Hard Working Americans Sure Do See The Economy A Lot Differently Than The “Experts” Do

Right now the entire nation is buzzing about the very first debates for Democratic presidential contenders in 2019, and much of the focus of those debates will be on the economy.  A total of 20 candidates will participate in those debates, and the vast majority of them don’t have a prayer of actually winning the nomination.  Of course all of them will have “plans” for “fixing” the economy, but the truth is that most of those plans really aren’t that radically different from what has been tried in the past.  No matter who has been in the White House, our insatiable appetite for debt has allowed us to enjoy a tremendously bloated standard of living that was far beyond what we actually deserved.  We have been consuming far more wealth than we have been producing for so long that most Americans have come to accept this state of affairs as “normal”.  And under no circumstance will Americans elect any presidential candidate that would suggest that we should be willing to accept a lower standard of living and quit going into so much debt.  Everyone wants to hear that we will be able to have an even higher standard of living in the future, and of course that is what a lot of our politicians eagerly tell them.

But it isn’t true.

Sadly, the reality of the matter is that we are at the very end of the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and the way we live is about to dramatically change no matter who we send to Washington.

As I discussed yesterday, the evidence that the U.S. economy has already entered a significant downturn continues to grow.  All of the economic numbers that we have been getting lately have been bad, and yet so many of the “experts” continue to claim that the U.S. economy is in great shape.

In fact, a survey that was just released had some rather starting results.  100 percent of the “experts” that were surveyed rated the performance of the U.S. economy as either “excellent” or “good”, but average hard working Americans were a lot more evenly split

A new survey from financial information website Bankrate.com found that everyday Americans have a less favorable view of the economy than experts do. All the experts rated the economy as being “excellent” or “good,” compared to just 59 percent of others. And 39 percent of everyday Americans said the economy was “not so good” or “poor.”

Bankrate surveyed around 1,000 people and nine economic experts for the study.

The survey also included a question about when the next recession would begin.  Approximately 40 percent of average hard working Americans felt that a recession had either already begun or would begin very soon, but none of the “experts” felt that way

Everyday Americans also said they expect a recession to hit sooner than the experts predict. A fifth of Americans polled said they believe the recession has already begun, and 21 percent said they expected it to begin within six months or a year. However, all the experts said they don’t expect a recession to begin for either one to two years or more than two years.

Perhaps we should stop calling them “experts”, because they appear to be completely and utterly clueless.

And we had better hope that the economy can hold up, because a different survey has found that 71 percent of all Americans say that they “are unprepared for another financial crisis”…

Meanwhile, 43% of Americans say they feel financially insecure and 71% are unprepared for another financial crisis, such as going bankrupt or losing their home, a survey of 24,070 adults released this week by market researcher YouGov found. Some 55% of those who feel unprepared say they’re not confident that they will be able to afford retirement; they’re more likely than those who feel financially secure to say the government should make sure everyone has health insurance.

Today, 59 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and U.S. consumer debt just soared to another brand new record high.  People are partying when they should be preparing, and this new economic downturn is going to catch most of us completely off guard.

And day after day we continue to get more numbers that are telling us that the economic outlook is very bleak.  For example, it is now being projected that U.S. auto sales will drop substantially over the next two years

The U.S. auto market hit a record for new cars, with 17.5 million in sales, in 2015. Sales the following year were flat then dipped to 17.2 million in 2017 and rebounded in 2018, rising to 17.3 million. But the first half of this year has plunged into negative territory. Edmunds anticipates sales for all of 2019 will drop to 16.9 million. That’s the same estimate from AlixPartners, which is forecasting a further dip to 16.3 million in 2020 and just 15.1 million in 2021.

Now we are in election season, and all sorts of different candidates will be touted as the one “that can turn the economy around” and restore “the promise of America’s future”.

Every election cycle they spout the same nonsense, and it is amazing that anyone still falls for it anymore.

Right now, America is on a highly self-destructive path that only leads to economic oblivion.  We are 22 trillion dollars in debt, we have been adding more than a trillion dollars a year to the national debt for more than a decade, state and local governments are drowning in record levels of debt, corporate debt has more than doubled since the last financial crisis, U.S. consumers are almost 14 trillion dollars in debt, and the world as a whole is now 244 trillion dollars in debt.

