“Biggest Drop In More Than Nine Years”: America’s Retail Apocalypse Is Greatly Accelerating In The Early Stages Of 2019

All over America retailers are going bankrupt and closing stores.  Of course this has been happening for years, but as you will see below the numbers have dramatically escalated during the early portion of 2019.  Our landscape is already littered with countless numbers of hollowed out stores and abandoned malls, and it is about to get a whole lot worse.  Retailers were hoping that a strong holiday season would turn things around, but that didn’t happen.  In fact, we just learned that retail sales in the United States suffered “their biggest drop in more than nine years” during the month of December…

U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than nine years in December as receipts fell across the board, suggesting a sharp slowdown in economic activity at the end of 2018.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales tumbled 1.2 percent, the largest decline since September 2009 when the economy was emerging from recession.

Every time I write an article like this, a few commenters chime in and blame this entire trend on the rise of online retailing.  And without a doubt online retailing has been growing in recent years, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of the entire industry.

If online retail sales were to blame for this latest drop, you would expect to see that reflected in the numbers.  But instead, when we look at the numbers what we find is that online retailers experienced “the biggest drop ever” during the month of December…

December online internet sales (non-store retailers) tumbled 3.9% MoM – the biggest drop ever

So brick and mortar retail sales are going down and online retail sales are going down.

It is starting to smell a lot like a recession, and many in the industry are starting to panic.

And when I say panic, I mean that they are closing stores at a pace that is far faster than last year.  In fact, so far retail store closings are 23 percent ahead of the pace set last year

Coresight Research released an outlook of 2019 store closures Wednesday, saying there’s “no light at the end of the tunnel.”

According to the global market research firm’s report, six weeks into 2019, U.S. retailers have announced 2,187 closings, up 23 percent compared to last year. Those closings include 749 Gymboree stores, 251 Shopko stores and 94 Charlotte Russe locations.

Unfortunately, the number of store closings is about to double because Payless ShoeSource plans to declare bankruptcy and shut down 2,300 stores

U.S. discount retailer Payless ShoeSource Inc plans to close all of its approximately 2,300 stores when it files for bankruptcy later this month for the second time in as many years, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

And Payless is far from alone.  If you can believe it, the number of retail bankruptcies in 2019 is “already at one-third of last year’s total”

Bankruptcies also are continuing at a rapid pace “with the number of filings in the first six weeks of 2019 already at one-third of last year’s total,” the report states.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a retail apocalypse looks like, and we are still in the early chapters.

It is going to take some time for this drama to fully play out.  Just look at Sears – it is a money bleeding zombie of a company, but Eddie Lampert has convinced investors to give things one more try.  But they are going to zero, and so is JC Penney, and so are a whole host of other major retailers.

In the end, millions upon millions of square feet of retail space is going to be sitting vacant.  Some of the more economically depressed areas of the country are going to closely resemble ghost towns, and we are going to see a commercial real estate crisis that is off the charts.

Switching gears, we also just learned that the number of Americans that are at least 90 days behind on their auto loans is already “more than 1 million higher” than it was during the peak of the last recession…

More than 7 million Americans are 90 days or more behind on their vehicle loans as of the end of 2018, according to data released Tuesday by the New York Federal Reserve. That’s more than 1 million higher than the peak in 2010 as the country was recovering from its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

How is that possible?

I thought that the U.S. economy was supposed to be “booming”.

Isn’t that what they have been telling us?

In recent weeks I have repeatedly brought up current economic numbers that are even worse than the last recession, and yet so many people out there continue to insist that everything is just fine.

No, everything is definitely not “just fine”.

Economic activity is slowing down dramatically, and many believe that things are about to get a whole lot worse.  In fact, Peter Schiff is warning that what is ahead “is going to be worse than what we now call the Great Recession”…

People are going to realize that we checked into the monetary roach motel that I talked about from the beginning and that there’s no way out, and then the dollar is going to fall like a stone.

When they find out that it’s never over and it didn’t work, then there’s going to be nothing propping up the dollar and it’s going to drop like a stone, the price of gold is going to take off, and the recession that we’re entering into, which is going to be an inflationary recession, is going to be worse than what we now call the Great Recession.

Maybe it’s taken longer than we might have thought to play out, but this is the beginning of the end.”

I wish that I had better news for you today, but I don’t.

