It’s Only April, And U.S. Retailers Have Already Closed More Stores Than They Did ALL Of Last Year

If the U.S. economy is in good shape, why have retailers already shuttered more stores than they did in all of 2018?  Not only that, we are also on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closures in a single year by more than 50 percent.  Yes, Internet commerce is growing, but the Internet has been around for several decades now.  It isn’t as if this threat just suddenly materialized.  As Internet commerce continues to slowly expand, we would expect to see a steady drip of brick and mortar stores close, but instead what we are witnessing is an avalanche.  If the U.S. economy really was “booming”, this wouldn’t be happening.  But if the U.S. economy was heading into a recession, this is precisely what we would expect to see.

Last year, U.S. retailers closed 5,864 stores.

That was a rather depressing number, but here we are in April 2019 and we have already surpassed it.  The following comes from CNN

This year, US retailers have announced that 5,994 stores will close. That number already exceeds last year’s total of 5,864 closure announcements, according to a recent report from Coresight Research.

At this time last year, there was a lot of optimism for the retail industry.  Foot traffic at our shopping centers rose steadily throughout the early portion of the year before peaking in August.

But then something changed, and since that time there has been a clear downward trend

Foot traffic at some of the best shopping centers across the country peaked around August 2018 and has since started to fall, after rebounding for much of last year, according to a new report from data analytics firm Thasos, which uses more than 100 million mobile phones to track when consumers enter and leave certain trade areas.

Once again, you can’t blame this on Internet commerce.  Foot traffic was rising for quite a while, but now what we are seeing is perfectly consistent with an economic slowdown.

Sadly, this could be just the beginning.  In fact, one expert quoted by CNBC expects total store closures in the U.S. to hit 12,000 by the end of 2019…

“I expect store closures to accelerate in 2019, hitting some 12,000 by year end,” Deborah Weinswig, founder and CEO of Coresight, said.

If that happens, we will shatter the old yearly record by about 4,000.

We are in the early innings of America’s “retail apocalypse”, and it is going to get much, much worse.

Of course it isn’t just the retail industry that is hurting right now.  With each passing day, we continue to get more signs that the U.S. economy is sliding into a new recession.  For example, we just learned that during the first quarter of 2019 U.S. manufacturing was down 1.1 percent compared to a year ago…

Manufacturing fell 1.1 percent in the first three months of the year compared to the same period of 2018, the Fed reported.

The biggest reason for the decline in manufacturing is quite obvious.  Businesses are absolutely swamped with unsold inventory, and the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has been steadily rising for months.

Earlier today, a Bloomberg article commented on the bloated inventories that we are seeing all over the nation…

One overhang is the auto market, where the six-month average of dealer stocks of cars and trucks matches the highest since 2009 at 75 days. Manufacturers and sellers of furniture and clothing share the same problem, as do small businesses. The inventory swing is likely to exacerbate the U.S. slowdown, with the economy already facing headwinds from the waning impact of tax cuts, slowing global growth and continuing trade tensions.

As economic activity slows down, less stuff is being shipped around the nation by air, rail and truck.  We just got a new update from the Cass Freight Index, and it shows that freight shipment volume in the U.S. has now fallen for four months in a row

Freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – in March fell 1% from last year, according to the Cass Freight Index. It was the fourth month in a row of year-over-year declines, and the first declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

For my regular readers, these new numbers should be no surprise, because I have been tracking these trends for an extended period of time.

All of the numbers are telling us that economic conditions are getting worse, and all of the experts are telling us that we are way overdue for another recession.

Unfortunately, it isn’t likely to be “just another recession”.  As I have repeatedly stressed, all of our long-term economic and financial problems have gotten far worse since the last recession.  We have never seen bubbles like the bubbles that we are facing now, and the stage is set for the greatest meltdown in American history.

