Nearly 51 Million Households In The United States ‘Can’t Afford Basics Like Rent And Food’

If the U.S. economy is performing well, then why can’t 51 million households in the United States “afford basics like rent and food”.  A stunning new report that was just put out by the United Way ALICE Project shows that the gap between the wealthy and the poor in this country is perhaps the biggest that it has been in any of our lifetimes.  In some of the wealthiest areas of the nation, homes are now selling for up to 100 million dollars, but meanwhile tens of millions of families are barely scraping by from month to month.  Many believe that this growing “inequality gap” is setting the stage for major societal problems.

In general, the U.S. economy seems to be performing better than expected so far in 2018, but the ranks of the poor and the working poor just continue to grow.  The following comes from CNN

Nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That’s 43% of households in the United States.

The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed “to survive in the modern economy.”

If 43 percent of all Americans cannot even afford “the basics”, what does that say about the true state of the U.S. economy?

Of course the biggest reason why so many American families are struggling is the lack of good jobs.

In America today, 66 percent of all jobs pay less than 20 dollars an hour.

66 percent.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

You cannot support a middle class family on 20 dollars an hour.  As a result, many Americans are working more than one job, and in many households both the mother and the father are working more than one job.

Housing costs account for the biggest item in most family budgets, and the fact that housing costs have just continued to soar is putting a huge amount of financial stress on hard working families.  Just today we learned that there is a tremendous rush to buy homes as mortgage rates rise rapidly

Today, according to the latest Freddie Mac mortgage rates report, after plateauing in recent weeks, mortgage rates reversed course and reached a new high last seen eight years ago as the 30-year fixed mortgage rate edged up to 4.61% matching the highest level since May 19, 2011.

But while the highest mortgage rates in 8 years are predictably crushing mortgage refinance activity, they appears to be having the opposite effect on home purchases, where there is a sheer scramble to buy, and sell, houses. As Bloomberg notes, citing brokerage Redfin, the average home across the US that sold last month went into contract after a median of 36 only days on the market – a record speed in data going back to 2010.

If you will remember, we witnessed a very similar pattern just before the subprime mortgage meltdown in 2008.

History is repeating itself, and we never seem to learn from our past mistakes.

Housing prices in some cities are absolutely obscene right now, and many working families find themselves completely priced out of the market.  That has some people asking one very simple question

Many San Francisco renters I met while reporting an article on affordable housing lotteries had responded to the region’s housing crisis by putting up with great discomfort: They crammed in with family; they split apartments with strangers. Some even lived out of their cars.

Why, lots of readers wanted to know, didn’t they simply move away instead?

Yes, some people are moving, and this is something that I plan to do an article about very soon.

But for most hard working families, moving across the country simply is not an option.  Moving out of state is very expensive, it can be very difficult to find a similar job in an entirely new area, and many families are very dependent on the social networks where they currently live…

People who struggle financially often have valuable social networks — family to help with child care, acquaintances who know of jobs. The prospect of dropping into, say, Oklahoma or Georgia would mean doing without the good income and the social support. Those intangible connections that keep people in places with bad economies also keep people in booming regions where the rent is too high.

In the end, moving is just not an option for a lot of people.

We need to structure our economic system so that it works for all Americans – not just a few.  Unfortunately, it is probably going to take another major crisis before people are ready for such a restructuring.

And such a crisis may not be that far away.  In fact, even Pope Francis is now warning about the dangers of derivatives

In a sweeping critique of global finance released by the Vatican on Thursday, the Holy See singled out derivatives including credit-default swaps for particular scorn. “A ticking time bomb,” the Vatican called them. The unusual rebuke — derivatives rarely reach the level of religious doctrine — is in keeping with Francis’s skeptical view of unbridled global capitalism.

“The market of CDS, in the wake of the economic crisis of 2007, was imposing enough to represent almost the equivalent of the GDP of the entire world. The spread of such a kind of contract without proper limits has encouraged the growth of a finance of chance, and of gambling on the failure of others, which is unacceptable from the ethical point of view,” the Vatican said in the document.

I have written about derivatives extensively in the past, and Pope Francis is 100 percent correct when he says that they are a ticking time bomb which could absolutely devastate the global financial system at any moment.

We don’t know exactly when it will happen, but we do know that such a crisis is coming at some point.

Sadly, most of the population is completely asleep, and they will be completely blindsided by the coming crisis when it does finally arrive.

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

The Budget-Busting $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill That Was Just Passed By Congress Is A Betrayal Of The American People

I don’t know if I even have the words to express how disgusted I am with the omnibus spending bill that was just rushed through Congress.  Members of the House of Representatives were given less than 24 hours to read this 2,232 page monstrosity of a bill before they were expected to vote on it, and so obviously nobody was able to read the entire thing before the vote was held.  This is the kind of thing that Democrats were greatly criticized for in the past, but now it is Republicans that are doing it.  The Republican Party is supposed to stand for limited government, and this is yet another example that shows how badly broken the system in Washington has become.

