A lot of people were expecting some really big things to happen in 2015, and most of them did not happen. But what did happen? It is my contention that a global financial crisis began during the second half of 2015, and it threatens to greatly accelerate as we enter 2016. During the last six months of the year that just ended, financial markets all over the planet crashed, trillions of dollars of global wealth was wiped out, and some of the largest economies in the world plunged into recession. Here in the United States, 2015 was the worst year for stocks since 2008, nearly 70 percent of all investors lost money last year, and it is being projected that the final numbers will show that close to 1,000 hedge funds permanently shut down within the last 12 months. This is what the early stages of a financial crisis look like, and the worst is yet to come.
If we were entering another 2008-style crisis, we would expect to see junk bonds crashing. When financial trouble starts, it usually doesn’t start with the biggest and strongest companies. Instead, it usually starts percolating on the periphery. And right now bonds of firms that are considered to be on the risky side of things are rapidly losing value.
In the chart below, you can see that a high yield bond ETF that I track very closely known as JNK started crashing in the middle of 2008. This crash began to unfold before the horrific crash of stocks in the fall. Investors that saw junk bonds crashing in advance and pulled their money out of stocks in time saved an enormous amount of money.
Now, for the very first time since the last financial crisis, we are seeing junk bonds crash again. In December, there was finally a sustained crash through the psychologically-important 35.00 level, and at this point JNK is sitting a bit below 34.00. This stunning decline is a giant red flag that tells us that stocks will soon follow in the exact same direction…
In 2015, Third Avenue Management shocked Wall Street when they froze withdrawals from a 788 million dollar mutual fund that was highly focused on junk bonds. Investors that couldn’t get their money out began to panic, and other mutual funds now find themselves under siege. If junk bonds continue to crash, this will just be the beginning of the carnage.
One of the big reasons why junk bonds are crashing is because of the crash in the price of oil. Over the past 18 months, the price of oil has plummeted from $108 a barrel to $37 a barrel.
There has only been one other time in all of history when we have ever seen an oil price crash of this magnitude. That was in 2008 – just before the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression…
Why can’t people see the parallels?
Crashes are happening all around us, and yet so many of the “experts” seem completely blind to what is going on.
Unlike 2008, the price of oil is not expected to rapidly rebound any time soon. The following comes from CNN…
Crude prices dropped a whopping 35% last year and are hovering around $37 a barrel. That’s a level not seen since the global financial crisis.
It won’t get better any time soon. Most oil experts believe prices will bounce back in late 2016, but they expect more pain first.
Goldman Sachs forecasts that oil will average about $38 a barrel in February, even lower than for most of 2015.
Meanwhile, the prices of industrial commodities have been crashing as well. For example, the chart below shows that the price of copper started crashing hard just before the great financial crisis of 2008, and the exact same thing is happening once again right before our very eyes…
Things are unfolding just as we would expect they would during the initial stages of a new global financial crisis.
And we have already seen a full blown stock market crash in many of the largest economies around the planet. For instance, just look at what has been happening in Brazil. The Brazilians have the 7th largest economy in the world, and Goldman Sachs says that they have plunged into an “outright depression“. In the chart below, you can see the sharp downturn that took place in August, and Brazilian stocks actually kept falling all the way through the end of 2015…
We see a similar thing when we look at our neighbor to the north. Canada has the 11th largest economy on the entire planet, and I recently wrote a lengthy article about the economic difficulties that the Canadians are now facing. 2015 was a very bad year for Canadian stocks as well, and they just kept falling steadily all the way through December…
Of course nobody can forget what happened to China. The Chinese have the second largest economy on the globe, and news about their economic slowdown in making headlines almost every single day now.
Last summer, Chinese stocks crashed about 40 percent, and they did manage to bounce back just a bit since then. But they are still down about 30 percent from the peak of the market…
And there is plenty more that we could talk about. European stocks just had their second worst December ever, and Japanese stocks are down about 500 points in early trading as I write this article.
Here in the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Dow Transports, the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 all had their worst years since 2008. As I mentioned the other day, 674 hedge funds shut down during the first nine months of 2015, and it is being projected that the final total for the year will be up around 1000.
But we aren’t hearing much about this financial carnage on the news yet, are we?
Many people that I talk to still think that “nothing is happening”, but don’t you dare say that to Warren Buffett.
He lost 7.8 billion dollars in 2015.
How would you feel if you lost 7.8 billion dollars in a single year?
The truth, of course, is that signs of financial chaos are erupting all around us. Corporate profits are plunging, the bond distress ratio just hit the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis, and corporate debt defaults have risen to the highest level that we have seen in about seven years.
If you run a business, you may have noticed that fewer people are coming in and it seems like those that do come in have less money to spend. Economic activity is slowing down, and inventories are piling up. In fact, wholesale inventories have now risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession…
Do you notice a theme?
So many things that have not happened in six or seven years are now happening again.
History may not repeat, but it sure does rhyme, and it astounds me that more people cannot see that 2015/2016 is looking eerily similar to a replay of 2008/2009.
Another number that I watch closely is the velocity of money. When an economy is running well, money tends to circulate efficiently through the system. But when an economy gets into trouble, people get scared and start holding on to their money. As you can see from the chart below, the velocity of money declined during every single recession since 1960. This is precisely what one would expect. And of course during the recession that started in 2008, the velocity of money plunged precipitously. But then a funny thing happened when that recession supposedly “ended”. The velocity of money just kept going down, and now it has fallen to an all-time record low…
A big reason for this is the ongoing decline of the middle class. In 2015, we learned that middle class Americans now make up a minority of the population for the first time ever.
