Optimism about the future of the U.S. economy has not been this strong since Barack Obama’s first presidential election victory in 2008. Donald Trump promised us an economic resurgence, and what is not to like so far? As I discussed earlier this week, stocks are soaring, businesses are already announcing that they are bringing jobs back to the United States, and the U.S. dollar has been lifted to levels that we haven’t seen in many years. Many are referring to this post-election surge as “Trumphoria”, and I think that is quite appropriate. Personally, I couldn’t imagine financial markets behaving this way if Hillary Clinton had won the election. Right now tens of millions of Americans are feeling deeply optimistic about the future for the first time in a very long time, and this is clearly reflected in the results of the most recent CNBC All-America Economic Survey…
The CNBC All-America Economic Survey for the fourth quarter found that the percentage of Americans who believe the economy will get better in the next year jumped an unprecedented 17 points to 42 percent, compared with before the election. It’s the highest level since President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008.
The surge was powered by Republicans and independents reversing their outlooks. Republicans swung from deeply pessimistic, with just 15 percent saying the economy would improve in the next year, to strongly optimistic, with 74 percent believing in an economic upswing. Optimism among independents doubled but it fell by more than half for Democrats. Just 16 percent think the economy will improve.
It is funny how our political perspectives so greatly shape our view of the future. Because Trump won, Democrats now have an extremely dismal opinion of where the economy is heading, while Republicans suddenly believe that happy days are here again.
Of course the truth is that the president has far less power to influence the economy than the Federal Reserve does, and so most Americans greatly overestimate what a president can do to alter our economic trajectory.
But for now most Americans (excluding Democrats) are feeling really good about where things are headed. In fact, we just learned that the University of Michigan consumer confidence survey has soared to the highest level that we have seen since 2005.
And of course the financial markets continued to roll onward and upward on Friday. The Dow was up another 142 points, and it is now less than 250 points away from the magic number of 20,000.
I never thought that we would actually get to 20,000, but thanks to “Trumphoria” we may actually get there before the wheels start coming off.
This post-election run has really been unprecedented. The following comes from CNBC…
All major indexes have been hitting record highs since the election. In fact, the Dow has notched 14 record closes since then and gains in 20 of the past 24 sessions.
The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq also did something they haven’t done in more than five years: all three rose each day of this trading week. The last time all three rose every day during the same trading week was September 2011.
Wouldn’t it be great if every month during Trump’s presidency was like the last 30 days?
Trump promised that we would start winning so much that we would actually start getting tired of winning, and so far we are off to a tremendous start.
The shares of Wells Fargo, the most hated bank in America these days, soared 28% over the past 30 days, Citigroup 25%, JP Morgan 26%, Goldman Sachs, which is successfully placing its people inside the Trump administration, 37%.
But is this momentum in the financial markets sustainable?
Of course not.
There are signs of emerging economic trouble all around us. For instance, Sears just announced that it lost 748 million dollars last quarter and that it plans to liquidate even more stores.
How in the world do you lose three-quarters of a billion dollars in a single quarter? If you had employees in every store literally flushing dollar bills down the toilet all day I don’t think you could lose money that quickly.
And the moment that Trump takes office, he may immediately be faced with a major financial crisis in Europe which has been sparked by the meltdown of large Italian banks. The following comes from a Forbes article entitled “Italy’s Banking Crisis Is Nearly Upon Us“…
There is a high degree of probability (approaching 90%, I’d say) that Italy will experience a severe banking crisis in the next few quarters. Perhaps they can stave off the problem for a year, but something will have to be done about the banks.
Unfortunately, it looks like things are about to get very real for Italian banking giant Monte dei Paschi di Siena. According to Reuters, the European Central Bank has turned down their request for more time to raise needed capital…
The European Central Bank has rejected a request by Italy’s Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI) for more time to raise capital, a source said on Friday, a decision that piles pressure on the Rome government to bail out the lender.
Italy’s third-largest bank, and the world’s oldest, had asked for a three-week extension until January 20 to try to wrap up a privately funded, 5 billion euro ($5.3 billion) rescue plan in the face of fresh political uncertainty.
The ECB’s supervisory board turned down the request at a meeting on Friday on the grounds that a delay would be of little use and that it was time for Rome to step in, the source said.
But most Americans have no idea what is unfolding in Europe right now.
As Americans, we tend to be largely oblivious to what is going on in the rest of the world, and at this moment “Trumphoria” has gripped our nation.
It is certainly not wrong to celebrate the fact that we are getting Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, but let us also not lose sight of the fact that we are likely to be facing some tremendous challenges very early in 2017.
Most nations in South America are either already experiencing an economic recession or are right on the verge of one. In general, South American economies are very heavily dependent on exports, and right now they are being absolutely shredded by the twin blades of a commodity price collapse and a skyrocketing U.S. dollar. During the boom times in South America, governments and businesses loaded up on tremendous amounts of debt. Since much of that debt was denominated in U.S. dollars, South American borrowers are now finding that it takes much more of their own local currencies to service and pay back those debts. At the same time, there is much less demand for commodities being produced by South American nations in the international marketplace. As a result, South America is heading into a full-blown financial crisis which will cause years of pain for the entire continent.
If you know your financial history, then you know that we have seen this exact same scenario play out before in various parts of the world. The following comes from a recent CNN article…
The dollar’s gains should make history nerds shake in their boots. Its rally in the early 1980s helped trigger Latin America’s debt crisis. Fifteen years later, the greenback surged quickly again, causing Southeast Asian economies, such as Thailand, to collapse after a run on the banks ensued.
In particular, what is going on right now is so similar to what took place back in the early 1980s. At that time, Latin American governments were swimming in debt, the U.S. dollar was surging and commodity prices were falling. The conditions were perfect for a debt crisis in Latin America, and that is precisely what happened…
When the world economy went into recession in the 1970s and 80s, and oil prices skyrocketed, it created a breaking point for most countries in the region. Developing countries also found themselves in a desperate liquidity crunch. Petroleum exporting countries – flush with cash after the oil price increases of 1973-74 – invested their money with international banks, which ‘recycled’ a major portion of the capital as loans to Latin American governments. The sharp increase in oil prices caused many countries to search out more loans to cover the high prices, and even oil producing countries wanted to use the opportunity to develop further. These oil producers believed that the high prices would remain and would allow them to pay off their additional debt.
As interest rates increased in the United States of America and in Europe in 1979, debt payments also increased, making it harder for borrowing countries to pay back their debts. Deterioration in the exchange rate with the US dollar meant that Latin American governments ended up owing tremendous quantities of their national currencies, as well as losing purchasing power. The contraction of world trade in 1981 caused the prices of primary resources (Latin America’s largest export) to fall.
Sadly, the same mistakes have been repeated once again. In recent years South American nations have loaded up on vast amounts of debt, and now that commodity prices are tanking and the U.S. dollar is surging, all of that debt is creating tremendous headaches.
For instance, just consider what is happening in Brazil…
Brazil’s real plummeted to a 12-year low of 3.34 to the dollar, reflecting the country’s heavy reliance on exports of iron ore and other raw materials to China.
The devaluation tightens the noose on Brazilian companies saddled with $188bn in dollar debt taken out during the glory days of the commodity boom. The oil group Petrobras alone raised $52bn on the US bond markets.
Today, Brazil has the 7th largest economy on the entire planet.
So a major financial crisis in Brazil would be extremely significant.
