Hard Working Americans Sure Do See The Economy A Lot Differently Than The “Experts” Do

Right now the entire nation is buzzing about the very first debates for Democratic presidential contenders in 2019, and much of the focus of those debates will be on the economy.  A total of 20 candidates will participate in those debates, and the vast majority of them don’t have a prayer of actually winning the nomination.  Of course all of them will have “plans” for “fixing” the economy, but the truth is that most of those plans really aren’t that radically different from what has been tried in the past.  No matter who has been in the White House, our insatiable appetite for debt has allowed us to enjoy a tremendously bloated standard of living that was far beyond what we actually deserved.  We have been consuming far more wealth than we have been producing for so long that most Americans have come to accept this state of affairs as “normal”.  And under no circumstance will Americans elect any presidential candidate that would suggest that we should be willing to accept a lower standard of living and quit going into so much debt.  Everyone wants to hear that we will be able to have an even higher standard of living in the future, and of course that is what a lot of our politicians eagerly tell them.

But it isn’t true.

Sadly, the reality of the matter is that we are at the very end of the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and the way we live is about to dramatically change no matter who we send to Washington.

As I discussed yesterday, the evidence that the U.S. economy has already entered a significant downturn continues to grow.  All of the economic numbers that we have been getting lately have been bad, and yet so many of the “experts” continue to claim that the U.S. economy is in great shape.

In fact, a survey that was just released had some rather starting results.  100 percent of the “experts” that were surveyed rated the performance of the U.S. economy as either “excellent” or “good”, but average hard working Americans were a lot more evenly split

A new survey from financial information website Bankrate.com found that everyday Americans have a less favorable view of the economy than experts do. All the experts rated the economy as being “excellent” or “good,” compared to just 59 percent of others. And 39 percent of everyday Americans said the economy was “not so good” or “poor.”

Bankrate surveyed around 1,000 people and nine economic experts for the study.

The survey also included a question about when the next recession would begin.  Approximately 40 percent of average hard working Americans felt that a recession had either already begun or would begin very soon, but none of the “experts” felt that way

Everyday Americans also said they expect a recession to hit sooner than the experts predict. A fifth of Americans polled said they believe the recession has already begun, and 21 percent said they expected it to begin within six months or a year. However, all the experts said they don’t expect a recession to begin for either one to two years or more than two years.

Perhaps we should stop calling them “experts”, because they appear to be completely and utterly clueless.

And we had better hope that the economy can hold up, because a different survey has found that 71 percent of all Americans say that they “are unprepared for another financial crisis”…

Meanwhile, 43% of Americans say they feel financially insecure and 71% are unprepared for another financial crisis, such as going bankrupt or losing their home, a survey of 24,070 adults released this week by market researcher YouGov found. Some 55% of those who feel unprepared say they’re not confident that they will be able to afford retirement; they’re more likely than those who feel financially secure to say the government should make sure everyone has health insurance.

Today, 59 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and U.S. consumer debt just soared to another brand new record high.  People are partying when they should be preparing, and this new economic downturn is going to catch most of us completely off guard.

And day after day we continue to get more numbers that are telling us that the economic outlook is very bleak.  For example, it is now being projected that U.S. auto sales will drop substantially over the next two years

The U.S. auto market hit a record for new cars, with 17.5 million in sales, in 2015. Sales the following year were flat then dipped to 17.2 million in 2017 and rebounded in 2018, rising to 17.3 million. But the first half of this year has plunged into negative territory. Edmunds anticipates sales for all of 2019 will drop to 16.9 million. That’s the same estimate from AlixPartners, which is forecasting a further dip to 16.3 million in 2020 and just 15.1 million in 2021.

Now we are in election season, and all sorts of different candidates will be touted as the one “that can turn the economy around” and restore “the promise of America’s future”.

Every election cycle they spout the same nonsense, and it is amazing that anyone still falls for it anymore.

