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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you ever been there?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Panic-like selling” grips Wall Street as the economic numbers point to “a lot of unpleasant things that nobody wants to admit”

Fear is spreading like wildfire on Wall Street, and on Friday we witnessed yet another wave of panic selling.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell another 559 points, closing at 24,389.  Previously I had warned that once we solidly broke through 25,000 that it could trigger an avalanche of panic selling, and that is precisely what has happened.  The Dow is now down more than 9 percent from the peak in early October, but the S&P 500 is doing even worse.  The S&P 500 is now down 10.2 percent from the September peak, and that means that it is officially in correction territory.  It has now been two solid months, and the sell-off on Wall Street shows no signs of abating.

And for certain sectors, the carnage that has been unfolding can definitely be called a “crash”.

FANG stocks are now down 24 percent from the peak, and global systemically important banks have now fallen a whopping 33 percent from the 52-week high.

Ladies and gentlemen, the big banks are officially in trouble once again, and it is going to be a wild ride moving forward.

And the way that things wrapped up for the markets on Friday has many wondering what Monday will bring.  According to one key index, investors were dumping stocks so rapidly on the Nasdaq on Friday afternoon that it was officially considered to be “panic-like activity”

Selling on the Nasdaq reached panic-like proportions Friday afternoon with less than an hour left in regular trade, as the exchange’s Arms index rose. The Arms is a volume weighted breadth measure, that tends to rise when the broader market falls, as the intensity of the selling in declining stocks is usually greater than the intensity of buying in rising stocks. Levels above 2.000 are considered panic-like activity. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -3.05% was off 3% at 6,969. The number of advancing stocks compared against decliners was at 2,108 to 787, pushing the Arms index on the exchange to 2.068.

Thanks to Friday’s nightmare, this week ended up being the worst week for U.S. stocks since March.

This wasn’t supposed to happen in December.  According to the experts, we were due for a nice “Santa Claus rally” and everybody was supposed to go home for the holidays really happy.

But that hasn’t happened.  Instead, the markets are coming apart like a 20 dollar suit.

And guess who CNN is blaming for the stock market decline?

I’ll give you just one guess, and his name rhymes with “Gump”.  The following comes from CNN

From “Tariff Man” tweets and inverting yield curves to conflicting messages from Trump advisers and the arrest of a Chinese executive, there is no shortage of headlines keeping investors awake at night.

They don’t want to admit that the same thing would be happening if Hillary Clinton was in the White House.

This isn’t about politics.  This is about a financial system that has always been destined to collapse.

Meanwhile, the stunning implosion of the cryptocurrency bubble continues to accelerate.  At this point, the price of Bitcoin has now fallen more than 80 percent from where it was a year ago…

In December 2017, bitcoin prices hit a record high of just under $20,000. Flash forward to December 2018 and bitcoin is now trading a little below $3,400. That’s a more than 80% plunge. Bitcoin is at a 15-month low.

But prices have really gotten whacked this week, falling nearly 20% in just the past five days alone.

Other major cryptos such as Ripple, Ethereum and Litcoin have experienced similar crashes.

Yes, this is really happening.  Bubble after bubble is bursting, and a day of reckoning for the global financial system is here.

Things are unfolding just as myself and so many others have been warning.  Over the past couple of years, there has been a bubble of false hope even though none of the problems that caused the last financial crisis were ever fixed.  Instead, the Federal Reserve and other global central banks simply patched things together and inflated the bubbles to a much larger degree than we had ever seen before.

Now everything is unraveling, and many of the “experts” are still in denial.  I really like how Peter Schiff made this point during a recent interview…

“What has happened in the last week is very, very bullish for the price of gold, and the price of gold is not catching much of a bid. I think again, the main reason for this is because nobody gets it. People still think this is a bull market. They’re not worried about the decline. They think it’s just a buying opportunity. It’s just a correction. They still think the economy is good. Even though the bond market doesn’t, even though the yield curve is inverting in the front end of the curve, people are dismissing that. They’re dismissing the housing data; they’re dismissing the build in the crude inventories. They’re not looking at any of the real data because nobody wants to believe it. Everybody still wants to believe all the hype — that this economy is great, that this economy is booming. Nobody wants to deal with the truth; because you know how grim the reality is? Because if you have to accept the fact that this economy is going into recession, then you have to accept a lot of unpleasant things that nobody wants to admit.

