Those that were predicting that the U.S. economy would be flying high by now have been proven wrong. U.S. GDP grew at the worst rate in three years during the first quarter of 2017, and many are wondering if this is the beginning of a major economic slowdown. Of course when we are dealing with the official numbers that the federal government puts out, it is important to acknowledge that they are highly manipulated. There are many that have correctly pointed out to me that if the numbers were not being doctored that they would show that we are still in a recession. In fact, John Williams of shadowstats.com has shown that if honest numbers were being used that U.S. GDP growth would have been consistently negative going all the way back to 2005. So I definitely don’t have any argument with those that claim that we are actually in a recession right now. But even if we take the official numbers that the federal government puts out at face value, they are definitely very ugly…
Economic growth slowed in the first quarter to its slowest pace in three years as sluggish consumer spending and business stockpiling offset solid business investment. Many economists write off the weak performance as a byproduct of temporary blips and expect healthy growth in 2017.
The nation’s gross domestic product — the value of all goods and services produced in the USA — increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.7%, the Commerce Department said Friday, below the tepid 2.1% pace clocked both in the fourth quarter and as an average throughout the nearly 8-year-old recovery. Economists expected a 1% increase in output, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Even if you want to assume that it is a legitimate number, 0.7 percent economic growth is essentially stall speed, and this follows a year when the U.S. economy grew at a rate of just 1.6 percent.
Economists blamed the weather. It was too warm this time around, rather than too cold, which is the usual explanation for Q1 debacles.
And they blamed the IRS refund checks that had been delayed due to last year’s spectacular identity theft problem. Everyone blamed everything on these delayed refund checks, including the auto industry and the restaurant industry. But by mid-February, a veritable tsunami of checks went out, and by the end of February, the IRS was pretty much caught up. So March should have been awash in consumer spending. But no. So we’ll patiently wait for that miracle to happen in second quarter.
They always want us to think that “boom times” for the U.S. economy are right around the corner, but those “boom times” have never materialized since the end of the last financial crisis.
Instead, we have had year after year of economic malaise and stagnation, and it looks like 2017 is going to continue that trend. The following are 11 reasons why U.S. economic growth is the worst that it has been in 3 years…
#1 The weak economic growth in the first quarter was the continuation of a long-term trend. Barack Obama was the only president in history not to have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by at least 3 percent, and this is now the fourth time in the last six quarters when economic growth has been less than 2 percent on an annualized basis. So essentially this latest number signals that our long-term economic decline is continuing.
#2 Consumer spending drives the U.S. economy more than anything else, and at this point most U.S. consumers are tapped out. In fact, CBS News has reported that three-fourths of all U.S. consumers have to “scramble to cover their living costs” each month.
#3 The job market appears to be slowing. The U.S. economy only added about 98,000 jobs in March, and that was approximately half of what most analysts were expecting.
#4 The flow of credit appears to be slowing as well. In fact, this is the first time since the last recession when there has been no growth for commercial and industrial lending for at least six months.
#6 We are in the midst of the worst “retail apocalypse” in U.S. history. The number of retailers that has filed for bankruptcy has already surpassed the total for the entire year of 2016, and at the current rate we will smash the previous all-time record for store closings in a year by nearly 2,000.
#7 The auto industry is also experiencing a great deal of stress. This has been the worst year for U.S. automakers since the last recession, and seven out of the eight largest fell short of their sales projections in March.
#11 The student loan bubble is starting to burst. It is being reported that 27 percent of all student loans are already in default, and some analysts expect that number to go much higher.
And of course some areas of the country are being harder hit than others. The following comes from CNBC…
Four states have not yet fully recovered from the Great Recession. As of the third quarter of last year, the latest data available, the economies of Louisiana, Wyoming, Connecticut and Alaska were still smaller than when the recession ended in June 2009.
Other states that have recovered have seen their economic recoveries stall out. Those include Minnesota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota and West Virginia.
We should be thankful that we are not experiencing a full-blown economic meltdown just yet, but it is undeniable that our long-term economic decline continues to roll along.
