All Money In The United States Comes Into Existence As Debt – So What Will Happen Now That Bank Lending In The U.S. Is Contracting At The Fastest Rate In History?

Most Americans who closely follow economics understand that all money in the United States comes into existence as debt.  Either the Federal Reserve creates it when the U.S. government borrows money, or private banks create it when they use fractional reserve banking to make loans to customers.  If lending increases, it is going to create new money and increase the money supply.  But if lending declines, it is going to take money out of the system and will decrease the money supply.  So why is this important?  It is important because without sufficient lending, the U.S. economy will seize up and grind to a standstill.  Unfortunately, we have created an economic system that is fueled by credit, and without enough credit businesses can’t expand or hire more workers, individuals can’t buy homes and cars and there will not be any hope that the U.S. economy will function at previous levels.

If you will remember, this is what happened at the beginning of the Great Depression.  The big banks severely tightened credit and it created a deflationary depression.

Unfortunately, the same thing is happening again.  In 2009 U.S. banks posted their sharpest decline in lending since 1942.  In 2010 so far, bank lending in the U.S. has contracted at the fastest rate in recorded history.  A “credit freeze” has struck the entire banking industry.  One indication of just how bad the credit freeze has gotten is to look at a graph of the M1 Money Multiplier.  It is now at the lowest point it has been in decades.  Why?  Because banks are simply not lending money….

But didn’t Bush and Obama insist that if we got cash into the hands of the bankers that they would lend it out and help all of us “Main Street” folks out?

It didn’t work out that way, did it?

Instead, the banks (especially the big banks) are reducing their lending, hoarding cash and shrinking the money supply.

If this continues, we may very well experience a 1930s-style deflationary depression, at least for a while.

Already we are seeing the effects of tighter credit hitting the economy….

*Federal regulators on Friday shuttered banks in Florida, Illinois, Maryland and Utah, boosting to 26 the number of bank failures in the United States so far in 2010.  The closing of numerous banks on Friday is almost becoming a weekly ritual now.

*The FDIC is planning to open a massive satellite office near Chicago that will house up to 500 temporary staffers and contractors to manage receiverships and liquidate assets from what they are expecting will be a gigantic wave of failed Midwest banks over the next few years.

*The U.S. Postal Service, facing a $238 billion budget deficit by 2020, is being urged to consider cutting delivery to as few as three days a week.  As money continues to get tighter, we should expect even more government services to be cut.  In fact, some local governments around the U.S. are considering bulldozing whole neighborhoods just so they don’t have to spend money on providing those neighborhoods with essential services.

So will the U.S. government come to the rescue?

Well, some would argue that the unprecedented spending by the U.S. government over the past several years is the only reason why the U.S. economy has not already plunged into a full-blown depression.

But of course all of this government debt is only going to make our long-term problems even worse.

The Congressional Budget Office is projecting that Barack Obama’s proposed budget plan would add more than $9.7 trillion to the U.S. national debt over the next decade.

That is not good news.

Especially if the Federal Reserve refuses to keep “monetizing” all of this debt.

During a recent hearing, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Congress that the Federal Reserve does not plan to continue to “print money” to help Congress finance the exploding U.S. national debt.

So if the Federal Reserve will not finance this gigantic pile of U.S. debt, who will?

Already China and some other major foreign powers have reduced their holdings of U.S. Treasuries.

So who is going to borrow the trillions upon trillions that the U.S. government is going to have to borrow?

Perhaps the U.S. government will decide to stop spending so much and will start cutting back and will start being more fiscally responsible.

But don’t count on it.

You see, if the U.S. government does not keep borrowing insane amounts of money to pump up the U.S. economy the whole thing could come down like a house of cards.

Of course it is all going to come down like a house of cards eventually anyway.

There are several ways that all of this could play out (deflationary depression, hyperinflationary implosion, societal collapse, etc.), but all of them are bad.

The truth is that an economic collapse is coming whether you or I like it or not.  We had all better get ready while we still can.

