College Students This Is Your Future: High Unemployment And Student Loan Hell

Hundreds of thousands of college students all over the United States have just graduated and are getting ready for their first taste of the real world.  Unfortunately for them, the real world is not always easy and it is not always fair.  In fact, for large numbers of recent college graduates, the transition to a world of high unemployment, brutal student loan payments and lowered expectations can be extremely sobering.  But the truth is that we have taught these young people to have a completely unrealistic view of the future.  We have told them to take out gigantic student loans without worrying about how they are going to pay them back, we have told them that if they get good grades and do everything “right” that the system will reward them with secure, fulfilling careers, and we have made high school and college so “soft and cushy” that most of these young Americans find that they don’t have the discipline and the work ethic to make it when they actually do get out into society.

So needless to say, the first six months after graduation can be a complete shock for many college graduates.

In a piece recently published on MSN Money, journalist Joe Queenan described the tough environment that 2010 college graduates are being thrown into as they enter the real world….

They will enter an economy where roughly 17% of people aged 20 through 24 do not have a job, and where two million college graduates are unemployed. They will enter a world where they will compete tooth and nail for jobs as waitresses, pizza delivery men, file clerks, bouncers, trainee busboys, assistant baristas, interns at bodegas.

But waiting tables, delivering pizzas or greeting customers at the local Wal-Mart is not what most college graduates signed up for when they invested tens of thousands of dollars and four years (if not longer) of their lives in an education.

Unfortunately, that is where our economy is at today.

“Good jobs” are very few and far between and those freshly graduating from college are finding themselves suddenly thrust into an extremely competitive job market.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in March the national rate of unemployment in the U.S. was 9.7%, but for Americans younger than 25 years of age it was 18.8%.

In fact, according to a recent Pew Research Center study, approximately 37% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have either been unemployed or underemployed at some point during this recession.

But what makes things even worse for college graduates is that so many of them are coming out of school with absolutely crushing student debt loads.

Today, approximately two-thirds of all U.S. college students graduate with student loans.

But it isn’t just that they have student loans.  The loan balances that many of these students are graduating with these days are absolutely obscene.

The Project on Student Debt estimates that 206,000 U.S. college students graduated with more than $40,000 in student loan debt in 2008.  Using 2008 dollars as a baseline, that represents a ninefold increase over the number of students graduating with that amount of debt in 1996.

Most college students don’t think much about all of the debt that they are accumulating while they are in school.

But once they get out, the sudden realization that they have gotten themselves into student loan payments that they cannot possibly handle can be completely demoralizing.

The New York Times recently profiled Cortney Munna – a recent college graduate who has not been able to get a “good job” and who now finds herself in student loan hell.  She recently told the New York Times that she would be more than glad to give back her education if she could just get out of all this debt….

“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life slaving away to pay for an education I got for four years and would happily give back.”

In recent years, millions of young college graduates have found that the “great education” that they thought they were getting actually doesn’t get them very far at all in the real world.

In fact, they often find themselves taking jobs where they work right next to other people their age who never even went to college.

So a lot of young college graduates find themselves wishing that they could just “return” their education and get all that money back.

But there is no walking away from student loan debt.

The truth is that federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts.

Basically, once you get into student loan hell there is no escape.

So now we have hundreds of thousands of college graduates that can’t get good jobs and that have brutal student loan payments that they can’t possibly handle.

No wonder so many of them seem so angry and depressed.

But the funny thing is that so many that are still in college are so unbelievably optimistic about the future.

Edwin Koc, director of research for the National Association of Colleges and Employers says that those approaching college graduation are an extremely confident bunch….

“Over 90 percent think they have a perfect résumé. The percentage who think they will have a job in hand three months after graduation is now 57 percent. They’re still supremely confident in themselves.”

So have we done a good job of teaching them to have confidence in themselves or have we done them a disservice by allowing so many of them to live in complete denial?

The truth is that the U.S. economy is in the process of collapsing, and we need to prepare our young people for the tough times that are ahead.  Life is going to require an extreme amount of hard work and discipline in the years ahead, and unfortunately those qualities are not in great supply among young Americans right now.

Actually, the “real world” is not going to be getting easier for any of us.  We are all going to require an attitude adjustment if we are going to successfully navigate the difficult times that are coming.  So let’s not be too hard on new college graduates and other young Americans.  The truth is that the vast majority of us are “soft” at least to some degree because of the decadent society in which we live.  Let’s just hope that somehow we can all find enough inner strength to endure the great challenges that are going to confront us in the years ahead.