As always, Peter Schiff is making a lot of sense.

If you follow my work on a regular basis, than you already know that I have been highlighting the gloomy economic numbers as they have been steadily rolling out.

All of the numbers tell us that economic activity is slowing down.

All of the numbers tell us that we are heading into a recession (if we are not already in one).

And all of the numbers tell us that another great financial crisis is now upon us.

The time for false hope is over.  Now is a time to come to grips with reality, because things are going to get very tough in the months ahead.

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

The Psychological Bubble That Has Been Propping Up The U.S. Economy Is Starting To Implode

Optimism can be a very powerful thing.  For a long time Americans believed that things would get better, and that caused them to take action to make things better, and that actually resulted in things moving in a positive direction.  But now things have abruptly shifted.  In late 2018, an increasing number of Americans believe that an economic downturn is coming, and they are taking actions consistent with that belief.  As a result, they are actually helping to produce the result that they fear.  And without a doubt, any rational person should be able to see that signs that the U.S. economy is slowing down are all around us.  So it isn’t as if those that are preparing for the worst are being irrational.  It is just that when large numbers of people all start to move in the same direction, it has a very powerful effect.  We witnessed this in the stock market in recent years when people just kept buying stocks even though they were massively overvalued.  The collective belief that there was money to be made in the stock market became a self-fulfilling prophecy which pushed stock prices up to absurd heights.  But now that process is beginning to reverse as well, and ultimately the unwinding of that bubble will be quite painful.

Over the past couple of years the dominant economic narrative that the mainstream media was pushing was that the U.S. economy was “booming”, and this encouraged businesses to expand and consumers to go out and spend money.

But now the dominant economic narrative has changed, and businesses are starting to take actions that are consistent with the new narrative.  In the retail industry, if executives truly believed we would see an economic boom in the years ahead they would be expanding, but instead stores are being closed at a record pace

Mall and shopping center owners across the U.S. are preparing to be hit by more store closures, following a brutal year that included department store chains like Bon-Ton and Sears going bankrupt, Toys R Us liquidating and even Walmart shutting dozens of its club stores.

Now, a slew of specialty retailers like Gap and L Brands are getting serious about downsizing, which will leave more vacant storefronts within malls until landlords are able to replace tenants.

As a result of these store closings, large numbers of workers will be without jobs, vendors will not be receiving orders and mall owners will be without tenants.

In other words, economic activity will slow down.

Another sector where there has been a major psychological shift is in the real estate industry.  Home prices have been falling all over the nation, and this includes markets that were once extremely hot such as San Francisco

In San Francisco, the number of homes with a price cut in October nearly doubled, to 238 from 124 last October, according to data from Realtor.com.

That’s nothing compared to Santa Clara County, where the number of price cuts rose to 818 last month, more than six times last year’s number. Santa Clara County had been one of the nation’s hottest markets this year, and the Bay Area’s price appreciation leader until September.

“Clearly, there is a market shift,” said Rich Bennett, a Zephyr agent in San Francisco.

If homeowners believed that this dip was just temporary and that home prices would start surging again next year as the U.S. economy thrives, it would be quite foolish of them to slash their prices like this.

In some cases, home prices are being reduced by hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Why throw all of that money away if the market is going to bounce back shortly?

Over in the auto industry, there has also been a noticeable psychological shift.

If the U.S. economy was going to be doing extremely well in the years ahead, the major automakers should all be gearing up for record sales.

But instead, General Motors just shut a bunch of factories and laid off 14,000 workers, and Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas is projecting that Ford will soon be laying off large numbers of employees

“We estimate a large portion of Ford’s restructuring actions will be focused on Ford Europe, a business we currently value at negative $7 billion,” Jonas wrote. “But we also expect a significant restructuring effort in North America, involving significant numbers of both salaried and hourly UAW and CAW workers.”

Ford’s 70,000 salaried employees have been told they face unspecified job losses by the middle of next year as the automaker works through an “organizational redesign” aimed at creating a white-collar workforce “designed for speed,” according to Karen Hampton, a spokeswoman.

“These actions will come largely outside of North America,” Hampton said of Ford’s restructuring. “All of this work is ongoing and publishing a job-reduction figure at this point would be pure speculation.”

Shifting gears, let’s talk about agriculture.

