10 Numbers That Prove That America’s Current Financial Condition Is A Horror Show

America’s long-term “balance sheet numbers” just continue to get progressively worse.  Unfortunately, since the stock market has been soaring and the GDP numbers look okay, most Americans assume that the U.S. economy is doing just fine.  But the stock market was soaring and the GDP numbers looked okay just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008 as well, and we saw how that turned out.  The truth is that GDP is not the best measure for the health of the economy.  Judging the U.S. economy by GDP is basically like measuring the financial health of an individual by how much money he or she spends, and I will attempt to illustrate that in this article.

If I went out right now and got a whole bunch of new credit cards and started spending money like there was no tomorrow, would that mean that my financial condition had improved?

No, in fact it would mean that my long-term financial condition just got a whole lot worse.

GDP is a measurement of how much economic activity is happening in our society, and it is basically an indication of how much money is changing hands.

But just because more money is changing hands does not mean that things are going well.  What really matters is what is happening to assets and liabilities.  In other words, is wealth being built or is more debt just being accumulated?

Sadly, there are only a handful of bright spots in our economy.  A couple of very large tech companies such as Apple are accumulating wealth, but just about everywhere else you look debt is growing at an unprecedented pace.  Household debt has never been higher, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, state and local government debt is at record highs, and the U.S. national debt is wildly out of control.

If I went out tomorrow and spent $20,000 with a bunch of new credit cards, I could claim that my “personal GDP” was soaring because I was spending a lot more money then before.  But my boasting would be pointless because in reality I would just be putting my family in an extremely precarious financial position.

Economic growth that is produced by continually increasing amounts of debt is not a positive thing.  I wish that more people understood this very basic concept.  The following are 10 numbers that prove that America’s current financial condition is a horror show…

#1 U.S. consumer credit just hit another all-time record high.  In the second quarter of 2008, total consumer credit reached a grand total of 2.63 trillion dollars, and now ten years later that number has soared to 3.87 trillion dollars.  That is an increase of 48 percent in just one decade.

#2 Student loan debt has surpassed 1.5 trillion dollars for the first time ever.  Over the last 8 years, the total amount of student loan debt has shot up 79 percent in the United States.

#3 According to the Federal Reserve, the credit card default rate in the U.S. has risen for 7 quarters in a row.

#4 One recent survey found that 42 percent of American consumers paid their credit card bill late “at least once in the last year”, and 24 percent of Americans consumers paid their credit card bills late “more than once in the last year”.

#5 Real wage growth in the United States just declined by the most that we have seen in 6 years.

#6 According to one recent study, the “rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991”.

#7 We are in the midst of the greatest “retail apocalypse” in American history.  At this point, 57 major retailers have announced store closings so far in 2018.

#8 The size of the official U.S. budget deficit is up 21 percent under President Trump.

#9 It is being projected that interest on the national debt will surpass half a trillion dollars for the first time ever this year.

#10 Goldman Sachs is projecting that the yearly U.S. budget deficit will surpass 2 trillion dollars by 2028.

And I haven’t even talked about unfunded liabilities.  Those are essentially future commitments that we have made that we don’t have the money for at the moment.

According to Professor Larry Kotlikoff, our unfunded liabilities are well in excess of 200 trillion dollars right now.

If individuals, corporations, state and local governments and the federal government all stopped going into more debt, we would plunge into the greatest economic depression in U.S. history immediately.

The system is deeply, deeply broken, and the only way that we can keep this debt bubble going is go keep accumulating even more debt.

Anyone out there that believes that the U.S. economy has been “fixed” is completely deceived.  NOTHING has been fixed.  Instead, our long-term financial imbalances are getting worse at an escalating pace.

Unfortunately, the attitude of the general public is so similar to what it was just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008.  Most people seem to assume that just because we have not experienced great consequences for our very foolish decisions up to this point that no great consequences are coming.

And many also assume that since control of the White House has switched parties that somehow things must magically be better as well.

Of course the truth is that the only way that our long-term problems are ever going to be fixed is if we start addressing the issues that caused those long-term problems in the first place, and that simply is not happening.

As I have traveled extensively over the course of the past year, I discovered that most Americans do not want to make fundamental changes to the system, because they are under the illusion that the current system is working just fine.  So it will probably take another major crisis before most people are ready to consider fundamental changes, and when it finally arrives we will need to be ready to educate the public.

The system that we have today is not fundamentally sound at all.  We desperately need to return to the values and principles that this nation was founded upon, but until things start getting really, really bad it is highly unlikely that the American people will be ready to embrace those changes.

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.

