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Would You Like To Steal 128 Million Dollars?

What would you do with 128 million dollars?  Many people like to daydream about winning the lottery, and I have to admit that when I was much younger I would do the same thing.  If you were suddenly financially set for life, you could quit your job, buy your dream home, travel the world and spend your days doing whatever you felt like doing.  We only get one trip through this crazy journey called life, and an enormous mountain of cash could make the journey a whole lot nicer.  So if you could steal 128 million dollars and be absolutely certain that you could get away with it, would you do it?

You would probably be surprised at how many people out there would answer that question affirmatively.  Money is a very powerful motivator, and if the fear of getting caught was out of the equation a lot of people out there would certainly be willing to “bend the rules” for a cool 128 million dollars.

But let’s turn this around for a moment.

What if someone stole 128 million dollars from you?

How would you feel about that?

Every crime has a victim, and losing that amount of money would be unimaginable.

Perhaps you think that this scenario is way too outlandish to even be considering.  After all, who in the world could steal 128 million dollars from someone and get away with it?

Well, what if I told you that this has been happening every day?

And what if I told you that this has actually been happening every single hour of every single day for many years?

When Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. national debt was just over 10.6 trillion dollars, and when he left the White House 8 years later it was sitting just shy of 20 trillion dollars.

So during those 8 years more than 9 trillion dollars was added to the national debt.  But for purposes of this example we will round down to an even 9 trillion dollars.

When you divide 9 trillion dollars by 8, you get an average of 1.125 trillion dollars that was added to the national debt per year during the Obama era.

Dividing that figure by 365, you find that an average of $3,082,191,780 was added to the national debt every single day during the Obama administration.

And since there are 24 hours in a day, that means that an average of $128,424,657 was stolen from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day while Barack Obama was president.

When you borrow and spend 128 million dollars that you do not have every single hour of every single day, of course that is going to have a huge impact on the economy.  I am often asked why we are not in a horrendous economic depression yet, and this is one of the biggest reasons.  If we were to go back and take 9 trillion dollars of government spending out of the economy over the last eight years, we would be in the worst depression in American history right now.

But even with all of this added debt, the U.S. economy has still only grown at an average yearly rate of just 1.33 percent over the past 10 years, and that is absolutely terrible.

Our leaders in D.C. were able to prop things up in the short-term by going on the greatest debt binge in U.S. history, but of course they have also made our long-term financial problems much, much worse in the process.

Many people don’t realize this, but the growth of the national debt was actually accelerating as the Obama era drew to a close.  In fact, we added more than 1.4 trillion dollars to the debt during fiscal year 2016.

Once upon a time a lot of people out there would get really upset about the growth of our debt, but these days most Americans seem to have accepted that this is how we do things.  This fiscal liberals seem to have won, and our nation is steamrolling down a road toward financial oblivion.

When you point out the economic disasters in Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, it doesn’t seem to register with most Americans that our country is on the exact same path.

By borrowing money, you can live way above your means for a while, but eventually you have to pay a price for being so reckless.  This has been true all throughout human history, and it will be true in our case as well.

In a letter to John Taylor on November 26th, 1798, Thomas Jefferson explained that he wished that he could have added one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution…

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our constitution; I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of it’s constitution; I mean an additional article taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

Jefferson wrote extensively about how government debt is a way for one generation to steal money from another generation.

And what we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is absolutely inexcusable.

The term “child abuse” is not nearly strong enough to describe what is taking place, and I don’t know why more people are not seething with anger over what is being done to them.  I am going to do whatever I can to stop this madness, and I hope that you will help me.

Have you ever run up a lot of credit card debt?  If you really wanted to, you could go out today and start living like a millionaire by running up huge credit card balances.  But eventually a day of reckoning would arrive, and you would get to a point where your debts were no longer sustainable.

It is the same thing on a national level.  We have been living way beyond our means for quite a while, but we have been stealing from future generations in order to do it.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Cashless Society Alert: Visa Will Be Giving Up To $500,000 To Restaurants That Go ‘100% Cashless’

The push toward a cashless society is becoming more of a shove.  Before today I had never heard of “The Visa Cashless Challenge”, but after reading about it I have to say that I am quite alarmed.  Visa is trying to “encourage” businesses to go cashless, and one of the ways that they will be doing this is by “awarding up to $500,000 to 50 eligible US-based small business food service owners who commit to joining the 100% cashless quest”.  The food industry is still one of the last bastions where cash is used very heavily, and so it makes sense that Visa would want to target that segment.  Of course the more people that use cards to pay for meals, the more money that Visa will make.

When I go to restaurants, I almost always use cash, and I know a lot of other people that very much prefer to use cash in those situations as well.  But if Visa has their way, soon all of us will be forced to use some form of digital payment instead.  The following is an excerpt from the press release that Visa issued about this new “challenge”…

Today Visa (NYSE:V) announced it is launching a major effort to encourage businesses to go cashless. Aiming to create a culture where cash is no longer king, the program will give merchants increased ability to accept all forms of global digital payments. Visa will be encouraging and helping merchants go cashless by using innovation to their advantage in order to stay competitively connected to their customers.

To encourage businesses to go cashless, Visa is announcing The Visa Cashless Challenge, with a call to action for small business restaurants, cafés or food truck owners to describe what cashless means for them, their employees and customers. Visa will be awarding up to $500,000 to 50 eligible US-based small business food service owners who commit to joining the 100% cashless quest.