U.S. National Debt 2010

So just how big is the U.S. national debt in 2010?  Well, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, on June 1st the U.S. National Debt was $13,050,826,460,886.97.  For those not used to seeing such big numbers, that is over 13 trillion dollars.  To give you an idea of just how much a trillion dollars is, if you had started spending one million dollars every single day when Christ was born, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.  And yet somehow the U.S. government has accumulated a debt of over 13 trillion dollars.  This is a debt that we have callously placed on the backs of future generations of Americans.  Somehow we have the gall to expect our progeny to pay off the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.  What we have done to future generations is beyond sickening.

But hey, if you are feeling especially generous today, the federal government is actually taking online donations that will go towards paying off the national debt.

Yes, it is true.

Please try to resist the urge to laugh.

This request comes from the same government that spent $2.6 million tax dollars to study the drinking habits of Chinese prostitutes and $400,000 tax dollars to pay researchers to cruise six bars in Buenos Aires, Argentina to find out why gay men engage in risky sexual behavior when drunk.

Perhaps they should not hold their breath while waiting for our donations to show up.

Or perhaps they should get their own house in order before expecting donations.

But the truth is that they continue to recklessly spend our money as if they have not learned anything.

This year, it is projected that the U.S. government will issue nearly as much new debt as the rest of the governments of the world combined.

Yes, getting into debt is another thing that we Americans dominate the rest of the world in.

It is estimated that the U.S. government will have a budget deficit of approximately 1.6 trillion dollars in 2010.

Now remember, when Ronald Reagan took office, the U.S. national debt was only about 1 trillion dollars.

So, from the founding of the United States until Reagan took office we accumulated a total of about 1 trillion dollars in debt.

In just the last 30 years we have accumulated 12 trillion dollars more.

You know, the truth is that it is really, really hard to even spend one trillion dollars.

If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

Hopefully that gives you an idea just how fast the U.S. government is getting us into debt.

And now we are officially in the danger zone.

According to Dr. Jerome Corsi,  the U.S. national debt is now equal to 90 percent of gross domestic product.

Most economists consider a level of 100 percent debt to GDP to be an absolute nightmare scenario.

But things look even worse when you total up all forms of debt in the United States.

The total of all government, corporate and consumer debt in the United States is now equal to 360 percent of GDP.

That is far greater than at any point during the Great Depression.

Yes, we are in a LOT of trouble.

So can we just raise taxes on everybody just a little bit and get rid of this budget deficit?

Well, unfortunately no.

According to the Tax Foundation’s Microsimulation Model, to erase the U.S. budget deficit for 2010, the U.S. Congress would have to multiply the tax rate for every American by 2.4.

That would mean that the 10 percent tax rate would become 24 percent, the 15 percent tax rate would become 36 percent, and the 35 percent tax rate would have to be 85 percent.

Would you like to pay 85 percent of your income in taxes?

And that would not reduce the national debt one penny – all that would do is eliminate the U.S. budget deficit for this year.

The truth is that it is simply not possible to pay off the national debt.  Most economists realize this and speak of more realistic goals such as getting our debt growth down to a level that is “sustainable”.

But the reality is that we are way beyond being able to get this debt under control.  If the U.S. government cut spending enough to make a real difference it would crush the economy and tax revenue would take a sharp nosedive.  If the U.S. government borrows even more money and increases government spending even more it will help the economy in the short-term, but it will make our long-term problems even worse.

No, the truth is that we have created an economic nightmare from which there simply is no escape under the current system.  The national debt will never be repaid and the never ending spiral of debt and paper money that we have created is doomed to failure.

So what will happen someday when the current economic system does collapse?

That will be for the American people to decide.  Hopefully they will learn from our mistakes and will return to our constitutional roots and devise a financial system based on solid economic principles.

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It

Strategic Defaults: Is It Morally Right To Decide To Simply Stop Paying Your Mortgage?

In 2010, record numbers of Americans are defaulting on their mortgages.  For most of them, it is because they simply cannot afford the mortgage payments any longer.  But for a growing number of Americans, the decision to stop paying on a mortgage is not because of financial hardship.  Rather, after taking a hard look at the numbers, many Americans are simply deciding to walk away rather than continuing to make monthly payments on a home that has dramatically declined in value.  It is called a “strategic default”, and it is a phenomenon that is sweeping the nation.  So why have strategic defaults increased so dramatically?  Well, in some areas of the United States, homes are only worth about half of what they were going for at the height of the market.  So what is the morally right thing to do in that situation?  Should someone “honor the contract” that they signed and continue making payments no matter how hard it hurts, or is the morally right thing to stop making payments on the mortgage in order to put your family in a better financial position?

