17 Signs That A Full-Blown Economic Depression Is Raging In Southern Europe – Is The U.S. Next?

17 Signs That A Full-Blown Economic Depression Is Raging In Southern Europe - Photo by GgiaWhen you get into too much debt, eventually really bad things start to happen.  This is a very painful lesson that southern Europe is learning right now, and it is a lesson that the United States will soon learn as well.  It simply is not possible to live way beyond your means forever.  You can do it for a while though, and politicians in the U.S. and in Europe keep trying to kick the can down the road and extend the party, but the truth is that debt is a very cruel master and at some point it inevitably catches up with you.  And when it catches up with you, the results can be absolutely devastating.  Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal all tried to just slow down the rate at which their government debts were increasing, and look at what happened to their economies.  In each case, GDP is shrinking, unemployment is skyrocketing, credit is freezing up and manufacturing is declining.  And you know what?  None of those countries has even gotten close to a balanced budget yet.  They are all still going into even more debt.  Just imagine what would happen if they actually tried to only spend the money that they brought in?

I have always said that the next wave of the economic collapse would start in Europe and that is exactly what is happening.  So keep watching Europe.  What is happening to them will eventually happen to us.

The following are 17 signs that a full-blown economic depression is raging in southern Europe…

#1 The Italian economy is in the midst of a horrifying “credit crunch” that is causing thousands of companies to go bankrupt…

Confindustria, the business federation, said 29pc of Italian firms cannot meet “operational expenses” and are starved of liquidity. A “third phase of the credit crunch” is underway that matches the shocks in 2008-2009 and again in 2011.

In a research report the group said the economy was caught in a “vicious circle” where banks are too frightened to lend, driving more companies over the edge. A thousand are going bankrupt every day.

#2 During the 4th quarter of 2012, the unemployment rate in Greece was 26.4 percent.  That was 2.6 percent higher than the third quarter of 2012, and it was 5.7 percent higher than the fourth quarter of 2011.

#3 During the 4th quarter of 2012, the youth unemployment rate in Greece was 57.8 percent.

#4 The unemployment rate in Spain has reached 26 percent.

#5 In Spain there are 107 unemployed workers for every available job.

#6 The unemployment rate in Italy is now 11.7 percent.  That is the highest that it has been since Italy joined the euro.

#7 The youth unemployment rate in Italy has risen to a new all-time record high of 38.7 percent.

#8 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has reached a new all-time high of 11.9 percent.

#9 Italy’s economy is starting to shrink at a frightening pace

Data from Italy’s national statistics institute ISTAT showed that the country’s economy shrank by 0.9pc in the fourth quarter of last year and gross domestic product was down a revised 2.8pc year-on-year.

#10 The Greek economy is contracting even faster than the Italian economy is…

Greece also sank further into recession during the fourth quarter of 2012, with figures on Monday showing the economy contracted by 5.7pc year-on-year.

#11 Overall, the Greek economy has contracted by more than 20 percent since 2008.

#12 Manufacturing activity is declining just about everywhere in Europe except for Germany

Research group Markit said its index of activity in UK manufacturing – where 50 is the cut off between growth and decline – sank from 50.5 in January to 47.9 in February. It left Britain on the brink of a third recession in five years after the economy shrank by 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2012.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said: ‘This represents a major setback to hopes that the UK economy can return to growth in the first quarter and avoid a triple-dip recession.’

The eurozone manufacturing index also read 47.9. Germany scored 50.3 but Spain hit 46.8, Italy 45.8 and France 43.9.

#13 The percentage of bad loans in Italian banks has risen to 12.2 percent.  Back in 2007, that number was sitting at just 4.5 percent.

#14 Bank deposits experienced significant declines all over Europe during the month of January.

#15 Private bond default rates are soaring all over southern Europe…

S&P said the default rate for Italian non-investment grade bonds jumped to 9.5pc last year from 5.7pc in 2012 as local banks shut off funding. It was even worse in Spain, doubling to 14.3pc.