And that is precisely what is starting to happen. It is being projected that Brazilian government debt will soon be reduced to junk status, Brazilian stocks have already entered “correction territory“, and economic forecasters say that the Brazilian economy is heading into its worst recession in at least 25 years…
Brazil needs to brace itself for some very tough times. Brazilian banks are currently forecasting another economic contraction for the South American country in 2016, marking the first time that Brazil’s economy has shrunk in two consecutive years since the Great Depression.
Last Friday, economist Nelson Teixeira of Switzerland-based financial services holding company Credit Suisse released a revision of his already dour forecast for the Brazilian GDP, moving this year’s numbers from -1.8 percent to -2.4 percent.
The IMF is also projecting that 2015 will be a year of recession for the second largest economy in South America (Argentina) and the third largest economy in South America (Venezuela).
And actually Venezuela is in the deepest trouble of all. According to a recent Bloomberg article, it appears to be inevitable that there will be a debt default by the Venezuelan government in the very near future…
Harvard University Professor Ricardo Hausmann last year questioned Venezuela’s decision to keep paying bondholders as the country sank deeper into crisis and suggested it stop honoring the debt.
Now, he’s saying Venezuela will have no choice but to default next year.
Hausmann’s comments come as a deepening collapse in oil prices and a shortage of dollars stoke concern Venezuela is fast running out of money to stay current on debt. The country’s bonds plunged last year after Hausmann, who served as Venezuelan planning minister after Hugo Chavez’s failed 1992 coup, raised the specter of default, saying he found “no moral grounds” for the government to pay debt at a time when Venezuelans were facing shortages of everything from basic medicine to toilet paper.
The inflation rate in Venezuela today is an astounding 68.5 percent, and the country is plunging into full-blown economic collapse. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
As we recently warned, the hyperinflationary collapse in Venezuela is reaching its terminal phase. With inflation soaring at least 65%, murder rates the 2nd highest in the world, and chronic food (and toilet paper shortages), the following disturbing clip shows what is rapidly becoming major social unrest in the Maduro’s socialist paradise… and perhaps more importantly, Venezuela shows us what the end game for every fiat money system looks like (and perhaps Janet and her colleagues should remember that).
Here is the video that was mentioned in the excerpt above. As you watch this, please keep in mind that the United States is on the exact same path that Venezuela has gone down…
Economic chaos is beginning to erupt all over the planet, and the depression that we are entering into will truly be global in scope.
For the moment, many in the United States still believe that what is going on in the rest of the world will not affect us. But the truth is that we are also right on the verge of a major financial crisis, and it is going to be even worse than what we experienced back in 2008.
So what do you think about what is going on down in South America?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…
What would you say about an economy where businesses are shutting down faster than they are opening? Well, a shocking new study released by the Brookings Institution indicates that this is exactly what is happening in the United States. We are absolutely killing small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit in this country, and as you will see below, the number of self-employed Americans has been on a downward trend for a decade even though our population has been steadily growing. Traditionally, small businesses have been the primary engine of job growth in this nation, so the fact that study after study has found that small business creation is being crippled in the United States is a really bad sign for our economic future.
Personally, I write about our long-term economic decline nearly every day, but even I had no idea that businesses were being destroyed faster than they were being created. According to the Brookings Institution, this first started happening in 2009…
The American economy is less entrepreneurial now than at any point in the last three decades. That’s the conclusion of a new study out from the Brookings Institution, which looks at the rates of new business creation and destruction since 1978.
Not only that, but during the most recent three years of the study — 2009, 2010 and 2011 — businesses were collapsing faster than they were being formed, a first.
And this mirrors an earlier study conducted by economist Tim Kane. According to his analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data, the following is how the decline in the number of new business jobs per one thousand Americans breaks down by presidential administration…
Bush Sr.: 11.3
Bush Jr.: 10.8
As you can see, this is a problem that has been building for decades and that has accelerated under the Obama administration.
We are strangling small business creation to death, and as a result the number of Americans that are self-employed just keeps going down. Just check out this chart…
And keep in mind that throughout this entire time the U.S. population has been growing. So the numbers in the chart above should be going up steadily as the population grows. But instead they have just kept going down.
Meanwhile, the “economic recovery” is continuing in the corporate world as well.
When you kill off small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit, it tends to increasingly funnel money to the very top of the food chain. And this is precisely what is happening in America at this point. In a recent article, Charles Hugh Smith included a chart that shows how average household net worth in the U.S. breaks down by quartile…
Bottom 25%: $4,600
From 25% to 50%: $21,700
From 50% to 75%: $78,900
From 75% to 90%: $242,800
Top 10%: $1,606,600
As you can see, the bottom 50 percent are really not that much above zero at all. In the old days, it seemed like almost everyone was “middle class” in America, but now that is rapidly changing.
We can see this increasing divide in the real estate market as well. According to Bloomberg, sales of million dollar homes are booming, but sales of homes at the low end are plunging…
“Million-dollar homes in the U.S. are selling at double their historical average while middle-class property demand stumbles, showing that the housing recovery is mirroring America’s wealth divide.
Purchases costing $1 million or more rose 7.8 percent in March from a year earlier, according to data released last week by the National Association of Realtors. Transactions for $250,000 or less, which represent almost two-thirds of the market, plunged 12 percent in the period”
So this explains why it is almost impossible to find an affordable home in San Francisco, but the overall homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.
But even in our wealthy enclaves there are signs of deep economic trouble. For example, in New York City the number of homeless children has soared to a new all-time high…
They’re just like other kids except they have a secret. They are homeless. Children are living hidden lives in plain sight. They are part a growing number of low income families who find themselves with no way out but they are working hard to find a solution.
It’s a big issue. And it’s growing. More than 23,000 children sleep in homeless shelters every night, an all-time high, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.
The only “recovery” being experienced in America is the one that is happening on Wall Street, in boardrooms in Silicon Valley and in the halls of power in Washington.
There is no way that we are ever going to have a broad-based economic recovery in this nation if we continue to destroy small businesses. They are the lifeblood of any economy and they are the primary engine of job creation.
Sadly, our politicians seem completely clueless about all of this. So they will continue to do the same things that they have always been doing and then wonder why the economy never seems to turn around.
If you want to get an idea of where the rest of America is heading, just take a trip through the western half of West Virginia and the eastern half of Kentucky some time. Once you leave the main highways, you will rapidly encounter poverty on a level that is absolutely staggering. Overall, about 15 percent of the entire nation is under the poverty line, but in some areas of eastern Kentucky, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty. Most of the people would work if they could. Over the past couple of decades, locals have witnessed businesses and industries leave the region at a steady pace. When another factory or business shuts down, many of the unemployed do not even realize that their jobs have been shipped overseas. Coal mining still produces jobs that pay a decent wage, but Barack Obama is doing his very best to kill off that entire industry. After decades of decline, vast stretches of impoverished Appalachia look like they have been through a war. Those living in the area know that things are not good, but they just try to do the best that they can with what they have.
In previous articles about areas of the country that are economically depressed, I have typically focused on large cities such as Detroit or Camden, New Jersey. But the economic suffering that is taking place in rural communities in the heartland of America is just as tragic. We just don’t hear about it as much.
Most of those that live in the heart of Appalachia are really good “salt of the earth” people that just want to work hard and do what is right for their families. But after decades of increasing poverty, the entire region has been transformed into an economic nightmare that never seems to end. The following is a description of what life is like in Appalachia today that comes from a recent article by Kevin D. Williamson…
Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead of too much black-minded introspection you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short — the typical man here dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women’s life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.
