More than 3,500 retail stores are going to close all across America over the next few months as the worst retail downturn in U.S. history gets even deeper. Earlier this week, Sears shocked the world when it announced that there is “substantial doubt” that the company will be able to “continue as a going concern” much longer. In other words, Sears has announced that it is on the verge of imminent collapse. Meanwhile, Payless stunned the retail industry when it came out that they are preparing to file for bankruptcy. The “retail apocalypse” that I have been warning about is greatly accelerating, and many believe that this is one of the early warning signs that the economic collapse that is already going on in other parts of the globe will soon reach U.S. shores.
I have repeatedly warned my readers that “Sears is going to zero“, and now Sears is officially saying that it might actually happen. When you file official paperwork with the government that says there is “substantial doubt” that the company will survive, that means that the end is very near…
The company that operates Sears, the department store chain that dominated retail for decades, warned Tuesday that it faces “substantial doubt” about its ability to stay in business unless it can borrow more and tap cash from more of its assets.
“Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” Sears Holdings said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sears Holdings operates both Sears and Kmart stores.
In the wake of that statement, the price of Sears stock dipped 13.69% to $7.85 a share.
Personally, I am going to miss Sears very much. But of course the truth is that they simply cannot continue operating as they have been.
The company said it lost $607 million, or $5.67 per diluted share, during the quarter that ended on Jan. 28. That compared with a loss of $580 million, or $5.44 per diluted share, a year earlier. It has posted a loss in all but two of the last 24 quarters, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
How in the world is it possible for a retailer to lose that amount of money in just three months?
As I have said before, if they had employees flushing dollar bills down the toilet 24 hours a day they still shouldn’t have losses that big.
This week we also learned that Payless is heading for bankruptcy. According to Bloomberg, the chain is planning to imminently close at least 400 stores…
Payless Inc., the struggling discount shoe chain, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company is initially planning to close 400 to 500 stores as it reorganizes operations, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations aren’t public. Payless had originally looked to shutter as many as 1,000 locations, and the number may still be in flux, according to one of the people.
Of course these are just two examples of a much broader phenomenon.
Never before in U.S. history have we seen such a dramatic wave of store closures. According to Business Insider, over 3,500 retail locations “are expected to close in the next couple of months”…
Thousands of mall-based stores are shutting down in what’s fast becoming one of the biggest waves of retail closures in decades.
More than 3,500 stores are expected to close in the next couple of months.
Once thriving shopping malls are rapidly being transformed into ghost towns. As I wrote about just recently, “you might be tempted to think that ‘Space Available’ was the hottest new retail chain in the entire country.”
When an anchor store like Sears or Macy’s closes, it often triggers a downward spiral in performance for shopping malls.
Not only do the malls lose the income and shopper traffic from that store’s business, but the closure often triggers “co-tenancy clauses” that allow the other mall tenants to terminate their leases or renegotiate the terms, typically with a period of lower rents, until another retailer moves into the anchor space.
Years ago I wrote of a time when we would see boarded-up storefronts all across America, and now it is happening.
Instead of asking which retailers are going to close, perhaps we should be asking which ones are going to survive this retail cataclysm.
In the past, you could always count on middle class U.S. consumers to save the day, but today the middle class is steadily shrinking and U.S. consumers are increasingly tapped out.
For instance, just look at what is happening to delinquency rates on auto loans…
US auto loan and lease credit loss rates weakened in the second half of 2016, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings, which said they will continue to deteriorate.
“Subprime credit losses are accelerating faster than the prime segment, and this trend is likely to continue as a result of looser underwriting standards by lenders in recent years,” said Michael Taiano, a director at Fitch.
The last time so many Americans got behind on subprime auto loans was during the last financial crisis.
We are seeing so many similarities to what happened just prior to the last recession, and yet most Americans still seem to think that the U.S. economy is going to be just fine in 2017.
The last recession probably should have started back in late 2015, but thanks to manipulation by the Fed and an unprecedented debt binge by the Obama administration, official U.S. GDP growth has been able to stay barely above zero for the last year and a half.
But just because something is delayed does not mean that it is canceled.
All along, our long-term economic imbalances have continued to get even worse, and a date with destiny is rapidly approaching for the U.S. economy.
Has the Federal Reserve gone completely insane? On Wednesday, the Fed raised interest rates for the second time in three months, and it signaled that more rate hikes are coming in the months ahead. When the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates, it becomes less expensive to borrow money and that tends to stimulate more economic activity. But when the Federal Reserve raises rates , that makes it more expensive to borrow money and that tends to slow down economic activity. So why in the world is the Fed raising rates when the U.S. economy is already showing signs of slowing down dramatically? The following are 12 reasons why the Federal Reserve may have just made the biggest economic mistake since the last financial crisis…
#1 Just hours before the Fed announced this rate hike, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s projection for U.S. GDP growth in the first quarter fell to just 0.9 percent. If that projection turns out to be accurate, this will be the weakest quarter of economic growth during which rates were hiked in 37 years.
The Federal Reserve decision Wednesday to lift its benchmark short-term interest rate by a quarter percentage point is likely to have a domino effect across the economy as it gradually pushes up rates for everything from mortgages and credit card rates to small business loans.
Consumers with credit card debt, adjustable-rate mortgages and home equity lines of credit are the most likely to be affected by a rate hike, says Greg McBride, chief analyst at Bankrate.com. He says it’s the cumulative effect that’s important, especially since the Fed already raised rates in December 2015 and December 2016.
