Just Before The Great Recession, Mountains Of Unsold Goods Piled Up In U.S. Warehouses – And Now It Is Happening Again

When economic conditions initially begin to slow down, businesses continue to order goods like they normally would but those goods don’t sell as quickly as they previously did.  As a result, inventory levels begin to rise, and that is precisely what is happening right now.  In fact, the U.S. inventory to sales ratio has risen sharply for five months in a row.  This is mirroring the pattern that we witnessed just prior to the financial crisis of 2008, and it is exactly what we would expect to see if a new recession was now beginning.  In recent weeks, I have been sharing number after number that indicates that a serious economic slowdown is upon us, and many believe that what is coming will eventually be even worse than what we experienced in 2008.

And even though I write about this stuff every day, I was stunned by how rapidly inventory levels have been rising recently.  The following numbers come from Peter Schiff’s website

This comes on the heels of the largest gain in wholesale inventories in more than five years in December.

Inventories rose 7.7% from a year ago in January. Meanwhile, sales only rose by 2.7%. Overall, total inventories were $669.9 billion at the end of January, up 1.2% from the revised December level.

The increase in durable goods inventories at the wholesale level was even starker. These inventories were up 11.7% from January a year ago, and are up 17% from January two years ago, hitting $415 billion, the highest ever.

Businesses don’t like to have excess inventory, because carrying excess inventory is expensive and cuts into profits.  So they try very hard to manage their inventories efficiently, but if the economy slows down unexpectedly that can catch them off guard

There are few indications of economic slowing that are more convincing than an unwanted build in inventories — and that apparently is what’s underway in the wholesale sector.

When inventory levels get too high, businesses often start reducing the amount of stuff they are ordering from manufacturers.

So we would expect the numbers to indicate that manufacturing output is down, and that is precisely what we have witnessed over the last couple of months

U.S. manufacturing output fell for a second straight month in February and factory activity in New York state hit nearly a two-year low this month, offering further evidence of a sharp slowdown in economic growth early in the first quarter.

If manufacturers are making and sending less stuff to businesses, and if businesses are selling less stuff to their customers, then we would expect to see less stuff moved around the U.S. by truck, rail and air.

And wouldn’t you know it, the numbers also tell us that this has been happening too.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

Now it’s the third month in a row, and the red flag is getting more visible and a little harder to ignore about the goods-based economy: Freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – in February fell 2.1% from February a year ago, according to the Cass Freight Index, released today. The three months in a row of year-over-year declines are the first such declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

So there you have it.  Anyone that tries to tell you that the U.S. economy is “booming” is simply not being accurate.

And when you throw in the fact that we just witnessed one of the worst disasters for U.S. agriculture in all of U.S. history, it is easy to understand why the economic outlook for the remainder of 2019 is rather bleak.  One agribusiness company just announced that it will have “a negative pretax operating profit impact of $50 million to $60 million for the first quarter” as a result of all the flooding…

Already suffering from low crop prices and the U.S.-China trade war, Mother Nature has delivered yet another blow to the beleaguered American farmer. Growers in the heartland this year have seen arctic cold blasts, been blanketed by snow and just in the last week were inundated by floods. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., one of the world’s biggest agribusinesses, said Monday that it expects weather disruptions to have a negative pretax operating profit impact of $50 million to $60 million for the first quarter.

Korth said he fears the worst for local farmers, citing a friend who lost 85 cows to flooding and another who sells seeds and has already seen order cancellations.

“It’s going to put a lot of people out of business,” Korth said. “It’s just a terrible deal.”

Unfortunately, the flooding in the middle portion of the country is just getting started.  According to the National Weather Service, we are going to see more catastrophic flooding for the next two months.

As you can see, the elements for a “perfect storm” are definitely coming together, and I encourage everyone to get prepared for rough times ahead.

But many people are not that concerned about a new crisis, because they remember that global central banks were able to pull us out of the fire last time around.

Unfortunately, they may not be able to do it this time.  Just consider the words of the deputy director of the IMF

Major financial institutions may be powerless to prevent the next global economic downturn from tuning into a full-blow recession, the International Monetary Fund has warned.