The retail apocalypse is accelerating, America’s debt crisis is starting to reach a critical level, and very challenging days are approaching for all of us.

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.

 

Trade War Causing Severe Pain As Farm Bankruptcies Surge Way Past The Level From The Last Recession

Farmers all across the middle part of the country are going bankrupt at an astounding rate, and over half of all farms in America are now losing money.  The trade war with China has been the most devastating crisis to hit the U.S. farming community in decades, and at this point there is no end in sight.  Farm after farm is being financially wiped out, and we haven’t seen this kind of economic pain for farmers since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  In fact, it is being reported that bankruptcies in the key farming regions of the country are way above the level that we witnessed during the last recession.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

Bankruptcies in three regions covering major farm states last year rose to the highest level in at least 10 years. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, had double the bankruptcies in 2018 compared with 2008. In the Eighth Circuit, which includes states from North Dakota to Arkansas, bankruptcies swelled 96%. The 10th Circuit, which covers Kansas and other states, last year had 59% more bankruptcies than a decade earlier.

There has been a lot of debate about whether or not the U.S. economy as a whole is heading into a recession in the near future, but the farming industry is already very, very deep into a major downturn, and this downturn has been caused by the trade war

Trade disputes under the Trump administration with major buyers of U.S. farm goods, such as China and Mexico, have further roiled agricultural markets and pressured farmers’ incomes. Prices for soybeans and hogs plummeted after those countries retaliated against U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs by imposing duties on U.S. products like oilseeds and pork, slashing shipments to big buyers.

Low milk prices are driving dairy farmers out of business in a market that’s also struggling with retaliatory tariffs on U.S. cheese from Mexico and China. Tariffs on U.S. pork have helped contribute to a record buildup in U.S. meat supplies, leading to lower prices for beef and chicken.

In addition, it is also being reported that more than half of all U.S. farms are now losing money even though they continue to operate.  Needless to say, this is not sustainable, and many more farms will go out of business if this current crisis persists.

This could be the final nail in the coffin for America’s family farms.  After this crisis is over, if it ever actually ends, we may be left with only giant corporate farms and farms owned by foreign interests.

As I noted in my article yesterday, over 27 million acres of U.S. farmland is now owned by foreigners.  This should have never been allowed to happen, because it is a major national security risk.

If a trade agreement with China is reached soon, that would greatly ease the suffering of America’s farmers.  But as long as the U.S. and Canada continue to hold Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, that is not going to happen.  Instead, the Chinese are going to attempt to buy time by trying to get the U.S. to agree to suspend the implementation of additional tariffs as “negotiations” continue.

And on Friday, we got word that a new trade war between the United States and Europe may be about to begin

With little apparent progress in U.S.-China trade talks, the Trump administration could be about to open up a new front in the trade wars by taking on the European auto industry — and that could spook markets.

Global financial markets have bounced back a bit in recent weeks, but more trade chaos could easily send them tumbling once again

Some strategists fear investors are keenly focused on China, and expect a resolution, but could be surprised by ramped-up trade friction with Europe.

“The market would tank,” said Peter Boocvkar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group. “The market has spoken loud and clear that it’s had enough of these tariffs… The market is fed up with this. Global growth is slowing dramatically because of trade. You want to put another bullet in it’s head?

Meanwhile, we continue to get more indications that the global economy is slowing down substantially.

For example, we just learned that German industrial production plummeted dramatically for the second month in a row in December

“Unexpectedly,” German industrial production fell 3.9% in December 2018 compared to December 2017, after having fallen by a revised 4.0% in November, according to German statistics agency Destatis Thursday morning. These two drops were steepest year-over-year drops since 2009.

Even during the European Debt Crisis in 2011 and 2012 – it hit Germany’s industry hard as many European countries weaved in and out of a recession, with some countries sinking into a depression — German industrial production never fell as fast on a year-over-year basis as in November and December

And here in the United States, General Motors has begun giving out pink slips to thousands of workers

General Motors on Monday said it was starting to hand pink slips to about 4,000 salaried workers in the latest round of a restructuring announced in late November that will ultimately shrink its white-collar workforce in North America by 15 percent out of 54,000.

Two people briefed on the cuts said GM is cutting hundreds of jobs at its information technology centers in Texas, Georgia, Arizona and Michigan and more than 1,000 jobs at its Warren, Michigan Tech Center. GM is filing new required mass layoff notices with state agencies and disclosed the cuts to lawmakers.