But if you go back to 1971, 61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households.
Meanwhile, the share of the income pie that the middle class takes home has also continued to shrink.
In 1970, the middle class brought home approximately 62 percent of all income. Today, that number has fallen to just 43 percent.
As the middle class is systematically destroyed, the number of Americans living in poverty just continues to grow. And those that often suffer the most are the children. It may be hard for you to believe, but the number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.
How in the world can anyone dare to claim that “things are getting better”?
Anyone that says that should be ashamed of themselves.
We are in the midst of a long-term economic collapse that is now accelerating once again.
Anyone that tries to tell you that “things are getting better” and that 2016 is going to be a better year than 2015 is simply not being honest with you.
A new global financial crisis erupted during the last six months of 2015, and this new financial crisis is going to intensify throughout the early months of 2016. Financial institutions will begin falling like dominoes, and this will result in a great credit crunch around the world. Businesses will fail, unemployment will skyrocket and millions will suddenly be faced with economic despair.
By the time it is all said and done, this new financial crisis will be even worse than what we experienced back in 2008, and the suffering that we will see around the world will be off the charts.
So does that mean that I am down about this year?
Not at all. In fact, my wife and I are greatly looking forward to 2016. In the midst of all the chaos and darkness, there will be great opportunities to do good and to make a difference.
What a great shaking comes, people go looking for answers. And I think that this will be a year when millions of people start to understand that our politicians and the mainstream media are not telling them the truth.
Yes, great challenges are coming. But now is not a time to dig a hole and try to hide from the world. Instead, this will be a time for those that have prepared in advance to love others, help others and show them the truth.
What about you?
Are you ready to be a light during the dark times that are coming?
Please feel free to join the conversation by posting a comment below…
It’s official – 2015 was a horrible year for stocks. On the last day of the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down another 178 points, and overall it was the worst year for the Dow since 2008. But of course the Dow was far from alone. The S&P 500, the Russell 2000 and Dow Transports also all had their worst years since 2008. Isn’t it funny how these things seem to happen every seven years? But compared to other investments, stocks had a relatively “good” year. In 2015, junk bonds, oil and industrial commodities all crashed hard – just like they all did just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008. According to CNN, almost 70 percent of all investors lost money in 2015, and things are unfolding in textbook fashion for much more financial chaos in 2016.
Globally, over the past 12 months we have seen financial shaking unlike anything that we have experienced since the last great financial crisis. During the month of August markets all over the world started to go haywire, and at one point approximately 11 trillion dollars of financial wealth had been wiped out globally according to author Jonathan Cahn.
Since that time, U.S. stocks rebounded quite a bit, but they still ended red for the year. Other global markets were not nearly as fortunate. Some major indexes finished 2015 down 20 percent or more, and European stocks just had their second worst December ever.
I honestly don’t understand the “nothing is happening” crowd. The numbers clearly tell us that a global financial crisis began in 2015, and it threatens to accelerate greatly as we head into 2016.
Actually, there are a whole lot of people out there that would be truly thankful if “nothing” had happened over the past 12 months. For example, there are five very unfortunate corporate CEOs that collectively lost 20 billion dollars in 2015…
Five CEOs of companies in the Russell 1000 index, including Nicholas Woodman of camera maker GoPro (GPRO), Sheldon Adelson of casino operator Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and even the famed investor Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA), lost more money on their companies’ shares than any other CEOs this year, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ.
These five CEOs were handed a whopping collective $20 billion loss on their company stock in 2015. Each and every one of these CEOs lost $1 billion or more – based on the average number of shares they’ve owned this year.
The biggest loser of the group was Warren Buffett.
He lost an astounding 7.8 billion dollars in 2015.
Do you think that he believes that “nothing happened” this past year?
And if “nothing happened”, then why are hedge funds “dropping like flies” right now? The following comes from Zero Hedge…
Two days, ago we noted that hedge funds are now dropping like flies in a year in which generating alpha has become virtually impossible for the majority of the vastly overpaid 2 and 20 “smart money” out there (and where levered beta is no longer the “sure thing” it used to be when the Fed was pumping trillions into stocks) when we reported that Seneca Capital, the $500 million multi-strat hedge fund belonging to Doug Hirsh (of Sohn Investment Conference fame), is shutting down.
And just within the last 24 hours, another very prominent hedge fund has collapsed. SAB Capital, which once managed more than a billion dollars, is shutting down after huge losses this year. Here is more from Zero Hedge…
It turns out that despite our intention, the question was not rhetorical because just a few hours later Bloomberg answered when it reported that the latest hedge fund shutdown casualty was another iconic, long-term investor: Scott Bommer’s SAB Capital, which as of a year ago managed $1.1 billion, and which after 17 years of managing money and after dropping roughly 11% in the first eight month of 2015, has decided to return all outside client money, and converting the hedge fund into a family office (after all one has to preserve one’s offshore tax benefits).
Overall, 674 hedge funds shut down during the first nine months of this year, and the final number for 2015 will actually be far higher because the rate of closings has accelerated as we have approached the end of this calendar year. When the final numbers come in, I would not be surprised to hear that 1,000 hedge funds had closed up shop in 2015.
Meanwhile, underlying economic conditions continue to deteriorate.
Corporate profits are steadily falling, the bond distress ratio just hit the highest level that we have seen since September 2009, and corporate debt defaults have risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.
And this week we got a couple of new numbers that indicate that the U.S. economy is slowing down much faster than anticipated.
