18 Signs That We Are Facing A Record Breaking Economic Implosion In 2020

In just six weeks, the entire global economy has completely come apart.  All over the world we are seeing numbers fall faster than we ever have before, and the outlook for the rest of the year is exceedingly bleak.  Fear of the coronavirus is going to paralyze global trade for the foreseeable future, and the lockdowns in some nations will last for many months to come.  Here in the United States, some states are attempting to make an effort to “reopen”, but in most instances that will involve “multiple stages”.  Meanwhile, tens of millions of Americans have already lost their jobs, much of the population has already run through their meager savings, and financial institutions are becoming extremely tight with their money.  Even if COVID-19 disappeared tomorrow, our momentum would still take us into an economic depression, but of course this virus isn’t going to disappear any time soon.  After 9/11 our society evolved into an anti-terror state, and COVID-19 is going to permanently alter our society as well.  So anyone that was hoping for a quick “return to normal” can forget it, because “normal” is about to be completely redefined.

The pace at which economic conditions have deteriorated in recent weeks has been absolutely breathtaking, and the numbers just keep getting worse and worse.

The following are 18 signs that we are facing a record breaking economic implosion in 2020…

#1 According to economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal, the April jobs report will show that the unemployment rate in the United States is now above 16 percent.

#2 U.S. manufacturing orders just crashed by the most ever.

#3 U.S. gasoline consumption just dropped to the lowest level ever recorded.

#4 Light vehicle sales in the U.S. just fell to the lowest level that we have seen since the early 1970s.

#5 The government program that was supposed to get small businesses through this crisis has been a tremendous failure

According to the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey released Monday, which surveyed 2,200 small business owners across America, while the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program was instituted to give them a lifeline through the coronavirus and economic shutdown, only 13% of the 45% who applied for the PPP were approved.

#6 The “coming meat shortages” are already here.  According to the New York Post, Costco is now rationing meat and Kroger is warning customers of very serious supply problems…

Costco on Monday said it will be limiting customers to just three packages of meat per shopper, while Kroger supermarkets posted an alert on the meat section of its website warning that it may have limited inventory “due to high demand.”

Grocers have been bracing for a run on meat in mid-May as major meat processing plants, including Tyson Foods, have been forced to shut down production. But the shortages appear to have come earlier than expected as consumers worried about the meat shortage have been stocking up, experts say.

#7 Global smartphone shipments were down 11.7 percent in the first quarter compared to a year ago.  That represents the fastest drop on record.

#8 Hong Kong just recorded the worst economic contraction in the city’s entire history.

#9 U.S. consumer spending was down 7.6 percent during the first quarter of 2020.

#10 American Airlines posted a loss of 2.2 billion dollars during the first quarter of 2020.

#11 It looks like retail giants Neiman Marcus, J. Crew and JC Penney are all headed for bankruptcy.

#12 Fox Business is reporting that Hertz is preparing to file for bankruptcy due to plunging car rental ridership.

#13 Gold’s Gym field for bankruptcy on Monday.

#14 Edmunds is projecting that auto sales in the United States this month will be down by more than half compared to April 2019.

#15 In Mexico, manufacturing activity is falling at the fastest pace ever recorded.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

While few have lofty expectations for economic performance with the global economy still largely shutdown, what is happening in Mexico is simply unprecedented. Here are some striking observations detailing the unprecedented economic collapse of the southern US neighbor, courtesy of Goldman.

Business confidence declined sharply in April (the seventh consecutive monthly decline) with the index now sitting deep within pessimist territory. The Manufacturing and Services PMIs also fell sharply in April, and are now at the lowest levels on record.

#16 More than 30 million Americans have already lost their jobs, and economists are projecting that millions more will lose their jobs in the weeks ahead.

#17 In March, U.S. home sales declined by double digit percentages in every region of the country.

#18 White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett is warning that U.S. GDP could fall by up to 30 percent during the second quarter of 2020.

For investors, the good news is that stock prices have bounced back quite a bit after the initial crash, and many market optimists are hoping that this Fed-fueled rally will keep on rolling.