In a speech on the future of the eurozone, the IMF’s deputy director David Lipton, warned of the depleted power of central banks and governments to combat another sharp economic shock.

“The bottom line is this: the tools used to confront the global financial crisis may not be available or may not be as potent next time” he said.

But I am sure that global central banks will try to patch the system back together again, and at certain moments it may even look like they are having some success.

In the end, however, they will not be able to stop the “Bubble To End All Bubbles” from completely bursting.

It has taken decades of exceedingly foolish decisions to get us to this point, and there is simply no way that we can avoid the day of reckoning that is coming.

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

The Chair Of The Federal Reserve Just Used The Term “Slowdown” To Describe What Is Happening To The U.S. Economy

Now even the Federal Reserve is publicly admitting that the U.S. economy is slowing down.  And that is quite remarkable, because usually the Federal Reserve is extremely hesitant to say that an economic slowdown is taking place.  As I pointed out the other day, in 2008 former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke kept insisting that a recession was not coming, but we found out later that a recession had already begun when he was making those statements.  Normally the Federal Reserve tries very hard to paint a rosy picture of our economic future, and one of the big reasons for that is because they want us to believe that they are doing a good job and that they have everything under control.  So it was quite stunning to hear Fed Chair Jerome Powell use the term “slowdown” to describe what is coming for the U.S. economy on Wednesday…

Citing a more modest outlook for the economy, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday held interest rates steady and signaled it did not plan to raise rates at all this year and would bump them up just once in 2020, providing a road map for a sustained period of easy-money policy.

“The U.S. economy is in a good place,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference, adding policymakers foresee “a modest slowdown, with overall conditions remaining favorable. We see no need to rush to judgment (by lifting or cutting rates).”

Admittedly, he did only say that it would be a “modest slowdown”, and so to most people that won’t sound that bad.

But this is the very first time that Powell has talked like this, and the truth is that the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model is currently forecasting that U.S. growth in the first quarter will be less than half a percent.  Fed officials are hoping that growth will be better in the second quarter, but there is also a very strong possibility that the economy will continue to decelerate.

Because the economy is entering a “slowdown”, the Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday that it does not anticipate any more interest rate hikes for the rest of the year.

Normally Wall Street would experience a huge surge of euphoria upon hearing such news, but stocks were actually down on Wednesday

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed lower on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary-policy announcement dragged Treasury yields lower, pushing bank shares down.

Goldman Sachs led the 30-stock Dow to end the day down 141.71 points at 25,745.67. The S&P 500 closed 0.3 percent lower at 2,824.23. The Nasdaq Composite eked out a gain, closing 0.1 percent higher at 7,728.97.

This certainly could not have been the reaction that the Federal Reserve was hoping for.

Could it be possible that bad news for the U.S. economy is no longer good news for Wall Street?

Without a doubt, we are witnessing a huge wave of pessimism in the business community right now.  Yesterday, I noted that Federal Express is talking as if a global recession had already started, and other corporate leaders are making similar statements.

For example, just consider what the CEO of banking giant UBS just said

The head of UBS was among the latest to blame the world’s backdrop for weaker-than-expected results. CEO Ermotti told a conference in London on Wednesday that it “one of the worst first-quarter environments in recent history,” Reuters reported. The Swiss bank slashed another $300 million from 2019 costs after revenue at its investment bank plunged. Investment banking conditions are among the toughest seen in years, especially outside the U.S., he said.

And the CFO of BMW told investors on Wednesday that BMW’s earnings may be exposed to “additional risks” from the global economy in the months ahead…

“Depending on how conditions develop, our guidance may be subject to additional risks; in particular, the risk of a no-deal Brexit and ongoing developments in international trade policy,” CFO Nicolas Peter said in BMW’s quarterly earnings report Wednesday.

Last, but certainly not least, the co-CEO of Samsung just said that his company is anticipating “slowing growth in major economies” for the remainder of 2019…

“We are expecting many difficulties this year such as slowing growth in major economies and risks over global trade conflicts,” Samsung Co-Chief Executive Kinam Kim said.

Here in the United States, whoever is in the White House at the time usually gets most of the credit or most of the blame for how the economy is performing.