In these kinds of conditions, people do whatever they have to do just to survive. With so much poverty around, serving those on food stamps has become an important part of the local economy. In fact, cases of soda purchased with food stamps have become a form of “alternative currency” in the region. In his article, Williamson described how this works…
It works like this: Once a month, the debit-card accounts of those receiving what we still call food stamps are credited with a few hundred dollars — about $500 for a family of four, on average — which are immediately converted into a unit of exchange, in this case cases of soda. On the day when accounts are credited, local establishments accepting EBT cards — and all across the Big White Ghetto, “We Accept Food Stamps” is the new E pluribus unum – are swamped with locals using their public benefits to buy cases and cases — reports put the number at 30 to 40 cases for some buyers — of soda. Those cases of soda then either go on to another retailer, who buys them at 50 cents on the dollar, in effect laundering those $500 in monthly benefits into $250 in cash — a considerably worse rate than your typical organized-crime money launderer offers — or else they go into the local black-market economy, where they can be used as currency in such ventures as the dealing of unauthorized prescription painkillers — by “pillbillies,” as they are known at the sympathetic establishments in Florida that do so much business with Kentucky and West Virginia that the relevant interstate bus service is nicknamed the “OxyContin Express.” A woman who is intimately familiar with the local drug economy suggests that the exchange rate between sexual favors and cases of pop — some dealers will accept either — is about 1:1, meaning that the value of a woman in the local prescription-drug economy is about $12.99 at Walmart prices.
I would encourage everyone to read the rest of Williamson’s excellent article. You can find the entire article right here.
In Appalachia, the abuse of alcohol, meth and other legal and illegal drugs is significantly higher than in the U.S. population as a whole. In a desperate attempt to deal with the pain of their lives, many people living in the region are looking for anything that will allow them to “escape” for a little while. The following is an excerpt from an excellent article by Chris Hedges which describes what life is like in the little town of Gary, West Virginia at this point…
Joe and I are sitting in the Tug River Health Clinic in Gary with a registered nurse who does not want her name used. The clinic handles federal and state black lung applications. It runs a program for those addicted to prescription pills. It also handles what in the local vernacular is known as “the crazy check” — payments obtained for mental illness from Medicaid or SSI — a vital source of income for those whose five years of welfare payments have run out. Doctors willing to diagnose a patient as mentally ill are important to economic survival.
“They come in and want to be diagnosed as soon as they can for the crazy check,” the nurse says. “They will insist to us they are crazy. They will tell us, ‘I know I’m not right.’ People here are very resigned. They will avoid working by being diagnosed as crazy.”
The reliance on government checks, and a vast array of painkillers and opiates, has turned towns like Gary into modern opium dens. The painkillers OxyContin, fentanyl — 80 times stronger than morphine — Lortab, as well as a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, are widely abused. Many top off their daily cocktail of painkillers at night with sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. And for fun, addicts, especially the young, hold “pharm parties,” in which they combine their pills in a bowl, scoop out handfuls of medication, swallow them, and wait to feel the result.
Of course this kind of thing is not just happening in the heart of Appalachia. All over the country there are rural communities that are economically depressed. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, economic activity in about half of the counties in the entire nation is still below pre-recession levels…
Did you know that the Obama administration is negotiating a super secret “trade agreement” that is so sensitive that he isn’t even allowing members of Congress to see it? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called the “NAFTA of the Pacific” and “NAFTA on steroids”, but the truth is that it is so much more than just a trade agreement. This treaty has 29 chapters, but only 5 of them have to do with trade. Most Americans don’t realize this, but this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, health care, the trading of derivatives, copyright issues, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. It will also merge the United States far more deeply into the emerging one world economic system.
Once again, our politicians are betraying the American people and millions of jobs will be lost as a result.
But now the ongoing economic collapse seems to be picking up steam again. For example, the Baltic Dry Index (a very important indicator of global economic activity) is collapsing at a rate not seen since the great financial crash of 2008…
Despite ‘blaming’ the drop in the cost of dry bulk shipping on Colombian coal restrictions, it seems increasingly clear that the 40% collapse in the Baltic Dry Index since the start of the year is more than just that. While this is the worst start to a year in over 30 years, the scale of this meltdown is only matched by the total devastation that occurred in Q3 2008. Of course, the mainstream media will continue to ignore this dour index until it decides to rise once again, but for now, 9 days in a row of plunging prices is yet another canary in the global trade coalmine and suggests what inventory stacking that occurred in Q3/4 2013 is anything but sustained.
Soon economic conditions will get even worse for Appalachia and for the rest of the country. The consequences of decades of very foolish decisions are rapidly catching up with us, and millions upon millions of Americans are going to experience immense economic pain during the years to come.
So what are things like in your area of the country right now? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
All over America, formerly prosperous communities are being transformed into crime-infested wastelands of poverty and despair. Of course the most famous example of this is Detroit. At one time, Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city that the world had ever seen and it had the highest per capita income in the entire country. But now it has become a rotting, decaying hellhole that the rest of the planet laughs at. And of course Detroit is far from alone. There are hundreds of other U.S. cities that are suffering a similar fate. In this article, the focus is going to be on Camden, New Jersey, but the truth is that there are lots of other “Detroits” and “Camdens” all over the nation. Jobs and businesses are leaving our cities at a staggering rate, and what is being left behind is poverty, crime and extreme desperation.
Earlier this month, Rolling Stone published an article that took a hard look at the nightmare conditions that exist in Camden. A city that once made Campbell’s soup and some of this nation’s most famous warships is now a national disgrace. The following are six of the best quotes out of that article…
-“In September, its last supermarket closed, and the city has been declared a “food desert” by the USDA. The place is literally dying, its population having plummeted from above 120,000 in the Fifties to less than 80,000 today.”
-“Their home is a city with thousands of abandoned houses but no money to demolish them, leaving whole blocks full of Ninth Ward-style wreckage to gather waste and rats.”
-“With legal business mostly gone, illegal business took hold. Those hundreds of industries have been replaced by about 175 open-air drug markets, through which some quarter of a billion dollars in dope moves every year.”
-“On January 18th, 2011, the city laid off 168 of its 368 police officers, kicking off a dramatic, years-long, cops-versus-locals, house-to-house battle over a few square miles of North American territory that should have been national news, but has not been, likely because it took place in an isolated black and Hispanic ghost town.”
-“After the 2011 layoffs, police went into almost total retreat. Drug dealers cheerfully gave interviews to local reporters while slinging in broad daylight.”
-“The carnage left Camden’s crime rate on par with places like Haiti after its 2010 earthquake, and with other infamous Third World hot spots, as police officials later noticed to their dismay when they studied U.N. statistics.”
You can read the rest of the article right here. But as bad as things have become in Camden, this should not be a surprise to most of you. The reality is that this kind of rot and decay is happening in communities all over the United States.
In order to have a middle class, you have got to have middle class jobs.
There is no way around that.
And right now, hordes of young people are graduating from college and discovering that the middle class jobs that they were promised simply are not there.
CNN recently profiled a 37-year-old college graduate named Bobby Bingham. Because he cannot find a good job, he is forced to work four low paying jobs…
Bobby Bingham works four jobs in Kansas City, Missouri, yet he has very little to show for it.
Bingham is 37 years old and has a college degree, but like many Americans, is stuck working many hours in low wage, part-time jobs.
Each week, he works a total of about 60 hours in his jobs as a massage therapist, a waiter at a Mexican restaurant, a delivery man for sandwich chain Jimmy John’s and a receptionist at his massage school.