Right now, America is on a highly self-destructive path that only leads to economic oblivion.  We are 22 trillion dollars in debt, we have been adding more than a trillion dollars a year to the national debt for more than a decade, state and local governments are drowning in record levels of debt, corporate debt has more than doubled since the last financial crisis, U.S. consumers are almost 14 trillion dollars in debt, and the world as a whole is now 244 trillion dollars in debt.

If we keep doing the same things over and over again, we are going to keep getting the same results.

Under our current system, there is no way that this game is going to end well for any of us.  The only thing left to do is to extend the party for as long as possible, and that is precisely what our politicians have been doing for a long time.

But at some point “extend and pretend” simply won’t work anymore, and a day of reckoning for America will finally arrive.

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

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.

Destroying America: It Is Being Projected That The U.S. National Debt Will Hit 99 Trillion Dollars By 2048

Temporary prosperity that is created by exploding levels of debt is not actually prosperity at all.  At this moment, the U.S. government is 21.4 trillion dollars in debt, and we have been adding an average of more than a trillion dollars a year to that debt since 2009.  And if we stay on the path that we are currently on, the trajectory of our debt will soon accelerate dramatically.  In fact, as you will see below, the Congressional Budget Office is now projecting that the U.S. national debt will reach 99 trillion dollars by 2048 if nothing changes.  Congressional Budget Office projections always tend to be overly optimistic, and so the reality will probably be much worse than that.  Of course we will never actually see the day when our national debt reaches 99 trillion dollars.  Our government (and our entire society along with it) will collapse long before we ever get to that point.  In our endless greed, we are literally destroying America, and emergency action must be taken immediately if we are to survive.

Debt always makes things seem better in the short-term, and it is always destructive in the long-term.

When we go into debt as a nation, we are literally stealing from the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.  Through the first 11 months of this fiscal year, the official U.S. budget deficit was $895,000,000,000, which means that we continue to steal more than 100 million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day.

And it is important to remember that not all additions to the national debt are included in the official budget deficit.  One year ago, our national debt was sitting at 20.1 trillion dollars, and that means that we have added an astounding 1.3 trillion dollars to the debt over the past 12 months.

This is complete and utter insanity, and it must stop now.

Let me try to put this into perspective.  Not too long ago, Venezuela was once one of the wealthiest countries in South America.  These days, many Americans like to laugh at them, but we are on the exact same path that Venezuela has gone down.  Eventually, the day comes when there is not enough of someone else’s money to spend, and suffocating levels of debt make the option of printing giant mountains of money too tempting to resist.  At that point it is just a matter of time before the currency is destroyed and society devolves into chaos.

If current Congressional Budget Office projections area anywhere close to accurate, America’s date with destiny is rapidly approaching.  The following comes from CBS News

Under the new baseline incorporating recent changes in law, the national debt reaches $99 trillion in 2048 — equivalent to 152 percent of GDP.

And the CBO is also projecting that our yearly budget deficit will go from one trillion dollars today to 6 trillion dollars by 2048…

The federal budget deficit is expected to break through a trillion dollars in 2020 and never look back, reaching $2 trillion in 2032 and $6 trillion in 2048.

But like I said, we will never actually get there, because our society will collapse by then.

So we only have a limited amount of time to save America, and the clock is ticking.

At this point, the total amount of U.S. government debt held by the public has already surpassed all household debt

Debt held by the public will top $127,000 per household by the end of the year, according to JPMorgan. Personal debt per household will average about $126,000.

“This is an astonishing statistic,” said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds. “Americans have a lot of debt. I always feel nervous signing a mortgage or a car loan. I think, can I afford all this debt? Then you realize the government is busy borrowing even more money on your behalf.”

I wish that I could get more people to understand just how serious this is.

Do you know what the inflation rate will be in Venezuela this year?

The IMF is projecting that it will be more than a million percent.