Why Situps Don't Work

15 Reasons Why Barack Obama’s Declaration That “A Second Depression Is No Longer A Possibility” Is Dead Wrong

Is the United States economy headed for another Great Depression?  Well, according to Barack Obama, that is no longer possible.  According to Obama, the United States has avoided an economic collapse and is headed for another wonderful era of growth and prosperity.  But is Obama right?  Do the economic signs indicate that the U.S. is headed towards recovery or towards even more difficult times?  As you shall see below, there is no way in the world that Barack Obama should have ever said that “a second depression is no longer a possibility”.  In fact, as the U.S. financial system continues to crumble, it is likely that those words will be exploited by his political adversaries again and again.  If you are a politician and you are going to issue a guarantee, you had better be able to deliver the goods.  In this case, Obama is making a promise that defies all of the economic data.

Video of Obama making his declaration that “a second depression is no longer a possibility” is posted below….      

So why is Obama wrong?  Well, if you want a full examination of why the United States is headed for an economic collapse, please read the rest of this blog.  In this article we just wanted to highlight a few of the reasons why the U.S. is headed for a complete financial meltdown….

#1) The U.S. housing market is continuing to come apart like a 20 dollar suit.  The U.S. government just announced that in January sales of new homes plunged to the lowest level on record.  This is not a sign that the U.S. economy is recovering.

#2) In fact, a lot more houses may be on the market soon.  The number of U.S. mortgages more than 90 days overdue has climbed to 5.1 percent.  An increasing number of Americans find themselves simply unable to keep up with their mortgages.  This is another indication that things are getting worse instead of better.

#3) Over 24% of all homes with mortgages in the United States were underwater as of the end of 2009.  So in other words, nearly one out of every four U.S. homeowners with a mortgage owe more on their homes than the homes are worth.  That is a giant mess, and it is going to be very painful to untangle it.

#4) If all of that wasn’t bad enough, a massive “second wave” of adjustable rate mortgages is scheduled to reset beginning in 2010.  The “first wave” of mortgage resets from 2006 – 2008 absolutely crippled the U.S. housing market, and this second wave threatens to make things far worse.

#5) Confidence among U.S. consumers fell dramatically in February to the lowest level in 10 months.  Consumers that are not confident in the economy tend to hold on to their money.  If consumers don’t spend their money then the economy is not going to grow.

#6) Many analysts are predicting that the next “shoe to fall” in the ongoing financial crisis will be commercial real estate.  U.S. commercial property values are down approximately 40 percent since 2007 and currently 18 percent of all office space in the United States is sitting vacant. 

#7) In fact, the commercial real estate sector is just now entering the danger zone.  It is projected that the largest commercial real estate loan losses will be experienced in 2011 and the years following.  Some analysts are estimating that losses from commercial real estate at U.S. banks alone could range as high as 200 to 300 billion dollars.  To get an idea of how rapidly commercial real estate loans are turning sour, just check out the chart below….

#8) All of these bad loans are causing banks to dramatically slow down real estate lending.  During the middle of the decade, the number of commercial real estate loans exploded, but now the bubble has burst, and as the chart below reveals, commercial real estate lending has dropped through the floor….

#9) All of these real estate problems are decimating America’s small and mid-size banks.  The FDIC has announced that the number of banks on its “problem” list climbed to 702 at the end of 2009.  This is compared to only 552 banks that were on the problem list at the end of September and only 252 banks that were on the problem list at the end of 2008.  As you can see from these figures, the banking crisis in the U.S. is escalating rapidly.

#10) The U.S. national debt is now over 12 trillion dollars and it is rising at a rate of about 3.8 billion dollars per day.  In fact, some analysts are projecting that the United States will borrow more money in 2010 than the rest of the governments of the world combined.

#11) The financial mess in the U.S. is scaring off other nations from buying U.S. government debt.  In fact, the Federal Reserve now has to “buy” most U.S. government debt because others are extremely hesitant to purchase the massive amount of bad paper the U.S. is trying to sell.  In addition, other countries are now using the massive amounts of U.S. government debt that they already hold as leverage.  A major U.K. newspaper is warning that evidence is mounting that recent Chinese sales of U.S. Treasury bonds are intended as a warning to the United States government rather than simply being part of a routine portfolio shift.