I am running for Congress in Idaho’s first congressional district, and I want to make it exceedingly clear that I would have voted against this bill.  In addition to fully funding Planned Parenthood, this bill also funds a whole host of other liberal priorities.  But other than an increase in military spending, conservative priorities are almost entirely ignored by this bill.

Over the past decade, we have been adding more than a trillion dollars a year to the national debt, and this omnibus spending bill dramatically increases government spending at a time when we should be desperately trying to get our financial house in order.

On Twitter, Rand Paul documented just a few of the examples of the tremendous waste in this bill…

o $12m for Scholarships for Lebanon
o $20m for Middle East Partnership Initiative Scholarship Program
o $12m in military funding for Vietnam
o $3.5m in nutrition assistance to Laos
o $15m in Developmental assistance to China
o $10m for Women LEOs in Afghanistan
o $1m for the World Meteorological Organization
o $218m for Promoting Democracy Development in Europe
o $10m for disadvantaged Egyptian Students
o $1.371bn for Contributions to International Organizations
o $51m to promote International Family Planning and Reproductive Health
o $7m promoting International Conservation
o $10m for UN Environmental Programs
o $5m for Vietnam Education Foundation Grants
o $2.579m for Commission on Security and Co-operation in Europe
o $15m to USAID for promoting international higher education between universities
o $1m for the Cultural Antiquities Task Force
o $6.25m for the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation
o $20m for Countering Foreign State Propaganda
o $12m for Countering State Disinformation and Pressure

After it passed, Democratic leaders were jubilant.  The following comes from the American Mirror

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her esteemed counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Chuck Schumer, are declaring the spending bill rushed through by Republicans this week as “a victory.”

“The distinguished leader has clearly put forth many of the priorities that we’re very proud of in a bill that’s one yard high,” Pelosi said of House Speaker Paul Ryan at a joint press conference with Schumer on Thursday.

Senator Schumer also admitted that the Democrats got more accomplished in this bill than they did during any of the spending bills when Barack Obama was in the White House, and Nancy Pelosi added that Republican leadership rushed this legislation through so quickly because “they didn’t want their colleagues to see what was in the bill.”

What we have in Washington D.C. today doesn’t look anything like what our founders originally intended.  It is time to take our government back, and we need fresh leadership in Washington.

I am not going to Washington to be a cog in the system.  Rather, I am going to Washington to drain the swamp and to turn the current corrupt system completely upside down.  If you would like to learn more about what we are trying to do, please visit MichaelSnyderForCongress.com.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District.  If you would like to help him win on May 15th, you can donate online, by Paypal or by sending a check made out to “Michael Snyder for Congress” to P.O. Box 1136 – Bonners Ferry, ID 83805.  To learn more, please visit MichaelSnyderForCongress.com.

Debt Cancer: More Than 80 Percent Of American Adults Owe Somebody Else Money

How long can our debt levels keep growing much, much faster than the overall economy?  We haven’t had a year of 3 percent growth for the U.S. economy since the middle of the Bush administration, but we keep borrowing money as if there is no tomorrow.  Much of the focus has been on the exploding debt of the federal government, and that is definitely something I plan to address once I get to Washington.  But on an individual level, U.S. consumers have been extremely irresponsible as well.  In fact, one new survey has found that more than 80 percent of all American adults are currently in debt

It’s no secret that America is a nation that runs on debt, but it may surprise you to learn that the overwhelming majority of U.S. adults owe money in some way, shape, or form. According to new data from Comet, here’s how many Americans have debt at present:

  • 80.9% of Baby Boomers
  • 79.9% of Gen Xers
  • 81.5% of Millennials

For most of us, it starts very early.  We were told that going into debt to get a college education would not be a problem because we would be able to pay those loans off with the good jobs we would get after graduation.

Unfortunately, those good jobs never really materialized for many of us, and now millions of former college students are absolutely drowning in debt

A study released Friday by the Brookings Institution finds that most borrowers who left school owing at least $50,000 in student loans in 2010 had failed to pay down any of their debt four years later. Instead, their balances had on average risen by 5% as interest accrued on their debt.

As of 2014 there were about 5 million borrowers with such large loan balances, out of 40 million Americans total with student debt. Large-balance borrowers represented 17% of student borrowers leaving college or grad school in 2014, up from 2% of all borrowers in 1990 after adjusting for inflation. Large-balance borrowers now owe 58% of the nation’s $1.4 trillion in outstanding student debt.

In addition to owing more than a trillion dollars on student loans, Americans are also now carrying more than a trillion dollars of auto loan debt and more than a trillion dollars of credit card debt.

Corporations have been incredibly irresponsible as well.  Corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, and corporate bankruptcies have been rising steadily in recent years.  All it would take for the dominoes to really start falling is some sort of a major economic downturn.

Local, state and federal government debt levels are all at record highs as well.  It is now being projected that our national debt will hit 30 trillion dollars by 2028, and those projections are probably too optimistic.

