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The Amount Of Stuff Being Bought, Sold And Shipped Around The U.S. Hits The Lowest Level In 6 Years

Trucks - Public DomainWhen less stuff is being bought, sold and shipped around the country with each passing month, how in the world can the U.S. economy be in “good shape”?  Unlike official government statistics which are often based largely on projections, assumptions and numbers seemingly made up out of thin air, the Cass Freight index is based on real transactions conducted by real shipping companies.  And what the Cass Freight Index is telling us about the state of the U.S. economy in 2016 lines up perfectly with all of the other statistics that are clearly indicating that we have now shifted into recession mode.

If you are not familiar with the Cass Freight Index, here is a definition of the index from the official Cass website

Since 1995, the Cass Freight Index™ has been a trusted measure of North American freight volumes and expenditures. Our monthly Cass Freight Index Report provides valuable insight into freight trends as they relate to other economic and supply chain indicators and the overall economy.

Data within the Index includes all domestic freight modes and is derived from $25 billion in freight transactions processed by Cass annually on behalf of its client base of hundreds of large shippers. These companies represent a broad sampling of industries including consumer packaged goods, food, automotive, chemical, OEM, retail and heavy equipment. Annual freight volume per organization ranges from $1 million to over $1 billion. The diversity of shippers and aggregate volume provide a statistically valid representation of North American shipping activity.

When they say “all domestic freight modes”, that includes air, rail, truck, etc.  As you are about to see, the total amount of stuff that is being bought, sold and shipped around the country by all these various methods has now been declining for 15 months in a row.

If it was just one or two months you could say that it was just an anomaly, but how in the world can anyone explain away 15 consecutive months?

Not only that, but the brand new number that just came out for May 2016 is the lowest number that we have seen for the month of May in 6 years.

Of course the number for April was the lowest number that we have seen for that month in 6 years too, and the number for March was also the lowest number that we have seen for that month in 6 years.

Are you starting to get the picture?

Below is some analysis of these numbers and a chart from Wolf Richter

The Index is not seasonally or otherwise adjusted, so it shows strong seasonal patterns. In the chart below, the red line with black markers is for 2016. The colorful spaghetti above that line represents the years 2011 through 2015. The only month this year that was not the worst month since 2010 was February; only February 2011 was worse. That’s how bad it has gotten in the Freight sector:

Cass Freight Index - Wolfstreet

“Truck tonnage continues to slide for both linehaul and spot markets,” according to the report. And railroads are also singing the blues.

To me, these numbers are absolutely staggering.  How anyone can look at them and then attempt to claim that the U.S. economy is heading for good times is a mystery to me.

And this is especially true considering all of the other news that is pouring in.  Just today, we learned that new home sales have fallen by the most in 8 months.  If you are trying to sell your home, hopefully you will get that done very quickly, because this latest property bubble is starting to burst in a major way.

Of course there are many, many more numbers that tell us that a new U.S. economic crisis has already begun and has been going on for quite a while.  If you doubt this at all, please carefully read my previous article entitled “15 Facts About The Imploding U.S. Economy That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To See“.

Today, I also came across a stunning IMF report that was just released that criticized the U.S. for our shrinking middle class and our rising levels of poverty…

A rising share of the U.S. labor force is shifting into retirement, basic infrastructure is crumbling, productivity gains are scanty, and labor markets and businesses appear less adept at reallocating human and physical capital. These growing headwinds are overlaid by pernicious secular trends in income: labor’s share of income is around 5 percent lower today than it was 15 years ago, the middle class has shrunk to its smallest size in the last 30 years, the income and wealth distribution are increasingly polarized, and poverty has risen.

If you follow my work on a regular basis, you already know that everything that the IMF said in that paragraph is true.

A little bit later in the report, the IMF shared some absolutely startling facts about the growth of poverty in this country…

There is an urgent need to tackle poverty. In the latest data, 1 in 7 Americans is living in poverty, including 1 in 5 children and 1 in 3 female-headed households. Around 40 percent of those in poverty are working.

This distressing growth in our poverty numbers has taken place during Barack Obama’s so-called “economic recovery”.

So how bad are things ultimately going to get for America’s poor now that a new economic crisis has begun?

Before I wrap up this article, I have to mention the early returns from the Brexit vote.  All day on Thursday, global news sources were reporting that the latest polls had “Remain” comfortably in the lead, and global financial markets soared on that news.

But now that the actual votes are being reported, it looks like it is going to be much, much closer than anticipated.  In fact, as I write this article “Leave” is ahead by a 54.16 percent to 45.84 percent margin.  Only a relatively small fraction of the votes have been counted so far, but global financial markets are already being spooked by these results.

If “Leave” does actually win, that is going to have enormous implications for the markets and for the future of Europe.  So let’s keep a close eye on what is happening.  If “Leave” does prove to be victorious, that will be one of the biggest things to hit Europe in decades, and I am sure that I will be posting an article about it tomorrow.

We live at a time when global events are beginning to accelerate, and there is much uncertainty in the air.  If you do not have a solid foundation on which to stand, the events of the coming months will likely shake you greatly.  I encourage everyone to start focusing on the things that really matter, because a lot of the other things that we obsess over will soon become quite insignificant.