Chaos is everywhere, crime is out of control and people are starving, and yet we refuse to learn from what has happened to them.

We just keep spending and spending, and we think that we have found the key to prosperity.

But what we have really found is an accelerated path to economic hell.

And it isn’t just the U.S. that is in deep trouble.  The entire globe has been on a massive debt binge, and it is only a matter of time before this gigantic debt bubble implodes.  The following comes from an excellent piece by Larry Elliott

The BIS says in its latest annual report that there are already material risks to financial stability. “In some respects, the risks mirror the unbalanced post-crisis recovery and its excessive reliance on monetary policy. Where financial vulnerabilities exist, they have been building up, in their usual gradual and persistent way. More generally, financial markets are overstretched … and we have seen a continuous rise in the global stock of debt, private plus public, in relation to GDP. This has extended a trend that goes back to well before the crisis and that has coincided with a long-term decline in interest rates.”

Behind the dry official language, the message is clear. A recovery that is based around high and rising levels of debt is really no recovery at all. The world economy is, in all material respects, the same as it was in the run-up to the 2008 crisis. The necessary reforms to a flawed model have not taken place, which is why the BIS warning should not be ignored.

On a personal level, have you ever gotten into debt trouble?

At first, it was a lot of fun enjoying all of the new things that all of that debt bought, but the pain afterwards greatly outweighed the initial temporary prosperity.

The same principle is going to also apply on a global scale.  The U.S. government is now more than 20 trillion dollars in debt, and the entire globe is now more than 250 trillion dollars in debt, and a day of reckoning is coming.  The following comes from David Stockman

And it’s that $20 trillion, built up over the last two decades, that has basically distorted everything – falsified prices, repressed interest rates, caused an explosion of debt. Twenty years ago there was $40 trillion of debt in the world today there is $250 trillion worth of debt in the world. The leverage of the world has gone from 1.3 times which is stable…to 3.3 times, which basically means the world has created a huge temporary prosperity by burying itself in debt.

It would take an unprecedented effort to turn things around, but right now hardly anyone seems concerned about bringing all of this debt under control.

So we continue to roll on toward our date with financial disaster, and most people are completely oblivious to what is about to happen to us.

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 11th Hour: 8 Examples Of Mainstream Media Sources Warning Us Of Imminent Economic Disaster

Are we on the verge of another great financial crisis, a devastating recession and a horrific implosion of the global debt bubble?  On my website I have been relentlessly warning my readers about the inevitable consequences of our very foolish actions, but now the mainstream media is beginning to sound just like The Economic Collapse Blog.  The coming crisis is so close now that a lot of them are starting to see it, and of course economic disaster is already a reality for much of the rest of the planet.  For years, the mainstream media told us that things would get better, and in a lot of ways we did see some improvement.  But now the tone of the mainstream media has become quite ominous, and that is definitely not a positive sign.  The following are 8 examples of mainstream media sources warning us of imminent economic disaster…

#1 Forbes: “Disaster Is Inevitable When America’s Stock Market Bubble Bursts”

As shown in this report, the U.S. stock market is currently trading at extremely precarious levels and it won’t take much to topple the whole house of cards. Once again, the Federal Reserve, which was responsible for creating the disastrous Dot-com bubble and housing bubble, has inflated yet another extremely dangerous bubble in its attempt to force the economy to grow after the Great Recession. History has proven time and time again that market meddling by central banks leads to massive market distortions and eventual crises. As a society, we have not learned the lessons that we were supposed to learn from 1999 and 2008, therefore we are doomed to repeat them.

The purpose of this report is to warn society of the path that we are on and the risks that we are facing.

#2 CNBC: “Tech stock sell-off could be just beginning if trade war with China worsens”

Congressional scrutiny of social media companies and fears of new regulation pummeled their stocks, but other tech names could also soon be vulnerable to a new round of selling pressure if President Donald Trump goes through with new tariffs on Chinese goods.