“At Visa, we believe you can be everywhere you want to be, and that it should be easy to pay and be paid in more ways than ever – whether it’s a phone, card, wearable or other device,” said Jack Forestell, head of global merchant solutions, Visa Inc. “With 70% of the world, or more than 5 billion people, connected via mobile device by 20201, we have an incredible opportunity to educate merchants and consumers alike on the effectiveness of going cashless.”

Visa would love to eliminate the use of cash entirely because it would mean much bigger profits for them.

And of course cashless systems hold a lot of appeal for governments as well because such systems would allow them to monitor and track the behavior of their citizens much more closely.

As our society transitions in that direction, we will be told that it is all about fighting money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism, but there are other ways to combat those issues.

In the end, many people like to use cash because of the privacy that it offers, and there are very powerful forces that would like to eliminate that privacy.

For now, however, advocates of a cashless society are pushing the economic benefits of such a system.  Here is more from Visa’s press release

Visa has recognized the net benefits for merchants when they reduce dependency on cash transaction. Visa recently conducted a study that found that if businesses in 100 cities transitioned from cash to digital, their cities stand to experience net benefits of $312 billion per year. According to this study, in New York City alone, businesses could generate an additional $6.8 billion in revenue and save more than 186 million hours in labor, by making greater use of digital payments. This amounts to more than $5 billion annual costs savings for businesses in New York. The complete results with the benefits of going cashless for businesses will be included in the “Cashless Cities: Realizing the Benefits of Digital Payments” report that will be released by Visa later this year.

And of course the push toward a cashless system is not just happening in the United States.

Over in Sweden, many banks will no longer take or give out cash, and about 95 percent of all retail transactions in the entire country are now cashless.

Of course the EU as a whole is rapidly moving in the direction of phasing out cash.  Not too long ago, the European Commission released an “Action Plan” which instructed member states to explore the possibility of “potential upper limits to cash payments”.

Some of the member states have already adopted such “upper limits” on cash transactions, and by slowly lowering those limits over time those countries could eventually phase out cash completely.

And down in Australia, a “Black Economy Taskforce” has been established to go after tax evaders

The Black Economy Taskforce has been established to develop an innovative, forward-looking whole-of-government policy response to combat the black economy in Australia, recognising that these issues cannot be tackled by traditional tax enforcement measures alone.

The black economy refers to people who operate entirely outside the tax and regulatory system or who are known to the authorities but do not correctly report their tax obligations.

Of course this represents a major crackdown on cash, because most people that operate in the “underground economy” tend to use cash very heavily.  According to Martin Armstrong, there has even been a proposal in Australia to put “nano-chips” into large notes for tracking purposes…

Michael Andrew, the head of this 1984 style Taskforce to spy on citizens, has proposed that the government should keep track of your $100 and $50 notes by implanting hi-tech nano-chips. He could simply scan your house to see where you are hiding money that the government can confiscate.

Many of us are alarmed by the rise of a cashless society because we know where it could eventually lead.

If government authorities can watch, track and monitor everything that we do and everywhere we go, that opens the door for great tyranny.

And going cashless would also potentially allow government authorities to act as “gatekeepers” for the system.  In other words, the government could require all of us to meet certain conditions before we were allowed to participate in the cashless system, and if we refused to meet those conditions we would be unable to buy, sell, open a bank account, get a job or do much of anything else in society.

The potential dangers to our liberties and freedoms are great, and hopefully we can get more people to understand what going to a fully cashless society could ultimately mean for all of us.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Dying Middle Class: The Number Of Americans That Can’t Afford Their Own Homes Has More Than Doubled

Have you lost your spot in the middle class yet?  For years I have been documenting all of the numbers that show that the middle class in America has been steadily shrinking, and we just got another one.  According to a report that was produced by researchers at Harvard University, the number of Americans that spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing has more than doubled.  In 2001, nearly 16 million Americans couldn’t afford the homes that they were currently living in, but by 2015 that figure had jumped to 38 million.

When I write about “economic collapse”, I am writing about a process that has been unfolding for decades in this country.  Back in the early 1970s, well over 60 percent of all Americans were considered to be “middle class”, but now that number has fallen below 50 percent.  Never before in our history has the middle class been a minority of the population, but that is where we are at now, and the middle class continues to get even smaller with each passing day.

So these new numbers saddened me, but they didn’t exactly surprise me.  The following comes from NBC News

Over 38 million American households can’t afford their housing, an increase of 146 percent in the past 16 years, according to a recent Harvard housing report.

Under federal guidelines, households that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs are considered “cost burdened” and will have difficulty affording basic necessities like food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

But the number of Americans struggling with their housing costs has risen from almost 16 million in 2001 to 38 million in 2015, according to the Census data crunched in the report. That’s more than double.

Sometimes people try to convince me that the economy is doing “well”, but when I ask them how they are doing personally the news is almost always dreary.  I know so many people that are working for close to minimum wage that used to be solidly in the middle class.

One of the biggest reasons why the middle class is shrinking is because paychecks are staying about the same while the cost of living continues to rise steadily.  Of course one of the biggest factors in the rise of the cost of living is health insurance.

There are many people out there that have seen their health insurance premiums double since Obamacare went into effect.  And one health insurance company actually tried to do this to me and my family too, and so at that time I immediately switched carriers.

But even though virtually every single Republican in Congress campaigned on repealing Obamacare, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen.  In fact, on Sunday Senator John McCain told Face the Nation that the effort to repeal Obamacare is “probably going to be dead”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare is “probably going to be dead.”

“My view is that it’s probably going to be dead,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Support for the bill has been eroding over the July 4th recess, and McCain said he believes Republicans should work with Democrats to craft health care legislation.

