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Barack Obama Is On Track To Be The Only President In History To Never Have A Year Of 3% GDP Growth

Barack Obama Giving A Speech - Public DomainWe just got another extremely disappointing GDP number.  It was being projected that U.S. GDP would grow by 2.5 percent during the second quarter of 2016, but instead it only grew by just 1.2 percent.  In addition, the Census Bureau announced that GDP growth for the first quarter of 2016 had been revised down from 1.1 percent to 0.8 percent.  What this means is that the U.S. economy is just barely hanging on by its fingernails from falling into a recession.   As Zero Hedge has pointed out, the “average annual growth rate during the current business cycle remains the weakest of any expansion since at least 1949″.  This is not what a recovery looks like.

In addition, Barack Obama remains solidly on track to be the only president in all of U.S. history to never have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent.  Every other president in American history, even the really bad ones, had at least one year when U.S. GDP grew by at least 3 percent.  But this has not happened under Obama even though he has had two terms in the White House.

The following are the yearly GDP growth numbers under Obama.  They come directly from the official website of the World Bank

2009: -2.8 percent

2010: 2.5 percent

2011: 1.6 percent

2012: 2.2 percent

2013: 1.5 percent

2014: 2.4 percent

2015: 2.4 percent

Does that look like a “recovery” to you?

Of course not.

And many are anticipating that this latest extremely disappointing GDP number will discourage the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates any time in the near future

The disappointing report could keep the Federal Reserve on hold longer as it considers another interest rate hike. The Fed lifted its key rate in December for the first time in nine years but has held it steady since.

According to the pundits in the mainstream media, this was supposed to be the year when the U.S. economy finally returned to “normal”, but that has not happened at all.  In fact, in recent days we have gotten a spate of bad news about the economy.  We just learned that the homeownership rate in the United States has hit the lowest level ever, and Gallup’s U.S. economic confidence index has fallen to the lowest level so far this year.

With the election coming up rapidly, this is the kind of news that Hillary Clinton definitely does not need.  She needs to be able to sell the American people on the idea that the Obama years have been very good for the U.S. economy.  If things take a sharp turn down in the coming months, that may be enough to cost her the election.

So far, Hillary Clinton’s economic agenda has not received that much scrutiny, but the truth is that she hopes to increase taxes in a whole bunch of ways which would be very harmful for the economy.  The following comes from an excellent piece by John Kartch and Alexander Hendrie

Hillary has endorsed several tax increases on middle income Americans, despite her pledge not to raise taxes on any American making less than $250,000. She has said she would be fine with a payroll tax hike on all Americans, she has endorsed a steep soda tax, endorsed a 25% national gun tax, and most recently, her campaign manager John Podesta said she would be open to a carbon tax. It’s no wonder that when asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if her pledge was a “rock-solid” promise, she slipped and said the pledge was merely a “goal.” In other words, she’s going to raise taxes on middle income Americans.

Hillary’s formally proposed $1 trillion net tax increase consists of the following:

Income Tax Increase – $350 Billion: Clinton has proposed a $350 billion income tax hike in the form of a 28 percent cap on itemized deductions.

Business Tax Increase — $275 Billion: Clinton has called for a tax hike of at least $275 billion through undefined business tax reform, as described in a Clinton campaign document.

“Fairness” Tax Increase — $400 Billion: According to her published plan, Clinton has called for a tax increase of “between $400 and $500 billion” by “restoring basic fairness to our tax code.” These proposals include a “fair share surcharge,” the taxing of carried interest capital gains as ordinary income, and a hike in the Death Tax.

Taxes tend to be a pet peeve of mine, so looking at that list of proposed taxes definitely makes me cringe.

If Donald Trump wants to hit the Democrats really hard on the economy, all he has to do is point out the fact that Barack Obama is going to be the only president in American history to never see 3 percent economic growth for an entire year, and he had two entire terms in which to try to turn things in a positive direction.

Sadly, things are very likely going to be worse for the economy no matter who wins the election.  Under Obama, our national debt, our trade deficit, and most of our other long-term economic problems have gotten much, much worse, and so the table is set for a major economic disaster during the next presidential administration.

And if what I have to share about the future of America in my new book is correct, we are definitely moving into a “perfect storm” that will not just be economic in nature.  The things that are coming are going to shake this nation to the very core, and I believe that we will soon face the consequences for decades of exceedingly foolish decisions.

So in the end, we may look back and long for the days of 1.2 percent economic growth, because what is on the horizon is going to make that look like a Sunday picnic.

Deutsche Bank Profit Plunges 98 Percent As The Outlook For ‘The World’s Riskiest Bank’ Darkens

Crash Arrow Down - Public DomainThe biggest and most important bank in the biggest and most important country in Europe continues to implode right in front of our eyes.  If you follow my work regularly, you probably already know that I issued a major alarm about Deutsche Bank last September.  Subsequently, Deutsche Bank stock hit an all-time low.  Then I sounded the alarm about Deutsche Bank again back in May, and once again that was followed by another all-time low for Deutsche Bank.  And then I warned about Deutsche Bank again in early June, and you can probably imagine what happened after that.  Over the past year, this German banking giant has literally been coming apart at the seams, and in so many ways it is paralleling exactly what happened to Lehman Brothers back in 2008.

Today, we got some more bad news from Deutsche Bank.  Compared to the exact same period last year, profits were down 98 percent.  A nearly 100 percent drop in net income spooked a lot of investors, and Deutsche Bank shares got hit hard on Wednesday.  Of course Deutsche Bank shares are already down by more than half over the past 12 months, and the financial sharks can smell blood in the water.

