After eight long, bitter years under Obama, will things go better for entrepreneurs and small businesses now that Donald Trump is in the White House? Once upon a time, America was the best place in the world for those that wanted to work for themselves. Our free market capitalist system created an environment in which entrepreneurs and small businesses greatly thrived, but today they are being absolutely eviscerated by the control freak bureaucrats that dominate our political system. Year after year, leftist politicians just keep piling on more rules, more regulations, more red tape and more taxes. As a result, the number of self-employed Americans is now lower than it was in 1990…
In April 1990, 8.7 million Americans were self-employed, but today only 8.4 million Americans are self-employed.
Of course our population has grown much, much larger since that time. In 1990, there were 249 million people living in the United States, but today there are 321 million people living in this country.
What this means is that the percentage of the population that is self-employed is way down.
In fact, one study found that the percentage of Americans that are self-employed fell by more than 20 percent between 1991 and 2010.
And if you go back even farther, the numbers are even more depressing. It may be hard to believe, but the percentage of “new entrepreneurs and business owners” declined by a staggering 53 percent between 1977 and 2010.
Sometimes I like to watch a television show called Shark Tank, and on that show they make it seem like entrepreneurship in America is thriving.
But the exact opposite is actually the case. In a previous article, I discussed how the number of new businesses being created in the United States has been steadily falling over the years. According to economist Tim Kane, the number of startup jobs per one thousand Americans has been declining for several consecutive presidential administrations…
Bush Sr.: 11.3
Bush Jr.: 10.8
So why is this happening?
As I mentioned at the top of this article, self-employed Americans are being absolutely strangled by oppressive rules, regulations and taxes.
To illustrate this point, I would like to share with you some quotes from an open letter that was authored by a small business owner named Don Chernoff…
#1I work for myself and have to pay my own medical expenses. Before the “affordable care act” I was paying about $200 per month for a high deductible policy. It was far from perfect but it got so much worse under the “Affordable” care act.
I now pay over $400 a month, my deductible went from $5,000 to over $6,000 and my out of pocket costs for care have skyrocketed.
#2I have to spend dozens of hours and thousands of dollars for a tax accountant each spring to prepare my taxes because I cannot possibly understand how to do it myself, and I have a master’s degree in engineering.
#3Many years ago when I quit a perfectly good job to start my own small business, I was shocked to learn that I had to pay both my share and what had been my employer’s share of Social Security.
#4Between state, federal and local taxes you’ve probably paid 50% or more of your income in taxes, but that’s not enough for politicians.
If you’ve been lucky enough to have created a business you can sell, now you’ll get to enjoy paying another tax on the capital gain from the sale.
This is another reason why we need a conservative revolution in Washington. We should demand that our members of Congress lower tax rates dramatically, completely eliminate the self-employment tax, greatly simplify the tax code and get rid of as many regulations on small business owners as possible.
What we are doing right now is not working. Small businesses have traditionally been one of the main engines of economic growth in this country, but thanks to the left they are unable to play that role at the moment.
It isn’t an accident that over the last ten years the U.S. economy has grown at exactly the same rate as it did during the 1930s.
If we want our economy to be great again, we need to go back and start doing the things that made it great in the first place. If we continue to suffocate our economy, we will continue to get the same results.
And with each passing day, we get more signs that the economy is heading into another major downturn. For instance, we just learned that Sears is closing 30 more stores on top of the 150 that had already been announced…
Sears Holdings, which wasn’t shy when it announced at the start of the year that it is closing 150 underperforming stores, has quietly added at least 30 more to the list.
Another 12 Sears stores and 18 Kmarts are among the locations that are closing, from Carson, Calif., to Hialeah, Fla., with most scheduled to shut their doors in July, based on calls to the stores, malls and confirmation in local media.
At the start of the year, the retailer pinpointed the 150 stores it said it would close. But it declined this week to provide a list of additional locations that are slated to shut since then, saying that it update store counts each quarter.
If you’re surprised by the collapse in new home sales in April, then you’re not paying attention.
The 11.4% MoM plunge in new home sales in April was 5 standard deviations below expectations and the biggest since March 2015.
Yes, the stock market is holding up for the moment, but for most Americans the “real economy” just continues to deteriorate. Just because we are at the end of a giant financial bubble does not mean that everything is going to be okay.
The numbers that I brought up in this article are just another example of our long-term economic decline. In a healthy economy, entrepreneurs and small businesses would be thriving. But instead, they are being systematically strangled out of existence by a political system that is wildly out of control.
If anyone ever asks you how much debt there is in the world, now you will know the answer. According to the IMF, the total amount of debt around the globe has now hit a staggering 152 trillion dollars. That is an amount of money that is almost unimaginable, and the IMF says that it is equivalent to 225 percent of global GDP. It is the biggest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and it is rising at an extremely alarming pace. Experts all over the world agree that when this debt bubble finally bursts, it is going to create an economic crisis on a scale that humanity has never seen before.
When I first saw this number I was absolutely astounded at how reckless we all have become, and I was also amazed that there was hardly anything about this announcement in the mainstream media in the United States. The following excerpt comes from a story in a major British news source…
The International Monetary Fund has urged governments to take action to tackle a record $152tn debt mountain before it triggers a fresh global financial and economic crisis.
Warning that debt levels were not just high but rising, the IMF said it was vital to intervene early in order to mitigate the risks of a repeat of the damaging events that began with the collapse of the US sub-prime housing bubble almost a decade ago.
It said that new research in its half-yearly fiscal monitor covering 113 countries had shown that debt was currently 225% of global GDP, with the private sector responsible for two-thirds of the total.
Right now the mainstream media in the United States is so obsessed with Trump and Clinton that almost every other important story is pushed to the side, but it boggles my mind how this cannot be major front page news.
When we borrow money, consumption is transferred from the future to the present. For example, if you put a 70 inch television on your credit card today, the quality of your lifestyle will immediately go up, but you won’t have that money to spend at some point in the future. In fact, you are ultimately going to pay back significantly more money than you originally spent for the television.