The first big surprise was the Dallas Fed’s general business activity index…
The Dallas Fed’s general business activity index plunged to -20.1 in December from -4.9 in November. This was much worse than the -7.0 expected by economists.
Any reading below 0 signals contraction, and this index has been below 0 all year.
The next big surprise was the Chicago purchasing manager index…
The Chicago purchasing manager index unexpectedly plunged to 42.9 in December, its lowest reading since July 2009.
Any reading below 50 signals a contraction in business activity.
This was down from 48.7 in November and much worse than the 50.0 expected by economists.
When the final numbers for the fourth quarter are in a few months from now, I believe that they will show that the U.S. economy officially entered recession territory at this time.
And the truth is that deep recessions have already started for some of the other biggest economies on the planet. For example, I recently wrote about the deep troubles that Canada is now experiencing, and things have already gotten so bad in Brazil that Goldman Sachs is referring to that crisis as “an outright depression“.
Many people seem to assume that since I have a website called “The Economic Collapse Blog” that I must want everything to fall apart. But that is not true at all. I love my country, I enjoy my life, and I would be perfectly content to spend 2016 peacefully passing the time here in the mountains with my wonderful wife. The longer things can stay somewhat “normal”, the better it is for all of us.
Unfortunately, for decades we have been making incredibly foolish decisions as a society, and the consequences of those decisions are now catching up with us in a major way.
Jonathan Cahn likes to say that “a great shaking is coming”, and I very much agree with him.
In fact, I think that it is going to be here a lot sooner than most people think.
So buckle up, because I believe that 2016 is going to be quite a wild ride.
The world didn’t completely fall apart in 2015, but it is undeniable that an immense amount of damage was done to the U.S. economy. This year the middle class continued to deteriorate, more Americans than ever found themselves living in poverty, and the debt bubble that we are living in expanded to absolutely ridiculous proportions. Toward the end of the year, a new global financial crisis erupted, and it threatens to completely spiral out of control as we enter 2016. Over the past six months, I have been repeatedly stressing to my readers that so many of the exact same patterns that immediately preceded the financial crisis of 2008 are happening once again, and trillions of dollars of stock market wealth has already been wiped out globally. Some of the largest economies on the entire planet such as Brazil and Canada have already plunged into deep recessions, and just about every leading indicator that you can think of is screaming that the U.S. is heading into one. So don’t be fooled by all the happy talk coming from Barack Obama and the mainstream media. When you look at the cold, hard numbers, they tell a completely different story. The following are 58 facts about the U.S. economy from 2015 that are almost too crazy to believe…
#1 These days, most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. At this point 62 percent of all Americans have less than 1,000 dollars in their savings accounts, and 21 percent of all Americans do not have a savings account at all.
#2 The lack of saving is especially dramatic when you look at Americans under the age of 55. Incredibly, fewer than 10 percent of all Millennials and only about 16 percent of those that belong to Generation X have 10,000 dollars or more saved up.
#3 It has been estimated that 43 percent of all American households spend more money than they make each month.
#4 For the first time ever, middle class Americans now make up a minority of the population. But back in 1971, 61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households.
#5 According to the Pew Research Center, the median income of middle class households declined by 4 percent from 2000 to 2014.
#6 The Pew Research Center has also found that median wealth for middle class households dropped by an astounding 28 percent between 2001 and 2013.
#7 In 1970, the middle class took home approximately 62 percent of all income. Today, that number has plummeted to just 43 percent.
#8 There are still 900,000 fewer middle class jobs in America than there were when the last recession began, but our population has gotten significantly larger since that time.
#9 According to the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
#10 For the poorest 20 percent of all Americans, median household wealth declined from negative 905 dollars in 2000 to negative 6,029 dollars in 2011.
#11 A recent nationwide survey discovered that 48 percent of all U.S. adults under the age of 30 believe that “the American Dream is dead”.
#12 Since hitting a peak of 69.2 percent in 2004, the rate of homeownership in the United States has been steadily declining every single year.
#13 At this point, the U.S. only ranks 19th in the world when it comes to median wealth per adult.
#14 Traditionally, entrepreneurship has been one of the primary engines that has fueled the growth of the middle class in the United States, but today the level of entrepreneurship in this country is sitting at an all-time low.
#15 For each of the past six years, more businesses have closed in the United States than have opened. Prior to 2008, this had never happened before in all of U.S. history.
#16 If you can believe it, the 20 wealthiest people in this country now have more money than the poorest 152 million Americans combined.
#17 The top 0.1 percent of all American families have about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of all American families combined.
#18 If you have no debt and you also have ten dollars in your pocket, that gives you a greater net worth than about 25 percent of all Americans.
#19 The number of Americans that are living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.
#20 An astounding 48.8 percent of all 25-year-old Americans still live at home with their parents.
#21 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans now live in a home that receives money from the government each month, and nearly 47 million Americans are living in poverty right now.
#22 In 2007, about one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps. Today, that number is one out of every five.
#23 According to Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the authors of a new book entitled “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America“, there are 1.5 million “ultrapoor” households in the United States that live on less than two dollars a day. That number has doubled since 1996.
#24 46 million Americans use food banks each year, and lines start forming at some U.S. food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning because people want to get something before the food supplies run out.
#25 The number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.
#26 According to Poverty USA, 1.6 million American children slept in a homeless shelter or some other form of emergency housing last year.
#27 Police in New York City have identified 80 separate homeless encampments in the city, and the homeless crisis there has gotten so bad that it is being described as an “epidemic”.
#28 If you can believe it, more than half of all students in our public schools are poor enough to qualify for school lunch subsidies.