#12) But the U.S. is not the only economy that is suffering during this economic downturn.  The entire world economy has been impacted.  The World Trade Organization has announced that world trade fell by 12% last year as the world economic crisis caused the biggest drop in world trade since 1945.

#13) The United States should not expect the rest of the world to pick up the economic slack either.  The crisis in Greece has made headlines all over the globe recently, and Harvard University Professor Kenneth Rogoff is warning that we could soon see a huge wave of sovereign defaults.

#14) The reality is that things are so bad in some parts of Europe that it could take years and years to recover.  In fact, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund is warning that financial “belt-tightening” in Europe will be “extremely painful” and could take up to 20 years.  The truth is that if Europe is suffering economically, it will be very difficult for the U.S. to recover at the same time.

#15) In addition, some of the most prominent investors in the world know what is coming and are issuing their own warnings.  For example, Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s long-time business partner, has warned in a new article for Slate.com that “it’s basically over” for the U.S. economy.  Marc Faber is warning that things are going to get so bad that it is time for investors to buy farmland and gold.

But apparently Barack Obama knows better. 

Apparently Barack Obama can guarantee that it is impossible for the United States to go into another depression.

Do you believe him?

FDIC Opens A Massive New Office Near Chicago Just To Handle The Coming Tidal Wave Of Midwest Bank Closings They Are Expecting

Is the Midwest about to see a massive wave of bank closings?  That is apparently what the FDIC is expecting.  The FDIC is opening up a massive new satellite office in the Chicago area that will be dedicated to managing receiverships and liquidating assets from failed Midwest banks.  This new facility will occupy 7 floors in an 11 floor building.  The office space that the FDIC is leasing is well over 100,000 square feet and will employ approximately 500 temporary employees and contractors.  This is a huge expenditure by the FDIC.  So will there really be so many bank failures over the next couple of years in the Midwest that a 100,000 square foot facility is required to deal with it?

Apparently someone at the FDIC thinks so.

But this is not the first time the FDIC has done something like this.

The FDIC has already opened similar offices in Irvine, California and Jacksonville, Florida.  Each time, the number of bank failures in those states increased dramatically after the FDIC opened those facilities.

So what is going to cause such a massive wave of bank failures that the FDIC will need hundreds of new employees just to deal with it?

Well, as we have reported previously, the financial powers in the U.S. are now moving to reduce the money supply, hoard cash and tighten credit.  All of those things cause a slowdown in economic growth.

At the same time, a gigantic “second wave” of adjustable mortgages is scheduled to reset starting this year.  This could push the U.S. economy into “part 2” of the housing crisis.  Just check out the chart below….

In fact, one new study has been released that estimates that 5 million houses and condominiums on which mortgages are now delinquent will go through foreclosure and be put on the market within the next few years.

Another devastating housing crisis would absolutely destroy the vast majority of small to mid-size banks in the United States.  In such a scenario, the FDIC would definitely be able to make use of the new facilities that they are opening up around the United States.

There are even rumors that the big bankers do not intend for most small and mid-size bankers to survive the coming crisis.  There are whispers that the big bankers see all of this economic turmoil as a great opportunity to “consolidate” the banking industry.

So what should you and your family do to get prepared?  Get out of debt and get rid of any unnecessary expenses.  Try to start developing alternate streams of income and come up with a plan for what you will do if you lose your job.

The reality is that hard times are coming and a lot of people are going to lose their homes and their jobs.  Don’t just blindly trust “the system” – now is the time to make sure that you and your family will be prepared even if a total economic collapse happens.

Economic Black Hole: 20 Reasons Why The U.S. Economy Is Dying And Is Simply Not Going To Recover

Even though the U.S. financial system nearly experienced a total meltdown in late 2008, the truth is that most Americans simply have no idea what is happening to the U.S. economy.  Most people seem to think that the nasty little recession that we have just been through is almost over and that we will be experiencing another time of economic growth and prosperity very shortly.  But this time around that is not the case.  The reality is that we are being sucked into an economic black hole from which the U.S. economy will never fully recover.