But others are warning that this is a trap for bullish investors, and Kevin Smith is openly telling everyone that this could be the “last chance to sell” before another huge move downward…

The stock market may be flashing some ridiculously bullish signals, but hedge fund bear Kevin Smith is sticking by his prediction that the Dow and S&P 500 are on the verge of a Great Depression-level crash.

In fact, the Crescat Capital founder warns, this is your “last chance to sell” before the impending collapse.

We shall see what happens, but for the moment the financial markets are doing their best to try to defy economic reality.

Unfortunately, economic reality is hitting most Americans like a ton of bricks right now.  We are in the middle of the greatest spike in unemployment that the United States has ever seen by a very wide margin, and most of the jobs that have been lost are never coming back.

And as bad as things are already, the truth is that this is just the beginning.

A whole lot more pain is on the way, and it is going to shake our nation to the core.

Our economic and financial bubbles lasted far longer than they should have, but now fear of COVID-19 has burst them all, and it isn’t going to be possible to reinflate them this time around.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all many people as we possibly can.

About One-Fifth Of All The Jobs In The U.S. Are Already Gone, And This Economic Depression Is Just 6 Weeks Old

In all of U.S. history we have never seen anything like this.  I have been sitting at my desk for quite a while searching for the proper words to convey the gravity of what we are facing, and to be honest it has been quite a struggle.  On Thursday, we learned that another 3.8 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week.  That was much higher than many experts were anticipating, because by now the initial surge of unemployment caused by the coronavirus lockdowns should have started to fade quite a bit.  But instead, the job loss tsunami continues to roll on, and at this point a total of 30.3 million Americans have filed new claims for unemployment benefits over the past six weeks.  The following comes from ABC News

Roughly 30.3 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the six weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors and slash their workforces. That is more people than live in the New York and Chicago metropolitan areas combined, and it’s by far the worst string of layoffs on record.

According to numbers that come straight from the Federal Reserve, more than 152 million Americans were working in February, and that was an all-time high.

So losing 30.3 million jobs in six weeks means that nearly one-fifth of all jobs in the United States have officially vanished in just a month and a half.

And actually things are even worse than that, because millions of Americans still have not been able to successfully file claims because state unemployment websites have been so overloaded.  Just check out these truly alarming numbers from the Economic Policy Institute

The Economic Policy Institute found that for every 10 people who said they successfully filed a jobless claim in the previous four weeks, three to four more attempted to apply but couldn’t get through the system to file a claim.

Meanwhile, another two people didn’t even bother to try because it seemed too hard.

State unemployment websites were never designed to handle this sort of an onslaught.  For some unemployed Americans, attempting to get the benefits that they have been promised can be an exceedingly frustrating experience

Marci Oberst sat down at her computer Tuesday and embarked on what’s become a daily ritual – trying to log onto the Maryland Department of Labor’s website so she can extend her unemployment insurance.

At 9:30 AM, she was number 88,000 in line, according to the state’s labor website.

Number 88,000 in line?

How is that even possible?

Sadly, this is what an economic collapse looks like, and the months ahead are going to be exceedingly painful.

Needless to say, economic activity has come to a virtual standstill during these lockdowns, and this is really starting to show up in the numbers.  For example, Edmunds is projecting that U.S. auto sales will be down by more than half compared to last April…

The car shopping experts at Edmunds say that April will be a record down month for the auto industry due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, forecasting that 633,260 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 7.7 million. This reflects a 52.5% decrease in sales from April 2019, and a 36.6% decrease from March 2020. Edmunds analysts note that this is the lowest-volume sales month dating back to at least 1990; the second worst month for sales in the past 30 years was January of 2009, when 655,000 vehicles were sold.

And major retailers are failing so rapidly now that it is hard to keep up with all the carnage.

The latest major victim to make headlines is J. Crew

Clothing apparel company J. Crew is preparing for a bankruptcy filing that could come as soon as this weekend, people familiar with the matter tell CNBC.

Privately held J. Crew is working to secure $400 million in financing to fund operations in bankruptcy, said the people, who requested anonymity because the information is confidential. They cautioned that timing could still slip, and plans are not yet finalized.

COVID-19 has created an environment of great fear, and as I have been warning for a very long time, financial institutions tighten the flow of credit in such an environment.

