The federal government uses very carefully manipulated numbers to cover up the crushing economic depression that is going on in this nation. For the month of September, the federal government told us that 142,000 jobs were added to the economy. If that was actually true, that would barely be enough to keep up with population growth. Sadly, the truth is that the real numbers were actually far worse than that. The unadjusted numbers show that the U.S. economy actually lost 248,000 jobs in September and the government added more than a million Americans to the “not in the labor force” category. When I first saw that number I truly believed that it was inaccurate. But you can find the raw figures right here. According to the Obama administration, there are currently 7.9 million Americans that are “officially unemployed” and another 94.7 million working age Americans that are “not in the labor force”. That gives us a grand total of 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
That is not an economic recovery – that is an economic depression of an almost unbelievable magnitude.
This is something that my friend Mac Slavo pointed out the other day. I encourage you to read his analysis right here. If we measured unemployment the way that we did decades ago, we would all be talking about how similar Obama’s economy is to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
But instead we let the feds get away with feeding us this completely fraudulent “5.1 percent” unemployment number and most of us believe the mainstream media when they tell us that everything is just fine.
Well no, everything is not just fine. At this point, the labor force participation rate is the lowest that it has been since 1977. And the labor force participation rate for men is at the lowest level ever recorded. The only way that the federal government has been able to get the official unemployment rate to go down so much is by pretending that hundreds of thousands of Americans that have been unemployed for a very long time “leave the labor force” each month.
The chart posted below shows how our labor force participation rate has deteriorated since the year 2000. And in particular, the decline since Obama first entered the White House has been very striking. Does this look like a “healthy economy” to you?…
To me, the civilian employment-population ratio is a far more accurate measurement of the employment picture in America than the official unemployment rate is. Just prior to the last recession, approximately 63 percent of all working age Americans had a job. During that recession, that figure slipped below 59 percent and it stayed there for several years. Just recently it slipped back above 59 percent, but as you can see we are now falling once again…
The reason this number is falling is because lots of Americans have been losing jobs lately.
In fact, we are seeing layoffs at major firms at a level that we have not witnessed since 2009…
The jobs report today has been described as “ugly,” though it certainly didn’t, or shouldn’t have, come out of the blue: Layoffs in the energy, Big Tech, retail, and other sectors have recently mucked up our rosy scenario.
“The third quarter ended with a surge in job cuts,” is how Challenger Gray, which tracks these things, started out its report yesterday. In September, large US-based companies had announced 58,877 layoffs. In the third quarter, they announced 205,759 layoffs, the worst quarter since the 240,233 in the third quarter of 2009!
Year-to-date, we’re at nearly half a million job cut announcements (493,431 to be precise), up 36% from the same period last year.
Some of the companies that have recently announced layoffs include Wal-Mart, RadioShack, Delta, Sprint, ConAgra, Caterpillar, Bank of America, Halliburton, Qualcomm, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.
If you need to find a job or you plan to switch jobs in the near future, time is of the essence. Jobs are going to become much, much harder to find in the months ahead, and so every single day of job searching is absolutely critical at this point.
Right now, there are more than 100 million Americans that get some sort of assistance from the federal government every month. Government dependence is at a level that we have never seen before in U.S. history, and it is going to get a lot worse.
If we get to a point where the government is either unwilling or unable to take care of all of these people, we are going to have a massive societal problem on our hands. More than a third of the people living in our nation cannot independently take care of themselves, and more Americans are falling out of the middle class every single day. When the welfare state starts breaking down, the chaos that will ensue will be far worse than most people would dare to imagine.
So what do you think?
Are job losses and layoffs starting to happen in your area?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…
As Greece plunges even deeper into economic chaos, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says that his government is prepared to respond to the demands of the EU and the IMF with “the great no” and that his party will accept responsibility for whatever consequences follow. Despite years of intervention from the rest of Europe, Greece is a bigger economic mess today than ever. Greek GDP has shrunk by 26 percent since 2008, the national debt to GDP ratio in Greece is up to a staggering 175 percent, and the unemployment rate is up above 25 percent. Greek stocks are crashing and Greek bond yields are shooting into the stratosphere. Meanwhile, the banking system is essentially on life support at this point. 400 million euros were pulled out of Greek banks on Monday alone. No matter what happens in the coming days, many believe that it is now only a matter of time before capital controls like we saw in Cyprus are imposed.
Over the past several months, there have been endless high level meetings over in Europe regarding this Greek crisis, but none of them have fixed anything. And even Jeroen Dijsselbloem admits that the odds of anything being accomplished during the meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Thursday is “very small”…
Some officials believe Thursday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers will be perhaps the last chance to stop Greece sliding into default and towards leaving the euro.
However the president of the so-called Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said the chance of an accord was “very small”.
And it is certainly not just Dijsselbloem that feels this way. At this point pretty much everyone is resigned to the fact that there is not going to be a deal any time soon. The following comes from Reuters…
“People are getting anxious on both sides. Athens expects Brussels to move. And Brussels expects Athens to move. And it’s stuck,” said a senior EU diplomat, who declined to be named.
