACTLY The Same Rate As It Did During The 1930s

Even though I write about our ongoing long-term economic collapse every day, I didn’t realize that things were this bad. In this article, I am going to show you that the average rate of growth for the U.S. economy over the past 10 years is exactly equal to the average rate that the U.S. economy grew during the 1930s. Perhaps this fact shouldn’t be that surprising, because we already knew that Barack Obama was the only president in the entire history of the United States not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent. Of course the mainstream media continues to push the perception that the U.S. economy is in “recovery mode”, but the truth is that this current era has far more in common with the Great Depression than it does with times of great economic prosperity.

Earlier today I came across an article about President Trump’s new budget from Fox News, and in this article the author makes a startling claim…

The hard fact is that the past decade’s $10 trillion in deficit spending has produced the worst economic growth as measured by Gross Domestic Product in our nation’s history. You read that right, in the past decade our nation’s economy grew slower than even during the Great Depression. This stagnant, new normal, low-growth economy is leaving millions of working age people behind who have given up even trying to participate, and has led to a malaise where many doubt that the American dream is attainable.

When I first read that, I thought that this claim could not possibly be true. But I was curious, and so I looked up the numbers for myself.

What I found was absolutely astounding.

The following are U.S. GDP growth rates for every year during the 1930s

1930: -8.5%
1931: -6.4%
1932: -12.9%
1933: -1.3%
1934: 10.8%
1935: 8.9%
1936: 12.9%
1937: 5.1%
1938: -3.3%
1939: 8.0%

When you average all of those years together, you get an average rate of economic growth of 1.33 percent.

That is really bad, but it is the kind of number that one would expect from “the Great Depression”.

So then I looked up the numbers for the last ten years

2007: 1.8%
2008: -0.3%
2009: -2.8%
2010: 2.5%
2011: 1.6%
2012: 2.2%
2013: 1.7%
2014: 2.4%
2015: 2.6%
2016: 1.6%

When you average these years together, you get an average rate of economic growth of 1.33 percent.

I thought that was a really strange coincidence, and so I pulled up my calculator and ran all of the numbers again and I got the exact same results.

The 1930s certainly had more big ups and downs, but the average rate of economic growth during that decade was exactly the same as we have seen over the past 10 years.

And of course the early 1940s turned out to be a boom time for the U.S. economy, while it appears that our rate of economic growth is actually slowing down. As I noted yesterday, U.S. GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017 was just 0.7 percent.

But you don’t hear any talk like this on the mainstream news, do you?

Instead, they tell us that everything is just peachy.

I often wonder what things would be like right now if Barack Obama and his minions in Congress had not added more than 9 trillion dollars to the national debt. By stealing all of that money from future generations of Americans and spending it now, Obama was able to artificially prop up the U.S. economy. If we were able to go back and remove 9 trillion dollars of government spending from the economy over the past 8 years, we would be in a rip-roaring economic depression right now. For an extended analysis of this, please see my previous article entitled “The Shocking Truth About How Barack Obama Was Able To Prop Up The U.S. Economy”

But even though we have been adding more than a trillion dollars to the national debt each year, and even though the Federal Reserve pushed interest rates all the way to the floor during the Obama era, the U.S. economy has not grown by three percent or more on an annual basis since 2005.

When you take an honest look at the numbers, there is no way that anyone can possibly claim that the U.S. economy is doing well. The best that you can say is that we have been staving off a complete economic meltdown and another Great Depression, but of course the measures that our leaders have been taking to do this have just been making our long-term problems even worse.

I feel bad for President Trump, because he has inherited the biggest economic mess in U.S. history. When we finally reach the point when it is impossible to artificially prop up the U.S. economy any longer, he is going to get most of the blame, but he won’t deserve it.

It is not going to be possible for Trump or anyone else to fix our system, because it was fundamentally flawed from the very beginning. The Federal Reserve was designed to create an endless spiral of government debt, and since the day it was created the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger and the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by about 98 percent.

If we truly want to fix the economy, the Federal Reserve must be abolished. If I was President Trump, I would look to start issuing debt-free U.S. currency just like President Kennedy did in 1963 as soon as possible.

In addition, we need to push tax rates as low as possible. Personally, I would like to see the day when the personal income tax is completely eliminated and the IRS is shut down. The greatest period of economic growth in all of U.S. history was when there was no income tax and no Federal Reserve. America once thrived in such an environment, and I believe that we can do it again.

Of course we need to also dramatically reduce the size and scope of the federal government. Our founders intended to create a very limited federal government, but instead the left has just kept pushing to make it larger and larger.

Businesses all over America are being strangled to death by mountains of federal regulations, and if we could just get the government off of their backs the business community could start thriving again. There are quite a few government agencies that could be shut down entirely, and I think that the EPA would be a good place to start.

Once upon a time the United States showed the world the power of free markets and capitalism, and if we want to make America great again, we should go back and do the things that made America great in the first place.

But would the American people be willing to go down that path?

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Homeless For The Holidays

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Could you imagine spending the holidays in a homeless shelter, in a tent city surrounded by drug addicts and prostitutes, or in a sleeping bag on the cold, hard streets of an urban jungle? Unfortunately, that is what real life looks like for an increasing number of Americans. Most of the time when we think of “homeless people”, the image that comes into our minds is one of a grizzled old man asking for some spare change, but the truth is that vast numbers of women and children in our country do not have anywhere to live. In fact, Poverty USA has reported that last year a grand total 1.6 million U.S. children stayed either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing. And you never hear the mainstream media report this number, but the truth is that the number of homeless children in the United States has risen by 60 percent since the “end” of the last recession. For the moment the wealthy are getting wealthier, but meanwhile things have just continued to get harder and harder for those that are struggling to survive in this economy.

In Wal-Mart parking lots and campgrounds all over America tonight, you will find formerly middle class families that are living in cars, trucks and recreational vehicles during this holiday season. Most of them will never complain and will try to put on a happy face outwardly, but inside the worry and fear are eating them alive.

As the weather gets cold, many homeless Americans head for warmer climates, and this is one of the factors that is fueling the unprecedented homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. The following comes from L.A. Weekly

By nearly every metric, Los Angeles has the worst homelessness crisis of any city in America. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are more people suffering from chronic homelessness in L.A. than anywhere in the country, and their number is growing at a faster clip than those in New York City.

One homeless man in Los Angeles has decided to do what he can to make the best of his circumstances. He has transformed a depressingly bleak area underneath a freeway underpass into his own “personal paradise”

A homeless man who turned a freeway underpass into his personal paradise by furnishing it with a make-shift jacuzzi and four-poster bed has become a viral hit and unlikely tourist attraction.

Ceola Waddell Jr, 59, began living in the underpass in L.A.’s 110 freeway near Coliseum six months ago.

He has since foraged two porcelain toilets, discarded refrigerators, couches and two beds to transform the space into his personal refuge.

You can’t help but smile when you read what Mr. Waddell has done, but the truth is that the homelessness crisis in the state is rapidly getting way out of control. In fact, Los Angeles is swamped by so many homeless people at this point that the L.A. City Council has asked California Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency.

On the east coast things are getting really, really bad as well.

You may find this hard to believe, but the number of homeless people in New York City has never been higher

The number of homeless people living in New York City has reached a record-high.

The Department of Homeless Services reported there were 60,252, up 200 in two weeks.

Now, some are saying the city’s current plan to combat homelessness isn’t working.

So why is this happening?

The stock market is at an all-time high and the mainstream media keeps telling us that things are getting better, and yet poverty just continues to rise.

Other than the very wealthy, the truth is that things are not getting any better for virtually everyone else. In fact, it has been reported that over half of all New Yorkers “are teetering on the brink of homelessness”…

More than half of all New Yorkers are teetering on the brink of homelessness — without enough cash in the bank to cover them in the event of a disaster or lost job, a troubling new study has found.

Nearly 60 percent of all New Yorkers don’t have enough emergency savings to cover at least three months’ worth of household expenses like food, housing and rent, according to a recent report from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development.

This is one of the reasons why I am always encouraging my readers to build up their emergency funds. Sadly, the cold, hard reality of the matter is that most of the country is only a couple of paychecks away from losing everything.

To give you an idea of how deep the suffering can be this time of the year for those that have already lost it all, I want to share with you a story of a precious little dog named Ollie

When Ollie was found, his fur was matted and so long you couldn’t see his adorable little eyes. He was clearly in need of dire help.

A woman and her sister saw Ollie outside her apartment, shivering in the freezing cold. They brought him in and quickly called the Michigan Humane Society to help take care of the dog.

Once Ollie was brought in, it was discovered just how sick he is. Had he not been rescued, he would have suffered a very painful death alone in the streets.