But the truth is that President Trump did not create the financial bubble that caused the boom on Wall Street.

The Federal Reserve did.

And President Trump is not going to be responsible when that bubble bursts either.

The Federal Reserve has far, far more control over the performance of the U.S. economy than either the president or Congress does.  And since the Federal Reserve was initially created in 1913, there have been 18 distinct recessions and/or depressions, and now we are heading into the 19th one.

If we want to finally get off this economic roller coaster ride permanently, we need to abolish the Federal Reserve.  But this isn’t even part of the national political discussion at this point.

However, that could soon change.  In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, we witnessed a huge backlash against the Federal Reserve system.  Eventually that backlash subsided, but now that we are entering a new crisis, perhaps it is time to start dusting off all of those old “End the Fed” signs.

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

FedEx Is Talking As If A Global Recession Has Already Begun – And The Numbers Back That Up

“Slowing international macroeconomic conditions” is just a fancy way to say that the global economy is in big trouble.  For months, I have been warning that economic conditions are deteriorating, and we just keep getting more confirmation that we are facing the worst global downturn since the last financial crisis.  For the second time in three months, FedEx has slashed its revenue forecast for this year.  In an attempt to explain why revenue is declining, FedEx’s chief financial officer placed the blame squarely on the faltering global economy.  The following comes from CNBC

The multinational package delivery service reported declining international revenue as a result of unfavorable exchange rates and the negative effects of trade battles.

“Slowing international macroeconomic conditions and weaker global trade growth trends continue, as seen in the year-over-year decline in our FedEx Express international revenue,” Alan B. Graf, Jr., FedEx Corp. executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in statement.

The use of the word “trends” implies something that has been going on for an extended period of time, and obviously FedEx doesn’t expect things to get better any time soon if they have cut profit projections twice in just the last three months.

And FedEx certainly has a lot of company when it comes to having a gloomy outlook for the global economy.  In one recent article, Bloomberg boldly declared that the global economy is in the worst shape it has been “since the financial crisis a decade ago”

The global economy’s in its weakest shape since the financial crisis a decade ago, Bloomberg Economics analysis shows. And the reminders are all around: China got more affirming evidence of its big slowdown, with industrial output and retail sales softening and a jump in unemployment. The question now is how big that slowdown will be, and what China’s stimulus — and the U.S.-China negotiations — will do to put a floor under it. The Chinese premier pledged Friday that they wouldn’t use quantitative easing or massive deficit spending to ease the pain. Japan got more bad news on manufacturing sentiment and in the hard investment data. Germany, Europe’s growth driver, can’t hide from the daunting external risks. And Turkey just entered its first recession in a decade.

In recent weeks I have been sharing lots of numbers that back up the claim that global economic conditions are getting worse, and over the past few days we got a few more…

-U.S. freight volume has dropped for three months in a row.

-In February, orders for Class-8 freight trucks were down 58 percent from a year ago.

-U.S. manufacturing output was down for a second straight month in the month of February.

-U.S. residential construction spending just plunged for the sixth month in a row.

-Industrial production on a year-over-year basis in Europe has fallen for three months in a row.

When we see numbers like those, normally everyone is screaming “recession” by now.

And retailers continue to shut down at a staggering pace here in 2019.  Sadly, we just learned that Shopko is officially heading for bankruptcy and liquidation

Shopko will liquidate its assets and close all of its remaining locations by mid-June.

The company was unable to find a buyer for the retail business and will begin winding down its operations beginning this week, the company said in statement released Monday. The decision to liquidate will bring an end to the brick-and-mortar business that began in 1962 with one location in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

There is a Shopko about 20 minutes from where I live, and it will definitely be missed.

Meanwhile, things just continue to get even harder for farmers in the middle part of the country.  I wrote about the devastating impact that this historic flooding is having on Midwest farmers a few days ago, and now Fox Business is reporting that all of this flood damage is likely to make our rapidly growing farm bankruptcy crisis even worse…

The number of farms filing for bankruptcy already spiked, following low prices for corn, soybeans, milk and beef, according to analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. In the 12-month period ending in June, 84 farms filed for bankruptcy in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana — double the number over the same period in 2013 and 2014.