My guess is that we will almost certainly hit the 30 trillion dollar mark far sooner than that.

We can’t keep doing this to ourselves.  Our incessant greed is literally destroying the future, but anyone that tries to warn about the collective insanity that has descended upon our society is mocked and ridiculed.

Let me ask you a question.

Would you willingly choose to give yourself cancer?

Of course not, but that is essentially what we are doing to ourselves as a society.

Debt is economic cancer, and as Lance Roberts has pointed out, if we continue to allow debt levels to grow like this eventually it will kill our entire economy…

Debt is, by its very nature, a cancer on economic growth. As debt levels rise it consumes more capital by diverting it from productive investments into debt service. As debt levels spread through the system it consumes greater amounts of capital until it eventually kills the host.

Debt is addictive, because it does boost our standard of living in the short-term.  It is so easy to keep going back for one more “hit”, but every time we do it just makes our long-term crisis even worse.

Most people out there seem to think that our economic problems have been “solved”, but that is not true at all.

The truth is that our long-term problems just continue to grow with each passing day, and that is one of the reasons why I am so determined to go to Washington.  We are at such a critical juncture right now, and if something is not done the prognosis is extremely negative.

If we stay on this current path, the very best that we can hope for is a “soft landing” and a greatly reduced standard of living for future generations of Americans.  Here is more from Lance Roberts

The processes that fueled the economic growth over the last 30 years are now beginning to run in reverse, and when combined with the demographic shifts in the U.S., the impact could be far more immediate and prolonged than the media, economists, and analysts are currently expecting. Sacrifices will have to be made, the economy will drag on at subpar rates of growth, individuals will be working far longer into their retirement years and the next generation of Americans will lead a far different life than what the currently retiring generation enjoyed.

It is simply a function of the math.

I am sorry for not writing more lately.  I have been working night and day to get ready for May 15th.  With Donald Trump in the White House, this is our opportunity to take our government back.  If we miss this window, we may never have this sort of opportunity ever again.

America is drowning in debt, but of course our problems go far beyond that.  Our economic, political, cultural and spiritual problems go very deep, and we desperately need to change course as a nation.

Unfortunately, most of the population is in a deep state of sleep, and my hope is that we can wake them up while there is still time to turn things around.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Is Washington Nuts? Increasing Spending AND Cutting Taxes Will EXPLODE The Size Of The National Debt

Our national debt is rapidly approaching 21 trillion dollars, and yet Congress wants to follow up a large tax cut bill with a massive increase in federal spending.  This is absolute madness, and it is going to make our long-term financial problems as a nation far worse.  After passing the tax bill, the appropriate thing to do would have been to cut federal spending.  Yes, that would have not been a positive thing for the economy in the short-term, but we must start addressing our long-term priorities.  If we do not do something about this exploding national debt, it could potentially destroy our republic all by itself.

Earlier today, I was absolutely horrified when I learned of a budget deal in the Senate that would increase federal spending by about 200 billion dollars in each of the next two years…

The Senate’s Republican and Democratic leaders unveiled a sweeping two-year budget agreement on Wednesday that would increase federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars on domestic and defense programs alike.

That deal would eliminate strict budget caps, set in 2011 to reduce the federal deficit, and would allow Congress to spend about $200 billion more in the current fiscal year and in fiscal year 2019.

Seriously?

Our federal debt is going to hit 21 trillion dollars some time this year, and they want to throw hundreds of billions of dollars more spending on top of what we are already doing?

This alone is why we need true conservatives all over the nation to run for Congress.  Our endless greed is literally destroying the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.

I don’t know if I even have the words to describe how foolish our leaders are being.  If interest rates on government debt were to return to their long-term averages, the game would already be over.  We should be desperately attempting to get our financial house in order, but instead we are spending money as if tomorrow will never come.

But tomorrow always arrives, and a day of reckoning is fast approaching.

Fortunately, there are some members of Congress that seem to understand that we cannot keep spending money that we do not have.  The following comes from USA Today

Rep.  Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who chairs the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, wants to see what comes back from the Senate, said his spokesman Ben Williamson.

“But if the numbers are as high as we’re hearing, Rep. Meadows does not support the budget deal,” Williamson said.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said “this spending bill is a debt junkie’s dream… I’m not only a ‘no.’ I’m a ‘hell no.'”

As a member of Congress, I would always be a resounding “no” vote on these sorts of absurd budget deals.

Whatever happened to all of the strong fiscal conservatives that we sent to Congress during the days of the Tea Party movement?  So many of them seem to have been enveloped by the swamp and are now doing whatever party leadership tells them to do.

Sadly, most Americans don’t even seem to understand that we have been adding more than a trillion dollars a year to the national debt since Barack Obama first entered the White House.  The following is an extended excerpt from one of my previous articles

When Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. national debt was just over 10.6 trillion dollars, and when he left the White House 8 years later it was sitting just shy of 20 trillion dollars.