Needless to say, General Motors would not be doing this if the U.S. economy really was “booming”.

A global economic downturn has arrived, and it looks like it is only going to escalate as we move deeper into 2019.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.  His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News.  From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the nation.  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 Economic Mood Darkens: iPhone Sales Plunge 15% As Consumer Confidence Falls For The 3rd Straight Month

Apple iPhone sales are never supposed to go down.  For nearly two decades, Apple has been an unbeatable economic miracle, but now it appears that times have changed.  Global sales for the iPhone were disastrous during the holiday quarter, and this is yet another indication that the global economic slowdown is accelerating.  Here in the United States, auto sales have been abysmal, retail bankruptcies have been surging and home sales have been seriously declining, but the big tech giants were supposed to be an economic bright spot that we could always rely on.  Perhaps that is why so many investors were shocked when Apple announced their most recent quarterly results on Tuesday

Sales of Apple’s flagship iPhones plummeted 15% during the holiday quarter, a sharp deterioration in a business that the company said Tuesday will continue to struggle in the coming months.

Apple gave a weaker-than-expected sales-and-profit forecast for its fiscal second quarter. Its guidance calls for sales to fall by as much as 10% and for its earnings per share to plunge by as much as 22%.

Apple is openly admitting that this is not just going to be a one quarter anomaly.

The company is telling us that sales are going to continue to fall in the months ahead, and that is very alarming news.

In fact, we haven’t seen Apple sales fall on a year over year basis since the year 2000

The last time Apple’s holiday quarter sales fell, America was consumed with Bush v. Gore and Tom Brady had one completed pass in his career.

Apple’s sales fell 15% in the last three months of 2018 — and that’s the first time Apple’s sales dropped during the final quarter of the year since 2000.

Speaking of Tom Brady, what he has accomplished is nothing short of remarkable.  This will be his ninth Super Bowl as quarterback with the Patriots, and that is a record that will never, ever be broken.

But we have to go all the way back before his first Super Bowl to find a time when Apple sales declined, and that just shows how dominant Apple has been over the years.

I have to admit that I have an iPhone myself, and I really like it.  I know that some people have complaints, but over the years Apple has made good products and it is easy to understand why they have been so successful.

Unfortunately, the economic winds are shifting.

One of the big factors that is hurting Apple is our trade war with China, and Apple CEO Tim Cook is reportedly in “regular contact” with President Trump about this…

Cook, who is in regular contact with U.S. President Donald Trump, told Reuters he sees some hope that trade tensions between the United States and China have eased, and that the company is considering pricing its phones in local currency in China and other international markets, which may spur sales.

Hopefully there will be a positive resolution to this trade conflict in the near future, but at this moment that is looking doubtful.  And now that the U.S. has formally requested the extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the chances of a comprehensive trade agreement have deteriorated considerably.

Apple has been successful for a very long time, but the tech industry is constantly evolving, and consumer behavior is shifting at an extremely rapid pace.  For example, one recent survey indicated that almost 60 percent of all Americans have already canceled cable television

Nearly 60 percent of Americans have canceled their cable television subscription – and just 12 percent said they are committed to sticking with their cable package, according to a new survey.

An additional 29 percent of Americans are considering cutting the cord on their traditional cable subscription.

The entire cable television industry is living on borrowed time, and they are going to have to adapt to the new paradigm that is emerging if they are going to survive.

In the headline of this article, I also noted that consumer confidence has just fallen again.  In fact, Breitbart is calling it “the third consecutive steep monthly decline”…

Consumer confidence took another hit in January, as the government partially shut down while Capitol Hill Democrats and the Trump White House battled over funding for a border wall.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index decreased in January, the third consecutive steep monthly decline.

The index fell to 120.2 from December’s revised down 126.6. Economists had expected a milder decline to 124.3.

This is a clear indication that the economic mood in this country is getting darker.

But the good news is that things have calmed down on Wall Street.  After the worst December since the Great Depression, the stock market has bounced back a bit in recent weeks.

So the truth is that 2019 is off to a better start than many had anticipated.  That may not last for very long, but at least for the moment investors have a reason to smile.