“It’s very dangerous, and we may have an accident.”
EU officials insist that it is Greece that needs to back down, but the Greeks have no intention of backing down. Just consider the words of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He says that he is not afraid to deliver “the great no” to the rest of Europe…
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he’s ready to assume responsibility for the consequences of rejecting an unfair deal with creditors.
In a sign that he’s being taken at his word, officials from the Netherlands, Portugal and Germany said they were bracing for a breakdown in talks that could roil the currency bloc.
With a viable solution “the Greek government recently elected by the Greek people will bear the cost of carrying through,” Tsipras told reporters in Athens on Wednesday. Without one, “we will assume the responsibility to say ‘the great no’ to a continuation of the catastrophic policies.”
To me, that sounds like a man that is not going to back down. And to call it “the great no” is not an exaggeration at all. I think that he realizes that this “great no” will unleash financial chaos all over Europe.
For Greece, the consequences would likely be catastrophic. At least that is what the Bank of Greece thinks…
Failure to reach an agreement would, on the contrary, mark the beginning of a painful course that would lead initially to a Greek default and ultimately to the country’s exit from the euro area and – most likely – from the European Union. A manageable debt crisis, as the one that we are currently addressing with the help of our partners, would snowball into an uncontrollable crisis, with great risks for the banking system and financial stability. An exit from the euro would only compound the already adverse environment, as the ensuing acute exchange rate crisis would send inflation soaring.
All this would imply deep recession, a dramatic decline in income levels, an exponential rise in unemployment and a collapse of all that the Greek economy has achieved over the years of its EU, and especially its euro area, membership. From its position as a core member of Europe, Greece would see itself relegated to the rank of a poor country in the European South.
And no matter how confident the Germans appear to be right now, the truth is that a Greek debt default would be a complete and total nightmare for the rest of Europe as well. The euro would drop like a rock, stocks would crash all over Europe and bond yields would go crazy. And that is just for starters.
So we desperately need to see a deal. But with each passing day that seems less and less likely.
In fact, a Greek parliament committee on public debt just released a new report containing their preliminary findings. This report is not legally binding, but it does show the mood of the Greek parliament, and what this report says is absolutely stunning. It concluded that the Greek government is under absolutely no obligation to repay its debts. Just check out the following excerpt from the report…
All the evidence we present in this report shows that Greece not only does not have the ability to pay this debt, but also should not pay this debt first and foremost because the debt emerging from the Troika’s arrangements is a direct infringement on the fundamental human rights of the residents of Greece. Hence, we came to the conclusion that Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate, and odious.
In other words, what this report is saying is that the Greek government should never pay back any of this debt. That certainly is not going to sit well with the officials from the EU and the IMF.
And what happens if other financially troubled nations in the eurozone decide that their debts are “illegal” and “odious” as well?
Globally, there are more than 76 trillion dollars worth of bonds floating around out there, and the yields on those bonds are based on the assumption that they will always be paid off. If nations such as Greece start defaulting, that will throw the entire global financial system into a state of tremendous chaos.
Of course the Greek financial system is already in a state of tremendous chaos. At this point, many believe that it is just a matter of time before capital controls are imposed. This is something that I have warned about in the past. The following description of what capital controls in Greece may look like comes from Bloomberg…
No one knows the specifics for Greece, but here’s what happened in Cyprus: ATM withdrawals were capped at 300 euros a person per day. Transfers of more than 5,000 euros abroad were subject to approval by a special committee. Companies needed documents for each payment order, with approvals for over 200,000 euros determined by available liquidity. Parents couldn’t send children that were studying abroad more than 5,000 euros a quarter. Cypriots traveling abroad could carry no more than 1,000 euros with them. Termination of fixed-term deposits was prohibited, while payments with credit and debit cards were capped at 5,000 euros. Checks couldn’t be cashed.
Since most Greeks do not want to have their money trapped in the banks, they have been pulling out cash and hiding it at home at a record breaking pace. This is precisely what we would expect to see when a nation is on the verge of total financial collapse…
“Everybody’s doing it,” said Joanna Christofosaki, in front of a Eurobank cash dispenser in the leafy Athens neighbourhood of Kolonaki. “Our friends have all done it. Nobody wants their money to be worthless tomorrow. Nobody wants to be unable to get at it.”
A researcher in the archaeology department at the Academy of Athens, Christofosaki said she knew plenty of people who had “€10,000 somewhere at home” and plenty of others who chose to keep their stash at the office. Was she among them? “If I was, I certainly wouldn’t tell you.”
As I wrote about yesterday, I believe that this is the beginning of the next great European financial crisis.
Eventually, it will spread all over the planet.
Unfortunately, even though global debt levels have never been higher and the signs of the coming financial implosion are all around us, most people have been lulled into a false sense of security.
Most people just assume that everything is going to turn out okay somehow.
The second half of this year is going to be much different from the first half, but most people will not be convinced until everything starts completely falling apart.
By then, it may be far too late to do anything about it.