Bingham makes approximately $400 a week, which works out to about $20,000 a year. He has come to the conclusion that he may never be able to make enough to support a family…
“I’ve come to the point in my life where I wonder if I can ever support a family,” he said. “I have no idea how that’s ever going to logically happen.”
That deeply saddened my heart when I read that. Here is a young man that wants to get married, have a family and do all the right things, but the economy is so bad that he fears that this may never be possible for him.
As I have written about previously, the economic downturn that we are experiencing right now has hit men particularly hard. The number of men in their prime working years that do not make enough money to support a family is rising with each passing year, and this is causing massive problems in this country.
And when our politicians proclaim that all we need is “more education”, I feel like vomiting. The U.S. population as a whole has more “education” today than it ever has had before.
If you think that “more education” is the answer, then check out the following excerpt from a recent interview with a law school graduate that is making about $40,000 a year and that has about $200,000 in law school debt…
Yes, it’s extremely hard to get by. I can’t afford rent or a car and can barely afford food. Anything extra like enjoying myself with friends, going to a movie, traveling, etc. — that’s all out the window for the foreseeable future and possibly for the rest of my life thanks to law school. I live with my parents. I don’t have a car. I don’t go out to socialize. I don’t date. I don’t buy new clothes. I don’t buy electronics. I don’t buy much of anything. I spend my free time working other jobs to put more money toward my debt. I do contract work for other lawyers, but the pay is very low and payment is sporadic.
Why did this happen to him? Well, the truth is that there are way, way too many law school graduates. There are not nearly enough good jobs for all of them. In fact, this particular law school graduate deeply regrets ever going to law school and considers it “an extraordinary waste of money”…
I consider law school a waste of my life and an extraordinary waste of money. I feel like I was duped and tricked. At the end of the day, it’s my own fault for being a sucker and I learned an extremely hard lesson. Because I went to law school, I don’t see myself having a family, earning a comfortable wage, or having an enjoyable lifestyle.
But at least he has a job. There are millions of college graduates that do not. And there are hundreds of thousands of other college graduates that are currently working as waiters and waitresses. Large numbers are also working temp jobs or standing behind registers in retail stores.
Over the past decade, tens of thousands of businesses and millions of good jobs have left this country. The quality of the jobs that remain continues to decline at a frightening pace, and most of the new jobs that are being “created” these days are part-time jobs.
But you won’t hear the mainstream media or our most prominent politicians talk about these things much. You won’t hear them talk about the fact that median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row or about the fact that the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.
The middle class is dying.
Wake up America.
And even as millions of our jobs have been shipped to the other side of the planet, some of the most prominent “American companies” have been bought up by foreigners. The following list comes from a recent Economy In Crisis article…
Here are some of America’s most famous brands currently held in foreign hands:
Budweiser, now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev N.V., which is based in Leuven, Belgium
Alka-Seltzer, now owned by German company Bayer Schering Pharma AG
Ben & Jerrys, now owned by British-Dutch Unilever
AMC theaters, now owned by the Chinese
7-Eleven, now owned by the Japanese company, Seven & I Holdings
Woman’s Day Magazine, now owned by the French company, Hachette Filipacchi Médias, S.A
Purina, now owned by the Swiss company, Nestle
Gerber, now owned by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Novartis
Firestone, now owned by the Japanese Bridgestone Corporation
Citgo, now owned by the government of Venezuela
French’s Mustard, now owned by Reckitt Benckiser, a British conglomerate
Frigidaire, now owned by Sweden’s AB Electrolux
The Plaza Hotel in New York City, now owned by Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva’s El-Ad Group
Trader Joes, now owned by German billionaires Karl and Theo Albrecht
Dial soap, now owned by Henkel KGaA, based in Dusseldorf, Germany
Sunglass Hut, now owned by Italian eyewear seller Luxottica Group
And if you are waiting for the jokers in Washington D.C. to fix things, you are going to be waiting for a very, very long time.
Over the past several years, both the Democrats and the Republicans have proven again and again that they are basically completely and totally useless. In fact, just about everything that they try to do actually makes our problems even worse.
In just a few days, Barack Obama leaves for a 17 day holiday vacation in Hawaii. Many have criticized him and the members of Congress for taking so much time off, but perhaps that is the best thing that they can do at this point. As long as they are away from Washington D.C., at least they won’t be making things even worse for all the rest of us.
Did you know that you are involved in the most massive Ponzi scheme that has ever existed? To illustrate my point, allow me to tell you a little story. Once upon a time, there was a man named Sam. When he was younger, he had been a very principled young man that had worked incredibly hard and that had built a large number of tremendously successful businesses. He became fabulously wealthy and he accumulated far more gold than anyone else on the planet. But when he started to get a little older he forgot the values of his youth. He started making really bad decisions and some of his relatives started to take advantage of him. One particularly devious relative was a nephew named Fred. One day Fred approached his uncle Sam with a scheme that his friends the bankers had come up with. What happened next would change the course of Sam’s life forever.
Even though Sam was the wealthiest man in the world by far, Fred convinced Sam that he could have an even higher standard of living by going into a little bit of debt. In exchange for IOUs issued by his uncle Sam, Fred would give him paper notes that he printed off on his printing press. Since the paper notes would be backed by the gold that Sam was holding, everyone would consider them to be valuable. Sam could take those paper notes and spend them on whatever his heart desired. Uncle Sam started to do this, and he started to become addicted to all of the nice things that those paper notes would buy him.
Fred took the IOUs that he received from his uncle and he auctioned them off to the bankers. But there was a problem. The IOUs issued by Uncle Sam had to be paid back with interest. When the time came to pay back the IOUs, Uncle Sam could not afford to pay back the debts, pay the interest on those debts, and buy all of the nice things that he wanted. So Uncle Sam issued even more IOUs than before so that he could get enough notes to pay off his debts. As time rolled on, this pattern just kept on repeating. Uncle Sam repeatedly paid off his old debts by taking out even larger new debts.
Meanwhile, since the notes that Uncle Sam was using were backed by gold, everyone else in the world decided to start using them to trade with one another. This was greatly beneficial to Uncle Sam, because the rest of the world was glad to send him oil, home electronics, plastic trinkets and anything else that Uncle Sam wanted in exchange for his gold-backed notes.
Eventually, however, the rest of the world started to suspect that the number of gold-backed notes that Uncle Sam was issuing far exceeded the amount of gold that Uncle Sam actually had. So the rest of the world started to trade in their notes for gold.
And by that time Uncle Sam definitely did not have enough gold to back up his notes. Realizing that the scheme was starting to collapse, one day Uncle Sam announced that his notes would no longer be backed by gold. But he insisted that the rest of the world should continue using his notes because he was the wealthiest man on the planet and everyone should just trust him.
And the rest of the world did continue to trust him, although it wasn’t the same as before.
As Uncle Sam got greedier and greedier, he started to issue IOUs and spend notes at a rate that nobody ever dreamed possible. The great businesses that Uncle Sam had built when he was younger were starting to decline, and Uncle Sam started buying far more stuff from the rest of the world than they bought from him. The rest of the world was still glad to take Uncle Sam’s notes because they used them to trade with one another, but they started accumulating far more notes than they actually needed.
Not sure exactly what to do with mountains of these notes, the rest of the world started to loan them back to Uncle Sam. It eventually got to the point where Uncle Sam owed the rest of the world trillions of these notes. Even though the notes were losing value at a rate of close to 10 percent a year, Uncle Sam somehow convinced the rest of the world to loan him notes at an average rate of interest of less than 3 percent a year.