If we keep doing the same things over and over again, we are going to keep getting the same results.

Under our current system, there is no way that this game is going to end well for any of us.  The only thing left to do is to extend the party for as long as possible, and that is precisely what our politicians have been doing for a long time.

But at some point “extend and pretend” simply won’t work anymore, and a day of reckoning for America will finally arrive.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

The Pain Of This New Economic Downturn Is Starting To Show Up All Over The Country

It is going to take a miracle for the U.S. economy to pull out of this tailspin, because the economic numbers are really starting to deteriorate very rapidly now.  On Tuesday we got some more new numbers, and they were just as bad as we thought they might be.  But even before today’s numbers all of the data were telling us the exact same thing.  The New York Fed’s Empire State manufacturing index just suffered the worst one month decline in U.S. history, Morgan Stanley’s Business Conditions Index just suffered the largest one month decline that we have ever seen, global trade numbers are the worst they have been since the last recession, and just last week I detailed the complete and utter “bloodbath” that we are witnessing in the U.S. trucking industry right now.  So considering what we already knew, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that new home sales in the U.S. were down a whopping 7.8 percent during the month of May…

Sales of new U.S. homes slumped 7.8% in May, as sales plunged in the pricier Northeastern and Western markets.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 626,000 in May, down from 679,000 in April. During the first five months of the year, purchases of new homes have fallen 3.7% compared to the same period in 2018.

Those are absolutely horrible numbers, and this is precisely what a recession looks like.

On Tuesday we also learned that U.S. consumer confidence is rapidly declining

Consumer confidence is on the decline.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index tumbled to 121.5 in June, dropping from a downwardly revised reading of 131.3 in May and snapping three consecutive months of improvements.

June’s results missed consensus expectations for a reading of 131.0, according to Bloomberg-compiled data, and marked the lowest level in nearly two years.

Once again, this is precisely what we would expect to see during a recession.

And yet I continue to see some clueless mainstream media reports that insist that the U.S. economy is doing well.  Apparently FedEx didn’t get that memo, because they lost nearly 2 billion dollars in the quarter ending May 31st…

In the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended May 31, FedEx reported a loss of $1.97 billion, compared with profit of $1.13 billion a year earlier.

FedEx blamed this horrible number on the ongoing global economic slowdown, and unfortunately things are not likely to get any better for them any time soon.

Many in the mainstream media continue to speak of “the next recession” as some future event, but when we get the final economic numbers many months from now we may discover that it had already started by now.  In fact, one prominent economist recently stated that he believes that “we’re probably already in a recession”

Gary Shilling, an economist and financial analyst who is credited with predicting several recessions over the past 40 years, thinks the U.S. is in a relatively mild slump.

“I think we’re probably already in a recession but I think it will probably be a run-of-the-mill affair, which means real GDP would decline 1.5% to 2%, not the 3.5% to 4% you had in the very serious recessions,” Shilling, president of economic and financial research firm A. Shilling & Co., said in a recent interview broadcast this week by Real Vision.

And even Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is now admitting that our economic outlook has become “cloudier”.  The following comes from ABC News

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday the economic outlook has become cloudier since early May, with rising uncertainties over trade and global growth causing the central bank to reassess its next move on interest rates.

Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Powell said the Fed is now grappling with the question of whether those uncertainties will continue to weigh on the outlook and require action.

I find it very interesting that Powell chose the Council on Foreign Relations as the venue for this address.  I think that tells us a lot about where Powell’s true loyalties are.  The Council on Foreign Relations has dominated the political landscape in Washington for a long time, and this has been true no matter which political party has been in power.

Meanwhile, the global trade war continues to intensify, and over 300 companies are literally begging the Trump administration to find a way to end it

More than 300 companies are talking to government officials in Washington this month about how detrimental the trade war between the U.S. and China has been and will be to their business.

