The Retail Apocalypse Picks Up Speed As Sears, JCPenney, Brookstone And Mattress Firm Spiral Toward Bankruptcy

Over 20 major retailers have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of last year, and in 2018 we may break the all-time record for annual store closings that was established just last year.  We are in the midst of the worst retail apocalypse in American history, and it appears to be picking up speed as retail giants such as Sears, JCPenney, Brookstone and Mattress Firm spiral toward bankruptcy.  We live at a time when the middle class is being systematically destroyed, and so the truth is that U.S. consumers simply do not have as much discretionary income as they once did.  Many large retailers believed that things would eventually turn around, and they have been fighting very hard to survive, but now time has run out for quite a few of them.

Mattress Firm

Everyone knew that Mattress Firm was in deep trouble, but it still surprised many of us when it was announced that they are officially planning to file for bankruptcy.  The following comes from Reuters

Mattress Firm Inc, the largest U.S. mattress retailer, is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, as it seeks to exit costly store leases and shore up its business, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

At this moment Mattress Firm has approximately 3,000 brick-and-mortar locations, and as those stores close down those abandoned buildings are going to be giant eyesores on street corners all over America.

Brookstone

When I was a kid back in the 1980s, it seemed like Brookstone had an outlet in every mall I visited.  But now Brookstone has filed for bankruptcy, and all remaining mall stores will be shut down

Brookstone filed for bankruptcy and will close its remaining 101 mall stores.

The mall and airport seller, best known for massage chairs, quirky gadgets, and travel luggage, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court on Thursday. It was Brookstone’s second bankruptcy round in four years.

Sears

Sears has been shutting down stores for years, but up until now they have never admitted that bankruptcy was on the horizon.

But now time has run out and emergency measures are required if Sears is to survive.  The following comes from CNN

Sears is running out of time to fix its problems, the CEO says.

Eddie Lampert, who controls most of the company’s shares through his hedge fund, told the board on Monday that it must address “significant near-term constraints” in its cash position.

Of course Sears is still not actually using the term “bankruptcy”, but even CNN is admitting that Eddie Lampert used “language that suggested the company could be forced out of business”

Lampert did not use the word “bankruptcy,” but he raised the possibility that creditors could be wiped out, a process that often takes place in bankruptcy court, without immediate action.

He also said it was in the best interest of stakeholders to “accomplish this as a going concern” — language that suggested the company could be forced out of business.

Those that have been following my work for a long time know that I have repeatedly stated that Sears is going to zero.

Now we appear to be on the precipice of that actually happening, and it is a very sad day for America indeed.

JCPenney

Speaking of retailers that are going to zero, JCPenney is absolutely drowning in debt and has a very dismal prognosis for the future

Leaderless, $4 billion in debt and with a stock price below $2, the besieged retailer faces an uncertain fate after posting its latest round of dismal earnings.

“They’re in a leaky boat that eventually will sink,” said Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies at the Columbia Business School and a former CEO of Sears Canada and other department stores. “The prognosis for the future is not happiness.”

In the end, JCPenney is not going to survive, and so America will have to shop elsewhere for substandard clothing at inflated prices.

Bed Bath & Beyond

Nobody is suggesting that bankruptcy is imminent for Bed Bath & Beyond, but if they continue to have disastrous sales results it won’t be too long before they are on the chopping block too…

The struggling retailer said Wednesday that it was bringing on two top management consulting firms to help it cut costs and improve its merchandise. CEO Steven Temares did not name the firms.

The housewares retailer needs help. Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond plunged nearly 25% Thursday to their lowest level since March 2000 because of awful sales during the previous quarter.

We are moving into the most critical time of the year for retailers.  Most troubled chains will hang on through the next three months, but once we get to January and February we will see many of them give up the fight for good.

Meanwhile, some of the retailers that are still doing okay are warning that our trade war with China will likely mean much higher prices for consumers

Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. are among the large retailers and food companies that have sent a letter to U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer warning that proposed tariffs on $200 billion on Chinese goods would hurt consumers and American businesses.