If farmers believed that the trade war was just temporary and that things would soon swing back in their favor, many of them would keep trying to hold on for as long as they possibly could.

But instead, farm bankruptcies are absolutely surging

A total of 84 farms in the upper Midwest filed for bankruptcy between July 2017 and June 2018, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That’s more than double the number of Chapter 12 filings during the same period in 2013 and 2014 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, reported Vox.

Farms that produce corn, soybeans, milk, and beef were all suffering due to low global demand and low prices before the trade war, according to economists, but president Trump’s trade war is making the problem even worse by exacerbating the weaknesses in the American economy. China has retaliated against the tariffs by slapping billions of dollars worth of tariffs on United States agriculture exports in response to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. Other countries, including Canada, have also added duties to US agriculture products in response to Trump’s tariffs on all imported steel and aluminum.

Most Americans want to have hope, but when they look at our economic situation all they see is a very bleak future.

And in some parts of the nation, there still hasn’t been any sort of a “recovery” from the last recession.  For example, a recent Bloomberg article took a hard look at what conditions are currently like in eastern Kentucky…

Tiffany Hensley’s drive home takes her through some picturesque scenery, and an ugly economy.

“The first thing you see when you get down here is beauty,” says Hensley, midway through her shift at a diner in the rolling hills of eastern Kentucky. “But then you get to looking around. It’s real rough.’’

Of course eastern Kentucky is far from alone.  Yes, coastal cities such as San Francisco and New York have prospered in recent years, but rural communities all across America have been deeply suffering.

And now economic conditions are deteriorating once again nationally, and things are about to get a whole lot tougher for everyone.

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

3 Things That Happened Just Before The Crisis Of 2008 That Are Happening Again Right Now

Real estate, oil and the employment numbers are all telling us the same thing, and that is really bad news for the U.S. economy.  It really does appear that economic activity is starting to slow down significantly, but just like in 2008 those that are running things don’t want to admit the reality of what we are facing.  Back then, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke insisted that the U.S. economy was not heading into a recession, and we later learned that a recession had already begun when he made that statement.  And as you will see at the end of this article, current Fed Chair Jerome Powell says that he is “very happy” with how the U.S. economy is performing, but he shouldn’t be so thrilled.  Signs of trouble are everywhere, and we just got several more pieces of troubling news.

Thanks to aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, the average rate on a 30 year mortgage is now up to about 4.8 percent.  Just like in 2008, that is killing the housing market and it has us on the precipice of another real estate meltdown.

And some of the markets that were once the hottest in the entire country are leading the way down.  For example, just check out what is happening in Manhattan

In the third quarter, the median price for a one-bedroom Manhattan home was $815,000, down 4% from the same period in 2017. The volume of sales fell 12.7%.

Of course things are even worse at the high end of the market.  Some Manhattan townhouses are selling for millions of dollars less than what they were originally listed for.

Sadly, Manhattan is far from alone.  Pending home sales are down all over the nation.  In October, U.S. pending home sales were down 4.6 percent on a year over year basis, and that was the tenth month in a row that we have seen a decline…

Hope was high for a rebound (after new-home-sales slumped), but that was dashed as pending home sales plunged 2.6% MoM in October (well below the expected 0.5% MoM bounce).

Additionally, Pending Home Sales fell 4.6% YoY – the 10th consecutive month of annual declines…

When something happens for 10 months in a row, I think that you can safely say that a trend has started.

Sales of new homes continue to plummet as well.  In fact, we just witnessed a 12 percent year over year decline for sales of new single family houses last month

Sales of new single-family houses plunged 12% in October, compared to a year ago, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000 houses, according to estimates by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

With an inventory of new houses for sale at 336,000 (seasonally adjusted), the supply at the current rate of sales spiked to 7.4 months, from 6.5 months’ supply in September, and from 5.6 months’ supply a year ago.

If all of this sounds eerily similar to 2008, that is because it is eerily similar to what happened just before and during the last financial crisis.

Up until now, at least the economic optimists could point to the employment numbers as a reason for hope, but not anymore.

In fact, initial claims for unemployment benefits have now risen for three weeks in a row

The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits increased to a six-month high last week, which could raise concerns that the labor market could be slowing.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ended Nov. 24, the highest level since the mid-May, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims have now risen for three straight weeks.