As a voter, this greatly frustrates me.  The Republicans got a bill to repeal Obamacare through the House and through the Senate and on to Barack Obama’s desk in early 2016.  So why can’t they get that exact same bill to Donald Trump’s desk now?

We worked really hard to give the Republicans control of the White House, the Senate and the House, and now they are stabbing us in the back once again.

This is just one example of why I intend to be a “wrecking ball” if I get the chance to go to Washington.

We have got to lower health care costs on the middle class.  There is no other option.  Millions of families all over the country are being absolutely suffocated by rising health insurance premiums.  Sometimes I get so frustrated with these RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) that I want to scream.

So many families are living on the edge right now.  Various surveys have discovered that somewhere around two-thirds of the entire nation is living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, and one study found that 69 percent of all Americans do not have an adequate emergency fund.

But when you are living on the edge, there is always a danger that you could go over.

Every month, more Americans fall out of the middle class and into poverty.  Even during this so-called “economic recovery”, we are seeing alarming spikes in poverty all over the nation.  For example, the number of homeless people living on the street in New York City has increased by 39 percent over the past year…

Street homelessness in New York increased by 39 percent in 2017, according to the latest annual survey by the Department of Homeless Services.

There were 3,892 homeless and unsheltered people on the night of February 6, 2017, up from 2,794 people at the same time last year, said the report, which is conducted on one night of the year. This is the highest increase since 2005, when Michael Bloomberg was mayor.

And bankruptcies continue to rise as well.  Consumer bankruptcies were up once again last month, and commercial bankruptcies continue their very disturbing climb

Commercial Chapter 11 bankruptcies – an effort to restructure the business, rather than liquidating it – jumped 16% year-over-year in June to 581 filings across the US. Total commercial bankruptcies of all types, by large corporations to tiny sole proprietorships, rose 2% year-over-year to 3,385 filings, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. This was up 39% from June 2015 and up 18% from June 2014.

Since the end of the last recession, the middle class has continued to get smaller and smaller in this country, and now it appears that another economic downturn is upon us.

Are we just going to stand aside and do nothing as the middle class in America dies?

The Democrats don’t seem to care.

The Republicans don’t seem to care.

If we continue to do the same things that we have been doing, we are going to continue to get the same results.

In other words, unless we start doing things differently the middle class in America is going to continue to be systematically eviscerated.

Wake up America.  The middle class is dying and if we want to save it we have to take action now.

69 Percent Of Americans Do Not Have An Adequate Emergency Fund

Do you have an emergency fund?  If you even have one penny in emergency savings, you are already ahead of about one-fourth of the country.  I write about this stuff all the time, but it always astounds me how many Americans are literally living on the edge financially.  Back in 2008 when the economy tanked and millions of people lost their jobs, large numbers of Americans suddenly couldn’t pay their bills because they were living paycheck to paycheck.  Now the stage is set for it to happen again.  Another major recession is going to happen at some point, and when it does millions of people are going to get blindsided by it.

Despite all of our emphasis on education, we never seem to teach our young people how to handle money.  But this is one of the most basic skills that everyone needs.  Personally, I went through high school, college and law school without ever being taught about the dangers of going into debt or the importance of saving money.

If you are ever going to build any wealth, you have got to spend less than you earn.  That is just basic common sense.  Unfortunately, nearly one out of every four Americans does not have even a single penny in emergency savings…

Bankrate’s newly released June Financial Security Index survey indicates that 24 percent of Americans have not saved any money at all for their emergency funds.

This is despite experts recommending that people strive for a savings cushion equivalent to the amount needed to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses.

For years, I have been telling my readers that at a minimum they need to have an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of expenses.  It is great to have more than that, but everyone should strive to have at least a six month cushion.

Unfortunately, that same Bankrate survey found that only 31 percent of Americans actually have such a cushion

The June survey also found that 31 percent of Americans have what Bankrate considers an ‘adequate’ savings cushion — six or more months’ worth of money to pay expenses — which means that nearly two-thirds of the country isn’t saving enough money.

That means that a whopping 69 percent of all Americans do not have an adequate emergency fund.

So what is going to happen if another great crisis arrives and millions of people suddenly lose their jobs?

Just like last time, mortgage defaults will start soaring and countless numbers of families will lose their homes.

If you do not have anything to fall back on, you can lose your spot in the middle class really fast.  And in the case of a truly catastrophic national crisis, trying to operate without any money at all is going to be exceedingly challenging.

Just recently, the Federal Reserve conducted a survey that discovered that 44 percent of all Americans do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”.

That is almost half the country.

And a different survey by CareerBuilder found that 75 percent of all Americans have lived paycheck to paycheck “at least some of the time”.

Unfortunately, in a desperate attempt to make ends meet many of us continue to pile up more and more debt.  According to Moneyish, Americans have now accumulated more than a trillion dollars of credit card debt, more than a trillion dollars of student loan debt, and more than a trillion dollars of auto loan debt.

We’ve racked up $1 trillion in credit card debt — and that’s just a fraction of what we owe. That’s according to data released this year from the Federal Reserve, which found that U.S. consumers owe $1.0004 trillion on their cards, up 6.2% from a year ago; this is the highest amount owed since January 2009. What’s more, this isn’t the only consumer debt to top $1 trillion. We now also owe more than $1 trillion for our cars, and for our student loans, the data showed.

Overall, U.S. consumers are now more than 12 trillion dollars in debt.

We often criticize the federal government for being nearly 20 trillion dollars in debt.  And that criticism is definitely valid.  What we are doing to future generations of Americans is beyond criminal.