Walmart’s letter, dated Sept. 6, focuses on what it says will be the repercussions of the tariffs, which would apply to goods like food and beverages, personal care products like shampoo, detergents, motor vehicles and paper goods like napkins.

Of course U.S. consumers cannot exactly afford higher prices at this point.  U.S. consumers have been spending more than they are earning month after month, and they are making up the difference by going into ever-increasing amounts of debt.

This is not what a healthy economy looks like.

If we had a healthy economy, the middle class would be growing and retailers would be thriving.

But instead, the vacancy rate at U.S. shopping malls just hit the highest level in six years

The vacancy rate at metro and regional malls around the United States hit 8.6% last quarter, the highest since the end of 2012, according to data released Monday by real estate research firm Reis (REIS).

Back then, the economy was still working its way out of a recession and an excess of malls had been built in the preceding decades. Retail vacancies peaked at 9.4% during the middle of 2011.

Things are not getting better for the U.S. economy.  We continue to see numbers that we have not seen since the last recession, and it appears that things will continue to deteriorate as we head into 2019.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

America Is Committing Suicide: Over The Past 12 Months, The U.S. National Debt Has Increased By 1.271 Trillion Dollars

If we do not change course, our once great nation will be destroyed by a debt that has grown wildly out of control.  We are facing an unprecedented debt crisis that literally threatens to bring our country to an end, and yet our politicians are almost entirely silent on this issue in 2018.  In fact, Republicans and Democrats just worked together to pass another big, fat spending bill through Congress that is actually going to increase the pace at which we are going into debt.  What the Republicrats are doing is not just wrong.  To be honest, the truth is that they are committing crimes against humanity, and they are completely wiping out the very bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.  How in the world is America supposed to be “great again” when we are buried in so much debt that future generations can never have any possible hope of getting free from it?

The fiscal year of the federal government goes from October 1st to September 30th.  During the fiscal year that just ended, the U.S. national debt increased by 1.271 trillion dollars

The federal debt increased by $1,271,158,167,126.72 in fiscal 2018, according to data released today by the Treasury.

The total federal debt started the fiscal year at $20,244,900,016,053.51 according to the Treasury, and finished the fiscal year at $21,516,058,183,180.23.

This is one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Washington.  Our current “representatives” are completely and utterly failing us.

Once upon a time, at least members of the Tea Party would stand up and say something, but these days nobody seems to care that America’s future is being systematically destroyed.  Republicans have been in control of both houses of Congress, but our debt problems just continue to get worse and worse.  And the truth is that the budgets that have been passed since Donald Trump became president are simply slightly revised Obama budgets.  The Republicans have allowed the Democrats to have their way time after time, and it has been absolutely disgusting to watch.

In 8 of the past 11 fiscal years, the U.S. national debt has risen by more than a trillion dollars, and the U.S. national debt is now sitting at an all-time record high of 21.52 trillion dollars.

What we are doing is literally insane, and if we want our nation to survive we must change course immediately.

These days, there is a lot of discussion about the political gains that “Democratic socialists” have been making all over America, and Republicans are trying to assure us that the American people don’t actually want socialism.

But you know what?

We have already gone most of the way down the road toward socialism.  I think that Ron Paul made this point very well  in his most recent article

We know socialism does not work. It is an economic system based on the use of force rather than economic freedom of choice. But while many Americans seem to be in a panic over the failures of socialism in Venezuela, they don’t seem all that concerned that right here at home President Trump just signed a massive $1.3 trillion dollar spending bill that delivers socialism on a scale that Venezuelans couldn’t even imagine. In fact this one spending bill is three times Venezuela’s entire gross domestic product!

Did I miss all the Americans protesting this warfare-welfare state socialism?

If you are really against socialism, you should be fighting for the federal government to be greatly reduced in size and scope.

But so few Americans seem to believe in true limited government these days.

It would be a great first step if we would actually try to start living within our means.  But if 1.271 trillion dollars of government spending was pulled out of the economy over the past 12 months, the result would be a horrible economic depression.  And politicians do not like economic downturns, because when things get bad voters tend not to vote for incumbents.  So they just keep going into more debt and they keep kicking the can down the road.