Bankrupt America: Bankruptcy Soars As The Country Grapples With An Unprecedented Debt Problem

America, you officially have a debt problem, and I am not just talking about the national debt.  Consumer bankruptcies are surging, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, state and local government debt loads have never been higher, and the federal government has been adding more than a trillion dollars a year to the federal debt ever since Barack Obama entered the White House.  We have been on the greatest debt binge in human history, and it has enabled us to enjoy our ridiculously high standard of living for far longer than we deserved.  Many of us have been sounding the alarm about our debt problem for a very long time, but now even the mainstream news is freaking out about it.  I have a feeling that they just want something else to hammer President Trump over the head with, but they are actually speaking the truth when they say that we are facing an unprecedented debt crisis.

For example, the New York Times just published a piece that discussed the fact that the bankruptcy rate among retirees is about three times higher than it was in 1991…

For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy.

The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

Overall, Baby Boomers are doing a whole lot better financially than the generations coming after them, and so this is very troubling news.

And here is another very troubling fact from that same article

Not only are more older people seeking relief through bankruptcy, but they also represent a widening slice of all filers: 12.2 percent of filers are now 65 or older, up from 2.1 percent in 1991.

The jump is so pronounced, the study says, that the aging of the baby boom generation cannot explain it.

Of course it isn’t just Baby Boomers that are drowning in debt.

Collectively, U.S. households are 13.15 trillion dollars in debt, which is the highest level in American history.

All over the nation, companies are also going bankrupt at a staggering pace.  This week we learned that the biggest mattress retailer in the entire country “Is considering a potential bankruptcy filing”

Mattress Firm Inc, the largest U.S. mattress retailer, is considering a potential bankruptcy filing as it seeks ways to get out of costly store leases and shut some of its 3,000 locations that are losing money, people familiar with the matter said.

Mattress Firm’s deliberations offer the latest example of a U.S. brick-and-mortar retailer struggling financially amid competition from e-commerce firms such as Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).

We have seen retailer after retailer go down, and it is being projected that this will be the worst year for retail store closings ever.

But it isn’t just retailers that are hurting.  Yesterday, I came across an article about a television manufacturer in South Carolina that just had to lay off “94 percent of their workforce”

A TV manufacturer based in South Carolina have blamed Trump’s trade tariffs for laying off 94 percent of their workforce.

Element Electronics now has just eight employees in their company after letting 126 members of staff go.

They said the tariffs imposed on goods from China mean they can no longer buy essential components for their TVs.

During this next economic downturn, I believe that we are going to see the biggest wave of corporate bankruptcies that this country has ever seen.

State and local governments don’t go bankrupt, but they are drowning in debt as well.  State and local government debt has ballooned to the highest levels on record in recent years, and one of the big reasons for this is because we are facing a coming pension crisis that threatens to absolutely overwhelm us

Many cities and states can no longer afford the unsustainable retirement promises made to millions of public workers over many years. By one estimate they are short $5 trillion, an amount that is roughly equal to the output of the world’s third-largest economy.

Certain pension funds face the prospect of insolvency unless governments increase taxes, divert funds or persuade workers to relinquish money they are owed. It is increasingly likely that retirees, as well as new workers, will be forced to take deeper benefit cuts.

Meanwhile, the federal government continues to engage in incredibly reckless financial behavior.  When Barack Obama was elected, we were 10 trillion dollars in debt, and now we are 21 trillion dollars in debt.

What that means is that we have been adding more than a trillion dollars to the national debt per year since 2008, and we continue to steal more than 100 million dollars every single hour of every single day from future generations of Americans.

And even though the Republicans have been in control in Washington, very few of our leaders seem to want to alter the trajectory that we are on.  But if something is not done, absolute disaster is a certainty.  At this point, it is being projected that our debt will reach 30 trillion dollars by 2028 if we stay on this current path.  It would be difficult to overstate the grave danger that we are facing, but nothing is being done to turn things around.  Here are some more projections from the Congressional Budget Office

In 2022, the Highway Trust Fund will run out of full funding. In 2026, the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund follows. In 2032, the Social Security trust fund surpluses run dry, and all beneficiaries regardless of age or income level will face a 21 percent across-the-board benefit cut. Before 2030, we could have trillion-dollar annual interest payments. Interest rates have been low until now, but that is changing. As rates go up, we have to pay more on new debt and on all accumulated debt.

The amount we pay in interest on the debt is set to triple over the next ten years. But if interest rates rise just 1 point higher than expected, the government will owe an extra $1.9 trillion over 10 years.

On top of everything else, everyone else around the world has been on a massive debt binge as well.

Total global debt is well above 200 trillion dollars, and it has nearly quadrupled over the past 17 years.

Are you starting to understand why they call this a “debt bubble”?

Unfortunately, all debt bubbles must burst eventually, and the one that we are in right now is definitely on borrowed time.

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.