#3 Speaking of auto loans, the number of people that are defaulting on them had already been rising even before this rate hike by the Fed…
The number of Americans who have stopped paying their car loans appears to be increasing — a development that has the potential to send ripple effects through the US economy.
Losses on subprime auto loans have spiked in the last few months, according to Steven Ricchiuto, Mizuho’s chief US economist. They jumped to 9.1% in January, up from 7.9% in January 2016.
“Recoveries on subprime auto loans also fell to just 34.8%, the worst performance in over seven years,” he said in a note.
#7 U.S. consumers certainly aren’t thriving, and so an economic slowdown will hit many of them extremely hard. In fact, about half of all Americans could not even write a $500 check for an unexpected emergency expense if they had to do so right now.
#8 The bond market is already crashing. Most casual observers only watch stocks, but the truth is that a bond crash almost always comes before a stock market crash. Bonds have been falling like a rock since Donald Trump’s election victory, and we are not too far away from a full-blown crisis. If you follow my work on a regular basis you know this is a hot button issue for me, and if bonds continue to plummet I will be writing quite a bit about this in the weeks ahead.
#9 On top of everything else, we could soon be facing a new debt ceiling crisis. The suspension of the debt ceiling has ended, and Donald Trump could have a very hard time finding the votes that he needs to raise it. The following comes from Bloomberg…
In particular, the markets seem to be ignoring two vital numbers, which together could have profound consequences for global markets: 218 and $189 billion. In order to raise or suspend the debt ceiling (which will technically be reinstated on March 16), 218 votes are needed in the House of Representatives. The Treasury’s cash balance will need to last until this happens, or the U.S. will default.
The opening cash balance this month was $189 billion, and Treasury is burning an average of $2 billion per day – with the ability to issue new debt. Net redemptions of existing debt not held by the government are running north of $100 billion a month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has acknowledged the coming deadline, encouraging Congress last week to raise the limit immediately.
If something is not done soon, the federal government could be out of cash around the beginning of the summer, and this could create a political crisis of unprecedented proportions.
#10 And even if the debt ceiling is raised, that does not mean that everything is okay. It is being reported that U.S. government revenues just experienced their largest decline since the last financial crisis.
#11 What do corporate insiders know that the rest of us do not? Stock purchases by corporate insiders are at the lowest level that we have seen in three decades…
It’s usually a good sign when the CEO of a major company is buying shares; s/he is an insider and knows what’s going on, so their confidence is a positive sign.
Well, according to public data filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, insider buying is at its LOWEST level in THREE DECADES.
In other words, the people at the top of the corporate food chain who have privileged information about their businesses are NOT buying.
#12 A survey that was just released found that corporate executives are extremely concerned that Donald Trump’s policies could trigger a trade war…
As business leaders are nearly split over the effectiveness of Washington’s new leadership, they are in unison when it comes to fears over trade and immigration. Nearly all CFOs surveyed are concerned that the Trump administration’s policies could trigger a trade war between the United States and China.
A decline in global trade could deepen the economic downturns that are already going on all over the planet. For example, Brazil is already experiencing “its longest and deepest recession in recorded history“, and right next door people are literally starving in Venezuela.
After everything that you just read, would you say that the economy is “doing well”?
Of course not.
But after raising rates on Wednesday, that is precisely what Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told the press…
“The simple message is — the economy is doing well.” Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said at a news conference. “The unemployment rate has moved way down and many more people are feeling more optimistic about their labor prospects.”
Well, look, our policy is not set in stone. It is data- dependent and we’re — we’re not locked into any particular policy path. Our — you know, as you said, the data have not notably strengthened. I — there’s noise always in the data from quarter to quarter. But we haven’t changed our view of the outlook. We think we’re on the same path, not — we haven’t boosted the outlook, projected faster growth. We think we’re moving along the same course we’ve been on, but it is one that involves gradual tightening in the labor market.
Just like in 2008, the Federal Reserve really doesn’t understand the economic environment. At that time, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke assured everyone that there was not going to be a recession, but when he made that statement a recession was actually already underway.
And as I have said before, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it is ultimately announced that GDP growth for the first quarter of 2017 was negative.
Whether it happens now or a bit later, the truth is that the U.S. economy is heading for a new recession, and the Federal Reserve has just given us a major shove in that direction.
Is the Fed really so clueless about the true state of the economy, or could it be possible that they are raising rates just to hurt Donald Trump?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but clearly something very strange is going on…
Most Americans do not understand this, but the truth is that the Federal Reserve has far more power over the U.S. economy than anyone else does, and that includes Donald Trump. Politicians tend to get the credit or the blame for how the economy is performing, but in reality it is an unelected, unaccountable panel of central bankers that is running the show, and until something is done about the Fed our long-term economic problems will never be fixed. For an extended analysis of this point, please see this article. In this piece, I am going to explain why the Federal Reserve is currently setting the stage for a recession, a new housing crisis and a stock market crash, and if those things happen unfortunately it will be Donald Trump that will primarily get the blame.
Economists generally believe the central bank’s median estimate will continue to call for three quarter-point rate increases both this year and in 2018. But there’s some risk that gets pushed to four as inflation nears the Fed’s annual 2% target and business confidence keeps juicing markets in anticipation of President Trump’s plan to cut taxes and regulations.
During the Obama years, the Federal Reserve pushed interest rates all the way to the floor, and this artificially boosted the economy. In a recent article, Gail Tverberg explained how this works…
With falling interest rates, monthly payments can be lower, even if prices of homes and cars rise. Thus, more people can afford homes and cars, and factories are less expensive to build. The whole economy is boosted by increased “demand” (really increased affordability) for high-priced goods, thanks to the lower monthly payments.