We saw this happen during the last financial crisis, and it is starting to happen again now.

All over America we are seeing lending conditions being greatly tightened, and Wall Fargo just announced that they will no longer be taking applications for HELOCs at all

Wells Fargo, one of the largest home lenders in the U.S., is stepping away from the market for home equity lines of credit because of uncertainty tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

The bank informed its mortgage personnel of the news Thursday in a conference call, according to a source, and the move was confirmed by company spokesman Tom Goyda.

I was absolutely floored when I first read that.

Our entire system depends on easy credit, and these changing conditions are going to create quite a bit of chaos for the foreseeable future.  Americans are going to find that it is much, much more difficult to be approved for home loans, auto loans and credit cards, and that is going to greatly depress economic activity.

Fear is also deeply affecting U.S. consumers, and at this point they are hoarding cash at a pace that we haven’t seen since the 1980s

Americans are so nervous about the state of the economy that they are stashing cash in the bank at a rate not seen since the first year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

The United States government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday morning that the savings rate surged to 13.1% in March — up from 8% in February.

But of course there are tens of millions of Americans that have already run through their savings and can’t hoard cash because they don’t have any left.

According to one brand new survey, many of those Americans now find themselves unable “to pay the rent, mortgage or utility bills”…

The coronavirus’ seismic hit on the U.S. economy is rattling people’s finances. Roughly 41% of working-age adults say their families have experienced a job loss, a decrease in work hours or other employment-related declines in income in recent weeks, according to a new analysis by the Urban Institute.

Underscoring the jump in financial distress around the country: More than 4 in 10 of Americans whose work was affected by the pandemic said they weren’t able to pay the rent, mortgage or utility bills; skipped medical care; or were at risk of going hungry.

Fear of COVID-19 turned out to be the “black swan event” that burst our debt-fueled economic bubble, but this economic depression would not end even if the coronavirus pandemic suddenly disappeared tomorrow.

Now that the economic dominoes are tumbling, all of the economic momentum is taking us in just one direction, and nobody is going to be able to reverse this process now that it has started.

Next week, a couple more million unemployed Americans will probably be added to our rapidly growing total, and it is just a matter of time before “great civil unrest” starts breaking out.

Our debt-fueled economy and our Ponzi scheme financial system were never going to be sustainable in the long run, and many have been warning for years that we would eventually be facing this sort of a scenario.

Now it is here, and I wish that I could tell you that everything is going to be okay and that our leaders are going to be able to put the pieces of our shattered economy back together, but I can’t.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all many people as we possibly can.

The Economic Numbers That Are Coming Are “Going To Be The Worst In The Post-World War II Era”

We just witnessed the largest quarterly GDP decline since the last financial crisis, and experts are warning that the figure for the second quarter will be far, far worse.  In fact, as you will see below, one expert is telling us to brace ourselves for the worst economic numbers “in the post-World War II era”.  On an annualized basis, U.S. GDP fell by 4.8 percent during the first quarter, and that was a bit worse than most economists were projecting.  And economists were also surprised that consumer spending was down 7.6 percent and business investment was down 8.6 percent during January, February and March.  Under normal circumstances, those would be absolutely horrible numbers, but these are not normal circumstances.  Yes, January and February were relatively normal, but the coronavirus shutdowns began in March and that is why these numbers are so dismal.

Unfortunately, it looks like the economic numbers for the second quarter are going to be much more depressing.  One economist that was interviewed by the New York Times believes that they will actually be the worst that our nation has seen since the end of the Second World War…

“They’re going to be the worst in our lifetime,” Dan North, chief economist for the credit insurance company Euler Hermes North America, said of the second-quarter figures. “They’re going to be the worst in the post-World War II era.”

And at this point even the Trump administration is publicly admitting that the economic numbers are going to start getting really, really bad.  On Monday, Kevin Hassett actually told CNBC that U.S. GDP could fall by up to 30 percent on an annualized basis during the second quarter…

On Monday morning, the White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett warned the second quarter could reflect a 20 to 30 percent decline – something that has not been seen since the 1930s Great Depression.