The only reason why we have even been able to get this far is by ruthlessly mortgaging the future.  We borrowed trillions upon trillions of dollars that we should not have borrowed, and the Federal Reserve relentlessly pumped “hot money” into overheated financial markets.

Those “emergency measures” were able to stabilize the U.S. economy for a while, but in the process they made our long-term problems much, much worse.

In the end, it isn’t just the retail industry that is heading for an “apocalypse”.  Our entire economy is built on a foundation of sand, and a giant storm is rapidly approaching our shores.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

We Have Seen This Happen Before The Last 3 Recessions – And Now It Is The Worst It Has Ever Been

Since the last financial crisis, we have witnessed the greatest corporate debt binge in U.S. history.  Corporate debt has more than doubled since then, and it is now sitting at a grand total of more than 9 trillion dollars.  Of course there have been other colossal corporate debt binges throughout our history, and they all ended badly.  In fact, the ratio of corporate debt to U.S. GDP rose above 40 percent prior to each of the last three recessions, but this time around we have found a way to top that.  According to Forbes, the ratio of nonfinancial corporate debt to U.S. GDP is now nearly 50 percent…

Since the last recession, nonfinancial corporate debt has ballooned to more than $9 trillion as of November 2018, which is nearly half of U.S. GDP. As you can see below, each recession going back to the mid-1980s coincided with elevated debt-to-GDP levels—most notably the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the 2000 dot-com bubble and the early ’90s slowdown.

You can see the chart they are talking about right here, and it clearly shows that each of the last three recessions coincided with the bursting of an enormous corporate debt bubble.

This time around the corporate debt bubble is larger than it has ever been before, and risky corporate debt has been growing faster than any other category

Through 2023, as much as $4.88 trillion of this debt is scheduled to mature. And because of higher rates, many companies are increasingly having difficulty making interest payments on their debt, which is growing faster than the U.S. economy, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

On top of that, the very fastest-growing type of debt is riskier BBB-rated bonds—just one step up from “junk.” This is literally the junkiest corporate bond environment we’ve ever seen.

Needless to say, the stage is set for a corporate debt meltdown of epic proportions.

What makes this debt bubble even worse is the way that our big corporations have been spending the money that they are borrowing.

Instead of spending the money to build factories, hire workers and expand their businesses, our big corporations have been spending more money on stock buybacks than anything else.

Every year, publicly traded corporations spend hundreds of billions of dollars buying back their own stocks from shareholders, and much of that is being done with borrowed money.

For example, in recent years General Motors has spent nearly 14 billion dollars on stock buybacks.  And that number certainly sounds quite impressive until you learn that General Electric has spent a whopping 40 billion dollars on stock buybacks.

Sadly, both corporate behemoths are now absolutely drowning in debt as a result of their foolishness.

In the final analysis, borrowing money to fund stock buybacks is little more than an elaborate Ponzi scheme.  In their endless greed, corporate executives are cannibalizing their own companies because it makes some people wealthier in the short-term.

And now this giant corporate debt bubble has reached a bursting point, and there is no way that this story is going to end well.

Meanwhile, another financial bubble of epic proportions is also getting a lot of attention these days.  If you are not familiar with “shadow banking”, here is a pretty good explanation from CNBC

Nonbank lending, an industry that played a central role in the financial crisis, has been expanding rapidly and is still posing risks should credit conditions deteriorate.

Often called “shadow banking” — a term the industry does not embrace — these institutions helped fuel the crisis by providing lending to underqualified borrowers and by financing some of the exotic investment instruments that collapsed when subprime mortgages fell apart.

This kind of lending has absolutely exploded all over the globe since the last recession, and it has now become a 52 trillion dollar bubble

In the years since the crisis, global shadow banks have seen their assets grow to $52 trillion, a 75% jump from the level in 2010, the year after the crisis ended. The asset level is through 2017, according to bond ratings agency DBRS, citing data from the Financial Stability Board.

Who is going to pick up the pieces when a big chunk of those debts start going bad during the next financial crisis?

