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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Their 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.
“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.
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.
Is 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…
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.
For many Americans, the quality of Christmas is determined by the quality of the presents. This is especially true for our children, and some of them literally spend months anticipating their haul on Christmas morning. I know that when I was growing up Christmas was all about the presents. Yes, adults would give lip service to the other elements of Christmas, but all of the other holiday activities could have faded away and it still would have been Christmas as long as presents were under that tree on the morning of December 25th. Perhaps things are different in your family, but it is undeniable that for our society as a whole gifts are the central feature of the holiday season.
And that is why so many parents feel such immense pressure to spend a tremendous amount of money on gifts for their children each year. Of course this pressure that they feel is constantly being reinforced by television ads and big Hollywood movies that continuously hammer home what a “good Christmas” should look like.
Once again in 2016, parents will spend far more money than they should because they want to make their children happy. According to a brand new survey from T. Rowe Price, parents in the United States will spend an average of 422 dollars per child this holiday season…
More than half of parents report they aim to get everything on their kids’ wish lists this year, spending an average of $422 per child, according to a new survey from T. Rowe Price.
To me, that seems like a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a single child, but this is apparently what people are doing.
But can most families really afford to be spending so wildly?
Of course not. As I have detailed previously, 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. That means that about two-thirds of the country is essentially living paycheck to paycheck.
So all of this reckless spending brings with it a lot of additional financial pressure. But because we are a “buy now, pay later” society, we do it anyway. We are willing to mortgage a little bit of the future in order to have a nice Christmas now.
The SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI) annual Holiday Financial Confidence survey reveals that 43 percent of Americans feel pressure to spend more than they can afford during the holiday season. Pressure to overspend is up four percent since the survey was first conducted in 2014 by Harris Poll, but down slightly from a high of 46 percent last year.
Ultimately, much of this spending ends up going on credit cards, and credit card debt is one of the most insidious forms of debt.
But at least one indicator suggests that much of the US is actually struggling financially: Americans are piling on credit card debt at record levels that we haven’t seen since the financial crisis.
Households added $21.9 billion in credit card debt in the third quarter — the largest increase for that period since 2007 — bringing the amount of outstanding credit card debt to $927.1 billion, according to the latest study from WalletHub.
Debt takes future consumption and brings it into the present, but there is a price to be paid for doing that.
Because we have to pay interest on that debt, we always have to pay back more money than we originally borrowed. And because interest rates on credit cards are so high, paying back credit card debt can be particularly painful.
According to Business Insider, the average American household currently owes nearly $8,000 to the credit card companies, and it is being suggested that this is a sign that the economy is much weaker than we have been led to believe…
The fact that the average household with debt now owes $7,941 to credit card companies, according to WalletHub, suggests that America’s putative economic strength might be a mirage — that the economy may in fact be a lot weaker than all the happy indicators are leading people to believe.
“I think it is a cause of concern because it says consumers are struggling despite the low unemployment figures,” says Lucia Dunn, an economics professor at Ohio State University. “I think the rise in debt arises from weakness in the economy. People whose incomes have dropped may be trying to maintain an older level of consumption by just charging everything.”
And guess what?
The Federal Reserve just raised interest rates, and so that means that paying off credit card debt will be even more painful for Americans in 2017 than it was in 2016.
Could it be possible that we have lost our way?
Could it be possible that we need to entirely rethink our approach to “the holiday season”?
According to an old NBC News story, one survey discovered that 45 percent of all Americans would prefer to skip Christmas altogether because of all the financial pressure…
Some 45 percent of those polled said the holiday season brings so much financial pressure, they would prefer to skip it altogether. Almost half said their level of stress related to holiday expenses is high or extremely high.
That’s probably because nearly the same amount — some 45 percent — say they do not expect to have enough money set aside to cover holiday expenses.
As a society, we need to learn that things will never make us happy.
Life is not about accumulating toys. Rather, we were created to love and to be loved.
If you want to live a great life, learn how to be a person of great love. Unfortunately, most people never seem to learn that lesson.
A couple of months ago, I reported that the total amount of household debt in the United States had reached a grand total of 12.3 trillion dollars.
If you break that number down, it comes to approximately $38,557 for every man, woman and child in the entire country.
In addition to that, we must also remember that corporate debt has approximately doubled while Barack Obama has been in the White House, state and local government debt is completely out of control, and the U.S. national debt is now sitting just under 20 trillion dollars.
