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.

Jim Cramer On The U.S. Economy: “Many CEOS Have Told Me About How Quickly Things Have Cooled”

A lot of people are shocked by how rapidly things are beginning to move.  The U.S. economy is slowing down at a pace that we haven’t seen since the last recession, and this is something that I have been tracking extensively.  But now the slowdown is so obvious that even some of the biggest names in the mainstream media are talking about it.  For example, just take a look at what Jim Cramer of CNBC is saying.  For a long time, he was touting how well the U.S. economy was doing, but now his tune has completely changed.  According to Cramer, a lot of corporate executives have “told me about how quickly things have cooled”, and he says that many of them are shocked because this “wasn’t supposed to occur so soon”

Company leaders across industries are telling Jim Cramer — off the record — that they’re worried about a slowdown in the U.S. economy, Cramer said Thursday on CNBC.

“So many CEOs have told me about how quickly things have cooled,” the “Mad Money” host said. “So many of them are baffled that we could find ourselves in this late-cycle dilemma that wasn’t supposed to occur so soon.”

Just like in 2008, the suddenness of the downturn is taking many of the experts by surprise.

Because our system is so highly vulnerable, when things start to go bad we can see a crisis escalate very rapidly, and the outlook for the months ahead is very troubling.

Normally Jim Cramer doesn’t talk like this, but now he is warning that we are “on the verge” of a slowdown that could potentially “cause an awful lot of havoc and cost a lot of jobs”

“There are degrees of slowdowns that, nonetheless, can cause an awful lot of havoc and cost a lot of jobs, and that’s what we’re on the verge of here,” he said. “That’s what the markets are saying. That’s what the CEOs are worried about offline.”

The situation reminded Cramer of when, on the cusp of the 2008 financial crisis, his corporate sources confided in him that the Fed “seemed to be out of touch … with what was happening” on Wall Street, he said. That led to his now-famous “They know nothing!” rant blasting the Fed for its lack of diligence.

Back in 2008 and 2009, millions of Americans lost their jobs within a matter of months.  Many of you that are reading this article know all about it, because it happened to you personally.

The same thing will happen again, and now it looks like it may happen a lot faster than most of the “experts” were projecting.

There is also another troubling piece of news that I would like to share with all of you.

On Friday, the latest NY Fed report came out, and we learned that U.S. household debt is now 837 billion dollars higher than it was during the previous peak in 2008

Total household debt, driven by a $9.1 trillion in mortgages, is now $837 billion higher than its previous peak in 2008, just as the last recession took hold and brought on massive deleveraging across the United States. Indebtedness has risen steadily for more than four years and sits more than 21 percent above a trough in 2013.

The $219 billion rise in total debt in the quarter ended September 30 was the biggest jump since 2016.

Our entire “economic recovery” has been fueled by debt, and so those numbers are not that surprising.

But the troubling part of the report is the fact that debt delinquency rates have now risen to the highest levels in 7 years

Aggregate delinquency rates worsened in the third quarter of 2018. As of September 30, 4.7% of outstanding debt was in some stage of delinquency, an uptick from 4.5% in the second quarter and the largest in 7 years. Of the $638 billion of debt that is delinquent, $415 billion is seriously delinquent (at least 90 days late or “severely derogatory”). This increase was primarily due to a large increase in the flow into delinquency for student loan balances during the third quarter of 2018. The flow into 90+ day delinquency for credit card balances has been rising for the last year and remained elevated since then compared to its recent history, while the flow into 90+ day delinquency for auto loan balances has been slowly trending upward since 2012.

In other words, Americans are getting behind on their debts to a degree that we have not seen since the U.S. economy was coming out of the last recession.

This is a very clear indicator that the U.S. economy is really slowing down, and if delinquency rates keep rising that is going to mean big trouble for U.S. financial institutions.

Of course U.S. consumers are not the only ones with a massive debt problem.  Corporate debt has more than doubled since the last financial crisis, state and local government debt levels are at record highs, and the U.S. government is now almost 22 trillion dollars in debt.

Perhaps if we had not spent six trillion dollars on wars in the Middle East since 2001, we would be in much better financial shape as a nation.

The Bubble to End All Bubbles, which some have dubbed “The Everything Bubble”, appears to be starting to burst and that is likely to mean tremendous chaos for global financial markets.

And without a doubt, this was another very tough week for Wall Street.  All of the major indexes were down significantly, and tech stocks got hit particularly hard

The S&P 500 fell 1.6 percent this week, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite both declined more than 2 percent.

Technology, the biggest sector in the S&P 500 by market cap, was the second-worst performer this week, falling 2.5 percent. The sector dropped following a 5.4 percent decline in Apple. Wall Street analysts worry iPhone sales will slow down. Tech-related shares like Amazon and Netflix were also down 7 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively. Sharp losses in Nvidia dragged down the chips sector and the overall tech sector on Friday.

For the past couple of years we have been enjoying a time of relative economic and financial stability, but most Americans used that time to party instead of to prepare.