Testifying in front of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, major U.S. companies including Best Buy, HP and Hallmark Cards are voicing concerns about how the additional tariffs that President Donald Trump threatened to slap on China would impact their businesses and cause them to lose business to foreign competitors.

Sadly, it isn’t likely that the trade war will end any time soon.

In fact, it is probably much more likely that a shooting war will start in the Middle East instead.  And if that happens, our current economic problems will dramatically escalate.

The wheels are starting to come off, and the U.S. economy is beginning to spin out of control.  Perhaps the Federal Reserve will be able to pull another rabbit out of the hat and pull off a miracle once again, but I doubt it.  We haven’t seen conditions like this since the great financial crisis of 2008, and the remainder of 2019 threatens to be extremely “interesting” indeed.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

U.S. Steel Plants Are Going Idle, But The Fed Continues To Perpetuate The Myth That Everything Is Just Fine

Even though there is a tremendous amount of evidence to the contrary, the Federal Reserve continues to insist that the U.S. economy is in good shape.  On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told the nation that “the economy has performed relatively well” in 2019 and he insisted that “the baseline outlook is a good one.”  Of course he didn’t say anything about our collapsing manufacturing numbers, the worst global trade numbers since the last recession or the “bloodbath” in the U.S. trucking industry.  Powell did concede that “the risk of less favorable outcomes has risen”, but other than vague statements like that he really didn’t acknowledge our growing economic problems at all.  Considering the fact that Powell has more power over the U.S. economy than anyone else in the entire country, this should deeply concern all of us.  To me, Powell’s performance on Wednesday was quite reminiscent of the moment in 2008 when Fed Chair Ben Bernanke told us that the Federal Reserve was not “currently forecasting a recession” after a recession had already begun.

As I have been documenting for weeks, evidence that another major economic downturn has already started can be clearly seen all around us.

For example, we got some very alarming news from the steel industry on Wednesday.  When the Trump administration slapped a 25 percent tariff on steel imports last year, that was supposed to greatly help the U.S. steel industry.  But instead, a dramatic drop in demand due to this new economic downturn is forcing steel companies to take dramatic measures.  According to CNN, U.S. Steel just announced that it will be shutting down a blast furnace in Gary, Indiana and another one that is located just outside of Detroit…

Pain has returned to the US steel industry despite the tariffs put on imported steel last year that were designed to help.

Late Tuesday US Steel announced it will idle two of the blast furnaces where it makes steel, one in its flagship mill in Gary, Indiana, near Chicago, the other in Ecorse, Michigan, near Detroit. The idled furnaces will cut production by about 200,000 tons of steel or more a month, the company said.

“We will resume blast furnace production at one or both idled blast furnaces when market conditions improve,” said the company.

But when will market conditions improve?

In 2020?

After this new economic downturn is over?

Never?

Of course U.S. Steel is not the only steel producer that is hurting right now.  In fact, Nucor and Steel Dynamics have both cut profit forecasts

US Steel’s action follows similar warnings Monday from Nucor, the nation’s largest steelmaker, and Steel Dynamics. Both are now forecasting lower profits. Nucor pointed to weaker demand from the US auto industry.

Sadly, the truth is that major industry after major industry is deeply suffering at this moment…

-Our ongoing “retail apocalypse” is absolutely brutalizing the retail industry, and we are on pace to have the worst year for store closings in our entire history.

-Auto industry sales have been absolutely abysmal, and auto loan delinquencies have shot up to alarmingly high levels.

-The agriculture industry is going to have the worst year it has seen in at least several decades.

-Our 800 billion dollar trucking industry is already in the midst of a “bloodbath”.

-The real estate industry is poised for the worst downturn that we have seen since the subprime mortgage meltdown during the last financial crisis.

-The manufacturing industry has not seen numbers this bad since the last recession, and things are rapidly getting worse.

But yeah, let’s tell the American people that the economy is “booming” and see if they will buy it.

Really?