But if we stay on the path that we are currently on, the CBO says that the United States will be 99 trillion dollars in debt by 2048.

Of course we will never actually ever get to 99 trillion dollars in debt.  America will cease to exist long before we ever reach that mark.

If we want to save America, we must take action now, but very few people seem to even care about our exploding debt at this point.

And it isn’t just our national debt that is the problem.  State and local government debt is at record levels all over the nation, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, and U.S. consumers are more than 13 trillion dollars in debt

If you added up the personal debt of every American — what they owe on their mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and more — the total is staggering. Collectively, we’re $13.2 trillion in the red. That’s the highest ever, according to the New York Fed.

Yet no one seems to be panicking. Maybe that’s because we can’t comprehend $13 trillion. Imagine buying every NFL team. And every NBA team. And every NHL team. And every Major League Baseball team. But that only adds up to $191 billion.

America is committing suicide in slow-motion, and it is an absolutely heartbreaking thing to witness.

It is almost as if we lack the will to survive as a nation.  All we seem to care about is our comfort level at this moment, and we don’t want anyone to tell us that we have to cut back on anything.  I think that Chris Martenson summed things up very well in his most recent piece

Nothing grows forever.  Cancer tries, but always defeats itself in the process.  Yeast parties until all the sugar in the vat is gone or it pollutes itself out of an active existence.

Can humans do better? The jury is still out on that.

But so far, the signs say that, as a group, we lack the ability to organize effectively against big, complex challenges. Especially if doing so requires us to willingly choose to live a life of less. We’re simply too addicted to more.

We cannot continue to go down this road.

Because at the end of this road is not just economic collapse.  What we are talking about is literally the end of the United States of America.

All throughout history, great societies have been done in by greed, sloth, corruption and laziness, and we are headed down the exact same path.  If we want to survive, emergency surgery is necessary, but at this point nobody is even tending to the dying patient.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

The Stock Market Just Crashed In Italy, And Argentina Has Panic-Raised Interest Rates To 65 Percent

In the 9th largest economy in the world, the financial markets are crashing, and in the 21st largest economy in the world the central bank just raised interest rates to 65 percent to support a currency that is completely imploding.  While the mainstream media in the United States continues to be obsessed with all things Kavanaugh, an international financial crisis threatens to spiral out of control.  Stock prices are falling and currencies are collapsing all over the planet, but because the U.S. has been largely unaffected so far the mainstream media is mostly choosing to ignore what is happening.  But the truth is that this is serious.  The financial crisis in Italy threatens to literally tear the EU apart, and South America has become an economic horror show.  The situation in Brazil continues to get worse, the central bank of Argentina has just raised interest rates to 65 percent, and in Venezuela starving people are literally eating cats and dogs in order to survive.  How bad do things have to get before people will start paying attention?

On Friday, Italian stocks had their worst day in more than two years, and it was the big financial stocks that were on the cutting edge of the carnage

Shares in Italian banks .FTIT8300, whose big sovereign bond portfolios makes them sensitive to political risk, bore the brunt of selling pressure, sinking 7.3 percent as government bonds sold off and the focus turned to rating agencies.

Along with the main Italian stock index .FTMIB, the banks had their worst day since the June 2016 Brexit vote triggered a selloff across markets.

Italian bonds got hit extremely hard too.  The following comes from Business Insider

Bond markets are also suffering. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Italian bond jumped in Friday morning trading. Yields move inversely to price, with a higher yield reflecting an increased premium to hold the bond. The 10-year yield hit 3.22% in early morning trade, an increase of more than 10%.

So what sparked the sudden selloff?

Well, the new Italian government and the EU are at odds with one another, and the European elite were greatly displeased when Italy approved a new budget that was far larger than anticipated

On Thursday night, six months after the government’s ascent to power, Italy’s populist coalition government of the Five Star Movement and the Northern League finally agreed on the key tenets of its first budget.