So when we go into debt, we are literally destroying the future one dollar at a time.
On a national scale, what we are doing to our children, our grandchildren and all future generations of Americans is beyond criminal. Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers warned that government debt was simply thievery from future generations, and they were exactly right. If future generations get the chance, they will look back and curse us for what we have done to them.
Earlier today I looked up our national debt, and it is currently sitting at $19,688,773,606,117.54. That means that Barack Obama has officially become “the 9 trillion dollar man”.
When Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. government was 10.6 trillion dollars in debt, and now we are 19.6 trillion dollars in debt, and there is a very good chance that we could hit 20 trillion dollars by the time he leaves the White House on January 20th, 2017.
In a just society, the politicians that have done this to future generations of Americans would be going to jail, but instead we put them up on pedestals.
It is truly hard to grasp how much money “a trillion dollars” represents.
For instance, if you were alive when Jesus Christ was born, and you had spent a million dollars every single day since that time, you still would not have spent a trillion dollars by now.
Since Barack Obama entered the White House, we have been stealing more than 100 million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day, and as Obama’s second term draws to a close the pace of that theft is accelerating according to Simon Black…
In fact, for the 2016 fiscal year that ends in just ten more days, the US government’s debt growth of $1.36 trillion is on track to be the third biggest annual increase ever.
The only two years in all of US history that posted higher US debt growth were 2010 and 2011– the peak of the financial crisis.
Even more acutely, last month the US federal debt grew by $151.5 billion.
Not counting the financial crisis, and a few anomalous months following a debt ceiling reset, August 2016 was the single biggest expansion of US debt EVER.
How could we do this?
And I know that I have pointed the finger at Barack Obama a lot in this article, but the truth is that Republicans are highly to blame as well.
The Tea Party revolution of 2010 gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives, and since that time they have also gained control of the Senate. Without Republican approval, Barack Obama would not be able to spend a single penny. The American people were counting on the Republicans to put a lid on the wild spending of Barack Obama and the Democrats, and the Republicans in Congress have completely failed.
Nobody wants to end the party. Because without a doubt, cutting back on our wild borrowing and spending would seriously damage the economy in the present, and nobody wants to be responsible for that.
So now the only thing to do is to keep the party going for as long as possible until it ends in a horrible, fiery crash.
Overall, the total amount of debt in the United States is now roughly equivalent to 350 percent of U.S. GDP, and a day of reckoning is rapidly approaching. Just consider what Charles Schwab’s chief investment strategist, Liz Ann Sonders, recently told Business Insider…
Sonders noted that total debt — public, private, nonfinancial, and financial — had become 350% of gross domestic product, and that is already causing problems for the economy.
“The question I get all the time is: When are we going to hit the wall? When are we going to hit the debt wall?” Sonders said. “I think we hit the debt wall in ’08, which unleashed a big round one of what I think will be a rolling set of crises — and not just in the US but globally.“
And I very much agree with her.
We definitely “hit a wall” in 2008, but it was just “round one” of our problems.
The coming rounds are going to be even more painful, but most Americans don’t understand this.
Most Americans seem to believe that our debt-fueled standard of living can be sustained indefinitely and that there is nothing to be concerned about.
Unfortunately, the laws of economics cannot be defied forever, and eventually the American people are going to experience economic and financial pain on a scale that we have never seen before in our entire history.
Did you know that almost 70 percent of the U.S. population is essentially living paycheck to paycheck? As you will see below, a brand new survey has found that 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Of course one of the primary reasons for this is that most of us are absolutely drowning in debt. In fact, the total amount of household debt in the United States now exceeds 12 trillion dollars. So many Americans are so busy just trying to pay off their existing debts that they can’t even think about saving anything for the future. If economic conditions remain relatively stable, the fact that so many of us are living on the edge probably won’t kill us. But the moment the economy plunges into another 2008-style crisis (or worse), we could be facing a situation where two-thirds of the country is in imminent danger of running out of cash.
If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you live under the constant threat of your life being totally turned upside down if that paycheck ever goes away. During the last crisis, millions of Americans lost their jobs very rapidly, and because so many of them were living paycheck to paycheck all of a sudden large numbers of people couldn’t pay their mortgages. As a result, multitudes of American families went through the extremely painful process of foreclosure.
Unfortunately, it appears that we have not learned anything from the last go around. According to the brand new survey that I mentioned above, 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings…
Last year, GoBankingRates surveyed more than 5,000 Americans only to uncover that 62% of them had less than $1,000 in savings. Last month GoBankingRates again posed the question to Americans of how much they had in their savings account, only this time it asked 7,052 people. The result? Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) had less than $1,000 in their savings account.
Breaking the survey data down a bit further, we find that 34% of Americans don’t have a dime in their savings account, while another 35% have less than $1,000. Of the remaining survey-takers, 11% have between $1,000 and $4,999, 4% have between $5,000 and $9,999, and 15% have more than $10,000.
Perhaps the most alarming fact from this survey is that 62 percent of all Americans had less than $1,000 in savings last year. So that means that this number has gotten 7 percent worse over the last 12 months.
How did that happen? I thought the mainstream media was telling us that the economy was getting better…
Look, if you don’t have an emergency fund you are in danger of losing everything. This is a point that I have been making over and over again for years, and in an article about this new survey USA Today made this point very strongly as well…
This data is particularly worrisome since the recommendation is for Americans to have six months in expenses saved in case of an emergency, such as a large medical expense, car repair bill, or losing your job. Without this emergency fund to fall back on, millions of Americans could be risking financial disaster.
As the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, people are constantly asking me what they should do to get prepared for what is coming.
The number one thing that I always suggest is to build up an emergency fund.
In a chaotic situation it is always hard to anticipate accurately what is going to happen, but without a doubt we are all going to need to continue to pay our bills and to buy things for our families during the next crisis.