Very few people could come across a hurting dog like Ollie without helping him out, but what about the countless numbers of our fellow Americans that no longer have a warm home and will spend the night shivering in the cold?

Look, the truth is that you don’t have to have a whole lot of resources in order to make a difference. In Tennessee, there is a group of elderly women that refer to themselves as “the bag ladies” that are turning old plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless

It all starts with cutting plastic bags into strips, tying those strips together, and rolling them into a ball.

The Bag Ladies call it “plarn,” instead of yarn. They then crochet the “plarn” into mats.

It takes 600 bags to make an 18 square foot mat. So far, this year, they have used 52,000 bags to make 88 mats.

“This is not young ladies doing this. This is older ladies with the arthritis,” said Akin.

How marvelous is that?

A single act of kindness can make a world of difference.

In the months ahead, temperatures are only going to get colder and economic conditions are only going to get tougher for those that are already living in poverty.

I would encourage all of us to think about what we can do to make a difference for those that are deeply hurting this time of the year.

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.

11 Very Depressing Economic Realities That Donald Trump Will Inherit From Barack Obama

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It would be a grave mistake to understate the amount of damage that has been done to the U.S. economy over the past eight years. In this article, I am going to share some economic numbers with you that are extremely sobering. Anyone that takes a cold, hard, honest look at the numbers should be able to see that our economy is in terrible shape. Unfortunately, the way that we see things is often clouded by our political views. Up until the election, Democrats were far more likely then Republicans to believe that the economy was improving, but now that is in the process of completely reversing. According to Gallup, only 16 percent of Republicans believed that the economy was getting better before the election, but that number has suddenly jumped to 49 percent after Trump’s election victory. And the percentage of Democrats that believe that the economy is getting better fell from 61 percent to 46 percent after the election. Here are some additional details from Gallup

After Trump won last week’s election, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now have a much more optimistic view of the U.S. economy’s outlook than they did before the election. Just 16% of Republicans said the economy was getting better in the week before the election, while 81% said it was getting worse. Since the election, 49% say it is getting better and 44% worse.

Conversely, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents’ confidence in the economy plummeted after the election. Before the election, 61% of Democrats said the economy was getting better and 35% worse. Now, Democrats are evenly divided, with 46% saying it is getting better and 47% saying it is getting worse.

The truth, of course, is that the result of the election did not somehow magically alter the outlook for the U.S. economy.

We still have a giant mess on our hands, and the following are 11 very depressing economic realities that Donald Trump will inherit from Barack Obama…

#1 Nearly 7 out of every 10 Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. That means that about two-thirds of the country is essentially living paycheck to paycheck at this moment.

#2 Reuters is reporting that U.S. mall investors are poised to lose “billions” of dollars as the “retail apocalypse” in this nation deepens.

#3 Credit card delinquencies have hit the highest level that we have seen since 2012.

#4 Approximately 35 percent of all Americans have a debt that is at least 180 days past due.

#5 The rate of homeownership has fallen for eight years in a row and is now hovering near a 50 year low.

#6 The total number of government employees now outnumbers the total number of manufacturing employees in this country by almost 10 million.

#7 The number of homeless people in New York City (where Donald Trump is from) has hit a brand new record high.

#8 About 20 percent of all young adults are currently living with their parents.

#9 Total household debt in the United States has now reached a grand total of 12.3 trillion dollars.

#10 The total amount of corporate debt in the U.S. has nearly doubled since the end of 2007.

#11 When Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. government was 10.6 trillion dollars in debt. Today, the U.S. national debt is currently sitting at a staggering total of $19,842,173,949,869.58.

Despite nearly doubling the national debt during his eight years in the White House, Barack Obama is going to be the only president in United States history to never have a single year when U.S. GDP grew by at least three percent.

So will Donald Trump waltz in and suddenly turn everything around?

Just like when George W. Bush was elected, there is a lot of optimism about the future right now among Republicans.

And in 2017, Republicans are going to have control of the Senate and the House in addition to being in control of the White House.

But does that mean that they will actually get anything done?

For a moment, let’s review what didn’t happen the last time the Republicans were in this position. The following is an extended excerpt from an article by author Devvy Kidd

—–

The Republicans had control of both houses of Congress part of the time during Bush, Jr.’s two terms. Did they lock down our borders? NO.

Did they pass legislation to stop ALL funding for illegals which would self-deport millions of liars, cheats and thieves? NO. (READ, please: How to Self-Deport Millions of Illegals)

Did they stop trillions in unconstitutional spending? NO.

Did they get rid of any of Clinton’s unconstitutional Executive Orders? One or two but otherwise let Comrade Bill Clinton crap in our faces.

Did they get rid of one unconstitutional cabinet like HHS, Department of Education and EPA? NO.

Did they stop the unconstitutional foreign aid? NO.

Did they stop unconstitutional spending for Planned Parenthood? NO. Congress just continues to use borrowed money to spend more debt.

Did they stop unconstitutional spending for the gigantic hoax called global warming or climate change? NO. Trump: The Left Just Lost The War On Climate Change

Did Bush, Jr., get us out of all the destructive trade treaties killing American jobs? NO.

Did they crack down on visas bringing in tens of thousands of foreign workers when American workers who want to work are left in the unemployment line? NO.

Did they stop more and more federal regulations strangling America’s businesses? NO.

Did they impeach one single activist judge destroying our freedom and liberty? NO.

A Republican controlled Congress with a Republican in the White House and they did virtually NOTHING to restore America to a constitutional republic and constitutional spending.

—–

So will things be any different under a Trump administration?

We shall see.

There will be tremendous pressure to maintain the status quo in many instances, because the process of fixing things would undoubtedly make conditions worse in the short-term.

A great example of this is the national debt. As I discussed yesterday, the only reason why we are able to enjoy such a massively inflated standard of living in this country is because we have been able to borrow trillions upon trillions of dollars from the rest of the world at ultra-low interest rates.

If the federal government started spending only the money that it brought in through taxes, our ridiculous debt-fueled standard of living would begin collapsing immediately.

We consume far more wealth than we produce, and the only way that we are able to do this is by borrowing insane amounts of money.

Either Donald Trump will continue to borrow money recklessly, or we will go into a major league economic downturn.

It really is that simple.

But when our politicians borrow money, they are literally destroying the future of this country. So the choice is pain in the short-term or greater pain in the long-term.

There is a way out, and that would involve shutting down the Federal Reserve and going to a completely debt-free form of money, but that is a topic for another article.

And unfortunately that is not something that is even on Donald Trump’s radar at this point.

No matter who won the election, the next president was going to be faced with some very harsh economic realities.

There are many out there that have faith that Donald Trump can pull off an unprecedented economic miracle, but there are others that are deeply skeptical.

Let us hope for the best, but let us also keep preparing for the worst.

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.

The Percentage Of Working Age Men That Do Not Have A Job Is Similar To The Great Depression

Great Depression

Why are so many men in their prime working years unemployed? The Obama administration would have us believe that unemployment is low in this country, but that is not true at all. In fact, one author quoted by NPR says that “it’s kind of worse than it was in the depression in 1940”. Most Americans don’t realize this, but more men from ages 25 to 54 are “inactive” right now than was the case during the last recession. We have millions upon millions of strong young men just sitting around doing nothing. They aren’t employed and they aren’t considered to be looking for employment either, and so they don’t show up in the official unemployment numbers. But they don’t have jobs, and nothing the Obama administration does can eliminate that fact.

According to NPR, “nearly 100 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked” in the 1960s.

In those days, just about any dependable, hard working American man could get hired almost immediately. The economy was growing and the demand for labor was seemingly insatiable.

But today, one out of every six men in their prime working years does not have a job

In a recent report, President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers said 83 percent of men in the prime working ages of 25-54 who were not in the labor force had not worked in the previous year. So, essentially, 10 million men are missing from the workforce.

One in six prime-age guys has no job; it’s kind of worse than it was in the depression in 1940,” says Nicholas Eberstadt, an economic and demographic researcher at American Enterprise Institute who wrote the book Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis. He says these men aren’t even counted among the jobless, because they aren’t seeking work.

So why is this happening?

If you look at the inactivity rate for men in the 25 to 54 age bracket, it was sitting at just 8.1 percent in January 2000.

In January 2008, right at the beginning of the last recession, it was sitting at 9.2 percent, and by the end of the recession it had risen to 10.3 percent.

Today, it is sitting at 11.5 percent.

Remember, these are men that don’t even count toward the official unemployment rate. They are not working, but they are not considered to be “looking for work” either.

So what are these men doing?