The coalition said in a statement they had agreed to set Italy’s budget deficit at 2.4% of GDP, an increase on the current level and far above the 1.6% that technocratic finance minister Giovanni Tria had lobbied for.

It is easy to criticize Italy, but what we are doing here in the United States is just as bad if not worse.

A new 854 billion dollar spending bill just got pushed through in D.C., and it is going to continue to explode the size of our national debt.  We are going down the exact same path that all of these other nations have gone down, and in the process we are literally committing national suicide.

Just look at what is happening in Argentina.  Years of wild spending have resulted in an economy that is deep in recession.  The Argentine peso has lost approximately 50 percent of its value so far in 2018, and in a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding the central bank of Argentina just panic-raised interest rates to 65 percent.

When interest rates are at 65 percent, you don’t really have an economy anymore.

What you have is an endless nightmare.

In an emergency move, the International Monetary Fund has agreed to increase the size of Argentina’s bailout to 57 billion dollars

The International Monetary Fund and Argentina announced Wednesday an arrangement to increase resources available to the South American country by $19 billion.

The agreement, pending IMF Executive Board approval, would bring the total amount available under the program to $57.4 billion by the end of 2021, up from $50 billion.

That won’t be nearly enough to turn the situation around in Argentina, and the IMF probably knows that.

For a long time many of us have been warning of a coming global financial crisis, and now that day has arrived.

For a long time many of us have been telling you to keep a close eye on Italy, and now a day of reckoning for that very troubled nation is here.

And big problems are coming for the U.S. too.  Signs of imminent economic trouble just keep popping up, and it isn’t going to take much to push us into a new financial crisis that will be much worse than what we witnessed in 2008.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

New Vehicle Sales “Collapse” And Pending Home Sales “Plunge” As America’s Economic Slowdown Accelerates

In late 2018, the bad economic news just keeps rolling in.  At a time when consumer confidence is absolutely soaring, the underlying economic numbers are clearly telling us that enormous problems are right around the corner.  Of course this is usually what happens just before a major economic downturn.  Most people in the general population feel like the party can go on for quite a while longer, but meanwhile the warning signs just keep becoming more and more obvious.  I have been hearing from people that truly believe that the economy is “strong”, but if the U.S. economy really was in good shape would new vehicle sales be “collapsing”?

According to the latest estimates released by Edmunds, new vehicle sales for September are expected to collapse both on a monthly basis and year-over-year basis. The company predicted that 1,392,434 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in September, which makes for a estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17 million. This will be a 5.4% decrease from last month and an 8.3% drop from September of last year.

Those are absolutely terrible numbers.

And this news comes after all of the major automakers had already revised earnings guidance lower.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

The drop in sales capped another rough month for the auto industry during which Detroit’s carmakers all revised their earnings guidance lower and Ford embarked on a five-year restructuring plan. Earlier this week, we reported that Ford’s CEO claimed that President Trump’s auto tariffs had cost the company $1 billion in profits.

Sadly, this may just be the very beginning of the auto industry’s troubles.

It is now being projected that if this trade war with China continues, U.S. automakers could see total sales fall “by 2 million vehicles per year”

Retaliation by China to tariffs already in place have made some American auto exports uncompetitive, and could collapse US auto sales by 2 million vehicles per year, resulting in the loss of up to 715,000 American jobs and a devastating hit of as much as $62 billion to the US GDP.

As per NBC News, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) warns that the auto industry could receive a devastating blow if Section 232 declares foreign-made cars and car parts a threat to national security.

Kristin Dziczek, a vice president and senior economist at CAR, said if Section 232 is enacted, it could trigger a “downward cycle” in the auto industry – not seen since the last great recession.

And needless to say, the thousands of companies that do business with those large automakers would also lose sales and jobs.

Once these downturns get rolling, the domino effect can be absolutely devastating.

On Thursday, we also learned that pending home sales “plunged in August”

Pending home sales plunged in August, dropping 1.8% MoM (almost four times worse than expected) to its lowest since Oct 2014 (and fell 2.5% YoY) – the fourth month of annual declines in a row…

If the U.S. economy truly is “strong”, then why have we seen four monthly declines in a row?