The truth is that the answers to these questions are not easy.     

In the past year it is estimated that at least a million Americans who can afford to stay in their homes simply walked away.

Take a moment and think about that.

A million Americans that have simply walked away from their homes.

This is something that is absolutely unprecedented in American history.

In fact, 31 percent of all foreclosures in March were deemed to be “strategic defaults” by researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University.  That is up from just 22 percent in March 2009.

So the strategic default trend is accelerating.

And with more than 24% of all homes with mortgages in the United States underwater as of the end of 2009, it is likely that we are going to see a whole lot more strategic defaults.

This is particularly true in areas that were hurt the worst by the real estate crash.  In Arizona for example, it is estimated that 50 percent of all homes are underwater, and in Nevada it is estimated that a whopping 65 percent of all homes are underwater.

That is a whole lot of families that have some very hard decisions to make.

But it just isn’t families that are making these kinds of decisions.  Even the biggest financial institutions in the United States have committed strategic defaults.  For example, Morgan Stanley walked away from five San Francisco office buildings they bought at the height of the real estate boom.

But is it the right thing to do?

Well, let’s look at both sides of the issue.

Why many would say that strategic defaults are morally acceptable….

Many Americans have no problem at all walking away from their mortgages.  After all, they would argue, they never agreed to pay twice what a house is worth.

If they signed up for a $400,000 mortgage, they would argue that they expect to be making payments on a house that is worth somewhere around $400,000.

So is that unreasonable?

After all, if a $400,000 house goes down to $200,000, there are many that would argue that it represents an unforeseen circumstance that negates the deal.

Others would argue that bankers tricked millions of Americans into accepting mortgages that they could not possibly afford, and therefore nobody should be crying for the bankers when people quit paying on those mortgages.

In essence, the argument is that the bankers created this mess so the bankers should be the ones to pay the penalty.

Still other Americans are choosing strategic defaults because it enables them to provide for their families during these hard economic times.

For many Americans, often the choice is between paying the mortgage and putting food on the table.

And because of the massive delays in processing foreclosures these days, many people are finding that they can live in their homes “rent free” for months on end after they stop making payments.

In fact, Bank of America’s credit loss mitigation executive, Jack Schakett, has even acknowledged that many home owners have a huge financial incentive to walk away: “there is a huge incentive for customers to walk away because getting free rent and waiting out foreclosure can be very appealing to customers.”

So how much “free rent” are those who have walked away from their mortgages getting?

According to LPS Applied Analytics, the average home owner in foreclosure has been delinquent for 438 days before actually being evicted.  That is up from 251 days in January 2008.

The truth is that especially in states where the foreclosure process must go through the courts, the systems are simply being overloaded.

For example, in Pinellas and Pasco counties, which include St. Petersburg, Florida and the suburbs to the north, there are 34,000 open foreclosure cases.  Ten years ago, there were only about 4,000.

But there are others that would argue that strategic defaults are 100 percent morally wrong.

Why many would say that strategic defaults are morally wrong….

Those who would say that strategic defaults are wrong would argue that no one put a gun to the head of anyone signing up for a mortgage.

They would argue that “a contract is a contract” and that Americans should fulfill their obligations, no matter how hard it hurts.

The truth is that once upon a time in America, a “strategic default” would have been unimaginable to most people.

Back then, a man was only as good as his word.

Even today, to purposely break a contact is on the same level as purposely telling a lie to many people.

Not only that, but the reality is that a strategic default will ruin your credit for years to come.  Many would argue that it is immoral to ruin your family credit for the simple convenience of getting out of a bad mortgage.

In addition, many would argue that it is wrong to take advantage of the banks by exploiting the delay in foreclosure processing – no matter how evil the banks have been.

After all, do two wrongs make a right?

Plus, in some states there may be additional financial penalties even after you walk away.

Kyle Lundstedt, the managing director of Lender Processing Service’s analytics group says that those who do willingly walk away from their homes are playing a very dangerous financial game….

“These people are playing a dangerous game. There are processes in many states to go after folks who have substantial assets postforeclosure.”