What do we need to do in order to prepare for the coming economic collapse? Are there practical steps that we can take right now that will help us and our families survive the economic depression that is approaching? As the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, I get asked these kinds of questions a lot. Once people become convinced that an economic collapse is coming, they want to know what they should do. And so in this article I am going to share some key pieces of advice from some of the top experts in the entire country. If you are not convinced that economic disaster is on the way, this article might not be for you. Instead, I would encourage you to go to my website where you will find more than 1,200 articles that set out the case for the coming economic collapse in excruciating detail. For those of you that are interested in getting prepared, I apologize in advance for the outline format of this article. To examine each of these points in detail would take an entire book. In fact, I am the co-author of a book that will soon be published that discusses many of these things in great depth. But you don’t have to wait for a book to get prepared. Mostly, it comes down to common sense. In this article, I share 89 common sense tips that will help you get prepared for the coming economic depression. Hopefully a lot of people will find these to be very helpful.
This first set of tips are 11 things that I strongly encourage my readers to do…
#1 Have An Emergency Fund – This is so important that I wrote an entire article about this recently.
#2 Don’t Put All Of Your Eggs Into One Basket – In addition to having an emergency fund, you will also want to have gold, silver and other hard assets. It is also a very good idea to keep a limited amount of cash at home in case you can’t access an ATM during a major emergency of some sort.
#3 Reduce Your Expenses And Get Out Of Debt – During a time of crisis you want to be as “lean and mean” as possible. If you simplify your life and reduce your debt load now, you will be in much better shape when the next economic depression does arrive.
#4 Move Your Money Away From Unsafe Investments – When the financial world falls apart, you don’t want your finances to be exposed. Markets tend to go down much faster than they go up, and during the next great financial crisis millions of Americans that have their life savings in stocks and bonds are going to get totally wiped out.
#5 Store Food And Supplies – Your dollars will never stretch farther than they do right now. You probably will not need emergency food and supplies in the short-term, but the truth is that none of us ever knows when a major emergency will strike. During 2014, my wife and I felt more of an urgency to stock up then ever before, and I hope that people are using this brief period of relative stability to do what they can to get prepared.
#6 Learn To Grow Your Own Food – Anything that you can do to become more independent of the system is a good thing. This includes growing your own food. And the truth is that some of the most expensive items in the grocery store these days are fresh fruits and vegetables.
#7 Defending Yourself And Your Family – As our world become increasingly unstable, people are going to become a lot more desperate. And desperate people do desperate things. You are going to need to have a plan for that.
#8 Move Away From The Big Cities If Possible – For a lot of people that are dependent on their current jobs, this is simply not possible right now. But if it is possible for you, this is something that I strongly recommend that you think about. Being stuck in the middle of a major city is not going to be a good place to be in the years ahead.
#9 Be Ready To Bug Out – There may come a time when you are forced to evacuate from your current location. This may happen with very short notice. If this ever does happen to you, the key will be to be prepared for it.
#10 Build A Community – Your neighbors and close friends can be an invaluable resource. A cord of multiple threads is not easily broken, and if you have people that you can depend upon during a crisis that can make a world of difference.
#11 Have A Back-Up Plan And Be Flexible – Mike Tyson once aptly observed that everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. The years ahead are going to require a great deal of flexibility, and you may find that the plans that you have made need to be altered. So don’t get fixated on just one approach.
When there is a major emergency, some of the most simple items suddenly become some of the most important.
The following are 11 items that I recommend that every household have on hand…
– an axe
– a can opener
– battery-powered radio
– extra batteries
– lighters or matches
– fire extinguisher
– sewing kit
– duct tape
And here are about a dozen more key items that should be on your list from Survival Mom…
- Lightsticks. You can pick up one of these every time you wander into a Home Depot. They don’t need batteries and can be hung around the neck with a string making it easier to spot everyone in your party when it gets dark. An alternative is the UVPaqlite, which never needs batteries.
- Wool socks and sweaters. People have literally frozen to death wearing their layers of cotton knit tees and hoodies. For true survival conditions, nothing beats wool.
- Upholstery needles and thread. What if a sleeping bag or tent rips and you have no way of mending it?
- Roll of quarters. Handy for phone calls, although payphones aren’t as common as they used to be, and laundromats, but if you put it in a sock and wield it like a sling, you have a handy-dandy weapon! If the quarters are pre-1965 and 90% silver, you have a whole new type of currency.
- Pencils. Forget the pens. They can run out of ink and freeze in cold weather. With a pocket knife, you’ll always have a sharp pencil.
- Super glue. Professional hockey players always have this on hand to seal up small cuts, and the glue itself is harmless. Unless you get it in your eye, like I did. But that’s a story for a different type of post!
- Rubber bands. String just doesn’t cut it when what you really need is a rubber band
- Tampons in a cardboard tube. Did you know a tampon can be fit snugly into a bullet wound? Guys on the battlefield carry these with them. Just be aware that the blood in the wound will begin to clot. Leave it to a medical professional to remove the tampon from the wound. They’re also good for kindling.