Never before in human history have we seen so much debt.  Government debt is at all-time record levels all over the world, corporate debt is wildly out of control and consumer debt continues to surge.

A system that requires debt levels to grow at a much faster pace than the overall global economy is growing to maintain itself is a fundamentally flawed system.

But that is what we are facing.  If global debt growth fell to zero, the global economy would instantly plunge into a horrific depression.  The only way to keep the game going is to keep expanding the debt bubble, and the larger it becomes the worse the future crash will be.

Most of us have been in this system for our entire lives, and so most of us don’t even realize that it is possible to have a financial system that is not based on debt.  This is one of the reasons why I get so frustrated with the financially-illiterate politicians who insist that everything will be just fine if we just tweak our current system a little bit.

No, everything is not going to be just fine.  In fact, we have perfectly set the stage for the worst financial meltdown in human history.

At this point nobody has put forth a plan to fundamentally change the system, and there is no way out.

All that is left to do is to keep this current bubble going for as long as humanly possible, and then to duck and cover when disaster finally strikes.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Uh Oh: The Number Of Job Openings In The U.S. Dropped By More Than Half A Million In Just One Month

According to the Labor Department, the number of job openings in the United States just plunged by the largest amount we have seen in nearly four years.  The latest JOLTS report shows that the number of job openings has declined by 538,000, and that is a really big number for just a single month.  But we shouldn’t be surprised by this at all, because it is perfectly consistent with all of the other dismal economic numbers that have been coming in recently.  An economic slowdown is here, and many believe that it is just getting started.

Very briefly, let’s review some of the reasons why we should expect to see the employment numbers get worse.  As the economy slows down, goods begin to pile up in our warehouses, and that is precisely what the numbers show.  In fact, the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has now increased for five months in a row.

Fewer sales should result in less stuff being shipped around the nation by freight, rail and air, and this is yet another thing that we see happening right now.  Overall, U.S. freight shipment volume has dropped for three months in a row.

Once businesses realize that economic conditions have changed, then they start reducing the number of job openings and laying off workers.  That is why employment statistics are often referred to as “trailing indicators”.  The employment numbers don’t usually start to go down until other indicators start dropping first.

And without a doubt, the employment numbers are starting to move.  Continuing jobless claims have been rising at the most rapid pace in 10 years, and U.S. businesses have been adding jobs at the slowest pace in 18 months.

With all of that in mind, we should not be surprised at all by this latest number

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, tumbled by 538,000 to a seasonally adjusted 7.1 million, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, report on Tuesday. The drop was the biggest since August 2015.

That is a really dreadful number, and there is no way to spin it to make it look good.

One factor that is shifting the employment environment is all of the minimum wage laws that are being passed around the country.

A number of liberal enclaves have raised the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, and as a result a lot of small businesses have been forced to let workers go

In what has become just one more example of government intervention going the exact opposite of what socialists intend, minimum wage laws are driving a “payroll tsunami.”  Small businesses are being forced to lay off workers in order to comply with a law demanding an increase in wages.

This isn’t all that surprising. Economists, small business owners, and other analysts have said that the net result of higher wages is a loss of jobs. And small businesses, who don’t have the capital or return that large corporations do, are feeling the proverbial pinch. According to Fox News, several mom-and-pop coffee shops and restaurants, are responding by cutting hours, eliminating jobs or closing down entirely because they can’t keep up with rising wages under the law.

My very first job was flipping burgers for McDonald’s, and I made $3.35 an hour doing it.  As a teenager, I was grateful to have such a job, but now such minimum wage jobs are in danger.  Wal-Mart and other major corporations are already making extensive use of robots to perform basic tasks, and making human workers more expensive is going to hurt those at the bottom of the economic food chain the most.

But for the moment, things are still relatively stable.  Most Americans still seem to believe that the bubble of debt-fueled economic “prosperity” that we are currently enjoying is going to continue for the foreseeable future, and they are spending money as if tomorrow will never come.