And without a doubt the storm clouds are building on the horizon, and many believe that the next major economic downturn will begin in the not too distant future.
There is much debate about where the U.S. economy is ultimately heading, but what everybody should be able to agree on is that economic conditions are significantly worse this year than they were last year. It is being projected that U.S. economic growth for the first quarter will be close to zero, thousands of retail stores are closing, factory output is falling, and restaurants and automakers have both fallen on very hard times. As economic activity has slowed down, commercial and consumer bankruptcies are both rising at rates that we have not seen since the last financial crisis. Everywhere you look there are echoes of 2008, and yet most people still seem to be in denial about what is happening. The following are 11 facts that prove that the U.S. economy in 2017 is in far worse shape than it was in 2016…
#1 It is being projected that there will be more than 8,000 retail store closings in the United States in 2017, and that will far surpass the former peak of 6,163 store closings that we witnessed in 2008.
#2 The number of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy so far in 2017 has already surpassed the total for the entire year of 2016.
#3 So far in 2017, an astounding 49 million square feet of retail space has closed down in the United States. At this pace, approximately 147 million square feet will be shut down by the end of the year, and that would absolutely shatter the all-time record of 115 million square feet that was shut down in 2001.
#4 The Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now model is projecting that U.S. economic growth for the first quarter of 2017 will come in at just 0.5 percent. If that pace continues for the rest of the year, it will be the worst year for U.S. economic growth since the last recession.
Foot traffic at chain restaurants in March dropped 3.4% from a year ago. Menu prices couldn’t be increased enough to make up for it, and same-store sales fell 1.1%. The least bad region was the Western US, where sales inched up 1.2% year-over-year and traffic fell only 1.7%, according to TDn2K’s Restaurant Industry Snapshot. The worst was the NY-NJ Region, where sales plunged 4.6% and foot traffic 6.3%.
This comes after a dismal February, when foot traffic had dropped 5% year-over-year, and same-store sales 3.7%.
In America alone, bad debt held by companies could reach $4 trillion, “or almost a quarter of corporate assets considered,” according to the IMF. That debt “could undermine financial stability” if mishandled, the IMF says.
The percentage of “weak,” “vulnerable” or “challenged” debt held as assets by US firms has almost arrived at the same level it was right before the 2008 crisis.
We are seeing so many parallels to the last financial crisis, and many are hoping that our politicians in Washington can fix things before it is too late.
On Monday, the most critical week of Trump’s young presidency begins. The administration will continue working on tax reform and a replacement for Obamacare, but of even greater importance is the fact that if a spending agreement is not passed by Friday a government shutdown will begin at the end of the week…
By attempting three massive political undertakings in one week, investors will have a sense of whether or not Trump will be able to deliver on pro-growth policies that would be beneficial for markets.
If Trump can pull off the trifecta, it could restore faith that policy proposals like tax cuts and infrastructure spending are on the way. If not, look out.
Members of Congress are returning from their extended two week spring vacation, and now they will only have four working days to get something done.
And I don’t believe that they will be able to rush something through in just four days. The Republicans in Congress, the Democrats in Congress, and the Trump administration all want different things, and ironing out all of those differences is not going to be easy.
For example, the Trump administration is insisting on funding for a border wall, and the Democrats are saying no way. The following comes from the Washington Post…
President Trump and his top aides applied new pressure Sunday on lawmakers to include money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in a must-pass government funding bill, raising the possibility of a federal government shutdown this week.
In a pair of tweets, Trump attacked Democrats for opposing the wall and insisted that Mexico would pay for it “at a later date,” despite his repeated campaign promises not including that qualifier. And top administration officials appeared on Sunday morning news shows to press for wall funding, including White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who said Trump might refuse to sign a spending bill that does not include any.
And of course the border wall is just one of a whole host of controversial issues that are standing in the way of an agreement. Those that are suggesting that all of these issues will be resolved in less than 100 hours are being completely unrealistic. And even though the Trump administration is putting on a brave face, the truth is that quiet preparations for a government shutdown have already begun.