Now, some of these farmers have lost their livestock as a result of the devastating flooding. Some farmers, the Times reported, said they’ve been separated from their animals by walls of water, while others are unable to get into town for food and other supplies for the livestock.

We can see so many elements of “the perfect storm” starting to come together, and many believe that events are going to start greatly accelerating in the months ahead.

And as the global economy continues to deteriorate, we could quickly have a giant mess on our hands, because the global financial system is far more vulnerable today than it was in 2008.  Just consider these numbers

Global debt levels have become “higher and riskier” than that of a decade ago, meaning that “another credit downturn may be inevitable”, S&P Global Ratings has warned.

In a report entitled Next Debt Crisis: Will Liquidity Hold?, published on Tuesday (12 March), S&P found global debt has surged by around 50% since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, led by major-economy governments and Chinese non-financial corporates, while global debt-to-GDP ratios have risen to more than 231%, compared with 208% in June 2008.

Shipping companies often feel the effects of an economic slowdown earlier than just about anyone else.  When a lot less stuff is being moved around by truck, rail and air, that should be a clear indication for the rest of us that economic activity is really starting to slow down significantly.

So the fact that FedEx has such a bleak outlook for our immediate economic future is a very ominous sign.

Tough times are ahead, and considering how tense things already are in our country, an economic downturn at this time could ultimately set off a very disturbing chain of events.

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

New Numbers Confirm That The Global Economy And The U.S. Economy Are The Weakest They Have Been Since The Last Recession

Even mainstream economists are admitting that economic activity is slowing down.  And at this point that fact would be very difficult to deny, because the numbers are very clear.  We haven’t faced anything like this in a decade, and many are deeply concerned about what is coming next.  Will it be just another recession, or will it be an even greater crisis than we faced in 2008?  According to Bloomberg Economics, the global economy experienced a “sharp loss of speed” over the course of 2008 and global economic conditions are now “the weakest since the global financial crisis”…

The global economy’s sharp loss of speed through 2018 has left the pace of expansion the weakest since the global financial crisis a decade ago, according to Bloomberg Economics.

Its new GDP tracker puts world growth at 2.1 percent on a quarter-on-quarter annualized basis, down from about 4 percent in the middle of last year. While there’s a chance that the economy may find a foothold and arrest the slowdown, “the risk is that downward momentum will be self-sustaining,” say economists Dan Hanson and Tom Orlik.

This is definitely the worst condition that the global economy has been in since I started The Economic Collapse Blog, and I am personally very alarmed about where things are heading.  The tremendous economic optimism of early 2018 has given way to a tremendous wave of pessimism, and the speed at which the economic environment is changing has stunned a lot of the experts.

In fact, Bloomberg economists Dan Hanson and Tom Orlik openly admit that they are “surprised” by how quickly the global economy has shifted…

“The cyclical upswing that took hold of the global economy in mid-2017 was never going to last. Even so, the extent of the slowdown since late last year has surprised many economists, including us.

Of course the U.S. has not been immune from the changes.  The U.S. economy is rapidly slowing down as well, and this is something that I have been heavily documenting on my website.

And now we have just received more confirmation that the economy is decelerating.  The Atlanta Fed has just updated their GDPNow model yet again, and with this new revision they are now projecting that the U.S. economy will grow at a rate of just 0.2 percent during the first quarter of 2019…

Moments ago we got another confirmation of this, when following the latest retail sales report which saw a dramatic cut to December retail sales even as January surprised modestly to the upside, the Atlanta Fed slashed its Q1 GDP nowcast, and after rebounding modestly from 0.3% to 0.5% a week ago, it has once again slumped, and is now at the lowest recorded level, and just 0.2% away from economic contraction.

This is how the AtlantaFed justified its latest Q1 GDP cut, which as of March 11 was just 0.2 percent, down from 0.5 percent on March 8: “After this morning’s retail sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the nowcast of first-quarter real personal consumption expenditures growth declined from 1.5 percent to 1.0 percent.”

In other words, we are just a razor thin margin away from entering an economic contraction.

Last week, we learned that U.S. job cut announcements were up 117 percent in February when compared to last year.  All of the economic momentum is in a negative direction right now, and it is going to be exceedingly difficult to avert a recession at this point.