Let’s get real.  The U.S. economy is mired in the worst slump in a decade, and economic conditions continue to deteriorate rapidly.  The Federal Reserve could have given us a short-term boost by cutting interest rates on Wednesday, but they decided not to do that

A divided Federal Reserve held the line on interest rates Wednesday and indicated formally that no cuts are coming in 2019. The decision came amid divisions over what is ahead and still leaves open the possibility that policy loosening could happen before the end of the year depending on how conditions unfold.

The central bank predicts one or two rate cuts in its set of economic predictions, but not until 2020. Despite cautious wording in the post-meeting statement Wednesday, markets are still betting the Fed cuts, as soon as July.

Perhaps they want to save their very limited ammunition for when the recession officially starts, and I can understand that.

But this latest move by the Fed is definitely not going to please President Trump, and it will likely prompt more speculation that Trump would like to demote Powell

The action sets up a possible confrontation between Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and President Donald Trump, who has been pressuring the Fed to cut rates. Just Tuesday, Trump said “let’s see what he does” at the Fed meeting when asked if he still wants to demote Powell.

At the post-statement news conference, Powell was asked about his future as chairman. “I think the law is clear that I have a four year term, and I fully intend to serve it,” he said.

Trump needs the U.S. economy to be as strong as possible as he heads into an election year.

The stronger the U.S. economy is, the more likely it is that he will be re-elected.

And actually the Federal Reserve may be doing Trump a favor by trying to perpetuate the myth that everything is just fine.  Because if the Fed had cut rates on Wednesday, it would have essentially been an admission that a new recession is on our doorstep.  As John P. Hussman has aptly pointed out, almost every initial rate cut in history “has been associated with an oncoming or ongoing recession”…

With the exception of 1967 and 1996, every initial Fed rate cut has been associated with an oncoming or ongoing recession. Be careful what you wish for.

So for now, the Fed seems to have adopted a “fake it until you make it” approach, and sometimes that can work.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it is going to work this time.  And meanwhile millions upon millions of Americans have been lulled into a false sense of security, and they are not getting prepared for the exceedingly hard times that are coming.

One of my readers recently left a comment in which he stated that what we are facing “is not a drill”, and I believe that he is quite correct.

We haven’t seen economic conditions anything like this since the last recession, and the outlook is getting worse with each passing day.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

They Are Calling This A “Bloodbath” For The $800 Billion Trucking Industry As U.S. Economic Activity Dramatically Declines

The U.S. trucking industry has not experienced a downturn of this magnitude since the last financial crisis, and this is one of the clearest signs yet that the U.S. economy is steamrolling into a severe economic downturn.  When economic activity is increasing, the trucking industry sees rising demand for their services and freight rates tend to go up.  That is precisely what we witnessed in 2018, and truckers were hoping for more of the same in 2019.  But when economic activity is on the decline, the trucking industry sees decreasing demand for their services and freight rates tend to go down.  Unfortunately, the numbers that the U.S. trucking industry is reporting right now are absolutely abysmal.  Freight rates have now fallen for six months in a row on a year-over-year basis, and according to Business Insider during the month of May loads on the spot market fell “by a chilling 62.6%” compared to last year…

This year has been rocky for the $800 billion trucking industry.

After a raucous 2018, 2019 has seen retailers and manufacturers moving less, according to the Cass Freight Index. Freight rates have dipped year-over-year for six months straight. Loads on the spot market, in which retailers and manufacturers buy trucking capacity as they need it rather than through a contract, have fallen by a chilling 62.6% in May year-over-year.

The spot market is where we see the marginal changes in demand most clearly, and what this is telling us is that we are already in a transportation recession.

Of course that is almost certainly putting it too nicely.  According to one owner-operator, what we are witnessing right now is nothing short of a “bloodbath”

The earnings of big and small players alike are getting hit as factory activity continues to decline. The Lexington, Kentucky-based owner-operator Chad Boblett said some truck drivers are seeing a “bloodbath.”

There has been a spate of trucking companies declaring bankruptcy this year, too. The largest was New England Motor Freight, which was No. 19 in its trucking segment. Falcon Transport also shut down this year, abruptly laying off some 550 employees in April.

If demand does not start rebounding really soon, we are going to see many more trucking companies go bankrupt.