Kicking The Can Down The Road

Has Europe finally been saved this time?  Has this latest “breakthrough” solved the European debt crisis?  Of course not, and you should know better by now.  European leaders have held 18 summits since the beginning of the debt crisis.  After most of the preceding summits, global financial markets responded with joy because European leaders had reached “a deal” which would supposedly solve the crisis.  But a few weeks after each summit it would become clear that nothing had been solved and that the financial crisis had actually gotten even worse than before.  How many times do they expect us to fall for the same sorry routine?  Nothing in Europe has been solved.  You can’t solve a debt problem with more debt.  European leaders are just kicking the can down the road.  More debt will relieve some of the short-term pressure, but in a few weeks it will be apparent that the underlying problems in Europe continue to grow.  Unfortunately, there is not an unlimited amount of EU bailout money, so once all of these “financial bullets” have been fired European leaders are going to find that kicking the can down the road will not be so easy anymore.  The truth is that the financial crisis in Europe has not been cancelled – it has just been put off for a few weeks or a few months.

Do you solve the problems of a credit card addict by giving that person another credit card?  Of course not.  You may delay the short-term financial problems of the credit card addict by giving that person another credit card, but in the process you make the long-term problems even worse.

Well, that is essentially what is happening in Europe.  European governments and the European financial system have become ridiculously dependent on debt.  By giving European debt junkies another “hit” or two it may relieve a bit of short-term suffering but it doesn’t solve anything.

Just think about it.

Did the first bailout package solve the problems in Greece?

No.

Did the second bailout package solve the problems in Greece?

No.

Today, the Greek financial system is a complete and total mess, and Greek politicians are saying that a third bailout package may be necessary.

Many are claiming that Italy and Spain have been “saved” by this new deal, but that is a joke.

Yes, the ability to inject bailout funds directly into troubled banks is going to keep some of them going for a little while.  But the deal also calls for a new governing body to be established that will supervise those banks.  Will that governing body be established in time to even provide the short-term help that is needed?

Yes, spending bailout funds to buy up Spanish debt and Italian debt will artificially suppress bond yields for a time.

We have seen this before.

But what happened?

After the bond buying program was over, bond yields started spiking again.

So do the Europeans plan to suppress bond yields forever?

Of course not.  There is not enough bailout money to do that.

Let’s review the equation that I have shared in previous articles….

Brutal austerity + toxic levels of government debt + rising bond yields + a lack of confidence in the financial system + banks that are massively overleveraged + a massive credit crunch = A financial implosion of historic proportions

Have any of those elements been removed?

No.

Bond yields will be suppressed for a period of time, but that will not last forever, and all of the other underlying issues are still there.

Meanwhile, the rest of Europe continues to follow the Greek economy into economic depression.

The Spanish economy shrunk again in the second quarter of 2012, and austerity in that nation has barely even begun.

As a recent CNBC article detailed, the big spending cuts are still coming….

The conservatives, who inherited from the outgoing Socialists one of the euro zone’s highest public deficits, at 8.9 percent of GDP in 2011, have said they will shrink the shortfall to 5.3 percent this year and 3 percent in 2013.

Austerity has absolutely shredded the Greek economy, and we are starting to see that same pattern be repeated all over Europe.

When you spend far more money than you bring in for decades, eventually you have to go through a very painful adjustment.  What is going on in Greece should be a lesson for all of us.  Debt allows you to live above your means, but the consequences of going into way too much debt can be absolutely horrific.

More debt can delay the consequences of a debt problem but it cannot solve a debt problem.  The following is what Jim Rogers told CNBC on Friday….

“Just because now you have a way to get them (the banks) to borrow even more money, this is not solving the problem, this is making the problem worse,” Rogers said on Friday.

“People need to stop spending money they don’t have. The solution to too much debt is not more debt. All this little agreement does is give them (banks) a chance to have even more debt for a while longer,” he added.

But if you just went by the headlines in most of the newspapers around the world you would think that European leaders had discovered the cure for cancer or something.

Sadly, the truth is that they are simply choosing to fire off a few of the “financial bullets” that they still have left as a recent Washington Post article described….

The European bailout funds don’t have unlimited resources. If they throw $125 billion at Spain’s banks and another couple hundred billion toward Italy, pretty soon they’ll be running low. The only entity with unlimited euros is the European Central Bank. And right now, there’s no talk of using the ECB to provide bailouts. Which means that this latest move might have just forestalled the crisis, rather than ending it permanently.

So what comes next?

Bruce Krasting believes that the “half-life of this bailout will be measured in weeks”.  The following is his summary of what he sees coming next in Europe….

If I’m right, after a few weeks things turn south again in the capital markets. Then what?

More LTRO. No – there is no more collateral. All of the swill loans have already been hocked.

Cut ECB % rate. Doesn’t matter. It won’t change conditions in Italian or Spanish funding markets one bit.