‘You’re looking at something like minus 20 percent to minus 30 percent in the second quarter. It’s a very grave shock and it’s something we need to take seriously,’ he told CNBC.

But we don’t have to wait until three months from now for numbers that are truly horrific.

On Wednesday, we learned that U.S. home sales in March were down by double digits in every region on the country

Signed contracts to purchase existing homes, referred to as pending home sales, fell 20.8% compared with February and were 16.3% lower annually, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Regionally, pending sales fell 14.5% in the Northeast for the month and were 11% lower than a year ago. In the Midwest, sales decreased 22% monthly and 12.4% annually. In the South sales dropped 19.5% for the week and 17.8% annually, and in the West they fell 26.8% weekly and 21.5% compared with a year ago.

Some states are attempting to gradually “reopen” their economies, and that is good news.

But the bad news is that officials are telling us that all of the restrictions in big states such as California and New York will not be lifted until many months from now, and that is going to greatly depress economic activity for the foreseeable future.

With economic activity so low, companies all over America are laying off workers at a staggering rate.  More than 26 million Americans have lost their jobs so far, and the layoffs just keep on rolling.  For example, we just learned that Uber is planning to let thousands of employees go

Executives at Uber are discussing plans to cut around 20% of the company’s employees, as it copes with a sharp decline in its ride-hailing business due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports The Information.

Layoffs of that magnitude, which haven’t been finalized but could be announced in stages in the coming weeks, could result in more than 5,400 of Uber’s 27,000 employees losing their jobs.

Of course it isn’t just the United States that is facing an unprecedented unemployment crisis.

According to the International Labour Organization, close to half of all the workers in the world “are in immediate danger of losing their livelihoods”…

Some 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy, representing nearly half of the global labour force, are in immediate danger of losing their livelihoods due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday.

The U.N. agency’s latest report sharply raised its forecast for the devastating impact on jobs and incomes of the COVID-19 disease, which has infected more than 3.1 million people globally, killed nearly 220,000 and shut down economies.

This is one of the biggest reasons why lockdowns all over the globe need to be ended as quickly as possible.  If people are not allowed to make a living, they aren’t going to have anything to feed their families.

Even in the United States, we have already seen an explosion of need that is absolutely shocking.  All over the country, people have been lining up for miles to get whatever food that local food banks are able to give them, and we witnessed more examples of this growing phenomenon on Tuesday

Masses of cars waited in line for the drive-thru food giveaway in Pico Rivera, California, as volunteers sporting face masks, gloves and high-vis jackets helped dish out supplies.

Over in Prospect, vehicles were seen snaking through the Big Butler Fairgrounds. It comes as millions of people across America lose their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic and households have been thrown into turmoil.

If things are this bad already, what is this nation going to look like as we get even deeper into “the perfect storm”?

In recent days I have been writing quite a bit about the coming “meat shortage” that the mainstream media has been warning about, and now we are being told that a serious shortage of boneless chicken is already upon us

Goodbye, boneless chicken.

Food retailers across North America are swapping boneless chicken legs for less popular thighs and drumsticks as a wave of shutdowns at meatpacking plants has reduced supplies of sought-after cuts.

As I discussed yesterday, President Trump has decided to order meat processing facilities that were closed down because of COVID-19 to reopen, and many are hoping that this move will put a quick end to the shortages.

But on Wednesday the mainstream media was full of stories about how meat processing workers may decide to defy President Trump and refuse to go back to work…

Meat-processing plant workers are concerned about President Donald Trump’s executive order that compels plants to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic. Meat plant employees are among America’s most vulnerable workers, and some say they expect staff will refuse to come to work.

“All I know is, this is crazy to me, because I can’t see all these people going back into work,” said Donald, who works at Tyson’s Waterloo, Iowa, facility. “I don’t think people are going to go back in there.”

If fear of COVID-19 keeps a substantial percentage of workers from returning to their jobs, that could cause the emerging meat shortages to get even worse in the weeks ahead.

Of course fear of the coronavirus is paralyzing many sectors of our economy right now, and that is not going to end any time soon.

So we should expect really dismal economic numbers for the foreseeable future, and it appears exceedingly unlikely that there will be any sort of a turnaround before the election in November.

