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Hopium: How Far Can Irrational Optimism Take The U.S. Economy?

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Thought Bubble - Public DomainIf enough people truly believe that things will get better, will that actually cause them to get better?  There is certainly something to be said for being positive and thinking that anything is possible.  And as Americans, optimism seems to come naturally for us.  However, no amount of positive thinking is ever going to turn the sun into a block of wood or turn the moon into a block of cheese.  Any good counselor will tell you that one of the first steps toward recovery is to stop being delusional and to come to grips with how bad things really are.  When we deny reality and engage in irrational wishful thinking, we are engaging in something called “hopium”.  This is a difficult term to define, but the favorite definition of hopium that I have come across so far goes like this: “The irrational belief that, despite all evidence to the contrary, things will turn out for the best.”  In hundreds of articles, I have documented how the U.S. economy is mired in a long-term decline which is about to get a lot worse.  But most Americans see things very differently.  In fact, according to a brand new CNN/ORC poll, 52 percent of Americans describe the U.S. economy as “very” or “somewhat good”, and more than two-thirds of all Americans believe that the U.S. economy will be in “good shape” a year from right now.  But if you asked most of those people why they are so optimistic, they would probably mumble something about “Obama” or about how “we’re Americans and we always bounce back” or some other such gibberish.  Well, it’s wonderful that so many people are feeling good and looking forward to the future, but are those beliefs rational?

We witnessed a perfect example of this “hopium” on Wednesday.  Sales at McDonald’s restaurants have been in decline for quite a while, and the numbers for the first quarter of 2015 were just abysmal

The ubiquitous burger-and-fries chain said US sales, the largest share of global income, fell 2.6 percent from a year ago for comparable outlets.

Sales in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region dropped 8.3 percent, helping bring overall global sales down 2.3 percent, “reflecting negative guest traffic in all segments,” the company said.

Total revenue sank 11 percent to $5.96 billion in the quarter to March 31, and net income plunged 32.6 percent to $812 million, or 84 cents a share (-31 percent).

So you would think that the stock price would have tanked on Wednesday, right?


Thanks to news that a “turnaround plan” would be announced on May 4th, McDonald’s stock actually skyrocketed

McDonald’s closed up 3.13 percent after spiking more than 4.5 percent in early trade as investors cheered a turnaround plan expected on May 4. However, the fast food chain’s earnings missed on both the top and bottom lines.

This is pure hopium.  Why don’t McDonald’s executives just tell us what the plan is now?  But instead, the mystery of a “secret turnaround plan” gives people just enough hope to keep the stock from tumbling – at least for the moment.

And of course there are all sorts of other stocks that are being massively inflated by hopium right now.

Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate, I was taught that a price to earnings ratio of more than 20 was really, really high.

But these days that is the norm on Wall Street, and at the moment there are quite a few stocks that actually have price to earnings ratios that are greater than 100

There are 10 stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500, including industrial giant General Electric, video-streamer Netflix and oil and gas explorer Cabot Oil & Gas that are trading for 100 times their diluted earnings the past 12 months excluding extraordinary items, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ.

And if you can believe it, General Electric has a PE on its training earnings of more than 200

Take General Electric, the industrial giant that’s swiftly selling off banking assets so it can return to its manufacturing roots. GE sports a PE on its trailing earnings of 227, says S&P Capital IQ.

This is completely and totally irrational.  General Electric is a giant mess and is being very badly mismanaged.  But investors continue to pay a massive premium for GE stock because they hope that things will turn around eventually.

Look, hope will get you a lot of things in life, but it won’t put money in your pockets or dinner on the table.

Our politicians and the mainstream media continue to sell us hard on the idea that things are getting better in America, but meanwhile our economic infrastructure continues to decay.  Just check out what is happening in the steel industry

United States Steel Corporation issued layoff notices to 1,404 workers in the latest sign of struggle for the American steel industry. The missives went out in recent days to workers producing pipe and tube products that are used in the oil and gas sector. Job cuts could come as early as June for 17 to 579 employees at a plant in Lone Star, Texas, 166 at a factory in Houston, 255 at a mill in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and 404 managers across the company’s tubular operations nationwide.