This is also similar to what we witnessed back in 2008.  Jobless claims started to creep up, and then when the crisis fully erupted there was an avalanche of job losses.

And just like 10 years ago, we are starting to see a lot of big corporations start to announce major layoffs.

General Motors greatly upset President Trump when they announced that they were cutting 14,000 jobs just before the holidays, but GM is far from alone.  For a list of some of the large firms that have just announced layoffs, please see my previous article entitled “U.S. Job Losses Accelerate: Here Are 10 Big Companies That Are Cutting Jobs Or Laying Off Workers”.

A third parallel to 2008 is what is happening to the price of oil.

In 2008, the price of oil shot up to a record high before falling precipitously.

Well, now a similar thing has happened.  Earlier this year the price of oil shot up to $76 a barrel, but this week it slid beneath the all-important $50 barrier

Oil’s recent slide has shaved more than a third off its price. Crude fell more than 1% Thursday to as low as $49.41 a barrel. The last time oil closed below $50 was in October 4, 2017. By mid morning the price had climbed back to above $51.

Concerns about oversupply have sent oil prices into a virtual freefall: Crude hit a four-year high above $76 a barrel less than two months ago.

When economists are asked why the price of oil is falling, the primary answer they give is because global economic activity is softening.

And that is definitely the case.  In fact, we just learned that economic confidence in the eurozone has declined for the 11th month in a row

Euro-area economic confidence slipped for an 11th straight month, further damping expectations that the currency bloc will rebound from a sharp growth slowdown and complicating the European Central Bank’s plans to pare back stimulus.

In addition, we just got news that the Swiss and Swedish economies had negative growth in the third quarter.

The economic news is bad across the board, and it appears to be undeniable that a global economic downturn has begun.

But current Fed Chair Jerome Powell insists that he is “very happy about the state of the economy”

Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve’s chairman, has also taken an optimistic line, declaring in Texas recently that he was “very happy about the state of the economy.”

That is just great.  He can be as happy as he wants, and he can continue raising interest rates as he sticks his head in the sand, but nothing is going to change economic reality.

Every single Fed rate hiking cycle in history has ended in a market crash and/or a recession, and this time won’t be any different.

The Federal Reserve created the “boom” that we witnessed in recent years, but we must also hold them responsible for the “bust” that is about to happen.

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

Now Even Paul Krugman Of The New York Times Is Admitting That The Next Crisis Will Likely Be Worse Than 2008

There is a growing consensus that once the next economic crash finally arrives that it will be significantly worse than what we experienced in 2008.  This is something that I have been saying for a very long time, but now even mainstream economists such as Paul Krugman of the New York Times are admitting the reality of what we are facing.  And without a doubt, the stage is set for a historic collapse.  We are living at a time when everything is in a bubble – the current housing bubble is much larger than the one that collapsed in 2008, student loan debt has now surpassed the 1.5 trillion dollar mark, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, U.S. consumers are 13 trillion dollars in debt and the federal government is nearly 22 trillion dollars in debt.  And even though stock prices have fallen dramatically in recent weeks, the truth is that stocks are still wildly overpriced.  What goes up must eventually come down, and Paul Krugman insists that we “are poorly prepared to deal with the next shock” and that “there’s good reason to think it will be worse”

We are poorly prepared to deal with the next shock,” Krugman said. “Interest rates are still close to zero in the US and in most of the rest of the advanced world. The fiscal policy we did was badly handled in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, and there’s no particular reason to think it will be better. In fact, there’s good reason to think it will be worse.”

Hmmm.

Where have I heard talk like that before?

You know that it is very late in the game when even Paul Krugman can see what is coming.

Meanwhile, a stunning new study that was just released came to the conclusion that the globe is heading for “a massive worldwide financial meltdown” that will be unlike anything that we have ever experienced before…

Previous crashes will appear as “minor stumbling blocks” in comparison to what nuclear scientists are predicting as a massive worldwide financial meltdown “such as never before” in the mid-2020s. Analysts from the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków are forecasting the future of the global economy as “extremely bleak” as “nervousness of the world market is growing all the time”. The academics’ “catastrophic” predictions come from “multi-fractal” analysis of financial markets published in the journal Complexity. The researchers looked at various economic measures, including Standard & Poor’s 500 index – the largest global stock market index including the largest 500 firms, largely of a worldwide nature – from January 1950 to December 2016.

Wow.