So during those 8 years more than 9 trillion dollars was added to the national debt. But for purposes of this example we will round down to an even 9 trillion dollars.

When you divide 9 trillion dollars by 8, you get an average of 1.125 trillion dollars that was added to the national debt per year during the Obama era.

Dividing that figure by 365, you find that an average of $3,082,191,780 was added to the national debt every single day during the Obama administration.

And since there are 24 hours in a day, that means that an average of $128,424,657 was stolen from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day while Barack Obama was president.

Under President Trump, we should be dramatically reducing federal spending and the size of the federal government.

Yes, this would hurt the economy in the short-term, but if we continue down the road we are currently on it is a recipe for national suicide.

As interest rates rise, it won’t be too long before we are paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.  And when America plunges into a debt nightmare, there won’t be anyone in the entire world big enough to bail us out.

America cannot be great again if we are drowning in debt.  What is happening in Washington is utter madness, and it should greatly anger all of us that our irresponsible politicians are systematically destroying the greatest republic that the world has ever seen.

Michael Snyder is a pro-Trump candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

A Potential Government Shutdown Is Literally Just Hours Away, But Congressional Leaders Insist That Everything Will Be Just Fine

Either the Republicans are going to give Democrats virtually everything that they want, or the federal government will shut down at the end of the day on Friday.  We have been through this process time after time, and in every single instance the Republicans have always folded like a 20 dollar suit.  Unfortunately, it looks like the Democrats are going to win big this time around too.  The spending agreement is essentially an updated Obama budget that fully funds Planned Parenthood, that contains no money for a border wall, and that doesn’t reflect any of President Trump’s other important priorities either.  On Thursday, the House is expected to pass this horrible bill, and the Senate is expected to take up the matter on Friday.  According to Bloomberg, right now this plan would keep the government open through December 22nd…

The House Rules Committee approved a rule setting the bill up for a floor vote Thursday, after which the Senate will have until the end of the day Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown. A formal check of how members would vote on the Dec. 22 deadline came back showing widespread support, said Representative Dennis Ross, a member of the vote-whipping team.

So even if this plan gets through both the House and the Senate, we will be facing another government shutdown deadline in just a few weeks.

And every time one of these deadlines approaches, the Democrats use it as leverage to get what they want.  In addition to getting a spending agreement that is extremely lopsided in their favor, many Democrats want to use this current deadline to pass the DREAM Act before the end of 2017.  In fact, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Dick Durbin, Elizabeth Warren and Corey Booker have all said that they will not vote in favor of any spending agreement unless it includes the DREAM Act.

Emboldened by their past successes, Democrats are asking for more than ever this time around.  But if we are just going to hand the Democrats whatever they want every time, what is the point of even having elections?  In 2016 we gave the Republicans control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and yet the Democrats just keep winning over and over again.  This is deeply infuriating, and grassroots conservatives all over the country are sick and tired of Republicans acting like spineless jellyfish.

Fortunately, we do have a man with a spine in the White House, and it sounds like he has absolutely no intentions of giving in on the DREAM Act.  The following comes from NBC News

“Democrats are really looking at something very dangerous for our country. They are looking at shutting down, they want to have illegal immigrants, in many cases people that we don’t want in our country,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We don’t want to have that, we want to have a great, beautiful, crime-free country.”

If the Democrats stand firm on their demands, there is a very real possibility that we could have a government shutdown, and federal agencies are already preparing for one.  When the government shuts down, it only affects about 13 percent of the federal government, and we don’t actually need most of that 13 percent anyway.

So even though the mainstream media would be totally freaking out, it definitely would not be the end of the world.

If you don’t remember the last government shutdown, the following is a pretty good summary of what would happen that was published by Newsweek

If the shutdown does occur this weekend, the effects will be felt immediately. All nonessential employees of the federal government will stay home until further notice, and some will stop receiving paychecks. Refunds from the IRS could be delayed, as could the State Department’s passport service. Most air-traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration security will continue to go to work, but there won’t be as many as them so air-travel will be slower. Members of Congress will have limited staff and won’t be as responsive (well, as responsive as they normally are) to constituents. And after 10 days without a spending bill, federal courts will close.

Obviously it would be a good thing to avoid a government shutdown, but it is exceedingly foolish to give the Democrats whatever they want just to keep things functioning normally.

In case you are wondering, I would definitely vote “no” on the bill that is currently going through the House of Representatives.  I will not vote in favor of a spending bill that explodes the size of the national debt, that funds Planned Parenthood and that contains no money for a border wall.  I am never going to compromise on my most important principles, and any Republican that caves in and gives the Democrats whatever they want just to avoid a government shutdown should be ashamed of themselves.

Sadly, the Democrats have done a very good job of selling their story to the American people, and at this point most Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of a compromise…

Sixty-three percent say members of Congress should avoid a shutdown at all costs. Only 18 percent of voters surveyed say members should allow a temporary government shutdown if it helps them achieve their policy goals. The remaining 19 percent of voters are undecided.