Asset prices, such as home prices and farm prices, can rise because the reduced interest rate for debt makes them more affordable to more buyers. Assets that people already own tend to inflate, making them feel richer. In fact, owners of assets such as homes can borrow part of the increased equity, giving them more spendable income for other things. This is part of what happened leading up to the financial crash of 2008.
But the opposite is also true.
When interest rates rise, borrowing money becomes more expensive and economic activity slows down.
For the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates right now is absolutely insane. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s most recent projection, GDP growth for the first quarter of 2017 is supposed to be an anemic 1.2 percent. Personally, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we actually ended up with a negative number for the first quarter.
As Donald Trump has explained in detail, the U.S. economy is a complete mess right now, and we are teetering on the brink of a new recession.
So why in the world would the Fed raise rates unless they wanted to hurt Donald Trump?
The rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage reached its all-time low in November 2012, at just 3.31%. As of this week, it was 4.21%, and by the end of 2018, it could go as high as 5.5%, forecasts Matthew Pointon, a property economist for Capital Economics.
He points out that for a homeowner with a $250,000 mortgage fixed at 3.8%, annual payments are $14,000. If that homeowner moved to a similarly-priced home but had a 5.5% rate, their annual payments would rise by $3,000 a year, to $17,000.
Of course stock investors do not like rising rates at all either. Stocks tend to rise in low rate environments such as we have had for the past several years, and they tend to fall in high rate environments.
And according to CNBC, a “coming stock market correction” could be just around the corner…
Investors are in for a rude awakening about a coming stock market correction — most just don’t know it yet. No one knows when the crash will come or what will cause it — and no one can. But what’s worse for most investors is they have no clue how much they stand to lose when it inevitably happens.
“If you look at the market historically, we have had, on average, a crash about every eight to 10 years, and essentially the average loss is about 42 percent,” said Kendrick Wakeman, CEO of financial technology and investment analytics firm FinMason.
If stocks start to fall, how low could they ultimately go?
One technical analyst that has a stunning record of predicting short-term stock market declines in recent years is saying that the Dow could potentially drop “by more than 6,000 points to 14,800”…
But if the technical stars collide, as one chartist predicts, the blue-chip gauge could soon plunge by more than 6,000 points to 14,800. That’s nearly 30% lower, based on Friday’s close.
Sandy Jadeja, chief market strategist at Master Trading Strategies, claims several predicted stock market crashes to his name — all of them called days, or even weeks, in advance. (He told CNBC viewers, for example, that the August 2015 “Flash Crash” was coming 18 days before it hit.) He’s also made prescient calls on gold and crude oil.
And he’s extremely concerned about what this year could bring for investors. “The timeline is rapidly approaching” for the next potential Dow meltdown, said Jadeja, who shares his techniques via workshops and seminars.
Most big stock market crashes tend to happen in the fall, and that is what I portray in my novel, but the truth is that they can literally happen at any time. If you have not seen my recent rant about how ridiculously overvalued stocks are at this moment in history, you can find it right here. Whether you want to call it a “crash”, a “correction”, or something else, the truth is that a major downturn is coming for stocks and the only question is when it will strike.
And when things start to get bad, most of the blame will be dumped on Trump, but it won’t primarily be his fault.
It was the Federal Reserve that created this massive financial bubble, and they will also be responsible for popping it. Hopefully we can get the American people to understand how these things really work so that accountability for what is coming can be placed where it belongs.
If you didn’t know better, you might be tempted to think that “Space Available” was the hottest new retail chain in the entire country. As you will see below, it is being projected that about a third of all shopping malls in the United States will soon close, and we just recently learned that the number of “distressed retailers” is the highest that it has been since the last recession. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can possibly believe that the U.S. economy is in “good shape” after looking at the retail industry. In my recent article about the ongoing “retail apocalypse“, I discussed the fact that Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s have all announced that they are closing dozens of stores in 2017, and you can find a pretty comprehensive list of 19 U.S. retailers that are “on the brink of bankruptcy” right here. Needless to say, quite a bloodbath is going on out there right now.
But I didn’t realize how truly horrific things were for the retail industry until I came across an article about mall closings on Time Magazine’s website…
About one-third of malls in the U.S. will shut their doors in the coming years, retail analyst Jan Kniffen told CNBC Thursday. His prediction comes in the wake of Macy’s reporting its worst consecutive same-store sales decline since the financial crisis.
Macy’s and its fellow retailers in American malls are challenged by an oversupply of retail space as customers migrate toward online shopping, as well as fast fashion retailers like H&M and off-price stores such as T.J. Maxx. As a result, about 400 of the country’s 1,100 enclosed malls will fail in the upcoming years. Of those that remain, he predicts that about 250 will thrive and the rest will continue to struggle.
Can you imagine what this country is going to look like if that actually happens?
Shopping malls all over the United States are literally becoming “ghost towns”, and many that have already closed have stayed empty for years and years.
The process usually starts when a shopping mall starts losing anchor stores. That is why it is so alarming that Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s are planning to shut down so many locations in 2017. According to one recent report, 310 shopping malls in America are in imminent danger of losing an anchor store…
Dozens of malls have closed in the last 10 years, and many more are at risk of shutting down as retailers like Macy’s, JCPenney, and Sears — also known as anchor stores — shutter hundreds of stores to staunch the bleeding from falling sales.