And of course it isn’t just trucking companies that are licking their wounds right now.  All modes of transportation are down compared to last year, and that is a clear indication that big trouble is ahead for the U.S. economy.  According to Wolf Richter, the Cass Freight Index just suffered it’s largest drop “since November 2009″…

Freight shipment volume in the US dropped 6.0% in May compared to May last year, the sixth month in a row of year-over-year declines, and the sharpest year-over-year drop since November 2009, according to the Cass Freight Index for Shipments.

The index tracks shipments of goods for consumer and industrial sectors across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge.

What a difference one year can make.

Last year at this time we were in the midst of a trucking boom, and as a result orders for heavy trucks surged to record highs

In late 2017 and through summer of 2018, freight rates had been driven up by a capacity crunch in the trucking industry, and a panic amid shippers – such as big retailers or industrial companies that need to get their merchandise across the country – that trucking companies won’t be able to keep up with demand.

To meet that demand, truckers went on a buying binge, ordering a record number of Class-8 trucks that now have entered service.

But now that the trucking boom has turned into a trucking bust, we are watching orders for heavy trucks absolutely collapse.

In fact, according to Zero Hedge the number of new orders for heavy trucks in May was down a whopping 70 percent compared to a year ago…

Preliminary North America Class 8 net order data from ACT Research shows that the industry booked just 10,800 units in May, down 27% sequentially, but also lower by an astonishing 70% year-over-year. YTD orders are down 64% compared to the first five months of 2018.

This would not be happening if we had a “booming” economy.

Last year, the Cass Freight Index was showing robust increases month after month because economic activity was definitely rising.

But now the Cass Freight Index has fallen on a year-over-year basis for six months in a row because U.S. economy activity is dropping.

As I noted yesterday, nobody should be attempting to claim that the U.S. economy is in good shape at this point.  All of the numbers are definitely pointing in the other direction.

So what does all of this mean for average U.S. consumers?

What it means is that we should all be getting ready to go through another brutal economic downturn.  I personally know some people that have already lost their jobs, and a lot more job losses are coming.  It doesn’t matter if you have worked your tail off for years and have been the most loyal employee in America.  When it comes time for heads to roll, it won’t be the corporate executives with the fat paychecks that are let go.

Someday soon you may be called into the manager’s office without any warning whatsoever and be escorted out of the building 15 minutes later.

That is literally how fast it can happen.

When things started to go bad in 2008, the economic dominoes began to fall very quickly.

We should probably expect a similar scenario this time around.

The “next economic downturn” is already here, and the months ahead promise to be quite “interesting” indeed.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Evidence That The U.S. Economy Could Be Plunging Into A Very Deep Recession Is Rapidly Mounting

Not since 2008 have we seen so much bad economic data come rolling in all at the same time.  Even without a war with Iran, which by the way is looking increasingly likely with each passing day, it definitely appears that the U.S. economy is steamrolling toward recession territory.  The employment numbers for last month were abysmal, global trade has collapsed to the lowest level that we have seen since the last recession, and manufacturing numbers just keep getting worse and worse.  In fact, the New York Fed’s Empire State manufacturing index just suffered the worst one month decline in history

The New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index took a sharp turn for the worse in June, falling into negative territory for the first time in more than two years.

The Empire State manufacturing index plummeted 26.4 points to negative 8.6 in June, the New York Fed said Monday. That’s a record decline. Economists had expected a reading of positive 10, according to a survey by Econoday.

Not even during the last recession did we witness a plunge of that magnitude.

And other measures of U.S. manufacturing activity are also “sinking steadily”

And it’s not the only indicator showing a turn for the worse: Others, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey, have also been sinking steadily.

When you step back and look at the big picture, it becomes quite clear what is happening.

At this point, it is simply not possible for anyone to credibly claim that the U.S. economy is still in good shape.  All of the numbers are pointing in the same direction, and Morgan Stanley’s chief US equity strategist Michael Wilson made this point exceedingly well on Monday

Decelerations and disappointments are mounting:

  • Cass Freight Index
  • Retailer earnings
  • Durable goods orders
  • Capital spending
  • PMIs
  • May payrolls
  • Semiconductor inventories
  • Oil demand
  • Restaurant performance indices…

and our own Morgan Stanley Business Conditions Index (MSBCI). Looking at the MSBCI in particular, the headline metric showed the biggest one-month drop in its history going back to 2002 and very close to its lowest absolute reading since December 2008.