The stage is being set for the kind of nightmare crisis that I portrayed in The Beginning Of The End. The stock market bubble is showing signs of being ready to burst, and an extended government shutdown would be more than enough to push things over the edge.
Let us hope that this government shutdown is only for a limited period of time, because an extended shutdown could potentially be catastrophic. In the end, either the Trump administration or the Democrats are going to have to give in on issues such as funding for Obamacare, the border wall, Planned Parenthood, defense spending increases, etc.
It will be a test of the wills, and it will be absolutely fascinating to see who buckles under the pressure first.
If you really wanted to live like a millionaire, you could start doing it right now. All you have to do is to apply for as many credit cards as possible and then begin running up credit card balances like there is no tomorrow. At this point, I know what most of you are probably thinking. You are probably thinking that such a lifestyle would not last for long and that a day of reckoning would eventually come, and you would be exactly right. In fact, anyone that has ever had a tremendous amount of credit card debt knows how painful that day of reckoning can be. To mindlessly run up credit card debt is exceedingly reckless, but unfortunately that is precisely what we have been doing as a nation as a whole. We are a “buy now, pay later” society, and our national day of reckoning is approaching very, very quickly.
In the second quarter, total household debt increased by $35 billion to $12.3 trillion, according to the New York Fed’s latest quarterly report on household debt. That increase was driven by two categories: auto loans and credit cards.
We throw around words like “trillion” so often these days that they often start to lose their meaning. But the truth is that 12.3 trillion dollars is an astounding amount of money. It breaks down to about $38,557 for every man, woman and child in the entire country. So if you have a family of four, your share comes to a grand total of $154,231, and that doesn’t even include corporate debt, local government debt, state government debt or the gigantic debt of the federal government. That number is only for household debt, and there aren’t too many Americans that could cough up their share right at this moment.
Now, credit cards are returning among individuals with low credit or subprime credit scores below 660. Among people with credit scores between 620 and 660, the share that had a credit card rose to 58.8% in 2015 from a low of 54.3% in 2013. Among those with scores below 620, the number of people with a credit card increased to 50% from a low of 45.6% two years ago. Both figures for 2015 are the highest since 2008.
In America today, we are enjoying a standard of living that we do not deserve.
We consume far more wealth than we produce. The only way we are able to do that is by going into debt.
Debt takes future consumption and brings it into the present. In other words, we are damaging the future in order to make the present a little bit better. On an individual level, we may enjoy the big screen television we buy with a credit card today, but we are taking away our ability to spend money later. And on a national level, what our unprecedented debt binge is doing to future generations of Americans is beyond criminal.
Earlier this month I explained these things to a live studio audience down at Morningside, and you can view a video of that right here…
In this article I haven’t even talked about corporate debt yet. Instead of learning their lessons from the last financial crisis, big corporations have gone on the biggest debt spree of all time. If you can believe it, corporate debt has approximately doubled since the last financial crisis. In other words, since the last recession we have essentially matched the total amount of corporate debt that we accumulated from the beginning of the country up to 2009.
Unfortunately, a lot of that debt is now going bad.
At this point, even the mainstream media is acknowledging that we have a corporate debt “crisis”. The following comes from an article that was just put out by the Denver Post…
The number of companies that have defaulted so far this year has already passed the total for all of last year, which itself had the most since the financial crisis. Even among companies considered high-quality, or investment grade, credit-rating agencies say a record number are so stretched financially that they’re one bad quarter or so from being downgraded to “junk” status.
Companies whose debt is already deemed “junk” are in the worst shape in years. To pay back all they owe, they would have to set aside every dollar of their operating earnings over the next eight and a half years, more than twice as long as it would have taken during the 2008 crisis, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Are you starting to get the picture?
And I haven’t even started talking about our national debt yet. When Barack Obama entered the White House, we were 10.6 trillion dollars in debt. Today, we are 19.4 trillion dollars in debt. That means that we have added 8.8 trillion dollars to the national debt under Obama, which breaks down to an average of 1.1 trillion dollars of additional debt a year.