Since last June, the company has informed 7,800 employees of potential job cuts, a tally from Pittsburgh Business Times indicated. U.S. Steel spokeswoman Sarah Cassella said the ongoing layoffs are the result of “challenging market conditions and global influences in the market including a high level of imports, reduced prices for oil and natural gas and reduced steel prices.”

A little over a month ago, I published an article entitled “10 Charts Which Show We Are Much Worse Off Than Just Before The Last Economic Crisis” in which I demonstrated that we are in far worse economic shape than we were just prior to the last recession, and now another great economic crisis is at our door.

Unfortunately, most Americans have no idea what is going on out there.  Most of them get their news from the giant propaganda matrix that very tightly controls the flow of ideas and information in this country.  This is something that I explain on my new DVD.  Six colossal corporations control over 90 percent of the news, information and entertainment that Americans consume, and that gives them an awesome amount of power.

And right now that propaganda matrix is assuring the American people that everything is going to be just fine.

Well, they better be right.  Because if not, they are going to have millions of people extremely angry with them when things really start falling to pieces.

  • GSOB

    Postmillennialism is not mere wishful thinking.

    • Tim

      Postmillennialism most definitely is wishful thinking. It’s unbiblical. How can you read the articles on this site and conclude that conditions in the world are getting better? They are not getting better. They’re getting worse and will continue to get worse.

      “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:13

      This won’t change until Jesus Christ returns and rules the earth with a rod of iron during the millennium.

      “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:9

      • Lakeland

        If Jesus rules the world and free will is finally removed (which it has to be to get rid of supposed sin) then really what was all of this? A giant experiment by god?

        Most christians say there is evil in the world because of god allowing us to have free will and make a choice. Same with getting “saved”. Choosing to worship and believe in god or not believing and accepting jesus.

        So if according to the bible god establishes his kingdom on earth eventually would he not be creating the very thing the bible said he did not want: automatons who worship him with no free will and no choice?

        So I ask what is the point for all the pain and suffering on the earth right here, right now? What was the point in the past? Why not just establish your kingdom now? How many more evil deeds and acts and plans must happen before god decides enough is enough?

        Our planet is chock full of all the sins and wickedness that existed before god decided to flood the entire planet and start over.

        So I ask what on earth is he waiting for. The stock answer is: god has his own time table and we cannot understand god because he works in mysterious ways and we humans are just too full of ourselves to understand his ways.

        Which is interesting because in the bible god seems to have many of the same human emotions that we have: jealousy, anger, wrath…..

        I am just tired of the trite and lame bible quotes, same this and that being expressed with no thought whatsoever put into it. I just really want a valid answer.

        • Catman

          Many near death experiencers say everything was explained to them, that everything has it’s purpose, is interconnected and it all made sense. But they were not permitted to return with this information. I think when we see what happened between God and Satan before humans were created a lot of light will be shed on why each person has spent their life in this world as they have. All the why questions have answers, but I believe the explanation between the question and the answer looks something like a huge, complicated math problem with multiple variables that no human can solve. It doesn’t mean there’s no answer. Okay, no verses quoted; that’s just my take on the mysteries you mentioned.

          • gfmucci

            I agree. Even in this life I, as most, have had “ahaaa” moments, wondering why I never saw a reason or a solution for something. In the grander realm, most humans are truly so full of ourselves that we discount the possibility that we are not yet capable or ready to understand. Success, wealth, and power especially create this blindness. (Yippee, no verses.)

        • Glory

          God has patience. He waited for you and I now he is waiting for others. God wants all to come to repentance and be saved. One day the door to the ark will be shut.