But are we not doing something similar to ourselves?

When you divide the total amount of consumer debt by the size of the U.S. population, it breaks down to roughly $40,000 for every man, woman and child in our country.

When someone lends you money, you have to pay back more than you originally borrow.  And in the case of high interest debt, you can end up paying back several times what you originally borrowed.

If you carry a balance from month to month on a high interest credit card, it is absolutely crippling you financially.  But many Americans don’t understand this.  Instead, they just keep sending off the “minimum payment” every month because that is the easiest thing to do.

If you ever want to achieve financial freedom, you have got to get rid of your toxic debts.  There are some forms of low interest debt, such as mortgage debt, that are not going to financially cripple you.  But anything with a high rate of interest you will want to pay off as soon as possible.

And everyone needs a financial cushion.  Unless you can guarantee that your life is always going to go super smoothly and you are never going to have any problems, you need an emergency fund to fall back on.

Yes, you may need to make some sacrifices in order to make that happen.  Nobody ever said that it would be easy.  But just about everyone has somewhere that a little “belt tightening” can be done, and in the long-term it will be worth it.

When you don’t have to constantly worry about how you are going to pay the bills next month, it will help you sleep a lot easier at night.  Many of us have put a lot of unnecessary stress on ourselves by spending money that we didn’t have for things that we really didn’t need.

And now is the time to get your financial house in order, because it appears that another major economic downturn is not too far away.

The Tens Of Millions Of Forgotten Americans That The U.S. Economy Has Left Behind

The evidence that the middle class in America is dying continues to mount.  As you will see below, nearly half the country would be unable “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”, and about two-thirds of the population lives paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.  Of course the economy has not been doing that well overall in recent years.  Barack Obama was the only president in all of U.S. history not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and U.S. GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017 was an anemic 0.7 percent.  During the Obama era, it is true that wealthy enclaves in New York, northern California and Washington D.C. did thrive, but meanwhile most of the rest of the country has been left behind.

Today, there are approximately 205 million working age Americans, and close to half of them have no financial cushion whatsoever.  In fact, a new survey conducted by the Federal Reserve has found that 44 percent of Americans do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”

Nearly eight years into an economic recovery, nearly half of Americans didn’t have enough cash available to cover a $400 emergency. Specifically, the survey found that, in line with what the Fed had disclosed in previous years, 44% of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense like a car repair or medical bill, or would have to borrow money or sell something to meet it.

Not only that, the same survey discovered that 23 percent of U.S. adults will not be able to pay their bills this month

Just as concerning were other findings from the study: just under one-fourth of adults, or 23%, are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full while 25% reported skipping medical treatments due to cost in the prior year. Additionally, 28% of adults who haven’t retired yet reported to being grossly unprepared, indicating they had no retirement savings or pension whatsoever.

But just because you can pay your bills does not mean that you are doing well.  Tens of millions of Americans barely scrape by from paycheck to paycheck each and every month.

In fact, a survey by CareerBuilder discovered that 75 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time…

Three-quarters of Americans (75 percent) are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. Thirty-eight percent of employees said they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck, 15 percent said they usually do and 23 percent said they always do. While making ends meet is a struggle for many post-recession, those with minimum wage jobs continue to be hit the hardest. Of workers who currently have a minimum wage job or have held one in the past, 66 percent said they couldn’t make ends meet and 50 percent said they had to work more than one job to make it work.

So please don’t be fooled into thinking that the U.S. economy is doing well because the stock market has been hitting new record highs.

The stock market was soaring just before the financial crisis of 2008 too, and we remember how that turned out.

The truth is that the long-term trends that have been eating away at the foundations of the U.S. economy continue to accelerate, and the real economy is in substantially worse shape this year than it was last year.

Just about everywhere you look, businesses are struggling and stores are shutting down.  Yes, there are a few wealthy enclaves where everything seems wonderful for the moment, but for most of the country it seems like the last recession never ended.

In a desperate attempt to stay afloat, a lot of families have been turning to debt to make ends meet.  U.S. household debt has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 trillion dollars, but we are starting to see an alarming rise in auto loan defaults and consumer bankruptcies.  This is precisely what we would expect to see if the U.S. economy was moving into another major recession.

In fact, we are seeing all sorts of signs that point to a major economic slowdown right now.  Just check out the following from Wolf Richter’s latest article

Over the past five decades, each time commercial and industrial loan balances at US banks shrank or stalled as companies cut back or as banks tightened their lending standards in reaction to the economy they found themselves in, a recession was either already in progress or would start soon. There has been no exception since the 1960s. Last time this happened was during the Financial Crisis.

Now it’s happening again – with a 1990/91 recession twist.

Commercial and industrial loans outstanding fell to $2.095 trillion on May 10, according to the Fed’s Board of Governors weekly report on Friday. That’s down 4.5% from the peak on November 16, 2016. It’s below the level of outstanding C&I loans on October 19. And it marks the 30th week in a row of no growth in C&I loans.

Perhaps we will be very fortunate and break this pattern that has held up all the way back to the 1960s.

But I wouldn’t count on it.  Here is what Zero Hedge has to say about this alarming contraction in commercial and industrial loans…

Here’s the bottom line: unless there is a sharp rebound in loan growth in the next 3-6 months – whether due to greater demand or easier supply – this most accurate of leading economic indicators guarantees that a recession is now inevitable.

We are way overdue for a recession, the hard economic numbers are screaming that one is coming, and the financial markets are absolutely primed for a major crash.

As Americans, we tend to have such short memories.  Every time a new financial bubble starts forming, a lot of people out there start behaving as if it can last indefinitely.