Plus, those who do commit strategic defaults raise borrowing costs on the rest of us.  In the future, banks are going to have to charge all of us higher interest rates on our mortgages in order to factor in the risk that many Americans will simply walk away from their mortgages if their house values go down.

So is it right for everyone else to suffer in the future so that some can get out of bad mortgages right now?

The truth is that it is not the purpose of this article to answer these questions.

The purpose of this article is simply to raise these questions.

We live in unprecedented economic times, and we are all going to be faced with very hard decisions as we move into a very uncertain future.

Strategic defaults pose some very interesting moral dilemmas, and if you ask 10 different people about strategic defaults you are likely to get 10 different opinions.

So what do you think about strategic defaults?

Is it morally right to decide to simply stop paying your mortgage?

Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion….

30 Shocking Quotes About The Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill That Reveal The Soul-Crushing Horror This Disaster Is Causing

It is incredibly hard to put into words the absolute horror that is happening in the Gulf of Mexico right now.  The millions of gallons of oil that have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico and BP’s efforts to fight the massive leak are turning the Gulf into a lifeless toxic stew of oil and chemicals.  The damage caused to wildlife in the Gulf by this spill will be incalculable.  Entire species are at risk of being wiped out.  Scientists are telling us that the primary dispersant being used by BP ruptures red blood cells and causes fish to bleed.  This is by far the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history, and there is no end in sight.  It is a worse environmental and economic disaster than all of the hurricanes of the past ten years combined.  The great wetlands and beaches along the Gulf of Mexico will never be the same in our lifetimes.  The seafood and tourism industries in the Gulf are being completely destroyed.  The thousands of jobs and businesses being wiped out by this disaster could potentially throw the entire Gulf coast region into a depression.  The damage already caused by this oil spill is beyond measure and yet the government tells us that up to 19,000 barrels (798,000 gallons) of oil a day continue to flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

Federal officials have expanded the “no fishing” area in the Gulf of Mexico to 75,920 square miles.  That is 31 percent of all federal waters in the Gulf.  As the oil continues to spread out there may soon be nowhere to fish.

And the oil is starting to come ashore in more places.  Red-brown oil was found on Alabama’s Dauphin Island on Tuesday.  As Gulf coast residents slowly watch this oil destroy everything around them they are starting to realize that this is it.

Life along the Gulf of Mexico will simply never be the same again. 

The following are 30 shocking quotes about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that reveal the soul-crushing horror this disaster is causing….

#1) Councilman Jay LaFont of Grand Isle, Louisiana:

“As long as you have something to look forward to, a little glimmer of hope, you can move on. But this just drained everything out of us.”

#2) Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish:

“They said the black oil wouldn’t come ashore. Well, it is ashore. It’s here to stay and it’s going to keep coming.”

#3) Prosanta Chakrabarty, a Louisiana State University fish biologist:

“Every fish and invertebrate contacting the oil is probably dying. I have no doubt about that.”

#4) Marine toxicologist Dr. Susan Shaw, director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute on BP’s use of chemical dispersants:

“They’ve been used at such a high volume that it’s unprecedented. The worst of these – Corexit 9527 – is the one they’ve been using most. That ruptures red blood cells and causes fish to bleed. With 800,000 gallons of this, we can only imagine the death that will be caused.”

#5) Dr. Larry McKinney, director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies in Texas:

“Bluefin tuna spawn just south of the oil spill and they spawn only in the Gulf. If they were to go through the area at a critical time, that’s one instance where a plume could destroy a whole species.”

#6) Carol Browner, Barack Obama’s adviser on energy and climate:

“This is probably the biggest environmental disaster we have ever faced in this country. It is certainly the biggest oil spill and we are responding with the biggest environmental response.”

#7) Richard Charter of the Defenders of Wildlife:

“It is so big and expanding so fast that it’s pretty much beyond human response that can be effective. … You’re looking at a long-term poisoning of the area. Ultimately, this will have a multidecade impact.”

#8) Reverand Mike Tran:

“We don’t know when this will ever be over. It’s a way of life that’s under assault, and people don’t when their next paycheck is going to be.”

#9) Louis Miller of the Mississippi Sierra Club:

“This is going to destroy the Mississippi and the Gulf Coast as we know it.”

#10) Dean Blanchard, owner of a seafood business:

“I hold Obama responsible for not making BP stand up and look at the people in the face and fix it.”

#11) Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:

“The day that we’ve been fearing is upon us.”