This index has a tight relationship with ISM new orders and analyst earnings revisions breadth. Our analysis shows downside risk to ISM new orders (25% y/y), S&P earnings revisions breadth (6-13%) and the S&P 500 y/y (8%) if historical links hold.

For much more on the collapse of the MSBCI, please see my previous article entitled “Morgan Stanley’s Business Conditions Index Just Suffered The Biggest One Month Decline In History”.

Many analysts are pointing out that our economic problems really seemed to start accelerating once trade negotiations with China completely broke down, and this is true.

If the U.S. and China could find a way to reach a trade agreement, that would be a tremendous short-term boost to the economy at a time when we desperately need it.

But that isn’t going to happen unless President Trump completely caves in.  Because at this point the Chinese are extremely angry, and they are definitely in no mood to compromise.  In fact, one Chinese editorial that was recently published boldly declared that they are ready “to fight it out till the end”

“China will not be afraid of any threats or pressure the United States is making that may escalate economic and trade frictions. China has no choice, nor escape route, and will just have to fight it out till the end,” the Qiushi commentary said. “No one, no force should underestimate and belittle the steel will of the Chinese people and its strength and tenacity to fight a war.”

When Americans are deeply suffering during the next recession, will they be willing to “fight it out till the end” like the Chinese are?

And if a trade war with China wasn’t enough, now we also have a trade war with India to deal with.  In fact, India just hit U.S. exports with a wave of very large tariffs

India just increased tariffs on US exports, dealing another blow to fragile global trade.

The tariffs on several US products will go into effect on June 16, India’s Finance Ministry said in a statement Saturday. The goods targeted include American apples — which will be hit with a 70% tariff — as well as almonds, lentils and several chemical products.

Of course these tariffs were in retaliation for the tariffs that we hit India with after Trump kicked them out of a preferential trade program

The two countries exchange goods and services worth about $142 billion a year, but the relationship has soured in recent weeks after the Trump administration ended India’s participation in a preferential trade program earlier this month. The program exempted Indian goods worth more than $6 billion from US import duties in 2018.

We were certainly heading for a recession even without these trade conflicts, but without a doubt they have made things substantially worse.

And now is definitely not a good time for a recession, because much of the country is completely and utterly unprepared for any sort of an economic downturn.  The following comes from an opinion piece authored by William Spriggs

One oft-cited statistic points to just how unstable the finances of most Americans are: nearly 40 percent of households could not withstand an unexpected expenditure of $400 — the cost of just one medical bill or car repair.

The most unnerving point to keep in mind is that we are even less prepared for a sudden slowing of the economy than we were before the Great Recession of 2008.

During the relatively stable economic times of the past few years, Americans should have been preparing instead of partying.

But instead, most Americans bought into the myth that our massively bloated debt-fueled standard of living could be perpetuated indefinitely.

So now a crisis is coming which many believe is going to be even worse than what we experienced in 2008, and most of us are going to be completely blindsided by it.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Morgan Stanley’s Business Conditions Index Just Suffered The Biggest One Month Decline In History

We continue to get more indications that U.S. economic conditions are going to deteriorate rapidly during the second half of this year.  Yesterday, I reported on a brand new survey which found that 69 percent of U.S. CFOs believe that a recession is coming “by the end of 2020”, and today we learned that Morgan Stanley’s Business Conditions Index has fallen dramatically.  In fact, according to CNBC the sudden drop in the index was “the largest one-month decline on record”…

A reading of the economy from Morgan Stanley is signaling “June gloom.”

Morgan Stanley’s Business Conditions Index, which captures turning points in the economy, fell by 32 points in June, to a level of 13 from a level of 45 in May. This drop is the largest one-month decline on record and the lowest level since December 2008 during the financial crisis, according to the firm.