You may be tempted to think that many of them have decided to stay home and raise the kids as their wives go off to work. But according to NPR, that is not what is happening

What the missing men aren’t doing in large numbers is staying home to take care of family. Forty percent of nonworking women are primary caregivers; that’s true of only 5 percent of men out of the workforce.

We do have the largest prison population in the entire world by far, and without a doubt that does play a role in these numbers. However, a far bigger factor is the millions of men that have become content being dependents of the federal government. More than 100 million Americans receive money from the government each month, and a lot of people (both men and women) have found that it is just easier to sit back and collect government checks than it is to go out and try to work hard for a living.

But of course the number one factor is the lack of jobs available. I personally know people that have been looking for work in their fields for years and have not been able to get hired. We have a major employment crisis in this nation, and it is only going to get worse in the years ahead as we continue to lose jobs to technology and millions more good jobs get shipped overseas.

And a lot of the “jobs” that have been created during the Obama administration have been very low quality jobs. Since December 2014, we have gained about half a million jobs for waiters and bartenders, but meanwhile we have actually lost good paying manufacturing jobs. If we continue down this road, the middle class will continue to shrink.

In addition to everything that I have just shared, here are some other facts that are pertinent to this discussion…

-Right at this moment, there are approximately 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job.

-Nearly one out of every five young adults are currently living with their parents.

-The Wall Street Journal recently declared that this is the weakest “economic recovery” since 1949.

-Barack Obama is on track to be the only president in U.S. history to never have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by at least 3 percent.

The economy is far weaker than you are being told, the employment crisis is far worse than you are being told, and as I mentioned yesterday, the stage is clearly set for a new financial crisis of epic proportions.

And if we are going to see markets crash, this time of the year is a good time for it. In fact, CNBC says that history tells us that this is the “worst period of the year for stocks”…

The worst period of the year for stocks has just begun — at least based on market history.

Over the entire 120-year history of the Dow Jones industrial average, Sept. 6 to Oct. 29 tends to be the worst period for the market. And more specifically, the last few weeks of September have been an especially bad time.

Someday when people look back at this time in history, they will not be surprised by how horrific the coming collapse will be. The truth is that anyone with a lick of common sense can see that the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world is going to end badly.

No, what is going to amaze them is that the system was able to hold together as long as it did. It truly is incredible that the debt-based, fiat currency Ponzi scheme that the central banks of the world have been desperately trying to prop up has been able to keep chugging along all the way to the middle of 2016.

How much longer can they keep the magic going?

I don’t know, but history tells us that time is not on their side…

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

Overwhelmed By Debt, Nearly 1 In 5 Young Adults Live With Their Parents Or Grandparents

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In America today, more than 60 million people live in multi-generational households. That number is so large that it may seem difficult to believe, but the truth is that vast numbers of young adults have had to move back in with their parents and grandparents in recent years due to the deteriorating economy. Millions of our young people cannot find decent jobs once they leave school, and millions of them are absolutely overwhelmed by debt. Of course some of them are just lazy, but whatever the reason it is undeniable that multi-generational households are on the rise. According to the Pew Research Center, 12 percent of the U.S. population was living in multi-generational households back in 1980. Today, that number is up to 19 percent. That means nearly one out of every five U.S. adults now live with their parents or their grandparents.

One of the big culprits, of course, is student loan debt.

According to CNN, approximately 70 percent of all college graduates will have student loan debt to pay off once they leave school, and the average loan balance for those graduates is about $28,950.

But there are many that run up $50,000 or $100,000 in debt at high end schools. We encourage our young people to apply to the “best schools” that they possibly can, and we tell them that they shouldn’t worry about how much it will cost. We assure them that they will be able to easily pay back any debts once they leave college because of the “good jobs” that they will get upon graduation.

Unfortunately, millions upon millions of our young people have discovered that the good jobs that they were promised simply do not exist.

We are also seeing other forms of debt rise to frightening levels in this nation. The following comes from the New York Times

Over all, Americans’ use of credit cards has recently been creeping up again: Household debt in the United States increased by $35 billion, to $12.29 trillion, during the second quarter of 2016, a 0.3 percent rise from the previous quarter that was driven by credit cards and auto loans, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

We often criticize the federal government for being 19.4 trillion dollars in debt, and rightly so, but let us not forget that U.S. households are 12.2 trillion dollars in debt.

We are a society that feels entitled to everything, and we are not afraid to go into debt to get it. And unfortunately we have passed on this “entitlement mentality” to the next generation.

In a recent blog post, Jenna Abrams did an amazing job of describing the crisis that we are facing with our young adults today. Here is an excerpt…

Today I asked my followers how would they describe Millennials and this is what I got: “lazy”, “thin-skinned”, “spoiled”, “selfish”, “undisciplined”, “self-absorbed”, ”fragile”, “oblivious”, etc. and I can agree on this. This generation is really what you call it. But there was one description that is the most accurate. “Raised by neglectful, over-compensating for inadequacy, self-serving parents.”

You’re in charge. You insisted your children and grandchildren have to get higher education instead of taking a blue-collar job or just entering the workforce after school like your generation did. Most of you pay for that (often unnecessary) higher education. You are overprotective and prevent your children from playing outside and making mistakes you had a chance to make to gain that thick skin. You don’t let your 12-year-old kid stay at home alone because they are too young. And who is wrong when your child has a conflict at school? I bet you always blame the other side, not your “special snowflake”. And how you get surprised that the whole generation gets offended by facing the truth: they are not special. It must hurt, right?

This generation of young adults is the most “educated” in our history, and yet they also appear to be one of the least competent. Just check out these numbers from CBS News

Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.

In the old days, our institutions of higher learning had exceedingly high standards and they demanded the best from students. Today, our system of higher education is a joke, and many of our best colleges are more focused on political correctness and “safe spaces” than they are on preparing our young people for the harsh realities of the real world…

At Brown University – like Harvard, one of the eight elite Ivy League universities – the New York Times reported students set up a “safe space” that offered calming music, cookies, Play-Doh and a video of frolicking puppies to help students cope with a discussion on how colleges should handle sexual assault.

A Harvard student described in the university newspaper attending a “safe space” complete with “massage circles” that was designed to help students have open conversations.

We have raised a generation of overly-coddled, self-absorbed boys and girls that have never learned how to become men and women. They don’t understand how things really work, and they are completely and utterly unprepared for the exceedingly difficult times that are coming.

And since our education system is completely and totally dominated by progressives, our young people have had decades of liberal propaganda pumped into their skulls, and the results are absolutely frightening.

For example, one survey discovered that 62 percent of Millennials say that they are “liberal”, and 42 percent of them say that they are “socialists”.

A different survey discovered that more than half of all U.S. adults under the age of 30 say that they reject capitalism.

If the coming election were to be determined by the Millennials, Hillary Clinton would win by one of the biggest landslides in U.S. history. But of course she wouldn’t have even been the nominee for the Democrats, because Bernie Sanders would have crushed Clinton.

If something is not done, this is what the future of America is going to look like.

I don’t know about you, but to me that is a rather distressing thought.

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

They Are Putting Armed Guards On Food Trucks In Venezuela

Security Guard - Public Domain

We are watching what happens when the economy of a developed nation totally implodes. Just a few years ago, Venezuela was the wealthiest nation in all of South America, and they still have more proven oil reserves than anyone else on the entire planet including Saudi Arabia. But now people down there are so hungry and so desperate that some of them are actually hunting dogs, cats and pigeons for food. Just a few days ago, I gave a talk down at Morningside during which I warned that someday we would see armed guards on food trucks in America. After that talk was done, I went back up to my room and I came across a New York Times article which had been republished by MSN that explained that this exact thing is already happening down in Venezuela…

With delivery trucks under constant attack, the nation’s food is now transported under armed guard. Soldiers stand watch over bakeries. The police fire rubber bullets at desperate mobs storming grocery stores, pharmacies and butcher shops. A 4-year-old girl was shot to death as street gangs fought over food.

Venezuela is convulsing from hunger.

Hundreds of people here in the city of Cumaná, home to one of the region’s independence heroes, marched on a supermarket in recent days, screaming for food. They forced open a large metal gate and poured inside. They snatched water, flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, potatoes, anything they could find, leaving behind only broken freezers and overturned shelves.

All over the country, people are standing in extremely long lines day after day hoping to get some food. Sometimes the food trucks don’t bring anything, and sometimes it is just scraps like fish heads and rotten fruit. To get a better idea of what life is like in Venezuela right now, just check out this YouTube video

As people down in Venezuela get hungrier and hungrier, extreme desperation is setting in. And with extreme desperation comes crime and violence

A 4-year-old girl, Britani Lara, was reportedly shot to death Tuesday in the Caracas suburb of Guatire as she stood in line with her mother outside a government-owned Mercal grocery store.