According to Zero Hedge, U.S. consumer credit has now surged past the 4 trillion dollar mark…

After a few months of wild swings in mid 2018, in February US consumer credit continued to normalize, rising by $15.2 billion, slightly below the $17 billion expected, following January’s $17.7 billion increase. The continued increase in borrowings saw total credit storm above $4 trillion, and hit a new all time high of $4.045 trillion on the back of a America’s ongoing love affair with auto and student loans, and of course credit cards.

We better hope that the U.S. economy is able to pull out of this new slowdown, because most of us are living right on the edge financially.

Sadly, we never seem to learn.  The same mistakes that we made last time around are all happening again, and Americans are completely and totally unprepared for what is coming.

And the warnings are all around us.  On Tuesday, the IMF downgraded their forecast for global economic growth for the third time in six months.  Commenting on this downgrade, IMF executive director Christine Lagarde noted that this is a “delicate moment” for the global economy…

Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s executive director, said the global economy is in a “delicate moment.”

“Only two years ago, 75% of the global economy experienced an upswing,” Lagarde said, according to the text of a speech she’s due to give at the US Chamber of Commerce. “For this year, we expect 70% of the global economy to experience a slowdown in growth.”

It is not often that I agree with a globalist like Christine Lagarde, but she is quite right in saying that this is a “delicate moment”.

Global economic numbers have not been this bad since the last financial crisis, and many believe that we have now reached a major turning point.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

40 Facts That Prove That America’s Moral Collapse Is Spinning Wildly Out Of Control

According to a brand new survey that was just conducted by the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of all Americans are either “very worried” or “fairly worried” about America’s moral health.  Of course the truth is that we should all be deeply concerned, because we can see evidence of the cancerous moral decay that is eating away at the foundations of our society all around us.  In life, each one of us gets to make choices, and some of those choices can lead to very bad outcomes.  We all have old friends that “got on the wrong path”, and their lives ended up becoming cautionary tales.  Well, the same principle applies to nations as a whole.  America has been given very clear choices between good and evil, life and death, blessings and curses over and over again, and we have consistently made the wrong choices.  If we stay on this road, there is only one result that will be possible.

As long as we are drawing breath, there is always an opportunity to turn things around.  That is true for individuals, and it is also true for our entire nation.  But if we continue running toward evil, it is only a matter of time before exceedingly painful consequences overtake us.

The following are 40 facts that prove that America’s moral collapse is spinning wildly out of control…

#1 America has killed more than 60 million children since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.  The federal government endorses this activity by heavily funding the country’s leading abortion provider, and after that abortion provider harvests the organs of the dead children, the federal government also heavily funds the research that is conducted on those harvested organs.

#2 According to a Quinnipiac University poll from last year, 63 percent of all Americans want to keep Roe v. Wade in place.

#3 America is a global leader in sexual depravity.  If you doubt this, just check out what is going on in Cleveland at the end of this month.

#4 Americans are now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than they are from a car accident.

#5 In the city of Baltimore, approximately one out of every four babies is born as an opioid addict.

#6 Overdosing on drugs has now become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.

#7 McDonalds feeds approximately 70 million people a day globally. Pornhub gets more than 78 million visits a day.

#8 The teen birth rate in the United States is higher “than in any other industrialized country in the world”.

#9 According to the CDC, approximately 110 million Americans have a sexually-transmitted disease right now.

#10 The CDC also tells us that there are approximately 20 million new sexually transmitted disease cases in the U.S. every single year.

#11 The number of married couples with children in the U.S. just reached a 56 year low.

#12 According to the United Nations Population Fund, 40 percent of all births in the U.S. now happen outside of marriage. But if you go back to 1970, that figure was sitting at just 10 percent.

#13 At this point, approximately one out of every three children in the United States lives in a home without a father.