The problem is debt.  Collectively, the U.S. government, the state governments, corporate America and American consumers have accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.  Our massive debt binge has financed our tremendous growth and prosperity over the last couple of decades, but now the day of reckoning is here.

And it is going to be painful.

The following are 20 reasons why the U.S. economy is dying and is simply not going to recover….

#1) Do you remember that massive wave of subprime mortgages that defaulted in 2007 and 2008 and caused the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression?  Well, the “second wave” of mortgage defaults in on the way and there is simply no way that we are going to be able to avoid it.  A huge mountain of mortgages is going to reset starting in 2010, and once those mortgage payments go up there are once again going to be millons of people who simply cannot pay their mortgages.  The chart below reveals just how bad the second wave of adjustable rate mortgages is likely to be over the next several years….

#2) The Federal Housing Administration has announced plans to increase the amount of up-front cash paid by new borrowers and to require higher down payments from those with the poorest credit.  The Federal Housing Administration currently backs about 30 percent of all new home loans and about 20 percent of all new home refinancing loans.  Tighter standards are going to mean that less people will qualify for loans.  Less qualifiers means that there will be less buyers for homes.  Less buyers means that home prices are going to drop even more.

#3) It is getting really hard to find a job in the United States.  A total of 6,130,000 U.S. workers had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more in December 2009.  That was the most ever since the U.S. government started keeping track of this statistic in 1948.  In fact, it is more than double the 2,612,000 U.S. workers who were unemployed for a similar length of time in December 2008.  The reality is that once Americans lose their jobs they are increasingly finding it difficult to find new ones. 

#4) In December, there were also 929,000 “discouraged” workers who are not counted as part of the labor force because they have “given up” looking for work.  That is the most since the U.S. government first started keeping track of discouraged workers in 1949.  Many Americans have simply given up and are now chronically unemployed.

#5) Some areas of the U.S. are already virtually in a state of depression.  The mayor of Detroit estimates that the real unemployment rate in his city is now somewhere around 50 percent.

#6) For decades, our leaders in Washington pushed us towards “a global economy” and told us it would be so good for us.  But there is a flip side.  Now workers in the U.S. must compete with workers all over the world, and our greedy corporations are free to pursue the cheapest labor available anywhere on the globe.  Millions of jobs have already been shipped out of the United States, and Princeton University economist Alan S. Blinder estimates that 22% to 29% of all current U.S. jobs will be offshorable within two decades.  The days when blue collar workers could live the American Dream are gone and they are not going to come back.   

#7) During the 2001 recession, the U.S. economy lost 2% of its jobs and it took four years to get them back. This time around the U.S. economy has lost more than 5% of its jobs and there is no sign that the bleeding of jobs is going to stop any time soon.

#8) All of this unemployment is putting severe stress on state unemployment funds.  At this point, 25 state unemployment insurance funds have gone broke and the Department of Labor estimates that 15 more state unemployment funds will likely go broke within two years and will need massive loans from the federal government just to keep going.

#9) 37 million Americans now receive food stamps, and the program is expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day.  The United States of America is very quickly becoming a socialist welfare state.

#10) The number of Americans who are going broke is staggering.  1.41 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009 – a 32 percent increase over 2008.

#11) For decades, the fact that the U.S. dollar was the reserve currency of the world gave the U.S. financial system an unusual degree of stability.  But all of that is changing.  Foreign countries are increasingly turning away from the dollar to other currencies.  For example, Russia’s central bank announced on Wednesday that it had started buying Canadian dollars in a bid to diversify its foreign exchange reserves.

#12) The recent economic downturn has left some localities totally bankrupt.  For instance, Jefferson County, Alabama is on the brink of what would be the largest government bankruptcy in the history of the United States – surpassing the 1994 filing by Southern California’s Orange County.