          • ted

            New people are born every single day so if god is waiting on all to come to repentance and be saved then that day will never come as they will always be new people that need to hear the word of god, repent and get saved. Why can’t christians understand this simple fact when they quote the above as a trite reason for jesus not returning yet?

      • GSOB

        Oh, you of little faith.

  • Mike Smithy

    Hopium is a political narcotic that is way over rated.

  • LifeandLiberty

    There will be no collapse until Obama leaves office and when it does collapse just after he leaves office it will be unimaginably devastating and Obama will not get the blame.

  • GSOB

    For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

  • Mondobeyondo

    McDonalds’ secret turnaround plan sounds a lot like the secret sauce they use on their Big Macs. Very mysterious.

    Yeah, this country is hooked on hopium. It’s different than being naturally optimistic, which I believe most Americans are. But this optimism and exuberance are highly irrational. Makes you wonder if everyone’s been attending a few too many Optimist International meetings (yes, it is a real group.) The sad truth, folks, is – it really isn’t that great out there.

    “Blue skies, smilin’ at me
    Nothing but blue skies, do I see…..
    Never saw the sun shining so bright
    Never saw things going so right
    Rainy days, all of them gone
    Nothing but blue skies from now on”

    – “Blue Skies”, 1929

    • old fart

      A chicken in every Pot, Happy days are here again, ( 1930s )

      • LIZ THE SHIZ

        today it’s Pot in every chicken or whatever cannabis recipe you can think of Happy days are here again DUDE

    • MichaelfromTheEconomicCollapse

      I like that song. :0


    • big e

      Hey Mondo, quick question…did you find a job?

  • DesertPaine

    Normalcy bias

  • K

    This is why the majority of experts, never see it coming. Call it what you will. I just call it losing contact with reality.

    • JRL

      Ypi just defined GED chair Janet Yellen

  • Heisenberg

    “52 percent of Americans describe the U.S. economy as “very” or “somewhat good””

    Half of Americans rely on a government check. Why would they care what the economy is doing? They don’t. Any why are they being surveyed? They don’t care if the muslim raises taxes. They’re not paying them. The economy is always “somewhat good” as long as your EBT card gets reloaded every month.

    • JRL

      Many Americans are stupid and live in denial about the economy.

  • GetReal4U2

    the collapse is coming this September…it’s about to hit the fan…

    • Crat

      Why September? Serious question!

      • Horse

        google “Shemitah” that’s what he’s talking about
        when he says it’s going to happen in september.
        The 7 year cycle.

  • Genada

    It’s possible to have conflicting ideas be possible at the same time. For a segment of the population everything is fine and things are looking to be getting better. For a different part of the population, things have stagnated or they are in decline. It can indeed be the best of times and the worst of times at the same time depending on which group you fall into.

    During the depression of the 1930’s it was impossible to deny the reality of the situation. We have conditions that are close to those times but they are hidden. ECB cards have replaced soup lines. We pay people that should be employed to not work so that they are not seen wondering the streets looking for work. The conditions and the problems are all just below the surface if one cares to look but one has to want to look, people do not want to do so and would rather be distracted.

  • SSS

    How Far Can Irrational Pessimism and Madness Take Snyder’s Mind?

    • retired22

      We may be reaching the end of the line for fractional reserve central banking & unsupported paper money issued as debt!
      You want the one game breaker that trumps all of the other problems coming our way?
      The factor that will break the Global Economy is extreme leverage of debts which can never be repaid,…we will end with massive defaults.
      The only way that could be avoided is with constant growth forever which is impossible!

    • Robert

      SSS. Kindly use facts and figures and references for your objections. What is the good news using facts and figures?

  • SSS

    All of you are just spoiled rich kid. Lost some benefits, some car and you blame the government and people surround.

  • SSS

    You should open your eyes and realize that you are far better living standard compared to other people in other country

    • Genada

      That’s a excellent point but realizing that shouldn’t mean one should accept your standard of living being driven down to match the lower levels in other countries.