- Paracord belt. It’s an accessory and survival tool in one!
- Waterproof wrist watch. Makes perfect sense. I had just never thought of it.
- Animal repellant trash bags. Use these when you’re camping and animals will stay the heck away from your trash.
- Safety pins.
- Dental floss. Besides helping to keep your teeth clean, it makes sturdy thread for mending.
But don’t just get focused on acquiring things.
Some of the most important elements of preparation involve things that we need to do for ourselves.
Acclaimed survival expert James Wesley Rawles has put together a “personal list” of things that everyone should think about before a crisis strikes. A lot of these things are topics that “preppers” never seem to write about…
Prescription and nonprescription medications.
Keep dentistry up to date.
Any elective surgery that you’ve been postponing
Work off that gut.
Stay in shape.
Back strength and health—particularly important, given the heavy manual tasks required for self-sufficiency.
Educate yourself on survival topics, and practice them. For example, even if you don’t presently live at your retreat, you should plant a vegetable garden every year. It is better to learn through experience and make mistakes now, when the loss of crop is an annoyance rather than a crucial event.
“Comfort” items to help get through high stress times. (Books, games, CDs, chocolates, etc.)
If you have a serious illness or disease, that is going to need to be one of your top priorities when making preparations for the coming crisis.
This next tip comes from an excellent article that Dave Hodges published recently…
If you or your family has a chronic health condition, it is critical that you have 6 months to a year in medicine. Also, you should research natural alternatives to treatment for health conditions in case you are not able to meet this goal due to the inability to obtain prescriptions. Don’t forget to obtain some pain medication and antibiotics in case of unforeseen emergencies.
Probably one of the most popular topics for preppers to write about is food storage.
But those that are new to prepping are often very confused about how to get started.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. If you start out by focusing on staples that you eat all the time, you should be in great shape. The following are some recommendations about food storage that Pat Henry of the Prepper Journal has shared…
- Rice – First off, buy a 50lb. bag of rice. These contain 504 servings and I don’t know too many people who won’t eat rice. It is simple to cook and stores for years if you keep it cool and dry. This bag at Sam’s costs about $19 now.
- Beans – Next buy a bag of dry beans. This will check off the Beans part of your Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids list. A good size bag is about $5 and makes 126 servings. Buy two if you think your family would like them.
- Canned meat – Cans are great for fruits and vegetables and anyone can find something they will eat. For canned meat, I recommend tuna or chicken because it tastes a heck of a lot better than Spam and you can easily mix that into your rice. For the meat you will need approximately 35 cans. Each can has about 3 servings and this will be the most costly, but they last over a year usually and your family probably eats chicken or tuna on a semi-regular basis anyway so restocking this should be simple.
- Canned Vegetables – you will need about 40 cans of vegetables and again this can be whatever your family will eat. Expect to pay around a dollar each so $40 for veggies to last your family a month.
- Canned Fruit – again, simple fruits that your family will eat. These can even be fruit cocktail if that is the safest thing. At Costco they have the #10 cans of fruit like pears or apple slices and each of these has 25 servings. 5 of these will cost about $25 and give your family their daily dose of fruit.
- Oatmeal – Good old-fashioned oatmeal is simple to cook and store. A normal container has 30 servings each so purchase about 4 of these and your family won’t starve for breakfast. At $2 each that is about $8 for breakfast for a month for a family of four. Could you exchange Pop-tarts? Maybe, but I find oatmeal more filling and less likely to be snacked on.
- Honey– Honey is a miracle food really as it will never go bad if you keep it dry and cool. Honey will last you forever and Sam’s has large containers that hold 108 servings. You can use this in place of sugar to satisfy the sweet tooth. Honey even has medicinal properties and you can use this to add some flavor to your oatmeal for breakfast.
- Salt – Same as honey, salt will never go bad if you keep it dry and helps the flavor of anything. You can buy a big box of salt for around $1 and that will last your whole family a month easily.
- Vitamins – I recommend getting some multivitamins to augment your nutrition in the case of a disaster or emergency. Granted, rice and beans aren’t the best and you won’t be getting as many nutrients from canned fruit and vegetables so the vitamins help to fill in the gaps and keep you healthy. One big bottle costs about $8. You will need to get a kids version too if you have children small enough that they can’t or won’t swallow a big multivitamin.
And as I mentioned above, another key to getting prepared is self-defense. If you make all the preparations in the world, but somebody comes along and steals them from you, they won’t end up doing you any good.
The following are some basic tips about home security from prepping expert Todd Sepulveda…
Front Door – Your front door is a layer. But it shouldn’t be your only layer. Besides reinforcing the strike plate with 2 inch screws, you should have a solid deadbolt. Another layer could be a storm door with a lock or even burglar bars. A good latch is valuable too! If you want to add even more layers, utilizing a security door bar is a good idea. But you don’t only want to make sure that your front door is securely layered. Take some time to layer all the doors in your home.
Windows – Every window has a lock. But you can add a layer by including sliding window locks for about $5. Other options would include tint or blinds, which would make it harder for someone to look inside your house.