The commercial-real-estate firm CoStar estimates that nearly a quarter of malls in the US, or roughly 310 of the nation’s 1,300 shopping malls, are at high risk of losing an anchor store.
Once the anchor stores start going, traffic falls off dramatically for the other stores and they start leaving too.
Four years ago in “The Beginning Of The End” I warned that empty storefronts would soon litter the national landscape, and now that is precisely what is happening.
Now that the Christmas season is over, some retailers that have been around for decades have suddenly decided that it is time to file for bankruptcy. Sadly, one of those retailers is HHGregg…
HHGregg Inc., the 61-year-old seller of appliances and electronics, is moving closer to Chapter 11 after announcing a store-closing plan, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The filing may come as soon as next week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. Bloomberg previously reported that HHGregg might file for bankruptcy in March if it couldn’t reach an out-of-court solution.
Another retailer that was once riding high but is now dealing with bankruptcy is BCBG…
BCBG, the California-based fashion retailer that had acquired fashion design firm Herve Leger in 1998, and that once had more than 570 boutiques globally, including 175 in the US, and whose cocktail dresses and handbags were shown off by celebrities, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday.
It is buckling under $459 million of debt. It has 4,800 employees. Layoffs have already started. More layoffs and other cost cuts are planned, according to court documents, cited by Bloomberg. It started closing 120 of its stores in January. It wants to sell itself at a court-supervised auction. If that fails, it wants to negotiate a debt-for-equity swap with junior lenders owed $289 million.
If the U.S. economy was actually doing as well as the stock market says that it should be doing, all of these retail chains would not be closing stores and going bankrupt.
We live at a time when middle class consumers are tapped out. According to one recent survey, 57 percent of all Americans do not even have enough money in the bank to write a $500 check for an unexpected expense.
And people are falling out of the middle class at a staggering pace. The number of homeless people in New York City recently set a brand new record high, and city authorities plan to construct 90 new homeless shelters within the next five years.
On the west coast we are also seeing a dramatic rise in homelessness. The following comes from an article by Dan Lyman…
Citizen journalists have captured stunning images and video of homeless encampments that are spiraling out of control in the shadows of Disneyland and Anaheim Stadium in California.
The tent city has recently sprung up along the Santa Ana riverbed, near a busy convergence of three major California highways known as the “Orange Crush,” at the border of Anaheim and Santa Ana, the latter a “sanctuary city.”
Homeless activists estimate that as many as 1,000 people are camped in the region.
You can see some video footage of this homeless encampment on YouTube right here…
Incredibly, the Federal Reserve is almost certainly going to raise interest rates at their next meeting even though the U.S. economy is faltering so badly. That only makes sense if they are trying to make Donald Trump look as bad as possible.
Even though this giant bubble of false economic stability that we are currently enjoying has lasted far longer than it should have, the truth is that nothing has changed about the long-term economic outlook at all.
America is still heading for “economic Armageddon”, and the retail industry is a huge red flag that is warning us that our day of reckoning is approaching more rapidly than many had anticipated.
After Tuesday night, nobody should have any more doubt that the U.S. economy has been in the process of collapsing. Donald Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress is being hailed as his best speech ever. Even CNN’s Van Jones praised Trump, which shocked many observers. Jones said that when Trump honored the widow of slain Navy Seal Ryan Owens that it “was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics”, and Jones believes that Trump “became President of the United States in that moment”. But Trump’s speech is not just being praised for that one moment. He detailed many of the most important problems that our nation is facing, and he explained his prescription for addressing those problems.
Hopefully Trump’s words helped people to understand that our problems did not get fixed just because he got elected. It is going to take extraordinary action to fix those problems, because our problems run very deep. In particular, Trump made an exceedingly strong case that the U.S. economy has been badly deteriorating for a very long period of time. The following are 11 quotes from Trump’s speech to Congress that show that the U.S. economy is in a state of collapse…
#1 “Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force”
#2 “Over 43 million people are now living in poverty”
#3 “Over 43 million Americans are on food stamps”
#4 “More than one in five people in their prime working years are not working”
#5 “We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years”
#6 “In the last eight years, the past administration has put on more new debt than nearly all of the other Presidents combined”
#7 “We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved”
#8 “We’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001”
#9 “Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly 800 billion dollars”
#10 “Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits. As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone.”
#11 “We’ve spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled”
So many of the economic themes that Trump touched on are things that I have been writing about recently. For example, I recently published an article entitled “11 Deeply Alarming Facts About America’s Crumbling Infrastructure” in which I discussed the horrific state of our roads, bridges, ports, dams, water systems and airports. I greatly applaud Trump for wanting to do something about this growing national crisis, but I just don’t know where the money is going to come from.
Just over a week ago I also wrote a major article about Obamacare. We have zero hope of turning our economy in a positive direction until we do something to fix our dramatically failing healthcare system, but at the moment Republicans in Congress seem extremely hesitant to take action. Instead, many Republican leaders are now talking about trying to “fix Obamacare“, and that simply is not going to work.
You can’t “fix” a steaming pile of garbage.
All of the other facts that Trump listed about the economy were right on point too. I have been screaming for seven years about our nightmarish trade deficit and the fact that tens of thousands of businesses and millions of good paying jobs were leaving the country. It is refreshing to finally have a president that understands how badly America has been hurt by imbalanced trade agreements, and my hope is that he will start to take constructive action in this regard.