#3 Bloomberg: “Emerging-market rout is longest since 2008 as confidence cracks”

For stocks, it’s 222 days. For currencies, 155 days. For local government bonds, 240 days.

This year’s rout in emerging markets has lasted so long that it’s taken even the most ardent bears by surprise. Not one of the seven biggest selloffs since the financial crisis — including the so-called taper tantrum — inflicted such pain for so long on the developing world.

#4 CNN: “Emerging Markets Look Sick. Will They Infect Wall Street?”

Chinese stocks are is in a bear market. Turkey’s currency has collapsed. South Africa has stumbled into a recession. Not even an IMF bailout has stemmed the bleeding in Argentina.

The storm rocking emerging markets has its origins in Washington. Vulnerable currencies plunged as the US Federal Reserve steadily raised interest rates. And President Donald Trump’s trade crackdown added gasoline to the fire.

The trouble could spread, infecting other emerging markets or even Wall Street.

#5 The Motley Fool: “6 signs the next recession might be closer than we realize”

To be perfectly clear, trying to predict when recessions will occur is pure guesswork. Top market analysts have called for pullbacks in the market, unsuccessfully, in pretty much every year since the Great Recession ended. But the economic cycle doesn’t lie: recessions are inevitable. And in my estimation, we’re probably closer to the next recession than you realize.

How can I be so certain? Well, I can’t. Remember, I just noted there’s virtually no certainty when it comes to predicting when recessions will occur. There are, however, six warning signs that suggest a recession could be, in relative terms, around the corner.

#6 Forbes: “U.S. Household Wealth Is Experiencing An Unsustainable Bubble”

Since the dark days of the Great Recession in 2009, America has experienced one of the most powerful household wealth booms in its history. Household wealth has ballooned by approximately $46 trillion or 83% to an all-time high of $100.8 trillion. While most people welcome and applaud a wealth boom like this, my research shows that it is actually another dangerous bubble that is similar to the U.S. housing bubble of the mid-2000s. In this piece, I will explain why America’s wealth boom is artificial and heading for a devastating bust.

#7 Savannah Now: “Global debt soars, along with fears of crisis ahead”

“We were supposed to correct a debt bubble,” said David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, a wealth-management firm. “What we did instead was create more debt.”

#8 CNBC: “The emerging market crisis is back. And this time it’s serious”

But markets are feeling a sense of deja vu. Blame it on a stronger dollar, escalating tensions since President Donald Trump came to power, worries over a full-fledged trade war with China or rising interest rates in the U.S., this time around the crisis seems to have entered a new phase.

The damage is far more widespread. The crisis has engulfed countries across the globe — from economies in South America, to Turkey, South Africa and some of the bigger economies in Asia, such as India and China. A number of these countries are seeing their currency fall to record levels, high inflation and unemployment, and in some cases, escalating tensions with the United States.

I don’t think that we have seen such ominous declarations from the mainstream media since the last global financial crisis in 2008.

And the mainstream media is not alone.  Yesterday, I discussed the fact that tech executives on the west coast are setting up luxury survival bunkers in New Zealand in order to prepare for what is ahead.

They all know what is coming, and they also know that it is approaching very rapidly.

This chapter in American history is not going to end well.  On some level, all of us understand this.  Storm clouds have been building on the horizon for quite some time and the warning signs are all around us.

Our day of reckoning may have been delayed, but it was not canceled.  America has a date with destiny, and it is going to be exceedingly painful.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  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.

Major Currencies All Over The World Are In “Complete Meltdown” As The $63 Trillion EM Debt Bubble Implodes

The wait for the next global financial crisis is over.  Major currencies all over the planet are in a “death spiral”, many global stock markets are crashing, and economic activity is beginning to decline at a stunning rate in quite a few nations.  Over the past 16 years, the emerging market debt bubble has grown from 9 trillion dollars to 63 trillion dollars.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Now that emerging market debt bubble is imploding, and as a result emerging market currencies all over the globe are in “complete meltdown”.  In fact, at least 20 different currencies have fallen by double-digit percentages against the U.S. dollar so far in 2018, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.