Our greed is absolutely killing us, but we can’t stop.
So we will continue to party until eventually somebody comes along and turns out the lights.
Now that Donald Trump has won the election, the Federal Reserve has decided now would be a great time to start raising interest rates and slowing down the economy. Over the past several decades, the U.S. economy has always slowed down whenever interest rates have been raised significantly, and on Wednesday the Federal Open Market Committee unanimously voted to raise rates by a quarter point. Stocks immediately started falling, and by the end of the session it was their worst day since October 11th.
The funny thing is that the Federal Reserve could have been raising rates all throughout 2016, but they held off because they didn’t want to hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the election.
And during Barack Obama’s eight years, there has only been one rate increase the entire time up until this point.
But now that Donald Trump is headed for the White House, the Federal Reserve has decided that now would be a wonderful time to raise interest rates. In addition to the rate hike on Wednesday, the Fed also announced that it is anticipating that rates will be raised three more times each year through the end of 2019…
Fed policymakers are also forecasting three rate increases in 2017, up from two in September, and maintained their projection of three hikes each in 2018 and 2019, according to median estimates. They predict the fed funds rate will be 1.4% at the end of 2017, 2.1% at the end of 2018 and 2.9% at the end of 2019, up from forecasts of 1.1%, 1.9% and 2.6%, respectively, in September. Its long-run rate is expected to be 3%, up slightly from 2.9% previously. The Fed reiterated rate increases will be “gradual.”
So Barack Obama got to enjoy the benefit of having interest rates slammed to the floor throughout his presidency, and now Donald Trump is going to have to fight against the economic drag that constant interest rate hikes will cause.
How is that fair?
As rates rise, ordinary Americans are going to find that mortgage payments are going to go up, car payments are going to go up and credit card bills are going to become much more painful. The following comes from CNN…
Higher interest rates affect millions of Americans, especially if you have a credit card or savings account, or want to buy a home or a car. American savers have earned next to nothing at the bank for years. Now they could be a step closer to earning a little more interest on savings account deposits, even though one rate hike won’t change things overnight.
Rates on car loans and mortgages are also likely to be affected. Those are much more closely tied to the interest on a 10-year U.S. Treasury bond, which has risen rapidly since the election. With a Fed hike coming at a time when interest on the 10-year note is also rising, that won’t help borrowers.
The higher interest rates go, the more painful it will be for the economy.
If you recall, rising rates helped precipitate the financial crisis of 2008. When interest rates rose it slammed people with adjustable rate mortgages, and suddenly Americans could not afford to buy homes at the same pace they were before. We have already been watching the early stages of another housing crash start to erupt all over the nation, and rising rates will certainly not help matters.
But why does the Federal Reserve set our interest rates anyway?
We are supposed to be a free market capitalist economy. So why not let the free market set interest rates?
Many Americans are expecting an economic miracle out of Trump, but the truth is that the Federal Reserve has far more power over the economy than anyone else does. Trump can try to reduce taxes and tinker with regulations, but the Fed could end up destroying his entire economic program by constantly raising interest rates.
One way that Trump can start exerting influence over the Fed is by nominating the right people to the Federal Open Market Committee. According to CNN, it looks like Trump will have the opportunity to appoint four people to that committee within his first 18 months…
Two spots on the Fed’s committee are currently open for Trump to nominate. Looking ahead, Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s term ends in January 2018, while Vice Chair Stanley Fischer is up for re-nomination in June 2018.
Within the first 18 months of his presidency, Trump could reappoint four of the 12 people on the Fed’s powerful committee — an unusual amount of influence for any president.
By endlessly manipulating the economy, the Fed has played a major role in creating economic booms and busts. Since the Fed was created in 1913, there have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions, and now the Fed is setting the stage for another one.
And anyone that tries to claim that the Fed is not political is only fooling themselves. Everyone knew that they were not going to raise rates during the months leading up to the election, and it was quite clear that this was going to benefit Hillary Clinton.
But now that Donald Trump has won the election, the Fed all of a sudden has decided that the time is perfect to begin a program of consistently raising rates.
If I was Donald Trump, I would be looking to shut down the Federal Reserve as quickly as I could. The essential functions that the Fed performs could be performed by the Treasury Department, and we would be much better off if the free market determined interest rates instead of some bureaucrats.
Unfortunately, most Americans have come to accept that it is “normal” to have a bunch of unelected, unaccountable central planners running our economic system, and so it is unlikely that we will see any major changes before our economy plunges into yet another Fed-created crisis.