It seems like everyone is in a gloomy mood lately.  Just take a look at the latest GDP forecasts.  Virtually everyone is predicting that U.S. economic growth will be way down this quarter compared to the third quarter.

And we continue to get confirmation after confirmation that economic activity is definitely slowing down.

For example, Apple just reduced factory orders for their new iPhones a second time

Demand for Apple’s latest iPhones may be worse than previously thought.

The tech giant has reportedly issued a second cutback on iPhone orders as a result of weaker-than-expected demand for the high-end devices, according to Taiwan-based news site Digitimes.

It follows earlier reports of production cuts for the iPhone XR and XS.

In addition, housing numbers from all over the nation are deeply troubling.  Just check out what has been happening in Seattle

House prices in the Seattle metro dropped 1.3% in September from prior month, after having dropped 1.6% in August, and 0.5% in July, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Over those three months, the index dropped 3.5%, the sharpest such decline since December 2011, during Housing Bust 1. So home prices are beginning to unwind a historic spike. The index is now below where it had been in April. This confirms that the inflection point — when the direction changes — was in July and that conditions have deteriorated since.

For more key indicators such as this, please see my previous article entitled “11 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Starting To Slow Down Dramatically”.

Yes, things are rapidly getting worse for the economy, but did General Motors really have to announce job cuts just before the holidays?  According to the Daily Mail, some workers were seen wiping away tears when the layoffs were announced…

Heart-wrenching photos show General Motors workers wiping tears away after the company laid more than 14,000 people off without warning and just before the holidays.

In a massive restructuring, the auto giant announced Monday that it will cut 15 percent of its workforce to save $6 billion and adapt to ‘changing market conditions’.

‘You’re going right into Christmas. You’re looking for celebration and that’s not there now,’ one GM worker told Today.

If the U.S. economy really was in good shape, this wouldn’t be happening.

For the last few years, America has experienced a time of relative economic stability, and many have been fooled into believing that this time of relative economic stability will last for a very long time.

But the truth is that all of the numbers are telling us that things have now shifted.  For instance, Mike Maloney believes that a decline in corporate tax receipts strongly indicates that another recession is imminent

You might think that tax revenues would fall after a recession starts – but what the data show is that tax revenue in most cases has fallen before a recession.

As Mike shows, in 14 of the last 17 times that corporate tax receipts have begun to roll over and decline, a recession started not long after. In other words…

A drop in corporate tax receipts has frequently predicted a recession.

And guess what? Corporate tax revenue has started to fall.

Unfortunately, it appears that we are even less prepared for the next recession than we were for the last one.

For some reason we are never able to learn important lessons from what has happened in the past, and now even Paul Krugman is convinced that the next recession will be exceedingly painful indeed.

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

General Motors And General Electric Were Both Victimized By The Same Ponzi Scheme, And They Are Both Telling Us The U.S. Economy Is In HUGE Trouble

America’s twin economic “generals” are both in very deep trouble.  General Electric was founded in 1892, and it was once one of the most powerful corporations on the entire planet.  But now it is drowning in so much debt that it may be forced into bankruptcy.  General Motors was founded in 1908, and at one time it was the largest automaker that the world had ever seen.  But now it is closing a bunch of factories and laying off approximately 14,000 workers as it anticipates disappointing sales and a slowing economy.  If the U.S. economy really was “booming”, both of these companies would probably be thriving.  But as you will see below, both of them have been victimized by the exact same Ponzi scheme, and both firms are sending us very clear signals that the U.S. economy is heading for troubled waters.

Whenever you hear the word “restructuring”, that is always a sign that things are not going well for a company.

And it turns out that GM’s “restructuring” is actually going to cost the firm 3.8 billion dollars

General Motors said Monday it plans to effectively halt production at a number of plants in the U.S. and Canada next year and cut more than 14,000 jobs in a massive restructuring that will cost up to $3.8 billion.

Of course GM doesn’t have 3.8 billion dollars just lying around, and so they are actually going to have to borrow money in order to close these plants and lay off these workers.

Needless to say, President Trump is not very happy with General Motors right now…

Trump said he spoke Monday with GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, and ‘I told them, “you’re playing around with the wrong person”.’

He told reporters as he left the White House for a pair of political rallies in Mississippi that the United States ‘has done a lot for General Motors. They better get back to Ohio, and soon.’