A spending plan of <1% of GDP. That won’t put a dent in the recession that is building.

Brussels buys more sovereign bonds to avoid a catastrophe of Italian 10-year exceeding 7% (capitulation). Sorry. There are “wise men” in Germany who will simply not allow this to happen in the scale that is required.

The ECB goes Defcon 1 and launches a E2T QE program. No – same answer as above.

– Merkel does a 180 and embraces Euro bonds. No chance in hell.

The US or China are going to start buying EU bonds? Lunacy – not happening.

-The IMF will come to the rescue? No way – the IMF does not have the resources to solve anyone’s problems.

In other words, kicking the can down the road is going to get quite a bit harder after the current “sugar high” wears off.

Europe is still headed for the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression (at least) and European leaders seem powerless to stop it.

Of course the United States is also facing a crisis of too much debt and a great day of reckoning is on the way for this country as well.

So yes, the global economy is still heading for collapse and there is still a multitude of reasons to be extremely concerned about the second half of 2012.

What is your opinion about all of this?

Do you think that European leaders will be able to keep kicking the can down the road?

Please feel free to post a comment with your opinion below….

Bernanke Claims That The Fed Has Averted A Second Great Depression By Bailing Out The Too Big To Fail Banks

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke claims that the Federal Reserve averted a second Great Depression by bailing out the big Wall Street banks during the last financial crisis, and he says that if a similar financial crisis comes along that the correct “policy response” will be to do the exact same thing again.  This was the theme of the lecture that Bernanke delivered to students at George Washington University on Tuesday.  In previous lectures Bernanke has defended the existence of the Fed and detailed the history of Fed activities, but on Tuesday he addressed things that have happened since he has been at the helm of the Fed.  And according to Bernanke, he has been doing a great job.  Bernanke told the students that the “threat of a second Great Depression was very real” and that the Federal Reserve did exactly what needed to be done to fix the financial system.  Unfortunately, the truth is that all Bernanke did was kick the can a bit farther down the road.  You can’t fix a debt problem with more debt, and the debt bubble we are living in today is far larger than it was in 2008.  Will Bernanke still be trying to portray himself as a hero when this house of cards finally falls apart?

During his lecture to the students on Tuesday, Bernanke stated the following….

“I think the view is increasingly gaining acceptance that without the forceful policy response that stabilized the financial system in 2008 and early 2009, we could have had a much worse outcome in the economy.”

So what did that “forceful policy response” entail?

Well, on slide 24 of his presentation to the students Bernanke tells us….

• On October 10, 2008, G‐7 countries agreed to
work together to stabilize the global financial
system. They agreed to
– prevent the failure of systemically important
financial institutions
– ensure financial institutions’ access to funding and
capital
– restore depositor confidence
– work to normalize credit markets

Please note that not all financial institutions got bailed out.

In fact, hundreds of small and mid-size U.S. banks failed during the financial crisis.

It was only the “systemically important financial institutions” that got bailed out.

So who decided which financial institutions were important enough to be bailed out?

The Federal Reserve made those decisions. There were no Congressional votes and no input from the public.  The Federal Reserve determined who the winners and the losers would be in secret and without any public debate.

Sure sounds “democratic”, eh?

But we are told to trust them because they are supposedly the experts.

So once the Federal Reserve bailed out the “too big to fail” banks, what was the outcome?

On page 25 of his presentation to the students Bernanke claimed that the bailouts successfully prevented the global financial system from collapsing….

• The international policy response averted the collapse of the global financial system.

But it wasn’t just big Wall Street banks that got bailed out.  Bernanke says that AIG was also bailed out because the insurance company was deemed to be too “interconnected with many other parts of the global financial system” to be allowed to fail….

Because AIG was interconnected with many other parts of the global financial system, its failure would have had a massive effect on other financial firms and markets.

Once again, we see that it is the Federal Reserve who picks the winners and the losers.

AIG got bailed out and was then able to pay 100 cents on the dollar of what it owed to Goldman Sachs.

That sure worked out well for Goldman Sachs.

In all, the Federal Reserve issued a grand total of more than 16 trillion dollars in secret loans during the financial crisis.

The big Wall Street banks got showered with cash while hundreds of smaller banks were allowed to die like dogs.

The fact that the Fed greatly favors the big Wall Street banks has allowed them to grow massively in size and in power.

Back in 1970, the 5 biggest U.S. banks held 17 percent of all U.S. banking industry assets.

Today, the 5 biggest U.S. banks hold 52 percent of all U.S. banking industry assets.

The “too big to fail” banks just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

Yet during his presentation to the students, Bernanke tried to talk out of both sides of his mouth by claiming that it is not a good thing for some banks to be “too big to fail”….