You may be tempted to think that this must be a good thing for the United States since the value of the U.S. dollar has been rising, but it is not.

During the “boom years”, trillions of dollars were borrowed by emerging market economies, and a high percentage of those loans were denominated in U.S. dollars.  Now that their currencies are crashing, it is going to take much more local currency to service those U.S.-denominated debts, and a whole lot of them are going to start going bad.

That means that many financial institutions here in the United States and over in Europe are going to end up holding enormous piles of bad debt, and the losses could potentially be astronomical.

The dominoes are starting to fall, and even the mainstream media is admitting that what we are facing is really bad.  For example, the following comes from a CNBC article entitled “The emerging market crisis is back. And this time it’s serious”

The crisis has engulfed countries across the globe — from economies in South America, to Turkey, South Africa and some of the bigger economies in Asia, such as India and China. A number of these countries are seeing their currency fall to record levels, high inflation and unemployment, and in some cases, escalating tensions with the United States.

When I say that the world has been on the greatest debt binge in human history since the last financial crisis, I am not exaggerating one bit.

The emerging market debt bubble is now three times larger than it was in 2007, and it is seven times larger than it was in 2002.  Here is more from CNBC

Emerging markets are also heavily plagued by debt and a stronger dollar makes it tougher for them to pay this debt. The latest data from the Institute of International Finance shows that debt in emerging markets including China increased from $9 trillion in 2002 to $21 trillion in 2007 and finally to $63 trillion in 2017.

Of course this bubble was going to burst.

Anyone with half a brain should have been able to see that.

Now we have a full-blown crisis on our hands, and nobody seems to have any idea how to solve it.

As Charles Hugh Smith has observed, emerging market currencies all over the globe “are in complete meltdown”…

As the chart below illustrates, a great many currencies around the world are in complete meltdown. This is not normal. Nations that over-borrow, over-spend and print too much of their currency to generate an illusion of solvency eventually experience a currency crisis as investors and traders lose faith in the currency as a store of value, i.e. the faith that it will have the same (or more) purchasing power in a month that it has today.

This is the chart that Charles Hugh Smith referenced in that quote…

I am not sure that I even have the words to describe financial carnage of that magnitude.

Since the financial markets are not crashing here in the United States yet, most Americans do not really seem to be concerned about this crisis at this point.  But that is a mistake.  This meltdown has started with the weaker nations, but ultimately what we are witnessing is an “unraveling” of the entire global financial system

The fact that so many currencies are melting down at the same time is telling us the global financial system is unraveling, and unraveling fast. This is a symptom of a fatal disease. Currencies reflect all sorts of financial information; they’re akin to taking an economy’s pulse: trade balances, debt levels, interest rates, central bank policies, fiscal policies, and so on.

The global financial system is inter-connected, but this is not a viable excuse for the meltdown. The general explanation floating around is that currency weakness is like the flu: one currency gets it, and then it spreads to other weak currencies.

This diagnosis is misleading. What’s actually happening is the unprecedented global bubble of debt and assets of the past decade is popping, and it’s laying waste to the most indebted, over-leveraged and mismanaged nations first, either via stock market declines or meltdowns in currencies.

Earlier today, we learned that the South African economy has officially plunged into a new recession.  This crisis is spreading very quickly, and the United States won’t be immune from what is happening.  This is a point that Charles Hugh Smith made very well as he wrapped up his most recent article

The illusion that the U.S. is immune to the unraveling of debt and asset valuations won’t last. When the defaults start piling up, so will the losses, and when asset bubbles pop, incomes and spending decline. Although few seem to notice, almost half the profits of the S&P 500 corporations are earned overseas.

The belief that U.S. markets are somehow disconnected from global markets and immune to the repricing of risk, debt, assets and currencies is magical thinking.