Yes, someday the U.S. dollar will become rather worthless, but until that happens you are going to need to continue to put a roof over the heads of your family and to put food on the table.
And you are going to need money to do those things.
Some time ago, the Federal Reserve also found that a large percentage of Americans are living on the edge of financial disaster. They discovered that 47 percent of all Americans could not even come up with $400 to pay for an unexpected emergency room visit without borrowing the money or selling something that they own.
If you can’t even come up with $400 you are really hurting, but that is the status of about half the country these days.
We are continually being told that the economy is strong, but that is simply not the truth.
In fact, it turns out that the period from 2005 to 2015 was the worst period for per capita real GDP growth in modern American history. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
Growth was unusually strong in the 1960s and early 1970s. In every year from 1966 through 1973, per-capita income was up between 30 percent and 40 percent from a decade earlier. Thus, it’s not surprising that many Americans recall this as a great period for the nation’s economy.
In every year from 1984 to 2007 — a period that economists call the Great Moderation, because of the way both growth and interest rates stabilized — per-person income was up between 20 percent and 30 percent from a decade earlier. That’s ample reason for Americans to view this as a good period for the economy.
Cumulative per-person growth from 2005 to 2015 was lower than in any prior decade in the sample. That certainly helps explain why many Americans are unhappy with the nation’s recent economic performance.
Why doesn’t Donald Trump ever bring up that amazing fact? I would think that he could get a lot of mileage out of that number.
At this point, nobody can deny that the middle class is shrinking. 61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households in 1971, but now the middle class makes up a minority of the population for the very first time in our history.
Back in 1970, the middle class brought home approximately 62 percent of all income, but today that figure has plummeted to just 43 percent.
Those that are still doing well often dismiss those that are struggling by barking out such phrases as “get a job”, but the truth is that getting a good job is not so easy these days.
The most recent statistics show that there are 7.9 million Americans that are considered to be officially unemployed. When you add that number to the 94.1 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”, you get a grand total of 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
And just because you do have a job does not mean that everything is okay. As I have discussed previously, 51 percent of all U.S. workers make less than $30,000 a year according to the Social Security Administration.
Everywhere you look things seem to be getting worse and not better. Not too long ago I documented the explosion of tent cities all over the country as poverty continues to rise, and I discussed how one study found that some young women in our impoverished inner cities are so desperate that they are actually trading sex for food.
Sadly, it isn’t just a few hard cases that we are talking about. Even in areas of the country that are supposed to be “doing well” we are seeing record-setting poverty numbers. For example, it was recently reported that the number of New Yorkers sleeping in homeless shelters just set a brand new all-time high, and the number of New York families permanently living in homeless shelters is up 60 percent over the past five years.
If things are this bad during an “economic recovery”, what are they going to look like once the economy really starts imploding?
And considering the fact that almost 70 percent of the population has virtually no savings, could our nation handle an extended economic downturn that may be even worse than what we experienced in 2008 and 2009?
As a nation we truly are living on the edge, and it isn’t going to take very much at all to push us into oblivion.
Just like during the last economic crisis, homeless encampments are popping up all over the nation as poverty grows at a very alarming rate. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than half a million people are homeless in America right now, but that figure is increasing by the day. And it isn’t just adults that we are talking about. It has been reported that that the number of homeless children in this country has risen by 60 percent since the last recession, and Poverty USA says that a total of 1.6 million children slept either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing at some point last year. Yes, the stock market may have been experiencing a temporary boom for the last couple of years, but for those on the low end of the economic scale things have just continued to deteriorate.
Tonight, countless numbers of homeless people will try to make it through another chilly night in large tent cities that have been established in the heart of major cities such as Seattle, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis. Homelessness has gotten so bad in California that the L.A. City Council has formally asked Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency. And in Portland the city has extended their “homeless emergency” for yet another year, and city officials are really struggling with how to deal with the booming tent cities that have sprung up…
There have always been homeless people in Portland, but last summer Michelle Cardinal noticed a change outside her office doors.
Almost overnight, it seemed, tents popped up in the park that runs like a green carpet past the offices of her national advertising business. She saw assaults, drug deals and prostitution. Every morning, she said, she cleaned human feces off the doorstep and picked up used needles.
“It started in June and by July it was full-blown. The park was mobbed,” she said. “We’ve got a problem here and the question is how we’re going to deal with it.”
But of course it isn’t just Portland that is experiencing this. The following list of major tent cities that have become so well-known and established that they have been given names comes from Wikipedia…
Most of the time, those that establish tent cities do not want to be discovered because local authorities have a nasty habit of shutting them down and forcing homeless people out of the area. For example, check out what just happened in Elkhart, Indiana…
A group of homeless people in Elkhart has been asked to leave the place they call home. For the last time, residents of ‘Tent City’ packed up camp.
City officials gave residents just over a month to vacate the wooded area; Wednesday being the last day to do so.
The property has been on Mayor Tim Neese’s radar since he took office in January, calling it both a safety and health hazard to its residents and nearby pedestrian traffic.
“This has been their home but you can’t live on public property,” said Mayor Tim Neese, Elkhart.
If they can’t live on “public property”, where are they supposed to go?
They certainly can’t live on somebody’s “private property”.
This is the problem – people don’t want to deal with the human feces, the needles, the crime and the other problems that homeless people often bring with them. So the instinct is often to kick them out and send them away.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t fix the problem. It just passes it on to someone else.
As this new economic downturn continues to accelerate, our homelessness boom is going to spiral out of control. Pretty soon, there will be tent cities in virtually every community in America.
In fact, there are people that are living comfortable middle class lifestyles right at this moment that will end up in tents. We saw this during the last economic crisis, and it will be even worse as this next one unfolds.
Just like last time around, the signs that the middle class is really struggling can be subtle at first, but when you learn to take note of them you will notice that they are all around you. The following comes from an excellent article in the New York Post…
Do you see grocery stores closing? Do you see other retailers, like clothing stores and department stores, going out of business?