El Nacional newspaper reported that gangs on motorcycles have fought over the right to control and distribute food at the Guatire store and that the gunfire may have been a result of that dispute. Eight others were reportedly injured in the incident.

Violence also was reported at a food protest staged in front of a store in the city of Cariaco in central Sucre state, where 21-year-old Luis Fuentes was killed by a gunshot. Eleven others were wounded, according to El Nacional newspaper.

Could you imagine living in a nation where all this is going on?

Most Americans could not even conceive of such a thing. But of course the truth is that up until just recently most Venezuelans could not either. In fact, just a couple years ago Venezuela was one of the most prosperous nations in all of South America

Two years ago, Venezuela was a normal functioning nation, relatively speaking of course. It was by no means a free country, but the people still had a standard of living that was higher than most developing nations. Venezuelans could still afford the basic necessities of life, and a few luxuries too.

They could send their children to school and expect them to receive a reasonably good education, and they could go to the hospital and expect to be effectively treated with the same medical standards you’d find in a developed nation. They could go to the grocery store and buy whatever they needed, and basic government services like law enforcement and infrastructure maintenance worked fairly well. The system was far from perfect, but it worked for the most part.

There are all sorts of signs that the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted in the United States is starting to crumble as well. If you follow End Of The American Dream on a regular basis, you know that I post articles about this theme all the time. But today I just want to share one tidbit with you. Reuters is reporting that the number of heroin users in this country has nearly tripled since 2003, and the number of heroin-related deaths is now about five times higher than it was in the year 2000…

A heroin “epidemic” is gripping the United States, where cheap supply has helped push the number of users to a 20-year high, increasing drug-related deaths, the United Nations said on Thursday.

According to the U.N.’s World Drug Report 2016, the number of heroin users in the United States reached around one million in 2014, almost three times as many as in 2003. Heroin-related deaths there have increased five-fold since 2000.

“There is really a huge epidemic (of) heroin in the U.S.,” said Angela Me, the chief researcher for the report which was released on Thursday.

Just like Venezuela, our society is rotting too. As I have warned before, the exact same things that are happening down there right now are coming here too.

It is just a matter of time.

On a side note, I would like to congratulate the British people for voting for independence from the European Union. As I have been writing this article, the results have been coming in, and at this point it looks like victory is virtually assured for the “Leave” campaign.

I would have voted “Leave” myself if I lived in the United Kingdom, but let there be no doubt about what comes next. Uncertainty and chaos are going to reign in European financial markets, and we have already seen the biggest one day drop in the history of the British pound. There is going to be short-term economic and financial pain, but the people of the United Kingdom have done the right thing for their children and their grandchildren, and for that they are to be applauded.

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

8 Lessons That We Can Learn From The Epic Economic Meltdown In Venezuela

Venezuela Shortages - Photo by ZiaLater

We are watching an entire nation collapse right in front of our eyes. As you read this article, there are severe shortages of just about anything you can imagine in Venezuela. That includes food, toilet paper, medicine, electricity and even Coca-Cola. All over the country, people are standing in extremely long lines for hours on end just hoping that they will be able to purchase some provisions for their hungry families. At times when there hasn’t been anything for the people that have waited in those long lines, full-blown riots have broken out. All of this is happening even though Venezuela has not been hit by a war, a major natural disaster, a terror attack, an EMP burst or any other type of significant “black swan” event. When debt spirals out of control, currency manipulation goes too far and government interference reaches ridiculous extremes, this is what can happen to an economy. The following are 8 lessons that we can learn from the epic economic meltdown in Venezuela…

#1 During an economic collapse, severe shortages of basic supplies can happen very rapidly

“There’s a shortage of everything at some level,” says Ricardo Cusanno, vice president of Venezuela’s Chamber of Commerce. Cusanno says 85% of companies in Venezuela have halted production to some extent.

At this point, even Coca-Cola has shut down production due to a severe shortage of sugar.

#2 If you have not stored up food ahead of time, your diet could quickly become very simple during a major emergency. The Los Angeles Times recently covered the plight of a 42-year-old single mother in Venezuela named Maria Linares, and according to the story her family has not had any chicken to eat since last December

In December, she was spending about half her salary on groceries. It now takes almost everything she earns to feed her two children, who subsist on manioc (also known as cassava or yuca), eggs and cornmeal patties called arepas, served with butter and plantains.

“The last time we had chicken was in December,” she said.

The best deals are generally at government-run stores, such as Mercal and Bicentenario, where the prices are regulated.

To shop there, however, Linares said, she has to line up overnight. Even then, she might come home empty-handed if everything sells out before she gets to the front of the line — or if she is robbed leaving the store.

#3 When people get hungry, they become very desperate. And very desperate people will eat just about anything.

In a recent article, I detailed the fact that some people down in Venezuela have already become so desperate that they are actually hunting dogs and cats for food.

Could you ever do that?

I couldn’t, but just like in Venezuela there are people in this nation that will eat anything that they can get their hands on when they are desperately hungry and their children are crying out for food.

#4 When an economy melts down, it isn’t just food that is in short supply. This week, there have been several mainstream news stories about the severe shortage of toiletries in Venezuela

Toiletries are running in short supply across the country. Many Venezuelans say that people wait in lines for several hours to buy basic toiletries, only to sell them at much higher prices on the black market.

Bloomberg reported last year that Trinidad & Tobago had offered to exchange tissue paper for oil with Venezuela. It’s unclear if the deal ever came through.

Condoms and birth control are hard to find, Venezuelans say. You won’t have any more luck with toothpaste, soap, toilet paper or shampoo. And Maduro has asked women to stop using blow dryers.

What would your life be like if you had no toothpaste, soap, toilet paper or shampoo? If you do not want to do without those items in the future, you might want to start stocking up on them now.

#5 If you need medical care during a major economic meltdown, you might be out of luck. Just consider what sick Venezuelans are going through right at this moment

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.

#6 During a currency meltdown, owning precious metals such as gold and silver becomes much more important. This even applies to entire countries. So far during this crisis, Venezuela has had to ship 2.3 billion dollars worth of gold to Switzerland because the bankers won’t take their paper currency any longer…

Venezuela’s government has been running out of foreign reserves and literally shipping gold to help pay for its debt. Venezuela only has $12.1 billion in foreign reserves as of March, according to the most recent central bank figures.

That’s down by half from a year ago. In order to get cash loans to pay for its debt, Venezuela has shipped $2.3 billion of gold to Switzerland so far this year as collateral, according to Swiss government import data.

#7 When an economy crashes, crime goes through the roof. As I discussed the other day, there were 107 major episodes of looting or attempted looting in the first quarter of 2016 down in Venezuela, and things have gotten even worse over the past couple of months.

Meanwhile, crime continues to rise in major cities all over America too. According to Breitbart, 66 people were shot in the city of Chicago over the Memorial day weekend, and that was an all-time record. So far for the entire year, a grand total of more than 1,500 people have been shot in Chicago, and police are bracing for what promises to be a very chaotic summer.

#8 This may be the most controversial lesson in the list. Sometimes it takes a shaking to awaken a nation. Of course nobody really likes to go through a shaking, but in the end it can have some very positive results. Just look at what is happening in Caracas

Churches in the capital Caracas recently organized a prayer walk. Thousands came to the main streets of the city crying out to God to ease their misery.

Under the slogan “I pray for my country,” dozens of Christians marched and prayed for unity of the church and for God to finally intervene to end their country’s plight.

Will a similar shaking be necessary to bring America to her knees?

What is it ultimately going to take to bring about a widespread awakening in this country?

If you follow my work closely, then you already know that I believe that a great shaking is coming to the United States. In the end, it will be far more serious than what Venezuela is going through right now, and it is going to shake this nation to the very core.

But a great shaking could turn out to be exactly what the United States needs, because without a great shaking I don’t believe that there would be a major awakening in America.

Or could it be possible that I am wrong about this?

Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…

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

The U.S. Economy Officially Joins The Global Economic Slowdown – 1st Quarter GDP Comes In At 0.5%

Slow Down - Public Domain

Even the government is admitting that the U.S. economy is slowing down. On Thursday, we learned that U.S. GDP grew at just a 0.5 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2016. This was lower than analysts were anticipating, and it marks the third time in a row that the GDP number has declined compared to the previous quarter. In other words, GDP growth has been declining for close to a year now, and this lines up perfectly with what I have been saying about how the second half of last year was a turning point that plunged us into the early chapters of a brand new economic crisis. And as you will see below, the official GDP number is highly manipulated, and the way that it is calculated has been changed numerous times over the years. So the bad number that is being reported by the government is actually the best case scenario.