Burglar Alarm – A burglar alarm is a serious layer. Alarms can be monitored by an alarm company or they can be self-monitored. Self-monitored systems have greatly advanced and will even allow you to view your home on your smartphone.
Dogs – A dog or dogs can be a great layer, especially if they bark. My dogs alert me the minute someone is in the front of the yard. They run and bark at the door and don’t stop until I open it. Outside dogs are a layer to your perimeter. A big dog on the other side of the fence will make any criminal think twice.
Outside Lights – Lights that are mounted on the outside of your home, especially ones that are triggered by motion sensors are a must! Roaches run when you turn on the lights! Someone who is watching your house will not want to approach it if they know the lights are going to draw attention to them.
Outside Landscaping – Bushes can be a layer around windows. It is important that you don’t create an environment that will create a hiding place for someone to lay in waiting. Make sure that the bushes you choose to plant are thorny and cause a lot of discomfort if someone wants to go through them.
Personal Defense – A firearm is a layer that you would want to have if needed. If you want to use something that is not so deadly, you can always pick up a can of ColdSteel Inferno to spray in someone’s face. Having a few of these cans hidden in different parts of the house is a good idea.
Safe Room – A safe room would be a last ditch layer. Some people are putting them into their homes. If this is a scenario you want to take, you should research the necessary components for a “safe” safe room.
Neighborhood Watch – Although a Neighborhood Watch isn’t just focused on your home, it is a layer that could cause the bad guys to go looking in a different neighborhood altogether. Neighborhoods that have a Neighborhood Watch usually post signs in the entrances of their neighborhood.
Neighbors – Even if you don’t have a Neighborhood Watch, you should get to know your neighbors, especially those pesky ones that stay in everyone’s business…because they are going to keep a lookout! You gotta take some bad with the good!
Street Lights – Sticking with your neighborhood, it would be a good idea to immediately report any street lights that are out to the city or county that manages them. Again, light causes the roaches to run for cover!
Signs – Don’t underestimate the power of a cheap sign. A sign on a fence that reads “Beware of Dog” or a Security company sign on the front lawn somewhere will cause the bad guys to think twice before attempting to break into your house.
If you do need to leave your home during a crisis, you should have a “bug out bag” ready for each member of your family.
The following are 7 key items that Survival Cache recommends including in each bug out bag…
5. First Aid Kit
6. Basic Gear
Finally, it is important to remember that nobody is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes.
The following are 14 common mistakes that Backdoor Survival says a lot of preppers make…
1. Failure to inventory stored food supplies
2. Failure to perform a risk analysis and prepping for the most likely disruptive events first
3. Preparing mostly to bug out rather than bugging in
4. Failure to evacuate at just the right time
5. Having the gear but not knowing how to use it
6. Underestimating other humans as a threat
7. Spending your entire budget on gear instead of on food, water, and medical supplies
8. Lacking the knowledge to properly store your food supplies
9. Buying gear and supplies while ignoring the need to develop skills
10. Relying only on yourself and ignoring like-minded members of your community
11. Just because someone else does something does not mean that you should do it to
12. Falling victim to prepper procrastination
13. Obsessing about being behind the curve-ball
14. Forgetting that there is a life beyond prepping
Are there any additions that you would make to this list of tips?
Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…
The too big to fail banks have a larger share of the U.S. banking industry than they have ever had before. So if having banks that were too big to fail was a “problem” back in 2008, what is it today? As you will read about below, the total number of banks in the United States has fallen to a brand new all-time record low and that means that the health of the too big to fail banks is now more critical to our economy than ever. In 1985, there were more than 18,000 banks in the United States. Today, there are only 6,891 left, and that number continues to drop every single year. That means that more than 10,000 U.S. banks have gone out of existence since 1985. Meanwhile, the too big to fail banks just keep on getting even bigger. In fact, the six largest banks in the United States (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) have collectively gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years. If even one of those banks collapses, it would be absolutely crippling to the U.S. economy. If several of them were to collapse at the same time, it could potentially plunge us into an economic depression unlike anything that this nation has ever seen before.
Incredibly, there were actually more banks in existence back during the days of the Great Depression than there is today. According to the Wall Street Journal, the federal government has been keeping track of the number of banks since 1934 and this year is the very first time that the number has fallen below 7,000…
The number of federally insured institutions nationwide shrank to 6,891 in the third quarter after this summer falling below 7,000 for the first time since federal regulators began keeping track in 1934, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
And the number of active bank branches all across America is falling too. In fact, according to the FDIC the total number of bank branches in the United States fell by 3.2 percent between the end of 2009 and June 30th of this year.
Unfortunately, the closing of bank branches appears to be accelerating. The number of bank branches in the U.S. declined by 390 during the third quarter of 2013 alone, and it is being projected that the number of bank branches in the U.S. could fall by as much as 40 percent over the next decade.
Can you guess where most of the bank branches are being closed?
If you guessed “poor neighborhoods” you would be correct.