Are there shuttered storefronts along your Main Street shopping district, where you bought a tool from the hardware store or dropped off your dry cleaning or bought fruits and vegetables?
Are you making as much money annually as you did 10 years ago?
Do you see homes in neighborhoods becoming run down as the residents either were foreclosed upon, or the owner lost his or her job so he or she can’t afford to cut the grass or paint the house?
Did that same house where the Joneses once lived now become a rental property, where new people come to live every few months?
Do you know one or two people who are looking for work? Maybe professionals, who you thought were safe in their jobs?
Don’t look down on those that are living in tents, because the truth is that many “middle class Americans” will ultimately end up joining them.
The correct response to those that are hurting is love and compassion. We all need help at some point in our lives, and I know that I am certainly grateful to those that have given me a helping hand at various points along my journey.
Sadly, hearts are growing cold all over the nation, and the weather is only going to get colder over the months ahead. Let us pray for health and safety for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that will be sleeping in tents and on the streets this winter.
In 1960, the city of Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city that the world had ever seen. Nearly two million people lived there, and it had the highest per capita income in the United States. That may be hard to believe, because today it actually has one of the lowest per capita incomes of all of our major cities. Over the decades more than a million people have left the city, and thousands of abandoned homes have been torn down. But there are still tens of thousands of abandoned dwellings that remain standing, and some have sold for as little as one dollar in recent years. Once Detroit was the envy of the entire planet, but now it has become a global joke and in other countries they love to do news stories about “the ruins of Detroit” to show how rapidly America is rotting and decaying. Sadly, Detroit is far from alone, because there are other formerly great manufacturing cities that have declined just as fast as Detroit has.
Earlier today, I came across a video that contains footage that someone recently captured as they drove through the city of Detroit at night. To say that the footage is disturbing would be a tremendous understatement…
It has become known as a mecca of violent crime and poverty, and now a viral video is giving an unpleasant view of Detroit after dark.
The clip, called Driving through Detroit at night, was filmed by a woman who was a passenger in a car going around the Motor City and was posted to Twitter at the weekend.
It shows terrifying scenes of gangs gathered on the sidewalk, prostitutes lifting up their skirts and dancing, and even a man being run over by a car on purpose.
I would have liked to share the video with you all, but it is just way too graphic. There really are prostitutes lifting up their skirts in the video, and a man really is hit by a vehicle. If you want to watch it for yourself, it is very easy to find on YouTube. But please be warned that children should not be watching this.
If you live in a peaceful rural or suburban setting, the kind of behavior displayed in this video may seem very foreign to you. In America today, it is way too easy to allow our televisions to define reality for us. But the warped view of reality that we get through our televisions is nothing like the real world. The real world is cold, cruel and very unforgiving.
If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, the real world will eat you alive.
In the city of Detroit today, close to half the population is functionally illiterate, and one survey found that 60 percent of all children in the city are living in poverty. It has been reported that 40 percent of the street lights do not work, and as you can see from the video it is a very frightening place to be after dark.
And don’t count on the police to help you. The size of the police force in Detroit has been reduced by about 40 percent over the years, and it has been estimated that it takes the Detroit police an average of 58 minutes to respond to a call.
If it was just one major city where all of these things were happening, that would be bad enough.
Sadly, the truth is that what is happening in Detroit is happening all over the nation. In fact, St. Louis and Memphis now have higher gun crime rates than Detroit does…
The listing places St Louis above the notoriously dangerous Detroit which has topped the list in previous years thanks to the city’s high gun crime rate.
Detroit is now listed as third after Memphis, Tennessee which had 84.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.
Birmingham, Alabama comes in fourth place with 82.8 violent crimes per 10,000 residents while Rockford, Illinois was fifth with a rate of 76.3.
The call log on the store stretches 126 pages, documenting more than 5,000 trips over the past five years. Last year police were called to the store and three other Tulsa Walmarts just under 2,000 times. By comparison, they were called to the city’s four Target stores about 300 times. Most of the calls to the northeast Supercenter were for shoplifting, but there’s no shortage of more serious crimes, including five armed robberies so far this year, a murder suspect who killed himself with a gunshot to the head in the parking lot last year, and, in 2014, a group of men who got into a parking lot shootout that killed one and seriously injured two others.
Police reports from dozens of stores suggest the number of petty crimes committed on Walmart properties nationwide this year will be in the hundreds of thousands.
Did you catch that?
This Bloomberg report says that there will be “hundreds of thousands” of crimes just committed at Wal-Mart stores alone this year.
If people are behaving like this while times are still relatively stable and relatively good, what would things look like during a real crisis?
Many people openly wonder what happened to Detroit, but it really isn’t much of a mystery at all.
Over the decades, our politicians have stood idly by as tens of thousands of businesses and millions of good paying jobs have left the country. Our economic infrastructure has been absolutely gutted, and as a result formerly great manufacturing cities have become rotting, decaying hellholes.
And it certainly doesn’t help that voters in many of these cities have willingly chosen to put radical leftists into power time after time.
Unfortunately, it appears that the nation as a whole is about to hand the keys to the White House to a radical leftist that has a violent temper that is absolutely legendary. If she gets into power, that might just be the final nail in our coffin.
What has already happened to Detroit is slowly happening to the entire country, but we never seem to learn from our past mistakes.
So now we will suffer the consequences for our very foolish decisions, and it will not be pretty.
Those that were hoping for an “economic renaissance” in the United States got some more bad news this week. It turns out that the U.S. economy is in significantly worse shape than the experts were projecting. Retail sales unexpectedly declined in March, total business sales have fallen again, and the inventory to sales ratio has hit the highest level since the last financial crisis. When you add these three classic recession signals to the 19 troubling numbers about the U.S. economy that I wrote about last week, it paints a very disturbing picture. Virtually all of the signs that we would expect to pop up during the early chapters of a major economic crisis have now appeared, and yet most Americans still appear to be clueless about what is happening.