Of course many of the “experts” being quoted by the mainstream media are saying that this is just a temporary blip and that good times for the U.S. economy are right around the corner. For instance, check out this quote from Reuters

“The economy essentially stalled in the first quarter, but that doesn’t mean it is faltering,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. “Some of the restraints to growth are dissipating. Growth is likely to accelerate going forward.”

We have been told this same story for years, but the “acceleration” has never materialized. In fact, Barack Obama is poised to become the only president in U.S. history to never have a single year when the economy grew by more than 3 percent during his presidency.

That is a statistic that is hard to believe, but it is true.

In addition, Louis Woodhill has pointed out that the average rate of U.S. economic growth during the Obama years will be the fourth worst in recorded history…

Assuming 2.67% RGDP growth for 2016, Obama will leave office having produced an average of 1.55% growth. This would place his presidency fourth from the bottom of the list of 39*, above only those of Herbert Hoover (-5.65%), Andrew Johnson (-0.70%) and Theodore Roosevelt (1.41%)

So does anyone out there still believe that there has been an “Obama recovery”?

We also need to add another layer to our analysis. By now, everyone should realize that the official GDP number is highly manipulated, and the way that GDP is calculated has been changed many, many times over the years.

For example, here is Peter Schiff commenting on changes that were made in 2013

The latest example of this was revealed earlier this week when the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced new methods of calculating Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that will immediately make the economy “bigger’ than it used to be. The changes focus heavily on how money spent on research and development (R&D) and the production of “intangible” assets like movies, music, and television programs will be accounted for. Declaring such expenditures to be “investments” will immediately increase U.S. GDP by about three percent. Such an upgrade would immediately increase the theoretic size of the U.S economy and may well lead to the perception of faster growth. In reality these smoke and mirror alterations are no different from changes made to the inflation and unemployment yardsticks that for years have convinced Americans that the economy is better than it actually is.

And the following originally comes from a Bloomberg article which discussed changes that were made in 2015

The way some parts of U.S. gross domestic product are calculated are about to change in the wake of the debate over persistently depressed first-quarter growth.

In a blog post published Friday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis listed a series of alterations it will make in seasonally adjusting data used to calculate economic growth. The changes will be implemented with the release of the initial second-quarter GDP estimate on July 30, the BEA said.

One of the changes that was made last year was intended to artificially boost GDP growth numbers for the first quarter of each year.

So without that artificial boost, what would the real number for the first quarter of 2016 look like?

John Williams of shadowstats.com tracks what the official government numbers would be if honest numbers were actually being used, and according to him U.S. GDP growth has been continuously negative since 2005.

But we certainly can’t have the press report those sorts of things. If that were the case, then everyone would be talking about the “economic depression” that never seems to end.

Unfortunately, the truth is that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and we can see evidence of this all around us. For example, on Thursday we also learned that the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen once again, and it is now hovering just 0.1 percent above the lowest level ever recorded in American history…

After gains in the second half of 2015, the homeownership rate fell to just 63.6 percent, seasonally adjusted, in the first quarter of this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Homeownership hit a high of 69.4 percent in 2004, during one of the biggest housing booms in history. That was also when mortgage lending was arguably at its loosest level in history. The homeownership rate is now just one-tenth of 1 basis point higher than its all-time low in the second quarter of 2015.

For many more numbers that show that the U.S. economy has continued to decline, please see the following articles that I authored earlier this month…

#1 “Economy In Decline: Apple Reports Massive Revenue Decline As iPhone Sales Plummet Dramatically

#2 “In 1 Out Of Every 5 American Families, Nobody Has A Job

#3 “Stories Of Despair From The Forgotten People That The U.S. Economy Has Left Behind

#4 “47 Percent Of Americans Cannot Even Come Up With $400 To Cover An Emergency Room Visit

#5 “Corporations Are Defaulting On Their Debts Like It’s 2008 All Over Again

Now that U.S. GDP growth has been steadily dropping for three quarters in a row, hopefully people will wake up and begin to realize what is happening.

We are entering very hard times, so now is not the time to go out and buy fancy new toys or to go into lots of debt.

Rather, this is a time to tighten our belts, batten down the hatches and prepare for rough seas ahead.

Sadly, most people continue to have blind faith that our politicians and the central bankers will be able to perform some kind of miracle to save us from what is coming.

*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.*

Economic Recovery? 13 Of The Biggest Retailers In America Are Closing Down Stores

Closed Sign - Photo by JamesAlan1986

Barack Obama recently stated that anyone that is claiming that America’s economy is in decline is “peddling fiction“. Well, if the economy is in such great shape, why are major retailers shutting down hundreds of stores all over the country? Last month, I wrote about the “retail apocalypse” that is sweeping the nation, but since then it has gotten even worse. Closing stores has become the “hot new trend” in the retail world, and “space available” signs are going up in mall windows all over the United States. Barack Obama can continue huffing and puffing about how well the middle class is doing all he wants, but the truth is that the cold, hard numbers that retailers are reporting tell an entirely different story.

Earlier today, Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert released a letter to shareholders that was filled with all kinds of bad news. In this letter, he blamed the horrible results that Sears has been experiencing lately on “tectonic shifts” in consumer spending

In a letter to shareholders on Thursday, Lampert said the impact of “tectonic shifts” in consumer spending has spread more broadly in the last year to retailers “that had previously proven to be relatively immune to such shifts.”

“Walmart, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Staples, Whole Foods and many others have felt the impact of disruptive changes from online competition and new business models,” Lampert wrote.

And it is very true – Sears is doing horribly, but they are far from alone. The following are 13 major retailers that are closing down stores…

#1 Sears lost 580 million dollars in the fourth quarter of 2015 alone, and they are scheduled to close at least 50 more “unprofitable stores” by the end of this year.

#2 It is being reported that Sports Authority will file for bankruptcy in March. Some news reports have indicated that around 200 stores may close, but at this point it is not known how many of their 450 stores will be able to stay open.

#3 For decades, Kohl’s has been growing aggressively, but now it plans to shutter 18 stores in 2016.

#4 Target has just finished closing 13 stores in the United States.

#5 Best Buy closed 30 stores last year, and it says that more store closings are likely in the months to come.

#6 Office Depot plans to close a total of 400 stores by the end of 2016.

The next seven examples come from one of my previous articles

#7 Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, including 154 inside the United States.

#8 K-Mart is closing down more than two dozen stores over the next several months.

#9 J.C. Penney will be permanently shutting down 47 more stores after closing a total of 40 stores in 2015.

#10 Macy’s has decided that it needs to shutter 36 stores and lay off approximately 2,500 employees.

#11 The Gap is in the process of closing 175 stores in North America.

#12 Aeropostale is in the process of closing 84 stores all across America.

#13 Finish Line has announced that 150 stores will be shutting down over the next few years.

These store closings can be particularly cruel for small towns. Just consider the impact that Wal-Mart has had on the little town of Oriental, North Carolina

The Town’n Country grocery in Oriental, North Carolina, a local fixture for 44 years, closed its doors in October after a Wal-Mart store opened for business. Now, three months later — and less than two years after Wal-Mart arrived — the retail giant is pulling up stakes, leaving the community with no grocery store and no pharmacy.

Though mom-and-pop stores have steadily disappeared across the American landscape over the past three decades as the mega chain methodically expanded, there was at least always a Wal-Mart left behind to replace them. Now the Wal-Marts are disappearing, too.

Of course there are many factors involved in this ongoing retail apocalypse. Competition from online retailers is becoming more intense, and consumer spending patterns are rapidly changing.

But in the end, the truth is that you can’t get blood out of a rock. The middle class in America is shrinking, and there just isn’t as much discretionary spending going on as there used to be.

And now that we have entered a new economic downturn, many retailers are finding that there are some local communities that can no longer support their stores. The following comes from CNBC

Though the shift to online shopping is no doubt playing a role in lighter foot traffic at malls, there’s more to their changing economics than the rise of Amazon. Changing demographics in a town are another reason a shopping center could struggle or fail — for example, if massive layoffs in a particular industry cause people to move away to find employment.

“A lot of people want to try and tie it to the Internet or ‘that’s not cool,’ or teens don’t like it,” Jesse Tron, a spokesman for industry trade group International Council of Shopping Centers, told CNBC last year. “It’s hard to support large-format retail in those suburban areas when people are trying to just pay their mortgage.”

In order to have a thriving middle class, we need good paying middle class jobs. Unfortunately, our economy has been bleeding those kinds of jobs quite rapidly. For example, Halliburton just announced that it is eliminating 5,000 more jobs after getting rid of 4,000 workers at the end of last year.

During the Obama years, good paying middle class jobs have been getting replaced by low paying service jobs. At this point, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

And there is no way that you can support a middle class family with children on $30,000 a year.