Just like Lehman Brothers in 2008, Deutsche Bank is essentially in panic mode at this point.  They recently announced that they will be closing 188 branches and that 3,000 workers will be losing their jobs.  But this could just be the beginning of the layoffs at the bank.  According to some reports, the bank could cut up to  35,000 jobs by the year 2020, and CEO John Cryan recently admitted that they “may have to accelerate cost-cutting measures“.

What makes all of this even more alarming is that Deutsche Bank is widely considered to be “the most dangerous bank” on the entire planet.  The following comes from a CNN article posted just today entitled “The world’s riskiest bank is in trouble“…

What is going on with Deutsche Bank?

Germany’s biggest lender was dubbed the world’s riskiest bank by the International Monetary Fund last month, just as one of its U.S. businesses failed a Federal Reserve stress test.

Its shares are down 45% this year, and on Wednesday it said second quarter profits were wiped out by a 98% slump in earnings. The stock fell 2.5% in Frankfurt.

The primary reason why Deutsche Bank is “the world’s riskiest bank” is because of the mammoth derivatives portfolio that is possesses.  It currently has 42 trillion euros of exposure to derivatives, which is an amount of money about 13 times the size of the entire German economy.

When Deutsche Bank finally goes down for good, it is going to be “the shot heard around the financial world”, and it will be a disaster many times greater than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.  Just consider what Jeff Gundlach had to say about the bank earlier this year

“Banks are dying and policymakers don’t know what to do,” Gundlach said. “Watch Deutsche Bank shares go to single digits and people will start to panic… you’ll see someone say, ‘Someone is going to have to do something.'”

As I write this, shares of Deutsche Bank are sitting at just $13.63, and many experts are having a very difficult time finding any reason for optimism.  In fact, Edward Misrahi has stated that the bank is his number one short trade, and Jim Collins says that “it is just impossible” to recommend buying shares of Deutsche Bank even at this depressed level…

As an equity analyst, it is just impossible to recommend shares of a bank that is not growing revenue. So really, Deutsche is an untouchable, and the stock market is trying — to the tune of a 58% decline in DB’s market value in 12 months — to recalibrate Deutsche’s market capitalization to the true value of its assets net of liabilities. That’s a painful journey.

I don’t mean to just pick on Deutsche Bank.  Certainly there are a lot of other major banks around the globe that are also teetering on the brink right now.  Just take a look at Italy.  Basically their entire banking system is in the process of melting down.

But the utter collapse of Italy’s banking system won’t have the same kind of worldwide impact that the collapse of Deutsche Bank will.

Unlike some of his predecessors, CEO John Cryan is being honest about some of the struggles that Deutsche Bank is going through right now, and he admits that they may need to be “more ambitious in our restructuring”.  The following comes from Business Insider

Cryan said in a statement (emphasis ours):

“We have continued to de-risk our balance sheet, to invest in our processes and to modernize our infrastructure. However, if the current weak economic environment persists, we will need to be yet more ambitious in the timing and intensity of our restructuring.”

He said something similar in a note to employees (emphasis again ours):

“Here I would like to speak plainly. If this weak economic environment persists, we will need to be still more ambitious in our restructuring. We will do everything in our power to accelerate the measures we have already planned.”

Yes, I know that the stock market in the United States has been setting all sorts of all-time record highs lately.

But that doesn’t change what is going on in the rest of the world one bit.

The financial crisis that has been gripping Europe, Asia, South America and most of the rest of the planet since the second half of last year is accelerating.

And it is inevitable that the U.S. is going to be experiencing some very real pain in the not too distant future as well.

So even though things may seem a bit quiet this summer in the financial world, the truth is that there is a whole lot going on under the surface.

Deutsche Bank is one glaringly obvious example of this, but there are many others all over the globe.  And not too long from now, the dominoes will begin to fall very rapidly.

Michael Moore Explains Why Donald Trump Will Win In November – And It Actually Makes Perfect Sense

Michael Moore - Photo by Nicolas GeninMichael Moore is a radical leftist that is trying to destroy everything that America once stood for, but for once he is making sense.  In his recent article entitled “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win“, he makes a compelling case for why Donald Trump could win the election in November.  I can’t remember the last time I actually agreed with Michael Moore about something, but in this instance I do.  The American people are very angry and very frustrated, and they want someone that is going to shake things up in Washington.  Needless to say, that is not going to be Hillary Clinton.  According to Real Clear Politics, Trump has won five of the last six major national polls, and top Democrats are starting to understand that they could actually lose to the New York billionaire.

As Michael Moore has pointed out, the key to the election may be the upper Midwest.  That is why it may turn out to be very wise that Trump has picked a running mate from the region.  Residents of the upper Midwest have watched NAFTA and other “free trade deals” turn their formerly booming economy into an area now known as “the rust belt”.  Now that there is a major presidential candidate that is openly speaking out against these “free trade deals”, they will finally have a real opportunity to let their voices be heard.  The following is from the Michael Moore article that I mentioned above…

I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest.

Since NAFTA went into effect on January 1, 1994, the United States has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities and millions of good paying jobs.  Once upon a time, the city of Detroit had the highest per capita income in the entire country, but now it is a rotting, decaying, crime-infested disaster zone that the rest of the world makes jokes about.