      It’s been a debate about the American standard of living for a long time now and would it need to go down or would those of others raise to meet it. Most Americans would not like to see their’s go down to match lower standards in other countries.

      • SSS

        Ah ha, you realize it. So shut the hell up, stop being a kid and try your best to live your life. It is better to try rather than try to blame your government

        • Genada

          Seeing as how it is government policy which has been the main agent for the negative outcomes that have taken place for a large portion of the American society, I would think they should be blamed. If not the government then who would you suggest?

          It’s a misconception that a large amount of people are not trying to live their lives and better themselves. Most are doing so and many are just asking that the government quit impeding them from doing so.

          I would suggest you try to be more civil and not toss around insults so freely. It does little to further your cause and is a poor debate tactic.

          • SSS

            You guys just stand there and wait for eternity for economic collapse and Jesus regime. How about all of you develop a wonderful video game to enjoy that experience

          • The Devil

            Wanna bet your soul?

    • john

      you are right, usa people got their good time and now the music is finished. they were fat and cupid. what they hell did they think? did they really thought they could get more and more at the expenses of others.? (USA is called an opportinist country by 96 percent of the world population)

      people should get a clue. sometimes you have more, sometimes you have less.

  • SSS

    There will be no economic collapse, no WWIII, nothing and never will be Jesus rule. Go to sleep and have my good luck for having those wet dreams

  • Illegal

    The US national anthem should be changed to Que Sera Sera. Whatever will be, will be … the future is not ours to see. A pretty hopeless and fatalistic outlook on life.

  • tom

    I have been reading this blog for three years. Did you guys ever think this guy is WRONG!!! This is classic “sky is falling” talk. we are going to a have a recession again and Michael will say I told you so.

    • jox

      I’m not a religious person. I don’t believe that because the lack of moral in society we deverve an apocallipsis, and we need to pray to our Lord.

      On the contrary, I’m a scientific person and I base my opinions on data. Michael Sydner has written a lot of well documented articles that in my opinion are a solid argument. And not only him. More people in english and spanish blogs are doing the same kind of analysis.

      This is not ‘the classic sky is falling’. This is sound analysis based on hard data, demonstrated again and again with charts and trends. You are free to think otherwise and ignore it, at your own risk.

  • Priszilla

    It’s called faith in the saviour. Just pray and everything will be fine.

  • Selaretus

    Hopium: Most people refuse to believe in the rational outcome of our completely unsustainable economic system and prefer to believe the same lies they been told a hundred times rather than a new truth that is based on the facts.

    • retired22

      Thomas Edison once was quoted as saying,
      “5% of the people think,..10% think that they think,..& the other 85% would rather die then think”!

      • JRL

        The same Thomas Edison who ripped off inventor Nikoa Tesla?

        • retired22

          The same Edison!
          Tesla had some ideas that were good for the public but bad for the business elites.This was the ultimate sin for an inventor,…to cost the establishment money!

  • Horiboyable .

    Its mostly the media’s fault. The BBC Breakfast is more of a chit chat format with no serious news at all. It has been stuffed with eye candy skirt who chit chat about celeb’s dress colour and old wives tails. ITV Breakfast show is pathetic and Sky is only marginally better. RT is good in some areas but really has become a propaganda mouth piece of Putin, if you want real news you have to watch AJ English

    • JRL

      Yahoo news to pretty middle of the road.

  • SunnyFlaSnotress

    Mike is wrong. McDonalds isn’t running on Hopium. Their Key Statistics are quite good. Their Net Profits are quite good. Just because a company’s profit declines or they aren’t experiencing growth, doesn’t mean they aren’t doing just fine for the time being.
    Then Mike jumps to a generalization that many companies are running on hopium.. well that’s the crux of what many stocks have always run on.. If they didn’t need/want money/investors they would be private companies.
    Yes, the financial sector and many companies have overdone themselves.
    I’m not saying all is good, but I’d like to see more charts/statistics on the major companies over a historical period vs. running around hanging black crepe.