I am entirely convinced that we have reached a major turning point.

For several years it has seemed like things have been getting “better”, but it was largely an illusion.  Our ridiculously high standard of living was financed by the greatest debt binge in the history of the world, and it was inevitable that a day of reckoning would arrive.

Now that day of reckoning is knocking on the door, and our society is completely and utterly unprepared for what is going to happen next.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  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.

U.S. Auto Sales Plunge Dramatically As The Consumer Debt Bubble Continues To Collapse

One sector of the economy that is acting as if we were already in the middle of a horrible recession is the auto industry.  We just got sales figures for the month of April, and every single major U.S. auto manufacturer missed their sales projections.  And compared to one year ago, sales were way down across the entire industry.  When you add this latest news to all of the other signals that the U.S. economy is slowly down substantially, a very disturbing picture begins to emerge.  Either the U.S. economy is steamrolling toward a major slowdown, or this is one heck of a head fake.

One analyst that has been waiting for auto sales to start declining is Graham Summers.  According to Summers, the boom in auto sales that we witnessed in previous years was largely fueled by subprime lending, and now that subprime auto loan bubble is starting to burst

Auto-loan generation has gone absolutely vertical since 2009, rising an incredible 56% in seven years. Even more incredibly roughly 1/3 of this ~$450 billion in new loans are subprime AKA garbage.

In the simplest of terms, this is Subprime 2.0… the tip of the $199 TRILLION debt iceberg, just as subprime mortgages were for the Housing Bubble.

I’ve been watching this industry for months now, waiting for the signal that it’s ready to explode.

That signal just hit.

The signal that Summers is referring to is a persistent decline in U.S. auto sales.  It would be easy to dismiss one bad month, but U.S. auto sales have been falling for a number of months now, and the sales figures for April were absolutely dismal.  Just check out how much sales declined in April compared to one year ago for the biggest auto manufacturers

General Motors: -5.8 percent

Ford: -7.1 percent

Fiat Chrysler: -7.0 percent

Toyota: -4.4 percent

Honda: -7.0 percent

For auto manufacturers, those are truly frightening numbers, and nobody is really projecting that they will get better any time soon.

At the same time, unsold vehicles continue to pile up on dealer lots at a staggering pace

Meanwhile, inventory days are still trending higher as OEMs continue to push product on to dealer lots even though sale through to end customers has seemingly stalled.

GM, one of the few OEMs to actually disclose dealer inventories in monthly sales releases, reported that April inventories increased to 100 days (935,758 vehicles) from 98 days at the end of March and just 71 days (681,402 vehicles) in April 2016.

So why is this happening?

Of course there are a lot of factors, but one of the main reasons for this crisis is the fact that U.S. consumers are already drowning in debt and are simply tapped out

Now, a new survey from Northwestern Mutual helps to shed some light on why Americans are completely incapable of saving money.

First, roughly 50% of Americans have debt balances, excluding mortgages mind you, of over $25,000, with the average person owing over $37,000, versus a median personal income of just over $30,000.

Therefore, it’s not difficult to believe, as Northwestern Mutual points out, that 45% of Americans spend up to half of their monthly take home pay on debt service alone.…which, again, excludes mortgage debt.

When you are already up to your eyeballs in debt, it is hard just to make payments on that debt.  So for many American families a new car is simply out of the question.

And it isn’t just the U.S. auto industry that is in trouble.  The credit card industry is also starting to show signs of distress

Synchrony Financial – GE’s spin-off that issues credit cards for Walmart and Amazon – disclosed on Friday that, despite assurances to the contrary just three months ago, net charge-off would rise to at least 5% this year. Its shares plunged 16% and are down 27% year-to-date.

Credit-card specialist Capital One disclosed in its Q1 earnings report last week that provisions for credit losses rose to $2 billion, with net charge-offs jumping 28% year-over-year to $1.5 billion.