#12) Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, about BP CEO Tony Hayward:

“We ought to take him offshore and dunk him 10 feet underwater and pull him up and ask him ‘What’s that all over your face?”

#13) Former Clinton adviser James Carville:

“The country feels like it’s entitled to abuse this state and forget about us, and we are sick of it.”

#14) An anonymous Louisiana resident:

“A hurricane is like closing your bank account for a few days, but this here has the capacity to destroy our bank accounts.”

#15) U.S. Representative Edward Markey:

“I have no confidence whatsoever in BP . I think that they do not know what they are doing.”

#16) Gulf coast resident Marie Michel:

“Immediately, it’s no more fishing, no more crabbing, no more swimming, no more walking on the beach.”

#17) Brenda Prosser of Mobile, Alabama:

“I just started crying. I couldn’t quit crying. I’m shaking now.  To know that our beach may be black or brown, or that we can’t get in the water, it’s so sad.”

#18) Qin Chen, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge on the possibility that a hurricane could push massive amounts of oil ashore along the Gulf:

“A hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico this year would be devastating.”

#19) Retired Army General Russel Honore on the effect this spill is having on residents of the Gulf coast:

“I’m sure, every time they hear a negative word, their skin crawls, ’cause they need these jobs. … This is what’s going to put their kids in school, and what pays the rent.”

#20) A group calling itself “Seize BP”:

“The greatest environmental disaster with no end in sight! Eleven workers dead. Millions of gallons of oil gushing for months (and possibly years) to come. Jobs vanishing. Creatures dying. A pristine environment destroyed for generations. A mega-corporation that has lied and continues to lie, and a government that refuses to protect the people.”

#21) Louisiania Governor Bobby Jindal:

“There has been failure, particularly with the effort to protect our coast and our marsh. And that was the biggest topic of discussion in a very frank meeting we had with the president.”

#22) BP’s chief operating officer, Doug Suttles:

“This scares everybody — the fact that we can’t make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven’t succeeded so far.”

#23) Doug Rader, chief ocean scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund:

“You simply cannot make more (reefs), unless you have a few thousand years to wait.”

#24) Public Service Commissioner Benjamin Stevens:

“You get hit by a hurricane and you can rebuild. But when that stuff washes up on the white sands of Pensacola Beach, you can’t just go and get more white sand.”

#25) Wilma Subra, a chemist who has served as a consultant to the Environmental Protection Agency:

“Every time the wind blows from the south-east to the shore, people are being made sick.”

#26) Hotel Owner Dodie Vegas:

“It’s just going to kill us. It’s going to destroy us.”

#27) Louisiana resident Sean Lanier:

“Until they stop this leak, it’s just like getting stabbed and the knife’s still in you, and they’re moving it around.”

#28) White House energy adviser Carol Browner:

“There could be oil coming up until August.”

#29) Marine toxicologist Dr. Susan Shaw, director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute:

“We’ll see dead bodies soon. Sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, whales: the impact on predators will be seen in a short time because the food web will be impacted from the bottom up.”

#30) Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser:

“We will die a slow death over the next two years as this oil creeps ashore.”

Europe’s Coming Summer Of Discontent

The summer of 2010 promises to be the most tumultuous summer in the short history of the European Union.  The sovereign debt crisis sweeping the continent threatens to cause economic and political instability on a scale not seen in Europe for decades.  The truth is that governments across the eurozone have accumulated gigantic piles of debt that simply are not sustainable.  Prior to the implementation of the euro, these European governments often “printed” their way out of messes like this, but now they can’t do that.  Now they either have to dramatically cut government expenses or they have to default.  But the austerity measures that the IMF and the ECB are pressuring these European governments to adopt are likely to have some very painful side effects.  Not only will these austerity measures cause a significant slowdown in economic growth, they are also likely to cause the same kinds of protests, strikes and riots that we saw in Greece to erupt all over Europe.

You see, most Europeans have become very accustomed to the social welfare state.  Tens of millions of Europeans aren’t about to let anyone cut their welfare payments or the wages on their cushy government jobs.  In most of the European nations that are experiencing big financial problems there are very powerful unions and labor organizations that do not want anything to do with austerity measures and that are already mobilizing.

As the IMF and the ECB continue to push austerity measures all over Europe this summer, the chaos that we witnessed in Greece could end up being repeated over and over again across the continent.  This could truly be Europe’s summer of discontent.

The following are just a few of the countries that we should be watching very carefully in the months ahead….