And of course a lot of analysts believe that what is coming will be a whole lot worse than just a recession.  The greatest debt bubble in the entire history of our planet is in the process of bursting, and the consequences are going to be absolutely horrific.  I really like how financial expert Egon von Greyerz recently made this point

People must understand that the world has never faced risk of this magnitude. We are now in the final seconds of the global mega bubble, the likes of which the world has never seen before. What will happen next will be worse than the fall of the Roman Empire, much worse than the South Sea and Mississippi Bubbles, and will create a disaster that will dwarf the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The problem is simple to define and is all based around debts and liabilities. At the beginning of this century, global debt was $80 trillion. When the Great Financial Crisis started in 2006, global debt had gone up by 56% to $125 trillion. Today it is $250 trillion.

There is no way that a 250 trillion dollar bubble is going to burst in an orderly fashion.  Essentially, we are looking at the sort of apocalyptic financial scenario that I have been warning about for a long time, and most people have no idea that it is coming.

And if people only listened to the financial authorities, it would be easy to get the impression that everything is going to be just fine.

For example, Fed Chair Jay Powell just told 60 Minutes that the outlook for the U.S. economy “is a favorable one”.  The following comes from Fox Business

Jay Powell, the head of the Federal Reserve, says he does not see a recession hitting the U.S. economy anytime soon.

“The outlook for our economy, in my view, is a favorable one,” Powell said Sunday in an interview with CBS’s Scott Pelley for “60 Minutes.”

If you are tempted to believe Powell, let me remind you of what former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke told Congress in early 2008

“The U.S. economy remains extraordinarily resilient,” the U.S. central bank chief said in answering questions after testifying before the House of Representatives Budget Committee.

Bernanke added that growth will be worse this year. “We currently see the economy as continuing to grow, but growing at a relatively slow pace, particularly in the first half of this year,” he said.

Of course we all remember what happened next.  The U.S. economy plunged into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and we are still dealing with the aftermath of that crisis to this day.

Nobody is going to ring a bell when the next recession starts.  It is just going to happen, and just like last time, most Americans are going to be blindsided by it.

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

U.S. Job Cut Announcements Rise 117 Percent To The Highest Level That We Have Seen In More Than 3 Years

We have not seen anything like this since the last recession.  Layoff announcements are coming fast and furious now, and the speed at which workers are being laid off is shocking a lot of people.  In this day and age, big companies have absolutely no loyalty to their workers.  The moment it becomes financially advantageous for them to start laying off employees, most of them will do it in a heartbeat.  I personally know someone that was an extremely hard worker and that put in extra time and effort for his company for many, many years, but he was just laid off because that is what the number crunchers determined was the right move.  It is a cold, cruel world, and as we witnessed back in 2008, job losses can occur at a pace that is absolutely breathtaking when a recession strikes.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been documenting the numbers that indicate that a major economic slowdown has begun, and we may have gotten the biggest one so far on Thursday.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the number of job cut announcements in February was up 117 percent compared to the same period last year.  The following comes from Fox Business

While many experts and investors are eagerly awaiting data on status of the labor market Opens a New Window. to be released by the government on Friday, a new report shows U.S. employers cut more jobs Opens a New Window. last month than they have in the past 3.5 years.

Even though it is the shortest month of the year, U.S. employers announced plans to cut 76,835 jobs last month, according to a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That’s a 117 percent year-over-year increase, and a 45 percent increase over January’s numbers.

You have to go all the way back to 2015 to find a month that was as bad as February.

Are you starting to see that the momentum for the economy has clearly shifted?

The economic news just keeps getting worse and worse as we roll through 2019, and the retail sector is being hit harder than just about anyone else.

In fact, retailers announced more job cuts in February than any other sector did

The retail sector had the most planned job cuts, with 41,201 so far this year – the highest January-February total since 2009. The industrial goods sector – including some manufacturers – followed with nearly 32,000 cuts announced during the same time period.

The primary reasons employers cited for eliminating positions were restructuring and bankruptcy.

This is being called a “retail apocalypse”, and we are on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closings in a single year.