One day Uncle Sam woke up and realized that the amount of debt that he owed was now more than 5000 times larger than it was when Fred had first approached him with this ill-fated scheme. Uncle Sam now owed more than 16 trillion notes to his creditors, and Uncle Sam had already made future financial commitments of 202 trillion notes that he would never be able to pay. Meanwhile, the notes that Fred had been printing up for Uncle Sam were now worth less than 5 percent of their original value. Uncle Sam was becoming concerned because some of his other relatives were warning that this whole scheme was about to collapse.
Sadly, Uncle Sam did not listen to them. Uncle Sam knew that if he admitted how fraudulent the financial scheme was, the rest of the world would quit sending him all of the things that he needed in exchange for his notes and they would quit lending his notes back to him at super low interest rates.
And if the rest of the world lost confidence in his notes and quit using them, Uncle Sam knew that his standard of living would go way, way down. That was something that Uncle Sam could not bear to have happen.
When a financial crisis almost caused the scheme to crash in 2008, a desperate Uncle Sam went to Fred and asked for help. In response, Fred started printing up far more notes than ever before and started directly buying up large amounts of IOUs from Uncle Sam with the notes that he was creating out of thin air. Fred hoped that the rest of the world would not notice what he was doing.
It seemed to work for a little while, but then an even worse financial crisis came along. Once again, Uncle Sam started issuing massive amounts of new IOUs and Fred started printing up giant mountains of new notes to try to fix things, but their desperate attempts to keep the system going were to no avail. The rest of the world started to realize that they had been sucked into a massive Ponzi scheme, and they lost confidence in the notes that Uncle Sam was using. Suddenly nobody wanted to lend notes to Uncle Sam at super low interest rates anymore, and people started asking for far more notes in exchange for the things that Uncle Sam wanted.
Uncle Sam’s standard of living dropped dramatically. Since he could no longer flood the world with his notes, Uncle Sam could not continue to consume far, far more wealth than he produced. Uncle Sam sunk into a deep depression as he watched the scheme fall apart all around him.
Uncle Sam had once been the wealthiest man on the entire planet, but now he was a broke, tired old man that was absolutely drowning in debt. Unfortunately, once he was down on his luck the rest of the world did not have any compassion for him. In fact, much of the rest of the world celebrated the downfall of Uncle Sam.
All of this could have been avoided if Uncle Sam had never agreed to Fred’s crazy scheme. And once Uncle Sam made the decision to stop backing his notes with gold, it was only a matter of time before the scheme was going to collapse.
Does this little story sound crazy to you? It shouldn’t. The truth is that you are involved in such a scheme right now. In case you haven’t figured it out, “Uncle Sam” is the United States, the “notes” are U.S. dollars, and “Fred” is the Federal Reserve.
Please share this story with as many people as you can. Our country is headed for complete and total financial disaster, and we need to get people educated about this while there is still time.
What would you do if you woke up one day and discovered that the banksters had “legally” stolen about 80 percent of your life savings? Most people seem to assume that most of the depositors that are getting ripped off in Cyprus are “Russian oligarchs” or “wealthy European tycoons”, but the truth is that they are only just part of the story. As you will see below, there are small businesses and aging retirees that have been absolutely devastated by the wealth confiscation that has taken place in Cyprus. Many businesses can no longer meet their payrolls or pay their bills because their funds have been frozen, and many retirees have seen retirement plans that they have been working toward for decades absolutely destroyed in a matter of days. Sometimes it can be hard to identify with events that are happening on the other side of the globe, but I want you to try to put yourself into their shoes for a few minutes. How would you feel if something like this happened to you?
For example, just consider the case of one 65-year-old retiree that has had his life savings totally wiped out by the “wealth tax” in Cyprus. His very sad story was recently featured by the Sydney Morning Herald…
”Very bad, very, very bad,” says 65-year-old John Demetriou, rubbing tears from his lined face with thick fingers. ”I lost all my money.”
John now lives in the picturesque fishing village of Liopetri on Cyprus’ south coast. But for 35 years he lived at Bondi Junction and worked days, nights and weekends in Sydney markets selling jewellery and imitation jewellery.
He had left Cyprus in the early 1970s at the height of its war with Turkey, taking his wife and young children to safety in Australia. He built a life from nothing and, gradually, a substantial nest egg. He retired to Cyprus in 2007 with about $1 million, his life savings.
He planned to spend it on his grandchildren – some of whom live in Cyprus – putting them through university and setting them up. There would be medical bills; he has a heart condition. The interest was paying for a comfortable retirement, and trips back to Australia. He also toyed with the idea of buying a boat.
He wanted to leave any big purchases a few years, to be sure this was where he would spend his retirement. There was no hurry. But now it is all gone.
”If I made the decision to stay, I was going to build a house,” John says. ”Unfortunately I didn’t make the decision yet.
”I went to sleep Friday as a rich man. I woke up a poor man.”
How would you feel if you suddenly lost almost everything that you have been working for your entire life?
And many small and mid-size businesses have been ruined by the bank account confiscation that has taken place in Cyprus.
The following is a bank account statement that was originally posted on a Bitcoin forum that has gone absolutely viral all over the Internet. One medium size IT business has lost a staggering amount of money because of the “bail-in” that is happening in Cyprus…
The following is what the poster of this screenshot had to say about what this is going to do to his business…
Over 700k of expropriated money will be used to repay country’s debt. Probably we will get back about 20% of this amount in 6-7 years.
I’m not Russian oligarch, but just European medium size IT business. Thousands of other companies around Cyprus have the same situation.
The business is definitely ruined, all Cypriot workers to be fired.
We are moving to small Caribbean country where authorities have more respect to people’s assets. Also we are thinking about using Bitcoin to pay wages and for payments between our partners.
Special thanks to:
– Jeroen Dijsselbloem
– Angela Merkel
– Manuel Barroso
– the rest of officials of “European Comission”
And of course the truth is that those that have had their deposits frozen will be very fortunate to ever see any of that money ever again.
But just a few weeks ago, the Central Bank of Cyprus was swearing that nothing like this could ever possibly happen. Just check out the following memo from the Central Bank of Cyprus dated “11 February 2013” that was recently posted on Zero Hedge…
Sadly, the truth is that the politicians will lie to you all the way up until the very day that they confiscate your money.
You can believe our “leaders” when they swear that nothing like this will ever happen in the United States, in Canada or in other European nations if you want.
But I don’t believe them.
In fact, as an outstanding article by Ellen Brown recently detailed, the concept of a “bail-in” for “systemically important financial institutions” has been in the works for a long time…
Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlier here); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds.
If you do not believe that what just happened in Cyprus could happen in the United States, you need to read the rest of her article. The following is an extended excerpt from that article…
Although few depositors realize it, legally the bank owns the depositor’s funds as soon as they are put in the bank. Our money becomes the bank’s, and we become unsecured creditors holding IOUs or promises to pay. (See here and here.) But until now the bank has been obligated to pay the money back on demand in the form of cash. Under the FDIC-BOE plan, our IOUs will be converted into “bank equity.” The bank will get the money and we will get stock in the bank. With any luck we may be able to sell the stock to someone else, but when and at what price? Most people keep a deposit account so they can have ready cash to pay the bills.