We have been taking more than 100 million dollars of future consumption and bringing it into the present every single hour of every single day during the Obama administration. That is why I am constantly referring to our “debt-fueled standard of living”. We do not deserve to live the way that we do, but since we are able to steal from our children and our grandchildren we are able to enjoy a standard of living that most people in the world can only dream about.
Of course we are literally destroying the future of America in the process, but very few people seem to care about that these days.
Without all of this debt, we would be in a very deep economic depression right now.
But even with all of this “stimulus”, we are still mired in the worst economic “recovery” since 1949. In fact, Barack Obama is actually on track to be the very first president in all of American history to not have one single year when U.S. GDP grew by 3 percent or better, and he has had two terms in which to try to get that accomplished. The percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job is way down from where it was just prior to the last recession, and in this video I explain why the employment numbers put out by the government are not nearly as good as the administration would have us believe…
If the American people would have been willing to sacrifice and make some very hard choices a long time ago, maybe we could have gotten a handle on all of this debt.
But instead we continue to rack up debt as if there is no tomorrow, and in the process we are literally destroying tomorrow.
Every dollar of debt that we accumulate now makes life worse for our children and our grandchildren.
Unfortunately, we are a bunch of debt pigs, and we just can’t help ourselves. We have come to believe that it is “normal” to go into so much debt, and as a society we continue to race toward economic oblivion.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. The price of oil was supposed to start going back up, and this would have brought much needed relief to economically-depressed areas of North America that are heavily dependent on the energy industry. Instead, the price of oil is crashing again, and that is really bad news for a U.S. economy that is already mired in the worst “recovery” since 1949. On Monday, U.S. oil was down almost four percent, and for a brief time it actually fell below 40 dollars a barrel. Overall, the price of oil has fallen a staggering 21 percent since June 8th. In less than two months, the “oil rally” that so many were pinning their hopes on has been totally wiped out, and if the price of oil continues to stay this low it is going to have very seriously implications for our economy moving forward.
One of the big reasons why the price of oil has been declining is because the OPEC nations continue to pump oil at very high levels. The following comes from CNBC…
Production in July by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries likely rose to its highest in recent history, a Reuters survey found on Friday, as Iraq pumped more and Nigeria squeezed out additional crude exports despite militant attacks on oil installations.
Top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia also kept output close to a record high, the survey found, as it met seasonally higher domestic demand and focused on maintaining market share instead of trimming supply to boost prices.
These countries don’t know if or when the price of oil will eventually rebound, but what they do know is that they desperately need cash in order to keep their sputtering economies going. Many of these nations are already experiencing significant economic downturns, and substantially reducing oil revenues at this time would definitely not help things.
Here in North America, oil production costs tend to be higher, and so when the price of oil crashes we tend to see companies shut down rigs. But when rigs get shut down, that means that good paying jobs are lost.
And even though there was hope that energy companies would add jobs as the price of oil started rebounding during the second quarter, it turned out that the job losses just kept on coming…
Energy companies continued to cut thousands of jobs during the second quarter, even though many chief executives are now voicing optimism that the oil market crash is ending and a rebound in drilling is afoot.
Although the heads of Halliburton Co. , Schlumberger Ltd. and other major firms forecast higher crude prices and a return to U.S. shale fields when discussing earnings this week, those companies and others disclosed another 15,000 industry layoffs.
Personally, I have quite a few members of my own extended family that live in areas that are heavily dependent on the energy industry, and three of them have lost their jobs so far this year.
And these are precisely the sort of good paying middle class jobs that we cannot afford to lose. In order to having a thriving middle class, you need lots of middle class jobs. Unfortunately, those kinds of jobs are going away, and the middle class in the United States is systematically dying.
If the price of oil keeps going lower, that will mean even more jobs losses for the energy industry, and that will be very bad news for the U.S. economy.
In addition, many of these energy companies are getting into very serious debt problems. Delinquency rates on corporate debt are already the highest that they have been since the last recession as firms struggle to pay their bills. Of course some of them have already gone belly up, and this has pushed default rates on corporate debt to the highest level since the last financial crisis.