But of course no financial bubble is going to last forever.  They all burst eventually, and now the biggest one in U.S. history is about to end in spectacular fashion.

Trump will get a lot of the blame since he is the current occupant of the White House, but the truth is that the conditions for the next crisis have been building up for many years, and the horrors that the U.S. economy is heading for were entirely predictable.

U.S. Auto Sales Plunge Dramatically As The Consumer Debt Bubble Continues To Collapse

One sector of the economy that is acting as if we were already in the middle of a horrible recession is the auto industry.  We just got sales figures for the month of April, and every single major U.S. auto manufacturer missed their sales projections.  And compared to one year ago, sales were way down across the entire industry.  When you add this latest news to all of the other signals that the U.S. economy is slowly down substantially, a very disturbing picture begins to emerge.  Either the U.S. economy is steamrolling toward a major slowdown, or this is one heck of a head fake.

One analyst that has been waiting for auto sales to start declining is Graham Summers.  According to Summers, the boom in auto sales that we witnessed in previous years was largely fueled by subprime lending, and now that subprime auto loan bubble is starting to burst

Auto-loan generation has gone absolutely vertical since 2009, rising an incredible 56% in seven years. Even more incredibly roughly 1/3 of this ~$450 billion in new loans are subprime AKA garbage.

In the simplest of terms, this is Subprime 2.0… the tip of the $199 TRILLION debt iceberg, just as subprime mortgages were for the Housing Bubble.

I’ve been watching this industry for months now, waiting for the signal that it’s ready to explode.

That signal just hit.

The signal that Summers is referring to is a persistent decline in U.S. auto sales.  It would be easy to dismiss one bad month, but U.S. auto sales have been falling for a number of months now, and the sales figures for April were absolutely dismal.  Just check out how much sales declined in April compared to one year ago for the biggest auto manufacturers

General Motors: -5.8 percent

Ford: -7.1 percent

Fiat Chrysler: -7.0 percent

Toyota: -4.4 percent

Honda: -7.0 percent

For auto manufacturers, those are truly frightening numbers, and nobody is really projecting that they will get better any time soon.

At the same time, unsold vehicles continue to pile up on dealer lots at a staggering pace

Meanwhile, inventory days are still trending higher as OEMs continue to push product on to dealer lots even though sale through to end customers has seemingly stalled.

GM, one of the few OEMs to actually disclose dealer inventories in monthly sales releases, reported that April inventories increased to 100 days (935,758 vehicles) from 98 days at the end of March and just 71 days (681,402 vehicles) in April 2016.

So why is this happening?

Of course there are a lot of factors, but one of the main reasons for this crisis is the fact that U.S. consumers are already drowning in debt and are simply tapped out

Now, a new survey from Northwestern Mutual helps to shed some light on why Americans are completely incapable of saving money.

First, roughly 50% of Americans have debt balances, excluding mortgages mind you, of over $25,000, with the average person owing over $37,000, versus a median personal income of just over $30,000.

Therefore, it’s not difficult to believe, as Northwestern Mutual points out, that 45% of Americans spend up to half of their monthly take home pay on debt service alone.…which, again, excludes mortgage debt.

When you are already up to your eyeballs in debt, it is hard just to make payments on that debt.  So for many American families a new car is simply out of the question.

And it isn’t just the U.S. auto industry that is in trouble.  The credit card industry is also starting to show signs of distress

Synchrony Financial – GE’s spin-off that issues credit cards for Walmart and Amazon – disclosed on Friday that, despite assurances to the contrary just three months ago, net charge-off would rise to at least 5% this year. Its shares plunged 16% and are down 27% year-to-date.

Credit-card specialist Capital One disclosed in its Q1 earnings report last week that provisions for credit losses rose to $2 billion, with net charge-offs jumping 28% year-over-year to $1.5 billion.

If you didn’t understand all of that, what is essentially being said is that credit card companies are starting to have to set aside more money for bad credit card debts.

Previously I have reported that consumer bankruptcies and commercial bankruptcies are both rising at the fastest rate that we have seen since the last recession.  This trend is starting to spook lenders, and so many of them are starting to pull back on various forms of lending.  For example, Bloomberg is reporting that lending by regional U.S. banks was down significantly during the first quarter of 2017…

Total loans at the 15 largest U.S. regional banks declined by about $10 billion to $1.73 trillion in the first quarter, compared with the previous three-month period, the first such drop in four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. All but two of those banks missed analysts’ estimates for total loans, as a slump in commercial and industrial lending sapped growth.

This is how a credit crunch begins.  When the flow of credit starts restricting, that slows down economic activity, and in turn that usually results in even more credit defaults.  Of course that just causes lending to get even tighter, and pretty soon you have a spiral that is hard to stop.

Just about everywhere you look, there are early warning signs of a new economic downturn.  And just like we saw prior to the great crash of 2008, those that are wise are getting prepared for what is coming ahead of time.  Unfortunately, most people usually end up getting blindsided by economic downturns because they believe the mainstream media when they insist that everything is going to be just fine.

Thankfully, there are at least a few people that are telling the truth, and one of them is Marc Faber.  Just a few days ago, he told CNBC that the U.S. economy is “terminally ill”…

“Dr. Doom” Marc Faber says the U.S. economy is “terminally ill,” and the current outlook doesn’t seem to be improving.

“The U.S. has run a deficit for [so long],” he said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Futures Now.” “The conditions today are more fragile than they were ever before, and unless somebody comes and introduces minus 5 percent interest rates, I think the economy is really not in such a great shape.”