It was under Bill Clinton that NAFTA was implemented, and Bill and Hillary have long been supportive of NAFTA and other “free trade deals” that have been responsible for systematically dismantling America’s economic infrastructure.  Trump has already made this a major theme of his campaign, and the voters in the rust belt states could potentially make the difference in who wins in November.  Here is some additional analysis from Michael Moore

And this is where the math comes in. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost by 64 electoral votes. Add up the electoral votes cast by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s 64. All Trump needs to do to win is to carry, as he’s expected to do, the swath of traditional red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt states. He doesn’t need Florida. He doesn’t need Colorado or Virginia. Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.

But there is another factor that Michael Moore has pointed out that I think we should consider as well.  While most American voters take their votes very seriously, there is a small minority that will let some of the most frivolous reasons imaginable decide their votes.

Some Americans just want a good story.  Others want to stick it to the establishment.  Yet others just “want to see what will happen” if a certain person gets into the White House.  And it seems quite likely that Donald Trump will win the “curiosity vote”, the “anger vote”, and “the twisted sense of humor vote”.  Everyone pretty much knows what we will get with Hillary Clinton in the White House (and it would be horrible), but there is a great mystery as far as what Donald Trump would do as president.  I happen to agree with Michael Moore that this is a factor that greatly favors Trump

You can take as long as you need in there and no one can make you do anything. You can push the button and vote a straight party line, or you can write in Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. There are no rules. And because of that, and the anger that so many have toward a broken political system, millions are going to vote for Trump not because they agree with him, not because they like his bigotry or ego, but just because they can. Just because it will upset the apple cart and make mommy and daddy mad. And in the same way like when you’re standing on the edge of Niagara Falls and your mind wonders for a moment what would that feel like to go over that thing, a lot of people are going to love being in the position of puppetmaster and plunking down for Trump just to see what that might look like.

But before you get too excited about a Trump presidency, let us not forget that the electoral map tends to greatly favor Democrats.  All Hillary has to do is to win all of the states that she is expected to win and add one battleground state

Perhaps you enjoy talk of battleground states. Well, there’s a scenario for you, too. First, pick the six “closest” swing states (VA, NH, IA, OH, FL, NC). Got it? Now understand that New Hampshire excepted, Clinton only has to win one of them in order to reach the requisite 270 electoral votes to win.

It remains my contention that the establishment will do whatever they have to do to keep Donald Trump out of the White House.  And now that the general election looks like it will be much closer than anticipated, we may get to see what lengths the establishment is willing to go to in order to get rid of a “problem candidate”.

Hillary Clinton is an utterly evil and extremely corrupt politician, but the establishment absolutely loves her.  She would say and do just about anything to get elected, and the establishment knows that she will do their bidding.

So we shall see what happens between now and November, but personally I don’t see any way that this is going to end well…

Credit Card Companies Specifically Target Less Educated And Less Sophisticated Americans

Credit Cards - Public DomainThe big credit card companies don’t make much money off of those that pay their bills on time, and so they often specifically target less educated and less sophisticated consumers that don’t really understand the dangers of credit card debt.  The goal is to find people that will carry credit card balances from month to month, because that is where the real money can be made.  The average U.S. household that carries balances from month to month has approximately $15,310 in credit card debt right now.  At an average interest rate of about 15 percent, the profits pile up very quickly for the big credit card companies.  After all these years, so many of us still have not learned the truth about credit cards, and so credit card debt is absolutely crippling tens of millions of American families.

In 2015, the total amount of credit card debt in this country increased by a staggering 71 billion dollars.  In a previous article, I explained to my readers that American consumers accumulated more new credit card debt during the fourth quarter of 2015 than they did during the entire years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined.

Many analysts are forecasting that the total amount of credit card debt will surpass a trillion dollars by the end of 2016.  This is why there is such a crying need for financial education in this nation.  Millions upon millions of us are being taken for a ride, and as I mentioned above, the big credit card companies often target those of us that are the least sophisticated about financial matters.  The following comes from Bloomberg

Credit-card companies need people to spend more than they can afford, but not so much that they default on their payments. So they could benefit from targeting individuals who are more likely to have cognitive failings. This is the dark side of behavioral finance.

Some new research by economists Antoinette Schoar of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Hong Ru of Nanyang Technological University claims to find exactly such a result. The authors use data from a private company that tracks credit-card offers. They find that less educated consumers — who are likely to be less financially sophisticated — are more frequently given offers that include back-loaded costs. Those are plans that start with low rates, but increase later, with extra-high over-limit and late-payment fees. In other words, those are likely to be the borrowers who make bad financial decisions — racking up debt and eventually paying much more in interest. Meanwhile, more educated households tend not to be offered these plans.

Do you understand what that is saying?

The large credit card companies want to find those of us that are the most vulnerable, because that is where their biggest profits can be made.

And of course most of us have gotten into trouble with credit card debt at some point.  They don’t teach us how to manage our finances in high school or in college, and so most of us are very financially naive when we first get out into the real world.  Card offers are being showered on our young people, and cash-strapped young adults can find it very easy to “buy now and pay later”

Psychologically, it can be easier for people to pay using a credit card because no paper money is involved, Danford said. A Dun & Bradstreet study found that people spend an average of 12 to 18 percent more when using a credit card instead of cash.

I think that’s one of the traps. It’s almost too easy to use a credit card,” Danford said. “You don’t have to think of the consequences.”

According to 2015 data from Experian, the average American had 2.24 credit cards, up from 2.18 in 2014.

Of all credit card users, what percentage do you think carries a balance from month to month?

30 percent?

40 percent?