On Friday, hordes of desperate zombies were spotted desperately trying to save a few dollars on toys, apparel and cheaply made electronic goods all over America. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that virtually all of these goods were made outside of the United States in nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, these zombies often clashed violently with one another over items such as soap, toilet paper and jumbo-sized televisions. Black Friday puts the worst excesses of American materialism on display for the whole world to see, but most Americans don’t seem to care how pathetic we appear to be to the rest of the planet. The only thing that most Americans know is that it is “the holiday season”, and so now it is time to spend, spend, spend even if it means going into crippling amounts of credit card debt.
Overall, it is being projected that Americans will spend an all-time record high of 650 billion dollars this holiday season. That is an amount of money roughly equivalent to the yearly GDP of the nation of Saudi Arabia.
But it would be one thing if we did all of this spending with some class. But instead, many Americans braved freezing cold temperatures and stood in very long lines on Thanksgiving evening so that they could have the opportunity to fight over “great deals” such as $1.60 towels…
In video apparently recorded inside a Walmart in Bainbridge, Georgia, showed shoppers fighting over towels that were on sale for $1.60 during the Black Friday rush on Thursday.
At one point, one woman so eager to get her hands on a towels that she fell into the box.
Meanwhile, shoppers at a Walmart in Houston broke into an all-out melee on Black Friday, as customers battled it out for some $99 kiddie convertibles.
We have become a nation that is entirely consumed by greed. The average American has the television on approximately five hours a day, and that means that we are being endlessly exposed to commercials that are telling us to buy stuff. Sadly, all of this “programming” does cause many Americans to actually behave like zombies as filmmaker Mark Dice has so brilliantly illustrated…
And unfortunately, the violence on Black Friday is often not limited to the ridiculous brawls over Chinese-made electronic goods. In fact, according to WND four people were shot around the country during the Black Friday “festivities”…
One shooting happened on Thanksgiving Day in a Walmart parking lot in Nevada, apparently as a result of a dispute over a parking spot.
In New Jersey early Friday, two people were shot, one fatally, in a parking lot outside a Macy’s store at the Hamilton Mall, the New York Post said.
Also early Friday, in Tennessee, a man was hit and injured when shots were fired at Wolfchase Galleria Mall in Memphis.
Personally, I don’t understand why people would want to deal with all of this mayhem just to save a few bucks on mass-produced trinkets that they and their families probably don’t even need.
Fortunately, a lot of people are starting to reject Black Friday altogether. For example, one group is now promoting the day after Thanksgiving as “Buy Nothing Day”…
“Buy Nothing Day isn’t just about changing your habits for one day it is about rediscovering what it means to live freely,” according to Adbusters. “Join millions of us in over 60 countries on November 25, 2016, for Buy Nothing Day and see what it feels like to take a stand against corporate domination.”
And I am a big proponent of buying nothing on the day after Thanksgiving as well, but for different reasons.
Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that virtually everyone can agree on, and it is one of the only times of the year when families all over the country gather together.
Ultimately, the experience of spending time with family and friends is far more valuable than any “deals” you may be able to pick up at the stores. If I was going to be the next president, I would strongly consider making the entire four-day period over the long Thanksgiving weekend a national holiday. But the only way that I would do that is if I could pass a law that the stores must shut down as well.
Because the truth is that the vast majority of us do not need any more stuff, but without a doubt we could all definitely use some more love in our lives.
It has been said that “he who dies with the most stuff wins”, but that is a total lie.
Some of the most miserable people in the world are also some of the most wealthy. And there are lots of people out there that “make a lot of money” that are some of the coldest, cruelest people that you would ever want to come across.
Success in life is not measured by how much money you make.
Rather, it is measured by how much love you give.
And the more love you spread to those around you, the more likely it is that you will be loved in return.
Sadly, in our day and age love has become heavily linked with sex. But having a sexual relationship with someone does not mean that you are loved. Just ask any prostitute.
Others feel like they aren’t loved because they are not in a romantic relationship at the moment. But that is not what love is all about either. In fact, some of the loneliest individuals on this holiday are people that are actually married.
And even if you don’t have any family at all this holiday, that doesn’t mean that you have to miss out. Some people have deeper and more meaningful relationships with close friends than they ever had with their family. And even though I am very thankful for my family, I have friendships that I have cultivated over the past couple of years that I consider to be on the same level because I love those individuals so dearly.