—–

UPDATE: It is official – the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union.  They are to be greatly congratulated for declaring their independence, but without a doubt this vote is going to cause some very serious short-term economic and financial pain.  Already we have witnessed the greatest one day crash in the history of the British pound, and stock markets all over the world are crashing.  For much more, please see our latest video update

Republican Operatives Launch All-Out Effort To Unbind The Delegates And Deny Trump The Nomination

Donald Trump Cube - Public DomainIf you think that Donald Trump already has the Republican nomination locked up, then you don’t understand what is going on behind the scenes.  It has long been my contention that the elite will move heaven and earth in order to keep Trump from ever setting foot in the Oval Office.  One way that they could try to do this is by attempting to deny him the nomination at the Republican convention next month.  Over the past couple of days, the Washington Post, CNN and a whole host of other mainstream news outlets have been reporting on a new “last-ditch effort” that has been launched by Republican operatives to get the Republican convention Rules Committee to unbind all of the delegates and allow them to vote however they want.  As you will see below, they can do this, and if they get enough votes they will do it.

This current effort is different from what we have seen so far during this campaign season, because it is actually being organized by the delegates themselves.  The following comes from the Washington Post

Dozens of Republican convention delegates are hatching a new plan to block Donald Trump at this summer’s party meetings, in what has become the most organized effort so far to stop the businessman from becoming the GOP presidential nominee.

The moves come amid declining poll numbers for Trump and growing concern among Republicans that he is squandering his chance to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Several controversies — including his racial attacks on a federal judge, his renewed call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States and his support for changing the nation’s gun laws — have raised fears among Republicans that Trump is not really a conservative and is too reckless to run a successful race.

This movement is being spearheaded by a delegate from Colorado named Kendal Unruh.  She is actually a key member of the Republican convention Rules Committee, and this is very important for reasons that I will explain below.

For her, it is not about getting some other specific candidate nominated.  Rather, the entire goal is simply to stop Donald Trump

This literally is an ‘Anybody but Trump’ movement,” said Kendal Unruh, a Republican delegate from Colorado who is leading the campaign. “Nobody has any idea who is going to step in and be the nominee, but we’re not worried about that. We’re just doing that job to make sure that he’s not the face of our party.

So what will it take for Unruh and her allies to be successful?

As Fox News explained, there are basically two courses of action…

To prevail, Unruh needs a majority of the 112 members of the convention rules committee, which has two delegates from each state and territory. Then, a majority of the full convention’s 2,472 delegates would have to approve.

There’s a Plan B. If Unruh can win over one-fourth support from the rules committee — just 29 delegates — the full convention must vote on her proposal. So far she’s got around 10 supporters though some prefer delaying the rule’s impact until the 2020 convention, she said.

On Thursday night, Unruh was on a conference call that included at least 30 delegates from 15 different states, and the Washington Post says that regional coordinators for this effort have been recruited “in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Washington and other states.”

One individual that took part in this conference call on Thursday night told CNN that calls are pouring in from people all over the country that want to be part of this movement…

I will tell you, about every two hours people contact me about how to join this effort,” Lonegan said. “This has never been done before, so there’s no textbook on how to do it. So we’re building an organic effort, state by state, to convince members of the Rules Committee to sign onto a rule that unbinds the delegates to vote their moral conscience.”

So could the Republican convention Rules Committee actually do this?

Could they actually unbind all of the delegates and allow them to vote however they wished?

Well, yes they actually could do this.  As Time Magazine has explained, the Republican convention Rules Committee essentially has the power to make up any rules that they want…

It has the power to review and amend all of the rules of the Republican Party, pending ratification by the full convention. If it wanted to, it could insert a rule that says only candidates with blue hair could be the party’s nominee. It’s that powerful. In a contested scenario, the Rules Committee would be ground zero for fights over who and how candidates are nominated on the floor, as well as how the convention itself is conducted.

And thanks to political wrangling by the Cruz campaign, we do know that the rules committee is dominated by delegates that are loyal to Cruz

The convention rules committee is made up of one man and one woman from each of the 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Dominated by party insiders and loyalists to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz—who aggressively worked state conventions to secure slots on the committee—it remains to be seen what the committee’s appetite would be for such a dramatic break from the existing rules.

If I was Donald Trump, I would be taking this very, very seriously.

But at this point he seems to be brushing it off

“I have tremendous support and get the biggest crowds by far and any such move would not only be totally illegal but also a rebuke of the millions of people who feel so strongly about what I am saying,” Trump said in a statement. “People that I defeated soundly in the primaries will do anything to get a second shot — but there is no mechanism for it to happen.”

Right at this moment we still have about a month left before the convention.

So that gives those involved in the anti-Trump movement quite a bit of time to rally their forces.