#29 According to a Census Bureau report that was released a while back, 65 percent of all children in the U.S. are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government.
#30 According to a report that was published by UNICEF, almost one-third of all children in this country “live in households with an income below 60 percent of the national median income”.
#31 When it comes to child poverty, the United States ranks 36th out of the 41 “wealthy nations” that UNICEF looked at.
#32 An astounding 45 percent of all African-American children in the United States live in areas of “concentrated poverty”.
#33 40.9 percent of all children in the United States that are being raised by a single parent are living in poverty.
#34 There are 7.9 million working age Americans that are “officially unemployed” right now and another 94.4 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”. When you add those two numbers together, you get a grand total of 102.3 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
#35 According to a recent Pew survey, approximately 70 percent of all Americans believe that “debt is a necessity in their lives”.
#36 53 percent of all Americans do not even have a minimum three-day supply of nonperishable food and water at home.
#37 According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if the U.S. government was actually using honest numbers the unemployment rate in this nation would be 22.9 percent.
#38 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, only about 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.
#39 The labor force participation rate for men has plunged to the lowest level ever recorded.
#40 Wholesale sales in the U.S. have fallen to the lowest level since the last recession.
#41 The inventory to sales ratio has risen to the highest level since the last recession. This means that there is a whole lot of unsold inventory that is just sitting around out there and not selling.
#42 The ISM manufacturing index has fallen for five months in a row.
#43 Orders for “core” durable goods have fallen for ten months in a row.
#44 Since March, the amount of stuff being shipped by truck, rail and air inside the United States has been falling every single month on a year over year basis.
#45 Wal-Mart is projecting that its earnings may fall by as much as 12 percent during the next fiscal year.
#46 The Business Roundtable’s forecast for business investment in 2016 has dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since the last recession.
#47 Corporate debt defaults have risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession. This is a huge problem because corporate debt in the U.S. has approximately doubled since just before the last financial crisis.
#48 Holiday sales have gone negative for the first time since the last recession.
#49 The velocity of money in the United States has dropped to the lowest level ever recorded. Not even during the depths of the last recession was it ever this low.
#50 Barack Obama promised that his program would result in a decline in health insurance premiums by as much as $2,500 per family, but in reality average family premiums have increased by a total of $4,865 since 2008.
#51 Today, the average U.S. household that has at least one credit card has approximately $15,950 in credit card debt.
#52 The number of auto loans that exceed 72 months has hit at an all-time high of 29.5 percent.
#53 According to Dr. Housing Bubble, there have been “nearly 8 million homes lost to foreclosure since the homeownership rate peaked in 2004″.
#54 One very disturbing study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either currently have medical bill problems or are paying off medical debt. And collection agencies seek to collect unpaid medical bills from about 30 million of us each and every year.
#55 The total amount of student loan debt in the United States has risen to a whopping 1.2 trillion dollars. If you can believe it, that total has more than doubled over the past decade.
#56 Right now, there are approximately 40 million Americans that are paying off student loan debt. For many of them, they will keep making payments on this debt until they are senior citizens.
#57 When you do the math, the federal government is stealing more than 100 million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day.
#58 An astounding 8.16 trillion dollars has already been added to the U.S. national debt while Barack Obama has been in the White House. That means that it is already guaranteed that we will add an average of more than a trillion dollars a year to the debt during his presidency, and we still have more than a year left to go.
What we have seen so far is just the very small tip of a very large iceberg. About six months ago, I stated that “our problems will only be just beginning as we enter 2016″, and I stand by that prediction.
We are in the midst of a long-term economic collapse that is beginning to accelerate once again. Our economic infrastructure has been gutted, our middle class is being destroyed, Wall Street has been transformed into the biggest casino in the history of the planet, and our reckless politicians have piled up the biggest mountain of debt the world has ever seen.
Anyone that believes that everything is “perfectly fine” and that we are going to come out of this “stronger than ever” is just being delusional. This generation was handed the keys to the finest economic machine of all time, and we wrecked it. Decades of incredibly foolish decisions have culminated in a crisis that is now reaching a crescendo, and this nation is in for a shaking unlike anything that it has ever seen before.
So enjoy the rest of 2015 while you still can.
2016 is almost here, and it is going to be quite a year…
Once upon a time, “Black Friday” was a major event in the United States. Yes, the mainstream media is still endlessly hyping it up, and major retailers are still rolling out their “incredible deals”, but it appears that most Americans are tiring of this particular gimmick. Or perhaps it is just that U.S. consumers don’t have as much discretionary income as they once did. As you will see below, retail traffic this Black Friday was “much, much slower” than anticipated. And expectations were not great anyway – the number of shoppers was down last year, and it was being projected that there would be another decline in 2015. Yes, there were still a few fights on Black Friday, but mostly the “holiday” was marked by giant piles of unsold merchandise sitting around collecting dust. The inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has surged to levels not seen since the last recession, and so the truth is that most retailers were hoping for much more contrived chaos on Black Friday than we actually witnessed.
Personally, I wish that this whole phenomenon would just simply disappear, because it definitely doesn’t bring out the best in the American people.
Who wants to see fellow citizens trampling one another and fighting with one another for cheaply made electronics that aren’t even manufactured in this country anyway?
Black Friday was always a disgusting spectacle, and now it appear to be fading.