“But clearly, it is something fundamentally wrong with a system in which some companies are ‘too big to fail.'”

So who is to blame for them being so big?

Well, the Federal Reserve is probably the biggest culprit.

Thanks Bernanke.

The big Wall Street banks are bigger than ever and they are also more unstable than ever.

According to the Comptroller of the Currency, the biggest U.S. banks have exposure to derivatives that is absolutely mind blowing.  Just check out these numbers which have just been released….

JPMorgan Chase – $70.1 Trillion

Citibank – $52.1 Trillion

Bank of America – $50.1 Trillion

Goldman Sachs – $44.2 Trillion

So what is going to happen when that bubble pops?

Is Bernanke going to zap tens of trillions of dollars into existence to bail out that gigantic mess?

Meanwhile, the debt bubble that we are all living in just keeps exploding in size.

Total student loan debt in the United States is over 1 trillion dollars at this point.  Consumer debt is rising.  Millions of mortgages are past due.

The American people are not in better financial condition than they were during the last financial crisis.  In fact, they are significantly worse off.

All over America, state and local governments are also drowning in debt.  In fact, there have been several very notable municipal bankruptcies lately.

And the U.S. government is racking up debt at a pace that is almost unimaginable.

When the last financial crisis began, the U.S. national debt was about 10 trillion dollars.

Today, it has risen to 15.5 trillion dollars.

So Bernanke did not fix anything.

The best that can be said is that he kicked the can down the road a little bit and made our long-term financial problems a lot worse at the same time.

Bernanke can create money out of thin air and loan it to his friends all he wants, but he is not going to be able to prevent this house of cards from crashing down indefinitely.

So grab a bucket of popcorn and get ready.  The next few years are going to be fascinating to watch.

Not So Fast On That Whole Economic Recovery Thing

Not so fast.  Those that are publicly declaring that an economic recovery has arrived are ignoring a whole host of numbers that indicate that the U.S. economy is in absolutely horrendous shape.  The truth is that the health of an economy should not be measured by how well the stock market is doing.  Rather, the truth health of an economy should be evaluated by looking at numbers for things like jobs, housing, poverty and debt.  Some of the latest economic statistics indicate that unemployment is getting a little bit worse, that the housing market continues to deteriorate, that poverty in America continues to soar and that our debt problem is worse than ever.  If we were truly experiencing the kind of economic recovery that the United States has experienced after every other post-World War II recession we would see a sharp improvement across the board in most of our economic statistics.  But that simply is not happening.  Sadly, this is about as much of an “economic recovery” as we are going to get because soon the economy will be getting much worse.  So enjoy this period of relative stability while you can.

The Obama administration would have us believe that unemployment in the United States has declined, but the truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed has stayed very, very flat for more than two years and now there are some measures of unemployment that are actually getting worse.

For example, according to Gallup the unemployment rate in the United States has risen from 8.5% in December to 8.6% in January to 9.1% in February.  The Obama administration would have us believe that it is actually going the other direction.

Initial unemployment claims are rising again.  For the week ending March 3rd, they increased by 8,000 over the previous week to 362,000.  This is not the kind of good news that people were hoping for.

What the U.S. economy could really use are millions of good jobs.  But those are being shipped out of the country at a staggering pace.

Right now there are millions of Americans in their prime working years that are sitting at home wondering what to do with their lives.  The average duration of unemployment in the United States continues to hover near a record high, and if we were truly experiencing an economic recovery it should have been falling by now.

But a lot of Americans have bought into the propaganda about an economic recovery and they are out running up huge amounts of debt once again.  In January, consumer credit increased by much more than expected.  The following is from a recent Reuters report….

Nonrevolving credit, which includes auto loans as well as student loans made by the government, rose $20.723 billion during the month. That was the biggest increase in dollar terms since November 2001, when credit was surging in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Don’t fall into the trap of debt slavery.  During the last recession millions of Americans lost their homes and most of what they owned because they got overextended.

Don’t do it.

The U.S. housing market continues to deeply struggle as well.  If we were really in an economic recovery housing would be bouncing back.  But that is not happening.  Just consider the following facts….

*The number of new homes sold in the United States continues to hover near a record low.

*U.S. home prices in the 4th quarter of 2011 were four percent lower than they were during the 4th quarter of 2010.

*According to CoreLogic, 22.8 percent of all homes with a mortgage in the United States were in negative equity as of the end of the 4th quarter of 2011.  That was an increase from 22.1 percent in the third quarter.

Why are things still getting worse for the U.S housing market?

That is a really good question.

We should have seen some improvement by now.

But it isn’t happening.

Also, poverty in America continues to explode.

For example, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased to 46.5 million – a brand new all-time record.

If we really were in an economic recovery, wouldn’t that number be going down?