Even I was surprised when the government reported that retail sales had actually fallen in March. Consumer spending is a very large part of our economy, and so if consumer spending is slowing down already that certainly does not bode well for the rest of 2016. The following comes from highly respected author Jim Quinn…
The Ivy League educated “expert” economists expected March retail sales to increase by 0.1%. They only missed by $6 billion, as retail sales FELL by 0.3%. They have fallen for three straight months. At least gasoline sales were strong, as prices have risen 22% since mid-February. That should do wonders for the finances of American households. If you exclude gasoline sales, retail sales fell by 0.4%. As the chart below reveals, the year over year change in retail sales has been at or near recessionary levels for most of 2015, and into 2016.
You can view the chart that he was referring to right here. In addition to a decline in retail sales, total business sales have also been falling, and this is another classic recession signal. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
Total business sales fell again in February, the Commerce Department reported today. They include sales by manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers of all sizes across the US economy. This measure is far broader than the aggregate sales by publicly traded companies, which too have been falling.
At $1.284 trillion in February, total business sales were down an estimated 0.4% from January, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes. And they were down 1.4% from the already beaten-down levels of February last year. They’re back where they’d first been in November 2012!
Yes, the stock market has been on quite a run for the past several weeks, but that temporary rebound is not based on the economic fundamentals.
The truth is that the real economy is definitely starting to slow down substantially. If you want to break it down very simply, less stuff is being bought and sold and shipped around the country, and that tells us far more about what is coming in the months ahead than the temporary ups and downs of stock prices.
Another huge red flag is the fact that the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has hit the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis…
The crucial inventory-to-sales ratio, which tracks how long unsold inventory sits around in relationship to sales, is now at a mind-bending 1.41. That’s the level the ratio spiked to in November 2008, after the Lehman bankruptcy in September had put the freeze on the economy.
Inventories represent prior sales by suppliers. When companies try to reduce their inventories, they cut their orders. Suppliers see these orders as sales. As their sales slump, suppliers adjust by cutting their own orders, thus causing the sales slump to propagate up the supply chain. They all react by cutting their expenses. And if it lasts, they’ll cut jobs. Inventory corrections have a nasty impact on the overall economy.
Because sales have slowed down, inventories are starting to pile up to alarmingly high levels. And when companies see that business is slowing down, they start to let people go.
Somehow, most of the talking heads on television don’t seem too alarmed by this.
But ordinary Americans are beginning to become alarmed about what is happening. In fact, the percentage of Americans that believe that the U.S. economy is “getting worse” is now the highest it has been since last August…
One of the more glaring examples of how strong pessimism has become is Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index. The measure gauges the difference between respondents who say the economy is improving or declining. The most recent results are not good.
Fully 59 percent say the economy is “getting worse” against just 37 percent who say it is “getting better.” That gap of 22 percentage points is the worst since August, according to Gallup, which polled 3,542 adults.
Personally, I thought that we would be a little further down the road by now, but without a doubt a new economic downturn has begun in America.
It’s funny – yesterday I took time out to write an article about the horrible suffering that ISIS sex slaves are enduring, and a few of my critics took that as a sign that there must not be enough bad economic news to write about.
Well, the truth is that this isn’t the case at all. The global economic meltdown is steaming along, even if it is moving just a little bit slower than many of us had originally anticipated. We are moving in the exact direction that myself and many others had warned about, and the rest of 2016 is looking quite ominous for the global economy.
So hopefully everyone (including the critics) is using whatever time we have left wisely. Because I definitely wish the very best for everyone during the exceedingly hard times that are coming.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
Mainstream news outlets are already starting to use the phrase “economic collapse” to describe what is going on in some areas of our world right now. For many Americans this may seem a bit strange, but the truth is that the worldwide economic slowdown that began during the second half of last year is starting to get a lot worse. In this article, we are going to examine evidence of this from South America, Europe, Asia and North America. Once we are done, it should be obvious that there is absolutely no reason to be optimistic about the direction of the global economy right now. The warnings of so many prominent experts are now becoming a reality, and what we have witnessed so far are just the early chapters of a crushing economic crisis that will affect every man, woman and child in the entire world.
Let’s start with Brazil. It has the 7th largest economy on the entire planet, and it is already enduring its worst recession in 25 years. In fact, at the end of last year Goldman Sachs said that what was going on down there was actually a “depression“.
But now the crisis in Brazil has escalated significantly.
I want to share with you an excerpt from a recent article entitled “Brazil: Economic collapse worse than feared“. I know, that title sounds like it comes directly from The Economic Collapse Blog, but I didn’t write it.
Amid political chaos, Brazil’s economic collapse is worse than its government once believed.
In the midst of rising calls to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s central bank announced Thursday that it now expects the country’s economy to shrink 3.5% this year.
That’s worse than the central bank’s previous estimate for a 1.9% contraction. The darker forecast matches what the International Monetary Fund projected for Brazil — Latin America’s largest country — and what many independent economists have suspected.
It is one thing for Michael Snyder to tell you that Brazil is in the midst of “economic collapse”, but it is another thing entirely for CNN to say it.
Meanwhile, things are actually much worse in Venezuela than they are in Brazil. Food and basic supplies are in short supply, the inflation rate has hit 720 percent, and crime is completely out of control.
The only question now is whether Venezuela’s government or economy will completely collapse first.
The key word there is “completely.” Both are well into their death throes. Indeed, Venezuela’s ruling party just lost congressional elections that gave the opposition a veto-proof majority, and it’s hard to see that getting any better for them any time soon — or ever.
Incumbents, after all, don’t tend to do too well when, according to the International Monetary Fund, their economy shrinks 10 percent one year, an additional 6 percent the next, and inflation explodes to 720 percent. It’s no wonder, then, that markets expect Venezuela to default on its debt in the very near future. The country is basically bankrupt.
Once again we see a very respected mainstream publication using the phrase “economic collapse” to describe what is happening in South America.
You can find some stunning video of the “economic Armageddon” that is taking place in Venezuela right here. I would encourage you to watch that video, because what is happening down there will eventually be happening here.
Finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan has called a meeting in Rome on Monday with executives from Italy’s largest financial institutions to agree final details of a “last resort” bailout plan.
Yet on the eve of that gathering, concerns remain as to whether the plan will be sufficient to ringfence the weakest of Italy’s large banks, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, from contagion, according to people involved in the talks.
Italian bank shares have lost almost half their value so far this year amid investor worries over a €360bn pile of non-performing loans — equivalent to about a fifth of GDP. Lenders’ profitability has been hit by a crippling three-year recession.
As Italy descends into financial chaos, the rest of the continent better be paying attention.
Do you remember how hard it was for the rest of Europe to rescue Greece?
Well, Greece has the 44th largest economy on the planet.
Italy has the 8th.
It would be hard to overstate the seriousness of what is going on over in Europe, and it is not just Italy we are talking about. All over the continent major banks are in deep trouble, and the chairman of France’s second largest retail bank recently told reporters that “I am much more worried than I was in 2009“.
And there is very good reason for concern. On Sunday, we learned that a major “bail-in” had just been announced for one of Austria’s most prominent banks. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
And then today, following a decision by the Austrian Banking Regulator, the Finanzmarktaufsicht or Financial Market Authority, Austria officially became the first European country to use a new law under the framework imposed by Bank the European Recovery and Resolution Directive to share losses of a failed bank with senior creditors as it slashed the value of debt owed by Heta Asset Resolution AG.
Today, the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) in its function as the resolution authority pursuant to the Bank Recovery and Resolution Act (BaSAG – Bundesgesetz über die Sanierung und Abwicklung von Banken) has issued the key features for the further steps for the resolution of HETA ASSET RESOLUTION AG. The most significant measures are:
a 100% bail-in for all subordinated liabilities,
a 53.98% bail-in, resulting in a 46.02% quota, for all eligible preferential liabilities,
the cancellation of all interest payments from 01.03.2015, when HETA was placed into resolution pursuant to BaSAG,
as well as a harmonisation of the maturities of all eligible liabilities to 31.12.2023.
According to the current resolution plan for HETA, the wind-down process should be concluded by 2020, although the repayment of all claims as well as the legally binding conclusion of all currently outstanding legal disputes will realistically only be concluded by the end of 2023. Only at that point will it be possible to finally distribute the assets and to liquidate the company.
The dominoes are starting to fall in Europe, and I would expect even bigger announcements in the weeks and months to come.
Over in Asia, economic chaos is beginning to prevail as well.
In China, the stock market is already down more than 40 percent from the peak, Chinese exports were down 25.4 percent on a year over year basis in February, and Chinese economic numbers overall have not been this poor since the depths of the last global recession.
Here in the United States, we haven’t been hit quite as hard as the rest of the world just yet, but there are lots of very disturbing warning signs all around us.
At the end of last week, we learned that it is being projected that U.S. GDP will have grown by just 0.1 or 0.2 percent during the first quarter of 2016. And on Monday corporate earnings reporting season begins, and it is expected to be a very, very bad one. The following comes from Business Insider…
We are about to get confirmation that earnings growth for America’s biggest companies was negative in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year ago.
When aluminum giant Alcoa releases its results on Monday, it will mark the unofficial start of the heaviest reporting season for S&P 500 companies.
The final scoreboard is expected to show a 9.1% earnings drop for the quarter, according to FactSet senior earnings analyst John Butters.
If these projections turn out to be accurate, it will be the fourth quarter in a row of earnings declines. This is something that we never see outside of a recession.
Of course I am just another voice in the crowd when it comes to predicting that the U.S. economy is headed for rough times. For example, just check out what Societe Generale economist Albert Edwards is saying…
A tidal wave is coming to the US economy, according to Albert Edwards, and when it crashes it’s going to throw the economy into recession.
…the profit recession facing American corporations is going to lead to a collapse in corporate credit.
“Despite risk assets enjoying a few weeks in the sun our fail-safe recession indicator has stopped flashing amber and turned to red”
Whole economy profits never normally fall this deeply without a recession unfolding. And with the US corporate sector up to its eyes in debt, the one asset class to be avoided — even more so than the ridiculously overvalued equity market — is US corporate debt. The economy will surely be swept away by a tidal wave of corporate default.
As you can see, it isn’t just one nation or one region of the world that we need to be concerned about.
Economic chaos is erupting literally all over the planet, and global leaders are starting to panic.
Unfortunately, they have had seven years to try to fix things since the last global recession, and they didn’t get the job done. Anyone that believes that by some miracle they will be able to pull us out of the fire this time and that everything will somehow be okay is simply engaged in wishful thinking.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
If a new financial crisis had already begun, we would expect to see corporate debt defaults skyrocket, and that is precisely what is happening. As you will see below, corporate defaults are currently at the highest level that we have seen since 2009. A wave of bankruptcies is sweeping the energy industry, but it isn’t just the energy industry that is in trouble. In fact, the average credit rating for U.S. corporations is now lower than it was at any point during the last recession. This is yet another sign that we are in the early chapters of a major league economic crisis. Yesterday I talked about how 23.2 percent of all Americans in their prime working years do not have a job right now, but today I am going to focus on the employers. Big corporate giants all over America are in deep, deep financial trouble, and this is going to result in a tremendous wave of layoffs in the coming months.
We should rejoice that U.S. stocks have rebounded a bit in the short-term, but the euphoria in the markets is not doing anything to stop the wave of corporate defaults that is starting to hit Wall Street like a freight train. Zero Hedge is reporting that we have not seen this many corporate defaults since the extremely painful year of 2009…
While many were looking forward to the weekend in last week’s holiday-shortened week for some overdue downtime, the CEOs of five, mostly energy, companies had nothing but bad news for their employees and shareholders: they had no choice but to throw in the towel and file for bankruptcy.