If you didn’t understand all of that, what is essentially being said is that credit card companies are starting to have to set aside more money for bad credit card debts.

Previously I have reported that consumer bankruptcies and commercial bankruptcies are both rising at the fastest rate that we have seen since the last recession.  This trend is starting to spook lenders, and so many of them are starting to pull back on various forms of lending.  For example, Bloomberg is reporting that lending by regional U.S. banks was down significantly during the first quarter of 2017…

Total loans at the 15 largest U.S. regional banks declined by about $10 billion to $1.73 trillion in the first quarter, compared with the previous three-month period, the first such drop in four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. All but two of those banks missed analysts’ estimates for total loans, as a slump in commercial and industrial lending sapped growth.

This is how a credit crunch begins.  When the flow of credit starts restricting, that slows down economic activity, and in turn that usually results in even more credit defaults.  Of course that just causes lending to get even tighter, and pretty soon you have a spiral that is hard to stop.

Just about everywhere you look, there are early warning signs of a new economic downturn.  And just like we saw prior to the great crash of 2008, those that are wise are getting prepared for what is coming ahead of time.  Unfortunately, most people usually end up getting blindsided by economic downturns because they believe the mainstream media when they insist that everything is going to be just fine.

Thankfully, there are at least a few people that are telling the truth, and one of them is Marc Faber.  Just a few days ago, he told CNBC that the U.S. economy is “terminally ill”…

“Dr. Doom” Marc Faber says the U.S. economy is “terminally ill,” and the current outlook doesn’t seem to be improving.

“The U.S. has run a deficit for [so long],” he said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Futures Now.” “The conditions today are more fragile than they were ever before, and unless somebody comes and introduces minus 5 percent interest rates, I think the economy is really not in such a great shape.”

“I’m actually amazed that people are so optimistic,” the editor and publisher of the “Gloom, Boom & Doom Report” added.

I have to agree with Faber on this point.

We are more primed for a major economic downturn and a horrifying stock market crash than we were back in 2008.

It isn’t going to take much to push us over the edge, and with our world becoming more unstable with each passing month, it appears that our day of reckoning is likely to come sooner rather than later.

This Is One Of The Big Reasons Why So Many Families Are Feeling Extreme Financial Stress

Inflation Blackboard - Public DomainWhen the cost of living rises faster than paychecks do year after year, eventually that becomes a very big problem.  For quite some time I have been writing about the shrinking middle class, and one of the biggest culprits is inflation.  Every month, tens of millions of American families struggle to pay the bills, and most of them don’t even understand the economic forces that are putting so much pressure on them.  The United States never had a persistent, ongoing problem with inflation until the debt-based Federal Reserve system was introduced in 1913.  Since that time, we have had non-stop inflation and the U.S. dollar has lost more than 98 percent of its value.  If our paychecks were increasing faster than inflation this wouldn’t be a problem, but in recent years this has definitely not been the case for most Americans.

And unfortunately inflation is starting to accelerate once again.  In fact, it is being reported that inflation rose at the fastest pace in four years in January…

The prices Americans pay for goods and services surged in January by the largest amount in four years, mostly reflecting a rebound in the cost of gasoline that’s taking a bigger chunk out of household incomes.

The consumer price index, or cost of living, rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in January, the government said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, our incomes have been incredibly stagnant.   In fact, we just learned that median household income did not go up at all during 2016.

This is one of the reasons why we consistently see families fall out of the middle class month after month.  Even if you keep the same job year after year, your standard of living is going to steadily go down unless your pay goes up.

The things that we all spend money on month after month just keep going up in price.  I am talking about food, housing, medical care and other essentials.  If there is one thing that we can always count on, it is the fact that things are going to cost more tomorrow than they do today.

Let’s talk about food for a moment.  Whenever I go to the grocery store, I am almost always shocked.  I still remember a time when I could get everything that I needed for an entire week for about 20 bucks, but these days you can’t even fill up one cart for 100 dollars.