And we should all be hoping for stability for the financial markets for as long as possible.  Because once this bubble finally bursts, it is going to be virtually impossible to put the pieces back together once again.

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 all over the nation.  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 Trump Administration Is Warning That The U.S. Economy May Not Grow At All During The First Quarter Of 2019

This government shutdown is really starting to take a toll on the U.S. economy.  On Wednesday, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers made an absolutely stunning admission.  We all knew that the global economy was slowing down, and we all knew that U.S. economic activity was beginning to sputter, but up until this week the Trump administration had always insisted that we are not heading for a recession.  Well, all of that changed on Wednesday when Kevin Hassett publicly admitted that we could end up with zero GDP growth during the first quarter of 2019

A top economic adviser to President Donald Trump told CNN on Wednesday that the US economy may show no growth in the first quarter if the federal government shutdown lasts much longer.

White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett said in an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow that he was not overly worried about the long-term effects of a government shutdown. But after Harlow asked him if the United States could wind up with zero GDP growth this quarter, he conceded that it was possible. “We could, yes,” he said.

With much of the government currently closed, and with no end to the shutdown in sight, it is inevitable that the economic numbers for the first quarter are not going to look as good as they could have been.

But if this shutdown lasts for the entire quarter, that could easily push us into an economic contraction, and that would send shockwaves all over the planet.

And at this point there is definitely a possibility that this shutdown could go on for a couple more months.  Neither side intends to give in, and things are starting to get very personal.  On Wednesday, Nancy Pelosi made it exceedingly clear that she will not allow President Trump to deliver the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol until the shutdown ends under any circumstances…

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dug in Wednesday on her call to delay the State of the Union address even after President Trump vowed to proceed with the speech next week, sending a curt letter making clear she will not allow the event to take place during the government shutdown.

Reacting to Pelosi’s letter, Trump told reporters at the White House “we’ll do something in the alternative,” suggesting a speech of some kind will still happen next week.

This truly is unprecedented.

Donald Trump is the very first president in all of U.S. history to be “disinvited” from delivering the State of the Union address.

And the hundreds of thousands of federal workers that are not receiving paychecks right now are really starting to get restless.  A lot of them have been living paycheck to paycheck, and so missing a couple of paychecks is a really, really big deal to those people.  As Marketwatch recently noted, some of them are actually “turning to food banks to feed their families”…

Within just a few weeks into the government shutdown, people are struggling to cope. We hear stories about people turning to food banks to feed their families. We hear stories about people who are in dire straits because they can’t get loans. We hear stories about people who can’t pay their mortgages. That’s not even one month into the shutdown.

If something this minor can cause such widespread pain and suffering, what would we see if a real crisis actually hit this nation?

Of course the truth is that most Americans are simply not prepared to handle much of anything, and this is a point that Mac Slavo made quite well in one of his most recent articles

Almost 60% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings for a rainy day fund or an immediate emergency. It’s been ten years since the Great Recession left many Americans jobless with no money, and it appears most have learned nothing. The government shutdown serves as a painful warning and preview for what will happen once unemployment rises from 50-year lows.  Americans are far too dependent on others, including the government, for their survival.

For now, many that are struggling financially due to this shutdown are trying to bridge the gap by going into more debt.

And if the shutdown doesn’t last too much longer, that might work for a lot of people.

But it is very dangerous to go into too much debt, and a large portion of the country has already crossed that line.  For example, one recent survey discovered that approximately a third of all Americans are “afraid they’ll max out their credit card when making a large purchase”

Despite the dangers of high-interest loans, more consumers are testing the limits of plastic.

To that point, more than 1 in 3 people —or 86 million Americans — said they’re afraid they’ll max out their credit card when making a large purchase, according to a new WalletHub credit cards survey. (Most of those polled considered a large purchase as anything over $100.)

The only easy way out of this government shutdown would be for one of the two sides to completely fold, and that would be politically disastrous for whoever decides to do that.

The battle lines have been drawn, and this political game of chicken is going to go on until somebody blinks.

And if nobody blinks for a couple more months, the economic consequences of this government shutdown are likely to be quite severe.

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 all over the nation.  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.