And it isn’t just one part of the nation that is experiencing a downturn.  According to Bloomberg, all four major regions of the country showed a decline…

As Bloomberg notes, the decline, which was broad-based across all four regions, shows that higher mortgage rates, rising prices and a shortage of affordable homes continue to squeeze buyers. Existing-home sales in August matched the lowest in more than two years, while revisions to new-home sales showed a slower market than thought, according to previously released figures.

Homes are not selling like they once were.  There is a reason why one out of every four home sellers in America slashed their prices in August.  Demand is way down, and that strongly indicates that an economic slowdown is here.

When it looks like the economy is headed for a major downturn, a lot of people go out and stock up on gold, and it turns out that is precisely what global central banks have been doing

Central banks have emerged as some of the biggest buyers of gold this year, buying a total of 264 metric tons this year to reach the highest level in six years, according to analysts at Macquarie.

Of course the Federal Reserve and other central banks are trying to assure us that everything is going to be okay, but meanwhile their actions are telling us a different story.

Much of the world is already in the midst of a crippling economic crisis, and every indicator seems to be pointing to the fact that the U.S. is headed down the same path.

Even without any extenuating circumstances, the truth is that we are way overdue for a recession.  But when you throw in political chaos, exploding debt levels, an emerging market currency crisis and a trade war between the two largest economies on the entire planet, you definitely have a recipe for a perfect storm.

If you do not believe that this trade war is a big deal, you should consider the words of former Reagan administration official David Stockman

Folks, it’s not a “skirmish”. On the scale of trade warfare we are now at DEFCON 2.

At this very moment, the US is taxing $250 billion of Chinese imports or nearly half the total flow; and China is taxing $110 billion of its imports from the US or 85% of the flow.

And it’s soon going full monte. The Donald has repeatedly threatened to tariff the remaining $267 billion of Chinese imports if Beijing retaliates against his $200 billion, but, self-evidently, they already have.

The U.S. economy has found a way to muddle through for the past couple of years, and we should all hope that the economy can find a way to navigate through these current problems.

But the storm clouds are growing more ominous with each passing day, and at some point time will run out.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

Do They Know Something We Don’t? Corporate Insiders Are Selling Stocks At The Fastest Pace In 10 Years

A lot of things are starting to happen that we haven’t seen since the last recession.  A few days ago, I wrote about the fact that home sellers in the United States are cutting their prices at the fastest pace in at least eight years, and now we have learned that corporate insiders are selling stocks at the most rapid pace in ten years.  So why are they dumping their shares so quickly?  Do they know something that the rest of us do not?  Certainly nobody can blame them for taking advantage of the ridiculously high stock prices that we are seeing in the marketplace right now.  But stock prices have been very high for a while.  Why is there such a mad rush for the exits all of a sudden?  According to CNN, corporate insiders have sold 5.7 billion dollars worth of stock so far in September…

CEOs are using the market boom to quietly cash in their own chips.

Insiders at US companies have dumped $5.7 billion of stock this month, the highest in any September over the past decade, according to an analysis of regulatory filings by TrimTabs Investment Research.

It’s not a new trend. Insiders, which include corporate officers and directors, sold shares in August at the fastest pace in 10 years as well, TrimTabs said.

It would be one thing if September was an anomaly, but the fact that insider shares were being sold so rapidly in August as well indicates that this is a clear trend.

Could it be possible that these corporate insiders believe that the market is about to take a tumble?

Of course it doesn’t exactly take inside information to see the writing on the wall.  On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time in 2018.  Overall, this is the Fed’s eighth interest rate increase since 2015, and it looks like the Fed is anticipating three more rate hikes in 2019

Looking ahead to 2019, Fed officials expect at least three rate hikes will be necessary, and one more in 2020.

“The Fed shows no signs of taking (a) breath in rate hikes,” Robert Frick, corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union, wrote in a research note.

This is terrible news for stock market investors, because every rate hiking program in the history of the Federal Reserve has ended in a stock market crash and/or a recession.