That is because food prices have been rising aggressively for many years.  The following is a list that was posted on The Economic Policy Journal that shows how much some food and grocery items have increased over the past decade…

1. Tobacco and smoking products

-Price increase: 90.4%

2. Margarine

-Price increase: 63.6%

3. Uncooked ground beef

-Price increase: 46.3%

4. Shelf stable fish and seafood
-Price increase: 45.0%

5. Prescription drugs
-Price increase: 43.5%

6. Rice, pasta, cornmeal
-Price increase: 40.3%

7. Bread
-Price increase: 38.9%

8. Snacks
-Price increase: 38.4%

9. Miscellaneous poultry including turkey
-Price increase: 37.0%

10. Apples
-Price increase: 36.6%

11. Frankfurters
-Price increase: 35.8%

12. Canned vegetables
-Price increase: 35.3%

13. Salt and other seasonings and spices
-Price increase: 34.0%

14. Miscellaneous fats and oils including peanut butter
-Price increase: 34.0%

15. Miscellaneous processed fruits and vegetables including dried
-Price increase: 33.7%

16. Bacon and related products
-Price increase: 33.2%

17. Fresh whole chicken
-Price increase: 32.5%

18. Cakes, cupcakes, and cookies
-Price increase: 32.1%

19. Flour and prepared flour mixes
-Price increase: 32.1%

20. Canned fruits
-Price increase: 32.0%

And thanks to out of control government spending and reckless manipulation by the Federal Reserve, we have come to a time when inflation is starting to accelerate once again.

According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if honest numbers were being used the government would be telling us that inflation is rising at a 6 percent annual rate for the first time since 2011.

At the same time, evidence is mounting that U.S. consumers are simply tapped out.  Previously, I have explained that interest rates are going up, consumer bankruptcies are rising, and lending standards for consumers are really tightening up.

All of those are things we would expect to see if a new recession was starting.

And today we learned that the number of Americans refinancing their homes has fallen to the lowest level that we have seen since 2009

A slowdown in refinancing pulled down the total mortgage application volume last week as changes to certain government-loan programs made refinances less lucrative. Refinance volume now stands at its lowest level since June 2009.

If you will remember, we also saw a slowdown in mortgage refinancing just before the great financial crisis of 2008.

For mortgage applications overall, they are now down almost 31 percent from where they were a year ago…

Total mortgage application volume fell 3.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis last week from the previous week, and are nearly 31 percent lower than the same week a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

A 31 percent decline in a single year is catastrophic.

If this continues, it won’t be too long before everyone is talking about a new housing crash.

And we also learned this week that FHA mortgage delinquencies increased during the fourth quarter “for the first time since 2006”

Federal Housing Administration mortgage delinquencies jumped in the fourth quarter for the first time since 2006, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. The FHA insures low down-payment loans and is a favorite among first-time homebuyers.

The seasonally adjusted FHA delinquency rate increased to 9.02 percent in the fourth quarter from 8.3 percent in the third quarter, MBA data show.

So many things are happening right now that we have not seen happen in many years, but most people are choosing not to see the red flags that are popping up all around us.

None of our long-term economic problems have been fixed.  And even though Donald Trump won the election, the truth is that our economy is in the worst shape it has been since the last financial crisis.  I continue to encourage all of my readers to get prepared for very hard times, but just like back in 2007 we are experiencing a wave of tremendous optimism right now and most people think that the party can somehow continue indefinitely.

Whether Donald Trump won the election or not, the truth is that a major economic downturn was going to come anyway.  You see, Donald Trump is not some magician that can just wave a wand and somehow make the consequences of decades of very foolish decisions instantly disappear.

We have been on the biggest debt binge in human history, and there is going to be a great price to pay when this immense debt bubble finally bursts.

Unfortunately, most people are not going to acknowledge the truth until it is too late.

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