“I’m actually amazed that people are so optimistic,” the editor and publisher of the “Gloom, Boom & Doom Report” added.

I have to agree with Faber on this point.

We are more primed for a major economic downturn and a horrifying stock market crash than we were back in 2008.

It isn’t going to take much to push us over the edge, and with our world becoming more unstable with each passing month, it appears that our day of reckoning is likely to come sooner rather than later.

Credit Card Nation: Why The Facebook Killer And The U.S. Congress Have A Great Deal In Common

Most Americans have seemingly convinced themselves that as a society we will never pay a great price for going into so much debt and that we will never pay a great price for the horrendous crimes against humanity that we are committing on a daily basis.  If you don’t understand what I am talking about, just keep reading the rest of this article.  Just as there are consequences for our actions individually, so there are also consequences for our actions as a society.  And although our national day of reckoning has been put off for quite some time, when it does finally arrive the pain is going to be absolutely unimaginable.

Just recently, I was astounded to learn that the total amount of credit card debt in the United States has crossed the trillion dollar mark.  It boggles my mind that so many Americans could be so foolish, because credit card debt is one of the worst forms of debt in existence, and financial experts all over the country have spent an extraordinary amount of time and energy trying to get this message across to people.

But even though people know that going into credit card debt is bad, they just keep on doing it anyway.  We have become a “buy now, pay later” society that gives very little consideration to long-term consequences.

On a national level, we are now nearly 20 trillion dollars in debt, and a historic showdown over government spending and debt threatens to absolutely paralyze the federal government at the end of this month.  At this point many believe that it will be virtually impossible for Congress to avoid a government shutdown on April 29th, and once it begins Donald Trump’s entire agenda will come to a complete and total crashing halt until the crisis is resolved.  The following comes from David Stockman

In the meanwhile, everything else — health care reform, tax cuts, infrastructure — will become backed-up in an endless queue of legislative impossibilities. Accordingly, there will be no big tax cut in 2017 or even next year. For all practical purposes Uncle Sam is broke and his elected managers are paralyzed.

The Treasury will be out of cash and up against a hard stop debt limit of $19.8 trillion in a matter of months. But long before that there will be a taste of the Shutdown Syndrome on April 28 owing to the accumulating number of “poison pill” “riders” to the CR.

These include the virtual certainty of riders to the House bill to “defund” Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities. Other extraneous amendments will also possibly include funds demanded by the White House to start the Mexican Wall, enhance deportations and fund some of Trump’s $54 billion defense increase.

I am so glad that Stockman mentioned Planned Parenthood, because the decision whether or not to continue funding Planned Parenthood is going to be one of the central issues of this upcoming crisis.

Currently, the U.S. government gives Planned Parenthood roughly $500,000,000 a year.  By law, none of that money is supposed to be used to provide abortions, but everyone knows what the real deal is.

Some Planned Parenthood clinics do provide other services, but at the end of the day Planned Parenthood’s core business is abortion.  In fact, since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 they have killed far more babies than anyone else in the United States by a very wide margin.

And for decades, the U.S. government has been the number one source of funding for Planned Parenthood.  In fact, there are questions as to whether or not Planned Parenthood would be able to continue as a viable business without money from the federal government.

Over the years, when members of Congress have voted to shower Planned Parenthood with hundreds of millions of dollars a year, they have not done it in the heat of the moment.  Rather, their votes have been the result of cold, calculated decision-making processes.

In other words, the members of Congress that have been voting to keep funding Planned Parenthood year after year have the blood of millions of dead children on their hands, and there is very little difference between them and Facebook killer Steve Stephens.

When Stephens broadcast the cold-hearted murder of a 74-year-old man on Facebook on Sunday, he instantly became a worldwide celebrity.  And even though most people in the country have now seen his face, he continues to somehow elude authorities.

What Stephens has done is absolutely horrific, and when he is finally caught he will pay greatly for his crimes.

Just like Stephens, America is on the run today.  We keep thinking that we will never have to pay a price for the tens of millions of children that we have killed, and our government continues to fund the slaughtering of the innocents that goes on every single day in this nation.

But now Congress is going to be given one more chance to make the right decision.

The Republicans have control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.  They have the power to defund Planned Parenthood, but it is going to take a tremendous amount of resolve.

That is because under the current rules it is going to take 60 votes to get a spending agreement through the Senate, and so the Republicans will need at least 8 Democratic votes to get any bill to Trump’s desk.

Sadly, the Democrats are pledging to stretch out a government shutdown indefinitely if Republicans try to defund Planned Parenthood.

So what will the Republicans do?  Well, they could change the rules in the Senate to require only a simple majority vote on spending bills, and that would essentially be the “thermonuclear option”.

Or they could give in, but if they do that it would likely mean that Planned Parenthood will never be defunded, because the Republicans will never have a better opportunity than they do right now.

And I have a feeling that is what is going to happen.  I have a feeling that the Republicans are going to give in at some point and agree to keep giving Planned Parenthood half a billion dollars a year.

If that is indeed what happens, both the Democrats and the Republicans that help pass such a bill will be cold-blooded killers just like Facebook killer Steve Stephens, only those Democrats and those Republicans will have far more blood on their hands than Stephens does.

Most people do not realize this, but without a doubt this is one of the most critical moments in modern American history.  And if the funding of Planned Parenthood continues, I have a feeling that is going to mean that our national day of reckoning is much closer than most people would dare to imagine.

If we do not stop what we are doing, someday our crimes will catch up to us, and the debt that we will owe at that point will be far beyond what we can bear to pay.