The rule change that would unbind all of the delegates and free them up to “vote their consciences” has already been drafted.  Here is the text of the proposed rule change…

Preserving Delegates’ Ability to Vote Their Individual Conscience

The secretary of the national convention shall receive and faithfully announce and record each delegate’s vote in accordance with these rules. If any such delegate notifies the secretary of his or her intent to cast a vote of conscience, whether personal or religious, each such delegate shall be unbound and unconstrained by these rules on any given vote, including the first ballot for the selection of the Republican nominee for President of the United States, without the risk of challenge, sanction, or retribution by the Republican National Committee. Allowable personal reasons shall include the public disclosure of one or more grievous acts of personal conduct by a nominee candidate, including but not limited to, criminally actionable acts, acts of moral turpitude or extreme prejudice, and/or notorious public statements of support for positions that clearly oppose or contradict the policies embodied in the Republican Party’s platform as established at the national convention.

In my new book, I warn about the great political shaking that is coming to this nation, and if this rule change is even attempted at the Republican convention it would create seismic shifts in the U.S. political landscape.

Of course there is still one huge question that I have not even addressed in this article yet.

If Trump has the nomination taken away from him, who would the Republican nominee be?

Some are convinced that it would be Paul Ryan, but I believe that it would be somebody else.

Mitt Romney has certainly not hidden his disdain for Donald Trump, and right now he is quietly waiting in the wings.  If the anti-Trump forces get their way, I believe that he would be the man that ultimately walks away with the prize.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

15 Facts About The Imploding U.S. Economy That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To See

U.S. Economy - Public DomainYou are about to see undeniable evidence that the U.S. economy has been slowing down for quite some time.  And it is vital that we focus on the facts, because all over the Internet you are going to find lots and lots of people that have opinions about what is going on with the economy.  And of course the mainstream media is always trying to spin things to make Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton look good, because those that work in the mainstream media are far more liberal than the American population as a whole.  It is true that I also have my own opinions, but as an attorney I learned that opinions are not any good unless you have facts to back them up.  So please allow me a few moments to share with you evidence that clearly demonstrates that we have already entered a major economic slowdown.  The following are 15 facts about the imploding U.S. economy that the mainstream media doesn’t want you to see…

1. Industrial production has now declined for nine months in a row.  We have never seen this happen outside of a recession in all of U.S. history.

2. U.S. commercial bankruptcies have risen on a year over year basis for seven months in a row and are now up 51 percent since September.

3. The delinquency rate on commercial and industrial loans has been rising since January 2015.

4. Total business sales in the United States have been steadily dropping since the middle of 2014.  No, I did not say 2015.  Total business sales have been in decline for nearly two years now, and we just found out that they dropped again

Total business sales in the US did in April what they’ve been doing since July 2014: they dropped: -2.9% from a year ago, to $1.28 trillion (not adjusted for seasonal differences and price changes), the Censuses Bureau reported on Tuesday. That’s where sales had been in April 2013!

5. U.S. factory orders have been dropping for 18 months in a row.

6. The Cass Shipping Index has been falling on a year over year basis for 14 consecutive months.

7. U.S. coal production has dropped to the lowest level in 35 years.

8. Goldman Sachs has its own internal tracker of the U.S. economy, and it has fallen to the lowest level since the last recession.

9. JPMorgan’s “recession indicators” have risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.

10. Federal tax receipts and state tax receipts usually both start to fall as we enter a new recession, and that is precisely what is taking place right now.

11. The Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index has been falling for five months in a row.

12. The employment numbers that the government released for last month were the worst that we have seen in six years.

13. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, layoff announcements at major firms are running 24 percent higher this year than they were at this time last year.

14. Online job postings on the business networking site LinkedIn have been declining steadily since February after 73 months in a row of growth.

15. The number of temporary workers in the United States peaked and started falling precipitously before the recession of 2001 even started.  The exact same thing happened just prior to the beginning of the 2008 recession.  So would it surprise you to learn that the number of temporary workers in the United States peaked in December and has fallen dramatically since then?

Temporary Help Services

Earlier today, we learned that two of our biggest corporations will be laying off even more workers.  Bank of America, which is holding more of our money than any other bank in the country, has announced that it is going to be cutting about 8,000 more workers

Bank of America is expected to reduce staffing in its consumer banking division by as many as 8,000 more jobs.

The nation’s largest retail bank by deposits has already reduced the staffing in its consumer division from more than 100,000 in 2009 to about 68,400 as of the end of the first quarter of 2016, said Thong Nguyen, Bank of America’s president of retail banking and co-head of consumer banking at the Morgan Stanley Financials Conference Tuesday.

And Wal-Mart has announced that it is going to be eliminating “back-office accounting jobs” at approximately 500 locations

Walmart is going to cut some back-office accounting jobs at about 500 stores in a bid to become more efficient.

The job cuts will occur mostly at stores mostly in the West and involve accounting and invoicing workers, says spokesman Kory Lundberg. Instead, bookkeeping functions will be switched to Walmart’s home office in Bentonville, Ark. Cash at the stores will be counted by machine.

Day after day we are hearing about more layoffs like this.  So why would this be happening if the U.S. economy truly was in “recovery mode”?

Even with how manipulated the GDP numbers are these days, Barack Obama is on course 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.  The truth is that our economy has been stuck in the mud ever since the end of the last recession, and now a major new downturn has clearly already begun.

And you want to know who else realizes this?

Foreign investors do.