At this point, I really don’t see how anyone can possibly claim that the U.S. economy is doing well.  We also just learned that U.S. unemployment claims have now risen for three weeks in a row, and the trade war is clearly beginning to take an immense toll on the economy.

This week, Walmart, Costco and hundreds of other companies jointly sent President Trump a letter that essentially begged him to end this trade war with China.  The following comes from CNN

More than 600 companies and industry trade associations — including Walmart, Costco, Target, Gap, Levi Strauss and Foot Locker — wrote to the White House urging Trump to remove levies on China and end the ongoing trade war.

“We know firsthand that the additional tariffs will have a significant, negative, and long-term impact on American businesses, farmers, families, and the US economy,” the companies said in the letter. “An escalated trade war is not in the country’s best interest, and both sides will lose.”

Of course this is exactly what I have been telling my readers for a long time.

There aren’t going to be any winners in this trade war, and anyone that suggests that there will be is just being delusional.

If there had been a quick resolution to the trade war, large corporations could have perhaps swallowed the increased costs that they are facing.  But since it appears that this trade war will be with us for the foreseeable future, big companies are going to be forced to pass those costs on to consumers, and some top executives are openly admitting this

“At the end of the day, prices will go up on things,” Costco (COST) chief financial officer Richard Galanti told analysts last month. Dollar General (DG) Chief Financial Officer John Garratt also said the company’s low-income shopping base “will be facing higher prices as 2019 progresses.”

If prices go up but our paychecks stay the same, that means that our standard of living is going to go down.

And as I noted yesterday, it is being projected that U.S. corporate earnings will be way down in the second quarter, so the big corporations are definitely suffering as well.

Meanwhile, China is warning of substantial damage to their economy too, and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce just told the press that this trade war could lead to a global recession

Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Deng told a Beijing press conference on Thursday that “there will be no winner in the trade war, which could cause a recession in the United States and global economies.”

The ministry did not disclose US investment growth in China for the month of May alone, but the plunge seems to have coincided with the collapse of trade talks between Beijing and Washington.

Of course we were almost certainly heading toward a global recession anyway, but the trade war is definitely accelerating our problems.

At this point, global trade has already collapsed to levels not seen since the depths of the last recession.  Manufacturing numbers are plunging all over the world, and we just got some brand new numbers from the U.K. that are extremely alarming

Production output in the UK dropped by 2.7% in April from March, and GDP fell by 0.4% in just one month, according to the latest figures by the Office of National Statistics. The manufacturing sector provided the largest contribution to the downturn, with the manufacturing index plunging 3.9% in April, from March, its biggest monthly fall since June 2002.

June 2002 was 17 years ago.

Not even during the last recession did we witness a monthly decline of that magnitude.

The speed at which the global economy is now deteriorating is breathtaking, and the crisis that so many thought had passed us by could actually be right on the doorstep.

And of course most Americans are completely and utterly unprepared for any sort of an economic crisis.  Today, 59 percent of us are living paycheck to paycheck, and a survey that was just released discovered that the financial situation of most Americans has not improved since 2007

Bankrate surveyed 2,740 adults across the country. Of those surveyed, 2,315 were older than 18 when the recession started.

Among people who were adults before the recession hit, 33 percent said their financial situation is “about the same” as it was before 2007, while 23 percent said their situation is worse.

When you add those two numbers together, you get a total of 56 percent of all Americans that say that their financial situation is either “worse” or “about the same” as it was just before the last recession hit.

That isn’t good, and now another major downturn is here.

But of course most Americans assume that everything is going to be just fine.  For most of us, the pain of the last recession is a fading distant memory, and things have been relatively stable for an extended period of time.

So for the moment, most of the population is not too alarmed about what is coming.

Unfortunately, that will soon change in a major way.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

“The Skid Is Everywhere”, And We Just Received More Confirmation That The Worst Is Yet To Come

All over America, large portions of our major cities are being transformed into stomach-churning cesspools of squalor.  Thousands of tens cities are popping up from coast to coast as the homeless population explodes, even the New York Times admits that we are facing “the worst drug crisis in American history”, there were more than 28,000 official complaints about human feces in the streets of San Francisco last year alone, and millions of rats are currently overrunning the city of Los Angeles.  And yet the authorities continue to insist that the economy is in good shape and that everything is going to be just fine.