We should be thankful that the U.S. economy is not declining as rapidly as it was during 2008 and 2009.  But what we are experiencing right now is not an economic recovery.  It is simply just a bubble of false hope.

The big problem is that our nation is covered in an ocean of constantly expanding debt.

U.S. consumers are drowning in debt, U.S. businesses have pushed debt levels to the red line, and the U.S. financial system is massively overleveraged.

Of course government debt is our biggest debt problem of all.

All over the nation, state and local governments are on the verge of financial ruin.

If we were in the middle of an economic recovery, so many states would not be in crisis mode.  A recent article in the Los Angeles Times declared that “California could run out of cash in March“.  As the economy continues to crumble we are going to hear a lot more of this kind of thing.

A lot of local governments around the nation are on the verge of total financial collapse.  Stockton, California has announced that they will be defaulting on some debt payments, and Suffolk County in New York recently declared a fiscal emergency after discovering that it would rack up more than 500 million dollars of debt between 2011 and 2013.

Keep your eyes open for more news items like this in the months ahead.

Of course the biggest problem of all is the U.S. national debt and it continues to rapidly get worse.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. government had a budget deficit of 229 billion dollars in the month of February.  That is the worst one month budget deficit in the history of the United States.

The Congressional Budget Office also says that the U.S. government is now borrowing 42 cents of every single dollar that it spends.

Ouch.

The U.S. national debt has gotten more than 59 times larger since 1950.

The U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

Are there any words in the English language that are strong enough to describe how foolish we have been?

Of course we won’t be able to accumulate so much debt indefinitely.  At some point the trillion dollar deficits will stop and our false prosperity will disappear.

If you want to get an idea of what happens then, just take a look at Greece.

But Barack Obama and most members of the U.S. Congress don’t really care about what they are doing to our future.

What they care about is winning the next election so that they can continue living their fabulous lives.

Barack Obama is supposed to be taking care of the American people, but instead he has been very busy taking care of the people who helped him get elected.  Politics in America is all about money.  Just check out the following very short excerpt from a recent article in the Washington Post….

More than half of Obama’s 47 biggest fundraisers, those who collected at least $500,000 for his campaign, have been given administration jobs. Nine more have been appointed to presidential boards and committees.

At least 24 Obama bundlers were given posts as foreign ambassadors, including in Finland, Australia, Portugal and Luxembourg. Among them is Don Beyer, a former Virginia lieutenant governor who serves as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Washington D.C. is deeply corrupt and if you are waiting for our politicians to fix our problems you are going to be deeply disappointed.

The federal government is not going to save you.

Our politicians are not going to save you.

You better figure out how you are going to take care of yourself and your family in the years ahead because this is about as good as things are going to get.

This “economic recovery” is about to end and more pain is about to begin.

Even Goldman Sachs Secretly Believes That An Economic Collapse Is Coming

Goldman Sachs is doing it again.  Goldman is telling the public that everything is going to be just fine, but meanwhile they are advising their top clients to bet on a huge financial collapse.  On August 16th, a 54 page report authored by Goldman strategist Alan Brazil was distributed to institutional clients.  The general public was not intended to see this report.  Fortunately, some folks over at the Wall Street Journal got their hands on a copy and they have filled us in on some of the details.  It turns out that Goldman Sachs secretly believes that an economic collapse is coming, and they have some very interesting ideas about how to make money in the turbulent financial environment that we will soon be entering.  In the report, Brazil says that the U.S. debt problem cannot be solved with more debt, that the European sovereign debt crisis is going to get even worse and that there are large numbers of financial institutions in Europe that are on the verge of collapse.  If this is what people at the highest levels of the financial world are talking about, perhaps we should all start paying attention.

There is a tremendous amount of fear in the global financial community right now.  As I wrote about the other day, the financial world is about to hit the panic button.  Things could start falling apart at any time.  Most of these big banks will not admit how bad things are publicly, but privately there is a whole lot of freaking out going on.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Brazil believes that “as much as $1 trillion in capital may be needed to shore up European banks; that small businesses in the U.S., a past driver of job production, are still languishing; and that China’s growth may not be sustainable.”

Perhaps most startling of all is what the report has to say about the debt problems of the United States and Europe.

For example, this following excerpt from the report sounds like it could have come straight from The Economic Collapse Blog….

“Solving a debt problem with more debt has not solved the underlying problem. In the US, Treasury debt growth financed the US consumer but has not had enough of an impact on job growth. Can the US continue to depreciate the world’s base currency?”

Remember, this statement was not written by some guy on the Internet.  A top Goldman Sachs analyst put it into a report for institutional investors.

The report also goes into great detail about the financial crisis in Europe.  Brazil writes about how the euro is headed for trouble and about how dozens of financial institutions in Europe could potentially be in danger of collapse.