The 15-page FDIC-BOE document is called “Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions.” It begins by explaining that the 2008 banking crisis has made it clear that some other way besides taxpayer bailouts is needed to maintain “financial stability.” Evidently anticipating that the next financial collapse will be on a grander scale than either the taxpayers or Congress is willing to underwrite, the authors state:
An efficient path for returning the sound operations of the G-SIFI to the private sector would be provided by exchanging or converting a sufficient amount of the unsecured debt from the original creditors of the failed company [meaning the depositors] into equity [or stock]. In the U.S., the new equity would become capital in one or more newly formed operating entities. In the U.K., the same approach could be used, or the equity could be used to recapitalize the failing financial company itself—thus, the highest layer of surviving bailed-in creditors would become the owners of the resolved firm. In either country, the new equity holders would take on the corresponding risk of being shareholders in a financial institution.
No exception is indicated for “insured deposits” in the U.S., meaning those under $250,000, the deposits we thought were protected by FDIC insurance. This can hardly be an oversight, since it is the FDIC that is issuing the directive. The FDIC is an insurance company funded by premiums paid by private banks. The directive is called a “resolution process,” defined elsewhere as a plan that “would be triggered in the event of the failure of an insurer . . . .” The only mention of “insured deposits” is in connection with existing UK legislation, which the FDIC-BOE directive goes on to say is inadequate, implying that it needs to be modified or overridden.
You can find the rest of her excellent article right here. I would encourage everyone to especially pay attention to what she has to say about derivatives.
Sadly, what is happening in Cyprus right now is just the continuation of a trend. In recent years, governments all over the world have turned to the confiscation of private wealth in order to solve their financial problems. The following examples are from a recent article posted on Deviant Investor…
October 2008 – Argentina’s leftist government, facing a gigantic revenue shortfall, proposes to nationalize all private pensions so as to meet national debt payments and avoid its second default in the decade.
November 2010 – Headline – Hungary Gives Its Citizens an Ultimatum: Move Your Private Pension Fund Assets to the State or Permanently Lose Your Pension – This is an effective nationalization of all pensions.
November 2010 – Ireland elects to appropriate ten billion euros from its National Pension Reserve Fund to help fund an eighty-five billion euro rescue package for its besieged banks. Ireland also moves to consider a regulatory move that compels some private Irish pension funds to hold more Irish government debt, thereby providing the state with a captive investor base but hugely raising the risk for savers.
December 2010 – France agrees to transfer twenty billion euros worth of assets belonging to its Fonds de Reserve pour les Retraites (FRR), the funded portion of its retirement system, to help pay off recurring social benefits costs. No pensioners are consulted.
April 2012 – Argentina announces that its Economy Ministry has taken an emergency loan from the national pension fund in the amount of $4.3 billion. No pensioners were consulted.
June 2012 – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unilaterally appropriates $45 billion from US federal pension funds to help tide over US deficits for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.
January 2013 – Treasury Secretary Geithner again announces that the government has begun borrowing from the federal employees pension fund to keep operating without passing the approaching “fiscal cliff” debt limit. The move effectively creates $156 billion in borrowing authority from federal pension funds.
March 2013 – Open Bank Resolution finance minister, Bill English, is proposing a Cyprus style solution for potential New Zealand bank failures. The reserve bank is in the final stages of establishing a rescue scheme which will put all bank depositors on the hook for bailing out their banks. Depositors will overnight have their savings shaved by the amount needed to keep distressed banks afloat.
Can you see the pattern?
As I wrote about the other day, no bank account, no pension fund, no retirement account and no stock portfolio will be able to be considered 100% safe ever again.
And once the global derivatives casino melts down, there are going to be a lot of major banks that are going to need to be “bailed in”.
When that day arrives, they are going to try to come after your money.
So don’t leave your entire life savings sitting in a single bank – especially not one of the banks that has a tremendous amount of exposure to derivatives.
Hopefully we can get more people to wake up and realize what is happening. We are moving into a time of great financial instability, and what worked in the past is not going to work in the future.
What in the world is China up to? Over the past several years, the Chinese government and large Chinese corporations (which are often at least partially owned by the government) have been systematically buying up businesses, homes, farmland, real estate, infrastructure and natural resources all over America. In some cases, China appears to be attempting to purchase entire communities in one fell swoop. So why is this happening? Is this some form of “economic colonization” that is taking place? Some have speculated that China may be intending to establish “special economic zones” inside the United States modeled after the very successful Chinese city of Shenzhen. Back in the 1970s, Shenzhen was just a very small fishing village, but now it is a sprawling metropolis of over 14 million people. Initially, these “special economic zones” were only established within China, but now the Chinese government has been buying huge tracts of land in foreign countries such as Nigeria and establishing special economic zones in those nations. So could such a thing actually happen in America? Well, according to Dr. Jerome Corsi, a plan being pushed by the Chinese Central Bank would set up “development zones” in the United States that would allow China to “establish Chinese-owned businesses and bring in its citizens to the U.S. to work.” Under the plan, some of the $1.17 trillion that the U.S. owes China would be converted from debt to “equity”. As a result, “China would own U.S. businesses, U.S. infrastructure and U.S. high-value land, all with a U.S. government guarantee against loss.” Does all of this sound far-fetched? Well, it isn’t. In fact, the economic colonization of America is already far more advanced than most Americans would dare to imagine.
So how in the world did we get to this point? A few decades ago, the United States was the unchallenged economic powerhouse of the world and China was essentially a third world country.
So what happened?
Well, we entered into a whole bunch of extremely unfavorable “free trade” agreements, and countries such as China began to aggressively use “free trade” as an economic weapon against us.
Over the past decade, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses and millions of jobs to China. When the final numbers for 2012 come out, our trade deficit with China for the year will be well over 300 billion dollars, and that will be the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the world.
Overall, the U.S. has run a trade deficit with China over the past decade that comes to more than 2.3 trillion dollars. That 2.3 trillion dollars could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers, and in turn taxes would have been paid on all of that money. But instead, all of that money went to China.
Rather than just sitting on all of that money, China has been lending much of it back to us – at interest. We now owe China more than a trillion dollars, and our politicians are constantly pleading with China to lend more money to us so that we can finance our exploding debt.
Today, the U.S. government pays China approximately 100 million dollars a day in interest on the debt that we owe them. Those that say that the U.S. debt “does not matter” are being incredibly foolish.
So thanks to our massive trade deficit and our exploding national debt, China is systematically getting wealthier and the United States is systematically getting poorer.
And now China is starting to use a lot of that wealth to aggressively expand their power and influence around the globe.
But isn’t it more than a bit far-fetched to suggest that China may be planning to establish Chinese cities and special economic zones in America?
Just look at what has already happened up in Canada. It is well-known that the Chinese population of Vancouver, Canada has absolutely exploded in recent years. In fact, the Vancouver suburb of Richmond is now approximately half Chinese. The following is an excerpt from a BBC article…
Richmond is North America’s most Asian city – 50% of residents here identify themselves as Chinese. But it’s not just here that the Chinese community in British Columbia (BC) – some 407,000 strong – has left its mark. All across Vancouver, Chinese-Canadians have helped shape the local landscape.
A similar thing is happening in many communities along the west coast of the United States. In fact, Chinese citizens purchased one out of every ten homes that were sold in the state of California in 2011.
But in other areas of the United States, the Chinese are approaching things much more systematically.
For example, as I have written about previously, a Chinese group identified as “Sino-Michigan Properties LLC” has purchased 200 acres of land near the town of Milan, Michigan. Their stated goal is to build a “China City” that has artificial lakes, a Chinese cultural center and hundreds of housing units for Chinese citizens.