The Globalists Strike Back With A Major Push Toward A Cashless Society

The Beast System - Public DomainTheir agenda may be on the rocks in the United States at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that the globalists are giving up.  In fact, a major push toward a cashless society is being made in the European Union right now.  Last May we learned that the 500 euro note is being completely eliminated, and just a few weeks ago the European Commission released a new “Action Plan” which instructs member states to explore “potential upper limits to cash payments”.  In the name of “fighting terrorism”, this “Action Plan” discusses the benefits of “prohibitions for cash payments above a specific threshold” and it says that those prohibitions should include “virtual currencies (such as BitCoin) and prepaid instruments (such as pre-paid credit cards) when they are used anonymously.”

This new document does not mention what an appropriate threshold would be for member states, but we do know that Spain already bans certain cash transactions above 2,500 euros, and Italy and France already ban cash transactions above 1,000 euros.

This is a perfect way to transition to a cashless society without creating too much of an uproar.  By setting a maximum legal level for cash transactions and slowly lowering it, in effect you can slowly but surely phase cash out without people understanding what is happening.

And there are many places in Europe where it is very difficult to even use cash at this point.  In Sweden, many banks no longer take or give out cash, and approximately 95 percent of all retail transactions are entirely cashless.  So even though Sweden has not officially banned cash, using cash is no longer practical in most situations.  In fact, many tourists are shocked to find out that they cannot even pay bus fare with cash.

So most of Europe is already moving in this direction, and now this new Action Plan is intended to accelerate the transition toward a cashless society.  The public is being told that these measures are being taken to fight money laundering and terrorism, but of course that is only a small part of the truth.  The following comes from the Anti-Media

The European Action Plan doesn’t mention a specific dollar amount for restrictions, but as expected, their reasoning for the move is to thwart money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Border checks between countries have already been bolstered to help implement these new standards on hard assets. Although these end goals are plausible, there are other clear motivations for governments to target paper money that aren’t as noble.

In a truly cashless society, governments would be able to track where everybody is and what everybody is doing all the time.  And in order to have access to the cashless system, people would have to comply with whatever requirements governments wanted to impose on their helpless populations.  The potential for tyranny that this would create would be off the charts, but very few people seem greatly alarmed by the move toward a cashless system all over the globe.

Even in the United States there are calls for a cashless system.  For example, the former chief economist for the IMF wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal not too long ago in which he recommended the elimination of the $100 bill

“There is little debate among law-enforcement agencies that paper currency, especially large notes such as the U.S. $100 bill, facilitates crime: racketeering, extortion, money laundering, drug and human trafficking, the corruption of public officials, not to mention terrorism. There are substitutes for cash—cryptocurrencies, uncut diamonds, gold coins, prepaid cards—but for many kinds of criminal transactions, cash is still king. It delivers absolute anonymity, portability, liquidity and near-universal acceptance.”

Over in Asia restrictions are being put on cash as well.  Legendary investor Jim Rogers commented on what is currently happening in India during one recent podcast

The time will come when you won’t be able to buy a cup of coffee without being traced, warns investment guru Jim Rogers. To control people, governments will increasingly seek to hunt down cash spending, he adds.

“Governments are always looking out for themselves first, and it’s the same old thing that has been going on for hundreds of years. The Indians recently did the same thing. They withdrew 86 percent of the currency in circulation, and they have now made it illegal to spend more than, I think it’s about $4,000 in any cash transaction. In France you cannot use more than, I think it’s a €1,000,” said Rogers in an interview with MacroVoices Podcast.

The reason why this is taking place all over the planet is because this is a global agenda.

The globalists ultimately plan to completely eliminate cash, and this will give them an unprecedented level of control over humanity.

One thing that many fear may someday be implemented is some form of microchip identification system.  In order to access the cashless grid, you would need your “ID chip” so that the system could positively identify you, but of course there are millions of people around the world that do not intend to get chipped under any circumstances.

In the old days, you would be labeled a “conspiracy theorist” just for suggesting that they may try to chip all of us one day, but in 2017 things have completely changed.

Just look at what is happening in Nevada.  A bill has been introduced in the state senate that would outlaw the “forced microchipping of people”

State Sen. Becky Harris said a bill to prohibit forced microchipping of people is not as far-fetched as it might seem, because it happens in some places around the world.

Senate Bill 109 would make it a Class C felony to require someone to be implanted with a radio frequency identifier, such as microchips placed in pets.

The idea for the bill came from a constituent, the Las Vegas Republican said.

If that sounds very strange to you, then you may not know that companies all around the globe are already starting to explore this type of technology.  For instance, a company in Belgium called NewFusion has actually begun to microchip their employees

In a move that could be lifted straight from science fiction, workers at a Belgian marketing firm are being offered the chance to have microchips implanted in their bodies.

The chips contain personal information and provide access to the company’s IT systems and headquarters, replacing existing ID cards.

The controversial devices raise questions about personal security and safety, including whether they may allow the movements of people with implants to be tracked.

Technology like this often starts off being “voluntary”, but then after enough people willingly accept it the transition to “mandatory” is not too difficult.

We live at one of the most critical moments in all of human history, and the globalists are certainly not going to lay down and die just because Donald Trump won the election.

The U.S. represents less than five percent of the population of the planet, and in most of the world the agenda of the globalists is on track and is rapidly advancing.

The globalists want a unified one world economy, a unified one world religion and a unified one world government.  The election of Donald Trump was a blow to the globalists, but it has also made them more dangerous, more ruthless and more determined than ever before.