Spain

In many ways, the economic situation in Spain is now even worse than the economic situation in Greece.  Spain’s unemployment was already above 20 percent even before this recent crisis.  There are now 4.6 million people without jobs in Spain.  There are 1.6 million unsold properties in Spain, six times the level per capita in the United States.  Total public/private debt in Spain has reached 270 percent of GDP.

But this past week things really started to spin out of control in Spain.   Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of The Telegraph describes the current situation in Spain this way….

For Spain it has been a horrible week. The central bank seized CajaSur and imposed draconian write-down rules on banks to restore confidence. The Spanish Socialist and Workers Party (PSOE) of Jose Luis Zapatero then rammed a 5pc cut in public wages through the Cortes by a single vote, shattering consensus. The government cannot hope to pass a budget. Its own trade union base is planning a general strike.

The austerity measures that Spain has been pressured to implement have proven so unpopular in Spain that many are now projecting that Spain’s socialist government will be forced to call early elections.

Spain finds itself in a very difficult position.  They have a debt that they cannot possibly handle, the IMF and the ECB are pressuring Spain to implement austerity measures which are wildly unpopular with the public, and if Spain does implement those austerity measures it may send the Spanish economy into a downward spiral.

In addition, the fact that Fitch Ratings has stripped Spain of its AAA status has pushed Spain to the edge of financial oblivion.

A recent editorial inEl Pais spoke of the “perverse spiral” that Spain’s economy is entering….

“The Fitch note drives home the apparently unsolvable contradiction in which the Spanish economy finds itself. To maintain debt solvency Spain must squeeze public spending: yet this policy undermines the chances of recovery which itself causes further loss of confidence.”

And Spain’s very powerful labor organizations are not about to take these austerity measures sitting down.  In fact, the two largest trade unions in Spain are already calling for a general strike.

So could Spain end up being the next Greece?

France

France admitted on Sunday that keeping its top-notch credit rating would be “a stretch” without some tough budget decisions.

But French citizens are not too keen on belt-tightening.  We all remember the massive riots in France a few years ago when it was proposed the the work week should be shortened.  It certainly seems unlikely that the French will accept “tough budget decisions” without making some serious noise.

Italy

The Italian government recently approved austerity measures worth 24 billion euros for the years 2011-2012.  But the Italian public is less than thrilled about it.

In fact, Italy’s largest union has announced that it will propose to its members a general strike at the end of June to protest these measures.

Portugal

Under pressure from the IMF and the ECB, Portugal has agreed to impose fresh austerity measures that include much higher taxes and very deep budget cuts.

And the truth is that Portugal desperately needs to do something to get their finances under control.  Recent EU data shows that Portugal’s total debt is 331 percent of GDP, compared to only 224 percent for Greece.

So will the Portuguese public accept these austerity measures?

It doesn’t seem likely.

In fact, Fernando Texeira dos Santos, Portugal’s finance minister, says that he expects “violent episodes” comparable to those in Greece but insists that there is no other option.

So it promises to be a wild summer in Portugal.  The CGTP trade union federation in Portugal has promised to mobilize their members….

“Either we come up with a very strong reaction or we will be reduced to bread and water.”

Romania

They have already been rioting in the streets in Romania.

Tens of thousands of workers and pensioners recently took to the streets in Romania to protest the harsh austerity measures that the Romanian government is imposing at the request of the International Monetary Fund.

The Romanian people have been through incredibly hard times before, and they aren’t about to let the IMF and the ECB impose strict austerity measures on them without a fight.

Germany

It is being reported that Germans are bracing themselves for a “bitter” round of government budget cuts.  It seems that even Germany has some belt-tightening to do.

In addition, resentment is rising fast in Germany as the population there realizes that it is Germany that is going to be the one funding a large portion of the bailouts for these other European nations.

How long will the German people be able to control their tempers?

Ireland

The Wall Street Journal is warning that Ireland could be Europe’s next financial basket case.

Why?

Well, the Irish have gotten into a ton of debt, and they are now finding it very expensive to finance new debt.  The Irish government is now paying approximately 2.2 percentage points more than Germany is to borrow money for 10 years, while Spain (even with their economy in such a state of disaster) only has to pay 1.6 percentage points more than Germany.

But if “austerity measures” come to Ireland, how do you think the public will react?

It likely would not be pretty.