At this point, retailers have already announced the closure of more than 5,300 stores.  The following list of retailers that have announced that they are shutting down at least 10 locations comes from Business Insider

Payless ShoeSource: 2,500 stores
Gymboree: 805 stores
Family Dollar: 390 stores
Shopko: 251 stores
Chico’s: 250 stores
Gap: 230 stores
Performance Bicycle: 102 stores
Charlotte Russe: 520 stores
Sears: 70 stores
Destination Maternity: 42-67 stores
Victoria’s Secret: 53 stores
Kmart: 50 stores
Abercrombie & Fitch: 40 stores
Christopher & Banks: 30-40 stores
JCPenney: 27 stores
Beauty Brands: 25 stores
Henri Bendel: 23 stores
Lowe’s: 20 stores

And that list doesn’t even include the fact that Amazon is closing all 87 of its pop-up stores.

I have repeatedly warned that we will be facing a future of boarded up windows, empty retail stores and abandoned malls, and it is happening right in front of our eyes.

Of course it isn’t just the retail industry that is rapidly laying off workers.  Here are just a few of the highlights from the workforce reduction announcements that we have seen in recent days…

-Tesla continues to struggle, and they have already laid off 8 percent of their entire workforce.

-Microsoft is cutting approximately 200 jobs in their commercial sales business.

-JP Morgan is steadily shutting down bank branches in lower income neighborhoods.

-We Work has announced that they have let 300 employees go.

-Devon Energy is eliminating about 200 workers.

-Whole Foods is cutting back worker hours.

-Encana has announced that it is laying off 274 workers in the Houston area.

-In North Carolina, Duke Energy has eliminated 1,900 positions.

-Ocwen Financial is planning to lay off approximately 2,000 workers over the course of 2019.

And in my article yesterday, I noted that General Motors is shutting down four major production plants this year.

It’s really happening.

The bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that we have been enjoying is disappearing, and the road ahead is going to be really rough.

On Thursday we also learned that U.S. household wealth has been plummeting.  In fact, the fourth quarter of 2018 was the worst quarter for household balance sheets since the last financial crisis

Americans’ net worth fell at the highest level since the financial crisis in the fourth quarter of 2018 as sliding stock market prices ate into the household balance sheet.

Net worth dropped to $104.3 trillion as the year came to an end, a decrease of $3.73 trillion from the third quarter, according to figures released Thursday by the Federal Reserve. The fall amounted to a drop of 3.4 percent.

An increasing number of families are feeling financially squeezed these days, and many of them are accumulating large amounts of debt as they attempt to keep things going.

But for a lot of Americans that are currently drowning in debt, the end of the road has already been reached.

In an article that I posted yesterday, I noted that an all-time record 7 million Americans are behind on their vehicle payments, 37 million credit card accounts are considered to be “seriously delinquent”, and 166 billion dollars worth of student loans are now in the “seriously delinquent” category.

This is a consumer debt crisis that already surpasses the numbers that we witnessed during the last recession.

Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.  This is very much a developing story, and I will share new numbers with you as I get them in.

We haven’t experienced anything quite like this since 2008, and most Americans are completely unprepared for a new economic downturn.

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

The Trade Deficit Continues To Explode, Factories Continue To Be Closed, And U.S. Jobs Continue To Be Sent Overseas

The long-term trends that are gutting the U.S. economy continue to get even worse.  As you will see below, our goods trade deficit with the rest of the world hit a brand new record high in 2018, and most Americans simply do not understand why this is such a massive problem.  Every year, we buy far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and that means that the amount of money going out of the country far surpasses the amount that is coming in.  This constant outflow of cash is one of the reasons why we are unable to pay our bills, and so we have to keep begging the rest of the world to lend us our money back.  Needless to say, this is one of the big factors that has fueled our 22 trillion dollar national debt.  In addition, when we run absolutely massive trade deficits we lose factories and workers to other countries.  Since China joined the WTO in 2001, the United States has lost more than 60,000 factories.  As factories keep closing down, community after community is being gutted all across America, and without a doubt this is truly a major national crisis.

Many had been hoping that we could start to turn things around, but instead last year was an absolute disaster.