But in any environment Goldman Sachs thinks that it can make money.  The following is how Business Insider summarized the advice that Brazil gave in the report regarding how to make money off of the impending collapse in Europe….

  • Buy a six-month put option on the Euro versus the Swiss Franc, thus betting the Euro will drop against the Franc (the Franc being the currency that an official Goldman report recently referred to as the most overvalued in the world)
  • Buy a five-year credit default swap on an index of European corporate debt—the iTraxx 9. This is a bet that some of these companies will default, and your insurance policy, the CDS, will pay off

This is so typical of Goldman Sachs.  They will say one thing publicly and then turn around and do the total opposite privately.

For example, prior to the financial crisis of 2008, Goldman Sachs was putting together mortgage-backed securities that they knew were garbage and marketing them to investors as AAA-rated investments.  On top of that, Goldman then often privately bet against those exact same securities.

The CEO of Goldman Sachs has even acknowledged that the investment bank engaged in “improper” behavior during 2006 and 2007.

For much more on the history of all this, please see this article: “How Goldman Sachs Made Tens Of Billions Of Dollars From The Economic Collapse Of America In Four Easy Steps“.

So will Goldman Sachs ever get into serious trouble for any of this?

No, of course not.

Yeah, they will get a slap on the wrist from time to time, but the reality is that the top levels of the federal government are absolutely littered with ex-employees of Goldman Sachs.  Goldman is one of the “too big to fail” banks and they are going to continue to do pretty much whatever they feel like doing.

Sadly, the power of the “too big to fail” banks just continues to grow.  At this point, the “big six” U.S. banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo) now possess assets equivalent to approximately 60 percent of America’s gross national product.

Goldman Sachs was the second biggest donor to Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008, so don’t expect Obama to do anything about any of this.

We have a financial system that is deeply, deeply corrupt and all of that corruption is a big reason why things are falling apart.

Sadly, the 54 page report mentioned above is right – we really are facing a global debt meltdown and we really are heading for an economic collapse.

You aren’t going to hear the truth from the mainstream media or from our politicians because “keeping people calm” is much more of a priority to them than telling the truth is.

The debt crisis in the United States is unsustainable and the debt crisis in Europe is unsustainable.  Right now we are in the calm before the storm, and nobody knows exactly when the storm is going to strike.

But let there be no doubt – it is coming.

The amazing prosperity that we have enjoyed for the last several decades has largely been a debt-fueled illusion.  It was a great party while it lasted, but now it is coming to an end and the aftermath of the coming crash is going to be absolutely horrific.

Keep watch and get prepared.  We don’t know exactly when the collapse is going to happen, but it is definitely on the way and now even Goldman Sachs is admitting that.

Without Low Interest Rates, The U.S. Financial System Dies

Right now, interest rates are near historic lows.  The U.S. government is able to borrow gigantic mountains of money for next to nothing.  U.S. consumers are still able to get home loans, car loans and student loans at ridiculously low interest rates.  When this low interest rate environment changes (and it will), it is going to absolutely devastate the U.S. economy.  Without low interest rates, the U.S. financial system dies.  When it comes to borrowing money, it is the rate of interest that causes the pain.  If you could borrow as much money as you wanted at a zero rate of interest for the rest of your life you would never, ever have a debt problem.  But when there is a cost to borrowing money that changes things.  The higher the rate of interest goes, the more painful debt becomes.

The only reason that U.S. government finances have not fallen apart completely already is because the federal government is still able to borrow huge amounts of money very cheaply.  If interest rates on U.S. government debt even return just to “average” levels, it is going to be absolutely catastrophic.

So what happens if rates go above “average”?

The reality is that if there is a major crisis that causes interest rates on U.S. Treasuries to go well beyond “normal” levels it is going to cause a complete and total collapse.

In 2010, the U.S. government paid out just $413 billion in interest even though the national debt soared to 14 trillion dollars by the end of the year.

That means that the U.S. government paid somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 percent interest for the year.

Considering how rapidly the U.S. dollar has been declining and how much money printing the Federal Reserve has been doing, a rate of interest that low is absolutely ridiculous.

The shorter the term, the more ridiculous the rates of interest on U.S. Treasuries are.

For example, the rate of interest on 3 month U.S. Treasuries right now is just barely above zero.

The Federal Reserve has been playing all kinds of games in an attempt to keep interest rates on U.S. government debt low, and so far they have been pretty successful at it.

But they aren’t going to be able to do it forever.

Up until now, other nations and investors around the world have continued to participate in the system even though they know that the Federal Reserve is cheating.

However, there are signs that a lot of investors are finally getting fed up and are ready to walk away from U.S. government debt.

China has been dumping short-term U.S. government debt.  Russia has been dumping U.S. government debt. Pimco has been dumping U.S. government debt.