In fact, since 1957 there have been 18 rate hiking cycles, and every single one of them has ended in disaster.

So do you think that we are going to beat the odds this time?

After raising rates again, the Fed released a statement in which it said that it expects the U.S. economy to grow “for at least three more years”

The Fed sees the economy growing at a faster-than-expected 3.1 percent this year and continuing to expand moderately for at least three more years, amid sustained low unemployment and stable inflation near its 2 percent target.

“The labor market has continued to strengthen … economic activity has been rising at a strong rate,” it said in its statement.

You can believe that if you want, but it is also important to remember that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke assured all of us that a recession was not coming in 2008.

And later we learned that the moment when he made that statement a recession had actually already begun.

Needless to say, investors were not thrilled by Wednesday’s rate hike, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped another 100 points.  Stocks have really struggled this week, and we continue to get more disappointing news from the real economy.  On the heels of a “disappointing” existing home sales report, we just received news that new home sales missed expectations

Following existing home sales disappointment, hope was once again high for a bounce in new home sales in August but once again disappointed with a 629k print (up from a revised 608k), but missed expectations of 630k.

While the sales gain was the first in three months, the downward revisions to prior figures indicate that the market in recent months was slower than previously reported, adding to broader indications of cooler demand in residential real estate.

And the trade war continues to take a toll as well.  According to Ford’s chief executive, the metals tariffs are going to result in a billion dollars in lost profits for his company…

Ford CEO Jim Hackett told Bloomberg Television on Wednesday that his company faces $1 billion in lost profits from President Donald Trump’s tariffs.

“The metals tariffs took about $1 billion in profit from us – and the irony is we source most of that in the U.S. today anyways,” Hackett said. “If it goes on longer, there will be more damage.”

Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why it looks like Ford could soon be laying off thousands of workers.

The “smart money” is always one step ahead of the “dumb money”, and corporate insiders have a much better view of what is really going on inside their companies than any of the rest of us do.

So if they are collectively convinced that now is a perfect time to sell, that is a major red flag.

On Wall Street, actions speak much louder than words, and corporate insiders are sending a very loud message by selling so many of their own shares.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Why Are So Many People Talking About The Potential For A Stock Market Crash In October?

It is that time of the year again.  Every year, people start talking about a possible stock market crash in October, because everyone remembers the historic crashes that took place in October 1987 and October 2008.  Could we witness a similar stock market crash in October 2018?  Without a doubt, the market is primed for another crash.  Stock valuations have been in crazytown territory for a very long time, and financial chaos has already begun to erupt in emerging markets all over the globe.  When the stock market does collapse, it won’t exactly be a surprise.  And a lot of people out there are pointing to October for historical reasons.  I did not know this, but it turns out that the month with the most market volatility since the Dow was first established has been the month of October

The difference is quite significant, as judged by a measure of volatility known as the standard deviation: For all Octobers since 1896, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was created, the standard deviation of the Dow’s daily changes has been 1.44%. That compares to 1.05% for all months other than October.

Like me, you are probably tempted to think that the reason why October’s number is so high is because of what happened in 1987 and 2008.

But even if you pull out those two months, October is still the most volatile

You might think that this difference is caused by a few outliers, such as the 1987 crash (which, of course, occurred in October) or 2008 (the Dow suffered several thousand-point plunges that month as it reacted to the snowballing financial crisis). But you would be wrong: The standard deviation of daily Dow changes is much higher in October than other months even if we eliminate 1987 and 2008 from the sample.

Once we get to Thanksgiving, the market tends to get sleepy, and it usually doesn’t wake up again until the new year begins.

So if something big is going to happen in the market in 2018, it is probably going to happen in the coming weeks.

And it is inevitable that something big will happen at some point.  As Jesse Colombo has pointed out, stocks are more overvalued right now than they were just before the great stock market crash of 1929…

In a bubble, the stock market becomes overpriced relative to its underlying fundamentals such as earnings, revenues, assets, book value, etc. The current bubble cycle is no different: the U.S. stock market is as overvalued as it was at major generational peaks. According to the cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (a smoothed price-to-earnings ratio), the U.S. stock market is more overvalued than it was in 1929, right before the stock market crash and Great Depression

It is becoming increasingly obvious what we are heading for, and a growing chorus of market experts are issuing ominous declarations about this market.