#14 Approximately one-fourth of the entire global prison population is in the United States.

#15 By the time an American child reaches the age of 18, that child will have seen approximately 40,000 murders on television.

#16 According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 70 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug.  An astounding 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs.

#17 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors in the United States write more than 250 million prescriptions for antidepressants each year.

#18 Over half a million people are homeless in the United States right now, but more cities than ever are passing laws making it illegal to feed them.

#19 One recent study found that the average American spends 86 hours a month on a cell phone.

#20 A different study found that one-third of all American teenagers haven’t read a single book in the past year.

#21 Americans are obsessed with material things and are willing to go deep into debt to get what they want.  At this point, 480 million credit cards are in circulation in this country. That number has risen by nearly 13 percent since 2015.

#22 37 million credit card accounts in the U.S. are “seriously delinquent” at this moment.

#23 According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately two-thirds of all Americans in the 15 to 24-year-old age bracket have engaged in oral sex.

#24 It has been reported that one out of every four teen girls in the U.S. has at least one sexually transmitted disease.

#25 It has been estimated that 30 percent of all Internet traffic now goes to adult websites.

#26 According to the Pentagon, 71 percent of our young adults are ineligible to serve in the U.S. military because they are either too dumb, too fat or have a criminal background.

#27 The city of San Francisco handed out a total of 5.8 million free syringes to drug addicts in 2018.

#28 During one seven day stretch last summer, a total of 16,000 official complaints were submitted to the city of San Francisco about piles of human feces littering the streets.

#29 When you include unfunded liabilities, the true size of our national debt is 222 trillion dollars.  What we are doing to future generations of Americans is beyond criminal.

#30 The suicide rate in the United States is up 34 percent since the year 2000.

#31 Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for Americans from age 15 to age 24.

#32 We are literally destroying the planet that we have been given.  It is being projected that the total amount of plastic in the oceans of the world will exceed the total weight of all fish by the year 2050.

#33 There are more than 850,000 registered sex offenders in the United States today.

#34 The number of American babies killed by abortion each year is roughly equal to the number of U.S. military deaths that have occurred in all of the wars that the United States has ever been involved in combined.

#35 About one-third of all American women will have had an abortion by the age of 45.

#36 Approximately 3,000 Americans lost their lives as a result of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11.  Every single day, more than 3,000 American babies are killed by abortion when you include all forms of abortion.

#37 One very shocking study found that 86 percent of all abortions are done for the sake of convenience.

#38 An average of more than 100 churches are dying in the United States every single week.

#39 Only about 27 percent of all U.S. Millennials currently attend church on a regular basis.

#40 The number of Americans with “no religion” has increased by 266 percent over the last three decades.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Economic Slowdown Confirmed: Here Are 14 Very Alarming Numbers That Reveal The Current State Of The Economy

The economic numbers just continue to get worse and worse, and at this point it has become exceedingly clear that an economic slowdown is happening.  In fact, even the chair of the Federal Reserve is using the term “slowdown” to describe what is taking place.  But of course many are still hoping that the U.S. economy can pull out of this slump and avoid the sort of crippling recession that we experienced in 2008.  Unfortunately, that may be really tough because the entire global economy is slowing down right now.  Our world is more interconnected than ever before, and what happens on one side of the planet is invariably going to affect the other side of the planet.  Some parts of the globe are already mired in deep economic problems, and the U.S. appears to be following down the same path.

If you still think that the economy is in “good shape”, please read over the following list very carefully.

The following are 14 very alarming numbers that reveal the true state of the economy…

#1 Continuing jobless claims are rising at the fastest pace in 10 years.

#2 U.S. businesses are adding jobs at the slowest pace in 18 months.

#3 General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Fiat Chrysler all reported sales declines of at least 5 percent on a year over year basis in March.

#4 Tesla vehicle deliveries were down a whopping 31 percent during the first quarter of 2019.