Of course “compromise” means giving in to the Democrats on virtually every single point.  There are many things that the Democrats will never, ever compromise on, and that is why they keep on winning over and over again.

Most Republicans have been compromising for so long that most of them don’t even stand for anything any longer.

It is time to kick out the corrupt professional politicians and replace them with a new generation of leaders that are willing to stand up for us.  We will have a chance to do that in 2018, and we must not squander this opportunity.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Imports From China Hit Record High As U.S. Trade Deficit Continues To Explode

It should upset you that virtually everything stocking the shelves of our major retailers seems to have been made somewhere else.  As a nation, we are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and that is a recipe for national economic suicide.  This week we learned that imports from China hit an all-time record high in October, and that was one of the primary reasons why our trade deficit hit a staggering 48.7 billion dollars during that month.  Year after year we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and this is systematically impoverishing us.

Let me put this another way.  The amount of money that leaves our country each month is far greater than the amount of money that comes into it.  When you grasp this concept, it becomes easy to understand why major exporting nations such as China have become so wealthy, and why we are drowning in debt.

Sadly, most Americans don’t understand the trade deficit, and so they don’t understand how important news like this really is.  The following comes from Bloomberg

The U.S. trade deficit widened in October to a nine-month high on record imports that reflect steady domestic demand, Commerce Department data showed Tuesday.

The surge in imports probably reflected merchants preparing for the holiday-shopping season. Consumer goods imports increased almost $800 million, including a $303 million gain in cell phones and other household goods, as well as more inbound shipments of furniture, appliances, toys and clothing.

Since China joined the WTO in 2001, the United States has lost more than 70,000 manufacturing facilities and millions of good paying manufacturing jobs.  Formerly great manufacturing cities such as Detroit now resemble war zones, but until Donald Trump came along nobody seemed to really care very much about what was happening.

Of course the Chinese are going to keep taking advantage of us for as long as they can.  They slap all sorts of tariffs and fees on our goods, and meanwhile we allow them to flood our shores with their products.  As a result, our trade deficit with China keeps hitting record high after record  high

Record imports from China helped drive up the U.S. trade deficit 8.6 percent in October as retailers stocked up for the holidays, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Goods and services coming into the U.S. from China, Mexico and the European Union all hit record levels, which boosted the trade gap to $48.7 billion from $44.9 billion in September. It’s the highest monthly trade deficit recorded since President Trump took office.

President Trump is precisely correct when he says that our trade agreements are not fair to American workers and American businesses.  We will always need to trade with the rest of the world, but we need to do so in a way that is fair for both sides.  As a member of Congress, I will fight tirelessly for American workers, and if you believe in what I am trying to do I hope that you will join the team.

We simply cannot stand by and do nothing.  Our trade deficits are absolutely killing our long-term economic future, and the only way that we have been able to maintain our standard of living is by going on the greatest debt binge in human history.

If we truly want to make America great again, we need to start making things in America again, and we need to start sending leaders to Washington that understand these issues.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

We Have Tripled The Number Of Store Closings From Last Year, And 20 Major Retailers Have Closed At Least 50 Stores In 2017

Did you know that the number of retail store closings in 2017 has already tripled the number from all of 2016?  Last year, a total of 2,056 store locations were closed down, but this year more than 6,700 stores have been shut down so far.  That absolutely shatters the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and yet nobody seems that concerned about it.  In 2008, an all-time record 6,163 retail stores were shuttered, and we have already surpassed that mark by a very wide margin.  We are facing an unprecedented retail apocalypse, and as you will see below, the number of retail store closings is actually supposed to be much higher next year.

Whenever the mainstream media reports on the retail apocalypse, they always try to put a positive spin on the story by blaming the growth of Amazon and other online retailers.  And without a doubt that has had an impact, but at this point online shopping still accounts for less than 10 percent of total U.S. retail sales.

Look, Amazon didn’t just show up to the party.  They have been around for many, many years and while it is true that they are growing, they still only account for a very small sliver of the overall retail pie.

So those that would like to explain away this retail apocalypse need to come up with a better explanation.

As I noted in the headline, there are 20 different major retail chains that have closed at least 50 stores so far this year.  The following numbers originally come from Fox Business

1. Abercrombie & Fitch: 60 stores
2. Aerosoles: 88 stores
3. American Apparel: 110 stores
4. BCBG: 118 stores
5. Bebe: 168 stores
6. The Children’s Place: hundreds of stores to be closed by 2020
7. CVS: 70 stores
8. Guess: 60 stores
9. Gymboree: 350 stores
10. HHgregg: 220 stores
11. J.Crew: 50 stores
12. JC Penney: 138 stores
13. The Limited: 250 stores
14. Macy’s: 68 stores
15. Michael Kors: 125 stores
16. Payless: 800 stores
17. RadioShack: more than 1,000 stores
18. Rue21: up to 400 stores
19. Sears/Kmart: more than 300 stores
20. Wet Seal: 171 stores

If the U.S. economy was really doing well, then why are all of these major retailers closing down locations?