Perhaps everything may seem “just fine” if you live in a heavily sanitized wealthy suburban neighborhood and you only get your news from heavily sanitized corporate media sources, but in the real world things are getting really bad.

The other day, LZ Granderson authored an editorial in which he described what life is like in Los Angeles right at this moment…

LA spent nearly $620 million in tax dollars last year to address the issue, and yet the number of homeless people increased by 16%, reaching nearly 60,000 people.

As a Los Angeles resident, I am among those who wonder what the mayor’s office is doing. When I lived downtown it was virtually impossible to walk a full block in any direction without seeing a homeless person. In Silver Lake where I live now, there are tent cities. On my drive to work I see people living underneath the highway overpasses. It’s no longer Skid Row here. The skid is everywhere.

Of course that phrase, “the skid is everywhere”, could also apply to San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Memphis, Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia and countless other U.S. cities.

But without a doubt, L.A. is particularly disgusting at this point.  In fact, last weekend a columnist for the Los Angeles Times admitted that “Los Angeles has become a giant trash receptacle”

A swath of Los Angeles has devolved into a wasteland with rats scurrying among piles of decaying garbage and squalid tent cities, according to a series of stomach-churning photos that the Los Angeles Times says depict the “collapse of a city that’s lost control.”

“The city of Los Angeles has become a giant trash receptacle,” columnist Steve Lopez complained on Sunday.

We are seeing this happen at a time when we are being told that the U.S. economy is still relatively stable.

And I will concede that point.  Right now, the U.S. economy is a whole lot more stable than it will be in the months ahead.

So if things are this bad already in our major cities, what are those cities going to look like once we get deep into the next economic downturn?

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that 75,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in May.  That number is consistent with the extremely disappointing figure that ADP reported a few days earlier, and it is well below the number of jobs that we need just to keep up with population growth each month.

Prior to this latest report, there were already more working age Americans without a job than at any point during the last recession, and now things just got even worse.

But the government conveniently categorizes the vast majority of working age Americans without a job as “not in the labor force”, and so officially the unemployment rate is “very low” right now.

What a joke.

The truth is that the middle class has been steadily shrinking for an extended period of time, and all of the numbers that have been rolling in seem to indicate that an economic slowdown has begun.

For instance, when economic activity is expanding demand for key industrial resources such as copper, zinc and lumber increases and prices tend to go up.

But when economic activity is contracting, demand for those key industrial resources diminishes and prices tend to go down.

And right now we are seeing prices for copper, zinc and lumber decline precipitiously

Copper prices have fallen 6% in just the past month while zinc is down 8.5%. Copper and zinc are big components for many industrial and technology companies. People pay so much attention to copper as a barometer that traders jokingly call it Dr. Copper, as if it has a PhD in economics.

Lumber prices are falling as well, plunging about 10% in the past month. That could be viewed as a sign that the housing market — particularly new home construction — is weakening.

If you were looking for some exceedingly clear indications of where the U.S. economy is heading in the near future, you just got them.

But most Americans will continue to live in denial until the very end.  And even though 59 percent of the population is living paycheck to paycheck, people continue to rack up debt as if there was no tomorrow.

In fact, we just learned that the average size of a new vehicle loan in the U.S. just hit a brand new record high

People buying a new vehicle are borrowing more and paying more each month for their auto loan.

Experian, which tracks millions of auto loans each month, said the average amount borrowed to buy a new vehicle hit a record $32,187 in the first quarter. The average used-vehicle loan also hit a record, $20,137.

People ask me all the time about how they can prepare for the next economic downturn, and one of the key pieces of advice that I always give is to not take on more debt.

Right now everyone should be building up their financial cushions, because what is coming is not a joke.

Unfortunately, most Americans are still completely in denial about what is happening, and they will find themselves ill-prepared to handle the very harsh economic environment that is ahead.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

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