America’s next economic depression has begun, and it is going to be really, really painful.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all many people as we possibly can.

Are You Ready For The Great Depression Of The 2020s?

For those of you that were expecting just a “deep recession”, I am afraid that you are going to be very disappointed.  It took years for the U.S. economy to fully unravel in the 1930s, but now we have witnessed a similar level of economic devastation in just a matter of weeks.  More than 26 million Americans have already lost their jobs, economic activity has come to a standstill, people are lining up for miles at food banks all over the nation, and businesses are being permanently shuttered at a staggering pace.  But the good news is that some states will attempt to “reopen” their economies in the weeks ahead.  In most instances, there will be several stages before all of the restrictions are finally lifted, and that means that economic suffering will be stretched out for an extended period of time.  And of course if cases and deaths start spiking again we could see another wave of strict lockdowns all over the country, and needless to say that would greatly escalate this economic downturn.

At this moment, so many hard working people all over America are deeply hurting.

I personally know people that have lost their jobs, and you probably do too.  And because virtually nobody is hiring right now, it is going to be exceedingly difficult for newly unemployed workers to find other jobs.

Because it has an economy that is so dependent on the entertainment industry, Nevada is being hit particularly hard by this downturn.  The New York Times spoke to one Nevada resident named Valicia Anderson, and she hardly knows anyone that is still actually working

When Valicia Anderson starts to count the people she knows in Las Vegas who have lost their jobs, she runs out of fingers fast.

Her husband, the breadwinner of her family and a restaurant worker in the Rio casino. All 25 of his co-workers. Her grown son, in a temp agency. The technician who does her nails. The barber who cuts her husband’s hair. Her best friend, a waitress. The three servers and a manager at the TGI Friday’s that is her family’s favorite treat.

It has been estimated that the current unemployment rate in the state is “about 25 percent”, and that number is almost certainly going to go higher in the months ahead.

Down in Texas, they are also dealing with an oil crash at the same time that they are wrestling with this coronavirus pandemic, and this has created the worst budget crisis that the city of Houston has ever seen

On the same day that the price for U.S. crude oil fell to about $30 below zero — a mind-bending concept and the first time oil prices had ever turned negative — Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, the self-proclaimed energy capital of the world, stood before reporters. His words were grim and muffled by the black mask covering his face.

The mayor announced that city employees would soon be furloughed, but he declined to say how many. The Houston Zoo, he said, could expect to see funding deferred under what he called “the worst budget that the city will deal with in its history.”

The high paying energy industry jobs that fueled an incredible real estate boom in Texas are now disappearing by the thousands, and it is being reported that many of those that are being laid off are learning the news “during painful Zoom sessions from home”

Thousands of energy workers, some of whom only lately moved to the region to take advantage of the recent prosperity, have been laid off. Many of them were told the bad news during painful Zoom sessions from home.

Warning letters from energy companies have been flooding the Texas Workforce Commission about layoffs and furloughs: 3,500 at Halliburton, 223 at Tenaris, 184 at Baker Hughes, 102 at Diamond Offshore Drilling, 95 at Energy Transfer.

By the way, when did Zoom become such a big thing?

It seems like so many people are using it now, and I don’t understand why it is so popular.

Perhaps my readers will help me to understand this.

Getting back to the economy, at this point even the Trump administration is admitting that the unemployment rate will soon be approaching levels that “we saw during the Great Depression”

White House senior advisor Kevin Hassett says US economy is in “grave situation” and the unemployment rate could be hitting the same numbers seen during the Great Depression due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re going to be looking at an unemployment rate that approaches rates that I think we saw during the Great Depression,” Hassett told ABC’ ‘The Week’ on Sunday.

Let’s put that into perspective for a moment.

During the last recession, we thought that things were really, really bad when the unemployment rate got up to about 10 percent.

But back in 1933 the unemployment rate peaked at 25 percent, and now we are being told that we should expect something similar here in 2020.

Wow.