Last month, foreign investors dumped U.S. debt at the fastest pace ever recorded

Foreign investors sold a record amount of U.S. Treasury bonds and notes for the month of April, according to U.S. Treasury Department data on Wednesday, as investors priced in a few more rate increases by the Federal Reserve this year.

Foreigners sold $74.6 billion in U.S. Treasury debt in the month, after purchases of $23.6 billion in March. April’s outflow was the largest since the U.S. Treasury Department started recording Treasury debt transactions in January 1978.

There is no debate any longer – the next economic crisis is already here.  This is so abundantly obvious at this point that even George Soros has been feverishly dumping stocks and buying gold.

We can argue about whether the U.S. economy started turning down in late 2015, early 2015 or late 2014, and it is good to have those debates.

But at the end of the day, what is far more important is what is ahead.  Fortunately, our downturn has been fairly gradual so far, and let us hope that it stays that way for as long as possible.

In much of the rest of the world, things are already in full-blown panic mode.  For instance, Venezuela was once the wealthiest nation in South America, but now people are literally hunting cats and dogs for food.

Absent a major “black swan event” of some sort, we won’t see that happening in the United States for at least a while yet, but without a doubt we are steamrolling toward a major economic depression.

Unfortunately for all of us, there isn’t anything that any of our politicians are going to be able to do to stop it.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

George Soros Is Preparing For Economic Collapse – Does He Know Something That You Don’t?

George Soros - Photo by Niccolo CarantiWhy is George Soros selling stocks, buying gold and making “a series of big, bearish investments”?  If things stay relatively stable like they are right now, these moves will likely cost George Soros a tremendous amount of money.  But if a major financial crisis is imminent, he stands to make obscene returns.  So does George Soros know something that the rest of us do not?  Could it be possible that he has spent too much time reading websites such as The Economic Collapse Blog?  What are we to make of all of this?

The recent trading moves that Soros has made are so big and so bearish that they have even gotten the attention of the Wall Street Journal

Worried about the outlook for the global economy and concerned that large market shifts may be at hand, the billionaire hedge-fund founder and philanthropist recently directed a series of big, bearish investments, according to people close to the matter.

Soros Fund Management LLC, which manages $30 billion for Mr. Soros and his family, sold stocks and bought gold and shares of gold miners, anticipating weakness in various markets. Investors often view gold as a haven during times of turmoil.

Hmmm – it sounds suspiciously like George Soros and Michael Snyder are on the exact same page as far as what is about to happen to the global economy.

You know that it is very late in the game when that starts happening…

One thing that George Soros is particularly concerned about that I haven’t been talking a lot about yet is the upcoming Brexit vote.  If the United Kingdom leaves the EU (and hopefully they will), the short-term consequences for the European economy could potentially be absolutely catastrophic

Mr. Soros also argues that there remains a good chance the European Union will collapse under the weight of the migration crisis, continuing challenges in Greece and a potential exit by the United Kingdom from the EU.

If Britain leaves, it could unleash a general exodus, and the disintegration of the European Union will become practically unavoidable,” he said.

The Brexit vote will be held two weeks from today on June 23rd, and we shall be watching to see what happens.

But Soros is not just concerned about a potential Brexit.  The economic slowdown in China also has him very worried, and so he has directed his firm to make extremely bearish wagers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the last time Soros made these kinds of bearish moves was back in 2007, and it resulted in more than a billion dollars of gains for his company.

Of course Soros is not alone in his bearish outlook.  In fact, Goldman Sachs has just warned that “there may be significant risk to the downside for the market”

Goldman Sachs is getting nervous about stocks.

In a note to clients, equity strategist Christian Mueller-Glissmann outlined the firm’s fears that there may be significant risk to the downside for the market.

Ultimately, George Soros and Goldman Sachs are looking at the same economic data that I share with my readers on a daily basis.

As I have been documenting for months, almost every single economic indicator that you can possibly think of says that we are heading into a recession.

For instance, just today I was sent a piece by Mike Shedlock that showed that federal and state tax receipts are really slowing down just like they did just prior to the last two recessions…

US federal personal tax receipts receipts are falling fast. So is the Evercore ISI State Tax Survey.

The last two times the survey plunged this much, the US was already in recession.

Is it different this time?

Tax Receipts - Mish Shedlock

And online job postings on LinkedIn have now been falling precipitously since February after 73 months in a row of growth

After 73 consecutive months of year-over-year growth, online jobs postings have been in decline since February. May was by far the worst month since January 2009, down 285k from April and down 552k from a year ago.

Last week, the government issued the worst jobs report in nearly six years, and the energy industry continues to bleed good paying middle class jobs at a staggering rate.  The following comes from oilprice.com

That may seem counterintuitive in an industry that has been rapidly shedding workers, with more than 350,000 people laid off in the oil and gas industry worldwide.

Texas is one place feeling the pain. Around 99,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Lone Star state have been eliminated since prices collapsed two years ago, or about one third of the entire industry. In April alone there were about 6,300 people in oil and gas and supporting services that were handed pink slips. Employment in Texas’ oil sector is close to levels not seen since the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009. “We’re still losing big chunks of jobs with each passing month,” Karr Ingham, an Amarillo-based economist, told The Houston Chronicle.