And, as Bloomberg reports, with last week’s five defaults, the 2016 to date total is now 31, the highest since 2009 when there were 42 company defaults, according to Standard & Poor’s. Four of the defaults in the week ended March 23 were by U.S. issuers including UCI Holdings Ltd. and Peabody Energy Corp., the credit rating company said.
And by all indications, what we have seen so far is just the beginning. According to Wolf Richter, the average rating on U.S. corporate debt is already lower than it was at any point during the last financial crisis…
Credit rating agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s, are not known for early warnings. They’re mired in conflicts of interest and reluctant to cut ratings for fear of losing clients. When they finally do warn, it’s late and it’s feeble, and the problem is already here and it’s big.
So Standard & Poor’s, via a report by S&P Capital IQ, just warned about US corporate borrowers’ average credit rating, which at “BB,” and thus in junk territory, hit a record low, even “below the average we recorded in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 credit crisis.”
What all of this tells us is that we are in the early stages of an absolutely epic financial meltdown.
Meanwhile, we continue to get more indications that the real economy is slowing down significantly. According to the Atlanta Fed, U.S. GDP growth for the first quarter is now expected to come in at just 0.6 percent, and Moody’s Analytics is projecting a similar number…
First-quarter growth is now tracking at just 0.9 percent, after new data showed surprising weakness in consumer spending and a wider-than-expected trade gap.
According to the CNBC/Moody’s Analytics rapid update, economists now see the sluggish growth pace based on already reported data, down from 1.4 percent last week.
We are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble the world has ever experienced. For decades, the United States has been running up government debt, corporate debt and consumer debt. Our trade deficits have been bigger than anything the world has ever seen before, and our massively inflated standard of living was funded by an ever increasing pile of IOUs. I love how Doug Noland described this in his recent piece…
With U.S. officials turning their backs on financial excesses, Bubble Dynamics and unrelenting Current Account Deficits, I expected the world to lose its appetite for U.S. financial claims. After all, how long should the world be expected to trade real goods and services for endless U.S. IOUs?
As it turned out, rather than acting to discipline the profligate U.S. Credit system, the world acquiesced to Bubble Dynamics. No one was willing to be left behind. Along the way it was learned that large reserves of U.S. financial assets were integral to booming financial inflows and attendant domestic investment and growth. The U.S. has now run persistently large Current Account Deficits for going on 25 years.
Seemingly the entire globe is now trapped in a regime of unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus required to levitate a world with unmatched debt and economic imbalances. History has seen nothing comparable. And I would strongly argue that the consequences of Bubbles become much more problematic over time. The longer excesses persist the deeper the structural impairment.
As this bubble bursts, we are going to endure a period of adjustment unlike anything America has ever known before. I talk about the pain coming to America in my new book entitled “The Rapture Verdict” which is currently the #1 new release in Christian eschatology on Amazon.com. To be honest, I don’t know if any of us really understands the horror that is coming to this nation in the years ahead. None of us have ever experienced anything similar to it, so we don’t really have a frame of reference to imagine what it will be like.
This spike in corporate debt defaults is a major league red flag. Since the last financial crisis, our big corporations went on a massive debt binge, and now they are starting to pay the price.
We never seem to learn from the errors of the past. Instead of learning our lessons the last time around, we just went out and made even bigger mistakes.
I am afraid that history is going to judge us rather harshly.
Those that are waiting for the next great financial crisis to begin can quit waiting, because it is already happening right in front of our eyes.
If you believe that the temporary rebound of U.S. stocks is somehow going to change the trajectory of where things are heading, you are going to end up deeply, deeply disappointed.
The 7th largest economy on the entire planet, Brazil, has been gripped by a horrifying recession, as has much of the rest of South America. But it isn’t just South America that is experiencing a very serious economic downturn. We have just learned that Japan (the third largest economy in the world) has lapsed into recession. So has Canada. So has Russia. The dominoes are starting to fall, and it looks like the global economic crisis that has already started is going to accelerate as we head into the end of the year. At this point, global trade is already down about 8.4 percent for the year, and last week the Baltic Dry Shipping Index plummeted to a brand new all-time record low. Unfortunately for all of us, the Federal Reserve is about to do something that will make this global economic slowdown even worse.
Throughout 2015, the U.S. dollar has been getting stronger. That sounds like good news, but the truth is that it is not. When the last financial crisis ended, emerging markets went on a debt binge unlike anything we have ever seen before. But much of that debt was denominated in U.S. dollars, and now this is creating a massive problem. As the U.S. dollar has risen, the prices that many of these emerging markets are getting for the commodities that they export have been declining. Meanwhile, it is taking much more of their own local currencies to pay back and service all of the debts that they have accumulated. Similar conditions contributed to the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, the Asian currency crisis of the 1990s and the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.
Many Americans may be wondering when “the next economic crisis” will arrive, but nobody in Brazil is asking that question. Thanks to the rising U.S. dollar, Brazil has already plunged into a very deep recession…
As Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff combats a slumping economy and corruption accusations, the country’s inflation surged above 10 percent while unemployment jumped to 7.9 percent, according to the latest official data. The dour state of affairs has Barclays forecasting a 4 percent economic contraction this year, followed by 3.3 percent shrinkage next year, the investment bank said in a research note last week.
The political and economic turmoil has recently driven the real, Brazil’s currency, to multiyear lows, a factor helping to stoke price pressures.
And as I mentioned above, Brazil is far from alone. This is something that is happening all over the planet, and the process appears to be accelerating. One of the places where this often first shows up is in the trade numbers. The following comes from an article that was just posted by Zero Hedge…
“This market is looking like a disaster and the rates are a reflection of that,” warns one of the world’s largest shipbrokers, but while The Baltic Dry Freight Index gets all the headlines – having collapsed to all-time record lows this week – it is the spefics below that headline that are truly terrifying. At a time of typical seasonal strength for freight and thus global trade around the world, Reuters reports that spot rates for transporting containers from Asia to Northern Europe have crashed a stunning 70% in the last 3 weeks alone. This almost unprecedented divergence from seasonality has only occurred at this scale once before… 2008! “It is looking scary for the market and it doesn’t look like there is going to be any life in the market in the near term.”