#5 U.S. consumer confidence fell more than 7 points in March.

#6 Manhattan real estate sales have now fallen for six straight quarters.  That is the longest losing streak in 30 years.

#7 London real estate sales just dropped by the most we have seen in 10 years.

#8 The owner of Kay, Zales and Jared jewelers just announced that they will be closing 150 stores.

#9 Retail layoffs are 92 percent higher than they were at this time last year.

#10 U.S. freight shipment volume has fallen for three months in a row.

#11 The inventory to sales ratio in the United States has risen sharply for five months in a row.

#12 At this point, almost half of all renters in America spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent.

#13 The real median net income for Minnesota farmers was only $26,055 in 2018, and that was before many of them were absolutely devastated by the recent flooding.

#14 Overall, U.S. economic numbers are off to their worst start for a year since 2008.

We didn’t see economic numbers like this last year.

But now things have clearly changed.  It is starting to feel more like 2008 with each passing day, and this is a point that Mac Slavo made in his most recent article

The signs of yet another economic recession are everywhere. In fact, it seems hard to find any positive economic news anymore, even though a mere few months ago, it was difficult to find a report signaling the United States might be headed for some turmoil.

These days, many people get offended at the thought that the U.S. economy is heading for trouble.  But the truth is that we have been heading for trouble for a very long time.

Our economy is built on a foundation of sand.  More specifically, we have borrowed our way into “prosperity”.

The other day, I wrote an article about our $22,000,000,000,000 national debt.  It is the biggest single debt in the history of the world, and we continue to add to it at a rate that is absolutely insane.  In fact, our 234 billion dollar deficit in February broke the all-time record for a single month.  If we continue to do this, there is no way that our story ends well.

But that 22 trillion dollar debt is only a fraction of our overall debt.

When you add up all forms of debt in the United States, it comes to a grand total of more than 72 trillion dollars.  And that doesn’t even include a single dollar of our unfunded liabilities on the federal, state and local level.

When Ronald Reagan took office, the total amount of debt in the U.S. was less than 5 trillion dollars.

When historians look back on this time in history, they will not be surprised that our society ultimately collapsed.  What will surprise them is that it took so long for it to do so.

Sometimes I get criticized for urging people to get prepared.  But those that really deserve the criticism are those that are assuring everyone that everything is going to be just fine.  If we got the smartest minds in the entire country together and treated this like a major national emergency, perhaps we could find a way to engineer some sort of a soft landing when this debt bubble bursts.

But as it stands, there is no plan and our long-term problems get worse with each passing day.  Our economy is headed for a crash of epic proportions, and it isn’t going to matter who is in power in Washington when it happens.

And at the rate that our economy is currently slowing down, America may become an economic horror show a lot sooner than many people had anticipated.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Retail Layoffs Are 92 Percent Higher In 2019 – And Now Even Wal-Mart Is “Quietly Closing Stores”

Just like we witnessed during the last recession, major retailers are laying off tens of thousands of workers, and it looks like this will be the worst year for store closings in all of U.S. history.  Many are referring to this as “the retail apocalypse”, and without a doubt this is one of the toughest stretches for retailers that we have ever seen.  But many believe that what we have witnessed so far is just the beginning.  After all, if retailers are struggling this much now, how bad will things be once the next recession really gets rolling?

Of course the truth is that things have been rocky for the retail industry for quite a few years, but the numbers are telling us that this crisis is really starting to accelerate.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, retail layoffs were up a whopping 92 percent in January and February compared to the same period a year ago.  The following comes from NBC News

More than 41,000 people have lost their jobs in the retail industry so far this year — a 92 percent spike in layoffs since the same time last year, according to a new report.

And the layoffs continue to mount, with JCPenney announcing this week it would be closing 18 stores in addition to three previously announced closures, as part of a “standard annual review.”

Yes, competition from Internet commerce is hurting the traditional retail industry, but it certainly doesn’t explain a 92 percent increase.