The United Kingdom

The exploding debt situation in the U.K. was a major issue in the most recent election.  David Cameron promised the voters to get the U.K.’s exploding debt situation under control.  But the coming budget cuts are likely to be incredibly painful.  In fact, Bank of England governor Mervyn King has even gone so far as to warn that public anger over the coming austerity measures will be so painful that whichever party is seen as responsible will be out of power for a generation.

But it isn’t just national governments that are in trouble in Europe.  The European Central Bank is warning that eurozone banks could face up to 195 billion euros in losses during a “second wave” of economic problems over the next 18 months.

The truth is that almost everyone is expecting the next couple of years to be very tough economically all across Europe.

But the vast majority of the European public is not going to understand the economics behind what is happening.  All most of them are going to know is that the budget reductions, tax increases and pay cuts really, really hurt and that is likely to result in a whole lot of anger.

When Europeans get really angry it isn’t pretty.  If what happened in Greece is any indication, this upcoming summer and fall could be a really wild one throughout Europe.

“Euroland, burned down. A continent on the way to bankruptcy”
-The front page of Der Spiegel, May 5th, 2010

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The U.S. Economic Collapse Top 20 Countdown

So just how bad is the U.S. economy?  Well, the truth is that sometimes it is hard to put into words.  We have squandered the great wealth left to us by our forefathers, we have almost totally dismantled the world’s greatest manufacturing base, we have shipped millions of good jobs overseas and we have piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of mankind.  We have taken the greatest free enterprise economy that was ever created and have turned it into a gigantic house of cards delicately balanced on a never-ending spiral of paper money and debt.  For decades, all of this paper money and debt has enabled us to enjoy the greatest party in the history of the world, but now the bills are coming due and the party is nearly over.

In fact, things are already so bad that you can pick almost every number and find a corresponding statistic that shows just how bad the economy is getting.

You doubt it?

Well, check this out….

20 – Gallup’s measure of underemployment hit 20.0% on March 15th.  That was up from 19.7% two weeks earlier and 19.5% at the start of the year.

19 – According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings were reported on 367,056 properties in the month of March.  This was an increase of almost 19 percent from February, and it was the highest monthly total since RealtyTrac began issuing its report back in January 2005.

18 – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in March the national rate of unemployment in the United States was 9.7%, but for Americans younger than 25 it was well above 18 percent.

17 – The FDIC’s list of problem banks recently hit a 17-year high.

16 – During the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans that are at least three months past due in the United States increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

15 – The Spanish government has just approved a 15 billion euro austerity plan.

14 – The U.S. Congress recently approved an increase in the debt cap of the U.S. government to over 14 trillion dollars.

13 – The FDIC is backing 8,000 banks that have a total of $13 trillion in assets with a deposit insurance fund that is basically flat broke.  In fact, the FDIC’s deposit insurance fund now has negative 20.7 billion dollars in it, which actually represents a slight improvement from the end of 2009.

12 – The U.S. national debt soared from the $12 trillion mark to the $13 trillion mark in a frighteningly short period of time.

11– It is being reported that a massive network of big banks and financial institutions have been involved in blatant bid-rigging fraud that cost taxpayers across the U.S. billions of dollars.  The U.S. Justice Department is charging that financial advisers to municipalities colluded with Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Wachovia and 11 other banks in a conspiracy to rig bids on municipal financial instruments.

10 – The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that more than 10 percent of all U.S. homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least one payment during the January-March time period.  That was a record high and up from 9.1 percent a year ago.

9 – The official U.S. unemployment number is 9.9%, although the truth is that many economists consider the true unemployment rate to be much, much higher than that.

8 – The French government says that its deficit will increase to 8 percent of GDP in 2010, but by implementing substantial budget cuts they hope that they can get it to within the European Union’s 3 percent limit by the year 2013.

7 – The biggest banks in the U.S. cut their collective small business lending balance by another $1 billion in November.  That drop was the seventh monthly decline in a row.

6The six biggest banks in the United States now possess assets equivalent to 60 percent of America’s gross national product.

5 – That is the number of U.S. banks that federal regulators closed on Friday.  That brings that total number of banks that have been shut down this year in the United States to a total of 78.

4 – According to a study published by Texas A&M University Press, the four biggest industries in the Gulf of Mexico region are oil, tourism, fishing and shipping.  Together, those four industries account for approximately $234 billion in economic activity each year.  Now those four industries have been absolutely decimated by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and will probably not fully recover for years, if not decades.

3 – Decent three bedroom homes in the city of Detroit can be bought for $10,000, but no one wants to buy them.