We have an economy that is in the process of failing. We can see it in the explosion of subprime auto loans that are going bad, we can see it in the hundreds of retail stores that are shutting down, and we can see it in the tens of thousands of good paying energy jobs that are being lost.

During the Obama years, interest rates have been pushed to the floor, the Federal Reserve has created trillions of dollars out of thin air, and the size of our national debt is getting close to doubling. Despite all of those desperate measures, our economy continues to crumble.

We stole from the future to try to paper over our failures and it didn’t work. Now an economic downturn that will ultimately turn out to be even worse than the “Great Recession” of 2008 and 2009 has begun, and our leaders have absolutely no idea how to fix things.

I wish I had better news to report, but I don’t. Get prepared now, because very rough times are ahead.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

21 New Numbers That Show That The Global Economy Is Absolutely Imploding

Earth At Night - Public Domain

After a series of stunning declines through the month of January and the first half of February, global financial markets seem to have found a patch of relative stability at least for the moment. But that does not mean that the crisis is over. On the contrary, all of the hard economic numbers that are coming in from around the world tell us that the global economy is coming apart at the seams. This is especially true when you look at global trade numbers. The amount of stuff that is being bought, sold and shipped around the planet is falling precipitously. So don’t be fooled if stocks go up one day or down the next. The truth is that we are in the early chapters of a brand new economic meltdown, and I believe that all of the signs indicate that it will continue to get worse in the months ahead. The following are 21 new numbers that show that the global economy is absolutely imploding…

#1 Chinese exports fell by 11.2 percent year over year in January.

#2 Chinese imports were even worse in January. On a year over year basis, they declined a whopping 18.8 percent.

#3 It may be hard to believe, but Chinese imports have now plunged for 15 months in a row.

#4 In India, exports were down 13.6 percent on a year over year basis in January.

#5 In Japan, exports declined 8 percent in December on a year over year basis, while imports plummeted 18 percent.

#6 For the sixth time in six years, Japanese GDP growth has gone negative.

#7 In the United States, exports were down 7 percent on a year over year basis in December.

#8 U.S. factory orders have fallen for 14 months in a row.

#9 The Restaurant Performance Index in the United States has dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since 2008.

#10 This month the Baltic Dry Index fell below 300 for the first time ever.

#11 It is now cheaper to rent a 1,100 foot merchant vessel than it is to rent a Ferrari.

#12 Orders for Class 8 trucks in the United States dropped by 48 percent on a year over year basis in January.

#13 Due to a lack of demand for trucks, Daimler just laid off 1,250 U.S. workers.

#14 Even though Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed to freeze oil production at current levels, the price of U.S. oil has still fallen below 30 dollars a barrel.

#15 It is being reported that 35 percent of all oil and gas companies around the world are at risk of falling into bankruptcy.

#16 According to CNN, 67 oil and gas companies in the United States filed for bankruptcy during 2015.

#17 The number of job cuts in the United States skyrocketed 218 percent during the month of January according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

#18 All over America, retail stores are shutting down at a stunning pace. The following list of store closures comes from one of my previous articles

-Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, including 154 inside the United States.

-K-Mart is closing down more than two dozen stores over the next several months.

-J.C. Penney will be permanently shutting down 47 more stores after closing a total of 40 stores in 2015.

-Macy’s has decided that it needs to shutter 36 stores and lay off approximately 2,500 employees.

-The Gap is in the process of closing 175 stores in North America.

-Aeropostale is in the process of closing 84 stores all across America.

-Finish Line has announced that 150 stores will be shutting down over the next few years.

-Sears has shut down about 600 stores over the past year or so, but sales at the stores that remain open continue to fall precipitously.

#19 The price of gold is enjoying its best quarterly performance in 30 years.

#20 Global stocks have fallen into bear market territory, which means that about one-fifth of all global stock market wealth has already been wiped out.

#21 Unfortunately for global central banks, they have pretty much run out of ammunition. Since March 2008, central banks have cut interest rates 637 times and they have purchased a staggering 12.3 trillion dollars worth of assets. There is not much more that they can do, and now the next great crisis is upon us.

Without any outside influences, the global economy and the global financial system will continue to rapidly fall apart.

But if we do have a major “black swan event” take place, that could cause the bottom to fall out at any moment.

In particular, I am deeply concerned about the possibility that World War III could be sparked in the Middle East. In an article that I published earlier today entitled “Turkey Is Asking The United States To Take Part In A Ground Invasion Of Syria“, I included a quote from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that reveals just how eager Turkey and Saudi Arabia are for war to begin…

Some countries like us, Saudi Arabia and some other Western European countries have said that a ground operation is necessary,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Reuters in an interview.

However, this kind of action could not be left to regional powers alone. “To expect this only from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar is neither right nor realistic. If such an operation is to take place, it has to be carried out jointly, like the (coalition) air strikes,” he said.

The Turks and the Saudis very much want the United States to take a leading role in any ground invasion of Syria, but the Obama administration is not likely to do that.

So we shall see if the Turks and the Saudis are willing to go ahead without us. Let us hope that they do not decide to invade Syria, because that could start the biggest war in the Middle East that any of us have ever seen.

Unfortunately, Turkey is already attacking.

Turkey has been shelling Kurdish and Syrian military positions in northern Syria for four days in a row even though the Obama administration has been urging them to stop.

The first month and a half of 2016 has already been quite chaotic, and the stage is set for global events to greatly accelerate during the months ahead.

Sadly, the mainstream media in the United States is largely ignoring the preparations for a ground invasion of Syria, and they keep telling us that the global economy is going to be just fine, so most ordinary Americans are going to be absolutely blindsided by what is about to happen.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Chinese Exports Plunge 11.2 Percent As Economic Activity Continues To Collapse All Over The Planet

Cargo Ship - Public Domain

If the global economy is in fine shape, then why does all of the hard data tell us that global trade is absolutely collapsing? The Baltic Dry Index has fallen below 300 for the first time ever, and export numbers are way down for almost every major exporting nation on the entire planet. As you will see below, this includes China. The Chinese account for more global trade than anyone else, and so the fact that their imports and their exports are both collapsing precipitously is a huge red flag. When less stuff is being bought and sold and shipped around the world, that tells us that the “real economy” is contracting. Tremendous efforts are being made to try to prop up financial markets all over the globe right now, but in the end those efforts are going to prove to be rather futile. The global economy is clearly plunging into recession, and at this point it is becoming exceedingly difficult for even the most optimistic economic analysts to deny this reality.

When the trade numbers for China for the month of January were released, they were an extreme disappointment. The following comes from CNBC

China‘s exports fell 11.2 percent on-year in January, while imports declined 18.8 percent, clocking far bigger slides than expected by analysts.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 1.9 percent drop in January exports, and a 0.8 percent drop in imports, after China’s exports fell 1.4 percent in December from a year earlier and imports slid 7.6 percent .

We never see numbers like this outside of a recession.

Never.

Chinese imports have now fallen for 15 months in a row, and the second largest economy on the entire planet appears to be in the process of imploding. As I mentioned above, China has become the most important hub for global trade. Nobody accounts for more total trade than they do, and so these new numbers can only be described as catastrophic.

Other numbers are telling the same story. Global trade has fallen so dramatically that it is now cheaper to rent a 1,100 foot merchant vessel that than it is to rent a Ferrari…

Rates for Capesize-class ships plummeted 92 percent since August to $1,563 a day amid slowing growth in China. That’s less than a third of the daily rate of 3,950 pounds ($5,597) to rent a Ferrari F40, the price of which has also fallen slightly in the past few years, according to Nick Hardwick, founder of supercarexperiences.com. The Baltic Exchange’s rates reflect the cost of hiring the vessel but not fuel costs. Ships burn about 35 metric tons a day, implying a cost of about $4,000 at present prices, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Can you believe that?

This is just another sign of how crazy things have become.

Another indication of the slowdown in China is what is happening to the Hong Kong housing market. Just check out these numbers

Two weeks ago, in our latest report on the Hong Kong housing market, we observed that according to the local Centaline Property Agency total Hong Kong property transactions in January were on track to register the worst month since 1991, when it started compiling monthly figures. In other words, the biggest drop in recorded history.

Centaline estimated that only 3,000 transactions will have registered with developers slowing down new launches, while only 394 units were sold in the first 27 days of January, 80.3 per cent lower than the 2,127 deals lodged in December. Meanwhile, sales of used homes fell by a fifth to 1,276 deals in January.

We could talk about many more examples like this all over the world.

Most people like to watch the ups and downs of the financial markets, but it is the hard economic numbers that tell us the real story.