Of course the truth is that the economy is not doing well.  The U.S. economy has not grown by at least 3 percent in a single year since the middle of the Bush administration, and it isn’t going to happen this year either.  Overall, the U.S. economy has grown by an average of just 1.33 percent over the last 10 years, and meanwhile U.S. stock prices are up about 250 percent since the end of the last recession.  The stock market has become completely and utterly disconnected from economic reality, and yet many Americans still believe that it is an accurate barometer for the health of the economy.

I used to do a Black Friday article every year, but I have ended that tradition.  Yes, there were still a few scuffles this year, but at this point the much bigger story is how poorly the retailers are doing.

So far this year, more than 300 retailers have filed for bankruptcy, and we are currently on pace to lose over 147 million square feet of retail space by the end of 2017.

Those are absolutely catastrophic numbers.

And some analysts are already predicting that as many as 9,000 stores could be shut down in the United States in 2018.

Are we just going to keep blaming Amazon every time another retail chain goes belly up?

What we should really be focusing on is the fact that the “retail bubble” is starting to burst.  In the aftermath of the last financial crisis, retailers went on an unprecedented debt binge, and now a lot of that debt is starting to go bad.

In fact, in a previous article I discussed the fact that “the amount of high-yield retail debt that will mature next year is approximately 19 times larger than the amount that matured this year”.  This is going to have very serious implications on Wall Street, but very few people are really talking about this.

Most stores try to stay open through Christmas, but once the holiday season is over we will see another huge wave of store closings.

And as individual stores close down, this will put a lot of financial pressure on malls and shopping centers.  Not too long ago, one report projected that up to 25 percent of all shopping malls in the entire nation could close down by 2022, but I tend to think that number is too optimistic.

The retail industry in the United States is dying, and the biggest reason for that is not Amazon.

Rather, the real reason why the retail industry is in so much trouble is because of the steady decline of the middle class.  The gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is greater than ever, and we can clearly see the impact of this in the retail world.

Retailers that serve the very wealthy are generally doing well, and those that serve the other end of the food chain (such as dollar stores and Wal-Mart) are also doing okay.

But virtually all of the retailers that depend on middle class shoppers are really struggling, and this is going to continue for the foreseeable future.

Most American families are either living paycheck to paycheck or are close to that level, and these days U.S. consumers simply do not have much discretionary income to play around with.  More hard working Americans are going to fall out of the middle class with each passing month, and that is extremely bad news for a retail industry that is literally falling apart right in front of our eyes.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Goodbye American Dream: The Average U.S. Household Is $137,063 In Debt, And 38.4% Of Millennials Live With Their Parents

Once upon a time the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world, but now the middle class is steadily being eroded.  The middle class became a minority of the population for the first time ever in 2015, and just recently I wrote about a new survey that showed that 78 percent of all full-time workers in the United States live paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.  But most people still want to live the American Dream, and so they are going into tremendous amounts of debt in a desperate attempt to live that kind of a lifestyle.

According to the Federal Reserve, the average U.S. household is now $137,063 in debt, and that figure is more than double the median household income…

The average American household carries $137,063 in debt, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest numbers.

Yet the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the median household income was just $59,039 last year, suggesting that many Americans are living beyond their means.

As a nation, we are completely and utterly drowning in debt.  U.S. consumers are now nearly 13 trillion dollars in debt overall, and many will literally spend the rest of their lives making debt payments.

Over the past couple of decades, the cost of living has grown much faster than paychecks have, and this has put a tremendous amount of financial stress on hard working families.  We are told that we are in a “low inflation environment”, but that is simply not true at all

Medical expenses have grown 57% since 2003, while food and housing costs climbed 36% and 32%, respectively. Those surging basic expenses could widen the inequality gap in America, as a quarter of Americans make less than $10 per hour.

Getting our healthcare costs under control is one of the biggest things that we need to do.  As I talked about the other day, some families have seen their health insurance premiums more than triple since Obamacare became law.

As the cost of living continues to rise, an increasing number of young people are discovering that the only way that they can make ends meet is to live with their parents.  As a result, the percentage of adults age 26 to age 34 that live at home continued to rise even after the last recession ended…

The share of older Millennials living with relatives is still rising, underscoring the lingering obstacles faced by Americans who entered the workforce during and after the Great Recession.

About 20% of adults age 26 to 34 are living with parents or other family members, a figure that has climbed steadily the past decade and is up from 17% in 2012, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by Trulia, a real estate research firm.

A staggering 59.8 percent of younger Millennials (18 to 25) are now living with relatives, and overall an all-time record 38.4 percent of all Millennials are currently living with family.

If so many of our young people are unable to live the American Dream, what is the future of this nation going to look like?