The default rate in France rocketed from 0.8pc to 8.7pc, the latest in a blizzard of bad news from the country as the delayed effects of tax rises, fiscal tightening, and the strong euro do their worst.

#16 Lars Feld, a key economic adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, recently said the following

“The sustainability of Italian public finances is in jeopardy. The euro crisis will therefore return shortly with a vengeance.”

#17 Things have gotten so bad in Greece that the Greek government plans to sell off 28 state-owned buildings – including the main police headquarters in Athens.

One of the few politicians in Europe that actually understands what is happening in Europe is Nigel Farage.  A video of one of his recent rants is posted below.  Farage believes that “the Eurozone has been a complete economic disaster” and that the worst is yet to come…

Most people believe that the eurozone has been “saved”, but that is not even close to the truth.

In fact, it becomes more likely that we will see the eurozone break up with each passing day.

So who would leave first?

Well, recently there have been rumblings among some German politicians that Greece should be the first to leave.  The following is from a recent Reuters article

Greece remains the biggest risk for the euro zone despite a calming of its economic and political crisis and may still have to leave the common currency, a senior conservative ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

But there is also a chance that Germany could eventually be the first nation that decides to leave the euro.  In fact, a new political party is forming in Germany that is committed to getting Germany out of the euro.  The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

A new party led by economists, jurists, and Christian Democrat rebels will kick off this week, calling for the break-up of monetary union before it can do any more damage.

“An end to this euro,” is the first line on the webpage of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). “The introduction of the euro has proved to be a fatal mistake, that threatens the welfare of us all. The old parties are used up. They stubbornly refuse to admit their mistakes.”

They propose German withdrawl from EMU and return to the D-Mark, or a breakaway currency with the Dutch, Austrians, Finns, and like-minded nations. The French are not among them. The borders run along the ancient line of cleavage dividing Latins from Germanic tribes.

However this all plays out, the reality is that things are about to get much more interesting in Europe.

No debt bubble lasts forever.  The Europeans are finding that out right now, and the U.S. won’t be too far behind.

But for the moment, most Americans assume that everything is going to be okay because the Dow keeps setting new all-time record highs.

Well, enjoy this little bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity while you can, because it won’t last for long.

A massive wake up call is coming, and it will be exceedingly painful for those that are not ready for it.

Greek Economic Riot - Photo by Ggia

The Mississippi River Is Drying Up

The worst drought in more than 50 years is having a devastating impact on the Mississippi River.  The Mississippi has become very thin and very narrow, and if it keeps on dropping there is a very real possibility that all river traffic could get shut down.  And considering the fact that approximately 60 percent of our grain, 22 percent of our oil and natural gas, and and one-fifth of our coal travel down the Mississippi River, that would be absolutely crippling for our economy.  It has been estimated that if all Mississippi River traffic was stopped that it would cost the U.S. economy 300 million dollars a day.  So far most of the media coverage of this historic drought has focused on the impact that it is having on farmers and ranchers, but the health of the Mississippi River is also absolutely crucial to the economic success of this nation, and right now the Mississippi is in incredibly bad shape.  In some areas the river is already 20 feet below normal and the water is expected to continue to drop.  If we have another 12 months of weather ahead of us similar to what we have seen over the last 12 months then the mighty Mississippi is going to be a complete and total disaster zone by this time next year.

Most Americans simply do not understand how vitally important the Mississippi River is to all of us.  If the Mississippi River continues drying up to the point where commercial travel is no longer possible, it would be an absolutely devastating blow to the U.S. economy.

Unfortunately, vast stretches of the Mississippi are already dangerously low.  The following is an excerpt from a transcript of a CNN report that aired on August 14th….

You might think this is some kind of desert just outside of Memphis. It’s not. I’m actually standing on the exposed bottom of the Mississippi River. That’s how dramatic the drought impact is being felt here. Hard to believe, a year ago we were talking about record flooding. Now, they are worried about a new kind of record: a record low. The river was three miles wide here, it’s now down to three tenths of a mile. And that’s causing all kinds of problems. There are some benefits, I mean, take a look over here: new beach front. In fact, some quip that now the Mississippi River has more beaches than the entire state of Florida, which would be funny if it didn’t have an impact on trade.