#13) The U.S. is facing a pension crisis of unprecedented magnitude.  Virtually all pension funds in the United States, both private and public, are massively underfunded.  With millions of Baby Boomers getting ready to retire, there is simply no way on earth that all of these obligations can be met.  Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management recently calculated the collective unfunded pension liability for all 50 U.S. states for Forbes magazine.  So what was the total?  3.2 trillion dollars.

#14) Social Security and Medicare expenses are wildly out of control.  Once again, with millions of Baby Boomers now at retirement age there is simply going to be no way to pay all of these retirees what they are owed.

#15) So will the U.S. government come to the rescue?  The U.S. has allowed the total federal debt to balloon by 50% since 2006 to $12.3 trillion.  The chart below is a bit outdated, but it does show the reckless expansion of U.S. government debt over the past several decades.  To get an idea of where we are now, just add at least 3 trillion dollars on to the top of the chart….

#16) So has the U.S. government learned anything from these mistakes?  No.  In fact, Senate Democrats on Wednesday proposed allowing the federal government to borrow an additional $2 trillion to pay its bills, a record increase that would allow the U.S. national debt to reach approximately $14.3 trillion

#17) It is going to become even harder for the U.S. government to pay the bills now that tax receipts are falling through the floor.  U.S. corporate income tax receipts were down 55% in the year that ended on September 30th, 2009.

#18) So where will the U.S. government get the money?  From the Federal Reserve of course.  The Federal Reserve bought approximately 80 percent of all U.S. Treasury securities issued in 2009.  In other words, the U.S. government is now being financed by a massive Ponzi scheme.

#19) The reckless expansion of the money supply by the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve is going to end up destroying the U.S. dollar and the value of the remaining collective net worth of all Americans.  The more dollars there are, the less each individual dollar is worth.  In essence, inflation is like a hidden tax on each dollar that you own.  When they flood the economy with money, the value of the money you have in your bank accounts goes down.  The chart below shows the growth of the U.S. money supply.  Pay particular attention to the very end of the chart which shows what has been happening lately.  What do you think this is going to do to the value of the U.S. dollar?….

#20) When a nation practices evil, there is no way that it is going to be blessed in the long run.  The truth is that we have become a nation that is dripping with corruption and wickedness from the top to the bottom.  Unless this fundamentally changes, not even the most perfect economic policies in the world are going to do us any good.  In the end, you always reap what you sow.  The day of reckoning for the U.S. economy is here and it is not going to be pleasant.

The Feds Were Quick To Bail Out Their Friends At The Big Banks But Are Letting All The Small Banks Die Like Dogs

The Feds Were Quick To Bail Out Their Friends At The Big Banks But Are Letting All The Small Banks Die Like DogsThe massive federal bailouts that Congress passed in 2008 and 2009 were supposed to stabilize the banking system and breathe new life into the U.S. economy.  We were told over and over that the major banks were “too big too fail” and that the U.S. government was helping “Main Street” by giving massive bailouts to Wall Street.  But unfortunately all that is not working out too well.  Instead, the major banks (which got the bailouts) have cut their collective small business lending for the seventh month in a row while the feds are letting all the small banks die like dogs.

The truth is that the major Wall Street banks that had friends positioned in the U.S. government were able to get massive bailouts during the economic collapse of 2008/2009, but all of the small banks that have been so good to so many communities across the United States for so many years are not getting any help.  In fact, there are rumors that they are purposely being allowed to fail.  In 2009, 140 banks and S&Ls failed.  In addition, 31 credit unions went under.  So that makes a total of 171 lending  institutions that were allowed to collapse in 2009.  It is estimated that the bank failures during this financial crisis have already cost the FDIC ten times more than the entire S&L crisis of the 1980s did.

But the crisis is far from over.  In fact, some analysts are now projecting that 200 banks will fail in the U.S. in 2010.

The FDIC is officially in the red and it is rapidly hemorrhaging cash and there is no sign that the bleeding is going to stop any time soon.  Small banks are failing at a rate that is beyond alarming.

But do you know what they are being told when they turn to the U.S. government for help?

They are being told to go find a big bank that is willing to gobble them up.