At this point it is so obvious that we have entered a new economic downturn that I don’t know how anyone can possibly deny it any longer.

Unfortunately, the reality of what is happening has not sunk in with the general population yet.

Just like 2008, people are feverishly racking up huge credit card balances even though we stand on the precipice of a major financial crisis…

American taxpayers are quick to criticize the federal government for its ever-increasing national debt, but a new study released Wednesday found taxpayers are also saddled with debt, and are likely to end 2016 with a record high $1 trillion in outstanding balances.

Wallethub, a site that recommends credit cards based on consumers’ needs, said that will be the highest amount of credit card debt on record, surpassing even the years during and before the Great Recession. The site said the record high was in 2008, when people owed $984.2 billion on their credit cards.

Will we ever learn?

This has got to be one of the worst possible times to be going into credit card debt.

Sadly, the “dumb money” will continue to act dumb and the “smart money” (such as George Soros) will continue to quietly position themselves to take advantage of the crisis that is already starting to unfold.

We can’t change what is happening to the economy, but we do have control over the choices that we make.

So I urge you to please make your choices wisely.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

Dozens Shot Over Memorial Day Weekend As The Collapse Of Chicago Accelerates

Gang Violence - Public DomainChaos and violence threaten to spiral out of control in America’s third largest city, and nobody seems to have any idea how to solve the problem.  After decades of control by the radical left, many parts of the “Windy City” have become rotting, decaying, gang-infested hellholes.  Just like Detroit, the city of Chicago is rapidly becoming a joke to the rest of the world, but a horribly corrupt political culture likely stands in the way of any type of major reform any time soon.  And just like much of the rest of the nation, a spirit of violence and civil unrest is rising in Chicago.  So far this year, the number of shootings in Chicago is up 50 percent compared to the same time period last year, and that was before we even got to Memorial Day weekend.  As of Sunday morning, at least 40 people had already been shot, and authorities were bracing for even more violence as the holiday weekend stretched on…

A string of nearly two dozen shootings on the West Side has pushed the number of people shot during the Memorial Day weekend to at least 40, with two more days to go.

As of early Sunday morning, the toll stood at four dead and 36 wounded across the city, including a 15-year-girl shot to death as she rode in a Jeep on Lake Shore Drive near Fullerton Avenue, police said.

The cries to fix what is wrong with Chicago are becoming increasingly desperate, but at this point the city is drowning in debt and is pretty much flat broke.

So the options for doing anything about this growing crisis are quite limited.

But that isn’t stopping prominent city leaders from speaking out.  According to the New York Times, Rev. Corey Brooks believes that “we could be looking at a blood bath” this summer if nothing changes…

“If something doesn’t change, if we don’t get jobs for these kids, if we don’t change the economic situation, I’m worried that we could be looking at a blood bath,” said the Rev. Corey Brooks, a pastor on the city’s South Side, a mostly African-American area where some of the shootings have been concentrated. “If something doesn’t happen, I fear that we’re potentially looking at one of the worst summers we’ve ever had.”

As of Friday morning, homicides in Chicago were up 52 percent in 2016, compared with the same period a year ago, and shootings had increased by 50 percent, though the pace of violence had slowed in recent weeks, the police said.

I believe that Rev. Brooks is correct, but he isn’t identifying the core of the problem.

Thanks in large part to unchecked illegal immigration, gang membership has been surging in Chicago.  Back in 2012, the Chicago Crime Commission estimated that there were 150,000 gang members living in the city, but of course by now that number is likely far higher.

No city in the United States has a higher population of gang members than Chicago does, and hundreds of factions are constantly battling for turf.  The police in Chicago insist that they have the situation under control, but everyone can see that they do not.

And how could they?  There are only 13,318 law enforcement officers of all types in the city of Chicago.  They are outnumbered by the gangs by much more than a 10 to 1 margin.  There is no way in the world that they are ever going to be able to stop the gang violence.  All they can do is hope to contain it.

Sadly, they are fighting a losing battle, because with each passing month thousands more gang members cross our southern border illegally and head directly for our major cities where they are warmly received by their gang brothers.

Perhaps this helps to explain why 3,000 millionaires left the city of Chicago last year.

Do you want to know somewhere else that has been controlled by the radical left for decades and that is now seeing chaos and violence spin out of control?

In Venezuela, we get to see what it looks like when an entire country starts to shut down.  The following comes from the New York Times

The courts? Closed most days. The bureau to start a business? Same thing. The public defender’s office? That’s been converted into a food bank for government employees.

Step by step, Venezuela has been shutting down.

This country has long been accustomed to painful shortages, even of basic foods. But Venezuela keeps drifting further into uncharted territory.

At this point, more than 80 percent of all basic consumer products are in short supply, and some people have become so desperate that they are actually hunting cats and dogs for food.  My wife and I had a lot more to say about the rapidly deteriorating situation down in Venezuela during a recent episode of our new television show.  It is so important to watch what is going on down there right now, because eventually the same things will be happening here in America too.

When society breaks down, people become very desperate, and crime spirals out of control.  The mafia and the gangs are having a field day at the moment, and the police are so overwhelmed that they can’t do much to stop them.