At a price of 40 dollars a barrel, most oil companies in the United States are not profitable in the long-term. The longer the price of oil stays down in this neighborhood, the more energy companies we will see go bankrupt. At this point it is just a waiting game.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that Wall Street is very heavily exposed to the energy industry. Just as subprime mortgages brought down quite a few financial institutions back in 2008, so this time around it is inevitable that the oil crash will claim a fair number of victims as well.
As the global economy has slowed down, the demand for oil has decreased. And at this point, even the U.S. economy appears to be seriously slowing down. U.S. GDP only grew at about a one percent rate for the first half of 2016, and the rate of homeownership in this country just hit the lowest level ever recorded.
In the mainstream financial media, there is a lot of hopeful talk about a potential turnaround for the energy industry, but most of that talk appears to be just wishful thinking.
To me, about the only thing that could push the price of oil back to where U.S. oil companies need it to be in the short-term would be a major war in the Middle East. And of course that is definitely always a possibility considering who is running things in Washington. But absent that, it is hard to see the price of oil getting back to 70 or 80 dollars a barrel any time soon.
So that means that we are likely to see more job losses, more debt delinquencies and debt defaults, and more financial institutions getting into trouble due to their reckless exposure to the energy industry.
We 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…
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…
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 Dow closed above 18,000 on Monday for the first time since July. Isn’t that great news? I truly wish that it was. If the Dow actually reflected economic reality, I could stop writing about “economic collapse” and start blogging about cats or football. Unfortunately, the stock market and the economy are moving in two completely different directions right now. Even as stock prices soar, big corporations are defaulting on their debts at a level that we have not seen since the last financial crisis. In fact, this wave of debt defaults have become so dramatic that even USA Today is reporting on it…
Get ready to step over some landmines, investors. The number of companies defaulting on their debt is hitting levels not seen since the financial crisis, and it’s not just a problem for bondholders.
So far this year, 46 companies have defaulted on their debt, the highest level since 2009, according to S&P Ratings Services. Five companies defaulted this week, based on the latest data available from S&P Ratings Services. That includes New Jersey-based specialty chemical company Vertellus Specialties and Ohio-based iron ore producer Cliffs Natural. Of the world’s defaults this year, 37 are of companies based in the U.S.
Meanwhile, coal producer Peabody Energy (BTU) and surfwear seller Pacific Sunwear (PSUN) this week filed plans for bankruptcy protection. Shares of Peabody have dropped 97% over the past year to $2 a share and Pacific Sunwear stock is off 98% to 4 cents a share.
A lot of big companies in this country have fallen on hard times, and it looks like bankruptcy attorneys are going to be absolutely swamped with work for the foreseeable future.
So why are stock prices soaring right now? After all, it doesn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever.
And it isn’t just a few bad apples that we are talking about. All across the spectrum, corporate revenues and corporate earnings are down. At this point, earnings for companies on the S&P 500 have plunged a total of 18.5 percent from their peak in late 2014, and it is being projected that corporate earnings overall will be down 8.5 percent for the first quarter of 2016 compared to one year ago.
As earnings decline, a lot of big companies are getting into trouble with debt, and we have already seen a very large number of corporate debt downgrades. In recent interviews, I have been bringing up the fact that the average rating on U.S. corporate debt has now fallen to “BB”, which is already lower than it was at any point during the last financial crisis.
A lot of people don’t seem to believe me when I share that fact, but it is absolutely true.
One of the big reasons why corporate debt is being downgraded is because a lot of these big companies have been going into enormous amounts of debt in order to buy back their own stock. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
Downgrades ascribed to “shareholder compensation,” as Moody’s calls share buybacks and dividends, have been soaring, according to John Lonski, Chief Economist at Moody’s Capital Markets Research. The moving 12-month sum of Moody’s credit rating downgrades of US companies, jumped from 32 in March 2015, to 48 in December 2015, and to 61 in March 2016, nearly doubling within a year.
The last time the number of downgrades attributed to financial engineering reached 61 was in early 2007. It would hit its peak of 79 in mid- 2007, a few months before the beginning of the Great Recession in Q4 2007. At the time, stocks were on the verge of commencing their epic crash.