Let’s start with Thanksgiving sales. More stores than ever are opening on Thanksgiving Day itself, and according to SunTrust that was a total “bust” this year…
We believe Thanksgiving shopping was a bust. We note that traffic seemed below last year both on- and off-mall. Members of our team who went to the malls first had no problem finding parking or navigating stores. Crowds were tame and, with some exceptions there seemed to be more browsing than buying and less items purchased. We heard many people discussing that deals were not that compelling compared to years past. Interestingly, many retailers closed at midnight- which contributed to a sharp decline in traffic shortly thereafter. Off-mall, members of our team visited Walmart and Target for the openings and had no problem finding parking. Customers at both were focused on electronics. Lines, even early, were about half of what they were last year and quickly dissipated. The only off-mall big box retailer we visited with consistently long lines and customers making multiple item purchases was Kohl’s — where buys were focused on deals not available online.
Once Black Friday rolled around, things didn’t get any better. For example, one analyst said that traffic at the Mall of America didn’t “look much busier than an average Saturday morning”…
At the Mall of America in Minneapolis, the largest in the country, Edward Yruma, managing director at KeyBanc Capital Markets, said he’s seeing less traffic than years past as well. He was there from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. last night and arrived again at 8 a.m. this morning.
“It doesn’t look much busier than an average Saturday morning,” said Yruma.
And in North Carolina, retailers saw “much less traffic than was anticipated”…
Jeff Simpson, a director at Deloitte Consulting LLP’s retail practice, surveyed shopping centers in North Carolina and saw smaller crowds than expected for Black Friday.
“Across the board, much less traffic than was anticipated,” he said. “Much, much slower.”
Of course this wasn’t much of a surprise. A global recession has already begun, and investors were dumping retail stocks ahead of Thanksgiving in anticipation of a horrible shopping season. The following comes from the New York Post…
Wall Street, fearful that consumers are running out of cash heading into the crucial Christmas retail season, are selling off retail stocks and everything else sensitive to consumer spending.
So why are consumers running out of cash?
Well, it is because the middle class is dying, poverty in America is exploding and the cost of living continues to soar.
Just look at what is happening to healthcare costs. It turns out that employees that work for medium and large companies in the U.S. are now paying more than double for health insurance than they were a decade ago…
Employees of midsize and large companies in 2015 paid an average of $4,700 for their health insurance, up from $2,001 in 2005, according to recent analysis from Aon Hewitt.
For much more on how the cost of living is absolutely crippling families all over this nation, please see my previous article entitled “Inflation Is Crushing The Middle Class“.
Meanwhile, things continue to get worse around the rest of the globe as well. The number of unemployed job seekers just hit a brand new record high in France, Puerto Rico is on the verge of a major debt default, and on Friday there was an absolutely massive stock market decline in China…
In China, equities saw a significant sell off as a result of investigations by the Chinese securities regulatory body into several brokerages for breaking regulations. The Shanghai Composite closed 199 points, or 5.48 percent, lower; the Shenzhen Composite closed 6.1 percent lower, the Chinext was down 6.1 percent, and the CSI300 Index saw a decline of 5.38 percent.
Chinese brokerages took major hits, with Citic Securities, Founder Securities, and China Merchants closing 10.1, 10, and 9.98 percent lower after news broke that the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has launched investigations into these firms to weed out short selling and speculation.
I hope that you enjoyed this Thanksgiving as much as you possibly could, because all of the underlying economic numbers are absolutely screaming that hard times are ahead.
This year, Americans are going to spend an average of $130 on “self-gifting” and more than $800 on the holiday season overall. People are spending money that they don’t have on things that they don’t need, and meanwhile very few of us are actively preparing for what promises to be a very challenging 2016.
So yes, let us enjoy the time that we have with our families, but let us also not be completely oblivious to the huge changes that are literally happening all around us.
Has there ever been a major holiday more focused on materialism than the modern American Christmas? This year, Americans are planning to spend an average of 830 dollars on Christmas gifts, which represents a jump of 110 dollars over the average of 720 dollars last year. But have our incomes gone up accordingly? Of course not. In fact, real median household income in the United States has been experiencing a steady long-term decline. So in order to fund all of our Christmas spending, we have got to go into even more debt. We love to pull out our credit cards and spend money that we do not have on lots of cheap, useless stuff made on the other side of the world by workers making slave labor wages. We do the same thing year after year, and most of us have grown accustomed to the endless cycle of growing debt. In fact, one Pew survey found that approximately 70 percent of all Americans believe that “debt is a necessity in their lives”. But then we have to work our fingers to the bone to try to make the payments on all of that debt, not realizing that debt systematically impoverishes us. It may be hard to believe, but if you have a single dollar in your pocket and no debt, you have a greater net worth than 25 percent of all Americans. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true.
Overall, when you add up all forms of debt (consumer, business, local government, state government and federal government), Americans are more than 60 trillion dollars in debt.
Let that sink in for a bit.
40 years ago, that number was sitting at about 3 trillion dollars.
We have been on the greatest debt binge in the history of the world. Even though we were “the wealthiest, most prosperous nation on the entire planet”, we always had to have more. We just kept on borrowing and borrowing and borrowing from the future until we completely destroyed it.
And we still haven’t learned anything. Instead, this Christmas season we will be partying like it’s 2007…
Americans are planning on celebrating Christmas like it’s 2007.
A November survey by Gallup found that US adults are planning on spending about $830 on average on Christmas gifts this year.
That’s a huge jump from last year’s $720 average.
Notably, American consumers haven’t suggested a number that high since November 2007, when they were planning on spending $866 on average.
Sadly, our incomes simply do not justify this kind of extravagance. As Zero Hedge has pointed out, household incomes “actually peaked at least 15 years ago in 81% of U.S. counties.”