Well, according to Time Magazine only 35 percent of those that use credit cards completely pay them off every single month.  That means that 65 percent of those that use credit cards do carry a balance…

Only 35% of credit card users don’t carry a balance–they pay off their bill every month, like you’re supposed to. They use credit cards for convenience, and perhaps to generate bonus points and rewards, not because they need to borrow. If you’re a member of this group, you’re known as a “convenience user.” (Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for not being on the hook for high interest rates, but don’t gloat.) The other, more typical credit card users are known as “revolvers” because they don’t pay off their bills in full so the debt revolves. To them, credit limit increases are essentially invitations to spend more. It’s unsettling: “for revolvers, a 10% increase in credit is followed by a 1.3 percent increase in debt within one quarter and a 9.99% increase in debt over the long term,” the study found.

Unfortunately for the big credit card companies and the overall U.S. economy, it appears that U.S. consumers are starting to get tapped out.

Retail sales fell 2.9 percent in April, and then they dropped by 3.9 percent in May.  As a result of these declining sales, corporate profits are suffering, and it is being projected that the final numbers for the second quarter of 2016 will show that corporate profits in the U.S. have now fallen for five quarters in a row.

That is not an “economic recovery”.  Rather, that is what normally happens at the beginning of a major recession.

And don’t expect this to turn around any time soon, because Americans just don’t have the kind of discretionary income that they once did.  The following comes from a New York Post article entitled “A staggering percentage of Americans are too poor to shop“…

Retailers have blamed the weather, slow job growth and millennials for their poor results this past year, but a new study claims that more than 20 percent of Americans are simply too poor to shop.

These 26 million Americans are juggling two to three jobs, earning just around $27,000 a year and supporting two to four children — and exist largely under the radar, according to America’s Research Group, which has been tracking consumer shopping trends since 1979.

So much of what is happening right now is very reminiscent of 2008.  There was an explosion of credit card debt just before that crash as well.

We should have learned some very hard lessons the last time around, but we didn’t, and so now the pain for American families will be even greater this time.

If you are in credit card debt at this moment, it would be wise to try to eliminate it as soon as you can, because you definitely don’t want to be drowning in debt when times get really, really hard.

Donald Trump’s Convention Speech Highlighted The Truth About America’s Decline

American Dream - Public DomainAmerica is in decline.  There are some that still attempt to deny this, but the reason why Donald Trump’s campaign slogan has so strongly resonated with the American people is because deep inside most of us realize that America is not as great as it used to be.  Our economy is a mess, we are 19 trillion dollars in debt, our infrastructure is crumbling, crime is on the rise, moral decay is all around us, other countries don’t respect us as much anymore, and our nation is the most divided that it has been in decades.  Anyone that believes that America is better than it has ever been in 2016 is either completely delusional or simply has not been paying attention.

As I write this article, the prepared text of Trump’s speech has already been released to the press.  So the following remarks may differ slightly from how he actually delivered them, but the differences are not likely to be too great.  At one point during his speech, Trump highlighted the rising crime and violence in our cities, and the numbers that he had to share were more than just a little bit alarming…

Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this Administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement. Homicides last year increased by 17% in America’s fifty largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60% in nearby Baltimore.

In the President’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 have been the victims of shootings this year alone. And more than 3,600 have been killed in the Chicago area since he took office.

The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50% compared to this point last year. Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.

And it is really hard to argue with Trump about this.  We have all seen what just happened in Orlando, in Dallas and in Baton Rouge.  As I have said so many times before, a spirit of violence and civil unrest is rising in America.

Donald Trump thinks that he can fix this.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that any politician will be able to do that at this point.

Our long-term economic decline is another puzzle that our national leaders have been unable to solve.  Gallup’s U.S. economic confidence index just hit the lowest level so far this year, and poverty levels continue to rise all over the country.  The following is another excerpt from the text of Trump’s speech…

Nearly 4-in-10 African-American children are living in poverty, while 58% of African-American youth are not employed. Two million more Latinos are in poverty today than when the President took his oath of office less than eight years ago. Another 14 million people have left the workforce entirely.

Household incomes are down more than $4,000 since the year 2000. Our manufacturing trade deficit has reached an all-time high – nearly $800 billion in a single year.

The budget is no better. President Obama has doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion, and growing.

Yet, what do we have to show for it? Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are in Third World condition, and forty-three million Americans are on food stamps.

Even during Obama’s so-called “economic recovery”, the middle class has continued to shrink.  Right now, 62 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, and millions upon millions of ordinary families find themselves desperately clawing and scratching as they try to survive from month to month.

One very frustrated mother recently shared her feelings about her family’s ongoing financial struggles on scarymommy.com

I’m tired of my stomach flipping inside when my son mentions he’d like to take a computer class after school. Or when my other son wants to enroll in swim lessons, take an art class, or buy a new bicycle. I’m tired of wondering where on earth we’ll come up with the cash for our children to pursue their interests.

I’m tired of never, ever going on vacations that don’t involve someone flying us out to see them or crashing at someone’s house for free.

I’m tired of wondering how on earth we’ll be able to send our kids to college.

I’m tired of renting, and the almost certain feeling I have that we’ll never be able to afford to buy a house.

I’m tired of having to pretend I’m not worried about it all.

I’m tired of my kids overhearing our worries, of knowing that money is a constant struggle for us.

Before I wrap up this article, I want to share one more stunning example of America’s decline.

Under Barack Obama, corruption and incompetence has spread throughout every part of our government.  Sadly, that even includes the Secret Service.

Secret Service agents are supposed to be “the best of the best”, and they are charged with protecting our most important national leaders.