So much damage to the economy has already been done, and there are all kinds of indications that we are about to officially slide into yet another recession. Yesterday we learned that the number of “distressed retailers” in this country is the highest that it has been since the last recession, and in recent weeks major retailers across the nation have announced the closing of hundreds of stores. Lending standards are tightening, bankruptcies are rising, and employment growth at companies listed on the S&P 500 has gone negative for the first time since the last recession.
It is being projected that GDP growth for the first quarter of 2017 will be barely above zero, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we actually had a negative reading.
If we indeed are heading into a new recession, Trump and his supporters need it to happen as soon as possible so that they can blame it on Obama. If a recession begins a year from now, everyone will blame it on Trump even if it is not his fault. But if a recession begins now, Trump and his supporters can pin responsibility for it on Obama and then take credit if and when a recovery occurs.
Trump’s speech on Tuesday night was very optimistic, and he seemed quite confident that every issue that we are facing as a nation can be fixed…
Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing and hope.
You can’t squeeze blood out of an apple, and you can’t get out of a debt bubble by going into a lot more debt.
I understand that there are so many people out there right now that are deeply optimistic about the future, but the truth is that we have no hope of a positive future unless we fundamentally change our ways as a nation. I wish that someone could show me evidence that this is happening, because I would be very glad to see it. As it stands, we continue to steamroll toward the kind of apocalyptic future for this country that I have been warning about for a very long time.
It will take a lot more than words to fix America, and I think that Donald Trump understands this.
Hopefully many of his followers will start to get the message as well.
J.C. Penney and Family Christian Stores are the latest retail giants to announce widespread store closings. As you will see below, J.C. Penney plans to close between 130 and 140 stores, and Family Christian is closing all of their 240 stores. In recent months the stock market has been absolutely soaring, and so most people have simply assumed that the “real economy” must be doing well. But that is not the case at all. In fact, the retail apocalypse that I have been documenting for quite some time appears to be gaining momentum.
J.C. Penney (JCP) plans to close 130 to 140 stores and offer buyouts to 6,000 workers as the department-store industry sags in competition with online sellers and nimble niche retailers.
The company said Friday that it would shutter 13% to 14% of its locations and introduce new goods and services aimed at the shifting preferences of its customer base.
Meanwhile, many observers were quite surprised when Family Christian Stores decided to fold up shop for good. They were known as the largest Christian retailer on the entire planet, but now after 85 years they are going out of business forever…
Family Christian, which bills itself as the “world’s largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise,” announced Thursday it is closing after 85 years.
The non-profit company, employing more than 3,000 people in 240 stores in 36 states, said in a brief statement that the retailer had been facing declining sales since filing for bankruptcy protection in 2015 and had no choice but to shut down.
These two announcements are part of larger trend that we have been witnessing all over the country. As I have documented previously, Macy’s announced that it would be closing 100 stores earlier this year, and about the same time Sears said that it would be closing another 150 stores.
Back in 2010, Sears had a staggering 3,555 stores.
Before their recent announcement, Sears was down to 1,503 stores, and now this latest round of cuts will leave them with somewhere around 1,350.
Of course it won’t be too long before Sears has zero stores, and my regular readers know that I have been talking about the demise of Sears for a very long time.
The cold, hard truth of the matter is that the “real economy” is a total mess, and that is one of the primary reasons why these ridiculous stock market valuations that we are seeing right now are not sustainable.
One expert that agrees with my assessment is former Reagan Administration White House Budget Director David Stockman. In a recent interview, he explained why he believes that “everything will grind to a halt” after March 15th…
Stockman, who wrote a book titled “Trumped” predicting a Trump victory in 2016, says, “I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in the hot place that’s going to happen. This is delusional. This is the greatest suckers’ rally of all time. It is based on pure hopium and not any analysis at all as what it will take to push through a big tax cut. Donald Trump is in a trap. Today the debt is $20 trillion. It’s 106% of GDP. . . .Trump is inheriting a built-in deficit of $10 trillion over the next decade under current policies that are built in. Yet, he wants more defense spending, not less. He wants drastic sweeping tax cuts for corporations and individuals. He wants to spend more money on border security and law enforcement. He’s going to do more for the veterans. He wants this big trillion dollar infrastructure program. You put all that together and it’s madness. It doesn’t even begin to add up, and it won’t happen when you are struggling with the $10 trillion of debt that’s coming down the pike and the $20 trillion that’s already on the books.”
Then, Stockman drops this bomb and says:
“I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th 2017. That’s the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015. That holiday expires. The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion. It will then be law. It will be a hard stop. The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash. We are burning cash at a $75 billion a month rate. By summer, they will be out of cash. Then we will be in the mother of all debt ceiling crises. Everything will grind to a halt. I think we will have a government shutdown. There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.”
“The S&P 500 has been trading at 26 times earnings while earnings have been dropping for the past six or seven quarters. There is no booming recovery coming. There is going to be a recession and there will be no stimulus baton to bail it out. That is the new fact that neither Trump nor the Wall Street gamblers remotely understand.”
It is very difficult to argue with Stockman on this.
There are some people out there that seem to think that Donald Trump can miraculously turn the U.S. economy around just because he is Donald Trump.
It doesn’t work that way.
We are 20 trillion dollars in debt, and we are currently adding about a trillion dollars a year to that total. There is no possible way that Trump can cut taxes, increase military spending, build a border wall, spend much more on veterans and spend an extra trillion dollars on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.
We are flat broke as a nation and there simply is not money available to do everything that Donald Trump wants to do.
So we shall see what happens after March 15th. Unfortunately, I happen to agree with Stockman that economic reality is about to come knocking and Trump and his supporters are about to get a very rude wake up call.