In other instances, large chunks of real estate in major U.S. cities that are down on their luck are being snapped up by Chinese investors. Just check out what a Fortune article from a while back says has been happening over in Toledo, Ohio…
In March 2011, Chinese investors paid $2.15 million cash for a restaurant complex on the Maumee River in Toledo, Ohio. Soon they put down another $3.8 million on 69 acres of newly decontaminated land in the city’s Marina District, promising to invest $200 million in a new residential-commercial development. That September, another Chinese firm spent $3 million for an aging hotel across a nearby bridge with a view of the minor league ballpark.
Toledo is being promoted to Chinese investors as a “5-star logistics region“. From Toledo it is very easy to get to Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Indianapolis…
With a population of 287,000, Toledo is only the fourth largest city in Ohio, but it lies at the junction of two important highways — I-75 and I-80/90. “My vision is to make Toledo a true international city,” Toledo’s Mayor Mike Bell told the Toledo Blade.
But some of these deals appear to be about far more than just making “investments”. According to the Idaho Statesman, a Chinese company known as Sinomach (which is actually controlled by the Chinese government) was actually interested in developing a 50 square mile self-sustaining “technology zone” south of the Boise airport…
A Chinese national company is interested in developing a 10,000- to 30,000-acre technology zone for industry, retail centers and homes south of the Boise Airport.
Officials of the China National Machinery Industry Corp. have broached the idea — based on a concept popular in China today — to city and state leaders.
The article suggested that this “technology zone” would be modeled after similar projects that already exist in China, and that Chinese officials were conducting similar negotiations with other U.S. states as well…
Sinomach is not looking only at Idaho.
The company sent delegations to Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania this year to talk about setting up research and development bases and industrial parks. It has an interest in electric transmission projects and alternative energy as well.
The technology zone proposal follows a model of science, technology and industrial parks in China — often fully contained cities with all services included.
Thankfully the deal in Idaho appears to be stalled for now, but could we soon see China establish special economic zones in other communities all around America?
The Chinese certainly do seem to be laying the groundwork for something. They have been voraciously gobbling up important infrastructure all over the country. The following comes from a recent American Free Press article…
In addition to already owning vital ports in Long Beach, Calif. and Boston, Mass., the China Ocean Shipping Company is eyeing major ports on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. China also owns access to ports at the entry and exit points of the Panama Canal.
And due to fiscal woes plaguing many American cities and states, U.S. legislators have been actively seeking out Chinese investors. In one of the worst cases, Baton Rouge, La., Mayor Kip Holden offered the Chinese government ownership and operating rights to a new toll way system if the Chinese would provide the funding to build it.
Does it make sense for the Chinese to own some of our most important ports?
Isn’t there a national security risk?
Sadly, there isn’t much of anything that our politicians won’t sell these days as long as someone is willing to flash a lot of cash.
The Chinese have also been busy buying up important real estate on the east coast as a recent Forbes article explained….
According to a recent report in the New York Times, investors from China are “snapping up luxury apartments” and are planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on commercial and residential projects like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Chinese companies also have signed major leases at the Empire State Building and at 1 World Trade Center, the report said.
But it is not only just land and infrastructure that the Chinese have been buying up.
They have also been purchasing rights to vital oil and natural gas deposits all over the United States.
There have been two Chinese companies that have been primarily involved in this effort.
The first is the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). According to Wikipedia, CNOOC is 100 percent owned by the Chinese government…
CNOOC Group is a state-owned oil company, fully owned by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, and the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC) performs the rights and obligations of shareholder on behalf of the government.
The second is Sinopec Corporation. Sinopec Group is the largest shareholder (approx. 75% ownership) in Sinopec Corporation. And as the Sinopec website tells us, Sinopec Group is fully owned by the Chinese government…
Sinopec Group, the largest shareholder of Sinopec Corp., is a super-large petroleum and petrochemical group incorporated by the State in 1998 based on the former China Petrochemical Corporation. Funded by the State, it is a State authorized investment arm and State-owned controlling company.
So whenever you see CNOOC or Sinopec, you can replace those names with the Chinese government. The Chinese government essentially runs both of those companies.
And as you can see from the following list compiled by the Wall Street Journal, those two companies have been extremely aggressive in buying up rights to oil and natural gas all over the nation…
Colorado: Cnooc gained a one-third stake in 800,000 acres in northeast Colorado and southeast Wyoming in a $1.27 billion pact with Chesapeake Energy Corp.
Louisiana: Sinopec has a one-third interest in 265,000 acres in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale after a broader $2.5-billion deal with Devon Energy.
Michigan: Sinopec gained a one-third interest in 350,000 acres in a larger $2.5 billion deal with Devon Energy.
Ohio: Sinopec acquired a one-third stake in Devon Energy’s 235,000 Utica Shale acres in a larger $2.5 billion deal.
Oklahoma: Sinopec has a one-third interest in 215,000 acres in a broader $2.5 billion deal with Devon Energy.
Texas: Cnooc acquired a one-third interest in Chesapeake Energy’s 600,000 acres in the Eagle Ford Shale in a $2.16-billion deal.
Wyoming: Cnooc has a one-third stake in 800,000 acres in northeast Colorado and southeast Wyoming after a $1.27 billion pact with Chesapeake Energy. Sinopec gained a one-third interest in Devon Energy’s 320,000 acres as part of a larger $2.5 billion deal.
Gulf of Mexico: Cnooc Ltd. separately acquired minority stakes in some of Statoil ASA’s leases as well as six of Nexen Inc.’s deep-water wells.
So why is the U.S. government allowing this?
That is a very good question.
For a nation that purports to be pursuing “energy independence”, we sure do have a funny way of going about things.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that China is absolutely mopping the floor with the United States on the global economic stage. China is rising and America is in an advanced state of decline. Global economic power has shifted dramatically and most Americans still don’t understand what has happened.
The following are 44 more signs of how dominant the economy of China has become…
17. The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
18. Overall, the United States has lost a total of more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
19. According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
20. Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.
22. Since the auto industry bailout, approximately 70 percent of all GM vehicles have been built outside the United States.
23. After being bailed out by U.S. taxpayers, General Motors is currently involved in 11 joint ventures with companies owned by the Chinese government. The price for entering into many of these “joint ventures” was a transfer of “state of the art technology” from General Motors to the communist Chinese.
24. Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Ten years later, the United States had less than 15 percent and China’s share had soared to 20 percent.
25. The United States has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs over the past ten years.
43. According to the IMF, China will pass the United States and will become the largest economy in the world in 2016.
44. Nobel economist Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040 if current trends continue.
Without the “globalization” of the world economy, none of this would have ever happened. But instead of admitting our mistakes and fixing them, our politicians continue to press for even more “free trade” and even more integration with communist nations such as China.
In fact, according to Dr. Jerome Corsi, the U.S. government has already set up 257 “foreign trade zones” all over America. These “foreign trade zones” are apparently given “special U.S. customs treatment” and are used to promote “free trade”…
Corsi noted that the U.S. government has created 257 foreign trade zones, or FTZs, throughout the United States, designed to extend special U.S. customs treatment to U.S. plants engaged in international-trade-related activities.
The FTZs tend to be located near airports, with easy access into the continental NAFTA and WTO multi-modal transportation systems being created to move free-trade goods cheaply, quickly and efficiently throughout the continent of North America.
“There is nothing in the U.S. government’s description of FTZs that would prevent a foreign government, like China, from operating a shell U.S. company that is in reality owned and financed by the Chinese government and operated through a Chinese government-owned corporation,” Corsi wrote.