There is no way that Mary Barra should have ever been made CEO of General Motors, and now the entire world is getting to see why.

In addition to the elimination of about 6,000 factory jobs, GM will also be cutting about 8,000 “white collar jobs”

In addition to the production cuts, GM said it will reduce its North American white-collar workforce by about 8,000. The deadline passed last week on a voluntary buyout for those workers, and GM spokesman Pat Morrissey told the Free Press that only 2,250 employees have asked to take the offer, meaning as many as 5,750 workers could be cut if the company keeps to its announced total. Analysts told the Free Press to expect involuntary cuts in January.

So why is General Motors doing this?

After all, if the U.S. economy really is “booming” that should mean increased sales for all of the major automakers in the coming years, right?

Unfortunately, the truth is that hard times are already here for automakers.  In fact, Bob Lutz told CNBC that “we’ve got a demand problem on cars”…

Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the automaker historically would have raised sales incentives to try to sell more cars before resorting to plant closures.

“Nowadays GM looks at the hard reality, says we’ve got a demand problem on cars, what are we going to do about it. We have to shut some facilities and move production to truck plants,” Lutz said on CNBC’s “Halftime Report. ” “So I think what we are seeing is a fast-acting and reality-oriented GM management.”

In other words, sales are not good and so now is the time to shut down factories.

Of course GM is not the only one that is shutting down facilities and laying off workers.  If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “U.S. Job Losses Accelerate: Here Are 10 Big Companies That Are Cutting Jobs Or Laying Off Workers”.

But if General Motors had been much wiser with their money, they wouldn’t have had to initiate a “restructuring” so quickly.

Over the past four years, General Motors spent a staggering 13.9 billion dollars on stock buybacks.

GM executives were able to prop up the stock price for a while, but at this point the stock is down about 10 percent from where it was four years ago.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

During this four-year period in which GM blew, wasted, and annihilated nearly $14 billion on share buybacks, the price of its shares, including today’s 5.5% surge – getting rid of workers is always good news for shares – fell 10%.

These stock buybacks are a massive Ponzi scheme, and everyone that was involved in blowing such a giant mountain of cash at GM should be fired.

And now thousands of hard working Americans are going to lose their jobs, but it didn’t have to happen.

General Electric has also been victimized by the exact same Ponzi scheme, and at this point they are in a struggle for survival which they are probably going to lose.

On Monday the stock slid another couple of percent, and so far this year it is down a total of 58 percent

Not a day passes lately without GE stock getting hit by some unexpected development, and today was no exception.

GE shares, which are down 58% YTD, dropped over 2% on Monday, after sliding as much as 4.1% earlier in the session and approaching its financial crisis low of $6.66, following a research report by Gordon Haskett analyst John Inch which prompted fresh questions about the treatment of goodwill at GE Capital.

In the end, GE is probably heading for total collapse.

But if GE had not blown 40 billion dollars on stock buybacks in recent years, they would be in far, far better shape.  The following comes from the Marketwatch article that I quoted the other day…

GE was one of Wall Street’s major share buyback operators between 2015 and 2017; it repurchased $40 billion of shares at prices between $20 and $32. The share price is now $8.60, so the company has liquidated between $23 billion and $29 billion of its shareholders’ money on this utterly futile activity alone. Since the highest net income recorded by the company during those years was $8.8 billion in 2016, with 2015 and 2017 recording a loss, it has managed to lose more on its share repurchases during those three years than it made in operations, by a substantial margin.

Even more important, GE has now left itself with minus $48 billion in tangible net worth at Sept. 30, with actual genuine tangible debt of close to $100 billion. As the new CEO Larry Culp told CNBC last Monday: “We have no higher priority right now than bringing those leverage levels down.”

Combined, General Electric and General Motors have blown more than 53 billion dollars on stock buybacks, and now both companies are in huge trouble.

The executives that gutted the finances of both firms by engaging in these sorts of Ponzi tactics should all be fired and should never be hired by anyone else in the corporate world.

For years, big corporations have been borrowing massive amounts of money to fund reckless stock buybacks, and that has helped to fuel an amazing bull market run.

But now the game is imploding, and the unraveling of this massive Ponzi scheme is not going to be pretty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, this has resulted in a catastrophic loss.

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

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

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

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

I am truly sorry this has happened.

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

Regards,

OptionSellers.com

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

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

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

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

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