For example, David Tice is warning that “we’re getting closer to a meltdown scenario”

According to investor David Tice, who made a name for himself in running the Prudent Bear Fund before selling it to Federated Investors in 2008, the current market is dangerous. Tice was quoted as saying he’s “nervous” because “we’re getting closer to a meltdown scenario.”

And John Hussman ultimately expects “two-thirds of market capitalization” to vanish…

I am aware of no plausible conditions under which current extremes are likely to work out well for investors. There are a few possibilities that could involve a smaller loss than the two-thirds of market capitalization that I expect to vanish, as the run-of-the-mill, baseline expectation for the S&P 500 over the completion of this cycle. Yet it’s worth recognizing that the completion of every market cycle in history has taken the most reliable valuation measures we identify (those best correlated with actual subsequent S&P 500 market returns) to less than half of current levels.

Could you imagine the chaos that would be unleashed if the stock market went down by two-thirds?

That would make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

And there are a lot of parallels between what happened in 2008 and what is happening today.  For example, the housing market is slowing down dramatically just like it did a decade ago.  The following comes from a Bloomberg article that I came across earlier today entitled “Builders Slump as U.S. Housing Market Shifts to the Slow Lane”

The housing market is stalling, and homebuilder stocks are feeling the pain.

The S&P Supercomposite Homebuilding Index is down 21 percent year-to-date, on track for the biggest annual drop since 2008, when it fell 32 percent. That’s even with tax cuts, unemployment near the lowest since 1969 and a real-estate developer in the White House. What gives?

Just a few days ago, I wrote an entire article about the fact that home sellers are cutting prices at the fastest rate that we have seen in eight years.  The housing market is clearly telling us that a big time economic slowdown is coming, but most people are not listening.

Switching gears, we have also recently learned that it looks like Ford Motor Company will soon be laying off lots of workers

Ford Motor employees are warily awaiting details of CEO Jim Hackett’s promised “fitness” plan and the serious possibility of significant job losses as the company faces pressure to improve its operations.

The company has warned of $11 billion in restructuring costs over three to five years, which could mean thousands of worker buyouts, according to analysts.

Why would they be doing that if the economy really was in “good shape”?

And let us not forget about the ongoing woes of the retail industry.  Recently, I was astounded to learn that a whopping 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant

“When you walk the streets, you see vacancies on every block in all five boroughs, rich or poor areas — even on Madison Avenue, where you used to have to fight to get space,” said Faith Hope Consolo, head of retail leasing for Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who said the increase in storefront vacancies in New York City had created “the most challenging retail landscape in my 25 years in real estate.”

A survey conducted by Douglas Elliman found that about 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant, she said, compared with roughly 7 percent in 2016.

New York City is one of the few areas around the country that has actually been prospering.

If things are that bad there already, what does that say about the outlook for the rest of the nation?

The truth is that the economy is not nearly as good as you are being told, and things could literally start breaking loose at any moment.

Unfortunately, as a society we have not learned very much from history, and most Americans seem to think that this bubble of artificial prosperity is going to last indefinitely.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Evidence The Housing Bubble Is Bursting?: “Home Sellers Are Slashing Prices At The Highest Rate In At Least Eight Years”

The housing market indicated that a crisis was coming in 2008.  Is the same thing happening once again in 2018?  For several years, the housing market has been one of the bright spots for the U.S. economy.  Home prices, especially in the hottest markets on the east and west coasts, had been soaring.  But now that has completely changed, and home sellers are cutting prices at a pace that we have not seen since the last recession.  In case you are wondering, this is definitely a major red flag for the economy.  According to CNBC, home sellers are “slashing prices at the highest rate in at least eight years”…

After three years of soaring home prices, the heat is coming off the U.S. housing market. Home sellers are slashing prices at the highest rate in at least eight years, especially in the West, where the price gains were hottest.