Top Republicans are now publicly saying that Obamacare will never be fully repealed. In fact, many Republicans in Congress are already using the term “repair” instead of “repeal” to describe what is going to happen to Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. Without a doubt, the Republicans in Congress are eventually going to do something, but strategists in both parties are now suggesting that most of the key elements of Obamacare are going to remain once everything is all said and done. It will be put into a more “conservative” package, but it will still be Obamacare.
On Thursday, former House Speaker John Boehner made headlines all over the country when he said that a complete repeal of Obamacare is “not what’s going to happen”. Instead, Boehner said that Republicans are going to “fix Obamacare” and that they will “put a more conservative box around it” in order to keep their constituents happy.
Of course this isn’t what we voted for. For years, Republican politicians all across the country have been promising that Obamacare would be repealed once they got control of Congress, but now Boehner is telling us that all of that was just “happy talk”…
Earlier in the panel discussion, Boehner said he “started laughing” when Republicans started talking about moving lightning fast on repeal and then coming up with an alternative.
“In the 25 years that I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like. Not once,” Boehner said. “And all this happy talk that went on in November and December and January about repeal, repeal, repeal—yeah, we’ll do replace, replace—I started laughing, because if you pass repeal without replace, first, anything that happens is your fault. You broke it.”
When the Republicans finally get around to doing something, they will inevitably declare it to be a great victory, but will it actually be that much different from what we have now?
Yes, the IRS penalty for not having health insurance will probably go. But there will still be coverage for children up to the age of 26, there will still be mandatory coverage for preexisting conditions, there will still be mandatory coverage for maternity expenses, there will still be some form of Medicaid expansion and there will still be subsidies for the poor.
In the end, we are still going to have a healthcare system where half the country pays for the healthcare for the other half of the country.
That isn’t fair, and it never will be. One half of the country shouldn’t have to pay much higher rates for their own health insurance and also pay for the healthcare of everyone else in the nation as well. Either we should go back to a free market system, or they might as well go ahead and socialize the entire thing.
The thought of sticking with what we have right now is utter insanity, but unfortunately that is what top Republicans mean when they speak of “repairing” Obamacare. The following comes from the New York Times…
“When you talk about ‘repeal,’ you have just used a word that is very polarizing,” said Representative Tom MacArthur, Republican of New Jersey, who meets weekly with moderate Republicans and Democrats of equal number. “When you go to Democrats and say, ‘Help us repeal,’ that puts them in a box. If you say, ‘Would you help us repair something?’ people start listening in a whole other way.”
How in the world do you “repair” a steaming pile of garbage?
I just don’t understand.
What the Republicans need to do is very simple. As Jim Demint has suggested, the Republicans in Congress simply need to pass the same Obamacare repeal that Barack Obama vetoed not too long ago…
Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, the former South Carolina Republican senator, called on activists attending the Conservative Political Action Conference to push their members of Congress to send to President Donald Trump the same legislation that dismantled the law and was vetoed by President Barack Obama with all due haste.
“We must and we can repeal Obamacare now,” DeMint said. “They should send that same bill to President Trump right now.”
So what is keeping Republicans in Congress from moving forward?
One thing is the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Some liberal Republicans are promising to vote against any Obamacare repeal bill that defunds Planned Parenthood…
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) says she will not vote for an ObamaCare repeal bill that defunds Planned Parenthood.
In her address to Alaska’s state legislature Wednesday, the moderate Republican offered her firmest commitment yet that she will not support defunding Planned Parenthood.
“I, for one, do not believe that Planned Parenthood has any place in our deliberations on the Affordable Care Act,” she said.
Another thing that is giving some Republicans pause are the angry protesters that they are running into at town hall meetings…
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Tom McClintock of California are among Republicans who faced hostile audiences at recent town hall meetings.
“Republicans need to be paying attention and doing their best to understand the energy from the town halls,” said Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections, a Washington-based publication that tracks congressional races.
In the end, the truth is that the Republicans should be listening to the voters that sent them to Washington in the first place. Most of those voters expected an immediate Obamacare repeal, and now that it has not happened it is making for a very confusing tax season. The following comes from Politico…
Republicans’ stalled campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act is sowing confusion among those now trying to do their taxes.
Many taxpayers believe Republicans have already repealed the law, tax preparers say, and they’re surprised and upset to learn they are still subject to Obamacare’s penalty for failing to have health insurance — a charge that climbed this year to more than $2,000 per family.
It was one of the worst pieces of legislation ever written, and it boggles the mind that so many Republicans in Congress are hesitant about repealing it.
Unfortunately, just as I portray in my novel, America is rapidly going crazy.
We have been given over to a reprobate mind, and our leaders can’t even seem to think straight any longer.
If Obamacare is going to be repealed, now is the time. Please contact your representatives in Congress and tell them that a “fix” will not work and that we want Obamacare to be completely repealed and replaced with a free market alternative.
When the cost of living rises faster than paychecks do year after year, eventually that becomes a very big problem. For quite some time I have been writing about the shrinking middle class, and one of the biggest culprits is inflation. Every month, tens of millions of American families struggle to pay the bills, and most of them don’t even understand the economic forces that are putting so much pressure on them. The United States never had a persistent, ongoing problem with inflation until the debt-based Federal Reserve system was introduced in 1913. Since that time, we have had non-stop inflation and the U.S. dollar has lost more than 98 percent of its value. If our paychecks were increasing faster than inflation this wouldn’t be a problem, but in recent years this has definitely not been the case for most Americans.