2 – A massive “second wave” of adjustable rate mortgages is scheduled to reset over the next two to three years.  If this second wave is anything like the first wave, the U.S. housing market is about to be absolutely crushed.

1 – The bottom 40 percent of all income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.  But of course many on Wall Street and in the government would argue that there is nothing wrong with an economy where nearly half the people are dividing up 1 percent of the benefits.

The Beginning Of The End by Michael T. Snyder

One Out Of Every Ten U.S. Banks Is Now On The FDIC’s Problem List – Do You Know If Your Bank Is Safe?

Do you know if your bank will be there next month?  For a growing number of Americans, that is becoming a very real question.  The Wall Street Journal is reporting that 775 banks (approximately ten percent of all U.S. banks) are now on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s list of “problem” banks.  This year we have already seen more than six dozen banks fail, and the frightening thing is that we are seeing a rapid acceleration in bank failures even though we are supposedly in a “recovery” right now.  So what happens if the economy takes a bad turn and hundreds of these banks that are barely surviving start failing?

Right now an increasing number of Americans are not paying their loans, and this is shredding the balance sheets of small and medium size banks all over the United States.  In fact, during the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans that are at least three months past due increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

16 consecutive quarters?

Once is a coincidence.

Twice is a trend.

Sixteen times in a row is a total nightmare.

Is there anyone out there that is still convinced that the economy is getting better?

If so, perhaps this will convince you otherwise….

There were 252 banks on the FDIC’s “problem list” at the end of 2008.

There were 702 banks on the FDIC’s “problem list” at the end of 2009.

Now there are 775 banks of the FDIC’s “problem list”.

Are you starting to see a trend?

Federal regulators have already closed 73 banks in 2010, more than double the number shut down at this time last year.

The truth is that the U.S. banking system is coming apart like a 20 dollar suit.

So is the FDIC worried?

No, they insist that they have plenty of money to cover all of the banks that are going to fail.

After all, the FDIC’s deposit insurance fund now has negative 20.7 billion dollars in it, which represents a slight improvement from the end of 2009.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Negative 20.7 billion dollars.

That should be enough to cover the hundreds of banks that are in the process of failing, right?

Well, if not, the FDIC can just run out and ask the U.S. government for a big, juicy bailout.

After all, can’t the U.S. government borrow an endless amount of money with absolutely no consequences?

Well, no.

Debt always catches up with you sooner or later.

In fact, the IMF is warning that that the gross public debt of the United States will hit 97 percent of GDP in 2011 and 110 percent of GDP in 2015.

Meanwhile, the U.S. financial system continues to shrink even after the unprecedented amount of “stimulus money” that the U.S. government has been shoveling into the economy.

The M3 money supply is now contracting at a frightening pace.

In fact, the current rate of monetary contraction now matches the average rate of monetary contraction the U.S. experienced between 1929 and 1933.

But don’t worry.

We aren’t going into a Depression.

Everything is going to be just fine.

Just look deep into Obama’s eyes and keep repeating the word “change” to yourself over and over.

According to a report in The Telegraph, the M3 money supply declined from $14.2 trillion to $13.9 trillion in the first quarter of 2010.

That represents an annual rate of contraction of 9.6 percent.

In case you were wondering, that is a lot.

Not only that, but the assets of institutional money market funds declined at a 37 percent annual rate.

That was the sharpest drop ever.

Yes, it is time for the alarm bells to start going off.

The Telegraph recently quoted Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research as saying the following about the deep problems that the U.S. is facing….

“The plunge in M3 has no precedent since the Great Depression. The dominant reason for this is that regulators across the world are pressing banks to raise capital asset ratios and to shrink their risk assets. This is why the US is not recovering properly.”

If banks continue to cut their lending, the M3 is going to continue to shrink.

But as noted above, Americans are increasingly getting behind on their loans, so why should banks loan money to a bunch of deadbeats?

Right now U.S. banks are increasingly tightening their lending standards, and this is making it much tougher to get a loan.

In fact, in 2009 the biggest U.S. banks posted their sharpest decline in lending since 1942.

But there is only one problem.

The U.S. economy is completely and totally dependent on credit.

Without easy credit, the entire U.S. economic machine is going to slowly grind to a halt.

So what do you do?

The reality is that we have one gigantic financial mess on our hands, and in many ways it is starting to look like the 1930s all over again.

But perhaps someone out there has a way to get us out of this nightmare.  Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts, opinions or solutions….

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