According to Bloomberg, an astounding 93 percent of all bank branch closings since late 2008 have been in neighborhoods where incomes are below the national median household income…
Banks have shut 1,826 branches since late 2008, and 93 percent of closings were in postal codes where the household income is below the national median, according to census and federal banking data compiled by Bloomberg.
It turns out that opening up checking accounts and running ATM machines for poor people just isn’t that profitable. The executives at these big banks are very open about the fact that they “love affluent customers“, and there is never a shortage of bank branches in wealthy neighborhoods. But in many poor neighborhoods it is a very different story…
About 10 million U.S. households lack bank accounts, according to a study released in September by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. An additional 24 million are “underbanked,” using check-cashing services and other storefront businesses for financial transactions. The Bronx in New York City is the nation’s second most underbanked large county—behind Hidalgo County in Texas—with 48 percent of households either not having an account or relying on alternative financial providers, according to a report by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, an advocacy organization for lower-income Americans.
And if you are waiting for a whole bunch of new banks to start up to serve these poor neighborhoods, you can just forget about it. Because of a whole host of new rules and regulations that have been put on the backs of small banks over the past several years, it has become nearly impossible to start up a new bank in the United States. In fact, only one new bank has been started in the United States in the last three years.
So the number of banks is going to continue to decline. 1,400 smaller banks have quietly disappeared from the U.S. banking industry over the past five years alone. We are witnessing a consolidation of the banking industry in America that is absolutely unprecedented.
Just consider the following statistics. These numbers come from a recent CNN article…
-The assets of the six largest banks in the United States have grown by 37 percent over the past five years.
-The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets. The six largest banks now account for 67 percent of those assets and all of the other banks account for only 33 percent of those assets.
-Approximately 1,400 smaller banks have disappeared over the past five years.
-JPMorgan Chase is roughly the size of the entire British economy.
-The four largest banks have more than a million employees combined.
-The five largest banks account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States.
-Bank of America accounts for about a third of all business loans all by itself.
-Wells Fargo accounts for about one quarter of all mortgage loans all by itself.
-About 12 percent of all cash in the United States is held in the vaults of JPMorgan Chase.
As you can see, without those banks we do not have a financial system.
Our entire economy is based on debt, and if those banks were to disappear the flow of credit would dry up almost completely. Without those banks, we would rapidly enter an economic depression unlike anything that the United States has seen before.
It is kind of like a patient that has such an advanced case of cancer that if you try to kill the cancer you will inevitably also kill the patient. That is essentially what our relationship with these big banks is like at this point.
Unfortunately, since the last financial crisis the too big to fail banks have become even more reckless. Right now, four of the too big to fail banks each have total exposure to derivatives that is well in excess of 40 TRILLION dollars.
Keep in mind that U.S. GDP for the entire year of 2012 was just 15.7 trillion dollars and the U.S. national debt is just 17 trillion dollars.
So when you are talking about four banks that each have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives you are talking about an amount of money that is almost incomprehensible.
Posted below are the figures for the four banks that I am talking about. I have written about this in the past, but in this article I have included the very latest updated numbers from the U.S. government. I think that you will agree that these numbers are absolutely staggering…
Total Assets: $1,947,794,000,000 (nearly 1.95 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $71,289,673,000,000 (more than 71 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,319,359,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $60,398,289,000,000 (more than 60 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $1,429,737,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $42,670,269,000,000 (more than 42 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $113,064,000,000 (just a shade over 113 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $43,135,021,000,000 (more than 43 trillion dollars)
Please don’t just gloss over those huge numbers.
Let them sink in for a moment.
Goldman Sachs has total assets worth approximately 113 billion dollars (billion with a little “b”), but they have more than 43 TRILLON dollars of total exposure to derivatives.
That means that the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 381 times greater than their total assets.
Most Americans do not understand that Wall Street has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the world. The big banks are being incredibly reckless with our money, and if they fail it will bring down the entire economy.
The biggest chunk of these derivatives contracts that Wall Street banks are gambling on is made up of interest rate derivatives. According to the Bank for International Settlements, the global financial system has a total of 441 TRILLION dollars worth of exposure to interest rate derivatives.
When that Ponzi scheme finally comes crumbling down, there won’t be enough money on the entire planet to fix it.
We had our warning back in 2008.
The too big to fail banks were in the headlines every single day and our politicians promised to fix the problem.
But instead of fixing it, the too big to fail banks are now 37 percent larger and our economy is more dependent on them than ever before.
And in their endless greed for even larger paychecks, they have become insanely reckless with all of our money.
Mark my words – there is going to be a derivatives crisis.
When it happens, we are going to see some of these too big to fail banks actually fail.
At that point, there will be absolutely no hope for the U.S. economy.
We willingly allowed the too big to fail banks to become the core of our economic system, and now we are all going to pay the price.