We are in the midst of a stunning global economic downturn, and the global financial system is starting to take notice. Global stocks have fallen into bear market territory, the price of oil has fallen by three-fourths over the past 18 months, junk bonds have been crashing hard just like they did in 2008, and at one point last week close to 17 trillion dollars of global stock market wealth had been wiped out since mid-2015.

In a desperate attempt to revive economic activity, many global central banks have started to implement negative interest rates. Unfortunately, these negative interest rates are having some very nasty unintended consequences

One of the unintended consequences of global central banks’ race to the bottom (which seemingly has no bottom) is that negative interest rates act as a tax on the banking system.

By penalising commercial lenders for parking their reserves at the central bank, it erodes the profit margin they make on charging already low interest rates while raising the cost of capital.

So far, “banks seem unable or unwilling to pass negative deposit rates to their retail customers, leaving them with few options to offset costs”, note analysts at JP Morgan.

The truth is that we have really reached the limit of what monetary policy can do.

Since March 2008, interest rates have been cut 637 times around the world and central banks have purchased 12.3 trillion dollars worth of assets.

Despite all of that unprecedented intervention, we are now plunging into a brand new global crisis.

The central bankers are just making things up as they go along, and they are flailing all over the place as they desperately try to find a way to fix things. I like how Jim Rogers put it during a recent interview with CNN

Famed investor Jim Rogers is warning that financial Armageddon is just around the corner, and it’s being fueled by moronic central bankers.

We’re all going to pay a horrible price for the incompetence of these central bankers,” he said Monday in a TV interview with CNNMoney’s Nina dos Santos. “We got a bunch of academics and bureaucrats who don’t have a clue what they’re doing.”

We have reached the terminal phase of the greatest financial bubble in history, and now the endgame is upon us.

Yes, governments and central banks will keep trying to “fix things”, but it is becoming exceedingly clear that they are rapidly losing control.

And there are other factors, such as the potential start of World War 3 in the Middle East, that could turn this new crisis into a complete and utter nightmare in no time at all.

So let us pray for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst…

22 Signs That The Global Economic Turmoil We Have Seen So Far In 2016 Is Just The Beginning

Skyline Globe Clock Gears - Public Domain

As bad as the month of January was for the global economy, the truth is that the rest of 2016 promises to be much worse. Layoffs are increasing at a pace that we haven’t seen since the last recession, major retailers are shutting down hundreds of locations, corporate profit margins are plunging, global trade is slowing down dramatically, and several major European banks are in the process of completely imploding. I am about to share some numbers with you that are truly eye-popping. Each one by itself would be reason for concern, but when you put all of the pieces together it creates a picture that is hard to deny. The global economy is in crisis, and this is going to have very serious implications for the financial markets moving forward. U.S. stocks just had their worst January in seven years, and if I am right much worse is still yet to come this year. The following are 22 signs that the global economic turmoil that we have seen so far in 2016 is just the beginning…

1. The number of job cuts in the United States skyrocketed 218 percent during the month of January according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

2. The Baltic Dry Index just hit yet another brand new all-time record low. As I write this article, it is sitting at 303.

3. U.S. factory orders have now dropped for 14 months in a row.

4. In the U.S., the Restaurant Performance Index just fell to the lowest level that we have seen since 2008.

5. In January, orders for class 8 trucks (the big trucks that you see shipping stuff around the country on our highways) declined a whopping 48 percent from a year ago.

6. Rail traffic is also slowing down substantially. In Colorado, there are hundreds of train engines that are just sitting on the tracks with nothing to do.

7. Corporate profit margins peaked during the third quarter of 2014 and have been declining steadily since then. This usually happens when we are heading into a recession.

8. A series of extremely disappointing corporate quarterly reports is sending stock after stock plummeting. Here is a summary from Zero Hedge of a few examples that we have just witnessed…

  • SHARES OF LIONS GATE ENTERTAINMENT FALL 5 PCT IN EXTENDED TRADE AFTER QUARTERLY RESULTS – RTRS
  • TABLEAU SOFTWARE SHARES TUMBLE 40 PCT IN AFTER HOURS TRADING – RTRS
  • YRC WORLDWIDE SHARES DOWN 16.4 PCT AFTER THE BALL FOLLOWING RESULTS – RTRS
  • SPLUNK INC SHARES DOWN 7.6 PCT IN AFTER HOURS TRADING – RTRS
  • LINKEDIN SHARES EXTEND DECLINE, DOWN 24 PCT AFTER RESULTS, GUIDANCE – RTRS
  • HANESBRANDS SHARES FURTHER ADD TO LOSSES IN EXTENDED TRADE, LAST DOWN 14.9 PCT – RTRS
  • OUTERWALL SHARES FALL 11 PCT IN EXTENDED TRADING AFTER QUARTERLY RESULTS – RTRS
  • GENWORTH SHARES DOWN 16.5 PCT AFTER THE BELL FOLLOWING RESULTS, RESTRUCTURING PLAN

9. Junk bonds continue to crash on Wall Street. On Monday, JNK was down to 32.60 and HYG was down to 77.99.

10. On Thursday, a major British news source publicly named five large European banks that are considered to be in very serious danger…

Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Santander, Barclays and RBS are among the stocks that are falling sharply sending shockwaves through the financial world, according to former hedge fund manager and ex Goldman Sachs employee Raoul Pal.

11. Deutsche Bank is the biggest bank in Germany and it has more exposure to derivatives than any other bank in the world. Unfortunately, Deutsche Bank credit default swaps are now telling us that there is deep turmoil at the bank and that a complete implosion may be imminent.

12. Last week, we learned that Deutsche Bank had lost a staggering 6.8 billion euros in 2015. If you will recall, I warned about massive problems at Deutsche Bank all the way back in September. The most important bank in Germany is exceedingly troubled, and it could end up being for the EU what Lehman Brothers was for the United States.

13. Credit Suisse just announced that it will be eliminating 4,000 jobs.

14. Royal Dutch Shell has announced that it is going to be eliminating 10,000 jobs.

15. Caterpillar has announced that it will be closing 5 plants and getting rid of 670 workers.

16. Yahoo has announced that it is going to be getting rid of 15 percent of its total workforce.

17. Johnson & Johnson has announced that it is slashing its workforce by 3,000 jobs.

18. Sprint just laid off 8 percent of its workforce and GoPro is letting go 7 percent of its workers.

19. All over America, retail stores are shutting down at a staggering pace. The following list comes from one of my previous articles

-Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, including 154 inside the United States.

-K-Mart is closing down more than two dozen stores over the next several months.

-J.C. Penney will be permanently shutting down 47 more stores after closing a total of 40 stores in 2015.

-Macy’s has decided that it needs to shutter 36 stores and lay off approximately 2,500 employees.

-The Gap is in the process of closing 175 stores in North America.

-Aeropostale is in the process of closing 84 stores all across America.

-Finish Line has announced that 150 stores will be shutting down over the next few years.

-Sears has shut down about 600 stores over the past year or so, but sales at the stores that remain open continue to fall precipitously.

20. According to the New York Times, the Chinese economy is facing a mountain of bad loans that “could exceed $5 trillion“.

21. Japan has implemented a negative interest rate program in a desperate attempt to try to get banks to make more loans.

22. The global economy desperately needs the price of oil to go back up, but Morgan Stanley says that we will not see $80 oil again until 2018.

It is not difficult to see where the numbers are trending.

Last week, I told my wife that I thought that Marco Rubio was going to do better than expected in Iowa.

How did I come to that conclusion?

It was simply based on how his poll numbers were trending.

And when you look at where global economic numbers are trending, they tell us that 2016 is going to be a year that is going to get progressively worse as it goes along.

So many of the exact same things that we saw happen in 2008 are happening again right now, and you would have to be blind not to see it.

Hopefully I am wrong about what is coming in our immediate future, because millions upon millions of Americans are not prepared for what is ahead, and most of them are going to get absolutely blindsided by the coming crisis.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

The Last 16 Times This Happened There Was A Recession…

16 Sign - Public Domain

Something has just happened that has signaled a recession every single time that it has occurred since World War I. 16 times since 1919 there have been at least 8 month-over-month declines in industrial production during the preceding 12 month period, and in each of those 16 instances the U.S. economy has plunged into recession. Now that it has happened again, will the U.S. economy beat the odds and avoid a major economic downturn? I certainly wouldn’t count on it. As I have written about repeatedly, there are a whole host of other numbers that are screaming that a new recession is here, and global financial markets are crumbling. It would take a miracle of epic proportions to pull us out of this tailspin, and yet there are many people out there that are absolutely convinced that it will happen.