When corporations go into the market and buy back their own stock, they are slowly cannibalizing themselves. But we have seen these stock buybacks soar to record levels for a couple of reasons. Number one, big investors want to see stock prices go up, and so big investors tend to really like these stock buybacks and will generally support corporate executives that wish to engage in doing this. Number two, if you are a greedy corporate executive that is heavily compensated by stock options, you very much want to see the stock price go up as well.
So the name of the game is greed, and stock buybacks have been fueling much of the rise in U.S. stock prices that we have been seeing recently.
However, the truth is that nothing in the financial world lasts forever, and this irrational bubble will ultimately come to an end as well.
Back then, as could be the case today, a bull market & a US-led economic recovery was rudely interrupted by a crisis in Emerging Markets. The crisis threatened to hurt Main Street via Wall Street (the Nasdaq fell 33% between Jul-Oct 1998, when [Long-Term Capital Management] went under). Policy makers panicked and monetary policy was eased (with hindsight unnecessarily). Fresh liquidity combined with apocalyptic investor sentiment very quickly morphed into a violent but narrow equity bull market/bubble in 1998/99, one which ultimately took valuations & interest rates sharply higher to levels that eventually caused a “pop”.
Like Hartnett, I definitely believe that a major “pop” is on the way, although I would like for it to be delayed for as long as possible.
Someday we will look back on these times with utter amazement. It has been absolutely incredible how the financial markets have been able to defy economic reality for so long.
In a new CNNMoney/E*Trade survey of Americans who have at least $10,000 in an online trading account, over half (52%) gave the U.S. economy as a “C” grade. Another 15% rated the economy a “D” or “F.”
This gloom persists despite the fact that the stock market is on the upswing again. The Dow topped 18,000 Monday for the first time since July 2015.
If some Americans think that the U.S. economy deserves a “D” or an “F” grade right now, just wait until they see what is in our immediate future.
Personally, I give our economy an “A” for being able to maintain our unsustainable debt-fueled standard of living for as long as it has. Somehow we have managed to consume far more than we produce for decades, and the largest debt bubble in the history of the planet just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Of course we are very much living on borrowed time at this point, but I truly hope that the bubble economy can keep going for at least a little while longer, because nobody should want to see what is coming afterwards.
*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.*
Financial experts Robert Kiyosaki and Harry Dent are both warning that the next major economic crash is in our very near future. Dent is projecting that the Dow will fall to “5,500 to 6,000 by late 2017”, and Kiyosaki actually originally projected that a great crash was coming in 2016 all the way back in 2002. Of course we don’t exactly have to wait for things to get bad. The truth is that things are not really very good at the moment by any stretch of the imagination. Approximately one-third of all Americans don’t make enough money to even cover the basic necessities, 23 percent of adults in their prime working years are not employed, and corporate debt defaults have exploded to the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis. But if Kiyosaki and Dent are correct, economic conditions in this country will soon get much, much worse than this.
During a recent interview, Harry Dent really went out on a limb by staking his entire reputation on a prediction that we would experience “the biggest global bubble burst in history” within the next four years…
There will be… and I will stake my entire reputation on this… we are going to see the biggest global bubble burst in history in the next four years…
There’s only one way out of this bubble and that is for it to burst… all this stuff is going to reset back to where it should be without all this endless debt, endless printed money, stimulus and zero interest rate policy.
And of course he is far from alone. Without a doubt, we are currently in the terminal phases of the greatest financial bubble the world has ever known, and it is exceedingly difficult to see any way that it will not end very, very badly.
Ultimately, Dent believes that we could see U.S. stocks lose two-thirds of their value by late next year…
The Dow, I’m projecting, will hit 5,500 to 6,000 by late 2017… just in the next year and a half or so.
That’ll be most of the damage… then it will rally and there’ll be some aftershocks into 2020… my four cycles point down into early 2020 and then they start one after the other to turn up… I think the worst will be over by 2020, but the worst of that will be by the end of 2017.
If that does happen, it will be a far worse crash than what we experienced back in 2008, and the economic consequences will be absolutely terrifying.