Look, you can run out and buy stuff at Wal-Mart any time.
But how many times a year do you get to spend concentrated time with those that you love in a quiet, peaceful environment?
The long Thanksgiving weekend should be a time to live, to laugh and to love.
Unfortunately, many Americans have become completely blinded by greed and they have forgotten what really matters…
More than a third of all Americans can’t pay their debts. I don’t know about you, but to me that is a shocking figure. As you will see below, 35 percent of the people living in this country have debt in collections. When a debt is in collections, it is at least 180 days past due. And this is happening during the “economic recovery” that the mainstream media keeps touting, although the truth is that Barack Obama is going to be the only president in United States history to never have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent. But at least things are fairly stable for the moment, and if this many Americans are having trouble paying their bills right now, what are things going to look like when the economy becomes extremely unstable once again.
About 66% of residents have debt in collections — meaning more than 180 days past due — at a median amount of $1,847. Across the U.S., 35% of Americans have debt in collections.
It is hard to believe that 66 percent of the residents of one of our largest cities could have debt in collections, but without a doubt the city of Detroit is a complete and utter economic wasteland at this point.
But to me, the 35 percent figure for the nation as a whole is a much greater concern.
And much of the debt that is in collections is credit card debt.
In the immediate aftermath of the last financial crisis, many Americans started getting out of debt, and that was a very good thing.
Unfortunately, that trend has completely reversed itself over the past few years, and now credit card balances are rising at a pace that is quite alarming…
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve, ValuePenguin found that the average credit card debt for households that carry a balance is a shocking $16,048 — a figure that has risen by 10% over the past three years. At the average variable credit card interest rate of 16.1%, this translates to nearly $2,600 in credit card interest alone. And many credit cards have interest rates much higher than the average.
Even scarier, consider that based on the average interest rate and a minimum payment of 1.5% of the balance, it would take nearly 14 years for the typical indebted household to pay off its existing credit card debt, at a staggering cost of more than $40,200. Keep in mind that this assumes no additional credit card debt is added to the tab along the way.
Those that have been there know exactly how it feels to be drowning in credit card debt.
You know, they don’t teach you about credit cards in high school or in college. At least they didn’t in my day. So once I got out into the “real world” and discovered the joy of instantly getting whatever I wanted with a credit card, I didn’t understand how painful it would be to pay that money back someday.
If you have credit card balances that are out of control, they can keep you up late into the night. The worry and the fear can eat away at you like a cancer, and many people play a game of moving balances from one card to another in a desperate attempt to stay afloat.
Fortunately I learned my hard lessons at an early enough age to get things turned around. Now I warn others about the danger of credit card debt through my writing, and my hope is that the things that I share on my websites are doing some good for others that may be struggling financially.
When you are deep in debt, it is exceedingly difficult to build up any wealth of your own. This is one of the primary reasons why 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings today.
In essence, more than two-thirds of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, and that is a recipe for disaster when the next major economic downturn in the U.S. strikes.
Overall, household debt in America has now reached a grand total of 12.3 trillion dollars. When you break that down, it comes to $38,557 for every man, woman and child in the entire nation.
So for a family of five, your share of that total would be $192,785.
And remember, that is just household debt. That total does not include any form of business debt or any form of government debt.
We truly are a “buy now, pay later” society. We were the wealthiest and most prosperous nation on the entire planet, and previous generations handed us the keys to the greatest economic machine in world history, but that wasn’t good enough for us.
We always had to have more, more, more – and now we have accumulated more debt than any society in the history of the globe.
It is inevitable that this giant debt bubble is going to burst. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that.
What we experienced in 2008 was just a preview of the hard times that are coming. The next recession is going to be even worse, and most economists are convinced that it will happen within the next four years no matter who is elected president in November. The following comes from the Wall Street Journal via the Calculated Risk blog…
Economists in The Wall Street Journal’s latest monthly survey of economists put the odds of the next downturn happening within the next four years at nearly 60%.
Just like the last time around, millions of those that are “living on the edge” financially will fall out of the middle class and into poverty when they lose their jobs.
Hopefully most of you that have been reading my work for an extended period of time have already been getting out of debt and have been building up a financial cushion.
Sadly, most of the country continues to act as if they are living in a pre-2008 world, and the economic wake up call that is coming is going to be incredibly painful for those that thought they could get away with being exceedingly reckless financially.