It is quite interesting that prices are being cut fastest in the markets that were once the hottest, because that is exactly what happened during the subprime mortgage meltdown in 2008 too.

In a previous article, I documented the fact that experts were warning that “the U.S. housing market looks headed for its worst slowdown in years”, but even I was stunned by how bad these new numbers are.

According to Redfin, more than one out of every four homes for sale in America had a price drop within the most recent four week period…

In the four weeks ended Sept. 16, more than one-quarter of the homes listed for sale had a price drop, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. That is the highest level since the company began tracking the metric in 2010. Redfin defines a price drop as a reduction in the list price of more than 1 percent and less than 50 percent.

That is absolutely crazy.

I have never even heard of a number anywhere close to that in a 30 day period.

Of course the reason why prices are being dropped is because homes are not selling.  The supply of homes available for sale is shooting up, and that is good news for buyers but really bad news for sellers.

It could be argued that home prices needed to come down because they had gotten ridiculously high in recent months, and I don’t think that there are too many people that would argue with that.

But is this just an “adjustment”, or is this the beginning of another crisis for the housing market?

Just like a decade ago, millions of American families have really stretched themselves financially to get into homes that they really can’t afford.  If a new economic downturn results in large numbers of Americans losing their jobs, we are once again going to see mortgage defaults rise to stunning heights.

We live at a time when the middle class is shrinking and most families are barely making it from month to month.  The cost of living is steadily rising, but paychecks are not, and that is resulting in a huge middle class squeeze.  I really like how my good friend MN Gordon made this point in his most recent article

The general burden of the American worker is the daily task of squaring the difference between the booming economy reported by the government bureaus and the dreary economy reported in their biweekly paychecks. There is sound reason to believe that this task, this burden of the American worker, has been reduced to some sort of practical joke. An exhausting game of chase the wild goose.

How is it that the economy’s been growing for nearly a decade straight, but the average worker’s seen no meaningful increase in their income? Have workers really been sprinting in place this entire time? How did they end up in this ridiculous situation?

The fact is, for the American worker, America’s brand of a centrally planned economy doesn’t pay. The dual impediments of fake money and regulatory madness apply exactions which cannot be overcome. There are claims to the fruits of one’s labors long before they’ve been earned.

The economy, in other words, has been rigged. The value that workers produce flows to Washington and Wall Street, where it’s siphoned off and misallocated to the cadre of officials, cronies, and big bankers. What’s left is spent to merely keep the lights on, the car running, and food upon the table.

And unfortunately, things are likely to only go downhill from here.

The trade war is really starting to take a toll on the global economy, and it continues to escalate.  Back during the Great Depression we faced a similar scenario, and we would be wise to learn from history.  In a recent post, Robert Wenzel shared a quote from Dr. Benjamin M. Anderson that was pulled from his book entitled “Economics and the Public Welfare: A Financial and Economic History of the United States, 1914-1946”

[T]here came another folly of government intervention in 1930 transcending all the rest in significance. In a world staggering under a load of international debt which could be carried only if countries under pressure could produce goods and export them to their creditors, we, the great creditor nation of the world, with tariffs already far too high, raised our tariffs again. The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of June 1930 was the crowning folly of the who period from 1920 to 1933….

Protectionism ran wild all over the world.  Markets were cut off.  Trade lines were narrowed.  Unemployment in the export industries all over the world grew with great rapidity, and the prices of export commodities, notably farm commodities in the United States, dropped with ominous rapidity….

The dangers of this measure were so well understood in financial circles that, up to the very last, the New York financial district retained hope the President Hoover would veto the tariff bill.  But late on Sunday, June 15, it was announced that he would sign the bill. This was headline news Monday morning. The stock market broke twelve points in the New York Time averages that day and the industrials broke nearly twenty points. The market, not the President, was right.

Even though the stock market has been booming, everything else appears to indicate that the U.S. economy is slowing down.

If home prices continue to fall precipitously, that is going to put even more pressure on the system, and it won’t be too long before we reach a breaking point.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.