And if you need medical treatment down in Venezuela right now, you might as well forget it

The Luis Razetti Hospital in the portal city of Barcelona looks like a war zone.

Patients can be seen balancing themselves on half-broken beds with days-old blood on their bodies.

They’re the lucky ones; most are curled up on the floor, blood streaming, limbs blackening.

Children lie among dirty cardboard boxes in the hallways without food, water or medication.

Without electricity or functioning machines, medics have had to create their own solutions. Two men who had surgery on their legs have their limbs elevated by makeshift slings made out of water bottles.

Most Americans would scoff at the suggestion that we could ever see scenes like that in the United States, but just a few years ago most Venezuelans would have probably said the exact same thing.

For so long, watchmen all over America have been endlessly warning people to get prepared.

But at some point, time runs out.

In fact, down in Venezuela time has already run out.  Store shelves all over the country are empty, there are chronic shortages of basic supplies, some people are hunting dogs and cats for food, and there has been an almost total breakdown of public services.

I wish that I could say that these kinds of conditions are only going to be limited to Venezuela.  But I cannot say that.  Great suffering is going to eventually spread all over the world, and that is going to include our own nation.

I hope that you are using this short period of relative stability wisely, because it will be gone way too soon.

Business Debt Delinquencies Are Now Higher Than When Lehman Brothers Collapsed In 2008

Insolvent - Public DomainYou are about to see more very clear evidence that a new economic crisis has already begun.  During economic recoveries, business debt delinquencies generally fall, and during times of economic recession business debt delinquencies generally rise.  In fact, you will see below that business debt delinquencies shot up dramatically just prior to the last two recessions, and the exact same thing is happening again right now.  In 2008, business debt delinquencies increased at a very frightening pace just before Lehman Brothers collapsed, and this was a very clear sign that big trouble was ahead.  Unfortunately for us, in 2016 business debt delinquencies have already shot up above the level they were sitting at just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and every time debt delinquencies have ever gotten this high the U.S. economy has always fallen into recession.

In article after article, I have shown that key indicators for the U.S. economy started falling in either late 2014 or at some point during 2015.  Well, business debt delinquencies are another example of this phenomenon.  According to Wolf Richter, business debt delinquencies have shot up an astounding 137 percent since the fourth quarter of 2014…

Delinquencies of commercial and industrial loans at all banks, after hitting a low point in Q4 2014 of $11.7 billion, have begun to balloon (they’re delinquent when they’re 30 days or more past due). Initially, this was due to the oil & gas fiasco, but increasingly it’s due to trouble in many other sectors, including retail.

Between Q4 2014 and Q1 2016, delinquencies spiked 137% to $27.8 billion.

And we never see this kind of rise unless the U.S. economy is heading into a recession.  Here is more from Wolf Richter

Note how, in this chart by the Board of Governors of the Fed, delinquencies of C&I loans start rising before recessions (shaded areas). I added the red marks to point out where we stand in relationship to the Lehman moment:

Delinquencies-commercial-industrial-loans-2016-q1

Business loan delinquencies are a leading indicator of big economic trouble.

To me, this couldn’t be any clearer.

Just like the U.S. government and just like U.S. consumers, U.S. businesses are absolutely drowning in debt.

In fact, a report that was just released found that debt at U.S. companies has been growing at a pace that is 50 times faster than the rate that cash has been growing.

Just imagine what it would mean for your family if your debt was growing 50 times faster than your bank account.  Needless to say, this is an extremely troubling development

Well, American companies may just have a mountain’s worth of problems, according to a new report from Andrew Chang and David Tesher of S&P Global Ratings.

“At the same time, the imbalance between cash and debt outstanding we reported on last year has gotten even worse: Debt outstanding increased 50x that of cash in 2015,” wrote Chang and Tesher.

“Total debt rose by roughly $850 billion to $6.6 trillion last year, dwarfing the 1% cash growth ($17 billion).”

And the really bad news is that banks all across the country are starting to tighten credit to businesses.

In other words, they are beginning to become much more reluctant to loan money to businesses because debts are going bad at such an alarming rate.

When the flow of credit to the business community starts to slow down, it is inevitable that the overall economy slows down as well.  It is just basic economics.  So the deterioration of the U.S. economy that we have witnessed so far is just the beginning of a process that is going to take quite a while to play out.

And let us not forget that most of the rest of the world is already is much worse shape than we are.  Most global financial markets are officially in bear market territory right now, and some nations are already experiencing full-blown economic depression.

Now that the early chapters of the “next crisis” are here, most American families find themselves ill-equipped to deal with another major downturn.  In fact, USA Today is reporting that approximately two-thirds of the country is currently living paycheck to paycheck…

Two-thirds of Americans would have difficulty coming up with the money to cover a $1,000 emergency, according to an exclusive poll, a signal that despite years after the Great Recession, Americans’ finances remain precarious as ever.

These difficulties span all incomes, according to the poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Three-quarters of people in households making less than $50,000 a year and two-thirds of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill.

What are these people going to do when they lose their jobs or their businesses go under?

If you have any doubt that the U.S. economy is already in recession mode, just look at this chart over and over.