Sadly, we are probably going to see a whole lot more of this in the years ahead.
According to Corsi, a professor of economics at Tsighua University in Beijing named Yu Qiao has suggested the following plan as a way to transform the debt that the United States owes China into something more “tangible”…
China would negotiate with the U.S. government to create a “crisis relief facility,” or CRF. The CRF “would be used alongside U.S. federal efforts to stabilize the banking system and to invest in capital-intensive infrastructure projects such as high-speed railroad from Boston to Washington, D.C.
China would pool a portion of its holdings of Treasury bonds under the CFR umbrella to convert sovereign debt into equity. Any CFR funds that were designated for investment in U.S. corporations would still be owned and managed by U.S. equity holders, with the Asians holding minority equity shares “that would, like preferred stock, be convertible.”
The U.S. government would act as a guarantor, “providing a sovereign guarantee scheme to assure the investment principal of the CRF against possible default of targeted companies or projects”.
The Federal Reserve would set up a special account to supply the liquidity the CRF would require to swap sovereign debt into industrial investment in the United States.
Apparently the Bank of China really likes this plan and would like to see something like this implemented.
In the years ahead, perhaps many of you will end up working in a “special economic zone” for a Chinese company on a project that is being financially guaranteed by the U.S. government.
If that sounds like a form of slavery to you, the truth is that you are probably not too far off the mark.
The borrower is the servant of the lender, and we should have never allowed ourselves to get into so much debt.
Now we will pay the price.
To get an idea of how much the world has changed in recent years, just check out this incredible photo which contrasts the decline of Detroit over the years with the amazing rise of Shanghai, China.
Things did not have to turn out this way. Unfortunately, we made decades of incredibly foolish decisions and we wrecked the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen.
Now the future for America looks really bleak.
Or could it be that I am being too pessimistic? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
Historically, small businesses have been the primary engine of new job creation in the United States. If the economy was getting healthy, we would expect to see the number of jobs at new businesses rise. Instead, we are witnessing just the opposite. We are told that the economy is supposed to be “recovering”, but the number of “startup jobs” at new businesses has fallen for five years in a row. According to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data performed by economist Tim Kane, there were almost 12 startup jobs per 1000 Americans back in the year 2006. By 2011, that figure had fallen to less than 8 startup jobs per 1000 Americans. According to Kane, the number of jobs in the United States at businesses that are less than one year old has fallen from 4.1 million in 1994 to 2.5 million in 2010. Overall, the number of “new entrepreneurs and business owners” has fallen by more than 50 percent as a percentage of the population since 1977. The United States was once known as “the land of opportunity”, but now that is fundamentally changing. At this point we truly do have a “crisis of entrepreneurship” in this country, and that is a huge reason why America is in decline. We are witnessing the slow death of the small business in America, and that is incredibly bad news for all of us.
Unfortunately, the problems that small businesses are experiencing right now have been building up for decades. The economic environment for small businesses in America has become incredibly toxic. Sadly, we can see this in the numbers. According to Kane, the following is how the decline in the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration…
Bush Sr.: 11.3
Bush Jr.: 10.8
Obviously, we are headed very much in the wrong direction. Kane speculates about why this may be happening in his paper…
There is anecdotal evidence that the U.S. policy environment has become inadvertently hostile to entrepreneurial employment. At the federal level, high taxes and higher uncertainty about taxes are undoubtedly inhibiting entrepreneurship, but to what degree is unknown. The dominant factor may be new regulations on labor. The passage of the Affordable Care Act is creating a sweeping alteration of the regulatory environment that directly changes how employers engage their workforces, and it will be some time until those changes are understood by employers or scholars. Separately, there has been a federal crackdown since 2009 by the Internal Revenue Service on U.S. employers that hire U.S. workers as independent contractors rather than employees, raising the question of mandatory benefits. New firms tend to use part-time and contract staffing rather than full-time employees during the startup stage. According to Labor Department data, the typical American today only takes home 70 percent of compensation as pay, while the rest is absorbed by the spiraling cost of benefits (e.g., health insurance). The dilemma for U.S. policy is that an American entrepreneur has zero tax or regulatory burden when hiring a consultant/contractor who resides abroad. But that same employer is subject to paperwork, taxation, and possible IRS harassment if employing U.S.-based contractors. Finally, there has been a steady barrier erected to entrepreneurs at the local policy level. Brink Lindsey points out in his book Human Capitalism that the rise of occupational licensing is destroying startup opportunities for poor and middle class Americans.
Kane raises some very good points in his analysis. Without a doubt, small businesses in the United States are being taxed into oblivion. If you doubt this, just read this article.
And the regulatory environment for small businesses is more suffocating than it has ever been before. Unfortunately, our politicians never seem to learn that lesson. During his first term, Obama piled on mountains of new regulations, and now that he has won a second term he is preparing to unleash another massive wave of new regulations.
But many times the worst offenders are politicians on the state and local level. There are some areas of the country (such as California) that have created absolutely nightmarish conditions for small businesses. California had the worst “small business failure rate” in the country in 2010. It was 69 percent higher than the national average. And in 2011, the state of California ranked 50th out of all 50 states in new business creation.
Yet the politicians in California just continue to pile on even more regulations and even more taxes.
Sadly, this kind of thing is happening from coast to coast and it is killing off hordes of small businesses. Just consider the following statistics…
-As a share of the population, the percentage of Americans that are self-employed fell by more than 20 percent between 1991 and 2010.
-As a share of the population, the percentage of “new entrepreneurs and business owners” dropped by a staggering 53 percent between 1977 and 2010.
-The average pay for self-employed Americans declined by $3,721 between 2006 and 2010.
So what needs to be done?
Well, first of all, the tax burden and the regulatory burden on small businesses both need to be greatly reduced.
Secondly, the balance of power in our nation needs to be dramatically shifted. Conservatives run around talking about the need to reduce the power of government and liberals run around talking about the need to reduce the power of corporations, and actually both of them are right.
Our founding fathers wanted to empower individual citizens and small businesses. They never intended for us to have a system where big government and big corporations dominate everything and crush the “little guy” at every opportunity.
Even as we witness the death of the small business in America, corporations are absolutely thriving. The following chart shows how corporate profits after tax have exploded to new record highs in recent years…
So has this been good for workers? No, it has not translated into more jobs and higher wages. In fact, wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP are now at an all-time low…
That is why it is imperative that we change “the rules of the game” so that the balance of power is shifted back in the direction of individual citizens and small businesses. We desperately need to turn back to the principles that this nation was founded upon.
If nothing is done, these trends are going to get even worse. Barack Obama certainly has no plans to reduce the size and the power of the government. Since he was elected, an average of 101 new federal employees have been added to the government payroll every single day…
In the 1,420 days since he took the oath of office, the federal government has daily hired on average 101 new employees. Every day. Seven days a week. All 202 weeks. That makes 143,000 more federal workers than when Obama talked forever on that cold day in January of 2009.
And if nothing is done, the monolithic predator corporations that dominate our economy will just get even larger and even more powerful. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands more small businesses will close up shop all over the country.
Unfortunately, most Americans seem totally apathetic about these issues. They seem content to wear “meggings“, watch “Honey Boo Boo” on television and let our government and corporate overlords run everything. Most of them have even been brainwashed into believing that this is the American way of doing things.
So where do we go from here?
Well, this nation will probably continue to keep doing the same things that it has been doing, and it will continue to get the same results.
The death of small business in America is happening right in front of our eyes, and everybody can see it happening, but very few people are doing anything to stop it.