The unemployment rate in the eurozone is higher than it has ever been before. This week we learned that eurozone unemployment came in at an all-time high of 12.2 percent for September. Back in January 2012, it was sitting at just 10.4 percent. So anyone that believes that “things are getting better” in Europe is just being delusional. In fact, the economic depression in Europe just keeps getting deeper. The funny thing is that the mainstream media will barely call what is going on in Europe a “recession” even though the unemployment rates in both Spain and Greece are now much higher than anything that the United States ever experienced during the “Great Depression” of the 1930s. There haven’t been as many headlines about the financial crisis in Europe lately because the ECB has been papering over the debt problems of the periphery (at least for the moment), but the economic conditions on the ground for average Europeans just continue to get even worse. Later on in this article, you will read about a 25-year-old Spanish man with three college degrees that moved to London in a desperate search for a job who is now cleaning up poop for a living. The economic collapse of Europe continues to march on, and there is no end in sight.
All you have to do is look at the latest unemployment numbers to realize that things are getting worse in Europe.
In Italy, the unemployment rate is up to 12.5 percent.
In January 2012, less than two years ago, it was sitting at just 8.9 percent.
In Greece, the unemployment rate is up to an astounding 27.6 percent.
In January 2012, it was sitting at just 21.4 percent.
In Spain, the unemployment rate is up to 26.6 percent.
In January 2012, it was sitting at just 22.8 percent, and all the way back in January 2008 it was just 8.6 percent.
The youth unemployment statistics in the eurozone are even more horrifying…
Unemployment among the under-25s rose by 22,000 in September to 3,548,000 – nudging up youth jobless rate to 24.1%. In France, the youth jobless rate jumped from 25.6% to 26.1%, while in Italy it increased from 40.2% to 40.4%.
But as bad as those numbers are, they are nothing compared to what is going on in Spain and Greece. In Spain, the youth unemployment rate is up to 56.5 percent, and in Greece the youth unemployment rate is up to 57.3 percent.
And of course unemployment is not the only problem that the European economy is dealing with right now. The following are some more facts about the European economy that show that the economic depression in Europe just keeps getting deeper…
-European car sales are on pace to hit a 23 year low in 2013.
-The percentage of “bad loans” in Spain has soared to a new all-time record high.
-The number of mortgage applications in Spain has fallen 90 percent since the peak of the market.
-Citigroup is projecting that the unemployment rate in Greece will reach 32 percent in 2015.
-Over the last several years, Italy has experienced the biggest collapse in GDP growth that it has ever seen. Overall, the GDP of Italy has contracted by about 8 percent since 2008.
-The number of unemployed workers in Cyprus is now five times higher than it was before the financial crisis of 2008.
-It is being projected that Spain’s debt to GDP ratio will rise to nearly 100 percent by the end of next year.
-The debt to GDP ratio of Portugal is already up to 123 percent.
-The debt to GDP ratio of Italy is already up to 127 percent.
-Even though Greece has implemented a whole host of “austerity measures”, the debt to GDP ratio of Greece is now up to 156 percent.
But what these numbers cannot really communicate is the tremendous amount of pain and despair that millions upon millions of Europeans are experiencing right now.
For example, consider the story of Benjamin Serra Bosch, a 25-year-old Spanish man that moved to London in a desperate search for a job. He has three college degrees, including a Master’s Degree from the IEBS Business School in Barcelona. The following is a rough translation of a message that he recently posted on Facebook…
My name is Benjamín Serra, I have two bachelor degrees and a master’s degree, and I clean toilets.
No, it is not a joke. I do it to pay the rent for my room in London.
I’ve been working in a famous chain of cafes in the United Kingdom since May, and for the first time today, after 5 months working there, I see it clearly. I have been cleaning toilets. My thought was: “I received distinction in my two degrees and I clean other peoples’ poop in a country that isn’t my own.” Well, I also make coffee, clean the tables and wash cups.
And I am not ashamed to do so. Cleaning is a very decent job. What embarrasses me is having to do so because no one has given me an opportunity in Spain. Like me, there are many Spaniards, especially in London. “You are a plague,” I was told once here. And let’s not kid ourselves. We are not young people on an adventure to learn the language and have new experiences. We are immigrants.
I’ve always been very proud, I am not going to deny. Those who know me, you know. And I have to bust out a smile at customers who look over my shoulder as I am simply a “barista” (as they call it here). Some are so outrageous that it makes me want to pull out my University and master degrees and put them in their face. But it would not really do anything. It appears that those titles now only serve to clean the poop that I clean from the toilets in the cafe. A pity.
I thought that it deserved something better after putting so much effort in my academic life. It seems that I was wrong.
As economic conditions continue to decline all over Europe, anger and frustration with the “European experiment” continue to grow. UKIP’s Nigel Farage expressed these sentiments very eloquently during a speech on the 23rd of October when he stated that “what we are saying, large numbers of us from every single EU member state is: we don’t want that flag, we don’t want the anthem that you all stood so ram-rod straight for yesterday, we don’t want EU passports, we don’t want political union.”
Unfortunately, the elite of Europe are so obsessed with their little experiment that the only “solutions” to these economic problems that they are even willing to consider involve even more European integration.