In fact, there are persistent rumors that the banking system is being consolidated by design.  So if that is the case, expect to see a lot more small banks continue to fail and get gobbled up by the sharks for pennies on the dollar.

Meanwhile, the big boys on Wall Street are being criticized for the gigantic year end bonuses that their top executives will be receiving.  

Life is good if you are a bankster.

So are all of those big Wall Street banks helping out “Main Street” by lending to small businesses?

No way. 

In fact, the biggest banks in the U.S. cut their collective small business lending balance by another $1 billion in November.  That drop was the seventh monthly decline in a row.

The truth is that in modern America, small businesses are incredibly dependent on credit.  For many small businesses, no credit means that they simply will not have the capital to operate.

But the big fat cats who got all of those bailouts have reduced their lending to small businesses each of the past seven months.

So, no, “Main Street” is not reaping the benefits of all of those bailouts.

Apparently the big banks needed to save up cash to pay all of those outrageous bonuses.

So all of the big banks are hoarding cash, and hundreds of small banks are being allowed to die like dogs.

What a mess!

Anyone have any ideas for cleaning it up?

Will Americans Be Able To Handle The Next Great Depression? Not If They Are Anything Like This Guy

Will Americans be able to handle the next Great Depression?  The truth is that most Americans today simply do not possess the strength of character to handle losing their jobs, their homes and the inflated lifestyles that we have all enjoyed by spending beyond our means.  During the Great Depression of the 1930s, things were different.  Family units were much stronger, people knew how to rely on each other and most Americans possessed enough morality and inner strength so that they did not freak out when things went from bad to worse.

But that is not the case in the United States today.  Instead, Americans have become a bunch of spoiled brats who come apart at the seams at the first sign of trouble.  We pushed prayer and the Ten Commandments as far out of public life as we could and instead we filled our minds with literally thousands of hours of character-rotting entertainment.  Now our families are falling apart, we’ve raised entire generations who expect the world to be handed to them on a silver platter, and we’ve got tens of millions of crybabies who don’t have any concept of how to respond to hard times.

But hard economic times are coming.  In fact, for many Americans they are already here.  So how will most Americans respond when they start losing their jobs and their homes?  Well, the truth is that we are already seeing a lot of people “go postal” because they simply do not know how to handle these setbacks.  Just consider the video below.  It is footage of one of the greatest office freakouts of all time.  If you were to get fired tomorrow, would you react like this guy?….  

The reality is that an economic collapse does not have to be the end of the world.  The guy in the video above could have gone out and tried to get another job or start his own business.  But instead he treated it like it was the end of his life and he threw a massive temper tantrum.

Unfortunately, we are likely to see an increasing number of spoiled Americans throw temper tantrums as the economic collapse goes from bad to worse in the years ahead.  The U.S. financial system is literally coming apart at the seams, and at this point there is very little that can be done to prevent a total economic breakdown.

So we are going to see more Americans trash their homes when they are foreclosed upon, we are going to see more Americans commit insurance fraud, we are going to see more Americans “go postal”, we are going to see more Americans freak out in public and we are going to see more Americans turn to crime.

Why?

Because the collective morality of America has experienced a catastrophic collapse.  People care very little about what is right or wrong anymore.  What they care about is what is going to make themselves happy and comfortable.

The only thing that has been keeping the entire U.S. from turning into New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina is the relative level of affluence that we are all still experiencing.  Yes, things are not as good as they were, but the United States still has one of the highest standards of living in the world.

For now.

If you want to get an idea of where the U.S. is headed, go spend a few days in Detroit.  Once one of the shining examples of the American Dream, today many areas of Detroit resemble a war zone.  The real unemployment rate in Detroit is somewhere up around 45 or 50 percent and the crime rate is shooting through the roof.  Vandalism is rampant and some houses in the worst areas are virtually unsellable because they aren’t even worth the taxes that must be paid of them.

When people get desperate, their true character comes out.  When the U.S. financial system completely fails one day, the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted will evaporate in a matter of days.

At that point we will all wish that we had paid a lot more attention to teaching our kids about “character” and “morality”.

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