According to the Commerce Department, our goods trade deficit with the rest of the world was 891.3 billion dollars in 2018.  That was a 12.4 percent increase from the year before, and it represented a brand new all-time record high.

If we stay on this path, it is a recipe for national economic suicide.  We will continue to be unable to pay our bills, we will continue to have to beg the rest of the world for increasing amounts of money, and our national debt will continue to explode.

And of course countless numbers of factories will continue to shut down and countless numbers of workers will continue to lose their jobs.

We can see this happening all around us, but most Americans are not mentally connecting the factory closings and the layoffs to our horrific trade deficit.  On Wednesday, the very last vehicle rolled off the assembly line at the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio

General Motors is ending production at its Lordstown, Ohio plant Wednesday — two days earlier than previously expected.

A GM (GM) spokesperson said that’s when the plant will churn out its last Chevy Cruze sedan. At that point, the factory will be unallocated, which means no vehicles will be assigned to that facility.

That factory is just the first of four U.S. factories that GM is shutting down this year.

Needless to say, a lot of those workers don’t know what they are going to do next.  One worker that had worked at the plant for 17 years said that seeing that last car roll off the assembly line “was a kick in the gut”

Signs with sayings such as ‘Save this Plant’ were scattered outside the plant where about 100 workers gathered to say goodbye in the cold.

‘It’s frustrating,’ said Jeff Nance, who has worked at Lordstown for 17 years. ‘I’m angry and bitter. Watching that last car go by was a kick in the gut.’

In the end, Lordstown is probably destined to become another rotting, decaying shell of a town just like we have seen happen to so many other formerly great communities in the Rust Belt.

Of course it isn’t just big corporations like GM that are cutting jobs.

Right now, small businesses are getting rid of workers at the fastest pace that we have seen in more than five years.  A major economic slowdown is here, but most Americans still don’t seem to realize what is happening.

In recent days, there had been some optimism that a new trade deal with China would soon bring some positive momentum to the economy, but the status of that deal is very much up in the air.

And the U.S. military seriously angered China this week when they flew two B-52 bombers over disputed airspace in the South and East China Seas…

Two US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress long-range bombers, based in Guam, participated in “routine training missions” on Monday by flying through the disputed airspaces over the South and East China Seas. As one bomber “conducted training in the vicinity of the South China Sea,” the other practiced off the coast of Japan in “coordination with the US Navy and alongside our Japanese air force,” US Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the trade war between Canada and China continues to escalate as well

Canada’s largest grain processor said Tuesday that Beijing has canceled its registration to ship canola seed to China, fueled by the arrest of a top executive for the Chinese tech giant Huawei, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The move suggests that rising diplomatic tensions between China and Canada are damaging commerce between the two countries. Tensions have already crushed hopes that senior officials in Ottawa and Beijing would develop further trade ties.

As long as the U.S. and Canada are holding Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, relations with China are going to continue to deteriorate.

And the truth is that the U.S. and Canada are not going to let her go.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy continues to slide toward a new recession, and even the president of the New York Fed is now warning that economic conditions are likely to slow down “considerably” this year…

The US economy should slow “considerably” in 2019 as the boost from last year’s economic stimulus fades, the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank said Wednesday.

Amid economic uncertainty, the Federal Reserve could “wait” before raising interest rates again, John Williams said in remarks to the Economic Club of New York.

There is a reason why everyone seems so pessimistic about the economy right now.  All of the numbers say that another recession is coming, and it may arrive a lot sooner than most people had anticipated.

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

Investors Brace For Impact As The Cancer That Is Ravaging “The Real Economy” Starts To Spread

2019 sure has been a weird year so far.  On Wall Street, everything has been coming up roses for investors up to this point.  Stock prices have risen more than 10 percent year-to-date, and the horrible crashes of late last year are quickly fading from memory.  Meanwhile, the real economy is literally falling to pieces right in front of our eyes.  Debt delinquencies are at unprecedented levels, bankruptcies are soaring, retail stores are closing at a record pace, this is the worst economy for farmers since the early 1980s, exports are plummeting and a brand new real estate crisis has now begun.  Economic cancer is rapidly spreading throughout our country, and the U.S. economy is deteriorating at the fastest pace that we have seen since the last recession.  So how long will it be before Wall Street catches up with economic reality?