And Americans certainly should not be looking down their noses at what is happening in Europe.
What is going on in Italy, France, Spain and Greece will be coming here soon enough. In fact, even during the midst of this so-called “economic recovery”, poverty continues to absolutely explode in the United States.
Economic conditions in both the United States and Europe have never even gotten close to where they were prior to 2008, and now the next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.
This is just the beginning. Things are going to get much worse in the years ahead.
The too big to fail banks are now much, much larger than they were the last time they caused so much trouble. The six largest banks in the United States have gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years. Meanwhile, 1,400 smaller banks have disappeared from the banking industry during that time. What this means is that the health of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley is more critical to the U.S. economy than ever before. If they were “too big to fail” back in 2008, then now they must be “too colossal to collapse”. Without these banks, we do not have an economy. The six largest banks control 67 percent of all U.S. banking assets, and Bank of America accounted for about a third of all business loans by itself last year. Our entire economy is based on credit, and these giant banks are at the very core of our system of credit. If these banks were to collapse, a brutal economic depression would be guaranteed. Unfortunately, as you will see later in this article, these banks did not learn anything from 2008 and are being exceedingly reckless. They are counting on the rest of us bailing them out if something goes wrong, but that might not happen next time around.
Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, our politicians have been running around proclaiming that they will not rest until they have fixed “the too big to fail problem”, but instead of fixing it those banks have rapidly gotten even larger. Just check out the following figures which come from the Los Angeles Times…
Just before the financial crisis hit, Wells Fargo & Co. had $609 billion in assets. Now it has $1.4 trillion. Bank of America Corp. had $1.7 trillion in assets. That’s up to $2.1 trillion.
And the assets of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the nation’s biggest bank, have ballooned to $2.4 trillion from $1.8 trillion.
We are witnessing a consolidation of the banking industry that is absolutely stunning. Hundreds of smaller banks have been swallowed up by these behemoths, and millions of Americans are finding that they have to deal with these banking giants whether they like it or not.
Even though all they do is move money around, these banks have become the core of our economic system, and they are growing at an astounding pace. The following numbers come from a recent CNN article…
-The assets of the six largest banks in the United States have grown by 37 percent over the past five years.
-The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets. The six largest banks now account for 67 percent of those assets and the other 6,934 banks account for only 33 percent of those assets.
-Approximately 1,400 smaller banks have disappeared over the past five years.
-JPMorgan Chase is roughly the size of the entire British economy.
-The four largest banks have more than a million employees combined.
-The five largest banks account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States.
As I discussed above, without these giant banks there is no economy. We should have never, ever allowed this to happen, but now that it has happened it is imperative that the American people understand this. The power of these banks is absolutely overwhelming…
One third of all business loans this year were made by Bank of America. Wells Fargo funds nearly a quarter of all mortgage loans. And held in the vaults of JPMorgan Chase is $1.3 trillion, which is 12% of our collective cash, including the payrolls of many thousands of companies, or enough to buy 47,636,496,885 of these NFL branded toaster ovens. Thanks for your business!
A lot of people tend to focus on many of the other threats to our economy, but the number one potential threat that our economy is facing is the potential failure of the too big to fail banks. As we saw in 2008, when they start to fail things can get really bad really fast.
And as I have written about so many times, the number one threat to the too big to fail banks is the possibility of a derivatives crisis.
Former Goldman Sachs banker and best selling author Nomi Prins recently told Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com that the global economy “could implode and have serious ramifications on the financial systems starting with derivatives and working on outward.” You can watch the full video of that interview right here.
And Nomi Prins is exactly right. Just like we witnessed in 2008, a derivatives panic can spiral out of control very quickly. Our big banks should have learned a lesson from 2008 and should have greatly scaled back their reckless betting.
Unfortunately, that has not happened. In fact, according to the OCC’s latest quarterly report on bank trading and derivatives activities, the big banks have become even more reckless since the last time I reported on this. The following figures reflect the new information contained in the latest OCC report…
Total Assets: $1,948,150,000,000 (just over 1.9 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $70,287,894,000,000 (more than 70 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,306,258,000,000 (a bit more than 1.3 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $58,471,038,000,000 (more than 58 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $1,458,091,000,000 (a bit more than 1.4 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $44,543,003,000,000 (more than 44 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $113,743,000,000 (a bit more than 113 billion dollars – yes, you read that correctly)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $42,251,600,000,000 (more than 42 trillion dollars)
That means that the total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 371 times greater than their total assets.
How in the world can anyone say that Goldman Sachs is not being incredibly reckless?
And remember, the overwhelming majority of these derivatives contracts are interest rate derivatives.
Wild swings in interest rates could set off this time bomb and send our entire financial system plunging into chaos.
After climbing rapidly for a couple of months, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasury bonds has stabilized for the moment.
But if that changes and interest rates start going up dramatically again, that is going to be a huge problem for these too big to fail banks.
And I know that a lot of you don’t have much sympathy for the big banks, but remember, if they go down we go down too.
These banks have been unbelievably reckless, but when they fail, we will all pay the price.