And of course low income Americans are being hit harder than anyone else.  Just check out these numbers

Most Americans support stay-at-home restrictions to protect public health. And yet the burden of the country’s shutdown is disproportionately falling on those least prepared to handle it: About 52 percent of low-income Americans say they or someone in their household has experienced job upheaval, compared to 43 percent of the broader adult population, the Pew Research Center found. Only 23 percent of low-income Americans say they have enough emergency funds to last them three months.

Hopefully as some states attempt “reopenings” it will help to slow down this enormous tsunami of unemployment.

But as I pointed out the other day, millions of Americans are now making much more money being unemployed than they did when they were working, and so that is going to provide an incentive for millions of Americans to stay unemployed for the foreseeable future.

And even if all of the coronavirus restrictions in the entire country were lifted tomorrow, fear of the coronavirus would cause economic activity to be greatly depressed for many months to come.

As I discussed yesterday, the meat processing industry is a perfect example of this.  Meat processing facilities are being shut down all over the nation, and one expert just told NBC News that we should expect shortages of meat in our grocery stores “around May 1″…

Beef, chicken and pork could be as scarce as toilet paper soon because so many meat processing plants have been temporarily shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, industry experts are warning.

“We’ve just completed our third week of reduced slaughter and production,” Dennis Smith, a commodity broker/livestock analyst with Archer Financial Services in Chicago, said. “My guess is that about one week out, perhaps around May 1, shortages will begin developing at retail meat counters.”

So many of the things that we have been warning about for a long time are starting to happen, but most Americans still do not grasp the seriousness of this crisis.

All of the economic dominoes are starting to fall, and even if the remainder of this pandemic goes much more smoothly than anticipated, it will not fundamentally alter our current economic trajectory.

The “Everything Bubble” lasted far longer than it should have, but now that it has burst the pain is going to be absolutely immense.

And it is those at the bottom of the economic food chain that are going to be hit the hardest.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all many people as we possibly can.

Too Big To Fail?: 10 Banks Own 77 Percent Of All U.S. Banking Assets

Back during the financial crisis of 2008, the American people were told that the largest banks in the United States were “too big to fail” and that was why it was necessary for the federal government to step in and bail them out.  The idea was that if several of our biggest banks collapsed at the same time the financial system would not be strong enough to keep things going and economic activity all across America would simply come to a standstill.  Congress was told that if the “too big to fail” banks did not receive bailouts that there would be chaos in the streets and this country would plunge into another Great Depression.  Since that time, however, essentially no efforts have been made to decentralize the U.S. banking system.  Instead, the “too big to fail” banks just keep getting larger and larger and larger.  Back in 2002, the top 10 banks controlled 55 percent of all U.S. banking assets.  Today, the top 10 banks control 77 percent of all U.S. banking assets.  Unfortunately, these giant banks are also colossal mountains of risk, debt and leverage.  They are incredibly unstable and they could start coming apart again at any time.  None of the major problems that caused the crash of 2008 have been fixed.  In fact, the U.S. banking system is more centralized and more vulnerable today than it ever has been before.

It really is difficult for ordinary Americans to get a handle on just how large these financial institutions are.  For example, the “big six” U.S. banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo) now possess assets equivalent to approximately 60 percent of America’s gross national product.

These huge banks are giant financial vacuum cleaners.  Over the past couple of decades we have witnessed a financial consolidation in this country that is absolutely unprecedented.

This trend accelerated during the recent financial crisis.  While the big boys were receiving massive bailouts, the hundreds of small banks that were failing were either allowed to collapse or they were told that they should find a big bank that was willing to buy them.

As a group, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo held approximately 22 percent of all banking deposits in FDIC-insured institutions back in 2000.

By the middle of 2009 that figure was up to 39 percent.

That is not just a trend – that is a landslide.

Sadly, smaller banks continue to fail in large numbers and the big banks just keep growing and getting more power.

Today, there are more than 1,000 U.S. banks that are on the “unofficial list” of problem banking institutions.

In the absence of fundamental changes, the consolidation of the banking industry is going to continue.

Meanwhile, the “too big to fail” banks are flush with cash and they are getting serious about expanding.  The Federal Reserve has been extremely good to the big boys and they are eager to grow.

For example, Citigroup is becoming extremely aggressive about expanding….