So why can’t we adjust our lifestyles to match?
Why must we always have more?
Here are more details on our declining incomes from the Visual Capitalist…
- Income peaked one year ago for many of the counties that are a part of the shale boom. This includes much of North and South Dakota, as well as parts of Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Income in Washington, D.C. and neighboring Arlington County also peaked then.
- In 1999, a total of 1,623 counties had their households reach peak income. The majority of these counties are in the Midwest and Southeast.
- The most southern part of California and parts of New England both peaked around 25 years ago.
- Many states along the Rocky Mountains such as Wyoming and Montana had counties that peaked roughly 35 years ago.
- Household income peaked in upstate New York, the northern tip of California, and southern Nevada at the same time that humans were first landing on the moon in 1969.
But you won’t hear this reported on the mainstream news, will you?
They want us to think that happy days are here again.
The following chart comes from the Federal Reserve, and it shows that real median household income in the United States has been trending down since 1999…
Americans should be having smaller Christmases instead of bigger ones, but that doesn’t fit the image of who we still think that we are.
Recently, I published an article entitled “Goodbye Middle Class: 51 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than 30,000 Dollars A Year” that was shared more than 44,000 times on Facebook. In that article, I included brand new figures that were just released by the Social Security Administration. As you can see, the quality of our jobs is not great…
-38 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.
-51 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.
-62 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.
-71 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.
Without a doubt, most American families should not be spending hundreds of dollars a year on Christmas gifts.
At these income levels, most American families are just barely surviving.
But once again this year, millions upon millions of Americans will flock to the malls and big box stores in a desperate attempt to make themselves happy.
Sadly, those efforts will be in vain. In fact, in a previous article I highlighted the fact that Christmas is the unhappiest season of the year. The suicide rate spikes to the highest level of the year during “the holidays”, and 45 percent of all Americans report that they dread the Christmas season. The following is an excerpt from a Psychology Today article…
We are told that Christmas, for Christians, should be the happiest time of year, an opportunity to be joyful and grateful with family, friends and colleagues. Yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience the highest incidence of depression. Hospitals and police forces report the highest incidences of suicide and attempted suicide. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals report a significant increase in patients complaining about depression. One North American survey reported that 45% of respondents dreaded the festive season.
In recent years, an increasing number of Americans have given up the tradition of Christmas gifts entirely, and many of them that I know seem quite happy to have done so.
Of course most people are still quite satisfied with the status quo, and there are many that will get very angry with you if you dare to suggest that the way that Americans celebrate Christmas has gotten way out of hand.
But shouldn’t it alarm us that for most Americans the biggest holiday of the year is all about the “stuff” they are going to buy, the “stuff” they are going to give and the “stuff” they are going to get?
As a society, we are obsessed with things, but those things are never going to make us happy.
Perhaps we should all take some time to reflect on the traditions that we choose to participate in and what they really mean to us during this “holiday season”…
Did you know that 11 trillion dollars in global stock market wealth was wiped out during the third quarter of 2015? When I was emailed this figure by a friend, I was stunned for a moment. I knew that things were bad, but were they really this bad? When I first received this information, I had just finished a taping for a television show in which I had boldly declared that 5 trillion dollars of stock market wealth had been wiped out around the world. Unfortunately, the final number has turned out to be much larger than that. Over the past three months, the stock markets of all major global economies have been crashing simultaneously, and 11 trillion dollars of “paper wealth” has now completely vanished. The following comes from Fortune…
Global equity markets suffered a bruising third quarter, shedding $11 trillion worth of global shares over three months, according to Bloomberg.
It was the market’s worst quarter since 2011. The prolonged slump was due to low prices for commodities such as oil, instability in China’s markets, and the anticipation that the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon raise interest rates.
In light of this number, how in the world is it possible that there is still anyone out there that is claiming that “nothing happened” over the past few months?
In China, they sure aren’t claiming that “nothing happened”. Chinese stocks are down about 40 percent from the peak of the market.
In Germany, they sure aren’t claiming that “nothing happened”. As of a few days ago a quarter of all German stock market wealth had been wiped out since the peak earlier this year.
Yes, things have been a bit milder in the United States. So far, stocks are only down about 10 percent or so, but we did see some truly remarkable things happen over the past three months. We witnessed the 8th largest single day stock market crash on a point basis in U.S. history, we witnessed the 10th largest single day stock market crash in U.S. history, and we witnessed the single greatest intraday stock market crash in all of U.S. history. On August 24th the Dow plunged 1,089 points before bouncing back.
But every time the markets have an up day there are all these people running around declaring that “the crash is over”. Well, that is not how financial markets work. They “stair-step” on the way up and they do the same thing on the way down.
And without a doubt, U.S. stocks still have a long, long way to go down.
In recent years, stocks have soared to unbelievably unrealistic levels. One of the most popular methods of measuring the true value of stocks is something called the cyclically-adjusted price to earnings ratio. It was developed by economist Robert Shiller of Yale University, and it attempts to accurately show how much we are paying for stocks in relation to how much those corporations are actually earning. When this number is very high, stocks are overvalued, and when this number is very low stocks are undervalued.
Earlier this year, CAPE hit a peak of about 27, and by the beginning of August it was still sitting up around 26. The only times CAPE has been higher has been just before other stock market bubbles have been burst…
It would take a total drop of about 40 percent from the peak of the market just to get back to average. So far the Dow has fallen about 10 percent or so, so it is going to take another 30 percent crash just to get to a point where stock prices are considered “normal” once again.