And unfortunately inflation is starting to accelerate once again. In fact, it is being reported that inflation rose at the fastest pace in four years in January…
The prices Americans pay for goods and services surged in January by the largest amount in four years, mostly reflecting a rebound in the cost of gasoline that’s taking a bigger chunk out of household incomes.
Meanwhile, our incomes have been incredibly stagnant. In fact, we just learned that median household income did not go up at all during 2016.
This is one of the reasons why we consistently see families fall out of the middle class month after month. Even if you keep the same job year after year, your standard of living is going to steadily go down unless your pay goes up.
The things that we all spend money on month after month just keep going up in price. I am talking about food, housing, medical care and other essentials. If there is one thing that we can always count on, it is the fact that things are going to cost more tomorrow than they do today.
Let’s talk about food for a moment. Whenever I go to the grocery store, I am almost always shocked. I still remember a time when I could get everything that I needed for an entire week for about 20 bucks, but these days you can’t even fill up one cart for 100 dollars.
4. Shelf stable fish and seafood
-Price increase: 45.0%
5. Prescription drugs
-Price increase: 43.5%
6. Rice, pasta, cornmeal
-Price increase: 40.3%
-Price increase: 38.9%
-Price increase: 38.4%
9. Miscellaneous poultry including turkey
-Price increase: 37.0%
-Price increase: 36.6%
-Price increase: 35.8%
12. Canned vegetables
-Price increase: 35.3%
13. Salt and other seasonings and spices
-Price increase: 34.0%
14. Miscellaneous fats and oils including peanut butter
-Price increase: 34.0%
15. Miscellaneous processed fruits and vegetables including dried
-Price increase: 33.7%
16. Bacon and related products
-Price increase: 33.2%
17. Fresh whole chicken
-Price increase: 32.5%
18. Cakes, cupcakes, and cookies
-Price increase: 32.1%
19. Flour and prepared flour mixes
-Price increase: 32.1%
20. Canned fruits
-Price increase: 32.0%
And thanks to out of control government spending and reckless manipulation by the Federal Reserve, we have come to a time when inflation is starting to accelerate once again.
According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if honest numbers were being used the government would be telling us that inflation is rising at a 6 percent annual rate for the first time since 2011.
At the same time, evidence is mounting that U.S. consumers are simply tapped out. Previously, I have explained that interest rates are going up, consumer bankruptcies are rising, and lending standards for consumers are really tightening up.
All of those are things we would expect to see if a new recession was starting.
And today we learned that the number of Americans refinancing their homes has fallen to the lowest level that we have seen since 2009…
A slowdown in refinancing pulled down the total mortgage application volume last week as changes to certain government-loan programs made refinances less lucrative. Refinance volume now stands at its lowest level since June 2009.
If you will remember, we also saw a slowdown in mortgage refinancing just before the great financial crisis of 2008.
For mortgage applications overall, they are now down almost 31 percent from where they were a year ago…
Total mortgage application volume fell 3.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis last week from the previous week, and are nearly 31 percent lower than the same week a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
A 31 percent decline in a single year is catastrophic.
If this continues, it won’t be too long before everyone is talking about a new housing crash.
Federal Housing Administration mortgage delinquencies jumped in the fourth quarter for the first time since 2006, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. The FHA insures low down-payment loans and is a favorite among first-time homebuyers.
The seasonally adjusted FHA delinquency rate increased to 9.02 percent in the fourth quarter from 8.3 percent in the third quarter, MBA data show.
So many things are happening right now that we have not seen happen in many years, but most people are choosing not to see the red flags that are popping up all around us.
None of our long-term economic problems have been fixed. And even though Donald Trump won the election, the truth is that our economy is in the worst shape it has been since the last financial crisis. I continue to encourage all of my readers to get prepared for very hard times, but just like back in 2007 we are experiencing a wave of tremendous optimism right now and most people think that the party can somehow continue indefinitely.
Whether Donald Trump won the election or not, the truth is that a major economic downturn was going to come anyway. You see, Donald Trump is not some magician that can just wave a wand and somehow make the consequences of decades of very foolish decisions instantly disappear.
We have been on the biggest debt binge in human history, and there is going to be a great price to pay when this immense debt bubble finally bursts.
Unfortunately, most people are not going to acknowledge the truth until it is too late.
A new recession is coming, and Donald Trump needs it to begin sooner rather than later. As I explained last week, most American voters tend to care about their pocketbooks more than anything else. If the next recession were to officially start during the first quarter of 2017, it would be very easy for Trump to blame it on Obama, and then he could portray himself as the one that pulled the U.S. economy out of recession in time for the 2020 election. But if the next recession does not begin until 2018 or 2019, everybody is going to blame it on Trump even if it is not his fault. In politics, who gets the blame for whatever goes wrong is often the most important thing, and if Trump wants to avoid blame for the next recession he needs for it to start as quickly as possible.
For most of 2016, the mainstream media was warning that a new recession was probably coming no matter who won the election. For one example, just check out this Bloomberg article.
And for once, the mainstream media was precisely correct. Barack Obama left us with an enormous economic mess, and it would take an economic miracle of unprecedented proportions to keep the U.S. economy from going into a recession at this point.
During the Obama years, the U.S. went on a debt binge unlike anything we have ever seen before.
The U.S. national debt almost doubled. During Obama’s time in the White House, it increased from 10.6 trillion dollars to nearly 20 trillion dollars, and that means that over 9 trillion dollars of future consumption was brought into the present. That incredible boost to spending would have shot U.S. economic growth into the stratosphere during normal times, but because we were struggling so much all we got out of it was eight years of economic stagnation.