Consumers are not the only ones that have been struggling to make ends meet.  Corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, and it now stands at a record high of 8.7 trillion dollars

Fueled by low interest rates and strong investor appetite, debt of nonfinancial companies has increased at a rapid clip, to $8.7 trillion, and is equal to more than 45 percent of GDP, according to David Ader, chief macro strategist at Informa Financial Intelligence.

According to the Federal Reserve, nonfinancial corporate debt outstanding has grown by $1 trillion in two years.

“Everything is fine until it isn’t,” Ader said. “We don’t need to worry about that until we’re in a slowdown and profit declines.”

And let us not forget government debt.  State and local governments all over the nation have piled up record amounts of debt, and the debt of the federal government has approximately doubled over the past decade.

But the fact that we are now 20 trillion dollars in debt as a nation does not tell the full story.  According to Boston University professor Larry Kotlikoff, the federal government is facing a fiscal gap of 210 trillion dollars over the next 75 years…

We have all these unofficial debts that are massive compared to the official debt. We’re focused just on the official debt, so we’re trying to balance the wrong books…

If you add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, including defense expenditures, and you subtract all the taxes that we expect to collect, the difference is $210 trillion. That’s the fiscal gap. That’s our true indebtedness.

We were the wealthiest and most prosperous nation in the history of the planet, but that was never good for us.

We always had to have more, and so we have been on the greatest debt binge in human history.

Now a day of reckoning is fast approaching, and those that believe that we can escape the consequences of our actions are being extremely delusional.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Venezuela Defaults On A Debt Payment – Is This The First Domino To Fall?

Did you know that Venezuela just went into default?  This should be an absolutely enormous story, but the mainstream media is being very quiet about it.  Wall Street and other major financial centers around the globe could potentially be facing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, and the ripple effects could be felt for years to come.  Sovereign nations are not supposed to ever default on debt payments, and so this is a very rare occurrence indeed.  I have been writing about Venezuela for years, and now the crisis that has been raging in that nation threatens to escalate to an entirely new level.

Things are already so bad in Venezuela that people have been eating dogs, cats and zoo animals, but now that Venezuela has officially defaulted, there will be no more loans from the rest of the world and the desperation will grow even deeper…

Venezuela, a nation spiraling into a humanitarian crisis, has missed a debt payment. It could soon face grim consequences.

The South American country defaulted on its debt, according to a statement issued Monday night by S&P Global Ratings. The agency said the 30-day grace period had expired for a payment that was due in October.

A debt default risks setting off a dangerous series of events that could exacerbate Venezuela’s food and medical shortages.

So what might that “dangerous series of events” look like?

Well, Venezuela already has another 420 million dollars of debt payments that are overdue.  Investors around the world are facing absolutely catastrophic losses, and the legal wrangling over this crisis could take many years to resolve.  The following comes from Forbes

S&P says that it expects Venezuela to default on other bond payments. This comes as absolutely no surprise. A further $420m of bond payments are already overdue: unless Venezuela finds some dollars in a hurry, these will also go into default very soon.

S&P also warns that Venezuela could embark on a coercive debt restructuring that would in effect be default. Indeed, it has already announced its intention to do so, though as yet it has produced no plan. But we can imagine what such a debt restructuring might look like: in 2012, Greece imposed a coercive debt restructuring on private sector investors, and Argentina has restructured its dollar-denominated debt twice this century, the second time to sort out the dog’s breakfast Argentina made of the first restructuring. Investors could take substantial losses, and there would no doubt be lawsuits lasting for years. The biggest winners from distressed debt restructurings are always lawyers.

When you add this to all of the other bad news that has been coming out lately, it is easy to understand why things are starting to shift in the financial markets.

In fact, CNBC says that there is “a different tone to the markets in the last week or so”…

Another day, another down open. There’s a different tone to the markets in the last week or so.

It started last Tuesday, when an initial rally faded into a hard sell-off mid-morning. The next five trading sessions generally opened down.

Peter Tchir of Academy Securities, checked off a short list of concerns. There is progress on tax reform “but the reality is it’s not going to be as great as everyone hoped,” he said. There are questions about what the flatter yield curve means. And the recent arrests of high-ranking Saudis in an anti-corruption initiative created uncertainty in the last week and a half.

I keep writing about all of the experts that are warning of an imminent market crash, and yet most investors do not appear to be listening.

In fact, one survey found that the number of fund managers that “are taking higher-than-normal risk” is at an all-time high

According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s latest monthly fund-manager survey, which includes 206 panelists who manage $610 billion, investors are opting for the latter.

The firm finds that a record number of survey responders are taking higher-than-normal risk. That comes at a time when US stock market valuations are sitting close to their highest in history, creating a precarious situation in which investors are feeling emboldened at a time when they should be exhibiting caution.

This reminds me so much of what we have witnessed just prior to other market crashes.

During the euphoria of the original dotcom bubble, we were being told that Internet stocks would never go down because this was the beginning of an entirely new revolution.