But instead of doing their jobs with seriousness and professionalism, they have been acting like wild animals.  Documents that have just been made public reveal that the Secret Service has become an absolute disgrace in recent years…

They highlight incidents in which agents had sexual encounters with underage girls, married agents took part in ‘wheels up, rings off’ parties, and a manager who sexually harassed female subordinates dubbed the National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) the ‘Nice **** and *** Club.’

The documents contain a report about “a male agent who had his gun stolen by a male prostitute he solicited using his government computer in Puerto Rico“, and they also detail the behavior of one agency manager in particular that deserves to be immediately fired

The report says the manager kept alcohol in his office and forced employees to drink ‘so he could trust them.’

‘He sexually harassed every female subordinate,’ the report says.

The manager would ‘publicly’ male employees: ‘Where are my little whores/*******? Have you slept with them yet?’

If this is what is happening in the Secret Service, can you imagine what is going on in other federal agencies behind closed doors?

America is a complete and total mess, and Donald Trump is completely correct when he talks about the need to make America great again.

But is that even possible, and if so, what would that look like?

Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…

19.4 Trillion Dollars In Debt – We Have Added 1.1 Trillion Dollars A Year To The National Debt Under Obama

Debt Debt And More Debt - Public DomainIn 2006, U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s voice thundered across the Senate floor as he boldly declared that “increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.”  That was one of the truest things that he ever said, but just a couple of years later he won the 2008 election and he turned his back on those principles.  As I write this article, the U.S. national debt is sitting at a grand total of $19,402,361,890,929.46.  But when Barack Obama first entered the White House, our federal government was only 10.6 trillion dollars in debt.  That means that we have added an average of 1.1 trillion dollars a year to the national debt under Obama, and we still have about six more months to go.

Even though Barack Obama is on track to be the first president in all of U.S. history to not have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by 3 percent or better, many have still been mystified by the fact that the economy has been relatively stable in recent years.

But the explanation is rather simple, actually.  Anyone can live like a millionaire if the credit card companies will lend them enough money.  You could even do it yourself.  Just go out and apply for as many credit cards as possible and then spend money like there is no tomorrow.  In no time at all, you will be living the high life.

Of course many of you would immediately object that a day of reckoning would come eventually, and you would be right.  Just like for those that abuse credit cards, a financial day of reckoning is coming for America too.

In the United States today, our standard of living is being massively inflated by taking trillions of dollars of future consumption and moving it into the present.  The politicians love to do this because it makes them look good and they can take credit for an “economic recovery”, but what we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is beyond criminal.

On average, we are stealing more than 100 million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day.  We are complete and utter pigs, and yet most Americans don’t see anything wrong with what we are doing.

At this point, our national debt is more than 30 times larger than it was just 40 years ago, and many (including myself) have argued that it is now mathematically impossible for the U.S. government to ever pay off all of this debt.

The only thing that we can do now is to keep the party going for as long as possible until the day of reckoning inevitably comes.

Under Obama, our national debt will come close to doubling.  What that means is that during Obama’s eight years we will accumulate almost as much debt as we did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.

Right now, the U.S. government is responsible for about a third of all the government debt in the entire world.  Fortunately the financial world continues to lend us gigantic mountains of money at ridiculously low interest rates, but if that were to ever change we would be in an enormous amount of trouble very rapidly.

For instance, if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt simply returns to the long-term average, we would very quickly find ourselves spending more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

And as the Baby Boomers age, our “unfunded liabilities” threaten to absolutely swamp us.  By the year 2025, it is being projected that “mandatory” federal spending on “unfunded liabilities” such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare plus interest on the national debt will exceed total federal revenue.  What that means is that we will spend every penny we bring in before a single dollar is spent on the military, homeland security, paying federal workers, building roads and bridges, etc.

In recent years the Federal Reserve has also had a “buy now, pay later” mentality.

While Obama has been in the White House, the size of the Fed balance sheet has grown by about two and a half trillion dollars.  The goal has been to artificially pump up the economy, but when the Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air it is actually a tax on all of us.  The purchasing power of every dollar that we will spend in the future has been diminished thanks to the Fed, but most Americans don’t understand this.

What most Americans want is for someone to “fix things” in the short-term, and not much consideration is ever given to the long-term damage that is being done.

I know that the phrase “trillion dollars” is thrown around a lot these days, and to a lot of people it doesn’t have a whole lot of meaning anymore.  But the truth is that it is an absolutely enormous amount of money.  In fact, if you went out right this moment and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

A final example of our “buy now, pay later” mentality can be seen in our ridiculously bloated trade deficit.  We consume far more than we produce as a nation, and we buy far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  As a result, tens of thousands of businesses and millions of good paying jobs have gone overseas, and many of our formerly great manufacturing cities are now vast industrial wastelands.  Our economic infrastructure has been gutted at a pace that is staggering, and yet most Americans still don’t understand what has been done to them.

If you visit your typical “big box” retail store today, where is most of the stuff made?  Instinctively, most of you would answer “China”, and that is not too far from the truth.

We buy far, far more stuff from China then they buy from us.  This makes them steadily wealthier, and it makes us steadily poorer.  Unfortunately, our trade deficit with China has gotten much, much worse while Barack Obama has been in the White House.

At the end of Barack Obama’s first year in office, our yearly trade deficit with China was 226 billion dollars.  Last year, it was more than 367 billion dollars.

Are you starting to see a trend?

Our long-term economic and financial problems have greatly accelerated under Barack Obama, but our leaders feverishly work to make things look okay in the short-term and so most Americans don’t notice what is happening.