Another highly respected financial expert that is making similar claims is Robert Kiyosaki. My wife is a big fan of his books, and I have always held him in high regard.
But what I didn’t realize is that he had actually predicted that there would be a major financial crash all the way back in 2002…
Fourteen years ago, the author of a series of popular personal-finance books predicted that 2016 would bring about the worst market crash in history, damaging the financial dreams of millions of baby boomers just as they started to depend on that money to fund retirement.
Broader U.S. stock markets are recovering from the worst 10-day start to a year on record. But Robert Kiyosaki — who made that 2016 forecast in the 2002 book “Rich Dad’s Prophecy” — says the meltdown is under way, and there’s little investors can do but buy gold or silver and hope the Federal Reserve slows the slide.
I agree with Kiyosaki that one way that investors can shield their wealth is by getting gold and silver. In a recent article, I explained exactly why I believe that silver in particular is ridiculously undervalued right now.
Kiyosaki also believes that the coming crash could be delayed a bit if the Federal Reserve decided to embark on another round of quantitative easing. But even if that happens, Kiyosaki is absolutely convinced that eventually “it’s all going to come down”…
Kiyosaki told MarketWatch that the combination of demographics and global economic weakness makes the next crash inevitable — but the Fed could stave it off with another round of quantitative easing, which might stimulate the economy.
The Fed turned more dovish at its March meeting, with the central bank penciling in fewer interest-rate hikes this year than were previously part of its implied framework. The Fed signaled those hikes would happen more slowly than had been anticipated earlier, owing to a weak global economic environment and a volatile stock market.
“The big question [whether] we do ‘QE4,’” said Kiyosaki. “If we do, the stock market will come roaring back, but it’s not rocket science. If we stop printing money, it crashes; if we print money, it goes up. But, eventually, it’s all going to come down.”
Another voice that I have come to respect is Jim Rickards. He is not quite as apocalyptic as Kiyosaki or Dent, but without a doubt he is deeply concerned about where the global economy is headed…
Global growth is slowing both because of weakness in developed economies like Europe and Japan, and weakness in some of the emerging markets champions such as China, Brazil and Russia. The limits of monetary policy have been reached.
The evidence is now clear that negative interest rates don’t stimulate spending; they are only good for devaluation in the ongoing currency wars. World trade is shrinking; a rare phenomenon usually associated with recession or depression.
And he is exactly right. The economic downturn that we are witnessing is truly global in scope. Brazil has plunged into an economic depression, the Italian banking system is in the process of completely melting down, and Japan has implemented negative interest rates in a desperate attempt to keep their Ponzi scheme going but it really isn’t working. In fact, Japanese industrial production just crashed by the most that we have seen since the tsunami of 2011.
Here in the United States, investors are generally feeling pretty good right now because stocks have rebounded substantially in recent weeks. However, Rickards is warning that this rebound is very temporary…
Stocks are clearly in a bubble. The stock market is ignoring the strong dollar, which in turn hurts exports and devalues overseas earnings. It is also ignoring declining corporate earnings, imminent defaults in the energy sector, and declining global growth in general.
Never mind. As long as money is cheap and leverage is plentiful, there’s no reason not to bid up stock prices, and wait for the greater fool to bid them up some more.
There is so much that we could learn from all these three men.
Sadly, just like we saw in 2008, most Americans are ignoring the warnings.
If a new financial crisis had already begun, we would expect to see corporate debt defaults skyrocket, and that is precisely what is happening. As you will see below, corporate defaults are currently at the highest level that we have seen since 2009. A wave of bankruptcies is sweeping the energy industry, but it isn’t just the energy industry that is in trouble. In fact, the average credit rating for U.S. corporations is now lower than it was at any point during the last recession. This is yet another sign that we are in the early chapters of a major league economic crisis. Yesterday I talked about how 23.2 percent of all Americans in their prime working years do not have a job right now, but today I am going to focus on the employers. Big corporate giants all over America are in deep, deep financial trouble, and this is going to result in a tremendous wave of layoffs in the coming months.