And then investors lost trillions upon trillions of dollars when the market finally crashed.

Just prior to the financial crisis of 2008, we were being assured that there was nothing unusual going on with housing prices.

And then the market crashed and we were suddenly facing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Every bubble eventually bursts, and this one will burst too.  Those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and it is likely that more money will be lost during this coming crisis than during any other crisis in our entire history.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Why America’s Retail Apocalypse Could Accelerate Even More In 2018

Is the retail apocalypse in the United States about to go to a whole new level?  That is a frightening thing to consider, because the truth is that things are already quite bad.  We have already shattered the all-time record for store closings in a single year and we still have the rest of November and December to go.  Unfortunately, it truly does appear that things will get even worse in 2018, because a tremendous amount of high-yield retail debt is coming due next year.  In fact, Bloomberg is reporting that the amount of high-yield retail debt that will mature next year is approximately 19 times larger than the amount that matured this year…

Just $100 million of high-yield retail borrowings were set to mature this year, but that will increase to $1.9 billion in 2018, according to Fitch Ratings Inc. And from 2019 to 2025, it will balloon to an annual average of almost $5 billion. The amount of retail debt considered risky is also rising. Over the past year, high-yield bonds outstanding gained 20 percent, to $35 billion, and the industry’s leveraged loans are up 15 percent, to $152 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

Even worse, this will hit as a record $1 trillion in high-yield debt for all industries comes due over the next five years, according to Moody’s.

Can you say “debt bomb”?

For those of you that are not familiar with these concepts, high-yield debt is considered to be the riskiest form of debt.  Retailers all over the nation went on a tremendous debt binge for years, and many of those loans never should have been made.  Now that debt is going to start to come due, and many of these retailers simply will not be able to pay.

So how does that concern the rest of us?

Well, just like with the subprime mortgage meltdown, the “spillover” could potentially be enormous.  Here is more from Bloomberg

The debt coming due, along with America’s over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster. The spillover will likely flow far and wide across the U.S. economy. There will be displaced low-income workers, shrinking local tax bases and investor losses on stocks, bonds and real estate. If today is considered a retail apocalypse, then what’s coming next could truly be scary.

I have written extensively about Sears and other troubled retailers that definitely appear to be headed for zero.  But one major retailer that is flying below the radar a little bit that you should keep an eye on is Target.  For over a year, conservatives have been boycotting the retailer, and this boycott is really starting to take a toll

Target has been desperately grasping at ideas to recover lost business, including remodeling existing stores and opening smaller stores, lowering prices, hiring more holiday staff and introducing a new home line from Chip and Joanna Gaines. But Target stock remains relatively stagnant, opening at 61.50 today—certainly nowhere near the mid-80s of April 2016, when the AFA boycott began.

In the past, retailers could always count on the middle class to bail them out, but the middle class is steadily shrinking these days.  In fact, at this point one out of every five U.S. households has a net worth of zero or less.

And we must also keep in mind that we do not actually deserve the debt-fueled standard of living that we are currently enjoying.  We are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and the only way we are able to do that is by going into unprecedented amounts of debt.  The following comes from Egon von Greyerz

Total US debt in 1913 was $39 billion. Today it is $70 trillion, up 1,800X. But that only tells part of the story. There were virtually no unfunded liabilities in 1913. Today they are $130 trillion. So adding the $70 trillion debt to the unfunded liabilities gives a total liability of $200 trillion.

In 1913 US debt to GDP was 150%. Today, including unfunded liabilities, the figure becomes almost 1,000%. This is the burden that ordinary Americans are responsible for, a burden that will break the US people and the US economy as well as the dollar.

The only possible way that the game can go on is to continue to grow our debt much faster than the overall economy is growing.

Of course that is completely unsustainable, and when this debt bubble finally bursts everything is going to collapse.

We don’t know exactly when the next great financial crisis is coming, but we do know that conditions are absolutely perfect for one to erupt.  According to John Hussman, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see stock prices fall more than 60 percent from current levels…

At the root of Hussman’s pessimistic market view are stock valuations that look historically stretched by a handful of measures. According to his preferred valuation metric — the ratio of non-financial market cap to corporate gross value-added (Market Cap/GVA) — stocks are more expensive than they were in 1929 and 2000, periods that immediately preceded major market selloffs.

“US equity market valuations at the most offensive levels in history,” he wrote in his November monthly note. “We expect that more extreme valuations will only be met by more severe losses.”

Those losses won’t just include the 63% plunge referenced above — it’ll also be accompanied by a longer 10 to 12 year period over which the S&P 500 will fall, says Hussman.

A financial system that is based on a pyramid of debt will never be sustainable.  As I discuss in my new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters”, the design of our current debt-based system is fundamentally flawed, and it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and our current system is designed to create as much debt as possible.  When it inevitably fails, we need to be ready to offer an alternative, because patching together our current system and trying to re-inflate the bubble is not a real solution.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.