Unfortunately, this Ponzi scheme cannot go on forever and a day of reckoning is coming.  And when it arrives, the pain that it is going to cause for ordinary Americans is going to be far greater than most of us would dare to imagine.

Erdogan’s Staged Coup Has Resulted In A Purge Of 50,000 Teachers, Judges, Soldiers And Government Officials

Erdogan Staged Coup - Photo by Kemal5105Barack Obama’s “friend” in Turkey is a deeply corrupt radical Islamist dictator that has just staged a coup to consolidate his grip on power.  As I have reported previously, 1,845 “journalists, writers and critics” have been arrested for “insulting” President Erdogan over just the past two years, and a couple of years ago he had a monstrous 1,100 room presidential palace built for himself that is 30 times larger than the White House.  With each passing day, more evidence emerges which seems to indicate that the recent “coup” was a staged event meant to enable Erdogan and his allies to eliminate their enemies and solidify their stranglehold over the nation.  At this point the number of victims of “Erdogan’s purge” has hit 50,000, but the final number will not be known for quite some time.

Of course there is a possibility that the coup was not staged, but if it wasn’t staged it was the worst military coup that I have seen in my entire lifetime.  As Fox News has pointed out, not a single high level member of government was killed or detained…

Among the questions being asked are why coup plotters didn’t execute the most basic steps in seizing power, like securing Erdogan and other top officials. Not a single member of his cabinet and inner-circle AKP party leadership was detained. Nor did coup plotters effectively take control of TV, radio and internet outlets. The government TRT station and CNN Turk were for a time occupied by alleged coup plotters, who quickly retreated as the putsch fell apart.

It is being reported that soldiers that took part in the coup claimed “that they thought that they were taking part in military exercises”, and those running the “coup” allowed Erdogan’s plane to fly across the country without incident.  Here is more from Fox News

Coup plotters also failed to secure most airports and other transportation hubs, didn’t occupy or attack Erdogan’s $600 million presidential palace, and failed to intercept his plane before, during or after he flew from one of the country’s busiest and most accessible airports back to Istanbul. This despite the supposed active participation of top generals in Turkey’s Air Force, which maintains a fleet of F-16 aircraft easily capable of tracking, intercepting or – if it came to it – shooting down Erdogan’s plane.

There were opposition soldiers that did occupy Ataturk International Airport for a short time, but they suspiciously left just in time for Erdogan’s plane to land.

So much about this supposed “coup” absolutely stinks, and that includes the fact that lists of judges, teaches, soldiers and government officials to be rounded up after the coup appear to have been prepared ahead of time.  This is so obvious that even the EU commissioner in charge of Turkey’s membership bid, Johannes Hahn, is commenting on it…

It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage,” Hahn said.

I’m very concerned. It is exactly what we feared.”

So far, at least 50,000 people have been rounded up or stripped of their positions since the coup.  The following breakdown of “the purge” comes from the BBC

  • 6,000 military personnel have been arrested, with more than two dozen generals awaiting trial
  • Nearly 9,000 police officers have been sacked
  • Close to 3,000 judges have been suspended
  • Some 1,500 employees of Turkey’s finance ministry have been dismissed
  • 492 have been fired from the Religious Affairs Directorate
  • More than 250 staff in Mr Yildirim’s office have been removed

Not included in that list are 15,200 education workers and 1,577 university deans that were just sacked

But while Turkey’s press is already mostly under Erdogan’s control, it is the educational witch hunt fallout that is far more troubling, and just as expected over the past hour we have gotten a glimpse of just how extensive the Turkish’s president cleansing of secular society will be, when the state-run Anadolu news agency reported that Turkey’s ministry of education has sacked 15,200 personnel for alleged involvement with a group the government claims is responsible for Friday’s failed coup.

Even more shocking, Anadolu reports that Turkey’s Board of Higher Education has requested the resignations of all 1,577 university deans, effectively dismissing them.  Of the deans dismissed, 1,176 worked in public universities and 401 in private institutions.

In addition, the teaching licenses of 21,000 teachers there were employed at private educational institutions have been revoked.

In one fell swoop, Erdogan is eliminating as much institutional opposition to his leadership as he possibly can.  And not only is he stripping them of their jobs and arresting many of them, CNN is reporting that he actually wants to push for the death penalty for anyone that has any connection to “treason”…

Turkey’s President refuses to rule out the death penalty for thousands of people arrested after a failed military coup Friday, despite warnings that reintroducing capital punishment could dash Turkey’s chances of joining the European Union.

Speaking through his translator in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the failed military coup a “clear crime of treason.”

The Turkish people have made it clear they want death for the “terrorists” who plotted the coup, Erdogan said in his first interview since the July 15 attempt.

Erdogan has been a radical Islamist throughout his entire political career, and his goal has always been to transform Turkey from a highly secular society into a highly Islamic one.

Sadly, now he has the power to do just that.

So what does the future hold for people of other faiths in Turkey?  Well, we may have gotten some clues on the night of the alleged “coup”

During the night of 15 July, unidentified assailants broke the glass panels in the door of the Malatya Protestant Church. The pastor, Tim Stone, said he thought someone with a grudge against the church had taken advantage of the general unrest.

Meanwhile, in Trabzon, on the northern coast, around 10 people smashed the windows of the Santa Maria Catholic Church, where in 2006 a priest, Fr. Andrea Santoro, was murdered. The attackers tried to break into the church, but a group of Muslim neighbors drove them away, before contacting a priest.