    • GSOB

      They need to speed up their service and use drones to deliver. Burgers in the sky. Fries in your eye.

  • jox

    Did you know this? US paratroopers have started training national guard units in Ukraine, despite Moscow’s warnings that it could destabilise the peace process with Russia-backed rebels in the east of the country. Last week, Canada announced it would station about 200 troops in western Ukraine from the summer until March 2017 to help train soldiers there. A group of 35 military personnel from the UK began training Ukrainian forces in medicine and defensive tactics in the southern city of Mykolaiv in March.

    Published in small corners of the press. Americans and British don’t need to know that their governments are pulling them into another vietnam.

    Every single day is more evident that USA wants and need desesperately a full war un Ukraine.

    • grumpyhillbilly

      War is what our leaders want. Russia right now is the primary leader in the resistance to one world order, and lesser extent a bump in the road for Biblical endtimes due to its support of Syria and Iran. Who’d a thunk the Rapture activist crowd and megalomaniac one worlders would have anything in common? Then you have the extra perk of a world war putting off financial disaster, or taking blame for the collapse (all depends what comes first). Poor dreamers. They’ve no clue what they have gotten themselves into. Well it’s not like the soft, drugged up, gender confused American kids can fight a war. We’re so going to lose despite the likelihood of using our nukes. Good times ahead. I think I can understand why some rather get hopeful about icky Big Macs.

      • Frank frankly

        Change the point of view: The imperium is about to decay, so its last will is, that its most hated competitor (Russia) wont take its place. Netter making a ince allied imperium (China) to the new shining star and profit from them because they are depending on the US. They wont start a war in Ukraine, as long as they can weaken Russia another way

    • Fireplace 1

      That is bullish for “defense” stocks.

    • Horiboyable .

      The poor country Poland has just spent 9 Billion $ on the Patriot Missile system. The USA has agreed to loan a system until the deal is signed. Source is Zero Hedge

    • Gay Veteran

      no war profits without war

    • JRL

      Why are we paying for this nonsense? What a waste.

  • SunnyFlaSnotress

    That article doesn’t mention McDonalds once. I’m no McDonalds lover but from what you show me, I don’t see McD being a particular mooch, though I’m not appreciating low interest rates in general that corporations are enjoying,.. but that’s the government’s doing.

  • Max

    “…they are going to have millions of people extremely angry with them when things really start falling to pieces.”

    Exactly. Which is why “they” have been in preparation and currently executing those preparations in plain sight.

  • underaged

    … probably further than irrational pessimism.

  • Frank frankly

    I got a correction to the media: Actually they do not specifically say everything is fine most of the time, they just don’ let you know that there is something really going wrong in our country. By not mentioning the real news people think theres nothing bad in the presence which makes them more optimistic too.

  • Randy Townsend

    “Our politicians and the mainstream media continue to sell us hard on the idea that things are getting better in America, but meanwhile our economic infrastructure continues to decay.” Brilliant! Yet, what do you expect when we have a President that has accomplished nothing in his life other than be elected to office? No business experience, no expertise in anything related to money, defense, NOTHING. What else can he do but be a salesman? Hopium – brilliant!

    • Nemnor

      It really do NOT matter who is in the WH. Regardless to the experience of the President, the USA (and the World ) will continue to decline towards total collapse/chaos.

      The MAIN root of the issue is – the world-wide Capitalist system itself – that is now decadent and has reached a “dead end” and is NOT able to create long-term recovery, by economic means alone. NO more long-term “boom”.

      Eventually, the world-wide Capitalist system will bring about WW-III – as the ultimate distraction from the economic woes plaguing the system, and as a way to “reset”/”revive” the decadent system through a “reconstruction boom” (IF we survive WW-III). This is the reason the USA and other leading western countries are provoking Russia and also aim at “making” both Russia and China the “enemies”.

      The permanent solution is obvious to any honest and reasonable person.