We should rejoice that U.S. stocks have rebounded a bit in the short-term, but the euphoria in the markets is not doing anything to stop the wave of corporate defaults that is starting to hit Wall Street like a freight train. Zero Hedge is reporting that we have not seen this many corporate defaults since the extremely painful year of 2009…
While many were looking forward to the weekend in last week’s holiday-shortened week for some overdue downtime, the CEOs of five, mostly energy, companies had nothing but bad news for their employees and shareholders: they had no choice but to throw in the towel and file for bankruptcy.
And, as Bloomberg reports, with last week’s five defaults, the 2016 to date total is now 31, the highest since 2009 when there were 42 company defaults, according to Standard & Poor’s. Four of the defaults in the week ended March 23 were by U.S. issuers including UCI Holdings Ltd. and Peabody Energy Corp., the credit rating company said.
And by all indications, what we have seen so far is just the beginning. According to Wolf Richter, the average rating on U.S. corporate debt is already lower than it was at any point during the last financial crisis…
Credit rating agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s, are not known for early warnings. They’re mired in conflicts of interest and reluctant to cut ratings for fear of losing clients. When they finally do warn, it’s late and it’s feeble, and the problem is already here and it’s big.
So Standard & Poor’s, via a report by S&P Capital IQ, just warned about US corporate borrowers’ average credit rating, which at “BB,” and thus in junk territory, hit a record low, even “below the average we recorded in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 credit crisis.”
What all of this tells us is that we are in the early stages of an absolutely epic financial meltdown.
Meanwhile, we continue to get more indications that the real economy is slowing down significantly. According to the Atlanta Fed, U.S. GDP growth for the first quarter is now expected to come in at just 0.6 percent, and Moody’s Analytics is projecting a similar number…
First-quarter growth is now tracking at just 0.9 percent, after new data showed surprising weakness in consumer spending and a wider-than-expected trade gap.
According to the CNBC/Moody’s Analytics rapid update, economists now see the sluggish growth pace based on already reported data, down from 1.4 percent last week.
We are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble the world has ever experienced. For decades, the United States has been running up government debt, corporate debt and consumer debt. Our trade deficits have been bigger than anything the world has ever seen before, and our massively inflated standard of living was funded by an ever increasing pile of IOUs. I love how Doug Noland described this in his recent piece…
With U.S. officials turning their backs on financial excesses, Bubble Dynamics and unrelenting Current Account Deficits, I expected the world to lose its appetite for U.S. financial claims. After all, how long should the world be expected to trade real goods and services for endless U.S. IOUs?
As it turned out, rather than acting to discipline the profligate U.S. Credit system, the world acquiesced to Bubble Dynamics. No one was willing to be left behind. Along the way it was learned that large reserves of U.S. financial assets were integral to booming financial inflows and attendant domestic investment and growth. The U.S. has now run persistently large Current Account Deficits for going on 25 years.
Seemingly the entire globe is now trapped in a regime of unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus required to levitate a world with unmatched debt and economic imbalances. History has seen nothing comparable. And I would strongly argue that the consequences of Bubbles become much more problematic over time. The longer excesses persist the deeper the structural impairment.
As this bubble bursts, we are going to endure a period of adjustment unlike anything America has ever known before. I talk about the pain coming to America in my new book entitled “The Rapture Verdict” which is currently the #1 new release in Christian eschatology on Amazon.com. To be honest, I don’t know if any of us really understands the horror that is coming to this nation in the years ahead. None of us have ever experienced anything similar to it, so we don’t really have a frame of reference to imagine what it will be like.
This spike in corporate debt defaults is a major league red flag. Since the last financial crisis, our big corporations went on a massive debt binge, and now they are starting to pay the price.
We never seem to learn from the errors of the past. Instead of learning our lessons the last time around, we just went out and made even bigger mistakes.
I am afraid that history is going to judge us rather harshly.
Those that are waiting for the next great financial crisis to begin can quit waiting, because it is already happening right in front of our eyes.
If you believe that the temporary rebound of U.S. stocks is somehow going to change the trajectory of where things are heading, you are going to end up deeply, deeply disappointed.