And very few retailers have been able to avoid this downsizing trend.  At this point, even the largest retailer in the entire country has begun “quietly closing stores”

Walmart is closing at least 11 US stores across eight states.

The stores include one Walmart Supercenter in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Walmart Neighborhood Market stores in Arizona, California, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

For decades, Wal-Mart has been expanding extremely aggressively.

They have plenty of cash, and so the only way that it would make sense for them to close stores is if they anticipated that we are heading into a recession.

Here is a list of the addresses where Wal-Mart stores are closing

6085 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, Arizona
3900 W. Ina Road, Tucson, Arizona
1600 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, California
712 N. Western Ave., Liberal, Kansas
1229 NE. Evangeline Trwy., Lafayette, Louisiana
3603 Broad River Road, Columbia, South Carolina
1757 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy., Morristown, Tennessee
2501 University Commons Way, Knoxville, Tennessee
7000 Iron Bridge Road, North Chesterfield, Virginia
2864 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, Virginia
7809 NE. Vancouver Plaza Dr., Vancouver, Washington

Of course Wal-Mart is in far better shape than almost everyone else in the industry.

One of Wal-Mart’s key competitors, Shopko, has just announced that they will be shutting down all of their stores

Shopko will liquidate its assets and close all of its remaining locations by mid-June.

The company was unable to find a buyer for the retail business and will begin winding down its operations beginning this week, the company said in statement released Monday. The decision to liquidate will bring an end to the brick-and-mortar business that began in 1962 with one location in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

And personally I was very saddened to learn that Lifeway Christian Bookstores has also decided to close all their brick and mortar stores

Lifeway Christian Bookstores announced last week it would be closing the doors of all 170 brick and mortar stores, in a pivot to focusing on digital and e-commerce.

“The decision to close our local stores is a difficult one,” said Lifeway Chief Executive Officer Brad Waggoner. “While we had hoped to keep some stores open, current market projections show this is no longer a viable option.”

Whenever I do an article like this, I always have some readers that try to convince me that this is only happening because of the growth of Internet retailing.

And yes, Internet retailing has been growing, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of all U.S. retail sales.  In addition, it is important to point out that Internet retailers had a very disappointing holiday season just like brick and mortar retailers did.

Ultimately, the truth is that the U.S. economy has been steadily slowing down in recent months.

During the months of December, January and February, the amount of stuff being moved around the country by truck, rail and air was lower than during all of those same months a year earlier.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

Now it’s the third month in a row, and the red flag is getting more visible and a little harder to ignore about the goods-based economy: Freight shipment volume in the US across all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – in February fell 2.1% from February a year ago, according to the Cass Freight Index, released today. The three months in a row of year-over-year declines are the first such declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016.

I have a feeling that when we get the final numbers for March that they will show that this streak has now extended to four months.

Right now, unsold goods are starting to pile up in U.S. warehouses at a rate that we haven’t seen since the last recession.  Many retailers that are barely clinging to life will simply not survive if economic conditions continue to deteriorate.

Unfortunately, it appears that things are only going to get rougher for the U.S. economy in the months ahead.

So more retail workers are going to get laid off, more stores are going to close, and there are going to be a lot more stories about our ongoing “retail apocalypse” in the mainstream media.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Wall Street Red Flag: A Bond Market Indicator That Has Predicted Every Recession In The Last 50 Years Just Got Triggered

If the bond market is correct, the U.S. economy is definitely heading into a recession.  Over the past 50 years, there have been six previous occasions when the yield on three-month Treasury bonds has risen above the yield on ten-year Treasury bonds, and in each of those instances a recession has followed.  Now it has happened again, and this comes at a time when a whole host of other economic indicators are screaming that a recession is coming.  Of course we have seen recession indicators triggered at other times in recent years, and the Federal Reserve was able to intervene and successfully extend this cycle on multiple occasions.  But now that the global economy is clearly the weakest it has been since the last recession, have we finally reached a breaking point?