Stocks Plunge, Consumer Pessimism Grows And U.S. Home Sales Just Hit Their Lowest Level In 3 Years

It appears to be more likely than ever that the U.S. economy is heading for a recession.  On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 301 points as investors were rattled by several very important pieces of news.  Back in 2008, home sales began to fall precipitously just prior to the financial crisis in the second half of that year, and now it is happening again.  Of course home sales are always going up and down, but the numbers that we are seeing now are definitely very unusual.  According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales just hit their lowest level in 3 years

U.S. home sales tumbled to their lowest level in three years last month and house price increases slowed sharply, suggesting a further loss of momentum in the housing market.

The National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday existing home sales declined 6.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million units last month — the lowest level since November 2015.

And when you compare December 2018 to December 2017, the numbers look even worse.  According to Wolf Richter, last month existing home sales were down 10.3 percent on a year over year basis…

Sales of “existing homes” — including single-family houses, townhouses, condos, and co-ops — in December, plunged 10.3% from a year earlier, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 4.99 million homes, according to the National Association of Realtors this morning. This was the biggest year-over-year drop since May 2011, during the throes of Housing Bust 1

Those are absolutely horrible numbers, but thanks to high interest rates they aren’t going to get much better any time soon.  Just like a decade ago, this is going to be a very tough time to be in the real estate industry.

During the “boom years”, the west was the hottest region for real estate in the entire nation, but now it is leading the way down.  And last month was just abysmal, with sales falling 15 percent in that portion of the country…

  • Northeast: -6.8%, to an annual rate of 690,000.
  • Midwest: -10.5%, to an annual rate of 1.19 million.
  • South: -5.4%, to an annual rate of 2.09 million.
  • West: -15.0%, to an annual rate of 1.02 million.

Unfortunately, these are exactly the kinds of numbers that we would expect to see if the U.S. economy was heading into a recession.

Investors were also rattled on Tuesday by news that trade talks between the U.S. and China seem to be breaking down

Stocks fell to their lows of the day after the Financial Times reported the U.S. canceled a trade meeting with Chinese officials. CNBC later confirmed the report through a source. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow denied the reports, saying the meetings are not canceled, giving stocks a boost into the close. China and the U.S. are trying to strike a permanent trade deal with the U.S. Both countries have been in a trade war since last year, slapping tariffs on billions of dollars worth of their goods.

We’ll see what happens, but the Chinese appear to be dragging their feet, and it does not look like there will be a major trade agreement between the two sides any time soon.

And when you throw in the fact that we are in the midst of the longest government shutdown in all of U.S. history, it becomes exceedingly clear that the elements for a “perfect storm” are definitely coming together.

In fact, Peter Schiff is entirely convinced that the coming recession is already “a done deal”…

“And they think simply because the Federal Reserve is no longer hiking rates that they no longer have to worry about the Fed pushing the economy into a recession. Well, it’s too late for that. The rate hikes of the past have already guaranteed that the economy is headed for recession. It doesn’t matter whether they continue to raise rates in the future. The recession is a done deal. It’s just now you have that calm between the storm while investors are still clueless and haven’t yet connected those, what should be, very obvious dots.

When the next recession comes, you will know who to blame.  Every time the Federal Reserve has engaged in a rate hiking program since World War II, it has always ended in either a recession or a stock market crash.  The Fed is the reason why the U.S. economy has been on a roller coaster ride for decades, and now we are steamrolling directly toward the “bust” portion of this cycle.  If we ever want to end this madness, we need to abolish the Fed, and that means that we need to send people to Congress that are willing to take action on these things.

Sadly, it is probably going to take a major collapse before abolishing the Fed becomes a big political issue again.  Economic issues have been on the back burner for a while, but that may be about to change, because pessimism about the economy is growing.  According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans that believe economic conditions are worsening has risen by 12 points over the past two months…

Americans are not feeling very confident about the economy these days.

Almost half (48%) of Americans say economic conditions are worsening, up from 45% in December and 36% in November, according to a recent poll by Gallup, a Washington, D.C.-based research and consulting firm.

This is more evidence of the national psychological shift that I have been talking about.  People are starting to realize what is happening, and they are becoming deeply concerned about what the future holds.

Well, the truth is that things are going to get a lot tougher.  But instead of getting down in the dumps about it, we need to prepare for what is ahead, and we need to be ready to implement some positive solutions in the aftermath of the coming crisis.

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 all over the nation.  If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so.  The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.