Now that period of stability is ending, and a very uncertain future is 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.

11 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Starting To Slow Down Dramatically

The pace at which things are changing is shocking the experts.  Just a few months ago, many of the experts were still talking about how the U.S. economy was “booming”, but since then a major shift has taken place.  Most of the headlines have been about the huge stock market declines that we have been witnessing, but things have not been going well for the real economy either.  Home sales are way down, auto sales are plummeting, the retail apocalypse is escalating, the middle class continues to shrink and economic optimism is rapidly evaporating.  We haven’t seen anything like this since 2008, and many believe that the economic downturn that is now upon us will ultimately be even worse than what we experienced a decade ago.  The following are 11 signs that the U.S. economy is starting to slow down dramatically…

#1 When economic activity is rising, demand for oil increases, and oil prices tend to go up.  But when economic activity is slowing down, demand for oil diminishes, and oil prices tend to go down.  That is why what is happening to the price of oil right now is so alarming

US oil prices plummeted 7% to a one-year low of $55.69 a barrel on Tuesday. It was crude’s worst day since September 2015.

The losses in the oil world have been staggering as worries deepen about excess supply. Crude is down 12 straight days, the longest losing streak since futures trading began in March 1983.

#2 One new poll has found that only 13 percent of Americans plan to buy a home in the next year.  That number has fallen for three quarters in a row, and it is now down by almost half over the last twelve months.

#3 As the market dries up, the inventory of unsold homes is absolutely soaring nationwide…

With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that inventory countywide soared 86% among single-family homes and 188% among condos in October compared to a year prior, according to newly published data by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. It was the most massive year-over-year increase on record, dating back to the Dotcom bust, a rhythm that has some asking: Is the housing industry about to go bust?

#4 California once had the hottest housing market in the entire nation, but now home prices in the state are plummeting like it is 2008 all over again.

#5 According to the latest Bank of America survey, global fund managers are the most bearish that they have been since the financial crisis of 2008…

According to the survey, 44% of the fund managers expect global growth to decelerate in the next year, the worst outlook since November 2008. What’s more, 54% are anticipating a slowdown in Chinese growth in the next year, the most bearish they’ve been in over 2 years.

#6 America’s ongoing retail apocalypse just continues to accelerate.  According to a recent Bloomberg article, things are going so poorly for some mall operators that they “handing over their keys to lenders even before leases end”

Things are getting worse for malls across America. So much worse that their owners are walking away early from struggling properties, a trend that has mortgage bond investors bracing for losses.

Mall operators, eyeing defaults caused or made more likely by shuttered stores such as Sears Holdings Corp., are handing over their keys to lenders even before leases end. That’s forcing loan-servicing companies to either take a shot at running the properties or sell them cheap. And if they’re unable to salvage the debt payments, investors in commercial mortgage-backed securities will take a hit.

#7 Despite the eruption of a major trade war, the U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world is on pace to set a brand new all-time record in 2018.

#8 One new study discovered that 62 percent of all U.S. jobs do not currently pay enough to support a middle class lifestyle.

#9 At this point, most Americans barely have any financial cushion at all.  According to one recent survey, 58 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.

#10 Right now, more than half of all U.S. children are living in households that receive financial assistance from the federal government.

#11 As the economy slows down, an increasing number of Americans are being forced into the streets.  More than half a million Americans are currently homeless, and that number is growing with each passing day.

Meanwhile, more troubling news continues to emerge from Wall Street on a daily basis.  One of the big stories this week has been the fact that General Electric appears to be on the verge of “collapse”.  They have been completely locked out of the commercial paper market, they are being completely overwhelmed by the giant mountain of debt that they are carrying, and their formerly “investment grade” bonds are now being traded like junk.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

Two weeks after we reported that GE had found itself locked out of the commercial paper market following downgrades that made it ineligible for most money market investors, the pain has continued, and yesterday General Electric lost just over $5bn in market capitalization. While far less than the $49bn wiped out from AAPL the same day, it was arguably the bigger headline grabber.

The shares slumped -6.88% after dropping as much as -10% at the lows after the company’s CEO, in an interview with CNBC yesterday, failed to reassure market fears about a weakening financial position. The CEO suggested that the company will now urgently sell assets to address leverage and its precarious liquidity situation whereby it will have to rely on revolvers – and the generosity of its banks – now that it is locked out of the commercial paper market.

GE is not a financial company, but could this be a candidate to become “the next Lehman Brothers”?

The upward economic downturn of the last couple of years is totally gone, and many believe that there will soon be a feverish race for the exits on Wall Street.  If you have not already positioned yourself for the coming crisis, now is the time to do so.  As we saw in 2008, markets tend to go down a whole lot faster than they go up.

And once things get really crazy on Wall Street, the real economy can fall apart at a pace that is breathtaking.  In 2008, millions of people lost their jobs within a matter of months.  This will happen again, and there are an increasing number of signs that this is going to happen much sooner than most people had anticipated.

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.

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