And as Erdogan continues to transform into a Turkish version of Adolf Hitler, he is putting his nation’s membership in NATO in jeopardy.  The following comes from the Telegraph

In an ideal world, it would be in everyone’s interests for Mr Erdogan to cease his efforts to turn Turkey into an Iranian-style Islamic republic, thereby allowing Turkey to retain its place at Nato’s top table. But if he really is determined to pursue his radical Islamist agenda, then Nato will have no option but to rid itself of its troublesome Turkish ally.

What is happening in Turkey right now is truly chilling.

A country that is already a member of NATO and that was supposed to become a member of the European Union is rapidly becoming a hardcore radical Islamic dictatorship.

Let us keep a close eye on these developments, because ultimately they could have tremendous implications for Europe and for the entire Middle East in the years ahead.

Baton Rouge, Nice, Dallas, Orlando – A Dark And Distressing Time Has Descended Upon The Civilized World

New York Skyline Lightning - Public DomainDoes it not seem as though events are starting to accelerate significantly?  Since I warned that something “had shifted” and that things had “suddenly become more serious“, we have seen the worst mass shooting in U.S. history in Orlando, we have seen the massacre of five police officers in Dallas, we have seen the horrifying terror rampage in Nice, and now we have seen the brutal murder of three police officers in Baton Rouge.  On Sunday morning, the peace and quiet in Baton Rouge were shattered when “dozens of shots” erupted less than one mile from police headquarters.  By the end of it, 29-year-old Gavin Eugene Long had killed three officers and seriously wounded three others.  It was a crime fueled by pure hatred, and Long specifically waited for his 29th birthday to launch the attack

The shooter who killed three law enforcement officers and wounded three others in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday was a Missouri man who launched a deadly rampage on his 29th birthday, police sources said.

Gavin Long, who was born on July 17, 1987, was the man who gunned down officers before he was killed in a gunbattle with other officers responding to the shootings.

Two Baton Rouge police officers — ages 41 and 49 — died, said Police Chief Carl Dabadie. The gunman also killed a 45-year-old sheriff’s deputy and critically wounded a 41-year-old deputy who is “fighting for his life,” said East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.

So what motivated Long to commit this horrible crime?

Here is what the Daily Caller found…

A Youtube account operated by Gavin Eugene Long and discovered by The Daily Caller reveals key insight into what might have motivated the 29-year-old black man who killed three Baton Rouge police officers Sunday morning.

Videos on Long’s account show that he was a former Nation of Islam member. He also ranted against “crackers” and made references to Alton Sterling, the black man killed by police in Baton Rouge on July 5.

Did Long actually believe that gunning down innocent police officers would honor the memory of Alton Sterling?

Sadly, it appears that there are a lot of other people out there that feel the exact same way that Long did.  In fact, there were a number of people that were openly celebrating the shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge on Twitter and calling for more cops to be killed.

This country is starting to come apart at the seams, and from now on it is going to be very, very dangerous to be a police officer in America.  Perhaps you may not have heard of this yet, but there was actually another plot to kill police officers in Baton Rouge that was foiled ahead of time

Police in Baton Rouge were on high alert earlier this week after a gang – including boys aged just 12 and 13 – were arrested as they tried to steal handguns as part of a ‘substantial, credible threat’ to harm police officers in Baton Rouge.

Authorities discovered the alleged plot while responding to a burglary at a pawn shop early on June 9.

They arrested one suspect – Antonio Thomas, 17 – at the scene with a handgun and a BB gun.

During questioning, Thomas said that he and three other suspects stole the firearms and ‘were going to get bullets to shoot police,’ authorities said.

And another police officer was shot on Sunday in Milwaukee while he was just sitting in his squad car…

A Milwaukee police officer was shot in a “vicious” attack early Sunday as he sat in his squad car while colleagues investigated a domestic disturbance call, an official said.

The suspected shooter, identified by police as a 20-year-old West Allis man with two felonies on his record, was found dead in a nearby yard, they said.

The incident began as a response to a domestic disturbance call near South 17th Street and West Morgan Avenue at about 2 a.m. During that investigation, someone fired shots into the squad car, striking an officer “multiple” times,” Asst. Police Chief William Jessup said in a morning press conference.

Can you imagine the stress that many police officers and their families are feeling these days?

Could you imagine leaving home each day realizing that there is a huge target painted on your chest and that you might not make it home that night to see your family?

I am sure that a lot of law enforcement officers are having some very serious family discussions these days.  And I am sure that a lot of them are actually considering leaving law enforcement altogether.  All it takes is a single bullet to change your life forever, and right now there are way too many people out there that want to harm anyone in a police uniform.

I think that a recent piece by Scott G. Erickson put it very succinctly…

What feelings must resonate within the patrolman who is responding to a call of domestic violence or simple larceny? Am I the next target? Is this really a routine call for service or is it an ambush?

No longer can the patrolman simply worry about the reported crime itself but rather he or she must approach these events as though they are potentially walking into the next Dallas or Baton Rouge.

And that is no way to function as a police officer. The stress, strain, and uncertainty would be unbearable.

And it isn’t just police officers that need to be concerned about the rising violence.

The Republican National Convention is next week, and it could be a big, fat, juicy target for Islamic terrorists, police haters, or anyone else that is out to make some sort of huge statement.  There are going to be thousands of people protecting the convention, but there are still concerns that something unexpected may happen

The sunny celebration butts uncomfortably against a massive security operation that shows the other side of Cleveland’s big moment. City and U.S. officials are preparing for the worst, aware that tensions over race relations and police use of force, as well as reaction to Trump’s polarizing campaign, could result in violence on the streets.