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

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

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

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

78 Percent Of Americans Are Living Paycheck To Paycheck – Including Many Government Workers Affected By The Shutdown

In just a few days, this will officially be the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, and there is no end in sight.  President Trump is pledging that he will not sign any spending bill unless it includes funding for a border wall, and the Democrats are promising their supporters that they will never agree to a single penny for a wall.  This could be the confrontation that ends up defining Trump’s presidency, and whoever backs down now is going to look incredibly weak.  But the longer this shutdown lasts, the more painful things are going to become for the hundreds of thousands of federal workers that are going without pay, and for the hundreds of thousands of workers that are employed by government contractors that rely on business from the federal government.

You should never play a game of chicken with somebody that is crazier than you are.  In this case, it looks like both sides fully expect the other party to blink first, but the truth is that neither side is likely to yield any time soon.

So the days ahead are likely to be exceedingly painful for most federal workers, because just like the population as a whole, most of them are living paycheck to paycheck.

In fact, one survey found that 78 percent of American workers are currently living paycheck to paycheck…

Government workers are far from alone in feeling stressed about not getting paid. Nearly 80 percent of American workers (78 percent) say they’re living paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2017 report by employment website CareerBuilder. Women are particularly vulnerable: 81 percent of them report living paycheck to paycheck, compared with 75 percent of men.

As I have repeatedly stressed, living paycheck to paycheck is something that you do not want to do if at all possible.  When you live paycheck to paycheck, you are just one major disaster away from financial ruin.  For example, if somebody in your family has a major accident or a significant medical emergency, it can quickly render you completely destitute.

That same survey also discovered that 70 percent of all workers are currently in debt

Just more than 70 percent of all respondents say that they’re in debt, and a quarter of workers say they weren’t able to make ends meet at the end of every month of the past year.

If you are scrambling to make debt payments every month and you have no financial cushion to fall back on, then you have no room for error, and that is where most Americans find themselves today.

So for most federal workers, this government shutdown is not just an inconvenience.

According to Professor Paul Light, somewhere around 800,000 government workers are currently going without pay…

The shutdown has left approximately 800,000 federal workers in financial limbo. Around 420,000 “essential” employees are working without pay, while another 380,000 have been ordered to stay home, according to calculations provided to CNBC by Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University.

Of course the mainstream media is going to be filled with sob stories from these workers for as long as this shutdown lasts.  For instance, CNN recently profiled the plight of TSA security officer Jessica Caraballo

The partial government shutdown that began December 22 left Caraballo and 420,000 other federal workers across the country forced to work without a paycheck. Two weeks have passed and dozens of families like the Caraballos have put their lives on hold.

“Rent is due, light bill, gas bill, my car bill is due the 26th,” Caraballo said. “I already got my last paycheck and there’s no paycheck to come.”

“I don’t know when we would be able to celebrate birthdays, when we would be able to get ahead,” she added. “This is a pushback.”

Without a doubt things are tough right now for families like the Caraballos, but what will they do when a real national emergency strikes?

As we watch all the chaos that a minor disruption has created, it should cause all of us to realize that any sort of a major disruption could be extremely catastrophic for most of the country.

The vast majority of us are deeply, deeply dependent on the system.  That is fine and dandy as long as the system is functioning well, but what if someday it stops functioning altogether?

For the moment, many government workers can just pile up more debt to get through this short-term crisis.  Of course many of them are already drowning in debt, and we just learned that U.S. consumer borrowing was up another 22 billion dollars during the month of November.

However, if this shutdown lasts for another month or two, the mood of this nation is going to get quite sour, and that will especially be true once the food stamp benefits run out

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees SNAP at the federal level, is one of the agencies unfunded during the partial government shutdown. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday that SNAP would be funded through February, thanks to the funding bill that expired on Dec. 22, which included a provision allowing federal agencies to make obligated payments to support certain programs for 30 days after its expiration date.

Can you imagine the uproar that we would see if 38 million people were suddenly cut off from food stamps?

I think that the left is counting on that as negotiating leverage if they need it.

At this point we do not know how the political gridlock in Washington will end.  Today, President Trump walked out of a meeting with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi when Pelosi told him point blank that there will be no money for a wall.  At this point there does not seem to be any room for a compromise, and it will be politically disastrous for either side to back down now.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of government workers are going to be hurting, and the pain will intensify with each passing day.

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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