Many on Wall Street are taking what happened at the end of last week extremely seriously.  According to CNBC, we have not seen a yield curve inversion of this nature in 3,009 trading days…

Short-term government fixed income yields are now ahead of the longer part of the curve, delivering a strong recession indication that hasn’t happened since 2007.

The spread, or yield curve, between the 3-month and 10-year Treasury notes just broke the longest streak ever of being above 10 basis points, or 0.1 percentage point. The two maturities were last below that level in September 2007, a run of 3,009 trading days, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

3,009 trading days is a very, very long time.

And now we will see how inverted the curve becomes, because as Zero Hedge has aptly pointed out, the more inverted the curve become the “higher the odds of a recession”…

Why is the inversion of the 3 Month-10 Year curve – the first since 2007 – such a momentous occasion? Because not only is said inversion the most accurate recession leading indicator, having correctly “predicted” the last 6 recessions with no false positives, most recently inverting in 1989, in 2000 and in 2006, with recessions prompting starting in 1990, 2001 and 2008….

… it also feeds directly into every Wall Street recession model: the more inverted it is, the higher the odds of a recession.

To get an idea of what the models are currently showing, just check out this chart.  At this moment, the odds of another recession are the highest they have been since the last one.

Many investors were hoping that the bond market would have better news for us on Monday, but instead things got even worse

On Friday, markets were spooked when the yield curve inverted, a reliable recession signal though usually not an immediate one. That means the rate on a lower duration instrument rose above a longer duration security’s yield. In this case, it was the yield on the 3-month bill, at 2.44 percent Monday, moving above the 10-year yield, which sank as low as 2.38 percent, a more than 2-year low.

I know that just about everybody in America is writing about the Mueller Report right now, and I just posted an article about it too, but the outcome of that investigation is not going to change the trajectory of the global economy.  It has been slowing down for quite some time, and that is the primary reason why we have seen an inversion of the yield curve

“Yield curves are responding to what they see, to what I believe is a global economic slowdown,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group. “You don’t see this kind of move in curves, not just here but everywhere, unless you get one.”

Global central banks are already jumping into action, and I expect a tremendous amount of intervention as global economic conditions continue to deteriorate.

But there is only so much that they can do, and even though they have pulled a few rabbits out of the hat in recent years, at some point they are going to completely lose control.

Already, we are starting to see things happen that are very reminiscent of the last recession.  For example, we are on pace for the worst year for store closings in all of U.S. history, and another major retailer just announced that they will be closing all their stores

LifeWay Christian Resources announced Wednesday that it will be closing all remaining 170 stores this year and focusing on online sales. Carol Pipes, director of corporate communications for LifeWay, posted the announcement on the company’s website, explaining that it was “a strategic shift of resources to a dynamic digital strategy.”

Communities all over America, especially the more economically-depressed ones, are going to start looking really bleak as the number of empty buildings continues to rise.  This is something that I have warned about for a long time, and now it is happening on a massive scale.

As I end this article, I once again want to mention a factor that is going to have an enormous impact on our economy throughout the rest of this year.  The flooding in the middle portion of the nation has destroyed thousands of farms, and the National Weather Service is warning that the flooding that we have seen so far is just “a preview of what we expect throughout the rest of the spring”.  This is already the worst flooding disaster for U.S. farmers in modern American history, and it is going to get much, much worse.

We are going to see another huge surge in farm bankruptcies, thousands of farmers will not be able to plant crops at all this year, food prices are going to rise dramatically, and a lot of families all over America are going to have a real problem making their food budgets stretch far enough.

There are so many factors hammering our economy right now.  If the Federal Reserve is able to pull another rabbit out of the hat this time, it will be nothing short of a major miracle.

We are literally at a critical tipping point, and it is not going to be easy to pull us back from the brink this time.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

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