And in case you think that using the term “globalists” is a bit strange, the truth is that even the New York Times is using it to describe the global elite and their global agenda.

We are in a life or death battle for the future of our society, and the globalists are never going to give up until they get what they want.  So now is not a time for complacency, because the very future of our country is at stake.

Recession 2017? Things Are Happening That Usually Never Happen Unless A New Recession Is Beginning

New Crisis - Public DomainIs the U.S. economy about to get slammed by a major recession?  According to Gallup, U.S. economic confidence has soared to the highest level ever recorded, but meanwhile a whole host of key economic indicators are absolutely screaming that a new recession is beginning.  And if the U.S. economy does officially enter recession territory in 2017, it certainly won’t be a shock, because the truth is that we are well overdue for one.  Donald Trump has inherited quite an economic mess from Barack Obama, and it was probably inevitable that we were headed for a significant economic downturn no matter who won the election.

One of the key indicators to watch is average weekly hours.  When the economy shifts into recession mode, employers tend to start cutting back hours, and that is happening right now.  In fact, as Graham Summers has pointed out, we just witnessed the largest percentage decline in average weekly hours since the recession of 2008…

Average Weekly Hours

In addition to the decline in hours, Summers has suggested that there are a number of other reasons to believe that a new recession is here…

The fact is that the GDP growth of 4%-5% is not just around the corner. The US most likely slid into recession in the last three months. GDP growth collapsed in 4Q16, with a large portion of the “growth” coming from accounting gimmicks.

Consider the following:

  • Tax receipts indicate the US is in recession.
  • Gross private domestic investment indicates were are in a recession.
  • Retailers are showing that the US consumer is tapped out (see AMZN’s recent miss).
  • UPS, another economic bellweather, dramatically lowered 2017 forecasts.

To me, even more alarming is the tightening of lending standards.  In our debt-based economy, the flow of credit is absolutely critical to economic growth, and when credit starts to get tight that almost always leads to a recession.

So the fact that lending standards have now tightened for medium and large sized firms for six quarters in a row is very bad news.  The following comes from Business Insider

“Although modest over the past couple of quarters, it is still worth noting that this is now the sixth quarter in succession that standards have tightened for large and medium sized firms,” Deutsche Bank economist Jim Reid wrote in a research note to clients.

“This usually only happens in recessions.”

Reid is 100 percent correct on this point.  This is precisely the kind of thing that we would expect to see if a new recession was beginning, and if this trend continues it is hard to imagine that the U.S. economy will be able to continue to grow.

And it is interesting to note that job growth at S&P 500 companies has gone negative for the first time since the last recession, and so large firms are definitely starting to feel the pressure.

Simultaneously, lending standards are also tightening up for consumers

“The most notable tightening in standards though was in consumer loans,” the Fed said. “During the quarter, banks reported an 8.3% net tightening in credit standards for credit cards and 11.6% net tightening for auto loans.”

US consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity and is thus a key driver of growth in the world’s largest economy.

Those numbers for credit cards and auto loans are major red flags.

It is very simple.  Tighter credit means less economic activity which means slower economic growth.  The U.S. economy grew at a dismal 1.9 percent annual rate during the 4th quarter of 2016, and it would be absolutely no surprise if we end up with a negative number for the first quarter of 2017.

One of the big reasons why lending standards are tightening is because bankruptcies are rising.

As I reported the other day, consumer bankruptcies just rose on a year-over-year basis in back to back months for the first time in almost seven years.  Commercial bankruptcies had already been rising on a year-over-year basis throughout 2016, and so the fact that consumer bankruptcies have now joined the party is a very bad sign.

And we have also just learned that real median household income declined in 2016

Its official! The spectacular Obama/Fed “recovery” produced no increase in real medin household income in 2016 (the last year of Obama’s reign of [economic] error). In fact, real median annual household income in December 2016 ($57,827) was 0.9 percent lower than in December 2015 ($58,356).

Yes, I understand that there is a tremendous amount of optimism out there right now because of Donald Trump.

But the truth is that it is literally going to take some sort of an economic miracle to avoid a recession.

And if a recession is going to happen anyway, the Trump administration should want it to occur as quickly as possible.

You see, if a recession starts a year from now, it will be much more difficult for Trump to blame it on Obama.  But if a recession starts right now, he will definitely be able to argue that it happened because of the mess that he inherited from the last administration.

In addition, the sooner the next recession ends the sooner the next recovery can begin.  If a recession is still going on during the 2020 campaign, that would be really bad for Trump, but if a recovery is well underway by then that would be really good for his chances.

If you doubt this, just go back and look at the 1984 campaign.  After a very difficult recession, the U.S. economy bounced back strongly and Ronald Reagan was able to ride that momentum to an easy victory.

So this may sound very strange to many of you, but the truth is that if a new recession is coming Trump supporters should want it to happen as rapidly as possible.

Unfortunately, once a new recession begins it may not play out like recessions normally do.  The U.S. government is 20 trillion dollars in debt, we are in the midst of one of the biggest stock market bubbles in history, and our planet is becoming more unstable with each passing day.  So even though Trump is in the White House and Obama is gone, let there be no doubt that a catastrophic economic crisis could literally erupt at any moment.  I continue to encourage my readers to do all that they can to get prepared, because those that are prepared in advance will have the best chance of successfully getting through what is coming.

Unfortunately, a lot of people out there seem to believe that all of our problems have somehow evaporated just because Donald Trump is now living in the White House.

That is simply not true, and we all need to be praying for guidance and wisdom for Trump and his team as they prepare to deal with the great challenges that are ahead for our nation.

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