The retail industry is being hit particularly hard.  At the end of last week, major retailers announced 465 store closings in a single 48 hour period…

The ‘retail apocalypse’ is alive and well this week with major chains such as Gap, JCPenney, Victoria’s Secret and Foot Locker all announcing massive closures, totalling the death of more than 465 stores over the last 48 hours.

And those closings already bring the grand total for 2019 to “a whopping 4,309 store closures”

That builds on recent store closure announcements by Gymboree, Payless ShoeSource, Charlotte Russe and Ann Taylor parent company Ascena Retail, to name a few. A whopping 4,309 store closures were announced by retailers just in the first two months of this year, Coresight Research said in a research note on Friday. That’s well ahead of the number of announcements the market research firm was tracking this same time a year ago, it said.

The term “retail apocalypse” is being thrown around so frequently these days that it has almost lost its meaning, but the worst is yet to come.

Meanwhile, layoffs are starting to come fast and furious now.  For example, I was recently made aware of major job cuts that just happened in North Carolina

Duke Energy Corp. eliminated 1,900 positions in its latest round of job reductions, largely through voluntary buyouts but with some involuntary layoffs included.

For the first time since the last recession, I think that it is time to start visiting sites like Daily Job Cuts on a regular basis once again.  Millions of Americans lost their jobs in 2008 and 2009, and a lot of you can still remember how painful that was.

In the middle of the country, the big news is “the farm apocalypse”.  Last week, we learned that farm debt has now jumped 30 percent since 2013…

“Farm debt has been rising more rapidly over the last five years, increasing by 30% since 2013 – up from $315 billion to $409 billion, according to USDA data, and up from $385 billion in just the last year – to levels seen in the 1980s,” Perdue said in his testimony to the House Agriculture Committee.

As a result of this giant mountain of debt, a ton of small and mid-size farms are going under.  As I noted the other day, farm debt delinquencies have now reached the highest level that we have witnessed in 9 years.

I really, really don’t understand the people that are telling us that everything is going to be okay.

Everything is not okay, and things are getting worse with each passing day.  ISM’s manufacturing survey just hit the lowest level in 26 months, and for a whole bunch more extremely ominous economic numbers please see my previous article entitled “18 Really Big Numbers That Show That The U.S. Economy Is Starting To Fall Apart Very Rapidly”.

Of course it isn’t just the U.S. that is hurting.  Up north, Canada is literally teetering on the brink of recession

The Canadian government shocked the professional financial and economic media with their latest fourth quarter GDP release showing the economy has essentially come to a grinding halt at 0.1% growth.

And over in Europe, things are arguably even worse.  Germany is supposed to have the strongest economy in the entire region, but they are also right on the brink of recession

The country’s economy just escaped entering recession territory last month, with GDP growing at just zero percent following a 0.4 percent contraction in the previous three-month period. But Germany could be just weeks away from a recession-threatening double whammy as a potential no-deal Brexit and Donald Trump’s warning to hike car tariffs by up to 25 percent could send the economy tumbling. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ministers have entered into a frantic plan to avert an economic catastrophe which could end Europe’s biggest economy’s golden growth for a decade.

This is a global economic slowdown, and many believe that it will be even worse than what we experienced in 2008.

But as I have previously warned, we aren’t just heading toward an economic storm.  Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, and that includes our governmental institutions.

On Sunday, we learned that the House Judiciary Committee is opening an investigation into obstruction of justice by President Trump.  The following comes from Reuters

The House Judiciary Committee will seek documents from more than 60 people and organizations as it begins investigations into possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Donald Trump, the panel’s chairman said on Sunday.

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler told ABC’s “This Week” the panel wanted documents from the Department of Justice, the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, among others.

This is going to be a year of great governmental shaking.  And no matter which side emerges victorious from the legal struggles and from the election of 2020, the truth is that our governmental institutions will never be the same again.

From 2016 through 2018, America experienced a time of relative peace and prosperity, and a lot of people out there were convinced that this bubble of unsustainable false prosperity could continue indefinitely.

Now it is becoming very clear what is ahead of us, and a lot of people are starting to freak out.

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

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