Another very common measurement of stock values shows the exact same thing. The ratio of corporate equities to GDP is also known as “the Buffett Indicator” because Warren Buffett loves it so much. When stock prices get very high in relation to the size of the overall economy that is a sign that stocks are overvalued, and when stock prices get very low in relation to the size of the overall economy that is a sign that stocks are undervalued.
The chart below was recently posted by dshort.com and it shows that stock prices would have to fall more than 40 percent just to get back to the historical average (the mean).
Right now, lots of Americans are rushing to get back into the stock market because “September is over” and they figure that stocks are a good value now since they have gone down a good bit.
But as you can clearly see from the charts that I have just shared, U.S. stocks are still a terrible value.
Even if we don’t experience a “black swan event” like a major natural disaster, a large scale terror attack or the collapse of a globally important financial institution in the months ahead, it is inevitable that stocks will go down a lot more at some point. Stocks simply cannot defy gravity forever. These bubbles have always ended in crashes in the past, and the same thing is going to happen again this time.
People that are trying to tell you that “things are different this time” simply refuse to learn from history.
I am writing this piece while waiting for a plane at Denver International Airport. I missed my connection because my first flight was delayed by about an hour. So I am just sitting here watching people walk past. Most of them are just living their lives without any idea of the disaster that is about to hit this country.
Over the past few days I have been reflecting on the fact that our nation has willingly chosen this path. We willingly chose to go into so much debt. We willingly chose to send millions of good paying jobs overseas. We willingly chose to pump up these financial bubbles. We willingly chose to reject the values of our forefathers. We willingly chose men like Barack Obama, Harry Reid and John Boehner to represent us in Washington.
The things that are coming are the logical consequences for decisions that we have collectively made as a nation.
There are still many out there that do not believe that we will have to face any consequences for what we have done.
Unfortunately for all of us, they are not going to have to wait very long at all to see how incredibly wrong they were.
What has been happening on Wall Street the past few days has been nothing short of stunning. On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 358 points. It was the largest single day decline in a year and a half, and investors are starting to panic. Overall, the Dow is now down more than 1300 points from the peak of the market. Just yesterday, I wrote about all of the experts that are warning about a stock market crash in 2015, and after today I am sure that a lot more people will start jumping on the bandwagon. In particular, tech stocks are getting absolutely hammered lately. The Nasdaq has fallen close to 3.5% over the past two days alone, and it has dropped below its 200-day moving average. The Russell 2000 (a small-cap stock market index) is also now trading below its 200-day moving average. What all of this means is that the stock market crash of 2015 has already begun. The only question left to answer at this point is how bad it will ultimately turn out to be.
When stocks were booming, tech stocks were leading the way up.
But now that the market has turned, tech stocks are starting to lead the way down…
The Dow and the S&P 500 are negative for the year. The so-called “FANG” stocks – Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google – were some of the biggest losers, and helped send the Nasdaq more than 2% lower. Biotechs also suffered big losses; the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF fell 4% to a three-month low. The Vix, which gauges market expectations for near-term shifts in the S&P 500, surged more than 21%.
And Twitter is absolutely imploding. It has fallen below its IPO price, and at this point it is now down 65 percent from the peak.
Of course it was inevitable that Twitter and these tech stocks would start falling eventually. I specifically warned my readers about Twitter’s stock price nearly two years ago. I hope people listened to what I was saying and got out in time.
This current market crash is happening in the context of a full-blown global financial meltdown. Stock markets all over the planet are collapsing, and currencies are being devalued left and right. The following comes from a recent piece by Wolf Richter…
Hot money is already fleeing emerging markets. Higher rates in the US will drain more capital out of countries that need it the most. It will pressure emerging market currencies and further increase the likelihood of a debt crisis in countries whose governments, banks, and corporations borrow in a currency other than their own.
This scenario would be bad enough for the emerging economies. But now China has devalued the yuan to stimulate its exports and thus its economy at the expense of others. And one thing has become clear on Wednesday: these struggling economies that compete with China are going to protect their exports against Chinese encroachment.
Hence a currency war.
Two more major shots in the currency war were fired on Thursday by Kazakhstan and Vietnam…
Hit by sharp declines in crude prices, the oil-producing nation of Kazakhstan introduced a freely floating exchange rate for the tenge, which subsequently lost more than a quarter of its value.
The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) devalued the dong (VND) by 1 percent against the dollar on Wednesday—its third adjustment so far this year—and simultaneously widened the trading band to 3 percent from 2 percent previously, the second increase in six days.
A quarter of its value?
Now that is a devaluation.
In the coming days, we are likely to see even more emerging markets devalue their currencies in a global “race to the bottom”. But this “race to the bottom” presents a great danger to financial markets. As I have written about previously, there are 74 trillion dollars in derivatives globally that are tied to the value of currencies. As foreign exchange rates start flying around all over the place, there are going to be financial institutions out there that are going to be losing obscene amounts of money.
I cannot say the “d word” enough. Derivatives are going to play a starring role during this financial collapse, and so that is a word that you will want to be listening for very carefully in the weeks and months to come.
The meltdown that has already been affecting much of the rest of the planet is now starting to affect us. And it was inevitable that it would. I like how Clive P. Maund put it recently…
Many lesser markets around the world are toppling, but somehow the big Western markets of Europe, Japan and the US are staying aloft. If you have ever made a sand castle on the beach and watched what happened when the tide comes in, you will recall that it is the weaker outer ramparts and smaller turrets that collapse first, and the big central towers that hold out the longest. The weaker outer ramparts and smaller turrets are the Emerging Markets which are already crumbling, and it won’t be long until the big central towers – the big Western Markets, go the same way – everything is pointing to it.