Others are taking things even farther.

In fact, there are some investors that plan on cashing in on the loss of confidence in U.S. Treasuries.  Renowned investor Jim Rogers says that he is now going to be shorting 30 year U.S. government bonds.

Just check out what Rogers recently told CNBC….

“I cannot imagine or conceive lending money to the United States government for 30-years at 3, 4, 5 or 6 percent —you pick a number — in U.S. dollars”

And he is right.  Who in the world would be stupid enough to loan the U.S. government money at a 4 or 5 percent rate of interest for the next 30 years?

Actually, most U.S. government debt is financed in the short-term these days.  In fact, the U.S. government issues a higher percentage of short-term debt than any other industrialized nation.

This trend really got started during the Clinton administration.  Back then they figured out that the U.S. could reduce its borrowing costs substantially by relying much more heavily on short-term debt.  The Bush and Obama administrations have continued this trend.

So these days the U.S. government constantly has huge amounts of debt that are maturing and that need to be rolled over.

This is great as long as interest rates stay very, very low.

But when interest rates rise the whole game will change.

In a recent article, Pat Buchanan explained that the Obama administration is being completely unrealistic when it assumes that interest rates on U.S. government debt will stay incredibly low over the next decade….

“The average rate of interest the Fed has had to pay to borrow for the last two decades has been 5.7 percent. However, President Obama is projecting the cost of money at only 2.5 percent.

A return to the normal Fed rate would, by 2020, add $4.9 trillion to the cumulative deficit”

Most Americans really cannot grasp how incredibly low interest rates are right now.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

The following chart shows how interest rates on 10 year U.S. Treasury bonds have declined over the last several decades.

As confidence in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. government debt declines, interest rates will go up.

In fact, there are troubling signs that we are starting to see a move in that direction right now.  Last week, the yield on 5 year U.S. Treasuries experienced the biggest one week percentage jump ever recorded.

The big danger is that the political wrangling in Washington D.C. will start to cause a panic.  The managing director of Standard & Poor’s recently told Reuters that if the U.S. government starts defaulting on debt at the beginning of August, the credit rating on U.S. Treasury bonds that are supposed to mature on August 4th will go from AAA all the way down to D….

Chambers, who is also the chairman of S&P’s sovereign ratings committee, told Reuters on Tuesday that U.S. Treasury bills maturing on August 4 would be rated ‘D’ if the government fails to honor them. Unaffected Treasuries would be downgraded as well, but not as sharply, he said.

“If the U.S. government misses a payment, it goes to D,” Chambers said. “That would happen right after August 4, when the bills mature, because they don’t have a grace period.”

When a credit rating gets slashed, interest rates on that debt can go up dramatically.

Just ask the citizens of Greece.

Today, the interest rate on 2 year Greek bonds is over 26 percent.

You are delusional if you believe that something like that can never happen here.

Right now the U.S. national debt is completely and totally out of control.  If the U.S. government had to start paying interest rates of 10, 15 or 20 percent to borrow money it would be a total nightmare.

This year the U.S. government will have income of about 2.2 trillion dollars.

If in future years the U.S. government is spending a trillion or a trillion and a half dollars just on interest on the national debt, then how in the world is it going to be possible to even run the government, much less balance the budget?

But rising interest rates would not just devastate the federal government.

It would become much more expensive for state and local governments to borrow money.

Student loans would become much more expensive.

Car loans would become much more expensive.

Home loans would become out of reach for everyone except the very wealthy.

As we saw during the housing crash of a few years ago, rising interest rates can absolutely wipe homeowners out.

On a standard home loan, if you change the rate of interest from 5 percent to 10 percent you increase the mortgage payment by approximately 50 percent.

If you change the rate of interest from 5 percent to 15 percent, you roughly double the mortgage payment.

As the 30 year fixed rate mortgage chart below shows, interest rates are near historic lows right now….

Keep in mind that even with such ridiculously low interest rates the U.S. real estate market has been deader than a doornail.

So what would a significant spike in interest rates do to it?

When all of these low interest rates go away the entire financial system is going to change dramatically.

A significant spike in interest rates would wipe out U.S. government finances, it would push state and local governments all over the country to the brink of bankruptcy, it would bring economic activity to a standstill and it would destroy any hopes for a housing recovery.

This country, and in particular the federal government, is enslaved to debt but right now we are not feeling the full pain of that debt because interest rates are so low.

If you want to know when things are really going to start coming apart, just keep an eye on interest rates.  When they really start spiking you can start sounding the alarm.

The truth is that the state of the economy is going to continue to get worse.  Our debt is growing every single day and our country is getting poorer every single day.  When interest rates start surging it is going to start knocking over a lot of dominoes.

I hope you are getting prepared for when that happens.