For months, I have been warning that the same patterns that immediately preceded previous recessions were happening once again, and this rise in debt delinquencies is another striking example of this phenomenon.

This stuff isn’t complicated.  Anyone that is willing to be honest with themselves should be able to see it.  As a society, we have been making very, very bad decisions for a very, very long period of time, and what we are watching unfold right now are the inevitable consequences of those decisions.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

Rail Traffic Depression: 292 Union Pacific Engines Are Sitting In The Arizona Desert Doing Nothing

Union Pacific Engines - Google EarthWe continue to get more evidence that the U.S. economy has entered a major downturn.  Just last week, I wrote about how U.S. GDP growth numbers have been declining for three quarters in a row, and previously I wrote about how corporate defaults have surged to their highest level since the last financial crisis.  Well, now we are getting some very depressing numbers from the rail industry.  As you will see below, U.S. rail traffic was down more than 11 percent from a year ago in April.  That is an absolutely catastrophic number, and the U.S. rail industry is feeling an enormous amount of pain right now.  This also tells us that “the real economy” is really slowing down, because less stuff is being shipped by rail all over the nation.

One of the economic commentators that I have really come to respect is Wolf Richter of WolfStreet.com.  He has a really sharp eye for what is really going on in the economy and in the financial world, and I find myself quoting him more and more as time goes by.  If you have not checked out his site yet, I very much encourage you to do so.

On Wednesday, he posted a very alarming article about what is happening to our rail industry.  The kinds of numbers that we have been seeing recently are the kinds of numbers that we would expect if an economic depression was starting.  The following is an excerpt from that article

Total US rail traffic in April plunged 11.8% from a year ago, the Association of American Railroads reported today. Carloads of bulk commodities such as coal, oil, grains, and chemicals plummeted 16.1% to 944,339 units.

The coal industry is in a horrible condition and cannot compete with US natural gas at current prices. Coal-fired power plants are being retired. Demand for steam coal is plunging. Major US coal miners – even the largest one – are now bankrupt. So in April, carloads of coal plummeted 40% from the already beaten-down levels a year ago.

Because rail traffic is down so dramatically, many operators have large numbers of engines that are just sitting around collecting dust.  In his article, Wolf Richter shared photographs from Google Earth that show some of the 292 Union Pacific engines that are sitting in the middle of the Arizona desert doing absolutely nothing.  The following is one of those photographs…

Union Pacific Engines - Google Earth

As Wolf Richter pointed out, it costs a lot of money for these engines to just sit there doing nothing…

These engines are expensive pieces of equipment. When they just sit there, not pulling trains, they become “overcapacity,” and they get very expensive. Then there are engineers and other personnel who suddenly become unproductive. Some of them have already been laid off or are getting laid off.

All over the world, similar numbers are coming in.  For example, the Baltic Dry Index fell 30 more points on Wednesday after falling 21 on Tuesday.  Global trade is really, really slowing down during the early portion of 2016.  What this means on a practical level is that a lot less stuff is being bought, sold and shipped around the planet.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for authorities to deny that a new global recession has begun, and at this moment we are only in the very early chapters of this new crisis.

Another thing that I watch very closely is the velocity of money.  When an economy is healthy, people feel pretty good about things and money tends to circulate fairly rapidly.  For example, I may buy something from you, then you may buy something from someone else, etc.

But when times get tough, people tend to hold on to their money more tightly, and that is why the velocity of money goes down when recessions hit.  In the chart below, the shaded areas represent recessions, and you can see that the velocity of money has declined during every single recession in the post-World War II era…

M2 Velocity Of Money

During the last recession, the velocity of money declined precipitously, and that makes perfect sense.  But then a funny thing happened.  There was a slight bump up once the recession was over, but then it turned down again and it has kept going down ever since.

In fact, the velocity of money has now dropped to an all-time low.  The velocity of M2 just recently dipped below 1.5 for the first time ever.

This is not a sign of an “economic recovery”.  What this tells us is that our economy is very, very sick.

And we can see evidence of this sickness all around us.  For instance, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that homelessness in Los Angeles increased by 11 percent last year, and this marked the fourth year in a row that homelessness in the city has increased…

Homelessness rose 11% in the city of Los Angeles and 5.7% in the county last year despite an intensive federal push that slashed the county ranks of homeless veterans by nearly a third, according to a report released Wednesday.

The increase marks the fourth consecutive year of rising homelessness in L.A., as local officials struggle to identify funding for billion-dollar plans they approved to solve the nation’s most intractable homeless problem.

Let us also not forget that about half the country is basically flat broke at this point.

Just recently, the Federal Reserve found that 47 percent of all Americans could not pay an unexpected $400 emergency room bill without selling something or borrowing the money from somewhere.

With numbers such as these being reported, how in the world can anyone possibly claim that the U.S. economy is in good shape?

It boggles the mind, and yet there are people out there that would actually have you believe that everything is just fine.

The current occupant of the White House is one of them.

With each passing month, the real economy is getting even worse.  We may not have slipped into a full-blown economic depression just yet, but it is coming.

For now, let us be thankful for whatever remains of our debt-fueled prosperity, because we don’t deserve the massively inflated standard of living that we have been enjoying.