The funny thing is that even though all of the signs are pointing to a nightmarish global financial crisis, the mainstream media continues to insist that everything is going to be just fine.
In fact, CNBC says that the recent dip in stock prices is a “bull indicator” and they are encouraging everyone to pour lots more money into stocks.
But of course the truth is that what financial conditions are really telling us is that stocks have much, much farther to fall.
For instance, high yield credit is starting to crash just like it did prior to the stock market crash of 2008. Stocks and high yield credit usually tend to track one another quite closely, and so when there is a divergence that is a huge red flag. And as this chart from Zero Hedge demonstrates, a very large divergence has developed in recent months…
Sadly, the 358 point plunge for the Dow on Thursday was just the beginning.
Yes, there will be up days and down days, but we are now officially entering the “danger zone” as we roll into the months of September and October.
So will 2015 soon be mentioned along with the famous market crashes of 1929, 1987, 2001 and 2008?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
Is the stock market going to crash by the end of 2015? Of course stock market crashes are already happening in 23 different nations around the planet, but most Americans don’t really care about those markets. The truth is that what matters to people in this country is the health of their own stock portfolios and retirement accounts. There are a lot of people out there that are very afraid of what could happen if the money that they have worked so hard to save gets wiped out in a sudden financial collapse. And right now there is an unprecedented amount of buzz about the potential for a giant stock market crash by the end of this calendar year. In fact, I don’t think that I have ever seen more experts come out with bold predictions that a stock market crash will happen within a very specific period of time.
The following is a sampling of some of the experts that have made very bold proclamations about the rest of this year over the past few weeks. Many of these individuals are putting their credibility on the line by proclaiming that a stock market crash is just around the corner…
-Tom McClellan says that we are heading for an “ugly decline” and that there will be “nothing good for bulls for the rest of the year”…
Tom McClellan loves doing what financial advisers tell you not to do. He tries to time the financial markets — to the exact day, if his charts align just right.
At the moment, they are telling him to be bullish on the stock market for all of his trading time frames, including those that trade every few days, weeks and months. But bulls should be ready to flee, as soon as this week.
That’s because McClellan said his timing models suggest “THE” top in stocks will be hit some time between Aug. 20 and Aug. 26. He expects “nothing good for the bulls for the rest of the year,” he said in a phone interview with MarketWatch.
McClellan doesn’t have a strong view on how far stocks could fall, just that it will probably be an “ugly decline” lasting into early 2016.
-Harry Dent recently stated that we are just “weeks away” from a “global financial collapse“.
-Gerald Celente says that “the global economy has collapsed” and he is “predicting that we are going to see a global stock market crash before the end of the year“.
-Larry Edelson insists that he is “100% confident” that a global financial crisis will be triggered “within the next few months”…
“On October 7, 2015, the first economic supercycle since 1929 will trigger a global financial crisis of epic proportions. It will bring Europe, Japan and the United States to their knees, sending nearly one billion human beings on a roller-coaster ride through hell for the next five years. A ride like no generation has ever seen. I am 100% confident it will hit within the next few months.”
-Jeff Berwick, the editor of the Dollar Vigilante, says that there is “enough going on in September to have me incredibly curious and concerned about what’s going to happen“.
-Egon von Greyerz recently explained that he fears “that this coming September – October all hell will break loose in the world economy and markets“.
-Even the mainstream media is issuing ominous warnings now. Just a few days ago, one of the most important newspapers in the entire world published a major story about the coming crisis under this headline: “Doomsday clock for global market crash strikes one minute to midnight as central banks lose control“.
-The Bank for International Settlements and the IMF have jumped on the prediction bandwagon as well. The following comes from a recent piece by Brandon Smith…
The BIS warns that the world is currently defenseless against the next market crisis. I would point out that the BIS has a record of predicting economic crashes, including back in 2007 just before the derivatives and credit crisis began. This ability to foresee fiscal disasters is far more likely due to the fact that the BIS is the dominant force in global central banking and is the cause of crisis, rather than merely a predictor of crisis. That is to say, it is easy to predict disasters you yourself are about to initiate.
It is no mistake that the warnings from the BIS and the IMF tend to come too little too late, or that they are beginning to compose cautionary press releases today that sound much like what alternative analysts were saying a few years ago. The goal of these globalist organizations is not to help people prepare, only to set themselves up as Johnny-come-lately prognosticators so that after a collapse they can claim they warned us all, which can then be used as a rationalization for why they are the best people to administrate the economies of the planet as a whole.
So why are so many prominent voices now warning that a global financial crisis is imminent?
The answer is actually very simple.
A global financial crisis is imminent.
Back on June 25th, I issued a red alert for the last six months of 2015 before any of these other guys issued their warnings.
When I first issued my alert, things were still seemingly very calm in the financial world, and a lot of people out there thought that I was nuts.
Well, here we are just a couple of months later and all hell is breaking loose. 23 global stock markets are crashing, the price of oil has been imploding, a new currency war has erupted, industrial commodities are plunging just like they did prior to the market crash of 2008, a full-blown financial crisis has gripped South America with fear, and junk bonds are sending some very ominous signals.
In the U.S., things are beginning to slowly unravel. The Dow was down another 162 points on Wednesday, and overall we are now down almost 1000 points from the peak of the market. At this point, it isn’t going to take much to push us into a bear market.
So enjoy what is left of August.
September is right around the corner, and if the experts that I mentioned above are correct, then it is likely to be one wild month.