And remember, Obama also had the benefit of doctored economic numbers. John Williams of shadowstats.com tracks what the figures would look like if honest numbers were being used, and according to his calculations the U.S. economy has actually continually been in a recession since 2005.
In addition to government debt, other forms of debt are way out of control as well. The total amount of consumer debt in the United States has now hit 12 trillion dollars, and corporate debt has approximately doubled since the last recession.
When levels of debt grow much, much faster than the overall economy, it is inevitable that a crash will come.
If you look back throughout history, I don’t know if you can find a single example where debt has grown this quickly and a crash has not happened afterwards.
By some miracle if we are able to avoid a major economic downturn this time, we will literally be defying the laws of economics.
Tyler Moore’s late-December drive to Louisville, Ky., was one of desperation. He was headed four hours west on Interstate 64 to interview for a job. Even if he landed the position, filling his gas tank had left him with $8 to his name. He would have to sleep at a friend’s place until he could earn enough to pay rent.
The 23-year-old had run out of options. He’d applied for dozens of jobs within an hour and a half of his hometown of Lovely, once a coal-mining stronghold. Instead of opportunities, he had found waiting lists.
“Minimum-wage jobs, fast-food restaurants, Wal-Mart, anything like that, a lot of them has already been took,” he says in an Appalachian drawl, explaining that the backlog just to interview was as long as a year. “There are no jobs.”
If the U.S. economy is in “good shape”, then why can’t people like Moore find a job?
Yes, there is a tremendous amount of optimism in the financial markets right now and the stock market has been soaring.
But the exact same things were true in 2007, and we remember how that turned out.
There is no possible way that the S&P 500 can continue to generate an 18% annual return without corresponding economic growth. The following comes from David Stockman…
Altogether the S&P 500 now stands at 3.4X its post-crisis low, having generated an 18% annual return (including dividends) for nearly eight years running.
To be sure, in an honest free market that very fact would be a flashing red light, warning that exceptionally high gains over an extended period necessitate a regression to the mean in the period ahead.
A lot of people get caught up in trying to predict exactly when the stock market will crash, but what everybody should be able to agree on is that it will crash.
There is no possible way that stocks can stay at such ridiculously overpriced levels indefinitely.
Throughout history, stocks have always moved back in the direction of the long-term averages, and this time will be no exception.
And just like last time, the beginning of a new recession will likely be accompanied by a major financial correction.
In recent articles, I have been highlighting some of the reasons why it appears that a new recession is imminent…
All of this is not necessarily bad news for Trump.
A horrible recession started during the early years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, but the U.S. economy turned around later in his first term and that momentum helped propel him to an easy victory in 1984.
Similarly, Trump could actually take advantage of the coming economic downturn as long as he is able to pin all of the blame for it on the previous administration.
If there is one thing that is true about U.S. voters, it is the fact that they tend to care about their own economic well-being more than anything else.
The latest Fox News Poll also asks, what defines the American Dream today? At the top, according to the national survey released Wednesday, is “retiring comfortably.” Some 88 percent feel that is extremely or very important to realizing the dream.
Next, 76 percent say “having a successful career” is important. That’s followed by “raising a family” (74 percent) and “making a valuable contribution” to their community (74 percent).
“Owning a home” is seen as a big part of achieving the dream for nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent). About 6 in 10 say “graduating college” (61 percent) and “being better off” than their parents (57 percent).
To most Americans, being “successful in life” comes down to how much money they have.
That should not be true, but it is.
And this is ultimately what Trump will be judged on.
If the economy is improving by 2020, voters will tend to evaluate him favorably. But if the economy is faltering during the next election season, it will be more difficult for him to get a second term.
So what Trump and all those that support Trump should want is for the coming recession to begin and end as quickly as possible.
However, there is also the possibility that the next recession may be a particularly bad one. Because we are in the midst of the biggest debt bubble in human history, any major downturn could ultimately spiral completely out of control. In other words, we may be facing the kind of crisis from which we never quite recover.
…get prepared because we’re going to have the worst economic problems we’ve had in your lifetime or my lifetime and when that happens a lot of people are going to disappear.
In 2008 Bear Stearns disappeared, Bear Stearns had been around over 90 years. Lehman Brothers disappeared. Lehman Brothers had been around over 150 years. A long, long time, a long glorious history they’ve been through wars, depression, civil war they’ve been through everything and yet they disappear.
So the next time around it’s going to be worse than anything we’ve seen and a lot of institutions, people, companies even countries, certainly governments and maybe even countries are going to disappear. I hope you get very worried.
when you start having bear markets as you I’m sure well know one bad thing happens and another bad thing happens and these things snowball just like in bull markets good news comes out then more good news comes out the next thing you know you’re five or six or seven years into a bull market.
Well bear markets do the same thing and so we have a lot of bad news on the horizon. I haven’t even gotten to war. I haven’t even gotten to trade war or anything like that but you know things do go wrong.
If it is as bad as Rogers is suggesting, it wouldn’t be too long before conditions in America would begin to resemble those portrayed in my novel.
Let’s hope that does not turn out to be the case.
Let’s hope that the next recession begins and ends as quickly as possible and that the U.S. economy is on a solid upswing by 2020.
And if you are a Trump supporter, don’t be too dismayed if the U.S. economy takes a major downturn in 2017. As I discussed above, it could actually be just the thing that Trump needs to set the stage for another election victory in 2020.