Citigroup has been hiring dozens of investment bankers, dialing up advertising and drawing up plans to add several hundred branches worldwide, including more than 200 in major cities across the United States.

Hopefully the big banks will start lending again.  The whole idea behind the bailouts and all of the “quantitative easing” that the Federal Reserve did was to get money into the hands of the big banks so that they would lend it out to ordinary Americans and get the economy rolling again.

Well, a funny thing happened.  The big banks just sat on a lot of that money.

In particular, what they did was they deposited much of it at the Fed and drew interest on it.

Since 2008, excess reserves parked at the Fed have grown by nearly 1.7 trillion dollars.  Just check out the chart posted below….

The American people were promised that TARP and all of the other bailouts would enable the big banks to lend out lots of money which would help get the economy going for ordinary Americans again.

Well, it turns out that in 2009 (the first full year after Congress passed the bailout legislation) U.S. banks posted their sharpest decline in lending since 1942.

Lending has never fully recovered since the crash of 2008.  The big financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase have been able to get all the cash that they need, but they have not passed that generosity along to ordinary Americans.

In fact, the biggest U.S. banks have actually reduced small business lending by about 50 percent since the crash of 2008.

That doesn’t sound like what we were promised.

These “too big to fail” banks have been able to borrow gigantic amounts of money from the Fed for next to nothing and yet they still refuse to let credit flow to local communities.  Instead, the big banks have found other purposes for all of the super cheap money that they have been getting from the Fed as Ellen Brown recently explained….

It can be very profitable indeed for the big Wall Street banks, but the purpose of the near-zero interest rates was supposed to be to get banks to lend again. Instead, they are, indeed, paying “outrageous bonuses to their top executives;” using the money to engage in the same sort of unregulated speculation that nearly brought down the economy in 2008; buying up smaller banks; or investing this virtually interest-free money in risk-free government bonds, on which taxpayers are paying 2.5 percent interest (more for longer-term securities).

What makes things even worse is that these big banks often pay next to nothing in taxes.

For example, between 2008 and 2010, Wells Fargo made a total profit of 49.37 billion dollars.

Over that same time period, their tax bill was negative 681 million dollars.

Do you understand what that means?  Over that 3 year time period, Wells Fargo actually got 681 million dollars back from the U.S. government.

Isn’t that just peachy?

Meanwhile, the big financial giants have not learned their lessons and they continue to do business pretty much as they did it prior to 2008.

The big banks continue to roll up massive amounts of risk, debt and leverage.

Today, Wall Street has become one giant financial casino.  More money is made on Wall Street by making side bets (commonly referred to as “derivatives“) than on the investments themselves.

If the bets pay off for the big financial institutions, mind blowing profits can be made.  But if the bets go against the big financial institutions (as we saw in 2008), firms can collapse almost overnight.

In fact, it was derivatives that almost brought down AIG.  The biggest insurance company in the world almost folded in 2008 because of a whole bunch of really bad bets.

The danger from derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”.  It has been estimated that the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market is somewhere in the neighborhood of a quadrillion dollars.

The largest banks have tens of trillions of dollars of exposure to derivatives.  When the next great financial collapse happens, derivatives will almost certainly be at the center of it once again.  These side bets do not create anything real for the economy – they just make and lose huge amounts of money.  We never know when the next great derivatives crisis will strike.  Derivatives are essentially like a “sword of Damocles” that perpetually hangs over the U.S. financial system.

When I start talking about derivatives I get a lot of people in the financial community mad at me.  On Wall Street today you can bet on just about anything you can imagine.  Almost everyone in the financial world has gotten so used to making wild bets that they couldn’t even imagine a world without them.  If anyone even tried to put significant limits on futures, options and swaps it would cause Wall Street to throw a hissy fit.

But someday the dominoes are going to start to fall and the house of cards is going to come crashing down.  It is an open secret that our financial system is fundamentally unsound.  Even a lot of people working on Wall Street will admit that.  It is just that people are so busy making such big piles of money that nobody wants the party to stop.

It is only a matter of time until some of these big banks get into a huge amount of trouble again.  When that happens, we might really find out whether they are “too big to fail” or whether we could get along just fine without them.

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