      • Nemnor

        i.e. …It really does NOT matter….

      • JRL

        TRUMP 2016!!

    • JRL

      Can’t go against Obama and his agenda or its considered “racist”

  • Antonio Ossa


  • JY

    Another term for hopium – cognitive dysfunction.

  • watchmannonthewall

    I doubt that anyone 63 years ago when Norman Vincient Peale wrote “The Power of Positive Thinking” and when 29 years later his disciple Robert Schulller wrote “Self Love” realized the two doctrines taught by them would merge to become the governing principle in the United States by 2015, if not before. Satan might have known, however.
    The two doctrines have merged into one religion and brought us to the point where only positive things are acceptable for the majority of the Narcissistic among us.
    David Wilkerson had this to say about this ongoing development in his book “The Vision (1973); this is before the “Self Love” doctrine was taught!
    “Confusion for Positive Thinking Preachers- Those who preach that all success is the end result of positive thinking are going to find there is another side of the coin…Those who have minimized the soveriegnty of God and who have subtituted mental attitudes for reformed hearts will be exposed as false teachers. Positive thinking without godly living offers no hope[ium] in time of world and personal crises.” (p.25) Is this true? I believe so! What do you think?

  • Nemnor

    “52 percent of Americans describe the U.S. economy as “very” or “somewhat good”.

    The results of that poll may or may not be accurate. A poll taken by another institute could show a different result.

    Also, keep in mind that, just like the FAKE unemployment figures put out by the government, polls can sometimes be “machinated’ (arranged) in such a way, to increase the chance that you get the DESIRED results.

  • Nemnor

    Randy Townsend, you said – “…what do you expect when we have a President that has accomplished nothing in his life other than be elected to office? No business experience, no expertise in anything related to money, defense, NOTHING. What else can he do but be a salesman?…”.

    However, what you are NOT yet aware of is that – It really does NOT matter who is in the WH. REGARDLESS to the experience of the President, the USA (and the World ) will continue to decline towards total economic collapse/chaos.

    The MAIN root of the issue is – the world-wide Capitalist system itself – that is now decadent and has reached a “dead end” and is NOT able to create long-term recovery, by economic means alone. There will be NO more long-term “boom” (except for what I am about to say) .

    Eventually, the world-wide Capitalist system will bring about WW-III – as the ultimate distraction from the economic woes plaguing the system, and as a way to “reset”/”revive” the decadent (decaying) system through a “reconstruction boom” (IF we survive WW-III). This is the reason the USA and other leading western countries are provoking Russia and also aim at “making” both Russia and China the “enemies”.

    The permanent solution is obvious to any honest and reasonable person. The solution begins with a fundamental change away from Capitalism, to a sustainable alternative system that addresses the ABUNDANT needs of the “rational’ individual.

  • Richard

    “And if you can believe it, General Electric has a PE on its training earnings of more than 200…”

    And what is the PE if I can’t believe it?

  • GSOB

    Go run and hide. Yes, for you would both lose in any debate on this subject about the gospel not being a race issue. There is no Jew or Gentile in the Church of God. (No longer any distinctions because Christ has made them both in one new man.)
    Read your bible. You may have your background and the Jews have theirs, but the new birth by the Holy Spirit is neither of him who wills or who runs, but of God, who shows mercy.
    That new life is Christ in you. That is the highest peak of the Divine revelation. Christ is the riches of Gods grace to His elect.
    This does not negate the necessity of the believers believing, on the contrary, it necessitates it.
    Get a life.

  • SunnyFlaSnotress

    New link. Well done!

  • Heinrich van Rooi

    52 percent of America describe the U.S economy as very or some what good they said …. Guess what it only grew 0.2% in the first quarter where the market expected a 1% growth . As I said very earlier today and I quote. I don’t think the GDP of developed countries will do very well further on..We have seen consumer spending better then expected but still weaker as previous quarters . Business and construction spending falling of a cliff…

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