We have been consuming far more than we produce for decades, but it won’t last for much longer.  And when those days are gone for good, we will mourn them bitterly.

The U.S. Economy Officially Joins The Global Economic Slowdown – 1st Quarter GDP Comes In At 0.5%

Slow Down - Public DomainEven the government is admitting that the U.S. economy is slowing down.  On Thursday, we learned that U.S. GDP grew at just a 0.5 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2016.  This was lower than analysts were anticipating, and it marks the third time in a row that the GDP number has declined compared to the previous quarter.  In other words, GDP growth has been declining for close to a year now, and this lines up perfectly with what I have been saying about how the second half of last year was a turning point that plunged us into the early chapters of a brand new economic crisis.  And as you will see below, the official GDP number is highly manipulated, and the way that it is calculated has been changed numerous times over the years.  So the bad number that is being reported by the government is actually the best case scenario.

Of course many of the “experts” being quoted by the mainstream media are saying that this is just a temporary blip and that good times for the U.S. economy are right around the corner.  For instance, check out this quote from Reuters

“The economy essentially stalled in the first quarter, but that doesn’t mean it is faltering,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. “Some of the restraints to growth are dissipating. Growth is likely to accelerate going forward.”

We have been told this same story for years, but the “acceleration” has never materialized.  In fact, Barack Obama is poised to become the only president in U.S. history to never have a single year when the economy grew by more than 3 percent during his presidency.

That is a statistic that is hard to believe, but it is true.

In addition, Louis Woodhill has pointed out that the average rate of U.S. economic growth during the Obama years will be the fourth worst in recorded history…

Assuming 2.67% RGDP growth for 2016, Obama will leave office having produced an average of 1.55% growth. This would place his presidency fourth from the bottom of the list of 39*, above only those of Herbert Hoover (-5.65%), Andrew Johnson (-0.70%) and Theodore Roosevelt (1.41%)

So does anyone out there still believe that there has been an “Obama recovery”?

We also need to add another layer to our analysis.  By now, everyone should realize that the official GDP number is highly manipulated, and the way that GDP is calculated has been changed many, many times over the years.

For example, here is Peter Schiff commenting on changes that were made in 2013

The latest example of this was revealed earlier this week when the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced new methods of calculating Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that will immediately make the economy “bigger’ than it used to be. The changes focus heavily on how money spent on research and development (R&D) and the production of “intangible” assets like movies, music, and television programs will be accounted for. Declaring such expenditures to be “investments” will immediately increase U.S. GDP by about three percent. Such an upgrade would immediately increase the theoretic size of the U.S economy and may well lead to the perception of faster growth. In reality these smoke and mirror alterations are no different from changes made to the inflation and unemployment yardsticks that for years have convinced Americans that the economy is better than it actually is.

And the following originally comes from a Bloomberg article which discussed changes that were made in 2015

The way some parts of U.S. gross domestic product are calculated are about to change in the wake of the debate over persistently depressed first-quarter growth.

In a blog post published Friday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis listed a series of alterations it will make in seasonally adjusting data used to calculate economic growth. The changes will be implemented with the release of the initial second-quarter GDP estimate on July 30, the BEA said.

One of the changes that was made last year was intended to artificially boost GDP growth numbers for the first quarter of each year.

So without that artificial boost, what would the real number for the first quarter of 2016 look like?

John Williams of shadowstats.com tracks what the official government numbers would be if honest numbers were actually being used, and according to him U.S. GDP growth has been continuously negative since 2005.

But we certainly can’t have the press report those sorts of things.  If that were the case, then everyone would be talking about the “economic depression” that never seems to end.

Unfortunately, the truth is that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and we can see evidence of this all around us.  For example, on Thursday we also learned that the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen once again, and it is now hovering just 0.1 percent above the lowest level ever recorded in American history…

After gains in the second half of 2015, the homeownership rate fell to just 63.6 percent, seasonally adjusted, in the first quarter of this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Homeownership hit a high of 69.4 percent in 2004, during one of the biggest housing booms in history. That was also when mortgage lending was arguably at its loosest level in history. The homeownership rate is now just one-tenth of 1 basis point higher than its all-time low in the second quarter of 2015.

For many more numbers that show that the U.S. economy has continued to decline, please see the following articles that I authored earlier this month…

#1 “Economy In Decline: Apple Reports Massive Revenue Decline As iPhone Sales Plummet Dramatically

#2 “In 1 Out Of Every 5 American Families, Nobody Has A Job

#3 “Stories Of Despair From The Forgotten People That The U.S. Economy Has Left Behind

#4 “47 Percent Of Americans Cannot Even Come Up With $400 To Cover An Emergency Room Visit

#5 “Corporations Are Defaulting On Their Debts Like It’s 2008 All Over Again

Now that U.S. GDP growth has been steadily dropping for three quarters in a row, hopefully people will wake up and begin to realize what is happening.

We are entering very hard times, so now is not the time to go out and buy fancy new toys or to go into lots of debt.

Rather, this is a time to tighten our belts, batten down the hatches and prepare for rough seas ahead.

Sadly, most people continue to have blind faith that our politicians and the central bankers will be able to perform some kind of miracle to save us from what is coming.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

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