A lot of stuff we use goes up and down the Mississippi River. We are talking steel, coal, ore, grain. The problem is now a lot of those barges have had to lighten their loads, and even doing that, they are still running aground. There is a real fear that there could be a possibility of closing the Mississippi River. If that happens, well, all that product that used to be carried cheaply by barge is now going to be carried more expensively by truck or train. And guess who is going to pay for all of that.

You can see video footage of what is happening along the Mississippi right here.

It really is amazing that last year we were talking about historic flooding along the Mississippi and this year we are talking about the Mississippi possibly drying up.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some areas along the river that are already 20 feet below normal levels.  The following is from a recent article posted on inquisitr.com….

Just outside of Memphis the river is 13 feet below normal depth while the National Weather Service says Vicksburg, Mississippi is 20 feet below normal levels. Overall the Mississippi is 13 feet below normal averages for this time of year.

The drying up river is forcing barge, tugboat and towboat operators to navigate narrower and more shallow spots in the river, slowing their speeds as they pass dangerously close to one another. In some parts of the Mississippi the river is so narrow that one-way traffic is being utilized.

A lot of barges have been forced to go with greatly reduced loads so that they will sit higher in the river, and other commercial craft have been forced to stop operating completely.

For example, the Mississippi has dropped so low at this point that the famous American Queen Steamboat can no longer safely navigate the river.

Down south, the Mississippi River has gotten so low that saltwater is actually starting to move upriver.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is fighting hard to keep that contained.

Other waterways in the middle part of the country are in even worse shape.

For example, a 100 mile stretch of the Platte River has already dried up.  Millions of fish are dying as rivers and streams all over the country continue to get shallower and warmer as a result of the ongoing drought.

The last time the condition of the Mississippi River was this bad was back in 1988.  At that time, a lot of barge traffic was stopped completely and the shipping industry lost approximately a billion dollars.

If a similar thing were to happen now, the consequences could potentially be far worse.

As I wrote about recently, a standstill along the Mississippi would cost the U.S. economy about 300 million dollars a day.

In fact, one towing company that works on the Mississippi says that it has already been losing about $500,000 a month since May.

In the end, who is going to pay for all of this?

You and I will.

In fact, this crisis could end up costing American consumers a whole lot of money….

So here’s the math. If you want to raise the average barge one inch above the water, you’ve got to take off 17-tons of cargo. To raise it a foot, you’re talking 200 tons.

And since, according to the American Waterways Operators, moving cargo by river is $11 a ton cheaper than by train or truck. The more that now has to be moved on land, well, the more the costs go up. Steven Barry says, “And, eventually, the consumer’s gonna pay that price somewhere along the line.”

And considering the fact that we are already facing a potential food crisis due to the drought, the last thing we need is for the Mississippi River to dry up.

So is there any hope on the horizon for the Mississippi?

Unfortunately, things do not look promising.

The fall and the winter are typically drier than the summer is along the Mississippi River.  That means that conditions along the river could actually get even worse in the months ahead.  The following is from a recent Time Magazine article….

But without significant rainfall, which isn’t in any long-range forecasts, things are likely to get worse. As summer turns to fall, the weather tends to get drier. Lower temperatures generally mean fewer thunderstorms and less rainfall.

“Take away the thunderstorm mechanism and you run into more serious problems,” says Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com. And while droughts tend to be a temporary setback, longer-range forecasts are troublesome. Sosnowski says he is anticipating an El Niño weather pattern next year, which would mean below-normal snowfall and above-average temperatures.

Let us hope and pray that we don’t see another 12 months similar to the 12 months that we have just been through.

The U.S. economy is already in bad enough shape.

We don’t need any more major problems on top of what we are already dealing with.

So what do you think about this?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!