Clevelanders are also aware of the backdrop for their convention: the mass shooting in Orlando that killed 50 people in June, the sniper attack that killed five Dallas police this month, and the truck assault that killed 84 this week in Nice.

Let us hope and pray for safety in Cleveland, and let us hope and pray that tensions ease in major cities all over the nation.

A dark and distressing time has descended upon the civilized world, and virtually everywhere you look anger and frustration are rising to very dangerous levels.

We were warned that this might be a “summer of chaos”, and so far that has definitely been the case.  Let us hope that things start to cool off before events start to spiral completely out of control.

America Wastes About HALF The Food That It Produces While Hunger Runs Rampant Around The Globe

Tomatoes - Public DomainIs the United States the most wasteful nation on the entire planet?  We are all certainly guilty of wasting food.  Whether it is that little bit that you don’t want to eat at the end of a meal, or that produce that you forgot about in the back of the refrigerator that went moldy, the truth is that we could all do better at making sure that good food does not get wasted.  It can be tempting to think that wasting food is not a big deal because we have so much of it, but an increasing number of people around the world are really hurting these days.  In fact, it has been estimated that there are more than a billion hungry people around the globe right now.  So as a society we need to figure out how to waste a whole lot less food and how to get it into the mouths of those that really need it.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, close to a third of all food in the United States gets wasted after it gets to the store.  This is commonly referred to as “downstream” waste.  When you add all of this “downstream” waste up, it comes to a grand total of 133 billion pounds of food each year

Nearly a third of the 430 billion pounds of food produced for Americans to eat is wasted, a potential catastrophe for landfills and a wake-up call to officials scrambling to feed the hungry, according to a stunning new report from the Department of Agriculture.

The just-issued report revealed that in 2010, 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds, of food produced for Americans to eat was wasted, either molded or improperly cooked, suffered “natural shrinkage” due to moisture loss, or because people became disinterested in what they purchased.

How many people do you think we could feed with 133 billion pounds of food?

But that isn’t all of the food that we waste.  In addition to “downstream” waste, we also have to add “upstream” waste to the equation.  Massive amounts of food are wasted each year because American consumers don’t want to eat fruits and vegetables that are “imperfect”.  The following comes from the Guardian

Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, deepening hunger and poverty, and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment.

Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill, because of unrealistic and unyielding cosmetic standards, according to official data and interviews with dozens of farmers, packers, truckers, researchers, campaigners and government officials.

And I know that as a consumer I am guilty of this.  Just yesterday, I was picking through the apricots at the grocery store looking for the prettiest ones that I could find.  Of course they were all good to eat, but most of us are in the habit of wanting produce that looks as “perfect” as possible.

As a result, a lot of perfectly good food that may look a little ratty ends of being wasted

“Sunburnt” or darker-hued cauliflower was ploughed over in the field. Table grapes that did not conform to a wedge shape were dumped. Entire crates of pre-cut orange wedges were directed to landfill. In June, Kirschenman wound up feeding a significant share of his watermelon crop to cows.

As the Guardian article quoted above noted, when you add “downstream” waste and “upstream” waste together, we end up wasting about half our food.

This is tragic, because there are a whole lot of people in our own country that could use this food.  According to one estimate, there are 49 million Americans dealing with food insecurity.  But if we didn’t waste nearly half our food, we could likely feed just about everyone sufficiently.

Globally, about one-third of all food is wasted.  That is better than the U.S. number, but it is still way too high.

At this point, we just don’t have a lot of resources to waste.  So many people are suffering these days, and this includes an explosion of crushing poverty in the country that is hosting the Olympics this summer.  Just yards away from the primary stadium that will be used by the Olympic games, people actually have raw sewage running through their homes

In the Mangueira ‘favelas’ no more than 750m away from the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which will host the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, young families are living in makeshift houses with no sanitation.

The stadium will stage both the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics in August, and as global superstars such as Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Justin Gatlin take to the track, the favela residents will be dealing with raw sewage running through their homes.

It has been estimated that more than 20 percent of the population of Rio lives in “favelas”.  But instead of doing something for those people, the government of Brazil has spent hundreds of millions of dollars hosting the World Cup and the Olympics.

What is wrong with that picture?

Meanwhile, things continue to get even worse elsewhere in South America.  In Venezuela, 47 percent of the country can no longer provide three meals a day for their families, and the lack of toilet paper has become a national crisis

Venezuela’s government said it occupied Kimberly-Clark Corp.’s local plant, days after the company had halted operations because of shortages of raw materials in the socialist crisis-stricken country.

“Kimberly-Clark will continue producing for all Venezuelans and is now in the hands of the workers,” Labor Minister Oswaldo Vera said Monday in a televised address from the company’s plant in central Aragua state, before signing an order to take it over, according to WSJ. The labor ministry claims Kimberly-Clark had violated Venezuelan law by firing more than 900 workers without consulting the government.

“It doesn’t matter who’s running the factory,” said Henkel Garcia, director of the Caracas business consultancy Econometrica told WSJ. “The bottom line is that there are no raw materials that anyone can afford to import.”

As the global economy continues to deteriorate, the need to waste less food and less resources will become even more acute.  Over the past several decades, we have grown accustomed to not even thinking twice about wasting food.  In fact, I rarely come across parents that insist that their children finish everything on their plates these days.

But in the not too distant future, things are going to completely change.  Even in the United States, we will eventually get to the point where every scrap of food is considered to be precious.

We are moving into a time when wasting nearly half our food will no longer be an option, and so we should start coming up with better ways of doing things as soon as we can.

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