John Hussman is not one of them. In his most recent weekly comment, he examined this stunning correlation between month-over-month declines in industrial production and recessions. To me, what Hussman has presented is overwhelmingly conclusive

Last week, following a long period of poor internals and weakening order surplus, we observed fresh declines in industrial production and retail sales. Industrial production has now also declined on a year-over-year basis. The weakness we presently observe is strongly associated with recession. The chart below (h/t Jeff Wilson) plots the cumulative number of month-over-month declines in Industrial Production during the preceding 12-month period, in data since 1919. Recessions are shaded. The current total of 10 (of a possible 12) month-over-month declines in Industrial Production has never been observed except in the context of a U.S. recession. Historically, as Dick Van Patten would say, eight is enough.

Declines In Industrial Production And Recessions

After looking at that chart, is there anyone out there that still doubts that the U.S. economy is in significant trouble?

Many estimates of U.S. GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2015 are already just a small fraction of one percent. It would not be a surprise at all to see a negative number posted once it is all said and done.

And of course more bad news for the economy just keeps pouring in. So far this week we have learned that the growth rate of federal withholding taxes has turned negative, Johnson & Johnson plans has announced that it is eliminating 3,000 jobs, and BP has announced that it is eliminating 4,000 jobs.

Of course it is not exactly a surprise that BP is cutting jobs. At this point the entire energy industry is absolutely hemorrhaging workers. As I wrote about yesterday, 130,000 good paying energy jobs have been lost in the United States since the beginning of last year.

But now we are seeing major firms outside the energy industry cutting payrolls. Even financial giants such as Morgan Stanley are looking for ways to cut costs…

Morgan Stanley just announced fourth-quarter earnings, and it is providing detail to investors on a cost-saving plan called Project Streamline.

During a conference call, CEO James Gorman uttered a sentence that will most likely make the bank’s staff shudder.

“Too many employees based in high-cost centers are doing work that can sensibly be done in lower-cost centers,” he said.

The whole environment is changing.

When things start to get tough, big corporations start to get rid of people. We saw this back in 2008, and it is starting to happen again right now.

And just like last time around, we are going to see millions of Americans lose their jobs during the hard years that are ahead of us.

But thankfully for the moment there is a brief lull in the action. The financial turmoil that has gripped the planet was calmed on Tuesday when China announced that their economy grew at a rate of 6.8 percent during the fourth quarter of 2015. This was right in line with expectations, and markets around the world responded positively to the news.

There is just one huge problem. Everyone knows that GDP figures coming out of China are essentially meaningless. If you believe that the Chinese economy actually grew at a 6.8 percent rate during the fourth quarter of 2015, then I have a bridge to sell you. Virtually every other number coming out of China over the past several months tells us that the Chinese economy is shrinking, and so that 6.8 percent figure is extremely questionable at best.

Do you want to know the last time the communist Chinese admitted to having a recession?

It was in 1976.

Over the past four decades, economic growth figures have become a source of great national pride for China. To admit that the economy is now imploding would bring great shame on the Chinese government and the nation as a whole, and so that must be avoided at all costs.

Yes, the numbers are fraudulent in the U.S. too. According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if the U.S. was actually using honest numbers the last recession never would have technically ended.

But in China they take this to ridiculous extremes. The Chinese economy is fueled by exports, and Chinese exports have been down on a year over year basis for six months in a row. And the primary reason why commodity prices have been absolutely collapsing is because of the economic contraction in China.

Of course if China had released a GDP number that was honest, global markets would have crashed hard. So their lies are making everyone else feel a bit better for the moment, and every day of relative stability that we can enjoy from here on out is something to be thankful for.

As you read this article, markets all over Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East are already in bear market territory. More than 30 percent of the market has been wiped out in Brazil and Hong Kong, more than 40 percent of the market has been wiped out in China and Italy, and about 50 percent of the market has been wiped out in Saudi Arabia.

We are already experiencing a major global financial crisis.

The only question remaining is how bad it will eventually become.

Let us hope for more days like this one that are relatively calm. But I wouldn’t count on things turning around significantly any time soon, because the economic fundamentals are telling us that big trouble is ahead.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Lowest Ever: The Baltic Dry Index Plunges To 394 As Global Trade Grinds To A Standstill

Container Ship - Public Domain

For the first time ever, the Baltic Dry Index has fallen under 400. As I write this article, it is sitting at 394. To be honest, I never even imagined that it could go this low. Back in early August, the Baltic Dry Index was sitting at 1,222, and since then it has been on a steady decline. Of course the Baltic Dry Index crashed hard just before the great stock market crash of 2008 too, but at this point it is already lower than it was during that entire crisis. This is just more evidence that global trade is grinding to a halt and that 2016 is going to be a “cataclysmic year” for the global economy.

If you are not familiar with the Baltic Dry Index, here is a helpful definition from Wikipedia

The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) is an economic indicator issued daily by the London-based Baltic Exchange. Not restricted to Baltic Sea countries, the index provides “an assessment of the price of moving the major raw materials by sea. Taking in 23 shipping routes measured on a timecharter basis, the index covers Handysize, Supramax, Panamax, and Capesize dry bulk carriers carrying a range of commodities including coal, iron ore and grain.”

The BDI is one of the key indicators that experts look at when they are trying to determine where the global economy is heading. And right now, it is telling us that we are heading into a major worldwide economic downturn.

Some people try to dismiss the recent drop in the Baltic Dry Index by claiming that shipping rates are down because there is simply too much capacity out there these days. And I don’t dispute that. Without a doubt, too many vessels were built during the “boom years”, and now shipbuilders are paying the price. For example, Chinese shipyards reported a 59 percent decline in orders during the first 11 months of 2015…

Total orders at Chinese shipyards tumbled 59 percent in the first 11 months of 2015, according to data released Dec. 15 by the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry. Builders have sought government support as excess vessel capacity drives down shipping rates and prompts customers to cancel contracts. Zhoushan Wuzhou Ship Repairing & Building Co. last month became the first state-owned shipbuilder to go bankrupt in a decade.

But that doesn’t explain everything. The truth is that exports are way down all over the world. China, the United States, South Korea and many other major exporting nations have all been reporting extremely dismal export numbers. Global trade is contracting quite rapidly, and I don’t see how anyone could possibly dispute that.

The global economy is a mess, but many people are not paying any attention to the economic fundamentals because they are too busy looking at the stock market.

The stock market does not tell us how the economy is doing. If the stock market is up today that does not mean that the economy is doing well, and if the stock market is down tomorrow that does not mean that it is doing poorly.

Yes, the health of the financial markets can greatly affect the overall economy. We saw this back in 2008. When there is a tremendous amount of panic, that can cause a credit crunch and make it very difficult for money to flow through our system. The end result is a rapid slowdown of economic activity, and it is something that we will be experiencing again very soon.

But don’t let the day to day fluctuations of the stock market fool you. Just because the Dow was up 227 points today does not mean that the crisis is over. It is important to remember that stocks are not going to go down every single day. On Thursday, the Dow didn’t even regain two-thirds of what it lost on Wednesday. Even in bear markets there are up days, and some of the biggest up days in stock market history were right in the middle of the crash of 2008.

It is critical that we take a long-term view of things and not let our vision be clouded by every tick up and down in the financial markets. Initial jobless claims just hit their highest level in about six months, and companies like Macy’s and GoPro are laying off thousands of workers. Things are already bad, and they are rapidly getting worse.

And let us not forget the great amount of financial carnage that has already happened so far this year. According to CNBC, approximately 3.2 trillion dollars of stock market wealth was wiped out globally during the first 13 days of 2016…

Almost $3.2 trillion has been wiped off the value of stocks around the world since the start of 2016, according to calculations by a top market analyst.

It has also been the worst-ever start to a year for U.S. equities, said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, as both the S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average have posted their steepest losses for the first eight days trading of a year.

Over the past six months, there have now been two 10 percent “corrections” for U.S. stocks. The only other times we have seen multiple corrections like this were in 1929, 2000 and 2008. If those years seem familiar to you, that is because they should. In all three years, we witnessed historic stock market crashes.

The stunning collapse of the Baltic Dry Index is just more evidence that we have entered a global deflationary crisis. Goods aren’t moving, unemployment is rising all over the planet, and commodity prices have fallen to levels that we have not seen in over a decade.

Around the globe, there have been dramatic stock market crashes to begin the year, and we should expect to see much more market turmoil during the weeks and months to come.

If the markets have calmed down a bit for the moment, we should be very thankful for that, because we could all use some additional time to prepare for what is coming.

The debt-fueled standard of living that so many of us are enjoying today is just an illusion. And many of us won’t even understand what we have been taking for granted until it is taken away from us.

A great shaking is coming to the global economy, and the pain is going to be unimaginable. So let us enjoy every single day of relative “normalcy” while we still can, because there aren’t too many of them left.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

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