Many “experts” seem mystified by all of this, but the explanation is very simple.
For years, global economic growth was fueled by cheap U.S. dollars. But since the end of QE, the U.S. dollar has been surging, and according to Bloomberg it just hit a 12 year high…
The dollar traded near a seven-month high against the euro before the release of minutes of the Federal Reserve’s October meeting, when policy makers signaled the potential for an interest-rate increase this year.
A trade-weighted gauge of the greenback is at the highest in 12 years as Fed Chair Janet Yellen and other policy makers have made numerous pronouncements in the past month that it may be appropriate to boost rates from near zero at its Dec. 15-16 gathering. The probability the central bank will act next month has risen to 66 percent from 50 percent odds at the end of October.
But even though the wonks at the Federal Reserve supposedly know the damage that a strong dollar is already doing to the global economy, they seem poised to make things even worse by raising interest rates in December…
Most Federal Reserve policymakers agreed last month that the economy “could well” be strong enough in December to withstand the Fed’s first Interest rate hike in nearly a decade, according to minutes of its meeting Oct. 27-28.
The officials said global troubles had eased and a delay could increase market uncertainty and undermine confidence in the economy.
The meeting summary provides the clearest evidence yet that a majority of Fed policymakers are leaning toward raising the central bank’s benchmark rate next month, assuming the economy continues to progress.
Considering the tremendous amount of damage that has already been done to the global economy, this is one of the stupidest things that they could possibly do.
But it looks like they are going to do it anyway.
It has been said that those that refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
And right now so many of the exact same patterns that we saw just before the great financial crisis of 2008 are playing out once again right in front of our eyes.
A lot of people out there seem to assume that once we got past the September/October time frame that we were officially out of “the danger zone”.
But that is not true at all.
The truth is that we have already entered a new global economic downturn that is rapidly accelerating, and the financial shaking that we witnessed in August was just a foreshock of what is coming next.
Let us hope that common sense prevails and the Fed chooses not to raise interest rates at their next meeting.
Because if they do, it will just make the global crisis that is now emerging much, much worse.
I was absolutely stunned to learn that the Baltic Dry Shipping Index had plummeted to a new all-time record low of 504 at one point on Thursday. I have written a number of articles lately about the dramatic slowdown in global trade, but I didn’t realize that things had gotten quite this bad already. Not even during the darkest moments of the last financial crisis did the Baltic Dry Shipping Index drop this low. Something doesn’t seem to be adding up, because the mainstream media keeps telling us that the global economy is doing just fine. In fact, the Federal Reserve is so confident in our “economic recovery” that they are getting ready to raise interest rates. Of course the truth is that there is no “economic recovery” on the horizon. In fact, as I wrote about yesterday, there are signs all around us that are indicating that we are heading directly into another major economic crisis. This staggering decline of the Baltic Dry Shipping Index is just another confirmation of what is directly ahead of us.
Overall, the Baltic Dry Index is down more than 60 percent over the past 12 months. Global demand for shipping is absolutely collapsing, and yet very few “experts” seem alarmed by this. If you are not familiar with the Baltic Dry Shipping Index, the following is a pretty good definition from Investopedia…
A shipping and trade index created by the London-based Baltic Exchange that measures changes in the cost to transport raw materials such as metals, grains and fossil fuels by sea. The Baltic Exchange directly contacts shipping brokers to assess price levels for a given route, product to transport and time to delivery (speed).
The Baltic Dry Index is a composite of three sub-indexes that measure different sizes of dry bulk carriers (merchant ships) – Capesize, Supramax and Panamax. Multiple geographic routes are evaluated for each index to give depth to the index’s composite measurement.
It is also known as the “Dry Bulk Index”.
Much of the decline of the Baltic Dry Shipping Index is being blamed on China. The following comes from a Bloomberg report that was posted on Thursday…
The cost of shipping commodities fell to a record, amid signs that Chinese demand growth for iron ore and coal is slowing, hurting the industry’s biggest source of cargoes.
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping rates for everything from coal to ore to grains, fell to 504 points on Thursday, the lowest data from the London-based Baltic Exchange going back to 1985. Among the causes of shipowners’ pain is slowing economic growth in China, which is translating into weakening demand for imported iron ore that’s used to make the steel.
So many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed back in 2008 are playing out once again in front of our very eyes. Below, I have shared a chart that was posted by Zero Hedge, and it shows how the Baltic Dry Shipping Index absolutely collapsed in 2008 as we headed into a major financial crisis. Well, now the Index is collapsing again, and it is already lower than it was at any point back in 2008…
The evidence continues to mount that we are steamrolling toward a deflationary economic slowdown that is worldwide in scope.
Just look at the price of U.S. oil. It just keeps on falling, and as I write this article it is sitting at $40.40.
The price of oil collapsed just before the financial crisis of 2008, and the same pattern is happening again.
And look at what is happening to commodities. The Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB Commodity Index has plummeted to the lowest level that we have seen since the last recession. It is now down more than 30 percent over the past 12 months, and it continues to fall.
So don’t be fooled by the temporary “stock market recovery” that we have witnessed. The underlying economic fundamentals continue to decline. We are entering a global deflationary recession, and the stock market will get the memo at some point just like we saw in 2008.
At this moment, global financial markets are teetering on the brink, and all it is going to take is some kind of major trigger event to send them tumbling over the edge.
And such an event may be coming sooner than you may think.
It wouldn’t take much to push the financial world into full-blown panic mode. A major regional war in the Middle East, a terror attack that kills thousands, or an earthquake or volcanic eruption that affects a large U.S. city are all potential examples of “black swan events” which could fit the bill.
The global financial system has never been more primed for another 2008-style crisis. Thanks to the fragility of the system, it could literally happen any day now.
So keep your eyes open – within weeks our world could be completely and totally different.